Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hectic Week

This week I felt had a lot crammed into it.
Well lets not think about Tuesday. That day can be forgotten. I have class in the morning most days except Tuesday, I have it at 4pm. So if I don't have anything to get me up and going...I won't. Lets just say Tuesday I needed sleep and laid around all day like a slug working on my last paper.

Wednesday I went to the first part of my lecture, then spent the rest of the morning in a café attempting to finish this last.damn.paper.

At 2:30 I met with ISA to go tour the Harry Potter Studios!!!!
I was stoked to say the least.
This place was INSANE and SO magical. We toured so many sets and got to see so many props. The work that went into these movies...I get exhausted at just the thought. The hours and hours upon work they did was unreal. There were so many hand painted props and all the sketches for the scenes were so intricate. They would sketch sets, then paint them, then create them digitally etc. Too much for me. Remember the wand shop? Over 17,000 wands, all in hand decorated boxes. UNREAL! I don't think I can use that word enough. The sets and props were beautiful! The only regret I will ever have in life is not being able to be apart of those movies - it was something truly magical. And again, I cannot stress enough how much work must have gone into making these films. The characters they had to create and how many prototypes they created and the machinery to make them come to life.
Oy I cannot even try to talk about it all. Here are some pictures to entertain you.

For being such a big Harry Potter fan, this was truly one of the best experiences of this trip.

Thursday was a normal day, until nighttime. A bunch of us went ice skating in Hyde Park. In the winter they have a Winter Wonderland festival, with ice skating, rides and a Christmas Market.
It was so beautiful! I love cities during the Holiday season!

However, now its bed time because I have a 445am wake up call to go to Brussels!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Birthday in London!

I am officially 22!

How crazy is that? Part of me feels 22 and part of me doesn't.

Friday night at the Finburghs, they told me I need to go to Oxford. I immediately began thinking what day of class I could skip as this weekend was my LAST in London. However, I then learned of a friend going to Oxford Sunday with her two friends, so I tagged along. I figured, why not spend my birthday in Oxford.

We left early to catch the 9:40 bus and got to the terminal at exactly 9:30....right as the bus left. I guess the bus was scheduled to leave at 9:30, not 9:40. Oops. Thankfully, the next bus was only 30 minutes later, so before we knew it, we were off.

Once in Oxford, we walked around the town for a bit. I went to Oxford with my friend Ciara and she was with her two friends from home. One of those friends had a friend that was currently attending Oxford. Following?! We met up with her and she took us on a small tour of her college and up St. Mary's Church to see a beautiful view of the city.

We then toured the courtyard where they filmed scenes from Harry Potter!!! And into her dining hall that Hogwarts was influenced by!

After the tour, we went to a pub and I decided to have my first proper Sunday English Roast, for my birthday. It was delicious!!!

After lunner? (we ate around 4pm), we did a little more walking around and then headed home. It was a delightful day.

Monday there was some proper celebrating. Most of my friends went out of town this weekend, so I waited till Monday night to celebrate.

A group of us went to dinner at the Spaghetti House. Delish.
And there was much rejoicing ;)

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thanksgiving in London

Wednesday I skipped class...because I felt like it. Instead I did some exploring. I ended up in Kensington and found the Whole Foods there! I spent about an hour just browsing, taking comfort in recognizing American products. They had a section for Thanksgiving foods and the only people there were Americans ;)
You pick what eggs you want and put them in a cart. Weird
Hells yes. Peanut butter!

Thursday it definitely did not feel like Thanksgiving. I started off the day giving a presentation in my psychology class and then went to lecture. After I went with my friend Anna (AGHS represent!) and we wandered into Primark (always dangerous) and I need up buying these amazing heels for about $10. I love them, but can't really walk in them. Oops.
For those of you who don't know, Primark is heaven for a fashionista on a budget. It's like a Forever21 in that it sells trendy clothing, but I feel the quality is better and the prices are amazing. That being said, it's pretty much impossible for me to go in without spending money :/

Afterwards I went home to relax. Well, there was no relaxing. I'm pretty sure I'm the worst napper in the world if that's even possible. So instead of napping, I watched The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas. Big mistake. It's a great movie, but it also takes the cake for the SADDEST movie I have ever seen. I had already done my make up for the night and had to redo it because I was sitting on my bed straight up bawling for 5-10 minutes. No joke, hard core crying. No shame ha.

Anyways, I cleaned myself up, dried my tears and then headed to Notting Hills with friends to enjoy a Thanksgiving dinner provided by my study abroad program. It was a classy little restaurant and the food was good, but nothing compares to my moms turkey/stuffing, my dads mashed potatoes and my aunts cranberry sauce. However, even though it was 'classy', after repeatedly asking for more bread, we got some...and it was frozen in the middle. So we toasted it over our candle. Why not. We also got what I feel was a mix between pumpkin pie and cheesecake. It was good, but I can't handle cheesecake (too rich) so I couldn't finish it.

Turkey, green beans, a 'stuffing' thing and a bit of cranberry sauce

Toasting the bread

Friday was nothing crazy. Went to Borough market to get some apples. I find it funny that I found the best apples in the world in London.
Friday night I had the pleasure of eating dinner at the Finburghs, family friends. This time two of their kids and their spouses and children joined. I say I had the pleasure because again, this has got to be the nicest family I have ever met. Every member is such a treat and I wish I could have spent more time with them while I was here. It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of London. As much as I love this city, it can get a bit overwhelming. On the way home on the tube I had the pleasure of being in a cart with two girls attempting to do the gangnam style dance.
For those of you who don't know what I am talking about - here

Anyways, it's officially my birthday weekend! I've kinda forgotten its my birthday. I wasn't sure if that's because I'm in that stage here birthdays aren't exciting anymore or it's just being overshadowed by the fact I'm in London. I'm going with the latter ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Uncle Vanyzzzzzz

Last night I decided to see another play and chose Uncle Vanya.

Again, I knew nothing about this play, but I LOVE Laura Carmichael in Downton Abbey and enjoyed watching Anna Friel in Pushing Daises (such a good show, but sadly got cancelled after season 2).

I bought my cheap ticket and showed up to the theatre for a 730 showing. Since I knew nothing about the story, it took me awhile to figure out the basic story line, but once I did, the rest of the story was very easy to understand.
However, I did not enjoy this play I am sad to say. I found myself drifting to sleep in my seat. Maybe it was because I had gotten very little sleep the night before, and maybe if I am sitting in a dark, warm room for 3+ hours, I need big theatrics to keep me entertained. Maybe if I was up close I would have stayed more alert? I don't know. It wasn't terrible, but I found Ken Scott, who played Uncle Vanya, to be the only solid performance. There were only about 8 actors in the whole play.


I also found the play to be a bit depressing. I am assuming that is the point of the story, but I didn't know I would be in for such an unhappy story. The romantic in me thought I was going to see a play about some love triangle. silly hopeless romantic. It wasn't sad in a 'I am sitting here crying my eyes out' kind of way, which, is very easy for me to do. It was sad in a 'Wow these people are miserable' sort of way. It made me promise myself to never let my life go that far down the toilet. In the end, Sonya (Carmichael) is just sitting at a desk with her Uncle Vanya, convincing the two of them that even though life is miserable now, it'll be peaceful and happy when they die.

Uh, WHAT?! And another thing I am sad to say, I did not like Carmichael's performance. I almost thought it was...bad? Like she was trying too hard to talk to loudly, and her voice stayed in one high pitch the entire time and it was just a bit uncomfortable. This was so frustrating to me because I find her flawless in Downton Abbey, I love her so much in that show.
Oh well...maybe it just wasn't her best night?
Not sure.

All I know is that if I see one more play while I am here, it has to be some big, crazy musical show.


I hope everyone in America reading this has a fabulous, family-filled Thanksgiving on Thursday and you all enjoy yourselves. I will be sad to not be with my family, but I have my friends here and London to fill the void.

Gobble Gobble

Monday, November 19, 2012

Christmas Market

Sorry this post won't be toooo exciting.

One month from today I will be en route back to America. That means I have one month to explore and cross off everything on my to-do list. Thankfully I have had a really productive few months here and don't have much left.

A new experience to me are Christmas Markets! They just opened up one along the Thames by the London Eye and it was darling. They had Christmas Music playing and German food and a bunch of fun little gifts. When I go to Brussels next week we are going to another Christmas market so I am excited for that.

Saturday I had the pleasure of meeting my friend Nicki for lunch. Nicki was an exchange student we had from Italy almost 15 years ago! We have stayed in touch ever since and she has been back to visit a few times, so it was fun to visit in London. I will be going to stay with her in Milan in a few weeks and I am extremely excited for that!

We went for fish 'n chips at one of the best spots in London and it was delicious!!

Anyways, this week there is not much going on. It is weird to think Thursday is Thanksgiving and it is sad to know my family will be celebrating without me, but my study abroad group here is throwing us a Thanksgiving Dinner, so I won't be without.

And then....the big 22...yikes.

Window Display!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Flying By

You know how they say, it'll be all over in the blink of an eye?

Yeah...I'm feeling that so from today on I am refusing to blink.....just kidding. But seriously, where is the time going? I have only 33 days left in this beautiful city that has stolen my heart and sworn not to give it back. I have seriously started considering all the ways I can stay here. I love Davis so much and I love the people there, and I will be happy to be back, but it feels like I am on the soccer field right now, playing an amazing game, and returning to Davis would be like coming to sit on the bench. I will be anxiously awaiting my chance to get back on the field for 20 weeks. Then again, I know I will make the most of it, because I am sure once I am out of college I will be freaking out as to what to do next.
However, I have already started that freak out since I have realized, like I said, I only have 20 weeks of school left.

This week, I don't think I have ever written so much in my life. I am DETERMINED to get these papers done so I can relax. I have also booked a lot of things for the next few weeks, so I will have little time to write, meaning these papers need to be finished ASAP. When I am done, I will have written over 11,000 words. Ew.

But on to the more fun stuff.
Wednesday I went on a tour of the Chelsea FC stadium and it was pretty legit. I just love how these players are basically gods to the fans and how much English people appreciate soccer. AMERICANS! TAKE NOTE!

touching the pitch!

newest member ;)
Thursday was such an amazing day, even though I didn't go anywhere. I skipped the first part of my class today. In my defense, we were simply watching a video I have seen so many times and I skipped to write my papers, so that makes it okay, right? I then went to the second part of my class and after got lunch with a friend. We just sat at a bench in Trafalgar Square people watching and talking about life. It was a total pinch me moment. Am I really living in London, just chillin on my lunch break in Trafalgar Square with the National Gallery on my right and Big Ben in the distance to my left? Yup.

After, I returned to Oxford Street and met up with another friend and we did a little retail therapy ;) which is always fun in my book.

The rest of the afternoon was filled with, you guessed it, more paper writing. But I am almost done!! Then I can really relax and do some more fun activities in London.

I would love to go see another West End production but I have no idea which one. Suggestions?
I am also going to a Chelsea FC game in December!! And ice skating in Hyde Park in two weeks. Gosh its a tough life ;)

It is also crazy to think I am here one more month and yet I still have 3 counties to visit. Time will fly and soon I'll be boarding a plane back to 'murica....
till then!

Sunday, November 11, 2012


Another weekend, another trip, another country.

But boy, am I glad to be back in my room in London, showered, relaxing and watching some Downton Abbey doing homework. ;)

Anyways, this past weekend I went to Scotland with my study abroad group -

So Friday morning we caught a train out of Kings Cross to Edinburgh at 10am and got in around 3pm. Long train ride to say the least, but it went quickly as we were just chatting away. As soon as we got to Edinburgh, we dropped our luggage off at the hostel and went to tour the Royal Castle. We only got about an hour and a half there, but the castle was impressive for just how much was left standing.

Then we were taken to the Elephant Café, the very place where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter! Some stayed to eat, but a few friends and I went elsewhere to get some dinner and meet up with the group for a Ghost tour!

 They took us down some dark 'closes' which is another word for alleyway in Scotland. Then we went into some underground tunnels which were a bit spooky, but nothing too frightening. The stories, though I wish they were true, were a bit cheesy.

We had an early night because we were expected to leave the hostel at 8am.


We were off and going on a bus Saturday at 8am. They told us we were going to Loch Ness. I thought, this sounds cool, maybe we will see Nessie! However, none of us bothered to look at a map to see just how far away this Loch was.

Now, I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to go to Edinburgh...but we didn't get to see the city at ALL on Saturday. The bus ride to Loch Ness for over 4 hours each way! We stopped two or three times to take pictures, which was beautiful, but we basically sat on a bus for over 8 hours to go on a boat ride on Loch Ness 'searching for Nessie.' We got back into Edinburgh at 8pm! A lot of us were definitely a little frustrated that we spent alllll day on a bus and barely got to see Scotland. What we did see was from a bus.

We got back at 8pm and I told my friends I needed to go to Hard Rock Café because I like to get a pin from every city I visit that has one. We just decided to eat there because a few girls were craving burgers. We didn't end up eating dinner until 10pm! How European of us.

After dinner, we went to a bar called Frankenstein, which was playing amazing music and I really wanted to dance, but we weren't dressed right (I was wearing jeans, big chunky sweater and a long black coat) and no one else was dancing. We left and headed to some club called Banshee something. The whole bar was underground and looked like the haunted tunnels we explored the previous night. It was a legit place, with multiple rooms/caves, but also a bit stuffy since there were no windows.

Ended up going to bed at 3am...yaaaaa.

Sunday morning they gave us the option of going on a small hike up an extinct volcano or exploring the city. I really wanted to hike because, how cool would it be to say I climbed an extinct volcano in Edinburgh, but A) I didn't bring the right clothes and B) if we didn't go, it was our only opportunity to see the city. I chose to walk around with some girls, buy souvenirs and have some tea at Hotel Missoni!

We then got on a train back to London at 2pm and got back at 645. It felt like the longest ride, it was super hot with no air and I just wanted to be in my bed.

So all in all, I loved seeing the city (as much as I could have anyways) and it was beautiful. If I had my way, I would have liked to do a walking tour of the city, but I guess I will just have to return another time ;)

And for all of you who are actually wondering if I am in school, I am leaving now to go finish a paper and prepare for a huge group presentation tomorrow. =)