Week 1

ah dear wou blog, so much has happened since we last spoke that I feel the need to be ridiculously overdramatic. Sunday we had orientation in the morning and then had the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. I went with a group to see the changing of the guard, but we didn’t have a very good view so I basically just saw the parade. After that, my group went through St. James’s park and then over to Big Ben and Westminster abbey. The abbey was so gorgeous but we couldn’t go in because it was Sunday. That night I went with some friends from class out to dinner at this burger place down the street. They had fantastic milkshakes that reminded me of mike’s drive-in near my house so that was awesome. Monday was the first day of class and it was fairly interesting we learned about the basis of the English government system. That night we went out to Leicester square for dinner which was really nice, I know I’ll be spending loads more time out there later. Tuesday was my first day off and I went with some classmates to go see the changing of the guard. We got there early and got some pretty decent spots for the whole shebang, after that we went out to the barracks and goofed off there for a little bit before heading to Westminster. The line to get into the abbey was really long so we skipped it for now. That night we went out to the London bridge and then walked over to the tower bridge and the Tower of London. We would have gone in but they were closed for the evening so we just enjoyed the scenery. Wednesday was class day two and we talked more about crime in England and it was really cool learning about the difference between the U.S. and the UK. I was exhausted after class and decided to take a lazy day that ended with a show. There’s this really cool little theater not far from us and they were doubt productions of Shakespeare’s king Henry V. It was an all female production with everyone except Henry also being a member of the chorus. Not gonna lie it was really cool. Thursday marked our first field trip and we went out to battle to see the battlefield and battle abbey from the battle of Hastings in 1066. The British will tell you that that was the last time that they were successfully invaded so that’s pretty cool. I went shopping that night out in Leicester square. They have a big m&m store, not quite as big as the one in Vegas but pretty close. Today I went on a CCSA field trip to Salisbury and Stonehenge. At Salisbury they had the best preserved copy of the Magna Carta and had a big display because of the 800th anniversary of the document. Stonehenge was a bunch of old rocks in fancy positions and it was more interesting when you think about the history of the place and how old it is and how much effort must have been put into it. Tomorrow I’m off to Ireland to see the lovely Jen Hight while she’s over there. I wanted to see it anyway but since it’s her last weekend I’m going now to see it with her. Oh and I went to the first Hard Rock Cafe tonight and got my pin and shirt so I’m content for now.

 

Here, have some photos

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A gate at buckingham palace

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Me at buckingham palace

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Me me with my new buddy Big Ben

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The outside of Westminster abbey

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A tomb at Salisbury cathedral. I have no idea why the photo is upside down but I don’t care enough to fix it.

First Impressions

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Halfway through my first week in London, and I can still hardly believe that I made it here. Today has been my first real shot at ‘down time’ upon arriving.

My trip here was long, but decent. An eight hour flight took my friends and I from Oregon to Iceland, where we soon boarded a plane from Iceland to London, which ended up being nearly three hours. Our arrival at the place we would be staying was not until late afternoon. By then, we barely had time to unpack before we opted into a walking tour of the area to see where everything was in relation to our rooms. Once that was finished, we immediately walked the few blocks to the college for a dinner and orientation with everyone involved in the program – the three of us nearly falling asleep the entire time due to our overnight travels.

To say I slept like the dead that night would be an understatement.

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On Sunday, we had another morning orientation, then headed off with a group of people to see the Spitalfields Market. There, we saw crowds of vendors and sampled delicious foods. I personally had lunch from an Eritrean food stall since it is one of my favorites and hard to find around my home town. In our walking around, we experienced multiple cultures and languages just in passing — much more than an average day in Oregon. On the way out, we sampled some chocolate coconut tea that was to die for, and a friend and I purchased a few grams of it to have in our rooms and take back to the states. It tasted as if you were eating coconut chocolate. . . quite a delicious flavor for a tea, if you ask me.

Monday was my first class for Myth, Legend, and Horror. The professor is wildly intelligent and often times gets carried away with random subjects as he knows so much about everything. A welcomed resource in this foreign town. So far, I have yet to have trouble finding food that is acceptable for vegans. A lot of their foods are labeled clearly in relation to whether they are vegetarian friendly, and so forth. Of all the foods I have sampled so far, there have been no disappointments. Everything is so fresh and delicious compared to back in the states. My little group even noticed that their expiration dates come sooner, probably because they do not load it with preservatives and so forth.

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Tuesday was our first field trip day for Myth, Legend, and Horror. The first stop on the map was Warwick Castle, a beautiful, well-preserved chunk of history. The castle was enormous and each room within it held various time periods to show how life changed within its walls throughout history. There were manicured rose gardens and even a working trebuchet – ultimately making the trip worth it.

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From there, we hopped back on the train to head for Stratford, where Shakespeare was born and buried. The little town was so cute and almost seemed set back in time – the buildings old yet well taken care of. There were statues around erected in memory of Shakespeare, and places boasting more amazing food and random items for sale. My friends and I even entered a magic shop, complete with hilarious host and scrumptious butterbeer.

Wednesday was laid back in the sense that my friends and I planned out how we would be spending our weekends – concluding that this weekend we would do local things around the area, only to take the train to spend next weekend in Scotland. We have yet to decide whether we wish to head for Paris or Ireland, considering the cost of everything (don’t even get me started on the £ to $ conversions. . . ) Outside of that, we decided to attend one of the local pubs in the area known as The Thirsty Bear. We chatted with some locals and merely sat to eat our dinner and observe London life around us, as well as discuss what we thought of it all so far.

We have learned that people put much more effort into how they look here, and almost suspect that they can tell we are tourists by the way we dress. Women here are constantly in heels or dressy shoes, skirts or dress pants, and dressy tops. The men are almost always in suits, or at least something close to that range. Our group almost wishes we would have known this beforehand, as in our debriefing, they had said jeans and shirts would be fine – but now we feel we stick out like sore thumbs amidst the crowds. Another thing we have noticed is that despite it being an English-speaking country, we often have to slow down or repeat what we say due to our different accents; something we would have never thought about otherwise. Considering the language and cultural variety in this city, it makes sense.

Today (Thursday), I merely went to a local cafe on my own and brought my books to read. It was pleasant to settle into a chair at an outside table, sip at my coffee, and whittle away some of the reading required for class.This way I am getting in small breaks while still experiencing the area and getting a feel of it, without always having the ‘go go go’ mentality.

Overall, I am excited to see what the next few weeks bring.

The longest day ever

I figured I’d make this before I passed out considering I’ve been up for like 28 hours. So I made it to London, it was a little stressful being my first flight and customs and getting to the dorm but I managed. We went on a little walking tour and it was nice to see what was nearby but my feet are killing me. Tomorrow we just have orientation and then we can do whatever we want all day so I’m not even sure what I want to try and see first.

Here, have some pics I took throughout the day.

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Some artic ice near Greenland

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Good morning iceland

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First glimpse of iceland

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Traffic jam on the runway

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Inspy with my my little eye, the London eye

 

 

The Summation of Months of Hard Work

It’s official. Something that started as merely an idea in the back of my mind has now become reality. It seems like only a few weeks ago our professor for an English class was coming in, talking about studying abroad and her own experiences – both for leisure, and as a professor. It piqued my interest, sure, but instantly it was drowned out by thoughts of time, expenses, and a thousand other problems that could arise.

Still, I picked up one of the handouts as the class trickled out the door.

It has been several months since that time in my English class — months full of fundraising, stressing, worrying, panicking. . .but also months of growing excited. Of wondering what life outside of the country will be like. How I will change and develop more as a person, as an individual. Something that seemed so far away is now something that I will be diving into as of tomorrow afternoon.

I will be honest and say that I am not looking forward to the longest flight of my life. I have traveled independently many times in my life in flying situations, but never internationally, so there is a fresh sense of anxiousness awaiting me.

Everyone around me continues to ask if I am excited. . .and yes, deep down. But I know that until I am settled in my seat, actually flying there, with all of my hard work and frantic planning behind me. . .that is when I will be excited.

Until then, we’ll just have to wait and see.

Introduction/Pre-Departure

So, I’m Courtney and I’m half really excited and really nervous because I leave in less than a week for London. I’ve never flown by myself before which is part of the nerves but it should be fun (and it gets me out of work for a month so hey bonus). Honestly though I can’t wait to go and explore and have fun and figure out if British food is really as bad as everyone says it is. And I just recently found out that you’re not supposed to make eye contact with anyone while on the tube, so hey bonus for me because I hate eye contact with strangers.

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Let’s get this show on the road.

Looking Forward to London

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Studying abroad is an opportunity that I never thought would be available to me. I told myself, during my first year of school, that I would not be studying abroad. But when the perfect opportunity arose I took it: I will be leaving the country on July 10th to study in the United Kingdom.

As a future language arts teacher, I do a lot reading, and much of it is British literature. This trip is going to allow me to see the places where great works of literature were made immortal: where Arthur conquered the hearts of all, and where Keats created his powerful poetry. What better way is there to understand the context of British literature than to be immersed in what inspired it? I am so excited for my classes!

I am also excited for my free time! I will watch the changing of the guards, see some plays, walk into cathedrals, and even travel to Paris! There are so many fun things to do; I don’t know where I am going to start. Maybe this list will help!

However, I cannot help but to feel a bit overwhelmed. Though I am extremely excited for this opportunity, I do have some worries. The first is about my preparedness for classes. Many students, from other universities, that participate in this program are on semester schedules: they finished the term in May. This means that they have had much more study time. I, on the other hand, finished on Saturday of finals week, and I am also currently working Monday through Friday. This does not leave much time for my studies, and I have been dreaming about how much easier it would be to just take one class. But, I can’t imagine giving up either one!

 

I am also a bit worried about my outgoing personality. It is recommended, when trying to blend in, that one is not upfront, or loud, or touchy. The problem is that this is who I am; I love meeting new people, I am a blabbermouth, and I always offer a handshake or pat on the shoulder.

But, it is perfectly normal to be worried about such things. I accept that I am worried, and I will use it to power through. Tea for me, please!

In the word’s of the great Samuel Johnson (the best procrastinator literature has ever been blessed with): “there is in London all that life can afford.”

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Catching up!

Apologies to having been here so long and not being able to post! My name wasn’t added to the system and when it was tried it took awhile before it would work. As well to add to the difficulties, the internet on this campus is rather shoddy and is not always dependable for heavy sites like blogs, facebook, skype, etc.

I arrived here in London, England on the 9th of September. To sum things up quickly, I have never felt so at home, yet entirely different in my entire life. The first week was exhilirating, the University of Roehampton had us doing activities for the first two weeks from the first day on arrival. I will make more posts about each indiviual trip and experiences but wanted to make this inital post.

Pre-Departure

Leaving London is so bitter sweet for me. On one hand I’m devastated to be leaving such a beautiful country, but I’m really excited to go home and see my family and friends! I also have to admit I’m looking forward to getting back to work! I’ve felt like such a lazy bum not working for so long! In a perfect world everyone I loved would just move to England. However, that’s not really reasonable. So it’s cheers to England for now, but i know I’ll be coming back.

Pre-Departure: Until next time London

Hello everyone!

I cannot believe that this trip has come to an end! I am really excited to be back at home with my family. I cannot wait to see them. There are many things I will miss about London, but I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to take a course abroad and explore a new culture. This has definitely been an amazing experience! I learned a lot about myself while being in my leadership course, and also during the times I was exploring on my own which I had no idea I would ever be traveling anywhere without someone else. The fact that I felt so comfortable and safe made me be more open to try new things and not rely on someone else to enjoy the time I have free to myself. Especially being able to do that in an unfamiliar place made me feel that I could do that anywhere. There are so many memories that I will never forget and experiences that I will share with other people who decide to study abroad. It was definitely difficult to leave my family behind for a month with minimum communication, but it did not turn out as bad as I had thought. I am so happy to be going home tomorrow, but I will definitely miss riding the bus and tube to the grocery store or downtown.

As for my last weekend here, it was the best time of my life! I went to the beach on Saturday and it was absolutely gorgeous! I had such a blast and did not want to leave. This was by far my favorite thing I had done in London. I went to church at St. Paul’s for the last time, and it was truly amazing being able to attend church while I was abroad. I lit a candle this last time because I had done it the firs time I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. I will miss that beautiful architecture, artistic building.

Now off to the next adventure, back to Oregon!

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London Week 4

Hello everyone!

Well, it is week 4 and I just finished with my finals for this summer course! It has been such an amazing adventure and really glad that I had the opportunity to be in my Leadership course. I am really sad that we will be leaving in just a few days, but I feel that I had taken advantage of what there was to see so I feel good about leaving soon.

So, for the past week since my last post, I had been going out and exploring on my own! I was always so worried and scared of leaving anywhere on my own, but I am so glad I did, I am starting not to feel like a tourist!

On Friday, me and a couple of friends took the train over to Cardiff, Wales. I absolutely enjoyed being there, the weather was really similar to Newport, OR and there was many restaurants and cafes to hang out at. Where we stopped and hung out at was the bay of Cardiff and it was absolutely beautiful. We tried to go in to a couple museums that were around the area, but everything was closed, and with no map we did not want to stray off too far. It was really cool being able to see the culture of things while being there. Although, I was worried about not being able to communicate with the people that were around that was not a big concern. Later on that day, it was expected to rain and like in Oregon, it rained! It was interesting seeing other people’s response to it and a lot of people were not prepared for the rain so many of us ran under this covered area and waited for the weather to die down.

Saturday, we attempted to go to the changing of the guard, but unfortunately they were not going to do the change since it was a new month, they were only doing the change every other day. But unfortunately with the schedule we have left we will not be able to watch the change. But after that we went to the Millennium Bridge then walked over to a market and had lunch. Then Sunday we went to St. Paul’s church then to the British Museum, and the museum was really interesting. I liked that they had a variety of different cultures, but definitely Greece was a favorite of the museum. We looked at the mummy’s from Egypt and it was interesting learning about the process of washing the body’s and getting it prepared to be wrapped and put in the coffin. After this museum we stopped at a stand which was serving hot dogs and they were delicious! They taste a lot different than the ones we have in the states. Then we walked over to the science museum. I really enjoyed this museum. There were different levels and each level was specific towards a specific time era. When we walked in we saw the first car ever made and the spaceship to the moon and the clothing that they had to wear. My favorite exhibit was the top level which was the future, there were three big tables and about 10 people could stand in front and you had to choose a game from the choices and we all had to different tasks, one of the games that we played was we were all doctors and we had to take urinary samples from each person coming down the screen to see if they had any disease and then told the “patients” what they had to do to treat it. There was also a C02 exhibit and learning about the atmosphere and that was really neat.

One of the things that I have learned to accept while being in London is the fact that when you make plans they can either go really fast or they take a long time to do. I had planned to go to Victoria Gardens, but then I changed my mine while on the tube since I was not sure if my bus pass will take me to that zone. So I ended up going to covent gardens, and I was expecting something completely different. But when I got there, it was a market which sold clothes, jewelry and there was also like a mall so I went in and checked out some of the things they had and it was amazing. I really am glad that I ended up going there. On my way back, the tube stop I had gotten off at was closed and I was so worried I would not be able to make it back for class, so I walked and tried not to worry and I ended up finding another tube station so I was glad about that. After dinner me and some friends went to Abbey road to take pictures where the Beatles had taken their album picture and it was really cool, there were a lot of people trying to take pictures so that was a little difficult.

My last field trip as a class was yesterday, we went to Westminster Abbey and it was really cool being able to walk around and see the graves of people like Queen Elizabeth the first, King Richard the second. I really enjoyed being there. We also had a walking tour about William Wilberforce because he was one of the leaders that we had focused on in class and we learned a little bit more about him. The walking part has definitely gotten more difficult for some reason, but I find that once I rest for a little bit I can keep going. I have loved everything about London!

Just a few more days to go and I will be home! Until next time!

 

Abbey Road

Abbey Road

British Museum

British Museum

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

Millennium Bridge and St. Paul's

Millennium Bridge and St. Paul’s

Science Museum

Science Museum