So this is going to be the MASSIVE update email that I promised all of you in my last blog. I really have been doing stuff the past few weeks despite my lack of blogging. So here it goes.
I think where I left off we were going to go to Wales. Wales is an amazing place. It was nice to get out of the city and into a place where I could breathe. We were also pretty lucky because we had great weather the entire weekend. I shouldn't use this as my judgement of all of Wales, but it was really nice to be in the sun. It's almost impossible to describe how beautiful Wales is. I just couldn't believe it. We stayed in a hostel in the middle of a National Park. It was right near a reservoir. It was one of those places you would never think of going, but would never regret getting to. At night, we would walk to the nearest village (about 2 miles down the very dark road). I could see the stars! And I realized that i had forgotten that the moon can actually light your way at night. As Martin (our program director) says, "there isn't the constant orange glow of night." It was just nice to connect a little bit with nature again.
Major sites: Welsh National Assembly (one of the greenest (as in eco-friendly) buildings in the world), Tintern Abbey (could've spent ages there. A place where my imagination could go crazy... think that elvish city where they hold that first meeting in the Fellowship of the Ring), Cardiff (a city where people actually look happy about living there), Roman baths and amphitheatre.
Now I don't really know, because I haven't lived here for very long, but I feel like there's something very isolating about living in a city as big as London. It's ironic, but I can feel the loneliest when I'm completely surrounded by hundreds of people on the Tube. But there's no way I could feel lonely looking out over that water and from those mountains in Wales. I just like to feel a connection to my surroundings.
This connection was described in an article I read for class. I'd like to share that with you:
"Such a place informs the peculiarly and wholly Welsh concept of hiraeth. Often translated simply as "longing" or "homesickness", it is actually much more than that. It is more closely related to the Portuguese saudade it the Spanish duende: a kind of affirmative sadness, of attachment to a place so physically and spiritually profound that it can be heartbreaking, as well as a powerful spur to creation. It has nothing to do with wearing patriotic garb or singing the national anthem; instead, it's bound up with a recognition that the blood beats in your arteries in the same way that the seas and streams around you boom at their shores and banks. It's to do with a calmness, which, like the calmness that comes with finding a god, has absolutely nothing to do with comfort." -Niall Griffiths
I think in some small way the hills reminded me of the Mountains in Utah. Of the summers I spent hiking around at girls camp. Of waking up and seeing the sun peek over the mountain and fill the sky with pink. Of my family. And the water reminded me of the Puget Sound. My school, my friends, my quiet moments by the water. These are the places where I'm really home. Where I breathe the same as the wind and I move the way the clouds do. And as I took the train back to London, I'm left with a longing, a hiraeth, and a bit of a connection to a land I'd never seen before-- because it reminded me of me.
This isn't to say that I don't love London. I think I've learned a lot about myself and about the world. I've grown. And I really do love London. I have moments now and again when I look out and I see the Thames, Parliament, the London Eye, and hundreds of people, and I think, "Wow. I live in London. One of the best cities in the world."
I'm lucky to have so many places that feel like home.
After all that, the next week was midterms. And they pretty much ate my soul. But then I went to Prague. Read on to learn about that adventure.