Remembrance Day

For the past week or so, I’ve been seeing just about everybody sporting a poppy on their lapel or outfit. I asked my British friends what all the fuss was about with these red flowers and learned something very significant about UK culture. On November 11th is called Remembrance Day, a day much like Veterans Day in the US. A way that many UK citizens show support and solidarity with their troops is to wear paper or fabric poppy. Many people buy them at shops or street corners for a small donation, the proceeds go to wounded vets and their families.

Remembrance Day is also marked by two minutes of silence at 11:00am. It happened to fall during our church service on Sunday, so the entire congregation stood and soberly paid their respects. In the UK, Remembrance Day is celebrated with sobriety, not outright celebration. While I think it’s important to honor the members of the armed forces with food, drink, and gratitude, a level of seriousness for those that have given their lives and livelihoods for our freedoms is also extremely appropriate. And during WWII, England suffered in ways that the US will never really be able to understand. I mean, entire cities and historical buildings were bombed relentlessly. Many people lived in fear every time they heard planes flying overhead. Fortunately, that’s not the case today. But the memory of what happened is not out of the public’s consciousness.

As an American participating in Remembrance Day, I found myself thankful for our allies. I’m grateful for these men and women that fought alongside us and continue to do so. In the spirit of the day and in honor of the troops that protect the UK and her interests, I bought myself a poppy and proudly wore it on my lapel.

Happy Remembrance Day!
If you want to know more about this day, please check out info here and here.

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Settling In

Well, I’ve only been living in York for two days but it’s already starting to feel pretty comfortable. I guess visiting the city in April really helped me to get a feel for the town and the general “vibe” of Yorkshire. I am, for the most part, all moved in. I’m still working on unpacking my clothes but I should be done by the end of the week. I really like my room. It’s very spacious, with a big desk, shelves, sink to wash my face and brush my teeth, and tons of cabinet space to put my clothes. The room isn’t a horrible shade of purple like it was in France, which is a definite plus. My bed is right up next to the window, so I wake up to the sweetest view. Although, a lot of heat goes out the window at night so I close the curtains and I stay pretty warm. I know that in a few weeks, I’ll definitely have to spring for an electric blanket.

The house I’m living in is really nice and cozy. On my floor, there are several shower rooms, a kitchenette, and a laundry room. No more schlepping my dirty laundry over a mile to wash it! But on the main floor of the house is the big kitchen, which has lots of cabinet and refrigerator space. Right now, we have ten people in our house. We aren’t sure if more are going to arrive, but we’re hoping that our numbers will stay small!

One of the things that I love about England is that I can get really good quality food for a reasonable price. For example, I went to the grocery store today and bought two medium-sized canvas bags full of food for £11, which is amazing. Many products are only £1-2, which works great for my student budget. And it lets me splurge on items that I really want, like high quality olive oil or a pepper mill. Even shopping for my toiletry items wasn’t bad at all. I was able to get everything for about £115, including a hairdryer, flat iron, and electric toothbrush!

This week is pretty chill, I have some orientation activities on the 4th and 5th. And the week after that, I have my department orientation stuff. So… I have a few weeks to get adjusted, see the city, and get my bearings! It’s a nice transition into grad student life. but once my program starts… oy.

I’m Here!

Well, I made it all the way to England in one piece! I’m officially a resident of the beautiful city of York!

The picture above is the view from my bedroom window. And as you can obviously tell, I have internet (praises for being a grad student living in university accommodation) so blogging can resume somewhat normally. This post is just short and sweet, letting you guys know that I’m alive and well!

Off to England!

Family and friends, I’m officially off to England! Today marks the start of my graduate studies and (hopefully) the beginnings of an academic career. I am so excited to kick off the next chapter of my life, for as long as it may last.

From Philly to York!

For some reason, this move feels way more “permanent” than France for various reasons. If I end up staying in the UK for my Ph.D, I’ll be spending up to five years. Now, I’m just trusting in God for his provision every day, no matter what that looks like.

York’s location

For those of you who don’t know where I’ll be living, (not London, as a good majority my American friends/family seem to think) It’s a city called York, about 2.5 hours north of London via train. It’s gorgeous and it has my dream graduate program. I’m excited to call it home for as long as the Lord lets me.

And with that, I’m off! Please keep me in your prayers. Wifi is going to be a bit spotty for the first week until I get tapped into the campus’ internet so there’s going to be some radio silence for a few days. But as soon as I’m able to get back to blogging, I will!

Reality

In spite of the haze of speculation, it is still something of a shock to find myself here, coming to terms with an enormous trust placed in my hands and with the inevitable sense of inadequacy that goes with that.
– Rowan Williams

There have been many days spent in thought about all the responsibilities that will be placed on my shoulders this upcoming year. It’s easy to be overwhelmed when I consider all the reading, paperwork, writing, research, and extra things associated with graduate school. Not only will I be a grad student, I’ll be an international one. This comes with its own particular set of worries and struggles, not completely unknown to me. Thankfully, my move to France prepared me for the process of moving to a foreign country, which was no easy walk in the park.

But there are moments where I feel incandescently happy about what lies ahead. In these fleeting seconds, my heart swells with anticipation and excitement about continuing my studies at such a great program. But crouching behind these glimpses of nerdy glory, the reality of next year quickly follows. In the quiet of my heart, in the silence of my thoughts, I am afraid to be inadequate. I fear showing up and failing miserably.

And it seems so silly to be afraid but so natural at the same time. Here I am, making moves and confidently stepping into my career and future. But I still feel like a kid in the waiting room of a dentist, anxious and unsure of what’s behind the shiny glass doors. I guess at the heart of it, I’m a full-fledged, mid 20’s adult, which kinda still freaks me out. The last time I checked, I was waking up late for high school and running out the door with my backpack to catch the bus. I look in the mirror and don’t see that kid anymore.

I know that because I am a Christian, God has promised to provide and care for me. I know that I am not forgotten, that my fears are not misunderstood or misinterpreted by my creator. I am known, fully and completely. He knows the days in front of me, the moments  lost to the past. In this respect, I feel secure and settled. I am taking steps forward in peace and confidence. So when I am afraid, when I fear failure in any respect, when I don’t feel “enough” or “able”, I can, according to Hebrews 4:16, come “boldly to the throne of grace” and I am told that I will find mercy and grace. The Lord is merciful, He is gracious, He is loving, and He is making a path for me in England. It is my delight to follow.