Sickness in a foreign country is surprisingly more difficult than I thought it would be. I haven't lived in a dorm-like setting since my freshman year and I forgot what it is like; when someone gets sick, it makes its way throughout everyone in the immediate vicinity and sometimes makes its way through everyone a second time if precautions aren't taken. I feel like I've been in some state of sickness since returning from Edinburgh and it is not fun at all. I've exhausted the supplies of cold medicine and tissues I brought with me from the US for colds and while there are chemists in Britain nothing tastes the same and good cold drugs like Nyquil are hard to come by. Also at home, there is normally an automatic support system that takes care of you. No such luck in Britain. While some of us got sick together, there's no way I would think or imagine that it is someone else's job to take care of me. In Boston though, I always have James for that and he has me if he gets sick. I think it is easier to get better when someone is making sure you are taking care of yourself and helping you when you feel so weak you can't make it to CVS for more cough drops, tissues, liquids, or cold medicine. It's also difficult to get better when you live with ten other people and the walls are as thin as paper, and therefore sleep is hard to have continuously. It's definitely a different experience than I am used to, since I haven't lived with more than just one other person since 2005. My cough attacks also wake me up 5 times a night, which causes me to be infinitely more tired than I would be if I could sleep through an entire night here. Plus, I decided to get sick right when essays started to be due, so that put extra stress on my system. The end is in sight though and today I started feeling like I was getting better. Hopefully that feeling will last for longer than a fleeting moment!
Once the class work of essays are completed, I will begin to travel more often. I'm planning on taking a day-tour that includes Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath. I was excited when I realized this tour existed since it covers most of the places I want to see in England outside of London. I've found it's necessary to combine as much as possible here due to the lack of time we have. I also travel to Belfast and Belgium in consecutive weekends and take a trip to Oxford with the program, so I will have more experiences to write about other than school work, sickness (hopefully!) and London, which will be refreshing. The only issue with the traveling is that it takes away from the time I have to do my dissertation. I felt like I had all this time before and am now noticing more and more that my time is becoming limited. I only have one weekend open, where I won't be traveling or someone won't be in London visiting, to fully work on my dissertation. That's scary in itself! I know I'll have to find a balance, since I don't want to be working on my dissertation and studying for finals at the same time. That would be beyond stressful. Mostly it just comes down to me not procrastinating like I normally do so that I can enjoy my last week in London knowing that the big, bad paper is out of sight and out of mind.
One thing I have found that I have been doing in London is expanding my palate. I've been trying foods that I never would have touched in Boston, and I've liked them! It's good to have some variety, but I never thought this would be part of my experience here. I imagined eating most of the foods that I always eat, since I saw London and Boston to be pretty comparable cities (except for size of course). I've tasted Indian, Moroccan, and Thai among others, and find that not only the food is different but the dining experience is as well. For example (I think this is just European/British in general), people take a lot longer to eat and actually take the time to enjoy their food and the company they have while they are dining. I'm so used to having things to do and eating on the run that I didn't realize how much of an experience eating is! The Moroccan place even had a belly dancer! Her music did not work at first, but it was new to me to have someone dancing around while I ate. I'm hoping to try some Lebanese, get a little more daring with my Thai choices, and hopefully find a good fish and chips place (since apparently it's something you HAVE to do in London). All in all this experience has definitely opened up my eyes to different cultures, even if it is through food!