Archive for November, 2012

Oxford Study Trip and Cardiff Bay

Monday, November 19th, 2012

This weekend was wonderfully busy with two trips (Sunday being dedicated to writing a paper).

Friday: Children’s Literature Study Trip to Oxford

Our first stop in Oxford was Christ Church College which I had already toured during our program’s trip to Oxford so I wasn’t very interested by the sights. Still, Oxford is a lovely city and the architecture everywhere is astoundingly… Oxford. Our tour guide wasn’t the greatest and unfortunately he had quite the odor emanating from him and he was a close talker.

Then we went for a delicious lunch at The Eagle and the Child, the pub where CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein would meet to discuss their writing. One of the doors was labelled Narnia! Great pub food and a nice sit down.

Our next stop was the Kilns, or CS Lewis’s home.

Here’s me in CS Lewis’s former living room!

I didn’t think I would enjoy the Kilns very much as I really did not enjoy the Narnia series at all due to its excessively proselytizing nature. However, I was really fascinated by our tour. Lewis’s house is under the care of an American society and is used to housed grad students studying Christianity who also give the tours. It was interesting to hear his journey into faith and how that related to his work and his relationship with Tolkein.

We followed our tour of the Kilns with a visit to CS Lewis’s grave in the yard of his church which featured a Narnia themed stained glass window. An enjoyable moment at his grave was when a fellow student exclaimed in surprise, “His name was Clive Staples?

Saturday

On Saturday a bunch of the girls that I’m friends with wanted to go to Cardiff. Luckily for me, they didn’t want to see any of the sights I saw. Instead they wanted to go to the bay, something Caitlin and I ran out of time to do. So that was our first stop!

First thing we saw was their visitor center… yeah. No joke. Also an opera house… but huge!

We then took a 20 minute boat tour of the bay on a cute little boat called the Daffodil! Nice way to see the sights and our captain explained a lot about the area and the sights.

Me and a few friends in front of the statue commemorating the explorer to went to the south pole… and froze to death on his way back. Here’s us being chilly!

When we left the bay we wandered around the Christmas market where I found the perfect study abroad souvenir! There was a great couple that carves coins from all around the world into pendants. I got a Welsh pound so it has the dragon. I love it!

Things I Miss the Most About America

Friday, November 16th, 2012
  1. Flavored coffee creamer
  2. The value of the dollar/actual dollar bills (not pound coins)
  3. Driving my little green manual Honda on the CORRECT side of the road
  4. Taco Bell
  5. Being in the same time zone as all my friends
  6. Feminists United on Campus UMW!
  7. Wawa
  8. Good service at restaurants
  9. Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry
  10. American accents
But it’s just hitting me that there’s only a month left. Less than! Eek! I have plenty to look forward to though. ASE is planning a Thanksgiving dinner, tomorrow I’m going back to Cardiff to check out the bay area, and then I booked a last minute trip to Copenhagen with some friends here!

My Life is Now Complete

Friday, November 16th, 2012

HP Studio Tour

By far, my favorite, most exciting, BEST thing I did this whole trip was the Leavesden Studio Tour. Leavesden Studios is where they filmed all the Harry Potter movies. I stalked online for days trying to get a ticket, and when I did I scooped it up FOR SHO. The first time I went I was alone, but I managed to go a second time too with Peter. 

You have to take a train about an hour outside of London to get to a bus stop. And at that bus stop a bus decked out in HP picks you up and takes you to the studio. Your ticket lets you in at a certain time, but the line is always pretty long. In the waiting area they had a bunch of posters of different actors as well as a food/cafe area that had the BEST white chocolate raspberry muffin ever. Ahem, focusing.

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At the beginning of the line was the cupboard Harry lived in under the stairs! Then you were led into a room with TVs all along the walls and they played a quick video about how much HP grew all over the world, from movie premieres to midnight book releases. It was pretty cool to see all that in China and Romania and all over. The next room you went into was a movie theater. They showed a clip about 2 minutes long with Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint talking about making the movies and how they were going to share a bunch of new stuff with you on the tour. And then. They turn and walk through the great hall doors. The screen lifts. AND THERE IS THE REAL GREAT HALL DOORS. AND THEN YOU WALK THROUGH THEM INTO THE REAL  GREAT HALL. THE ONE WHERE THEY DID ALL THE FILMING. IT. IS. REAL.

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The first time, I was confused and thought it was a replica because it looked so small. But eventually it dawned on me that it was the REAL one and that movie magic made it look bigger. Which was probably the theme of the day, haha. My heart stopped for a little bit there - it was so crazy to know I was standing in the middle of a real movie set, and such an iconic one at that. There were mannequins all along the sides with costumes, and the tables had all the silverware and cutlery. On the head table there was Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, and several other prominent figures. That was the end of the guided part of the tour, the rest was self guided.

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From there you moved on to a huuuuge room filled with all sorts of different sets, costumes, props, information boards, and videos. The Gryffindor Common Room, Umbridge’s office, the Boys’ Dormatory, Dumbledore’s office, the Weasley’s Kitchen, the Potions classroom, it was all there, completely. Thousands of props and displays, hundreds of costumes and makeup/hair, huge statues from the movies, special effects reels, information on everything - the animal actors, how they filmed quidditch, how long things took to make and where they got the props from. It. Was. Fantastic. It blew my mind how extensive everything was - how many props they had and never even used, how detailed everything was. I was overwhelmed both times, and probably would never not be, ahah. 

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After spending about two hours walking around there and looking at everything I possibly could, you go to an outside area with the BIG props. Like Number 4 Privet Drive. You know, HARRY’S HOUSE. THE ACTUAL HOUSE. Also the Knight Bus, statues from the chess game in the first movie, the flying Ford Anglia, and Lily and James’ ruined house, which almost made me cry. They were also selling butterbeer outside, which I tried but wasn’t a huge fan of because I don’t really like butterscotch. 

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This outside area led into a new building. THAT building held even more stuff. The first two areas focused on animatronics, special effects, making magical animals, etc. Animals that moved, dummies of different characters that were used as bodies, all the underwater creatures - again, so much information and just STUFF. Then, you move on to probably the most surreal part of the day - I walked down Diagon Alley. The REAL Diagon Alley, the actual set, with all the store fronts. And then, there was one moment, when a kid about 10 years old walked up to Quality Quidditch Supplies, pointed at the store and said “Look! It’s the Nimbus 2000!” OH MY GOD I ALMOST DIED. IT WAS SO REAL. This kid didn’t even know he had just quoted the movie, but I was obsessed. 

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Following Diagon Alley, you walked down a hallway lined with the the initial backstory of the movies. Concept art, scaled drawings, exact miniature models of buildings, including Hogwarts. The concept art was absolutely amazing and I wish they sold it as posters - I would pay good money for a few of those. 

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The last part of the tour takes you completely by surprise. You walk around the corner, and bam. It’s Hogwarts. It’s huge, and it’s real, and it’s right in front of you. It’s. Hogwarts. The huge, to scale, perfect model they used for all the wide angle shots of the exterior of the castle. The grounds are perfect. lights shine on the inside, the little telescope is perfectly created to stick out of Dumbledore’s office. It’s magnificent and huge and I had no idea it would be part of the tour. 

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At this point I’ve been on the tour for about 5 hours. I’m exhausted, and my camera has died. But it has been the coolest day of my life. I was excited for the tour, but woefully unprepared for everything I saw. It’s amazing how much they opened up to the public and how truly amazing it was. I love watching the movies and seeing everything again that I’ve already seen in person now. It is a really cool feeling, and if I ever have the opportunity to go a third time, I’ll take is as fast as I can.

My Life is Now Complete

Friday, November 16th, 2012

HP Studio Tour

By far, my favorite, most exciting, BEST thing I did this whole trip was the Leavesden Studio Tour. Leavesden Studios is where they filmed all the Harry Potter movies. I stalked online for days trying to get a ticket, and when I did I scooped it up FOR SHO. The first time I went I was alone, but I managed to go a second time too with Peter. 

You have to take a train about an hour outside of London to get to a bus stop. And at that bus stop a bus decked out in HP picks you up and takes you to the studio. Your ticket lets you in at a certain time, but the line is always pretty long. In the waiting area they had a bunch of posters of different actors as well as a food/cafe area that had the BEST white chocolate raspberry muffin ever. Ahem, focusing.

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At the beginning of the line was the cupboard Harry lived in under the stairs! Then you were led into a room with TVs all along the walls and they played a quick video about how much HP grew all over the world, from movie premieres to midnight book releases. It was pretty cool to see all that in China and Romania and all over. The next room you went into was a movie theater. They showed a clip about 2 minutes long with Dan Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint talking about making the movies and how they were going to share a bunch of new stuff with you on the tour. And then. They turn and walk through the great hall doors. The screen lifts. AND THERE IS THE REAL GREAT HALL DOORS. AND THEN YOU WALK THROUGH THEM INTO THE REAL  GREAT HALL. THE ONE WHERE THEY DID ALL THE FILMING. IT. IS. REAL.

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The first time, I was confused and thought it was a replica because it looked so small. But eventually it dawned on me that it was the REAL one and that movie magic made it look bigger. Which was probably the theme of the day, haha. My heart stopped for a little bit there - it was so crazy to know I was standing in the middle of a real movie set, and such an iconic one at that. There were mannequins all along the sides with costumes, and the tables had all the silverware and cutlery. On the head table there was Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, and several other prominent figures. That was the end of the guided part of the tour, the rest was self guided.

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From there you moved on to a huuuuge room filled with all sorts of different sets, costumes, props, information boards, and videos. The Gryffindor Common Room, Umbridge’s office, the Boys’ Dormatory, Dumbledore’s office, the Weasley’s Kitchen, the Potions classroom, it was all there, completely. Thousands of props and displays, hundreds of costumes and makeup/hair, huge statues from the movies, special effects reels, information on everything - the animal actors, how they filmed quidditch, how long things took to make and where they got the props from. It. Was. Fantastic. It blew my mind how extensive everything was - how many props they had and never even used, how detailed everything was. I was overwhelmed both times, and probably would never not be, ahah. 

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After spending about two hours walking around there and looking at everything I possibly could, you go to an outside area with the BIG props. Like Number 4 Privet Drive. You know, HARRY’S HOUSE. THE ACTUAL HOUSE. Also the Knight Bus, statues from the chess game in the first movie, the flying Ford Anglia, and Lily and James’ ruined house, which almost made me cry. They were also selling butterbeer outside, which I tried but wasn’t a huge fan of because I don’t really like butterscotch. 

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This outside area led into a new building. THAT building held even more stuff. The first two areas focused on animatronics, special effects, making magical animals, etc. Animals that moved, dummies of different characters that were used as bodies, all the underwater creatures - again, so much information and just STUFF. Then, you move on to probably the most surreal part of the day - I walked down Diagon Alley. The REAL Diagon Alley, the actual set, with all the store fronts. And then, there was one moment, when a kid about 10 years old walked up to Quality Quidditch Supplies, pointed at the store and said “Look! It’s the Nimbus 2000!" OH MY GOD I ALMOST DIED. IT WAS SO REAL. This kid didn’t even know he had just quoted the movie, but I was obsessed. 

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Following Diagon Alley, you walked down a hallway lined with the the initial backstory of the movies. Concept art, scaled drawings, exact miniature models of buildings, including Hogwarts. The concept art was absolutely amazing and I wish they sold it as posters - I would pay good money for a few of those. 

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The last part of the tour takes you completely by surprise. You walk around the corner, and bam. It’s Hogwarts. It’s huge, and it’s real, and it’s right in front of you. It’s. Hogwarts. The huge, to scale, perfect model they used for all the wide angle shots of the exterior of the castle. The grounds are perfect. lights shine on the inside, the little telescope is perfectly created to stick out of Dumbledore’s office. It’s magnificent and huge and I had no idea it would be part of the tour. 

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At this point I’ve been on the tour for about 5 hours. I’m exhausted, and my camera has died. But it has been the coolest day of my life. I was excited for the tour, but woefully unprepared for everything I saw. It’s amazing how much they opened up to the public and how truly amazing it was. I love watching the movies and seeing everything again that I’ve already seen in person now. It is a really cool feeling, and if I ever have the opportunity to go a third time, I’ll take is as fast as I can.

I am The Batman

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Dark Knight Rises Premiere

Probably the craziest thing I got to do the whole trip was attend the Dark Knight Rises European Premiere. Considering I didn’t even know it was coming out soon (haha!) I definitely hadn’t planned on going. But, when in Rome! haha. I knew several other people who wanted to go and I thought it sounded like fun. 

I headed over to Leicester Square right after class, but Megan had been there since 11 or 12 I think. I snuck into line with them and already it was packed. There was a huge section in the middle of red carpet and a huge batman mask, and then around the outside were the grey railings you always see keeping people like me in check, haha. By 2 or 3 they weren’t letting people in anymore because it was so packed. Around that time they also started playing the trailer periodically on two big screens, which then played a list of actors/actresses expected to show up. The ‘premiere’ wasn’t supposed to start until five, but we definitely needed to get there early - obviously. 

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We stood there for hours in the rain. And I don’t mean like a drizzle, I mean like it was raining. What I learned that day is when you stand in a crowd of umbrellas, you get dripped on by your neighbors umbrella. It’s really not fun, actually. But it was definitely worth it. 

Soon after they rolled in the Batmobile (this movie’s version, anyway) and got some announcer to talk about it for a while. It was pretty neat, but I was more excited about the people that would be there soon. And soon enough, the celebrities were rolling in, ahah. Morgan Freeman was one of the first, and definitely who I was most excited about! they interviewed them all and showed it on a big screen. We were right near the entrance to the theater, so it took a while before anyone from the movie actually made it down to where we were. There were lots of other celebrities there too though, just to see the movie. We made friends with some guys standing near us who were English, and they told us about all the English stars that were there, stopping to give people autographs. Apparently England has a version of Jersey Shore called The Only Way is Essex, and a lot of people from that show were there. My FAVORITE person I saw though was Matthew Lewis - aka NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM. I was so taken aback and surprised because I never expected to see him BUT IT WAS SO AWESOME!!! He’s really tall.

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Anyway, pretty much every major person walked by us, if not stopping to give out autographs. I didn’t get any autographs - I wasn’t quite close enough and I’d rather have pictures anyway. Only for Morgan Freeman would I care about an autograph, and he didn’t stop. Most of my pictures of people aren’t that great because I just had to hold my camera high and point in the right direction with good hopes, haha. But it was still pretty freaking awesome.

I am The Batman

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Dark Knight Rises Premiere

Probably the craziest thing I got to do the whole trip was attend the Dark Knight Rises European Premiere. Considering I didn’t even know it was coming out soon (haha!) I definitely hadn’t planned on going. But, when in Rome! haha. I knew several other people who wanted to go and I thought it sounded like fun. 

I headed over to Leicester Square right after class, but Megan had been there since 11 or 12 I think. I snuck into line with them and already it was packed. There was a huge section in the middle of red carpet and a huge batman mask, and then around the outside were the grey railings you always see keeping people like me in check, haha. By 2 or 3 they weren’t letting people in anymore because it was so packed. Around that time they also started playing the trailer periodically on two big screens, which then played a list of actors/actresses expected to show up. The ‘premiere’ wasn’t supposed to start until five, but we definitely needed to get there early - obviously. 

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We stood there for hours in the rain. And I don’t mean like a drizzle, I mean like it was raining. What I learned that day is when you stand in a crowd of umbrellas, you get dripped on by your neighbors umbrella. It’s really not fun, actually. But it was definitely worth it. 

Soon after they rolled in the Batmobile (this movie’s version, anyway) and got some announcer to talk about it for a while. It was pretty neat, but I was more excited about the people that would be there soon. And soon enough, the celebrities were rolling in, ahah. Morgan Freeman was one of the first, and definitely who I was most excited about! they interviewed them all and showed it on a big screen. We were right near the entrance to the theater, so it took a while before anyone from the movie actually made it down to where we were. There were lots of other celebrities there too though, just to see the movie. We made friends with some guys standing near us who were English, and they told us about all the English stars that were there, stopping to give people autographs. Apparently England has a version of Jersey Shore called The Only Way is Essex, and a lot of people from that show were there. My FAVORITE person I saw though was Matthew Lewis - aka NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM. I was so taken aback and surprised because I never expected to see him BUT IT WAS SO AWESOME!!! He’s really tall.

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Anyway, pretty much every major person walked by us, if not stopping to give out autographs. I didn’t get any autographs - I wasn’t quite close enough and I’d rather have pictures anyway. Only for Morgan Freeman would I care about an autograph, and he didn’t stop. Most of my pictures of people aren’t that great because I just had to hold my camera high and point in the right direction with good hopes, haha. But it was still pretty freaking awesome.

York!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

York

Another early morning on a bus (after some confusion about which one was for us! haha) meant our last weekend trip - to York! It took quite a few hours to get there, so we only had time to visit Yorkminster and get a tour of the city on Saturday. But, as usual, Yorkminster was pretty amazingly gorgeous. The level of detail and precision in the stone work and stained glass was incredible - and Peter and I had fun making up stories about all the saints on the walls, ahah! The city was pretty cute and our guide had lots of information to give us about the history of the names and stuff. That night we were free to eat wherever and then explore the city. We stayed in a hostel about a 15 minute walk from their ‘downtown’ sort of area. Susie, Megan, Michele and I revisted a favorite italian chain that was delicious. The hostel also had the most comfortable comforter I have ever slept on, ahahah. 

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The next morning we went to visit Fountains Abbey, which may have been my favorite ruin I saw. The day was just gorgeous - I swear the colors in Europe are brighter than here in America. The sky was a beautiful bright blue and the grass is definitely greener (though that’s probably from an excess of rain, haha). Fountains Abbey was huge and set on a ginormous lake with walking trails beside it. Huge fields, thick trees, and the abbey itself is just amazing. I kept thinking out great a location it would be for engagement pictures, haha. It blows my mind that people actually tried to tear these down - how beautiful would they be still standing today?

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York!

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

York

Another early morning on a bus (after some confusion about which one was for us! haha) meant our last weekend trip - to York! It took quite a few hours to get there, so we only had time to visit Yorkminster and get a tour of the city on Saturday. But, as usual, Yorkminster was pretty amazingly gorgeous. The level of detail and precision in the stone work and stained glass was incredible - and Peter and I had fun making up stories about all the saints on the walls, ahah! The city was pretty cute and our guide had lots of information to give us about the history of the names and stuff. That night we were free to eat wherever and then explore the city. We stayed in a hostel about a 15 minute walk from their ‘downtown’ sort of area. Susie, Megan, Michele and I revisted a favorite italian chain that was delicious. The hostel also had the most comfortable comforter I have ever slept on, ahahah. 

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The next morning we went to visit Fountains Abbey, which may have been my favorite ruin I saw. The day was just gorgeous - I swear the colors in Europe are brighter than here in America. The sky was a beautiful bright blue and the grass is definitely greener (though that’s probably from an excess of rain, haha). Fountains Abbey was huge and set on a ginormous lake with walking trails beside it. Huge fields, thick trees, and the abbey itself is just amazing. I kept thinking out great a location it would be for engagement pictures, haha. It blows my mind that people actually tried to tear these down - how beautiful would they be still standing today?

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MANLY ATTIRE

Thursday, November 15th, 2012
It’s been getting colder. It’s still pretty warm in the teacher’s office, and relatively warm in the classrooms, but it’s cold in the hallways and outside. This morning I ran into a male student (class 2.8) leaving the second grade building. He was just wearing a button-up shirt and a sweater vest, with no jacket in sight.
“HI TEACHER” he shouted.
“Hi, aren’t you cold? Where’s your jacket?” I replied, shivering, huddled in my massively oversized jacket, contemplating putting on my gloves.
“It’s in the classroom.”
“Why?”
“BECAUSE MAN.”

Scores Don’t Matter, Except When They Do (Which is Often)

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

Fistbump Kid came up behind me, when I was looking at weird thanksgiving hand turkeys on Huffington Post (… yeah. It’s for a lesson plan, okay?) and he seemed much more subdued than normal. Normally Fistbump Kid is laughing and joking with everyone, teachers and other students, and you can hardly get the kid to settle down. Today, I didn’t even notice he was behind me.

“Hey teacher” he muttered.
“Hey FBK, what’s up?” I took a closer look. “Are you okay?”
“I’m nervous…”
“Ah, you have your test tomorrow, right?”
“Yes,” he said, barely meeting my eyes “and it’s an important test but my English score has been going down.”
“Really? I’m surprised by that. Your English is so good. I think that your English skill has really improved over this year.”
“Yes, but when I do tests I get so nervous and I can’t concentrate.”
“Well… score is important but score is not the same as your English level. Even if you do not have a good score, I know your English level is good. Another person may have a higher score, but out of all the students I think you and I have some of the best conversations.” I countered.
The bell rang, and he then smiled, thanked me, and quietly walked away.

I ran into my third grade students at Sloth’s Coffee last night, they were partying like rockstars (i.e. drinking cappuchinos) and wearing their pajamas, and playing on their smartphones. My second graders have countdowns on the chalkboard in their homerooms (358 days until the Suneung), there are more restrictions placed on them now, and they’re becoming more serious everyday.

As someone who doesn’t test well, particularly with Korean, I feel his pain. Every time I’ve taken a Korean language test I’ve scored lower than I should’ve. Part of it is that I psyche myself out, seeing all of that hangeul suddenly pop up on my page (이것을 조금 무서 보이죠? 아이구 외국어 너무 어렵네요) and part of it is that I’m more of a free-answer person anyway. As much as I want to tell FBK and the other students I work with that scores don’t  matter, unfortunately in the system that they’re currently stuck in, they do.

얘들아 – 좋은 점수를 받지 않으면, 괜찮아요. 아직 똑똑한 친절한 학생이예요. 내일 연습 시험을 열심히 해보고, 그때 걱정하지마세요. 점수는 중요해는데, 다른 기회가 또 있을 거예요. 좋은 점수를 받아는 것이 그리고 좋은 사람이 달라요.