June 25, 2014

Countries and Castles

I spent the last five days in Sweden, with a little bit of Denmark thrown in, and it has been incredible. I am so blessed to have been able to come on this trip and see a little bit more of the world. I can't believe the stories I have to tell and the little bits of knowledge that I've picked up from each country.

Now my trip is coming to an end, and while a part of me will miss Europe and all the adventure, I'm ready to move on, back over the ocean, to see what God has planned out for me next. I'll have a couple of months with my grandparents, and I'm excited to see them again after a year apart.

But enough on leaving. I'll write out a highlight of Sweden and one for Denmark.

Sweden: Nimis!
This place was incredible. Read About It Here! So basically, just in case you're too lazy to read the entire Wikipedia article, an artist built these structures out of driftwood in the middle of a national reserve. There has been a lot of legal debate, and somewhere in the process the artist declared this place to be a micro-nation. Anyway, it was such a strange and fascinating story, and such a cool place to see. It was like a giant playground for everyone, and I had so much fun climbing up the towers and trying to avoid getting scratched by the nails sticking out all over or getting splinters.

Denmark: Hamlet's Castle!
I did try to read Hamlet before going, but only managed to read the first two acts and a summary before we went. Still, I know enough about Shakespeare and Hamlet that it was so cool to see the castle the play was based off of, and to hear about the actual kings who lived there. Plus, it's a castle, and castle's are basically always awesome. I especially liked the ballroom, which was huge, and the underground rooms where the soldiers lived, even if it was freezing down there. But yeah, such a beautiful building with so much history and a fantastic view from the castle windows.

Basically, this last adventure has been great, and I do recommend Sweden to anyone looking to travel. Just make sure that if you're ever in Sweden or Denmark or anywhere nearby that you stop to look at Nimis! 

June 18, 2014

Following My Heroes

The problem with running off following adventure is that finding time to write about the adventure is practically impossible. But seeing as for the moment I don't need to Skype anyone and I kind of partly have the next stretch of travel from Oxford to Sweden planned out, it seems a good time for a blog post.

First of all, can I just point out that I'm in Oxford? Yeah, yeah, like the University, but mostly like the place where Lewis and Tolkien lived and taught and walked... Amazing. 

So many little carvings all over the walls and ceilings of all the buildings!

This city is incredible, with architecture that takes my breath away and so many complex and intricate buildings. Me and my traveling companion have kind of accidentally run into several places used in the filming of Harry Potter, which is definitely exciting. I cannot wait to get back and watch all the movies again, just so I can point and say: "I've been there!" Nacho Libre's not the only movie set I can say I've been to anymore.
Anyway, back to the point: this city is so beautiful! There is so much history carved into the buildings and I can just feel all of it in the air as I walk through the streets. Plus, it's time for examinations, so the Oxford students from several colleges are walking or riding their bicycles through the city wearing black gowns with carnations in their pockets and their sharp, erudite black and white uniforms. I can only imagine what it would be like to actually study in a place like this.
Christ Church. No wonder movies are filmed here.
So far I've been to Keble College, Christ Church, and a bit of the New College, and each college is breath-taking. I'm hoping to get in a few more colleges before we leave on Friday. We even attended the Sung Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral on Tuesday, which wasn't quite as impressive as the service at Westminster Abbey, but still pretty cool. Plus, we've done a lot of walking around, taking photos, shopping, trying to find the cheapest ways to eat, sliding through museums, and a little bit of getting purposely lost in order to see more. It's wonderful.
Radcliffe Camera, apparently one of the most photographed buildings in Oxford. I can understand why, plus the fact that it sneaks into the backgrounds of pictures of other buildings nearby...
And, did I mention? This is where Lewis and Tolkien formed the Inklings and met in pubs to discuss their writing. I dropped into the Eagle and Child pub and took pictures and stood and marveled, but the food was too expensive for me to justify eating there. However, across the street the Lamb and the Flag was also used by the Inklings, and I managed to afford a nice ham sandwich. Then I just sat in the pub and wrote out four pages of my thoughts as my mind wrapped around the fact that I was sitting in the very place that Lewis and Tolkien read their stories. So incredibly unbelievable. I just cannot hold in how excited I am to be in the place where my heroes actually lived.
Eagle and Child. I am still amazed.

Tomorrow I'm planning on finding the Kilns, where Lewis lived, and then Holy Trinity Church to see his grave. I'm so excited to follow him even more and see how many of his words will drip down and influence my own writing and my own stories. I can just feel the creativity in this place (did I mention Lewis Carrol was also an Oxford don? Lots of Alice in Wonderland exhibits in all the museums) and I am quite sure my writing can only improve as I result of being here.
This was inside the Eagle and Child, so of course when we got back at night we watched the first half of the Lord of the Rings and went crazy when this part actually came up.
Bonus: today I had the most interesting conversations back at the house where we're staying. It began as a sort of conversation against the Bible, though without any time for me to answer the questions being asked, or at least not enough time to answer them well. Then it became a conversation about my family, and about camps, and then the ice cream truck drove by and I smiled at the music and was treated to an amazing Cadbury ice cream cone.
Later in the day a French man living in Germany arrived to stay in another room here, and we all talked for hours about language and education and politics and immigration and travel and culture and even culture shock. Such a great conversation and it kind of made me realize that I am in fact an adult now and can not only listen in on but be a major part of a conversation like that. I mean, usually as soon as it's a serious conversation all I can do is listen, but this time I actually had just as much to add to the conversation as anyone else. More memories and information to store in my "future novels" room in my Mind Palace.
And to end, a lovely picture of me and Smaug.

June 14, 2014

How to be Courageous

Goodbyes suck. There you have it, the truth of the matter. And I have had to say more goodbyes in my life than should be possible.
I remember when I was little I had this one friend I would have sleepovers with all the time, and when my mom came to pick us up we would run and hide so that we wouldn't have to say goodbye. I'm sure that our mothers didn't much appreciate that.
Hiding out in some awesome ruins near Capernwray. I believe it was the old game keeper's house for Capernwray Hall.

Unfortunately, most goodbyes I can't hide from. I left Capernwray Bible School yesterday morning, but only after a full night of watching the people I've come to love so much drifting away one by one. I have to admit that my emotions kind of shut down during the goodbyes. I just knew that I couldn't handle any tears. It felt like if I let myself cry even a single drop I would just keep crying forever. I mean, I already said goodbyes three months ago to Oaxaca, Mexico and all my amazing friends there, and then two weeks later I had to say goodbye to my sister again.
Goodbye Capernwray Hall. You'll have a piece of my heart forever.

However, I believe that one form of courage is the courage to life every moment to the fullest, and I decided to try my best to be courageous. After all, so many of my goodbyes are not permanent. How many times have I said goodbye to someone thinking I would never see them again, but years later I find myself saying hello to them again? Lots.

Besides, we live in a world that is all connected, where I can open Facebook and see statuses posted from Korea, Ecuador, Uganda, Kenya, Asia, all over the USA and Mexico, just to name a few. I have relatively easy access to Skype and Emails and it is still possible to send hand-written letters, which are so amazing to receive. (Thanks my favorite sister, the only person who got on the ball and sent me mail while I was here in England. And she sent two letters.)
I'll miss tea when I leave England. Somehow drinking tea won't be the same if it's not scheduled into the day. I had at least three cups of tea or coffee ever day while at Capernwray, I think I'm going to go through tea withdrawal now that I'm travelling. Oh wait, the hotel has tea... I'll survive another three days at least.

So in the words of my sometimes extremely poetic boyfriend: "I prefer to think of it as more of a goodnight, going somewhere else, to have some more epic adventures, but waking up to find that person still there. And if we're lucky, we might just find them in our goodnights along with our goodmornings." 
I've had to say goodnight to Capernwray, but I can't wait to see when and where I find myself meeting up with the people I got so close to here in England to share some goodmornings. All I can say is that sometime there must be a tour of Canada, because Capernwray was overflowing with Canadians, and also that I am praying like crazy that God will someday bring me back to Europe somehow. 

Getting my certificate of completion for finishing the course. :)
For now I am going to take the advice of one of my amazing Capernwray friends in a letter she wrote me with instructions not to read it until I had left Capernwray. So I read it in a hotel near London and was so touched by her sweet words. She said that she admired the way I life day by day and life every moment fully, so today I'm going to push all the past and future stuff away and enjoy today. I will do my best to forget about travel stress and forget about goodbyes and forget about missing home and forget about college and forget about getting a job and I am going to enjoy London! 

I think our main plan for the day is to relax in Hyde Park and read and write, which sounds so amazing. I am so excited for round two of London, since honestly my day in London before going to school didn't leave that great of an impression. But it was Good Friday and the city was packed, and all we did was see the major tourist stuff that seen from a distance really doesn't look any different than it would seen from a photograph. But now I get to see London again with an awesome group of people and less of a schedule and with more time. So London... here I come.
After our 6.5 hour coach ride from Capernwray to London I ate sandwiches with two of my closest friends on the sidewalk because we couldn't find a nice place to sit, and then I had to say goodbye to one of my best friends for what felt like the hundredth time. I hope it's not too long before we meet up again in the next country.

June 5, 2014

Washing Machine Life

Everything is changing.
My oh my how that little sentence has been true over the last couple of weeks. I've watched, from England, as all of my classmates graduate and get ready to go all over the world. It's so strange to think that all of those people will no longer be in the same place, that even if I went 'back' I could never go back. Everything is changed now.

So after a few days of panic over the fact that my friends have all graduated and moved or will move soon and then panic over the fact that I'm not going home after this and won't ever live at home again and then panic of "why in the world am I going to college in a state where I don't know anyone?" Honestly, though, what prompted me to go so far away?
I still can't believe this is where I've been going to school!

Then again, I am in England right now, and it's even further away than Vermont will be. And while one of my friends followed me here from Oaxaca, I did still come here alone. So I don't know why college seems so much more daunting.

Yeah, I guess the pictures don't really have anything to do with my post, but open doorway, you know, like a door to my future...
But that's the big abstract change that sometimes seems unconnected from my life, like I'm watching it happen to someone else. Right now the change is the end of Bible School coming up in just one week. I know I've done a terrible job at updating everyone, but these two months really have been incredible. It will be hard to leave, but I am so excited to see how I can take everything that has been poured into me during my time here and then turn it into the rest of my life.
And road to the future...

I'm trying to think of some highlights from the time here. Elephant Table Tennis was definitely fun, when a group of us played the most ridiculous table tennis ever and could not stop laughing. Parties in the Beehive are also fantastic, eating chocolate and gummy bears when we're upset about something or when we have some reason to celebrate. Reading my novel out loud to one of my friends here has also definitely been a highlight.
So many sheep here!

Of course I've also loved all of the lectures and spending time alone with the creator of all of this fantastic greenery and watching the British sunset fall over the hills. I am amazed at what God has done during this time, and I pray that as I move through a world that's spinning around and changing way too quickly for me, that I will be able to continue to grow and learn and store all of these stories for my future novels.
I went to the Pencil Museum in Keswick. How random is that? I didn't know pencils came from Keswick England.

I just need to focus on the adventure and forget the fear.

There is beauty everywhere as long as I remember to look for it.