Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

Let me give you the low down on my school week:

  • Monday: No class
  • Tuesday: Human Geography, followed by a seminar
  • Wednesday: Educating the Human Brain, followed by Social Constructions of Britain
  • Thursday: No class
  • Friday: Biology (all morning)

The whole “having to sit in class for more than one hour” thing is really throwing me off, but I think I’ll live.
Anyway, I was sitting in Tuesday afternoon geography listening to the lecturer talk about what makes a place. “Place” as a concept here – a “place” could be your seat at the dining room table just as much as your home town is a “place.” He showed us pictures of some of his favorite places, and asked us to think about what some of our favorite places are. I thought about mine:

  1. Duluth, Minnesota
  2. My basement at home
  3. The bike trails back home

All of sudden, it hit me. Harder than anything I had felt on this trip so far.
I was homesick.
I missed Netflix on the worn couches in my basement. I missed the exertion of biking up and down hills. And I missed waking up near the awe-inspiring majesty of Lake Superior.
The feeling soon passed, but I was left considering how “home” had changed over the last year and a half.
Last year, as myself and hundreds of other freshmen settled in to college life, I would occasionally hear someone refer to their dorm or floor as “home.” And this was always weird to me. I mean, yeah, it kind of was – it’s where we slept and kept our junk. But to me, it was never “home.” My room here has a much stronger claim to the term – considering I have my own bathroom and kitchen, and I have to do my own shopping and everything – but it still isn’t “home.”
Home to me is still the place where I grew up, all the way back across the Atlantic. I know this will eventually change, and that it’s starting to change already. But they don’t call it “homesick” for nothing.

And now for something completely different!

My first few weeks have been full of… well, stuff. Lots of stuff. I’ve taken three major trips: a walk through the Malvern Hills, the Natural History Museum in London, and the Lake District near the Scotland border.

The Malvern Hills were apparently J.R.R. Tolkein’s inspiration for the Shire in The Hobbit. Unfortunately, I didn’t see any Hobbits on my walk, but the view was pretty inspiring.

The Natural History Museum was fascinating in the way that only hundreds of taxidermied animals and glass cases of minerals can be. I did get up close and personal with a marble statue of Charles Darwin, though:

I also got to see a dodo, and I was pretty excited until I found out that it couldn’t have been a real one.

The whole from from UMD went to the Lake District, specifically, to the Priestley Centre on Coniston Water. I went canoeing for the first time, and the next day I walked, climbed and crawled all the way to the top of the Old Man of Coniston, the twelfth highest hill in England. I didn’t get many pictures of this trip, but I made sure to get a picture of the old man as a souvenir:

And that brings me to today. I have been laying low and going to class for the last two weeks, and I think I’m finally starting to settle in. I don’t have any big set plans for the coming weeks and months yet, so only time will tell what I’ve done when I next decide to write…