Third Time Lucky with Paris

As like many other Britons, France was one of the first countries I ever went to abroad, since crossing the channel is not a time consuming affair. But despite doing five years of French language at school and walking away with a B in GCSE French, I somehow hadn’t mustered any kind of affection for the place, even though my surname is French since my father’s family fled France during the revolution and settled in Scotland. Maybe I didn’t “j’adore” France because it’s been so closely integrated in British upbringing (as has the long standing sporting rivalry with our world war ally), and therefore couldn’t appreciate the contribution the French had on my daily life. I’d been to Paris twice on school trips in 2010 and 2012, my excitement fuelled by the media and one too many a romance novel. Whatever I was expecting, I didn’t get on those trips and I was bitterly disappointed with Paris and made no rush to immediately return.

However, after 2.5 weeks of travelling all over England with my American pal Madison (who visited me before going to Paris to study abroad for 5 weeks), I found myself being roped in to giving Paris a third chance. Madison loves France, and had studied in Strasbourg for a semester in 2015. She asked me to visit her on the weekend of Bastille Day and because tomorrow is never guaranteed, I was at the departures entrance of Birmingham airport on Friday 15th July 2016, 2.5 weeks after a tearful goodbye with Madison at Dollis Hill underground station in London. I’d opted to fly rather than have my first solo experience of the eurostar, because a flight was significantly cheaper. However, the price was the last thing on my mind when I awoke to messages telling me to check the news immediately. A terrorist attack had occurred in Nice whilst people were celebrating Bastille Day. Another devastating tragedy for France, as photos showed a country in mourning. It was news you don’t want to hear when you’re about to travel to the country that has been attacked, and it showed as my inbox flooded with messages to be ‘extra vigilant’ and to ‘stay safe.’ Fortunately, the flight to Paris was quick, but I immediately regretted layering up, for I was really sweating when I touched down at Charles De Gaulle airport. After some initial panicking and asking lots of people for help, I finally had a route and a metro ticket to my hotel. My anxiety settled when some locals helped me find my way and I could finally relax.

Madison was unable to meet me for a few hours as she was obliged to have dinner with her host family. I killed time with reading and social media. I made a short venture to an computer shop to buy a new adaptor as I’d mistakenly brought an American one with me. I bought a domino’s pizza for dinner because I wanted to have something I could finish quickly before Madison messaged me with a meeting place. We met at the stop Place de Clichy and I was concentrating so hard on not getting lost that I didn’t even see her when I stepped off the train and she shouted my name. We hugged and headed to the Sacre Coeur for an amazing view of Paris from the steps. The downside was that the area was known for pick pockets and I was grabbed a few times by men trying to sell crap to you. Madison saved me by stepping in and pulling me away and I grateful that I wasn’t alone. I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t slightly frightened by the ordeal. Still, we didn’t let it spoil our night, and we gushed about the latest developments in our lives. I’d just graduated from Keele University with a degree in English and American Literatures and Madison had transitioned well to life in Paris. We ended our night walking the streets and heading over to Notre Dame before parting ways for our early start the following morning.

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Day 2: Châteaux Galore!

The next day we were up bright and early for a day trip outside of Paris. The journey to our first destination Chateau de Vaux le Vicomte took about an hour, so I took the precious time to carry on reading the book Madison had lent to me, desperately hoping to finish it before I flew back to England. The first château was spectacular, and consisted of unbelievable interior design work and mounds of space. I went to Versailles in 2012 and I have to say that the attention to detail on artwork in France in general is just second to none. It’s truly a sight to behold, the owners must have been choking on their wealth. The gardens intrigued me the most. There is probably villages the size of it and I was just in awe for the duration of our visit. The location was ideal for iconic wedding photographs, as many couples were perched around the grounds with their photographers, trying to take photos worthy of a place on the mantelpiece. We had lunch in the café and brief browse in the gift shop before heading to the coach for our next destination: château Fountainbleau.

Unlike our first destination, this one was not in the middle of nowhere. The artwork and furnishings was equally as impressive as our first destination and we were once again in awe of our surroundings. Fountainbleau was considerably more crowded and after we’d toured seen everything we wanted to see, we headed outside to sit by the lake, topping up our tans and progressing through our books as we did so. There were a few rowing boats and ducks on the lake, basking in the sunshine and just basically being the picture of peacefulness. Our coach driver was nowhere to be found when pick-up time rolled around and we learned from other passengers that he’d been delayed. We got to know some of the other passengers whilst we waited, talking at length to an art teacher from L.A about travelling. When we got back to Paris, we went to the infamous bookstore Shakespeare and Co. and leisurely browsed the shelves. We were in there for so long that we used dinner of quiche and salad at a cosy place called la fourmi ailee, as a break from the shelves before returning the have a second browse! As the sun began to descend on a bustling Paris, a rollerblading performance caught our eye near Notre Dame. Paris was lively and clearly the place to be on a Saturday night.

Day 3: French football and the sweetest goodbye

On Sunday we were both feeling exhausted and under the weather, so I set out for the PSG stadium alone and agreed to meet up with Madison afterwards. I’d hoped that I’d be able to do a tour now that I was alone because I hadn’t wanted to drag Madison around something she had no interest in, but the stadium, and almost the every single shop in the surrounding area, was closed. I decided to walk around the stadium and take it in from the outside and there were other tourists doing the same thing. All around the outside of Parc de Princes were photos of stars both past and present of the club, most notably for me being Zlatan Ibrahimović (Sweden) and David Beckham (England). I took my time taking photos before eventually getting a coke in a bar with WI-FI so that I could message Madison. We met an hour later and went to McDonald’s for lunch, before heading to the cemetery where Oscar Wilde was buried, Père Lachaise Cemetery. The Importance of Being Earnest is my favourite play of all time and it’s also the only theatrical performance in which I have not lost concentration. His grave is so popular that there is glass case around it just to protect it. The graveyard is ridiculously huge. It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t imagine being dead and taking up so much space. After finding the grave of Proust, we slowly ventured to an Indian restaurant and got cocktails, as my knees were hurting from a long week and were threatening to buckle. Will they ever be what they were before? We both took time for social media and reading, in which I completed my mission and finished the Bill Bryson book that Madison had lent to me. We then ventured out for dinner of what were basically like the oatcakes you get in Staffordshire (not a literal cake) before setting off for the iconic Eiffel Tower.

On our way to there I spotted a bakery and finally got to devour my beloved macaroons. Madison got an ice cream, which was amusing because it was stupidly messy and she looked so adorable and young trying to eat it. We sat for a while in a local park and had one our talks about life, love and so forth. Because we became so close at the end of my time in Mississippi, we didn’t get to do many nights of being normal university friends like I did with Taylor. Whereas I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to travel with Madison and sadly not yet Taylor. It’s strange, but it doesn’t alter the importance of either friendship to me. We eventually get on the metro for our last stop of the night but when we reached the stop, we didn’t get off. I was confused. We literally went past the Eiffel Tower and still didn’t get off. I joked that I hoped she wasn’t going to punish me for our earlier difference in opinion by making my knees walk an unthinkable distance. “I’m only 21 and I need my knees”, I said jokingly. We eventually got off at Tropcadero and I followed Madison like a lost puppy to a square with the most breath-taking view of the Eiffel Tower, lit up in the colours of the French flag to commemorate the victims of the Nice terror attack. It was a spectacular sight. I felt a surge of love for France and my French heritage. It sadly didn’t sparkle for us, so we took one last selfie together and made our way back to the metro.

The Paris metro is fairly similar to the London Underground, except that rush hour doesn’t seem to exist because it is busy ALL THE TIME! People cram into the metro like livestock. I’m telling you, there was probably more room on Noah’s Ark! Anyhow, after two weeks away from Madison, I noticed that there were many moments when she would speak in an English accent over the weekend and not notice what she was doing, until I pointed it out. I joked that if it continued the next time our paths crossed (whenever that may be), that I’d find the subconscious convergence just as amusing. The reference to time seems to strike a chord with Madison, because she suddenly enveloped me in a heart-warming and almost tear-jerking speech on the metro about how our paths will most definitely cross again and she’d go out of her way to spend time with me again, in any corner of the globe. She said she’d even get a layover in Birmingham on the way to another destination just so that we could be reunited again. It’s in that moment that I realise that I am genuinely important to her, despite all my digs at her for her lack of response or communication with me. But she flew all that way to spend time with me and her words are exactly what I need to hear because I continually refuse to promise her a next time out of a fear of disappointing a face so full of youth and ambition. As we reach her stop and the goodbye looms, we hug for a long time. I don’t cry this time and she whispers in my ear that she’ll “see me soon”, so I let plant a kiss on her cheek and watch her go.

I wouldn’t say that I “j’adore” France (yet). I’ve only ever been to Paris itself for 3 days at a time, so I don’t feel like I’ve given myself the opportunity yet to truly know the place and develop a feel for it like Madison has done. The weekend with Madison was great, as our trips together always are, and I know that I’ll return to Paris again in my lifetime. Sometimes adventure is seeing things through the eyes of someone else, and after spending so much time with Madison, I know that I need to work on my travel independence again if I’m ever going to get through my travel bucket list. Madison is so many great things in this world but constantly remaining true to who she is and what she wants from life is something to be admired. The only sad thing about time is that rather unfortunately, and rather greedily, there will just never be enough of it spent with the people you care for the most in the world. ❤

 

 

 

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The End of Everything: Lisa Leaves the USA

Do you know

   Do you know….

I always knew this day was coming, but the longer I waited (I started blogging about leaving in December 2014), the more it seemed like a myth. I never saw any of my American pals on a daily basis, other than Elizabeth, Maddie and Jana. So although my heart feels like a disco ball with the utmost desire to shatter and hope someone love me enough to catch all the little pieces of me, I think the reality of the best experience of my life ending will hit me in random places. For example, looking at the moon is never the same now I’ve attached the sentimentality of my adorable Alabama bestie Taylor Barbour. On a foggy night when the moon disappears, I panic because I’ve lost sight of Taylor. But I know she’s there even when I can’t see her (or the moon), because that’s how true friendship lasts. I’ve cried many times about leaving my American bouquet of faces behind without a vase but once I’m gone things will be different from here on out. I’m the vase. They were my flowers. Each one a different kind, a different vibrancy of colour in their hearts, a different reason individually as to why I picked them. Since I refer to my heart as one of my blog post titles “The Ticking Time Bomb of the Jenga Heart, evidently this vase is made of glass. You can glue me together again when I break but the knowledge and evidence of the break won’t ever disappear. I have yet to decide who was which flower, other than that Erin was a Daisy, Jana was a daffodil, Anna was a lily and Elizabeth was a tulip. I will have many a “bouquet of faces” during my life, as some friendships wilt in neglect and a lack of vitamin ME (see what I did there 😉 ) and the odd weed creeps in and I know I need to rearrange things. I’m no Alan Titchmarsh, I’m a hopeless romantic. And I pray my bouquet will stay together without me.

Monday 15th June: Forever IS Over

The morning it came to finally “kiss” goodbye to Hattiesburg, I’d had one hour of sleep. I’d been out to play pool with Charles, Blake and Anthony the night before and then William and Julissa stopped by Taylor’s house to bid me farewell. It was 12:30am by the time I was finally by myself, maybe even 1am. I didn’t bother touching my suitcase until around 2am, as my questionable priorities of editing photos and instant messaging consumed my mind. I finished writing postcards, farewell gifts and final arrangements to my suitcases. I was too tired and done for to care that my case was a kilo overweight, I couldn’t willing depart with anything else. It took me another hour to get warm due to the poor circulation in my hands and feet; with the clock reading 5:30am as I messaged friends in the both the UK and the USA to pass the time. I suddenly decided that I wanted to have a properly recognised goodbye with my friend Erin, leaving her gift with her in person on my way to the airport and hopefully convince Taylor to take me, despite the fact time is not something we can spare today. I messaged Taylor before I drifted off for an hour of sleep saying “wake me up when you get up, I need your help with something.” She, alongside my alarms, woke me up at 7am and I eventually get up at 7:20am.Since I put all my cases by the door the night before, all I needed to do was get up and dressed etc.

“I don’t want to live

To waste another day

Underneath the shadow of mistakes I made

Cause I feel like I’m breaking inside.”

– Breaking Inside by Shinedown.

“Love is taking over me.”

Jason came back from work at 7:30am, I knew I couldn’t not say goodbye to him. I was brushing my teeth in his bathroom as he walked in and stood in the doorway of his bathroom. We just looked at each other for a long time saying nothing, both bracing ourselves to have the glass cave in on our little world. Like a Jack in a box, the pain accelerated up my heart at the sight of him and tears splashed down my face as I sprayed toothpaste everywhere as my chest began to rise and fall with my crying. I was embarrassed to have sprayed toothpaste all over his bathroom that I myself cleaned the day before. We hugged for a long time and talked for a while as I prepared to mark the end of my American Adventure and return to English soil. We sat on his front porch, sober and sad as we shared a final moment together. He expressed regret at life having different plans for his time; namely his job as it resulted in us not being able to see much of each other this semester. I was already crying as I got Jason to back me up on the idea of going to Erin’s house first as I broached the idea to Taylor. She agreed to do it, no hesitation or reluctance like I had prepared myself for. I’d prepared a speech in my head, ready to twist her arm if she refused but she didn’t and I think she could see that it was important to me. After hugging and kissing Jason goodbye for the final time, we drove to Erin’s house.

“I don’t want to fall and say I lost it all

Cause baby there’s a part of me to hit the wall

Leaving pieces of me behind

And I feel like I’m breaking inside.”

-Breaking Inside by Shinedown.

“No Good in Goodbye.”

As luck would have it, she wasn’t there at 8:20am when we rolled up outside her house. I left her present with her mum, who was clearly surprised to have anyone knocking on the door at an unsightly hour. She was really nice to me, saying it was nice to have met me etc and shook my hand. As I got back to the car I was waiting for Taylor to say something but she didn’t. So I just said “it’s probably best she wasn’t there to be honest.” Because if I’d seen anymore familiar faces that morning I’d have been replacing Andrew’s screen wash with my tears! After this we hit the road, it’s a straight road near enough to New Orleans. Taylor let me play all the songs I wanted to, which is mainly Daughtry (OBVIOUSLY 😉 ) and then some other pop that was relevant to how I felt that morning. I had put Taylor’s gift in the car and decided to let her open it whilst I was there when I realised she wasn’t nearly as emotional as I was. She liked what I had got for her and I opened her gift too. She had got me a framed photo of us, but the difference being that the image was printed on the glass. She’d already given me a passport case earlier and stated that “Europeans use passports for ID more than we do.” I was touched by her gifts. As we talked aimlessly in the car about the future, the rawness of how much I would miss my new best friend seemed to be following me. She said something about me writing a soppy romance novel that would make people forget who Nicholas Sparks was and she wanted to be the one to publish me. My heart gave way at the rush of love I felt for this incredible human being. Like Radhika during my first year at Keele, she had kept my wings intact when I felt like they were truly broken. As we arrived at the airport, I didn’t feel as sad as I had anticipated. That was probably due to the lack of sleep and the whole bottle of Barefoot Moscato white wine that I’d knocked back on Saturday night at my “farewell party.” I did so much crying that night, I was almost all out of tears. I got Andrew to take our photo before we said goodbye and of course I gave her some tears. She didn’t reciprocate them, she just told me “not to cry.” Andrew gave me a long hug afterwards, I don’t think I’d ever hugged my best friend’s boyfriend before that.

“Where’s the “good” in “goodbye”?

Where’s the “nice” in “nice try”?

Where’s the “us” in “trust” gone?

Where’s the “soul” in “soldier on”?

Now I’m the “low” in “lonely”

‘Cause I don’t own you only

I can take this mistake

But I can’t take the ache from heartbreak.” ❤ 

-No Good In Goodbye by The Script.

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“Dream Catch Me When I Fall…”

I was really excited to return home, despite being in such anguish about how much I would miss my friends. I willingly paid the excess baggage allowance, in desperation to just be back in my own room and bed. As I went through customs they looked at my passport for a long time so I decided to break the ice by saying “I wasn’t always that ugly” and they let me through the gates; shocked at such self-deprecating sarcasm. After using the 30 minute free Wi-Fi I wasn’t sure what to do with myself so I decided to read the letter Madison gave me for the plane. It was short and sweet, an A5 piece of paper filled with so much love and dedication that I found myself crying openly in public. I don’t think I’ve ever really cried at a letter before. She gave me a locket with a quote from my Instagram page “she believed she could, so she did.” I put it on, wearing my friend’s love around my neck as I went to finally get something to eat. I could hear English accents behind me so I innocently asked them where they were from in England and they said “Leicester.” I couldn’t believe it! I’d been in the USA for ten months and I’d not met a single soul from my county. I was ecstatic! I got a strawberry smoothie and I must have put too much pressure on it because the bottom came off and the smoothie went everywhere. The woman sitting next to me encouraged me to go and get a new one for free, so I did although Smoothie King were reluctant at first. The lady next to me and I got to talking. She admired me for all the travelling I’ve undertaken at a young age, she has a daughter the same age. As I got on the plane, the same thing happened AGAIN with my smoothie and a mortified me is given plenty of napkins to clean it up the air hostess. I’d managed to get it on my leggings and hi tops so I looked like I was peeing Pepto Bismol. I listened to my iPod on the first flight to Toronto and read Madison’s letter a few more times. I breezed through immigration despite the situation a month ago on the way back from Canada. Air Canada were late letting us board the plane to London, so I got chatting to an old English geezer who liked me because he thought I was a Londoner due to my accent. It’s not a COMPLETE lie… He was really nice and reminded me of own late Granddad. It was nice to be surrounded by familiar accents again. On the long flight back to England, I slept a lot but forced myself to stay awake to read some of the book Wilson had given me because he said he had read it on the way back from his study abroad and that he wanted me to do the same. I got through 30 pages before I went back to sleep again. I had a nightmare and ended up screaming “NO!” in the face of the sweet Indian girl sitting next to me that I’d been getting to know just a few hours before. She was alarmed and I apologised claiming “I don’t usually do that” which is a lie because I’ve been having weird nightmares and reactions to them since May 2013; breaking my nose being the ultimate nightmare result. However, she was nice enough to take pictures of London for me as she was in the window seat and I was in the middle as we landed at Heathrow. I got talking to a Canadian guy in front of me who was studying in Liverpool and I remember making some joke along the lines of “if I had a dollar, no actually a pound because its worth more, for every single time somebody commented on my accent or told me how cute I was, I could probably book my flight back to the USA tomorrow.” 😉 He responded with “oh I don’t doubt that.” 😉

Back on English Soil.

As we touched down, I felt a rush of emotion at returning to the UK for the first time since August 12th 2014. I took my sweet time getting to customs, making sure I could take snapchats with the London filter and messaged my USA friends about my arrival. I started to cry at random times, I v-blogged one moment. I had never felt like that about returning to the UK before. I was very unwell and extremely drained from the time away. Air Canada thought they had lost our luggage which was the last thing I wanted to hear when I’d paid extra to get it all home. I wasn’t in the South anymore and I knew it as I listened to passengers grumbling about the awful service. I told the woman “I’ve paid an extra $100 to get my luggage home so you’d better go and find it!” I was worried because I didn’t want to keep my parents waiting so a Canadian man let me use his phone. Thankfully it wasn’t long before our luggage came out. My parents weren’t there when I go through customs, it took them a few extra minutes to find terminal two. I was crying when I finally saw them, just overcome at the whole experience. We had our photo taken and then headed towards my mum’s new Kardashian looking white land rover and headed back towards Burbage from a busy Heathrow airport.

Happy Endings and Sweet Pretending Part 1: The Final Week in Hattiesburg

Week beginning May 25th 2015.

There’s a consistency in the grief and pain in “goodbye” in that it never gets any easier the older you get or the more times that you do it. Distance is irrelevant, as Rihanna states in “California King Bed.” It turns out I’m more well-known than I thought in this town, being dubbed “Hattiesburg elite” in my final week in the USA. I also apparently effected more lives/ left more footprints on hearts than I thought humanly possible. And that makes every happy and sad tear worthwhile, to feel so needed, loved and significant by so many. Maybe that’s the sweet pretending in that me leaving suddenly brought a lot of people’s emotions to the forefront. The apologies, dinner dates and farewell gifts made my suitcase for England overweight and my heart heavy with it as well. My anchor tattoo represents stability and being grounded but hearing all these kind words in the form of regret parcels made me feel like people were dropping the anchor from their shoulders on to my heart to relieve themselves of any guilt. Not all my friends were like that of course, but it hurt nonetheless.

Day One, May 26th- New Experiences in NOLA.

Madison recently made the comment that the tattoos of Lisa Berrie are a “map of the people she’s loved.” After thinking about it, she’s right. I got the anchor with Hannah (although Katie and I originally planned to get it together); “Lace” because my close friends called me that; a moon for Taylor; “every cloud has silver lining” for someone who helped me through a particularly trying time; and an infinity symbol in front of said quote for Jana after she wrote me the loveliest letter exclaiming that she was “eternally grateful” for my friendship.

Anyway the day I got Jana and Taylor’s tattoos, I really hit it off with my tattoo artist Anthony and he wanted to take me out. I was my super sarcastic self that day, partly due to being with Taylor so the banter was on top form. When I got in the car, he presented me with a bag of sentimental gifts which was very sweet and unexpected. He rented a car because his truck was playing up, plus NOLA is over 100 miles away! We then drive to the aquarium in New Orleans which was fun and we got to feed and stroke stingrays; something I’d never done before. We had a lot of common interests and similarities so conversation never dulled. We then went to Bubba Gump for lunch. I’d been to the one in New York two years ago and really liked it. He’s also older than me but I always see that as a good thing. I went home and addressed my packing situation after we returned. I definitely have some sort of attachment issue with people and possessions; in that I acquire too many and don’t know how/ want to let go. I’ve spent some serious cash sending myself things because I would rather ditch things back home than leave it in Mississippi and then realise I want it back in Leicestershire.

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Day Two, May 27th- Wilson on Wednesday.

On a wet Wednesday, I went to lunch with Wilson at Crescent City Grill in Hattiesburg. I’ve been there a few times with various people and it’s become one my favourite restaurants in town. The cuisine is largely Southern food such as crawfish and desserts like pecan pie (one of my favourites) and bread pudding. Wilson owns a huge truck (a “big” thing in the South) and he is a gent the whole time, opening the door for me etc. The world could do with a few more Wilsons! We had a class together in first semester, History 201: US History to 1877 and we’ve remained friends since then. We have a great meal together, he gets me to try oysters, to be eaten with crackers as a starter. We pick our own mains and then share two kinds of bread pudding for dessert (the last one he insisted I take home for Elizabeth. Such a sweetheart).

We talk a lot about culture differences which is something that made us friends in the first place. I like to make Wilson laugh, he has the cutest smile and really nice eyes. 😉 My friends later noted his attractive qualities and I just grin like “I’ve known him for a long time of course I’ve noticed these things!” Anyway, after lunch it begins to pour with rain so we hang out in my apartment. Wilson is coming to England to study abroad in June when I’ve returned home so I’m excited at the prospect about sharing my culture with him on my home soil. We didn’t really get to hang out during my time here in the USA but I’ve no doubt that I’ll remain friends with this gentle soul.

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At 3:30pm once Wilson has left, I skype with Jana. She’s excited about coming to visit me and we have a good chat. It makes me feel a lot better to see and speak to her, despite the screen between us representing the physical distance. An hour later I go to the gym with Blake as his guest for a “cheeky workout;” running a lot longer than usual because people handing me regret parcels infuriated me so much. I felt trapped in the guilt of others and it was too much for me. I ran for so long that Blake insisted on walking me to my apartment in case I fell on the way up! I shower as soon as I get in and go out with the Jason’s to Waffle House and then bowling. I haven’t seen Jason Smith in a while, it’s a lot less frequent now he is working full time as a nurse, so anytime with him I consider to be golden. I don’t eat at Waffle House and I’m in a foul mood which he eventually gets me out of after we rally a few remarks across the table. I get on really well with his friend Jason Jones. We’re left to talk and get to know each other for a while whilst Jason Smith buys food for a homeless man. We go bowling and have a good time in each other’s company. I capture the silliness of our friendship in videos. My foul mood is nowhere to be seen so you could say that Jason won that rally game, set and match. After bowling its another infamous night at Jason Smith’s house of drinks and DMC’s (deep, meaningful conversations); joined by a few other faces before wrapping it up at 3am.

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Day 3, May 28th- Thrilling Thursday

Hungry with Hannah

After weeks on end, I finally get to see my coordinator Hannah for lunch. She’s another one my friends commented on the beauty of, which again I’ve always been aware of having known her from day one of my American Adventure! Hannah had recently been in France and has had a busy semester so I didn’t get to see her much. Despite that, we do get on really well, she loves nothing more than to imitate my accent so sometimes I teach her English slang. I often find it hard to believe that she is over three years older than me. She takes me to McAlister’s for lunch which is a sandwich chain (American is littered in food chains) and we catch up on the recent adventures and stories of each other’s lives. As we talk about personal appearances she says “the next time you see me…” which makes me happy because its unintentional but it makes me believe that she genuinely means it about there one day being some form of sequel to me “American Adventure.” I help her do some work related shopping and then head to the international office with her to make sure I won’t have any problems travelling back to the UK after the “Canadian Crisis” during my time in Detroit. “That awkward moment when” I didn’t have my J-1 visa form when crossing the border and back again.

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10665904_751255008266014_4098252978624803408_nIf you’ve read my works before/ know me personally you’ll know that sentimentality is my thing. I really like the idea of fun photo booths over phone selfies, which I ask Anna to do with me. We do eyebrow threading first, quite literally a first time for Anna and then nails too since I haven’t had mine done since just before I left the UK. My day started being complimented on my choice of football (as in soccer) shirt to silver “about the hit the school disco” nails. The Chinese lady that does my nails tells me how beautiful my eyes are and says “why yo no have boyfwend? They headache huh? My boyfwend is a big baby.” I don’t feel like walking down memory lane so I just tell her I’ve dated during my time here but it’s not practical with me leaving. After this I go back to my apartment to meet Jose where I quite literally hop from Anna’s car to his.

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I haven’t seen Jose in weeks so I’m really excited to finally hang out with him again. I’m really bubbly and chatty as we drive to the restaurant. The last time we drove there it was closed so it was nice to finally share the experience of eating at one of his favourite places. We get steak for dinner and we’re stuffed by the time we’re done. Portion distortion is definitely a prominent thing in the USA!

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We decide to go to the Endzone bar and play pool after dinner. As luck would have it, I see the one and only “Hattiesburg Elite” Erin Curley sitting outside the bar as we pull up. Since I didn’t think I would see her again, I definitely feel like the stars are somehow aligned after spotting her. I think some would fall it fate. More so due to the fact I had quite literally just been talking about her when I saw her; which made me laugh a lot. I stated to Jose “she’s over there!” He didn’t seem to believe me at first until I said “no she’s quite literally over there with a drink in her hand on that bench” and we both laughed at the coincidence. I speak briefly to Erin and give her a hug before heading on inside to beat Jose at pool. The regular occurrence of me winning happens. Queen B, as always. 😉

Jose drops me off at Taylor’s and we all go bowling yet again. I win the first game, on a clear winning streak tonight it would seem! Taylor is back in classes and I don’t get to see her a lot because she always has this crazy schedule of work and university. It’s very admirable, I don’t know if I could do quite as much as she does! It’s always good to see her. She always makes me feel good about myself, she always has my best interests at heart which makes her protective of me, she makes me laugh and we ALWAYS have a good time which is why she is now my favourite person here in Hattiesburg (her and Jana are practically the same in their words to me so I figure Taylor can be my favourite American. 😉 ) I’ve said it to Taylor before but I’d wish I’d known her during my first semester like I do now. She is the definition of a true friend and I’ll miss her so much when I go back to England. 😦

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