Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sick Day(s)

Okay, okay, so before you give me a hard time for not posting in over a week I would just like to tell to take it easy. I just got over the flu, like, yesterday. Heckle me now, I dare you. That’s what I thought. It is hard to be mean to a girl who just got over the flu she contracted in a foreign country. I even had to go home sick from school (anyone who knows me knows how devastating that is). In less than a month I’ve had both a terrible cold and the flu. I have quickly become the originator of viral plague in my flat. Did I mention how much all of them love me?

However, I fought being sick and still tried to pretend I was fine, which didn’t actually work out as well as it did in my mind. I went to Brick Lane (this really cool Indian district) on Friday night and the most delicious grilled tandoori ever. Then, we went to Camden on Saturday. This place was amazing and funky and really cool and had some of the coolest stuff I’ve seen in London. There was even an entire stall dedicated to Big Band Theory stuff so, naturally, I was geeking out. Image Camden is essentially this huge outdoor market with food, clothes, tattoo parlors and people from literally every walk of life. Incredible.

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(the wall with the dragon tattoo…)

On Monday I went on a tour of Westminster and Parliament, including both the house of lord and the house of commons. It was so cool!!!! I got to see MPs, or member of parliament if you aren’t up on your British jargon, and basically learn all about the governing system of the UK. I even saw how to get to David Cameron’s office, where they vote and the thrown of the queen when she comes to open parliament. There were no pictures allowed on the inside, but I got some more lovely shots of my dear friend Ben. Image

Well that’s all for now. Just in case you were wondering, I was finally healed by Tuesday. Which is good because I was really sick of being sick. I guess laying in bed and being lazy will do that for you. Turns out all I needed was a weekend in London, funny tasting Jamaican Ginger Root soda, and a really bad chick flick to get over the flu.  Feel free to use this exact and precise prescription the next time you feel under the weather, doctors orders.

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Rocks Really Do Rock

Guess what I did this weekend?

Okay, I’ll give you a hint:

 

That’s right, STONEHENGE. I thought this would just be a bunch of rocks in  the middle of a field which it sort of was. However, it was actually a lot of fun! That morning was absolutely freezing, but totally worth it. The location of Stonehenge is really funny because it out in the middle of this field surrounded by sheep that are just wandering around. I took an obscene amount of pictures which I will promptly show you as well as stocked up on some postcards (just in case I don’t like how they turn out).

(Shown to scale…just kidding. I’m not really 15 feet tall.)

After Stonehenge, we went to Bath, so named because it is home to a natural hot water spring that was discovered during the time of Roman occupation and turned into a Roman Bath. I know exactly the conditions under which a a spring like this forms, thank you geology and Dr. Flood. If you are insatiably curious let me know and I’ll give you a play by play of exactly what happens.

Whaddya know, I guess rocks really do rock.

(This also doubles as a lame joke about Stonehenge just in case you didn’t already see what I did there. I’m a sucker for lame jokes. I’ll go ahead and apologize upfront for any future terrible jokes.)

The water had a high content of iron in it and, at first glance it kind of looks like a pumpkin spice latte because of how bright orange it is (yes, that was a Starbucks reference). I got to drink some of the warm water before I left, which is similar to what I imagine licking a piece of metal is like. Needless to say, I had one sip and was done with my cup of water.

Yum!

For lunch, we went to this cool place called Sally Lunn’s, which is the home of the Sally Lunn Bun. In other word’s quite possibly the most delicious thing I have ever tasted. If any of you come visit me, I’ll take you there…but come hungry because these buns are absolutely massive.

I really loved Bath! I saw where Jane Austen lived, had the best bun of my life and had a really great time exploring this beautiful city! I would really love to go back because an afternoon wasn’t enough. I ended the day with a really fantastic cup of hot chocolate.

Well, it’s time for bed here. Night!

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Westminster and a Really Tall Clock Named Ben….

Hello!

Sorry for the lack of recent posts, but as of late my life has been very busy. I have an oral presentation to do tomorrow and a lot of reading and paper writing to get started. I had always heard studying abroad was really easy and you had much less homework than at St. Norbert. False. I have just as much, but at least I really enjoy my classes and professors.

Also, here are some more pictures of my flat…

           

(the kitchen and part of the living room)

Last Thursday, the SNC girls (Megan, Michelle, Kayla and I) went on  a tour of Westminster Abbey and walked around the parliament building. We didn’t go inside because we have a free tour coming up through FIE and saving money is great. The inside of the abbey is literally “drop-your-jaw-on-the-marble-floor-in-awe” gorgeous. We got free audio tour guides that walk you through every part of the Abbey. My favorite part was Poet’s Corner, which contained Lewis Carroll, Rudyard Kipling, Jane Austen and a memorial to William Shakespeare. Also, there were so many amazing memorials and elaborate coffins of past royals or important historical figures! Yes, this sounds morbid, but they are so ornate and beautiful you almost forget that what is actually inside. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures so I did what any other normal person would do: buy literally 15 postcards to make up for the lack of photos and to show all of you back in the states. You are welcome in advance (I’m not kidding about the jaw dropping).

Here are some pictures of the outside and of Westminster…..

  

If you happened to be in London that day and saw a really weird girl who wouldn’t stop taking pictures and pretending she was a photographer, that was me. I know this is a lot more pictures and a lot less words than normal, but I guess pictures worth a thousand words right?

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Getting lost, classes and lots and lots of tea…

Okay so before you get worried I got lost I would just like to tell you I did not actually get completely lost. My friends and I just went exploring in the center of london and we didn’t exactly know where we were 100% of the time. This led to some really amazing discoveries:

1) I now know how to use the tube. Sweet.

2) We found Trafalgar (as in the Battle of Trafalgar) square and the clock that counts down to the olympics!

3) We saw THE most amazing art museum.

4) I got some pretty cool tea mugs.

We found “The National Gallery” and saw some of the greatest artwork I have ever seen. We saw Picasso, Monet and Degas. *sigh* It was beautiful!! I saw this picture…

(picasso)

and this one…

(Degas)

and this one…

(Monet)

Amazing, right?

I also started classes this week. I like my first two I have had, but the three hour time blocks are killing me. My classes are Peace and Conflict Resolution, British Life and Cultures and Understanding Civilizations: Islam and the West. Did I mention that I get to go to Turkey for 3 days as part of my last class? Sometimes my life is just so hard. =)

Before coming to the UK, I assumed that the whole tea thing was kind of a myth, but as I have learned the English do not mess around about tea. I am trying to go to a real afternoon tea soon, but I guess my box of Twinning’s with simply have to suffice until then. Also, tea here is delicious. Ask literally any of my friends and they will tell you what a crazy tea lady I am. However, being set loose in a country that has a daily allotment of time towards drinking tea is like finding my mothership. Just in case you were wondering, I still literally geek out at every single historical thing I see. With all the history and tea that are present, I obviously feel right at home.

Well, I had breakfast, did some homework and am going to get ready for class soon.

Hmm…maybe another cuppa tea first? Cheers!!

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Day Three:We to…

Day Three:

We took a Bus tour this morning around South London.

Fun fact: London is actually multiple cities that have sort-of grown together over time.

So, we saw the cities of Westminster and the actual city of London. London refers to about a one mile radius that is full of offices and is essentially a business district similar to Wall street. I have have another trivia tidbit for you: to enter this city of london, the queen has to stop her car, get out, meet the mayor who gives her the pearl sword that she then gives back. Then, the mayor walks into the city with the sword in front of him signifying that the queen is under his protection. This still happens today and the most recent time was about five years ago. Wow!

Westminster is contains Parliament, Westminster Abbey (duh), Big Ben, the clocktower (more on this in a minute), the Tower of London, the London Eye and many more sights that are typically on postcards come up first in google image searches. It also has a lot of really nice, or “smart” as our tour guide kept saying, shopping districts that even include Harrod’s. If you don’t know what that is look it up and thank me later. It is essentially the world’s nicest and possibly one of the largest department stores. Your welcome =)

We then went on a two hour walking tour of the royal burrow of Chelsea and Kensington, or where I live!! It’s called a royal burrow because it contains a royal residence…in this case Kensington Palace. If that sounds familiar it is because sometime in the next year William and Kate are moving in. Maybe I could be on the welcoming committee? 

Bus tour photos…

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We saw so much Victorian history! The Albert Concert hall, his memorial monument, the original site of the Chrystal Palace and so many other things. As a history major who has just taken a course on victorian history, I was of course geeking out over every museum and statue we came across. It was so cool thinking about all that they accomplished for England during the Victorian Era. I was talking to our tour guide and asking her so many questions I couldn’t tell if she was annoyed or interested in the fact that I had so. many. questions. Whatever. I love to learn. It. was. awesome.

 

We also did some more exploring of Hyde Park, Kensington Garden’s and all the back alley’s and side streets off of High Kensington. Needless to say, I’m moving here. It’s lovely. I think what most amazes me about London is that you literally run into history. In America, you either have to really look for it or it is all fairly recent. Here, it is EVERYWHERE. Walk down any given street and you will run into buildings older than our country. All the palaces, sights and building are full of so many stories and so much history it really reminds me how much I love history. And know you are probably wondering how after such a long day I have the energy to write such a long post. My secret is part OCD, part dedication, part crazy exhaustion and part tea. After all, I am in London.

 

 

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January 8, 2012 · 11:35 am

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January 8, 2012 · 11:02 am

Fish & Chips and Other Adventures

My second day here was amazing! I finally got a decent cellphone (my first one was a total waste of time and money), changed my pin so I could get money and really got to explore. I also had my first English fish & chips with cider (fermented apple cider). It was delicious! It is now the second most popular dish in the country, right behind curry.

 

Fun facts I learned today:

1) Pepper spray is considered a firearm in England

2) The police do not carry guns because guns are illegal and they do not want to encourage them

3) British English and American English are not the same thing

For example if you can “pass the rubber” in England that means “pass the eraser.” Definitely  not the same thing in America. Also, if you say you spilled something on your pants, pants means underwear here so people will ask you not to share what is on them. There are a lot more but they are all very subtle. It is really funny how hard it is to understand some Brits even though we both speak English.

We went exploring on Kensington High Street ( a very nice shopping district) which was very cool!

Anyways, it’s getting late and I need to get some sleep. Cheers!

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The First Day

First off, I LOVE LONDON. However, the first day was quite an experience. I got a total of 45 minutes of sleep on one of the most turbulent flights of my entire life. We got through customs no problem and met another girl in FIE so we split a cab three ways. Driving in London is nothing at all like driving on in the states. Our driver was fast, fearless and not going to stop for anything. We avoided main traffic which caused him to get lost and caused our fee to be almost 90 pounds. Crazy!! I felt a little bit homesick but I get that way when I haven’t slept at all. Overall, not too bad.

We got to our apartment around 9:00 in the morning (British time) and about 3:00 u.s time. I have a single room that at first glance was really depressing. I made sure I put up pictures, cards from friends and some other stuff on the wall to feel a little bit less depressing. I forgot a towel and hairdryer, so I had to go make a run for those. Other than that all our apartment needs now are groceries!

 

I have very cool flatmates. There are ten in all (two boys and eight girls). We are from Illinois, D.C., New York, and Wisconsin so we are a pretty diverse group. We get along great which really makes the transition easier.

We spent all day from 10:00 to after 4:00 just running around from Mansion place to Foundation House to Metrogate (all the FIE buildings) and I was completely exhausted after not really sleeping for over 24 hours. I skyped with my sister, got diner at a cool French place named Pret, had a meeting and was in bed by 9:00. Pretty laid back, but it was a really great first day.

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