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8 posts categorized "Abigail Dodge"

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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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.

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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

04/29/2014

This Is The Life

The last nineteen days I spent traveling around Europe. No, we're not petting baby tigers but we get to see the world! We have experienced things I never thought I'd have the opportunity to experience in my life. For the last nineteen days we travled through, Spain, Italy, France and Greece. With a backpack on our backs and a smile on our face we saw the world. 

We started off in Ibiza an Island of the coast of Spain, before heading to Valencia. In Spain we discovered Siesta's and the difference of eating times. Siesta's, are a two to three hour gap in the middle of the work day where nothing is open. The shop owners, and buisness folks go home and hang out with their kids, enjoy lunch and some of them even nap...what a life. For those of us that usually eat lunch during the siesta time you could see how it could be quite an incovenience. However, we went with it and ended up eating lunch at 3 and dinner at 10 or even 11 sometimes! 

Next we went to Marseille, France! Here we discovered beautiful beaches, and Ports, and what exhuastion feels like. The beaches in Marseille were beautiful, the water clear and very very cold. We figured this out by taking a dip into the Mediterranean Sea...what a rush. Traveling for 19 days will make you tired, I thought I could do it but it was definitely a struggle. One night I fell asleep with my shoes still laced on my feet and jeans on. 

After France we traveled to Italy to Venice and Rome. In Venice we were surrounded by water and tourist's. It was interesting to see police boats instead of cars, garbage boats instead of trucks, and Gondola's hauling tourist after tourist around the sewage filled seas. In Venice, it wasn't hard to get lost either....you would think you were going in the right direction just to find you were walking into the water! We were in Rome the week before easter and so it was crowded, we saw the Vatican, the Coloseum, the Trevi Fountain, and much much more. It's not unusal to walk past a nun or a Priest in Rome...they were everywhere. 

Our last stop was Greece! The town covered in white, with pops of blue, green, red and sometimes yellow covering the doors and shutters. What a beautiful place to end a long vacation, relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sun and the beauty of the island. 

I can't say I wasn't ready to get back 'home' because I was tired and ready to get some rest. However, I enjoyed every bit of being tired because I was seeing things that I only dreamed I would ever see! 

Now I'm back in London prepping for finals, and soaking in my last four weeks in this beautiful city. 

 

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03/25/2014

Week One

This week I have been a tourist, no doubt about it. Walking in a group of 25 American's, fumbling through my coin purse to get the correct pound or pent, and never knowing which way your supposed to go even when you have a map in your hand. Despite the embarrassing moments, like when you hold up an entire line just trying to figure out which coin is which, I have had the greatest week of my life.

For our first London meal Tess and I went to a chain called Wasabi. The sushi was in individual packages just like candy. It was bizarre, and could have been contaminating but I enjoyed every moment of it. Later that evening we went to dinner with the CIEE people. I met some really awesome people and laughed all night. It was great meeting people from all over the united states, I met people from, California, New York, Chicago, and even more. 

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Throughout the week we spent time doing several things. We went on a the Big Bus tour, where we all shivered so many calories is was equivalent to walking the bus tour. We moved into our residence halls, traveled to Brick Lane (vintage market), Covent Garden's, Trafalgar Square, Oxford street, and so much more. Just walking around admiring all of the grand buildings is breath taking.

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There have also been some interesting bumps and bruises on the way.

I think I have finally recovered from lugging my 80lbs suitcase, and the 20 lbs Primark bags, with hangers, comforters, pillows, and blankets galore. Carrying things everywhere will be an adjustment. London doesn't do bulk, because if london did bulk you would carry bulk.  I also purchased a phone to communicate with people in london. Let's just say I am getting used to T9 all over again and I'm loving every minute of it.

A few interesting facts about London.

-Christmas decorations stay up through at least the first two weeks of january. And when I say christmas decorations I mean they go all out. The christmas tree's are gigantic.

-The "elevator" is called the "lift".

-"Trash" is called "rubbish"

- and the coins all look the same.  Okay i'm joking about that one...but they are hard to figure out.

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WERE IN LONDON!!!!!!

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2014 started with a big bang, or you could call it a big fly! On January 1st, 2014 I flew across the world to emerse myself in a completely different culture. With two suit cases and some anxiety, I was off. 

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I would fit in. I had this idea of London, being this big city where I always had to wear black, probably completely change my personality, that I would maybe even come out on the other side with a british accent and I would definitely leave being cooler than I was when I arrived. Oh boy was I wrong. London is full of so many diverse people! You can wear flowers, lace and if you want to you can dye your hair pink....it's all totally normal. I haven't changed at all, other than being more worldly. I still wear colorful clothing, unfortunately the british accent isn't here and I love life just as much as I did when I came here. 

Not only is London one of the most accepting places I have ever been, but it is also very diverse. Coming to London I was shocked with the amount of non-white british people their were. In one of my classes, there are 5 white people in a class of 50. It is my Understanding Race Class..but it is cool to be in a place with so many different types of people. 

Coming to London I was shocked by all the diversity, the fashion choices, and I mean basically everything else. After living here for 3 months (WOW...can't believe that), I feel like I belong. After I arrived my anxiety flew, right out the window. It was quite a hard journey, getting up the courage to come abroad, planning, packing, and basically leaping into something I was unsure of. However, I leaped, and it was the best leap of faith I have ever taken. 

What I have learned.

-Don't be afraid to be yourself

-You can wear flowers and lace

- London is the most diverse city in the world. (Literally)