So...sometimes 'studying abroad' is just that - studying. I apologize for not updating last Thursday (which has seem to become my blogging day), but there just wasn't that much to update.
I started a two work course entitled 'British Culture and Politics since 1945' the Monday after I arrived and it was not as much of a blow-off class as I thought it would be. The two weeks of lecture was fun and minimal effort was required. But then came the paper - 2,500 words about how British Cinema was used to show economic and political decline in the UK since 1945. Sounds fun, right? Actually, it really does. Under different circumstances, I would have really loved researching and writing this paper. However, I had a week to write this paper while all the students were busy partying all night, sleeping all day, and not worrying about anything in the world. The late night loud music and urge to sleep until 11am made finding motivation nearly impossible. Not to mention I only had until September 30th to finish The Office (US) before it was taken of UK Netflix! So last week was spent in the library, staring at a near blank word document hours on end. It finally all come together the night before it was due and my friends and I celebrated in a near empty pub and were in bed by midnight. What party animals we are (read: we are the boring Americans).
Lectures finally started this week and I only have class Monday and Tuesday. Hello 5 day weekends! I also had my first Rowing Club session last night - my legs are noodles this morning but I was encouraged by a returner that I wasn't the worst of the novice group. I'm off today and nursing what is hopefully not a stomach virus and scrounging up coins to do laundry ($4.85 to wash and dry!). I hope all is well with everyone back home, and I thank you all so much for your prayers and thoughts! My Mama tells me I am asked about often and I appreciate that so much!
Ta ta for now!
- Sista Grigg
I am finally settling in here in Swansea, and people have even started asking me questions! I usually don't know the answer but at least I look like I do. The last week has been awesome. Also, click on the hyperlinks in this post to have a quick education of the the sites I've visited. Here is what's happened since we last hung out:
Last Saturday, our course included a field trip to Bath where we toured the Roman Baths, had a peak in the Bath Abbey, strolled around town and saw The Circus and the Royal Crescent, almost didn't notice Bath's War Memorial, and had a nice walk through the Royal Victoria Park (which Queen Victoria established when she was only 11 years old). Of course, there are also lots of Jane Austen attractions in Bath - including pedestrians in period dress just because -but we only had one day! There are quite a few smaller and more quirky museums that I plan to visit the next time I go to Bath, which is hopefully soon because it's just a day's journey.
While my classmates headed back from Bath on Saturday afternoon, I caught a train to Warminster to stay with some wonderful people - Peter and Catherine- that my dad became friends with while he was in the Army. If I could insert a tip for any fellow military brats thinking about traveling or studying abroad: get names from your parents. Chances are they know someone in the country your going which means not only free lodging and food, but getting to see your destination from a local's perspective.
The couple I stayed with were so gracious and kind and made me feel right at home. We had a barbecue on Saturday night and watched the BBC Proms. On Sunday morning, they thought I would like to see Stonehenge (and of course I said they were right), so Peter kindly drove me around the English country side where we also walked through a park and saw the house of The Lord of Longleat. After a delicious lunch and before heading to the train station, some friends of Catherine's came over to pick apples from their tree. This couple makes jam and chutneys to sell as a fundraiser for the hospice where Catherine works. We had some homemade scones and a variety of jams (with clotted cream of course) and tea. I feel I partook in a British Sunday afternoon in the most traditional way I could.
After only a couple train delays and one missed connection, I arrived back in Swansea on Sunday night. The next two days were just lecture days for my pre-session course - pretty boring stuff unless you love British history. On Wednesday, I got to move to my flat where I will be living for the rest of the term. Its a good size room for one person, and I share two bathrooms and a kitchen with seven other people. As of right now, there are two other American girls already there that are also in my class, and today the rest start moving in! I am excited to meet my flatmates!
Yesterday was another lecture day for class and today is the last lecture day, and arrivals weekends starts this morning. Next week begins Freshers week, which is rumored to be pretty crazy. Wish me luck!
Below are pictures from the last week, enjoy!
No, your computer isn't having a coding error, that is Welsh you see in the title of this post. A very difficult language, in my opinion. My English speaking mouth can't form the syllables and I certainly can't seem to understand how to read it; but I love to listen to people speak it. Each words seems to carry so much heritage and culture that is overlooked in the grand scheme of the British isles. All my expectations of this wonderful country have been met and exceeded. I may never come home (only joking, Mom).
My first week in Wales has been great. My travel day was smooth and I had no hiccups, but very little sleep. Luckily, I got a head start on jet lag and haven't really felt it. The view from my window as the sun was rising over the British Isles was one of the most beautiful sights I've experienced. What a creative Creator we have!
The first couple days were spent getting settled and meeting the other American students that will be here this semester and some throughout the whole school year (talk about green with envy). It was nice to be confused together; we had no idea what the next couple weeks would hold.
My pre-session course started on Monday with a brief orientation in the morning and a bus tour in the afternoon of Swansea and a neighboring community called Mumbles. Mumbles is named after two little island that are off the tip of the peninsula, literally little mumbles of land. I will include some pictures at the bottom of this post. The shores are beautiful and the small town has a lot of fun restaurants and pubs. It is only a short bus ride away so I will definitely be going back. fun!
The second day of class was just lectures all day, mostly about post-war politics and film in Britain. I think I would have enjoyed the day more had I been feeling better. I am am currently in the middle of a round of antibiotics (thank you, Dr. Coleman). I seem to be on the upside of it, but still a little stopped up. The third day of class (Wednesday) was very fun! Out morning consisted of a tour of The Big Pit, a mining museum in Blaenavon. I thoroughly enjoyed the tour, considering my fascination with Wales began with the novel How Green Was My Valley, a story of a Welsh mining family. The Welsh are very proud of their mining history and are always hoping for a revival of the local industry.
We then drove to Cardiff where we enjoyed lunch and a walk around of the Cardiff Castle. The castle was built of Normans on top of an old Roman fort. It was beautiful and right in the middle of the city centre. Again, I will add those pictures in the slide show.
I think it is finally setting in that I am here and won't be leaving for a few months. I still can't believe I am only a few minutes walk from the beach. It is simply beautiful here and you should all come visit right away!