Wednesday, April 27, 2011
I spent the last five days of spring break in Germany with my relatives—my grandpa’s sisters and their family. Most of them I had never met before, but everyone was amazingly kind, I was bowled over by their generosity. Saw Bergen Belsen and a castley place, did a lot of biking, and walked around Hamburg, it was pretty great. Hamburg reminds me a little bit of Vancouver—it looks more modern than old because so much of it was destroyed when the British bombed it during the war, and it’s right on the water and there are plenty of green places. So many things about those four days reminded me of home, and of my grandparents and the German side of my family and of the place I worked last year... So similar, but so far away; so much the same, but not.
And staying in someone’s house is a massively different type of travelling than backpacking is, let me tell you. Lots of stories to tell about that, but I’ll save them for real life.... :P I spent the last night in the airport (neglected to mention that detail of the plan to the German relatives, because I knew they would flip, but I think they found out anyway haha. nonetheless, so long, Manchester Airport! My days of sleeping in your Terminal 2 are over forever!) and took the train to Carnforth the next morning. Showers and proper beds and clean clothes are wonderful, wonderful things. Never forget that, people.
It’s been over a week now and we’re 1/7 through spring school. A little less than half of the people here were at winter school and a little more than half of them are new and it’s the oddest dynamic, for both sides. I don’t envy the spring school people who have to come into a place where half the school already knows each other and already has their established friendships, but at the same time, we all miss people from winter school and so much is different and I don’t know, it’s just weird. I think a lot of people are kind of subconsciously avoiding the effort it takes to get to know new people and sticking with their old friend groups, just because eight weeks is so short and leaving everyone at winter school was hard and you can’t help feeling a bit of “the more people I become friends with, the more it will hurt to leave again.” And leaving IS going to hurt, it’s going to hurt a lot. I didn’t expect this to be very different than the last six months were but it is, not worse, just odd.
aaanyway. Apart from psychological phenomenons such as the above and that kind of thing, spring school has been a blast so far. It’s been gorgeous weather, I am in the Lower Tower with two lovely roommates, everything is super chill because there are hardly any assignments, and we’re in the midst of some brilliant lectures this week by Derek Burnside on the life of Solomon (today was Song of Solomon, oh was that interesting...haha. It was, though! Ever heard it as a love story between a country girl and her man, with Solomon and his promiscuity as the villain? nope, neither had I.)
June feels like ages away, but it’s only seven weeks until I’m home and this adventure is over...
Monday, April 4, 2011
nothing is as great as you've imagined. Venice is--Venice is better." --Fran Lebowitz
I haven't seen much of it so far so I can't agree or disagree with that yet, but we are finally in Venezia! after a ten-hour journey from Florence. Which should not have happened but apperently we bought tickets for a four-in-the-morning train that does not exist. Five different trains and much stress later, here we are; I will spare you the details.
So now we're at our hostel. Craziest place I've stayed at yet. Everyone is super friendly and the place is run so casually that all I can do is laugh. The rooms are lit by chandeliers but the floor is made of crumbling cement and the paint is coming off the walls. The staff are determined to memorise everyone's names, the girl in the bed next to mine has been living here for next to forever, there are only two showers for the entire hostel, and apparently the staff takes whoever wants to out at night to experience Venice's nightlife. I learned this from a girl I met in Rome who stayed here, who told elabourate stories involving drunkeness and falling into canals (somehow I do not find this tempting).
I'm sitting on the balcony overlooking the canal right now and a mad thunderstorm is going on outside. In between typing this I'm talking to a girl from Hong Kong, with a bunch of people swapping travel stories in the room behind me, and wind blowing through the wide open doors but nobody cares.
I think I like this place :)