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Fleeting Thoughts of a Fleeting Time August 15, 2011

Posted by shinjinidas in Travel Log.
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“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

-Marianne Williamson

On May 31, 2011, I set out on a journey that would revitalize my perspective on the world, a journey that would culture and mature me through art history, music, and beyond. I have introspected more on this trip, than I ever have in my entire life. Visiting 7 countries in 4 weeks & and living at Oxford’s Worcester College for 6 weeks does that to you!

What I took away from this summer was much larger than anything I’ve ever known. The feelings of independence pulsing through my veins walking through Piccadilly Circus on a busy day in London, or the thrill of watching Chicago with my father in the famed Cambridge Theatre in the city was amazing. Strolling through the streets of Oxfordshire admiring the sea of stores and beautiful architecture that lay ahead made me giddy with excitement. Experiencing the stillness and beauty of the night sky on Worcester College’s Sacred Lawn was almost spine chillingly gorgeous.This summer has grown me, and made me realize that with the right attitude and focus, I am completely in charge of my own destiny. Along the way, I chatted up so many different people, of all ages, with different perspectives on life in the UK and Europe, that through their lenses, I also saw the world differently. From asking a young couple in McDonald’s about the expenses of life in London in Spanish, to meeting several tourists from Europe, everybody was enthusiastic about exploring a wondrous new place.

And Oxford. Where do I even begin? Each time I would walk around the Worcester campus, I almost had to pinch myself. Was this THE Oxford University I had heard of my entire life? It was a sensational feeling to be amidst an area that nurtured greatness. I have always maintained great respect for Oxford and Cambridge, but after witnessing Charles Darwin’s room, and colleges that were home to ex- Presidents and esteemed prime ministers, I understood the magnificence of these institutions. They breed leaders and thinkers who revolutionize the world. And to breathe the same air they once did, goodness gracious, the experience was phenomenal.

There were several points of learning on this trip, and to show how my life has been changed, I (in true IE fashion) made a numbered list to celebrate the new me:

  1. Learning to pack a 50+ pound suitcase every 3 days 7 times without losing anything!! This is a skill that should come in handy.
  2. Believing that I am in control of my own destiny and that I have power to make it happen! Living in foreign countries without family can really develop that fast.
  3. Becoming super independent about managing groceries, finances, and pretty much running a household of 1. It’s a start.
  4. Opening up to new experiences, unfamiliar faces, and fresh perspectives. We had to adapt and ‘set up shop’ everywhere we went, and this skill is so useful.
  5. Embracing challenges and treating them as games to win!

Thank you to the President’s Scholarship Program for providing me with the Fleet Scholarship to convert my dreams into reality this summer. I have gained tremendous perspective on this trip that will be channeled into Georgia Tech this Fall and beyond!

 

A Surprise Visitor! July 24, 2011

Posted by shinjinidas in Travel Log.
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My dad had some work in London this week, and he was free starting Thursday evening! So, what did he do? He came to visit me! We met after 7 weeks, or 49 days- just a note of reference, I haven’t been away for longer than probably a week or two at most, so this was definitely a welcome surprise! I am a complete and total Daddy’s Girl and we had such a fabulous time, definitely some of the most memorable moments spent together, no less in a city close to both of us, London!

On the first evening, we visited the Cambridge Theatre in central London to watch the famed musical ‘Chicago,’ which was pure perfection. The dance sequences, acting, and plot line were all so engaging, combined with the spot on performances, that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was a packed theatre, and this show is particularly popular, so we were glad at having watched it in London.

 

On Friday, we began with a brunch of battered cod, peas, and ‘chips.’ It was entirely delicious, and a typical British meal. We then visited the Kensington Palace Gardens, which was a beautiful and welcome relief from the buzz of city life surrounding all of us. It was utterly relaxing, with families and children all around feeding geese and watching swan glide through the water. My dad and I lay on the grass and just stared at the clear blue skies and spoke about how gorgeous this sight was, right in front of Kensington Palace, where the current Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were residing. After this relaxing stint, we walked on a beautiful path to Harrods, on the way catching the Royal Albert Theatre, and other iconic landmarks. While we had both visited Harrods before, this time, we had a special experience, as we ordered a strawberry tart, a praline, and kebabs, all of which were absolutely delicious and specifically made to order for Harrods. What a classy store! Definitely worth a first or maybe even second time visit.

Outside of Harrods, we also caught some amazing sights, primarily those of super fast and super top of the line cars, including a Porsche and a Bugatti. The display of wealth and splendor outside of Harrods was a spectacle, and we thoroughly enjoyed pointing and clicking pictures of these exotic cars in bright bold colors!

Afterwards, we strolled through Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square close to midnight, and marveled at how many people were outside at that hour! Nevertheless, we walked around and soon took the Oxford Tube back to Oxford. That was the end of a beautiful Friday- what I took from this day was that the moments we create with our loved ones are more special than the number of attractions we see or the number of hours we spend staring at something famous. The fact that my Dad had come all the way from Atlanta to be with me was in and of itself a very special experience and I will forever cherish the days we have spent together in London!

On Saturday, we began our day with a fabulous meal at Chutneys, an iconic Indian restaurant in Oxford, which boasts of the former President Clinton in its clientele. The food was a welcome Indian respite, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, albeit one dish was super spicy.

Then, we decided to board a Thames river cruise at Southbank, close to the point of boarding for the London Eye. This was a fabulous decision, as the entirety of the cruise was narrated, so not only did we learn a great deal about the history of London, but we also ventured quite far into the river, to see sights that were magnificent and gorgeous! We literally went under the Tower Bridge and saw its splendor and magnificent stature up close and personal! We also read an engraving of ‘London Bridge’ under the famous bridge. It was a breezy day, and we had gone in the evening. It was beautiful, and a cruise to remember!

Afterwards, we returned to Oxford, and were craving Thai food. So, we popped into a Thai restaurant very near Worchester College, and dove into our Singapore noodles and special fried rice. Needless to say, the food was delicious and the perfect capping to our time spent together. My dad had to leave at 4:00 am Sunday morning for his flight at 9:00 am back to the ATL!

I am going to miss having him here! But, exactly three weeks from today, and my epic trip is over too.

The moments we created shall always remain with me– we shared the most special experience of our trip thus far! Thank you Baba!

Reflections from London! July 24, 2011

Posted by shinjinidas in Travel Log.
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A city so crowded and fully bustling

with folks, left, right, and center, always hustling

 Strange sensations of comfort and belonging seep through my soul,

persuading me to follow my dreams, to pursue my goal

Which is to become an Industrial engineer and Public Speaker

a perfection seeker

I setting for nothing but the very best,

and wish to live life with a zest for the quest!

 

ITALIA: gelato, pizza, and more gelato! July 17, 2011

Posted by shinjinidas in Travel Log.
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Italy was a lovely lovely country. I had visited Rome last year and had in fact met a President’s Scholar, who later became my PSMP mentor, at the Colosseum of all places! Our first stop was Florence, and what a quaint and cultured city that was. With such a rich cultural and artistic history, I was ready to be mesmerized by the world renown art, sculptures, and monuments, and was I! The birthplace of the Renaissance, Florence was the emblem of artistic intellectualism, and I experienced the beauty of the city through museums, the Uffizi, Bargello, to name a few. Of course, this was where my love for gelato was reignited.

One of my most memorable times in Florence was watching the sunset at Piazza Michelangelo, with several other eager tourists, and Oxford group students during dusk. Not only did we catch an absolutely gorgeous sunset, but we also viewed an awe striking skyline of the entire city! The Duomo, the baptistry, and the cathedral were all peaking brightly for us, and it was a beautiful night and a beautiful sight, one I will cherish. After Florence was the historical and political behemoth, ROME!

This was my second trip to Rome, and I have to admit, I think I loved it more this time around. Witnessing such crucial and important monuments, like the Pantheon, Colosseum, and the Roman Forum, up close was just mind boggling! In fact, we even saw what is commonly believed to have been the burial place of Julius Caesar within the Roman forum ruins. So much history, Rome had the foundation of future civilizations within its grasp, and to witness and revel in that glory was just inspiring and awe striking. Moreover, Rome has a very exciting big city feel, while still remaining relatively easy to navigate through. It really strikes the perfect balance for tourists. Of course, I gorged on yet more pizza and pastas here, not to mention more gelato. My last night in Rome culminated with an utterly delicious meal of fettucini with sausage, cream, and mushrooms, whose taste I can still remember! It was an absolutely fabulous time, not to mention, my one year anniversary since I met a few GT President’s Scholars within the colosseum as a rising freshman. Time flies!

My last and most absolutely favorite destination in Italy was without a doubt VENICE! This city is very special for a number of reasons. First, it being completely built on water was a point of intrigue and fascination for me. Moreover, the city is unnaturally and unbelievably gorgeous! We arrived amidst a few showers, but were in for great weather afterwards. Although our hotel was a tad too small without any form of internet, we were situated in an amazing and a prime location, near several hotspots, including of course McDonald’s, from which we outsourced several hours of internet connection. I enjoyed every minute of walking and shopping in Venice- in the evenings, the weather would just be perfectly cool with a light breeze, and I would browse through murano glass jewelry shops and admire the beautiful craftsmanship of Venetian artists. There were a slew of shops and bustling restaurants on the strip of street our hotel was located on, and I thoroughly loved exploring each and every one of these quaint stores.

What’s more, the city has one main center stage canal, called the Great Canal, which was so interesting to see, as Venice has no cars, surprise, surprise! This was a peaceful and much welcome realization, as I thought the tourists and residents were so much at peace with walking everywhere. Although the water surrounding every inch of the pavements and walkways was an utterly gorgeous sight, at times, the stench was unbearable, as pollution and sewage affect the quality very much.

This city was also the one in which I bought the most souvenirs! I fell head over heels in love with the intricate murano glass bracelets, and bought 3 very delicately handcrafted ones, the first with ruby red colored crystals, the second with emerald green colored crystals, and the third with sapphire blue colored crystals. Of course, a trip to Italy would be incomplete without delicious food, so on the last night, I treated myself to a plate of penne pasta with crab, salmon, and shrimp! This was mind blowingly delicious, and I have vowed to visit Venice in the near future with my family. This was an unbelievably gorgeous city, and its spirit really connected with me in a very special almost indescribable way. By far, my most favorite city on this trip, Venice has now has carved a niche into my heart!

Vienna: more schnitzel please! June 18, 2011

Posted by shinjinidas in Travel Log.
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Welcome to my blog! I am so excited to share all of my experiences with friends and family back home. We landed in Vienna late evening on June 1st, exhausted but charged to explore the city! After a delicious dinner of schnitzel (which we later found out was pork and cheese with a breaded cover), vegetables, and potatoes, I ordered amazing strawberry cheesecake gelato, and slept peacefully, dreaming of all that lay ahead in the next 10 weeks.

My favorite destination in Vienna would have to be the Belvedere Palace. First of all, it is unbelievably gorgeous, sitting on grounds which include decorated tiered fountains, cascades, and majestic gallant sculptures and wrought iron gates. We were all floored staring and imagining the grandeur of the beauty. At one point, I even said that if we pool our euros, we could purchase a Viennese summer home like this in the future! Inside, I was fascinated by Monet’s works, and the splendor of the Upper and Lower Belvedere Palaces. We had quite a few photo sessions outside the palace, especially near the beautiful Belvedere gardens, which were manicured to perfection.

The most exciting part of our stay in Vienna was the free day we received on the Saturday before departure. Upon walking around the city, we came across an epic annual music festival including renown bands from Italy and beyond. So, there we were, standing in the scorching heat, with thousands of other Viennese men and women, watching uniformed and costumed performers, hearing the best of the best bands from around Italy and of course, Austria! That was a magical experience I shall not forget.

Vienna is such a modern gem, so industrialized and efficient, but still with Europe’s old world charm. I was definitely surprised, as I had thought it would be this quaint European city. Instead, gorgeous monuments peaked out from everywhere (they are all exquisitely built and exquisitely tall). We even looked inside a Viennese university, which had a brain trauma exposition going on!

Of course and Vienna was the city from which my love for

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margherita pizza began. What a simple but fabulous composition, tomato sauce and cheese, but what taste. I have gorged on too much pizza this trip, and Vienna was where it all began.

Vienna is definitely a city that shines. Each night, I would gaze outside of my windows which let me view the entire skyline of Vienna, so that I could trace the peaks and troughs of majestic buildings and cathedrals. What an utterly gorgeous sight!

Vienna lingered in my mind long after I had left, as I loved every second of my time there. What’s more, I spent my last night buying homemade tiramisu from a neighborhood bakery. It was absolutely scrumptious, no surprise.

Italy awaits…!

 

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