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Back in the States

Time January 26th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

On the flight home, I was really excited to see my family and to be home.  When I landed in America, my phone started exploding with texts and calls from family and friends who were excited for my arrival.  It was an amazing feeling to know that people were genuinely excited to see me, and that I had a functioning iPhone with a phonebook full of contacts.  Unlimited texting and data, and access to mobile facebook and email were also great things about touching down in the states.  My parents picked me up at the airport in Indianapolis at midnight and we made the 2.5-hour journey home.  The stars were breath taking; after being in London for so long, I had forgotten how beautiful they are.  We went to our house and I put my bags down in my room.  I looked around my room and actually felt like I lived in a department store.  Seeing the full closet of brands I was familiar with, and having more than three pair of pants… and it was all my size! The moment of looking around at the perfume bottles and dresser of makeup actually felt like a glimpse of Heaven.  After living off of one suitcase for three months, I finally understood how privileged I am.  My mom had put a Tiffany & Co. decorated Christmas tree in my room with presents underneath, and I got to open welcome home/pre-Christmas gifts.  It was great to by with my parents again; it literally took the entire winter break for my mom and I to catch up.

After the initial surge of happiness, I started to feel pretty sad about leaving my friends.  All of the kids who studied in London agreed that it was the best time of our lives and we have made closer friends there than we have at school or at home; as the days went on, we Skyped each other and texted, but it was not comparable to living next door.  After meeting the students who studied in London, there was a definite disconnect with my friends from home.  I was hopeful that we would pick up where we left off right away, but the transition was rougher than I had anticipated.  I matured a lot while I was away, and it was hard to get used to the lifestyle my friends live.

I have started my final semester at Butler, and it is definitely different than the U.K.   I had forgotten how demanding American University is, and have had a hard time adjusting to the workload.  The hardest part is transitioning back into the social sphere.  I have been away from school for a whole year, first to move to New Jersey for an internship, then to study in London.  I started to feel really isolated because I could not share my experiences, and my friends all had spent the past year together creating memories that I was not a part of.  I also really miss the freedom and activity that London provides.  We had the chance to explore whatever we wished, but the options are rather limited in Indianapolis.  I have the “travel bug” in hopes of seeing the world again as I did while abroad.  Some of the students from London and I have discussed a reunion, and some loose plans have been made. So far, the transition into this semester has been much more difficult than I anticipated, but I am viewing it as a time to cherish my friends and family and rekindle old friendships.  This is the time that will strengthen long-time friendships and will prepare me to begin a career in Rhode Island this summer.  Overall, I would not have changed a single thing about the study abroad experience. I am so blessed to have met wonderful people, traveled the world, and gained insight on different cultures; I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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Highlights of London

Time January 18th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by


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London is a bustling city that has many events going on everyday.  The website Timeout.com has a whole calendar of different happenings going on in different areas.  While in London we did many awesome things, so I decided to make a list of my top 10 favorite events.

Top 10 Favorite Events:

  1. Warehouse Party— We went to a concert that had seven different DJs, including Jaime XX.  The show was incredible- we got to the very front of the stage and were in many of the pictures from the show!
  2. Calvin Harris Concert—Calvin Harris came to London and we ventured all the way to zone 6 to see the show (we lived in zone 1). It took us about an hour to get there but the show was crazy!  People were packed so tightly into once space that we could hardly move.  The music and lights were great and it was great that our entire group went together.
  3. O’Neil’s in China town—O’Niel’s is a chain of Irish pubs.  One Thursday we went to the one in China town that had three floors and had two live bands.  They played songs like Blink 182 and the place was packed with dancers.
  4. Winter Wonderland—This was a theme park for all ages. My parents visited me while I was abroad and we went to Winter Wonderland together.  There were rides, foods from all different countries, games and live music.  They served mulled wine and beer which was very different than theme parks in the US.  There was even a Carousel Bar, made from a real carousel.
  5. Rugby and Soccer Games— We had the chance to go to an all-day soccer tournament and also a rugby match.  It was great to get a glimpse of British culture and see why people love the sports so much!
  6. Ice Bar—We went to the Ice Bar in London, which was made completely of ice!  We had to wear coats and gloves and could only stay in for 20 minutes, but it was so fun!
  7. Markets—London is known for having many different markets and we had the opportunity to visit a different market every weekend, including Brick Lane and Camden.
  8. Afternoon Tea at Harrods—Some of us enjoyed a nice cup of English tea with finger sandwiches and scones at Harrods.  The store was decorated for Christmas and there were giant teddy bears throughout.  A very English tradition!
  9. Sherlock Holmes Movie—The new Sherlock Holmes movie came out while were in London.  We lived on Baker Street, so it was awesome to see the movie on the street where it was set.
  10. Hampton Court Palace and Ice-Skating—Hampton Court Palace had a winter carnival.  We walked through the hedge maze, saw the amazing gardens and went ice-skating while we watched the sun set on the palace.

We did many other fun events besides those listed above, but those were the ones that my friends and I have the most lasting memories from.  London has something for everyone and it was awesome to experience a little bit from many different cultures.  Growing up in Indiana, I haven’t had exposure to much diversity but I love being surrounded by so many different walks of life!

 

 

 

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Thanksgiving in Morocco!

Time January 18th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After Halloween, we thought Thanksgiving might bring about homesickness for the Americans.  To avoid longing for our families, seven of us embarked on a four-day trip to Marrakesh, Morocco. The trip was with an organization called, Sun or Sand, which has many trips for students.

On Thanksgiving Thursday, we landed in Marrakesh and could not believe we had made it to Africa!  We went through customs and exchanged our pounds for durham, the local currency.  We rode a bus to our trip leader, Mohammad.  When we met Mohammad in the town square we went to a restaurant that served chicken targine and mint tea, both of which are Moroccan specialties. Cats are everywhere in Morocco, even in the restaurant where we ate.   We then walked around the town square, and saw the Koutoubia Mosque, which is the largest in Morocco.  There were very large speakers on the Mosque, and our leader said that Muslims are called to pray 5 times a day through chants over the loud speaker. Visitors were not allowed into the mosque, so we could only see the outside.  After that we went to the markets.  The markets were huge with brightly colored scarves and tassels.  There was thick tar-looking black soap that was at many of the shops, as well as, toy wooden snakes.  At the market, Snow or Sand bought us classic Moroccan hats and my friend Rani and I bought matching coats.  We shopped in the markets for a bit and heckled with the workers for lower prices.  It was very fun to see if you could get something for a lower price. Everything cost much less than in the US; at the time, one American dollar was seven durham.  To get an idea, a scarf at a market would be 200 durham (before heckling).  The market also had iguanas, which many of us held.  After the markets, we enjoyed a glass of orange juice from a restaurant.  There were many street vendors selling orange juice and sweets, but we were discouraged from eating street food because it could have made us sick.  Also, the water was not drinkable; we even had to brush our teeth with bottled water.  In the evening, we had a Moroccan feast!  We sat at a long table, and there were unlimited plates of traditional Moroccan foods, such as couscous and skewers of meat.  It was so appropriate since it was Thanksgiving!

Friday was a fun-filled day.  To start the day, we visited a place where African women make aragon oil.  This oil can be used for cooking or in soaps and beauty products.  We saw the process of getting the oil and bought some of the products.  Our tour guide bought us tangerines and bananas that were so delicious!  We then headed up a mountain, where we rode camels!  Next, we walked up a mountain, to eat with a local.   On our way up the mountain it started to hail on us.  We had an adrenaline rush from climbing the mountain and the hail made it a truly surreal experience.  We got to the top of the mountain, where there was a tiny village.  Our guide took us to a house of a local man who cooked us lunch.  We had couscous and targine and he taught us some African words and phrases.  The restroom in a traditional Moroccan house is simply a hole in the floor.  On the way down the mountain, we saw a shepherd with a heard of baby sheep!  The sheep were so cute; they looked like puppies!  We boarded the bus and traveled down the mountain.  The landscape was breathtaking.  When we arrived to the center of town, we went to our Riad, which had incredible architecture.  There were intricate carvings all over the ceilings and walls and beautiful tile in the bathroom.  There were five other girls on the Snow or Sand trip that stayed in our Riad, and all seven of my friends got to stay in the same room. There were enough beds for all of us, and in the evenings we spent time catching up on “girl talk”.  The seven of us really bonded over this trip; we spent every day with each other and never had any misunderstandings.

In the evening, we went to a shisha bar that was decorated in bright colors.  Our guide went with us, and insisted that we come home before 10:00pm, because after that it was not safe for us to be out.  We wanted snacks after and he took us to a Moroccan version of a convenience store.  The store was literally a glass window on the sidewalk that you had to peer through to see what was offered and request what you would like.  We walked back to our Riad for the night through the town square, which was alive for the night.  There were street vendors selling DVDs, sunglasses, sweets, glow sticks and any other trinkets you could think of.  The streets are  dirt and concrete and the city has many tiny allies; it looked exactly like a scene from Aladdin.  The traffic is ciaos; to cross the street, you have to go in a large group and start walking in the middle of traffic and hope no one hits you.  There are horse buggies and the streets reek of horse dropping and there are motorized bicycles everywhere.

On Saturday morning, we went to a museum that housed artifacts about local culture, such as handmade rugs and plates.  Then, we went to an herb store, where we learned about natural healing powers of different kinds of herbs and teas and had the opportunity to buy some of the products.  One girl bought so much stuff she literally had to have it shipped home in a new suitcase!  Next, we walked through the city to the Jardin Majorelles.  On our way to the gardens, we saw a stork in its nest perched on top of a building.  In the garden we saw many exotic cacti and flowers.  The gardens were beautiful and definitely one of the highlights of the trip!  We rode a horse and carriage back to the town square and had a classic lunch of couscous and dried fruit.

After lunch we met Mohammad at the town square for an opportunity to take a picture with monkeys and snakes.  We did that and then went back to our Riad and changed into our swimsuits for a hammam bath.  None of us knew exactly what a hammam bath was before going, so we weren’t sure what to expect.  We were soon to find out that it was one of the most awkward experiences of our life.  Basically, a hammam bath is a full-body scrub, where they use an exfoliating mitt and black soap to remove all of your body’s dead skin.  We each had to be exfoliated in front of each other, and to say the least… it was a bonding experience.  Although the hammam bath was both embarrassing and unsanitary, it made your skin feel wonderful afterwards!  We showered and began to get ready for our big night!  On Saturday night, we went to dinner and saw a traditional belly dancing show.  The dancers were awesome!

Sunday was the final day of our trip.  For breakfast we had Moroccan Mint Tea, which is poured into cups in streams of about two feet and sugared bread that was very similar to a pancake.  After breakfast, we visited the markets for a final chance to grab souvenirs, and then took a bus to the airport.

Morocco was my favorite place to visit the whole semester.   The customs were totally different than that of the US.  The countryside was beautiful and it was awesome to understand Moroccan lifestyles.  It help put into perspective how fortunate I am and how much opportunity is in the US.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life in London

Time January 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

One of the best parts about studying in London is the class structure.  The classes are once a week for about three hours.  The teachers do not take attendance and there is hardly any homework.  The majority of the course grade is based on one assignment and the final project/paper/exam. Since there is no homework, the classes seem much easier than in the US.  The University of Westminster had so many foreign exchange students, that I met more Americans and other nationalities studying abroad than Brits.  This was slightly disheartening, but living in the residential housing was great.  The housing allowed us to meet more British students, as did my internship.  Many nights the kids in the dorm would stay up way too late pulling pranks and getting to know more about each other.  The security at our dorm was very tight; guests were simply not allowed in without a pass.  While this level of security was sometimes burdensome, it also helped me feel really safe.  It was great to live in the heart of the city and know that your dorm is very protected.  The rooms in the dorm were great; we each had our own bathrooms!  The location was unbeatable—just a tube-stop away from anywhere!

My internship was absolutely awesome.  I had the opportunity to attend presentations by major companies like: Google, YouTube, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter, to name a few.  The people I worked with were great- all very young and happy to help interns.  We had work parties and happy hours after company meetings.  The people in the office often wore festive hats or played on the 6-foot iPad.  I also had the good fortune to walk home from work.  The streets were filled with fashionable shops, which I loved!  It was great to do retail therapy after classes and work.  London is a very fashionable city and the clothes are very pretty, but also very expensive compared to clothes in the US.

I got used to living with practically nothing (compared to my US wardrobe) and I never expected this—but I actually really liked having less choices.  It was so much easier to get dressed and I only packed outfits that worked, which made getting ready so much faster!  There is so much to do in London every night of the week. There are always student nights and student deals (which we needed, because London is Very Expensive!!).  It would be amazing to live in London for each year of University, but I think that the students probably learn more in the US.

There were more cultural differences than I expected.  For example, Americans write the date differently than the British, which was a pretty confusing adjustment at first.  Also, at times I felt like there was a language barrier.  In the beginning, I could hardly understand what the people at my internship were saying, but it got much easier with time.  So much so, that I forgot there was even an accent.  Although London is fast-paced, it seems to have a slower vibe than American cities like New York or Chicago and the work pace seemed to be much slower.  Drinking is more engrained in the British culture and is part of many regular activities.  Also, many of the exchange students gained weight while studying in London.  There was very limited access to a gym and fitness did not seem to be as high on the priority list for the British as Americans, although there seems to be less overweight people.  Sometimes it was difficult to know where to buy something.  For example, I wanted a water gun and had no idea where to buy it.  There are not big box stores like Wal-Mart or Target in London, mostly just small shops that carry a certain type of good.  The food got very boring, since we all were saving money most of our diets consisted of Tesco sandwiches, which sound great at first but after 90 days get pretty stale.

London has such an enticing buzz about it.  Literally all of the study abroad students who I met had the time of their lives and many of them are choosing to do graduate school abroad.  We had the opportunity to travel to any European country on the weekends and we learned so much about other cultures and how America fits into the global market.  This experience has been life-changing; I wish that I could have done it sooner in my undergraduate, because I would have tried to study abroad for more than one semester.  The people I met while abroad will be life-long contacts and hopefully, one day I will be back to London to work.  I was seriously thinking about returning to work in London after graduation in the spring, but the pay is a lot less than the US.  So much so, that it would be difficult to support myself when just starting out.  I have a two-year position in Rhode Island starting in July, but hope to travel to Europe again very soon.

 

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Adventure to Amsterdam

Time January 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Six of my closest friends and I decided to travel to Amsterdam for a long weekend.  We wanted to save money, so we took a bus from London to Amsterdam. We left on a Thursday night around 10:00 pm and hoped to sleep the whole 12-hour journey. Once we arrived at the Cliffs of Dover, the bus boarded a ferry and we were required to get off of the bus and hangout on the boat.  The boat ride was awesome, with duty-free stores and an open upper deck where we could watch the water below.  After the boat ride, we got back on the bus and continued on our way.

Around 10:00 am, we arrived in Amsterdam; it was chilly and quiet with an eerie haze that consumed the city.  Once we got off of the bus, we exchanged money in the train station and tried to figure out the public transportation system.  After a few failed attempts at understanding Dutch, we decided to stand by the tracks and hop on the first available train car.  Once we were on the train, we bought tickets for the ride and a local resident suggested the stop we needed for our hotel.  We booked one hotel room for seven people. Needless to say, we could not all go into the hotel at once, and attempted to hide our baggage.

Once we settled into our hotel, we decided to walk around town. The entire city is divided by canals, which made me lose my sense of direction.  Amsterdam is FULL of bikes!  Literally hundreds of bikes are parked on the sidewalks!  Since many people bike, the city is very quiet and there is much less road noise. We headed in the direction of the Red Light District, and picked up lunch at a bagel shop along the way.

After our bagel, we wanted dessert, so we ordered waffles from one of the many sidewalk stands.  The food in Amsterdam was wonderful!  The pastries were delicious, but there is also a chain of French-fry restaurants called Chipsy King, that serves French-fries in a wax-paper cone with any sauce you like right on top of the fries.  Also, we ate Kebabs that were by far the best we had in Europe.

After our waffles, we walked around the Red Light District during the day.  This was unlike anything I’ve ever experience.  The streets were empty and the neon signs were yet to be lit.  There were sex shops up and down the entire street.  Being in the Red Light District opened my eyes to an entirely new culture.  Prostitution and Marijuana are legal in Amsterdam, which gives the city a different feel than any others I have been to.  Prostitution is a major industry in Amsterdam, and the Red Light District is the hub of the profession.  Coming from a very structured background, seeing the relaxed regulations was shocking to me.  It is hard to imagine growing up in a world where the sex industry is a major player in the local economy.   The TV programs were also very lax compared to America’s, showing graphic music videos and commercials.

After the Red Light District, we walked to the center of town.  It was absolutely freezing, so the girls on the trip bought matching Amsterdam hats. Then we stopped at the famous wooden shoe for a photo op.

On Saturday, we ate at a very cute restaurant that served fresh juice and mint tea.  After lunch, we toured the Heineken brewery.  The tour took most of the day, and we ate at an American sports bar for dinner.  We went to the Red Light District in the evening, and the atmosphere was completely different than during the day.  There were herds of men on the sidewalks, and hardly any women.  The men would go behind the doors the prostitutes were standing in front of; the situation was repulsive to me. It was obvious that some of the women working in buildings together were related to one another.  Some of the women worked on their bodies a lot, since they chose that profession; on the other hand, some women were older and not fit at all.  It was interesting to see that the unfit women were not concerned about their body types, something very different than women in the US.

On Sunday, we visited Anne Frank’s house.  This was the highlight of the trip, for me.  It was so interesting to have Anne’s story come to life.  It really helped me get a visual understanding of how the Nazis marched the streets.  After Anne Frank’s house, I needed to head to the bus station.  We went to the hotel to gather our luggage, to find out that there was a national transportation strike that day.  Since there was a strike, I had to take a cab to the bus station.  Unfortunately, I had a different bus time than the others, and had to endure the 12-hour journey alone.  I arrived in London at 5:00am, and had to wait an hour for the next train to come.  After taking a short nap, I headed to work on Monday.

Overall, Amsterdam is very different than the US.  I kept an open mind about its culture and find it intriguing that the country has such open policies.  It was a great experience to open my eyes to how other people live.

 

 

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Holidays Abroad

Time January 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

During the fall semester, there were three major American holidays that we celebrated, including: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Halloween is not celebrated as much in London, so my friends and I decided to bring the cheer across the boarder.  A typical US college Halloween consists of all of your friends dressing up as crazy as possible and celebrating at Halloween parties. There are not as many costume shops in the UK and the selection was very limited, so we searched local markets in hopes of finding something unique. The best place to get costumes was Primark, which is a clothing store that has many different styles for men and women and very inexpensive prices.  Primark often has costumes, footed pajamas and random clothing items that may be hard to find in the US.   My friends found metallic gold leggings and light-up t-shirts and dressed as LMFAO. Another friend wore a German outfit he got while at German Fest. Most of the non-American students did not feel comfortable dressing up at first, but once they saw our outfits, decided to deck out.

My work had a Halloween party, gave away candied apples and set up stations outside for pumpkin carving and looking at “spooky” animals.  On the Sunday before Halloween, my friends and I visited an old haunted mansion at Greenwich, where spirits told ghost stories about near-by landmarks.  On Halloween night, about 13 of us dressed up and took the tube stations by storm.  Not many people were dressed up, but the Brits definitely loved our costumes.  We went to a Halloween party, and security made us remove our masks; I’ve never heard of doing that in the US.  I must say, Halloween was one of the few times I missed home.  I love getting dressed up with my friends from school and going to see what everyone else dressed as.  This year was very fun, but did not trump a classic American Halloween.

The second holiday that the US students had to celebrate abroad was Thanksgiving.  IFSA-Butler hosted a Thanksgiving meal for students.  My friends and I were unable to go because we spent Thanksgiving weekend visiting Marrakesh, Morocco.  Those who went to the dinner said it was fantastic, and some students also made a feast in the residential kitchens.

Finally, we had the lovely opportunity to soak up the Christmas spirit in London.  The streets were filled with celebrations and happy shoppers, the store windows were decked with cheer and the weather was just right to enjoy a day on the town.  I had two wonderful Christmas parties at work, where we had a secret santa with our co-workers.  I received socks that looked like the tube map, and a double-decker bus figurine.  The students who lived in my dorm also had a secret santa.  We drew names and set a ten-pound limit.  We made food and enjoyed a great dinner and watched as we opened funny gifts.

Overall, holidays brought a bit of homesickness for most, but luckily we had each other and great support from IFSA-Butler.  We ended up having a great time celebrating the holidays in different ways, and learned to appreciate the value of family traditions.  The best part was bringing our bits of culture to those who do not celebrate the same way we do.

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Weekend in Wales

Time January 5th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Before going to London, students at the University of Westminster could sign up for a series of activities called The Social Program.  This program had a list of different events for the students to attend, including weekend trips to: Wales, Oxford and Cotswold, Hampton Court Palace and the London Eye.  Through IFSA-Butler, there was a social networking site set up for all the students who would be studying at the University of Westminster during the Fall 2011 semester; so, we posted on the site to see who was signing up for The Social Program.  Luckily, my best friend, Rani, and I both signed up for the program and attended the events together.

Our first weekend of the Social Program was in Wales.  While in Wales, we went to the Caerleon Roman Amphitheatre and the Caerphilly Castle.   Both of which had breath-taking views.  Then, we checked into our hotel and got dinner in Swansea.  The city was so interesting because it had pieces of an ancient castle in the middle of the town!  We ate fish and chips at a local pub and went dancing after.  It was a great opportunity to meet students who also went to Westminster but did not live in the same housing units as Rani and I.  The next day, we drove through the Brecon Beacons National Park on the way to the Rhondda Valleys and the Big Pit Mining Museum.   The mine was one of the largest sources of jobs and caused severe unemployment when the mine closed.  We learned that some children as young as six would work in pitch-darkness in the coalmines.  There were small horses that would pull large buckets of coal through the mine, and canaries would warn miners of gas in the pit.  We got to walk through the coalmine and see exactly how coal was extracted and how supports were structured throughout the mine.  The visit to Big Pit was very educational, without actually seeing the horrendous conditions of the coalmine, it would have been hard to imagine the very unfortunate lives that those who worked in the coalmines had to endure.

After Big Pit, we visited Tintern Abbey in the Wye Valley, a romantic ruin that inspired William Wordsworth.  This Abbey had all of the valuables stolen from it and is merely a frame of outstanding architecture.

We headed back to London after Tintern Abbey and concluded a fun-filled weekend.  It was great to meet other students who we would see and become friends with throughout the semester, as well as, get a different cultural experience than London.

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Christmas is in the Air

Time January 3rd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

London is wonderful during the Christmas season!  We recently went to a concert on Oxford Street, to celebrate the lighting of the Christmas decorations.  The Saturdays played, which is an all-girls group similar to the Spice Girls.  Also, there was a performance from the main character in Ghost, the musical.  The lighting of Oxford Street marked the official opening of the Christmas season.  Londoners do not celebrate Thanksgiving, since it is an American Holiday, so they use celebrations like this to set the mood for Christmas shopping.  After the performances, there were fireworks and the street was closed off to cars so that happy shoppers could make their way to the stores.

We also attended the lighting of the Christmas decorations on Marylebone High Street.  This was only one street over from our hall of residence.  The whole street was blocked off and filled with Christmas cheer.  There were food booths, people collecting for charity, a live performance and a snow machine.  The music was fantastic and the snow machine created a winter-wonderland even though it was in the fifties! Once the Christmas lights turned on, there were fireworks and a live performance from a local choir.  Throughout London, store windows were decorated for Christmas, there were mass groves of shoppers and the hustle and bustle of Christmas officially set in.

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First Month in the UK

Time October 18th, 2011 in College Study Abroad | Comments Off on First Month in the UK by

I have been living in London for just over a month now, and life could not be better. We have done so many things in this wonderful city and met people from many different backgrounds.

Freshers Weeks

            The best thing about our school is how centrally located our dorms are. Marylebone campus has many business courses, so luckily nearly all of my classes are at the campus where I live.  Our campus is located in the heart of London and is just a short walk or tube ride to some of the most popular places in the city.

At Butler, we have one week of Freshman Orientation, which we call “Welcome Week”.  In London, there is “Freshers” which is the first two weeks of school completely dedicated to helping students get to know each other through planned functions.  Freshers week was probably the best two weeks of the entire year, and really helped each of us get to know one another.

Places

The study abroad experience has been so great because in just over a month we have covered so much of London and some places beyond London, as well.  We have visited Camden Markets, Brick Lane Markets, Oxford Street, The British Museum, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Buckingham Palace, Covent Garden, Regent’s Park, and The Tate Modern Museum.  We have gone on a boat cruise to see the city in a different light and traveled to Wales, where we went into a coal mine.

Experiences

Through my internship, I’ve had the opportunity to see many different speakers and attend many day-long conferences.  Some of these have included speakers from Google, Facebook, Twitter, XBOX, Nike, and the author of How Cool Brands Stay Hot.   I also got the opportunity to go to an event on the 41st floor of HSBC, a large bank in London.  One thing I have been struggling with is finding a work/life balance.  Many days, between going to work and school, I end up putting in 12-hour days and still try to find time to hang out with friends and apply for jobs.  It is my semester goal to develop a balance between my internship, school and extra activities.

While in London, I have also learned how to navigate through the public transport system, called the Underground or the Tube.  I’ve also been put in situations to improve my networking skills and learn how to meet people.  One of the main challenges in networking with others is understanding the many different accents that are being spoken.  Even though everyone is speaking English, sometimes it is very difficult to understand what is being said!  Some of the best things about London are: the amazing shopping, the incredibly fashionably shoes and delectable candy.  I have only been homesick a few times, and it has been easily cured thanks to the wonderful technology of video chatting!

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Sweet Home Indiana

Time September 21st, 2011 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Hello Followers!  Welcome to my Blog!

Throughout the upcoming fall semester, I will be studying in London and interning at Mindshare Media Agency. I will be documenting my travels through Europe and giving my prospective of living abroad.

Now that we have some basic facts established, here is a glimpse of life, as I know it.

My blog is titled “Sweet Home Indiana” because there are many parallels to my life and Melony Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”.

My Hometown

While I may not live in a trailer, nor is my father a Civil War reenactor, like Melony, we both come from very small, historical towns.  I grew up in a rural community in Southern Indiana, where we celebrate the annual Vincennes Rendezvous (which, in fact, does have war reenactments…). During high school, my graduating class of 15 would recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as we looked out at the rising sun above the George Rogers Clark Memorial.

Life in Southern Indiana revolves around watermelons.  August is watermelon month in Indiana, so naturally, we have a festival with a Watermelon Queen and seed spitting contests. During New Years Eve, while most Americans watch the ball drop in Times Square, we watch tens of melons drop from a 50-foot crane in the town square.

We have one main store, yes…. you guessed it! Wal-Mart.  We buy everything from books to bubble gum at this superstore, and occasionally spend summer evenings hanging out in the parking lot.  Now this may not sound like a glamorous lifestyle to some, but there is a wealth of unconditional fun that can be had with four-wheel drive, cornfields, and Jason Aldean’s “Dirt Road Anthem”.

College Life

While I have spent time dancing in my pretty pink Durangos, I have also walked in the stilettos of a (part-time) city girl.  I attend Butler University, in Indianapolis, IN, studying Business Marketing, where I had the fantastic opportunity to do a Co-Op (similar to an internship) at Johnson & Johnson, in Skillman, NJ.  Skillman is located about an hour and a half from New York City, where my fellow Co-Ops and I would have fun on the weekends.  From the moment my peep-toes stepped into Times Square, I was sold.  This place is a Marketer’s Heaven and I was swept up in all its glory.  From that moment on, I knew I couldn’t turn away from the energy of the lights and the commerce.

London

I guess you could say, that studying in London is my chance to “chase the lights”.   I chose London because of the city lifestyle and the opportunity to do an international Marketing internship. I will be interning at Mindshare Media Agency, which works with companies such as: Ford, Jaguar, Unilever, Nike and many more to develop marketing strategies to penetrate target audiences.  More details about my experience will come, so sit tight.

Soaking Up the Final Days of The Good Life

Here’s where Melony and I are oh, so similar.  She comes home from NYC to visit her mother and father in Alabama and she realizes that “this fits too”.   Well, cheers to you Miss Melony, because as much as the East Coast captured my heart, I came home for the summer and began to realize that the small town life “fits too”.  After a few days of letting my East Coast attitude air out, I realized that home is where the heart is, and coming home to your mom and dad’s smiling faces and a phone book full of close friends yields a lot of heart.  I celebrated my last few days of summer in a cotton dress and cowgirl boots at a Josh Turner concert and selling shoes at my mom’s local store. I am very blessed to have shared this summer with such wonderful people, who will support me as I spread my wings to a new land.

Things to look for in my blogs:

– Anything and everything about Prince Harry and the journey to our engagement

– Awesome window designs and displays

– Unique Marketing techniques throughout the UK

– Interesting cultural differences and observations

–  Fabulous shoes

And So Much More!! 

 

PS: Please like this on Facebook, to help me win a gift card!!

 

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