Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Edinburgh and home!

I’m finally home and up ridiculously early (by Emily standards) because of the time difference, so I thought it would be a good time to do my last blog update on my time in Scotland and getting home.

Friday: I had to get from Rome to Edinburgh, so from my hostel in Rome, I had to walk to a bus which took me to the metro, to a bus to the airport. I was afraid I was going to be late to my flight because of the plethora of transportation modes, but made it to the gate on time and then had to wait for a while to start boarding. When we got on the plane, we were further delayed because “it took so long to board” when really they started boarding at the time we were supposed to leave. That’s Italy for you. I was happy to be leaving and going to a country where they spoke English! I arrived in Scotland late, but just in time for the friend of a friend I was staying with, Elisabeth, to come meet me at the airport. We took two more buses to her flat and then had a relaxing evening cooking enchiladas and watching British TV online. One of the shows we watched was called The Inbetweeners, and what was really cool was one of the stars of the show was the brother of one of Elisabeth’s future flatmate! So far I was really loving Scotland!

Saturday: We slept in and hung out in Elisabeth’s flat in the morning and then her and her flatmates jetted off for Christmas, and I walked up the Royal Mile to find my hostel (right outside the castle!). I then went up to the castle, decided I had already seen the inside, and joined a hop-on hop-off tour instead. I visited the Museum of Childhood and when I went outside to hop back on the bus, it started snowing like crazy! I didn’t get off the bus for a while after that. I did a little shopping on the Royal Mile and then went back to the hostel to put on all the clothing I had bought (all purple, all plaid). It was really cold out there! Then it was back down the Royal Mile and over to the Scott Monument where a giant Christmas Fair was waiting for me! I met Erik, who happened to be in the same city at the same time, and we went on a few rides (The Big Wheel and the Giant Swings), froze, and ate some food. We went to an Indian place for dinner that Erik had eaten at with his family when we were in Scotland together 11 years before. It was delicious but we decided I couldn’t leave the UK without trying a deep fried Mars bar. It was disgustingly yummy. Then it was back to the hostel where I ready by the fireplace before falling asleep in my room with 11 other girls.

Sunday: My last full day abroad! I had breakfast at The Elephant House CafĂ©, where JK Rowling wrote most of the first Harry Potter book! I walked down the road to see the statue of Greyfriars Bobby, and then rode the tour bus around again, but this time listening to the kid’s commentary, called Horrible Histories. I saw the original inspirational building for Hogwarts, and I got off for a quick stop to see the (outside of the) new Parliament building and the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, Holyrood Palace. It was then back on the bus to the Winter Fair and the Disney Store. I had fish and chips without the fish one last time and then it was back up the Royal Mile for one last shopping trip. I picked up my bag at the hostel, waved goodbye to the castle, walked down the Royal Mile for the last time, and got on a bus to the airport. I was wearing my new purple Scotland Rugby shirt when I saw the entire Bath Rugby team (my first experience with the thrills of rugby took place in Bath at the beginning of the trip) in the Edinburgh airport. What a fantastic sending-off! I made it to London despite the snow in both countries, picked up my luggage that had been stored there, and was taken to my last hostel, which was more like a nice bed and breakfast. I watched an American movie on BBC as I repacked and prepared for my flight.

Monday: To the airport with some difficulties (how my luggage weighed more than an elephant, how I picked the wrong terminal, and how Christmas Crackers are in fact a weapon) but I made it to my gate with little time to spare, and then had to wait as my flight was delayed two hours. Eight and some hours (and some awesome movie/TV/game selections) later, I emerged in Atlanta to fight through passport control, baggage recheck, customs, security rescreening, and booked it down the terminal to barely catch my flight to KC. My family was waiting for me with balloons in the airport and they took me to my favorite Chinese restaurant for a surprise party with my friends from high school. An amazing finish to an amazing trip!

Finally, a big thanks to all of you who have been with me as I travel by reading this blog!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Roma!

Monday we arrived in Rome (from Venice) around lunch time so we grabbed something to eat in the airport and then took a shuttle directly to our hostel. Then it was off to explore the city! Alyssa had visited Rome just a few weeks earlier, so she was our guide. We headed toward the Pantheon, and a gelato place called Della Palm that our American friend from Sussex who had previously spent time in Rome had suggested. There were hundreds of flavors of gelato and for only 2.50 euro, you could have three of them. Can you say new favorite place in Rome? No matter what part of the city we were exploring, we came back to this same place everyday. We did manage to get some sightseeing in as well, and visited the Pantheon, the only gothic church in Rome which was plain on the outside but super pretty on the inside (Minerva), and the Trevi fountain. I pretended I was Lizzie McGuire in the Lizzie McQuire movie when I threw my coin in the fountain. We also visited Piazza Navona and I rode the carosel there. My friend Frances, who visited me in Brighton earlier after studying in Italy, had suggested this restaurant behind the Pantheon called Miscellanea, where the food was cheap and the service was fun. The fantastic owner gave us free "sexy wine" after dinner which was suprisingly delicious. We then walked back to the hostel and decided to play MASH before going to bed early.

Tuesday we had free breakfast in our females-only hostel (lots of bread) and then walked up to the Vatican. The line was really short (benefit of visiting Rome in the winter) and we went through the museum and saw the Sistine Chapel-amazing! We also walked around St. Peter's Bascilica and underneath where old popes are buried. Then it was down the street for a big lunch of pasta and pizza. We crossed the river on the Ponte Sant Angelo and saw all the Bernini statues that line the bridge. Then it was up toward the top of the city to see the Piazza del Popolo and then down further south to see the Spanish steps. I had read in the guide book Frances lent me that there was a Keats and Shelley museum right next door to the steps, and the English major in me had to see it! Kelly and Alyssa waited on the steps while I toured the museum and saw the room where Keats died. On the way toward the gelato place we walked down the major shopping street of the city and I visted another Disney store. It has become tradition for me to go in the Disney store at every city I visit! I had three new flavors of gelato and then we strolled back to the hostel for another early night.

Wednesday, we had breakfast in the hostel and then it was more walking! We walked through the Jewish ghetto to Largo di Torre Argentina, ruins turned cat shelter (a mecca for cat calendar lovers everywhere, according to the guide book). The it was off to the Roman forum, and all around those ruins and the ruins on Palatine Hill. After tons of walking, I had some lasagne for lunch and then finally, the Colosseum! I might have made a few more Lizzie McGuire Movie references and annonced myself in a pro-wrestler voice as I entered the stadium. As the sun was setting, we walked down to Circus Maximus, once a giant race track, now a gravel track-not the most exciting ruin we had seen all day. On our way back we found ourselves walking through Capitoline Hill to the gelato place (again-yay!). Then it was back to our hostel. We decided we couldn't stay in every night, so we went out for a late dinner of more pizza and pasta.

Thursday was our last day in Rome. We had walked the entire city a few times over, so we decided to go slightly outside of the city to see some catacombs. Riding the bus for the first time was definitely an experience, but we made it to the Catacombs, got a tour in English (a relief from our usualy aimless walking with the assumption that we're viewing something famous, although what is a little more fuzzy). The weather was a mix of all our previous days. Monday it had been raining, Tuesday and Wednesday sunny but cold. Thursday was all of these, with rain in the morning leading to a sunny afternoon. We saw the Pyramid on the way back into town but didn't have time to visit the non-Catholic graveyard with some famous graves. We did however have time for one last trip to the gelato place across town, and then hung out at the hostel and then at a cafe until Alyssa and Kelly had to leave to catch their flight back to London. They leave for the States on Friday, while I am spending one more night at the hostel in Rome before leaving for Edinburgh Friday morning. Only a few more days before I head for home myself on Monday!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Venice

Early Saturday morning I said my last goodbyes to Jena and Amy and met Kelly and Alyssa at 6am to walk to the Falmer train station one last time. It was a good thing they were with me, because I had all my luggage with me and it's hard to toss 100lbs over the gap between train and platform. I stored my luggage at Gatwick Airport for a price that was twice as expensive as I had expected, but it will be nice to have it there waiting when I get back to England to fly home. Because I hadn't slept at all the night before, I fell asleep the second I got on the plane and didn't wake up until we were flying over Italy. We made it to Venice without any problems and took a bus into the actually city where we walked down the Grand Canal (and across it a few times) to find our hostel. The hostel was actually a cute but inexpensive little bed and breakfast, and we were the only guests. We had to wait a bit for the owner to show up but it was nice to finally be settled in. Despite being rather tired, we decided to go exploring and ended up seeing the majority of the city, including Piazza San Marco and Ponte di Rialto. There was also plenty of shopping and our first Italian gelato. We had pizza for dinner and then went to bed super early.


Sunday we woke up (after a good 13 hours of sleep) and had breakfast waiting for us. Nothing too exciting, apparently the Italians like carbs for all of their meals, so we had a lot of bread. We walked to a boat that took us to the nieghboring island of Murano, known for the glass it produces. We shopped here the majority of the day, and had lunch at a small cafe on the island. The boat ride back was long but we squeezed in a little more shopping on the mainland before grabbing sandwiches to go for dinner.


Overall, Venice was gorgeous. We did a lot of shopping and had a relaxing time. It was a bit chilly though, and we saw our first snow of the winter as we were getting on the plane the next morning on our way to Rome.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last Week at Sussex

Apologies for the lack of pictures-this update comes from a hostel in Rome! I am currently traveling until the 21st but my last day at Sussex was on the 11th. Here is an update of my last week there.

Monday: I had my last classes of Jane Austen and Sense and Sexuality and then went back to my dorm to finish my Jane Austen paper on how letters function within the novels (all 4500 words of it) and edited my Sense and Sexuality paper on reason vs emotion in writing on women during the 18th century (only 2000 words). It was a late night.

Tuesday: I turned in my two papers that were finished the night before and then locked myself in the library for four hours, had a break for dinner and then went back for another four hours to write 4000 words on how Wordsworth's Prelude related to his unwritten Recluse. Super fascinating stuff...sort of. I then came back to my room to do the actual homework for class the next day, including writing 10 very terrible lines of iambic pentameter.

Wednesday: I had my last Wordsworth class and then I made myself sit down and attempt to edit the Wordsworth beast. Eventually I gave up, concluding that unlike Wordsworth and The Prelude, I did not have 50 some years to improve my work so I had better just turn it in then and get it over with. So I took the plunge and turned in the paper. I was done!!! To celebrate I went to a delicious pizza place in Brighton with Rachel and Afua and then watched A Very Potter Musical with Nick.

Thursday: I went shopping in Brighton to get last minute gifts with Afua during the morning and then met Jena and Amy for chocolate pudding dessert. Then I dashed over to London to see Potted Potter, a Harry Potter parody-all seven books in seventy minutes. Afua was supposed to meet me, but sadly she had trouble with the trains and didn't make it. Then it was back to Sussex and out on the town for one last night, where I met most of the American kids for the September program at a club called Coalition which was right on Brighton's beach.

Friday: You may be sensing a theme of little sleep this week, and Friday was the ultimate, with no sleep at all! I packed all day, went to Brighton for lunch with Peter, Jena and Amy, walked on the pier one last time, and packed a little more. Then Jena, Amy and I cooked all the food we had left and ate until we couldn't eat anymore. Then we stopped in at the goodbye party for all the Sussex in September kids. Jena, Amy and I hung out together the rest of the night and then I was off for Italy at 6 in the morning.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

from London to Athens

Friday in London: I got up early Friday morning and rode the train into London for one last day of sightseeing there. I toured Westminster Abbey in the morning and absolutely loved Poets Corner (graves/monuments to Chaucer, Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Austen, just to name a few that I’ve studied!). I then hopped on the tube for the ride over to Hyde Park for the Winter Wonderland- a giant Christmas market stuffed with carnival rides, Christmas gifts and food! I had a delicious lunch there and then I rode across to the Tower of London. I spend the afternoon at the Tower and saw the crown jewels. Then I headed over to the hotel that Accent had booked for my night and dropped off my stuff. Then I met the other WashU kids for a four-course meal at Pizza Express which was a lot of fun. Everything was starting to close but I managed to get a peak in the British Museum (without seeing any exhibits though) before calling it a night.
video
Saturday: I got up super early sothat I could walk to the tube to get to the train to get to the airport to catch my plane to Athens. My trip was successful and I arrived in Athens in the early afternoon where I took the metro to meet Jena and Amy who had arrived the day before. After dropping my stuff off at the hostel we went and saw the 1896 Olympic Stadium and were followed by some of the stray dogs that are all over Athens. Then we met Jena’s friend who is studying in Athens, and she took us out to a traditional Greek meal. I had a voracious appetite so we got crepes after dinner and then went back to the hostel. It had rained all day and by this time, we, and all of our belongings were soaked. Jena, Amy and I played MASH and took way too many pictures of ourselves before falling asleep.
Sunday: We greeted the morning on our balcony overlooking the streets of Athens (some more cheerfully than others) and bought breakfast in the hostel. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and we all wore sundresses. We walked up the hill toward the Acropolis and got some great views of the city and saw the Parthenon and the ancient amphitheatre. Then it was time for a midmorning snack of ice cream before seeing an ancient temple at the bottom of the Acropolis. We had our Greek lunch of gyros in a crowded market area and were hit upon by way too many creepy Greek men. Then we went hiking up another hill to see more ancient ruins. We may have eaten a lot this trip but the shear amount of walking and hiking we did easily negated it. We hit up a few tourist shops and walked through a really nice garden before picking up our things at the hostel. Because it was the anniversary of riots that had occurred in Athens the year before, we thought it best to get out of the city before dark, so off to the airport we went. We played some more MASH in the airport and I dozed off on the plane and woke up cranky, just in time for a train to Brighton and a bus to Falmer. It was a fantastic trip, but we were all ready to be “home.”

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Second to last week at Sussex, already??

my dorm building (with Amy and Jena):
Monday was pretty productive; I went to my two classes and got a bunch of stuff that needed doing out of the way. I did some more reading of The Prelude (turns out 400 pages of poetry isn’t that fun) and hung out with my neighbors Jena and Peter. Tuesday (I was super excited to start my Advent Calendars!) I finished The Prelude and then went to the library and wrote my 2000 word paper. I came back to the dorm for Girl’s Night with Jena and Amy and we had dinner together and hung out. Wednesday I went to Wordsworth class and then Jena and I went to Amy’s last field hockey game. Since I had been so productive the day before I decided to take the day off so Jena and I watched a movie and then Rachel, Afua and Kat came over for a craft night. Thursday I needed to get back to work so after Nick and I got crepes for lunch, we went to library and I worked for five hours straight getting my Wordsworth paper in a state that it could begin to be written. Then I went out to dinner in Brighton with Rachel, Afua and Joya. Friday it’s off to London and then Saturday and Sunday in Athens!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Belfast

me at the Christmas Market

Amy at the Christmas Market

Friday: Amy and I got up really early so we could catch a train to Gatwick Airport where we got on our EasyJet flight to Belfast. We got into the city around 10:30, took a trip to the Visitor’s Centre to buy tickets for touring and then decided it was lunch time. Conveniently, right down the street from the Visitor’s Centre was an outdoor Christmas market which had all sorts of delicious food, drinks and gifts. It quickly became our new favorite spot. After checking out all the Christmas sights and getting lunch, we headed toward the Hop-on Hop-off bus for a tour of Belfast. Even though it was really cold we decided to sit on the open top of the double-decker bus. We passed by the docks where the Titantic was built and stopped at another little market where I bought a new hat. Then we waited and waited for the next bus and when one finally did come, it did not respond to my flagging it down. It was a little upsetting but we wandered back toward the city centre and found a really nice mall with a great view of the city. We decided to catch the bus at the next stop, so after we toured St. Ann’s Cathedral, we waited another good while for the next bus. Amy and I had a good time taking pictures of each other jumping in the courtyard outside the church while we waited though. By this time it was getting dark, so we rode the bus (on the top again) for the rest of the tour of the city, saw the Peace Wall and some of the famous wall murals. After the tour, we found a cute pizza place for dinner and then walked though the Christmas market again for desert before going to find our hostel. We still had some time so we walked around another nearby mall and then crashed early in our frigid hostel room.
Amy and I by the rope bridge

Saturday: Peter, our Northern Irish friend who lives on the same hall as Amy and I, had suggested that we see the Causeway, so we hopped on a bus tour on Saturday to take us there. We got on the coach bus early Saturday morning with a bunch of other tourists, and then we took a tour along the Irish coast which was gorgeous. By this time Amy and I had learned to layer and layer and layer our clothing so the freezing weather wasn’t as bad. We stopped for a short photo-op at Carrickfergus Castle and then drove up along the coastal road to Carrick-a-rede Ropebridge. Amy and I were daring enough to cross the 80-foot high bridge that spanned two cliffs across the ocean. Then it was back on the bus to the Giant’s Causeway (Ireland’s only world heritage site). I was a little grumpy at this point because I hadn’t had lunch yet and it was 2:30 so Amy and I snagged a snack in the gift shop and then walked down the road to the Causeway. We took all sorts of pictures (including more jumping pictures) on the ancient stones and then it was back on the bus for a short trip down the road to Old Bushmill’s Distillery. We sampled the Irish whiskey but I was a bigger fan of the whiskey cake we ate. Then one more photo stop at Dunluce Castle before I feel asleep for the rest of the ride back into Belfast. Amy and I had wanted to have dinner at an Irish pub but they were too crowded on a Saturday night so we went to TGI Fridays instead. Probably the best decision ever- we were really excited about the American food. We then headed back to the Christmas market, walked around for a bit, and then rode the giant tour wheel that showed up a night-time sky view of the city. Then we turned in for another early night. Giant's Causeway
Sunday: We got up, stopped at a coffee place for breakfast (no free breakfast in this hostel) and then attempted to catch the bus back to the airport. Unfortunately, no one had told us where to catch the bus, so we ended up missing it by seconds. Instead of risking not making our flight, we took a cap to the airport and successfully made it back to Gatwick and then back to campus. Sunday afternoon I did laundry and then Sunday night it was back to real school world so I did homework all night.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving week

Apologies again for being SO behind but with only two weeks of class left and 10,000 words to turn in, I’ve been a bit busy. Here are the highlights of last week:
Saturday night (Nov 21): We ate delicious early-birthday cake and then I watched the end of the WashU men’s basketball and WU women’s volleyball games online via live stats; the men won their game, and the women won their national championship! It was very exciting and I can’t wait to get back to WashU and go to basketball games and the volleyball celebration.
Sunday: Jena and I went to the Brighton Orchestra to see them play music from Harry Potter, the Snowman, and the Nutcracker. Jena’s two friends from home arrived and they, Jena, me, and Amy all made tacos together for dinner in a smoky kitchen because our hall-mate Peter had accidentally tried to burn the kitchen down by cooking noodles without water. Then I went to see New Moon (again) with Afua. It was still awesome.I was a little stressed Sunday night trying to get my reading done for Monday but finally managed it.

Afua at New Moon!

Monday: I had my two classes and it was Jena’s birthday. She went out with some friends but I stayed in and ended up having a dance party with my friend Afua who taught me the dance to Beyonce’s Single Ladies which was a crazy good time.


Tuesday: I got work done and talked to two different instructors about my final papers. Then I went to tea with Nick and Serene in Lewes and then we came back to our dorm and had a frozen pizza party. It’s nice to switch up who I do things with. Then I buckled down and wrote some paper. I got a little intimidated by the sheer amount of work I have left to do so I scheduled each day until my departure with a piece of work.



Wednesday: I had Wordsworth class which was painful because I was tired, only part of the class was there and the teacher was disgruntled because of Sussex teacher politics. But then Wednesday after class Jena and her two friends (Bryce and Dan) and I all went to Lewes (the town over) and toured the castle there and saw where Thomas Paine lived before he moved to the States. Then we came back for dinner and Jena, Amy and I decided to go to Athens for our final weekend together! They’re my American floor-mates and we had wanted to all go on a trip together and this is our last chance! I also Skyped with my family (and Allison!) for a couple of hours while they baked which was awesome. Then Amy and I went to the library and worked for a few hours but then I left (during a break in the giant thunderstorm) while Amy pulled an all-nighter.

Jena and I at Lewes Castle

Thursday (Thanksgiving): Luckily I don’t have class on Thursdays so it was a like a holiday even though the English didn’t know it was Thanksgiving. In the morning I made mashed potatoes (about 20 large potatoes worth) all by myself (although I was cooking in the kitchen with Nick). I decided I deserved a day off so I took a nap and then headed to the American pot-luck Thanksgiving. Let’s just say that I ate enough to make Thanksgiving proud. Then I came back to my room and watched YouTube videos with some friends.


Weekend updates from Belfast to come soon!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

All my favorite American things in British form

North Street in Brighton with Christmas lights
Last Sunday I did homework and then watched the WashU men’s basketball team take on our first opponent of the year. The online quality of the video left something to be desired but it was worth it to see the game! I can’t wait to get home and watch basketball live! I also watched the end of the Chiefs game (play by play, not live) online and we won as I was skyping with my parents which was exciting! Monday I had class and registered from classes new semester at WashU. Then a bunch of the American students went up on a hill outside of the campus Monday night to try and see the meteor shower. Even though the sky cleared up we didn’t have any luck seeing anything. Tuesday I went to the farmer’s market on campus for fresh fruit and prepared my presentation in Wordsworth class which I had on Wednesday. I’m glad that’s over with! Right after class on Wednesday I had to catch the bus to Brighton to have lunch with someone sent down from Accent. We went to a nice Italian restaurant and I had a great conversation with Natasa who went to grad school at WashU and now works for Accent. After a delicious chocolate pudding with ice cream dessert, we parted ways and I did some relaxing shopping at the pound store and at the bookstore for thank you and birthday cards. Wednesday night I hung out with a couple different groups of friends in the dorm. Thursday the groceries we ordered from ASDA (owned by Wal-Mart) were delivered so now I have food! I also spend a good part of the day working on my final paper for my Jane Austen class. I’m trying to write part of the paper each week as we read each novel. Thursday night was the lighting of the Christmas lights in Brighton, not very exciting compared to the Plaza lighting, but I saw Santa and he gave me a water bottle. I then went out to dinner with some friends at a different Italian restaurant before meeting up with some other friends from dessert at yet another Italian restaurant! The second group of friends and I then headed over to the movie theatre to see the midnight premiere of New Moon which was amazing!! I went with a group of Americans and we were all a little upset that it didn’t start directly at 12:01 but more at 12:20. Luckily, they skipped previews and went right into the movie which was slightly appeasing. I slept in on Friday because I was up so late the night before and then decided to take a day off so I watched some youtube! Then I jumped on a train to London, met my friend Alyssa there, and went to the Jonas Brothers Concert!!! I guess the English have a different concept of time than us because the concert started an hour late, but there were no opening acts. It’s like they cut out the stuff that makes waiting worthwhile and just make you wait. But the Jonas Brothers were awesome and I’m glad I went. Super sadly, we had to leave really early in the concert to catch the last train from London to Brighton. I was just glad I had already seen them in concert this summer or I might have been really disappointed. Saturday Nick and I went to a coffee shop in Brighton and I got some reading done. Then I baked a cake as an early surprise for Jena’s birthday so that it would be here when she got back from her trip to Amsterdam!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The most relaxing week yet

Me trying to be prim and proper while having tea (with giant scones!)


This week was reading week where we potentially don’t have class. I just had to go to one class Monday because it was cancelled the week before because my instructor was ill (he was so sick that he sneezed out his front tooth and still didn’t have it back in class!). Monday night my floor-mates and I decided to have a nice dance party in the kitchen and I baked cookies. Tuesday I had a nice day off, went to the Farmer’s market on campus and did some research at the library. That night I went to see the musical Blood Brothers in Brighton because Accent (WashU’s London program) bought me a ticket. The musical was great and there wasn’t a dry eye in the place by the end. Unfortunately I had a terrible headache through the whole play but finally got rid of it during my powernap on the way back on the bus. Wednesday I didn’t have class so I went to tea at the Mock Turtle, this eclectic little tea shop in Brighton, with Rachel and Afua. Then I went back to my room with the intention of writing my paper but got distracted by putting my friends’ faces on singing elves online. Then Jena and I joined Amy and her mom in Brighton for dinner which was a lot of fun. Then Jena and I decided we really did need to get work done so we had a paper writing party in her room. Me, Amy and Jena at the bus stop
Thursday morning I woke up, packed and hopped on a train to Manchester to visit my Great Aunt. The trip went well and I was picked up at the Manchester train station that afternoon by Auntie Joy and her friend, Pam. They took me on a driving tour of the city (we saw the Manchester United stadium!) and then to the big shopping center in the area, the Trafford Centre. We walked around there for a bit, saw Santa’s singing bears, and snuck in Santa’s grotto. All the places where you sit on Santa’s lap are called grottos in England. Then Auntie Joy bought me some Krispie Kreme doughnuts and Pam drove us back to Auntie Joy’s house. Auntie Joy let me sit in her special reclining chair and made me relax while she fixed us a yummy dinner of chicken and potatoes. And of course there was dessert: ice cream and strawberries! Her neighbors came over to say hi and then they took me to this really cool place called The Chill Factor, which was an indoor snow slope. It was really cool (literally and figuratively!). Then we went shopping at Asda (their Walmart) and I saw my first Costco in England and took pictures for my mom. Auntie Joy and I then called my parents that night just to say hi and then we went to bed. At the indoor snow slope
Friday morning I was cooked eggs on toast for breakfast and then we watched a little TV together until Pam came to pick us up again. She drove us into the City Centre and we walked around there and they showed me all the sights. Auntie Joy hadn’t been into Manchester for years so she didn’t recognize a lot of the modern stuff but still remembered all the places she had been when she was younger. We had tea (I had hot chocolate) at a fancy department store and then went to tour Manchester Cathedral (where my great great granddad had been married). Auntie Joy was disappointed at the inside of the cathedral and I agreed that I had seen prettier. We then went back toward Auntie Joy’s house but drove so that I could see the house where my Auntie Joy and grandma had grown up and Flixton House, the place where my grandma and grandpa met. Auntie Joy then made me eat a snack before her young neighbor, John, took me out for Chinese and to a pub for a drink. I didn’t want to worry Auntie Joy, so we didn’t stay out too late. Auntie Joy's house, with her friend the cat waiting to be let inside
Saturday Auntie Joy cooked me scrambled eggs and toast and we watched Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman together. Then Pam came over again to take my back to the train station, loaded down with even more food from Auntie Joy. I didn’t have any problems getting back to Falmer, and never went hungry! Saturday night was very low key- I unpacked and Amy and I booked a trip to Ireland for Thanksgiving weekend and then watched a movie. Overall, my trip to Manchester was one of the nicest I’ve had so far- I was very much spoiled and am thankful for having such a great Great Aunt!!

Me and Auntie Joy at the Manchester train station

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oxford and Cadbury World (Chocolate Frogs)

I had a pretty relaxing day on Friday, finished my paper and went up to London where I stayed the night with another girl from WashU because we had to get up early on Saturday to meet up with Angie for our tour of Oxford. We had our own little bus for the five WashU students going on the tour and drove the under two hour trip to Blenhiem Palace. This great big house is where Winston Churchill was born. It was gorgeous and had the nicest library (Beauty and the Beast style). We then took this little train through the grounds to the “Pleasure Gardens” where we attempted the second largest hedge maze in England. We got stopped by a giant puddle and a time constraint but had a good time anyway. We then walked back to our bus and rode the short trip to Oxford. We were on our own for lunch, so we found this cute outdoor French market and had brie and a baguette for lunch! Then Angie showed us all the highlights of Oxford. We saw the pubs where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien used to hang out together and Lewis Carroll’s sheep shop from Alice in Wonderland. We then toured Christ College and saw the Great Hall featured in the Harry Potter movies! I stayed overnight in Oxford with a friend from WashU and the next morning, we hopped on a train to Bournville, home of Cadbury World, the original Cadbury factory! We met up with Erik, my dance teacher’s son, and a friend of his to tour the factory. We got three free candy bars and a cup of melted chocolate (we could pick a topping to put in it so I put some Jelly Babies in there). We saw where they package the candy and learned all about the history of Cadbury. We even rode a really creepy ride, tried to understand the complex children’s games on the playground and browsed the world’s largest Cadbury candy store! Then Steve and I headed back to Oxford where I had to hop on a train back to Falmer. It was a pretty awesome day, even if I did spend half of it on trains!

Burning effigies instead of pumpkins

Apologies for being so behind in my blog updates! Halloween wasn’t too big of a deal here and there was no free candy. I did managed to get off my sickbed and make an appearance at a party at one of my American friend’s flats, dressed as a cereal killer. The rest of the week was spent recuperating and always managing to go to bed later than intended. I spend a lot of time hanging out, watching YouTube videos with my floormates. By Wednesday night I was feeling a lot better and went to a 3OH!3 concert in Brighton with some friends. 3OH!3 is an American band from Colorado, and it was a lot of fun to see the crazy British fans. Also, the band is insane so the concert was great. It was one of the American’s 21st birthdays so we went to a pub after the concert but it was pretty low-key. Wednesday and Thursday I had plans to write my paper which was due on Monday, but instead of locking myself in the library, I went to two different Brighton coffee shops with two different friends, Jena and Nick. There might have been milkshakes involved on Wednesday as well. Coffee shops are quite an enjoyable place to write a paper, especially when you cannot connect to the internet and get distracted.

Thursday was Guy Fawkes Day, so a few friends and I went to the Lewes Bonfire night. Lewes is one train stop away from Falmer (my train station) but the bonfire night is a pretty big affair, so it took about an hour to get onto the train. The town itself was jam packed with people but we managed to follow the crowd and squeeze ourselves in along the parade route. I bought some hot chocolate (it was really cold out) and a toffee apple (not a caramel apple- it was actually so hard and I had to put it in my pocket for later) and we watched the parade. Turns out the British are all pyromaniacs and certifiably insane when it comes to Guy Fawkes Day. The entire parade was people holding burning things in the air, creating explosives, burning effigies, and burning giant carts of wood while rolling them down the street. It was almost frightening, especially with the fire being so close and the constant explosions. I realized this sort of celebration would never be allowed in the US because it’s too close to being a riot. After the majority of this long parade of burning objects, we headed over to the bonfire. There were carnival snacks and everything set up in this big field behind Tesco where a gazillion people gathered to watch a giant stack of wood set alight and then fireworks go off behind it. It was even more insane than the concert! Near the end of the fireworks display, we powerwalked back to the train station and managed to get back to Falmer pretty quickly.

video

Thursday, October 29, 2009

A visitor and a cold

Sunday I was back in Brighton and Jena and I went to see the Brighton Orchestra together for one of her classes. It was nice but we were definitely the youngest ones there by quite a few years! Then of course we got milkshakes. Class was fine this week- nothing too exciting. Outside of school though, a neighbor from home/friend from elementary school, Frances, visited me! She is studying in Florence and Paris and came to Brighton for part of her break between the two programs. She got in Monday night but unfortunately, I developed a severe cold the next day! I was still able to show her some of the sights of Brighton and we toured the inside of the Royal Pavilion (one of the principal landmarks of Brighton) and walked on the Pier. That night we made dinner together and it was super delicious and way more elaborate than anything I’ve cooked on my own so far! Then we went to karaoke night at the King and Queen pub with some of the other international students. Wednesday I had class while Frances explored Brighton on her own and then we went to Amy’s field hockey game together. We then went out to Brighton for dinner at this giant oriental buffet (not nearly as good as Fire Wok but the desserts were good!) and then stayed in and watched a movie for the night. Frances left Thursday morning and I went to the health centre on campus because I was tired of being sick. I think it’s the change in climate and different germs, but I’ve been sick almost this entire month with one cold or another. They suggested some medicine for me and it’s been helping, but I’m planning of taking it easy the rest of this week. Thursday night I carved my pumpkin, Sir Alfred, so that I’m all ready for Halloween!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Another London Weekend!

Thursday I attempted to do homework until it was time to leave for London. I got into London around dinner time so I met Aishlinn (a friend of mine since I was twelve!) at her place and she made a delicious dinner for me (she’ll be upset if I don’t put in a disclaimer that the quiche was cheap at the grocery store, but I was very impressed by the salad she made me- it was made from several ingredients!). Then I headed to the tube station to make my way over to the football game which had been arranged for us by ACCENT (WashU’s London orientation program). I met a nice family on the tube who was going to the game, so they made sure I didn’t get lost. I met up with the other London WashU students at the game and we had a great time. The game was really intense-Europeans really do take their football seriously-we cheered for Fulham over Roma. There were two brothers on opposing teams who wore the same number which I thought was adorable! Fulham was winning 1-0 until a goal in the last minute of the game made it a tie. I was a little sad until I saw the brothers celebrating together, and then I remembered I wasn’t a real Fulham supporter, more like a borrowed supporter. I’m a fan now though!

On Friday Aishlinn and I hung out together. She showed me where she goes to class at LSE and we did some shopping at Oxford Circus. I made sure that we stopped in the Disney Store. I was also excited about my first experience at Argos, a store where you order out of catalogues. Aishlinn and I had dinner with her friend Matt and then we hung out with some of her flat mates and her other friend who was visiting from Italy.


Saturday I met up with the WashU students again for a tour of Greenwich with Angie, our awesome tour guide who did the London tour. We took a river cruise down the Thames and had lunch at his lovely outdoor market. I had some mulled apple cider to get into the fall season. Then we hiked up a hill to the Prime Meridian line and I stood in two places at once! It was a lovely day but unfortunately, London transportation was not on the same page as I was and due to closings, delays and work on different tube lines, it took me two hours, two buses and two tubes to get back to Aishlinn’s place so that I could pick up my bag and head back to Victoria Station to get on my train to Brighton. It was quite the evening. I made it back to campus without any problems though. Overall a very good London weekend!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Milkshakes

The weekend was both relaxing and productive. Rachel’s friends were still in Brighton visiting, so we had dinner with them at an Italian restaurant with a crazy waiter Saturday night. Then Rachel and I went in search of a pub that was showing rugby, but it turns out Saturday night is football night, we were unsuccessful in our search. Sunday some of the Sussex in September people went on a hiking trip to Seven Sisters but I was supposed to have a WashU friend from London come down to Brighton that day so I didn’t go. My friend ended up cancelling and I ended up getting a lot of work done instead. Rachel’s friends had told us about this delicious milkshake place they had found in Brighton, so we went back into Brighton (we bought week bus passes and wanted to get our money’s worth!) to find Shakeaway, bringing Nick and Joya with us. Shakeaway’s gazillion and half flavors are intimidating, but Rachel and I quickly decide this is our new favorite place. I also tried to watch the Chiefs game online, but the closest I could get was a play-by-play view but I was super excited when the won! And then of course my weekly Skype date with my parents Sunday night.
Monday I had my two classes, with a presentation in Jane Austen class which I think went well. Then I did my Wordsworth homework for class on Wednesday. Because I find Wordsworth class so intimidating, I also went in to talk to the instructor, and I think it helped. After this I still had plenty of time on Tuesday to go back to the milkshake place with Rachel! Tuesday night, some of my floormates and I (Jena, Amy and Anne) made breakfast for dinner together with bacon, hashbrowns, eggs and really flat and thin pancakes! It was a lot of fun and then we watched 17 Again together. Wednesday was Wordsworth class and I felt much more comfortable. Then Rachel and I attempted to go watch the school rugby team play but there were no other spectators so we felt too uncomfortable to stay. Clearly our rugby fandom is going to need some work. Throughout the week I’ve been attempting to catch up on my American TV shows, but I’m not allowed to watch them from their own websites from abroad, so I have to be creative in finding the shows and it’s such a pain! It takes about two hours to watch one 42 minute show! Good thing I’m good at multitasking (which is what I’m doing right now!)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homesick and Hogwarts (Watchdogs and Windsor)

Thursday started off nicely; it was beautiful outside and I got my laundry done. Then, instead of going into Brighton for the afternoon, I stayed in and got a good part of my reading done. I didn’t feel like buying a bus pass into Brighton for the night either (they can be quite expensive) so I again stayed in, but Rachel had some friends visiting so I watched She’s the Man with them while coloring. I was having a great night! Until I went back to my room to make some hot chocolate and discovered that someone had stolen more than half my loaf of bread (that I had just bought at the store and that was supposed to last me two weeks) right out of the refrigerator in our shared kitchen. I lock all my dry food up because the University’s policy is that stealing happens, but I can’t control what is in the fridge (and this wasn’t the first thing to be stolen). This is when I went a little note-crazy and wrote a note on the kitchen door that we need to start locking the kitchen (I also suggested watchdogs or security alarms to lighten up the note a little) and then while I was at it, I put a note on our bathroom for the person who has been smoking in there to please stop. I think this might have been me experiencing culture shock because I decided in my anger that these were instances of European inconsideration and lack of values. Then to top it all off, I realized that my favorite band, Relient K, was playing in KC Thursday night and for the first time, I really wanted to be at home.
Friday when much better. Rachel, Amy and I went to tour Windsor Castle. It was about a two and half hour train ride (we got lunch on our train switch) and then we were there! The outside of the castle is very classic and castle-y, so I pretended I was at Hogwarts the whole time. I’m pretty sure the queen was in while we were there, because her flag was flying! We got to see Queen Anne’s dollhouse which was very detailed and gorgeous. Then came the state apartments, and I have to admit that I’m sick of audio tours. The rooms were all very pretty but I think I would have preferred to walk through them on my own without the audio guide yapping in my ear the whole time. But we made it through and had time to make a quick walk around St. George’s Chapel. Outside the castle we hit up a few souvenir shops and McDonalds for a Cadbury caramel and chocolate McFlurry. Then it was already time to head back to campus where I made some dinner. Then some friends and I all went out to a few pubs for the night.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Week two of classes

Last weekend was pretty low-key. It was nice to be at school and not have anywhere to go. I went into Brighton several times and did a lot of reading for class. Monday I had two classes and really enjoyed them! The topics really interest me (Jane Austen and Women & Writing) and I managed to speak up in both classes. The girls and instructor in my second class kept using good British expressions too, which made class even more fun. Tuesday I went to the Brighton beach with Jena and Amy to do some more reading and then we went out to dinner with Jena’s family who are visiting. Wednesday morning I had Wordsworth class which still intimidates me. I thought we would be learning about Wordsworth in class but it seems the instructor expects us to already know everything there is to know and to discuss it in detail. Needless to say, I haven’t said anything in that class yet but I’m working on it! Then this afternoon, I went to lunch at a pub in Brighton with a girl who goes to the University of Sussex and studied abroad at WashU last year. It was so much fun to reminisce about WashU and learn about all the good places to go in Brighton! After lunch I went to the grocery store to pick up a few things and spent way too much money! I’m going to try to not go to the grocery store for the next two weeks because I have way too much food right now!

View from the beach (of the burnt down West Pier) where I did my reading Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rain and Shine

Sorry for the delay in posting but I don’t want to bore anyone with the trivialities of my life, so from here on out I’ll probably update every few days with the highlights. I didn’t have any class Thursday or Friday so I tried to enjoy it while still getting work done. The reading I have to do here isn’t usually handed to students like it is at home. For one of my classes, I spend a good two hours simply finding online or copying or checking out from the library all the reading for Monday. It’s frustrating but that’s just the way it’s done here I guess. Outside of school work, I went into Brighton to do some shopping both Thursday and Friday with different groups of friends which was fun even if I didn’t really buy anything (except a few things at the pound store!). Thursday night I went to dinner in Brighton for a friend’s birthday and Friday night I went to a pub with some friends. While the weather has had its sunny moments, it’s still been pretty rainy at times too. I’m almost completely over my cold and have been drinking a lot of Cadbury hot chocolate to keep warm. In more exciting news, I’m still getting birthday presents and cards in the mail (thanks everyone!!) since it takes a good two to three weeks for me to get anything from the States. But that’s okay, I like checking my mail everyday in anticipation! I don’t have any exciting plans for the weekend other than relaxing and getting work done.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First week of classes

I started my classes with the other British students this week and was surprised at how different the format is from American university classes. I’m taking three classes for ten weeks(while it seems most third year students only take two) and each class only meet two hours a week. So this means I have two classes on Monday (Jane Austen and Sense and Sexuality: Women and Writing in the 18th Century…side note: both these classes only have girls in them!) and one on Wednesday (Wordsworth). Despite not going to class for very many hours, we are expected to read a great deal. I have at least two novels to read each week as well as long poems and then on top of the core reading, we have critical and background reading. It’s much more independent than I’m used because at home, where the professors tell us exactly what to read and when our papers are due. While as here, for my Jane Austen class, we have a 1,500 word paper due in the middle of the term that isn’t graded at all, and we do presentations in class that are also not graded. The only real thing that we’re graded on here is the final essay, which for the British students is due in the Summer term (June), but for us unlucky Americans, is due before we leave. This means I’ll be writing at least 10,000 words (over 30 pages) due in December (4,000 or more each for my two Special Author courses and 2,000 for my Women Writing course). This is very different from WashU where I write three to four smaller essays per class throughout the semester and go to class at least 15 hours a week. The final essays here are often referred to as dissertations, as if they weren’t intimidating enough already. It’s also intimidating because all the students studying English here only study English, which means they are experts at studying English and they often know one another and even the instructors. It’s a less well-rounded and a more focused way of learning. It’s definitely going to require a lot of self-discipline to get through this term. I’m certainly not in the US anymore, and this has been confirmed by the rain that started last weekend and hasn’t really stopped since. Hopefully I can come up with a workable schedule for myself that allows me to get all my work in but still enjoy being abroad!

Monday, October 5, 2009

London Orientation Weekend

On Friday afternoon, I took the train to Brighton where I met someone from the ACCENT program (WashU’s London orientation program) and she bought me a Young Persons Railcard for cheaper train travel in the UK and my ticket to London for the weekend. We then took the train to London and she got me settled in my hotel which was tiny but adorable. I then went to dinner with the 6 other WashU students who are studying in London at an Indian restaurant and it was nice to talk with other WashU students for a change! I only knew one of the other students from WashU, Morgan, so I hung out with her and her new friends after dinner. We went to her London College University’s Student Union, which had a pub in it where lots of students hang out. Apparently, not having a pub on campus is unheard of in the UK.

Aishlinn and I in London!

Then on Saturday we had a seminar on British culture compared to American culture which was very interesting and then we had lunch at a different Indian restaurant. We were on our own for the afternoon, so I met up with Aishlinn, one of my friends from high school, who is also studying in London, and we had a great time exploring Harrod’s and getting dinner together. Then I was off to the Globe to see Love’s Labour’s Lost, another Shakespearean comedy, with the other WashU kids. We were in the standing section so it was tiring, and it started raining in the second half, but it was really funny play and very well performed. I was feeling a little under the weather (pun intended) with a cold, so I headed back to my hotel for an early slumber.
I woke up Sunday morning, got my free hotel breakfast, but then was late to the tour of London because of an ACCENT/hotel miscommunication about payment. But it turned out to be fate that I missed the beginning of the tour, as I randomly ran into Suzanne, who I work with in the Marketing Department at Olin (WashU’s business school), and her family on the streets of London. It was great to see another familiar face! And by this point, I was quite apt at traveling on the London Underground, so I managed to catch up with the tour group (three of the other WashU students) for the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. They had only covered pieces of London I had already seen, so it wasn’t too disappointing that I missed the first part. Our tour guide, Angie, was absolutely amazing. She let us pick what we wanted to see in London and gave us all the good dirt that we couldn’t get anywhere else. We stopped by Covent Garden and browsed the markets there, had lunch at Wagamama, and then headed out to Kensington, which is the really nice part of town. We had decided against going to the standard touristy places because we wanted to find out the inside scoop of London, so Angie told us all about how much the houses cost and their long histories, then we happened by the house where T.S. Eliot lived and died and found our way onto the nicest roof garden in London. It was great! We then walked over to Kensington Palace (former residence of Princess Diana) where we had high tea. There were cucumber sandwiches, scones, cake, and I even drank tea! By this time it was getting late, and I still had to take the underground back to the hotel to pick up my luggage, take the underground to the train station, then take a train to Brighton and then one to Falmer where I walked back to my dorm! I was still feeling the effects of my cold, so it was nice to finally be back in my room.

Friday, October 2, 2009

PARIS!

Saturday, Sept 26:
We left campus for London around lunch time and had plenty of free time in London before we had to catch our evening train for Paris. And since the train stop was across from King's Cross Station, naturally, I had to find Platform 9 3/4! The train ride to Paris was uneventful, and only took two and half hours (I slept through the entire Chunnel part of the journey). We got into Paris around 10:30pm and I had to pull out some rusty French so we could figure out how to get on the right Metro to our hostel. Luckily, we found it alright, had a late dinner at a quiant pizza place and went to bed.
Sunday, Sept 27:
Our breakfast each morning at the hostel was a bagette with butter and jam, and then the first three days, we walked about 25 minutes to the Eiffel Tower to catch our ride around the city. I saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time and then we caught Les Cars Rouges, our tour bus, to get to the Louvre. Since the Louvre was so huge, we missed a couple of the main attractions, but did manage to find the Mona Lisa. Then it was a ham bagette sandwich for lunch in the Tuilleries gardens before catching the bus to Notre Dame. We did some tourist shopping and I searched for the hunchback inside the church. Then we walked another 20 minutes to the Jardin du Luxemborg where we sat and enjoyed the nice weather. The girl I was traveling with (Min) had a friend in the city, and she met us in the garden and we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant nearby with her. Then it was another 25 minute walk back to the hostel before calling it a night.

Monday, Sept 28 (my 21st birthday!):
We walked to the Eiffel Tower to catch our tour bus again, which we rode to the Opera. I looked for the Phantom of the Opera, but like the hunchback, he too was elusive. We met Min's friend again and walked to a little restuarant recommended to us by our Activities Director at Sussex, Le Relais Gascon. We got huge salads topped with fried garlic potatoes before walking way up the hill to Sacre Coeur for a great view of the city. Then it was back down the hill to see Moulin Rouge and then back to the Opera to catch the tour bus one last time for a ride to the Eiffel Tower. I got some ice cream and then up the tower we went! Unfortunately, my camera died right in the middle section of the tower, but the others took plenty of pictures for me. Next we took the Metro to dinner at a cute French restaurant where we met up with a group of other girls from the University of Sussex. Then we went to a wine bar before taking the metro back to the hostel.


Tuesday, Sept 29
Min and I met with our other friend, Afua, and the friend she had been staying with, and we all walked to the Eiffel Tower together. Then Min, Afua, and I got on a boat tour down the Seine. Min and I explored the Musee d'Orsay and saw Monet, Degas, Van Vogh and more! Then we took the boat to the Jardin des Plants which might be one of my favorite spots in Paris. There were so many pretty flowers and I ate a crepe with nutella for lunch! Then it was back on the boat to the Champs-Elysees where I stopped in the Disney store! Unfortunately, they had pound and euro prices, the euro prices being much more expensive, but since when I transferred my money, the pound and the euro were about on par, it would have been a rip-off for me to buy anything. So I just looked! Then we climbed up the Arc de Triomphe- all 284 steps- for a great view at the top. On our way down, we encountered the daily honoring of the tomb of the unknown solider. Next it was dinner time and we found a nice Chinese restaurant, but like everything in France, it was really expensive. We walked back to the Seine to catch our last boat ride to the Eiffel Tower so that we could see it at night. It was so pretty and every hour it sparkles! Then it was time to walk back to the hostel.


video
Wednesday, Sept 30:
It was just Afua and I on Wednesday since Min was staying with her friend (they rotated who would stay in the hostel with me). We took the Metro to the Louve so Afua could see it, and I stumbled upon the upside down pyramid under the Louvre! Then we took the Metro out to Versailles where we walked around the massive gardens and toured the castle. We then had dinner at a "Tex-Mex" restaurant where their idea of tortilla chips was Mexican flavored doritos. But it was still yummy (and of course expensive). Then we headed back into the city to find "Footsie" a bar whose prices change depending on the stock market! But instead of getting drinks there, we decided to get some cheesecake across the street. Then we took the Metro back to the hostel.


Thursday, Oct 1:
Afua and I woke up early, checked out of the hostel, ate our last bagette, and took the Metro to the train station. Then we took the Eurostar to London and a train from London to Brighton to Falmer where I finally returned to campus to find all the first year students had moved in! Now that I'm all unpacked, it's time to head to London for the weekend for WashU's orientation program.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Preparations for Paris

Today was nice since I didn't have to think about school at all. I did however have to prepare for my trip to Paris, and doing so dominated most of my day. I did take some time to go out to lunch with Rachel at this cute Italian restuarant in Brighton and we did a little shopping for postcards and at the 99 pence store. Then I spent the rest of my afternoon reading a Paris guidebook, researching how to get around and packing. Now I'm all set to go! I leave tomorrow with another girl to go into London in the morning where I'll catch the Eurostar train around 6pm. I'll then be in Paris until Thursday morning when I'll come back to Sussex for a day before going to London for an orientation program sponsored by WashU. It's going to be a busy and fun week, and I planned it so I'll climb the Eiffel Tower on my birthday on Monday! Au revior for now!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Done with the September program

Yesterday I went to my last Children’s Literature class and then spent most of the day finishing up my paper. When I was done, I went out dancing with some friends which turned out to be a lot of fun. Today, I slept in, printed my paper and turned it in! I’m officially done with my first British course. Then I went into Brighton with a couple friends to do some shopping at Primark which is a big clothing store with a lot of cheap clothing. I don’t usually buy very much but as an early birthday present to myself, I bought a bunch of purple things. I got a cute shirt, a nice coat, flats, a scarf and two headbands, all for less than forty pounds. We then got some ice cream and took the bus back to campus where we went to the Leaving Reception for the Sussex in September program. Most of the group had plans to go out clubbing after the reception, but I had noticed a carnival had been set up in Brighton, so I convinced a couple of other girls to come with me. We had a blast!! Since it was Thursday, they had a special deal where all the rides were a pound, so we went on a bunch of rides and got candy floss (cotton candy). Our favorite ride was the tilt-a-whirl, which Rachel and I went on twice. The carnival workers actually ran around the ride spinning the cars extra fast, and it wasn’t scary like this one ride we went on that may make me lose my voice tomorrow I screamed so much! Then Rachel and I decided (being hyped up on sugar from the cotton candy) that we didn’t want to go back to school quite yet, so we walked down to the beach and hung out there for a while before coming back to school.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Buckingham Palace

Here I give a Royal wave in front of the carriage that has a history of attending Royal weddings. Foreshadowing my future?

Since Buckingham Palace is only open to the public through the end of September, I decided to use my day without class to go visit. Last week, I casually mentioned my desire to visit the palace to a friend, and we decided to go together. So Amy and I set off this morning to London. I began rereading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (the British version though!) for probably the twentieth time while on the train for class tomorrow and wished we were traveling into King’s Cross Station instead of Victoria Station so I could pretend I was going to Hogwarts with Harry. We arrived just in time to see the changing of the guards. I’m using the word “see” in the loosest terms here because there were literally hundreds and hundreds of people crowding around the gates and in the street, all trying to take pictures of the same thing. Still, it was one of those can’t-miss events, and I managed to get a few good pictures by standing on my tiptoes, holding the camera above my head, and randomly snapping shots. My favorite part was when the band starting playing the Pirates of the Caribbean theme song (after Dancing Queen and Mamma Mia) during the ceremony. The ceremony ended right in time for us to get to our 12:15 appointment at the Queen’s Gallery, which was a museum of many of the beautiful pieces of art collected by the royal monarchs over the years. Next came a tour of the State Rooms in the palace. They were absolutely gorgeous! We weren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but I had already taken so many pictures of men in red uniforms and giant hats that I was okay with putting my camera away for a while and just taking in the sites! After seeing the state rooms, the tour emptied into the Royal Gardens (which I was a little miffed to find did not consist of many flowers). By this time, I was beginning to wilt, so we stopped for some lunch at a little sandwich shop, where I ordered a delicious Belgium waffle. For the final part of our tour package, we headed over to the Royal Mews where they house the carriages and horses that transport the Queen, which were also lavishly decorated. I was quite exhausted by this point and was happy to take a nap on the train ride back to campus, where I found myself refreshed enough to start my paper. I'm attempting to attach a video of the changing of the guards- it will give a good feel for the crush of the crowd (and a really good view of that guy in the hat) while the band plays Pirates.

video

Monday, September 21, 2009

Food and Paper

I went to class this morning and then came back to my dorm to start outlining my paper. I didn't get too far since I spent a lot of time unpacking from my trip and putting up pictures! Then I went out to lunch in Brighton with a couple friends. When I got back, I started my paper outline but then it was time to go out to dinner with another group of friends since it was the birthday of the first girl I met in the Sussex program (at the airport my first morning in England). We went to a nice Chinese restaurant in the Brighton Marina. It was yummy but they only gave us half a class of water and we had to pay for it!! So after Chinese, we stopped at McDonalds for water and ice cream. When I got back to my dorm, I finally finished that pesky paper outline and now it's off to bed so I'm rested for my trip to tour Buckingham Palace tomorrow.

Weekend in Cardiff, Wales

Thursday:
I went to class in the morning and then packed for the trip. I only took a backpack and a purse so I had to pack light! Jena, my traveling buddy for the weekend, and I met up with some other people heading into London for the train ride. We had a little trouble getting train tickets and probably paid too much, but we really didn’t have a choice since we needed to get to London on time to catch the MegaBus to Cardiff. It was close, but we made it on the trains and then on the bus and we were off the Wales! We made it to Cardiff without a problem but we got dropped off in the middle of the city and had to figure out how to get to our hostel. We ended up taking a cab, checked into the hostel and stayed in for the night. The hostel was nice and they provided sheets and I rented a towel for 50p. We stayed in a room with three girls from Germany who were nice but were not very considerate. They definitely had the rule of the room and we tried to stay out of the way.
Friday:
We got up Friday morning and had the delicious free breakfast provided by the hostel with bacon, eggs, hash browns, croissants, etc. We decided not to spend money on taking a bus so we walked about thirty minutes to the city centre. We visited Cardiff Castle first and spend the morning exploring and taking pictures. We went to Subway for lunch to save money but took it across the street to a really pretty garden and had a picnic in the flowers. We explored another garden after lunch and then went to the National Museum. After the museum we explored some of the little shops in Cardiff, and then came the long hike back to the hostel. We stopped at a grocery store on the way and got this great meal deal for 5 pounds which we cooked up in the hostel kitchen. After dinner we ran into some other girls from Sussex who were staying at the same hostel and went out to dinner with them (minus the food of course since our meal was so cheap and delicious already). We took the notoriously late buses to the City Centre this time though so we wouldn’t be walking in the dark. Then we went to an Irish pub and an 80s dance club before heading back to the hostel for the night.
Saturday:
We decided to spend the day with the other group of seven girls, so after another nice breakfast, we walked across the street from the hostel to Roath Park which had gorgeous gardens, a playground and a lake! We spent the rest of the morning there, taking pictures of the flowers and playing on the playground. We then took a bus to the City Centre where we caught a bus to St. Fagan’s, a historical village a little bit like Williamsburg. We ate Nutella sandwiches made at breakfast for lunch and explored the village. We also found another castle on the grounds which had more gorgeous gardens. We were all pretty tired by this time so we headed back into town and Jena and I separated from the bigger group to get the same meal deal at the grocery, cooked it up, and then went to bed early. Saturday was the only day we didn’t carry all of our stuff around with us because we locked it up with the other girls’ stuff. The other days we had to tote around all that we brought!
Sunday:
We had the free breakfast for the last time and walked into the City Centre. The other group of Sussex girls had left the night before so Jena and I were on our own again. We found that it’s a lot easier to travel with fewer people though, so it was nice that it was just the two of us. Our German roommates had given us some sightseeing bus passes the evening before. They were good for 24 hours so we were able to use them that morning to get from the City Centre to Cardiff Bay. We walked around the bay and got some lunch at a different grocery store. Then we sat on the wharf for a while before deciding to splurge and take a four pound boat trip around the bay. It was really nice and then we got ice cream as a treat for eating so cheaply all weekend. Our bus tickets had expired by this point so we walked from the Bay into the City Centre where we were able to catch the MegaBus into London and then a train and a bus back to campus. There was plenty of walking all weekend, and we traveled pretty cheaply- I think I spend less than 150 pounds for the entire trip. It was also a good practice trip for future trips!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

100 Akre Wood

Above: on the Poohsticks Bridge. Below: in the sixty-something trees


I had class this morning then packed a lunch and headed out on a class field trip to Ashdown Forest, more commonly known as the Hundred Acre Wood because E.H. Shepard got his ideas for the illustrations for Winnie the Pooh there. If you compare my pictures with illustrations in the book, they are quite similar! We saw what people suppose to be the sixty-something trees in a circle, a Heffalump trap, Roo’s sandpit, and the enchanted place at the top of the Forest. Then we took a short drive and a longer walk to the Poohsticks Bridge where Christopher Robin really did play as a child. We of course had to play Poohsticks but my stick was a bit lagging and ended up somewhere around fifth place. I don’t think Pooh would have minded. We then drove into a nearby village where there was “Pooh Corner,” a shop filled with Winnie the Pooh merchandise! Finally, it was time to come back to campus and I had to do laundry for the first time here, and it was very expensive and confusing. Luckily, I went with Jena, so together we managed to sort it out, and now I have all clean clothes. Just in time too, as I am going to Wales from Thursday until Sunday, so I’ll have to blog extra on Sunday to make up for the missed days! Also, the reason this post is late coming up is because I went out dancing last night. The dancing part was okay, but the best part of the night was when a guy on the bus on the way home started singing classic Disney songs out loud and the entire top of the double decker bus joined in!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A low-key day

Today was a pretty low-key day; I woke up to a steady downpour that continued throughout the morning while I wrote my paper for Children’s Lit. Then I went into Brighton with some other girls and they went shopping and I sort of browsed around. I then returned early to watch Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which was being shown for my class. Unfortunately, I was the only one who showed up to the viewing since people had already seen it or were too busy writing their papers to come. But I stayed and watched it anyway! Then I came back to my room for dinner and wanted to watch more Harry Potter, so I watched some of A Very Potter Musical on YouTube (which I would highly recommend if you’re a HP fan who also likes comedy). Nothing too exciting today, but every now and then you need one of those do very little days!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Globe

sunset over the Thames:

I went to class this morning and then had time to make lunch and outline my paper before it was time to head to London for the evening. A few other girls and I had dinner right on the Thames River at a pizza place and then the whole group met up at the Globe Theatre for a production of As You Like It. I’m quite a fan of Shakespeare (especially after spending a whole year studying him freshman year in college) so I was really excited to see a play performed at the Globe, and it definitely lived up to its expectations. We had seats in the uppermost section looking down at the stage and I rented a cushion for the hard seat. The play was funny and well performed but long enough that I was glad not to be in the standing section. On the way back to campus, I managed to finish The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, so that I got a lot accomplished today while also having fun.in front of the Globe and in the Globe!