University of Worcester, England
I've finally started classes over here! I really lucked out with my schedule (I only have 2 classes, but it counts as 4 back in the US because of the content!), and they're each once a week, so it's slower paced than back home. Also, the only grading in each of them is a final exam! It's a little worrisome that my fate in these modules lies on one test, but at the same time, I think it will help me out. They both require a lot of independent study, which I actually do better with after being homeschooled, and without homework to worry about, I can take my time to read and really understand the material.
I've also started with some societies offered by the university. I've joined the Anime and Manga Society, as well as the Equestrian Team. I was a little hesitant about joining with the anime scene here, considering paranoia over stereotypical anime fans in the US, but everyone has been very nice, and I'm actually planning on going to the London Comicon with them next month!
As for the Equestrian Team, we've just started! I went to a social meet-up with a few other members last week at a club (my first nightclub visit...very interesting, but not quite my cup of tea) and had a lot of fun getting to know them! Just this past Wednesday, however, we had a "taster session" where we were placed into groups and had a mini-lesson to assess our abilities. I was placed in a pretty low level class (we just cantered twice), but it was fun nonetheless! I plan on doing competitions as well, if they'll let me! It was quite different than what I'm used to, though! I was placed on a school horse named Bilbo (perfect, right?) who had been in the beginner lesson right before, and my immediate reaction to his stiffness around corners was to dismount and work on flexing from the ground, but I obviously couldn't do that! We rode in a uniform line the entire time, which was strange to me after working on natural horsemanship and pretty much anything not beginner, but it really took me back to my very early lesson days! I became a little paranoid that they wouldn't understand my experience (the instructor reminded me to keep my hands on either side of the horse's neck while I was asking for a bend, which required me to move my hands, so I don't think she understood what I was asking of him) but even if they for some reason keep me in a lower level group, I still think it'll be fun just to get on. It was a little hard, though, to be treated a bit like a beginner by the people helping out, but I think that, aside from any ego I have left over, it might have been that I'm usually the one in that position, so the reversal of roles threw me off. I have also found it quite difficult to explain my level of riding. Because most of my time was spent essentially training, I don't have much showing experience to compare it to, yet at the same time, I've done a 3' course no problem, and was training for a 2' 9" Pony Club rating right before my hiatus. I don't like going around saying that, though, because I'm a bit paranoid of sounding like I'm just talking up my skills, and I don't want to be thatAmerican! I'd been exposed to lots of girls back home who had very well trained horses, therefor were able to compete at much higher levels than me, even though their skill level in that discipline might have been lower than mine (if you can handle a 16.2 hh 4 year old retired racehorse while developing fibromyalgia, you can do anything), which always made me feel really left out, unskilled, and inadequate. It kinda brought back some of those feelings, but I'm just going to try my best to look past everything, and maybe make up for it by doing well in the shows I never got to do!
It seems that the showing here is capped at a 2' 9" course, which I've jumped loads of times in the past, in addition to dressage, which I have quite a bit of experience with as well. So even if they feel my skills fall short (again, I'm super paranoid of this happening), I should be able to do at least something, or work my way up to it in time.
Kinda silly that my main concerns fall with fitting in with the horse scene, huh? I'm choosing to take it as a sign that my classes aren't stressful! I'm sure that by the end of this semester I'll find my place and everything will work out. I've got a very good support group of loved ones in the US, and with them backing me, the sky's the limit!
See you, Space Cowboy!