This is so crazy to think about, but I’ve officially been here one month! I didn’t realize how quickly time would fly, even when I am missing my family and home. My dad just celebrated his 55th birthday on the 31st of January, so it was really hard for me not to be there for it. But, we skyped, and we are going to celebrate again when I come home! (By the way, shout out to whoever invented Skype… I don’t think I would be able to study abroad without it!)
Anyway, I said I would talk more about my traveling and sightseeing in this post, so let’s get right into it! I’ve made myself a bucket list for two reasons: I’ll use any excuse to make lists and it’s probably the only way I’m going to do everything I want to do, since I’m here for such a short period of time. I’ve crossed quite a few things off, but my list is still about two pages long, categorized by shopping, museums, places to travel, things to do, sights to see, restaurants, and bars/clubs. It’s quite a daunting list, but I’m determined to do and see it all!
I’m signed up for a Social Programme that the university offered for international students for a chance to visit places we may not get a chance to see. They are taking us to see Phantom of the Opera next week and eventually Stonehenge and the Olympic site!
One of the first things I got to do here was take a weekend trip to York, which was so beautiful but freeeeeezing! We got to tour around town the first day and see Abbey Ruins, old castles and the one and only York Minster—(hard to imagine, but the inside is even more beautiful than the outside!).
There is also a cute town centre with lots of shops and café’s, including the famous Betty’s Tea Room! I didn’t actually know this until a few days ago but Betty’s is apparently the oldest and most famous tearoom in London. The one we visited in York was the very first and opened in 1920! I was so thrilled this is where I had my first “proper tea.”
Last weekend, we celebrated Chinese New Year in Chinatown, which is right in the heart of London. We had to get up super early to see the parade, but it was so worth it! I got some amazing pictures and it was such a fun atmosphere to see everyone coming together to celebrate the year of the dragon.
There was a dragon dance later on with other performances, delicious street food, and vendors selling paper lanterns, toy dragons, and firecrackers. That was also one of the greatest days because on our way through Leicester Square, we accidentally ran into M&M World!! It was amazing and I swear the M&M’s were the best I’d ever tasted…
And if you’re wondering if I watched the Superbowl on Sunday, of course I did! I’m a diehard Patriots fan, and even though we lost, I had an amazing time at The Roadhouse in Covent Garden. It was so much fun to be surrounded by fellow American football fans (and some extremely confused English people). The game didn’t start until 11:30pm here, so needless to say, it was a long night (and even longer literally running around the city trying to find the night bus…)! I don’t think I got to bed until about 5:00 am! It’s all about the adventures.
To end things on an awesomely positive note, I am OFFICIALLY going to London Fashion Week!!!!! My life is complete.
More updates soon! Cheers!
I’ll start out by saying that basically everything I was told about studying abroad and London was wrong. The people are not rude, the fashion is not drastically different, the food is not gross and I do not need $5,000 a month to live. I have weekly homework, I do have to attend class each week and I do not have an absurd amount of free time. Also, I’m almost positive people never sleep around here and the Mondays really are messy. Oh, and people are more obsessed with William and Kate than you could even imagine…
But some things, I suppose, you just have to dive into head first and figure everything out on your own. This is what you would call growing up.
So I’ve been here about three weeks now, and I’ve got to say it feels like two months. I don’t mean this negatively, I just mean my days have been filled and I hardly even have time to keep my room clean– at the moment it’s looking more like a construction zone. But I’ve gotten myself settled, and that’s the most difficult part I would say. I’ve found the nearest grocery store, I’ve gotten myself a cell phone, I’ve found all my classes and I know how to use the public transportation. (The few times I’ve gotten myself lost or was unsure about what direction I was going, the people here helped me get wherever I was trying to go–they are amazingly nice.)
I’m living just outside Central London (20 minutes to the city by tube) on the Harrow campus, which is where the Media, Arts and Design students live. After much trouble and irritation with the Administration/Registry Offices here, I am finally enrolled in Arts & Entertainment Journalism, Fashion Trends and Contemporary Culture, Fashion Journalism, and Personal and Professional Development. Begrudgingly, I have to take the latter class in order to be enrolled for an internship.
So far, I really love all of my classes (maybe that’s a bit enthusiastic for my internship class), but I am starting to notice how different the education system is here compared to in America. First, I find the students to be pretty rude here. The lectures are three hours long and after about an hour usually, we get a “biscuit break” for 15-20 minutes. Many of the students do not return after the break and the ones who do are chatting and hardly paying attention to the tutor (that’s what they call professors here). Students will also get up and leave whenever they want, even if the tutor is in mid-sentence!
This may be explained by the class lectures, however. My notebook at the moment is pretty much empty, which is an extremely unusual thing for me. I have not taken a single note for two of my classes. In one particular class, we spent almost the entire 3-hour lecture listening to popular music through the decades and how much better Glenn Miller’s “Moonlight Serenade” is better than “today’s rubbish”. If any information is useful enough to write down, it’s already on a PowerPoint slide and posted on Blackboard. My assignments list for the entire semester takes up one side of a small piece of notebook paper. I guess I shouldn’t be complaining, it’s just extremely different and unusual for me. On the plus side, my two journalism classes are taking us to visit museums, exhibitions and even to the theatre to write reviews like real critics! I guess I just have to accept that this semester is going to be filled with a lot more fun things than work… I’m not too mad about it.
I also started my internship with Henrietta Ludgate. I was surprised to see that it’s not at an office building, but actually at a mall! It’s a store, office and workshop, all in one space. My first day there, I was already so hands on—literally. We moved furniture around the shop to make it more interactive for the shoppers to see the clothing actually being made. Customers can buy clothing off of the floor or have it specially made for them, having the option to choose their own fabrics and colors. It’s a very small company because Henrietta is an up and coming designer, but I love working so closely with someone who is such a creative entrepreneur.
Because Fashion Week is coming up, I’m working every weekday I don’t have class (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) but each day is a new adventure and something exciting and new. I’ve been cutting out patterns, picking up fabrics and dropping off pieces to customers (I even got to go to Colin Firth’s house to drop off a dress for his wife to wear to see the Queen!). There was a photo shoot in the workshop last week and I even found out that Henrietta was the winner of the Fashion Innovation Award at London Fashion Week last year! I am eager to continue this internship and learn more about the business from someone growing so quickly.
As far as sightseeing is concerned, I have gone to a couple of markets and landmarks which I will talk about in my next blog post. But one really cool thing that I did was go on a night cruise, which was organized by my university for all of the international students to get to know each other more. I actually met a large group of girls from Harrow AND we got to see the Tower Bridge! Simply breathtaking…
Well, I think that’s enough for now! Promise I won’t forget about you all while I am conquering London.