Friday, May 26, 2006

Just another day in Cheltenham

I am taking a break from writing one of the 3 essays I have yet to finish by Saturday. They are, however, the last three papers I will have to write this semester. Funny to think I've only written 3 other ones this semester. I really hope that when I get back to Wheaton I won't be completely shocked by a regular workload.
Oh, and good news-- I passed my geomorphology test :)
passed. good thing my grades don't 'count'...

This past week has been pretty uneventful. Doing work, or trying to. Sunday, however was a pretty good day. Steph & I went to the early service at Trinity and then I went out for Sunday roast with some people. Sunday carvery: roast dinner with lots of veggies including 3 kinds of potatoes, and Yorkshire pudding of course. Probably one of the more satisfying meals I've had since coming here (which I can probably count on one hand).

Then we went to the French Market on the Promenade... which would have been more enjoyable if it wasn't raining, but I suppose that would be expecting a little too much of England. Just had to make sure I didn't take someone out with my umbrella whilst browsing the croissants...

It was fun, though. I bought some nectarines, and Molly bought a baguette-- it made us even more excited to
go to Paris!

I have come to looove open markets :)

(Well I guess it was more of a French/ Swiss market.)

The last few weeks of the semester are pretty much planned out. This Sunday, BCA is taking us to Cardiff, Wales again, but this time to see a football match. Cheltenham town football club has made it to the finals-- I haven't been following it really, but the match is at Millennium Stadium so that's kind of a big deal.

Monday is another 'Bank Holiday' here in the UK, coincidentally on Memorial Day. I'll probably go down to the watch the Cheese Rolling races here in Gloucestershire (I hear it's on ESPN, too) to watch a bunch of people roll down a steep hill chasing a 7-lb. cheese. hah.

Wednesday I'll venture into London yet again. I'm going to see Mel Brooks' musical, The Producers, which will fulfill my interest in seeing a West End show.

Sometime before I leave I will probably see my family once more. A couple other trips to Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon might be in there somewhere too, but we'll see.

And in three weeks I'll be packing up... how am I going to get everything home? How am I going to get myself home is the real question.

Today at my last lecture of the semester, I was talking to a couple British girls and they asked if I was wanting to go back. It's hard to answer, really, because I miss a lot of things (and people) about home, but it's also intimidating to think about, because it means adjusting all over again. Talk about a catch-22. Life here has become so normal. We'll see how reverse culture shock goes...
there's so much more I could say, but it probably wouldn't make much sense, and I don't even know where to start.

ciao for now

p.s. stay tuned for another good list... it's a long one but worth it I hope :)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

more pictures

Stonehenge and Bath pictures here

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I'm going to Paris :)

on my birthday.

June 13-15.

taking a Eurostar train via the channel tunnel, aka 'the Chunnel'.

for Edinburgh pictures, click here

3 papers, 2 exams, 1 group project and 24 days till HOME

Monday, May 15, 2006

Let's see, what is Anna up to these days...

One month till I pack up and leave. Wow. One month ago I was in Rome.

Wednesday, May 17,
will mark the 100th day of living in the UK! It's also exactly one month from the day I leave.

Now, to the answer of the question 'Are you looking forward to going home?' to that I would answer a hearty 'yes'. Lately I've been really itching to go home. Just some of the things that have been wearing on me about being here are wearing some more. There are people here I will miss a lot. There are things about life here that will never be the same for me again. But home is home, and that's all there is to it.

This past weekend I travelled to Tonbridge to visit my family again. My cousin Susanna & her baby are going to America today to visit my grandma and my family in MI & OH, and she is kindly bringing some of my things back with her. Which is a huge help, because I don't think I would have been able to get it all back without having to ship boxes home!

So I got to spend some time with them, see my adorable little cousin who is getting so big! :)

The downside of the weekend was that it took me 6 hours to get back to Cheltenham. Normally it should only take 4; I have to take a train into London, take the tube into Paddington station and then another train back to Cheltenham. But apparently the train had a broken window, and so it was delayed 45 minutes while they replaced it. No big deal...
Then, we stopped at Reading, which we originally weren't supposed to stop at... and then the train manager announces that we will be stuck there for a while because there's been an accident up ahead, possibly a fatality, and that the railway in this area has been blocked off and we will be stopped at Reading for an indefinite length of time. ugh.
okay. whatever. so I go back to reading Washington Square.

More announcements follow, saying that there was indeed a fatality and someone was hit by a train. there have been buses provided for those customers whom are travelling to Swindon. (that doesn't help me at all). And he says that if anyone wants to go back to Paddington and continue their journey tomorrow they can do that.

still doesn't help me. might as well just stay on. but at this point I'm starting to wonder how long it's really going to take...

an hour...

hour & 1/2....

and we start moving, but he says he's not sure if we'll get stopped again or if we're just moving to make room for other trains that have been queuing up behind us.

ok, so I haven't mentioned that, while we were stopped at Reading, a group of four young blokes have joined us.

So we start moving and he starts complaining... not seriously, the kind of complaining like, "I'm just complaining sarcastically to get attention"

He says, 'Why couldn't the person get hit by a train tomorrow or yesterday, instead of the day I'm on the train' and his friends chuckle.

and then the woman behind me is talking on her mobile,
'why does this f-ing always happen to me when I travel...'

and there's a kid across from the loud kid talking with his girlfriend about how it's the end of the world.... you get the idea.

a bit later the loud kid starts up again, saying how he wants his money back and blah blah blah... I paid £20 and it's taking me this long... blah blah...

I'm fuming. Not only because I can't sleep and I can't read, but because I don't understand. A PERSON got hit by a train and DIED. get over it, people. your life will go on. unless, of course, the wrath of God strikes. (and I wouldn't blame him for that)

I got back to Cheltenham 2 hours later than I planned. Just like everyone else on the train.
And I was up for a couple hours later before turning in for the night. I was exhausted... no Sunday afternoon nap. I know, tragic.
Thus, I overslept my alarm this morning and missed my 10:15 Psych lecture. oops. (now for all of you who say, 'Anna? oversleep? naw...' I'll have you know that this is the only time I've overslept for something since I first got here... when I slept 15 hrs the first night. so there.)

In other news, I didn't get to meet up with my roommate last week :(
we just couldn't get in touch and it didn't work out. But they sang at St. Paul's Cathedral! (where Princess Di & Charles were married; Winston churchill's funeral, etc)

Tomorrow I leave for Scotland! Another 6-hr journey, up to Edinburgh. But thankfully it's a direct train so I won't be standing around any stations waiting for delayed trains this time. I'll be staying with Gretchen for 2 nights, and I come back on Thursday night. Friday my playwriting script needs to be done.... oh dear.

Lately I've been looking into Eurostar tickets to Paris. We'll see what happens...

Monday, May 08, 2006

6-7 May - another great weekend

On Saturday, BCA took us on a little field trip around the area in England called "the Cotswolds". Cheltenham is actually in the Cotswolds, but we went around to some of the smaller surrounding villages. These villages are characterised by their honey-coloured stone buildings, and "wool churches," as these towns were once an important centre of the wool trading industry. Driving through the area you see lots of sheep grazing in the hills. (Click here to read more about the Cotswolds.) You also see a lot of thatched-roof cottages.

It's a beautiful area, very picturesque and peaceful. The classic "English Countryside".
We stopped at Stow-on-the-Wold, Bibury and Cirencester, but we also drove through Winchcombe, Burford and Broadway.

It rained for a little while so we didn't end up stopping at Burton-
Water. But many of these places are so close, like 10-20 minutes away, so to hop on a bus and visit another day would not be a huge task. Though some of the smaller towns are harder to reach by public transportation.

The Cotswolds is also a big tourist attraction, and we are getting into the tourist season now, so it gets busy on the weekends.

You see a lot of antique shops, too. In Stow-on-the-Wold we went into a shop that was selling grandfather clocks-- for thousands of pounds. I think the most expensive one we saw was going for £19,000!

(to see more photos of the Cotswolds, click here)

Sunday, Steph and I took the National Express coach into London bright and early to visit some of London's literary sights. We went to John Keats' home, where he wrote "Ode to a Nightingale" (brought me back to the days of freshman year British lit... Dr. Ryken would be so proud of me :)
Keats' home is in Hampstead, in London but not in the heart of the city. It's a very nice little borough, very residential and quiet compared to the city centre.

From there, we took the tube back into the city and found where Charles Dickens used to live. It is now a museum filled with manuscripts, portraits, furniture and possessions of Dickens'.

After that, we set off for Shakespeare's Globe Theatre on the Thames, where we had tickets for the evening performance of Coriolanus. The original Globe unfortunately burnt down a long time ago, but the current theatre is supposed to replicate the Shakespearean experience. Steph and I bought standing tickets (aka 'groundlings'), which means, yes, we stood for the whole three hours -- but we were very close to the actors and literally right in the middle of the play! (I know I got spit on during some of those passionate soliloquys; all part of the experience, right?) Sometimes they walk around in the "crowd" that the groundling audience provides. There was a time where Steph had to move way out of the way because the main actor had jumped off the stage into the crowd! (The main actor... who has been in movies and the TV show Empire last year)

It was an amazing performance -- probably the best perfomed stage play I've ever seen. I wasn't crazy about the play itself (it's very political) but I loved it because they did such a quality job. Shakespeare would have been proud :)

Oh, one more thing-- Steph and I kept thinking that one of the actors looked familiar, and we decided he reminded us of the butler, Geoffrey, from the TV show Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Later we found out that it was really him! crazy. London just keeps getting better and better!

more literary London here


£1 coins

What is the origin of the pound sign (£)?
This sign is simply a capital letter L, written in old-fashioned roundhand, with one or two crossbars to show that it is being used as a symbol or abbreviation. The L stands for the Latin word libra, the name of a Roman unit of weight, which also gave rise to the abbreviation lb for a pound as a measure of weight, and to the French word livre. (

and... I'll have you know that the exchange rate is not my friend these days... 1 USD = 0.538404 GBP which means that I really do have to double all the price tags now. :P
Before, I would tell myself -- well it's really not quite double -- but so much for that! of course I had to choose the most expensive country to study abroad...

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

2 May - wheaties : : me : : geomorphology

I'm going to Scotland!

I just finished buying my train tickets for when I go visit Gretchen (my former Wheaton suitemate) in Edinburgh, two weeks from today!

Also, Wheaton's Women's Chorale is touring Europe starting next week and they're stopping in London, which means I might get to meet up with my roommate Sarah, too. :) All kinds of Wheaton folk around these days. I'm super excited. I miss Wheaton (and Wheaties the most!) and waiting till fall to see anyone would be just painful.

Today I had a test in my "Earth Surface Processes & Landforms" module (yeah let's just call it geology from now on). Michelle, another BCA student, is in the class, too, and I'm sure glad I'm not the only one. Not only did the tutor point us out in front of the whole class at the beginning of the semester, but we're the only non-science majors, too. People kind of gave us funny looks when we told them that our majors were writing & social work. Then they ask why we're taking an enviromental science module... and it's kind of hard to explain the whole "liberal arts" curriculum and the idea of "gen eds". Because here you just take modules for your major or joint major.
All that to say, the course is geared toward geology majors... and it seems like a lot the students already know background stuff from A-levels or previous courses (even though this is just a level 1). Some of the stuff is pretty straightforward, but when it comes to memorising terms like tephra and pahoehoe and ablation and drumlin; and reading hydrographs and drawing diagrams of dunes... ohh doesn't that sound like fun?
I think I did alright on the test, though-- alright as in I think I passed. You only need a 40% to pass, and my grades don't count toward my GPA at Wheaton, so I'm not too concerned. But these days I worry that I'm not concerned enough! The system is so different that it has been easy for me to lose focus, unfortunately. Not different in the sense that I can't adjust, but that my academic habits are a little out of whack... I mean how often does your grade depend solely upon 1 paper and 1 exam back in the states?

There are 4 weeks left of lectures, then the next two weeks are reserved for exam scheduling, though I only have 2. So most of my modules (3/5) will be finished by the end of the month. It seems crazy to think that if I was back at Wheaton I would be finished by the end of this week! But it's also hard to believe the semester is winding down here, too. When you only have one lecture (per module) a week, it seems to go faster, I think.

Yes, there are a lot of things that I have come to appreciate even more about going to Wheaton. I always kind of wondered how I would like attending a secular college back home because there are times where Wheaton becomes overwhelming, too. But I guess now I have a better idea. I like it here; I love England-- but I would be much happier of the alcohol thing wasn't such a big deal. I'm getting sick of hearing about who was drunk when and where and about this party and that party and who did what with whom...
I guess that's just not my idea of fun. not at all, really.

That's why I would much rather go places like London and Edinburgh, and did I mention London?

By the way, I've posted half of my pictures from Spring Break-- Italy & Germany; Austria & Czech to come. Go ahead, take a peek!

and since I know you can't wait to Google all those fascinating geology terms, I will be generous enough to offer you this picture of "pahoehoe
" lava. it flows in rope-like patterns unlike "aa" lava which appears blocky on the surface. (at least I know I got that answer right!)