Savoring the Last Bit of Summer in Chile

Standard
Savoring the Last Bit of Summer in Chile

The leaves are starting to change in Chile, and, even though it’s mid-April, we’re having some beautiful fall weather. Because Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, the seasons are flipped. So, from mid-November to the end of February it’s summer in Chile. Right now, it’s fall down here (my favorite season), and I’m trying to enjoy every bit of it before winter starts in June. It’s already getting a little chilly, the first hints of the quickly-approaching winter. I’ve heard that winter in Valpo isn’t that extreme; it’s mostly just windy and rainy, but it’s definitely going to be weird to have the height of winter be in July which, for me, is normally one of the hottest months.

This weekend I had the opportunity to go to the sand dunes in the neighboring town of Concón where I enjoyed the last bit of this warm weather. I went with some kids from my program, and we all rented tablas (boards) to surf down the dunes. It was incredible, even though I was covered in sand by the end of the day. We climbed to the top of the dunes to watch the sun set over the water – all in all, a perfect day.

WhatsApp Image 2018-04-14 at 10.56.43 AM

Also, this weekend was my host mom’s birthday, so we had a huge family lunch on Saturday to celebrate. We started off with a delicious fish soup  (and obviously bread–the main-staple of Chilean cuisine) but the main course was the star. My host uncles had a massive pot filled with various shellfish cooked with white wine and vegetables. There were clams, mussels, and other various shellfish I didn’t recognize. Each of us got a bowl filled to the brim with this mix of seafood and broth. I was in heaven.

My real family is from Baltimore, Maryland, so I’ve basically been eating seafood since I’ve been in diapers. Although Chilean-style shellfish is significantly different than Maryland-style (with no Old Bay to be found, unfortunately), it’s still delicious. And the best part is that I got to eat the leftovers for lunch the next day! For dessert, we had a pastry called brazo de reina (queen’s arm); it’s a type of cake roll that’s filled with gooey manjar, the Chilean version of dulce de leche.

Tomorrow, I start volunteering at MingaValpo. It’s an organization dedicated to providing a safe space for children in one of the neighborhoods of Valparaíso, and I’m pretty excited. Being that tomorrow is my first day, I still don’t have many details about my role in the organization, but I do know that I will be helping in the garden workshop where I’ll be teaching kids from the community about how to grow their own fruits and vegetables in an urban environment (along with having fun and playing some games). I’ll definitely have more updates in the weeks to come, but for now, wish me luck!

Advertisements

Getting Lost Is Fun: Wandering around England

Standard
Getting Lost Is Fun: Wandering around England

There is one behavior when traveling that I’ve found is essential to staying safe, and productive, in any foreign setting: having a sense of purpose. When traveling on the streets with a solid idea of where to go next, I find that it prevents me from fiddling with my phone or my guide in the middle of a busy street. Apps like Google Maps have helped me to keep a move on with features like offline maps and dictation of the directions through headphones. Not only is looking like a tourist unfashionable (fashionability in London is a must!), but it can prove to be impractical when I find myself too distracted. For me, it all comes down to the attitude you communicate to other people. Appearing helpless can be an invitation for the kindness of some, but also an invitation for trouble from less charitable people.

DSC_0791.JPG

Wandering in London landed my flatmate and I in the same church where ole William Penn was baptized! How incredible is that? Here is the baptismal register which records it! (Crypt Museum in All Hallows by the Tower, London)

That being said, it’s not always such a bad thing to find yourself wandering around. Just pretending like you know where you want to go next is enough to be able to walk with purpose. And let’s face it: in this age of technology, it’s highly improbably to find yourself truly lost. Sure, I’ve found myself going down the wrong street by accident, but my phone has been pretty good at setting me back on the right track. Besides, it’s the perfect opportunity to discover something unexpected and interesting. There have been countless instances since arriving to the UK where simply walking aimlessly has landed me in what sometimes turned out to be incredible places. It still happens all the time in Norwich, and I’ve lived here for over three months now! When I am really lost and don’t know where to go next, I stop into a café or move to the inside of the sidewalk so I can avoid being in other people’s ways as well as preventing myself from appearing vulnerable.

When I first arrived to Norwich, I took an impromptu trip alone to a coastal town in Norfolk County called Great Yarmouth. This was a trip with no itinerary whatsoever but to see the North Sea. It was built entirely on the intention of walking east and maybe stumbling along some interesting sights along the way. Sure enough this is exactly what happened. More recently, I took a day trip to York during my stay in Leeds. With the incredible kindness of my host family, I had plenty of recommendations on what to do and see during my day there. Still, I am not one for making my own set schedule, so I did often find myself wandering in between stops. It was during these mini jaunts that I found myself in some of the most memorable and beautiful of moments during my trip. Sometimes something as simple as walking through a park and soaking up the sun can mean the world.

DSC_0281.JPG

An attempt to capture the beautiful view of one of my favorite moments in York: sitting on the Ancient Roman city walls, listening to “Here Comes the Sun.” This was the first time I saw a sunny day in a what seemed like a long while.

Reflections While Wining & Dining in Isla de Maipo

Standard
Reflections While Wining & Dining in Isla de Maipo

The good news from last week is that my reading controls went fairly well! The bad news is that I now have another two tests this week for each of those classes (History of Universal Art and History of Chile), so the studying really hasn’t subsided. Although I’m definitely struggling a little bit in these classes, it’s worth the pain because I can already tell how much my Spanish is improving.

After being here in Chile for about a month and a half, I’m really starting to get comfortable here, and it feels a lot more like home. Although I miss my friends more than they will ever know, I’m making new friends here, and it’s a little less lonely. I feel extremely grateful for this opportunity, and a lot of this is due to how incredible my study abroad program is.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m studying abroad through an external program called IFSA-Butler. I think a lot of students are more hesitant to choose an external program for various reasons. They might be worried about the credits transferring, or getting everything approved, or even not knowing any other Temple students that are going. It all boils down to the fear of the unknown– something I completely understand. I went through a lot of the same worries myself, and, honestly, doing an external program has been more difficult for me than if I had done a semester at Temple’s campus in Oviedo, Spain–a program that many of my Spanish major friends have raved about. However, despite the extra paperwork and deadlines that accompany an external program, choosing this external program in Valparaíso has personally been the perfect fit for me.

For example, IFSA-Butler allows me to directly-enroll in classes with Chileans, something that is pretty unique to their program. With IFSA, I can take normal university classes with Chileans, program courses with the 22 students in my program, or classes with international students that are also studying abroad in Valpo. It’s the perfect fit for me because there’s a lot of flexibility within the program, something that can be hard to find in other study abroad programs.

Of course, a more set program might be good for someone who likes a little more structure, which is completely valid. My program has been great for me because I’m fairly independent, so it was nice to be able to create my own structure with my classes and everything. With how many study abroad programs there are out there, everyone should be able to find one that is a good fit!

Amidst reflecting on my study abroad experience so far, I had an exciting weekend experiencing more of Chilean culture. One highlight was a wine festival in Isla de Maipo, a small town about two hours away from Valparaíso in the central valley of Chile. Wine is one of Chile’s main exports (the others being lumber, salmon, and copper). Chile produces mass amounts of wine each year, and, as a result, wine is incredibly cheap here–a decent bottle costs the equivalent of 6 U.S. dollars. I also visited a vineyard there and got to see the whole wine-making process, something that I had never seen before. After visiting the vineyard, we went to the festival, where there were tons of food stands, handmade goods, and, of course, wine.

 

One of the highlights of the festival was trying choripan for the first time. The word choripan is a combination of chorizo (sausage) and pan (bread), so it’s pretty self-explanatory. It’s basically a fat grilled sausage in a piece of crusty bread with a salsa of tomatoes and onions on top. It’s just as delicious as it sounds and is definitely one of the best things I’ve eaten in Chile so far. The festival itself was awesome with lots of handmade goods and wine galore.

DSC08708.jpg

While at the festival, we also went on a tour of the town Isla de Maipo, a small town whose claim to fame is the aforementioned wine festival. One of the most memorable parts of the tour was visiting the memorial for the fifteen men who disappeared after the coup d’état of 1973 that brought Chile into an era of fear and paranoia under the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet and the U.S Operation Condor.  The memorial is in memory of the men from that town that were taken away and murdered by the forces of Pinochet, a sad reminder both of what governments can do to their own people and also the United States’ role in Latin American history.

Apart from the solemn visit to the memorial in Isla de Maipo, I really enjoyed learning more about the wine-making process and getting to explore yet another region of Chile this weekend.

London: Lessons in Museum-Going

Standard
London: Lessons in Museum-Going
As I’ve touched on in previous entries, London is a massively sized city. It rivals New York in this way, along with also being one of the main banking headquarters of the world. Central London is littered with tall suits and briefcases rushing to another day in the corporate life. They walk with purpose and urgency; two traits that aren’t exactly typical of outsiders–like me.
Spending a few days in London has given me the opportunity to take in all the sights and popular destinations that the city offers. Well, it was a start at least. It was impossible for me to see everything I want see in London in only three days, and the past three days have been jam-packed.
Some of the biggest attractions of London for me are the countless museums and galleries. The British Museum for example, with its FREE admission, houses the most extensive, and impressive, collection of artifacts from across the world I have ever seen. I spent three hours spent in there and I’m certain that I didn’t even get through half of museum. The British Library was another one of my priority stops–free, as any good library is, and overflowing with countless, priceless artifacts and original sources. Beyond just literature, it hosts an impressive collection of sound and musical artifacts, including early handwritten drafts of some of the most popular music of all time. I spent significantly little time in my hostel room–at the end of a trip I’ve found that a truly successful trip boils down to that: just how much time was spent exploring, and how little time was spent in bed!
IMG_4768.JPG

A clock– yes, a clock— on display at the British Museum. In a museum that houses millions of artifacts and pieces, my professor’s advice was essential to making the most of my experience there. I found that I gravitated towards the museum’s jaw-dropping collection of clockwork!

With such an abundance of priceless history at my fingertips, I certainly found it easy to experience information overload and become overwhelmed. It reminded me of the valuable advice a cherished professor of mine gave during an Art History lecture: when walking through a museum, gravitate towards whatever catches your eye first and focus on that, as opposed to trying to spend an equal amount of time with every single piece in one room. By following this advice, I found myself fixating on the slightest details and developing infatuations with select pieces, making for a much more memorable and intimate experience that went beyond just seeing certain pieces for the sake of being able to say I had seen them.

Far Too Recent History: The Stasi Museum

Standard
Far Too Recent History: The Stasi Museum

Spending any amount of time in Berlin means being unable to ignore history.

Not a single brick of the city today is without a connection to some of the most important episodes of world history and geopolitics throughout the 20th century. Some sites are unmissable; you can walk along the last remaining stretch of the Berlin Wall at the East Side Gallery or play some soccer at Tempelhofer Feld, the massive park at the former airport that was once the only way out of Berlin.

Some are less visible; you can take the S-Bahn all the way out to Teufelsberg, the remains of a former American/British surveillance center that sits atop a mountain of rubble from WWII, or walk around Mitte and see the intact headquarters of the Luftwaffe, the Nazi German air force.

Along the lines of some of these less-pronounced, but still incredibly sobering, historical relics is the Stasi museum. Nestled in the heart of Friedrichshain in East Berlin, surrounded by blocks of monotonous Soviet-Era apartment complexes, the Stasi museum is housed in the former headquarters of the Stasi, or Staatsicherheitdienst, meaning “State Security Service.”

The Stasi was the official state security service for all of East Germany, or Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR), and was responsible for all surveillance and intelligence in the DDR, both foreign and domestic. It has been described as one of the most expansive, effective, and repressive agencies to ever exist. After touring its former headquarters, one begins to understand why.

The front door to the museum is in a massive, four-block wide series of interconnected buildings that would seem to the unassuming passerby as a large office park. Upon entry, it feels like you stepped back in time. Everything is devoid of color–there is floor-to-ceiling wood paneling and beige, boring carpets covering solid granite or hardwood floors. The only decorations to be seen are the various stone busts of Marx or Lenin that seemed to be at every corner.

The imposing front door to the museum

Our first stop on our guided tour was the foyer where a small model of the headquarters stands in the middle of a room flanked by Hammer and Sickle DDR flags showing just how extensive the place is. Outlined on the map were various places for signal intelligence, domestic surveillance, and interrogation cells. In the back of the lobby was a distinctly soviet era contraption that looked like a food delivery vehicle, but was actually a front for capturing and transporting alleged dissidents and enemies of the state.

Our guide explained to us the history of the Stasi; how they were formed upon the establishment of a totalitarian state in East Germany, how many party officials and Stasi leaders were those who were jailed for being communist during the Nazi era, and how they commanded a group of 91,000 official employees, and hundreds of thousands of unofficial informers.

 

It’s important, presently in 2018, to reflect on those numbers. The guide was talking about a network of nearly half a million spies in a country of around 17 million. That proportion is far higher than the Gestapo or KGB ever were. Stasi informants were your neighbors, your family, and your friends. The Stasi was so concerned about the possible overthrow of its government and defection of its citizens that it had to hire unofficial informants to inform on its unofficial informants. Everyone was always on high alert.

The rest of the tour focused on explaining what people were involved in the surveillance and how it was collected. Housed in the exhibit halls were remnants of devices that you would think came straight from a Roger Moore James Bond movie: cameras hidden inside neckties, mailboxes, and birdhouses. We then learned how lavishly the high-ranking party officials lived while the general populace was forbidden from using Western products and had to wait 15 years (years!) just to get a car.

As I left, I realized just how fresh this memory is for so many current Germans. The Wall fell in late 1989, so anyone from the East who is over 40 has at least some memory of living under a brutal totalitarian state. I also reflected on how much of a difficult transition that must have been for the older DDR citizens who went from living through the Nazi era and the Stasi era, to living in the reunified Bundesrepublik Deutschland, a liberal democratic country. I know that if I had to live with the constant fear of my neighbors and friends spying on me, I am not sure how I could adjust to life in a free society. Besides gaining a newfound knowledge about a major part of German history, I also gained a newfound respect for anyone who lived through the DDR.

 

Surveillance equipment hidden in a car door

The lone hallway decoration: a profile bust of Lenin

A Perfectly Pleasant “Pascua”

Standard
A Perfectly Pleasant “Pascua”

I’m reaching the end of my extended weekend, and I’m so not ready for classes this week. I have two “reading controls” – tests that are solely on the readings for my classes, as the name suggests. In addition to my two massive tests, I also have two essays due this week. At this point, I’m really just trying to take it one day at time.

Something interesting about classes in Chile is that the readings for the class aren’t neatly organized by date and class on the syllabus as with most classes in the United States. Instead, the professor gives you a massive list of readings to complete at some point (preferably before the first reading control). Although I appreciate the decreased rigidity of the classes, it definitely takes a lot of self-discipline to sit down and actually complete all the readings without a set due date.

Besides the dark cloud of impending failure hanging over me this weekend, I did have a lovely Easter weekend (also, quick fun fact – Easter in Spanish is “Pascua”, thus explaining the title of my post this week).  Everything (including the universities) was closed on Good Friday, so I enjoyed a low-key day with my host family. The rest of my weekend was fairly uneventful and mostly consisted of bopping around Viña and Valpo.

Many of the countries in Latin America retain strong Catholic influences left over from hundreds of years of Spanish dominance and indoctrination. Countries like Mexico and Brazil are still majority-Catholic, although their numbers have significantly decreased in the past thirty years. In contrast, there isn’t as much of a Catholic influence in Chile. In fact, about a third of Chile’s population doesn’t believe in any religion, or, at least, so I’ve been told. The upcoming generation of Chileans is especially irreligious, the generation Americans would call “Millennials”.

Despite the decreasing popularity of religion in Chile, Easter still retains its cultural importance, just as it does in the United States. However, one of the main differences is the elevated importance of Good Friday, instead of Easter Sunday itself. As I mentioned, everything is closed on Good Friday and families spend time together. However, Easter itself is pretty uneventful. On Easter, I received a little basket with a bunny and chocolate eggs inside but, besides that and the light lunch I ate with my family, we didn’t do much.

Something important to note is that my host family is not religious, so someone staying with a different family may easily have fostered a different experience. It just surprised me a little bit from an American perspective because Easter Sunday is such an event! At my house in the United States, even though my family is not religious, it’s a whole day event, from the big Easter breakfast and egg-hunting all the way to the excessive feast later in the night. Of course, I missed the whole Easter spectacle a little bit, but the Chilean Easter was no better or worse–just different. I still got some Easter chocolate, complete with the chocolate bunny, so that’s really all that matters at the end of the day anyway!

IMG_20180402_161643.jpg

Makin’ My Way Down South

Standard
Makin’ My Way Down South

After a long week of being sick and using up various rolls of toilet paper, I’m finally starting to feel better. With the beginning of fall here (since the seasons are flipped in the Southern Hemisphere), everyone’s getting sick, including myself. By this point, the flu has made its way around to pretty much everyone in my program.

This weekend I went on a an obligatory trip through my study-abroad program, IFSA-Butler, in which we went to the south of Chile. It is in this region that the majority of the indigenous population lives, the Mapuche. Unlike many other indigenous groups in Latin America, the Mapuche weren’t completely wiped out by the Spanish. In fact, the Chilean state was more of a threat to the Mapuche way of life after a long period of semi-harmony under the Spanish crown. After an especially brutal period of repression under the military dictatorship of Pinochet, the Mapuche people are finally revitalizing their language and culture, raising the newest generation of proud Mapuche.

Slightly pessimistically, I had originally thought that this trip through my program would be a little rushed and trite, as pre-planned trips with a set itinerary often are. However, for this trip, that stereotype did not hold true. From spending the night next to the fire in a traditional ruca (the houses made of straw historically used by the Mapuche) to ziplining across rivers, I enjoyed every second of this trip.


The best part of southern Chile is, by far, the scenery. The south of Chile is incredibly beautiful and totally distinct from Valparaíso. It’s definitely more rural and, by extension, infinitely more peaceful than the bustle of Valpo. In many ways, the south of Chile actually reminds me of my hometown, York, PA, in that both are full of lots of greenery and covered in rolling hills. However, down in the southern Chile, there are a lot more mountains, which is definitely a plus for me as a self-proclaimed hiking fanatic.



I’m continuously amazed by how diverse Chile is as a country, both geographically and culturally. Of course, this makes sense when considering its almost comically elongated shape, but I never realized just how diverse it was until traveling around a little more. Where I was, in the south of Chile, there’s a lot more greenery and mountains and is a little less arid than some other parts of Chile. In contrast, in the north of Chile, it’s mostly desert–the Atacama desert, to be specific. Even between Santiago and Valparaíso, two cities that are both in central Chile (more or less), there are various differences. For example, Santiago is consistently warmer and sunnier than Valparaíso, which is a city that is chronically cloudy, even at the beach! There’s always a strong, chilly breeze in Valpo–the price one has to pay for living on the coast.

Overall, this trip to the south of Chile, to the Araucania, has left me incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have been given. Chile is such a beautiful country, and I’m reminded that there’s so much to see beyond my little bubble in Valpo.

20180324095025_IMG_0453

Culinary Spotlight: The Döner Kebab

Standard
Culinary Spotlight: The Döner Kebab

After the second siege of Vienna in 1683, Ottoman traders first began settling in German kingdoms, bringing with them culture, customs, and cuisine.

Almost exactly 300 years later, the federal government of West Germany formally invited the people of Turkey to immigrate to Bundesrepublik Deutschland in order to address a serious labor shortage.

In 1972, one of those Gastarbeiterin, or “guest workers”, opened up a small fast-food stall in Berlin’s Zoologischer Garten station, one of the busiest stations in former West Berlin. His idea was simple–convert traditional Turkish dish into a form portable and simple enough for those frenetic Berliners to enjoy on their commutes. And so, as legend has it, Kadir Nurman pioneered the Döner Kebab, a simple, yet incredibly complex combination of Kebab meat, vegetables, and sauce in a special, extra-portable pita bread.

I first discovered Döner during my first trip to Berlin in 2014. It was my second day in the city, and my first time out of the US. I was used to your typical array of the American culinary rainbow: Mexican, Chinese, Thai, etc. I had had Mediterranean style food before, like Gyros and Shawarama, but no amount of Gyros could have prepared me for my continually spiritual experiences with Döner.

In the midst of a hectic day covering many of the must-sees of Berlin, my teacher opted to have us stop at a Döner shop for lunch. I had never heard of such a word before. Döner? How does one even pronounce that? Is it “Donner,” like the reindeer? Or is it “Donor,” like a charitable person. Before I could figure it out, there was an indescribable combination of mess and vegetables in front of me. I took one bite, and the rest was history.

Upon return to Berlin this past January, I did not hesitate to reunite with an old friend that had been so reliable, a timeless companion that had been so incredibly good to me the last time: the Döner kebab.

To the great fortune of my taste buds (but to the great misfortune of my bank account), I immediately noticed three (!) Döner places within the immediate vicinity of my apartment.

It did not take me long to figure out my favorite. For the truly unbelievable price of €3.50, I can both fill myself up with two meals worth of food, but also absolute happiness and joy. In fact, I have even struck up an impromptu friendship with one of the workers there, who is helping me with my German as I help her with her English.

In that lies the true magic of Döner. Nothing can connect two cultures like some incredible food. If I were dictating bi-lateral trade talks between the U.S. and Germany (which I someday would love to), I would ensure that Döner was served so that things would go more smoothly.

“Döner macht schöner” or Döner makes you pretty

Spring Break: Preparing for Extended Traveling around England

Standard
Spring Break: Preparing for Extended Traveling around England

It’s officially Spring Break here at UEA! Though the past few weeks have been reminiscent of a break with the lack of class meetings, I’m officially relieved of the responsibility of staying on campus in the event that the strike would come to an end. As a follow-up on my attempts at staying productive: I can proudly say that I did, for the most part, stay productive! Most of my time was taken up by mostly reading, writing, and some exercise to get me in shape for roaming–and possibly hiking!–the English countryside.

IMG_4309 2.jpg

Coupled with the strikes and the start of spring break, there have been some significantly less populated walkways during the week.

Several of my flatmates have taken this opportunity to travel outside of the country to destinations like Greece and Morocco. During my more ambitious moments in planning my travels, I contemplated going outside of the U.K. Maybe in the eventual future it will be nice, but there is so much here in England alone for me to see that I won’t mind at all if I don’t travel outside of the U.K.. I’m even finding that I can’t possibly fit in half of the things I’d like to do in England into a few weeks.

I have been feeling a little disappointed with myself that I’m at home in Norwich during the first week of my break, but as usual my mind is ahead of the rest of me. I am quickly finding that being here is extremely beneficial, not only in planning the logistics of my long trip, but also making sure I get the most out of my destinations. I can’t stress enough the importance of planning ahead as much as you can when traveling. Sometimes it’s exciting to get to a location and figure things out from there–that’s essentially what I did when I went to London for the day. However, on an overnight trip, especially one during a busy time such as Spring Break, it’s really crucial that sleeping arrangements are confirmed well before departure. I also want to avoid as much downtime as possible, so having a good idea of the things I want to do in my destinations is sure to prevent that. Here is a rundown of the agenda so far:

  1. Three nights in London with a flatmate. We’ll be stopping at some museums of course, and I intend to make it over to the British Library, where some of the nation’s most treasured artifacts lie for the enjoyment of the public– completely free!
  2. Straight from London to four nights in Liverpool. I don’t think it’s too much to say that my entire life will have led up to the moment I find myself in the original Cavern Club…
  3. Four nights in Leeds, where I will get to finally meet my mother’s friend of whom she’s always talked so affectionately. I’ll be sharing my great gratitude to her, not only for helping me in my travels, but also for making my family’s own memories of England so sweet.
  4. Lastly (so far), Newcastle-upon-Tyne for three nights. When I first expressed my plans to go to Newcastle during my stay here, many of the flatmates native to England’s reactions ranged from confused interest to warnings of hard-to-understand accents. Newcastle to me holds a lot of poetic and historic beauty that I’m certain will define my time there.

This will leave me with a little less than a week left of time during the break for me to travel, or to get back into the swing of things early on campus. Either way, this Spring Break is already the best I’ve ever had, as I’m typing this from a place I thought I could only dream of being. Now, it’s back to planning… and finishing the coursework that’s due upon returning so I don’t have to stress out over it later!

IMG_4283.JPG

Though it doesn’t exactly feel like Spring… it sure looks like it! Future forecasts are already looking warmer.

A University Strike and Local Wanderings: The Ultimate Test of My Time Management Skills

Standard
A University Strike and Local Wanderings: The Ultimate Test of My Time Management Skills

UEA’s professors and lecturers that are part of the University and College Union are on strike in protest of proposed cuts by University UK. The strike has been for the past two weeks and will go on at least until the beginning of Spring break. The University and College Union is comprised educators across the country, so this is a strike on a major scale, impacting both educators and students in huge ways. Classes are still in session in the sense that we are expected to complete the work assigned according to the syllabus, and some non-demonstrating staff are able to continue class meetings. This leaves me with only one class meeting a week–a two hour seminar for my Shakespeare class.

IMG_4297.JPG

“Hey, UEA, Don’t take my pension away!” I wish UEA’s staff and educators the best of luck!

What do I do with the rest of that time? More aptly put, what do I try to do with that free time? Well, firstly I try to stay as productive as possible. This includes tidying up my room, getting ahead on readings for class, and writing for my assignments due in the future. As a student that doesn’t have a job to go to while I’m here, however, I have a lot of free time that those activities just can’t feasibly fill entirely. I can say, however, that I am beginning to find a daily routine that not only keeps me productive, but also allows me to appreciate the unique offerings that my host town has to offer.

It’s easy to find myself holed up in my room. Did you know that the Netflix selection in the U.K. is very different from the selection in the U.S.? There are plenty of British comedies and dramas for me to enjoy, such as Fawlty Towers, starring one of my favorites from Monty Python, John Cleese. Also, I have finally watched the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice and, yes, it’s true: Colin Firth is the Mr. Darcy (though I still adore the 2005 film!). There are even some U.S. shows on Netflix that aren’t available at home… have I made my point yet? I love Netflix just as much as any other person, and obviously I now have a better appreciation and knowledge of British television… but a day, or days spent on it is, in my opinion, a waste.

So, one day I decided I would walk into town instead of taking the bus and I’ve been doing it just about every day for the past week since. It feels great not only because I’m getting some exercise, but because I can take in all of the beauty and scenery that is so unique to English roads. Once I’m in town, I usually walk around for a bit and do some (window) shopping. Based on what they’re selling, I think the British have a great sense of fashion! Norwich is also a town abundant in places to shop with two malls and countless shops along the streets, so there is a large selection to choose from for whatever it is that you may be looking for. After walking around, I normally stop by the Millennium Library, take a seat, and get some work done for classes. As you may know from my short bio, I was very excited to check out Norwich’s public library system, and I’m happy to say that the Millennium is even more impressive than its photos make it appear.

IMG_4357

I promise I’m not cheating, Free Library of Philly. Nothing compares to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4289.JPG

The Second Air Division Memorial Library at the Millennium Library. During the Second World War, the U.S. Air Forces flew from airfields across East Anglia. To honor those who lost their lives, the Second Air Division dedicated this library to them, the walls adorned in a visual history of the Air Force.

I went into this journey thinking that spare time would not be an applicable concern for me–obviously a belief that I now see as entirely improbable regardless of the strike. Even though I’ll still enjoy the occasional Netflix Binge, I believe the fact that I can look back on the past week and say I spent it productively despite the circumstances is just one of the several personal achievements I feel like I can claim since arriving here.

MV5BYzc3MTQyYzMtMWY4Ny00N2RiLWI3ZDYtOWRlYjUxZDllMjQxXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNzkwMjQ5NzM@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_.jpg

Needless to say, one of my totally-not-important goals is to finish this hilarious series while I’ve got the access to it.