Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It's Time

Well, I haven't had the chance to write about my school work yet. Time is coming to an end and I can't believe I have lived here for 3 months already. This has definately changed my life in so many ways. Tonight in the upstairs kitchen a few of us were talking about how this experience has really taught us more about ourselves, and really opened us up. I think it is natural for this to happen to us after an experience like this one. For me I always imagined that I would visit London and Paris Europe in whole one day but never thought about when that day would be. I am still in this shock factor some days saying I am actually in England. England has been completely different than I imagined. Honestly I did not know what to expect. I did very little research and all I knew was the British literature I studied senior year of high school. There is so much history here. It all really intersts me. Those kings and queens that we studied were not just fairy tales, but these people were real people. All along I knew this, but it never crossed my mind in the right way. I feel now that I can be a local here. I know and understand the tube system. I practically have it memorized. I no longer need a map of London. I understand the history and I feel totally safe here like it is my home. I can see myself living in London oneday. I have realized that out of any city, London is definately my city (not including Nashville of course, it will always be my number one).
I know I am going home as a different person. This is not in a bad way though. I am going home as a more intelligent independent individual. I have faced fears and lived out of my comfort zone. I am starting to understand people and accept that people who are different than me and have lived a different lifestyle are right in their way. I have opened myself up to a world that is not the simple life country life that I grew up with. It is a strange feeling that I am done with my study abroad expereince in England. My writing exams were completed today, and as I was writing I noted that I know more and deeper than I ever thought I would know about comparisons between the US and UK. This was a subject that I never in my life thought about. When the class started in Septemeber I was actually confused because I never thought that it being topic people actually cared about. Now I will probably talk about this topic and the many side discussions dealing with religion, special relationship, and national idenity.
Not only did I learn from these topics, but I was put in a situation that was probably the most uncomfortable place I had ever been in. My entire life being a Christian has been the center point of my life and all of my friends and just everyone that was around. In class one day we were asked a question, Who in here is a Christian, without hesitition I quickly raised my hand. I of course am a christian and I know that I would not be on this trip without God. In the semiar of about 30 or so students only 7 raised their hands. I was speechless. I just wanted to burst out talking about God's faith and what I have seen him do like I talk to my friends or peers at home, but in this class the professor would not call on me, kaitlyn to speak at all. He would see our hands raised and not even acknowledge us. At this time I was just ready to walk out of the room I couldn't believe what people were saying. I felt like they just have never had the opporunity to see what God really has in store. Most of them had never been to church or had anyone speak to them about God and they were sitting there bashing the Christian faith without knowing any knowledge behind it. I wanted to say something about how their belief was wrong, but I thought again and realized that I would be doing the exact same thing they were doing talking and bashing something I have no knowledge about. The class ended with most of the room still opposed to christianity or any faith at all. This was one of the first times I really did not know what to do. Throughout the night I couldn't get it off my mind, and even now I can't. I still do not understand. I do know though that God places you in situtions for reasons and I was placed there that day and it is time for me to find the reasons God put me there. There are clues all around me in my everyday life, and now at the end I really do think I understand.
London is calling my name one last time Friday. I will be going with my advertising class to the muesum of Brands in the Notting Hill area. I'm pretty excited. This advertising class has opened me up in so many different ways than the Modern Britian class. In advertising we worked with the Canterbury BMW mini dealership. If we were to be in this class all year like all of the British students we would be in competition. It is the real deal, a team will get chosen and the dealership will use their agency and advertising ideas. I wish so badly we could be a part of this. We have already worked so hard on our plans, and working with the mini, which is my dream car, has been amazing. The dealership is one of the coolest places I have seen. There is actually mini cooper merchandise inside, and and quotes on the walls really make me crave a mini even more. "It's you mini be Bold" lol and so many more.
Well, I have to give my presenation tomorrow about the Mini, so I am going to bed.
I know now it is time to go home though, something just feels right. I guess it is because I feel fully accomplished.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Tennessee Fried Chicken and London Adventures

I have been to London about 6 times since the last time I wrote a blog. I have so much to write about. It seems like every weekend in the past 6 weeks I went to London. It's changed from beautiful fall leaves, drowsey rain, and even snow.
I have so much to write I'm not sure where to start. Hopefully I won't forget anything.
Let's see....One of my favorite trips was when Kaitlyn and I made our way to Wimbledon. This was the one place we planned on going to before we left home. It is also a place that I have dreamed to visit. We were scarred at first that we would get lost figuring out the tube system, but it was actually so easy. We just had to take the district green line to the Wimbledon drop off point. When we got off the tube we were on this small street. I did not see tennis courts at all. We looked around and just started walking. It was a nice area. We saw a tennis store so I knew that we must be close to Wimbledon. The road we walked down was Wimbledon Park Road and it was really residential. We walked about 10 minutes and then we saw it! It was better than I ever expected. The outside was gated of course and there were tennis shadows in the walls. I immediately felt like I was somewhere I belonged. We had a tour of the courts. There was just about 8 people in our tour so it was nice. Since it was winter and the courts were not being used there were no nets up, but the grass courts were gorgeous. We weren't allowed to step foot on these or even touch them. We saw all of the courts, number one court, number two, the court where Isner played on this past summer, and even Centre Court. One of my favorite parts of the tour besides seeing Centre Court, where I long to play oneday was going to the press interview room. We got to sit at the desk all of the pro tennis players have sat and got interviewed. Kaitlyn and I went up there and got picture. I was imagining that it was the real thing. I could so see that happening. The Wimbledon Tennis Lawn Muesum was really nice too. All of the clocks around the entire Wimbledon Park were Rolex, that is how classy this was. After we were done at Wimbledon we had about 2 hours left to do other things in London. Our bus station is really close to Buckinham Palace, so we went there for a while. It is so pretty at night. The gold on the gates shine gorgeously at night and the statue in front of the palace is our new favorite hangout. We were actually there at the statue that night for about an hour. We saw so much. The next day while we were eating in Wetherspoons we found out the prince was in engaged. At Buckingham the night before there was something going on at the Palace. Cars are not allowed to drive on the road in front of the palace and that night there were cars there. They would get searched and enter the palace. I'm guessing it had something to do with Prince William getting engaged.
Kaitlyn and I usually don't run upon anything scarry but that night we did and I guess when something scarry happens you just learn and wake up and realize you have to be aware. After a perfect day it was meant that something would happen. What happened was we had a man follow us for about 2 or 3 blocks. I noticed him after about one block and told kaitlyn to just walk faster and not freak out. We made it safely into the train station and hid in a big store and never saw him again. In all of my London trips I had felt like that area of London was the safest part, and really I had always felt safe in London, but this just says that anything can happen anywhere. I feel like we approached this situation right, and now I am more aware of my surroundings.
There are so many more London trips. I forgot I haven't talked about Harry Potter yet. Kaitlyn and I also made our way to the Harry Potter Red Carpet Preimier of the Deathly Hollows. This was such a last minute decsison. I was randomly looking up London online the night before and realized the premeir was the next day. I am so glad we went. The weather was horrible though. This day was the worst rain we had seen in London so far. It was like a monsoon that never ended. The wind was blowing so hard when we left Canterbury and our bus was an hour late. When we got to London, we started our normal walk past Buckingham Palace and all and when we got into Green Park it just started to heavy down pour. I have never in my life been outside in a down pour of rain like this. It was crazy. We both had our umbrellas but the wind was so strong they both broke. We just started sprinting down the long path and the rain never stopped. I have video of this rain. We were soooo soaked and by the time we got out of the park it was still raining and we looked like we just came out of a swimming pool. When we got to Piccidilly Circus we went into one of the closet stores to dry off. We had to buy new clothes. There was no way we were going to stay in those wet clothes til 10 at night when we were going to be outside the entire time. We each bought a sweatsuit that was waterproof, new socks and even new shoes. It was actually kind of funny going into a store to buy an entire new wardrobe. It pretty much rained the entire night. One area of Piccidilly Circus that has all of the nice designer stores like Armani, Guess, London stores etc was already decorated for Christmas. There were huge Narnia signs and also the little back alleys were all decorated in with christmas lights. I loved it. Liechester Square is where the premier was. It was already packed by the time we got there. The red carpet was awesome. We ended up getting a good place to stand. We were somewhat behind the paparrizzi, and we could see most of the carpet. I walked down one road to see if there was a better place to stand but it was packed tight where ppl couldn't see the carpet at all. We were really lucky where we stood. We could see all of the stars perfectly. Emma Watson's hair was cut off, but she could pull it off very well. My favorite were the twins. They seemed so nice and both had a great personality. The back drop for the premier was awesome. The Harry Potter signs had fire coming out and there were many sound awesome sound effects. After all the stars went into the theatre, we decided to walk up closer to the Odeon to see better. Huge signs from the stage were being handed out, and we actually got one this sign is bigger than us. Kaitlyn and I decided to walk back instead of taking the tube. We knew it wasnt that far. It was sooooooooo windy and we had that huge sign in our hands, but we still managed to get back. This walk was def. the best adventure of all though. We had NO idea where we were going we just knew the general direction toward Victoria. We started walking and following signs toward Buckingham Palace. Somehow we ended up in this really upscale neighborhood, there we men in suits and limos and fancy cars all around. We def. did not belong there especially in our sweat suits and huge Harry Potter sign. We just kept walking and then I decided it was time to ask someone how to get to Buckingham Palace. We asked this young man and two old women. They seemed harmless. They were soo nice to us. I was afraid people in that area wouldn't be with the way we were dressed, but they told us exact directions and landmarks we were going to pass. I'm really glad we asked them because we probably wouldn't have found it if we didn't.
The next day was another London trip. We had a tour around London and during the tour we found out that the area we were walking that night is one of the most prestigious parts of London. We both started thinking what if that really cute guy who told us directions was the prince.....maybe it was. He kind of looked like him. Who ever he was I know he was someone important. Too bad we will never know.
We also went to St. Paul Cathedral. This was the prettiest church I have ever seen. Kaitlyn and I listened to some of the service, and then a bunch of us climbed to the top. I forgot how many stars there were but they were all circled and it made us so dizzy going up. One level is a whispering level. You can hear a whisper of someone from across the room. It was really cool. Also in the Cathedral I ate I think the best british food I have ate so far. It was a this huge biscuit with jam and butter. I could eat that everyday. Later we walked across the a bridge that is apparently on a Harry Potter movie. The grey one that moves, and went into the Tate Modern muesum. I dont seem to understand much modern art, but I guess some of it is still intersting to look for. I never realized that everytime I go to London I would come across something to do with Harry Potter, but I always do. That shows how important the story is here.
That day in London was a success too. I have also had a day at the London Tower, which was really neat and Shakespeares Globe which was just as amazing. When we went to see these places we got to walk across the London Tower Bridge. It was awesome. The area around the bridge was my type of place. A river, nice resturants, and business oriented.
We also had another day in London where we went to Westfield White City Mall. Me Kaitlyn and Darette went here. Darette works at the store Gilly Hicks at home and they were opening their first store in London. It is a store off of Abercrombie and Hollister. She met her regional manager and everything. It was really neat to see a grand opening of a store. That mall was really cool. It was huge. There was an area desinated just for the designer brands like Prada and Burberry. We also saw the BBC studios that day. I have realized during all of these trips to London that I am pretty good at navigating the tube system. It is really easy and I actually really enjoy doing. You get on a line, Victoria, Piccidilly, Jublile, District, etc and just go. We have had to transfer a few times and when walking to the transfer to a different line the path underground is so long. It feels like you are entering a space or time capalse. It is just like this huge tunnel. It is the weiredest feeling. I love it though.
I am not done yet with all of my London adventures. I am writing these out of order, bc I keep forgetting what I did first. I'm not sure if I wrote about this yet in another blog but we also went the NFL International Series event at Tragular Square. It was really neat. It was for the Broncos and the 49ers. I was amazed how many British people like American football. The cool thing about this was that people were in jerseys from every football team. It was so colorful. I saw about 5 Titan jerseys! Too bad I didn't have one. Alaina let Kaitlyn borrow a Chicago Bears shirt and this would def be the only time you will see either one of us in a Bears shirt! After the NFL rally we went to the British History Muesum. It was really nice and huge like the Louve was. We saw the Rosetta Stone and many other interesting things. We did not have much time to spend here because we got there an hour before it closed.
I have one more day in London to talk about and that was last night. I don't think I am forgetting a day. Last night Kaitlyn and I went to Hyde Park Winter Wonderland. We decided to walk the entire way. We ended up in Royal Park first, then green park and then finally Hyde Park. I really do love all the parks in London. They are all gorgeous. What I love most about them is the trees and how how they are all lined up so staight. Each park has paths that just go for miles. I was telling Kaitlyn that I would love to have a running day in London and just run through all of the parks. There are four really close ones and we could probably get a half marathon in. Well, while we were walking through Hyde Park we had to find Kensigton Gardens where the Peter Pan statue is. This might sound crazy but we both have been wanting to see this statue since we saw the Mary Kate and Ashley movie Winning London about 10 years ago. The walk to the gardens seemed like it took forever. It was right along a river so it was nice. We heard a random man playing bagpipes there. The Peter Pan statue was just as I pictured it. "The Boy who Never Grew Up" Right after we saw the statue we walked back to Winter Wonderland. It was full of Christmas spirt. All of the rides were christmas themed, and I felt like a kid again. It was like I saw the Peter Pan statue about not growing up and I was all of a sudden a kid again. This place was pretty sweet. There were pubs scattered about and german themed markets and little places to eat. We went into a Tavern and it was the best I had seen so far! There was a big show happening and they were singing Sweet Home Alabama. It was amazing everyone was so into the music. I loved the british accents. They played another song that everyone but me and Kaitlyn new. This one was more popular than Sweet Home Alabama. I looked it up when I got home and it is by Oasis. It's called Wonderwall. It sounded like a popular English chant at the tavern. The rest of Winterwonderland were Christmas Markets. They sold a little of everything. There was also an ice skating rink.
After the Christmas markets we decided to walk around London a little more, again we had NO idea where we were going. We ended up in a popular shopping district. The first stores we saw were Jager, Prada, and even Top Shop then all of a sudden there was a huge building with gold Christmas lights all over it. It was Harrods! I had wanted to see this but I figured I would never get there this year. This trip to London was anther success. I have realized after many trips to London and other places that getting lost doesn't hurt you it just brings you to a bigger adventure. You end up seeing more and seeing something you never expected. If you come across a difficulty in the end you just learn from it. Not one of my adventures have seemed perfect with no flaws but I think that is what made it the best. I said to myself one night "I am living my dream, and since I'm living my dream I def. know I have followed and am following all my dreams." The reason the reason this blog is called TN fried chicken is because there are so many aspects of London that seem like home. Everytime I ride the bus to London we pass this little resturant called TN Fried Chicken and everytime I laugh and say why in the world is this here? This is just one of my reminders of home. My mom told me when I was homesick to look for the reasons God has put me here. He has given me many paths, and now that my 3 months in England are ending I know why I am here. I am here to show my friends and family and others not to be afraid to see the world or to take on an adventure. Live your life out the way you dream! I realized it was time to stop dreaming about what I can do and take action and do. Everything really does end up working out in mysterious ways, you just have to go for it all!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wales:I'm finding myself in a loss for words but the funny thing is it's all ok"

I visited Wales about 2 weeks ago, but since then I have been extremely busy and hadn't had the opportunity to write about the trip. All of the trips I have taken in the past are so different that I can't pick a favorite, but this trip was my favorite. I was out of the big city and in the countryside the entire weekend. I felt like I was at home so many times. It didn't look like home one bit, but just being in the open land with the farmers, livestock and little towns I had that home sweet home feeling.

The weekend started off at 5 in the morning. We met the international friends bus in Canterbury and drove to the London to pick up some more of the people. We drove a different way to London than we had drove before. I saw the Tower Bridge for the first time and we also drove throught these really long tunnels. We also had the chance to drive through Piccidilly Circus Even though it was 8 in the morning all of the Christmas decorations looked amazing. I can't wait til it gets closer to time. There were decorations down the street like you were driving through Narnia. I wish I could go to the Narnia movie premier in London, but unforuntally I have class that day. Well, we picked up the rest of the group on Portland Blvd, and then we headed to Wales. Everything about Wales was amazing. The land is gorgeous with the hills and thousands of sheep and horses scattered about. We drove all around the mountains and hills. The leaves had all changed color so it was all so breathtaking. I saw 2 or 3 rainbows over the mountains. The best part about seeing the rainbows is that the lie right above the colored trees. Everytime I would look out I would just thank the Lord for what I was looking at.

The first day we stopped in 3 small villages. The first town was on the border of Wales and England. It was Chepstaw. The oldest castle in the United Kingdom was here. We went inside the ruins. It was so cool. The walls were hughe and we did some climbing along the walls and walked through many hidden passage ways. At the castle I felt like I was playing on one of those wooden kids kingdoms we have in the U.S., but this one was real. It would have been the coolest place to play hide in go seek. Also in Chepstw there was an area where you could put one foot in Wales and one foot in England. We of course checked that out like regular tourist. The day we were there was the day after Guy Fawkes Day, which is a national holiday in England. They celebrate it huge like we celebrate the 4th of July. There were many poinstetas layed along the statues around the town. The next town we went to was Turnik. There were ruins of an old historic Abbey.. The mountains were all around this town. It was a beauiful little mountain village. The main place we visited herw was the ruins of a tiny little church. It was the church for the masons back in the day. They were not allowed to attend the church at the Abbey so they build the small church up the mountain. In the 60's the entire church burnt down and killed everyone who was there. Witches were also known as making potions and spells. The hill we had to climb to get to the church was so steep and slippery When we got to the church I felt a haunted feeling immediately. It was surrounded by graves that dated back to the 1800's. In the grass you can see the caskets coming out of the ground with grass grown over top. The old church was in completely ruins when we walked through it and the grass and vines were all grown up through the place. There was a sign before we entered that said "Dangerous Building" That's just our first warning not to go near, but we walked right past that and went right in. The town though was such a unique little mountain town. There was one main road that ran through the town, and 2 or 3 little resturants, and the Wye River was located on one side.

The next town we visited was Hay on Wye. It is called the town of books. This is because there are book stores located all over the town. Every other store was a bookstore. My favorite bookstore we came across was an outside shop. It was pretty deserted at the time we saw it. It was behind the gates of the Wye Castle. The name of the shop was was Honesty Shop. Therew was a little red box to put money in. Soft back books were 50 pence and hardbacks were 1 pound. We went into so many bookstores and little craft houses. Bookend, Book Corner, Children's Books, Outcast Books, Cinema Books, and etc. It was one of those towns you could in for hours just reading.

After the Hay on Wye we went to hotel/hostel. It was called Baskerville Hall Hotel. This was the place the Hound of Baskervilles was written and inspired. Staying at the place I really felt like I was living the story. This entire Wales trip has felt like I was living through so many British novels. I am surrounded by all of the literature I onced studied in high school. Baskerville Hotel was so classy, but also so spooky! There was stairways and chandlers all over the building. The dinner we ate was in this really eleguent dinning hall. They served us each an entire half of a chicken! Soft piano was playing as we ate and we were some of the only ones eating at the time. I felt so important of rich like I was livng history. Outside the hotel was really when I felt like I was in a time capsele. It was dark and late at night I could hear the owls hooting and wolves from the night. We walked around the big dark courtyard. I felt as though Sherlock Holmes was about to apporach me.

The next day in Wales we went horseback riding through the beautiful moutainside. Being at the stables I felt like myself. I didn't want to leave at all I was all ready to start a days work at the stables. The first horse that I got was named Ben Jones. He was too hungry and not coorporating right so they switched my horse to a solid brown horse named Evan. Kaitlyn was on one of the biggest horses and her's was named Big Ben. We road down little roads and paths for about 3 hours. There were so many sheep pastures. They said in Wales if you get sheep to eat at a resturant you would be eating the freshiest sheep because it was slaughted and cooked by the local farmers. I never had the chance to try any. The National Park we rode horses through was called Breacon Beacons Park. Again it was soooooo beautiful. When we got to the top of the mountain side it was so chilly and we could see the snow on top of the mountains. We were all relaxed and in awe about the beauty when all of a sudden one sheep was starring at all of the horses. It started to hiss at all of us and it scarred the horses. All of sudden there was a massive attack. My horse with me on it ran straight up the mountainside away from everyone else. 5 or 6 other horses turned back the oppiste way and started running down the mountainside. Two girls fell off, but luckily they were ok. The moment my horse took off I felt my heart come to a stop. I was so scarred and it happened so fast I had no time to think or what was going to happen, if the horse was going to keep going across the mountain away from everyone else or not. I will say this one of the scarriest events that had ever happened to me.

The Wales trip was such a success. It felt good be out of the city and slow down my life again. I knew I really needed it. I would love to go back every week if I could afford it.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

J'adore Paris

The Louvre
Galeries Lafayette

The Park we walked for miles

Marie Antoinette Gardens and Palace

Pablo Picasso Apartments



Business area where they lived

I can see myself living in Paris oneday. The city was absolutely gorgeous. Every moment of my time there I was in awe. You know those feelings where you just feel so happy there is nothing on your mind but what is around you, well that's how I felt. I would just be looking around seeing the Eiffel Tower and the beautiful French buildings and be like this is "My City" Paris is definately my favorite city, and my favorite place in the world. I sound childish saying this, but it is so true. Before I left I knew that it was the city of my dreams, and when I faced it, it felt perfect.

Well, our journey to Paris was quite an adventure. We ended up traveling 19 hours. Having 3 ferry rides and realizing that the entire border control of both France and England knew who we were. It was just three of us. Kaitlyn, Darette and Me. I will say that within all of this transporting around the majority of the people were very nice to us. They cared about us and wanted to keep us safe. I guess it was because we were 3 young American girls who were scarred and lost. I will write another blog about our story later.

When we finally arrived in Paris Darette's cousin Chin picked us up. It was nice having someone transport us by car. Having a local tour you around is one of the best ways to see a city and I was definately happy to see Paris in this way. Chin took us to his apartments. They were so cool. The name of the apartments were Pablo Pissaco. Their design was so unique. Each building was about 18 stories high and different colors from purple, green, blue, and yellow. The windows were all different shapes. squares, circles, ovals, and random shapes. They were located in the middle of the business district of Paris so all of the surrounding buildings were glass and classy. It was really cool. After we got relaxed we walked to the subway station and rode to see the Effiel Tower. The subway system here was not confusing at all. The only thing that was, was the language barrier, but I found myself starting to understand a lot of french. The Effiel Tower was just how movies pictured it. There is a song that I love called I want to do it all, and some of the lyrics say "see Paris in fall" that has been on my bucket list, and definately being here seeing the fall trees around the tower made me check that off my list. The park beside the tower is nice we saw a wedding as we walked by. We did some shopping around that area of the city, and then us 3 made our way back to the apartment without getting lost. Later that night Chin drove us around Paris at night. It was amazing too!! He drove us everywhere and we saw every little thing that Paris is famous for. Driving around at night was the best part though. Paris is such a lively city and really comes to life at night. Chin would stop the car on the side of the road and we all would jump out and take pictures and look around. We saw Notre Dame, the Opera, Louvre,walked along the Seine river, and so much more. From each direction we saw the Effiel Tower we snapped a picture. The roads in Paris are different. On many of the round abouts there are no lines, so people just drive crazy. In America if we had roads like this there would probably be sooo many deadly wrecks, but here people would just respect people and go with the flow. It really wasn't that big of a hassel. Most of the roads we drove on were rocks. They were really pretty. The last stop we made that night was the Effiel Tower. We went to 3 different locations where we could see it perfectly. It was about midnight when we saw the tower, and at that minute it started lighting up! It was amazing. I felt like I was in a movie again, and everything was planned to arrive at the tower at midnight right when it lit up. I will add the video of the tower lighting up.

The next day we had a full day at the Louvre and Galleries Layfattte, the huge desinger mall!!

The Louvre was the biggest muesum I have ever seen! You could take one full day in a 3rd of it. We saw the Mona Lisa, and there was a room where statues of all of the Gods. It was really pretty. There were huge paintings and also Roman tomb stones, and the great sphinx. While I was walking around I realized that I was in a place that some of the most famous art in the world was located. I had studied this place for years, and I was finally stepping foot through doors. I remember when I was younger probably in the 3rd grade or so and I said when I am in my 20's I will see the Mona Lisa, and that day has come. This reminds me that anything really is possible, and I want to continue experiencing all that life offers to me. I want to live a life with the richest experiences that I can face. We left the louvre and somehow we figured out how to walk towards the Opera to the the Galleries Layfette without getting lost. We ate a little cafe on our way by the opera. It was good and not too expensive. I think we paid about 8 euros a piece. The food was good. Most of the menus we saw served sausage and omlets so that is what we ended up eating. When we got done eating and went outside it was pouring down raining. Everything was flooding. We just started running like the rest of Paris was doing. It started lightning and thundering. That is one thing I will remember is running through a thunderstorm in Paris.We ran so fast across all of the streets but when we got to the mall we were still drenced with water. Once we entered the mall, how wet we were did not matter. There were designer brands everywhere. Prada, Ralph Lauren, Dior, Chanel and so many more. I was in love. Of course I could not buy anything but just looking around at these stores of class my mouth just dropped. The top of the mall is all decorated like a gold globe and they were already starting to get out Christmas things. I felt like I was in one of my dreams, or this place had been in a dream before. We just walked around and looked and looked, there was so much to see.

The next day Chin wanted to bring us to Versailles. I really didn't know what that was, but when we got there and found out that it was Marie Antoinette's Palace I couldn't believe it. This was a place that I had always said I wanted to visit it. It's funny how you end up at a place you always wanted to see with out planning it at all. We went inside the Palace and it was soooo pretty. The only bad thing was the crowd. We were packed like sardenes in there. But the ceilings and chandlers were so pretty to look at. There were these weird Japannesee sculpters there though. They aren't permitly there but I guess they were having an art show for those. They were extremely flower power and it was so awkard to see them in this historic Palace. The Marie Antoinette Gardens were the prettiest thing of the entire Palace. We ended up not going in the main entrance of the Gardens because they were having a show and we had to pay more, so we walked around the town, and Chin spoke french to a man and he showed us another entrance. I was actually happy that we walked this way. If we didnt we would not have seen the beautiful park. This park did not feel real at all. OOH it was seriously the prettiest place I have ever seen. the trees were all lined up in perfectly and we squared off. The leaves were changing and the paths were full with the colors. The path was a straight path that went for miles and you could see straight down it. Turn left or right and it looked the same with the lines of trees perfectly lined up. We walked and walked. There were some horses, sheep, and goats down one path. I think we walked probably for about 3 miles or so down the path. We ended up at the entrance of Marie Antointte's farm. You had to pay extra to enter the farm ,but Chin somehow talked the guy into letting us go in. It was great. Her farm was so cute and pretty. There were little cottagaes everywhere. We kept walking for more miles. My feet were aching so bad, heels were a bad idea to wear!! We walked and walked up the long paths of trees, and ended up closer to the Palace where the rest of the gardens lay. It was gorgeous. There was a straight pond that layed probably a half mile long in the middle and it was surrounded by the greenest grass and white statues of all of Gods stood along both sides of the path. I felt like I was in a fairytale. It was so pretty. My pictures do not show how pretty this was. At one end of the pond there we swans and up the stairs was the palace. There were green gardens like that been cut perfectly like a maze. This place is definately a place to visit if you have time when you are in Paris

I really wish I could be studying in France now. It is one of my favorite places. Paris the place of my dreams, and I would live there in a heartbeat. Maybe oneday!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

City After City Surrounded by Countryside

Lincoln College where John Wesley attended
Park in Oxford
The long river boats

The Alice Shop

Standing at the Alice and Wonderland Garden

The lamp post for Narnia

Oxford University

All Souls College

Where Harry Stood and his parents house
Oxford University site where it was filmed

Lacock Harry Potter Film Locations Above


Standing at Bath

And the Countryside

Guards walking the streets in Windsor The "long walk" in Windsor

Windsor Castle

City after city, we traveled this past weekend. It was practicaly a long road trip through England. One thing I can say is that the countryside of England is GORGEOUS. I can admit that it is prettier than Tennessee, but there is just something about the place you live that makes that pretty. At certain times while driving down the road here I felt like I was at home, then behind all of the trees the English countryside showed up and it no longer looked like TN. The land here is so rich and fertile. I would love to have a farm in England. It's so peaceful.
Well, going on with this amazing weekend trip. We ended up going to Windsor, Bath, Bristol, Lacock, Oxford, and Stonehenge. I'm not sure which one I can say was my favorite. They all contained so much history and were all gorgeous. I will start from the beginning.
We left Canterbury early in the morning and arrived at Windsor about 10 in the morning. We had our guided tour of the town and then a little bit of free time. Like all of the other cities I visited on this trip I had no idea what was in Windsor. It was amazing for me to find out that Windsor castle which lays in the middle of the town is where the queen actually lives. The guide said that she drives around town weekly. I wish we could have seen her. Everyday the guards walk the streets of the city. These are the guards with the big black hats and dressed all in red. We saw the march. It was really neat. Seeing this I said to myself, "Now this is England" Also in Windsor there is a 3 mile path. It's called the long walk and it lies right at the head of Windsor Castle. I wish so much that we would have had time to walk the walk. They said that the queen drives this all the time. It had that royal look to it. The shopping area in Windsor was called Windsor Royal Shopping. Of course Darette, Kaitlyn, Shannon and me fell in love with this area. We all have fallen in love with all of the shopping in England. I know I am definately coming back with a new style. I have bought about 6 or 7 dresses so far here, and I could buy hundreds more. Dresses are my new look. :) After Windsor we got back on the bus and travelled to Stonehenge. Again I had no idea what to expect. Driving out to Stonehenge was beautiful. There were so many sheep in the fields and again the grass was so fertile and green I felt like I had fallen in love. We arrived at Stonehenge and it was freezing! But the site of the rocks was spectualar. The history said that in the day these rocks were said to have been carried 160 miles and some just 19 miles. These rocks are so heavy and I can't imagine how these were carried those long distances up and down all of the hills. We had a good time at Stonehenge. We tried to take one of those famous pictures to look like we were holding the rocks. It didn't turn out so great, but we danced in front of the rocks and jumped around. There were sheep nearly 5 feet from us too. Some of the girls had never seen sheep before so it was a site for them to see them so close.
Stonehenge is one of those places you have to say you have been like the grand canyon ( Which I have never been to yet).
When we got to Bristol I was exhausted. I had been really sick earlier in the week with a fever, and I was just recovering. When I walked inside my eyes swelled up and were so pink, it was a good thing I still felt ok though. We stayed at a Holiday Inn in Bristol. It was nice, just like the ones at home, and my favorite part was that breakfast was served. I slept so good on the soft beds and it felt nice to take a shower in warm clean water. This was the first time I have watched TV since I got to England too. It was nice and relaxing. This trip felt like a vacation on a vaction.
The second day we made our way to Bath. And again I really I no idea what was in Bath. When we got closer the guide told us that the city held strick rules and all of the buildings had to be made from the yellow limestone. This city was gorgeous. All of the yellow buildings, the river and the view of the hilly countryside. I was in love once again. I was pretty much speechless when the bus drove up the road. Bath holds so much history too. We had our guided tour again around this city. We saw the Roman Baths. This was neat. There was water we could drink from the baths but I decided I wouldn't try it. There were signs all over the city that pictured out some of the must see places in England. The catherdral here was pretty too. Walking around this town I felt like I was in Italy or somewhere like that. There were over 4000 shopping places, and we went into so many unique stores. There was even an urban outfitters. Kaitlyn and I bought a reall cute yellow butterfly dress. It is the kind of dress you wouldn't pick out at first. Darette held it up and I told her it was so ugly. Then later we looked at it again and it was cute. It was only 5 pounds so we bought it. I think it is one of my favorite dresses I have bought. Also in Bath there were many little tea rooms and pastry shops. The layout and yellow buildings in this city is what I loved the best though. As we were leaving there was a street performer playing this insturment called the hang. He said it was one of the newest instruments and is from Italy. It sound so pretty. The sound was just relaxing like the ocean.
We left Bath and went back to the hotel in Bristol. There was a Mcdonalds on down the road from the hotel so a bunch of us decided we would check it out. It was probably the worst Mcdonalds I have ever been too. We also had quite an interesting walk back too. I wasn't scarred in the area of Bristol we were in, but i had heard earlier on the news that there is a road in Bristol that is the most dangerous road in the UK. Luckily we were no where close to this road.
The next morning was an early morning and we made our way to Oxford. I was sooo exicted. We made a stop in the small town of Lacock first. This was the cutest old town. It was like an English version of the Cumberland Gap. The population here is 400 or so people. All of the roads in Lacock were rock and the bulidings were all stone rock. There were about 2 main roads that we walked around. The cool thing about this town is that there were two places that Harry Potter was filmed at. One was Harry's parents house. I have a picture of it, and the other is one of the professors houses. The street in this town is a street that Harry and Dombledor walked down in I think the 6th movie.
When we got to Oxford we had our guided tour around the city. We saw all of the colleges from the Univeristy. This campus and town was so beautiful. It had that England upscale look like Windsor. I wish so bad I could attend Oxford University. All Souls College here was really pretty. We couldn't go in which was disappointing. We got to go into Lincoln College. This one is the college that John Wesley attended. We saw where John Wesley lived while he was there. Also while walking around campus there was another building that Harry Potter was filmed at. This trip really contained so much Harry Potter history. Also we saw where Bill Clinton went to school and lived while he was in Oxford and then where his daughter Chelsea lived. The best part about Oxford was all of the Alice and Wonderland history. The yard that the story orginated from is in Oxford. There is also a gift shop that is the offical Alice and Wonderland shop. We had to go in. While I was in Oxford I had to buy an Oxford sweatshirt too. We ate lunch in the middle of town on a park bench and then we walked down to the river. The park that the river was in was so pretty. The leaves were starting to change, so the fall weather made my day. I wasn't sure if leaves changed color in England but I was so happy to see that they did. At the river there were people rowing those long boats. This was really intersting. If we had time I would have loved to rent one and try it. There were many cool things in Oxford and it is probably my favorite city I have visited so far on this trip. The lamp post that gave CS Lewis the idea to write Narnia was there, and the coffee house that Jane Austen used to drink coffee in and write is also in Oxford.
I'm going to Paris this weekend, so there will be so much more for me to write about. I am traveling more than going to class and it is the best way to do school. I feel like I am learning more and more each day than I ever would in class. I am not just learning about history of England,but I am learning so much about myself.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

"The Key to England"

Dover Castle on a foggy morning

Cooking in the Castle Castle Feast

Dover Castle

It's 3 am, and I decided to start writing this blog about Dover because I can't sit and stare at facebook any longer! I woke up about 2 because there were loud drums coming down the road. Why in the world were people doing this at this time..I have no idea! I still don't fully understand the Brits yet.
Well we took a trip with all of the other study abroad students to Dover Castle Friday. It was about 45 minutes away from Canterbury on the coast. Our morning ride over to Dover was so foggy. We all thought it would be another rainy cold day in England. My first view of the castle was this foggy spooky looking old castle. I thought for sure that it was haunted. I was pretty much in awe the entire day though, even from the beginning. Dover is named the "Key to England" It's because this castle and the war tunnels were used in many different time periods, from the iron age, napoleon, and the world wars. I had to write a paper about all of this so I kinda know more than I would have ever expected to want to know about Dover and Dover Castle. Well, the first thing we did was our tour through the secret war tunnels. These were all located under the White Cliffs that Dover is famous for. These were mainly used during World War II as a hidden communication system, housing and underground hospital. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the tunnels, but I was lucky enough to snap a quick shot of us entering. The tunnels were so dark and damp. It felt so much like a haunted tour. I can't believe that these were so important and used back in World War II. The hospital beds were still there, and the bunk beds for housing. The most interesting room was the telecommunications like room. It was where the women worked all day and all night locating who was coming up the coast, and what was happening in the invasion of Europe. We learned that the Castle and tunnels were never bombed or harmed during this time, although at some times people did know about them.
When we exited the tunnels. It was free time to walk around for the rest of the day. We were so lucky that it was a pretty day and the sun was out, there aren't many days in England that are like that. A few of us climbed a huge hill and ate on top and looked out among the English Channel. It was gorgeous. We could see for miles. The grass here is so fertile and green, and that's what makes the view so spectatular. After we ate we just started walking. This place was so big, we had no idea where to start. One of the first things we saw was a lookout building that they used during the wars too. It was a little small building, but I'm sure played a very important part. There were little windows that when you looked out it was a perfect scan of the horizon.
After we left the lookout building we started to walk towards the main gates of the Castle. At an instant I was shocked! It was so big and amazing. This is actually something I have never seen in my lifetime. A real castle is something all little girls dream about, and I started thinking back to when I was little and would play princess and all. It took us all day to walk around the entire castle. The castle tower was probably one of the coolest things. We went inside and I'm sure we were in there 2 or 2 and half hours max. There were so many stairs and different passage ways to take. We would randomly pick one and start walking up. Rooms in the castle were decorated in cute little cartoonish but real like rooms. There were little beds that were made as queen beds. There was a great feast table, and kings chair. There was an entire kitchen like area, where fake hams were hung up, and wheat bowl. We played around like we were kids in a make believe world. It definately felt like that. I loved it. When we got to the top of the Castle the view was amazing. This was the prettiest view I have had of England so far on this trip! I could see sheep grazing in the rich green fields, the English Channel with waving waves, and the white cliffs of Dover. Standing on top I definately realized how big the castle actually was.
Going to Dover Castle and the Secret War tunnels is one of the best places I have seen so far on this England trip. I reccomend anyone who goes to England to come here, and not miss out in seeing the "Key to England"

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

normal day in canterbury movie_0001.wmv

In the Blink of an Eye

Tonight I have just been thinking about my experience as a whole in England so far. I have loved this experience but I now find myself saying that I am ready to go home. This isn't because I am homesick. It's just the feeling that if this was vacation it would be over and I would be on the flight back to the US. A few days ago I head about the terrorism travel warning in England for US travelers, and I got really scared. It was a feeling that I never want to have again. I really did not know what to think, but this is all directed to the places that I am at, and the to people like me U. S. residents in England. Over the last few days after talking to family and friends at home and others here I have calmed down with everything. My mom reminded me that God sent me to England for a reason. I may not understand nor did I realize it when it happened but he did send me here, and is watching over me everyday. I am going to continue making the best of my time here and see all that I came here to see without letting fear step in the way.
I feel like I have lost the strong relationship I had with God in the past year. Growing up I started to meet more people who were not Christians. In the past when I was a FCA officer and we were there to encourage the ones who did not know God I said everyone I know is a Christian. I had never meet anyone who wasn't. It was just what we all have grown up with. Now that I have started to travel and be on my own I am meeting people everyday who aren't and realized that I have lost the person I was who had the strong relationship with God. Tonight I started to listen to some of the old christian songs that I would play over and over back in the day like Amazing Grace Our chains are Gone, Word of God Speak, several Jeremey Camp songs, and just felt God's strenght carrying me on. I haven't felt this in such a long time. I am now ready to approach my trip knowing that God is there right beside me the feelings that I had 2 years ago, the ones that I will now never lose again. I have to add the lyrics to this MercyMe song. It describes everything I now see.
You put me here for a reason
You have a mission for me
You knew my name and You called it
Long before I learned to breathe
Sometimes I feel disappointed
By the way I spend my time
How can I further your kingdom
When I'm so wrapped up in mine
In a Blink of an eye that is when
I'll be closer to you than I've been
Time will fly
but until then
I'll embrace every moment I'm given
There's a reason I'm alive
In a Blink of an Eye

My classes have been great so far. That is all I did today is go to pop music and culture class at 9 and advertising class at 3. Advertising is probably my favorite class. We have an hour lecture and then the class in split and there is another hour seminar. I think our professor really favors the Americans. There are only 3 of us, but he loves everything we say. I am able to particapate so much in this class. I know that it is something I will definately do in the future. It rained again today. I think it has rained at least 8 days non stop. My umbrella broke the other night,( it was only a pound and cheap one so I can understand why). I'm going to have to buy me a better umbrella to finish this trip out. Kaitlyn and I are so excited about our birthday. This will be our 2nd birthday that we have had away from home. It is hard, but with friends there and we have each other everything has been ok. We are having birthday party and going out to eat, and prolly to club chemistry. The next day we are taking a trip to the Dover Castle and caves with the people for the study abroad program. I will write about that trip in the next blog. :)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Magical and Cold, but beautiful Ocean

When I go to a beach I feel free, I feel like all my worries and cares of the day are gone for a few hours. I was so excited to go to the coast of England. Kaitlyn and I had been asking all the British students we have met where the beach was. They told us there was one that was 20 minutes away. When we heard that we knew that there was no way we would miss the opportunity to go as many times as we could til our money got low. The first beach we found and heard about we went to. It was called Margate Beach. It was just a bus ride away. We caught the bus at the local Canterbury Station, and I was really happy to find out that the price was just five pounds for the entire trip. We could also buy a pass for 5.50 that meant we could get on and off the bus all day for that price. Our plan is to oneday do that, and just explore as many little towns we come to. We decided to go to Margate first just to check out the beach. The bus was really interseting, it was a double decker and we sat in the front on the top. Sitting up there with the big window in front of us was like riding a roller coaster. The bus driver was driving completely crazy. There were so many times I thought we were going to run over the cars in front of us. At one point we screamed because we thought we hit the car in front of us. The drive was gorgoeus. I had no idea we would drive through the countryside to get to the beach. It reminded me a lot of home. It was very open with rolling hills. The cows we saw were HUGE beef cows. I still get all confused on the roads how everything is backwards and they drive on the oppsite side in the car. I think I would be able to drive over here fine, but it would definately be another adventure!
Margate is a nice town. It is a little smaller than Canterbury and not as historic. There were many clubs and casnio life. It reminded me of Atlantic City with a Gatlinburg twist. It was more family like than Atlantic City, but so empty. When walking around I felt like I was in a movie. The town was so empty, but seems like it comes to life during the summer season. A lot of movies are filmed during off season at the beach and that is what it felt like. If I were filming a movie I would definately be filming it at Margate during that time. One part of the beach was under construction, but that didn't harm the beauty of the English Channel. We arrived in the morning so it was still low tide. I am so glad we came then, because we were able to find some shells. The shells we found were completely full crab shells. The ones that you put next to your hear and hear the ocean. I collected about 6 or 7. We were the only ones on the empty beach. It gave you the feeling to just open your arms and spin around like you were living fairy tale in England. The smell of the ocean and fresh air felt so good. I was so happy to escape from the city for a while. This is the first time here in England I felt relaxed and comfortable. I was able to discover myself and let all of the homesick feelings that I had disappear. I have been so worried about money on this trip, and here I decided that I was just going to let all worries lose. And they are. I left the scared worried thoughts carry out in the cold waves. We walked among the beach for miles. It was so empty. There were these huge piles of rocks and dried up coral. You might think that desscribing it as dried up coral it would be hidious, but this was actually really pretty. We walked around the rocks barefoot, and took some pictures. I really loved this. My favorite kind of beaches are the deserted ones that just have the random rocks to make it beautiful. Also there were walls around the beach and all of these were chalk walls. It was really unique. I took some of the chalk back with me. We ended up walking on the bicycle path. I read that there is about a 13 mile bicycle race in Oct. there. There were a few people riding bikes and people walking there dogs. As much as I don't like dogs, I really do like the dogs here. The dogs here have a more classical look. Most of them are shaved really nicely and walk with class. Unlike a lot of American dogs that have a lazy personality. I never thought I would be examining dogs in all my years haha. The beach was so cold but I think that is one of the things I liked best about it. The cold and me wearing my sweatshirt and jeans, made the experience completely different than all my other beach experiences. Kaitlyn and I sat for about 45 mintues just starring out at the English Channel. There were huge fishing boats. I wondered what they were fishing for. It might have been oysters or something like that. We walked about 2 hours in one direction til we were almost at the town Westgate. When we turned around we high tide was hitting. The waves were coming up the bike path extremely high. I could tell that if you feel in the currents and freezing water would kill you in an instance. When we got to the steps that we climbed up on earlier I got a picture of her. Where we were walking on the beach earlier and walking on the rocks was probably about 20 feet deep now. It was crazy. The picture is Kaitlyn standing more than half way down the steps and the water about to hit her feet.
We were so cold and hungry by the time we got back into the town. There was this kiddie playground area. The rides were colorful and machine operated. Everything was closed. There was also a little beach cafe right at the beach. We stopped there and got chicken and chips. (Chips is what they call french fries) they called the chicken southern fried. That's one of the reasons we were craving it. It was actually really good. We were one of the only people eating there. I was so tired on the bus ride home. This day has probably been my favorite day so far in England. I'm ending this post with a bible verse that I found in my backpack while I was there. It is from a little card that me Kaitlyn, and Grandma found on our way back from Knoxville one time when it was raining and we were all crying and upset. This quote is cleared my mind that day and definately did today too while I was at the beach. " Let him have all your worries and cares, for he is always thinking about and watching everything that concerns you. 1 Peter 5:7

Monday, September 20, 2010

Unexpected Events

Some of the best travel expereinces are when you have no idea what you are doing. When you have one map or not even a map at all and know nothing about the place you are at. I would have never imagined I would ever have an experience like that. I am the type of person who plans and worries until everything is correct. I think living in England is changing me for good. Over here they live free. They seem to have no worries and just have fun. They live life how many Americans should be living each day for itself. Everyone I have met and hung out with has been like that and I love it. The English people I have met so far have been some of the nicest people. They welcome us all in. They are in love with Americans and our accents, just like we are in love with theirs. It has only been a week and I think that this is one of the best decision I think I have ever made for my life.
A group of 6 of us girls went to London for the first time Saturday. It was amazing. The day was complete. We sat down Friday night and tried to start planning. It was not much success. We ended up finding the cheapest way there and that was the bus. It cost about 16 pounds round trip and was about an hour and half drive. We took the early bus at 8:30 and took the late bus back to Canterbury at 10:00. It was a long day, but that gave us enough time to walk around the city and see almost everything. When we got there we looked around and were lost immediatley. Six American girls standing in a bus station in London with no map. One of the girls Alaina ended up buying one so we realized that we were on Buckingham Palace road and we started walking hoping we would see the palace. We saw that Piccadilly Circus was a few blocks up from that too. We were all too excited to even think. The only thing that kept going through my head was "I can't believe that I am actually standing in London." I have always dreamed of the day that it would happen, but never at all knew the day would actually come. Still while I am writing this I can't believe that I am over here. I don't know if this feeling will ever leave my head until I get back home and look at my pictures over and over again. Well as we were walking down the streets there were so many beautiful buildings. I started snapping pictures! I have so many! When we started getting closer to Buckingham Palace there were some shops. The most eleguent things were sold in these shops. Of course I didn't have enough money to buy anything, but to me it's still amazing to look at it. We ate lunch just outside Palace. There was a lot of comotion going on. People were all lined up by the gates, and there was a ceremony going on inside. It looked like little girl scouts doing something with the guards. They were the ones with the big black top hats and the red jackets. We couldn't see over people so we kept walking. Everytime I passes a big gate I would quickly snap a picture hoping one would come out ok. The police made us walk so fast. We couldn't stand still. It was seriously like one second glance in. I could actually see what was going on better by looking at my pictures. When I looked at the first one I was like awesome. This is what we just saw!!! As we walked away from the Palace Kaitlyn told me she overheard someone say that the queen was coming in. I wish we would have stayed to see it, but hey, we can say we were there for a while! The big park outside of the Palace gates was gorgeous. It was lined with maybe maple tress in straight lines, and the cutest british people. We saw an adorable older couple. They made me so happy. I saw them trying to figure out how to work their cell phone. When we walked out of the park there was a display of art. A few girls bought a piece. It was all so life like. There were pictures of London with big ben, the beach, and even flowers. There was picture of a big sunflower field and I wanted so bad to buy it for my mom, but it was too expensive. It reminded of home so much. There was a time we went to our farm in Orlinda and saw a huge sunflower field, and this picture looked exactly like it.
As we continued walking we were hoping we were going toward Piccadilly circus. We passed a famous park I forgot what it was called, but when Alaina said the name I was like oh yea! We went through this block long upscale shopping area, and Shannon said that it was in the movie Parent Trap. I think it was. I kept thinking about the Mary Kate and Ashley movies that I used to watch and I felt like them. I even thought about the Amanda Bynes movie What a Girl Wants. We found Piccidilly Circus and it looked a lot like time square in New York. I loved it. It was busy. There were theatres everywhere. They were playing everything from Mulan Ruge, Grease and even Mamma Mia. Kaitlyn and I are going to try and see if we have enough money to go see Mamma Mia. I hope so. We went into this cool Britian store, and when we entered there were clowns dressed in all Britian clothing blowing horns at everyone. They were cute. I was so tempeted to buy something in the store. I walked around with a lunch box and Kaitlyn walked around with cute bag, but we ended up not buying anything. We kept on walking past Piccadilly Circus not knowing if the direction we were going was right, but we ended up i guess in the middle of London at the fountians and Art Muesum. Oh yea, I forgot that we went into an Art Institute earlier and just sat there like lazy Americans for about 20 minutes. I did a lot of thinking then, and I am considering maybe going to graduate school in London and studying art or fashion. I will see. I have no idea what the future holds. But when we were at the fountians. There were two big ones and then a staute with Lions that everyone sits on and takes pictures, and big ship in a bottle. It was all so cool. We walked in the free art muesum and the paintings were beautiful. I found that I really liked Gainsborough. There were two paintings that he had of where he painted his two young daughters. It just reminded me of Kaitlyn and me. That was my favorite piece of art I saw in the museum. In this area of London there were many of the personators who stand completely still for people to see. These were dressed in all silver. We went into a little bakery like store that sold all natural food and got a drink and something to snack on since we were starving. The coke had sugar instead of corn syrp. I liked it better. When we went back outside. There was a huge rally going on across the road. It was like a protest against the pope. Some of the signs said Nope Pope, and every little thing that you think could go wrong with the pope. I really had no idea people were against the pope. They were all so creative. We ended up at a building that had the guards that didn't talk. We got a picture at with him. It was kinda weird because I saw his eyes glance over at me when we were taking a picture. There was another little park we went to and this one had a small cottage. It was the wild life cottage for the birds. There was a little man there who played with all of the squarriels. He would feed them peanuts and they climbed right on him. They would climb up his legs and arms like he was a tree. It was crazy. There was blocked pathway with a bunch of police men standing so we asked one what was going on and he said around 6 the Pope was going to come down the road. We looked at the time and it was like 515, so I was like we are going to definately come back and see the Pope. We walked up the Big Ben and Parliement and saw the London Eye. It was spectualar. Then we heard a lot of screaming and carrying on so we walked up the road the the rally that we saw earlier that was against the Pope was all together and they were giving speeches. We stayed and listened to them for a while. At that point I realized that I was totally against everything they were saying. The road was blocked with huge mercendes police vans, and helicpoters were flying over everywhere. We then walked over the the pathway that the Pope was going to come down and stood for about 30 minutes waiting. It really wasn't that crowed at all. The crowd was calm compared to Chicago crowds. We were standing at the gate, and there wasn't any pushing or shoving. Behind us there was this adorable British family. Mom, Dad, two little girls about 2 and 3 and a little boy about 6. The little girls were playing ring around the rosy over and over and there little accents where so cute. It was about 20 past 6 when the vans started to pull up. One pulled up right in front of us and a man in a black and red gown came rushing out. We thought it was the Pope at first. This man moved so fast. It was a split second and he was out of the van and under the archway in the buliding. Then all of a sudden a car pulls out of the archway and in this open float like car. The Pope came out. It was amazing. He was just waving to the crowd. All of these were so unexpected amazing events that made my first trip to London a success. We all decided to start walking back to the bus station. I wasn't sure how to get back just knew we had to pass the fountains, Piccidilly Circus, paintings, the park and Buckingham Palace. When we were walking through the park it was like a horror movie. This big empty park and us walking down the the middle of pathway. Buckingham palace was so beautiful at night. We sat at the statue outside the Palace for about 45 minutes. We climbed up on it. I like how in London you can do that on certain statues. It felt like I was in movie. I was so tired on the bus I feel fast asleep until we were back in Canterbury. Unexpected Events lead to the best adventures, and I know that the rest of my experience abroad will be filled with many more full days like this.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What to happen...

"Understand that it is ok to be scared or uncertain, however right beyond those barriers ultimately lies your dreams." - Josh Hinds

Moving away from home for a year has been one of the best experiences of my life. I wouldn't change that decision for anything right now. Doing this did make me realize what I took for granted here in TN. It made me think about what I really want to do in my life. I thought that I was the person who was the city girl, and live that fast pace life. It was so much fun while it lasted, but there were so many times that I said to myself I am not happy here and I see me accomplishing nothing. I would sit in my room trying to figure out what to do and I would end up doing nothing, and at the same time I would be missing out on so many opportunities in Nashville. I saw opportunity after opportunity fly by me and I could not take it, beacause I was 8 hours away sitting on my butt trying to find something to do.
I can not say that Naperville, IL is a bad place and I had a negative experience there, because I have had tons of fun there and met so many wonderful people. I have been home and complained about how much I miss it up there. I learned a lot about life there. To anyone who moves to a place you know nothing about it is an experience that will make you a stronger person. It is an opportunity that you can't be afraid to take. I can't express how scared I was when I moved, one because I had no idea the store names and lifestyle was going to be so different when I was still in the United States. God sends you places for reasons. There are so many lessons God has planned for your life, and I now am seeing the path that God has layed in front of my eyes. I understand why he sent me there. I needed to wake up and see the wonderful life that I had here in TN. It felt like I ran away from all my troubles and worries, and I come back and realize how much my family loves me and who my true friends are. I know a lot of people say this, but " It's funny how when you move away you realize who your true friends are." And that doesn't even matter how far you move away. My friends are not afraid of what people think of them. We are a group of individuals with big goals and a strong determination to make everything happen. I have done one thing, and that was moving away far from home, and understanding the way others live. I may be moving back to Nashville next year, but that is because I want to work for my TOWN. I am prouder than ever of where I am from now, and who says I won't move off again. I can't predicte the future. I'm about to take another step and that is living in England! All I can say is that I am learning by experience and I'm not afraid of what that future holds. I have my best friends here and my family by my side and if that is all I have I will be very happy.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I won't give up!

I started listening this song and the lyrics go " I won't give up, I won't break down, and I will be strong even if it all goes wrong, and when I am standing in the dark I will believe that someone is watching over me" As I listened to this I began to cry, because this is exactly how I am living my life now. I have for too long broke down and gave up, and worried day to day on the little things. Recently I have said to myself, just go for it all, be yourself, and be true to yourself. Living this way has made me go each day with a smile. I am not afraid of life now. My dreams seem miles away, but I try not to live for the future anymore. I am living day by day and I know one day with hard work my dreams will come true. This is too everyone who is in college and has been through the time where you feel lost. I have had this feeling more than once this year, and has those times where I just broke down and cried in my room because I felt like I was accomplishing nothing and I was going no where with my life. I have been lost of who I am and there are times I feel like I am a lonely soul in this world. College is the time of your life that you find yourself. I am now finding that part of me. I have already realized that my career path is changing in ways I would have never imingined. It's crazy to see this happening, but I do feel like it is for the good. I won't give up! Sometimes right now I don't even know what I am giving up on. The goals seem to big to even come true, but hey, everything is possible. It takes determination, dedication, confidence and even friendship to make everything possible big or small!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's time to start

Everytime I hear a song about TN, sit and think of all that I took for granted as I grew up there. It’s not like I didn’t do many of the TN adventures while living there, but I was young. I saw this with my parents eyes right beside me, and as a child I you believe what your parents believe and their beliefs become many reasons why you believe that way. I realized I never took much time to see my home state as an adult, while still living there. Don’t get me wrong though, I have drove up and down the interstates with Kaitlyn. We took off and drove out home state and saw the land on the beautiful summer days. We saw the TN weather on that day we were driving I 40 the day of the big Murfreesboro sudden tornado that destroyed many high priced homes, we saw the small counties and realized how big ours actually was. The time we visited Terra and Tamra we experienced a county high school football game, and saw a true small town deep in the holler and hills of TN. We drove to the mountains a few times just us too to visit Amanda and Allison. Those drives up there can kinda get scary, with the cinmi trucks taking over the roads and speeding past us on the curves. The mountains in Gatlinburg and Knoxville are truly beautiful. It is crazy how the state of TN changes from completely flat land on the west side to the hills of middle TN, where I grew up, and then in the west side the mountains towering over you. I have hundreds of friends from all over the state, and sometimes I just ponder and think about where they have grown up, around the state, and how each place are so similar but so different. Each small town is filled with the same drama and talk, each town has the southern accent that fills like home to me when I hear it. The kind words from a southern just fills my heart. Everyone talking about their christian faith, and seeing many people becoming Christains for the first time at almost all the churches big or small you pass. The sun rising over the hills in the morning and seeing the cattle graze on the hills is one of the most relaxing feelings you can come across. Seeing the cows laying down in the fields, you know rain is near, and you can then smell it. Driving around my home state, I just stare at the land, the green grass, the trees blowing in the wind, and the children playing at the park. To me even seeing the trailor parks and moible homes on the side of the roads make me feel like home. I feel sorry for those people that have to live this way, but you know what, the most important thing about most of their lives, is that they are happy. I live up here in this huge city full of so many opportunites and so much to do, and I complain about not being happy and having nothing to do in this fast paced environment, and those people living in the middle of a field have nothing but happiness in their lives. They don’t worry near as much as I do, or anyone else who is living like I do. They wake up the sound the birds singing, and the warmth of the sun coming through their windows, and they go to bed with a sky full of stars, enough stars that if they look long enough they can see the big dipper or even a falling star. The tractors on the sides of the roads are just a part of life. That successful farmer is proud of his tractor. My friends who have animals and train their horses, sheep, cattle, poultry are proud of their work with these animals.
The cities of TN are another factor, one that I did take for granted is in Memphis. After my 19 years of growing up in this beautiful state I still have never visited this city that is always talked about. I even have quite a few friends down there. One day yall, I will come visit Memphis, and you guys can show me around. You can show me Graceland, Beale street, and what ever else makes Memphis Memphis. Nashville on the other hand is my home. I know every little thing about Nashville. It is growing and changing so much everyday,and I can say that I am so proud of that, because there is a lot of talent in that city. Music City is becoming more and more successful everyday. I have never realized how important Nashville was to singers until I moved. I’m sitting here listening to country songs, and I hear Nashville in like every song I hear now a days, and I love it. I just say yep that’s my home. You can ask me anything about Nashville and I will give you a legit truthfull answer. I have had my time to experiement the city on my own, and I know people from everywhere. Cenntinneal Park with the paratheon is probably my favorite place. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because where the marathon starts each year, or the movie was filmed there, or the debate party. So much happens. The batman building is Nashville’s signature building. I remember being very small and always saying I want to go in that building and work there one day. Walking around Nashville is completely different than Chicago. People just don’t walk around Nashville like they do Chicago, unless you are walking around second avenue or broadway going to a bar or dancing. Oh the Opry. I’m so glad I have had the opportunity to attend an Grand Ole Opry show a few times and see Merl Haggard, and many other traditional stars like him. They are the hearts of country music. I could talk hours about country music as well as Nashville. One thing I definitely want to do is show my Northern friends Nashville. I want to show them the secrets beyond the city, just like they have showed me the state of IL.
TN is my home sweet home, and always will be. When I get homesick,which I have a lot this week, and that is why I felt like writing about everything that I missed, I think about why I am here. I here to fall in love with Chicago just as much as I have fallen in love with Nashville. I am here to meet new friends and show them where I am from, and them show me where they are from. I love traveling and opening up to see many new places. I will be in England next year for 13 weeks, and I know while I am there I will probably write a similar blog to this one, but not about me missing TN, but me missing the U.S. I makes me feel good to write about this stuff. I reminds me of how blessed I am for the friends that I have met along my journey, and the adventures I have taken. Also it reminds of all I have seen. Recently our RA asked us to write down a song that fits each of us. I had a lot of trouble deciding on the perfect song. I pondered over first should I pick a country or pop song, because there are so many that fit me. I finally decided on country, so then I couldn’t decide on which country song I should pick, because they all are perfect! Should it be Southern Voice, by Tim Mcgraw, Voices by Chris Young, a Martina song. I just couldn’t decide. I was frustrating at some attempt. I finally decided on “Everyday America” by Sugarland. This song is on the CD that I used to fall asleep too,and for a while Kaitlyn and I would talk about how each of these songs sound like us, and that we could listen to this stuff over and over again. The first lyrics of the song “Everyday America” are exactly my life. “Mamma had hope, and me and my sister couldn’t wait to get out” talking about living in a small town. No matter how hard it was to leave my mother alone when we left I knew she would make it through. She knew that she did not grow me up and teach me to be the person I am today, with out me not following my dreams, and taking each opportunity that comes my way. She is my inspiration in my life. We all still have our struggles, and times that we run to each other and cry all day, but no matter how far away we are, our love is always as strong as it has always been. My disputes with my dad’s side of the family have finally ended. I have been so upset for years with this, and never thought that it would heal, but my relationship with my dad is stronger than ever now. I can talk to him without getting mad, and I am happy for him. He calls me so many times a day, but I just smile because I know he misses us so much and is so sorry for the past, and I am sorry for the past that we had, but it’s all ok now. I hope and pray more than anything that my family will have peace. I see it coming all the time. It’s all part of the time that God allows in our lives. He never puts our life at a stand still, because there is too much to do and see no matter where you are at to have that feeling. Whether standing on top of a hill in a field in TN, or in the middle of a big city. This blog is really random at times, but it is the introduction to the blogging that I am going to start. I might be slow right now, and probably wont write but once a month or once every other month, but when I go to England I will be writing everyday. This is just the introduction of me. Enjoy and follow me as I experience life, and I hope that I am encouraging you all to do the same. Make time for a new experience. “The person who has lived the most is not the one with the most years, but the one with the richest experiencesLove yall Kacie