Friday, October 18, 2013

Small Choices

In the Church, we often talk about "small and simple thing" can cause miraculous things to happen in our lives. I have thought a lot about the past two years in my life. Since coming back from Thailand, life is quite a bit different than I expected. This statement is not intended to be a negative reflection; it is a real reflection of how life works out. There have been some positive outcomes and some negative outcomes. In the end, however, a series of positive choices have led me to a specific point in my life where I can look back now and see how little choices in my life have influenced positive outcomes in a tremendous way. Let's talk about the pattern that I've seen.

1. Winter Semester 2012, I began work at the English Language Center at the UPC building on BYU campus. I had never heard of the ELC before. I was pretty fresh back from my mission when I was interviewed for the job. I thought it would be a good enviornment I remember that I was sure that I was going to minor in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, but my major was undecided. I felt drawn to American Studies, but for some reason it didn't feel right. During my time at the ELC, I met many faculty members that are involved in the TESOL program here at BYU, including Dr. Evans and Dr. Anderson.

2. After taking ELANG 223 and spending some time at the ELC, I decided that I wanted to major in English Language and Linguistics. It felt like the right decision. A lot of people asked me why I didn't do linguistics. I think I'll get to that in the course of this post, but (in part) I feel that my preparation in English linguistics specifically has made me a more effective English teacher (in my personal opinion) than a linguistics major would have. The in-depth study of English linguistics provides a unique perspective for potential English teachers. Despite one of my roommates claiming that my major wasn't academically rigorous enough, I feel like I have been prepared to teach English to non-native speakers.

3. The ELC has opened many opportunities that I hadn't anticipated. The TESOL minor requires an internship of 150 hours. I decided to do this internship at the ELC. Last winter semester, they allowed me to use some of my secretarial duties for the ELC internship. I started by teaching the Foundations Prep Vocabulary class two days a week and also doing various other projects. I also met Dr. Anderson and started to work with him on an Honors thesis about Self-Regulated Vocabulary learning. I intend to graduate with Honors in April! I have also been interning this last semester, teaching vocabulary for the foundations prep class again! At the ELC, I have had countless tutoring opportunities and teaching opportunities. Also, due to my interaction with Dr. Anderson, I was invited to take a graduate-level TESOL class this semester. This class is taught by one of my favorite professors, Dr. Gardner. This decisions are helping me prepare for grad school. As of right now, I am hesitant to make certain statements, but I feel directed to stay at BYU, even though it can be quite trying at times. 

4. My brother who graduated from BYU regretted not being able to go abroad while he was at BYU. Most of the other siblings in my family did not have a chance to do so. Even though I had served in Thailand, I felt like I should go abroad. In my ELANG 223 class, I had heard about the English Language in the UK study abroad program. It piqued my interest then, but the timing didn't feel right. I decided to wait and bide my time. I decided to go this past summer. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Dr. Evans was one of the faculty adviser who would be leading the study abroad! I had talked to another professor about doing this study abroad, and she suggested that I plan my courses so I could take two required courses while abroad. She also suggested that I ask about being the teacher assistant. When I was interviewed by Dr. Evans and Dr. Elzinga, I asked about being the teaching assistant. Dr. Elzinga indicated that he had not planned on having a teaching assistant for the study abroad. I was disappointed, but determined to still go abroad. One day, while working at the ELC, however, Dr. Evans called me into his office. He told me that they had decided to pick me as the teaching assistant. They needed some help with the planning and the execution of the study abroad. This was a paid position. It didn't pay for the entire study abroad, but it did help with some costs and gave me extremely valuable experience. I did things that I never thought I would have to do. I became a navigator, tour guide, and teacher. I learned how to deal with stressful situations and how to be more flexible.
The Matthew and I!

5. On the study abroad, I had some pretty amazing experiences. I think one of the most impressive experiences, however, was the cultivation of a friendship with the only other guy on the study abroad with me. Matthew and I knew of each other before the study abroad. We were in the same major. We had a class together the winter before the study abroad (phonetics), and we had the prep class together as well. We didn't really talk though. When we were in the UK, though, things began to change. We started to talk. I really opened up to Matthew about some of the issues in my life. Matthew is a compassionate, understanding, insightful man. We would spend hours talking at night in London when we lived in our own private flat. We talked about everything under the sun. It is very rare for me to find someone that I connect with so well. The girls in the group would make fun of our bromance! They were all just jealous of us! We spent all of our time together and we had some really memorable experiences together. I remember the night before we left Scotland, we realized how much we were going to miss each other. When I went to Spain, we actually ended up talking almost daily through Facebook messages. It reminded me how close we had become.

We came back from the study abroad, and we grew even closer. He helped me get out of a bad housing situation, and I ended up moving into his ward. This was a wise choice on my part. The new place I am living in is wonderful in so many ways (despite a few challenges) and it's been so amazing to have one of my very best friend steps away. We are already talking about how we want to be roommates together in Provo this next year. Matthew has restored my faith in humanity in many ways. He is an amazing listener. He doesn't judge me for who I am. Matthew has a capacity to see people the way God sees them. I really admire that about him. We are extremely open with one another. It's been great to be able to have a friend like him. It feels like the answer to years of prayer! I am grateful for him and his wonderful influence!

And thus we see, little choices lead to bigger outcomes. Pretty incredible to think about!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mental Illness and the Church

About a year ago, I read about George Albert Smith's battle with mental illness.  I mentioned this in an earlier post.  Bedridden for nearly three years, George Albert Smith struggled with bouts of depression coupled with serious physical maladies. The Church made no mention of this in its curriculum this last year in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church. In fact, the Church doesn't have much dialogue when it comes to mental illness.

This past Saturday, however, things started to change. Elder Holland got up to give his talk this conference. He usually tackles difficult issues. What came next, however, was something that I hadn't expected:

"Let me leave the extraordinary illnesses I have mentioned to concentrate on MDD—“major depressive disorder”—or, more commonly, 'depression.' When I speak of this, I am not speaking of bad hair days, tax deadlines, or other discouraging moments we all have. Everyone is going to be anxious or downhearted on occasion. The Book of Mormon says Ammon and his brethren were depressed at a very difficult time, and so can the rest of us be. But today I am speaking of something more serious, of an affliction so severe that it significantly restricts a person’s ability to function fully, a crater in the mind so deep that no one can responsibly suggest it would surely go away if those victims would just square their shoulders and think more positively—though I am a vigorous advocate of square shoulders and positive thinking!"

Elder Holland continued to discuss the problem of mental illness. I have heard so many times within the Church that "wickedness never was happiness." Many members, however, despite years of trying to "square their shoulders," cannot and will not overcome MDD. They aren't wicked. They are doing their home and visiting teaching, reading their scriptures, attending the temple, serving in their callings, and praying with all their might. But no matter what they try to do, the depression won't go away. Often in Church culture members judge others for their depression. Maybe if these members prayed harder or tried to attend the temple more often, then their depression would go away. But it doesn't. It never will by simply doing the religious activities that bring peace to other people's bad hair days. 

I have struggled with these issues for years. These issues don't go away with more prayer. They don't go away with more fasting. Going to the temple more often will also not relieve the pains of depression. . I find comfort in the teachings of the Book of Mormon.
"And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people." 

 Like most issues in our mortal sojourn, however, I may struggle with this for the remainder of my mortal life despite having the power of the atonement available.  But Elder Holland's talk gives me hope that we can have a more positive dialogue about mental illness in the Church. There shouldn't be any shame. We have to face these issues together. I want others to know that it's okay to admit that you struggle. It's okay to admit that life is difficult.

As Mormons, we have a community of believers. The point of having a community is to have that support and power that only community can bring. Let us reach out to help others. Let us not be afraid to reveal our weaknesses and struggles in this life. Only when we are open and honest can the healing begin. I have seen that in my life. While I still struggle on some days more than others, I know that there are people who do understand and will not judge. And most of all, we have a Savior who never judges, one who understands our situation perfectly.

And that's the best news of all.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Avoiding Mishaps

I haven't blogged in a while. After getting back from Europe (and while I was in Europe), things got so crazy! We finished off our wonderful time in London and headed to York and then finished the time of our trip in Scotland. I loved all of these places, despite some unfortunate memories from some of them (namely the incident involving Aberdeen and Inverness). Let's review the study abroad as a whole and some of the best things I learned on it and some of the things that I enjoyed.

1. I learned that I'm actually pretty good at doing logistical things for groups. I was pretty much in charge of everything logistical about the trip. I tried my hardest to make it a good experience for the students. There were a few hiccups in the road, but overall, I think I did really well.

2. I loved hearing the different dialects and learning more about the linguistic aspect of the UK. It was really interesting to see how much variation can exist in such small geographic space.

3. I loved seeing all kinds of sacred space. I didn't ever really get over "Cathedral-ed" as some people tended to do. I love seeing the sacred space, and I also love experiencing sacred activities in sacred space (Evensong). I think that these experiences prepared me to return home and reignite my desire to be closer to God again. I felt like for the past year I had gotten a bit "stagnant" in my spiritual progression. After visiting Europe, I think part of my desire to be closer to God again came from seeing all kinds of sacred space.

4. I met some amazing people. I was so grateful to have met some great girls who are so fun to be around! Matthew, the only other guy in the study abroad, and I got very close. He is a great guy and it is such a blessing and privilege to have met him. I didn't anticipate to go on the study abroad and to meet some of my closest friends!
Some of the best people I know! 

These two are also some of the best people I know! They just couldn't make it to the temple on the day we went!

5. I learned that decisions that we make can have a huge impact on our lives. I'll get to this one in a minute.

Spain was also incredible. People weren't as friendly as I had hoped, but we saw some amazing sites. I loved the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world! The inside is like a forest. No paintings, only light and natural shapes! There's too much to talk about in one blog post. But enjoy this picture.

I think another thing that I really learned is that our decisions have impacts. Before the beginning of the semester I had intended to do Writing Fellows for ESL students. While I was in London (I believe?), they told me that they would no longer have ESL fellows. I considered doing the non-ESL fellows, but something about it felt wrong and I dropped the class and the program. And it felt relieving. I was disappointed, but I felt like I needed to not do it. Since then, I was invited to take a graduate-level TESOL class, and I have been assigned to teach the foundations prep vocabulary class. It feels right. I am glad that Our Heavenly Parents steered me in the right direction.

Furthermore,  since the beginning of the semester, things have felt off. I moved into my apartment and it felt wrong. I didn't feel like it was where I was supposed to be. I tried to get myself to feel like it was right, but it hasn't felt right the entire time. To make a long story short, I have decided to move, and things seem to be falling into place. I really hope that it continues to fall into place. I am really hoping for a good semester.

I am grateful for the love of our Heavenly Parents. I am grateful that They have a plan for me. God really does care so much! Here's to a semester of avoiding mishaps (or potential ones).

Sunday, July 14, 2013


So I fell a bit behind on my blog. Today I got home from Church and have been feeling a little sick all day. A combination of the heat of London and a cold, lack of water, and poor sleep finally caught up with me. All of that aside ,however, I love London! I do have to admit that I miss Wales, but I have been having a wonderful time so far. I will hit on some of the highlights that we have had while here in London.

We arrived on July 4th, a fitting entry for us Americans into the motherland. We had a bit of a rough time getting from Paddington to the tube station closest to our apartment. We got on the wrong line, then had to transfer at Earl's Court. We were misled on where to go, so some of us lugged our luggage up and down stairs unnecessarily. The station was packed. That was one of the first things I noticed about London: the number of people. After getting off at the right station (finally), we headed to our apartments. We got there and were greeted by Michael, the Irishman who manages the flats that we are staying in. They are pretty nice, despite the fact that they only have a washer/dryer combo. The flats are in a decent location. They are about ten minutes away from the nearest tube stop and about five minutes away from the nearest overground. After figuring some things out, we enjoyed a fourth of July party together as a group. The apartment was extremely hot that day. We were all dying from the heat.

The next day we all went together to the Tower of London. Our 50,000 best friends also decided to join us. The Tower of London was really quite interesting. It was fascinating to think how much the monarchy has invested into protecting its prized possessions. I saw the crown jewels, along with the places where many famous prisoners were held. It was also very hot that day. After that, we went on a delightful walking tour of Charles Dickens's London. Our tour guide, Richard III, inspired me to read more Dickens upon my return to the United States. I saw the places where Our Mutual Friend could have taken place. We also saw the places where Dickens worked and lived. It was simply delightful!

Saturday is a bit of a blur. I went to see a play with another girl on the study abroad. That was quite fun. We didn't anticipate seeing one, but they had great tickets at a great price. We bought the tickets at 2:00 and went to the 2:30 matinee while everyone else went to St. Paul's for evensong. After that, the girl who went with me and I walked along the Thames and the Millennium Mile. We saw Big Ben, the Houses of Parliment, the London Eye, a giant sidewalk fair, and St. Paul's. We also got our pictures by the Globe! I was so excited to think that I was standing in places where Shakespeare and his contemporaries would have stood.

Sunday proved to be a whole new adventure. We attended Church in the suburbs of London. It took probably three hours total to get there and back. The wards here are small, but diverse. I love seeing the traditional African dress, and the other nationalities that are represented here.

Monday we had our first day of class. We enjoyed class, but it was hard to be in class after traveling so much. We also went on a Jack the Ripper tour, which was quite fascinating. It is amazing to see the places in the East End that would have been haunted by Jack. The East End has been cleaned up considerably, but it is still not the same as the West End. There is a different feel to it. It's amazing to think how many people lived in poverty and in the slums here just a little over a hundred years ago. This day we also went to the Science Museum by the Hyde Park Chapel. It was cool to see everything they had to offer!

On Tuesday we traveled to Oxford. I loved seeing the Oxford University Press. The tour guide spoke the best RP I have heard here. There was no indication of any kind of accent that would place him anywhere in England. Seeing the press made me want to work there in their ESL department. We also saw the Eagle and the Child and the oldest museum in all of England, the Ashmolean Museum. It had some great art! One of the girls and I enjoyed it a lot. We were exhausted by the time we got back to the train to return to London.

The next two days are a bit of a blur. I know that we went see Once which I loved! I almost cried at the end. I now hope to return home to see the movie. We also have been seeing a lot of sites around London. I have loved seeing all of the beautiful churches and cathedrals. On Friday we went to Canterbury and Hastings. I saw the place where the Battle of 1066 took place, and I ate a meat pie while in that town. The battlefield itself was serene, almost ironically compared to what it would have been like back in the day. We went to Canterbury later that day. Our coach had arrived so early in the morning, as a side note, that Dr. Elzinga made us rush out the door. It was alright in the end though. In Canterbury, the other boy and I explored the town, I ate some phad Thai from a street vendor. They were both from the Isaan. It was delicious and tasted very similar to Thailand. We also saw the oldest Church site in all of England. It was a gorgeous little Church with a peaceful graveyard. After seeing these things, we returned to the hostel, the nicest one we have stayed at so far. Their breakfast the next day was incredible. Scones, crumpets, hot chocolate, Nutella, biscuits, etc.

Canterbury Cathedral was really touching to me. I have never been in a place that I have felt the Spirit of God so freely manifest. Well... Perhaps besides the temple. The entire place feels like God is present. From the beauty of the light to the sound of the practicing choir, the cathedral left me awed. I wrote a prayer to be prayed for upon the altar. I lit a candle for my departed uncle. I prayed. I took lots of pictures and I was amazed. Sometimes I wonder how our faith would be different if we had such beauty to worship in weekly.  After that, we explored a bit in town and then headed back to London.We did a few things. And then it was today. And now I sit here in a flat in London, hoping to recover so that tomorrow can be a big, bright new day.

Friday, July 5, 2013

July 4th in London

We got up early in Cardiff. I was still feeling quite ill, but we managed to leave the hostel around 9:00 a.m.. We hiked to the Queen's Street Station in Cardiff, our bags in tow. I thought how much I would miss Wales. The Welsh language, th beautiful countryside, and the endearing culture  all became a part of my heart. I hope to be able to return to Wales one day. Perhaps I could return to teach English! We transferred to train that went directly from Cardiff to London Paddington at Cardiff Central station. The train was posh and comfortable. Some people played cards on the way to London. When we arrived in London, we waited in a long line at the giant Paddington station in order to get our Oyster Cards figured out. We bought everyone an Oyster Card with unlimited travel for 35 pounds a week. It didn't seem like that bad of a deal to me. When we finally got on the tube, we started to head toward our flats. After a little confusion, we finally managed to get on the right train and going in the right direction. This, however, was after some people had lugged their luggage up a flight of stairs unnecessarily. After this little mishap, we walked from the Tube stop to our flats. The flat is nice. Somewhat bare, but it has just about everything I could need. We sat through a long orientation with a friendly Irish man named Michael. Several of us were dozing off. For some reason, London is incredibly hot these days. That first night we didn't do much. We did a little bit of shopping at the Co-Op and we explored a bit. The area we are staying in is fairly nice. We all split a pizza for dinner. It was nice to have a cheap meal that was somewhat filling. I am probably not eating enough lately. Food can be so expensive here! We also had a small fourth of July celebration with marshmallows, hot dogs, and games. It was quite fun, even if the flat that we had it in was incredibly hot.

Today we woke up and worked our way to the Tower of London. My 55,000 closest friends also decided to visit the Tower today. One word: crowded. The line to see the Crown's Jewels was at least an hour. I really enjoyed seeing all the exhibits on everything from torture to famous prisoners and ravens and everything in between. I also was shocked at the beauty of the Jewels. I can see why people would wait in such a long line to see them. The diamonds were huge, and the gold objects impressive. After our time at the Tower, we went on a walking tour of Dickens's London. We saw all kinds of interesting things including the hall where 12th Night was first performed! Our guide was knowledgeable about Dickens. We also learned about his life, and we saw some of the places that were pertinent to Dickens's life. Some highlights included the Old Curiosity Shop, Dickens's childhood workplace, Dickens's home/publishing location for a long period of time, and the places where some of his characters lived. The entire tour made me want to read more Dickens! The tour left us pretty exhausted, so we headed back to the flats. We had fish and chips from a tiny little shop. Then we headed home. I did some laundry. We tried to plan tomorrow, but the number of things to do is astronomical. We cannot plan when there are at least 100000000 things to do! I hope to be able to see Evensong tomorrow and walk the Millennial Mile. We'll see what adventures tomorrow brings!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Church History and other happenings in Wales

Yesterday morning I woke up with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. I wasn't sure what it was from. We woke up and had breakfast. After this, we went to several Church history sites that were quite interesting. First of all, we started off with a trek to Benbow Farm. In that small pond, several hundred members were baptized. I was impressed by the beauty of the scenery there. I couldn't help but wonder how those missionaries would have felt. We also visited Hereforshord Beacon, where they decided to print the Book of Mormon for the first time in Europe. After the steep hike to the Beacon, we visited the Gadsfield Elm Chapel, a beautiful chapel and the oldest extant LDS chapel in the world. We also made a detour to Tintern Abbey. It was incredible! I cannot begin to describe the beauty of this stone structure and the surrounding woods. I can understand why it inspired an incredibly famous poem. After that, we went to dinner at a potato bar that was also quite delicious. Chocolate and the beauty of Wales. Wandering around the mall! Sentence fragments because I have a cold.

I love Cardiff. We got up today and went to the Museum of Cardiff. They had Rembrandts, Monets, and Rodins! I loved that. After that, we went to the Welsh lecture at Cardiff University. Geoff and Gareth and the director of the center presented about the center's goals and purposes. It was a lovely presentation and I loved it. Dr. Evans would have also loved it. Welsh gives me a little bit of a headache. We had lunch at McDonald's after trying forever to figure out the buses to St. Fagan's. After lunch, we went to St. Fagans. It was a series of reconstructed buildings from all over Wales. I could have spent at least two more hours there. We also saw baby pigs! They were beyond adorable. We traveled home after seeing the entirety of that and we went to the train station (insert train station saga here- so complicated). I had roast and yorkshire pudding for dinner. Yum! And now we are going to bed. I must REST.

Monday, July 1, 2013


Today we woke up in Llandudno and prepared to leave for our trek to Cardiff. There is something enchanting about Wales. I love the beautiful shade of green here. I love the beaches. I love the look of the buildings. And I love the culture! Part of me wants to return to America and take Welsh rather than Vietnamese this coming fall. On our drive today, we saw some of the most beautiful scenes in the area around Snowden and Snowdonia. We stopped to take pictures near Snowden. There was a lake and rolling hills covered with greenery. I loved every minute of it! There are sheep everywhere here too. In fact, we saw a few baby lambs when we got out to take pictures. The roads here are also very narrow. After a few close calls, we finally made it to the town that Dr. Evans originally wanted to go. It wasn't really a tourist town, but it was the hometown of a BYU professor and famous poet, Leslie Norris. Merthyr Tydfil looks like a lot of it is struggling financially. Our bus driver was telling us that parts of Wales went from 100% employment with the coal mines to 10% employment when they closed down in the 1980s. I was thinking about the opportunity to teach English here to people coming from different countries. How fun would it be to return to Wales to teach English!

After visiting Merthyr Tydfil, we headed into Wales. We checked into our hostel, which is fairly nice, despite the fact that it is in a rundown area in Cardiff. After dropping our things off, we went in search of food. We went to a pizza/kebab place here in Cardiff. Cardiff is home to many Farsi people/ people from different areas of the world. I had a lamb kebab with pita. It was incredible! Trying to find ice cream for some people in the group, on the other hand, proved to be an adventure. We walked around for a long while only to find a grocery store that was about to close. Then we walked home, and I am about to get ready for bed. Tomorrow, we will be visiting a few places in Wales related to church history.

I love Wales!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

The Last Two Days

I have been a little derelict in my blogging. I was extremely tired yesterday after a long week, so I fell a bit behind. We started our day in Dublin early. Try 6:00 a..m. early. We got ready to go to Wales, eating breakfast at around 6:30. Frank, our coach driver, drove us to Dublin port. We saw the large ship the Ulysses in port. We pulled up to the port and took a few pictures with Frank. We all felt a twinge of sadness in leaving Ireland. We got checked in (I led the check-in, as always) and waited for our boat, the Swift, named after Jonathan Swift of Dublin (I got a picture next to his birthplace on our three hour walking tour of Dublin). We took the boat for about two hours. After getting off the boat, I felt like we were in a very beautiful place. I loved seeing the red dragon everywhere off the boat. All of the signs were in Welsh as well! We met our coach driver at the airport. His name is Tony and he is from London. After getting the coach loaded up, he reminded us of the safety rules. Safety rules? Ireland must be a little bit more relaxed about safety rules. We drove to the longest town name in Wales/ the world (my instincts tell me that the full name of Bangkok is longer). Llanfair (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch) is clearly a touristy place. It has a few things, but it mostly attracts tourists curious to see the sign of the city. I went to the Co-Op to get something to eat. I found some Welsh cakes. They were delicious! They reminded me of when the Welsh teacher at BYU, Susan Woods, came to visit us in class winter semester.We drove to see Conwy castle and explore the city of Conwy. The castle was nice. We got some good pictures, and we also got to see a little bit of the city. The Welsh countryside is green, but it is a different green than Ireland. There are sheep everywhere. I love the look of the houses. We then drove to our hostel in Llandudno, a beach town where Alice Liddell's family used to spend their summers. 

When we were driving into the city, we saw many statues of Alice in Wonderland. After getting settled in the hostel, a hostel owned by Lithuanians, we took a trip to Asda. I bought some food with Katie, Liz, and Matthew, so we could share food for the Sabbath. We bought the things we needed for sandwiches and salad. After that, we went home to rest. The hostel is homey, but crowded. There is barely enough space in our room to move, let alone be comfortable. I am getting eager to not be on the road. 

Today, we got ready for Church. Church was pretty good. The branch was in Colwyn Bay, a small town nearby Llandudno. Sacrament meeting was from the seminary program. The youth here seem very well-spoken. The Sunday School lesson was a bit harder for me. I dislike the story of the milk and cream with the Marshes. I do not feel that it is historically accurate. The Marshes left the Church over more complicated matters than that. Also, I do not like the "choose to be offended" rhetoric that is perpetuated in the Church. The lesson after that was a combined lesson on the missionary broadcast and on the British Legion. One woman used the phrase "I'm pants at knitting," meaning "I am horrible at knitting." After returning home, we ate and took a nap. Then a few of us went to the beach and an Alice in Wonderland park. It was a beautiful view. I feel very attached to Wales. I hope to be able to return someday. I would love to be able to come back and stay for longer than we are here. We also had a musical fireside where the Gardners invited some people from Spain and Pakistan to attend. Someone sang "The Streets of London." I loved hearing that in an LDS building. The men from Spain were very friendly. One of them was an architect from Sevilla who came here to learn English in order to find a better job. The Gardners also invited some of our neighbors in the hostel. They were from Pakistan, but had lived in the United States. The musical fireside ended and we headed home. We had some dinner and now I am getting ready to go to bed. Tomorrow, it is off to Snowdonia and Cardiff!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Last Day in Dublin

We woke up and had our typical breakfast of cereal and toast. After this typical European breakfast, we went to see the Book of Kells at Trinity College. I have always had a thing for illuminated manuscripts; the Book of Kells was beautiful! It dates back from 800 A.D. when it was written by Irish monks off the coast of Scotland on the Ireland on the island of Iona. The Trinity College library is also incredible. The architecture was borrowed in recent films such as Attack of the Clones and Harry Potter. I really enjoy books. After this adventure, some of us decided to take a walking tour that was free. Dublin is a large city. Like any city, it is easy to get lost in Dublin. We got lost before we finally found the tour. The three hour tour took us on a crash course in Irish history. From failed rebellions to musical genius, Dublin has a lot to offer. We saw the place where the failed Irish rebellion where the Irish could have taken over the seat of British power took place. We also saw statues to many famous Irish heroes. One of my favorite sites was Christ Church Cathedral, the place where Handel's Messiah was very first performed. We also saw the museum of Ireland. It had a lot of artifacts from various periods in Irish history, in addition to various artifacts from Egypt. After some more wandering, we got some lunch/dinner at a local pub. Most of us had Irish lamb stew. It was incredible! The meat was tender and juicy. 

Tomorrow we are heading out to Wales. Part of me wishes I could spend more time in Dublin. It is a diverse place. I have also seen how there is a lot of contrast here in Dublin. Ancient and modern. Irish and foreign. There seems to be a great culture war going on here over several issues (there must be an abortion bill that is being hotly debated- we see pro and anti-abortions signs everywhere.) There is a large amount of Polish people here, in addition to people from other countries and places. One interesting fact: the population of Ireland pre-famine in the mid 1800s was 8 million. The population today is only 6 million. 

Off to Wales we go!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Rock of Cashel

We woke up in Killarney. After a long day, I was ready for some good news today. After waking up, I decided to go figure out the baggage situation. I went downstairs to ask to use the phone, and I called the Shannon Airport. They knew it was me since I had called them twice now. After calling them and giving them the address to deliver the bags to in Dublin, we all had breakfast together. The breakfasts here are always toast with jam and cereal . Today they had apples, so I had one of those as well. After that, I called both Blarney Castle and Rock of Cashel to confirm our visits. We drove to Blarney. The line at Blarney was about an hour and half. We ran into a woman from England who had a long-time wish to kiss the stone. She didn’t get to kiss it since the line was too long. We were waiting in the line for about an hour and a half. We weren’t sure if we were going to be able to kiss the actual stone, so I kissed several stones in between. I was in line with a couple of people from my group. We were all very eager to get the gift of the gab. The castle itself had a lot of winding stairs and some interesting rooms. Everything in Ireland points to a past where people were midgets. It seems like every step, every bed, and every room is just smaller. I imagine that our level of nutrition has lead to increased height and weight. We had lunch at the Castle before heading out for Rock of Cashel.
                Rock of Cashel has been one of my favorite things that we have seen so far in Ireland. It was a beautiful church with some ribbed vaulting, beautiful windows, and a lovely view of the countryside. A few of us decided to walk down to the ruins of a Sisteritian Abbey from the 13th century. It is amazing to think how old everything here is. We got some great pictures. And made some new friends (namely a cow). 
                After Rock of Cashel, we began the long trek to Dublin. It was about a two hour ride. The first thing you will notice about Dublin is its size. It is a larger city than anyplace we have been. There are lots of businesses and hostels, pubs and grocery stores.  I arrived at Jacobs Inn to find that my bags had been delivered! I have been waiting for several days to be able to shave; I was starting to grow a beard. I finally shaved it off tonight after a dinner of beef stew at the local pub- it was delicious! It had Irish beef, potatoes, carrots, and peas. The woman at the bar was amused when we asked to get a picture of us with our glasses full of water rather than Guinness, the local beer of Ireland. She was teasing the other boy on the study abroad who asked her about one of items on the menu. After our dinner at the nearby pub, we went walking around. Dublin reminds me a lot of New York. Diverse, large, and very much city-like. As for now, I think it is time for me to hit the hay and prepare to see the Book of Kells tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Muckross House and

My luggage didn't appear to be coming, so I decided to call the airlines this morning. We still don't have a cell phone for the group since we aren't quite sure what to do. They anticipated that it would be on the flight today, so I told them to send it to Killarney. The breakfast we had was toast and cereal. I went to Tesco (gave me flashbacks of Thailand's Tesco Lotus ("Lotus" for short) and bought a bottle of water and a Crunchie. I couldn't resist the Crunchie! It's been years. It was just as nice as I remember it. Today we went around the Dingle Peninsula. The view was incredible! The rocks of Ireland are not to be missed. We stopped by a statue of Jesus on the cross to get some pictures. We got some great pictures.

We stopped for lunch in Dingle. Two words: tourist trap. I like fish and chips, but I felt like the prices were geared towards tourists, so I skipped the fish and chips and headed to the local market to make myself some sandwiches and eat that with some produce. It was much cheaper than anyplace out in Dingle.

 We also went to Muckross House today. Muckross House was a house that Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert stayed in during a brief trip to Ireland shortly before Albert's death. They informed the owners of the house that they would be visiting six years in advance. I cannot imagine if someone told me that  I was amazed. It was interesting to see how that small segment of the rich Irish society lived. We were there for a little bit before we went to Ross Castle. I didn't go in since they didn't have room for all of us, but we didn't miss anything. Everyone left Ross Castle fairly underwhelmed.

After all of this, we checked in to the hostel and had dinner at a local pub. Everything is going well. I have been trying to figure out my bags fiasco for about an hour and a half, but besides that, things are good. I will try to update when I can. As for now, I need to get some rest and get to bed.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

First Day in Ireland

I rarely blog, but I can't go several weeks without blogging about my adventures in the UK. After many hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Tralee for the night. Let's start at the beginning of our adventures.

When I got to the airport on Monday, they told me that my flight had been delayed by thirty minutes. Since my flight was delayed getting to JFK, I was nervous that I wasn't going to be able to get on the flight at JFK for Shannon because I only had an hour layover to begin with. Somehow, I knew that I wouldn't have my luggage when I first arrived in Ireland. After saying a few goodbyes to David and Mother, I headed through security. I saw lots of missionaries. Many of them were headed for Madagascar. I also, in an ironic twist of fate, saw a Thai monk. I was sure he was Thai because of the color of his robes and the bag that he was carrying, a bag common to Thailand monks. I waited for the plane and got on board. The man in front of me was a short, stocky man with a grey fedora. I knew it was going to be trouble when he started complaining to no one in particular that someone was messing with his scalp. He claimed that someone was burning all his hair off somehow. He kept asking what was wrong with people because they were clearly messing with his scalp. Insinuating that the girl from China sitting next to him was the culprit was particularly odd.
          The ride was incredibly bumpy. At one point, I nearly thought the plane was in trouble. The captain asked the flight attendants to sit down even though they were distributing drinks. We stayed seated for most of the flight. I got nervous before we were due to land since my flight was due to leave at 9:32 p.m. and we were supposed to land at 8:57 p.m., so I talked to the incredibly friendly flight attendant who was from either China or Korea. She got me a seat closer to the front and told people to give me priority. I was impressed with Delta’s response. After we deplaned, I literally ran to the gate and made it in time for boarding. My bags, however, could not run as quickly as I could. I knew they didn’t get on since I boarded at 9:15. I enjoyed sitting next to two lovely Irish women, a nun and a nurse. The nun had worked in Utah for five years teaching at a Catholic school close to Cottonwood High School. The nurse had an American husband and had worked in New Jersey for a while. The Filipino flight attendant also asked if I “attended the Mormon temple.” I told him that I was indeed a Mormon. Somehow he knew that Mormons had a temple in Ghana. Small world. The Irish nun also told me about how she was neighbors with a direct descendent of Brigham Young when she lived in Utah. Again, it’s quite a small world.
          We arrived in Ireland and figured some things out. We got some money and met the Gardners at the airport. We waited for several hours at the nearby hotel. Others arrived and then we got on the coach and headed to Bunratty Castle. One girl missed her connecting flight, so we later returned to get her after we had visited Bunratty. Bunratty was a large castle with enormous grounds. There were several groups of French and German tourists. We saw one woman in the grounds who was demonstrating the way to make butter. She washed the butter and proceeded to spank the butter. She told us it was just like spanking a child. Wait… That’s mean! Or is it? After that we went to get some dinner. I had some fish and chips from a local McDonald’s like place. And then we rode to Tralee. We checked in with me acting as the official bell boy.

Irish people are incredibly friendly! They love to talk to you and they are all so nice to strangers. I have been impressed with the beauty of the country and its people. Tomorrow, we should be going to Killarney. Here’s to hoping that I get my bags!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Burned Out

It's that point in the semester where I get burned out every year. The semester is almost over, but not close enough to being over that I can rest. I have a lot left to do, but it's getting closer and closer to the end.

I will have gone to school straight for two years when I finish in April of next year. I will be tired. Ready for a break. But it will be all worth it. One hopes...

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Semester Half Over

So as you can see, I haven't blogged in a long time. I rarely have time to do anything anymore and so my blogging fell by the wayside. This semester has been very intense for me. It makes last semester look a lot easier. Here's an overview of some things going on in my life.

1. Classes- I am taking 17.5 credit hours. It's a lot. I hadn't anticipated taking that many, but there have been some developments in my life. Here's my list of classes.
a. ELANG 273- Introduction to Research Methods in English Linguistics. Professor Turley is awesome and this class has been incredibly useful. It's a lot of work as far as projects and such, but it's all useful so I can put up with it.
b. LING 461- Assessment in TESOL. This class is also really great. Professor Strong-Krause really likes me for some reason. I like learning about how to create effective tests. It does make me very critical of all tests now though...
c. SPAN 441- Survey of Literature of Spain. Professor Stallings, despite his poor accent, is a good teacher and I enjoy learning about a wide variety of literature. Literature is like a window into culture.
d. LING 468- Discourse Analysis. I like the set up of the class a lot. Dr. Nuckolls can be kind of hard to read sometimes and can give unclear instructions, but I think I will be okay in the class.
e. ELANG 327- English Phonetics and Phonology. This class has been pretty good. I am a little scared of Dr. Elzinga, but not because he's not nice. Dr. Elzinga is really smart and is actually quite funny.
f. STAC 191- This is a weight lifting class. It's nice to learn how to lift weights.
g. IAS 201R- This class starts this week. It's my prep class for my study abroad! Dr. Evans and Dr. Elzinga have asked me to be the TA for the study abroad. I am quite eager.
h. LING 496R- I am doing my TESOL internship at the ELC. I taught Foundations Prep for the first half of the semester and have been working on projects and other things at the ELC to get a total of 100 hours of work. It's been quite the time. I have 66 hours so far.

So everything is going well, but I am incredibly busy. I can't wait until Summer when I get to go to England!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Interesting Linguistics Survey

1. What term do you prefer for a sale of unwanted items in front of your house, usually on a weekend?
2. What do you call the long sandwich that contains cold cuts, lettuce, etc.?
3. What do you call the insect that flies around in summer and glows in the dark?
4. What is your general term for the rubber-soled shoes worn in gym class or for athletic activities?
5. What is the item called that you turn to let water come out into the hose?
6.  What do you call the wheeled contraption for getting groceries?
7. What term do you use for something that is diagonally across the street from you at an intersection?
8.  What do you call putting the sheets,  blankets, and pillows in the right place when you get up in the morning?
9. What do you call paper that has already been used for something or is imperfect?
10. What is your general term for a big road that you drive relatively fast on, separated from cars going the other way?
11. What is it when you are cold, and little points of skin come on your arms & legs?
12.  What do you call the stuff that collects in the corner of your eye when sleeping?
13.  What do you call the box you bury a dead person in?
14. What do you call the sweet spread one puts on a cake?
15.  What do you call the small road parallel to a highway?
16.  What is your term for a sweetened carbonated beverage?
17. What do you carry things home in from the grocery store?
18.   What do you call a warm top often worn in winter?