Archive for ‘Still in the USA’

May 5, 2011

April 29th, 2011


I’ll keep my stories a little brief because a) you already know about the big event b) I have way more exciting pictures and videos to show you and c) I’m sure when I see you in person I will not stop talking about this…so I’m giving you a break now.

We heard on the news that people had been camping out for the Royal Wedding since Tuesday at lunchtime. We arrived back in London Thursday evening, checked into our hotel (only one block away from Madison House!) ate dinner and then went to see these ambitious campers. (Just a side note, it felt so good to come back to London! I will definitely miss it.) We walked through Trafalgar Square, decided that it was our place of choice for the big event, got our flags, walked up and down the Mall, saw the press set-ups, went to Westminster Abbey, got on the BBC and by the time we were walking home it was after midnight. We had to be up in 4 hours!!

Day of the wedding:

We woke up at 4:40am and were in Trafalgar Square by 5am. Picture of when we got there and when William & Kate were wed:

An absolutely incredible and fun day! I would’ve been so mad at myself for the rest of my life if we did not stay an extra week to stay for this. We watched as the Olympic countdown went from 488 days and over 14 hours to 488 days and under 6 hours. We watched as the Queen arrived at Westminster and the entire Trafalgar Square was singing God Save the Queen. We watched ourselves on the big screen. We watched news reporters everywhere interviewing as many people as they could. We watched the Royal Wedding on the big screen surrounded by thousands of people. It was fun 🙂

Videos and pictures:

After the wedding was over there were still thousands of people in the streets of London celebrating, and we made our way back to our hotel, grabbed lunch at Bill’s and crashed for the rest of the night. Saturday we had lunch at Borough Market (so. delicious.) and went to Regent’s Park to complete all 5 Royal Parks. Turns out Regent’s is my favorite. Saturday we completed the circle by going to The Perseverance for dinner. 500 points if you remember that that is the pub from the intern’s very first dinner out together. Sunday we were up at 5:30am and out on our way to Heathrow. We all landed back in the States safe and sound and our only obstacle now is getting over jetlag. It was such an incredible semester and I’ll look back on it forever. A very big thank you to my parents and family for making it happen 🙂

Cheers!

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May 5, 2011

Italia!


As we were zipping up our suitcases to store at the hotel for a few days, my zipper broke. Saturday morning included cleaning up the flat, saying goodbyes and racing to and from Russell Square tube station to purchase a 5 pound bag from the bag man. After I successfully transferred all my stuff from the broken bag into the new (enormous) one, we dropped our bags off at The Kingsley and caught our cab to Gatwick. We left plenty of time to be there early, which ended up being a great decision because we got stuck in bumper to bumper traffic for a good portion of the journey. Talk about anxiety. We finally made it to the airport with a few minutes to spare, checked in, got through security and found our gate to take off to Italy. I was nervous boarding the plane because EasyJet and Ryanair don’t kid; one piece of luggage within their dimensions, that’s all. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that my new bag was larger than my torso. As predicted, the EasyJet lady asked if I could fit it in their dimension bin, and by some miracle (and a few minutes of trying) it did. Annalina and Erin had shocked faces when I met up with them finding seats with my bag on my side and not under the plane. An hour an a half nap later and we arrived in Milan. We grabbed a cab to our hostel, the Zebra hostel.

Step #1: The cab dropped us off on a back street, not in the center of the city. Step #2: We walked through an alley to get to the door, which you could buzz yourself into. Highly ineffective. Step #3: Walked into a lobby full of sketchy guys everywhere. “No, we’re Canadian. Yup. Studying abroad in France.” Step #4: Get our bed assignments. No doors, no locks, no lockers, no linens. Step #5: March out of Zebra hostel forever and figure out a solution outside.

Apparently Erin saw “Redrum” written across the bathroom mirror too, just to enhance our lovely experience at the Zebra hostel. We left the hostel and figured we would head towards the train station to see the train times going to Santa Margherita (where we were originally staying Sunday-Thursday) that night, and if there weren’t any we would at least find out what time they left on Sunday. We didn’t really have a definite plan, and were prepared to shell out a lotttt of euros for a hotel in Milan-when we booked the hostel, it was the only thing left in Milan available due to Easter weekend. We arrived at the train station at 5:45 and the final train was at 6, so Annalina made a call to Henry, her family friend who was already staying there, and we hopped on. The train ride was about 2 hours and 20 minutes, and as we got closer to Santa Margherita we were riding along the coast, so it was gorgeous. We got off in town, dropped off our bags, grabbed dinner close by and came back to crash.

Our lovely/amazing apartment for a few days! Thank you!

The rest of the week was glorious, our first actual relaxing vacation of the semester. I know, I know, the entire semester has been a vacation, right? It was nice this week to just relax and not feel rushed to see everything the city/country has to offer. We hiked to the next town, Portofino, and grabbed lunch two days. Once we took the boat shuttle back to Santa Margherita. Easter dinner we went to Annalina’s mom’s favorite restaurant. They serve family style, so we got the pesto lasagna, the shrimp scampi and the grilled fish (freshly caught in Santa Margherita.) I’m not a huge fan of seafood, but I tried it and it was delicious. A big thank you to Annalina’s mom for that meal 🙂 One day we did a hike on the Cinque Terre, which was absolutely amazing. We took the train to the last of the five and made our way back from there. We stopped in each town and either ate, laid out or swam (or all three.) Pesto originated in the Cinque Terre so naturally, we ate a ton of it. The last leg of the trip was a 2 hour hike to Monterosso, and along the way we passed a guy in a lemonade hut! It was perfect timing, as we were dying of thirst. We watched him squeeze the lemon, it was so fresh and sooo delicious. We made the train back to Santa Margherita by about a minute. Our last day we laid out on a beach that we passed the first day on the way to Portofino and sat in the free section–everywhere else it cost 20 EURO per person?! Yowzas, After reading and relaxing all morning we grabbed a late lunch in Portofino and then hiked back. We made dinner three nights, ravioli, short pasta and gnocchi. Kelly and I were in charge of going in to get ingredients for salad. We came out triumphant until Annalina told us thatwe had in fact bought 2 heads of cabbage instead of 2 heads of lettuce. Uh oh. I couldn’t taste the difference once I dowsed it in balsamic vinegar and olive oil, and Annalina made herself some hot salad, but Kelly and Erin couldn’t bear the taste. Sorry guys! The town was great; small but a lot going on. Forthe first two or three days they had market vendors set up everywhere right next to the beach which were fun to browse, and there was also an outdoor ice skating rink! By the last day it had melted and they were disassembling it, but it was fun to watch.

Overall, the week was fun, beautiful, relaxing and a great ending to our semester abroad in London!

Oh wait…the Royal Wedding.

January 20, 2011

Packing…


…is literally an impossible task. I don’t even know how many times I packed and repacked and unpacked and repacked. Maybe 8? This is after I laid everything in piles and went through the piles multiple times. HOW DO YOU FIT YOUR LIFE FOR 3+ MONTHS INTO A SUITCASE? The other hard part was that I wasn’t just packing for school/leisurely traveling London & Europe. I have an internship here so I have to pack business casual!

What made the final cut: I packed loads of sweaters. Lots of cardigans, plain shirts that can be layered up. I packed maybe 5 T-Shirts. I don’t know how often I’ll run but if its more than 5 days in a row (which I highly doubt) then I’ll do laundry. Same with running shorts. I packed 0 sweatpants. The only form of lounge pants I brought are yoga-type pants but they’re baggy and therefore comfortable. I only brought 4 pairs of jeans and they still took up soo much room. Shoes were impossible. I have 4 pairs of boots but had to drop one, I didn’t bring annyy pumps or heels because I figured I’d just get them here if I needed them, I brought my running sneakers and that’s about it. At first I had, literally, an entire suitcase filled with shoes, and I realized that wasn’t going to work. Add this and jackets (2 rain/waterproof peacoat type jackets, 1 rainjacket, 1 peacoat), purses, makeup, dresses and random other things and you’ve got yourself more than one 50 pound suitcase. If you’re a student who’s going abroad and looking here for advice, I really don’t have any. (I know!! Sorry!) I rolled all my clothes if that helps. I know I should’ve cut down to one suitcase (Elayna did it, it’s possible) but I have no idea how I would’ve done that. Everyone else seemed to have the same type deal at the airport, and I made it here safe and sound and with all my luggage.. soooo no more worries. 🙂

This was an issue…

I ended up checking 2 bags: one big suitcase and one a little smaller, and then my carry on was my backpack and my purse.

Good Luck!!

January 20, 2011

Student VISA


Ah gosh I’m sorry, I never ended up adding information when I was ACTUALLY still in the US. In case you’re interested in the process:

In addition to my classes I’m also doing a 3 credit internship at Wriglesworth consultancy..a PR agency in London. The way that JMU does this is with an organization called CAPA International Education (Center for Academic Programs Abraod) and we go through a process that I wish had been done earlier because of how quickly I had to round up a TON of papers/files/forms, but CAPA is really really helpful and available, so luckilyy my questions were answered quickly. Those of us interning had to go through the application process…final mail to CAPA included: 2 passport sized photos, 1 photocopy of passport, 1 signed release form, an academic letter of recommendation, a professional letter of recommendation, a police background check and a transcript. The awesome thing about CAPA is that they ask you to rank your field of interest and they piece together allll of this information to place you at a (hopefully) baller internship. Getting the student VISA was a really annoying process. Right after I came home from Thanksgiving break, I found out I had to mail my ACTUAL passport in with a whole bunch of supporting documents. And, this process had to be done as soon as possible because it could take up to something like 12 weeks. So, my parents had to send my passport priority mail, meanwhile I had to take more passport pictures, fillout an online application that had step by step instructions our director had to send to us, (I had to list when I left the country in the last 10 years. yikes) and drive to Alexandria to get a biometric finger scan. (Literally, drove 2 hours, took a 3 minute finger scan, drove back 2 hours.) Final mail into the British UK Agency in NY: my passport, a printed copy of my online application, an Appendix 8 Tier 4 (General) Student Self Assessment form, a passport photo, an official transcript, and a confirmation of the completed biometrics appointment. The fee, which they fail to really tell you about until you have to pay, is something like $385. Yeeeeeesh. A few weeks later my passport arrived with my Student VISA stamped in it and the process was finally complete.

December 7, 2010

Hello world!


So, this title (^^^) is the standard one that comes with your page when you open a WordPress account. Instead of deleting and renaming my first post title, I deemed it 100% appropriate & worth keeping.

In 28 days I’m heading on a redeye flight to Heathrow and not coming back until May. (Only because my student Visa requires me too. I have a weird hunch time is going to fly while abroad and I’m already pleading for it to slow down.) When I was going through the whole application process of going abroad, I kept Googling & hoping to find an actual student’s take on what it was like to go abroad. Not the websites of organizations who plan study abroad, where you only find student testimonies…I get it, it’s awesome and life changing. Why wouldn’t it be? But I wanted to know little things; did you buy your bedding over there? Did you understand their accents? Do you feel like a tourist nine weeks in? Meet locals? Where do you get coffee? Is the coffee even the same?

So, vualah. I’m granting that to whoever stumbled upon this website in hopes of finding what life abroad actually entails. (And, Hi Mom & Dad, to my family and friends at home who are curious to see if I fell off the face of the earth or not.)

It’s not like the trip hasn’t already begun. Nope. My experience abroad started even as I was sitting here in the lovely United States. It started with the nerve-wracking Visa application process, the orientation meetings, the class scheduling and, alas, I’ll also start the impossible task of packing during these next few weeks. If you’re up for hearing about the preparing of the trip, then happy reading! If not, see ya Jan 19, 2011!!

Cheers!