Before I throw you head first into my fabulously flustered pre-departure antics, I will introduce myself. My name is Harlyn Grey Cowart and I am from a small town in north Alabama called Athens. Athens is a town that you will miss if you blink while driving through it, a town where everybody knows everybody. I am a Junior at UA and I am majoring in History and Secondary Education Social Science. I want to be a History teacher and show rising generations how useful and interesting the past is. You know what they always say, hindsight is 20/20. I am high energy and a bit of a worry wart, which leads us to the real topic of my first Bama Bloggers Abroad post.
I have never traveled out of the country before this trip. European vacations or Bahama beach trips were out of the question for my family because of how expensive they are. So when I applied to the UA in Oxford Study Abroad program, I did it thinking there was no way I would get accepted. I applied a month late and figured the spots would be filled by more impressive students. I did it almost halfheartedly, knowing that even if I did get accepted I would be unable to afford such a trip. But, low and behold, I got in. I called my parents and they said if I could find a way to pay for it that I could go.
*Enter Panic Number 1*
Upon being accepted, I was suddenly DYING to go abroad. I love world history and Oxford is one of the most historically saturated places in the world. I called relatives and asked for any small amount they could spare, started a GoFundMe, applied for every possible scholarship, and worked extra hours to save extra cash. Some hard work, a little Facebook begging and two scholarships later, I managed to raise every penny I needed to pay for my entire trip plus a little spending money. The kindness of the people I know and people my family knows was overwhelming and I could not be more grateful for them! (If you're reading this, you know who you are and I love you!!)
After paying my bill I began to plan and read and research all the things I wanted to do and would be doing while in Oxford. I researched European travel and passports and how not to look like a tourist and everything you could possibly think of regarding a trip to England. Research and lists are my happy place, so this was a huge period of relief for me. I loved making a new Pinterest board for sights to see and food to eat, writing a list of things to have and do before leaving, and even learning how best to pack a suit case! I also used this trip as an excuse for some retail therapy. I have a terrible (wonderful) habit of wearing t-shirts and jeans all day everyday, but I wanted to update my look and move towards a more put together style like the Brits have. This update will help me not look like a bum everyday in Oxford at the prestigious college, but also give me some basics for my future teaching career. All of the pinning and reading I was doing was really making the trip come to life in my imagination! I was actually booking tickets for shows and tours, buying packing cubes and chino pants, and borrowing plug adapters. Something I had never dreamed of doing was really going to happen!
*Enter Panic 2*
As the trip solidified and plans came to fruition, I realized that I would be missing out on having my birthday with my family, I wouldn't be home for the annual Fourth of July party, and I would be away from my long term boyfriend for an entire month in a place I was painfully unfamiliar with. I had second thoughts about going through with my trip and became unsure if I would have as good of a time as I had previously anticipated. I have never been out of the country and with the entire world in such a tizzy I began to grow anxious of being away from my friends and family. Luckily I have the most supportive and caring friends, family, and boyfriend. I was told on more than one occasion that if I skip this trip for FOMO (fear of missing out) that one of them would put on a wig and go in may place. I was assured that they would Skype with me and tell me all about the things happening at home. I am so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life that encourage me to go beyond what I think I am capable of.
Long story short, getting ready to get ready for this study abroad trip has been a roller coaster of feelings. I have gone from nervous to happy and back down to sad. Today I am still feeling excited, I am beginning to make my packing list and buy books for class and for the plane ride. This last month at home is going to fly by and soon enough I will be on a plane, but I think I will be ready.
Until next time! Cheerio!