Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Over the past two weeks, I have shared with you stories, thoughts and opinion about my study abroad experience. However, today I want to expose the little details that make this trip so unique. First, are the songs. As we walk through the streets of London, we are always singing a song, usually to the latest musical we saw. Whenever we hear street musicians, who are everywhere, we add to their performance by dancing along. Second, is chocolate. We find the need to incorporate chocolate into every meal, or make late night Tesco runs for a cookie, candy bar or a jelly doughnut.
We spend Monday through Thursday in class, but I have yet to be in a classroom. Today class consisted a trip to Tate Britain, a tour of the oldest playhouse in England and a play tonight. Yesterday the class ventured to Canterbury Cathedral, where our teacher held class in the train on the way to Canterbury.
As you know, the weather in London is not quite like the weather in good ole' Kentucky right now. Being a bit chillier and the possibility of rain everyday, we wear a jacket everywhere. However, must remove them as soon as we walk in a building or take a trip on the underground, as the British don't believe in air conditioning. It is a constant struggle between temperatures everyday. Also, we always have a hot beverage in hand, coffee, tea and hot chocolate. Sometimes it gets me through the day of walking, trains and tours.
While we are filled with many things everyday (culture, knowledge, history), sleep is not one of them. However, this is our own fault. For when we spend the night in, we are watching a British movie in the small, but cozy movie room. So far we have seen Notting Hill, The Holiday, Love Actually and Shakespeare in Love to name a few. When we go out to a play or a pub, we always return around ten, then sit and talk in the room for 3 hours. No worries, I can sleep in America!
Sunday, June 7, 2009
I’m back from the land of leprechauns and I have lots of stories to share. First, movies can be deceiving. Ireland was a little different than the rolling green hills and jolly pubs in P.S. I love you. That said, it was quite an experience. We arrived early Friday morning in high spirits after little sleep the night before; we were going off pure adrenaline and excitement. We easily found our hostel and a cheap pizza joint down the street. Our first goal of the trip was to see the Irish countryside, so we went on a bus tour to Malahide Castle, the town of Howth and the north coast. It was picturesque. Arriving back to our rooms, we unpacked a little and freshened up for the night’s activities. The three of us ventured down to Temple Bar, cobblestone streets with a variety of restaurants and pubs. We decided on an Italian restaurant, in Ireland. After dinner, we walked through the streets where there was a variety of live bands and dancing. People were everywhere. There was one man dressed completely in gray, with gray painted skin that looked just like a statue. So of course, I thought it was a statue, until I walked by him and he jumped at me. I screamed and ran as fast as my little legs could take me.
Temple Bar was fun, but a little creepy, we decided to call it an early night and head back to the hostel. Our room had two twin beds, and three of us. We were relieved to see an empty bed when we returned, we changed into our pjs and Mariann told us her creepy experiences at hostels, relieved that we had our own room. Alexandra and I were hostel virgins, and thought we had it pretty good with our own room and bathroom. In the middle of the story, we heard a rattling on the doorknob and in walks our roommate for the night, a middle-aged, greasy man. We attempt a few awkward exchanges; he tells us that he is from Dublin, which seems a little fishy to us. We all lay down in uncomfortable silence. Finally, he excuses himself for the bathroom, and we all pop up from under the covers and ask each other what in the world are we going to do. We make a collective decision to change rooms, and the girls elect me to speak the receptionist. I make up some story about how we were only supposed to have a woman in the room, the receptionist is a sweet, young girl and she immediately finds us a new room. Later we discover that she is from Mississippi, so of course she understands the high-maintenance southern girl thing. Mariann tells the creepy man in the room that we can’t sleep because of traveling all day and don’t want to keep him up so we must switch rooms (lie # 2). He doesn’t respond. Our new room is cozy and roommate free.
The next morning we wake to the sound of raindrops on the window. We grab a sugary breakfast of waffles and cappuccinos. Hoods up, we begin our tour of the city in the rain. After thirty minutes of this, we give up and sign ourselves up for another bus tour, this one of the city of Dublin. Finding ourselves cozy seats in the back, we are able to see all of Dublin’s treasures in the dryness of a bus and hop off at any of the stops we choose. This made out for a very enjoyable afternoon. After a brief nap, we went to a pub a few doors over for some traditional Irish dancing. However, when we arrived Ireland was playing in a world cup qualifying game (soccer), so the dancing was pushed back to later. I loved watching the game in the midst of the Irish futbol followers, the other girls not so much. We decided to run to the supermarket and grab some chocolate to burn sometime before the dancers performed. Taking a long time to decide what we wanted and then deciding to eat it in our room, I realized that the game had been over for a while and we needed to hurry back. Having the luck of the Irish, by the time we got back the dancing was over. I told the waiter at the pub our story and he told us to follow him. He led us down the stairs to a private party, where we were able to watch the dancers up close. We were amazed at how these girls and guys could leap across the stage and kick their legs in the air like they did. Feeling inspired, we returned upstairs where a DJ was now playing and decided to try out some of the moves on our own. While girls were in high-heels and short dresses, the three of us strutted around in tennis shoes and rain jackets practicing our Irish clog dancing moves to Mama Mia and Journey, until “Single Ladies” came on and Mariann and I performed the entire dance for all of the Irish to see.
Overall, our trip to Ireland was successful, but very different than what we expected. Told by our professor that the Irish were such nice people, we were surprised when we did not receive any hospitality. The weather wasn’t the best, but we had a great time and have lots of fun memories for the expedition.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
We went to a play today at the Globe Threatre (Shakespeare's play). Of course, our group was groundlings, or those who don't pay very much and stand the entire time in the front. The play was great, As You Like It, which is one of Shakespeare's comedies. The entire play was his original script, so a little hard to follow at times, but still great. For the second half Mariann and I snuck into some empty seats. No one was using them and our feet were aching.
Mariann, Alexandra and I leave tomorrow for DUBLIN, and we are so excited. However, we realized tonight that you can only have one carry-on, including your purse. Since we all have large backpacking backpacks we though we would be fine. However, there is also limits on how large the bag can be, and our backpacks are too large. The solution to our problem: wear lots of clothes on the plane! The forecast for the weekend is cold and rainey, so layering is the only option. Tomorrow on the plane I am wearing four shirts, luckily we are all the same size so the three of us our going to swop shirts everyday. Roughing it for sure, but we will make do.
If anyone has ever seen the movie P.S. I love you, then you know as much about Ireland as I do. Ever since I first saw that movie, (and the Irish men in the movie) I have wanted to go to Ireland. We just don’t know that much about it. This weekend and our layers of clothing is sure to be an adventure.
Spent the day in Oxford, and it is incredible. We arrived at the bus stop at 7:30 this morning and did not return until 7:30 that night. We went to 8 of the colleges and their chapels. Oxford University is made up of variety of colleges that each teach a variety of subjects. Seniors are currently taking their exams, so they were all dressed up (they looked like characters from Harry Potter.) While we put on sweat pants for exams, Oxford students wear bow ties, dresses with tights and long black robes. Some of the buildings on the campus were made as early as the 1300's, when Oxford began as a school for priests. Each college had a private garden. We also went into Christ Church College dining hall, better known as the dining hall used in Harry Potter. We also strolled down to the Eagle and the Child, where C.S. Lewis and Tolken would meet to discuss ideas. The town of Oxoford isn't bad either, it was made up of an eclectic mix of boutiques and cafes. So I guess you could say I finially decided what to do and where to go when I graduate. Don't worry mom and dad, I'm only kidding (kind of).
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
I should be asleep, since we leave tomorrow at 7:30 for Oxford. But I can't so I decided to write. Nothing too excited has happened in the last few days, just more touring. Which I love, there is so much to see in this beautiful city! The weather is perfection, about 75 everyday and sunny. The area we live in is perfect, quiet and quaint. Away from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus and Convent Garden, which I love being in during the day but enjoy escaping it in the evening. We saw an incredible play tonight called A Little Night Music. It was very well written, containing lots of whit and hidden humor.
However, I believe in writing with a purpose and since there hasn't been anything too exciting in the last few days I must share some thoughts about traveling with you. Traveling allows you to understand a person in ways you never knew. After traveling together for one week, I know this group in ways I don't know close friends at home. With 50% of marriages in America ending in divorce, something must be done. I think I found the solution. If couples were required to travel together (not sleep in the same beds) there would be so much less divorce. First, many couples would not get married after spending a week with this person abroad. Secondly, many of the issues that do not come up until after marriage will be dissolved. In traveling, you learn sleep, food and spending habits of a person. All of which are required for survival. Well, I know you didn't ask for it, but I gave you my opinion anyway.