My name is Christina and I am a rising junior majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Business traveling with my dragon Julius De Boer. I am writing today from my desk at work here at the University of Bristol, where for the past six weeks I have been conducting research in an organometallics research lab under the supervision of Dr. Robin Bedford. I am working with iron synthesis and reactivity so much so that you can call me that “Iron Lady” at this point. Monday through Friday is pretty much work, work, work but that’s okay because I love what I’m doing wholeheartedly. Outside of work is the daunting idea that I’m actually away from home. I think I’m one of few of my kind as I was born in Greensboro, grew up in Greensboro, and decided to attend college in Greensboro. Leaving my parents was very hard as I’m an only child, so as you can imagine the attachment levels are unparalleled.
|Some highlights of my journey: Julius at the Roman Baths, souvenirs, and the snake table scene set from the Warner Bros. Studio Harry Potter|
Leaving them at the airport was so cliche. I cried my heart out and I saw my Dad cry for the first time. I was still homesick after my first week but things all started to change once I realized that I have to take advantage of my circumstances. During the second week I went to a barbecue held by the Chemistry department at the Uni, and confirmed what I already knew: alcohol and I do not mix. I also went to Stonehenge with the rest of the crew from the REU and oddly enough spent most of my time hanging with the cows that didn’t moo or move; they were almost statuesque.
I started to embrace the city of Bristol more and started doing daily walks to the Clifton Suspension bridge with Julius; he kept me going. I also spent a day at Weston-Super-Mare which is a beach just 30 minutes by train outside of Bristol. Julius wanted to get in the water, but British beaches are cold so that was a no go. I also went to the Roman Baths in Bath, and though the experience was phenomenal, a huge mishap took place here while taking a picture of Julius on the bridge. My wallet was stolen. Here I am, in another city, without my return train ticket, cash, cards, not even my key to get into my apartment, basically feeling stuck. I was able to get help and luckily a free train ride back home and everything started to turn out for the best. I was able to get everything back in order and my bank even rushed out my cards to me within 3 days.
After that disaster of a weekend, the next weekend I flew to Paris. I finally used AirBnb after seeing all of those commercials on TV. I was able to see the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, Louvre Museum, and The Pantheon. Paris was the best experience of my life I also went on cliche tourist bus tour sat on the top taking touristy videos. I also chose a return flight with a nine hour layover in Brussels, Belgium. My time in Brussels was a true culture shock, but the chocolate was just as amazing as they say. I had a chocolate-koek dubbel from Panos and it was amazing!
|Julius at Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, a view of Buckingham Palace, The London Bridge, Whoopi and I posing for the camera, Ronald Weasley’s horrid Yule Ball outfit, the “Ice” Sculpture, and the triple decker Knight Bus from Harry Potter.|
This past weekend I spent time in London, and saw Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and really enjoyed my time at Green Park which is just next to Buckingham Palace. I really loved traveling through London, because the underground and overground railways were so frequent. I also fulfilled my childhood dreams and went to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour. I remember when the Deathly Hallows came out in bookstores on July 21st and I made my mom get up early in the morning to take me to pick it up, and 8 years later I was able to envision all of my childhood dreams come to life.
I will say I’ve definitely matured during my time here. I went from crying and feeling homesick during the first week to flying to Paris alone during week 5, and living the Bristol life. I’m really sad to be leaving my research group here as I’ve made a mini family here, but I’m also excited to be returning home this weekend because things are just a bit more expensive here than I would wish, oh and there’s that thing called school less than two days after my flight lands.