Pub Crawl

A group of friends made a list of about 50 pubs in town they would like to visit over the next few months.  After zoning off areas in order to make the adventure more efficient, they chose a night to begin their goal.  This night ended up being one of the coldest since I’ve arrived.  The pub crawl (emphasis on CRAWL) started with me power walking down to the closest ATM at 5:45, (which is about 10-15 minutes away) and speeding back in order to meet the group at 6PM.  We then called for two taxi vans (there were about 15 of us, most of whom were Brazilian) and rode into the city.  Our first stop was to a pub called Adam and Eve.

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This is apparently Norwich’s oldest pub.  It was very small, but homey and relaxing.  All fifteen of us were able to squeeze into the side room and enjoy our mulled wine and Strongbow cider in peace for nearly two hours (we got there quite early, so no one else was there but three old gents, one of which was sleeping).  After lazing about for a bit, we headed down the street to the next pub, the Wig and Pen.

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The place was easy enough to find, but was very stand-offish.  The drinks and food were fairly expensive, the service was snobby, and the customers were mostly lawyers.  Plus, there wasn’t room for our group to stand or sit all together.  I ended up ordering a drink based solely on the fact that it was called Redhead, and spent the next twenty minutes trying to figure out whether it tasted good or not.  I decided not.  We were there for probably another hour after that, then finally got ready to go.

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I should probably mention that the reason we were going so slow was because most of the Brazilians were not drinking, and therefore had no interest in what was going on.

We ended up making a pit stop at a pizza/kebob restaurant on our way to the next pub.  The place was hilariously awful, but my pizza was great.  The chairs had pictures of coffee cups on them, there were little disco balls fixed to the ceilings, and the lights were not turned fully on until we had nearly finished eating.  I liked it.

ImageWe finally got to our last destination, Delaney’s, at about 11PM.  The place was perfect.  The lights were down, music was playing, they had every drink you could possibly want (and spiced rum!, finally!), and people who were actually under the age of 60.  We stayed for a few hours, hanging out and drinking, then headed off for our taxi trip home.

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Next time it will be warmer with less snow, and the Brazilians will be drinking.  Cheers!

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First Pilgrimage to London

After having spent about three weeks in the UK, I must say that it is a bittersweet feeling.  Having looked forward to this adventure for nearly twelve years, my expectations have both fallen short and been totally blown away.  For one thing, it has not rained since I arrived.  It has, however, snowed.  A lot.
ImageOn the other hand, the amount I enjoy hearing British accents all day every day is exactly on par to what I expected.  Except when those accents inform you that they cannot send you pizza or a taxi without a contact number, even after you explain that you are an international student and have no cell phone that is in service.  Or when those accents sound like a foreign language and you understand five percent of what was said and have to ask the person to repeat themselves six different times.  One thing that I am disappointed about is the realization I made on my way to London.  Many places (like the highway, the cities, etc.) are so similar to America!  I guess I was expecting a magical land unlike any I had ever seen, so entering a city as historic and infamous as London and feeling as though I was back in Buffalo, NY was depressing.  Once I was deeper into the city I finally felt as though I were in the London I had imagined.  Red double-decker buses, telephone booths, towering cathedrals, exquisite parks, and stone monuments around every corner; this was the London I had been waiting for.

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I think my favorite site I saw on this first visit was the clock tower (Big Ben).  The gold gilding around the clock face and steeple was breathtaking, and the shear size of the tower was overwhelming.  That, paired with the intimidating Houses of Parliament that merge into this iconic symbol of London, make the whole experience unbelievable.

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My first adventure to London went very smoothly, despite the weather.  It snowed all day and was about -2C all day, but I managed to walk through the majority of the city of Westminster without any mishaps.  I started my day out by watching the changing of the guard and  Buckingham Palace, then took a stroll down The Mall to visit Trafalgar Square.  After a quick photo-op and a stop for new batteries, I pursued medieval works of art in the National Gallery.  Once I had regained feeling in my hands and feet, I once again braved the cold weather in order to visit Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.  Then, I set out to find Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, and Big Ben.  Dozens of pictures later, I walked across the bridge to see the frigid waters of the Thames and the towering wheel of the London Eye.  That’s one attraction I don’t think I could manage to convince myself to try, considering the top car sits 443 feet above the river (which has water full of old cigarette butts and I don’t want to know what else).

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The final stop was to Westminster Cathedral.  The building is even more beautiful inside than out, and is also free to enter.  The details on the walls and ceiling were impeccable, and the size and atmosphere within are awe-inspiring.  This is one place that I intend to visit again on my next adventure to London (which is in three weeks!).

First Week of Classes: Check

So after a long and exciting week (emphasis on LONG), I am finished with my first round of classes (or should I say modules?).  That being said, it is going to be a lengthy semester.  I had fifty-two pages of assigned reading BEFORE MY FIRST CLASS!  Oh boy.

Although I can’t wait to head out and explore outside Norwich, there is so much to see in the city.  I went on a tour led by one of the older students here, and saw bits and pieces of everything, but did not get to spend nearly enough time at any site.  What I did see, I was amazed by.  I mean, we don’t have towering cathedrals back home in WNY.

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Norwich seems to be a cute, medieval city, but it is much busier and bigger than I had expected.  The roads are narrow and cars are racing around corners, and there were a few times when I was sitting on the second floor of our double-decker bus that I thought for sure we would hit the other bus turning next to us or that we would knock down a lamp post.  Other than those few scares, I was pleasantly surprised by the city, especially the Old Town.

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I need to get back into the city soon, because I am running low on certain groceries.  I can only hope that I don’t need small change, because I still can’t seem to get the hang of all the coins (who can blame me when there are eight different coins, all with opposing sizes when compared to American money).  No Poptarts or turkey for me though, since the English don’t seem to appreciate them.  Guess I will have to settle for more tea!

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How it all started

It all started about the same time I first watched Madeleine.  From the first moment I saw the Eiffel Tower, I wanted to go to Europe.  My obsession with going abroad grew and grew, until my thirst to venture out among the cultured, cobbled streets of that foreign continent was finally satiated.

Fast forward to my junior year at SUNY Fredonia.  I finally made the decision to take a semester abroad.  The first choice I had to make was what country to spend the majority of my time in.  Although France was my first selection, several things repelled me and led me to my final decision.  If I were to study in France I would have to live with a host family, walk to classes (up to a mile away), struggle to understand a language that I only had a basic grasp on, and force myself to eventually try frog’s legs.  England it is then!

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When I bought my ticket it was official.  I would become an international student at the University of East Anglia.  And after about 10 hours in the air and 10 hours sitting and waiting for the next flight, I finally arrived.  Today is my eighth day here, and although the national language is English, it is most definitely still a foreign language.  To name just a few differences, noodles are not noodles, they are Ramen, all other noodles and dishes made from them are called pasta.  Tea is a type of tea, not just the drink.  If you ask for chips you will receive fries, and if you are saying thank you or goodbye you let out a chipper cheers.  If that’s not enough, cars drive on the opposite side of the road, dogs are hardly ever on leashes, and if you’re hoping to have a turkey sandwich, forget it.  Hope you like ham!

On the bright side, the view from my flat window is absolutely wonderful.

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If you look really closely, you may see the sheep or horses that live in the pasture beyond the bog.  Yes, my backyard consists of a stream, a boardwalk that loops around a selection of bogs, and a pasture filled with Shetland ponies.  Win.

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