Tuesday, January 31, 2012

This England

I'm here! After what seemed like endless traveling and too many hours sitting, I am finally settled in my house in Bath.  I met up with a girl from SMC (Jordan) at the airport who is also going to ASE and we had the same flight itinerary so we were able to travel together which was so nice.  Our plane was empty; my section had 16 seats and only three were taken so I got to sprawl out and relax, although I could not sleep. I think my nerves were getting to me. I read a book on my new kindle fire, which I'm obsessed with. We arrived in Dublin around 4:30am and connected our flight to Bristol around 6:40.  It was a little commuter plane that we actually took a bus to. I had never heard of that! When we arrived in Bristol we took a bus to the train station and passed 3 sheep farms, which was very British.  The landscape is amazing and the architecture of the houses is so beautiful. The train station was on a little cobblestoned road and was actually very beautiful.  

Kings Mead Train Station 

When we arrived in Bath, we had to wait outside the train station for ASE to pick us up, and we ended up waiting 40 minutes because our train arrived early. We found other ASE students and were able to chat and get to know each other.  Then we were taken by van to our houses! Mine is very cute and in the most perfect location.  The set up of the house is strange, however.  There is a basement that includes a classroom(interestingly enough) our washer and dryer, our oven (our real kitchen is 2 stories up), and a bathroom.  The main floor holds 2 double bedrooms, the 2nd story holds our common living space, a dining room, and the main kitchen, the 3rd floor is where my bedroom is and the other twin and the 2 showers.  The actual bathroom is actually another story up in the tiniest, narrow winding staircase ever. Its a little strange. 

I love the girls in my house! There are 8 of us and we all get along really well.  For dinner last night we went to a thai place literally 5 steps from our house called Salathai and it was delicious.  New take out place for sure.  Then we went to get necessities like shampoo and razors, and came back to the house to play traditional bonding and get to know you games. 
Today was our first day of orientation and they kept the day jam packed with various talks on the program overview and social and cultural interaction, walks, and meetings with internship/education coordinators.  They disregarded the fact that we were all seriously jetlagged and sore from the day before. 

Tonight we are all cooking dinner and laying low and having movie night. We are all so exhausted! 
I will write another post at the end of orientation week to fill in the rest of the days but now you all know I have safely arrived in Bath and absolutely loving it.

Here are some things I have learned so far: 
  • plane food is awful. 
  • don't carry a heavy backpack when traveling. my back is super sore. 
  • wheeled luggage on cobblestone is recipe for disaster. 
  • pants mean underwear in british. 
  • british primary (elementary) students don't know what moose are.
  • the bus drivers don't announce what the stops are so you really have to pay attention (another recipe for disaster)

This royal throne of kings, 
this scept'red isle, this seat of Mars, 
This other Eden, demiparadise...
This blessed pot, this earth, this realm, 
This England.
--Richard II- William Shakespeare 

Keep Calm and Follow the Moon 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

50 Pounds Really isn't a lot, is it?

I am an infamous overpacker.  At school, my trunk overflows with sweatshirts, sweats, and tshirts. I have probably 30 or more pairs of shoes. A professional may or may not call me a hoarder based on my closet. What can I say, I love clothes.  This poses a problem when I am packing however.  My airline, as most international flights, has a 50 pound weight limit for my checked luggage. If it goes over 50 pounds it costs about $60 (holy cow). My suitcase alone weighs around 20 pounds and I was hoping to leave room in it for things I may purchase when abroad.

I have to pack for 4 months in one tiny suitcase.  I need outfits for casual wear around my house, school, teaching, Oxford, the gym, hiking, formal events my program is required to attend, and nightlife.  While many may overlap, such as the gym and hiking and formal events and teaching, it is difficult for me to decide what to pack and what not to pack. I love my clothes!

In other news, I leave in 2 days and 20 hours. It has not quite hit me yet. My dog has been moping around the house every day since the suitcases were brought out.

What I'll miss most in Europe

So wish me luck on packing and listen to this (shameless) plug of my A cappella group, the AcaBellas, another thing I will miss in Europe! 

Keep Calm and Follow the Moon 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Some FAQ's

So as my departure date rapidly approaches (12 days!), I have been doing some research on the Advanced Studies in England website, acquainting myself with both the academics and the study trips, social and cultural interaction, and various day trips ASE provides.

First of all, let me bore you with some academic information.  I will be taking a full course load of 16 credits. My education programme is 8 credits, so my placement is 4 credits and the corresponding seminar on Education in England is 4.  The other two classes are history, one on the Tudors and the other on the Formation of England. There are approximately 13 students in each class, and seminars meet once a week for 2 hours. Many professors are either current or former Oxford University professors. My personal course related trips take me to the Montecute house and ancient ruins, dating back to the B.C era.

My house is called the Linley house and is located around the corner from both the River Avon and the study centre. It is an eight person house, all girls from my program.  Each house is fully equipped with wireless internet access, a telephone, TV, dvd and video, a washer, dryer, refrigerator, and oven.  The kitchens are supplied with all cooking needs and a microwave. We get an orientation to our house on the first night so we know how everything works (yes, British appliances function differently than American!) We also get to know both our house and our neighborhood. Since Bath is a city, there is a plethora of bars, clubs, and shopping areas around us.

Because Bath hosts more than 20,000 full-time students at its two universities, Bath is definitely a student city.  During our orientation week we are paired with "student helpers" who are either current or recent full time students in Bath.  These partners are there to encourage interaction in the city and help us find fun events to go to.  We are also provided with a local bus pass to the University of Bath, encouraging us to interact with students of that university and the university bars and cafes and sports center.
A photo of the University of Bath 

During Orientation week, we take a day trip to some of Southwest Britain's most beautiful sites, including Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Lacock Village, the site of a few scenes from Harry Potter.


Salisbury Cathedral 

Lacock Village 

There are other optional day trips, such as the Cotswolds, or the Tor and ancient ruins in Glastonbury and burial sites of King Arthur. Other trips include hikes along the coast and the ruined castles of Dorset, also called the Jurassic Coast. 

Sorry this was a lengthy post, but its interesting FAQs about my program that I thought I would share! 

Keep Calm and Follow the Moon 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Passports, Visas, and Suitcases, Oh My!

17 days until I leave my family for 4 months. Needless to say, reality is hitting the McCarter family. I received my visa in the mail right before Christmas (a lovely gift to reduce some stress) and my passport did not get lost in the mail, thank God. Besides relaxing and reading for the past 4 weeks, I have been anxiously preparing for my trip. I got new boots to traverse Europe with and a lovely new carry-on suitcase from my godparents for both the flight and casual trips around both the UK and Europe. Casual.

I also received "Rules: Brittanica: An Insiders Guide to Life in the United Kingdom."  It is chock full of rules, tips on manners, and translations.  Who knew although Brits speak English their lingo is completely different! For example, "knocked for six" means very shocked. An upset stomach in British is "gippy tummy". A "slap-head" is a bald person. I know these are random examples, but I think they are silly and funny. Chapter 2 is titled "Words that Guarantee Giggles" I guess I have the collywobbles, meaning I am very nervous. I hope I'm not a plonker(idiot) when I arrive! I am on tenterhooks (pins and needles) just thinking about it! I hope its not chucking it down (raining heavily) when I arrive but I will surely have my wellies (rainboots) by my side!

Anyways, I am preparing to say "Cherrio!" to my SMC loves for a final time next week when I go up to visit!

Keep your pecker up! ( While that may sound dirty it literally means keep your spirits up)