Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reverse culture shock

Based on the distance between my last four posts, it seems like I've narrowly avoided becoming a blogging addict. Hooray!

But alas, one last post is needed as the final piece of the study abroad experience- coming back home. Bucknell loves the term re-entry, others love reverse culture shock, and some people are just stubborn and silly and call it "returning to the US". I tend to prefer reverse culture shock or, more elegantly, "I'M BACK AMURICA." (I'll be using various terms here. No need to be fancy all the time.)

So, unless you've been living under a rock (or simply don't know someone who's gone abroad), you probably know that coming back is difficult. It's great to see friends and family again, but after all that you've experienced it's hard to fit back into your old place. It's not just adjusting back to America (I found this to be pretty easy, actually), but adjusting back to campus, small towns, etc. can be a separate adjustment and is often harder.

In addition, I think there are two different parts to this "re-entry" business: adjusting back to the old culture, and adjusting back to the old routine. When you come back from vacation, sometimes you are upset to go home because you miss the place you were, and other times you just don't want to go back to work or school on Monday. It's a lot like that. The less similar the place, the harder the first is; the longer the vacation, the harder the second is. (Well, I think so.)

I've had both kinds of experiences, and they definitely feel different. Guatemala was type 1- I missed it terribly but fell back into routine and eventually adjusted. Coming back from the UK was a much different experience. Sometimes there are pangs of "Oh man, remember when we rode the tube everyday?" or "I would give anything to eat gelato in a Roman alley right now." But mostly, it's just weird to be back. It's like your body has accepted its way of life and now rejects home in the States as a foreign body. Some things are easy to come back to- I love my bed and working dryers and 1% milk. Some things are hard, like realizing how small (and boring) Mays Landing and Lewisburg are, and feeling like the world has done a half rotation without you. But the overwhelming feeling is just weird. After skyping my mom once a week, it was so strange to actually live with her everyday for a month. It was super weird to think that freshman I had never seen had been on campus for a whole semester, and that so much had happened without me. It was weird that I was not allowed in bars after having gone to pubs on class trips. I what made this especially true for me is that I was happy to be back from abroad, but I really didn't want to adjust to being back at Bucknell. Being gone for a whole semester, though, wiped out most of my previous notions of "this is normal and ok". It felt like freshman year all over, as once again I had to get used to what life is like here.

My personal experience, though, was a little complicated, and everyone honestly has a different experience. I left a lot of stress in London and came back to a lot of stress in Lewisburg. Between friend issues, responsibilities, excessive schoolwork, etc. etc., it was a bit overwhelming and kind of jarring. I was ready to just go somewhere new and start over again. I think that seemed easier than what settling down to Bucknell was going to involve. And even though everyone has a different experience of reverse culture shock, it was really nice to have other people around who similarly pined for foreign foods and were completely over the typical small town culture. It's nice to know you are not the only who wants to be somewhere else, and that it's okay feel that way. People who have studied abroad in your country are especially effective in dealing with Type 1 culture shock, but they are helpful either way. If you aren't going home with your friends from abroad, the transition back will likely be much harder. But it is do-able. Find people who went to another country and talk to them. Find someone to share with who can understand what you're going through. It helps.

Just a fair warning- things will be different when you come back. You will be different, your friends in the States will be different, life will be different. But you will figure it all out. You will get through it, and things will stop feeling quite so weird. Honestly. Campus is comfortable again. Freshman don't make me nervous anymore. All is well. But I can remember Roman fountains, and French baguettes. I remember Bible study in Starbucks and singing the National Anthem at 3 am. And of course, I remember so many cats and so many scarves and so many trains. And I am planning on making as many memories as possible before my mind turns to mush and I start watching Finding Bigfoot all day, everyday.

Maybe the last 30 second summary ever: Adjusting back to the States and then to campus can suck, a lot. But you'll be alright. I get by with a little help from my friends.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Speak like a Brit

I compiled a list of British terms that our program gave us and that I saw and heard in the UK. Our program didn't give us a list of the American equivalents, and I didn't have the chance (or patience) to look them all up and write them down. But, in case you fancy British English, here's the list. A good website for translation is or you can just ask me for specific ones. Cheers, mate!

EDIT: I took out the list because it is ridiculously long. But holla at me and I'll send it your way.

Travel advice

I wanted to compile a big ole list of tips and advice for anyone planning to study or travel abroad who is looking for tips or advice. I tried to put in anything I thought would be useful or that I wished I knew or thought of earlier. It’s somewhat organized but sort of a mess, but alas I am tired and people are about to leave the country. Some stuff is specific to study abroad or London, but hopefully y’all can dig around anything that doesn’t apply to you if need be. And if you are never leaving the US, you can probably skip the whole thing. So, here goes: my super duper travel guide. Hooray!

Before you go

     I heard that you should pack 1.5 suitcases for one semester abroad, which I think worked well for me. You’ll be coming home with more stuff than you left with, so it’s good to have extra space. Check the average temperatures in the area for your trip and plan accordingly. Don’t look at just the highs but the lows too, and pack only what you think you will need, considering items that are versatile. I packed my clothes pretty well but did not bring the right shoes. It was definitely not cold enough for Uggs or moccasins while I was in London, although I probably would have worn them had I been at Bucknell. Flats, which I completely neglected, were definitely the shoe of choice. There are second hand stores for things you miss, though cheaper retail stores like H&M and Primark (which is super cheap) may be even better.
     You’ll need a plug adapter. If you are planning to travel in Europe, make sure you have a UK and European one. I liked my universal one that took and put out any type. Converters are often (but not always) separate from adapters but not always necessary. They are important for hair dryers, certain computers (Macs are fine and popular PCs like Dells will probably be ok, but I’d check just in case) and other appliances that draw a lot of current. Things will explode, so it is important to check the need for converters, but I personally never needed one when I was in London.
     Don't bother bringing any paper school supplies with you to Europe, like lined paper, binders or folders. They use different paper sizes there, and in addition their normal sized paper gets four holes instead of three. This standard size is A4, while bigger paper is A3 and half of A4 is A5. You'll figure it out, just know that there is no letter or legal sized paper there. Believe me, I looked.

     British currency is the Pound Sterling, or Pound. The change is in pence or one penny (pence=pennies, essentially). Pound is referred to as quid and P. Five pounds=five P=five quid=a fiver. When written, pence is abbreviated as pp, but people will say pence. In Euros, the change is in cents or one cent. Check your bank’s policies on using your debit/credit card abroad, particularly when used at a foreign atm or as credit for purchases. TD bank is pretty great about both, and it’s the only reason why I have come off my grudge about being charged at Wawa atms. Note that most credit cards in Europe are chip and pin cards, and you might need to explain at times that you have a swipe card, and need to sign (it’ll be on receipt paper). It’s super fun and annoying. And by fun I mean just annoying.
     Fun fact- you can make the £ symbol on a mac by pressing option+3 (aka, the other pound sign). The € (euro) sign is option+shift+2. 
     Another fun fact- UK computers already have both on the keyboard. 

     London, and most of Europe in general, is expensive. Many things are similar in price, but often I found prices I’d expect to see in the US in dollars in the UK in pounds. For example, something that I’d expect to find in the US for $10 I’d see in the UK for £10, or about $16. I spent about $3900 in the four months, including all of my food and travel but not my flights between Newark and London.

Language differences
     Contrary to popular belief, Americans and Britons do not speak quite the same language. Neither do the French and French Canadians or Spaniards and Latin Americans. Checking slang before going is probably a good idea, because you may be confused as to why Englishmen go to bars to get angry or find yourself highly offended by frozen meatballs.

Living abroad

     Don’t think that foods are consistent across cultures. It seems like every country has its own favorite cheese and its own version of bread, bacon and sausage. (Barcelona has sandwich-ready mozzarella slices, London has three kinds of sliced cheddar, the American northeast has swiss and provolone.) Eat the bread and cheese but not the bacon (the bacon is thicker, not crispy, and tastes a little different). Try the sausage but be careful. In England specifically, I like the sausage and am a big fan of medium cheddar cheese, ravioli and sauce (just not the bacon kind), and Sainsbury’s chicken kievs, but most of the frozen meals are terrible (definitely not as good as American ones for some reason). The Quorn vegetarian ones aren’t bad, though.
     If you haven't been diligently reading [though of course, why wouldn't you have been], you should know that England, and much of Europe, do not have grape jelly or tortilla chips. They have black currant jam and "lightly salted" Doritos, which do the job. Black current Ribena (a brand of juice) is pretty good. Black currant is like grape without, uh, the grapiness. It's hard to explain. I enjoyed the sparkling Ribena myself. Elderflower pressé is also another European/British thing to try, along with all the puddings (more like cake than our pudding) and pies. Btw, the typical British pie is made with steak and ale. Not apples and cinnamon.
     Finally, be sure to check all expiration (or "expiry") dates since they use a lot less preservatives. Milk isn't much different, but bread, hummus, veggies and the like often expired within two days of purchase. PS eggs are not refrigerated.

Food stores
     In the area of London I was in, there were four food stores: Tesco is the cheapest, Sainsbury’s the next with somewhat better food (the kievs were much better, the juice selection different, but otherwise similar), then M&S simply food (who charge you if you take plastic bags) and little Waitrose, the most expensive. I shopped at Tesco for daily stuff and Sainsbury for particular things I wanted from there… or whichever was closest. I think I spent about £55 a week, which translates to about $90.

Store hours
     New York City is the city that never sleeps. Not London, or a number of cities in Europe. They go to bed or take naps while you sit hungry, wondering why you can’t get any food at 7pm. I was surprised at how early many things in London closed. Most pubs close at 11pm, and stores and coffee shops at around 8 or 8:30. The Tesco by us closed at 11 most nights but at 6 on Sundays. London generally closes early on Sundays. Yes, they still do that. In some places in Europe (I noticed it in Sicily), many things will be closed or open for very limited hours on Sunday. They also take siestas, and so places may be closed from 4-7pm. Yes, they still do that too. (But maybe not much longer? Recent political reference?) When I visited Italy and Spain, most people did not eat dinner until 8 or 9 pm. Prepare for that if you visit southern Europe, since if places are even open before that they will likely be dead. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Personal travel while abroad
     Traveling throughout Europe is pretty easy. was a helpful website for finding cheap flights, but be careful of your travel to and from airports. There are four or five airports in London, and the ease of traveling to and from them depends on the airport. Although early flights are often cheaper, keep in mind that you will need to arrange transport to get you to the airport 1.5 hours before your flight, and the tube may not be running at the time you need it. This slight oversight is not so fun when you need to catch a bus at 3 am after being on an all day field trip that got you home at midnight. But, you do what you have to do.
     Findings places to stay is also not super difficult and they can be relatively cheap, but it does require some work and planning, like finding good flights. A really helpful to find hostels and hotels was (I know, the website sounds totally legit). You can check prices and select the kind fo place you want. I stayed at a bunch of places on there including a number of hostels, and used the ratings to sort out good ones. I never stayed in a "dorm" style one, with different groups of people sleeping in one room- I was either in a double with a friend, a single, or a larger room with all four of my group. Some of the places were kind of weird, but it was kind of fun as part of the experience.
Remember to leave unnecessary items at home or in a safe location. Your purse or wallet can be lost or stolen. Keep that in mind always. When in your home city, you have a better understanding of the place, have all your supplies at hand, and need certain things on a daily basis. It’s not the same when you are travelling elsewhere for a weekend.
     Two more tips: try to learn some of the language of the place you are going and borrow or buy a guidebook on the city/area you are visiting. These two things can be lifesavers. Numbers, greetings, and polite phrases (I’m sorry, etc.) will make dealing with people in the foreign country easier and a lot less awkward. Most people do speak English, but they generally appreciate you attempting to learn their language, especially in small everyday interactions. Barcelona, Rome and Istanbul were very English friendly, Sicily and Paris not so much.
     The guidebooks have tons of information, including some language basics and usually maps. They have information on transportation, places to eat, things to do, and just about everything your little heart could desire. They are very helpful for planning pretty much the whole trip other than your flights and perhaps where you stay and eat if you are looking for something especially cheap (they tend to list things that don’t fit a broke student budget). We found some restaurant guide brochures around though that helped immensely with finding good cheap food. Bucknell In programs should have books left from previous students. Lonely Planet is great, but Frommers and a number of others are pretty great too.


     They have these things called minicabs (in London and Paris and probably other cities as well) which are less expensive but sorta sketchy, which I never took. They look like normal cars and you have to order it/text a number for them. However, I have used the iconic black London cabs (which are often covered in ads and thus decidedly not black). They are pricey, but when in a bind they are awesome. London cab drivers have to pass this test called “The Knowledge” on all the streets in London in order to become certified to drive a cab. It often takes multiple tries, and it means that cabbies know their stuff. They won’t know clubs or things like that, but they know streets and often important buildings and hotels. Your best bet is to tell them an intersection near where you want to go, using full street names. Bloomsbury Street and Bloomsbury Way are not near each other, and definitely not the same thing. Cabbies expect the full name (not just Bloomsbury) so they might not know what you are talking about if you give just the first word.

     Note as in the cab section that the last word of the street name is important- Way, Street, and Road are by no means interchangeable and will screw you up if you aren’t careful when looking at a map. Believe me, there are about ten streets with the first word “Holland” in Kensington, and I found about five of those before finding Holland Park Road because I was expecting only one “Holland”. Also, street names will change without warning (Bloomsbury Street turns into Gower Street, for example), and five-point intersections are a London favorite. Get down the walking directions home from a place if you go out at night, and practice crucial walks during the day if possible. And most importantly, have maps! My London Moleskin saved my life multiple times. A tube or metro map is also quite handy. Honestly, maps are extremely useful. You can find some in the city or pick some up before hand. I recommend getting a handy, foldable, not-super-touristy one before leaving the states. And, of course, make sure you actually know how to read maps.

Tube and bus
     Super fun fact: the tube closes at midnight. Yes, midnight. Repeat that. Remember that. Most stations won’t close until about 12:15 or 12:20, so you have a little wiggle room. However, the extra entrances will close around 11:45, so you will most likely need to find the main entrance if it’s late. In other countries, the hours for the metro is different. Check and remember them! In London they normally do engineering work on the trains on weekends, so look out for closed stops and lines. You will be very unhappy when you find out at 11pm that you can’t get home the way you planned. Night buses run 24 hours, you just have to check the schedule to figure out which you can take. Navigating bus stations is a bit difficult, as you need a station to end at (you may need to try a few), the bus lines (that are still running) that will go to that stop, and a nearby bus stop that caters to that line, going in the right direction. It’s not that bad, but it’s trickier than the tube. This goes for most cities, I think. In London, travel cards work on either.
     Another note on the tube and bus: go to the front or end car of the tube if you can (it’s often less crowded) and sit in the front upper level seat on the bus. It’s awesome. Oh, and you enter in the front doors of the bus and exit through the middle. Not that I ever got that down.

Losing your Oyster card
     This applies specifically to London and is probably the most important thing I can say. So I’m going to put it in caps. Ready? DO NOT LOSE YOUR STUDENT OYSTER CARD. If you won’t be needing it, you don’t need it with you. Keep it safe, and don’t keep it in your wallet, purse, etc. when you are travelling in a different city. Side note: Do not take your passport with you anywhere except to the airport or place where you will need it. Your passport belongs in a stable, lockable place, not in your purse, which can be stolen. DO NOT RISK LOSING YOUR PASSPORT WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO. DO NOT RISK LOSING YOUR OYSTER CARD WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE TO.
     Ok, I think you might get it now. Student Oyster cards specifically are a pain to replace. You can’t transfer funds over to a new card, refunds take weeks, and you will pay a bunch of extra fees in the meantime. Be careful with your card. (But be even more careful with your passport!) That goes for credit cards as well, but I think that’s something you’d expect. Well, hopefully.
     If you do lose your Oyster card, here is what to do (yes, I am an expert on this):
     -Decide how many days you will need the tube or bus. Keep in mind it takes 3-5 days to get a new card. If, beyond that, you will need to travel 3 or more times, it’s probably best to report your card stolen or missing and pay the £10 for a new card. Call right away, do not wait. Get a police report number for stolen cards if possible, and tell TFL. Check out your options and decide on the best way to travel during those 3-5 days.
     -If you have an ADULT Oyster card, call TFL as soon as you get the new one and have them transfer over your funds, and voila! Life is peachy. If you have a STUDENT (16+ or 18+) Oyster card, especially if you have a seasonal plan (aka you go to any stop in zones 1 and 2 “for free”) you’re pretty screwed. Check if your bank takes international checks (TD Bank, the newest love of my life, does). Then call TFL and request a refund (you can probably do this when you report it missing). There are 2 options: have the funds transferred into a UK bank account in 5 days, or have them send you a UK or international check in 4 weeks. If you don’t have a UK bank, and your bank doesn’t take international checks, you are going to need a friend with a UK bank account or a US bank that takes international checks, or else you are not getting a penny back. Make sure to tell them if you need an international check and give them your home address if it’s not the one on the account. Have this all settled or else they might not process your refund. You get an email when they do (which might take 4 weeks anyway).
     -If you have a seasonal student Oyster card (you ride in zones 1 and 2 “for free”), they will give you a refund for however many months or weeks are remaining on your card out of the whole. It’s probably cheaper to just do pay as you go once you get the new card rather than paying £75 a month for the seasonal. Check with your program- they might help you out but mine did not. I only spent £45 in my last month. Be careful about running low on money, as you can sometimes incur extra fees. How you can even get on the tube in the first place when you are low on money is beyond me, but the fees are very real. You can explain any problems or situations to an employee in a station, but beware that TFL has pretty bad customer service in the stations themselves. About a third of these workers are the personification of "disgruntled". Some are very helpful and nice, but you're probably better off just avoiding any problems. Keep tabs on all your charges online or at a station. Don’t stay within the tube for an hour or longer. They will think you left and came back without touching out or back in, resulting in an £8 charge. Not that this has happened to me. Or anything. (Check those repair schedules, my friends.) Remember to keep calm and carry on.

Welp, that’s all. I know it’s a lot of information. And a bit of melodrama there at the end. But hopefully this is remotely helpful. Have fun, safe travels, and if you see the homeless Londoner with the dog, give him a sandwich for me.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Might as well wrap it up

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

Blog mania, part 3

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:

  • Baklava
  • Turkish Delight
  • Turkish pizza
  • Kebabs

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)

Faria: Juli...

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.

Blog mania 2: Polly voo Francey?

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
  • Ramen
  • 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)
  • Beignes
  • Croissants
  • 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 : )

Post mania, part 1: The Joys of Introversion

I'M SO BEHIND AND BUSY AND STUFF. So I'm going to try to post things quick instead of spending 3 hours editing each and triple guessing myself. First thought, best thought, right? Right?!? I don't even know if time lines are right any more, I meant to post these ages ago. Alright, here goes.

Musings, as promised.
(Not that I thought you were worried. Or even noticed I said this was coming. It's fine. If I were you, I'm sure I'd pretend to read while watching the Charlie Sheen song.)

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.