I know it’s been a while since I last posted—I apologize. Things have been absolutely crazy around here.
Mom left on Saturday, September 11th and took all of the Alabama sunshine with her. Since she left it has been (for the most part) cold and rainy. Blargh. However, the day she left a fellow Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar named Niki and her friend Ray (from England) stopped by on their way back to London from Scotland. I took them a mini-tour of Leeds and then we ate dinner and called it a night—not before Ray introduced me to Coronation Street, a British soap that just had it’s 50th anniversary for being on the air 🙂 It was actually not half bad.
On Sunday, we went to a small town about 20 minutes outside of Leeds called Saltaire. It is a neat little place. It is classified as a World Heritage Site and is basically a perfect representation of a Victorian town. Titus Salt constructed the town in order to give his workers at his wool factory a better life and community. Just so happened that while we were there they were participating in Heritage Days and so there was lots of things to do—we tasted English cheeses, toured the wool mill, and ate a delicious Saltaire-lunch!
After Saltaire I met up with Melvyn and we went for a walk along the river that runs through Leeds. We walked until we got to the Royal Armouries which is where part of the Royal collection of arms (hence the name) have been stored and put on display for the public. It is a really awesome place, very impressive. It’s free entrance for the public and I am planning on making another trip, because we only had about an hour to walk through. I can’t wait to take my little brother Houston there when he comes next summer, either. I know he’ll love it.
After my Sunday of fun, I began a week of intense participation in International Welcome Week. It’s basically a week of social and informative activities for international students coming to study at the University of Leeds. I did a tour of the campus, a tour of the city, got some free stuff at a recycling give away, and even won £50 at the international pub quiz. I’ve also had the chance to meet people from all over including Lauren (from Michigan), Liz and Myf (from Australia), Divya (from Dubai), and Shaniek (from Jamaica). Together we’ve attended the afternoon tea sessions at the international office, where I had my first official scone and blackwell tart, and they were also part of my AMAZING team at the pub quiz 🙂
I also must say that I am VERY impressed with the University of Leeds and the services it offers to its students. The University of Leeds has the largest student union in the United Kingdom (they are pretty hard core about their student unions here), and the union works REALLY hard to make sure students are receiving as much support as possible during their time at the university. On campus there are 3 dance clubs, 2 bars/pubs, a mini supermarket, lots of small restaurants, a cafeteria, lots of coffee/tea shops, a clothing store with university gear, and lots more. There is also a night bus that will take you from the university to your front door for 50p (about $0.75), which has been amazing for me. Overall, the University of Leeds is pretty great.
Other than participating in International Welcome Week, I haven’t really had much time to do anything else. I did have a nice free day on Saturday, though. I went into town and bought groceries and went by the market—must say I think I am going to do pretty well budgeting for food as long as I pick up my fresh produce at the market 🙂 After the market I came home and made a pita pocket with haloumi, lettuce, cucumber, and hummus (it’s become my favorite thing to eat!), took a nap, and then headed out to meet Maria (from Colombia) for coffee. We ended up at a nice little Mediterranean place and had chai with a small cake. It was a great end to a great week.
To start off this week, I went to the seaside town of Scarborough with the univeristy. The university union has a program called “Give it a Go,” where they offer students the chance to participate in and try new activities. One part of that program is offering day trips to students (they go all over England during the semester). So, with Lauren, Liz, Shaniek, and Myf I headed off to Scarborough to give it a go! We got there about 10:30am and meandered through town looking for a nice place to have fish and chips—it was the first time Lauren and I had eaten them. We finally settled on a quaint cafe a little bit up the hill. It was DELICIOUS. I really don’t like fish, but really really really enjoyed the fish and chips. I might just become a fanatic 🙂 After fish and chips we began our trek to Scarborough Castle. On the way up, we stopped at St. Mary’s Church to visit Anne Bronte’s grave. Once we had seen the grave we continued up the hill (with aching calf and glut muscles) to the castle. The castle area was neat. From there you could see both side of Scarborough Harbour, BUT it was SUPERRRRR windy and cold. None of us were dressed appropriately for the kind of wind that was blowing, but nevertheless we continued our tour of the castle 🙂
Now, I am thoroughly exhausted and am heading off to bed. Tomorrow is the first day of orientation for my course of study. I will have orientation all week (Monday-Friday), and then Friday afternoon I will be heading to Oxford for the Rotary Link weekend (it’s a weekend conference for all Rotary scholars in the United Kingdom). I will be in Oxford from Friday-Sunday, and then Ele will be arriving to Leeds on Sunday (yay!). SO-forgive me if I don’t post again until next week… Life, once again, will be crazy this week!