The skies of Tynemouth

Yesterday, my Jamaican housemate said to me:

“If I asked you how your stay in England was, what would you say?”.

This one sentence made me rethink what I have done so far. What I told him was that I traveled way too little, but I was happy with the things I did.

So this is one of my biggest adventures here in England, my tiny trip to Tynemouth, a place where the sea meets the riverbed of Tyne.

The fastest and cheapest way to get there is to take a metro. So,accompanied by my loyal friends – my camera and my favorite book, Jack London’s “Martin Eden”, I began my day trip on the 17th April. I had delayed this trip a couple of times before due to rain and cold and was very uncertain about going there that particular day, but, having checked 5 different weather forecasts, I was quite convinced (as much as I could be, taking into account the charisma of the British weather) the sun would come out in the afternoon. I took a metro towards the coast and got lost in the world of Martin Eden for around half an hour, when the metro stopped at an all-white, straight-out-of-the-movie Tynemouth station.

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After snapping some pictures (by the way, it was my first trip after I bought a cpl lens filter for my camera, which increases the color contrast between water and sky) so I was really excited to try that out), I started to walk towards the sea. The coastline didn’t have much to see, but what it had was truly amazing – the castle is located on a cliff right on the coast. Having grown up visiting the sandy beaches on the Baltic seacoast, I have never seen such high cliffs. However, the sky was grey all the time and soon it started raining, so I went to this restaurant I have been recommended by at least 6 people for its famous fish&chips.

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Marshall’s is known as one of the best fish&chips places in the region, so I had to try that. The unusual thing was that they served it with a lemon half, so I could squeeze some juice on the dish, giving the taste of the fish a pleasurable trace of sourness. To sum up, the crust was a little too fatty for my personal taste, but I really liked the non-artificial taste of chips and the fish (cod) itself.

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To my great joy, while I was eating, the dark clouds  backed away and the sun really did come out, so it was my chance to get crazy with the camera and walk around some more. These pictures will give you quite a good picture of what I saw 🙂

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Up on the castle hill

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King Edward’s Bay

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The Castle

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The sea gate

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The castle cliff

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I smell the 80s

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This scene reminded me of a movie

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Afternoon skies in Tynemouth

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Snack break by the sea

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Green house

.After a 3-hour walk along the coast, I got back to the metro station and took a metro towards Newcastle. It wasn’t a big and fancy trip, but this brightened my day and became one of my brightest exchange memories so far 🙂

Paintball drama

I have been in Newcastle for three months now, but I could not say I have done or seen too much during that time. One of the most surprising things for me here was the fact that our spring break lasts one whole month, and I am on it now. I have been resting from everything for the first two weeks and here I am, constantly seeking for nice places to visit around Newcastle, but I’ll talk more about it on my next post.

When I arrived at Newcastle, I soon discovered that there are over 60 student societies in Newcastle University, and I wanted to find myself there. I tried the art society’s tie-dye workshop and was looking for something else to do when I found a Lithuanian society. Following me roots, I contacted them and immediately signed up for..paintball.

The more ‘firsts’, the longer the memories remain. So, on 30th March I found myself in a misty forest, hiding behind a barrel with paint splattered all over the glass of my protective mask, covered in mud and barely able to see yet aiming a  gun at my target. It had been reining for four days before we went there, so the conditions on the field were extreme. We often fell due to very muddy and slippery ground but the adrenaline spiked to high we could not care less about that. Looking back, despite all the bruises and blue paint in my hair, it was one of the most extreme adventures I went through in my life.

To the uni and back…in pictures

Exactly the same

Exactly the same

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Human - drawn lines

Human – drawn lines

Morning dusk

Morning dusk

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Downhill

Downhill

St. James Park Stadium - shows just how loyal to football the English are

St. James Park – shows just how loyal to football the English are

So, quite recently I managed to wake up before my alarm clock went off. I had a 9 p.m. lecture and set off around 20 minutes earlier than I was supposed to, so, instead of wasting my time doing nothing useful, I took my camera with me and took pictures on my way to the uni and back. What you see above is what came out of it.

Enjoy!

P.S. When I was taking the third picture, two people came up to me, showed me their police badges and strongly advised me not to carry my camera in my hands as much as possible because of how criminal the area is. They were actually undercover ! And how nice of them 🙂

Tie-dye!

I’ve always been fond of tie-dye. All these colors and patterns you could never make purposely, the spontaneous coincidences of the paint settling in one spot of fabric rather than the other, for reasons you could never tell. However, I have never had a chance to wear tie-dye, or do something way more exciting – make it myself. So, as you could guess, I finally did it. Accompanied by my English Studies’ classmate, who is also here for one semester, I went to this tie-dye workshop, organised by the arts society of our university. The  cafe accommodating the event got crowded in no time, and the atmosphere was welcoming with everyone splashing colorful paint on white t-shirts, rolled in tiny balls and restrained with rubber bands. I had so much fun! And, of course, now I am all happy and excited, seeing (and using) what came out of this colorful and ‘splashy’ experience.

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British weather’s got style

It was only two days ago that I talked to my housemates about the weather in Newcastle and found out that this winter was so far..snowless. The weather’s got a lot warmer recently, so for the past two days I have been walking with my jacket open, feeling the actual warmth of the sun on my skin. Yesterday was no exception. But when I left the uni after my lectures were over, it was pretty cold, so I was just thinking if I should take the bus. But then I didn’t. Wearing my best match (converse + mittens + wool scarf), I was walking home when it suddenly started to rain. But then it didn’t feel exactly like rain. It took me some time, but pretty soon no questions were needed anymore – it was snowing like crazy! To my surprise, people did not care at all, even those wearing pullovers or worse – t-shirts (British style). The snow was really wet and fell in lumps, so it was sleeting rather than snowing. Even though the adults really didn’t care, on my way home I saw so many houses with doors open and moms standing inside, watching their children play in the snow, as happy as they get.

But now..it’s all back to normal. It’s raining again 🙁

So, even though weather-related posts are not among the most entertaining ones, I must confess: I become the happiest I can be when it’s snowing, so I couldn’t resist sharing this 🙂

Celebrating studentship: bright lights & loud nights

Newcastle, being similar in population to Malmo, is the home of two universities: Northumbria University and Newcastle University. It’s been almost three weeks since I came here, and I’ve been asking people what was so special about Newcastle in the context of all British cities. Surprisingly (but only when I heard about it for the first time), everyone mentioned the nightlife. People were talking about “girls with almost non-existent skirts”, masses of students occupying the city center, cheap drinks and all this fuss, starting on Friday night and ending on early Monday morning. So, exactly one week ago, I went out to see whether it was true, and to discover it (however it was) myself.

Newcastle University’s Student Union looks like an old red-brick building, but the life inside it could not be better-fitted for what it’s there for. Not only it is the home for over 60 student societies and shops (everything from food, press, clothes to Starbucks and Subway), but also has a student pub and a very modern, big, and recently refurbished bar/nightclub in the basement, which is well-known for its Saturday events.

After visiting that place, the first thing that surprised me was the cultural difference (compared to Sweden) in when the parties start and end. The event only started at 11pm and went on until 3am. Moreover, the theme was also something I have never heard of before (well, I have, but not for parties!) – Stock Market. So, the more popular the drink was, the more expensive it got, and every 20 minutes the market ‘crashed’ and everything started from the beginning, which meant that you never really knew how much you would pay for your drink. Unfair in a way, but how catchy! The club got crowded in only half an hour from the beginning of the event, and everyone seemed to be having a lot of fun, good music playing really loud and the floor getting very sticky from the alcohol. The clothing varied from casual to theme outfits in bigger or smaller groups, the “non-existent skirts” and very fashionable styles we are all used to seeing in fashion journals. Finally, the students seemed to be enjoying themselves and engaging in conversations with us more easily than I have ever imagined people could.

So, long story short, even though Newcastle is always crowded with students who are having a good time, it seems like the city has so much more to give and show when the sun goes down!

Cheers!

New beginnings: moving to England

Before coming to Newcastle, I knew nothing neither about the city nor about the country (I have never been to England before). It was also a choice of the university, not the country. I haven’t thought about the left-sided traffic, and I didn’t even consider the charming British accent I have never been too fond of anyway. But then it actually came to arriving at Newcastle upon Tyne. My idea was to take courses related to journalism, which I recently became passionate about, in order to gain more knowledge in this field than studying English Studies in Malmo University could provide me with.

This blog is not a fresh experience, as I have been writing one for some time (and still am). However this one will contain posts concerning my life in Newcastle: my new experiences, insights into the British culture, as well as the local Geordie culture, student life, events and anything else I will get excited about. I am hoping to write 1-2 posts weekly so that this blog accurately reflects my new experiences and adventures in the area. Suggestions for new posts are always welcome, so feel free to do that as well, if there’s something in particular that you want to know.

As they say here in Newcastle, cheers!

p.s. Even though I love taking pictures, my camera broke just before I came here, so all pictures in my posts will be from the internet. However, I am hoping to get a camera soon, so hopefully they will start to appear in my posts soon.

Five days to go!

newcastleuponI can’t believe these are my last five days in Newcastle. It all went incredibly fast and I feel like I wanted to blog more; I should have blogged more. I have so many things to say, so many blog posts drafts started and never finished, so many ideas on what to write. Without wanting to sound cliché, time was, and is, not on my side. My staying here was never boring and I was always occupied with doing something, that being either studying, seeing places, talking with my family and friends, hanging out with my housemate, etc.

My exchange here exceeded all my expectations. I will continue to blog about this until I won’t have anything to say. I will go back to all my drafts and write about the places I loved visiting, people I’ve met, things I’ve learned (because I’ve learned a lot especially about myself). I feel like I’ve grown to be more responsible, more tidy, and definitely more confident. Living in a foreign country where you start with no friends and no idea where the train metro is, brings out the best and worst in you. And then you have to choose between being afraid of going out of the house or just go out, ask questions, get responses, make friends, and get going. There is no choice, really. You have to do these things. Personal growth will not give you academic credits but looking at things in the long run, it’s the main thing one can gain from an exchange semester.

Right now I am wrapping up my affairs here. I have one essay to finish and hand in, and one sit-in exam and then it’s all done. Then packing, crying, saying my goodbyes. Then taking my plane to Sweden, doing more crying, this time out of joy (because as great as this was I do miss my home, boyfriend, friends, etc.). I can’t believe Monday I will meet my three best friends who I’ve missed like I’ve lost my limbs. All I’m thinking is if they will find me changed, if they will understand how much this meant for me, if they will still like me. I wonder if this is a common thing that runs through every exchange student’s head before they go back home.

My plan for my blog is simple: keep on writing. I want to write about the things that have been great and not so great. I would love it if prospective exchange students would read my blog and find interesting information. I want to write about the things I would have done differently and about the things that I’ve done well. The do’s and don’ts. I’ll try and write relevant advises for anyone considering applying for an exchange semester.

I don’t think I will have time to write anything until Friday when I will officially be done with my exams. So I guess this is goodbye, England. You’ve been magnificent. Goodbye Newcastle University. You’ve been one of the most inspirational places I’ve ever stepped in. Goodbye exchange semester. You’ve been one of my best (if not the best) decisions in my student life.  And Sweden: Vi ses snart!