I’m pretty positive that I had the highlight of my study abroad adventure this past week. But before I get to that, I must catch you up to date on my travels!
When first coming here, my newly made friends and I sat around a table and booked trips. Our first booked trip was to Dublin, Ireland, which just so happened to be my last trip of my escapade through Europe. So as the end of November rolled around, I found myself packing up my backpack once more to finish my travels with a bang! We did the usual traveling routine of not sleeping, leaving at 3 in the morning for the bus, transferring from the bus to the airplane, back to a bus, to a shuttle, and finally walking to the hostel. As tedious as this routine is, I know I’ll be missing it someday when I find myself sleeping all too often to procrastinate on homework and walking in the frigid Wisconsin air to class. When I fully woke up and realized I was in Dublin, I could not have been happier. It strangely reminded me a lot of Wisconsin: open land, fresh air, trees (gasp). Yes, nothing like London. As much as I love London, it was nice to have a break of the hustle and bustle of city life. We spent the day exploring what the city had to offer and loving every bit of it, from the millions of pubs to the Vikings monuments. Later that day we found ourselves thirsty, so naturally we head on over to the Guinness and Jameson distillery tours (it’s 5 o’clock somewhere, right?). I’ve never been one to care about how beer and whiskey were make, but after taking these tours, I have a new appreciation for the craft. The time and machinery that goes in to making these is mind-blowing.
The next day we took a day trip to the Cliffs of Moher and a few random stops along the way. I’d have to say that the Cliffs of Moher are the most beautiful sights I have seen thus far. It’s unreal how tall and breath-takingly beautiful they are. On our way back we stopped along a road where there were limestone rocks instead of grass and more cliffs. Once again, it was gorgeous. After we ate dinner at a pub with live Irish music, we headed out to discover what Dublin’s nightlife is all about. Just as we though, it didn’t disappoint. We went to some more pubs with live music, met a bunch of new friends who showed us around to the more traditional, famous pubs. Soon enough, we found ourselves attempting to Irish dance, Guinness in hand and all. In all, Ireland was a super fun trip that I will always look back at and just laugh.
The weekend after I came back from Ireland I stayed in London to catch up on some work and to hang out with my friends here. However, the day I have been anticipating this whole semester was soon approaching.
There I was laying in my bed, wide-eyed, like a child on Christmas Eve, too excited to sleep because Santa was coming. However, my Santa in this case is the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour. When I was a kid, I loved Harry Potter. I wouldn’t even say love, I’d say it was more of an obsession that still continues today. My dad and I would go to every midnight opening of the books and have them read by the next day. He would also take me out of school to go see the movies on the day they came out. This continued until I was old enough to go to the movies by myself, where I found myself at every midnight premiere, in line at least four hours early. Yes, I was one of those people. Being a communication arts major with emphasis in film, I was also excited to see exactly how they made the best films ever. So, as you can imagine, this tour meant the whole world to me. And as I could have guessed, it did not disappoint. I found myself taking hours to get through all the props and scenes. The special and visual effects alone took me 45 minutes to get past. I’m not going to ruin it by telling all the stunning things I have learned and seen along the tour, but if ever in London, it’s a must-see. I left in awe and even more in love/obsessed with the series as before, which I didn’t think was possible.
So naturally since I saw the Harry Potter tour, I had to go to Oxford, England to see where some of the inspiration came from. So I booked my bus ticket and I was off! Oxford looks as if magic was real, it would exist in that city. All the architecture looks as though it jumped right off the pages of Harry Potter and into real life (of course it was the opposite way). We went in Christ Church, which is where the makers of Harry Potter conjured up the inspiration for the Great Hall and the staircases that lead up to it. Once in the great hall of Christ Church, I found the window that was dedicated to Alice Liddell, the inspiration of “Alice in Wonderland”. We also saw the little door to the garden that Lewis Carroll drew on for inspiration as well. Around lunchtime, we decided on the place where J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and the rest of the Inklings group met to talk about their writing.
It’s funny how out of all the places I have been, Paris, Barcelona, Dublin, Rome, this past week has been my hands down favorite. Who knew it’d be right here in England!