Sunday, June 15, 2014

Those Final Days

One of these days, I will blog more regularly...

With my exams finally over, during my last week or so in London I set out to do all of the typical tourist things I hadn't yet done, like the seeing the changing of the guard and visiting the Sherlock Holmes museum. I know it seems strange that it took almost all 5 months to do it despite me knowing before I even got to London that I wanted to do these things, but there is just so much to do in London that I somehow never got around to it! After the first few weeks, I felt so at home that I honestly forgot about doing much of the tourist things in favor of more day-to-day things that your typical tourist may not get to. And I'm sure there are still things I may not have done that I will need to do next time.

Fortunately, the weather was absolutely gorgeous. If you weren't able to make it to one of London's many parks, I feel for you. It seems as though everyone was out at Regents Park or my personal favorite, Hampstead Heath, or any park. It was so nice especially after long exams.

Funny enough, when I went to see the changing of the guard, I spotted a man in a Penn State hat. So of course, when I caught his eye, I gave him a good ole "We Are" and he responded with the "Penn State". Both of us, and his (presumably) family had big smiles after. Gotta love finding fellow Penn Staters across the pond!

A few days before we left, CIEE had a farewell tea for us at the posh Royal Gardens Hotel. Everyone got all dolled up for some lovely afternoon tea, finger foods, and champagne. Here it finally hit me that my five months were over even though it felt like I had just landed at Heathrow for the first time. It was hard not to let the overwhelming feeling of sadness creep up at times. Saying goodbye to all of the friends I'd made was so surreal. Some of my friends were staying a bit longer than me because their programs were not over just yet, and listening to them make plans was kinda sad to hear. Although some of those plans were for summer meet ups in the states, so that helped ease the pain of leaving. Or maybe it was the champagne. Either way this was truly the perfect way to end my term abroad.

As a final fun touristy a bunch of us went to Harrods after tea. It took ever little ounce of will power in my body not to go bananas in the makeup and fashion sections. Although seeing the price tags did help to control my shopaholic-ness... At one point, my friend Christina and I made our way to the *best* part of Harrods: THE DISNEY STORE! We may or may not have gone a little crazy... I regret nothing. Disney is the best and who wouldn't want to chill with huge figurines of Woody and Olaf and the rest of the Disney gang? Crazy people. That's who. But our little adventure did mean we lost the rest of our group but also got to have a blast being kids at heart we are and later have a refreshing heart-to-heart, in the middle of Harrods, because why not!

The night ended at Kings Cross. I don't have to tell you what picture we took there, do I? Unfortunately, the wall didn't budge. We must've been too late to catch the Hogwarts Express. Bummer.

I could go on and on and on about how incredibly grateful I am to have had the opportunity to live and study in a different country for 5 months but there truly are no words that would do it justice. I can only hope that I will be able to go back and study for my postgraduate degree or simply to visit as I fell completely in love with the city and do miss it terribly. My months in London were some of the best of my life and I will cherish them for as long as I live.

As a final note, if anyone ever has any questions about the study abroad process or anything remotely related to it, do give me a shout and I will gladly be of help in anyway that I can. :)


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Winston Churchill and New Piercings

Now that I've been home for over a week and have conquered my jet lag, I think it's time to revisit some London adventures that haven't made an appearance on the blog yet!

The first weekend in May a bunch of us ladies from my program hopped on a bus and headed a bit north to Blenheim Palace, and then Oxford for a day trip.

I must say, I felt a bit bad for our male tour guide being stuck with all of us girls for an entire day, but he was friendly and didn't seemed to mind. I don't know how he didn't go bonkers! (I sure as hell would've)

For those who don't know, Blenheim Palace was built in the early 1700s and is best known for being the home of the Churchills for centuries, and most notably as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill.

The actual self-guided tour inside of the palace was short, but it was the outdoors that took my breath away. The weather itself was gorgeous so a few friends and I spent most of the time touring the outdoors. I could have spent hours, days even, just touring the grounds. It was that mesmerizing. It was like stepping back in time into a Jane Austen novel.  I felt a bit like Elizabeth, but sans her Mr. Darcy (the latter being *such* a bummer, sigh).

Yes, I know her novels were written a century later, but just go with it! She is my favorite author ever, and Pride and Prejudice happens to be my favorite book of all time. So, y'all can deal.

It wouldn't be a proper trip without some tea and each of us got our own little pot of something different. One of my friends decided to be daring and tried Lapsang souchong tea. It was tasty, but weird. A smoky, black tea that tasted like I was drinking smoked meat. Weird. I think I'll stick to my normal breakfast tea/ green teas.

Part II of our trip was a tour around the famous University of Oxford. If I learned anything about Oxford it was that I probably would've completely burned out before I left sixth form and reached uni level! Man, are they under some intense levels of stress. Although even if I could, I don't know if I could deal with the "academic dress" standards and looking put together all of the time. And by that, I mean even more so than I felt going to a uni in central London/ just off of Oxford Street. Because sometimes you just want to roll out of bed and go to class in sweats because you can and not give a damn.

Of course, the best part of seeing Oxford was seeing where they filmed some parts of Harry Potter over at Christ Church. Like the steps where Professor McGonagall told Harry and the rest of first-years about the sorting ceremony and then, of course, the Great Hall! I felt the strong urge to be a complete dork and rush home to watch the films over again... If only I was being sorted myself. (Then again, I already know I'm a Gryffindor)

Alas, that is not what I did when we arrived back in London as a few of us decided to head to a pub and hang out for the night. At some point, I'd mentioned wanting a new piercing and next thing I know, we were on the hunt for a place for us to get piercings. A nice memento for my semester abroad! I settled for a helix that's about in the middle of the ear, directly across from my tragus piercing. Of course, only 2 of the 3 of us got piercings that night... (Not that this last line is directed at anyone ;) ) Just a little nudging.

Until next time


Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Long Time No Chat

Hey all! Long time no chat!

Sorry for the lack of updates but since my last post I spent most of my time studying (and by studying I mean Netflix & cramming) for/ taking my final exams, and trying to enjoy my last few days in London since I leave this weekend. This has left little time to blog so I don't miss out on any last thing I want to do. This means being a super dorky tourist in a city I've called home and hope to call home again sometime in the future. But that's a ways off, for now.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe and a Guinness

I'm generally a pretty independent person. Sure, I still rely on my parents quite a bit financially, but in many aspects of the term I have always been pretty independent and self-reliant.

Having said that, never had I considered traveling anywhere solo. I always assumed I would simply go with one or more friends. However, circumstances came up that changed my travel plans, a few times actually, which made it so that traveling solo was my only option in some cases. And after much debating I finally said "to hell with it" and booked myself a flight to Dublin.

Despite my anxiety, I packed up and headed off for a few days all by me lonesome.

And I loved it.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Moby Dick – easy Grandma!

Hey there!

So I was going through some of my journal entries and my pictures when I realized there were some experiences that I hadn't written about yet that I knew I had wanted to share so I figured, why not! Better late than never.