Monday, November 30, 2009
But my low expectations were blown out of the water. I loooved the city. I think I was always turned off my London because it didn't seem like it was much of a challenge. I always thought of it as big, commercial, English, predictable, and expensive. Lindsay and I decided to hit up London for Thanksgiving weekend a few weeks ago when Lauren and Christine (two girls we met on a pub crawl in Amsterdam) offered for us to crash on their floor. A weekend in London without paying for housing expenses? yes please!
So we were off! I was up at 4am on Thursday to make my 645 flight out of London. It was really easy to get to the tiny Belfast City Airport (flies around the UK), as the bus left every 20 minutes starting at 5am and was only 3 pounds roundtrip (awesome.). I passed out on the hour long flight, and I landed at Gatwick airport at about 8. I then took the National Express bus from Gatwick to Victoria Station in London. The trip from the airport to downtown on this bus is about an hour and a half. It's by far the longest method to get into downtown, but it is also by far the cheapest (about 14 pounds roundtrip i think?). Anyways, once I got to Victoria, I headed for the tube to meet Lindsay's train at St. Pancras station (where her train from Paris was arriving).
We met at the "meeting point statue"- a huge statue meant to symbolize the romanticism of traveling. cute london.
After a successful meet up, we now had to figure out where the heck we were gonna do and what we were gonna do. It was about noon at this point, and Christine was in classes until 5pm. We could've explored the town a bit, but Lindsay had a ton of luggage that prevented us from doing very much. We decided to head down to Camden town (where Christine and Lauren live) and stop in at any cafes along the way.
We ended up spending about 3 hours in this one place called the Eco Cafe. They served up a mean sweet potato with grilled veggies, which was the closest thing to a Thanksgiving-ish lunch that I could find. Before the Eco Cafe, we went to this other British restaurant called The Crescent which pretty much sucked. We split a cranberry and brie sandwich (again trying to find something thanksgivingy), but we were not satisfied. The Eco Cafe was a cool spot. It had free Wifi so Lindsay and I got on her netbook and watched a live stream of the Macys Day Parade all afternoon. We also skyped our fams to say happy holidays. The owner of the cafe thought we were nuts.
So 5 o'clock rolled around soon enough. We made our way over to the UCL dorm, that was right near the Camden Town Markets...a very cool area of London. After dropping our bags off in Christine's room and mingling for a bit, Lindsay and I headed to the grocery store to get all the necessities for a makeshift Thanksgiving feast. We had a very dirty/poorly supplied kitchen to work with, so we couldn't do anything too extravagant. We ended up with some sliced deli turkey, instant gravy/mashed potatoes, rolls, the worst instant stuffing in the world, and some CRUMPETS for dessert. Check us out.
Post "Thanksgiving" it was party time. Ndu, one of the American kids from Harvard that we were visiting, is a club promoter in London this semester, so he invited us along to the "Club Neon" for the night. After some significant pre gaming (hell no am I paying for drinks in London), we headed across town. I have no idea where this club was, but it was far. It was also freeeeeezing, and I was not wearing a jacket because someone had told me that no one was going to (and nowwwww I am sick today, I deserve it I guess). So yes, the night was very fun. London nightlife definitely goes way later than Beantown, and we were back at Christine's around five. Lindsay and I both fell happily asleep on Christine's floor, using our jeans as pillows and jackets as blankets. Gotta love traveling on a budget :)
The next day we were supposed to wake up for an 11am walking tour but that did NOT happen. We eventually rolled out of bed (floor?) at around 11, slowly got dressed, ate, and headed out for our own self guided adventure in Londontown. We took a bus down to Trafalgar Square then got out and just walked around. We covered a bunch of ground, eventually crossing the river and ending up at the Tate Modern Museum. It was pretty much one of the best art museums I've been to. They had a diverse collection of modern art, and the whole thing was free! We ended up spending a good few hours there until we decided that we were starving and had to move on.
We crossed back over the Thames to find a pub that would get Lindsay some fish N chips and me some quality beer (we all have our priorities). At first we stopped by the Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese, which was sick. This pub was over 400 years old, the only one in the area to survive the great London fire (whenever that was). One of the bars in the place was even still serving gentlemen only (the bartender was female though haha). We wanted to stay here but we were too early for dinner and didn't feel like waiting around. We crossed the street and ended up grabbing some grub and beers at The Punch Tavern, which was perfect. I had the Hobgoblin handpulled ale, which may just be one of my favorites of all time now. Lindsay preferred the Hooky Bitter, and I ended up having that as my second one so that I could have a variety. Lindsay got the most kickass fish n chips I have ever seen, and I got the crabcakes. Yeah, crabcakes may not be the most famously british meal, but I haven't had them in forever and seemed like the most appealing thing at the time. They were great.
After dinner and good conversation with some London lads, we headed back to Lauren's place in Camden. We were beat from the night before and the day full of walking. The 3 of us ended up watching Love Actually until sleep. How cute.
After a less than enjoyable night of sleeping on the floor with no pillows or blankets (again), Lindsay and I were up and at 'em and ready for our 11am walking tour on Sunday. Danny, a guy visiting Ndu for the weekend (another Harvard kid), decided to join us. The tour was great: free, funny, informative, covered a good amount of ground. Only downfall: IT WAS FREEZING. I dunno what happened but it really turned into winter in Europe this past weekend. It's been pretty cool for a few months, but just recently it became downright terrible. The tour covered Buckingham Palace, St. James Palace, Pall Mall Street, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and other places along the way. After it was done we searched desperately for a hot drink/food. We ended up finding one cute little cafe and then proceeded on to O'NEILLS PUB to really get warmed up.
After each enjoying a good Irish Winter drink, the 3 of us met up with Christine and Lauren at the Hyde Park Christmas Market. London really knows how to go all out for Christmas. The market resembled Oktoberfest in its cute German way, but was way more holiday inspired. There was a moose singing christmas songs, dozens of stalls selling gifts, and even more stalls selling food and hot drinks. Mulled wine was the hit of the evening, and I plan on finding a good homemade recipe asap. We walked around the market for a while, but it started to rain so we decided it was time to find some better coverage. We headed over to Leicester Square and ended up settling on a Mexican restaurant that looked pretty popular. The food was bomb. I had veggie fajitas, while the others got burritos and chimichangas. Holy food comas after that. We decided to top off the evening by hopping around to a few different pubs in the area. I had to get up at 530 the next day to make my bus for the airport so we weren't out too late. Overall, it was just a really fun, chill evening around downtown.
So yes! Thats my little London recap. Ive been typing on the computer all day so sorry if the grammar/typos got worse as that entry went on. My eyes are killing me from looking at the screen.
Now I'm in the homestretch. I land back in boston 3 weeks from yesterday, and in that time I have 4 papers to accomplish
-the expansion of microbial genomic and metagenomic data in recent years has had a profound impact on our understanding of microorganisms and their interaction with the environment. Discuss
-discuss the advancements in plant genomics made in the 21st century. Discuss the hurdles the field must overcome in the next 10 years
- Critically assess Hegel's view of the connection between history and reason
-Monoclonal antibodies: How the answer to a theoretical question led to practical tools. Discuss.
Just gotta do about 10 pages for each of those topics then DONEZO. 3 weeks is probably a fair amount of time to get that done, it just means no more fun and games. It's okay- im too poor for that anyway.
Oh yesss, and I registered for classes for the spring. I am officially taking the easiest semester in history
-parasitology & lab (sounds hard but I've had the professor before, basically girls get As.)
-International affairs and globalization (easy freshman level class that i need to complete my IAF minor)
-Statistical Thinking (probably easiest math class offered at Northeastern, but I need it for genetics grad school so there ya go)
-Beethoven (should be cool/easy, and it fulfills my humanities biology requirement)
Okay, this post has been a pretty good way to procrastinate. Back to worrrrk
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Not to mention, people really really really don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. haha. I figured it would be like a US celebrating Cinco de Mayo kinda thing (it's not our holiday but hey its an excuse to have a party so why not?) but nope. Only the few American kids here I know even recognize that it's tomorrow. Odd for sure.
Anyways, I'm super glad I'm heading out to London tomorrow with some fun people or else I'd probably be pretty down in the dumps. Lindsay and I will find turkey sandwiches and indulge on the London Eye. Or Something. :)
SOOO YES. I think I will now take the time to have my own little sentimental Thanksgiving moment because it's my blog and I can do what I want.
Not necessarily in ant particular order, but more or less so I guess
Not to be cliche putting this first and foremost, but it is the almighty truth. Anyone who knows my family, knows how incredibly close we all are. I'm not in any position to go comparing us to any other family, but I would say that not only are my mom, dad, jack, and I related by blood, but we are best friends. Jack and I are now at the age where there isn't a lot that we don't talk about in front of our parents. I think that is the mark of a great upbringing. I am very proud of Jack and myself, and the things we have accomplished.. even if they are very different. My parents have taught us to not measure our success by grades or money, but by how happy and challenged we are in gaining that success. Not only is my family fun, but I couldn't ask for more supportive and caring people in my life. Being abroad has made me realize just how much my time and effort my parents and willing to put into keeping in contact and making sure that I'm doing okay. I miss them more and more everyday. The 4 of us have not been together for just about 11 months now, and I know seeing them at the airport will be phenomenol :)
Not only am I thinking about my direct family today, but also of my extended family. In recent years, I've become more connected with my cousins, aunts, and uncles dispersed all around the US. We're all coming into adulthood now and are sharing a much deeper bond than ever before. Spending New Years on Marco with some of the O'Neill aunt and uncles will be a wild time, and I cannot wait. Christmas Eve at Grandpa Dick's is always a yearly highlight as well. So yes. That said. Cheers to the fam :)
I have the best friends in the world. donezo. I could finish this segment right there. Whether it's someone I talk to everyday or someone I only talk to once every few months, I feel like we are all a closeknit family no matter what distance we are apart. A lot of the kids here that I've met don't have friendships at home like the ones that I do. I'm constantly talking about people at home and referring to them as "one of my best friends...so and so", and a lot of people can't understand how I can consider so many as "my best". I don't know if it makes it easier or harder during holidays like this to know that I have such a strong foundation back at home, but I really do appreciate it. Whether youre someone I met in elementary, middle, high school, college, camp sargent, coop, china, israel, ireland, florida, new england, or anywhere in between I wish you could ALL be here in Ireland with me :) Seee youu sooooon.
not just my health, but the health of the people around me. and not just physical health- but mental and emotional too.
The past few months I've become particularly health conscious, and I've felt better than I ever have in my life. This is the first year in my life that I haven't tried to diet to change the way I am, but instead I've just taken on a whole different way of living. I overall eat better quality, balanced, colorful food... work out because I like to not because I feel like I have to... take the time to relax.. and push myself to achieve things that I never thought I could. A year ago it was a struggle to run a mile and now I am comfortably running 5 (minus the whole knee ordeal). I don't crave things like fastfood, but find really exotic and interesting meals to be the best indulgence. If there's a great desert out there, I'll eat it, and not regret it. I'm also grateful for other aspects of my health- such as having all 5 senses. Losing any one of them- sight, touch, smell, taste, hearing would be devasting, and I love being able to experience the world for what it has to offer.
I've seen a lot of the world this year. And I've seen a lot of crazy things that man could never dream of reproducing. We live on one cool flipping planet, that far too many people take for granted. I'm not talking about recycling more or worrying about global warming, but just taking the time to slow down and look at what nature's got to offer. From the jagged Yellow mountains in China to the alien Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland to the giant redwood trees in the western US to the woods in my own backyard, I don't think I could pick a favorite. The best things I've seen this year have been outside, and I am thankful that I have the time and energy to enjoy every second that I can of it.
Whether its Bob Dylan, Lady Gaga, Hillstomp, Debussy, Coltrane, JUSTICE, the Dandy Warhols, or Joff Cleveland... I don't care. I love music and the way it makes me feel. I have something on my Ipod for just about every occasion and mood. You will hardly ever find me studying without Jack Johnson, running without Timbaland, driving without Dave Matthews Band, or walking to class without Miles Davis. When I feel homesick, I listen to tracks of my brother playing guitar and I feel like I'm home again. When my brain is completely fried from reading genetics papers, I can listen to top 40 trash and feel like a fun person again. I love how certain songs can bring you back to a moment.
"Good Vibrations" ...Tampa spring break 2007
"Superstition" ...Deval Patrick's campaign in 2006
"Wannabe" ...making up dances with Abbey Feloney in 4th grade
"3rd movement of Beethoven's 5th" ...watching my parents put presents under the christmas tree when I was probably 5 years old
I guess there's not much else to say, but that I am very grateful for this form of expression and how it's kept me such good company this year.
6.) Financial Security
There's not a lot I want to say about this, but a lot has happened this fall that has made me very thankful for the life I have been provided. I have seen the poorest of the poor this year, people living in conditions that I could never begin to fathom living in every single day. Although the economy has been shaky at home, and both my parents have had close calls with their job security, I know that we will never end up in a rut that we couldn't get out of. I know that I live a comfortable life, and although I try to work as hard as I can to support myself, I am fully appreciative of what is provided for me. Getting my full scholarship was a tremendous relief, and it has taught me that working hard and being passionate will pay off somehow or another.
7.) The United States
I am thankful for Barack Obama. I remember when Olga said this at a Thanksgiving party last year, and I wholeheartedly agree. Yes there is much to be skeptical about with his progress, just as there would be with any president one year into his term. However, Obama has sparked an interest in politics for a generation who had little hope about the future. The world is talking to America again and willing to listen. I have met many people from dozens and dozens of countries, and even if they are not the biggest fans of the United States, they still have a respect for how our leader is trying to improve the future with confidence, intelligence, and grace. Aside from Obama alone, I am also thankful to be a citizen of the US. I am thankful that I can vote, that I can choose my occupation, that I can choose my husband, that I can attain a quality education, that I can have friends of different races religions and sexual orientations, that I can run for office, that I can choose to read from a variety of newspapers, that I can travel, that I can climb the economic ladder, that I have liberty
The past few "thankfuls" have been pretty global, but this one comes right back to home. I love my dogs. Bode is a friend like no other. He knows when I'm sad, when I'm happy, when I'm excited, when I'm lazy. He is the goofiest, blockiest, clumsiest dog I know. Maddie is a breed of her own..literally. Although she takes a lot of crap, she's still the sweetest girl...once you get on her good side. I love how my dogs have personalities. I love that they keep my parents company when Jack and I are gone. I love that when I walk in the door, no matter how long I've been gone (2 months in China or 20 minutes to the grocery store), they both act like they haven't seen me in years.
So I was going to go to 10, but I'm beyond exhausted. I have to be up at 4 (IN FOUR HOURS HAAAAA) to catch my flight to LONDON :D
however if i did have to do the last two they'd probably be....gravity...and...beer. Can you blame me? See, no explanation needed anyway.
I hope everyone has the greatest of Thanksgivings. I'll be thinking of you all!
ps- i know i half-assed the pictures on this post, i'll fix it after London, but no time to finish it now!
Monday, November 23, 2009
I’m going to go ahead and boldly state that anyone who ever travels to
Let the weekend recap begin.
So Jenn was my trusty travel companion for the adventure. For those of you who don’t know, this is the girl who was down to travel to
So I haven’t seen much of Jenn since our bender in
The bus ride from
Then the real adventure began. Usually it takes about 3hours 15 minutes to get from
Anyways, we eventually did get to the adorable city of
By this time it was about 4pm, and we were ready for dinner. It was pretty early, but we had been on busses with no food all day. Olga’s roomie recommended the fish n’ chips at The Quays pub, which was conveniently located right across from our hostel! Jenn got the fish n chips, and I got the Shepherds pie. We splitsied a little bit, and it was probably the best Irish meal I’ve had so far. Comfort food at its finest. A peculiar fellow named Neal or Ethan (we decided to just call him Nealthan) sat down with us and talked some hardcore American politics. Nealthan was a strange fellow, he was about 50 years old, lived with his parents, and knew just about everything there is to know about American politics and history. When he realized Jenn and I were American, he got all excited and said “now I have something that you will reallllly appreciate”, and pulled Paul Krugman’s latest book out of his bag. Cool Nealthan.
After an exhausting conversation about real estate costs, wall street, obama, renewable energy, gold, and
Jenn had been to
The next day I woke up to the sounds of pouring rain. This was terrible for 2 reasons.
1) I really wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher that day and seeing it in the rain was not ideal.
2.) Many people had warned us that rain would make the floods worse, and we could potentially get stuck in
We went down to talk to the hostel lady, and she suggested that we do the half day tour to the Cliffs of Moher to ensure that we made it back in time to catch a bus. We decided to roll with this plan and just figure out any speedbumps that camp up in the meantime. We grabbed a quick traditional Irish breakfast at the An Pucan pub (fried egg, baked beans, sausage, bacon, French fries…I wasn’t a huge fan but it was definitely good fuel for the day).
As soon as the bus tour started, the clouds broke apart into the most gloriously sunny day. The first leg of the bus tour was through the green rolly hills of the burren. Lots of livestock, lots of little stone walls, lots of useless information learned about straw and soil composition of the irish countryside. We had a tourguide named Billy who knew just about everything there is to know about everything. Billy was not a man of few words, and he garrulously filled the entire 6 hour tour with useless facts.
After the Burren came the most anticipated event of the weekend: the cliffs of moher! As soon as we arrive, the sunny day disappeared and was replaced by gods wrath. We were standing on the Cliffside with hurricane winds, pelting rain and hail, lightning, and thunder. It was pretty exciting. We tried to take pictures in these elements, but soon took shelter in the gift shop until things blew over. About ten minutes later, everything was glorious once again. That’s
I can’t emphasize enough how glad I am that I got to go here. I loved looking at the pictures of my aunts and uncles next to the Cliffs at my grandma’s house on Marco as I kid. Going here has always been one of my life goals, and now I’ll just have to make it a goal to return with my family.
After the cliffs, the bus took a coastal route back to
As soon as we arrived back in Galway, we hopped on the 6pm bus to
Now for my
So we got back to the hostel around midnight to crash. We had to be up by 7am to get Jenn to the airport on time for her flight, and we both needed a good nights sleep.
Minutes after falling asleep, these two wild Austrian girls come stumbling back after a night out at the Temple Bar. After taking a little while to finally settle down in their beds, one of the girls stares making little whining noises in her bed. This girl already had a voice similar to that of
In the meantime, I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. A guy sleepin in a bed near me looks at me with an “are you seriousssssss” look on his face and then hides in a tent of blankets. I do the same. Things are a little better in my blanket tent, but the snoring going on the room keeps sleep from happening.
About a half hour later, around 4am, 2 American boys come stumbling into the room with a 12 pack, turn on every light, and try to start a frat party in our little hostel home. The Austrian girls, yes even the pukey one, wake up and decide this is a great idea. I hide in my tent out of sheer exhaustion and just decide to wait it out. I fell in and out of sleep for the next hour and when I woke up at 6, they had all passed out in their respective beds..the room smelling of vom, flowers, and guinness. Yummy.
That just about wraps up the wild weekend to
All in all…awesome weekend. I loved it and am sososo glad that I went J
Now I’m trying to get massive amounts of work done before my trip to
I’m trying not to think abut how much I wanna be at home for Thanksgiving because it is one of my all time favorite weekends of the year.
Right now I’m skyping with Olga, she’ll kill me for this. CHEEESE!
And olga’s mama sent me cookies in the mail!!!
Home in 27 days. I really am loving it here, but I've really grown to appreciate what I don't have here with me
That’s all : )
um oh ya. im sure there are 10 trillion typos in this post. when i write long posts i tend to just type and not self edit whatsoever (even though i really dont do it much ever anyway). in conclusion, im not fixing it so dont judge. peeeace