Not a Tourist

13 Jul

Today, the last day in Bath I have officially realized it has become my home, and that I am going to be so sad to leave. I was asked three different times today for directions as I walked around Bath. I must have looked like I knew my way around to these people and was able to help them get to all different places. In fact, one group that asked me where a specific hotel was, was a group of students and their teacher from America. They were surprised when after they asked me where it was they heard an American accent. The group leader laughed and commented that they thought I was from Bath. Success!!! I am no longer a tourist!! It was so bittersweet to hear that and be able to help the new tourists in Bath.

We then had high tea as a celebratory last get together with all of ASE. It was so fun to have finger sandwiches and scones with tea for lunch. We then had a wonderful slideshow presentation of photos that everyone sent in. It was so nice to see pictures from our entire time here. It is so weird to think it has only been 5 weeks, when it seems like it has been forever. The slideshow made me want to cry, but my friend Sam and I kept telling each other to keep it together. It was definitely a sad ending and we all felt that the time went too fast. We will just have to come back!

Here is my British professor and I at the final tea.

Tonight we are all going out for a final dinner together as a house, just as we did  the first night together in Bath. It definitely has not sunk in that tomorrow I will be on a plane back to the United States, but I hope that one day I will be able to come back to England and experience even more that this country has to offer. Until the United States, Cheers! England you have been brilliant!


Doin’ Great Work

9 Jul

Alright followers, sorry I have been MIA for the past couple of days but I have been super busy, seeing tons of things and of course doin’ great work like a true Gettysburgian. I have a feeling this is going to be a long one so I hope you enjoy. Oh and here is a picture of the Bath Bun I talked about in my last post:

Thursday found the girls of Linley House not wanting to start their papers, so instead the eight of us decided to walk the Bath Skyline walk. Now we were told that it was a beautiful and easy 6 mile walk where you can see views of all of the city of Bath. Slightly true, but more false. First off, we had to get to the start of the walk. That totaled about a mile. Then we get to the first part of the walk and we see amazing views of Bath. We could see everything and it was amazingly a beautiful day. We went on following our directions, (they would not fly in the US, but more on that later) and found that we were going up and down many hills and valleys. We arrived upon spot 2 of 9 and were about a mile or two into the 6 mile walk, oh wait plus the first mile, and 3 of our number decided they were in no way going to finish and decided to go back home down the mountain. The other 5 of us determined to do the whole thing, continued on. Here is where we found the mud. Now in England it rains….a lot. So even on this bright, sunny, dry day, the path was not dry. Now in our minds when people described this lovely walk, we pictured a paved path. We thought we just had to walk up the hill to get to the path and then it would be flat and dry. Oh how we were wrong. This path was not level, and definitely not paved. It also went through the woods mostly and we only could see Bath every once in a while. As for the directions, some lines were so vague we were sure we were going to be lost. One said follow between the trees. Um What Trees, which path, how far? However, amazingly we did not get lost, and we made it through the 6 miles, plus the two to get to the path and back. It was an interesting journey but the 5 of us had a ton of fun even though it was muddy and mostly in the woods. Plus of course at the end of it all, in our tired, extremely muddy state, we got to laugh about what had just happened. Here are the 5 pairs of very muddy shoes:

So on Friday we had another trip with the program and this one was to Stonehenge and Glastonbury. I knew coming to England Stonehenge was something I wanted to see, but at the same time I did not know what to expect. The administrators that went with us said many students are underwhelmed when they finally see the stones, so they told us to not expect too much. I must say I am glad they warned us. I do not regret going, since I can now say I have been there, but it was a little underwhelming. The stones are definitely a lot smaller than they look in pictures and I think that may have been the issue. When you come upon them, it is definitely a beautiful site, but not as mystical as one would think. The stones are clearly big, just not as big as expected. Plus it is definitely impressive that they shaped them into perfect rectangles and managed to get them into a perfect circle, don’t get me wrong. But at the same time, while they did not have advanced technology to move the stones easily the 20 miles or so they supposedly did, it definitely seems plausible that they did use logs and rope to move the stones and that it would not have been impossible for them to get there.

The thing that was cool was the theories behind why they even put the stones there in the first place. Many believe that it was a burial ground for an extremely wealthy family. Another idea is that it was a place to gather for the different solstices and to worship. Whatever it is though, it is extremely cool and was fun to see. We were then off to Glastonbury. Now I did not know what to expect from this town. But boy was it interesting. About every other shop we saw was a Wicca or related to sorcery store. But not in the Harry Potter sense, more like Hippies who believe in a ton of gods and goddesses. It was a very interesting place to say the least. Most people we dressed interestingly, and we definitely stood out. We got to see the Glastonbury Abbey which is the supposed site of King Arthur’s grave. We then ate at a fish and chip shop with supposedly one of the best fish and chips in England. I however still think Canterbury’s were the best, though it was very good there too. We then hiked up a huge mountain, which was extremely steep and saw the Glastonbury Tor. There were amazing sites and you could see all of Glastonbury and the surrounding land. Very cool last trip with ASE to say the least. Here is one of my Bucknell ADPi sisters with me throwing up Diamonds!

Now Saturday was dedicated to writing my Jane Austen paper on the differences between the Bollywood Bride and Prejudice and Austen’s novel. Super fun to write but I was glad that I got it done since Sunday was probably the highlight of England.

Here is where I am going to make tons of Harry Potter references so I am sorry if you are confused or lost. Sunday I woke up and packed some PB&Js to take to London. By 8:30 we were on the bus off to London and all super excited. We got to London with a couple of hours to spare so we walked around the area of London near Victoria Station and waited until 1:30 when we could go to the meeting spot for the Golden Tours. Now I would say we were mainly the only teenagers or young adults there. It was mainly parents and their 10 or younger kids, but we did not care. We were also so excited when the bus pulled up. It felt like I was riding on the Knight Bus. It was beyond cool.

That is me in front of part of the bus! So we got on and arrived at the studios and by that time I was literally acting like a 5 year old. I was so excited and could not contain it. We went in and stood in line and it actually went pretty fast to get in. At first you walk into a room and they play a clip about the world of Harry Potter and how it came to be a phenomenon from the idea, to the books, to the movies. I will admit, I was glad it was dark since I honestly almost started to cry. We then went into another room where it was more like a movie theater. They showed another short film about what Leavesden Studios was to the actors and film crew. It is basically where all of the film sets were made and used. As Dan, Emma, and Rupert said in the clip, it is basically where they spent the last 10 years, they grew up there. Then the best part ever, the tour started. We entered the great hall and I literally could not believe I was actually on the sets that the actors used. Seeing their wardrobes, their wigs, their seats, wands, everything. It was in a word MAGICAL. And yes I realize that is corny, but it truly was. It was honestly one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life, and it was like a dream come true. We got to see almost every costume and prop, see buckbeak, learn how they animated Bobby, everything. I got to see the burrow, and Hagrids hut, step into Dumbledore’s office, and see the brooms. Now the tour was set up in two sound stages, and the back lot, exactly how it was for filming. The stages were J and K. Get it? And the back lot was in the middle. When we went out to the back lot it was raining, of course since it’s England, but we were not deterred. We sat on Hagrid’s motorcycle, climbed into the Flying Car, stood on the Knight Bus, and stood next to number 4 Privet Drive and even Godric’s Hollow. I saw the giant chess pieces from the first movie, Aragog (creepy) and got to walk through Diagon Alley. It was all amazing. We saw so much more than even all that I am telling you but there is just so much (there were 8 movies after all), but I think by far the coolest thing we saw was the last room. We walked up to the door and heard the final song, and we knew our time was almost over. We walked in and there stood the 1:24 scale of Hogwarts grounds that they used to film parts of the movie. It was unreal. I again almost cried. I was so beautiful and I literally could have stood in there all day. I wanted to sit there and stare at it, and then play on it. It was like the world I had always read about was alive. While each set made it feel real, this put together made it even more so. Yet on leaving that room, it again felt like the series was ending. But then came the final surprise. We had thought the tour was over, but we walked into one final room, it was supposed to be the inside of Olivanders. The coolest thing was that each wand box had a handwritten name on it, which is how they did it for the movie to make it authentic. Where did they get the thousands of names though. Each person who worked on the film had a box with their name on it. It was so neat and so special to see that. And then Harry Potter was over, yet again. It was definitely the best day and so worth it. I had the time of my life and I do not think I can ever fully describe how exciting it was to be there. I must say it also definitely inspired me to do great work on my Harry Potter essay today too. Only a couple of days left here, but I have definitely been having the time of my life.  Oh forgot this but added a picture of it. They had Emma, Dan, and Rupert’s hand prints at the entrance!!! So cool!

The Fourth of July…Just Another Day

4 Jul

Happy 4th of July Everyone! While this is a time for celebration and seeing family back in the states, it is clearly not here in England. In fact, we were told by our professor they are still somewhat bitter about it all. Now this post is going to be a short one, but I just wanted to keep everyone up to date.

This week is super busy. We have two huge papers due on Monday, and of course that means I want them to be done by Friday, Saturday if I have to push it until then. I have been chatting with my professors about what best to write about and it has come to this. For my Wonderland’s class I am analyzing the biblical references in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I think it should be really interesting and my professor seems really enthusiastic about my choice. For my Jane Austen class I am going to analyze the Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice and compare it to Pride and Prejudice the book and see how they adapted the story and characters. Again should be really interesting and hopefully fun to write. So once I am done writing this, that is what I will be doing all evening.

On Monday in Jane Austen we took a trip to Prior Park, a beautiful home that in theory has a view of all of Bath. However, we went on a day that was super rainy, and foggy meaning that we could not even see fully down the hill, let alone all of Bath. This made our trip basically pointless since we had hoped to discuss the landscape and the picturesque that Bath does, or in Jane Austen’s opinion, does not have. So instead we had fun exercising for 40 minutes going up and down the hill. However, it was cool to see and we still had fun as a class.

On Tuesday I had another first. The famous Bath Bun. We went to Sally Lunn’s, the maker of the first Bath bun, and I got tea with a cinnamon butter bun. AMAZING! It was so tasty. Now it is important to point out that this was a Bath Bun and not a London bun since those are different (I forget how though). But Bath buns are yummy, and we realized they are mentioned in HP since Hagrid of course makes awful Bath buns, which are hard as rocks.

That is pretty much all for now. Super busy, but still having a ton of fun. I look forward to the weekend when I will hopefully  have finished my papers, and can enjoy walking around, and of course enjoy Sunday when we go and see the Harry Potter sets in London!!!!!!!



Bikes Galore

1 Jul

So I forgot to mention some things about Oxford that I noticed. There were hundreds, probably thousands of bikes. Everyone uses bikes, especially students, since it is so much cheaper to get around the city and you don’t get stuck in traffic. However for us who were walking, it was dangerous. The bikers come whipping around the corners and will not stop for you. We were told to beware of the bikes more than the cars since the bikes would be more of a hazard to us. I also determined that since everyone uses bikes, it is almost easier to tell who was a tourist since we were not on bikes.

Our tour guide though was funny, when he was talking to me about the bikes. I noticed most were not chained to anything and I commented they were very trusting. He laughed and said yes most people have their own so no one really takes another person’s. But then he continued and said that even though this was the case it was also not uncommon to see students bring one of their wheels into class with them so no one could take their bike.

One other thing we all found rather weird was the sidewalk situation. Now since they drive on the opposite side of the road in England they also walk on the opposite side of the sidewalk. Now I know I have gotten used to that and kept trying to do that in Oxford. Only it kept not working. In Oxford we were told, they do not really follow that, and just walk wherever they want to. Lets just hope once I get back to the US I walk on the correct side!!


Oxford and 15 years of Harry Potter

1 Jul

So this past weekend was our study trip to Oxford. We saw a ton in just two days time! On Friday we left from Bath and got to Oxford and were greeted by a quick rain storm, but luckily that was the only bad weather we saw all weekend and it only lasted for about 5 minutes! Otherwise it was beautiful weather which I think allowed the weekend to be amazing. Also, June 26th marked 15 years of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone being released, so I feel this weekend was very fitting to see some of the Harry Potter sites.

We first went on a tour of Christ’s Church where a lot of Alice in Wonderland was inspired, and some scenes from Harry Potter were created. We saw the tree Alice used to sit under, and the green door that she supposedly went through to get to her Wonderland. In addition we got to see the staircase that was animated to be the moving staircase in Harry Potter! It was also the staircase from where Maggie Smith (McGonagall) greeted the first year students! We then got to see where the students eat their meals, which was inspiration for the great hall and how it looked. Christ’s Church also was where Carroll taught so we got to see where he would have worked and saw the Dean’s door, which is where Alice and her family lived since her father was Dean.


After that we got to explore Oxford on our own for a little and grab lunch before the Natural History Museum. So of course most of us headed to the famous pub The Eagle and Child, where C.S Lewis and Tolkien were known to have hung out together. It was a tiny little pub but the food was good. I of course continued my England tour of fish and chips, and while these were good, Canterbury has still been the best.


On our way back to the meeting place, I of course had to stop and buy some Oxford gear. While there is no true Oxford University but actually 39 smaller colleges that happen to just be in Oxford most gear does say Oxford University. Plus I could not choose which specific college to get so I decided upon a maroon and blue rugby to take back as a souvenir.

The Natural History Museum came next and behind it the Pitt Rivers Museum. The Natural History Museum had many cool things, most importantly the Dodo bird found in the Alice stories. My friend Danielle and I however spent most of our time in the Pitt Rivers Museum. This was a rather creepy museum full of really old and weird artifacts. They had shrunken heads all over, and lots of other weird things. It probably didn’t help that it was super dark in there to preserve everything so it added to the creepiness of the place.

After the museum we then explored Oxford some more and found Tolkien’s old home. Then we headed to Merton College, which was amazingly beautiful. They let you explore parts of the college for 2 pounds so we decided it was cool enough to check out. It was beautiful inside and everything was perfectly manicured. We then found a garden, which we believe we were not suppose to be in, but we explored anyway and it was so pretty. I decided I would totally go there for school if possible. It looked like Hogwarts, and was really old and beautiful.


We then headed to the Hostel, where again I was pleasantly surprised that it was rather nice inside. We had dinner and then were allowed a free night to do whatever we wanted. A couple of us decided to go back out and check out the pubs since there were more kids our age, it being a “college town”. We headed to the Kings Arms where Oxford students are known to hang out. A bunch were still dressed in their nice apparel of suits with coattails and top hats.

We were then shown a tavern that all the locals go to. It was hidden down a random street and we would have never found it as tourists. But a couple of students showed us where to go and it was so cool. It was a tiny place with super low ceilings that made me feel like a giant since I almost could hit my head. It was really neat to see where the students really hung out. (We went back the next day and took a photo)


The next day we woke up and toured the Bodleian Library which was amazingly beautiful. I could have sat in there for hours. It is a huge library and had some of the oldest volumes. Many of the books were in Latin and students who use the old part of the library are only allowed a pencil and their computer so they cannot destroy the books. They have to wash their hands in a special way and then they are allowed to carefully touch the book. This also is a place where Harry Potter was filmed. In the first area that we saw, the area where students graduate from, was what the film used as the infirmary in the movies. It is also where Maggie Smith teaches the students to dance for the Yule Ball in the fourth movie. The old part of the library is also what the movie bases the library in Harry Potter on.


After the tour we had lunch and left Oxford to go to the Kilns, about 20 minutes outside of Oxford. This was the home of C.S. Lewis. We had a tour of his old home and then went to the church where he attended and was buried. We saw his grave site and even the place where he used to sit in church. One of the ladies there was even able to tell us a couple of stories about him, since she was a little girl when C.S. Lewis lived there. In the church they even have a window dedicated to him that depicts scenes from Narnia, which is the window nearest to where he used to sit. Image

Overall it was an amazing trip and we saw and did a lot. As a class we had fun, but were definitely ready to head home to Bath! Tonight shall be fun as well, as we all attempt to do work while watching the football match.


28 Jun

Now, I have grown up with Football, or as we Americans call it, soccer (which every bartender, person in the bar, and basically anyone we all seem to encounter) makes fun of. I have found it is most exciting to watch in a huge group of people who are really invested in the game. Last night, about 8 of us went to one of the bars and ordered dinner and watched the Spain versus Portugal game. It was so exciting to be in the midst of all the extreme supporters, who were carrying their flags and chatting away in either Spanish or Portuguese. It is also nice knowing the game and all of the rules since most of the girls at ASE who were at the bar did not know. They kept asking, what is off-sides, or why did they just get a card, and I was able to help explain to them. Tonight we watched Italy versus Germany at home and it was still exciting, and I believe Sunday we will go out again for the final which should be an exciting and fun time.

Oh ya, I guess I should update about my classes too, since that is why I am here. This week we were working on Harry Potter in one class, which was unfortunately a bit of a disappointment. While today we did do really fun presentations, (my group presented on Racism in Harry Potter), the rest of the week we discussed very random and broad topics that I feel were not central to the stories. It was a bit of a let down, but I guess it was still fun to even be talking about Harry Potter in a classroom.

In Jane Austen today we visited Bristol in order to get a sense of the differences between there and Bath. It was interesting to see the stark contrast between the two places so close and yet so different. Bath is definitely an older looking city whereas Bristol you could definitely tell was more of a mix of the modern and old. As our Professor said, Bristol is the more “grimy” city compared to Bath which was more posh for Jane Austen’s time. Bristol was fun and interesting, but it was unfortunately very hot. In fact, I am pretty sure it was the hottest it has been at 70!!!!!! Plus on top of that it was super humid, just like the US normally is. That made the day not as fun as it could have been, but we still learned a lot.

Tomorrow we are off to Oxford for my Wonderlands class, so it should be an interesting and fun time! Can’t wait to let you know all about it. Until then.




25 Jun

Never did I think that I would take notes in class on things within Harry Potter. Today was the weirdest, yet most fun class I have had yet. It was so interesting to talk about one of my favorite book series in a class setting. While we are only discussing the third book, it was fascinating to hear what others had to say about it, and also how people responded to my thoughts about the Prisoner of Azkaban.Yet when actually taking notes, Danielle and I kept laughing and saying to each other how weird it was to have dementors as one of our notes and things about Sirius Black! Who would have ever thought that one of the books I have read numerous times could still be this exciting?

On another note for Harry Potter, today my two friends Sam and Danielle and I booked our bus and train tickets to get to London to go see the studios!!! So excited!! The best was our bus ride there was super cheap! I do not know if I can wait until July 8th now! I am so excited to see it. In addition this weekend is our class study trip where we will be going to Oxford to see a bunch of Harry Potter sites, as well as Alice in Wonderland sites. It should be a lot of fun and really interesting. I can’t wait to take tons of pictures and hopefully get a Oxford Rugby shirt!

Fun fact thought about Oxford, when their students take exams, they dress up in full suits and top hats. They then wear a carnation depending on which exam it is. A white flower is their first exam, while the pink carnation means it is one of the middle ones, and a red carnation signifies their last exam. I think that is kind of neat!