Friday, April 28, 2006

mid-semester musings

As of today, I have 50 days left here in the UK.

Then I will be packing my bags (well hopefully they'll be packed by day 49, but you all know me...) saying goodbyes (which I have come to hate by now) to my family and friends here, and flying back home.
Wow, talk about mixed feelings.

Part A of me is eager to get back to life as I know it, to home, to Mike, to my friends, to summer and to "normal". I haven't really been homesick this semester, like, not wanting to be here. Of course I've missed people; and little things like FOOD and driving and TV and not having to bag my own groceries (let's face it). And Wheaton. It will be good to be back at Wheaton. As much as I procrastinate, it's never been worse than now, and at UoG the workload is only about 1/10th of what I'd probably have at Wheaton!

now, Part B says that I am settled here now and things are getting to be "normal". Normal meaning for the semester-- knowing that I'm only here temporarily. But there's something comfortable about routine, predictability and establishing "usual" - like knowing what kind of laundry detergent to get at Wilkinson; knowing which aisles to visit whilst grocery shopping at Tesco; looking the right direction when crossing the street... everyday things that are not so much of an exploratory task these days. Not to say that I've figured everything out, or that it's not fun anymore, but I think most of us American *foreign exchange* students can say that we can pretty much get around now. (especially since we speak the same language-- after our adventures in Europe!)

There's always that little thought in (I guess it would be Part B) the back of my mind that wonders what it would be like if I did stay in England and if my adjustment to a new country was for a more permanent residency. I wonder how it would be different, or how far I really am in the "adjustment" phase? Just a thought. (Don't worry Mom & Dad, I'm coming home) :)

Part B also reminds me about going back to the States and how the whole reverse adjustment process will be. I'm curious to see how many things I will notice that I haven't before. To see what will strike me as odd, obnoxious, surprising, luxurious, obscene, pleasant-- things I never would have given a second thought before my 4 1/2-month hiatus. Almost like visiting the US as a foreign country. But Part B is a little worried about missing things from life in England that won't be the same once I return home. And I have no idea what it will be like to come back; processing and reflecting and all that good (but complicated) stuff. And Part B is also concerned that the home Part A imagines/remembers might not be the same as it really is.

Am I making this way too complicated? Could be. Yet the whole immersion experience is so gradual and subtle that I think I won't fully realise how much I've learned until it's over.
But the only way to find out is to wait and see! Until then, I'm going to enjoy the last few weeks here in Cheltenham and welcome the spring!

Salzburg, Austria

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

by Dr. Seuss


Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own. And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who'll decide where to go.

Pisa, Italy

You'll look up and down streets.  Look 'em over with care.
About some you will say, "I don't choose to go there."
With your head full of brains and your shoes full of feet,
you're too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any
you'll want to go down.
In that case, of course,
you'll head straight out of town.

It's opener there
in the wide open air.

Florence, Italy

Out there things can happen
and frequently do
to people as brainy
and footsy as you.

And when things start to happen,
don't worry. Don't stew.
Just go right along.
You'll start happening too.


You'll be on your way up!
You'll be seeing great sights!
You'll join the high fliers
who soar to high heights.

woke up EARLY to watch the sunrise in Florence

You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

Except when you don't
Because, sometimes, you won't.

I'm sorry to say so
but, sadly, it's true
and Hang-ups
can happen to you.

You can get all hung up
in a prickle-ly perch.
And your gang will fly on.
You'll be left in a Lurch.

You'll come down from the Lurch
with an unpleasant bump.
And the chances are, then,
that you'll be in a Slump.

And when you're in a Slump,
you're not in for much fun.
Un-slumping yourself
is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.
Some windows are lighted. But mostly they're darked.
A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!
Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?
How much can you lose? How much can you win?
the Mediterranean!

And IF you go in, should you turn left or right...

or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?
Or go around back and sneak in from behind?
Simple it's not, I'm afraid you will find,
for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused
that you'll start in to race
down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace
and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,
headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.
The Waiting Place...

...for people just waiting.
Waiting for a train to go
or a bus to come, or a plane to go
or the mail to come, or the rain to go
or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow
or waiting around for a Yes or a No
or waiting for their hair to grow.
Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.
Everyone is just waiting.

That's not for you!

the Colosseum, Rome

Somehow you'll escape
all that waiting and staying.
You'll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you'll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you're that kind of a guy!

Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. there are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.
Fame! You'll be famous as famous can be,
with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Except when they don't.
Because, sometimes, they won't.

I'm afraid that some times
you'll play lonely games too.
Games you can't win
'cause you'll play against you.

All Alone!
Whether you like it or not,
Alone will be something
you'll be quite a lot.

And when you're alone, there's a very good chance
you'll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.
There are some, down the road between hither and yon,
that can scare you so much you won't want to go on.

But on you will go
though the weather be foul
On you will go
though your enemies prowl
On you will go
though the Hakken-Kraks howl
Onward up many
a frightening creek,
though your arms may get sore
and your sneakers may leak.

atop Mt. Vesuvius, Naples, Italy

On and on you will hike
and I know you'll hike far
and face up to your problems
whatever they are.

You'll get mixed up, of course,
as you already know.
You'll get mixed up
with many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
and remember that Life's
a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.

munchin' on a pretzel in Munich, Germany

And will you succeed?
Yes! You will, indeed!
(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)


Salzburg, Austria

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Prague, Czech Republic

Saturday, April 22, 2006

home at last!

well, sort of. Cheltenham home. but boy it sure feels like home!

from the abounding number of comments I can tell that you all missed me sooooooo much. And hopefully I still have fans out there somewhere... yes you random xanga stalkers who read and never leave comments, that's you. I expect a little give and take here. I get complaints about not updating, but how am I supposed to believe anyone actually reads this? (christina excluded... thanks trist:)

I am finally back in England from an AMAZING spring break. The whole thing, Ireland, Italy, a little taste of Eastern Europe-- it was fantastic! And today, Steph and I, being the good little English majors that we are, went to Stratford-upon-Avon to celebrate Shakespeare's 442nd birthday & pay homage to our favourite playwright. (actually I think we realised how many Shakespeare plays we really don't particularly care for) We went into his birthplace, saw his grave, and saw a little performing in the park next to the river Avon. The town was buzzing because of the festival, and the weather was gorgeous! The only thing that could have made it better was seeing a play at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. But that's for another day. :)

10 days of backpacking in Europe was just enough for me, I think. I was getting pretty tired by the end of it. (and running out of clean clothes.) But thankfully everything went terrifically well-- we made all our trains and got to every place we planned to go with only minor complications... and didn't really have any safety issues. It was evident to me on several occasions that God was taking care of us! Thanks for all your prayers.

I will try to get my pictures us ASAP. There are only 700 or so to sort through... :)

in the meantime I need to do some much-needed laundry; I've been avoiding my backpack since I got home!

hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

love from rainy Cheltenham

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Pasqua... Roma... magnifico!

Happy Easter from Rome!
We made it from Florence on Saturday afternoon and tonight is my last night in Rome. So far everything is going great! Leslie and I met up with 3 others and so we have a nice big group for a few days. Tomorrow morning we are setting off for Naples and Pompeii and then getting on a long night train up to Munich! (just me & Leslie)
Today we saw lots of Roman ruins, including the Colosseum. We kind of did our own walking tour and got to see a lot of sights we wanted to get to.
The weather was gorgeous today, and camping in Roma has been much warmer than Firenze. Its amazing how much warmer it really is even though we are really not that much further south.
Having a blast in Italy!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Buon giorno!

I am at an internet cafe in Florence right now.

heres a quick update of what I have been up to the past 2 days:

theres so much to tell but Ill just say that I finally was able to find Leslie in the airport, it was a little scary there for a minute but we met up in the airport alright. After I flew in, we went into the city of Pisa and saw the leaning tower. then we went to Florence.
we found our hostel, errr campsite finally after a few hours of wandering around Florence (in a big circle might I add.) We are staying at a campsite which is actually pretty nice. we stayed there last night and are staying 2 more nights before we head off to Rome. Saw a beautiful tuscan sunset last night, and we have a great view from our camping site so we woke up early to watch the sunrise. (and then we went back to bed to sleep for a while)
Camping hasnt been too bad and not to mention its super cheap but the only thing is that its really cold. Sooo today I had to buy a sleeping bag which i didnt want to have to fork out the money for but I have 4 more nights of camping and last night it was kind of painful (it got down to 40 degrees!)
so far my impressions are that Italy is beautiful, its everything you expect and then some. I guess if anything I would say that its a very "romantic" place.
I tried to upload a picture but i dont know how to do it on this computer sorry :(
the language barrier has been interesting but not too much of a challenge. a lot of people speak english. and the number of Americans you run into here is really kind of annoying.
well thats all I really have time for right now, but Ill hopefully write again later!

love from Firenze