Saturday, March 27, 2010

Up in the air again

So basically, the next time I blog, I'm going to do so to say I have insanely awesome pictures from my Easter Holiday trip to Barcelona and Rome with two lovely Hope girls for you to look at. Yeah, that's right...I'm spending a little under a week in Barca, and I'll be in the Vatican for Easter. I leave on Monday. Granted, I leave Monday morning at about 3:30ish to get to my train to the airport on time, but I still have cooler spring break plans than you. (Just kidding...but seriously, though.) ;) Hopefully it will be nice and warm and Mediterranean for me...England may be trying to have a sunny and warm springtime, but let's just say it gets an "A" for effort (I love you, England, but try having a day that's *consistently* sunny instead of sunny in patches. Then I'll love you even more).

Also...I came to the realization (wow, it actually took some effort to type that with a "zed" -- I'm becoming grammatically Anglicised!) this morning that I have approximately two months until I fly home. That means I've been here for two whole months already. I've officially reached the halfway point of my semester abroad. Where has the time gone?? It's getting easier and easier to measure time academically and begin end-of-term countdowns. I've turned in "halfway point" essays for my two literature courses, and my creative writing course turned out to be only a half-semester class. I basically have to just work on my end-of-term portfolio for that class, write one more end-of-term essay for my Caribbean lit class, and take a final exam for my 19th-Century lit class. After my week and a half of traveling and my other week and a half of holiday is over, I only have about five weeks of class left. I have only two more books to read (THAT is an accomplishment!), one for each lit class. I only have classes two or three days a week (since my 19th-Century lecture on Tuesdays is only every other week), and have a four- or five-day weekend every week from here on out.

Usually I look forward to the end of the academic year with every fiber of my being, but this time, the end of term means the end of my time in this beautiful country, with no foreseeable return date (I'd love to say "I'm coming back and I know exactly when," but a) I don't, b) my schedule doesn't, and c) my finances don't, either, considering that I have to start saving for Real Life upon my return to the States. Blech). Every first time I do something may be a last time. I've joked to the folks back home that Customs will have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming, but in all honesty, in two months, I'll be leaving here with about that amount of resistance, if only internal (I know enough not to cause scenes in international airports...creating embarrassing headlines on Fox News is not a life goal of mine). I'll still want to see everyone back home again, I'm still excited to restart my life back home with whatever job I end up getting, and it will be nice to be reimmersed in what is most familiar to me, in the life I grew up with...but at the end of these two months, I'll be sitting in the airport in Manchester, wishing I'd done [insert thing here] or had the time/money to go to [insert crazy cool place here] or been able to hang out with [insert friend here] just one more time.

Which means from now on, I have to soak up as much of England (and the surrounding area) as I can before it's all gone. After I get back from Rome on April 7, I've decided that the rest of Easter holiday will be spent exploring York, taking my camera everywhere, and finding new places to eat/read a book/take pictures/write/exist, in an effort to get to know this city I'm calling home even better than I already have. I have a shortlist of places I need to go before I leave, both in England and otherwise, and will see as many of these places as my tight budget will allow before the end of term. I'll spend more time writing down every thought, every observation, every made-up story from extensive people-watching before I stop getting to observe these idiosyncrasies and watch these people and soak in this place. People have "bucket lists" for things they must do and see before they die; I have a bucket list of things to do and see before I'm gone from England and my time here is only a memory, and outdated blog, and a collection of snapshots of a former life I was lucky enough to live.

My 8th-grade Language Arts teacher, Mr. Thompson (one of the best teachers I've ever had), wrote in each of our yearbooks at the end of the year, "Live your life so you have few regrets." My 14-year-old self didn't realize at the time what my 21-year-old self would look back and see in such a statement. I see a call to arms to live the best life you can. I see wise counsel from someone who's lived more life than I have. I see advice to live as wholly as you can in every moment, because every moment is a blessing. The fact that I get to live and learn in such a beautiful European city and spend a chunk of my busy life across an ocean is more blessing than I thought possible, and something I intend to savor as much as I can so when I'm gone from here, I can look back with fondness and with few regrets.

On that note...I'll see you in a week and a half.


Friday, March 19, 2010

For the record...

I would like to document two "firsts" today.

1) I TURNED IN MY FIRST ESSAY TODAY. This is actually a HUGE deal, because essays and, sometimes, exams (depending on the class) are literally the only source of grades ("marks") in the ENTIRE CLASS. If you do well on one/both, you're golden. If you mess up...may the administration at your home university have mercy on your soul/GPA.
SO. After much hemming, hawing, revising, fretting, and going in for quick once-overs with my professor/"tutor" ("Do I really have to use Harvard style citation?" "Yes. It's dumb, but yes." "(sigh)"), I turned in a 3,175-word/ten-page essay taking a deconstructionist view on the endings of Mansfield Park and Oliver Twist for 60% of my grade in my Nineteenth Century Writing class (the other 40% is a final that sounds remarkably similar to the ones I've taken for Rhoda's lit classes, so hopefully I won't be taken by surprise come exam week!). Crossed fingers, prayers, and boxes of chocolate/monetary bribes sent to my tutor would be much appreciated.

2) I'M BUSTING OUT THE FLIP-FLOPS AND/OR CHACOS TODAY. Yeah, that's right. It's sunny (SUNNY! In ENGLAND! Who knew?!?) and almost 60 degrees Fahrenheit (mid-teens Celsius, for the rest of the world). If that's not occasion to bare my toes, then I don't know what is.

I have half my grade turned in and done, and now I'm sitting with my window open enjoying the sunshine, listening to Train's new album, and relishing having nothing to do right this second. Life is good. :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010


Yeah, I'm doing that whole teasing-with-a-post-that's-not-actually-a-post thing again, but I just thought I'd call your attention to the pictures from my small group's trip to Scarborough on Saturday. What a lovely day at the seaside. :) (see the Flickr photostream...)

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Yesterday was a day of gains and losses. Yesterday was also the day a bunch of us took a shopping trip to the city of Leeds, about a 1/2-hr train ride away. Over the course of our day trip, I gained...

-- my railcard (FINALLY!)
-- a very basic knowledge of some of a new city

(LIES. There were NO zebras.)

-- an appreciation for's like a beautiful, beautiful T.J. Maxx/Marshall's love child (also...apparently T.J. Maxx is called "T.K. Maxx" over here)

-- a skirt, a nice button-down shirt, two dresses, a pair of rain boots, and a pair of cute sandals for summer ^^

I lost...

-- lots of monies. I mean, Primark is crazy cheap, and I found some awesome deals...I just found more deals and sales than maybe I should have. Hah. BUT I got some great stuff out of it. I mean, come ON...Union Jack Wellies? I think SO.

Elisabeth and I

Tina, Sabina, and I

Caroline and Marina had a speed-eating contest at Subway. Caroline won by a landslide. Marina looks miffed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

ILIE = I Live In England

Today, I used the word "dodgy" as an adjective synonymous with "sketchy" or "spotty" in an email to my mother. I'm so used to hearing/using this word in normal conversation, I didn't realize I'd said it and that this could possibly be perceived as foreign until the email sent. ILIE.