S: Spring 2010
FC: London Centre
1: I feel like so much should be going through my mind right now, but I'm trying to stay calm and rest assured that everything will work out. I would have to say that my biggest fear would be getting lost. I'm also hoping to fit in and find a group to travel and site-see with. This semester will definitely be stretching for me, but I really am excited. 3 months are going to go by quicker than I expect, I just know it. :) I have chosen this Bible verse to remind me that I'm not doing this alone. No matter what happens, I'm so thankful to know that God is right beside me through it all. "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am Your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." ~Isaiah 41:10 | So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodbye... | Jan 11
2: After Aunt Sharon dropped me off at the airport the whole realization of me being completely on my own began to set in. I wouldn't say I was scared or nervous. I was just ready to begin. My checked bag weighed exactly 50 lbs! On the flight from Indy to Chicago I sat next to Molly (a grad student). This was her 2nd time going on the London program. We had a couple hours in the Chicago airport so we grabbed food and I got to talk to some of the people I love for the last time on my cell. The plane ride from Chicago to London was great! There was a TV in the back of each headrest. I watched a few movies and TV shows because I couldn't sleep. When We got to London we did a lot of standing and waiting. Finally we loaded the coach bus and took off for our flats. I'm living with 6 other girls in a 4 story flat. There is a triple and 2 doubles and a common room with a kitchen. The washer/dryer is in the kitchen. After unpacking we took a walk to Kilburn Park Station (our tube stop) and purchased our Oyster cards (300lbs/$600). Now I can ride in zones 1 & 2 for free. We met Lyndon Sly (our main teacher) at Westminster College and used the remainder of our free time to go to Boots and Tesco. | A New World | Jan 13
3: After being completely knackered from all the traveling it was nice to have 12 hours of sleep. The bed and pillows are basically the equivalent of rubbish, but I was too tired to care. Taking a shower is quite a funny experience. The hardest part is getting in. The side is rather tall so I have to straddle leap to get in. Another thing about the bathroom is the temperamental toilet. Today was rather grand. We had some more orientation with Lyndon. He is always so well dressed in his Prada and Dolce and Gabana. He asked us what a side-by-side at Steak & Shake was. In a British accent, it was really funny. Our homework was to find the answers to a list of questions from some locals so we headed down to the Old Bell Pub. We also went on a walking tour all around London. After the tour we hung out at Covent Garden. It is full of cute little shops, performance areas, and restaurants. We saw a guy riding a giant unicycle and juggling knives. We also stopped in a quaint little cupcake shop and I bought a delicious cookies & creme cupcake. | Jan 14
6: River Walk | Today we had to meet in the middle of Tower Bridge for our River Walk Tour with Lyndon. It was freezing! We learned so much about the English history (Kings, Queens, etc.) and he incorporated it into the buildings, bridges, and other aspects of London.It was very interesting seeing how everything connected. We also got to hear Big Ben chime at noon.
8: Windsor Castle & Hampton Court Palace | Jan 20
9: Scotland Jan 21-24
10: The trip to Scotland was rather...eventful. First off, Noelle attempted to get in the drivers side of the taxi. We all started yelling at her that she was getting in the wrong side. She walked around to the passenger side, climbed in and proceeded to pull herself over to the driver’s side by the steering wheel. We yelled, “Noelle, what are you doing?!” Finally it clicked that she was sitting in the drivers seat. We were cracking up and I’m sure the driver thought we were crazy. On the drive there we kept seeing signs for Heathrow airport, but we needed to get to Gatwick. After some worrying we made sure he was taking us to the right place. Time kept ticking by and we still weren’t there. On our tickets it says that we need to be at the gate by 2:45. **Panic Ensues** We pull into the airport at 2:38. Throwing the money at the driver, we dart out of the taxi. I start up the ramp with some of the girls and start to feel like I’m swimming up stream because we are running into masses of people coming down the ramp. Halfway up I look for the rest of the girls and see Molly above me gliding up on an escalator. My mouth drops open. At the top we run to catch up with them dodging in and out of people. We see them heading to the Easyjet check in. We all sigh with relief that we made it to the counter only to be spiked into another panic as we realize this is not where we need to be. WE NEED TO GO TO DEPARTURE!!! We did a complete U-turn back to where we had just come from. At this point I was starting to feel like I was in the movie Home Alone. We get to security and Molly’s monstrous backpack has to be completely searched. The security guard is going through it taking out everything (including her underwear). Both her and Madisen forgot that you can only take a small amount of liquid so their things were thrown away. Molly is still being searched (the guard tells her she is never going to make it) and at this point we are cutting it really close. She looks up at Madisen and me and says, “Go without me. I don’t want you guys to miss it on account of me. Just go. I don’t know if I’m going to make it.” Madisen and I look at her and then at each other and turn and run trying to find our gate. We must have looked like frightened animals as we did a 360 turn and see the sign for gate 4. We take off running—plowing over people. We keep running. It took forever to get to gate 4. Finally we get there and a lady tells us to calm down because they are just now starting to board. We see Kristen, Noelle, and Kim standing in the waiting area and give them high fives. Staring through the glass, we pray that Molly makes it. (Imagine this in slow motion.) All of a sudden we see her run up and she tries to pull on the handles to the first door and it won’t open. She smacks her hands on the glass and screams NOOO!!!! (Seriously. This was movie worthy.) We all point to the opening in the glass 10 feet to her left. She drags herself into the room and we all celebrate with an embrace. The people in the room thought we were insane. End epic airport sequence. The flight started off ok, but the landing was really rough. We kept dropping and rising and I started to get nervous. It was all ok though. We made it safely. Lyndon had given us his daughter’s number who lives in Glasgow so we could possibly meet up with her. We were nervous that this was an inconvenience for her, but by the end of the night we knew that she had had a great time with us. We met her at the Kelvin Bridge and she took us to dinner (with her boyfriend and roommate) at this really neat restaurant called The Loft which once was an old cinema. In the bathroom they had a hair straighter that you could pay money to use. After the girls had many drinks we went said goodbye and went to our hostel. It looked relatively cleanother than the nasty bathroom. The shower had brown stuff smeared all in it and there was a sign that said, “Do not use this shower. No, seriously, don’t even try.” The next morning we got up and went to a little pastry shop next to the hostel where Kristen had the best donut ever and we got to meet Bobbie with the purple hair. We then got to the bus station and took it to Edinburgh. This city was gorgeous! There is a castle that’s set up high and is very visible throughout most of the city. I loved all the buildings and cobblestone streets. Most of the history here was extremely dark and depressing, but it was fascinating to learn about. We checked into our hostel where the Scottish woman was rather pissy with us. We were lucky to always have the hostel rooms to ourselves. After grabbing a bite we went on a tour down in the vaults where we were told about witches, ghosts, poltergeists, and other paranormal activity that is said to inhabit the area. Apparently Edinburgh is the most haunted city in Scotland. The tour was supposed to be scary, but I just thought it was funny. The other girls were legitimately freaked out though. I got a good laugh just watching them and hearing them scream. We shopped around for a while along the Royal Mile and went in the Tartan Textile Mill where they make scarves, blankets, kilts, etc. I wanted to buy a scarf, but I knew I wouldn’t wear it because the wool would make my neck itch. The only thing I bought in Scotland for myself was a magnet. After dinner and failing at trying to get our waiter to give us the ”crummies” of the delicious looking chocolate cake, we went on a after dark above ground tour. I had thought this one would be scary too, but it was rather stupid. I did learn some more information about the city and its history, but part of it was our guide’s helper running around trying to scare us. Noelle got to be the witch put on trial and Molly got herself a dead “boyfriend.” Then we went to a little shop called Chocolate Soup and I had a few bites of the leftover brownie. Then we walked around for a long time trying to find a little convenience store so the girls could find some more alcohol. In Scotland they don’t have taxi’s that hold 7 people even though they would have enough room if they let you use the front seat. The next day we went on a three-hour long walking tour in the rain. Our travels back to London were a little rocky as well. Let's just say we almost lost a member of our group. After this epic travel experience I finally made it back to the flat and had never been happier to be in London. It’s weird, but this feels a lot homier now that I’ve been to another country to visit. Suddenly my bed isn’t so bad after all and the janky bathroom door (while still annoying) at least leads to a semi clean bathroom.
12: Paris | Jan 28-31
13: Chunnel Louvre Eiffel Tower Arch de Triumph Avenue des Champs-Élysées Catacombs Notre Dame Musée d'Orsay Paris Opera House
14: We get off the chunnel and everything is in French. Yikes! Thankfully both Molly and Madison had taken French so they could translate a lot of the words and speak for us. On the platform there were many couples kissing and embracing. Yep, this is the city of love. It’s also the city that smells like urine and the zoo. Yuck! We find our way through the metro and streets to our hotel. It was nice to be in a hotel room instead of a hostel. We then went to find dinner at a little bar/café thing a couple blocks away. Again the menu is all in French! I had remembered Aunt Sharon telling me about a ham and cheese sandwich that is very good. Scanning the menu I come across Croque Monsieur. I knew that was what I wanted. It was DELICIOUS! The two French women waiting on us were very kind and were trying so hard to provide excellent service and help us decide what to order. So far the people here are polite and helpful. For dessert Madison and I split Crepes Chocolate. Again delicious! The next day we went to the Eiffel Tower first. Some of us decided to go to the Louvre next. I went off to explore by myself for 3 1/2 hours. It was gigantic! The Louvre is full of so many extravagant artifacts. It can be pretty overwhelming. When it was time to meet back up I was exhausted...but little did I know that we would be doing a lot more walking. Once outside we could see the Eiffel Tower all lit up and sparkling in the distance. We walked along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Arch de Triumph and then on to the Eiffel Tower which we went up in. The Paris cityscape was stunning and put an end to any grumpiness we were feeling. The next day we went to the Catacombs (another favorite part of the trip), the Nortre Dame, and the Musée d'Orsay. There are over 6 million people buried under the city. I secretly touched one of the skulls. It was very creepy, but sooo cool! The Notre Dame was full of tourists, but beautiful. I liked the Musée d'Orsay better than the Louvre. It is inside an old train station and we got to see a lot of Monet's work. | Merci Beaucoup
15: Put the kettle on Warm the pot One scoop of tea for each person & one for the pot Let it sit Can put milk in first or second Run tea through sifter Add sugar, lemon, etc. | A Proper Cuppa Tea: | Feb 8
16: Warwick Castle Stratford Upon Avon Dungeness & Rye
17: Feb 12
19: Spring Break: Madrid Segovia St. Albans Grantham London | On Thursday after class I headed to Paddington station and took the Heathrow Express out to meet my mom at the Novotel Hotel. It was so great to see her come running down the hall to greet me! The next day we caught our flight to Madrid. After dinner we walked through the Plaza and found San Gines Chocolateria. I don't think I'll be able to eat churros without feeling sick to my stomach. The next day we went to meet Sam, Megan, and Teddi in Segovia. The drive there was absolutely gorgeous because you have to pass through the snow covered mountains. It was nice having our own personal tour guides. They showed us Alcazar, the aqueducts, and the cathedral. We spent a lot of time just eating and talking. We also played cards, went for sangria at Oso Blanco, and walked the streets of Segovia. Once we got back to Madrid we went to the Palace, Retiro Park, and to a Monet Exhibit. Mom and I both agreed that the best part of Madrid was the little restaurant with delicious chocolate croissants. Back in the UK, we took a train to St. Albans. The highlight of this part of the trip was discovering Cafe Rouge. We ended up eating there 3 times in 1 day. We also went to the market, cathedral, and park. The next morning we headed to Harlaxton where mom studied abroad 31 years ago. I loved the school and the peacefulness. We had fun exploring the different rooms and mom told me all about it. I enjoyed my time in London with my mom the best! It was nice being able to take her around to places I knew like Portobello Rd, Nottinghill, Harrods, and Oxford Street. We even got to go to a Sound of Music sing-a-long and to see the musical Sister Act. We absolutely loved it and I ended up going to see it 2 more times. I even got to talk to Sheila Hancock and Katie Rowley Jones! | February 18-28
20: Manchester & Liverpool | March 1 & 2
21: It amazes me how different, and yet, similar we all are. There are people from all over the world here speaking so many languages. Posh women in fur coats, dishy men wearing cashmere scarves, old men, little girls, babies, moms, dads, wives, husbands, boyfriends, new friends, old friends, women walking arm in arm, couples holding hands, kissing each other on both cheeks. I love all the life and culture here in London. I don't want to ever forget this feeling.
22: Oxford Blenheim Palace Canterbury
24: She loves you | Yeah Yeah Yeah
25: Bath Stonehenge Greenwich March 17 & 24
26: The theater was definitely one of my favorite parts of London. I saw so many wonderful productions. It was like a little taste of heaven! I can't wait to go back!
28: Things I’ll miss about London: 1. Theater 2. Ben’s cookies 3. Double decker buses 4. Tube 5. Countryside 6. Historical sites 7. Accents 8. Phrases and pronunciations 9. Free museums 10. Fruit in the corner 11. Cadbury 12. HP sauce 13. Pubs 14. Jacket potatoes 15. Chips with everything 16. 14G 17. Parks 18. Squirrels in Hyde Park 19. Looking right before crossing the street 20. Oyster card 21. Zebra crossings 22. British humor/sarcasm 23. Camden Market, Portobello Road/Notting Hill 24. Café Rouge 25. Oxford & Regent Street 26. Primark & New Look 27. Teashop near Covent Garden 28. Pounds as currency 29. British TV shows and commercials 30. Balls of steal, Come Dine With Me 31. Friends is on 24/7 almost 32. The Rain 33. The Hustle & Bustle 34. The culture and diversity 35. Courtyard 36. Keys 37. Lyndon, Lucie, & Rob 38. Coach rides 39. Field trips 40. Lack of actual schoolwork 41. Being sort of on my own...FREEDOM!
29: It's so surreal to be here. I cannot believe that just a couple days ago I was living in London. I just spent 3 months of my life in a foreign country. I stepped out of my comfort zone and learned more in those 3 months than I have for most of my life. This journey taught me a lot about myself and about the woman I'm supposed to be. I reached a point where I didn't want to leave. This foreign land became my temporary home and I hope that one day I'll be able to make it more than that. | April 9 2010