Brighton • Oliver

The week after Copenhagen, we as a group collectively decided: “Yep, it’s time we took a break from flying into the EU”. We wanted to explore a city close to our campus city. Funny thing is – there was a larger town close to Bath called Bristol: 15 minutes away by rail. After researching options such as: Cornwall (very beautiful – disappointed I couldn’t visit before disembarking the UK…) and Manchester (a tad far…) – we decided on Brighton; one of the most noteworthy cities to visit while in the UK. We somehow implicitly believed it would be close to Bath…

3.5 hours of rail later, we’ve arrived! It’s a coastal city, and we felt this right when we stepped out of the rail station. The air was filled with the sandiness of the beaches and freshness of the roaring waters. The day we went wasn’t the best as it was grey skies and mild rain; albeit this unpleasant weather, I do not regret this day trip. It progressively  introduced me to hidden gems that were scattered throughout the UK.

Brighton is a city of wonder. There are numerous small shops, delicious restaurants, and a mix of tourists and locals. We aimed for the coastline as we had seen the beautiful pictures of the Ferris wheel and amusement park by the sea.

B115E46C-F19A-47F5-8FF7-931C40F483FD.JPGThe Regency Restaurant right by the coast is what I would recommend to all whom pass by Brighton. It is a seafood shack that cooks up delicious grilled or iced seafood. Out of all the seafood, paellas, and spaghetti dishes I’ve consumed over the 4 months – this restaurant tops it all. I think it might also be the cheese that is slathered on top! Other than eat, we frequented the little arcade that lay right outside the carnival park. I think we spent about 1.5 hours in there, playing games until our hands tired and our jaws sore from belly-laughing, and ultimately- winning a Brighton snow globe.

A funny little story is: I had been told by a friend that there were rainbow huts on Hove Beach, in Brighton. I googled it and led our group in circles beyond circles. When we walking along the coastline, I had a sinking feeling we were going in the wrong direction… but I kept going. It was fun not knowing if we were going the right way, but as I had everyone with me – it was okay. Just thought of it as time together.

After googling intensely a bit more, I realized… there was Brighton and a Hove Beach with rainbow huts – in Australia. We asked around some more and realized the rainbow huts were a bit of a secret – only locals knew of this little strip near the coast.

Here’s some rad pics of us jumping up and down… and up and down – like maniacs high on colour. That day became more sunny (and hot) as we walked up and down the few strips that lined this city.

Brighton remains one of the top cities I would go back for. Not only for it’s quaint and calming city-sphere, but also the feels of being by the sea.

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When I look at this little beauty, I think of our times there. Times where we grew closer by chatting with each other, getting to know each other’s pasts, and having fun at another city explored.

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To the Good Ol’ Days

After the excited initial feels of being in a new country, the stark surroundings and lack of familiar faces started to strike…

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It was only in the first few weeks that I met the other exchange students. The first friend I befriended was this one guy whom I would come to know, at a medium level (RHS – Sunny Sun). The smartest guy around, but also the goofiest and is often all over the place (literally). He introduced me to other people, and I will always remain thankful for that. Too smart for his own good, and too silly to realize that. Always bringing laughter in every sitting.

The other 2 are my mains! POPO and FIFI will always have your back. Whether it is in the form of sharing cake with you, cooking food for you, or just travelling to wherever you want. They are down.

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Sight: Charles Bridge, Prague
Mains: Popo & Fifi & Gigi
“Why walk when you can selfie?”

I am also thankful that in the beginning I was able to befriend some of my roommates. It was cool being able to live close to friends whom you could cook and chat late into the night with. They were older, wiser, and most often than not, very fashionable in an eccentric way. Overall an awesome role model for me. We all come from different backgrounds, but we’re also to meet during this term at the same University. Although I believe the best of times are often had at the most spectacular places, it is most likely the people whom are around, that make those days extra special. I learned to cherish this fact over the course of my exchange.

Here are some snippets of the residence I lived at while in Bath. I am also glad that I was able to find a family in Church and grow closer to each one of them. There is too much to say about everything that happens on exchange, but I would like, day by day, annotate it to you.

Although I’ve walked this path multiple times. That day I took these photos, I could sense that when the day came I took my last step away from this place – I would miss it dearly • Thornbank Gardens: during this period, I learned to fend for myself. This will always be my home away from home. Close to P, J, S, F, M, S, S, J, P, G & A.

IMG_1904That time I couldn’t stop playing with my phone. I realized my pictures would be nothing without knowing the stories of the people who litter my every album and populate the places I’ve been to with their smiles.

Thanks for coming along this ride with me. Europe, you’ve instilled a spark in me that I thought had long been put out. I know I’ll be back soon, don’t forget me just yet!

The Beginning

Let’s reminiscence a bit • the first few weeks of February

I remember when I first stepped off the plane. I was in a huge airport. Although back home, our airport was pretty huge – this one was massive. An airport that I had heard and saw in movies, filled with beautifully-sound British accents; here I was. Amidst the bustle and hustle, I was another traveler, arriving in Heathrow.

403: the bus that would take me between Heathrow and Bath Spa Railway Station (multiple times)

I remember the homesickness. I remember that feeling of “Oh, did I make a wrong choice? I don’t know anyone. This all looks like some countryside… where am I? Where were the glass high-rises? How come everything’s in brick and mortar? Where is the happiness that previous exchange students said I would find?”

As the bus wound down roads, speeding toward my new University of 4 months; I watched outside. I watched as the gloomy skies continued it’s plunder. I watched as the high rises, turned into grasslands – seemingly stretching for very, very, very long. The more I looked outside, the more sad I felt. But the more I continued to pray for comfort and strength from God.

I think that I’m one of those Christians. I wish I wasn’t. When I am met in times of unhappiness, uncertainty, and disappointment – I cling to our Father. I pray, constantly. When I had finally reached my residence (it took quite a journey to find it…) – I was met with further silence. No familiar friends; my roommates were quite cold.

I thank my one friend: EK. She kept me comfort in those early weeks. As I was lonely and did not have a single friend. She kept my happy self alive as she continually comforted me and encouraged me to befriend anyone I met.

I was lucky as I had, by chance, to have met a flatmate by his door of Chinese lettering. He showed me around Bath; my new home.86BA3AFB-71D8-4710-9225-C048B6C3B61A

Tasty: a Chinese restaurant I would frequent more often than not, over the next 4 months.

The streets of Bath are very different to those back home. I whipped out my phone when I saw my first ‘red telephone box’, in all it’s glory. All the roads were mainly cobbled; with fascinating stretches of Georgian architectural houses lining both sides.

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The Royal Cresent • one of the later days, when I had come to realize true happiness.

That’s truth.

Having had the opportunity to travel the confines of Europe; I am lucky beyond words. I would really encourage all those whom are looking to enrich their undergraduate studies – to seriously consider exchange. It is a hefty investment, but priceless. The adventures you will encounter, the people you befriend, cities to discover, and personal growth experienced: will change you forever.

I’ve finally come home. I’m back here, where I was born, grew up, accustomed to my own skin and happiness. Working full-time, but with the entire summer up to me, how I will fill it. There’s much I want to do. But help me to never forget Him.

I promise to update this blog with my adventures and “wise sayings”, that I’ve acquired over the past 4 months. Thanks, England.

You have to aim for the top, not aim to pass. You are more than what you were destined for. What’s your passion?

You were beautiful. More than anything I’ve seen in anyone. God creates the most wondrous of cities and places.

Soho

Sight: Soho, London
Photo credit: Ems Chiu
Date: June 1. 2017