Tuesday, 7 June 2011

a glimpse of summer

So we had a glimpse of summer this past friday...I was finally able to go to the beach :) unfortunately, that feeling of summer has come and gone! The nice weather only lasted 2 days and now the weather forecast is rain, rain, rain, clouds, rain. welp, I guess we're back to normal Scottish weather. Speaking of that...

Last week we had the most awful wind storms I've seen all year. Naturally, this happened the same day myself and two friends decided to drive up to the highlands. We had a tiny little car (I swear, the smallest car Toyota makes), which we nicknamed "the blueberry" because it was bright blue and super tiny. I had the backseat, which wasn't really too bad except when the wind blew, which was all the time. It seemed like we were flying all over the road, although my friend Hannah was a great driver! Because of a fallen tree in Stirling, we had to go all over the place to get up to Inverness. We stayed in an adorable place and had an awesome dinner. However, right as we sat down for dinner, the power went out. Luckily, they had lots of candles to light and they had gas stoves so it wasn't a big deal. The ambiance was nice :) Here are a few pictures from the trip:

A quick stop at Castle Campbell on the way

Of course, it was sunny when we arrived in Nairn, the small town where we stayed...it didn't stay sunny for long. Rain poured down on us as soon as we went out for a walk.

Cawdor Castle: the castle used in Macbeth

Culloden battlefield, the site of final confrontation of the Jacobite uprising in 1745 when 1500-2000 Jacobites were killed in a very short period of time

Stone commemorating the deaths of many clan members

Urquhart Castle

Loch Ness!

Some bridges in a small town on the way home

Overall, it was a great trip and it was really nice to get away for a while. It's easy to forget how beautiful Scotland is sometimes!

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

please vote for these photos!



Incongruity My friend Matthew is a great photographer and he has submitted some of his photos to The Macallan: Masters of Photography Competition here in the UK. I'm in one of the pictures so it'd be really awesome if you could vote for it (and the others)! It only takes a few seconds. Below is a link to a blog he's set up to make things more clear:

Shameless: First and Only Post "I've created this blog with the simple purpose of shamelessly promoting myself. Well not myself as much as the five photos..."

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

For My Grandfather

So I admit, I've been awful at updating this in the past few months. As I'm sure you all can understand, life can get very very busy and you tend to become so engrossed in the big picture that you forget the small things. As with all things, though, the small things in life are the ones worth living for. I forgot how important this blog was for keeping my friends and family back home updated on my life. I'm sorry for keeping you in the dark for so long. Trust me, you didn't miss much. Just a bunch of reading, writing, hanging with friends and traveling a bit. However, what seem like small things to me are actually pretty exciting when you take a step back and these small things are all a part of making me who I am. I hear that my Grandfather has been asking when I'd update my blog. I apologize, I've been negligent. So, here it is...this one's for you, Grampy! I hope you enjoy it!

A throwback picture to nearly 5 years ago of me and Grampy!

It almost feels like I've been absent from this blog for 5 years. You know that feeling when you start exercising again and it's hard to move your muscles because they've been so inactive? That's what it feels like to come back to blogging, except my mind seems rusty. I'm so used to thinking about things in an academic sense that when I step away and come back to something more freestyle, I'm confused. I've been ruined by academia. As I sit here thinking about how to write about this semester, I'm struggling because I keep asking myself, "Where's the intro? The research question? The theoretical framework?" Ruined indeed. Perhaps for the better.

This semester has been such a whirlwind that I don't even know where to begin. Instead of attempting to describe it all to you, I'll explain it mostly in pictures.

Shortly after starting the new semester, I took a trip to Rome with a few friends. I had never been there before and it we had a great time! We also stopped off in Lyon, France on the way home. It was SO nice to be back in France. I really really missed it. Here are a few pictures from that trip:

The Trevi Fountain

Me in front of the colosseum 

Not too long after returning from Rome, I took a fieldwork trip to Bosnia and Herzegovina with my professor and the other members of my course. It was definitely a very eye-opening experience, to say the least. After 2 long layovers and 3 flights, including a small propeller plane, we arrived in snowy Sarajevo. Throughout our trip, we interview local NGOs as well as other large international and government organizations in ordet to get a feel for the current situation in post-war Bosnia. We each had our own area of study, around which we formed our questions and set up interviews. My area of study was human trafficking in post-war Bosnia and Herzegovina. To tell you the truth, BiH hasn't moved too far past the ethnic divisons that created the war in the first place. When we were there, they didn't even have a seated government because the factions couldn't agree and one part of the country was boycotting. Because of this, large human security issues such as human trafficking are often lost in the shuffle. It was a challenging, frustrating and devastatingly sad experience on the one hand, but on the other hand, there were many hopeful moments. It was an awesome trip and I learned a ton! Here are a few pictures:

A women's march in old town Sarajevo on the first Sunday of our trip

The Bosnian Parliament

A snowy night in Sarajevo!

A stop on the way to Mostar

A destroyed building hidden by flowers in Mostar, Bosnia's most divided city

Mostar Bridge: knocked down during the war and recently rebuilt

one of thousands of cemeteries in Bosnia

Since Bosnia, I have been very busy doing school work. This second half of the semester has been incredibly hectic. However, I have still been able to get away a bit. I went down to England for our spring break with a few friends and stayed in a beautiful country estate (compliments of my friend Hannah)! Here are some other pictures from this semester:

Birtles Hall, where we stayed

In front of Pemberley, the place where the BBC Pride & Prejudice was filmed :)

A quick trip to Anstruther when Maggie visited

and of course...the Royal Wedding took over St Andrews for the week...

For those of you who thought I disappeared...I did not. Life just got in the way. I may not post as often in the future but I will try to update more frequently than once every 5 months! :)

Sunday, 2 January 2011

home again home again

You all know how much I love to travel. I often say that if I could spend my life traveling, I would. However, as wonderful as it is, it can be exhausting and sometimes all you want is the comfort of your own bed. I have always loved the quote by George Moore that says:

"A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it."

As much as I want to argue against it, it's impossible to fight his argument. I can certainly attest to that. For the past few weeks, I had been traveling around Europe with my friend TJ. We are both masters students, he at LSE and myself at St Andrews, both feeling exhausted after a semester of studying, needing to get away and relax. Naturally, we chose the coldest place on earth this time of year: the Czech Republic. Don't get me wrong, Prague was a gorgeous city and I'm glad I visited. However, it felt like we were walking from building to building so we could duck inside for shelter. Despite it all, Prague was absolutely stunning. I'd love to get back there when the weather breaks. Here are a few highlights:

The astrological clock in Old Town Square

The Christmas markets in old town square

Charles Bridge :)

 Nightfall in Praha

After 4 days in Prague, TJ and I traveled back to one of our favorite places on Earth: Strasbourg, France. Strasbourg is such an amazing city for us, but it is also our second home. We both studied abroad there at the same time and it is where we became friends. The city is magical for us because we know its back alleys and its hidden gems. It was the place where we both grew so much as people and were changed deeply by our experiences. The moment our plane landed in Paris, I felt immediately at home. Although we had to sleep on the floor of the airport for the night so we could catch our morning train, I didn't mind. I was going home and I loved every minute of it. Because of the heavy snow, the TGV took over 3 hours instead of the usual 2 hours and 15 minutes. It was actually nice because I was able to soak in the French countryside. As the train conductor said, "prochain arret: Strasbourg" (next stop: Strasbourg), TJ and I squealed a little and jumped out of our seats. The French people gave us the usual head shake and mumbled "les americains" under their breath. We were like little children on Christmas morning. 

Being back in Strasbourg was incredibly surreal. It was comforting but a little sad at the same time because we no longer live there. However, we had a ton of fun. We visited all of our favorite places: Le Michel, Le Tarbouche, Cafe Brant, Le Brasseur... and the list goes on. We stayed with a French friend of ours who was so gracious to have taken in the two of us. We went to a bar in Germany one night, had dinner at Malou's house, went skiing in the Vosges and did lots of christmas marketing! I even got to see my host family, which was the best part of the entire trip! Here are some photos:

mmm kougelhopf. So happy to be back in Alsace. 

Good morning, Christmas markets!

Nothing beats a cigogne (stork) with a feather boa. 

oh hey there, tarte flambee. I missed you. 


skiing in the vosges.

Although traveling was a ton of fun, there's nothing like coming home for the holidays. This trip has flown by. I'm already heading back tomorrow, with no return in sight. I know I'll be back at some point, it's just not planned yet. The uncertainty of it all is a little unsettling. I guess that's what I love about it. Coming home was exactly what I needed. I was able to reground myself and now I can go into my exams with a clear head. There's truly nothing like being home for the holidays. However, I can't wait to get back to Scotland. Next stop: St Andrews!

Our Christmas tree at home