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.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I've Arrived! (Finally)

     Beginning my journey a little over twenty four hours ago, I am finally all settled in!  I arrived much later than I had planned due to a plane delay.  This key detail caused me to miss my connections in DC and I had to find another way to the UK.  Step in direct flight to Manchester.  NOT East Midlands.  However, I did get here in one piece, sat in the EXIT seat on the plane, paid for a coach to take me to Derby, and finally after a 4 and a half hour bus ride, I arrived and met my host family!

     Why did I take a four and a half hour bus ride?  Well, me, the ignorant American, had no clue that Birmingham was actually south of Derby.  I had to change buses there, but there was no other way.  What's the plus side you might ask?  I was able to see the beautiful English countryside.  I loved seeing all the fields with the antique houses along the Dual Carriageway (or interstate).  Because of my bus journey, I also got to visit a few key bus depots in Stoke on Trent, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Derby, and a few others that I can't remember the names.  I also noticed a mixture of several different people - many speaking a variety of languages.  All in all, I've had an interesting journey so far.  I didn't take too many pictures of my bus ride...I didn't want just a bunch of blurs.  But here are a few key photos from today:

Above is the nifty hand-dryer from the airport.  Why did I choose to capture this moment?  Hey, all you do is stick your hands in, then bam!  dry hands.  Much more efficient than the old ones. 

This here is my coach ticket.  Because my flight was delayed, I had to take a bus to Derby.  This was also my very first purchase in the pounds - quite a memorable moment.

Below is a picture of my new home for the next month:
It's not messy - that's just my computer charger in the middle of the floor.  I'll tell that wonderful story tomorrow!