Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Still Stateside...

Hello again, this time from Montana!

I have now been "home" home since last Monday, and it has been wonderful to reconnect with my parents, sisters, Matt, his family, and friends. It definitely took me a while to get readjusted sleep-wise, but I'm back on track now. Emotionally, the transition has been easier than expected. For now, I'm just thankful to be home and enjoying the Christmas season. What I'm really worried about is our January Term, where reality is truly going to hit. I'll be taking a four credit class in three short weeks, meaning I'll be in a middle-school classroom for about four hours each morning, and in lecture for about four hours each afternoon. Intense, to say the least!

But before I start worrying about that, I better fill you in on the last part of my trip. Just like my previous posts, I'm just going to give you a couple of sentences on each place:

Oxford- Honestly, I didn't enjoy Oxford as much as I enjoyed Cambridge. It wasn't as "homey" feeling, and wasn't laid out as nicely. However, we did have a really good tour, including many J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis references. Most of our group paid a visit to the "Eagle and Child," the pub where the two met on a regular basis.

Stratford- Shakespeare central! Our group was able to take advantage of many of the opportunities offered by the Royal Shakespeare Company, including two performances of "Twelfth Night" (one regular, one understudy), a tour of Shakespeare's birthplace, a stage combat class, a Q&A session with one of the actors, and a look at their archives. One of my favorite weeks!

Bath- Beautiful Georgian architecture set the stage for our study of Jane Austen's "Persuasion." While we were there, I toured the Roman Baths, ate a formal lunch in the Pump Room restaurant, had cream tea (scones, clotted cream, jam, and tea) at the Jane Austen Centre, and spent two hours in the Therme Spa (the rooftop pool was amazing!).

Lyme Regis- Quintessential British seaside town. Stayed in a luxury B&B overlooking the ocean (where Rolling Stones' drummer, Charlie Watts, also stayed while we were there!) and enjoyed many walks along the coast. It was not peak tourist season, so it felt like we had the place to ourselves. We were able to reenact a scene from "Persuasion," which was a lot of fun for our whole group.

Plymouth- Actually, we did not stay in Plymouth itself, but at a place called Battisborough House about ten miles away. Basically, we had an entire mini-mansion to run wild in. Again, we were right by the coast: huge black cliffs, crazy wind and waves. This place was remote (i.e. no cell phone coverage, no internet), which led to a lot of quality bonding and hanging-out time for all of us. We celebrated Thanksgiving here by cooking an entirely homemade dinner and sharing it family-style- one of my favorite memories of the trip :)

Salisbury- Salisbury itself was not that significant, other than its close proximity to Stonehenge. It does have a magnificent cathedral, but unfortunately, I spent much of my time here finishing up final papers...

Stonehenge- This was about the only thing I actually "did" in Salisbury. To be quite honest, I wasn't that impressed! It was a miserably cold and windy day, leading to a very quick walk around. You couldn't get very close to the stones, and it was smaller than I envisioned. We took the necessary pictures, and headed out.

London- Our third and final time here! Much of the time was spent Christmas shopping. Bought a lovely rose-covered teapot at Harrod's (what Macy's is for NYC, Harrod's is to London), visited the Tower of London, and had my last serving of fish and chips. It was definitely a bitter-sweet time...

And now, I'm home. It still feels very surreal that all of this is over. The only thing I can compare it to is the feeling I get after Christmas is over, but on a whole new scale. So much anticipation, and I still can't even believe that I actually did half of the things I did. It's definitely going to take a long time to process this all...

Looking back on my goals, I feel pretty accomplished. I was "at home" in England, discovered a lot more about the world, understand the works I read on a whole new plane, learned a lot about myself and gained a lot of confidence, and had an amazing time doing it! I wouldn't trade this trip for anything, and am so incredibly grateful that I was able to do it.

I have no idea how this trip will impact me in the future, but I'm sure it will all be for the better. I feel much more confident in my abilities to make it on my own, but also discovered that I really want that "certain someone" by my side :) Living in a different culture was sometimes difficult, but I appreciate America in an entirely different way now. Coming into this trip, I didn't know many of the other members, but I left them feeling I have 21 new lifelong friends.

Finally, thanks to all of you for reading! I hope you've enjoyed living my trip vicariously through me :) If you ever want to talk to me about the trip or see pictures (I have about 4,000 to wade through!), please don't hesitate to ask! I would love to share/process with you!

Merry Christmas to you all, and best wishes for the New Year!

Allison <3

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