Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Mushu and Jessica in Plymouth!

Hello from Plymouth, UK!  My name is Jessica, and my dragon Mushu and I are here at Plymouth University studying English and Creative Writing. 
Meet Mushu!
First things first, Plymouth is gorgeous.  I'm constantly finding myself in a state of amazement over things that aren't really a big deal.  Things as simple as finding out they sell peanut butter here, learning new phrases, or discovering new culinary happiness (helloooo sausage rolls!!) completely make my day.  Walking pretty much anywhere here leaves me in awe because Plymouth is easily one of the most beautiful places I've ever been.  It has the perfect blend of old and new, urban and rural, busy and quiet.  I love being able to look out my window to see the sun setting over the beautiful buildings on campus and then walking less than ten minutes to see that exact same sunset over the ocean.  

Nearing sunset at Smeaton's Tower, the Plymouth lighthouse

The people here are super nice and my professors are great.  The education system is set up differently here than it is back home.  Two of my modules have an hour lecture once a week and then a two hour seminar also once a week.  The seminars are smaller and have about twenty people in them so that you can talk and share ideas.  My third module is a three hour workshop.  My professor for that module leads a seminar type discussion for the first part and then we break into smaller groups to critique each other's writing samples.  I've found this to be immensely helpful and have improved my writing drastically in the month I've been here.  The professors in all three modules genuinely care about the students and what they have to say.  I feel like this instills confidence in the students to speak up during class and share their thoughts.  I don't feel like a number here, I feel like I matter.

In addition to the beautiful scenery and academic challenge, Plymouth also offers many opportunities to explore not only around Plymouth itself but also different places beyond the city.  A lot of the international students are going on a trip to Amsterdam in March and the English department is taking several students to Bath to study Jane Austen.  Within the city there is an aquarium, a mall, and dozens of cafes and pubs.  There is literally something for every taste here, and there are also many opportunities for you to broaden your horizons.
From a trip to the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth
There is one drawback to living here.  The seagulls are terrifying.  Mushu refuses to go anywhere near them.  These seagulls are about three times the size of American seagulls and MEAN.  If you're outside for long you are almost guaranteed to get up close and personal with them and they WILL attack you for food (just don't carry chips out in the open....).  
Thankfully, no seagulls here at the moment.
I'm at a loss of words to tell you just how imperfectly perfect this place is.  I can't describe all the sights and sounds and do it justice.  My flatmates are great, the food is wonderful, and I absolutely love it here.  I've got four months left and I already know it's going to be extraordinarily difficult for me to leave.
Jessica Carelock
Plymouth University
Plymouth, United Kingdom

You can also follow Jessica's travels at Teatime Ponderings