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The title of this post refers to the dominant shape of my mouth throughout my trip to Devon for Easter. It also describes how my mind felt after using the same superlatives over and over again, having exhausted my vocabulary that couldn’t measure up to my surroundings.

Devon is breathtaking. And vocabulary-stealing! Honestly, even though my days in the countryside were filled with good feeling and relaxation, I did worry a tad that I wasn’t talking enough, mostly because I couldn’t match any words to my emotions! I’m going to stop trying to explain it any further besides insisting that DEVON IS BEAUTIFUL and this trip was surprisingly introspective for me (lots of musing about various life/love/work philosophies and whether or not I’ll permit myself to snapchat again, come June), so I won’t be writing as much as I normally would.

To start, here’s a little glimpse of how my heart felt as I raced on the train across the country past thousands of old and young Artiodactyls. They dotted the emerald fields, little white and black specks. The little ones were the most fun to watch (obvi): they often clung to their parents’ sides or practiced being a sheep by burying their noses in the grass. However, the most dear thing they did was leap every which way. They way that they bounced reminded me of those feelings when you start to fall for someone that are just bursting with hope and zest for life and giddiness. Maybe they were falling in love with life? Or maybe I just wrote a really embarrassing sentence relating sheep and love? (no, that’s a definite.) Sticking with it. The world needs more unapologetically sappy sheepoets! (OMG LOOK AT THIS!!! “Quantum Sheep” is a type of poetry! Click here for some fine examples!!)

And now that I’ve taken a short tangent, here’s what I’ve been building up to this whole time: LEAPING SHEEP!

   

Facts about the trip: I stayed with a dear friend (and her husband) of my Auntie J, who live in a thatched-roof abode in mid-Devon. Retrospectively, I realize that they told me a ton of information about their lives, their choices, and by being with them, I learned a heap about having fun while balancing the weighty aspects of a full life. They were so gracious, warm, and welcoming (as was my quilt-covered bed!) Quaint, quirky, hilarious decorations filled the snug rooms and greenery poured out from the ground outside, with bluebells, daffodils, and violets reaching towards the sun.

Maybe it was just a product of my current reading material, but the setting seemed to have multiple connections to Frodo’s Shire. Yes, it was Easter, but imagine abundant gift-giving, cozy homes, dirt/gravel lanes, and generally convivial neighbors. The physical environment was very hobbit-esque too: full of green moss and arching hills.

Also worth noting that the morning I left from Paddington station, I briefly conversed with a ticket agent in pig latin. I didn’t just start speaking it or anything- he slipped out some humor and gave me the opportunity, so of course I nabbed it. Just as my dad does, I think the trigger that led to our unique little interchange was that I first greeted him and asked how he was doing. He immediately perked up and apparently greased the alternative-language-gears. So there you have it- a little friendliness goes an onglay ayway! 🙂

And now for the pictures! (Sidenote: I can’t believe the number of times I’ve referenced cats on this blog about studying abroad! I’m not even a cat person! What’s happening to me?!?)

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My hosts graciously drove me up to Dartmoor, a huge national park that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Hound of the Baskervilles during his stay in what’s now the visitor’s center! Upon standing on a hill and peering out over the stark, muted landscape, I understood how a savage monster could live here. Sheep and semiwild ponies wander around. There are also remnants of ancient communities that are now mostly concurrent circles of stone.

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And now comes a confession that undermines my entire study abroad log.

I wish I had eyelashes I could so dramatically lower like hers. Just for this moment.

When I came to London with my family, I first tried clotted cream at the Crypt Cafe below St Martin in the Fields church. As I’ve previously described, it was life-changing and wonderful and yada yada. So when I booked a trip to Devon, home of the original clotted cream, I was even more excited to taste “the real thing”.

So after seeing Dartmoor, we drove through the hills in search of a proper cream tea to satisfy the lone item on my Devon bucket list. We found a cafe, I placed my order, and this lovely thing appeared:

c l o t t e d  c r e a m .

REAL   c l o t t e d   c r e a m .

Look at that dairy delight! Lactoseful luxury! Temptational topping!

It was MUCH different that what I’d had in the crypt: it was extremely thick and very subtle in taste. Therefore, it pains me to say that I named this blog after what my hosts suggested was probably a whipped type of cream that wasn’t actually clotted. But that’s okay. I still enjoyed my Devon cream tea and obvi my first cream tea, even if it was sort of fake.

Stefon and I are a lil embarrassed.

yumyumyumyum!

yumyumyumyum!

Here are some final pictures. And to end this post, some final points about my stay in Devon:

  • Birdsong abounded
  • Sunshine wasn’t always available but the blooming flowers everywhere kept it sunny
  • It was so real. As in: authentic, genuine, true.

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Oxford + ALL the parks

What comes to mind when you picture the scenery of “Pride and Prejudice”? Softly swaying weeping willow trees bending over a peaceful pond? With swans? How about luscious green grass running into the horizon with ancient beige buildings hugging its edges? This image could probably be from a Jane Austen novel or a bevy of other Victorian classics. Instead, I’m describing Oxford.

Even in the middle of March, Michelle’s study abroad college shone with magic that could easily inspire a novel such as PP. I’m telling you, it was amazing.

I saw about half the green when I visited. But yes, people live a minute’s walk from this paradise! (From Quaint Living blog, link in picture)

Here’s a good photographer who succeeded in documenting its beauty. My pictures can’t measure up but I’ll offer them nonetheless:

DSC01727 DSC01729 DSC01728

It was a special kind of relaxing/fun to walk around the campus and town with Michelle, a good Wes pal. In addition to its health benefits, walking is also a great way to get creative thoughts flowing and stimulates great conversation. Less pressure to focus on faces and interpret body language (not a strong point for me.) Just gaze at nature and converse to a delightful friend. Glorious.

(On a tangent, I realized I’ll have taken four three-hour-long walks with five people in six days by Monday! I’m seeing a trend in how I like to spend time and initiate intriguing conversation…) And on the seventh day she rested. lol jk she wrote all of her essays and wished she were outside. Essays here sneak up so quickly!!

The second walk was around Regents Park, an impressively large park with beautiful scenery. That was with a friend I met on the Venice trip. Today, I went on a long walk in search of deer at Richmond Park (to our dismay, it was rainy, so no deer appeared) with the friend I met at the Staves concert. Tomorrow, I’ll be with Matthew and his friend touring London! By the time I return to the states, I’ll be fit enough to walk back to the UK! (wait, what?)


Some Richmond Park and market pics:

Figuring myself out

So I planned to have other posts done by today but that didn’t happen, so sorry if you were confused by the change in scheduling. Gosh, I sound like an administrative bureaucrat… sorry!

A roundup of odds and ends and personal revelations (not too personal, don’t worry. But on that note if you’re interested in mainly my travel logs, this post may not apply to you very much. See what you think):

Eggs in Britain are very different than in the states. For lunch a few days ago, I fried two and the yolks were neon orange. Yes, neon! And they were much, much tastier than their American counterparts.

Sophie-cles moments:

sophiecles

I’m becoming increasingly reluctant to spew words for the sake of limiting silence. Similarly, I’d rather stand alone while waiting for class than engage in some shallow, worthless conversation about deadlines. When you get me rolling on a juicy topic of course I’ll unlock my verbal gates, but if we’re riding on a bus and it’s been a long day and my mind is blank, I may not speak much. Some perceive this as me having a conversation with myself, and they are often right. Call it whatever you like: internal dialogue, zoning out, daydreaming… happens a lot in my head. If something like this happens when I’m around you, you should probably take it as a compliment that I feel comfortable enough to sit with silence because I don’t feel pressure to forcibly make memories. In sum, I side with Gandhi when he stated, “Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

I’ve noticed that I’m also reluctant to engage in high-intensity conversations that require deep knowledge of a subject and the sufficient arrogance/stick-your-neck-outedness to defend your views. Happens a lot when males talk about sports, for instance. I’d rather refrain and know myself than be provoked to convince others of my views.


Thoughts inspired by today’s Geographies of Nature class on Technonatures:

Let me start by stating that throughout the past 50 hours, I’ve gotten 9 hours of sleep (the Venice trip started at 1 am Wed morning and I got back this morning at 2 am.) This morning, I zombiely (new word, heads up Merriam-Webster) drank a latte and trudged to the aforementioned class. You’d probably think this story goes on and on in a tired tone but this is where is miraculously breaks that trend: today’s class was so inspiring (as most are) that I’m motivated enough to skip a nap and BLOG instead. That’s true inspiration, people! Also a warning that my grammar may be affected by lack of sleep/coherence.

So yesterday on the Venice trip, I met a chemistry major who spiritedly talked and joked with me about loving biology and chemistry and reading science textbooks to fall asleep (not because they are boring but because they are interesting enough to read during free time. I don’t identify as much with that as he did but do to an extent.) In the middle of a post-security checkpoint corridor leading to the food court at 5:20 am, I felt energized and extremely receptive to passionate philosophical thought. That shocked me. And then today in class, when we discussed OncoMouse, a strain of mice highly probable to get cancer so we can experiment on it, and the basis of fear in governing our scientific experimentation boundaries, I felt like flying. (My latte could’ve also affected this.) But what I mean to conclude with is that I’ve realized that there’s hardly anything that makes me as happy as being provided with infinitely pithy discussion topics. That’s not the entire package, but there you have it: a way to my heart. Publicized and analyzed online. Good golly. I’m keeping it though. Why not express what lights you up?

The extremely excited post

Yes this is my study abroad blog and no this isn’t related to travelling but it’s infinitely important (lol pun)/I need room to fully express my absolute bafflement:

A STRONG SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESIS THAT THERE WAS NO BIG BANG/THE UNIVERSE HAS NO BEGINNING OR END AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

Your grocery shopping can wait five minutes… look at this article! It alters EVERYTHING.

mind blown gif


And if you thought THAT was mind-blowing, wait til you read THIS:

So I went to this concert, of The Staves, this absolutely brilliant trio of sisters who harmonize like they’ve found out how to create audible bliss. When they played my favorite song, I cried. (Second time ever crying at a concert: first was at my long-awaited Coldplay concert, where I actually bawled (my mom can attest to this) but let’s move on because that’s not even the best part.)

The best part also wasn’t meeting a new friend, but it definitely added to the wonder of the night. We were both at the concert alone and, being the first two in line for our cheap seat area, sat next to each other to get the best front/center view. He told me he was from Portugal and we talked about music for like an hour, effortlessly. Who says going places alone has to be anti-social?

The best part also did not stem from my hasty grabbing of my disposable camera #1 before I realized I had exactly four shots left. It made the night even better, though, since I didn’t worry about trying to record my favorite song or take pictures every twelve seconds. I never look at 90% of my concert pictures afterwards anyway, so four savored pictures will definitely be enough.

Wanna know what the best part is?

I hope you’re sitting down. I’m freaking glad that I was, and that there was a safety rail in front of me, because when the Staves brought out their freaking mentor on stage, I only figuratively fell head over heels for

(*&!ING BON IVER

…I’m gonna let Patrick take it from here. He gets me.

surprised patrick meme chocolate dessert

For the one song he came out on stage for, I was shock. My jaw hit the floor until he left the stage and I reminded myself to keep breathing. This concert is certainly my third favorite, with Coldplay taking first and Macklemore holding second. I wonder how Paul Simon and Sting will measure up in April!

Also: I thought I’d never get to see Bon Iver live. Since he struck it big with “Skinny Love” and his other perfect songs, he’s been pretty reclusive. So that added, big time.

Just so you don’t think my life is all daisies and jaffa cakes, lemme tell you that I have two papers due in less than a week, many summer applications, a skull practical writeup, and preparation for a trip all on my mind as well. So, study abroad is way more than just fun stuff. So with that out of the way, lemme just reiterate

BON IVER
BON IVER
BON IVER
BON IVER! (all diff links, let the music flooooow)

P.S. When I wrote the first bit about the universe this morning, I had no idea today was going to be so exciting! A huge coincidence that all these impossibly incredible things happened in such close proximity.

P.P.S. Ever heard of a pizza cake? Thank me later. (Or in the form of a slice…)