Nice, Dublin, Stratford, & only a few days left!

I have a lot of days to cover in this blog (but not as much food to cover, as I’ve been unfortunately cooking for myself, unlike on Spring Break when I got to eat nice exotic European food).

I’ve luckily gotten to do a lot of traveling since Spring Break and have made it to Nice and Dublin! Nice was the first weekend trip I took after Spring Break and it was, in a word, nice (I apologize for the joke but I haven’t made it in a while!). I met Kimmy in Nice, and we had an awesome time walking around the city and adventuring to the tops of different places, including one that had an awesome park and allowed me to get this nice shot (sorry for the adjective again):

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We also found this awesome view:

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Basically, Nice was a place where everywhere you look you find a nice view (the continuous pun is unfortunately inevitable). There was also amazing ice cream that we ate as we walked along the boardwalk (I knew I’d find a way to quickly mention some food).

We also got to go to Monte Carlo for the day, which was only about a half hour bus ride and 3 euros away. The bus ride had amazing views, as it went along the French coast and into Monaco. Monte Carlo was basically a playground for rich people, with different designer stores at every corner and even a rainbow helicopter landing pad (is that what you call something that you land helicopters on?) Anyway, Monte Carlo was beautiful and I pretended I was Grace Kelly for a good majority of the time, and for the rest of the time I thought of myself as Princess Mia of Genovia, because what else would you do? There were also some nice “We’re going to Monte Carlo!” references from the aptly titled Selena Gomez film Monte Carlo (Hey Kimmy, I know you enjoyed those).

We visited the royal palace and went to the oceanography museum and aquarium, which was really cool (despite the lack of penguins). It was a really awesome weekend, especially because I got to see Kimmy after being separated for about eight months!

The next really awesome weekend trip I got to take was to Dublin, which was my favorite place I’ve been so far. From the first store we went into, a bookstore, the people were so friendly and the city felt like one huge community. I met Lauren there and we spent the first day just walking around the city, visiting parks and taking pictures.

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We also went to the Guinness Storehouse, which was basically Willa Wonka’s chocolate factory for beer (sadly, there was no big prize for good behavior at the end of the tour). We learned how Guinness is made, how it has been advertised throughout the years, and just what exactly goes in it. We also learned how to taste and drink it correctly, as well as the correct way to pour the perfect pint. Here is Lerv and I enjoying our perfectly poured pints:

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The next day we took a day trip to my favorite place I’ve been since I got to Europe. We went to the Cliffs of Moher and the bus ride to and from the cliffs was full of the most amazing views of the Irish coast. Ireland is such a beautiful country and I loved seeing the country that my grandparents are from! The Cliffs were so beautiful and (obviously) extremely high. You can pretty much walk wherever you want at your own risk, so there are some parts of the trail that get really close to the edge. It was so cool standing looking out onto the water and seeing the rest of the Irish coast in the distance.

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The bus tour also made some stops at different places, including a cute pub where Lerv tried fish and chips for the first time. Our bus driver was the coolest and he sung us different traditional Irish songs on the way, including my favorite, “Galway Girl.”

Lerv and I also took a tour of Trinity College and visited the library where the Book of Kells is kept. The library is really beautiful, but has no midnight coffee/ hot chocolate cart (which was definitely one of the aspects of my own college tour that I made a special note to remember and factor into my college decision).

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Being in Ireland felt like I was in an awesome dream. We went out to a pub in Temple Bar and there was traditional Irish music and dancing, with everyone singing along (even a singalong to The Proclaimers’ “I’m Gonna Be”). Ireland was my favorite place I’ve been and I can’t wait to go back one day!

Another awesome place I got to visit was Stratford-upon-Avon, the place of Shakespeare’s birth back in the day. I loved being there; it was awesome to see where he was born, where he courted Anne Hathaway (not Princess Mia Thermopolis- she already got a shoutout in this post… the other one), and where he is buried. We got to see three plays while we were there: Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 and Arden of Faversham. It was really cool being in Stratford and seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company perform, something that I’ll definitely remember.

Shakespeare's birthplace

Shakespeare’s birthplace

Anne Hathaway's cottage

Anne Hathaway’s cottage

The Shakespeare scenes on request at his birthplace was one of the coolest parts of the trip. There were actors in the courtyard of Shakespeare’s house, waiting to perform whatever scene you could think of. We heard a scene from Hamlet and then they asked if we wanted to see something funny, and proceeded to recite a scene from The Comedy of Errors. It was so amazing to see them perform all of the scenes from memory, though I was hoping for Billy Madison to pop out and finish it off with a “to die, to sleep, no more.”

We also visited Kenilworth Castle on the last day of the Stratford trip, where we walked around what was left of the ruins of the castle. It was really cool to be in such a historical place, but being in a castle also just made me really want to watch Game of Thrones.

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After Stratford week, we had one more week of classes and this week is finals week. It’s strange to think I’ll be home this time next week, but I feel so lucky to have gotten to do so many amazing things while I’ve been here.

Some other interesting things that I’ve gotten to do that I forgot to mention: visiting Horace Walpole’s castle at Strawberry Hill and taking a Jack the Ripper tour of London for my gothic class, exploring the city visiting the Tower of London, visiting Dartmoor, climbing the Hay Tor there, having cream tea at Agatha Christie’s summer home at Greenway, visiting the Prior Park Gardens in Bath, and drinking water at the Roman Baths! I’ll attach some pictures 0f those trips! Thanks for reading! :o)

Horace Walpole's castle at Strawberry Hill

Horace Walpole’s castle at Strawberry Hill

Hanging out in front of Buckingham Palace, a.k.a m y future home

Hanging out in front of Buckingham Palace in London, a.k.a my future home

Big Ben

Big Ben

Tower of London

Tower of London

Hay Tor at Dartmoor

Hay Tor at Dartmoor

Agatha Christie's summer house at Greenway

Agatha Christie’s summer house at Greenway

Cream tea at Agatha's

Cream tea at Agatha’s

Prior Park Gardens in Bath

Prior Park Gardens in Bath

Roman Baths

Tasting the water at the Roman Baths

 

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Oxford week and spring break!

Hi everyone! It’s been a really long time since I’ve written for this blog, so I hope this post makes up for my lack of writing by being entertaining!

Since I last wrote, I’ve gotten to do some pretty awesome things and visit some really cool places! If you just want to read about my spring break, just skip like a quarter of the way down!

For a week at the end of March, our program went to Oxford for the week. We stayed at University College in what I would call dorms, but hesitate to because our living arrangements were more like awesome historical suites. We stayed at University College, one of Oxford’s 38 colleges. They take it pretty seriously there that you know there are 38 individual colleges that are all unique, rather than one huge conglomerate Oxford University, which most people assume Oxford is (myself included). This is especially important to know if you are interested in purchasing the quintessential Oxford sweatshirt, because the ones that read “Oxford University” are advertising a school that doesn’t actually exist. Instead, a “University College” sweatshirt makes more sense. I didn’t get a sweatshirt (money spent on coffee), but I personally found the Oxford University sweatshirts just as cute as the Univ sweatshirts, a fact that I do not think would go over well if I actually went to Oxford.

The town itself is really beautiful and you can basically feel all of the history as you walk down the streets. We did have classes during the week, which was cool because you realized you were studying in the environment where writers like Tolkien once studied and taught in. Speaking of Tolkien, I got to eat at The Eagle and Child, where the Inklings, including Tolkien and Lewis, used to hang out.

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One of the coolest parts of being in Oxford was (and this will shock you, coming from me) eating in the dining hall. University College’s dining hall looks just like the Great Hall from Harry Potter (and I’m sure me referencing that shocks you as well) and even though didn’t get to eat the awesome food the students get (we were on our own meal plan), you could’ve given me gruel and I’d be happy to eat it in that dining hall (but don’t give me gruel, actually, ’cause I’d probably hate it). We did have a fancy dinner in there at the end of the week with the tutors and staff, which was one of the coolest events of the week.

Anyway, in summary, Oxford was awesome. It has an amazing bookstore, Blackwell’s, awesome coffee shops that give out free cookies after two p.m., cobblestone streets, and what I assume are people constantly trying to access caffeine in order to finish their important scholarly works (or just me wanting coffee in order to make another trip to Blackwell’s).

If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know that I did a photo series while in Oxford called “Drinking Hot Beverages While Looking out of Various Windows.” I really enjoyed this, as it allowed me to drink a lot of hot beverages. And if you follow me on Instagram, thanks for not unfollowing me after my #tbt’s of Benjamin Button, because I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who thinks they’re funny (I would know, ’cause I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re not funny).

Here’s a photo from the series, picked up by National Geographic (not really, but they totally should):

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After Oxford week, we got back into the routine of having regular classes and attempting to cook our own meals. One important thing to say about the time in between Oxford week and spring break is that it got warmer! I’m starting to love Bath even more as it’s turned into Spring, and not just because it’s getting touristy and there are extra ice cream carts on the street (that is part of it though). There are a lot of flowers everywhere, and they’re starting to bloom! Also, we’ve seen the sun a lot lately, which is a nice in England where it kind of seemed like the sun was mad at us and didn’t want to show up.

And now, I’ll attempt to write about spring break. The three countries I visited were Italy, Austria, and the Czech Republic, which were all so cool in their own ways. My favorite would have to be the Czech Republic, as Prague seemed like it was straight out a fairy tale. But first, Italy:

We went to Vernazza, Italy, which is in the Cinque Terre region, a northern part of Italy’s coast. After taking a good number of forms of public transportation, we finally ended up on a train to Vernazza, and coming out of a tunnel and seeing my first view of the Mediterranean was one of the coolest things ever. You heard an audible gasp from a lot of people in the train car, as the tracks went through a mountain following the coastline and the view was pretty incredible.

One of the first views from the train

One of the first views from the train

Once we got to Vernazza, it was even better than the pictures online. The buildings are all different colors and the town is really small, with one main road taking you from the train station to the water’s edge. There are only cars allowed in the town on one day a week, so it was really quiet and felt like a completely different world than the one we had just left in England. And the view is pretty spectacular, especially if you accidentally fall while trying to get a picture. I managed to fall across the rocks in such a way that everyone thought I fell into the ocean. Got some bruises and a pretty awesome picture from that fall.

 

Vernazza (but not the picture from the fall)

 

We spent four days in the Cinque Terre, taking the train to all of the five towns and hiking, and eating, our way through all of the villages. We ate gelato every day we were there (naturally) and went on a really awesome hike up one of the mountains. It may be hard to believe, but I actually enjoyed hiking, even though it is, by nature, an extended period of exercise.

Smiling after hiking (previously didn't think it was possible)

Smiling after hiking (previously didn’t think it was possible)

The one thing I will say about Italy is that is made up of about a gazillion steps (that number seems scientific to me now, because that’s how many steps we climbed). And I don’t mean just if you want to hike. There is literally a town that the train can’t get to, because it is up a bunch of steps. Italians must have killer calf muscles. I’m not a historian but I am going to assume pasta was invented for the sole purpose of carbing up to climb stairs.

After Cinque Terre, we spent a day in Florence. Florence is a lot more crowded than Vernazza, but it was really cool seeing the Duomo, the Uffizi museum, and the David. The David is so much bigger than I thought and kind of looks like it’s alive. Makes me want a Night at the Museum 3 cameo for the statue. The gelato in Florence was the best, so if anyone goes to Florence in the future I will politely ask you to bring something that will preserve their gelato for however long it takes you to get back to the States. Eating your way around Italy isn’t difficult, so I managed to try focaccia bread, gelato, a cannoli, pizza, lasagna, and a couple different types of pasta. Italy was really beautiful, with friendly people and a ton of amazing food. Rick Steves knows his stuff with Italy, so shoutout to him for picking basically every restaurant we tried.

Eating a cannoli in Florence

Eating a cannoli in Florence

Next came the night train from Florence to Vienna. It was an overnight train, about 12 hours, and one on which I did not splurge for the sleeping car. For me, this meant trying to sleep in an upright position in a train seat while attempting to drown out the Italian yelling in the next car by watching Heavyweights on my iPod. The night train was definitely an interesting experience, full of weird sleeping positions and trying not to get up to pee in order to not leave your stuff unattended. It did seriously improve my knowledge of Heavyweights, as I ended up watching it almost three times. The Perkisystem does not work on cheaters like Gerald Garner.

Once we got to Vienna, I had to move past my zombie stage after the night train, and focus all of my attention of obtaining coffee. It wasn’t hard to forget I was sleep deprived, as Vienna is so beautiful, with the clean streets and everything smelling like pastries. We walked around a lot in Vienna, visiting cafés and going to a Viennese opera. After making a ticketing mistake and going to an Orin-from-Parks-and-Recreation-type art show (not kidding, everything was white and there was one creepy fountain in the middle), we got to see the National Library, which was really pretty and had a lot of interesting stuff about World War I.

We also went to a Shakespeare & Company bookstore, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. And food-wise, Vienna is wonderful. Hot dogs, pretzels, and pastries. Also, we had a waiter who we were 99% sure was related to Christoph Waltz.

Vienna

Vienna

After spending two days in Vienna, we took the train to Prague. On the way to Prague, I met this really cool lady who spoke English and told me some of the stuff worth doing in Prague. She had a really adorable daughter who tried to get me to read The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which I couldn’t do because it was in a different language. It was really nice meeting someone on the train who was friendly and curious about the U.S. She was appalled that I knew the end to HIMYM without having seen the whole series and told me she wouldn’t spoil the end of Dexter for me, even though it’s been out for a while.

A part of Rick Steves’ book says that Prague is better than Disney, and even though there is no Mulan in Prague, I have to agree. The town is so old-fashioned looking, with beautiful buildings and architecture everywhere you look. It was also the Easter Festival, so there were a lot of booths and street vendors selling traditional Czech food. We climbed the tower, went to the castle, and even got to go to a Tim Burton exhibit, which has nothing to do with Prague but is something I had always wanted to do!

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View from the top of the tower

We got to eat a lot of traditional Czech food, including fried curd balls, which sound disgusting but are actually really good. It’s basically fried dough and they fill it up with caramel, chocolate, or strawberry sauce.

We also got to visit the John Lennon wall, which is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, as people will write literally whatever comes to mind on the wall. And the awesome part is it gets painted over and then people fill it up again with the most ridiculous and random things. There are some nice Beatles’ quotes on there, along with some inspirational messages, but the majority of it was people writing things like #blessed. A friend on my trip found a personal favorite of mine:

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Our hostel in Prague was the coolest, mainly because the guy who worked there was awesome and served free coffee to whoever was staying there. Prague was an awesome city just because you don’t really have to do anything while you’re there, as walking around and just looking at everything is cool enough. The Charles Bridge is something I could walk over fifty times in a row and not get bored. There are always artists doing caricatures and people playing instruments that it’s hard not to just stand and watch everything.

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View from the Charles Bridge

I was sad to leave Prague but happy I got to come back to Bath. Spring break was definitely an adventure and I’m really happy I got to visit so many amazing places!

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, you are the coolest and I owe you a fried curd ball. Thanks for reading :o)

 

 

 

Quick update! Harry Potter, first trip to Oxford, & some more reading

Hi everyone!

So, as the due dates for papers were this past week, I haven’t had too much time for writing posts, but thankfully my papers are all handed in. I wrote papers about everything from Frankenstein’s symptoms of a random Victorian disease, to the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. I made some pretty weird arguments, but I hope the copious amounts of coffee I consumed made them somewhat reasonable.

Since I think I bombarded every form of social media with my trip to the Warner Brothers studio tour of Harry Potter in London, I’ll keep it brief here. IT WAS SO COOL. They had everything there from the Hogwarts Castle gates, to the actual model of the castle, to HARRY’S SCAR. I saw it. In a box. On an actual makeup table from the set.

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And you could also press buttons to control kitchen things in the Burrow, so I got to knit and chop carrots with magic. Well, with a computer connected to some type of wire. But suspend your disbelief, it was really magic. We also got Chipotle beforehand, so there aren’t many words to describe the happiness experienced that day. I’ve recently learned in one of my classes, Gothic literature, that horror fiction uses the language of the indescribable, like saying “there’s no way to tell you how scared I was.” So I’ll tie in some learning here and say it was a day that I am incapable of describing.

The following weekend I took a study trip to Oxford to see some of the areas of the colleges where Lewis and Tolkien worked and stayed. We had just finished reading some of the Chronicles of Narnia and the three Lord of the Rings books, so this was basically the coolest trip ever. I also got to see the gardens that most likely inspired Lewis Carroll to write the croquet scenes in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

One of my favorite parts of the day was going to the University of Oxford Botanic Garden. Tolkien apparently had a huge love for trees and wished that he could communicate with them and hear their stories. His favorite tree in the gardens was a giant one that had these gigantic branches and looked like it could walk away or yell at you for staring at any moment.

Here’s a picture of Tolkien’s favorite tree aka what I like to call an ent from The Lord of the Rings:

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We also got to go to C.S. Lewis’ house at the Kilns, which used to be secluded in the middle of a forest. Now, it’s pretty suburban, with a lot of houses around it, but you can still go into the area of forest close to where he lived, or what I like to imagine is Narnia. The garden outside of his house was really beautiful, and the window above his writing desk looked out onto the garden and the forest, which must have been pretty awesome as he was writing all of the creatures and characters into the Narnia stories.

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Unfortunately, most of the original furniture had been auctioned off and sold by previous owners of the house before it became a spot for visitors, so a lot of the pieces in the home are replicas. But the volunteers who repaired the home did a really awesome job of making it look just like it must have looked when Lewis and his friends sat, talked, wrote, and discussed books there. Our tour guide was American and really cool, as he left us some Turkish Delight on the dining room table, claiming the White Witch had been in there and he had nothing to do with it.

We also saw the church that Lewis attended, as well as where he is buried, which was in a beautiful spot full of green fields and surrounded by flowers. The day was one of the coolest I’ve spent here so far, and I can’t wait to get back to Oxford to finally eat in The Eagle and Child, where the Inklings used to hang out!

If anyone has skipped to the end of this post, all you really need to know is that I got to see real-life versions of things I’ve read about in some of my favorite books, so these were two of the best, and nerdiest, trips of my life.

Thanks for reading! :o)

Oh yeah, and I WENT TO PLATFORM NINE AND THREE QUARTERS IN KING’S CROSS STATIONDidn’t get through, though. They must’ve sealed it.

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The Daily Telegraph and BBC in London (and some other stuff)!

Hi! So this isn’t just going to be a blog post about the two places in the title, but as they were my favorite places I’ve gone to so far I felt they deserved the title spot!

I haven’t written in a while, so this post is going to span a good amount of time! Sorry for the delay in postings, but I’ve basically been reading The Lord of the Rings for the amount of time that it seems they are walking in those books/movies. Even though they took forever to read, I really liked them! Aside from the fact that it is just a whole lot of walking, the books are pretty awesome. Plus, the hobbits enjoy a good second breakfast now and then, which I can relate to.

I have to read the third one for next week, so no spoilers please! It will make enduring all of that walking (readingly-speaking- I just made that up) even worse. But I do enjoy basically everything the cool sidekick guy Sam does, so I’ll make it through the third.

Anyway, I have done other things besides read The Lord of the Rings, like I’ve read some Sherlock Holmes and some lovely gothic fiction involving damsels in distress locked in scary towers. But I’ll spare you the synopsis of those, as I promise I do things besides read. (But one quick thing: Who knew that Dr. House was based on Sherlock Holmes? I very publicly learned that fact in class the other day, as well as learned that it is a fact that is generally known, at least to the members of that class. But if you didn’t know, you’re not alone, as I had absolutely no idea of the comparison. Home/House, Dr. Watson/Wilson? Weird, right?).

Now that you’ve had enough of my summaries of reading (it’s taking over my life), I can talk about some awesome places that I’ve been able to visit while I’ve been here!

We went on a trip to the Cotswolds, a beautiful part of the English countryside. We first got to go up a tall castle tower, which was strangely reminiscent of the first episode of Game of Thrones. My knowledge of that show is extremely limited, but I will spare you the discussion if I ever attempt to read the books Lord of the Rings-style. The tower was called the Broadway Tower and it is Cotswold’s highest tower.

Broadway Tower

Broadway Tower

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View from the top of Broadway Tower

We then took about a two-mile hike up and down hills and through some nice mud and puddles that I very maturely insisted on jumping in (I was wearing Wellies!- there’s some English slang for you). The views were amazing and I actually enjoyed hiking, which is a phrase I never thought I would use. The idea of an extended period of physical exercise never seemed appealing to me (I respect you, marathon runners), but this hike was really cool and I’d definitely do another!

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Hike path

My Wellies and I

My Wellies and I

My favorite view from the hike

My favorite view from the hike

Sheep were everywhere...they even ran across our path!

Sheep were everywhere…they even ran across our path! (don’t judge them based on their menacing look, they did wait till we passed to sprint across the grass- yeah sheep sprint- cool band name)

After the hike, we explored the pretty town of Broadway for a little while, and then went to another town by the water to finally eat some fish and chips! They were the best fish and chips I’ve ever had, though my heart still goes out to that fried fish sandwich I ate at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville restaurant (try it before you judge). This village was really pretty, with matching old-fashioned-looking buildings and a lot of shops and tiny restaurants.

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Fish and chips served with mushy peas

We then went to the Painswick Rococo Garden, which was incredible. This is probably just the amount of books I’ve had to read in the past few weeks, but it reminded me of what I think Narnia would look like. We explored around there for a little while, climbing up paths and going into parts of castles with a view of the snowdrop flowers growing on the hills. We also made a wish at the pond (because there is a two pence coin I decided that the two pence coin entitles you to two wishes) and made our way through a maze, complete, of course, with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire-style references. 

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My favorite castle- aka my new home

Rococo Garden

Rococo Garden

View from one of the paths at the Rococo Garden

View from one of the paths at the Rococo Garden

Took a selfie with Shakespeare here

Took a selfie with Shakespeare here

We then had cake and tea, which I obviously felt the need to make as coffee-like as possible, as evidenced by my choice of cake (a coffee-flavored one). I am liking tea more than I did at home, but coffee (that’s the end of that sentence; even though it’s an incomplete phrase, it just works).

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Coffee-flavored cake & tea

So I realize that this post is super-long and I haven’t even written about the places that are in the title of the post. If you’re still reading, thanks and I apologize for the Lord of the Rings-type length of this blog post (and I apologize for yet another reference to that- they’ve seriously taken over my brain).

The following two trips were the coolest. We went on a trip to The Daily Telegraph, a British newspaper, and to the BBC headquarters. The Telegraph office was amazing and looked just as I had pictured it (with help from the HBO show The Newsroom). I also saw someone who looked just like Jim Harper in their newsroom, so that was pretty awesome. It made me want to work in media that much more and I can’t wait till I get a sweet desk like the ones behind me in this picture!

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Standing in front of The Telegraph newsroom at work

The BBC was the next place we stopped, which was also so cool. I’m using that adjective a lot, but the day was SO COOL. Being in London in general was amazing, but then going to these places just made it extremely cool (there it is again!). We got a tour of the BBC and I even got to be an anchorwoman (though they call them broadcast journalists in England). It was a lot of fun, though the timing of the reading off of the teleprompter is pretty difficult. Luckily no one put a question mark on the prompter, ’cause anything you put on that prompter, I will read (as you can see, a lot of Anchorman jokes were made at the time).

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BBC headquarters

So basically, it was one of the coolest days ever (had to throw in that adjective one more time).

If you’ve stuck with me this whole way, thank you and I owe you a crispy m&m, which I actually ended up finding in a rest stop on the way back from London! You can’t get them in the U.S. anymore, as far as I know, and here is my face when I finally got to eat one after four years of being deprived of their wonderfulness:

Crispy m&ms

Thanks for reading :o)

Reading, Coffee, and More Reading

Hi everyone! I’ve been super busy with classes and reading and more reading so I’m finally getting to update this!

So everything here is going well! Classes have started and all of my tutors are really smart and friendly. Though the reading is really time-consuming, it is really interesting and mostly entertaining to read. The classes I’m taking all involve really awesome literature, so I can’t really complain.

I’m also taking a media course, which I really love. Work on the syllabus includes comparing the U.S. Office and the original U.K. Office, as well as watching Notting Hill. If you know my rom-com preferences (which you may because it is one of my favorite topics for both writing and speaking), you may know that Notting Hill is not on the top of my list (or rather not-ting on the top of my list–lol). But complaining about watching a rom-com for class just seems wrong. Plus Hugh Grant is in it.

Some interesting things I’ve done this past week have been Galentines Day with my housemates (Feb. 13th compliments of one of the greatest characters of all time, Leslie Knope of Parks and Rec), joining a gym (I joined both willingly and surprisingly), and going to a Motown night at a local club, which basically involved a lot of me-at-a-sweet-16-or-bat-mitzvah dancing, a.k.a me-dancing-at-any-time dancing, and some really good music. I also went with a housemate to a Shabbat dinner at the university which was really fun. I got to meet a lot of cool people and made some friends!

Cooking update: if anyone was wondering if oily is a consistency for food, I have indeed managed to achieve that feat. Needless to say, that dish went in the garbage after a motivated, but very trying, attempt at eating it.

I am learning a thing or two about cooking, at least. The main thing I’ve learned is that instant rice can be, and will be, your best friend. As well as instant coffee if you’re feeling particularly frugal that day. Basically anything instant = instant friend (lol).

Other than that, I drink lots of coffee and I’ve pretty much been reading all of the time. It’s kind of inspired me to change the word “win” in that song “All I Do is Win” to “read.” I realize how nerdy that sounds, but I previously used to sing it as “All I Do is Eat,” so take it or leave it.

I’ve also managed to walk around the city a little bit, as we’ve had a tiny bit of sun and not so much rain lately! Here are some pictures:

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I’ve been making a lot of traveling plans and trying to fill up weekends with cool trips, so hopefully there is some exciting stuff to come! Definitely everything Harry Potter will be accomplished, though I will probably have seeing-Andy Samberg-at-SNL-level reactions to seeing all of the cool stuff about the books and movies.

And if you haven’t seen how I feel after I start making travel plans, here is a picture of Liz Lemon to show you:

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That’s it for now! Thanks for reading :0) !

I’ve been here for a week!

So, it’s been a whole week since I’ve gotten to England! I will admit the whole “it feels like I’ve been here forever” statement is actually true; I really feel like I’ve been here for way more than seven days.

It may be due to the fact that these past seven days have been jam-packed with a ton of tours, orientation meetings, and a trip. Yesterday (well yesterday for those of you reading in America, it’s five hours ahead here!) we went to Stonehenge as a group, as well as Salisbury and Lacock. The trip lasted the whole day and was my favorite we’ve had so far.

Stonehenge was awesome. That is such a short and non descriptive statement but there doesn’t seem to be any other way to put it. I’ve been hearing about it since I was little and to actually see it (and take some selfies with it, of course) was, to use that lovely word again, awesome. The visitor center is new and has only been there for a few weeks, complete with a cafe, which I really appreciated after all of the wind. I’ve made the joke once and I’ll make it again: the stones did indeed stay intact, but my hair was not so lucky.

Stonehenge (along with a nice idea of what my hair was doing)

There was also a gift shop, and if I’m anything, I’m a sucker for a good gift shop. I ended up passing on the “Stonehenge ROCKS” shirt (difficult, with my love of puns) and going with a newspaper from the time of Stonehenge’s construction. It has everything from a debate of whether or not cave art is art to a feature of a man who burns his finger trying to use fire. Didn’t see any Weird News though, but it will have to serve as some inspiration for Gettysburgian articles to come.

After Stonehenge, we visited the medieval town of Salisbury, complete with the most beautiful cathedral I’ve seen so far. What’s crazy about the cathedral is that it only took about 40 years to build, unlike a lot of the other ones I’ve seen which took hundreds of years to be completed. We also got to see one of the four original copies of the Magna Carta from 1215 (I will admit I did know the date of its writing from Billy Madison).

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Salisbury Cathedral

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One of the ceilings of Salisbury Cathedral

After Salisbury, we got back on the bus and went to Lacock, my favorite stop of the day. Lacock is the coolest village, untouched by modern business and technology. All telephone wires, cables, and satellite dishes are not allowed to be viewed from the street, making the village look as if it were stuck in a past time.

The Abbey there was closed, but we were told that it was the site for Snape’s Potions classroom and the Defense Against the Dark Arts room in the Harry Potter movies. We also got to see the house where Harry Potter’s parents lived (and died- spoiler alert, but if you haven’t read the books- why on Earth would you be reading my blog and not the Harry Potter books?)

After we walked around a little, we ate dinner in the oldest pub in Lacock, built in the 1300s. The owner of the pub told us how the town is used a lot by filmmakers, with movies like Pride and Prejudice and The Wolfman using Lacock as a movie set. The town also smelled like bonfire, which is clearly one of the best smells in the world. I was surprised it didn’t also smell like warm cookies.

Lacock Bakery

Lacock Bakery

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Tonight we went to “Poetry and a Pint,” where community members came to read some of their poetry at a local pub. It was cool listening to all of the poems, which were about anything and everything you could think of. There was also a published poet who read from some of her books. I tried another type of cider, and I think I need to start keeping a list so I can figure out which is the best. I usually try to listen to what the local people are ordering- British people seem to know their stuff.

In terms of a coffee update, I’ve been pretty loyal to one shop in particular. And I mean that literally, I have a loyalty card and everything (8 more to a free drink!). But I’ll definitely be trying out more coffee shops in the city as I attempt my reading list (see my last blog post if you want a picture of my pile of books!).

So there’s an update, thanks for reading! :o)

I’m here! Day 4

Hi everyone reading this!

Day 4 in England and I’m finally writing for this thing! I’m exhausted and have little to no energy so hopefully this works out better than me trying to navigate the London Heathrow Airport (we need to remember that pressing buttons on the “lifts” is essential in order to achieve a floor-change).

So…I’m here! It’s been a crazy week, with orientation and everything, but it feels like I’ve already been here for so long. My house is really cool and I’ve met some awesome people! The city itself is really beautiful, with cobblestone streets and old-fashioned buildings, complete with a centuries-old Abbey and the Roman baths. The people here are pretty beautiful as well– never have I seen so many well-dressed people in my entire life.

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The city! 2-3-14

The city streets

The city streets

Adjusting to being here and everything has been a little easier with all of the stuff we’ve been doing, including tours of the city and tests that give our tutors (that’s what they’re called here) a sense of what we know about the subjects we’re taking. I miss home and all of you lovely people but hopefully I’ll have some cool stories to tell you when I get back to the States!

One of my favorite things I’ve gotten to do so far is take a tour of the Abbey with a group of other students. There was a reception for us before where we got to talk to the guides and they gave us desserts and biscuits (English word for cookies- clearly an important one for me to know). The Abbey is so old and beautiful, with monuments on the walls in memoriam of people who lived hundreds of years ago.

The Abbey

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The Abbey

One of my favorite memorials represented a husband and wife’s life and was engraved with a phrase reading, “Their love was disinterested.” As unromantic as that sounds, it’s actually one of the most romantic statements anyone could possibly have on their monument at Bath Abbey (or anywhere else, for that matter). “Disinterested” in this case means that they loved each other so much that they weren’t interested in much else of the world outside of focusing on the other. It’s so cool how words can change meaning and represent so much to people. Sounds like a nice idea for a rom-com. I’ll have my people call Colin Firth’s people.

Memorial

Memorial

Shopping and cooking my own food is pretty hilarious, considering I have no idea how to be an adult. But I guess that will come eventually, accompanied by a lot of questions to the stock guys along the lines of “Do you have peanut butter?” Side note: Will you realize when you’ve eaten pasta for one too many meals?

I’ll post some more pictures on Facebook! I apologize for the state of my pictures and my lack of photo-taking skills. I’ll hopefully be taking a photo class at the British university to learn just how that contraption called a camera operates.

The restaurants and pubs here are really cool, and my favorite drink I’ve tried so far has been the cider. Luckily, it’s legal here (and expensive-woo!).

First cider in England

First cider in England

Hopefully I’ll be able to write on this blog a lot, but I’ll be posting lots of stuff on Instagram and Twitter (apologies for the amount of tweets I solely think are funny).

One of my goals for the months I’ll be here is to try every coffee shop in the city. The city itself isn’t too big and at the rate I’m going I should be able to achieve that goal twice…or three times.

Though it does seems as if most of my time will be occupied by the contents of the following picture, my reading list for the semester:

Reading list for this semester

Reading list for this semester

Pictures to come!

Thanks for reading! :o)