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!