November 2011 Archives

Meanwhile...in Worcester

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Hello everyone!
Well life has been just as crazy this week as it was when I wrote my last entry. Our show for Loco Show Co. is this weekend!! I'm super excited. After a twelve, that's right twelve, hour rehearsal on Sunday we are ready to rock and roll in Alice in Wonderland. Thanksgiving dinner last week was lovely; thanks to our professors and administrative liason, Cath, it was everything a Thanksgiving dinner should be. I ate wonderful food, laughed until I cried, convinced the entire table I was crazy, and threw my napkin...multiple times. It also made me realize how thankful I am to have this opportunity this year. I miss my family immensely, but I know that they support me and are so proud of me for going on this adventure of a lifetime. I'm also really excited about the Worcester Christmas Fayre this weekend! I guess it's quite an event around here, there's all sorts of booths with wonderful food and people dressed in Victorian attire and lots of fun Christmas gifts. I will definitely be writing about it next week. That's all for now.
Cheers!

Thanksgiving...Or Lack Thereof

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This week has been kind of hard. Partly because I've got a lot of homework. But the thing I've been struggling with the most lately is Thanksgiving, or rather the lack of Thanksgiving. Right after Halloween all the shops in Worcester switched to Christmas decorations and some even play Christmas music occasionally. All I could think was "No! You can't play that until after Thanksgi...oh wait." The fact that they just skip right to Christmas completely boggles my mind. My flatmates have never had pumpkin pie; they have no idea what Thanksgiving even is other than the fact that it's an American holiday that partially revolves around food. But it's so much more than that.
We're having a dinner with all the SIE students next Thursday, but the closer it gets the more I think about what I'll be missing back home. I have never missed my family more than I do right now. Not only will I not be at home for Thanksgiving, but just the fact that the holiday doesn't even exist here is kind of giving me a complex. I've tried to explain it to my English friends, but they just don't seem to understand what it's all about. For me, it's about being grateful for all the wonderful things I have, like my family. Being away from home for Thanksgiving has made me realize how much I love my family, and also how precious my time with them is. I'm also grateful for the amazing opportunity I've been given through the Study in England Programme; being here has already changed my life in so many ways and made me more aware of my own culture as well as others. So while I won't be around to watch football with my brothers or help my mom make pies this year, they will be in my heart all weekend. I'll also have all my friends here, both old and new, to share this holiday with. And hopefully, I'll be able to convey what Thanksgiving is about: being thankful.

Magical Adventures in Wales

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Hello again!
Busy times lately, what with midterms and two weekend trips in a row! But I'm having a blast. This weekend we took our trip to Wales with the program, and I was blown away by how beautiful it is. Even though the border between Wales and England is very close to Worcester, they are very different. Wales is distinctly un-English. They still have obnoxiously cute old houses and lots of sheep (apparently there's more sheep in Wales than there are people, 12 million to 3 million!) but Wales has a mysterious and wild beauty that England doesn't have. Everywhere we went seemed like a fairy tale. We stayed in Conwy (pronounced Con-way) and out the window of the hostel I could see the castle that is right in the middle of the town. Yes, a castle. I was in heaven. It's also a walled city, and you can go up on the old walls anytime and get from one end of the city to the other and see everything. I was also fascinated by the Welsh language; attempting to read the Welsh words on all the street signs became a sort of game for us. We also visited the seaside city of Llandudno (google pictures, I couldn't even believe it was real). Here some of us hunted for seashells and relaxed by the water while others walked the promenade. Sunday we visited Snowdonia, the mountainous area of northern Wales. It was absolutely breathtaking. Granted, they're not the Rockies, but these giant hills are striking nonetheless. Some of them had huge piles of broken slate (slate mining was huge in this area in the early to mid 1900's). We also stopped at a slate mine that has now been converted into a historical center. Then our real adventure began.
Shortly after leaving Snowdonia, the alternator belt on our coach completely snapped, meaning we were not going to make it back to Worcester without it being repaired or getting another coach. We ended up back in Llandudno at about 5 pm and prepared for about an hour wait. Unfortunately, most of the city shuts down at about five on a Sunday, including all the restaurants. So finding supper was an adventure in itself. I walked in to about four places only to be told they were closing. After finally finding a random kebab shop I returned to the bus to see what was happening. We found out that it was going to be at least another two hours before we could leave! We all found was to pass the time, some played tag on the promenade, some attempted to do homework. I ended up on a park bench under a street lamp, wearing a furry bomber hat and purple rain boots and reading for my Shakespeare class. I probably looked like one of the most eccentric homeless people that tourist trap had ever seen. At about nine we finally got back on the road. Needless to say, for most of us this delay meant we had to burn the midnight oil to finish assignments for our lectures on Monday. But, overall it was a fantastic trip.

London!

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Alright, due to some kind of technical problem my entry about last weekend did not make it on here, so here it goes again:
(8/11/11)
This past week was reading week, which is basically a week off of classes for fall graduation. Cassandra, Michael and I took advantage of our time off by taking a weekend trip to London! We left Thursday night and took the train over. It was my first time on a train, so that in itself was pretty cool. The journey was easy, for the most part. We did get off at the wrong stop in Birmingham, but all we had to do was wait ten minutes for the next train to get to New Street. Not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. A couple of Cassandra's friends from high school are studying at American Regents College in London this semester so not only did we have a free place to stay but we also had people to show us around! This made our weekend so much easier than the trips other people in SIE have taken there since we got here. Friday morning they took us to Harrod's, the world's biggest and fanciest department store. That place is truly incredible, I spent most of the morning with my hands jammed in my pockets so I wouldn't break anything. Then we headed over to Camden Market, where you can find just about anything you'd ever want to buy as long as you don't care where it came from. I loved Camden; it was bustling with people but it wasn't the least bit scary. Friday night there were tons of fireworks for Guy Fawkes Day, and we hit a couple of pubs to celebrate. Saturday we checked out Trafalgar Square, or Snuffaluffagus Square as I like to call it, outside the National Gallery. It's such a cool place, there's a huge fountain and you can climb all over the giant lion statues. We also visited Big Ben (turns out it's real name is St. Steven's Tower, Big Ben is just the clock), and checked out the London Eye from across the Thames. Then we managed to get tickets to see Legally Blonde the musical for only ten pounds each! This was definitely the highlight of my weekend. The tickets were super cheap because we were in the very front row, which means you can see every drop of sweat on a performer's face but you can't see their feet. Still, I loved every minute of it. I could lean over the ledge in front of me and see the entire orchestra pit. I even talked to one of the musicians a bit during intermission. I hope I'll be able to go back to London at least one more time; there's a couple of other places I'd like to see like the Globe Theater and Platform 9 3/4 at King's Cross! That's all for now, next weekend we're headed to Wales with the rest of the program.
Cheers!

Food!

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Today I want to talk about one of my favorite things: food. Since being in England I've discovered a couple of strange culinary masterpieces that I will definitely be bringing back to the states. The first, beans on toast. Usually eaten for breakfast, but can be any meal. Preparation is exactly what it sounds like: make toast, butter toast, pour baked beans on top of toast. I was a bit apprehensive the first time my flatmate had me try it, but I was pleasantly surprised. (Although I found out later that eating it sandwich-style is all kinds of wrong). Now I eat this lovely dish with a knife and fork like a true Brit. Next on my list? Putting malt vinegar on fries, or chips as they're called here. Side note, I will probably never call them fries again :)
Anyway, I know the vinegar sounds really odd but it is possibly one of the most delicious things ever. Especially late at night. Ketchup just seems so lame now! Interestingly enough, the ketchup does taste different here; its slightly sweeter here. Also, the chocolate here is AMAZING.
I've also discovered that there is a huge difference between the American definition of spicy and the English version of spicy. First of all, if you say the words "buffalo chicken" here you will be looked at like you should be in a straightjacket. They've never even heard of it! My heart broke when I discovered this. In a nutshell the English definition of "really spicy" is the heat equivalency of pepperjack cheese. If that. My mom sent me flaming hot cheetos last week and I had one of my flatmates try one. His face was priceless. "They're red, that can't be good!!" he said. He then proceeded to down his glass of water and start sweating. Hilarious.
I haven't had proper fish and chips yet; I've heard that the best place to get it is on the coast. I did try black pudding and haggis during our trip to Scotland a few weeks ago, however. Haggis is...interesting. It's kind of like meatloaf but squishier. I'm not even sure if that's a word but we'll go with it. Black pudding, for those who don't know, is basically a little cakey thing made of curdled sheep's blood. It didn't taste too bad until I thought about what it was, then I almost puked on the floor of the pub. But, now I can say I tried it, and that's what this whole experience is about. I came here to experience new things and have an adventure! So far things are going splendidly. That's all for today, feel free to email me with questions or comments at temme004@d.umn.edu
Cheers!

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