Wrapping up

I love the UK, but sometimes ya girl just really needs some warm sunshine feelings. The perfect opportunity to get some UV rays came up during reading week at Uni. Final exams here at Aberystwyth extend over a month period, starting May 11th until the 31st. Lectures end with the end of April and so the first week of May before exams is dedicated to “reading” and revisions for the exams. It is basically dead week at Purdue minus all the classes. Like I have said, the UK does a lot of independent learning. While all my classmates were slaving away over their texts (probably not actually), my friends and I were off to Gibraltar, Spain, and Morocco! We left Aber on Wednesday night by train to get to the airport for our flight leaving early Thursday morning. I got to pull my second night ever sleeping in the airport and it was still as uncomfortable as the first time. Even though sleeping in the airport isn’t ideal, it certainly makes me feel like a true backpacker. Not to mention, I managed to pack for a whole week in only a backpack! The over packer in me was proud. Once we landed and we got through customs in Gibraltar, we had to find our hotel. The hotel we booked was actually across the boarder in La Linea, Spain. The boarder was rather lenient both ways with just a simple flash of the passport to cross. Once we got into our rooms and settled in, we headed out to explore Gibraltar. Gibraltar is known for their “Rock of Gibraltar.” This is what we spent most our day exploring. We rode a cable car up to the top and worked our way by foot back down into town. At the top of the rock, there are not only gorgeous views of the city and the sea, but there are also wild monkeys. I think I read that they are the only wild monkey population left in Europe…maybe. The monkeys are free to roam and interact with the guests as they please. It is clear to see that some want nothing to do with people and I even watched some give warning facial expressions to tourists (including myself). Other monkeys are happy to grab at you and even climb on your head. We got lucky and had one befriend us. He climbed up on my friend Perry’s back and was pulling his hair and being super adorable. Other than the monkeys, there is a castle that is less than impressive after all the other castles I have visited on my travels, St. Michael’s Caves, and some other small remnants from more historical times. By the time we got down the rock and into city center, all of our legs were trembling with exhaustion and so we rushed to find somewhere to sit and have dinner. The next morning, and the next 3 days, my legs were beyond sore. Gibraltar not only has the Rock, but there are gorgeous beaches around the small UK territory. Unfortunately we only had a day and half there before we were off for Morocco so we never got to lay out on the beaches there. We spent the rest of our second day in Gibraltar shopping and exploring city center, which was having a big concert during the day so it was filled with life and people. Then we were off to Morocco!! To get to Morocco was exhausting, but completely worth it. First we had to take our bus to the ferry port, then we took the ferry across the Straight of Gibraltar, had to drive to customs/boarder control, and finally all the way to our hotel in Tangier. By the time we got in, we dropped off our bags in our rooms and went straight to dinner then basically straight to bed. Then Saturday morning we began our African weekend! The cities we toured around were a bit of Tangier, Chefchaouen, and Tetouan. All of them were unique and gorgeous in their own ways, but there are still plenty of cities in Morocco I haven’t reached yet and so I already know I will be returning for more.

He peed on Perry.
He peed on Perry.
View from the top
View from the top

In Tangier we stopped at a lighthouse that marks the division between the Sea and the Ocean. While looking out at the water was lovely, the highlight of this stop was that I pet a fuzzy baby donkey! Next we walked down onto the beach and got to ride Camels down the beach. The camel ride was basically a hope on walk in a giant circle and come back sort of path, but it’s still cool to say I have ridden a camel on the beaches of Africa!

My little ass
My little ass
The light house
The light house
About to take my Camel ride
About to take my Camel ride

IMG_9692 IMG_9647Chefchaouen was my favorite of the cities we saw in Morocco. It is also commonly known by its nickname of “The Blue and White City.” The second you enter the city, it is clear to see where the nickname came from. Everything from the doors, building walls, and some street floors are painted in bright shades of blue. Between the bright blues everywhere and the incredible architecture, it almost felt like walking through a wonderland. The first thing we did here was have lunch. Lunch was served community style, and was traditional African food. For the main course, they set a huge bowl with sauce and bone-in chicken on our table and we all could help ourselves. Following lunch, we met up with our tour guide to show us around the streets. He was a little old man who claims to be the most popular man in Chefchaouen. He said has a show on Lonely Planet and that he is friends with Obama (aka he “liked” Obama’s facebook page). While he was not the best tour guide in the sense of learning the history of the city and moving at a decent pace, he was hilarious to spend some time wandering around with. To end the tour, he dropped us off in a shop where they hand weave scarves, blankets, and rugs using a loom. We got to watch the process some and they see samples of blankets and scarves with their intricate designs. The rugs and blankets were stunning, and if bag weight on the flights wasn’t a problem I am sure I would’ve come home with one. The rest of out time in Chefchaouen was spent exploring the medina and shopping. A lot of the shops seemed to carry pottery, which had been made in Morocco. The pottery was painted to perfection in bright colors and patterns, and again if weight wasn’t an issue I might have been tempted to come home with a complete china set. Maybe when I become a grown up and have use for that stuff more I will return for my pottery. Before we left the city, I was tricked into getting a henna tattoo. I was simply considering the idea of one and browsing the booklet of designs when a lady grabbed my friend and me and basically threw us into seats and started painting on us. At first I was unsure about getting henna, but once it was finished I was in love. It’s amazing how they can just free hand a beautiful design up someone’s arm. I’m not going to lie when I say it made me feel pretty cool to have. Following getting my henna tattoo, I noticed that men were behaving differently towards me and that I was getting a significant increase in attention. It started as guys just staring at me/my hand, then I would get comments such as “do you want a husband?” or “happy husband, happy marriage!” I was completely confused, but also amused (sorry I love attention). The only time it got creepy was when a man literally followed me between 3 shops and as he gave up the fight and walked away, he waved to me. No thanks!! It turns out that henna is used mainly for women who are getting married and so there is a good chance all the men who made comments were actually making fun of me as a tourist, but that’s ok! Other fun tourist comments we have received include “Hey Hannah Montana” and “Tom Brady.”

Tour guide
Tour guide
My henna
My henna

When we left Chefchaouen we took our bus to our final city, Tetouan. When we arrived it was close to 10pm and we were headed to dinner. It is completely normal for people in Morocco to have their meals this late at night, but my stomach was protesting it the entire time up until the meal. We ate in a type of Palace where we again we served a 5 course, community style meal of traditional African food. The palace’s inside was gorgeous and as we ate, dancers and musicians filled the place putting on a show for us. At the end of our meal, we were all able to get up and dance around with the performers! When we finished eating, we checked into our hotel rooms and were off to bed. My hotel room here had a huge balcony overlooking the sea, so I was lucky enough to see the sunrise when I woke up. After breakfast we were off on a walking tour of the city and to hit up the markets. While I never felt too completely unsafe while I was in Morocco, our tour was escorted by at least three “body guards” with walkie-talkies to make sure everyone was safe and accounted for. I really loved having them around because I felt like I could let my guard down some and enjoy the city a bit more. Tetouan had the same beautiful architecture as the other cities, but was painted in a lot of shades of purple and green. As we walked around we explored the shops where people were selling their home-farmed crops or baking breads. Leather is also a big product sold here, and there were plenty of purses and belts being throw in our face to haggle a price on. Everything excluding food in Morocco does not have a set price, so it was interesting trying to barter with the shop owners to get souvenirs for as cheap as possible.

IMG_9829
Sunrise on Balcony
IMG_9779
Palace Dinner

IMG_9896 IMG_9859 IMG_9849 IMG_9871 I wish I had the words to describe the architecture, culture, and people that I saw and experienced. Hopefully my blog gives some sort of insight to Morocco and my experiences in Africa. It’s so surreal to be able to say I am only 21 and have been to Africa! I only brushed the tip of the country, and I am hoping to make it back one day in the future to see even more including Marrakesh, Casablanca and more. Sevilla/Barcelona: When we got back into Spain from Morocco, we headed by bus off to Sevilla. We spent Sunday evening and all of Monday in the city, but I wish we could’ve had longer. Sevilla is in Southern Spain, and there is a common joke that the further South you go in Spain, the lazier the people get. It was pretty clear to see this as part of the culture immediately, even though we only had one full day there. Monday we woke up bright and early to get breakfast and to make the most of our day, but the streets were rather dead and quiet until almost noon when people seemed to finally be starting their days. Another thing that we got to experience was siesta. Shops and restaurants either closed or slowed business for a couple hours in the evening. We met up for tapas Monday night with one of Perry’s friends studying there, and she told us how her house dad would come home from work, take a nap, and then go back to work after siesta. It’s such an interesting concept, but I wouldn’t mind if the States ever adopted it. We also got a bit of rain showers on Monday afternoon/evening and a lot of stores and restaurants just closed for the remainder of the day due to rain, which Perry’s friend said was also very common.

Plaza de Espana
Plaza de Espana
Sevilla
Sevilla

Our Monday, besides meeting up for tapas, was spent exploring as much of the city as we could. First, like I mentioned, we stopped for breakfast at a small café before most of the city was even awake yet. Our waitress didn’t speak any English, and while a couple of us took Spanish in high school, we were all pretty rusty. I was somewhat embarrassed of myself because I barely have anything to show for years of Spanish and IB level exams. So, basically through incredibly rough communication with our waitress, we all ended up with coffee and cured ham on baguette sandwiches for breakfast. Not exactly what we had in mind for breakfast, so after we ate our unexpected meal, we headed to Dunkin Donuts for a more familiar vibe and to fulfill the rest of our hunger. After breakfast, we were off for our free walking tour of the city. Over our travels, we have come to love the free walking tours as a way to learn some history of the city as well as a sense of direction for when we are going around on our own. On the tour we walked through the Plaza of Espana, which was absolutely gorgeous and definitely the heart of the city. Following the tour we explored the Palace. Again, stunning and authentic Spanish architecture everywhere you turned. My favorite thing about the palace was that there were so many gardens to explore and walk through, complete with a peacock wandering around. Our day was pretty relaxing, but it was wonderful to spend some time in Sevilla. I think it would be a perfect city to study abroad in for learning the Spanish language better, which I clearly need. After realizing both how poorly my Spanish is and how much knowing the language could help me help more animals in the future, I am beginning to consider a maymester or summer term in Spain in the following year or so.

Row Boating
Row Boating
Park Guell
Park Guell
Arc
Arc

Tuesday morning we headed off to the airport and were on our way to Barcelona. Our hostel in Barcelona was awesome. It really focused on making the hostel feel like a community and getting everyone to know each other! Our first day there we set off to explore some of the parks in the area. We wandered Parc de Ciutadella, which seemed like it would be the perfect place to relax or have a picnic. We also rented a rowboat in the park while there. The second day I went to Park Guell to see all the mosaics. It was beautiful and also mind-blowing to wonder how long it was to make so much just in mosaics. Following the park, we went down to the beach to tan some. It felt so nice to lie in the warm sun. I also saw in the Mediterranean Sea, which was considerably warmer than the Irish Sea here in Wales. As I had said before, the hostel was big on having a community feel. The first night there we played drinking games in the lobby with free sangria. We got to know a lot of the people staying in and working at the hostel. Following the game, we went on a pub-crawl as a group. The coolest place we went was a shot bar. They had about 400 shot names written up on the wall and you just had to pick one and hope it tasted good. Some of them they lit on fire or would put into a syringe in your mouth. We took one as a group called the “Boy Scout” where they gave you a marshmallow on a stick and lit the bar on fire. You had to roast your marshmallow and then eat it and take your shot. The second night in the hostel we went out with all our fellow backpackers again. This time we went to a nightclub on the beach. It was hands down the coolest place I have ever been. It had an indoor part, a section that was inside, but with no roof, and then you could walk right outside and be on the beach. We danced the night away making all sorts of friends with both our hostel-mates and other people at the club. Whenever we got too hot, we just ran out to the Sea and played on the beach. I wish I could go to beach clubs all the time, but Barcelona will definitely be missed. Our week seemed to fly by and on Thursday morning we grabbed breakfast and were on our way to the airport and back to Wales. May Ball and Exams: The Friday night when we got back from our travels was May Ball on campus. This is basically the combination of prom or a sorority formal, with a casino, with a concert, with carnival rides. It was definitely talked up a lot, but I still had a good time going! We basically danced to the DJs the whole night, but I did manage to ride one of the carnival rides before I left! Exams started on Monday. I had one the 11th, the 21st and two more on the 26th and 28th of May. It’s hard to go from traveling and fun and games all semester (aside from a few papers) to studying for exams. When the professors said we should be revising and reading all semester, they weren’t kidding. Exams here are basically 2 hours long, you are given a list of 4 or 5 essay questions and you have to answer 2 of them. They also expect you to reference sources by author and date in your papers. By the end of my first one my hand was trembling with exhaustion. Memorizing sources is a new thing for me, but hopefully my exams are going well and I come out with high marks! 11201626_10206461378275595_5806324929429689916_n Bath and Stonehenge: Since I had about 10 days in between my first two exams, I was able to take a trip to Bath, England. My friend Becca’s aunt and grandma were visiting Bath and let us come to visit them. We were lucky enough to have them let us stay with them in their hotel. It was a quick two-day visit, but it was a lovely last trip before I return home. Seeing Stonehenge has been on my bucket list for forever. I know it sounds super lame to see a bunch of stacked rocks, but I find it completely fascinating to wonder how they heck they made it so many years ago. The first day there we took a bus tour where we went up to Stonehenge and my rock dreams came true! We also saw Avebury Circle, which I had never heard of before but was equally enthralling. These people dug a mile long trench and built a mound around it using their hands and bones!! Then they lined the inside with huge rocks and stones for some sort of ritual grounds. If this doesn’t blow your mind I don’t know what possibly could. It must be the coolest thing in the world to be an archeologist and find/study these ancient monuments. Imagine digging up a body from centuries ago along with his utensils and then trying to figure out his way of life!! SO COOL! If I didn’t want to be a vet, I would probably want to study archeology at some point in my life. After seeing the rocks, we went to a couple small villages around the area. Two of them were Lacock and Castle Combe. In Lacock, scenes from Harry Potter were filmed and Lilly Potter’s house in located here. In Castle Combe, while there aren’t any castles, there was a beautiful manor and War Horse was filmed here. If you haven’t seen War Horse, you definitely should ASAP!!! That night when we returned to Bath, we took a walking tour called Bizarre Bath. It is listed as something to not miss while in Bath. It is a comedy show and magic show combined as you casually stroll through the city. I laughed harder than I have in awhile and completely agree that it is a must see in the city!

Stonehenge
Stonehenge

IMG_0980 The second day in Bath, we toured the Roman Baths! We were given audio guides and spent at least two hours listening to explanations and history lessons about the Baths and what has been discovered there. At the end of the self-tour, we popped up in the Pump Room. There, you can drink a glass of the water from the baths. I was hesitant at first, but did it anyway. It was warm water that smelled kind of funny and tasted heavily of minerals. Apparently it has healing qualities and is good for your bones and skin though so it must be safe. We finished our day in Bath by having high tea in the Pump Room. We each had our own pot of tea and got a three-tiered tray filled with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries. I felt very classy and sophisticated the entire time, and am not well practiced for meeting a prince of the Queen. Tea was all fun and dandy until 7 cups of tea (2 pots) later when I had to pee every 15 minutes. Not the recommended way to prepare for a 5 hour train ride, but I survived. We got back to Wales that night and it was back to preparing for exams!

Roman Baths
Roman Baths
High Tea
High Tea

I officially have 2 more exams until I am finished with my semester abroad and my junior year. I don’t know how time can escape so quickly, but it has been an amazing journey and I wouldn’t change a thing. Thanks for following my adventures!

Slainte

I have been to Dublin 4 times in my life, unfortunately the first 3 times I never left the airport. This past weekend, and my 4th time at the airport, I finally got the chance to step foot on actual Irish soil.

My parents and brother have all been to Ireland, but besides telling me about sheep and ghost tours, I didn’t have much to go off of on what to expect. Fortunately, like most girls who love a good rom-com, I have seen the movie Leap Year. Based off this movie, I figured I would get to Ireland, meet a beautiful man with a fun accent, fall in love, and get engaged on the Cliffs of Moher. Movies are obviously always realistic and so with that, my expectations for the weekend were set! However, my many suitors will be pleased to know that this was in fact not how my time in Ireland was spent. I did not meet a man and drive across Ireland with him nor did I get engaged, but I definitely did fall in love.

I fell in love with the city of Dublin and how much character and life there was at all hours of the day and the night. I fell in love with every person I interacted with, from their accents to their genuinity. I fell in love with the history behind all the buildings and the cobbled streets. I fell in love with the natural beauty of the Irish countryside and the breathtaking Cliffs of Moher. There is so much beauty in Ireland, I can’t imagine anyone going and not leaving with a full heart.

While I love 99% of everything about Ireland, I do have to say there were some things I did not love. These things being Guinness and the Full Irish Breakfast (so sorry Irish culture/tradition). Unfortunately I don’t have the taste buds of an old Irish man.

So with that, here I go with a breakdown of my Irish weekend:

We left Aber on Thursday night by train and arrived at the Birmingham airport at around 11:30pm. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:30am, which meant we have quite some time to kill. Not to bore you with travel details but some highlights include sleeping on benches in the airport until we could go to our gate at 4am. All the traveling went smoothly and safely for the most part. The “non-smooth” part of my travels happened in the Birmingham airport right after I got through security. At this point it was about 5:30am (1:30am Indiana time) and something pretty traumatic happened to me. While I will not be elaborating on the actual disaster, I will say I had a pretty big anxiety attack. Naturally this caused me to start to feel pretty homesick and so I just wanted to talk to my parents or someone from home to calm me down. Unfortunately for me, the time zone difference meant my parents were both asleep and when I tried calling them, their phones were off. I wasn’t able to get ahold of them until almost noon my time so I felt pretty upset most of the flight and morning. The good news is that I learned lots of valuable lessons, my parents learned to keep their phones on please, and I am feeling much better. Other than that, all the rest of the traveling details were normal and easy.

The first thing we did when we arrived in Dublin was track down the lady whom we were renting a room from so that we could get our keys. The place we stayed at was in a great location because it was pretty much in Central Dublin right by everything we wanted to see. The downsides were that it was a pretty creepy building and some of the walls had BLACK mold. I have been watching House on Netflix lately so naturally I panicked and was waiting to contract a life threatening fungal infection. I am pretty sure in America it is illegal to live with black mold according to the Health Board people?!?! But either way I survived and by the end of the trip I was just referring to them as my “colony friends” and we lived together in harmony. Other features besides the mold included a bedroom that had 2 sets of bunk beds, a kitchen, a living room, a balcony, and a full bathroom. It was decent considering we only spend about 10 hours total in the place.

On Friday after we moved in, we went to grab brunch. We found a cute traditional Irish looking placed right across the street from our accommodations. All four of us ordered the Full Irish breakfast. This consists of eggs, blood sausage, white and black pudding, bacon, mushrooms, baked beans, potatoes, and toast. If you know me and my eating habits, you know that I don’t like breakfast meats, but I wanted to at least say I tried “Irish food.” While I did try a bite of everything, I only ended up actually eating the eggs, toast, and potatoes because the rest of the food was yucky. Also if you are wondering what black and white pudding are, here is a news flash: IT’S NOT PUDDING. I took the liberty of attaching some WIKI definitions below of what they are:

Black pudding (SwedishblodpuddingEstonianverivorst) is a type of blood sausage commonly eaten in BritainCroatiaIrelandSweden,Estonia and Latvia. It is generally made from pork blood and a relatively high proportion of oatmeal

White pudding or oatmeal pudding is a meat dish popular in Ireland,[1] ScotlandNorthumberlandNova Scotia, andNewfoundland. White pudding is similar to black pudding, but does not include blood; it consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread and oatmeal formed into a large sausage.[

Yes, it does say pork blood. Ew. Here is a lovely picture of my meal: IMG_5832

Obviously
In love.

After eating we toured the city. We went to the Jameson Distillery, Guinness Storehouse, Trinity College, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and just explored some of the streets and shops of the city. Very touristy stuff, I know. I did learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, which would be super useful if I liked Guinness (maybe one day). Two of my favorite things I did in the city were ride a horse drawn carriage around Dublin and eating the best crepe of my life. The horses were named Penny and Dolly and they were perfect and beautiful and obviously I was in love. While I was on the carriage I occasionally waved to peasants walking on the street like the princess I am, and yes, they all waved back happily. Irish people are awesome. The crepe was made with nutella and banana slices and powdered sugar. The man making it thought I was crazy because of how excited I was watching him make it, but like, who wouldn’t get excited about a crepe?? It was so delicious I got the same one the next night as well.

Crepe Heaven
Crepe Heaven
Temple Bar
Temple Bar
group at Trinity College
group at Trinity College
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher

On Saturday we woke up at the crack of dawn and caught a bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. This feisty Irish woman led the tour. Her main job was to tell us the history of places we visited, but she also told us quite a few stories and jokes along the way. When we got to the cliffs, we were cut loose for an hour and a half to explore. It was a super windy day and at times I was honestly afraid I would just blow right off the ledge. Pictures will never be able to do the cliffs justice, so I recommend everyone see them before they die. They are 700 feet high off the ocean and are truly breathtaking. It felt like a dream to be there and I am so lucky that I can cross something so huge off my bucket list at such a young age. When we got back from the tour it was night time and we were pretty exhausted considering we all had been mainly sleeping on trains and planes for the past 2 days. We stopped at a pub in Dublin for a quick drink then headed back to our hostel for a few hours of sleep. We woke up at 1am, caught a taxi to the airport Sunday and headed our long journey back to school.

The weekend flew by, and I wish I had more time there, but it was an amazing trip and I am so glad that I was able to experience Ireland. It is really cool to say I have been to places that my ancestors are from. Now that both Italy and Ireland have parts of my heart, we will have to see if Germany takes some as well to make it a full circle!

Slainte!! (“cheers” in Irish)

1 month down

I actually can’t believe it, but it has been about a month since I first arrived here in Wales. When I first was planning on coming and looking at calendars, 4 months seemed like a terrifying amount of time to be away from my family, friends, and especially my dogs. Now that a full month has passed I feel like I am short for time and that it is going entirely too quickly. It feels even shorter when we are trying to plan weekend trips and we look at the calendar to see how limited we are on time before it is time for final exams. But as the wise man once said ~TiME FliEs wHEn yOu’RE h@VinG fUN~

Anyways here is my brief update that you all have been constantly refreshing my blog page waiting for….

The past two weeks school wise have been a blur, like I said, it is going super fast. I did however turn in my first real assignment which was my lap practical on the dissection I wrote about last time. This paper ended up being about 18 pages (double spaced with pics!!) and a little over the 2,000 word limit. The tricky part about this paper was that it had to be referenced in something called Harvard Style. This is like MLA and APA, except I have never learned it before. They take plagiarism very seriously here, just like the states, so hopefully I cited my paper correctly and don’t get throw out of the university! Another fun fact about this paper is that it is worth 50% of my final grade in the class. The other 50% is my final exam consisting of 3 essay questions in May. So, pray for me that I wrote it to their format and expectations.

Another fun school activity I got to experience was a field trip. My Zoo Science module went to the Chester Zoo in England last Wednesday to collect information for presentations we will have due in April. The field trip left at 6:30 am (YAY) and we returned home are 7:30pm that night. While we were there we listened to a few lectures from zoo researchers and employees and then were cut loose into the zoo for 4 hours. I essentially spent this time taking pictures of all the animals so hopefully that counted as “research.”  Zoos here are no different than zoos back in the states. While some species are more common in Europe, they still had elephants, tigers, zebras, lions and much more. All the exhibits were set up to have proper enrichment for the animals as well as guest entertainment. My two favorite parts were that for one, a ton of their animals has just had babies! I saw a tiger cub, a baby elephant, an 18 day old rhino, baby deer, and a baby monkey! My other favorite part was the bat exhibit. For the bar exhibit, you walk into a building that is basically pitch black and set up to resemble the rain forest. It is humid and smells like rotten fruits. As you walk through the winding path of the building in the dark, there are about 50ish bats freely moving around you. Some would fly within inches in front of my face or above my head. While it was terrifying, it was cool to feel like I was actually experiencing them in their natural habitat.

Painted Dogs
Painted Dogs

Other than school stuff, last weekend we stayed in Aber. Saturday was a really nice day as well as Valentine’s day, so the little town was very busy with people and couples. We got breakfast at an American Diner so that we could have pancakes, then we took a nice walk down the beach to enjoy the day. Afterwards we went to a coffee shop and did some school work until later in the evening. After we left the coffee shop we decided to see the movie Kingsman. This is some sort of british spy movie. While it was an enjoyable and humorous movie, it had a lot of interesting forms of violence and vulgarity that are different from American films. Saturday night after the movie we went to a night club and all just danced the night away to awkward valentines day remixes.

Last Thursday night I celebrated the Chinese New Year by eating homemade traditional Chinese food prepared by one of my friend’s flatmates. Then, we went out again to go dancing. At the night clubs we met a wide variety of interesting men. By interesting, I mean that I am not sure if a word any of them told me was truthful! After dancing we decided to take a nice stroll down the beach. It was super peaceful since it was like 2am, and the stars and ocean are always breathtaking.

This most recent weekend, we took a day trip to Manchester. Our train left at 5:15am so getting up and to the train station was quite a struggle. When we got there, we explored the Manchester Museum first and then got a taxi over to Old Trafford. In Old Trafford we took a tour of the Manchester United Stadium and museum. I took a tour of this stadium about 5 years ago, so it was really cool to be back and see it from a newer perspective. Before the tour we explored the museum section which has the history of the team. The best part of the museum was the part dedicated to the Munich plane crash. They had numerous memorials, plaques, and an eternal flame in remembrance of the players who lost their lives on that day. They also had news papers and quotes from the tragedy and how it affected the team and the city all over the walls. It was a pretty moving experience to see and read it all. On the tour our tour guide also talked about the crash and it was hard to try not to tear up during it all. The rest of the tour was cool because we got to see the field and the press and fitting rooms for the team as well as hear a lot of the stadiums history. After that, we got another taxi to the Manchester Cathedral. I was expecting more elaborate decor on the inside of the cathedral, but it was still a pretty church, especially from the outside. We spent the rest of our time in the mall and in China town (the UK’s largest china town!) and then got on our train back to Aber.

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Sunday, we spent the whole day in Starbucks doing homework and kind of planning trips. When we left we stopped at a place called Little Italy for a nice 3 course italian meal, and probably my favorite meal I have had since being here.

Overall, the past two weeks have gone by fast but have been a lot of fun exploring and seeing new things. This weekend coming up we will be leaving the UK for the first time and heading to Ireland!

If you made it this far down, thanks for reading 🙂 

Prince Charming

Fun Fact: There are over 600 castles in Wales. If you don’t know the size of Wales or where it is on a map (I didn’t before I got here either), it is roughly the size of the state of New Jersey. Due to the small size and large quantity of castles, Wales officially has the most castles per square mile than any other country IN THE WORLD!! And yes, I googled this, it is not made up.

If you were someone who asked me why I was going to Wales to study abroad as opposed to another country, my answer was most likely “To find a prince” (unless you were my advisor or professor haha). Blair Waldorf found a prince and a lord to date while hanging in Europe, so I should be able to too right?!?! Unfortunately while I have only seen 3 of the 600 castles, they are mostly all either in ruins or have been turned into tourists sights. AKA no princes there. On top of my castle tours, I did a brief google check on the princes in Europe and came to find that most are approximately my dads age with a few exceptions in their late 20s early 30s. If they aren’t old men, they are married or are young enough for me to babysit…NO THANKS!! I guess with this new found knowledge, I will have to accept the fact that a prince probably won’t happen so I should focus on traveling Europe…I mean school..

looking for Prince Charming
looking for Prince Charming

Speaking of school, I have completed my second week of classes now. One thing I realized based on questions from friends and family after my last blog post was that I did a poor job of explaining what exactly my program is. The best way to describe it is to say that I am the equivalent of a foreign exchange student going to Purdue for a semester. I often get comments like “don’t worry they will grade easy because they know you want to travel and have fun.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a program made solely of exchange kids and professors could care less if I want to travel, especially when attendance is part of my grade in all of my courses. Another misconception I think people have about study abroad is that I am here taking classes like sailing on the Irish sea, painting Aberystwyth sunsets, and sheep herding. While I am taking a lighter course load than I would have been at Purdue, I am still taking courses in my major of animal sciences that require effort and studying.

The only thing exciting that happened this week of classes was that on Friday night, I had an anatomy lab practical for my reproductive physiology class. Basically for this, we walking into a room that had lab benches lined with plastic dissection trays. The trays held either the reproductive tract of a cow, ewe, mare, or sow. We had to put on lab coats and plastic aprons and then our professor basically told us to do whatever we wanted to cut open and observe the anatomy of our animal. We took pictures throughout the dissection and have to write up a 2500 word report on the anatomy of our animal as well as the others. I chose to do the sow for our group mainly because of the convoluting uterine horns, which I personally find interesting, but you all personally don’t care so I will stop now! Basically it was a really cool and hands on learning experience which I enjoyed. WARNING: picture is inserted just below the next paragraph…sorry if this makes you queazy, just scroll fast.

During the anatomy lab, I met two girls who I found to be kind of inspirational. Both of them want to become vets just like me, but they are both taking such different paths than what I am doing. One of them is from Norway and she told me that in order to get into vet school (which is 6 years in Norway) she needs high marks and a lot of hands on experience which is why she came to school in aber for 3 years. The other girl is from the Caribbean, and she came to aber for university for the same reasons. She is currently in the process of applying to vet schools in the states now! It’s crazy to think that I an so fortunate to go to an undergrad school only an hour away from my house that is well known in animal sciences, but these girls had to travel to a totally different country to be able to eventually reach the same end goals as me. That to me is inspiring and shows how much their passions drive them. It also makes one semester seem a lot less scary away from home when I see these other girls doing it for years. I find it so amazing to meet people from all over the world who have the same end goals and passions as me and I hope we all make it there in the end!

Mare Repro
Mare Repro

Another “school” thing that happened this week was the club fair. Compared to Purdue’s club fair, it was super underwhelming. I signed up for emails and info on the club lacrosse team, soccer team, horseback riding club, and surf club. The only one I have actively heard from and communicated with so far is the surf club LOL. I plan on trying it out at least once before I head home, but I think I’ll wait until it warms up some.

Lastly I will just touch on the past weekend and this weekend briefly. Last weekend as we all know, was the Super Bowl. I watched it in the student union on campus, which is actually just a bar, with my American friends. For a game of a sport that isn’t widely played in Europe and that aired at 11:30pm, the union was packed. We were definitely being “annoying Americans” cheering too loudly about big plays and bitching about how none of the American commercials aired here. Even though we left to go to bed after the half time show, I would have to say it was one of the most fun Super Bowls I have ever watched and I am glad I could experience it here.

As far as this weekend goes, we took a bus to Cardiff for the day on Saturday. The bus left at 6:40am and got us back to campus at about 1am Sunday so you could say it was a long day. We basically toured the Castle, which was amazing, checked out the bay and assembly hall, did some shopping, and checked out the art and history museum. It was nice to be in a bigger city for the day since Aberystwyth is so small.

Sorry again for being so long winded and rambled with my blog posts! If you know me, you know I can’t tell a short story 🙂

The  group in front of Cardiff Castle
The group in front of Cardiff Castle
Up in the tower like Rapunzel
Up in the tower like Rapunzel