Week Six in London!

This post is long overdue.

Day One

The social programme took us on a Thames tour. We floated around London for a bit before we went down the river to Greenwich.

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The Tower of London as viewed from the Thames.

I thought it was much further away than it turned out to be, as it was still in London (zone 3, to be exact). We got off the boat and walked up to the observatory, there was even a camera obscura there, which was so cool! #photographygeek

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Check out this view!

The rest of the attraction was rather boring, so Sydney and I made our way down to the town and grabbed dinner before wandering to a market that was closing for the night. At that disappointment, we decided to walk through the tunnel under the Thames. It was so cold down there!

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Under the Thames.

When we came out on the other side, we took the Tube to Little Venice. It was underwhelming, but I guess we only saw a small portion of the canal; it had started to down poor (for the first time since we had arrived) and we quickly hopped on a bus to watch the rain. We took the bus all the way back to campus, which was about a two-hour ride, but we got to see a lot of the city.

Day Two

I started the day by going to see Incredibles 2 with Syd, Caleb and Ashlyn, because if FINALLY released in England. I was so afraid that the movie wouldn’t do itself justice, but it turned out to be SO GOOD. After that, Caleb, Syd and I went out to the Mayfield Lavender Farms. It smelled absolutely amazing and seeing all of the pollinators happy made me happy. We spent a really long time there doing a photo shoot and exploring through the flowers. When we finally left, hours later, we were all craving Pizza Express. I ate an entire pizza. By. My. Self.

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This place was so beautiful.

Day Three

Caleb, Syd and I took the train out to Dover, on the English Channel. We hiked for about seven miles over to the cliffs and along them for a bit. The views were incredible and the castle there was so picturesque. After hiking, yelling at tourists, and eating some icecream, we settled down at the beach. I dove straight into the water and, other than the fact that it was salty, it was pretty much just like Lake Superior…cold. There were jellyfish, too. We were hungry after a few hours so we left the beach but I guess that everything in Dover closes at 4 on Sundays so we had to wait until we got back to London.

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Enjoying the view.

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Don’t let the sunshine fool you, the water was very cold!

Day Four

I gave a presentation in class that was worth 30% of my grade, I think I did pretty well on it. After that, I submitted some final papers for class. Ashlyn, Syd and I went to get high tea. It was so good! I had tea, cake, a scone with some of the best jam I’ve ever tasted, and a smoothie.

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My feast.

Day Five

I went to see the Changing of the Guard, and I saw more than I did the other time I attempted to see it, but it still wasn’t much. Then we went to a mac and cheese place that is Facebook famous. The mac was so good! I got the pesto/tomato flavor. Wonderful. After that we went to get watermelon ice cream, which was also Facebook famous. We ended the night by seeing Phantom of the Opera…I wasn’t a fan.

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Some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had.

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The icecream was more like sherbert than anything else. I’m pretty sure it was vegan because it’s made out of watermelon juice and lime juice. You can check out the ingredients on Google.

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Sitting in the nosebleeds.

Day Six

I did homework and then went out with Caleb to do a photoshoot. We went all over London. We started in the Spinny, walked along the Thames, went to Soho, the Sky Garden, St. Pauls, and across the river from the Tower of London. In Soho, we went to a vegan pub and I got to try tofish and chips. I was afraid I wouldn’t like it because I usually don’t like tofu, but it was really good! The Sky Garden was awesome and the views were so incredible. Walking up to St. Paul’s, you couldn’t see it because there was a hedge along the street, when I finally entered the green, I was breathless. The building was GORGEOUS.

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Fish-less fish and chips. It was SO good.

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We saw Tower Bridge open while up in the Sky Garden. Apparently, it’s good luck to see the bridge raised.

Day Seven

We went to a ballpit club. It was smelly. I was imagining slides and a huge ballpit, but it was rather small.

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The colors of the ballpit club were really pretty, even though it smelled like B.O.

Day Eight

I packed up my things and finished watching Brooklyn 99. We went to Richmond Park, which was one of the vastest areas of land I had seen in England, other than the countryside. Then we had a potluck of all of our leftover food, so we wouldn’t waste any of it. There was a lot of frozen veggies. I said goodbye.

Day Nine

I woke at four in the morning, took the Tube to the airport and left England. Oddly enough, the first time I traveled alone during the whole trip was on my way back to the States.

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Goodbye, London.

Week Three in London!

Day One

It was a typical London day, rather chilly. I had caught a cold and this was the first day it hit me. After class, a small group of us went to the Tate. I ran into Jenny again, which was so funny. We were there for an hour and a half before it closed and we were only able to get through one floor. I saw a Picasso and quite a few Warhol’s with my own eyes.

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Picasso

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Warhol. I was so excited to see this because I had studied it in one of my classes last semester!

Day Two

The social program took us to the Tower of London. We walked around and saw some staged kingly rooms (surprisingly, decor from the 13th century reminds me heavily of That 70s Show).

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The bridge behind me is often referred to as the London Bridge, but it’s actually the Tower Bridge.

We were able to see the crowned jewels. There was a diamond the size of my palm! We saw many other crowns and precious jewels and swords and batons as well. After the crown jewels, we saw some Royal Guards. I felt bad, gawking at them like they weren’t even human. Some kids were miss behaving and making fun of the guards and climbing on the fence and the guards screamed “Get off the fence!” and it was the only sounds they made. I think the kids peed themselves.

Sydney and I had to leave before we were able to see the torture chambers (😢) so we could make it to our train to Paris (😀) on time. The trip to Paris, via bullet train, took only 2.5 hours. We went with a group of ten, which eventually split to a group of six and a group of four. The hostel we were staying in was a five-minute walk from the train station. We could see Notre Dame and the Effiel Tower from our room!

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The view from our hostel window! Notre Dame is on the right and the Effiel Tower is in the middle.

Day Three

We did almost all of Paris.

In.

One.

Day.

I don’t think my feet have ever been so sore. I started the day at the hostel desk, purchasing a ticket for the Catacombs. The catacombs took a while to get through, due to the line and the stairs. The staircases up and down were spiral and there was so many of them that I actually got dizzy each way. Walking to the bones required walking through ancient passageways; they were constructed so long ago that I actually felt tall in them. There was a room that was full of informational posters, and then you walked out the door and…bones. Skulls staring at you from all over. The air actually got heavier. It made me think of how many people have lived on this planet before me, and how many of them will never be remembered.

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Can you smile while getting your photo taken surrounded by a bunch of skeletons?

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This is only a small portion of the catacombs. There are 6 million bodies in there.

After the catacombs, my little group hopped on the train (London public transit is much better than Paris, I’ll have you know) and took the two stops to Notre Dame. It is right next to the Seine. The building is massive and incredibly beautiful; it baffles my mind how something so intricate could have been built by hand. The inside was just as, if not more, beautiful than the outside because you could clearly see the stain glass windows. There has been a building on that site since the eleven hundreds.

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One of the giant stained glass windows of Notre Dame.

After Notre Dame, we grabbed lunch at a little cafe. Then we decided to walk the twenty minutes to le Louvre. Do to having an appointment at the Effiel Tower, we were only able to be in La Musee du Louvre long enough to see the Mona Lisa. Honestly, she was not as impressive as she could have been, but that might have just been the mob around her.

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I managed to get to the front of the mob to grab this photograph.

When we finally figured out how to get out of the Louvre, we decided to walk to the Tower…45 minutes away. We high-tailed it across town, probably clocking 15 miles of walking by the end of the day. Our tour group of the tower met at 5:30 (we ended up leaving the tower at 9:30, four hours later…the lines were really long!). We climbed 700 stairs to check out the first two platforms. The first platform had a glass floor, which was awesome to look through! From the second platform, we were able to take an elevator to the top. Being at the top was amazing! We were able to take an elevator all the way down, praise the lord. When we finally left the tower, we grabbed dinner before the tower was supposed to sparkle. Sitting on the grass, staring up at the tower sparkle and lit against the night, it was simply magical.

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While running to the tower, we accidentally found the love lock bridge!

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Day Four

We went back to Notre Dame for brunch. It was the most expensive meal I’ve ever had, but I thought I’d better get everything I wanted to try in Paris because I doubt I will go back. I got a crepe, a latte, a hot chocolate, a small macaroon and a glass of champagne. I sipped and ate and listened to the bells of Notre Dame.

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A deliciously expensive breakfast.

Our train back to the hostel was delayed for around ten minutes. When we got back to the hostel we checked out and walked to the train station. After the English Channel lost power, the station was evacuated for 45 minutes, and a 2.5-hour delay, and approximately one of the most stressful days of my life, we made it back to London.

Day Five

I went to class and then went grocery shopping. London is going through a crazy heatwave, so I went to the gym to just be in an air-conditioned building. After the gym, a group of us went out to a trivia night.

Day Six

My class went on a Sherlock Holmes walking tour. Our guide was the sweetest old lady who knew so much about the detective that it blew my mind. When I got back to campus, I did my laundry and found a stray cat who let me pet it for approximately fifteen minutes, it was perfect. Then, the social programme took us to see Wicked! It was incredible. I 10/10 recommend it.

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St. Paul’s (Actor’s) Church, as featured in Sherlock Holmes as well as The Rivers of London!

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I was so excited to finally see Wicked! I’ve wanted to see it for years!

Day Seven

I pretty much took this day for myself. I’ve been so go-go-go that I needed a day to watch Netflix and Youtube for a few hours.

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.

My Testimony (of sorts)

I’m not sure if this will quality as an exact testimony; but, by the definition below, I think it applies.

TESTIMONY: a compilation of words that tells others about your faith

On April 18th of this year; my car that I use every day (to get to and from school, work, church, extracurriculars, etc.) died. Totally and completely dead…the engine fell out of the car because the cradle rusted through. Granted, this is fixable, but the cost to fix this problem is more money than the car is worth, and I would still need to buy a new car that could survive my college journey. Why do I need to buy a new car for college? Driving eight hours to and from college, along with Michigan weather and it’s unpredictable-ness, plus the age and mileage of the car…there is no way it would survive the first drive up.

Anyways, my car died on April 18th, dropping my family from three cars to two cars; we thought we could last, but we really couldn’t: transportation became a nightmare!

After three days of going crazy and being sad because I couldn’t even get myself to work, I got fed up and decided to turn to my friends.

I’m a member of a small group that my friend started; the members are all strong Christian girls who go to my school, but all who go to different churches. I wouldn’t know most of these girls without this small group. On Tuesday, I sent a text in our group message, explaining the situation and asking all of them to pray for my family that we find a car that will last me through college, and that we find it soon. One option my family was facing was buying two cars for me: one that would get me to school and work, but wouldn’t last me through college, and then I would have to buy another car for college; i.e. buying two cars within the the span of four months; something I could not afford!

So, I texted my small group. I also asked my youth group at church that evening. I probably asked thirty people that day to pray for me and my family.

For four days, my family and I had been struggling and constantly looking for a car that we could get our hands on.

The next morning, my dad found the exact car that I wanted and put a deposit on it; that night, we bought it.

I think that God wanted me to wait those four long days in order to strengthen my faith in Him; and those four days and the prayers and finding the car the next day really did strengthen my faith.