A tour around Sussex

This weekend I left my gorgeous new hometown for this first time since arriving in Brighton almost four weeks ago (what the hell is it with time running twice as fast when you are abroad?!) to explore the equally gorgeous countryside around it. Brighton is nestled comfortably on the English Southern coast and is surrounded by beautiful natural sights, as well as incredibly british little towns. My uni itself lays in an “Area of outstanding Natural Beauty” and I can now wholeheartedly confirm this label.
Our first stop was the Seven Sisters Country Park. The seven sisters are seven absolutely gorgeous chalk cliffs, that make you almost jump out of your pants for how british they are. The whole park covers 280 hectars and is perfect for long walks or horseback-riding. Next to obvious natural beauty with meandering rivers and steep cliffs, they are also very exciting smuggler stories about the area and the very picturesque light house at the Beach Head for even more amazing photos and breathtaking views.
We then headed on to Eastbourne, a little coastal town which is so much more quite than quirky Brighton and supposed to be it´s posh sister. It also has a very pretty Pier and a nice Seafront walk, but I would definitely recommend coming back here during spring or summer, when the flower beds along the promenade are supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. But even in Winter the amazing architecture and the calmness of Eastbourne were lovely and having lunch in a traditional pub before buying Clotted Cream Fugde is a way to spend an afternoon just to my liking.

Obviously a trip across England would not be complete without seeing an old castle and having Cream Tea, which is why we headed to Pevensey Castle afterwards before enjoying the most delicious scones in the teeny tiny village Alfriston (Population 600).
The castle was build at sometime in the 4th century and while time has taken it´s toll on it, it is still a very nice sight. Paying entrance to me is not necessary as you can see most of it perfectly through the gate and save the money for more tea and scones later. Which is exactly what we did by finishing off our trip with delicious Cream Tea (Early Grey, scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam and simply the best thing ever) in a tiny tea shop in Alfriston.
I absolutely loved exploring more of my sorroundings and can´t wait for more trips across England once it gets a little warmer.

First weeks in Brighton

This first two weeks have been filled with new friends, trips to the gorgeous city of Brighton, module changes, getting lost and so much fun.

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For my exchange I decided to look for a shared flat off campus instead of student housing at the University of Sussex and honestly I am so happy about this decision. Usually your exchange university will give you a bunch of information about where to look and how to find a reliable agency for housing, if they do not have university owned housing. I am the only exchange student that I have met so far, that doesn´t live on campus and while that sometimes means taking longer to get to class and missing out on some social activities, I absolutely love my flat, my roomies and my cute little room. It is obviously up to you to decide and it might be easier to just get student housing, but having a house I really feel comfortable in is so important to me and maybe to you as well.

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Other than settling in my new flat I have spend an abundance of time checking out all the possibilities my university here in England offers. There seems to be a society for anything and everything from Harry Potter fan clubs to choirs. I joined my school´s gym and have been taking a lot of different classes and while the usually leave me incredibly sore, that was so much fun! I also auditioned for the school´s theatre club and even though I did not get a role it was a fun way to meet people. This week I will go to the Amnesty International meeting at my school and so in general during your exchange there is always new stuff to try out, to experience and lots of chances to meet new people.

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I have already met a bunch of very sweet exchange students and I already recognize faces from my classes so go me! Trips to Barcelona and Dublin have been booked and after two weekends of celebrating Australia (STRAYA!) day and watching the Superbowl with no concept of what is going on, I am off for a trip around the Sussex countryside this weekend.

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DSC_3351Last, but not least I started discovering Brighton, this beautiful little town by the sea and I absolutely love it. The gorgeous sea front, the quirky pier and the beautiful little lanes in the city centre are all absolutely fascinating and great to get lost in. Brighton´s restaurants have even better ratings than the ones in London and being the foodie I am, I would love to try every single one of them.

So I can honestly say I more or less settled in and I am having a bloody good time in Ye olde England so far 🙂

It´s okay

The first week of your exchange is usually filled with excitement, expectations and everything new. If you have an introduction week like I did at Sussex University, you will meet people from all over the world, fill your head to the brim with informations about your new school, get confused about timetables, maps and the campus and just generally have incredibly much going on.

My introduction week at Sussex is the third time I am moving to a new country and start over again and after one or two “first” weeks somewhere you realize some things, that might be helpful for you guys:

1. You will be okay once you start traveling.

Before every trip, every move, every new start you will feel anything from excited to anxious. The last days at home before you fly out are usually extremely stressful and emotionally challenging. They are so many goodbyes during that time, so much left to do and not being able to sleep or having to cry, because of the littlest things is totally normal. However for me (and a lot of people I talked to) as soon as you start your journey and you are on your way to your new home the anxiety will get better, mainly because after months of thinking and talking about your trip, you finally start going on it and you will soon realize that while a move across Europe or even across continents is a challenge, that if you take it step by step you can absolutely do it.

2. It´s okay to take care of yourself first

At least in the first few weeks you are in this alone. So you need to start taking care of yourself as good as possible. If after a long journey you are tired and all you want to do is sleep, it is fine to skip one pub night (trust me there will be loads to come) and just relax. If you need alone time in between all those introduction talks and meetings that is fine. If you are too tired to cook, it is fine to just order a pizza If you do not feel comfortable with the people you first hang out with, it´s okay to talk to other people. Being a little selfish during the first weeks of your exchange is okay and necessary. Listen to your gut and learn to trust yourself.

3. It´s okay to just start talking to strangers

Worrying too much about not finding friends is unnecessary. In the first week everyone is more than happy to have someone to talk to so if you just start talking to a stranger sitting next to you in a lecture or someone who looks just as lost as you are they will probably be thankful. Invite people for a coffee and get to know them better.After introduction week try to get involved in sports or clubs at your exchange university to meet local people with the same interests as you. Generally just talk to as many people as possible and smile at everyone. Try not to only hang out people from your home country or your school, but make it your goal to at least chat with a new person every day.

4. It´s okay if your first week is also your most expensive one

In your first week you will probably spend more money than in any other week of your exchange. You will spend ridiculous amounts on airport food. You will totally mess up your budget for public transport because you have no idea about discounts. You will go to the most expensive supermarket by accident and the drinks at all these bar nights will slim your wallet more than any crash diet. It is fine. Start budgeting once you settled in, use the introduction meetings to ask for the cheapest options and don´t worry too much if you spend a little too much in the beginning.

In general be nice to yourself the first week. Starting new is never easy and it is extremely stressful emotionally. So be good to yourself and do not sweat the small stuff. Be merry, go out, have a good time and just enjoy the start of this new chapter of your life. Hope you have a great introduction week!