Luckily for me, my family was able to just afford me being able to come back for Christmas... so here I am, back in the ever-ugly Utah. (I'd apologize for my opinion, but I'm back in a country where I have the right to freedom of speech!) Nevertheless, I am excited to be with ma famille!
Right, so first I just wanted to talk about some differences in the Christmas season that I noticed in Wales/the United Kingdom.
First of all?
My family's always done an advent calendar, but I've never known any other American family to do one as well. In the United Kingdom? Everyone does an advent calendar! It is so cool! Here's a picture that I was lucky enough to find online:
I love Cadbury!
Another difference is the sweets that are present. Sure, we love our candy canes and mint M&Ms here in America, but in the UK it is completely different. They're all about Christmas pudding (DELICIOUS!), Christmas cake (it's actually just fruit cake), and mince pies (DELICIOUS!)
I'd just like to take a moment to thank a couple of people:
Carla, thank you for my Christmas pudding! I now know what the big deal is... and it's scrumdeliciumptious.
Antonia, thank you for a mince pie! I have no idea what America doesn't eat them.
Hmm... oh, and so in America we do tend to skip Thanksgiving in the stores and get straight to Christmas, much to the offense of many people. Well, since there isn't a Thanksgiving in the UK, they do that every year and no one says anything, although there still is the debate of when the best time to start playing Christmas music is. Since there's no Black Friday in the UK, I'm all for the last week of November.
A delightful difference that I've noticed is the fact that they're not obnoxiously careful about offending those who don't celebrate Christmas. America, MAN UP! I have every right to go around saying "Merry Christmas". If you can't handle it, you can just suck it.
Oh, right, so I should apologize in advance. On Friday night I only got about 4.5 hours of sleep (didn't get to bed until sometime after 1am and had to be up at 5.40 to get to the airport by 6.40). Then I was up for 21 hours as I traveled from London to JFK, and then from JFK to SLC. Last night I went to bed about 10pm, but then my body decided that I'm still in the UK, so I woke up at 3am (10am in the UK) and couldn't really get back to sleep. Quite simply, I'm sleep deprived. This will result in snippiness and/or goofiness. Enjoy!
K, fun fact: the tube is not open after midnight. Keep this in mind, folks. I was queen numpty this weekend. Right, so, this was my original plan:
Friday day catch the train from Bangor into London Euston and then hop to tube to Aliza's (one of my amazing Arcadia friends) dorm, spend the night with her, and then catch the tube early the next morning into Heathrow.
My friend, Dan, lives down south as does Carla. Dan and Carla were planning on heading south that same day, so Dan asked if I wanted to carpool with them. Sounded better than the train! I went with it. New plan:
Leave Friday late afternoon/early evening, catch the train from Salisbury to London Euston, hop the tube from Euston to Aliza's stop, spend the night with Aliza, and then catch the tube early the next morning into Heathrow.
BUT THEN! There was a church dance in Reading, so we thought, "Why not stop at the dance on the way?" New plan:
Head down south with Dan and Carla late Friday afternoon/early evening, stop at the dance in Reading, catch a train from Reading at 23.46 into London Euston, catch the tube from Euston to Aliza's stop, spend the night with Aliza, head out early the next morning on the tube to Heathrow.
Sound perfect? Yeah, not so much.
I discovered on the way to Reading, after I'd bought my train ticket in advance, that the tube closed at midnight. I wasn't due to Euston until 1 in the morning. Crap. It was a little late to change any plans. So... what to do? I asked Aliza if there was any way to get from Euston to her stop after midnight, but it didn't seem like there was anything other than a taxi, and I couldn't afford a taxi. I decided to just spend the night at Euston station. Dan and Carla were not for that plan at all. Apparently it's dangerous! Haha...
Well, apparently Dan had told me ages ago that the tube closed at midnight. I honestly don't recall this, but I believe him that he said that. I guess.
Just kidding, I believe you, Dan!
Anyway, there was one of many numpty moments. I really had no idea what to do. We decided to ask around at the dance to see if anyone lived in London/near Heathrow. We weren't having much luck, but then Carla asked one of her friends, Oliver, if he knew anyone who lived near Heathrow. Oliver actually lives in Reading, and offered to let me stay in his family's spare room. There was also a train from Reading to Euston at 4.10 in the morning, so it worked perfectly. Crash at Oliver's and then just catch the train. Oliver was amazing, though. He actually offered to just drive me to Heathrow since it wouldn't have been a long drive that early in the morning (very little traffic). So that's what happened! I have never been so grateful for someone in my life. I was near freaking out, having no idea how to get to Heathrow.
Thank you, Oliver!
Lesson learned: The tube closes at midnight. I am queen numpty when it comes to travel. First Prague, now this. You'd think I'd know better by now!
Anyway, that was one stressful night I would like to not relive.
So my flight back to the States was long and uneventful. It was about 8 hours to JFK and then another 4.5 to SLC. So... long... gahhh.... but I've made it! It felt really weird being back. Driving on the right side of the road, big roads, huge cars, American accents... I felt really out of place.
I want to go back. Lucky me, I get to go back in 3 weeks!
I really don't know what I'm going to do at the end of the school year. I've never loved a place so much in my life. I will cry the day I leave Bangor. Who knows? Maybe I'll end up there for good.
Right, now is the time to make my announcement that I've been holding off on for ages:
I'm trying to transfer to Bangor University. I've filled out the application and submitted it. I was supposed to hear back if I'd been accepted before leaving for Christmas break, but the guy over my application wasn't able to finish processing it before he left for vacation. Where does that leave us, readers? Having to wait for my answer until January!
Anyway, that was my big news I'd mentioned in my last post. I'll keep y'all updated if I hear anything! I'm so excited, though. If all goes well, I'll be back in Bangor next year and in a house with some of my best friends in the world. Hopefully I'll also be able to continue being involved in the research! Speaking of which, I may get to continue in a side research experiment branching off of the one I helped with this past semester. I'm so excited! I'll probably know the details tomorrow or Tuesday.
That's my update for now! I hope y'all are having a wonderful Christmas holiday!