Paris

2 weeks late, but I am finally wrapping up blogs on my Easter Holiday travels by writing about my final city stop in Paris before heading back to uni!

I had always been told that the French can be somewhat standoffish towards tourists, especially Americans. I realized when arriving that they aren’t being rude as much as they are being proud. A friend here from Uni told me “the French have pride like lions,” and boy is that true! Even if a local from France speaks and understands English, if you go in arrogantly speaking English and not respecting their language and culture, there is a 99% chance they won’t respect you back. At fist this was frustrating, but reflecting on it, I have known multiple Americans who have said things similar to “everyone in the States should know and speak English.” So really, it isn’t much different. The first time we encountered the pride of the French language was when we stopped in a small French town called Burgundy for a lunch break on the way to Paris. We said “Bonjour!” when we entered and then proceeded to order everything in English. The woman behind the counter clearly understood every word we were saying to her, but she insisted on responding to us only in French, including asking if we wanted our sandwiches heated up and telling us how much we owed. Following this event, we decided it would be very useful to study some French phrases on the rest of the bus trip to Paris. I learned how to say the obvious, “hello,” and “goodbye,” as well as phrases like “do you speak english?” or “I don’t speak French” and “I would like…” “please and thank you.” It was fun to learn some of a new language, even if I butchered most of what I said. French is such a pretty sounding language and maybe one day I will actually invest in learning it more! I truly do miss greeting people with a happy “bonjour!” instead of a basic “hey.”

So, once we actually arrived in Paris and checked into our hostel, we had 2 days to explore the city. I got to see a lot in 2 days however I definitely would’ve loved having much more time there. Good news? There’s a vet school somewhere in France as well 😉

The first day, I went to explore the Palace of Versailles first thing in the morning. It’s a good thing I got there early because by the time I was entering the gates, the line was probably a couple hundred people long. While it’s definitely worth reading about sometime, I will spare everyone from a history lesson via my blog. If you haven’t even seen pictures of the palace, it is HUGE and gorgeous. Every single building is decked out in paintings and gold and mirrors and the outside is lined with large gardens and fountains. I can’t imagine someone actually living there, although I am sure it would be a great time.

Standing in front of the Palace
Standing in front of the Palace

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The rest of the time in Paris was spent exploring the actual city. I found out, much to my delight, that Paris runs on a system super similar to the Tube in London called the Metro. It was just as fun and easy to ride around the city as the tube was and I loved every time I got to take it to a new destination. I hope everyone else who visits London and Paris appreciate this convenient public transportation as much as I did. As I jetted around the Metro system, some of the cool tourist things I saw included the Eiffle Tower, seeing the Lourve, Art Bridge, Notre Dame and Arc de Triomphe. Oh, and of course, losing my macaroon virginity to Laduree Paris (I hope Blair Waldorf would be proud)!

Macaroons!!
Macaroons!!

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Selfie on top
Selfie on top

Going to the top of the Eiffle Tower was a really cool way to experience both the tower and see the city. I forget the exact details, but I am pretty sure a tour guide at one point told us the tower wasn’t supposed to be up and operating as long as it has been, which made the rickety lift ride to the top somewhat terrifying. Once arriving to the top, you should technically be able to see Paris for miles. Unfortunately, Paris has a pretty tragic relationship with air pollution. There is a constant haze covering the city skyline due to all the car and air pollution which makes it hard to see too far from the top of the tower. Still, it was possible to get a decent view of the city surrounding the tower and it’s exciting to say I’ve been to the top.

Art Bridge
Art Bridge

Seeing the Art Bridge was a dream come true. Most of you probably know it as the “love lock bridge,” which is what I originally was calling it as well. While trying to locate the bridge, I asked a nice looking cop for directions and before I was given directions I was scolded and told the true name is the Art Bridge. Cool. Either way, seeing this bridge has been on my bucket list ever since I can remember. I think it is so inspiring to see how many couples or friends have come to place a lock on the bridge representing an eternal love. I can’t even imagine how strong these peoples’ relationships were or how in love they are, but it must be amazing. I hope one day I have a love that strong that we could lock it in eternity, besides my dogs of course. As we approached the bridge I was literally skipping with joy and anticipation to see all the locks and feel the overwhelming love radiating off it. Sadly, the bridge has been covered in a lot of spaces with boards because the weight of all the locks was collapsing the bridge. The sides of the bridge were still visible and over flowing with locks however so I can’t say I was disappointed. I know they call Paris “The City of Lights,” but some have adapted to calling it the “city of love,” which makes way more sense because feeling the romance of Paris is truly inevitable.

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Paris was amazing, as were the rest of the cities I saw over break, but after what seemed like a super short 3 weeks, it was time to return to Wales.

Reality slapped me in the face hard the first couple days back to lectures. While the majority of my fellow students spent their holiday breaks home working on assignments, I was out playing. This left me coming back to a group presentation and a short research essay due the first week back, and two 2500 word statistical analysis/research papers due the second week back. FUN STUFF!! While knocking out the first week’s assignments was rather painless, the two long research papers were rough. I meant to take care of them the weekend in between, but the sunshine came out to play. I accidentally spent a good two or three days lounging on the beach instead of the library. My procrastination started to wear off on the Tuesday before they were due and so I began to actually cram and work. With the occasional beach bonfire or netflix episode for breaks, I managed to complete both my essays in time!

This is now the final week of lectures before finals will start. Finals here fun for a month instead of a week like they do at home. This is a good thing because my exams here will be much harder than most I have taken at Purdue. Hopefully the beach isn’t too distracting! It’s also officially on the countdown of only a month until I am home! It’s mind-blowing how quickly time escapes us and I often find myself wishing it would slow down, but I do have to say I can’t wait to hug my pups and parents again.

Thanks for reading!

Au Revoir!

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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 🙂