Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter Sunday

If you know me, or have been around me during the winter holiday season, you know that I have a strong dislike for Christmas music.  This dislike grew from 6 years of playing in middle and high school orchestras, where the Christmas and winter music played procured only notes that lived sharply above or flatly below the real tone and pitch of the song.  Hearing such horrible Christmas music from October through December for six years, roughly five times a week was enough to render me uninterested.  This dislike of Christmas music makes it even odder that today, on a warm, sunny spring day in California, I find myself listening to Otis Redding's version of "White Christmas".

While I am secretly dreaming of cooler weather as the warm summer days seem too quickly approaching, I had a sudden urge to listen to this song not because of the lyrics, but because of how his version makes you feel.  It is both soothing to listen to, but also leaves you with an uneasy feeling, a sense of moving or rocking back and forth in place.  I first heard this version in the film Love Actually, and if I remember correctly, it is played in the movie at a moment expressing mixed feelings of optimism for the happier couples, and sad beginnings of realisations for those with ill-fated endings.

The sense of loneliness and of longing fits my mood on this warm, spring day.  But also my previous mentioned notion of rocking back and forth in place and not moving forward, is really how I find myself feeling today.

Today I find myself thinking of and missing my friends that are hundreds of miles away from me.  Whether they live in a different city or different country, I find myself wishing I could be there with them, but, instead, I am stuck where I am.

So, whether you agree with my feelings about Redding's "White Christmas", or whether you think I am crazy and attaching personal feelings and sentiments to a song that does not share it is for your listening pleasure.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

And my travels continue...

Upon returning to the US, I assumed my travels would end.  That I would be in the same town or State (apart from moving to or from my hometown, to where I go to college, a move I now consider more businessy or regular rather than "fun" traveling).  However, after being home for just under two weeks, I find myself on the move again.  I am going to the Midwest, first to visit a friend, and then to see some family.  After that, I return back to my hometown for a few days, and then I am off to move in to my new apartment, and to prepare for the new Autumn semester.  I'm not sure what, if any traveling I will do after that, but this little trip reminds me that traveling doesn't end here.  (Which is very similar to something a good friend reminded me of on my last post - that goodbyes aren't forever. <3 )  I have so much left of the world to explore, let alone my own country, of which I feel I've hardly seen anything (well, not hardly seen anything...but there are definitely a lot of places in the US I have yet to go).  And while I may not have the money or time to travel once this last summer holiday comes to a close, I hope that my travels won't end here, and that I can keep traveling, and hopefully keep using this blog to share my experiences.

I may also use this blog to discuss and contemplate culture shock, and how it is to be back home in a familiar country that has now become unfamiliar.  Or I may use this, again, who knows.  I'm not sure what this blog will turn into after I finish posting about my Euro-trip, and my short trip to the Midwest (these are coming soon, I promise!  Hopefully within a week or so!), but that's the adventure I guess.

After all, as my favourite author wrote:

"A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike.  And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless.  We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us." 
-- John Steinbeck

And so, in the spirit of Steinbeck, although I will do my best to plan out all future trips, as well as my future life after University (which may be coming very soon!) I will have to let life take me and, (although I will definitely fight for what I want along the way), see where I am taken.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Goodbye England!

While there are still many posts to come (mostly photo-based of the many different travels and trips I have taken at the end of my year abroad), I will be leaving England shortly.  Very shortly.  Almost too shortly.  While I am quite excited to be seeing my family and friends again after being away for 7 months (I know that isn't very long, but it is the longest I've ever been away from home), I am also starting to realize how much I will miss England, and all the friends I have made here.  I have had such an amazing time abroad, and have been so lucky to meet (and meet-up with) so many great people I am lucky to call friends.

I am sorry if this post is a bit mushy, but I have been feeling a bit sentimental as of late about leaving.  For awhile I was too stressed to have time to feel sad (too stressed with finals, revising, packing to move out, and traveling), but now that things have quieted down a bit - my traveling done except for my trip home, and the packing nearly finished, I have had time to take things in, and realize what a great place and what great people I am leaving.

I have met some of the nicest, most caring people this past year, and have met up with so many people willing to share their experience living on this side of the world and sharing their culture.  I knew this experience abroad would be a great one, but I didn't realize how much of an impact it would make on me, or even exactly what study abroad would entail.  Now, as this year I've been waiting for since I was in high school comes to an end, I find it hard to sum everything I've changed, what I've come to notice or realize about the rest of the Western world, or even about the U.S. itself.

I would like to think that I've learned a lot more about patience and understanding...I do let my emotions get the best of me still, but I hope I have learned (and can continue to improve on) my patience and understanding for others.

I also like to think that this year abroad has also taught me some different ways to live - different ways to do laundry, cook, think about things...that may seem very broad and general, but the food I've had in Europe has made me realize you don't always need sugar or salt to make something taste good, and that there are other ways to do laundry besides tumble dry (which is more common in the US than elsewhere, and uses a lot of energy).

This year abroad has also made me much more literary-minded.  Not only have I been introduced to authors not commonly discussed or advertised in the US, I've also come to realize how literary-focused or attentive the rest of the world is compared to the US.  It's also been a great experience to use books and authors as a guide for traveling around, basing some of my travels on going to author's hometowns and learning more about them and where they grew up.

This 'goodbye' to England post is a bit rambly and disjointed, which I apologize for, but there really is no clean and nice and easy way to sum up my time here.  In a meek attempt to do so....I would say that I spent my time abroad as if I would never visit Europe again.  And while I'd love to come back and visit, money is not always in excess, and with the benefit and aid of student loans, I like to think I definitely lived my year abroad as if I may not come back - I traveled a lot, and tried to make the most of everything.

While I do have some small regrets, like wishing I had made a better effort to make more friends, and thinking I could have gone out and enjoyed my time with others rather than focus so hard on my studies, I can't change anything, nor would I take anything back about my time here.

All in all, I learned a lot about other cultures, other ways to live, (and other authors!) but I met some amazing, sweet, friendly people this past year, from all across the globe, and that experience - making such good friends, and getting a chance to spend a year with most of them, was definitely the highlight of this past year abroad.  And while I love Norwich, and love England, it is the people I've met here that will be the hardest to say goodbye to.  It will be/has been incredibly hard to say goodbye to them and all I can hope is that the cheesy saying of 'goodbye isn't forever' does ring true (as much as it can) and that I can once I again travel and visit all my new friends again, wherever they are in the world :)

Most of my flat and I at our leaving/end of year party :)

Well, for this blog (for now) you can expect more travel posts (once I get back to the States and sort through my mess of photos) as well as some more videos.  After that...who knows?  I might have to turn this blog into something else...not sure what yet, but we'll see where the road takes me, I guess ;)

Thursday, May 31, 2012

No posting until July...possibly

Hello there,

I know I should make a better effort to post continuously, and regularly, but due to one more exam, and then a very long trip around Europe I have coming up (and lack of space on my computer to upload and organize photos), I probably won't post until I am back State-side.  I know I should post now while everything is fresh in my mind, but at the moment, real life is coming into play and, well, I just don't have the time or resources to do this.  So sorry for the long gap in posting...but I hope to be back and running in July!  And you can expect pictures (and also various videos from a couple boat tours I took!) from a lot of different places - including my most recent trip to Norway (once again!!!), Sweden, and Denmark, as well as from my upcoming trip around Europe, hitting some of the bigger countries over there.  But yeah...plenty of pretty and interesting pictures to come, I promise!  Just not for a month or two's time...sorry about that! :)

PS - For those who don't know, the kisses or x's at the end of a message is a Brit. habit I have been picking up lately :)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Windsor Castle

My University offered a day trip to Windsor Castle - it was quite pricey, and a long days journey from our Uni, but totally worth it!  The castle did feel a bit like an amusement park (mostly because the pavement walking up was new, and the whole place reminded me of Disneyland) but it was very pretty.  It was also huge - I only saw a small part of it, of what they let the public see, but it was very grand and (obviously) had a lot of history.  Also the Queen was in residence the day we went!  (As you can see in the image below - the flag is up and out!)

Unfortunately, like most places, they don't allow photography inside, but I do have pictures of the outside!

Windsor Castle

Flag = Queen!  But, no, I did not see her.  (Unlike everyone else on the bus, I knew she wasn't an attraction feature at the castle, haha.)

And this is where I really felt like I was at Disneyland!  The street is made of materials that are too recent and don't fit the castle!

Going into the town of Windsor.

The Crooked House - unfortunately there wasn't enough available seating for us to eat inside :/

The walk back up to our bus.  It is kind of nice how the castle is placed at the top of the hill, and how town leads into it.  Very picturesque, and "feels" how a town with a castle should feel, if you know what I mean...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Bath, UK - A Very Quick Trip

While in England, I visited one of my father's business friends for a weekend.  He was kind enough to drive me to Bath for a quick, afternoon trip.  While there, we saw the Roman Bath house (as well as a lot of great Georgian Architecture!)

And let the photos commence!

The cathedral.

Inside the Roman Bath House...had actors and actresses in Roman costume as well!

Metal curses - if someone stole something, or offended someone, some people wrote a curse against them and threw the curses into the baths, hoping they would come true.

At one of the inside baths.

View of the baths and the cathedral.

A random, but cute street :)

More Georgian Architecture (I think...)

A short, but great trip full of beautiful buildings and a historical lesson on the Roman Bath house in Bath!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Literary Europe IX - Jane Austen's House at Chawton

Hello!!!  Still running behind in my posts, but working on catching up!

Shortly after my trip to Norway, I took a day trip out to the English village of Chawton to see Jane Austen's house there!  (There are a total of 3 - I think - one in Bath, one in Winchester (which I blogged about previously here) and the one in Chawton (near Alton), which is where the museum is.)

The house was great to see and walk through.  However, while the museum clearly did their best to put together the history behind Jane, since Cassandra burned most of her letters, she still remains a mystery.  Which leaves some difficulty for the museum.  There was a lot of information on her relatives, some info on Jane herself, and some belongings of hers and her family, though greedy me wishes there was a bit more (though, of course, it's not really the museum's fault that the information just no longer exists).  Besides the lack of info on Jane, the museum was a great place to visit.  It was a cute, quaint house (though feels bigger on the inside than the outside, oddly enough).  (Also, for anyone planning a trip there, it may have been a bit easier to get to by car, but my taxi drivers were quite entertaining to and from the train station.)

But, while I could sit here and ramble on and on about the house, I might as well show you some pictures of it instead!
Side of the house, and current entrance.
The actual donkey carriage Jane and Cassandra used!

Kitchen.  Separated from house.

Lock of Jane's Hair!  (And in the corner, one of the toapz crosses Jane and Cassandra owned.)

They believe the original entrance (the one used by Jane's family) is where the window is now.

Dining/breakfast table.

Okay I was pretty excited to see this - this is Jane's writing table!  Very small, but fitting, I'm sure.  Apparently she'd eat breakfast with her family, then sit at this table and write shortly after.  Also they think her family took on extra chores so she could spend the mornings writing.

Jane & Cassandra's bedroom!
A replica bed of the one they might've had.

Another room upstairs, now used for museum purposes.

Hall way leading to various rooms.

Side of the house - view from the (dye) garden.

Back of the house.

Not the most photographic background, but proof I was there!

Across the street - a recommended pub and tea room.

I opted for the tea room...totally worth it!

Had some great Darjeeling tea, but also possibly the best cake I've ever had in my life!  Light and airy and perfect and delicious!  And great for those sugar lows!

Clever name for the tea room :)
Some other cute houses around Chawton :)

One of the houses decided to name themselves this after one of Jane's stories.

Didn't go on the full "Austen Trail" but did explore around the area a bit.

Jane's mum and sister are burried at the small chapel/church down the street.
All in all, a great time at Jane Austen's Chawton home!!!