So, it's been almost two years since I left for the UK and over a year since I got back to California. My last year has been an interesting mix of getting re-accustomed to life in Davis and getting ready to say goodbye to it.
I've graduated from uni and am now looking for a job. I have to make use of my degree in Cell Biology. Yay for life after college.
I am definitely planning to go back to the UK at some point. Maybe doing a postgrad there would be nice. And if I don't get the chance to do that, visiting will still be in order.
In other news, I have a friend who's studying abroad in Berlin this year. She's keeping a blog, and it has some really cool entries already. If you'd like to know more about studying abroad or about Berlin and Germany, check it out: Eine Amerikanerin in Berlin.
Also, I've had quite a few people who've read my blog ask me about St Andrews, the UK, studying abroad etc. and I've replied to each of them. So, if you have any questions about those topics, don't hesitate to write. I'd love to answer your questions.
Every year, the Education Abroad Center (EAC) at UC Davis has a photo competition. Students get to submit photos they've taken during the past year on their year abroad and the people whose pictures are picked as the top in each category win some really cool prizes.
I want to win this contest, but I need YOUR help to do it.
Click on the following pictures to vote for each:
(you will have to register to vote, but it'll be quick.
You can and should vote for both pictures)
Thank you so much for your help! :)
UPDATE: I won second place in the People and Culture section of the Photo Contest with the picture of Raisin Monday!
Thanks to those who voted!
So, I feel like writing another blog post.
I'm not in St Andrews anymore, but I still feel very connected to the place and the people. I find myself wishing I was back there and I keep comparing everything in Davis to St Andrews. I like being back in Davis, but when the memories of my time in St Andrews come back to me, I am reminded of how lucky I am to have had the chance to spend a whole year there, without disrupting the progress of my degree.
Yes, it just so happens that I found out that all the classes I took in St Andrews have transferred well (to UC Davis) and will all count towards my degree! No extra work needed. I am glad about that, because I did a lot of research and spent countless hours looking at class descriptions and meeting with advisers beforehand. Planning ahead really does pay off!
The first class I had after getting back to Davis was a GE (General Education) class on Food, Folklore and Health. This class is 500 strong and even though I'd had many classes in the large SciLec123 Lecture Hall in Davis, It felt very strange to sit there amongst soooooo many people after having class sizes of 13 to 30 people in St Andrews. It was a bit of a shock. I also realised that I knew almost no-one in there :(.
One of my biology classes is taught by a British professor! This made me happy, it reminds me of St. A's.
All in all, being back is bittersweet. Davis is not as old as St A's and it doesn't have all those cool traditions (the Aggie Pack makes up for some of that), but the classes are easier, and I'm closer to home.
With that, I'm going to carry on with my Physics HW.
Swish, Tap, Fwoop! The wand has been waved and the magic curtain has fallen over the stage. The Act (number of which I have not decided yet) is now over. I'm back in California again. Things aren't as great or as magical and nothing seems to have changed much. On the other hand, a lot seems to have happened while I was away, a lot that I hadn't heard about even through the highways and airways of modern technology, some good, some bad.
I am happy to be back, to see family and old friends again and see old sights,
I'm back in London now and counting down the days till I'm back in California (I almost wrote "till I'm back in St Andrews", I miss it so much).
Saying goodbye is never easy. Trying to spend last minute time with friends and packing whilst trying to say goodbye to others is even harder. Because, one, you can’t do everything at the same time, two, it's exhausting. People were leaving all though the week. Sometimes I wish that everyone just left at the same time, so I wouldn't have to worry about saying goodbye fifty times. I also wish that people could have waited until everyone's exams were over before they left.
The last couple of days in St Andrews were crowned with beautiful weather; temperature in the 20s (Celcius) and sunshine all around. I was feeling quite hot and had to keep reminding myself I was still in Scotland.
I had loads of packing to do. Trying to fit your life into two suitcases is never easy. I had to give away a lot of my stuff. I knew I should have been more careful about buying stuff. Thing is, I actually used most of what I bought; I just wish there was space for me to bring it all back.
I took my last walk into town on Thursday. It was hot. I stopped by the St Andrews
Exams are on. My last one is on Tuesday (ie tomorrow). Well, what am I doing here then, you ask? Why, procrastinating, of course!
While I'm on revision break, I thought I'd let you know how my wee trip went.
I travelled with three of my friends around part of Scotland and we went to Stonehaven, Aberdeen and Inverness. We had sorted ourselves an itinerary, and had originally planned to visit approximately 6-7 castles. Well, Jane left the itinerary in her room and our adventures began from there!
We got to Stonehaven station properly, and then from there we had to walk to Dunnottar Castle which was on the coast about two miles away from the town. When we were almost at the end of our hike, it started to rain. Rain while walking on a windy cliff is not a good thing and its even worse when the rain is cold and feels like it's slapping you. That only lasted a few minutes, thankfully. The castle ruins were nice and it was sunny while we walked around in there. We spent three hours there instead of our scheduled two (and that's not including the time it took to walk there). We had lunch at a cute little restaurant by the beach and then set off for Aberdeen.
Inverness, I have to say, is the most beautiful city I've seen so far. Maybe it's just because the weather was so good while we were there, but the scenery was breathtaking! One day, when I have enough money, I think I want to get myself a summer home in Inverness. We had our "lunch" on the castle grounds at half five. We sat on a bench overlooking the Rive Ness and shared our meal with a seagull. We named him "Alfredo". The Inverness castle is currently used as a courthouse and for some other government purposes, so we didn't get to see the inside. But the outside is lovely.
We spent the rest of the evening walking along the banks of the River and enjoyed the beauty of nature all around us. We ended the evening in a pub in town where there was live folk music playing.
The next day we set off for Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle on a tour bus and cruise. We got a 30 min cruise down the Loch and got off at Urquhart Castle. We walked around those ruins a while, saw a short film about its history at the visitor centre and went back to Inverness by the bus. It was beautiful. Loch Ness was so amazing, the scenery, the air, the freshness, all lovely. It made me really happy.
We had lunch at an all you can eat Chinese buffet restaurant where we stuffed ourselves and spent the rest of the afternoon in the Inverness castle museum and later sunning ourselves on the grassy slopes below the Castle itself.
Then it was time to pack up and take the train back. The trip was a great experience and I'm glad I did it. It was teh first time I'd ever been in hostels and the also the Scottish countryside is so pretty, especially in the spring. Plus the fact that the sun doesn’t set till ten is a huge bonus. So much more time to explore!
I last left you all with a promise to tell you about my experience of the May Dip. It was great. I stayed up most of the night with a friend. I managed to sleep for two hours from 11 to 1 and then we woke up walked to this fast food place called KFB (Yes, it's KFB, not KFC). We got ourselves some food and kept awake by watching TV shows on my computer. At around 4am we got ready to go outside. We reached Castle Sands a little before 5 when dawn was breaking. There was quite a crowd and the most difficult part was actually getting onto the beach through the steps cut out form the cliff, they were crowded, sandy and slippery. We finally got down to the beach an dthen made a mad dash for the frigid North Sea! Ran in, dipped under and came out. We loved it so much that we did it again! It was cold, but not as cold as I was expecting and it was very very salty. I'd forgotten how salty the sea can be. Another friend joined us later. She didn't dip, but she brought us towels which we wrapped ourselves in before we walked back to hall. It was fun. My legs felt like pins and needles for a while when we were in the water, but it was good fun.
The semester is drawing to a close; this reminds me that my time in St Andrews is ending as well. And soon I shall have to return to California. This will be a bitter-sweet time, and when the time arrives I shall dwell on it more, but for now, I shall talk about what I have neglected to do so for a while.
This year, the procession took place on Saturday the 18th of April. I went to watch it with one of my friends and it was a lovely sight to see all these people dressed up in old fashioned clothes parading through the streets. There were princes and dukes, ladies and knights and monks as well. Tradition states that "Kate" is played by a bejant (first year male student) from the Kate Kennedy Club who rides in on a horse drawn carriage at the end of the procession. Among the characters was St Andrew (who lead the procession), Benjamin Franklin, who was awarded an honorary degree from the University, John Cleese, who served as rector and many many other characters who I didn't recognise.
The other thing is more personal. This past Saturday, I went hiking along the Fife Coastal Path and did the Chain walk, which consists of climbing through the rocky cliffs at the edge of the sea. I went with two guys form the scouts and guides club. It was great banter and we had a really good time. It was certainly very refreshing. A nice way to break out of the bubble and get a closer look at some Scottish coastal towns (Anstruther, Elie, Lower Largo). The scenery was splendid and of course it was good exercise.
I have actually had a large amount of work to do for my classes. I always wonder why I never learn and leave things till the last minute. I will hopefully be able to get everything done in time.
Tonight, or rather, early tomorrow morning, is the May Dip. It's a St Andrews tradition where students take a dip in the North Sea at the crack of dawn. I've heard that there are usually bonfires on the beach and loads of students. The May Dip is essential if you've stepped on the PH (initials of the martyr Patrick Hamilton set in the cobblestones on North Street), or if you've committed academic incest. Doing either of these things mean that you will fail your degree. The May Dip is the only way to redeem yourself.
I plan to stay up all night for this. I'll let you know how it goes sometime after I get back!