Cheers from London!

Ahoy from the other side of the pond!

I made it here all in one (sleepy) piece, including all my luggage.  My flights were easy and somewhat boring – Icelandair is not a fan of free things and hence only had paid food both times, though I was riding for more than 8 hours.  (A little rude if you ask me!)  Here’s hoping that Turkish Airlines has a better deal on the way home, but I’m not really worried about that yet.

Mostly because I’m having a BLAST here.  In the second half of day one, I unpacked every so slightly, then decided to prove to myself that I was really here by seeing a local (no, national… no, international) landmark with my two eyes, so I walked all the way to Big Ben.  It was even better than I remembered – this tower is quickly becoming my favorite thing in the city, now that I’ve seen it in all weather (helloooo London fall!).
IMG_5472I also wandered around Westminster a bit, trying not to get hit by a car.  More on that later…

Today, I did even more.  I started my day with the local tapas bar’s version of a vegetarian English breakfast – all for £4.10, including the coffee (and the required British side dish of secondhand smoke – coughcoughcough).  Still, it was delicious, though I don’t think I need to eat mushrooms for breakfast every single day.
IMG_5509Then I walked around my ‘hood a bit to see what was up. I discovered that Oval “park” is a cricket pitch, not a place I can sit and read a book.  Good thing there are enough other places that meet that criteria!

In the afternoon, I explored Covent Garden, Charing Cross, etc. taking in the sights and trying to stay out of the rain when possible.  No matter where I went, it was just so good to be back in this weird and wonderful land.  And then the ride home was incredible, as it took me past Big Ben.  I don’t know if I’ll ever take the Underground if I can help it, the bus is so great!IMG_5510Finally, because it was Mountain Day, I met up with some MoHos for ice cream and college reminiscing.  Perfection!

So far, everything is great, but there are definitely challenges ahead:

  1. Not walking too much – I logged 16,000 steps today aka 7.5 miles!  Great, but also could be extremely exhausting on days when I actually have to do something, so I need to find some activities that don’t all involve walking or standing.
  2. Remembering to eat – I got so excited today that I kind of forgot to eat for way too long, which doesn’t go well with #1 and resulted in getting a bit lost.  Snacks all the way, and just generally eating good food when I find it.
  3. Not spending all my money – I WANT EVERYTHING!  Seriously, everything.  I didn’t even stop walking at Jubilee Hall because I knew if I did, I would spend all my money.  I have a while to be here, so I have to remember to pace myself.
  4. Not getting hit by a car – this one is non-negotiable, and it’s slowing me down but I’m never crossing without a light because the traffic here is making my head spin.  Sidewalk – sorry, pavement – traffic is rough enough, but the streets are out of control.  I saw a grown man almost get hit by a bus but his friends pulled him out of the way by his backpack just in time.  Not I – I would rather be the silly person waiting at every light while others run just to be on the safe side (literally).

I think if I can do those four things (and maybe also remember to sleep), this adventure will be top notch.  It’s certainly off to a smashing start! Stay tuned for a few more updates this week!

(All photos are my own)

Climb every mountain

IT’S MOUNTAIN DAY! (and I totally called it!)

The best of all holidays – that one random, crisp fall day where obligations are canceled, tests are delayed, picnics are packed, and ice cream is consumed at the top of Mount Holyoke.  And to make it extra special this year, the government is joining in the shutdown as well!  How friendly of them.

I will be enjoying this day by sending love to all my MoHos, eating ice cream in Cambridge at 6:30 (text me if you want to join!), and trying to get outside for some fresh air later.  How will YOU spend this Mountain Day?

For more on why I love Mountain Day – I even gave my commencement address about it! – click here.  And add your own memories in the comments!

Happy Mountain Day!

Today is the cheeriest of fall days, the most unexpected gift from the MHC gods (aka Lynn Pasquerella and the weather forecasters) – it’s Mountain Day!

Facebook alerts substituted for pealing chapel bells this morning to let me and my fellow Mount Holyoke College ladies know that this informal holiday is upon us – and it’s about time.  This holiday usually takes place in late September or early October, and we were all growing a bit desperate to hear that it was here.  In celebration, all classes at MHC will be canceled so people can hike our mini mountain, enjoy ice cream at the top, and generally relax in the splendor of fall in the Pioneer Valley.

The grown up version, however, goes a little like this:

“HAPPY MOUNTAIN DAAAAY! Do you want to go get ice cream and lunch later?”
“No, sorry… I’m too busy changing the world.”

Whomp whomp.  I’m bringing her ice cream later anyway.

For more on Mountain Day and why it means so much to me that I made it the topic of my commencement address, check out my previous blog posts here and here.

Happy Mountain Day, MoHos everywhere!  May your hike be sunny and awesome.

It’s Mountain Day!

Today is my favorite holiday – Mountain Day.

At my alma mater of Mount Holyoke College in western Massachusetts, Mountain Day starts on a random weekday morning in the fall when the bells in the clock tower ring incessantly.  This deafening toll means that you are excused from classes, meetings, and responsibilities for the entire day.  People either sleep, study (even though, for once, it’s discouraged), or trek up the mountain.  Too lazy to climb the 940 feet?  A shuttle will take you to the top, where the MHC President dishes out ice cream for lunch.

I loved Mountain Day so much, I turned it into a monthly tradition.  Usually, I hiked with my roommate Julia and made a point of going every month we were at school – sometimes, that meant hiking at 5:00 on a December morning, sometimes we caught the last rays of light in April.  I roped other people into it as our schedules got harder to manage, and kept up the tradition my entire MHC career.

At the end of it all, I delivered this speech at commencement about how our college experiences, and our lives, resemble the waiting and the possibilities of Mountain Day.

Happy Mountain Day, fellow MoHos.  Hike that mountain for me!

Hiking buddies - Julia and me, dressed like champs

An early morning hike in winter

Mountain Day - Senior Year

Want to know more?  Read my Mountain Day post from last year!

Tradition, Tradition

I’m a big fan of traditions, the cheesier the better.  Whether it’s weekly ice cream dates or watching the same silly movies every fall (Hocus Pocus anyone?) or the way we open our presents one at a time at Christmas, I love it.

Somehow, I managed to find a college that was as nuts about traditions as me.  Mount Holyoke was crazy about them.  We had M & C’s at 9:30 every school night, even when the milk and cookies were replaced with carrots and saltines because of the budget and health concerns.  We met for ice cream on Mary Lyon’s grave on Founder’s Day.  We do synchronized canoeing to celebrate graduation (yeah, I even planned it for my class).

But nothing compares to my favorite tradition: Mountain Day.

Mountain Day is a special day for the MHC community, a spontaneous holiday that begins with the bells ringing incessantly early in the morning to announce that all classes are canceled, all obligations are dismissed, and ice cream (served by the college President) is waiting for you at the top of the 935 foot “mountain” that bears our name.

Continue reading