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I want to LIVE there!

Here is the last blog post for this trip. OBVIOUSLY, I’m home now, and back into the swing of my last fall semester. I haven’t noticed any transition issues that normally happen after returning back to campus from studying abroad (one of the pros of doing a summer semester). However, I was extremely startled by the climate change and my body was definitely not ready for the humidity and bugs. I now have a great appreciation for British weather (despite the slippery sidewalks when it rains) and have more punch in my complaints about Virginia weather. It sucks.  Also, I was jet-lagged which made me sleep through a Harry Potter movie on my first night back (GASP!). Other than that, things have been cool. It’s been hard to relate my experience and tell all my tales about Bath when people ask me “So how was it? What did you do?” But really, the hardest question to answer is “What was your favorite part?”

I loved the food.

I loved that I could wear a scarf almost every day.

I loved surviving the torrential downpour at Tintagel.

I fell in love with Cornwall.

I loved the social life.

I loved the accents.

I don’t really know what my favorite part was, except for the fact that I was blessed enough to be part of the trip. I’ve made so many lovely memories and I’ve made many friends. I consider myself an honorary Brit now, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. It sounds super cheesy. Yeesh. But I’ve left my mark (quite literally, I’ve left some skin and blood from my many falls) and Bath has made its mark on me.

As for the list that I made in my previous post, I was able to accomplish all but the last two things. Not only that but I found the guts to read 2 of my poems aloud and cross-dressed as Algernon Moncrieff at an open mic night for the program.

Still waiting for the healing waters to work their magic!!!!

Who can I petition to bring Walker’s Cheese and Onion chips to the States? That’s my next project.

I’m at that familiar place, where I have so much to do, in so little time. I’m making lists, making mental schedules, and it feels like I’m back at school. Instead, I’m in this beautiful city, a city that’s tempting me to sit outside, eat ice cream, spend all my money on European clothes and walk down every street.  And yet, I still have a paper left to finish, so I can’t have any distractions. Here are the things that I would like to do before Saturday:

1. Go inside the Bath Abbey

2. Go inside the Roman Baths

3. Go to the SPA!!!

4. Go inside the Sally Lunn’s Kitchen Museum

5. Take pictures of Flat Stanley like I promised my mother…oops!

6. Go into the park where it cost one pound to get in (ONE POUND?! Seriously?)

This week has flown by. Our Austen class went on a trip to Prior Park, a beautiful landscape garden owned by the National Trust. There were so many birds and beautiful buildings and scenery. Friday, we went on a day trip to Oxford. It was the typical tour of Oxford, looking at all the amazing architecture and the colleges. We went to lunch at the Eagle & the Child, a pub where J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S. Lewis used to hang out. I had my first taste of Elderflower Cordial, which was yummy and made me think of the Redwall series. It was fun! Then we had some time to do some shopping and I bought a tshirt that says Oxford/Magdalen College (where Oscar Wilde studied!) for fairly cheap. Then we had a try at punting. Or rather, four of us sat in a shallow boat while Tricia steered the boat with a really long metal pole (I helped a little with a mini paddle). It was fun and Tricia was great at it. I also ended up buying a men’s boater hat because it was too cute to pass up. After that we went back to Bath. A bunch of us got dressed up, went to dinner at a cool place called The Beau Nash (named after the famous Master of Ceremonies who tried to reform Bath citizens) and we had a yummy dinner (I’m obsessed with the British combination of bacon and chicken and cheese). I discovered how good cheese and peas taste! I also had my first Sex on the Beach drink. I liked it a lot. Afterwards we checked out another bar. Then we went back to my house and hung out, then went back out to a dance club that’s right across the street. We had a lot of fun. It was Squeeze the Cheese night which meant that they were playing pop tunes from the 70s, 80s, and the 90s. We were dancing a lot, it was a great night for throwbacks! I also mustered enough confidence to do karaoke, so I dragged Tricia into singing to “All the Small Things” by Blink-182. It was a thrill, and it’s the first time I’ve ever done karaoke, and I loved it.

The next day Tricia and I went to an indoor market where I was able to get some good shopping done for family presents.  Afterwards I worked on my paper and watched some movies and TV. Today I woke up early and went with a few UMW students with Dr. Scanlon to tea at the Jane Austen Centre. We looked through the exhibits, went to the gift shops and had tea. The tea was so good and filling! I had two scones with 4 kinds of spread (butter, jam, clotted cream and lemon curd) as well as elderflower cordial (what can I say, I’m addicted!) and Jane Austen blend loose leaf tea. Afterwards I was on food coma high so I did some more shopping! The rest of the day has spent finishing a paper and procrastinating!

I’ll be home so soon. SO bittersweet!

Two Weeks Left!

I’m sitting here watching LOTR (the second one) and it’s definitely hard not to feel at home.  It seems insane that I’ve only been in Bath for 3 weeks. This semester has gone by so fast, and yet, there’s so much I still want to do! I’ve got my Bath bucket list of all the places and pubs that I want to go to before I leave.

This week was fun. Besides taking my first tumble on the Bath sidewalk in the rain wearing flip flops (Old Navy brand is not slip-resistant, fyi), I got to experience my first Bath bun.  After several days of attempting to buy some buns for takeaway, I slipped outside in the morning to buy a couple buns for breakfast. I was successful this time, and didn’t mind the journey in the rain to get them. They are so delicious, with currants and sugar on top and in the center, a sugar cube is baked in; a heavenly treat.  Another delicious experience was a dinner at a pub called The Hunstman; some of the UMW students went after class. I had a tasty traditional English dinner of sausage and mash (potatoes) and the local drink, the Snakebite (cider, black currant, and Foster’s). It was all yummy. Once again, proving that English food can be good. For once, I didn’t feel like a tourist too much.

On Thursday, our Jane Austen class went to the city of Bristol, for a few hours. We took the train, which was only 20 minutes long because it’s the next city over from Bath. Our tutor, Dr. Fallon walked us around the city and related it to our course by explaining that Bristol in Austen’s time was where all the merchants and tradesmen lived because of its proximity to water. Friday, our Oscar Wilde class and Dr. Foss and an ASE staff Emma went on our study trip to London. We first stopped at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where we explored the free art exhibits and then went to view The Cult of Beauty exhibit, which was all about aestheticism. There Oscar Wilde and his buddy Whistler, as well as Rossetti, were mentioned and there were beautiful exhibits of paintings, portraits, furniture, clothes, and texts. Then Foss led us on a walking tour of Chelsea to show us houses of famous people (we pretty much went searching for plaques) like Wilde, Rossetti, Eliot, and even Dickens! Afterwards, we went on the Tube and went to our hostel in Canada Water. It was such a pretty town, surrounded by a canal and lots of ducks (some kinds I’d never seen before!). At the hostel we got changed and dressed up in our fancy clothes for the theatre. We went back on the Tube and walked to the Haymarket Theatre where we saw the production of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. It was an amazing play; the theatre was connected to Oscar Wilde because some of his eyes had been put on there.

Yesterday we went exploring around Westminster to see the Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace! We only had time to take pictures because of our packed schedule for the day. Our next stop was to go on a walking tour related to Oscar Wilde led by a man named Allan who dressed up as Wilde, wearing a white suit and a green carnation. He told us a lot about Wilde’s life and showed us the hotels he stayed at, the theatres where his plays were put on, the places where he bought his cigars and green carnations, etc.  Since we had been walking a lot since Thursday, we were all tired and ate our packed lunches outside the Natural History Museum. We had some time to look around inside, but not enough time to fully explore. I’d love to go back there some day and look into each exhibit. In general I would love to have more time in London to see everything! Around 3 we got back on our bus and headed back to Bath.  After arriving back at our house, we bought groceries, and all met up at my house to watch the extended version of The Fellowship of the Rings (hence why I’m watching the Two Towers today).

Today turned out to be beautiful. It’s weird to think of 80 degrees as hot! No rain predicted for today, so a bunch of friends and I went and got sandwiches and snacks, and headed to the park surrounding the Royal Crescent. It was a perfect day for the park (and everyone else thought the same thing) and we sunbathed, did some reading, and watched all the locals playing games. It was nice to be out of sweatshirts and waterproofs! Afterwards we had some ice cream. The great thing about living in a touristy area is that there’s a lot of ice cream shops!

Time to do some actual work,

Cheers!

It’s crazy to imagine that week two is over! The first week seemed to drag, but now as I’m approaching week three, I don’t really want it to end. I love all my classes, and I’ve made some really good friends here. I still have so many things to do before the semester is over.

I’ve never taken a summer school class at UMW, so I had no idea how crammed all the lessons are; it’s slightly overwhelming that my classes are everyday. I’m so set on having class every other day, so I have to do a bit of speed reading each night.

I’M STILL MAKING A TO-DO LIST! Having laundry last 3 hours instead of the regular hour and a half is somewhat annoying when you only have about 9ish outfits, but I’m getting used to everything. Just like regular school I still manage to catch up on (most) of my TV shows. I try not stay in my room all the time.

However this weekend is an exception. This weekend is considered a free weekend, since no official ASE trips were scheduled. A bunch of people in our program are currently in Dublin; the rest of us are hanging out in Bath. This weekend feels weird since we have Friday-Sunday with no classes. It feels like this should be Sunday but thank god it’s only Saturday (I have to keep reminding myself)!

The workload was a little crazy this week. We had presentations and a paper due this week.  But it wasn’t hard assignments, just a bit of good ole procrastination that made it crazy. On the positive side we got to have some fun on the side. Wednesday our J. Austen class went to the Fashion Museum in Bath. It showed all the regency style dresses, shoes, hats, corsets, and skirts. I even had an opportunity to try on a corset! I felt a little silly, not gonna lie. They also showed fashion from all the decades, ranging from 1800 to 2010. It was a cool trip. Also, on Wednesday we went to a cricket match. However, the rain was on-and-off so we alternated from sitting outside to inside a couple of times. The rules were still not very clear to me (even after an overview was given) but it’s similar to baseball. I decided to have a half (pint) of cider to amuse me instead.

On Thursday a bunch of us went on a walking tour with a kind man in ASE called Andrew, who showed us different spots in Bath, that weren’t the common tourist attractions. Some of the sights included a part of the old medieval wall and an original medieval gate. In the evening, all of UMW students got together and we had a really nice time watching (about half) the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, which is currently the novel we are discussing in our Austen class.  Last night some of us got together to watch American Beauty.

Today is laundry and homework today. Here’s to getting things done!

cheers! xxxx

Entering Week Two

So much has happened since my last blog post! I’m sorry for being so behind!

My first week of classes was a whirlwind! My Jane Austen class, taught by a wonderful Oxford professor, is probably my favorite so far. It’s also a very nice location because it’s located in my house, so all I have to do is trudge downstairs casually without bringing a bag with me. The classroom makes the class feel very intimate. It mostly consists of girls, with the exception of 3 guys. Luckily there are about 4 UMW students in this class (there’s two sections) so it’s not terribly awkward. So far we have discussed the biography of Jane Austen, gone on a walking tour around Bath to places where Jane Austen stayed and places in Bath that are mentioned in her novels, and discussed Northanger Abbey. The only downside of this class is that the protocol for getting into our house for class has not been truly organized so I’ve had the misfortune of opening the door for the earlier class to let them in, while wearing my pajamas. Dr. Fallon, was running up the stairs to let them in and saw me in my polka-dotted pajama pants. Awkward.

The Oscar Wilde class, taught by Dr. Foss, is a nice class too. It’s truly intimate because it’s just UMW students and by now we are used to each other. This week we’ve had an introduction to Wilde’s biography, his poems, and some of his lectures. The class is located in Nelson’s Cabin, which is in the Nelson House right across the street from where I live, so it’s a quick walk to class. Luckily I have an hour and a half break between my two classes to grab lunch and watch some TV. During class, it’s personal enough that we can get easily distracted between making fun of Tricia and Foss’ nautical jokes in reference to the strange noises we hear in our class.

Wednesday we had no class because we took a day trip to Stonehenge and Glastonbury. This was an amazing trip, even with the rain that was scattered throughout the day. Stonehenge was a classic sight and our group took many photos. We next went to Glastonbury and went to the Abbey to see the ruins. It was again, really pretty! We had lunch at a restaurant that specialized in fish and chips. The group all had some, and it was soooo good, and so filling. The next adventure was to Glastonbury Tor, which consisted of a steep hike up a big hill, with a beautiful view of Glastonbury, to the top of the hill where there was a huge tower. It was a breathtaking experience; I felt like I could write a poem about it.

Our next big excursion was our weekend trip to Cornwall. On Friday we went on a bus to Tintagel, the legendary birthplace of King Arthur. I had a major geeky moment explaining to a friend about the movie “The Mists of Avalon” which tells the story of King Arthur, etc. Tintagel and the castle ruins were beautiful, as well as the amazing cliffs, caves, and coastline. The only problem was the awful rain. This wasn’t the standard English rain which starts and ends in 5 minutes. It continued throughout the entire visit. Everyone was soaked while they were trying to eat their packed lunch while also trying to take pictures and hike up the slippery staircases. The steps reminded me of the stairs that Frodo and Sam climbed up, led by Gollum, to the inside of Mordor. By the time we were leaving Tintagel, it stopped raining. Typical.

After Tintagel we went to the coastal town of Coverack, where we were staying for the weekend. Most people stayed in a very nice youth hostel. The town was tiny and intimate. For dinner the whole group went to dinner at a pub (which we barely fit into) and had traditional Cornish pasties and I had cider and finished someone’s Guinness. YUM. Saturday we left Coverack and went to the peninsula and the most southern point of England called The Lizard. We had a very nice tour guide, who knew all about the area, including the geology and seemed to be a naturalist. He led the hike around the peninsula, stopping every now and then to tell us about the birds, flowers, geography and interesting random facts about The Lizard. One interesting fact was the connection he made to King Arthur: the local birds, called the choughs, supposedly earned their red feet and beaks from pecking at the corpse of King Arthur on the battlefields. The coastline was gorgeous and the hike wasn’t too treacherous because we went at a nice pace.

Departing from the Lizard, our group went to St. Ives,  the town with a beach and cute shops. While trying to enjoy our pasties on the beach (cautiously) we were interrupted by the gulls; one flew at Tricia, hit her in the back of her head and stole her pasty. The gulls are that aggressive! We left the beach, hastily finished our lunch and bought some fudge/ice cream and explored the shops. We almost got lost on our way back to the bus, but with luck we caught the right bus back to the parking lot. After St. Ives we went to Roskilly’s Farm (dairy and meat I believe) and had a nice BBQ dinner, cider, and some yummy ice cream! Sunday we went to Knightshayes Court, a great Victorian style house with beautiful gardens and sheep.  After that we headed back to Bath. It was really a long and tiring week, and we soon found that we were referring to our houses in Bath as home!

Today, in between classes, a few friends and I went to the famous Sally Lunn’s restaurant, and had buns with chocolate butter (recommended by Foss’ daughter) and tea! It was great! Also, Thursday night, I had my first try of Pimm’s: it’s a really yummy alcoholic drink with gin, lemonade and fruit…kinda like sangria.

The food is good here; people should stop hating on English food!

That’s all for now, din din time!

Finally Excited

In the month before this trip, I was crying and having multiple panic attacks about everything while everyone around me was telling me that I should be excited and that I will have a great time. While I never doubted them, it’s been hard for me to even be excited with all my anxiety. Somehow I managed to cope.

On Thursday we arrived and met-up at the airport. We went through luggage and security easily enough. Once we were on the plane, three things came to my notice. 1) I was in the middle seat so I had very little leg room for the 7/7.5 hour flight 2) my headphones/hole where I plug in said headphones was broken, so I couldn’t enjoy the great selection of movies (but let me tell you, I will make sure I have a functioning one on the flight back so I can guiltly watch Never Say Never with Justin Bieber) and finally 3) on the tv screens they show you a map of where the plane’s headed with distance and time constantly updating; let me tell you, the control freak in me watched that for hours! Not to mention that I felt ill for lack of proper sleep and the lack of proper meals. However I felt better once off the plane.

Our plane arrived early so we had the perfect situation and plenty of time to use the bathroom, pick up our luggage and get through customs with no problems. We were eventually able to find the bus terminal and we sat there and rested for about 2 or so hours waiting for our bus to arrive. The coach/bus was fine, with the exception that my sleep was often disrupted by the people getting up to use the loo which was situated right next to me.

We arrived in Bath (almost) in time for check-in, at apparently the “sketchiest” hostel in Bath. We survived our one day and night at the hostel, even with our party-going British roommates and the bathroom which had an open window and was visible from our room. Also, the water pressure was very low and the water would turn off all the time, so you would constantly be turning it back on again. It made me feel like I was back at camp again.

Saturday morning we were met by the ASE staff who showed us our house (just exactly around the corner from our hostel). We moved and settled in. The house is lovely and large with four bedrooms (2 girls to each) and 3 bathrooms (2 with toilets), a living room, dining room, 2 kitchens and a classroom (yes, I have a class there, and yes, I’ll be saving some time getting up in the morning). In my room there’s plenty of space and it’s really nice. We have wifi, so I’m thrilled. One of the annoyances, however is the noise at night from the hostel. That’s why I’ll be sleeping with my ipod!

I met the rest of the girls in our group and they all seem nice, some more excited than others. We’ve done some exploring and Helen’s helped with showing us the shops and grocery stores. We’ve been to one pub, but it wasn’t really dinner food: just drinks and appetizer style food. It was yummy though.

Today we had our orientation and met with the rest of the group. Everything was finalized and at this point I got really excited, especially after hearing about the Cornwall trip we are taking this weekend. Classes start tomorrow and I’m looking forward to it all. That night we’ll have a fancy reception at an art gallery where we’ll dress smart and have wine and canapes!

xx

Ok. After multiple fights with this blog, and switching to a completely new browser (hello Firefox, goodbye Internet Explorer), my new study abroad blog begins. On Thursday (2 days from now!) I will be departing for my 5 week stay in Aquae Sulis: the waters of Sulis, the name given to the land of Bath by the Romans (a long ass time ago, obviously). Bath, also popularly known as the Roman Baths because of the healing powers of the waters, is my destination. I will be traveling with 7 other UMW students with the beloved Foss-Scanlon family. We will be taking 2 classes during our stay while touring the country and living in cool historical townhouses in the middle of the city.

There was so much to do in the month that I was home after the end of the spring semester; I was in a general state of panic. And while I’ve calmed down since then, I’m still freaking out on the inside.

Just a little antsy waiting for Thursday evening to come and hoping I can get some sleep on the plane!

-cheers for now, I’m proper tired.

Getting Ready

Will my first post work?

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