Okay, so first of all, no link showed up to take you to pictures... I don't know what to do about that. I'll try to figure it out but for now we'll just go with vivid imagery in my writing... yeah, I'll definitely try to figure out the picture thing :P
Moving on! So Wales was great: we got on the coach early (no really, 6:45 early!) and were off to Wales by 7 am. Once we got there (only two hours to get to a new country... what??!) we got into our teams and started the team building activities right away. My team started with raft building. I was hesitant about this because A) I've never built a raft and B) I did not want to fall in the the Lake Superior temp water... this whole falling-in-thing was inevitable too, by the way. But our team actually did a pretty good job building the raft out of the materials given: four old plastic barrels, six long wood pieces and eight long pieces of rope. We were able to keep out of the frigid water until we all had to stand on the raft and do the "head, shoulders, knees and toes" dance... to be fair, we would have been fine had it not been for the "toes" part of the dance, that just screwed with our balance. Anyway, the water was extremely cold and I walked back to Summit Centre (the place we were staying in Treharris, Wales) dripping wet but, surprisingly, I wasn't too cold!
After rafting and lunch the teams switched and it was our turn to go caving. Caving was really cool; they took us to their man-made cave and we had to follow each other through it. There were some pretty tight squeezes and places where we were crawling... or slithering, through the cave. Several people could not go through the cave because they were claustrophobic but everyone did a really great job of trying and of knowing their personal limitations. I wasn't ever nervous in the cave but I don't have that fear so I just thought it was cool.
The next thing we did that day was make dinner. We had our specific groups to have the dinner shift and it wasn't technically my shift but I wanted to be in the kitchen so badly I just helped out and chopped some veggies, etc. It felt so good to be cooking again and there was music playing so it was just really fun! After dinner, we had our first intercultural seminar meeting. This is for all programme people so we can look intentionally at our experiences abroad and delve into the similarities, differences, difficulties, successes etc of our time in a new culture. Everyone was really open and we learned more about each other and had a lot of fun.
Later that night we went into town to the pub/hotel. It was pretty chill; hardly anyone was there but we had fun watching the telly and playing (or, in my case, watching) pool.
The next day was the day of rock climbing and team building activities. My favorite activity was when we had to get a ball into a bucket across the courtyard area with only PVC pipe halves. It was difficult but kind of funny and finally on the third try, we got it! Rock climbing was fine; I went up to the top once but then I was done. I've never been a huge rock climbing fan so it was more fun for me to cheer on the others. Earlier in the day during our free time, a few of us climbed some of the hills behind the complex to snap some pictures (still trying to figure out how to get those on here).
We went into town to the pub again Friday and this time it seemed like the entire town was there! It was packed with people of all ages and it was just so interesting to see something I'd have never seen back home. Apparently, Treharris is the poorest town in the whole UK. This really gives them a sense of community because, as an ASDA worker explained, when you have nothing, it's only about the town instead of anything that divides classes. We met some really nice Welsh people that night and heard a lot of fun music from a man playing live.
Our final full day in Wales was spent on a "Hill Walk" which, actually, was a Mountain Walk. We walked a cluster of mountains including Corn Du Mountain and Pen y Fan. It was beautiful and so hard! Just on the way up to the first peak we all had to stop for a breath several times; it was pretty steep in some areas as well. Once we got to the top, we were able to walk along the ridge and take in some amazing scenery. Then came another climb! It was actually harder to walk down a mountain peak than it was climbing it though just due to the fact that your toes would push to the front of your shoes and hurt. I definitely felt it in my knees the next day! I was really happy to have done the Mountain Hike because it was gorgeous and an incredible workout and I would honestly go back to Wales to do that hike once a month.
Just about everyone was wiped out that evening so, except for a few people, we stayed in and watched the Hunger Games. The next morning we were off to a Coal Mining Museum to get a better sense of the culture of Wales since it was a huge coal mining community back in the day. The tour was really cool; we had a funny, interesting tour guide and it was fun to see the underground area where the coal mining used to take place. We were all freezing and soaked (it was pouring as we were trying to find our way into the museum) so we were all very excited to get back on the road and back home. Due to that and to the fact that it was still quite dreary and raining, we skipped the Sculpture Garden and the Forest of Deen that was on the itinerary. I was fine with that as were most others; only a few were disappointed about missing that; I just figure it'd be better to visit those things when it's nice out and when we aren't tired and wet.
It was great to get back home but Wales was really fun. I probably wouldn't go back on my own but the people were so welcoming and certainly the views were beautiful... and if you ever want to see more sheep than you've ever seen in your whole life, check out Wales; it's chock full of them :P