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.

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