The British Library

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The British Library, though much bigger and grander than expected, lived up to my expectations. I never imagined the British Library like a normal county or city library that exist in the states. I imagined it would more resemble a collegiate library, or something like the Library of Congress and I wasn’t wrong. Upon entering this library I was overwhelmed by its grand but sleek design. There were many directions to choose from, and many things to view. The grand entrance was flooded with light from the numerous windows above, but it wasn’t a warm light in this environment. Not to say it was cold, but it was as if the light was only a tool, used to highlight the sleek lines all around you.

Like the sleek lines in the entrance, you are expected to follow a strict set of rules. Being loud, a no no. Photography, nope. And if you intend to actually touch a book, that is go into a room where they aren’t behind glass, you must have a reader’s card. 20140915_114100 <—- Like this one.

You must also leave your belongings in a locker. Anything coming with you must be in a see through plastic bag, provided for you. No writing implements other than pencils are allowed.

I have to say my absolute favorite part of the library was being able to see the hand painted and hand printed books in the gallery. It was an amazing experience being able to see just how much hard work went into books.

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Assignment Numero Due

Next up on the Hughes chat list is a quote on page 63, a quote that for me shows an absolute crazy point in time for Rome. I never imagined that Rome was like this, much less it’s emperor. Emperor Nero was the Roman emperor from 54 to 68 AD, and apparently taking the throne at 17 didn’t stop him from being a juvenile delinquent.

“The wise night-rambler should wear a padded leather cap to protect his head, not only against such hazards, but from the assaults of other and more delinquent Romans. One of these, according to Suetonius, was the young Emperor Nero, whose sport was to prowl the alleys of his imperial capital with a gang of friends and bash strangers insensible– ‘He was in the habit of clubbing people on their way home from banquets, and if anyone fought back he would beat him badly and throw him in a sewer.’ To be mugged and then half drowned in excrement by a prowling emperor was the kind of fate which not even Georgian London, for all its bad sanitation and royal absolutism, inflicted on its visitors. But it would have been hard to tell if your assailant was a Nero or a mere commoner, since the streets of Rome were unlit and unpoliced.”

In the past anytime I visualize medieval Europe I pictured the UK, most likely because of tales of Arthur, Lancelot, and knights I had heard growing up. I never pictured Rome, the city of the pope, to be so dark and unbelievably dangerous. My mind conjures up images of Brooklyn, with no cops and no light, or even images of some Chinese street with its super close and compact buildings and confusing street signs. I know traveling is dangerous, with pick pockets and slave traders, but to even imagine the ruler of a domain partaking in such violence (unprovoked, no cause violence), is insane. And apparently he had lots of other violent tendencies as well, arson being one of them.

 

Assignment Numero Uno

Rome by Robert Hughes is first on the list to chat about, and I, specifically, will be talking about a few quotes from one of the most interesting, I believe, prologues I’ve read. It’s even better considering it’s a history novel. Hughes makes his reader crave the beauty of Rome, and therefore more interested in learning about its history.

One quote in particular, from the prologue, struck a chord with me, a familiar chord I had only felt during my beloved trips to German country sides.

“Nothing exceeds the delight of one’s first immersion in Rome on a fine spring morning, even if it is not provoked by the sight of any particular work of art. The enveloping light can be of an incomparable clarity, throwing into gentle vividness every detail presented to the eye. First, the color, which was not like the color of other cities I had been in. Not concrete color, not cold glass color, not the color of overburned brick or harshly pigmented paint. Rather, the worn organic colors of the ancient earth and stone of which the city is composed…” -Page 5

I believe that there is a moment of clarity for anyone with a dream to travel, a moment where all of the waiting, dreaming, and hours of a screaming child at 35,000 feet becomes worth it. For Hughes it was that moment, for me it was on a back road on the border of Austria and Germany. I was standing on the side of the road, beside green hills, trees, and a sparkling blue river. I realized in that moment how much these hills had lived through, how much life this river had hosted, and how I could feel the history in the earth around me. I knew in that moment that I would do whatever it took to feel that again, to travel to places I dream of, and experience things most people only talk about.

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Class Assignments

Starting today, I and my fellow classmates will begin posting responses to our assigned readings. Given that, I figured I would give my viewers (if I have any ;)), a list of what we are reading:

Rome by: Robert Hughes

Room With A View by: E. M. Forester

Four Seasons in Rome by: Anthony Doerr

The Roman Republic by: David M. Gwynn

Julius Caesar & The Comedy of Errors by: William Shakespeare

Menaechmi (The Twin Brothers) by: Plautus

Alright, so those are it. Feel free to read with us/me and I’ll gladly discuss them with you. Enjoy!

My Packing and Tip List

This list is specifically for my trip, meaning specific airlines and neighborhoods; but that doesn’t mean it can’t easily be tailored for other trips.


*-My personal recommendation, but not necessary
Italic – needs to be easily accessible

Carry-On Baggage:

AIR CANADA Standard article Personal article
Maximum size 9 in x 15.5 in x 21.5 in
Wheels and handles included.
6 in x 13 in x 17 in
Maximum weight 22 lbs 22 lbs
EASY JET Only one cabin bag is allowed with no weight restriction
Guaranteed Size 7.8 in x 15.5 in x 19.6 in Guaranteed space aboard
Maximum Size 9.8 in x 17.7 in x 22 in Might have to be moved to hold storage

In other words, you can have one small suitcase or duffle bag, and a regular sized backpack or purse, on our flights to and from the US. If you’re checking a suitcase (which I strongly recommend, find on page 6), a smaller duffle bag or back pack instead of a smaller suitcase is better for your carryon. Rolling two suitcases is a pain, trust me. Duffle bags and backpacks are easy to throw across your shoulder while still carrying your personal item, and are lighter than even small suitcases. You’re also less likely to over pack a smaller duffle bag or backpack, which makes it even lighter.bagtravel

Carrying both a small suitcase/duffle and a personal bag or backpack comes in handy for before, on, and after the plane. Anything you might need during the flight or at the airport, make sure it is in your personal bag; anything else put in your carry on suitcase/duffle or your checked bag. You can store the suitcase or duffle in the overhead compartment, and by keeping the things you want/need handy in your personal bag, you won’t have to get up and dig in the overhead compartments during the flight. This will keep you, and those sitting near you happier.

Now, for our flight between London and Rome it gets a bit more difficult, and you really might want to plan to pay for a bag to go into hold (page 6). Trying to fit everything you’re packing for three weeks, in one small bag, will most likely result in frustration and forgotten items; but more power to you if you want to go for it. On the EasyJet flight we get one small bag in the cabin with us. Personally, I usually go with a duffle and a backpack, like what is allowed on Air Canada; but considering that on our EasyJet flight we can only have one carry on, I’ll go with a backpack for easier organization and transportation on both flights.

*Something I also do, is pack a smaller purse or clutch into my carry on. Having the smaller bag within a bag is easy for at the airport, on the plane, and also when you get to your destination. I can have everything important right at my fingertips at the airport, I can have both a big and small personal bag while traveling, and I can pop to the loo on the plane without causing a ruckus by sorting through my bag.

General rules when packing your carry-ons:

  1. All liquids and gels must be under 3.4 ounces. If it is any bigger it will be thrown away. (don’t learn the hard way like I did)
  2. All liquids and gels must be placed in a one quart sized or smaller plastic bag and you can only have one bag. carryon
  3. Your medications must be in labeled bottles and prescriptions must be in their original and labeled bottle. These also should be in a plastic bag.
  4. Both plastic bags should be easily accessible, as you need to pull them out when going through security.
  5. Also on the need to be accessible list are: laptops, e-readers, tablets, video games, dvd players, etc. as they also need to be pulled out through security.
  6. Make sure to pack breakables and all necessary medications in your carry-on.
  7. Make sure your carry-ons are organized and neat.
  8. Bring photocopies of all important documents: IDs, passport, insurance, itinerary, etc.

Packing your carry-on suitcase/bag:
o An extra outfit– pants (or trousers as they call them in London), underwear (called either pants or knickers), shirts, socks
o A pair of comfortable pants – not your bright pink pajama pants, but something non-constricting
o An extra pair of shoes
o A Jacket or Cardigan
o Hair brush/comb
o Non-Emergency Medications
o Jewelry

If you aren’t checking a bag:
o Toiletry Quart sized bag – Travel size: Shampoo, Conditioner, Body wash, Face wash, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, *lotion (you can easily transfer the sanitizer and lotion to your personal bag after security)
o Disposable razor & cartridges
o Toothbrush
o Loofah/wash cloth
o Plus all other wardrobe items listed under the checked bag list

Packing your personal bag: if you are only taking one carry-on, combine this with the above list, cancelling the doubles of course.
o A sweater (a jumper or pullover) or a cardigan (a cardie)
o Flip-flops or socks – more comfortable on the plane than normal shoes, but don’t plan to wear your flip-flops anywhere but on the plane or in the apartments (aka flats), because flip flops aren’t thought of too highly in Europe
o Eye mask – You might end up next to someone who wants to read the whole way. Eye masks also induce a deeper, more peaceful sleep.
o Ear plugs – Even if you aren’t sensitive to noise while sleeping, planes and airports can be noisy, and you never know when you’re going to end up on a plane with a screaming baby or child.
o *Pillow – The pillow provided on planes is usually small and easily flattened, a neck pillow is great for sleeping on long flights
o Journal/Notebook – Just a good idea in general
o Pen and or Pencils – What else are you going to write with
o Toiletry/Makeup Pouch – Keeps things more organized

  • toiletrybag*Tissues – For those moments when you don’t have a napkin
  • Chapstick or Lip-gloss
  • *Lotion – You never know how your skin will react in the air
  • *Colgate Wisp brushes- an easy fast, disposable mini-toothbrush
  • Wet Wipes – When you’re flying for 10+ hours being able to freshen up is heaven
  • Mini-Deodorant – Do you have to ask?
  • Mini sanitizer bottle – This is a must have when traveling
  • Hair Ties
  • Feminine Items – Just in case
  • *Make-up

o Medication Ziploc Bag – Emergency/Necessary Meds should remain in your personal bag, but you can move the non-essentials to your small suitcase or duffle
o Copy of complete flight itinerary
o Boarding pass
o Passport
o *ID
o Wallet
o Cash (it’s usually cheapest to get foreign money out of ATMs in the country, depending on your bank, but getting a little before leaving is smart): and remember we will be using pounds in London: £ and euros in Rome: .
o Laptop/Tablet
o Address of hotel or hostel
o Guidebook – It’s good to look at on the plane
o *Phone
o *Music player

aircanadao Headphones – it’s smart to have comfortable outside the ear headphones, in case you fall asleep. If you have any plans on enjoying your own personal tv screen and don’t want to pay the airline for cheap headphones bring your own.
o Book or e-reader – To pass time.
o Chargers and cords – Air Canada, amazingly, has usb charging slots as well as three prong outlets next to the screen.
o *Crossword, Sudoku, word search, etc.
o *Deck of cards – So you can play with friends or by yourself
o *Empty water bottle – Saves you money and you can fill it up once you get past security

o Snacks – If peanuts and pretzels aren’t your thing, or you just get hungry


Checked Baggage or Hold Luggage

  Average Weight Limit Maximum Weight Limit Dimensions Price
Air Canada (From and to US) 50 lbs 51-70 lbs+$100 62 inches(h+l+w) 1st bag – Free2nd – $100
Easy Jet (From London to Rome) 44 lbs 46-70 lbs+$$ Bigger than cabin bag $19-$36Depending on flight and only when paying ahead of time

Checking a bag is one of the easiest ways to travel, though sometimes scary depending on which horror stories you have heard. I personally haven’t ever lost my luggage and have only had my checked bag searched once (they do random checks to make sure you’re not carrying anything illegal). A checked bag doesn’t have nearly the amount of packing restrictions as carry-on luggage, meaning you can bring things from home that you would otherwise have to buy like toiletry items, which can be very expensive in Europe.

General Tips when packing bags:
o Roll your clothes – folding takes up more room and is more frustrating to go through
o Put in a few dryer sheets – keeps your clothes fresh
o Organizers are a great idea if you want to spend a few bucks
o Leave room for any potential souvenirs
o Check the weather before you pack

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Day Clothes
o Trousers – jeans, slacks, etc.
o Skirts*
o Dresses* – Varying types/lengths
o Tops – All types with options to dress up and down
o Tank tops/camis/undershirt* – Layers are a very smart idea, because, like in Oregon, the weather can change on a dime

Night/Sleep Clothes – whatever you like to sleep in and be comfortable, but enough coverage you won’t be embarrassed walking down the hallway of the dorm in London or around your apartment in Rome… Speaking of which:
o Shorts – You can bring day shorts as well, but shorts are generally disliked in Europe and seen as children’s clothing
o Sweatpants, yoga pants, etc.
o Tanks and/or Tees
Outerwear
o Sweater/cardigan
o *Sweatshirt/hoodie
o Windbreaker/light rain coat
o Small umbrella

Accessories
o Lightweight scarves* – very highly recommended!
o Shoes – flats, boots, toms, etc. non-tennis shoes and non-heels are best ——Tennis shoes or sneakers, though comfy, are gym material and will scream tourist. Putting a nice pair of insoles in your other shoes can make them comfy as well. Try not to bring too many pairs since they can add on a decent amount of weight, as well as take up valuable space.
o A few key pieces of jewelry*- Non-expensive
o Underwear & Bras – if you don’t plan on doing laundry, bring plenty
o Leggings*
o Comfy socks
o Sunglasses
o A paper/fabric handheld fan*- humidity is a pain no matter what country you’re in

Toiletries: Can be full size, but please place liquids in a plastic bag to prevent spill mishaps.
o Shampoo/Conditioner
o Body Wash
o Deodorant
o *Perfume
o *Lotion
o *Shaving cream
o Feminine Items
o Disposable razor & cartridges
o Toothbrush
o Toothpaste
o Loofah/wash cloth
o *Makeup
o *Hair Straightener – You can always plan ahead with a friend and share
o Brush/Comb
o Hair Ties/Clips/Bobby Pins
o Extra pair of contacts, contact case
o Glasses case (and glasses)
o Bit of laundry soap*- even if there aren’t washers and dryers sinks work well for small items

Miscellaneous:
o Text books
o Power adapters
o Notebooks


 

interThis is a typical room in the dorm where we are staying in in London.

http://halls.london.ac.uk/summer-housing/international-hall

 

I don’t have a picture of the apartments we’ll be staying in in Rome, but here is a link to a blog about the perfect day in the neighborhood we’ll be staying in: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/italy/travel-tips-and-articles/77701


Some links for travel items you may need/want:

scarf

a travel scarf: https://www.etsy.com/shop/speakeasysupplyco

 

 

 

Power outlet adapters:

for Italy (Type L): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007YL6HY6/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3LUFH2VJGQEOW&coliid=I2HJZ59G3G6Y1O&psc=1

for UK/London (Type G): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0080R95XI/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pd_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=3LUFH2VJGQEOW&coliid=I185LN4ZXMUY0F&psc=1


 

Some other websites with good tips:

http://www.italylogue.com/

http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/england

http://www.ricksteves.com/europe/italy


I also have a Pinterest board full of tips for both London and Rome as well as traveling period.

http://www.pinterest.com/LilStormSpark/travel/

Welcome!

Over the next several months I will be posting a range of things about what is involved with my study abroad trip. From beginning to end, I will post tips, experiences, my packing list, my assignments, etc. My trip will be September 4th till September 21st. My classmates and I will spend time in London, England, as well as time in Rome, Italy. I can’t wait to get started and I hope you’ll join me on the ride.