Sunday, January 25, 2015

Happy, Free, Confused, and Lonely in the Best Way.

If I were to sum up this whole week into one word it would be crazy.  There were times when I was super happy, then there were times when I was super sad.  I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "How in the world could you be sad when you are in London?  In London!"  To be quite honest, I think I know why people feel so lonely in big cities.  Unless you're Taylor Swift and have a bajillion best friends, big cities are daunting places.  They are full of strangers who have their own lives, and for the most part, take no interest into your own life.  That reason alone makes me especially grateful for my ever deepening relationship with God.  These past weeks I feel as if I've been tested in so many ways, I've been shown true love by my family and friends, and I know who I am through God.  Being in London alone has especially shown me that God is faithful no matter where you are or who you're with.

Now, back to what I actually did this past week.  I took a nice little (or not so little) stroll through Hyde Park.  There is just something about London's parks that I just adore.  From the little kids feeding the birds to the quiet streaming rivers, I have found a happy place in these parks.  Not to mention the sunsets are gorgeous!  

This week I saw Cara Delevingne.  That's right, Cara Delevingne.  She is the new face for Yves Saint Laurent so she did a promotion in Selfridges (a local department store).  The store happened to be a couple blocks away from my flat, so I got to see her!  First celebrity sighting in London was a success.  Oh and half of my face is in a selfie with her.  I know I'm dumb.

On Thursday night I went to mass at Westminster Abbey.  Part of me went to church to see the service, the other part went because if you went to church you didn't have to pay the admission fee.  I'm so happy I went though.  It was the 750th anniversary of Parliament, so both houses were there!  The choir was amazing, the church was beautiful, and I snuck a photo.  Shh... don't tell anyone.  

On Friday, I had a me day.  I explored all of the little stores I always pass, but never actually go into.  I drank a delicious latte, ate the best brownie I've ever had, and tried on dresses way to expensive for me to actually buy.  It was great.  Oh and I wore actual tennis shoes.  I'm including the mirror picture to prove to my parents that I indeed wore tennis shoes out and about.  And you know what?  They were so comfy.

On Saturday, I visited the Buckingham Palace and the Portobello Road Market.  At the palace, I saw the change of the guards!  Even though it was cold outside, I loved it.  After, I went to the market.  The market was in Notting Hill, and it just so happens to be the cutest place in London.  The streets are filled with pastel buildings, posh shops, and quaint restaurants.  I went to a restaurant called Bumpkin, and I fell in love.  It is filled with plants, delicious food, and happiness.  I ordered a latte and fish with chips.  So good.  So so good.  I then proceeded to eat a mini blackberry cake from a bakery named Ottolenghi.  One lie that I had been told before I left for London was that the food was gross.  Time and time again, that lie has been proven wrong, just so everyone is aware.  From the food to the beautiful streets, this was just a lovely day.

One thing I've learned over the past three weeks is that it's okay to be lost.  It's okay to be confused, and it's okay to be on a track you didn't have planned.  I've gotten lost plenty of times in the city, but I ended up finding myself in a really neat place.  The same goes for life.  I find a new part of myself every time I get lost, and I love it.  Until next time.


Sunday, January 18, 2015

Week Two is Treating Me Good.

Well week two has come and gone, and I'm definitely feeling more at home.  This week classes began, and I was scared out of my wits.  Here I am thinking I'll be so lost and confused, but then I go to my first seminar and there are only two Brits.  Everyone else was an exchange student.  The professors were all British though, and I actually heard one say, "Don't get your panties in a bunch."  I laughed a little inside.  My lectures were a lot bigger than what I am used to, but it was a nice change of pace!  So far, I'm liking the way classes are run here.  In total I think I have two final exams, four papers, and some photo blog posts for my classes.  This semester is awesome.

I didn't do a whole lot of sightseeing this week, but I tried to take as many photos as possible!  I'm enjoying all of the walking I have to do to get to class.  It's about two miles round trip to get to most of my classes so it makes me get up and do something.  All of the coffee shops on the way make it bearable too.

This is just a little park I pass through on the way to class.  I'm still in the tourist stage of living here, so I have no shame in taking pictures of everything I see.  

Harrods.  Oh glorious Harrods.  I had my photography class at a museum on Wednesday, and I saw Harrods' bright and shining beacon down the street.  So of course that meant that I had to go.  This place is incredible.  From the highest quality caviar to an elephant, Harrods can sell you anything you could ever want.  I got through maybe two floors, and I plan on going back.  There was a whole flower shop, dozens of restaurants, a bakery, a whole room full of luggage, an ice cream parlor, fine china, and many many more rooms.  This might be my favorite place.  Also, my friend took a picture of the back of my hair from that day.  I don't have a hand held mirror yet so that was the first time I saw it that whole day.

On Friday morning a few of my friends and I went searching for good coffee and croissants.  This was the result.  We ended up going into three cafes, walked out of each of them, then "settled" for a lovely creperie.  I had a cappuccino and a crepe dowsed in chocolate.  It was amazing.  Needless to say I will be coming back.

On Saturday I went to the famous Camden Market.  It was insane!  Cars could barely get through the street because of the masses of people.  I ate Shake Shack right before I went, which was dumb because all of the food smelt so amazing.  Shake Shack was good, but way overpriced for a burger joint.  I'm going to have to scout out another good (cheap) burger place next time!

This week has been a lot better than last week!  I felt so homesick in the beginning, but day by day it's getting better.  Did I mention I have been asked for directions several times?  I'm beginning to look like a local!  At least that's what I tell myself.  Also, I'll be posting some pictures for my photography class on this blog.  It's part of my assignment for the class so if there are some weird looking photos and descriptions, that's why!  I can't wait for many more adventures this week, and thanks for taking a look at the glimpse of my past week!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

First Week in London!

Hey everyone!

So I've officially survived one week in London.  Honestly, I feel like I've been here for months, but I'm looking forward to all of the adventures that still await me.  For the past couple days I've been taking it kind of easy.  I visited Regents Park, went to Oxford Street (again), and took a city tour on bus and by boat.  This is my last week of break before school starts on Monday, so I took advantage of it and slept in as much as possible!  When deciding to pick London as my study abroad choice, I knew I would have to cook for myself.  That being said, I totally was not prepared.  I'm pretty sure I've eaten oatmeal, toast, and a banana almost every day.  So if anyone has simple recipes, let me know!

Here are some pictures of the boat tour I went on!  Even though it was absolutely freezing, I had a great time.  I saw Big Ben, the Tower Bridge, the London Eye, and the Shard.  The boat tour was hosted by the University of Westminster for all study abroad students, so I got to meet other students who weren't from my same program.  All in all, it was a good night!

 I also visited Regents Park this week.  There is a big hill, called Primrose Hill, just past Regents Park that my roommate Kaitlyn and I went to.  You get a great view of the whole city and a workout in just one trip!  I love all of the parks in London, and it's a great way to escape the city for a few hours.  I have a feeling I'm going to be visiting the coffee shop in Regents Park a lot this semester.

 I also took a city bus tour this week!  The tour guide was really funny and definitely made the time pass quickly.  I learned a lot about the city of London as well as the history behind the buildings.  After we were done with the tour, we were dropped off in Piccadilly Circus.  I have heard of it before, but this place was massive.  It is like the Times Square of London, and it's quite impressive.  I'll have to venture there again when it's not a weekend because it has a ton of cool shops.


 Today I went to the Kensington Palace and had high tea.  The high tea included my own individual teapot, finger sandwiches, scones with cornish clotted cream and English strawberry jelly, and afternoon tea pastries.  The whole experience was splendid.  Not to mention I had it with some pretty lovely ladies.  I'm pretty sure I took too many photos for my own good.  But hey, I was having tea at the palace.

This week has been one for the books.  It has taught me how to be independent, but also how to rely on God.  Time and time again my worries disappeared, and I've learned to trust that everything will work out.  Thank you all so much for your prayers and your kind comments.  It means the world to me.  Until next time!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First Days in London!

Cheers from London!

        After a few days in London, I have now gotten settled in my flat, organized my belongings, and I'm exploring the city a bit.  Here is a little bit of what has happened! 

        The first day I arrived was really hectic.  I landed around 11:30am, sat in the airport for about an hour, got to my hall, unpacked, went to Primark (which is basically the H&M version of Walmart), ate dinner, and had a tour around my campus.  It was busy.  

        On Sunday I had my CEA orientation, then the staff took all of the CEA students to a traditional Sunday Roast.  I'm not usually a roast person, but this was delicious.  I'm guessing it was really good just because I had nothing to eat that day, so anything would be really good.  

        On Monday there was another orientation for all study abroad students at the University of Westminster.  After, I ate my first authentic fish and chips.  It was super good!  After I ate, some new friends and I visited Shoreditch, which is just a neighborhood on the East End of London.   For a couple days my flat mates and I were looking for pots, pans, silverware, and other kitchen necessities. We happened to stumble across Bargain World.. or something along those lines.  Just imagine piles of cheap kitchenware.  Not ideal, but good enough to cook in for a couple months.  Since it was getting dark, we decided to head back.  I took my first tube ride!  Not going to lie, it's super intimidating.  It's really efficient, but it will take some getting used to.

        Tuesday I slept in.  It was fantastic.  My roommate Kaitlyn and I decided to go to Hyde Park and explore for a bit.  Hyde Park is gorgeous.  I mean we only saw about a quarter of it, but that part was pretty.  I took a picture next to the Peter Pan statue, and I could only think of that Mary-Kate and Ashley movie Winning London.  Yep, they were there.  The Italian fountains were gorgeous too.  All in all, it was a nice and relaxing day.

        So even though I haven't been here for that long, I've enjoyed it!  I'm definitely not used to living in the city, but I've enjoyed all of the walking.  Every night I'm so exhausted from walking so much, but at least I'm getting some exercise in!  I appreciate everyone's prayers and kind words.  It means so much, and I'm excited for this upcoming semester.