Monday, June 2, 2014

Austin and Aireole in Manchester....and beyond!

Hello UNCG Honors College,

I'm sitting here on a couch in Rome with my dragon, Aireole (pronounced ah-ear-oh-lay, for all those unfamiliar with the ancient dialect of dragonian, Yerstra, and its pronunciation), and he and I are about to set out on part 2 of our adventure through the city. So far, Aireole and I have been all through the UK, Ireland, Morocco, Paris, Spain, and  now Italy. We'll be in Roma for another two days before heading up to Tuscany to teach French to a lovely Italian family who will be hosting us for nine days. After that it's on to Florence and Bologna before we fly into Warsaw, Poland to teach English ( and maybe even a little bit of Yerstra, if the Poles are lucky and Aireole feels up to it) for two weeks. Then to finish up our little European adventure we'll head over to Prague for a couple of days before heading back home to Manchester for one last week.
The Colosseum in Rome
So, I suppose I should back up a bit, huh? Aireole and I arrived bright and early into the Manchester airport on January 8, and what an adventure it has been since. Together, we found our way through the city, met the Mancunians, and sampled as much of the local culture as possible. 

There have been so many great moments, like the time we stumbled upon a lively bar called "The Whiskey Jar" in the artsy Norther Quarter of Manchester, where we met tons of native Mancunians who told us endless heaps of information about the incredible industrial history of the city and its unique integration of so many minority groups, and then... There were the less than stellar moments, like the time we got mugged and robbed on our way home from a night out. But hey, even that moment left us with some valuable information about British culture. Well, I suppose you learn new things all of the time.

Abe Lincoln in Manchester!
So much has happened and we've had so many different adventures in the UK and outside of it, that's it's becoming increasingly difficult to try and sum up our entire or even a piece of our aggregate study abroad experience in just a few paragraphs. But, if there's anything that studying abroad has taught me, it's that whatever the world throws at me, I should trust myself enough to find a way through it. As expansive as the world is, and with so much of it still left for me to see, we're not really all that different from everyone else.

Aireole's cousin, Nessie, on Loch Ness
I had an incredible time in Wales on an international student retreat to a a town called Llangollen, (Google it, lots to see and learn) and in just a few days, 23 students all from different cultures all around the world came together and really got a chance to discuss ideas of peace and international culture. I met some of the most amazing people there and it's likely that we'll stay in touch for many years to come. But perhaps the most valuable thing that came out of it, was the realization that with just a little bit of tolerance for the unknown, the "foreign" one can quickly begin to see how truly similar we all are, how our goals, or struggles, our dreams, all fit together quite seamlessly.
The Welsh countryside
Unfortunately, Aireole and I must get on with our gallivanting, but please, if you have questions let me know. We'd be happy to tell you as much as we can. 

Until we return, hope all is well back home!

Sincerely, Austin and Aireole