Thursday, July 28, 2011


"Harry, the time for Disarming is past! These people are trying to capture and kill you! At least Stun if you aren't prepared to kill! ...Expelliarmus is a useful spell Harry, but the Death Eaters seem to think it is your signature move, and I urge you not to let it become so."
        - Remus Lupin to Harry (Deathly Hallows ch.5)

It is hard to put into words how much I love Harry Potter. Lets just say, a lot. Though it should have come when I turned thirteen, I still wait for the owl to bring my Hogwarts acceptance letter. So, you can imagine my utter glee at the opportunity to watch the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two in the land of its origin. 

First, however, I went to visit the cafe in Edinburgh that J.K. Rowling wrote the inspired series.
The Elephant House
H.P. toilette seat, I will be needing one of these for my apartment next year!

Then, I found a few other Harry Potter fanatics and created a wicked gang of look-alikes. 
 We realized that we basically live at Hogwarts, so we better take some pictures around our "castle"! 

 Hermione, Luna, Mrs. Weasley, Bellatrix
One of my favorite pictures of "Luna" from the afternoon!
 Just battling a Death Eater, no worries good prevailed
Don't judge me, I still have some muggle friends.

Finally, I commemorated the end of an era with mixed emotions. I guess I will just have to read the books again.
SO SAD!!!!

but, Cheers anyways

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Change of Accents

"Yet in my heart of hearts I long to be buried among the good scots clods. I will say it fairly...there are no stars as lovely as Edinburgh street lamps."
-R. Louis Stevenson

I can't say that I necessarily want to be buried in Scotland, but I did thoroughly enjoy spending my first weekend in the UK amongst the men in kilts. I promise I am in the middle of the most academically rigorous two months of my life, but our program decided to treat us to a spectacular kick-off weekend. 

We left on Wednesday and stopped in Richmond, England.
view from the castle

 a quick break from the rain

After an excruciatingly long bus ride, we made it to the scottish border, where of course everything started looking plaid :)

I spent the next two days exploring Edinburgh. Sidenote: I was still in my broken foot boot at this point, and it rains incessantly in Scotland, which made for some interesting, highly acrobatic falls.
 First, I stopped at the Edinburgh castle, which, it is important to note, was the inspiration for Hogwarts. I loved the Mary Queens of Scots exhibit and the War Memorial.


I learned about many famous Scots through the Writers Museum and the monuments including Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Robert Burns. Oh, and I can't forget Adam Smith who we (the econ nerds) made proud with a little supply and demand :)

I took an insiders tour of parliament and got to see the actual debating chambers as well as some of the committee rooms.

 I climbed to the highest point in Edinburgh (Arthur's Seat) for sunset, but of course didn't have my camera and thus took a picture from afar the next day.

I went to the Dan Brown's inspiration for DaVinci Code, the Rosslyn Chapel (which doesn't even mean rose line and is not at all how the book depicts it). But it was one of the most ornate and unique churches I have seen.

Finally, I did something completely out of character and went on a Ghost tour. Edinburgh is notorious for its dark, gruesome past and its perpetual hauntings. We clambered through the damp cellars of bridges where thousands of people were burned alive and crammed into the chambers of the first concentration camp in Europe. I nearly peed my pants... multiple times. Needless to say, I slept with the light on that night!

And then we said goodbye to the beautiful city of Edinburgh.

BUT...on the way hoe we received a delightful surprise when we stopped for lunch at Fountains Abbey. The oldest abbey ruins in the world, these have been standing since 1132!



Sunday, July 17, 2011

Yes, I Do Go To School

That man is best who sees truth himself;
Good too is he who listens to wise counsel.
But who is neither wise himself nor willing
To ponder wisdom is not worth a straw.
~Hesiod in The Ethics of Aristotle

I am hoping that during my time here at Cambridge I can follow this sage advice from my 18th century philosophy reading. I will be looking closely for truth and listening intently for wise counsel as I delve into my studies! (FYI, all my quotes come from things I have actually read) As may be expected, classes here are the real deal. I am buckling down and hitting the books hard. No more vacation. No more fun... Well, maybe a little fun :)

Kings College Library...
I think I will be spending some time here.

As far as classes, I am taking a class on the literature of the Enlightenment and Romantic eras, mostly philosophy and poetry, and a development economics course. These are enough to keep me busy, but most of my time is spent doing research for my thesis. I am fortunate enough to have a faculty supervisor  who is mentoring me through the researching/writing process, and she is a superstar. She is from South Korea and specializes in issues dealing with business ethics. And she is excited about my project! 

This is the  Cambridge Union Society, where I take most of my classes. It was founded as an outlet for free speech during the more tyrannical period of Cambridge history. Debates are still held in the debating chamber (as well as our plenary lectures), where they have to have a lawyer present at all times in case they take "free speech" too far, and it still houses the governing student body of the university. CUS members have gone on to be some of the most influential members of British politics. Personally, I love the attached coffee shop, which provides quite the cozy place to read and study.


Safe and Sound in Cambridge

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move; to feel the reeds and hitches of our life more nearly; to come down off this feather bed of civilization and find the globe granite underfoot and strewn with cutting flints."
~Robert Louis Stevenson

I am a believer in traveling, to say the least. I am a believer in going. I am a believer in discovery. I am a believer in living fully. I must, however, contradict Stevenson on one point: the destination IS important. And after just a few short months home from my whirlwind adventure in Spain my new destination is.....

Just a short preface: the week prior to my arrival in Cambridge I just about died. Literally falling apart at age 20. Broken foot, perforation/ concussion to eardrum, emergency oral surgery, at least 1o doctor's appointments....not fun stuff. It is, therefore, no small miracle that I was even able to travel, let alone arrive safe and sound. (I must say percocet does make for a very restful flight:) ) BUT I am happy to report that I am still alive and definitely on the health upswing here in the UK!

Now for the good stuff! And, boy, is there a lot of goods stuff, so this will barely skim the surface!

My new home is King's College, one of 32 separate colleges that make up Cmabridge university. King's is truly the most grandiose, magnificent, ostentatious, and elaborate of them all. Probably something having to do with being commissioned by the King Henry VI...those monarch's and their inferiority complexes. But I'm not complaining, because I am reaping the benefits of living in one of the most architecturally and historically amazing places I have ever been. 

Yes, people pay to enter the building that I live in. Yes, tourists sometimes take pictures of me. Yes, I get to go in all the areas marked "private" or "members only".

My first full day in the UK happened to be the 4th of July. Being an American in the country we fought for independence from on independence day is quite a conundrum, but I proudly sported my Americana apparel and avoided eye contact with any slightly perturbed looking Brits.

I'm just hoping it's possible to love the U.S. and Britain. 

Alright lots more later, and, as they say here.... 
cheers :)