As the semester winds down, I find myself spending more and more time working on schoolwork and less enjoying England. But I still try to make a point to do something a little different and fun everyday. For example last Friday the 19th, I channeled my inner 40+ year old woman and headed to a craft fair in Brighton. After paying 6£ to get in the door, I realized that most of the crafts were well out of my price range anyway. I wandered around and admired the hand embroidered pillows, artfully designed suitcases, paintings of the Brighton pier, and loads of handmade jewelry. The next morning we were up bright and early to start our trip to Stonhenge and the city of Bath. As we pulled up to the Stonehenge car park (American: “parking lot”), I realized what many a visitor has realized before me: Stonehenge is really just a bunch of big rocks. I was a little surprised by the location of these big rocks though. I always imagined having to hike through a big field before coming across the marvel of the big rocks but instead Stonehenge is on a sort of grassy peninsula surrounded by streets and highway. We walked around (you’re not allowed to get up close and personal with the rock formation), snapped some pictures, and got back on the bus on our way to Bath.
Bath is a historic city in England most commonly known for the only hot spring in Britain used hundreds of years ago as ancient Roman baths. Our first stop in Bath was of course to see this site. You are no longer allowed to bathe in the hot spring and are advised not to touch it either but I decided to risk the potential warts and boils and touched the luke warm water for myself. It definitely wasn’t hot tub temperature but on a cold November day in England I sure wished I could have taken a dip. The architecture around the bath was also very stunning with pillars and Roman influence galore. After wandering around the Roman baths museum we headed to get some lunch at a local pub and for dessert picked up a Bath classic called Bath Buns. These are pretty much just very sweet bread with a large sugar cube inside and they were delicious! Our bus then took us to our hotel in Bristol which we were disappointed to find out was on the outskirts of town and too far to go explore the city. We didn’t let a night in get our spirits down of course because we all took advantage of the swimming pool and restaurant at the hotel!
The next morning (Sunday the 21st) we went back into Bath to explore the city some more. I went off on my own to see the Bath Fashion Museum. The museum was pretty small but still had a few exhibits that I found very interesting. One exhibit was called “Dress of the Year” and displayed a specially picked dress off the high fashion runway from each year since the museum opened. The coolest part about this exhibit was a display of music album covers next to the dresses that showed how the high fashion dress related in style, color, material, etc. to the popular culture of the time. The museum also had a large display of items from hundreds of years ago including ball gowns and gold-embroidered gloves. Along with these displays you could try on a corset and a crinoline to see what it felt like to be a stylish women when these items were popular. However, the best part of the whole museum was an exhibit which featured 10 of Princess Diana’s dresses. The dresses were displayed in individual cases chronologically so as you walked around the room you could see how Diana’s fashion sense and taste changed from being a teenager to becoming royalty as well as a mother to life without the royal backdrop. At the end of the exhibit, visitors were able to write their thoughts on Diana’s dresses but many of the notes ended up being written to Diana herself and it was very apparent the love the British people have for Diana is still very strong today. After visiting the museum, I did some shopping of course! Bath had a clearance version of one of my favorite stores in Brighton called Cult. I couldn’t pass on the great deals and left with some gifts and a dress for myself. Before I knew it I had to back on the bus and we were heading back to Brighton.
This week I felt like I was non-stop working on papers. Except on Thursday when we celebrated our own thanksgiving as a USAC family. As much as we were all really sad to not be with our own families on Thanksgiving, it was great to keep the tradition alive. A few people in our program I was especially thankful for because they cooked the turkey and prepared all the food which I would have had no idea how to do! I had class until 3 on Thanksgiving (first time for everything I guess) and when I came home I got to skype with my dad, siblings and his side of the family and then an hour later I got to skype with my aunt, uncle, and little cousin! It was great especially skyping my dad and siblings because I haven’t seen them since I left in September. After I had talked to my family, the feast began! We had 20-some people over at our flat and we all ate until we were stuffed! It was great to have everyone together. After dinner and dessert, a few of us headed to a club called Digital to see a DJ that my friends knew of. The club looked straight out of a movie about an underground music scene with a damp unpleasant smell, sweat seeping off the walls, and the entire coat check line hard-core rocking out while they waited. While the line up of DJs were entertainment enough, my friend Jane and I couldn’t help but find entertainment in the glow stick wielding club enthusiasts.
This weekend was dedicated to paper writing although I still don’t feel very confident in my understanding of the assignments. However, we did take some time to enjoy ourselves and headed to a pub called “The King and Queen” (a classic pub name of course) on Friday night for a few drinks and the University of Sussex student union bar where we discovered they had a life-size Jenga game with foot long blocks on Saturday night. Today, a few of us girls woke up early to head to a vintage fashion fair in town. The fair was held in a gymnasium that was wall to wall with vintage clothing and accesories. I found myself a few good deals on a 1950s-esque sweater and 2 pairs of earrings that I am very excited about! After the fashion fair, we went for lunch at a restaurant called Wagamama which serves a wide variety of delicious pan-asian inspired noodles. I had yet to try Wagamama and I definitely hope I can stop back at least once before I head home! Following lunch, Jane and I were still in a shopping mood (I’m kind of always in a shopping mood!) so we wandered around the north lanes looking for more vintage shops and I hit the jack pot when I found a oversized wool cable knit sweater on a super discount! After a successful morning/afternoon of shopping and eating, we headed back to our mounds of homework we had left to finish.
Things I’m loving: Seeing more and more of the UK, Booking my flight to Ireland for post-semester travels, My first full English breakfast since I’ve been here at the Bristol hotel, Princess Diana’s wardrobe, Celebrating Thanksgiving even 1,000’s of miles from home, Wagamama, Finding a wide variety of vintage clothing and accessories,
Things I’m not quite loving: The daunting task of several papers and a test and not being able to fully enjoy my last few weeks because of it, Knowing that in less than 2 weeks I’ll be leaving Brighton for good,
Things I’m learning: I may not enjoy traveling on my own but I do enjoy taking a few hours to do my own thing when I am traveling, All about the start of social work in the UK,
This week I will be continuing my pattern of doing loads of homework but there are still quite a few places I want to go to before I leave Brighton for good. On my list is the ice skating rink, the well-known graffiti painting by Banksy of 2 police officers kissing, heading to a few clubs that I’ve heard great things about, seeing the inside of the Palace Pavilion, getting a bit of christmas shopping done, and so much more. Plus this weekend we are taking a trip to Oxford and Stratford-Upon-Avon (Shakepeares hometown). It is gonna be a busy week so hopefully I can stay productive, get everything accomplished, and have some fun this last week.
Peace, Love, Fashion and Homework.
All the ladies at our Thanksgiving celebration (Including some first Thanksgiving girls from England and Denmark!)