Monday, May 6, 2013

To Continue...

So sorry to just drop off last night...I was super tired and exhausted from my day of travel!  But I'm back to tell the rest of the story.

Story 2: Nor Loch

So I mentioned in my earlier post about Edinburgh being known as Ol' Reeky?  Well, this is why...

Back before there was a city, the volcano (King Arthur's Seat) ERUPTED!  And lava went everywhere (obviously).  And this lava hardened into rock.  Then, the ice age came along and a large glacier tried to move through the area, but couldn't get past the bit of hardened lava.  So as the glacier melted, the North Lake or "Nore-Lock" (that's how they pronounce it) was created.  Well, then people started to come into the area and settle there and named the town Edinburgh.  They built lots of houses, a castle, and a palace.  But there's a key to this story - there was no indoor plumbing.  So...if you heard "Guardie-Loo!"

Don't look up.

Don't run out your door.

Because...well...they didn't have indoor plumbing.  And so when someone shouted all got thrown out the windows and into the close or alley way below.  Disgusting.  And due to the rain and downward slope of the closes, all of the waste eventually made it guessed it...the NOR LOCH.  NASTY.  At one point in time, the smell was so bad that people in Glasgow could smell it (roughly 40+ miles away).  So that's how Ol' Reeky came to be the nickname for Edinburgh.  But this isn't my whole story.  No, no, I'm just setting you up.  This was just part one.

Part Two:

As you should know from any sort of history class, that at one point in time, people were terrified of anything that had to do with witches.  So mass witch hunts broke out and people were going crazy (over something that didn't really exist, I might add).  The "witches" of Edinburgh were not spared from this hunt either,  Many women were bound hands to ankles and thrown in the...Nor see if they drowned or floated.  If they drowned, then they weren't a witch, but they died anyway.  If they floated, they were witches and were then burned at the stake.  So really, lose-lose situation, eh?  Not that this wasn't awful enough...but I want to point out that they threw women into the NOR LOCH.  THE PLACE WHERE ALL THEIR TRASH AND SUCH WENT.  Gross.  Really an awful way to die. do these two parts really come together in my story?  Let me tell you:

Well, finally Edinburgh had had enough of the nasty lake and decided to drain it.  And drain it they did.  What they didn't expect to find?

Around 800 human skeletons.

From the witch hunt.

You may now run away from the computer screaming in horror.

The End.



Anyway.  We also ate at a lovely little Italian place that served delicious tortellini.  And coke with lemon.  Like I had a lemon slice in my coke.  Very tasty.  And apparently that's completely normal.  I'm going to start doing that when I get back to the US.

After we ate we ran up to the castle to take a couple of pictures and such.  We didn't have enough time to take a tour, sadly, but I still got some pretty good pictures.  And I bought a few things in the gift shop there.  We then made our way back to the train station to head home.

That night I got to stay with a couple who lives in Lanark.

Hopefully this name rings a bell.

I'll give you a hint: Mel Gibson.

If you thought Braveheart, you're correct!  I've never seen the movie (please forgive me), but it was still really neat to be in such a historical place!  (No worries, I plan on watching the movie very soon)

After going to church that morning in Livingston, we headed back into Edinburgh so that I could catch my train back to England.

So what did I do today?

It was bank holiday, and what a beautiful holiday it was.  It was SEVENTY DEGREES AND SUNNY.  Absolutely gorgeous.  So I took full advantage of this and went into Nottingham.  Where I happened upon a festival of sorts honoring a certain day in the 1945 called VE Day or the day that World War II ended in Europe (this actually happened officially on the 7th of May, but I guess they were celebrating early since it was bank holiday?).  How cool is that?  I paid £3 to get in and got to explore!  Many people were dressed in 1945 fashion or in a soldier's uniform.  People were dancing to music of the era, and I was standing in line for some 1945 style ice cream.  Until I was told they ran out of chocolate flavor.  Sad.  I also went inside a mini museum about the 1940s in Nottingham.  So interesting!  I also found out that the city of Nottingham has the most caves out of any city in England, but ALL of them are man-made.  Apparently people used to live in them, too.  I got to explore a few of these caves as well. 

Overall?  Today was a great day.  And I got to eat fish and chips one last time.  Perfection.

Tomorrow, I head in for my last day of student teaching.  I'm excited to teach my lesson tomorrow, but sad that it's my last.  I'm off to put the finishing touches on it now...I'll let you know how it goes!


Picture time!


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Whirlwind of a Week.


I can't believe that I only have TWO days left here in England before I fly back to the US.  This past MONTH has literally flown by.  It really is hard to believe that it's almost over.  I've had an amazing experience here teaching the young minds of the UK.  This past week I taught at least one lesson every day.  I taught wee little year 7's all about how we need to protect our Earth and not pollute the air and sea.  The year 9's also got to learn a little about the growth of key Chinese cities and how urbanization has affected the country as a whole.  For year 10?  We learned all about sustaining the coastal defenses to prevent us all falling into the ocean (...well maybe on a slightly less dramatic scale).  And last, the year 8's continued to analyze UP, and we created a movie poster based on all that we've learned thus far.  This past week was also a different one for year 9 as the school was hosting French foreign exchange students.  I had FIVE of them in one of my lessons.  They were only supposed to take notes on the lesson and what they learned from it, but I'm still not completely sure they understood what I was saying.  Minor details.  I'm sure they knew English, but they didn't volunteer to answer any questions or what not.  Heh.

The weekend has also blown by in a whirlwind.  It was the weekend I wish lasted the longest because I was in Scotland!  I still can't believe how beautiful the city of Edinburgh is.  The Old Town is exactly what I had pictured all of Europe to look like (clearly this isn't the case).  All the buildings in the Old town are stone, and the streets are nothing but cobblestone.  Sigh.  It was lovely.  Taking two tours around the city, I also learned so much about the history.  On the midday ghost tour, I learned that at one point in it's history, Edinburgh made it illegal to be homeless.  Therefore, all those people who were homeless were forced to live down in the vaults underneath the South Bridge.  (It was already haunted at that time because the first person to ever cross it was a corpse was pulled across the bridge by a horse....).  I sadly did not see any ghosts or demons or specters or orbs or anything except a few spider webs, puddles of water, and a stone circle trapping a dark entity (more about that later).  The second tour was of Mary King's Close.  Sorry.  The REAL Mary King's Close.  The tour guide said it was the real one because it was about real people...I think that either a) some people were trying to argue that it was somewhere else or b) they were trying to cover up the fact that all the stories I've heard about it say that when the Black Plague struck Edinburgh the last time, they bricked in the sick in the Close and let the die...their bodies being found hundreds of years later.  Ew, but that's the story.


I also have another story...but it's not as creepy. 

Story:  Wee Little Archie

Once upon a time, in Ol' Reeky (nickname for Ediburgh back in the day...), some people believed that there was an underground tunnel running along the Royal Mile of the city connecting the castle to the palace.  People searched and searched for it, but could never prove that the rumors were true.  Terrible.  Anyway, one night there was a nice party, but obviously some of the guards were not invited to the stately dinner (I'm pretty sure they were guards or something of that memory's a bit fuzzy about it).  And they were down in the dumps, so they had a little too much to drink.  So in this state, they decided that it would be funny to set off 1:00 cannon.  (At 1pm every day, a cannon is fired even now.)  However, it was 1 in the MORNING (just...hilarious...right?).  Well they set it off and the cannon backfired (right wording?) so far (?) that it busted a HOLE IN THE CASTLE WALL.  Well, they knew that this was the end of life as they knew it...they busted a HOLE IN THE WALL.  But when they went up to inspect it, they noticed that this whole led to a tunnel!  THEY FOUND THE TUNNEL TO THE PALACE!  However, the hole was too small for any of them to go through to see if this was true.  So cue Archie, the wee bagpiper.  He was tiny enough to fit into the hole.  They told Archie to follow the tunnel until it ended while continuously playing his bagpipes.  This way they would be able to follow above ground and know where he was.  So off goes Archie into the tunnel.  Bagpipes are playing the whole way until at a certain point....they just stop.  The crew figures that Archie hit a dead end and decided to go back the way he came.  So they head back to the castle....

No Archie.

Still no Archie.


Nope.  No Archie.

So the guards get another wee lad to go explore to find Archie.  The wee lad pops through the hall and immediately comes back up saying that there was no tunnel.  It was just a gaping hole.  With no tunnel.

No tunnel at all.


Where was Archie?

Well, folks, Archie the bagpiper was never seen again.

The weirdest part of this story?  If Archie fell down the hole (which he obviously should have done), why did the guards hear the bagpipes playing almost all the way down the entire Royal Mile?

The end.'s 1 am here.  I'm gonna have to hit the hay for the night - sitting on a train all day can wear you out!  I will finish my weekend tomorrow.  AND post pictures.


Friday, May 3, 2013

The Weekend is Here!

I don't have much time to post at the moment - I have to go catch a train to Scotland!  I will update about my fabulous weekend and week teaching at school when I get back! 

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pictures from Chatsworth and Dovedale!

Sorry I didn't post these last night...either the internet or Google was not working properly and wouldn't let me upload them.  Weird. are the pictures I took yesterday.  Please note:  These are not even the tip of all the pictures I took.  But there's no way I can post all 140 of them here, haha.  These are my favorite ones.

The wind was blowing a little hard.

Inside the courtyard of the stables.

Side of the house.


Back at Chatsworth.


Go Tops!

I found not one but TWO red telephone booths!

Thursday, April 25, 2013


     Sorry for the lack of updates the last few days.  I actually was going to post on Monday........but then got sick.  It was AWFUL.  Not only was I sick, but I was sick in ENGLAND.  The place where the last thing I want to do is not feel well.  However, no worries, I recovered and am feeling LOADS better.  (sidenote: I could hear myself saying all that in a British accent in my head...this country is rubbing off on me.)

     Moving on.

     This past weekend was wonderful.  I studied and such for my praxis tests, and then attended a British dinner party.  My host family had a few of their friends who used to work at the school for the night.  I loved it.  I loved getting to meet so many different people who had a different insight to teaching than we do in the United States.  I also met a woman who used to work in the English department who is originally from Pennsylvania.  Crazy.  You want to know how she ended up here?  After college, she and a friend decided to backpack Europe.  For real.  They traveled EVERYWHERE.  Her friend decided to stay in Greece (AHHH!  GREECE!), and the woman continued on her own until she ended up back in Britain, met a guy, and never moved back to the States.  How cool is that?  She's been just about everywhere it seems, and I was so fortunate as to be able to talk to her about many of the places she went to visit.  For dinner, we ate smoked salmon with some type of cheesy sauce, salad, and buttered bread (this was only the appetizer).  THEN we had chicken malobar (I don't know how to spell that).  But it was chicken and some stuff with some kind of curry on it and then coconut rice.  DELICIOUS.  And dessert?  Apple pie with homemade ice cream or some type of blackberry ice cream cake thing.  I tried both.  WONDERFUL.  I even ate apple pie for dessert on Sunday.  I can't get enough of it.

     Then it was back to the grind on Monday with school.  I enjoyed every bit of it.  I sat in on some different lessons (since this is week 2 of the timetable, they classes are all different for the most part), and found out some important things about British culture:

Britain                       America
Scone------------------Biscuit (in some instances)
Pudding---------------All desserts

     Mind blown.

     Then I didn't have a good Monday night or Tuesday...see the first paragraph.

     BUT on Wednesday, I was feeling much better and went back to school.  And there I got to teach my first geography lesson to a bunch of year 10 students (9th graders).  I loved being able to teach.  The class seemed to respond well to me even though they were probably making fun of my accent behind my back, haha.  In the lesson, we learned about the reasons why we need to protect our coastlines.  In doing so, we talked about the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina.  I even found some pictures to go along.  They especially were interested in the tsunami pictures.  One showed the actual wave coming toward the photographer.  And he wasn't running away.  The kids were stunned by the pictures.

     Today, though, I was going to have a day of absolutely nothing at school.  I had FOUR free periods and then one class.  So, I was able to instead take a trip up to Chatsworth and many other places in Derbyshire.  And it was the only day both Steve and Lorraine could come!  After picking up a friend, we headed drove for an hour.  And finally....we got there.  I can't even describe how beautiful the countryside is.  It literally took my breath away.  And when we got to the house?  My jaw literally dropped.  (I'll post a few pics below, but the rest are on Facebook....I took about 150 or so pictures....I didn't even post all of them on FB.)  Anyway, I'll post a few pics below and be on my way!

     Actually...I'll post them in another post.  The internet isn't cooperating right now....please hold.

Thursday, April 18, 2013


     Whew!  It's been a crazy week so far.  Busy, Busy, Busy! to update you on my most glamorous life in not so rainy and cold England.

     The weather really has been quite nice the past few days.  I was told that it had been quite miserable.  Rainy.  Cold.  Cold.  And really cold.  I don't like the cold.  So why would I choose to go to a place where I knew it rained just about every day and was...cold?  (If you don't know the answer to this question, you don't know me well at all, and I'm not going to give you the answer.  You'll have to figure it out on your own.)


     Back to my original train of thought (I apologize for the scatterbrain moment).  The weather here has been quite nice.  It's been about 50+ degrees Fahrenheit every day when I'm out in town, and I'm very glad it has been!  (I told my host family that it was a good thing I came to town, otherwise spring might have never gotten here! Ha. Ha.)  And it's only rained when I hadn't needed to go out (well, except for this morning.  I'll get to that adventure in a second).  It has been quite windy though.  Heh.  Not so good for tennis (my host-mom plays on a regular basis and hasn't been very happy with that nasty wind).  AND I did have trouble walking at school the other day because the wind was blowing so hard.  BUT that is my only complaint.  I've gotten to wear my scarf and my light jacket (this is a definite plus - these are my favorite pieces of clothing that I own.  Beside my Big Red shirt.  Of course).

     On Monday, like I said before, I followed around a wee year 7 student to all his classes.  And as it turns out, I learned today that I will also be given the chance to teach that class possibly as I'm with them during their humanities lessons for the time that I am here!  They are wonderful.  And they are fascinated with the fact that I'm an American.  I might choose to stay here forever.  I'm practically a celebrity.  One of the girls also told me she wished she was American so that she could have an accent like mine.  Bless.

     However, it's not all sunshine and rainbows.  I've been asked "Miss, can you please say water again?" five BILLION times.  (They love my accent and the way I say 'water'.)

     Tuesday was different as I began my timetable.  I really like the fact that it is different every single day.  Hard to remember what's going on, but my day is always more exciting.  However, Tuesday, Wednesday, and today were all the same as I just sat in on lessons to observe and get used to the students.  So, I feel a little bit useless.  But no worries, that's changing in the morning.  Yes!  I am teaching an English lesson tomorrow to the Year 8 students (7th grade).  They are quite a rowdy bunch, but that doesn't scare me!  I'm quite excited to be teaching again; I've missed it the past few weeks!

     So, to back track,  I know you're all excited about the rain story I hinted at a few paragraphs ago.  This story is quite a nail-biter - you can't say you haven't been warned!  Anyway, I checked my phone yesterday morning as I was getting ready for school to check about rain.  I saw that there was a 30% chance and I panicked.  I didn't bring my umbrella! AH!  So I sped through getting ready, and went to Asda to buy an umbrella.  (side story: I didn't bring my lovely Big Red umbrella because I didn't want the airport security in Nash to think that I was trying to commit some crime with it on the airplane.  I love that umbrella and would probably cry if it was confiscated by the government.  I found out later though that it is okay to bring one with you on the plane...rats.  The end.)  Back to Asda.  I bought the most beautiful umbrella you ever did see.  ...and the cheapest one.  (Mistake.)  But I went on to school.  And it didn't rain on me. (Whew!)

     TODAY.  TODAY it was sprinkling.  I thought it was about to downpour.  So I pulled my oh-so-cute-and-new umbrella out and opened it up.  And...drumroll broke.  Remember that pesky wind I was telling you about?  Well, yeah, it um, was blowing straight at my face as was the sprinkling-almost-downpouring rain.  So I held my umbrella straight out in front of me and the pesky wind plum broke one of the spoke/arm things that holds the contraption up.

     Dead.  My new lovely umbrella is dead.

     Good thing I only paid £5 for it.

     And that's the end of my story.

     I went on to school.  It stopped raining.  It was a lovely day.  (They say lovely a lot here, in case you were wondering.)  Anyway, I feel like this post has been dragging on for ages.  I will now post a few pictures to keep you happy (and it's the real reason you bother to read my blog, I know).  (PLEASE NOTE:  I am an awful photographer.  Please don't judge me or England on my horrible picture taking skills.  I'm mainly talking about the picture of the traffic light and my thumb.  Sorry about that.  Everything else is...lovely.)

Birdhouse I saw in the park.  I don't know what the number means.  I guess it means it's the tenth one in the park?

Brer Rabbit's house.

The old school.  It's now the Mohan Business Center (no clue what that is).  (How cool does this building look?!)

My old grandpa shoes (that I refused to buy in the States).  I'm quite excited about these shoes.  They've grown on me.  They're also British - more appealing.  Hannah, Haven, and Meags - you may now fall over in shock.

Pretty tree!

At the park.

This is a standard traffic light.  And this is a pretty busy one at that.  And usually, it's a roundabout-traffic light combo here in the UK.  The finger is not part of the traffic light.

Pretty willow tree.  (I love trees, sorry.)

The beautiful school that I have the pleasure of working at during my stay!

Monday, April 15, 2013

First Day!

     Today was my first day of school!  The students were excited to be back from their two week break, I'm sure.  Ha.  For the first day, I shadowed a year 7 (sixth grade or 11 year olds) student to all of his classes in order to see what the average day was like for the students.  Like I discovered last week, the schedule is quite different from ours in the States.  Two one hour class periods, twenty minute break, two one hour class periods, fifty minute lunch, one class, then registration (homeroom).  I rather liked it because the students don't have the same classes every day, and their next French or History class might be at a completely different time in the day later on!  However, there is a downside to this.  For example, my year 7 student had French class first thing this morning, but won't have it again until next Friday.

     And by next Friday, I don't mean this coming Friday.  I mean a WEEK from this Friday.

     Some of these students are taking Italian AND French at the same time.  I feel like I might start mixing up my verb conjugations if I was in the same situation.  BUT.  There is a good side.  Students are able to take a variety of different classes AND they can take two languages at the same time.  There is so much wonderful potential for growth and success by organizing the schools this way.  I like the variety, and the switch up of classes because it seems to keep the students more interested in the classes.

     I am very excited to start my timetable in the morning.  Since I will be certified to teach Language Arts and Social Studies in the United States, I will be getting a little of both of these subjects.  However, I will be based in the Social Sciences department, which includes History, Geography, Religion, Psychology, and Health and Social Care.  (I think I might have mentioned that before...sorry!)  Anyway, tomorrow I start off with Psychology - we'll see how this goes! 

I will post pictures tomorrow afternoon - I'm tired and ready to hit the sack!  (I tried British Zumba tonight...whew!)

Friday, April 12, 2013


     Induction in America mainly means to be welcomed or introduced into some special society/club/group.  In England, it probably still means the same thing, but they use it a little differently.  As in today.  I went up to the school for an induction and met with my cooperating teacher and head of department - aka orientation.  They seem very nice, and I am excited to begin working with the Social Sciences department!  Being given a timetable (class schedule) and a booklet to introduce the department (including their Common Core Standards), we explored the little piece of hallway that these teachers call home (sort of).  Ha.  The classrooms are very nice with carpet floors, and most of them have a SmartBoard.

     Anyway, my schedule will be quite different than school in the States.  First, there are only five class periods in a day if you don't include the registration period (homeroom/mentor-ish type time).  Students sit through two one hour classes first thing then take a twenty minute break.  After this, students have two more classes then lunch (which is FIFTY MINUTES LONG.  I'm looking forward to not having to suck my food down in 20...).  After lunch, students have one class then they have registration period, which only lasts 20 minutes.  Then they are finished for the day!

     Oh, I forgot to mention: I will be given the option of tea (ew, sick nasty) or coffee (DE-licious) during break.  I feel like we should adopt these methods in the States.

     ....well wait til we see what I think on Monday; I might not like it.

     After my meeting, I had to go and run a few errands (Yes, I did end up buying The Dark Knight Rises.  I know you all had been wondering [I almost typed y'all...I'm trying to use proper grammar over here so I don't get made fun of even more for my accent].)  I also went and exchanged some money (I feel broke due to the exchange rate).  After this excursion, I bought my train ticket to Scotland.  And then I looked at my bank account.  And my jaw dropped.  [insert mini freak out here]

     I had been told before I boarded my plane to England that everything was more expensive here.  And it is.  Mainly I feel like it is due to the conversion from pounds to dollars.  1 English Pound = 1.5 (give or take) US Dollars.  So, if you spend say, 40 pounds, you actually used about $60.  Or say you bought a 162 pound round trip train ticket and ended up spending almost $300.

     No worries.  I got over my freak out, and I won't be living in a box for the rest of my stay (the Harts wouldn't dare let me - they're wonderful people).  But this was a definite wake up call, and I now have a set budget for the rest of my trip.  I feel very grown up in doing so (you may applaud here...or breathe a sigh of relief, whichever you choose).

     So, I then decided to go back home and not buy this really cute dress I saw in Tesco (if I have enough money at the end of my stay, I'm definitely buying it).  I spent the rest of the day at home working on studying for Praxis, looking up bus times and prices around Britain, ate dinner, and watched two and a half British shows.  These were the soap opera Coronation Street and a show called Broadhouse (the half being their equivalent to America's Funniest Home Videos).  I'm very behind, and have no clue what's going on, but my two host parents did try to explain the plots to me as it went along.  The shows were quite interesting and of course, full of drama (how could a soap opera NOT have drama?).

     Last, I took a few pictures today as I explored town:

So the canal is actually a canal! (I did have some doubts)

British version of Dove chocolate (maybe?).  Regardless, this was not nearly as good as Dove.  And their Twix bars taste differently, too.

Hahahaha, I laughed.

I took this one for Amanda.  She has a love for almost all graffiti.  (meaning we always stop and take pictures of it when we see it)

KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN!  A little piece of home. (I hear there's also a McDonalds not too far surprise there)

Park bench.  Please notice the lion heads at the end of the armrest, thanks.

The duck that swam away from me.

The swan (!) that came to shore and tried to attack me (or so I really was trying to eat the grass?).


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Day Two

     Since the school is on Easter Holiday this week, I don't actually have to do anything with teaching yet.  However, I did have a meeting with one of staff members at the school to come in and do an introduction/tour this afternoon!  I had a lovely time, and the school is a nice clean building beside the canal.  I've included a picture of the school below:

This is also the new campus.  The older one is no longer in use.
(and I probably should have gotten a better angle than the this one with the trash can.  I'll do that soon.)

     Sounds all well and good right?  Those who know me well, though, will know that I got completely and totally lost on the way there.  Getting lost is something I do very well, and today was no exception.  The good thing?  I've found my way around town.  The bad thing?  I was hopelessly wandering around the market place trying to find my way.  I was given wonderful directions, but I seem incapable of being able to follow them in this new little town.  However, I finally went back home to the WiFi and looked it up on the map.  Finally...FINALLY I was able to make it to the beautiful, wonderful school pictured above!

     I really liked my adventure though.  I took a few pictures of some older buildings and church buildings.  I'll put them below.

^ This one was on my way back.  I love the old castle look to the tower.
^ This one looked rather old and decrepit.  However, it said something about a child's daycare or something on the front door...hmmm...
^ I loved this one.  It was surrounded by a stone wall and trees! 

This was on the way to school.  The canal is on the right with ducks swimming in it (mostly fighting over the bread some people were throwing at them).

I would love to eat here at this little cafĂ©, but it's run by young people practicing to be cooks...maybe I should wait? 

This is not a red telephone booth.  I was disappointed.  BUT you can phone, text, AND email from this one.  I'll forgive it for not being a famous red one.

And finally, I found some pictures I forgot to include in yesterday's post:

This is the plane I landed in once I got to DC.  How cool is that?  It was like a movie!

A TWO-way moving floor at the Manchester airport.