Saturday, December 17, 2011

The End...

So it's here. The end. The end of my study abroad experience.

For the past week I kept asking myself what single event would signify the end of the experience. I came up with a bunch of different answers, but today I really figured it out. I was looking out the window as the plane was making its final decent, I saw the clouds and then the ground. We got closer and close, and I felt myself getting more and more anxious. And then, the wheels hit the ground and I let out the biggest sigh. That was it. The plane touching down was the moment that ended it. I realized that on the way there it was takeoff that made it feel real. But once we hit the ground, that was it.

I can go on and on about how fantastic this experience was. Our first week was like a vacation where we got to hang out, see the sights, drink at pubs...everything. We got acclimated to our flats and life in London. I missed home a bunch. I missed family and friends. It felt a bit like freshman year all over again, because we didn't know how to do things and were struggling to find classrooms. What I didn't realize, is the life that I was acclimating to would be one that would teach me so much about myself and the world around me. I've said it a million times, but you do change when you go abroad. You grow and mature and come back a different person. Sure, studying abroad is about the classes you take and the places you go to visit, but it is also about learning who you are.

Though I have been to London twice before this trip, I got to do so much more this time (obviously, since I was there for three months). I saw Stonehenge and Bath. I took a weekend trip to Paris. I went to Prague and Vienna with two of my closest friends. And I got to return to Stratford-Upon-Avon, the first place I ever went in the United Kingdom. I got to play at a pub in London for tons of people I didn't know. And most importantly, I made and strengthened friendships that will last for a long time. There are so many things that studying abroad gives you. You gain knowledge about life. You gain respect for the life which we are blessed to live back in the United States. So much respect. I never felt more proud to be an American than when I saw ridiculous things happening in London.

I'm not sure what else there is to say. I'm sitting here in my room in America thinking about how I was in my flat in London this morning. I'm thinking about how I want to go and hang out with my friends, but I can't because we have all gone home. I still can't believe this is over. But when I see my friends back at school, it will feel so good to be home. It actually already feels good to be home. It was so nice seeing my parents.

If anyone who is reading this is on the fence about studying abroad, stop thinking and do it. I promise, you will not regret it.

I am so thankful for this experience. I am so thankful that my parents were able to send me to London for 3 months. Mom and Dad, this experience would NEVER have happened without you. I will never be able to repay you for what you have given me.

Well...that's it. Thank you to all who have been reading and following my journey. London, you will now and always hold a special place in my heart.

I'm going to end with the chorus to a song I wrote while I was in London titled, "Madame London"

"So long to the cobblestone streets,
Farewell to rainy days and soaked brick walls,
'cause I'm going above ground soaring high in the sky
On a plane tonight
So wave goodbye to Madame London."

The End.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Time To Go Home

So here it is...the end of my study abroad experience. I can not believe that this time has actually come.

I realized there would be no way I could sleep before this flight. I decided just to stay up and shower at about 3am to wake myself up. It worked. I've been throwing things away (sheets, towels...etc) and cleaning the room. Bringing back to the state it was in when I first arrived. (Don't worry...I'll take a picture)

This has been the most incredible experience in my life. I can't believe that I was considering not studying abroad. I have learned so much, not only academics wise, but also about myself. I feel like a different person than when I first got here. And I've had a few people come up to me and tell me the same thing...they notice that I'm different...in a good way. My mind is filled with memories of this incredible place. I got to live in London for three months. I got to travel to Paris, Prague and Vienna. I got to do so many incredible things......

Ugh, ok I can't keep typing this. I'm starting to tear up a little bit. Plus I'm kind of tired and want to spend this last hour with my friend (who will be in the car with me anyway...). I'm going to write a post probably on Sunday once I'm home. Or maybe Saturday once I land....we'll see how tired I am.

But there's one thing I need to say in this post that can't wait....

Goodbye London. Thank you for all you have taught me. You will always hold a special place in my heart. A place of comfort and joy. Words can not express how grateful I am for this experience. And though I may be leaving, I know I will be back to see you again. But until that time comes, stay well and stay strong.

It's time for me to go home. It's time for me to go back to my family and friends and all the people who I care about and who care about me. And as much as I don't want this to end, I know it wouldn't be as special unless it did.

Goodbye London....Goodbye.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

3 days to go...

I can not believe that I have (well by now less than) three days left in London. I feel like I've been here for so long, but at the same time like I just got here.

The beginning of this week was filled with last minute things. It started with finishing up end of term work that I had to do. Yesterday (Tuesday) I went with a friend to go shopping in Hyde Park and Camden Market. We kind of just wanted one last look at the places...and they are always great places to buy some stuff. That night, a few of us went to the Hobgoblin to enjoy some Thai food there one last time. It's funny, I remember the first time we went there I kept thinking how this used to be where all of the people from last year went. They were walking around, drinking, making memories and having fun. Then it became ours. And now, it's time for us to leave and for it to become someone else's. I really will miss that place. I think on Friday, we will all spend our last few hours just hanging around there. It just has such a great atmosphere. 

Today, I had my London Theatre class for the last time. We finished talking about the shows we saw and started talking about design in theatre and what not. At the end, he said he wishes us a safe journey back home. That was when it really hit me...I'm going home. This experience of a lifetime is ending. As hard as it may have been leaving to come here, it's going to be incredibly hard to go back home. 

Tonight, we are going to the student union club, Club Sandwich, for one last dance night. We just want to relax, have fun, and enjoy one of our last nights here. 

As much as I miss home, I have no idea how I'm going to say goodbye to this place...

3 days...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stratford-upon-Avon

This past weekend was my last trip during my semester abroad.

My Shakespeare class professor decided to take us to Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of William Shakespeare. We were all really excited (partially because the school paid for our tickets and all the entrance fees to things). But for me, it was really special for a different reason.

During my first trip to London, the first place we went after getting off the plane was Stratford-upon-Avon. That was the first place I had ever been in the country. It was the start of my fantastic journey's through all London and England have to offer. A bit of nostalgia hit when I went back.

We had to wake up very early to get there. It was a day trip so our train left a little before 9am so we could have a full day. Once we got there, we got to see all of the different shakespeare trust properties including his birth place, his other houses and where he is buried. All that time, we were walking through this beautiful town.

It was weird because it looked a lot different than I remembered. I can't figure out if that was because we just didn't go to the areas we went to this time or if the place really changed. It still had the "old town" feel, but it seemed different. That being said, last time I was there we spent almost all of our time at the RSC theatre. (Royal Shakespeare Company) We didn't get to see any shows there this time because there were only children's shows playing. I felt bad for everyone else because their work was amazing last time I saw it.

We ended the day with tea at a place called The Fourteas. It was designed to look like a 40s style tea house. Kind of cool. And the tea was delicious.

The only bad part to the day was getting home. When we got back to Marylebone Station, some of us decided to take a bus back because it was direct. We waited for about 20mins, and the bus never came. We finally just decided to take the tube. Got on. Made our 1st connection. And then we got to Canada Water to switch to the London Overground. Got on the train....and it broke. Everyone had to get off so they could take the train out of service. We waited for a while, thinking it wouldn't take long...but it did. So we got back on the tube, went to London Bridge, and had to get a national rail train one stop to New Cross Gate. From New Cross Gate to Stratford-upon-Avon it took about 2hrs 30mins. On the way back...it took almost 4 hours. Not fun.

I can't believe that this is the last trip on this semester journey. But like I said, I don't think I could have picked a better place to end.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Churchill War Rooms

Forgot to post about the war rooms. So here's a quick post about them.

Went to see them on Tuesday. They were really cool! Walking around underground in the places where a historical war was run from was incredible. Plus, seeing the quarters they were confined to...I don't know how they did it. It is amazing to me that they were able to do what they did without the technology that we have today.

As we were leaving, Steve and I saw a protest going on in front of 10 Downing Street. It was a protest about democratic reform in the D.R. Congo. Standing in the middle of a protest, watching people fight for what they believe in...I've never seen something like it. It wasn't violent (while we were there at least...not sure what happened after we left) which is what made it even more powerful. After we had lunch, we came out and the group had doubled in size. They had taken over the street and the police were forced to close the roads. Pretty incredible.

War Rooms, protests....kind of a cool day.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

10 Days...

Well here we go. 10 more days until I fly back to the states. It's really getting even more unreal that I'm leaving at this point. It's unreal that I'll be saying goodbye to this place. Though it's not goodbye to London, I know I'll be back here at some point in my life. There is great theatre here that I will be back to see. But saying goodbye to a school that I've only spent one semester at? Saying goodbye to some of the friends I've made here? Getting used to American culture again? That's all going to be really hard.


10 Days....

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Two Weeks Left...

It's really hard to believe that I have only two weeks left here in London. My previous trips to London were both for a week. So I know how quickly these weeks will fly. But while I will miss it here, I will be very happy to be back in the United States.

Today I went to Portobello Road to walk around the market. I went with some friends a few weeks ago but it wasn't on a saturday when the real market comes to life. I had however been there on one of my previous trips so I remembered how awesome the place was. As always there are tons of cool things to buy, but I was good (especially since I was alone and didn't have anyone telling me not to buy things). I bought a cool bronze piano sculpture that actually has a pencil sharpener in it and a brass key hook that says "Keys & Things" for my parents. I also bought a cool compass that I saw. It was very cheep for what it was but still looks really cool. My entire time here I have been the navigator for my group of friends, always the one carrying the map, so I thought it would fit nicely.

I realize now that this was my last Saturday in London. Next Saturday I'll be going to Stratford-Upon-Avon with my Shakespeare class and the Saturday after that I'll be flying home. It's really weird thinking about that. But for now, it's time to finish up the work so I can go home.

13 days....

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Do You Hear The People Sing?

Tonight I got to see a friend from home in London, my friend Jenn. When I saw her before we both left for London she said, "We have to see a show together." When I found out she hadn't seen Les Miserables, I KNEW that's what we were going to see. It is after all my favorite musical!

So after trying and failing to make plans, we finally got our stuff together and got tickets for tonight. We also made dinner plans before the show.

First off, couldn't find the restaurant because the map on their website was totally wrong...so it took us about 30mins to find the place. But once we did we were happy. Great Japanese food there.

Then we headed to the show. We got seats in the upper circle, so pretty high up. Here's a view from where we were....




The seats turned out to be pretty decent. Sure we saw some things over the barricade that we weren't supposed to but so it goes. The show was fantastic as it always is. This was actually one of the better versions I've seen. Topped the revival on Broadway, but not the 25th Anniversary concert. I mean honestly, that one's hard to beat. Still the night was fantastic. The music brings me chills every time and tonight it did not fail.

Basically a fantastic night out in London.


15 days.....

Monday, November 28, 2011

18 days....

Just booked my car to the airport......yup it's that close.


18 days....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

20 days....

So somehow it has come down to 20 days until I leave London. I really can't believe how fast it's gone. Still, I miss home and I miss my family and my friends. So it will be nice to come home.

The rest of the week with Damon was a lot of fun. On Thursday a few of us took him sightseeing around London. We started at Kings Cross Station to take pictures at the Platform 9 and 3/4 set up. Funny enough, they don't actually have it inside the station. It's basically a moving set piece that they can put anywhere they want. That day, they had it outside. While we were looking for it we passed right by it...we felt pretty stupid since we spent the next half hour walking around the entire station.

After that, we headed to Westminster and took pictures around Big Ben and Westminster Abby. Then we walked from there to Buckingham Palace and from there to Hyde Park where we got something to eat. Next we took the tube to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and then walked to see the Globe Theatre. Finally, we walked back towards St. Pauls where I saw something first hand...and occupy movement. I have seen pictures and heard stories, but I had not actually seen it up close. A tent colony surrounded one side of St. Pauls. People were actually living there....realizing that this was happening like this in my own country was really weird to think about. Just got me thinking a lot.

Finally, we went to dinner. We went to a restaurant called Sarastro in the Covent Garden area. It was a really interesting looking restaurant filled with items from opera houses. There were raised booths for tables and things everywhere. The food was fantastic...but no turkey or stuffing. Still, it was nice to be with friends for Thanksgiving.

I've done so much in my time here...and I still have a bunch more planed. So away we go!


20 days....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

This Thanksgiving I have a huge thing to be thankful for. I am so incredibly thankful that my parents are fortunate enough to send me to study in London for three months. And I'm even more thankful for the trips I've been able to go on. Stonehenge, Bath, Paris, Prague, Vienna...it has all been amazing. But it wouldn't have happened with out then.

I'm thankful for you mom and dad....I have been and will be every day for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Damon in London!

Every year, the Theatre department sends a faculty member to London to check-in with the study abroad students at the two schools. They usually send this person around Thanksgiving so that they can take the students out to dinner on the Thursday. 

This year, the faculty member is Damon, the Technical Director and Shop Head. When we heard Damon was coming we all got very excited. I mean, how often can you say you had dinner and drinks with one of your teachers in London? 

When he arrived on Monday, I invited him to come for dinner in the New Cross area. When he got here, I gave him a mini-tour of the campus. After that, we went to the local pub, The Hobgoblin, for dinner. It was really good to catch up with him and hear what was going on for the past months at Muhlenberg. It was also nice to see a familiar face who I hadn't seen in a while. 

The next day, myself and a few others met up with Damon in the Notting Hill area to walk around and shop. Lot's of cool things there. Going to have to go back though to buy some things. After that, I brought Damon back to Goldsmiths for him to attend a class with some other students. He is required to sit in on at least one class at each school here in London...I guess to make sure they are actually teaching us something. After that, we headed back into Central London to the National Theatre for the backstage tour. This tour never ceases to amaze me. I've been on it twice and each time I get to see something different. We saw and learned about all three theatre's and even got to see some backstage areas. Really cool. It would be amazing to work there one day...who knows...it could happen. After that, we all went out for dinner and drinks. We were talking about everything, and eventually got on to talking about life in the theatre department. What made it special was that we could say exactly how we felt, and didn't worry about being disrespectful...because we weren't...we were just saying how we felt. 

Today, he is spending time with the Queen Mary people but some of us might see him later after our show. 

Overall, it's really nice to see a familiar face here in London...though it does make me miss home just a little more. 

24 days....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seeing Friends...

So here's a funny thing...I got to see a friend yesterday who I haven't seen in a pretty long time...we live 40mins away from each other in New York...but she has to fly to London from Spain to see me. Funny how things work out.

I got to see my friend Gabi last night. She was in town visiting some friends and got in touch with me. It was nice to catch up. I will say, it's pretty surreal to meet up with friends while you are living in London. I don't think that part will ever get old.

I just wanted to post about that...because it was nice seeing an old friend.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time moves too quickly...

It's hard to believe that I've been here for almost 2 months. I have my countdown app going...29 days from today, I will be flying back to the U.S.

I'm excited to go back...I miss family and friends and all that. I know as soon as I get home I'll want to come back. But I think that's how everyone feels. So far I'm definitely happy that I came here to study. I have experienced living in British culture. I have seen Stonehenge, Bath, Paris, Prague and Vienna. I have seen some cool things. And I've had some fantastic times. But now, it's time to enjoy these last 29 days. It's time to make more memories that I will never forget.

The Lion King!

So after a fantastic reading week and an ok monday, I went into central london on Tuesday to the Lion King box office and was able to get tickets for myself and 3 friends for that night! For 30 pounds we were able to get seats in the first balcony in row K. The sound was a little off, but as for the view, they were perfect.

I had been waiting to see this show for a really long time. That being said, it had been built up a lot for me. Unfortunately, I wasn't seeing it on Broadway...I was seeing it in the West End. I've realized now that the West End does not set as high of a bar for themselves as Broadway does. At one point I heard the drop bolts come out as a set piece moved....not supposed to hear that....

Still, the show was fantastic. The puppet work was incredible. There were people on stilts (in weird ways), birds flying through the air, elephants walking through the audience...pretty cool stuff. Out of all the actors, my favorites were Zazu and Timon. They just played the parts perfectly in my opinion.

Another problem I had with the show was the singing. They sounded like they were holding back. And they weren't holding out notes. I hate when performers do that. Really annoying. Fill the theatre damnit!

Anyway, it was a fun night. I'm still glad I got to see it. But now I need to see it on Broadway to compare...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Performing Live in London...

Tonight, I got to live a dream I had set for myself....Tonight, I got to perform live in London. My friend Jake got offered to play at a pub called New Cross Inn and he asked me to play a few. I performed "Rock and Roll" by Eric Hutchinson as well as a new song I wrote (which doesn't have a title yet...) and then we closed with a version of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. I didn't get a lot of time to prep...we worked things out hours before, and the drummer, Steve, hadn't gotten to practice on a set at all...actually for Jake's stuff he did it all on the fly. 

I wanted to post a video on here of one of the songs, so I've picked the one that I wrote while I was here. I'm really proud of this song. Again, it's untitled...but who know's...maybe that will be the title. 

video

Music in London

My friend Jake got offered a gig tonight at a pub near us for 9pm and he asked me if I wanted to play a little. So I'm gonna do two songs and then a third with him. I'm about to live a dream....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 3 in Vienna....

Well we are sitting in the airport getting ready to fly back to London. We are here really early because we didn't really have a lot else to do in Vienna and we are tired from all the walking and what not. It's been a busy few days.

So this morning we woke up and checked out of the hostel. We went into central Vienna and walked around for a little bit. We walked to Judenplatz which is where a temple used to be before it was destroyed. In it's place, there is a memorial for all of the Austrian Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. The memorial is a white stone rectangle. Around the sides, it is designed to look like library bookshelves. The books are supposed to represent the lives whose stories can never be re-opened. It was pretty moving to see.

After that we headed back to the underground and went to the Naschmarkt area. On our way, we passed by the Secession Building. The building was made to house art by a group of artists who seceded from the artists union in Vienna. This is where Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Freeze is located. It was something that Steve really wanted to see, and Tom and I did as well since we had seen so much of his work the previous day. Yay museums.

So the Naschmarkt. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a giant market filled with food vendors (and some other vendors as well). We found a good place to sit down and have lunch there which was pretty cool. After that, we headed to a wifi area so we could all register for our Spring Semester classes. Unfortunately, something didn't go through from one of my advisors so I haven't been able to register yet....I'm not very happy about that...but hopefully if I have any problems, he will help me get the classes I need and want since it wasn't my fault. We'll see.

Then we headed to the airport. It was about a 30 minute train ride, and now I'm just sitting in the terminal looking out at the tarmac as planes come and go. As I've been traveling in europe, I always get these moments where it hits me that I'm actually in the place I am. With Paris, Prague and Vienna...there's just that moment where you stand there, look out and say "Wow, I can't believe I'm actually here right now...". Especially by myself. Well not totally by myself, because I'm here with friends. But still, the fact that I'm navigating around foreign cities where I don't speak the language...I'm pretty proud of that. Though I wish we had spent a little more time in Prague, this trip has been an interesting one and one that I'm not sorry I did. Sure there are things that I wish I could have done better, but I still learned a lot and got to see a lot.

All that being said, I'm very ready to go back to London. I'm ready to go back to a more comfortable bed after sleeping in Hostels. Plus I have a bunch of things to look forward to. My friend Gabi is coming to visit since she is studying in Barcelona. My friend Myll might come to visit for a few days and then Damon, the technical director at Muhlenberg, is coming during Thanksgiving. Lots going on.

38 more days to go....wow, I remember when that countdown was for me leaving for London....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 2 in Vienna...it gets a little better

So Day 2 in Vienna...

It started to get a little better. We woke up, had breakfast and went to the Belvedere. Steve's favorite artist is Gustav Klimt. He basically came to Vienna to see his work, so we spent almost the entire day there. I don't love museums, but it was still really cool. We took a bunch of pictures in the gardens as we walked between the two buildings too. After that, we started walking around and headed into Central Vienna. Once we walked out of the underground station, we felt so much better. FINALLY we started seeing some activity. Before, we were in areas where there were no people. Now we started seeing a busier city. We started feeling a lot better. We walked around and found a place to eat for dinner. After a nice dinner, we started walking around and found a few cool sites that had some decent lighting on them at night. We passed through what I think was part of the Jewish area...but we are going to try and go back there tomorrow. Of course, I don't know what they were...but they looked nice! Then we headed into a bar for some drinks. Then we came back to our hostel, played some billiards and now I'm typing up this post. So overall today wasn't a terrible day. We are starting to like Vienna a little bit more. However, stores closing at 7:00pm is a little odd. But tomorrow, a little more exploring and then we head back to London.

Something about London...I just got an email from the U.S. Department of State about a warning in the London area:


Emergency Message for U.S Citizens – Demonstrations Scheduled to Take Place In Central London and the City Of London on Wednesday, November 9, 2011
U.S. Embassy London advises U.S. citizens that on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 a number of demonstrations, listed below, are likely to cause considerable congestion in central London and the City of London, most significantly a protest organized by the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts.
National Campaign against Fees and Cuts
The National Campaign against Fees and Cuts will protest in opposition to Higher Education reform with a march and rally expected to run from 12:30PM to 6:30PM.
Previous student demonstrations and politically-motivated, student-based protests in London have led to significant disorder and a number of arrests for various offenses, including public order and criminal damage.  Activists have stated they are trying to organize ‘walk outs’ and campus occupations across the capital.  The City of London and the various ‘Occupy’ campaigns are also attracting significant attention from student activists as well as anarchist and anti-capitalist groups.
Organizers hope to attract up to 10,000 protesters and police will provide a proportionate response. 
A map detailing the route is below and areas expected to be affected are the London Boroughs of Westminster, Camden, Southwark, Lambeth and City of London (Malet Street, Gower Street, Bloomsbury Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road, Duncannon Street, Strand, Fleet Street, Fetter Lane, New Fetter Lane, Holborn Viaduct, Newgate Street, King Edward Street, and London Wall)
Additionally, there will be numerous road closures with fixed and temporary road closures along the whole route. London, Southwark, Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges (Northbound) may be closed if required. Closures will begin at 9:00AM and increase throughout the day.


I should be ok since I am getting back at 10:15pm...but we will see what happens. I'm sure I will be able to get back to my flat...but it was a little scary getting the email. I signed up on the travel.gov website letting the Department of State know that I was staying in the country so they would send me relevant information....I'm really glad that I did AND I'm glad to know it works...

Here's to staying safe! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prague Day 2 and the Journey to Vienna

So Prague day 2.

Once again, Prague is an amazing city. I love it. We started our morning by walking across the Charles Bridge towards the castle. As we walked along the bridge, we saw musicians and beautiful views. The hike up to the castle was a tough one because we were carrying our stuff with us, but it was worth it. We got to see fantastic views of both the city and the castle as well as the cathedral. We didn't pay to go all the way inside, but we got to stand in the back and take some good pictures. After that we headed back down the hill towards the Jewish area. I really wanted to go inside the synagogue that was there because it was really cool on the outside, but you had to pay and we didn't have a lot of time to go back to where you had to buy tickets. And you couldn't take pictures inside, so I wouldn't have been able to share it with anyone...just a reason to go back! Then we made our way to the old town square and had something for lunch. Our final walk in Prague was to the train station. We ended up taking an earlier train because we didn't want to get to Vienna too late. So we got to the station, got our tickets, found some seats and camped out for the 5 hour train ride.

The train actually wasn't too bad. It was a quiet smooth ride with only a few stops along the way. I slept, listened to music and played games on my ipod for most of the ride. Plus we got to see the country side of the Czech Republic, not so much Austria because it was dark by the time we got there. I probably saw things you would never see unless you took the train I was on. Seeing small towns and farms...thinking about these people who have lives there while I live in the United States in my house......

So we arrive in Vienna. We got on the underground and headed to our hostel. Something that was shocking is how inaccessible Vienna is. In Prague, and when I was in Paris, signs were in the local language and in english for the most part. That's just how most of the world is as I've seen it. But not here. Very few signs have english translations. Luckily I had looked up the underground route before we got there, so I had it figured out. We got to the hostel and what culture shock it was. First of all, this is the first real hostel I'm staying at. We are in a dorm with 8 beds. We have three and the rest are all taken. Very VERY weird. Don't really like that at all. But something else, we were walking around at 8:00pm and almost everything was closed! We were in what seemed like it a very pedestrian area...but no one was there. Eventually we asked the front desk for suggestions where to go and they told us to go into the central city. But even there, it was pretty quiet. We found a bar to sit at and have a few drinks which was nice to relax. I know it's a Monday night, but still! There were no corner stores either. Vienna is a pretty weird city so far. And following up Prague is pretty tough. We are hoping tomorrow we will wake up with a more lively city. 

Here's to hoping tomorrow is better.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Prague! Day 1

So, after making our way to the airport, Steve, Tom and I got on our flight and headed to Prague!

We landed around 11:30am and it took a little while to get through customs and what not, but we made our way to the bus, which took us to the underground, which brought us to our hostel.

We walked around for a bit before going to the hostel...mainly because we needed to get a map so we could find it faster. Then we checked in, went online for a little, and then headed out to explore. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. The buildings, the roads, everything was just amazing. We walked all around back roads looking for lunch, eventually settling on a slice of pizza just because we were that hungry. Then we found our way to the Old Town Square with the famous Astronomical Clock. I remember my parents telling me about it and showing me pictures...but it was even cooler to see it in person. There were tons of vendors in the square, there were musicians playing and singing...it was the atmosphere that I imagined. The amount of culture that surrounds this city is just unreal. This isn't a city that has been modernized like so many others...this city has maintained it's european greatness. You want to get lost in the streets. You want to go down every ally and see what buildings are there. Prague is a place that makes you want to explore and lets you have fun doing it.

Since we got up pretty early for our flight, we came back to our room to take naps. After that, we headed out to a great restaurant for dinner. We had seen it earlier in the day and thought that it looked good so why not? The meal was fantastic. Tom and Steve had some seafood and I had steak. It was so flavorful. A great meal in Prague. After that, we walked around a bit more to get some night time pictures and ended up back in the Old Town Square to have some dessert and drinks in the square. Just sitting there, looking out on the square was the perfect way to end the night.

After that we headed back to our room to turn in for the night. Overall, a great first day in Prague. Tomorrow, a little more exploring and then it's off to Vienna!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Leaving for Prague and Vienna

I'm leaving for Prague and Vienna in the morning with Tom and Steve. I'm really excited to see these two places. They are both supposed to be amazing and beautiful. Plus, I'm going with two of my good friends...so this should be a lot of fun.

Flights at 8:30am. Leaving for the airport at 5:30am....waking up at 4:30am...it's 2:00am now...opps. Time to go to bed.

The Tower of London

On Tuesday I went with a few friends to the Tower of London. It was kind of a last minute idea, but it was something I wanted to see so I was pretty excited. We went in the afternoon, got there around 3:00pm. First of all, it really is a maze. You could get a little lost if you weren't paying attention. Of course there's the idea that we are looking, walking in and standing around something that has been there for so long. That just hits you every time you see something like that. 

So the first thing we did was go see the crown jewels. Unfortunately, they don't allow photography inside, so I can't show any pictures of them. But here's a basic description...gold, diamonds, ridiculous rare stones, 530k diamonds, more gold, silver, gold, GIANT GOLD BOWL....and shinny things. Yup, I'd say that's the best description. In the jewel house, there's a part that has display cases with two moving walkways on either side. They move very slowly, but it prevents people from standing in front of the cases for too long. This way everyone gets to see. I thought it was a smart idea. 

Then of course we had to see some armor. There was so much armor in the tower. It was interesting to see the different ways they used the suits. Along with the armor they had weapons displays and old weapons are always cool to look at. 

Oh, and there was this awesome dragon sculpture inside the top of the tower...it was just really cool. It's talons were old pistols. 


Here are some pictures!








Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Great Shows (really three...)

Last week was the week of theatre, because I saw three shows. "Blood Brothers", "Jerusalem" and "The Tempest". I already wrote about "Blood Brothers" in the parents post, so I'm just going to talk about the other two here.

So "Jerusalem"...it is a 3 hour play with two intermissions. (That's the way a three hour play should be done). So this night started off with us being late to the train, and had to run to the theatre, up the stairs...and as I sit down, the house lights went out...not the best way to start a show. The second thing I have to talk about it the set. It was INCREDIBLE! It was set in the woods, so of course you have to have trees. Now I couldn't tell if they were actually real trees, but they looked good enough. Center stage was a trailer, one of the old "silver-bullet" ones (that's the best way for me to describe it). Then there was a slab of concrete surrounded with dirt and the set was dressed to the max. So much detail was put into it. There were live chickens in a coop under the front of the trailer AND the record player turned when it was playing. I'm a tech guy, I love detail like that. But putting aside the fantastic scenery and props, the acting was just....outstanding. Mark Rylance played the lead role of Johnny "Rooster" Byron. Now, I've seen some pretty good acting, but I'm not just talking about his acting here...the energy that he put into the role was unimaginable. I still can't believe that he could perform that role twice in one day. His character kept growing and growing to the end where he just put his entire heart and soul into the character. I could go on and on about the show, but I just find myself saying the same thing over and over...how amazed I was. Definitely worth being there for three hours and running to the theatre.

The next day, I got to see Ralph Fiennes in "The Tempest". Now, I'm not the biggest fan of "The Tempest", but I thought that the show was pretty good. But let me tell you, it was a long afternoon. This was another three hour show, but it only had one intermission. Plus we were all the way in the back (I didn't know they had audience seats this high up in a theatre) and the seats weren't really seats, they were wooden benches with a little bit of padding. So that's wasn't very fun. Plus the person in front of me was a little too tall...but eventually it was ok. They incorporated what I thought was some great lighting and decent areal work. I worked with some areal stuff in High School and saw some cool tricks, so I was totally impressed, but it was still cool. Didn't love this one, but still was a cool thing to see. For some reason everyone always wants to do weird things to "The Tempest"...but I'm not sure what else there is to do...something to think about.

So one week, three big shows all in the West End...I'm a pretty happy guy.

Mom and Dad come to London!

Alright, so this was already a week ago...and yes I'm falling behind on my blog...but it's hard to get the motivation to sit down and write a post....

So, last week my parents came to London! They were finishing up a big trip to Europe where they got to go to a lot of cool places. And since I'm in London, why not stop by on the way back?

They arrived on Sunday afternoon and I went to meet up with them at their hotel. It was so good to see them, and weird since I was seeing them in London, and not back at home. They each wanted to freshen up so I took turns spending time with them. First, my dad and I went for a walk. He needed to find a cash machine, some bottled water and what not, so we did that. We found this great little market behind the hotel. So that was pretty cool. Then we came across a pub, and decided to head in for a pint. After that, we headed back to the hotel and I switched and went down to the hotel bar to talk with my mom. Eventually, dad came downstairs and we made our way to a pub they had heard about for dinner. The food was pretty good, but really I was just happy to spend time with them. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and I said goodnight and headed back to my flat.

The next day, Monday, I had class from 2pm - 5pm, so I wasn't going to see them until later. They had asked if I wanted to invite anyone who I was at school with so I asked my friends Tom and Steve. After class, we headed into central London to eat at an amazing Thai restaurant. This food was fantastic! And what's better than family, friends and good food? Not really anything.

Then Tuesday was an entire day with them. They had heard of a Jewish history museum in London and wanted to check it out. So we got on the tube and headed north. The museum was in Camden Town (or at least that was the name of the tube stop). It started out with the early history of European Jews before the holocaust, eventually leading into the holocaust. But instead of a giant holocaust exhibit, they had a small one focused on one mans journey through the holocaust. I have to say, it was incredibly moving to see and hear his story. It really makes it real (though, I'm not sure it topped the Holocaust Museum in Israel). We spent a little over 2 hours there, had some tea in the cafe, and then headed back towards the hotel. We were getting pretty hungry so we decided to have a late lunch as opposed to the early dinner we had planned before our show. Again, another fantastic restaurant. The portions weren't huge, but the flavor was fantastic. We enjoyed our meal and then headed back to the hotel to take naps (since the show we were going to see that night was really long). Then we headed to the tube to go get our tickets from will call. We had some time to kill before the show, so we went in and got a drink at a nearby pub. So the show, we saw a musical called "Blood Brothers". It reminded me a lot of "Bat Boy" in a weird way. The 2nd act was a little better than the 1st. Was it my favorite? No. But it was still a good show that was very funny. And again, with the parents...in London...I can't complain.

After the show, we headed back on the tube towards their hotel. I couldn't stay because I didn't want to risk missing my train back to my flat, so we had to say goodbye in the underground station. It was probably better to have it be like that, because I wouldn't have wanted to leave since I'd only spent the equivalent of two days with them. But I said my goodbyes, got on my train and headed back.

Getting to spend time with my parents while I'm here was so nice. It was timed perfectly, having been gone a little more than a month and starting to miss home a bit. But the one thing that really keeps hitting me is how lucky I am to be here. How lucky I am to have the opportunity to study in another country for 3 months AND get to travel to other parts of the world while I'm here.

So this is just the beginning of the thank you's that I'll be giving my parents...but thank you Mom and Dad. Without you, I wouldn't be able to be having this amazing experience.

I have 47 more days left here...lets make the most of it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So many pictures

So, I took about 1,099 pictures during my time in Paris. I will try and pick a select few to put on here...but everyone will either need to look on facebook at the 256 or so that I picked for there or wait to see me when I get back and have made my photo album.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Day in Paris

So my last day in Paris...

Chris and I started our day by having a little breakfast in Paris. We then met up with the Italy group at the Louvre. After taking tons of pictures (because that's what we love to do) we headed north toward Montmartre, the highest point in Paris where we saw Sacre Coeur. Now, I thought Notre Dame was beautiful, but this place....literally took your breath away. The ceilings were so incredibly high. Some of the domes were painted very intricately...but the whole place was just....something out of a dream. At the end we all sat down and just looked up. After that, we made our way back to the steps, sat down, looked at the view, and listened to a guy play guitar and sing for at least an hour. He was singing a lot of popular songs and was really great with the crowd. It was truly magical sitting there. (I have some videos that I'll post when I get back to London).

After that we got some dinner and then headed to the Moulin Rouge for a quick photo. Then back to the Arc de Triumph and finally a walk down Avenue Des Champs Elysees, the main street in Paris.

As we said goodbye to our Italy friends, I started to really understand what Paris does. You loose time in this city. Whether you are with friends, your significant other...whoever...you just have a good time. I will really miss this city. I will never forget this incredible trip. I know that someday I will be back. But for now, it's time to say goodbye, head to the airport and get on my flight back to London.

Au revoir à Paris!


Second Day in Paris

Here we are at day two...

If I haven't said it enough already, Paris is amazing. There's just something about it that is great.

So the girls in our group were leaving, they had a 6pm flight. So Chris and I spent the early afternoon with them having lunch and just sitting in a small park. Once we sent them off to the airport, Chris and I headed to Notre Dame. Once again, another thing that did not disappoint. I mean, just looking at the size of it. But of course, looking at the outside was nothing compared to the inside. There was something special about it because when I walked in, I was almost brought to tears. This place was so beautiful. All of the stained glass coloring the walls. Plus they had music playing lightly in the background. Chris and I loved it there. But, time is precious and we wanted to see Versailles.

So after a 30 min train ride, we arrived at Versailles. Once again....GIGANTIC. The actual palace was cool. But what we really wanted to see were the gardens. They went on and on, filled with fountains, mazes, ponds, flowers, trimmed shrubs...I could not believe that anyone ever actually lived there. I mean, seriously...who needs that much space? If I lived there, I would get lost in my own house. We didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted to in the gardens because we were going to go and meet up with our friends from italy and the other school in london. So we took our last pictures and headed back to the Eiffel Tower.

The tower was still amazing to look at. I don't think we will ever get tired of it. We met up with our friends and then sat down to have another picnic, wine and all. Again, sitting under the Eiffel Tower, with your friends, eating and drinking while the tower sparkles...there's nothing better. I think that's the experience that I am going to miss the most from Paris. (But we are probably going to do that one last time tomorrow night)

Now it's time for one last day in Paris. It's hard to believe it's only day 3 because we have done so much. But I can't wait to see more of Paris.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

First DAY in Paris

So my first day in Paris.

Around 12pm, we got on the RER and headed in. Once we got there, we walked around to try and find something to eat. Grabbed something, and then headed to the Louvre. It was really cool seeing the giant glass pyramid in real life. We then got online and headed below the pyramid to get our tickets. European students get free admission, and since we have our student ID cards from Goldsmiths, we got in for free! Of course, we went right to see the Mona Lisa. It was so crowded around that area. It was no where NEAR as big as I imagined it being. It was a normal sized painting...that didn't look that special at all. Still it was pretty cool to see it.

After the Louvre, we headed toward the Arc de Triomphe. It was a pretty decent walk from the Louvre to the Arc, but majority of it was through a park so that was nice. The arc was another really cool thing to see. Mostly, you revel at its size. After getting our pictures and taking a short break sitting down, we headed to the big center piece, the Eiffel Tower.

Now let me tell you, the Eiffel Tower did NOT disappoint. Not one bit. We all took TONS of pictures of the tower. I mean, the structure of it is just incredible. The whole thing.....just.....we were speechless. We walked around both sides of it, under it, looked at it from every angle. Then, since we were hungry, we went and picked up a few baguettes, some cheese and some wine and headed back to the grass area in front of the tower. We sat down and had a picnic with the tower in the background. After all of that walking, it was so nice to sit. And with the tower as your background....just the most incredible thing ever.

After we finished eating and drinking, we decided it was time to climb this thing. So as dusk began to set in, we made our way back towards the tower. We decided it would be more exciting to take the stairs to the 2nd level as opposed to the elevator. Though it was exhausting, it was definitely a good decision. When you climb the stairs, you really get to see the structure of the tower, and you get to really feel how high up you are going. Though, you don't always want to look down. We were climbing the stairs as the sun was setting...and of course I got some good pictures. 1st level is where all the restaurants are. Plus a big wrap around viewing area. The 2nd level was even cooler...because we were even higher. While we were there, we got to see the tower sparkle. After dark, every hour on the hour the tower sparkles for 5 mins. It was really cool seeing it while on the tower. Not just seeing the tower, but seeing how it lights up the area around it. Then, it was time to go to the top. No stairs for this part. So we got on the elevator and rode it to the top. We got there, looked out the window, and were AMAZED by the view. You see everything. They even have signs around the top to tell you which countries you are facing on different sides of the tower (and how far away they are). I just couldn't get over how high up we were. After taking our final pictures, we headed back down. This time, we took the elevator all the way. They are nice enough not to check tickets going down (so the people who paid for the stairs don't have to walk back down the way they came up). After we got back down to the ground, we walked away from the tower and sat down so we could see it sparkle one last time. It was unreal to be seeing this place in person. It sparkled, the show stopped, and then we headed back to our hotel.

This first day was amazing. Lets hope the rest of the trip is as good as this.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

First night in PARIS!


(this was typed up last night, but posted this morning because I couldn’t get to wifi last night…)

So right after my class, I hopped on a train to the airport with my friend Chris. This airport was weird. They didn’t announce your gate until about 30mins before the flight and when you go the gate, it’s just a wide hallway with gate numbers…no lounges. There’s just one big one. So once we got our gate number, we rushed to the gate because we wanted to get good seats (no seat assignments on easyjet). We did get good seats…for the 1hr flight. We had barley got into the air by the time we started decending….it was ridiculous. We got lucky though; we were descending at the time when the eiffle tower does it’s light show (every hour on the hour). So that was pretty cool. Once we landed, we went through “customs”. I say it like that because we didn’t need to fill out a form, they looked at my passport and gave it back to me…no stamp….nothing. Weirdest customs experience ever. Chris and I then made our way to the RER (which I think is like the tube for France…I don’t know). Of course, everything is in French, so even though we looked up how to get there before we left, we were still confused. Luckily there was an English speaking person at the information booth. We purchased our tickets and then we were off.

We got to our stop and met up with our friends who were already here. Chris and I checked in and went upstairs. Chris is sharing a room with the friends who were here, I have my own. The room is ok. I mean, it’s a hostel. It might be slightly nicer than a hostel…but I don’t really know. It’s a place to sleep. But it’s certainly not the Ritz. We all went downstairs to try and use the wifi in the lobby, but of course, we couldn’t get it to work and the guy at the desk didn’t really want to help us. So we are just going to try and get to an internet café or something…I don’t know. We shall see.

If there’s one piece of advice I have it’s this…when you are going to a city you have never been to before, ESPECIALLY if you don’t speak the language…make sure you get there during the day, not at night like we did. I bet that everything would have been soooo much easier had we gotten here during the day. (You don’t have to worry about anything being closed).

Tomorrow is supposed to be a day of traveling around Paris. Seeing all the things we should be seeing. So I’m going to go to bed. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

cooking!

thought i would show a few pictures of me cooking. nothing fancy. Pasta with chicken and tomato sauce. I was proud of it....mostly because it tasted good.




Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stonehenge and Bath

First of all, woke up at 6am. Showered, and got on the overground to the underground (tube) to meet the bus (or coach as they call it here) at a tube station at 8:15am. We had about a 1.5hr drive to Stonehenge. As we were leaving london, our tour guide gave us a bunch of random facts about the area's we were driving through. Eventually, she let us all go to sleep since she knew we were all very tired.

So everyone thinks that Stonehenge is just a bunch of rocks.....it's much more than that. First of all....HOW DID THEY DO THAT!?!?!??!?!? The rocks are HUGE!!! At first glance, you are just overtaken by amazement that they were able to construct it. It really is beautiful to look at. The texture on the rocks, the way the light hits it. Ughhh it was awesome. Also trying to figure out why they built it in the first place....probably a sun temple....


After another 1.5hr drive (about), we were in Bath. First, I need to talk about the views on the way in. Unfortunately I wasn't sitting near a window so I wasn't able to get any pictures, but just looking at the town as we winded down the road was INCREDIBLE! We started in Bath Abby, which for some reason made me feel as if I was in Italy. Maybe it was the fact that we were right near the Roman Baths (which I did get to go in and see as it was part of the tour price). But that small town feel just overtook you as you walked in. The colors of the buildings, the architecture in general...it was all beautiful. Once we got there, myself and a few others who I met on the bust went to get some lunch. I had delicious tea and cheese scones. After that, we all walked around for a little. I went in to look at Bath Abby, the big cathedral. The architecture was beautiful. The ceilings were gorgeous. The colors....everything. After taking plenty of pictures, I moved back outside and walked around the area and looked into a few stores and at some displays street vendors had up. I then met up with the tour guide for an architecture tour of Bath. She took us to all the little nooks and crannies in the area we were in. She showed us houses and explained how people lived many years ago in them. It was really cool to see the architecture, but the coolest moment was when we came upon this large green in the middle of the city. I was in a lot of shock, because you don't usually see a large green area in front of housing in a city...but I guess that's what makes Bath, Bath.

After that, we headed into the Roman Baths. I have to admit, I was pretty tired at this point as it was about 4:30pm and I had been up since 6pm on my feet looking at everything I could see...BUT nevertheless, the Baths were cool. The fact that I was walking where people used to walk so many years ago (and yes, we do that in many places....but this was preserved) was really cool. It was interesting to see how the springs worked as well as how the water flowed throughout the baths. There was a museum, but our guide said to move through the museum and see the baths...because that was the cool part. The complex was large with many parts to it. Some of the Baths even had water in them which was cool.

After the Baths, we headed back to the bus to begin our journey back to london. It was a long bus ride, but I slept for a good portion of the trip. Once we got back to london, I pretty much crashed. But overall, I would say it was a fantastic day. Only regret...I wish I could have spent more time in Bath.


Here are a few pictures from my day from my point and shoot (I'm saving the good ones from my DSLR for my final album that I'll make and show people):





 Bath Abby
 The Roman Baths

 The Green Area I was Talking About

The Sunset as we were driving home....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Post Coming Soon....

Hey everyone. So I woke up at 6am this morning to go to stonehenge and bath. It was amazing, and I'm going to write about it and post pictures but right now I need to go to bed. So tomorrow this post will be replaced with a proper one.

Thanks!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Music and Theatre

So this post is going to talk about my first live music and live theatre experiences during this trip in london.

First, I will start off by saying I got to skype with my parents earlier today which was very nice. (Enjoy the shout out mom and dad?)

But last night I got to see a musician by the name of Ben Howard perform at a record shop in east london. He was fantastic. It was SO cool to see an up and coming musician starting his career. He was surprised by the amount of people who came out to hear him play. And I was surprised when almost all of those people left before the main band started. It's cool when the opening band attracts a bigger crowd sometimes.

The next day (Wednesday) I had my second class called London Theatre. The class is 1.5hrs and sparks a discussion about theatre and what it means to us and how it affects us. Every week we go to see a show at night and then talk about it the following week. So basically, I get to see 10 shows without paying anything extra. Tonight we saw our first show which was called Decade.

Decade was focused around 9/11. It was a brand new piece that started from the one year anniversary and had scattered stories throughout going back in time. The first thing that we all wondered was, "Is it too soon to have a piece like this?" We all varied our opinions. It was however 3 hours long, which I didn't love. The piece had a small cast and used music, movement, lighting and a very specific setting to present the story. The setting was the restaurant at the top of the world trade center. It even had views on two sides of what it looked like from the top. That was kind of eery. I thought the piece was well put together and was not too offensive. I'm not sure if it could make it in the US. I don't think that people would be ready for it there. After the show, there was a talkback session with the director and a few members of the cast. It was interesting to hear how it was put together. There were tons of writers from the US and the UK which I think is partly why it was so interesting, because there wasn't simply one writer. I'm not going to go into too much detail about the show, since I have to write a journal entry about it for class....so I'm going to save most of my opinions for that. But, it was a very interesting piece to see.

I was talking to my friend Steve just a few minutes ago about how the idea that we are going to be away from home for so long is starting to really set in. What's nice is that I'm with people who I can spend a good deal of time with before I get too sick of them. And if I do, I can hop on the tube and visit the people at Queen Mary and be fine. Still, it's going to be very hard leaving this place....and it's only week two....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Classes Begin...

Monday. I had my first class. Despite the fact that my 2 friends and I couldn't find the room where the class was until 5 minutes before it started, it went ok. The class was Culture and Performance. Everyone in the class met in a lecture hall for a 1 hour lecture. After that, there was a 30min break followed by 1.5hour seminars in smaller groups. The lecture and seminar were both interesting, though it was weird being in a room where you are the only American. The class reminded me a lot of Muhlenberg with it's style and structure. 

The professor (or tutor as they are called here) was very nice. At the end of the seminar, he called me up to introduce himself to me and asked me how I liked the first class. It seems like the tutors really like having the international students here because they can offer a totally different opinion, especially in a class focused around culture. The tutor told me he was going to make more US references to help pull me into the conversation a bit more. I also found out that the paper I need to write is much shorter than I originally thought, since I'm an international student and wont have as much time to write it as everyone else. 

I've only been here a week, and I feel like I've been here for a month somehow. It's still weird not being home and not seeing all the people I know, but I'm getting used to it. The first week made it seem like we were all on a great vacation, which is kind of what it was, but now I am truly realizing that this is going to be home for the next few months. 

I booked my first day trip today to go and see Stonehenge. I've heard mixed things, but I just feel like it's something you can't miss. A lot of my friends aren't going because they don't think it's worth it. But I'm tired of just sitting around talking about doing things...I want to start DOING them. So hopefully this will be the start of a lot of amazing journeys. 

74 more days.....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week One...

Week 1 is done. It's hard to believe I've been here for only a week.

Today I went food shopping and cooked dinner with my friend Tom. We made pasta with Chicken Parm. We were impressed with ourselves. Haha.

Tomorrow is my first class at 2pm. Wish me luck!

75 more days to go......

Saturday, October 1, 2011

End of the First Week....

It's hard to believe that I've already been here for a week. Actually, a week ago today I was sitting in the airport waiting to board my flight. That's weird....

I'm loving London. I feel like I've been here for a while. Well...maybe....sort of. This first week has felt like a vacation for most of us. Exploring during the day, going to pubs at night...that sort of thing. But it's been good because we are getting to know people and getting used to being here. We have one more day until we start classes. I'm interested to see what classes are like here.

Tonight I went up to Queen Mary and saw my friends from there. It was fun getting to spend some time without the people I see every day. They showed me around their campus, we went for a drink, and then I headed home. The tube stops running a little after midnight for some reason. So if I missed it, I would have to take the bus system back....which is really confusing. Too many transfers. This city, unlike New York, sleeps (I couldn't help but make that reference).

Lazy Friday

Friday was a pretty lazy day. A lot of us spent it napping and doing a whole lot of nothing. For me, I slept a bunch, talked with some friends, had some lunch....relaxing. The exciting part was getting to see our friends from Queen Mary! They decided to come down to us and hang out for a few hours. It was really great to see them and catch up on their trip here. It was also cool to see even more people I know in London. I still can't believe it's been almost a week.....

Friday, September 30, 2011

Orientation and Exploring Central London

I'm going to start combining some days when I forget to write or don't have a lot to write about...

So Tuesday. I would start off my Tuesday the same as Monday, with at 9am meeting. This time it was to meet the music department people and hear about how things are run there. We also got the timetables for music classes, however my class is split up into two different sections, so I need to wait and see which section I'm in. After that, I came back to my room and finished unpacking and putting things away. I had a lot of time to kill until my 4pm meeting for the theatre department. Same thing there as the music department. We got the timetables and information about our classes. Tuesday night was the same as any, everyone met up at the local pub and had a good time. 

Wednesday was the first day that I went in to central London on this trip. My friends and I decided we just wanted to walk around by parliament and whatnot so we hopped on the overground to the tube and headed to Westminster. Right as we walk out of the tube station, we see parliament along with big ben (well the tower that has big ben...cause really it's a bell....that you can't see....you can only hear it). That's when it really hit me that I was back in London again. My friends and I ended up walking in to St. James Park which runs alongside the Mall. It was a beautiful day in London and the park was FILLED with people sitting on lounge chairs, feeding the birds and ducks. It was not what you would expect out of typical London weather. Oh yeah, it hasn't rained ONCE since I've been here.....it has been SO WARM!

Thursday was another central London exploring day. Thursday a few friends and I went to see the London Aquarium. For all the hype that I've heard about it, it was ok. Don't get me wrong it was a good aquarium, but it felt like we kept seeing the same tank over and over from different levels. Although, I will say, the penguins were particularly cute. 




After that we debated going on the London eye, but decided against it. We wanted to wait. Instead, we decided to go to a pub and grab some dinner. But, not before we walked by Buckingham Palace. My friend Tom has family here in London. His cousin works at the pub we went to and his uncle was there too. We all had a fantastic time. 

PICTURES!!!




















Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Day and Night Two


So day two. Woke up at 8am. Got ready and met up with my friends at 8:45am and went to our first meeting during orientation week at 9am. It was a three hour meeting where they gave us tons of information about basically everything. After that, we made our way back to our dorms and then headed to lunch. We ate at a great Panini place. Then we all headed to lewishem to go shopping for things like bedding, phones and other things. First thing I took care of was getting my blackberry working which I finally did at Orange Mobile. Then we went to Argos to get sheets and towels. Argos is really interesting in the way it works. You go in, walk up to a catalogue and look through to pick out what you want. Once you’ve picked it out, you write it down and go to the register to pay. Then you take your receipt and wait for your number to be called when your stuff is ready. It’s kinda cool, but it was hard to find exactly what I wanted. After that, we came back to our flats and then went grocery shopping just so we could all have some snacks and what not. And then dinner and fun times at night. Overall it was a great day, but tomorrow will be even better.  

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Flight And The First Night

So the flight. Arrived at JFK airport. Made it through check-in and security in record time. Sat at the gate for 3 hours. But, I did manage to get my guitar on the plane. The flight attendants stowed it in one of the coat closets. So that was nice. The flight was long, as expected. But we got in on time and it was a pretty smooth flight.

So we arrive in london. Immigration was a bit confusing, because we didn't realize that there was a separate line for student visitors. Once we figured that out, we got our bags and headed out to the arrivals hall where we meet the person from Goldsmiths who was there to get us to our bus. Here's a picture of the trolly with all my bags and some of my friends in the arrivals hall of Heathrow:






After a little bit of waiting, we made our way outside to the bus, got our luggage on, boarded the bus, and I was out. I didn't get a lot of sleep on the plane so I took this opportunity to sleep.

When we arrived at Goldsmiths, my reaction was "I can't believe we are actually here". We went in a grabbed our keys and swipe cards and made our way to our flats. My flat was only one flight up which was nice. I have a single room with my own bathroom. It's pretty nice to have my own space. I don't really have anything to make it my own yet, but I'm sure with a few touches it will be good. My friends and I spent the day unpacking and exploring. I took the time to get my internet up and running which was not an easy task.

Later, I started to meet up with most of my friends, and we all went out to a thai restaurant for dinner. The food was really good and we all had a good time. After that, we headed to the local pub, The Hobgoblin. It's right around the corner from my flat. Everyone gathers there all the time. So me and my friends sat around and toasted to the next three months.

It's going to take a lot of getting used to being here in London. There are a lot of differences, but we are all helping each other out with bits and pieces of everything. I think it's going to take another day or two until I feel totally comfortable.

Time to go to bed since I have my first meeting at 9:00am!

Oh, and even though I've been to London twice, I still can never get over the fact that they drive on the other side of the road.....

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Visiting Berg...

So, it's really weird to be at Muhlenberg without having a room with a bed and all. It's weird sitting doing nothing while everyone goes to classes and starts having work. And now as most abroad people are leaving and getting ready to start their amazing semesters abroad, I'm starting to get excited about my own as I realize that it's actually happening.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Welcome!

Welcome to my blog for my semester abroad. I'm going to use this to record and share my experiences with friends and family. Enjoy!