January, 2010

Reflecting Back

Sunday, January 10th, 2010

AliceT (2)Hi again, everyone! So after reading week the MBS International Society, which is the main group that organizes all the events for the MBS exchange students, took us to the Christmas Lighting in the city centre. It was a huge event, and there were celebrity appearances to help with the festivities, including Alexandra Burke from X Factor. At the end of the show when the lights came on there were even fireworks and it was just beautiful – a great way to start off the holiday season.

That weekend I also got to visit Oxford through the International Society, which is different from the MBS International Society; this group organized trips for all people new to Manchester, and isn’t just limited to MBS students or even Manchester Uni students. If you’re going to go to Manchester you should check out some of the trips they offer, since it’s usually cheaper than planning it yourself and they take care of everything for you.  You just have to show up. Anyways, Oxford was great, and I especially enjoyed seeing the sights where the Harry Potter movies were filmed!

The next weekend I visited Dublin, Ireland. It kind of reminded me of Seattle – everything was green and it rained a LOT but at the same time it looked very European. Despite the weather I loved Ireland; they also have really good souvenirs so be careful not to spend all of your money in their gift shops, like I did…

I also visited Paris and Madrid in the following weekends, and both were absolutely gorgeous. Although I don’t regret visiting any of these places, I would advise future exchange students to spread out your travels so that you have more time to write your papers at the end of term. I do admit it got a bit stressful towards the end but thankfully it was still manageable to get everything in on time.

During the last two weeks of the semester the MBS International Society was able to organize one last semi-formal dinner and party for all the exchange students which was a great way toAliceT see everyone for the last time.

Getting home turned out to be a nightmare though. Unfortunately, Manchester (and the rest of England) was hit with the most snow that they’ve seen in years (according to my British friend), and the Manchester Airport simply did not know how to deal with snow on their runway. In addition to that the east coast of the US was hit with a huge snow storm at the same time, so anyone who was from the east coast automatically had their flights canceled. I was scheduled to fly from Manchester to London and then from London directly to Seattle, but my Manchester to London connection was flat out canceled leaving me with no option but to purchase a train ticket and catch my connection that way.

Just a tip of advice: don’t pack a lot when you go from Seattle to Manchester, because two suitcases is a lot to carry, and you never know what might happen, like in this case. Thankfully London wasn’t having any problems and I was able to catch my flight home without any further mishaps.

AliceT (1)Reflecting back on this whole experience, I feel so happy that I got to participate in this opportunity. The people I’ve met, the places I’ve visited, and the things that I’ve seen have all been so amazing, and I truly won’t ever forget this for as long as I live. Though towards the end of the semester all of us were a bit homesick and longing to go home, now we all can’t wait to go back! So if you’re going to study abroad, remember to cherish each and every moment as it’s simply all over much too soon.

Being Back

Monday, January 4th, 2010

faustinoI am back home and already missing Pamplona. Spanish tortillas, two hour lunches in the cafeteria, and weekend adventures in the countryside are the moments that remain in my mind. The experience was fun. But more than fun, it was valuable.

Leaving my friends in Seattle and meeting students from around the world allowed me to gain a better understanding of human relationships. I met people who gave me an enormous amount of trust, which I reciprocated, despite us having interacted for only moments. These acquaintances hosted me in their homes, more than once giving me a key to the front door.  Being able to contrast those interactions with relationships in my daily life in Seattle has led me to look at those relationships in a new way. Not only has traveling given me new perspectives, it has also inspired me to host travelers in Seattle, which I hope to do soon. Perhaps I can help others explore this city while I do so myself.