• 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-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.

     

     

  • Day Twenty-Four: Urban Playground

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    Yesterday wasn’t one of the best days, but it was one of the best nights. During the day, I had classes, as per usual. In film studies, we watched The Devil Rides Out starring Christopher Lee. It was an example of “Hammer horror.” Very cheesy, but I still enjoyed it. And Shannon and I now have a lot more inside jokes. In world civilization, we studied World War I, which is one of my favorite periods in history.

    After classes, Shannon and I headed over to Trafalgar Square to purchase tickets to see The Hothouse starring John Simm, an actor who played The Master in Doctor Who. The play was very interesting. It’s a political satire that takes place in a sanatorium. The dialogue and subtext was a little confusing, but I enjoyed it. And John Simm was beautiful. Shannon and I purchased our tickets for 10GPB. They were balcony seats. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t ideal. Luckily, we were upgraded to seats on the second row of the audience, close enough to almost touch the actors! Afterwards, we went to the stage door and got to meet some members of the cast. Also, I was so nervous that I took the worst photo of my life with Shannon’s camera. I’m ashamed. Still, I didn’t pee my pants or take my clothes off. I count that one as a win.

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    When the show was over, we ran around Trafalgar Square like little kids. It’s beautiful at night. The fountains were lit up and everything. We climbed on top of the monument in the center and took pictures with the lions. It was fantastic.

    I am head-over-heels in love with this city. It’s breathtakingly lovely. I don’t want to leave. I can only hope that someday, I’ll be able to come back here. I’d love to live here. I guess we’ll see.

     

  • Day 22: Camden Town

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    I spent a great deal of time in Camden yesterday. After eating the best chicken burger of my life (at Byron), Ashley, Heather, and I headed over to Camden Market. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it’s like one giant flea market with stalls and tents full of clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, and anything else you could possibly imagine. I am going back as much as I can before we go back to the States. It is amazing. I only spent 20GPB, and I got a lot of stuff. I even got to use some haggling skills I picked up in Mexico.

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    Exhausted after a few hours of shopping, the girls and I headed back to the dorms. I had a date to prepare for. I don’t want to give too much away, but it was probably the best first date I’ve ever been on. Of course, he doesn’t know that (but he probably figured it out). He took me to a pub in Camden, where we sat and talked for two hours. Then, we went to the highest hill in London. When we got to the top, we could see the entire city skyline lit up in the darkness (I KNOW).

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    This guy was a perfect gentleman. The conversation was excellent, and we’re pretty comfortable around each other. Everything went swimmingly. Enough gushing, I know. But I’m pretty happy.

    I only have ten more days in this beautiful city. Today, I’m doing homework, going to Abbey Road, and who knows what else. I’m pretending I don’t have to go back to the States. So far, the denial is working for me. And on that note, I’m going to get back to work. Tomorrow is still a school day, after all.

  • Days 20 and 21: Bittersweet Symphony

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    Thursday, I was almost struck down by wave of nostalgia. Oddly enough, I was feeling nostalgic about my time in London, even though it’s far from over. I only have two weeks left over here. Quite frankly, it’s not enough time. I want to stay here forever.

    London is everything I expected it to be and more. It’s a city that doesn’t quite feel like a city. It’s sprawling and intimate at the same time. The people, for the most part, keep to themselves. The ones I have spoken to are friendly and polite (save for a few drunken gentlemen at the pub). The city is bustling during the day. At night, it sleeps. It’s wonderful.

    But I digress. I started this post to talk about the events of Thursday and Friday. Thursday was fairly boring. I went to the British Museum with my world civilization class. The building was massive. We were supposed to spend the majority of our time in the Asia galleries because we’d been studying China and Japan. Zelda and I breezed through the gallery. We wandered around some of the other exhibits, but they were hot and crowded. When we finally met up with the rest of the group, it felt to me as though an eternity had passed.

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    We had lunch at a little tea place a couple minutes’ walk from the museum. I wasn’t hungry because I’d gotten too hot, but I did order a slice of lemon cake and a Nutella cupcake (delicious). Then, we visited the Twinings Tea Museum, which was only one big room. I don’t have much to say about that.

    After the field trip, I came back to my room and took a nap because I’m still getting over being sick. Next, I went to the Spaghetti House with Cynthia, Matt, Stephen, and Jim in honor of Cynthia’s birthday. I ordered chicken wings, and I only got three. Appetizer portion. Thanks, Europe! Anyway, it was good. Once we’d finished eating, Jim went to an Internet cafe, Stephen and Cynthia ran to Tesco, and Matt and I wandered around in search of an ATM.

    Later, I went to the pub with Matt, Jim, and John. We didn’t stay very long because it was crowded and hot. Are you sensing a theme here?

    Friday (yesterday), I hung out with Heather and Ashley for most of the day. I love those ladies. We had lunch at Pizza Express and wandered around Baker Street in search of the Beatles store. Although it was difficult, we managed to find it. The store wasn’t huge, but it had an excellent selection. I didn’t end up buying anything. The t-shirts along were 25GPB. No thank you.

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    We got back from our excursion and rested for several hours. Then, we went to East Street for dinner. It was some of the best Asian food I’ve ever eaten. We came back to the dorms, changed clothes, and did our hair and makeup. Once we were ready, we headed out to O’Neill’s with Angelica, Jordan, and Matt for a little bit of dancing. It was fantastic. A bit too crowded for my taste, but I managed all the same. By the time we got back, I was exhausted.

    I only have eleven days or so until I go home. It’s bittersweet, it really is. I love this city. I could picture myself spending a great deal more time here. This experience has been extraordinary for me. It’s done so much good. I can’t wait to tell everyone all about it. With that being said, there are a couple of things (and people) I miss back home. I guess when it comes down to it, I am a little glad I’ll be going back to the States at the end of all of this.

  • Day Nineteen: The Ladykillers

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    This post is going to be brief because I’m getting ready to go out on another field trip. This post should be quick. Yesterday was honestly pretty uneventful. I had both my classes yesterday. Nothing major happened.

    In film studies, we watched Victim, which is an interesting piece about homosexuals in Britain during the sixties. Homosexuality was illegal back then. If someone was convicted of “buggery,” he or she would be sentenced to life in prison, or at the very least, ten years in prison. The movie was intense. I liked it, though it did seem a bit heavy-handed at times.

    In world civilization, I had another test. The only bad thing about having classes that last a few weeks is that I have a test just about every other class. I did study, however, so I think I did fine.

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    Last night, Shannon and I went down to the Vaudeville Theater at the Strand to see if we could get tickets for The Ladykillers. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that we watched the film version in class not too long ago. We managed to get tickets for 25GBP, which was a lot better than I expected. Then, we ate at Garfunkel’s and had some deep conversations. But I won’t get into any of that.

    The Ladykillers was a wonderful show. The acting was all right, but the costumes and the set really knocked it out of the park. I highly recommend it to anyone in or near London.

    I’m going to miss this city so much. I wish I didn’t have to leave it.