Monday, January 24, 2011


Just returned from a lovely weekend trip in Dublin. It was a little weird at first, since the hostel and area we stayed in (City Centre) were very was almost like still being in London, or in New York City, for that matter. But the five of us arrived, wandered around a bit, napped, then went out for a little nightlife. First thing's first...nightlife, in terms of dinner, is awfully hard to come by in the UK. Lots of places stop serving around 7 or 8. That's complex for college students from the US. Anywho, the first day was very chill, since we were all so exhausted from our wakeup time at 2AM Friday morning.
Friday, we looked around a few shops, took lots of lovely pictures of cathedrals and nice buildings, and went to this cool museum called Dublinia. It's a great place that goes through Dublin's history of the Vikings, Medieval times, and the Archaeology behind the discoveries. I learned quite a lot, actually, which was refreshing, considering my general dislike for history classes. Christ Church Cathedral was right outside the door, so we took pictures of it as well--you had to pay to go inside, though, which deterred us.
Saturday, we discovered that the hostel breakfast didn't quite work the way we had anticipated, so we went out for a cheap bite to eat (namely Subway--American food companies are incredibly popular in the UK...I don't think I've seen as many McDonald's, Burger King, or KFC restaurants in my life), and then began our day. We started by checking out the Guinness Factory, because I mean, come on, we're in Ireland. It was actually really incredible to learn the process of beer-making and how they did it. I gained a much greater appreciation for tasting it, and with their "guidance", you could pick out individual flavors and notes. Very cool. Then, while the girls went shopping and to St. Patrick's Cathedral, the boys and I continued our journey to the Jameson Whiskey Factory. Again, I learned so much more than I ever thought I would care to know about how they make whiskey, and we even got to do a taste-comparison at the end. Fancy. After that, we all met up again and decided to try a Musical Pub Crawl. We went to two different pubs as part of a paying group, and two men played and discussed traditional Irish music with us. Ah, there it was. A real taste of what I had been looking for! And it was just brilliant. Absolutely so much fun.
Sunday, we traveled to this lovely peninsula town called Howth. Right on the water, lots of farmer's markets and small shops (Danny and I bought delicious pepper jelly but forgot we couldn't take it back to London at the size it was and got it taken away at the airport :( Alas), and mostly, it was phenomenally beautiful. THIS was the view of Ireland I wanted. Nothing seemed more breath-taking, or even calming, as this sight was. I loved every freezing-cold moment of it. When we returned, we shopped around a bit (and I got some nice gray boots, finally!), went out to The Boar's Head for a last hoorah, then hit another pub for some more Irish music. One man there even played a didgeridoo and did Tibetan throat singing (yeah, not Irish, but still incredible!)!
Bedtime, then up at 5AM to return today. And now I'm sitting in the London Center, still with no internet at the flat, and waiting for my first voice lesson. Can't wait to take a nap after Styles before seeing "Once Bitten" tonight.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Week One

Wow, it's so weird to think that week one is over. I've officially moved into the flat with four friends (Danny, Hannah, Denzel and Ariana), and we had our first flat-family photoshoot to christen the place. It feels so weird to live in this place, because it doesn't seem real. I feel like I shouldn't decorate or unpack because we're going to be moving and leaving shortly...which is completely untrue. But we finally have a place to call home, and I am so grateful. Now to get the internet set up, the stovetop fixed (doesn't work at all), and figure out some more necessities!
Yesterday was mostly focusing on grocery and household item shopping, but I'm going to hopefully finish that up this afternoon after class. Indeed, my first day of class! But it always frightens me to see my money going down the drain in the manner that it does. Yes, groceries are expensive. Yes, toiletries and such are expensive. But man, I have never felt more poor as I do in London. Not to mention that traveling by the Tube every day adds more expenses as well. It's exhausting to think about! People have said to try and think about the £ as an equivalent to the $ so you don't stress yourself out too much, but it's hard not to! When I spend £20 and it's really closer to $40, I feel like I've lost a lot of money. But I'm working on it. I don't want to psyche myself out for the next four months; that would be painful.
Meanwhile, I accessed a bit of American culture last night by joining Ned, Danny L, and Graham in one of the only sports bars that broadcasts American football. So we watched the Seahawks/Bears game (poor hawks didn't do so well; but they got a couple touchdowns, which is all I asked for), followed by the Jets/Patriots game. We left early because we were sleepy, but it was a fun time.
I've started saying "excuse me", "sorry", and "thank you" with a British accent, and I've started asking questions sometimes with British's been a week...I'm not really intending to come back to the states with a British accent...but I don't know how to stop my "sponging", as I shall call it. Anywho, I'm looking forward to the first week of classes! Hopefully things will run smoothly. We see shows very frequently with the Interrelationships course, so our first show, The 39 Steps, is on Wednesday. Cheers!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Moving Right Along!

The five of us have successfully found a flat! After around a dozen viewings, we decided on a lovely little place in Bayswater. It is such a great area with lots to do, ranging everywhere from a mall to pubs/bars, a bowling alley/ice skating rink to an Asian food market (obviously my favorite part). It's a mere walk away from the Tube, and we have friends close by. The location is great and most everything is literally within blocks. I believe we're signing the lease today and moving in this weekend, so things are finally starting to move along before classes start on Monday. Meanwhile, I should probably begin to figure out my class schedule and what times I need to be where. I have a couple more days, so I'm not too worried. I should also print out my Dublin tickets so I'm prepared when my friends and I take our journey there next weekend.

And now, I shall address an ever-popular subject among Americans: British food. Personally, I don't really like it much. Tuesday night, we traveled to a pub near the hotel, and Danny and I decided to get the fish and chips. Mind you, I absolutely love fish and chips. I was ecstatic to try the "real" thing in a "real" pub. Our food arrives, accompanied with a whiskey and lemonade (apparently nobody likes to make whiskey sours in London...I've tried more than once already), and I'm thrilled to dig in. Unfortunately, there was more breading than fish--I dug the fish out of the batter and ate it. :( The chips are fabulous, though! Sarah, who was in London the previous semester, said that when you go back to America, the chips are never the same. I need to stop ordering things that come with them, though, or I'll gain too much weight! Damn delicious carbohydrates.

Speaking of losing weight, Ned and I asked about gyms in the area, and I think we might be in luck. The idea of paying between £40-60/month is not the most appealing, especially after the free use of the fitness center in Ithaca, but I'm willing to pay it. I haven't been to the gym or stretched since the Sunday before I moved and I'm definitely paying the price already. Five days gym-less makes me sad. The lack of stretching is my own fault, I'll admit...BUT. Things are looking up! Plus, in my defense, I have been walking around a lot in the last couple of days. :)

Well, that's all for now!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So It Begins...

After twenty six hours of nearly non-stop travel, I am finally here in lovely London! It's a little foggy and dreary, but the weather's not too cold, which is a nice change. The difference in driving/traffic patterns is intimidating, and my friends and I are pretty certain we're going to get hit at least once in the next four months! ...four months. That seems like such an incredible amount of time. It sounds lengthy, but god knows it's going to fly by so quickly! I have so many beautiful opportunities ahead of me. After a whole semester of overwhelming anticipation, it seems almost unreal that the time has finally come. What a fortunate, amazing, incredible and life-changing experience this is going to be. I still can't believe that we all get this chance to travel...London, Russia...what a wonderful year for the Class of 2012!

Of course, it's always my bad luck that gets the better of me! My luggage ended up on a different flight and I currently do not have any of my belongings, save what I brought in my backpack. I really hope it gets to me soon...last time I flew, I didn't have my things for two days! And speaking of things that annoy me while traveling, a few amusing complaints:
1) Babies. If there's anything that makes me want to not have kids, it's babies on planes. Crying babies, especially in circumstances where I can't leave, don't cause my maternal instincts to kick in and make me want to coo and rock them. They make me want to kill something. I later found out that the mother really didn't do much to stop her baby from crying for an hour. Even worse.
2) Auto-Flush Toilets. I was not done. You flushed on me. Now I feel disgusting.
3) Lots of College Students. If you have not flown much, I understand. If you are scared to fly, I empathize. But don't be rude to the flight attendants when they're trying to help you. Don't get sassy and get into arguments with them, then mock them behind their back. You, miss; I'm sorry, but you have the physicality and mentality of a twelve-year-old (with an annoying, high-pitched voice to boot). Grow up. People have to travel with you for six hours.

I also got a phone. I only intend to use it infrequently, as it ended up being more costly than I anticipated (my flatmates and I all got the same phone, and we were too eager and didn't compare with other stores). Sent a few texts out with not-so-favorable responses, which hurt my feelings. Alas. I must move on!

Up, up, and away we go! On to hunt for a place to live!