Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Some Long-Overdue Logging

So it's been awhile. I have good reasons, I swear. There's been so much going on in the last few weeks, especially trips, and I'll tell you a little bit about it now, with a few illustrations. (I've set my Facebook albums so that anyone can view them; click a photo to look at the corresponding album!)

Four weekends ago now, we (as a study abroad group) went to Paris for the weekend. This trip was included in our fees for the London program, so everyone went. I, of course, had never been before, so that was fine with me! I was initially afraid about not knowing the language, but that quickly proved itself to be a non-issue. Most French people can speak English, even if they don't want to, and even then, it's pretty easy to get by when buying things just by presenting the correct amount of euros and saying, "Merci!" It was a fun trip; it's a very pretty city with a lot of well-planned out landmarks. The Louvre Museum is huge and very impressive, and Paris beats London in the food contest hands-down.

Of all the places I've been this semester, Scotland is my favourite (at least so far). Through the school, a group of us took a bus tour that left from Edinburgh and took us through the Highlands to Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye. It was an incredible experience. Scotland is a beautiful place in its own way (mountains and endless plains and incredible ocean views; that kind of thing). It was also cool to learn about traditional Scottish culture, which the people are very proud of. I wished I could afford to buy a kilt by the time I was done; they're expensive because a kilt is the Scottish equivalent to a nice suit or even a tuxedo. (Also, Scrooge McDuck is a native Scotsman, so the country wins by default.)

Bath, the Cotswolds, and Stonehenge

The next weekend, Carrie and I decided we'd take a weekend trip. A few hours' bus ride later, we found ourselves in the small but beautiful city of Bath, England, home of the natural hot springs that the Romans treasured and used a LOT when they were occupying the country way back when. Today the hot springs are still doing their age-old thing, and there's a modern spa you can go to if your wallet is so inclined (ours weren't). It's a beautiful, historic city with some interesting architecture and a friendly atmosphere. We also took a day-long bus tour from Bath to see the nearby little villages and landmarks all around the nearby Cotswolds region, eventually ending up at the ancient and mysterious Stonehenge. We decided that the most interesting things about Stonehenge were not that stones themselves, but rather in the distance all around the landmark, you can easily see these rather large burial mounds that were made thousands of years ago and exist still today.

And finally, I spent my last weekend in Wales. This trip was different from the others, as it had nothing to do with famous landmarks (as Wales has none, just a ton of sheep) and everything to do with adventure. Saturday, we hiked seven miles along the cliffy coast in the morning and went coasteering in the afternoon. Coasteering is basically where you get on a fullbody thermal wetsuit, you go climb around on those coastside cliffs, and you jump off of them into the chilly water, swim around, climb around, jump some more, and generally have a lot of fun. I'd do it again, I think. On Sunday, we sea-kayaked, which was also a great time. We got to see a seal close-up and some coastal caves and lots of fun waves. I was glad to have a break from sightseeing, I must admit, and this was the perfect trip for it.

And we can't forget, of course, that I've been living and going to school in London this whole time! Living in London is pretty much like living in any big city, I suspect (which is the most I can do since I've never actually done it before). I realized yesterday that I stopped noticing how stunning the buildings on my street are; like anything, you start to take it for granted after awhile. Living in the city does have its plusses; pretty much anything you want to do is at your fingertips: museums, musicals, shops of all kinds, restaurants, parks, music, et cetera and all that. And while I'll be glad to be home come December, I certainly won't ever regret coming abroad; it's making me see things in a different light and appreciate a lot of things I took for granted before.

Time to go. Maybe I'll write again soon; who knows! Cheerio!

(P.S.: If you go to Fisher, I hope you've been watching out for my 'Skip and Cal in London' comic strips in the Lifestyles section of every edition of the Cardinal Courier. A couple of quirky Rochesterian animals in London; what could be better?)