The adventure ends… for now.

So I’ve been home for a week now, but I’m just getting to updating this now. I wasn’t as active at this as I would have liked, but I think it will give me a better way at looking at it in years to come.

My summer abroad was definitely one of the greatest experiences of my life. Even if the weather sucked (and it did), I got to experience something I will never forget. I’m looking into a work abroad program for when I graduate, so hopefully I will do at least another four months in London.

To be honest, i think it took me a good four weeks to get used to it. When everyone else said they wanted to move to England, I thought they were crazy. But of course, once I finally started to learn to love it and stopped being homesick, it was time to go home. I miss everything about it so much. (except expenses and the lack of Dunkin Donuts). Mainly, I just loved being able to go out to a pub and meet someone from a different country every time. And the markets. And awesome baguette.

I’ve gotten used to American time and customs again (but I totally had a Post Tramatic Stress Disorder moment when a bird flew by my head and I thought it was going to fly into me or poop on me, like they do in London). Some basic things I figured out about myself I hope to take away from my experience, though. Things I knew I needed to work on anyway, but somehow being a million miles away makes it clearer. I need to spend more time with the people I care about and less time with technology. I also want to get exploring familiar neighborhoods more, and finding new things to discover.

I’ll still be updating this blog sporadically, if I miss London or if I have any other traveling adventures. If I do work abroad once I graduate, I plan to be better at updating this.

 

Cheers!

Seven Days Left in this Amazing City: Olympics and Last Minute Sight-Seeing

It’s been a really fast month, but I’m beginning to pack and get ready to come home. There is still SO MUCH MORE that I want to do.

This weekend I’m spending actually working on homework for my classes abroad and hopefully getting in some last-minute exploring. I’m also going to Brighton Beach for the day on Saturday and I’m really excited about it. Lianna and I are trying to go to a London goth club this weekend because they are supposedly awesome here, but I don’t know if it will happen. I also want to see We Will Rock You, if time permits and I can get tickets. And do some more shopping. before I go home and go completely broke.

I went to the Olympics on Monday, and it was quite possibly one of the coolest experiences of my life.

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I did a tour of the Olympic Park a few weeks ago and it was crazy to go from seeing the absolute ghost town to seeing it with about 100,000 people there. We saw women’s handball Brazil vs. Montenegro and then Norway vs. Sweden. I didn’t know a whole lot about handball, other than we played it in gym class and I seriously hated it. But seeing it live was AWESOME. The sport is so violent (which of course I love) and intense.

I’m usually not a big fan when the Olympics come on TV, but seeing it live was a whole other experience. I loved the energy of the crowd and how much people really get into supporting their country.

Other than that, this week has mostly been busy with school and lectures, rather than our field trips.

When I go home, I think I am going to have a different view of the world. I see I’m too dependent on technology and I need to spend less of my time stressing about work and more on things that are actually important to me. It’s strange how just spending a month in a country that isn’t that different from the US is such a growing experience.

Busy Busy Busy

So only about two more weeks left in London. It’s pretty depressing although in some ways it will be nice to go home. I’ve been pretty homesick lately. Something I wasn’t expecting since I barely come home when I’m at school anyway. I’m also pretty excited to sleep in my own bed when I get home.

I think part of the problem is that there has been so much going on, london and elsewhere, that it’s really hard to take it all in. But then, I dont want to miss anything so I keep pushing myself until I’m feeling really drained. I also don’t want to ruin anyone elses experience but I feel like a joy kill a lot of the time, so I end up keeping to myself.  Plus, I’m really sick and don’t know if I should be resting and trying to get better or *enjoying the London experience* or whatever.

Regardless of a few bumps in the road and being the perpetual Debbie Downer, I am actually having a good time overall. I went out on Monday night with Lianna, Steff and this British guy we met, Alex. He took us to some of his favorite local pubs. They were pretty dead for a Monday night but they were actually pretty cool places. For the first time since I’ve been here, I actually forgot where I was and got to feel “at home” for a while. I had a lot of fun even though it was a pretty simple night out.

The weather has been in the 80s, with literally no clouds in the sky, which feels wonderful. At least it’s not raining all of the time anymore. I think the weather definitely helps brighten my spirits.

So since it’s been a while since I updated, a little run through of what my week has been like. Paris was seriously fantastic and could beat Toronto for my favorite city that I have ever been to. Pretty much all of my friends that have gone there have hated it, called it dirty, etc, but I really LOVED it. Even though I almost got pick pocketed (but that’s another story) the city and music scene are beautiful. Next time I go I really want to go to a jazz club there and get to experience more of that. In addition, I still really need to see the Eiffel Tower at night. Apparently, as the girls I went with found it, it gets *turned off* after 1 am, so none of us got to see it. I also understand why it’s considered the most romantic city. if I have a soul mate, he will one day take me to Paris.

We also finally got to see Abbey Road! It was a little anticlimactic (kind of like Stonehenge… oh it’s a road). but I got my obligatory pictures. There was also a while behind it where people signed their names. Still, it’s pretty much a pilgramage for every music fan to see once in their lives so I’m glad I finally got to do it. It’s such a strange feeling to see all of these places I’ve dreamed about my whole life. It’s amazing really.

Today we also got to tour the BBC, which was really awesome. And made me want to be a journalist even more.

Other than that, I’m taking it easy tonight. I leave for Amsterdam tomorrow, so this weekend is going to be pretty awesome. I’m also hoping I can get scheduled for a doctor’s appointment tonight but my insurance company hasn’t called me back yet so I don’t know how likely that is.

Anyway, hopefully will have another update soon! I keep forgetting I’m going to the Olympics Monday. Another awesome thing crossed off my bucket list.

Post-Stonehenge, Pre-Paris

Just a quick update before I pass out. I’m coming down with a sinus infection (of course, right before I go to Paris) so I’m doing my best to fight it off. I’m on three different types of medications right now and sleeping about ten hours a day, so hopefully something does the trick.

I’ve really been having a lot of fun so far. There have been some ups and downs, but overall I think this trip will be one that I can always remember. I love walking around and visiting different markets. Today we went to Brick Lane, a big Middle-Eastern community and ate at this seriously awesome Pakistani restaurant. We then went to the local market. It’s also a really trendy hipster area, so there were a bunch of fashion boutiques. (Totally revamping my entire wardrobe when I get home. Everyone here dresses so awesome and judges people who look like bums. At least in my mind they do.)

Other than that, today was pretty quiet. I visited Stonehenge and Bath this weekend, which was fantastic.

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[As you can see, I look super excited}.

Maybe because I’ve been wanting to go there for so long. But it was kind of anti-climactic. it looks… pretty much like it does in every photo I’ve seen. Its cool and awesome how they got there in everything. But at the end of the day, it was rocks. But really cool rocks.

We also went to Bath. Which was basically just like any beach resort town in the states .. except you know, used by Romans and having a natural hot springs. It was a really cute little city and I was pretty suprised to find out people live there all year long.

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[Bath from the road}

Other than that, this week we went to the Globe. Shakespeare wrote most of his plays to be performed in there, so it’s a pretty cool part of history (of course, it burnt down and they have rebuilt it since then but it’s pretty much an exact replica). We bought tickets to see Taming of the Shrew in there. Granted they are standing room tickets so we will be standing for four hours and there is no roof and it will rain, but it will be totally worth it.

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Anyway, that’s about it for the past few days. I leave for Paris on Friday, so I will have a lot more to write about then!

Exploring London Continues

The past few days have been a lot less stressful, mainly because I’m starting to run out of money so I have just been going on the class trips and taking it easy otherwise. This weekend we are going to Stonehenge (on Friday the 13th, no less) and Bath, which I am super excited about. I really just want to get outside the city and see some nature again.

Class is mostly guest speakers and field trips (which is pretty awesome) and the assignments are pretty easy (a blog post and a photo essay), so I’m not super worried about that. We had a guy come in yesterday to talk about his work at the BBC and what it has been like for him to work all over the world.

On Tuesday we went to Olympic Park, to see where the Olympics are going to be at. Surprisingly, it’s a really run down part of the city. They’re hoping that having the Olympics there will improve economics and create jobs. However, the tour guide told us that most other Olympic Parks have been neglected and are just eyesores in the city. So hopefully the London one will be different, considering a lot of people were forced to leave their homes so the city could build it.

We also went to the Prime Meridian line so I got to stand in two hemispheres at once. Pretty cool.

Today, we went to the British Library and saw original manuscripts of the Bible, Beatles’ songs and Handle’s Messiah. We’re also going to see a play tonight… 39 steps. Which I have seen before and hated it, so hopefully the traditional English version will be a lot better.

Anyway, just a brief update. Hopefully after Stonehedge I will have a longer one.

 

A few Photos of London, thus far

Life changing.

So while I temporarily have working internet, here are some pictures of my trip thus far. We visited Camden Market today, which is basically South Street Philly on crack. Definitely want to go back and buy a million different things before I leave.

oh yeah, and then a bird pooped on my head and threw food at me…

And yeah. So here are some other pictures of my trip this far:

 

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Accidental taxi rides and technology woes

So, I planned to update this every other day or so but the whirlwind of things going on have made it near impossible. I finally have some free time to update this this weekend.

 I have no idea what it is about London that makes all of my technology go to hell, but literally nothing seems to be working. Since I’ve been here, my phone self destructed, my credit card is no longer usable and gets declined and my computer refuses to connect to the Internet. If it werent for my IPad I would be pretty screwed. I’ve also been spending wayy too much money in the last few days and I’m trying really hard to cut that down. 

But on the bright side, I finally got my international phone! Which already works a lot better than tmobile ever did.

But I’m finally starting to really enjoy London at least, even with all of the various things that have gone wrong. We went to the Tower of London yesterday , which was a really cool and historical place where much of the famou beheadings throughout history have happened. I would have some super exciting pictures ( if my computer was still working).

After that we intended to find this art museum, but ended up stumbling across the Borough Market! It was this sweet little market of every food imaginable , from Hundreds of little vendors. As silly as it sounds, I finally felt connected to London and excited about any other little thing I could find in my adventures.

Oh and that’s another thing… I don’t get why people complain about food here so much. I’ve mostly been sticking to Indian and Italian food, but everything I’ve eaten has seriously been awesome. They also make prepackaged fresh meals at the grocery store.. Like pasta, amazing sandwiches ,  fruit, veggies, etc sell them for s pound or so. It’s so college friendly  and also means that I don’t have to cook and can actually eat pretty healthy. 

So after Borough Market, I ended up going to the “ice bar”, a bar where everything, including cups , is made out of ice. The bar is freezing and you’re only allowed in for 45 minutes, but it was seriously awesome . After the bar, I started to get really sick ( no, I wasn’t drunk. I got really bad stomach pains out of nowhere) so I ended up leaving the night early.

Now a normal person would have been able to find their way home. But I am not a normal person. The tube had just closed and I couldn’t figure out the bus schedule for the life of me. I considered taking a cab, and after trying my best to take a bus, I missed getting hit by one by a couple of centimeters. So I figured a cab was m best option.

An attractive man on a bicycle cab saw my predicament and offered to drive me back for 20 pounds, and said that a normal can would drive me for 25. Since I had no other clue where to go, I took him up on his offer. 

I’ve totally always wanted to ride one of those and during it, I decided it was a good decision. I mean… How many people get to ride on the back of a bicycle, while an attractive man rides them through downtown London?

And he drove me, the fare suddenly changed to 30 pounds. And I paid him, because frankly, I was tired, not feeling well and I wasn’t in the mood to argue with him. I’m still mad about spending that money, but the ride was still a lot of fun.

And yea, that’s been my adventures so far. I might take it easy today so I don’t have to spend any money. Ps- sorry about typos. Autocorrect doesn’t make writing blogs easy

Day two in London

Well, it’s officially my first full day in London. I arrived safely yesterday morning, with exception of some issues getting 100 pounds of luggage on the tube to my apartment, and then getting said luggage up four flights of stairs, everything went pretty well. Oh yeah, and somehow managing to break my phone although I’m still not even sure what happened to it. I’m in denial right now though and hid it in the back of my closet so I don’t have to think about having to buy a new one.

No pictures yet though because my computer Is also being stupid and won’t connect to wifi.   The part of London that we’re staying in is very high class, and everyone has all these amazing outfits. Seriously, my nice clothes in the US look like total trash here. As far as girls who wear sweatpants out- that would be unheard of here.

I think I’m having some trouble getting used to everything here. Partly because of some real life issues right before leaving and then entering a totally new country. It has really been a lot to take it and I’m still kind of overwhelmed at it all. I have to keep reminding myself that I felt the same way in El Salvador at first though, and had a great time there after few days. I think I’ll feel better once I have a phone and my computer working too.

We made a trip downtown with the other students and igot out of the subway. I wasn’t positive where we were going. Lianna told me to look up and I realized I was standing next to Big Ben…. Yeah. And that was when where I am really hit me and I suddenly felt about a million times better. Seeing it was seriously a spiritual experience for me… Like, I’ve wanted to come here my entire life and it was finally happening.

We also saw Buckingham And Harrads today. Harrads was seriously overwhelming, but I definitely think I want to come back and spend just a few hours looking around.

I haven’t had much of a culinary experience so far but food is actually rather cheap and has been really really good. I’ve been eating one big meal a day (dinner) and like a granola bar… Which is really not working out… But anyway , I got this great take-out Indian food for six pounds and we got baguettes with chicken on it for literally ONE POUND. They’re only available after 6 PM though but I feel like this will become a daily occurrence.

Anyway, I’m going to relax for a bit. We’re going out for fourt of July tonight … Should be an experience in London lol

T-minus (a couple of days) and T-mobile (really sucks)

So I don’t want to calculate exactly how many days I have left lol because that is overwhelming right now, but I leave Monday night so you can figure it out if you so desire. I am in denial, so I would rather not know.

REGARDLESS I leave very very soon and am by no means prepared. I was pretty productive yesterday by getting a bunch of little things done so I don’t have to worry about any of it while I’m in London. Yet, somehow more and more keeps getting added on. I had to call T-mobile today to try to make a cheaper plan for me out there or if I can decrease my texting and data when I’m in England, but as with everything T-mobile, the conversation took a half hour and after the guy promising me that he could help me out… No dice.  But I am not going into my T-mobile rant right now, I swear.I’m still not sure if I want to buy another phone when I’m over there. I can text and make phone calls through my I-pad, so I might just carry around my phone during the day, try to resist using it, and make I-pad calls at night.

Such white people problems.

Anyway, I’m sure the next couple of days are going to fly by. I’ve started saying my last goodbyes with friends and hopefully will have a get together with a few more of them on Sunday… But really, five weeks is not going to be a very long time.

My other main concern right now is about money. Travelex (basically an international debit card that converts your money and you can use pretty much anywhere) kind of ripped me off with their fees and my 1000 dollars that I put into it is worth next to nothing. My mom is going to help me out when I’m there but I’m still not sure how much I should be spending and I really feel bad taking all of her money. But if I use all of my own money, we calculated that I have the equivilant of 20 dollars a day to spend on everything. Yeah… I can buy about one meal a day and nothing else. That’s going to work out.

Just a few more days. Still doesn’t feel real. I swear this blog will be a lot more exciting when I actually leave. More pictures, less ranting.

One month and two days until departure date…

So at my boyfriend Mooselicker‘s nagging, I have created a blog to feature all of my traveling adventures. I’m studying abroad in London this summer and want to have a pretty good timeline of everything that happens. It’s mostly for friends, who I know will be interested in the trip, and family, who I refuse to add on facebook but can still find out about everything. And this way I don’t have to answer the same question 500 times, as people will (theoretically) be keeping up with the blog

Anyway, feel free to follow and keep up with my adventures. I’ll be visiting London, the Netherlands, and Paris, as well as any other place I can afford to travel to. I plan to go to concerts, festivals, and the Olympics while I’m abroad, in addition to experiencing everything possible. So yeah, that’s about it so far. The updates will be spread out until I get up to my final days in America, and then hopefully I will start updating every other day or so.

I’m currently in preparation for my trip, but I have a TON of packing to do and things to sort out. But really, I can’t wait. It’s going to be a pretty crazy summer.