I know it is technically week 4 but I have been really busy doing homework so I will talk about week 3. Last week was busy because of homework and a lot of different events. I had a lot of homework that took a lot of time to do but I also had a great week. I went out with friends on Friday and on Saturday my friends and I went to San Miguel Allende all day. I had a great time shopping in the tiny stores and going to the hot springs. They were not what I expected because I thought they would be more open and under a waterfall. I was a little sad at first but I had a blast swimming in the hot and cool water there. All in all last week might have been stressful but I also had a great time spending time with friends.
My first week in London was alright, though I spent the majority of the time wanting to go home. It wasn’t that I disliked London or was having homesickness, it was the heat and jet lag. The first weekend was crazy. With too much stuff happening at one time, I was glad when classes started Monday. It was something normal in a sea of chaos. I really like my classes and my professors are nice. Last week also marked the beginning of field trips, both class related and not. For history, we visited the Churchill War Rooms and it was amazing being in such an important place and knowing that during the war, no one knew that Churchill and his team were working only a few feet under London. In English, we visited Shakespeare’s Globe, the Rose theatre, and Richard III with Martin Freeman. It was a really busy day, but a dream come true to a English major. On Friday, I went on the weekend excursion to Edinburgh, Scotland. On my gosh, Scotland is so beautiful and the weather was so nice, (it reminded me of Oregon). On Saturday it was raining and foggy, making everything more magical. I’d go back to Scotland any day.
Below in order: Winston Churchill, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and foggy Scotland
This is my second week being in London! How time has flown by! Classes are going well it seems really relaxed, most of the topics we discuss in class are all based on discussion and personal experience. Since my last blog I had the opportunity to go to platform 9 and 3/4 and to Edinburgh, Scotland. That was quite an adventure, upon arriving we visited the castle, where we saw the crown jewels, prison, and a small church. While we were there it was raining and windy, reminded me of being at the beach. But it was still gorgeous. We went to dinner at a restaurant and had desert. The desert was so delicious! I had blended raspberry with whiskey, and also tried another whiskey that was honey and it was really good. Trying to come back to London was a nightmare, we had missed the last train, which we were not aware of, and had to find a place to stay with some friends, after all that struggle, we finally made it back to London. The train ride back was awful, we were in a cart that had no air conditioning and the train was a lot longer than getting there. We finally made it back to campus and was relieved.
Monday we had classes, went to lunch, then rested, after that went to dinner and went to Kensington Gardens where we saw the statue of Peter Pan and the waterfall memorial for Princess Diana. The park was amazing. Everything was nice. We walked along the path and passed a bridge, got to see the sun set, and then walked into town to finish our night with some ice cream.
Still enjoying my time abroad, but I am starting to miss my family, I don’t want to leave London, but if only my family and friends were down here! Another thing I miss is having access to water fountains! Until next time!
Another busy week has passed and I am now on week four out of five, which is crazy to think about! School has been crazy busy and it has been a challenge to keep up on it all the time, but I still find time for fun things. This week, some friends and I saw “How to Train Your Dragon” and “Transformers 4″ at the movie theater by my house. We watched “Dragon” in Spanish and the other in English. Together, both movies were only two bucks, which was exciting!
This weekend we went to a nearby city called San Miguel Allende. There, we saw a beautiful church, ate some delicious Italian food, and went swimming in a natural hot springs. Overall, I had a really great time in the city!
The next day at a study party, Nicolette I found some delicious Chinese food at the mall. It goes to show how diverse it is here in Mexico and you can find just about any kind of food! I also learned this week that I love nopales salad, also known as cactus salad. WP_20140720_011 WP_20140720_004
Another great week in Mexico! Over this past week we went to the movie theater for the evening and watched two movies. We watched How to Train Your Dragon 2 in spanish and Transformers 4 in english with spanish subtitles. It was fun to watch How to Train Your Dragon 2 in spanish because I have already seen it in english so it was interesting to hear how the sentences were phrased differently in spanish even though they essentially had the same meaning. Transformers was good as well and I found the spanish subtitles very useful when there were people speaking chinese. The rest of the week was fairly uneventful; lots of homework and school.
Saturday we went to San Miguel Allende for the day. We explored the central plaza, which included a huge church that looked more like a disney castle to me, ate some yummy food, and went to lots of shops filled with trinkets and other interesting things. We finished our time there at a hot springs resort.
On Sunday I went to church again and this time I brought two of the other girls with me. After the service there was a potluck so we stayed and ended up having a really good time. We tried a lot of new food and made some local friends that we will be spending time with later this week.
Only two weeks left and I am looking forward to all of the things I have left to do. We are coming up on a lot of tests and papers but I am not too worried. I know everything will work out. I am looking forward to coming home but will be sad to leave this beautiful city!
Finally Maggie, Olivia and I hiked up to El Cristo which is a gigantic statue of Jesus, similar to the one in Rio de Janiero but not nearly as huge. It was the longest hike of any of our lives. We took the long way up which consisted of several wrong terms and some 90 degree inclines. It was essentially a stairmaster for about 3 hours! We were exhausted.. plus the humidity just made things awful. Luckily we made it up there and we could not be happier. We took the rough way up which nobody else in the program had the guts to do and we think it made it wayyy more rewarding. We walked by a lot of interesting and beautiful things that made the trip much better than taking a bus 75% of the way there. We felt like true Spaniards hiking up to the top. About half way through the trip we all decided that we deserved to eat something super fatty and delicious after such a huge hike, a 12.3 mile day, and that place was McDonalds. Of course you do not come to spain to eat McDonalds but after over 3 weeks in a foreign country you want something that resemebles home. Even my host mom mentioned how good it was! So we all gave in and had it the next day… it was FANTASTIC! Plus they use 100% real beef and have some of the strictest food policies here in Spain so the food was even better. I had never been so happy to eat fast food before… or have a drink with ice cubes :) Anyway.. back to the hike. Once we got to the top we could over look the whole city and it was gorgeous! You could see just how compact Oviedo is snuggled behind beautiful green landscape. It was one of the best feelings to stand up there after seeing how far away we had hiked from. The Cristo was even better in person than we thought and the fence right infront of him had dozens of “love locks” hooked onto it that were really adorable. We enjoyed our accomplishment and then had to look forward to the next 2 hour hike back down. It was a great evening spent with new friends talking about everything from boyfriends to beauty secrets. These girls have been the best people to hang out with in Spain because we are always on the same page and it is always a funny and interesting time when we are together.
Looking through all of my posts, I’ve realized that for some reason my pre-departure post isn’t on here, probably due to error of user. Anyways, before I departed I was still a little bit undecided about how I felt about Spain in general. Naturally I’ve always had more interest in traveling to countries that were not the imperialists but those that were colonized so needless to say Spain wasn’t the first country that I thought I would study abroad in. I try not to have expectations when I travel but just as a comparison, I thought it would be more down to earth than the USA but more sophisticated than Costa Rica (which is the only other country I have experience abroad in). I had heard that Spain is a very religious country so I assumed that there would be a lot of churches and that the culture would be more religious centered than in the USA. I also wasn’t sure what to expect because I knew that Oviedo is an older, historical town but that it wasn’t excluded from the festive night life that takes place in all of Spain. I think of myself as a pretty open-minded person so I just saw myself learning to interact with the Spanish culture as best as I can. I know that making mistakes is part of it all so I saw myself enjoying the experience whether it was similar to what I thought it would be like or not. My main concern was that I wouldn’t get along with my host family because that has a significant impact on my experience in a foreign country. I was also concerned about the language barrier but I also knew that the language barrier is probably one of the most exciting challenges for me. All in all I was a bit apprehensive but also super excited and grateful to be able to visit SPAIN!! I am so fortunate for all of the opportunities presented to me and I really value being able to study abroad and see things from other perspectives!
Free Stock Photo of Church
Another week has gone by and the Scottish adventures continue. This week I started my internship as a research assistant with the School of Sport here at the University of Stirling. So far, I haven’t done too much, mostly because it’s hard lining up everyone’s schedules. Hopefully though this coming week we will be able to run some trials with cyclists to measure lactate levels. My mentor’s name is Ian Walshe, and he is super nice. He has made sure to introduce me to a lot of people in the department, both professors and students, which had made me feel very comfortable and welcome. I am already starting to feel like part of the team!
This week, me and some other students decided to go into Stirling and do the Ghost Tour. We went and we had a great time. The guide we had was in full costume and character as the old town “torturer”. He was hilarious and all of the stories he told us were very good as well. After walking through the old part of Stirling, he took us up to the cemetery, which was very old and beautiful, not as creepy as I thought it was going to be. But our guide was very knowledgeable and told us not only ghost stories, but also a lot of the history behind them which I really appreciated.
This weekend though, I took a guided three day trip of the Scottish highlands. I have to say that this trip was definitely the highlight of my trip (at least so far). There were 16 of us on the tour, and we were all from the International Summer School at the University of Stirling. Our guide’s name was Nory, and he was frankly the best tour guide I have ever had in my life. He was hilarious and told us tons of stories and history about all of the places we went and made it interesting, not a boring history lecture. The first day we drive through the highlands to Glencoe, Fort Williams, and even stopped at the Genfinnan Viaduct, which is better known as the Harry Potter Bridge. It was amazing how beautiful and green everything was, things in Oregon are green, but it is nothing compared to the shade of green in Scotland, it looks almost fake! Going into every valley (or Glen) I expected to see Hogwarts or characters from Lord of the Rings, it was like something out of a fantasy film. It was also really cool because Nory pointed out several places that had been featured in the Harry Potter films, which I really enjoyed being a huge Harry Potter fan myself.
The second day we spent exploring the beautiful Isle of Skye off the coast of mainland Scotland. We first went to the faerie pools, which if you have never seen pictures of, Google them right now. They are these beautiful clear blue pools and waterfalls that you can swim in and walk along. We ate lunch there and waded around in them for a bit. Since it is mountain run off, they were refreshingly cold, but it wasn’t anywhere near as cold as the Oregon Coast so I was fine. After the faerie pools, we headed out and stopped at many places to take pictures of various mountain ranges, kilt rock (which as the name implies it a rock that looks like the pleats on a kilt), and the old man of Storr (which is an interesting rock that is supposedly made by a fairy). The last stop of the day was Faerie Glen, which is where the entrance to the Faerie World in supposed to be. Nory warned us that we better all believe in faeries or we could be dragged into the faerie world where we would be stuck for a whole year until we could get pulled back out again.
The third and last day of our trip started out with us getting the chance to go out onto Loch Carron with a local fisherman to catch Queen’s scallops. It was quite an experience going out onto the Loch. When the catch came up, we all had fun picking through all of the different organisms that had been caught in the net even though we didn’t catch too many scallops. After sorting through it all, the fisherman cooked us some scallops. and it was pretty good even though I am not a big seafood fan. After that, we headed back out on the road and went to Loch Ness and then to Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave to round out our trip. To my disappointment, I did not see Nessie, but that doesn’t mean that she doesn’t exist!
Well that’s pretty much it for this week’s adventures. As I hope you can tell, I had a fantastic trip seeing more of Scotland. The views alone were well worth the trip. I think that if you ever get the chance to explore the Scottish highlands, you will never regret it. This has been an experience that I know I will treasure for the rest of my life. It was absolutely amazing.
I’ve had so much fun learning new words in Spanish. I’ve picked up some words here and there. There a few slang words I’ve picked up on, mostly just shortened words from words I already know. I’ve also felt a lot more comfortable with speaking Spanish and asking people questions. I’ve started talking with my host family more and more about topics I am not as familiar with to see what I can learn from them.
It’s been getting a little harder to go out since we’re getting more projects and having tests. But, on Wednesday we took a break and went to the movies. Movies here are cheap by a whole lot. We saw two movies for 62 pesos, $6. We saw How to Train Your Dragon 2 in Spanish. I was most pleased that I understood most of what was going on, the rate of Spanish was easier for me to understand and the animation helped. We also saw Transformers 4 in English with Spanish subtitles. We were all curious to see how things translated. I was curious about how things translated differently and not literally, but that’s language. It doesn’t always translate literally.
Yesterday, most of us went to San Miguel de Allende. It’s a big tourist city that’s closer by Queretaro. Lots of people go there to retire, most are rich, or have extra money to spend. So, things are slightly more expensive there. There’s also a beautiful cathedral there. My host family says it’s based off of a cathedral in Europe. I found a site online that says the architect used European cathedrals for his inspiration.
One thing in Mexico that I’m learning to have fun with is bartering. Some vendors don’t do it and some prices already seem fair, but it’s fun to try on occasion. You don’t ask to barter, you just do. It’s a cultural thing that’s something I’ve found that’s fun. They name a price, you say a lower one until you come to an agreement. I’ve just asked for 10 pesos less and they’ve accepted. I’ve gotten a bracelet and a doll that way. I’m curious to see what else I can barter for.
Week four is just ending and in about 8 days I will be on a plane back home. I still can’t believe that time has passed so quickly.
This past week has been great, just like the rest. The week started off with tango lessons and some pizza. The tango lesson was super fun, and all in all quite a success. I managed to not fall on my face and I had a good time, so I will call it a win.
Friday and Saturday were spent in Buenos Aires. Despite a few bumps in the road (like a 5am Friday morning, 7am construction outside the hotel, tiny hotel rooms, getting ripped off for lunch), I had a great time. We visited a lot of historical sites. We visited La Recoleta, the Boca Juniors stadium, el caminito, la casa rosada, el museo de Evita Peron, and la plaza de mayo. A lot of the things we learned about I already knew but it was to see the local perspective on the topics. There are things, like Evitas death, that I definitely want to research more about. But the highlight was the delicious dinner with an amazing tango show. We got to see amazing dancers, musicians, and singers. It was interesting an interesting experience to see a real tango show. From beginning to end, the tangos and songs told a story.
For Saturdays lunch we got to wander around a less touristy town and we found a great meal and I finally tried the traditional Argentine parrillada. Not only was the food delicious but the service was great.
Today was a pretty relaxed day back home in Rosario. Had a good lunch and walked along the river and bought some presents for my family.