Category Archives: Travel

Déjà vu

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how much I appreciate things that are familiar. It’s the feeling that you get when you go home after being away for a long time, or seeing an old friend. While I love traveling, it can be stressful or overwhelming, and finding the space and making the time to relax is difficult. This morning, I went for a run (or maybe a walk? Which is it when you evenly split between the two?) to see a little more of the city with less baggage and while not incredibly tired.

It was so peaceful, with just the right pace of life to feel alive, but not rushed. I heard from some of the other Global Perspectives Program (GPP) participants about a wall that overlooks the city and when I saw it on my run, I decided to check out the view. It was gorgeous!

You walked up a slight incline into a spacious but shaded park, and if you walk to the end, you’re overlooking the city. I should have taken a picture of the park too, but I was suddenly struck with that familiar feeling. I could have sworn I had been there before.

I have been to Switzerland before. In 2006, one very brave teacher at my high school, the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS), named Mr. Wester fearlessly led a group of 16-18 year old students on a trip here. I can honestly say that I think he was crazy for doing it, but I also appreciate that he was willing to do it. It was my first trip outside of the US, and it sparked a love for travel that will probably be with me for the rest of my life. I have no idea what the itinerary was on that trip or how many days we spent in any one location, but we did go to Zürich so it is possible that this park was somewhere I had been. We saw so many things in that trip that it all starts to run together and maybe Zürich has many parks with a similar feel.

However, there was something special about the park that I remembered. We sat with a group of old men who were playing chess on a massive outdoor chess board. I loved watching them, and there was something so peaceful about their casual manner as they took their time for each turn.

Me watching chess in March of 2006

Today’s park had no old men playing chess. It was also about 6:20 in the morning, so maybe they’re not early risers. I looked around I couldn’t see the chess pieces either, or the chess boards. I was a little sad that my memory failed me, until I saw a circle of chairs off in the distance…

Sure enough, there was my chess board! But what about the prices?

They were in the storage bins, of course, neatly packed away!

With that happy discovery, I finished out my run and headed back to the hotel for breakfast.

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Running around






We’ve officially been in Nottingham for a couple of days now, so we’ve finally started to settle in. Monday started with a quick tour of campus and a delightful breakfast overlooking the lake (pictures to come in a later post). We got to meet with our UNott contact, Gary Burnett, and we began the Nottingham portion of research. We’re only just beginning, but we did get to play around with the Pioneer AR display some. After work, we went to Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem. There’s a lot of folklore to go along with the place, but the most notable thing about this restaurant is that supposedly it’s the oldest pub in England…if you ask someone from Nottingham anyways. It’s also built into the rock at the bottom of Nottingham Castle. Pretty cool!

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After dinner, we went and found the famous Robin Hood statue that’s just around the corner. It’s also at the base of the castle. I’m saving the castle visit for the future. I’ll report back once I tour it! We had way too much fun and definitely acted like loud Americans!

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Today’s research got a little more hands on. We even got some more of our tools for the research. This is a life-size cardboard cutout of a car that we might use. Gary picked the color, and yes – it’s pink.

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After work, I decided to go for a run. I originally planned to run into Nottingham City center, but mid-run I decided to change my plans. Our campus is right next to the massive Wollaton Park. I heard that there were these practically tame deer in the park and I thought I remembered that Wayne Manor was in there too. I wasn’t certain, and I actually lost hope about the mansion. Luckily, I was wrong. There were just so many trees blocking my view that I couldn’t see the house until I was right next to it. Stunning…

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The house was set high on a hill, with a beautiful view and the grounds were near perfect. I feel like the thing that makes England feel most different from the US is the attention to detail when it comes to parks. There just don’t seem to be parks like this in the US…maybe central park. But that’s just one park in a huge city, while these parks are plentiful around Nottingham and the UK (and really Europe in general).

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There was also this beautiful lake to run around. I accidentally ran through some restricted area…whoops! On the other side it only said that no dogs were allowed, I promise! Either way, it was a successful exploration of the city. I decided to skip the Elton John concert and so far, I’m glad I did. I had a relaxing evening that’s left me feeling rejuvenated and excited about working tomorrow. Here’s to hoping we can get my PowerPoint VBA code working so I can contribute to the research projects as well!

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The Beginning of Summer and Nottingham

I bet you thought I was never going to return. I did. The last few weeks have been really crazy for me. I started doing my summer research full-time. This included leading a couple of undergrads and I volunteered myself to write a couple of programs. I also moved out of my apartment and into storage. Since my lease ends while I’m in Nottingham for the summer, I had to come up with a backup plan for storage. It is nice to have it all done so I won’t have to worry about it once I get back. Add a last minute trip to Chattanooga to top it all off and let’s just say I was more stressed than I’ve been in a while. Somehow my to-do list never seemed to decrease in size no matter how much work I did. I still did manage to squeeze in a little fun though.

I’ve enjoyed the hikes around Blacksburg, and after many trips to the Cascades, I got to explore Barney’s Wall as well. After taking a wrong turn and then realizing the hike was 2 miles longer than anticipated, we were pretty tired! The view was well worth it though.

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Many more cookouts were had, including a breakfast-themed one at the St. Jeans’ house.

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I’ve never been one to crash weddings, but I must say it’s a lot of fun! Tom, Ari, Jon (left to right) and I were invited by the bride to crash the wedding. It was pretty exciting! We had a lot of fun dancing and hanging out and eating loads of candy.

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A couple of pictures from our weekend in Chattanooga. I finally got to take everyone to Food Works, one of my favorite restaurants. The food is delicious!

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After 13 hours of traveling and a lot of crying children, the group made it to Nottingham. After another couple hours of wandering, we found our dorm. It didn’t disappoint! it looks straight out of Harry Potter. We have rooms to ourselves that are pretty nice and spacious. So far, we’ve just been adjusting to the time change and getting our grocery situation set up. i’m not sure how far away the grocery store is, but it takes about 2 hours to go there and back for a quick trip.  Below, you can see our dorm, and a fun sign that I saw on my run this morning. I’ve been twice in two days, and I think I finally have the basics. You can’t buy too much in one trip since we’re walking for so long!

Tomorrow is our first day of work…a little excited, a little nervous about it all!

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