"What most excites you about going abroad?"
That was one of the most frequent questions I received from friends and family back home before I began this adventure. Every time, my response was the same: "I'm really looking forward to having a slower pace of life in Bristol. A less stressful semester is exactly what I need right now."
I was pretty sure then that Bristol would afford me a slower pace, but now I know for certain that it's true.
One example of this that I've recently noticed is the difference between my peers at GW and Bristol when lecture concludes. At GW, we don't wait for the professor to finish speaking before we start packing up our things. At the exact minute on the dot that lecture is supposed to end (and often one to two minutes prior), we will loudly zip and close our belongings, giving the professor the not-so-subtle hint that they need to wrap it up. Don't they know that we have places to be and things to do? We can't afford that extra two minutes of lecture.
In Bristol, that never happens. No one packs away their laptops and notebooks before getting the classic green light: "Thanks for today everyone, see you next week." In fact, even once we do start to pack up, we are courteous enough to wait for the people in front of us in our lecture row to finish packing before leaving the room. It's an orderly queue that is rooted in respect and patience, and it's something that I was initially thrown off by.
But it makes sense. GW students are constantly on the go, as is D.C. in general. We have countless commitments and responsibilities because we are always pushing ourselves to be more productive. GW students wear many caps: the student, the club member, the athlete, the intern, the future Congressman or Congresswoman or President of the United States.
Bristol is a lively city, but the energy here is much different. It's okay to take a few days off, and it's okay to relax. Administrative tasks for university staff that would be completed in less than an hour at GW have proven to take multiple days if not weeks at the University of Bristol. But I'm okay with that, because for the first time in a long time I have been able to take it easy and enjoy more of a balance between my personal and professional/educational career. Don't get me wrong - I'm still focused on my schoolwork, but I'm learning to value the little things and the relationships I forge here, and for that I know I will be forever grateful.
Until next time-