Tuesday, January 23, 2018

13 1/2 Hours in Edinburgh, Scotland

Hello! This past Saturday (January 20th) I got to spend it in Edinburgh, Scotland.  However, the adventure actually started Friday night.  My friends and I took an overnight bus to get to Edinburgh that left Victoria Coach Station at 10:30pm and arrived in Scotland at 8:00am.  We then had until 9:30pm to explore before getting back on the bus and coming back to London at 6:50am.

Let me tell you guys, National Express overnight buses are great in theory, but in practice trying to sleep on a 9+ hour bus ride is hard, which makes your ability to explore crash around 6:00pm.  However, it was the cheapest option, and it worked with everyone's schedule so if necessary I would probably do it again.  I was definitely happy it was an overnight bus as well because I think if it had been during the day I would have felt a lot more restless.  Even though it was hard to sleep, I was tired, so I had my eyes closed for most of the time.

Anyway, back to Edinburgh.  It was a beautiful city, but it was so cold and icy as well.  We decided to climb up to the top of Arthur's Seat, and it was all ice, but we made it, and it gave us a beautiful view of the entire city and beyond.  Getting back down, however, was quite the challenge and involved a lot of falling, which each caused a lot of laughs.  Everyone on the hill was wondering what they were thinking trying to attempt this hike, but it was absolutely hysterical.  At one point my friend just sat down and slid for a good thirty feet.  I wish I were filming it, but there was no way I would have been able to hold my camera and try to walk/stumble/fall down at the same time.  I left that adventure with a bruised knee.

From there we made our way to Edinburgh Castle.  We got to see a canon fire at 1:00pm, a few different museums showing the Scottish military throughout the years, prisons, the crowned jewels and we got a free sample of whiskey, which we all ended up buying a small bottle of because it just felt like the right thing to do.

Next, we went to Calton Hill, which is home to a lot of different monuments and gives you another fantastic view of the city.

After that, it was about 6:00pm, and we were cold and tired, so we decided to the Grassmarket and found a Pub to get food and hang out until we needed to get to the bus station.  13 1/2 hours is simultaneously a short amount of time and a long amount of time.  We may have been up to do a little bit more if it was warmer out, maybe we would have gone to the botanical gardens or something, but I still had a great time, and I would recommend doing some type of whirlwind trip like this.

This is so embarrassing, but it's also funny which is why I am willing to put it on the internet forever...

So, I already told you I bruised my knee pretty bad, and when I got back to my bedroom, my arms were sore from having my backpack on for so long.  However, I also managed to give myself my very first black eye.

It happened on the bus ride back to London.  I was leaning my head against my hand on the window. The bus hit a bump, and gravity took over, and my head slipped, and I bashed my eye on this tiny windowsill that doubled as an armrest.  But the most embarrassing part: IT HAPPENED TWICE!  You know that saying 'fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me'?  That's how I felt when I crashed down the second time, like how could I let that happen to myself.

I thought to myself that maybe it didn't bruise and it would just be a little red.  That is very wishful thinking due to the fact that I am wicked pale and bruise if someone taps me too hard (a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point).  When we were walking to the Tube station I could see out of the corner of my eye that it was starting to swell and knew there was going to be a bruise.

The good thing about it is that nobody has called me out on it and I can't tell if it's because they're trying to be polite or they just don't notice it/think it's a shadow.  I had to point it out to my roommate the next day because she didn't see it, but today it's started to turn brown and purple so I think it's beginning to look a lot more like I got punched in the face.

I told my mom about what happened and she told me I needed to come up with a better story since this one is embarrassing.  So naturally, I put a poll out on my personal twitter and apparently I got a black eye in a bar fight while I saving someone's life in a near robbery (All of the Above won the poll), which does make me seem a lot cooler than someone who lost against gravity twice in about twenty minutes.

Somebody, please tell me you have hurt yourself accidentally in a similar manner!  Comment below so we can all benefit from each other's fail moments.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia | Book Review

Reading Group: High School+

Synopses: Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. For fans of Silver Linings Playbook and Liar, this thought-provoking debut tells the story of Alex, a high school senior—and the ultimate unreliable narrator—unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out what is real and what is not. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8 Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She's pretty optimistic about her chances until she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She's not prepared for normal. Can she trust herself? Can we trust her?

Cover: To be quite honest I don't really know what the cover of this book has to do with the storyline.  I don't remember a time when Alex is out in the rain.  However, I guess it's supposed to look like a painting which would have to be made by somebody, so that goes with the theme of the story.  But other than the fact that it's a very pretty cover I'm not sure what it has to do with the storyline.  Any thoughts?

My Review: I really enjoyed this book, and I'm glad that I got to start my year reading it because the message in it was simple and important: Everybody has issues in their lives.  Some people have medical issues, some people have family issues, and some people just have personal issues, but nobody has a perfect life.  I think that's an important thing to remember, especially at the beginning of the year when everyone seems to be rethinking how they're going to reinvent themselves and make this year better than last year.  This book was also funny, sweet, and serious.  Alex lives with a disease that makes it difficult for her to know what exactly is real in her life and what her brain merely has made up.  But in all honesty, don't we all have moments where we aren't 100% sure if things in our lives are genuinely ours or if they're just too good to be true?  Of course, a disease like schizophrenia makes that 18 times harder, but to an extent, I think we can all relate to Alex.  And she certainly isn't letting her disease stop her from living her life to the fullest, she just has to depend on the people around her who she knows are real to help her out sometimes.  Which brings me to the saddest part of Alex's story: the fact that her sister wasn't alive and hadn't been for four years.  I fell more in love with Miles at this part of the book though because he calls out her parents and he's totally right.  How could they let their daughter go on believing her sister was alive?  And the whole time they're worried that she's going to have another major episode, but don't think hiding this secret could be a trigger when the truth comes out, which it always does!  This book covers so many topics - Alex has schizophrenia, Mile's has an abusive father, Tucker has very few friends, Celia has repeatedly been molested by her principal who is love with her dead mother, and Alex's parents are liars - but somehow this book is still a sweet story of first love and self-discovery which is why I highly recommend you check it out next time you're at the library or book shopping.

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Saturday, January 6, 2018

Orientation Week in a New Country


For anyone who is unaware, I am currently studying abroad and participating in an internship both of which I will be doing until the end of April.  This means that I have zero idea what this blog is going to look like (but honestly when do I ever?) and for that, I apologize.  As of right now, one week in and currently writing a blog post, I am hoping that I will be able to write at least one post a week.  This may be just a recap of the week or a book review if I found time to read or just a funny story that happened to me.  I say hope because it's just not something I can promise.  This week alone has been a whirlwind, and I can't even imagine what the next four months will look like.

Anyway, let's jump right on in.  I flew out on January 1st at 7:20pm and landed in London on the 2nd.  I was picked up from the airport by the school I am studying with and brought to what will be my home for a while.  That day was just a day to unpack and then get dinner with some other people who had already arrived.

This week was our Orientation which included things like learning how to use the Tube to get to school, meeting with my advisor, walking through the British History Museum, seeing Matilda The Musical, and more practicalities type stuff.

Although there has been a scheduled event every day, there has also been a lot of time to do some exploring with friends I've made so far.  This has been great because we've gotten to travel in a smaller group and see things that we really want to look at.

Today was a HUGE exploring day for my friends and me.  The faculty at the school gave us a little scavenger type trip to take earlier in the week, and we did most of it.  We started at Camden Town market which is located in an old stable, and now it's a bunch of little pop-up store type places and food.  Then we went to the Thames River and stood on London Bridge as we took pictures of Tower Bridge.  We also saw the Tower of London from the outside before making our way over to the parliament building.  Unfortunately, Big Ben and part of Parliament are currently under construction for the next couple years, so we couldn't get a great picture.  We went to Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace as well.  The day was full of Tube rides, walks, and architecture.

So that's just a little bit for now!  I'm really excited to be here, and I hope you're eager to read about it!  Don't forget to follow both of my Instagram accounts (@writerjewels for blog stuff and @juliann_guerra for everything else) to see everything I'll be up to!


Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Book Reviews of 2017

5 Stars:
4 Stars:

3 Stars:

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