Category Archives: England
Posted in England |
This week has been a bit less exciting, but still wonderful. At the beginning of last week I spent some time in Central exploring Buckingham Palace and the stuff nearby and then met up with a friend for dinner. (Note: the guards/police here look really scary but are actually incredibly friendly and are always happy to take a selfie with you.) Most of the rest of the week was spent with school and partying. We had an international students dinner Friday and then went to a bar afterward. Saturday was social programme. Sunday was spent with one of my flat mates exploring Hyde Park and then grabbing some dinner in Central.
As I said, Saturday I had social programme and this week we went to Cambridge! It was stunning. In England each individual university is made up of some number of colleges. The one I am studying at has four, while Cambridge has 31! Most of the colleges were closed but we were able to tour one. I felt like I was in Harry Potter. All the walks were cobblestone, the buildings were all brick, and there was an adorable canal running right through the middle. Many of the students at the uni spend the weekend punting to make extra money. This is a way of pushing a boat in which you dig a large pole/stick into the ground over and over again to make your way along the canal. Tourists pay to be pushed around in these little boats and that’s how they make their money. Although I did not ride in one of the boats, I did spend quite some time watching.
My sleep schedule is a complete mess. I usually go to bed around 2-3am and then don’t wake up until mid afternoon. I keep telling myself that I need to get this under control but it is so hard. Everyone here stays up late and a lot goes on at night. I think it is part of the culture as no matter where you go, public transportation is always busy late at night no matter the day of the week. A friend and I were joking that we will be on fairly normal sleep schedules when we return home, except me a day behind and him a day ahead (he is from Australia).
This upcoming weekend is my first trip out of the UK and I am SO nervous as I will be spending half of the trip traveling solo. Next week is reading week which means we do not have any classes, so I figured it was the perfect time to do my first trip. I am going to Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam and Berlin. I will be gone for six nights. I am really looking forward to seeing more of Europe and experiencing life outside of London. I hope that everything goes smoothly and that traveling alone ends up being not as scary as I am imagining. Wish me luck!
China Town- where we had our international students dinner
Cambridge. The people standing on the back of the boat are doing the punting.
Posted in England, Uncategorized |
I hope you are all having a wonderful time in your respective countries. This week has been tough for me. Things have calmed down and the homesickness has hit. It is not so much that I miss Monmouth itself, but I really miss the people. I have made friends here, but it is just so different because they know you are leaving. Another thing that makes it difficult is that everyone’s schedules are radically different. I only have class twice a week which means I have quite a bit of free time on my hands. I am a total extrovert who loves to have people around me so it is hard for me to sit in my room alone most days. My flat-mates are not very interested in hanging out with me.
I finally stepped out of my comfort zone this week and went to explore the city by myself. It was surprisingly nice, despite being alone. I went to Tate Modern and Tate Britain which are two (FREE) museums here in London. They were absolutely stunning. The only time I really wished I had another human to interact with was on the walk between the two museums. When I was looking at the artwork though I was totally immersed in my own world and did not need someone there. I plan to do this more often, rather than staying in my room, as I think it was actually quite good for me to be alone and be ok with it.
The classes here are really different from at home. You only have lecture once a week per class and it usually lasts about two hours. One of my modules (classes) has one lecturer for the first have and then another for the second. Neither of which are actually the person who runs the class. I still haven’t figured out why this is so I will come back to it when I have an answer. So then on top of lecture you have these things called tutorials which honestly I do not understand one bit. During the one I went to this week the man spent the entire hour talking at us about plagiarism. As a third year college student, it was quite hard to sit through. Overall, the classes are MUCH more independent than at home.
As I already said, you only get one two-hour lecture once a week. The rest of the week you are expected to complete readings and sort of “teach” yourself. The entire grade for the course is based on two essays and a final exam (different for me because I am only here for a term). I don’t know about you, but that would seriously stress me out. Especially since on the second day here they tell you that a 70% is probably the best mark you will ever receive. Obviously the students from here are used to the way it works and do not know any different, but it is definitely hard to go from one uni to a completely different one. Oh and did I mention my classes have 300+ students in them. If you already didn’t believe me when I said it was much different from WOU.
Another interesting thing about being a study abroad student- everyone here considers you a first year regardless of what you are back home. Sometimes it can be useful because people are much more understanding when you have silly questions. Other times though it can be frustrating because no one believes that you know what you are doing even though you have been at university for 1-3 years already. It feels like you have to start all over and completely reestablish yourself.
I apologize for my post being so much about academics, but it has been really difficult for me to adjust. I love school at home, but I am not so sure if I like it here yet. I guess we will have to see. I have only had each of my classes twice, so there is time for improvement. I promise to write a more exciting post next time!
Until then, cheers.
Posted in England |
I’ve only been here two weeks now but it feels like I’ve been here forever. I’ve made so many friends from all around the world and have been having so much fun getting to know them. I don’t even know where to begin when describing the differences between England and America. I think the first major dose of culture shock I experienced was walking into the local grocery store on the first day. I was expecting to see similar brands and ways of storing food but everything is SO different here. It takes me forever to pick out a few groceries because I have to read every little description. They don’t have Alfredo sauce here and they don’t refrigerate their eggs in the store. Their sweets selection is HUGE and I have found that I have an indescribable love for gummy candy (which I know is bad for me but they taste so good here!) Cost has been a big shocker as well. Everything is very expensive compared to back home but I am learning to live on pasta and sharing meals with other people.
A huge difference between the city of London and the town of Monmouth is not only the size but that there is literally always something to do here. There is so much to see that I know I won’t even get to experience a slice of it by the time I leave in December, which I’m not sure I even want to do (leave, I mean.) I really love it here.
I haven’t done much “touristy” things yet aside from the photo scavenger hunt during our orientation week. I’ve been so busy getting to know people and getting absorbed in the London culture that seeing all the touristy sights as rarely crossed my mind. I don’t have classes Tuesdays-Thursdays which is the exact opposite of most of the friends I’ve made here so maybe I can start to explore the town on my free days. I haven’t went into Central London since the photo scavenger hunt during week one but I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know the area around Roehampton and visiting some of the more local spots.
London is so huge but there are always friendly people you can stop and ask for directions from. I haven’t gotten used to the backwards roads and I doubt I ever will. Traffic here is disgusting and I am still learning to allow enough time to get to my destination. Taking a four mile bus ride takes around a half hour at the least. Everyone drives so close to the car in front of them that riding the bus gives me such anxiety wondering if the driver is going to stop in time. Honking always makes me jump but people honk at everyone here. There are a lot more motorcycles here than back home and many of the riders seem to make up their own laws on the road. People run red-lights like no big deal and J-walking is completely legal. Texting and calling while driving is illegal here but just like home I always see drivers on their phones. I usually walk to the crosswalk just to be sure I’m not going to get hit by a bus. There is painted words on the ground by each main crosswalk that tell you which way to look down the road which is super helpful. Buses are everywhere you look but around campus double-decker buses are more rare. I was so excited the first time I rode on a double-decker but the excitement soon faded–they really aren’t as cool as they look on TV and in One Direction music videos. It is hard to get up and down the stairs while the bus is moving so I usually opt for a seat downstairs if I can find one.
I feel like I fit in so much better here than at home and even when walking alone at night (my accommodation building is a good 20+ minute walk from main campus which is annoying but my en-suite room is way nicer than some of the rooms on main campus) I feel safe. I know London has crime just like any other place in the world but I haven’t felt like my safety was threatened one time since I got here. A group of English students (a lot of the English people I have met have told me they like to be called “English” rather than “British” because “British” is all of the UK, not just England,) basically adopted me into their group as the “favorite American” right when they arrived on campus. I spend a lot of time with them and they never cease to put a smile on my face and make me feel at-home. A lot of the English people question me about the use of guns in America and I have to assure them that not everyone owns a gun back home and it is rare that someone carries a gun with them out in the open.
I’ve found that having to describe Oregon as “the state right above California” has quickly gotten old. And telling people that my home town of Salem, Oregon, isn’t where the witch trails were held has also been kind of annoying. When introducing myself here I always have to repeat my name multiple times but that is just like how it is at home so I am used to it. It amazes me how the English people I have met here don’t really know anything about the Hawaiian islands when the Hawaiian’s have such a strong history with England. The last Hawaiian princess was sent to school here in England near the end of the 1800’s and the Hawaiian state flag is the only US flag to have another countries flag inside it (the English flag, the Union Jack.) I feel so inspired that I can sort of follow in the footsteps of Princess Kaiulani and study abroad in England. We actually passed a restaurant while on the bus last week called “Leilani’s Restaurant.” My friend noticed it before I did and right away we decided we have to stop there for dinner some time soon. Seeing my name like that was such a shock to me I can’t even explain it.
Here are some things I have learned since I arrived here:
- “kip” is another word for nap
- English people do drink tea, that is a true stereotype
- alcohol is a huge part of the English culture but they drink it socially more than anything
- a “hoover” is a vacuum
- English people greet one another by asking, “are you alright” instead of “how are you.” (The first time I was asked this was on my first day here when I was walking into a restaurant. I was so confused by the waiters question that I think I responded rudely by saying, “yeah?” in response…)
- I haven’t met one English student who said they didn’t like America, they all want to visit America and a lot of them have already been to New York and are shocked that I haven’t traveled there myself (then I have to remind them how humongous America is compared to England and that New York is on the complete other side of the country from Oregon.)
- McDonald’s are so rare here and tastes a lot different than back home but have queues all the way out the door (no one says the word “line” here, it’s always “queue.) Most McDonald’s are two stories and are way nicer inside than the McDonald’s at home.
I was worried that I would struggle with homesickness being away from my parents for the first time in my life but I think I am doing well. Sometimes the evenings are difficult when I’m alone but I know that my new friends here are only a Whatsapp message away. (Whatsapp is a free texting app you can use when you have access to wifi.) I greatly appreciate the skills my mom has showed me when it comes to making friends with strangers. If I was an introvert like I was when I was younger, I can honestly say my time here would have sucked.
PS– Nana, I cannot thank you enough for the selfie stick you gave me for my birthday. I used to think they were silly but after using one they are actually pretty awesome. It has really come in handy here.
Posted in England |
I am already a terrible blogger because I have been in England for almost three months and am writing my first post.
Classes at the University of Roehampton started this week and I am feeling pretty rough with Freshers Flu from last week which was Freshers Week. It was so much fun though, partying, making new friends and getting close with my flat mates, I am having a lot of difficulty sorting out my modules, whoever does that is doing a poor job of making sure everything works.
When it comes to living in London, it is amazing. Being English and having been here so many times, I did not experience any culture shock and I love having half my family so close. London is my favourite city in the world and so far I am absolutely loving living here.
More to come!
Posted in England | Tagged London Summer 2015, week 6 |
This final post in regards to my London Summer Study Abroad trip will be a two-fer. The first half will be how I feel upon returning home and what I have noticed culturally that sticks out. The remaining half will be a tipsheet or guide of sorts for those interested in traveling to London in the future.
One thing that I greatly miss about the UK would be the lack of cell phones. Sure, you see them in the bustling streets as people chat on them on their way to work, etc., but they are not everywhere. People aren’t zombified and peering down into the screen as they wander about. One of the biggest differences I noticed while across the pond was that people were more invested in spending quality time together. At the pubs, men and women gathered around with their drinks and chatted and laughed – not a single phone visible. This could be recounted in cafes, university, and so forth.
I was more than happy to put my phone down and actually interact with my friends while I was over there – something I attempted to do upon being invited out to dinner by two of my friends so we could all catch up. But what happened actually aggravated me quite a bit. The two of them sat across from me. . .and instantly were on their phones. One of them would surface, ask me a question, then as soon as I spoke, go back to his phone while I talked, getting the occasional nod from either of them. Or sometimes no response at all. Are you kidding me?? Already I miss being able to just settle down for time with people and have their actual attention and interest.
There was another thing that I actually appreciated quite a bit about the UK – people do not pester you or hover around you while you are eating or shopping. While in the UK, you order your food at the bar, they bring you your food, and unless you call them over, you are left to enjoy your meal and company. Simple as that. The same goes for shopping. You are not asked if you are finding things alright, or if you are looking for anything in particular, or heckled about current sales. . .instead, they just let you shop, and there are plenty of assistants around if you need one. A beautiful concept, in my personal opinion.
Other than that, I have not noticed anything that bothers me too much. Instead, I just miss certain things – how easy traveling about was, the vast cultural and linguistic variety of people, and so forth.
Now comes to quick guide to surviving London for those interested in the future:
Always, always, always ask for tap water. Otherwise you get sparkling or bottled or magical water drawn from a unicorn horn – and none of those come cheap.
Order at the bar! If you sit down first, you will be sitting forever. Go to the bar to order your food, and they will bring the food to you once it’s ready.
Leave your table dirty & tipless. Of course I do not mean dirty, dirty – but leave all of your dishes and trays there. My friends and I would bring our coffee mugs back up once we were done at a cafe, and often times get very odd looks. Leave your dishes and such on the table to be cleaned up. Also, most places include tips in the cost of their food, so unless otherwise stated, don’t bother leaving a tip either.
Don’t be that person on the Tube. No seriously. Don’t. Everyone on the tube is generally quiet and just trying to get to work. They are reading the paper, staring at your shoes for the millionth time, or doing anything other than generating noise. Try and do the same.
Driving on the left equals everything else on the left. If you are on the sidewalk or going up or down stairs, or any other area where it may require two lanes of ‘traffic’ – mimic the laws of the road as we do in the US, but this time steer to the left.
Don’t be a lemming. As pedestrians do not typically have the right of way at crossings, wait for the light to signal that you can go. Sure, it may be tempting to do the race across the road with other Londoners, but don’t do it just because everyone else is. Better safe than sorry – there were several times I saw even natives nearly get smeared by a large automobile or sneaky motorcycle.
Posted in England | Tagged London Summer 2015, Week Five |
As my journey to Great Britain comes to a close, there are some things that I hope will stay with me, and other things that I miss about home. This trip has been a great way to not only form some wonderful relationships with other people, but to also understand myself in a deeper, more meaningful way. I am definitely someone who needs to be taken out of their habitat once in a while and given a break, because it is far too easy for me to get too bound up in work and school to really live my life.
One aspect that I had lost was the sense of enjoying my time. Back home everything is always as efficient as possible. Breakfast is boring and bland because it is something I do not put thought into – I merely make some oatmeal or grab some fruit and coffee before rushing to class or the office. There, I sit for hours at a time and work hard, only to get home and be too tired to put effort into a meal or do things that I enjoy. Being here, I have been able to wake up early and plan out a real breakfast, or go out to eat a real breakfast, and actually start the day off right. I find myself enjoying mealtimes more often, and actually wanting to put that effort into not only preparing my food, but sitting down and just focusing on eating it, rather than cramming more school or work in at the same time.
Another thing I need to take time for is myself. Easier said than done, as I am the person who sees free time as time I could be using to take care of things or give up to other people. Here, I was allowed to have a day to myself. To simply sit around the flat reading, cup of coffee in my hand, bundled in a blanket. Even though I was reading for class, I was allowed the time to read it at a pace I found comfortable, and to enjoy the process. I honestly miss reading above all else in my life. Being an English major, reading becomes a chore very quickly. Masses of essays, novels, poems, excerpts, and so forth, are shoved into a few weeks, deeply analyzed, and then the process is repeated over again in Sisyphean style. It has been ages since I simply picked up a book that I wanted to read for pleasure and actually finished it. This is something that I know I can make more time for, even if it takes a bit of rearranging of my schedule.
London has taught me so many things in a nonchalant, underlying way. Lacking an international phone plan, I barely touched the thing. It stayed mainly in my pocket or backpack, and was only used as a camera during excursions. It was refreshing to go out to eat and see no one on their phones – everyone actively engaged in conversations with one another. I did not have to evade people with their noses pressed to the screens on the sidewalk, too busy to pay attention to their surroundings.
I also feel that once I return home, I am going to walk anywhere and everywhere, no matter how far. What’s a car again? Now I have grown accustomed to using the public transportation when necessary, but for the most part walking to anything I need. And while Monmouth may not be the best area to play out this plan due to the lack of public transportation or anything within reasonable difference, I still feel that this can be employed on a much smaller scale in the fact that I do not have to drive to everything all the time.
These are merely a few things that I have noticed in the last week of staying here – small changes that have occurred in my daily life and my mindset towards the world around me. I can only hope that more travels await me in my future, as this would be a wonderful thing to experience every so often to ‘reset’ the old batteries.
Until next time, London.
Posted in England |
From Left to Right and Top to Bottom: (1) The Docks at Gloucester (2) The London Eye at Night (3) The Coast at Brighton (4) The Thames at Night (5) The Docks at Gloucester, Without my Face (6) The Crypt at Gloucester Cathedral (7) Afternoon Tea at the Cambridge Pub
My last week in London was interesting, to say the least. I felt like I did more in London this week than I had done the entire time, though in reality I did less. I went to Gloucester, went on a Jack the Ripper tour, went on a small pub crawl, completed finals, wandered the city at night, and had afternoon tea. But through all of this, I was fighting mixed emotions. I felt extremely homesick, but I also felt sad that I was leaving; I wanted to experience even more than I already had. These mixed feelings were pretty exhausting. As I was having fun on my new adventures, I could not help but to count down the days until I would return home. However, although this was exhausting, it was good for me to experience. I have never really felt like this before; it was a new adventure.
I believe that the reason that I felt like I did so much more in the last week, even though I probably did less in reality, is because I got to experience some of the cultural activities. I finally went to afternoon tea! I also wandered the city at night, rather than just walking through town to get home. And I rode on one of the famous public bikes.
Afternoon Tea was one of my favorite experiences in London. I went to the Cambridge Pub with Jenna, and we were served two little teapots (which contained three teacups of tea, each). We were also served a bowl of sugar cubes, both brown and white (how much more fun that loose sugar!). Then we were given a three-tiered food platter. The general rule is that you eat from the top down, so you eat the sweet scones, with clotted cream and jam, and then the savory finger sandwiches, and finally, the sweet desserts. All of the food was delicious, and the tea was some of the best I have ever had. During this little adventure, we also learned that Afternoon Tea was started by one of the Queens, who felt like there was too much time between lunch and dinner, and wanted something to snack on.
Taking a little stroll at night was so much fun. Jenna, Jenny and I walked down and back up the other. We saw so much on this little trip; it was unbelievable. All of the city lights were gorgeous, and there were buskers, (people playing the guitar, the oboe, the bass and the violin), filling the night air with beautiful music. We also saw many, different-themed party boats. There was an Indian wedding, a dance boat, and even a fetish boat (we don’t know what was going on there, but there were lots of people in leather costumes walking to it). As we were walking down the Thames, looking at all of the boats, we decided that we would finally ride the famous Santander bikes. These are bikes that are stationed all around the city. You take a bike, use it, and return it at any station. The first 30 minutes is free, and after that it is just two pounds for 24 hours. As fun as the bikes were, my favorite part of this whole night was standing on the bridge, looking out and London, and listening to beautiful guitar music. It made for the perfect last night and London.
I will definitely be traveling out of the country in the future, hopefully at least once every other year. And so I leave this post with a quote by Jack Kerouac:
“There was nowhere to go but everywhere, so just keep on rolling under the stars.” -Jack Kerouac
Posted in England |
I’m getting ready for Study Abroad Round II in London, UK. After a fun-filled week at my sister’s home in NYC, I am getting ready for another round of goodbyes as I embark on the second leg of a year-long journey.
Although for weeks I’ve joyfully anticipated this trip, now, right before leaving, I’m beginning to feel nervous: what if I get lost? what if I don’t get along in my homestay? what if arrangements with my daughter fall through? The list of worries and uncertainties are never-ending. However, if I learned anything in México, it’s that it’s okay to not know everything and fall on your face a little. It really isn’t the worst thing in the world to fumble around, even when other people can see you! I know that no matter what this trip throws at me, I am up for the challenge (no matter how clumsily I do it).
I don’t know what to expect upon my arrival in England. I suppose I am a little nervous of being judged because I am an American and I’ve heard that many people in Europe judge us and feel superior to us. I’ve also heard terrible rumors about the food, which is a shame because I love me some yummies! Thankfully, I’ve also heard that the people of London are wonderful conversationalists and that many of them are very well-informed. I’m looking forward to wonderful conversations!
Posted in England | Tagged court's misadventures in london |
Since it has almost been a week and a half since my last post I figure you lovely readers deserve another one. Tuesday I went with some friends to Cardiff, it was so pretty. We took this 50 mph boat ride around the bay, which was a blast. I also might have bought a gorgeous new dress but that’s not quite as important as the fact that I’ve now been to all of the British isles. Thursday was a field trip day and it was a long one. We started with a trip to the city of London police department to see their museum. It was alright, but they had a copy of jack the ripper’s from hell letter which made everything better. Then we went to old Bailey (my not so inner Sweeney Todd fan kept looking for judge Turpin) and saw part of a case. Lastly, we went on a Jack the Ripper tour which was so cool. Friday was a day off, I ended up at the British museum which was absolutely gorgeous, so many awesome old things. That night I went to see American idiot, not gonna lie it took a lot of self control to not jump up and down on my bed screaming green day songs after I got back. Saturday I took a lazy day, but went to see phantom of the opera. Seeing that chandelier rise while the theme played was awe inspiring. Sunday I went out to Oxford, they had a history of science museum, I thought I was in heaven. Tuesday marked our last field trip of the class. We went to the inns of court, the royal courts of justice, the Supreme Court, and parliament. It probably would have been more enjoyable if my allergies weren’t trying to assassinate me, but not much we can do about that. Tomorrow is finals, but I’m not going home because my family gets here on Saturday for another week and a half of European adventure. Until next time wou blog, enjoy some photos.
I thank the gods of rock and roll and musical theatre that allowed this to be a thing
Sunset on the thames
My view from the balcony seat at phantom
The royal courts of jusrice
No idea what this statue was outside the courts, but nothing you can say will convince me roar Ira not actually a punk rock dragon with a skateboard
Sweeney Todd fan girl = content
The from hell letter
Pretty sure this is the greatest museum ever
Posted in England, Uncategorized |
I apologize for the sideways images; I could not get them to rotate this time around. From top to bottom: (1) Standing next to the entrance to Dumbledore’s Office! (2) Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes (3) A Police Horse: Hampstead (4) George Eliot’s Tombstone: Highgate Cemetery (5) Most of the Myth, Legend and Horror Class in the Eagle and Child Pub (where the Oxford Inklings would gather!)
As my adventure in London continues, I grow more thankful for this opportunity every day. This week has especially catered to my literature side, and my nerdy side! I have been to Coleridge’s home, the Keats House, Highgate Cemetery (resting place of such big names as George Eliot and Karl Marx), back to Oxford (and still have not seen all that it has to offer!), the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and the Sherlock Holmes Museum.
I could spend all day talking about the Harry Potter Studio Tour, so let me just say that it was better than I ever could have hoped for. I learned so much about the filming process; it really changed my perspective on the adaptation of books to film. It takes a lot more work than we think. For example, the Inferi, who only appear in the background of the films, took almost one year to create and use! On the other hand, I had an underwhelming experience at the Sherlock Holmes museum. For what there was to offer, the 15 pound price was quite high.
Although I had a ton of fun nerding out this week, the visit that really hit me was Highgate cemetery. Most of the gravestones are quite large, and the whole area is surrounded by trees and ivy, and small gravel paths break off of the large main path for access to the many graves. To be quite honest, as weird as it may seem, it was quite beautiful. Families really took the time to immortalize their loved ones with the elaborate gravestones, and this made the area seem to be more of a celebration of life than a dreary graveyard. I am not used to such grandeur in a cemetery. In my family’s resting place, back in Oregon, there are no large protruding gravestones; they are all flat tombstones at the heads of the graves, and it is just a grass field with a few trees. As the plots in this cemetery are all taken, I think I’ll look for a more wild final resting place for myself (in the very distant future). It is so strange that traveling to the UK has given me a whole different perspective on death! Who would have thought?
Although I am having a fantastic experience, I am also growing a little more homesick every day. This did not hit me until this weekend, but it is really taking hold (probably because I am exhausted!) There is something about the little things that make me miss my life in Oregon. One such little thing is the friendliness that is so prevalent in our small university town. I have found myself to be a little less caring about smiling at everyone that I see, and saying excuse me for the hundredth time; this makes me kind of sad, as I pride myself on being friendly to others. I am also pining for fresh air, my own bed, and I am missing my roommate (sorry if I am embarrassing you Shannon ;).
But I only have one week left over here in the UK, so I am going to make the most of it! See you soon Oregon!