Shrewsbury

Not very many pictures in this post (and the world breathes a sigh of relief). We had a full house in Shrewsbury (7-8 at any given time while I was there) and it was just a lovely, relaxing and well-spent few days with good company and good food and such generous hospitality with putting up with their American cousin for five days. The Shrewsbury crew is the greatest :)

We played many games:

Settlers of Catan three times (that one almost ruined relationships guys). Taboo. And a game about lying to customs’ officials.

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Not one, but TWO cats. I miss mine. Even though Cinnamon hates me the ungrateful wretch. Anywaaaaay….

 

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It also included a lovely time wandering the town center of Shrewsbury.

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One morning, we went on a trek over to Wales to the little picturesque town of Llangollen which is not pronounced how it’s spelled, which is typical for Welsh…and English as well actually so I really can’t be too hard on them.

We started in town, bought some meat pasties to take with us, and then started up to the castle. The boys seemed properly prepared. I was slightly less so (I figured I’d done mild hiking in the hills of Sevilla and Austria and a fairly intensive hike in San Sebastian so yeah. Totally prepared. NOT). After wheezing my way to the top, I got to enjoy a stunning view and some great castle ruins of Dinas Bran.

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Such a pretty town!

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We had a quick water and apple break among the ruins before exploring and trying not to get knocked off the hill by the crazy wind

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We climbed back down to the plateau and the boys used an existing fire pit to make a fire and then heat up our pasties over two pieces of slate. So we now know who will survive in the case of a zombie apocalypse.

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The best part of my time though was getting to go to the fundraiser for my cousin, who is heading to Albania for a mission trip soon. The event was a ceilidh, which is of Scottish origin and basically just a big get-together involving good food and lots of dancing to set dances (luckily there was a “caller” telling us what to do!)

This was quite possibly the most fun night of my life and we got to eat curry and raise money for her trip at the same time so good feelings all around :)

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Set up, waiting for the band and everyone to arrive! The colors are to match the Albanian flag.

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Cut from a napkin. No it was not my doing.

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Dancing was really just mad chaos most of the night but also mad fun so it’s all alright :)

And there ends the England tour stop #3.

Manchester

Super behind on blogging ahhhh!

Ok. So Manchester=stop #2 on the England tour.

I chose Manchester for one reason and one reason only: The National Football Museum.

As in soccer, the real football (aka not the American version in which you really don’t use your feet very often as least as far as moving the ball goes. Anyway.)

As a sports writer, this is basically an incarnation of Mecca/The Promised Land/striking gold in California or whatever other analogy suits your fancy.

First off, I would like to congratulate Manchester for its spot-on Asian cuisine and Costa coffee. Aside from one pulled pork sandwich, I ate nothing else for two days. And it was brilliant. Spain is great but has a dearth of good international food.

Secondly, here’s pictures and explanations from those two days!

Manchester, though a lovely city, was far more industrial than anywhere else I’ve been this semester. Which was a shock after the quiet gardens of Norwich and the cobblestone streets of Sevilla. But it was a nice change of aesthetic.There was a lot of brick buildings and parts of brick buildings still standing (I’m guessing from the Industrial Revolution period?) which was really pretty in a starker sense than, say, the gothic cathedral in Sevilla.

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So. Football.

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AHHHH! :D

 

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Yes. This is a classical painting redone with the faces of famous footballers.

Yes. This is a classical painting redone with the faces of famous footballers.

 

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Wait. England’s actually scored enough goals to makes a list?

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There was a really lovely temporary exhibition on the history of football during the World Wars. It was fascinating to see how football clubs were affected by the war and drafts and how football played a part in troop morale as well.

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I also visited the Manchester Cathedral (no trip to any city is complete without a church in my opinion).

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Manchester was bipolar with the weather the entire two days. Bright and sunny. Then pouring rain. Guess when I took this one.

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Really beautiful statue of the birth of Christ

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Annnnd the gem I didn’t know about until I got to Manchester was Chetham’s Library, also known as the oldest (surviving) public library in Britain. I was almost afraid to breath in case the books just fell apart.

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And thaaaat is everything. Or everything you really want to be subjected to photo-wise. My poor computer really hates me these days for the sheer amount of different photo albums I’m making it keep organized.

Until next time :)

Norwich

Norwich was wonderful. I arrived in England knowing which cities I’d be visiting and when, but no idea of what to do in each besides visit family. I knew I’d be coming after a few very busy weeks of my mom visiting and preparing to leave Sevilla, so I think subconsciously I knew I wanted a peaceful laidback visit (aside from all the traveling).

The first day in Norwich, my aunt and uncle (really they’re like my fourth cousins but who’s keeping track??) took me to an old estate in the countryside. Blickley Estate was last inhabited by Phillip Lorian, the 1939-1940 British ambassador to the good ol’ USA. This was obviously a very exciting time to be said ambassador what with trying to convince the states to give a little bit of help to the newly started war and all. Lorian was on best friend status with the Roosevelts, Astors, and other members of the rich and famous.

His estate is beautiful and was given to the National Trust to be taken care of in the mid-1950s. My favourite parts were the library (of course) and the large garden in the back. After a magazine was rather harsh in its review, Lorian had a friend redesign it and I’m a fan.

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Later we went to have a beer (white wine for me yum!) with their friends and listen to them tease each other nonstop which was entertaining.

Day two called for a trip to the city center. Norwich is a very old city (isn’t everything in England) complete with a castle and cobblestone streets (Please get on the cobblestone street thing, Indy. Thanks in advance. Actually don’t because I like wearing heels).

To my delight, I was told that every year Norwich puts colorfully painted animal statues into place all around the city, creating a artistic scavenger hunt of sorts. This year’s “animal”? DRAGONS.

Here there be dragons.

No but really.

And that’s not even all of them that we saw.

We wandered the Royal Arcade (basically a semi-enclosed shopping promenade) and then down to the Norwich Cathedral (Just a note that it’s a relief to no longer have this dilemma between listing the name of a building in its original language or translating it. E.g. la Catedral de Sevilla vs Seville Cathedral).

The cathedral is gorgeous and has a distinction to the others I’ve seen this semester in that it belongs not to the Catholic Church, but to the Church of England (bless their hearts those heretics).

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This is known as the Green Man. Formerly a pagan symbol, he now can be found hidden in the ceilings of the cloisters.

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Coats of arms around the cloisters

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One of my favourite parts of the cathedral was the small section dedicated to members of the British military who had died in various conflicts.

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This panel in the middle is dedicated to those who died in North America between 1776-81. Pop quiz: What was going on in North America during those years?

That night we went to an inn for dinner and while I didn’t manage to get pictures before scarfing it down, please enjoy the description of what I had because it’s still making my mouth water:

Brie, cranberry, and sauteed Onion stuffed puff pastry with lemon sauce. Crab salad (with the crab meat sauced up and placed back in the shell). Potatoes and brown bread. Red wine.

I returned home well-stuffed and happy.

Day three consisted of a lot of rain and thus, after an attempt to go walking was thwarted, staying in and reading, writing, and watching the men’s Wimbledon final.

It was so nice to just be able to breath and relax the last few days after the insanity of the last few weeks in Spain (wonderful though they were).

The England Adventure Begins

Well it’s done. I’ve left Sevilla. After many rechecks of the luggage. After many more tears. But also ice cream from the best place in Sevilla (according to word on the street) that of course I didn’t try until…the day before leaving. Oops.

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So while I’m excited that I get to have tinto de verano and 100 Montaditos and also see the boy (ahem) one more time again in Madrid before I leave, right now I’m THRILLED to finally be in England with my dad’s side of the family!

5 cities in two weeks (with a 6th in Wales) is a lot but I’m super excited to get to wear sweaters again thanks to the muuuch milder British weather, see family I haven’t seen in four years, and eat some damn good fish and chips thank you very much.

I’ve finished my first day in Norwich (blog coming soon!) and it was quite peaceful, relaxing, and fun. Just like vacation should be.

Sleep well everyone :)

Going/Leaving Home

I’m writing this a week in advance because I know it’s going to take me a few hours to put my thoughts together, and crying intermittently while writing holed up in my home is not how I want to spend my last days in Sevilla.

So.

I’m leaving Sevilla in a week.

I. am leaving Sevilla. In a week.

I’m not prepared. I mean. I am. But I’m not.

This is the greatest blog ever I know.

I’m prepared in that it’s one of those givens in life and I’ve known that since before I left:

Tom Brady is a dirty cheat, Finding Nemo is the best Pixar movie of all time, and I have to say goodbye to Sevilla.

But I’m not prepared in that….I’m not prepared.

My life has become a before and an after.

Before= I was a junior in college, I called Indy home, and my entire existence revolved around going to Spain.

After= I am now a senior in college, I will call Indy home once more, and my entire existence revolves around returning to Spain (and graduating but minor point).

The problem comes in trying to read between the surface lines of the before and the after and trying to analyze myself as a person in that before and after, trying to put how this experience has shaped me into tangible details.

Who was I before, and who am I now?

One of my favourite lines in musical theater comes from the musical, “Wicked.” Near the end, one lyric reads,

“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”

I don’t think I could choose a more appropriate phrase to describe what has happened to me in these last five months.

As I say goodbye to the city I adore and the places that have become as familiar as those in Indy, I spend more time contemplating the changes that have occurred here:

1. I hold a newfound appreciation for the American university system. Someone slap me the next time I complain about anything to do with school (especially finals). I will never know fear again as I did walking into my final exam (on which rests my entire course grade) for History of Modern Spain.

2. I hold my head a little higher. When you step off a plane in a country full of strangers, you lose the privilege to be shy/quiet/timid/uncertain/passive/insert similar adjective of choice here. I have slept in an airport overnight, ordered food items blindly in German, and sat in an hour-long class four days a week listening to a professor speak rapid-fire Spanish without taking a breath. Nothing can phase me anymore. The confidence I have had to place in myself I hope is here to stay because I kind of like who I am with it.

3. I hold more respect for immigrants. Walking into Margarita’s house for the first time and understanding maybe a quarter of what she was telling me about house rules and how everything worked was nerve-wracking. And she was just trying to explain how the shower worked. I’ve had support at every step of the way while trying to navigate the Spanish language here. I can’t imagine stepping off a plane or out of a car or off a boat and not only not having the support, but having to figure out things like housing, finances, laws etc. immediately in a language that is not my own.

And more.

This has been the most incredible of adventures, and I try to remind myself that being on the constant verge of tears only symbolises just how incredible it was.

The goodbyes started weeks ago as my friends in my program began to leave Sevilla. While I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to stay longer than expected and happy with my decision to do so, it’s been strange to see pictures and posts from friends who have returned to their own “before” lives that we all aren’t a part of.

Some goodbyes have yet to pass. If I’m honest, the remaining goodbyes hurt just a bit too much to write about publicly right now and I dread the “after” more than anything.

Those are the moments when I can do nothing but remind myself how wonderful the upcoming reunions in Indy will be (and in my mom’s case, the reunion that came two weeks ago! :). How much I can’t wait for my favourite smoothie as MoJoe’s and Panda Express’ orange chicken (I’M COMING FOR YOU), for movie nights with my friends aka talking through the whole thing, for hugging my parents good night, for cellphone data (omg 24/7 internet and no interrupted conversations???), etc etc etc.

I remember that as much as I can’t breathe sometimes when I contemplate leaving Sevilla and saying goodbye to the special people here, I’m so excited to say “hello” once again to everyone I left behind.

And I remember that goodbyes weren’t forever when I left Indianapolis and they won’t be forever when I leave here.

I remember that I’m lucky to be living in an age of technology, where a screen can’t replace an embrace, but it’s the next best thing.

More than anything, I remember that I’m so grateful to have had the chance to add Sevilla to the list of cities I call home.

Indy first, obviously.

Mexico City next (and if I’m honest, probably the nearest to my heart as it started the dream that has led me to Spain and given me my travel bug).

And now Sevilla.

I remember that I am insanely fortunate to have three homes now. To have known three cities intimately and formed lifelong connections in each. To have memories attached to so many different places.

Home is where the heart is, so they say, and thus I happily leave my heart in pieces around the world.

Throwback to the first night I spent in Sevilla

Throwback to the first night I spent in Sevilla