Tag Archives: Travel

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I had a an absolutely amazing time at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter last summer. Universal Orlando Resort was a great holiday destination before the addition of the two Potter Parks, but now it has become the prime destination of many Potterheads around the globe!

I went on the holiday with my mum, and we enjoyed the sites, sounds, and incredibly oppressive heat of Orlando for just over a week at the end of May/beginning of June 2016. Below are some of the pictures that I feel best represent the Harry Potter part of my time there (which lets face it, was pretty much the main bulk of the holiday). You might say it’s a review in photos…

 

There are so many memories that I will take from this trip and not all of them are captured on camera. Encounters with other lovers of Harry, talking to the people working there about living in the UK and using my interactive wand. These are just some of the things that I will hold on to forever. I am particularly thankful to have shared this experience with my mum, who first read Philosophers Stone to my brother and I all those years ago.

Day Trips: Verulamium Park, St. Albans

Here are some photos from my visit to Verulamium Park in St. Albans. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to visit the museum, but I was able to soak up some of the city’s Roman history in the glorious May sunshine.

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My visit also reminded me of how great solo trips are. I love travelling with other people, and there’s nothing like experiencing a city or country with your friends, but I believe that solo trips are good for the soul.
You have to be decisive, motivated and have your research down (and be safe, as always), and it can give you a chance to see things or meet people that you might not have done had you been a duo or a group.

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Remains of the Roman City Wall can be found in the park. 

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The hypocaust and mosaic are a must see. It was uncovered in the 1930s, and is now enclosed by a fully accessible building. The hypocaust is a short walk from the museum.

I know St. Albans isn’t exactly a big, exciting travel adventure, bit it was a mini-adventure that quenched my wanderlust for now. It also served as a reminder of the long history that surrounds this area, and even though my speciality is not in ancient history or Roman Britain, it was great to get back into history and heritage mode after my end of exam break. (Also, local travel is great.)

Study Abroad Wrap Up

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Seeing as I have been back in the UK now for nearly a month and haven’t updated anything in terms of my Canadian experience since March, I thought that a general overview was needed to tie off any loose ends.

I absolutely loved my time in Montreal and I’m certainly starting to miss it more now I’ve been home for a while. By far the thing I miss most about my year abroad is the people, I made friends for life during my two semesters at Concordia and it feels very strange to go from seeing them every day to not at all. However in this wonderful technological world that we live in I’m fortunate in that these friends are never more than a Snapchat or FaceTime away whether they are in Canada, France or Australia.

51-IMG_3530     Alice and I

 

Another element of post-study-abroad syndrome/reverse culture shock that I’m experiencing is the sudden change from immense freedom to the monotonous routine. While I experience a very similar thing when returning home from university in Hertfordshire, the fact that Montreal was a vibrant city with never a dull moment, and that this year contained a lot of travelling to places I had never been before, means that I am feeling the suffocation of a rural town a lot more than before.
I’m sure this restlessness will either be enhanced or disappear once I begin summer work and dissertation research (let’s hope it’s the latter), but it  is important to accept that I am not the same person who left my mum and brother at Heathrow Airport on August 23rd 2014. Study abroad has made me grow in confidence, assured me of my ability to live independently and adapt to whatever situation the universe deals me. In addition to these personal victories, I feel like my academic skills have improved with this extra year of study and I feel much more confident with asserting my voice and argument in historical writing. It also has become apparent that spending a year surrounded by French has actually worked! Only after returning home did I realise that I know much more than I thought, my bilingual envy of Montrealers obviously masked my own improvement which I am determined to not lose now I have three French-less months ahead of me.

Overall, I am so grateful of this experience and cannot wait to watch how the positive repercussions of this year abroad effect the rest of my life.
Thank you for having me Montreal, until we meet again.  

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Don’t you just love the seasons?

 

 

Ottawa!

Here are some pictures from my trip to Canada’s capital! I only spent three days there, but it was a great long weekend filled with great friends, skating and homework  food!
(I actually did a lot of homework this weekend, but that wasn’t super fun)

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This was the best Tea Shop! http://teastore-3.myshopify.com/

This was the best Tea Shop! http://teastore-3.myshopify.com/

ottawa 6 And for anyone who’s is wondering, what I do on the ice can actually pass for skating now, which is a big achievement in my mind! I prefer skating on a rink to outdoor/river/pond/whatever skating because the natural surface can be a little uneven and bumpy, but hey, when in Rome… 🙂

Follow my on Instagram (scoobyluce) to see more images of my time in Canada!

‘There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and dealing with a burst sprinkler is one of them.’

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Last Friday, I received the welcome news that I could move back into my room after an incident in which a sprinkler went off and flooded our hallway. Luckily, none of my personal belongings were damaged, but from Thursday the 22nd of January I was room-less along with about 30 other people. While we were all re-homed for the week, I ended up spending most of it crashing on an air-bed on my friend’s floor, as the room I was given was on another campus that wasn’t ideal for my 8.45am classes.

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The upside to this week of uncertainty and and de-humidifiers is the bond that developed between all of the girls in my hallway. We spent a week sharing the same experience, talking to each other more and lending a hand when things were needed. Living out of a bag in a dishevelled manner is by no means ideal, but it is certainly something to write home about and a change from routine (yes I’m a silver-linings kind of person). I wouldn’t recommend a burst sprinkler as a community building exercise, but there are always positives to take from a situation, be it good or bad.

It’s like J.K. Rowling said,  ‘There are some things you can’t share without ending up liking each other, and knocking out a twelve-foot mountain troll dealing with a burst sprinkler is one of them.’

A big thank you to all the Residence staff for dealing with the situation so efficiently and getting us back into our rooms as quickly as possible. Also a huge thank you to my friends for lodgings, blankets and just general awesome friendliness. I am aware that still owe you chocolate for this service. 😛 

Make sure you check out my Instagram scoobyluce for regular post about my year in Montreal!

End of Semester = Christmas!

I submitted my essay yesterday, which means I am now of compulsory work until January. I say compulsory work because I’ve just spent my first day of freedom doing dissertation things, but it’s nice to know that I can sit in my pyjamas and watch Netflix all day if I wanted to.

As I’ve been out and about this weekend I’ve become more and more excited about Christmas, and just feeling festive in general. Whether this is down to shops playing Christmas music, my recent purchase of fairy lights or the snow that has gathered over the past week, who knows? But I’m making the most of it because this feeling only happens once a year!

It’s surprising how quickly the novelty factor of snow wore off for me. I still love it, and nothing stopped me for going for a walk on Sunday and stomping around in it, but I no longer go rushing to the window every time I see white flakes falling from the sky.

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The weird expression is more due to the fact that I don’t photograph well than the cold weather. 🙂

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Isn’t Montreal beautiful?

Another reason why I’m getting excited about the festive season is because my mum arrives soon! She will arrive on Sunday, after getting up at 1am GMT to get the coach to London to catch her flight (ouch!). With the change in time zones I think that means being awake for nearly 24 hours, so needless to say that it’ll be an early night. I’m looking forward to spending time together, because Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas for me without family. It will be a strange experience I’m sure, but definitely one to be remembered.

You’ve got to step out of the box once in a while!

Finals, Finals, Finals…

Finals time! This note from my RA says it all :)

Finals time! This note from my RA says it all 🙂

It’s that end of semester time again, a time that brings with it the impending joy of a break and Christmas but also essays and exams. This experience is different for me this year. I have a different university system to contend with and my list of pros and cons on this topic is pretty much even, so as an act of procrastination from revising I will share a few from the list with you!

– More assignments that are worth less.
Pro! It does feel like you’re back at school rather than university, but in my experience having just two chances to be assessed (essays, exams, or one of each) is kind of stressful. Each assignment is either worth 50% or it’s a disproportionate weighting of 70-30 and that’s a lot riding on one piece of work. However for my courses this year (Canadians call modules courses) I’ve had several essays or in class tests throughout the semester that break the weight up. This means that if you mess up on one thing, you have opportunity to make it up on the next assessed piece of work. One of my courses this semester has a final exam that is worth 30%, and that can only be a good thing!
Yes it’s more work, and often it’s harder work, but at least there’s not much of an end of semester rush, or work to do over Christmas.

-Participation marks
Pro! Do I even need to explain why having 10% of your final grade based upon your engagement in class is a good thing? (clue: easy marks)

-Reading 
Con…. But this is only because there is so much reading (I’m taking history so it’s my own fault). I think having two lectures a week and no seminar is why I find the reading amount challenging. It’s definitely do-able, but coming from a university where you have one lot of readings to discuss in a seminar each week, to one where you have two lots per week that are hardly discussed, was a shock to the system. Prioritising and time management are key.

So those are just a few of my observations! No doubt that once I have taken my exams and started next semester’s courses I’ll have few more things to say but for now, in my opinion, it’s important to appreciate the differences between my home and exchange university. No system is better than the other, they’re just different. This means that the approach to learning and the skills that are  developed are different, which is helping to reinforce the fact that there is more to life than passing exams. It’s what you gain while passing the exams that is important.

On that rather thoughtful note, I really should get back to revising! But I would love to know what are your opinions on this? Have you experienced a different style of university through being on exchange? Or are there things mentioned above that you wished your university implemented? *cough* participation marks *cough* 😉

à bientôt!