Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hanging with the Glaswegians.

The journey is almost at an end, although there are still over 24 hours left before I finally reach Arkansas, and who knows what might happen!

This morning, I left Skye. It was heartbreaking, for a number of reasons, the beauty of the place and the kindness of the people among the forefront. Fortunately, my friends Lorna and Monique took the same train to Glasgow, so we had a lovely time buying each other tea at different points throughout the journey.

Last sunset on Skye
If you ever have to travel across the UK, or anywhere with landscape of note, for that matter, take an extra day and opt for the train. 

With Monique, from Switzerland

With Lorna, from Stirling

Goodbye, Sabhal Mor Ostaig! (The grouping of white buildings is the college)

I was lucky to meet up with one of my friends from Guildhall when I got to Glasgow! We walked a little around the West End, which is near Glasgow University and is a lovely, eclectic part of town. But the inevitable was bound to happen: rain. It rains pretty much every day in Glasgow. I had been warned about this; why I chose to leave my new waterproof and umbrella behind, I don’t know. As I write this blog entry, I am sipping a yummy G&T and in dry clothes, but about an hour ago I was completely soaked! And cold! If you ever go to Glasgow, BRING YOUR UMBRELLA AND UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES EVER LEAVE IT BEHIND. It was nice to see Katharine though. It’s hard to believe that Guildhall ended just over a week ago! As this entire trip has proven to turn out, it feels at once as if both as if a day and a year have passed.

I am in a Euro Hostel right now. I am in an eight person, female dorm. Hostel culture is definitely its own thing. You have to trust people to leave your stuff in a room with them. And to sleep in the same room as them!—which is not easy in the city. 

Glasgow Uni

Rain at the Botanical Gardens!

I refuse to believe that this Adventure is over just yet. I know it's not.
I know I am going to stay in touch with many of my friends from Guildhall. They are a talented group; watch for their names to one day be in lights. I mean it.
The foray into the Gaelic world-- it's a neat one. I want to stay a part of it. Go check it out. Take a short course.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Gle Mhath!

My internet has been a tad squirly, but I’ll try to give a brief rundown of the adventures I’ve had on Skye.

Here's an idea: become fluent in Gaelic (pronounced GA-lik for Scotland), get an MA in Gaelic Drama, act in Gaelic dramas, and go around Scotland teaching drama in Gaelic, thus promoting the culture and the language.

This course at Sabhal Mor Ostaig has been a delicious adventure, taking turns I would never have expected.

One of the best things about this course and the way this College is set up is how you get to just chill with people from the community. The Gaelic world is its own kind of subculture. It’s a tight-knit community, I have come to find, and I feel privileged to have been given the chance to visit.

We have taken a few day trips. One was to Eilean Donan Castle, often called the most picturesque castle in Scotland.

With Jacqueline, another member of the Acting course

Eilean Donan Castle

Eilean Donan

Wednesday, some of us took a boat to Knoydart, the most remote village in the British Isles. It is accessible only by foot or by an intense 14-mile hike.

The scenery here is so lovely, it is almost hard to realize that I am actually here, looking at it, boating amidst it, and walking in it. It’s almost like when you’re in a very dangerous situation and everything suddenly becomes distanced from you. I feel as if I am looking at giant postcards all the time.

On the boat on the way to Knoydart

Last night, we had a Celidh Dance, where the different groups presented things and there was country dancing. It was a hoot! Many of the students doing the short courses are actually 30s+, so this has been a neat change from my usual University experience, in that I wasn’t friends with just the twenty-some-odds, but rather everybody and anybody.

As far as the course has gone, it has been a challenge, not so much from the drama end of things, but from the language end. Fortunately, everybody here is very patient and kind and they want you to learn and succeed. While the course was bilingual, we worked in Gaelic texts, devising theatre based on Gaelic poems or “improvs” where we wrote our own Gaelic scripts. It was extra hard to memorize, because it is not pronounced the way it looks. I had to memorize sounds, with only a basic idea of what I was saying. This took up so much focus that I didn’t really focus as much on the acting end as I normally would, but I’m interested to see how this informed the theatre work anyhow; I will save you all the detailed theatrical analysis of it all.

When in Scotland, do as the Scots do: drink the national beverage: Whiskey!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Over the sea to....

I’m in my second day on Skye now.
This is the best decompression from the city. It’s like Western zen or something. 

Girl adventured across on the ferry! This is Jimmy.
The first day I was here was an adventure. There were no buses running from the pier, because it was Sunday, so the guy who works at the ferry office was like, “oh, I’ll give you a lift. It’s just a couple miles. Let me just get this next boat out.” So then I rode with him and a fellow named Bob. We went through the village—it was either Sleate or Armadale, not sure—and then I got dropped off at Sabhal Mor Ostaig (pronounced: SAHl-mor OH-steg).
I was there super early so the lady at reception, Ruth, let me go to church with her. It was a tiny little Church of Scotland. Then we had a “wee blether,” in which she taught me some beginning Gaelic phrases. I quickly bought books on learning Gaelic.
I also did some exploring. It’s very quiet here, and not easy to get places, so much of my “entertainment” has been exploring. 

An Tur- the Tower- where the girl is staying!

Footpath she found in the front of the school...

...that led down to this view.

The church 

The first day of classes was definitely an adventure. In the Acting class, there are three students and two teachers. The drama workshops we did would maybe have been simple, except for the fact that I speak no Gaelic. There is one girl in the class who is fluent, and another who is pretty intermediate. I had been told, however, that the course was bilingual, so it would be okay if I didn’t know any, and the instructors are incredibly kind and patient with me. I’ve already started to learn a tiny bit. I’m also getting better at simply reading the words and knowing how to pronounce them, since they are not pronounced phonetically at all.
The view from her window
In the evening there was a pub quiz at the campus pub. I sat at a table with a lady named Lorna from Stirling, Scotland, a lady named Monique from Switzerland, and a fellow whose name I didn’t catch from Dublin.
There is also a music course going on, so after the pub quiz, people started pulling out fiddles and cellos and there was also a bagpipe.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

End of London, on to Scotland

Were I a writer or an artist seeking inspiration, I would buy myself a train ticket cross a country and look out the windows, while listening to a brilliantly constructed playlist of music.

My lovely friends walked me to my station at 5 this morning to say goodbye. We hadn’t slept all night.
The evening began with the certificate ceremony and tea dance at Guildhall.

 Then most of S4 went to find a place to watch the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. We ended up going to a place near Sloane Square in Chelsea. We got food at a McDonald’s (truly a Londoner; not trying to seek out “Londoney” pubs!) and a lot of us got collector Olympic Coca-Cola Cups and armbands with our meals. Then we found this park with a very large screen, where we joined several hundred other people in watching the ceremonies. It was so cool to be in the city where it was happening, and to think that I had actually seen the stadium! The people watching were not only from Britain, either; we were sitting by a Japanese couple. But there were plenty of people from the U.K., and they were all majorly enthusiastic. I found myself feeling strangely patriotic toward Britain, but I still cheered extra loud when the American team walked.


Then a bunch of us went back to Sundial, where we hung out with some kids from the jazz summer school for a bit. I met a fellow named James who studies percussion at Guildhall during term but was working housekeeping this summer. He walked us around the Barbican area, and we found some new crannies and corners to see. We went down to the “Thames Beach!” It was this rocky and very muddy place by the water. Then it was time to go back and pack up.\

On to Scotland

My trip from London to Mallaig was over 12 hours, but it wasn’t unenjoyable. In fact, it was quite lovely to do nothing but sit by a window and listen to Celtic and soundtrack music and to doze off and then wake up to the soul-stirring landscape passing by. I was able to spend an hour in Glasgow for lunch between trains, which was nice. I’ll spend an afternoon there on my way back. While people in London were not unfriendly by any means, in these more northern parts there is an element of openness and friendliness that is not unlike the southern U.S.
Mallaig is this charming coastal town with a little port. I am staying at the Sea View Guest House, which I would highly recommend if you are ever in the area. I take the ferry to Skye tomorrow. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Videos: The Globe and my daily walk

A quick view of the Globe. I was against the stage!

A walk from my flat to the school. 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Visit to Olympic Park

IKEA  Tower
Today, I visited the Olympic Park! I couldn't actually get in, since I didn't have a ticket, but I did get to go on an interesting tour around the area.
Three Mills Studios, where the opening ceremonies are being rehearsed.

The stadium

Where Al Jazeera will be

The Aquatics centre

Olympic Village 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Girl ACTUALLY goes adventuring a bit

Every day, do something to enhance and enrich and reaffirm your soul. Also do something that will stretch you past the limits of your comfort zone.

Today was a long day, but it was quite the adventure. The easy part of the day was visiting Regent’s Park and the Freud Museum. That was the smallest part of the day, though.
Today was mostly dedicated to some exploration into theatre for social good/ social awareness. I went out to Peckham, which is actually one of the rougher parts of the city. I usually try to be a pretty gutsy person, but this pushed me out of my comfort zone in a whole new way.

When I went out to Peckham, I first visited Nene Essien, who is originally from Africa and has founded the Papa Mandela Project. This is a project dedicating to educating young people (of African descent, primarily, but I suppose anyone) in the community about Nelson Mandela and about their roots and culture. She is one of the most loving, passionate people. I sat in on an informational meeting where she was talking to young recruits and their parents about the project. The parents and kids were respectful enough, but I didn't feel that they were quite as excited as Nene, which was too bad. Nene has been doing this for 17 years, and you can tell it is her life, she is so enthusiastic about what she does, and is tireless.

With Nene Essien
I also went to a play in the evening, but I had about four hours to kill. Nene gave me a ride to the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre, where she suggested I look around for a while. (The whole car ride, she kept apologizing for not being able to let me stay with her for the afternoon, but she had a meeting. She was very precious!) So I hung out at this mall-type place that many people in the States would call “shady.” It had lots of market-y booths around it that sold fun cheap clothes, and inside the shopping centre was an interesting mix of shops. I got a thing called Ichtyotherapy, where little Garra Rufa fish nibble at all the dead skin on your feet. For real. It’s the weirdest thing, and you should definitely try it if you ever get the chance. There was also an exhibit on photographs about Jamaica in the shopping centre. I think there is a large Jamaican/Rasta population in this part of the city. I also met a filmmaker and his daughter. Apparently this filmmaker and his wife both do documentaries. You have probably seen some of them, as they are often for National Geographic and the History Channel!

Girl was totally told that "for her, a special price..." at this market...

Inside the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre. The girl would have taken more pictures, but people were giving her strange looks.
 In the evening, I went to a play called Vera Vera Vera. It's a new play, put on by the Royal Court Theatre. They have been doing this project where they move plays from their actual playhouse - Sloane- out into the communities. It was hard to find the theatre, especially being as tired as I was from the rest of the day. It was super cool though; it was up lots of stairs and in a "found" sort of space. They had put sod on the floor. It was very edgy, and socially aware. It's one of those venues that when you buy a program, they actually hand you a script that has a little programmatic info in the front.
Entrance to the Bussey Building, which is where the play was 

More entrance.

More entrance
 On the way back, I cut through the Barbican Centre (meaning I got lost), and caught a glimpse of the James Bond exhibit there...

007 movie posters

Today involved lots of walking, working the buses, getting lost, spending more money than I probably ought to have, and staying super "aware" of my surroundings. It was great finally getting to see where people-- and not rich people-- actually live. The people I met, passed on the street, and asked for help on the bus were of all sorts of different backgrounds. When I stepped back in to the Sundial Court gates tonight, I finally relaxed a little. I once again realized how nice and clean and safe my world really is most of the time. 

Today did stretch me out of my comfort zone, but that is where true growth as a person happens. Today has truly been an adventure.

And here are some pictures from the cushier part of the day:
Regent's Park

Outside of the Freud Museum