Sunday started as my Sundays in Indiana do; church with my family. I’ve gotten in the habit of calling Sue and Pat “my English parents” in conversation since I speak about them so much and it’s how they treat me. They have made me feel very much like their American daughter and that their house is my home, too. So I genuinely started my Sunday how I do in Indiana; church with my family.
We drove out of town and through lots of fields and countryside to get to their church. It was nestled off the road (coincidentally next to a prison, and my church at home is also next to a prison) and looked wonderfully picturesque with the blue sky and flowers surrounding.
They sang different hymns and had some different prayers, but at the end of the day, it was still a group of people coming together to learn about God and worship who He is together. It was also Mothering Sunday (their Mother’s Day is in April while ours is in May) and they gave flowers to every lady in attendance.
The pastor (not sure if they call him pastor, that’s my word for him) had a lovely message about how we have two hearts (like Doctor Who, which was a very British comparison). One is our anatomic heart, and the other is our heart of love. He spoke about how important people throughout history have thought our heart is, and how it has become more than an anatomic muscle. It’s the place of our happiness, pain, excitement, sorrow, and of course, love. He discussed how the Egyptians would preserve the heart during the mummification process and throw the brain our with the rest. He continued with, and I quote, “They didn’t believe the brain was of any importance. The brain wasn’t used, people thought they didn’t use their brain. Some people today are still this way. *crowd laughter* Oh those Americans. I’M ONLY KIDDING!” Little did he know there was an American in the pews, which probably doesn’t happen too often.
I went and introduced myself after the service saying “Hi, I’m Maddie, I’m from America.” To which he immediately started laughing, shaking his head, and apologizing. I was laughing with him and understood he meant no harm, but it does make me feel sad that this can be the way Americans are thought of. I hope he left with a better impression of an American than he came with in the morning!
Once we left church, Sue and Pat took me on a drive through the areas surrounding Felpham. They made sure to make our first drive-by Arundel Castle. Yes, Arundel. Like from Frozen (Adam, one of my teachers, makes fun of me because I pronounce it the way they do in Frozen). It was the castle I saw on my first train ride to Felpham from the airport, and both of them know how much I love castles. It was stunning, and I plan on getting out of the car and walking every inch of it that I can very soon!
We drove past a local mill, a few small villages with loads of history, and lots of English countryside. We went to a pull-off with a hill called the Trundle. At the top of the Trundle, you can see for miles around of West Sussex (the county I live in). So in our Sunday best (Sue was in heels, so she had to take her time) we made our way to the top so I could see the view. The day was perfect for it, and it was amazing how much we could see.
Once we were home, I decided to take a walk down by the sea and enjoy the good weather. I went down to the Boat House and stood in line for 20 minutes for an ice cream cone. I know in my last blog that I said eating alone wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but this time was bittersweet. It was Mother’s Day, so everyone was out with their moms, sisters, daughters, and families. I keep very busy here, so I typically don’t give myself time to be homesick, but standing in that line by myself surrounded by so many happy families made it a bit hard to be anything but homesick. Luckily, I was waiting in line for ice cream and that is a proven cure for anything wrong in your life.
After my walk, I went home, ate dinner, and went to bed ready to start my second week!
NEXT STOP, THE HIGHLIGHT ZONE
- I wore one of my new tops and used my new travel mug. Then, I spilt coffee on my shirt the second I walked out the door.
- I taught one of the classes about hurricanes because Lisa (the other Year 5 teacher) said they listen to my accent better.
- The firemen came and spoke to Year 5 about fire safety and the kiddos got a little silly in the fire truck.
- I wore another one of my new tops and 4 of my girls came up and told me it was pretty and it made me happy.
- The students were super curious about the differences between hurricanes and tornados, so I was able to talk to them about tornados for a while. They had so many questions and were so intrigued!
- Pat is on the committee for the Conservation Society, and they had a social event at The Fox Inn. So I have officially been in my first English pub! They had lots of history of the town, and it was lovely to see how much appreciation these people have for the village.
- I met my first American since I’ve been here! She was visiting from California. It was honestly weird to hear another accent like mine.
- After the social event, I went down to the Sailing Club (Pat and Sue are social members) with some of their friends and ended up chatting with a wonderful lady named Karen the whole night. If you remember the couple and their son (Joyce and Lionel, and their son Andrew) I had dinner with on Saturday, it’s their daughter! Her son is going to be working at a camp for 4 months in Wisconsin, so we chatted about how amazing these experiences are, Chinese food, dogs, and castles. Again, I’m so lucky for the amazing people I’ve met!
- Lionel and Joyce invited me over to their house next Thursday for dinner before I head off for Easter Break. Again, so lucky! (:
- One of my students told me I look like Anna Kendrick. Well, “the main girl in Pitch Perfect.” I don’t get it either, but he said our “hair is styled the same.” Whatever, I’ll take it!
- I was also told I look like I’m about to ride a horse today (apparently my vest was very equestrianesque). I’m on a roll.
- My teacher told the joke “What’s the fastest food? SCONE!” But with their accent it sounds like “‘s gone” so I got a kick out of it.
- Our school staff is putting on a pantomime, which is a sort of humorous play/musical. Typically it is based off of a known fairytale (ours is Snow White and the Eight Elves) and one of the lead female characters is played my a man (my teacher Adam is Snow White’s nurse). They have lots of audience interaction and play popular songs for the kids to sing along to. My personal favorite is What Makes You Beautiful, obviously, so anytime I walk through Year 1 or Year 2 (Kindergarten & 1st grade) they’re ALWAYS singing it as practice and my heart feels like it will burst.
- I’m holding scripts for the Elves during the pantomime, and today we had our final dress rehearsal. It. Was. Hilarious.
- One of my students called me “Miss Stunning Stahl” during register (attendance) and continued to tell me later that she can’t get over how pretty I am. If you need a boost of self-confidence or some love in your life, become a teacher!
- The students have choir on Friday and one of their songs was History by One Direction, so all of Year 5 turned to me and said “Miss Stahl it’s your favorite band!” and continued to sing it at me. ❤
- I fixed my phone’s SIM card so that now I can use the data I’ve been paying for! All on my own!!! This is probably irrelevant to this post but it meant a lot to me.
- I watched Mary Poppins as I was packing for this weekend and almost cried at the end because she loves those kids so much but her job was just to help their relationship with their dad and prepare them for their future and then is just expected to leave them and she’s trying to be strong but you can see it hurts her to walk away and I KEPT THINKING ABOUT HOW I’M GOING TO DO THAT WITH MY CLASSES FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE! Hence the almost crying.
Looking to the future:
- Saturday I am going to Portsmouth with a mutual friend who has so lovely offered to show me around! I will also be getting dinner and meeting a bunch of her friends that night in Winchester. I’m so excited to hang out with people my age!!!
- Sunday I am going back to my castle to visit the grounds and see every bit that I can see! It’s one of the only castles that has a royal family live in it. So fingers crossed everyone that Maddie meets a Duke or an Earl or a Lord that lives there!
Things I’ve Noticed:
- They call rainboots “wellington” or “wellies.”
- Some similarities between my Indiana students and English students are that they both love Minecraft, sports (although football here is unreal), YouTubers, narwals, and my hair (and were upset when they found out I cut 4 inches off before I came, just like my Indiana students were upset when I cut it). Kids are kids wherever they are.
- My watch plays It’s A Small World and if my math group works hard they like their reward to be listening to it.
Can’t wait to see all the lovely things the weekend has in store for me!
“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” -Wayne Dyer