It's been WAY too long since I've written and I'm sorry for that. It's been a few hectic weeks to say the least. I'll give you a quick run-down of the stressors and then we can get on to the fun stuff!
First off, I only really got into 'school mode' this past week (and I've been here for over six weeks, oops!!) so I had been feeling super behind in homework. An eight-hour stint this past Sunday at the library really helped though! And it was actually fun; whodah thunk?? Aside from the school stuff I am struggling with being part of the rowing club here. I really want to be part of it but my knee has been giving me trouble since the first week of rowing and it really hasn't gotten any better. I've got an appointment with the physical therapists in town now though, so hopefully that can help and I can continue in rowing. The other major stressor for me the past few weeks has been the fact that I had been traveling each weekend and I felt like that was taking away time that I should have been focusing on the work I had to do. Don't get me wrong, I do not regret the traveling... just at the time it was making me more stressed.
So anyway, time for fun things! In my last post I was talking about London I believe, so I'll get on to next weekend: Devon and Cornwall. This was a programme trip from the 12th to the 14th. So, on Friday we boarded the coach and were off to Cornwall. Before even getting to our hostel to put our stuff away, we stopped to surf! I had never surfed before; I hadn't even been in the ocean! So I think the coolest part about surfing was the fact that I can now say "the first time I was in the ocean was when I was in England surfing." I think that's pretty neat :) Other than that, surfing was fun but hard... I only ever could get in the one-knee-up position and I usually couldn't catch the waves. The salt water wasn't as bad as I had imagined though... although, eventually in was in everyone's noses and throats and that was a bit uncomfortable.
After surfing for about an hour and a half, we were on our way to the hostel. The coach had to stop about a 15 minute walk away from the hostel because the coach was too big to fit the rest of the way! It was a beautiful walk and our location was amazing: right on top of a cliff overlooking a beach that we could easily walk down to. Later that night, I was on kitchen duty and we had some fun making tacos: Coldplay in the background and fun people and I didn't have to be on cleaning crew; doesn't get much better! That night's entertainment was provided by watching several programme people playing pool and taking part in lively banter... got a bit intense but I thoroughly enjoyed myself. A few of us decided to wake up really early the next morning to try to catch the sunrise... that didn't really work out; we got up and everything but we didn't catch the sunrise :( Would've been pretty but oh well, a sun rises every day so there'll be more chances!
Our Saturday fun was exploring a nearby town, St Ives, which was wonderful. I had so much fun exploring the beautiful town and I had cream tea for the first time! Cream tea is traditionally two scones with jam and clotted cream (the heaviest thing on the planet) and tea. It was delightful but it was so filling that I really wasn't hungry for the rest of the day so I've stayed away from cream tea since.
Anyway, we explored some cute shops in the area and then were off to the Bodmin Jail. Not spooky, pretty cheesy and not something I'd do again. I think the people who were excited about it in the first place were pretty disappointed. But we did see a double rainbow as we came out!! The night was pretty uneventful in terms of fun things and then we headed back home the next day.
The next weekend I went to Scotland with a few friends (one of them drove) and it was amazing. The drive was beautiful and it was incredible driving through the misty hills, listening to Bon Iver and feeling like I was finally being adventurous. I never would have thought I'd be on a road trip to Scotland with people I hadn't known just a month earlier, but here I was. We got into Scotland pretty late (around ten or so) because it's about a seven hour drive. We had rented a private cottage for the weekend and we still spent less for gas and a private cottage than we would have on a train ticket up there, so we thought it was well worth it! After settling in we decided to explore Oban for a bit and grab something to eat in town. We had amazing burgers at a steakhouse and we all shared an appetizer of haggis and black pudding (aka sheep's stomach and coagulated blood, yummmm). It was actually really good and I'd have it again for sure! No joke though, it was good. After getting back in from town we basically just chilled in our amazing cottage :)
The next day we were able to see how beautiful the land we were on was... last night we really couldn't tell it was so dark. But there was a loch right by us, rolling hills all over and chickens and ducks roaming about the property! We got a late start and went off to climb part of Ben Nevis, the largest mountain in the UK. It was a pretty rough climb: very steep, very uneven and very tough on my knee (mostly on the way down and yes, I slipped about five times... in my defence it had started raining!). The hike was absolutely gorgeous though and I'm so happy we got to go up over halfway! That night we decided to make dinner ourselves and had a very nice pasta meal with music and candlelight and us in our pj's :P
The next day, our last :(, we went to Oban in daylight and while one of our group went to tour the whiskey distillery, I went with the other two up to a cool 'tower' thing (it was more looking like a Coliseum but they called it a tower). Then we all had fish and chips (the best I've had here so far... I am so going to miss having a chippy right near where I live when I go home!!!) and then started the long drive back home. The trip to Scotland is definitely one of the top three experiences I've had here yet; I was with amazing people in a beautiful place and had tons of fun!
Alrighty, this past Friday was a lot of fun too! We went on a programme day trip to Malvern Hills; it was just a 12 minute train ride and it was wonderful, I definitely want to go back at some point this year!! We saw the Priory and the lamp post that inspired C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" book, and we saw a puppet show in the smallest theatre in the world (it used to be a man's lavatory aka bathroom)... it was... interesting ha ha
The best part though was climbing the hills.... it was beautiful and SO SO windy, I absolutely loved it, probably because it reminded me of Duluth. We stayed sitting in the gusting wind for at least ten minutes and by then I was frozen... not wanting to leave, but cold enough that it was time. Then I literally fell down the hill and that was cute :P I didn't get hurt because I didn't fall far but yeah, hilarious and typical of me. We got some amazing lunch after getting down the hill: it was broccoli, cauliflower and carrot soup with homemade bread... oh, it was so good and totally perfect.
Another highlight of course, is Halloween! I hadn't really participated in Halloween for maybe five to seven years so this was really fun. I went as the Black Swan (had a black tutu, a mask and feathers taped on... I had shed them all by the end of the night... probably fell off even before getting to the club). It was so much fun going to the club, especially because I went to the one I hadn't been to before and thankfully it wasn't too busy because I hate crowds.
Other than that, classes have been going pretty well (I'm thinking I'll make every Sunday a library Sunday just to have a solid block of time to do some major catching up) and I'm feeling a lot less stressed than I was a couple weeks ago!
This next week is Reading Week (basically just a week without classes) and so I'm off to London in a few hours with a friend. I'm so pumped because we've got a museum visit planned for each day!!! We'll be gone for about six days so I'll get an update in by Friday next week. Anyway, I've got to run to class now but hope you enjoyed the highlight reel of the past few weeks! I'll post on London soon :)