Archive for October, 2013


Thursday, October 31st, 2013

As if having class once a week is too rigorous, we also have a week off in the middle of the semester to “catch up” on all those two-question worksheets we’re assigned. I, with one of my flatmates, took the opportunity to travel to London and explore the city for a long weekend. She had been before, which proved very helpful in locating things and getting around. We took the train from Manchester to London Euston on Friday afternoon which was easy and quick. The hardest part of the weekend was finding our hostel. We got off at the wrong tube stop and wandered around for a while before asking someone for directions, getting on a bus for five minutes, asking someone else for directions, and then finding it down a dark street with no signage. The hostel itself was above a pub of which we thankfully knew the name. You could say this place had a lot of character. The two women who owned it were very nice and so were the other students staying there. And the resident dog who sat on our feet every night until we rubbed her. And the drunken irish man who told us to watch a great movie of which I cannot remember the name on the third night we were there after having a miscommunicated conversation wherein we were saying ‘Missouri’ and he ‘misery.’

That night, we went into the city to see the lights at night and eat the best waffle I’ve ever had. We walked around Westminster, the London Eye, and took in the night life of London on a Friday. It got dark really early there which made it feel much later than it was. On Saturday, we got off at the same tube stop near Big Ben and got on an open-top tour bus (the exact kind you imagine when picturing London). Even though it was raining most of the day, it was a lot of fun. We got off at Buckingham Palace, walked around the gardens there, got back on and went through Trafalgar Square where there was an NFL rally happening (?) and thousands of people filled the square. Later on, we got on a small cruise boat and went for a ride along the Thames down to the London Tower and the Tower Bridge, which everyone thinks is the London Bridge but apparently is not.

On Sunday we tackled the museums- The National History, Science, and Albert and Victoria Museums. All of which are within 400 yards of each other in South Kensington, a very nice, European-looking part of London. The Natural History Museum had all kinds of skeletons from animals I’ve never heard of and the Science museum engines and evolutions of mechanisms that I don’t understand because linguistics. The A&V was very cool and had everything from fine china of ancient royalty to original theatrical costumes from Phantom and Les Mis to busts of Henry V and Ghandi. Afterward, we walked along the cobble-stone streets and found a very cute and cozy bookstore to mull around in before heading back to the hostel.

People in London are very akin to those in NYC- fast-walking, rude, and largely oblivious. I never thought I’d say it but Manchester offers a much nicer demographic. Just city life, I suppose.



Hearts Full of Love, Laughter, and Happiness!

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Hello friends ~

Right now I am writing to share my happiness with you all!  Where does all this happiness come from, you ask?  Well, one of my favorite people in the world came to visit me in Spain this week.  My best friend Lauren is studying in Bath, England this semester, so she took a hop across the pond to Bilbao during her fall break!  It is going to be difficult for me to explain how wonderful it was to have Lauren in Spain with me, but I sure will try!

Picking Lauren up at the airport was an adventure in itself – we made quite a scene with our reunion.  We were squealing from excitement, crying, laughing, hugging, the whole nine yards.  When we finally recollected our “cool” we made our way back to Bilbao.  It was so nice to show Lauren all my favorite spots to grab a pintxo, a glass of wine, read a book, and people watch!  That night she got to meet my friends and the people I study with here at the University of Deusto.  Then the next morning while I was in class, Lauren visited the Guggenheim.  After we poked around a few shops that afternoon, we headed up the Funicular Cable Car ride to the top of a mountain in the outskirts of Bilbao.  The fall weather was absolutely perfect for an afternoon up on the mountain, so we spent some time up there soaking in the beautiful view of Bilbao and – of course – taking selfies!



At the top of the mountain in Bilbao!


La vista.


Fall in Bilbao!


Friday morning we got up early to head to San Sebastian for the day!  The little beach town was so beautiful.  All the old architecture along the ocean was perfectly picturesque!  In the old part of town we had the classic three-course Spanish lunch and – although the weather was questionable at the start of the day – the sun came out for us as we stepped outside the restaurant!  We walked the whole way along the beach to another Funicular that took us up to – what I think – was the best view I’ve seen in my time abroad in Spain so far.  No words can describe, so here is a picture:


San Sebastian, everybody!


She’s such a cutie.


Our lunch spot.


Beach walk in San Sebastian!


Open ocean + mountains = love.


The Funicular of San Sebastian.



Upon our return from San Sebastian, we grabbed pintxos for dinner at my favorite spot and headed home to settle in for a quiet night.  We snuggled in bed with junk food and watched a movie that was one we had both been wanting to see – “Casablanca.”  As cheesy as this may sound, it was absolutely the perfect last night with my best friend in Spain!  Saying goodbye the next day was hard for us both because we had such a good time together…but we’ll see each other soon and have new adventures!


Being goofy. It’s what we do.


To put it simply, Lauren is my other half.  We laugh at the same silly jokes, find pleasure in the same sweet, simple moments, and of course – always have an amazing time together.  I’ve been really needing a familiar face in Bilbao, so her timing was perfect!  Sharing my new temporary home in Spain – as well as the experiences that come with it – with Lauren was very special to me.  Having someone here who just gets me without me having to say a word was very refreshing.  It’s hard to explain how happy this time with her made me; I think Lauren put it perfectly as we were sitting peacefully in silence together on our ride up the Bilbao mountain when she turned to me and said, “Robin, right now, I am so very happy in my heart.” <3


Me and my girl.

First Post 8)

Sunday, October 27th, 2013


My name is Suzannah Richards. I am a student at UMW, and I plan on studying abroad in Milan next semester at the Universita of Cattolica. My program starts in early February and ends in late May. I plan on documenting my experience abroad through this blog.

Thanks Prof. Groom for being duh kewlest teacher ever….and for signing off on my necessary paperwork;) but mostly for being the kewlest prof ever:)…….and probably the only other person who will actually read this. lol



What do you mean one month? I just got here yesterday!

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

I can’t believe I have almost been here one month as of this week. It’s crazy how time flies. I have done so much this month and met so many people. This past weekend was our last excursion. We went to Tamarindo beach and it was amazing. The beach was located on the pacific side just like Manuel Antonio. This coming weekend we are going to Bocas Del Toro, Panama! Only Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala left and I will have visited all of the countries in Central America.

Since I have been here I have been noting some of the differences between the Costa Rican culture and the one that I am used to back home. One thing that is very well known here is something called “Tico Time.” When foreigners first arrive in Costa Rica they are quickly advised to adjust to the local “Tico Time.” First of all a “Tico” is another name for a Costa Rican local. “Tico Time” is used to refer the slow paced lifestyle of Costa Ricans. They are late for many things. I learned that this is not considered rude here, or even intentional, but it is just the way of life here. Slow Down. Enjoy life. In the U.S. we are  always in a rush we often miss the beautiful things life has to offer.

Personal space is something that is also quite different here. People have no problem lightly touching someone during a conversation or an interaction. In the U.S. personal space is something that we value and we prefer to not have people invading it, especially not strangers. It is not unusual here, however, for people to stand very close to each other during conversations. I believe this has to do with the fact that this culture is so personal, warm, and loving. It has made me realize how cold our American culture can be.

I am so excited to be here. This country is so beautiful. I walk out of the house every morning for class and the view takes my breath away! The city is surrounded by lush green mountains and the houses are so cute and colorful. Mornings here are the best. It makes waking up at 6:30 every morning a little bit easier. The real question is, am I going to want to leave here when its time to go back home?

Hello world!

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!

La Fortuna Waterfall/ Arenal Volcano Photos!

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
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Thistle do Nicely

Monday, October 14th, 2013

This weekend, I had the pleasure of traveling to Edinburgh, Scotland with the International Society. Although the trip there was long and full of sheep, the city itself was beautiful and I would go back at the first opportunity I got. It took nearly 6 hours to get there including a stop but we finally did late Saturday morning and checked into our hostel in the city. We spent the rest of the day exploring the Castle of Edinburgh which is way up high atop the city and is home to the oldest buildings and the largest cannon batteries. We also walked along the Royal Mile, a mile-long strip of cobble-stone and quaint shops framed on one end by the Palace of Her Royal Majesty in Scotland and on the other by the Castle. This was my favorite part of the city because everything along it was so Scottish and cute. Nearly every store on it sells tartans and Walkers short bread and cashmere and kilts and pipes. On Sunday, we took a coach tour of the city and saw the birthplace of many famous writers and inventors to come out of Edinburgh such as Sirs Arthur Conan Doyle and Walter Scott and Alexander Graham Bell. We also saw the grade school of J.K. Rowling’s children, which is also the building that inspired her idea for Hogwarts. It looks just like Hogwarts but it’s an elementary school.

The Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel is like the Four Seasons of youth hostels, incase you’re ever planning on visiting. I slept better than I have since I left home. On Sunday morning after we checked out, we headed out on the coach tour to see parts of the city we might not see on foot. After some unexpectedly outstanding lunch at a pub called Whiski (haha) we explored the southern side of the Royal Mile which is less touristy and more like a little old village. It’s filled with cute bookstores and boutiques and places with pun-intended names like Thistle do Nicely. There is a large road that runs parallel to the Mile called Princes Street which is the beginning of a large shopping area and the high street shops. When we were finally tired out from walking for 2 days, we relaxed in a lofted Costa up on the third floor of the shopping area and looked out at the Castle and the old skyline. Although I would return to Edinburgh in a heartbeat, I also want to see where else I can explore while in the UK. Everywhere I have been so far is very different from Manchester and from the other cities. As much character as Manchester has, it’s good to leave for a while.

Enjoying the Weekends

Sunday, October 13th, 2013

Hello all!  Well – last week was very stressful for me.  I was a little homesick, first of all.  On top of that, I had too many things to do on my “to-do” list and I had trouble finding time to eliminate them!  So needless to say, by the time last weekend rolled around, I was very ready for it.  And the weekend that I had included perfect unwinding experiences.  Let me share them with you!

First, I went with my classmates to Southern France for the day on Friday.  The little French towns we visited were along the coast, and I’m sure I’ve ever seen places so quaint and picturesque.  The sights were absolutely beautiful – that is really the only way I know how to describe it, because I do not think my words will do it justice!  So I shall share my pictures:



On this bridge in Southern France, recently married couples lock these all across the bridge..then they throw the key to the locks into the ocean! I liked this one the best!


My glass of wine in Southern France!


Little beach houses


At the coast!


The spectacular view from our vista walk.

IMG_2282 IMG_2307


On Saturday, a couple of my friends and I got away with our host families to a vacation house in the country.  It was wonderful to get away from the city and all the people and just do absolutely nothing other than read, talk, and enjoy nature for the afternoon.  We literally just sat outside and soaked up the brisk fall weather in a small valley of the Pyrenees Mountains.  Talk about relaxing!




This weekend was more of the same relaxing things.  I caught up on sleep, got ahead on my schoolwork, and spent some extra time with my host family.  Katie – basically my sister here in Bilbao – and I went to a classy party at the Guggenheim Museum on Friday night.  (Soooooo European, by the way.)  And today we watched a big rubber duck race in the river near Deusto that apparently was a big deal to the locals!  These past two weekends have been exactly what I needed just when things started to get a little crazy over here.  Now I feel rejuvenated and refreshed, which is perfect because I just booked so many trips for November!  I will be traveling to Paris, Rome, and – this just got planned out today – Morocco.  I’m so excited to explore all these places – and of course write about them here so share them with you all!  Hasta luego, lectores!


El pato en la ria!


Me and Ignacio goofing off!


View of the city at night from the Guggenheim Museum.

Feels like home…

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

A friend told me before coming here that it takes 11 days for someone to feel “at home” in a new place. Today I had that warm fuzzy  feeling that I was home while I was sitting in my room. I decided to count out how many days iv’e been here, when I came to the realization that today is day 11! Not sure if that was coincidence or not.

I feel like it was just yesterday that I was on a plane anxious, to be heading to a new place. Now, I am anxious to see what is in store for the next 10 weeks! So little time, and so much to do!


Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

This past Sunday, I went on the International Society’s day trip to Liverpool (because what better place to be a day tripper)? It’s just under an hour away from Manchester so we left early and spent all day there. I loved the city- very fun, very clean, very friendly, and very musical. We had a two-hour bus tour in the morning and then spent the entire day exploring the city. Luckily, it was sunny and warm which made the miles of walking we did more enjoyable. One the way there, I met some other international students, one from the US, and spent part of the day exploring with them. The most enjoyable part of the day was the ferris wheel. Liverpool is home to one of these apparently famous German-made ferris wheels that sits right on the water and overlooks the canal on one side and the city on the other.


We also, of course, saw everything there is to see about The Beatles. Which is a lot. We drove down Penny lane, walked by Strawberry Field, saw Sergeant Pepper’s Pub, and stood outside the famed Cavern Club. Penny lane is approximately 30 feet long, Strawberry Field is the most insignificant-looking patch of grass with a plaque next to it, and Srgt. Pepper’s is a british pub like any other but we saw them. They’ve been seen. By Albert Dock, where our bus stopped, is the Beatles Story Exhibition where you can walk underground to the museum and see every detail of the lives of these four people. Evidently being the birthplace of the most iconic band in history means that everywhere you go, their music is just playing aloud outside. There is a big carousel right on the water that plays their songs and while we stayed nearby, that’s what I thought I was hearing. Turns out no matter where you go, you can here Hey Jude.


There are of course plenty of fun things to do and see in Liverpool besides trying John Lennon’s favorite drink at the pub. I also visited the Marine Maritime Museum, which offers the chance to learn a bit about the history of Liverpool as a wartime prospect. There is also lots of old architecture to see and great restaurants to explore. My favorite was the old fashioned ice cream truck. I don’t know what kind of ice cream I got because after asking the guy three times, I still didn’t understand, but it was very good. I enjoyed strolling around the docks and seeing the water and the boats. Although Manchester is a beautiful city in some parts, the part the I’m in doesn’t offer much for scenery or nature and it was nice to get a break from it.