Tuesday, January 18, 2005

There's No Place Like Home(stay)

I have returned to Sussex after a lovely weekend in the small town of Chandler's Ford, which I spent with a wonderful, kind, and welcoming couple who were kind enough to take me in. They showered upon me every imaginable kindness and comfort. Barbara, an excellent cook, prepared fried fish with veggies the first night, vegetarian shepherd's pie the second, and, for Sunday dinner, made a combination of foods anyone familiar with my eating patterns will find it difficult to believe I didn't directly dictate--macaroni and cheese, cheesy baked potatoes, mozzerella and tomato pizza on a shredded potato base, salad, tuna, and hardboiled egg. All of which was incredible. Martin took me out to meet a fellow student and her host father in a local pub on Friday evening.

On Saturday they took me sightseeing around the area. We visited Southampton, an important port which saw launchings of such momentous enterprises as 2 million D-Day troops, the Titanic, and the Mayflower (the latter of which was memorialized in a park at which we stopped). We also went to Winchester Cathedral, a magnificent and fascinating structure, as well as to Jane Austen's house, where my own personal highlights were seeing her writing table (tiny!) and, from her bedroom, the view out the window she must have gazed upon while pondering her literary endeavors. On Sunday, after a brisk walk to the top of a hill for a view of the countryside, their two grown sons (24 and 26, I believe) came over to visit with some friends, which was quite an interesting experience, as they were all rather exuberant (and friendly) youths. I also watched some hilarious British TV (their versions of Survivor (called Scream If You Want To Get Off), American Idol (called Stars In Their Eyes) and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire (same title, different host, questions, and contestants)). And hey, it wasn't just vegetating, it was cultural research! We also watched Thelma and Louise, which was much fun.

Overall it was a wonderful experience. The culture shock I experienced last week is fading pretty well, but homesickness is lingering on a bit longer, I think exacerbated by the brevity of my time at home over Christmas. So it was nice to have people cooking for me and driving me around, some time to just relax on a sofa and watch TV, a few days away from school, and just generally a home around me for a little while. It was so good I might sign up for another homestay through the University of Sussex.

Know, though, I do miss you all, especially my dear dear parents. If you're at home now, take a look around and thank the people that make it what it is. I guess I've developed a tendency to sign off with an encouragement to appreciate your surroundings, especially if they're familiar ones, but I think a lot of what I've gotten out of this first week has been exactly that. We take these things for granted, often, and it takes their absence to make you realize their value. I love you all.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Was the vegetarian shepherd farm-raised? And did he die of natural causes? And, Clarice, have the tomatoes stopped screaming?

Ta ta for now-


6:21 PM  
Blogger your doting mum said...

I do hope the potatoes were Dolphin safe as well.....As you know from my last e-mail the surroundings here which you blithely call "familiar" are once again, or continually as usual, changing.... by means of paint, rearrangement, purge & new acquisitions. Just want to keep you on your toes - or keep you guessing. Love you always!

7:38 AM  

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