Tuesday, June 22, 2010


edinburgh, pronounced (ED-in-bə-rə).
this is where i spent this past weekend.
we left liverpool early friday morning, and we arrived in scotland around 12.30 pm. we first went to our hostel, globetrotter inn, and received an orientation. for a hostel, this was a great place to stay. inside the hostel, there was a computer room (where you could buy 1/2 hour of internet time for 80 pence), a tv room, a movie room (and you could rent free movies), laundry room, a bar, and continental breakfast. although we had to take a 15 minute shuttle into downtown edinburgh, this was definitely a nice and safe hostel to stay in. so, if you are ever traveling to edinburgh, scotland, i recommend staying here.

on our first afternoon, our entire group took the shuttle downtown. from there we split up, and seven of us girls climbed arthur's seat, an extinct mountain that is the highest point in edinburgh. we climbed up the steepest side, and we laid at the top for a little over an hour. we got the most beautiful view from way up there! and the cool mountain breeze cooled us down from our climb.

afterwards, we met up with the guys, and we went on a "free" comedy ghost tour around edinburgh. i will post the man's name when i find someone who remembers it. this guy was kind of creepy at first, but i guess this is good because, well, it was a ghost tour. he told jokes as we walked away from every "haunted" site, but he spoke in such a heavy scottish accent that it was hard to pick up the punch lines sometimes. at the end, he told us that he did all of the research himself and wrote the script himself, unlike the other ghost tour guides in town. he then asked for a donation if we enjoyed the tour. i paid him because i enjoyed this tour much more than i would have enjoyed a "real" ghost tour.

on saturday, a few of us girls woke up early and took an early morning stroll along the firth of forth, the body of water behind our hostel. we walked past many families, and every family or couple had a dog, and all of the dogs were extremely cute!

after our walk, we took the shuttle into town, and we toured edinburgh castle. we saw chapels, apartments, and prisons in the castle dungeons. in the prisons, american soldiers were held there during the american revolution for independence. on the cellar doors, american soldiers had carved in their initials and even an american flag!

we then walked around town, up and down the royal mile, shopping for souvenirs. we had lunch at this little back-alley cafe called the sugar cube. they had delicious paninis! after lunch, we visited the elephant house cafe, where jk rowling sat for hours writing harry potter. we also visited the university of edinburgh's campus. we sat in a courtyard that was nearly 500 years old! magnificent. we walked around and shopped a little more before grabbing some dinner to go and a couple of bottles of wine for a picnic dinner atop arthur's seat. we hiked back up the mountain, this time with dinner and shopping bags in hand, and we toasted to a wonderful weekend and enjoyed our relaxing dinner with the best view edinburgh has to offer.

on sunday, our entire group woke up early and headed off on a 12-hour bus tour around the scottish highlands, via rabbies tours. i realized that bus tours are not really my thing. i fell asleep almost every time we got back on the bus after a stop, no matter how tired i actually was. i would rather spend the day hiking through one section of the mountains, rather than try to see them all in one day. regardless, the highlands were beautiful!!! i also learned a lot about the clans that inhabited the area hundreds of years ago, thanks to our tour guide gavin. i also saw a few locations that were used in the harry potter films, such as the train bridge that leads to hogwarts, the location where hagrid's hut was built for filming, and a few places where quidditch scenes were filmed. awesome! so many harry potter experiences on this trip. i love it! we even got to stand in the loch ness.

i am currently sitting in my dorm taking a break from writing my final paper.
final paper. i can't believe it is already my final week here. i have been here two and a half weeks, but those two weeks have felt like two months. every day here is so jam-packed with activities that each day feels incredibly long. while i have enjoyed my time here immensely, and i am looking forward to my final five days here, i am ready to go home. i have been feeling homesick the past couple of days, and it will be nice to sleep in my bed, eat good food (not cafeteria food, and no more "chips"), see my family, and see christopher.


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

photo highlights

liverpool hope university's campus

albert dock, liverpool

big ben and parliament

buckingham palace

hillsong church, london


this past weekend, we spent a few days in london.
let me begin this post by saying that if you have never been, you should visit london some day! there are hundreds of things to do and see--we just did not have time to see everything.
briefly, here is what i did:
lunch at chiquito, british museum, phantom of the opera at her majesty's theatre
open-top double decker bus tour (saw big ben, parliament, buckingham palace, the queen(!), westminister abbey, hundreds of naked people in hyde park-stood in my bra in public just because i could, the marble arch, trafalgar square, millenium bridge (featured in harry potter), london bridge, tower bridge, tower of london, london eye, cleopatra's needle, shakespeare's globe theatre, and many other sights!), boat ride down the river thames, then finally to yates bar to watch the england verse usa world cup football game. watching the game was my favorite part of the day! the energy in that place was incredible! hundreds of people packed into this bar--almost everyone clad in red and white england flags. music was playing, and everyone was singing english bar songs loudly. "FOOTBALL'S COMIN' HOME!" i wish i had known the words because it would have been so much more fun had i been able to join in. a few girls and i felt weird standing around with no england gear, so we left the bar and ran down the street to a little souvenir shop, and we bought england flags that we draped over our shoulders before we returned to the bar. england scored their first goal in the first four minutes, and everyone in the bar went nuts. a little while later, england's goalie, green, let the ball slip right through his fingers and into the goal. our small group of american students cheered and cheered. we ended up meeting a man from dearborn michigan in the bar, and he hung out around us for the rest of the night. the game ended in a draw (the most favorable outcome for our safety). we then walked around the city looking for a club to go to, but ended up getting lost somewhere near covent garden. we stopped a couple and asked for directions. they had american accents, and we ended up talking to them for a while. the woman was from canton michigan originally! two people in one night from so close to home. small world!
hillsong church, lunch at pizza express, walked around and shopped in covent garden and piccadilly circus. but...hillsong! months ago, when i first found out that i was going to london, my first thought was that i wanted to go to hillsong london. i didn't know where we were staying in the city, and i wasn't sure if anyone would want to go with me, so i dropped the idea for a while. once i got here, however, i found out that a few girls actually wanted to join me! i then got our address for our flats in london, and i looked up the address to hillsong. 9 minute walk (travel time could have been nearly an hour on the tube, depending on where we were in the city). total God thing! anyways, hillsong united was finishing their month-long tour by playing as the worship band this day. AMAZING. they sounded so good! there was no sermon-it was basically just a free hillsong concert interrupted by church announcements-, and i would have liked to hear one to see what it's like there, but it was incredible getting to hear hillsong live. i loved it. without a doubt, going to church at hillsong has been my favorite part of the trip thus far.

we returned to liverpool sunday evening.

on monday morning, we returned to northway primary school, and allison and i got moved to the recession classroom (aka preschool, where the children are 4 and 5 years old). we basically just played with the kids outside all morning, and we listened to them learn phonics at the end of our time. phonics in the uk are much different than in america. the children learn the sounds of letters and letter chunks based on the way this program jolly phonics say they sound. when a student said "the letter 'c' can also sound like ___," the teacher flat-out told him "no, we say it the way jolly phonics tells us to." this, to me, is not the best way to learn phonics because certain letters sound different in different situations (such as 't' in nation versus tiger or 'c' in circus). the children also know the sounds of letters, but they have a very hard time saying the name of each letter. it is a very interesting thing to watch and listen to. we will be in the reception room all week because the year one pupils are testing.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

the big day!!!

my pupils performed their assembly today! it was their "big day!"
although i've only known them a few days, i was so proud of each and every one of them! they all remembered their lines, and most of them had loud performance voices. wonderful!

this morning, one of the boys hugged me. afterwards he said, "oh, there is nothing like a good hug!" adorable! i wish teachers were allowed to hug students in america. children need that sometimes.

i also finally got to see my first literacy lesson taught in the uk. mini-lesson followed by a writing workshop. very similar to teaching in the usa, the difference being the students had to write independently without any help (even though they are only in kindergarten).


tonight, most of our group went out to this pub called the childwall five ways. it is at the intersection of five big roads. we all hung out. i talked to the bartender, and i asked for a "classic english drink." he gave me archer's golden. after i drank it, i met a waitress and two english men, and they told me that was a bad choice. oh well, it wasn't that bad. i talked to the two english men for a while, and they were very nice! they told us all some fun places to visit downtown, and they were also good for a good laugh.


london in the morning!!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

downtown adventures

day two in northway primary school.
allison, another girl on my trip, and i have been working in a year one class (known as kindergarten in the usa). today, we watched the children read then practice their lettering. after this, they had a "stranger danger" presentation by two police officers. the officers wore charlie chaplin-esque hats. pretty neat! after this, the children practiced for their assembly that they are performing for the rest of the school and their parents on thursday morning. they are doing a news report skit about holidays at the seaside, since their summer holidays are coming up soon. they also sing a few songs, and these songs have been stuck in my head all day. after practice, the entire school had a sports day. we got to go outside with the children and jump rope, dribble a football (aka soccer ball), play basketball, dance, run, throw and catch, and hula hoop. i had so much fun today! out at sports day, all of the teachers were not only facilitating the activities, but they were participating in each one. my mentor teacher even took off her high-heeled shoes to dance and jump rope with the children! i loved seeing teachers engaged in their students in this way!

after school, we walked back to liverpool hope, and we had lunch and class. short class today. after class, a few of us headed downtown to shop. we had to take taxis, but we got split up into three taxis, and we ended up getting separated from four of the girls in our group. this was unfortunate, because we were all planning on spending the evening together. regardless, we all had fun in our smaller groups. stacy, nicholle, nydia, allison, brooke, kendall, and i walked around liverpool one, a shopping district right downtown. i got a fun clear/green umbrella that comes down around my whole head. most of the shops closed at 5pm, so we walked over to albert dock and saw the water, boats, and wales! afterwards, we walked back to the city centre and had dinner at an irish pub called o'neill's. we got 3.49 pounds dinner specials! cheese & bacon burger with chips. we then caught a cab back to campus. i talked to the driver. he is not a huge football fan, but he may listen to the game on saturday night. i only asked because england plays the usa on saturday in the world cup match! you should all watch. the cab driver also pointed out to us all of the best pubs in liverpool. some of them could be fun to visit!

when we got back to campus, we met back up with the other group of girls, and we talked about what we did. the other group found the cavern, a Beatles' pub. a few of us then walked around our little town square area. lauren and i needed to find the bank to switch some of our money around. we then went to the abbey friar for deep-fried mars bars (chocolates). delicious! tasted like a creme-filled donut. we hung out, watched some friends, and now i am here in my room getting ready for bed.

goodnight, mates!

Monday, June 7, 2010

first full day

still so tired. this could be due to the fact that we walked nearly ten miles today, or i could still be feeling some jet lag. either way, i am TIRED. it is currently 10.40 pm, so i should be in bed, sleeping. instead, i'm updating about my day. we woke up and had breakfast: hard toast with strawberry jelly and corn flakes, no milk. we then registered, got liverpool hope student ids, and we walked to our schools. the primary school we are working at is 1.5 miles away, aka a thirty minute walk. not something i'm looking forward to at 8 am, but i am excited to work in the schools. top-notch security in these schools. they don't take any chances. but...tomorrow morning i will wake up and walk to the primary school and begin working in a classroom there. pray for me and our group!

after we walked to our schools, we came right back and had lunch: jiggly lasagna that actually tasted pretty good. we then took a bus downtown. here, buses are like taxis-- you have to wave them down or else they'll drive right by you. we learned this the hard way; we had to wait another twenty minutes for the next bus to drive by. once downtown, we walked to see two cathedrals: the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King (Roman Catholic) and the Liverpool Cathedral (Anglican). Check out their websites to see pictures! the Liverpool Cathedral was awesome because we paid 3.5 pounds to climb to the top of the tower. From the top, we could see all of liverpool and part of the irish sea! beautiful!

we then came back and had dinner: pizza and chips (french fries). they serve chips with every lunch and dinner pretty much anywhere you go. tasty, but bad for my body. after dinner, our group walked another couple of miles to this giant grocery store called tesco. everyone got a couple of snacks and walked back. my friend lauren and i got a couple of british candy bars: turkish delight and toffee crisp. we tried the turkish delight, and i wouldn't recommend it. little did we know, turkish delight means this pretty solid form of jelly. and it was covered in milk chocolate. we only ate the outer chocolate shell. the common room in our dorm was open, so a few of us ended up sitting down there on big comfy leather couches and watched a couple of american tv shows on the big-screen television: friends and glee.

now i am off to bed. school in the morning!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


last night, i experienced my first sunset from an airplane, and this morning, i saw my first sunrise from an airplane. so bright and beautiful! i also had my first two meals on a plane. i'll be honest--plane food is not anywhere near the best food i've ever had. squishy chicken drowning in some brownish-red sauce, chewy mashed potatoes (which i ended up dropping on my yellow pants, leaving an orange stain), and crunchy green beans. this morning's breakfast consisted of strawberry yogurt, dried fruits (cranberries and cherries made in traverse city, michigan!), a banana muffin, and a half-frozen banana. the time was about 5.30 am, and i had just woken up. i was not in the mood for eating much, but the yogurt and fruits were good! 8.5 hour flight=tiring.

and now, after months of preparation, i am here!

unbeknownst to me before i arrived, i get my own room and my own bathroom.
while this is nice, i feel isolated. i don't know what anyone else is doing right now.

we flew into manchester at 7am this morning. we then drove straight to liverpool and got our room assignments. the dorms are set up in flats. there are 5 rooms lining a hallway in each flat, and at the end of each hallway there is a common area with a kitchen. there is a main common living area on the ground floor of the building. my bedroom window overlooks a neighborhood. i can see houses upon houses and downtown liverpool in the distance.

our professors left us this morning for their housing, so we have been on our own all morning.
first, we went to the library and got our log-in codes. we checked emails (and, i'll be honest, facebook). we then walked to this little town square and got some snacks. then we explored some more! we found this boutique called classy rags near school. there are so many funky sex and the city-esque dresses there! this shop also had so many awesome big hats and big, flowery headbands. i will not be spending my money there, though. no money for new clothes!

now, i have an hour and a half until we head down for an early dinner.

things i have observed about liverpool thus far:
-this city is dirty
-everything is very small; cars, houses, etc. there is a lot jammed into the little space there is here
-more bird feathers line the sidewalks than leaves
-christopher cox, i miss you. but also: you'd make a great grandpa here. the old men all wear button-up shirts, cardigans, and shoes that look kind of like clarks, only with thicker soles
-every english girl that i have seen wears leggings as pants and has thick, dark eyebrows
-beautiful plants everywhere! and they all grow together--poking out from underneath each other
-lots of big trees and old brick buildings
-everything is SO GREEN. even through the grey mist and fog, the colors of all of the plants are so vivid!