TheRealSharon's Blog











{May 24, 2011}   Part 2 of my 2001 Missions Trip

Part 1 left off after arriving at the old YMCA building that we stayed at. After setting up my stuff in my room that I would spend the almost 2 weeks in, I also learned that our bathroom had two shower stalls with just a curtain in front. So we were told to take showers at the same time as another girl so we wouldn’t hog the bathroom too much. Well, I ended up taking one AFTER everyone or at a time when no one wanted to take one just so I could avoid this. I didn’t want to change in front of people so I certainly wasn’t going to be showering with someone else in the room either!

From here on out in my post, I’ll be jumping back and forth between things because my remembrance for the exact timeline is a little lost on me now.

I would say it was probably a day or so after we arrived in Wales that I started having headaches pretty much consistently. I KNEW there was a chance of it being because I had drank caffeine so I just kept popping Ibuprofen and went on with the trip. The first day was extremely hard because we were all dealing with jet lag and we couldn’t give in to it. We HAD to keep ourselves awake until night time so we could be on a better schedule. Needless to say, about the time you got used to the new time schedule was when you were back in the US and had to get used to a new one!

There were a lot of fun experiences that I remember. It definitely wasn’t all bad. We got to see some beautiful castles and we got to shop some which was absolutely wonderful as I’m a woman who loves shopping! I didn’t just buy for myself either. I bought a diamond pendant that said “Mum” on it for my mom as her birthday was the day we would return. I bought a beautiful white “Christening” dress for one of my best friends who just had a baby girl. It was just to give her a pretty little church dress, not for an actual Christening. I bought a Mom, dad and baby bear figurine that were dressed in London type clothes to give to my mom but she told me to keep it as I have a huge thing for teddy bears. I also got a stuffed teddy that has a sweater with the Welsh flag on it and a lovespoon with a treble clef on it since I love music.

We visited this old Welsh village and saw some old fashioned homes and got to try some good old homemade bread. I remember the doors of the houses being so small…I could fit in them easy because I’m short but a lot of people had to duck. Apparently the Welsh are traditionally short or at least used to be? We did Vacation Bible School at this one church and I actually taught a class or co-taught. It made me rather nervous but I actually got through it. I’ve always loved little children and it was so much fun working with them. I remember this one little boy that was riding a bike when we were handing out tracks and he wanted to help hand some out. It was so cute!

I saw some not so great things though. I noticed a lot of dogs ran loose around the streets and was actually told that some of the dogs had killed young kids and nothing had really been done about it. This really broke my heart. I also learned that the legal age for drinking in pubs there was 15 and as most stores closed as early as 5 in the afternoon, there wasn’t much for kids to do around there and they turned to alcohol and ended up in trouble. All of this broke my heart to hear.

I was also under the misconception that there wasn’t really that much of a difference between the English and the Welsh but quickly found out that they don’t typically get along with each other. The Welsh actually have their own language that is very confusing if you ask me. But one huge difference is their demeanor. From the little bit of time I was in London to the time I was in Wales…all over Wales…I noticed the Welsh seemed much more laid back and nice. Not to offend my British friends reading my blog, but I met some very sweet Welsh people that really touched my heart. I have a deep love for Wales ever since that trip and would so love to go back one day.

I would love to tour England too and give it another chance as well, though.

The food was interesting for me…..We in the US like to put pickles on everything and in England and Wales, they love their cucumbers. I have never ate so many cucumber sandwiches in my life! And did I mention I hate cucumbers? UGH! Oh, but the fish and chips! They were awesome! I could have just lived off of that if given the opportunity! I obviously experienced many new things with food….I tried hot tea. It wasn’t really a surprise that I detested it because I’ve never cared for iced tea either. It tasted like a worse version of something I already hate. I got to try “squash” too….I believe that’s how they spell it….here, squash is a veggie and ONLY that. There, ‘Squash” is what they kool-aid. I wasn’t much of a fan of that either because it didn’t seem sweet enough. I guess us Americans are used to sweetening things so much that we don’t like our drinks dulled down. Pepsi was my mainstay whenever I could find it. Thank God for Pepsi! UK brought my love for Pepsi back from the dead. When I got home, I could never look at Sprite the same way again. I always thought I would take a sip and it would have changed on me and betrayed me like its British counterpart.

One morning we had breakfast at a restaurant nearby instead of our basic cereal meal at the YMCA. I ended up ordering some sausage and eggs with toast, I believe, although I’m sure I had to ask for a translation as to what that was exactly on the menu. We were offered something called “Black Pudding”, to which I grimaced and said no thanks. If I don’t know what something is, I’m not about to try it! Most everyone else had some and seemed to like it but later, when we found out WHAT it was, I was glad I stuck to my convictions. Apparently, Black Pudding is Pig’s Blood. Uh……yea, no thanks!

I did end up getting fooled at a different time on the trip, though. We went to a special church event at the park and had hamburgers. Of course, this was during the mad cow disease epidemic so beef was out of the question, but I was not thinking straight and I was hungry. I dug into my hamburger and thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I was told I ate sheep meat and I was not very happy. Sheep look too adorable to me to ever eat….: ( I felt like a murderer!

We had lovely weather for most of our 2 weeks. I believe it rained maybe two days that we were there. The temperature hit 80 and all of the sudden, it was like everywhere I looked, we were in Miami, Florida instead of Wales. Girls with basically just a bra and shorts on everywhere! I was utterly stunned….I mean, 80 is a nice temperature, yes, but cause for beach wear? I think not!

Before I close this Part 2 with promises of a Part 3 tomorrow detailing negatives that made the trip not quite as good, I will end here with an experience that occurred after the rain. Me and Kimberly left the YMCA to go look at the little shops around there and the rain had just stopped but the ground had puddles everywhere. As we turned a corner, I was a little too close to the curb and a big bus turns the corner, hitting an enormous puddle of water and totally raining on me AND my parade. So soaking wet, I continued on my walk to the shops, a little infuriated at the bus but also laughing at myself and the situation. We looked in a Woolworth’s which I had never been in before and a few other stores. Pretty much the only store experience that really sticks out for me is this store with baby clothes. I had gone in there, of course, to get something for my best friend’s baby and while I didn’t end up buying anything THERE, Me and Kimberly did have fun with the ladies of the shop. They absolutely loved my Texas accent and I told them I adored their Welsh accent. They were very kind ladies and even soaking wet, we returned later from our shopping excursion in a good mood and with leftover fish and chips! YUM!

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The Hook says:

This may sound strange, but I’m proud of you!



Nah, not too strange, LOL
🙂



Becka says:

You know I’m very adventurous when it comes to eating but I don’t think I’d be able to stomach black pudding…but had you not told me what it was I probably would have tried it…btw cucumbers rock and pickles are nasty…it’s amazing to me why someone would ruin a cucumber by soaking it in vinegar…lol



Yea, it didn’t look very appetizing on the plate either!
I hate vinegar but I like pickles….I’m not a HUGE pickle lover because after I eat too much, it makes my lips kind of hurt 😦



Oh man, they were going to have you shower at the same time as another girl? I wouldn’t have felt comfortable with that at all either, yikes.
That sucks about the headaches, that happened to me too in NY and I started getting really sick and lost my voice even.
Wow killer dogs running loose and drinking at 15? That is kind of saddening. Stores closing at 5 seems a little ridiculous too.
Cool about the fish and chips! My mom loves that and when she went back to England that’s what she had to eat a lot with her sister. She was born in England and came over here when she was 13. Glad you still got to drink Pepsi, that’s one of my favorite drinks too!



Yea, I was surprised that people seemed to think that was a normal thing…..I mean, it was 2 separate showers separated but there was just a curtain over the front….you would have to change somewhere, right?! And it wasn’t like anyone there was a best friend or anything…..if I had had a best friend, it might have made it a LITTLE easier but I still would have tried to get out of it!
The dogs thing…yea, very sad…and I could see why kids got into so much trouble with everything closing so early…there was not much to do around where we were. When I moved from a big city where everything is always open to the city I live in now….I pretty much freaked out when things closed at 10 or 11….but when I saw how things in Wales closed at 5….WOW! Schools don’t even get out until close to that time…
How cool that your mom was born in England! I can imagine her stories when she first moved here though…had to have been a big change for her!
I love Pepsi but my favorite now is Mountain Dew….Whenever I want something different, I will go for a Pepsi. I can’t stand Coke!



Oh, more culture shock! I remember my trip to the UK when I was 12 with my school. The food was awful (especially for us, French people) and as teenagers we needed to eat a lot and didn’t. When we got back home, parents were horrified when they saw us getting off the bus. We all lost a lot of weight in one week and all we ate were cookies and chocolate milk… British food has to be one of the worst on the planet, except for scones and shortbread cookies



From what I had to eat there…sorry British people, but I would have to agree!
I should move there so I could actually lose weight, hahaha…all I would eat would be fish and chips….I’m not a big sweets eater…in fact, I hated cereal for breakfast….I’ve never liked sweets that much….just every once in awhile.
Not sure if I lost any weight on that trip, but I’m guessing I probably did, seeing as I didn’t eat as much as I would have at home and we walked A LOT!



Jackie Paulson Author says:

I would not of liked showers with other girls! You bring inspiration to everyone, look at the comments. I am glad you got to experience this. I don’t think I would of been a good one for this trip.



Well, I would NEVER have been brave enough to go had it not been for the guy I met and was wanting to meet….which I originally talked about in my “What I would tell myself at 17” post. I signed up for the trip to meet him INSTEAD of for the right reasons sadly BUT he broke up with me right before, the money was non-refundable AND it WAS a trip to another country so I went anyways. Even though I had some negative experiences….it was so worth it…I truly believe God meant for everything to happen the way it did so I would go on that trip. I believe I was meant to be there and have that experience…I might not have thought that at the time but looking back, I feel that it was meant to be.



eof737 says:

In defense of British cooking, when prepared by a good cook it isn’t bad at all. The food at my school in England was very good and my mom was an excellent cook so I would hesitate and not generalize as it isn’t a completely true statement for all British food.
I have tasted awful French and American food but I wouldn’t say cuisine from both countries stink. 😉
One of my favorite teachers at school was Welch and we all loved her. Yes, the language is quite distinct and the people are warm…. I’m not aware of any major friction between the two; maybe case by case issues.
I am enjoying your story Sharon and stuff does happen when we go away; sometimes great things and sometimes not. But I can tell you cherish the memories of your trip and that is valuable.:-)
E



Sorry, no offense…just going by what I had the opportunity to taste but I’m sure if I had been there longer and tried more HOME cooking, I would have found more I liked….the fish and chips was delicious! I have yet to find anything in Texas that compares!
I was told by Welsh people that there were battles many years ago between the Welsh and the British as well as the Irish and them….I was also informed that British people tend to have a more “snobby” attitude at least from an outsider’s view and Welsh are more welcoming….from the little I saw, it seemed to fit that but I guess a lot of that comes from British people not being as open with their emotions or affections in public? Growing up in America, I’ve always been surrounded by people who openly expressed themselves and weren’t afraid of showing affection in public…so I don’t think it’s necessarily that they are uptight and all snobs but more that their culture is different from my culture so to us, they seem that way at times, you know?
I actually think it’s quite interesting that the British, Welsh and Irish used to conflict way back when considering I have a little of all 3 in my blood….apparently, not ALL of them were fighting ALL the time, huh? Cause some of them obviously got along well enough to pass the bloodlines on!



[…] 1, Part 2, and Part 3! The view outside my leaky window Cardiff Castle in Swansea, Wales Another castle we […]



[…] you haven’t read about my Missions Trip before and are interested, click for part 1, part 2, and part 3 and here for […]



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