Friday, June 28, 2013

When Hard Work Pays Off...

While writing this blog post I am completely aware that things could have gone very differently for me on this trip. I am constantly reminded that my experiences here in WestBay have been totally unique and unlike the rest of my group. With that said, I am so glad I did the things I did and I have no regrets. 

I did spend the majority of this trip studying. BUT that was my expectation and intention coming here. These classes were hard and crunched into a month! I don't regret the nights I chose to stay at home or the nights I came home earlier than the group. I worked really hard for my grades and feel like I completely earned them. Today I got A's on both of my finals which means A's in both of the classes and I am so HAPPY! Hard work really does pay off. 

I enjoyed the group excursion to Bath and the time I spent doing things around the area such as visiting Lyme Regis, Dorchester, and all of the little towns in between. I loved the cliffs and the hiking and the weather was perfect! Especially since I heard it's been 90 in Flagstaff! I love that there are so many things to do outdoors here because that's where I like to be when I'm in Flagstaff. 

I am glad that I worked as hard as I did. Even if it meant sacrificing time I could have spent on the beach, out with friends, or exploring. Now I get to go to London and spend 4 days not worrying about school! I would hate to have gotten B's and been beating myself up the whole time instead of having fun. I can stay out as late as I want and do whatever I want and I know I will totally enjoy myself the entire time. 

I am excited to see a different side of England, even if it is the touristy side. I am hoping to go on a double decker tour bus and do all of the things you are supposed to do while in London. I feel so blessed to have been able to come to WestBay and study abroad and now I am so blessed to be going to London to have some fun. Work hard, play hard. 

With all of that said I am still counting down the days until I return home to Flagstaff! I can't wait to see my family and friends and Darby of course. 33 days is a long time! 

I will be sure to post lots of pictures from London! 

Love, Taylor 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Last Week in WestBay!

We have finally come to our last week of classes. I feel like an excited kiddo waiting up for Santa on Christmas Eve. I will be so happy when these classes are over and I don't have to think about them ever again. And by ever again I of course mean not until August when school starts up again. 

Our third set of tests were yesterday and they went really well. I still need to get high grades on the finals to get A's in the classes but I am happy those tests are out of the way. We have hardly no new material this week and tomorrow is our only actual day of class this week. We will have a Micro lecture and then watch a Genetics movie. We have homework tomorrow afternoon but then Thursday is set aside just to study for the finals. I can't believe I am almost done with 6 credits of classes! 

I was able to go for a little hike after class today which was nice because I get tired of just studying! I love these cliffs so much and I am really going to miss them! I love that they seem like they are so high up and would be difficult to climb but really aren't at all. They also have a pretty great view of the beach and of WestBay. 

As for the rest of the week, I see lots of studying in my future! It will totally be worth it though to get good grades so I can enjoy my last few days of the trip in London! I am so excited to be spending 4 nights there before I head home! If anyone has any suggestions on things to do while I am there, let me know! 


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Happy Birthday Dad!

I think that each time we leave home for a good period of time, we learn something new about ourselves and about the people around us. A month may not seem like a long time but it is a good chuck, especially if you are in another country with a group of people you only met on the airplane before you got here. So I have decided to take a few minutes to talk about some of the things I learned about myself while I have been here. 
I am pretty independent as is. I don't mind doing things alone or being the only one in the group not doing something. It turns out, I am even more independent then I thought. And that has actually been a very good thing for me on this trip. 

I knew coming on this trip that England has a different drinking age. In fact, in England, you can drink at 18. I also knew that my feelings about alcohol and drinking were going to be different then the majority of the groups. What I didn't know was that they would be different then absolutely everyone else's. The group likes to go to the pub and drink on the weekends here. I tagged along the first time and got an overpriced cappuccino and it was weird...for everyone. So I haven't spent a lot of time with a lot of the group who spends their weekends at the pub. I am glad they are all enjoying themselves and have no hard feelings about it, but I am very thankful to be so independent in this situation. 
I have also learned that when you do things alone here, more locals talk to you. Every single time I go walking on the cliffs or the beach alone I talk to new people. Everyone is so curious about where I am from and how I am liking England. The two girls I am living with have made some local "guy" friends and they all seem to have a really good time. They are all between 19-21 and love having American girls around. I have hung out with them on occasion but I just seem to like the connections and interactions I have with "older" natives better. 
I have learned that I absolutely hate messy spaces. Our house is rather small (We like to use the word Quaint) and it is obvious that things are messy when there isn't a lot of space. We don't have a dishwasher so I decided to lead by example and wash my dishes and put them in the drying rack. I was shocked when my roommates not only didn't put their dishes away, but simply stuck them in the sink. I don't know how parents put up with us! The same goes for things around the house, games are left out as well as clothing and shoes. It makes me CRAZY. But I have learned that I probably do those things at home in Flagstaff and should probably make sure I am not being hypocritical in the future by saying I hate messes and leaving my own. 
Lastly I have learned/reminded myself daily, that I have the power to make this trip whatever I want it to be. Everything doesn't always go the way I think it is going to and I have had to adjust a lot of my expectations for this trip, but I have done so and still had such an amazing time! I am so lucky to be doing this and I know it is something I will remember and cherish for my whole life. Coming here to study was a once in a lifetime experience. Each day I wake up not sure what exactly to expect but I have yet to be disappointed. 

So on an entirely different note, last weekend was Father's Day and today is my Dad's Birthday. I wish I could be home to celebrate with him and my family! It makes me miss them even more when I miss things like this! So I am wishing my Dad a very Happy Birthday from WestBay! I can't wait to see you in 10 days! 

Thanks for giving me this opportunity to come here! And thanks for raising me to be who I am today and for helping me to develop some of these characteristics I mentioned above! I love you! I hope you have a wonderful day and do something fun to celebrate! 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Perfect Day At The Swannery!

I could not think of a better way to spend my Saturday then at the Abbotsbury Swannery. The Swannery Sanctuary has been run by the Ilchester Estates since the 1500's. Their aim, "...Is to conserve the swans and other wildlife, in this very special environment." The Swannery is open 7 days a week and the swans are fed twice daily at Noon and 4 p.m. 

One of the other girls in the program, Maddie, and I took the bus from WestBay and arrived just before noon. We had to walk a few miles to get to the Swannery but I am glad we went because it was SO cool. 

I have a million pictures that I want to upload but I will try to just pick a few. 


The Swannery was clearly, awesome. I loved watching all of Swans eat and I thought it was so interesting that they didn't mind at all being so close to each other. The land is huge and there is tons of space for the swans to hang out. Some of them are in the larger groups but as you can see in the pictures a lot of them are hidden in smaller areas with what I am assuming are their baby swans. They don't seem to mind people being around, probably because they get fed. But they will hiss if you get near the babies! The swans are free to come and go as they would like.

After a few hours at the Swannery, Maddie and I found a little cafe near the bus station. I had a delicious afternoon tea with teacake (Similar to an english muffin). 

Unfortunately it is back to studying now. I will be so happy when these classes are over and I don't have to think about studying! I can't believe that I only have 7 more nights in WestBay before I head to London! I am very excited to have seen the country/beach style of living here in England and to be able to also see the city/touristy parts!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2 More Weeks!

Whoever said study abroad classes were easier, lied. I have had a lot of people tell me how lucky I am to be taking these hard classes during the summer when they are easier. So I decided I would take a moment to address that myth. I am currently taking two classes, 6 credits total. Both of these classes are usually taught in a semester. A semester at NAU is about 16 weeks. I am taking these 16 week classes in 4 weeks. That means that each day of class is one weeks worth of material (We only have class 4 days a week). So in one actual week here, we do a months worth of material. Between my two classes, that is two weeks worth of work per day and two months worth of work per week. 

Now, I don't want to sound like I am complaining because I don't mean to at all. I absolutely love the structure of summer classes. I like how fast paced everything is and I feel like we have less time to forget things when we have exams every Monday. We also have two-three quizzes each day which helps. We do have a lot of homework each night though. Since one of the classes is being taught using the "flipped classroom," we are required to listen to the lecture online before going to class. So each day we come home and do a microbiology quiz, a problem set for genetics,  reading for genetics, listen to the online lecture for genetics, and take a reading quiz for genetics. Luckily it stays light out until 10-11 p.m. so even if we spend all afternoon on homework we still have some daylight hours to go out. One thing that I miss is having my own room! I share a room with Brooke and it is fairly small! My bed is the one in the wall. It would be nice to be able to come home and have my own space but we make it work!

I think one of the hardest things about study abroad is finding a balance. I want to go out and explore because I am in a new country and it seems like a once in a lifetime experience. But I also want to study and do well in my classes. I am paying more to be here then I am to be at NAU and I should get good grades. I think now that I have been here for a few weeks I am getting the hang of it! Even on days when I have a lot of homework I make sure to still get outside for a run/hike. It's always a good excuse for a study break as well! 
<--- This is one of the trails I like to go running on! It goes from WestBay to Bridport then I take another trail that loops back to the other side of WestBay.

Today I realized that I will be heading home exactly two weeks from tomorrow! It is amazing to think that I have already been here for 18 nights! And I still have 15 more nights! I have done so many cool things since my arrival in WestBay and there are so many more things to do before I leave. I have decided to start a countdown:

7 days of classes left! We don't have class this Friday so we only have tomorrow and Thursday and then we have class everyday next week with finals on Friday. 
10 more days in WestBay! The program ends on Friday, June 28th and we have to be out of our house by Saturday, June 29th. 
Which means, 11 days until London! On June 29th, Brooke and I will be headed to London to spend 4 nights in London
15 more nights until I am on a plane heading back to Flagstaff! 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Beautiful City of Bath

Today we walked, took a bus, caught a train and finally ended up in the beautiful city of Bath. I absolutely loved it. The train was about two hours long and mostly consisted of beautiful countrysides and cute little towns. It wasn't very crowded either, which was nice. I sat down and realized that I was facing backwards. So when I looked out the window everything looked funny, but I got used to it! I am SO glad I brought my Deuter backpack. It is the perfect size and I bring it basically everywhere I go! The train took us right to the town center and everything was within walking distance which was perfect. 

We decided that we all wanted to go to the Roman Baths so we headed there first. The line was long and we were told it would be about a 20 minute wait. Luckily our professor told us she would wait in line and we were free to walk around for a few. Right next to the line for the Baths was BathAbbey. It is a beautiful parish church which was once the great church of a monastery. It was free to go in and I am so glad I did. I am so amazed by the architecture and beauty of all the buildings. The Abbey dates back to 1499 when The Norman cathedral was in ruins and the Abbey church was founded to replace it. The Abbey was suppressed and largely destroyed in 1539 but in 1569 it was presented to Bath to become its parish church. It was re-roofed and fully repaired as it is today in 1611. 

After I visited the Church, the line had gone down quite a bit and before long we were headed into the Roman Baths. It was so fun to go with everyone! When you arrive you are given a walkie talkie looking thing that you wear around your neck. At each of the different stations/things to look at there is a sign with a number on it. You enter the number into your walkie talkie and then put it up to your ear and listen to someone talk about what you are looking at. It was the coolest thing. 

The baths amazed me. I can't believe that the Roman's actually used them to bathe in. They were a very spiritual place and Roman's used the baths as a source of healing. Geothermal energy raises the water temperature to between 147.2 degrees Fahrenheit and 204.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

After the Roman Baths we decided to roam around for a while. We visited the Royal crescent which dates back to the 1770's. The architecture is really cool and it is a very popular tourist location. The building is still in use with residents living there and offices in some of the buildings. Unfortunately the public cannot actually see that much.

It was really fun to walk around and everything was pretty close. We eventually caught the train back to Dorchester and then the bus back to Bridport. From there we walked back to WestBay. We were lucky to have fairly good weather all day! It did rain for a while in Bath but it wasn't a bother at all. It was nice to have a day out, especially since tomorrow will be spent studying! 


Friday, June 14, 2013

A Rainy Week!

This week has been very rainy! But it was also a very enjoyable week. Tuesday we did not have class and there was not much to do because of the weather so we enjoyed a lazy day at home. A few of the others from our group came to our cottage for breakfast. We made pancakes which were very good! I focussed a lot on homework and tried to get ahead on this week's readings. Later on in the day I joined a few others in Bridport where we walked around. I was able to send some postcards at the Post Office, which should be arriving in America any time now! Later in the evening I joined my roommates for some afternoon tea. I love that drinking tea is a thing here. When you order tea you get an entire tea pot, not just one cup! I love it. I had some green tea with peppermint which was delicious!  

On Wednesday we had class again. Unfortunately it was another rainy day! Since we are right on the coast it gets very cold and windy here when it rains! When I got back from class there was a note that I had a package waiting for me at the Post Office in Bridport! Since Bridport is only 2 miles away I decided I would get some exercise and run to the Post Office. I am so happy I did because they had a lovely package waiting for me from my family back home! Of course it started pouring rain the second I walked out with my package but I managed to run back home with it, undamaged! It had a nice note from my family and some goodies! Thanks guys! 

Yesterday was laundry day. The Laundromat is right across the street. Convenient, right? However, it is very expensive! So I washed my clothes in the bathtub! Quite the experience! I mostly washed socks and underwear but I did some t-shirts as well. I hung them up to dry and when I got home from school this afternoon they were done!

 After laundry, a few of us caught a bus to Lyme Regis. Lyme Regis is another town located along the Jurassic Coast. It is very historic with lots of old buildings and a beautiful beach. Lyme Regis is known for the many fossils that have been found there as well as "The Cobb" which is featured in one of Jane Austin's novels. We found some sunshine and enjoyed the sandy beach! Unlike WestBay, there is actually sand on this beach! 

After walking along the beach we came across a beautiful garden. This is just one of the many flower beds featured in the garden. The garden was actually named The Jane Austin Garden. She is very popular around here! I think everyone else in town was enjoying the sunshine on the beach so I felt like we had the garden all to ourselves! I love how vibrant the colors are with the green!

Being close to the ocean is awesome. The waves have been incredible in WestBay lately because we have had so many storms coming in. We watched high tide on Wednesday night and there were actually people out surfing. Crazy! I enjoyed being near the calm waves in Lyme Regis as well! These steps go all the way down to the water and if you stand close enough you will get wet. I have been trying to enjoy all of the sounds because that is my mom's favorite part of the beach. The water is too cold to swim in here so I might have to agree with her. I could just sit on these steps for hours and enjoy the view.

I am happy that it is Friday again! As I said last week, Friday's are nice because it means no class for the weekend! Unfortunately we have our exams on Monday's so I will spend a good bit of time studying! Tomorrow the whole group is heading to Bath. I am so excited to see the Roman Baths, Gardens, Museums, and everything else! We only have 9 days of class left which I find absolutely unreal. We have Friday off next week and then the following week we have exams on Monday and finals on Friday! I will make sure to take loads of pictures tomorrow so I have something fun to blog about next!