The Study Abroad Kelly Comics Wednesday, Feb 24 2010 

Even though I was half a world away, I continued to draw my weekly comic strips for my home university newspaper.  Instead of focusing on my normal life, these comics detailed my encounters on foreign trips with my character, Kelly, getting in more trouble than I typically ever did.

** If you wish to read ALL the “Kelly” comics then check out the KL Comics site at **

British Style Pub Quiz Time! Wednesday, Feb 24 2010 

Try your luck at a British style pub quiz.  Answers are posted below.

1)     What is ‘chin wagging’?

2)     When would you ask ‘are you alright’?

3)     Who is the new Dr. Who?

4)     What British TV show is Simon Cowell bringing to the US next?

5)     Name the items in a full English breakfast:

6)     Name the capitals of England, Scotland, and Ireland:

7)     Give the British term for hooking up:

8)     Name all six Jane Austen novels:

9)     Who is the current Prime Minister?

10)   How many years does it take to earn a degree at uni?

11)   Queen Elizabeth II is from what royal family?

12)    Where are the English and Scottish crown jewels stored?

13)    Modes of transportation there not as predominate in the US?

14)    The national sport of the UK:

15)    What sport do the girls play most often?

16)    Brits drive ___ type of cars on the ___ side of the road.

17)   Currently $1 equals how many British pounds?

18)    A resume is called a ___ and is different since it asks for ___.

19)   What is the British national anthem?

20)   Which two Brits are on their paper currency?

21)    What do they say instead of ‘expired’?

22)    What is the term for bathroom?

23)    When a bobby yells at you, who is he?

24)    Which is cheaper in the UK, Indian or Chinese cuisine?

25)     What is black pudding?

26)     Where would one find a lorrie?

27)     What condiment is in every sandwich?

28)     What are some unusual ingredients found in jacket potatoes?

29)     Which museum in London holds the Rosetta Stone?

30)     What did the Romans believe caused the hot springs in Bath?

31)     What do Brits mean when they are ‘pissed’?

32)     A statue of which monarch is located in nearly every English city:

33)    In what club and on what street were the Beatles discovered by Brian Epstein?

34)    Manchester is the home of what first in England?

35)    At what uni did I attend?

Quiz Answers:

1)  to have a gossip or a chat

2) as a greeting to mean “how are you doing?”

3) Matt Smith

4) The X-Factor

5) eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, toast, beans in tomato sauce, mushrooms, tomato, black pudding, and coffee or tea

6) London, Edinburgh, and Dublin, respectively

7) to pull

8) Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion

9) Gordon Brown

10) three

11) Windsor

12) Tower of London and Edinburgh Castle

13) national trains and double decker buses

14) football

15) netball (similar to basketball but played in skirts and with more limited movement)

16) they drive manual cars with the driver’s side on the right as they drive on the left side of the road

17) $1 currently equals 0.65 GBP or 65 pence

18) CV and asks for applicants to list their personal interests like drawing or cricket

19) there is no official national anthem but “God Save the Queen” is played at most functions

20) Queen Elizabeth II and Charles Darwin (I was told by them that the Brits value evolution more than God)

21) gone off

22) the loo

23) a policeman

24) Indian cuisine because all Chinese food is sold separately so a chicken dish is 4 pounds then rice is an additional 2 pounds

25) blood sausage, which is actually delicious

26) on the road going down a round about or sitting in a car park since it is a big truck

27) mayonnaise

28) beans in tomato sauce, cheese, tuna, and several other variations

29) The British Museum

30) the goddess Minerva

31) they are well drunk

32) Queen Victoria

33) the Cavern Club on Matthews Street

34) the first railroad warehouse

35) Lancaster University

The Stone Streets of Lancaster Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

Lancaster in Lancashire, England will always be in my heart.  It was where I studied at uni and the source of most of my British cultural experiences.  I tried to go into town every week, but life was just so hectic that even in 12 weeks I did not get to see everything I wanted to in my adopted city such as the Ashton Memorial which Lord Ashton built as a memorial to his wife.  Still, I enjoyed how Lancaster was both ancient and modern.

In 1612 the Pendle Witch Trial occurred when several people from nearby Pendle Hill were hanged for allegedly casting spells on their neighbors.  The trials and hangings took place at Pendle Castle.  Pendle Castle is now used as a royal prison, but continues to offer historic ghost tours.

Now the stone streets of Lancaster are surrounded by original stone buildings as well as new businesses such as the St. Nicholas Arcades which offered a nice range of shops and restaurants like Waterstone’s for books , Wetherspoon’s for a pint and extremely filling full English breakfast, and Mark and Spencer’s for clothes and food.  Every week the town centre would be packed with tents featuring homemade goods like jewelry, food products, and fancier items like perfumes, as well as locally grown produce.  Talking to shopkeepers was an interesting way to pass the time.  At the Assembly Hall I met a seller who told me of how he drove across the US and that he worked as Pluto at the Disney Pavilion during the 1964 World’s Fair in Queens, New York.  He recalled how the president’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, sat on his lap, but I was struck by the story since both my parents were at that World’s Fair with their families.

Studying at Lancaster Uni was quite a departure from my US college since I was living with guys for the first time.  In the UK it is standard for all freshers and upper students to have their own rooms in flats where they share a kitchen with around 7 other co-ed students.  The kitchens are necessary since there are no dining halls on campus, but there are two food shops and several restaurants with choices like pizza, burgers, salads, and pasties.  Before going to uni, British students take two years of college and then do not find out if they have been accepted to uni until a few weeks before they are suppose to move in.  Do not feel to bad for them, their first year does not count, they only need to pass the year.  It only takes 3 years to earn a degree in the UK with graduate school requiring 1 year and does not take the GREs.  All of this made us American students envy the laid back Brits even as we all dragged through essays and exams.

The best part of living in and exploring Lancaster was the British friends I made.  I would not have been able to survive my first trip navigating Sainsbury’s without the help of my flat mates and exploring the nearby Morecambe and Lancaster football clubs would not have been as fun without the friends I made while studying abroad.  It is the interactions with friends that really allowed me to be immersed in the British culture and I miss all the fun we had.  If I had not made such wonderful British and other international friends I would not be certain I could write that studying abroad was the best time of my life.

Paris Je T’aime! Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

Paris truly is the city of lights and was my favourite city to visit while I was studying abroad.  Often one is bound to be disappointed when you have such high expectations for something you have wanted to do for so long, but my trip to Paris did not disappoint me, even if the frigid weather did try to knock me down a peg.  I relished in practicing my French language skills as I strolled the stone rues and was pleased that very few people were rude to us tourists, especially with me being an American.

Nearly every spot in the capital city has a view of its most iconic image, the Eiffel Tower.  This iron structure was built for the World’s Fair in 1889 so to commemorate its 120th anniversary, their were images of the ever-lasting tower through the years and subsequent World’s Fairs.  Initially, the Eiffel Tower was meant to be torn down after the expedition, but Alexandre Gustave Eiffel saved his creation by incorporating a radio signal into its design, ensuring the “eye sore” would provide functional service.  The queue for the lift to the top of the tower is often overly long so instead we bought tickets for the second level and began our long ascent to the top of the tower.  On top of the Eiffel Tower one can see the rest of Paris.  If you go near dusk you can identity landmarks like the Louvre in the daylight then spot the glowing Arc de Triomphe in the evening.  Speaking of nightly glowing, le Tour Eiffel glitters during its nightly show.  It sparkles for several minutes, then a spotlight gleams across the city when the tower’s decorative lights are in stasis.  It is a wonderful site to partake in.

Paris is full of opportunities to climb to the tops of buildings.  We hiked to the top of Montmartre in order to glimpse at Sacre Couer at night.  Since it is located higher above Paris we also had amazing views of the rest of the city.  From the top of the bell tower of Notre Dame cathedral we scanned up and down the Seine and hung out with Quasimodo’s friends, the bells and the gargoyles.  The interiors to Notre Dame were fascinating, especially the mammoth stained glass rose windows.  With such an elegant design it is easier to understand why the French mobs nearly destroyed the church during the French Revolution, although one reason was that they believed the statues of the kings of Judah to actually represent French royalty.  And while it is popular, we did not climb on top of l’Arc de Triomphe, but we did window shop down the chic boutique-lined Champs Elysees with its Christmas decorations that were ubiquitous throughout Paris the week before Christmas.

Much of our weekend in Paris was spent underground.  We used the inexpensive and efficient metro in order to travel around the vast city.  It was quite clean and much less crowded than the Underground in London.  We used the metro to travel to the Louvre and spent much time waiting beneath the glass pyramid in order to enter one of the largest museum’s in the world.  I wish that I could have better remembered the names of the exhibits we visited in the Louvre, but since we visited so many pieces of art it was hard to recall it all.  The museum was huge and did not disappoint, with the Napoleonic apartments and myriad of sculptures being the most memorable wings for me.

Et la piece de resistance!  I could not mention a trip to Paris without writing about la gastronomique.  Breakfast must include a croissant, but the flaky pastries are perfect any time, as are the chewy baguettes.  Pates and quiches are prominent on les dejeuners menus in brasseries, while coq au vin makes a delectable dinner since the portions are not tiny as what I experienced in Rome.  You do need to distinguish if you are eating sur place since the price is cheaper for take away meals, as was often the case throughout Europe.  Depending on what you chose, dessert can easily be taken outside to nibble on a bridge like crepes or meringues, but mousse au chocolate is best savored sur place since the delectable chocolate makes you weak in the knees.  I never wanted to eat any other cuisine but French after my trip to Paris, too bad it is tres cher in the US.  Still, all the magical parts of Paris added together to create the exquisite cap at the top of all the travels I took while I was studying abroad, c’etait magnifique!

Brit-Isms Tuesday, Feb 23 2010 

Since we were there for 3 months, my American friends and I compiled a list of terms we heard often from our British mates.  Here are some of the highlights.

Courtney Suggested These:

Cheers = Thank You
It’s 1/2 twelve = 12:30
Alighting = getting off a train, bus, etc.
brew = tea
Gone off = spoiled
5 pound fifty is common way to say a price, bonus that there is no sales tax
That’s well good!
For f—‘s sake
He’s proper mental! = a complete insult since it is worse than calling someone crazy
porridge = oatmeal
Fit = cute

Lauren Offered These:

-insults: knobbhead, wanker, twat
-well nice: “that sunset was well pretty”
-fancy: “do you fancy him?”
-proper: “that was a proper mountain we hiked today!”
-can’t be bothered: do not have the energy to undertake the task
-i’m not bothered: “we can go at 7 or 8:00, I’m not bothered”
-can’t be asked: see can’t be bothered
– he was a state: really drunk
-ace, class, brilliant, mint: to say something is good
-to kiss: to pull (“did you pull last night?”), get off with, snog
-sex: shag

My Favourites:

“Are you alright?” is frequently used as a greeting instead of the American “what’s up?”

Kelsey is a name that is never heard in England, despite BBC replaying Frasier

The girls are much girlier, they dress up for class and wear the shortest skirts and highest platform heels at night.  They also are not often seen at football matches, but do participate in sports like netball (basketball played in tennis skirts).

The lads are often jokesters but more gentlemanly on the dance floor.  They do not grab you to start grinding as soon as you walk in the club as is often the case in the US.

You end texts or emails with Xs as a term of endearment.  Often used for flirting, the more Xs you see the more the person likes you.

The Manchester Christmas Market Saturday, Feb 6 2010 

I returned to the English city I would arrive in and depart from for a second proper visit in time for the Manchester Christmas Market.  We enjoyed the commemorative hot chocolate mugs that you could either purchase completely or return after you drank from it in order to get part of the price back.  In the German section of the market there were several types of sausage that we shared and sampled, but once again we were patrons of Sinclair’s Oyster Bar.  Even through the cold and the rain of December, we found the surprise of an Abraham Lincoln statue smack in the centre of Manchester.  The explanatory plaque told of the US president’s importance in bringing the raw cotton shipments back to Manchester where it would be spun into textiles during the US Civil War.  This encounter was an unexpected reminder of home and was on our minds as our time in England was quickly drawing to a close.

Art in Birmingham Saturday, Feb 6 2010 

I apologize for not knowing the names to all the works of art in these photos, but they were difficult to research after the fact.  Instead I will remain struck by the images since a picture is worth a thousand words.

The entire city of Birmingham was decorated for Christmas and was drawing tourists to its annual German Christmas Market.  These stands line blocks and blocks in the city and include homemade goodies with foods like sausage, marzipan, donuts, and chocolates, as well as crafts like wooden toys, glass jewelry, and purses.  The smells and the crowds are intimidating but they are very enjoyable.

Alas, it was too cold to spend too much time outside browsing the house-shaped stands, therefore it was time to explore the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery.  Inside the gorgeous Chamberlain Square clock tower is a grand collection of stained glass walls, paintings, important documents, and interactive exhibits.  We did not have time to view all of the collections, but it was still a fun free activity.  Another that fits in that category was St. Philips’ Church of England with its own brightly colored stained glass windows, tiled floors, and floor-level pipe organ.  Being one the last church I visited in England, St. Philips reminded me of how my goal of visiting the grand castles of England was replaced with my discovering churches of all imaginings.  They were just as historical and often more majestic than castles, ensuring I was not disappointed.

London Calling Friday, Jan 29 2010 

London truly is one of the most expensive cities in the world (one way on the tube costs about 6 American dollars!) but it really is a special place.  Chock full of high end stores on Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus, luxury restaurants, and the Strand’s entertaining theaters you really can spend a pound or two in the Capital.  However, there are many free or inexpensive treats to be had.  We were able to attend a decadent high tea (complete with scones, sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and petite fours) and visit the ancient Tower of London with two-for-one coupons because we took the train in.  Free museums included the Victoria and Albert with its eclectic collection of prehistoric Eastern art up to post-modern fashion designs and the British Museum with the Rosetta Stone and European paintings.  Of course, no trip to London is complete without visiting Big Ben (actually the name of the bell, not the tower) and Westminster Abbey, an ornate royal spot filled with the memorials to past monarchs and the location of all coronations, if you cannot make it to the palaces.  The weather may not always be agreeable, but you can just pop in a shop for some new wellies and plan to visit the parks another day.  Life in London is never dull, the lights glow as you return from the pub and if you are on the Thames you may even see the London Eye lit up!

When in Rome Thursday, Jan 21 2010 

Being in bella Roma is like being in a different world, nearly tropical with its palm trees and blue skies.  It also has the distinction of being a city which also contains another country within its borders.  Vatican City is the residence of hundreds of people who are governed by the Pope and are guarded by the Swiss Army along with an elevated wall.  The Vatican museum is the second largest in the world and contains countless works of art, many of the pagan statues were stolen from the Colosseum during the fall of the Roman Empire.  St. Peter’s is the largest church in the world, with glorious, high-reaching domes.  Of course, the piece de resistance of the Vatican is the Sistine Chapel.  Due to a contract with the industrial cleaners, photographs cannot be taken in the chapel for over a century.  You can nearly fall over backwards from taking in Michelangelo’s ceiling, but you can rest your neck by viewing his equally impressive wall frescoes.  The poor painter was forced into painting the chapel by the pope and suffered for his labors, but the results were spectacular.

The other reasons to visit Rome are to sample the ruins and food.  The marble and terra cotta remains of the Roman Empire are amazing considering they how intact they are after so many centuries.  The Colosseum was originally billed as an amphitheater, but because of the intimidating statue of Colossus out front, the name was forever changed.  The interior still resembles an American football stadium with its hollowed passageways and ascending staircases to the outside field.  Back in Rome’ golden age the public could enter with a free terra cotta tablet as their ticket to view animals and gladiator slaves fight each other.  While its impressive to walk in the Colosseum, it is hard to imagine it adorned with marble statues and a canopy since its ruined state is so iconic.  It is easier to picture the Roman Forum in its glory days as a political center of the capital.  Most of the arches and temple columns remain intact and are gigantic structures.  Even away from the ruins, the Fountain of Trevi and the Partheon are reminders of the

For food, the Italians are masters, everything tastes scrumptious, and its homemade taste makes it worth the wait.  We sampled bread, bruschetta, soothing wine, several pastas, pizzas, seafood, and the best dessert in the world, gelato.  For a small price you are given three different, delicious creamy flavors of gelato, the perfect way to end a wonderful trip.

Statuesque Stonehenge Wednesday, Jan 20 2010 

It really is true as one of my friends remarked, Stonehenge really is just a pile of rocks, however it still is a remarkable place to visit if you can.  The best way to see Stonehenge is to get a bus tour from nearby Salisbury since there really are no cities directly next to the monument.  This mammoth structure is a testament to humanity’s physical and mental strength.  The educational audio tour told how 5000 years ago the center blue stones were laid on the ground and that centuries later the 18-foot standing stones followed.  Historians believed they came from Ireland by boat on the canal with no clear answer for why, although some myths attributed it being built by the devil or King Arthur’s Merlin.  When Stonehenge was first opened as a historic site visitors were allowed to bring chisels in order to extract souvenirs.  Now in order to protect its historical value, a short fence surrounds the monument ensuring visitors do not touch the stones.

Next Page »