Remember that blog I was writing? Yeah, I forgot too. Let me tell you why.

Long time no see!

The last time I put finger to keyboard for the sake of this blog we were just starting official classes.  Now, we just passed our midterm week and break so it’s fair to say a little bit of time has passed (half the term actually). In the meantime I pretty much forgot about this little blog here, chiefly because of all the other plans and projects that took up most of my waking hours the past month or so. Since that last blog I’ve traveled quite a lot, did a lot of schoolwork (wasn’t expecting that were you?!), and met some pretty interesting characters along the way. Here’s a bit of a taste, and my sorry version of an excuse, for what has kept me preoccupied the past 4 or 5 weeks.

About 2 weeks ago I found myself trudging through the docks of Dublin Port, fresh off the ferryboat and raring for a little adventure, when I realized an odd pattern within my travels up to that point. Rather, it was more like a checklist of situations that I would inevitably find myself ticking off in rapid succession at some point in time. Here’s the basic structure I worked out for myself:

  1. You have (insert number less than 25 or 0) amount of currency
  2. You have been walking for (insert number greater than 3) hours already
    • Or alternatively: walked (insert number greater than 5) miles already
  3. You are (insert number greater than 4) miles away from your destination
  4. You have (insert number less than 20) % battery life left
  5. You have (insert number equal or less than 2) hours of daylight left

To varying degrees this is basically the rundown summary of every major trip I’ve taken so far. In Wales I ended up dreadfully lost in the Brecon Beacons National Park. The rundown in that one being I was (at that point) about 10 miles into a hike through the hills, had a swollen IT band,  took a wrong trail, trekked through herds of sheep, ended up in someone’s farm, ended up hopping fences through fields while the cows lazily acknowledged my existence with a few “moos,” got lost along the hedgerow one-lane streets taking me back to town, failed to make the last bus running (it was a Sunday so they stopped running early), talked to some exceedingly nice locals who managed to help me get the last taxi in town back to the train station (which was about 15 miles away), and managed to catch the last train back to Cardiff by 11pm… rather unorthodox, not planned out very well, potentially disastrous, and something I found myself repeating to some extent in Scotland and Ireland; but totally thrilling and worth every second. In terms of the whole “man vs wild” thrill of an adventure that comes from trying to make the most out of limited resources, I think I understand a bit more why people do far more extreme versions of this.

When it comes down to it, studying abroad becomes an odd amalgam of sights, sounds, and experiences.  Pictures and those selfies don’t capture the wind in your hair or the foreign looking street signs or the assorted mix of tourists and locals milling about their lives. I’m incredibly aware that so many little experiences that are commonplace to me at this point (scanning into the tube, paying with coins, etc.) will be beyond my memory after only a few days of being back in Seattle. I wonder sometimes, and this goes for all traveling, to what extent these experiences shape our lives; if we can’t remember how all of these little moments pan out are they really collectively shaping or do we only pick out through happenstance individual stories to hold onto?

Speaking of little stories, one story of when we were in Scotland struck an interesting and thrilling chord. It took 30-odd American students, a bunch of Scotsmen, and a well-used karaoke machine. A group of 40 or so of students from the program and I went up to Scotland last week and ended up in this little town called Oban on the western coast of the highlands. That night most of us headed to one of the local places rumored to have a fantastic karaoke setup.  When we arrived there were maybe a dozen Scotsman milling around and staring dubiously at this large contingent of clearly American students. The awkward silence continued and we retreated (to the extent 30 people can in a tiny place) into the back corner. As I walked in one local looked me dead in the eye, stuck out his hand, gave me a toothy grin and said in a distinctly highland brogue, “Heya there mate, what brings ya up to these here parts?” After a few introductions Jack turned into one of the most conversational, expletive, and exuberant men I’ve ever met, let alone in the middle-of-nowhere Scotland. We caught on nicely and he absolutely couldn’t believe he’d ever meet someone from Seattle out there in Scotland. He was giddy with excitement that some Americans were in town, and that he “won the powerball a few times” to be lucky enough to be at the one place in town we all showed up in. I was surprised to say the least, I thought we students would have seemed pretty obnoxious to the locals to which he answered (with some heavy censoring for this blog) “I hear the same bloody eejiots singing the same bloody songs every night. You Americans are gonna light up the place!” We did exactly that as two friends of mine shattered the proverbial glass by starting off the night with “Baby Got Back.” After that pretty much everything was on the table and, once the locals stopped shaking their heads, the group’s favor quickly swung to our side. As the place filled up, it became steadily more and more boisterous with this huge sing-along filled with raw throats, a bunch of dancing Scotsmen, and a troop of Americans leading the chant alongside tunes including “Piano Man,” “Let it Go,” Don’t Stop Believing,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” and “Livin’ on a Prayer.” Not bad for a bunch of ‘youths’ in Scotland huh?

I have about a 6 weeks or so left here in England and it is already apparent November will go by incredibly fast.  Lots of friends are dropping by, others are already here, and many other loose ends all need tying up in a relatively short time. Hopefully I won’t forget about this blog in my next set of adventures but if I do, I swear I had a good excuse for it (just like last time). In any case, I’m back to find some more stories and adventures and I’m wishing you all the best for your own.

Cheers!

-Ian

Actually in London and pretending like I’m not as awkward as I was at the beginning of high school

Sitting on a plane bound for Reykjavik, I am trying to focus on this blog post while also listening to some podcasts my sister recommended for me. How this will turn out will be interesting.  In any case after much distress and frantic emails, my course schedule is finally nailed down.  I’ll just say I’m taking some social science and humanities courses because I don’t think writing about my future classwork is particularly interesting, for you or for me. I’ll be sure to relay anything particularly interesting or vaguely entertaining here if and when it comes up.  Moving on!

–              –              –              –              –              –              –              –             –

Alright with a more articulate, less confused, and non-jetlagged head on my shoulders, I’m continuing this post about six days after those flights. We’ve already done a lot, mainly touristy things so far, like a London bus tour, London Eye ride, and a trip out to Hampton Court. And that has only lent more evidence to this blatantly obvious but crucially important fact: London is MASSIVE. Like big. Really big. I’ve been to New York City a few times, LA two times, and other ‘big’ cities but this is a whole different level of huge.  At the top of the London Eye I couldn’t see the end of the city in any direction, there is at least 4 stories of buildings on every block, and every street is packed with people-whether that be on the sidewalk, on the road, in the tube or on the bus. London is BIG. However the real news of the last few days: we’re all awkward freshman. Remember that time at the beginning of a new school when you didn’t know anybody around you and you also knew that nobody else knew anyone else either? And I don’t mean freshman year I mean those first two weeks of school of freshmen year. That’s essentially what’s happening all over again here which is both fantastic, hilarious, and obnoxious (just like those high school freshman days right? Good ole’ days). Fantastic because it forces people to open up, hilarious because we’re all painfully aware how much like high school this is, and obnoxious because…I mean, do any of you want to relive those first two weeks of freshman year of high school? If your answer to that is a “yes” please comment below so we all can figure out your secret to navigating such awkwardness for the future. This is also an interesting happening because for me this is the third time in as many years that I’m starting school in a new place with a new group of students. First it was to the University of Portland, then to Seattle U, and now here with IES in London. So that’s been some interesting food for thought…Well! because of all of this, and all of this orientation stuff (yeah, like freshman year…seeing a pattern?) time has been very sparse; we’ll see about how much time I can carve out for blogging so sorry for the sporadic posts!

In any case our classes are actually starting tomorrow which will be a weird back-to-the-real-world check. We’ve been on summer break for a while and now being in London this almost feels like a continuation of that vacation-that’s a fantasy that needs to be broken quickly in the next few days honestly. There’s still much to do in the meantime (like planning more adventures!) so I’ll have to leave this for now. And with the sun setting over the horizon and the spires of St. Pancras taking center stage in the picture frame that is my window, Ian is getting back to it all!

Until next time

Cheers

-Ian

London bound and pretending like I know how to blog about it

IES-Study London Program

Hey all!

For those who don’t know me, my name is Ian Hajnosz (don’t try and pronounce the last name, it’s hard I know) and I am a Junior here at SU. I’ve been lucky enough to travel to many different places, particularly in Europe, so hopefully some of those travel chops will pay off in my first truly long term solo excursion. Here follows an account of my time heading to the UK-specifically the capital and cultural hub of the British Isles, London. Where this little blog of adventures goes I haven’t got the faintest clue, there could be anything ranging from trips, visits with old and new friends alike, to little observations from a street corner. I admittedly have no idea but hey, that’s why I’m trying this British adventure and, possibly, the reason why you are reading this blog post right now. Topping that off I have never written anything remotely close to a blog before so I’ll probably be breaking some unspoken rules of internet writing (if that’s even a thing- I mean, it is the internet). So in essence, expect everything and nothing from this written record of my time in the UK. So, let’s give this thing a go shall we?

Alright, so here we go then, the pre-trip organization of thoughts. I’ve been in the UK once before, I spent part of a summer in high school with a few hundred international students at the University of Oxford. Because of that I have an odd variety of friends speckled throughout the UK, most are international students who have chosen to attend “uni” over there. For that reason alone I am beyond excited to see them again after three years. So I have some grasp on how the place works. Well, the small city of Oxford at least. But I know a few things I swear! A pound is the same as a quid as well as being that weird measuring system those ridiculous Americans decided to adopt. A stone is roughly 14 pounds and is also that thing people chuck at the opposing team’s fans. A line of people is also the letter Q. Telephone booths are the easiest way to spot tourists. Regardless if it even has blood in it or not, everything can be bloody if you say it loud enough. Football is that sport that involves kicking a ball with a foot(…simple enough right?). “Lift” is a noun now (not a verb) and not used in a questionable, dubious fashion to ascertain if somebody does or does not work out. So no matter how much I weigh, I can use my pounds to buy a ticket to an non-confusingly named sport so that I can throw a measuring system at the annoying visiting fans but only after I’ve spent enough time sifting through the alphabet for a single letter so that I can use a verb to get to my seat. It is an English speaking country so that shouldn’t be a problem (they literally developed the language for Pete’s sake)….right?

In any case, I’m actually still working out academic coursework still so that’ll be revealed later but I will be dabbling a lot into the social sciences and humanities it looks like. But that’s enough for this intro, I haven’t even left yet! So in the meantime, keep on smiling for me and I’ll see you in the next post!

Cheers,

-Ian

Royal Baby and Finals

It seems surreal that this week marks my final week in London. This past week was spent preparing for finals, being sick, and taking a weekend trip to Ireland. Ireland was absolutely gorgeous and I am looking forward to going back there sometime soon. While in Ireland, everybody kept checking their phones to see if the royal baby had been born. Luckily, the baby decided to wait for us to get back into London.
I was in my apartment studying with some friends when all of a sudden, somebody announced that Kate had a baby boy. Almost immediately, my friend Kimberly and I made our way over to Buckingham Palace to see the official announcement. There was a massive crowd of tourists, locals, and media outlets there to celebrate the birth. Kimberly and I waited through a long, warm line of people to see the announcement. Unfortunately, the text was very small, so we couldn’t see much. However, being in the atmosphere was absolutely incredible. Everybody seemed to be celebrating. Even some of the landmarks showed blue lights to honor the new baby. The night ended with getting caught in a thunder and rain storm. Overall, my last week is starting to look incredible!

Colleen

Tips for Success in London

After living in London for a month now, I feel as if I have gotten a better grasp on the differences between life in Seattle and life in London. I have compiled a list of tips to help future visitors not stick out as a tourist.
1. Always stand on the right on escalators in tube stations. The left side of escalators are for people in a hurry that want to walk down the escalators. If you block a rushed Londoner’s way, it is likely that they will get frustrated.
2. Speak quietly while on the tube. It is very easy to spot Americans on the tube because we are usually the ones having loud conversations. Londoners, in general, speak much quieter than Americans. Therefore, you should try to keep your voice at a quieter level.
3. Personal bubbles do not exist in London. When you have to take the tube during rush hour, it is likely that you will be squished between multiple people.
4. Ask for tap water in restaurants. If you want to avoid paying for a pricy bottle of water in a restaurant, ask the waiter to bring you water from the tap. It tastes fine, and it’s free.
5. Try new restaurants. For some reason, London has a reputation of not having great food. However, I have had some very delicious meals while here. I strongly recommend trying Indian food from Brick Lane.
6. Always wear layers. Like Seattle, the weather in London can be temperamental. The day may start off rainy and grey, and then turn sunny by the afternoon. Layering is a great way to ensure that you will be prepared no matter what the temperature.
These are just a few of the many things that I think would help a future visitor in London. I hope they’re helpful, and hope that people reading this decide to visit this amazing city soon!

London Time

With every passing week that I spend in London, I feel as if time keeps on going by more quickly. This may be partially due to the fact that everybody always seems to be in a hurry, so I am physically moving more quickly throughout my days. I have finally finished up my midterms and am looking forward to a relaxing weekend in London. This weekend, I will be visiting the London Eye as well as the Harry Potter studios. It will be nice to spend a weekend in London for a change because for the past couple of weekends I have been traveling.

This past weekend, the majority of people from our program went on a trip to Stonehenge, Salisbury, and Bath. It was great to be able to see some of the English countryside and get out of a big city for a while. I absolutely loved Bath, and wish that we could have spent more than just one night there. The city was very walkable, and everybody was very friendly. For the majority of our time in Bath, we were allowed to wander around and explore on our own. The one group trip that we did in Bath was visit the Roman Baths. One of the things that continues to shock me about many things around Europe is how well preserved they are The water at the Roman Baths had been there for over 2,000 years.

After exploring Bath for the weekend, our group headed back into London to finish up with midterms. One thing that I have noticed about British professors is that they do not set out rigid guidelines to follow. A lot of the assignments that I have received so far has been up to our interpretation. It has been rather difficult to figure out exactly what my professors are looking for since they are not explicit about it. Hopefully throughout the next few weeks, I will be able to figure it out in time for my finals!

Half Way Done Already?!

I can’t believe that by the end of this week, my program will already be half of the way done! I have a group project, a paper, and a test next week. The time is flying by faster than I ever thought it could. Staying focused on schoolwork is proving to be a very difficult task since I am surrounded by so many different things to do in and around London.

For instance, last weekend, I went to Paris with two of my friends from the program. Since Paris is only two and half hours away using the Chunnel, I knew that I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to go! We had a great time walking around the city, eating crepes, and becoming masters of a transportation system in a new city.

This weekend, almost everybody on my program will be leaving London at 4:30 am Friday morning to stand in the line (or queue) to get tickets to Wimbledon! Even though I am not the biggest tennis fan, I am excited to get to experience this once in a lifetime opportunity. For the remainder of the weekend, our program is going to Stonehenge and Bath. I have always wanted to go to both of these places, and am looking forward to spending more time with everybody else in my program.

Until the weekend comes, I will be trying to finish up all of my reading and midterm assignments so that I can fully enjoy my weekend trips.

Colleen