Final post :(

Well, tomorrow is the day. The day we have to leave this beautiful city. I did not know that three and a half months could fly by so fast. This past week has been amazing. It is so bittersweet knowing that I have to leave my new family out here, but I am excited to see my family and friends. We had our final art history exam on Tuesday, what a relief it was to have that over and done! I will probably never again memorize 20 paintings, but if you want to know about impressionism or Dadaism I am your girl! After I went and did a little sightseeing at the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. I would have been upset with myself if I had missed seeing the crown jewels while I was here. Then that night we went to the Nutcracker Ballet. It was good but the whole no talking thing was just kind of boring to me. Looks like I am not a ballet kinda girl. Then Wednesday seven of us went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford, about an hour away from London. We got to see sets and props all used on the Harry Potter movies. It was absolutely incredible, a dream come true for a Harry Potter fan like me. I could see everything really coming to life and how they did so much of the cinematography. It was completely mind blowing. Then Thursday I had my last marketing final and last ethics class and we were FREE!! And today I have been doing my packing. I thought packing to come out here was hard, but imagine having all of that stuff plus everything I bought here. It is very difficult to say the least. Our cabs come at 5:30 tomorrow morning to bring to Heathrow International Airport for the flight home. I get home at 4pm, which is 10pm London time, quite the day of traveling to say the least. I just hope that my layover in Detroit isn’t horrible, I really hate that airpot. 

As these past few days have gone by I have realized that everything is my ‘last’. Like I just took my last shower at my home stay. Tonight will be our last time at Church Pub. Last night was the last time I will ride the night bus. So sad when I start to realize all of these things. I maybe will come back here in a few years time or maybe for a job, but this experience I have had for the past three and a half months can never be replaced. London will forever have a place in my heart for my future ahead and I will always look back to this trip. 

Even with that being said, there is definitely a few things that I have missed. We made a pro/con list on one of our day trips a few days ago. I thought I could share that with you, just so you know what I really miss out here. 

Things we are excited for at home:

-Use of a dryer

-No more looking for wifi for our phones, we have service everywhere!!

-Using a microwave again! 

-Dollars, no more getting screwed over by the exchange rate

-Free refills

-Driving and parking, except we are coming back in the middle of the winter so driving might be an experience in the beginning

-Access to ice

-Less travel time

-The UST campus

-Driving on the right side of the road, both literally and figuratively

-Target and Walgreens

-My full wardrobe back

 

Things we will miss about London:

-The night bus, although not everyone agrees with me but it is a free ride home that will take you anywhere at anytime!

-Pub lifestyle here

-All the culture and plays that we have experienced 

-The Library, no not literally a place you study. We have a pub IN our school called the Library

-Being of legal drinking age (for some), I turned 21 so I don’t have to worry about this

-The people we have met and who are from here

-Public transportation, YES it has grown on me

-A million sites to see that you will never get bored

-Always having friends here, being with 50 students we always have a friend to do stuff with

-Double decker buses, duh!

-The fashion, you can literally get away with wearing anything here

-City life

-Pret A Manger, they NEED to come to Minneapolis. Or EAT, I would take them too,

-Church Pub

-Pub Crawls any day possible

-Primark, people do not agree with me on this one either, but they have literally everything all in one store. If you can get past the crowds then this place is heaven. Shoes, clothes, accessories, luggage, coats, home decor, food, etc. you know what I mean!

If I could bring my friends and family to London, then I probably would. I would love to live here for the rest of my life. I could see myself doing it too. But I miss everyone at home, and I do not know if I could stay 6 hours away from everyone I love.

Lastly, in honor of people at home counting the hours until I get home. I thought I could do a little countdown of my own. My top 5 experiences and favorite things in London. My friends and I have been talking about our favorite/ most embarrassing moments out here. I honestly could not name one thing that I did that sticks out to be the BEST thing that I did. That is why I am afraid for when I go home because I will not have an answer for everyone when they want my 30 second speech on three and a half months. That is just not possible. I will sit down with you and talk for hours. I will literally talk your ear off because I have done so much stuff that I could tell stories for days. Explaining this experience in a few minutes just does not justify it. This list of only 10 things is also not justifying my time here, but it helps to those of you who have not studied abroad. Once you do it, you will understand. << My friends who have studied abroad before said the exact same thing and I did not understand. But once you study abroad, something changes. You grow up and mature into a whole new person. There are things we have experienced here that, if I told someone who has not studied abroad, they just would not understand. I know that maybe that does not make sense and I am rambling. But to sum it up, this experience was beyond the best thing to ever happen to me.

5) Switzerland. Who does not want to skydive through the Swiss Alps if given the chance? If you said you would pass, then you are either my mother or crazy! I got to canyon jump and skydive in the Alps. I know that many people will not get that experience. Although it was a bit chilly (we have been spoiled in London with 50 degree weather this whole time) seeing the Alps and having an adrenaline weekend was awesome. This lists on the top 5 because each trip that I get to take with my family of LBS is automatically amazing. This group of kids makes each trip beyond compare because when we all get together it is atomically fun. Switzerland was not just beautiful but it was exhilarating to be in the mountains. I would go back here in an instant. 

4) Rome, Venice, Barcelona. What did you do for midterm break? Oh you went ‘up north’, yeah I went to Italy and Spain. Beat that. Rome was one of my favorite cities that I got to experience here. This trip was an amazing one for myself. I could travel with three good friends around beautiful countries. And I fit 10 days of clothing into ONE suitcase. Not even a suitcase, a weekend bag that had to fit in RyanAir carry on restrictions. Yes it was hard. But I would do it all again in a second. This trip showed me the backpackers way of life. Tour by day, party by night. I loved these 10 days, we saw new cultures and saw some of the best known monuments around from the Vatican and Colosseum in Rome to the Segrada Familia in Barcelona.

3) The pub lifestyle. The way they do things over here is so chill to say it bluntly. They think that having a pint with dinner is how it is supposed to be. I agree with that. You can meet your friends for drinks after work or go with your family to a pub to watch a sporting event. I will very much miss the ciders that they have to offer out here. Sorry beer but you are only drank rarely on occasion. But the ciders on the other hand, they are something that the states need to get. I love grabbing a pint with my friends after class. The drinking culture of the United States is very different and you are shamed for grabbing a beer in the afternoon, while here it is normal. I have realized these cultural differences. So who wants to get some happy hours after work this spring? Lets make the pub culture come back home with us!

2) Scotland. This trip was the first big trip that brought our family of 50 together. It might have been the hours upon hours on the buses or the sleepless nights that brought us together. But this trip was actually unforgettable. The Scottish Highlands were gorgeous. This trip made me want to consider grad school at St. Andrew. Scotland is beyond beautiful. I still catch myself looking back to this trip with a smile on my face. I met some of my best friends here. Although we did get caught trying to swim in Loch Ness by our bus driver, this trip was probably one of the best trips I had this whole time. 

1) The people I have met. You are the reasons that I have enjoyed my time in London. This group of 50 of us is the most amazing group that I can imagine. Through the thick and thin, we all have each others backs. You kind of have to be friends with you are all pushed together in a different country. Bu we made the best of it and ended up creating a family. I know that when we will see each other in classes, at the bars, or just on campus we will all be eager to say hello and greet the other with a huge hug. Thank you to each of you for being such a great group to experience this country with and for each of us to grow up. I know that each of us might not think that we grew or matured, but looking back to September when we were all nervous and not sure what to expect, we have grown up since then. We have broadened our cultures and opened our eyes to the world. This experience I would not change for anything, and you people are included with that!

Cheers, London!

 

One more week!

We leave in 5 days… I still cannot believe it. I am so excited to see my friends and family at home for the holidays, but I am going to miss this London lifestyle so much. In an ideal world I could come home for the holidays and then just come back for second semester. This group of 50 students that I came out here with have been absolutely wonderful, I could not have chosen a better group of friends. They are practically family now.

Since Switzerland, we have done so much! No crazy adventures to other countries, but we celebrated our last weekend as a big group. Last night I slept for 12 hours and went to bed at 8:30pm if that explains our weekend. We had our final presentation for Business Ethics, so I am completely done with one class! We have our COJO presentation tonight then art history exam tomorrow and marketing exam Thursday, then I am done!! What a weight off of my shoulders…

Tuesday night we went to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It was on the completely opposite side of musicals than Les Mis. It was good, but a little odd to say the least. Obviously I had to eat a Wonka Bar while we were there! Wednesday was my last day at my volunteering site, I can’t say that I will be sad to go but I will definitely miss the people that entertained me every Wednesday for the last three months. Once we were done on Thursday with classes, all 50 of us decided we had to celebrate together. We also had two birthdays this weekend so we had to make it memorable. Saturday we had to day trip to Leeds Castle and the Rochester Christmas Market. Aside from the crazy crowds, it was so much fun. There was not much to do there other than shop and eat so I got a huge brat and some soup, it was almost on the level of the Minnesota State Fair but not as large. Then Sunday we woke up bright and early and went to Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. It was something that we HAD to do while in London and would have been so mad at ourselves if we had not seen it while were here. The rest of the day was full of studying and napping and then going to bed super early.

This week is our last week of classes. I wish we had ended class this week and then had a few extra days to tour because right now we either have to decide to study for exams or do our last minute touristy fun things. And to be honest, I will probably decide to go do the touristy things because when will I be in London next? I will not always remember the nights we stayed in and studied but we will remember the fun, exciting things we did around London. (Don’t kill me mom and dad!)

I am so split about leaving here. I will always remember this semester and how much that we did. It was such an opportunity of a lifetime that not many people get the chance to do. As much as I love Minnesota, it will just never live up to London.

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Switzerland!

Late last night, I got home from one of the craziest, most amazing, thrilling weekend of my life. Our group of 50 students took a trip to Interlaken, Switzerland where I became the daredevil I knew I truely was. Although I missed Thanksgiving with my family and was sad that I missed them, I did get to spend it with my new London family out here.

We left Thursday afternoon. We even got classes cancelled for the holidays! But travel days from London get to be so long! Our bus ride to London-Gatwick airport was just about two hours, then we had an hour and fifteen minute flight to Basel, Switzerland and then had to take another two hour bus ride to Interlaken, Switzerland to arrive just around 11pm on Thanksgiving. SInce we got in so late, we did not get a proper dinner that day, but I did get to Skype my family to hear them celebrating the holidays the right way, with the whole family in tow.

After sleeping that night, we were ready for a weekend of thrill. Our hostel is ranked to be one of the best in the world, and it did not disappoint at all. Interlaken is known for extreme sports, so we had to experience it all while we were there. Friday at noon I decided I better skydive, why not right? Me and six of my friends went skydiving through the Swiss Alps (video is at the bottom). It was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever done. I was in the third group for our skydiving group so I got to watch a bunch of other people jump before me. In the first group of four, two of the girls came back crying and one even threw up…. Not a good start to our day seeing them freak out when they landed. The next group of four were so excited and absolutely loved it. We saw the plane fly up 13,000 feet and these tiny bodies just zooming out of the plane. When it was my turn, I was terrified by so excited at the same time. It was a 15 minute flight up to the clouds and then when the light came up, we jumped! My tandem partner was Nick, and I could not have asked for a better guide! We had a 45 second free fall through the sky, then the parachute came out and we floated our way down to the ground and landed perfectly. I loved it and would do it all again in a second. Where else is a better place to skydive than the Swiss Alps right? Thursday night we got a Thanksgiving dinner with a lot of people at our hostel, including turkey, potatoes, gravy, and veggies. It was good but just could not compare to the normal meals back home! 

Saturday I did not have any crazy things planned, other than to night sled down the mountains, but there was not enough snow so it unfortunately got cancelled. Instead, we decided to walk around the city of Interlaken and see the city. We tried Swiss chocolate and were tourists for the day. Interlaken is between two lakes, thats how it gets its name. That afternoon we went to Lake Thun and saw the beautiful views. It was a very chill day but it was fun to relax and sip hot chocolate by the fire in the cold Alps.

Sunday we had to wake up early and be daredevils once again. At 9am we went canyon jumping. Even just writing about this makes me anxious. I did not enjoy it quite as much as many other people did. We had to jump off this tiny platform around 90 meters high. We free fell down into the canyon and FINALLY the rope caught us during our free fall to swing through the canyon. As we fell, it felt like forever. I literally was falling, with nothing to hold onto, and just waited for the rope to catch. It was horrible and I hated it…. But I am so glad that I did it in the end. Our bus to the airport came around 5pm and the rest of the day we hung out and sat by the fire. With our long commute back to our homestays, we arrived around 1am and were exhausted. Class today was not enjoyable whatsoever. I literally cannot express how amazing this weekend was, so thats why I have videos to prove it!!! Be aware, they are scary and you might think I died during the canyon jump. But I am alive! 

Skydiving:

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Nick:

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Before the jump:

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Interlaken:

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Lake Thun:

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SKYDIVING VIDEO:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CASd7aq1D9E&feature=youtu.be 

CANYON JUMPING VIDEO:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrssVgKuW0g&feature=youtu.be 

Bath & Stonehenge

Last night we got back from our two day trip to Southwest England of the Baths and Stonehenge. We left bright and early Friday morning, fighting rush hour traffic with luggage and came back last night just to see the tubes were down. It was eventful but these trips with all 50 of us are by far the best ones I have gone on.

I was excited to see the Baths and Stonehenge, it looks just like the pictures. Friday morning we started out with about a two hour drive to Avebury. We saw a crypt that was over 5,000 years old that they are pretty sure around 48 people are buried there. Creepy because there were 47 of us on the trip. Thankfully we all came back alive! We also went to the largest stone circle in England in Avebury. It went around the whole city with rocks about 20 feet apart from each other. These things were so old, but HUGE. Our guide, Russell, said that the largest rocks weighed up to 60 tons. How on earth did the people move and bury these things?! We then headed over to the city of Bath for some free time and lunch. We were all starving so we found a cute pub to eat at. We met the group for our audio guided tour of the Baths. There is so much information that we learned other than just going and looking at all the baths. And there is so many filled in there. We were not supposed to touch the water because it is unclean, but we did it anyways. Wanted to get a little bit of history while we were there. Proceeded to sanitize our hands seconds later though so we wouldn’t get meningitis! I wish we could have had more time in the city Bath because of all the shops, it it actually a super cute town! We were running late (of course!) and Russell took us on a speed walking tour quick. At some points we were running to catch up with him. But we saw some of the famous historical houses where writers and painters lived. We stayed at a small hotel literally in the middle of nowhere, but they fed us a gourmet three course meal for dinner so we could not complain! That night we played a huge group game of mafia. When you play for seven hours you really get to see everyone’s competitive side! I hit the hay at 2am, but some people stayed up till 4 because they were so into it.

On Saturday morning we got a nice breakfast from the hotel and hit the road by 815. We went to Glastonbury Tor, which is a huge hill overlooking the cities where many beheadings took place years ago. It was quite the hike up the hill, but we all made it and got to see the breathtaking views, and not because we were out of breathe and it was cold! We then headed to the town of Glastonbury and toured the Abbey where King Arthur was buried. We took some free time in the city, only to realize it was a witchcraft city to put it lightly. They had potions, broomsticks, tarot card readings, and all that kind of stuff in each storefront. Kind of creepy. We left Glastonbury and made it to Stonehenge where our guide was adamant about how they are changing the tour center. The parking lot and gift shop are literally right next to the historical site, they are currently building a new one to open in a month where all visitors have to park there and then walk a mile and a half to the site in order to get the full natural experience instead of hearing cars in the background. But even with the noise it was beautiful. Russell took us on a long walk to tell us stories about it away from the huge crowds of people. It was an awesome experience to say we got to see the famous rocks of Stonehenge! 

We got back last night in order to change and get our stuff together for a night out! It is sad to know that we leave in less than three weeks now. I can’t focus on that or else it is upsetting, we just have to make these last three weeks the best they can be. We are going to tea at Harrods this week and then leaving for Switzerland on Thursday! 

Baths:

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Glastonbury:

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Stonehenge:

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Bittersweet Goodbyes

So today I was thinking about all the things that I am going to miss from London and all the things I am excited about for when I get back to the states. It is still an ongoing list but this is what I have come up with:

Things I will miss in London:

-The night bus

-Pret A Manger

-British accents

-Everyone being so kind and willing to help you to where you are going

-Being able to fly wherever you want for less than $100

-Primark and Top Shop

-Being able to walk around aimlessly and be entertained, find a landmark, or be intrigued by the area around you

-Always have some traveling or sightseeing to do. There are still places I wish I could have gone!

-My 49 other LBSers with me!

Things I won’t miss in London:

-The sometimes nasty smells that you come across on the streets, mostly urine

-Long tube rides in the morning

-British sarcasm, I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND IT!

-The exchange rate

-Having to use a converter for all my stuff to plug in

-The 6 hour difference to friends back home

Things I miss from home:

-Buffalo Wild Wings boneless wings

-Being able to shop for everything at one stop, like Target

-Having my own room

-Being about to walk across the street from campus, a 5 minute commute max

-Waunakee, WI

-My family <3

I am sure there is so much more stuff, but I am focused on registering for my classes now. I will add more stuff in a bit when I have thought about it more!!!

In three weeks when we make our way back to the states, it definitely will be bittersweet. I will be so happy to see everyone and celebrate Christmas with my family, but I know in a week’s time I will be missing the hussle and bussle of London and this whole amazing area. Also, those cheap flights to EVERYWHERE in Europe on RyanAir, we seriously need something like that in the states.

But tonight I am going to the Hunger Games premiere in Leicester Square at midnight, it is going to be a long night with class tomorrow but completely worth it! There are over 20 of us going, so if we all fall asleep in class tomorrow then its okay, right?

Also, I have to most likely check a third suitcase to come home with, which is very unfortunate. I should have thought it trough a little better because I brought two suitcases here completely full to the brim. And with the shopping that has happened in these last few months, I definitely need a suitcase. I will be taking donations if you are willing. Since half of that third suitcase is presents anyways!!

I miss you all! Just think, in three weeks I will be a legal adult getting happy hour with everyone and taking on Madison AND St. Paul by storm!

November already?!

Okay everyone… I have not updated this in over TWO WEEKS. So here it goes, I do not blame you whatsoever if you get bored of reading it though. I will try to keep it brief and entertaining for you.

I think I left off around Halloween time. Great holiday by the way. But that Saturday was my birthday! YAY 21! Time for my first drink when I get home. Almost all 50 of the LBS students went out on a pub crawl, I could not have hoped for a better birthday with them all. My roommate, Alicia, even got me a little cake to celebrate with.

The rest of the weekend we went into Camden Market for the best greasy food you can ask for and watched Friday Night Lights all day. Surprisingly, our host mom is an avid watcher of it and has every season for us to watch while we are here!

Monday started as usual but I got to see my parents that night! I skipped my night class, whoops! and went to meet them at the hotel. They were only a few blocks from school and after going to the wrong hotel once we finally got situated in London! They had been traveling for a while by that time so they were exhausted and I think happy to hear English for the first time in a long long time. With them in the cities, we got to do a lot of the touristy things I had not done yet. Without class on Tuesday and Wednesday, we got a lot of time to tour the city! We went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, its over 300 years old. Compared to a lot of the cathedrals and basillicas I have seen, it is not nearly as old but it is amazing all the same. Same place that Princess Diana got married and where Margaret Thatcher’s funeral was. I showed them around Trafalagar Square, Leicester Square and Picadilly Circus and we ate traditional fish and chips at a pub for dinner. We lucked out and got tickets for War Horse for Tuesday night from my school for a cheaper price than we could have ever bartered down to, so we go to see a show in London. I don’t think my mom could have been happier.

Wednesday we started out with a true english breakfast of beans, bacon, eggs, toast, and so much more. They are absolutely HUGE. We toured Westminster Abbey along with hundreds of other people, I swear that place is never not busy. We had to take a look into the infamous Harrods. We even got hot chocolate and coffee on one of the levels, not worth the money if you ask me. My dad and I toured the British Museum and by that time we were sacked out. I normally do not take naps during the day, but with them waking me up so early and wearing me out, it was much needed. We experienced Chinatown for dinner that night too, something I wish I could have access to daily.

They jetted off to Paris for Thursday and Friday. I do not think they like those French too much. They got their Ipad stolen in the metro so they came back a little sulky and swearing at those French! But I got to see them for the weekend before they had to fly home Monday. We attempted to go to the Beefeater Distillery but to our misfortune they were under construction so we couldn’t see how the gin was made. Sunday morning we went to Camden Town, this seems to be a weekly routine in my life now. But with them we discovered so many more places than I had ever seen in my time here. We ate SO MUCH FOOD and saw so many cute shops. It made me want to completely redesign my house with the British decorations, but getting those home would cost a fortune. My favorite part with them may have been going to the casino and watching the Packers game on Sunday night. We met a lot of British people who were packers fans and got to eat and drink for practically free, with my coupons of course. Such a local I am. I had to say goodbye to them and head to class on Monday. It was a sad morning, but I think they were ready to get home and sleep in their own bed. But this last month will FLY for me I know and by the time they know it, I will be home decorating Xmas cookies for them and drinking hot chocolate by the fire. Who knows, maybe you guys can get me back to the lake to watch packer’s games outside this winter.

Thursday me and 12 other girls headed to Dublin for the weekend. My mom was a tad jealous of this trip because she is very Irish. I had to see where my roots came from! We arrived Thursday night and of course had to go experience the one thing that everyone does in Dublin, drink. We went to a traditional pub with live music. It was amazing but made London look cheap! Those drinks, I tell ya, were expensive! If you have seen P.S. I Love You with Gerard Butler, you will understand what I mean here: In the movie he sings to Holly an Irish song. I have no idea what the name of it is. But the performer on Thursday night sang that exact song and I freaked out just a little bit. I met a few people who go to Trinity College here for the grad degrees and they taught me all sorts of Irish songs and taught me some local slang. On Friday some of our friends went to the Cliffs of Mohr but I did not want to spend 12 hours on a bus so the rest of us toured Dublin for a bit  and did the Jameson Whiskey Tour. I did not think I liked whiskey, but after that tour I don’t hate it at all. I might even dare to say I like it! We got to see how the old distillery was used and how they made it there. Even got a free drink out of it. We did a little bit of shopping, Dublin is so small in comparison to London we felt that everything is so close to each other, it was awesome. Saturday all 13 of us got back together and planned to do a walking tour. When we got to the meeting place they told us that they don’t take groups of more than 10. Even if we split up we were not allowed to come on the walking tour. This is the absolute stupidest rule I have ever heard and they will be getting a HORRIBLE review on travel advisor in the next hour. We decided to make our own walking tour while reading signs and pretending to be our own tour guides, it actually ended up working better this way. We saw the Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Trinity College, and Christ Church to start. I absolutely loved Trinity College and would love to do my grad school there, just an idea mom don’t worry! I wouldn’t mind being around the Irish accents all day either. We did the Guinness Storehouse tour that afternoon. Now Guinness I did not like as much as the Jameson, but the tour was so interactive it was awesome. We got to pour the ‘perfect pint’ and pass their schools. I recommend doing that tour to anyone who is ever in Dublin! And Sunday we flew home nice and early in time to do some homework (or go on Facebook) for the afternoon.

Here are some pictures from the past two weeks! My friends all have better cameras than me so I let them take the pictures usually so that’s why there are not too many here! Also, my dad took most of the pictures with the family so he has those if you are dying to see them!

My birthday!!

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Mum and dad:

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Jameson Distillery tour:

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Christ Church:

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Trinity College:

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Guinness Storehouse:

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The PERFECT pour according to The Guinness Academy!

perfect pourguinness

I will be home on December 14th for everyone that was unsure! And in Waunakee until the end of the month so I expect to see everyone for the holidays!

Halloweenie!

We got snapped back into reality this week. Back to homework and quizzes instead of exploring other parts of the world. But coming back has not been the worst thing, I am so happy to be back home in London, ready to explore the city some more. Monday was full of jet lag and catching up, thankfully our classes got cancelled on Tuesday so I got the day to go shopping. With Halloween coming up we had the day to find cute dresses and plan out our costumes. Those days in London are the absolute best, no time crunch to get back for or no need to do anything, just time to roam around and get lost in London for the day. I wish we had more of them, but rather that silly schooling is getting in the way.

For extra credit in class in the beginning of the semester we had the opportunity to make videos of ourselves in groups going on a scavenger hunt to places around the city, describing how these places relate to our classes and objectives. Thursday between classes we had a party with all 50 of us and watched all 10 groups of videos. Our video was based on a James Bond movie. Here is the link if you want to watch it, but remember we are not actors nor film editors by any means. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LDnO0nabto0

Thursday night was Halloween!! I LOVE Halloween. Six of us dressed up as the Real Housewives, and since they do not have the show out here we turned it into The Real Housewives of London. Pearls, giant wedding rings, aprons, little black dresses and heels in tow. I even had a wooden cooking spoon to enhance the look. It was so much fun seeing everyone all dressed up and celebrating. Although they just don’t do it quite the same out here. But our home stay lives on a street where all the little kids come door to door dressed up, back home my house is in the middle of no where so we never got kids. Hearing the doorbell ring so many times in one night made me kind of thankful for that. Although I did love all the costumes.

This morning, Friday, we had a long day ahead of us. We had to meet everyone at 930 this morning for an Inns of Court Tour. It was very informative, but just way too early to be functioning the day after Halloween. We got to see the working places of lawyers in England and Wales and learn about how their court systems work, actually very different than back home. But the atmosphere was amazing, I would not mind working in a place that relaxing, or maybe we would never get anything done? After that tour we had lunch at this amazing burger joint, still does not compare to Blue Door though. Then we got a tour of the Lloyds of London building in central London. I assumed it was the building for the bank, but really it is just a HUGE building with all the ‘inners’ like the elevators and pipes on the outside. Very weird looking but it makes it unique. It is a home for insurance brokers and whatnot. It was cool to see a place where all the businesses are together and in order to make contracts they just walk over to their desks rather than communicating online. It is the only place in the world like this. I learned so much about insurance today, way more than I even imagined. 

This week has been a great week back from break, but I have so many more things to look forward to! Tomorrow is my 21st birthday and we are celebrating with a pub crawl around central london. My parents had said that they wanted to do a pub crawl, I wish they could attend this one with me! But they arrive Monday!!! I am so excited, the anticipation is killing me. They will be here for a week and we can do all sorts of fun things. Don’t worry everyone I will report back with stories. Hopefully nobody gets injured or put in jail with the three of us taking on London. I’m even going to force them through the crowds of Oxford Circus and bring them to Primark, hopefully nobody has a panic attack in that scary scary place. 

On a side note, I have been sick this whole week. The amount of vitamins and cough syrup I have taken is probably not healthy, but as long as I can stay healthy through the end of next week. On the other hand, if I had to get sick I’m glad its when I can have my mom take care of me. Also, this is kind of gross but bed bugs are in our homestay! YIKES! We seemed to have brought them back with us from our midterm break, so our room had to get fumigated to exterminate all the bugs. He is coming back next week again to double up. But all I can hope for is no bed bugs come with us across seas to UST. Sorry girls of 2090, I do not want bed bugs in our house or else Fred will probably kill us all. Sorry to end this blog on a sour note, but there is so much fun coming up nothing can keep me down! There is just so much that I do out here, but I don’t want to bore everyone with my rambles of our sleepovers with Nadine and Anna or what we talk about in class. So buh bye for now, but expect an amazing blog about my parents and my turning legal over here in the UK!

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Midterm Break!

So for the past nine days, as most of you know, I have been traveling around Europe for to Rome, Venice, and Barcelona. If you follow me on Instagram I am sorry for all the daily posts that are making you a little bit jealous, when its snowing in Minnesota we were hanging out in shorts and tank tops in 75 degree weather we had to rub it in just a little bit. The trip was everything I expected and more, I saw so many things I could only dream about witnessing along with experiencing the backpacker lifestyle and meeting so many people who do it for months on end. I am sorry but 10 days was long enough for me, I could not just pick up and leave with a backpack for three months, not always knowing where you would eat or sleep. This trip made me realize how much there really is to see in this world and while I am still over here I really need to make the best of it. 

(yes I did take daily notes in my phone for this blog and there are literally hundreds of pictures to see)

ROMA, ITALIA:

We left after our classes on Thursday, right after our exams, eight of us packed up and took a cab over to London Stansted to catch our afternoon flight. We arrived into Rome pretty late so we just got accustomed and met our roommates, in Rome there were six of us in one room. A quiet guy from Brazil I think, and another American who was traveling for three months. After doing some quick planning and getting a good nights sleep we were off to see Rome! We found out about a free walking tour, and of course being college kids we had to go along with that. Our tour guide showed us a lot of the main sites in Rome and explained them into much further detail than we ever could have (like their unemployment is 40%). We started at the Spanish Square, went to the Pantheon (the largest temple in Rome), Navona Square, Castle St. Angelo, and ended up in Vatican City. Vatican City was breathtaking. The main area, which I always thought was just called the Vatican, is St. Peter’s Basilica where the Pope actually speaks from. We missed him by two days, he comes out and makes a public appearance every Wednesday to the crowd outside. We went inside and toured this along with the Sistine Chapel and the Museums of the Vatican. I do not want to bore you with every little step we took, but this day was absolutely incredible. The Vatican City is completely surrounded by walls that separate it from actual Rome. We went all the way to the dome of St. Peters and got the best view of the city. Even if you are completely out of shape, if you are ever in Rome you need to do this! Walking up 551 steps is completely worth the view, you meet some cool people along the way too. We met a woman who went to St. Johns, small world!  You could see miles in each direction and see the Colosseum and practically to China I feel like. After our day of walking we needed to nap so we went back to the Yellow Hostel, definitely recommend this place for anyone traveling to Rome! So many cool people and the bartenders are awesome. 

Day two we decided to tour the Colosseum. This place was amazing. I never really knew the whole background of it before we went inside. And obviously it is old but the history behind it was incredible. The floor was torn out so you could see below where they actually fought and the small tunnels that they had going on. We saw a few of the Roman Forums, but again hunger and tiredness hit us and we needed a quick break. We headed over the the Trevi Fountain and pretended we were on the Lizzie McGuire movie and would hopefully find our future husbands by a quick wish. Unfortunately none of us found a secret twin that was a pop star, but we did have a lot of fun! We visited the fountain and made our wishes both during the day and at night. At night it is absolutely stunning, all lit up and romantic. 

Along with our days of sightseeing, the Italian food was amazing. Pizza and pasta galore. Their pizza was so thin that you never felt guilty eating it, it was always fresh out of the oven and cooked to perfection. Not quite like the Jack’s pizza we eat at home. Also, their gelato. I found a new love for gelato on this trip. From the lemon and strawberry to caramel and cookies and cream, there was literally every flavor imaginable. We spent far too much money on gelato but when its a hot day and you just climbed 551 steps, sometimes you just deserve a reward. Rome was incredible overall and anyone that has any desire to go visit, DO IT!

VENEZIA, ITALIA:

Sunday morning we took the train from Rome to Venice, I had to pay one whole cent to get Wifi for the train ride, but when its four hours long you sometimes just have to bite the bullet. Studying abroad does not let you use your phone like normal, we can use it for pictures but I leave mine on airplane mode 24/7, this means that you can only I-Message, use the internet, and go on Facebook when you have Wifi. I used this trip to FaceTime my parents, which was absolutely amazing, only 9 more days until they come!! We arrived in Venice to our little hostel, A Venice Fish, which I do not recommend to anyone. I repeat DO NOT STAY THERE! There were bedbugs and it was just overall a not nice hostel. But you win some, you lose some. After checking in we decided to go get some dinner. And of course as we are leaving dinner it is down pouring. We left London to get away from the rain but of course it decided to chase after us. We decided to run home, running through rain = bad idea. By the time we got home we were soaked head to toe. While all the Venetians were siting under the roofs and umbrellas here comes four American girls full sprint towards their hostel in the middle of a rainstorm, you don’t think we stuck out at all do you? Now when they say that Venice is hard to get around they are not kidding. You can’t use a map because there are no street signs and half of the alleys just randomly stop in the middle of nowhere. And if you ask for directions they just point and squiggle their hand, like you are supposed to know what they mean. By the end of our stay in Venice we found out instead of blocks it’s normally “go over four bridges then turn left”. It seemed to work by the end which was nice. 

Our first full day there we headed over to San Marc’s Square which is incredible. Venice is based on the water and all the housing numbers are numbered for the canal instead of the street. You see fisher boats, motorboats, gondolas, police boats all just roaming the canal waters because that is their main way of transportation, I did not see one car until we got off the island. We started out our Thursday with the stereotypical touristy gondola ride throughout Venice, our guide was awesome and probably loved the six of us since we were actually social instead of some lovey dovey couple just ignoring the driver. He told us there are over 420 bridges on the island of Venice. We saw Marco Polo’s house, yes MARCO— POLO, that guy. We toured the Basilica de San Marco right in the square and saw the Bridge of Sighs. After five days of Italian food you do get sick of it at some points, so we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe which was so delicious, I never thought I could love stereotypical American appetizers so much. The rest of the day was dedicated to simply getting lost and wandering which is what most people do in Venice for at least a little while. 

Our second day in Venice we decided to do some island hopping. This started at Murano, about a 30 minute water taxi ride. Their public transportation is all on the water, instead of the tube or taxis they are all on the water. Their bus system you just get on a boat and get off at your stop, pretty similar just on the water which is awesome! In Murano we wandered and saw some glass blowing, in the end we got to actually blow glass ourselves which was awesome! For them to keep the glass they have to slowly cool it down or else it will break so unfortunately we could not keep our masterpieces. There were so many little shops all selling glass merchandise from ornaments to bottle openers to chandeliers to vases, literally everything you can imagine. But we just happened to meet the nicest store owner to let us come to the factory and blow our own glass, which not many can say that they did. We then headed over to San Michele Cemetery, another island in the group of islands in that area. It was incredible to see all of the family burial sites there, although a little creepy.

Venice was completely intriguing. It is definitely taken over by tourists but their lifestyle is just completely different. Also the whole canal transportation system and how they drive those boats so fast without hitting anything is just incredible. After driving a boat for a few years, I can hardly dock the thing, no way could I drive it through a canal of gondolas and sharp corners. 

BARCELONA, ESPANA:

We arrived in Barcelona on Wednesday afternoon and checked into our hostel right in Plaza Real off Las Ramblas, pretty much the main center of town. We went very cheap in this hostel, only paid 25 euros total for three nights. Given we were in a 18 person room, definitely reminded me of army barracks, just a lot of bunk beds and lockers. We met up with a few our of friends from our program who happened to be their at the same time. Got to see the water at night and try out the Barcelona nightlife right away. We also had to try the sangria since we were in Spain, and I have to say it is amazing!

Our first tourist day was mainly just around our hostel because we were right in the middle of it all! Las Ramblas is a huge street with shops, restaurants, and goes from Placa Catalunya to the water. We walked up and down that a few times and saw all of the monuments. We pretty much followed our map and went to the big tourist places. It was not quite like Rome where there were huge moments that you had to see. One thing I do love about Spanish culture is those siestas. We got into their lifestyle and everyday took a few hours to nap in order to get on the Spain time schedule. Their time schedule is lunch around 230, dinner around 830, and don’t go to the club until around 2am or else you are way too early. Our sleep schedule was a little off by the end thats for sure. 

Friday we did some of the more major sites of Segrada Familia and Parc Guell. Segrada Familia is just absolutely massive. The line was way too long for us to wait and go inside which was very disappointing because I really wanted to but even just seeing the outside was breathtaking. Parc Guell was incredible as well, we walked all around it and got some amazing views of the city from the very top. The Cheetah Girls had their movie here, so we kept picturing ourselves as superstars. The Parc was incredible and huge, we saw so much of it but I am sure there was tons that we missed completely just because walking up that hill in flip flops was not ideal. 

Saturday we flew home on RyanAir just one more time. Then had to take the bus into town and then catch the tube back home finally. It was quite the commute thats for sure. Ryanair ended up not being as bad as I had expected. The horror stories that I heard scared me a bit. But I never had a problem getting my bag on even though it was way bigger than it should have been. One of my friends was only stopped once but somehow rearranged her stuff to get her bag to fit inside! Since you can only bring one bag on the plane (including a purse) and I swear my bag got heavier and bigger every time we flew, I learned just to hide your purse under your jacket and make it look like you only have one bag. Just working the system as usual. 

During the trip I was only mad about a few things::

1) You cannot drink tap water so you have to pay for bottled water, and if you know how much water I drink the amount I spent on water was not okay

2) They bring food out to you when it is ready, not all at the same time. So sometimes if people having pasta got their food first, the rest of us getting pizza might have to wait 20 mins for ours to be ready. You have to eat it when its hot so you have to eat while the others just sit there

3) McDonalds was not open 24 hours

4) I did not have room in my bag to go shopping

5) Drinks at clubs were 12 euros, thats about $16 for one drink

6) I could not wash my clothes, I am sure whoever I sat next to on the plane on Saturday just thought I smelt so bad

7) I want to go back NOW!

NOW ITS PICTURE TIME…. okay I can only upload so many on here so check the rest out on Facebook!!

View of Rome from the top of the Basilica:

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Our 18 person hostel room:

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View of Barcelona from the plane: Image

 

Glass blowing in Murano: Image

 

 

Gondola ride in Venice:

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Venice:

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Making my wish in the Trevi Fountain:Image

 

Outside the Colosseum:Image

 

Colosseum:

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The Vatican:
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Gelato:

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Procrastination 101

We leave tomorrow!!!!! Its 830 here and I have done absolutely nothing to prepare, haven’t packed yet! I did print out my ticket so that should count for something? Rome for three days, Venice for three days, and Barcelona for three days! Honestly, I am writing this blog post to procrastinate studying. Who puts a marketing test the day we leave for break, no possible way I will be able to focus at all tomorrow (nobody tell my prof that please :) ) But I cannot afford to bomb this test, I am here to study… right?

We went to Wicked on Tuesday night. It was absolutely amazing! I am definitely turning into a play kinda person, its weird! Despite it being almost three hours long the songs were incredible and the outfits were amazing, jaw dropping. This is my farewell if I do not survive this trip! I will report back in 10 days telling you all our adventure stories, four girls taking on Europe, what could happen? Actually… don’t answer that! We leave in T minus 22 hours on RyanAir, another scary part of the trip! Using cheaper gasoline to fly so that they can keep their prices low, but who can complain when you get a ticket for only $30 to another country.

 

Okay time to study, and pack, and shower, and eat dinner, and study some more! Ciao bellas. 

Londontown!

This week has flown by! Well actually considering we are well into October, these past weeks have flown by too. Wednesday we went to the Phantom of the Opera! It was incredible, I have never seen it before and I was amazed at how moving it was. I did not think musicals were my thing, but I was on the verge of tears throughout the whole thing. If only I could sing… 

Friday we did a tour on the London Eye! Almost all 50 of us went up in two pods and saw the best view of London. We lucked out that is was sunny because a few hours later we were caught in a downpour. We got some great pictures up there and saw everywhere that we had been exploring for the past few weeks. We then caught a boat ride to Greenwich, just about six miles from London. Of course it started raining during our trip. It was soooo windy too. This would have been an amazing trip but we could not enjoy it to its full potential because of the weather. We did get to see where some of Les Mis was filmed, right at the University there. We also saw a lot of the buildings at the Old Royal Naval College like the chapel and painted halls. They are still used today by students but they are a huge tourist attraction because of the historical significance. We went to the National Maritime Museum too right in Greenwich. We ended up on Observatory Hill to see the middle of the western and eastern hemispheres. We got to step with one foot in each crossing the Prime Meridian! Despite the rain and win it was still an amazing experience! 

We decided to stay in London this weekend because of midterms next week. Along with cojo and marketing exams we have an ethics paper due tomorrow. We have to study for all those, do some smaller assignments, and somehow find time to finish planning and packing for our midterm break! We leave Thursday for Rome, Venice, and Barcelona!!!! So excited for that, if anyone has any advice definitely let us know! Somehow I have a feeling I will be wearing 10 outfits on the plane because I have to fit 10 days of clothes into one small suitcase and I do not do well with packing.

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