All entries for August 2017

August 12, 2017

Term 3 / Year 1 Round UP: part 2

Soon after, I felt daring enough to try a solo trip after two group trips and I booked tickets for Spain. From the onset, I was extra cautious and planned out every single detail of my trip so as to ensure I would not waste any time. I made it a point to visit every place that Barcelona was famous for, the highlight of which was the Basilica la Sagrada Familia. Designed by Gaudí, it was truly breathtaking even though unfinished, and left me thinking. Firstly, about the fact that my money was well-spent, and also that it was a very peaceful place and truly embodied the atmosphere that I would expect in a church (although it was made accessible to tourists).

Basilica la sagrada familia
This picture barely depicts the beauty of the Basilica la Sagrada Familia in real life.
Spanish flag
View of the highly dense city that is Barcelona, atop Montjuïc Castle, with the Spanish colours flying high in the foreground. Probably my favourite picture.

Thereafter, aching to do something absolutely adventurous, I took a 3 hour bus ride up to Andorra, a country located in the Pyrhenees mountains, and sandwiched by Spain and France. I expected much from Andorra and it absolutely did not disappoint. From the start to end, I was constantly greeted with smiles and natural greenery. My main purpose in heading there was to scale Pic de Coma Pedrosa, the highest mountain in Andorra, standing at a height of 2943m. I was not confident at all, but my Airbnb host, Gabriel, was extremely friendly and offered to accompany me on my hike up.

Gabriel and me!!
Gabriel, your friendly neighbourhood Airbnb host. He even prepared sandwiches for us to snack on, without asking! Such hospitality is common in Andorra.

While I would love to say that I managed to reach the top of the mountain, the sad truth is that we were a bit slow and had to head down before the sun set and we lost visibility. But we didn’t turn around before reaching the Refugee Hut, an intermediate resting area built and catered for hikers who were caught in inclement weather. It was well-stocked with water and food, displaying the welfare that the citizens in Andorra display for each other.

Refuge de Coma Pedrosa
2260m doesn’t sound so bad, doesn’t it? This was at the Refugee Hut.

Overall, I must say that my trip to Barcelona and Andorra was an ideal first solo trip experience! Really enjoyed it and might visit again if possible.

Back in Warwick, I pulled together a couple of flatmates with a common interest in watching musicals – we then made plans to watch a full day of musicals in London! This was a lot more exhilarating than expected. ‘Wicked’ at the Apollo Theatre in the afternoon, a short break and then ‘Mamma Mia’ at the Novello Theatre in the evening – truly a treat for our eyes and ears. The idea of taking a fascinating childhood tale and one of my favourite artistes, and putting them them into a musical, and then watching them both was absolutely amazing.

Wicked:Mama Mia @ London
Selfie outside the Apollo Theatre!

We enjoyed the experience so much that we would have stayed another day and watched another two, if only our wallets allowed. Even on the train back to Coventry, we were already making plans for another musical day-out! Hopefully that happens soon.

However, good things must always come to an end, and the first year was over in a blink of an eye. Looking back, I am proud to say that I have definitely made the most of my first year at Warwick. I was able to meet new people, travel to places I’ve only dreamt of, learn so many new things about myself and those around me, all while studying abroad! Suffice it to say, not many people can say that they have had this experience, and for this I am truly grateful. Summer will be over soon, and by then I will be recharged and ready to take on Year 2!

Term 3/ Year 1 Round–Up: Part 1

The spring holidays and the whole of Term 3 disappeared in the blink of an eye. Although most of my time was spent studying, I managed to take a break and go on a couple of short trips to surrounding countries.

During the spring break, I visited Bulgaria and Greece with a couple of friends, and it was a great experience travelling with new friends! This was especially fun because it was actually two separate groups (My future housemates, and my AIESEC buddies) to whom I was the only mutual friend. and it felt wonderful letting my friends know each other.

group pic bulgaria
The 7 of us who went on the trip to Bulgaria (Sofia) and Greece (Athens, Santorini)! Great memories.

This trip was memorable as I have always wanted to travel to the nearby European countries since reaching UK, but was not courageous enough to do it on my own. Going with a group of friends was a fantastic idea because we helped each other through the whole experience and we all enjoy each other’s company.

Housemates sofia
With housemates atop the Vitosha Mountains in Sofia, Bulgaria
AIESEC pic santorini
With AIESEC buddies in Santorini, Greece

The best part about travelling with this group was that I learnt a lot more about them in the one week we were together than in the couple of months that we had interacted throughout first year. Through the planning phase, times of stress during the trip itself, I felt like I was able to understand them better.

Thinking in Athens
Deep in thought. Not sure what I was thinking about. Athens, Greece

After the spring break, Term 3 began: it soon morphed into exam season, in which the main problem on my mind was not to wonder which restaurant to eat at, but instead it became finding a suitable study spot which was not overcrowded with other students eager to get some revision in. It was an intense 5 weeks in which I really took stock of what I had learnt. While it was gruelling to condense so much revision into a short period of time, I felt like it was possible to pull through because I had great coursemates who were willing to share and teach what they knew (and vice versa, of course).

Summertime sadness
Although it was a tough period, I was greeted by beautiful cotton candy skies like this once in a while from the convenience of my room

This breathed new meaning to the phrase ‘getting through it together’, and it also made me realize the importance of having different groups of friends with different strengths and weakness, so as to leverage on them.

As soon as the exams ended, the travel bug bit me once again and I couldn’t wait to make plans again. So I grabbed a couple of friends from Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Indonesia and we planned a short getaway to Scotland.

Group Pic Edinburgh
This was us at the top of Arthur’s Peak in Edinburgh, Scotland. Some of us found the hike harder than others, so it was quite some time till all of us were up here for the picture.

With exam stress taken off our minds, we were truly able to enjoy ourselves, going on tours of the Royal Edinburgh Museum, Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Whisky preparation process, and even The Elephant House, where J.K. Rowling was said to have visited multiple times to get inspiration for the Harry Potter series.

Arthur's peak
Amazing view of Edinburgh atop Arthur’s Peak.
Streetside bagpipes busker. He put up a great show, and not only because I love the regal sound of the bagpipes.

For all its quirks, I absolutely loved Edinburgh and would definitely visit again someday.

On the way back to Warwick, we stopped over at Liverpool to visit the Beatles’ Museum as well as take a boat ride from Albert Dock. While I wasn’t exactly the biggest Beatles fan, my friends enjoyed the experience thoroughly and it was great fun to see them so excited about something and to try and feel their joy. While Liverpool was a quiet little town with a very windy situation, there was a peaceful atmosphere about it and I truly appreciated that!


Boat ride around Albert Dock, Liverpool.

Continued in Part 2...

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