Friday, December 28, 2012

England and back, the conclusion

It took me awhile to write my final thoughts on our jaunt across the pond because honestly I was too busy enjoying myself. When we left I didn't think that we'd meet people no where near as amazing as the people we met while were there. The places we went and the food we ate we're incredible bonuses to an already fantastic adventure with Rachel.
In the last few days I really became familiar with the term 'bittersweet' because at that point I was more than ready to come home but wasn't ready to come back to a life that we put on pause. Luckily we got to go to Scotland in the last few days because it turned out to be my most favorite part of the entire trip. Give me a kilt, throw me the bagpipes, and pass me the haggis because that's the place I want to be! :p
Getting to see our friend Linzi at home was as awesome as it was confusing at first because I'm so used to her in our life in America then suddenly were in her world in Scotland. Her family is one of the best groups of people I'd met it a long time, so fun and full if laughter.
This is the one experience that my life needed before I was just sort of wandering with the wind. Now I've got a sail and can go in any direction when ever I want exploring to the fullest! Now that I'm back with my family I appreciate our time together so much more than before. Not only that I feel my capacity for other people in general has tremendously increased, meaning I'm feeling a lot more patient, for now. :D
This is my last post for this blog and as Rachel has already told you, check out our other blog sunflowers and Skyscrapers. To get an inside track on our transition from university to the rest of our lives.
Thank you so much to all of you who helped us take this incredible trip and another thank you to all of you who followed our blog and our vlogs and just were super supportive of the entire adventure. You all are awesome and now on to 2013 full steam ahead!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Home Sweet Home

We made it.

After four months of traveling, Raymond and I are both home for Christmas. We loved everything about our trip, except for being so far away from home. We truly had the opportunity of a lifetime to live in Europe for a semester, and it was one of the best decisions we've made in our time at university.

Scotland was beautiful and fantastic! We started our time there in Edinburgh, and then went to Glasgow to see Linzi Allen, one of my favorite golf mates. Edinburgh was full of ancient buildings with a giant castle in the middle of the city, and Glasgow was surrounded by beautiful countryside.

Her family kindly let us stay with them, and we were so happy to be in a comfortable house after so many weeks of dorm life and traveling! Finally, it felt like Christmas time.

One of the mornings we were there, Linzi drove us around the hills to see the ocean (and by the way, she's fantastic at driving a stick shift). The sights were breath taking. We also had the chance to walk part of her regular golf course, and I couldn't be more jealous! Several holes on the course play right along the ocean. It's beautiful and perfect for Scotland. Raymond decided he wants to retire there some day, he loved the land and the people so much.

Our days in Scotland were likely some of the best of our trip, and I'm so thankful the Allen family had us to visit! They were all so nice and welcoming, we couldn't have enjoyed ourselves more.

When we were done in Scotland, it was time to start the long journey home. We took a train to London and flew out the next morning. Although we had a slight delay, thankfully we were able to get home almost on time and had a great welcoming party waiting for us.

Raymond took the bus to St. Louis yesterday, although thanks to the bus breaking down it took much longer than anticipated. Once he did get home he feasted on a late Thanksgiving dinner. We haven't eaten this well since we left!

We're glad to be home, but it's a little surreal. Where we really in England just a few days ago?

Merry Christmas! I'm thankful to be home celebrating with my family. Enjoy the holidays, and remember I'll soon be posting on Sunflowers and Skyscrapers instead of here! (

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Our last night here, and a surprise!

It's our last night in Birmingham! Tomorrow we take a train to Scotland to see the beautiful city of Edinburgh, before going to Glasgow to visit Linzi. We're so excited to see Scotland, but also eager to get back to the states for Christmas.

Packing hasn't been fun, as we've had to sort through everything and decide what to leave, what to throw away, and what to try and shove in the top of our overly-full bags. Now we look around our room and it is all empty! It looks like the night we arrived, September 11th.

Now that we're leaving, it's time to reveal what I've been working on for all our readers!

Although we've had the trip of our lives, it's over now and we're headed home for the holidays. We couldn't be happier to be going to see our families, but we will miss our new friends in England and our "new life" in the UK.

When we first decided to go abroad, we started the blog "Rachel-Ray Across the Pond." Our readership expanded wider than we ever expected, and we've been so blessed with family, friends, and many Newman supporters who read our posts on a regular basis. We've tried to keep it up to date and interesting, while still keeping it personal to ourselves and our readers. Our main focus while being abroad has been on the experiences, differences, and challenges of studying in another country.

Our video logs also became a great success, as we were able to show viewers all over the world that dreams can become a reality, like this trip for us. Thank you to all our viewers who have subscribed to the channel or watched the videos on the blog!

Now that we are headed home, it's time to put "Across the Pond" to rest. Although we hope to take another visit to Europe soon, we're realistic to know we will probably never again live abroad for an extended amount of time. We're both ready to graduate and start building careers, and bills are calling to be paid.

However, just because "Across the Pond" is ending does not mean that we are done! Hence, "Sunflowers and Skyscrapers" was born.

We've learned so much about ourselves and the world while living in England. We know that it might be difficult to adjust back to life in Wichita, but we're ready to bring our new habits and mix them with the old ones. There are so many ways to mix "big-city life" with "small-town USA," and I'm excited to get home and start.

Check out the new blog to find out what "Sunflowers and Skyscrapers" means and why we picked that as a title. Click here or go to

All of our subscribers by email will need to "resubscribe" to the new blog. You can do that the same way, by typing your email into the box on the right-hand side, or by following us with your Gmail account. We will also continue to post on Facebook, because we know that's how lots of our followers find the blog.

Thank you for our wonderful time together. We'll continue to post here until we are home on Thursday, but after that all new posts will be on Sunflowers and Skyscrapers.

God Bless and Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Don't say goodbye.

This is a message for all our new English, Irish, Spanish, Italian, French, German, and every other nationality friends we have met in the last three months.

Our dear, adventurous, loving, caring friends, this is not goodbye. It's see you later! Thanks to you, Raymond and I have had the best semester of our lives. We've shared laughs, incredible moments, and late nights. Those times with friends are what made our trip a true adventure.

Without you, we would have just been two American students in England for a fall term. We would have studied, gone to class, and taken a few trips, but in the end we would have still just felt like Americans out of place and far from home.

Instead, we feel like we're leaving one family to go home to another. In such a short time, we developed strong friendships with people who really care when they ask, "Are you alright?" So far from home, we found friends we could talk to for hours, laugh with in the kitchen, and take adventures with around town.

So this isn't goodbye! If anyone we met ever wants to come see Kansas, please look us up. If it's in a year, five, or ten years, tell us you're coming and we will give you a place to stay! We'll never forget your hospitality or the times we shared while we visited this part of the world. Thank you for being amazing!

The internet makes our lives more connected than ever. Raymond and I will be in touch, look forward to it! So, we'll see you later Birmingham.

It was truly epic.

The days are so short!

Brrrr! It's cold today! The parking lots are icy and some of the windows frosted over. We've been camped out inside working on our finals.

We only have two more days in Birmingham. Today we're going to do a big load of laundry so we can do most of our packing. Anything not being worn in the next week is going in our checked luggage!

The past few nights have been full of goodbye parties and telling friends, "you have to come visit!" Even though we have only been here three months, we've made some really fantastic friends. It's such a shame the USA is SO FAR away! I hope some day we can come back and visit, but it will be awhile before we can afford the plane tickets.

One week from today we'll be on the plane. I'm so excited to be going home, but very sad that we do not get to come back. Still, January will bring new adventures in Kansas!

To everyone from home, we'll see you soon! To all our new friends on this side of the pond, we will miss you dearly.

Only one more week!

Saturday, December 8, 2012


We have one week left in Birmingham, which means we're working hard on finals and using up everything in our food storage (not very hard to do since we don't have much food).

Except for when we were in Paris, we have made a nutritious, home-made dinner every night. No take out for us! Our budget couldn't afford it, and our stomachs simply didn't want it anymore.

We've been experimenting, and tonight we made what was supposed to be an "All American Cheeseburger Soup." Raymond called our version the "supposed-to-be-cheeseburger soup" but still loved it.

Here's a picture approximately what it looked like, but we left out the potatoes and didn't have any pickles. I thought it really did taste like a cheeseburger (Raymond didn't)! We made little tiny Yorkshire pizzas to go with it, using some of the tomato sauce and meat. This was a revelation. Yorkshire Pizzas!

Basically the soup was beef, broth, onions, tomatoes, and a lot of cheese. Oh, and some ketchup. We were skeptical of the recipe but gave it a try, I'm glad we did. We've eaten far too much pasta in the past few months. I found the soup on

Time for us to start packing up our rooms and preparing to leave. I'm also working on another surprise for our readers!

"I'll be home for Christmas, you can count on me!"

Friday, December 7, 2012

Finals... time to break out the coffee.

As with everyone back home, it's time for us to buckle down and get our final assessments completed. This time next week we will be doing our final packing to leave Birmingham the next morning, but we have a lot of work to get done before then!

The biggest project I'm working on is a giant portfolio for my Business Start-Up class. Throughout the term I have worked with a group to run a Sim Venture business program, and in the portfolio I am so show not only what I learned, but also provide daily logs, business plans, and explain financial statements. It's a lot of work!

There are so many places and things we wish we had done, but we're out of time and out of money. We will have to be content with our final adventure in Scotland, and save all the rest for a future trip.

For those students going on this adventure next term, leave me any questions you might have in the comments below or on facebook. Raymond and I have a wealth of knowledge that could help you out!

Earlier in the week we sang with the school choir for a Christmas Carol service. It certainly put us in the mood to go home for the holidays! We're lucky that we get to see our family for Christmas, as many of the international students are staying over the holidays for finals in January. We were able to work it out for all of our classes to either submit them before we leave or take them at home in the academic testing center.

We'll be home for Christmas!