Thursday, April 12, 2012
Monday, January 2, 2012
Personal travel while abroad
Tube and bus
Sunday, January 1, 2012
So I’m a bit late. Ok a lot late. And I don't even have any interesting content, or new funny video to tell you about. Sorry about that. I’ve been home for just over 2 weeks now. To be fair, my last few weeks in London were pretty busy. My mom and brother arrived in London just before I got home from Turkey. We ate Thanksgiving dinner in an Indian restaurant and did some fun tourist things like walking over the Tower Bridge, visiting the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, and seeing the changing of the guard and Big Ben. Then the three of us took a train up to Edinburg, where we did more tourist things like shopping, visiting the castle, and having a nice afternoon tea. The place we had tea had at least 30 different kinds of tea on the menu. You didn’t ask for green tea or English breakfast, you chose a specific kind out of about 3-5 options for either. Crazy. I had roobibos, in case you were wondering, but I don’t remember which specific kind. It was pretty good, in case you were wondering about that, too.
The family visit was nice. After the craziness of Turkey etc., it was nice to just be with my family and have a relatively stress-free weekend. It was fun to share London with them, and weird to have them in this new city I had been growing accustomed to. Edinburg was a nice break from London, as it was smaller, quainter, and a bit quieter, and much less like the US that London. Edinburg was a welcomed change, as I relaxed and left all my stress back in London.
Then my family left, and I focused in on finals. Somewhere among all those finals, my cold finally went away after almost 3 weeks. Funny, considering how I was sleep deprived for a week or so. Eight hours is a beautiful thing, and I have taken full advantage of that now that I’m home, which is probably one of the reasons why this post is something like five weeks after the last one. Whatever. The 2-3 weeks of finals were kind of a mess. One paper I worked on for days and completely overwrote, and another I wrote in record time. And of course, I did better on the latter.
In between all of that were a few other adventures. Some of them were rather, uh, interesting, but others, like going to Abbey Road (did I talk about that already?), were really nice. I saw my friend Caitlin from home for one last get together, which was also quite nice. In summary, the last week was a whirlwind. A lot seemed to go down in a short space of time, but somehow I packed and made it onto my airplane along with my luggage (no small feat- the lady at the desk gave me a hard time, though security apparently had no problem with me bringing broken glass on to the plane). The plane ride was eight hours, which seemed to be a lifetime when I woke up for good after four hours. I forced myself to try watching some random movie, which I did actually enjoy.
So then I came home, visited family in PA, went back to work at Target, wrapped tons of presents from abroad, enjoyed Christmas, finally straightened things out with Transport for London at 3:30 am est., watched some movies, found a new tv show, saw some friends, celebrated New Years and wrote this blog. I’m a bit sentimental about those London taxis now, and realized how many times London shows up in things. Two of my cousins video games, the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie, and, um, other places. Yeah, so… I guess that’s it.
30 second summary: I had finals, so I stopped blogging. I’m home now. I’d tell you more interesting stories, but I don’t think I’m allowed to, leaving only the boring stuff. Sorry!
Monday, November 28, 2011
This one’s a long one. Watching the Gregory Brother’s “Can’t Hug Every Cat” will probably suffice for all that I have to say.
In addition to everywhere else, I also went to Turkey. (I told you I would, remember?) It was definitely a cool place to visit, and it was kinda neat to know my grandparents had visited there on their last trip together. I could bore you with talk of amusing merchants, fascinating history, breath-taking views and gorgeous architecture, but I’ll just entertain you with the minute details of my personal life and bodily functioning instead. Just kidding, I’ll do both!
I really did like Istanbul. After travelling throughout other parts of Europe, it was nice to see this other side of it. Some parts reminded me a bit of other cities I’ve been to, but overall it was fairly different. For example, the Turkish everywhere. I only learned one word this time (su=water) but I enjoyed seeing signs that said things like “taksi” and “tramvay” (v’s are pronounced like w’s). The most striking things were the huge number of mosques (they were everywhere) and stray cats (also everywhere). I actually didn’t mind the calls to prayer, probably because they never woke me up at 5 am. They were kind of interesting to listen to, and added some setting and atmosphere to the trip. I must admit, though, that hearing three at the same time from nearby mosques was pretty overwhelming. It’s hard to explain what they sound like, so look it up if you’d like. Do it in the middle of the night, with the sound all the way up, next to your roommate’s head. He or she will love it for sure. I had heard a recording of a call to prayer before, so the sound wasn’t so weird to me as the regularity of the calls.
As for the cats, it was seriously crazy. Another girl and I attempted to measure the number of cats, approximating about 50-60 cph (cats per hour). In case you can’t tell, that’s a lot of cats. There were all pretty friendly and would jump on your lap to be pet. It would have been a nightmare/paradise for that girl who cries about cats in that eharmony video. You know the one. Well, ok maybe not, since you’re reading this instead of watching the Gregory Brothers like I recommended. Anyway, of particular note were all the kittens, sleeping cats, and a pregnant cat in Hagia Sophia. Cute, sad, and oh so cuddly.
My cold continued strong throughout the trip, and my portable pharmacy of six different types of medicine proved handy in caring for myself and other sick people (most of our group). I realized that I do not deal very well with conflict. I hate it, and yet feel powerless to aid in resolving conflicts between others. Some of the events that occurred over the course of the trip were kind of horrible in my opinion, but thankfully I was not directly involved in them. I wish I could explain all of the moments where I have been dumbfounded and wished that problems would simply disappear because I had no idea what to do otherwise. However, it was helpful, I think, to be able to observe the events, dynamics and individual people as well as my part in all that unfolded. By the end, I think I finally felt I was doing the right thing and in the position I wanted to be in, though I think what was important was not what I did per se but what I came to understand. I am still terrible at dealing with this stuff, but I had a fascinating look at people and how they act. I think God is teaching me a lot while studying abroad. In the end, things worked out and finished up nicely despite the chaos in the middle, which to me is a sign that God is working rather than my life turning to shambles or something. These things are certainly not pleasant experiences, but I’m coming out of it much more aware of matters concerning myself, others, and life in general. I’m also coming out of it slightly terrified to interact with others, but you know, that’s kind of normal anyway.
Enough melodrama; time for some lists.
Things I did:
- Visited Asia (Istanbul has parts in Asia and in Europe)
- Saw Hagia Sofia
- Learned how to pronounce Hagia Sophia
- Saw the Blue Mosque
- Posed for a group photo shoot outside the Blue Mosque
- Went to the Grand Bazaar
- Loved the exchange rate (for once)
- Went on a boat ride
- Sung “I’m on a Boat”
- Saw tons and tons of stray cats
- Continuously sung, “Can’t Hug Every Cat”
- Went to the Topkapi Museum
- Learned how to properly wear a head scarf
- And saw a few other mosques etc. whose names I do not recall (and I am too lazy to look up)
Things I ate:
- Turkish Delight
- Turkish pizza
Things that merchants said:
- Gorgeous, gorgeous. Yes, you are.
- I am still single.
- How can I help you spend your money?
- I'm a good boy.
- Hello baby. (said by some pre-teen boys. over and over again.)
- My name is Christiano Renaldo. I love you.
- Hi, how are you. I'm fine, thank you. (all together in a single breath)
- I'll eat you. Run away.
- Excuse me sir. (Said by a group of girls to a group of female students, after saying "excuse me" in Turkish a few times. It was for an interview for their English class. They were actually cute.)
- I have a paschmina for your mother-in-law.
- Mine is bigger, his is smaller.
- Don't touch, please watch. But I touch.
- This way is the right way.
- You are so sweet. Your blue eyes. (said in passing)
- Welcome to heaven.
- Why do you break my heart?
- Hello charming ladies, I am here.
- Excuse me, you dropped something- my heart.
- Belly dancing? Paschmina? Chicken kebab?
- Spice girls!
- Stop thinking so much, life's too short.
- Tell her that she's beautiful. Ask.
- guy: What's her name? (pointing)
guy: I eat Juli here (points to heart)
- guy 1: Excuse me, you have beautiful eyes. I like your eyes. Your eyes... (as I keep walking along)
guy 2: Marry him!
guy 3: Now it's my turn
30 second summary: I went to Istanbul. It was cool and stuff. I didn’t eat turkey, but I did see a lot of cats.
So many blogs done in a single day! Only one more and I’ll be caught up. So obviously I won’t be doing it for 4 weeks or so.
You really can’t hug them all. But you can try to pet them.
Again, I'm super behind and trying to just throw these up here. I don't know what I'm saying, and you probably won't either. I've heard of fun games where you switch out punctuation with funny words or phrases, so give that a try if you'd like, but I can't guarantee that there are any semi-colons.
About two weeks ago, I was in Paris from a Thursday to a Sunday with Juli and Dana. I really liked the city. It was both old and new and had a wonderful spirit about it. We took a general guided tour and another guided tour of Montmartre, where we were staying. Our first tour in particular was very interesting and our guide told us many funny stories and fascinating facts. It's hard to describe Paris, because it was more felt than seen. It reminded me of Rome combined with Sicily, with both cosmopolitan areas and smaller poorer areas. It was overall very beautiful and quite a unique experience.
It was sort of cool to be able to speak French and for once be able to read the signs while traveling (as in, I don't speak Italian or Catalan). Unlike Barcelona and some other cities, unfortunately, English did not seem to be universally known. I was a little afraid to speak French because it would take me a while to form full sentences and I had trouble understanding people in real time. It was especially hard since I was the only one in our group who spoke any French. Somehow, we managed.
Our last full day, we met up with the illustrious and French-speaking John Thiel and Katrina Medoff to visit a famous cemetery and bookstore. The three of us will live in the theater house when we return to Bucknell. I've known john from intervarsity since freshman year, and Katrina through a combination of arts res and my roommate. Just in case you didn't know and were wondering. They are both doing Bucknell en France this semester in Tours and happened to be visiting Paris for the weekend. After Katrina headed back to tours, John, Juli, Dana and I had a nice dinner and then went to an awesome little jazz club in a medieval cellar. We swing danced a little but I loved just watching all of the marvelous dancers there.
But of course, what would a trip be without a slight disaster? During our dinner with john, I set my purse on a chair with Juli's coat and souvenir bag during the middle of the meal. At the end, I went to pay and discovered my purse missing. We searched inside and around the block with no luck. After done trouble searching and the help of a kind French woman, we found the nearest police station, but alas, it was closed. We tried to call with no avail. Fortunately, it was a small purse, and although it contained items of monetary value, everything in it was pretty easily replaced (I still had my passport, camera and phone). It's frustrating, but it could have been worse. My mom is bringing a new debit card and everything else is taken care of- except my stupid Oyster card for the London underground. Trying to take care of that has been a nightmare, but that's another story. Really though, I was quite thankful that things turned out as well as they did. However I am no longer quite a fan of Transport for London.
Things I saw
- The lock bridge
- A lot of other bridges (and the Seine, of course)
- The Louvre (for 45 minutes, using the secret entrance)
- Notre Dame
- Sacre Coeur
- The Eiffel Tower
- Arc de Triumph
- St. Michel’s fountain
- Moulin Rouge
- Jardin des Tuileries
- And a bunch of other things briefly on our tours
Things I ate
- The best baguette in Paris (and so probably the world) according to a Parisian contest, and lots of other delicious bread
- Wine and raspberry champagne (Well, I only tasted due to being on cold medicine. Did I mention I got a bad cold in France and had to buy medicine in French? Well I did.)
- Beef bourguignon
- Hot dog
- Pommes frites (jk, fries)
- Baguette sandwiches
- McDonalds (before leaving to go to the airport)
- Salmon Provençal (I might be making this up. I probably am. That’s what happens when you wait two weeks to write about things.)
30 second summary: I went to Paris, saw stuff, spoke French, had my purse stolen, survived. I also learned that toilet seats are only optional toilet accessories.
We had to take a metro and walk from where we checked in to our hostel to the apartment itself, and the person at the desk accidentally gave us the wrong directions. So by the time we got to the apartment, it was around 11pm and we were starving (we had hardly eaten lunch around 11:30 am). This is a picture of our first French meal:
bon appetit : )
About two weeks ago (ps I started to write this the day after. #post fail), I met with Cindy and Joel Hylton of world harvest for dinner. Inter varsity is sponsoring a leadership training trip here in London through world harvest spring break of next semester, and since I'm missing all the meetings at Bucknell and since I'm already here, Jesse set me up with the Hyltons to find out more about the program. Truth be told, we only talked about the spring break program for about twenty minutes though it sounds awesome) and spent a good deal of time talking about England, America and life abroad. We shared stories and I did my best to give them a sense of what our inter varsity chapter is like at Bucknell. I was there for around 4 hours but it was comfortable and nice, and we had easy conversation. It felt like home in a way, and it's nice to talk to different people who have similar experiences as Americans in the UK. It kind of reminds me of having Easter dinner at Cathy and Glen's from Lewisburg Alliance. Living in the middle of London, spending time in a place reminiscent of home in the states without having to leave the country is a wonderful thing.
But the thing that caught me the most was my trip back to the center of London to my flat. I walked straight down a long and fairly empty residential road to the train station past houses and apartment buildings. It was a cool quiet night, and the calm streets were lit well with street lamps and dusted with dead leaves. In places, the air was gently scented with chimney smoke, and I saw a fox mosey about along the way. It may sound a bit creepy to walk a dark deserted street alone, but it was wonderfully comforting to me. That was home for me, as it felt just like suburbia in fall as I remembered it. I was a little sad to miss Halloween etc., and walking down that street brought me right back to trick-or-treating, selling pizzas and talking walks near my house. As I neared the station, cars, shops and various people popped up, reminiscent of the more populated and restless places near home. Fortunately, however, the residential street on route to the station was a long one.
The train ride home was even a little more incredible. I made a point to walk all the way to the end of the platform when my train arrived so that I had a chance to have a whole car to myself. When the tube gets crowded (as it often does), the farthest cars are often you only chance at getting a seat or even standing room, so walking to the end was a normal thing to do. To my surprise, no one joined me in the front car for about 20 minutes. It was wonderfully freeing, as I did not feel remotely self conscious and could take up as many seats as I desired. I had planned on writing notes for later or just playing a game on my phone, but instead I just sat thinking and relaxing. I guess it is the introvert in me, or perhaps the fact that I live in a triple in the center of a busy city, but I loved it. It is certainly a rare moment to be entirely alone in a subway train, let alone for that long. Honestly, it’s rare to be alone period. I need times to be alone and think to feel normal and continue functioning. II became a little antsy and annoyed when people did finally come into my car and sit right near me, but ultimately I left feeling refreshed and recharged, both from the wonderful company of the Hyltons and my quiet ride home.
37.9 second summary: I had dinner with an American couple and later experienced a dose of introverted paradise. Splendid.