I figured that it was about time I got back to updating my blog; I mean it has only been five months. You would think in that time I would have had so much to write about and divulge. And in fact, I did; more than I would care to admit and probably more involved than you would even care to read. But unfortunately for me and fortunately for you, there were just never enough hours in the day to gather my thoughts, write them down and ensure most importantly, that they were coherent.

I have done you the courtesy of summing up these past few months then in just a few words. Okay, maybe “few” is an understatement and by “words” I mean paragraphs, but there is no denying I tried to summarize my chaotic life as concisely as possible.

I finally made it back home to the States in late February after a brief stint with Eulogy!, a London-based PR firm and the 2009 PRCA Consultancy of the Year. I found that my time there was invaluable. I made great connections with seasoned professionals and gained invaluable international PR experience; it was truly an opportunity of a lifetime and one that I am eternally grateful for. But my time with Eulogy! was unfortunately brief, as the expiration of my Visa loomed on the horizon and circumstances at home continued to beckon my presence.

My welcoming home, as one could imagine, was bittersweet. Seeing my family and reestablishing the six-month overlooked friendships of course caused reason for celebration. Getting all the gossip that was too tedious to relay across the sea from classmates, although a lengthy process, was a surprisingly welcome one. Eating my favorite foods from my favorite eateries, notably Coliseum Deli and Chipotle, overjoyed me. And being back in the place I called home was a greater luxury than I had ever anticipated.

But these reasons for celebration were quickly short-lived when I realized that the reality I once thrived upon was no longer, in fact, a reality, but a mere memory. Feelings of regret, remorse and woe filled me; I seriously questioned my decision to return to the States. I left behind not only close friends that I had come to adore, but the newly discovered freedom and adventure that had redefined me while abroad. These feelings of misery were only magnified further when I learned first hand that finding a job in the already scarce job market was going to prove as daunting and just about as successful, or rather unsuccessful, as climbing Mt. Everest.

But, not one to drown in my sorrows, I quickly turned that frown upside down and made the most of my return home. I landed an amazing boyfriend, who, strange as it may seem was a blast from the past, started to successfully pay off my school loans with my five part-time jobs (yes you heard me right… five!) which I have since whittled down to one full-time and two part-time jobs and I am enjoying the previously overlooked small pleasures of my hometown.

Life is undoubtedly better than I expected and I can’t wait for what comes next.

The Waiting Game

Much has transpired in the past month. I am no longer with the English Lacrosse Association. While the opportunities that they afforded me were tremendous, recent family circumstances have led me to the decision to return to the states. It was no doubt a hard decision, but one that I am confident in.

But harder than the decision itself has been coming to the realization that I have to say goodbye to a city that I have come to love (maybe even more than New York) and even harder than that has been finding a job. You will note a hint of surprise in this discovery, although I am not entirely sure that it should come as one. MarketWatch wrote in a December 24 article, “While the economy is likely to grow at a steady but unspectacular 3% pace in 2010, the prospects for significant job growth are dim and the unemployment rate could still be in the 10% neighborhood at this time next year.”

And that, unfortunately, is the reality that I am fighting. So as I reach out to my contacts, browse an endless number of online job search engines and send my resume to hundreds of potential employers, time just keeps on ticking and I just have to wait patiently with bated breath and crossed fingers.

Priceless

Half-term break, where to even begin. It was a crazy, fun and sometimes stressful two weeks, full of stories, adventures and of course the occasional mishap. What can you expect when you visit Paris, Barcelona, Granada, Seville, Lisbon and Madrid?

While the sights were stunning, the nights memorable, and the people met fascinating, the lessons learned were absolutely priceless:

1. It is never a good idea to book an overnight bus. Whether it’s fourteen hours or six hours there is never a good night’s sleep.

2. Travelling in a group is great, but travelling in a group of personalities is not.

3. You will always be sleep deprived. Productive sightseeing does come with a cost.

4. It’s much cheaper to book ahead than to wait, costs add up, as does the stress.

5. Lying about how many people are in a hotel room doesn’t work or if it does it is WAY too nerve-racking to even bother.

6. Couchsurfing is a fabulous and cheap alternative to hostels, hotels and all other cost additive alternatives. I think that everyone needs to try it at least once in their life.

7. And finally, a good laugh goes a long way. Between the hopeless language barriers you’ll encounter, the inclement weather you didn’t plan on and all of the other obstacles in between, travelling does have its moments. Simply being prepared for them sometimes isn’t enough. Being prepared to laugh at them, however, does.

My Uncle Warned Me About This

Before departing across the big blue ocean, I spoke with my uncle who was a three-year resident of London several years ago. While he was enthusiastic about his experience, he forewarned me that it wouldn’t always be such. He said that my enthusiasm would wax and wane in three stages:

1. Fondness for the quaintness of the experience: Everything is new and exciting; even the crazy chavs you meet- so unique!
2. Distaste for the experience: At this point, you are over the newness of the experience. Things are more of an annoyance than a charm.
3. Utter affection for the once-in-a-lifetime memories: You have truly come to appreciate all of your bizarre experiences, lonely nights and amazing travels.

While I was sceptical of his forewarning, never thinking that I would ever reach Stage 2, I regret to inform you that I have.

It has been a work in progress over the past week, starting with last Wednesday. I was returning to school on a coach from having just umpired and coached my Year 8’s first lacrosse match. While disappointed by the loss, I was thoroughly impressed with their enthusiasm and determination. I finally felt like I was making a difference, and succeeding as a coach; it felt amazing. This feeling was short-lived, however. After seeing all of the girls off of the bus, I took a quick look around for trash (or rubbish rather) and left belongings, and then proceeded to make my way out of the bus. Actually, I attempted to make my way out the bus; I didn’t quite make it off.

After asking the bus driver to “Please open the doors and let me off,” as the doors to the bus were now closed, I was dumbfounded at his haughty response of “No, I will not let you off this bus until it is fully reinstated.” Wait…what?!? Confused I fumbled for words. I finally managed to ask what he was referring to. He impatiently started flailing his arms and pointing to the seats saying “These, all these.” I assumed that he was referring to some of the seat covers on the headrests that had come off. So, reluctantly and rather annoyed, I went to the back of the bus, where I was greeted with two of my pupils fumbling around the back in search of a missing cell phone. I asked the girls to assist me in the task, and they did. To my knowledge the bus was now reinstated.

As I made my way back up to the front of the bus, the bus driver quickly brushed by me. Not sure what to do, as the bus doors were still closed, I went to the front of the bus and knocked on the window to try and seek some comfort from my colleagues. I desperately tried to sign my dilemma to them in a series of body flailing movements. One of them finally understood, and went to open the doors from the outside. Relieved, I started to move towards the door, only to be greeted by closing doors again. The bus driver had made his way back up front and was in no humor to let me off. “I TOLD you you were not getting off this bus until the bus is reinstated.”

Now I was not only confused, I was pissed. I had just did what he had asked. Looking back at the seat covers, they were down, wrinkled maybe, but if that was the issue this man had a true case of OCD, or a controlling power complex. Knowing at this point that I was representing the school, and in front of two pupils, but still wanting to let him know that this was absurd, I said “Sir, I am a member of staff and would appreciate not being spoken to like a child.”

That was greeted by “A member of staff?” with a condescending chuckle, and an “apparently you have no control over the children.” I was livid and wanted to get off the bus, so I made my way back and started to flatten the wrinkles. Please note that this is not an over exaggeration.

At this point my colleague had made her way on the bus and seemed about as perplexed as I was. She asked the two pupils remaining why they were still on the bus. The bus driver took this as his signal to step in, and lay into them directly. He accused them of being “unruly” and “mischievous,” and argued that had they not been so insolent, the phone would not have been lost. Immediately my colleague corrected the fanatical old man, saying that it was of no concern to him, that he was not to speak to the children as such, and that she would take care of finding the phone.

The phone was finally found (it was wedged between two seats), the children proceed off, and my colleague and I were left dumbfounded on the bus with this pompous you-know-what. The conversation that followed lasted for half an hour. I only stuck around for half of it before storming off. I was told to “Behave!” My parting words were something along the lines of “I am twenty-two years old and a member of staff; this is absolute bullshit.” What a role model I am.

So that started my fabulous week of misery. An even more fabulous weekend of lacrosse ensued. I had a tournament both Saturday and Sunday. After a 45 minute bike ride to the tournament on Sunday I learned that only one of us had to be there. Mind you three of us went. NOT HAPPY. Add to that a very awkward, very uncomfortable atmosphere at work yesterday, and you are starting to see the trend.

My hope is that things will be on the upswing sooner than later. Actually, it’s my plea. Fingers crossed for the weekend!

By the By

By the By…

1. The English don’t have Smores. In fact most Englishmen I question have never even heard of such a food.
2. The English rarely ever eat with their hands. There is no exception for fries, pizza, or Yorkshire Pudding.
3. The English switch their month and day when writing the date. So in England September 3, 2009 is written 03/09/2009.

Tea Time

Ahh what a busy day today was. I woke up, had a delicious English breakfast, and had a productive work day that was interspersed with an infinite number of coffee breaks. As a hopeless addict to coffee, my mom warned me that I would be unable to get my fix when I ventured to the UK. That, thankfully, has proven false. The English love their coffee; tea time is no longer tea time it is coffee and tea time. Coffee is always available, and if it’s not it is almost guaranteed to be served hourly. The coffee, however, from my very limited experience is not as strong or as tasty. It can’t be; it’s not brewed, it’s instant.

When I wasn’t fixing my secret addiction to caffeine at 9, 11:30, 2, and 4:15, I was learning the ways of the public school system. Now it is important to note here that in England, a state school is what we would consider a public school in the states and a public school is what we would consider a private school. If you prefer, as I do, you can simply refer to these public schools as independent schools to clear up any confusion. That confusion though seems to be limited strictly to Sarah and I. Not only are we still trying to cope with the language or rather vocabulary barriers, but we are also still struggling to understand the educational system.

From all that I have gathered this educational system, at least in the independent sector, is far less independent than one would assume. As it is reiterated, girls are very nice and very keen, but we must be wary of pushing them too hard. The idea is that we are to guide these girls while basically holding their hands along the way. It’s a very illogical concept for me as a product of mostly state (aka public) schools. While yes, encouragement and tenderness are essential in successful teaching, so too is a little discipline and a reality check every once in awhile. Mind you, I’m not the one with a teaching degree.

More than just learning the vocabulary and the system, I have to learn an entirely new practice in a very different setting. The P.E. gymnasium is a change of scenery from the office, but I don’t see it as a necessarily bad thing. Having a type A personality, I quite enjoyed my previous corporate office experience for it’s organization, need for self-motivation, and demanding schedule; not to mention that I absolutely loved the PR and marketing work that I was doing. I now find myself in the midst of a very different setting; attempting to be organized, self-motivated and busy but finding that I don’t quite know where or how to begin. I am thinking/hoping that once the pupils return I will more readily find that starting point.

I {heart} lax

I had honestly forgotten how much I love lacrosse. I am laying most of the blame on playing in college. Sure I enjoyed it; I wouldn’t have completed four years at that elite level, and eleven years of play before that had I not. But by the end of this Spring I was burned out, in fact I was more than burned out and utterly fed up with the politics. I was ready to hang up my cleats and move on with my professional career.

But despite my waxing and waning enthusiasm for the sport, I seem to have again found the interest, passion, and love for it. Maybe it’s because there isn’t the pressure. Maybe it’s because I finally learned to play for myself after all those years. Maybe it’s because I’m finally coaching. As the term nears, and I am just days (two to be exact) from meeting my future team, I find myself getting more and more anxious. I want to show these girls how fun lacrosse can be. I want to show these girls just how good they can be as individuals and as a team. I want to show these girls the million and one opportunities that can come from playing (whether it be the great friends made or scholarships earned). While I have no idea where to even begin, I can safely say that I am extremely excited for the challenge and the opportunity to again be a part of lacrosse.

I am actually so enthused about lacrosse at the moment that I will be playing for a local club team, Harpendon, while in the UK. Practice starts tomorrow. I am interested in seeing for myself the standard level of play. As I have heard from coaches and players alike, UK lacrosse is not US lacrosse. The most striking difference is the competitive level; it seems that the states are far more advanced and skilled. I obviously have no basis for these opinions, so I am quite curious to see for myself. Knowing my luck, the alleged rumors will be false and I will be annihilated. Tomorrow will be the moment of truth.

I guess it can’t be too bad; I have been trying to get back into shape. This summer was an utter disaster. Between my insanely long work day and hour long commute into and out of the city, exercise was a low priority on my to-do list. Each weekend it would land back at the top, so nearly every Monday I ran, but by the time Tuesday rolled around I was already defeated. These past few weeks have been much better. Sarah (my new roomie and fellow American) has helped tremendously in this task. We biked to St. Alban’s yesterday, which is no walk in the park let me tell you. Today we ran, or should I say attempted to run, to Berkhamsted. We had every intention of getting there, but after about 4 and some odd miles of running and not reaching the town we decided it best to turn back around to Hemel and avoid the dark. As we’ve been told hooligans run the streets there.

So for now we, or maybe I should say I, seem to be on the right track. Let’s hope it stays that way. I am determined to run a marathon, and will be sorely disappointed if I leave the UK without fulfilling this ambition.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.