Category Archives: England

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The End, and the Beginning, of Another Amazing Week

Before I start throwing out all the words, here are some visuals to help describe my adventures for the last week!

British Museum- Armor   Platform 9 and 3-4   Vegetarian English Breakfast- Glastonbury   Arthur and Guinevere   Glastonbury Tor- Group   Bagpiper

Hot Sass in Scotland   Scotland- A View from Above

From left to right, and up to down. (1) Armor from the period of Roman Britain (what the Hobbits may have had in their collection, and what Arthur and Lancelot would have worn: British Museum, London. (2) Headed to Hogwarts, at platform 9 and 3/4: King’s Cross Station. (3) The Traditional English Breakfast, with Vegetarian Sausage: Glastonbury. (4) The (supposed) original tomb of the legendary Arthur and Guinevere: Glastonbury Abbey. (5) A group selfie, with Glastonbury in the background: Glastonbury Tor. (6) A bagpiper: Edinburgh, Scotland. (7) Glorious Hot Sauce: Edinburgh: Scotland. (8) The view from above: Edinburgh: Scotland.


After a little over two full weeks in London, I am feeling pretty run down, and starting to get a bit homesick. But even though it has been overwhelming, I am having the time of my life.The trips never end! With two classes, I am going on about three to four excursions per week. This last week, I went to the British museum (3 times!), the British Library, Glastonbury (the first burial site of the legendary Arthur and Guinevere), Lacock (a village where some Harry Potter scenes were filmed), and Scotland (a personal trip). I didn’t think that it was possible, but I had even more fun this week than I did last week. I was able to admire many items and locations that inspired my inner (or outer, it is obvious) English nerd.

One of my the fun locations for this last week was the British Museum, three times. Now, this may seem like overkill, but I still have not seen everything that that museum has to offer! It is the biggest building I have ever been in, and more items stored than would fit in our university. Someone could go there every day of the week, and still not feel as though they had seen everything, not to mention they change the exhibits often. You would think that such an awesome museum would be expensive, but entrance was free! Of course, I still had to buy some books at the gift shop, since I didn’t have to spend money on admission. �� I also bought some books at the British Library, which was the most amazing archival/English experience that I have ever had. Our class explored the treasures room, which includes such original documents as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (My absolute favorite novel) and Beowulf, written in Old English (My favorite Epic).

Glastonbury was absolutely beautiful. I got to see the ruins of the Glastonbury Abbey, as well as the tomb that the legendary Arthur and Guinevere would have been buried in (of course, this is all legend). And I also got to climb up to the Tor, in which one can see to “the ends of the earth.” I am not exaggerating when I say that this was the most beautiful view that I have ever laid eyes upon; I felt like I was on top of the world: it actually inspired some tears.

Lacock was a cute little village, which is apparently a prime filming spot, as there was filming going on during our visit. This cut off our access to the Harry Potter film sites that we had come to see, but it was still fun to explore pieces of the little village. I had some delicious dark chocolate, and took a picture as an English prisoner.

Scotland was my favorite trip. Although Edinburgh is also metropolitan, it was much quieter and less crowded than London. Also, residents have worked very hard to protect the look of the city; new construction has to fit in with the old buildings. This makes it very fun to visit, as you really get the feel of a complete city, rather than the parts and pieces that arise in London. I also appreciated Scotland because the people there were much nicer; they smiled at us, an occurrence that is rare in London. I was also able to hear multiple Scottish accents; it is easy to tell which accents come from a “higher” class. Hearing the “lower” class accents made me feel like a fit in a little more, since I always feel like I am mumbling in London; I couldn’t understand the “lower” accents that ran together. Now I know how Londoners feel when I talk to them; I should get a cone installed on my neck…

I am still discovering cultural differences, every single day. One of these was quite shocking. This last weekend, I decided to chop all my hair off in Scotland, (don’t worry, I have been planning on doing this for forever,) but I could not find a barber shop that would serve me. Apparently, even with a short cut, barbers only cut male hair in Scotland. When I did find an actual hair salon, a woman, not a man, had to cut my hair. This was pretty surprising to me, as it is not like this in Oregon. I felt a little bit oppressed, even though I know that this was not the intent.

Even though I am feeling a tad homesick, since I never have time to sit down and just relax, I can’t picture living in the states for the rest of my life. As I stated in my last post, I am seriously considering graduate school in the United Kingdom. And even if this does not happen, I will definitely be coming back to visit even more places next year, such as Ireland and Paris.

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US vs. UK Round 3

This update will take place as a rambling of sorts, as it is more of a focus on cultural differences noted during my three weeks in the UK thus far. For those of you who crave a little structure, the general layout will be as follows: language barriers and jargon, smoking, food quality, Edinburgh differences.

English is English, no matter where you English – this is certainly not the case. Even within the States, one catches different pronunciation of words or the dropping of some (as in AAVE, or African American Vernacular English). Having taken Linguistics classes on the matter previously, I knew that in the UK, words would be different, but they would also drop the article ‘the’. This can be found in speakers saying “You go to University?” or another example, “I have to go to Hospital”. For my own personal enjoyment, I have been keeping a list of items that have occurred in the UK, along with their US exchange. Below, I have posted a few of those items from my list:
Garbage — Rubbish
Elevator — Lift
Bathroom — Toilet
Sidewalk — Footpath
Thief — Tea Leaf (derogatory/insult)

Smoking. Smoking everywhere. On the streets, outside every door, in and out of the pub, wafting in the entrances to anywhere you go, clinging to the clothes of some chap bustling in front of you on the tube . . .smoke. This is something I had never really thought about when I pictured London. Instead, it is almost overwhelming to see how many people smoke here. Men and women equally, and of all ages, as well. One thing that I have noticed with this, however, is that most of their packs of cigarettes have ads on them showing pictures of blackened lungs or hold facts regarding secondhand smoke, etc. These are scattered about the sidewalks and filling the nearby rubbish bins, but a public message nonetheless.

At first, I was slightly apprehensive about the food in the UK – those I spoke to had mixed reviews, but it was always either love or hate. I had a 50-50 chance of either loving or hating the food I was about to have to experience for a month. On top of that, being a vegan worried me. In the states, especially those on the West Coast, we have a very ‘hippie’ way of handling what goes into our bodies. This was something I was used to having, a privilege if you will.

However, all of the food that I have eaten so far has been wonderful. The expiration dates come sooner, suggesting less preservatives, and everything I have tasted has been fresh and well-prepared. Even finding vegetarian options has been easy (most places have it clearly labeled – grocery stores and pubs alike). One thing I had noticed was that things labeled vegetarian still included egg. For some this may have been confusing, as some still partake in eggs as vegetarians, while others do not.

Another thing that I have noticed, and was noting with a friend today about, was that their sweets are delicious because they are not overwhelmingly sugary. If they are a treat, such as a cookie or even a chocolate bar, it is not terribly full of sugar – it is made with more whole ingredients to balance it out. The two of us discussed how back in the States, we were not apt to eat as many treats or were more picky about what we ate because of the content of sugary sweetness in them – yet here we had not had that trouble so far. An interesting thought, that is for sure.

Lastly, I had the pleasure of spending this last weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland. It was definitely a place I wished I had made more time for. This would be an area that I could spend months in and never grow tired of. Just a few hours north, and what a difference! First, it was an atmosphere I was more comfortable with, since I come from the Pacific Northwest. I was happy to see greenery, and have an overcast sky over my head at most hours of the day. Second, the people were more varied in styles and expression than London. In London, one sees most people in business attire. Meaning dress shoes, blouses and suits, skirts and slacks, and so forth. In Edinburgh, there were people of all shapes, sizes, hairstyles, and the like, making our little group feel more comfortable without standing out like sore thumbs.

Speaking of the people in Edinburgh. . .they were always pleasant. They were less standoffish as those in London. They smiled warmly, greeted us with ‘good morning’ and such as we passed, and always were happy to hold up conversations during transactions. It was an interesting contrast to those we had been interacting with thus far.

For now, I believe that is all in regards to London, but surely there will be more coming in with each passing day.

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Onto London

Well, my study abroad classes are done but I’m not. My friend Sunny and I are currently in London which was an adventure. Turns out Ryanair sent us the wrong information so we missed our first flight. After a panic attack or two later we figured it out and got to London. Yay us!

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After that we had to travel to London itself. We were a couple hours out in some god forsaken field meaning we hit London at 10:30. After that we had an hour and a half walk to the hostel. Eventually we gave up and took a taxi. Long story short, we got in at midnight.

Today was better. We had High Tea for brunch (because we slept through breakfast) before going to the British National Museum.

It was gorgeous. We spent four hours there and still didn’t see everything. I loved the medieval history room. My only problem came after an hour and a half of Greek urns. There are only so many I can watch before my eyes glaze over. But the rest was awesome. Tomorrow we’re headed to Westminster Abbey which will be great!

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Week 1

ah dear wou blog, so much has happened since we last spoke that I feel the need to be ridiculously overdramatic. Sunday we had orientation in the morning and then had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. I went with a group to see the changing of the guard, but we didn’t have a very good view so I basically just saw the parade. After that, my group went through St. James’s park and then over to Big Ben and Westminster abbey. The abbey was so gorgeous but we couldn’t go in because it was Sunday. That night I went with some friends from class out to dinner at this burger place down the street. They had fantastic milkshakes that reminded me of mike’s drive-in near my house so that was awesome. Monday was the first day of class and it was fairly interesting we learned about the basis of the English government system. That night we went out to Leicester square for dinner which was really nice, I know I’ll be spending loads more time out there later. Tuesday was my first day off and I went with some classmates to go see the changing of the guard. We got there early and got some pretty decent spots for the whole shebang, after that we went out to the barracks and goofed off there for a little bit before heading to Westminster. The line to get into the abbey was really long so we skipped it for now. That night we went out to the London bridge and then walked over to the tower bridge and the Tower of London. We would have gone in but they were closed for the evening so we just enjoyed the scenery. Wednesday was class day two and we talked more about crime in England and it was really cool learning about the difference between the U.S. and the UK. I was exhausted after class and decided to take a lazy day that ended with a show. There’s this really cool little theater not far from us and they were doubt productions of Shakespeare’s king Henry V. It was an all female production with everyone except Henry also being a member of the chorus. Not gonna lie it was really cool. Thursday marked our first field trip and we went out to battle to see the battlefield and battle abbey from the battle of Hastings in 1066. The British will tell you that that was the last time that they were successfully invaded so that’s pretty cool. I went shopping that night out in Leicester square. They have a big m&m store, not quite as big as the one in Vegas but pretty close. Today I went on a CCSA field trip to Salisbury and Stonehenge. At Salisbury they had the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta and had a big display because of the 800th anniversary of the document. Stonehenge was a bunch of old rocks in fancy positions and it was more interesting when you think about the history of the place and how old it is and how much effort must have been put into it. Tomorrow I’m off to Ireland to see the lovely Jen Hight while she’s over there. I wanted to see it anyway but since it’s her last weekend I’m going now to see it with her. Oh and I went to the first Hard Rock Cafe tonight and got my pin and shirt so I’m content for now.

Here, have some photos

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A gate at buckingham palace

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Me at buckingham palace

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Me me with my new buddy Big Ben

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The outside of Westminster abbey

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A tomb at Salisbury cathedral. I have no idea why the photo is upside down but I don’t care enough to fix it.

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First Impressions

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Halfway through my first week in London, and I can still hardly believe that I made it here. Today has been my first real shot at ‘down time’ upon arriving.

My trip here was long, but decent. An eight hour flight took my friends and I from Oregon to Iceland, where we soon boarded a plane from Iceland to London, which ended up being nearly three hours. Our arrival at the place we would be staying was not until late afternoon. By then, we barely had time to unpack before we opted into a walking tour of the area to see where everything was in relation to our rooms. Once that was finished, we immediately walked the few blocks to the college for a dinner and orientation with everyone involved in the program – the three of us nearly falling asleep the entire time due to our overnight travels.

To say I slept like the dead that night would be an understatement.

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On Sunday, we had another morning orientation, then headed off with a group of people to see the Spitalfields Market. There, we saw crowds of vendors and sampled delicious foods. I personally had lunch from an Eritrean food stall since it is one of my favorites and hard to find around my home town. In our walking around, we experienced multiple cultures and languages just in passing — much more than an average day in Oregon. On the way out, we sampled some chocolate coconut tea that was to die for, and a friend and I purchased a few grams of it to have in our rooms and take back to the states. It tasted as if you were eating coconut chocolate. . . quite a delicious flavor for a tea, if you ask me.

Monday was my first class for Myth, Legend, and Horror. The professor is wildly intelligent and often times gets carried away with random subjects as he knows so much about everything. A welcomed resource in this foreign town. So far, I have yet to have trouble finding food that is acceptable for vegans. A lot of their foods are labeled clearly in relation to whether they are vegetarian friendly, and so forth. Of all the foods I have sampled so far, there have been no disappointments. Everything is so fresh and delicious compared to back in the states. My little group even noticed that their expiration dates come sooner, probably because they do not load it with preservatives and so forth.

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Tuesday was our first field trip day for Myth, Legend, and Horror. The first stop on the map was Warwick Castle, a beautiful, well-preserved chunk of history. The castle was enormous and each room within it held various time periods to show how life changed within its walls throughout history. There were manicured rose gardens and even a working trebuchet – ultimately making the trip worth it.

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From there, we hopped back on the train to head for Stratford, where Shakespeare was born and buried. The little town was so cute and almost seemed set back in time – the buildings old yet well taken care of. There were statues around erected in memory of Shakespeare, and places boasting more amazing food and random items for sale. My friends and I even entered a magic shop, complete with hilarious host and scrumptious butterbeer.

Wednesday was laid back in the sense that my friends and I planned out how we would be spending our weekends – concluding that this weekend we would do local things around the area, only to take the train to spend next weekend in Scotland. We have yet to decide whether we wish to head for Paris or Ireland, considering the cost of everything (don’t even get me started on the £ to $ conversions. . . ) Outside of that, we decided to attend one of the local pubs in the area known as The Thirsty Bear. We chatted with some locals and merely sat to eat our dinner and observe London life around us, as well as discuss what we thought of it all so far.

We have learned that people put much more effort into how they look here, and almost suspect that they can tell we are tourists by the way we dress. Women here are constantly in heels or dressy shoes, skirts or dress pants, and dressy tops. The men are almost always in suits, or at least something close to that range. Our group almost wishes we would have known this beforehand, as in our debriefing, they had said jeans and shirts would be fine – but now we feel we stick out like sore thumbs amidst the crowds. Another thing we have noticed is that despite it being an English-speaking country, we often have to slow down or repeat what we say due to our different accents; something we would have never thought about otherwise. Considering the language and cultural variety in this city, it makes sense.

Today (Thursday), I merely went to a local cafe on my own and brought my books to read. It was pleasant to settle into a chair at an outside table, sip at my coffee, and whittle away some of the reading required for class.This way I am getting in small breaks while still experiencing the area and getting a feel of it, without always having the ‘go go go’ mentality.

Overall, I am excited to see what the next few weeks bring.

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The longest day ever

I figured I’d make this before I passed out considering I’ve been up for like 28 hours. So I made it to London, it was a little stressful being my first flight and customs and getting to the dorm but I managed. We went on a little walking tour and it was nice to see what was nearby but my feet are killing me. Tomorrow we just have orientation and then we can do whatever we want all day so I’m not even sure what I want to try and see first.

Here, have some pics I took throughout the day.

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Some artic ice near Greenland

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Good morning iceland

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First glimpse of iceland

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Traffic jam on the runway

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Inspy with my my little eye, the London eye

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The Summation of Months of Hard Work

It’s official. Something that started as merely an idea in the back of my mind has now become reality. It seems like only a few weeks ago our professor for an English class was coming in, talking about studying abroad and her own experiences – both for leisure, and as a professor. It piqued my interest, sure, but instantly it was drowned out by thoughts of time, expenses, and a thousand other problems that could arise.

Still, I picked up one of the handouts as the class trickled out the door.

It has been several months since that time in my English class — months full of fundraising, stressing, worrying, panicking. . .but also months of growing excited. Of wondering what life outside of the country will be like. How I will change and develop more as a person, as an individual. Something that seemed so far away is now something that I will be diving into as of tomorrow afternoon.

I will be honest and say that I am not looking forward to the longest flight of my life. I have traveled independently many times in my life in flying situations, but never internationally, so there is a fresh sense of anxiousness awaiting me.

Everyone around me continues to ask if I am excited. . .and yes, deep down. But I know that until I am settled in my seat, actually flying there, with all of my hard work and frantic planning behind me. . .that is when I will be excited.

Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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Introduction/Pre-Departure

So, I’m Courtney and I’m half really excited and really nervous because I leave in less than a week for London. I’ve never flown by myself before which is part of the nerves but it should be fun (and it gets me out of work for a month so hey bonus). Honestly though I can’t wait to go and explore and have fun and figure out if British food is really as bad as everyone says it is. And I just recently found out that you’re not supposed to make eye contact with anyone while on the tube, so hey bonus for me because I hate eye contact with strangers.

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Let’s get this show on the road.

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Looking Forward to London

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Studying abroad is an opportunity that I never thought would be available to me. I told myself, during my first year of school, that I would not be studying abroad. But when the perfect opportunity arose I took it: I will be leaving the country on July 10th to study in the United Kingdom.

As a future language arts teacher, I do a lot reading, and much of it is British literature. This trip is going to allow me to see the places where great works of literature were made immortal: where Arthur conquered the hearts of all, and where Keats created his powerful poetry. What better way is there to understand the context of British literature than to be immersed in what inspired it? I am so excited for my classes!

I am also excited for my free time! I will watch the changing of the guards, see some plays, walk into cathedrals, and even travel to Paris! There are so many fun things to do; I don’t know where I am going to start. Maybe this list will help!

However, I cannot help but to feel a bit overwhelmed. Though I am extremely excited for this opportunity, I do have some worries. The first is about my preparedness for classes. Many students, from other universities, that participate in this program are on semester schedules: they finished the term in May. This means that they have had much more study time. I, on the other hand, finished on Saturday of finals week, and I am also currently working Monday through Friday. This does not leave much time for my studies, and I have been dreaming about how much easier it would be to just take one class. But, I can’t imagine giving up either one!

I am also a bit worried about my outgoing personality. It is recommended, when trying to blend in, that one is not upfront, or loud, or touchy. The problem is that this is who I am; I love meeting new people, I am a blabbermouth, and I always offer a handshake or pat on the shoulder.

But, it is perfectly normal to be worried about such things. I accept that I am worried, and I will use it to power through. Tea for me, please!

In the word’s of the great Samuel Johnson (the best procrastinator literature has ever been blessed with): “there is in London all that life can afford.”

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Catching up!

Apologies to having been here so long and not being able to post! My name wasn’t added to the system and when it was tried it took awhile before it would work. As well to add to the difficulties, the internet on this campus is rather shoddy and is not always dependable for heavy sites like blogs, facebook, skype, etc.

I arrived here in London, England on the 9th of September. To sum things up quickly, I have never felt so at home, yet entirely different in my entire life. The first week was exhilirating, the University of Roehampton had us doing activities for the first two weeks from the first day on arrival. I will make more posts about each indiviual trip and experiences but wanted to make this inital post.

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