The Weekender

Everything you’ve heard about the workload while studying abroad is true.  That is, it’s pretty easy.  Here, one doesn’t get all of those piddly little assignments they seem to enjoy giving so much in the states.  There is typically just one large midterm paper, and the final.  But here’s the problem: whether by accident or intention (and I’m leaning towards intention), all of these papers are due at the exact same time.  After a pretty relaxing month, during which the most I’ve had to do is some light reading, I now find myself with two papers due next week, and another due the week after that.

So naturally, rather than spending this weekend cooped up in the library, frantically working, I am sitting outside typing this, enjoying sunny, 80 degree weather.  No, Edinburgh is not experiencing a temporary heat wave – I’m uh, in Cyprus.  And really, can you blame me?  One of the best things about studying in the UK is the proximity to all these really great places.  Travelling here is cheap and easy; an hour and a five pound ticket (if you can find a good deal on Ryan Air), and you’re in London, Paris, or Berlin.  Just a warning: they’ll probably charge you an extra 50 pounds if you try and bring anything over than 5 kilos of luggage.  Luckily, I have family and friends all over the world, which means I’ll be doing a lot of travelling while I’m here.  My workload is just going to have to get used to it.

I went to Cyprus because my father, who is Greek-Cypriote, was giving a violin concert.  Also, I was sick of the cold and rain in Edinburgh.  I arrived on Friday after a long day of travelling and several delayed planes.  The next day, we all set off for the Northern, Turkish side of Cyprus, which is where the concert would be held.  We decided to stay in a lovely hotel near the venue for the concert; this way, we wouldn’t have to worry about driving all the way home after the concert, especially since there was an epic, celebratory dinner planned.

The concert was held in a magnificent old Abbey, called Bellapaise, which was originally built in something like the 13th century.  The amazing structure was perched on the side of a hilltop, providing incredible views of the towns and sea below.  The sturdy walls and high archways made me think of all the people who must have passed through them over the centuries; it’s amazing, what endures.

The concert itself was a huge success; they sold over 250 tickets and all of the chairs were packed.  If I may get sappy for a moment: I’ve never actually heard my dad in concert before, and he is incredible.  I was so proud.  Afterwards, everyone who helped organize the event went out to dinner.  I was assured that this was the best fish restaurant in all of Cyprus, a claim I’m pretty sure is true.  We started with the traditional mezze, a sequence of “starter” dishes like hummus, salad, grilled haloumi (one of the best cheeses ever), calamari, potatoes….the average, non-Cypriote stomach would full after eating of all this food.  A genetic mutation makes it possible for us to keep eating.  Then came the fish, a large Grouper that had been covered with salt and baked for something like 8 hours.  The salt provided a thick, outer shell that had to be chiseled off to reveal the succulent, perfectly cooked fish underneath.  After this, we finally had dessert, which was a variation of baklava (most Greek desserts contain nuts, honey, and pastry).  By the time we finished eating, it was 2 in the morning.  Exhausted, I fell into bed back at the hotel.  Apparently, my dad and his friends kept partying until 4 in the morning.  Typical.

The next morning we had a large breakfast and then I had a swim in the lovely outdoor pool.  Normally I am the grandma at the beach: I slather on SPF 45 and then sit under an umbrella, fully clothed.  But I was craving the sun I had missed in Edinburgh, and instead lay out on one of the lounge chairs, completely exposed to the noon sun.

Okay, now it’s really time to get started on those papers.