Friday, April 27, 2012

Spring Break Adventures!

Hello again! Other than travels over spring break, which I will discuss shortly, not much has happened since my last blog post over here on the other side of the pond. Rugby season has ended for me so I have been spending the rest of my time focusing on my studies. One day, though, I did go up to London for an interview with a PR firm and met up with my friends Marnie and Michelle for some drinks and dinner at a pub with Michelle's aunt! It was a lot of fun and nice to catch up with them and see them again.

Me with a Gibraltar monkey!
Now on to the good stuff. In England, spring break is known as Easter Break and is normally about a month long. Here at UEA it lasted for three weeks, giving me plenty of time to do some traveling. The first week I went on a class field trip to Gibraltar, a territory of England at the southern most point of Spain, and Ronda, Spain. Much to my delight it was quite a fun trip! In Gibraltar we had an academic day where people who worked at the museum gave us an overview about the culture of Gibraltar and its history, which was very interesting. We also took a trip up the infamous Gibraltar rock to see some of the tailless monkeys and to go inside St. Michael's Cave, a cave that was turned into an auditorium, and into the Siege Tunnels that were used during World War II. We also went down to Europa point, a point at Gibraltar where you can see both the Africa and Spain. It was hard to see when we went because it was very foggy and rainy, but nonetheless it was still cool. That night our professor took us all out for dinner (on Dickinson) to a buffet style Brazilian restaurant. The food was absolutely delicious! Afterwards we all went to a pub and met some locals, one of which plays for the Gibraltar rugby team. Just goes to show rugby follows me everywhere!

After going to Gibraltar, we went down to Ronda for a night. Ronda is absolutely beautiful: it has so many mountains and hills, not to mention the town is aesthetically pleasing in general with all of its white houses! That night we went to a Church to watch a Holy Week processional, where people where capes a and pointed masks to hide their identity and process throughout town with items and floats symbolizing Jesus and the hardships he faced. It was very spiritual and fascinating to watch.

After returning from Gibraltar and Ronda, I met up with my friend on the rugby team Katie and went to Paris for the weekend! We were only there for about two days in total, but still got a lot done. We saw all of the sites: the Moulin Rouge, Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre (and Mona Lisa, of course!),  Sacre Coeur, and Notre Dame, among others. We were there for Easter weekend and had the privilege of attending mass at Notre Dame on Easter morning. It was quite an experience, despite the fact the entire service was in French and neither of us speak a word of that language. Also in Paris we met up with my friend Nick from Dickinson who is studying there for the semester. He took us around for a bit before bringing us to the Seine River to hang out with his friends. It was a very fun evening and we got to wave at and have our picture taken by the tourists on the river cruises. The hostel we had in Paris was awesome as well, as it was more like living in a home than a hostel. We had two Chinese women, who are teaching Mandarin in England for the year at different locations, in our room and they were very nice to talk to. It was interesting hearing their perspective on England and the places they have traveled to. The hostel also provided us home cooked meals at Breakfast and Dinner, which were very delicious! Breakfast was a standard spread of bread, butter, jam, eggs, and fruit, but dinner was a different Korean meal each night. In the kitchen, everyone who was eating sat around a dinner table and ate together. This way, we got to get to know people who were living in the hostel. We met people from all around the world who were all in Paris for different reasons. It was surreal how many people of different races, nationalities, and ethnicities were all sitting at this table.

The team on the last day of Tour
After Paris, I went back to Norwich before heading off to Salou, Spain for tour! Tour is basically when sports teams from different universities across the UK go to a set location (Salou, in our case) and play their sport as well as go out at night. Obviously, I went with the women's rugby team. This week ended up being one of the best of my life! We did not play "proper" rugby, mostly playing friendly games of touch with other teams, but it was still fun. Every night we went out we dressed in fancy dress, as did the people from all of the teams, and we went out on the town. It was really fun because club entry was free so we could club hop as we chose and got to meet a lot of people from around the UK. It is definitely a week I will never forget!

Blurry, but Josh, Lottie, and I in Essex
Once I returned from Salou, I relaxed for a few days before taking a trip down to Southend in Essex to visit my friend Lottie on the team for the night. When I arrived she showed me around the town and brought me to the beach, where there is a GIANT amusement park, which she works at over the summer. Her parents cooked us a delicious meal for dinner when we got back to the house: roast chicken, cheese and onion quiche, roasted potatoes with garlic butter, bread and butter, salad, and rice pilaf, along with an ice cream bar for dessert. It all tasted amazing and it was very refreshing to have a proper home cooked meal, something I had not had the luxury of enjoying for awhile. That night we met up with our friend Nicky on the team at a local pub to catch up before going to a club with Lottie's friend Josh. The night was very fun overall, and I ended up meeting and making friends from UEA!

My trip to Essex was the last of my spring break adventures, and as you can see I was a very busy bee! Now I am beginning to prep for final exams, which start for me next Friday. I am very nervous about them because they count for 50% of my final grade, but hopefully with lots of preparation I will do well.