Monthly Archives: July 2013

Day 31: The End

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I finally made it—the last day of the trip. I honestly don’t know how I made it out alive.

At the beginning, I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it. I’d never been to Europe before, and I’d never been away from everything I’m familiar with for longer than a month. Somehow, though, I made it.

Here I am. I’m living proof.

Today was an interesting day. This morning, Shannon and I dressed in purple and had breakfast at Speedy’s again in an act of homage to the beginning of our journey. Breakfast was good, but it was also a little disheartening. It was our last breakfast in England, after all.

Even London seemed a little upset that we were leaving. The weather has been unseasonably warm, and we’ve all been complaining. In an effort to entice us to stay here a little longer, London gave us rain and cold temperatures today. I wanted to stay, I really did. I tried to tell London that. It just didn’t get it.

Anyway, after breakfast, we met up with Bryar and our film studies professor and headed downtown to see The Wolverine. I don’t think I would’ve seen it if I hadn’t been abroad. Funny enough, I enjoyed it. I liked it more than I thought I would. Hugh Jackman is awesome.

We spent the rest of our day eating one last meal at Byron, wandering around Oxford Circus, and finishing our packing. It’s 1:13AM in the morning on Wednesday over here. We’re supposed to be down at the buses around 3:15AM, so there’s really no point in going to sleep. It would just make me more tired.

Shannon and I are hanging out in my room, killing time by listening to John Mulaney. I’m going to miss her like nobody’s business. I’m certain that we’ll keep in touch, but it will be really weird not seeing her every day.

I’ll miss so much about this place.

I’ll miss the Tube, the crowded platforms, the bustling streets, the vicious pigeons, the stupid tourists, and the beautiful accents. I’ll miss the way the English behave in an orderly fashion even when they don’t feel like it. I’ll miss late-night Tesco runs and visits to The Court. I’ll miss Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, and the London Eye.

And most surprisingly, I’ll miss the Thames. It is the lifeline of the city.

I am eternally blessed to have had the chance to go on this trip. Even though it’s been expensive, hot, crowded, and stressful, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’ve learned so much about myself on this trip. I’ve grown and changed. I feel so much better. The friends I’ve made and things I’ve experienced will leave me with memories that will last a lifetime.

Thank you, readers, for traveling with me.

And thank you, London, for being such a great hostess. It’s been fantastic. Hope to see you real soon.

Day Thirty: Finality

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I only have one more day in this fascinating city. It’s bittersweet, really—more bitter than sweet. Don’t get me wrong—I am looking forward to going home. I miss my family, my pets, my friends, and my bed. But I have seriously had the time of my life over here. I’m a different person than I was at the start of this trip, and that’s a good thing.

Yesterday, I took my final exams. In film studies, we had to write an essay featuring each of the ten film movements we studied in class, all while relating them to the way in which they feature urban space. It was an open notebook test. I was grateful for my neat handwriting. On the whole, I think I did well, though I know for a fact that I mixed up two of the movements.

Before the exam, we took surveys about our study abroad experience. The first survey was, of course, a class and instructor evaluation. I popped that one out in no time. Next, we had to answer some questions about the program itself. That, too, was easy.

Then came part two of the self-efficacy questionnaire. I failed to mention that I filled one of those out in the airport before leaving the States. Basically, there were a bunch of questions that we had to answer about ourselves, such as, “Are you an active person?” and “Do you feel comfortable navigating transportation systems in a foreign country?” The answers I gave yesterday were much different from the ones I gave at the start of the trip. Like I said, that’s a good thing. I’ve become a better person. 

In my world civilization class, we took another instructor and class evaluation. It wasn’t bad. We took the exam, which I had studied for. I ended up making a 97. I’m pretty certain that I made As in both of my classes over here, which is moderately surprising but not that exciting. 

Anyway, today it’s cold and rainy. London seems to be trying to convince us to stay. It doesn’t need to change for that. I’m already convinced.

Day Twenty-Nine: A Lot of Nothing

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I had plenty of time to blog yesterday, but I was studying. More accurately, I suppose I was trying to study. But I did get some done. That has to count for something.

After sleeping in yesterday morning, I had lunch at Icco with the lovely Shannon. Since the weather was nice, we had our pizza outside. We also took the time to reminisce about the things we’ll miss once we’re back in the States. There’s going to be a reverse culture shock. I think the first time I go to a restaurant and they bring me the check in the middle of eating, I’m going to freak out. They don’t do that here. You get plenty of time to eat in England. If you want the check, you have to ask for it. That’s one little thing that I’m going to miss.

When lunch was over, Shannon and I headed back to the dorms. I studied for my world civilization final exam, but it was hard for me to concentrate. I read the same information over and over again. Zelda came over to study with me. I’m still not sure we accomplished anything. We did get to socialize, though, so that’s good.

A few hours later, Shannon and I went down to The Court for dinner. I’m surprised we’re not on a first name basis with the people there, really. It was trivia night, so the place was packed. It took me a long time to actually order. I had fish and chips. I hadn’t had them in a while, and I thought I needed to get them at least one more time before heading home. Also, The Court has the best fish and chips out of every restaurant I’ve been to. The Court never fails.

I topped the evening off with another brief study session, a long shower, and an early bedtime. I can’t believe I only have a few more days abroad. This month has gone by incredibly fast. I wish that it hadn’t. Still, I have finals today and a free day tomorrow. I’m going to make the most of things.

Day Twenty-Eight: When It Rains

Today was not at all like yesterday. For one thing, there weren’t as many opportunities to say, “yes.” You might’ve seen that one coming. But today, it did rain. And we got to get out a bit.

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We went to a market. I’d wanted to go to Camden Town, but the entire Northern Line was shut down today. Those of you who have been to London understand how frustrating line closures can be. We couldn’t get anywhere near Camden Town, no matter how hard we might’ve tried. Instead, we decided to hop on the Central Line to go to Portobello Road Market.

Let me tell you a secret: Portobello Road Market is nicer than Camden. They have nicer shops, a great selection, friendly staff, and cheap prices. Let’s you and I chat about Portobello Market.

The problem with Camden is that it makes you feel cheap. The owners of the shops there seem to think you’re worthless. After all, aren’t you? Camden is insanely busy at any given moment. If you move along without buying anything, there will be another sucker in a couple of minutes. You don’t have much value to anyone there.

At the Portobello Road Market, there are long stretches of quaint shops with people who actually want you there. They value your business. They’re polite to you, and they let you take your time without harassing you to either buy something or go on your merry way.

Portobello Road is awesome. It’s what everyone imagines when they think about shopping in the smaller parts of London. It’s a wonderful place.

I bought some awesome stuff today.

For thirty pounds, I got a pocket watch necklace shaped like a heart, a red maxi skirt, and a cream and green dress. I love all of it. I love Portobello Market. The only reason we didn’t stay longer was that it started raining. I am glad that I got to buy some nice things. I’m also pleased to have spent the day with my friends Shannon, Cynthia, Zelda, Colin, Jim, and Stephen. Those people are brilliant.

Follow this blog for more travel updates as I finish up my adventures in London!

Day Twenty-Seven: Just Say YES

Tina Fey once said, “Say, ‘yes’ to everything, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” This quotation is so profound to me that I’ve put it as this blog’s subtitle. It’s also been serving as my life strategy for the duration of my trip to London. Yesterday was no exception. 

Let me tell you how saying, “yes” to more things can lead to awesome experiences.

Have you ever had a day that was so fantastic and filled-to-the-brim with adventure that you didn’t want it to end? That was the day that I had yesterday.

I said, “yes” to more things. I said, “yes” to adventure. You can do it, too.

We started off the day by heading out toward Leicester Square. Shannon, Stephen, Cynthia and I went to lunch at Bella Italia before going to M&M World. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a massive, four-level store and interactive experience revolving around the colorful, chocolate delight that is M&M candy. We took pictures, bought some candy, and wandered around the place for an hour or so. It wasn’t until we took one picture in particular that I got my first opportunity to say, “yes” to something.

Stephen, Cynthia, Shannon and I wanted to take a picture in front of the Abbey Road setup because there were four of us. I approached a staff member and asked her if she would mind taking a picture of us. She said she’d be delighted, and then asked if we would be willing to help her with something. She wanted us to take a survey. I agreed. She took the picture. Everything went very well.

We ended up going behind the scenes to participate in a taste test. While I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of the survey, I will say that it was an interesting experience. I would never have been able to participate in it if I hadn’t said, “yes.”

Afterward, Shannon, Cynthia, and I went to the Globe. I hadn’t anticipated going there, but when Shannon suggested it, I said, “yes.” Are you sensing a pattern? We poked around a bit. It was spectacular. I still can’t believe I got to stand where Shakespeare might have stood at one point in history. Life is surreal.

Speaking of surreal, we also went to the Clink Prison Museum, which was interesting, but in a much different sense. We had to pay almost eight pounds. I’m not sure it was worth it. I did, however, enjoy the torture exhibit. Much more extensive than the one at the Tower.

Our final stop for the day was The National Gallery. I’d been dying to see some art. The museum was extraordinary—much more so because it was absolutely free. Visual art never ceases to amaze me. We even got to see the impressionist exhibit. I saw original pieces by Van Gogh, Manet, Money, Cezanne, and Seurat. It was all so incredible. I can’t put it into words.

I could go on and on about yesterday. I said, “yes” to a few things and it changed my whole day. Whatever tomorrow holds, I’m looking forward to it. I’m saying, “yes.” Subscribe to, follow, or check out my blog to find out what happens to me today.

Day Twenty-Six: The War

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My final class field trip took place today. Additionally, I realized that I have less than a week left in this fantastic country. I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I want nothing more than to go back home. I miss home-cooked meals, sleeping in my own bed, and so many other things.  At the same time, I am more in love with London than I’ve ever been with any other city, including New York, It’s everything that I hoped it would be and so much more. Every day is better than the last (for the most part). I wish I could stay here a little bit longer.

I digress.

I went down to the front steps of Astor at 8:45 this morning to meet my world civilization class. Unfortunately, they were not there. I was an hour early. I went back upstairs.

At 9:45, I actually met up with my professor and classmates on the front steps of the college. We walked to the British Library to see an exhibit on propaganda. Since I love Nineteen Eighty-Four, it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed the exhibit. The only thing I didn’t like was being unable to take pictures. Some of the advertisements were definitely shocking. I wish I could share them. Here’s an example:

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As you can imagine, there was plenty of propaganda-related memorabilia in the library’s store. I purchased the most recent Penguin Classics edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The title and author are completely censored by black barsI thought it was fitting.

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After visiting the library, we broke for lunch. Zelda, Colleen, and I went across the street to Pizza Express. We shared the dough knots dipped in garlic butter. I also had pizza. Everything was delicious. I’m still not sure who told me that the food in England was awful. It must’ve been someone who’s never actually eaten anything here before.

When lunch was over, we took the Tube to Westminster. St. James Park was close to the Tube station. We wandered through there on our way to the Churchill War Rooms Museum. The scenery was lovely. London has given me a newfound appreciation for parks. I totally understand why people want to sit outside now. The weather was so nice today. I could’ve spent the whole afternoon under a tree.

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The Churchill War Rooms were spectacular. I’d heard nothing but good things about them before my trip, and I was not disappointed. I love Winston Churchill, and the wartime proceedings are fascinating to me. The War Rooms were set up just as they had been during World War II. Everything was still in remarkable condition. I took too many pictures. I’ll only post a few here.

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Somehow, though, Zelda and I managed to skip an entire room. We missed the Winston Churchill Museum. We only went through the War Rooms. I don’t know what happened. At least we made it to the exit.

After the field trip, Zelda and I hung out in my room and tried to get some homework done. We didn’t get very far. It was nice to hang out. Then I went to dinner with Ashley, Heather, Jim, and Jordan. We ate somewhere on Tottenham Court Road. It was awesome. We had dessert at Haagen Daz. Oh, man. What a day.

Now we’re all hanging out in my room. Colleen and Raneem are in here, laughing and being loud and it’s hilarious. They’ve had a great night so far. It’s all very entertaining. Those girls are wonderful. Oh my gosh.

I don’t want to leave London. I want to stay here forever. I am so torn. Anyway, I need to go to bed. We’re going to M&M World tomorrow. I cannot wait.

Day Twenty-Five: The World’s End

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Tuesday was exhausting for no reason in particular. I had my last day of classes, which was honestly bittersweet. It’s strange to me that I have finals on Monday. We’re leaving on Wednesday. I think I might actually be looking forward to going home. I will miss it here, but you know, I will hopefully be back at some point in the future.

Classes, as I said before, were bittersweet, really. It was my last class day, not counting finals. In film studies, we watched Trainspotting, which is a film about Scottish heroin addicts. I’d seen it before, but I was still excited. For some reason, I had a hard time staying awake. That was strange. After film studies, I had to take a nap because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. Then, I went to world civilization and learned about World War II. Today, we’re going to the Chuchill War Rooms Museum. Aw, yeah.

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Once classes were finished, I returned to my room to watch Catfish. Cynthia, Shannon, Heather and I ended up hanging out and watching it together. I’m really going to miss those wonderful ladies.

Later that evening, Shannon and I went with Colin, Jim, and Stephen to a pub in Camden called The World’s End. You may notice that The World’s End is also the title of a movie featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I thought that this pub would be the one featured in the film. It wasn’t. It was pretty nice, though, just not what I expected.

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Feeling a bit let down by The World’s End, we all hopped on the Tube and headed back to The Court, which never lets us down. I ate the smothered chicken and it was delicious. Also, I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. I do know that all this quality time is going to make it harder to leave. We won’t think about that.

Today, I have my very last field trip. Tomorrow, I think a bunch of us are going to Camden Market. My time in this country is coming to a close. The less I think about that, the better off we’ll be.