A Quick Hello (August 9, 2006)
Hello! Just wanted to write a quick note - I've been in the computer lab for the past two days during a bit of the afternoon working on my papers (my response ones are almost done - perhaps a bit more editing, and I am collecting and prepping for my research paper - hopefully will have a rough draft within the next few days). BUT, I have had a chance to enjoy some of the shops in town (although there are still a few things that I am waiting and looking around for) as well as the market and some of the amazing other colleges at Cambridge (although I have not been in any others yet). And later today we are going punting (but we are having a guide so we don't tip ourselves over - haha).
I have to say my calves are KILLING me! Ah - we went to the Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-Lee) last night in Cripps Court and danced for like 2 hours! It was so much fun!! I took some video and had some people take pictures with my camera too, so can't wait for you to see those. But it is Irish and Scottish folk dances and they are a lot of fun - not that I will be able to use my new dance knowledge anywhere back home but it was awesome! We were all so sweaty and tired afterwards that we rushed back to the showers. Crazy night...
Oh, and tomorrow we may go see "Comedy of Errors" in one of the College gardens and I will be going to buy a bus ticket for my way back to the airport (I think some of the people I know here will be going home on the same plane - yay!). Well, off to meet the others for punting!
Love and miss you!
August 11, 2006 (Cheers Volume III):Hello! I hope you are quite well. The time has passed so quickly here - I cannot believe I am finished with my first week of classes! But that does leave that we are entering the weekend, which promises to be simply amazing (please pray that the weather cooperates) as I go with some other students here to medieval Norwich on Saturday and the Globe in London on Sunday to see Antony and Cleopatra! I'll try to be brief with everything that has been going on this week (and this may be aided by my poor memory at present) but I hope to present at least the highlights. Right - shall I do subheadings again then?
A Variety of Plenary Lectures
Each evening in Lady Mitchell Hall, which is really a small auditorium, a lecture series takes place after dinner. I am pleasantly surprised that I have been to 3 lectures so far, all of which have been quite interesting (ranging from European politics to questioning that the earth revolves around the sun). It is nice that they are early in the evening - 8 p.m. - so that there is time to either visit or work (yes, remember I am taking classes!) following the presentations. And so far I have not attended a lecture on my own - someone is always interested in going along as well. I could go into details on the lectures, but I feel that may provide a bit of more boring reading, while you would probably rather hear about all we've been doing around the lovely city of Cambridge! :-)
An Exhilarating Ceilidh
On Tuesday night, Selwyn College hosted a Ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee <-- weird, I know) for the students. A Ceilidh is a type of Scottish/Irish folk dance with wonderfully upbeat Celtic music (trust me, we got our workout - my calves are still sore from all of the spinning and skipping!). It was a lot of fun. We learned about 6 or 7 dances in all, many of which I cannot remember completely, but that does not really matter, seeing how I probably will have no use for the steps back home. :-) Lessons, anyone? Just teasing. We had an amazing time, except for the fact that the room was absolutely boiling (and the dancing didn't help either), so that was the only thing that was rather uncomfortable. Most everyone picked up on the dancing quite easily after a few demonstrations, but as you can imagine, there are always a few people who find it particularly troubling, so I did my best to try to help them out without getting frustrated - it was much more fun just to laugh it off instead!
Once again, I will not bore you with the amazing things I am learning here, but my classes in British politics and Autism have truly been eye-opening. There is such a unique experience studying here with students from all over - it brings together a lot of different perspectives and ideas that would probably not be considered in a usual classroom setting. The hour and a half sessions are rather long, but the professors usually leave some 20 odd minutes or so at the end for questions and discussion. In fact, in my autism class today we spent the entire period in discussion about a film we watched yesterday and some of the other current theories of the disorder. I am truly amazed!
In order to participate in the program, I agreed to follow the curriculum set out by USF - to write 2 reaction papers and one research paper on one of the subjects (I chose Autism) in order to receive credit back home. I am happy to say that I have turned in both reaction papers and have completed my first draft of my research paper! It has been challenging at times trying to balance between going out and working on my papers, but I think I've been able to manage it quite well so far. Plus, with most of my work behind me now (and just tons of revisions ahead), I will be able to relax a bit more next week as well.
Punting on the Cam
Yes - we punted (for those of you who don't know, it's a flat boat on the river that someone guides by using a long pole in the water), and on such a glorious day too - the weather was perfect for it! We decided to hire a boat with a guide (instead of attempting it ourselves), so no one fell in the water. :-) There were so many punts out, many of which were stuck or in the process of colliding, but it was very peaceful. From the river we were able to see a number of the colleges - King's, Emmanuel, Trinity, Clare's, etc. Hopefully next week we'll be brave (that, or stupid - hard to tell the difference) and try to punt ourselves! I'll let you know how that develops.
You would think that the British people are the hungriest people alive, honestly - there is so much food for both breakfast and dinner (3 course meal) at the dining hall! I have definitely strayed from my normal American breakfast and have taken a liking to cooked tomatoes (pronounced to-MAH-to), beans, and mushrooms along with some fruit instead (apparently beans for breakfast is quite common for breakfast over here). Dinners have ranged from beef to prawns and even roasted duck! And I have never in all my life seen so many ways to cook potatoes! - Boiled, chips (aka fries), mashed, and duchess (which look like potato dollops - whoever thought potatoes couldn't be cute! lol) to name a few...Truly amazing. At least I'll have some ideas for cooking next year, right? And the desserts are amazing! The first night I did try scones with jam and coddled cream, and some other desserts have been an amazing chocolately mousse thing, apple pie, and a lemon dish that had the consistency of butter (but was actually quite good). It's a good thing I chose to attend only the 2 week program...lol
Words for the Day (British to American)
holiday = vacation
trainers = sneakers
I hope you are doing fantastically well and have some lovely plans for the weekend! It is hard to believe that while I am getting ready to go to dinner and all of the shops in town are closing up (hardly anything is open past half five!) that you are probably on your way to your lunch breaks! Lenghty yet again - please forgive my wordiness! Please keep all of us over here in your thoughts and prayers - our director is keeping everything under control for us, but needless to say the situation with the airports has been quite scary. Take care and have a wonderful weekend!
Hello! Hope you had a nice and relaxing weekend. Mine was jolly good indeed, except for the frightful rainy cold weather - but as the chap behind me in line at the Globe yesterday pointed out, it is England after all. What can I say - I'm just a girl from sunny Florida! Anyways, I went on two excursions this weekend - one to medieval Norwich and another to the Globe Theatre in London!
I do not believe walking tours are ever a clever idea when it is wet and rainy outside. It seems quite odd that the weather decided not to cooperate this weekend while it was perfectly sunny during most of our classes (which are indoors) last week - hmm...Well, after an extremely long bus ride to Norwich (really BAD traffic), we did a very brief walking tour of the city, which is much larger than most people would suspect, so we only saw a very small area. We went by numerous churches and old houses - a lot of history. Our guide was Brian Ayers (you probably wouldn't know him unless you read up about the areas in England), and he was quite good. However, we were rather rushed for time. We were given a short period for lunch, and my friend and I ate in a little cafe called "The King of Hearts" - it was really quaint and they had WARM soup (so good after being out in the cold!). Following lunch, we met up with the group at Norwich Cathedral - it was amazing! The spire is one of the tallest in England! The architecture and detail were simply breathtaking (although we had to pay a fee to take pictures inside). And then our final stop was Norwich castle - not very impressive from the outside, but it was a rather neat experience. So, overall, it was a very nice day, but the weather and rushing were a bit disappointing. Oh well, just might have to go back some day!
Without a doubt, this was probably one of the best things I have done in England - brilliant! We started on the bus pretty early after having inhaled our breakfast. When we arrived in London, we were dropped off across the embankment and down a ways from where the theatre was, so we needed to make our way there in a few hours time. It was raining lightly and I had this lovely (well, not really) red poncho that I had luckily found in the Norwich gift shop to protect me from the rain. On the way up to cross the bridge, I looked up and there was Big Ben! I mean, wow! I also passed an art museum featuring Salvador Dali (made me think of Florida!), Tate Modern, and (would you believe it!) Foyles Bookshop! I was so excited that I had someone take a picture of me in front of the sign - it's not every day you find a shop of your name, right? When I came to the Globe, which was right across the river from St. Paul's Cathedral (although it is blocked by buildings) I spent some time in the gift shop before getting in line for the yard area. Yes, I had decided to have the full experience as a "groundling". With the rain coming on and off, I thought this was perhaps a mistake, but it most assuredly was anything but that. I was quite early in the queue, so I was able to get a place right up near the front stage right in a corner where another piece of the stage projected out, so I was able to lean in multiple directions, which helped prevent me from getting tired of standing. The scenery was beautiful! And the theatre was so intimate - I had imagined a much larger space, but everything was much closer together. And with the actors practically on top of you, well, I guess that helped as well. The play was Shakespeare's "Antony and Cleopatra", which was one I had not yet seen, so that was quite good. The actress who played Cleopatra was amazing - she pretty much stole the show (which is probably why the actor playing Antony (who I felt was much too old and small for the part) was not so impressive). I loved every minute - even when the rain came. If you ever get a chance to go to that theatre (and enjoy Shakespeare even remotely), then do! It was a perfect day!
Words of the Day
queue = line
lift = elevator (of which many are not used in England!)
Well, it is Monday, so I was back to classes and such this morning - only 4 more days of class to go - I can't believe it! Have a wonderful week!
Final Installment (August 19, 2006):
Hello! It is hard to believe that just a short time ago I was across the pond, but I must say that I am quite happy to be home. I shall (try to) give a brief recap on the week and travel, but this is just to mainly let you know that I have safely returned. :-)
During one of my free afternoons this week, I decided to take a walk to the Botanic Gardens - they were beautiful! Many of the flowers were in bloom and the weather was simply perfect (no rain!). It was so peaceful - I probably could have stayed in there for hours!
Biking in Cambridge
Almost as essential as cars in Cambridge is one's bicycle. Being the tourist that I was, I decided it was of utmost importance to rent a bike during my stay, so I did for one day and went out to Grantchester with my friend Marissa (from PA). We biked mainly off the main roads, so I was not too nervous, although it was a bit bumpy. The part that scared me was how close the buses and cars came up beside me while I was biking as well as crossing the roundabouts (which I find hard enough to do in a car!). I am really glad I took the time for biking because it certainly was quite the experience.
Fish & Chips, Scones with Jam & Cream, and all that Tourist-y stuff
How would a trip to England be complete without the traditional fish & chips?? Our thoughts exactly, so we decided to find some for lunch on our last day. We ended up in Quinn's Irish pub, where we received quite a large portion complete with smushed peas and all. Later that afternoon, a group of us met at Auntie's Tea Room for afternoon tea and scones, another British favorite! Yum!! We had a very nice time indeed, sipping our coffee and enjoying our scones. And yes, we all took lots of pictures!
Final Dinner & Departure
Friday night was the closing dinner for our program - it was a beautiful evening (the rain even stopped before we had to go down to dinner!). The tables in the dining hall were set with candles and we enjoyed our typical Cambridge 3 course meal. After dinner, there was plenty of hugging and picture-taking well into the early hours of the morning.Our train was due to leave at 5:30 a.m. (and our taxi at 5), so I didn't get much sleep. It's a good thing I woke up, however, because two of the others from my program had overslept (and our professor still hadn't packed). Being the punctual person I am, I became very nervous that we would miss our bus, but we made it (with a little time to spare). However, there were some mishaps - our bus broke down and my friend's luggage got lost! The airport itself was quite busy, especially the security checkpoints, but check-in was relatively painless.
The flight home went rather quickly - I was able to sit next to my friend, Nicole, from the Florida program, and we were seated next to another college student on her way from Germany to an international university in Largo to study for a year. So yes, I am here, and still amazingly awake (I have no idea what time my body thinks it is - jet lag is a wonderful thing! haha). I hope to be putting some pictures online shortly.
Word for the Day
Mind = Watch:
By popular demand, we turn to the word "mind". The use of "mind" in a phrase is similar to the American "watch" (i.e. "watch your head"). So, you "mind your step", "mind your head", and at the tube station you..."MIND THE GAP"! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers (and for taking the time to share in this journey with me)! It was such a wonderful experience - one I would not trade for the world!
(And yes, I can now say I am a Cambridge alumna ;-)...)
And there we have it. Pretty amusing, indeed. I REALLY got into the whole "talk like a Brit" thing, didn't I?