If you recall from my last (vlog!) post, I mentioned that March was already shaping up to be quite an exciting month. Two weeks into it, I’m already having the time of my life.
When I last left you, I recently completed three essays and was looking forward to a nice easy week before diving into the next set due March 30. Well, after my cozy week, I ventured out to Oxford on a Saturday day trip with IFSA. Unfortunately, in my ‘taking it easy’ week, I forgot to charge my camera batteries. So apologies for the lack of Oxford pictures. We had a wonderful tour from a student at one of the many colleges and his anecdotes about the university’s traditions and rituals really emphasized my love for local knowledge about these cities surrounding London. For lunch, we followed his suggestion of a pub down a few alleyways and had, again, fantastic food. Apparently, an alleyway is a key feature in the local pubs with fantastic food I’ve visited outside of London. (Remember Winchester?) Anyway, after a satisfied appetite and a pint of a local bitter beer that was phenomenal, we visited Blenheim Palace, the residence of the Duke of Marlborough and his family about eight miles from Oxford. The palace, also the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, was magnificent on the inside. There were many French touches and the state rooms were all matters of extravagant. Personally, however, I fell in love with the gardens and grounds outside the palace. With the lack of pictures, you’ll have to take my word for it, but the gardens (against the sunny backdrop we were lucky to have) were breathtaking. I wish I had the day to wander around the grounds, with the flowers beginning to bloom in the first tastes of spring and the sculptures decorating the grass. It was truly amazing.
Upon return to London, I geared up for my 21st birthday. That week was the most homesick I’ve been since first arriving, knowing that 21 is rather important in the U.S. and my closest friends would not be here with me. However, with the never-ending enthusiasm from my flatmates in London, the slight homesickness quickly subsided and they organized a spectacular birthday party for me, complete with tons of sweets, candles, and a wonderful card. It’s fantastic how quickly they’ve become good friends in the short time I’ve been here.
I additionally lucked out because the IFSA Adventure Weekend coincided directly with my birthday! I adored spending the weekend in North Wales, where we kicked things off correctly by winning Oran’s Friday night pub quiz. (My team gave me the trophy for my birthday and it sits next to my computer in celebration.)
Saturday I hiked into the old slate quarries and had a tremendous view of the Welsh countryside, complete with the vast amount of sheep commonly found in Wales. I also visited Caernarfon Castle, which was designed as a palace by Edward I after conquering Wales and offers a fantastic view of coast and town from atop the towers. To get up the towers, there are about four flights of steep, narrow, winding steps that are equally hard to navigate in both directions but completely worth the view.
Before returning to London, Sunday morning featured a trip to the coastal town of Llandudno, along the Irish Sea. This town had the perfect coastal feeling that reminded me of Cape May, NJ (for those of you from that area) and the fish and chips surpassed anything I’ve ever imagined! The beach itself was actually rocky- no sand at all. (Not that I minded the lack of sand everywhere for the bus ride home!) There was even a pier reminiscent of the boardwalks down the shore and against the backdrop of the mountains, I would make this my summer home in an instant!
After the excitement of Adventure Weekend, I settled back into the study part of study abroad. Though, with two great friends from the U.S. coming for their spring break and participating in King’s Musical Theatre Society’s production of Hot Mikado at the end of the month, this brilliant month is just getting started. See you in two weeks before I head to the continent for my spring break! Happy St. Patrick’s Day and Happy British Mothers’ Day (March 18) to my wonderful mom, my fantastic Nana and Mom-mom, and my amazing aunts, cousins and family friends who are mothers!