Sunday, April 17, 2011

Oxford, London, this real!?

So it’s been awhile, I know, but the past couple of weeks have been CRAZY! I have so much to fill you in on. So about a month ago my whole program went to Oxford for the week. It wasn’t really a vacation since we still had classes, but it was lots of fun! For those who don’t know Oxford University isn’t actually a college. There is just Oxford the town which is made up of like 39 colleges. So, we stayed at University College a.k.a. Univ. It is the oldest college in Oxford and important people like C.S. Lewis and Percy Shelley went there! Actually funny story about Percy Shelley, there is a memorial to him in the part of the building that I was staying in which resembles a tomb; therefore, I walked past (what felt like) a dead person every time I went back to my room…talk about creepy!

This would be Percy Shelley's Memorial.
 Being in Oxford is like being a totally different world. Univ. is loaded with little nooks and crannies which gives it lots of character and makes you feel like you are about to fly off to Neverland or stumble upon Narnia. It also is an academically intimidating place…you have to have AT LEAST a 3.8 GPA in order to be even considered for grad school! Talk about impressive! It is also the epitome of a college town with lots of shopping, pubs, clubs, and history. While there I explored the market, toured Christ Church College (yes this is where Harry Potter was filmed!!!), did a tower tour of St. Mary’s University Church, and went punting. It was a packed week with little free time, but it was totally worth it. We even had a formal going away dinner at the end where everyone got dressed up! I think the best part was having the whole program together. I definitely got to know some people who I don’t see much of either because they live on the other side of Bath or don’t have any classes with me.

See what I mean about Neverland and Narnia?

Christ Church College great hall...used in Harry Potter!

Me and the roomies on the stairs that were used in Harry Potter.

Me and the Roomies at the formal dinner!


Upon returning to Bath, the relaxing mix of class and sightseeing quickly turned into cram time. I had two presentations and I was teaching my lesson at W.A.S.P.S, and then Friday I was leaving for spring break. The highlight of the week was definitely getting to teach my lesson. I actually was pretty nervous since I had never done a whole class lesson before, but it went over smoothly. The only thing that I was desperately lacking in was TIME. The kids did not have nearly enough time to write their pen pal letters, which I was hoping to have sent out before I left for spring break. But the students loved the lesson, and were super excited to connect with someone their own age from America. So hopefully I will be able to get those out as soon as I’m back in school with them. I even got some hugs on Wednesday because I came in for another day! Talk about making it worth getting up early two days in a row! I seriously cannot wait until I’m in the classroom on a more consistent basis!
So, Friday quickly rolled around and I hopped on a train to London to meet my parents at their hotel. I, thankfully, made it to the hotel without getting completely lost (I guess I’m not as directionally challenged as I thought!), and it was great to see my family. It’s so nice to see people from home when you’re so far away. Even though I am used to Bath and it feels a little bit like home and I’ve made some great friends, nothing beats seeing the people you love from home! Anyways we stayed in London until Monday and while we were there we packed in two walking tours (one was a Harry Potter tour which Chris was super excited for), a tour of the tower of London (I stood on over where Anne Boylen and Katherine Howard were buried after being executed and saw all the crown jewels), watched the changing of the guard, toured the Winston Churchill War Museum (which is WAY cooler than it sounds), did a duck tour, and walked through Westminster Abbey. It was a packed weekend, but I hadn’t been to London yet so it was cool to get see things like Big Ben, the Parliament buildings, and the London Eye (although I think you would have had to pay me lots of money to get on that thing!). On Monday morning we hopped on a train to Bath so my parents could see where I was staying.

Chris made a new friend!

The Leaky Blue.

I made a friend at the War Museum.
Bath was fun too because I was on my own turf so we didn’t get lost walking around, and I saved all the touristy stuff for this week so that I wasn’t doing the same things over again. The Roman Baths were pretty cool. It is amazing to see what they were able to accomplish back then with such minimal technology. We also did the tower tour at Bath Abbey which, I have to admit, is the coolest tower tour I have done. We got to see so much more than just the views from the top. We actually did a guided tour and got to see where the bells are hung, how they are played, the back of the clock, and the views from the top. It was amazing!

Cliff walk in Abergavenny in Wales.

Carreg Cennen

View from the cliff walk
From Bath we rented a car…yes my dad did tackle driving on the wrong side of the road! With only one near accident (yikes!) and taking only a day to adjust to the signage here, I think we did pretty good. I have to say that the signs were the biggest problem. We got horrendously lost going to Stonehenge, and after we got there we again got seriously lost on our way to Cardiff. But, we finally made it just in time for dinner! Actually on the way to Cardiff we ended up stopping at Lacock which is another place where Harry Potter was shot, but we didn’t get to see much. However, Chris did pose in front of Slughorn’s house!
The rest of the vacation we were in Wales. We saw lots of castles, Cardiff Castle, Caerphilly Castle, and Carreg Cennen, it’s tough to decide which was best but it’s definitely a tie between Caerphilly and Carreg; Caerphilly was so big and impressive but Carreg was situated on this sort of epic looking mountain with a kick butt view! Also, something that is in abundance in Wales is SHEEP! They are everywhere (I definitely saw more sheep than people) and it was adorable because all of the lambs were grazing with their moms. Some other things we saw were the Welsh life Museum (which had another castle in it, it is actually sort of like Sturbridge Village only bigger and grander), the National Caves ( I forget what they are called?!), and we did two cliff walks. Over all it was a very busy vacation, and I came home exhausted but I also came back with a new appreciation for British history and the scope of the natural world around here. I saw places that I thought I would only see in movies, except I was there! It is actually very surreal being in a place with so much baggage. The tower of London, for example,  (or Westminster!) has such a well known history. My students were actually just talking about the Tudors in class before break (they have a saying to remember Henry VIII’s six wives and what happened to them…divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived. It’s hilarious to hear them all recited it together!) so being in the place where Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard died was so COOL!

The sheep!

Part of Caerphilly Castle

Anyways, that was a lot to share at once! It’s back to the grind now until the semester is over, but I do have some exciting things ahead. Easter is next weekend and my roomies and I are cooking a nice dinner to celebrate, then I head off to Dublin for a weekend with my Irish class, then we are in Stratford for a couple of days, then Becca comes to visit, and then there is finals and the semester is over. The next couple of weeks are going to fly by, but I’m going to try to take it day by day because I can’t believe it’s almost over. Until next time…

Monday, March 14, 2011

School Days!

It’s been too long, but it has been a very busy couple of weeks!
So the last time I checked in, I had just returned from my weekend with the SMC-ers in Paris, and returned from my study trip in Stratford. So, since then I have been cracking down on the homework front. I had lots of papers to write, which I wanted to get done because I knew I was going to be away the weekend before most of them were due. However, papers didn’t keep me locked up inside during all of my free time! My roommate had lots of visitors in the past two weeks, so we went out when they were here. I also ventured up to the Royal Crescent and The Circus one day when it was actually sunny! The Royal Crescent is overwhelmingly large, it actually reminded me of the Louvre a little bit in terms of size. However, that is probably a very inaccurate statement since the Louvre is like the biggest freakin museum I’ve ever laid eyes on!

So this is someone's house, and I thought it was the most adorable thing ever!
This is the Royal Crescent, it is so long that I couldn't get it all in one picture!
The Circus! Or at least part of it anyways
Me at the Circus, courtesy of Elysia.
Me, Zoe, and Katie on our way back from the Circus and the Royal Crescent! Again, courtesy of Elysia.
This past weekend I flew to Cork to visit my SMC friends Ellen and Becca. Ellen’s birthday is this coming week (Happy Birthday Ellen!) so I figured that I would be the perfect gift ;) I flew in Friday afternoon, and left Sunday. Unfortunately, there were a lot of mishaps during this trip, but it was so much fun to be there with my ladies that I would do it over again if I could!
Saturday we ventured out into Cork and did some things that are not necessarily what you would typically do when visiting Cork. We first walked through her campus, which is gorgeous, and stopped in at a gallery that was being held in one of the buildings on campus. The gallery was called School Days, so it was totally up my alley! It was all about the social culture in schools, and there were some interesting exhibits on the Hidden Curriculum that was really hard to understand. But, I think it had to do with the things that students pick up from the social interactions between them and their peers, them and the faculty, and them and the staff. I think the part that I was most interested in was the artistic depictions of a student’s walk to school. For the sake of copy right regulations, I’m not going to post any pictures, but if you are interested in looking at some of the pictures from the gallery just email me or let me know! However, I can’t tell you about this without explaining to you how Ellen, Becca, and I got stuck in the gallery! There was a seminar going in the same building as the gallery, so they were using the elevator in order to not interfere with the seminar, but the elevator was slightly broken (not sure how we were still using it since it was broken?!). Anyways, when we were ready to leave we went to take the elevator and it wouldn’t come up to the third floor and the stairs were blocked off since the seminar was going on. After calling the place to see if they could send the elevator to us and no one picked up, we ended up ignoring the blockade and walking down the stairs into the seminar! There was no other option though, so even though we felt really bad we had no choice!

A Building on Ellen's Campus, it looks like a castle!
The crest of UCC, there is some myth about not walking on it, but I foget what happens when you do...oops!
So this was the extraordinarily large elevator that we took up to the gallery. I needed to add it since I have a picture of the really small elevator in Paris.


Me in the so called old school furniture, but it was actually a really comfortable chair.
After the gallery we walked to the other side of Cork to the Butter Museum! Who knew that Cork used to be the butter capitol?! I was a small museum, but interesting none the less. We got to learn about how butter was made, how cattle raiding was a popular hobby during that time period, and how butter quickly became Cork’s name to fame. The only bummer was that we didn’t get any free samples at the end. However, it was an enlightening experience and it was certainly worth the 3 euros that we paid to get in. I would definitely recommend it to anyone whose looking for a cheap, interesting place to check out while in Cork!
Saturday night was Ellen’s birthday celebration! Becca and I made her dinner and we bought her a cake too! It was a very relaxed weekend and birthday celebration, but I think it was exactly what we all needed. After spending hours chatting and catching up, we popped in a movie and called it a night! Sunday I flew back to Bath which was an experience since my plane was delayed 3 hours and they lost my luggage, but like I said before I have no regrets about the weekend!
What’s coming up? Well we are all here for another week and then we all head to Oxford for a week. Then we have another week in Bath before Spring Break! It’s going to be a busy couple of weeks, but I’m looking forward to them. I will also be teaching my first lesson with my primary school students the week before Spring Break which should be fun since they are going to be writing letters to pen-pals in the United States! It’s going to be a great lesson! I’ll be in touch soon!

Saturday, February 26, 2011


So, it has only been a week since my last post but a lot has happened in that time!

Last weekend I flew to Paris to see some fellow SMC-er's! We stayed in this little hotel on the outskirts of the city, and were able to take the metro directly into the city center which was super convenient. The best part of the weekend was being able to see some familiar faces/friends that I have missed a lot. Sunny, Becca, and I met Ellen at the Louvre on Friday night--I feel it is necessary for me to share with you that Ellen told me that if you spent 4 seconds at each piece of artwork in the Louvre it would take you 3 months and couple of days to go through the entire museum...that's a lot of art. We met her in front of the Mona Lisa, yes the MONA LISA, and Ellen was late, of course, but she caught us all by surprise and we screamed and hugged and made a classic scene in the middle of a busy place! After spending some time wandering the Louvre we decided to wander the city and find some food. Eventually we made it to a restaurant, had dinner, and brought Ellen back to her hotel.

Saturday was an interesting day. We met Ellen at the Eiffel Tower, but you couldn't even see the top because it was cloudy and it was pouring, so we decided to not go up to the top. We spent the day trying to cram in all the places we wanted to go which included the shopping strip, the Arc of Triomphe, the statue/fountain of St. Michael, Notre Dame, and some places just in passing. The rain made it kind of miserable, and the city is so large, which made it difficult to find quick easy ways to get from one place to another. We had some crepes and pastries during the day. Unfortunately we didn't get organized enough to go anywhere with any true French cuisine. By the end of Saturday I was absolutely EXHAUSTED! But it was totally worth the trip and I had such a great time with the ladies!
Kaitlin, Ellen, Becca, Sunny, and I in front of Notre Dame...we would have taken our hoods off but it was pouring!


I forgot to mention that the elevator in our hotel was TINY....this is us inside!

SMC reunites at the Eiffel Tower!

Sunday was a travel day home...very long travel day I might add. Several delays and a lot of waiting, but I finally made it back in one piece! I was actually pretty proud of myself for being able to navigate my way to and from Paris, especially in Paris where it was slightly more difficult to ask for directions (although, I can't complain too much since  most people just looked at me and started speaking in English!).

The rest of the week was pretty typical, although I did not have school placement on Tuesday so I had an extra free day. I was kind of bummed actually because I look forward to going into school!

Wednesday night was pub quiz night at the Huntsman across the way. My roommates and I teamed up with three British students, which was good because we never would have been able to answer all the questions...although there were a fair share of them that were directed towards Americans! We actually did pretty well. There were a lot of teams we were competing against, but we didn't come in last! We fell somewhere nicely in the middle!

Friday was my study trip to Strafford upon Avon with my Shakespeare class. We were actually really privileged to be able to go into the archives of the library there that is associated with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I wasn't expecting it to be very interesting, but we got to look at prompt copies of the play The Taming of the Shrew with the directors notes and cuts in it, as well a photos, playbills, and reviews of the play. We looked at four years worth: 1970 (something...I can't remember the exact date), 1982, 2003, and 2008. It was really cool to see how the different directors spun the play to work in their favor. We also go to go for a tour of the city and see where Shakespeare was born, lived, and where his daughter lived. Then to end the evening we went to see King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was amazing! I have never read King Lear and had no idea what it was about, but I still really enjoyed with (well as much as you can enjoy a play where everyone dies at the Shakespearean?!) There is something about seeing Shakespeare preformed that really changes the way that the story and the language comes across. I definitely want to see more of his plays done on the stage.

That is all I have to share for now!


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Be kind, Love often

Hello all!

I've encountered my first situation while abroad where I am lost and don't know what to do, and it is a horrible feeling.

This morning I woke up, made my cup of coffee, turned on my computer and logged on facebook to learn that a member of the SMC community died unexpectedly yesterday... not exactly the best way to start my morning. In the moment when I figured out what was going on, I had absolutely no idea how to react. What happened? Who was it? Do I know them? Have I seen them before? How is the campus community handling the situation? All valid questions that streamed through my mind, but not acknowledging the heart of the matter. A person, only 18 years old, is gone. This person chose to take their life for whatever reason, and it is a tragedy.

Going away to college can be one of the toughest experiences if it doesn't go as you want it to. It's scary leaving home, venturing into the world and discovering who you really are. Coming out the other side four years later is a feat, but hopefully you are better for it. I chose SMC because of the campus and the community that is so clearly bonded through the common values of the students and faculty. Stepping over the threshold into this strong, coherent community my first year was tough, but once I found my niche it was easy to call St. Mikes my home. I didn't know the individual who took his life yesterday, but he was a part of the St. Michael's family. Now our family is little bit broken; there is a piece missing preventing us from becoming whole again. It is going to take time for the students, the faculty, and the community as a whole to come back from this tragedy and heal. We will all be left with a scar to remind us of how life should never be taken for granted.

I'm sad today because I can't be with my SMC family on a day when we all so badly need the company of one another. Being so far away is difficult, but I do wish the best to the all of SMC during this time of mourning and healing. I will be there in spirit at the prayer service tonight, and I have faith that the church will be overflowing with students, faculty, and staff.

Remember that a smile, a 'good morning', or some kind words can turn someone's day around. So be kind and love often!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Befriending the Black and Yellow

So, to start off this blog I should share a story about when I was in Costa Rica...

My team and I were hiking Monteverde for our acclimatization hike, and I was near the end of the line, as all 13 of us had to walk single file down a steep, muddy slope. The people at the front of the line started to scream, but I couldn't determine what it was that was bothering them and the line continued to move. I had assumed that they were just screaming because they were slipping and falling on the mud. Little did I know that I was walking into a swarm of wasps that were clearly very pissed off. Later I found out that they were ground burrowing wasps, so we must have disturbed their nest! Regardless, after being attacked by a swarm of wasps, I am now forever terrified of all bees, wasps, or anything black and yellow that flies. It's quite pathetic actually. When I am at home and my dad asks me to mow the lawn, he now knows that he has to take the mower out of the shed because I won't go near it; there are carpenter bees that burrow in the wood and I literally stand there and cry because I can't bring myself to go near it.

So, why am I telling you this? Well Tuesday was my first of many Tuesdays that I will spend at Weston All Saints Primary School aka W.A.S.P.S. How ironic...

You will all be happy to know that I did not go running from this hive, even when I discovered that the students' uniforms are black and yellow (in some way I think someone knew that I have a phobia of bees and thinks this is some sort of practical joke!).

So, I finally met my cooperating teacher Mr. Williams and he was very welcoming and was happy to have me there, and I am looking forward to working closely with him during the duration of the semester. There was also a training teacher (Student teacher) who is finishing up her last week of with the class.

W.A.S.P.S is a VC school so it is voluntarily controlled by the Church of England, which basically means that the school has a religious affiliation, but that religious affiliation does not give them any money. I'm telling you this because the first thing that struck me as being drastically different from schools in the States was the fact that every morning the students attend an assembly where there is a bible reading and they sing hymns. All students also say grace before they leave to go to lunch. For all intensive purposes W.A.S.P.S is a public school (the definition of public and private is nowhere near as clean cut here as it is at home), so I was really surprised that they were praying in school since this is definitely something that public schools are not allowed to do in the States.

The other thing that I noticed was how arts orientated this particular school is. I do not think that this is the case of all primary schools in England, but here there is artwork everywhere and the students are producing fabulous interpretations of some famous artists' works. There are also portfolios of the school's work in the reception area where people who are waiting can look through them. The students are all also in some sort of musical setting at some point during the day; all the students are taking lessons whether it be guitar, drums, or flute. The emphasis that is placed on art really seemed different than what takes place in elementary schools that I have visited or been a part of. There is not nearly as much art present in the classroom in the States. And, what I find funny, is that unlike in the States the educational system in England has a national curriculum which really limits what teachers can do with their time in the classroom and I'm pretty sure that the arts does not have such a heavy role in the National Curriculum. I will be interested to see how this emphasis on the arts works with the National Curriculum that is in place and whether or not the arts does play a larger role in the National Curriculum than I think it does.

Overall, my first day at W.A.S.P.S was a success. Mr. Williams put me to work right away with helping him organize the art room, and then I got to work one on one (or in small groups) with some of the students who seem to have trouble focusing in the classroom which was nice. I also was given the opportunity to listen to students read out loud and respond back to them on how they were doing, so I was able to really get involved which was really nice.

One other thing that I must bring up is this one little boy who I was completely blown away by! I was warned about him when I got there in the morning, so I was expecting to really see him struggle. He has autism, and from what I witnessed he is fairly high functioning, and according to Mr. Williams he has issues with focusing, stims out on certain things, and is very argumentative. However, what I saw was a boy who sat all day in class with his peers without so much as a drop in from a special educator. I was in awe for the entire day. He was raising his hand, contributing to the class (not always the most dead on answers, but still fairly relevant), and he was never really unfocused to the point that he was not absorbing what was going on around him. Needless to say, I was very impressed! There were tell tale signs that he was definitely on the spectrum, but other than that he was completely present all day.

Looking back, I am a little disappointed about how I was informed about this particular boy. Being someone who works closely with a child who has autism, I have learned that defining that child by what is not quite right about them is disrespectful, for lack of a better word, and there is so much more to them than their disability. Walking into a school that is notorious for its wide range in learning differences I expected to be working with people who realized this as well. This is not to say that the school's philosophy does not speak to the very nature of my point, but it clearly is not at the forefront of all of the staffs’ minds. This particular boy is clearly learning how to cope with what is working against him so that he can be a fully present member of his class, and I have to say that even though I do not know him well I am extremely proud of him.

I am so excited to find out more about I will be doing this semester in the classroom and I look forward to heading back to W.A.S.P.S to work closely with all those buzzing students.

Until next time,


Oh and here is the link to the school's website in case anyone is interested in checking out the school. W.A.S.P.S

Monday, February 7, 2011

I don't think I'm In Vermont Anymore....

It’s time for another update!
So this week has been filled with the classic orientation week must-do’s: academic introductions, cultural integration talks, and guided tours of bath. However, what I did not expect was the discussions with the ASE staff about night clubs, where we should go to “properly go out,” and the opportunity to drink alcohol with my soon to be tutors (professors). Not exactly what freshman orientation was like in the States that’s for sure!
Before I start ranting about every moment of every day this week, I think I will start with a list of things that I have noticed that are different about England and Bath in particular.
1.       The stove is referred to as the hob. Why I don’t know because I can’t even fathom how you derive the word hob from a cooking device.
2.       People are much more put together here regarding their clothes than in the states. I had to travel all the way to the Bath University campus to find a person wearing yoga pants or sweat pants while out and about.
3.       People are really friendly here, surprisingly. I thought that British people on a whole were much more shut up in their own little world, but when the Bus driver wiped out his phone and gps-ed the address of the school I was trying to get to for me I definitely re-evaluated my prior misconceptions.
4.       They drive on the other side of the road, which might not really seem like a big deal until you go to cross the road and you are looking in the wrong direction to search for cars coming down the road. Also, the roads are unbelievably narrow here…even on the sidewalks I need to keep an eye out, especially for all the buses.
So those are the list of things that have stuck out to me so far. Not things I originally thought I was going to watch out for, but they struck me all the same.
So looking back on the week, I think that a lot has happened. I feel like I have been here for a long time, but really it has been no time at all. On Thursday I ventured out to see my school for the first time, and it was really exciting. The head teacher and my cooperating teacher were both in France with the year 6 students on a field trip so I did not get to meet them. However, the assistant head teacher was very friendly and welcoming as was the rest of the staff that I was introduced to. Tomorrow if my first full day, and I am so excited to meet the kids and to determine my role in the classroom!
Thursday night my roommate Sarah and I went out to investigate a pub called the Bell which was recommended by us by one of the staff members at ASE. We had a general idea of where it way, but unfortunately we never found it and this lead to us wondering the city looking for a place to eat. We ended up at the Hobgoblin, which was also recommended to us. Well, after walking in and realizing that it was more of a bar than a pub and it had a basement called the Crypt, we decided to leave—we both agreed that if the people hadn’t been so creepy we would have been classic tourists and taken pictures of the Crypt sign! Anyways, we ended up at a pub finally and I was able to try the infamous fish and chips (which was really good) and a good old pint of cider…it was delish!
Saturday, I went with the program to investigate the Saturday Markets, which, I have decided, are my new favorite place to go. There are all these vendors selling cheese, jams, chocolate, flapjacks, vegetables, meat, clothes, and candy; the best part is that everything is really cheap. I bought an umbrella for 3 pounds! It’s also a really great way to interact with the local community because it is all the locals who are selling the goods. Oh, and I forgot the Tea Man—how could I forget tea, I am in England after all!

Sunday was our day to Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Lacock. We boarded a bus at 9 a.m. and went first to Stonehenge. I would suggest that anyone who visits put bricks, or anything heavy, in their pockets because I was almost blown away. It is so windy there that they have caution signs there warning visitors about the high force winds! Other than the wind it was really a cool place. All along the outskirts of it are borrows, or burial mounds, which is eerie and cool all at the same time. Then of course Stonehenge itself is amazing! It is hard to believe that people were able to build such structure without the help of modern technology. One interesting thing that Andrew Butterworth himself told us was that recently there were archeological digs taking place in the middle of the Stonehenge circle and there were cremated ashes found of several people who are believed to belong to the same family…ponder that for awhile!

After one lap around the circle we were all ready to escape the hurricane force winds so we settled back on the bus for our ride to Salisbury. It was such a great place! Andrew Butterworth gave us a tour of the cathedral there, which is massive! I don’t think that I have seen any building of that magnitude, ever—skyscrapers don’t count because most of those are ugly! Inside it is filled with memorials and tombs, as well as absolutely captivating stained glass windows. The coolest thing that I got to see was one of the original 4 Magna Carta’s! It has its own house in the back of the church, but unfortunately we were unable to photograph the exhibit L
Stained Glass Windows at the front of the church.

For all the fellow SMC-ers out there, this is the Chapel of St. Michael the Archangel.

Elysia, Zoe, Katie, Sarah (taking the pic) and I went to this adorable little pub in Salisbury where the actual building was crooked and the food was delicious!

Outside view of the Cathedral

Following, Salisbury we headed to Lacock, which is a quaint little town where numerous movies have been filmed including parts of Harry Potter. The abbey there was used for part of Hogwarts (I believe Snape’s dungeon area) and Voldomort’s house is there as well. We did not have time to visit Voldomort’s house, but we did see the Abbey, which was unfortunately under renovations so there were scaffolding structures inside the building.

The Abbey in Lacock
So, I think this concludes my novella on orientation week. Thanks for bearing with me as I discussed all the finer details! I head to school tomorrow and I hope I will be able to capture some pictures of the classroom and the building then blog on Wednesday about my first day!
My final thought is that I started with all the new things that I have noticed and learned while here for the past week, so I thought I would end with something I miss. Oddly enough, the one thing that I really miss is the smell of my shampoo! It isn’t sold here and it’s really odd to have such a different smell in my hair. But, I’m sure I can survive without it for 4 months!
Until Next Time,

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What Pants Should I Wear?

Greetings from Bath!

It is somewhat dreary here today, the temp is playing with a balmy 40 degrees and the sky is spitting raining on and off, but I did witness the sun today for a short few minutes which gives me hope that I will not be completely deprived of my Vitamin D for 4 months.

Anyways, the trek over was long and tiring. I parted with my family at Logan around 7ish on Sunday night and Jenny and I waited to board the plane for about 45 minutes. It was the first time I have ever had to take an escalator down to reach the entrance of the plane...what an experience! The flight was about 6 and a 1/2 hours. We were served a very plane-food-like dinner of lasagna and salad and we were also given a cranberry muffin that looked disgusting for breakfast. Didn't eat the muffin and barely touched the dinner. The flight was the worst part I think. I barely slept, was in and out of sleep, but maybe got 1/2 hour to an hour. Needless to say, I was exhausted when we landed. Jenny also didn't sleep much. I was crammed in between her and some other guy on the plane. I want to know what he took before he got on the plane because he was asleep basically the whole time...which also meant no bathroom breaks. (A word to the wise would be to get an aisle seat for over night flights because then you can go whenever you want!)

After getting off the plane Jenny and I found our luggage, and headed to find the right bus line and train station that we needed. After many failed attempts to get an answer that was useful from someone, we finally bought our bus ticket which dumped us off at Reading Train Station. Here we filled out forms for the railcard and bought our tickets to Bath Spa station. I even got to grab a cup of coffee and a muffin at this point...I was starving!

The train ride was tough because I was sooooooo tired! I just wanted to drift off to sleep and I had a whole two seats to myself, but we were only on the train for an hour and I didn't want to miss our that meant no sleep.

Finally we got to Bath!!!!!! Never in my life have I been so excited to just arrive where I am supposed to be! We waited for a mini-van there to take us (or me I should say...since I was the only one waiting who needed to get to Nunes House) to our living arrangements. Nunes House is an adorable, old house overlooking the Avon and some rugby fields, beyond there is an uphill climb of clustered city residential buildings. The view is beautiful from our room. But before you get too excited for me you should know that I live in what once was the attic! There are 6 accounted for floors in this building one being the basement and one being the attic. Four flights of stairs later (twice over) with 2 50 pound bags I was ready for bed!

My roommate Sarah was there to greet me. We are living together in a room and my other roommate Katie has her own room. They are both really nice and I think we are going to get along well. Katie loves to cook which is a godsend since we are on our own for meals! And Sarah, Katie, and I all found out that we are neat freaks which is really nice because we know that we all like to keep our space clean! I call that a thumbs up for first impressions!

Here are some pictures of the flat!
The Kitchen

The Breakfast Bar in the Kichen

The bathroom with the akwardly high shower...its like a death trap trying to get out of it because it is slippery and there is basically nothing to hold onto to climb out, unless you want to squat down and grab the handles on the tub?!

This it the dinning room, aka the Awkward Room. Named for the lovely (already using British terms!) combination of a spare bed and a dinning table sharing the same space!

My side of the bedroom...a mess because I was still unpacking!

Sarah's side of the room...not a mess because she hadn't started to unpack!

So there is a taste of where I am living! It is small and quaint and other than the stairs I think I am going to like it. The house is ancient so I am trying to cut it a break with the slanted flooring and the creaky stairs.

Oh, by the way, I should explain the title. Andrew Butterworth (the education and internship director, also the best man known to mankind) reminded us all kindly that when we meet our cooperating teachers on Thursday that we should not ask what kind of pants we should wear because we will get wierd stares. Pants are equivalent to underwear in America, so from now on it's trousers!

Well that is all I have for you all right now...a bit of a novel I must admit. And a boring one at that because who wants to hear about my boring traveling woes?! I will catch up with you all soon!                              


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My Life+ 2 Suitcases= Yeah Right!

You know, we spend our whole youth in school learning about the world and where we fit into it, yet I’m starting to realize how some of the things that we learned were really not applicable to our lives. I don't think that I've had any reason to use my knowledge of derivatives from A.P Calc at all since I left high school, but, I do find myself faced with a massive challenge that I was not adequately prepared for: Packing! sucks! Packing my life away into two suitcases is not my idea of a good time, nor is it easy by any means.

After hours spent in my room agonizing over my wardrobe, I think I have found a happy medium… maybe? It seems like everything is going to fit, but-seriously-I'm not 100% sure. I think I am going to have to find more things to weed out as the time gets closer. It doesn't seem possible since every article of clothing that I have packed now I actually wear on a regular basis. There are also things that I need to remember to bring that seem like they are unimportant, but when I get there would be something that I would want; nail clippers, for example. They may not seem important now, but 5 months without clipping my nails...ewww! I have also run into the issue of what to bring and what to buy there. Towels are not provided by my school and they suggest to bring them or buy them there, but I don't see how it is environmentally friendly for me to buy towels and throw them away after 5 months.

Also, the art of packing is no easy feat. Travel space bags, rolling my clothes, stuffing clothes into my shoes, and wearing the heaviest or the hardest clothes/shoes to pack: these are my tactics. They seem to be working, but I am open to any suggestions that anyone is willing to send my way.  I know that in Europe wearing the same clothes several times is more culturally acceptable than it is here, but I think that is going to be a hard mind set to let go of. I am so used to my routine that I think it is going to take some serious getting used to. Regardless of whether or not I can deal with wearing clothes over and over again, I am trying to prepare for all occasions and weather and it is really hard. I am packing for practically 3 seasons, which complicates things. I also am trying to think about traveling. For example, my friends and I are trying to plan a trip to Greece that requires a bathing suit. I also am thinking about hostels, which will most likely be my main form of accommodation when I am not in Bath, and you need shower shoes and a sleeping bag. Do you seem my predicament?! There is too much to think about and prepare for.

 But, I'm sure I have bored you all to death with my endless ranting. Other than packing, I haven’t really been doing much. I finally finished my student teaching application and sent it, which is a relief since it has been hanging over my head for my entire vacation. With my friends all either back at school or off in their study abroad countries, I’m feeling friend-sick. I think at this point it is almost harder to be at home than it would be to be abroad because I have nothing to focus on other than getting ready to go, and it is making me more and more anxious about going. With everything else that is going on, I’m really struggling with my enthusiasm. The excitement just isn’t there, unfortunately, and it is making it really hard to want to pack or to want to tie up the loose ends. But, just a couple of more days and I’ll be off. My next post will hopefully be from Bath, England!

I guess that is it for now. I welcome any suggestions that anyone has for me regarding packing. Trust me, anything is game!


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A word to the wise...


Sorry it has been so long, but my mouth has been incapacitated for most of the past week so naturally my duty was to be a couch potato. And I must say, I was able to perform that duty excellently!

My wisdom teeth are gone, all four, and I must say it was not as bad as people told me it was going to be, but I also do not wish it on anyone. My mouth was really sore for several days and I literally could barely open it. The worst part was not being able to brush my teeth for a day or about gross. Although, now that the stitches are falling out they are getting caught on my gums and it is driving me CRAZY! I just want to rip them out but I can't :(

Regardless of the fact that I just had my wisdom teeth pulled, I have always wondered why they are called wisdom teeth so I looked it up. According to they are called wisdom teeth because they usually emerge during the period of someone's life when they are supposed to be gaining some wisdom about the world. Imagine that! I get them pulled right before I leave the country for 5 months, talk about a coincidence!

Speaking of my trip, I have finally started to think about packing and how much stuff I am going to need, and let me tell you it seems to be more than I want it to be. I went to the UPS/Fed-Ex store the other day to inquire about shipping costs. Since I am only allowed to check one bag--that's right one--on the plane I was wondering what it would cost to send a box equivalent in weight to another full suitcase to England. Wait for it, Wait for it....$250!!!! And that was the smaller box...ahhh! So expensive. So, needless to say, I will not be  shipping anything that heavy anywhere, ever. Instead, I will be checking another bag for the small price of $40. What a difference! Now I just need to figure out the best way to navigate myself around a new country with all my stuff, packing light is not easy for me so this shall be interesting. But, that is all I really have to share for now. I will check in soon when the really nitty gritty packing has begun.