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Bonjour Paris

Time November 29th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on Bonjour Paris by

Sam and I started our trip approximately 6:00 am on the 5th of November for our 3 day Paris tour with International Friends followed by a 3 day Barcelona visit. The night before, we stayed up quite late to finish the work we’ve been neglecting all week, 2 lab reports due the following Monday. Stress. Since we were going to be traveling all throughout reading week, we had to get them done before we left. and we did..(much to my surprise. I still got a first, which is the equivalent of an A) With about 3 hours of sleep we got on the coach and began our journey to the city of love, Paris. The coach tour to Paris includes a bus ride of 2 hours to Dover Beach, then from Dover, we take a ferry to Calais, arriving in France. Then another 2-3 hour coach ride to Paris. Yes it was quite a tedious trip, but it was worth it. =)

We checked into our hotel in central Paris and I realized that I do not know a word of French…well..good thing we have a tour guide. Throughout my entire stay in Paris, I’d always find myself spitting out Spanish when French is needed. Fail. Epic fail ChenChen. After going around Paris for a couple of days, I can say that the city is absolutely everything you expect it to be! The city itself is just absolutely beautiful, however the three days of consistent rainfall, cold windy rainfall puts a damper on the mood. We did not let that get in our way of being touristy. The first night, we had a panoramic bus tour of the city, followed by a cruise tour down Seine, and then Eiffel Tower. The tower light up with astonishing white lights for the first five minutes of the hour starting at 6pm. I cannot even begin to tell you the beauty of such a sight, especially at night. Walking beneath la Tour Eiffel, I felt so content yet so insignificant. The body of the tower is softer and more elegant than that of a sky-scraper. It seems like, with her four legs and elaborate and detailed arches, rises into the air gracefully.We bought crepes on our way to back to the hotel- dulce de leche, and ended our first night in with some tacky French soap opera.


The next day, it seems like the gloomy weather of foggy London town has followed us to Paris. Cold cold rain came down, and lasted all day. Our first stop was the cathedral Sacre Coeur (sacred heart) which sits on the top of a hill. It was once the tallest point in Paris until the tower was built. After climbing many steps we were provided with a wonderful southern view of the entirety of Paris. Notre Dame was our second stop, the rain continued. We all had cold, wet feet by the time we arrived but Notre Dame was worth it. I did not take pictures but rather took some time for a much needed personal spiritual reflection. We took the Metro home after Notre Dame, as it was still raining. It is only 1,70 euro for a one way ticket on the metro- much cheaper compared to the London Tube, but that is what you get when the metro is subsidized 2/3 by the Parisian tax payers. We spent the rest of the afternoon napping and drying off. Dinner was at a pizza place our tour guy suggested. It was marvelous, the three friends and I had a great night with wine, 2 huge pizzas, and some amazing dessert. The rest of the night held more wine drinking, and bar hopping.

Again it was raining when we awoke on the third day in Paris. It was also the first Sunday of the month, which means the Louvre was open to public free of charge. The Louvre was much bigger and crowded than the other museums I had visited in London. We went straight for the Mona Lisa- who is smaller than expected, surrounded by a crowd of irritated tourists. The rest of the day after the Louvre was quite and peaceful, we stayed in and rested for our next destination, Barcelona!

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Remember, remember! The fifth of November!

Time November 15th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

I want to share with you a little interesting history about the day I left for Paris, 5th of November.

There is a nursery rhyme that goes something like this..
Remember, remember!
The fifth of November,
The Gunpowder treason and plot;
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot!
Guy Fawkes and his companions
Did the scheme contrive,
To blow the King and Parliament
All up alive.
Threescore barrels, laid below,
To prove old England’s overthrow.
But, by God’s providence, him they catch,
With a dark lantern, lighting a match!
A stick and a stake
For King James’s sake!
If you won’t give me one,
I’ll take two,
The better for me,
And the worse for you.
A rope, a rope, to hang the Pope,
A penn’orth of cheese to choke him,
A pint of beer to wash it down,
And a jolly good fire to burn him.
Holloa, boys! holloa, boys! make the bells ring!
Holloa, boys! holloa boys! God save the King!
Hip, hip, hooor-r-r-ray!

Perhaps most known to Americans from its appearance in the movie V for Vendetta. Variations of the above poem have been wide spread in England for centuries. Words of “Remember Remember” refer to Guy Fawkes with origins in 17th century English history. On the 5th November 1605 Guy Fawkes was caught in the cellars of the Houses of Parliament with several dozen barrels of gunpowder. Guy Fawkes was subsequently tried as a traitor with his co-conspirators for plotting against the government. He was tried by Judge Popham who came to London specifically for the trial from his country manor Littlecote House in Hungerford, Gloucestershire. Fawkes was sentenced to death and the form of the execution was one of the most horrendous ever practiced (hung ,drawn and quartered) which reflected the serious nature of the crime of treason.

I was not fortunate enough to partake in the celebration of 5th of November here in England, however, I hear from friends that London displays some of the most elegant and extravagant fireworks that they’ve ever seen.

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the one where she was outdoorsy

Time October 25th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

sheep

This past weekend, I went to the Lake District, or the mountains North West England. A rather popular holiday destination, it is famous for its lakes and its mountains (or fells), and its associations with the early 19th century poetry and writings of William Wordsworth. I was lucky enough this weekend to stay in the same area once inspired Wordsworth. IFSA Bulter Adventure weekend in the mountains of England’s Lake District; a well preserved national park.

Honestly, I don’t know how describe to you how beautiful this area is. I was content to be able to absorb this picturesque scenery on my own, for personal benefit. The first night, we arrived after a 6 hour journey and settled into the Glaramara Hostel. Then we all gathered for a delicious 3 course meal of your choosing at the hostel. Homemade ice cream was phenomenal. After dinner, we sat in the common room, with the fire place for some pub quiz, more or less, a trivia night! I was happy to make some new friends and reunite with some old ones that I’ve met at orientation that night whom also provided enjoyable company for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday we had a choice of two activities. So after a hearty traditional English breakfast, we departed for our respective activities. I chose to via ferrata for the first half of the day. Via Ferrata, the literal translation from Italian is “iron road”, it is a mountain route which is equipped with fixed cables, staples, ladders, and bridges. The use of these allows otherwise isolated routes to be joined to create longer routes which are accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities. They are found in a number of European countries, and quite the popular recreational leisure sport in Europe. The first via ferratas were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy during the First World War, to aid the movement of mountain infantry.

This activity provided an opportunity for me to see the beauty of being in the countryside. Below are a few of the many pictures to capture the beauty that I witnessed on this trip.

Saturday night was disco night! There was a small bar at one of the hostels, dance floor and a DJ. It was nice to hear American music and dance like we are used to. The night was a lot of fun joined by wonderful company of friends.

The next day we all groggily crawled out of bed to another delicious breakfast and I realized that we had another activity that morning-walking tour of Keswick. We walked around the town of Keswick (pronounced Kesick, w is silent) for about 2 hours. Fun Fact-pencil was discovered in Keswick, England. It was a cute little town, reminded me of Brighton.

This picture was taken in the Hope Park in Keswick.

This sums up an exhausting but amazing weekend! I thank Bulter for this well organized trip. It feels good to get out of London for a weekend, a change of taste makes the return way sweeter. I returned to Pooley House around 9 pm Sunday night to a hot long shower and bed, I never felt more content.

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the one with the railroad tracks

Time October 1st, 2010 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on the one with the railroad tracks by

Speaking of railroad, We are taking the train to Brighton, UK this weekend for a fun weekend of adventures. Apparently Brighton is the Jersey Shore of England, however, knowing that I will not see gorilla juiceheads puts a damper on the mood. =)

The notorious fresher’s week has finally come to an end, and school has started. I find myself having loads of free time. Let me define some terms before I start. I am at University, not ‘college’. We have lectures, not ‘class’, and furthermore, lectures meets once a week for not even 2 hours.

From my personal point of view, the university in England is more comparable to American graduate school. By the time students here are in ‘college’ or what we call it, high school, they narrow their classes in two main focuses, in which they will receive a degree from one of the two. As an associate student, (since I am studying abroad) I am taking classes from the School of Biological Science and Chemistry; however, I can take classes in any and all departments, the brits honoring the liberal nature of American education. In addition, the university is only 3 years instead of 4 and a masters degree takes only 1 extra year, and medicine and dental is only 2 extra years.

Here is a glimpse of my ‘time table’

monday
10-11 and 12-1 Microbial Diversity

5-7 Cell Biology

tuesday
10-11 and 12-1 Animal Physiology

thursday
9-11 Heredity and Gene Actions

with labs Mon-Thurs at various times.

Like I said, my schedule seems like its a handful of free time, but in reality if I used this time efficiently, I would be sitting in the library with piles and piles of books to read. Given that each class has 5 to 8 recommended texts. These ‘recommended’ texts are core readings, many are primary source, but they do not tell you when to have it done by. There are usually only two assignments. One assessment (worth about 20%) and a final (worth 80%).

This blog, is one of the things I am doing to avoid reading about action potentials and how cells communicate. =)

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the one with the recap

Time September 28th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

First real blog about my thoughts and feelings and everything nice.

It feels like I have been here for way longer than 2 weeks, nonetheless, I am enjoying every minute of it. I do have to confess, although the whole British accent is attractive and make you awe, it can be quite hard to understand at times, especially someone who is from northern England or Ireland. I am slowly picking up the phrases they use. Porridge=oatmeal. Learned that today, no wonder why I haven’t been able to find instant oatmeal at any grocery stores.

A little bit of back tracking, to talk about pre-Queen Mary.

norfolk plazaWe stayed at the Norfolk Plaza Hotel in central London. Sam and I are standing in front of it in the picture on the left. We used the tube almost everyday. Tubes, I have learned, are the primary means of transportation. Being in central London for a couple days was wonderful, it gave us a chance to experience the city life before we left for our respective universities. I have never lived in a city that was large enough to utilize public transportation. I was even too scared to use the CAT bus at Clemson. It was either learn to use the tube, or walk. Well, actually, I have never walked so much before! Londoners walk everywhere, which probably make up for their lack of daily exercise.

Video coming soon on orientation and settling in

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en route to London: my life in a suitcase

Time September 20th, 2010 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Being faced with one big suitcase, a tiny red suitcase and the command that I could only fill that much — getting these things to London and back would be quite expensive- the reality check that I cannot bring the old t-shirts from various high school and college events was heartbreaking. After about 8 re-evaluations of what I have in my suitcase, I finally came on top with 2 bags that are barely under the max weight. =) success.

but now that i am here… I realize you need loads and loads of dark, mostly black clothes. Way more formal and urban/hipster than what I am used in Clemson, which is a southern school in South Carolina. An analogy for you, boots and booties would be the ice cream to the sundae. A light boyfriend blazer or biker jacket take part of the banana of the banana split. Scarfs, leggings, and flats make up the chocolate fudge, now if you have the right handbag-the cherry on top, you’d make the perfect banana split. Now that’s my fashion advice to you guys who are stressed about what to pack.

video is still a work in process. i am having a hard time uploading them for some reason. but it is coming soon.

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