:: Pedantic Platitudes ::

Greetings! My name is Sam J and I am a student at Harvard University. Perhaps this blog will present a little look into the mundane yet unique events that make up my life.
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:: Sunday, September 18, 2005 ::

So I had an enjoyable summer; working as a reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer was such a wonderful experience. I got to meet lots of important people and cover international news events. Then Europe was great; Oxford is an amazing place and the colleges there are just beautiful. I learned a great deal about evolutionary biology and the history behind the science, and it made me even more saddened how backwards the US is in allowing religious fervor to trump rational scientific thought in ridiculous "debates" on evolution. I think if people who don't accept evolution sat down and actually learned a little bit about the overwhelming evidence behind evolution, they just might realize that Darwin knew what he was talking about.

For my last two weeks in Europe, I spent time in Paris, went on a grand tour of England, and went on a day trip to France/Belgium. Right after my course at Oxford ended, I packed up and took the bus to London, where I took the Eurostar train to Paris! What a beautiful city. One of my classmates who is from Paris was really nice and allowed me to stay at her place, which was conveniently located near the Arc de Triomphe and the subway.

On my first day in Paris, I did the least French thing I could do in France, which was to go to Disneyland Paris. I wanted to go there first because it was the last day in the summer/year they would be offering their "Fantillusion!" nighttime light parade and their version of the "Wishes" fireworks spectacular. Disneyland Paris was tons of fun. I enjoyed comparing their versions of classic Disney rides with the other Disney parks I've visited. Because it opened in 1992, Disneyland Paris utilizes a lot of new technological innovations that weren't available when Disneyland opened in 1955. Their version of the Haunted Mansion (called Phantom Manor) has a more defined storyline (narrated in French!). Their Pirates of the Caribbean is more elaborate on several levels. Also, their Space Mountain goes upside down three times! It had just undergone a major refurbishment this past winter and reopened with new special effects and a new soundtrack, so that was cool to experience.

The next day, I went to the Louvre and saw many famous art and historical pieces, including the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory, Venus de Milo, and the Code of Hammurabi. The museum is huge, and even at the fast pace I was going I still barely scratched the surface. After the museum closed, I walked along the River Seine and visited Notre Dame and the surrounding area. After some shopping and eating (I had a baguette sandwich and then for dessert a delicious crepe with Nutella and bananas - a strange combination, and I was doubtful at first, I'll admit, but the flavors really worked together), I walked to the Eiffel Tower, so emblematic of Paris. It's lit up so marvelously at night, and every hour strobe lights on the tower create a magical sparkling effect. Also, it was wonderful to see Parisians enjoying the evening and having a picnic and wine in front of the tower and also on the bridge over the Seine near Notre Dame.

In my last day in Paris, my friend and I went to the Arc de Triomphe and went to the observatory at the very top. It provided such a lovely view of the city. I got some really nice pictures which I’ll have to post at some time. I then strolled down the famous Champs-Élysées, enjoying French pastries, drinks, and the warm summer sun. It was a perfect end to my time in Paris.

I got back to England and finished some assignments on which we had received extensions. I then was taken on a grand driving tour of the UK, with stops at Stonehenge (nice rocks piled up), Bath (the Romans used to bathe here), Cardiff (Wales) (everything here is in Welsh! But there’s a nice castle and natural history museum in the middle of town), the Welsh countryside (green mountains), Edinburgh (Scotland) (cool castle to explore in the middle of town, beautiful buildings, fun bus tour to see some of the city), Newcastle (cool bridges and castle), the Yorkshire Moors (cool countryside and native plants), and Alton (Alton Towers, the Six Flags of England with intense roller coasters).

Then onto a day trip to France to see Lille (nice Parisian town) and Ostend in Belgium (nice seaside community and fun beach, no Belgian chocolates, alas) and back to the small seaside community of Selsey, England for one last day in England before coming back to the US Saturday morning. I have tons of stories from England, which I am too lazy to write all out here, so if you see me in person, do ask me about them!

Some notes:

Pan au chocolate (chocolate croissant) is a tasty treat.
It’s hard to get around France when you can’t speak French.
Castles are cool.
Punting on the river in Oxford is fun.
I did drink English tea while in England, but I didn’t have the full experience with watercress sandwiches, scones, and cream tea.

Quote of the Day: "Like, I'm on birth control, he wears a condom, AND he pulls out... if I get pregnant, like, it will TOTALLY be an act of god!!!"

:: SL 12:00 AM [+] ::

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