Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Class of 2015: Graduating from the University of Bristol

I'm not going to sugar-coat it. Graduation was pretty much the best day ever.

Sure, it was two months ago now, but I've been waiting on the professional pictures which I now have, hoorah!
I remember back in October of Final Year how much I was looking forward to graduation. And then crying internally because I had practically the whole final year of my degree and a hell of a lot of work to get through first.

But we did it! After months of waiting to use the graduation cap emoji and writing "congradulations" everywhere (punny, no?) the day finally came.
I hope those of you who perhaps don't live in the UK or are merely intrigued as to what a British university graduation is like may enjoy this little insight to the day...

Modern Languages were given the very last ceremony after a week of graduations at the University of Bristol. And, after a week of sunshine, it decided to absolutely CHUCK it down all. damn. day.

For days I simply refused to believe anyone who told me it was forecast to be horrendous weather. I had my dress, shoes, bag, extremely detailed itinerary for the day (obvs), and nothing was going to rain on my and my friends' parades.

Shout-out to my dad for being awesome and chauffeuring the Hosie gals around all day thus saving us attempting to walk to far in our heels through the torrential rain!
Horrendous weather aside, I was so excited to be going back to Bristol for one last day and to see all my friends again.

To the annoyance of, well, ALL students, it's tradition at The University of Bristol NOT to wear mortar boards. I know! Bit rubbish.

Buuut we still got gowns, HOORAH! They're fun to wear, if slightly more awkward than I'd been expecting - mine kept falling off my shoulders and going wonky but I werked it. (Not a typo. I'm trying to be cool.)

After picking up my gown I dragged the fam (minus the absent brother, who had a prior commitment in Spain, whatevs) along for some professional photos with the very talented Jamie Corbin. So that was fun. He even let us pretend we had mortar boards, yay!
I am the dancing girl emoji, also known as José. (-> Hosé -> Hosie.)
Next up, we moved on to a lovely reception put on by the Modern Languages department.

There was Prosecco, tea, coffee, strawberries and cream and caaaaaake! So yes, it was pretty ideal.
I also really enjoyed seeing some of my teachers again. Quote the Shrimp: "Why are you, like, friends with your teachers?" What can I say? I'm that kinda kid.

It was also amusing to discover some of my teachers had seen Holly and thought "why isn't Rachel wearing her robe?" Apparently the Shrimp and I look kinda similar... What do you think? (In case you hadn't guessed, she's the one in the green dress.)

But mainly I was just so excited to see my friends again! I'd spent the morning bumping into people here and there which is exactly how I'd spent the past four years of my degree. I love it.
Also fun: seeing people with their parents, don'tcha think? It's funny because I'm super close to my friends but had barely met any of their parents, and vice versa, so it was super nice to meet people's families.

Awards were handed out (sadly there wasn't one for "sparkliest lecture attendee") and before we knew it, it was time to make our way down to the amazing Wills Memorial Building for our ceremony! With the prospect of walking up and down stairs in super high heels with hundreds of people watching still looming, I'd been conscious of not drinking too much Prosecco.

The graduands all took our places in our assigned seats in the Great Hall and were given a briefing on how errythang was going to go down.
It was only halfway through said briefing that I realised I had stupidly not been paying attention (I was too busy reading the snazzy programme and checking out who'd got Firsts.) Thank GOD my friends around me had been listening.

As well as the programmes we were given teeeeny UoB pencils and a tote bag. Don't ever say you don't get your money's worth from a degree.

As family and friends streamed in, the hall filled up, cameras snapped, the atmosphere of excitement grew and then it was time to start.
As the organ played, the important people in all their splendour processed up to the front and took their seats. It was Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Eric Thomas' final graduation ceremony EVER, so he was pretty emosh.

And then graduation happened. One by one we smiling graduands picked up our certificates and became graduates. It was all impeccably organised too. Equally impressive was that neither of us ladies in our silly high heels fell over on the stairs which is quite an achievement if you ask me.
We all cheered and whooped for our friends and it was so lovely because - as I've said before - we linguists are a sociable bunch, and so most of us knew the majority of the cohort.

The national anthem was sung, speeches were made and then it was procession time again. Our ceremony had all the pomp one would expect from a thoroughly British occasion, and I loved it.

The new graduates and our families mingled outside in the most celebratory of atmospheres before splitting off into groups for special dinners - we went to Aquila.

It's the most wonderful Italian restaurant: great food and friendly service whilst also being a bit more special and snazzy than the likes of Pizza Express. They also gave us free Prosecco so yay to that.

Apols the pics aren't better - I only had my phone, which is an iPhone 4 (feel my pain) - but please take my word for it when I say everything was fabulous.

After a wonderful dinner, my parents and sister headed back home and I rejoined my friends to party the night away and enjoy Bristol's fine nightlife with all my uni chums for one last time.
What a day. It was the PERFECT way to end four wonderful years at Bristol. I'm so sad university is over but I have the fondest of memories and Bristol will always hold a special place in my heart.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Interrailing the South of France: Nice

You know all the pictures you see of Nice? The ones with the crazy blue sea that looks like they've been Instagram-filtered to within an inch of their life? It turns out Nice really does look like that. Amazing.
Being the pricey city that it is, Amber and I decided to shimmy over to the far end of the Côte d'Azur for one night and one night only, but boy, am I glad we did. We stayed at the Hostel Villa Saint Exupery Beach which was perfectly located and absolutely adequate. (Hey, I'm not going to get too excited, it was just a hostel but it did the job perfectly.)

Two days in Nice was actually ideal. I could definitely have stayed longer, but we had enough time to explore the city and get a feel for the beautiful tourist-trap that it is.

And it certainly is a tourist-trap. But Amber and I were more than happy to join the throngs for a couple of days.
I loved Nice.

Perhaps unsurprisingly what with being so close to Italy and all, it has a distinctly Italian feel to it. It reminded me of Venice (well, without all the water), and definitely felt more Italian than French to me.
While we were there, we went on one of the free walking tours put on by our hostel which was a fab way to see the city. Well, the old town at least. But let's be real here: the old town is always the best part of any town, amaright?

Tall colourful buildings lined with shutters contrast with big open squares.
And of course, if you've got the money to spare you could do some serious damage in Nice. Chanel, anyone?
It's safe to say Amber and I stuck to window shopping. We also had a lovely little peruse of the food and flower market which was wafting out all kinds of good smells.
The best thing about Nice, however, has hands down got to be the sea. I mean, just LOOK AT IT!
The one bummer is that the beach is pebbly rather than sandy but I forgave Nice for that. The vibrant sea with its crashing waves more than made up for a slightly awkward clamber in and out whilst trying to keep my balance. It wasn't easy and it wasn't graceful, but it was worth it.
Man, I love swimming in the sea. And what totally blew my mind was how warm the water was! OK, it wasn't like a bath, but I'm used to swimming in the Atlantic off the West coast of Portugal so the Mediterranean felt super dreamy to this wannabe mermaid.

The city is right on the coast, which I love, and then its surrounded by mountains too. We made sure to climb up the hill to get a good view down over the bay.
Pretty damn beaut, no two ways about it.

And you may not be surprised to hear that Nice is equally beaut by night.
Strolling along the promenade with the sea reflecting the lights of the city and the moon was absolutely gorgeous.

We also discovered that evening that there's more to Niçoise cuisine than just Niçoise salad. I'm a terrible blogger because I didn't note down the name of the restaurant (apols, gang), but Amber and I dined at a lovely little place in the old town and enjoyed some of their local specialities...
The above? Those are beignets d'aubergine et de courgette. So essentially deep-fried courgette and aubergine, of which I am a big fan. I heartily recommend.

Post-dinner Amber and I accidentally walked past a bar that was offering glasses of Prosecco for 3€ during happy hour, of which remained approx. six minutes. We pounced.
I'm not sure why it was served in wine glasses but at that price I wasn't going to complain. Bubbles with one of my best gals in a beautiful, buzzy square. That's what holidays are made of, don'tcha think?

We also made sure to frequent a Niçoise establishment for lunch the next day, stumbling upon what was clearly a super popular place with a great atmosphere: Lou Pilha Leva.
 I had beignets again (srsly, try them) as well as something called socca:
It's sort of like a thick pancake crossed with a flatbread and made with chickpea flour. Although pretty bland, I loved the texture and it's great as an accompaniment to other more flavoursome things.

And before we knew it, it was time to hop on a train again! Coming up next on the interrail journey: Annecy! I think y'all are really going to like Annecy. Oh, and if you missed any of my previous stops, have a gander at Bordeaux, Toulouse and Aix-en-Provence too.

Thoughts on Nice? I thought it was pretty nice. *cracks up at own terribly unoriginal joke*
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