As Wimbeldon commences and Nadal goes for the win...

Well, while I have all the time in the world to kill, I might as well update everyone on what has been going on over the past three weeks… it has been a while. Sorry, guys. It’s been hard trying to find loads of time to spend to write down the stuff I’ve done – homework gets in the way of everything, unfortunately. But, since the others won't be back from Wicked for the next several hours and my feet are DEAD tired (I've been walking since 8:30 this morning – it is now 6:30 pm) and I don’t want to go anywhere else tonight, I want to give you the low down hoe down.

(FYI: I typed this in Word before I stuck it online. If I double-spaced it, it would be 8 pages long. But, if you want to find out what life has been like for me over the past three weeks/month-ish, keep reading. You won’t want to miss it. But it’s long, so just bear with me, k? Thank you for your time, and mind the gap)

Ok, so after the first week, we went up to the highlands for the weekend. We left on Friday, came back Sunday, yeah, yeah. There is NO way I can remember every town we stopped in. I couldn’t remember most of them by the time we got back. But, basically, this is how it went. We got on the bus at 9 am and drove. We drove past Stirling Castle, past many hills, many lochs, through many little towns. Occasionally, we would stop at some pretty places to take pictures and move on our way. But the first real place we stopped at was Loch Lomond. It was about 10:30 in the morning and it was gorgeous. A little overcast at that point, but eventually, the sun peeked its little head out of the clouds to bid us fair journey through the hills and mountains. Oh man, I got some really goods pics. I’ll have to show them off when I get back home. We got back on the bus and drove to Oben, a cute little harbour town with some awesome little shops and restaurants. I ate at an AMAZING fish and chips place with Emilee Wood and her dad. I had chicken and chips. Wow – if I could remember the name of the place, I’d ship stuff if I could. A DEFINITE must-eat. After lunch, we continued on our way, passing the Monty Python Castle eventually on our way. Then we stopped at this little kirk on the side of the road and got pictures of it. I went up a forbidden spiral staircase that was too skinny. Two people could barely fit at the top. But it was cool. Does the name Robert the Bruce ring a bell? Well, that kirk had a bone of his buried with the statue they had of him. I thought it was pretty neat. Went out back and got pictures of the lake behind it and then continued more on our way. Eventually, we stopped in a little town beside a river for a good night’s rest. The hotel was really cute and the bed were comfortable. And the view? Spectacular! I fell more in love with Scotland during this trip than I ever thought possible. As a group, we watched the first half of Braveheart. It was pretty good, though, quite historically inaccurate, unfortunately. But you can't make everyone happy. After that was bed. And we all slept well.

The next morning, the alarm didn’t go off on time so I was a little behind the times. But, in no time, I was all set and ready to go, full of breakfast and ready to start a new day. We made a few less stops this time, but we eventually made it to our next destination – Loch Ness. Wahoo! Going to be friends with Nessie! Loch Ness is a HUGE loch. In fact, it’s the biggest in Scotland – 26 miles long and OOH SOO deep – up to 1000 feet! That’s right 1 THOUSAND feet in depth. That’s a lot of room for a sea monster to hide. So, we get into St. Augustine, make friends with a bagpiper, and shop for a bit before our boat tour of the Loch. It was quite chilly and I had forgotten my jacket, but all was well. I lived through it. Woot. The loch tour was pretty good. It took an hour and there was radar that let you see down into the loch to see what the bottom looked like and how small we were compared to what was actually down there. I felt like a needle-point on a hundred miles worth of cross-stitch. Oh, yes, the loch is THAT big. I never would have imagined… Anyway, that was an adventure. I didn’t see the wee monster (or perhaps, not so wee), but there will be other times to look. After that we ate dinner and headed off to our hotel in Drumnadrochit. Isn’t that just the COOLEST name!? And it sits right on the Loch, which was really awesome to see. We did the Loch Ness Experience right there next to the hotel that’s supposed to tell you about the realities of the Loch Ness Monster, but all it did was ask more questions than it gave answers for. So, basically, you have to make up your own mind about whether you think Nessie is real or not – something that I could have told anyone before I saw the exhibit. I think Nessie is real – there are too many eye-witness accounts for me to ignore. Several thousand, actually. Although I didn’t see anything, sonar equipment has caught something down there, but no one is quite sure what it is. But, I think everyone agrees that there is most definitely SOMETHING in the water – whether it is actually a monster or not, time will tell. Maybe I’ll ask God when I see Him… Yeah, He would know. So, did that (I would not suggest it at all) and then we watched the second half of Braveheart. It was SO sad! Still very historically inaccurate, but pretty good none-the-less. I’d use it for less historical purposes if I ever bought it. It might happen if I needed it. Anyway, got to sleep that night and was prepared to go home the next day.

Sunday morning, we woke up, ate breakfast, and continued on our way. We stopped at Urquhart Castle right on the Loch. That was pretty cool – it even had a trebuchet! Yay for throwing things at the oncoming enemy in a closed Loch! … Yay for the Scots ☺ They were awesome people. We got back in the bus, stopped to take pictures of the Highland Coos and the cows. They were all cute, and smelly… I'd prefer to remember them as really cute, okay? Okay. We got back to Carronvale House, had church, and then hung out or went to bed. It was a fun weekend.

Then school happened the next day, and the next, and the next, and the next. I saw teachers yell at kids, I saw kids moved from classroom to classroom, I saw kids entering into the wrong classrooms (this was the start of their new timetable – they have three weeks of new lessons in their new grades before summer holiday), and others who were signing out of school forever (you can do that at 16 here if you want to). So yeah, a good week. That and I had my first lesson to prepare for – which took me the better part of the weekend and I still wasn’t prepared for it. Oh well. That’s later on. After that week, we had a weekend at Carronvale of which we could do whatever we wanted pretty much. Friday, we went to Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument. That was pretty awesome. I clambored on top of cannons, took pictures of myself, and had a pretty cool time. Then, the Wallace Monument – oh my goodness. That was cool, too. Something like 246 steps to the top – a single spiral staircase up to the top with the most gorgeous view of Stirling and the surrounding area. I LOVE Scotland in a pretty day! It has to be one of the most gorgeous countries I have seen with blue skies, so I took quite a few pictures of the sky and the sun on those blue days. I have a thing for that… Got done with that and had to hurry and catch the bus back to Larbert. Most everyone went to Glasgow on Saturday. I and another girl stayed because we had work to do for our lessons – I had research to do about the American Revolution and the beginnings of the American government and a PowerPoint to put together. I barely got all that finished by the time I had to teach my lesson on Tuesday. I had been up working on the lesson for a few hours when both Danielle and I were asked by some Scottish friends of ours if we wanted a tour of the surrounding area. We both said sure, so we went. It was pretty cool, actually. They took us to Linlithgow and showed us the palace there and we got pictures and I made friends with a massive swan and climbed a stump for pictures as well as a few other things around the palace. Mary, Queen of Scots, I believe, was born and raised in Linlithgow Palace. It was pretty and so was the lake. Then we went into town and saw a little parade. A bagpiper, a band from Texas, football players (a.k.a. Soccer players), and the council of Linlithgow. It was cute. Then, the Fairgrieves bought us Chinese food (which was really nice of them to do) and took us back to their house where we ate, watched football, and also the sunset behind the mountains that are out of the back windows overlooking the valley. Completely picturesque! After the sun went down, we went up to the little Wallace Monument at the top of their hill where the Battle of Falkirk was fought (and lost) by the Scots and the last battle that William Wallace was in before he was tortured and killed. And that was at the very top of their hill, which gave a many-mile overview of the valley and the Firth. *sigh* Good times. We stayed with them until 11 that night (it was STILL daylight, btw) before we got back. The next day, we went to church with the Fairgrieves had Chinese food in Stirling. It was a buffet – a pretty new concept in the UK and one that is catching on. It was fantastic! It was also the first time in a long time I had eaten Chinese with silverware… they didn’t have chopsticks. Going back, we almost missed the bus back to Larbert – I wound up running in high heels and a skirt through the streets of Stirling, which had to have been a sight. But we caught the bus in time and all was well. I went back and started working feverishly on my lesson and that was about it for the rest of the night.

Then, there was school again for the next 4 days for us. I taught my lesson on Tuesday. I know I could have done much better if I had been prepared better. I got lost a couple of times in my lecture and PowerPoint decided not to cooperate, but that was to be expected. I was told things to work on and things that were good, etc. Yay for constructive criticism! I was bound and determined to do better the next time. I taught for 50 minutes. Woot! There was a lot of stuff packed into that lecture, but don’t make me give it again when I get home. You can read my notes if you really want to. So, the week went on, I found a favorite teacher, and a least favorite teacher (as is to be expected) and one that I generally just enjoyed watching teach. I had great role models – for what to definitely do, and what definitely NOT to do. Awesome learning experience, boy I tell ya.

That weekend (our last in Scotland) was our St. Andrew’s and Peterhead weekend. This weekend was just completely awesome. We left on Friday (of course) and drove to St. Andrews. We stayed at the University there. We got there about 3, checked in to our hotel/dorm rooms (which were REALLY nice) and were free for the rest of the evening. I got ready to hit the town. I put my things away and was ready for the awesomeness that is St. Andrews. In case you didn’t know, St. Andrews is the home of Golf. Apparently, the Old Course is THE course to play on if you’re into golf. If you play the Old Course, it’s about $300 to play - £150. Too much for poor college kids like us to afford. So that night we all went out on the town. I saw the seat of the Roman See’s old Cathedral in ruins and saw, for the first time, the North Sea. It was a BEAUTIFUL shade of blue, I just couldn’t get over it. I took quite a few pictures and then proceeded to find a way to get down to the beach, which I eventually did. Remember, it’s not the warmest of days and by this time, I was coming down with a cold. So, being cold was not an option. Ha! Well, forget that. Throwing away the old “need to take meds and stay warm” rule, I went down to the beach, rolled up my jeans and stepped into the water. What an awesome experience! I got my feet wet, climbed on the rocks, posed for some pictures, got my pants really wet cause the waves were a little bigger than I had anticipated – was wet up to my thighs almost. After about 10 minutes, I couldn’t feel my feet anymore. But I didn’t care. I’ve suffered worse and it was totally worth it! I picked up a rock from the North Sea so I could remember my romp in its waters, put on my flip-flops, and continued shopping. Eventually, after dinner, I headed back because everything was closed or closing (it was only 6ish). I got back to the room and tried to find something to watch on TV. The only problem was that I had GERMAN cable, which doesn’t help if I can't speak it. There were few programs to watch. I eventually landed on a German tightrope walker. I couldn’t understand hardly anything they were saying, but it was fun to watch this pro guy jumping and doing all kinds of fun things on the tightrope, many I had never seen done on a tightrope before and it scared me. Later on, I learned that one of the girls had American cable in her room, so Emilee Wood, who had come to visit me (she’s a cool kid) and I went to watch America’s Got Talent. It was two seasons behind, but oh, well. It was still good. Then I went to bed cause I was tired.

The next morning (Saturday), we got up, ate breakfast, spent the morning in St. Andrews. I shopped a little, went back down to the beach, almost stepped on jellyfish (lots of jellyfish), decided I didn’t want to maze my way through all those stranded on the beach and just walked in the dry sand. Then I went back, got lunch, ate it, fed some ravens my bread, and met the group at the golf course museum. A couple of the group had played a St. Andrew’s course that morning and they had a lot of fun (not the old course, but the cheap one. But it’s neat to be able to say they’ve played there). Then, we went on our way to Peterhead. We left at 1 and got into Peterhead about 5, ate at McDonald’s for a lite dinner, and went to the church for evening services (they have Saturday evening services instead of Sunday because of the fishermen). Then, we were split up into different church member’s houses and sent on our way. I had heard a lot about Peterhead from my old (and awesome) roomie, Emily Venable, who had gone the previous summer. She had stayed at the preacher’s house with the lighthouse out of his front door and RIGHT on the coast of the North Sea. I was told to stay with them if at all possible. Well, we were split up. I almost went in the first group they needed, but I waited until last and I’m so thankful cause I stayed at the preacher’s house! We (myself, Megan Venable, and Jacqueline Dillion) got to the house and were completely amazed. The North Sea is (no joke) about 100 feet from their front door. The lighthouse was very prominent and they were SUCH hospitable people. They served us dinner and let us explore the area. We went to the lighthouse and took pictures, then we went down the harbour and saw the seals (yep, SEALS!) and took more pictures. It was SOO cool! Then we went to bed. We got up for church the next morning, were served breakfast and took the short ride to the building. After church, we (as a group) changed clothes and went back to the lighthouse. Mr. Wood had talked a lot about it and it bummed almost every out that they didn’t get to stay there, so Megan asked if they could stop by the lighthouse on the way back (since it was enroute). He agreed, which was good. Everyone liked the lighthouse. I went down to the harbour again and took pictures of the cute seals and the roaring North Sea waters and got splashed with a wave. It was awesome. Then we went back, got a short little tour of the lighthouse because Mr. Wood is good like that at getting things done, played with Lennox the HUGE German Shepherd, and left. Yay! It was such an encouraging weekend and the people were SOO nice. That and waking up to the North Sea spray right outside of your window has got to be the highlight of the trip (except the trip to London of course). We got back safe and sound and got ready for another week and I for another (and last) lesson on Wednesday. This time, it was one that I had heard twice before on the changing population of Scotland during the 1800’s. So, I felt way more prepared for this one than the other one – and I got to use the SmartBoard! Yay for glorified PowerPoint screen! That was pretty much the most exciting thing that week. The next day (Thursday) was my last day and it was kinda sad. I’m going to miss the school, the teachers, and the students. They were all wonderful and I really, really enjoyed my time there. I learned so much!

The next day (Friday, yesterday) was one I had been waiting for for a long time – we were leaving for LONDON! We caught the train at 9:15 to Edinburgh, caught a train straight from there to London King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station. That took 4 hours. I almost cried when I saw London for the first time in 6 months. As soon as we arrived, I took a couple of the girls to Platform 9¾ and then we checked into our hostel. It’s not far from the train/tube station, but was good cause we were lugging all of our luggage with us and it was heavy. As soon as we had put everything in our rooms, got our keys, go the run-down of the weekend, we were free to go. I booked it out of the hostel because I had things to do. Since I knew where I wanted to go and am one of those people who doesn’t like window shopping or stopping constantly to see things that I've seen before (unless I want to see them), I went by myself. It was probably better because I doubt anyone would have been able to keep up with me I was walking so fast. I took the Tube to Oxford Circus, walked down Oxford Street again so I could say I went again. I walked into the bookstore and that was about it, besides a souvenier shop where I bought stuff. Woot! Then I walked from there to Holborn station (past my old flat on Great Russell Street, past the British Museum where I finally got my picture of the Rosetta Stone, and past Jacqueline’s house). That in itself is a 30 minute walk and I was moving. Vroom, vroom on the toes. Took the tube to Charing Cross where Trafalgar Square is, peeked at that for a second (not much to see because they were striking a concert set), and went to the Texas Embassy for dinner. I got a HUGE hamburger and a refillable Coke and enjoyed that to the fullest. Then I went back to Charing Cross station, took the tube to Hyde Park Corner and made a stop at the Hard Rock CafĂ© Shop because I could. I almost went to Buckingham Palace, but I decided to walk down Piccadilly instead. I had forgotten where it led. When I came upon Piccadilly Circus (the Times Square of London) I knew exactly where I was. From there, I took the tube back to the hostel because I wanted to chill. Got back, did the online thing, and went to bed. The next day (today) was completely awesome! Ready, ready?!

Ok, so, I got up this morning, ate breakfast at 8:30 and got on the tube with some others to go to Portobello Market. I had been to this before, but I didn’t remember I had until I saw the signs for it. It is only open on Saturday and is full of 2000 shops and kiosks. SOO cool! So, I went with them, led the group there, and we split up. Megan Venable and I decided to go together since I knew my way around and everything I wanted to see she did, too. So, we spent the next almost 4 hours at the market browsing, buying, and trying on guard uniforms. That was fun. After that, we took the tube to Charing Cross because Megan wanted to see Trafalgar Square. So we did that, took some pictures and walked down Whitehall towards Westminster. We passed the Guards, got pictures with them on their horses and then with a lone guard who decided to stand in the middle of the sidewalk for no seemingly apparent reason. Then we continued on to Westminster. Megan almost cried when she saw Big Ben for the first time in full glory. I have to admit, I teared up a little, too. It’s just so magnificent! We got pictures of that, of course, and walked across Westminster Bridge to get pictures of Parliament from across the Thames. Then we headed on over towards the London Eye for our 3:00 appointment. We had a little time to kill, so we walked through all the street performers. Some of them were really good. Many of them were there when I visited during October/November. It was nice to see some old faces. ☺ Then, we waited in line for an hour to get onto the Eye. Did the eye, kissed Big Ben (yes!), and then Megan and I booked it over to St. Paul’s. I wanted to go to a play at the Globe so I went over to get a ticket. Unfortunately, they were sold out, but I did finally get my Groundling T-shirt that I had forgotten to get last time. Oh, well. It was still nice to go back. Then we visited St. Paul’s (which is MASSIVE, btw), got dinner (mmm, Burger King), and headed back to King’s Cross/St. Pancras. Now, I’m sitting here while everyone else is at Wicked glad to have some down time to update everyone on the happenings of my life during the past month. I hope you have enjoyed this little saga. I’ll try and let you know what happens during my last day in the UK (tomorrow) tomorrow after I get finished with everything. It should be fun and I’m planning on having some extra time to hang out at Tower and London Bridges. No time to do the Tower of London, which is a bummer, but I can always come back. In fact, I plan on it definitely being a come-back spot. If anyone is ever up for a trip to London, hit me up. I will almost always say yes (unless I'm too poor).

So, yeah. Life has been good until now. I get back in the States on Monday and I’m pretty excited. I’m hoping and planning that the rest of the summer is just as amazing as my trip to the UK, simply because I have awesome friends back home who I can spend time with. It’s been hard being without them, but I will see them soon. My family, too. I’m excited to sleep in my own bed again, finally. I miss the loveliness of my own room.

See you guys in the States on Monday!




The end of Week 1

A whole week has gone by in the schools. Almost unreal. Time goes by fast in the "real world" as Mr. Wood calls it.

Honestly, today was not very exciting. It was activities day on campus today. Most of the activities were off campus, which was sad because those were all the things that I would have wanted to do. Oh well. So, our day started off with breakfast as usual. Mr. Wood drove us to school again and we got there in good time this time. We were not late. WaHoO! Kurt and I went to the games gym because we were going to observe. What we thought would be a semi-enjoyable day turned into a nightmare. Well, not really, but it was a situation that was not handled in a suitable way. Here's how it went:

Kurt and I got to the gym at about 8:40 when the students were supposed to be in their activities locations. We stood outside with the kids (they were all boys... go figure I'd pick the group with all boys, lol) until almost 9:30 when the supervising teacher arrived. Both Kurt and I were pretty peeved that the teacher had the nerve to show up late. Then they had to set up everything, which was supposed to have been done by 8:30 that morning. Then, to make things worse for the poor children who were getting pretty restless, they only let in boys two-by-two that also had game systems and let them set them up. That took another 15 minutes. It was almost 10:00 by the time everyone was in there. Let me tell ya, that was frustrating as all get out. Both Kurt and I felt it could have been handled better and in a more efficient way than it was. From 10 until about 11:15, we walked around the gym and kept an eye on the guys playing and got quite distracted by the Guitar Hero expert playing kid. He's played Guitar Hero so much, he would play sections on expert with his eyes closed, backwards, and other forms of not looking at the screen... I decided that these kids have too much time on their hands and not enough homework. I can help fix that :-)

Kurt and I went on break and decided to find some thing else to go watch. About the only other thing we could find was Cinema - just movie watching. That was fine with the both of us. I took a detour to the history department to see if they needed me for something and I walked out with textbooks and ideas for my lesson. Woot! Got something accomplished today!

After that, I made my way through the maze of confusing corridors to the Drama room for the movie. They were watching Click. I have never seen it, but now I know how it ends. ... Not sure I need to see the rest of it. That was about the extent of the day. We got lunch and were out of there on the bus. Yeah...

Monday will be an adventure because all the high school kids will be back on campus and I get to really start my job. I can't tell you how excited I am about it! I have 3 weeks left and SOO much to do! I can make it. I can make it. :-)

We are going to the highlands this weekend and to Loch Ness Lake. You know, the one with the monster in it? Yeah. Totally get to see it! GAH!!! I will tell you all about it when I can. I don't know if I will have internet access this weekend, but I will try to keep you guys up to date as much as possible.

Oh, and just in case you didn't know, I miss everyone back in the States. Oh, I LOVE being here. The people are SOO sweet and I feel quite at home here. It's wonderful. I'm getting used to the language and how these people talk, but it's still hard to understand them sometimes. I have to listen really hard, and even when I do that, I might have to ask them to repeat themselves... 5 or 6 times... Nah. Not that many, but I'm sure they think I have a hearing impediment because Americans talk slow, and therefore listen slow. Psh... stereotypes. Oh, well. You get labeled everywhere you go. I'm quite used to it.

Until next time my loves!

Cheers and Cheerio! (not Cheerios...)



Day 3 of Operation Intimidation

Today was much less intense than the previous two days. But I did get to see some of the background work that goes into planning materials and lessons. So, here was my day. My semi-short day :-)

My roomie woke up at 6:30 to an alarm. I had no idea she was awake (totally oblivious to the whole world) until she poked me at 7 and told me it was time to get up for breakfast. Groaning, I got up and took a shower. Then headed down to breakfast. Quickly ate a croissant and left for school. I got there as the bell rang and headed to the Geography Base because that's where I was told to be. So I went. There was no one there when I arrived, so I put my stuff down, and walked down the hall, down the stairs, and found no one. So I went back to the base and waited because I figured my co-op teacher would know where to find me. After about 5 minutes, he walked in the door and took me downstairs to Aileen's classroom where she was preparing her History unit on America. She started sorting papers and we talked about teaching. I asked her questions about schools in Scotland in general and ones about Larbert. She showed me a couple of things on the computer, like the student's portfolio's. Every student has one - and it's a WONDERFUL idea! Every teacher can see when a student was called out and what for, every homework assignment they've missed turning in, things like that. It's great. After that, Fiona, a first-year teacher (the baby of the department) came in holding The Pianist. Amazing movie! But I'm a history nerd, so I would think so, of course. She told me to come watch it with her in her S1 class (7th grade), so I did. Mostly to observe the students at that age to see how they acted during a movie. They were good for the most part... after about 15 minutes into the movie. After that, they were really good. And the movie was fantab. Awesome stuff! After that class, we went to tea and I talked politics with the history teachers there. New experience for me! But they seemed to respect my opinion and I appreciated that.

After tea, I went back to Aileen's room with Fiona, Craig, and Leslie (I don't know ANY of their last names) and we had a staff meeting about who was going to teach what and when during the next Timetable year. It was really confusing for me because I have NO idea how their timetable works or what all the letters and numbers mean on the schedule. Plus they talk really fast and I was having a hard time trying to keep up. But I got most of it... the words anyway. Not that I actually comprehended what went on or anything since, again, I have no idea how their school is set up (they've not explained it to me yet). After that, I went with Fiona again and watched her as she gave a group of S1's a completion assignment. They had been learning about what it was like living in Scotland from 1959-1969 and had just finished a unit on the hippies. Their assignment? They had to take magazines, cut out someone famous, and hippi-tize them. It was awesome! And because it was the last day of school, it was just something to keep them busy until the end of the day. I met one of the kids. Apparently he was a trouble-maker, but was being very good during that assignment. I would never have guessed it. He was sweet.

At 12:25, I went to lunch and Kurt and I waited for Mr. Wood to get there to pick us up. When we got back to school, we had about an hour before class because Aubrey was on a field trip and didn't get back until almost 3. We had class at 3:30 and it was a really good class. Mr. Wood shared stories of students past, we had good cries (we're all excited about teaching!), and good discussions. Then we had dinner and cake (it's Danielle's birthday and Mr. Wood's Anniversary) and some of the group went up to Falkirk. Kurt and I didn't go. He went walking and I was going to start my homework assignment. As of right now, I still haven't started... it's about 11:20 p.m. Go me and my wonderful procrastination techniques! We did a bible study and then had more cake and ICE CREAM, compliments of Adam and Melanie from the Cumbernauld CofC. They're awesome!

So, that was my day. Not much of one. I observed, yes, but there wasn't much to see. I have noticed that teachers like to yell at their students because they think it helps. I know it doesn't... *sigh* Oh well. Tomorrow, I get to play the Wii for activities day. Yay! Maybe I can wear jeans to school... cause I don't want to box and bowl in dress shoes. I would break something... like my NECK! Tomorrow should be fun. I will fill everyone in on the occurances of the day tomorrow.

Until then, bedtime/paper time.

Cheers, everyone!