All posts by Brittany Adams

Pictures…

So, it would seem there’s a limit to the amount of megabytes one can upload onto an ePortfolio site… And if I keep up at the rate I’ve been going, I’m going to break that in the first two week’s worth of pictures. I’ll try to reserve uploads for the most important pictures, and then supplement the rest with Dropbox links, though how permanent those will be is a mystery to me. I hope you’ve enjoyed my blog! More pictures coming!

Back In The States (With An Internet Connection)!

I know what you’re thinking: where have I been the past month? Well, between all the traveling I did at hostels without internet access and the shoddy internet connection at the dorms, I haven’t gotten enough time to log on and post my accumulating blog entries. Over the next few days, I’ll be posting the things I’ve written during my time abroad, so the waiting for a new entry is over! I’ll space them out so it’s not a deluge of posts, but there are a lot of them. Anyway, stay tuned for new entries, because my apartment’s internet connection is much, much better than what I had over there.

A Quick After-Study Update

As I’ve said, I had an amazing month in London and am currently in Ireland, en route to the Skelligs off the west coast. Once I get back from there, I’m heading back to Edinburgh, Scotland, seeing as though I’ve pretty much made up my mind that I’m moving there sometime in the future. After that, I head back to London and ultimately to the states to join all of you lovely people! I see lots of pictures in the future of this blog, but for now, ta-ta!

In Summation

Looking at my past month here, I feel what I need to say can be best said in the words of Inigo Montoya:
“Let me explain… No, there is too much. Let me sum up.”

In all honesty, I don’t know if I could really explain fully how this trip has affected me. It’s reaffirmed my belief in my career path, upset the balance of my day-to-day life, made me reconsider where I want to live after college, given me an amazing insight on many kinds of British literature, and all around added its stamp on who I am as a person. I don’t mean to be so sentimental about all this, but I’m going to come back to New York City a different person with a new view of the world at large. Okay, maybe I am being sentimental, but it’s hard not to with all the beautiful places I’ve seen and life-altering things I’ve experienced. Sentimental or not, I have an amazing month abroad under my belt, in addition to another glorious, self-reflective week plus in the Isles.

I’ll be adding a few more blog posts about what all I do in Ireland, Scotland, and London, but for now, goodbye my wonderful study abroad experience, and see you soon to those who’ve been reading this.

The Final Countdown… Er, Week…

This past week has been absolutely nuts! I won’t go too in depth about the minutia of my last week of the program, since it was mostly sitting around and writing papers, but I did get to see Richard III at the Globe! I know, I know, you’d think that the thrill of going to the Globe would start being numbed after two performances there, but I still loved it! The actor who played Richard III was absolutely impeccable in his role, and the fact the production was all male gave it that extra authenticity I love to see in performances of Shakespeare.

Besides that, the past few days have been really relaxed. Other than Richard III, my two classes didn’t have any field trips, which was all the better for me since I had to write two 2000-word essays for them. As per usual, I went to a pub or two for some sticky toffee pudding, which is definitely one of the things I’ll miss most from living in London. Well, that and the sausage rolls!

It was quite hard to say goodbye to all the people I’d met, and even though the excitement of the Olympics made things more interesting, my last day was still pretty sad. I did get to see the first sequence of the opening ceremonies on TV, but really, the Olympics just blocked off a lot of the good parts of London while I was there. You could still gain access to the parks, for instance, but all the good bits were blocked off! I actually had to wake up at 4 in the morning to make it to my 8:50 train, despite the trip only (normally) taking about an hour and a half. Hey, I guess that’s what I get for studying abroad in the host city of the Olympics.

I’ll leave the concluding summary about my experience in London for the next blog post, since I’m kind of exhausted from traveling. Until then, sayonara!

Stratford-Upon Avon and A Swooning Shakespeare Fan

I only have time for a brief write-up about my day since I have to get some sleep; I’m waking up at five to leave for Paris which is a wonderful, but exhaustive prospect.

Stratford-Upon-Avon was amazing. I mean, seriously, breath-takingly amazing. As you should have guessed by now, I’m an enormous Shakespeare fan, so visiting Stratford was definitely one of the best, most perfect days of my life. I’m really not overstating how big of an impression it made on me; it was a perfect day, and it felt so complete I didn’t actually mind leaving!

I was pretty tired, this morning, particularly because of all the lazy, mindless traveling, but I perked right up when we arrived in the early afternoon. Nick took us to the theatre where we’d be seeing the Tempest, and after that let us off to wander and get lunch. My friend and I went to Shakespeare’s birthplace, which I unfortunately did not go inside. It was actually 13 pounds to gain entry, and though I find that more than worth it to visit something so historic, we didn’t have enough time to make it worth the price. Instead, I got four different styles of pressed pennies from the machine outside the entryway and had tea directly across from it. Afterwards, I got to see the Tempest, which had a very different interpretation from how I see it in my head. The whole show was Tim Burton-esque, with an elegant and beautiful eeriness, which really resounded with the piece. Ariel was identical to Prospero, save that he wasn’t wearing shoes, and his movements were weird and disjointed. (I mention this because Ariel is usually more fluid and graceful in his motions, and is, at times, played by a woman.) I think what stuck with me the most out of it, aside from the magnificent Shakespearean lines and amazing metaphors, was Ariel using a violin bow on the edge of a xylophone to make music. That particular bit was beautiful, but unsettling and odd. After that very different interpretation of the Tempest, a few of us wandered over to Holy Trinity Church, where we saw the gorgeous interior of the church as well as Shakespeare’s grave. To be honest, the whole thing was pretty moving for me, and not just because I’m a big Shakespeare fan. The church is gorgeous, the cemetery is as well, and the section with Shakespeare’s grave in it is amazingly beautiful. With that visit, I completed a full cycle of Shakespeare’s life: birth, life, farewell to the stage, and death, which is particularly why I wasn’t sad to leave. Besides, I’m going to go back there someday, and I hope it’s just as beautiful when I return.

After buying a couple souvenirs at the church, we stopped by the gift shop at Shakespeare’s birthplace, bought a few souvenirs (like my new darling Shakesbear), and then ate at the oldest pub in Stratford. It was an adorable place, and if my camera hadn’t died, I would have taken a lot more pictures of it! As it was, we made it out of there just in time to catch the train with a few other people from our class, and it took a good couple hours to get back to the dorms. I have Paris in the morning, which I’ll probably sum up in a short blog, seeing as though it isn’t technically part of my study abroad program. For now, I’m beat. Good night, everyone, and I’ll talk to you in a few days!

London and Its Lit: A Holmes By Any Other Name…

Well, to be more accurate, would a Holmes by any other location smell as… Intuitive? Seeing as though this is a literature class about London, our discussion of Sherlock Holmes this morning revolved not only around Holmes as a character, but also how London acts as a character in the text. Frankly, that’s kind of what I have planned for my final essay in this class, so I’ll be able to use some of that discussion in how I frame my argument. I don’t really want to talk too much about what we did in the classroom today, specifically because the afternoon’s instruction was so much cooler! If you aren’t aware of what I did this afternoon, you haven’t been reading this blog. If you have, you’ll know that Nick took us to the Sherlock Holmes Museum!

Now, if I’m most excited about The Tempest for my Shakespeare class, Sherlock Holmes is definitely what I’m most excited for in my London Lit class. Now, I already stopped at the gift shop once before (and came away with many, many, many random thingies of sleuthly awesomeness), but I hadn’t gotten the chance to actually go inside the museum. There was, unfortunately, a long line going in, but the museum itself is really interesting and fun for someone familiar with Holmes’ stories. The study was definitely the best part, and they actually let you take pictures in the deer-stalker and sitting chairs! It’s a very small gesture, but one that I enjoyed to no end. Honestly, I would love to actually live in the little house the museum is housed in; the study just radiates the qualities I look for in somewhere to sit for hours on end, and the furniture is all so charming I couldn’t help getting giddy whenever I used it! It was really a great experience for a literature nerd like myself, and I did actually make it down the gift shop again afterwards. I know, they reel you in with the deer-stalker pictures and force you to buy random things you don’t need! I’m not particularly bitter though; I am quite happy with the little doo-dads I got between both visits, and I think the miniature Holmes will go nicely with my puzzle cubes at home.

After seeing the museum, the Holmes revelry did not actually end. My friend and I went to the Sherlock Holmes Pub, which is not associated with museum and is not located on Baker Street. (Fun factoid: though the museum’s location is actually around 241 Baker Street, they petitioned the city to get special permission to have its address be 221B Baker Street. The actual position of where 221B Baker street would be is denoted by a statue of the great detective.) The pub was really cool, and had a lot of similar things to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, but with a much more theatrical flair. It was a really nice place to sit and read, and the food was pretty decent. By the time I ultimately got home, I was quite pleased with the amount of Holmes I received.

I would lament the passing of our class studying Sherlock Holmes, but I’m too busy being excited for Stratford-Upon-Avon! Seriously, I’m so excited about this I can hardly stand it! I’ll be sure to leave a post when I get home tomorrow night, but I don’t know how long it will be. It takes a couple hours to get there and another couple to get back, so I could be home a little late, and besides, I’m off to Paris the day after. I need to get some sleep in order to function for what is sure to be an amazing day, so I’m off. Good night, all, and I wish you as good a day as I’ll be having tomorrow!

Shakespeare R&P: Henry V and The Tempest!

As I predicted yesterday, today was a really easy-going day. Frankly, I’m really glad that I haven’t had to hike around London for a couple days; I may not be “sick” anymore, but I certainly don’t feel completely well again. We talked about the cold-inducing Henry V this morning, which was really great, and in the afternoon we discussed The Tempest! I am exceedingly excited about going to Stratford on Thursday, and not just because The Tempest is one of my favorite works of Shakespeare. Getting to see the birthplace of Shakespeare is going to be one of the more amazing things I’ve done in my life, and I cannot wait to go to the church he’s buried in! I’m such a Shakespeare nerd…

I really don’t have all that much interesting stuff to say right about now; the day was calm, the discussion perfect for preparing to watch The Tempest, and the afternoon/early evening laid back. Yep, it was a pretty boring day, now that I think about it! Oh well. The next six days should make up for the drollness of this post, namely because I’ll be going to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Stratford-Upon-Avon, and Paris during them. Yeah, now whose study abroad trip is boring? Anyway, I’m going to spend the rest of the night trying to get a little preliminary work done on my final essays, which I won’t be doing this weekend because of the whole Paris thing. After that, it’s bedtime to get the rest I need for a hectic almost week! So, for now, toodle-loo!

London and Its Lit: Oliver, Oliver…

Today was a really good way to get back into the swing of being non-sick for school activities; instead of going out on the town after our morning discussion of Oliver Twist, we watched a movie version of it. No, it wasn’t the musical, but it was still very engaging. It was also really long and in black and white, but I definitely don’t dock it for being that way, considering how much I enjoyed it. It stuck very close to the book, which is sometimes difficult to do when transposing a text to film. I really don’t have all that much to say about what we did in class, but I love Oliver Twist as a text.

What I can say, and what this morning’s discussion was mostly about, is that Nancy is a very difficult character to work and come to terms with. The stereotype of a fallen woman redeeming herself in the eyes of society and God was too thorny for the era Dickens wrote in, forcing him to kill her off at the end. Despite how awful it is to see her death, especially at the hands of the one person she tried not to betray, it was the only way for her story to end without upsetting the audience of the book. Then again, Dickens stripped away the Romantic ideals of the charming rogue with his depictions of Fagin and Sykes, so a little extra controversy probably wouldn’t have hurt the text too much.

Tomorrow will be another easy-going, all-class day, particularly because we have to cover the Tempest before we go to Stratford-Upon-Avon on Thursday. I am so completely exuberant over the prospect of seeing Stratford, and I’m not sure how well I’m going to sleep the night before, all excitement considering. For now, though, it’s time to sleep and think thoughts of Henry V and the Tempest. So, good night, and I’ll check in again tomorrow!

Yay, Books (And Sufficient Energy)!

Yessirreebob, Brittany is finally back in action! It took two days for most of my nasty cold to dry up, and though I can still feel it pushing at the back of my sinuses, I actually had the energy to go out on the town! I would have been really mad if I hadn’t, because today was very nice.

To begin with, I woke up in the later morning feeling just a bit sick still. I took some cold medicine, and headed out to London with one of my friends, where we spent a good three hours perusing bookshops near Charing Cross. It was absolutely wonderful! My favorite bookstore in New York City is the Strand, particularly because of the Rare Books Room on the third floor. Well, basically every single store we went into was covered in turn of the century books, ranging from philosophy to art to poetry to fiction and everything in between. I walked away from those bookstores with about seven more books than I’d started with in the morning, which I’ll now have to deal with in my suitcase… Still, I think a 3 pound, late 1800′s/early 1900′s edition of Christopher Marlowe’s seminal works is more than worth a little back and arm ache. The smell alone is worth the price, and they look so pretty sitting on my nightstand! We were unfortunately called away when two more of my friends asked if we wanted to go to Abbey Road. Obviously, we did, so we left the beautiful, amazing bookstores, hopped on the transit system, and made it over to the very touristy and surprisingly congested crosswalk. We did not have the foresight to bring a fifth person to actually take the picture, so a couple of French tourists were nice enough to catch us walking across the crosswalk. After that, we signed the wall outside the studio and headed to the Sherlock Holmes Museum! My London Lit class is going there pretty soon, but that didn’t stop us from going into the gift shop and buying some fun souvenirs. I almost got a letter opener with the great detective as the handle, but decided against in when I realized I’d have to get a relatively knife-like object through US and British Customs. After that, we split into to pairs, my bookstore friend and I heading to a partially closed off St. James Park. (Thank you, Olympics!) We still got to go to the waterside and read some poetry in the late afternoon light, despite the barriers blocking off about half of the park, but it would’ve been nice to see the full extent of “London’s Central Park.” Finally, we headed to Leceister Square for some food and headed back to Surbiton just as it got dark.

Now, it’s late, and I need to get some sleep, even though tomorrow won’t be a particularly strenuous day. I’m very excited about my recent book acquisitions, and I plan on starting “Irish Fairy Tales” when I head to Ireland! For now, it’s bedtime for Brittany in Britain, so good all you lovely people across the Pond!

Another Reading Day!

It’s Saturday in the lovely outer boroughs of London, and I’m lazing about reading books, tending to my awful cold. It’s been a pretty uneventful day… I’m pretty sure it’s going to stay that way, considering the fact that I still feel miserable. I’m at least clear-headed enough to finish reading the books I hadn’t gotten the chance to finish, namely a quick re-read of the Tempest and Richard III, which are the other two plays we’re studying and watching in my Shakespeare class. That’s about all I’ve been doing today, but I figure since I’m about halfway through the program, I’ll do a quick sum up of my experience so far (providing my head allows it).

This has been a really interesting and engaging experience for me. I mean, that’s kind of a “no duh” statement, but it’s true. I’ve done a lot of touristy things, most of which I’ve related in this blog; hung out in some pubs for pub grub, which has been delicious and very fatty; and gotten a taste of what college is like for British students. I think the most different thing about studying the UK is the grading system, where grades in the 70s are considered “A’s.” I’m not sure how exactly they go about converting UK grades to those that work in the US system, but my head is really too groggy to postulate a guess and, besides, I’m not the one who has to worry about it. I’m really enjoying the instruction of Nick, whose wit has made every class entertaining while simultaneously educational. (I kind of wish I could take him back to CCNY and let him teach some of my classes…) I really enjoy the feel of British life, and if for whatever reason I had to live in London instead of Edinburgh, I wouldn’t be complaining. They’re both very old cities, and I love that sense of history that wafts up from the old cobbles of the winding backstreets… And on that bombshell, it’s time to end. (UK Top Gear? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?)

I suppose I should get back to reading and resting; I have big plans for some small bookstores tomorrow, and I want to have as much energy as possible before setting out in the morning. So, for now, I’m going to go read beautiful and philosophical things like “we are such things as dreams are made on,” which is the beginning of one of Prospero’s more infamous speeches. Good evening, and good reading!

London and Its Lit: Dickens Walk and a Sick Brittany

I’m sick. When I say I’m sick, I mean I’m very sick. Like, needing some serious cold medicine sick. I mentioned in my last blog entry how Henry V was wet, cold, and ran until late. Well, that came back to bite me in the morning when I woke up feeling like my head was about to pop into little mucus-y pieces. Lovely, I know. I actually had to miss class this morning, effectually turning in my first paper in a couple hours late, and only after some serious catnapping was I able to get the energy to go on the Dickens Walk through Central London. I was pretty miserable for that, too, and I’m sure my writing is suffering as much as my head right about now, so I’ll sum up the walk briefly.

Basically, we followed a map in a book about historical walks through London, and this particular walk followed a lot of the sites found in Oliver Twist. We visited the area where Oliver gets accused of stealing a man’s handkerchief, then followed the general path of the ruthless crowd as they tried to catch him. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I could’ve focused on what Nick was saying, but even so, we saw some pretty things. I’d say the best was the last stop, which was a large, red brick building with architectural elements you don’t normally see in red brick, namely arches and detailed flourishes.

Obviously, I’m out of it, and though the medicine I bought at Boots is helping, it certainly isn’t enough to keep my mind on this entry, so I’m going to go be a blob in bed. Ta-ta for now, and wish me luck at feeling better! (Though, I’m just saying, it’s Friday the 13th, so luck might not be on my side tonight…)

Shakespeare R&P: Henry V!

I won’t write too lengthy a blog entry for this, seeing as though it’s really late and I’m still damp and cold from the performance, but here goes:

In the mid-morning/afternoon, we got the opportunity to see the Globe exhibit, which is a really cool museum describing life around the Globe in Shakespeare’s times, various crafts of the stage, and other pertinent things. There were Jacobean style costumes in a recreated period costume shop, props from past productions at the Globe, and a large amount of history about the new Globe (which had its first performance in my birth year)! I enjoyed seeing everything, but I’d have to say my favorite part was reading lines from Romeo and Juliet with a pre-recorded actor’s voice and having a program play it back for me. That was fun!

Even starting at 7:30 and running until late, Henry V was brilliant… You know, except for the rain which poured down on us all four hours that we were there. You aren’t allowed to open umbrellas inside the theatre, and I wasn’t wearing appropriate rain gear, so I got really wet. Still, I was barely paying attention to that when the actors were onstage, particularly Henry; he had an amazing stage presence, and all of his rallying speeches were invigorating! We became the foot soldiers of the war which figures in the “national myth of England”; basically, the story behind Henry V explains the legitimacy of the ruling family of England, though they ended up getting killed off pretty soon after and had to be replaced by Scots from there on out… Probably why England doesn’t want to give Scotland its independence!

I’d have to say my favorite scene was at the very end of the play, when Henry sets about wooing his French cousin in a very awkward and adorably clueless way. Hey, don’t blame me for liking the scene with moderate incest; it’s really funny! It’s also very different from the rest of the play, because up until that point, cultured women and men had never actually interacted. It’s really a male-dominated show, particularly because the majority of it deals with war. I really did enjoy it overall, and I would be more than happy to see it again… Providing I don’t wear capris and flats…

Anyways, I’m not feeling so great after the four hours in the rain and the lateness of the hour, so I’m going to hit the hay. Good night, everyone!

London and Its Lit and Shakespeare R&P Together…

I didn’t get the chance to write up about yesterday… Well, yesterday, so I’m including that fairly uneventful day with this one for the sake of convenience for everyone!

So, yesterday morning we talked about the Taming of the Shrew, going over what we thought of the performance and how they had interpreted the text. If I enjoyed this play before, I probably enjoyed it just a little bit more with the additional discussion after the fact! It’s really interesting to see how differently some people perceived the performance, despite how clearly they portrayed their take on the text. It’s all one, though, because I personally enjoyed it despite my previous hatred of all things Taming of the Shrew. In the afternoon portion of the class, we started our discussion of Henry V, which should prove to be a very interesting and engaging performance! It’s one of the histories, and though the histories have never been my be-all end-all favorites, I really enjoyed this one. It was really nice to continue my knowledge of the Henriad from high school into a college atmosphere, and I think tomorrow’s performance will be very engaging (though male dominated because of the text and nature of the action).

There was also a barbecue with some of the Kingston students after that, and I had a lot of fun playing football (or soccer) and other sports with the British natives… Might have gotten my pants completely covered in mud, and my legs a bit bruised, but I had a lot of fun doing so. We actually played a game I haven’t played since middle school, namely where one person throws a ball into the air and assigns a point value to it, with whoever catching it receiving the points. It’s really simple but really fun, and I was actually really good at it! I might have accidentally slammed into a couple people, but I got hit more than enough times to make up for that! I went to bed bruised and a little residually dirty, but happy.

In London and Its Literature this morning, we discussed a lot of poetry about London, obviously! I was familiar with a couple of them, particularly “London” by Blake, but I was happy to be exposed to all of them. I don’t read a lot of poetry, but what I do is mostly traditional stuff, like what we covered in class. In the afternoon, we visited Samuel Johnson’s house, which was really fun and a little bit funny. Samuel Johnson wrote a monumentally important dictionary, which was regarded as the standard for nearly 200 years, and his house is a reflection of the mid-1700′s. There were some really beautiful pieces of furniture, and I particularly loved Johnson’s sense of humor in some of his dictionary entries. For instance, the definition for “oats” is: a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people. He has several others which are equally witty, but I’ll let you look on the internet at the other entries. As a theatre geek, probably the most fun part was trying on period clothing and laughing at the cumbersome undergarments. The dress I tried on had what I called “saddle bags”; two structured lobes were attached by a belt around my waist in order to make my hips and legs look wider. It seems really impractical considering how minimalist undergarments and clothing is nowadays, but it was the norm for the period and, therefore, was nice to experience.

The past two days have been really nice, and fairly low-key. I hope to change that with Henry V tomorrow, but we’ll see about that. For now, good night, world at large!

Scotland!

Where do I even begin? I have had four of the most amazing days of my life, and I’m not sure I’ll be able to relate them to you in the full detail required… It was just too wonderful!

To begin with, it was raining/sprinkling/overcast… For all four days. I know, you would think being cold and wet would effectively dampen my spirits (ha, ha). It didn’t! We left in the early hours of the morning from an overcast London, taking a four-hour long train ride out of King’s Cross directly to Edinburgh. Yes, I took the touristy Platform 9 3/4 photo, but I was a lot more excited by the scenery on the way there. We passed through some beautiful areas of both England and Scotland, and occasionally were able to see the sea and the shoreline! The only thing about that journey which was a little odd was a stag party at the back of our train car. One of them, presumably the stag, passed through the car asking people to sign his (plastic!) penis. We all got a kick out of that, and eventually, we made it to Edinburgh.

Our tour guide (aka “our fearless leader”) Mike met us outside the train station and took us to the hostel to drop off our stuff. After that, he led us on a brief tour of the area, particularly what is known as the “Old City.” If it gives you any hints about how beautiful it is, the “New City” was built in the 1700′s. Yeah, it’s an old city, and that’s why it absolutely captured my heart! Like, I’m seriously, seriously considering moving to Scotland based off this trip. I’ll talk more about that later though. After our little tour of the “Old City”, a few of us went off to do what any good tourist would do: buy souvenirs and eat some haggis. After doing those necessary things, we visited Greyfriar’s Cemetery where we spent a good couple hours wandering through the gravestones. That site is actually where J.K. Rowling got a lot of the names for her characters in Harry Potter, so it was cool, as a writer, to see that physical influence on a story. After taking way too many photos, we wandered up to a hill with an incomplete replica of the Parthenon. It turns out they had run out of money in the middle of the project, so they stopped midway, and it’s been like that ever since. By the time we left, the beautiful panoramic view of the city was going dark (i.e. it was around 10 PM or so), so we headed back to the hostel and pretty much went to bed immediately after.

The next day, which was a very early and rainy day, we made our way to the Highlands! We passed a lot of pretty, pretty things along the way, and the stops along the way were really cool! Our first stop was at the Pass of Killiecrankie, where a great battle took place. Soldier’s Leap is the most notable part of the area, where a fleeing man jumped successfully from one cliff-face at the side of the river to the other over. Today, thrill seekers jump off of it and into the water, and tourists like us watch! The second stop was St. Andrews, which, if you know Chariot’s of Fire, was where the classic running on the beach in slow mo to music scene was filmed. Google “Chariot’s of Fire song” and you should come up with it. While there we visited the ruins of a fort, a cathedral, a graveyard, and a couple little shops for souvenirs and food. After that, we stopped by a little building in the middle of the woods where several Scottish writers came to think and write. It was an absolutely beautiful area, and it was really amazing because there was a secret door which lead to a room with the most gorgeous view of a waterfall. If I could live there, I absolutely would! We all made it back to the bus and finally got to Inverness, which is right at the bottom edge of Loch Ness. A couple friends and I went out for some food, stopping to call for Nessie and pick up souvenirs on the way. After that, we hung out in the bar for most of the night, my friends trying whisky while I drank water awkwardly. We had a really cool encounter with the bar tender and a couple of his friends after they closed the bar. They taught us a couple Scottish songs, which we sang along with loudly until 3 in the morning, when we finally had to turn in.

About four hours later, the next day began, and it began with a very interesting look into the Highland traditions, i.e. traditional kilts, weapons, etc. That included watching someone strip to his skivvies to put on a kilt, which I was kind enough not to take pictures of. It was really fascinating to get that glimpse into the Highland culture, and I have to say, some of those weapons were impressive. My friend got “killed” by a hooked and bladed weapon in a gruesome way that really does not need repeating! After that, we did a lot of driving, stopping a couple times along the way. The first stop was a little port town with the ruins of an old fort and a very cool sea-glass beach. I was brave enough to venture onto a small island where several birds were eating before having to get back on the bus. After that, we made our way to a national park, where we stopped at a mountain range called the Three Sisters. They were absolute beauties, and I felt really small next to them; sure, I’ve passed through the Rockies before, but the parts I pass through did not make me feel nearly so dwarfed! We drove through the national park, where we experienced the only patch of blue sky from the whole four days. It was perfectly timed, and the view was gorgeous. We made a quick stop just outside of the national park to see hairy coos, which are long-haired cows with large horns. After, we passed the castle they used to film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which I got two very blurry pictures of by luck! We stopped by the William Wallace Monument, which was on a very steep hill made slick with mud by the rain. It took us a little bit longer after that to return to Edinburgh where a few of us got food at an American diner for laughs. Finally, after spending a little bit hanging out in the bar, it was time for bed.

Today was our last day in Scotland, and it started with a visit to Edinburgh Castle, where we saw the Scottish Crown Jewels (obviously out of use now), war memorials, information about soliders, and other very interesting historical things. As is appropriate in Great Britain, my friend and I had tea at the castle before heading off for a couple more souvenir stops. By the time we finished, it was time to head onto the train and back to London, where it was, surprise, not raining!

Overall, I had an amazing, life-changing journey in Scotland, and I’ll be all too happy to repeat it! I have a week and a half extra time after the program is over to play around Europe, and I think I’ll cut my time short in Ireland and go back to Edinburgh… Luckily, I haven’t planned anything yet, so I’m still free! I think I’ll look into moving to Scotland once I’m back in the states, but it’ll still be two years until I’d make that particular move. I’m really beat, and after a very, very lengthy blog entry about it, I have to say good night and good bye to the lovely Scotland. So, good night!

Shakespeare R&P: Taming of the Shrew

I mentioned yesterday that I pretty much loathe the Taming of the Shrew with the white hot passion of a thousand burning suns. Well, today the fires have been quenched, and I actually found it extremely entertaining. Here’s why:

It started with our discussion of the play this morning. A lot of people don’t believe that there is an inherent misogyny in the piece that isn’t light-hearted, comedic, or sarcastic. I used to be one of those people, but the Taming of the Shrew really isn’t that misogynistic, particularly when it’s compared to the contemporary literature of the time. For instance, there’s a particular ballad about a shrewish wife, like Katherina, who is disciplined in… How can I put this gently… In one of the most sadistic ways I’ve read in literature. Just for being stubborn, the wife is flogged bloody and wrapped in the salted skin of a recently deceased plow-horse named Morel. Yeah, compare that to what Petruchio does and see if it’s really that bad. For those of you who don’t know the play, Petruchio withholds food and sleep from Katherina, taming her in the same way a hawker tames his hawk. (As a quick interjection, “Kate” actually bears similarities to the word “kite,” which is a term for a hawk.) What most people don’t realize is that Petruchio is also undergoing the same treatment of no food or sleep in ensuring Katherina receives none, making it really a battle of wits and wills. This is really only as true as the interpretation of the performers and the readers of the text, but close examination reveals a much milder prejudice than people, like me, think.

The performance we saw was superb. Our thirteen-person class got to the Globe early enough to lean against the stage, so I didn’t even notice we were standing for three hours! The actors were superb, and maybe I’m biased because of how monumental the experience of seeing a play at the Globe was to me, but I thought it was the best production of the play I’ve seen or heard about. They use traditional costumes, though they actually had people half in modern clothes in the frame part of the story. (The Taming of the Shrew is framed by a trick played on a drunkard named Sly, and the present action of the story is actually a play within the play, making it even less misogynistic than many think.) Overall, this afternoon was great, and I’m so excited to see two more plays at the Globe! I do have to get some sleep though, if I even can get to sleep; I’m leaving for Scotland in the morning and might be too excited to sleep! I will make a concerted effort, so for now, good night!

London and Its Lit: Sir John Soane’s Museum

Today, after discussing the Beggar’s Opera in the morning, our class went to the Sir John Soane’s Museum. Aside from getting a wee bit of heat stroke from waiting in line outside of the very small museum, I really enjoyed it. It’s a really charming building that used to be a mansion, and the man who lived in and owned it, whose name I’m sure you can guess, started a very eclectic collection of art. The pieces range from anywhere from frescoes to Roman sculptures, and even to an Egyptian sarcophagus on the lowest level. The particular reason we went to it for our class is because of the Picture Room, which is exceedingly unique. It is a very small room, no more than 20 feet across either way, completely filled to the brim with paintings, some by Sir John Soane himself. What makes it so unique are its walls, which can unfold to reveal more paintings several times over. Inside the room are many paintings by Hogarth, a propagandist painter who utilized corruption as the subject of his works, hence the museum’s connection to the Beggar’s Opera.

The rooms of the building itself are very charming, and the library in particular was exciting for an old-book lover like myself to encounter; two walls were literally blanketed in books behind glass cases, with most of the books older than the early 1800′s. You obviously aren’t allowed to touch them, but I would be too afraid of damaging them to do it even if I was. There were also several pieces of art incorporated directly onto the surfaces of the building itself. In the selfsame library, the ceiling is partially covered with a depiction of the Greek pantheon of deities. Unfortunately, guests aren’t allowed to take photographs, but I might be able to scan in the postcards I bought when I get back in the states!

For now, I’m tired and interested to see what my Shakespeare class has in store for me tomorrow; out of all the Shakespeare I have read, Taming of the Shrew is my least favorite. It actually borders on hate what I feel for it, which is pretty much the opposite of what I feel for every other of his works! I do have to turn in now, or I’ll be absolutely incoherent for our discussion of Taming of the Shrew, which I want to give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe studying it will help me get past all the misogyny, but it might very well be my least favorite of the plays we see and study. Until tomorrow, good night and happy Fourth!

Shakespeare: Reading and Performance: Begin!

I think it’s no secret that I’m an ENORMOUS Shakespeare fan. I mean, not only do I have two books of his collected works and individual books for over half of his plays, but I also have Shakespearean Insult Gum, post-it notes, and a book called Filthy Shakespeare, which outlines all the naughty things hidden in Shakespeare’s texts. Needless to say, I like Shakespeare, so today was more than a little bit monumental for me!

This morning we had a general introduction to Shakespeare’s life, London at the time, etc, but this afternoon was our bank-side along the Thames! Guess what I got to see? (And if you’ve read the London and Its Literature first post, don’t give away the answer!) I got to see the Globe!!! YAY!!! Okay, now that I’ve got that out of my system, the bank-side walk was very enlightening. We stopped by London Bridge, which was the only bridge across the Thames at the time, the Globe, which is not a giant ball near the river, and the Golden Hind, which is a replica of a trade ship from the late 1500′s. It was really cool to visit, but a lot of people bumped their heads because of how low the ceilings were. We did, however, finally get a small taste of true London weather, so I might have jinxed it in my last post… Regardless, I got a very good insight into London at the time of Shakespeare’s career from my knowledgeable and awesome professor, Dr. Foxton. I think the most interesting thing I learned from him was that the land below the Thames was not a part of London at the time. The reason the Globe is built on the lower bank is specifically because theatres were outlawed in London proper, but the proximity to London Bridge made it easy for people to cross and go to a show.

I had a very nice day out by the river, and though it was rainy and muggy, seeing the Globe more than made up for it. Tomorrow is back to London and Its Literature with a visit to the Sir John Soane’s Museum, but until then, “a thousand times good night!”

London and Its Literature: Begin!

Today was a pretty relaxed day, especially because it’s one of the few class days we have without a field trip into London during the afternoon. In the morning, we just had a general overview of what we’ll be doing in the class, which can pretty much be summed up by its name. During the afternoon, we watched a video rendition of The Beggar’s Opera, which is the first text we’re studying in the class. It was a very interesting movie, but then again, the text was a very interesting representation of London’s lower classes in the later 1700′s. Calling it satirical doesn’t even begin to touch on how over the top and amoral it is; throughout the text, promiscuity is hailed over marriage, unless the wife intends to murder the husband, and gold is the driving force behind almost every character’s actions. It’s a very unique text, and our discussion of it on Wednesday should be very… Well, interesting!

Kingston is a really lovely town, and its proximity to the Thames, illustrated in its full name “Kingston-Upon-Thames,” makes it a very nice place to spend time outside in. We haven’t really gotten all that much rain yet, so I’m starting to wonder when the London weather is going to kick in. I’ve been carrying an umbrella around for basically nothing, but I really shouldn’t complain that I’ve stayed dry over the past few days. Tomorrow is my first day of Shakespeare: Reading and Performance, and I am absolutely ecstatic about the walk we’ll be taking in the afternoon; our first visit to the Globe will come during it! Anyway, it’s time for little college students to go to bed, so until tomorrow night, ta-ta!

A Saturday To Remember

So, I’ve experienced a lot of things in my life, but the nine-hour adventure I had yesterday is definitely going up in my books as one of the greatest days of my life. Basically, here’s how it happened:

I woke up at a reasonable hour, something like nine ‘o’ clock in the morning, had breakfast, and tried to figure out what I wanted to do that day. Well, it turns out that the cleaners were about to come in and do turn-down service, so I quickly through my stuff together and left without a definite plan. That could have ended badly, if I hadn’t picked up a tourist book in Waterloo Station. So, I sat down in front of the London Eye, seeing as though I couldn’t think of a better place to plan what I wanted to see, and I started going through the entire Central London map. I picked out literally every attraction I wanted to see, and I got started on my day.

My nine-hour adventure started, obviously, at the London Eye, which I had already seen during the Photo Frenzy. After that, I crossed Westminster Bridge, got more than enough pictures of the Houses of Parliament (and Big Ben), and then looked at Westminster Abbey and Cathedral from the outside. I didn’t feel like being cattle-herded inside either of them, so instead, I made my way for the Tube and headed towards St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Once I arrived at Blackfriar’s Station, from where I immediately got lost, I stumbled across a church hidden away behind several taller buildings in close proximity. I can’t for the life of me remember it’s name, but after all the things I saw, I’m not surprised! After I did that, I continued to be lost until St. Paul’s basically appeared to me. Seriously, I just turned a corner, hoping I was going the right direction while burying my face in my map, and there it was. It’s really quite an impressive building, and it takes a lot to make someone as well-traveled as me say that. They were having an ordination of deacons at the time, so I didn’t get the chance to peek in, but I did get to hear them ringing the bells, which was pretty sweet. Discovering I was hungry, I went into a restaurant called Yo! Sushi, which was very different from the other sushi places I’ve been to before. It had a conveyor belt at this large, rectangular bar, and little color-coded containers of sushi (say that five times fast) passed around on it. You snag whatever looks good, and depending on what color it is, you pay a certain amount for it. They also had individual faucets so you can serve yourself both flat and bubbly water, containers of soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger built into the bar’s surface, and a button that let’s you call the server if you need help. I walked out of that restaurant full of sushi, eating green tea ice cream from a little plastic container.

Hopping on the Tube again, I made my way towards the Tower of London. Coming out of the station, I came across a beautiful World War I and II memorial with a lot of stone work and a very solemn pillared building at the edge. I paid my respects and moved on towards the Tower of London, which isn’t just a really big tower near the Thames. It’s a complex of castles and structures that have been completed over the past 1000 years, and though I wanted to go inside, it was, again, too crowded for my tastes. Instead, I passed by it and walked to Tower Bridge, which is not the same thing as London Bridge. This is a common misconception, but London Bridge is a much less ostentatious bridge now in the Western United States; they have since replaced it, but a businessman in (I believe) Arizona bought it thinking it was Tower Bridge. It’s funny the things you learn from stones in the ground. Anyway, instead of crossing Tower Bridge, I actually discovered that there’s an exhibit in its upper walkways, so I went in there and got some amazing views of the Thames. They also had panels of the past Olympics games in addition to magnificent bridges from around the world, but I was much more excited about seeing the steam engines in the underground section of the exhibit.

Upon leaving Tower Bridge from the opposite side, I passed by a shopping center along the river, as well as what is colloquially known as the “Armadillo.” I also passed the Shard, which is the tallest building in both the United Kingdom and Europe. Being the jaded New Yorker that I am, I’ve seen better skyscrapers, but it’s still a very interesting building, particularly for it’s slanted edges. Walking near the Thames back towards the center of Central London and looking for London Bridge Station unsuccessfully, I passed another church that I can’t name and then crossed London Bridge itself. I walked a little farther and came across the Monument, which is the tallest, isolated, free-standing column in the world. In short, it’s a really tall pillar, but next to it were a couple inebriated people around a very random piano. So, I sat and listened to the man at the piano play, which was surprisingly well considering the amount of alcohol they had with them.

Finally, after another short Tube ride, I went to Baker Street in the attempt of finding the closest point to 221B, which I eventually did. Before stumbling across a statue of the pointy-nosed detective himself, I stopped by a couple souvenir shops for random gifts, and very nearly bought a deer-stalker (the hat which is infamously associated with Holmes). When I did finally stumble across the statue, I realized that traveling alone through London makes it very difficult to get pictures of yourself, so I did the Facebook-esque self picture with him and headed back to Surbiton.

As you can see by the novel I wrote, yesterday was a very long, interesting day full of little discoveries and really sore feet! In the course of nine hours, I saw about half of the things I still needed to see in London, though not necessarily as thoroughly as I might have liked. I do still have some time to explore London more, though I spent today lazing about my dorm and getting caught up on my class reading. Then again, I really only have one weekend to do things, seeing as though my two four-day weekends are filled with trips to Scotland and Paris. I’m hoping to go to Stonehenge during that open weekend, but we’ll really have to see. For now, I have to go to sleep and wait with bated breath to see what my classes are like on a normal basis. Good night, all!

Orientation To Kingston, Its University, And The Metropolis Containing It

In contrast to my first day at Kingston University, which was pretty lax and minimally active for this jet-lagged nineteen year-old, Thursday and Friday were quite intense. In fact I have been so busy the past three days that I have had yet to document anything substantial about my experience here. I’ll leave today’s nine-hour adventure for another blog entry, but the schedules of both Thursday and Friday were rigorous.

Because Thursday was our first official day in the summer program, it was the day we had our official orientation to the school, its procedures, grading policies, etc. I won’t go too into the nitty gritty of what we discussed, particularly since it’s basically the same stuff you hear at the beginning of every semester, but it helped me figure out a lot about Kingston University that I needed to know. One of the coordinators spoke about health forms, enrollment, ID cards, travel cards, how the Olympics will affect us at the end of the course, and other important things that will come in handy with the “study” part of my studying abroad.

Lest we forget the “abroad” part, the coordinators then led us from KU’s Penrhyn Road campus (which is where I’ll be studying) and into the center of Kingston. Like Surbiton, the other town near our dormitories, Kingston is very quaint and historic with scattered elements of modernism throughout. It’s a really interesting juxtaposition, but I will talk more about that in a later blog post. The tour brought us around to the important destinations, including the student union, train station, bus stations, department stores, boat dock, and the Rose Theatre, where we will later be able to watch the opening ceremonies of the Olympics from if we choose to do so. Once we finished the tour, and snapped a few pictures at the falling phone booths art installation (which is what my banner displays), we went into the Kings Tun pub and had a bite to eat. After that, we were divided into teams and directed towards London, where we engaged in a Photo Frenzy, essentially a scavenger hunt with pictures and questions. It took us to several of the interesting destinations around Central London, including the London Eye, Houses of Parliament (which houses the bell Big Ben), Bond Street, Convent Garden, Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square. It was quite an endeavor, since we lost half the group for about thirty minutes and were afraid we were going to be disqualified, but we made it to the second pub of the day, the Silver Cross, without any penalties for lateness. While there, I had my first serving of British fish and chips, which came with a lemon wedge, tartar sauce, and a bunch of peas with I awkwardly ate with a fork. The groups had disbanded by then, so I ended up heading home with a group of some of my peers (who aren’t used to riding the subway and needed the help interpreting the Tube’s map and the train system). I had a small dinner before hitting the hay, exhausted, but happy.

Friday was centered around the university in much the same orienting way as the first, just with more emphasis on our individual classes. In the morning, I took an optional tour of the library, which is very nice and actually allows food on the ground floor. They also have a self-checkout and return section where you, obviously, check out and return your own books through a machine. Once the tour was over, I went to the first meeting of my London and Its Literature course, which is going to be very interesting in my opinion. This was also the first opportunity I had to meet with my professor/”tutor”, Dr. Nicholas Foxton. We spent the class discussing procedure, grading policy, field trips, and other important things that, again, I won’t bore you with. After that, I stopped by the student union and bought a couple things, including an Olympics-themed bag and a couple of witty British greeting cards I thought were extremely funny. After that, I read in the library until the students of the summer program met for lunch. After that was the first meeting of Shakespeare: Reading And Performance, which is the main reason I’m studying abroad at all. Nick, as Dr. Foxton wants us to call him, is my professor for this class as well, and we had, in addition to the general overview of the syllabus, a nice discussion about Shakespeare, his works, and what people do and do not like about him. After that, I went home, took a nap, and spent a good couple hours sorting through my pictures so I can begin uploading them to the blog tomorrow.

With the summer program beginning this way, I’m ecstatic to see how the classes function. Our class time is made up about a third to half of the time of field trips, and with a historic place like London, each one will be the experience of a lifetime. I see performances at the Globe and Stratford Upon Avon, the Sherlock Holmes Museum, a Dickens Walk, and other exciting things in my future! Stay tuned for pictures of my adventures and further updates!

Two Long Days And A Brittany

I’ve had a very hectic two days, and though I could just start at the beginning, I’m going to start here. I’m sitting on top of my desk, using my windowsill as a laptop rest, eating basmati rice with avocado out of a microwavable container, drinking green tea, and watching a field as the sky slowly grows darker. (Mind you, it’s already nine at night, but the sun has only barely started descending.) In order to get to this point, I sat for two hours waiting for my first flight to leave to Boston from JFK. After a quick thirty-minute flight, I hurried to my six and a half hour flight to London, which left around 6:45 PM and arrived at 6:25 AM. After getting about an hour of interrupted sleep on the plane, I then had to deal with customs (which was easy), and finding my travel arrangements (which was less easy). Eventually, after meeting some of my fellow students and taking an hour long ride in a van, I made it to the dormitories where I’ll be staying for the next month.

I spent the majority of today struggling with simple concepts while loathing the effects of staying up two days straight. In fact, I’m surprised I was able to get through it with as much laughter as I did. To begin with, though the suite I’m staying in is adorable, the four flights of stairs up to it are not when lugging a 37-pound bag. The proportions of everything are also smaller than my Manhattan apartment, so wrestling with the logistics of unpacking got to be a bit frustrating. Again, I love my suite, and frankly, this is the best dorm set-up I’ve been in. I have a desk, bed, end table, desk drawers, mounted wall shelf, wardrobe/closet thing, and my own bathroom! The bathroom, however, has a very temperamental shower that floods the floor if you aren’t careful. If you don’t know how to work the temperature and water pressure knob, as I didn’t when I tried to wash of my jetlag, you end up scalding yourself on really, really hot water! Outside the at times difficult bathroom, I also have a wonderful view of this field (where I just saw a fox) and the roof of a really quaint, traditionally British house. Unfortunately for me, I decided to go out to the benches in the middle of the field to enjoy the day just when they changed two of the three locks I encounter getting into my room. It was sorted out pretty quickly, and after that I got a free packed lunch, a mobile telephone (which I upgraded to make free calls to certain US numbers), and a tour of Surbiton, the town where I’ll be doing my shopping. Our tour guide lefts us to our own devices after bringing us to the supermarket, so I visited a 99 pence store for some really cheap food. If I wanted to, I could have gotten two pounds of spaghetti for 99 pence (which is only about $1.50), and I got other good quality foods for cheap as well. After that, I went to the supermarket and headed back to the dorms, but not without almost getting lost first. I ended up asking for help from one of the coordinators, who was conveniently heading the same way I was. After that, I spent a good hour trying to figure out how to work the internet, since I couldn’t remember the password I needed. Finally, I got everything in order and discovered how nice a writing spot the top of my desk makes.

Needless to say, it’s been a really long day, and I really need to get some sleep! I have to wake up early for orientation tomorrow and hope it’s less difficult than today was. All little hassles aside, I’m really looking forward to my time here. I was a bit nervous about it before arrival, but I’ve figured most of the weird stuff out already. I’ll add a separate blog entry about the cultural differences I’ve experienced in my brief time in the UK, but for now, I think it’s time for a well-deserved sleep.

The Journey and Arrival In Photographic Terms:

So long, New York!

Heading through the outer boroughs towards JFK.

Boston, with a miniature filter on!

Boston Airport is definitely nestled in one of the more beautiful areas of the East.

What do you do when the touch screen on the seat in front of you doesn’t work? Here’s your answer.

I’ve heard there’s some sports event going on in this arena in a couple weeks, but I can’t remember the name of it… Something with an “O”… Octopus?

An aerial shot of the Thames

The Shard (the pointy building) is apparently the tallest building in Europe.

The London Eye from above!

My first introduction to the London Tube happened before I left the airport… Interesting, no?

This is the bathroom connected to my room, which I think serves me just perfectly.

This is my window, as well as my field outside of it.

This is my wonderful, unpacked (and momentarily organized) room!

This is our adorable kitchen which, aside from a few quirks, has served me well.

Clay Hill Halls of Residence is really quite quaint in its buildings’ facades.

Reynard the Red paid me a visit my first night here; let’s hope he didn’t sneak away with any of my valuables!

The Day Before

You know what I did today, the day before I leave for Europe? I went to a taping of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon on the Band Bench. That’s right, I will (potentially) be on TV the night before I leave to study abroad. I would upload a screen shot of myself, but I can’t view US videos from outside the US to get one. Still, I got to watch Alabama Shakes live and see Jimmy Fallon interview a reformed Charlie Sheen. I’d call that a good last, full day in the city for a few weeks.

What’s This, You Ask?

Who says you have to pack heavy for a six-week trip?

So, you ask me what this is, eh? What am I doing with a loosely packed, medium-sized suitcase if I’m going to be gone for a large suitcase’s worth of time? Well, I give you three good reasons why my medium-sized suitcase is going to serve me well in my six-week journey to Europe:

1. I only packed two and a half weeks of clothing. Now, I know that seems like a ludicrous amount for six weeks, but access to laundry machines makes 18 plus days worth of clothes more than adequate for my trip. Two sessions of laundry and my minimal clothing becomes an extended-use wardrobe.
2. Space saver bags. Yes, when I say space saver bags, I mean those “As Seen On TV” oversized Zip-loc baggies with the specialized air valves. They have a travel version which I decided to try and believe it or not, they actually work. Instead of vacuuming, you roll out the air from the bag through self-sealing holes in the bottom. I pulled back some of my stuff in the suitcase to show it off in the above picture. While it’s true that my clothes are probably going to be extremely wrinkled, I brought a spray bottle to fix that and will be enjoying the extra souvenir space on the way home. I also get to use them in my over-sized backpack for my weekend travels, since I really don’t want to roll around the suitcase for my four-day trips.
3. As a continuation of the last bullet above, I don’t want to lug an enormous suitcase around Europe! Seriously, using a medium-sized suitcase is going to make my airport experience super easy, and with all the ferries and buses I’ll have to deal with in Ireland, it’s just easier to have the one, condensed bag.

In essence, I took what I needed, including options in wardrobe and footwear, without exacerbating my scoliosis. I think that’s a pretty good deal in the grand scheme of things, and besides, it’s going to end up overflowing with new, interesting things from around Europe regardless of how big it is.

The Week Before

Looking ahead to my departure Tuesday, I’m drawn back to the months that have lead up to my trip. My idea to study abroad this summer actually came from a winter trip back to my parents’ home in Texas. My parents had traveled to Europe over the summer, and I spent a night with my mom just looking over the photos from their trip. Seeing those fragments of a trip I had never really experienced made me crave something more than my past travels. While it’s true I’ve been out of the country many, many times, with one of those trips landing me in a week-long summer camp in Spain, I haven’t been to England, or France, or Scotland, or any of the other countries my parents were able to visit. Looking toward my love of Shakespeare, I determined to study abroad in London, and I spent the next day exploring study abroad options.

Because my inquiries started over Christmas Break, I wasn’t able to apply for the program yet. In fact, I wasn’t able to do much of anything related to study abroad until the Macaulay Access Period started. My experience with that was not only hectic (mostly because of a three-hour wait in the Financial Aid office) but it also happened before I’d fully applied to the program! I received my study abroad check before I was even offered a place in the program, which made for some difficulties when gathering the necessary documentation. Needless to say, I sorted it out, but not without a few pushes from my Macaulay advisor.

By the time I’d received my check from Macaulay and the acceptance letter from Kingston University, finals was upon me, so I had to put my study abroad rush on hold for a full three weeks as I hammered out over 60 pages of final essays. I won’t go too much into the workload, seeing as though I am a Creative Writing major, but it inevitably forced me into a mad dash to get things ready for my six week long trip. In the course of just under four weeks, I had to organize my life into a suitcase, make arrangements for travel and other related plans, read two classes worth of books in advance (totaling about eight books including four Shakespearean plays), set up notifications with several institutions, and pretty much put my summer on hold. It’s now three days to go, and I’m still rushing to get everything in order before I leave.

At the end of the day, or several crazy months, I still think I’m incredibly privileged. Without the financial help of Macaulay and the really understanding support of so many great people, I probably wouldn’t be leaving this Tuesday for the experience of a lifetime. Sure, I’m arriving in the UK the same time I normally go to bed over the summer, but the things I get to do while I’m there are worth a little (extreme) jetlag and bureaucratic finagling associated with travel for long periods of time.

I’ll probably update this blog again either just before I leave or after I arrive, so stay tuned and expect lots of pictures! Once I figure out the easiest way to insert mass quantities of pictures to this website, I’m going to be smothering the server in pixels of England-y goodness. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you on the other side of the pond!