Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Castle on the Rock

Edinburgh Castle, with the sign of our hostel just visible
Here is some writing I did at a recent CUWP Workshop. We were assigned to write about our best vacation, then we turned and paired and shared, and our partner suggested something we could expand on and explain more. This is a peer review technique where after reading a peer's paper, the student reviewer generates a list of questions she has about the topic. The writer takes the list and considers them, adding and updating his paper as needed. The section in blue is what I added after my pair/share partner asked me to explain what in the heck was a youth hostel.

Well, my best vacation ever, hands down, would have to be last year's trip to England and Scotland with my husband and best friend, Mark. We have wanted to go to England for years, and we finally decided to just go for it. One fun thing about it was that we alternated between really nice destinations and funky destinations, and so we stayed in 5 star hotels and youth hostels (sharing bathrooms with teenagers) on the same trip. 
What The Castle on the Rock Youth Hostel looks like from the front

One particular hostel we stayed in was situated directly below Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh castle is an imposing structure situated directly on a giant rock. We would walk out of our hostel, look up, and there was this amazing structure.

Youth hostels are a cross between extremely low budget hotels and college dormitories. You pay for the use of a bed (bedding is extra). They generally have a giant common area and even a kitchen you can use if you want to. There is only one bathroom for all the people who are there, male and female (the showers and toilets, of course, are private). So, everyone is using the same bathroom, and you may be shaving next to a 15 year old who is putting on all his Goth, complete with liner and piercings. This disconcerted my husband a bit. 
The front desk where we checked in every night
Luckily for us, though, we didn't have to sleep dormitory style; for a little bit extra we had a private room with one double bed and a sink. The room was called Antony and Cleopatra. We had to get the desk service person to buzz us into the hostel every night, and when he did, he would say, "Oh yes, it's Antony and Cleopatra."
The funky staircase, complete with Knight in Shining Armor

We also went carless and depended on our feet, taxis, trains, buses, and the underground for all of our transportation, which was an adventure in and of itself. We also had those fun little challenges that always make our vacations memorable, such as rain every single day except one—so much rain that the train we were traveling on from Edinburgh to London was washed out and we had an entire day of rain delay.  Oh, what a fun vacation it was.

So...I felt like it was a better mini-write with the addition, and I tried this with some success with my students. Some of them had some problems coming up with questions, but I think that is probably one of the best parts of this...both reviewer and writer have to do a little thinking.
What the common room looked like pretty much everyday we were there (minus the sun)

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