30 January 2011

My Future 'Eat, Pray, Love' Fail

I've not read the book and probably would not have watched the movie had I not been stuck on a plane for 5 hours at Heathrow prior to actually departing on our 8 hour flight to BWI. But since I have been forced to re-evaluate my spring break plans now that things in the Middle East are shaky, I have been considering going on an 'Eat, Pray, Love' trip of my own, albeit with different destinations.


In the movie, Julia Roberts ends up going to Italy and essentially having a love affair with pasta. Indeed, I spent the majority of this section of the movie marveling at the enormous quantities of food consumed. Now, I am a fan of pasta...but my waistline is not. And with the added threats of gelato and pizza, a trip to Italy would see all of my marathon preparations disappear in a haze of carbohydrates. (But hey! At least I would die happy!)

Possible alternatives to fulfill the 'eat' section:

Norway (except maybe not since a Google search for 'Norwegian food' revealed this: I may not know much about vegetarianism since I am still relatively new to it...but am pretty certain that the dish below is not kosher with the veggies)
Spain: Has paella (which can easily be vegetarian) and sangria need I say more?

Julia Roberts/the real author of 'Eat, Pray, Love' went to India to find her spirituality.

Italy (because of the whole 'Catholic' thing). Sadly, I won't have Elysa, Brad, and Tony to run around Rome with. Which means no 'God Save the Queen' BBC news casts in the Vatican. Maybe I will go back to Venice? Or to Naples again to see Pompeii again.

Alternatively, I could go to Greece, where the orthodox tradition is still going strong. (And by Greece, I really mean the Greek Islands. I want sun!)

The final third of the movie dealt with 'love'. Julia Roberts/the author heads to Bali, Indonesia to practice her newfound spirituality...but finds love on the way.

I guess this third one is out since I am not looking for love and, indeed, probably would not welcome it at this point. I can't even manage to successfully be broken up (as in no contact, no feelings, etc.) with my ex-boyfriend, so there is no 'moving on to the next one' until that situation is resolved.

But if I were going to look for love, I would probably head to:
Ireland (specifically in the Wicklow mountain. If love can't be found here, then it isn't anywhere)

Denmark: They know how to color coordinate.

Slovenia : Just because it tends to be ignored. (And look at those mountains)

In reality, however, this would fail as an 'eat, pray, love' trip. Why? Because I really have no intention of doing 2 of the 3. I will eat, of course, but not to the excess one would expect in devoting an entire trip to eating. This is even more true since the vast majority of this trip would occur before my marathon and I need to be very careful about what I eat. (Also because my digestive system has zero tolerance for unexpected foods (heck, it has zero tolerance for foods I eat on a daily basis) and would go into active rebellion, thus making me miserable). I also have no intention of falling in 'love' on this trip. Indeed, it would be an unwelcome occurrence since a) it would mean that I've lost my damn mind, and b) could only bring heartache as I will be heading back to the US in June. This just leaves 'praying' and even though the G-man and I are on better terms as of late...I still don't know if I'm comfortable going on a trip for an extended pilgrimage.

So there goes the 'eat, pray, love' theme. Guess I will just have to travel for the sake of traveling. And once that starts, who knows where I will end up? 

Note: I would like to point out to certain readers (you know who you are) that all of these countries are in Europe and none are in active conflict/rebellion. Aforementioned readers should also note that their cautions were heeded and should be happy with the tentative choices I have made.

28 January 2011

Blah blah blah

Today has not been a good day. I was going to post about overcoming adversity, but my current mood is not one which makes me feel like I actually could overcome a challenge.

Things currently pissing me off:
1. It is cold, windy, and miserable. Inside my room. With the heat on. (And my space heater has yet to arrive at Argos...despite the fact that I ordered it before break.)
2. Being assigned a philosophical topic for my Concepts & Methods seminar presentation. I present on March 4th (the day after I have another presentation for Middle East class) on the question: 'Is the Habermasian account of emancipation a sustainable approach to problems of world order?' Er...what? Guess that is what I will find out. (And, not so luckily, the assigned reading for this topic consists of 30 articles and books...so I will be finding out what this is in a lot of detail.)
3. Self-doubt and lack of self-confidence. Can I actually do any of this? I have so much to complete in the next few (10) weeks...will I be able to tough it out? Will I meet my parents' (and my own) expectations? Will I ever get a job or shall I be doomed to working at Target for the rest of my life?
4. Loneliness. When things ended with my boyfriend, I also lost one of my closest friends and confidants. Add to this the fact that my friends are scattered about the globe (quite literally - one is in St. Kitt's, another in Mali) and it makes it hard to keep in touch, despite the wonderful advances in technology.

Things that make me happy:
1. Family and friends. Without them I would not be doing as well as I currently am.
2. Hot chocolate.
3. I have successfully completed my second week of deliberately being a vegetarian. Last term I did not eat a lot of meat because it was a) expensive and b) not possible to keep it for more than a day in my fridge (and certainly not in my postage stamp-sized freezer). But since reading Eating Animals by Jonathan Safron Foer, I realized that I may as well make the commitment and deliberately choose not to eat meat (as opposed to simply abstaining for convenience sake). Of course, once one deliberately gives up anything, one begins to crave it all the more. This has meant that each time I walk through Clink and Wine Wharf where the Gourmet Burger Kitchen and the Angus & Blue restaurants are, and I smell the delicious scent of steak...I immediately have the craving for a burger. But so far I have held out, and the desire to actually consume a steak or burger has diminished significantly.
4. The upcoming BUCS Championship...and the free physiotherapist sessions that accompany it!
5. My Dad's upcoming visit! Granted it is in mid-March...but that's soon enough for me!

27 January 2011

London Loves

To whoever signed me up for eHarmony, London Loves, and Active Singles: I don't quite know whether to be flattered that you believe my emotional fortitude so strong that I am ready to enter into another relationship or insulted that you doubt my ability to actually meet someone in real life. Perhaps a bit of both? Either way, thanks but no thanks. I'm not interested, not ready, and most definitely do not want. Check back in 2012 because at the moment I'm still a-hurtin'. (Also: you are sooo dead when I find out who did this. Revenge will be sweet.)

In other news: the London weather seems to have heard that MD was getting snow and felt obliged to mimic the conditions. Of course, all of this was on a much lesser scale (as in zero accumulation) than in the States, but it was still pleasant while it lasted. Much less pleasant was the fact that the temperature dropped about fifteen degrees overnight (which meant that my head felt like it was about to explode for half the day) and the wind gusts over the bridges became absolutely ridiculous.

Yesterday was the fifth London Colleges League race at Prospect Park in Reading. Since the course was only 2 miles (essentially a sprint), I ran 6.5 miles in the morning to keep on my marathon training plan. By the time I got back from the run, it was time to meet my team mates at Paddington Station where we took the mainland train to Reading. After a walk of a mile to Prospect Park, we were still really early for the race. We had a look at the course, essentially a giant football pitch, which was dominated by a rather steep hill. Perched at the top was a rather posh-looking pub that we were supposed to run to the left of before heading up another hill, dropping down a very steep incline, and then running around the long length of the park to the finish line. Since the race was quite far out (by London standards -- in reality it took about 40 minutes to get there), not many teams showed up. There were only about 35 women participating, although it was hard to tell since both women and men race together, and the mass of bodies at the start line makes acquiring an accurate estimate quite difficult.

For me the race went ok. I finished 15th (out of that unknown number of women) and was 2nd on my team. I went out quite slow at the start as I got blocked in by some slower runners and entered into a brief right with some low-hanging tree limbs that delayed me for a few seconds. The giant hill was the worst part since by the time I arrived at it, rain had started to fall and enough runners had gone before me that the ground had been churned to mud. Even with spikes on, I struggled to find my footing and almost went down on several occasions. Luckily I was able to recover some ground on the downhill, especially on the steep drop, since I am not one for 'playing it safe' in terms of slowing down to prevent injury. I attribute my ability to stay upright on these harrowing plunges and bouts of speed to my larger than average feet (size 11's...GAH) which, if they are not good for this, are good for nothing at all. After the race, I cheered in my team mates and then made the long trip back to London (made a bit more exciting by the fact that we arrived at Reading Central station only to find that we had 3 minutes to catch a London train located on the other side of the station).

This weekend will include a 12 mile run and then next weekend is BUCS!

For your viewing & auditory pleasure:
I made this video in February 2009 when I was studying abroad at the University of Edinburgh. My friend Elysa was celebrating her 22nd birthday and I wanted to make her a present that would commemorate our shared time at Oxford. What a blast from the past!

Adele's cover of 'Promise This' by Cheryl Cole. She is such a wonderful singer.

How are these two videos linked? Adele (the singer in the second video) also sings the first song featured in my Oxford video.

Upcoming: (More for my benefit than anyone else's)
Thur, Feb 3: Middle East paper #1 due (3000 words)
Friday, Feb 4-Sun, Feb 6: British Universities Cross Country Championships in Birmingham
Fri, Feb. 11: OSINT seminar presentation of collection strategy, analysis, and budgetary requirements in Democratic Republic of Congo crisis
Wed., Feb. 23: Last LCL XC race in Uxbridge
Fri, Feb. 25: OSINT paper #2 due (3250 words)
Sat, Feb. 26: Hyde Park Relays!
Thur, Mar. 3: Middle East seminar presentation on economic liberalization
Wed, Mar. 9: Teddy Hall relays in Oxford
Sun, Mar 13- Sat. Mar 19: Possible visit by my Dad
Mar. 23: Exam schedule released (I find out when I can come home!)
Thurs, Mar. 25: Middle East paper #2 due (3000 words)
Fri, Apr. 1: Concepts and Methods paper due (3000 words)
Apr. 25: OSINT paper #3 (3250 words) due
Apri. 26: Middle East paper #3 (3000 words) due

26 January 2011


I started writing a new blog entry at 7:30pm when I finally finished eating, showering, and recovering after today's cross country race, but, unfortunately (and not all too surprisingly considering my incredible time-wasting abilities), time escaped me and it is now too late to actually finish that post. Yes, at 10:47PM it is bed-time. Back in the day (as in less than two weeks ago), my family and friends used to accuse me of early onset elderlyism (this is a word as of right now) due to my fondness for single-malt whisky and penchant for reading AARP magazine (which I have a subscription to via my father). I used to laugh this off or indignantly reply in the negative but I am beginning to believe that this is perhaps more true than I would like to acknowledge. Even though I don't actually fall asleep for hours due to my chronic insomnia, I still need to be in bed, lying down, by 11 or else I am absolutely crabbit the next day.

Fun Fact: Crabbit is Scottish slang for ill-tempered, grouchy, curt, in a bad mood (especially in the morning)

In the upcoming post to be released tomorrow:
1. Running (6.5 miles yesterday morning followed by a 2-mile cross country race in Reading)
2. BUCS in Birmingham (the excitement begins!)
3. Library Etiquette (or, why I don't go to the library)
4. Life in general

Nothing too exciting, but at least it is something. (And proof to the parentals that I am still alive, kicking, and have not suddenly booked a flight to Morocco or Burkina Faso because I am 22 years old. (DISCLAIMER: I wouldn't because I am very close to my parents...and because I hope to resume living in their house when I return to the US in four months. Pissing them off would be a very bad thing in that regard.)

24 January 2011

Bard 'til you Barf! (Or, the many ways in which I am excited for the Shakespeare Marathon)

I am still alive, I promise.

In the past few days I have:
1. Run 11 miles - my second 'long run' for my marathon training. My route took me over Tower Bridge...
 past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben...
and finally over Vauxhall Bridge to stop in front of the SIS (British Intelligence Agency) Headquarters.
My trusty Garmin told me that it was 5.5 miles from my flat to the end of Vauxhall Bridge if one follows the Thames Path along the northern bank. It was lucky that I had my Garmin because if I had been going on 'feel' alone I would have thought that it was more like 16 miles. But I was tired that day after being ill, so I can't feel too bad. Managed to do the entire thing in an hour and 25 minutes. (The run to Vauxhall was easy...it was turning around and running the 5.5 miles back that was a killer - :( ). 

2. Signed up for the Edinburgh Half Marathon on April 10th. Why? Because: a) I need to run a half marathon prior to running my marathon, b) it gives me something to look forward to, and c) I ran my first ever race, the May 2009 Bupa Great Run, in Edinburgh. In addition, I sense that this will be the final step in 'reclaiming' the city for myself. Those readers who are aware (or who have worked out the details through their close association with me) of the devastating event that befell me during my study abroad in Edinburgh in 2009 know that returning to Scotland's capital is a particularly hard task for me. I did so this summer for my internship, but it proved to be a challenge each and every day. Still, I was able to overcome many of the negative connotations that I had developed with Edinburgh. Running (and hopefully being successful) in a half marathon in Edinburgh will be, I feel, my way of demonstrating how far I've come, how life truly can move on even when the worst has befallen you.

3. Booked my bed and breakfast for the Shakespeare Marathon on May 8th. I'll be arriving on Friday, May 6th so that I can look around Statford-upon-Avon (to which I have never been) before the marathon on Sunday.
Unfortunately, this is not the official image of the Shakespeare Marathon. I wish it was. The official one is much more boring and doesn't even picture Shakespeare at all (rather it features the Rotary Club's wheel since they are the ones hosting the marathon). I like this one much better. (I still entertain hopes of being able to recite Shakespeare throughout the entire race.)

4. Finished my research for my Politics of the Middle East paper on the permanent-status negotiations of 2000/01. (Now to write the 3000 word paper...)

5. Completed my CITI research certification course for my internship at American University's COTELCO (so that I can now legally contribute to their projects). Teleconferencing is the future, my friends. I can have an internship based in DC AND go to graduate school in London. It's marvelous. I just wish that long-distance relationships could be (or have been) so easy to manage. :(

6. Found out that I got a 67 (B+ and 'merit' equivalent in the UK) on my horrible (for me to write, at least) Theories of International Relations essay and a 71 (A and 'distinction' equivalent) on my Open Source Intelligence Essay. Just a May exam to sit for Theories (to make up the other 50% of my grade) and 2 more essays of 3,250 words for OSINT!

20 January 2011

"It's wild round here, you don't want to spend the night round here"

Did I get to the library today? No. Did I go to class? No. Why?

Two words: stomach flu.

I should have predicted this, of course. I get sick every single time I make a transatlantic flight. I think it has to do with the fact that my already-weak immune system, when faced with the prospect of being surrounded by germ-carrying strangers for 8 hours, simply gives up entirely. At the same time, it doesn't exactly help that I keep forgetting to take 'Airborne' or any of the vitamin C tablets. Er...next time!

Hopefully I'll kick this nasty illness by tomorrow. It is always depressing to set your alarm for 7:30AM, be sick for hours but continue to cling to the delusion that you might manage to salvage the night and be productive the next day, and collapse into bed only to have the alarm go off, reminding you that yes, you were up all night. Instead of the productive day that I had planned, I was instead forced to remain my room all day trying to sleep, read about Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and schedule my workload for the next few weeks. As it turns out, it is perhaps good that I did so because I have a lot more work due than I thought. I have a 3000 word essay and presentation on February 3rd, a 45-minute present on OSINT as applied to the DCR crisis on February 11th, and a 3250 word essay due on February 25th. I also have essays and presentations in March and April, but I would prefer not to list them out as this will serve only to panic me. Oh, and at some point I have to start my dissertation.

It wears me out just thinking about it.

19 January 2011

The Road Full of Promise

Life goes on as it must. I wish I could say that things are getting better, but they aren't, not really. Oh well...I will take it one day at a time. And thanks to the awesome support I've been getting from friends and family, I think I will come through this ok. :) What is going to happen will happen...I have no other choice but to sit back and wait. (Anyone who knows me well will know how incredibly frustrating this is for me! I am not patient!)

I'm back in the UK. I flew from BWI last night, arrived at Heathrow by 9AM, and was back in my flat by 11:30. I had a good cry for about half an hour (pathetic, I know, but I had to begin the rather emotionally devastating process of unpinning photos from my bulletin board, which necessitated a bout of crying), went to Sainsbury's for groceries, and then high-tailed it over to Regent's Park for XC practice.

Fun Fact:
In the recent film The King's Speech starring Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush (which I saw recently and, if the Academy has any sense at all, will earn Firth an Oscar), the scene where George VI (Firth) and his speech therapist Lionel Logue (Rush) discuss Edward VIII's impending abdication was filmed in Regent's Park. I see this site every Wednesday (sadly minus the sexiness is that Colin Firth and with considerable less fog (still, I suppose the directors had to let the audience know that they were in London somehow):

Going to XC practice turned out to be a bit of an (overly) ambitious move for me. I made it through the track workout (1400m, 1050m, 700m, 350m) but was slow and tired. :(

Tomorrow it is back to class for, as Chris "the Ingrahammer" dubbed it, 'King's part 2'. I have International Politics of the Middle East from 2 to 5:30. Before that I will most likely be chained in the library doing reading. (I suppose it would be wise to take a day off from running/exercising considering that I've not done so for the last 2 weeks and feel my body is reaching the limits of its endurance. Also considering that I have an 11 mile run on Saturday. Gotta love marathon training!)

Upcoming Events:
January 27: XC race @ Reading
February 3: IPME paper due (Bah...)
February 4: OSINT presentation on crisis in DRC
February 4-6: BUCS XC Championships @ Birmingham

"If you love me let me go
back to that bar in Tokyo
where the demons from my past leave me in peace
I'll be animating every night
the grass will be greener on the other side
and the vampires and werewolves won't seek their teeth
I'm sick of dancing with the beast" - The Wombats, Tokyo

14 January 2011

Life happens

2011 is not getting off to a good start for me. In fact, I'd be quite content if I could sleep through the rest of this year (if it is to continue in a similar vein) and wake up in 2012. Unless, of course, the Mayans are correct and the world will end in 2012. In which case I'd rather just sleep through that, thank you very much. (The sleep would be particularly welcome considering that the past few days have seen me getting less than my usual 4-5 hours.) In other news...

It's over. My relationship of over a year is over. Of all the men I've dated, he was the only one I ever said 'I love you' to. The only one who I ever opened up to completely. After putting myself on the line, it's hard not to regret everything after it has fallen apart. Because in the end, I simply wasn't good enough for him. When he rejected me, it was a rejection of my personality, my beliefs, my dreams...who I am.

Needless to say, I am very upset and sad. It's hard for me to allow myself to get close to people, whether in friendship or romantically. So to finally let myself relax and trust...only to have this happen is like being stabbed in the heart with a knife. I know rationally that it is a part of life, that it happens to everyone, but emotionally this doesn't compute...I don't care. I am angry, upset, hurt, confused. Still, this will be the only post where I will indulge my anger by actually mentioning the breakup. From this day forward, it shall be as if it never happened. This is the only possible way for me to deal with this. The way to go from here is forward. And so a-forward I shall go, away into the future. Where hopefully bigger and better things are waiting for me. Failing that, I will just become a cat lady.

Today, the Conscious Corner FB page posted a particularly apt quotation to describe how I've been dealing with this situation:

“In times of great stress or adversity, it's always best to keep busy, to plow your anger and your energy into something positive.” 

~Lee Iacocca

And so during today's run I watched as the times on my Garmin crept from their usual 7:15-7:30 pace down to 6:30 and then, for a very brief time, 5:30! Clearly I had a lot of anger and other emotions to work out. It snowed here in Laurel a few days ago, and while less than 2 inches actually accumulated on the ground, it was enough to make parts of my run rather harrowing. The snow has mostly melted by now, but was pretty while it lasted. They are calling for more snow next Tuesday, which should be interesting considering that I am flying back to London on Tuesday night. Hmm...

So...self-indulgent post over. I will not look back into the past, only towards the future. Come on 2011...show me what (or perhaps who?) else you've got!

 P.S. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has called/texted/supported me during this tough time. You have no idea how much it means to me. Thank you!

02 January 2011

'Blinded by the Light'

2011 is here! I kicked off the first day of the year by waking up at the absolutely ridiculous hour of 4:15AM (made more unappealing when coupled with the fact that I didn't actually fall asleep until 3:30). Seriously, I didn't get up this early even when I was doing crew. Back then, I got to sleep until a somewhat more tolerable 4:50. Still, I managed to wake up with minimal (audible) grumbling and drove my Dad the twenty-five minutes to BWI so that he could catch his flight to Hawaii.

After collapsing into bed upon my return home, I was able to get another few hours of sleep, grab breakfast, and then go for my first run of 2011. Managed 6.44 miles (closer to 6.75 since I somehow managed to stop my Garmin early on in the run) at a pace of 7:36. Not too shabby. Now if I could only get rid of the lingering pain in my toes/ball of left foot, then I'd be set.

Tomorrow brings new adventures: making a cheesecake (my first time!) for my brother's 20th birthday on the 3rd...and celebrating my 1-year anniversary with Drew. :)

01 January 2011

A Look Back at 2010

It is hard to believe that it is the last day of 2010. It seems like only yesterday that it was May and I was getting ready to graduate. I wish I could say that I have grand party plans for tonight, but in reality I am probably going to bed early. I have to be up at 4:15AM (an ungodly hour) to drive my Dad to the airport. He's off to Hawaii while the rest of us freeze here in Maryland. :)

Resolution Run, January 1, 2010
January started off with my third race ever - the Resolution Run in Patterson Park. Hideously cold that day, the 5k race itself was quite fun and set the year off right. After several epic snow showers in Maryland during winter break, I returned to St. Mary's for my final (and much anticipated) undergraduate semester. 

If I had thought that Maryland was done with snow for the winter, I was wrong. February brought two major snow events which the weather channel labeled 'Snowpocalypse'. For the first time in my undergraduate career, St. Mary's canceled classes. In fact, we missed so many days due to the blizzards that I did not have biology, my only real class, for three weeks. In the early days of the blizzard, my suitemates and I would tunnel through the 8+ inches of snow to the Campus Center for meals, seeking shelter in Schaeffer or Montgomery Halls when the wind proved too much. By the end, we were subsisting off canned soup and wheat thins because the walk was too much of an effort. Had I had my way, I would have stayed within the (relative) warmth of Waring Commons and ventured out only go to the gym, but my responsibilities at the Campus Store required me to make the journey to the Campus Center, oftentimes at 6:30AM. The highlight of the entire month, however, had to be Valentine's Day. My boyfriend and I drove 2 hours from St. Mary's County to Wheaton, MD to the Royal Mile Pub, a traditional Scottish pub. The food was excellent and made the horrible drive (I got lost, in rush hour, on a busy road that the 5 foot snow piles had narrowed down to 1 1/2 lanes) completely worth it.

No crazy costumes for us on Mardi Greens: we were being bad ass
March was hellish: my rough draft of my St. Mary's Project was due before spring break, which meant that I wrote 75 pages in a little over three weeks. I spent most of my waking hours (which numbered around 18 each day) in the library and was generally miserable to be around. Still, I did manage to get in some fun in the form of the massive Mardi Greens party and a pre-St. Patrick's Day event, which Chris and I dominated by bringing Irish flag colored jello shots. I even managed to get my photograph in the student paper by participating in the Mardi Greens parade. It was smaller than previous years, but a group of about 30 upperclassmen marched through every open building on campus (underclassmen dorms, Townhouse crescent, the Greens, the library, and Campus Center), banging pots and pans, and singing 'When the Saints Come Marching In'. I somehow managed to bang a whole in the bottom of my plastic bowl and left the parade when we reached my boyfriend's dorm, but it was great fun all the same.

Run for Hospice 5k
Chris enjoying a turkey leg at the Celtic Festival. These things make life worth living.
April was momentous because I finished my St. Mary's Project, 'Living Truths in Dying Times': A Social Examination of Plague in Early Modern England'. At over 125 pages, finishing it made life in general seem surreal. I finished my last undergraduate class, competed in the Run for Hospice 5k (winning 2nd in my age group) for a PR, and went to the Southern Maryland Celtic Festival.

WC57 in New York City!

Title slide of my SMP presentation

At the Bodleian Library
May was bittersweet. I presented my SMP, wrote a 30-page paper in under 2 days, and graduated from college. My friend Alex took our entire suite on an amazing trip to New York where we saw Phantom of the Opera and experienced all that New York City had to offer. Two days after I returned from NYC, it was time for me to leave the US. On the day I left, I ran a 'around 10k' trail race with my boyfriend. It was the hardest race that I have ever completed and involved fording a waist deep river, running up mini-mountains, and crossing train tracks. Less than six hours later, my father and I flew to the UK, where we visited my old haunts of Oxford and London.

Edinburgh Castle

View from Arthur's Seat
Chris was our guide's favorite on the ghost tour. She kept choosing him to act out her stories.
After a glorious Daddy-Daughter week in England, it was time to say goodbye to my father. He left for the US and I flew north to Edinburgh where I would be spending my summer serving an internship at the US Consulate. Returning to Edinburgh, where I had lived during my junior year abroad, was not as stressful as I thought it would be. I was already familiar with the city and so in some ways it was as if I were returning home. Much harder to adjust to was working 9-5 (and sometimes longer) and the fact that the sun didn't set until 11PM. The month ended well, with my friend Chris coming to visit!

Harley Davidson sponsored the Consulate party so it was only natural that I get a picture on one of their bikes.

Drew making his way to the marker at the top of Ben Nevis

Ben Nevis = conquered.

Bettyhill, Scotland
July was by far the best month. After months of preparation, the Consulate's 4th of July celebration went off without a hitch (on my 22nd birthday incidentally!). Best of all was the fact that my boyfriend and his family, stopping in Scotland on their way home from a wedding in Greece, were in attendance. I accompanied them on a trip through the Highlands to the very northern coast of Scotland where Drew's grandfather had been born (in Bettyhill). On the way we experienced the temperamental Scottish weather, climbed the tallest mountain in the UK (Ben Nevis), and learned that Scots-Gaelic is incredibly hard to pronounce.

Volcanic rock, Isle of Staffa

Fingal's Cave, Isle of Staffa

Iona Abbey, Isle of Iona

Kerrera Castle

Oh, Scotland
After the Patrick Henry Half Marathon
The first few days of August were holidays in Scotland and I took advantage of the four day weekend by traveling to Oban on the west coast. Since no trip to the west coast can be complete without an excursion to the Hebrides, I boarded the ferry and went to the Islands of Mull, Staffa, and Iona. On my final day, I completed a 14 mile hike around the Island of Kerrera (population: 40). Before I knew it, it was the 14th and I was on a plane for the US. It was wonderful to be home, and I spent the time catching up with my friends, family, and boyfriend. However, the most memorable moment of all had to be the 28th of August, when I completed my first half marathon - the Patrick Henry Half in Ashland, VA - in 1 hour and 49 minutes. (Perhaps equally memorable was hopping in the car immediately after, driving 3 hours home to Laurel, showering, and then driving 2 hours to St. Mary's to celebrate my boyfriend's birthday).

Gates to my university, King's College London, at the Strand campus

Tower Bridge
September arrived and the countdown to my departure for the UK began. On the 17th, in a flood of tears at leaving behind everything I knew, I boarded a plane for my move to London. I started grad school, began cross country practice, and made new friends. A month of change, to be sure.

Along the Thames
A month of cross country races, classes, and apple festivals. My friend Veronica made the long journey from Wales to come visit.

Dad with his new friend just 'hanging' out at Baker Street's Sherlock Holmes Museum
Dad came to visit me over Thanksgiving break, thus providing me with the extra motivation that I needed to get through the last few weeks of the semester. We traveled far and wide around London doing all of the 'touristy' things that I would otherwise be too embarrassed to do on my own. The crowning moment had to be when I surprised Dad by taking him to see The Jersey Boys on London's West End in celebration of his 60th birthday.

KCL Cross Country team at Hackney Marshes

Snow in London?!?

Drew & I at the Celtic Solstice 5 Miler
With the end of term in sight, the 17 days of December that I spent in London seemed to drag on. I wrote papers for classes, made presentations, and went to the gym. The last 2010 race of the London Colleges League was run at Hackney Marshes, and KCL cleaned up in the medals, with our Women's I and II teams winning 1st and 2nd, and our Men's team taking 1st. Then it was time to cross the Atlantic for winter break. Less than 15 hours after I arrived home from the UK, I ran a 5 mile race with my boyfriend, taking 2nd in my age group. Christmas came and went. I spent a wonderful Christmas day at my boyfriend's house celebrating with his family. (And Santa was kind as well: I got a Garmin and a Kindle. I am set for life!!!) And now, although I can scarcely believe it, it is the last day of December. Tomorrow marks the first day of 2011 and in 17 days I return to the UK for a five-month stint.

All in all, 2010 has been pretty momentous. My life has changed so much in the past 12 months, mostly for the better. I look forward to what 2011 holds.

someecards.com - Thanks for not laughing at my absurdly unattainable New Year's resolutions