The Art of Maintaining a (British) Friendship


My gang and I outside a restaurant we went to for my birthday

I’ve hit the last stretch of my stay in Lancaster. I have less than three weeks left in England, and I’ve shifting between excitement, anxiety, and sadness. I obviously miss my friends and family back home in the States, and I miss some certain things, including driving, a wide selection of ready-meals, and strangely enough, my university.

It’s definitely been a change in schedule from what I’m used to. Universities in the States expect a lot more contact time between professors and students whereas here in the U.K., we see our professors at the most three times per week. There is generally one to two hours of lectures per week as well as an hour or two of seminar or workshops. Assignments are typically limited to two or three major essays and exams at the end of the year. Daily homework almost does not exist. It was certainly a system I was not used to. So, in a sense, I (almost) miss having more contact time with my professors, especially since I get on with them very well.

But, simply put, I will miss England. I have made some incredible friends in Lauren, Ruth, Danielle, Emma, Emma, and Sammie. I feel that I’m leaving in the middle of the formation of these potential life-lasting relationships. And, I’m regretting that I’m not going to have enough time to really get to know my other flatmates Jade, Vanessa, Bal, Jav, Lucy, and Kate. Everyone is great…and that is a serious understatement. I’ve met people in the History Society that I would love to hang with more and attend more functions. They share that same craziness that only historians and those interested in history truly understand. 🙂 I’ve picked up on some interesting quirks Brits have that no American has—it’s rather inexplicable, but there is definitely a different mentality here than what we find in the States. At the same time, however, we are so extraordinarily similar that it startles me sometimes. And, even moreso, there is a certain someone I would really have liked to become better friends with. . .

Ruth, Lauren, and I always joke about my not going home, that I’m either going to live in the basement of their flat next year or that they’re going to kidnap me. We also discuss roadtripping around the U.S. and my return to England. One has to be realistic though. I’m leaving, and I won’t have the means to get back for a very long time. I’m consoling myself with the fact that I am returning, however.  I’ve been looking at graduate programs in the U.K., and I’ve found some programs at East Anglia, Dundee in Scotland, Cardiff in Wales, London, Leicester, and Glasgow. I very well may be returning for an education in the near future. But on that same note, I have to be realistic. The money isn’t just going to fall out of the sky. There are scholarships available, such as the Fulbright and Marshall scholarships, but those are extremely competitive. A simple visit now and then may have to suffice until I can move over here. . .

Yes, I said move. Now that I have had a taste of British life and culture, I want to return permanently. It would not happen now, not for another five or ten years even, but I want to return. I discovered a part of me here, and I wantto develop that person I’m becoming. . .

All that aside, the question remains as to how I’m going to maintain my close friendships here. The first thing to do is to spend as much time with my girls as I can and cement the bonds I’ve slowly been forming. We have great memories already, from my birthday to a surprise Thanksgiving dinner to making pancakes and watching Desperate Housewives to random nights out in Lancaster. Lauren, Ruth, and I are going home to Lauren’s in Staffordshire this weekend. So, we are well on our way to creating a lasting bond. I mean, there are some shared experiences here that I cannot be a part of,  such as the search for a house, but in the long run, it won’t matter. Then, after I leave, there will be Skype and Facebook and of course the odd letter here and there.

For my friends back home, I’m not neglecting you. I doubt they know how much I miss them and wish they were here to experience what I’m experiencing. Megan has to a certain extent. She dumped her luggage on me and went to Ireland for a week (I’m still jealous) so it’s good to know I have some use as a friend after all. 🙂 But she got to see a little bit of my life, both social and academic, whilst I’ve been in Lancaster. And for those who I have and haven’t talked to recently, Kelly, Autumn, Justin, Brandon, Sam, Lauren, Heather, Amanda, Devan, Jenny, Sheena, Breka, and everyone else I’m forgetting, you really are not that far from my mind.

So, I have been rather conflicted. Given the choice (and the proper visa), I would be here a year, but life calls me back to the States. I have a mess of odds and ends to figure out, namely that of the rest of my life (for the spring semester anyhow). Anyone who knows me well knows I’m not happy unless I’m plotting someone’s demise. . .or another trip.

I have less than three weeks left here. I have to make the most of it because, honestly, no one else is going to do it for me.

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