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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
On the way to campus, we ended up at the National Gallery Museum!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Caleb, Sydney and I took Jeff out for a goodbye brunch.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!
We did almost all of Paris.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
That’s it for week one! Week two will be coming soon, and with some even crazier stories than week one.