Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Happy Holidays!!!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I am leaving for my 15 day Eurotrip with Leanna in less than 24 hours and the fact that I will not be spending the holidays with my family is starting to sink in. It is such an odd concept for me. I am really excited about going on this trip and I know my family wants me to have an amazing time so I'm trying not to feel too guilty about not being with them for "the most wonderful time of the year." There is no way that I could be going on the trip or spend a year in a foreign country without their love and support. I'm going to miss all the family traditions associated with the next few weeks, but I know I will appreciate them that much more next year. And with a little luck I'll make some awesome memories this year to treasure for the rest of my life. So everyone enjoy your holidays, I'll be thinking of you and wishing you the very best!


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Celebrating the end of the Autumn term

Me and Peggy in Rottingdean

To celebrate the end of the term, Peggy came down to visit Brighton on Friday. She wanted to see some of the southern country before returning to Livingston County on Tuesday. We took the bus out to Rottingdean to see the chalk cliffs and the Rottingdean Imp. The chalk cliffs in Rottingdean are roughly the same as the White Cliffs of Dover, just less famous and much closer to Brighton. It was SOOOO windy on the shore. We walked down to the seafront and the wind was even strong than it was when we were on top of the cliffs. I had already been to Rottingdean with my folklore class so I showed Peggy so of the landmarks in town that we had stopped by including the Rottingdean Imp. We both made wishes but I'm not sure he heard them because of all the wind.

We went back into Brighton and walked around the Lanes and the North lanes for a while. We both got hot milkshakes at Shake-away. Peggy had never been there before so we had to stop by. I had never heard of a hot milkshake before but they were surprisingly good. I had hot apple pie, custard, and cinnamon, and Peggy had toffee cheesecake, oreo cookies, and marshmellows. So delicious. We wandered in and out of shops discussing things we would buy if we had the money and/or room in our suitcases. We did buy a couple of treats though. Peggy bought sour gummy worms and I bought some roasted chestnuts. As dusk settled in we went down towards the Brighton Pier. Once again the wind was brutal as we got close to the seafront. We spent a little time in the games room and spent a few pence on a couple different games. We started to walk out to where the rides are but thought better of it after about 20 seconds of being out in the wind again.

We went to Casa Della Pizza for dinner which is essentially a knock-off version of the Pizza Hut Buffet. The pizza was really very similar to Pizza Hut's buffet pizza. Now I know where to go if I ever get a craving for (not great) American-esque pizza. After dinner we took a bus back to Sussex Uni for some hot chocolate. I also showed Peggy some of my photos from my travels. I already knew that I had a ton of photos and scrolling through the folders made me slightly more aware of how much traveling I have really done since I arrived here. And believe it or not, I have even more planned!

Right now I am preparing to send two weeks with my friend Leanna traveling around the European continent. Two weeks of hostels, rucksacks, and train rides... I'm so glad that I already spent one full week traveling at the end of September so I have a rough idea of how to pace myself for this. It's still going to be a long and intense trip though. This trip will also take place over Christmas and New Years. Adding the holidays, and holiday travelers, into the mix will make this trip especially crazy. However if it's anything like my Prague and Madrid trip, it will be extremely tiring but also extremely rewarding and be over all too soon.

One full term and 100 days

Last Group Photo of SIS 08

I am finally done with my autumn term here at Sussex Uni. For those of you keeping score at home, I have also completed 100 days of my school year abroad which puts me just past the one-third mark. I'm not sure how I got to this point. I know that I got up and went to all of my classes. I stayed up and finished all of my work. And now that's it's over I'm looking back and vaguely wondering where all the time went. Everyone from the September program has returned to the their home countries now and only two out of the seventy will be returning. The last couple weeks, from Thanksgiving to when everyone left, were probably the hardest for me. Everyone around me was looking forward to going home to their families and a common mantra was "I've had a lot of fun but it's time to go home." At that point I was looking at a stack of assignments that meant the end of the term but not the end of the class and a calendar that told me I would be spending my first Christmas without my family. Needless to say I found it very hard to be positive about staying when so many people around me were finishing their classes and preparing to go home. Through the ups and downs and wishing I was going to be home for Christmas, I knew that my time wasn't finished in England and if I stopped now I'd regret it for the rest of my life.

In a way, that stubborn voice inside of me has already been proved right. In the last week before everyone had to go, several people started telling me that I was lucky that I was staying and that they wished they could too. I have no idea what's going to happen next term but I know I'll make the most of it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A day in London...with my dad

This past Saturday my dad came to visit me on his way back from a business trip in Italy. Even though this trip isn't the longest I've been away from home, it certainly is the farthest which somehow makes it feel longer. Needless to say I was very excited to hear I would get to see him for the day.

We decided to meet at the train station in Brighton. The station is pretty small compared to some of the other stations in the UK and yet we still managed to walk passed each other twice before actually seeing each other. We grabbed breakfast at this little cafe in Brighton before heading back to Sussex Uni. In some sense, I'm lucky to live on the opposite side of campus as the station so I was able to show my dad almost all of it before we reached my front door. Dad was able to see my room in all its glory. He said that it looked a lot bigger in real life than on the webcam which I suppose is a good thing.

After a brief tour of campus, we went into London to see the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree and the West End Christmas lights. The Christmas tree was huge! A website said it was 20 meters tall, I think it was even taller than that. The tree is a gift from Norway and has been given to England every year since the end of WWII. We wandered around to see Westminster and Parliament, and then went to Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus to look at the Christmas lights. Little did I know that the West End was having some sort of massive shopping event that Saturday. So the roads were closed which was nice, but they were FILLED with people. We were walking in the middle of the street and still getting elbowed by people from time to time. We also went to Harrods department store which was completely overwhelming for me. We went in on the luxury floor which was probably the start of it. We took the tube over to Green Park and ate dinner at the absolutely amazing Italian place called Alloro. I had risotto with baby artichokes and smoke cheese. It was probably the best meal I've had in a very long time. I had tiramisu for dessert which was also good. I accidentally ate all the biscotti while Dad was taking care of the bill. Whoops! We took a black cab back to London Victoria to get out train back to Brighton. London via cab is a lot prettier than London via tube, especially during holiday shopping season.

I am still so happy I was able to see my dad, even if it was only for a day, and I can't wait till I have the chance to see the rest of the family.