Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Rachel and Lord Wallace in Carmarthen, Wales!

One word, three syllables, ready? PO-TA-TOES. Every day, twice a day (minimum) -they eat them fried, mashed, hashed, roasted, boiled, tatered…. The list goes on and on, the point is, the Welsh absolutely cannot get enough of their potatoes. So much that I’m sure they give the Irish a run for their money. Why I feel like that is the most shocking thing about where I am I don’t know, but it is.

My dragon, Lord Wallace, and I are currently studying abroad in Carmarthen, Wales. And from what I can tell so far it’s a small country that is highly passionate about three things:

1.    Potatoes
2.    Sheep (they out populate the people!)
3.    Castles (there’s loads of them…)

I have a Welsh flag hanging on my wall, and it reminds me so much of the Lloyd International Honors College, seeing as it carries the same flag. It gets me to thinking about the program that cultivated such a strong desire to send members of its community out into the world. I am so thankful to be one of those members and am connected with so many others as they document their adventures around the world. It’s even more insane to think that four months ago I didn’t even have my passport, and now I’m halfway around the world!

When Lord Wallace isn't enjoying potatoes, he quite enjoys a delicious Welsh cake with his tea.

We internationals have been here for a little over a month; it feels like a lifetime and a blink of an eye all at the same time. In the first few weeks I was here I got really sick (think: terrible cough, losing my voice sick) and for the first week or so I couldn’t talk to other people or even use basic ASL (English Sign Language is way different). But, it was a blessing because it meant less talking and more listening and more watching. Listening to all the stories and accents people have to share and watching the rolling hills that lay in my backyard. This country is beyond compare, even if I had been able to speak, I would’ve been speechless anyway over how astonishing it all is. I have fallen in love with the simplest things like how the small cars zip through the tiny streets, the randomness of the weather and its Dippin’ Dot like hail, and even the way people seem to light up with just a smile.  If a picture is worth a thousands words, there aren’t enough pictures in the world to even begin to describe how beautifully charming I am finding Carmarthen to be. Believe me when I say: the grass really is greener on the other side!

In terms of education here, I’m still trying to understand it. I’m a theatre major and so we take one class roughly each month. Meaning, I’m just about to finish my first class. It’s been quite a confusing process as we have had a few mandatory lectures, but for most of the time I have been in charge of my own work and schedules. I’ve never been given this much freedom in my education and I’m still a little cautious of it. Explaining the education system to the students here is quite amusing too, they’re intrigued by the fact that we can have double majors and minors and extra-circulars. Yet at the same time are baffled by attendance policies, busy-work, and the lack of tea times built into lectures….

White Sands Bay.  My favorite place I've been to visit so far!

 My favorite thing about being abroad is the realization and appreciation of the small things in life. You find some true friends, both within your international group and in the friendships you choose to keep up with back home despite the time zones. You learn to miss certain foods and brands all while discovering and falling in love with new foods and brands (I’m talking to you, Honey Hoops…_). And in being here I know there are so many things that I have taken for granted: having a car, a currency with not so many coins, a proper salad, water fountains pretty much everywhere, certain holidays, 3-ringed binders (it’s only 2 here), my dog, and dare I say it…even the UNCG Caf. Yet, while I miss all of these things and more about being home, I know that I would not trade this experience for anything else in the world. Because at the end of the day whether it is finally getting to go for a run, finding your way to a store for food, making a new friend, or figuring out the difference between a Welsh accent and an English one…. I learn and experience something new here each and every day. I am so grateful to be able to learn OUTSIDE of a classroom; to learn about a different culture, my field of study, and most importantly - more about who I am.

I hope everyone back home is doing well and staying warm! Enjoy all of the snow!

Rachael and Lord Wallace
Trinity St. David
Carmarthen, Wales

P.S. – If you plan on going abroad, invest in a selfie stick! You may look like a dork but it’s a great way to meet people and have some pretty fantastic photos!