Category Archives: Bangor

Living in the UK – Some thoughts on food, books and my classes

Welcome back,

Now since I had a number of deadlines this week and I was a bit sick (I had a vertigo because of a blocked ear and had therefore an ear syringing – was ok ;-)), I can’t offer you any travel reports this time but I can offer you an insight into living in the UK and everything that comes with that, like buying and eating food or searching for a new book to read. I am sure you will find some things familiar if you have been to the UK before, but I am also sure you will learn something new too and hopefully enjoy reading it! 😉

Food is obviously always a big issue, but especially if you live in a country that offers food which his mostly different from the stuff you are used to at home, you will need some time to get used to it. What I can say about British supermarkets is that you won’t believe me what kind of awesome stuff they are selling here, and the good thing about it – it is very cheap compared to food sold in Austria. That might be one reason why every time I look into my basket before paying I say to myself “well, that escalated quickly…..”

Too much sweet stuff….

Another reason for this is certainly the fact that I always find something new I want to try in the sweets section, but I have to say that now (mid-March) I have control over it. Some of the most delicious things I have tried so far are Milky Way chocolate stars, Oreo Golden cookies, mint-flavored Aero bubbles and a Maltesers bunny (Easter is coming).

‘Spread’ is one of the words I have never used before I came here but is now quite important to me because I eat it every day. It refers to the paste you put on a toast or bread, you surely know the most famous one in Austria, Nutella. Here they sell hundreds (I am exaggerating) of different peanut butter spreads, but the coolest ones I found so far are Maltesers, Bounty, Cadbury and Twix spreads. I have tried all except for the Bounty one, and they are really good.

What amazes me  most is the variety of different hot chocolate drinks, which can be made with hot water. I have tried a lot of them like White Maltesers, Milky Way, Wispa (very bubbly), some mint and orange-flavored thing, but there are still so many to try.

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The selection of teas is simply amazing, I already bought more tea that I can drink during my stay here. But not everything is good, I have not told you about the cat food yet…

Cat food

Here they offer a huge selection of cans with everything you can imagine in them, I bought a chicken soup once in case I get ill. That was a very bad idea!  I will always remember that as the ‘cat food incident’: When I opened the can I thought omg this looks and smells like cat food. But I gave it a chance and prepared it in the microwave and tried it. I cannot say if it tastes like cat food because I have never tried cat food but I will certainly never try this soup again. I think cat food tastes like that…Now I really don’t understand why cats  eat this…

Tilda

Apparently British people  like Tilda Swinton – one of their fellow Brits – so much that they even name rice after her.I did not want to take a photo myself because I guess people would stare at me if I took a photo of rice in the supermarket….

tilda-home-packs

Crisps & Waste

Those were the positive aspects. However, this variety of great things apparently comes with a price: waste culture. Let me illustrate this by showing you how crisps look like here.

If you buy a bag of crisps (“Chips” in German) – usually 2 bags because you can have 2 for 2 pounds – and you open it you won’t find crisps. You will find five six smaller bags of crisps. It is double the amount of waste you produce if you buy one pack. The one shown on the photo below is rather small, about the size of crisps bags in Austria, but there are also much bigger ones which typically contain X2 salty x2 cheese and onion 2x salt and vinegar and sometimes 2x prawn. PRAWN??!? Yes, that is not a mistake. Prawn crisps. Why do they do that to those little creatures… I guess it is artificial flavor but still, the mere idea of turning a creature into crisps is kind of disturbing…..

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By the way, Chips (“Pommes”) are eaten with vinegar. Everything is eaten with vinegar. WHY??? I don’t like vinegar. But ok, if they like it…

Books

Before I went abroad I said to myself that I won’t buy books here because it is so annoying to get them back home. I did not stick to that. At all. You might know that I love CYAL ( children’s and young adult literature) and here you find a children’s books section everywhere! Every little bookshop such as the shop in Liverpool cathedral or Chester cathedral has a children’s books section. I found one in the Football Museum’s store as well, have a look at the photo below.

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I am particularly happy that I found a Shakespeare collection for children, I really love those books and I might find them useful for teaching in the future. I would have never thought that I would end up reading Shakespeare hear…what comes next? James Joyce? Äh..maybe not. Especially if there are no children’s editions.

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Another thing that is certainly very different here is teaching. I think I have already told you that I am doing five classes here, two of them being electives. Let me tell you a little bit more details about them.

English & Society

English & Society is a first-year Sociolinguistics course i have originally taken just because I had to find another course and this one was available to me and fit my schedule. You might think it is very basic and boring to me, but that is absolutely not true! While there are certainly many things I am already familiar with (and the teacher noticed that after thanking me for my active participation 😉 ), there are certain topics which are almost completely new like Language and Gender, which was very interesting and should definitely be a part of an introduction to Linguistics that features Sociolinguistics. Other issues were being discussed from a very different perspective compared to Vienna, especially since dialects have a very important status here. As David Crystal said, RP is not popular anymore, it does not even exist anymore. Another aspect is the fact that we have a 1-hour tutorial every week, which is basically a practical class – we analyze graphs and discuss certain aspects from the lecture. It is very similar to my ISL2 tutorial in Vienna, there is no repetition of content, but application of content, and now I experience it on the other side and see how very meaningful this is. For every course we have an online course on Blackboard – the Welsh Moodle – have a look at the screenshot below. It is – of course – bilingual.

blackboard

SLA and Language Teaching

SLA and Language Teaching is a course dealing with various aspects of bilingualism, language acquisition and language teaching, such as the Critical Period Hypothesis, Code-switching and native and non-native teachers of English. The session on the last mentioned topic was particularly interesting because this is such a controversial topic. The only thing I want to say about this is: Please ask yourself  if being a native-speaker of a certain language is something you decide yourself or something you are born with and cannot change….I guess you can imagine what I want to say, I am just pointing out the similarity to other discourses…problematic discourses…just saying…I won’t comment on this issue anymore because the discourse makes me a bit pissed. 🙂

Metaphor & Thought

This course mainly deals with metaphor and metonymy. At the very beginning I thought I was well informed about those because i have read so much about it, and many things were certainly familiar to me, but there are soooo many new aspects. For this course I have a tutorial every fortnight (tutorial = practical section with the teacher), where we practice the content with worksheets (as I said, very much like the ISL2 tutorial). It also inspired me to start with a certain project which I might tell you more about in the future…

Japanese

I do this course as an elective, it is taught by the ERASMUS coordinator and he is really cool! Most of the times we work with newspaper articles, we translate them in groups and then do some interactive stuff like playing out a dialogue. Yesterday I was the admin of JAXA (Japan’s NASA) talking English with a Japanese accent! But we also have more traditional lesson where we work with the book, but in general the atmosphere is rather relaxed and I feel very comfortable in the course.

Welsh

Welsh is communicative classroom, that means we are taught Welsh by the communicative method: Most of the time we learn constructions by practicing the pronunciation and using them by talking to fellow students. I really like it and I think I highly benefit from the class because I learn a lot for my own teaching. To show you what I have learned (and to show off a little bit) I write a short text about myself (without help): Alex dw i. Myfyriwr dw i. Dw i’n astudio Saesneg yn y Brifysgol ym Mangor. Dw i’n dwad o Awstria ond dw i’n byw yn Neuadd Kyffin ym Mangor. Dw i’n dysgu Cymraeg yn Cymraeg i Oedolion yn Stryd y Deon. Dw i’n licio pêl-droed yn fawr! 😉

I hope you liked the blog entry, next time I will provide you with more interesting travel photos, but to finish this blog entry, have a look at the sunset I caught at the pier one week ago, it was amazing. 😉

Best wishes,

Alexandra

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Roman Camp, Chinese New Year and Beaumaris Castle

Welcome back!

In this blog entry I will tell you about my visit to Roman Camp – a quite special place in Bangor – as well as the Chinese New Year celebration in Bangor and my trip to Beaumaris Castle, which includes a story about a very particular seagull! 🙂 I hope you enjoy reading it!

Roman Camp

On a Sunday we went to a place called Roman Camp (thanks July for sending me there!!), which is not far away from the University and not that difficult to find. By the way, I have no idea why it is called Roman Camp, if I find it out one day I let you know 😉 . We simply had to walk a rather steep way up and we were there, in the middle of a huge area full of grass with a little hill in the middle. The view was amazing, one can see on the one side the Bangor pier and the island of Anglesey, on the other side even the snowy mountains of Snowdonia. Have a look at the photos I took there below to get an impression of that place.

Chinese New Year celebration

There is one thing I am quite sure about, namely that there are more speakers of Mandarin Chinese in Bangor than speakers of RP. Bangor has a remarkably large community of Chinese people, there is a Confucius Institute and I assume that is the reason why  a Chinese New Year is held every year in the middle of the town. At first a bunch of people in Chinese clothes went in a parade around the cathedral and then through the town playing music instruments or carrying a dragon. The smaller children were particularly cute, I think most of them didn’t know where they were, what they are doing and why they are doing it. Have a look at the photos I took, there were several performances such as Kung Fu, traditional Chinese music and a show with awesome-looking dragons. All in all, it was a very colorful event giving me a fascinating insight into this part of Bangor’s community.

Beaumaris castle

This time we went to another World Heritage Site – Beaumaris Castle. It is located in a town called Beaumaris (well of course) which is on the other side of the Menai Strait on Anglesey island. The castle was a bit (I just wanted to write ‘bit’ and ‘small’ and wrote bittle’ – why brain are you doing this?) smaller than Caernarfon and I feel far less transformed into a tourist attraction. There are only a few interactive elements such as the opportunity to build a small castle or a harp one can play on, one could really see that it is ‘the greatest castle never built’ – as it is called. King Edward I. did not finish the castle because the money for building it was needed elsewhere.

There is not that much that I can tell you about the castle itself, but certainly what happened there on the exact day I went there. But beware: It is a story of immense brutality, manhunt and French vocabulary. Read the story of ‘le goéland terrible’ (the terrible seagull).

Le goéland terrible

Once upon a time there was a seagull, it was very…..well, actually the story does not start with the seagull but now I have the obligatory ‘once upon a time’ as the beginning of my story, so it is a proper story. So this is the real beginning of the story: When I was checking out one of the towers of Beaumaris Castle, I heard someone shouting and all of sudden two friends from France came running towards the tower I was in, being chased by a seagull. Later they told me that they were running almost from the other side of the castle to this particular tower, the seagull behind them. I could only see them entering the tower, safely but surprised by the mischievous attack. But what had happened? One of the two had taken out something to eat from her backpack and the seagull wanted this particular item and chased her to grab a bite. Still in shock because of the unexpected attack we went into the tower to discover it and we talked about the incident. My friend from France ensured us that the French seagulls are not that mischievous (she is from Finistère, which is at the coast, and therefore knows about those animals) and that there are two terms for seagull – le goéland and la mouette. The goélands have a yellow beak as far as I understood. This particular one was a goéland and I named it ‘le goéland terrible’ after the incident.

But this is not the end of the story: When we were about to leave the tower someone was waiting for us at the exact same place as before: Le goéland terrible! Have a look at the photo below to see two friends with le goéland terrible, waiting there all the time while we were discovering the tower so that it can steal our food once we come out. One by one we went past it, everyone fearing another attack. In the end my friend from France – the original victim – shhhhd le goéland terrible away and we felt it was finally over. We were so wrong. Le goéland terrible continued to follow us to the entrance but eventually let us leave the castle unharmed. I have learned a lot from this incident: Never eat in the presence of seagulls, the two French words for seagull and I am now able to distinguish the two of them, isn’t that cool? All thanks to le goéland terrible.

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Le goéland terrible

After visiting Beaumaris Castle we went to a few shops in Beaumaris and to the beach, and then we ended up in a cute café in the center of the town – see photos below. In the late afternoon we took the bus home, seeing a lot of sheep and giggling because of the driver’s rather fast style of driving.

Another exciting week has passed, I hope you liked this blog entry and look already forward to my next one about playing football in the UK and my trip to Manchester. 🙂

Best wishes,

Alexandra

 

Academic life, bilingualism and Caernarfon Castle

Welcome back!

This time I’m going to tell you a little bit about the Academic life at Bangor University, the role of bilingualism in Bangor (or rather Wales) and my trip to Caernarfon – with lots of photos of its magnificent castle.  😉

Academic life at Bangor University

I certainly cannot share everything there is to say about the academic life here, I will therefore focus on things I find particularly interesting, especially because they are so different compared to how things work in Vienna.  (Please forgive me if some parts are hard to follow for someone who is not familiar with the University of Vienna system and/or linguistics, just skip those sentences or passages 😉 ).

One huge difference can be found in the course registration system: In Vienna we are all familiar with univis /u:space, e.g. online course registration. Here in Bangor that is also possible, but only in certain Schools. (Schools are like our departments in Vienna, so my school is for example the School of Linguistics & English Language). We had a great welcome meeting during our first week, where we were given a pink sheet. The pink sheet is used to note down all your courses, then you need to get a signature from a certain member of your school and hand it back to the International Office – then you will get registered. It was not that complicated but a lot of running from one place to another, in Vienna this kind of registration would certainly cause a mess – so everyone be glad we have univis / u:space 😉

The course system is also very different, while we have individual courses in Vienna, here in Bangor it is only possible to take modules, which consist of one course but this course might consist of more than one class. You couldn’t follow me? No problem! I’ll give you an example: One of my courses is called English & Society, we have a weekly lecture on Tuesday and a tutorial on Friday, which is almost every week. Now the concepts of ‘lecture’ and ‘tutorial’ and very different here: ‘Lecture’ means the lecturer talks most of the time, but the talks are very interactive, we sometimes get worksheets or are supposed to talk to our neighbors about a question or something, several times during one lecture. I would say it is very similar to what we know in Vienna as tutorials or ARs. Another difference is the number of participants, I think we are only about 30 to 40 people in this course and I was told it is more than full. In addition to that, attendance is always compulsory, attendance lists need to be signed every single time and we are basically not allowed to miss a single session. As far as I have understood it, we can miss class, but we need a good reason for that.

Now that I have mentioned English & Society – which deals with Sociolinguistics – I will tell you a little bit more about the courses I take. As an exchange student you have to do at least 25 ECTS, maximum 30 ECTS. Since I could only do courses with 10 ECTS, I do 30 – which means I have three courses. One of them is English & Society, the other ones are SLA and Language Teaching as well as Metaphor & Thought. At the very beginning before the classes had started I was not very happy with my course selection because apart from M&T I had to pick what fits my schedule, since the courses I wanted to do originally were not offered or not accessible to ERASMUS students. However, now I think SLA and Language Teaching was really good choice, because it deals with bilingualism and I am in the middle of a bilingualism community. So I guess there is no better place to learn about something I have not yet focused on that much, especially because my home is actually bilingual too. Metaphor & Thought was the course I came here for, it is Cognitive Linguistics in its purest state (does that sound weird? I guess it does…but I hope you know what I mean).

That was what I have to do because the University wants me to do that and because of my ERASMUS scholarship (they only want 15 ECTS, however – very nice people!). But that was certainly not everything I do here! I came here to learn as much as I can, after all. So apart from my the courses I take as a module (this means I have to do exams and get grades), I also do Welsh and Japanese!

 

What can I tell you about Japanese? It seems all Japanese teachers in the world are just awesome, so that is actually something I found in Vienna and I also find here in Bangor. I just had one lesson and although I became part of community (=class) that had been together since September, I felt very welcome and enjoyed the session. I also feel that I really learned a lot in just two hours. Oh yeah I forgot that – here there is no real academic quarter but two hours of teaching with a break in the middle. 😉 It is also quite interesting to experience being taught the same target language – Japanese – by using two different languages as means of instructions, German in Vienna, English in Bangor. Why? Because it requires some kind of metalanguage to learn and talk about Japanese, and this kind of metalanguage is a bit different in the two languages. 😉

Welsh is also pretty great, it was a bit difficult at the beginning because the pronunciation of certain letters is so different from what I am used to in all other languages I know. Have a look at this:

student –      spelling: myfyriwr            pronunciation:/məˈvərjʊr/

linguistics – spelling: ieithyddiaeth   pronunciation: /jəi̯ˈθəðjɑɨ̯θ/

So for instance the <y>, which is pronounced as /ə/ or /ɪ/ depending on the position of the syllable, as far as I have noticed so far. The <w> is also irritating, as it is pronounced as /ʊ/. However, one gets used to it after some time! (‘thank god!’ – my tongue said that, not me)

Bilingualism

One thing I have already realized in Chester when I was waiting for the train when listening to two old ladies talking Welsh is the importance of the Welsh language in Wales. One expects that Wales as a part of the United Kingdom is an English-speaking country and don’t misunderstand me, it is, but Welsh has the same status if not a higher status. Everything is provided in both languages, mails from the university are first in Welsh and then below one can find the English version. I am very impressed by the efforts made here to keep Welsh as a language actually spoken by the people. Bilingualism is omnipresent everywhere. However, I am not sure if younger people have the same command of Welsh as previous generations do. Nevertheless, being allowed to experience bilingual community is certainly something I highly value. Please find some evidence of what I said about the role of the two languages in form of photos below.

Societies, clubs and David Crystal (yes the famous linguist David Crystal!!)

Two things I would also like to address  with respect to academic life – societies and club and David Crystal day.

Societies and clubs play a very important role here. Those are basically communities or people sharing the same interests and having similar goals. They meet regularly and organize events such as social events or workshops. You can google ‘societies’ and add any university name you are interested in to find out what people do around the world. At the Welcome meeting we were told how important those are at university, and I am very happy that we are now working on establishing the same back at home, I was very fascinated by the idea and really want to realize it for our students as well. One event in which a society also plays quite a role here in Bangor is David Crystal Day, which I was very glad to experience on the 1st of February. David Crystal is one of the most famous linguists in the world and honorary professor at Bangor University, and after the two talks he gave on this day I can say that he is a brilliant entertainer as well. I missed the chance to see him back in 2012 when he was in Vienna, so I am even more happy about this chance. The second talk he gave was on eloquence, the first one on English accents. I want to share a few highly interesting things of his talk – especially for the linguists among you: He said that he himself does not have one accent -“mixed accents are increasingly the norm“. He also said that RP is not that popular anymore in England, it is changing – because of that change recent textbooks call it “General British” instead of RP – “formal characters dropped so much, it makes no sense to use a term reflecting class distinction if it is not relevant anymore“. He also said that the Queen’s accent has changed! All in all, his talk was absolutely great, I have learned so much and it certainly gave me food for thought.

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David Crystal – a celebrity in linguistics*.* (he’s the left one btw.)

I apologize for the long text, don’t worry, the photos come now! 😉

Day trip to Caernarfon

Last Saturday we went to a town called Caernafon, which is actually very close to Bangor. It took us approximately thirty min to get there by bus. Caernarfon is mainly famous because of its castle, which is also where we went to and spent most of our time this day.

The castle is huge and very impressive, we spent quite a few hours in there walking through all the towers and going to the very top of them, which was not that easy because of the narrow stairs. However, it was definitely worth it going up. We paid a visit to the museum, which is part of the castle. The visit was  very insightful in many ways (I have learnt, for instance, that goats apparently fight in wars). This exact castle is also the place where Prince Charles was invested as Prince of Wales in 1969. I do not want to bore you with history here, this time I let the photos I took there speak to you (many more to find in the gallery!!). 😉

I hope you liked this blog entry, I know it’s a rather long one but there was a lot of information to share this time. 😉 Next time I will probably write about our visit to Roman Camp, the Chinese New Year Celebration in Bangor and the planned visit to Beaumaris castle, we will see. 😉

At the very end I want share one important insight with you:

A few days ago I was reading a text about frames, ICMs ect. for my Metaphor & Thought class and I realized something: At the beginning it was difficult here, it was all about going abroad, being far away from home and those things – some of you will know too well what I mean. However, while reading this text I could not feel more like being at home. Home is indeed where the heart is. No matter where I am, as long as there is linguistics, I am at home.

Best wishes,

Alexandra

Discovering Bangor & a lecture on Welsh history and culture

Welcome back!

If you have read my first entry you already know that my luggage got lost somewhere on my way from Vienna to Manchester. In this rather unpleasant situation I was forced to go shopping for toiletries and clothes mainly, but also for other stuff. That is what I basically did most of the time during my first week here, and of course discovering other parts of Bangor. I also attended a very interesting introductory lecture about Wales, I will share all insights I gained from this lecture in this blog entry as well. 🙂

Discovering Bangor

Shopping is usually a fun thing to do, but if you HAVE to do it, it becomes kind of…ok, no, to be honest it was still fun to buy everything I (thought I) needed. 😀 Thus, I got to know all the different shops in Bangor very soon, and there are a lot of them for such a small town: There are Topshop, H&M, Peacocks – sells very cool stuff, for instance Civil War pyjama pants, which I bought of course because I totally needed them…no really, I needed pyjama pants 😉 – and many more shops selling clothes. For food I went to Asda (which is very much like Interspar), Morrisons and Aldi (most of you know it as ‘Hofer’) and Lidl – It was very funny to see shops we have in Austria too, they look exactly the same but sell different products sometimes. The food is rather cheap here if you compare it to Austria, you can get a lot of stuff for just one pound (which is a bit more than one Euro) or even less.

I won’t bore you with photos or stories of buying toothpaste or detergent, no worries. 😉 I bought a lot of stuff, but maybe the most important things to me – which also made me feel more comfortable here – are my Bangor dragon plushy and some Wales Football merch, have a look at the pictures below to see it. The dragon is probably the cutest plushie I have ever seen and bought, they sell it at the International Office, so I guess it’s a must for Bangor exchange students. I feel honored to be allowed to live in one of the four best soccer nations in Europe, you know that I am a big Wales (the soccer team) and Gareth Bale fan so that stuff was also a must for me. I might also have the opportunity to play soccer here, at the moment I want to rest because of my ankle but I really want to play and will make all efforts I can to do that – you will learn about university sports clubs and societies and their importance here in future posts.

After discovering the central part of the city and the area around the university building (see photos below) I can say that there are as many seagulls in Bangor as there are doves in Vienna. I prefer the seagulls however, simply because they are laughing all the time.

I also found my way to the pier together with a friend. Have a look at the photos below to get an impression of the pier, maybe one of the most beautiful places here. It was a very sunny day, usually it’s rather cloudy, but my umbrella has been staying at the bottom of my backpack since I have arrived here – no (heavy) rain so far 😉

A lecture on Welsh history and culture

During the first week, which is called “Welcome Week”, we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by a historian about Wales’ history and culture. The professor introduced us to the region by outlining the importance of slate in Wales and telling us a little bit about Wales past. He said that the castles in the Gwynedd region – the region Bangor is part of – were built by Edward I to impress people, and they certainly do. I hope I will see as many of them as possible soon. He briefly discussed the Celtic countries/regions/ languages and I was very surprised that Welsh, which is one of them, has the most native speakers of all Celtic languages, 20% of the three million inhabitants of Wales are native speakers of Welsh. Welsh is very important here in Bangor and Gwynedd, especially in the university context – I will provide more details on that in a future entry focusing on the academic part of my adventure – and you will certainly be surprised about the omnipresence of Welsh. 🙂

The professor – unfortunately I don’t know his name, but he is a local and very nice – also talked about the relationship between England and Wales and reminded us to never say that we are in England here. Wales is not England. Short but very important geographical note: Both Wales and England are part of the United Kingdom together with Scotland and Northern Ireland. Wales is also part of Great Britain, which consists of Wales, England and Scotland (GB refers to the island, Northern Ireland is therefore not part of GB). “To insult a Welshman, call him an Englishman”, he said. He also remarked that there aren’t many Union Jacks here in Wales and as far as I can remember I have only seen one on a car but that was it. The red dragon is, of course, much more present.

As you might know, the Union Jack consists of St. Andrew’s Cross (Scotland), St. George’s Cross (England) and St. Patrick’s Cross (Northern Ireland) – Wales is not part of it. He provided us with a flag on which Wales is represented by the red dragon – have a look at the picture below – which, according to him, is meant as a joke, but I actually like it a lot. I certainly understand now why the Union Jack is not very popular in Wales. In the end I asked him about the Welsh Brexit vote and his reaction told me a lot: He was shaking his head and said he did not know what happened, especially since Wales (this region in particular) heavily relies on money coming from the EU. All in all, the lecture was very interesting and insightful to me, it answered many questions I had about Wales, but there are so much more yet to be answered.

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The Union Jack featuring Wales

I hope I could give you a good impression of my first week in Wales. It was probably not an exciting adventure this time but at the very beginning of such a long period far away from home – I will be here until June – it takes some time to get used to everything and shopping and walking around certainly helps a lot. Read my next blog entry to learn about my fantastic trip to Liverpool at the end of my first week here. 🙂

Best wishes,

Alex

 

My journey to Bangor

The journey to Bangor was long and exhausting for me because of my injured ankle, but at least full of sheep. 😉

My flight from Vienna to Brussels was delayed because of the weather conditions (snow and strong wind), which made me a bit nervous because I knew I would not have that much time to change planes in Brussels. However, that flight reminded me why I love flying: the take-off is just awesome and the flight attendants are super nice. 🙂

I asked one of the flight attendants if I could sit in the front part so that I could quickly move on to my flight to Manchester – business class, yes!!. I think it was around 9:30 when I could leave the plane and my flight to Manchester was scheduled to take-off at 9:55. I looked at the screen showing the flight numbers, gates and the time one needs to get to the gate. I had to get to B90 – the screen said it takes 22 minutes to get there. ‘Brussels is a small airport’ they said….uhm…nope. Now please think of the running scene in Home Alone, double the speed of the running people and you have an idea what I did then. I ran for my life, my ankle almost killing me. Without football training I would have collapsed soon, for sure.

In the end I made it! (Ok, to be honest the flight was also a bit delayed but still). Since the time window between the two flights was so small I feared that although I made it my bag would not make it. That is exactly what happened. I was a bit irritated because of that since there were quite a lot of things in the luggage that I needed, but I continued my journey on a train from Manchester airport to Crewe, from Crewe to Chester and then from Chester to Bangor. Here comes the sheep part: The landscape is actually very similar to my home Burgenland: Green valleys, “mountainous” (that is totally a matter of perspective!) and quite a number of castles. However, Wales comes with a sea view and A LOT OF sheep! I guess one of the reasons Wales is called the land of dragons is because it sounds so much cooler and the title ‘land of sheep’ is already taken…

I arrived safely in Bangor and soon stood in front of my student house. The first days were a bit difficult, in particular because of my delayed luggage and injured ankle, but to find out what I did in my first week in Bangor you need to read the next entry, which is coming soon!

Best wishes, Alex 🙂