Downward Slope

Hi everyone! I know the sudden flood of posts may be jarring, I’m just trying to keep my events straight and up to date. This one is more of a summary of the funk I’ve been in this past week. Tomorrow I will share what broke me out of that funk, but there are only so many hours in a day to write. ❤️🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿🇬🇧

I have a confession to make: the post that you are reading right now is primarily a procrastination effort on my part. It’s also not going to be all sunshine and roses. Our free travel ended on October 23 and we reunited as a group in London. It was jarring to go from luxury and solitude with my mother to chaos and rest stops with our class.

There’s been a shift in the group since we got back from free travel. For one thing social dynamics have changed to my sudden shock. There’s been some subtle tension between people that I’ve been totally unaware of until recently, and this has resulted in many splintered tribes rather than one cohesive whole. At first I was disappointed, but it is the nature of humans to form tight packs. Many of us have formed deep friendships prior to embarking on this semester and it’s only natural to stick to those we know. I tend to be a more solitary person so I’ve spent part of the last week in isolation. Independence is good, but not at the expense of necessary socializing, so it’s still a process of finding a new balance.

Because I’ve been more isolated this last week, I’ve been writing a lot more and rediscovering my old work. The downside is none of what I want to write is assigned school work. I want to watch the entire filmography of Cillian Murphy and devote a review series to him (Murphy Monday will start when I get back) instead of reading our Victorian novel or writing a paper on literary Modernism. It’s a balance between pursuing my own interests and staying on top of my assignments. Many of my classmates are also starting to feel a decline in focus and motivation, but we band together to commiserate and encourage one another and press onward.

Today I cried two different times in the space of a few hours in Starbucks. One of my classmates has suggested a Thanksgiving meal in the next week, and the homesickness twists like a knife in my heart. I am sure the actual event will be fun and heartwarming, but I don’t appreciate the reminder that I cannot spend a favorite holiday with the people I love most. I let many tears fall and I let myself be comforted by true friends. I was homesick and homework-weary, but also reminded of the people I can lean on.

It hasn’t been the easiest week of the trip by any stretch, but I’ve been able to lean on those around me I know I can trust, and find comfort in balancing productivity and pleasure. As I continue the journey, I look forward to practicing trust and balance and independence, ever growing and evolving. Onward. ❤️🇬🇧

Florence-A Week of Nourishment

Hello! It’s been over a week since I last posted a blog, so I’ve got some catching up to do. For the week of the 14-23, I was in Florence with my mother and it was objectively the most amazing, relaxing, inspiring week of the trip.

For starters, this is the view from our apartment window. We look over the Arno River right on the Ponte Vecchio, the classic old bridge.

Not to mention the two incredible walking tours. We had an overview of the city with Gian and an in-depth exploration of Michelangelo’s David in the Accademia. Our tour with Gian ended up being just us and we got to know him quite well. He was incredibly charming as well as knowledgeable. We shared our Accademia tour with a lovely older couple from Oklahoma and we were led by an earnest young man named Duccio. It was so refreshing to be in a small group. We got more personalized tours and got to ask in-depth questions based on what particularly interested us.

Yes I chose my full shot of the David, but of course a photo doesn’t do it justice.

This is the Duomo, the ancient innovative cathedral. This particular shot is just one lucky instance of many views of the majestic facade. The peak of the dome serves as a beacon to the whole city-one can never be lost in sight of it. We didn’t get a chance to go inside, but it was lovely to see it from all different angles and times of day.

We took a day trip out to Cinque Terra and had a wonderful time exploring the scenery and making new friends. We spent a majority of our day with a lovely artist couple from South Carolina and got to know people from Austria as well. Love of Florence is international. We also hiked from Corniglia to Vernazza, which was lovely. I walked hand in hand with my mother over the uneven terrain, and the silence allowed time for true reflection and meditation.

We went to the San Lorenzo leather market and each picked up some lovely items. I held my new russet satchel and felt more put together and professional than ever.

One cannot write an account of traveling in Florence and neglect describing the increíble food. We found a lovely restaurante by our apartment called Signor Vino and ate three of our five dinners there. We had roast beef with chicory and steak with vegetables and an excessive amount of tiramisu. The rich food

As we toured Florence, the high-end options available to me have inspired me to take meal planning into my own hands. I’ve been compiling a comprehensive list of meals to prepare when I get home, to an obsessive level. Part of it is that planning is a form of creativity for me and part of it is a desire to have control over what I am eating.

My week in was one of the most amazing weeks of my entire trip. It was amazing to be with my mom again, in one apartment for an entire week, and eating amazing food. I cherish my time in the magical city and look forward to the second half of my journey. Onward!

The Scenic Route

Hi! It’s been a few days but I’m still healthy and busy. We left Coniston on Saturday the 7th and made our way to Stratford, stopping in Haworth to see the Bronte Parsonage (I’ll write an entire separate post on that later). The first morning in Stratford I attempted to go to Starbucks for a quick cup of coffee before breakfast and ended up on a ridiculous adventure.

First I walked way too far past my turn, and that took me to the town square. At the town square there are four different directions. I made the mistake of going down the wrong one in an attempt to retrace my steps from the walk I had gone on with friends the previous night

The entire time I had been walking through Stratford without sunglasses. In any other English town this wouldn’t be a problem because it would be gray and rainy, but we were lucky enough to wake up to a cold but sunny morning in Stratford. Before I left I had figured the sun would remain low enough that I wouldn’t need them. I was wrong, so I was half blind for my whole trip. Once I was safely back in the house, I realized my sunglasses were in fact in my jacket pocket.

Eventually I got to Starbucks only to find out they didn’t open until 8! I was annoyed but I figured I might as well stop at the grocery store across the street to pick up some snacks and use their ATM. I wandered through the store and didn’t find what I wanted. Only when I was walking out did I realize I had brought my purse but forgotten the fanny pack that actually had all of my money. Right about then it hit me that I was lost, without money, half-blind, and cold. Right about then I started to panic

First things first I tried to get on WiFi to get directions. That didn’t work so I texted my teacher and a friend and let them know I was stranded. Then I started walking, looking in vain for anything remotely familiar. I stopped a biker and a few passersby to ask for directions and no one was much help. Eventually I circled back to the Starbucks and they were open! I got the coffee I was after and used their WiFi to sort it all out. My teacher called me and I let her and my friend know I was alright. I got directions and got back to the house in time for breakfast.

Overall it was a rather stressful way to get to know the town, but it taught me how to handle a crisis alone and keep my cool. I was proud of myself and relieved when it was over. I’m glad it happened here because I’d rather get lost in a small friendly town like Stratford as opposed to a giant city like París or London. With a better grasp of navigation, I’m excited to keep exploring this idyllic town so stay tuned!

Bon Voyage 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 E