Monday, October 23, 2017

I Study Global Politics Now? (And I am SO Tired)


It's been quite a while since my last post, so let me give you a quick update.

Gone are the days where I studied Romance novels and Jane Austen (although sometimes I read an Austen collection as a study break). Now, my days are filled with discussions of nuclear proliferation, the international system, and political thought. It is a very real departure from my usual course of study, but I absolutely love it!

A little insight into my study session for an exam on Realism.

I'm not sure if it is the result of a new course of study, or if its just Junior Year, but I am exhausted! I routinely do homework until 11:30 pm and I'm up at 7:15 every day to start the whole process over again. There was a really rough period of about a week where I was averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night (it's actually the inspiration for part of this post's title). Don't worry though, I'm averaging 6 hours now. Which is good, because I don't know how much more caffeine I could have consumed. 

The smallest pile of homework I've had all semester.

My internship is going really well! So far I have done research, written a newsletter, and participated in two meetings. I was originally feeling pretty overwhelmed by the whole thing, but I'm feeling much more comfortable now. If you have any questions about it please let me know, I'm more than happy to share my experiences!

It's mid semester break right now, so PLU is having a long weekend (something that I think is far overdue). Apart from the copious amounts of homework I did; I went to Seattle with a friend and spent an amazing day in the Central Branch of the public library. It absolutely blew me away, there were so many books! We rounded out our day with some book shopping, and I am now the proud owner of 3 new books. Hooray!

Stereotypical shot of Pike Place.

Now that mid semester break is nearing a close, I can begin to focus more on Oxford. I bought my plane tickets this weekend and have started a series of orientations through PLU. The focus of this week is the tutorial we will be taking part of with the Oxford faculty. I have just a few more forms to fill out and I will be cleared to travel. How crazy is that?! I can't believe it is so close, studying away still doesn't feel real yet. According to my countdown app there are 70 days until I depart!


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Junior Year Is Here


It's been quite awhile since my last post, so here is an update on my summer and the beginning of the school year.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I was a camp counselor this summer at Four Winds Westward Ho. I spent 2 1/2 months in the San Juan Islands working with some of the most amazing people I have ever met. This summer was both the best and hardest summers I have experienced. I was challenged every day, and I am so grateful for the lessons I learned this summer. I definitely had conversations that I never thought possible (children really don't like wearing pants and don't appreciate being told to put pants on), but I was also able to see the impact our work was making on the kids at Camp. I have so many stories about my summer I could fill a whole new blog, so I'll keep that to myself for now. I had the most incredible experience, and I absolutely cannot wait to experience another summer at Four Winds.

The view from Turtleback Mountain. I adore the San Juan Islands

I came home from Camp and promptly had my wisdom teeth removed. The surgery was much better than I expected, and now a week later I'm feeling fine. Although the experience wasn't terrible, I definitely wish I had a different end to the summer. I was only home for 6 days, and was unable to experience a lot of things because I was asleep on the couch. 

I arrived at PLU before move in because I am a member of the Residence Hall Council (RHC). We decorated the residence hall and prepared for new students, and move in took place on the 1st of September. After an eventful weekend full of activities (Sound Off, Wing Meetings, and various ice breakers) we find ourselves on the first day of classes. 

Junior year is coming whether or not I am ready. I am taking PE 100 (okay, so this won't be intense), Global Perspectives, Shakespeare, International Affairs, and Global Political Thought. After not being involved in anything remotely academic for the summer I am a little nervous about being back at school, but I am really excited to get started exploring new information. 

The most exciting news I have is: I got an internship at the State Department! I am a virtual intern for a committee that works on empowering women working in International Affairs at the State Department. I will be focused mostly research and editing newsletters, but I am absolutely thrilled to begin working in a field that I am interested in. 

This school year is going to be absolutely crazy, and I am so excited to jump right into learning. 4 months until Oxford!


Friday, June 16, 2017

I'm A Summer Camp Counselor!


I'm writing from Four Winds Westward Ho, the summer camp where I will be living and working until the end of August. I am so incredibly excited to be in this beautiful place again. I worked here last year as the Office Assistant and I am really looking forward to experiencing a different aspect of Camp this year. 

That all being said, I had a super difficult time getting to Camp. My flight was delayed by an hour, so I missed the original bus I was supposed to take to Anacortes. Luckily, I was able to catch a later bus and there were high winds which resulted in the ferry being behind schedule. I made it onto the ferry just as they announced last call for boarding. All of this was made much more stressful by the fact that I hadn't slept at all the night before. Instead, I watched The West Wing (which seemed like a great idea at the time). Looking back on it now, with a full night of sleep, I am feeling much better about the whole experience. After all, now I'm at Camp.

I'm living in a cabin for the first time ever at Camp, and I have to admit it is pretty nice. Although, it really is a different experience than living in a tent. There are only 5 returning female staff members (not counting Heads of Activity Areas) so I am the mentor in my mentor cabin, even though I have never been a counselor before. 

Last night was a fairly relaxed night, we didn't have any required activities but most people gathered in the lodge to hang out after dinner. We also got staff sweaters, arguably one of the most exciting events of Camp for staff. There is always a lot of conjecture on what style of sweater we will be receiving. 

This morning I began the day by taking the swim test at 7:45 am. It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, but I did create quite a bit of drama. Turns out, I had a bloody nose and didn't realize it. It was quite an exciting turn of events. I'm recovered now, but it was a pretty fun few minutes. After a freezing cold shower I was ready for the day. 

So far we have been playing ice breakers and organizing activity areas, basically just getting ready for the campers to arrive. I'm excited to see how the rest of the summer goes!


Friday, May 26, 2017

Halfway Done with Undergrad (How Is That Possible?)


It's been quite awhile since my last post, so here are some highlights of my last few weeks at PLU.

As of Thursday May 25th at 1:00 pm I am officially halfway done with my undergrad! (I'm being that specific because I turned in an essay and it was time stamped) It's hard to believe that my time at PLU is halfway over, it honestly feels like just yesterday that I stepped on campus for the first time. This year was marked with some amazing opportunities and full of growth, both academic and personal. So, in the spirit of a life update here is a recap of my sophomore year at PLU. 

This year I lived in the same residence hall that I lived in my first year. I had a new roommate, and we moved up one floor (definitely a part of the big leagues). Part of my mission this year was to become more engaged with on campus opportunities and events. So, I applied to work as the Peer Mentor for the first year students taking writing classes in my residence hall. It was a really great experience helping first years learn about PLU, and I was able to create some really great programs and events for the residence hall. 

This is the group of all the Alaskan students who attended PLU this year

Here is the view from the back stairs of my residence hall

I balanced this job with a 17 credit course load, a mix of English courses and Global Studies courses. That's right, I added a new major in the fall! At the time, I thought the fall semester was the hardest academic experience this year (guess what? I was wrong!) Fall semester was absolutely incredible, and the whole time I was preparing to study abroad. 

As you all know I spent January in the absolutely amazing Manchester! That experience was the definition of life changing. I learned so much over the course of that month, and I feel like I really grew as a person. I lived with a new roommate (who quickly became one of my closest friends) and learned to navigate a completely foreign city. My time in Manchester really helped solidify a lot of changes I was trying to make in my life, and I am so incredibly grateful that I was able to go on this study away course!

This is Albert Square in Manchester

After an eventful, but amazing, January I returned to PLU ready to get back to a normal school schedule. However, I didn't think of how difficult reentry into campus life would be after studying away. I wasn't expecting to deeply miss a city that I had only been in for a single month, but the beginning of Spring Semester was really difficult for me. 

Another classic Emma and Madeline selfie (she dropped me off at the airport and we needed to capture the moment)

I got back into the swing of things after a few weeks and was quickly inundated with huge amounts of homework. I was once again taking 17 credits, and working a different job. It would be fair to say that I was overworked and overstressed. Luckily, my job only lasted 6 weeks and after Spring Break I was able to focus completely on school work. My classes the spring were incredibly interesting, and I think that I'm really starting to hone in on what I want to study as I get further into both of my programs. I also added an additional minor. I am now an English Literature and Global Studies double major with Women's and Gender Studies and French minors. (You did in fact read that right, I am working towards accomplishing a double major and double minor)

Right now, I think that I want to focus on refugee status, and the process that is associated with individuals gaining refugee status in the United States. It is a complicated process that I want to explore in much greater detail than I was able to this semester. On the English front: my newest area of study is Jane Austen. In particular, how Jane Austen's work interacts with ideas of feminism, even though feminism as a concept didn't exist when she was writing. I'm also interested in exploring how Austen herself is a constructed character (through her writings, personal correspondence, family influence, and opinions of "Janeites"). I'm incredibly excited about this, so if anybody wants to chat about Jane Austen let me know!

This is what my desk looks like when I'm in the middle of writing a 14 page paper (fun right?)

I am now sitting in the Seattle Airport waiting for a flight back to Alaska. I'll be home for about 18 days and then will be heading off to Orcas Island to work at a summer camp. Get ready for some interesting stories about camp culture! And don't forget, Oxford is happening in January!

Thanks for supporting me on my study away journeys this year, I've appreciated the company!


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Freedom!!! (For a Week)


It's been quite a while since my last post so I'll catch you up quickly. We are halfway through Spring Semester at PLU and my goodness, how glad I am to say that. By all accounts (I polled my friends) Spring Semester has been difficult. I am taking 17 credits, the max allowed at PLU, and might be dying. I also worked a part time job for the first part of the semester, and started working on the Residence Hall Council in my dorm. Needless to say, I am crazy stressed and am so glad that we are on break. 

I spent the first four days of break in Arizona with my grandparents. I hadn't seen them in two years and was excited to be able to catch up with them! It also wasn't raining there which was an exciting change from Tacoma, where it just hasn't stopped. 

Here we are on my last day in Arizona, eating Sonoran Hotdogs (a local delicacy in Sahuarita). 

Arizona was absolutely amazing! It was sunny all 3 days I was there, and I have never been happier. I even made it a full day before I got sunburned, which has to be some kind of record. It isn't even that bad of sunburn, so I have no regrets about it. 

My grandparents and I had a lovely time together. We hiked, played games, and watched movies. It was the exact kind of relaxation that I needed. My first night there we watched Driving Miss Daisy, I had never seen it before, and I really enjoyed it. Our second day my grandmother and I got pedicures and then the three of us went on a hike. We went to Sabino Canyon, which is part of the Coronado National Forest. The hike we went on involved a tram up to the top of the path, and then we hiked down. It was really beautiful, I really enjoyed walking around (especially because we didn't see any snakes). After experiencing a different kind of Arizona then I had seen before, we had pizza and game night. My grandparents taught me to play Sequence, a strategy game, and the room was absolutely silent as we tried to beat each other. I unfortunately didn't win, but it was loads of fun!

Part of the Sabino Canyon Trail

This is called the Winking Face. If you look closely this rocky outcropping forms a face. It's kind of hard to see though.

My last full day in Arizona my grandmother and I went to the 4th Ave. Street Fair in downtown Tucson. I equate it with the Alaska State Fair, but on steroids (with no rides). We had funnel cake for breakfast and walked around looking at booths. After a lovely morning we drove to Madera Canyon and watched some wild turkeys while eating lunch. The time I spent in Arizona was amazing, but it was not my full Spring Break. 

I flew all day Monday and arrived back in Alaska at 11:30 pm, which means I didn't get home until 1:00 am. It snowed the first couple of days I was home, but the weather is just now starting to get more like spring. My sister was in school all week, and my dad worked, so my mom and spent the week together. We stayed pretty close to home, but did have a fantastic afternoon with my aunt, uncle, and cousins. I really miss my extended family when I'm at school and I relish the opportunity to reconnect with them. 

Saturday was my sister's Junior prom, and although she did not go, she and her boyfriend dressed up and took pictures. They decided to take pictures at the bridge, a beautiful location, but incredibly windy. It was a great reminder of why I despise Alaska weather so much. She looked absolutely beautiful, and the scenery was lovely- I just hope at least one picture turned out. 

The fantastic Alaska view from the Knick River Bridge.

My Dad wanted to test out the photo location before my sister got there.

Right now I'm sitting in the Anchorage airport, waiting for my flight to board. My parents drove me into town to drop me off, and my aunt and cousin came to send me off. My cousin is 6 and we are  best friends. That being said, he always knows what to say to make me cry. When I come home he starts every conversation with "Madeline I misseded you when you were gone." (It's like a knife to the heart). This send-off he didn't disappoint asking me "Why do you have to leave?" If that isn't enough to make you want to quit college and stay home, I don't know what is. Luckily I was able to give him a satisfactory answer and he let me go through security, after I was given an extra hug. 

Here we are just before I left for college orientation. The family resemblance is a little freaky, right?

This break was filled with family and relaxation, and while I might not be completely rejuvenated, I am ready to tackle the last part of this semester. 


Friday, February 3, 2017

The End of an Era


We have just reached the end of an absolutely incredible month in Manchester. This last blog post is an homage to the lovely people I just spent a month with and our experiences of the city. Each member of the group has selected their favorite photo from the trip and has included a small blurb about their favorite experience. I hope you enjoy seeing the city of Manchester (and the surrounding areas) through eyes other than my own. 


St. Peter's Church (Liverpool)

I really loved the atmosphere of St. Peter's Church. The day was really overcast and somber, but you could tell that the people buried in the cemetery were well loved. As we were walking around the graveyard our tour guide played "Eleanor Rigby" (which happens to be my favorite Beatles song). It was really amazing to experience the places that I have heard about growing up. 


Cavern Club (Liverpool)

Visiting the Cavern Club in Liverpool has always been at the top of my bucket list. I grew up listening to the Beatles so I've almost felt a spiritual obligation to see where they began. The feeling of history stacked upon childhood nostalgia was indescribable. I stayed in Liverpool an extra day to further soak it all in and ended up seeing a Beatles tribute band perform at the Cavern. Long story short, tears were shed. 


Quarry Bank Mill (Manchester)

Quarry Bank Mill was a beautiful place. This is one of my favorite shots from that day. I don't really have a story behind it, but I would point out the stark contrast in scenery between this and what a city factory would be. 


Cavern Club (Liverpool)


Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)

To me, this picture represents this J Term the best. I have always wanted to go to Ireland and see the cliffs, PLU has allowed me to do that, and with people who I will share these experiences with forever. This month has provided me with so many opportunities to see the world through the scope of the classroom, but also as a tourist. I feel that this month has helped me grow so much as a student and as a traveler. 


Eleanor Rigby Statue (Liverpool)

I did not choose this picture for its quality or my love for "Eleanor Rigby" , but because of its sadly poetic nature. Here we see a homeless person (I cropped out their face for privacy) sleeping next to a statue dedicated to "all the lonely people." When faced with a subject such as living conditions during the Industrial Revolution, it is understandably easy to think "well that was then." But it is also now. True, we have come a long way, but we are far from perfect. This picture is a reminder that while society has progressed and developed great things like rock bands, it is essential that we look out for all members of our society as we continue to progress. 


Temple of Apollo (Greece)

Katie and I were so jealous of the Greece trip that we decided to stay an extra week and visit the tempe of Apollo in Delphi, Greece.



Erin and I booked one night in Amsterdam and we bought spur of the moment tickets to Drake. Needless to say it was one of the best nights of our lives, and Amsterdam ended up being our favorite place out of everywhere we traveled this month. 


Edinburgh, Scotland

I chose this picture because it represents how much I broke out of my comfort zone. I like everything to be scheduled and hardly like surprises. However, this trip to Edinburgh, Scotland was also one of the most beautiful places I have ever been and I will keep the 24 hours of memories that it gave me for a lifetime. 


Quarry Bank Mill

Quarry Bank, 10/10, would recommend. 


Neuschwanstein Castle in Schwangau, Germany

Crazy adventures, stressful times, 100% worth it. 


The Louvre (Paris)

I chose a picture of the Louvre because I was able to see some of the original paintings and sculptures that I have studied in classrooms. I was nearly in tears of joy standing in front of my favorite paintings "St. George and the dragon" by Raphael, its one thing to see a picture of it but to actually see the original and see the 3D depths of the brush strokes was absolutely astonishing. I felt unbelievably blessed to be able to see the magnificent pieces of art that not everyone has the privilege to see!



I love this picture because (not only was it my birthday) but I love how close our group became and how cognizant we all were of each other. I also like this picture because the selfie game was very strong while studying in Manchester and now I am able to look back and not just experience what I did myself but see all these people who I got to experience Europe with. 


Monday, January 30, 2017

Last Two Days


We have now entered into the last two days in Manchester. I am heartbroken, but will soldier on. 

Sunday was spent in appreciation of the beauty that is this city. The weather was fantastic: clear and sunny, so it was the perfect opportunity to take pictures. 

As a result of it being our last weekend day, Emma and I decided to sleep in a little. We had a lazy morning and then decided to go to Fig & Sparrow for our final coffee shop experience. Kait is also in Manchester this weekend, so she came with us. Our goal of the morning was to fine tune our presentations and get some travel journaling done. 

My final cup of tea from Fig & Sparrow

Monday marks our last full day in Manchester. We had class in the morning, everyone presented on their research topics. All of the presentations were so interesting, and really reflected the range of the topics we have studied this month. There was everything from computer science, to the suffrage movement, to art history. It was so interesting seeing all of the things that interest the class. 

This week marks Chinese New Year, and the whole city is decorated with paper lanterns. We were walking past the town hall today, and the whole square was filled with them. I loved seeing them all, the bright red was such a contrast to the building itself. 

City Hall 

Tonight we are having our final dinner (the students are treating the professors). It is giving us the opportunity to thank them for all of their work this month, and a time to celebrate each other.

On our way back from dinner, we saw the end of a protest against the #muslimban. It was really moving to see people so separate from the US take such a strong stand for what they believe in. It really affirmed my beliefs about common human decency.

We are leaving for the airport in 45 minutes, so I will now sign off the in Manchester section of the blog. I am so incredibly grateful for the opportunity I had to go on this trip! It has been absolutely life changing, and I wouldn't change a thing about it.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Slums and War (A Look into the Darker Part of Manchester's Past)


This weekend most of the group is in Dublin (there are actually only three of us still in Manchester right now). Each weekend the professors offer an optional excursion, the past two weeks I wasn't able to attend so I really wanted to go on this last one. This week's excursion was a small walking tour of Angel Meadow, which was the largest slum in Industrial Manchester; and it wasn't until after World War II that urban renewal truly came to the area. 

It was a really heartbreaking tour. While most of the evidence that Angel Meadow was a slum has been removed, after all of the reading for this class it really isn't that hard to imagine the conditions faced by those that live there. One of the most poignant parts of the tour was our stop at the Angel Meadow cemetery. It is now a park, but before the urban renewal it was a burial ground. Bodies were not given individual grave sites, they were shoved into mass graves and then the grave sites were paved over. There are stories of children using skulls as soccer balls because there was nothing else for them to play with in the community. It is stories like this that really bring home how terrible the conditions were in Manchester.

In connection to our class reading, we were able to see the street that a character lived on in Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is just another example of the great literary history available in Manchester, everyday I am faced with something that challenges or heightens my understanding of our coursework. There is no better way to learn. 

On a much lighter note, we went to an Italian restaurant near the hotel for dinner and it was fabulous! There was live music while we were eating (with lots of Frank Sinatra, my favorite). After dinner we came back to the hotel and started watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. I highly recommend it (much better than the movie version). 

On Saturday Emma and I decided to go back to Salford because we wanted to return to the Imperial War Museum. I'm really glad that we went back because there was so much more to the museum than we saw the first time. There are two exhibitions at the museum, and both are absolutely fantastic! The first traces the history of war from World War I to the present day. It is absolutely fascinating to see how the experience of war has shaped the UK. The museum also plays a short film about the experience of children in war that is absolutely heartbreaking. 

Imperial War Museum

The second exhibit is "Fashion on the Ration." It details how rationing during World War II changed the fashion industry. The exhibit was filled with examples of how fashion, and clothing production itself, were changed by the coupon ration system that was used during WWII. Being able to see the transition of women into wearing pants more regularly was amazing, especially considering how little we think of it now. 

Quote from the Fashion on the Ration Exhibit

After the museum Emma and I had lunch, and on the way back to the MetroLink station stumbled on a small farmer's market. It was a really great find! They had some absolutely amazing desserts, which I was a huge fan of. 

At 6:45 pm we decided that we should probably eat dinner. After a fruitless search (every place we went to was full), Pizza Express became our only hope. We got takeaway pizza and returned to the hotel to continue watching A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix, it was the perfect end to the day. 


Friday, January 27, 2017

Milling Around the Mill (and Other Excursions)


On Wednesday we toured Quarry Bank Mill, one of the two working cotton mills in the UK. Built in 1784 it is the oldest mill in continual use. It was also the subject of the Channel 4 series The Mill. You may remember that we watched the first episode at the professors' flats a few weeks ago to get a sense of the conditions of the working class. It was really amazing to recognize the buildings as we were walking around. 

A view of the mill

I couldn't fit the whole mill building into one frame, but here is most of it

The tour was all self-guided, which allowed for us to take it at our own pace. We began the tour in the mill building itself. It opened with an exhibit on the work women performed in the mill, and in their personal lives. In essence, it was showing how women were undervalued for doing as much (if not more) work than the men. 

Quarry Bank Mill is still operational, so as you go through the building there are docents exhibiting how machines work and answering questions. They trace the transition from the cottage industry of the cotton industry to the industrial industry. It was fascinating to see the impact that industrialization had on the production of cloth. Being able to witness that transition really enhanced my understanding of the process of production.

The mill has floors full of machinery, and you can even go see the wheel that powers the building. Its pretty crazy to come to terms with the scale of something that we have been studying. In class the topics seem so abstract because we can't see what we are talking about, but the mill really made the class feel real. 

The tour of Quarry Bank Mill isn't just the tour of the mill; there are also extensive grounds, a garden, the mill owner's house, the apprentice house, and the workers' village (Styal Village). Styal Village is not open for tours (as the buildings are now expensive houses) but you are able to walk around the outside of the houses. It was amazing to gain a better understanding of the living conditions in Manchester (although Styal Village had much better conditions than the city). 

The grounds of Quarry Bank Mill

Here is a view of the mill that was last seen 200 years ago before the grounds became overgrown

We were able to take a guided tour of the Apprentice House. I think this was my favorite part of the tour. The Apprentice House is where the child workers lived. There were up to 90 children living in the house with two supervisors. They worked, on average, 12 hour days and then had to go back and do chores. They had one free day a week (Sunday) but it was filled with schooling and Church. From a modern perspective the conditions the children were living in was terrible, but it was actually some of the best housing children could receive. Most of the child workers came from workhouses, where they had been abandoned by their families. The docent explained how children had to pass the medical test to be able to work (it was incredibly easy to pass) and then they worked for 9 years as apprentices in the mill. Most children then signed on to work in the mill after reaching age 18, so the conditions must not have been terrible, at least that is the reasoning the docent gave us. 

This is the Apprentice House

This is one of the dormitory rooms. Children slept 2 to a bed, and there were up to 90 children in the house.

We continued our historical explorations on Thursday with a visit to the Pankhurst House. We visited a few weeks ago, but were unable to tour; so it was decided that we needed to return. 

This is the outside of the Pankhurst Centre (interesting fun fact Emmeline, Sylvia, and Christabel Pankhurst are all listed on the plaque, but Adela Pankhurst is not)

I really enjoyed the tour, even though Emma and I have already researched the family extensively. It was kind of a bummer because they basically went through our entire presentation (not that it will make us change our presentation, it is just helping us adapt what we will be talking about). It was really amazing to visit again, I don't think I will ever recover from the fact that I stood where suffrage started. 

After the tour Emma and I went to the archives at the People's History Museum to continue our research. All of the information they had for us was on microfilm, so we learned how to use a microfilm machine. It was pretty crazy using a machine that I've only read about. The sources we were using were records of The Suffragette a newspaper edited by Christabel Pankhurst and distributed by the Women's Social and Political Union (founded by Emmeline Pankhurst). The material we were looking at was fascinating! It helped us decide how we wanted to present our research, and really gave me pause after recognizing the similarities between the early 1900s and today (particularly the struggles faced by women). 

As part of our Farewell to Manchester efforts, Emma and I are trying to go to all of our favorite places. This quite obviously meant another stop at Caffe Nero! (I'm actually writing from Caffe Nero right now). 

As this trip winds down I'm trying to be more present in the moment, and thankful for the experiences I was able to have in Manchester. If I have learned nothing else on this trip (and I have learned a lot), it is that I am committed to living abroad at some point in my life.


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Piering into the Past


Class has started again! It is always fun to see everybody after all the weekend adventures. This past weekend we had people visit Paris, Brussels, and Manchester. The story swapping when we are all together is always great!

Monday marks the beginning of our last full week in Manchester. Honestly, just writing that sentence makes me sad, this whole experience has been absolutely amazing. 

We started off the week with a tour of Wigan, a town in the Greater Manchester Area. The tour was given by Chris McAllister, a retired civil engineer and the husband of Dr. Annemarie McCallister who gave one of our first tours. We are reading George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier for class this week, so it was really fascinating to see some of the places he writes about in the novel. 

Leeds and Liverpool Canal in Wigan

We took the train from Manchester to Wigan (about 30 minutes) and began our walking tour. One of the best parts about this trip has been experiencing other cities near Manchester, and Wigan did not disappoint  Our tour focused on the industrialization of Wigan, and the effect that de-industrialization has has on the city. We also got to see a few sites that pertain to George Orwell. There is a small monument to him in the city (and when I say small I mean it, Orwell is not well liked by Wigan). We also got to see Wigan Pier (not at all impressive, which was kind of surprising). 

The Orwell monument in Wigan (our tour guide told us that it was a fight to even establish it)

The Orwell Pub in Wigan

Wigan Pier is the tiny white building in the background (pretty impressive, right?)

After a pub lunch in Wigan, and a quick train ride back, class was over for the day. A few of us went out shopping, and just walking  around Manchester. It was so much fun just hanging out, it is definitely going to be weird not being with these people 24/7.

Tuesday was our last day of classroom discussion. We discussed Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier and the social and political environment around the novel. Discussion went really well, it was really cool to see how much we have learned about industrialization

The afternoon was spent researching for our final projects. A large group of us went to the Central Library to make use of their reading room (it was a fantastic change of location). After researching for a few hours we split into smaller groups and adventured around. I went out with a group to an Italian restaurant near the hotel. I got Gnocchi al Pomodoro (gnocchi in tomato sauce). It was amazing! 

We also had our final meeting at the professors' flat today. We watched Fame in the Spur, a film from 1947. It is a thinly veiled satire about Labour Prime Minister Ramsay McDonald, and really focuses on political careerism. The film also delves into the suffrage movement a little bit, I found the representation really striking (and definitely in line with the research I have been doing). I really enjoyed the film!

This trip is quickly coming to an end, but we are determined to make these last few days as wonderful as the first!


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Merry Times at the Maritime Museum


This weekend has been incredible! Emma and I decided to return to Liverpool and continue our exploration of music history. 

We were originally supposed to go to the Lake District this weekend, but it didn't end up working out. Instead, we went back to Liverpool and take the city at our own pace. 

Art in the sidewalk outside of the Liverpool Lime Street train station

The train from Manchester to Liverpool is only about 45 minutes long, but I still managed to fall asleep. We got into Liverpool and immediately regretted our jacket choices (the forecast called for sun, it was cloudy and cold). We decided to soldier on, and went to find lunch. We found a place to eat, but there was a Liverpool football match so everything was busy. In the end, we decided on going Caffe Nero (anybody surprised?). After a quick lunch and a fantastic strawberry hot chocolate we went over to the Merseyside Maritime Museum. 

View of the docks on the way to the Merseyside Maritime Museum

I am so glad we were able to go through the museum again, it is absolutely incredible! Last time we went we were only able to go through one floor (out of three!), so we wanted to make sure that we could see everything we were interested in. 

There is an amazing exhibit about the sinking of the Titanic, and the links the ship had to Liverpool. It was an incredibly moving exhibit, they had recordings of the messages sent from the Titanic to other ships and it was just heartbreaking to hear. On the floor below there is an exhibit on the sinking of the Lusitania and Liverpool's role in the war efforts. It was a really interesting shift in perspective to consider the war from a place that is more visibly effected than the US. 

The museums in the UK have been absolutely incredible. Most of them are free and it is a really refreshing change to be somewhere that values education in such a way that makes access to information easier. 

After the museum we went back to The Cavern Club to see some music and get some souvenirs for family members. We had to pay to enter the club, and once we entered it was super busy (a result of it being Saturday I'm sure). It was definitely worth it though. The music was great, and I'm really glad to have the experience. 

Inside of The Cavern Club

We ended up leaving Liverpool in the late afternoon and getting back to Manchester just in time for dinner. We went to a little Mexican restaurant near the hotel, and then to the frozen yogurt place someone pointed out to us (it has been a dangerous discovery). Most of the group went out to a movie, but it was a thriller (not my favorite) so I didn't go. I did some homework and hung out in the room, which was really relaxing. 

Sunday turned out to be a pretty relaxed day. Emma and I went back to Fig&Sparrow to study. I've found that studying in a coffee shop is actually very nice. After studying walked around Manchester some more and went to the movie theater to see Lion (I highly recommend it). 

Chili Lime Brownie from Fig&Sparrow (this photo doesn't have a purpose, the food was just delicious)

Here is my first experience at Fig&Sparrow (it was amazing)

I can't believe that the trip is almost over. Hopefully this last week is just as amazing as the last three have been. 


Friday, January 20, 2017

A Day in the Life


Thursday was the 50th anniversary of "A Day in the Life" being recorded. What a great day to take the Beatles tour!

We started the day by taking the bus into Liverpool, and our first stop was St. Peter’s Church where John Lennon and Paul McCartney met. We got to walk around the churchyard, and saw the grave of Eleanor Rigby and Father Mackenzie (although McCartney says he came up with the names they are real people whose graves he saw as a child). 

St. Peter's Church

Eleanor Rigby's grave

After the church we drove by Strawberry Field, which used to be a Salvation Army home for children. We then drove around Liverpool and saw both Lennon and McCartney’s childhood homes. You can’t go into either without being part of a tour from the National Trust, which is very unfortunate. Apparently the people who used to own Lennon’s house wouldn’t let anybody in, including Yoko Ono! McCartney’s house is in the middle of a suburban street which for some reason struck me as very funny. It seems very out of place as a landmark, and I feel so bad for the neighbors who must just be stormed by fans. 

Strawberry Field*

Lennon's childhood home*

McCartney's childhood home

After McCartney’s house we went to Penny Lane. We stood on the roundabout that is mentioned in the song and our tour guide read us the lyrics while pointing out all of the landmarks that are mentioned in the song. He then played “Penny Lane” for us (as well as other songs at the specific venues they mention). 

Here is the barbershop mentioned in "Penny Lane"

Penny Lane

We also got to see the statue of Eleanor Rigby near Matthew Street (basically Beatles mecca). There were tons of Beatles stores and then we went to The Cavern Club. As far as I can remember, our tour guide told us that the Beatles played there 290 times. It isn’t the original venue anymore, but the modern club consists of about 75% of the original space. When we went downstairs there was someone playing “Pinball Wizard”. It was absolutely fantastic!

Statue of Eleanor Rigby

The Cavern Club

Outside of The Cavern Club they have a statue of John Lennon, a wall with all the #1 singles produced by Liverpool musicians, and a huge wall with the names of everyone who has performed in The Cavern Club. It was insane to be surrounded by that much music history!

After the Beatles tour, and a quick stop at Albert Dock, we went to the Merseyside Maritime Museum. It was one of the best museums I have been to. We focused on the International Slavery Museum; it was absolutely unbelievable. The museum examined the slave trade as it related to Liverpool (it was a hub of the trade) and the legacy that slavery has left on the world. It emphasizes the fact that slavery still exists in the world; it is not something that has been solved. It was especially difficult to look at the artifacts in the museum and realize that they had been used to imprison human beings.

Albert Dock

Albert Dock

Royal Liver Buildings

Friday was a really relaxing day. Most of the group went to Paris for the weekend, so there are only 7 students in Manchester at the moment. A few of us spent the morning in a little cafe called Fig and Sparrow. It was really cute, and in a different area of town than we normally go to (so a double win in my mind). 

After the cafe we just walked around Manchester doing a little bit of sightseeing. We didn't really do anything spectacular, but it was really nice to spend more time just walking around the city. Everything seems much closer together now that we are more familiar with the city. 

Tonight the group is going out to an Indian Restaurant for dinner (very exciting because there isn't a ton of Indian food in Alaska). This weekend is shaping up to very relaxing, exactly what is needed after three busy weeks in Manchester. 


*(Photo credit Kait Dawson)