Monday, November 1, 2010

Technology represents all that is wrong with the world

Hello. I’m very sorry I have not posted in a while. My computer has decided to go into early retirement/die forever. I’m hoping it is just taking a breather but I fear the worst so please don’t be upset if my posts are a little uncommon.
So lately a lot has happened. I went to Stonehenge and Bristol. Bristol was a really nice city to walk around and I don’t really know what to say about Stonehenge. It is one of those things that is really amazing because you have heard about it all your life but at the same time it is a bunch of giant rocks piled in a circle so what is there to say? It was really pretty and I loved it. That’s about all I got.
My friend Summer and I have booked a ticket to Venice! We are actually going to go for five days and we are planning to make it a big trip and go through Austria, Germany, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, and Italy. I’m ridiculously excited because it sounds amazing and I have always had this desire to be able to say I’ve been to Liechtenstein or “When I was in Liechtenstein…” or “Liechtenstein is lovely that time of year.” Liechtenstein Liechtenstein Liechtenstein! It is just a really fun one to say.
I know other stuff has happened but I don’t really remember it all right now so I will have to get back to you on that. Hopefully I will get a chance to post before I head off to Liechtenstein (haha I used it).

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What do I miss the most? Mexican Food!

Ketchup on nachos is just wrong! I don't know what to do with my hands :(

Last week was my first week of classes and I think they are going to be pretty interesting. The class style is very different from what we have at RSU. Here everyone meets in a giant lecture theater and the professor talks for an hour and then we leave. There is no possible way the professors will know all of the students, luckily I am fairly easy to remember because I’m the yank (not really but I guess). I think it is nice for a semester but it definitely makes me miss RSU and all of my professors at home with our wonderful in class discussions.
Possibly my favorite experience in Wales so far happened recently. Last week was my friend Summer’s birthday so for her birthday lunch I took her to a “Mexican” restaurant. It was absolutely awful! Probably the funniest meal I have ever seen. I’m really glad I went just so I can honestly say I have had the worst imitation Mexican food ever. There was ketchup on everything. Summer and I laughed the entire time. It was everything I could do to hold myself together when the guy was taking out orders in his welsh accent. I don’t know when the last time you got ketchup in Mexican food was but it was a first for me. It was surprisingly decent to eat but I wouldn’t quite call it Mexican. I think the worst part was when I told the people I live with they didn't seem to see anything wrong with it.

Instead of rice and beans I was given "chips" and ketchup mixed with salsa

There were potato wedges and ketchup in Summer's chicken quesadilla

On Saturday I got to go to a castle in West Wales. Apparently it was one of the last castles built by a prince of Wales. It was really neat and then I had tea in a fancy house on the castle grounds and walked through a little museum type of thing. You could tell it was a bit interactive for kids but I think I enjoyed it more than the two little boys I was there with. I really liked the castle because it isn’t a big tourist destination. It is mostly locals that go there for a nice day out so it was a bit less crowded and a little more laid back. I think my favorite thing was when one of the little boys wanted to play hide-and-seek. Turns out a castle is an amazing place for hiding.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

So much has happened lately I don’t even know where to begin!
1. I finished my two week class on British Politics and Culture (Post WW2) on Thursday so I am trying to write a 2,500 word essay for that. The good thing is we had the option of choosing one of six questions to answer and one of them is about literature. I am not too concerned. The writing style and formatting are going to be a little different but what I am the most nervous about is the British spelling. Honestly I’m not that great with American spelling so this could be a disaster.
2. The other day I went to Bath. It was so amazing! I walked through the Roman Baths and even got to visit the Jane Austen Center. I read Persuasion over the summer in preparation for this trip and it was wonderful. I think I gave myself away as a nerd by the excitement I showed about going.
3. I moved into my house in the student village on Wednesday. Each house has three floors and holds ten people. Six other people moved in yesterday. Five are from England and one is from Northern Ireland. I like everybody so far. We all hung out in the kitchen yesterday and talked. I was informed by one person that if I had not been there they probably would have all sat around in silence because British people are “reserved”. Oops. Well I’m American and I can’t survive an awkward silence.
4. I booked my trip to Paris! It’s the first weekend of December so I hope it is decorated for Christmas at least a little. Christmas is my favorite!
I know I forgot something but for now that is all.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Field Trips :)

So today the weather decided that it would not rain but it was completely necessary for it to be cold. There is no use arguing with it so I bundled up and I am glad I did because I went to Big Pit and St. Fagan’s.
Big Pit is an old coal mine that has been transformed into a museum. We took a tour that was guided by a former miner through the actual mine. So we went down the mine shaft and walked all through the tunnels. At one point the tunnel kept getting smaller and I felt like I was in a really dirty version of Willy Wonka. The farther down we went the colder it got. It was really creepy but also very interesting. Mining was huge in Wales and is still to this day a pretty big deal.
After that we went to St. Fagan’s which is this area where they have taken old buildings from all over Wales and reassembled them. It represents a wide span of time. My favorite part was the castle. It was so pretty. I also really enjoyed the chapel. It was really cute. We only had two hours there which is not enough time to see even half of the buildings so I definitely plan to return. It really did feel like a place right out of a movie. There were tall hedges on both sides of the path for quite a bit of it so I felt like I had entered the Triwizard Tournament.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Easy like a Sunday Morning

Today was a great day! I went with a few friends to church. Afterwards they invited us to stay and have coffee and tea. I had tea and they put milk in it. I thought that was odd but it turned out to be pretty good. A guy named Owen said “Okie” sounds like some sort of dog biscuit. It was really funny.
After church a couple of friends and I went out to the Gower Peninsula. It was quite the challenge to make it to the bus on time. We walked from campus to the bus stop that would take us out there. We had to power walk to make it and as we came around the corner the bus was about to leave. We thought twenty-five minutes would be enough but for future excursions I’m going to say it isn’t because we were booking it and barely made it in time.
It was so pretty where we went. I can understand a lot better now the joys of taking a drive in the countryside because it is gorgeous! The thing about driving is the roads are tiny and the busses are huge. At one point we were six inches from a stone wall on one side and six inches from another bus on the other. That was after reversing until we found a place in the road both busses could fit. The good news is we made it. The place we went had these tall cliffs with a beach below. We didn’t have enough time to go down to the water because we had to make it back to the bus in time but we climbed all over the top. It might just be the prettiest place I have ever been. I just wanted to lay in the grass and listen to the ocean all day.
When we got back to town we grabbed food from “Yummy Yummy Chinese Takeaway” for dinner. I love the food over here because they have everything. Chinese, Dutch, Indonesian, Indian, Thai, Italian, and just about anything else you can think of except Mexican. This is sad but I get a kitchen in a couple of weeks and will probably try to make something mexi-ish then. Tomorrow I start my two week class about British culture. I’m pretty excited for the class but I’m not looking forward to being stuck inside instead of out exploring. The weather has just been so amazing I feel like I’m wasting it every time I set foot indoors.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sunny Days :)

I have made it safe to Swansea and the weather has been amazing so far! I was expecting it to be horrible, cold, and rainy from the moment I got off the plane but that has definitely not been the case. I have done so much already that I don’t even know where to begin. For the past couple of days we have been exploring Swansea, a few wrong turns can go a long way. We got lost a couple of times but I think it was all part of the experience and now we know our way around a lot better.
Today we went to Mumbles. It is a cute little part of Swansea right along the rock beach. It was a really low tide but it was still really pretty. We walked along the rock beach and ate ice cream on the pier. I guess there is a really big Italian influence here so the ice cream was amazing! Then we had to go back to get ready because today the rest of the American students arrived and we were all supposed to meet for our welcome dinner. We went to a place called Pub on the Pond. It was pretty good and most importantly right by campus.
For the first two weeks I will be taking a class that is for American students studying in Swansea and we are all living on campus. The class is about British politics and culture. At the end of the two weeks I will be moving into my real housing and will be living with anywhere from eight to twelve people. That is when the real term will start. I’m a little nervous but mostly excited to get started.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Tomorrow, Tomorrow!

In the past few months I have tried to prepare myself for my fast approaching stint in Europe. A couple of months ago I decided I would try to like seltzer water. I don’t know if this is because I wanted to be able to say “I’d like a bubbly water” and feel really cultured or if it was so I could go ahead and kill all of the taste buds in my mouth. Needless to say this failed and I returned to my good friend sweet tea. After the epic failure of my first attempt, on the fourth of July I watched a rugby game which consisted of a group of giant hairy men in really short shorts colliding in attempts to retrieve an incredibly awkward shaped ball. This is beyond my grasp but fairly entertaining. I have listened to Beatles music, read Jane Austen, and reread the Harry Potter series. I would have done all three of these anyway but they seem related. Perhaps the most successful of my attempts has been to go to my first full soccer game. After much confusion and explanation from my friend I still did not understand the game at all but it was an enjoyable experience all the same. I get the basic idea and now know some of the sacred terms like corner kick and free kick. So at this point I have given up fitting in and am just hoping to get a Welsh Corgi out of the deal. I’m an Oklahoma gal who likes football, sweet tea, and is not afraid to say it. I have already determined what I will do at the first sign of trouble. I will simply say “Well gollygee. Sure am sorry about that.” or “Dog gonnit. Could you gimme a hand here?” I’m just joking. I’m really excited to go. I’m crazy busy with last minute preparations but soon it will all be over. Tomorrow I board the plane and by this time Tuesday I will be in Wales!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cambridge and Brighton Beach

Yesterday, we took a train to Cambridge, which is a rival college to Oxford. The atmosphere is much more relaxed and laid back than in Oxford. There were many students laying out tanning in the lawn of the college! We went punting down a river, which was awesome! Punting is basically using a long pole to steer a small, shallow boat that looks somewhat like a canoe. It's amazing how many bicycles there are, people young and old just fly down the street on the bike.
Today, we went to Brighton beach by train. When we got there, we were so cold because we had worn shorts and were ready to lay out in the sun. It did warm up after about an hour after we got there and it made things much more enjoyable. They had a pier with rides, shops, and huge arcade that we spent several hours on. Sara and I got temporary tattoos of the UK's flag. The beach was really crowded and a lady ran into me and smeared my tattoo before it was completely dry, so that put a damper on things for a bit, but you can't be upset when your in such a beautiful place with friends! We only have one more day in London, then on Monday it's back to America!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Oxford and London

On Wednesday we went to Oxford. It is a famous university here in England that is composed of many colleges. We got to go into some of them. Every building there seems to have history behind it. Oxford is about an hour and twenty minutes away from London, via high speed rail. The countryside is really pretty. Some of the scenes from Harry Potter were filmed here, because many of the places look similar to things you would find at Hogwarts, haha. We also went by the Eagle and Child, which is a place where C.S. Lewis and Tolkien would discuss their books with one another and exchange ideas.

Today we went back into London. The first thing we did was got to Buckingham Palace. There we took pictures and witnessed the changing of the guard. That was pretty cool. After that, we went back to Parliament, where we actually got to go inside for awhile. We weren't aloud to take pictures though. We also went on a cruise down the Thames River, a river that runs through some London.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Liverpool- Home of the Fab Four

Today we got up early and took a two hour train ride to Liverpool (home of the Beatles.) On the way there you can't help but notice all the yellow fields, there are yellow flowers that are just everywhere! We went to two Beatles museums that had original memorabilia such as John Lennon's glasses. They even created a "yellow submarine" for you to walk through. We also went to the Cavern club which was where the Beatles used to play quite frequently. Liverpool is also a dock, and the Titanic sailed away from there and was intended to head to New York. We got our fill of Beatles music and headed back to the train for another two hour ride back to London.
We decided we were ready for dinner and had been craving something American, so we found an old fashion 50's diner with milkshakes, burgers and fries. It was just what we were looking for to end our day!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

London has been super fun! On Friday we went to Trafalgar Square, which is the center of London. There were many cool buildings around the square, including the National Gallery, which we got to go in. The National Gallery is home to many famous paintings and included work from famous painters such as Michelangelo. After that, we went to St Nicholas in the Field, which is a famous church in Trafalgar Square. We listened to a concert there, which was very good! We then went to a section of London called Marble's Arch. It has many shops and a park. We found a particularly good store called Primark. We ended up buying a lot of stuff from there because the items were relatively cheap (not just London cheap, most of the clothes were cheaper then they would be in the US.)

On Saturday we went to the Market on Portobello Road. This was a famous market, that has been in many movies throughout the years. It was really, really big. Shops and stalls lined the road for some distance. They had antiques, new items, food, and clothes. After that, we were able to watch the FA Cup championship in a restaurant here in London. It was crazy because people were wearing jerseys and yelling at the tv. They are really serious about their football!

Today we went to the Tate Modern art museum and viewed Macbeth at Shakespeare's Globbe Theater. The art museum was very cool, it is made from an old power station. It had seven levels of modern art that included artists such as Dali and Picasso. Macbeth was really cool. We stood in front of the stage while the play was going on. Many times the actors would come down here and made people part of the performance. I have had a lot of fun so far! Our trip is about halfway over. We have another week left: it should be fun!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Yesterday was Amazing.

I woke up this morning and realized that I had in fact seen Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and The London Eye yesterday and no it had not been a dream. I cannot begin to put into words how awesome it was to look inside the Abbey where so many Kings, Queens, and even Charles Darwin are buried in beautiful, ancient tombs. The Abbey has super high ceilings, stain glass windows, and to imagine the different things that took place there so many years before is just mind boggling.
We also took many pictures of Big Ben, but pictures can't really do it any of these things justice. The sheer size of them is enough to stop you in your tracks, until you nearly get ran over by a speeding double decker bus.
We rode the London eye, which gave us a panoramic view of London. The "flight" as they call it took about 30 minutes to go all the way around. I got an ice cream cone from a street vendor afterwords and walked along the Thames river. London has been a whirlwind of experiencing a different culture, like when we asked for silverware the waiter was like "uh I'll get you picks and shovels." :)

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

London- Day 2

We spent the day touring the British Museum, the British Library, and some of the streets in the city. After waking up from 12 hours of sleep, we got to eat an English Breakfast instead of a Continental Breakfast, which includes Ham, eggs, and baked beans. It was sunny this morning, but now it is cloudy and sprinkles on and off. We used the underground to get to the British Museum. The museum was really cool; we got to see the Rosetta Stone, pieces from the Parthenon, and other things from throughout history. The museum was really large. They had many pieces from ancient Egypt, as well as Ancient Rome and Greece, and Europe.

After eating at the museum we went to walking the streets of London. This is a HUGE city. Everyone is always busy and in a hurry. We went through many shops. A lot of them were souvenior shops but we also went into some electronic stores and clothing stores. We walked for a long time. We decided to go the British Library, which has a lot of historical exhibits. We went through a map exhibit and the histories exhibit. The map exhibit was really cool; it had maps that were really old. Even though the old maps were not as accurate as ours are now, they were surprisingly accurate with what they had to use to make it. The history exhibit had a lot of old documents that the British Library had collected. I saw the Magna Carta, notes from Da Vinci's notebooks, and illuminated manuscripts. We weren't allowed to take pictures there :/.

We went into King's Cross Station and walked around for sometime. That is a famous train station in London. Then we took the underground back to the hotel!!! It has been a really fun day. I'll post some pictures later on!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

First Post from London!

I'm Kate and I will be updating you about our two week trip in London (May 10-24th.) Jacob will also be blogging, but even though we are on the same trip it's nice to have different perspectives. I'm majoring in Community Counseling and I am a transfer student so that makes me a junior at RSU.
There are 5 students and Dr. Ford who is keeping a good eye on us. We met in Tulsa Monday morning and our plane left at 10:50a.m. central, we arrived at 12:30p.m. in Houston, TX and had a few hour layover. We took off at around 3:45p.m. and were in the air a little over 10 hours which was an hour longer than planned! We arrived at the London Heathrow airport (which by the way is the third busiest airport in the world)at 7:45a.m. London time (which is six hours ahead of central time.)
The plane was very large and each person got there own interactive T.V. screen so that you could play movies, T.V. shows and games. I played pinball for awhile then decided to watch some food shows and the movie "It's Complicated." I then attempted to sleep which lately has been extremely unsuccessful :-/ If I can manage to get over the jet lag it should be smooth sailing or rowing for that matter since I hear we are going to try that in a few days!
We checked into our hotel, it's clean, friendly, and very small, but that's to be expected in the here in England. We rode the underground or what the everyone calls "the tube." I didn't realize there would be small things that I needed to be mindful of such as when you are walking down stairs or the street you always keep to the left. This is exactly opposite of how we do it in the United States!
The people in London seem to be very friendly, but they all are in big rush! There was a man in a nice suit who was in such a hurry, that he fell right in front of us coming around the corner, he got back up and started power walking again!
We got to eat at a pub just a few minutes ago, they serve everything you would imagine they would chips (fries), English peas are a side for a lot of meals except of course they call just them peas. We rode on a red double decker bus and I'm going to upload some pictures from that and just walking down the streets.