As I started thinking about what I can write about my stay in England, quite a lot of things came up at a time. Many people would probably agree that all these things cannot be summarized in a single report. Above all, I would like to let everyone know that I had a really great time in England. In one sentence - going to England was probably the best decision I've made so far in my life and I am very pleased and happy to have been there and met so many nice people.
I'd better start over. My arrival in Bristol in the summer of 2009 and the first four weeks in England (my departure with butterflies in stomach can be hardly described, anyway, you will go through this yourself!). In my preparation seminar I was told "being low" or a homesick stage comes especially around Christmas, which was quite different in my case. I didn't get along with my host family at the very beginning and it was impossible to imagine spending the next 10 months there. My Local Rep took care of this immediately and I stayed with her and her husband until a new host family was found. To be honest, homesickness is not pleasant, but then, your new life goes on and all of the sudden you realize it's gone. The first 3 weeks spent in uncertainty were the most unpleasant of the whole 10 months, but after that everything was way better!
I can honestly say that I am glad to have had such a rough start because I learnt a lot through it. My new host family was just as I had imagined it before. A large family with four children, five with me, a house that was always busy and a lot of positive energy all around. As soon as I entered my future "home" for the first time, I knew that I would feel comfortable there and so did I. I enjoyed every minute there, we laughed a lot and the children really came close to my heart. I will soon fly out there to pay them a visit.
School. I could not have imagined anything better, either. I think the best description would be - open, open-minded and friendly people. I and other three exchange students were offered a lot of help right at the beginning; the teachers were understanding, treated us very friendly and always tried to help us. One finds really good friends in a few weeks (however, 7 months later, I was still meeting new people with whom I got on very well) and these are to be kept for lifetime. Going to the cinema, girls nights where once over, you felt you'd eaten all the chocolate and chips in the world. Just in English. I can only recommend to those of you who are interested in photography and have the option of choosing a school in England! Just do it! It's a lot of fun and I really miss it now when there are no more photos and sketchbooks for homework. Having lunch at school was also fun, especially when we had a sandwich or pasta from Tesco... Good tip! There is a lot of delicious food at good price in Tesco! Anyway, sandwiches are really overpriced in England and don't taste half as good as here.
I can recommend you visit The National Trust House. Those of you who like Jane Austen will find it particularly interesting.
I really liked Bristol, Cabot Circus and Cribbs Causeway Shopping Mall; they are really worth spending some money. Bristol has a lot of green areas and in winter you can ski, go on a sleigh or ice-skating because there are some halls. What you should see is the university campus (University of Bristol, not the same as UWE), Park Street and Clifton (a city quarter). There are many nice little cafés and shops where you can always find delicious cupcakes or specials gift for your family and friends back home. I learnt to love the city and although the transport system was a little confusing at the beginning, my friends helped me and then I had no problem!
All in all, it was a really, really good year and I have no regrets of having signed up for this into programme two years ago. I'm very grateful for these 10 months of English life experience:).