Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Becoming Part of the Community

For my first couple of weeks I felt like an outsider.  I'm living with full time students on campus and it has helped me meet locals but it still didn't make me feel apart of the campus community.  During my first week of classes I kind of just took time to adjust and become accustomed to the new learning style.  I wasn't too sure what the difference between lectures and seminars were but I had a vague idea.  People try to prepare you for them but it still is a bit weird walking into each of them.  Comparing to classes at St. Mike's, a lecture is just like a regular class where a seminar is more like when a small group of students get together to focus on what you are learning about during the week.

After this week of learning, I began branching out and trying to talk to a few students in my classes.  The hard part is that since everyone here knows everyone already they have their group of friends.  I have to say though that after some conversations I have friends in each class.  Also, I'm no longer hesitate to ask/answer a question during class to the lecturer or another student if I'm confused.

As the weeks began to go by I still felt a bit of an outsider and I couldn't figure out a way to feel at home.  I was trying to figure out something to join but a lot of clubs meet on Saturdays and I liked to go exploring so I was hoping for something else.  I lucked out one day and found a club that would be perfect for me!  I found an Irish Step Dancing group on campus.  It was just like the Celtic Knights back home so I was excited.  They meet week nights and it is all basic steps.  I am even participating in their end of the year performance! It has definitely made me feel more part of the community on campus.

My tip to anyone studying abroad is to find a group to join.  Even though I live with full time students I didn't feel apart of the actual Bangor Community until I joined a club.  

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Warm Weather and Sun

I am having a week of what is unheard of in Wales:  A week of SUN!!  This baffling a lot of people here since it normally is dreary.  I'm not complaining.  The weather for the past couple of days has been in the high 40s (fahrenheit) and sunny.  I've taken advantage of this as much as I've could.  I've gone for a walk every single day.

Last Friday and Saturday I spent some time meandering around town.  I did some shopping on the clearance racks just to see what kind of clothes there were.  (I do admit I found some stuff on sale which I'm excited to wear!)  I also made it out to the Pier both of those days.  It was a nice walk out.
The Pier
The Pier is pretty long which is nice but the scone shop at the far end was closed.  I'll have to venture out when they are open to try some!
The Scone Shop
At the far end you almost look Llandegfan.  I see this through the trees on my walk to class so it was nice to get some clear views of the town.
The view from the tip of the pier 
As I was walking back home I felt as though I was in a movie because of the road I was walking on.  There were stone walls on both sides and everything looked staged.  It was pretty cool!
The road I walked on
I saw a small dirt path that led towards the water.  I decided to venture down and I found a small little beach.  It had an amazing view of the pier from it!
The dirt path

The beach with pier in the far distance
Touching the water
A better view of the pier
 What I didn't realize was that it was high tide and the small beach was really part of a larger beach which connected further down the coast where I went today.
The full view of the beach
Afterwards I had some time to kill so I ventured back up to a field which I also found this weekend.  It is really popular for dogs to be able to run around and people to just hang out.  I ended up sitting there trying to read but I kept getting distracted by views and dogs playing.
A Stonehenge like structure in the field
A panoramic view of the field

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Pancake Day and Lent

Yesterday, depending where you are in the world, was Fat Tuesday.  Other parts of the world my refer to it as Mardi Gras.  If your in the UK it's Pancake day.  My flatmates introduced me this holiday last night over some delicious crape pancakes with bananas, Nutella, honey, and/or sugar on top.  It all depended on your preference.  We did have discussions on US pancakes vs. UK pancakes while making them.  I did feel a little inept because I'm so used to the Aunt Jemima pancake mix from home and couldn't make them any from scratch.  I will have to find a recipe and attempt to make them some soon!

Today marks the start of a holy season for the church:  Lent.  It is a time for fasting and reflection.  It is supposed to symbolize your sacrifice to become closer to God.  I always have found this season to be one of the harder preparations for me.  One way I find help is by reading the Daily Lenten Reflections written by members of the worshiping community at SMC:  They help me to refocus my actions during the rough patches.  I highly suggest checking them out during this Lenten season, there will be a new post everyday.

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Yesterday I went to Liverpool!!  It was awesome time!  Bangor University International Office ran a trip at a discounted cost to us.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity.  Two of my friends here, Graciey and Adrianna, and I participated in their trip yesterday.  Once in Liverpool we were free to roam about the city as much as we wanted.  We did some sight-seeing down by the waterfront and we to the shopping district to walk around.  I ended up finding a cute shirt on sale!

Most of the rest of the day was spent seeing Beatles sights. Graciey is a HUGE Beatles fan so we went through two museums.  I enjoyed the museums since I grew up on the Beatles and am a fan myself.  Our first stop was at the Hidden Beatles Gallery.  It was a short walkway with pictures taken of the Beatles.  The second Beatles stop was the actual museum.  It was so cool to learn about their history and see some actual of the instruments they used.  It was AWESOME!  Here are some pictures from the day:

At the Beatles Museum
The Yellow Submarine
Graciey's New Boyfriend
Memorial to John Lennon and Peace
Stairs of Beatles Songs
St. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wandering and Cooking

It's been awhile but I'm still alive over here in Wales!  I've been having a great time so far.  It's been busy and I've pretty much crash once my homework is complete.  Living over here is a learning experience for me.  Mainly most of my learning experiences have been in the kitchen.

Over Christmas, I ended up replacing baking sheets and an ice cream scooper after all the disasters.  You can read about them here: Baking Disasters.  Living in a Flat over here has made me learn to cook meals for myself.  I started off my first week with mostly pre-made dinners in the frozen section or the just add water bags.  I will say I've expanded my horizons a bit and have successfully made pasta (with sauce), a chicken quesadilla  (which wasn't too delicious, I was missing a few ingredients), and chicken and rice.  I'm going to try making new foods as the semester goes on but I can't guarantee they will be successes given my track record.

One of my first real meals!
I've also done some wandering around town.  Bangor's not that big so you can walk just about anywhere you really want to go.  The only downside to it would have to be the hills.  They are all pretty steep.  Going down isn't normally a problem, it's going up that you just want to kick yourself.  I will say, it will keep me in pretty good shape this semester.  Here are some photos from my adventures:
We're really close to the water!
The view from the academic building
The school crest
Down by the water 
In town.  The castle like building in the background is the
main academic building where all my classes are
More to come real soon!  Hopefully the weather clears up this weekend because it's been rainy here.