Normandy: Exceeding all my Expectations

I just got home from a lovely weekend in Normandy with my program, so first off I’m really tired so please forgive me in advance. But, I had pretty low expectations: I figured it would be rushed visits to a million super touristy spots, bad food, bad hotel, bad weather… the whole deal. But everything was wonderful! Here’s a brief summary of the events of the past two days, photos to follow!

SATURDAY

7:00 AM Leave my house, yikes. Get on a bus bound for Normandy with a lot of other sleepy students.

11:30/12 Wake up in Bayeux, home of the famous Tapestry depicting the Normands conquering England. I listened to the French audio guide (go me!) and understood it all! My 9th grade world history teacher would be so proud of me for remembering and seeing it in person! Before we saw the tapestry, we ate lunch in small groups where we pleased. I had a crepe with lots of cheese MMM.

2 pm Leave for the American Cemetery and beaches. This was really moving– something anyone who ever has the chance to see it should go for. The lawns were so pristine, the graves so ordered and systematic; the entire place was so peaceful and serene. There were also a lot of American tour groups there. Add to that the fact that the cemetery is technically American soil that was given to our country by the French after the war, it pretty much felt like I was in 8th grade again on my class field trip to Washington DC. Except way better. We went down to the beach and in the beautiful sun all of us were so happy, just beaming to be in such a lovely place.

3:30 pm Head to the Point du Hoc memorial– similar and close by, but a very different landscape. The ground all nearby this memorial has remained untouched since the war, so it is covered in hundreds of craters from bombs going off and damaging the earth. The memorial was to honor American soldiers that had somehow scaled a nearly vertical cliff face in their ascent to aid the French. Wild.

7:30 pm Arrive at our hotel– a Best western, I might add, in a little town near Mont St Michel. We dropped our bags in our cute rooms and headed downstairs for a yummy dinner in a beautifully decorated dining room. After dinner, we walked around town a little bit, but the only thing we found by 9:30 was a kebab joint that swore they were closed. Well, too bad– we all went to bed around 10:30. Sorry I’m not sorry, I was tired.

SUNDAY

8:30 am Breakydoo! A gigantic beautiful spread of French continental breakfast. Breads, yogurts, cheeses, meats, coffees, teas, hot chocolates– goodness I was in heaven. It was nice and leisurely too! We ended up leaving the hotel around 9:30 to head to Mont St Michel, which we climbed and toured until 12 when we departed for the next stop.

1:30 pm Arrive in Saint Malo, a darling little coastal town that you would think, by the palm trees and seaside shops, that it was in the south of France. Delicious burger (sorry I’m not sorry) with friends in an open air cafe, exploring the regional specialties in all of the souvenir shops, getting ice cream and walking along the seaside ramparts taking in the view— what a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

4:40 pm Get on a TGV fast train at the Saint Malo gare bound for Paris. Sleep, take in the scenery, think about all the things that had been seen in the past two days… And arrive in Paris at 8 pm!

…I promise the pictures will come soon, but don’t you totally understand now why I’m so wiped?

ps. I have my first exam Tuesday. AHHHH!

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Ronjstock, how I love thee

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of short term, one spent in the sun with free food, live music, and fun activities: Ronjstock. This annual outdoor event is put on my the Ronj, a student-run coffee house on campus. While the weather seemed a little sketchy for a while, it held for the entire day and students were able to mingle on the ronj’s lawn all afternoon enjoying the day.

Last year, this event was combined with another event as the Block party. Read my post about it here. Again, I have to admit, my favorite performer was Computer at Sea. He came back again this year! How sick is that! And, since I knew what to expect this year, I was not skeptical at all when he began creating music out of the craziest set up. When I say crazy, I mean really wild. Proof:


Photo by Brad Gee, May 15 2010.

I even got to chat with him afterwards! It was kind of a bummer because only about 8 or so people were brave enough to get dancing during his set. (Which, of course, means the other like hundred there at the time were staring at us like we were crazy…guess what? it was worth it).

Anyways, it was a lovely way to spend a short term Saturday. And my Sunday? Well, I have a sunburn and sand stuck in everything, so i obviously took advantage of Range Pond today! Finally. I’m so glad the weather is beginning to warm up, I’ve been waiting for it to do so for weeks!

Spring Break Refreshed

That’s precisely how I feel right now. I’m totally and utterly calm and content and refreshed, eagerly awaiting driving back to school on Sunday to meet the best part of the Bates academic year: SHORT TERM.

After four wonderful days spent in Puerto Rico snorkeling, swimming, and sitting in the sun, I’m a little sunburned and missing Bates for sure. I was staying on the Southwest Coast in a little town called Guanica, but despite the beautiful weather, bright blue oceans and numerous palm trees (seemingly a paradise) I was craving Range Pond, Popham Beach, the Puddle and all my other favorite places to spend short term.

I’m taking “politics in theater” which, actually, is an English class! There’s only 6 students or so enrolled, so I’m really excited for a great discussion-based, intimate classroom environment. It meets three days a week from 10am-12pm, so I’ll have lots of time to do other fun things! I keep thinking about how wonderful everything was last year; I hope this year is just the same! (or better, even).

Good luck on all final admissions decisions, potential Batesies! And keep an eye out for my dispatches from SHORT TERM 2010.

Tyler Fish ’96 and the Journey to the North Pole

Saturday, January 30, I ate an early dinner and ran over to Chase Hall lounge where Tyler Fish, class of ’96, was giving a talk about his amazing journey: the first unsupported, unassisted American expedition to the North Pole. WOAH!

This year is the Bates Outing Club’s 90th anniversary, and Mr. Fish’s talk was our kickoff event in the year-long celebration that will bring current students together with BOC alums in trips and all other things B-O-C. The highly attended talk filled up fifteen minutes before it began, and despite moving in every chair we could get our hands in, people had to line the walls, sitting, leaning, doing anything to get a glimpse of Tyler talking in front of a projected slide show.

Okay, first thing’s first. That’s probably the coolest thing I’ve heard about in a while. And seeing the photos? And the videos? And hearing the first-hand commentary on all of them? FROM SOMEONE WHO WENT TO BATES AND WAS IN THE SAME CLUB THAT I WAS IN!?! Like I said, the coolest thing in a while.

Tyler’s talk was inspirational and really got to something that, because of the BOC, I totally understood. He talked about why he did it. Why he and his partner dragged 600 pounds of gear in two sleds each over unpredictable, icy territory for 55 days without showering and eating mostly bacon, butter, nuts and chocolate. At least what I got from him, is that it’s this feeling you get when you just get OUT THERE. The outdoors are such a gift, and through organizations like the Bates Outing Club, anyone can grab on and appreciate them!

The talk ran a little over an hour, and even President Hansen was there. I was so glad I went- but I was even more glad to be a part of the same club that Tyler had been in while he was at Bates. The BOC was what Tyler stuck with, throughout changing majors and friends, the BOC was always there for him. Clambakes, hiking trips, and forming relationships with other people who share the same passion for getting out there and having fun. What a great experience!

Check out Tyler’s website for more information and pictures! HERE!

Happy Foliage

Taken at the annual Leaf Jump

photo credit Kaitlin Weinman ’12, October 30 2009

thoughts at thorncrag

Very close to campus, maybe an eight or nine minute drive away, we are lucky enough to have Thorncrag bird sanctuary. Thorncrag is a 357 acre wildlife preserve, with tons of trails welcoming to walking, running, picnicing and all sorts of other lovely things.

As my class doesn’t meet on Fridays, looking for something to do, three of my friends and I drove over and walked some trails. You feel like you’re miles away from Lewiston and any urban-like center. I felt like I was back home, walking through the town forest on a warm (but blustery!) afternoon. We didn’t stick around for long (BUGS. BUGS. BUGS.) but it was such a nice, albiet short escape from campuscampuscampus.

I’m still so perplexed by how short term, with all this free time, is leaving me feeling like I’m going a million miles a minute. Regardless, I’m loving each of those fast paced minutes, and savoring them as much as I can. Bring on short term: week 2!

Spectacularly Spring

Happy April. It is undoubtedly spring at Bates (finally) and I’ve been able to spend time outside and the snow is all gone and this weekend the puddle (our proud and majestic lake andrews) the permafrost that had covered the the surface since… nearly december had finally completely melted. The ducks came back! Sure fire signs of good things to come.

While there’s been a few rainy days, I’m simply taking it as “April Showers” which, by folk lore and the rhymes engrained from my childhood obviously bring May flowers, and then… pilgrims? My third grade teacher loved adding that on. My only hope is that April showers will bring short term — it’s so close! This week is the last week of classes and then there’s finals and then spring break and ahh! I’m getting ahead of myself. I can’t even believe that this semester is actually almost over. I hardly believe that I’m actually in college at all, let alone nearing the end of my freshman year.

Lately, in the lazy hours where we “swear to GOD it’s at least 50 degrees out” we wear  sandals and lounge on blankets at the amphitheater, pretending that we’re not cold. Its all relative, anyways, right? Eventually, though, we do realize its too windy and give up, although this past week the hours have definitely added up. The amphitheater actually has plugs hidden in the rocks (when my friends are suprised by this I respond snidely with “did you even TOUR bates before you came here?!”). My brother happened to be on skype this past thursday while I was sitting on the rocks working on an essay. He’s abroad this semester studying in Italy and I hadn’t spoken to him in weeks– obviously I had to call him.

I can only imagine what a ridiculous sight it was for those walking by: girl in sandals even though it’s muddy and cold, lying down sprawled across the rocks peering at my computer screen, wearing headphones and goofy sunglasses and discussing the goings on in Tuscany. I mean, I would probably have walked the other way– fast– if I saw that.

In any case, it’s obvious spring is settling in. I’m so glad. March was rough- I truly resent that month for existing because all it does is act as an awkward buffer between seasons and I feel like that transitionary attitude permeated every aspect of my life all month long. But we’re moving on. Welcoming the spring.