“Don’t get too close…”

The week before last was probably one of the most uneventful weeks. I was very responsible and wrote my papers before they were due, so I could have free time. On Saturday the 30th, Chris and I went this exhibit on 1916 at the National Museum, so I could write my last report on it, and with that, classes have ended, work has (technically ended), and we are free of responsibility. We arrived in London at about 8:30am on Sunday, and the first thing on our agenda was to try to find our AirBnB.  It took, literally, two hours. Of all the things, I think we most regret flying in to Stansted Airport. We had to take a bus for an hour to the tube, which we took for an hour, then walk to our Air BnB where we promptly got lost. We ended up having to be saved by the friend of the woman who owned the Air BnB; she picked us up and drove us to the flat. In the next three days, we saw as much as we could while spending the least amount that we could. Honestly, what financially killed us the most in London were transportation costs and the terrible exchange rate our USD got us. We were fortunate to get near perfect weather (it only rained on us in Bath). I couldn’t choose which was my favorite place: Stonehenge or the British Museum. Stonehenge is older than the pyramids, and the museum on the grounds there did an incredible job at explaining how it used to look, how we think it was made, and more. We were only in the British Museum for about a half an hour, but their pieces from Egypt were incredible. We got back very late on Tuesday night, and, on Wednesday, I went to the Wells for Zoe charity shop for a few hours. While there, I got to speak to a man from Somalia who used to volunteer there. He’s a refugee who came to Ireland, according to him, after Democratic elections in Somalia brought about a leader who was bought by the US government to cause cries of terrorism in his country with an overwhelming Muslim majority (99%). While I cannot attest to Somalia’s history, its a good example of the way much of the world views the US involvement in other countries. I spent the next few days running various errands until we got to the weekend .On Saturday, Chris and I went to a showing at the National Gallery of 10 sketches from Leonardo da Vinci’s private papers. We were not allowed to take pictures, but the sketches will stick with me for some time as they were all so unique. Yesterday, it was in the mid-60s and the sun was shining all day, so we went outside. Chris and I spent a few hours wandering Phoenix Park (one of the the biggest city parks in Europe). We saw the president’s house, a huge amount of deer, a dog enthusiast group, a gigantic cross dedicated to the pope, and the American Ambassador’s house. Here, we got another nod to the US government. Chris and I were just standing, looking at the building and chatting about how it had a mini-moat, security cameras, various men walking around giving you the eye, etc. I saw a man walk by the sidewalk in front of us and guessed, “Oh maybe can get that close.” Chris looked at me and pointed out, “Courtney that man has a gun, we definitely can’t go there.” I’m not sure if they heard us, but an African man and an Asian man stopped to take a picture in front of said building, and, as the Asian man posed in front of it, the African man says, “Don’t get too close, that’s the American embassy, they might shoot you!” Of course, I about fell over laughing because of how pertinent it was to the conversation that I was having with Chris about the levels of security the US government takes in comparison to other countries of the world. Unfortunately, it really is a statement that encapsulates what much of the world thinks of the US, despite many of its citizens feeling differently. I’m so afraid of what our future president will do to amplify or negate this opinion. On that note, we left to go find food. We got burritos and ate them in St. Stephen’s Green. The amount of green space there is in Dublin to just lounge around in is one of my favorite parts about the city. You could be in these places and hardly know that you’re in a place with hundreds of thousands of people. Our last stop was a walk at the beach, Sandymount. We’d been here a couple of times, but mostly when it was too dark or too cold to venture out. This time we tried to walk all the way out to shore before we realized that low tide was coming on, so we were literally chasing the water out. All in all, it was a relaxing, beautiful weekend.

Its the beginning of a new week, and now we have less than 20 days until I’ll have to be home .This is really my last full week of summer to do whatever I want in Ireland because we leave for Crete on Saturday, I have one weekend with Chris, and then my mother and sister get here to spend a week of vacation with me. A few months ago, I would have been excited to go home, but now I’m even more torn because of what I will be missing here. Knowing how busy life is going to be when I get back doesn’t help either, but I suppose the best thing is to just focus on the now.

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