And the 19th year begins…

10 Feb

First of all, thanks to everyone for the birthday wishes last week. I don’t feel a day over 11. Ok, maybe not, but I do feel young when I think about how many of my friends are in their 20s now. Wait…that actually makes me feel old.

Since the last update, I’ve taken a few trips to places across Sussex, which means: pictures!

Seven Sisters -Taken from a park on the coast which is home to the Seven Sisters, a famous cliff formation. It was really beautiful, especially when the sun was shining on the white cliffs. And the geology of the place was fascinating. (I also took a brief video with my camera, which you can watch here — wait until it loads fully before playing — I was trying to do a panorama but the tide was coming in and got my feet wet while I was filming)

Lewes – The next town over, just to the east of here. I went with my Historical Geographies class, and we went up to the top of the 11th century Norman castle for a great view of the town. Then we went off on our own to investigate different locations — I was assigned a particular church, which houses the remains of the castle’s original lord and his wife, but it wasn’t open. I might go back tomorrow…

Arundel Part I – A town in West Sussex, another of the Norman castle cities. The castle here, however, is infinitely more impressive than the ruins in Lewes. Combined with a big neo-Gothic cathedral, the town has an awesome skyline. Really cool place to visit.

Arundel Part II – A few more pictures from the Arundel area, mostly Amberley, a small village just to the north (we managed to take the train there and back without paying :)). The village centre is a bit distant from the train station, so we didn’t make it there, unfortunately — I believe there are thatched roof cottages. I’m definitely planning on filling up more of this album later, because the castle doesn’t open until next month. I’ll be back.

I love traveling. I’m currently working on finalizing my plans for Spring Break. At the moment my planned schedule looks something like this:

March 17th – 26th — touring Wales on my own. I had wanted to do a guided tour, but I don’t think that’s going to work out. But this way, I’ll have a lot of time and I’ll be able to plan everything myself. A daunting task, but I’m excited about it. My general itinerary will be something along the lines of: Cardiff -> Brecon Beacons -> Pembrokeshire Coast -> Snowdonia (via Aberystwyth) -> Caernarfon and Conwy -> back to Cardiff through various villages in the Welsh countryside

March 28th – 30th — Amsterdam. Not really into the nightlife and all that, I just want to check it out and hopefully meet my Dutch friend. Already have my flight booked and hostel reserved. 🙂

March 30th – 31st — Brussels. Just going to see the city and enjoy the chocolate.

March 31st – April 6th — Probably going to Dusseldorf, Germany – staying with a friend. Hopefully exploring the area a little bit. I also have a friend near Charleville, France, whom I will hopefully also get to visit. If I have time, I’d also like to see a bit more of Belgium, as well as Reims and Verdun in France.

April 7th – April 9th — Paris. Visiting Rachel (Wong) and hopefully going to Easter mass in one of the cathedrals. Should be great.

April 9th – April 16th — Auvergne and the Alps. I haven’t made any reservations yet, but I really should very soon…I think it might be a big vacation week in France. Hopefully I’ll be going to Auvergne with Rachel for a couple of days (I really want to hike / go to the top of le Puy de Sancy), but then I’m off to the Alps on my own. I haven’t planned my itinerary yet, but I’d like to visit Chamonix and Briançon, eventually western Switzerland (I’m not venturing into German-speaking territory), ending up in Geneva.

April 17th — Flying back to London from Geneva. I still need to book accomodation, but since the hostels are a little more pricey in Geneva, I’m considering couchsurfing

I’ll get back to Sussex just in time for my first seminar of the “summer” term. 🙂

Since I’m really making full use of my Spring Break, I’m actually a little worried about getting the tickets for the International student trips during the summer term — they go on sale on April 16th, and if last time was any indication, they could easily be sold out of at least one trip by the next day! I hope that’s not the case, because I’m really looking forward to going to the Isle of Wight, Canterbury, and Hastings.

As for other trips across the UK… the Oxford trip is February 24th and the Bath / Stonehenge trip is March 3rd. I’m definitely planning a trip to the Lakes District during May sometime, and a 5-day tour of Scotland in June, shortly before I come home. In fact, I’ll have quite a bit of free time in May and June since I won’t really have any classes then, but I can’t travel constantly — I need some time to study for my exams. :p

I *think* I’ll know the dates of my exams shortly before Spring Break starts, which should give me ample time to make my reservations for May and June. Other places I’d like to go: southwestern England – Devon, Cornwall, Dorset, etc… I’m interested in seeing Dartmoor and Exmoor; Stratford-upon-Avon; Cambridge; Rye (by recommendation…and not to be confused with the one in New Hampshire, which is near Portsmouth); *maybe* the Peak District, East Anglia (Pilgrim home country), or Northumberland…we’ll see.

I’m also hoping to take the ferry from Newhaven to Dieppe sometime, and exploring Normandy and Brittany. I might even visit my French teacher in Tourraine eventually… *And* I might go back to Provence with the other USCers here, which I’m excited about.

How the hell am I going to afford all this? Does anyone need blood? Or a kidney? …two?

I have dropped my plans to visit Norway. I don’t think I’ll be able to live with myself when I go home, because I’ll have to wait even longer to see the fjords, but it would be kind of expensive (unlike all my other trips…?), stressful to plan, and I’d be a little concerned about not speaking an inkling of Norwegian. Someday, though… *sigh* I guess in the meantime I can just look at pictures of fjords…

Ok, now that just makes me want to go even more. 😦

If anyone has advice about places to go / things to see during my trips, please let me know!

In other news, I witnessed a bit of drama last night on the bus. I was sitting on the top deck, and there were a bunch of English teenage boys in the back, who started shouting at each other all of sudden. There was a fight going on. One of them was accusing another of being a bad friend, with various curse words involved…and some violence. They were really making everyone on the bus feel uncomfortable and, honestly, a bit frightened. I was worried that they were going to hurt each other…they had beer and it was obvious they’d been drinking. All in all, it was quite dramatic. There were death threats.

The driver did stop the bus at one point and came upstairs to tell them to keep it down, but they didn’t heed his words for very long. Eventually, one of them must’ve hit another and caused him to spill his beer, because I saw and felt some land on me. But the person who got the most beer on her was a young French woman sitting a couple rows behind me.

At that point, she had had enough, stood up and starting telling the kids off and telling them how childish they were. I was glad that she had the courage to do that. The kids didn’t react too much, but some of them got off at the next stop, all the while shouting death threats back to their “friends.” The rest of the kids actually got off with us at the university…apparently they were looking to get drunk, if they weren’t already. One of them was taking a leak through the fence along the sidewalk.

Sodding retarded kids. Although it seems like drinking is a much bigger problem here than back home. It is rather annoying to hear drunk people in the hall every night/morning (they party EVERY night).

At any rate…

I’ve been in a bit of a musical dry spell lately…I’ve just been using the random feature in iTunes rather than listening to a particular collection of recently downloaded songs, like I usually do. I suppose I’ve listened to a lot of my songs *too* much. So before I can revisit them and enjoy them as much as I did initially, I need some recommendations for music. If you know me, you probably know that I have a somewhat ecclectic taste in music, but I’ll give anything a chance as long as it’s not too heavy.

Before coming here, I had been listening to René Simard and Isabelle Boulay quite a bit. I’ve already shared some of their songs on here, but I’ll add a few more for those of you who like French (Canadian) music. As for the young René, there’s “L’amour, c’est compliqué” (“Love is Complicated”), a French take on “Love Will Keep Us Together,” sung with Pierre Lalonde. As for the older René, two duets with his sister Nathalie: “Tous les enfants du monde” (when Nathalie was still quite young), and “Tout si tu m’aimes“, when they’d become quite a popular duo. There’s also a video on youtube (uploaded by Chantal Mandeville, the #1 Simard fan) of his performance of “Papa on s’ennuie de toi” back in 1974 (my lawd, the clothes). I think it might be a translation of an American song, but I’m not familiar with the original. I’m sure it sounds better in French anyway. 🙂

As for ma chère Isabelle, here are a few good songs: “J’ai mal à l’amour” (live duet with Laurence Jalbert), “Depuis le premier jour“, “Hymne à la beauté du monde“, “Jamais assez loin“, and “C’était l’hiver” (interpretation of the Francis Cabrel song).

Let me know if you’re interested in hearing any other songs from these two.

I have been to listening to “J’en ai marre” by Alizée quite a bit for some reason. There’s also a rather infamous video of a performance of this song, with all her…gyrations…

Alizée – J’en ai marre

*toux*putain*toux*

If you’d like another beautiful French singer, though, perhaps Vanessa Paradis will do (Johnny Depp’s wife)…I found a duet performance of “Si Maman si” with Muriel Robin (not quite as beautiful) on youtube, at some kind of tribute for Line Renaud (singer of “Ma cabane au Canada”). Here’s the link:

Si Maman si

(the song begins at 0:40)

If you’d like a downloadable version of the song, the only one I have is the original by France Gall, who has a terrible voice IMO and can’t really sing that well, but the song is still nice.

There’s also an interesting French-Canadian song that I’ve discovered recently, which I find poignant for a number of reasons, called “Dégénération” by Mes Aïeux. They do sing with strong Canadian French accents, though (which is an acquired taste, I suppose). But you can watch the music video on youtube (with somewhat lousy English subtitles) here:

Mes Aïeux – Dégénération

The other song that I’ve been listening to recently is “Et mon père” by Nicolas Peyrac (French), which has quite a nice and catchy melody. Give it a listen!

In my last update, I mentioned peekvid — my source of American television. Unfortunately, it’s down at the moment, although I have been able to find shows on youtube (E.R.), dailymotion (24, Heroes, House, Lost) (interestingly, since dailymotion is a French site, a lot of the shows are subtitled in French), and other random places (Scrubs). The only downside is that it usually takes a few days for the shows to be uploaded…but it’s certainly better than nothing.

The last episode of Scrubs I saw (the one from Kelso’s POV) was hilarious. 24 is dropping bombshells all over the place (no pun intended), and it’s great fun to watch. Heroes just dropped a big one too, and it’s getting more and more interesting by the episode. I’m already looking forward to the second season — there’s no way they can’t renew it.

I found the new Lost episode on dailymotion, but the third part was completely out of synch, so I couldn’t watch it. I have no idea how it ends! 😦 I need to find a working video pronto. My heart was practically racing during the episode, and it was interesting to have a look into Juliet’s past. House wins as usual, although I’ve also been watching some of the old episodes that I missed, so now I sometimes get the storylines criss-crossed in my mind. :p And E.R. has been good too. I like my shows. 🙂

I think that does it for now. I need to eat supper, see if I can find any more episodes online, work on my travel plans, and eventually work on my Historical Geographies project.

Sorry for another long update…I’ll try to be a little more frequent, I guess. I think what we need is a linguistics-related post (or several) soon. Stay tuned.

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