To the Sea! To the Sea!

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To the Sea, to the Sea! The white gulls are crying,
The wind is blowing, and the white foam is flying.
West, west away, the round sun is falling.
Grey ship, grey ship, do you hear them calling,
The voices of my people that have gone before me?
I will leave, I will leave the woods that bore me;
For our days are ending and our years failing.
I will pass the wide waters lonely sailing.
Long are the waves on the Last Shore falling,
Sweet are the voices in the Lost Isle calling,
In Eressëa, in Elvenhome that no man can discover,
Where the leaves fall not: land of my people for ever!

– JRR Tolkien, “Legolas’ Song of the Sea”

Okay, okay. It’s not the Sea exactly, but here’s a photo of the Menai Strait taken just outside the Creative Studies and Media building here at Bangor. Isn’t it just beautiful? The Menai Strait separates the island of Anglesey from the mainland of Wales. It’s also known for being one of the more dangerous stretches of water in the UK. We (the International Creative Studies and Media students) were warned the other day that the tides come in very fast here, and that so long as you heed public signs and stick to the beaches you should be okay, but don’t just stroll down to the Strait and hop on in or else “you’ll probably be on the news”. So. Won’t be doing that.

Also, fun fact because this blog does have a Tolkien title and I did just include a Tolkien poem: Sindarin, which is the form of Elvish spoken by Legolas (and the form that you hear 98% of the time in the Peter Jackson films) was modeled by Tolkien off of Welsh in terms of syntax and such.

❤ Julie

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Fall in Wales

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Today fall danced into Wales with a day of mist and fog rolling off the Menai Strait and rain falling from the sky. It’s the first day of really “proper” Welsh weather (and by that I mean the stereotypical kind that everyone in America pictures when you say “Welsh weather”) that I’ve had since I’ve been here, and I think that it’s quite lovely! It’s also the second day of Welcome Week here and Bangor, and since I didn’t post anything about the first day, I suppose I ought to let you all know that I’m still alive and all is going well!

I’ve been running around campus (and here that mean running up and down hills, and more hills, and here – have another hill!) figuring out where everything is and signing up for the modules I’m going to take and attending all of that compulsory Fresher’s Week stuff that needs to be attended. And I’ve met so many interesting people from interesting places! Probably the most interesting thing I’ve run into (almost literally) was the lifesize cardboard cut-out of Spike outside of the office of my tutor in the Creative Studies and Media building (‘tutor’ is Bangor’s word for what we would call our ‘academic advisor’ back at DU). Yes, Spike from Buffy. You know the one. He’s just casually standing in the hall, encased in a glass box. I didn’t get a photo of him, but I’ll do my best to get one next time I’m in the vicinity.

Oh! And I’ve gathered a few more tips for those looking to study abroad at Bangor/in Wales:

1. Welsh people are very nice.  There’s not much more I can say about this that won’t come out overly gushy. But really, at least the people here in Bangor around the school area are all very nice and will help you with just about anything they can. If they notice you wandering around looking pathetic, lost, and confused they’ll certainly stop and help you sort yourself out.

2. In the grocery store – eggs are kept on the shelf. I can’t say if this is common practice throughout the UK and Europe at large, but here they keep eggs on the shelf. Not on a refrigerated shelf, or in the ice-box-esque kind of shelving – just a normal shelf. It turns out that you can keep eggs on a shelf just fine and they’ll keep for a couple of weeks, a few of the people I’ve met here also insist that they have a better flavor. We’ve just been brainwashed in America to think that we have to keep eggs refrigerated or they’ll kill us or something like that.

3. Welsh cakes.  If you find yourself in Wales, it would be absolutely unthinkable to leave without trying a Welsh cake. It’s a delightful kind of pastry that’s, as far as I can tell, batter dropped into butter and cooked (with raisins and currants and such in it) and then dipped in confectioner’s sugar. They are fantastic.

I miss my sweet kitten!
I miss you, sweet kitten Bella

Annnnd, I think that’s about all I’ve got for now. I’m going to just close my eyes and listen to the sound of the rain hitting my window and sip at my tea. (And miss my kitten. I wouldn’t say I’m homesick, exactly, but I could really use some cuddles from my kitten).

All my love,

❤ Julie

A Few Tips for Those Thinking of Studying Abroad at Bangor

Hello folks!

I didn’t do much of anything exciting to report about today, so instead I will offer a few tips for students who are hoping to study internationally at Bangor next year. There will likely be many more of these posts in the future as I learn more and more about my beautiful host school, but for now I’ve just got a couple quick, introductory tips.

1) Andrew Griff-Owen is your friend. Mr. Griff-Owen is the head of International Exchanges, and he is a wonderful, wonderful person. I have yet to actually meet him in person, but when I was having issues printing my key collection certificate and with registering online with Bangor’s records system, Mr. Griff-Owen was an immense help. I’m talking about on-extremely-short-notice, weird-hours-in-his-time-zone, quick-to-reply, while-in-the-middle-of-his-train-commute help. Thank you, thank you Mr. Griff-Owen! You put me at ease and helped me beyond belief before I even set a foot on this campus.

2). Personally, I wouldn’t purchase the bedding package again. Nothing against Bangor, but the bedding package is, in my opinion, not a very good value. You can buy a more complete bedding package from Morrison’s (the local grocery store up the road) for not too much more money.

Annnnnd….so far that’s all, I think. Just a few quick notes – I’ll try to keep you all updated on future tips in the future!

❤ Julie

Here I Am!

Helpful Hint - in the UK (or at least in Wales) "Dish Soap" is "Washing Up Liquid"
Helpful Hint – in the UK (or at least in Wales) “Dish Soap” is “Washing Up Liquid”

So, due to internet issues and jetlag, I’m just getting this post done now (aren’t you glad I warned you about a day that I’d be posting every couple of hours and then it didn’t happen? pleasant surprises are the best ones!). But yes – I’ve arrived safely at Bangor University in the beautifully country of Wales!

Flying into Manchester airport was basically like a fairy tale. It was early in the morning, and the sun was just peaking out, and we came in over the ocean where there were all of these giant wind turbines turning away. And then as we came over land, it was all foggy, and the was mist coming up off of the river, and green fields and green trees, and stone-frame houses, and dry stone walls with sheep and cows inside. It was like landing right in the middle of every stereotypical, picturesque “British Countryside” postcard you’ve ever seen.

Here's my Room
Here’s my Room

I slept most of the ride from Manchester to Bangor, but I did wake up for one part and saw green fields on one side, and the beach on the other.

And now I’m here! I’ve been to the local grocery a couple of times and have gotten mostly settled in. I think that we’re not supposed to be far from the Menai Strait, so perhaps later this evening or tomorrow morning I’ll go on a bit of a walk and see it. And I think that I’ll go on a walking tour of the town tomorrow as well – I was going to go on one today, but decided to

And my Bathroom
And my Bathroom

take a nap instead (to the surprise of no one at all, I’m sure).

Anyway, I’m off to take a shower – wishing you all well!

❤ Julie

Travel Stitch is settling in nicely
Travel Stitch is settling in nicely

Chicagooooo

I have successfully made it to Chicago and have even located the gate from which I will be departing for Manchester. Now I just have to wait for another two hours or so until I can board. As a dear friend’s mother once said about her/our traveling abilities: I guess I’m not as clueless as I like to pretend I am!

I’m a bit exhausted since I didn’t sleep well last night and am currently running on a mix of caffeine, anxiety, an

I promise I don't feel as bad as I look in this photo. Also say hi to Travel-Stitch!
I promise I don’t feel as bad as I look in this photo. Also say hi to Travel-Stitch!

d excitement. And of course the pure thrill of adventuring! I think that the most difficult part so far was figuring out how to access the wifi here at O’Hare.

Now I’m off to find a snack and hopefully somewhere to plug this laptop in for the next couple of hours. Love you all and wishing you well!

Na lû e-govaned vîn,
Julie ❤

Also – just a warning if you ever go to O’Hare. The internet isn’t the only thing that’s weird – the toilets are bizarre. They look like something that one of the people who worked on the set of Star Trek: The Original Series thought some toilet from the future would look like. They’re very low to the round and the seat is covered in basically plastic-wrap, and you have to wave your hand over a sensor and the plastic wrap on the seat spins to give you a fresh covering. It’s sanitary, I guess….but it’s very odd

Edit: This wasn’t posted when I was at Chicago because of the aforementioned internet problems. You only get 20 minutes of free access to the internet, and mine ran out before I could post this. Sorry kids!

Pre-Travel Jitters

I leave my house for the airport in about two hours and the reality of the situation is definitely starting to it me – I barely slept at all last night. I’ll try to keep you all updated as I move through my travels, but for now I will leave you with a bit of my traveling soundtrack. Also, just a fair warning: over the next few days while I travel to Manchester, I will probably be posting A LOT. Multiple times a day, every few hours, all that nonsense. You have been warned.

Now, for the soundtrack!

Packing!

Not as heavy as it looks
Not as heavy as it looks

Yes, I am leaving on Tuesday. No, I’m not entirely packed yet.

I have one duffle bag down and one to go. and a whole ton of laundry all over my floor so I can figure out what I’m going to take with me. ‘Panicking’ and ‘Packing’ are basically the same word, aren’t they? My adventure is starting oh-so-very soon and I’m definitely 100% ready and also not ready at all.

And I haven’t even gotten to the hard part yet – for me that will be trying to not get lost in the airports and end up in the wrong terminals.

I’ll be so much less anxious when the waiting is over and it’s all happening for real. Right now I can hardly tell if I’m dreaming or not.