The definition of bittersweet

A journey through the past 3.5 months. Hover over the pictures for captions and click if the words are cut off. This is all chronological, and it’s funny how closely everything followed the culture shock curve that they prepared us for. Venice feels like a lifetime ago because we were so new to this whole travel thing. I hadn’t yet become friends with the people in some of the early pictures, and now we’re all so close! Geneva and Milan feel like completely separate experiences from the rest of this trip because I got to experience such local, normal life with Polly and Rebecca’s families, but I was so homesick for London by the end of that week. I remember laughing aloud with joy when I landed in Heathrow–I wanted to hug my border agent. (I thought better of it.) Kara came 2 days later (and I cried with joy) and we had so much fun. I know we’ll be talking about Paris for years. That was right in the middle of the program, and landing in London was such a different experience. I was exhausted, and I wanted to be on Kara’s plane right back to the US so badly. After going from Venice to Scotland to Geneva to Milan to Paris, I pledged I would never travel again. [One week later I rescinded my rash pledge and booked flights to Ireland.] A week after that, I was over the rougher patch of the culture shock curve and fully embracing the “integration into host country” stage. I was a Londoner! It was perfect timing to act as a tour guide for my parents’ arrival. One month later, here I am…getting all reflective and sad…but can I just say, in light of ALL THE NEWS this week: HOME OF THE BRAVE, I love you. See you in a day!

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Wondering where I’ve been? Finals! That’s where I’ve been.

I turned in my last paper yesterday afternoon and now….all that’s left…..are a couple of days to enjoy the suddenly lovely weather….

Cue the emotions! And the end-of-semester-oh-my-gosh-I-just-studied-abroad-and-now-it’s-over blog post*!!

*Coming soon.

Dublin

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Take it in, take it in. Is that not the most beautiful library you’ve ever seen?! If it isn’t–let me know, I’m going to go get myself to whichever library you think can beat this. Definitely a Dublin highlight. That’s the Long Room at the Trinity College Library and definitely one of the major highlights of the weekend. I have seen pictures of this library allllll over the internet, and it was weird and wonderful to finally see it with my own two eyes.

We stayed in Dublin for 3 nights, took day trips out of the city on Friday and Saturday, and left Sunday for exploring Dublin more thoroughly. By the time Sunday came around, we realized we had actually seen most of the city! It was small and walkable, which left us plenty of time to relax in one of the parks (St. Stephen’s Green), order Orange and Coconut tea in a cozy hidden coffeeshop, and wander around high-end shopping malls looking a bit too haggard in a to fit in.

Wondering about the haggardness? Just the standard look after 3 nights in a hostel bunk and after living on pb&j alone for something like six straight meals…..maybe fewer because we totally caved on Saturday night and went for burgers…….

The hostel thing is interesting. I know that screaming/vomiting/half naked/costume-wearing spring breakers throwing an end-of-term party in the hostel (legitimately throwing a party in the hallways) until their departure at 6 am¬†should¬†have be really annoying, but I was so entertained that I was kind of okay with it. And while sharing a room with 14 other girls could have been disastrous, but we got to meet people from all over the world and hear everyone’s stories. I can deal with that for 3 nights. Probably only 3 nights, but still. It’s a necessary experience.

Scenes from Dublin are below:

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IMG_2938(This one’s for you, Aidan!)

IMG_2864I like this one because it shows that the sidewalks were actually decently populated, which I feel like I haven’t seen in a few other cities.

 

 

Project Lede Update!

I would preface this in some way, but the news is too exciting not to share it right up front:

Project Lede WON in our category of the Harvard i3 Innovation Challenge!

This means a lot of things, but mostly it means that we are receiving (a lot of) money from Harvard that will help us make this summer (and beyond) GREAT! The funding also makes expanding the project a much more attainable reality, and we can now plan for the long term with a higher level of certainty than before. Jackie and I had no idea that we could win this thing, and we are so excited and so grateful for this new development.

Thank you everyone for sharing that link. We have received a LOT of support, and it has been such a wonderful and unexpected thing to be getting tips and encouragement from the many people who have heard of our project in the past few weeks/months.

I told Jackie that I was going to have trouble controlling the exclamation points in this post, but I just can’t do it anymore. This is how I feel about all of this:

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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!!!!!!!!!!

I should also add that the University of Delaware is giving us a pretty solid amount of funding as well. Gotta give my Blue Hens some due credit.

Ireland

Ireland is beautiful.

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Above and below: The Cliffs of Moher, Ireland’s west coast

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Above and below: The Burren, a HUGE stretch of hills and coastline entirely covered in rock. It’s all in very cool formations thanks to some epic glacier action back in the early times.

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Above and the rest of the photos below: Wicklow, south of Dublin.

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Ok anyone with eyes should see that the sunlight is hitting everything in these pictures in a beyond perfect way…and after not seeing sun for ~3 months…you can understand the general awe/wonderment of this whole trip.

I’ll post about Dublin and the rest of the trip in a later post. It just didn’t seem right to combine these pictures with pictures of city livin’ and tales from a wild hostel, you know?!

 

Happy Easter!

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Happy belated Easter! That’s Anni (whose lovely blog you can read here: http://www.xodiaries.com/)¬†and I, smiling at the Easter brunch we shared with a few other Ealing friends. If I look tired, it’s because I was! Clocks changed that morning and let’s just say it was¬†rough,¬†especially because I had a busy weekend.¬†We actually intended to get to the 10:30 am mass (which isn’t even that early), but popular consensus shifted to 12:15 mass instead, so I crawled back into bed and had a delightful slumber until approximately noon. What a treat. And yes I see that my hair is whack.

London gave us the best Easter surprise ever–a¬†hint¬†of spring. To be honest, it is still absolutely freezing. But lately, it’s been just a bit sunnier and some of the trees are beginning to bloom. Prospects of spring may have seemed so promising today because we went to Hampstead Heath, which is a huge park about 30 minutes away by Tube. We planned to go there for what is supposed to be one of the best views of London, but we never came across the exact hill that is supposed to offer the famous view. We did come across a similar and still pretty amazing view of the London skyline, but the real highlight was discovering the woodsy trails and hidden ponds throughout the park. The trails were full of families and dog walkers taking advantage of the day off (today’s an official bank holiday) and the nice weather. It was the perfect way to end a tiring weekend and to recharge before a busy week!

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Mum and Dad in London

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My parents just visited! It was great. They were here for 4 full days and it was definitely one of those time-warp situations where I felt like I never left but also like I’ve been living in London forrreevvveeerrr.¬†The picture above is from the tail end of the changing of the guard, which we happened to catch during the “Royal Walking Tour” I gave them on the day they arrived.

Other than the horrible weather (I’m sure my mom can offer a dramatic retelling of the rain/wind/snow situation for anyone who’s interested), we had a great time! We¬†went to the V&A, the British Museum, the British Library, walked through Hyde Park, went to Harrods, saw the Magna Carta, did some quality people watching, watched the Kardashians………etc. It was kind of like parents weekend at UD, but instead of going apple picking and cramming into overcrowded Main St. bagel shops (I’m talking to you, Newark Deli and Bagel), we went crepe-hunting and crammed into overcrowded museums. But I loved every minute of it! Also, special shout-out to the dark chocolate and pear crepe we had in South Kensington, and honorable mention goes to the entire vegetable garden that came with our hummus at a Lebanese place by the flat. And who knew that the Easter bunny makes early house calls in extreme situations, i.e. when one’s child will be abroad over Easter?! So that was just superb.

Maybe my dad will send me some pictures of what we saw/did so I can put them on my blog? (Hint Hint!)

In other news, I just have to share that last night on the tube I sat next to someone who was reading the same book as me! Do you even know how long I have waited for that to happen? Since childhood. It’s actually one of the reasons I don’t like eBooks…you can’t see what everyone’s reading! What if you are secretly book twins?! Anyways, we were both reading Eat, Pray, Love, and she was surprised that I was reading it at my age. I told her I was able to appreciate it because I’m travelling, but she probably didn’t realize that she happened to be talking to a 45 year-old in a teenager’s body.

(Also, a few stops after she got off the tube, the grown man sitting across from me had a legitimate giggle attack and it was hilarious. He got a few other people on the tube laughing, including myself, but no one ever asked what he was laughing at…we were all kind of sitting there cracking up to ourselves. In fact, I’m laughing now just writing about it. Just thought you all should know that the silent London tubes are not necessarily boring¬†London tubes.)