Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cramming one semester into a week.

This last Winter semester at BYU I wrote five research papers, I have written that many this last week and a half on top of studying for a final exam. So that has pretty much consumed my life for the last week. It has been an awesome learning experience though. I am becoming much more efficient in my research and writing abilities. My supervision is going extremely well. I am a completely different writer now than I was two weeks ago. Professor Steinberg is honestly the nicest man I have ever met. He has this uncanny ability to tell your paper is horrible while making you feel great about yourself at the same time. For an hour we went over every line of the paper I submitted to him, and he pointed out everything I did well, and everything I did wrong.

It is unreal the amount of world class personal attention that I am getting here. For everyone of these five papers I have submitted I get one on one feedback from my professors. That is more than I have gotten in the last three years at BYU. I know for a fact that I will progress more as a writer here than I have in the last three years at BYU.

To give you an idea what I am writing about my last five papers have been on whether or not Spanish Carlists were fascist, why the US and Britain did not go to war again after 1815, advantages of constructing chronologies when doing research, why Francisco Franco rose to power instead of one of the more charismatic Spanish generals, and if manifest destiny was just America's version of British Imperialism. Not all of them sound really that interesting I know, but I have really enjoyed learning more about them. What I enjoy most about it is the challenge of finding the evidence to prove my thesis correct.

After my final exam on friday (the term is still not over some of the classes are only 4 weeks and others are 8) I took a much needed nap and then a big group of us went out clubbing. It was my first experience in a European night club, and it was actually a lot of fun. Then yesterday afternoon I went out with some guys to a pub to watch New Zealand play South Africa in rugby.

This morning I went to church and helped teach a primary class. Wiping noses, taking kids to the bathrooms, convincing them to come out from under tables to join the lesson, and keeping kids from escaping was a drastic contrast than what I have been used to after attending singles wards for the last few years.

After church I went to dinner at one of my professors houses. Dinner was really good, and afterwards we watched a documentary. I was happy to hear from him that I had received top marks on both my term paper and final exam. It has been great really getting to know him, his name is Dr Peter Martland and he is one of the top intelligence historians in the world. He is only one of two men in the world that does not work for the British Government to have been granted access to the secret MI5 archives.

After dinner the Cambridge Ward historian came and talked to us about the history of the church here in Cambridge. He had lots of interesting stories, but what was supposed to be a 45 min lecture turned into an hour and a half. One thing that I left excited about is that he told us the Cambridge University Library has a copy of the first Book of Mormon printed in Europe in 1841 that you can actually check out, along with all the original Millenium Stars. I am going to go tomorrow and check them out, hopefully I will have my camera back by then so I can take some pictures.

I am excited for these next few weeks. I will have more time to explore the city and see more of all the cool museums, libraries, and colleges. Most importantly I should have a camera, so I promise more fun, non-academic, picture filled posts.

Monday, July 20, 2009

First Weekend in Cambridge

This last week I sent my camera home to be repaired since they could not do it under warrantee here, but my mom sent me her old one so I will be able to post more pictures soon. Also this upcoming week I have three papers and an exam, so there won't be much time for picture taking anyways. After that my schedule is a lot easier so I will be sure to explore Cambridge more then with my camera. This last week went really well. I got an A on my first paper which made me happy. I also had a really good meeting with my supervisor. I was excited to find out that I have my last class on the 14th, so the culminate my study of the Spanish Civil War I am going to fly to Malaga and make my way to Barcelona visiting important historical sights along the way.

Also this last week we went and saw Harry Potter. It was a lot of fun because they pretty much rented out the entire theater for all of the kids in the programme (yea that's how they spell it over here). The movie was good, my favorite part was the beginning scene where the death eaters cause all the havoc in downtown London, this was because I had been to all of the places they showed only a few days prior. This weekend was relaxing. First time in over a month I have had a couple days in a row not having to be going to class or traveling somewhere (rough life I know). I played ultimate frisbee one night, I guess they don't see that too often around here because we got some strange looks from people walking by. Also we had a discussion group on the other night which was really interesting.

My time here started to make me think about becoming a professor, this weekend I attended a conference where some of the leading minds in the world were there presenting. I fell asleep through the entire thing because I did not understand a word they were saying. Granted intellectual history isn't really my thing, I still let convinced that I am meant to be a lawyer, not a professional academic.

Sunday I attended the Cambridge family ward, I have been asked to help out with the young men. This entails sitting in their quorum meetings and playing soccer with them at mutual, it is going to be a lot of fun.

Every Sunday night they do a pub quiz. They split us all into teams and ask general knowledge questions, granted general knowledge questions thought up by Cambridge graduate students are a little harder than your average trivia questions. My team won though, primarily thanks to the grad students on our team; however, I did contribute by knowing that Steve Harris is a member of Iron Maiden and that Socrates said, "A life not examined is not worth living." First time I have put something I learned in Poli Sci 201 to use.

I will try and post again this week, but no promises. After this week though I will have much more time and I promise to come through with some more interesting and entertaining blog posts than this one.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Puro Chile Tu Cielo Azulado!

Two years ago today I returned from my mission in Santiago Chile. Viva Chile!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Your Eurobasedson Part II

In my last few weeks here in England I have developed an attachment to a few different kinds of food and drink that I had not tried before.

Cadbury dark chocolate, so good i have started buying it in bulk to save money.
Apple Soda

Fish and chips with mushy peas

Most of all lamb, I had never eaten it before coming here but they serve some type of lamb almost everyday in the cafeteria here and it is really good.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

London for the weekend.

I decided to try and blog more frequently because so much happens everyday here it is easy to get behind. Friday I had my first paper due. I was in the library until about 2 in the morning and then went to bed for a few hours and was back there at 6. I really wish the library at BYU was open 24 hours a day! Then Friday night I played soccer with the King's choir and went out for drinks with them after, don't worry I just had a coke. It was a lot of fun getting to know them and to actually interact with British students since all of us in the program here are American. Friday I also went on a walking tour where they showed where all the famous writers lived around Cambridge. I live just around the corner from where Shakespeare first put on the first performance of Macbeth, where A.A. Milne started writing Winnie the Pooh, the mill pond where Chaucer would go for inspiration while writing the Canterbury Tales, and countless others.

Yesterday we were in London. We did a walking tour and saw the sights. After which we went to the British National Museum where we saw so many amazing things like the Rosetta Stone, the Flood tablet, and the sculptures from the Parthenon. I was so tired though, every room we went into we would all just sit down and rest awhile. After that we went to a restaurant near the globe theater and got some really good ramen. We then went and saw A Mid Summer's Night Dream in the Globe. It is honestly the first time I can say that I have enjoyed Shakespeare. The actors were great and kept the audience very involved. The setting was in the 1920's but it was the original script otherwise. Puck was this scantily clad women who would come out into the audience, she grabbed a few BYU guys and gave them quite a thrill. We were in the standing section in the middle and its started to rain on us a little a few differen times during the play but it held off.

Today we went to church at the Cambridge Ward. Elder Johnson of the 70 was there visiting his son who is the bishop of the ward, he also gave a fireside tonight which was awesome. Well im off to bed and have a long week with lots of work to do ahead of me!

Soccer with the King's Choir

Big Ben
Westminster Abbey
The London Eye
Taking a nap at the British National Museum

Friday, July 10, 2009

Edinburgh and First Full Week of School

So it has been awhile since I last blogged, but they really know how to keep us busy here. If we are not in class or the library they are constantly having different activities we can participate in. Last weekend they took us all to Scotland for four days which was a very cool experience. The bus ride took forever because of a two hour traffic jam, but I was able to sleep for most of it. On the way up we stopped at a place called Hadrian's Wall. It was the furthest north the Roman's reached and where they built a big wall and had a small fort. That night we got into Scotland and headed out to the Royal Mile for dinner. That is right when my camera stopped working so I don't have as many pictures as I would I like, but I had other people take some for me. We found this little take out food place called the clam shell where we ended up eating for most meals. I had some good fish and chips and a fried mars bar for dessert. If you are ever in Scotland please find a place that serves these, they are really good! They are horrible for you but delicious. Kind of like a donut with lots of gooey carmel and chocolate filling. We spent the rest of the night exploring the royal mile, seeing statues of Adam Smith, Hulme, and the Edinburgh castle. That night we found a cool little pub where there was a band playing scottish folk music. They were really good, they were called Rantum Scantum you can listen to some of their music here at their website. The bartender didn't like us at first, probably the first time he's had ten people come in and order non-alcoholic drinks, but he learned to like us. He was this guy with long curly hair, lots of piercings, and a kilt with nothing on underneath. We found that out as people were taking pictures with him at the end and he flipped up his kilt showing everyone his butt.
The next day we got up early and took a bus a few hours away to a place called the Trussachs. It is known as the Scottish Highlands in miniature. I really wish I had my camera there but I will post some that I've gotten off other people's facebooks. It was beautiful and an intense hike in some parts. But at the top we had a beautiful view of the surrounding hills and a loch. That they threw a fourth of july party for us. Which consisted of eating Scottish food and learning several traditional scottish dances, not a weekend at the beach but it was still a lot of fun and a very cool experience. That night we went back to the same pub to listen to Rantum Scantum some more. As I have been listening to their music off their website I realized they are much more entertaining live (probably because they've had a few beers in them), but I reccommend Folk Fae Fife.
Sunday morning we went to the Elephant House Cafe, also known as the birthplace of Harry Potter. We ate breakfast there, and you can totally tell how JK Rowling was inspired there. There is an amazing view of Edinburgh Castle, which looks exactly like Hogwarts in the movies. After that we went to sacrament meeting at the local Edinburgh Ward which was fun. After that we explored the city some more of the city and got some more fried mars bars, I had four in the tree days we were there. That night we climbed Arthur's seat. It was a fun short hike with an awesome view of the city. When we got to the top a huge downpour started, but on the other half of the city. It was a very cool sight seeing this rain storm that was only covering half of the city with sun setting behind it with the Firth of Forth in the background.
Monday morning we headed back to Cambridge, and on the way back stopped at the ruins of an old abbey called Fountains Abbey. It was very cool, this nearly 1000 year old huge building that was still intact for the most part except for the roof. The ground were beautiful as well with cool water gardens.
Since then I have been here in Cambridge trying to stay on top of my school work. It is a lot of work but amazing at the same time. I had my supervision this week and it was amazing. There is a small room at the top of the tower above the porters lodge at the entrance of Kings. For an hour and a half it was just Dr. Steinberg and I discussing what I had read, and analying the information using different historical models. The man knows so much and has so many cool experiences. He would tell me different scholarly articles he would want me to read for next week and he knew which journals, volume, and numbers I should look at just off the top of his head, and Spanish history isn't even his specialty! It was honestly the best hour and a half of my academic career. I've spent a lot of the time in the library this week, I may have said this before but it is open 24 hours and it has a little sign hanging on the door that says if you are the last one out please turn off the lights. It is a goal of mine to be the one to turn of the lights atleast once. I also got my library card for the University library this week. Each individual college has its own library but have access to the University Library. Which is amazing, it has so many books and there are all these cool little staircases and wings of the library, sometime I am just going to go there and explore it. It is quite the ordeal to get a card to the main library. You have to get a letter from the head of your college explaining why you need access, and then go to the admissions office in the library and sit in this room with this not very nice old lady while she reviews it.
I am really loving Cambridge though. It is such a cool city and I can't wait to explore it more. This week all of the BYU students at the London Center came up and I took a group of them punting which was fun, and then we went to a pub for dinner. The room we ate dinner in was the room where the discovery of DNA was first announced. Everything here has so much history to it, and so many cool things have happened here! Like just walking down the street I pass by where Darwin used to live and where Isaac Newton used to study. This week I had another once in a lifetime opportunity of participating in an Evensong with the King's College Choir. I met the Chaplin one of the first days here, and arranged it with him so that I could give one of the lessons out of the New Testament during the service. There were several hundred people there, and it was the coolest setting ever and between two of the songs I got to stand in front of everyone and read one of my favorite passages of scripture Matthew 7:21-29. The chaplin is an amazing man, that morning I spent a half hour practicing reading with him in the chapel. It was just him and I in this amazing building. He would go sit at the far end and I would read and he would interrupt me to tell me whether I need to read louder, slower, and how to emphasize certain words.
Tonight I am going a literary walking tour of Cambridge. They take you around to all these different part of the town where different literary greats read, wrote, and studied. Then tomorrow we are off to London for the day and to see a play in the globe theater.

Our bartender before he flashed us.

Some guy playing the bagpipes on the Royal Mile

Sitting on Hadrian's Wall

Hike through the Scottish Highlands

It was the 4th of July so I showed some patriotic spirit

Hanging out at the pub

First of many fried mars bars

Fountains Abbey

View out of the window of the Elephant House Cafe
You can tell how JK Rowling was inspired to thing of a place like
Hogwarts while sitting here

On the top of Arthur's seat

Here is a video of a performance at Evensong.
Just watch the first few seconds, I was sitting right next to the choir and when they stopped singing I stood up and read from the Bible to a packed house.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

My new home - Cambridge.

So I am just finishing my first week of school here at Cambridge and it has been an absolutely amazing. I have met so many cool students from some of the most prestigious universities all over the U.S. The campus is unreal, I feel like I am at Hogwarts. I went to evensong yesterday in the chapel, which was a very cool experience. I met the pastor and after talking to him I am going to be able to do one of the readings during evensong next week, it will be a very neat and unique experience. I even played a little cricket with a couple members of the choir. They were impressed at how far I hit the ball, but I wasn't much of a bowler. When you bowl, or pitch, the ball you cant bend your elbow.
My classes so far have been really cool. One of my classes is about Anglo-American relations after the revolution, something i know very little about. There are some kids in there that know a rediculous amount, which is impressive and intimidating. My other class is about Europe from 1890-1990, something I know much more about so I am excited about that. I am also doing a supervision with the professor of this second class. His name is Jonathan Steinberg, and he is a very impressive man. He has accomplished so much in his life, he even has a wikipedia article about himself. It is an incredible opportunity to study WWII with someone who was an expert witness on a war crimes trial. Also you know somebody is impressive when they name drop in their lectures and they talk about how they were on the same panal as Mikhail Gorbachev. I had my first meeting with him and he assigned me two 800 page books about Franco to read by the next time we meet.
They have lots of activities for us while we are here which is fun, but I have been in the library every night trying to get ahead or atleast stay on track with all the work they are giving us. Tomorrow we leave for Scotland for the weekend which will be fun. We are going on a hike in the highlands, and hopefully make a visit to St Andrews golf course. Here are some pictures of where I am living and of Kings college.

The entrance to my dorm room.

Bodley's court, where I will be living the next two months.

In the main courtyard. The building the left of me is the King's chapel and to the right is the porter's lodge. One of my favorite things here is seeing all of the tourists trying to take pictures of the inside of the college from the gate because they aren't allowed in, and I just nod to the porters and they let me go by!

The view from my room.

My front yard.