Thursday, August 23, 2012

On Leaving This Place

This is how I felt two weeks ago:

I feel like I'm being torn apart, just ripped down the middle by two opposing inevitable forces.  I miss home.  I miss the people there.  I miss Utah and the mountains.  So, I'm excited to go back.  I'm glad my program is only two months, not four months like some of the other study abroad programs. That would be hard.

But that being said, I dread leaving.  I don't want to go.  I don't want to leave this place.  It's been a wonderful adventure and the most amazing summer of my life.  I love being here in Europe, in England, in Cambridge.  This place is charming and filled with so many interesting people and such rich history.  I love exploring and discovering new favorite places.  There still so much I want to do here.  I'm going to miss the opportunities, the excitement, and the people.  I'll miss the Sainsbury chocolate runs and the amazing waffles in the servery.  I'll miss my cute little flat and our late night olympic parties.  I'll miss studying, living, and learning in old, aesthetically pleasing places.  I'll miss the English countryside, the gardens and the Cam.  

It scares me that this opportunity is coming to an end.  This has been my dream for so long.  For the past three and half years, I've had this as the long-term goal in the back of my mind.  I always knew that eventually, I would do the Cambridge PKP Summer Programme.  And now that it's over, I don't know what's next.  I don't have any plans beyond this.  Of course there's graduation and graduate school but that's still a fuzzy, distant haze down the road.  

This is how I felt one week ago: 

I've come to the realization that I don't have to be sad about leaving.  I don't have to make myself depressed.  I don't have to start missing things even before I've left. I don't want to spend my last week looking with longing at everything as I see it for the last time.  I don't have to be unhappy about leaving.  Yes, Cambridge is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I'll never be in the same position that I am now, but it's been an amazing experience and its okay that it's ending.  I have tons of memories and thousands of pictures to remember it by. I've lived life and I've lived it to the fullest.  

I've had my dream.  Now it's time to find a new dream.  

This is how I'm feeling right now:

Well, I guess its a combination of the two extremes.  I'm really excited that in approximately 48 hours I'll be reunited with the people and places that I love.  But, its weird that I'm leaving.  I don't think it's fully hit me how much I'll miss it here and how hard the transition will be (and I'm not just talking about jetlag).  The places and faces I've seen every day will be gone and I'll have to start over.

I still worry about what's next.  I don't like not having a long term plan.  I don't like not knowing where I'm going.  I feel like I'm stepping out into the void.  The pavement ends here.  And soon I'll be stuck in the liminal space between point A and I-don't-know-what.  

I guess there's nothing I can really do about it right now though.  I just hope that my hopes are realized.  I hope that whatever happens, I'll be ok.  I hope I can find my next path.  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Life on the Fitz

I have absolutely loved living at 23 Fitzwilliam Street.

This is the museum I pass every day on my way to class.  It has an amazing collection inside.

And this is my flat!  Don't you just love the blue door?

And I live next door to where Charles Darwin lived when he studied here.  How crazy is that?

If I weren't leaving in 3 days, I would tell you to write me a letter, because...

I have a letter slot!

The hallway (exciting, I know).

Our tiny cellar kitchen where we have the occasional cheese and cracker (and chocolate) parties. 

This is the view from my window.  Oh Cambridge, I will miss you.

Our backyard patio.

I have a wardrobe!  Unfortunately, no Narnia though.

My bed (notice the filled in fireplace.  I love how old everything is here).

So, that's where I've been spending a good amount of my time the last few months.  I'm going to really miss my flatmates and living in such a historic place.  

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Weekend in Paris!

A few weeks ago, between modules (terms, if you will) my friends and I went to Paris!  We took the chunnel from London to France which wasn't as exciting as I thought it would be, but it was good.  We got there super late (1:30 am) and took a cab to our hotel.  As we rode through the dark, busy streets of Paris, we had our first adventure.  The cab turned a corner and suddenly, rising out of the dark was Notre Dame!  It was thrilling watching it loom above us as we sped by.  It was our first "Ahhh! We're in Paris!" moment.  Not two minutes later we witnessed a vespa get hit by a car.  We were sure than the man and woman thrown to the ground were dead, but they got up and started cursing at the driver in French.  So, I guess they were ok.  It was quite the contrast between the elation of Notre Dame and the shock of the accident. After an exciting cab ride, we finally made it to our weekend home.

We stayed in an apartment in the 14th Montparnasse area of Paris.  Beautiful, isn't it?

I loved the fancy decorations and big windows.  

Doesn't my hat just seem to belong there?

Each morning, we stopped at this lovely little bakery around the corner from our place.  The fresh bread was SO GOOD!  Seriously, it was one of the best things I've had in Europe.  

The first morning we went to the Louvre!  (pay no attention to the fact that my camera's panoramic function cut the lady in the foreground in half, ha ha).  

It was so crowded!  I guess that's what we get for going on a Saturday.  

I got to see my favorite statue!  This is the breathtaking Winged Nike of Samothrace.

There was quite the crowd around Mona Lisa.

Our first sighting of the Eiffel Tower out the window of the Louvre.  This is when we knew we were in Paris!

The museum is huge.  We only go through a fraction of it in 4 hours.  I would have spent more time there, but I was ok with leaving since I got to see the pieces I was most excited about.  As we left, we stopped at Laduree for some macaroons.  They were heavenly!  Seriously, we need to find a way to get these stateside.  

Next we went to the Eiffel Tower!

My camera died on the way to the top (yaaaay), and I have yet to get some of my friends pictures, but this was taken from halfway up.

It was so magical riding up the elevator, watching the ground get smaller beneath me.  It was exhilarating thinking "I'm actually in Paris, going to the top of the eiffel tower."  I loved knowing that so many people throughout the years had the same experience I was having now.  

That night we went on boat tour of the city after the sun had set.  I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Paris light up as we floated down the Seine.  

The next morning we went to church.  I could have gotten a headset, so I kind of wanted to hear it all in Paris.  I didn't understand much of anything, but enjoyed singing (well, trying to sing) the hymns in French.  

That afternoon, after getting lost a bit, we made it to Versailles.  

The flowers in the gardens were so beautiful!

Sydney and I in a classic jumping picture.

I couldn't help it. 

Fountains in one of the secluded gardens.  Unfortunately, we couldn't figure out the story behind the guy in the middle.  All the signs were in French.  

Poseidon's chariot rising out of the pond.

My unintentional, but rather nice, impressionist shot of the gardens.

The Shakespeare and Company bookstore, right across from Notre Dame, was my favorite place in Paris.  It was bursting at the seams with books.  The upstairs is a library where you can sit and read a while.  They even have a piano for you to play on.  I wish I could have taken photos to show you.  It was just so peaceful sitting there and taking a moment to think.  

While browsing the shelves, I found a book titled "That Summer in Paris."  As I leafed through it I found half a dozen notes left within the pages and decided to leave my own memory of my summer in Paris.  

That night we decided to go to a nice, sit down restaurant.  Doesn't the guy across the way look like Maurice from Beauty and the Beast? 

After being quite indecisive with the menu, I finally settled on getting apple-cheese fondue.  It was so good!  Mm...I can still taste it.

After stuffing ourselves, we stopped by l'Arc de Triomphe on the way home.

The street looked so magical shimmering with the new fallen rain.

In France, it's not Brave, its Rebel!

And of course, we had to stop for gelato.  The waiter was so great, I just had to get a picture of him.  We amused him and he amused us.  I'll admit that French gelato doesn't come with Italian gelato, but it was still worth having.

On our last day in Paris, we went to Notre Dame!  I had just barely finished my Gothic Architecture class and thoroughly enjoyed analyzing the building.  Sydney was nice enough to be my student and let me tell her about the buildings features.

The rose windows were exquisite.  Pictures can't compare.  I'm glad we went in the morning when there's the best lighting.

View from the ambulatory looking into the choir stalls.


And we even went to the top!  It was quite a long wait, but worth it.  

One of the several love lock bridges.

Sacré-Cœur, a neo-romanesque basilica.  It was nice, but I liked Notre Dame better. I guess I'm partial to gothic.

There was this amazing art market behind it!  Someday I'm going to come back and get my portrait drawn.

We ended our weekend with one last visit to the Eiffel Tower.  Paris, you really have been great.
Au revoir!