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Wellies and Trainers and Bears, Oh My! Or-How packing shoes prepared me for London.

Cheerio! My name is Kristina; I’m a 20 year old Jersey girl studying at Johns Hopkins while stateside. However, what I’m sure everyone is more excited about, is the next semester that I’ll spend in London at King’s College.  It’s New Year’s Eve, about 11pm on the East Coast and it’s finally beginning to hit me.  In less than 48 hours, I’ll be on a flight to London. Oh. My. Gosh.

In truth, this realization has been building up all week, mostly while I’ve been packing up my shoes. But first, a bit of background. I’ve never been much of a shoe lover. During high school, if the shoes were comfortable and not falling apart, I wore them. That all changed when I met my college roommate, Sarah, who has the largest sneaker collection I’ve ever seen and gives the best advice when shoe shopping. Therefore, after two and a half years of college, I’ve come to love shoe shopping. And you can blame Sarah for the shoe metaphor throughout this pre-departure blog.

Packing for a semester in London scared me. I purposefully ignored any part of the preparation until after Christmas before suddenly realizing that I was one week from departure with an entirely empty suitcase. The empty suitcase only increased my fear. So, on December 26, armed with my IFSA Preparing to Study Abroad book, I locked myself in my room with the company of my London playlist (featuring Adele and Mumford and Sons, of course) and began packing. The clothes part came surprising easy.  It’s truly amazing how much you can fit in Space Bags (Thanks to my cousin, Nikki, for the suggestion!) and packing up the essentials for a few months in England was relatively stress-free.  But then I had to pack shoes.

To begin with the simple things, I packed my wellies first.  Better known as rain boots to Americans, wellies are essential for UK’s wet winter (I’ve been told it dries out a bit in March so we’ll see). However, as a history major, I simply cannot let the moment pass without sharing a interesting fact:  The name “wellies” is actually short for Wellington boots, made popular by the Duke of Wellington in the 19th century.  But I digress and pack the wellies first.

Then come the trainers (sneakers) required for the abundance of walking in London. In the trainers category, I’ve tossed a couple pairs of Converse Chuck Taylors (Chucks) for two reasons:  I like them and the Tenth Doctor wears them. Maybe I should explain. The thing is-I’m a Whovian, meaning a fan of the popular British sci-fi show Doctor Who. Although some (my roommate) would argue that fan is a bit of an understatement.  I watch a lot of British television via BBC America, so I’m curious to experience smaller everyday things, like watching telly, from the other side of the pond. The previous Doctor, portrayed by David Tennant, always wore Chucks with his suits, so my Chucks have been added to suitcase for the awful lot of running I plan to do while abroad.

Also collected in the pile of shoes are a pair of plaid sneakers, newly acquired as a gift from my parents this Christmas, and therefore added last minute; new black flats bought on the worthy guidance of my roommate this month, and a pair of boots I hope to use on IFSA’s Adventure Weekend.  The shoes collected in my suitcase are a pretty good representation of what I hope to experience while in London. Firstly, dodging puddles and embracing the weather, which shouldn’t be too difficult after handling a Baltimore fall. Secondly, I love cities. I grew up about an hour by car or train from Philadelphia and New York, respectively, and I plan to wear down those trainers while experiencing London. I hope to communicate that passion for exploring cities in my upcoming blogs. And thirdly, in addition to my excitement of living in a city, I cannot wait venture out a bit, gaining some valuable memories in Scotland, Wales and Europe.

And now it’s getting close to midnight and the start of 2012. I’m very much looking forward to kicking it off in London and squeezing an extra day into my time abroad this leap year! But for now, I’m powering down the computer to celebrate with my family. Happy New Year and see you in London!   sta70243

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