I have come to fall in love with teaching in Catholic schools. What are YOU in love with?...

"Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything." - Pedro Arrupe

Monday, June 13, 2016

Flashback to Cambridge - 10 years ago!

This past weekend I was in Ohio visiting a friend I met 10 years ago while studying (briefly) at the University of Cambridge in England. I was thinking back on the trip and decided to go through some old emails I sent. I'll post the emails somewhat separately over the course of today and the next, as to post at once would be SUPER overwhelming - the emails bring back good memories and, if nothing else, are good for a laugh. (Please overlook the frequency with which I used the word 'quite'...)

Here are the first two email installments:

August 4, 2006:
Hello!  I trust everything is going well for you.
Sorry I have been out of touch for the past week - I have honestly not had access to the internet before today, so I apologize ahead of time that this email will probably be quite lengthy - may I suggest reading it in segments?  :-)

The flight over to this side of the pond was quite lovely, and I did manage some sleep on the plane (about 4 hours off and on).  If I may suggest for anyone traveling on a long flight soon, do not sit near the bathrooms - while it is nice to have them close by, it is not helpful if you are stuck by the window and cannot get there because your neighbor is sleeping, nor is the noise from all of its users much conducive to sleeping.  :-)  Well, a lesson learned, I suppose.

As many of you know, I have been staying for about a week's time with some family friends, Debbie and Alan, here in Bournemouth, England.  They collected me from the airport when I arrived, and we were on our way.  We made a few whistle-stop tours of some small towns and villages on our way home, making sure to stop for a coffee (nothing like caffeine to fight jet lag!) and some lunch at a cute Spanish restaurant.  When we got back to their house, I was able to settle in and get cleaned up (a hot shower works wonders for jet lag too!).  By the time dinner was ready I was quite sleepy, as you can imagine, but sleep was quite out of the question until a bit later.

I slept in until about 10 the next morning (which, as many of you know, is QUITE unusual for me) and then got ready for the day.  I was still a bit sleepy, but I feel I recovered from the effects of jet lag quite nicely.  We went to Breamore House, an Elizabethan manor built in the 1500s and still being lived in today by the same family that has lived there for over 200 years!  It was a beautiful manor with an even better view!  When we turned up the main drive, I felt like I was walking straight into the pages of a Jane Austen novel (although no Mr. Darcy as luck would have it!).  It was unbelievable!  There was so much history in the manor, which I cannot possibly write about all here, but everything from haunted rooms and portraits to where the kitchen pans came from!  One of my favorite stories was that one of the portraits hanging in the Great Hall (such a long room I have never seen!) became haunted when that lady of the house was murdered in the house.  It was said to be cursed so that anyone who touched, moved, or removed the portrait would die within 24 hours.  The curse was so well-believed that it was the only piece of art that remained on the wall in that room during wartime!  I am not one to believe in curses, but I don't think I'd fancy moving that portrait either!  And, once again, I stress the amazing view from every window (of which there were quite a lot) of the house!  On our way back to the house, we made a few more quick stops at local villages - so I could get an idea of the countryside and the towns.  We also drove by Stonehenge, so yes, I have seen it (and took photos of it), but only for a quick stop.  ;-)

That evening after dinner I was in for quite a treat, "The Vicar of Dibley", which is a hilarious popular tv show around these parts.  While I did not catch all of the British humor, it was rather funny.  As you can imagine, my friends are making sure I have a complete cultural experience while I am here.  ;-)

On Wednesday I went to downtown Bournemouth with Debbie's daughter, Lexi, and her friend to do some shopping.  The stores are quite different over here - I could not even recognize most of the names!  But then of course there are Starbucks, McDonald's, Pizza Huts, and other favorite American stores and restaurants.  Although, I have found, when you try the local favorites (as I did when we went for milkshakes), you find some much better choices (and prices!).

That evening we met up with Debbie and Alan in Poole Quay for Granny Cousin's Ghost Walk.  I tell you, it was honestly the funniest ghost tour you could imagine!  We had quite a big group on the walk with us, but there was no trouble seeing or hearing our guide.  She was very quick on her feet and had the most amazing memory!  And she especially liked to act out the blood and guts parts of her stories - quite funny indeed.

Yesterday was Bath - amazing city!  We took the double-decker tourist bus tour around the city first off, to catch a quick glimpse of everything.  And we dined at the famous Sally Lunn's.  What is she famous for, you may ask? - her buns of course!  It was seriously the lightest bread I have ever tasted - delicious!  Then, Lexi and I did the guided tour of the Roman baths and spa (fortunately, I was not forced to drink the spa water - while it is supposedly good for you, I was warned that it is completely disgusting).  I rather enjoyed the tour - we were given these audiophones (quite similar to the set up in the Florida International Museum) that you hold up to one ear and dial into to hear commentary about certain sections in the baths and museum.  There was simply too much to see (and listen to) to look at everything, so we picked what we thought were some more of the interesting parts.  :-)  What I found rather funny was that the numbers were so random - for example, you would be listening to "42" and then the next one would be like "119" or something like that.  In addition, they had two other tracks - one for children and one that was more like a personal guide reflection - that were offered on the audiophones.  While I enjoyed the statues and other pieces in the museum, my favorite part was, of course, the baths themselves.  There was one part where you could reach down and touch the water and do you know what? - the water was warmer than I take my bathwater at home (and it was just naturally heated like that!).  There was just so much to take in and so many amazing things to see, like the fact that the plumbing system was still intact from the Roman times and things like that.  It was simply beautiful and amazing!
On our way home, we stopped in Bradford on Avon (which is on a different Avon river than Stratford on Avon - confusing, I know), where we walked up the hill to a glorious view of the town.  I honestly don't think the pictures I took will do anything justice, but it was just breathtaking.

Today, I am going with Debbie to see another manor, Kingston Lacey, and then this evening we are all going out to an island in Poole Quay for a picnic and Shakespeare performance, "Much Ado About Nothing".  I am sure I will be in Cambridge before I know it, which is rather exciting as well.  On Saturday Debbie and Alan are taking me for a drive around the country to see more of Dorset (the county we are in) and to Corfe Castle, and then it's on to London on Sunday before taking the train to Cambridge.

As far as everything else goes, I am still getting used to the whole driving on the "wrong side" of the road (and on the wrong side of the car) - don't worry, I'm not the one doing the driving- and looking right-left-right when crossing the street to avoid any collisions with cars.  And you think American drivers are crazy!  hah!  I must admit, my English vocabulary is improving and growing.  Here are just a few things: In the morning you have to bring a "jumper" (sweater) for layers, and in the car you put things in the "boot" (trunk).  You are "collected" (picked up) by someone at a location, and when you answer the phone you say you are "jolly good" (if in fact you are doing well).  You say things are "lovely", and when departing it is ESSENTIAL that you say "cheers", rather than drive safe or see ya later.

Well, I better be going.  I hope to hear from you all soon.  Sadly I do not have a phone number to be reached at.  :-(  I love you all much and hope you have a fantastic weekend.  Sorry this got a bit lengthy, but I tried to keep it short - honest!


August 7, 2006:
Hello again!  So, as I have heard from some that my divisions should be divisions (thanks Anne and Mary ;-)), I have decided to provide a more easily readable format (with captions and all) for your reading pleasure.  I hope you may take as much joy in reading it as I do in writing it.  Right...
Much Ado About Shakespeare
Picking up from my first installment, I attended a Shakespeare performance of "Much Ado About Nothing" on Brownsea Island (near Poole).  There were 6 of us in our party, and we packed a picnic dinner to eat over on the island (except by the time we got over there, we only had about 15 minutes to eat, but it was quite good!).  The play itself was very good - a few of the actors were especially fun to watch.  I must admit I had to stifle my laughter a few times - apparently not everyone was as familiar with the play as I am, so some parts were not as funny to most people, so I did not wish to laugh by myself.  :-) 

The theater was set up in a circular format with the stage at front and in the middle and the bleacher chairs around front half.  After the show was over, it was a mad dash to your picnic supplies and back to the ferries - this was the part where you could tell the regulars of the annual performances because they knew they had to run to catch the first one back or else there would be a LONG wait.  (In a way it reminded me of Shakespeare in the Park, if you have ever been, except the rush was to leave rather than to the seats, which were reserved.)  Anyways, it was fun!
Driving Around Dorset
Saturday morning, Debbie and Alan showed me around the county of Dorset, starting with Corfe Castle.  Because we were seeing so much, we were not able to stay very long in one specific place, but I was able to get through the entrance and take some photos of it.  :-)  Unfortunately, the weather that day was quite hazy, so most of the lookout points were not as picturesque as they could have been, but still quite amazing to a girl from Florida who is used to nothing but miles of flat land.  ;-)  We went to some other amazing places as well, but unfortunately I don't have my cheat sheet right here with me, so I cannot tell you the names at present.  Afterwards, Debbie photocopied the pages from the map and highlighted where I had traveled with them over the past week - amazing how far we went!  England is a BEAUTIFUL country!
A Busy Day in London
On Sunday we had an early start to London in order for me to get a taste of the city before I headed off to Cambridge.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I imagine that if I had to navigate it myself I would get lost within a few city blocks - it is HUGE!  But what was even crazier was that London was packed with tourists - more so than usual, I am told.  We could not figure out what was going on!  And a lot of the streets were closed too, so it was quite difficult trying to get near Buckingham Palace and Trafalgar Square, among other places.  I was in the back of a Toyota Selica trying to get pictures of everything from the car (since we were unable to park anywhere), so I hope they came out all right.

For lunch, Debbie and Alan treated me to Dim Sum, which is quite the dining experience!  And it's a good place to go if you are particularly hungry because the food service is immediate.  It was quite good.

Because of all the traffic, we decided I should take an earlier train into Cambridge.  Alan helped me inside with my luggage and buying my ticket and then we pretty much ran to the train.  Just as I got on the door closed (almost ON my arm), so I literally just made it.  Well, the only problem is that Alan had gotten on before me, so as you can imagine, yes, he was stuck on the train.  I felt pretty bad about that actually.  However, the next stop of the train was not too far down the way, so he was able to hop off at that stop. The ride to Cambridge itself was not long at all - only a little over an hour, so that was not bad. 
Well, as you have most likely been able to infer by now, I am safely at Cambridge and having a brilliant time!  When I arrived, I was able to find a taxi and get myself to Selwyn College.  I got my room assignment, which was a bit disappointing because one side of the Court has an amazing view of the chapel and grassy area in the middle while the other side (where I am actually) has a view of Grange Road.  Lovely!  Ah well, it is not too long of a walk, I have decided, up and down the three flights of stairs to make it outside.  ;-)

Once checked in, I had about a two hours before dinner, so I walked into town to a convenience store and bought a phone card.  Well, the man at the store told me it was for 2000 minutes, but it was only for about 23 - lovely!  At least I was able to call home and talk with my family (once my dad realized it was me - lol).
I walked around Selwyn for a bit before dinner, but there was no one else around.  Luckily, dinner was in just a short while, so I made my way to the dining hall (once I found out where it was - they told us to eat in our colleges, but they neglected to indicate where that actually was!).

You would not believe that the first person I ran into was from Florida (and Tampa no less! - she goes to St Pete College), so that was rather random and quite odd.  At dinner, I sat with two girls from Canada, Nicole (the one from Tampa), and a girl from Italy.  There is such a diversity of people here!  Anyways, after dinner I ended up going up the road to Selwyn Cripps Court (where some of the other students are staying) and we sat around and talked on the lawn - everything from movies to music to languages - it is really quite amazing!!  One of the girls is from Pennsylvania, two from Japan, two from Germany, and one from Italy.  We are already quite close and planning to do some events together - I think it should be much nicer to have people to enjoy your experiences with!  I think we will be quite a nice group - I consider myself quite lucky indeed.

It was getting to be about 8:45, when I suddenly realized that I was supposed to be at a meeting with the Florida group studying over here at 8 p.m. (and Nicole as well!)!  So, we literally ran back to the Old Court to find them, but they were just leaving!  Oh no!  We went inside and spoke to Ben, our director, and he was just happy we were there safely, etc.  I cannot believe we missed it!  As those of you who know me even remotely well would never expect me to be late for something (or rather forget it altogether!) - such a memory I have here!  lol  It's all right though - apparently we didn't miss much.  After we sorted things out there, Nicole and I went back to join the other girls (who were glad to find out that everything was all right).  Then after a while, it was off to bed.
Day 1
Right...my day began at 6:15 this morning (I forgot to close my window curtain the entire way), and I hurried to the shower (we have two showers on our floor) to make sure I could get in and out before there was any kind of a bathroom rush.  Packed my notebook and class stuff, grabbed my umbrella, and headed out to breakfast.  I must admit, not very nice weather this morning - misty rainy - not enough for an umbrella but enough to make it feel kind of depressing - you know how it is.  Just to give you an idea of the diversity here, I had breakfast with a high school English teacher from New Hampshire, a guy from Brazil, a guy from Belgium, and a girl and her brother from LA and Kentucky (respectively).  The food here is surprisingly good - they even have the cereal I eat back home!  :-)

We had a brief introduction to Internation Summer School Term 2 in the lecture hall, and then were off to our first classes.  One of the girls I hung out with on Sunday evening was in my first class so we both sat together.  We also met a guy from Honduras and two girls from Washington D.C. (one who is a psychology major as well).  Our professor (who is quite good!) took roll and asked us what we knew about Britain and their relations with Europe.  Well, once she had gone around asking us about this, one girl came in late.  So, our professor proceeded to ask her what she knew about Britain and Europe.  When she said, "I love it - London is the greatest place!" I almost fell over laughing - I actually turned to the girl next to me and said "She must be an American" - we had to hold back our laughing because our teacher was even rolling her eyes.  Now, it may not seem that funny in writing, but as Saiko can tell you it was hysterical - definitely my laugh for the day.
My second class was wonderful as well, although there are only about 8 of us in that class, which makes it nice for discussion purposes.  Our teacher is quite funny (and he actually uses powerpoint!).

For lunch, we just grabbed some sandwiches at the local food place, the Buttery, and then some of the other girls went back to class (but I am done for the day, well until lecture tonight).  So, I am on a mission now to finish this email, print off a paper, and go to the post office (all within less than 1 hour - lovely!).  Sorry that this got a bit lengthy again, but segments are now possible ;-).
Words for the Day (just for fun! - You too can learn British!)
speed bump = bollard
Love to all!  Cheers!

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