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!

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