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London, You Are Missed.

Time May 2nd, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

A little over two weeks ago, I left England. At first, I was excited to leave to go home and see my family: I have a really good summer plan and I was looking forward to starting it! My first week back was amazing seeing my family, especially my little brother who is much bigger than when I last saw him. Coming back to America was easy; the weather here is much warmer than in Europe and I picked up driving again like I hadn’t stopped for four months. Read More »

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Day Trip to Hever, England.

Time April 12th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

To start off my weekend, I went to the city of Hever near for a few hours! I decided to go, because there is Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn. It was only a forty minute train ride from the London Bridge train station with plenty of countryside views to offer. When I got to the Hever train station, I had planned on taking a taxi to the castle, but I didn’t anticipate how small the town was without a taxi (or any cars really) in sight! Luckily, there was a map with a trail of how to get to the castle so I set off on foot.

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Mind you, there was no direct path and the footpath ended up having me strolling through people’s backyards and running into pastures of sheep. It was actually amazing, I felt like Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennett in the 2005 version of Pride and Prejudice: walking around and owning the countryside. But, I did wish I wore better shoes as my shoes are still caked in mud. It was only a half hour walk to the castle, including the times of me trying to make sure I wasn’t lost. Read More »

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My 20th Birthday in London

Time April 12th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

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My 20th birthday in London was absolutely fantastic and I have my housemates to thank for that. On my birthday, I worked an early shift until 3:30PM at my internship which was a lot of fun since six of us basically just worked on a huge puzzle. Afterwards, the weather was so nice I decided to go for a run and booked it for half an hour. Read More »

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Easter Break in Italy

Time March 29th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

For Easter break three of my housemates (Kat, Lucy, and Maggie) and I decided to tackle Italy and do as much as possible in the 5 days we had together for our Easter break. Our flight from London was to Milan and from there the plan was to take trains from Milan to Venice, Cinque Terre, Rome, and Naples. We ended up even adding Pisa to our list of stops due to some train troubles as well!

Tuesday/Wednesday

We didn’t do anything in Milan, but it was a good central point to travel in and out of. Kat and I got into Milan on Tuesday night where we met up with our Airbnb host Pierda, who was the absolute nicest women I ever met. She taught us some phrases in Italian to help us out and walked us to a restaurant to eat at that had menus in English. The next morning Kat and I took a train to Venice where it was easy to walk everywhere. The town was like nothing I’ve ever seen before: it was a city with no roads, but an intricate system of canals connecting the city. Truly a town built on water. Venice also had the Basilica of Saint Mark’s that had the remains of Saint Mark too which was really cool. Luckily in Venice we ran into Lucy and Maggie so we were able to hang out with them! Lots of walking around and exploring. I’m happy I went to Venice, but I’ll probably never go back nor will I suggest anyone else go… Haha. It was a pretty run down city and basically a giant tourist trap. The bridges, canals, and walkways throughout the town were really neat! But, Amsterdam was pretty similar with the canals as well and I thought it had much more to offer than Venice did. Again, Venice was a giant tourist trap. Then we hopped a train to Milan and stayed another night!

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Pictures from January-February

Time February 26th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | 1 Comment by

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Harry Potter and Oxford Day Tour

Time February 26th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

Warning, do not read this post if you don’t like Harry Potter, because then you will think it’s incredibly dorky. A couple weeks ago me and some of my housemates went on a day tour to the Warner Bros. Studios and to Oxford University to see locations from the films. It was fantastic! The Studios had sets, costumes, props, and production design from the films themselves. It was an incredible experience. My housemates and I honestly watch a different Harry Potter film each week and it is so cool to watch the movies, knowing I’ve seen some of the sets and props for them in real life. And Oxford itself was amazing, simply because it is a great town with history oozing out of it.

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White Cliffs of Dover

Time February 26th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

This past weekend I went on a trip by myself to Dover in southwest England! I just really wanted to go somewhere by myself for some reason, to figure everything out all by myself, and luckily everything went really well for the most part.

After class on Friday I took a train from London all the way to Dover that took only about two hours. When I got there, I saw Dover Castle on the mountainside and decided to climb up to it. It was a little too expensive for me to get in, so I just decided to walk to the beach instead. From the beach I saw the White Cliffs and then walked to the Cliffs and hiked around for about an hour. The Cliffs were beautiful! All I really wanted to see on this trip was the countryside and the Cliffs gave that to me; I was also able to see straight across the English Channel to France, which was insanely cool. When it started getting dark I worked my way back to checking into my hostel for the weekend. The room I had was called ‘The Six Beds of King Henry VIII’ and everyone I shared the room with was really nice!

On Saturday I rented a bike and got directions from the owner on how to get to Deal. The ride was beautiful, the weather was beautiful. Nothing but countryside and spectacular views! I was almost to Deal when BOOM. Flat tire. I walked the bike to a local car shop and they tried to help me pump up the tire, but the tire had a hole in it. So, I started the eight mile trek back to Dover. It only took me about two hours! But the rolling hills, pushing a bike, and rain did put a damper on things. When I got back to the bike rental place I explained the situation to the owner who was really nice about it and didn’t make me pay for a new tire, even though I offered! It was probably because I looked miserable from the rain in all honestly. Had dinner in town and spent a relaxed evening reading, which I felt I deserved.

Sunday morning I went on one last walk to the beach, had my first traditional English breakfast, and hopped on the train back to London!

All in all, even with the bike mishap, it was a great weekend. I didn’t even realize how much I needed a break from big city life of London! I wasn’t constantly in a crowd of people walking quickly to get anywhere in particular, the city was small enough to where I didn’t need to GPS my way around, and I was actually able to take in a full breath of air without having to worry about breathing in the smoke from someone’s cigarette. . London is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But, I do miss my home in the Northwest, as well as all the outdoorsy activities it offers. Luckily, Dover offered me some of the hiking I’ve been missing out on!

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Weekend in Brussels Pictures

Time February 25th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

Pictures from my weekend in Brussels!

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Classic Belgian Waffle

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A Week in My Life

Time February 16th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

Last week was a good week! Here’s what I did:

Monday: Went to Saint Paul’s Cathedral for British Art and Architecture class. Climbed all the way to the top which offered a beautiful view of the city. Then for Easter break, some of my housemates and I decided to go to Italy for spring break!

Tuesday: Worked the early shift at my internship.

Wednesday: Worked another early shift at my internship. Decided I’m going to go to Glasgow for a Macklemore and Ryan Lewis concert. He doesn’t tour in London until after I leave London, and Glasgow only cost me 26 pounds ($39) roundtrip to fly there!

Thursday: Went to a play at the Shakespeare’s Globe for my Shakespeare in London class. We saw The Winter’s Tale, which was really good. We were in the Sam Wanamaker Theatre, which was constructed to be just a theater back in Shakespeare’s day would have been. Standing room and it was lit only by candlelight. That night most of the house decided to the Camden Pub Crawl and I made a lot of friends that night!

Friday: Movie night in with the housemates.

Saturday: Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour and Oxford tour. Absolutely amazing! The Studio had props from the movies and basically showed how it was filmed. I was in heaven as I am a huge Harry Potter fan. The tour group also took us to Oxford where we were able to see filming locations. We also ate a restaurant where Tolkien was known to have been a regular! That night, came back to have a game night in with the housemates.

Sunday: I went on the train to Hampton Court Palace, which is 500 years old. All of the royalty used to live there back in the day, including King Henry VIII. Needless to say, as a history nerd, I was in heaven.

 

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Brussels Weekend Trip

Time February 3rd, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

Early Saturday morning seven of us started the trek to Brussels! We were off to a good start when we almost missed our shuttle van to the airport. I literally had to sprint to the van as it was driving away and hit it to make it stop! Go me. Luckily it did stop, otherwise it would have been chaos of us trying to get to the airport. My first hostel experience was in Brussels, which probably set my expectations a little too high. We stayed at a European hostel chain called Meinenger that had its own private bar and the scene was mostly young, adult travelers like our own group was. First off we went to the city center, where the ‘main’ beautiful buildings were. From there, we walked around eating all sorts of food that were terrible for us, including: Belgian waffles with vanilla ice cream and frites (thick, really good fries) with the best mayonnaise I have ever had in my life. It was pretty cold! But we found warmth in a well-known pub called Delerius, which is about thirty stories and has hundreds on different kinds of beer on tap. We hung out there for about 3 hours! We got back to the hotel and 4 of us hung out in the hostel bar. There, we met a group of guys from Ireland who were visiting Brussels for the weekend just like us! Even though it was midnight, they convinced us to go back out. (No worries, we could have taken them easily if need be). We all went to an Irish bar where there was a dance club upstairs and karaoke downstairs. The place was fun enough to keep us busy for four hours. Early the next morning we met up with a tour group where we got to have a better explanation of some of the better parts in the city, and got to see the world famous statue of the little boy peeing called Le Mannekin Pis! Then another round of Belgian waffles and frites to call it good before we left to go back to London. Brussels was beautiful and while it wasn’t on my list of top places to go, I couldn’t be more grateful that I went. Brussels is a truly beautiful city. It was an eye opening experience to go to a country where English wasn’t one of the main languages, I had really never felt so at a loss. Luckily, enough people did speak English when we had to ask for help!

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Daytrip to Amsterdam

Time January 15th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

So to quickly summarize all the drama with my UK Visa, I didn’t have my original passport back in time for me to leave the country. I had to go to Seattle and beg my way to a secondary passport so that I could leave the country on time and not be late for my program in London. The government took sympathy on me and I left the country on a secondary passport. My original passport showed up a few days later and my mom sent it to me in England, but in order for me to begin my internship legally with the UK Visa, I needed to leave the country and enter again on my original passport. So a spontaneous daytrip to Amsterdam (literally bought the tickets the night before we left) was planned and luckily my housemate Meg was willing to go with me! Amsterdam was only a 45 minute flight from London and we squeezed in quite a bit into a day. We took a hop-on-hop-off Canal City Sightseeing Tour throughout the city which had to be one of the best ways to get around. I thought that the city would have only one canal going through it, but it was really amazing how the canals ran thru the city almost like roads. The city was beautiful with all of its historical buildings. Everyone rode around on bikes! I had never seen so many bikes in my life. We also tried going to the Anne Frank House as well as the Van Gogh Museum, but they were both crazy busy.

We were able to make a visit to the Red Light District, which was… interesting. Prostitution and drugs are both legal in Amsterdam. I lost track of how many ‘cafes’ I passed that sold drugs legally. The Red Light District is an entire district where prostitution is rampant. We passed by blocks of women in windows trying to sell themselves off to those that passed by, which was definitely an eye-opener to say the very least. We also went to the Museum of Prostitution (because when else would we ever go?), which wasn’t scary like I thought it would be and I actually learned a lot about the lives of the women who worked in Amsterdam. It started getting dark out, which was probably a really good thing that we were leaving, since a guy DID ask us if we were looking for any loving.

 

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Finally settling in the first two weeks!

Time January 15th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

So I have officially been in London for two weeks at this point and I’m doing just fine actually! I’m getting the hang of public transportation and getting used to the idea of being a minority with my American accent. When I arrived at my housing residence I took a power nap and woke up to meet my two roommates, Cat and Michaela. I’m living in a flat (basically a house with a bunch of stairs) at Pembridge Gardens in the Notting Hill neighborhood (yes, like the movie with Julia Roberts, AND Stella McCartney lives two doors down!) in London with about 30 other people. The weekend I got here was a combination of meeting my new housemates, orientation and fighting major jet lag. Luckily, a funny play in the West End was fit into the schedule as well.

That Monday we started classes and I had my first British Art and Architecture class, which was a bit rough as I was still fighting jet lag.

I had the next two days off in a row because I was supposed to be working at my internship those days, but there was a problem with my visa so I couldn’t start for another week. So, instead that Tuesday I accomplished a life goal of visiting the Tower of London, where the historical nerd in me finally got to see all the places that I’ve grown up reading about. I saw the spot where Anne Boleyn had been beheaded, visited the grave of Lady Jane Grey, and got to see the room where the two princes of the tower were both kept prisoner and eventually murdered by their uncle, King Richard III. The Tower of London is just oozing with history, I could keep going on and on about all of the things that I learned. I am definitely planning on going on another visit to the Tower. Seeing the Crown Jewels was also a wonderful experience. That same day the tourist in me also saw the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, as well as Big Ben. I also rode a bus home without getting lost! Then on Wednesday, I spent a couple of hours walking. My flat is about a five minute walk from Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. The parks were so big I was only able to conquer about half of it with all of the walking that I did. But, in that time I was able to get a good view of Kensington Palace and saw the statue of Peter Pan.

Thursday, I had my first Shakespeare in London class, which I think will go quite well because the teacher kept going off on tangents on random things. Friday, I had my Community and Culture Class, where we basically had an intro to the course and talked about our own identities in a city of millions.

That first weekend I went to Amsterdam with my housemate Meg, which I’ll talk about in the next post.

The next week was getting into the routine of classes and work. My internship placement is at Collingham Family and Child Centre, which is a mental health facility for children between the ages of 6-13. My supervisor gave me a button to wear at all times that I needed to press in case any of the children attacked me, which really intimidated me, but in the two days I’ve worked there so far nothing that crazy has happened at all. All of the children seem great and I’m excited to get the hang of it! I’m still learning the routines of the children as well as their names. I’ve already found a boy in the facility who is more than willing to discuss Harry Potter facts with me, so I think I will be more than okay at my internship placement. A really important thing that I want to learn during the weeks at my internship is how to recognize the characteristics of the disorders that they have. This week for British Art and Architecture we went on a walking tour to see the work of architect Indigo Jones and for Shakespeare in London we discussed Romeo and Juliet (bleh), but next week we will be discussing Hamlet (yay!). In class though we did watch a young Alan Rickman play Tybalt, which was quite coincidental. I did look for possible tributes and memorials around the city for the British actor that I would have gone to, but I couldn’t find any. :/

I believe the plan for tonight, and most of the nights this weekend honestly, is simply to go out. London nightlife is great folks. I also think I joined a baseball/softball team where we play against other teams around England, the first practice tomorrow so wish me luck! And I think another thing on the agenda for this weekend is to go to Lumiere London, a huge light festival around London for the next few days. Next weekend is a trip to Brussels! :O

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Pre departure for London

Time January 5th, 2016 in 2016 Spring, College Study Abroad, England | No Comments by

Hello all and welcome to my blog. My name is Victoria, but I mostly go by Tori. I am currently a sophomore at Saint Martin’s University, which is about an hour south of Seattle in Washington State.

Going to England and studying abroad have been goals of mine and being able to combine the two has been greatly appreciated by my bank account. Ever since I was little I grew up reading books about the Tudor Family (Queen Elizabeth I, King Henry VIII, Bloody Mary, etc.) and now I finally get to see the places that I’ve been reading about my whole life. Movie premieres at Leicester Square in London, Harry Potter at Universal Studios, and Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace are also some of the things on my list to do that are pretty cool, I guess. I actually have a whole list of things to do while abroad that spans about 9 pages… No, I’m not excited and ready to take advantage of the next four months at all.

I will be in London from the beginning of January until the end of April. I am attending Birbeck, University of London (where Bear Grylls went to school!) with the Engage London program and will be sharing an off-campus apartment with other students in my program. I chose the Engage London program because it seemed to be a program that offered the most opportunities for study abroad students, including an Exploring Community and Culture class that seems like a great way to explore London. Further for my academics, I will also be taking Shakespeare in London, British Art and Architecture, and will be working in an internship at Collingham Child & Family Centre.

I’ve sent out dozens of e-mails with questions, filled out a ton of forms, and have had a lot of stepping up to the plate for myself these past couple of months in preparation. I even had to go to the Homeland Security office in Seattle at one point to get my fingerprints scanned for my Visa (which sounds intimidating, but honestly everyone there was very helpful and nice).

Wish me luck!

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