5 (More) Things that I noticed about London

This is part two of my “Things that I noticed about London.” If you did not read part one please click here .

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The contrast of old and new architecture is beautiful.

London is an extremely old city, and it is not uncommon to see well preserved buildings that are 300, 600, 900 years old (significantly older than the United States)! The city continues to develop, creating modern skyscrapers that are so creatively designed (such as the ‘Shard’ which reaches a shattered point at the top, imitating shards of glass). Walking around the city one won’t find themselves in a strictly new section or a strictly old section. Both new and old architecture can be seen mixed throughout the city. One of my most humbling experiences was when I was standing at the Tower of London (nearly a thousand years old) looking across the river at incredible skyscrapers).

There isn’t any organization to the way the streets are laid out.

Back to the fact that London is an extremely old city, the streets are all intertwined; laid out in various directions. Due to the fact that the streets were incorporated over hundreds of years, the English did not lay them out in a strategic grid pattern like those in New York City. Although this can make traveling a bit confusing for tourists and newcomers, it also adds a bit of charm and incorporates a sense of adventure.

Delicious pastry is sold everywhere.

I’m not sure if the English have always had delicious pastry or if it’s because the Chunnel has provided a lot of French influence, but one can easily satisfy their sweet tooth in London. If you’re in London and you suddenly have a craving for something sweet, considering stopping by an outdoor market, a cafe, a quick stop restaurant (such as Pret A Manger), or even a grocery store (they all have a section with a variety of freshly baked goods; from baguettes to doughnuts and everything in between).

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One must remain rather quiet on public transportation.

This does not mean you have to be silent, but locals expect their ride on public transportation to remain peaceful. If you’re having a conversation with your friend, keep your voices low unless you want to receive dirty looks from those around you. Once I even witnessed a man telling a younger man to be quiet while on the bus.

Walking 30 minutes to and from school or work is quite common.

During my semester abroad, I chose to walk to class everyday rather than spend money on the tube. I quickly realized how common it was to walk long distances to get around the city, and I grew accustomed to it quite easily. People in London are quite fit, as walking easier than driving and cheaper than taking the tube. I often saw business people walking with small suitcases and students carrying large bag packs in order to hold everything they would need for the day. Of course at 8:30 AM on a Monday morning I would have to convince myself to step outside and endure the walk, but once I looked up I was reminded how lucky I was to be there and enjoyed the view all the way to class.

 

 

 

 

5 Things that I noticed about London

During my stay in London I kept a journal that I sporadically wrote in… At one point (within the first month) I had made a list of random things that I had noticed about London and here are just a few. Stay tuned for part two…

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Nobody knows which side of the ‘foot path’ (sidewalk) we are supposed to walk on.  

           In most cities there is a universal understanding that one walks on the right side, but in a city where the cars drive on the left side everyone gets a little bit confused. Do we follow suit with the cars and walk on the left? Add in a few thousand tourists from all over the world and we just have a bunch of people nearly bumping into each other on every street corner.

Everything is on platforms.

I felt like I always had to take a step up wherever I went. The bus seats are on platforms, many toilets are on platforms (why is that necessary?), and from one room to the next in shops and restaurants there is often a single step upward.

The computer key boards are different.

The keyboards aren’t drastically different, just an exchange and reordering of some symbols. Although, it was enough to slow me down quite a bit the first time I tried to do homework on the computer in my university’s library.

Restaurants and grocery stores with a wall of prepared foods are extremely common.

This is super convenient for business people on the go and students on a budget. Rather than sitting down at a restaurant for lunch, one can just stop in to one of these shops and purchase an inexpensive pre-made sandwich or soup.

Food is cheaper if you order it as take-away.

In many of the quick stop restaurants like Pret A Manger, I often chose take away and ate my food elsewhere rather than sitting in because it was cheaper. I believe there is an eating-in tax that causes the price difference but I’m not entirely sure. Besides, I would much rather eat outside in the Somerset House courtyard on a beautiful sunny day than eat in.

I’m Home!

Hello everyone,

I am sad to say that my semester abroad is officially over… it was such a wonderful experience in which I learned a lot. I have definitely ‘caught the travel bug’ and I look forward to exploring more parts of this amazing world in the future! Although I’m sad that my stay in London is over, I am happy to be spending the holidays at home with my family and friends. I look forward to catching up with everyone over the next few weeks!

Happy holidays everyone!

Enjoy this short video blog of my journey home:

 

The Most Magical Day: Harry Potter Studio Tour

Yesterday I finally got to take a tour of the Harry Potter Studio in England and it was such an incredibly magical experience!

I just had to share this amazing experience with you all in video form! I know I am going love looking back on this for years to come!

Here are just a couple final thoughts that I failed to mention in the video blog:

1) I loved how all of the of the sets were decorated to depict the wizarding world during Christmas time! I feel so lucky to have had the chance to tour in December!
2) Seeing the sets was such a cool experience. I spent most of the time trying to imagine what it was like during filming, something that both fascinates and excites me. I wish I could have been part of the movie making magic!

I know it’s longer than my other videos, but I promise it is way more fun! Enjoy!

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.

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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.

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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!

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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:

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Glastonbury
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Exeter
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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)
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Opposing weather conditions (view from the Waterloo Bridge)
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Southbank Christmas Market
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The Imperial War Museum (my favorite museum in London thus far)
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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)