Archive for June, 2010

Ayr and Newcastle

Monday, June 14th, 2010

This week I visited two of my flatmates in Ayr, Scotland and Newcastle, England. I had a great time!! Here are some photos…

Ayr

Burns' Cottage where Robert Burns was born

 

Culzean Castle

 Newcastle

Josie and I at the top of the art gallery. It had a wonderful view of Newcastle, but that day it was so rainy!

The Millenium Bridge in Newcastle tilted for the boat to go underneath! It only happens about once a day!

 

Hadrian's Wall

Alnwick Castle: Some scenes from the first two Harry Potter movies were filmed here such as the first flying lesson.

Hello world!

Monday, June 14th, 2010

My name is Emily Potosky and I received a 201o – 2011 F*lbright ETA (English Teaching Assistantship) grant to teach English in South Korea for one year!  I’m going to be at orientation at Jungwon University in Goesan, N. Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea for the first six weeks, but after that I’m not quite sure where I’ll be placed.  As nerve-wracking as that is, I’m incredibly excited to see all of  the Korean friends I made at UMW again!  I leave the United States on July 2nd, which is just under 4 days, and I’m ready for adventure!

Mundial!! (World Cup!!)

Monday, June 14th, 2010

So as you hopefully know the world cup has begun! While this is not that important or necessarily airred on TV in the states it is a BIIIIIGGGGG deal here! Even if it is not your country playing people here will watch every game they possibly can. If that means going out dancing and then not sleeping in order to watch 3 futbol games the next day so be it. Argentina had their World Cup opener on Saturday against Nigeria and they won 1-0 which led to celebration. I was walking down the street with a friend and a man on a bike was chanting the universal Argentine futbol chant- ´Vamos! Vamos! Argentina!´ and he starts singing about how we must celebreate the win and then he sees me and says ´We have to celevrate with the blond girl!´ My porteño friends just laughed and we kept walking. The next Argentina game is this Thursday against South Korea so should be fun to watch. Unfortunately, or luckily- depending, Argentina doesn´t have very much competition in its division. The test will start once they begin the second phase of play, where they will take the top 2 from each division. Not sure if it is bias or really true but the talk here is of a possible Argentina win of the World Cup. If that happens I´m going to be devastated to be at home when the championship game is played and not here with my friends and to enjoy it. Oh well, as long as I´m here I´ll enjoy it!

Radio Silence

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

It’s late I want to go to bed soon so I’ll keep this short. Now that I’m home and am going to be super busy (WPFW, clarinet lessons, LSAT prep course and homework) I won’t be updating on this blog very often if at all for the foreseeable future. This purpose of this blog has always been educational and now that the educational experience is over, it’s back to radio silence for the most part. As far as I know there aren’t any notable albums coming out this summer and I’m not going to any shows, so as far as I’m concerned there probably won’t be any updates until the fall. I hope you enjoyed reading my nonsense and until whenever I decide to next update this blog, don’t panic.

Townsville actually has some culture!

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

Marieke and I went to the Riverside pool today to do some studying and there was actually a Filipino festival going on with filipino food and music! This is the first time I’ve experienced some type of culture in Townsville and was very exciting. I had my camera but left my memory card in my computer, so no pictures :(

We didn’t stay long there because we went to study, which was kind of hard to do on a Sunday afternoon lounging at the pool and where it was too hot to sit in the sun and too cold to sit in the shade.

We did get some reading done, then went to a car wash and washed Marieke’s car which hadn’t been washed in over 2 months and after 2 loong roadtrips was filthy. Even now it could still use another rinse!

Then later I went over to hang out with my Norwegian friend and watch Disney’s Hercules. Can’t believe I’m leaving Towns in 5 days!!

So going to miss my people here! :/

Kat visits the land of the Aussies!

Sunday, June 13th, 2010

On June 1st Kat arrived to Brisbane for one of my favooriittee times ever! It was so special to have one of my best friends here in Australia! And what better place for us to visit while she was here than Cairns, the city closest to the Great Barrier Reef!!

The first 4 days that she was here were spent around Brisbane, showing her the ins and outs of this beautiful city! The first night she was here we went up to Mt. Coo-tha, which overlooks the entire city! It was so incredible to see the millions of city lights! I also was able to get her to the UQ campus to show her around and get a drink with my friends at the campus bar…I know, a bar a campus?! Only in Australia.

Thursday and Friday were spent around the city, eating lots of delicious food and shopping! Kat is one of those friends you could do absolutely nothing with and still have a great time and laugh your head off. It was so fun to just hang out and catch up on all that we had missed in the past 4 months…time flies, yet I still felt like we could have sat and talked for the entire trip and still not covered everything!

Early Saturday morning we were off to Cairns to get back into the sunshine and warm weather! Although its still only in the 60s and 70s here in Brisbane, I got a little spoiled earlier this semester and now this is COLD to me! haha! Anways, Saturday we explored the city a little, went to a few markets, and got a delicious breakfast at a cute little shop. Since there is no actual beach in Cairns we decided it would be a good idea to lay out in the grass for an hour..So from 11-12 we layed out and baked our way to lobster red! When we got back to the hotel we looked in the mirror and both started histarically laughing because in that little time we got roasted! Note to self: never underestimate the Aussie sun..NEVER. Anyways, we ended that day with somehow receiving a free two headed pineapple from some guy at a market because he didnt want it (poor little pineapple)…As you will notice from this trip, we received a lot of free things this trip..so bizarre, but so lucky!:)

Sunday was literally our Sun day. We woke up early and headed out to the GBR on a giant boat! We spent the afternoon snorkeling on different reefs and sunbathing on top of the boat..could life really get any better? We saw sooo many different kinds of coral and fish..we even saw a sting ray!! The GBR is amazing..its gigantic..and holds so many different kinds of life, it was truly remarkable. The water is crystal clear as you swim up to these huge coral mounds just covered with all sorts of fish! It really makes to step back and think about how small we really are, so how beautiful our world really is. After a long day out on the boat, we of course ended the day with some Aussie style fish and chips from a local pub in town:)

Monday we were up and at em again, taking the worldest largest skyrail up the mountains to a small town named Kuranda. Cairns is so unique in that there are mountains so close to the ocean. When you think of a beach town, most people think of a flat area, but Cairns has huge mountains right beyond the main city! How much more perfect can it get with beach annddd mountains all in the same town?! Anyways, this skyrail is 7.2 k and stretchs over the rainforest.  Once we reached Kuranda we checked out their well known markets. Kuranda is such a cute little hippie town with tons of markets everyday and little bakery, coffee shops everywhere. It was very touristy, yet still simple and not overly commercialized. On our way back to the skyrail we rememebered these delicious macademia nut brownies we saw in a little shop on our way up to the town…so being our usual selves, we stopped by to see how much they were. Now let me tell you, these were not the normal puny, little brownies you usually get in Australia, these were American size, fudgey, think brownies! Although they looked unbelieveable, once we found out that they were $4 dollars each, we sadly decided to pass and sit outside while we killed time before our skyrail back down. After about 10 minutes of sitting, the man working brought out a warmed brownie, cut in half, with whipped cream and raspberry sauce!!!  And said, “Its on me ladies, enjoy.” Ok, I know you all are probably thinking this guy was trying to hit on us or was being creepy, but in Australia, people are genuinely nice. Its insane how trustworthy and helpful people are here.. Well the brownie was incredddiblleee and tasted a little like heaven:) That night we had a splurge dinner at a restuarant on the main street. We got a nice glass of wine (we had to! we are only drinking age here!), ate great salads, and split brushetta..mm mmm mmm! After we finished, the man who had sat us, who was very friendly, handed us a business card with “x2 coffee’s from Justin” written on it..He said just come back another time and he would treat us to 2 coffees! That worked out perfectly because the next morning we were getting up extremely early for our waterfall tour and needed a coffee as a pick-me-up!

Ok, so Tuesday, once again, we were up early getting our free coffee and catching our bus for our Waterfall tour!  This day was sooo much fun and not what we expected at all! Our tourguide was hilarious and took us to all these random podunk towns outside of Cairns. He would tell us funny jokes about the town or act like it was this historical, famous town, when really it known for nothing! haha! It was actually really fun because I know otherwise we would have driven by all these cute little towns and I would have wanted to stop or check them out, but mosttt tours would only go to the most popular places…not this one!! Our guide knew a lot of aboriginal stoires too so we learned a lot about the culture and loca myths. Other than the towns we stopped at lots of beautiful waterfalls where we got to get in and swim or slide down them! At the Milla Milla falls, we actually swam underneath the gigantic waterfall, so we were sitting behind it..what an icredible view and experience that was! O the best part of the day was our first stop where we saw a beautiful river and then met our guide back at the camping grounds where he made us brekky (breakfast)! Mmmm, eggs and bacon on white bread:)

That night we went out to The Woolshed, which is a local bar where all the backpackers go. It was really fun to meet tons of people from all over the world that were traveling and doing the same trips as us!

Wednesday was the day we left so after a much needed long, lazy morning, we went to this cute little brekkyshop that was run by this little old lady. She cooked us eggs, bacon, and toast that was unnnbelievably good! So greasy and scrumpious, just how breakfast should be:) O and to add to the free-bies, Kat had ordered a long black (coffee) when we got there but her coffee machine had broken and she was so upset about it…as we were eating she came outside so excited carrying a long black for Kat!!

Thursday we went to the Steve Irwin Australia Zoo!! I have been wanting to go to that all semester and figured it was perfect timing to go while Kat was here! That way I could feel like a true Aussie, and she could play with some kangaroos and koalas before she leaves! Even though it was chilly while we were there it was still soooo fun to see all the animals and watch the wildlife show! We also got to tour the largest animal hospital in the southern hemisphere where we saw sick little koalas that were laying in little baby beds..they were the cutest thing I have ever seen! That evening after we got back, we had a cookout with the whole gang for Kat’s last night in Brissy. The boys have a grill on their deck so we grilled some burgers and ate watermelon and corn:) My friends absolutely loved Kat and she loved them! I am so blessed to have such great friends back home and such a great group of friends here! These past few months I have bonded with this group of friends and we have decided that we are beyond friends, we are now family. I wish you all could meet them, because each one of them are so unique. We have been so lucky to all want to get the same out of our experience here, with no drama, and tons and tons of memories. I was so glad Kat got to meet all of them and see how fortunate I have been on this trip. I really could not have asked for better friends, and leaving them in 2 weeks is going to be the hardest thing…What makes it easier is knowing the friends and family I have to come back to:) Miss you all so much!

A day better than expected

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

Today I had my first exam at 8.15am and I woke up at 5.30am–after going to bed around 1am– because I was feeling paranoid I would oversleep.

The test went pretty okay and I even got to write an essay on a question I was hoping would be on the exam! Afterwards I met up in the computer lab with Marieke who was working on her final draft of her bachelor thesis. Once she finished that, we decided we wanted to get some lunch then go to the beach. We ran into my friend Cecelia who also wanted to join and we even managed to get my other two roommates (though flatmate might be a better term seeing as I do NOT share a room with anyone) Karolina and Vinod to come.

The sky was a clear blue and it warm but not too hot. (Reminded me of California actually!) The stingers have all migrated, so the stinger nets were taken down and we could enjoy just swimming in the ocean wherever we wanted. The tide was really low compared to the past months and the water was colder as well so I didn’t spend that much time swimming. It was really nice just to lie on the beach and watch skydivers floating in the air before they came to a landing on the beach right next to us (I would love to skydive over the ocean and land on the beach!!)

Then we got delicious gelato from Juliette’s cafe on the strand (Ferrero Rocher ice cream is beyond amazing!) and then we drove up Castle Hill to get a view of the entire town and surrounding area. It was very pretty to go see again (I had done a hike up when my friend Kristen visited me) and because today was Saturday there were two brides having wedding pictures taken. It was funny because one of the couples we had seen on the strand earlier when they had their marriage ceremony!

Then we came home and I made a stirfry (vegan!) with rice for Karolina and me because she ALWAYS is cooking or baking for me and it was time for me to do it! Then Karolina, Marieke and I watched “Moulin Rouge” which was directed/ written by Baz Lurhman (australian) who also did the same for the movie “Australia” and “Romeo & Juliet” with Claire Danes and Leonardo Di Caprio. Moulin Rouge was even filmed in Sydney which is pretty cool and must have been nice for Nicole Kidman to be close to family and friends. (Good random movie choice seeing as I havent really seen any Oz films since I’ve been here!)

So overall, a much better day than I thought it would be!

…But there were still final exams to sit…

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

To the world’s most patient academic advisor, I promised a note on the actual academics of Ireland. You may have forgotten that I went on a STUDY Abroad, due to the absence of any mention whatsoever thus far of the school itself.  

Just to fill you in: I went to UCC, University College Cork, and basically took a selection of courses that interested me: Intro to Irish History for Visiting Student; Irish Literature, Language and Culture for Visiting Student; US Collective Memory, Intervention and the Impact of Vietnam; Contemporary Literature and Culture; American Cinema and Genre from 1895-1960; and Irish Step Dancing. Everything is graded, at least as far as Mary Washington is concerned, on a pass/fail basis. Passing is a 40%. The grading is more difficult, from what I heard from those lovely Irish roommates of mine, but I have absolutely no idea what the grades will be until the end of June. No use worrying over that, right?

The classes are all lecture, and a large majority of them are 100% exam based, meaning that you have one shot to get the grade. Most of the colleges in Ireland operate on a year long schedule, so every class is tested in the spring. Some of the students have as many as 12 exams during the exam month, which means they make much better use of the library during the April study month than I did ( If you will recall, I kind of sort of wasn’t even in the country in April…). Pretty much all of the exams, with exceptions for math and such, are essay-based. For the most part, the lecturers (they call them lecturers, not professors) will give you the general topics beforehand, and you also have the benefit of past exam titles (they call essay questions ‘exam titles), which are easily accessible online. You sort of just pick and chose what specifically you want to learn about. With the Vietnam class, I picked the Carter administration and the Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial. With the Contemporary Literature Class, I picked my two favorite novels. That freedom was certainly refreshing, but I did miss the structure of my classes back at Mary Washington.

Now what was the hardest class? Take a wild guess. Irish step dancing. I am not a gifted step dancer. I tried it, I truly did. I gave that class a shot, I stayed after for remedial dance lessons, I showed up all but one week (when I was gone on a trip), I tried, I really did. But I do not like Irish step dancing. In retrospect, I will chalk it up to ‘experience’, but I will never go back to step dancing class. I think the only reason I passed the class is because Peg, the little old lady who taught it, is too nice to fail anyone. Can you imagine, years from now, having to explain that F on my transcript? “Well, you see Mr. Future Grad School Acceptance Man, I thought I’d try step dancing…”

The London Finale

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

 

The hostel in London was just outside of the city and superb- brand new with an excellent breakfast. We had one hostel-mate: a girl from Seattle who was in the process of becoming a certified life coach and was spending a few weeks traveling around Europe. She shared our hatred of the large Spanish and French secondary school-ers who enjoyed screaming at 7 am.

            London was the only place in Europe that I had been to before, so I had a pretty good idea of the crucial spots to hit. Number 1? King’s Cross station to take pictures with the Platform 9 ¾ replica. Unfortunately, Harry Potter and friends were nowhere to be seen. We took the tube to Piccadilly Circus, the London equivalent of Time’s Square, and ate dinner in Chinatown. By then we were whooped and it was about 11 pm, so we headed back to the fantastic hostel.

Welcome to London, please Mind the Gap!

 

London Skyline

            After a delicious and nutritious breakfast, we took the tube back into the city and walked all around, hitting up London Bridge, the Tower of London, taking some double decker buses, Harrods (depressing experience), and the Natural History museum, which was pretty much the coolest museum ever, but fell at an inconvenient time as the Maura and Lindsay were rather grumpy and hungry. Nonetheless, I sincerely enjoyed the talk like a whale exhibit and the interactive-meant-for-small-children human body exhibit. Then we made a crucial decision: We decided to spring for the London Eye.

View from the London Eye

            If you’ve never heard of the London eye, it is a giant Ferris wheel- the world’s largest Ferris wheel- that takes about 30 minutes to ride and offers absolutely awesome views of the city. We waited until the last possible minute to ride it before it closed for the day so we could hit it right at dusk and it was awesome. A little bit frightening, on account of the fact that you are enclosed in these glass cage things and are up super de duper high, but worth it. And afterwards we got McFlurrys, officially completely our international tour of McDonalds. Yes!

Sky high above London

            Then it was the final day in the UK. We sort of just wandered around the city- we caught the end of the changing of the guard with about a million of our best friends, then walked through the Buckingham Palace Gardens and enjoyed the pretty flowers. Oh, and then we ate lollypops that were spun by hand in Bruges and Maura’s had the word “Julie” written into it. No lie- it was insane! But you may have had to be there, so there is a good chance that you don’t give a hoot what the inside of Maura’s lollypop said. We ate lunch on a park bench outside of Westminster Abbey and watched these 4 people with a stuffed sheep and a video camera do all sorts of different things with Big Ben in the background for a good half hour. My theory was that they were young entrepreneurs on an advertising campaign that featured the stuffed sheep. When I got up the nerve to ask, I was answered in a posh London accent “No, we are just making a silly video to put up online.” To my disappointment, I have attempted every combination of Sheep and London in the YouTube search engine and have not been able to locate this “silly video”. I’ll let you know if I ever do.

I forgot to mention that we found our dopplegangers in London. You may have noticed that we wore our blue and green raincoats for a month straight...

            Then it was time for the Grand Finale… Wicked! We had tickets to see Wicked on its final night and we beyond excited for it. Not to undermine everything else in the city, but Wicked was my favorite part. It was such a cool show! Really, it had such neat-o sets and I loved the music! Yes indeedy, it was a swell show.

            That was it for London. The next day we spent getting up late and packing our backpacks to the max, discarding many a travel worn article of clothing in addition to my giant jar of peanut butter. We had a 5 pm flight back to Ireland, and it took us most of the day to just get to the airport. We made it on to our Ryan Air (budget airline) flight wearing at least 3 shirts a piece and carrying a good bit of stuff shoved in our jackets, but the bags were underweight even if Maura and I had gained 10 lbs a piece overnight, and that’s all that matters.

            We boarded the plane and had a serious reflective conversation about what we had just done. It had been a month. I have yet to meet a person who has not enjoyed travelling or studying abroad, but truly there are no words to describe how lucky I feel to have had that experience. It was incredible. Absolutely incredible.

Tulips, Bikes and Breweries in Bruges!

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Tulips greating me in Bruges!

Things couldn’t have worked out better for Bruges – we arrived in peak tulip season, when that area of the country and neighboring Holland have gorgeous tulips in bloom everywhere and there was a carnival that was visiting. Like I said- perfect timing. We stayed at this hotel that had a toilet (literally a water closet) upstairs and a shower closet downstairs and the bedroom we were staying in on the middle floor. Unique setup indeed. We went to the carnival haunted house, where we rode with the Haunted House owner’s daughter, who chatted away to us in French. Then we walked around the city for a while. It was all cobblestone streets and Dutch gables and I wanted to take pictures of everything! Biking is really popular in Bruges- it seemed like everyone was biking somewhere. We had this really helpful backpacker’s guide to Bruges and decided to hit up the suggestions it listed for renting bikes the following day.

Pretty little Bruges

            We got up early in search of a cappuccino, which proved somewhat difficult to find, especially since nothing really opened until about 9 or 10. However, on a magical stroke of luck, Maura and I stumbled upon a consumer dream: A Belgian Target/Ikea. Glorious! And it had a café- a cheap café inside. Excellent indeed. We spent a while wandering around in there and made plans for a return trip the following day. Then it was off to rent bikes. Looking at the different routes we could take, I got it in my head that we should bike ride to Holland. It was about 20 kilometers to Sulis, a little town just on the other side of the border between the Netherlands and Belgium. Map in hand, we hoped on the bike path that hugged the canal and rode our rented bikes to Holland. After a brief stop for lunch, which included an order of Belgian fries, (I should mention that I was most fond of the food culture in Belgium. However, I do not ever seeing living in Belgium as a viable option- I think I would grow rather large), we biked on back to tour a Belgian brewery!

Bike riding to Holland...

...where there are lots of windmills!

            The brewery was the only one remaining of the 53 that Bruges had originally housed and was very informative- Maura and I enjoyed our free beers and decided to bring some home for our loving fathers. Some more souvenir and window shopping followed the brewery tour, with a special stop at a chocolatier recommended by, you guessed it- Rick Steves!  Then we headed to an internet café to figure out our travel plans to London.

            Travel plans to London… ah, it seemed so simple. Guess what it wasn’t. Maura and I looked up all possibilities to get cheaply from Europe to the UK, but could find none. We considered going home a few days early, but getting to Ireland was not a plausible option either. Maura and I engineered a plan. We went to the train station to make reservations on the Eurostar- the train from Brussels to London, tickets on which ran about 210 euro a pop. I told the ticket man that I had a Eurorail pass and may have lied and said that it was a global pass (which it wasn’t), the only kind of pass that could take us to London. Maura and I planned to ‘sleep’ the whole train ride with the passes and reservations carefully laid out in front of us. If a conductor were to pass, hopefully he or she wouldn’t inspect them too closely.

            Nonetheless, we were little bundles of nerves- I had these awful visions of us being thrown in Eurorail jail and never making it back to Ireland, let alone America. We must have had the God of Vagabond Travelers looking out for us though because Maura and I made it through ticket check, border control and security before boarding the train without even a weary glance cast in our direction. Operation fake sleep went into effect immediately (I donned sunglasses to enhance the appearance, despite the fact that 75% of the train ride was through a tunnel that ran under the English Channel). I may have increased my worry lines, taking years off of my face that I will never get back, but I made it to London, slightly illegitimately, without spending 210 more Euro. Life was good.

How we planned on getting to London...