Friday, 30 July 2010

Je Ne Sais Quoi

Alright guys, I am definitely slacking on the blogging. As each day passes, I think to myself: "Man, I need to blog about this, but wait. I can't, because I haven't finished writing about the last 3-4 days." So I'm making it a priority to write this entry even though I am feeling whoozy from tonight's events (which I need to blog about as well). Continuing on the last blog...

Day 3
So we woke up at 6:00 and decided we wanted to see the Pantheon. We headed toward the metro station to figure out where we would go from there. My classmate looked at the metro map and asked me how we had gotten to the Notre Dame Cathedral so I examined the map for a few seconds and showed him the highlighted points. Can you guess where this went? Yep. He didn't believe me. "No, I don't think so. I'm asking you where we went yesterday for the Notre Dame." I re-examined the map and said "Yes, these are the lines we took to get there." He wouldn't have it. So I waited a few minutes to wait for him to figure out and the light bulb went off for him. Voila; "Oh, you were right, never mind." I brushed that event off since it was early off in the morning and I like to be optimistic. So off we went. As soon as we got off the metro, we found ourselves weaving through the streets and getting somewhat lost. We walked aimlessly through different alley way hills. Hit and missed a lot on streets were trying to get onto. The entire 20 minutes, I again had to listen to him going "Tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk, tsk" over and over again in his frustration. He was constantly complaining with things like "This is so stupid, Gosh, I can't stand this, Ugh, Come on, Where is this stupid place?!, I'm sick of this"... the list goes on, I kid you not and I simplified his complaints. I can't stand it when people complain openly for long periods of time. I like to complain in my mind, and I did just that. Besides, it wasn't even that bad to get lost in a city like Paris.

When we reached the Pantheon, we took some pictures and then realized it wouldn't open for another hour or so. So we decided to go and see the Saint Chapelle church. Boy was that a waste of 5 euros. It definitely wasn't worth it. I'd never heard of it, I was being super stingy with my money refusing to take out more euros than I already had, and I was saving it for Marie Antoinette's estate. I caved in and went in since it was supposed to be famous for it's history with the Byzantine structure and all. I'm a sucker for history and architecture, but boy was this a let down. It was such a let down that I didn't even bother taking pictures. I'm probably being excessively harsh on this thing, but unless I'm a fanatical history/architectural major, I'm not going to be crazy about spending 5 euros on this thing that I could literally see within 2 minutes.

After this short little excursion, we went back up to the Pantheon. This place was also 5 euros but boy was it absolutely worth every bit of it. I appreciated the structure of it, every little nook and cranny, every piece of painting on the ceilings, walls, the caricatures along each far side of the walls... even the huge pendulum hanging from the dome. It was almost unequivocally matched to anything I'd seen thus far in Paris. For more and better pictures of these, you can check my facebook album.
After seeing the ground floor of this place, we headed to the tombs of many famous people such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau (who is pictured above), Voltaire, and Victor Hugo among many others. It might sound creepy but I was enthralled to see these tombs and to see such amazing tombs kept in amazing condition for years!
Each tomb I visited alone in silence, my classmate would follow, and as soon as I would leave, he'd yell "Ohmigosh, this is so freaky!! Ahh, I'm coming with you!" It was really embarrassing... Oh well. I enjoyed it and got the pictures I wanted. :)

On the way to Versailles, I started losing it. This guy asked me if I was a fob. No joke. I really don't mind if a guy doesn't know what the meaning is, asks me, and carries on. Even if it is joking. But no. I told him no, I'm not one. I defined it for him and what we tend to characterize them as. Not to be mean or anything but this guy is the literal definition of fob even without the oddities of one. Instead of understanding what I had just told him, he laughed at me hysterically and began using the term "fob" in the most derogatory way possible towards me. When someone does that to me, I find that pretty offensive even when I kindly ask them to stop. That string of "Come on, let's go fob! We don't have all day fob!" continued for at least another 10 minutes before I really started hinting that his name-calling toward another friend of mine was impolite and that she was taken aback when he'd done that to her. Finally got him to close his mouth the rest of the way.

Once we got to the Versailles, I made it a point I was going to see the Marie Antoinette estates and nothing else because I didn't think I'd have enough time to do other things. He went to check that this was the line we needed to be in, but not before asking me to hold his things which he did the entire trip. (My shoulder was hurting from all the huge water bottles and souvenirs he was buying. I'd hinted to him before to get a bag, but he obviously knew he could take advantage of me.)

Well we first walked on the premise and the only ticket signs were on the left side. There was a huge line which we stood in for 2 and 1/2 hours only for me to find out they were selling all the tickets except Marie Antoinette's tickets. Seriously? They couldn't have huge signs telling you where to buy tickets for separate things? They couldn't even write it in the brochure? I can't have been the only idiot to do something like this could I?

My friend got his Palace tickets and I told him I had to go to the gardens to purchase my ticket. At least that's what the lady told me to do. So off I went to the gardens. The ticket line didn't look right so I asked someone in charge of taking the tickets how to get them, and she told me I had to get tickets to the gardens to get to the estate. Screw it, I'd pay extra money to see the one thing I wanted to see in all of Paris. I get in line, ask a few other people the same question and they all tell me yes. I get to to the front and the lady tells me this isn't where I buy the tickets and that I have to walk completely out of the palace grounds and walk for a half hour to the Queen's Gate to get the tickets. Alright, no problem. I'll keep my cool and just take it as it comes. Off I go taking the longest route possible that she told me, walk a half hour to this place only to be told the same thing: You don't get the tickets here... so I walk another half hour back and find a short cut back to the Palace... hooray. Thanks woman who works at the Palace. So by now, I have wasted a little over 3 and 1/2 hours. I continued to ask 7 more people telling them so-and-so told me this, where can I get the tickets. I got told to go into a group line, which was obviously wrong and others told me to get it in the gardens, to get it at the Queen's Gate.

By this time, there was no way I'd be able to get my tickets and enjoy walking leisurely throughout the estate. I was not going to pay 10 or 15 euros just to run through the place in an hour because they would close in an hour and a half. If I walked back to the Queen's gate, I'd lose half an hour. Out of frustration, I just walked to the golden gates of the Palace, completely frustrated with all of the nonsense I had to hold in and deal with from my classmate... and slumped against the wall crying uncontrollably. These guys just screwed me over for a total of 4 hours and 15 minutes, which is basically my entire day. How awesome is that? The French were really rude, too. It's true what they say. Screw that. I'm sorry I never grew up learning your language and don't know my way around here.

I waited another hour and a half for my classmate. He found me, asked me about everything, and I was surprised he felt bad for me. He didn't laugh. He actually felt bad for me. At least that made me feel better. We went to cheer me up with some ice cream, which made me the happiest little kid ever. It doesn't take much for me to be happy again. I kept the napkin from this ice cream place, and now I can't find it, but this ice cream place is amazing. Just know it is right by the Versailles. I wanted to buy their chocolates and bring them home for friends!

Afterwards, we went to McDonald's for dinner. We were running low on money so we just had our little meals and watched some French MTV stuff. I was so happy when Lady Gaga came on and this guy said he didn't like her. I don't mind us having differences, but I'm pretty sure if I hear you singing Telephone in the Louvre for 20 minutes straight, that means you like the song. This guy would also state obvious things like "French songs are weird" but then say "because they have English." I told him pretty much every country had songs with some English in it like Korea, Japan, China, Spain, etc.

The rest of the day actually went by pretty fast. We visited the Eiffel tower and Arc de Triomphe again at night. I really thought by this time that most of Paris was over-rated. Especially the Eiffel. We stood in line to get up to the top and while waiting in line, my friend asked me how I was liking the place. I told him I was a little more fond of British culture and history along with the environment and people. At this point, this guy called me a real let down. It's nice to know I can't have an opinion.
We left the Eiffel tower after I bought some souvenirs from within it and headed toward the metro. At some point, we heard the crowd do a wave of "OooOoooOo." I turned around to see the Eiffel tower not just lit up, but glittering. Now this... this was something more special. I changed my mind; the Eiffel tower is not over-rated. It was wondrous at night! We stood in awe just watching it for a long time before taking way too many pictures of this thing. We decided to do the same with the Arc before heading home. Hardest three days of my life were over. Or so I thought.

Day 4
We went to the Basilique Sacre Ceour and upon arrival, we saw some blacks blocking the entrance to the church. My classmate and I tried to walk by without them accosting us but they got to him first and wouldn't let me leave. They started telling us to not be scared because they were from the church. Yea right. I tried to leave, but he insisted I stay in a sort of forceful manner. By the time they made these lame bracelets, they started asking us for paper money in the most aggressive manner possible. I told them I only had coins; thank god I had my pouch on me. They'd never know, but then they'd never let me go. My classmate on the other hand gave them 10 euros in paper money, but they still were not satisfied. They wanted him to pay for me, too. By this time, he started making a huge scene so other people would see that they were about to mug us, and because of this they backed off. Thank God for that. This crazy guy I was with told me he was angry, which I was, too... but not but 10 minutes later, he was telling me how exciting it was to experience such a thing. Tell me this guy is a little nutty.

Anyway, we walked up another huge flight of stairs similar to the Notre Dame. The sight was amazing from the top as usual. Seeing France from the top never gets old. After the Sacre Ceour, I wanted to go shopping and have a relaxing day so we took the metro down to where the Grand Palace was. Apparently, though, many of the streets were blocked off because of the Tour de France. I didn't want to wait to see bikers coming through because I had a feeling they would be setting up for a while, and I'd rather shop then come back to watch. Instead, this guy made it a point he was going to stay and watch because he wanted to see Lance Armstrong. Fine. I waited just a few feet away from this guy for 3 hours. A parade happened for the last hour that I was there before getting sick of standing in the heat, swarmed in a huge tight crowd. I looked over to see if my classmate was still there, but he wasn't. I walked to the other side of the street to see if I could find him but he was no where to be seen.
I couldn't believe he left me. Paris is shady and especially the metro, which I had to take by myself. If I didn't know how to work the metro it would've been a disaster but thank God I could figure it out. I made it back to my hotel thinking he would meet me there, so I fell asleep for another hour. By this time, it was 4:40. I headed up to see if my friend was in his room and he was. Sleeping. He woke up laughing at me in disbelief that I had waited an extra 2 hours for him on the streets and in the hotel. This guy... He told me he didn't see me and didn't bother to come find me and tell me he was leaving. He left to the freaking Eiffel tower to get crepes. Can you believe that? And when he got into the hotel, he didn't bother to see if I was around or make sure I was okay. He just laughed at me. I was incredulous at all this. Was this guy for real???

That definitely took the cake. Cherry on the whip cream. Leave me in shady Paris, France in a huge crowd where I have to make a journey around all by myself in the underground creepy system. Yep. The next day, we left the hotel but not before the guy realized he left his camera there. He left me outside in the dark 3 blocks away at 4:45 in the morning to watch his things by the metro for a good 20 minutes. So awesome, I tell you.

So there you have it. My trip to France.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Paris ≠ J'adore, C'est la Vie.

Well, as most of you have figured out, much has happened since my last post. I was excited to be finished with my final paper and to be off to romantic Paris. I came back and quite unfortunately, disappointed and angry. The looming cloud over my head has finally dissipated but since this blog is an honest account of my time abroad, I need to revisit those awful emotions again. So I will divide this blog up into 2 different days at a time so that it will maybe be easier on your eyes. I will, however, leave one pretty big situation out of this blog for certain reasons. It was a pretty upsetting one, but I don't feel it is appropriate to post here... hope you don't mind. But without further ado...

The trip to Luton airport Wednesday night went by pretty fast since I was pretty anxious. We left the pub in Brighton at around 7:00 pm after a friendly meal with our tutor and made it back to campus by 7:45 pm. My company consisted of a classmate who shall go unnamed. We went to his room to gather up his duffle bag, last minute directions, and refreshments for the trip. I caught myself acting like a mom when I had him check for his passport (which he would have left had I not reminded him), tickets for the train, and confirmations for the flight as well as the hotel. I just wanted to make sure I wouldn't be traveling alone or have a companion stranded and confused about what to do.

Well we headed off, took a train for about an hour and a half as well as a bus to the airport. After that we attempted sleeping from 12:00 - 4:30, which went unsuccessful since I was anxious about missing our flight. Basically, I got no sleep all the way to Paris, but I didn't mind. I was excited and too filled with feelings of responsibility. My classmate was constantly falling asleep and I had some natural instinct to stay awake for the both of us.

Day 1
We made it safely to our hotel with the kind help of an elderly French woman, and I knocked out for an hour before taking a shower. It wasn't long before I got a really upsetting phone call and had to go down to deal with it. (This is the part that I'm going to leave out.) After that situation, I was completely upset that my classmate suggested we go out to blow some steam off. Our first stop? The Arc de Triomphe. Getting there was pretty easy. I quickly realized that much of Paris smells like Pee and is pretty shady-- even where all the tourist attractions are. Aside from all that, however, the Arc was absolutely amazing. It's in the center of a roundabout and it automatically commands attention and authority. Perhaps more than the Eiffel Tower. We walked beneath it and looked at the amazing carvings and took a few snapshots. We then headed back to the metro station to get to the Eiffel Tower and get some crepes.
It wasn't long before my classmate realized he carelessly placed his metro card worth 50 euros in his sweater pocket which could easily blow out in the wind. Why anyone would do that as a tourist, I don't know... but I was definitely more careful about something that small, light, and expensive as that. He started screaming uncontrollably in the station a few times which I awkwardly had to watch as other people gawked at us. He ended up buying a few more tickets that could only get you in certain parts of Paris for another 12 Euros (all the while making a scene at the machine as I gladly watched from afar). When we got to another station, he managed to buy the actual euro card. This time, his card was only 20 euros, which he boasted to me in the most nasty way possible and laughed at me "You got jipped!" That wasn't annoyingly rude or anything, but I just laughed it off and replied along the lines of "Yea, it's too bad. Although we both did need that card to get out of the airport." I was so tempted to remind him that he got the same card I did because we needed it, but something clicked in my mind and I found out his metro card wasn't going to allow him to go through all the zones in Paris. So again, he needed to head back to buy a different metro card. The 50 euro one. Oh, what the prideful get themselves into.

So altogether, he spent over 120 Euros just on travel purposes. Can you believe how crazy that is?? Whew. We finally made it near the Eiffel tower, got some chocolate crepes, took some pictures by the Eiffel and headed home. Heading home was difficult and annoying because my classmate kept wanting food but then changing his mind on whether to eat or not for a half hour, but we eventually made our way home.

Day 2
The next morning, I was excited for a new day. We woke up at 6:00 and got to the Notre Dame around 8:00. It was a beautiful site to behold from outside, especially as the sun was finally beginning to dawn on the building. There was no line when we got there and walked in easily.

I honestly wasn't expecting much out of this place, but by the time I had made my round around the entire bottom part of it, I was amazed and reminded of its history. I absolutely loved the gothic structure of the building, the chandeliers, and holy places along the sides of the cathedral.
Walking down the aisles and in the silence made me want to get on my knees and actually have a conversation with God about my struggling faith. That's how amazing this place was.
It was a truly amazing experience to walk around the Cathedral with very few people inside of it.

After walking out, we wandered around and my curiosity brought my attention to the bell towers. Hate me for this, but I was thinking of the Disney movie and wondering what the bell towers looked like. Could we actually make our way up there? I was expecting more than just the bottom of the Cathedral (which I was expecting to be bigger from my preconceptions). It turned out we could actually walk up the bell tower. We waited for a half hour for them to allow us to walk in. For security reasons, they only let 20 people through every 10 minutes. We walked al the way up. All 400 steps, which my companion noted to me several times but didn't remember saying it.

We saw "Emmanuel," the biggest bell in the tower. It was absolutely amazing to take a gander at. Every time I see something so old and historical, I can't believe I am looking at something from a long distant past. You know it's good when the things you look at make you ponder what living in those times would be like.
The entire time going up and down the tower and even during lunch, my classmate continually reiterated the plans for the day and changing them as he saw fit. It got quite annoying and I just went along with his string of tangents; I learned to tune him out after a few hours. Getting to the Louvre was even more frustrating. "Sortie" means exit in French and there are signs in big bold letters-- you just can't miss it. Then there's the entrance where you have machines to swipe your metro card, which clearly is the way to the metro. Well, this guy didn't know which way to go, so I just politely smiled and pointed in the direction of the machines without saying anything. He, on the other hand, spoke down to me as if I was an idiot and said I was going the wrong way, so we walked toward the exit incase for some magical reason he was right... literally 10 seconds into walking, he realized "Oh wait, it's where the machines are! This says the exit!" Then proceeded to make it my fault that we walked in the direction he wanted to even though I motioned toward the correct route in the first place. But to avoid conflict, I just walked in silence behind him.

I was so happy when we made it to the Louvre. This was a place where I could just walk in silence and not have to deal with any problems.

I didn't exactly want to speed through something that takes a day or more, but seeing as I only had 4 days, I needed to. We saw all the things you'd expect like the Venus de Milo, amazing French paintings, and amazing relics from ancient times.
We were meandering throughout the huge sections of the Louvre and among our first stops, we saw the Mona Lisa encased in a small gallery to one of the side rooms. It took a while to get to the front in a huge and tough crowd. I waited patiently and courteously, however. It wasn't worth getting hurt over or angry burning eyes on the back of my head. I eventually made it to the front, got some pictures, then looked at the painting for only but a few seconds before letting others have their turn. I'd hate to say this, but I think the painting is just a bit over-rated. Perhaps I'm not as cultured as I would think I am, but it really seemed like many of the other paintings. I mean, I saw other paintings where eyes followed me wherever I went. With the Mona Lisa, I didn't get to walk in front of her and pace around to see whether her eyes were actually magical and followed me. I guess that's why I didn't think much of the piece, but at least I saw it. If I ever go again, maybe I'll take another gaze into her eyes and rethink on my opinion.

We continued to trudge along the long halls and I fell in love with many of the sculptures including the ones of Athena, Artemis, and Diana since those are my favorite deities of all time.

We saw many other things, but I think it's just one of those things you have to go and see for yourself. I can't exactly explain everything for something that takes a day or more to get through normally. All in all, I was impressed and so very satisfied with this part of the trip. We made it through the Louvre in about 4-5 hours! I think I had the legs of Zeus by the end of that day. Walking up 400 steps and probably another 500+ more from the Louvre.

We got back to our hotel hungry like lions. We got directions to places to eat, but my classmate wouldn't listen to me... so I just followed him. The stubborn guy really just thought I was full of lies or really incompetent. Maybe both. So we went back, asked for directions again, and then he realized he was wrong. When he figured out I was right, he called me a jerk, even though I didn't say anything... Sometimes, I wonder how trips can turn out so annoyingly terrible when you're just taking the backseat and kindly letting everyone run the show just to avoid conflict...

Anyway, that's my blog for the first two days of Paris. :) And, if you're curious about that person reading this blog, I've taken all measures to make sure this won't be seen.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Hey there! I haven't been updating much mostly because the last week and a half, I have been prepping for this final week of the first session. It's crazy how fast time flies by here. When your sessions are only 4 weeks, that changes a lot of things. It makes me wonder how we can learn so much from just having class three times a week for an hour and a half. Apparently it is possible, though, since I just wrote a 7 page paper.

Last week, I saw Wicked with some friends, which I was happy about. Although, I have to say I was actually pretty disappointed. I loved the British accents and the different funny lines that they dropped within the musical, but the Elphaba we got wasn't that good. She didn't have as much power in her voice and was constantly off pitch a lot. I guess I'm kind of picky for someone who isn't a singer, but regardless, it's hard when you've been so involved with music your entire life. Intonation is drilled into you and you never listen to music the same way for the rest of your life. The most disappointing part of the musical was that she struggled to hit the high F in Defying Gravity and couldn't hold on to any of the notes before her voice would slip. The second act was better, though, I'll give her that. I dunno. I suppose I just expected that when someone pays money for something and this musical is held in such high esteem, they'd expect them to find someone who can get the job done. :/ Then again, everyone probably has off days and maybe that just happened to be one of them. At least Glinda was good!

Anyway, after I give my group presentation in class today, I am going into town to "drink" with my tutor and some classmates... especially since some of them are leaving after this session. I haven't decided whether I'm going to have a drink, really... but I am going because I'd love to spend time with my tutor outside of class. He's quite the character regardless of how tiny he is. He's still very intimidating, but I think outside of class, we'll get to see what he's really like. :) Then after that, I'll be taking a 3 hour train ride around 9pm tonight to Luton airport... on my way to Paris, France!

I'm a little sad my friends will be leaving since they are the ones I do just about everything with. That means I'll have to push myself again to make new friends, but I think it'll be easier this time around. :) Plus, I have things to look forward to. The day after I get back from Paris, I am going to London to watch Giselle and Serenade!! :) I cannot wait! I have never seen Giselle and Serenade is one of my absolute favorite ballets. So I suppose until I get back from Paris, you'll just have to wait for a post with pictures :)


Friday, 16 July 2010

That best explains me yesterday and kind of for the rest of the week.

A lot of people in my class who did class reports had them sent back with the tutor tearing their papers to shreds, basically... so they all had to do it over. When it was my turn yesterday, I got such crazy anxiety attacks, that after a day of working on it, I just sent it in.
One friend who had edited hers got the report sent back a second time! At that point, I was ready to throw up from worrying. I waited until 12:45 am while working on my essay to see if he would send me something saying I had to re-do my report, but no. I got a terrible migraine for the second day in row from stressing myself out so much. Luckily, when I got home from a day out in Brighton, I got a pleasant email that said I had done "a very good job." :)

I was also stressing out because I wanted to get my 2500 word essay done by tonight as it was originally due Monday. Saturday, I would be going to London all day so I needed to have it done by tonight. I was a big pile of anxious-ness. I was exactly like that little bunny up there (which is a picture I took today in town!). Fortunately, he moved the date to Thursday. Phew! But I still want to get this done by tonight since I want to edit my paper and still have a group presentation to do in the coming final week. I'm off to work some more! Cheerio.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Let's have a looksie shall we?

It's quite clear I have nothing better to do than blog, right? Actually, quite the contrary unfortunately. :/ I should really be working on my report which my tutor so graciously piled onto me today when I already have a final paper due on Monday. That final paper requires a lot of research and reading out of books we weren't assigned over the last two weeks. One session here goes by so quickly!
A week from now, I will be in Paris, France! The only trip I have really planned outside of England. Everyone here is going on crazy trips one right after another like Spain, then Germany, then Moscow, then Italy, and so on. I would love to go to the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Moscow... but I feel so bad spending my parents' money. Plus I'd like to enjoy what I can out of England since I am studying here after all. Musicals, ballets, and other castles are good enough for me. :)
This past weekend, I went to the Isle of Wight with a friend. I woke up at 5:00 am, took a shower and packed for a long day. I met my friend at 6:15 and we caught a train earlier than we had booked it for. Once we got to Portsmouth, we caught a ferry to the Isle of Wight. The first thing we did was figure out how to catch a bus to Newport, which is basically the center of the Isle.

Once we got there, we decided to go see the Carisbrook Castle. We hiked on up to the castle which probably took 45 minutes. The wall we had to walk around was a mile long, but it was absolutely beautiful. Above is a picture from when we were walking up on the walls around the castle. It was absolutely beautiful and I loved that much of it went untouched unlike the other castle I visited with my parents. The Carisbrooke is known for being not only a home but a place to hold royal prisoners such as King Charles I and his two children. A side not, that picture is one of a few cottages I saw; they are so rare and SO quaint and cute! I had to take pictures of it on our bus ride to our next destination. :P

(I also have to mention that around the time we had begun hiking to the castle, I started to get hayfever and didn't think much of it. It seemed relatively minor. As the day progressed, I began to sniffle more and sneeze almost every 5 minutes. It was terrible! More on this later, though.) Eventually, we made our way back to Newport by bus and caught another one to see the Needles! It was a wonderful sight to see, especially making our way down to the little beach. It was such an ease on the eyes despite my allergies and the harsh sun. The little cruise that took us out to see the Needles was pleasant but a little over-priced for a boat ride in my opinion. It was 5 lbs. Anyway, after that, we figured it would be a good time to go home. Good choice. We got home by around 9:00 pm.

Well, later that night, I thought my pesky sniffles would go away and my sore throat would disappear. Instead, the next morning, my nose became stuffy, my sneezing was more constant, and my sore throat worsened. My hayfever medicine didn't work and just for your information, it really is useless to use the hayfever medicine in stores. It doesn't work for me or my friends. You should bring prescription nasal sprays or get them at the pharmacy here if possible. Also, hayfever is not as bad as it sounds. Well... it is but it's not a disease or anything. Every time I talk to people about it, they give me the stink eye and slowly back away from me, haha. It's really just another term for allergies in Europe. Hayfever is just known to be really bad here in England. Anyway, my hayfever turned into an actual illness. I was coughing up a nasty, nasty storm and still am sort of. It has died down a lot today, though, which is a plus. Everyone is so sweet and asks if I am feeling better every day.

That Saturday morning, I woke up at 5:30 for my Stonehenge and Roman Bath trip. The Stonehenge was a beauty and wonder to behold, but truthfully after walking around it, it was almost anti-climactic. It's just because it was in the middle of nowhere but next to a long freeway road, too. If it were way out somewhere in a grassy field isolated from a road, it might seem more mysterious that it already was. Don't get me wrong, though. I was completely fascinated with how heavy and big those stones were! It was absolutely stunning, and I am so happy I got to see something so few get to see with their own eyes.

This is a jam and cream scone that was absolutely delicious! It was my breakfast and helped ease my allergies. I don't know why, but it did. :) I love scones! We then headed to the Roman Bath and I have to say I was excited for this because when I was in Davis, I watched a NOVA documentary on Roman Baths. This documentary blew my mind at the complexity of everything that went into making these baths (such as how they preserve the heat, build certain things, and place certain baths in certain places). I was very happy to go and see the actual bath and the techniques that were discussed in the documentary. I also was so happy to see the heated bath still working as lame as that sounds. I am just completely in love with the history and everything that went into this amazing bath begets my curiosity about all the other Roman baths...
Sunday I went to Cambridge. **See end of blog for a description of what a university is .** I was particularly excited about this for a different reason. I went to Oxford University with my parents when we were staying in London and I absolutely fell in love with the place. Oxford has a complicated history of sorts. There were a lot of tensions between the people and students which led to Oxford University becoming a very student-like town. It has become secluded from the rest of the town and is mostly student inhabitants with students running the stores and such. I fell in love with all the different colleges Oxford University is comprised of and all the amazing courtyards, libraries, architectures, and the entirety of Oxford student university town's aura. That's my crazy tangent. Anyway, needless to say, Oxford set the standards very high in comparison to Cambridge. My preconception of Cambridge fell short before I actually went.

Cambridge actually was very charming to say the least. I am not in love with the colleges as much as the ones in Oxford. But where town life is quiet and absent in Oxford, Cambridge has all the hustle and bustle. It's lively with a sort of Farmer's Market in the center of Cambridge in front of the town hall. It also has shopping very near the colleges. While I do love the placidity of Oxford's secluded student-made town, I would love to partake in some things that entertain my eye. I'd love to browse, meander, shop and exchange congenial conversations in a vibrant setting such as the one provided in Cambridge.

Also, while Oxford has beautiful colleges, courtyards, architectures within the University, I loved that Cambridge had beauty outside of its university. There is punting and beautiful green parks with ice cream around every corner. Anyway, that is that. I don't know why University I like better now. I've concluded that both Universities have something that the other lacks. Some days, I regret not applying to Cambridge- King's College. :( But I am very happy with Sussex as it is one of the best and few critical schools in the UK!. :)

Anyway, we went punting and our punter was the great great great grandson of Lord Byron!!! For those of you who do not know, he is a very famous romantic poet. :) And this great great great grandson had just recently graduated from Cambridge University, himself. All the ladies on our boat had taken quite a fancy with him, haha. It was really cute. As for me, I was just fascinated with the fact that he was directly related to Lord Byron!! Besides, I was fantasizing about the day my boyfriend would come back here with me and be my punter. I would definitely fancy that and him. :)

** Oxford University and Cambridge University
-- After seeing Cambridge, my friend turned to me and asked, "So are we going to actually see Cambridge University?" to which my other friend and I replied, "We just did!" So let me explain. A university is comprised of different colleges. For example, Cambridge has 31 colleges that comprise Cambridge University. Cambridge University sets and issues the exams to the colleges as well as hands out the degrees to those colleges. So if one finishes at Trinity College, King's College, or St. Paul's College, then the University confers a Cambridge University degree to that student. When you apply, you apply to a college and if you get accepted into that one, then you are attending Cambridge University! :)

Also, the reason why people don't mention Oxford in Cambridge or vice versa is because firstly, there were tensions that I mentioned above between the townspeople and the students. Well, at Oxford, someone was killed and while one student fled the incident, the other two who participated in this were put to death for their crime. After this, a professor and some students decided to go to Cambridge. The professor from Oxford taught so well and the students enjoyed it that they eventually made a home out of Cambridge. They took delight to it so much that they started to make it much like Oxford, just in a different setting. And there you have it-- Cambridge University developed!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Oh Dear...

I think my body has adjusted from the jet lag, but it might just be because I have been forced to sleep at around 11 and 12 now. Friday, we had an ice cream party where everyone who attended could have four ice creams total! I could barely finish one, so I don't know what I was thinking when I grabbed two. I forced myself to eat a little bit of the second one. Whew, never doing that again. Too bad Roger, Jeku, Ryan, or my two roomies from back home weren't around to help me finish that ice cream. After the ice cream party, I went to the pub to watch the game: Ghana v. Uruguay. I was rooting for Uruguay if you must know, and they won! Feels good to be on a winning time when everyone is on the team predicted to win. That was intense being in a pub on campus, although I'm sure it was like that in the city as well. The one game I watched in its entirety was the one that had crazy overtime! It was well worth it, though. It made for a good pub experience minus the drinks or food, haha. Anyway, that's the reason I got home late.
The next day, I went back to London with my school. I had seen everything already with my parents, but I absolutely love London and wanted to go back so I did. That day happened to be the day London Pride was going on, so in a way, I got a better view of London with my parents since streets were blocked off. I did enjoy getting to see the London Parade. I only got to see a few hours of it, but I loved it. I loved that the churches and cathedrals had notices within their glass cases supporting the London Pride and the many forms of love which can be portrayed through the LGBT community. Loved it.

We visited St. Paul's Cathedral, the Big Ben, some food markets, Buckingham Palace, Horse Guard's, and to a huge courtyard where BBC films all their major celebratory sections. (That court yard was probably the only thing I didn't really get to look at when I was with my parents.) Oh, and we also went on the Thames River cruise from Westminister to Greenwich Pier. Can you spot me below? Hehe

The black and white probably doesn't help in the very bottom picture, especially because it isn't very big. :) Not much to update on since my visit to London was basically a repeat of what I'd done with parents. Then again, I haven't blogged about my visit to London yet... maybe I'll do that at the very end of my study abroad session or when I have more free time. Right now, I have to do some reading for tomorrow. (And I am meeting someone to hopefully buy their Cambridge ticket off of them!!) Cambridge was a school I was going to apply to, by the way, but the GPA requirement was a little out of my reach :(

Anyway, that's all from me and unless I think of something else... have a lovely day!

Friday, 2 July 2010

'Ello There Bloke

I still haven't figured out how to post pictures within my entires. You would think that I could just naturally post it after a paragraph or something, but it automatically posts my pictures toward the beginning of my post... so if any of you know how to change this, let me know please! It makes me thankful for my original wordpress blog in that respect. Anyway, moving on!

Yesterday was a relaxing day. I didn't have any class because as I mentioned earlier, for the first summer session I only have class from Monday to Wednesday for an hour and a half. What better way to start a 4-day weekend than go back into the lovely city of Brighton? I met up with some new friends I got to know in class to do some grocery shopping. One of them apparently knows someone back home originally from Fresno but who now goes to UCLA. Small world!

We first went to a mall that I didn't even know existed in this city! It had an H&M, McDonald's, Quizno's, Borders, and some other stores I can't remember. I definitely didn't expect to see Quizno's or Borders here, though. We didn't do any shopping, unfortunately. The people I had gone along with needed some phones like me since I already had one, so that was the first thing on our agenda. One guy told me he was going through culture shock because he realized that people in the store don't come up to help you. I guess again, we can see how spoiled we are with people always at our feet asking whether we need anything. I think this only happens in some places here, though, because another phone store had a kind gentleman who asked us if we needed help picking out a phone. I was also wondering, what exactly is culture shock? I don't think I've gone through it, really. This guy I was hanging around was telling me how he went through all these culture shocks like people not offering help, people driving on the left side of the road, the food not being good, etc. These seem like small things that I either expected or didn't think was such a big deal. To me, it seemed like just seeing a bug with a missing leg, but I could imagine it as something natural in nature. Isn't culture shock something where you struggle to cope with something drastic?? I'm not sure I'm describing this too well.

My dad was telling me that after leaving Brighton and going back into London, he and my mother had gone to have some tea at the Saint James Hotel where they were obviously segregating Asians on one side of the room from all the white people. My dad sounded a little upset and confused and shocked. This is something that would catch me off guard if it was as obvious as he made it sound. Now, isn't that something like culture shock? I mean, perhaps it's just racism and segregation in a different category itself in its entirety rather than culture shock, but wouldn't culture shock be something to this effect? Something that makes you unable to cope with something so different you aren't used to?

I don't know... what are your thoughts on this?

Anyway, we ended up getting some lunch at a buffet. I ended up not getting the buffet and just spaghetti because my tummy can't take very much and I needed something that I could take home for money worth's sake. I was expecting my spaghetti to be more tomato-ish tasting, but it was very watery. I'm getting used to food here being bland and flavorless. (Naturally, I'd do the british spelling: "flavour" but I think I should retain some American things in this blog :P ) After debating about whether we needed to leave tip (which we didn't think was necessary), we wandered around and found our way to the bus stop to get to the grocery store.

When we got back to campus, I tried to get some tickets for the "Pub Crawl Tour" which is where they take you on a pub tour across the city and you eventually end up at a night club. I was debating on whether I wanted to do this since I don't drink and club, but I figured since England is known for pubs (among many other things, of course) I should try the experience. It turned out that 400 students had already bought the tickets and 50 students including me could not get them. So instead, I went to Brighton Marina for some bowling. Now this was interesting.

Apparently, bowling isn't a common thing and they don't do it very often as we do in the US. We had some fish and chips before bowling :) By the end of bowling, I had won! I was so surprised because I'm used to bowling with people who bowl far over 200 points, and I had only bowled 120! That was an experience if ever, and perhaps you could say it was a good ego/confidence booster for me, haha. I consider it a good thing since I don't have much confidence to begin with. Before we retired, we went to McDonald's for a 75 pence soft-served ice cream cone. :) Got home at 11, and I slept peacefully. That was my day yesterday... tonight I am going to an ice-cream party so I have been doing lots of reading since I have to sleep early to go to London tomorrow. Woohoo! Sorry for such a long post, I'll try and keep them short in the future. :)

Some other things I learned: Students go to "college" for 2 years which is what we take naturally as 4 years and then go on to a "university" for a certain degree, and that is 3-4 years. Also, they don't have the terms "freshman," "sophomore," "junior," or "senior." They just use the terms "first year," "second year," occasionally "third year," and rarely "fourth year." For words like Norwich or Warwick, they don't pronounce the w in the word so it is actually said like "Norich" and respectively, "Warick." Leicester is also said like "Lescter." Kind of like... molester, haha. Lastly, I heard a lady say "Just sign your scribbles there!" Interesting, huh? Over in the U.S., we'd say "Sign your John Hancock!" :P