Spring Break 2k12 - Orlando

So we left Bahamas with heavy heads and emptier pockets and headed for Florida; this time Orlando. Our first day there we took in Universal Studios. Rides like the Hulk and Jurassic park embodied Universal movies, and then, of course, there was Harry Potter world. You enter Hogsmeade (which is really a combination with Diagon Alley), peruse Ollivandars and the various shops, and lunch is served at the Three Broomsticks - butter-beer and all! The best ride by far is the forbidden journey, which takes you through Hogwarts and then on a virtual journey where you quite literally fly with Harry Potter. Bloody Brilliant, as Ron would say.

Saturday took us to Disneyland. You’d think a group of nine 19-20-21 year-olds wouldn’t be keen on a park with a target age of 7. You’d be wrong. Novelty ears were purchased, costumes adorned and major craic was had. From ‘Its a Small World’ to ‘Space Mountain’, from the parade to the evening fireworks, the day was truly magical. 


Spring Break 2k12 - Bahamas

Last week was Spring Break, so a bunch of us international girls - Alice, Emily, Georgie, Jackie, Jen, Jenga, Simi, Vanessa and I to be precise - went on tour: to the Bahamas and Orlando to be precise. It was a truly incredible week, well worth my summer of work to fund it, and I have many many memories - lots of which aren’t very blog-friendly.


To get to the Bahamas we had to stop over in Miami - its a hard life, I know! - so we made the most of it and got a hotel for the 10 hour stopover. Jen and I decided to take a three-hour midnight dip in the hotel pool. It was almost pitch black, but the pool illuminated the neighbouring palm-trees with a fluorescent glow, and it was still exceeding warm even at that late hour. 

The next day we woke early and headed to The Bahamas, which are a set of 30 or so small islands in the Caribbean, close to the Florida Keys. We flew into Nassau, and our taxi driver told us the history of the island, where Anna Nicole Smith died and Bob Marley once lived. Our destination was Paradise Island, joined to Nassau by a bridge jutting out into the ocean. The island is home to residents such as Oprah and Nicholas Cage and the super hotel The Atlantis (google it, you’ll recognise it), but our hotel was a little less glamourous. An all-inclusive resort, however, it was nothing to be sniffed at, however, and its pool and beach were extremely enticing on our arrival. 

The week was filled with partying. The clubs were full of Americans and you could really sense a Spring Break atmosphere. A highlight was Senor Frogs, which just happened to be frequented by Prince Harry on the same evening as us… no big deal. There, you could get a ‘yard’ of drink and party to a live band, right on the sea overlooking the cruise liners. We also got to party in Aura, the nightclub of Atlantis. Think mayfair, and add a couple of hundred dollars per bottle, and you’ve got it about right. Luckily we weren’t paying! Lots of the nights had free bar, and the hotel had a vast supply, so let’s just say a lot of craic was had by all.

Days were spent swimming (obviously guys, it’s me!), relaxing on the beach and by the pool, on boat trips and exploring the small town of Nassau. Probably my favourite day was when Jackie, Jen, Jenga and I snuck into Atlantis. There, they have a huge water park with slides and pools, and it was amazing to explore. We rode the waves at their private beach, witnessed a wedding on the sands, and generally felt a little luxurious for the day.



So as most of you know, I’m obsessed with films. I mean, from having one conversation with me, you probably know that. Knowing I was coming over to America, I figured that I wanted to make the most of my visa and do some kind of internship while I was here. So I sent out around 100 emails to all of the various film production companies in the US. Hearing back from a few, it was Lionsgate that came to fruition.

The executive phoned me and we discussed the role; I’d basically be working with acquisitions, reading scripts and preparing summaries/reports. Then he sent me an actual script which I had to prepare a treatment for. Nervously I worked on it, and luckily he liked what I wrote, so this summer I’m going to be living in LA for two months and interning with Lionsgate. To say it is a dream come true puts it quite mildly, so I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that it all works out okay. Exciting, though!


Shrove Tuesday: The only place that was open for dinner pancakes was the token drunk food venue: timeout. They tasted like maccas hotcakes and were lacking blueberries. A combination of good company and lots of syrup made the experience particularly enjoyable.


Shrove Tuesday:
The only place that was open for dinner pancakes was the token drunk food venue: timeout.
They tasted like maccas hotcakes and were lacking blueberries.
A combination of good company and lots of syrup made the experience particularly enjoyable.


One of the characters in Chapel Hill… the pit preacher. Pretty crazy stuff right?! What do you guys think?


Teenage Dream

It turns out the Glee Warblers exist. They’re here, in Chapel Hill, except they’re called the Clef Hangers. These guys, one of whom lives on my hall, are campus celebrities because of their high-pitched doo-wops and totally synchronised singing. Some friends and I went to see their concert and were not disappointed. Versions of Yellow and Paradise by Coldplay stood out, as did the guys - bow ties and all. Very cute indeed.


I love College

You guys know I’m not the sportiest person in the world, which is why you’ll probably be amazed at how much I’m getting in to Basketball here at UNC. I never really understood how people became so obsessed with a team until I came here; its pretty much the Tar Heel way of life. At the moment we’re playing in the NCAA (National Championships) where we have reached the sweet sixteens. Every high (winning against Creighton) and low (Henson and Marshall getting injured) has rippling, tangible effects on campus, as the whole student body rides the wave of excitement. Its pretty awesome to be a part of. A few weeks ago Kate took me to see a Basketball against Clemson in the Dean Dome stadium. It was brilliant, we won, and the student atmosphere was electric. 

On the flip side, nightlife in Chapel Hill ain’t so shabby. You all know the song ‘I love College’ by Asher Roth? The man himself came to Chapel Hill, and some friends and I went by. The whole club went wild as he sang his song about College life, and my roommate even got to dance with him. We finished the night with cheese fries at Lindas, as is our custom. Life is good.


Katie and Gigi go to DC

So, as most of you know, I have a long-lived, fully-fledged love affair with a certain band… Jack’s Mannequin. I’ve loved Andrew McMahon (lead singer, writer, general lead man) since I was 14, having met him twice before and seen the band thrice. When I found out I’d be studying abroad in America, one of my first thoughts was to check out if they were playing anywhere. So in November, I booked myself and Gigi tickets to see them in DC… in February… hence our recent visit!

DC is only five hours driving from Chapel Hill (believe me, that’s nothing in American terms) so Gigi and I decided to take the Megabus… at 1.30am. Hey, it was $10, and we got in at 6.30 with stacks of time for a full day of sightseeing! Great idea, in theory. However, as we sat on a crowded bus with a pair of drug-dealers with a rucksack full of money beside us, we began to regret it slightly. Oh well, we made it in one piece, and headed to Helen’s dorm. Gigi has just graduated from George Washington University, which is in the central DC district of Foggybottom, and Helen is her friend from theatre. We crashed at Helens for a large portion of the morning, before grabbing lunch and heading to the Lincoln Memorial. We walked around it and all of the memorials; it was great to have Gigi as a guide as she knows the city so well. It was getting late and we were tired so we decided to head to the gig and grab some food.

Jack’s Mannequin were playing at the 9.30 club, a cool venue not far from the city centre. We arrived early so gained exclusive access to the down-bar, and managed to get a pair of second-row spots. The concert was brilliant, I thoroughly enjoyed all of the acts and especially Jack’s Mannequin. It was my fourth time seeing them and they did not disappoint, its nice to see how they’ve developed as a band. What I got here, more than in the UK, was a sense of fun - all the artists loved every minutes, and that translated well to the audience. Afterwards, we managed to meet Andrew, who remembered me from the time we saw him in London on his birthday. That was brilliant, a cherry on top of a sick night. 

The next few days were spent on a mixture of sightseeing and hanging out. Saturday we saw the House of Representatives, where Gigi and I had the funniest tour-guide ever. Totally didn’t take a photo with him afterwards. I’m the first to admit I don’t know a whole lot about American politics, so it was nice to learn more, and see where such a young yet important country makes its world-changing decisions. We followed our stop with a trip to the American Indian museum. Again, another topic I don’t know a lot about, and it proved highly interesting. As it shut, we met Helen at a local burger bar and headed out to a party at GW. Gigi’s friends are mostly theatre people, and it was interesting to drink and hang with them. 

On Sunday we made it to the Air and Space Museum, which was brilliant, especially considering the fact I have little interest in the topic. There was a lot of stuff about the Wright Brothers and North Carolina, which I obviously loved. Then we hit up the Holocaust Museum. We had limited time, but I can honestly say it was hands-down one of the best museums I’ve been to. Serious and emotional in equal measure, the exhibitions were truly touching. We explored more of DC that night, including a trip to the cinema and to the White House and night - gorgeous.


Philadelphia + Amish Country

Laura, Gigi and I went to Philly at the end of January to visit the city and some friends we have up there. As soon as we arrived we were thrown into the social scene of UPenn. We stayed with Josh, boyfriend of Linda, and his house had a cool downstairs bar and was full of people from the get-go. We headed to a local bar, which was a lot different from the UNC nightlife, but fun nevertheless.

The next day, we raised our heavy heads and headed in to Philly centre. We saw the Liberty Bell, a symbol of freedom in the US, and the Independence Hall, which is where the famous declaration was signed. It was nice to get a bit of culture, and the weather was lovely, which helped. There we had a romantic reunion with Liz, our good friend who studied abroad at King’s, and we got the train back to hers. 

Liz lives in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, which for the Gilmore Girls fans among you is basically the real life version of Stars Hollow. Her house is white and beautiful, and we had a great catch up night there. The next day, Liz drove us up to Amish Country. 

I’m sure most of you reading this know about my infamous association with the Amish; for those of you who don’t, here’s a summary. When I was in Year 10, our English class had to give a speech on ‘something that interests’ us. I had just devoured ‘Plain Truth’ by Jodi Picoult, and thus decided upon the Amish. I researched, prepared and practised my speech… it was fine. But as I began to deliver my speech to my English class, I said ‘The Amish, pronounced Ah-mish…’ Looks fine written down, doesn’t it? But aloud, its kindof dumb. So the entire class erupted in laughter, and I was mortified, and had to stop my speech. From there on in I was forever associated with the plain-clothed people, which I have embraced, even dressing up as an Amish wife for Thanksgiving. 

Thus, as my bucket list for America has grown, one of my essential pitstops has always been Amish Country. So, that’s why on Saturday, we all headed for Intercourse. Yes, Intercourse, the town. The irony wasn’t lost on the souvenir shops either. First of all we visited a model Amish village, touring an Amish house and seeing their way of life. Then we decided to experience it first hand. We drove through the town, meeting Amish people on the way as their horse and buggies rode past.

I found it fascinating that these people live an untouched, totally preserved way of life. I learnt that the people were invited over by William Penn himself, who knew of their persecution in Germany and the Netherlands, and wished for their farming knowledge and expertise. Indeed, Amish farming materials are still produced and sold today. Its true that they hate being photographed, but I managed to snap a few subtle pictures. What I was glad about was that Laura, Gigi and Liz - none of whom have the slightest affiliation with the Amish - seemed to really enjoy the day. It was really like stepping into the past, a real experience.

Back to Philly we went, and we headed out to an Indian. It was nice to have a taste of home… how ironic. And most of the eateries in Philly are BYOA because the licensing laws are tough, so we chowed down with our New England cider. Food was followed by a UPenn dubstep party… yes, they have a very different idea of dubstep in America, but it was good craic nonetheless. One guy I met told me he’s planning on taking a dubstep tour of Europe this summer… wow. UPenn as a whole was a nice place, very prestigious feeling, but I’m glad I ended up at Chapel Hill. The people I met were lovely, but the vibe was EXACTLY like ‘The Social Network’ - Sorkin and Fincher got the Ivy League driven-coolness spot on. Plus, Philly was a dark, grey city - I like my sunny Carolina.

On the final day, we decided to squeeze in another ounce of culture and hit up the Museum of Art. A majestic building upon a hill, the gallery has beautiful views of the entire city of Philadelphia. Cue another photo. When we went in, we realised the museum was not free, and was in fact $20. As poor students, we debated leaving, and were overheard by a museum guard. She approached us, offered us pins, and let us in for free as her guests. I was genuinely touched by such a lovely gesture by someone who we didn’t know. So we perused the art, and headed back into the centre, where we met Liz at the Philadelphia Chocolate Factory. One word: delicious. We won’t discuss how much time or money was spent there, but lets just say it was worth it. We flew home satisfied after a wonderful weekend.


A weekend at Caitlin’s

Last weekend Caitlin invited me to stay with her in Raleigh. It was lovely to meet her family. She has literally the most adorable nephew known to mankind, who I may steal, and her parents were very welcoming. Its nice to know that I have a surrogate home if college ever gets too much.

We went to the mall, watched movies and generally chilled for most of the weekend. But on Saturday we went to the North Carolina Museum of Art. I got my first taste of American art, and I really liked it. There was something dramatic in the juxtaposition between breathtaking landscape and vivid characters that made the works distinctly American, and they serve as a pre-media representation of the nation.

One piece of art which stood out to me particularly was TAR BABY VS SAINT SEBASTIAN. Michael Richards made the six foot gold sculpture as a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen who were not recognised for their contribution to the second world war. Tragically, and with gruesome irony, Richards later died in the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan. The sculpture, a cast of his own body, was a deeply harrowing foreshadowing of his own death. Bone-chilling stuff.


I’m hired!

You’re looking at the new staff writer for The Daily Tar Heel. The newspaper is very prestigious, having won national student newspaper of the year in 2010. I’m going to be writing for the ‘Diversions’ section - arts, film, music etc, which was my top choice, so I’m very happy. You can check out the newspaper here…


Y’all have fun!

Hey you guise! So to apologise for my severe lack of blogging (I wrote a huge one which deleted itself and thus I was too depressed to write another for a while) I have written you guys A LOT and even included photos, below. Enjoy! And don’t forget to message me and tell me about your lives! Love you all, Katie xxx


My courses

So I guess I have to keep reminding myself that I’m here to work, too. I’m enjoying my modules so far - there’s a lot more work than King’s but I feel that there will be more feedback, too. The teachers seem to genuinely care a lot about their students, and the British angle gets a lot of looks, and laughs, in class. You sit in the high school desks, I feel like I’m in a scene from a movie half the time! So far we’ve discussed such varied literary works of genius as Friday by Rebecca Black, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo and Juliet and Cinderella… the Pop-Culture references are in overdrive here and I love it.

Southern Autobiography and Memoir - a unique and interesting course, even if the books are random. I’ve got a presentation on Tuesday on a book in which the protagonist is a drunk aged six… better get started on that at some point soon.

William Blake 2.0 - a look at all of Blake’s work with relation to popular culture. Very random, but the professor is like Mr Blake Expert 2k12, so hopefully I’ll learn a lot from him. Might even do a presentation on Skellig - HA Year 7 Loreto - so it’s all good!

Shakespeare - an overview of his greatest hits. I’m happy to be finally doing it as part of my degree, and the pop-culture references definitely keep it interesting - who doesn’t want to watch Leo in their lecture?!

American Poetry - Love the texts. But the class is a little grating.. by the end I’ll be able to use iambic pentameter? Oops. Still, any course with Frost has got to be worth its salt, and apparently at the end we get to handle original manuscripts. Nerdgasm.

Overall classes are going well, but I think I’m going to have to crank up the work level a little higher in the next weeks, or mid-terms are going to hit me like a pile of bricks. Oh well, this is a holiday, right….?!


Caitlin and the Americans

Caitlin is my amazing roommate. I was nervous about having a roommate as I’d never had one before, and I knew my messiness/general insaneness could drive people crazy. But Caitlin is literally awesome. We are on the same wavelength about most things, she’s very chilled out and cool, and she gives great, honest advice. She’s even having me to stay for a weekend, which is amazing and makes me feel so much at home. Its fun for us to talk about our cultural differences, because we often find that despite these we’ve got a lot in common. I’m lucky. 

Caitlin has also introduced me to her wonderful group of friends. They’ve got great craic and its been fun partying with them, too. The other night they showed me American dance moves - like the wobble - which were hilarious and brilliant in equal measure.

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