Wanderings and Ponderings

My Study Abroad Adventures in England & France


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Rendre-visite en France

Bonjour, France

Bonjour, France!!

Over Easter break, my friend Kelsey invited me to go see her in the town of Antibes, in the French Riviera. She managed to show me an incredible amount in just 3 days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

First sights

First sights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

First sights

First sights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

View from balcony

View from balcony

 

The night I arrived, we had a calm night in, cooking breakfast at Kelsey’s apartment while she introduced me to her flatmates. The apartment, an off-campus apartment owned by the SKEMA program she’s participating in, is stunning. Plus the view of the living room is of the ocean (complete with balcony).

 

 

View from balcony

View from balcony

Bakery

Bakery

Cochon (marzipan covered coffee chocolate) & tarte aux fraises

Cochon (marzipan covered coffee chocolate) & tarte aux fraises

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelsey took me to the bakery that she and her flatmates all frequent, and let me order the baguette and desserts. Getting to use my French made me much happier than I expected and I gleefully acted like a little kid after the event :D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Train ride to Italy

Train ride to Italy

The next day we got up around 7 and took a train to…Italy! That was a VERY cool surprise. I’d never been to Italy before, and to just be able to take a train there the same way I would take a train to London was beyond cool.

 

 

 

Ventimiglia, Italy

Ventimiglia, Italy

 

The town of Ventimiglia/Ventimille (Italian/French) was truly gorgeous. We spent the morning walking around the local market, and I’d made it to every “market” photo I’d seen in my life. There was booth after booth of brightly coloured, fresh fruits and vegetables. For lunch we grabbed a sandwich and supplemented with fruits from the market.

 

 

 

 

 

Market

Market

Market

Market

Market

Market

Market

Market

The other section of the market was entirely filled with material goods, like purses, scarves, etc. I bought several scarves for €2 each – really, you can’t beat that! We also got to see a bunch of guys running from the cops with their goods. Kelsey says they either got caught without their permit to sell, or the cops caught them with fake goods. Before heading back, we grabbed some gelato (a necessity in Italy, right?).

 

 

 

Market

Market

Guys running from police

Guys sneaking away from police w/ illegal goods

Monaco

Monaco

We decided to stop off at Monaco (a principality of France – that’s how they have the prince/princess etc.) before going back to Antibes. That was really an incredible experience. I think my cousin Anne describes it best by saying “it oozes wealth.” Really, EVERYONE is walking around all fancy-schmancy in Italian leather shoes and designer suits and dresses. The only shops you see are the most high-end ones – Rolex, Chanel, Burberry, etc. It’s like a different world, for sure.

Monaco

Monaco

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monaco Palace

Monaco Palace

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monaco

Monaco

The architecture of the city was *beautiful* and we also walked around a park for quite a while getting some really lovely views of the sea. I still can’t get over just how blue it was. I could have looked at it all day. After the park, we walked to the Monaco casino and the Monaco Grand Prix. It was a fantastic day!

 

 

 

 

 

Monaco

Monaco

Monaco Grand Prix

Monaco Grand Prix

Casino Monte Carlo

Casino Monte Carlo

Millefeuille

Millefeuille

 

That night, we went to dinner at a local Antibes restaurant for a traditional French dinner. Going out to eat in France is more of a big deal, and they expect you to take at least a couple hours. So it was really fun to get to do that! Kelsey ordered a mille feuille which looked like quite the incredible dessert. Afterwards we went to a little bar called the Hop. It had a great, warm atmosphere and wasn’t overly loud so we were able to talk. I got a (nonalcoholic) margarita which was absolutely incredible.

 

 

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Antibes Market

Antibes Market

 

 

The next day we explored French markets! We began in Antibes, where we grabbed a small variety of foods for breakfast and ate it looking over the ocean. Then we headed to Nice, where we explored the food market, flea market, and the town in general. I grabbed a couple blood oranges, saving one to take to my mom. We also got a kilo of strawberries for only 3 euro! We hung out on the beach for a while, eating strawberries and relaxing. Kelsey tanned and I childishly played in the water collecting rocks. We headed back early that night so we could get up early the next day, and made supper in Kelsey’s apartment.

 

 

Market breakfast

Market breakfast

View of the ocean as we ate breakfast

View of the ocean as we ate breakfast

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Nice beach

Nice beach

IMG_8256The next day, the members of the SKEMA program and I took a boat to l’Ile Sainte-Marguerite, an island just off the coast of Cannes. There, we visited a museum, the prison where the “Man in the Iron Mask” was held, and hiked around. The island itself was absolutely beautiful, but we decided to leave once it started raining. Afterwards, we walked around Cannes – neither Kelsey nor I had ever been. It was quite a picturesque city and I enjoyed wandering up and down the city streets. Before we left, I popped in the chocolate shop “Lac” and picked out some macarons to take to my mom the next day. When we got back, we decided to have sushi delivered of supper (I’d never had it before). It turned into a 3 hour affair that ended in us walking to the shop to retrieve the sushi. But, the the food was delicious!

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The next day, we both got up and left early – Kelsey for an exam, and myself for the airport. Overall, it was a wonderful trip!

Kelsey managed to show me what seems like the entire Riviera in 3 days – it was an immense amount of fun, and cool to visit such a beautiful place.

 

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Tick tock, goes the clock

…and all the years they fly.

As of today, I have exactly one month left in Canterbury. One month left to explore. One month left to be with my friends. One month until life returns to, shall I say, “normal.”

I truly can’t believe I’ve been here four months. Has it really been that long? It’s all gone by so quickly. In the moment, time seems magical and frozen. Yet looking back, the hours and days and weeks all mix together into some sort of blur.

As much as I don’t want to think about leaving, I feel that it’s important that I write this. Now, before I really do have to leave and can’t bear to do it.

When I visited my friend Kelsey in Antibes, she mentioned something her program director asked them – “When you are on the plane going home, what will you remember? And when you land? And when you get home, and are sitting in your room unpacking, reflecting on the semester, what will you remember then? What mattered most? What changed you?” It makes me tear up to think about this, but I’ll answer the question.

The most important thing to me here has been the friends I’ve made. My faux-family consisting of Lee, Rachel, Sieu, and Ian. The dinners we’ve had together will be forever in my memory. Lauren, one of the best friends I’ve ever had, not to mention an excellent travel buddy. My British flatmates – Beth, Treya, Gemma, Tiff, and Alice. Joining them for dinner and comparing cultures has been invaluable. Tea society with Brooke, David, Nina, Sona, Georgie, and Lena. Practicing French with Sonia and Marine. Coping with “Morphology Madness” with Helen, Lauren, Ruth, Emily, Amber, Tegan, and Eloise. Working on Foundations with Oli and Elena. Hanging out with Ralph, Jess, and Jasmine. Plus many other equally important people who I’m sure will come to mind later – I’ll add you gradually :) I’ll never forget any of you. Each of you contributed so much to my experience here, and I’d just like to say thank you for that. You’re all wonderful people.

My friends and I have discussed doing a mini book club when we get back, to help stay in touch, as well as Skyping a lot, but I hope that I’ll be able to take a road trip to see them in person before too long.

I’ll miss the spontaneity and the constant stream of adventures. Visiting new cities on a regular basis. Wandering for the sake of wandering, and getting lost for the sake of getting lost.

I’ll miss being immersed the British culture and hearing British accents first thing in the morning. The courteousness and patience of the British people in general. The novelty of something as simple as Poundland. I’ll definitely miss the bus system and riding/walking to town on a whim.

Living here has been a priceless experience. Luckily, I get to repeat the study abroad experience in Nantes, France next term. I can only hope that it will be as wonderful as this has been.


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UK Election 2015

As some of you know, the other day was Election Day in the UK. David Cameron, leader of the Conservative Party, was reelected as Prime Minister.

Obviously, things are done a bit differently here than they are in the States, so I thought I’d so some research into the differences between the two systems. Cultural differences, right? I’ll outline it a bit here :)

1) The elections are held every 5 years instead of 4. This is actually a recent piece of legislation. Prior to 2011, the dissolution of Parliament was exercised by the Monarch (usually at the request of the Prime Minister) and elections could be held any time.

2) The Prime Minister (PM) and Members of Parliament (MPs) are elected simultaneously. The heads-of-party (e.g. David Cameron=Conservative, Ed Miliband=Labour, Nigel Farage=UKIP, Nick Clegg=Liberal Democrat etc. etc.) compete for the position of Prime Minister.

The Prime Minister is decided based on who wins the most constituencies. You don’t vote directly for the Prime Minister, you vote for who you want to be the Member of Parliament for your constituency. Since Conservative (Tories) Members of Parliament won the most seats in this election, David Cameron won the position of Prime Minister, as he is the Conservative party leader.

UK 2015 Election map - Constituencies

UK 2015 Election map – Constituencies

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

UK 2015 Election results

UK 2015 Election results

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Prime Minister is also a Member of Parliament (e.g. David Cameron is the MP of the constituency “Witney”).

3) While the U.S. has many parties, it really only has 2 main ones – Democratic and Republican. Here, multiple parties play key roles in politics. Here’s a photo of a debate I was watching on tv the other day. Notice all the parties – it’s a veritable rainbow.

UK Political Debate

UK Political Debate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4) Despite the similarity in some of the names, the party ideology is often quite different from that of parties in the states. For instance, the Conservative party here is really rather liberal in comparison to the U.S. Republicans. Notice what they support/don’t support:

Republican / UK Conservative / Democratic party policies

Republican / UK Conservative / Democratic party policies