Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lil' Update.

I'm in Spain! Which is about all I have to say about that.

So Germany. How do I even begin. It was hands down my favorite place I've been here, and definitely one of my all time faves. I left France by trains, planes, and automobiles. I loved it, I got to see the Rhineland and all this beautiful countryside. It looks like a fairytale, like the Brother's Grimm will come riding out of the forrest at any second.

I have a whole bunch more to say about Germany, but I'm quite tired right now and sick again, so I think I will save it for another time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's like getting my big break and laryngitus...

Julia Bovee is a saint (which you say “sahnnnn” in French). I’ve been really really sick the last couple of days, and she’s not only given me her bed, but also done things like bought me food and played translator at the doctor, which even for a easy thing like a sinus infection/icky cough is pretty tough. There are a lot of colloquials when it comes to being sick. But the doctor also was good at pantomiming, (his rendition of a fever was my fave), and I’m on the road for recovery just in time for Germany.

I’ve been super negative the last week or so, partially because I was so bummed that I had to stay in bed instead of like traipsing around Le Mans, but it’s probably a good thing I got sick here instead of the other places I’m going. Plus traveling all grown up style, I’m finding, doesn’t go as smoothly as I thought in my head. It’s pretty easy to miss a train or mess up a budget or be on the wrong page with weather or language. It’s hard that it’s so different from what I planned, but it’s also kind of cool that I’m the one doing everything. I dunno. It’s good because I am a real person in a year when I graduate, but it’s nice to feel like an adult now.

Le Mans is nice. It’s been on and off rainy/sunny which feels like Spokane, and the other night we went to this buffet thing that I swear was Sweet Tomatoes. Oh, and it is Spring here. In Chester, Spring was teasing all of us, like buds were showing up but everything was still brown, but here, nuh huh. It’s definitely already sprung. There are birds everywhere, flowers, and leaves on the trees, it’s like happiness bursting out of nature’s finger tips. I’m sad I have to leave soon, but I’m excited to see what March has done to Germany.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paris with Friends

I'm on break and off traveling.

I got into Paris on Thursday, and it was lots of things. This is going to sound dumb, but I always think it is fascinating when I go to another country and they speak another language. I just love the everyday things like ads and signs that are all in (this case) French! It is so cool. Unfortunately that awesome factor wore off too quickly. I speak no French. None. Everyone is always like “all the Romance languages are so similar, you can totally manage”. Well yes and no. I speak Spanish, but let me tell you. French is not Spanish. In between landing and eventually finding my friends, I managed to pay too much for a taxi and take a lovely tour of the outskirts of Paris. I only cried once, and even though I was super late, I found Julia and my hotel eventually.

Paris was beautiful. French people are so nice. Even to a stupid American who could only point.

It’s interesting being with people I know and other Americans. I found myself getting frustrated by group traveling and sort of just weirded out by being with American kids. I feel like it’s sort of a mini snap shot of what going home is going to be like. I think I’m a lot more independent than I feel.

I’ve been a little jealous of my friends since I’ve been here. It’s hard to compare experiences, but they all want to stay in France forever, and while I really like Chester and England, that’s just not how I feel about it. I think it’s good that I am traveling for a while, so I can adjust my attitude and come back refreshed to England, but right now I’m just sort of feeling like there something wrong with me for looking forward to going home.

That being said, I love my friends, and it was so so so wonderful to be with Natalie and Julia. We did everything in Paris. The museums, the shops, the tombs, the meals, the churches, everything. I love France. I can understand why everyone wants to move here (to teach English/get married and have French babies). There were so many things that were so different from England. London and Paris are both international culturally, but in really different ways. It was odd too, Paris had so many American tourists. I couldn’t tell if it was because it’s now spring break time, or there are just more Americans there, but I couldn’t go more than five minutes without hearing American English. It was nice to see new architecture too, Gothic Churches start to all look alike after a while, so places like Sacre Coeur were a welcomed sight.

Paris just feels like a smile. Everyone seems to hum to themselves or bring you bread or chocolate or the kiss kiss thing on the cheeks. It’s a lot sunnier and warmer here too. It’s amazing what the sun does for your mood. Laughing with great friends doesn’t hurt either. Julia, Natalie and I sang the "Three's Company" theme song off pitch waaay too much.

While Paris was incredible, I love Le Mans. Julia is doing exchange here, and it’s so nice. It looks a lot like Spokane, (which is weird), but prettier. Like maybe if Spokane and San Francisco had a baby. I picked up a mystery illness in Paris, and so I’m looking forward to taking it easy and getting better while I sample Julia’s life.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Short and boring.

Ugh. It’s warming up which means our room was super hot last night which mean bed at 4 and up at 1 today. I feel like a wasteman.

The last week has been pretty normal, school, groceries, working out you know routine.

Here’s an interesting fact about the gym here. Well for starters they don’t say “working out”, they say doing exercises or training. But another cultural difference is that everyone looks super nice at the gym. Like wears polo shirts a bucket of cologne and occasionally slacks. Commmmmmpared to me, who wears basketball shorts and a giant baggy t-shirt. I’m not really planning on changing, but I feel a little left out seeing as everyone else must know something I don’t. Like that there’s some cool party in the gym. Or some attractive person I should try to ask out. Or some celebrity that’s visiting. But since so far, the only thing the gym seems to be good for is working out, I’m not going to dress up.

This is going to be a very busy week. I actually have a fair amount of homework to do before spring break and the end of the semester.

Still need to do laundry…story of my life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010



So Suvi and I went to London this past weekend. I had been a few years ago and was a little nervous that it was going to be different then I remembered. Wrong. It is the best. Chester is someplace I live, London is like…fill in this space with all clichĂ© about souls and love and home.

We started got there around noon on Saturday after one of my first non-motion sick train rides, (hurray!), and Suvi showed me around the Tube, ending up at our hostel. It wasn’t really a hostel; it was the Finnish Church that had rooms for rent. Nice rooms. Like super clean, had a semi-private bathroom, delicious breakfast, and no bed bugs. It’s the little things in life. Anyway after a lot of Finnish conversations that I understood none of but enjoyed thoroughly, we hopped back on the underground and sped off to the West End.

I love Trafalgar Square. It was so sunny on Saturday, which made everything stunning. I just loved the pigeons, the people, the Bobbies, the behemoths of building, everything. We enjoyed the sun for a bit, and then headed off to find the Novello theatre to collect our tickets. It was so fun traipsing around the West End. I think if I’m ever a resident of a giant city and really posh, I will go to the theatre whenever a new play comes out. After getting our tickets, we had sandwiches at the best cafĂ© ever. You got to pick out your own fillings, like Subway, but unlike that fine establishment, this place had fillings like sun-dried Italian tomatoes, grilled zucchini, goat cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and cutlets of beef. Listen folks, I live off of soup and toast most days, so this was like Christmas in my mouth. We then hopped on back to the Novello to watch Cat on A Hot Tin Roof. It was fantastic. James Earl Jones starred as Big Daddy, and the rest of the cast absolutely held up their own. I love Tennessee Williams, (really anything out of the Southern Renaissance), but it is so nice to be able to see his work instead of read it. Especially when in the hands of such talent.

After the show we had some pricey but tasty dinner and found out that our seats for Waiting for Godot had been cancelled by Mr. Internet, but the lovely man at the box office upgraded us three balconies down and kept our same price. Someone should beatify him.

I can’t even tell you how good the show was. So I won’t. But I will tell you that Beckett is brilliant. The cast was brilliant. And it was the best production I’ve ever seen. I was speechless at the end.

Thank goodness Beckett’s god isn’t my God.

Afterwards Suvi and I were like, hey let’s go stalk the cast at the stage door. So we did. Which meant we were rewarded by meeting the entire cast, and last not but not least, Sir Ian McKellen. Oh. Em. Gee. When we were waiting in line, Suvi, the guy next to us from Bellingham (weird right?) and I were all talking about how we had no idea what we would say if he came out, and that was accurate. Oh man, he was just the picture of an English gentleman. He was tall and polite (although I was expecting him for some reason to be like 6’11, probably because of Gandalf’s pointy hat…). He went through the entire line in front of me, and got to me and said:

“So we have France, Italy, England, Finland and…”

“Phoenix” (omg omg omg omg)

“Ah, Phoenix. What a lovely place. I’ve been there, so warm. Did you see William Hurst come out earlier?”

“Yes I did, that was neat… I really enjoyed the show, thank you so much…”

“Ah, I am glad, why thank you.”

(Rude-interrupting-French Kid) “Excuse me sir, may I picture?”

“Yes if it’s quick” Walks away after shaking my hand.

So that was like the highlight of you know, my month.

We finally after a lot of wandering and giggling made it back home. The next day was like knowledge overload. After taking our pictures at platform 9 3/4, we went to the British Library where I saw pretty much every famous manuscript ever. Including but not limited to:

Magna Carta, Guttenberg Bible, Beowulf.


Then, we made a mad dash to Camden Town. Interesting place. Sort of like if a farmer’s market, punk music, and the Oriental Trading company had a baby. It was fun though. Suvi met a friend from home, so she was really happy. I kind of went off and did my own thing, mostly consisting of eating Mexican food and finding fun hats.

I got burned out pretty fast from all the crowds and selling and yelling, so I left Suvi and Camden to try to squeeze in a few hours at the British Museum. If the British Library has every manuscript ever, then the British Museum has the history of humanity. In four buildings. There is nothing like it in the States, save maybe all the Smithsonian’s put together. How do you even describe artifacts from Nebuchadnezzar, Egyptians, Assyrian, Greeks, Romans, Mayans, Anglos Saxons, the Americas, Chinese explorers, Indian temples, ancient masks from central Africa, ugh. Literally every culture in every epoch. Trying to narrow it down leaves me with, the Rosetta stone, the Sutton Hoo burial artifacts, a jade mask from South America, an Easter Island head, Ramses II stuff, and lots of things from Babylon. It was incredible. I basically ran through it because I only had an hour and a half, but I could have stayed in there for months.

I spent the rest of the day recovering from little sleep and lots of walking in a coffee shop, then met up with Miss Suvi, and headed home. I can’t wait until I live in London someday. Or at least go back this semester.

Here are my pictures.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Canterbury and Tales

Ugh. Keeping up a blog is sometimes hard to remember to do. Well let’s see. Last week was bad. My mom left and the sun didn’t come out at all. Between those two things I was like the most homesick I’ve been yet. I also was just like in my room the entire week, pretty much just sleeping and going on facebook. Not a healthy routine. I also got kind of frustrated about deadlines back at home that I was sort of out of the loop on, and I made several upset phone calls home.

Because of all of that I was not excited to go away for the weekend with a bunch of choir kids that I only sort of knew. However, it turned out to be the best weekend ever. We drove all day Friday, (which meant I got to skip my worst lecture, YES), south, which was like about 6 hours, mostly because of traffic when we hit the edge of London. It was funny, at one point we started crossing this river, and I asked my friend Tony what it was, and he said “that big muddy ditch is the Thames.” EEK! So exciting. I don’t know how many times I can bring up how lovely the English country side is before it starts to get boring to y’all, but here I go again. It’s beautiful. Pastures of green with docile, loving sheep munching away, all set to the back drop of fairy tale towns. Love. Well after some time, we pulled into our hotel, which I was expecting to be barely above a hostel, but it wasn’t. It was sooo much better than that. It was a nice hotel with a TV, clean sheets, oh man, like civilized life. We then went to the first rehearsal at the school in the town of Canterbury with the 300 other choir kids, and then came back and crashed. Then the next day we did Canterbury in full glory. We started the morning off with a dress rehearsal in the quire of Canterbury Cathedral. Canterbury is probably my favorite cathedral I’ve been to yet. It is stunning. Absolutely breathe taking. Even in this time, it makes you feel utterly miniscule and mortal, but it also made me feel like I was protected by an awesome and terrible God. I think that’s really the point of Gothic Architecture, but in our modern day world, there aren’t many opportunities to feel insignificant in a good way. And I can’t even begin to describe the stain glass. It was like the walls of the church were on fire. Well, anyway we had our rehearsal and then we had like 7 hours of free time. A bunch of us decided to walk around the Cathedral first. There is so much history there. We saw the place that Thomas Beckett was martyred; we saw where his shrine was, the black prince, and the chapel of modern day martyrs. I was really touched at the display and prayers from around the world. One of my friends in choir is a monk named Nelson, and he showed us the page in the book that talked about his brothers who had been murdered a few years ago for standing up for their faith. It was a pretty powerful experience reflecting on the lives and deaths of those people.

After spending a ridiculously long time in the church, and an even longer time in the line at the gift shop, we went to next most visited point of worship, meaning of course, Starbucks. We had a good laugh at my new friend Heather’s impression of an American accent and a good long think on the implications of a Starbucks in an old vicarage from like 1430, and then went on our merry way to the wax works Canterbury Tales. Now it’s a little bit misleading to call them wax works, because what is really was, was a fully animatronics and life size recreation of a good portion of Chaucer’s work. My favorite was probably the Wife of Bath, but that’s my favorite in the actual story so…

Oh! I should mention how we got into this little attraction. We were waiting in line, and we started chatting up the cashier. She found out we were a choir, and then told us we should sing for her. We did, and then she let us in for free. It pays to be a choir kid sometimes.

Anyway. After the Chaucer extravaganza, we went walking through town determined to find the Norman Castle we’d seen on our way in. Canterbury was a Roman fort that became an Anglo-Saxon stronghold (hence the “bury” in its name), that then became a walled city. Just like York. And Chester. So naturally, it looks just like York and Chester, only with different colored limestone. Well, after meandering through the lovely shops and narrow streets, we emerged with the ruins of this magnificent castle in front of us. Because of its location, the Norman’s chose Canterbury for one of their first settlements post-conquering, and this castle was the ruined remains of that jaunt. It was so cool. I can’t get over how cool castles are. They look just like every book I read as a kid. This one was especially cool, because some of the staircases were still intact, which meant all sorts of Repunzel type posing and fake sword fighting ensued. We finally went back to the school, grabbed some dinner, and then headed back to change and take our seats for the concert.

It was so eerie and beautiful in the Cathedral at night. It seemed just, I don’t know, reverent isn’t even a strong enough word. It was utter blackness, with columns of light where we would be singing. I was in awe. But then the concert started, and it was different. The second half was my favorite part. We as a collective group sang Rutter’s Requiem. It’s one thing to sing liturgical music with a choir. It’s another thing entirely to sing it with 300 other people in an ancient and colossal space. That’s about all I have to describe it.

Afterwards, we had a fair amount of fun back at the hotel with the other choirs staying there. I learned a lot of English drinking songs. And football songs. And rugby songs. And was reminded again how much British people like living life to the fullest. It was great though. Then it was a spot of Olympics and bed. The next day was entirely new friends on a happy (slightly tired and…well you know) bus and then rest at Chester.

Since then we’ve had several days of sunshine, Suvi and I booked tickets to London this weekend, and basically just overall happiness. My scary spider bite is even almost healed. Yay life!!