After about seven great weeks I am home. I definitely have mixed feelings about being home, but they are good feelings. I was able to extend my trip by going to Italy with my mom and cousin, but by the end of that I was definitely ready to come home! Having them in London and then Italy reminded me of what was waiting at home, so I felt the strongest connection then to going home. My time in London was the perfect amount of time for me because I was able to experience the culture and make new friends, but it wasn’t so long that I was super homesick.
My arrival in the U.S was much more calm and relaxed. Because of my flight being so delayed arriving in London, I was exhausted, a bit stressed and definitely nervous as to what to expect. My arrival in the U.S was the total opposite-we got in early on each fight and each flight was one step closer to being home and surrounded by the familiar. Even though I am very glad to be home I definitely miss London. By the end of my visit I felt so confident getting around and I really felt like I knew what I was doing. I miss that. Home is a very nice contrast to the busy London life and I’ve had a few days to relax and get back into a normal routine. I definitely miss the afternoon tea in London and having great excursions to amazing places! I’ve learned so much, done so much, and made great friends that I know I’ll stay in touch with for years to come. Overall an amazing trip!
I’m definitely missing high tea!
It is so crazy to think that my program is over, four weeks flew by. Thankfully my time in London is not over because as everyone leaves on Monday my mom and cousin will be arriving. I get to play tour guide for four days and then we are off to Italy, so I get to extend my trip for a while.
London turned out to be a lot like what I expected: busy, fast, fashion forward and the list goes on. Hampstead (where I’m staying) turned out to be better than I was expecting. Coming in I didn’t really know what to expect of Hampstead, or even how far away it was from London, but it turned out to be perfect. Hampstead is just far enough away from central London that I can take the tube and be there within 20 minutes, but it is far enough away that I feel removed from the city. Hampstead is much quieter and calmer, something I appreciate. The town is just very cute and quaint so I have honestly enjoyed my time more in Hampstead and getting familiar with that area, than being down in central London. Central London is just too busy for me. I enjoy it during the week day, but the weekends are packed! It’s great to experience for the day and see the sights, but I loved being able to come back to the calm of Hampstead at night.
I feel that this program length was the perfect amount of time. I was here long enough to see the big sites and get familiar with the city (I was able to give people directions even!), but I am definitely ready to return home. I am excited to see my family again, and since these were my last two undergrad classes I am excited to begin my next adventure in life-finding a job! Studying abroad has been amazing, and doing it as my last two classes made it even better. I’ve met some great people who I hope turn out to be lifetime friends and I’ve discovered places I want to come back to and see more of (Scotland!). I have been lucky to have had such a positive experience and I know I will treasure these memories and experiences for a lifetime.
I’m posting a few of my favorite photos from my trip:
Last, but certainly not least, is getting Daniel Radcliffe’s autograph with my friend Molly
I cannot believe that I only have one week left! Time has flown by and I am amazed at how much I have seen and done. Taking two classes keeps me very busy with field trips and homework, but I don’t mind. Since I am taking two classes, I have been able to see double the field trips, and for my Downton Abbey class we usually do two field trips a week which is great. My all time favorite field trip has been to Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. There was some anxiety surrounding this field trip because we didn’t actually have tickets. Group tickets have been sold out since last summer, and individual tickets have been sold out since February. That being said we were all very nervous as to whether or not they would have any tickets for sale at the gate. Our worries were for nothing though because they had plenty! We were able to walk through the gardens, go through the house and of course hit up the gift shop! Something fun that I’ve been doing with friends from my Downton class, is that we try and have tea and scones at every country house we visit. Now I can add Highclere to my list of places I’ve had tea at! My other favorite field trip so far was for my Harry Potter class. We went into Scotland to Alnwick Castle which is where they filmed parts of Hogwarts for the first and second films, and then they used it as their model for the set. We saw where they learn to fly in the first movie and then some general exterior shots. The castle itself was beautiful, but inside the state rooms and the countryside were just amazing.
This past weekend I went to Paris. I have been once before in High School on one of those spring break trips, so I was only in Paris for two or three nights. So I was very excited to go back and see it again, and see if what I remembered was the same. I remembered it being very dirty and it was. Compared to London, Paris is filthy. I don’t know if it is because the people just don’t care, or they just don’t have as good sanitation services that London has. The other thing that I really noticed was how different their metro and bus system is. London’s transportation system is very efficient, very well kept up, and very clean. Paris on the hand is very confusing. Some lines on the metro maps are really only train lines, but they are not marked so. Needless to say we got very lost and turned around the first night, but after that we had a somewhat better handle on it. But we tried to stay above ground as much as possible! One thing about Paris that I found wonderful was their youth discount. They have great discounts for anyone under the age of 24. Some places require you to show a student id, others just ask your age. Because of this discount we were able to go into the Louvre for free! We also go a discount on the Eiffel Tower and a boat tour.
I cannot believe I’ve only been in London for two weeks, it feels like much more time! I have really gotten in a rhythm here which has been nice. Classes are all going great and the field trips have been really fun. I’ve definitely had to learn some patience when traveling with such large groups, but we’ve seen some great sights so it is worth it. The big trips I’ve taken so far are to Stonehenge and Scotland. I’m in Scotland right now for the weekend and it is amazing. Beautiful country and I wish I could spend more than a weekend here! London is great, but very very busy and Scotland is much more relaxed which is right up my alley. I think that’s why I have enjoyed my Downton Abbey class field trips so much, because we go see these county homes that are miles out in the country and we have to walk to them and it is just so peaceful to be surrounded with nature.
There is a nice balance with the city and the country though so it’s nice to see both sides. Somethings that I’ve learned about the city that surprised me were that the street performers, and the performers in the tube, have to audition and then are licensed to perform in certian spots and at certian times. This just surprised me because at home we have people downtown who just play what and whenever they want, but I like it this way. The players in the tube are not playing during rush hour traffic which is smart because during rush hour the amount of traffic is crazy! And they would just be in the way, plus people would be stopping all the time. Instead they play at night and it is so much fun to hear them and their music floating through the tube. The other crazy thing here are all the motorcyclists who have these clipboards and paper set up on their handle bars while they are driving. Turns out they are studying for the test to become a taxi driver. The tests here to become a taxi driver are very intensive and it takes years before you can be an official taxi driver! Just a few interesting things I’ve learned about the city so far!
Penshurst out in Kent. Very beautiful house and land!
After a very rough start in the airport with a nine hour delay I finally made it to London. My first impressions were a bit skewed because I was sleep deprived and all I could think about was changing my clothes that felt covered in airport grime. We didn’t actually get to our dorm until four in the afternoon so the first day was really spent unpacking and sleeping. The second day though was fantastic. We took a bus tour of London and two great things happened. First we got caught on the bus right in front of Buckinham Palace during the changing of the guard which was amazing to see, and then when they let us off the bus at Camden market we caught the tail end of a flash mob proposal!
On Sunday we spent the day getting to know the area we are in which is great because it is less touristy and way more residentail so it’s not an area that I would have known otherwise. There are some very beautiful parks and garderns here that we explored and also the main village of Hampstead which is very cute and upscale. Discovered a crepe stand that is delicious! The food here is nothing extremely different. A lot less fast food and more quick cafe type places. I personally love the food here and have a moto of eating my way through London. Many different ethnic food places here. I am not an adventurous eater, but I would love to try some ethnic food while I’m here. The sweets here are to die for, and so far my favorite has been a macaroon that I got from Harrods.
I’ve enjoyed being surronded by the culture and there is a definite difference between here and America. First the transportation system is great! The buses and tube runs so efficiently. But what I have noticed that stricks me as different from home is that there is no chatting going on. No one chats on the bus or the tube. People are usually reading, either a book or the newspaper, or they are listening to music. This seems to be their time to relax between work and going home or even between a quick stop. This way they are not always engaged with their phone and constantly chatting with everyone, but they are getting to enjoy some “alone” time.
St. Pancrus train station, the first train station in London.
I leave for London in four days! Such a short time and still so much to do! I have been spending so much of my time finishing assignments and readings for my classes that are due when I arrive that I have not been able to give the city itself much thought! The CCSA group started a facebook page that has been so helpful. They have been posting about general travel advice to tons of things to do in London. I hope in the next few days to finally get to look through those sites, but I’m also excited to just see what comes. I usually make plans well in advance for things to do, but I’m really excited to just spur of the moment go and see a play with people or on a day off hop on the tube and explore the city.
I don’t have a ton of preconceived notions about London or the people. I have been there once before about six years ago and only for two nights, so I really don’t remember much except the sights. I’m open to meeting new people and experiencing a new culture, especially the food! : )
London has always struck me as very regal and I think this picture represents that.