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7 posts from May 2014

05/23/2014

CIEE London Spring 2014 Issue II

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Farewell Spring 2014 Students!

Wow, it's been a great semester and I've really enjoyed getting to know these brilliant young people! Most students have finished their exams but good luck to those who still have their heads down in the books!

CIEE London Summer is just around the corner with arrivals for Session I students on Monday. We're looking forward to welcoming these students to their new home for the next month and excited for all the activities and course field trips we've planned. Summer update coming soon! In the meantime, please enjoy reading Abbie's final blog for us below. Thank you Abbie for sharing all your experiences with us! (And thanks to Mikey for the very kind words in yesterday's toast before Afternoon Tea.)

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05/22/2014

The Time of Our Lives

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With our time here ending I am sad to say goodbye. I am sad to leave friends that I spent months getting to know, hoping we'll all see eachother again soon. And sad to leave this beautiful place that I have learned to call home. Seeing beautiful buildings every time I walk outside and grinning from ear to ear when the sun decides to come out. Seeing all the Brits red from face to feet because 'sun'...is not normal. But I am also happy to head home, to see my family, and friends. Lets just say its been bitter sweet. Everyone always says you learn so much about who you are when studying abroad, and yeah i'm gonna be one of those people. It was a HUGE learning experience, learning about who I am, who I want to become and so on. I would like to speak for myself and all the other CIEEers that I met this semester. We will all leave loving life a little bit more, thanking our parents ALOT and we will take every lesson learned with us for the rest of our lives. And when our grandchildren ask about the glory days (if they even care to know)....this will definitely be on the top of our lists. 

For the last two weeks CIEE planned numerous things for us to do. One night a few of us headed out to the Globe Theatre. This was the ultimate cultural experience, I sat there in awe as I listened, a little confused (not going to lie), and enjoyed every 'jest' and overexaggerated gesture. This night it felt amazing to be in a place with so much history and culture. 

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Another awesome thing about being in London is the plays and musicals in this big city. This week I went to Book of Mormon. For those who don't mind being offended in the funniest possible way you have GOT to go. After the lights came on I was laughing for the next two and half hours. It was amazing, a smile did not leave my face until the final curtain went down. 

Today, we had our CIEE farewell tea. What a perfect way to go out in style with High Tea at the Royal Gardens Hotel. Enjoying great company and LOTS of tea we talked about where we would go and also about where we have been. We left feeling full of tea and scones. It is weird thinking that you might not ever see some of the people again, but it was amazing knowing they took part in one of the greatest experiences of your life. 

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Before heading to London on January 1st, I was terrified. Didn't know who i'd meet, what I'd see, where i'd live....the list goes on.....you could call me clueless. However, once I got here all my questions were answered. I got to travel the world, see things most people don't get to see in their lives and meet the most open, fun loving, and caring people. They 'opened my realms', helped me to love more, see more, and risk more. I can't say that I am happy to leave this beautiful place. But I know it will always be apart of me, every where I go. 

05/06/2014

Oxford and Blenheim Palace

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On saturday, CIEE took us to Blenheim Palace. We walked through a breathtaking palace where Winston Churchill was born. It looked like a mini Versaille, in Paris, with the intricate gardens and detailed rooms. It was beautiful. After our tour of the palace we had the pleasure of seeing a jousting 'show'. We watched children enthralled with the show, they carried 'severed heads' and swords as they marched around the arena. Then jousting horses came in and we laughed as they fake fought before heading back to the 'Downton Abbey' esque house. We then traveled to Oxford and learned about the colleges and universities that made up the town. It was a beautiful place and we were able to walk into their great hall, that J.K. Rowling based the dining hall in Hogwarts after. We learned a lot about the schooling system in England. We learned that there are 39 schools in Oxford, students attend two years of college before attending two years of universities and they are all under the umbrella of Oxford. It was cool to walk around before heading back to London.

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05/02/2014

ImageQueen Elizabeth How I felt about doing homework

This week was full of a term that is considered quite foreign here….homework. The educational system is set up quite differently in London, and instead of giving us pointless activities to do to ensure we learn what needs to be learned, we are given two assessments for most of our classes. My first assessment was due this thursday and It was an unfamiliar feeling to sit down in the library and have to focus for an extended period of time. However I did learn a lot. It was a history paper, about the population growth of London in the 19th century. Living conditions were not so great. The tube, the most amazing transportation system ever, was just being built. Tearing up ground, meant thousands of people losing their homes and having to relocate to a different part of London. It was worth it but the Victorian people weren’t pleased.

While most of my week was spent grueling in the library, the rest was spent frolicking through London….so HONESTLY I can’t complain. On Valentines day, unfortunately my non-existent boyfriend wasn’t around so I had to hang out with my friends…the next best thing :). We spent the afternoon, intently starring at portraits of prince albert, Kate Middleton, and the ever so lovely Vivien Leigh at the National Portrait Gallery. We then proceeded to ask about a dessert place, where a lady excitedly pointed in the direction of a tea and cake place. It was amazing indulging in cake, and a wonderful cup of tea for our valentines treat.

 

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Yesterday we ventured to Notting Hill for the Portobello Market. We walked around the market for hours, looking at clothes that were way to expensive, dreaming of houses we would never be able to live in, and pretending that for one second we had more money than we actually do. We had the most amazing donuts! Later that evening, Tess and I and a couple of friends from our CIEE program went Ceilidh Dancing, (scottish dancing). We sweat and laughed and made funny faces at each other while we spun, jumped, and learned how to do Ceilidh. It was a blast, being goofy with a bunch of strangers. And then we enjoyed a nice dinner with a few new friends. I ended up actually meeting someone that was friends with one of my best friends from home, can you say small world.

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Today I was on somewhat of a struggle bus after the first thing I did this morning was hit my head aggressively on my friends door trying to be funny. Let’s just say this time when I say,”there were a few bumps and bruises on the way…” it is not a metaphor. Literally on the way to the museum there was a huge bump and bruise on the back of my head haha. Kelsey and I laughed about it all day while Tess was seriously concerned I should go to the hospital. While it wasn’t that serious, I am glad to have a friend would take care of me if something that serious did happen. This afternoon we perused through the museum of London for a class, took vigorous notes…………..and then we were on our way.

Some things I learned

  • All about the population growth of London.
  • Follow recipe’s when cooking, or you might just end up with a pile of chickpea’s instead of a chickpea burger.
  • We say friends or “best friend,” British people say “Best Mate” or “Mates”.
  • we can get around without emma (although I don’t prefer it.) 
  • and vacuum’s have faces!

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It's Not About The Journey But The Destination

I have found that I am okay with taking a three hour bus ride with my friends if it just means we’re going to be able to talk and laugh more. Despite getting car sick and needing food and fresh air, the journey can sometimes be ALOT better than the actual destination. Although, I wouldn’t suggest that everyone get to Hampton Court Palaces, by taking two rails, two busses, and a lot of walking, but hey it’s always an option. And along the way not only did we have a lot of fun being lost but we also discovered new delicious restaurants only two hours away from where we are staying!! 

This defines all of my week. We are learning SO MUCH (in class for sure) but mostly about traveling and preparation details. This week my friends and I learned that it is difficult to get somewhere when A. you don’t know where you are planning to go. and B. When you are on your way out and you haven’t looked up the directions yet. We also learned that although we might be on our way somewhere….that definitely doesn’t mean we are going to get there soon.

This week was full of interesting journey’s. Throughout the week I went to class, had some fun with my friends, and did a lot of laundry. I am loving every minute of being in London, I love the rain, the firedrills at 8 am on thursdays (mostly because it’s the best alarm clock a girl with an 10 am class could have) and I love being absolutely exhausted and somewhat delirious. 

 

On Wednesday of this week I tackled my laundry for the first time. It only took me two trips down and way to much money to finally reach floor -1. Having 4 driers and 4 washers and 300 kids in a building...lets just say it isn't the easiest laundry has ever been. But I managed to get my laundry into a washer and drier my second time looking downstairs. I was quite an experience trying to catch the elevator. Then I proceeded to hang all my clothes up in my room, finding random places for them to dry. 

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That night we met a new friend while watching british reality TV shows in the Lobby. British reality TV shows are just as good as American reality TV shows. The main difference…the accents. The next day, we went to a pub called walkabout, there was Karaoke and a lot of dancing which summed up to a really good time. 

On friday my friends and I went to Borough Market. Borough Market is a market, with fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and CHEESE everywhere! We walked through the market five times before finally decided what we should eat. The smells coming from the market were phenomenal and it was definitely a good way to get some free samples. Later that day we went to a bar called Proud, it was old horse stables and the coolest bar I have ever been to. 

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The next day my friends and I decided to visit a palace. So we met downstairs at 11 and were on our way. As we walked to the tube we realized we didn’t know where we were going, we didn’t know where it was or how to get there. So we looked it up on a phone, we finally figured it out and were on our way. When we got to our last stop on the tube we figured it would be just right around the corner… considering we went to the end of the tube line. But to our surprise the tube was getting repaired this weekend….so we had to take a bus. We were on the bus for what felt like 2 hours. The curvy roads, and that bus smell made me realize why we don’t ever take the bus. When we finally arrived we needed food and we needed food now, delirious already from the day we found a thai place right around the corner. The good news it was absolutely delicious and almost a comparison to Siam Square in Indianapolis. The bad news it’s only two short hours away. After we finished eating we looked up how much longer it would take to get to the castle, 45 minutes……but we decided we had come this far. So we got on another bus and headed to Hampton Court Palace! We finally made it after 4 hours, two rails, two buses, and a lot of laughter. We had an hour until the Palace closed and so we walked around the courtyards and decided we had to come back when we had more time! It was a beautiful palace but an even more beautiful journey.

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The next day we headed to Stonehenge and Bath. Tess, Emma, and I, slept while the bus took us to our destination. When we woke up we realized we were in a storm. As we stepped out of the bus Umbrella’s up and wind whipping our hair we headed to stonehenge. It was really cool, we mustered up the courage to take a couple pics and then ran back to the buses where we were drenched from head to toe. Next we were on our way to Bath. What a cool place, the entirety of Bath is on a hill, and it is so old. I loved walking through the city, stepping and falling on uneven cobblestone and admiring what the romans built. 

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….and at the end of the week MY DAD COMES!!!!!!!!!!

Things I have learned this week

  • Victorian Pubs are on the corners 
  • Just because it’s at a horse stable doesn’t mean it’s not sanitary
  • instead of No problem british people say “thats okay”
  • you can’t cook chicken frozen

 

If My Shoes Could Talk

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If my shoes could talk, they would tell you they were a little bit tired. They might tell you that they love to step in mud, and that they don’t mind the rain. But if you dug down deep into their “sole” they would tell you all of the experiences that the United Kingdom has to offer. After all, they have only been with me on this unforgettable journey…saying bye to my family, flying to London, and all the adventures after that. And let me tell you, they are some pretttttty great shoes.

I feel like I say this every week but WOW this has been one heck of a week. New experiences, New friends, and a whole lot more fun.

Last Wednesday, Tess, Emma, Kelsey and I went to a “musical” (if you could call it that). It was called “Let it Be” and if you are down to watch a Beatles Tribute band for 3 hours than this is the musical for you. I thought at some point a story would come about….nope, but it was awesome! They went through each of the albums and played all the best music! It was not exactly what we expected but it was so much fun! Before the musical, we walked through covent garden which has easily become ONE of my favorite places in London. It is full of live performers, playing violin’s or singing. The musicians are hired to play there so they are super talented. Kelsey and I thought we heard Ed Sheeran one night so we ran to hear if it was him…it was a little bit of a let down, just an old man who sounded exactly like ed sheeran.

This week I also started making my own meals. This is the first time I have had to do this since going to college. My diet consists of sandwiches, sandwiches, a couple of sandwiches and some pasta. So last week I picked out some mustard for a sandwich. I saw Heinz  but decided to go for something new, it was yellow and looked a lot like Heinz. So I went back to the dorms and made myself a sandwich with mustard on it. Get back to my room and I take a bite and my eyes are watering. I was the color purple because there was so much horseradish in this mustard. It was the spiciest mustard I have ever eaten. I also experimented with some potatoes (didn’t realize they took 20 minutes to boil), some stir fry, and various other foods.

Throughout the week I attended classes. Listening to the british “lecturer’s” speak is entertaining in itself. I love all of my classes, I am taking a Victorian British History class, Cognitive psychology, understanding race, and modern art in London. A lot of the classes do “field trips” which is an awesome way to learn. For modern art in London we analyzed some modern art in the Tate Modern. And for my history classes we walked around and saw a lot of victorian era architecture. It is amazing how old London is. On my own, I was also able to check out the science museum this week.

This weekend, Emma Tess and I took a trip to Cardiff, Wales (which is the capitol of wales). The weather was not ideal but we got to see some of the most amazing things. On friday night we went to a pub that has bed’s in it. There were only a few bed and we were able to get to sit in one of them. It was a relaxing night just talking with friends and having some beers.

The Bunk HouseThe Bunk House

 

The next day we went on an adventure to the coast of wales. We traveled to Llantwit and took a bus to the coast….the towns were so quant. When we got to the coast it was absolutely beautiful! There were cliffs everywhere and just fields and fields of green. There were a couple of falls along the way only to add to the enjoyment of the journey. At the end of our walk along the coast we were all covered in mud, rain, and smiles.

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Then we realized we had to find a way to get back…..and like I said we are in a small town. Bellies hungry and bladders full we hiked to find a bus station. As the rain pelted our backs we hiked and hiked until we finally found a bus station and the next bus was coming in ten minutes! As we were checking the times, the bus zoomed passed us! We started sprinting..but the bus never stopped. However, we found a place to eat and warm up before the next bus. It was quite an experience, and honestly i’m surprised we’re all not sick from the rain.

Finally we get on a bus and headed back to Cardiff! The next day we went to the Cardiff Castle, the National History museum and shopping! It was an awesome weekend full of unforgettable stories.

Cardiff CastleCardiff Castle

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The many Phrases of British people

  • “Many Thanks” instead of thanks a lot
  • They pronounce Garage, like Carriage with a G at the beginning
  • Umbrella’s are called “Brolly’s”

Lost

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Since i’ve been abroad (for what like two weeks now) the word lost has developed an entirely new meaning. Lost no longer means, arguments about which way to go while driving 50 miles per hour on a highway. No longer while I am abroad will I associate the word lost with stress.

Getting lost, is finding yourself down a long windy river with only the sun guiding your way. It’s going to the opposite side of a park to find a magnificent hill overlooking the entire city of London. It is walking on cobblestone roads starring at houses you will never be able to afford. And sometimes lost means playing on a lime green gym that is outside of an office building. Lost is only as stressful as you make it and 10 out of 10 times you find your way home.

This week has been a different experience than last week. Although the excitement from being in a new city has settled down quite a bit the adventure hasn’t. I no longer hold up lines while searching for right coins. I have FINALLY mastered the coins!

The word lost explained Tess, Emma (new friend) and my entire week. On wednesday I walked to Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, and behind the eye and then somehow I made it to Trafalgar Square, and ended up walking down a road that led me right to Buckingham Palace, and threw St. James park and then back to the Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. I have no idea how it happened or even how I got back, all I know is that God led me there because my map sure as heck wasn’t working. However I know that Lost had never been so beautiful.

The next day I went shopping and ate with a group of seven girls! Oxford Street at night is beautiful still all lit up with christmas decorations. We shopped everywhere and had the best dinner and dessert’s from THE SLUG AND THE LETTUCE. Don’t let the name fool you it was the best meal i’ve had since coming to London.

We then decided we would go to the Tate Modern. Well Emma looked up the Tate Britain and so we ended up lost (again) finding our way from Tate to Tate! It was a beautiful 2 mile walk. It was worth getting lost, we modeled with Big Ben, and the London eye it was magnificent. Later that evening our school took us on a Boat cruise where we went right under the Tower of London.

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Tower Bridge at night from our boat cruise

We continued the weekend getting a membership to the all the palaces of London, visiting the tower of london and covent garden’s. We also went to Camden town, which is an extremely hip part of London. The building were artwork in themselves, with shoes and designs lining the top of each of the stores. Quite overwhelming if you aren’t color blind. We ended up walking along the river and through the London Zoo. Hyena’s and bird’s lined the river’s path. We then continued through primrose hill where we had to ask like 3 people for directions.

And Today was my first day of classes! It’s gonna be a gooooooood semester.

Things I learned this week

  • The city of London and London are different
  • Getting something “To Go” is called “Take Away”
  • If you want cream in your “filtered” coffee you say “white”
  • The Queen’s body guards have to be in the Military for at least 25 year

Restaurants and Stores I’ve enjoyed shopping at

  • The slug and the lettuce (restaurant)
  • Primark
  • Wafflemeister
  • Strada
  • Wetherspoons
  • and Camden Market