Week Five in London!

Day One

We went to Hampton Court with the social program. It was awesome. We walked all around the palace, saw the King’s apartment and the Queen’s apartment. We went through a maze and saw the magic garden. It was also sweltering hot.

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Check out this fireplace! It’s been used to cook the King’s food since Hampton Court became a palace. Look at the soot all the way up to the ceiling.

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What an average menu would look like for the King.

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This clock, in Clock Court, is based on the moon.

Day Two

Syd and I attempted to see the Changing of the Gaurd, but the city was so packed and it was so hot, that all we saw were the sweaty backs of heads.

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Can you see how many people were there?

After that failure, we tried to find the vegan market and also failed. The market was closed for Pride, which we ended up in the middle of. We sort of gave up after that. It was so hot that I was sitting in my kitchen (using the WiFi) and sweating. I did homework and watched Netflix for the rest of the day.

Day Three

This was one of the greatest days of the trip. The social program took us to Bath and Stonehenge in an AIR CONDITIONED coach! Sleeping and studying on that coach was such a nice time, I never wanted it to end. I wasn’t sure what to expect at Bath, but the museum was really cool. There was an audioguide that explained all of the artifacts, there were the spring and the bath themselves. I even got to try some of the magical healing water. It was so hot! 40 degrees Celcius…that’s about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Stonehenge was phenomenal. I was expecting it to be underwhelming, so seeing it bigger and grander than I imagined was awesome! If you ever have the chance to go there, I highly recommend it!

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The baths are lined with lead, so all of the water is extremely contaminated. Not only is it too dangerous to ingest, it is also too dangerous to even touch!

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Please, if you are ever able and love history and mysteries, go here!

Day Four

I started the morning booking tickets for the sky garden. My class had a Mrs. Dalloway excursion, where we followed the path Virginia Woolf laid out in the novel. After class, I went to the Barbican Museum to see a Dorothea Lange exhibit and see the famous Migrant Mother. A lot of Lange’s work was phenomenal and some of it was not very good at all. I ended the night by going to trivia night. We didn’t come in dead last, so it was a great time!

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We think this is the area where Mrs. Dalloway lived.

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We stopped at Hatchards, the oldest bookstore in London!

Day Five

I went to class and did some homework before trecking to Camden Market for a little bit and then going to a Georgian restaurant and trying the acharuli khachapuri, recommended by Sydney. Essentially, the meal is a bread boat filled with egg, cheese, and butter. It was incredible!

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If you can eat this, do it. If you can’t find something similar that is allergen friendly.

Day Six

The last excursion for class. We went to Highgate Cemetary and walked around looking at the graves of famous people. After class, I went to the Natural History Museum and the London Museum. I saw the Rosetta Stone, a life-like T-rex, and Queen Cleopatra. I tried bubble tea for the first (and last) time. Then a group of us sought out a place to watch the game (World Cup). Wednesday was the first and last time I really cared about soccer. England lost to Croatia, who I thought played a little bit dirty towards the end.

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The whale!

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The Queen.

Day Seven

After class, I spent four hours in the library writing my papers. Then I went to the gym. Then Caleb, Sydney and I booked tickets to Dover to see the sea, and tickets for Incredibles 2, because it’s FINALLY releasing over here!

Week Four in London!

Day One

The final class meeting for session one. We had a literary scavenger hunt throughout central London. We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, luckily, we came in second place!

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From left to right: myself, Tyler, Megan, Ally, and Isabella. We were on a mission to win!

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We found St. Paul’s [Actor’s] Church

After the scavenger hunt, a group of us went with Dr. G to a pop-up exhibition of graphic designs that helped create the Harry Potter cinematic universe, it was really cool to see all of the little details that went into creating the films.

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Right around the corner from this little gallery is an all vegetarian/vegan menu pub. I will 100% be going there!

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This place had Hogwarts letters posted EVERYWHERE.

On the way to campus, we ended up at the National Gallery Museum!

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Monet.

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Van Gogh.

After returning to campus and doing my laundry, a group of us went out to find a pub showing England in the world cup and to celebrate for those who were only staying for the first session. Eventually, we ended up at the Toyshop, which we had gone to for the cocktail night. After the game, there was a live band that played until close.

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The squad.

 

Day Two

I slept in for the first time in what felt like months, then went to the library to work on editing some photography with Jeff. After that, Sydney, Caleb, Jeff and I hunted down Abbey Road and Baker Street.

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If you didn’t know, this is an actual road, that gets used. We were literally dodging buses and cars.

We took the bus back from central London during rush hour, it took forever and I think I fell asleep. The day ended with all of us plus Ally and Carter watching Back to the Future in my kitchen.

Day Three

I took another lazy day. I slept in, finished a movie and watched five episodes of Brooklyn 99. Said goodbye to some good friends. Hung out with some good friends; we fed the birds and narrowly missed being attacked by some swans and geese. Then, Sydney made dinner for all of us. I also finally beat level 47 of Mr. Bean, which I had been stuck on for over a month.

Day Four

Caleb, Sydney and I took Jeff out for a goodbye brunch.

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Check out this delicious vegetarian breakfast burrito.

Afterward, we dodge a crowded bus, walked through a park, found a weird Santa toy and ended up feeding the birds again. There is a duck that will eat out of your hand. Sydney named her Stacy.

Day Five

The first day of class for session two. I’m in a writing class titled Hidden London. We explore the city and works about it and then write about London. This class has a bit more demanding workload than the last one, but it still seems fun. Tyler and I grabbed a table in the library after class to work on final papers from the other class and homework from our new class. I said goodbye to Jeff. Then a group of us went to see Oceans 8. It was okay.

Day Six

Had class and spent some time in the library. Then went on a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour with the social programme. This one was a bit better than the one that I went on in my session one class.

Day Seven

Happy fourth to all of my friends and family across the pond! My class went on an excursion to the White Chapel area of London. If you’re ever in the city and want to look at some awesome street art, check out Brick Lane.

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Save the bees.

We also visited the White Chapel Gallery, which was doing an exhibit on Dead Negatives of the Great Depression, focusing on photographers who shot for the FSA.

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The hole in the photos are from a hole-punch because the photos were deemed unsuitable/unusable for the propaganda.

After class, I tried some charity shops in search of clothes that won’t cook me in this odd heat wave (I packed for chilly, rainy London, not 80s-90s, sunny and droughty). I also went grocery shopping, as I had no food for breakfast. Pray for rain.

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.

‘There’s Someone Inside Your House’ Review


I was thoroughly spooked.

The book was great until the end. Like I said, I was thoroughly spooked and had to speed read the entire thing so that I could actually fall asleep. (I still ended up having nightmares after I finished it.)

When I was reading, the story felt very well paced, it wasn’t rushed and it didn’t try to build up for too long. Yet, when I got to the end, I feel like there were a number of problems that went unresolved. I want to know what happened to the town and the people impacted by the murders. I want to know how the protagonist grows and moves on. I want to know how her relationship with her parents evolves.

There are so many things that I want to know, but never will.

The book just ends too abruptly for me. It’s a satisfying ending, but there are so many things that could have been explained.

 

Overall, I gave it a three out of five stars.

‘Turtles All the Way Down’ Review

John Green possesses a way with words that makes me contemplate life every time I read one of his works. In ‘The Fault in Our Stars’ it was “Some infinities are bigger than other infinities” in ‘Looking for Alaska’ it was “How long is an instant?” (a quote which actually inspired a story I plan to write). In ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ it was “No one ever says goodbye unless they want to see you again.”

Usually, when I read John Green books, I fall in love with the story but cringe the entire time I read it because I cannot stand his writing style. Yet, in ‘Turtles All the Way Down’ I did not cringe. I really enjoyed Green’s writing style for this one. I am sure if it is the same as his previous books and I have just matured or if he is writing differently now that he has finally returned.

I loved the protagonist’s name: Aza. Named because her parents wanted to give her the whole alphabet, wanted to give her all of the possibilities it had to offer. If that’s not romantic I don’t know what is.

I found Aza to be incredibly relatable, and I don’t know if that is something that I should be wary of (read the story to know why). The way her mind works reminds me of how my mind works. I think that’s why I enjoy writing. When I write, I create a physical proof of my thoughts, I get them out of my head and free up storage. Though my thoughts are not as severe as Aza’s I can relate to feeling trapped in one’s own mind.

Daisy, Aza’s best friend, gives a good sense of reality, even though she pretty much lives in her fan fiction. Her and Aza get into a fight at one point throughout the novel, and it was a reality check to me–the reader, not just Aza. That’s something rare in a book, at least how I see it.

The ending was justified, which is something I think that John Green is good about doing. He never creates a far-fetched ending. The ending was practical and realistic and made sense for all of the characters involved, which is something I enjoyed.

This book. I really don’t know how to explain it. But it reached me. Now, as I’m writing this review, the plot and the words are spiraling in my mind. I can only think of the book. How it will stay with me.

Final rating: 5/5

‘Beauty Queens’ Review

Rating: 2/5 stars
This is also a book that I listened to from Overdrive.

Don’t let the two star rating discourage you, this book was good AND funny. I suggest listening to it on audiobook, the author, Libba Bray, is the one who reads it. She turned it into a production, doing multiple different voices and even taking commercial breaks. It was hilarious! I wish every audiobook was made into a production like Bray made ‘Beauty Queens’.

This book is ‘Lord of the Flies’ meets America’s Next Top Model. I couldn’t put it down–er, I couldn’t stop listening to it.

If it was so good, why did I give it such a low rating, you’re wondering.

Though I couldn’t stop listening, I couldn’t get over how much of a parody this book was. Everything was to be taken with a grain of salt. I didn’t get anything out of this book. If the characters didn’t have an alternative agenda when they joined the pagent (like taking it down from the inside or being the first ****spoiler!**** trans person to win the pagent *end spoiler*) then they were just dumb pagent bimbos, unfortuenately.

If this book had been written in a more serious manner, it would have recieved a higher rating from me.

‘Batman: Nightwalker’ Review

Let me start this review by saying that Batman is my favorite superhero, so I went into this extremely excited to have a fresh take on the Caped Crusader.

Ultimately, I was disappointed. I enjoyed many parts of the book, how little hints of who Bruce would become were woven throughout the chapters, but I’ve seen this plot before, specifically in DC Icons, #1 Wonder Woman: Warbringer. Similarly to Warbringer, there is a rich kid whose father loves their friend more than them in Nightwalker, we also had a similar plottwist involving one of the rich characters (which I won’t describe) in Warbringer, though the plottwist their is more important than here.

Also, every time Madeleine, the antagonist, was described, the words ‘lushous lashes’ followed. I get it, she has good lashes, but every time she is mentioned in the story I don’t need to be reminded of it.

The initial description of Arkham Asylumn reminds me of the prison in Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium. And the VR gym that Bruce goes to has to be invented soon because I want to go to a gym like that!

I am disappointed that Nightwalker recycled Warbringer’s plot and I am really hoping that Catwoman: Soulstealer doesn’t do the same, otherwise this series of four could turn into the same book with different titles and characters. Here’s to hoping that Catwoman can redeem the DC Icons series.