January 28, 2014

Tuesday Adventures

Being here still feels a little bit like a vacation. The newness of my morning commute is still enjoyable. I find it slightly more exciting than dreadful when the central line breaks down and I'm "forced" to take the scenic bus route through Paddington. I hope that sticks. Today I ended class around two and after my Monday of travel and lectures yesterday I felt the need for an adventure. I'd read about the lesser known branch of the Victoria and Albert Museum--the Museum of Childhood-- in my tourist book and it seemed interesting.
Museum of Childhood
The museum was in East London at a tube stop called Bethnal Green. Not the nicest of places from what I saw but the museum was very easy to spot. At first, besides the gift shop full of vintage inspired toys I didn't really think the museum was worth my time. But as I wandered upstairs I found the display on antique doll houses. OK, I know that sounds really lame but ever since I was little I've always had a serious obsession with miniature houses (does anyone remember Tiny Treasures?!). Tell me these things aren't cool.
Such bad quality picture, but I want this house!
Toy soldiers
Next I decided to be spontaneous and travel to Camden. Besides Borough I hadn't really been to a market yet until today. It was... Something. I was trying so hard not to look as shell-shocked as I was while walking around. It felt like the type of place where a independently touring Kate could get lost and never get found again. I read in the tourist book that it had a big goth/punk section but for some reason I didn't really think that one through. Safe to say I definitely looked a little ridic in my fluffy white Patagonia and leggings. All in all I'm glad I explored today. Although my next trip to Camden I will definitely going to be bringing a boy with me to ease my nerves (hi Lewis).

Camden Market
Next up I want to visit Da Mario's Pizza in Kensington (apparently Princess Di's pizza of choice), Spitalfield's, and the Kew Gardens. So much to see, so little time!

All you need is LΦVΣΣ!

This video is so good it actually makes me miss Syracuse a little. I am really excited to meet all the new sisters!

And we're on Bro Bible! 

January 27, 2014

1 Month Mark

One month ago to this moment I was crammed in my little (teeny, tiny, microscopic) all-red Virgin Atlantic seat about to embark on my five and a half month long journey to England. Trying so hard to sleep, knowing I would definitely need my energy for the adventures to come but being way too jittery and anxious to close my eyes for more than five minutes. It's one of those things where it feels like I've been here forever, but it also feels like it's been no time at all. My awful Fall semester feels like nothing but a bad dream that I've semi-blocked from my memory and it feels like time stopped when I left Boston Logan in August and started again the moment I got to Heathrow.

I literally cannot believe how it has flown.

My weekend in Beccles was exactly what I needed and I think going back allowed me to compare how much I have grown since when I first landed there one month ago to where I am right now.

I've figured out pounds and pence (although not quite figured out how to be a wise spender). How to use the funny plugs. How to stand on the right on the Underground escalators. How to get into the car on the wrong side without automatically going to the driver's side door. How to maneuver the Tube (and kind of the buses). How to use the self-checkouts in all the grocery stores. How to text a little more coherently on my little HTC phone. How to pay rent and how to order coffee ("white Americano"). How to plan and book a vacation in a foreign country (Dublin!). How to determine which Starbucks, McDonalds, Costa's, Pret's, and Eat's will give you free WiFi. To avoid the Covent Garden Tube station (no more elevators for me). How to walk to the Quay, order fish and chips, and which Cadbury's are the best.

And that's only been a month. 

The Language of Flowers

I love reading but I usually only remember how much I love reading in the summer, when I spend more of my time un-wired and actually have time to read. 

My mom bought me this book for Christmas and I didn't have the chance to read it until this past week in London because we (still!) don't have WiFi in our flat and luckily the work load while studying abroad is just as much of a joke as you probably thought it was.

This book was so different than anything I've read in a long while and it definitely got me back on a serious reading kick, now I just need my free London library membership to come through!

January 24, 2014

Ran Away for the Weekend

Yesterday after class I took the tube to Liverpool Street and boarded my train up to Suffolk. I'd only been in London two weeks but was already missing the comfort of the country and I think my 11:30am sleep in proves that the hustle of living in the city takes a lot more out of you than you realize. Can't wait to relax, have a Sepping's sausage roll, and hopefully carry on with my search to see a peacock.

January 22, 2014

England Week Four

I am absolutely in love with Kensington Gardens. I have to say I really hated the look of Bayswater when I first saw it. Our flat was ugly and gray and the area seemed loud and overcrowded compared to the other prettier areas of London I had seen before. It's safe to say I was pretty nervous to leave Bloomsbury, which had become so familiar, for our new neighborhood.

When we arrived on Friday though I think it's safe to say I wasn't the only one who was pleasantly shocked by how much our landlord had cleaned up. It looked miles better. Since Friday my roommates and I have spent all our free time exploring the area and to say I judged it waaaaay too harshly is an understatement. Our street is one delicious looking restaurant after another.

A Waitrose grocery store is directly under our building. We have a little mall with my personal favorite food shop--Mark's and Spencer's--right next door. But the absolute best part is how close we are to my new favorite spot, Kensington Gardens. I love all of Hyde Park... I think Southwold and Beccles are still my favorite places in all of England so far but this park definitely takes the title as far as London spots go.

It's like my own little Waban walk all the way in the UK...everything that I didn't have in Syracuse. This morning I even had time to have a leisurely jog around the Serpentine lake before my BBC class. So beautiful. Can't wait to walk around here with Lewis when he comes in a few weeks and with my family in February.

The Italian Gardens, so beautiful.
The absolute best morning run around the Serpentine.
The roommates

January 14, 2014

England, Week Two and Three!

WOW it is actually scary how time has flown since I have been here. I am absolutely in love with England. Tons has happened since I last wrote, but it honestly feels like a blink since my first week here. Insane.

After me and Lewis's day trip to London last Saturday things did quiet down a little. On Monday he had to return to Uni and I was left to fend for myself. Not really though because me and Sonia had adventures (aka walking all over beautiful Beccles). Tuesday he had the day off and we could finally celebrate our six month anniversary (seven months minus four days). We went for a long walk and headed into Norwich for dinner and a movie. We saw Anchorman 2 and had dinner at a little Italian place. It was so nice to finally be able to do normal couple things like that together.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday I spent mostly working on my abroad journal and doing a lot of walking around town. Thursday Sonia and I drove to Lowestoft (sp?) to walk along the beach and see the primary school that Lewis would be teaching at for the rest of the year.

Saturday Lewis and I ventured back into London with alllllll of my billion pounds worth of luggage... rough. To make it even more challenging the "lift" at the Travelodge was broken and our room was on the fifth floor. Our arms were incredibly sore to say the least. Other than that minor detail Saturday was awesome. Unlike our last London trip the weather Saturday was perfect. Sunny and mild temperatures-- a perfect day to see and do everything.

We started the day by heading to Borough Market to see if it was worth the hype. It definitely was. It was a Saturday so it was a little too crowded to fully enjoy, but the food looked, smelled, and tasted AMAZING. We had already had lunch so we just stuck to samples and dessert. I'll definitely back with an empty stomach more than once in the next couple of months.
Lewis got a gigantic fudge brownie and I sampled the carrot cake, yummmm.
Afterwards we tried to venture over to an ice sculpture festival that was happening at Carnaby (I think...) Wharf but it was also way too crowded. However, we did get to see one ice sculpture being made and we even got to try to do some sculpting ourselves.

After that we literally went EVERYWHERE. Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus, Coven Garden, literally everything. We saw all the scenes at Embankment in the sunny day time but we also were able to see it again at the end of our night when Big Ben struck nine and everything was lit up and beautiful. Definitely one of the best moments of the day.
Such a beautiful scene.
We spent at least two hours walking in circles trying to find Chipotle which was a total fail. Instead we ended up going to a restaurant that was exactly like Chipotle called Bennito's Hat. It was so delicious and just what we needed at the moment because after the completely failed search for Chipotle we were both getting pretty hangry. The only downside was we decided to splurge on the two for one happy hour deal that ended at 7pm. We ordered our drinks at 6:45 and literally did not get them until 7:45. Not exaggerating. But, we didn't have anywhere to be and we made some new friends in the waiting process so it was all fine in the end.

Bennito's hat burrito bowl.
I don't know if I had mentioned it before but I REALLY wanted to see a pheasant while I was in Beccles. On the drive back to Lewis's on the very first day one darted out in front of the car but that was the only one I had seen all vacation even though we literally searched and searched. But on Saturday as we were waiting for the train to London (my actual last moments in Beccles) we saw a dog chasing one down the sidewalk. After dinner on Saturday we wound up at the Jack Wills sale and I made my first purchase of my trip; a beautiful pheasant t-shirt. I love it. Its gonna crack me up every time I put it on.
I couldn't find the girls version of this top but it looks like this and I love it haha
After a really long, but really fun day, we walked along the River Thames enjoying my first ever McFlurry. It was such a perfect end to a really great day.

Sunday Lewis and I dragged my luggage all the way from Liverpool Station to Tottenham Court Station, down the five flights of stairs, through the streets, through the tube, and all the way to St. Giles Bloomsbury. Holy shit, it was the work out of a lifetime. After that we were pretty much dead so we lounged around and finished watching The Wolf of Wall Street. Great movie, but reallyyyyyy long. Still worth watching though. He was such a Dad walking me around pointing out all the places I could eat lunch and buy groceries and take out money and I was so sad when he had to leave. I didn't realize how weird it would be to be alone for the first time after such an jam packed and AMAZING two weeks.

Luckily Monday I was able to meet up with another friend from camp who is studying abroad here. But not until after I had a A Very Traumatizing Experience on the St. Giles elevator...or 'lift.'

I finally got over my lonliness of being in London without Lewis, or anyone else I knew for that matter, and decided to start my day with a walk down Oxford Street to shop. I got all dressed up and was finally ready to go. So I got on the elevator. There was my first mistake.

A big family gets on and also a couple. We go down the first floor alright and then, nothing.

Really nothing, it just stopped moving. We all kind of waiting about fifteen seconds and then we kind of realized what was happening. Long story short we were probably in there for about ten minutes...the last two of which we lost electricity and the air conditioning turned off and we were standing crammed in the pitch blackness of the elevator. Honestly it was horrific.

Anyways, back to more cheerful things... I met my friend from camp, Janelle, at Covent Garden for coffee and again walked MILES and miles all the way down Oxford Street. Which brings me to my absolute ADDICTION which I cannot believe it has taken me this long to get around to writing about...

The Oxford Circus Top Shop.


If I had to choose one store to go on a shopping spree at that would 100% be the one. WOW.
The ground floor sold not only the coolest accessories, jewlery, make-up and bags I had ever seen but also had a frozen yogurt booth, a cupcake booth, AND SUSHI. I was dead. It was four stories of absolute paradise. I spent two hours in there no joke.

I had to buy something to show for my experience at that wonderful place, so I picked up some socks that I seriously love. I know, you're thinking, socks...not that cool. But they go really well with my new short boots that I was talking about coveting a while ago and I think its the little things like that that really make an outfit.
A little Kylie Jenner outfit inspiration for the new socks.

Finally, today was the first day of orientation. Some Syracuse people were around last night after I got back from my outing with Janelle but most people arrived looking as jet-lagged and confused as the new counselors did their first night at camp. All in all it was a pretty productive day. It's weird to think that I will actually be doing school here. I met a lot of cool people and managed to find roommates. Now just to find a flat tomorrow, yikes! One day at a time...


January 13, 2014

An Open Letter To Fisherman Rain Slickers

Dear Fisherman Rain Slickers,

There are certain clothing items that I really can't resist. Some women can't walk away from the perfect heels or handbag but I have a SERIOUS problem when it comes to two things: summer shorts and COATS.

And I have a SERIOUS middle-school-slow-dance kinda crush on you.

It was love at first sight and I can remember it flawlessly. It was raining cats and dogs one day while I was working at the WHB and I had to run down to Wellesley Bakery to pick up the California wraps for everyone. I was wearing my North Face parka that day (warm but NOT waterproof) so one of the other women offered me her coat. Lo and behold... the fisherman rain jacket. That bright smiley yellow is enough to brighten the grayest of gray days.

I think drizzly London and my two weeks by the English sea probably swayed me in the direction of only needing you more and more in my life.

Someday we will be together.

Jack Wills 
Urban Outfitters

January 8, 2014

Easily the Biggest Disapointment Since Being Abroad...


...Luckily I did find the latest episode on a charming little website called Video Weed

January 5, 2014

England, Week One!

I've made it to England! It has been absolutely amazing so far. I've been here a week and everyday has been something new and exciting and I cannot believe how quickly it's gone already and how much I have done.

I landed last Sunday morning to an apparently uncharacteristically sunny day. My flight was a little rough--note to anyone traveling to England via Virgin Atlantic in the next while, the $50 upgrade to seats with more leg room is DEFINITELY worth it. I was literally so crammed the entire flight. And me being me, I was freezing cold the entire time and kept my Barbour buttoned and my mittens on for the entire seven hour flight haha. They did have a great selection of movies and the food wasn't bad either. It was also really exciting to me that all the flight attendants had British accents although that definitely shouldn't have been as surprising as it was. After finally landing and getting through customs, seeing Lewis again and finally meeting his family in person was incredible. I've had so much fun this week just spending time with all of them.

Northern England seriously is the country. Just on the drive back to his house we saw cows, sheep, chickens, and my personal favorite--a pheasant! I am still waiting to see the peacock that allegedly lives in the fields near his street. Beccles is beautiful and everything is so teeny tiny and old. There are Land Rovers absolutely everywhere and with all the constantly muddy fields and roads all I think about is how much fun my Dad and Carter would have plowing through them in the Land Rover. That day Lewis and I explored Beccles and I had my first English curry for dinner.
Land Rovers are EVERYWHERE.
Monday we went into the closest city, Norwich, to do some shopping. It was so quaint and cute. A really nice place to walk around for the day. Next Tuesday Lewis and I are going back to have a belated celebration of our sixth, although now its a bit closer to seventh, month anniversary, should be really good. All the buildings are so beautiful-- the mall is even called Castle Mall because there is a castle built on top of it!
Norwich shopping street.
Tuesday was New Years Even and Lewis and I woke up early to go to Southwold for a walk. I think Southwold is still probably my favorite place I've been so far in England. It reminds me so much of Nantucket from the beachy music, shops, people, and amount of Land Rovers. The first time we went it was extreeeeeeemly windy and gray... it looked a little grim to say the least, but still very pretty. We went again on Thursday where it was much sunnier and a lot more people were around. We spent the night hanging out with Lewis's best friends from home. At midnight we rang in the New Year in the center of town watching the clock on church turn to twelve and listening to the bells. 
Trying to Look as English as possible, all I need is a flag...or a hunting dog, or a pheasant.
Nearly got blown off this pier because the winds were so strong.
Very pricey beach cottages at Southwold.
New Year's celebrations.

Wednesday we woke up a little too early and braved some serious wind, clouds, and rain to drive to a beach where you can see seals. The seals were so cute and you could get so close that the early morning was definitely worth it. I think it's so funny that this area is so extremely rural and farmy but right next to a big pasture with cows is a beach with seals, very weird.
Seals on New Years Day.
Cows right next to where the seal beach was.

Thursday we went again to Southwold to a pub called The Red Lion for lunch and I had my first real fish and chips. Oh my goodness it was delicious. The fish was caught right on the beach where we were and you could definitely tell. It's really weird to be legal to drink in England and so anticlimactic. You can also buy alcohol literally anywhere which is a big change from my dry hometown.
Seriously want to get in the car and get another one right now just looking at this picture, YUM.
So happy to be eating:)
Friday was pretty relaxing as we were trying to save some energy for our trip to London the next day. The weather held off in the morning (with the exception of a freak hail storm) and we walked into town to get some groceries. It's still kind of old fashioned in that a lot of people still get their meat from the butcher, their bread from the bakery, and their produce from farms. We got a gigantic tray of eggs from a farm the other day and my daily breakfast of scrambled eggs has really been kicked up to the next level. So on the way home we stopped at the butcher's to get some of these famous "sausage rolls" I had been hearing so much about. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to want one but I literally had the thing devoured before we had even left the shop. That and the fish and chips have definitely been my two favorite English foods so far.

Some of the food is so funny though. On the first day Lewis taught me that hamburger is called minced meat in England. A little later he offered me a mince pie (which is more of a sugary dessert thing) from the cupboard. I had the pie in one hand and the box in the other and as I was about to take a bite I am reading the ingredients and I had just started to chew when I read the word minced meat on the box, I was immediately repulsed becuase I thought that it literally contained meat that had just been sitting out for who knows how long. We didn't rectify this confusion until a few days later and it was sooo funny when we finally did.

Later Friday night we drove had a nice Christmas-y feeling dinner with Lewis's extended family. It is so nice feeling as though I have a sort of unofficial host family while I am abroad.

Saturday, (yesterday), was the first trip into London!!! Lewis and I woke up at the crack of dawn (6 AM), to catch the train from Beccles to Ipswich and then hop on another train from Ipswich to London. To my surprise, it actually was a pretty easy journey which is good because I will definitely be making it almost as often as I made the drive from Syracuse to Boston this past semester. London was very cool. I am not sure what I was expecting but I loved what I saw. It was a lot quieter than I had pictured which is definitely a good thing, and definitely much more quaint than any American city I've ever seen. The forecast for the day was looking seriously miserable so we did as much outdoor sight seeing as possible before the rain came down. Luckily, we did manage to get in a lot! We saw Big Ben, the river Thames, a ton of red buses, the London Eye, and a lot of other pretty buildings whose names I forget at the moment. We walked up to Buckingham Palace just as it started to pour.
Big Ben!
Us and the rest of the world decided to take shelter in Harrods which was amazing. I was particularly enthralled by the food sections of Harrods. I literally wanted to eat everything in sight in the prepared food sections, YUM. Definitely making my parents take me there when they come visit.

We quickly saw some of the free museums but those were also packed with kids still on their Christmas holidays and other tourists trying to get out of the rain. My favorite was the Victoria and Albert museum because Lewis and I put on our "poshest" accents the entire time. It was hysterical. Finally, we ventured up to Covent Garden which is only about a mile from Faraday House where I will be taking classes soon. Such a cool area, reminded me a ton of Faneuil Hall in Boston. Lots to do there it seems. We did see Faraday House and my phone instantly connected to AirOrangeX which was a funny bit of "home" all the way over here.
It really does look like Faneuil Hall here, doesn't it?
Classic tourism.

Being so mature in the art museum.

For dinner we went to the Wetherspoon's near where the train was and it felt sooooo good just to sit down after walking miles and miles. London was really cool and I can't wait to study there but for now I'm loving relaxing in farm country:)


Roll On 2014!

This year feels like it went so quickly but it also feels like ages ago that I was shopping preparing for recruitment, shopping for big/little baskets and practically failing forensic science with my big. 

Here are my best memories from 2013!
 Spending as much time as possible with my best friend before she graduated!

 Taking two perfect littles in the Spring and spending days with Emma preparing for their arrival.
 Having one of my best friends join Phi Sig in the Spring and keeping me sane when I miss home too much.
 Spending one last semester with two of my best friends before they shipped off abroad for the Fall.
 Many vacations with mom!
The annual trip to Owasco Lake
The absolute highlight of my year was working at camp this summer and spending every day driving the boat and baking in the sun!
 Meeting my amazing boyfriend and spending as much time as possible going to the beach and exploring the Cape.