Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Oddly, this summer "up north" has been hot as [fill in blank; options: hell, balls, the inside of a furnace, Brad Pitt, or all of the above] with Singapore-like humidity. All I want to do is pass out in my swimming suit on top of the air conditioner and avoid my equally hot laptop at all costs. As much as I hate our sub zero winters, this heat is just ridiculous. I am too young for hot flashes.
I have to give a "speech" on studying abroad tomorrow to a room full of bored freshman and even more antsy faculty. Hopefully I can muster some pep and keep the nervous palm sweating to a minimum.
I promise my travels will be accounted for soon. My time in Ireland, Portugal and Germany seem like a dream so hopefully when its verified by social media the trip will seem more real. Until then...stay golden.
Monday, June 28, 2010
For once, I can legitimately say I was a real backpacker. Somehow, with muscle and will power, I crammed everything into my 1 piece of hand luggage--my loyal North Face backpack. Lilly's last minute "did you pack this" interrogation was also helpful. I don't think I'd ever traveled so light. Almost busting at the seams, I headed to the airport Friday afternoon (June 11th). I met Sydney at the train station and we said our sad, final goodbyes. Luckily she lives in Montreal so I will hopefully find time to visit her. After waving farewell to Sheffield, I trained to Manchester airport and caught my Ryan Air flight to Dublin. Discount airlines are great but don't have the best departure times, so I got into Dublin pretty late but was able to catch a shuttle to the city centre. I walked the rest of the way to Abbey Court, the hostel I stayed in for 3 nights. It was a pretty nice hostel on the Liffey and I shared my room with about 9 other people. Little did I know, however, that one of my roommates would be an insane, self-medicating, alcoholic Irish hairdresser insomniac. Let's just say she made my first night very interesting...
Side note: My blogging stamina is not what it used to be so I'm thinking short spurts might be how things get caught up. Or, if I'm ambitious, I could spend my airport time on Wednesday working. Meh. Oh, did I mention, I'm flying to Chicago on Wednesday!! Craziness
It's so hard to think about my trip when I looking at my final days here and at my half-packed room with an exhausting mixture of sadness and excitement. England and Sheffield especially have definitely come to feel like home even though I've only been here 5 months. On the other hand, that's no chump change and I've spent almost a half a year away from all my wonderful family and friends back home. I've definitely missed people, anniversaries, weddings, and other important things but I wouldn't give up my time in Sheffield for anything. I have had new experiences, good and bad, and made life-long friends that have changed me forever. Although difficult and frustrating at times, I did enjoy my university work as well, and took some modules that have really expanded my education. As with most things though, I will definitely remember the people I met, the people I lived, danced, laughed, cried and traveled with. I will miss 27, although may be not its perpetual dirtiness. Besides people, I am sorry to say goodbye to savory pies and pasties, professors that sound like Harry Potter characters, the controversial fashion choices, dance clubs in the student union, cheap pints and pubs with character, really cheap taxis, TEA!!, people calling me 'love' and saying 'cheers'
Things I'm happy to leave behind: hills, jeggings, mini skirts, English milkshakes, the weather, the pound (and pound coins), plug adapters, food packaging sizes (I go through those tiny peanut butter jars way too fast), risking my life every time I cross the street, house inspections, 24/7 world cup obsession (can only be taken in small doses)
Things I'm excited for (besides people of course): My wardrobe!! No more living out of a suitcase. An actual TV, buses I understand, using my new cooking skills, fresh-water beaches, my bike, Wisconsin dairy products, Netflix, seeing where life takes me...
I can, at the end of it all without hesitation, say I've changed, although only time and reflection can really say how.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Orange Wednesday--the mobile company Orange offers 2 for 1 tickets on Wednesdays so I talked the b-boys into going to Four Lions. It's a comedy, shot in Sheffield actually, about four men who want to be terrorists. A bit controversial but hilarious. I didn't understand some of it due to accent and British type humor but it was still great. My seminar instructor also happened to be working the till and let me and a friend in for free. Definitely pays to get to know your profs! We went to the Common Room after for some pints and Luke and I planned his hopeful visit to the US which includes us road tripping across the country. Time to start putting together the ultimate American road trip playlist!
Friday we went to The Place for cocktails in celebration of Steph's birthday. It was also perfect preparation for seeing Sex & the City 2 later that night. It was reeeally long but okay. Not much happened. Most of the party went to the club right next door after it was over but I needed to be fresh for study group the next morning so left with another girl. It was a nice night so we decided to walk home. I don't think I've ever walked through city centre that late before...crazy! They even have police and ambulances on hand to deal with the massive bar crowds. Since there's no smoking inside, you also see more people because everyone needs to go outside to smoke. As a side note, Milwaukee is going smoke free this month! I am so excited that I won't have to smell like an ashtray all day when I want my cheap diner pancakes. As we were approaching campus it started to pour so we caught a city bus which thankfully was still running. I'll have to remember the 52 runs late.
Studying studying and more studying. One bright side is that our window seats in the library had a great view of the city.
Ahh I detest in-class essays. Especially this one. What really got on my nerves was that we were expected to research at least 3 works/authors not knowing what was to be asked and to be able to cite secondary criticism without notes. That's not even testing our critical thinking, just how well we can memorize research, research which is guaranteed to be less than optimal since we can't know the themes or what to focus on. Despite my bitterness, I think I did okay. I know I don't have enough research but I think my second essay was good. The first part, close analysis, not so much. I just couldn't think of anything else to say so it was really short. I found the whole testing process to be a little strange. We were put in this huge exhibition center where they had set up temporary desks and asked us to check our bags in the cloakroom. There were about 5 different subjects/classes all testing in the same room at the same time. Everything is very official and you have staff walking around and checking your ID and making there's no cheat sheets. Where's the trust? Well, they were certainly very efficient. After, I walked home, relaxed, booked the final legs of my Europe trip, and got some boxes ready to mail home. I'm dreading packing for Ireland, Portugal and Germany since I've committed to not checking a bag and just using my backpack. I am going to have to really condense.
I hope the rain lets up soon. I have a million errands to run before Friday and I'd rather not slog around in the puddles. Although, I must say the rain is much more pleasant when it's warmer out. Well I suspect tonight will be an early night since I am exhausted and need to get pumped up for our final Corp night tomorrow! I better find my shirt and tie.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
This past weekend proved cold and wet...perfect weather to suit my lazy mood. The plus side of not doing much, however, is that the small moments become very memorable. Here are some highlights:
Thursday, after my last post, my housemates, some various internationals, and I hit the dance floor at Plug, sadly for the last time (probably). I finally got to witness chat roulette night which was somewhat scarring. Chat roulette is a website where people go on their webcams and are randomly paired with someone else on a webcam anywhere in the world. Either person can move on to another person whenever. I've never done it but Plug had a webcam facing the dance floor and the person we were 'chatting' with on tv screens around the room. I mostly ignored it since at least 50% of the site is used by creepy naked men. Yes, I know, too much information. But at least now you've been warned.
Sunday, Lilly and I had tea time at Cocoa, a delicious chocolate shop and cafe that looks like a doll house. We each had a cupcake which was sooo good but extremely sweet. And if the equal parts cake and frosting weren't enough, they also baked in a strawberry jam center to, I don't know, make it 'healthy'.As you see though, still delicious. We walked back through the botanical gardens where I saw these lovely flowers:
Lilly and I also decided, rather spontaneously, to meet up the next day for hiking in the Peak District. So, Monday we meet around 8am and took the bus to the train station. Our train got into Hathersage at around 9:30. Since it was so last minute we didn't really have a plan and were further handicapped by our lack of a map. Lilly wanted to see Stanage Edge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanage_Edge) where Kiera Knightly stood in Pride&Prejudice which is just outside of the town. We got a general idea from the map on the wall of the train station and headed off. The walk to the walk was quite a trek in itself but did give us a nice scenic tour of the area. I was a little camera crazy since I haven't taken many photos lately. We finally made it to the rocky cliffs which are popular with rock climbers. We walked along the ridge, ate lunch and soaked in the vast rolling hills and plains while trying to catch the patchy sunshine. After, we walked back into town and had tea outside a cute cafe. The plan was to then follow the river to Grindleford, another village. There is supposed to be a walking path according to a map in the North Face store. We tried taking a road to get there but ended up on a highway getting beeped at by oncoming traffic. Fearing for our lives, we decided to turn around and find another path. We never did find the footpath to Grindleford but did end up taking a nice hike along a river through Goose Nest Wood and some lovely farmland. Eventually we got back to Hathersage and took the next train out. Back in Sheffield, I stopped at Staples for boxes and bubble wrap. Time to send things home!
Today I'm desperately trying to study with little success. I ended up going to an Italian cafe up the road called Remo's for a latte and lunch. I'm in love with that place! The man who I assume owns it is extremely friendly and seems to know everyone. It's one of those rare places that creates a family of regulars but still feels welcoming to newbies. I got to talking with the owner who introduced me to some Americans who happen to frequent the place. One has been in Sheffield for 6 years and the other 12! A lady I talked to said Remo's is like home for stranded Americans in Sheffield, especially for the New Yorkers I met. The woman also had a ton of suggestions for places to see before I left and even gave me her contact info if I needed a travel companion or advice. So sweet! Being an Italian cafe, there was, of course, a grizzled, old Italian man who apparently makes and brings in lunch specials on certain days. He spoke mostly Italian but was able to educate me on the flourishing mafia in southern Italy, to which he apparently has connections. He said I'd be safe there as long as I don't own a lucrative business, but he could give me his name to drop in case I ran into problems. The owner kept winking at me but from the looks of this guy I am tempted to believe him. Either way, he's hopefully as close as I will ever be to the Italian mafia. Everyone was so friendly and insisted I come back often. I'll definitely be back Saturday afternoon to try the 'special' and meet some more colorful characters. Best lunch ever despite getting no reading done.
Now I'm trying to study and NOT think about travel plans. Planning and studying at the same time is stressing me out so I'm going to focus on one thing at a time. Besides, I'm trying to plan a relaxing vacation and stressing while planning sort of defeats the purpose. I wish someone would just whisk me away somewhere wonderful and warm...and perhaps pay for some flights as well. I'm trying to fly into Frankfurt my last week to visit friends but budget airlines don't fly directly there. That may be my big splurge, getting to Frankfurt. I still have to decide when I'm leaving Ireland and where I'm going. I may end up just touring the UK since there are tons of places I haven't been. And there are some nice beaches down south!
Well, tootles until next week most likely. Enjoy your summers!
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Lauren and I did finally have tapas night at the neighborhood Spanish cafe/bar. They have some great traditional yummies like Spanish Omelets and some different dishes as well. They also sell cupcakes so it's pretty much one of my favourite spots. (I'm going to try using British spelling from now on so I can practice for my in-class essay exam in about 2 weeks).
Like I said earlier, I finally handed in my Crossover paper today after an epic night of ferocious typing. I think I actually have a blister on my finger. After days of complete writer's block, I finally just spewed something out for my creative essay on Tuesday. I went with the first one I had already somewhat started: a day in the life and mind of a twelve-year-old with a life-changing secret. Then at about 6am on Wednesday (did I mention I haven't slept yet?), I wrote a 500 word piece of garbage explaining why I wrote the short story I did and how it fits into the class. Two hours of sleep. 10am: I marched myself over to campus, printed the sucker and dropped it off in the department office. I was feeling pretty anxious about my creative writing abilities and hadn't shown it to anyone before submission. But Mom read it this morning and only had good things to say so that's somewhat a relief. Of course she is my mother and I did specifically tell her not to be too critical since there was nothing I could do at this point. So who knows. I'll be really curious to see how it goes. Either way, I'm not sure I will be taking up creative writing any time soon.
After handing it in, I got some caffeine so I could stay awake and on a regular sleeping pattern. Sydney and I have spent most of the day in city centre, walking around and seeing some new sites. We went to the winter garden first which is a small but nice eco-dome-like indoor garden attached to an art museum. We wandered into one interactive exhibit that had drawing supplies and ended up sketching caricatures of each other.
The rest of the afternoon was spent popping in and out of shops, running errands, etc. It has gotten quite a lot colder and much, much rainier lately. Pretty much squashes our Peak District hiking plan for tomorrow. Anyway, I got a great deal on a new pair of Fat Face jeans. The only down side is that the button is opposite of what I'm used to which means I'll have to use the other half of brain when I put them on. I also bought the cutest throw pillow to add to my collection back home. I guess I have been unconciously collecting them for a while but now it's official. I love a well-designed and stitched pillow! It's like art you can throw at people.
Tomorrow, cleaning day. My room looks like I've been writing and procrastinating for two weeks. I also want to start planning Ireland and beyond! I need a warm getaway before I head home. Probably Spain or Italy. Or both.
I can't believe I'm leaving in a little over a month. I've slowing been allowing reality to creep back into my life by taking care of some things for my job back home. I have a big event to plan for September and have to start reaching out to my contacts now. It's amazing what all goes into event planning. Going back to my job will be very strange since I have a new boss I only met when I helped interview him and a handful of new, fellow peers as well. Should be interesting.
As for now, I hope to do some little day trips these next couple of weeks since I doubt I'll be studying every day like I should. Hopefully they won't be a horrible as these last two. At least I'll be done done with all my work in two weeks and can go on some adventures.
Plug tomorrow night and finally a chance to let off some steam!
See you on the dance floor.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Last Wednesday, I believe, we met up with people at this place called The Place (really creative). It's actually really nice and has cheap food--which we may be taking advantage of soon. Oh, now I remember: before The Place I went to see Bright Star at the Union cinema with a couple of friends. It was a beautiful story but very depressing. Thursday everyone went to Plug to get our dance on; I hadn't been there since Matt's birthday in Feb. so I was glad I got to go again--so much fun! Even the Broomhall boys graced us with their presence. Friday I tried to get work done while some people went to Propaganda. I think I fell asleep however so highly unsuccessful. I swear I've been horribly fatigued this weekend and slept way too much. I'm thinking part of it might be an unconscious avoidance mechanism. Saturday I watched time fly as I read my final books for school and tried to figure out what to write about for Working Class. I stopped by a neighborhood 'double denim' theme party later and chatted with some friends for a little while. Some people broke out the 'American' style flippy cup which was a hit...especially with a certain very competitive German who shall not be named. Sunday was again a work day. You'd think with all these work days I'd have gotten something accomplished. No dice. Anyway, later that night I went to Darius' birthday get-together at a student village lounge and had some good laughs. He also shared his awesome Vienna Sacher torte with us that his girlfriend had sent from Germany. Amazing!
Monday and Tuesday I went to my final lectures and seminars. It's actually really depressing! I feel like I was hardly ever in class, which compared to how many hours I'm usually on campus is true. It's going to be strange going back to a full work load and longer hours. I think I finally see the difference between U.S. students and British students. In the U.S., students are in class all day and then study and do work all night--that is when they're not at some part-time job. Here, students study during the day and party at night. I came to this realization when I met with some Sheffield students going abroad to the U.S. next year to give some insight and advice. I hope it won't be too much of a shock but they were warned. There are definite pros and cons to each style I suppose. I'm also not saying that British students don't work hard, because they do. I think they are actually more self-motivated and better at studying on their own, well some people anyway. It's certainly hard to generalize which was a problem for me as well when trying to prepare students here for their Uni in the U.S. Every university has their own culture and way of doing things. Illinois and Texas are going to be completely different experiences. Anyway, it was fun seeing how excited they all are and I couldn't help wishing I were starting another study abroad experience. I guess there's always grad school!
I had my final seminar today which ended with a film screening. The instructor brought wine for us to enjoy during class which pretty much sums up my entire English experience. Love it! Of course that has not really encouraged me to start on my assessments. I did meet with one prof today and finally have a topic. He was excited because it's very original. All that means to me is that I'm going to have trouble finding research. Yippie. I'm also still on the fence about doing a creative piece for my other class. I'm thinking of doing a young-adult Noir--inspired of course from one of my favorite movies Brick. If you haven't seen it please put it on your list. Okay, today's goal: 500 words. I better get crackin!
Hugs to all.
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Wednesday night I took a night train into Bath and arrived around 11pm after transferring trains in Bristol. I love trains and will seriously miss the accessibility they afford when I return home. Hopefully my summer of canvassing for public transit will soon be rewarded. I doubt it but hey, a girl can dream. Anyway, a five minute walk from the station brought me to Bath Backpackers, a cute little hostel that was practically vacant. I guess Bath isn't too popular with backpackers this time of year. By the time I arrived, people were either asleep or out so I just went to bed. The next morning I headed down 3 flights of stairs to the showers and discovered all the hot water had been shut off on that street due to construction. A young English man in my room informed me that I could take a shower at the local sport center for 1 pound. I, however, was not excited about traipsing across town in my pj's. I also kept flashing to the public shower scene with Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night and decided the reality may not be quite as funny as the movie. So I packed up, had the standard cornflakes and toast hostel breakfast and checked out. It was still pretty early so none of the tourist attractions were open so I lugged my backpack and duffel over to a coffee place and read some Hemingway. Compared to the American and British travelers in his novel Fiesta, my trip was very tame. I think I need to drink more wine and get into random bar fights.
Unfortunately, Thursday was the start of what was to be a constant rainy holiday. As you can see from the pictures, Bath certainly lived up to its watery history. But I walked around as much as possible and tried to absorb every inch of this enchanting city. Here are some rainy street photos:This guy reminded me of one of my favorite paintings, Paris Street; Rainy Day by Gustave Caillebotte:I decided to be the super-tourist and hit as many attractions as possible. First, of course, I did the Roman Baths and saw where the spot where Romans had communal bath-time in this area's natural hot springs. I was tempted to try the curative waters for myself in the town spa but didn't think it would be as fun by myself (down side to traveling alone). Plus, it might be a little creepy being alone with other half-naked strangers. Here's a picture of the main bath (can you see the steam coming off?):This is the original water as well and hasn't been cleaned since it was uncovered. I definitely heeded the signs and kept my hands out of the nasty bath water.
My boots got a lot of attention that day as well. At the baths, a woman working commented on how much she liked my boots before handing me my audio guide tour. Later, as I was exploring the town, a woman started running towards me and waving me down. She wanted to know where I got my boots and was momentarily disappointed when she found out I was American. Luckily, I ordered them online and was able to give her the website. I have to say, these boots have served me well and kept my feet warm and dry--best clothing purchase ever. They were a bit pricey but I've gotten great return on my investment. If you're interested here's the site: http://athleta.gap.com/browse/product.do?cid=46873&vid=1&pid=713916&scid=713916012. Although I later discovered that not even these babies can keep out really bad torrential showers.
For lunch, and to get out of the rain, I popped into a little cafe that sort of hung over the river. I had an amazing brie and cranberry pannini, read some more, and chatted with an extremely comical older couple. The rest of the afternoon I darted in and out of shops to avoid the rain and avoid buying an umbrella. I'm trying to see how long I can go without one which has been an adventure in itself. I bought some thank-you gifts for the couple I stayed with (wine and flowers) and went to the public library for a bit. Around 4 I met Geoff and Chrissie at the train station. Little did I know Geoff's wife recently tore her Achilles's tendon and is having obvious mobility issues. I felt terrible at first imposing myself on an already complicated situation but I don't think I added any more stress. I think Geoff especially loved having me around and was having quite the nostalgic journey through his travel memories. He is such an animated character and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing about his time bumming across the US and Canada in the 1960s. I swear, the man needs to write a travel log. They have a great house about 20 minutes outside the city in a little town called Midsomer-Norton and Geoff took me on a nice tour of the country side. That night, he cooked a fantastic meal and we were left in a food and wine coma for the rest of the night.
The next day, Friday, Geoff drove me into the city and left me to my own devices. I first went to the fashion museum which is housed in the famous assembly rooms where many social balls took place (including the ones in Jane Austen's novels). I loooooved the fashion museum! It made me want to go shopping. Then I checked out the Jane Austen center and learned more about her life and her time living in Bath. I met a girl from France since we were the only two in the 'introductory presentation'. Despite the small audience, the museum worker proceeded to yell out the information so that all two of us, in the front row, could hear. Slightly uncomfortable. The center was interesting but rather small. Not really worth the price unless you are dying to be in the presence of Austen artifacts. Ran through the rain to the abbey. Double bonus b/c they were exhibiting art made by homeless people in the church to raise money for a shelter. Great idea! Geoff saved me from the rain later that afternoon and brought me back to their house. We met up with Chrissie's daughter at a cafe where they were raising money for MS. We relaxed at the house a bit wit tea before dinner. I finally saw Britain's Got Talent and Simon Cowell (?) at his finest. There was one amazing act that I think it worth watching. Prepare to be wowed: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49cU7gtPIzM
Geoff also tried to teach me cockney slang which is just ridiculous but fun nonetheless. I guess it was born on the east end of London and has to do with rhyme rather than meaning. In other words, they made up phrases that rhymed with a word but have nothing to do with the word. I'm pretty sure an English acquaintance tried to explain it to me in Toronto once, but it's so much easier to understand when you haven't been drinking seven&sevens. Even without inhibitors it still really doesn't make much sense though. Take the phrase 'apples and pears'. Believe it or not, this means 'stairs' for no other reason than that pears and stairs rhyme. And to make it even more confusing, they'll just shorten the phrase to 'apples', taking out the word that might actually lend some sort of clue. Example: 'I'm going up apples.' Maybe this craziness is where the term 'cockeyed' comes from. Although, the phrase 'Let's get down to the brass tacks' is cockney slang apparently (for facts) and I've heard it used in the U.S. Interesting. After some laziness, we drove to an adorable little village called Bradford-on-Avon for dinner out. We ate at this great Thai restaurant with some of the best Thai food I've ever had. I even tried ginger ice cream! They are so generous and I can't be more thankful for everything those two did. There are few things better than the hospitality of friends and especially of people you hardly know. I had never met either of them before and Geoff had only met my stepmother once years ago. Amazing, amazing people.
Saturday morning I caught the lazy train to London. It was slow but very scenic and I got more reading done. I got into Waterloo around Noon and decided to walk to the hostel since the sun was out. It actually got really hot and I was dying when I got to the hostel 45 minutes later (Clink, near King's Cross). To my annoyance, I found out check in wasn't until 2:30pm so I had to stash my stuff in the luggage room. Once I saw the luggage room however I opted to shove my backpack in a locker so that it wasn't lost among the chaos. First, however, I sneaked into a bathroom stall, changed into lighter clothes and rearranged my bags. Then I walked toward Leicester square to meet up with Lauren & Co. before the play. After a bit of cat-and-mouse, we meandered to the theatre and meet up with the rest of the gang. Les Miserables was awesome! I'd seen it when I was younger but it made much more sense now. When we left the theatre it was down pouring. Serious rain. Biblical. The kind of rain that ignores the fact that your clothes and shoes are supposed to be waterproof. I didn't give in though and am still umbrella free! I'm really not sure why I'm so proud of this. So we took the tube toward the Globe and found a place to eat dinner after several tries. It was actually a really good Turkish place and right across from the Globe. We, of course, bought the cheap seats in the standing, open-air part and had to buy ponchos just to get through Macbeth. Totally worth it though. We were all very soggy and exhausted after and headed back to the hostel. I finally checked in and unfortunately didn't get a room with everyone else. Oh well.
It was a nice hostel but sooo humid and damp inside so nothing dried. Even my plastic poncho was still wet in the morning. The worst part was my boots soaked through and didn't dry but I had to wear them b/c it was still raining cats and dogs on Sunday morning. My bus didn't leave until 11:30 but I took the tube to Victoria right after breakfast so I could see Westminster Abbey. I ended up just seeing the outside since it wasn't open yet. I hid in Starbucks the rest of the morning and talked with an older gentleman who noticed I was reading Hemingway. I finally headed to the coach station and sat in the waiting area. I picked the wrong seat, of course, and ended up sitting next to this guy who hummed/sang to himself the whole time--and not well either. Then he kept doing little dances moves with his feet and 'accidentally' brushing me with his elbow. I'm not prone to violence but I was seriously close to taking the punk down. So please people, save the pipes for karaoke night and respect the personal space of others. Finally the dude shut up and I thankfully didn't end up next to him on the bus. I was probably overreacting but sitting in wet clothes does not put one in a good mood. I got back to Sheffield and practically ran into the station to change my shoes since it wasn't raining in Sheffield. It was cold out but I figured cold feet in flats was better than wet feet in boots--all those years of survivor shows and movies have finally paid off. A friend back home also got trench foot once from having wet shoes all day so I thought it best to avoid that nightmare.
Monday was a bank holiday which basically meant another Sunday for me and another day of doing practically nothing. It really put me back in vacation mode which is not good. Today I had regular seminars and lectures although it's the 2nd to last week of actual classes so attendance is low. My modern seminar was only me and one other girl who hadn't read the book. So it was basically me talking the whole time. Good thing I finished Hemingway and liked it. I picked up groceries on the way home so I can stop eating scraps. Although, I've gotten pretty creative at making meals out of limited supplies.
I can't believe next week is the last week of lecture! We only had 11 weeks of courses which really isn't a lot and was broken up by the 3 week break. Crazy. I really need to start figuring out what to do with the rest of my time here. Less than 2 months left before I fly home!
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
And now back to Sheffield...
The reception on Sunday was really nice. Paige came along as my crazy surrogate mother, taking pictures of everything. I got a framed certificate and got to see the singing society perform--they were amazing! Then we walked home and got soaked in the rain. Called Dad later that night which was nice.
Monday morning I did some volunteer work for the school. I don't have a visa and someone just told me I couldn't volunteer on a student visitor status so, you know, lets just keep this on the down low. I'm thinking they might be wrong but who knows. It would be like the government to make people pay for a visa so they can give their time and energy towards making the world a better place.
Oh man, I can hear someone playing Hot Cross Buns on the recorder! I'm not sure if I'm having nightmarish flashbacks to elementary school or if there's actually a child running around outside blowing on a recorder. Good times.
Anyway, Monday I also got back my Modern and Crossover papers. I was sooo nervous but did way better than expected. I rocked the Crossover essay and did okay in Modern. I can tell there are definitely different standards between 2nd year and 3rd year courses (3rd being the final year here). I did pretty well in Modern though. That night I met up with the b-boys for drinks. It was nice seeing them all together again even if I couldn't stay long. We went to Harley first which is quoted as being 'The home of the lazy posers'. Definitely had the flannel, Riverwest vibe going on. Love it. Afterward, I spent the rest of the night doing laundry in preparation for my trip.
Tuesday I spent hours scrubbing down the kitchen, well kitchens actually. Dishes, counters, floor...the stove is white again! I'm not sure how long it will last but hopefully it'll stay clean before the inspectors come back. Then I read Holes for next week since I have to return it to the library. I love that book!
Today I got back my Working Class paper. I was the most worried about that one but did great as well. Now I have to start working on my next one. I have no idea what to write about. I'm also thinking about taking a stab at creative writing for my next Crossover paper; we'll see how that goes. Modern lecture was great today as well. The topic was American Modernism and the professor was hilarious. I was really interesting looking at your country as though it's a foreign land. It made me see certain things and historical events in a new way, like the introduction of mass production for instance. I guess I never really thought about how making standard sizes like small, medium, large, etc. shifted ideas about how people were supposed to fit into clothes instead of the other way around. It actually reflects a whole change in attitude during the early 20th century. I wish the lecture had been longer!
I'm headed to the train station in about 2 hours. I'll probably call it a night after I get to my hostel in Bath so I can get up and explore tomorrow. I'm meeting the family friends I'm staying with the rest of the time around 4 and going to their place a little outside the town. They seem really nice so I can't wait to meet them! I hope the weather holds up although it is England so I'm prepared for everything.
Have a great weekend everyone! Until next week,
Sunday, April 25, 2010
Freedom, alas, is short lived. Due to my essays I let my readings fall far behind. I'm about half-way through half of the novels. I'm slowly catching up. I did go out on Friday night after turning in my paper. I finally got to check out Propaganda which is an indie/alternative club everyone seems to like. It was really fun even though I was running on 2 hours of sleep and was definitely ready for bed by the end of the night. It was also one of the loudest clubs I've been to and I swear my ears were ringing for days. I ran into some of the Broomhall boys but needless to say we didn't do much talking. We need to catch up boys!
I'm not really sure what I did last week. I think I spent most of the time trying to get my mind back in school mode. I was so out of it the week before that I ended up messing up my timetable and missing a seminar. Lectures were also a little messed up that week having 2 courses canceled. One of my teachers was stuck in Geneva because of the volcanic ash. Awesome!
Wednesday I went out with the house to Corp--a school dance night where you have to wear 'uniforms'. They go every week and I hadn't been a while so I decided to go. That place is so grimy but it was a fun night being with all of my housemates.
Thursday I think I read and spent the day planning another weekend trip. Thanks to connections and family friends, I'm staying with a family in Bath, England for 2 nights next Thursday and Friday. I actually leave Wednesday night after classes but since I'm getting in late I decided to stay in a hostel the first night. Emily also said she loved Bath so I think it will be good to have 2 full days there. May be I'll splurge and have a spa day in the natural hot springs, although it doesn't seem as fun doing it by yourself. I really hope the weather is nice. Saturday morning I'm taking a train to London to meet up with friends and heading back to Sheffield on Sunday. I predict an awesome weekend. Monday we supposedly don't have school so that will be homework day. I really wanted to visit Emily in Florence the weekend after but there seem to be no cheap flights that work on my schedule. It would be so much easier if Sheffield had an airport as well.
Friday, Paige and I walked around city centre. I wanted to go to the train station to buy advance tickets for York on Saturday since the website doesn't like my credit card. We somehow ended up getting kind of lost but got to see a new part of Sheffield. I did finally get my tickets. We also stopped at the 99pence store to pick up supplies for the house. We actually failed our house inspection because our ovens weren't clean on the inside and the floor wasn't mopped very well. It actually was mopped but someone walked on the wet floor with dirty shoes! Brilliant. Paige and I worked so hard cleaning the kitchen all for not. Although it could have been worse I guess. Our house seriously can't stay clean for more than a few hours. Oh and our shower curtains were dirty, and we have to put them in the washing machine with bleach. I swear they were like that when we moved in. So as you can probably guess I also spent the week doing a lot of cleaning for the inspection Friday morning.
Saturday, yesterday, I spent the day in York--about an hour train ride north of here. It was a beautiful day! The first day I walked around without a coat in England. My reason for going was to meet up with my cousin Lauren who was there for the day before going to Scotland. I got in before she did so ended up walking around the small center of this old, walled, Viking city. It is so cute and there are tempting little shops around every corner where I picked up a couple of things. I got some good deals though so I don't feel too guilty. Then I met Lauren at her hotel and we wandered until we found a place for afternoon tea. We actually ate at El Piano, a tapas bar that had all vegan friendly and gluten free food. Even the food was served in bio-degradable wood bowls. I had some amazing chai tea and hummas and Lauren had her first falafel. We caught up on each others travels and enjoyed the amazing smells from the kitchen. I had an open-return ticket so we decided to wander around a bit. We saw the beautiful abbey and walked on the stone wall. It was getting late so Lauren walked with me to the train station and waited until the train came which was really nice. I was about to step on when the doors closed and half the people were stuck on the platform. We didn't know what was going on but waited while they rocked the train back and forth. Very strange. They finally opened the doors and Lauren and I parted ways. The weather was still great in Sheffield and I enjoyed the 45 minute walk back home. The city was also buzzing with life as people celebrated St. George's Day. I have not idea what that is. I ran into Jon on the walk back and he was headed to our house for a pizza party. News to me. I guess Lauren and Daniela decided to make pizza dough and then everyone brought their own toppings and made personal pizzas. Paige didn't make one so they were nice enough to give me the extra dough and share toppings. Surprise, homemade pizzas certainly taste delicious! Thanks for making the dough ladies!
Today I have a scholarship reception for the American scholarship I got through Sheffield. I'm supposed to dress smart casual, whatever that means. I'll let you know how it goes. I think there are supposed to be performances so it sounds entertaining at least. Well I have a lot of work to do before my Bath/London trip so I should probably get to it.
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Besides the torture of writer's block, the weather and the virtual absence of human life in my neighborhood have been treats. All the freshies have gone home for break so it's been refreshingly silent. Without the students I've gotten a much better idea of the community and the people that live here. I've also gotten a lot of 'housekeeping' taken care of: went through emails, got info about a blog job I'm applying for, and had a Skype date with my adviser back home. Sounds like I might have to take a summer class or an online class...or both. Ick, there goes another couple thousand dollars. I also found certain secret items for my grandparents who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary next week! I won't go into details since they read this but I think they'll like what I found. I haven't sent it yet so you'll probably get it late. Sorry! I also got some delicious veggie pie at a nearby pub and caught up with some people returning from their own travels.
The weather has been awesome which has kept me away from my work as well. Yesterday was in the 60s--the first time I've felt really warm in a while. Sydney and I decided to venture out to a shopping area after strolling through the botanical gardens. There are some amazing little shops just a 10 minute walk away that I definitely want to explore more later. We found an authentic Italian ristorante/store that has fresh, and expensive, Italian goodness. Yes, Emily, I'm totally jealous of your food experiences. In the spring mood, I also bought some flowers to liven up my room. Then we laid in the park for a while and watched families out enjoying the day. There was a big wedding going on so that was quite the spectacle. I did get research done when we got back so that day was wonderfully productive. Hopefully a draft will form sometime today. At least I'm not waiting until 2 days before like usual.
Just as a side note, I am having trouble uploading photos to facebook so I apologize for the unfinished albums. My internet shuts down or freaks out every time I try. If there's a particular photo you want just give me your email address and I'll send it to you.
Here's to another week of typing!
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Wednesday, after a fairly pitiful attempt at trying to get work done in Sheffield, I boarded the Megabus to Edinburgh, Scotland. The bus had been delayed getting there because of the weather and the service bus supposed to meet us was stuck in Scotland. So I was a bit nervous about the weather after all these reports. Overall, the ride was great and I got an awesome tour of the countryside. Cozy farms with roaming sheep. Crashing waves along romantic cliffs. Gorgeous and rugged. I got into the city around 7 and managed to find my hostel amid the twisting streets and layers. It happens to be next to the castle so I used that as my landmark. After dropping my stuff I felt like dropping as well but a girl in my 6 bed dorm was going on the pub crawl so I joined her. I only planned on going to one or two but was having a great time with one of the hostel employees and a brother and sister from California so I stayed for the whole thing. We hit an Australian bar, an Irish pub, a metal bar and finally a dance club. Crazy fun first night!
Thursday morning I took a trip to the supermarket for cereal and lunch fixings. The hostel has really nice and fancy kitchens with refrigerators and cabinets to store food. Then I made it back to the hostel for the 11am walking tour with none other than our pub crawl lady. She did a great job telling us stories and making us laugh. Edinburgh certainly has a sordid past. Paige, my housemate from Sheffield, came into town that afternoon and we decided to meet up for tea at the Elephant House. It's a cute cafe where Rowling created Harry Potter. Major geek out! After catching up, we walked the Royal Mile down to the palace which is still used for some of the queen's functions. Deciding not to pay the entrance fee, we opted for climbing Arthur's seat, a cliff/summit overlooking the city. It was also beautiful weather so we wanted to take advantage of the sun. Brilliant views although the wind was a little frightening. I think I look either scared or wind-blown in all those photos. It was worth it though. Another friend from Uni, Darius, happened to be in town that day as well and staying at my hostel so I checked in with him later to see what his plans were. He was meeting up with some people and the guide from his tour of Scotland. Paige and I couldn't decide what to do but eventually just went out for some traditional food. I had haggis--a scary looking but yummy Scottish dish. Please, don't tell me what's in it. I do not want to know. Not really up for a big pub crawl, we decided to meet up with Darius and spent the evening at the Blackbull pub, or something like that. It was a great hole-in-the-wall with locals and good tunes. The tour guide bought us grenades which are aptly named I must say. Darius and I eventually headed back to the hostel and planned to meet up for coffee at 8:30 am the next morning before he left.
I woke up at 8:15. Totally unintentional. I was impressed at how fast I got ready. We met downstairs and walked to Costa which was supposed to have great views of the city but the glass was all frosted. After parting ways, I went back and cleaned up before meeting Paige at the castle. We debated about paying to see it but I wanted to do one big touristy thing so we bit the bullet. It was a pretty nice castle and surprisingly intact. In fact, some of the buildings are still used by the military. We went in some of the museums, saw a live, medieval musical performance and wandered through the POW prisons. Oh, we also saw the crown jewels and the stone of destiny. We didn't know what to do with ourselves for the rest of the day so we wandered in and out of free museums and did some shopping. Exhausted, we had tea and snacks at her hostel and relaxed for a bit. Around dinner, we went in search of food and found a cute place called The Tron that does specialty burgers among other things. It was super cheap as well. I got a chicken curry dish because I was really craving some naan. After hanging there for a while, we left to take a night walking tour. There are tons of haunted ghost tours but we did the free one. It was really funny but not scary. I think I'll invest in a really scary one that goes into the underground vaults if I go back.
After the tour we decided to find drinks and live music at an Irish pub but found intense rugby fans watching a game instead. So we wandered until we found a place with music and hung out there. Apparently we found a good place because it was crazy packed and had awesome music. A girl that was with us wanted to head back since she was leaving early so we parted ways a couple hours later. I went back hoping to pack and sleep but my card key didn't work so I went down to get it fixed. While at reception, 2 guys staying there--one being the manager--convinced me to have a drink next door with them and watch one of his lady friends dj. It was a really fun night but I was exhausted by the end and getting tired of the electro-indie mixes that all start to sound the same after a while. The manager was crazy too and pushed us all to the front. I think my ears are still ringing. It turned into a fun, interesting but completely unexpected last night.
I rolled out of bed on Saturday and somehow got packed up and checked out before 10. It was another beautiful day so I was a little sad to leave. I was planning on sleeping on the 6 hour bus ride back to Sheffield but ran into some people I met on a walking tour so chatted with one of them for most of the ride. I did get some shut eye and reading done. I made it into Sheffield around 4:30 or 5 and took the tram back to Uni. I walked from there and collapsed in my room around 6. After eating, skyping Mom and unpacking, Daniela and I caught up and decided to go out later since she's been cooped up most of the week. Matt and Pardeep were home and invited us over to watch a big boxing match. We ended up staying pretty late and by the end I'm pretty sure I was sleepwalking. Somehow I made it back home without falling asleep.
Today is Easter Sunday! I can't believe how fast time is flying. I plan on getting some work done today but I'm still so tired from traveling and such. I don't think I'm caught up on my sleep yet. Every time I try to read my essay my eyes blur and my brain feels stretched. When thinking hurts I don't usually do my best work. I may end up procrastinating again. Now that's something I'm really good at. Why do I do this to myself! Oh well. May be if the supermarket is open I'll buy some eggs to hardboil and chocolate to drown my sorrows...I mean, celebrate. Well, expect radio silence for the next week or two. I can't imagine I'll want to write anything until my essays are done.
Monday, March 29, 2010
So we jumped back on the bus and headed to Cannes. The hard thing about buses is that it's harder to tell which stops are coming up or when to push the stop button or even what town you're in. I almost didn't realize we were in Cannes because it came up so fast. Luckily tons of people were getting off so we followed. One of the hostel workers had given us a map and walking route to the main attractions so we stuck to that. First, Emily topped up on diet coke and food while I orientated us. We headed to see the avenue of stars or whatever it's called with the hand prints on the ground but made a wrong turn and started by window shopping for yachts. We were definitely in the right city. On the other side of the theater, where I think they hold the film festival, is the hand print area. We saw Gregory Peck's hand impression! There weren't as many as we hoped but they did have cardboard cut-outs we could stick our heads through and pretend to be stars. Emily got her picture with George Clooney as Brad Pitt. She looks surprisingly good as Brad. After people watching on the promenade, we caught the bus back home. Horrible bus ride. I'm usually really patient but I was going stir crazy. Almost 3 hours it took to get back and some people had to stand the whole way. It was super packed and hot. That's what 1 euro gets you I guess.
We spent the entire night packing and getting ready to leave on Sunday morning. Emily had to completely re-pack because she has so much stuff. I'm glad I wasn't moving countries! I mean...moving to another country. I'm fairly certain she couldn't move a country.
Sunday morning I decided to not be my usual overly cautious self and didn't wake up at the crack of dawn to get to the airport 3 hours early...which was my original plan. Instead, I had breakfast at the hostel and caught the first 8am shuttle with Emily who was catching a train to Italy. We sadly parted ways and I waited to catch a bus to the airport. It was definitely the day of nice, helpful middle-aged men. The first guy I encountered at the bus stop. He asked, first in French, if I was on holiday. I told him what I'd been up to in Nice and he apologized for the "bad" weather. Finally met a local on my last day. Then he gave me advice about what stop to get off at.
I made it to my gate with an hour to spare. Nice is a small airport so I didn't expect much hassle. I flew EasyJet again so no assigned seating. I ended up next to my 2nd friendly gentleman of the day and we talked the entire flight to Liverpool. Super interesting! This guy is from Wales and is a recently self-employed electrician. He does consulting work and special jobs mostly so he makes better money than most electricians I gathered. He and his partners are currently working on villas near Nice, actually right on the peninsula where we hiked the first day. I learned some very interesting and juicy things about the high rollers living up there. Well, not living. They really only stay there for a couple months at a time. Apparently, most of the wealthy people there are Russian and new money. He was telling me about the family whose house he's working on. He's friends with the accountant who pays their bills so he hears some crazy stories. Anyway, here's one...the 17 year old son went out to dinner in Cannes with some friends and spent like 30,000 euros! I asked him how it was even possible to spend that much. I guess they buy 1,000 euro bottles of Cristal and just spray them everywhere, and not just one or two. I seriously only thought people did that in music videos. My Wales companion also talked about the women and their fashion competitions. Craziness. Well, it was a very entertaining flight and he even bought me some juice since they charge you for everything on budget airlines. So nice. I wish him all the best!
They let me back into England! I didn't even have to wait in the long passport line since I was one of the only people without a EU/UK passport. Sweet. I got a map and instructions on what bus to take into Liverpool city center and the train station. It was about a 30 min ride but I saw a good deal of the city. I got to the train station around 1pm planning on stashing my big bag in a locker or something. They had a baggage check room but by the time I got there it was full. My train didn't leave until 10 to 8 so I had a lot of time to wander the city. I planned on doing that anyway but not with my freaking heavy duffel and backpack. I looked ridiculous trying to take pictures. I survived but my shoulders are killing me today.
I loved Liverpool! They have really done a lot of work to clean up the city but it still has that old port charm. There are so many amazing angles everywhere that my camera was going crazy. The contemporary architecture is super eye-catching. I think I also liked Liverpool because it's flat. Gloriously flat. I'm thinking I should transfer. It is a rather small town so I saw most of it in like 4 hours. I went to the docks, the Cavern Club (where the Beatles played), and Chinatown. I just wandered around and eventually made it to the big cathedral. It's the 2nd largest Anglican cathedral in the world I think. There was a palm Sunday mass going on so I stayed and caught the second half. I wish I could have brought back palms from Nice! They were giving out what looked like olive branches instead of palm leaves. After that, I couldn't lug my bags around anymore so I had a sub snack at subway and headed back to the station. I sat around Costa coffee for a while trying to choke down an awful latte and writing in my journal. Then I moved to the center of the station and watched the crowds of soccer fans. There must have been a game that day. Liverpool definitely has some interesting people. I've never seen so many crazy hair colors in my life. There was one particular shade of blue that I really liked. It was so cold in the station, and it took me a while to discover the heated lounge area by my track. I'm not sure why I booked such a late train. It must have been really cheap. The ride was nice but I didn't see much country side in the dark. 1.5 hours later I made it into Sheffield, got yelled at by a drunk guy because I couldn't understand his thick, boozed-up accent, and took a taxi home. Steph and Dave were home so I chatted with them for a bit then headed to my room. My own room! It is nice to come 'home' again as much as I like traveling. Plus, once I'm back in Milwaukee I'll be sharing a room again so I better enjoy it now. I got to talk to Mom on Skype last night too which was great.
This morning I woke up to Steph screaming. Apparently she forgot to set all of her clocks forward (we changed on Sunday) so she was running late. She was headed to Spain with Dave and they had to catch a train...to the airport I guess. I hope they made it. Anyway, quite the alarm clock. It was good I got up because I needed to work on my essays. Didn't really go well. I'm still on essay number one for Modern Lit. and I still haven't finished. I'm having to re-write most of it b/c it's waaaay too long. I guess I'll finish it tomorrow morning before I start my Crossover essay. I'll have a 6 hour bus ride to Edinburgh on Wednesday so that should give me time to revise. I'll also be trapped and forced to concentrate. Not looking forward to the slushy snow they're getting in Scotland but I am excited. I heard it's a beautiful city plus I'll be meeting up with Paige. Always a crazy time! I love the Scottish accent too.
Updates after Scotland! Wish me luck on my essays. Peace.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
We stopped by the grocery store on the way to the hostel. Sydney loaded up on cheap but surprisingly tolerable wine and some cheese. Later, she settled in while Emily and I made the rest of our pasta. Sounds simple yet kind of a disasterous dinner. The water took ten years to boil. I burned my finger which had an ice cast for the rest of the night. Emily spilled red wine all over herself. Awesome. Overall though we had fun chatting over wine and catching up.
We decided to go out again last night and made our way to the old town. We ended up picking kind of a random pub which turned out to have great live music and way cheaper drinks than Waynes. It was a really cool building and the stage looked like it was in a cave. We were going to pop into Waynes on the way home but they were making us pay to check our coats for like 40 minutes. So we just caught the last tram back to our expectant beds.
This morning we kind of slept in; I just made it down to breakfast in my pj's. Then we decided, after looking at the pouring rain, to go to Grasse and the perfume museums. The hour bus ride into the hills was beautiful! Grasse grows and bottles the essences used in many famous perfumes such as Channel. Walking toward the factory I could smell the wonderful perfumes from a block away. We wandered through the museum then got a guided tour of the factory. In English! It was really interesting and I have a new appreciation for perfume. It may be my second calling. It was also cool seeing where the film Perfume, one of my favorites, took place. By the way, watch that movie at your own risk...it's very strange. Emily and I were challenged to beat the German couple with us by matching scents to their pictures. We got 8 out of 8! I think she was impressed since the average is 4. I'm defintely giving some credit to my stepmother's garden which has honed my nose over the years. The tour guide was a buzz kill though when she told us that professional, trained noses can recognize thousands of scents. Well we have 8 down! After, Emily and I wandered around Grasse and found a place in the sun that finally decided to show its face. It turned about to be a wonderful day!
The bus brought us back to Nice around 6. We decided to have our one night out tonight for dinner and texted Sydney to meet us. She had been touring Nice all day by herself because she leaves for Italy tomorrow and has to see everything she can. Emily and I found a resonable place in old town where we parked ourselves and ordered wine while we waited for Sydney. It defintely seemed like a place with a lot of regulars; the waiter was pretty friendly with people...really friendly actually. We ended up having a basic but very French meal starting with the local socca--crepe like dish made with chickpeas and sprinkled with black pepper. Really filling and yummy. For dinner, a croque-monsieur which is basically a fancy and delicious ham and cheese sandwhich. It's hard to really give it credit. I also had a classic espresso shot to round out the experience.
Tonight we are just socializing in the hostel lounge, and I've been learning a lot about Iceland. Apparently there are more people in Nice than their whole country and their government is terrible. The guy from Iceland also tried to convince us that his plan to get a tattoo of the Joe boxer smiley face on his butt cheek was a good idea. Interesting people certainly come from Iceland. Tomorrow we are visiting Cannes and Antibes on our last full day in France. It's been fun and I'm really going to miss the mostly good weather. I defintely think I could move to this area one day although may be not the city. The little villages are so charming and laid back. I will enjoy having my own room again in a few days. 14 bed dorms get old after a while. I wonder what room I booked for Scotland...
Well, final day in France will be up soon. My blogs may be scant after this while I have 3 essays to write but I will do my best.
--written on Friday
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Monday, day one in Nice. Pretty good free breakfast cereal selection at the hostel. Everything has chocolate in it so we get a good morning sugar rush. Oh, and one of them tastes like Hello Panda (that's a reference for my bro...one that he'll probably never read.). There is also free coffee and tea here all day. We spent the first day hiking along some gorgeous coastline and admiring Nice from afar. We also glimpsed how the other half live as they say. Although most if the wealth lives in Monaco to avoid French taxes. Some how we made it along the coast without a map and ended the hike at a sandwhich shop in a port. Great sandwhich with huge chunks of mozzarella.
Tuesday as Em mentioned was a transit strike so we took the opportunity to stay and explore Nice. The old town is so cute and the beaches are great although rocky. I wasn't prepared for sunbathing and ended up looking like a tomato...hence my blog title. I'm slowing fading back to pale so I'll fit in in Scotland next week where it is apparently snowing!
Em and I have been saving money by utilizing the hostel kitchen and "stealing" bread from breakfast to make sandwiches. We've been living off of pb&j and pasta. We did have pizza last night. Hand made by the hostel's personal pizza chef!
Yesterday was Eze and Monaco. I would love to stay in Eze one day. It's so cute and secluded although far from beaches. See Em's description of Monaco. I'd only add that the palace and old town side of Monaco was lovely and we did not explore it fully since we were racing for the bus. I think our Texas travel buddies asked every traffic cop and even a palace guard where to catch the bus back to Nice. Finally found the unmarked bus stand. We met up with Em's program friends back at the hostel and the two guys we met the night before. We went out as a group last night to Waynes bar where they has some great live covers. The Aussie in our group started harassing the dj so he started playing backstreet boys. We didn't stay long after that.
Sydney is coming to Nice today! I was going to meet her in Marseille but by the time I got up I would have spent most of the day on the train. After not being able to get in touch with her all night, we finally facebook chated and agreed to meet here. We will probably do a day trip tomorrow and lay on the beach. Sat we are definitely taking advantage of the sun and going to Cannes and Antibes for our last day. I'm leaving bright and early for Liverpool on Sunday. This week is going so fast! Well I best go enjoy the partly cloudy day.
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Today is Thursday and our wonderful 10 day vacation is almost at an end. We're taking the day to catch up on stuff and work on homework and applications. I can't believe the real world has followed me all the way to France. Looking back we have done a lot an my legs certainly feel it...
Last Thursday night I took a train to London after trying to get as much school work done as possible. Didn't really accomplish too much unforunately. I meet Em at her place where we spent her last night in England! Kind of sad. Now she is so much further away, but I do have an excuse to visit Florence now...not that I needed one. Friday we caught the first tube ride to the airport and made it easily to Brussels by noon. I got searched twice which only seems to happen when I leave my shoes on through security. Everyone got searched very thouroughly at the gate again. I thought my security lady was telling me something was wrong but she actually loved my coat and started asking me all sorts of questions about it which lead to an extensive explaination into her upcoming trip to South America. At least it was positive attention.
Brussels was amazing and we pretty much ate our way through it in 2 days. Big thanks to the family friends we stayed with who made our time there ten times more awesome. See Em's blog for a good recap.
Sunday we repacked and headed to the airport for an evening flight. Palm trees and warm breezes greeted us in Nice around 8:30pm while we waited to take a bus into the city. The bus dropped us in what seemed like the middle of nowhere so we had a mili-second freak out. Well I did at least. Luckily a short walk around led me to a pay phone where I called the hostel shuttle who told me to wait by the pizza van. I've noticed they use pizza vans as landmarks a lot...interesting. I'm just impressed I got us to the hostel only knowing 2 words of French. Sometimes I really appreciate globalization and tourism. Sometimes.
Well I'm going to start a new post in case the Internet cuts out and lose everything I just wrote.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Saturday, March 13, 2010
This week is a bit of a blur as well since I did kind of random, spontaneous things. I'm sure I'll get the order of things mixed up. But here it goes...
Monday...Finally met our upstairs neighbors! Three girls live on the 3rd floor but they have a different entrance on the back of the house so we never see them. I decided to go up and invite them to our potluck night on Wednesday. I knocked on the door and was just going to say hi but one of the girls was so excited and pulled me in for a tea and a chat. They seem really nice so I'm glad I went up. They also gave me candy which totally gave them major points.
Tuesday I found out some of my housemates (and the people who practically live here) were going to get roast or carvery...very British. I decided I couldn't miss out on this cultural culinary experience so went along. Lauren ensured me it was "right up the road"...it was NOT right up the road. In fact it was up several roads, a large hill, through some suburban housing area and on a little shopping street. Luckily, I was super hungry when we finally got to the Crosspool restaurant/pub. We paid at the bar for a food ticket then waited in a buffet for 3 slices of meat, Yorkshire pudding (yummy), and roasted veggies. Oh and it was all slathered in gravy. After, we rolled out of the pub and I went strait to another gig my housemates were playing at Fox and Duck. It's a really cute pub right up the road from my house and apparently it serves cheap coffee during the day. Well that will be my after Easter treat since I gave up coffee for lent. Unfortunately, I've replaced it with chocolate, much to the dismay of my love handles.
Went home and didn't get any school work done (just re-read this sentence throughout blog).
Wednesday I finished classes for the week and went home to make food for potluck/family dinner. The kitchen was bustling all night as people cooked up their dishes. I made broccoli salad (got finished off!) and fried ravioli (didn't even make it to the table). A lot of people made pasta dishes so we were loaded on carbs but it was all delicious. Steph and Sydney made some great desserts as well. Didn't get any work done since I was in a food coma.
Woke up Thursday morning and quick through together my essay plan that I needed to show my professor that afternoon. He liked it but now I have a lot to write about and no idea where to start. Then I sat in the library and read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time--great book but messed with my mind a bit. I was basically in the mind of an autistic narrator the whole time--not a fun place to be although interesting.
Wait, something is not right. Now I'm thinking potluck was Thursday night. Yeah, potluck was Thursday because Corp is Wednesdays. Oh yeah. Wednesday I tried to do work then walked back to campus to meet up with some of the b-boys. I went to get Lillian's tie back but ended up with a glass of wine and new acquaintances. I met a couple of ladies who were really nice and go to my Uni. After, I walked home and dodged peer pressure to go out to Corp (a scummy but cheap club).
Friday, didn't do annnything. Watched Sister Act 2 and read a little. Then got ready to go out. Yeah, so last night was the big Leeds Erasmus/Study Abroad Invasion party at a club downtown. A bus of Leeds students came to Sheffield to party for the night and we went to mingle and dance. We almost didn't go in when we found out it was 5 pounds cover! Cellar 35 is not that good. But we decided to go in. They gave us stickers with our country's flag on it which was a fun touch. I don't think anyone ended up with their own sticker at the end of the night. Called it an "early" night and got a surprise Skype call from Aunt Mary and Mom when I got home.
This weekend is supposed to be productive but I woke up this morning to a beautiful day. So I had to go out into the sun and absorb some D (or E? can't remember). After a house chat to find out what happened to everyone last night (I won't go into the craziness), I went with some peeps to the Vintage Fair downtown. Paid a pound to get into this basement with sticky floors and a stale beer smell. There were some cute clothes but they were a bit pricey. I had fun browsing though. Not sure what tonight will bring but I doubt it'll be productive. We were going to have wine and cheese night but I think that's rescheduled. I might go see Sherlock Holmes at the union theatre.
I am sooo excited for Brussels and France! I can't believe we leave next Friday. I'm also thinking of going to Scotland for a few days when I get back. I have to get down to business and work on my papers so I'm not kicking myself the last week of break. 3 weeks is going to go fast!
Well, I hope I remembered everything. Thanks to everyone for reading and keeping up with me. Especially the grandparents...thank you for the cards! I love getting real mail. Hopefully I'll send some home soon.
Monday, March 8, 2010
I decided to do some dishes this morning which is always quite the opperation since we don't have a dishwasher. One of the plates I washed slipped through the drying rack and shattered on the floor. Then I kept dropping the dish soap so I gave up and left.
Walking to campus, a large and hissing black cat jumped off of the wall I was walking next to and runs in front of me. Lets just say i squealed like a girl. Doesn't bode well for the rest of the day. And isn't plate-crashing bad luck supposed to come after a black cat crosses your path? May be if the fates are confused I'll have good luck today. I guess time will tell...
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Saturday, March 6, 2010
Well I remember trying not to hyperventilate after my 3 classes finally assigned our first assessments (essays)--all three of which are due the first week after break. I have no idea what to expect or how to integrate textual analysis, contextual analysis and secondary critical sources into a 5 page paper, especially in Modern. I met with my seminar instructor on Thursday to go over the guidelines with him. Found out some helpful stuff. Still, should be interesting.
What else did I do this week...
...Read, read, read...
...ate 'meat' pie (actually it was the vegetarian version but still delicious!) at Nottingham House
Finished reading Saturday Night & Sunday Morning on Friday afternoon--ha!
Talked to my bro on Skype--finally! Had some good laughs.
Oh, backtracking...I got my groceries delivered on Wednesday. Best idea ever. Only down side is I'm apparently terrible at visualizing portion sizes from online descriptions. I did find Skippy peanut butter (creamy, of course) and microwave popcorn so my life is whole again.
Backtracking again. Wow, I'm playing this whole week out in reverse. Anyway, Tuesday night most of the house went to watch Dave and James's first gig at Jacosa (?) Bar. They played really awesome acoustic guitar solos and some duets and really impressed the manager. Or it could have been the massive amounts of international students that took over the place. Well the bar wasn't that big to begin with but it was still a good turnout. The b-boys even stopped by to show their support, or to chat up the internationals--either way, it was great they came. The guys play again this week and I'll probably be going. I may end up becoming an official roadie.
Friday night was Lillian's birthday (friend, not housemate) and she decided she wanted to go out for dinner. We ended up walking to this kind of sketchy part of town to find an Indian restaurant called Seven Spices. Luckily we were in a big group so I enjoyed exploring the area. Apparently there's a police officer museum here. The food was amazing and Lilly finished the night with a flaming shot of something on the house.
I woke up early today so I could finish reading my Crossover Lit book A Gathering Light. It was the perfect morning to lie (lay? I never get that right) in bed, watch the rain fall and digest a good book. Although intended for young readers, the novel is a wonderful read--both beautiful and ugly--making me laugh one minute and want to crawl out of my skin the next. Let's just say, it left me a little breathless and with a good jump on the day.
This afternoon, a few of my house ladies and I went to city centre and saw a movie. We saw Aladin--the Bollywood version set in modern day. As I told someone earlier: good, funny, strange...not sure how I feel about it. What I do know is that there's a really scary clown in it that really creeped me out--and I'm not even afraid of clowns. Paige tried to describe the ending to Sydney when we got back and it went something like this: Aladin brings the genie back to life with a million year old comet, genie captures evil genie in a mirror and Aladin gets the girl. Oh, and Aladin becomes a genie too...I think. Well he has powers anyway.
Tomorrow I may finally be going to the peak district. If the boys don't want to come I may just jump on a train and head out myself. I need some country air. Also, big researching day tomorrow and I have to figure out how I'm getting home from France.
Ok, I'm not sure what's going on outside our house right now but someone is making shooting sound effects like a 5 year old. Crazy...or mental as they say here. Well I should probably go join the insanity.
Skype ya later.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
I took the tram to the Meadowhall interchange to get Emily on Friday. I got there kind of early so I used that as an excuse to walk around the shopping mall connected to the station. It's huge! I don't even think I saw a fraction of it and it's like black Friday every day there. Insane. Anyway, Emily calls to tell me that there's been a major accident ahead so they're delayed. Luckily I brought some homework and did get something accomplished. Also lucky that I was sitting by the entrance b/c I missed Emily's phone calls so she had to track me down when she finally arrived. Since we were at a mall, Emily wanted to look for an outfit for the club that night. Three dressing rooms later she decided just to stick with what she had which worked out fine. Already a bit behind schedule, we jumped on the tram and walked back from the university stop. Most of my house decided to go to Space (a dance club night at the Uni) that night because they were having a black light party, so Emily and I changed quick for that when we got home. The Broomhall Boys decided to come to Space as well and met up at our place before. We had a lot of people at the house and had to kick everyone out by like 11. Long story. Anyway, we got to Space and it sold out before 3 of the broomhall boys could get tickets so only 1 got in. Lucky we bought them ahead of time! It was an awesome night which ended at the broomhall house where we met up with everyone again and had some tea and noodles.
Saturday I got up way too early but couldn't help it. I ran up the hill to get baked goodies for Em and I--iced fingers and sausage pastries. We then spent most of the day at home planning our trip over break. After going back and forth we've finally settled on the south of France (Nice, Cannes, etc.). We're flying into Brussels for a night or 2 and staying with a friend then heading south for the week. It won't be swim weather but it should be moderately warm. I just hope there's sun because it's sooo gray here. We still need to figure out how we're getting from Brussels to France and where we're starting. Whatever we do, Em needs to end in Florence for her new study adventure. I might go with her to Milan for a day before I fly home. I can't decide what to do with my last 2 weeks. I might go back and explore more of the UK and write papers which are due right when I get back. Blah. We got a late lunch at a pub down the road, watched some rugby and stuffed ourselves with greasy pub food. Sat. was pretty chill and we just went to Bar One at the Uni for a couple hours later that night. After, we came home and only made it through part of a movie and a cheese cake before falling asleep.
Today Em's bus left at 14:15 so we didn't have much time to see Sheffield before I had to get her to Meadowhall. But we walked through my Uni and around downtown a bit so she could get a feel for the city. I enjoyed the walk but I think I may underestimated the weight of Em's bag and her energy level. We got to the train station and took a train instead of the tram (shorter and cheaper) to Meadowhall. We waited around in the freezing cold bus terminal for like 20 minutes. I was about to put a choke hold on some kids who kept running in front of the sliding doors and letting in a blast of cold air. They're lucky I had a candy bar to distract me. After sending her off, I hoped on the train back into city centre and started worrying I got on the wrong one. I swear we were going the wrong direction, but it pulled into the right station so I guess not. I stopped at the common room on the way home to say hi to the b-boys who reserved a table to watch the big football match (Aston Villa v. Man United). Side note: The Broomhall boys are now officially the b-boys (sounds a little more street). After warming up, I walked back home and actually did some work on my scholarship essays. US was playing Canada in hockey at the Olympics so we headed to the edge to watch the game. I left early and tried to do more writing but major writer's block has set in. I thought blogging might get the juices flowing but no luck. Even this blog is feeling a bit dry. Hopefully I'll get out of my writer's funk tomorrow and finally finish those applications!
Well, I should probably do something productive so I'm going to say goodnight and finish reading Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass). It's my 3rd time through it so I can probably skim.
Sleep tight. Don't let the beg bugs bite!
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Today I finished up my last lecture for the week around noon. I can't believe my classes are done! Where did this week go!? It's been a seriously laid-back few days since most of my housemates are sick; I'm still trying to fight off the sniffles myself. One of the boys got food poisoning or something and had to go to the medical center on campus. There's nothing like hearing a sick roommate calling for a cab to the medical center first thing in the morning to get you out of bed.
Last night we went to the free movie showing near our house. Found out they were showing 300--not my favorite but I did get free popcorn. Then I tried to get some reading done but James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' is not exactly stimulating reading.
Today I've been trying to work on reading and scholarships but am feeling completely unmotivated. Joyce's chaotic writing style is a lot like my current disjointed mind which makes reading his craziness even harder. The maintenance guys have also been running up and down the stairs all afternoon trying to fix our water issue. I think after 2.5 hours they've finally figured it out! I may even have a warm shower tomorrow! Ah the little things in life. I'm trying to decide if I want to join my housemates at Corporation tonight for another white shirt/neck tie dance party. I'm definitely going to the pre-drinks since it's at our house, as usual, and apparently the boys are unveiling a strobe light they bought. Should be interesting. Hopefully no one gets light-induced seizures.
Walking back home from campus through Broomhill, I discover a new cute shop/restaurant/cafe every day. I'm definitely going to need to explore soon...may be this weekend with Emily! Too bad the weather has been so crappy lately. I can't wait until spring break...or whatever you crazy Brits call it (yes, I'm talking to you Headford Gardens...there will be no crazy Cancun trips I'm afraid).
I learned two new British words this week! Plaster (a.k.a. Band-aid) and Trav (or chav...I can't remember). I looked both up on urbandictionary.com; the def. of chav is hilarious...although not very PC. It seems like the writer of the entry may have had a personal encounter with a chain smoking 12 year old that led to this sarcastic entry. Feel free to explore.
Monday, February 22, 2010
The tube is great, usually, but they were doing a lot of engineering work this weekend so it was really annoying to get around. I also had a bit of a hiccup with my oyster card. I went to the counter to top it up and the woman says "Why did you spend so much money yesterday! What happened!" Surprised, I wasn't sure what to say and just looked confused. I guess I didn't properly swipe out of the tube at some point so it charged me a lot. Then she kept asking what stop I got off of at 4:30 the previous day...like I'm supposed to remember! I didn't even know where I was at that point. After getting sassed a bit by the underground lady, she did give me back some money which got me through until Sunday.
Despite London's expensive reputation, I did snag some sweet deals on some going out clothes and Irish food. I got some yummy Irish stew and soda bread on Sat. night for only 2.99! Not bad. Back to Friday night, we spent some girl time primping and getting pretty for going out. I wore my new dress and leggings as is popular here. After some wine and hanging out, we worked our way to Koko--a huge club with balconies, live music and crazy Irish people. Emily and I had a good time after splitting from the wasted group. See Emily's blog for more details.
Saturday we went to the British Museum...one of my favorite London spots. Definitely worth multiple visits. After dinner, we spent time getting ready again. I read some Harry Potter for class, giggling out loud quite often thanks to more wine. As a group we hit up the Argon House--a lounge/bar/club with a really good vibe and 2 live bands. One of the band guys went around collecting emails for their mailing list and I gave him some canvassing advice since he wasn't doing well. All those months of canvassing have to be put to use once in a while!
Sunday we met up for brunch with Rohan, ate way too much and learned about the epic book he's writing. Can't wait to read it! Then Emily and I ran, yes ran, to the 11:30 train, making it just in time. We seem to get into those situations too often when we're together. Ahhh Atlanta. Anyway, after an hour detour added on to the train ride, I made it into Sheffield around 3:30. Since I was already in the city centre, I called the broomhall boys to see if I could stop by on my way home. They were all home watching soccer, so I stopped by with croissants. We chatted for an hour or so and I left them working on plans for latter that night. Got home, freshened up, ate. I finally skyped Dad and talked to him for a bit. The broomhall boys stopped by later and finally got a tour of the house. They were coming over to pick me up b/c they decided to go out for food and the cinema. I'd already eaten so just had some delicious soup and bread at Table Table. At the cinema, we bought tickets for Book of Eli and then I was introduced to the candy grab bag wall! I was, literally, like a kid in a candy shop. You can fill your bag with whatever candies you want and it charges by weight. So awesome...I think US cinemas need to invest. The movie was interesting...well shot, but I'm not sure what the message is. It was a really nice, relaxing night overall and the perfect end to the weekend. I also finished reading Harry Potter...an added bonus.
The shower wasn't working again this morning so I had to wait until this afternoon after lecture. I'm trying to be productive today but we'll see how that goes. It's almost 6pm and all I've done is blog and wash the dishes. I hope this blog doesn't seem too rushed but I need to tear myself away and do some school work.