22 and counting

In honor of today being the 23rd day of my arriving here in Nottingham, I would like to share with you 22 things that I have learned whilst on my own. Enjoy!

  1. Buses will run with or without you.
    • I mean, who knew? You arrive a minute late and they’re gone! You arrive at the wrong time, and you’re left waiting for another 20-30 minutes depending upon the time of day. I now have the Service 1 Navy Line bus information on my phone at ALL times so that when I am in town, I can just check the prospected bus arrival times. Quite a handy tool to have!
  2. Cities have a LOT of people.
    • I feel like such a small-town girl when I say this, but it’s true! Nottingham is home to over 60,000 students and even more career-aged! It is such a beautifully diverse city, and each time I get off of my bus in the City Centre, I can’t help but smile. Yes, it can be slightly overwhelming when you are just trying to get around swarms of people to catch a bus or make it to the grocery store, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
  3. Postgraduate work is the polar opposite of undergrad.
    • I intellectually knew that truth before coming here, but now that I am in the midst of assignments coming due and stories needing to be written, I realize that I am the only one who can do the work. I’m not saying that my BA wasn’t a difficult accomplishment to earn, but postgraduate work is entirely on you. If you don’t dig down and find the motivation to do the work, you are cheating yourself. Additionally, you can do the work halfheartedly just to have something to show, but an MA is self-taught so you get out of it what you put into it. Here’s to diligence these next several months!
  4. I’m on my own a good bit, and that’s okay.
    • In my undergraduate years, I was so concerned about always having someone to eat a meal with. Here in Nottingham, I will go to a cafe by myself. I will eat meals by myself. And believe it or not, it’s not the end of the world for me. The Lord has taught me to lean into Him so much just in the last three weeks, and I love this new level of intimacy that we have developed. Being alone is sometimes just a part of life and of growing up. Don’t shy away from having some time just to yourself…it can honestly be refreshing. (Especially when you really do need to finish an assignment!)own
  5. Being different isn’t something to be ashamed of.
    • I’m not being critical or condescending when I say that being a Christian in a fairly large English city is an anomaly. There are certainly Christians in Nottingham, and I can attest to how absolutely AMAZING some of these people are. On a smaller scale, however, we are a minority. Rather than viewing this through the lens of fear and doubt, the Lord has given me a spirit of courage to be who He has made me to be. Don’t shy away from sharing your faith with a spirit of gentility and love. The Lord will give you a wisdom if you just ask it of Him.
  6. You’ve got to work for what you want.
    • I know this sounds foreboding and serious, but I can assure you that it really isn’t. You literally have to work for what you want. If I want some groceries (which I am in desperate need of right now), I either have to hop on a bus for twenty minutes and walk for seven to get to one grocery store, or I have to make a fifteen-minute walk to another. The closest bus I can get to church is still a solid ten-minute walk away. Gone are the days where I could just hop in my car and have something at my fingertips. Now I have learned to truly appreciate what I have and to stay stocked so I don’t have to make as many frequent trips to the store!
  7. Opportunities are around every corner (if you take the time to look for them.)
    • I am in an UNESCO City of Literature for heaven’s sake! When you dare to open your eyes and actually see the world around you, you can learn just how much is out there for you to get involved in. With the wisdom of God, pursue what you’re passionate about! Stop waiting for the perfect moment when everything is aligned to accommodate you perfectly. Service and growth aren’t going to be comfortable, easy situations to maneuver. Seek God’s counsel and go forward!
  8. A Columbia jacket just won’t do.
    • Last night, I left a friend’s house around 8 and the cold permeated my thin jacket within moments. It hadn’t been that chilly all day, but when the sun finally set the coolness came out to play. I suppose it is time to hang up one of my favorite jackets and zip up one with a little more assurance of providing heat!
  9. Friendships aren’t convenient, but they’re worth it.
    • When you’re an adult, and everybody has their own work or school schedule, you are constantly striving to get around that impediment to spend time with one another. Establishing strong friendships is so important, but it also requires a greater deal of planning than it may have before. No matter the cost, having a group of people you can call friends is worth it!
  10. FaceTime is priceless.
    • Although we can’t talk everyday, being able to see and hear my parents and best friend makes my heart sing with joy. FaceTime gives you the chance to feel like you are still a part of their life no matter how many miles you’re apart. Thank you, technicians! notes
  11. Church is the biggest blessing of life!
    • When I say the biggest blessing, I mean just that. When Sunday ends, I am already counting down the moments until I’m back amongst a body of believers worshiping the King of kings! I used to take church for granted, it was something I could do every Sunday. Now I view it as a time of refreshment, rejuvenation, and refocusing. The world vies for our attention in a myriad of ways, but being amongst the body of Christ helps to put everything back into perspective. Church is a gift.
  12. Worship is a celebration!
    • Worship through song has always spoken to my soul in a great and mighty way. At Heart Church, I have learned that worship is a celebration. You can raise your hands and you can dance, you can sing at the top of your lungs and feel the glory of the Holy Spirit pour over you. It is such an indescribable scene to see the mingling of various age groups and cultures all praising the same Jesus. My cup runs over.church
  13. There are some linguistic hurdles to overcome.
    • I learned rather quickly that the article of clothing you wear over your legs is not called a pair of pants but trousers. Not a lesson I will soon forget. Although both the United States and England speak the English language there are some discrepancies and differences in terminology, slang, etc. As a lover of language, I find this to be an exciting challenge.
  14. Coffee, coffee, coffee.
    • I will never reject a hot cup of black tea, but if you present me the option of coffee (yes, even if it’s instant) I will always choose coffee. I have coffee grains in my blood, and there’s just no changing that!
  15. Making friends isn’t as hard as it seems.
    • The sweetest friendships I have made in Nottingham are the result of just talking to people. There’s no magic formula or specific conversation topic to ensure that the friendship blossoms, you just connect. That doesn’t mean I will be best friends with everyone I meet, but that I have learned the process of making friends is often portrayed as being such a strenuous thing. It’s not always comfortable, but once you get past the awkward small talk, good things can develop.
  16. Prayer isn’t something you do daily.
    • Being on my own and in the midst of some spiritual warfare, I have begun to learn that prayer isn’t just something to condense to a one-time-a-day thing. When you feel the urge, just stop and pray. Pray for direction. Thank God for coffee and the magnificence of His creation. Rejoice always, and pray without ceasing. When you are in constant communication with the Lord, the enemy has no potential for gaining a foothold in your life.
  17. Look both ways.
    • It doesn’t matter that I ride the buses at least two times a day, I still find myself forgetting which way to look. Thank God I am usually surrounded by a huge crowd so I can watch what they do.
  18. I have an accent.
    • Who woulda thunk? I have always been under the impression that my accent was pretty neutral as my dad was an Air Force kid, my mom hails from Michigan, and I grew up in Myrtle Beach which is too touristy to produce that distinct of an accent. How wrong I was! It’s odd being considered the unique foreigner, but in all honestly, I have never been prouder of being a little ole Southern girl! 😉accent.jpg
  19. Being an adult has its rough patches.
    • Transitioning from three years of having food provided for you hot and ready in a cafeteria to having to make every last piece of food you consume has been a transition to say the least. When I wake up in the morning, no one is going to make me breakfast except me. If the trash is full, I need to take it out. If I have used all of my coffee cups and just made a fresh pot, I have to wash the dirty cups. Being a full-fledged adult and having to budget isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but man it is rewarding!
  20. Be aware of your surroundings.
    • Yes, this can be applied to making sure that you are being safe when walking around at night but what I mean is that in a big city it can be easy to dehumanize people. You pass them by on the street and that’s it. But Jesus loves each and every person. When you begin to view people through His eyes, your whole perspective of life changes drastically. You aren’t surrounded by people, you are surrounded by souls.
  21. Risks can be a good thing.
    • Before coming to Nottingham I liked every single thing in my life to at least be somewhat predictable. While I still thrive off of consistency, I have learned to step out of my comfort zone. I don’t intend to take stupid risks like playing in traffic, but I want to live outside of the box I’ve often found myself in. Risks are where you most find God because our God cannot be contained by our finite borders.risk
  22. I’m on a mission to live.
    • I have never experienced such an overwhelming sensation of being in the will of God. I know that the Lord called me to England to get my MA, but I also know that the degree is just the tip of the iceberg. I am so in love with God, this city, and the future He is leading me towards. I see a life here, and I am eternally grateful that He called me out upon the waters. Nottingham, I’m not going anywhere anytime soon!

4 thoughts on “22 and counting

  1. This was beautifully written, and kept me interested the whole time! Lovely words Ashley. Glad to hear your enjoying Nottingham. When Jack and I visit soon, we’ll have to meet up for dinner.
    Love Penny x

    Liked by 1 person

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