Wednesday, December 26, 2012

December 11-13th Last Minute Preparations

The last of finals has come. A photography portfolio presentation on the 12th, that went really well. My graders and I came to the conclusion that I enjoy taking pictures of the overlooked people in society, the elderly and young. Many of the picture that I took from the semester had reoccurring themes like the pictures with natural frames and photos that tell a story beyond what meets the eye. After my presentation, back to the dungeon to study for my last final, art history. Saying that I felt slightly unprepared would be a fair statement. Waking up at the butt crack of dawn to do a little last minute studying, the day arrived which seemed to help. I think that the final went well. Tea and cake with two friends after the final and then off to pack for the trip of a life time. A few hours after my final on the 13th I set off to London and then the 14th off to Istanbul. Everything has happened so fast in the last couple of months. It seems like I have spent the semester counting down to important things. Ten days till my essay is due, two weeks until we are done with classes. One day till I set off to travel around. Why countdown? My time here in Glasgow has gone by so fast and now that I have less than two weeks left in Europe and three days in Glasgow. Maybe counting down has something to with being a math major, we appreciate numbers. As the countdown for my days in Europe slip by at an alarming rate the goodbyes pill up. The day I left to go to London, I had to say good bye to many friends that I have made here in Glasgow. Excited to travel but sad to be leaving friends behind, causes a mixture of feelings that leaves me unsure to what and how to feel. Until later, happy holidays!
To come: Istanbul, Athens, Rome, then back to Glasgow for a few short hours to pack then back to the midwest.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 2nd-10th... Finals and Essay

Life has become consumed with writing a 4,000 word essay on the Scottish Enlightenment and the influence it had on Thomas Jefferson and the Declaration of Indpendence. One would think that this is an intriguing topic, however, after reading around 20 books from the library I now know more about my good, old friend TJ than his mother knew about him. I am a math major, never in my life have I had to nor cared to write a 14 page essay... In between attempting to write this dang paper, I attempt to revise for my two finals. I think that the only final I am looking forward to is my portfolio presentation for photography. It seems that the closer to the final the more procrastination plagues me. Prime example, tonight I did almost everything possible to not study for History of Art. Another great example, with in the last week I have been to two concerts, Mumford and Sons and the Black Keys. Also I made a trip down to England and visited Liverpool to see the Beatles museum. It was so interesting. I even walked by the bar that the Beatles started playing in. I have so many activities that I need to cram into the next couple of days.  In a matter of four days I will be finished with classes here in Scotland and I will be on a plane bound for London and then on to Turkey. The travels around Europe continue to Greece and then on to Rome and hopefully Pisa, where I can apply some of the valuable information that I have learned in Art History this term. It seems that procrastination and a lack of motivation is a disease that has been infecting all the students in university around the world. Maybe instead of working for the National Geographic I should try to discover a cure for it. Well, I should probably get back to pretending like I am doing some work or better yet go to sleep and dream of how much work I will accomplish tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

November 25th- DECEMBER 1st... Last week of classes

I know that the last couple of weeks I have been stressing how fast time has gone by, but it has. My classes here at Glasgow are finished. I guess this is the point that one would reflect over their time. I don't know what to say really. It seems like a blur. I know that I have learned a lot about art, photography and astronomy. But I think that I have learned the same amount about myself. Not only this semester have I been able to survive a school system that seems very impersonal and at one of the top universities in the world but I have survived situations that I could never have had in the States. I have mastered some of the most complicated subway systems in the world, ALONE and confidant. I have realized the not only in the small town USA that I am from there are ignorant people but all over the world there are people that will try to tell you things that are false. I have also been privileged enough to confirm my belief that happiness is universal. While my time here dwindles away in Scotland, the lessons in and out of the classroom that I have learned will remain with me for ages to come. I am happy to return to the small school that I came from but I will be very sad to leave behind the vibrant culture of Glasgow and Europe.
I used to never be a museum person but here I have learned to appreciate the works and work that goes into creating and maintaining a historical deposit. Here in Scotland I have been able to cross things off my bucket list at least once a month. What a life! This week I submitted two photos to the National Geographic photo contest. One from Paris that I took with my black and white film camera and one that I took on an adventure through the Highlands. I don't think that previous to my travels here I would have been willing to enter or would have I had anything so beautiful to enter.
Taking photos was not something that I enjoyed before, ask my dad. Hopefully the habit of documenting everything here will follow me home. I have two brothers that are growing up way too fast and they need some photos to help remember all their memories.
This reflection is coming a little early but the rest of my time here will be spent studying for horrendous exams and then traveling a small portion of the world. What adventures lie ahead! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

November 19th-24th.. Thanksgiving and

This is the second to last week of lectures! It feels like it is only the second week of lectures. Fortunately, I finished my essay for art history on the weekend so I won't have to worry about working on during Thanksgiving and I can spend some more time potentially studying for my astronomy exam... good intentions but not likely going to happen. Photography class went really well on Wednesday! Most of my pictures from Paris turned out, the ones of the Eiffel Tower at night weren't so good since it was so dark. But the other ones were really good. One of the pictures that I took was very similar to one that was on the National Geographic homepage for photo of the day, I bet the camera that the person used was digital even. I was so proud of myself when I saw how my picture turned out. This is the first Thanksgiving that I spent away from my family. I didn't think it was a big deal until I realized that if I wanted a pumpkin pie or Mom's sweet potatoes, I was going to have to make them myself. We celebrated with the people from out flat. Everyone was suppose to bring something. I made a chicken, didn't get a turkey in time, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, and a pumpkin pie. If I do say so myself, it was all delicious. It was a little frustrating that I had to go to lecture on Thanksgiving and that some people were pretty negative about the celebrations. My only response to the people that knocked the holiday is that if you don't know what it is about and have never participated in it then you have no right to say anything about it; of course I didn't say this to the people that were rude about Thanksgiving I just bit my tongue and cursed them under my breath. Other people were really excited to celebrate the holiday and were so interested that we watched a couple episodes of Friends where they celebrate Thanksgiving. Even though I had finished my paper early I didn't spend a lot of time studying for my astronomy exam, so after stuffing myself at dinner I had to get to work revising. The exam was Friday afternoon so I spent some time Friday morning studying. There were only a few that I wasn't positive about the answers. We will wait and see how it went. Next feat, a 14 page paper on the Scottish Enlightenment! I don't write essays, I am a math major. Looks like this coming week I will be spending a lot of time in the library. 

November 11th-18th

After the long weekend in Paris, most of my time in the beginning of the week was spent sleeping or lying in bed. I think that Paris got the best of me and may have given me a going away gift, a cold. After I took a few days to rest and recover, I had to get back to work two more essays, an exam, and two finals still left in a short matter of time. I spent a lot of time in the resource room for art history trying to find books on Donatello, not the Ninja Turtle, and his master Ghiberti. After researching all week, I sat down Saturday and Sunday to write my essay. To get me excited for a fun filled or lack of fun filled weekend, Friday night I went to a Band of Horses concert. It was great! I was in the second row and a guitar pick was thrown almost directly at my eye. I swatted it away not knowing what was flying at my face, Hannah and I looked all over for the pick and so did everyone else around us. We didn't find it, until Hannah got back and she was getting ready for bed and magically it fell to the ground of her room. I must have swatted it in her purse, hair or sweater. Anyway, she had heckled the band to give her the set list of the concert, so she gave me the pick!! Saturday spent all day working on my essay. To continue the musical weekend I went to the Scottish National Symphony. It was really good, they explained the movements in the first part and then played all the way through after. I only closed my eyes for a few short moments. Coming next week, essay due and another Astronomy exam. Also in photography class I get to develop my last role of film from Paris!!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Paris Pictures: Louvre, Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame

November 8th-10th... Paris

I am back in Glasgow, safe in my room where the majority of the population speaks English and are generally friendly. Paris was overwhelming for the first five hours to say the least. I made it to the airport in Glasgow and made it through customs in Paris. I hopped on a bus that took me to the center of Paris. I was still feeling confident, earlier this year I was able to manage the London underground and the Paris metro seemed similar. Looking at the map, I found the nearest station to my hostel and was able to operate the metro. However, the overwhelming part was finding my way from the station to the hostel, by MYSELF. I don't know any substantial French. I asked people for directions and was blatantly ignored several times. The station that I got off was Bastille circle and there are about six roads that part. I walked up and down ALL of them, unable to find my way. Finally on the last option, I found a lady that had an iPhone and who was kind enough to show me where to go. She didn't really speak French but we managed. I made it to the hostel and realized that staying in a booming metropolis all alone is slightly overwhelming. I went for pizza at six which is odd for French people, usually they eat around nine. After a dinner for one, I headed back to the hostel. Don't worry the weekend gets much better. My roommate for the night showed up. She was a fashion editor from the Ukraine. This was here finally night in Paris and she had met some people earlier in the week. She invited me to join her and her friends for wine and dessert. It was wonderful!! There was a group of about 15 of us. Everyone was very nice and warm, much different than my experience earlier. 
Friday, I was busy running around Paris hopping on and off of metros. I went to the Notre Dame, Meuse d'Orsay, the National Assembly, and Sacré Coeur. Everything was beautiful, it looked like a postcard. After a long day, I headed back to the hostel to meet up with the girls from Glasgow and some of their friends from their home universities. We walked around Paris and headed to the Eiffel tower. Did you know that is shimmers every hour for 10 minutes. It was phenomenal! It is one of those things that you imagine of doing since you are young. I generally don't cry easily but I was almost moved to tears. After all the walking we were starved, so we headed to a small bar where we had some wine and pasta. It was delicous. I don't think that I have ever eaten so much bread except when Grandma makes fresh bread. 
Saturday I spent most of my time in the Louvre and walking around. The architecture in Paris is all Victorian and beautiful! I didn't take very many pictures but I did take a roll of black and white, fingers crossed they turned out. I made it back to Glasgow and had to wait for a bus, after a long wait at the airport and a brief walk back to my dorm I immediately fell asleep. The best nights rest since I have been here. Overall, it was a great weekend. I now know that I can handle myself and any situation presented.

Monday, November 12, 2012

November 5th- 7th

Relaxation and Recovery from horrible week:
The time has come and gone yet again this week. You probably think that I keep forgetting about writing but this small thing called life gets in the way or my not so secret obsession with Friends gets in the way. Monday in the UK is a celebration called Guy Fawkes, I am still not quite sure what the history is behind the holiday but it has something to do with some blowing up the parliament and rebellion. Similar to the movie V for Vendetta, is what I have been told. Monday night we, my flat mates and I, ventured to the Glasgow Green for fireworks. The walk was long and cold but along the river. There were thousands of people on the Green. The fireworks lasted for about twenty minutes and the whole walk back there were other fireworks from surrounding cities. Tuesday night went to a French film that I wouldn't recommend to anyone unless they wanted to be depressed for the rest of the night. I had every intention of starting some work but my motivation depleted by the film. Wednesday night photography class and birthday celebrations for a girl from my flat. Went pretty well this week, still my pictures are not focused the best. Things to work on for the next roll. Thursday I head to Paris... by myself for a day and a half. Nervous considering that a girl in photography told me that two of her friends lost or rather were pick-pocketed and had there passports and credit cards and everything else stolen. I have already had to deal with a stolen credit card here, I don't want that to happen again. Always an adventure!

Monday, November 5, 2012

October 29th- November 4 Week from Hell

This post is so late due to the fact that I have been barely keeping ahead of my classes. So, apparently since there is little busy work in the British school system, all essays and exams carry a lot of weight. We are talking about 40% of my final grade... Two exams and one paper this week. First exam, Thursday was for art history. Task: memorizing a bagillion pieces of art and being able to recite the artist, date, subject, medium and some other random facts. Plus side of this strenuous task, I can now carry on an intelligent conversation with a person about Renaissance art. I now know what counterposto is and what Donatello owes Ghiberti (soon to develop into an essay). After spending countless hours studying for the exam, I felt semi-prepared. The exam went decent, I knew all the artist that we were quizzed on and all the topics. As for the dates, not so much, I thought that being a math major the numbers would stick. 1302 became 1332. Unfortunately you have to be within five years to get the points. Now, we play the waiting game to see what scores I will recieve. Friday, exam 2, Astronomy. I don't know if professors find pleasure in asking the most obscure questions about topics that were barely touched in lecture but this is what happened on the exam. I knew at least 15 of the 30 questions, so I guess that is better than none. I was so preoccupied with studying for my art history exam that I neglected astronomy. Kids, procrastination is the devil and when you procrastinate get ready for hell. Not really but pretty close. Nothing good comes from procastinating. My head was still throbbing after my exam on Friday from memorizing light waves and artists, but when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Still to complete, a 2,000 word paper, which sounded simple. Did you know that is roughly SEVEN pages? Well, it is. Introduction done Friday night, revise intro and two points done on Saturday and finish it on Sunday. Little breaks were taken throughout the weekend but other than that isolation in my room. Let me remind you that Halloween was this week. Did I get to celebrate, minus the candy corn my mom sent? Nope, in my room working on homework all week. I didn't even really get t enjoy photography this week thanks to Art history. Oh, well. So is life, hopefully it will pay off. This week should be much better nothing due and I am heading to Paris on Thursday! As always, should be an adventure!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Pictures from Isle of Skye

Isle of Skye

October 27th & 28th
Set off to the Isle of Skye for the weekend with the International Society. The bus ride was long but was broken up by stops along the way. The landscape is breathe taking and it seems like you are driving through the moors of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Hounds of the Baskervilles. The mountains and the seascape are something that only pictures can describe. The tour was mostly driving from one beautiful site to the next, then briefly getting off the bus and wandering for a few minutes and then boarding the bus and driving to the next stop. Made it back Sunday around 8, I was a frozen ice cube. The weather was very cold, rainy, but the weather added to the mysteriousness of the Isle. The pictures can describe better than I can.

Classes continue

October 22-26
This week brought the realization that I am in fact in Scotland for university and not just to travel. The week to come is filled with exams and papers to be written. This week I got my first grade back. The exam went much better than expected. On the 22 point scale I received a 'very good'. Something kind of humorous is the fact that in the Glasgow grading system there is no 'failing.' Wednesday in photography we were able to develop our second roll of film. I don't think that this roll developed as well as the first but we will see. Half of the pictures I took them in the dark and dim lighting. I was a little nervous that they wouldn't turn out but there were some good ones. The leaves in Glasgow have changed colors and the sidewalks on the way to class are plastered with leaves. It has taken a turn to the cold. I think that next week I will have to cave in and go shopping for a longer and warmer jacket and some boots and wool socks. The posts are getting shorter and the time seems to be slipping by faster. The semester is quickly ending. This weekend I am will be traveling to the Isle of Skye.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Loch Ness and hike pictures

Hogwarts Express and Castle Ruins Pictures


October 20th.. Loch Ness and hiking

Woke up early to venture out into the village. By the time that I had packed everything and made my way out of the hostel it was about nine and none of the cafes were open. Peanut butter and jelly sandwich for breakfast. I made it to the Loch Ness Exhibition center right around 9:30 and was finished walking through by 10:30, it was little eerie. There were movies shown in different rooms that were decorate with memorabilia from the Loch, but I was the only one in all of them. I was a little spooked still from last night too. After the Exhibition Center, I ventured back the way I came from to do a hike up to this fantastic waterfall. I made a few wrong turns but figured it out. I was just about to the top when the girl from the hostel passes me on her way down. She ensured me that I was going the right way and that the view was worth all the sweat. Once again nobody else was on the trail so it was very peacful. Supposedly one of the houses at the top of the hill belonged to the author of Peter Pan ages ago. After resting and catching my breath by the waterfall, I headed back down the hill to try and see if I could catch a boat out on to the Loch. One left at 12 and I had just missed it so I would have to wait till 2 and then hopefully make it back before 3:10 when my bus left for Fort Williams so I could catch my train back to Glasgow. Everything worked out. The tour was ok, I don't know if it I would do it again. The elderly man that was leading the tour seemed pretty convinced that Nessie was real and he kept trying to convince that she was. The tour took us around to the back side of the ruins that I didn't get to see last night in the pitch dark, so that was nice. The weather all day was beautiful. I caught my bus and train and made it back to Glasgow. The train ride seemed to take forever. I had started a book on the way up to Fort William and I finished it on the way back, that is telling you how long the train and bus rides are. I feel pretty proud that I made it on my own! Pictures to come.

October 18th- 19th... Hogwarts Express

Thursday afternoon after classes, Sophia (a girl from my floor) and myself caught a train heading to Fort William where we spent the night in  hostel and woke up early the next morning to ride the Hogwarts Express. That's not really what the train is called but it travels the same railway that the Hogwarts students do in the movies! I felt like just around every bend in the track I would be arriving at  the castle. Even though I never made it to Hogwarts, the train ride was absolutely beautiful. The mountains and the fall foliage we breath taking. Not to mention ever town that we went through the people we lined outside waving to all the passengers on board. The train started in Fort William and traveled all the way north to the costal city Malliag. This is the town that has the ferry to cross over to the Isle of Skye, supposedly the most beautiful place in Scotland (which I will be going to next weekend). We spent a few hours wandering the streets of Mallaig. Quickly before heading back to the train we ate some fish and chips. The train traveled the same route back to Fort William. Sophia and I parted ways once we were back in Fort William. She headed back to Glasgow and I waited for a bus to go to Loch Ness. Friday night I caught my bus and headed to Loch Ness. I was a pretty nervous about spending a night in a hostel by myself. It worked out, the only other girl in the room was from Canada and she had been traveling around Scotland for the last two weeks. We hit it off and thanks to a tip from the hostel manager ventured out in the rain to see the ruins of the local castle lit up and for free. The walk there took about 40 minutes and when I mentioned that it was free, it was only free because we hopped a couple of fences and made our way down to the castle. The manager said that we could and that people do it all the time, so we didn't think twice about it. After taking some poor pictures due to the rain and complete darkness we made out way out of the grounds and were just about to out when I light in a building came on. Panic attack!! Thoughts of being arrested in Scotland ran through my head. Stealth mood activated, we silently climbed the fences and went out the back way. Nothing happened and we made our way back to the hostel with soaking wet boots, pants, and everything else. A quick bowl of lentil soup and then off to bed. Who knew sitting on you bottom all day in a train and bus could make you so tired. Tomorrow, Loch Ness and maybe some hiking.

October 14-17 Loosing track of the Days

Once again I have fallen behind. The days are such a blur, I doesn't seem like I have been here for all most two months. Classes are fully under way, exams and papers are quickly approaching and soon the semester will be over. Wow, I am getting stressed just thinking about the fact that a couple of papers and one or two exams will determine my final grades. No homework assignments to make the tests worth less and no caring professors to hold my hand through the paper writing process. Good thing that right in the middle of the stressful week I have photography. I know that it seems that is all I write about, but seriously, photography class is the one class that I look forward to every week. This week was not as successful as last week but I think that was because I developed all my good pictures last week. We got the cameras for the week again, hopefully I will get some good still-lifes this week. This weekend I am riding the Hogwarts Express!! And then I am doing a solo trip to Loch Ness, maybe I will see Nessie....