Returning Home

It is so crazy to think that my program is over, four weeks flew by. Thankfully my time in London is not over because as everyone leaves on Monday my mom and cousin will be arriving. I get to play tour guide for four days and then we are off to Italy, so I get to extend my trip for a while.

London turned out to be a lot like what I expected: busy, fast, fashion forward and the list goes on. Hampstead (where I’m staying) turned out to be better than I was expecting. Coming in I didn’t really know what to expect of Hampstead, or even how far away it was from London, but it turned out to be perfect. Hampstead is just far enough away from central London that I can take the tube and be there within 20 minutes, but it is far enough away that I feel removed from the city. Hampstead is much quieter and calmer, something I appreciate. The town is just very cute and quaint so I have honestly enjoyed my time more in Hampstead and getting familiar with that area, than being down in central London. Central London is just too busy for me. I enjoy it during the week day, but the weekends are packed! It’s great to experience for the day and see the sights, but I loved being able to come back to the calm of Hampstead at night.

I feel that this program length was the perfect amount of time. I was here long enough to see the big sites and get familiar with the city (I was able to give people directions even!), but I am definitely ready to return home. I am excited to see my family again, and since these were my last two undergrad classes I am excited to begin my next adventure in life-finding a job! Studying abroad has been amazing, and doing it as my last two classes made it even better. I’ve met some great people who I hope turn out to be lifetime friends and I’ve discovered places I want to come back to and see more of (Scotland!). I have been lucky to have had such a positive experience and I know I will treasure these memories and experiences for a lifetime.

I’m posting a few of my favorite photos from my trip:

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Last, but certainly not least, is getting Daniel Radcliffe’s autograph with my friend Molly

Homeward Bound

Tomorrow I play violin at a concert here in Vienna and the next morning I get on a plane headed back home! I think for the most part my experience has been close to what I expected it to be, though I did not expect so many things to be done differently here. I have never really traveled before so I didn’t have a good idea of what to expect. I also have to say that I had a harder time adjusting to life abroad than I thought I would and I don’t think I ever fully became comfortable with life here.

I have really enjoyed my time in Vienna but I am very excited to be back home. I am really going to miss the incredible architecture and the great pastries! I am looking forward to knowing where I am and not having a language barrier to deal with all the time. I am so very excited to see my boyfriend, my horse, and my family.

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Last Day In the UK

Back to the states I go, I don’t feel ready to leave. I feel like I still have so much more to learn about this big city. The history behind every building, location, and the people here is absolutely grand. I had pictured getting myself lost in London, and yes I sure did but I was able to familiarize myself more and more as the days went on. Seeming as I walked everywhere I went for the majority of the trip. I made sure to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral that was located in St. Paul London once more before departing, as it was one of my favorite views to see.

St. Pauls Cathedral

St. Pauls Cathedral

St. Pauls and all its beauty

St. Pauls and all its beauty

St. Paul London

St. Paul London

One thing I really was able to take in well was the culture and the foods that came with it. For breakfast most morning I had the typical English breakfast. It consisted of grilled tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms in butter and garlic, English sausage, croissants with different flavored jelly’s, hash browns, cooked ham, and eggs. Not only and English breakfast but I was delighted to see all the other cultures around in London. I went to a Turkish restaurant and the food was to die for.

Turkish Food

Turkish Food

One thing I did today on my last day was walk around Picadilli Circus which is a central area in London. I just wanted to take it all in for one last time.

Picadilli Circus: Londons Major Area

Picadilli Circus: Londons Major Area

Returning home is a bittersweet feeling. I met so many wonderful people on this trip that I came to be really close with. I was really beginning to adjust and know where I was going. I am not ready to leave. The city is big, and although I expected to feel very small, I actually felt bigger than ever. I found to have more confidence in myself as time went on, learning how to use the tube, and meeting people. I’m sad that this journey was so short. If I could do it over again, I would come back for a whole term or longer. My roommate and I got really close if there is anyone I’m really going to miss, it’s her.

The Roommate for two weeks

The Roommate for two weeks

Farewell Costa Rica

I have been here in Costa Rica since the beginning of September and have spent the last 2 weeks out of classes and with my family traveling around Costa Rica. It has been a great 4 months and I have met wonderful people, done some really cool stuff, seen so many places, and learned so much. Saying goodbye to such great people was very hard. I will miss people for sure. Despite such a wonderful experience, I am very ready to go home as well… I will, however, freeze. So excited to see friends at home, places that are so familiar, and have good food that does not include rice and beans. My flight home is tommorow and I am happy and nervous all at the same time. When I get back I have to worry about making sure everything is in line to start nursing school. I also have no idea what to expect starting up at a new school, let alone such a strenuous program. Wish me luck!          Koryn

 

Manuel Antonio National Park

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Getting Ready to Leave

I said a couple posts ago that I had had some trouble socializing in the hall I lived in. I think my living situation was a bit different than what I was expecting; I wasn’t sure whether I would be living alone or with someone else, but I figured it would be easy to integrate myself with the people around me. But for whatever reason, I just didn’t click with the people in my hall, maybe because I had already made friends with people in another building. I also had a room to myself; apparently this is pretty normal in English universities. I value my personal space and never thought I’d begrudge having my own room, but in a different country where I don’t know anyone, I would have appreciated a roommate.

Once I realized that most of my friends lived in Eleanor Rathbone, most days I’d pack a bag and walk two buildings down to hang out in the ER common room. I became good friends with many of the people who lived there, and by the end of the term I was deemed an honorary Rathboner. Yes, that’s the correct term.

Group picture after the ER Christmas dinner

I had expected to be meeting more English people, but when I got here, it seemed that I was mostly spending time with Americans. This frustrated me at first, and I’ve talked to other American students who felt the same way. We felt like we weren’t getting the fullest possible experience if we we were still spending time with Americans. Eventually, I think everyone (or at least most of us) realized that meeting students from other places in the U.S. was just as valuable, if not more so, than meeting students from England. I was able to learn about English culture from English students while forming close relationships with American students.

ER’s last night out, three days before I left

I’m really happy to have made so many friends, but it’ll be hard to leave. I’m not looking forward to saying goodbye. It’ll be strange to suddenly be back in America again, having a car and a house and maybe a job.

This experience has, in some ways, made the world seem very small to me. Before crossing the ocean, the world seemed impossibly enormous. There were so many places I had never seen, places that might not exist for all I knew. But now that I’ve crossed so much of that distance and landed right in the middle of the unknown, it doesn’t seem quite as unknown anymore. It’s a little sad, but I suppose the world seems more plausible now. It would be easier to travel again, but I’m not sure I want to. For now, I’d like to stay in Oregon.

Marissa

All Good Things Come to an End

An overview of Barcelona

Post for Aug. 1, 2012

I know I’m blessed. I know I’m privileged. I’m thankful for what I have and the life I’ve lived. This whole trip has been like heaven on earth to me. I am at awe with the world and the small bits of it that I have seen. I only spent four days in Rome and I loved every minute of it, and having this one last day to be back in Barcelona puts a nice end to my trip. I plan to make a short post separate from this one to display some of my pictures from Rome. I spent most of the day today resting and getting my stuff ready and packed to return back to Oregon. Earlier though (in the evening) I went to go see the top of Mt. Tibidabo because I had heard so much about it and had not had the opportunity to see it until today. Once I got to the top I took a minute to soak in the beauty of the view it had. You could see all of Barcelona from the top of Tibidabo.

For some reason listening to all the children’s cheers and laughter made me kind of sad.

At the top of Tibidabo is a small amusement park that is over 100 years old! It was fun to walk around it and see all the kids and their families having a good time together. It kind of made me miss home and my childhood a little bit though. For such an old amusement park it still felt quite alive and functional, though kind of expensive in my opinion.

I’m glad my final memory of Barcelona is going to be of Mt. Tibidabo.

I walked around taking pictures by myself and I liked just having some time alone even though I was surrounded by so many strangers. While I was walking it started getting very windy and the wind brought a cloud onto the mountain. It was a cool thing to see because it was just a thick fog you could see moving up and through the mountain.

I almost got to go to the very top and touch Jesus’ feet but they were closing. Maybe some day I’ll get to come back and walk to the top.

One of my goals for the night was to “touch Jesus’ feet” at the top of the church which as at the ultimately highest point of all of Barcelona. Unfortunately they had just closed off the gate a half hour before I got there and they didn’t let me walk up to the top. I was a little disappointed, but not entirely because I thought of it as something I had left to do in hopes of returning some day.

I hope this doesn’t turn out to be just a dream. Because it definitely feels like one.
See you later! (Hopefully soon.)

Now I’m about to get a bit of sleep because I will be waking up at 2:30am to leave for the airport. I will definitely miss Barcelona. It now has a special place in my heart and I look forward to returning again some day. I am sure I will be reminiscing about this trip for years to come.

Hasta la vista!

Jose

My Final Day (sort of)

The entrance to the building where I took my classes.

Post for July 26, 2012

I can’t believe tomorrow will be my last day with everyone whom I’ve met at BIC. I say tomorrow is “sort of” my last day here because I won’t actually be returning home yet since I’m going to Rome for four days then coming back to Barcelona for a day and finally returning home. Tonight was probably the last time I will see most of the people in my program because most of their flights are quite early in the morning but at least I’ll see a couple and we just had an amazing end to our trip together, but I’ll get to that soon. It’s been such a looong day! I finished my final exams without dying though. I think I did well on both of them too, so that’s a huge relief. After school I made plans to to go visit Barcelona’s 1992 Olympic park since today was the 20th anniversary of it’s inauguration. I am so glad I got the opportunity to finally visit it on such a special and relevant day, especially since the Summer Olympics in London begin tomorrow.

One last look towards Plaza España

On my way to the Olympic park I took the opportunity to take some last pictures of several of the places I had already visited. I felt comfortable doing this since I was by myself and taking the time wasn’t going to annoy anyone else.

My last visit to Palau de Montjuic
Barcelona’s 1992 Olympic Stadium from the side
The 1992 Olympic Track and Field

Being so close to this track and field was kind of special to me because I used to compete in track and field in middle school and high school and I had quite a competitive spirit. Seeing this track made me miss our competitions and my races but it also made me think of how this place must have been such a large contributor to sports history made during my lifetime 20 years ago. Even just six months ago I would have never guessed that I would find myself standing there soaking in the feeling of inspiration and realization at the same time.

The Stadium Entrance

As I walked around the park I had some quiet time to myself in which I could reflect on my experience here so far and I felt quite happy deep inside. I have this feeling of fulfillment and I think it’s because I finally realized one of my dreams since I was very young. I had always said that some day I would travel far far away and see new and exciting things and I finally have. And I think I’ve become addicted to it. I want to see more of the world. I want to go to Asia, Africa, Northern Europe, Latin America, Australia, India, I want to go everywhere!! I’m getting carried away but it’s true. I love this trip and now I’m going to visit ROME! It’s still hard for me to believe that this is actually happening. I feel like I’m going to wake up at home a week from now and think this was all just a wonderful dream.

Our group pictures

In the evening everyone from our program had one last dinner together at a restaurant in which we ate, talked, danced, laughed and took pictures together. We also got the chance to say our last goodbyes to our program directors who were great at what they did.

My program directors and I

I really enjoyed learning from our program directors because they were fun and kind guides during excursions or whenever we had questions at school.

Finally we get inside the W Hotel and get to see it’s luxuries at no cost!

After our last dinner together several of us went to visit the W hotel because we didn’t want to leave Barcelona without ever seeing the bar on it’s 26th floor. I  was told it had an excellent night view of the city and they were right. This place was very fancy, but the best part of it all was that we never had to spend a dime in it because we just walked in and around it. We had to be dressed nicely of course but it was worth the visit.

Night view of Barcelona’s docks.

Even the bathrooms had nice views of the city.

My last night in Barcelona

As our last bonding moment, several of us walked along the beach just goofing around and taking pictures. It made me wish we had a few more days here together without the worry of having to go to school because these last hours were among my favorite during my entire trip so far.

I will miss you!

Tomorrow I will be leaving to Rome, but I will return on August 1st and I will be staying at my homestay for one more night since my host mom has very generously offered to let me stay here instead of renting a room in a hostel. I’m so glad she’s letting do that too because I much rather come back to a familiar place for my last night here.

Jose

Pip Pip, Cheerio!

     This last week has been such a scramble with packing and finals that I decided to do my own thing this weekend. I also wanted to finish my list of things I must do while abroad as well as go back to my favorite spots in the city and, to my amazement, I mostly achieved these goals within three days!
Go Inside of a Phone Box
- This was one of the less enjoyable things on my list, it turns out. I didn’t actually have a call to make, I just wanted to be able to say that I’ve done it. I was on a crowded street in Hampstead when I decided to check this on one off my list. I pretended I needed to make a call, spent a couple seconds inside the phone box feigning searching for change, then exited while a couple people watched my horrible acting. Unfortunately I was not transported through time. Oh, well.
Find the Doctor
- I found him! Well, one of the Doctors. We attended Antigone at the National Theater and Christopher Eccleston (the ninth incarnation of the Doctor) was starring in it. While eating dinner at the theater we ran into someone else we were not expecting to meet; Mark Gatiss, a writer for Doctor Who and Sherlock, and Mycroft Holmes in Sherlock. Two of my favorite people in one night? I’m still giddy from the experience. They were both very nice blokes and stopped to take pictures. Chris signed my artwork and even held my sonic screwdriver!
Have a Pint of Guinness in Dublin
-It was a long and confusing journey to Dublin, but in the end I wish I’d stayed much longer than a weekend. Ireland is amazing and the people are the kindest I’ve ever met. I had a pint in The Celt Pub near O’Connell Street and met a long lost relative who was eight or nine Guinness for the worse. I’ll forever be telling the story of Uncle Quinn; the poster-boy for Irish drunks.

Erin go Bragh!

Eat a Jaffa Cake
- I mentioned this in a previous post, but it’s worth saying that I ate three packs of 36 Jaffa Cakes. I lost weight in London, guys. That’s how much walking I did. The snack was the one thing I wish I’d had the foresight to send to the US. Darn, I may just have to return to London to get some.

My usual booty from Tesco

The only thing on my list that I wasn’t able to achieve was taking my photo on Abbey Road. I do regret that terribly, but I got so much done by the end that it seems like a small price to pay. We did drive over it on the bus tour, though, so at least I visited and payed my respects. I’m sure John Lennon’s spirit is off somewhere laughing at how much traffic is stopped by that crossing.
Last Friday we attended The Taming of the Shrew at The Globe. We were able to get in for only 5L, too! We were in the yard, so it was standing room and the play was at midnight. By the time we arrived I was already exhausted, but as soon as the play started, I was transfixed on the stage. Immediately I fell in love. I’ve loved this play for a while, but much of the comedy and heart is lost when the play is read rather than experienced. I was also thrilled I was part of the play at one point when the actress who played Kate fell on me and said sorry drunkenly on her way to the stage. The chocolate coin I caught during the finale will have to survive the trip home.
The main place I wanted to explore more was Hyde Park. For those of you that don’t know, Hyde Park is freaking huge. I had forgotten this when I set out on my adventure armed with a pack of water, a box of granola bars, and my sketchbook. This is one of those happy accidents I was talking about earlier. I started at Speakers Corner where a concert for the Olympics was taking place. I’m not usually one for concerts, but it was kind of nice to have music playing from afar. I wanted to find the Peter Pan Statue, but I had started quite far away from it. I walked for about twenty minutes before I took a break to eat something. I lay down under an oak and had a wonderful, relaxing time. I set out again and walked by the Italian Fountains, which I didn’t know existed. They were so gorgeous that I stopped to sketch some of them. While I was there, I met two kids who were busy scaring pigeons. They were from Virginia and had never heard of Oregon. I told them a little bit about myself and they watched me draw for a bit. The little girl (Sophie) asked if I would be her friend. I told her yes, and she was so excited that she ran off to tell her mum! Her mother came over and also watched me draw. Then, when they had to leave, I got a big hug!

A perfect day

Eventually I found the statue. It is situated beside part of the Serpentine that is chock-full of birds. I started to feed the pigeons some of my granola when ducks and coots started to eat it, too. Then a heron appeared along with a mama duck and her babies and a swan. As time passed, other tourists appeared beside me to watch. A group of Italians were marveling at the ducklings and the swan, but obviously they had never heard a swan call before because they jumped when he did and started proclaiming in Italian. I finished the day by walking past the Prince Albert Memorial and meeting several very sweet bobbies in a Starbucks near the tube station. I can’t think of a better way to spend my last week.

My duckling friends

     Tomorrow I will be leaving on an eight hour flight to Philadelphia, then a five hour flight to Portland with a heavy heart, but a happy one.  Becky

La Basilica

The Basilica of “La Negrita”

This is my last weekend here in Costa Rica and I decided to take advantage of the last Saturday with a group of girlfriends. We went to visit Cartago in the morning. Cartago has a famous basilica that is the home to La Virgen de Los Angeles (Virgin of the Angels) or “La Negrita” (Little Black Girl), Costa Rica’s version of La Virgen de Guadalupe from Mexico. The Basilica was built around a little black statue of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus where she was said to be found by a young mulatta (A person of African and European descent) centuries ago.

The Basilica was the most fantastic church I’d ever seen with many ornate details. Depictions of Saints, the crucifixion, and the Virgin were in every stained glass window.  There were several altars to pray at where elegantly dressed statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary looked down on the faithful.  People crawled from the front entrance of the church to the altar at the back to pray.

On the lower level of the church in the basement is where the statue of La Negrita is. It is very short stout statue, black and round, and placed on a rock. Also in the basement were dozens of metal charms and objects sent to the church. These charms, amulets, and objects represent things that people wish to be improved in their lives but could not make it to the Basilica in person to be blessed. There are hundreds of small charms of body parts, and small objects in the form of houses, cars, and airplanes. Personal items include work hats, medals, toys, and jewelry.

Even further down below the church is a stream where people can touch and collect the holy water. The holy water is said to be able to cure ailments. I put some on my forehead and stomach, and Megan collected a bottle of it so we could share it with our family and friends back home.

Overall, it was one of the most enlightening and culturally relevant experiences I have had in Costa Rica. I felt very appreciative to see and experience one of the most important places in Costa Rica and Central America.[slideshow]

Kelsey