A Different Type of Thanksgiving

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving filled with love and great food!

My Thanksgiving this year was a little bit different from any Thanksgiving I have had in the past… Usually the holiday would start with me dragging myself out of bed (later than I had originally planned to) and slowly getting ready for the day. I would then run out the door (later than I had originally planned to), slightly annoyed by the fact that I was interrupted several times with, “Are you almost ready?” while I was trying to apply liquid eyeliner. Seriously though, liquid eyeliner requires extreme concentration. Anyway, my family and I would join my extended family at my grandparent’s house. There, my siblings and I would be forced to take the annual Christmas card picture, those of us in high school and college would try our best to avoid extensive conversations about school, and we would all indulge in an amazing feast that my wonderful grandmother so lovingly prepared (with generous help from the other talented chefs in the family of course). With our stomachs full and our hearts happy, my family and I would then journey to another home to catch up with my mom’s side of the family. As I’ve grown older less of these evening have been spent  playing ‘cops and robbers’ with my cousins, but the one thing that never changes is the amount of delicious dessert I eat. There’s always multiple pie options! Us women of the family would then close out the night by rummaging through newspapers comparing Black Friday deals.

IMG_2788

For Thanksgiving this year everything was a little bit different. I woke up at a fairly reasonable time and spent the day slowly getting ready while watching Youtube videos. I’m used to having a Thanksgiving lunch instead of a Thanksgiving dinner so I had more time than I knew what to do with. At 3:00 I met the rest of the students in my study abroad group for a boat ride down the River Thames. We got off the boat when we reached Greenwich, a sort of sub-town in London. The town is the center of time, as it is the location that all time is measured from. But more importantly is this very location that the climax of the second Thor film takes place! Jonny Depp filmed a scene here as well for Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides! We walked around for a little while, admiring the beautiful Royal Naval College, before heading to the restaurant for dinner.

IMG_2790

The whole restaurant was really sweetly decorated, slightly Christmasy because the British don’t celebrate Thanksgiving (obviously). But I really appreciated the British touches, because at every place-setting there was a Christmas cracker! It reminded me of Christmas at home with my cousins! (For those of you who don’t know, a Christmas cracker is a long tube that pops when you pull it. Inside, one would usually find a paper crown, a piece of paper with a joke written on it, and some sort of small toy or gift.) Although, these ones were quite glittery and I’m pretty sure that I still have glitter on my coat even though this happened days ago. Oh well, I like glitter!

IMG_2792

Even though this Thanksgiving was quite different, I was still able to be surrounded by people while eating a delicious turkey dinner. I even topped off the night with a slice of pumpkin pie in true Thanksgiving fashion. I am very appreciative that my program coordinators organized a nice Thanksgiving evening, because otherwise I probably wouldn’t have celebrated (I don’t even think my small oven could cook a turkey).

Ultimately, I am just so grateful for this opportunity to study abroad in this incredible city. I have been giving the chance to see more of the world and I have quickly developed a true love for experiencing new places. Of course I miss my family and friends, all of whom I would have seen if I had gone home for Thanksgiving, but I think missing the holiday will only make Christmas more special. But for now, I will continue to enjoy the rest of my time here in London, because I know I am going to miss this city so much. I just wish I could bring my family and friends here instead… I think that could be a good compromise…

P.S. I’m sorry that this is an INCREDIBLY long-winded blog post…but sometimes I just start writing and I can’t stop… (This, however, is never the case with term papers…the struggle)

Update

Hi everyone!

I would like to apologize for not posting anything new over the past couple of weeks. I’ve been seeing and doing a lot of great things, but for the past couple of weekends I chose to fully immerse myself in my experiences instead of living behind the camera. I do love to take pictures and I do enjoy sharing my experiences with you all, but I think it’s sometimes best to take a little break from the continuous documentation of my activities.

I would also like to thank the Hurley’s, from the bottom of my heart, for kindly welcoming me into their home last weekend, and my parents for visiting me this past weekend. I had such a great time experiencing England with all of you! I hope you all enjoyed yourselves as well!

Here are some pictures that I took on my phone over the past couple of weeks:

IMG_2737
Glastonbury
IMG_2740
Exeter
IMG_2754
An emotional day for me… the last installment of the Hunger Games series….(I was also a spectator at the red carpet for the UK premiere a couple of weeks before)
IMG_2762
Opposing weather conditions (view from the Waterloo Bridge)
IMG_2766
Southbank Christmas Market
IMG_2768
The Imperial War Museum (my favorite museum in London thus far)
IMG_2781
Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park… The best festival I have ever been to! (I really wish I could come back to experience this every December)

There are some more pictures on my Instagram: edenjayne31

(You can also see the most recent Instagram posts on the sidebar of this blog)

The Lion King… Live!

You may or may not already know this, but The Lion King is one of my absolute favorite movies… and last night I got to see it come to life!

London is a hub for theater lovers, hosting endless plays and musicals throughout the city all year long. Yesterday I took advantage of the ‘day of’ ticket sale and scored a front row seat for The Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre! It was a great deal and a great opportunity so I was more than happy to wake up early in order to be one of the first people in line at the box office.

IMG_2720

The musical was absolutely incredible! I have always heard great things about the live performance, but I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it within the first two minutes of the show. The show opened up beautifully with a rendition of “The Circle of Life.” The song, along with a magnificent illusion of a sunrise, set the most wonderful and peaceful ambiance in the theatre. I looked like an overexcited child sitting in the front row with a massive smile stretching across my face…There was a class of probably ten years olds behind me, so I probably blended in well with them.

IMG_2719

The show was filled with the most incredible costumes, sets, and performers. The child in me never wanted to leave. In the second act, during the rendition of “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” I was in my absolute element. It brought back memories of the bus rides to and from elementary school, repeatedly singing it with my childhood best friend, Olivia. Good times, good times…

IMG_2718

I highly recommend this show to everyone (except for my sister, because she’s probably the only human being on the planet who doesn’t like The Lion King… I will never understand). I, of course, saw it in London, but I’m sure that it is just as incredible in New York City and wherever else it is performed. I would not wish to change a single thing about it… it was absolute perfection. Anyway, I will now return to listening to The Lion King soundtrack, thanks for reading about my weird obsession with a story about singing lions. 🙂

Reading Week: Prague and Berlin

This past week was reading week at King’s College London, marking the halfway point in the semester. KCL students were encouraged to use this week to catch up on or get ahead on readings and term papers, but naturally I used my freedom from lectures and seminars to, once again, travel outside of England.

This week my flatmates and I traveled to the cities of Prague and Berlin, spending a few days in each city. I absolutely loved both cities and I highly recommend both as vacation destinations! Being in Prague felt like being in a fairytale, it is such a beautiful city. Berlin has a tremendous amount of history, delicious food, and welcoming people (who have surprisingly sweet accents, not angry ones like many of us perceive from movies).

I decided to document a little bit of my travels in video form in order to give you a glimpse into these amazing cities.

P.S. Naturally I used a song from Disney’s “Tangled” since it is supposed to be set in Germany 🙂

Tour of the BBC Broadcasting House

The other day I had the super cool opportunity to take a break from endless essay writing to take of a tour of the BBC Broadcasting House in central London. I know what your thinking… essays while studying abroad? Yes, apparently there’s a lot more emphasis on the “study” part of this program than most people think.

IMG_2600

Anyway, the broadcasting house is the home to BBC News (domestic and world news) and BBC Radio. It was really cool to take a tour and see a little of what goes on behind the scenes of the media industry. I was mostly excited about the hands-on aspects of the tour because anyone who knows me knows how much I like to perform! Here is a video of me doing a fake news cast (the teleprompter moved slower than I read it, so at one point I got a little stuck, haha)!

At the end of the tour we had another opportunity to partake in a hands-on activity, but I didn’t participate in the radio play in order to give other people an opportunity.

IMG_2592

And for another insight into the broadcasting house, here is a small concert hall in which some amazing artists have done performances (like Ed Sheeran)! It’s small and the artists get paid very little (currently 71 pounds for a BBC performance), but it’s great for publicity!

IMG_2591

Fun Fact: The old broadcasting house (attached to the new one) was key for communication during WWII!

Exploring Windsor

Another weekend, another excursion! One of the things that I have been loving is taking trips to see various parts of England. London is absolutely amazing, but it’s often nice to take a break from the busy city. Although I only spent a short time there, the town of Windsor has definitely been one of my favorite “city escapes” thus far. Not only did it meet my expectations of a cute, traditional English town, but for a tourist destination it was quite peaceful (perhaps that’s a benefit of visiting in October).

For those of you who don’t know, Windsor is the home to Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite royal residence, Windsor Castle. She spends many weekends here and she happened to be in residence when my group and I toured the castle (we did not see her of course)! Of  course with any royal residence in the United Kingdom, the traditional “Changing of the Guards” occurs every morning at 11:00AM. It’s like a little parade every single day!

I absolutely loved exploring Windsor Castle. The grounds were so spacious and beautiful; just imagine growing up here!

The castle also has such incredible views! I absolutely loved seeing all of the fall foliage; it made me feel at home. Unfortunately, while in the center of London where I spend most of my time, I do not get to experience the beautiful autumn scenery like I do in New England. It was so comforting to see it again, even if just for a little while.

After exploring the castle, my flatmate and I ventured down a cute little alleyway in which we stumbled upon the Clarence Brasserie & Tea Room. We got sandwiches and the cutest pots of tea!

We then spent the rest of the day exploring the streets, shops, and parks and ultimately enjoying the beautiful autumn scenery.

Baking on a Budget (Peanut Butter Cookies and Nutella Brownies)

In an effort to meet new people during my stay here in London, I decided to join the King’s College London Baking Society. It’s a super dangerous group to be a part of due to the fact that one night, every other week, I indulge in more sweets than a human being should… but it’s delicious and fun! After all, it’s only every other week, so it’s fine, right?

kcl bc

I absolutely love baking, an activity I have been doing more frequently over the past year or so (I think it began when I realized how much fun it is to pipe frosting onto cupcakes… yes I am easily amused…). Unfortunately, baking isn’t the easiest thing to do with a small kitchen, few baking supplies, and a budget. But in an effort to be a part of this club I have been researching and trying different recipes that require few supplies and few ingredients.

For the first baking society gathering of the semester I made:

Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 Cup Peanut Butter

1 Cup Sugar

1 Large Egg (beaten)

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

  1. Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Line a baking tray with baking paper or lightly coat it with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Combine Peanut Butter and Sugar in a bowl
  4. Mix in the Beaten Egg
  5. Mix in the Baking Soda
  6. Roll the dough into small balls and place on the baking tray
  7. With a fork, press the dough balls flat
  8. Put in the oven for 10 minutes (It will take less time if you have a small oven, like I do.)
  9. Enjoy your delicious, golden-brown cookies and the peanut-buttery smell of your kitchen!

******** I apologize for not having a photo… you’ll just have to send me a photo when you make them!**********

For the second gathering I made:

Nutella Brownies

Ingredients:

1 1/4 Cup Nutella (One Standard-Sized Jar)

2 Large Eggs

1/2 Cup All-Purpose Flour

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Line a small baking pan (8×8 or 11×7) with baking paper or lightly coat pan with non-stick cooking spray
  3. Combine all ingredients and mix until smooth
  4. Pour into the baking pan and smooth out the mixture with the back of a spoon or spatula
  5. Put in the oven for 25 minutes (It will take less time if you have a small oven, like I do. Once you start to smell them it’s a good indication that they’re about done. If you poke it with a fork and it comes out clean, they are finished.)
  6. Let cool, then enjoy your delicious chocolate-hazelnut brownies!

IMG_2572

J’aime Paris!

Bonjour!

This past weekend I took a trip to Paris with my flat mates and I had an absolutely amazing time! I hope I can return to this beautiful city one day!

So in an attempt to try something new and exciting, I decided to create a video blog (vlog) of my weekend. It’s really not the best, but I didn’t want to waste the effort that I put into it by not uploading. This is my first attempt at creating a vlog, so I’m still in the learning process! Enjoy! Au revoir!

A Day in Brighton

Brighton, located in the south of England, is a beautiful beach town that attracts visitors from all over the country. It’s also a popular location for Londoners who are looking for a day out to shop, grab lunch, and walk around but want a break from the city. I recently had the pleasure of visiting the town with my study abroad group and I absolutely loved it!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The very first thing we did in Brighton was take a tour of The Royal Pavilion, a former royal residence (it’s now owned by the town) initially constructed for King George IV. It was fascinating to see and learn about its history, but the entire design  of the building is quite confusing. The outside was inspired by Indian architecture and the inside was inspired by Chinese design…but some rooms were quite plain… I didn’t quite understand the overall vision.

IMG_2542

Next we went to the Brighton Pier, a fun environment with food, games, rides, and a great view of the coastline. There, I had fish and chips for the first time since arriving in England and I’m so glad that I waited until I was in Brighton to eat one of Great Britain’s most popular dishes. The fish was so fresh and delicious (they catch it daily)!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_2529

After spending time on the pier, my friends and I walked along the pebble beach, enjoying the beautiful day.

IMG_2531

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to poke around in all of the adorable little shops (the downfall of a program trip is that we have to head back home rather early), but I had a nice day and I hope I get the chance to return!

Dover Castle

Exploring Dover Castle was such a wonderful experience! It was an incredibly beautiful sight to see with a magnificent view of the English Channel at the southernmost point in England. Not knowing much about Dover Castle before visiting, I learned so much about its medieval, royal, and military history. Not only did I explore the centuries old grounds and living quarters, but I was also able to explore the wartime tunnels. The tour highlighted the usage of the tunnels during WWII when they were still  a secret with very high security (we learned that Winston Churchill was once denied entry because he was issued the incorrect pass). The entire tour was extremely fascinating. I would love to revisit Dover Castle one day, as it has been one of my favorite experiences thus far.

Here is a slideshow that I put together of the pictures that I took while at Dover Castle. I could not choose which ones I wanted to display in this post, so I decided to display all of them along with some delightful music for your enjoyment.