The English Channel: The Cure

Time is so valuable.

Today marks one month in Sunderland! The more I travel, the less I am concerned with deadlines and planning. With each passing moment, how can we be expected to know what we want of the next million such moments we experience in day to day life?

When I studied Spanish in Costa Rica this past summer, I learned about the “pura vida” approach to life.

Pura vida translates to “pure life” but it means so much more than that.

Hello, goodbye, let’s party, that’s life, wouldn’t you know it, good luck and really anything else you could want it to mean in any kind of context.

For Ticos, pura vida is a lifestyle. It is about enjoying the moment for what it is — a portion of your life.

As I meditated on this thought while I sat in bed physically ill, I decided I do not need to be homesick any longer because it will only bring me down.

There have been a few negatives in this last week, but overall, I am feeling like my happy self again.

And I owe it all to the friends I have made since landing in Newcastle four short weeks ago.

My flat has become my home. We have family dinners every Wednesday, where we all cook together and just laugh about everything we have encountered.

Sure, it gets dirty in there with the constant beer pong rematches, but I love how happy I am when walk in the door.

I stayed in for Valentine’s Day and made dinner for the flat and hung out with the girls.

Sylvia made these Nutella cookies that were to die for.

(Such an easy recipe, too! Equal parts Nutella and flour and one egg for binding. Mix the egg with the Nutella and then slowly work in the flour. Make little patties and put a dollop of Nutella in the middle then close them up like raviolis. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius—350 Fahrenheit—for about five minute and let cool.) 

I can always stay in with Sylvia, or I can tag along with Sammy and Nathaniel, who go out with the guys most nights.

The other night, I was scooped up and nearly carried to a club, but I escaped and said, “Some other time,” like I always do.

This week I wanted to make some changes, so I decided to say, “What the hell, why not?!”

Off we went to Newcastle for a night of clubbing.

Clubbing is very popular here in England. No matter what night of the week you feel like dancing, you can find a venue that is packed with sweaty bodies and booming music.

So eight of us climbed into a cab and got dropped off in the middle of the city.

I immediately started asking people with friendly faces where we should go and ended up meeting these two guys named Tom.

The Toms told us about Digital and we followed them to a massive line. Though it cost £7 and 20 minutes of our time to get through the line, I can vouch for its worth.

I danced like a mad cat, (my friend John Dillon Welter would have been proud.)

After the club shut down, I was pushed outside and was able to exchange emails with the Toms.

Yes, I have a local phone.

No, I have not memorized the number, yet.

I woke up the next morning to find myself smiling and sleeping in Tom Hope’s jacket that he had let me borrow the night before.

The correlation hit me — dancing cures homesickness.

You are welcome for that deep philosophical thought. Please feel free to apply it to your life as needed.

Another self-prescribed cure would have to be your standard Starbucks black coffee. A little caffeine goes a long way after getting to bed at six in the morning in the land of tea.

I felt refreshed, healthy and happy enough to meet up with Tom Hope that evening for a civil jacket exchange and some exploring.

He took me all around the Tyne and Wear area.

First, we found to this old and broken windmill that I saw on one of the free maps I continue to pick up daily — you should see my desk drawer.

Then, I got to know him a little better as we got closer to Washington, his hometown. I saw where he grew up and went to school and listened to all the stories about life in between.

After getting some petrol — apparently gas is an American word — we went back into Newcastle.

I discovered that I have crossed four of the seven bridges that cross the Tyne River and I like Stella.

I will be back for those bridges Newcastle!

The homesickness has hit a lull, but I cannot say it’s all gone.

When it comes to classes, I miss the structure of UCA more than anything. I have a magazine production class in which we use InDesign, an Adobe program. I have dabbled in it a little before, but it’s fairly new to me.

My lecture for that course has been insightful at times, but the workshop kills me. My “tutor,” a glorified academic with zero teaching experience, is little to no help.

Each time I raised my hand to ask a simple question about the software, he says, “You know, Paul Taylor is here on Wednesdays and he can help you.”

I was so close to raising my hand for another question: “Then what the heck are you here for and what am I supposed to do for the next two hours?”

Instead, I pulled up YouTube videos about InDesign and played a little Candy Crush.

I went and saw Paul Taylor today. He is an InDesign guru and taught me all the basics in a 45-minute crash course.

Just in time, too. My first double-page spread is due Friday!

Life is moving pretty quick. Only five months left now!

Cheers and beers,


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