Archive for the ‘abroad’ Category

Study Abroad Pre Departure

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Well I believe it is time for me to set up my blog and get it ready for my abroad experience. I hope you all will enjoy the several posts and follow me as I explore Spain and the surrounding European continent. Feel free to leave comments and share the blog with other whom you might think will enjoy it. My goal is to explore different cultures, meet fascinating people, master another language, and see what the world has to offer.

Study Abroad Pre Departure

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Well I believe it is time for me to set up my blog and get it ready for my abroad experience. I hope you all will enjoy the several posts and follow me as I explore Spain and the surrounding European continent. Feel free to leave comments and share the blog with other whom you might think will enjoy it. My goal is to explore different cultures, meet fascinating people, master another language, and see what the world has to offer.

I kind of like it here…

Friday, July 5th, 2013

I really do.  Okay, so Bilbao is a city but it doesn’t seem as hectic or dirty as the cities in America.  I don’t like comparing, but let’s compare a few things.  

  • First, it is so clean here; yes they smoke a lot (it’s Europe) but the streets are pretty clean.  The metro is so nice, extremely nicer than the ones in DC (haven’t been on the ones in NYC).  The downfall is that it ends Sunday to Thursday at like 10:45pm and Friday and Saturday it runs all night.
  • People stare a lot and it’s a little strange.   I mean different; it’s part of their culture, which I can get use to because they’re basically admiring me (that’s what I’m telling myself!).  
  • Bilbao is near a river (Ria de Bilbao) and a 30 minute metro ride to the ocean/Bay of Biscay!  DC isn’t really near a body of water… 
  • DC is probably twice the size of Bilbao.  It also isn’t very well know, so when tourist visit they stick out like a sour thumb!
  • Continuing off that… DC is so diverse I love that so much!  You basically get food from everywhere.  I would never be homesick. 
  • Bilbao is pretty safe.  I think the professors keep telling us to not go to this part of town that is far south but other than that it’s quite safe!  Ehh DC is safe if you know people from there and familiarize yourself with DC.  Then you will know what parts are not safe, like the SW region!
  • Everyone in DC basically knows some kind of english.  Bilbao’s main language is Spanish or wait is it Basque? Yeah either way it is not my native language.  I could learn, but Basque is a whole other language! Wahh!!

I just adore cities.  The idea of walking around to a shop and saving money (that I do not have) sounds awesome and possible.  And cute shops are everywhere! I want to live in one after college! Who wants to join me!?  (:  Anyway, school here is really cheap but the job situation here sucks.  So I would love to go to Medical school there and then move back to the US and find a job!  That’s possible right? Yeah, let’s do that!

The end of an era

Sunday, December 18th, 2011

So here it is. The obligatory reflective post where I throw out life lessons about my life abroad! I’m about to lay some knowledge on you and get real cheesy, so prepare yourself.

ASE threw us a final tea at a classy hotel. We were served tea, cakes, the infamous clotted cream and sandwiches. After tea, the program director Jonathan (affectionately dubbed JHope) showed us a slideshow of hilarious pictures to “Don’t You Forget About Me.” (The song was chosen specifically because of our Halloween costume, yeah we’re that influential.)  We all clamored for pictures with The Butterworth, the smartest little British man you’ll ever meet and someone who will be at UMW in February to talk about ASE!

Butters!

 

We met for drinks afterwards, and then it was off to Jamie’s Italian, Jamie Oliver’s restaurant! The menu was so impressive we all had a hard time deciding what to nom. We shared wine, more reminiscing, more laughs. Everytime someone would bring up leaving or travel plans, we’d eschew that and say no no, we’re spending New Years in London right? And St. Patty’s Day in Dublin? We’re not leaving. OCCUPY PRIOR PARK! START A REVOLUTION! Last night out—we went full circle by returning to PoNaNa for Squeeze the Cheese night. And saw a fight between two morons. So what an interesting send off!

 

Forgive the logo, I didn't make it lol

There was no way we were going to sleep. Despite having to leave the house around 7:50 to catch my bus to Heathrow, we stayed up all night cooking, talking and stopping the tears because it’s NOT goodbye, it’s see you later. We engulfed each other in bone-crushing hugs and promises to plan a reunion. I left just as the sun was coming up, and indulged myself in a few quiet tears as the bus went by Nelson and the Abbey. Had to get it out of my system, because an airplane/airport is not the best place to have a mental breakdown ;) I did get to grab lunch at the airport with my beloved roomie and partner in crime though! We took off just as the sun was setting. So it’s another full circle affect—I first flew into London during sunrise, I left during a sunset.

 

The flight was just over 8 hours. The only bump in the road was the family of screaming toddlers one row over—the parents seemed completely oblivious. But that’s alright, I had a window seat and the ability to watch Harry Potter and lots of Curb Your Enthusiasm. We made an obligatory Taco Bell stop on the way home, and it was everything I remembered and more…so special. It was surreal to wake up in my old room and NOT in my little room at the top of the stairs in Prior Park, feel the sheets that aren’t mine, hear my Dad’s deep rumbling voice instead of lilting feminine laughter, not have to wait in line for the bathroom. It’s insane to think that yesterday afternoon I was in England.

My semester's worth of reading

So what did I learn? What did this experience open up for me? Let me just say I now require a job that allows me either enough flexibility to travel often, or a job that consists of traveling, because there’s no way I could stay stationary behind a desk all day. I need mobility, adventurous co-workers, a spark of life in my work. After all the places I went and the people I met this semester, I can’t imagine staying in one place forever.

I learned sleep doesn’t matter so much. You can hit your second wind, and your third, and your fourth. Apparently, a collective seven hours of sleep within a 50-ish hour window is enough for me. I learned that you shouldn’t buy £1 frozen pizzas from Iceland unless you want to throw up in an airport bathroom the next day. I learned that you should never go anywhere in England without an umbrella and 3 layers of clothes—there will literally be snow one minute and bright sunshine the next. I learned:

1) Never turn down an Irish party

2)Prague is the most beautiful city in the world

3)Always pee before leaving the house

4) It’s impossible to laugh too much

5) Never bring your credit card when you go out clubbing

6) Give people chances, they may surprise you

7)Friends are just the family you choose for yourself

8) Don’t EVER settle

9) Get your ass off the couch and go do something outside, even if it’s raining

10) Buy toilet paper in bulk in a house full of tea-drinking girls

11) British men are NOT sissies, they just sound like it

12) Tea cures everything

13) Go to Europe at least once before you die

14) Dance often, it’s good for the soul

15) Turn off the stove so Sarai doesn’t die

16) When facing culinary strugs, always ask Hannah

See you later, Bath

No words could ever adequately sum up this experience for me. It was without a doubt the most incredible time in my entire life. I met so many amazing people, explored so many breath-taking places, took many chances. I shared my writing, got published in a magazine, climbed a mountain, explored ancient ruins, visited my homelands, loved worthy people. I’ll always carry a piece of Bath in my heart. When life gives you lemons, you shoot those lemons in the face and laugh at the remnants. The world is waiting, so GO GET IT!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

‘Ello England!

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011

The Hurricane was a whole bunch of hype back home but a good bit of turbulence on the way to Heathrow. And that’s right kids, I’m in merry ol England! (Hum “Rule Brittania” with me). After I landed in England I was greeted with seeing my breath in the air and oh those adorable accents. Hopped a bus to Bath and here I am! I feel like I’ve stepped into a different century here. Buildings are still here from the Roman era, Bath Abbey was built in 1499 and everywhere else is Georgian architecture. Stores are tiny and utilize basements and attics rather than a wide space, which I think makes the experience a bit more quaint. Tourists are rampant, but that’s expected with a gem like Bath.

I wouldn’t say I’ve experienced any culture shocks just yet, although here it does seem socially acceptable to be a bit ruder to strangers. I saw a bus driver yell at a woman for cutting in line, telling her “The world does not revolve around you, Madam!” I’ve also seen pedestrians yell at motorists to move over and let them by. It’s somewhat refreshing, actually. I guess I’m allowed to do it too, granted I’ll adopt a faux British accent. As with most cities, the roads are treacherous, but moreso here. A car will not stop for you, even if you make eye contact with the driver and give them the polite “Thanks” wave. Our program director told us they’ve only had three or four incidents where students are hit by cars (only, eh?) so we need to be careful. Although people at pubs are more than welcoming, and I don’t mind being teased for the Yankee accent! And I also witnessed a girl getting arrested and trying to fight the cops, and they were very polite to her during the whole ordeal. So perhaps rudeness only applies to annoying pedestrians or drivers who are ego-centric, who knows.

 

     The first week has been orientation with other students, a private tour of Bath Abbey, and diagnostic essays to give our professors (they call them tutors) an idea of our ability to crank out a good essay jetlagged. We’ve done a lot of exploring as well! Here I am at the Royal Crescent, so named for its status as a royal residence for some past important people. Now there’s a mini hotel there and the rest is residences. I definitely attempted to see Bath from an upperclass 18th century perspective and napped on the Crescent lawn. What can I say, I’m truly dedicated to reaching these historical instances, including sitting in a cafe all day with tea. Oh, and subs are served on baguettes, not sub rolls. :) The bacon is much better here too.

 

 

 

      I definitely took advantage of little things back home–like water pressure in the shower, a convenient drive to get groceries, lots of sunshine. You walk everywhere here. And while it’s not a particularly long walk, I’m sure it will have its cons when the weather drops to below freezing. I’m convinced that’s why the English are so fond of tea. It’s the perfect accessory when it’s bleak outside!

Here I am with one of my roomies in front of Bath Abbey. You can see the woman in the background singing and dancing, she was doing an opera version of “Scarborough Fair” if memory serves me correctly. As for my bucket list, nothing is accomplished yet. However, I signed up to play touch rugby (I only want to get push tackled, not actual tackled) near the end of September. So we’ll see how many injuries I’ll be able to avoid when everybody’s gunnin for the American :) It looks like Oktoberfest isn’t in the cards, because study trips and our Oxford trip coincide with the dates. I may have found a suitable alternative however–Prague! I’ve been working on the anti-Austen conversion, but so far the girls here are diehard Jane-iacs. Just give me time, I’m sure I can wrangle something out of them. We go to Stonehenge, Salisbury and Lacock tomorrow. Expect amazing stories!

 

 

Pre-Departure Mania

Monday, July 25th, 2011

Well hello followers! This will be a documentation of what promises to be the best time of my life. I’ll be spending a semester in Bath, England, a world heritage city about 2 hours west of London. For everyone that’s ever taken an 18th Century English class, you know Bath was the city the upperclass went to when they wanted to be fashionable and relax from their super-stressful lives in the natural hot springs (named Bath, get it?). I’ll be spending a week in Oxford, a week in Stratford (yes, Bill Shakespeare’s home), and of course lots of adventures in between.

So, I got my passport, my rain gear, and all the bells and                whistles. My new house is a spacious nineteenth-century house with a small patio and a garden. I’ll have  to learn to cook (oy vey), keep warm in subzero temps (goodbye Virginia heat!) and try to NOT smile like a dumb American everytime I hear one of those awesome accents.

The class schedule promises to be entertaining!

1) Ghosts and the Gothic: The Literature of Terror. Includes a trip that tracks Jack the Ripper’s rampage through East London.

2) Myths and Legends of Britain and Ireland. Celtic myths, King Arthur, fairies, giants and all the nerd-tastic stories that might induce a frenzy.

3) Saints, Sinners and Scientists. No course listing for this one, funny enough….hmmm ideas?

4) Fantasies of Youth: The Child in Twentieth-Century Children’s and Young Adult Literature. J.M. Barrie, J.K. Rowling…and sigh, yes even Stephanie Meyer (ew.)

So there you have it. I’m sure there will be times when I miss the VA heat, my crappy reality shows and good old fashioned American burgers. I’ll try to pimp Willie Faulkner as best as I can amongst the Brits. Oh, and did I mention the first week of orientation we will go see Platform 9 3/4, Stonehenge and go on a substantial hiking trip? Insert smiley face here.