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Yorkshire Tales

April 11, 2013


That was how Saskia suggested I start today’s blog. Let me know if you like it? It’s so enthusiastic that I might start every blog that way from now on.

You remember Saskia, right?


She spent the last academic year in Chapel Hill, where I was her mentor through a group that helps international students navigate UNC and America. I seriously think we lucked out by being assigned to each other. Last year, our shared adventures included Thanksgiving, an author’s tours, a bit of spring break, Holi, and a few vlogs. She’s a cool kid.

Post-Holi. Can you tell which one of us doesn't like to get dirty?

Post-Holi. We’re so pleased to be covered in paint dust.

She helped me quite a bit when it came to deciding to study abroad. When I chose to study in France instead of her home country of England, we determined it would be superbly awesome if I spent the Easter holidays with her and her family in York.

There was a bit of difficulty arranging it, what with travel costs and conflicting course and bus schedules. And then there was a bit of difficulty actually getting there because of snow and mixed up bus stops. But I successfully arrived the Thursday before Easter.

It was, in fact, superbly awesome.

Saskia’s hometown is a small village just outside of York, and I find it adorably English. There’s the village hall, the church, and the pub everyone goes to. It’s small enough that you can walk or bike anywhere. Everyone seems to know each other, and Saskia’s family was pet-sitting the neighbors’ sheep for the week.

These are not *the* sheep, but these are two of many sheep I saw during the week.

These are not *the* sheep, but these are three of many sheep I saw during the week.

Saskia, her sister (hello, Mhairi!), and friend (hello, Jo!) took me to see York on Friday. Like Reims, York is an old city. Roman walls kept intruders out, and now the walls keep tour buses out. It’s a pretty cool city for New York to be named after.


New York lacks the ruins, and it lacks streets with buildings that date back to the 1500s.


York is old, but it’s energetic and a bit quirky. There are shops and street musicians and ice cream stands, cathedrals and cobblestones and Roman walls. It’s a fun city to explore.

The Easter weekend itself wasn’t spent in the village or city but deep in the English country side, at Saskia’s grandmother’s with the entire family. The house is, in Saskia’s words, “Halfway down a hill in the middle of nowhere.”

But nowhere is gorgeous, isn’t it?


Saskia’s family is beyond lovely. I need to take a moment to thank everyone, from Oma to Lucious Lolo (that’s not a typo on my part) and Polite Paul and Very Mhairi and Mother Dunn (especially Mhairi and Mother Dunn, and Alastair and Steph, too) for welcoming me and making me feel like a part of your large, hilarious, loud, and extraordinarily kind family. Thank you for finding stroopwafels and for inviting me for an nighttime walk even though it was one of the darkest moments of my life (literally, not figuratively) and for giving me a place at your table.


I’m delightful, see?

It was so, so nice to be with a family again, especially on Easter. And it was one honestly of the happiest, most fun Easters I’ve had in a long time. There was amazing food, beautiful scenery, pop-up charades, and wonderful people. There were also Kinder eggs, of which I am always a fan.

Saskia’s immediate family continues to get thanks after Easter for showing me more of England than I probably would have ever seen. On the way back to York we stopped in Whitby, a town known for its fishing and tourism.


We saw horses next to an abbey that’s thousands of years old, bought Whitby Rock candy and cotton candy, played mini golf, walked to the ocean, and ate fish (or in my case, sausage) and chips.




It was a beautiful day, and our journey continued to Goathland Station, home to steam engines and the filmed Hogsmeade platform.


I like to think these two are the best of friends.

I would be stuck in York until Thursday, since the bus that would take me to London to take the train to Paris didn’t run the days following Easter. I didn’t mind, though, and I still don’t mind; it was such a great week. And I think I learned more about English history and culture than I would have learned about journalism in the classes I had to miss (sorry, teachers. You’re great, really, but I’m going to have to call an educational absence on this one). Saskia’s mother denies it, but I still think she knows everything that has to do with the world. We talked about religion and England and America and culture and journalism and classical music and adventures.

I like these adventures. I’m going to miss them when I leave Europe — a lot. It was a very, very good English adventure, and I have to thank Saskia and her family again for showing me so much, from the city to the country and from pub food to home-cooked English food. But after a week, Thursday came, and so did my bus.

It had been almost a year since I had last seen Saskia. I’m consistently terrible with goodbyes, and Saskia’s a champ at them. I’m kind of jealous. But the championing was contagious, so I hugged her and her mother and got on the bus like a pro.

It was a bit of a revolution. Or perhaps a revelation.

I was a small type of wreck the very beginning of January, as I was preparing to leave the States. I’d already said goodbyes to some people, and the hardest ones would be on the day of my flight. It’s always been that way — 9/10 of an experience I’ll enjoy, and then I then panic and feel down during the last 1/10 in order to brace myself for the end. It’s never intentional. And I don’t think it’s terribly uncommon.

But on Thursday, I didn’t want to feel sad about leaving. I just didn’t. While I don’t think this was the last time I’ll see Saskia and her family again, I don’t know when the next time will be. And I didn’t want to spend those last moments downcast — especially when we had had such nice weather.

How much more valuable would my time be if I just stayed happy, waiting for my bus and concluding a fantastic week with a friend and family, holding off on any other emotion until I got on the bus, where I would have hours of commuting ahead of me? And how much valuable would my remaining four weeks in Paris be if I just stayed happy, finishing my classes and planning what else to see, than feeling down that the semester is coming to an end and that it’s impossible to see everything?

It’s breaking habit. But it’s a good habit to break, especially now when I don’t know if or when I’ll be able to come to Europe again. I can feel down on the plane ride home. But I don’t want to spend time on this bit of land with negative emotions if I can help it. I think I learned more than history and culture that last day in England.

Dunn family + extended family, thank you so much again for everything. You all are awesome.

And to everyone, I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

(The one on the left is in fact not mine. Saskia still likes America. I like rabbits.)

(The one on the left is in fact not mine. Saskia still likes America. I like bunnies.)

America, I’ll see you in less than a month.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mother Dunn permalink
    April 14, 2013 4:02 pm

    Don’t worry – if you don’t come to York again we’ll just have to come to the States to find you

    Mother Dunn

    • April 20, 2013 10:06 pm

      Oh, please do! I will try my hardest to come to York again, but if I can’t, I and the rest of the States will gladly welcome you.

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