Thursday, August 6, 2009

GREEN!....and a bit of red = D

Dear friends,

I'm extremely tired at the moment. School has become intense...and I mean, intense. 3 papers, 2 finals...all in 2 weeks? Ridiculous.

BUT there are still many things to look forward to and enjoy!

This past weekend, I visited IRELAND! As the title suggests...it's very green. I flew on Ryanair (one of the scariest landings I've experienced) and made my way into my very first hostel in Dublin.
It wasn't too bad. We had a mixed 8 beds room with people we knew, so everything was safe = D. I felt like I was at a huge slumber party = D. It was fun.

The next day, we decided to visit Howth (seaside). We took a bus over the the summit and walked along the "Bog of the Frogs" path. This took us along the coast where we saw lighthouses and cliffs. Beautiful = ).


We spotted a stone staircase (very narrow and hidden) that led down the cliffs to the pebbled beach below. A dog led us down actually. So, we followed the dog down and decided to hang out on the beach. There were rocks that we climbed over to see if we could get around to a little pool area in a cove, so we started climbing over the slippery rocks. Once the dog saw that all of us were migrating, he started following us. When we stopped, he'd stop. When we took a step forward, he would try and get in front of us...kept looking at us...we decided to turn back around because it would be too hard to get to the other side. As soon as we turned around, the dog ran back to his post on the beach, facing towards land. We attempted to skip stones...but whenever we'd pick up the stones and faced the ocean, the dog would become extremely rigid and stare intently at us. It was as if he were guarding the ocean...I looked past him and stared into the waters. There were 3 seals, simply floating in the same spot. One by the rock jetty where we climbed, one further to the left, and one further to the right where we tried to go...all floating there...not moving...as if they were at a post as well...

we decided to leave. We let our imagination take care of the rest of that adventure, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear some ancient Celtic story about that place. I mean, it is near one of the oldest lighthouses of that area...= )

Anyway, we continued our trek in the ridiculously windy day, at in the town, then made our way back home.

At night, we visited a pub with traditional Celtic music = D. They were REALLY good! Fiddler and Guitarist. The pub was called O'Sheas = ). (How Irish = )) video Apparently they had phDs in music and one of them was asked to sign with Sony or something...the guitarist I think. Very cool! = D

The next day, Jessi and I decided to explore "The Garden of Ireland" - Wicklow = ). Yea, I know. We were in Dublin...but we wanted countryside = ). Wicklow was beautiful. This is where everything really was GREEN. We had a fun tour group as well. We met 3 girls from California (one of them was from UCLA!!!) who were at the Sussex travel abroad program, 2 men from France, and 6 gals from Brazil. = ) We all exchanged emails to send each other pictures =
). AND our tour guide was super cool as well...Manus. He taught Jessi and I some Gaelic. Ready?

Cunas ata tu?
-(How are you?)
Ta me go maith. Go raibh maith agut. Agus cunas ata tu fein?
-(I'm well, thank you. And how are you yourself?)

It was fun = D.

Sadly, our trip ended after Wicklow. Too short of time in such a lovely place. Everyone's EXTREMELY friendly! People will wave to you even if you're a stranger...oh, another interesting thing...I don't think many Asians migrated to Ireland...cause I think we were the only ones (lol) or majority of the few. I had forgotten I was a minority (after being at UCLA = )).

And that was Ireland...or a bit of it.

SO...the little bit of red is from...MANCHESTER UNITED GAME!!!
Rooney and Cleverly scored the 2 goals for ManU. They played Valencia in an exhibition match = D. It was pretty cool to see, especially in their own stadium. Everything was red...and I don't have ANY red clothing...I guess being a Bruin does that to ya. = ) It was fun. Valencia's team came out and were stretching on the side, and as they were stretching, everyone was whistling and hooting. AND the crowd seems to have a "United!" clap clap clap cheer = ). I had to ask a Brit next to me to tell me what they were saying. = ) Of course, the crowd did the wave = D. It was a great time...unfortunately, I returned at 6 am!! Soooooooooo late...or early. The traffic was horrible and our bus was somewhat small. Yea...so I'm pretty tired. I don't get to rest much though because tonight I'm heading into London to visit...

BIG AND JARED!!! Yay!! Their time in Ghana has finished for the time being and they're going to be here! It's weird that the first time I'm seeing them will be in London...they're going to have MAJOR culture shock...yea...

Alrighty, well, that's all for now. I shall update next week. = ) Please tell me if you've received your postcards or not. Apparently some have not made it...so yea, everything should be given to you by next week. If not, do tell me. = )

Have a great week everyone!

Love,
Christina C

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Happy Anniversary Cambridge / Paris!!

Hello!!!

Sorry for the delay. I really should update more often...now, this will be somewhat long...but will have lots of pictures = D.

This past weekend, I went to Paris with 8 other people and the weekend before that, I stayed in Cambridge = D. Cambridge has been very nice. It's relaxing and feels like home right now, though school is a bit of a bother. = ) Of course, every week, I find time to head down to the music room (which is in a really shady location...somewhat creepy) and play ultimate frisbee = ). There are always people who want to play, so we walk over to a park about 10 min. away to throw it around. So far, we've had 2 people ask to join us...they weren't British though = (. I just want British friends...hahaha = )

Last week, I went into London for a night to watch one of the PROMS concerts. PROMS is an event happening in London for around 6 weeks or so where a BUNCH of classical music is played every night. I ended up going to the 800th Anniversary of Cambridge concert in the Royal Albert Hall.
BEAUTIFUL venue!


The King's College Choir performed along with other Cambridge choirs and the London Symphony. We saw a couple of the choir members before and they told us that before people came to line up in the queue, the police were checking the roofs for bombs! Which can only mean one thing...ROYALTY was coming to the performance!

We walked into the arena and found ourselves REALLY close to the stage. The only catch? We had to stand for the entire concert...which wasn't too bad, really = ). The concert started off with England's Anthem...which never happens unless...yup! I turned around and looked over to the Royal Box and there he was...PRINCE CHARLES! I saw royalty! Unfortunately, they didn't let us take pictures once the performance ensued, but it was pretty cool to see him. = )

(random side note...there's a yellow jacket in my room right now...kinda freaky...) = )

Anyway, the day after the concert, my friend and I left for PARIS!!!!
13 HOUR BUS RIDE...wouldn't have been that bad, except we found ourselves seated to people with really bad B.O., a man who wouldn't let me put my seat back, and 4 English guys who were super obnoxious and talked for the ENTIRE time...and I mean, the ENTIRE TIME! How can someone talk for 13 hours?! Really? What do you talk about? I was amazed and found the situation hilarious. = )

After a LONG ride...we made it!


The adventures began right when we got off the bus, AND I was able to use my extremely broke French = ). We succeeded in getting passes for the metro and made our way to a friend's apartment to stash our stuff for the day. Then, we were off to...
Versailles!!!







Since our friend lived near the Moulin Rouge, we decided to pay it a visit = D.


Finally, we rested our legs for the night at our hotel. MAN! Paris is a TON of walking. My legs got their workout this past weekend.

Le prochain jour, nous avons visite (The next day, we visited) Le Louvre, Jardins de Tuilleries, Notre Dame, Le Musee d'Orsay et Le Tour Eiffel. Sooooooo beautiful! Paris is a lovely city! I saw the Mona Lisa and Venus at Le Louvre,
Jessi and I fed sparrows in the courtyard of Notre Dame (her voluntarily...myself, involuntarily), saw many Degas works in Le Musee d'Orsay and watched the flashing lights and view of Paris at night on Le Tour Eiffel!

Amazing day with some wonderful people! = )

The next and final day, we attended Notre Dame for mass in the morning (not the entire thing of course), then headed to the Champs-Elysee! We walked up and down the street, stopping at the L'Arc de Triomphe, then found a spot on the side to see the final section of...

LE TOUR DE FRANCE!!!!!!

Yeppers! That's right! We saw the Tour de France! Sooooo cool...BUT extremely painful! I think at this point, our legs were dying from the first couple of days and 3 hours of standing waiting for the racers to finish the race, but well worth the experience. = D We stood next to a lady who knew much about the race and spoke english, so we were well educated in the race = D.

If you look closely enough, on the bottom right, the man with the blue outfit and black helmet is Lance Armstrong. = )

Wonderful experience with amazing weather! We were pretty fortunate. Thank the Lord! = D

Finally, our last stop was Montmartre to visit Le Sacre-Couer (The Sacred Heart). Gorgeous views! Yummy food! Time well spent = )


And that was my Parisian experience = D. I miss Paris already. BUT, no worries. I shall return at another time = D.

I hope everyone is having adventures of their own! I'm hearing much from little updates from some people, but I would love to hear how others are doing! Also, if you would still like a postcard or something, just email me or message me your address! You can always send me stuff as well = D = D = D. I like getting mail = D.
Christina Chang
King's College, G2
Cambridge CB2 1ST, England
= )

Til the next post,
Christina C

Friday, July 17, 2009

A bit of sunshine = )

Hellooooooooooooo!!

I think I'm finally experiencing the British weather...moments of heavy rain followed by a clearing of sun that peers through the gray clouds. It's quite pretty = ).

Discovery - I really like Pastys. I think I'll buy one every week. = ) They are like Calzones, except they have meat, onions, potatoes, and cheese inside. They're soooooooooooooooo yummy, especially on cool rainy days because they stay warm and you bite into deliciousness every time = )...I want another one now... = )

Anyway, this past week has been pretty rainy. But that's ok. It doesn't dampen the mood or take away from the Cambridge experience =).

Last week, some friends and I walked to Grantchester, home of Rupert Brooke, a famous english writer/poet. We read a novel about him by Jill Dawson (who came to give a lecture) and decided to visit the Orchards that he visited often. The walk was about an hour, one way. Many people rode bikes on the path. We passed by many cows...and fields...not quite Kansas = ).

When we arrived at the Orchards, we rested with some tea and ice cream = ).


We visited the one room Brooke museum (it was tiny) then walked to the "pool" where he dived all day long. I don't think I'd want to swim in that...but perhaps it looked better back in the days...let's hope so = ).

The next day, we made our way to London! It's not too far from Cambridge. It's about an hour train ride, but we took a bus, so about 2 1/2 hours. We all had river boat passes for the day, so that was our mode of transportation, besides walking of course = ). The sights on the boat were very pretty. = )


Once we hopped off the boat, we walked toward the west end. On the way, we spotted Big Ben = )
It's very large and it happened to be noon when we heard it's first ringing = ).

The West End is lovely. It's where the National Gallery and many theatres show performances daily. Jessi and I were hungry, so what did we eat?!


Fish & Chips!!

We ate around Trafalgar Square and saw Nelson's Column. At the square, there was event called Jesus Army. It was...interesting.
Apparently it's hosted by a church called Jesus Army (I think) and it happens every year. It was nice to stumble upon = ).

We walked around some more and visited the Royal Academy, home of the J.W. Waterhouse exhibit. Jessi really really wanted to see that (her fav. artist), so we went. The paintings were beautiful. I couldn't take photos inside...so I took one of the banner poster thingy outside = ).


Once the exhibit was thoroughly observed, we ran back to the boat dock...we really ran. = ) What a treat! It felt sooooo nice to be sitting. There's so much walking in London. Make sure you wear good shoes if ever you visit.

We ate some ramen = ) then headed to the Globe to see Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. I was looking forward to this for a really long time. I couldn't believe we were going to see a play in the Globe theatre!!! BUT...little did I know that after a full day of walking around London, I would have to STAND for 3 more hours to watch the play...ahhhhhhhhhhhh. The theatre was pretty


...but I think the fact that my legs and feet were aching and my clothes and hair were wet from the rain (there was no shelter for those standing and umbrellas aren't allowed) made it a bit difficult to enjoy. Very funny...both situation and play. = )

Sadly, our day in London drew to an end...but we did rejoice in being able to sit!

Plus, there's much more to be done in Cambridge = )...like a week of Harry Potter-ness!! = )

We had a formal dinner at Pembroke where Jessi and I decided to dress up like students at Hogwarts and the meal's menu was themed for Hogwarts.

It was fun. The TAs wore their robes and the tables were separated into the houses at Hogwarts.

I was in Griffindor.

The next day, we all went to watch the movie. We sold out the theatre = ). It was hilarious getting there. All of us wanted to get good seats, so everyone started crowding to the front of the "line", but none of knew where the theatre was, so the TA that led us kept zigzagging here and there, making random turns, crossing and recrossing streets...we could have died really. It was dangerous. = ) BUT we got to see Harry Potter...in ENGLAND! = D It made me happy.

Ok, anyway, this was quite a long update. This weekend...I have no plans = ). We'll see what happens = ). I really miss everyone back in the states. I hope everyone's summers are going wonderfully = ).

Love,
Christina

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

SCOTLAND!

Hello!!!!!!

So, I have returned from a weekend trip to Scotland!

Scotland = Epicness

We went to Edinburgh, which is the capital of Scotland and a very pretty city. The bus ride took about 12 hours. There was a bit of traffic and we stopped at Hadrian's Wall for half an hour. Sadly, the weather has now turned back into good ole UK weather and it rained on us. Fortunately, when our bus arrived at Hadrian's Wall, the raining had stopped...I can't say the same for the bus that had arrived before us = ).

Hadrian's Wall...well...it's a pretty view = ).
Yea...we could have gone straight to Edinburgh, but the thought was good, right?

At Edinburgh, we stayed at the University of Edinburgh in Pollock Halls. The dorm rooms were very nice, each with a sink, provided towels, desks, drawers, and a comfy bed = ). Once there, we decided to explore the city! Of course, we were all famished at this time, but one thing...everything closes much earlier in the UK. Yea...so what did we eat?

Pizza Hut

It's all good cause the next day was when we were able to explore more of the city! = D We visited Rosslyn's Chapel (I guess it was filmed in The Da Vinci Code).


Very beautiful! The history is very interesting. Each column and carving is different. It must have taken ages to construct the chapel.

After the chapel, we headed to old town where we visited the National Museum of Scotland, the Castle, and The Elephant Tea Shop (where JK Rowling originated Harry Potter!!).


There was so much to do! We ended up walking around town and going on an Underground Tour where there is supposedly supernatural events...I'll let you guys discover if it's true or not = ).

You would think that we'd be tired after the day...we were. = ) BUT that didn't stop us from the rest of the night! We ate a traditional Scotland meal...which didn't seem very different from any other meal we had eaten...= ) and we had a dance!!! We learned many Scottish partner dances!!! I had sooo much fun! I shall try and remember the steps and bring them back to the states = ) I guess dancing to Scottish dances is a good way to celebrate the 4th of July = D.

The next day, we hiked. My tennis shoes smell awful now. This hike was no ordinary hike. It was pretty muddy, weedy, grassy...and FUN! = ) A lot of it reminded me of Jurassic Park/Lord of the Rings = ). Actually, a lot of Scotland reminded me of LOTR.
The view from our final location on the hike was beautiful.

You would think that after a full day of hiking, we'd want to rest. Nope = ) More hiking! Jessi and I decided to hike up Arthur's Seat. This was EPIC! = ) (that was our word for the weekend). You have a complete 360 view of Edinburgh!

What was even crazier was that there were 2 rain clouds that surrounded where we were at and everyone was scared that the rain would pour down on us because it was washing over Edinburgh. We decided to brave it out...

and it went around us!! Both of them! That was probably one of my most memorable nights. There were a few of us left on the top and the sun had almost set. The city lights were twinkling around us as we sat atop Arthur's Seat. Someone started playing "Chasing Cars" in the background. It was like a final scene in a movie of conquest, where the camera pans around the group of travelers sitting atop their feat. It was epic = ).

Of course, the night couldn't end there. On the way down, we rolled = ). Well...for a bit of it, played a bit of tag, and THEN said our goodnights. 'Twas a good night.

Sunrises in Scotland? Let's just say God is the best artist ever!


I really liked Scotland. I shan't forget it. = )

On the way back, we stopped at Fountains Abbey where Pride and Prejudice was filmed. I didn't get to see the water area though = (. I guess there simply isn't enough time for everything, BUT the trip was an incredible experience. Unfortunately, I came back to my room and immediately went back into school mode...I wrote an 1800 word short story on minimal sleep...I'm sleepy now. = )I thought the quarter system was fast...this is even faster.

Anyway, I hope all is well back home! Off to do some critiquing! = )

Love,
Christina

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A better update = D

Cambridge is very beautiful!






My dorm room is sufficiently larger than what anyone would have at UCLA, but it's been extremely hot and uncomfortable for the last couple of days. Tomorrow, it will be 39 degress...celcius! Somehow, I don't think that's normal = ). So..I'm not really sure what to write in these things, so I will run through my day = ).


This morning, I was awakened by an 8 am fire alarm, but I was fortunate to have a 9 am class so 8 am was when I wanted to wake up = D. So, I live on the 4th floor of building P in King's College, which has about 8 rooms total in the building. The laundry and showers are located in the basement, so we have to walk down the stairs, outside along the wall, then down another set of stairs, unlock the shower room and then shower! The showers are coed...which was a bit weird at first...to be sitting next to a man while waiting for an open shower...but it's all good. = )


My first class was my creative writing seminar. My professor is really cool and nice, but constructive as well. The class is very different than anything I've ever taken in the US. The class is about 10 people in our seminar and our first assignment was to stalk a person in cambridge! Yea...stalk them, observe them, understand them, create a story based on what we observe. It was awkward...yet fun! I ended up following a young girl who went into a cafe to order a cappacino...and since I walked in and felt very awkward not ordering anything, I ordered a cappacino as well. (I don't even like coffee...but that's all they had). Unfortuately, they made her order much quicker than mine, so I was stuck waiting for my order and she booked it out the cafe. Yes...now, I'm alone with a cappacino I don't even want...BUT another young gentleman (college aged) entered and I decided to follow him = ). He ended up sitting outside of King's college to eat his quick breakfast, so I sat near him...watching, listening...being extremely creepy...hahaha. I think he could tell I was eyeing him which was even uncomfortable for me...I hope he didn't think I was checking him out or anything like that. Anyway, that was my creative writing seminar = D.


My other class these next 4 weeks is Good Life or Moral Life. Interesting, yes? I'm slightly intimidated because the class seems to be filled with philosophical people...people well knowledged in Kant and Socrates...those sorts = D. Nevertheless, I'm excited to discuss alongside with them = ). Our professor is pretty cool as well. I'm sure the class will turn out well.


So, I pretty much start at 9 am everyday and end before noon, which is pretty nice. In the afternoon, I found the music room!!! It's in the basement...down a dark hallway below the kitchen...I don't think they value us musicians too much...= ) It was nice to be on a piano again. = )


Also, I went punting!
It's pretty difficult at first, but after a first run, I was doing well. There's a river that runs next to King's college, so we punted along that river. There were MANY people on the river in the afternoon, so navigating was hard. I ran into a couple of boats...but it was all good. With more practice, I should be pro = ).


After punting, we headed to the chapel (which is gorgeous) to take a group photo and a social on the lawn, where they served wine, orange juice and water. (They serve wine with every dinner! Too bad I don't like the taste of wine, but I think others relish this treat). AND we were able to stand and walk and play on the grass!!!!!!!!!! WHAT A TREAT! = ) That was definely a highlight.




Once we had sufficiently taken in our one and only time of standing on the grass, we had our first formal dinner. WOW! Whoever said that England food is not tasty was severely wrong for this dinner. It was delicious! We had onion soup (VERY good), chicken atop an assortment of foods, orange mousse cake, then coffee. AND we were served!!! The dining has been spectacular. = D


Finally, I ended my day with some nighttime punting. I think I really really like punting. It's a good arm workout. = ) Nighttime punting is very relaxing...not so many people to run into...but we did come across a bunch of Brits who started throwing seaweed at us....for fun! Not cool...but pretty funny. The night was interesting. = )


Now, I'm left with homework. This will definitely not be a picnic summer school, though it sure feels like it with the things to do around me.