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First Day of Class

Today was my first day of classes! That's right; I only have two classes a week and they're both on Thursday. It's going to take quite a bit of adjusting to get used to.

My first class today was "The Weaker Sex? Women in Scottish Society 1800-1970" and it was, as expected, all girls. The professor seems quite nice and the girls in the class were very friendly. The basic idea of the class is that we're going to study a different Scottish woman every week until the end of the semester. We were assigned our presentation dates today and I got Weeks 4 and 8, which were exactly what I asked for. I'm quite looking forward to this class and started in on the reading for next week during my lunch break...

I had a lovely lunch at Costa and then headed to Starbucks to hang out and make use of their free wifi for my two hour break between classes.

My favorite: coronation chicken sandwich
Treated myself to a piece of carrot cake

My second class is called "The Life of the Mind: Key Texts in European Thought 1512-1697," which basically means that we'll be studying all the most important political and philosophical works from that period. It's a bit intimidating but my professor was very lovely.

I love that both of my classes have about 12 people in them, which is a great size for a discussion-based class. I have a fair bit of work due next Thursday, but that's to be expected! I made a spaghetti bolognese (in the microwave, don't overestimate my abilities!) for dinner and worked on getting some things accomplished in my room for the rest of the evening.

Tomorrow, I'm heading up to Dundee with some friends to grab lunch...and go to Primark! xx
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Barbados Blog #3

Barbados: Culture, Sport and Media Blog 3

Megan Sibree, Kristen Fontela, Rob Sullivan and Jo Brown

Monday January 12, 2015

Today we visited two popular attractions in Barbados: the Mount Gay Rum Distillery and the George Washington House. The Mount Gay Rum Distillery tour was very interesting and informative. Our tour guide explained how rum can be made using molasses, which was considered an unwanted product of processing sugarcane until farmers realized its true value in the 1600s. Because of this, the value of molasses increased significantly and it was commonly referred to as “black gold.” The workers at the Mount

Gay Distillery fiercely claimed that they were first to produce rum, however the true historical origin is unclear. After walking around the factory and watching an informative video, we entered the bottling room and watched how hundreds of bottles were filled on a conveyer belt. Interestingly, parts of the bottling process are still conducted by hand in the Mount Gay bottling facility, allowing for the production of approximately 10,000 bottles of rum each day.

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Picture Caption: The George Washington House located in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Picture Credit: Megan Sibree

            The George Washington House was where President George Washington stayed in Barbados long before his impressive military and political career. In 1751, George Washington was 19 and traveled to Barbados with his older brother, Lawrence, in hopes that the wonderful climate of Barbados would aid in Lawrence’s recovery from tuberculosis. Unfortunately the weather did not help. Lawrence died from the disease after Washington returned home to the United States. However, while in Barbados, Washington contracted and successfully recovered from smallpox. Because he recovered from smallpox, he gained immunity to the disease which proved very important in the American Revolution. As many soldiers suffered, Washington was immune because of his stay in Barbados. The home, although seemingly unimpressive from the outside, was much larger than expected and beautifully furnished with items from the 1700s.

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Picture Caption: The George Washington House located in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Picture Credit: Megan Sibree

Tuesday January 13, 2015

Our first stop of the day was to the Parliament building in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. In this building, members of the Barbadian government meet to discuss and propose new or current laws. We sat in the balcony area reserved for guests and journalists along with a few local Barbadians. The meeting we attended was the first of the new year. It began with the speaker of parliament recusing himself. He was involved in a legal conflict regarding his prior career as a lawyer. However, the session continued, and the first rule change was proposed by the Minister of Finance of the Democratic Labor Party, the party currently in power. He suggested that the legislation surrounding the collection of Value Added Taxes (VAT) change so that it could be applied to goods before other fees would be waived. He suggested that the current legislation created a loophole which, in turn, hurt government revenues. The leader of the opposition, or the Barbados Labor Party,brought up the point that the Bajan people have already been taxed enough and that measures need to be taken to streamline the collection process. She argued that making changes to the collection process would increase revenue because much of the money collected is not making it back to the government.

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Picture Caption: The Barbados Parliament Building located in Bridgetown, Barbados.

Picture Credit: www.barbados.org

 On Tuesday after the Parliament session, we visited The Nation, Barbados’s top newspaper publishing company on the island. We were able to meet with different employees at The Nation, including those in marketing, advertising, and sport departments, as well as the editor in chief, Roy Morris. They were a lovely group of people who were more than happy to answer all of our questions about media and communications on the island. In addition to learning what goes into writing and preparing the paper, we also got a glimpse at how each individual paper is made. We were able to see the machines that are used to create the thousands of papers to be circulated each week. It was interesting to observe the ways in which news is prepared and distributed in a different country.

 

Wednesday January 14, 2015

Today was dedicated to group research for our On-Island Special Topic Projects.  These are group projects in which students self-select a topic that relates to our course’s overall goals discussed during our preparatory seminar in the fall. Students have chosen their groups and topics based on their interests as well as their areas of study.  These topics include journalism, health, finance, economics, history, and food. To collect data, students will explore several sources, including interviews, online sources, island libraries, and site visits. Students will create a formal presentation of our topics to share with the class next week.

Today, we were given time and financial resources to navigate the island and begin collecting data on our topics. Because of the small size of Barbados, we have the opportunity to conduct field research in all regions of the island. To do this, some students made phone calls to locals while others met with locals for interviews and tours. Some students visited various hotels to interview employees about tourism and its effect on the island.  Others visited health facilities to interview doctors and other medical personnel.  One group studying journalism met with an associate publisher of The Nation, a newspaper published on the island. This day provided students opportunities to connect with each other and with the locals in Barbados as we traveled the island collecting information pertaining to our particular topics.

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Picture Caption: Students interviewed sports medicine physician, Dr. Best, who showed students how to use his musculoskeletal ultrasound machine.

Photo Credit: Rachel Ingersoll

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My Last Day of Freedom

Alright, so maybe that title is a little melodramatic. Especially for someone who has classes one day a week. That's correct: both of my classes meet one day a week and they both happen to meet on Thursday. #goodbyestructureddays

Since tomorrow is my first day of classes and therefore a Very Big Day and because yesterday was such a stressful day for me, I decided to just relax a bit today at the Student Union cafe. So while eating lots of yummy food and multiple cups of tea in adorable teapots, I finished the readings I had left for class tomorrow and played around on my computer.


The best minestrone soup I've ever had

I'm in love with this polka dot teapot

Naturally, St Andrews thought that the day that I forgot a hat and scarf and the day that I needed to buy groceries was the perfect day to snow. It wasn't much and it didn't stick on the ground, but it definitely happened!

After a few hours in the cafe, I surrendered my table and went to grab some groceries. I was very happy to find that they had a pot I can use for soup and pasta and managed to nab the last one there.
#success
I treated myself to a hazelnut hot chocolate from Starbucks to keep my hands warm on the long walk back. I'm having a low-key evening, making some spinach cannelloni (in the microwave) and watching a movie. Tomorrow I have to actually get out of bed before 9:30am so I can get to class in time. I'm trying not to be too nervous about meeting my teachers and my classmates, but a movie is definitely needed to distract me! xx

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Just Say Yes

I spent most of today in different restaurants and coffee shops, drinking tea and reading. Sound like my idea of perfection? It pretty much is.

This morning, I attempted to make a fried egg. Unfortunately I fried it a little bit too much-- I'm a yolk runny type of person. Hopefully, I'll do better next time! 


I was quite excited to get my package of Zoella Beauty products from downstairs this morning (I got the email telling me it was delivered last night). I ordered a fizz bar for Hannah and lotion for Mum, and then shower gel, perfume, and a new cosmetic bag for me with the saying "Just Say Yes" on it. Zoe's line is really lovely; the lotion is my favorite I've ever had and I just love how everything smells.



After running some errands around town, I spent the day going from coffee shop to coffee shop drinking tea and reading and trying to calm my worried mind. 
Pret a Manger
Starbucks
The Student Union Cafe
In all honesty, today was a hard day for me. I felt very anxious, for no apparent reason, and a bit ill as well. I soldiered through as best I could and didn't push myself too hard to do anything I didn't feel like doing (this whole self-care thing is still a bit difficult for me). I think all of the stress of being in a foreign country by myself finally hit me today and I just wasn't quite ready for it. I'm feeling a lot better now and I'm excited to try again tomorrow. 

Zoe Sugg is one of my favorite YouTubers. She suffers from anxiety and panic attacks and has talked about them quite a bit on her blog and YouTube channel. The saying, "Just Say Yes," which is printed on my new bag, is one that she uses to encourage herself not to let her anxiety hold her back from new experiences...but it doesn't just apply to people with anxiety. 

The past few days, I've done lots of things that I feel nervous about doing at home. I bought (and wore!) a hat. I wore red lipstick during the day. I cooked eggs--twice! And today, I kept going even when my nervousness was overwhelming and my desire to be at home was all-encompassing. I think it's very important to try new experiences, even if you're a bit afraid, but to also respect your own limits. I'm hoping to master both of these skills this semester...If you can't tell, all of this time I've been spending by myself has given me loads of time for self-reflection! 

If you want to see Zoe talk about the saying "Just Say Yes" herself, you can check out the video below. 



After deliberation, I decided that I have a responsibility to blog my honest feelings and experiences in hopes that this will help anyone else who is studying or considering studying abroad. Studying abroad isn't all beautiful campuses and traveling around. There are very rough days made worse by being in a foreign country. But you have to hope that they balance out. xxx
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Barbados Blog Post #2

Barbados: Culture, Sport and Media Blog 2

 

Meredith Stutz, Elizabeth Cullen, Pat Graven, and Nicholai DiBiagio

 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

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While walking through the winding paths of the Welchman Hall Gully, we encountered hundreds of different types of exotic plants, trees and flowers.

Photo Cred: Meredith Stutz, junior

   Thursday we embarked on another group tour day with our esteemed tour guide, Andrew, and visited the Welchman Hall Gully, Springvale Museum and Earthworks Pottery.

The Welchman Hall Gully offers a taste of a tropical rainforest with added local Barbadian, regional and other global exotic plants (see picture to the left). According to the Gully’s website, there are more than 150 kinds of plants found, including one of the two plants found only on the island of Barbados. Our guide, John, an Englishman, often referred to the Gully as a place of refuge. He described the area as a shelter for the plants, animals and people of Barbados.  In the past, the Gully had also been used as the shelter for Amerindians traveling throughout the Caribbean. Additionally, the Gully has not always been such because it has been discovered to be  geologically connected to Harrisons Cave. The Gully was therefore formed when the roof of the cave collapsed. This is made evident by the stalagmites and stalactites, a common cave site, while walking through the Gully. The main lesson we took away was that, “Education leads to conservation,” meaning that by learning about the importance of the gully, our class can be part of preservation for future generations.

 

Our next stop of the tour took us to the Springvale Eco-Heritage Museum. At Springvale we were introduced to the couple who ran the museum and also served as our tour guides. The wife, Denyse, is a French-Canadian and the husband, Newlands, is a native Bajan. The museum itself is in a former plantation hours and contains artifacts and antiques from throughout Barbadian history. They showed us various artifacts, furniture pieces, and recounted what life had been like in the “yester-years” of Barbados. We appreciated their attention to detail and passion to not let the stories and daily lives of Bajans be lost to the past.

 

Lastly, we stopped at the Earthworks Pottery. Earthworks is a pottery factory here in Barbados that now distributes its goods throughout the world via online marketplaces. Interestingly, since the island’s soil naturally contains clay, the pottery is made from local clay. An employee showed us the process from the soil clay mixture all the way to the glossy finished product. According to earthworks-pottery.com, there are more than 150 types of shapes and 36 different patterns that make up various kinds of dinnerware and serving pieces. Since the local business has boomed into an international production, the company now employs an impressive staff of 24, which provides a great entrepreneurial venture for the island from a global perspective.

 

Friday, January 9, 2015

 

After we visited Hunte’s Garden (see Blog #1 for more details) we made our way, via bus, to the coastal town of Bathsheba. According to Barbados.com, the name of “Barbados” comes from the Bible and King David’s wife, Bathsheba. The queen would bathe in milk giving her skin a fantastic glow. In the same way, the milky white waves and minerals in the ocean are said to give healing and restoration to people’s skin. The main fishing village in the parish of St. Joseph on the eastern coast also hosts an impressive and rugged coastline with beaches that are lined with obtuse rock formations, majestic cliffs and mighty waves (see picture below). These waves have become iconic around the world for their size and power. One such particular area that draws daring surfers from all over the world is called the Soup Bowl, which has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the #1 thing to do while in Barbados. Inland, we saw several restaurants, bars, hotels and various pop-up eateries along our scenic coastal bus route.

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The vast and rugged coast of Bathsheba hosts white sands, impressive rock formations and some of the world’s best surfing.

Photo Cred: Meredith Stutz junior

 For dinner, our entire class headed over to take part in a national “must see” attraction: Oistins Fish Fry. Oistins is a major fishing community on the south coast of Barbados. At the fish fry, there are several different vendors selling flying fish, swordfish, lobster, marlin and many other varieties of fish in a very casual outdoor setting. Not only do they have delicious and inexpensive fresh fish, but they also have music, dancers, and other local vendors selling handmade crafts and jewelry.

 

Sunday, January 12, 2015

 

This past Sunday the group left the Worthing Court and moved to the Dover Beach Hotel. We also made our way over to the Dover Oval for a cricket lesson taught by a man named Richard. Richard played cricket on a national level for the West Indies. He now coaches at a youth level and serves on the Barbados Sports Council. Cricket is the national sport in Barbados and the most popular sport on the island. Cricket ovals can be found throughout the island. From our own experiences, travels, conversations and research, it’s clear that cricket is a large part of the overall Bajan culture.

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Classmate Nicholai DiBiagio shows the group how to successfully hit during the cricket lesson.

Photo Cred: Meredith Stutz, junior

 Our lesson began with an introduction to the basics of the sport. Richard coached us on how to hold the bat, field, and bowl. Bowling is the equivalent of pitching in baseball, a bowler’s goal is to hit the wickets behind a batter which would end the “at bat.”  After getting caught up on the basics of the sport, we tried out our new skills in a scrimmage of sorts. Each person had a chance to bat (see picture to right) and bowl while the others fielded. This gave us a real-world feel for the sport and how it’s played.

 

When the day was over, we found a new appreciation for the sport and can now understand why it’s widely popular throughout the island and other parts of the world. Having the hands on experience coached by Richard was an amazing opportunity because of his experience and his commitment to young people. Personally we appreciated his patience with teaching 20 Americans how to play cricket for the first time! It will definitely be a trip highlight for us all!

 

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Room Tour!

After a few days of going into town, I decided to hang out around my hall for today. After getting another late start, I packed up some work and went to the Gateway Cafe, which is about four minutes from my building. I had a fantastic lunch of tomato soup and bread and got some work done...and read some of my new book.

How I expect a lot of my time will be spent
Then I headed back to my room to film the video below and do some reading in preparation for my class on Thursday. I found out that because I'm taking Honours classes, I have one seminar each a week instead of lecture and tutorial. Which basically means: a lot of work but a lot of free time to do it in!

I made myself a microwavable Indian dish and spinach for dinner, which was incredibly yummy. Now it's off to Skype Lauren; talking to my best friends makes this all less difficult.


Want to see where I'm living? Here's your chance!


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Starbucks Lovers

(Yes, the title of this post is a reference to the fact that many people, not including me, hear "Got a long list of Starbucks lovers" in Taylor Swift's song, Blank Space. The real line is "Got a long list of ex-lovers." This is what happens when you blog after midnight.)

Today, I woke up late again (maybe one of these days I'll make it out of bed before 10am?) and got breakfast before going into town.
Wearing my new hat I bought yesterday
 I spent a couple of hours at Starbucks and had a tea and a ham & cheese toastie (a warm sandwich) for lunch. Luckily my Starbucks card works over here...so if you're reading this, thanks for lunch Aunt Kathy! (The baristas loved my Eiffel Tower giftcard!) I managed to get two internship applications turned in so I felt quite accomplished.


I went to the library and got two books for my thesis research (St Andrews obviously has a much better selection than Elon does) and a book for my Women in Scotland class. Might as well start reading now, right? 

The Library

I went into Waterstones to pick up Tanya Burr's book. Tanya is one of my favorite YouTubers and I'm so excited to read her book. It wasn't supposed to be out until the 29th but it got to some stores early. The girl had to get my copy out of the box for me because it got delivered just this morning! It's definitely the most beautiful book I've ever owned.

I tweeted this picture and Tanya favorited it!!!
I also stopped at Tesco's on the way home to pick up some more things, including a frying pan. I made some beautiful scrambled eggs with spinach and pancetta (I feel like Giada de Laurentiis every time I say that) for dinner. It went surprisingly well considering it was the first time I'd cooked eggs not under Mom's supervision and the first time I cooked in my new kitchen.


After dinner, I watched a movie on Netflix (UK Netflix has a different selection than US Netflix) and then skyped Alex for 3 hours. The time difference is difficult, but it's good to get to talk to friends back in the US! xx
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Going into Town

Yesterday, I didn't get out of bed until 10am. And in case you can't tell by the time on this blog post, I didn't today either. Oops.

Yesterday, once I was finally up and showered, I headed into town. I practiced the walk to St Katharine's Lodge, where my classes are, and figured out that's it's about 25 minutes. Then I explored a used book store in town, dropped into Boots for a look around, and headed on to H&M.

Did I mention that there's an H&M in the middle of Market Street? I ended up buying a hat that was on sale for 5 pounds that I'm quite in love with. From there, I headed on to a stationary store where I bought notebooks for my classes. I was appalled at how crowded Pret was at 2pm; I had to wait a few minutes to get a table!

My friend, Ali, met me there and after I finished eating, we walked around town. We decided to walk all the way up Market Street, where we ran into the old cathedral and the ocean. Then, we walked all the way down The Scores, enjoying the beautiful views. We found a bookstore on our way back, which we spent a half hour in just admiring their collection. You ought to be proud of me, because I didn't buy anything!
The cathedral was ruined during the Protestant
Reformation  
Poppies on the gate of the cathedral's burial
ground, in honor of WWI  
The view from The Scores 
St Andrews ruined castle
(yes, we have a CASTLE)
When I got back to my room, I discovered that the girl who lives across from me was arriving back. Her name is Frankie and she's from England, but lived in Atlanta for a time. She and her mother were both incredibly nice, which made me feel a lot better about the kitchen situation and the dorm situation, in general.

Last night, my hall had pre-drinks downstairs, which was in all honesty a crazy affair. Ali and I went together and only talked to each other because we were fairly intimidated. Then we headed out to the reception for JSAs (Junior Study Abroad students) which was at one of the bars in the Student Union. It was packed and I discovered that a lot of the people that I'd met thus far had met each other. Is a friend group forming?? I hope so.

In other news, yesterday I watched all of the BBC miniseries Sense and Sensibility...with Dan Stevens as Edward Ferras. I think it might be the first of many watches...



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Goodbyes are hard ….

Elon students and Maryville students say goodbyes (for now) at the Frankfurt airport before Maryville students board for their flight to Knoxville, TN — these students have formed an exceptional community of learners in the past 3+ weeks and plans for visits across the mountains are already underway.
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Video: Carrie’s Book Club January Box


I recently got Carrie Hope Fletcher's January Book Club box in the mail. It's an adorable Peter Pan-themed assortment of items and I wanted to share it with all of you!
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