***DISCLAIMER: I was meant to post this yesterday, Friday April 7th and yet here I am posting it today, April 8th. Life is crazy when you’re teaching/living in/exploring England and Europe! Thanks for coming along for the journey! This one has no where near the organization I wish I had time to do, but I am simply too much of a perfectionist and too busy to make it exactly how I want it. I hope you enjoy regardless!***
Three weeks? Three weeks?! I’VE BEEN AWAY FOR THREE WEEKS?
Half of me is saying “how has it been that long?” and the other half is saying “that’s it?!”
I promise I haven’t forgotten about my blog. Honestly, I think about it a lot and am constantly wanting to write. Unfortunately I have had a lot of assignments from this program that have caught up to me. It’s been hard for me to prioritize being a student, a teacher, a host daughter, an explorer, and still getting sleep at the same time. As a planner, it has bothered me that I can’t plan more time in a day to do everything I need to do.
I have lots of highlights from this last week, though! I’ve been very involved in my school, my home life, and exploring new places.
- No one pulled any April Fools Day pranks that I saw! It made me sad.
- I ended up meeting up with a friend of a friend (it’s a long story, but basically we met because we both love One Direction, as all great friendships start) Sarah, and we met in Portsmouth. We went to the Spinnaker Tower, did loads of shopping, and even saw the castle there! We didn’t get to go in, but we took some pictures. Stay tuned to the end for the picture show!
- Sarah drove us back to her hometown and invited me to dinner with some of her friends. I currently spend most of my time with people half my age or three times my age, and I absolutely adore both. However, it was wonderful to meet some people my age and laugh and chat over dinner. They loved my accent! It makes me feel so special since I’m usually just listening to their voices with hearts in my eyes.
- Sarah was sweet enough to let me stay with her Saturday night, and we ended our evening with Netflix and takeaway from some place called Chick-o-Land!
- I woke up pretty early and got ready for a packed day. I had a train to catch at 8.46 and didn’t want to be late. It would throw off all the lovely plans I have in my head!
- Sarah walked me to the train station while I was, of course, super worried I wouldn’t make it in time.
- I made it in time. I get too concerned for my own good.
- I said goodbye to Sarah and thanked her again. She’s been such a great friend to me and we’re already planning to do more in May!
- I got on the train, ordered some coffee, had milk in a stick, and changed stations in Clepham, where I bought more coffee and this really yummy croissant thing. I didn’t make that sound as good as it was.
- It took probably 2.5 hours to get to Arundel, which if you recall is where the castle I saw last week is.
- Arundel is home to Arundel Castle. The Duke of Norfolk and his family live there in the castle, and starting April 1st they open in up for people to come and see. So obviously I went as soon as I could!
- It was everything I could hope for and more. The castle was well kept, like you were walking through history. At one point I looked at a wall, touched it, and wondered what things and people it had seen. Isn’t that incredible to think about?!
- The first thing I did was go to a coffee shop. I like to ask people what there favorite drink is, but when I asked the hostess she looked at me like I had 3 heads. Maybe it was the accent? Not sure, but I ended up picking it out myself.
- I intended to walk to the castle, but this little book shop caught my eye. It ended up not being little at all. It was three stories tall, and I spent almost an hour looking at everything.
- Once I cut myself off from looking at books, I headed to my dream house. AKA the castle, in case you didn’t get that. I arrived to the castle at around 1, bought the Gold Plus ticket that gives you access to everything they offer you to see, and boy did I milk it for all it was worth. I stayed until they closed at 5, and that wasn’t long enough. To see some of my many pictures, keep reading! (As I’m writing this, I am on the train. I turned to look out the window and found Arundel in the distance 😍)
- I took the train home absolutely exhausted. My feet were sore because I was dumb and didn’t wear socks, my back was aching from my GINORMOUS backpack, and I’m not sure I’ve slept a full 8 hours since the first night I was here. So basically, I was tired.
Just to give you some perspective, here is the contents inside my backpack once I returned from my weekend excursion:
- A pair of sunglasses
- Make up bag
- Two hangers
- A metal water bottle
- A wallet phone case
- An umbrella
- Snack bag I made for my train rides just in case (two little bags of chips, two chocolate bars, and a bag of peach rings my mom bought me before I left)
- My new mug, bag, travel wallet, dress, shirts, earrings, and headband I bought shopping in Portsmouth
- Little bag of miscellaneous gifts for miscellaneous people 😜
- Three mobile chargers
- Union Jack teddy bear (for my little cousin Jace! I bought it on his 3rd birthday. Happy Birthday, little best friend!)
- A sleep shirt, three pairs of socks, three tops, jeans, leggings, and tights
- Three miscellaneous gifts for three miscellaneous people from Arundel Castle 😜
- Four gifts for myself from Arundel Castle
- 15 information pamphlets for places around England
- Three 11 x 8 sized books (two are gifts), The Diary of Anne Frank, and a book on Arundel Castle
- Four plastic bags (you never know when you’ll need them)
That doesn’t count my purse, which had a reusable bag, my phone charger, wallet, sunglasses, lipstick, and my travel journal and pens. I felt like Mary Poppins pulling things out of there.
So yes, my back and feet were incredibly sore. I figured the best way to recover is getting fish and chips takeaway and cuddling up on my bed and watching Frozen. It was working pretty well, and then I got a video call from my sister, who was with my aunt and cousins at the Cardinals vs. Cubs baseball game. I loved seeing their smiling faces and how much fun they were having, but my heart had a small pang of homesickness. Like I said, I’ve been able to keep it together pretty well since I’ve been so busy, but after a long day, my emotions were a little rocky.
And then my mom called. *DUN DUN DUN.* My dad and brothers race go karts (follow Stahl Racing on Twitter, I’m trying my best to tweet from across the pond) and Sunday was their first race of the season. I’m usually in the stands cheering them on, screaming when someone cuts a little too close to them, and giving them a hug regardless of how they finish (because I’m just thankful they finish the race in one piece). I answered to my mom’s happy face and hearing her say “Hi sweetie!” and then showing the camera around for me to see my cousins, brothers, and the track to watch my dad’s race. His race was just finishing, so she said she would call me back in a bit, and as soon as she hung up I burst into tears. Normally, I don’t have too many reminders of my family since I’m in a completely new place. I keep busy, I talk with them often, and it’s worked very well for me. But we all knew I’d have a mini-homesick-breakdown at some point, right?!
- In all honesty, the days have really run together. So here are some highlights throughout the week!
- Sue and Pat’s past student, Ross, has been staying with us this week. We get along really well, and we joke that we’re Pat and Sue’s American children. He came to visit the school, and many of the students remembered him. It was really great to see how much of an impact I could have!
- Sue and Pat host Jazz at the Village the first Wednesday of every month. They bring amazing jazz artists and have sold out every show they’ve put on. They’ve been doing this 7 years! It was a wonderful show, and I even got a shout out! They said there was someone here from Indiana and asked me to stand. They welcomed me and then played the 10 minute jazz version of Back Home Again in Indiana! I WAS SO HAPPY! I have a video of the whole song if anyone wants to see!
- Sue and Pat left for their cruise at 4 AM Thursday morning, so their friends Lionel and Joyce invited Ross and I to dinner. It was another wonderful night with lots of food, laughter, and stories. Another beautiful night!
- My school put on the pantomime and I held the scripts for the elves. It was hilarious! My teacher Adam was Nursey Nora and my other teacher Lisa ended up having to be one of the queen’s henchmen at the last minute. It was fabulous and I want to bring this tradition back to the states. I would post pictures, but they would be mad at me!
- Tuesday we had Pat’s brother and his wife over for dinner and it was like eating dinner with two Pats. More lovely food, conversations, and stories shared!
- I made scones with the students AND we got to eat them! At one point it was just me and six kids making scones, which I have never made before. We did a good job making them, however when it came time to turn on the oven, we had problems. There were so many switches and fans and apparently you have to set the clock and then the oven will work. We eventually figured it out and as a reward we took a group selfie!
- A bunch of my students made Easter cards for me and wrote notes like “I will miss you when you leave” in them. My Indiana students did the same thing, even when I had 7 weeks left with them! After this two week Easter Holiday that I am about to head off on, I will have 5 weeks left with my English kiddos. They said today how much they’ll cry when I leave, and I know I’m in for another messy goodbye!
- I’ve been called multiple times by other people that I am such a “history person.” I have never been called that in my life! Growing up, social studies was my worst subject because they taught it as names and dates. There was no interest for me. I’ve had a professor recently who showed me it can be more than that, and it’s like a whole world has been opened up to me. Which I suppose is what history is.
- Harry Styles came out with his first solo song called Sign of the Times. Buy it. Stream it. Love it. Miss Stahl is a happy, happy gal.
- ONE OF THE TEACHERS SAID I LOOK LIKE TAYLOR SWIFT TODAY AHHH YAYYY!
As I was looking for a weekend to have afternoon tea with some of Sue and Pat’s friends, I realized how quickly this journey is going to go. My sister Katy is flying in from Indiana TODAY and meeting me at Gatwick airport. We will be going from there to Barcelona, Barcelona to Zürich, Switzerland, then Zürich to Rome! All in 8 days! I say (sadly) goodbye to Kate in Rome, and while she flies back to Indiana, I will be flying to Paris to meet my mommy! AHHH! Mom and I will stay in Paris for 4 nights, take the Eurostar to London, and then stay there for 3 nights. I will have to say bye to my mommy, and then head back to Felpham for another week with my kiddos. That weekend has May day, which we don’t have school on, so I’m hoping to go visit my friends in Ireland. Week with kiddos. The next weekend I have my afternoon tea on the Saturday and will probably end up going to Arundel again on Sunday, just because I can. Week with kiddos. The next weekend I’d like to visit my friend in Scotland. Week with kiddos. The last weekend I am hoping to spend in Brighton and go to my first music festival there. Week with kiddos. That Saturday, train to Gatwick airport. Flight to Chicago. Then coming home… I’ve only just gotten here and there’s already not enough time. Such is life.
NOW WHAT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR! THE MADDIE STAHL PICTURE SHOW!
***I’m sorry there are no captions on the photos, I’m currently about to take a nap in Barcelona so I will repost when I update these with tidbits about them!