And thats a wrap

May 5, 2009

I’m home. I’ve actually been home for over a week, but haven’t gotten off my lazy ass to do my final update. Sorry about that, to anyone who happens to still read this thing.

So, I would definately say that the trip sort of changed my life. I’ve got a new perspective on the world, and I will hold that very dear to me. To have experience abroad is an exciting feeling, and I can’t wait to do it again. Sure, it was really freaking hard at times, and there were moments that all I wanted to do was just come home. But thats the way things are, nothing is 100%.

The days leading up to my departure were a blur of “lasts.” The day before we left, I saw everything I possibly could. St. Paul’s, the river Thames, Westminster, Trafalgar, Oxford St., Kensington Gardens and the general Angel-Islington area.

The night before we left, Maz visited and we all had a jolly good time. The girls were freaking out about packing and about whether or not their bags would be the allowed weight. We sat and discussed things, the semester, England, America, etc. It was a great end to it all, actually. The next day passed with minimal tears, fortunately, but the saddness was still there. I said goodbye to Maz and Claire (who was staying), got on the bus, and we rolled away from Thoresby. I teared up as we passed Angel, King’s Cross, St. Pancra’s, Euston, Kensington and Notting Hill, because I had just spent the past 3 months of my life in these places. The airport was annoying, and the flight was even worse, but after it was all over, we bid each other farewell and were off for home. My parents picked me up and it was absolutely wonderful to see them. We hit Wawa before we got home, and I wolfed down a hoagie before passing out in my extremely messy room.

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Nein Deutschland

April 10, 2009

So, Germany isn’t happening. Which I suppose isn’t surprising unless you’re me, becaue I managed to put myself through an extra strong case of denial. The most important thing about my entire trip was to travel to Germany. I failed, partially due to my own failures, and partially due to people screwing me over. I made the mistake of assuming it was easy to book a trip in the beginning of the semester, so it wasn’t a huge priority from the start, which it should have been. I guess I sort of thought that I could do it at any time and I waited. Then, when I noticed my time running short, I contacted friend A, who had agreed to go with me from the start (another reason it wasn’t urgent). Unfortunately, friend A did not have the proper funds to go. I started to get really worried at this point, but not completely as I pitched my idea to friends B and C. Friends B and C then sat down with me and we looked up flights, hostels, and tourist things to do in Berlin. We got all the information down, but didn’t book anything because we didn’t know how we were going to pay for it. I was most likely just going to use my card and have them pay me. The booking of the trip then proceeded to not happen. When confronted (because I had to go to them, they didn’t come to me), friends B and C told me that they couldn’t afford it. Right, sure, thats all well and good, because I myself can barely afford it (except they’ve been to Scotland, Spain and Portsmouth since). At this point I had given up, accepting my defeat. However, friend D comes out of the woodwork and says that yeah, she could go and we can set it all up. We do indeed set it all up, get the bookings, the prices, the plans, all laid out in front of us (moreso even than the previous time). But, she had to check with her parents before booking anything, which is totally acceptable since I had to do the same thing. Then, her spring break comes, and she realizes that she’s out of money and nixes all her european plans to go home. That’s fine with me because, again, I understand the money thing. However, I talk to her and she says she’ll be back before our scheduled trip, and that it can still go on. I say great and try to make a skype date with her so we can book it all and everything will be great. Except after that, I don’t hear from friend D for a week, despite emailing her, calling her and texting her. Friend D FINALLY manages to get back to me by saying that the deal with her parents was that in order to come home, she wasn’t going to travel Europe and that she couldn’t come. This, mind you, is after about a week of me stressing out crazily about the entire ordeal.

So now I’m not going to the one most important place in the world to me. Dublin was great, Barcelona and Cork were alright and London is amazing beyond words. But they all pale in comparison to Berlin. But, at very least, I can enjoy the rest of my time in London, stress free. It’s just hard to live with the fact that, had I done more in the beginning of the semester,  I would have already been there, had fun, and not destroyed relationships over the matter. Sigh.


Concerning G20

April 4, 2009

So, this week, I had the distinct honor of being just minutes away from 20 of the most powerful men (and two women) in the world. And tons of riots.

I didn’t really get to see any of it firsthand, but it was all over the newspapers and internet. It almost makes me kinda sad that I missed out on all the action, but then  I remembered that I don’t have a dog in that fight. And I’m not particularly fond of the possibility of being injured by either side. So I kept clear and surveyed the area after everything was over. Trafalgar Square, one of the main venues for the protesters, was full of people hanging out, hippy types and college student types (yes, there is a difference), and a lot of public art (both sidewalk chalk and grafitti). It was interesting to see, to say the least.

Obama recieved more news coverage and praise than any other leader (including Gordon Brown, but thats not too surprising, as he has terrible approval ratings) and was on the cover of londonpaper for about three days in a row.

This week is the eye before the storm that is finals, Germany, and Home.

I still can’t decide if time went really slow or really fast.


España

March 29, 2009

Home from Spain. The trip………was………hm. Good? I think. Yeah, it was good. It just had a lot of shitty things happen too. Lets start from the beginning.

In order to get to Gatwick, we had to take the Tube to a bus station and then a bus to the airport. Naturally, we missed our bus. Wonderful. We got on the next one that arrived 20 minutes later, but we lost £10 in the process. The bus ride took for ever, and eventually we got there and Gatwick is SUCH a confusing airport, we had to rush all over the place to find our things, and it culminated in us BARELY getting to our plane. This was not a good start.

We touched down in Spain about 2 hours later (3, if you include the time difference), and right from the start, having Katie there (who spoke fluent Spanish, thank JESUS) was a wonderful idea. Very few people that we came across could “habla Inglés.” And whenever I found myself trying to say something in Spanish (like, “my Spanish is bad, can you speak English please”), it would come out something like “Mein Español ist muy mal, habla Englisch, bitte?” Apparently, the knowledge of German within my brain was conquering and occupying my knowledge of Spanish. It would have been much more fitting had it been French. Seeing as no one spoke Deutschañol, I was completely useless to the team (as were the 4 others of the 6 of us). At least Katie got practice.

We took a bus from Girona (which, despite being Barcelona’s airport, is a 2 hour’s drive from the actual city) and arrived in downtown Barcelona at some point within the hour of 10pm. It was at that point that we realized that our hostel was on the COMPLETE opposite side of the city. So we hopped on the Metro (which was fun, as it was IN SPANISH) and managed to get to the general area of where we were supposed to go. Then we walked up 534 hills to get to the place, and finally we got there. And it was so glorious to be in the place, but as soon as we got there, we left again because we were starving and the only food was AT THE BOTTOM OF THE HILL. Luckily we discovered stairs.

We ate at this awesome pizza place, because like London, Barcelona shuts down at 10 and it was the only place open, besides a grocery store (which we also went to). After that, we went straight to the Hostel and passed out.

The next day, we woke up bright and early and hit up a nice bakery for breakfast. I did the economic thing and ordered a loaf of freshly baked bread (OMG it was amazing) for less than a Euro and completely filled up on that. Then we hit a coffee place and I got a shot of Espresso for 1 Euro. I was very proud of myself. After sufficently taking care of that whole “eat” thing that people, from time to time need to do, we hopped on the Metro to Sagrada Família, the totally badass cathedral that was designed by Antoni Gaudí, Art Nouvo god, and has been under construction since 1882. It will be open for worship (but not completed) they hope by 2010. Its massive and awesome and if you have no idea whats up with it, check it out. We hit a gift shop afterwards AND I BOUGHT A SPANISH FLAG =D.

Next, we went to another building Gaudí designed, which was also totally amazing. We toured it and the artist in me was very pleased. I have a bunch of pictures of it that I’ll figure out a way to put up here soon. But my brain is too dead to do that right now. Afterward, we were on our way to the beach when Claire realized that she lost her Camera, and we went back to the Gaudí house to look for it, but with no such luck. We were sad for her. At that point, we just wanted food, so we went to this really nice seafood place (no, I did not get seafood, are you out of your mind? I had pasta, obv). Sangrea is an amazing drink by the way, if you haven’t had it, then you’re missing out. We were going to go to the beach then, but several things were hindering this. a) We didn’t know where it was, b) it was dark, c) IT WAS EFFING RAINING. I forgot to mention that, didn’t I? Well now is as good a time as any.

It rained. The entire time. If it wasn’t raining, it was cold and damp. Lets review my reasons for going to Spain. Reason #’s 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5: TO ESCAPE THE RAIN, COLD, AND DAMPNESS OF LONDON. URGH.

Anyway, at that point, we were exhausted and headed back to the Supermercat and I got Zumo De Manzana, which was delicious, and went back to the Hostel for some sleep.

Woke up, decided to get more bread and coffee, did such things, and headed to the Metro toward the Bus station, grabbed the bus and headed for the Airport. Ryanair dicked us over to the point that we got complaint forms, but we managed to get to the flight on time and played cards until we boareded. Similarly to the first flight, this one made me feel like my head was in between two stones being slowly pushed together, and even now, as I’m sitting at my desk typing this, it is as if I have earplugs in.

Was the trip a success? I honestly could not tell you. I’m glad I got to Spain and have another country under my belt, and I’m glad to have experienced what I did, but the trip fell very short of the expectations I had for it. And now, I’m not going to be eating anything other than pasta, bread and cereal so that I can afford to go to Germany. If I don’t make it to Germany, I will return to the US an empty man.


Post-Preview

March 27, 2009

Alas, Epic-Week is over.

Tuesday, or rather St. Patrick’s day, was probably the worst of the week, surprisingly. I had class in the morning till the early afternoon, and at that point, all the preview kids were off doing things that I wasn’t allowed to follow them on. Mike was at a football game that apparently sucked hardcore. But it didn’t matter, because I had plans set for afterward, right? Wrong. My plans were forced to be canceled because Arcadia is terrible at estimating how long things take and everybody was late and my plans got royally screwed. So by the time they got back, all the pubs were closed (because apparently, closing pubs at midnight on St. Paddy’s day is a wise business decision). And the pubs that WERE open turned us away, presumably out of a fear of money and success. So I spent the only St. Paddy’s day I’ve ever been legally allowed to drink sober as a Judge and without anything to do. Thanks Arcadia/UK.

Wednesday I woke up and went to class, blah blah, boring. Afterward, Amy and I met up with Mike and made our way to the Churchill Museum and the Cabinet War Rooms for Historic London. Kate would have came, but she was sick. So we got to where we needed to meet and something hilarious occured. We mixed our weeks up and, rather than where we were, the class was at the Imperial War Museum. So, taking that opportunity to enjoy the fact that we didn’t have to go to class, Mike and I went back to Thoresby to eat food. After lounging sufficently, we went to Palace Court to hang with a very sick and miserable Kate. We teased her, as is custom, and she threatened us several times with silence (none of her bouts of silence lasted long, she is Kate afterall…). We then went to Covent Garden to meet with Kate C and go see Chicago. The two Kates loved it, I liked it and Mike fell asleep. To his defense, he was really tired. We went to get food afterward and he almost passed out in his chair. So I rushed him home so he could rest. I eventually passed out myself.

Thursday began with my super super super boring class. Afterwards, however, I met up with Mike, Megan and Elena and we bonded. They were on a scavenger hunt for things in London and had to take a bunch of pictures and answer a lot of questions. Their group won, obv. Afterward, I took the three of them to Thoresby, because Megan needed to wash her clothes (there were peculiar things on her pants, like egg and Jägerbomb). So we did that for a while before heading out to Over There, the theater show of that week. It was a show about the re-unification of Germany after the fall of the wall and was told through two twins from either side, acting as symbols. Capitalism vs. Communism. Needless to say, it was my favorite production. Mike liked it too. Afterward, the guys (Regan and Fox) snuck me into the Generator bar and I enjoyed myself very much. Two Irish Car Bombs were very wonderful. And I got to hang out with all the Arcadians that I missed so much. It was probably my favorite night.

Friday, all the preview kids went on trips out of London, so I was without them until 5:30. That was ok though, because I got to sleep in, which was necessary for proper functioning that day. I also had to pick up EmTodd and Maz from King’s Cross/St. Pancras (at different times). I got Em first and took her back to Thoresby and we bonded, it was wonderful. It was so good to see that girl. We went out to lunch before we had to go get Maz. It was good to see him too =]. We hung around for a little bit before we went to the Generator to pick up Mike, Regan and Fox. We hit a few pubs after that, ate food, drank ale, and went back to the house and partied it up. Card games, Cider, and all that fun stuff. Eventually though, we had to get Regan and Fox out of there, so they peaced and we all passed out.

Saturday was when everybody left, but I was damned if we weren’t going to do the London Eye before then, so I made everyone get up mad early so we could book it for the attraction, which we got on SO easily, i was surprised. The “flight” as they called it, was awesome. Everybody else liked it too. After that, we hit The Shephardess for their last English Breakfast and took them to the Generator, where their busses were picking them up. It took me a little while to say good bye, and it was pretty emotional, but I did it and they left. I can’t wait to go home, now.

The rest of the weekend I spent bonding with Maz and EmTodd. After saying goodbye, we all went to Thoresby and napped like demons. After that, we decided to grab dinner and hit a few cafés around Picadilly. After that, we weren’t up to doing much, so we came back and watched Shaun of the Dead and slept. The following morning, we shopped around for shit (but never bought anything) and put EmTodd on her train. Maz and I chilled and watched Eurotrip and an episode of Skins, which is apparently some cool British TV show. I thought it was alright. After that was done, I took Maz back to KX and bid him farewell too.

With everyone gone, I relaxed for the first time in over a week, because I didn’t have to entertain any more guests. By Tuesday, though, I missed all of them so much, it was sad. I got over it, though, and here I am, about to get on a Plane to Spain. I’m sorry this update took so long to write, and I promise the Spanish update will be much quicker.


Awesome Week

March 17, 2009

Ok, so, I apologize for not updating at all in the past week, but last week was completely boring and monotnous. This week, however, is turning out to be anything but.

Sunday morning was when the Arcadia preview kids got here. I got up bright and early to get ready and started walking towards King’s Cross (which is right near where they are). As soon as I turned onto the street their hostle is on, the busses started letting people off. So I stood there and waited for Mike, who eventually got off and we had a tackle-hug-reunion thing. I also got to see other people, which excited me to no end. I helped Mike up to his room, which he’s sharing with Regan and his friend Fox.

They had to go to some information session (which I followed them to) and afterward, I took Mike, Regan and Fox around the city. We started with Breakfast in the Eagle, which was amazing, if you were wondering. Then we hopped on the tube to get to St. Paul’s Cathedral, walked around that, across the Millennium Bridge, along the River Thames, under the London Eye, past the Houses of Parliament and ending at Trafalgar Square. I really wanted to get into the square, because they were having a kickass St. Patrick’s Day parade there, but they weren’t letting any more people in at that point, so we grabbed another tube to go hit another pub. Mike and I came back to Thoresby and chilled, because it was a long day, before going back out that night with Regan, Fox, Colin, Metzger, Worstall, Tommy, Dan, Kasey and this other kid named Steve that I had never met. We pub crawled with them (I was the DD, because I needed to make sure they knew how to get home), and it was a pretty fun time.

Monday was pretty cool too. We went to another lame meeting Arcadia had set up for them, and afterward we went down to the river, walked along it until we hit Tower Bridge, crossed it and met at the Tower of London. They gave everyone a ticket (except me, of course) and said go see it whenever. So the four of us decided to just skip it for now (Regan went back later) and we went to have lunch at this really nice tavern type place. It reminded me of Victorian England. At that point, we were all beat so we came back and took naps before we had to get ready for the Preview/FYSAE dinner. The dinner was pretty good, we had to talk to Jan Finn, which is always WONDERFUL. Then I sat with my friends and we ate and made merry.

That night, we went to Picadilly Circus and looked around for some good pubs, before settling on somewhere I now forget the name of, but it was really classy, I promise. We had a few drinks there, nothing huge, and came back home before the Tube shut down. I slept very quickly.

So now I’m up, killing time before class starts. We’re going to the Imperial War Museum for History today, which is funny because a bunch of Preview people are going to be there too, so that’ll be cool. I’m also due to go there tomorrow with my other class, but I might nix it. I’ll only go if Mike wants to see it (he’s going to the Victoria & Albert museum today, which i’m jealous of him for).

And so concludes days 1 and 2 of Awesome Week.

ps. Happy St. Patrick’s Day


:-D

March 15, 2009