Monday, 21 May 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Twenty Extra Pounds

BA Word of the Day:  Greenwich. If you said it 'green-witch', you said it wrong. It's said 'grennich'. Southwark is not 'south-wark', it's 'suthark'. Quays is not said how it looks like it should be said, it's said 'keys'. Yea, the Brits are messed up ;)

The Bad:  So, we got a delivery of toilet paper, but none of it got placed in the toilets (mind you this was over a week ago). I don't understand what the problem is. Just replenish the toilet paper every day, Britannia and cleaners. It's not that expensive and not that big a deal.
Not really in any category of Good or Bad:  I went to Greenwich the other day. It was alright. I went there to check out the market, in fear that I would take a two hour bus ride for something that isn't much different from what I could see nearer to home... and I was right. So destined to make the trip worth it, I started walking around the area to see what there was to do. I ended up walking into Old Royal Naval College and found these really beautiful buildings open to the public, for free (I love London).
The Good:  And might I say it was just a stinkin' beautiful day! Hehehe. But yea, I just kinda walked around. Ok, don't hate me for this, but I have now been to Greenwich twice, and I have never paid to go into the Observatory to see the 0 degrees line thingy. It doesn't break my heart that I have never seen it or anything, but yea. Greenwich can go on the list of good.

The Good:
This is where the American's have to enter Tower of London at  ;) >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
The Hilariously Good:  Last Sunday, I got to go to Speakers Corner. I have absolutely no idea why I waited until my last Sunday in London to do this. This is probably the best free entertainment I have gotten in London (other than the two ladies fighting at the bus stop and holding up two buses because one claimed that the other was hitting her in the back of the leg with a baby buggy and the other was apparently hitting the other with an umbrella, but that's beside the point).
There were people talking about all kinds of stuff. Religion, politics, attempting to justify or disprove every little thing. And let me tell you, the Americans are the worst about going to Speakers Corner. One Islamic guy was talking about the multiple wives thing and trying to explain it to this lady (American) and she ended up aggressively calling him a pervert and walking away. Really, lady? Speakers Corner is about debating and learning, not getting into a huff about everything and getting mad and walking away. The reason that people come to Speakers Corner is to be heard. All you have to do is ask a question, and you will be there for an hour easily. I tried to explain why I am a Christian and why I believe in Christianity to a couple of Islamic guys, and no one was going to convince the other of anything different than what they believed, so I figured I would just listen. It's amazing what you learn when you decide to just listen.
The Good:  I got to see Wicked. Front and Center. Uh, yea. While it was an excellent show, I feel bad for anyone that has to stand near the wicked witch (Elphaba) because she spits a lot when she sings. But hey, if I had a voice like hers, I wouldn't give a crap if I spit all over the stage! I sat next to an Australian girl that was on holiday, and she was hilarious! It was just a great show, great night, just great.
Oh yea, hey Ashley, I finally found the Coach store in London! But I most definitely did not buy anything, considering they are an American company and prices will be jacked up.
The Extra Twenty Pounds:  So, I booked a ticket to Les Mis on the Wednesday after I saw Wicked. I went running around Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square and all that before the showing that night. I got there and the lady couldn't find my ticket. Turns out I booked for the matinee showing. She was really nice and ended up selling me a stalls ticket for 20 pounds (usually 45 pounds). So it ended up being even because I paid 25 pounds for the ticket to the matinee.

The Bad:  The guy sitting next to me at Les Mis got on his phone. I was tempted to grab it out of his hand and throw it into the aisles. Seriously, who gets on their phone in Les Mis?!?

The Good:  On Friday, a few of my friends and I ended up going to this Night of Museums thing, where the museums stay open later than usual. We got to do a scavenger hunt through the museums at University of Central London, which are really interesting collections. We ended up having a lot of fun, even though we only made it to UCL and the British Museum.

The Bad:  I walked in front of a fertility doll at one of the museums. Eek!

Next blog will be about my weekend that I just got back from in Stratford Upon Avon! And it will be within the next 24 hours! Yay!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Stonehenge, Bath, Immersive Theatre, and Clear Cough Syrup

BA Word of the Day:  car bonnet. A car bonnet is the hood of a car. The British students say this phrase "On it like a car bonnet" and for a very long time, I lived in ignorance of its meaning. And thus, I assimilate further into the British culture.

 Hello again! I kept the promise I made about posting within a week (as the clock passes midnight). I would like to take a moment to shout out to Blogspot. Thank you for taking forever to load pictures. You gave me enough time to clean my room AND play a game of solitaire. Oh, and thank you for making the blogging process go from what could have been 30 minutes of writing and done to over an hour of writing, repositioning pictures so that you will let me write where I want to write, and subsequent frustrated cursing at my computer.

I finally go to go to Stonehenge (or anywhere in the UK outside of London for that matter) and it was quite an interesting experience! Let's go through a list of things that I learned:
1. The stones are mostly from west Wales
2. People are buried around it (if you can see the mounds in the photo below against the yellow field backdrop, those are where they are buried)
3. It was built in three phases across 1500 years.
 And that is all I remember. I spent most of the time cutting up with an Australian girl that I sat next to on the bus. I also spent a fair amount of time on my Facebook (in photo captions) pondering how funny it would be if they just built Stonehenge for no good reason. Seriously though, what if it had no historical, scientific, or religious meaning? Just in case you didn't know, and I'm pretty sure this is fact, Stonehenge was repositioned within the last century. For what reason or the total truth behind all of it, I don't know. But it makes me want to say "What if people just haphazardly brought a bunch of stones from west Wales over here for no good reason at all?" Of course, I don't think this is true, but it's funny to ponder if it were to be true.

Oh and there were a bunch of cute little sheepies!

Ok, so I quizzed my Facebook friends on what the yellow crop in the background of the pictures at Stonehenge was. And I promised I would reveal the answer in my next blog post. Some of the guesses were mustard, "Non GMO corn", and flowers... all of which are wrong, although mustard was a close guess. The yellow crop is called rapeseed and is used to produce canola oil. Yea ok that was a tough one, but I just wanted to see if anyone would guess it right. It is one of those things that your tour guide tells you on a trip and everyone goes "Ohhhhhh" all at the same times.
 And then we went for a lovely drive in the English countryside to...
 Bath. Established by the Romans a long time ago. Rebuilt in the inspiration of Rome by I don't remember who. It has a pretty abbey, Bath Abbey in fact, pictured left. It looks a lot like the duomos of Italy. Jane Austen once lived in Bath... and hated it. She was a spinster type of woman and hated all of the gossipy better-than-everyone-else people that had there vacation homes there. Actually, Nicolas Cage had a home there (not when Jane Austen lived there, obviously). But yes, Bath was a quite beautiful little tourist trap town.
 We went into the Roman Baths Museum. I like to take pictures of goofy people doing goofy poses at tourist places so that I can secretly make fun of them. These poor people want everyone to think that they are going to dive into that gross Bath water. It smelled kinda funny (I guess because it has sulfur in it or something. That's what they told us.)
 So, the people that established Bath worshipped the goddess Minerva. They would write these requests on metal paper or sorts and throw it into the spring. Most of the requests (yes, the archaeologists found some and can read them apparently) were for Minerva to punish someone that has done wrong to them. Anyways, pictured left is the head from the statue they built for her.

This is me next to the smelly Bath water

This is the only Baskin Robbins I have seen since I came over to Europe. I don't know why I felt the need to share that with you, but I have.
And this is the first Whole Foods store I have seen while over here. I took this for you Yvonne! It was in Camden Town. For some reason, when I get off the bus to go to Camden Market, I always go down the wrong road. But today that was a good thing since I got to see this.
 For my last theatre class, we went to the V&A Museum, which is free, so I can go there any time. The performing arts gallery is pretty cool. They had a rhinoceros costume from a show we talked about in class. They also had an outfit that Mick Jagger wore once for a performance. It was kinda cool.
 The gem of the day, though, was the last performance we got to see. It was an immersive theatre experience of the show Babel at Caledonian Park (which is right down the road in comparison to other venues). I don't really know the story of Babel. It's biblical and it talks about the time when everyone spoke the same language and they built this tower but were forced to move away from it. I'm not going to try to explain something I don't know, so I will just walk you through my immersive theatre experience.
 So we went into the park and started walking around. There were cast members all along the path doing various things like washing their feet, watching tv while drinking a beer, a guy waiting on his date to show up, a guy feeding birds, all kinds of things. And these were happening along this path in the woods. You could pretty well get as close as you wanted to them. Then you come to the clearing in the park near the tower. There are tents with food and drink, as well as tents and stages that have to do with the performance. I went into a tent and ended up sitting in a circle learning an African song. There was a live band, people singing, people dancing, massages, I'm talking all kinds of stuff. There were also a bunch of stick houses next to the tower. Then the show begins. All of the people that you saw along the path are asked to move their homes and they don't want to. One family decides it will not move. The husband gets taken away into the tower, one of the security guards helps him get out, and that's pretty much the end. It was really cool though. It's as if you are part of the crowd of people that is being asked to move their homes. I even found myself shouting along with them a couple of times. Actually, I followed our professor onto one of the stages, although we found out that only performers were supposed to be there. My advice to you after this experience:  If you are in a city that is having an immersive theatre performance, get tickets and go. It was incredible.

 Other than that, I have just been doing typical uni student stuff. And I have some beef to put on here. There are things I can get used to. A small room, a small kitchen, living at the top of a hill, I can get used to those things. I can never get used to shower water that goes from freezing cold to burning hot with the flush of a toilet, people turning off the light when I am in the shower, and most of all, no toilet paper.

When you say that things like toilet paper are provided, not only should the cleaners restock it as needed, but they should also leave some in the maintenance closets for when they forget to order it. But leaving a building without toilet paper and require students to buy their own/steal it when you actually do restock it is not okay. If you are a study abroad student coming to London, do not stay at Greenview Court and do not stay with Britannia Student Services. I hope they have Google Alerts and see this. Thank you for reading my rant. It makes me feel better.
 Okay, back to my happy place. A few other firsts occurred. I found my first box top! I bought a different kind of cereal and was happily surprised! So a lucky young lady (Anne Hassfurder) will get to turn in a box top all the way from London when I see her again! I know, silly, but it's the little things that count.
Also a first for me. I'm coming down with a bit of a cold (no, that's not the first that I'm talking about) and I had to buy some cough syrup. When I opened it, I started to dread what it might taste like and such. To my surprise, when I poured it into the cap, it was clear. Clear cough syrup?!? I've always seen it in red or blue. Additionally, it didn't taste as horrible as other cough syrups I have had.

So, my boyfriend will be here in 12 day! I'm very excited. We have started planning the things we will do once he gets here.I have half a paper to write and some things to finish up for my internship class. Other than that, the 'study' part of my study abroad is almost over. I'm dreading the fact that I will have to go home in about three weeks and leave all of my lovely friends :( But no time to think about that now! Too much fun to be had! I'm not sure what kind of fun, but if I can make box tops and clear cough syrup fun, I'm sure it won't be too hard to find something. Until next time, Cheers!

Friday, 4 May 2012

I'm a Lazy Bum that Hasn't Posted in Three Weeks. I Know

BA Word of the Day:  Chunder. It means puke. Vomit. Regurgitate. You know.

 I haven't been chundering or anything. Just a good word to know lol. So... I hope everyone has been doing well. Yea, I didn't post for three weeks. I figured if I am going to procrastinate on coursework, why not procrastinate on everything? Sorry bout that! PS, do you ever notice that when you are procrastinating, you develop a vicious pattern? For instance, I always change environments. Example:  "Oh, maybe if I leave my room I will be less destracted." *Gets distracted in tv room* Oh, maybe if I go back to my room/the office/back to the tv room/the hallway/someone else's room..." See what I mean? I finally found a place in the library that I like. I wrote a paper there in six hours. Mainly because I didn't have a choice lol.

Anyways, I did a couple of fun things. For instance, I got to see a soccer match! My friend Connor and I got to see an Arsenal match. Their stadium is right behind London Met.
By the way, it has been raining here a lot. I guess we are entering the rainy season I don't know. But, where there is rain, there are rainbows! Like this pretty one outside the Castle window.
 I also went on a tour through the National Theatre(s). Which was really really cool. One of the theatres, the Olivier, has this massive turning drum thing to where the set that is on stage can sink into this drum or turn the set to show the other side. Sadly, we didn't get to see the below stage part of it :( but I went on a lovely walk down Southbank and saw this wicked cool cafe along the way.
 By the way, charities over here in the UK do some crazy things to get the word out and get donations. It was cold and raining and this guy was still out there hoping people would toss coins off Southbank to donate to whatever his cause was. Charity workers are always outside of the grocery store that I shop at hoping people will register to donate to them.
 And I got to go to the circus for the first time in my whole life (from what I remember). When I was little, I wanted to be in the circus. I could juggle and ride a unicycle and everything. After actually seeing a circus.... the dream has officially been rejuvenated.
 And I got my hair cut (the reason I say this now is because I think you can kinda see it in this picture. This night I went to bingo. Bingo in the UK is completely different than in the US. First, it's cheaper. $15 when I went in the US. Two pounds when I went here. Second, there is no BINGO with divisions of 15 on the cards. There are about 6 games per page in the UK, three rows on each game, with the numbers in divisions of ten up to 90. The numbers one through ten, 11 through 20, you get the picture, are divided among the six games (so no repeats) leaving blanks on the board. There are three rounds per sheet:  One full row, two full rows and coverall (within one of the six games). They have just local cards being played for a local prize and then they have a national card. If you complete a coverall on the national card in fewer turns than other people playing across the nation, then you win over 20,000 pounds! And guess what. Some lady won the 20,000 at the place we were playing at in Camden! Then we decided to ride Boris bikes to The Rocket, a bar near Euston station, which doesn't run very smooth with ten people, but was still a lot of fun!
 I also went to Notting Hill and Portobello Market. Portobello was nice (but not as cool as Camden Market :)) It was a quiet and cute neighborhood as well.
 Today I decided to go to Leadenhall Market, which was used in a few movies (namely Harry Potter). Leadenhall is much smaller than expected. I think I walked across it in, oh, about 20 seconds.
 Then I decided that if the old Routemaster showed up before the bus I needed to take to get home, then I was going to get on it and ride it to the end and figure out what I would do next. If you look to the right, you can see a bus in the background, that's the bus I was supposed to take home. Hehehe it was fate to go on an adventure!
 The route ended at Trafalgar Square, so I decided to go to Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus. PS only 84 more days until the Olympics... that I won't be in London for.

I got to go into Hamley's, the huge toy store, as well. It was pretty fun just walking around overall. I was exhausted when I got home.

So, a few things I'm looking at doing before I leave. I was going to go to Dublin, but I decided that Dublin wouldn't be as fun without friends to go with, so I found an alternative. Instead, I will be spending the money I would have spent on the Dublin trip on theatre tickets for musicals. I already have a ticket booked for Le Mis, and I still have money for three more. I'm thinking Phantom of the Opera, Lion King, and Wicked, but I'm not 100%, so put your ideas in the comments list. This week, I will get to go to an immersive theatre experience where the audience makes the choice of which characters to follow. I'm not sure how else to explain it, but I'm very excited!

Another thing I wanted to do while I was over here and just didn't do was visit some temples and mosques and learn about other religions firsthand from people that actually practice them, which is something I really don't have much of an opportunity to do in little ole Indiana. So, today, I contacted places of different religions that I thought would be cool to visit. Just the idea that all of these religions exist and have a presence in London is baffling! Here is the list of religions I have asked to visit/learn about/go to a service/etc.

North London Buddhist Center
Shaolin Temple (which is meant to be some sort of martial arts taught by monks...)
Regent's Park Mosque
Krishna Temple Soho (which is one I am really excited about)
London Jewish Cultural Center
Hindu Academy
The  Jain Center London
Central Gurdwara (Sikhism)
Pagan Federation (yes, I asked if I could go to a Pagan ritual. A little nervous about this one)
World Zoroastrian Organization

So I hope I will hear back from some of these places soon. Only 17 more days until Zach (my boyfriend) gets to join the adventures. I'm not sure specifically about the next adventures, but I will definitely write in less than a week (hold me to it, readers!) Until next time, Cheers!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Back from Break... And Dragging Along a Little

BA Word of the Day:  You alright? (and similar variations). So, when I got to the UK and got to know everyone that I live with, someone asked "Are you alright?" and I got really insecure all of the sudden. My reply was, "Yes, I'm alright. Does it seem like something's wrong?" The phrases "You alright?" or "You ok?" or other similar expressions simply mean How's it going?, What's up?, How have you been?, etc. The biasedness of the question does make me giggle when I think about it sometimes, though.

And it was the one major culture shock moment when coming back to the UK. Along with all of the drunk people that I rode the bus with Thursday at 2am when I finally made it back to London. And the whole driving on the wrong side of the road. Why why why why why? No other European countries that I went to do it. But I am very happy to be back in London :)

I've been avoiding this blog post a little because I figured I would either have to do a post for each of the places that I went or one massive post. So... I'm going to attempt to give you the short version of what happened on Easter break. Then I will be doing a second post as a bit of a diary post on some reflections on being in London and traveling since there are less than 50 days until I come home... scary, I know!

My Easter Break Trip

Friday 30 March:  Left the Castle (where I live) at about 11am. Tube to Baker Street to catch a 1pm bus to London Stansted Airport. Got lost because I have never been to Baker Street before. Lost my airport security virginity to the lady security officer that gave me a very thorough pat down. Landed in Frankfurt Hahn Airport at around 5pm; took another hour long airport transfer bus, then a public transportation bus to my hotel for the night. Got there at around 11pm.
And this was my awesome hotel room!>>>

 Saturday 31 March:  Took the bus to meet Chelsea (roommate from last semester, good friend of mine) in Frankfurt at an Irish pub... Yes, I ate at an Irish pub on the one day in Germany. It was an easy meeting place and it was amazingly delicious.

A protest about federal taxation was going on right where we were at, so we decided to just hang out at Frankfurt central train station before our bus to Frankfurt Hahn.
 Lots and lots of waiting. Made it to Venice Treviso around 10pm. 

Stayed in a small hotel across the street from the airport.

 Sunday 1 April: Chelsea and I went to Verona to meet up with her friends that were in Milan.

We visited Juliet's balcony. You know, from the movie Letters to Juliet. Yea... the illusion of the movie has been broken. First of all, it's a lot smaller an area than what I remember from the movie. Second of all, it seems a lot dingier than what the movie makes it out to be. Third, you don't stick letters in the wall. You put them in this dorky mailbox. But oh well, we still had a good time rubbing Juliet's boob for good luck and writing notes about our love and all that jazz.
Oh, and eating gelato. Gelato in Italy is really nice. I had chocolate and 'fin del mundo'

Verona was a beautiful town. 

And then we went onto VENICE

 This was the first thing we saw stepping out of the train station. A massive canal. And boat buses. And we started laughing.
 And then we rode a boat bus... which costs 6.50 euros per ride.... expensive! So, we may have ridden the bus a few times without a validated ticket. You'll have that when a bus ride is 6.50 a pop.
 Monday 2 April:  We spent all day in Venice. The funny thing is that when you navigate Venice, you either get to roam around in the correct general direction until you get to where you are going or you get to play that game where you try to get through the maze from start to finish. I sat down and drew lines of how we were going to get to San Marco Square... and we still ended up just roaming in the general direction lol.

 And we finally made it. Oh, on a side note, if you need to go to the toilets when you are at San Marco Square, prepare to either find somewhere with a toilet to enjoy lunch or cough up 1.50 per use. Yup.

Oh, and the lions at monuments in other cities, as opposed to Trafalgar Square, are small and a lot easier to climb onto and take goofy pictures with.
We went up into the tower that is at at San Marco Square. Views were amazing!

Wednesday 3 April:  We took a trip to Pisa before heading onto Florence. Pisa is a small town with no other reason to be famous other than a tower that leans. Chelsea and I took goofy pictures with the Leaning Tower. In case you are like me and didn't know this, there are other interesting buildings around the leaning tower such as a basilica and a baptistery (sp?). And it was me and my boyfriend's two year anniversary.

We went onward to our hostel in Florence. We got to hike for about 10 minutes through a beautiful path in the woods to get to our hostel... ok, not ideal after walking around Pisa with our backpacks on, but still very beautiful.
 Florence was a trip of museums and churches. We started at El Duomo and went on to the galleries.
 Yes... I took a few photos that you aren't supposed to take a picture of the David. But... I just couldn't resist. We saw a lot of butts and other body parts in the galleries that day.

Our hostel was an old 15th century villa surrounded by vineyards. It was cheap and cool since the room we stayed in was an 8 bed dorm room. But we had to leave to go to Rome.

 Thursday 5 April:  Rome! We went and saw all the sites for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It all sorta blurs together at this point because we did so much. St. Peter's Basilica, Sistine Chapel, Spanish steps.

Oh, and our hostel has a deal with a place across the street where we could get a plate of pasta and glass (plastic cup) of wine for 3 euro.

 <<< Sistine Chapel!
 School of Athens by Raphael >>>
 <<< Pieta by Michaelangelo
 Me at the Colosseum >>>

On Friday night, we went to the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. The guy in red in this sad sad picture is the pope. When I was in Catholic school as a kid, they did a living Stations of the Cross where someone actually pretended to be Jesus carrying the cross. I learned Saturday from a guy studying to be a priest that the living Stations is a Spanish thing. At the one at the Colosseum, a group of people just carried the cross. It was an incredible experience... except we don't understand Italian.

 Chelsea and I parted on Saturday. I did a bucket list item and went to a castle. I also decided to follow the advice of other study abroad students and go to a grocery store (pictured below). At 5pm I had to leave Rome for Milan. Rome was really exciting and fun.

Sunday 8 April:  I only had one day to explore Milan (which was more than enough). I went to a couple parks, saw ANOTHER castle, and rode in the world's smallest elevator up to the hostel. Oh, by the way, why does every city insist on having some weird, massive arch? Is it a historical thing or is it an ego thing for which city has the biggest arch? Anyways, I left Milan early Monday morning.

 Monday 9 April- Wednesday 11 April:  Barcelona! Officially one of my favorite cities ever! The beach, nice people, great food, amazing! I decided I'm going to retire to Barcelona and live on a pirate ship after making millions of dollars in my working life ;) (girl can dream big, right?). I stayed steps away from Mercat de la Boqueria and Las Ramblas (big street of vendors and performers and stuff). I was a twenty minute walk from the beach.

 Yummy churros con chocolate, another silly arch, another castle. Compared to Italy, the people in Barcelona were a lot nicer. Everyone was so relaxed and chill. The shops even close for afternoon siesta. It was wonderful. I just walked around and enjoyed myself. No big plans, no agenda, just whatever I felt like doing that day.

 This guy, Gaudi, built a bunch of cool buildings all over Barcelona. These are two of the buildings. They were cool I guess :)

Oh, and you can get off brand beer for 37 cents at Carrefour (a grocery store in Barcelona).
Wednesday, I fell asleep on the beach for five hours. When you fall asleep on the beach for five hours, you get sunburnt. I am really really sunburnt. I didn't make it home until 2:30am Thursday morning after standing in the UK Border Agency line for over an hour to get back in.

I traveled for 12 days with five shirts, four tank tops, one set of pj's, one cardi, two pairs of jeans, 12 pairs of undies and socks, one small plastic bag of toiletries, and one pair of shoes on 20 buses, three metros, six trains, and five flights across three countries. By the end of it, I was even missing Chester, my teddy bear.

I guess trips like this are supposed to change your life. There was definitely a lot of time for reflection and observation. Here are a few of those observations:  dogs. Everyone in Europe takes their dogs everywhere. They love their dogs. And people don't mind it. Next, girls traveling alone. When we stayed in the hostel in an 8 bed dorm, a couple of the girls there were traveling alone. And it was no big deal. I was really worried about the part of the trip where I was going to be alone (Milan and Barcelona). But after meeting them in Florence, I decided it's no big deal. I just had to be careful. Additionally, PDA and nudity. People are always making out on park benches everywhere. It gets annoying sometimes, but I guess it's ok. Different. Oh, and in Spain, you can be naked anywhere as long as it doesn't cause a public disturbance. Now THAT would be something that would be difficult to get used to. But, it's just different.

A few things that I have reflected on. First of all, language unites (and divides) us more than I ever realized. The only way I talked to anyone when I was traveling alone was if they were speaking English or if they worked somewhere where I was trying to buy something and figured out that they knew English. All of the sudden I was talking to any stranger I heard speaking English. Especially with the Stations of the Cross event, I really felt like I was missing out on something since all of it was in Latin/Italian. And I barely even knew enough Spanish to get by speaking it in Barcelona. I really wish I had more opportunities to learn languages and had wanted to and pursued it. I don't know if I will ever act on the discomforts that I felt on this trip, but it really made me think about how big a barrier it is.

I've been back for three or four days now. I haven't really done much since I got back. A couple Nerf wars, waiting for everyone else to get back, recovering from the sunburn. I'm not sure what the next adventure will be, but I'll be sure to let you guys know. Until then, Cheers!