Today, I found my cup of tea.
After two hours of getting on and off buses and finally just some walking, I arrived at the correct University of Brighton campus (apparently there are four) for a day of orientation. Mostly excited, but slightly worried that I wouldn’t make it on time, I wasn’t entirely sure what was going to happen, but I was hopeful. We met the study abroad advisors, Mary (a charismatic and warm personality) and Becca (a quiet, but sweet lady), who welcomed us and proceeded to bombard us with information. Thankfully, there were no ice breakers, but the awkwardness of an entirely new group of people hung thickly in the air without them. Because I am the only one living off campus, I felt a little out of the loop, as they all had met in the days prior as they moved in; however, as they started to make plans for this evening that involved clubbing and copious amounts of alcohol, I realized that this group was not quite my cup of tea. Suddenly, I no longer minded being the odd-one out, and was grateful that I had decided to live with the Hinkleys instead.
None of the Hinkley children live at home (making for a quiet house), but they do have a daughter, Rachael, who is my age. I met her my first day here, and she was very sweet. Then, yesterday, at church, I was able to meet many of the other young single adults from the area. Everyone was so welcoming, and one of them even invited me to go home with her and some of the others for dinner (lunch to them) after church. For the first little bit, I just watched to figure out the dynamic of the group, but after an hour or so and a game of Baulderdash (which I won, which must mean they like an American sense of humor…), I was growing to really enjoy the company.
So, tonight, instead of drinking or clubbing or doing who else knows what, I practiced (of course), and then went to their YSA family home evening. They do something pretty unique where each week someone on a committee prepares dinner and a dessert (nothing fancy), and everyone comes, pays a pound, and then eats together as if family, which is followed by a lesson and an activity. I met my visiting teaching companion, Kayleigh, and she’s turned out to be the most lovely girl. In fact, all the people I have met there (especially the sisters) have been really inviting and really fun as well (they’re currently set on trying to teach me a proper British accent).
As I was going home, Rachael asked about the people I’d met at orientation, and I answered “Well, they’re nice people, but they just aren’t my cup of tea,” (which she found funny, because as an American, and a Mormon, I really don’t drink tea). I then thought about all the young adults that I’d been privileged to meet, and realized that the program really feels like a family, and I was grateful for the church and the way it can help to make you feel at home, no matter where you are.
So, having found myself a nice cup of tea, and back in my room (the bus system is not as intuitive as I was expecting…), I think I’ll turn in for the night. Tomorrow is errand day (which should be quite the adventure…).