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Time July 1st, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After packing up my entire room and getting it all on a bus and through Heathrow, which if I do say so myself, was really impressive, I had a lot more stuff than I thought I did, I am home.  Well actually I’ve been home for about a week.

I think I already miss Wales, if that’s even possible, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.  I think I grew so much personally and I had so much fun travelling and experiencing different places and cultures.  But I guess it is nice to be home at the moment.

Apart from still looking the wrong way when I cross the street I really don’t feel any big differences, more like I just slipped back into America pretty much exactly where I left off.

So to anyone who may be reading this and might be considering studying abroad, do it.  To anyone considering Cardiff, go, no it’s not London but it really is a fantastic city (and way less expensive too!).  It really is a fantastic life changing experience, and I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true.  And I know most people only study abroad for a semester but I am really glad I stayed for the whole year.  It gave me time to adjust to a whole new living situation and then gave me time to really enjoy and experience that new situation.

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A few last minute travels

Time June 4th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Classes ended about a month ago so for the last few weeks I’ve been taking exams and doing some last minute travel.  I’ve still got 2 more exams next week then I fly home the following Monday.  But last week I went to Edinburgh for a few days and I just got back from Dublin yesterday.  Scotland is unfairly beautiful really as is Ireland, although I saw less of Ireland outside Dublin since I flew in instead of taking the train like I did to Scotland.  With these last two trips I feel like I’ve visited pretty much all the places I wanted to go while I was over here.  Traveling was a big part of what I wanted to do while I was abroad and I’m so happy I got to do as much as I did.

It’s weird to think I have less than 2 weeks left and I still have to take two more exams in that time, and pack.  I am not looking forward to packing just as I am not looking forward to lugging all my stuff to the airport.  I haven’t even begun to think about packing yet and the idea is a bit daunting since it seems like I have so much stuff.  Although it can’t be that much more than I brought over and know there’s a decent amount of stuff I’m not taking back.

This will probably be my last entry while I’m in Wales.  I’ll have one more once I get back home but until then I hope you’ve enjoyed reading these and they’ve helped you make a decision if you’re planning on going abroad.

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2 months left…

Time April 17th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’ve handed in my second to last essay, I’ve registered for fall classes back home, I have my exam schedule, and I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to need to buy more shampoo or if I can make my current bottle last.

I know 2 months seems like a decent amount of time but when I’ve already been here for 7 months it doesn’t seem like any time at all.  This whole year has gone ridiculously fast, in a lot of ways I don’t want it to end.  I love being here, I love this city and the weather (I know, someone who loves Welsh weather, impossible) and the guys at the chip shop are just starting to remember me.

Despite being here for 2 more months I only have 2 and a half more weeks of class which is a little bit unreal.  I only have 14 more lectures to go then I’m done with them.  How is that even possible?  I feel like this term just started.  In the spring Cardiff has 5 weeks of exams because there are full year courses that have exams in the spring as well as all the just spring courses.  I’m less worried about most of my exams this time around since now I know how exams work and have already passed three of them.  I’m not looking forward to the two hour ones because you’re not allowed to leave if you finish early.

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I know, I know…

Time March 15th, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I should be posting more, I know.  But what with starting a new semester, bank problems, a whole slew of essays, and travel plans, I have not found the time.

But no one cares about how busy I’ve been.

This past weekend IFSA took us to North Wales for their Adventure Weekend, I couldn’t go last semester because I would have had to miss two classes but this semester I was totally ready.  I chose to do mine exploration, which was an all day activity, and let me just say that it was awesome.  I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did.  That whole area of North Wales is covered in old slate mines used mainly in Victorian times, shutting down around 1950, so for about 4 hours we got to explore one of them.  And this exploring was not just wandering around, it involved, climbing up a waterfall, zip lining across a deep pool of water, belaying down a drop, and finally climbing up an air shaft to get out.  All of which was bookended by a hike up and down the hill.  It was incredible.

Other than that, I’ve got one more essay to do (or at least get mostly done) before spring break.  I will be spending spring break with my sister in Europe.  She’s got the same break as I do so she’s flying over next Friday.  We’re doing London then a few places in France and Italy than she’s flying back to New York from Zurich, and I’m flying back to London, although I have yet to book that flight.  Let’s just say that I’m going to have a very busy next 7 days with planning and essay writing before I set out for London, but at least I won’t be fighting jetlag.

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I’ve been neglecting you

Time January 23rd, 2013 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hello again!  I know it’s been awhile but things here have been just a little bit crazy.

The first term ended without any sort of stress, it was weird to not have finals before break, but here we take our exams when we get back from break since classes don’t start until October.  As soon as the semester was over I headed to London to meet up with another American friend who was here for the semester to head to Europe.  We spent three weeks travelling to Paris, Antwerp, Munich, Berlin, Amsterdam and Brussels.  It was amazing.  I loved all of it, especially Berlin, where we spent Christmas.  I spent New Year’s in Amsterdam in the pouring rain in Dam Square, full of drunken celebrators setting off fireworks, it was great.  I also ended up meeting some people who went to school in America right near my home school.  I know it’s cliché but it really is a small world sometimes.

As soon as I got back to Cardiff it was time to start studying for exams.  Fun I know.  At this point I’ve taken two and have one more to go on Friday.  Then new classes start on the 28th.  I’m only taking two more classes this semester, plus the three full year classes but this semester I’m taking one on Egyptian archaeology which I am so excited about.

It’s also been snowing over here.  I love snow, a lot, like a little kid likes snow.  It just makes the whole city so pretty, especially Cardiff Castle.  I mean it’s a castle covered in snow, how much more magical can you get?

And now to hold you over until my next post, here are some pictures from Europe and Cardiff in the snow

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London again

Time November 15th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Last week was Reading Week for my school, we don’t have classes so that we can all get some reading done and work on whatever assignments we have.  I decided that it would be a good time to travel so I got the paper I had due finished with a week before it was due so that I could, I almost never get things done much before hand, so I guess the aspect of travel is a good motivator.

I decided to go back to London because there was still stuff that we didn’t get to do during our short orientation and it was close enough that it didn’t require a huge amount of planning.

I took the Megabus there on Monday morning and stayed until Friday night.  I love London, I really do, and I can’t really explain why, I just love everything about it.  I spent the week pretty much just wandering around different areas of London going into places that looked interesting.  The only real plans I went there with were that I wanted to go to something for Bonfire Night ( I ended up going to a fireworks display in Southwerk Park) and I wanted to go the Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker Street, which I did because Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time.  I also got to see some Christmas light displays which were already lit up.  It’s a bit odd to be in a country where there’s no big holiday between Halloween and Christmas like in America, there are already a ton of Christmas decorations up and no one is complaining that it’s too early like they are in America.  Personally, I taken advantage of the fact that I don’t have to wait until after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music, which I love.

I only have four and half weeks, and one paper left until Christmas break which is crazy, this semester has gone by so fast.

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Comparing Baltimore to Cardiff

Time October 25th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Going to school in Baltimore and going to school in Cardiff are two incredibly different experiences, and not just because of the difference in school systems but because of the cities themselves.

First off, the majority of Baltimore is not somewhere you want to find yourself in alone, it still is one of the US’s most dangerous cities, although not number one any more.  The Inner Harbor is touristy and safe, Charles Village, where I live, is full of students and safe for the most part but we still get emails about armed robberies every so often, there are a few other parts of the city that are okay, like Hampden but for the most part it’s pretty dangerous.  It’s unwise to walk more then a few blocks away from campus.  Because of this there’s a phenomenon referred to as the Hopkins Bubble meaning that most students rarely get off campus.  Not a lot of students have cars so our options are public transportation, which is not reliable to say the least, and walking, which means we mostly stay on campus.  There are enough events or work to do that we’re not always bored, but it does get restricting at times.

Cardiff is a totally different story.  My dorm is in a great location for walking.  It’s closer to the City Centre than most dorms and close to most of the University buildings as well, less than five minutes to my building.  The City Centre is incredibly convenient.  It’s got pretty much everything you could need and it’s already decorated with lights for the holidays.  My dorm is also less than a 15 minute walk to Albany Street which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places.  It’s full of charity shops, cafes, and a few grocery stores.  It’s also the location of Rainbow Bargain, a bargain stores situated in a beautiful old church.  It’s got a much bigger selection than Poundland and is much cheaper than Pound Stretcher, both of  which are located in the City Centre.  This is where I finally found cheap(ish) hangers.  But what I like most is the charity shops.  I am a big bargain shopper so if I can buy a purple wool coat for £4.50 ($7.25) I’m a happy camper.

I feel much more free in Cardiff.  I can go where I want to, I can walk around and explore.  Case in point, there’s a park just down the street from my dorms in Baltimore where I lived for two years, I’ve never been there.  I’ve been in Cardiff for just over a month and I’ve already spent several hours wandering in Bute park admiring the landscape.

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Passing the one month mark

Time October 25th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I can’t believe it’s already been over a month since I’ve been here.  I’m only just getting around to getting stuff I’ve been needing.  Obviously there were some necessities I bought within the first week like a pillow and food.  This week I finally bought hangers after searching for some decently priced ones so my drawers are less crammed with bulky sweatshirts.  I had an extra long cold for the first few weeks I was here but I think I’m finally over that (and hopefully I don’t jinx it and get another one).

Because of professors being away of sick I don’t think I’ve had a typical week of class yet and the semester is almost halfway over already, but I am enjoying my classes.  One of them, Technology and Materials has been using pottery examples from Egypt and that class always makes me miss being there.  I’m so excited for my Egyptology class next semester.

I’m glad I decided to be abroad for a year instead of just a semester (even though it means going 9 months without decent peanut butter).  If I was leaving in December I feel like I wouldn’t be able to really experience it here, it’s just not long enough.  I feel like I’m only just getting into the swing of things and I wouldn’t want to leave just yet.  On the downside, we have fire drills every 6 months so I’ll be here for another one.  We had one at 9am this Monday in the rain, it was not enjoyable.

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Moving Across the Pond

Time September 28th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I’ve now been in Cardiff for a little over a week (although I’ve been in the UK for a few days longer) and I figured it was time to tell everyone what I’ve been up to.

After hauling my 80ish lbs of luggage through Heathrow and then on the Tube into Central London we had a few days in London for IFSA Orientation.  I loved London, I wish we could have had more time there but I’m sure I’ll be going back soon enough, I still have a huge list of things I want to see there.  It’s such a meandering city, as someone who spends enough time in New York City, I’m used to grid like cities but London isn’t like that at all, roads twist and turn with no apparent pattern while parks and clusters of trees seem to pop up randomly.  We spent a lot of time learning about what exactly we were getting into, about the differences in the school systems and culture but we did get to go on a walking tour ending in Picadilly Circus where we saw The 39 Steps, which was enjoyable despite only having seen 1 Hitchcock film.  

Andrew took us all out to Cardiff on the train on Wednesday (we rode first class, probably the only time I will ever ride first class on a train) and we all headed off to our respective dorms.  The other 5 people here are all living in the same building but I’m in Aberdare Hall, an all girls building which is much closer to campus and the city centre.  It’s also just around the corner from the School of History, Archaeology, and Religion, which is where my classes will be.  And I live on the ground floor, so I didn’t have to carry all my stuff up any stairs.  It’s also a really pretty building, it was built in 1893, is all brick and has it’s own garden and music library.

The first few days there wasn’t much going on in terms of orientation so I spent that time buying the essentials that I hadn’t brought with me, an outlet adaptor, pillow, phone, food, etc. in the city centre, which is a shopping centre about a ten minute walk from where I’m living.  It has one of the most confusing layouts of anywhere I’ve ever been.  There are all sorts of passes through buildings and turns everywhere.  I like it though, it’s got a ton of stores.

I’ve picked out all my classes, I’m just awaiting approval from the school to get everything finalised.  I’ve also unpacked (even if it did take me a few days) and put up posters so I feel actually settled here.  I’m ready for classes to start, but I am hoping I don’t have any really early ones.    Tomorrow is the Societies Fayre, so I’ll be going to that and hopefully joining a few clubs (Tea Appreciations Society perhaps?) and that’s one of the last orientation events.

So, that’s been my week, next post will hopefully be about Cardiff the city, assuming there’s some nice weather sometime in the next few days and I can take some pictures.

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Countdown!

Time September 6th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

It’s been a rainy day here in New Jersey.  If I wasn’t going abroad this year today would have been my first day of classes but as I am going abroad I spent most of my day knitting and going through some stuff in my room to get rid of.

My summer has been very long, it was the longest summer I’ve had in all my years of schooling. I spent five weeks in Luxor, Egypt on an archaeological dig which was amazing and I’ve been very slowly cleaning out my bedroom at home to pass the rest of the time.

The countdown widget on my desktop that has been dutifully counting down since before the end of the school year stands at 11 days and 22 hours at time of typing.  I can’t tell if the time has gone fast or slow.  I remember when, not too long ago, it was at over 100, but at the same time these last 2 weeks are going slower than I thought possible.  Everyone I know is back at school and a friend of mine studying in England this year has been over there for about a week already.

I have a lot planned for the next 11 days.  I’m going down to Baltimore to visit some friends down there, I’m going up to New York, I have to pack, I have to finish packing, I’m going to a Florence + the Machine concert the day before I leave.  Basically I’ve got plenty to keep myself busy but I don’t think I’ll be able to get Cardiff out of my mind.

I’m incredibly excited.  Excited to experience something new, a new country, a new school system, a new adventure.  I’m excited to take classes that are nothing like the ones back home, I’m excited to travel.  I’m just really, really excited.

Upon next post I will hopefully be in London or Cardiff, until then.

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