Studying Abroad? It’s Fab

One month from today, my little brother graduates from high school. Not only is my mind blown because he’s not old enough for that, but also because it means that in less than one month, I will be back in the states. Part of me is excited to be home, but I am also dreading having to say good-bye to all of my wonderful friends and this country that I have grown to love.

My time abroad has been truly brilliant and writing about all of my good experiences has been fun. But, just like anywhere else, every day is not perfect and living on another continent does come with some weird things that you have to get used to. Here are some examples:

  • I don’t have a car and I live my life according to bus and train schedules.
  • Going to the grocery store was challenging at first because the products are very different. Also, when checking out, customers bag their own groceries in reusable bags that were brought from home, because otherwise you have to pay for the plastic ones.
  • Beds don’t have a loose sheet, only have a fitted sheet and duvet comforter.
  • The temperature inside of buildings is regulated with heat radiators and by opening and closing windows, there is not central heat and air.
  • When you ask for fries in the cafeteria line, the lunch lady will give you a funny look until you remember that they are called chips.
  • Water fountains are basically non-existent. There are only four water fountains on the entire campus, two of which are in the sports center (gym), and you can forget about trying to find them in public places like shopping malls or airports.
  • If you want water while in a restaurant, you order a bottle with “gas” or “no gas,” which results in Evian that is either sparkling or flat.
  • The temperature is in Celsius, so it’s very confusing when people are super excited about it reaching anything near 20 degrees.
  • Students call tutors (professors) by the first name, modules (class) only happen once a week for 3-4 hours, and each class typically only has 1-2 graded assignments.
  • Electricity sockets have on/off switches, so if you plug your phone in at night and forget to turn the socket on, you will wake up to a dead battery (I’ve only done this about a dozen times).
  • When you ask for black coffee in a restaurant, they bring you an Americano, not a cup of filtered coffee that came from a pot.

I could go on forever about all of the small things that are different, but that’s not really my point. My point is that the short list seems trivial when you read it, but in the moment, those small things can accumulate and become overwhelming. When I walked (or flew) into this study abroad experience, I knew that some days would be harder than others, but I also knew that those bad days are normal and should be expected. So, I will be the first to admit that there have been times when I really wished the rain would go away and moments when I’ve wanted nothing more than a hug from my Momma. But, those brief moments of wishing for home have been greatly outnumbered by all of the good. My time has been filled with fun and travel, but more importantly, my comfort zone has been stretched to accommodate for all of these small differences and other cultural norms that at first seemed so strange, but now, are second nature.

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Berlin, Germany: Part 2

April 28, 2018 – Our second and last full day in Berlin began when I woke up to someone yelling “oh my goodness, it’s snowing!!”

  1. I wasn’t very pleased with the rude awakening, but, it is to be expected when staying in a backpacking hostel where each room houses 12 people.
  2. Surprise! There actually were quite large snowflakes falling.
  3. I found out later that the yelling dude is from Florida and had never seen snow before. I guess that makes it a little more okay?

Anyway, the rest of the day was quite full as we wanted to see as many things as possible.  Our first stop was a free museum called the Topography of Terrors, which stands on the ground where the Reich Security Main Office (RSHA), Gestapo, Reich SS Leadership, and the security service of the SS, used to be located. Walking through the exhibits made me think about seeing the Anne Frank House just a week ago, how we would be going to Aushwitz the very next day, and the fact that all of the other countries we would be visiting throughout the trip had lived under Nazi occupation. It was eye-opening to realize how removed I am from these parts of history and my lack of understanding how greatly these events affects so so many people.

Our next stop was the Berlin Cathedral on Museum Island. In comparison to other cathedrals that I have been in, it is much newer because of the continual reconstruction projects that have occurred during its lifetime. The best part was getting to go up to the dome (267 steps later!) and walk around on the outside of it while it was still snowing. The view was clouded by snow, but it was still a nice experience. We also toured the crypts, in which a large of number of Prussian royalty and nobility have been laid to rest.

Afterward, we headed to the Altes Museum (Old Museum), which is also on Museum Island. I’m not sure where I got the preconceived notion that the museum would be about German history, but I was very wrong. The museum was filled with Ancient Greek and Roman art, which isn’t really my thing, but it was still nice.

Next on the list was the Eastside Gallery, a portion of the Berlin wall that was covered in art by 105 various artists in the 1990s. It measures 1,316 metres (~0.6 miles) long and is considered a monument which honors of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  Some of the paintings were colorful and pretty while others were dark and mysterious. This was probably one of my favorite parts of Berlin.

Our last stop of the day was the Reichstag building, which we had seen yesterday on our tour. But, this time, we got to go inside. After waiting in the security line, showing our passports, going through metal detectors, and having our bags scanned, we took a huge elevator to the top of the building where we walked out onto the roof and had a great view of the city. Then, we were able to walk into the dome and to the top of it. From inside, you have a clear line of sight into the room where parliament meets. So cool! The building is really modern and quite a sight.

And, just like that, our 2 days of sight-seeing in Berlin were up! The city is so full of things to do and places to see that it was impossible to do them all, so I guess I’ll just have to go back someday. 🙂

 

Berlin, Germany: Part 1

Berlin was stop #2 on our spring break adventure. Our flight arrived quite late in the evening, so as soon as we arrived, we made our way to the hostel and called it a night.

On our first full day in the city, we went on a bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours – I highly recommend them! We had a really great time. During the tour, we hit most of Berlin’s famous attractions and learned about it’s unique history.

  • The place where Berlin now sits was initially a swamp with Slavic/pagan inhabitants. Berl means ‘swamp’ in old Polabian, which is the origin of the name. The city was founded in 1237. 
  • Our first stop on the tour was Bebelplatz, one of the many city squares.
    • The Berlin State Opera (Staatsoper Unter den Linden) – originally completed in 1742. The building was renamed Lindenoper in 1918 after the collapse of the German Empire. During the reign of the Nazis, Jewish members of the ensemble were dismissed and many German musicians exiled. The building was bombed in 1941 and again in 1945. In the 1990s, it’s name was officially reverted to the original name.  
    • St. Hedwig’s Cathedral (Sankt-Hedwigs-Kathedrale) – the first catholic church built in Prussia after the reformation.
    • Humbolt University – founded in 1810 and one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Famous alumni include Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Albert Einstein, W. E. B. DuBois, the Brothers Grimm, and Felix Mendelssohn. It is associated with 55 Nobel Prize winners!
    • The book burning of May 10, 1993 – 20,000 “un-German” books from homes, libraries, and academic collections were burned in the square. Today, there are two plates set in the ground, inscribed with the words: “That was but a prelude; where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well.” Heinrich Heine wrote those words in 1820 regarding the Spanish Inquisition. Then, 100 years later, the same book containing those words in was burned in the square. In the middle, there is a window looking through to a sunken library which is full of empty bookshelves. It is said to house the books that were lost in the fire.
  • Gendarmenmarkt Square
    • Konzerthaus Berlin – famous concert hall which houses the German orchestra. It was built as a theatre from 1818-1821, but it has been used as a concert hall since WWII. While we were looking at the building, our tour guide pointed out that the statues on the opera house and surrounding buildings appear to be much older than the buildings which they sit on. This is because at the beginning of WWII, Hitler knew that Berlin would be a target for bombings, so he had all statues removed throughout the city and then hidden underwater to preserve them. Following the war and reconstruction of the buildings, the statues were replaced. 
    • The French Cathedral and Neue Kirche – following the 30 years war of Europe, Berlin’s population was low and economy was struggling. In response, open arms were extended to people being prosecuted in other countries. French Huguenots (Calvinists) immigrated and ultimately made up 25% of Berlin’s population. To show gratitude to the French for coming to Berlin, the French Catherdral (Französischer Dom) was built. This church is housed in the square. However, following the construction of the French Cathedral, the Germans were not happy that they did not also have a cathedral. This led to the construction of The Neue Kirche, also Gendarmenmarkt square, which stands 1 metre taller than the French cathedral. 
  • Checkpoint Charlie and the Berlin Wall. 
    • The Potsdam agreement was signed in 1945 by representatives from the United Kingdom, USA, and Soviet Union. It resulted in the division of German lands, military occupation, and reconstruction. This arrangement worked well for several years. But, the Marshall Plan was signed 1948 as a way to boost the economy of West Germany and aid in the rebuilding of western Europe. The soviets didn’t like the plan and refused to accept aide from the United States. In response, all supplies going to West Berlin were stopped. To maintain West Berlin, all resources were flown into the country. It is estimated that a plane landed every 90 seconds during that time, which resulted in the Soviet’s plan to fail and gates reopen. 
    • The German Democratic Republic (GDR, east) and Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, west) were established in 1949 and continued to be separated by the iron curtain. 
    • A brain drain of doctors, educators, scientists, and other skilled, highly-educated people began and East Germany was rapidly losing many valuable people from its population. On August 13, 1961, the building of the first Berlin Wall began. It only took a week for the 155km/96mi wall to be completed. 
    • People from West Germany were able to visit East Berlin, but not vice versa. There were very specific procedures that had to be followed. First, they would go through checkpoint alpha where the car was searched, weighed, and meticulously documented. The people in the car then had 2 hours to reach checkpoint bravo, where the same process ensued, and all details had to match. The third and most famous checkpoint was checkpoint Charlie.
  • Hitler’s Bunker – today, the large and completely underground fortress of 32 rooms is completely filled in with rubble with a dirt car park on top. There is only a small sign to mark the space. It couldn’t have been more understated, which I think is very proper way to avoid commemoration of such an awful place.
    • Hitler retreated to his bunker on January 16, 1945. He had never married his longtime girlfriend, Eva Braun, because he was “married” to Germany. However, he became angry at Germany, blaming the country for the fact that they were on the losing side of the war. So, he “divorced” his country and married Braun on April 29th inside of the bunker. The two then committed suicide together the next day by taking cyanide pills. However, Hitler also shot himself for good measure. Their bodies were then burned, as he had instructed. However, the Russians overtook the area and were able to identify Hitler by his dental records. Their bodies were then thrown into a river to avoid honouring him with a burial or grave. 
  • Jewish Holocaust Memorial – completed in 2005 to honour the 6 million Jews that had been murdered. The memorial does not have a specific meaning attached to it, but visitors are encouraged to peruse the somber memorial and form their own meaning. 
    • The memorial is coated in a chemical that protects it from graffiti. If it is defaced, it can simply be wiped clean by another chemical. However, after the memorial was completed, it was pulicized that the company responsible for developing the anti-graffiti chemical was the same company (under a different name) that had developed and sold Zyklon B. This was the gas used in concentration camp gas chambers. Following the reveal of this information, there were protests at the memorial until the company admitted to the accusations, apologized, and gifted the anti-grafitti chemical to the memorial at no cost. Some other companies that have been known for their contributions to the Nazis are Hugo Boss (designed Nazi uniforms), Volkswagen (Hitler helped design the VW Beetle and described it as a car fit for a proper German), Coca-Cola (refused to sell coke to the Germans, but secretly developed Fanta, which was marketed as the premier Nazi drink of choice), and others. I thought this was fascinating. 
  • Pariser Platz 
    • Brandenburg Gate – completed in 1791 to mark the end of the boulevard Unter den Linden. However, in 1806, Napoleon visited the area. When he left, he took the statue from the top of the gate back to France for his personal gallery. The statue was returned 8 years later and now “looks” at the French Embassy, which is also housed in the square.
    • Hotel Adlon – where Michael Jackson dangled his child from the 3rd story balcony. Apparently, people pay big bucks to stay in that room.
  • Victory Column – Celebrates the Prussian victories over the Danish, Austria, and France. Panels that depicted the defeat of French armies were stolen from the monument and stored in the basement of the Louvre for many years. They were returned to Berlin on it’s  750th birthday.
  • Reichstag Building – the German Parliament.
    • It was mysteriously burned down on February 27, 1933, not long after Hitler was elected chancellor (Jan 30, 1933). A man was found at the scene of the crime, soaked in gasoline, and “confessed” to setting the fire. However, he was schizophrenic, communist, and known for confessing to crimes that he did not commit. Regardless, this event led to the Reichstag Fire Decree by the president on February 29, 1933. This was advised by Hitler, revoked the civil liberties of citizens, and made it possible for the Nazis to begin establishing themselves as the one party of Germany. Eventually, Hitler was able to pass the Enabling Act on March 24, 1933, which gave Hitler the power to pass laws without the consent of the Reichstag and ultimately establish a legal dictatorship. 
    • The current building was completed in 1999. In front of it, flies the largest German flag in existence. German flags are not often flown in Germany because patriotism does not have the same positive connotation that it has in other countries. 
  • Museum Island (Museuminsel) – it is actually not an island. It is where two rivers meet. Houses the Bode Museum, Altes Museum, Pergamon Museum, Neues Museum, and Berlin Cathedral. 

And, ~4 hours later, that was the end of our tour! Overall, I couldn’t have been more pleased because  I learned SO much and have a much more complete perspective on WWII.

Stay tuned for Day 2 of Berlin, coming soon. 🙂

Easter Holiday: European Edition

Hiya, friends! It’s been awhile!

I just got back from doing some traveling for Easter Holiday, aka spring break. Myself and 3 other international students, armed with 1 carry-on and personal item each,  visited 7 cities in 5 countries over the course of 18 days. It was a crazy trip to say the least, but so worth it. I will share more about individual places later, but for now, here are some highlights.

  • Essen, Germany: Some of our fellow international students live in Essen, so of course we had to make a stop to see them. We stayed one night in Julia’s flat and explored Essen a little bit. Seeing a little bit of their daily life and getting to love on sweet Pablo, Julia’s dog, was such a treat!
  • Berlin, Germany: During this stop we went on a fun bike tour, visited the Berlin Wall, and went into the Reichstag (German Parliament building) – just to name a few things. It was really cold while we were there and it even snowed!
  • Oświęcim, Poland: This is where Auschwitz-I and Auschwitz-II Birkenau are located. We spent all of our time exploring the two concentration camps.
  • Oslo, Norway: During our time in Oslo, we explored the National Gallery, Viking Ship Museum, saw the famous Opera House, and spent quite a bit of time in the Nobel Peace Prize Centre. Oslo was so beautiful! I felt like I fit right in with the locals.
  • Warsaw, Poland: Some of you are probably wondering why we went from Poland, all the way to Norway, and then back to Poland. It’s because we found really cheap airfare, and why not?? We got to experience some really wonderful weather in Warsaw – the sun was shining and sky was blue for most of our stay. We learned a lot about Chopin and took some time away from learning about serious things to explore the Capernicus Science Museum  – for those of you from OKC, think the OKC Science Museum ;). We were happy to be back in Poland because our first stay just wasn’t long enough.
  • Budapest, Hungary: We again were treated with some really nice weather. Not wearing a jacket for the first time in 4 months felt very strange, but liberating. My favorite things about this city was the pretty architecture and the chance to learn about communism in the House of Terrors Museum. As our travels have continued, my understanding of WWII and communism has grown exponentially.
  • Prague, Czech Republic: We were greeted in the Czech Republic by one of the other international students who is originally from the beautiful country. He showed us around the city center and major historical sites before taking us to a traditional Czech meal. While in Prague, we also explored the Prague Castle, saw the John Lennon Wall, and had a picnic in a park.
  • Essen, Germany: We concluded our adventure with one more night with our friends in Germany. At this point, we were exhausted. Luckily, we were able to just hang out, order sushi, and enjoy each other’s company before having to go back to uni and get serious about end-of-term assessments and final exams. Plus, we got to celebrate Michelle’s (aka Granny’s) birthday! Happy Birthday, Granny!

18 days later, we have been to 11 museums (I think), 10 countries, on 9 airplanes, visited 7 cities, used 5 currencies, and saw way too many historical sites to count. I have seen more of the world in the last two and a half weeks than in all 21 years of my life and I could not be more thankful for all of the knowledge and perspective that have been gained. I can’t wait to share more about these wonderful cities with you, but for now, I have to get to back to work. The end of term is coming, and I am not quite ready for exams (haha) or to part with so many wonderful friends. Ta, for now!

xx,

Mad (or as most of my uni friends call me – Maddie)

Hallo, Amsterdam!

My most recent adventure was last week in the unique city of Amsterdam. Adelaide and I took advantage of our lack of modules for a quick 4 day trip. Despite the insanely long security line that resulted in us sprinting through the Manchester airport and getting to our gate seconds before it closed, we had a wonderful time!

Our first morning in the city of bicycles and canals was spent in a brunch spot where we met a tall Texan dude. Addie and I had previously made note of his American accent when we overheard him talking to other customers in the restaurant. Then, we heard him say the word “Texas” and I’m pretty sure that our heads almost snapped off as we whipped around to say that Addie is also from Texas.  After starting a conversation with him, he got very excited about learning that we go to school in OKC. He asked us if we had ever been to The Mule, a restaurant in the plaza district. Apparently, he really loves the Macaroni Pony, a sandwich from that restaurant that my dad also really enjoys. What a coincidence!

Next on our agenda was a walking tour of the city. We had a lovely tour guide with lots of information about its history. This is some of what we learned:

  • Catholicism was outlawed in the 1500s after the Dutch Republic had a bad experience with the Spanish Inquisition. So, there were hidden catholic churches all over the city. We walked by one that was called “Our Dear Lord in the Attic” because it was literally a church in an attic. Catholics were “allowed” to have these secret churches as long as they were discreet and paid a special catholic double tax.
  • The highest area of the city is 3 meters above sea level with of the city being below sea level. Before it was settled in the the 12th century, the area was just a huge swamp, which is why there are so many canals and dams.
  • Around the time of WWII, there was a large Jewish population in the country because Jews had slowly migrated North as a result of persecution in other countries. The Netherlands were overtaken in only 5 days during May of 1940. During the occupation, Jews were slowly stripped of their rights. They were not able to attend the cinema, required to wear the star of David, had specific times of day they were allowed outside, and were not permitted to ride bikes. There was an area of town with a larger concentration of Jewish people as well as being spread throughout the city. A map which showed where all of the Jews lived got into the hands of the Nazi’s, which resulted 95% of all Jews living in the Netherlands to be deported to concentration camps.
  • Amsterdam University. The main building is where the Dutch East India trading company used to have its headquarters. At the time of the company’s establishment, the country was a republic and did not have a monarch. Because of this, there was not a source of funding to send voyages to other countries in search of trade. The East India Trading company needed funding, so they went to the citizens. This is why the Dutch claim the invention of the stock market and how they managed to be the richest European country for a period of about 200 years. Eventually, the Dutch wanted to find a faster way to get to Asia for trading. A voyage set out, and they found land after 2 months. However, it was America, not Asia. They settled the area anyway and called it New Amsterdam. This region was then traded with England and today is New York City.

After our tour, we made our way through the Van Gogh museum, which was amazing! He is an artist that we all hear about, but my previous knowledge only consisted of him cutting off his ear and painting The Starry Night. The museum was very educational and I really enjoyed seeing more of his work and learning about his life. I definitely recommend.

Day two in Amsterdam began with the Anne Frank House, and wow. I read the diary several years ago, but seeing it come to life by actually walking through the secret door and standing in the very rooms where she wrote the diary was incredible. Going through the house doesn’t take much longer than an hour, but it is absolutely a must-see.

Amsterdam: the city of bikes. They say that there are more bicycles in Amsterdam than there are people, and after walking the bicycle-littered streets, I can say that I believe that. The only thing more dangerous than actually riding a bicycle is being a tourist, not quite remembering that there are bike lanes, and running a very real risk of being plastered to the pavement by a woman riding her bicycle in a dress and heels. Luckily, Addie and I made it out alive with only a few close calls. We knew that we had to at least ride a bike, but were not confident in our abilities to do so in one of the busy bike lanes. Our compromise was to ride around Vondelepark. It was pretty cold, but so worth it.

We also paid a visit to Hortus Botanicus, a botanical garden, as well as Bloemenmarkt. Bloemenmarkt is the floating flower market where tulips and many other flowers are sold. As the grand-daughter and daughter of flower growers, of course, I had to go. It was fun to look for and find canna bulbs (the flower that my family grows).

Our time in Amsterdam was short, but just long enough to get a feel of the city and its culture. I hope to go again someday, but perhaps when it is warm outside. 😉

Holiday In Lux & Paris

It’s not very often that one can spend four months abroad. It’s even less often that a person can see various family members on different sides of the family within days of each other, each in a different country. I had previously said good-bye to Mema and Aunt Ramona in England, and just a few days later, I found myself in the Luxembourg airport giving my cousin Lindsey a huge hug. (I had a week off of school for “dissertation week” which is supposed to be for the uni seniors to finish and turn in their dissertations. Lucky for me, I had the week off and no dissertation to write.) The very next day, we met up with our other cousin, Kelly, and headed to Paris. I will never not be amazed at how small the world is.

As wonderful as it was, naturally, we had a few mishaps that involved running down the silent and snowy streets of Luxembourg, laden with backpacks in pursuit of a bus. The bus driver apparently didn’t see the two ridiculous-appearing Turner gals huffing and puffing down the street. Luckily, Kelly and Rob came to our rescue and got us to the train station – our Paris adventure was off with a bang! The next mishap had to do with Big Bertha, but I won’t go into that. 😉

We had a lovely first day with beautiful weather – we even got to unzip our jackets a little bit while walking! We toured the Notre-Dame de Paris, the royal chapel of Sainte-Chapelle, walked across the River Seine (a couple of times), walked up and down the Champs-Élysées, and beef caked it up 284 steps to the top of the Arc de Triomphe where we could see the whole city and the twinkling Eiffel Tower. The weather of day two was slightly less nice, especially as we became ice cakes while waiting in the rain for over an hour to get into the Louvre. After finally making it inside, we had to manoeuvre through flying elbows, pushy tourists, and waving selfie sticks to get a glimpse of the microscopic Mona Lisa. To celebrate making it out of there alive, we ate really yummy food on the streets of Paris while sitting under heat lamps and doing some serious people watching.

While doing all of these things, I’m pretty sure that our mouths were going a million kilometres a minute, in true Turner woman fashion. There are some things about living abroad that only someone else who has also lived abroad will understand, so we had some good laughs while comparing our European experiences and the social norms that we have come across. Kelly and Lindsey are both a little older than me and are technically my second cousins, but as we talked, I could hear my Aunt Vicki’s words, see my Aunt Shalisa’s mannerisms, and observe little characteristics of basically everyone in the family. I felt right at home, like we were chatting at a family dinner at my Boppa and Nonna’s house. The feeling of home while being in a foreign place was a welcome feeling for this girl that hasn’t hugged her Momma in over 2 months.

In addition to the lovely Paris weekend, I had the chance to stick around Luxembourg for a few days and spend some time in the Forster household. It was so fun to see the school where my younger cousins attend, see their home of the last several years, and just be apart of their day-to-day life of dance, swimming lessons, school, homework, and grocery shopping. We have never lived in the same place or had the opportunity to spend an extended amount of time together, so it was really a proper treat. Kelly also showed me around Luxembourg City and we made a day trip to Vianden Castle. The ability to drive across the country in about 45 minutes made it much easier to become acquainted with the sweet little country.

Our time together was absolutely lovely and I have memories that I know will last a lifetime. Fortunately, as I headed back to England, I got to say “see ya soon!” because I’ll be back in Luxembourg one more time at the end of the semester.

A Liv Tour and Ta for Now

After a fun weekend of shenanigans in London, I parted ways with Mema and Aunt Mona on Sunday. I was headed back to uni in Ormskirk and they were headed to Liverpool. Ormskirk is the small town on the outskirts of Liverpool and we often take the 30 minute train to Liverpool for of it’s variety of restaurants, museums, art galleries, and other things to do. I was so excited to show Mema and Mona around my new stomping grounds!

While I did have to go to class on Monday morning, I was able to join Mema and Ramona for an afternoon on the town. We rode around Liverpool on a hop on and hop off bus tour before looking around the Liverpool Cathedral, which is even larger than St. Paul’s cathedral in London! It’s construction began in 1904 and lasted until 1978. It took much longer than planned to complete as a result of design conflicts as well as lack of resources during WWI and WWII. Today, the cathedral is in the middle of a campaign to restore the roof and do some other renovations. However, as an onlooker, I was very impressed by the beautiful stained glass, wonderful wood carvings of the altar, and massiveness of the ceilings. This was a part of Liverpool that I didn’t even know existed and it was very nice to stumble across the hidden gem.

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Liverpool Cathedral – looking to the back

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Looking to the altar

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The altar

After touring the Liv cathedral and the more modern Metropolitan Cathedral, we made our way to one of my favorite places in Liverpool: The Albert Dock. This is where the Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Liverpool Museum, Tate Art Gallery, and Beatles Museum are located. You can also hitch a ride on a River Mersey Ferry, as was described in the 1964 song by Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Another famous sight along the pier is the Royal Liver Building and a larger-than-life statue of the Beatles. The Liver building is famous for being the home of its two Liver birds. One faces the sea and watches over sailors while the other watches over the city. It is said that if the two fabled birds were to fly away, the city would cease to exist. Because of this, the two birds are tightly bound to the building by chains.

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The Beatles and the Liver Building

As we walked back toward the city centre, we ended our day by catching a glimpse of a beautiful sunset over the Albert Dock area and River Mersey.

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The next day, we were greeted by snow on the ground! This is basically unheard of in northwestern England – we joked that it was because of us three Snow girls. 😉

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Thankfully, the snow didn’t disrupt the roads or transit system, so Mema and Mona were able to join me in Ormskirk where I gave to give them a campus tour. Along the way, we ran into my favorite barista from the coffee stand. I had met her on one of my first days on campus and she has been looking after me ever since I have been here. When she sees me, she always asks how I am and how life in England is treating me. If I ever needed something, I know that she is someone that I could ask. I had told her beforehand that my grandmother and aunt were coming to uni, and she asked that I bring them by so she could meet them. It was so fun to see my two worlds collide a little bit as they met.

After our campus tour, I had to take them to one of my favorite places in Ormskirk: Love to Eat. It’s a nice little shop with yummy pastries and tea.

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Unfortunately, our visit had to come to a close. Mema and Mona were headed back to London the next day before their return to the U.S. I was sad to see their train pull away from the station, but I am so thankful for the memories that we made! Ta for now, and I’ll see you in May. 🙂

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