Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Grind.

Back in Cambridge after a whirlwind trip home. Although it was pretty exhausting, both mentally and physically, the unexpected joy of seeing 100% of my mom's immediate/extended family was pretty great. After the grueling study schedule I'd been keeping, an escape was both needed and welcome. The more time I spend with my family, the more I realise how awesome they are. Their presence was just what I needed.

The only issue was the state I found myself in after arriving back in Cam yesterday. Running on who knows how little sleep, the transition from being surrounded by 20+ loving relatives to being back alone in my room with nothing but impending exams to keep me company was tough. I went to bed at 8pm yesterday (English time - my body is so confused..) and feel better after a good solid sleep. For the past few weeks I've been so stressed falling asleep has been tough, even though I've been sleepy. I think it all finally caught up with me. I also had my last lectures of term, and thus, of my undergraduate career. A pretty bizarre concept really.

Now all that's left are the exams themselves! Yay. I have my Arabic listening exam tomorrow afternoon, and Arabic speaking/conversation on Friday afternoon. I'm pretty nervous, but at this point there's not much else to be done. The benefit and drawback of language learning is that cramming doesn't help much. There is always a bit of extra vocab to learn, but again you can only stuff so much in your brain.

For now I'm sitting back, doing a bit of light reading about the 'Abbasid caliphate, and planning on another early night. Tomorrow I'll do some more revision, and spend the day with BBC Arabic in the background - looking forward to 5pm tomorrow when I can take my new running shoes on a spin around Cambridge! (more on them later, but as a teaser - they're bright blue!) Tasty Kakes and tea are sustaining me, as is the thought that all of this will be over in less than three weeks. Totally doable, right?

This sounds really grim - I'm sorry! Things are not as bleak as this post makes them seem. Positive things: my parents sent me back with a suitcase full of food. And I mean literally full. American staples like Reese's Cups, Tasty Kakes, Peanut Butter Puffins, Sunflower Butter, M&M's, Love Grown Granola, Luna Bars, chocolate from the one and only Abington Pharmacy which has been a family staple for years, etc.

Plus, our trip to Philly included not only much needed family time but some delicious eats! First of all cheesesteak, of course from the classic destination, Jim's.

On Saturday we took the entire family to Ralph's - our family's traditional gathering place in South Philly. We've been coming here for as long as I can remember, but I'm not sure we've ever made it with all the aunts, uncles, and cousins at once.

We are many..

A toast, to an incredible group of relatives!

Followed by incredible eats - the classic mussels in red sauce -

I tried Chicken Sorrento for the first time, and man it was good - drenched in cheese, butter and white wine cream sauce. Om nom nom.

Some more tasty things..

And finally.. a cannoli. Apologies for the horrific photo, light was getting bad this late into the meal :)

Driving through Center City/South Philly is always fun too.

On Sunday the parents and I set out to do a little more exploring in South Philly. I was feeling pretty awful - tired and hungry, but the aforementioned cheesesteak cleared things up. Plus this guy made me smile.

We explored the old part of the city, which I loved. History nerd! :)

We visited a convenient store to stock up on the goods - Tasty Kakes! A Philadelphia staple.

I was equally excited to finally get to try the craze that seems to be everywhere in America, but no where in England - frozen yoghurt!

This was A.mazing. Cake batter, chocolate, peanut butter cup, and watermelon flavour yoghurt; chocolate chips, raspberries, mango, peanut butter chips, gummie bears, reese's cups, and more that got buried on top. So amazing.

Overall, not a bad way to spend a few days in the middle of Cambridge exam term, if I do say so..