Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Little Things

People always tell you to appreciate the little things in life and we forget to, until we really need them.
Right now I appreciate that at home I
-had a fully stocked medicine cabinet
-was able to drive to the store and buy medicine
-had a clue what type of medicine I need

Lets just say, being sick in another country is a bit of a struggle. And its not like I am in a 3rd world country! The only thing worse than being sick in bed all weekend is being sick in bed while LONDON is right outside the door.

The language/cultural difference here has been a bit more than I was expecting. Nothing too crazy, but they just have different words for different meds. Like if you are looking for Tums, you need to look for Rennie. And I have yet to see a DayQuil or NyQuil. I have also been watching some British TV and that on top of my teachers, well sometimes I just can't understand a darn word they are saying...and they are speaking English!!
Funny, really.

Anywho, since I have had no energy, there is not much to report, so here are just a few pics from the moments I managed to last a few hours outside my room.

Would this dress make my hips look fat?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Borough Market, Tower of London & More!

Nothing toooo exciting happening here. Well thats what I kept thinking which made me put off blogging and now I feel like I am going to have a long winded post. Here goes.

Saturday morning some of us went to Borough Market, a HUGE outdoor market with so many types of food. It was perfect for a broke person (ala moi) because we just sampled the most delicious breads, cheeses, olive oils and more! It was hard not to buy anything because money out faster than I can blink.

After, we went with our program to tour the Tower of London. What amazing history England has. I love it. I learned so much about the tower, its inhabitants, King Henry VIII, armor, crown jewels (which were insane!) and more. We even saw carvings from the prisoners that were once held prisoner while awaiting death.

Sunday I planned to go running around the parks but I woke up around 10 and it was raining, so I proceeded to stay in bed...all day....watching movies.

Monday I had my first class at 10am at the farthest campus and it took me about 30min on the tube to get out there. Once I got off I was soo lost. I started walking around a park, then towards a hospital and finally I saw a group of fashionably dressed girls and knew I should follow them as this was the Design campus. Thankfully they led me right to the campus.

In England, well at Westminster, they have class once a week for 3 hours so I have 4 classes, but one a day Monday - Thursday. I also like that in all my classes there are only 2 assignments - usually essays, and thats it. In fact, two of my final projects aren't due until after instruction ends. Weird.

Tuesday I didn't have class till 4pm so I went to the National Portrait Gallery and saw some pretty cool pieces.

Tuesday night I decided to go on a pub crawl and it was a blast! I guess in Leicester Square, a few bars do a pub crawl EVERY night and for 10 pounds you get a free shot at every bar. Not really worth it in my mind, but the music to dance to was AMAZING and I had a blast. Got home around 1:30am and had class at 9am that morning. Needless to say, I was a bit miserable in class until I got some coffee in me. My class Wednesdays is London Art and Society and we spend an hour in lecture and then 2.5 hours touring a museum in London. How perfect is that?! Today we went to the British Museum but the exhibits we looked at were not my favorite. I need to go back to see the Rosetta Stone!

After, a few girls and I went to lunch and then ran a few errands. It is SO hard not to shop but money flies outta my wallet so fast.

In other news, I have officially booked trips to Scotland, Brussels and Germany. I need to book a flight to Milan to visit an old exchange student and then start planning my traveling after the program. Part of me doesn't want to book any trips so I have money left over and can just blow it on Oxford Street the last week.

Anyone know of a potential job from Dec.20-Jan.2 that pays WELL?!


Friday, September 21, 2012

Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey and a Boat Cruise


We do not start classes until Monday, so this week has just been exploring and having fun. One thing that is not fun, PRICES! Everyone told me before I came London would be expensive, but man, I didn't really realize how expensive. It is a high cost of living, plus right now I am just too unmotivated to want to cook for myself so it is definitely an adjustment. When I went to a bar, a Long Island was 8pounds! At home, its $8 or less!

Anywho, Wednesday a couple of us walked around South Kensington in search of the Parent Trap house, but ran out of time because we had to head back to Oxford Street to register for classes. I got pretty much everything I needed. The #1 class I came here for and was looking to take and that I needed for my minor in Davis, was cancelled. Excellent. I did, however, get Developmental Psych, British Performance in Theater, Fashion Trends and Forecasting and Art & Society, where we basically spending 3 hours touring London, not bad. I also don't have class on Fridays. SCORE!

After that, a bunch of us met up at Hyde Park for a picnic for Liz's birthday. It was really surreal to be having a picnic in Hyde Park.

Thursday, Liz, Sarah and I went to Westminster Abbey and Parliament. Unfortunately, you were not allow to take pictures in the Abbey, but it was beautiful! So many amazing people buried there. Mary, Queen of Scots, Queen Elizabeth I, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen to name a few. Quite remarkable.

Later that night, Westminster put on, basically a booze cruise, for the study abroad students. It was kind of a recipe for disaster, or good time? I don't know ha. 3.5 hours on a boat serving overpriced alcohol, but no food. There was also dancing. I stayed on the top level the whole time to soak in the views. I also met some awesome German and Brazilian guys and a lot of people from America!

Cities are definitely prettier at night.

One thing I didn't really realize about studying abroad is how many different types of people I would meet. I knew I'd meet more Americans, but the international people are amazing. This is one reason I chose not to study through UC Davis - I wanted to meet completely new people from everywhere. So far I have made friends with people from:
-America (Cali, Jersey, Nebraska, Michigan, Florida)
-South Korea
I love it.

After the booze cruise, we continued the party around the dorm area. Apparently, London, or at least my part, does not do Thirsty Thursday, as the first bar we went to, at 11:15pm, had NO ONE in it and had closed off its downstairs, the dance room. So what do a bunch of Americans do? We start our own dance party in the bar. We also attempted to teach some locals how to bernie entertaining, to say the least.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

No Words


I cannot think of the right words to use for the title of this post.

Monday sealed the deal for me. I belong in a city. Don't get me wrong - I LOVE SLO and Davis, but I fit in in a city. So many times in Davis I have to stop and edit my outfit before leaving my apartment, because I am dressed for a day in NYC, not a day in class and working at the COHO. In London, like NYC, you can wear whatever you want and no one will look twice, unless you look amazing. The fashion here is like New York, just slightly more polished, like the accent.

Monday we had an orientation at the University of Westminster, which was a reality check and reminded me that I am STUDYING abroad, not just living-shopping-exploring abroad. Whatever. I'll deal.

After a few of us decided to go shopping since we were right near Oxford St. The first store we went into, I almost had a heart attack. I wish I were kidding, but I almost started to cry tears of happiness. It was a Top Shop/Miss Selfridges and it. was. so. big. There was a MAP of the store so you wouldn't get lost. In the middle of the ground floor, they also had a frozen yogurt, cupcake and candy shop. You know, incase you needed sugar to keep you going through your shopping extravaganza. I really only made it to the accessory section. Surprised? That is where I really started having heart palpitations. I took this photo and even though it is blurry, y'all better appreciate it because two seconds later I got yelled at for taking photos.

Pictures don't do it justice. Plus this was only 1/3 if it.

Anywho, it was the most beautiful accessory section of any store I have ever seen. It just felt so incredibly amazing to see something I wanted to buy and not think, "Oh I love that, but I could never get away with that in Davis..." Here you can get away with anything! And I only have about 20 weeks left in Davis, so....stuff like these shoes are bound to happen.

Haters gon' hate.

Okay, sorry if I have lost those of you who are not fashion obsessed. I will come out of my happy place to talk about Tuesday.

Tuesday my study abroad group had an excursion to Harrods.

We got all dolled up and cute. (Notice the heels...walked around in those all damn day and my feet currently are not speaking to me.)

Tourist much?

The mothership - Harrods.

We had tea and fancy sandwiches and scones with clotted cream, that I am pretty sure is currently clotting my arteries, and pastries. Nom.
We also walked around the store and I came this close to deciding to not eat and live on the streets to pay 2395 POUUNDS for a pair of Christian Louboutins. The price of fashion. At least I didn't buy a puppy there for 1700 pounds.

After Harrods, we headed to a bar to a 'Freshers Week' event with the university. Once happy hour was over and we had to go back to paying full price for drinks, we left (me still in heels) and headed back to our flats. I got about 200yds from the building and then just took off the shoes, disregarding any strange looks because I am now used to them, seeing as yesterday I am positive I was the only person in London wearing shorts. But hey, give me sun and Ima take advantage. Shoot.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Introducing London

So the first night was interesting. I figured, I have two feet, I'll see where they take me. Well, first they took me to a dead-end in an apartment complex that looked like the projects. Nice. Then I wandered around the area some more and found some amazing pubs, restaurants and shops. I couldn't, however, find ANYONE from my program or a fellow student for that matter. Just when I thought my night was going to be eating in my flat watching Glee, I ran into a flatmate and she invited me to dinner. Score!

A group of eight of us, 4 Americans, 3 Germans and 1 Swiss wandered London and ate at a delicious Italian place in Covent Gardens. We then headed back to the neighborhood of our dorm and went to a pub/small club called Trafik. It seemed really cool and had I been dressed better, I would definitely have been down to dance. Instead we drank our drinks and then called it a night around midnight. I planned to pass out but that was not in my future. The pillow I bought was harder than a rock and I probably got 4 hours of sleep. Needless to say, Sunday I was a zombie.

I met with my ISA group and we headed to the office for orientation. I met so many cool people. A few from California, but mostly from the east, especially New Jersey. After orientation we had an hour of free time and wandered up and down Oxford St., the LONGEST SHOPPING STREET IN EUROPE. Did I mention this street runs parallel from the street my school is on?! It was taking so much self control not to just spend my entire budget during that hour.

We all then took a nice long bus tour of London.
Enjoy the pictures!

Westminster Abbey

Tower of London

Oh haaayyyy

Entrance to Hogsmead
Now I am off to a pub to celebrate one of MANY 21st birthdays happening while abroad!

Coming up:
ISA Orientation
Ice Bar
Picnics in the Park

Saturday, September 15, 2012

First Few Days

Cheers from this side of the pond!

I am finally posting my first post because I am all checked into my flat and finally have internet access.
So, recap:

My dad and I flew into London Tuesday and headed straight to meet our friends who live just outside of London. They have an adorable house and are some of the kindest people I know. After some dinner, I headed off to bed and thanks to a good ol' sleeping pill, slept from 9:30pm to 11:30am. I wanted to stay in bed all day but my dad wanted to get my adjusted to London time ASAP.

Day 1,2,3
We tried to see a lot but not overdo it because, lets face it, I am going to be here for 3+ months so I will have plenty of time to explore.

There is Parliament/Big Ben and some adorable little streets that had me thinking I was about to stumble upon Olivander's Wand Shop! Sigh.

I recommend this crepe stand, in Hamstead. BEST CREPES EVER!

Some shoes my dad was almost begging to buy for me.

View from the London Eye of my home for the next few months!


Finally the time came for me to check into my flat. I am on the 3rd floor, with no elevator, so I best not forget anything. I have my own room and share a kitchen and 2 bathrooms with 6 other people. So far I have met 3 of them and not one are from my program, so that is a great way to meet more people.

Anyways, now I am publishing this post, currently not knowing anyone from my program or where I am supposed to go for my MANDATORY meeting in the morning, so hopefully I figure that out before 11am.

Oh, and in wonderful news, the 2nd largest night club in London, Club Aquarium for those interested, is literally 200yds from my flat. I find that a success.

(apologies, might take me some time to figure out an attractive layout for this blog)