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English BBQ Time

So for the last two days the weather has been BEAUTIFUL here! It is sunny and about 75 degrees Fahrenheit. I couldn’t ask for nicer weather! Although I was complaining that it was a little hot, after all the 50 degree weather 75 was quite toasty. I definitely don’t know how I am going to survive when I return to the USA at the end of June because it will definitely be much hotter.

Well anyways because the weather was so sunny, gorgeous and just absolutely lovely, my housemate Abbie suggested that we have a barbecue. I thought this sounded like a wonderful plan, except I was a little stumped considering all we have is an oven. So wasn’t sure how this whole outdoors barbecue thing was going to work, until I was informed that they sell disposable barbecues at nearly all of the grocery stores here. So the barbecue was on!

Katie and I went to town while the sun was shining and did a little shopping at some of the stores and it is quite amazing how much more populated the city seems to become when the sun comes out. There were people everywhere and all types, young, old, overdressed, underdressed (we were unfortunate enough to see a plentiful amount of guys with there shirts off that would have looked much better if they had kept it on.) We stopped in Poundland to pick up two disposable BBQs. Only 2 pounds! What a deal! Finally we headed over to Iceland and Aldi’s to buy food for our BBQ where Abbie met us. Iceland is basically a store with two huge aisles of freezer food and one aisle of other food that is all really really cheap, but suprisingly tasty. We bought some burgers there, hot dogs, and chicken skewers, and then Katie and I stocked up on other food since our cupboards were basically empty. Next we moved next door to Aldi to pick up a few last items that we needed for the potato salad and pasta salad and just burger toppings. We were set! It was a little bit of a struggle to lug all our stuff to the bus stop though. We slowly trudged our way over there, my arms felt like they were going to fall off, but finally we were on the bus and on the way back home.

Abbie and Laura

Sophie, Imo, and Francesca

When we got back we made the pasta and potato salad, from SCRATCH! I’m starting to realize that my cooking skills have improved somewhat and I am pretty good an whipping together ingredients and making it taste good! Finally we were ready to hike up the hill behind us to light the BBQ and eat some dinner. It was so nice to just sit with all the girls from the house and eat a meal together, although not everybody was there since some people went home for the week. I was definitely reminded of all my summer cookouts that I’ve had in the past yet it was so different, cause we had these tiny little disposable grills and were all just drinking beer around them.

I also realized how little time left it seems like I have here compared to the amount of time that I’ve already been here. Today is May 23rd and in exactly one month on June 23rd I will board a plane to come back to the USA and the only thing between now and then is 3 exams. No class left, they all finished last week. It’s crazy to think I’ve already been here for almost 5 months. We’ll see how many more completely unplanned adventures occur, the BBQ came about in a period of 6 hours. I have one month left to make more memories, but no matter what happens, I’m beginning to realize just how much I have already experience d and how thankful I am to have had this amazing opportunity.

P.S. Wish you were here!

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Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Dubrovnik, Old Town

So I have gotten quite behind on this whole blogging thing, so I’m jumping past spring break to write about my recent adventure to Dubrovnik. The adventures started when Rachael, a friend from Duquesne who is studying in Ireland, arrived in Brighton on Sunday evening. Monday we spent the day in Brighton shopping, exploring, and just visiting the town. It was a nice break from going to Brighton to examine buildings and go to libraries for research for my art history class.

So on Tuesday, we went to the airport to catch a plane to Dubrovnik. After a nice long plane ride in the extra leg room row…somehow I was one of the last people to check in and they had to give me seat…so for a 3-hour flight I was actually pretty comfortable. Finally we were in Croatia and outside the EU so the stamp in my passport was actually somewhat different looking. We boarded a bus to take us into Dubrovnik. Some of the 40 minute ride was along drop off cliffs into the Adriatic Sea with gorgeous views of rocky hills/mountains and the shimmering blue of the sea. Needless to say, I felt like I was in heaven after coming from the 40-50 degree rainy English weather. 80 degrees, sun shining, I never wanted to leave Croatia.

Well I don’t really feel like putting into words everything about my trip, but I am going to put pictures from the city wall tour I went on, the trips to the Beach, and some photos of the food I ate because I don’t think I can put into words how amazing I thought Dubrovnik was. Although, not sure if the pictures do it justice, but you can decide. Although if you ever have the chance I would definitely recommend Dubrovnik as a place to visit. I loved it.

View just outside City Walls

Doors in the Hill near our Hotel

Banje Beach

Rachael and I on the city wall tour

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Travels to Eastern Europe

So clearly it is taking me awhile to actually write about my adventures. And I’ve decided that I’m not going to necessarily go into detail about each and every place I visited but rather just say a few words or the story that was my favorite about a particular place that I went.

After leaving my parents in Rome, I flew to Slovakia where my Aunt and Uncle picked me up at the airport. I think part of me was expecting it to be completely different after all I was now in the area that used to fall behind the Iron Curtain, but I found that while yes it had it’s differences all in all it was still a similar place with a slightly different culture. In all the Eastern European cities that I visited, Bratislava, Vienna, and

Budapest, I found it interesting how they called the center of the city the Centrum, rather than just the center or downtown. Although, when one really thinks about it a “downtown” seems to be reserved more for newer cities, such as ones in the United States, or smaller ones, because once a city is too long there are too many different areas for one area to be truly considered a downtown.

Anyway, while I was with my Aunt we spent a day just exploring Bratislava, walking all around seeing random churches, a cathedral, and the Castle. We walked by squares with markets and the US embassy that had an immense amount of security. I honestly don’t think I would ever want to actually need something from an Embassy while abroad because I honestly feel like you would never be able to get inside even if you are a US citizen. We even ventured into a store to get some bread to go with our meallater that evening.

The next day we boarded a train to take us to Vienna for the day. Sadly, I forgot my camera at the flat, but luckily my Aunt had her camera, so I will be able to have pictures of this beautiful place. Vienna was a gorgeous city with ornate buildings and a beautiful centrum where pedestrians can just wander without fear of cars. It was a wonderful place but involved so much walking. We went inside one of the churches and was able to go up into the bell tower and see the entire city. It was such an incredible view and different from everything I had done so far. At one point we wandered into the University in Vienna, and just wandered around it was interesting to note the common theme of a courtyard that can be seen in the European Universities that I have visited so far. The buildings were so ornate. But eventually it was time to head back for the day so we caught the train back and just relaxed.

The next day my Aunt and I left for Budapest where we would spend the next 3 days. My Aunt decided that we would drive there so we set out on the road to Budapest. The drive was a bit of an adventure because we hit some road construction but the GPS warned us about it so we took

a detour that had us on winding roads through the middle of nowhere. Eventually we made our way across a bridge and towards the hotel where we were staying. The first thing we did was walk into this HUGE market. And there were peppers EVERYWHERE. And it was so confusing as to whether paprika meant pepper or the paprika like the spice we have in the US, but there was also an enormous variety of strudels and lots of random items like scarves, jewelry, and the hungarian secret boxes.  The market was one of my favorite places in Budapest and it was right near the hotel, needless to say I went back at least two more times before leaving, not even to buy anything just to look around. Budapest is on the Danube River and thus has a large number of bridges that cross the river. After walking across the white bridge to head towards the castle, we came across the entrance to a tunnel and then to the side was an incline going up the hill to the castle. Or you could choose to walk up, which is what we did. But the tunnel, bridges, incline, and river all made me feel as if I was in an older and more historical version of Pittsburgh.So I have to say that was probably one of the reasons Budapest was one of my favorite places that I visited but also just because it was such a cool city, from all the random statues around the city, to the lights on the Danube at night.

It had such a wonderful atmosphere. I definitely recommend a visit to Budapest if you have the chance.

When I got around to leaving Budapest, I went to the airport to take a flight to Berlin. At the airport I ran into what I assume was Hungary’s U18 Men’s Soccer Team, based on there sweatshirts. And I was reminded that even with different cultures boys are the same everywhere.

I lied. This isn’t the rest. But I can only write so much at a time and I do actually need to do schoolwork, this was just my momentary break from the endless stream of Maths sheets that I have to complete. The rest will appear shortly. Hopefully.

 

P.S. wish you were here.

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2 Months Here. 2 Weeks to Break.

Well I’ve been here 2 months now. It is so weird. It doesn’t feel like 2 months at all. In some ways it feels like I’ve always been here, until I get reminders to schedule for next semester from Duquesne or emails about housing. But otherwise when surrounded by housemates signing leases for houses to live in next year it just feels weird to not be signing one myself. Of course in other ways, I feel like I just got here. I still here new words and am like what is that? But I also have the Gasp moments when I hear myself using them. Earlier today I was walking past the trash cans and there was trash piled up outside them as well as inside them and I turned to Abbie(one of my housemates) and said “They should just get another bin.” And then when watching movies where the people drive on the right side of the road, I realize just how used to the cars being on the left side I have gotten.

Well anyway more exciting than the fact that I’ve been here two months is the fact that I have a break in 2 weeks! University of Sussex is set up with a spring and summer term where most of the classes in the Spring term continue on into the summer term as well, which is the case for all 4 of my classes. However, between the spring and summer term there is a 4 week break. Why it is four weeks? I have no idea, but I am not complaining because I am doing the majority of my European travel adventures during this span of time.

Although I do have to get through the next two weeks of class first. It will be interesting because I have my first paper due in one class and my first test in another. The educational system is very different here from America. Where in the U.S., I would have many small assignments whether it be homework or quizzes that would be graded and count towards my final grade. Here there may be small assignments but all of them are not assessed in fact the majority of the final grade is from the final exam for three of my classes spanning a percentage of 60-90% of my final grade all from one test! The class that does not have a final exam has two papers one 40% and the other 60% of my grade. Only two papers! That is so completely different from the United States. I could see having had only two papers and then a multitude of small assignments but not just two papers or two tests for that matter. My two math classes that do have smaller homework assignments due every week that could only really be considered small in the percentage weight to the final grade but in reality take anywhere from 2-15 hours each only count towards about 0.5% towards the final grade for each assignment and I have 15 for each class.

So two weeks of class, 4 Maths assignments, 1 paper, and 2 tests stand between me and break. And boy am I looking forward to break, not even cause I really want to be gone from here for a month cause I don’t really, it’s great being here but because for the first week I get to be with my parents again! We’ll explore Brighton some, then London, and they just couldn’t resist the lure of Rome! After that, sadly my parents are returning home but my travels will have just begun as I venture on to Bratislava to see my Aunt Nina and travel around with her for a little in Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest. Then I move onwards to Berlin, then Geneva, then a medley of places near the Germany-France border and finally Paris. It will be a whirlwind month, considering just the other weekend I felt completely exhausted after sightseeing for only 3 days. But I will find the energy and will hopefully get to relax for a little here and there. But it will be an amazing experience I am sure. And it’s only 2 weeks away!!

P.S. Wish You Were Here.

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Home away from Home

Park Village 30. It is quite the interesting place. No kitchen table, no lounge. Just two kitchens, 3 floors, 12 bedrooms, and 12 girls. Quite the experience really from eating on the floor in the hallway, to random chocolate cake baking sessions, and the massive amount of homemade guacamole. Slowly but surely it’s become another home. It was a strange feeling the first time that I caught myself thinking ‘well now I just want to go home and relax in my room.’ A place to call home in England, never thought that would happen.

Park Village is definitely not the fanciest accommodation on campus. It is not brand new, like Swanborough or Northfield with their heated towel racks. The alarm makes random beeping noises and nobody bothers to fix it. There is no kitchen table, so we eat on the floor. Seriously, we gather our plates and occasionally all just sit on the floor and eat together.  The kitchen isn’t fancy or new and it is actually a lot smaller. There is no dishwasher…we try really hard to keep the dishes clean but that’s a daily battle. 6 girls per kitchen and we all seem to use a massive amount of dishes. But all these bad things are actually some of the parts of Park Village that make it a home. I honestly can’t imagine having a shiny sparkling kitchen although sometimes the mess is a bit much and I actually clean a lot of dishes (Yes, mom, I do actually wash dishes here!). All of these things are just a small part of what makes Park Village home.

That and the massive amounts of decorations that are now up in my room. Posters, postcards, photos, notes, and quotes. There just seems to be a little bit of everything on my walls. I might even venture to say that my room here is more decorated then my room at Duquesne was and definitely more decorated than my one at home.

The weirdest part about living in Park Village besides now having to cook for myself is not having a roommate. It definitely took awhile to adjust to that. Strange as it may be since I don’t have a roommate when I’m in Indy, but I guess I’ve programmed my brain to be like school=roommate, home=none. So now that I’m at school without a roommate it is quite strange. Although, I’m starting to appreciate being able to stay up as late as I want or go to bed as early as I want without worrying about when my roommate wants to sleep.

Well that’s where I live. Yes it’s a little bit of a mess. It seems to be a constant battle between cleanliness and messiness. And most of the time cleanliness wins except for those occasional days when life gives me more exciting activities to do.

P.S. Wish you were here.

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