Wednesday, July 1, 2015
On Friday, we set a personal record for number of steps walked in 2015... by a lot. We walked down to and crossed the River Thames (pronounced "tems") and stopped for lemonade on the South Bank to enjoy the view of the British Parliament and Big Ben from afar. Then we crossed into the Westminster neighborhood, passed by Downing Street (official residence of UK Prime Minister David Cameron), and walked right up to Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Even though we had seen it in a million pictures, Big Ben (technically, the clock tower of Westminster Palace that contains the bell known as Big Ben) was impressive in its size and ornateness, We then headed north to Buckingham Palace and Piccadilly Circus--both swarming with people--and then got dinner in Soho. We ended the evening with a mission to locate Soho's "Broad Street Pump", which symbolizes the birthplace of epidemology (Joye's public health specialty) after Dr. John Snow identified it as the likely source for Soho's cholera outbreak in 1854. Unfortunately, the pump has recently been removed, and the bartender at the nearby John Snow pub did not even know what we were talking about, but we had fun wandering through this neighborhood nonetheless.
Over the two days, we toured inside of London's major sites. We started with Westminster Abbey--England's most important church--which has been the traditional site for marriages, coronations, and burial of British royalty, including William and Kate's wedding most recently. Westminster Abbey is also a sort of Cemetery of Fame and includes the resting place of many monarchs, prime ministers, and other reputables such as Isaac Newton, William Wilberforce, Charles Darwin, Geoffrey Chaucer, and Charles Dickens, to name a select few. We also toured the British Museum quite extensively and enjoyed their amazing collections of Egyptian and Greek artifacts as well as learning more about the history of people on the British Isles.
Getting outside, we particularly enjoyed getting ice cream while touring the Kensington Palace gardens and strolling through Hyde Park. We also made an effort to quickly see touristy sites like the Beatles's Abbey Road and Harry Potter's Platform 9 and 3/4, but these were naturally overwhelmed with crowds and cameras. But away from those sites, we learned that London is a vibrant and diverse metropolitan city. Outside of the attractions, the character of London seems to be much more of a melting pot--like New York City, for example--than of a distinctly British town. Perhaps this is why some Brits consider London to be an almost sub-country removed from the workaday lifestyle of the rest. While Joye and I concluded that we prefer the character and proximity of a smaller city like Edinburgh, visiting London was an amazing experience, especially with hospitable and generous friends.
Sunday, June 21, 2015
Sunday, June 14, 2015
We've decided to continue our blog to share about our experience in Edinburgh this summer. Joye is just starting a 6 week pharmacy rotation with the National Health Services and James is tagging along, doing research and working on writing and publishing manuscripts while we are here.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
In the past two months, we have driven from Kentucky to Michigan and back, twice, and all for very different reasons. Searching for an apartment, writing a thesis, moving, and vacationing have kept us too busy to write a blog… until now.
KENTUCKY: We mentioned in our last post that we spent a few weeks in Kentucky in May, house-sitting for some friends while finding an apartment of our own. What we did not mention was that I also had the privilege of going to Washington DC to speak at a Peace Corps sponsored kick-off event for a global partnership between USAID and Peace Corps focused on food security. Speaking on a panel to a crowd of a few hundred Peace Corps employees and other public officials, I shared some highlights of the food security work we were doing in Mali, including our task force. In addition to reconnecting with my former supervisors from Peace Corps Mali, I also met many international development professionals, including Peace Corps Director Aaron Williams (left in first picture) , who surprised me by telling me that he used to be a Peace Corps recruiter at Alma College, our undergraduate alma mater.
MICHIGAN: We then drove north, and I then spent the next two weeks subletting a room near Michigan State in order to work on my Master’s thesis. Naively, I’d hoped to finish it, but I didn’t even write a word. Instead, I spent the time meeting with professors, reading dozens of academic papers, and changing my thesis topic every other day. It was miserable, but my last day there we came up with an idea that is new, relevant, and feasible. Maybe another day, I’ll write a blog about what my thesis is about… but I’ll skip it for now.
KENTUCKY: On our next trip south involved a rental truck full with everything we owned, which was only a small storage unit worth of cardboard boxes. We moved into our apartment and discovered quickly that about half of these boxes were college textbooks, and that it did not include any furniture. So while Joye prepared for pharmacy school and I wrote my thesis, we also procured a mattress (our first with box springs), couch, television, and dining table (no chairs yet). While all this was accomplished during a heat wave, at least we got to enjoy the beautiful lawn outside our apartment window and a little creek nearby.
MICHIGAN: To beat the heat, we then travelled to northern Michigan to spend the 4th of July in my hometown of Harbor Springs, a coastal community on the shore of Lake Michigan with a population that quintuples every Independence Day with a crowd wearing khaki shorts and polo shirts. When we weren’t relaxing at the beach, we helped my folks clean out the house as they too are moving. As it was probably the last time we will visit Harbor Springs for a while, it was nostalgic week, but one that was filled with plenty of new memories.
KENTUCKY: And finally, we returned to our apartment in Kentucky today - already it feels like home. The next chapter of our life is set to begin. I will be officially starting work at the University of Kentucky next Monday as a research economist, and Joye begins classes next month. Soon we will start speaking with a drawl. While this will be very different than how we were living only a few months ago, it is a welcome change, and after so much travelling we are excited for some routine – though who knows how long that will last.
I hope this catches us up. Thanks for reading.
-James (& Joye)