Week Two in London!

Day One

The class I’m in is called Magic, Murder, and Mystery in London Literature. We had an excursion (field trip), where we went on a Jack the Ripper walking tour. Only two of the original sites still exist, and the public can only access one of them.

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Standing in the spot where Cathrine Eddowes was cruelly slain.

The whole experience was rather eerie because I guess I never really thought of the killings as just that…killings. I’ve always been fascinated by the legend and mystery and standing where those women died really made it real to me.

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Even the street art honors the women who were killed by the White Castle Murderer. I wonder if we would even care if the mystery had been solved?

After the walking tour, we ended up in a market where I got vegan dumplings for lunch and made a few little purchases. Then a group of five of us went in search of a charity shop. We found one and I got a dress, a bathing suit (with the original tags still on!) and flamingo patterned shorts.

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Honestly, these were some of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
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The signs around here are amazingly funny.
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Little stands like this are all over the place!

Day Two

There was a tour of Windsor, which is where the royal wedding was and where the Queen lives most of the time.

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Here’s a quick look at the castle.

Honestly, I was not impressed. The castle was beautiful but the lines were long and what little we were able to see of the castle was so blatantly staged for tourists that it hurt. I almost wish it had been similar to a museum. We were not allowed to use our cameras/take photos while inside, otherwise, I would have included some photos for you all.

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Check out this view!

I tried gelato for the first time and I’m not sure if I did or didn’t like it, honestly. A group of us went out on the town for the night.

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Trying gelato for the first time! Chocolate fudge and oreo.

Day Three

The squad (Sydney, Jeff & Caleb) and I went into Hammersmith, which is about a ten-minute bus ride away. We originally went there to go grocery shopping, but that didn’t really happen.

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We walked down King Street, which was home to approximately 8 different charity shops, I was able to get some cute dresses and shirts for a good price. Then I said, “I could get a tattoo today” and Jeff said he would get one with me, so we walked to Hammersmith Tattoo and asked if they could fit us in. They could. So I got a tattoo. By the time we were done getting tattoos, the grocery store had closed, so we did have to go to Asda (Walmart).

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Before!
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After! It means ‘God is greater than the ups and the downs.’

Day Four

We toured Oxford, it took two buses, one incredibly crowded train, and three hours to get there.

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One of the first buildings designed by legendary architect Christopher Wren. This is where Oxford held graduations for years.

This tour was much better than the Windsor one. The university and the town are so intertwined with each other that you think you’re on college grounds and turn a corner onto a commercial street.

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The buildings were so beautiful. It was crazy to realize that some of them are older than the USA.

I was able to see a few locations from the filming of the Harry Potter movies, specifically the staircase and the Great Hall from the first movie when they go to get sorted into their houses.

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On the set of Harry Potter. (Not really, but that would be cool.)
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The Great Hall! Students are actually required to eat here the first two years of their college career.

Day Five

It was a rather laid back day. Class resumed, and after class, I went to the gym. Then I watched Netflix and did homework.

Day Six

For class, we went on a Harry Potter Walking Tour. This involved walking around London and going to the few locations in the city where they filmed outside of the studio.

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The bank that inspired Gringotts.

We saw the first location of the Leaky Cauldron, as well as another location of it and a flat that Harry stayed in.

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The Leaky Cauldron, from the Philosopher’s Stone.
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The Leaky Cauldron and Harry’s flat from the Order of the Pheniox.

After class, a group of us made our way to Platform 9 3/4 to get the famous picture. We waited in line for an hour 

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Can you tell which house I’m in?
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It’s Gryffindor.

Then we went to McDonald’s for lunch and dipped into the British Museum before coming back to campus. While at King’s Cross, I ran into my friend, Jenny, who I’ve seen more in London than I have since we graduated high school. What a small world.

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The shelves were probably four stories high!

Day Seven

We all went out to the Toy Shop for a cocktail night and happy hour. It was fun hanging out with everyone. Otherwise, the day was rather relaxed and homework filled.

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Did someone say ‘two for one’? More like two for fun!
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Week One in London!

Day One

I arrived at the airport earlier in the day and was brought back to campus with a few other students. On my first day here, I went to the local shop to purchase an Oyster Card, which is how one pays for the public transit system. I then learned how to use the bus and get to Asda (the British version of Walmart) to purchase groceries. The rest of the day was spent unpacking and exploring campus before going to the Welcome Dinner.

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Flying somewhere over Canada.

 

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The campus library! Isn’t it gorgeous?

Day Two

I went through orientation and registration. I now have an official Roehampton Student ID! I went on an official campus tour as well, I’ve got about half of campus down, the other half is still kind of confusing to me. I met up with some people and we ended up back at Asda getting groceries we had forgotten previously. When we got back to school we wandered around campus and explored the library before hanging out and playing card games well into the night. The people that I went to Asda with this day are now people I hang out with every day and are very much lifelong friends.

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The view of central London from the top floor of the library.

Day Three

We spent several hours in Central London. I learned how to get to the local train station, which is about a ten-minute walk from campus. I saw the London Bridge, the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Big Ben (which is under construction, of course) and the London Eye, as well as countless other monuments and old buildings. I am slowly becoming an expert in public transportation!

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Outside the Tower of London, which I will be touring in week two!
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After walking around for hours, we found a little pizza place. Yes, I ate this entire thing.
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Other than Asda, this was the first time we hung out as a group. Going from left to right, I introduce you to Jeff, Caleb, myself, and Sydney. We didn’t know it then, but we’re all pretty much connected at the hip now! It feels like I’ve known these people for much longer than just a week.

Day Four

I ended up joining a group and we went to Hyde Park. While there, we rented rowboats and rowed around a man-made lake for an hour. When we were done, we walked around to find a place for lunch. The restaurant that we stopped at had spinach, chickpea, and fettuccini “meat” balls and spaghetti, which I loved! We took the tube (subway) back to our area of London. I ended the night with a game of frisbee with a bunch of cool people! I was worried coming in that I would be lonely since I didn’t know anybody else who was studying at my school. Honestly, though, making friends has been pretty easy! A lot of people who came here also came alone, so we’re all just trying to get to know each other. Most everybody is kind, generous and genuine.

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The view of the lake and a really weird looking building.
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My veggie “meat” balls. They were honestly some of the best things I have ever eaten.
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Experiencing the Tube for the first time!

Day Five

The first day of class. I’m in a literature course that focuses on how London has been depicted through books, specifically the Magic, Murder, and Mystery of the city. Class runs from 9:00-13:00, Monday through Thursday. It seems long but we get two breaks to stretch, get snacks, and use the loo. My professor is originally from California and has been in London for just over a decade. She’s very nice. After class, a group of us went looking for a charity shop (thrift store). The original one we wanted is no longer in business and the other one we found, the owner was out for lunch. I stopped at a post office to buy stamps and was blown away by how expensive they are. Don’t ask, I don’t want to talk about it. I bought a gym membership since I’m here for so long!

Day Six

Getting up for class is rough, and not having caffeine in the morning is worse. I had to get a coffee on our first break because I kept nodding off. Class went by really fast and afterward, I quickly worked on a presentation. Then I went to the gym. Then I got ready for the Hidden Pubs of London Tour. It wasn’t as fantastic as I wanted to be, but I did see a lot of beautiful old buildings and hear some crazy ghost stories, including one that inspired J.K. Rowling’s Nearly Headless Nick. We ended the tour at a gin palace and after I ordered my gin and tonic I realized that I didn’t like gin. I drank it though. On our way back to the station, we stopped at McDonald’s. The chips (fries) here are the same, and they have veggie burgers. The veggie burger I got was NOT good. I’ll try the spicy one next time, but if that one isn’t good I will just stick to the chips.

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While we were waiting for our tour guide, I found a telephone booth!
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This church is haunted by an evil French queen. It was also destroyed in the Blitz and now acts as a memorial to the lives and the old London that the war destroyed.
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Acting like I liked the gin and tonic I ordered.

Day Seven

I presented in class about Jack the Ripper and we watched a movie about him. After class I went to a quaint little event that the Study Abroad Team at my university put on for us; tea and cake. The cake I tried was vegan chocolate and it was so good! The tea was also very good, except that it was hot and humid and I was drinking a warm beverage. While at the social, a group of us decided to spontaneously go into the city and ride the London Eye. I’ve really taken to doing things spontaneously, as I used to do before my life required organization. We ordered our tickets online with a student discount. I was expecting the cost to be £50 but it was actually only £15, which was a relief, though I probably would have done it anyways. The Eye was pretty cool but not as great as I expected it to be, given how talked up the attraction is. We roamed around the city afterward to find a doughnut shop in Soho. It was the most expensive doughnut I’ve ever had, but it was incredibly rich and the frosting was amazing.

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If you look closely, you can see Big Ben getting worked on in the background. Fun fact: Big Ben is actually the name of the bell. The structure is actually named Elizabeth Tower.
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Check out this view!
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A peanut butter, chocolate doughnut! The store also had doughnuts the size of my head.

 

 

That’s it for week one! Week two will be coming soon, and with some even crazier stories than week one.

Review for EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING

Everything, Everything by Nicola YoonThis book redefines the YA genre. This inspirational layout is different from any other book I’ve read. EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING is easy to read and heart touching. I think I would have given it a 6/5 if I hadn’t had already seen the movie. (Don’t be mad! It was mother/daughter bonding.)
On the note of already seeing the movie (which I also recommend), it was intriguing to see how the directors adapted the IM, texting, and illustrations from the book to the big screen.
The illustrations really allow the reader to get into the head of Maddy, the protagonist, by seeing the world how she sees it. They also break up the text in ways that make the reading very fast.

Overall, I give it a 5/5.

ABOUT

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting and cameraI’m Susan Arnold and I’m a twenty-something Michigan based photographer.

I started doing photography seriously in 2013 but began taking photos in 2006 when I got my first camera as a birthday present. I am currently pursuing a bachelor of science in photography from Northern Michigan University.

I focus on multiple types of photography, primarily portraiture and landscape. If you book with me, I offer competitive prices for on-location shoots (I will travel if you need me to).

I hope you enjoy scrolling through my views of the world.

 

You can find me on social media here:

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BOOKINGS

Portrait Sessions – $125

  • 2 hours
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Engagement Sessions – $250

  • 3 hours
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Weddings – $1500

  • all day shooting on location
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Review for ‘The Song of Achilles’

The Song of Achilles by Madeline MillerDNF!

I did not even make it 100 pages into this book. I tried, really I did. There were entire passages of description that could have been taken out. The book could have been much shorter if, rather than describe every unimportant detail, Miller had just gotten to the point. I get it, show don’t tell, but readers do not need to see every detail. I’m truly disappointed because I had such high hopes for this book and it let me down.

It was too slow paced and I really just couldn’t get into it.

 

I give it a 1/5 star rating.

‘Artemis’ Review

Artemis is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. I borrowed the copy I read but you can bet that I am going to buy myself one. Yeah, it was that good. (5/5 stars.) At one point, I even dreamed that I lived in the city on the moon.

One thing that I really loved about the book was the writing style. This is the first I’ve read any of Andy Weir’s work, so I didn’t know anything about his style going in. In Artemis, the style is very realistic, it’s practically stream of consciousness. It seemed as if the protagonist, Jazz, was having a conversation with the reader, or giving a confession. At times, the fourth wall was broken to actually address the reader. It worked very well for Jazz and her personality. I think that it was the best way to go about the setting, as well. Very few people have ever been to the moon. The way that Jazz interacts with the reader, and how realistically the story was written, make it much easier for the readers to understand how life in Artemis and life on the moon (yes, they’re different, a city has politics and the moon has different gravity) work.

Something that was obvious from the get-go was how much research Andy Weir put into this book.

Or, he’s really good at making things up.

There was a lot of chemistry and math, a lot of information about welding and physics and aerodynamics. It blew me away how tediously he researched everything. I learned a lot about gravity and space travel. The novel didn’t seem too information heavy, either, which is usually hard to do given how much explaining is needed for the general population to understand not only the basics of how Artemis works as a city, but how Jazz functions in her day to day life and how she completes her mission that compels the rest of the story.

I also enjoyed how diverse the story was. Jazz is Saudia Arabian, all of Artemis is possible because of Kenya, the aluminum is made on the moon by a Brazillian company. Honestly, I think the only recurring white character is Rudy, and he’s a rude Canadian (a character type that we don’t usually see…I’m talking about Canadians, not rude Canadians). It was very refreshing to read a book where the protagonists aren’t white Americans in a post-apocalyptic world or a John Green novel.

What? I’m not salty.

There was one thing that did confuse me while reading, though. Sporadically, throughout chapters, there were emails between Jazz and a character named Kelvin. This isn’t much of a spoiler, but if you don’t want to know anything AT ALL about the book, then skip this paragraph. These emails start off in the past to help establish Jazz and Kelvin’s relationship, as well as help explain how Jazz ended up where she is at the start of the novel. While reading, I thought that the emails were in real-time, which confused me because the events that Jazz relayed to Kelvin didn’t add up. If the emails had been time-stamped or said that they started 9 to 10 years previously, it would have cleared up the confusion that I had. I didn’t realize that the emails were taking place in the past until they caught up with the present, over halfway through the book.

The reason that I wanted to read Artemis is because Artemis is my favorite Greek goddess, so there is really no connection between the two other than the name of the city. Though this wasn’t a story about Greek heroes, I was not let down at all. This book gave me a rollercoaster of a ride and a rollercoaster of emotions. I recommend you pick up a copy.