It has been a couple of weeks since my last blog post, but I promise it was for good reason. London is slowly slipping away from me and I am just trying to savor and absorb every minute of it while I still can. As I am sure you can imagine, the last two weeks have been filled with adventures, excursions, and many new experiences.
Posts by deannagorman
This weekend was packed with several ISA excursions and I have to say, two of the sites definitely make my list of Top 10 sights in England. The first was Stonehenge which we visited Saturday morning. I had been getting mixed reviews of the famous stones from people throughout the week. First I heard they were absolutely amazing, but then some would say they are smaller than expected and were in the middle of a highway and so it was not worth it. At first I was really excited because Stonehenge is one of those iconic sights that is cool to see with your own eyes, but then I began to lower my expectations as to avoid disappointment. Read more
We are now in the second week in November and my body is beginning to expect the weather to get into the low 40’s on a regular basis, but instead it was in the high 40’s low 50’s in London this week with little rain!! (which is good because my umbrella is MIA at the moment) I took a personal day Thursday afternoon and walked around Richmond Park. Even though London is known for its city bustle, there are some gorgeous green areas and wildlife! It was quite relaxing to have my lunch in the park, surrounded by fresher air for a change.
After taking a week off from blogging to travel to Ireland for holiday, I am back with a special post about some of the differences in culture, language, and food between London and the US. I will also insert a few fun photos from my trip to Ireland.
Birthday parties seem to be a weekly thing in our flat as we celebrated my roommate Shehara’s 19th Birthday on Thursday. She is such a sweet, young lady and I am honored to be living next to her! Harry (one of my other flatmates) and I ordered Domino’s and we were so hungry we got 2 pizzas, one for me and one for him. I couldn’t believe that I devoured a whole half of a pizza in 10 mins! We wasted no time with plates and napkins, it was a straight shot from the box to our mouths. It was yummy!! The party was so much fun, and included cupcakes with Nutella frosting provided by yours truly, and they went over very well! Read more
I reached my 30 days in London mark this week and it is truly mind-blowing! I have seen and experienced so much in the past month but I also know that I have not even scratched the surface. I am so thankful to be here for 2 more months but I know that time will fly by as well. But we are not talking about that yet! This week, like every other before, was filled with excitement!
Tuesday is my busiest night of the week and this week was no exception. After spending the whole day in London I came back to my flat and ate dinner before heading to Fulham to attend a new ballroom dancing class which I was soooo excited for! :) I do quite enjoy the public transportation in London, however it does occasionally disappoint. There were several delays and by the time I got to the dance studio I was over 30 minutes late. But I am in London so nothing can really get me down! Instead, I merely changed plans and went to a Sainsbury (smaller version of Walmart) and got a chocolate bar for 50 pence and walked around and people-watched in Fulham. The town had a nice downtown and it was fun to window shop.
Tuesdays have also come to be our weekly clubbing night in which my flatmates and I meet a group of students at an American sports pub in Piccadilly Circus called Sports Café. So after I finished my chocolate treat, I headed into central London. There is free entry and it is one of the biggest college night clubs in London on Tuesday night! We always have an absolute blast dancing to classic American hits from Journey to Katy Perry, meeting people from all over Europe, and just mingling with friends.
Although Tuesdays tend to get a little late, I refuse to let London pass me by so I was up bright and early Wednesday ready for whatever London had in store for me. Classes were good and that night we had another ISA excursion planned. We were scheduled to see the musical “Rock of Ages”. It featured classic rock songs and was quite entertaining. I definitely plan to see many more shows, this is merely the beginning!
Other highlights from the week include another order of fish and chips for dinner on Friday night and it was again very very good!! Saturday we took a tour of Parliament which was very interesting. The UK government is obviously set up differently from that of the United States, and this tour helped me to understand how it works. We were also informed that the public is encouraged to come in and watch open sessions, which is something I may have to add to my London bucket list. On our way out I managed to snag this picture below. These armed police actually walk around London!! I mean is this really necessary….?! I don’t really think so but I guess that is how London does it.
That brings us to Sunday, where I am writing my blog to all of you and reflecting on the week. I am truly blessed to have these experiences which will stay with me for the rest of my life and can’t wait to see what will happen next week. I hope when you read this, it encourages you to try new things, be that traveling or learning a new skill. Life is short. Live it!
I can’t believe it is another Sunday and I am writing another blog, the weeks are just FLYING by!! This was a packed week not only for London, but for ISA. I am beginning to really settle into my classes and naturally there will be ones I fancy more than others. This semester I foresee it being my Economics and Government class. It is a Year 3 course so most of the students are my ages and the structure is geared much more toward group discussion. It is very interesting to get a look into UK government and policy and comparing and contrasting to how the States handle the same situations. Being the only American in the class, occasionally the lecturer will ask for insight into the “American way” because the UK is quite abreast to what is happening in the States economically and politically. It is a great atmosphere in which I can learn but also bring another first hand perspective to how another county’s policies work.
Before I knew it, it was Wednesday which means I would get to explore another sight in London with ISA. This week, that sight happened to be the famous British Museum! I have never been really into museums and such but I was still excited to go. We arrived and just like everything else in London, there was so much to see and it was all incredible! We walked through many exhibits from Ancient Athens and East Asia, to exhibits on money and watches. We spent several hours wandering around trying to see and absorb all we could!
After a while, we had seen all we could absorb for one day and needed to fill our tummies. We decided to stop at a cute little café on our way to the tube station and I had official English Fish & Chips for the first time!! They were absolutely AMAZING!! :) I couldn’t even wait for it to cool down and I burned my mouth….! Another London must have crossed off the list. I think that may have to become a weekly meal.
Our next big outing was on Saturday Afternoon to Buckingham Palace. We have nothing comparable in the States so I was excited to see how royalty lived. I took us about 2 hours to get through the 7 rooms open to the public. Everything was absolutely exquisite! From the gold banisters to the furniture to the intricately detailed ceilings to the magnificent murals on the wall. We don’t see that type of detail given to buildings and such in the States. It is mind-blowing to think about how much time and effort someone spent on the furnishings in the house for the royals. It was such a gorgeous day not only inside the Palace, but also outside.
Our final excursion of the week was an all day trip to Canterbury and Dover. Now we had to be at the bus station at 6:50am so part of me was not thrilled out going on this trip. But like always, England doesn’t disappoint and we had a fabulous day!
Canterbury is an adorable little college town with dozens of shops and a variety of food. The big tourist site in Canterbury was the cathedral and it was a sight to see indeed! Then we traveled to Dover and toured the castle, my second official castle of the trip. It was a long day, but a good day! I got back to my flat and had a night in with my flatmates who I had not seen in what seemed like ages and we all chatted out about our weekends and the adventures we had been on. I have only known them for 3 weeks and already we are so close. They have been so welcoming to us, I just love my new Flat Family!!
I have been on summer holiday for so long, it began to seem like I would never go back to school. London has been treating me so well but honestly I was excited for school to begin. They say you only have one shot at your first year of college so make it good, but I disagree! Yes, I am a junior in the States, but I am not in the States and this term I feel just as new as my fresher flat mates! (well… almost as new) As I laid in bed Sunday night I found myself a little anxious because starting a new school can be a little scary, especially if that school is in a different country. As the days passed and I was introduced to each of my classes I became increasingly excited about the term ahead of me.
Wednesday afternoon we had another wonderful ISA excursion planned to Camden Town. The markets were filled with everything from clothing to home décor to souvenirs. Not to mention TONS of food!! We didn’t stay too long however because a group of us girls wanted to see Emma Watson at the premiere of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” in central London. Although Emma was too busy to come out and say hi, the anticipation and atmosphere was quite exciting.
The movie premiere was just one of many free weekly events I have attended in London. Another was a free tango lesson and open dance in the center of Liver Pool St. I traveled on the subway and when I got there I was not exactly sure where the event was but the site of Liverpool St. was fascinating enough. The streets were filled with bustling businessmen and women getting off of work and filling the pubs. I was just happy to be a part of the scene! Before long I heard tango music and joined in the lesson. It was an absolute blast!! I am so happy I went. There is always so much to do and see and I love being spontaneous and getting involved in all forms of London culture! Stay tuned for what I stumble upon in the coming week…
Warning: I have been picking up British terms and trying to incorporate them into my daily dialogue so if you come across a word that is odd in the States, don’t fret, you are merely witnessing my British transformation.
Fresher’s Week is somewhat of a foreign concept to those of us from the States but is fairly self-explanatory event. This is the special week in which “freshers,” or freshman, arrive on campus and there are events planned both day and night for the students to get to know their classmates. I didn’t attend many of the events but that does not mean that I missed out on the fun, not at all! Tuesday was enrollment day, where I finalized my classes for fall semester. I will be taking mostly business and economic classes along with a supplemental London class in which I will be traveling around central London and studying it with a sociological eye glass. I am extremely excited about this one because I am hoping we will get out of the more touristy areas and be able to experience what it is like for native Londoners. I have been out of school for almost 4 months which is the longest I have ever been on holiday and so I am very eager to go back!
Thursday night was our next big memorable night, one of my flatmates, and fellow ISA students, Catherine turned 21!! Now contrary to popular belief, turning 21 in London is quite the big deal, not as big as it is in the States, but still worth throwing a large party. We had our flatmates, ISA group, and other friends we had made in our kitchen. We ordered over £100 (roughly $150) of Domino’s pizza and they delivered it in a moped! It was so much fun to hang out with students from all over the world. There were moments throughout the night were I was just observing the celebration and thought, “Wow…. We really are not so different” It was quite a late night, but it was well worth it!!
Then on Saturday morning we went on an ISA tour of the Tower of London. We were literally in a castle, it was amazing!! We were able to walk around at our own pace after the intro guide which was nice because it took us several hours! There was so much to see and so much history. As we walked up and down many flights of small cramped stairs and through many simple bedrooms I realized that these structures were centuries older than my home county. We were also able to see the Crown Jewels exhibit which was very cool. The coronation video of Queen Elizabeth that was in that exhibit was interesting to watch. It was such a sacred, rare event. An event which I may get to see in my lifetime! The day was long and included a lot of walking but as we reflected of our day on the tube ride home, I was so happy that we had stuck it out and went through the whole thing because experiencing history that old is a rare opportunity for students from the States.
Generally, I would start where I left off, but who wants to hear about the 8 hour plane ride when I can jump right into London?! I have been in the UK for only one full day before I can take the itch to get into central London no more!! Two other ISA students and myself decide to brave the intimidating tube system which stands between us and Piccadilly Circus, London’s heart of entertainment! After careful study and guidance from one Londoner, we come up from the tube station and step into London. As I reach the top of the steps, I am greeted by a picture perfect scene of London’s amazing architecture. I stood there a moment to just take it in.
I am in London, England, after almost a year of planning all the dreaming has come true! As we began to walk the streets, my eyes could not take in the scenes quick enough! As I started, I decided that London is just as glamorous as everyone expects and makes it out to be. As my eyes make their way straight ahead to cross the street, I quickly observe that the British do in fact drive on the opposite side of the road. It didn’t take as long to get used to seeing that as it will to get used to not thinking a baby in their passenger seat is driving! It’s been almost a week and I still have to do double takes with that. We did not cover very much of London that day but we hit some of the big sites, one of them being Big Ben which was beyond awesome!
Although I wished we could stay forever, that first trip ended but was followed up by encores the next four days and nights. Every trip we got great new pictures but when we returned we realized we were still just a group of Americans living in London. We were missing one vital thing…. BRITISH STUDENTS!! They finally arrived on Sunday and I don’t think they expected to be quite so welcomed by the two strange American girls in their flat. We wasted no time getting them to speak to us in “those-melt-right-in-front-of-them” accents. We were so intrigued by everything they said and did, but the cool thing was they were just as interested in us. Just because we all speak English does NOT mean we are the same.
We stayed up half the night in our new “family” kitchen getting to know each other and playing the typical “how do you say that” and “what do you call this” games. It was everything I was hoping for and that first night, I know I fell asleep with a smile on my face. The semester hasn’t even begun yet and I am already dreading the day I have to leave. But we are not thinking out that yet!!