Tuesday, August 11, 2009

20 Things I've Learned on My Study Abroad

1. I’ve learned that sometimes public restrooms will just have to do…
2. I’ve learned that I am really really grateful for showers that are the same consistent temperature
3. I've learned what bed bugs are
4. I’ve learned that Marks and Spencer’s is the best store in the world
5. I’ve learned that I appreciate toilets in America that flush on the first attempt
6. I’ve learned that castles and cathedrals are amazing but no matter who you are they eventually get boring
7. I’ve learned that I am not the biggest fan of Shakespeare plays
8. I’ve learned to not talk to strangers on the tube late at night
9. I’ve learned what “snogging” really means…
10. I’ve learned that “a chance of afternoon showers” means that it is going to rain all day…
11. I’ve learned that late night “study” parties are great, especially when we have all been cooped up all night and Saire has her “clothes” to play dress up in…
12. I’ve learned how to substitute chocolate bars for frosting
13. I’ve learned that in Ireland “craic” is not a term for an illegal drug
14. I’ve learned to not flash the peace sign to anyone in Europe…
15. I’ve learned how to stop terrorism with a simple hug…
16. I’ve learned to make the most of every second
17. I’ve learned how much I appreciate my family
18. I’ve learned that not everyone can always get along perfectly but you just need to learn to accept and love everyone for who they are
19. I’ve learned how much I enjoy learning and stepping out of my comfort zone
20. Finally, I've learned about a new and different culture, learned how to embrace and adapt to it, but more importantly learned that in the end we are all the same

Oh and a bonus just for fun: I’ve learned to always always always “mind the gap.”

yup im definately still awake and its 2 am...and im getting up in 4 hours....

So Long Scotland (August 11th)

Today we woke up and went to Arthur’s Seat which is one of the tallest hills in Scotland. We hiked up to the very top and it was beautiful. Edinburgh is starting to grow on me, I guess its because I was able to get out of the city. The hike was beautiful and we could see out over the city for miles. On our way we saw this exhibit that showed a bunch of crazy street signs. They were so funny! I will post a few pictures of them. We then went to my favorite store (marks and Spencer’s) which is probably the thing about Europe that I will miss the most. We stocked up on some last minute groceries and then came back to the hostel to pack. It was our professor’s birthday today so we made a few cakes. We got really into it and went all out. The only problem is that people here do not know what frosting is so we had to improvise. For one of the cakes we found some marzipan and tried to make that work, and for the other one we melted a giant chocolate bar and used that for frosting. We made some really awesome chocolate covered strawberries to top the cakes off. Even though we had a hard time getting the right ingredients the cakes turned out really good.
I am really sad to be leaving Europe tomorrow. I definitely could have stayed in London a lot longer. Im ready to get out of this hostel though… I feel like this is worse than camping… it will be good to see my family and friends but I am not ready for this adventure to be over. I am really so lucky to have been able to participate on this study abroad. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am really grateful to be here. Im heading home tomorrow morning at 6 am and get into salt lake at around 9 pm. Lets just say its going to be a long long day.

some funny signs

Last few days.. (August 10th)

this picture is of my professors and me. from the left: Larry, Diane, Me, Rachel our TA and Wendy
Yesterday we basically worked on our paper all morning and got most of it done. After we went out to lunch to the café that J.K. Rawlings started to write Harry Potter. It was called the elephant café. It was decent food, nothing too special but it was fun to be there. After we walked around Edinburgh and saw a lot of the city. This place is still not one of my favorites. Its dirty and crowded. In one store I thought I was going to go crazy because there were a billion people, not enough space, and annoying bagpipe music playing way way too loud. The day did get better though. We had our closing banquet last night and we went to this really good restaurant. Dinner was so good but the best part was dessert (white chocolate cheesecake with blackberries)!! We watched a slide show of all of our pictures and everyone was given an award. Mine was “so much fun we forget she’s a vegetarian.” It was a fun night and a good time being with everyone one last time.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Edinburgh (August 8th)

So Scotland hasn’t been the most exciting place we have been… its still been nice don’t get me wrong but I miss London. We are staying in Edinburgh and im not a huge fan. It’s a rougher city and it gets a little dangerous at times. So at night we basically have to hang out at our lovely hostel. I miss the country, it was beautiful. I have learned a few things about this country…I have learned that you never use the “E” word (English). They do not have very kind feelings towards the English. Also Scotland has about 12.5 million sheep and only about 5 million people. Crazy right? Of those 5 million people, 7% own 80% of all the land. In other words there is a huge gap between the rich and the poor and there is a small portion of the country that is extremely wealthy. We went on a tour through the country yesterday and saw a castle and a few cities but it wasn’t too exciting. Our bus driver was pretty cool; he wore a kilt…that was about the highlight of my day. My hostel keeps getting better and better…. Ive seen quite a few naked men walking around (in fact we have officially re-named this hostel the “creeper men hostel.” every morning we wake up to the stench of cigarette smoke…we sleep on beds that squeak every time you move an inch and they wake everyone in the room up…what else…I don’t know, other than that Scotland is great…
Last night was two of the girls in our groups birthday so we went out to dinner and then kenzie and I made a birthday cake for them. We had to improvise because on the package everything was labeled in ml instead of tsp or tbls… also, we had no tools for measuring so it was very makeshift. It turned out great however and everyone liked it. We were proud of ourselves.

scotland! (August 8th)

the top picture is our bus driver Brian. the next picture is my dinner.. jk doesnt this pigs head look delicious? we found this at a castle in the mock kitchen.

the next picture is of a "mormon" sheep that we found. lets see if everyone can put the pieces together...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Hadrians Wall (August 7th)

We also stopped at Hadrian’s Wall today on our way to Scotland. This is a wall that was built by the Romans to keep the Scottish out of England. It runs the whole boarder of the two countries and in some places is four meters high. We walked a long it for a while and of course snapped some pictures. After we got back on the bus. It seemed like we were on it for so long today. My back was hurting from sitting so long it was miserable. We finally arrived in Scotland after a long long long drive. The worst was still to come. I don’t know how but for some reason I ended up with eight bags. I looked like an absolute idiot trying to haul all my stuff down the road to the hostel. Everyone was pointing and laughing and one guy even commented that it is always easier to travel light. I wanted to punch him. Then we got to the hostel and found out that we had to go up two flights of stairs…no elevator… and once we finally got to our room we realized how miserable this stay is really going to be. The rooms are tiny!!! And we have a dozen people in each room; have co-ed showers and bathrooms, and no outlets in our rooms. So 25 girls trying to get ready in the morning is going to be so much fun. I really am grateful to be here I know it doesn’t sound like it right now…but I think that after this week I will be happy to be going home.

Fountains Abbey (August 7th)

Today we were traveling all day long. We started off the day by leaving York and traveling to fountain abbey. This was absolutely stunning. It was an ancient monetary where “white” monks went to get away from the world. White monks were different that other monks in that they wore all white. Nobody except the people living in the monetary were allowed on the land (except eth exception of a few people who were visiting the hospital). There were the monks and the Laymen. The monks were the ones that could read and they took vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. The laymen were the workers. They took care of the grounds and they were not literate. They did everything from baking to shoemaking to plumbing. They had to sleep in separate dormitories from the monks and also had to go to church separately. They monks day consisted of church three times a day, writing, and one meal. An interesting fact is that regardless of the number of hours of sunlight they always divided the day into the same number of “hours.” So in the summer time, they would have longer intervals in their “hours” and in the winter they would have the same number of “hours” but they would be shorter. Does that make any sense? So in the summer the sun would rise at about 2 am and set at about 10 pm. In the winter it would get light at around 8 and dark at around 5. one last interesting fact about this monetary is that during the reformation king Henry VIII too all of the metal off the roof and melted it to make guns. This was also a statement made to the church in that he didn’t want to be part of it anymore. It was at that time that the monks were all kicked out of the monetary and since then there has been on catholic monarch. However this is trying to be changed seeing as prince Charles is married to a catholic.

York (August 6th)

In York were got dropped off at noon and had until eight at night to walk around. This would have been great except in Europe everything closes are about six at night…so we had a lot of time to wander around. We started off with a walking tour…which minus a few cool facts was lame and im glad I didn’t have to pay for it. York is a cute little town that is completely surrounded by a stone wall. Even our bus wasn’t allowed inside and we had to be dropped off outside of the city. It was a wall built by the Romans and most of it is underground. There was one place on the walk where you could see three ruins of walls. The first was the wall of an old hospital, the second was the roman wall, and the outside wall was a medieval wall. Also in York there was a large cathedral in the center of town. It was beautiful. I learned that a few years back it burned down and the giant rose window was shattered into 40 million pieces. Amazingly enough they were able to salvage all of the pieces and put it back together! Finally the last cool fact I learned about York is that it has the smallest police force in all of Europe. It consists of 11 policemen, almost all of which look after the cathedral.
After our little tour four of us went to this awesome smoothie place and then went on a tour of some dungeons. It was almost like a haunted house, it was really scary and they showed you all of the gruesome history of the city. We saw torture champers and tools that they used for it. We also saw the history of the Vikings and how they murdered hundreds of Anglo-Saxons when they arrived. It was all interactive and at one point I was put on trial for witch craft. I was of course found guilty and sentenced to hang. Fun stuff. After that little adventure we found this amazing restaurant. It was this little place where I had this great bean burger in a pita and corn on the cob. They let you choose how spicy you want it and they had these amazing sauces to cook them in. it was so good that I bought some of the sauce and we all plan on making the food when we get back.

The Beatles are back!!

yellow submarine!

Liverpool (August 5th)

Today we drove to Liverpool which was rad! It was a beautiful sunny and warm day. We were fortunate enough to meet up with Saries uncle who happens to be an ambassador for the city. “he is kind of a big deal” according to him and he was so much fun. He took us to the Beatle’s story museum which told the history of the Beatles and how they got together. It also gave information about their whole career and what happened after they split up. I was sooo happy to be here, the Beatles are amazing and this was one of my favorite days. Little did we know, but Sarie’s uncle used to be the booking manager for the Beatles. He was actually in New York with Paul McCartney last week! He got us in for free and hooked us up with cake and smoothies. He also gave us vip ambassador pins and we got some special privileges in the tour. He even was in some of the displays in the tour and narrated some of the self guided tour. Today I learned that john Lennon and Paul McCartney met when they were just 15 and started to play together. Also, I didn’t realize this but their actual recording career only lasted eight years! In those few years they had over 200 hit songs, many of which have been redone hundreds of times. In fact there are over 3,000 versions of the song “Yesterday.” After this museum we went over to the second newer part. It has only been open for about a month and it was mostly about John Lennon. It was about his life, his marriages and his children. I found out some cool facts about one of my favorite Beatles songs “Hey Jude.” It was written by Paul for John’s son Julian when john and his first wife got their divorce. The song was originally titled “Hey Jules” but it was changed later. We also walked over to Mathew Street where the Cavern (which is the pub that the Beatles got started at) is. We walked in and saw it and hung out for a bit. Liverpool is very proud of the fact that the Beatles started here. In fact, when they started to get popular they were resentful because they didn’t want the world to share their beloved band.
After the museum we thought we would be so funny if we bought Beatles wigs and glasses and walked around the town. We walked back into our hostel and nobody recognized us. it was hilarious. We wore them for the rest of the night and took really funny pictures. Im sad to be leaving Liverpool tomorrow morning and wish we had a few more days here.

Stratford (Aug 4th)

Today was the first day of our last week on the study abroad. We drove to Stratford upon Avon and it was a quaint little town. It was very small and unfortunately it was raining all day long. This is where Shakespeare is from and everything in the town was named after him. Our first stop was to his wife, Anne Hathaway’s cottage where she lived and raised shakespear's children. We snapped some pictures and then we went to shakespear’s home that he grew up in. it was restored recently but supposedly it was just like the original. It was interesting to walk through. After we walked through the town and came to the church where he is buried. We saw his tomb and took a few more pictures. It really was neat to be there just because Shakespeare is such an important person. He did so much for the English language. He was so influential and had such an impact on literature and writing in general. Later in the evening we went out to dinner and had some great dinner, but even better dessert. It was banana cheesecake and I was in heaven. That is where the good part of the day ended. After dinner we went to a Shakespeare play called a Winter’s Tale. It would have been better if I wasn’t so tired and if it wasn’t almost four hours long. It was very bizarre and frankly after the show I felt I had been dreaming for the last couple of hours. It was all a blur and I was pretty happy when it was over. When I looked around at the people in my group during the play I saw that 14 of the 26 people were asleep. However, even though the play wasn’t the best I still had a great day and enjoyed Stratford.

Preston England Temple

On our way to York we were able to stop at the Preston England temple it was so beautiful and even though we couldn’t go inside it was amazing just being there. It was such a good feeling pulling up to it and being able to walk around outside. Here are some good pictures…

Monday, August 3, 2009

The London Eye

Goodbye London (August 3)

So today was my last day in London and I am really sad about it. My time here as been amazing and I have learned so much about this culture and also about the English language in general. I took my two finals today and did really well on both of them. I came into the classes nervous and to be honest, not really looking forward to the class work. Linguistics is not a topic that comes naturally to me and I knew very little about it. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to do as well as I wanted to. However by the end of the class I feel like I really did learn so much. It has been a great learning experience to get out of my comfort zone and study something that I wouldn’t normally study. The topics turned out to be extremely fascinating to me and I feel like I was able to really take it all in. Outside of class I feel like I have learned a lot also. When I first got here I felt small and insecure, afraid to be on my own in such a large city. But by the end of the fourth week here I feel accomplished, like I can handle anything. I know my way around, I am confident in a large city by myself and even though I have realized that I prefer the country to the city I do think that it would be a good experience to live in a large city for a few years. I feel like I have been able to see so much in the small amount of time that I have been here. Looking back, I feel like I saw everything that I really wanted to see and then more.
Our last day here was a beautiful one. There was not a cloud in the sky and the temperature was perfect. I went for my last run in Hyde Park this morning and it was so rejuvenating. After class I came back and packed and then went shopping with Sarie. We bought a few last minute souvenirs and then we went over to Westminster Abbey for Evensong. Daily worship has taken place in Westminster for over 1,000 years. Evensong is a service performed each night that is mostly sung and follows very closely with the 1549 original Book of Common Prayer. Tonight the choir that sang was from Indianapolis and was a group of young boys. The music was really beautiful, especially when it echoed throughout the chapel. However it was really interesting to be able to go to the temple earlier this week and see the stark differences between the two churches. There is no comparison to the feeling that you get when in the celestial room, and it was definitely not the feeling that I felt during tonight’s service.
After evensong, all of my friends and I went back to my favorite vegetarian restaurant for one last dinner. I had the same exact thing as last time because it was so amazing. Then Kenzie, Sarie and I all went to ride the London Eye as the sun was setting. It was a perfect day for it. The city lights looked so cool and I loved being able to look across the city and recognize all of the places that we have been. We snapped some great pictures, had a ton of fun and then headed back to finish packing. I think it’s going to be a long night tonight but we have a long time to sleep on the bus tomorrow.
Off to Scotland we go!

Sunday, August 2, 2009