A Different Perspective

It’s almost Thanksgiving! Today is all about resting up for the big day of eating.

I’ve talked before about how I love traveling and I recently started following Earth Pics on Twitter. I’m not sure who maintains this account, but they post some really cool pictures. Recently I came across this picture:

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This is a picture of the underside of the Eiffel Tower at night. It’s such an incredible photo for so many reasons. I love that it’s an unexpected angle of something really familiar, and I also really like photos that are taken straight up – I think they offer such an interesting perspective. After some Internet searching, I discovered the Flickr account of the woman who took this, CurlGirl1. From her profile, I’ve determined she’s German and that she takes really incredible photos. I encourage you to check out her pictures because they are all truly amazing. She is an extremely talented photographer.

In the mean time, here’s a picture I took in Notre Dame last year. The ceilings in that building are fantastically high and beautiful, and I really wanted to capture the feeling of space above you. (And like I said, I really like pictures taken straight up.)

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About Me: Normandy

I’ve mentioned several times that I went to Bath during the summer of 2012.  I was there for five amazing weeks, and at the end of that time, I didn’t go home, instead I went to France.  I met my family in Paris, and from there we drove to Rouen for a night, and then we went onward to Normandy, and later back to Versailles and Paris.  Now, one thing you need to know about me: I have always been fascinated by Paris.  I’m not sure where this fascination came from – Madeline? Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen’s Passport to Paris? The animated Anastasia movie? – I don’t know.  All I know is that from a very young age I knew that I wanted to take French in high school (I did) and that when I went to college I wanted to study abroad in Paris. That was it. Case closed. No questions asked.

Until I found out about the Bath program, that was pretty much still my goal. Once it came down to deciding where to go, however, France just wasn’t a perfect fit for me.  Pretty much any program I went on there would be taught in French, which wouldn’t mean anything for me credit-wise since I had already filled my language requirement.  I don’t regret not going to France at all for study abroad.  And luckily, I got to go there anyways.

At any rate, back to the story. So we drove up to Normandy (An interesting experience) and stayed for about three days.  Let me say this: that was one of the coolest places I have been.  We went to pretty much all the various D-Day Landing beaches.  I’ve always found history fascinating, especially when you can really feel like you’re experiencing it.  We went to Utah Beach, one of the D-Day Landing sites.  This picture shows what it looked like at low tide, which was when the soldiers had to disembark onto the shore.  We didn’t walk all the way down to the water’s edge because it was so far – at least a mile.  Imagine what it would have been like for those soldiers who had no cover in the early morning light.

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Utah Beach, Normandy

 

One of the other stops we made in Normandy that has stayed with me was our trip to the American Cemetery.  This is where soldiers were buried who died during the war in Europe.  It overlooks Omaha Beach.  I can pretty much say that I have never seen a more beautiful location for a cemetery – and that’s part of the reason it’s stayed with me.  The scenery is in absolute contrast to what happened on that beach so long ago.  And the silence.  Up on the bluff in the cemetery, you can barely hear the waves.  Everything is silent, everything is in awe and remembrance of those people who lost their lives.

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The other thing that has stuck with me is the opposite of silence: the music.  When we had entered the cemetery museum, we signed a guestbook and saw that some people had come in just before us that were from the same town.  We found the man, his son, and his father (a World War II veteran) who had signed the book, and found out that his other son would be singing later on in the cemetery with his chorus.  We decided to check out the singing, and found out that the chorus was actually from a high school near our house.  It was the weirdest moment of being in a small world.  The chorus sang a couple of songs, but the one that has stuck with me is “I’ll Be Seeing You.”  This song was very popular during World War II, so it was appropriate for the chorus to sing it.  Standing there, the wind gently blowing, listening to this song that so many millions of people turned to for comfort during the war, surrounded by a hauntingly beautiful setting…It’s a hard feeling to describe.  Music has always been important to me, and I think it can create such strong, powerful feelings within you.  It made me feel the despair, hope, strength, and love of that entire era, and reminded me that the whole world was forever changed by those events.  That moment will forever be etched in my mind.

“I’ll be looking at the moon, but I’ll be seeing you.”

 

About Me: Travel

I think I’ve always loved traveling.  I remember when I was younger and we’d be flying somewhere, we’d have to get up really early, drive to the airport, and wait for a shuttle to come and pick us up as the sun was just beginning to rise.  I’d have my little monogrammed pink bag full of mostly books and stuffed animals, and we’d wait for our plane to leave.  It was exhilarating to be traveling to somewhere new and different.  Now it’s just as exciting to be traveling to new places, but the actual traveling isn’t as fun anymore.  The act of traveling has lost some of its nostalgia for me.

Going to Bath last year was really the first time I’ve ever traveled on my own.  It’s scary being on your own.  But that’s part of growing up, really.  Writing this post made me think of an old Peanuts quote that a friend of mine used to have on her AIM profile (Yes, AIM. Don’t pretend you don’t remember it.). I had a tricky time finding it, but here’s the comic it came from:

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I couldn’t find a bigger picture, so here’s what Charlie Brown says after Peppermint Patty asks him what security is:

“Security is sleeping in the back seat of the car when you’re a little kid, and you’ve been somewhere with your Mom and Dad, and it’s night, and you’re riding home in the car, you can sleep in the back seat…You don’t have to worry about anything…your Mom and Dad are in the front seat and they do all the worrying…They take care of everything.”

It’s such a pretty sentiment.  Charlie Brown tells us though, that this doesn’t last – you have to grow up and then you can’t sleep in the back seat again.  It’s kind of sad, but in that way that makes you realize that it’s true.  Growing up is scary, but it’s also fun.  No, I can’t sleep in the back seat anymore, but I can go places by myself and experience them.  If I hadn’t gone to Bath last year, I think I would be a very different person.  No matter how not fun traveling can sometimes be (Running through an airport, getting stuck sitting on the tarmac…etc.), going to new places is fun.  It may not always provide the same level as safety as sleeping in the back seat, but as you get older, sometimes it’s okay not to play it too safe.

Bath, England

I mentioned a few posts ago that I studied abroad in Bath in the summer of 2012…so I figured I better tell you about it! I spent five weeks in Bath, England as a part of the Advanced Studies in England program.  I could not have better things to say about this program.  The people were absolutely lovely, and Bath is now one of my favorite cities in the world.  While I was there, I took a class on Jane Austen (which I mentioned before) and a class on British fantasy writers.  These were two of the most interesting classes I have ever taken.  In Jane Austen, we were able to actually walk the streets that Austen walked and wrote about (She lived in Bath on two separate occasions).  We went to the Fashion Museum, which used to be the Assembly Rooms where parties and balls were held.  We saw the house where she lived and the park she used to visit.  No matter how many biographies you read of an author, or adaptations you watch of their work, there is nothing like standing in the exact place that the author stood, 200 years before you.  It’s just awe-inspiring.

My British fantasy writers class was equally amazing.  We had a really fantastic professor (Who I’ll call Professor R) and we got to read Harry Potter (Yes, it was that amazing).  But honestly, Professor R was one of the best professors I’ve ever had.  She led us in discussions that made me think about the books we were reading in completely different ways.  The coolest thing we did in that class was a faux-radio broadcast of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  We read the book for class and although we spent a few days discussing it, we also spent a couple of days reading and preparing for a radio broadcast.  Our class was split into two groups and given scripts of the original radio broadcast.  We had to determine what kind of sounds we wanted to use (Using objects in the room like the radiators), where we wanted to place our audience, and how we wanted to deliver our lines.  When it was time to perform, the other group plus the professor sat with their eyes closed and listened while we performed.  I have grown up in a time when radio does not have the same effect as it used to.  Now we have multiple screens on at a time and we’re generally still bored.  Sitting there, listening to the other group perform was one of the coolest things I have experienced.  It was completely different from how I interact with media, but completely amazing.  There was nothing to do except sit there and listen.  It’s kind of sad, I know, that I found this so cool, but if you really think about the last time you just sat and listened to anything – a song, a book on tape, a radio broadcast – without doing anything else (And yes, driving counts), I’ll bet it’s hard to remember.  Sometimes it’s nice just to have the silence of listening.

Bath was really an amazing experience (I know I’ve been using that word a lot in the post, but sometimes they’re aren’t enough superlatives).  I have barely scratched the surface with this post.  I spent my time over there learning a lot – about novels, the city, living abroad – but one of the things I learned the most about was myself.

You can read more about my time in Bath in the blog I kept while I was over there. (I should probably also mention that the picture in the header is from my trip to Bath.)