Friday, January 11, 2013

Wales Part One: Aberystwyth

Happy Friday everyone!!!  I decided that for the next couple weeks, I'm going to be telling you guys all about the month I spent "studying" abroad in Wales, in the United Kingdom! So here goes Part One of Fly Away Friday...
The summer after high school, my two best friends and I set off on what was to be our first big adventure- with our newly graduated freedom!  We all signed up for a course in Wales, taught by our very favorite professor, Professor Wicks, who we all had for the History of Rock and Roll (real class) and for English 102.  He was easy with the 4.0's and a ton of fun. Plus, he wore yellow clogs and tall socks every day!  And had a life size cut out of Elvis in his office.

In June of 2005, I didn't "believe" in digital cameras.  Yeah, I know, I was so high and mighty!  I liked the surprise of disposable cameras, and even though I'd have to carry about 20 of them throughout the trip and then pay to have them all developed, that's just what we did!  I learned my lesson later that summer though, when Tim and I took a trip down Highway 1 and Tim got his digital photos right away, and since I didn't want to ay for 20 more cameras to develop, I didn't get to see my photos for months!
Anyways, I apologize in advance for the crappy quality of all these pictures.  Like I said, they're just scans of disposable camera pictures!

Because we were there for so long and I have so much to write about, I'm going to break this up into a bunch of posts.  Today, I'll talk about Aberystwyth (pronounced Ab-er-ist-with), where we were headquartered at!  We all technically took a class at the University of Wales with our professor, which met three times a week and left the weekends free for traveling.  Honestly, I couldn't tell you what the class was even about (Literature of History of Wales I think??).  I went most of the time, but all I remember was that the seats were so tiny that I was claustrophobic and that our professor was obsessed with Dylan Thomas, the famous poet who drank himself to death.  And, there was that one time when Tim wrote me a letter that got delivered to Professor Wicks, and he gave it to me during class while saying, "If I'd known you were going to tell all your secrets to this Tim fellow, I wouldn't have let you come on this trip!"
We all stayed in flats right along the water.  On a clear day, you could actually make out Ireland across the channel!  Super neat!
Aberystwyth was a tony town, a lot like Port Townsend (if you're from the area and know it).  The first few days we were bored, mostly because we were giddy thinking about our upcoming trips to London and Scotland and Liverpool, and the most fascinating thing we could find to do in Aberystwyth was to go to the local college library and sign up for accounts to email our friends and family back home. 
The library was awesome sauce though!  It was three times bigger than you see here, and we made friends with one of the workers there, who taught us how to speak a little Welsh and was incredulous that we didn't plan on spending our vacation studying. 

Every morning that we weren't traveling, we walked the 15 minutes up to the library to email our families, and I emailed Tim.  We had been dating for a couple months at this point and I missed him so bad!
The architecture was gorgeous.  Above was where we took our course, and below is just one of the many gorgeous buildings in the town. 
They also had this cool sign :)
And sweet castle ruins!
They also had public restrooms all over the UK that you paid a very small sum to use.  I wish we had them in the US more often!  I would gladly pay a nickle to use a decent bathroom while out and about!
Since we were staying in a flat, we had a fill kitchen to use, and since Malena and I eat enough for 20 people each, we were at the grocery stores a lot!  Us 17/18 year selves were highly amused by these sausages....
... and were delighted to find Washington Red Apples in the big market in town!  No picture though!

But now it's time for the story about how we almost died.  We went trekking around the city alone again, like three little girls should in foreign countries, and stumbled along a hiking trail along the water, so of course we had to go along!  Eventually, we were at the top of this big rocky hill above the rocky ocean, and thought it would be a good idea to run down the hill to see the cool sediment rocks below (geology nerds).  So I ran ahead, lied and told the other two it was fine, and we all started down the hill. 
But halfway down we realized there's no way to stop!  It sounds a lot less scary than it was, but the little rocks just kept going and going, there was no dirt underneath that we could reach, and none of us were able to get footing!  We just kept going faster and faster down the hill!  Eventually I reached a giant rock that we could all grab onto, seeing as the rock hill ended in a big cliff at the bottom.  When we were all on the big rock, realizing we were going to have to find a way to jump off the really big cliff or stay stranded, we finally got down to the beach, completely freaked out.  But then the rocks on the beach were super cool, so you know, worth it.




There was also the time I found a bunch of pounds laying on the street when Malena and I were taking a walk, so we went on a little shopping spree :)
We also won a karaoke contest!  Well, only because Malena and I were the back up singers.  But still!
 Anyways, Aberystwyth turned out to be lots of fun!  I wasn't 18 yet during the trip, so I wasn't technically allowed to drink.  Thankfully, I was never carded except for one time.  There was a small "club" by our flat that we tried to go to once.  Usually there was only a handful of people there, and it was next door to the bar where we all usually hung out (and won karaoke contests).  Well the first time we tried going, there happened to be a long line out front, and the security guard walked down the whole line and then asked to see my ID!  And then we got turned away because I was 17.  Boo hoo, but they let us in every other time!

I'll leave you with a handful of other photos from around town
My favorite, Malena down there with some gorgeous rock formations!
Lindsey groovin!
Me and some person in our class!
Malena and I in our flat!  I have a face mask on, that's why my face is so shiny!
Firemen!
Our kitchen!
Girls from our class!

Anyways, the trip was amazing, and next Friday I'll tell you more about our adventures in Wales!

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