It’s Beginning to Look Like Holiday Spirit

DSC_0201Ah man, look at me being terrible at posting on time again. Well, better late than never?

Anywhos, it’s the last week of classes here and I’m dealing with packing and trying to complete some essays before I leave for my month long, graceful, tumble around Europe. At this moment I’m a bit sick, which is a little terrifying, but I’m keeping my head up that I’ll be mostly better by this weekend. This upcoming Monday will be my first day in Barcelona so I don’t know how well posting on this blog will go, but I’ll do my best.

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The pictures you’re seeing are from the city center of Nottingham where they have a Christmas market set up. Apparently they have Christmas markets all over Europe. The best ones are in Germany and Austria, but I’ll just have to settle for the few we stumble upon while traveling and this one, about twenty minutes away from me. The holidays are making me both really sad and happy. Sad because I will not be with family this year, but happy because I’ll be in Amsterdam instead. Not to mention Christmas in general makes me happy (it helps you guys sent me presents to open on actual Christmas day).

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The holiday season also gave the hall an excuse to have our Christmas formal, which is why we all look so dapper in these photos. I’m really going to miss all of these kids while I travel. I’m really glad I come back for two weeks to take finals because it would have been a rough couple of days if I had to say a permanent goodbye.

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There are a lot of opportunities to get into the holiday spirit. A bunch of girls from Linfield all volunteered with helping to make holiday decorations for a party and spending the afternoon drinking Starbucks Christmas drinks while cutting out paper snowflakes and not so carefully applying glitter to everything was the perfect way to bring myself some holiday cheer.

Okay, now I should really stop avoiding other responsibilities. This Shakespeare Histories essay is not, unfortunately, going to write itself. Hopefully next will be a post from Barcelona where it will not be quite as cold.

Some Things I’ll Miss About England

DSC_0010Hello sisters.

So I know I still have a considerable amount of time abroad, but the the facts are, I only have three weeks of school left until I leave for break and even though after break I return for another two weeks, I’m already feeling nostalgic for a place I’m still living. The thing is, the idea of leaving this new place where I’ve discovered so many things and met so many people is wrenching my heart. Going to Uni here has been like starting over and in an effort to avoid thinking about the upcoming holidays where I won’t be with my family, I thought I’d list some of my favorite things about the place I live.

1. England is beautiful. The picture above is from Wollaton and Deer Park. I have found that Wollaton is the exact perfect way to take a study break. Sometimes, I’ll load my phone up with a new podcast or good music and just take a walk around the lake. There are always families walking around or people cycling and I find it a great way to clear my head and breathe in some fresh air. The fact is, England is beautiful. It’s like they try especially hard to make everything aesthetically pleasing and I love it.

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2. The City Center. Nottingham is not exactly England’s shining jewel, but the city center has always surprised me with the amount of things to do and the amount of weird adventures I’ve had. Whether it’s going out to clubs where everyone dances embarrassingly and I have yet to see any true grinding, or just randomly going into town one day and finding a vintage fair, Nottingham makes me happy. The other evening, after 80’s night at a dance club, me and a friend ran through town attempting to get McDonald’s before our bus was due to arrive. We made it, but only by sprinting with burgers and fries in our hands and mouths and almost choking from laughing.

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3. Traveling. The picture above is from a random two day trip I took with my friend Molly to Cambridge. The town was having a little carnival type deal for Guy Fawkes night where the fireworks were actually pretty impressive. The fact is, I took a random trip to a completely new city in the middle of the week and just took time to explore. I don’t do that at home, no one really does. I know it’s harder to do in the states than it is here, but I’m going to miss it when I return. I’ll be flat broke from all of the traveling, but it’s oh so worth it.

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4. The people. This one is going to hurt. The people in my hall are becoming some of my favorite humans. It’s going to hurt like a bitch leaving them.

Anyways, there’s a quick, more optimistic comment on how my life has been going lately. I have some footage from other, more recent travels, I just need to get my shiz together and actually edit it all. But this is all I can manage at the moment, I have to go read some criticism on Death of a Salesman now. Byeeee.

An American going to School in England: What to Expect

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“Hi, my name is Lacey.”

That’s all it takes before someone knows I’m not from England. Every time I introduce myself I’m instantly asked two things. One, being “Lucy?” the other being “Where are you from?” Apparently, the name Lacey is not popular in England. In fact, it’s so unpopular that I always have to introduce myself twice. Once the fact that my name is Lacey not Lucy is confirmed, people usually remember someone named Lacey being on a reality T.V. show. Which I have also realized is true, I have a reality show girl participant name. That’s fine though.

The question “Where are you from?” has also been an interesting one. Instantly when I speak people can tell I’m not from England. The accent is a dead give away and despite the fact that I’ve been here for a month and a half, I really can’t do an English accent to save my life. But the actual question has been interesting because one, people are scared to ask if I’m from the States, and two, it’s difficult to know if they know exactly where Oregon or Washington are. Usually when telling people where I’m from I’ll say “I’m from Oregon, in America.” Which, then based on their lack of acknowledgement I’ll follow with “It’s above California” or “It’s on the West coast.” What I’ve found really interesting about this question is the fear people have that I’ll be offended if they assume I’m from America and I end up being from Canada. Apparently that’s an issue, Canadians don’t like to be confused with Americans, who knew?

Anyways, now that I’ve been here for a considerable amount of time I thought I’d do a post about some things I’ve learned about being an American in England. There have been some ups and downs, but these are things that have really stuck out as far as being foreign goes.

1. I don’t know how to speak English:

Upon hearing that I’m an American student taking English courses most people have replied with “But you don’t even speak proper English, isn’t like learning  a second language?” I usually reply with something equally sassy, but the truth is there have been quite a few struggles dealing with language. Sometimes words are hard. Talking about school is hard. Here they don’t have majors, their college was part of high school (which is not called high school) and they have no idea what a sophomore, junior, or senior is. Here’s an example of just a random conversation that became a struggle:

“You know, you really should have worn soccer cleats… I mean football cleats? Or football trainers? Or… football shoes?”

“There called football boots.”

This is just one example. There have been many many instances when I realized that I don’t know how to speak English.

2. England is expensive:

I knew coming here that the exchange rate was going to be rough. 1.7 dollars is 1 pound and that has not been a pleasant thing. Basically, everything is priced the same as in the states (a burger is 7-8 pounds a candy bar is a quid) but that price goes up when you’re using American dollars to pay for it. Not only that, but you have to pay for everything here. There are hundreds of societies for students to join, which is great, what’s less great is that they all cost money. Want to be on a sports team? That’s going to be fourteen pounds, plus you need to buy a gym membership so you can come to training, plus you need to pay sixty pounds for kit, plus tournament fees, plus transportation fees to get to the tournament. The school literally has tickets for clubs and events every night, but you need to pay for all of it. Lets just say my wallet is hurting a lot more than it should responsibly be hurting and I’m going to blame England rather than myself for that problem.

3. Public transportation is the best thing to exist ever.

The public transportation in England is amazing. You can get anywhere on a bus and the train tickets are actually decently priced. Traveling is a lot easier when you can get to the train station from a bus that picks you up directly from your school. Not to mention that the actually university is a far walk from the town center, but the bus comes by every five minutes, so it’s not even an issue. It makes me feel like an adult using the bus system correctly and it makes me wish we had a better system in America.

4. The classes are entirely different, and I don’t know if I like it.

I actually only have classes two days a week. Tuesday and Friday are the only days I actually attend school, but it doesn’t feel that way. There is so much independent study and as an English student, I am doing so much reading. The first week of classes my Victorian Literature class announced we were reading Great Expectations and expected to be done by that time next week. It’s a new novel every week, a new play every week, and a few of Shakespeare’s history plays thrown in for good measure. My entire grade in the class is determined by one thing at the end. For two classes this is an essay, for the other two it’s a test. I’m terrified of this, but I’m also really enjoying what I’m studying. Let’s just say it’s been interesting.

5. British people are really nice.

I’m surprised how much I actually love living in a dorm hall again, but the people in my corridor have all proven to be fantastic people. We play hall wide games of Monopoly, do pub quizzes, and just in general, hang out a lot. I really love the feeling of someone just knocking on my door and saying “we’re going out now” and your plans for the night changing from watching Netflix to going to a bar. I’ve made some friends here and it’s going to be hard to leave.

 

Okay, I apologize for the amount of text that was that post, but if you made it through, may I commend you on your perseverance. I’m looking forward to the rest of my time here and hopefully next week I’ll be back with some great stories from Scotland. Until then, cheers and other British words.

 

Castleton, Wollaton Hall, and Why I’m Never Coming Back

DSC_0453The British country side is the stuff dreams are made of. It is gorgeous. It is cute. It is everything you could have and I did hope it would be and then some. Hiking here, in England, has been a dream of mine for awhile and it did not disappoint. So here is a suggestion, If you’re looking for a hike somewhere in the Peak District of England, may I suggest Castleton. The town alone will melt your heart.

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You’ll start your journey walking through the town, past pubs and fish and chips places. You’ll want to stop and get ice cream at that cute little bakery just down the way, but continue on. The footpath will lead you through people’s pastures, past their sheep and their stone walls and little stone farms. You’ll walk past hundreds of sheep just making your way to the hill you will actually be climbing. Mind you, I did the easy hike, so there may be even more sights and heart-wrenching beauties to behold elsewhere within the town, but I’ll have to settle right now for my own. After the sheep and pastures we climbed up our first hill and stopped at the top for lunch, because who wouldn’t want to look at this for hours?

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I’m lucky the University of Nottingham has a hill-walking and rambling club, because that’s where I belong. The group itself is full of really genuine, happy people who just want to see and spend time in nature. Along with my friend Molly there was also a lot of other international students. One from France, one from Germany, many from Asia, and the amazing thing is, they were all incredibly friendly. Go on hikes with people, because so far I’ve learned that people who want to go on hikes are good people to be around. Plus you get to see incredible things. This hike was fantastic and I highly recommend Castleton for anyone looking to be in the English countryside and never want to leave.

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Now, on to Wollaton Hall.

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Wollaton Hall and Deer Park are literally across the street from my University. I can go on runs here. I can go on picnics here. It’s probably closer for me to pack up my things and study here than it would be for me to go to the library. Wollaton, as you may have guessed or already knew, is where Wayne Manor is in the Batman films, so that in itself makes it worth the trip. The inside of the building is also interesting. It’s like a living history museum… with animals and stuff. It’s strange, but worth the trip inside, I mean, it’s free so… why not?

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The grounds are also beautiful. Let’s just say I’ll be spending a lot of time here. And yes, they do acknowledge the relation to Batman, with weird cardboard cut-outs placed among Victorian things

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Okay, sorry this post is long and rambly and has maybe too many pictures. I just don’t know how to write about how much my heart has been amazed by everything I’ve seen. I know if I were to spend forever here I probably wouldn’t be this motivated to see all I can. I know I would end up getting used to the buildings and the green of the countryside. I know I would start to hate the weather. But right now I want to stay. Right now I feel like I don’t have enough time here, that it’s all going to pass by too quickly. So I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing. Making the most of the opportunities I have and trying to make some new friends along the way.

P.S. Freshers week is crazy. Freshers flu is real. 18 year olds are fun, but exhausting.

Nottingham Castle and Uni of

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First off, let me apologize for the overload of pictures that will be this post. I can’t help it. I’ve been in England for less than a week and I’m already falling in love with this place. The campus is gorgeous and huge. Probably five or six times the size I’m used to. The city center is, just amazing. It’s like normal shops and whatnot, but the top half of the building is the most beautiful architecture you have ever seen. Today ends international week and freshers week starts instead. Instead of normal orientation ice breakers, it seems here in Nottingham the preferred choice of activity is a different club every night with a different theme, hosted by the University. So, let’s just hope I survive that. But that’s not what this post is about, so let’s get to it.

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n6Yesterday, a bunch of us went in to the city center and visited Nottingham Castle, which is crazy, that I’m fifteen minutes from a castle. Anyways, the castle itself is gorgeous (obviously, it’s a castle) and holds an amazing view of the city. Inside the castle is actually a museum which primarily focuses on Nottingham itself and how it was affected by WWI as well as the fire at Nottingham Castle and other interesting components of the city. There’s even a room dedicated to Robin Hood. Here was one of my favorite parts of the museum, where everyone in town was able to write how they had been affected by the war and how it had changed the city they lived in.

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n12After the museum we walked around the grounds which are meticulously taken care of. Pretty much, I learned that I want to live in a castle, which is not a surprise. If you’re ever in Nottingham and looking for a location where it’s entirely okay to be a full blown tourist, Nottingham Castle is the place to go. Not only can you gasp at the castle itself, you get a full view of the town where you can comment on how British all the buildings are, you get a trip through an impressive museum that explains the city, and you get to stroll through the grounds. After you do all of this, you can go just down the street to England’s oldest pub, Trip to Jerusalem Inn, formed in 1189 AD, have a local ale and eat a delicious meal. Trust me, by then you’ll be in love with the city too.

So that was Nottingham Castle, now just a quick word on how excited I am to be a student at the University of Nottingham. The grounds, like I said, are beautiful. The University itself is actually a top 75 university to study at and from what I’ve seen, British people are extremely kind and helpful. I’ve added some pictures I’ve taken while walking around, just to show you I’m not just in love with this place for no reason, if you were here, you’d have fallen for it by now too.

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Okay, until next week. Hopefully I’ll have more adventures to post about and will have made some new friends. Also, Joselyn, people were not lying about food in England being bad, so stop making food posts. My mouth is watering just looking at the creamy hazelnut pesto pasta. Or keep making them so I can keep fantasizing about all of the food you are learning to make which is delicious and I cannot eat. Either way, you are making me a meal when I get home.