WEEK ONE AND DONE

~1/18/15~

Hello!

Against all odds, I MADE IT TO LONDON!! So far, I have seen incredibly beautiful buildings, walked over fifteen miles in two days, eaten some ridiculous food, had my bank card shut down (oops), discovered many websites that don’t work in the UK (get it together Pandora), and met some very charming people. In fact, as I write this, a delightful woman has walked in and is telling me about her life in Egypt and offering me half of her KitKat (incidentally, more delicious here than in the States). So, feel free to skim to your interests, but here are my first impressions about this lovely place.

1. FOOD– WHAT AM I EATING?? IS THIS FOR ONE PERSON? IS A SWEET TOOTH NONEXISTENT?!

Food is different anywhere you go, but British people take their food very seriously. Portions are huge, tea time is real (although tea often just means coffee), and you have to be very aggressive at the bar to order your food at all. A steak does not mean a juicy, red meat with A1 sauce on the side. Instead it’s likely to be pork based (we think- will report back). The grocery store has an entire aisle devoted to various flavors of crisps (aka chips)(Say that word out loud more than once and try not to cringe at the “sps”), but processed desserts appear to be against nature. However, the best thing I’ve discovered is the Cadbury Creme McFlurry. Finally, McDonalds does something right :,)

2.  TRANSPORTATION

The tube is so.nice and so quiet. As someone who is used to the CTA, hopping on the tube is completely disarming. No one singing along to their iPod on speakerphone, no one jangling cups, no rowdiness of any kind. Although it is very nice, I almost miss the bizarre conversations people have with themselves on Chicago transportation. Also those two-story red buses? Not a mere tourist attraction. They’re everywhere and function the same as any city bus would. Finally, walking. It’s possible to walk anywhere and everywhere in the city (although it might take awhile). It’s 7:40 PM and I have already walked 6 miles today (thank you FitBit).

3. CULTURE

I have experienced so much culture shock since I got here, and the English have a very distinguished way of life; however, I have also noticed a lot of parallels! As I was walking out of a store today, Mark Ronson serenaded me with ‘Uptown Funk’ and when I had to ask the front desk woman to repeat herself despite the fact that she was already speaking English, Taylor Swift was there telling me to ‘Shake It Off’. My sister took a friend and I to a place called Primark today in a shopping district and it was very similar to any outdoor collection of stores in the U.S. Primark itself reminded us a lot of Forever21 and its five stories of clothes and home goods rival the flagship on Michigan Avenue. We also have seen many places that remind us of home such as a Burton ski and snowboard store (in London?!), Burger King’s, Subway’s, and McDonald’s of course, and a Pret A Manger on every street. Perhaps what has delighted me the most is that the brand of wine, Barefoot, is seen as an imported delicacy from the States. Experiencing a completely different lifestyle is incredible, but it’s also nice to have some comforts of home! 

Until next time lovely readers- wish me luck!!

Meg

 

LONDON - JANUARY 2015

~ 1/ 28/ 15 ~

Hello there!

I have officially been a temporary resident of the UK for a week and a half (although, it feels more like a month and a half) and so far nothing but good things to report!

I spent my first full week being a tourist and seeing everything. Okay, not even close, but I DID see many of the classic tourist spots via two walking tours , a boat tour, and (perhaps the most effective method) walking everywhere and getting a little lost!

Now we need to have a frank discussion about food in London. Countless people, as I told them of my planned trip over here to the UK, expressed some distress at the lack of “good food” in London. Let me be the first, but not last, person to disprove these delusions. EVERYWHERE I LOOK I WANT TO SAMPLE. Whether it is the artfully designed fudge at the Spitalfield markets, the streetview tables of authenticity in Chinatown, the pub food in the very trendy Soho area, beer flavored candy on Oxford Street (incidentally, not good, but I had to know), fish and chips at Poppies on Brick Lane, or the countless window displays of meringue the size of my face all over the city, you must try it all. And please. Don’t get me started on the bread.
        Until next time!

Meg

 

LONDON - FEBRUARY 2015

~2/7/15~

Hello my lovely readers!

Well, I’m making a go of becoming a true Londoner and I think I’m making some real progress! I’ve started to feel true annoyance at those who stand on the wrong side of tube escalators (the left side is reserved exclusively for those willing to risk their lives on the incredibly long and steep escalators to be on time), I now wear scarves as stylized, belted blankets in order to fend off the damp chills of February, and I have tried every type of cider I can think of at every type of pub. I also eat sandwiches multiple times a day, I am addicted to Cadbury chocolate Oreo bars (& had a moment of genuine panic at the Cadbury ban in America), and I have blown the dust off of my two years of Deutsch, much to the entertainment of a few German friends. But perhaps, most importantly, I have finally started discovering the fun, authentic, and commonplace pasttimes of my British neighbors!       

Midway through the week, I ventured out to appease on of my favorite guilty pleasures at an independent bookstore. The London Review Bookstore is the most wonderful place- no one tried to rush me out the door once I found what I was looking for, there are chairs in the basement to sample your reading material, and, most charmingly of all, I happened in on one of their monthly Late Night shopping events and was offered a complimentary glass of wine for my trouble. It was the perfect way to spend a Wednesday night.

I also spent quite a lot of time at the V&A Museum with my sister, which is often skipped during short visits to London; however, Taylor and I both found the museum and its exhibits to be truly incredible- so much so that we will be headed back soon to see what we didn’t have time for.

On a slightly more important note, we also tried our first authentic dessert at the beautiful cafe. The scone I ate (my first one!) was life-altering. Not to mention I almost shed a tear at Taylor’s perfect Victorian sponge cake. 10/10 would recommend making this stop a priority.      

Finally, I am a true sucker for the ambiance of a building; therefore, I have begun my search for the perfect study space.

So far the Reading Room of the Wellcome Center is taking first with its plush staircase littered with pillows and its interactive distractions. If you need a break from Tolstoy, there are truly terrifying dentistry tools to examine, straightjackets to try on, and a postcard table to tell your mom about all the fun you’re having.

A close second is the British Library, where one can ogle original Charlotte Bronte manuscripts, Leonardo Da Vinci notebooks, and unfinished Beethoven pieces. I just went through the rather rigorous process of getting my own Reading Pass this afternoon -I had high hopes that the countless esteemed individuals whose work is on display would give me the strength to focus on the “study” in study abroad.

Tomorrow I am heading off to Cambridge to see what else the UK has to offer! Stay tuned.

Megan

HAMPTON COURT

~04/ 04/ 15~

Hello from the UK!

Today, I took a train down to Hampton Court with my international program for a fun day trip outside of London. I’ll spare you the history lesson of the Palace and supply a few buzzwords: King Henry VIII, Tudor period, beautiful gardens, maze (!!), Anne Boleyn, and ice cream (irrelevant to the Palace but delicious all the same). The Palace was very interactive and we spent a sunny afternoon lounging in the gardens. King Henry VIII knew how to live royally! We ended the day with an always delightful Sunday Roast (on Monday, since it was a bank holiday).

 

LONDON - MAY 2015

HI!

As per usual, I have been practically sprinting all over London. Just a few things I have done in the past couple of weeks:

-attended an event at the HarperCollins offices next to the Shard (!!!! dream job) 

– art galleries and exhibitions

-London Coffee festival (most of my pictures are unfocused on account of I drank 12 beautiful cups of coffee/ espresso before noon)

– met this crab guy at the Grant Museum of Zoology

-caught some gorgeous aerials of London from the Sky Garden and a few great views from street level along Regents Canal

I also went to five thousand markets, ate some really awesome food (I’m lookin at you Camden Market and Wing Street), and sat in parks thinking up ways to pawn my plane ticket and stay forever. (just kidding Mom)

Anyway! Until next time!

Megan