woke up in London yesterday

It’s been another week for me living in the city and it has been quite a hectic one. Last weekend I did some more exploring around London! Saturday consisted of exploring Camden, first in the morning with a trip to the camden market then again at night. This market consisted of both a clothing section and food! I purchased a delicious Argentinean burger there for lunch! i have really enjoyed all the markets I have attended which at this point have been many. Even when i go back to the same one twice i enjoy it just as much and am glad i can try a new type of wonderful good. I wish we had markets like these back in RSM because they make even going out to  lunch a more interesting experience and make you feel so much more in touch with the local culture, not to mention the food is way better. photo 1-6 This is a picture of the famous Camden Market entrance which has a nice canal running through it! I tried another British food today at the borough market, a bacon roll! photo 5-3  I strongly advocate for this to come to California. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had and it didn’t taste as unhealthy as bacon does back home. Basically go british bacon! Speaking of british food I have found it quite interesting that at the grocery stores here they advertise everything produced in the UK as being such. There are signs at Sainsbury’s for 100% british beef, 100% british chicken, truly everything. Even my bread was wrapped in union jack wrapping. Not that I am saying this is a bad thing, i just found it so interesting that such pride is taken in their own food production. While the presence of the union jack everywhere may not seem odd to us Americans something incredibly interesting we learned when we arrived and went to orientation is that the union jack is the logo for a political group here known as the national front. This was a conservative right party that was created in the 1960’s that embraced incredibly racist viewpoints. This group was known for violence and neo-nazism until internal politics split the group to near extinction. Due to the correlation between this party and the union jack, we learned that at the time Brits did not wave the flag for reasons other than events pertaining to the royal family because waving the flag generally labeled you as a racist. The staff at the university said that many are still hesitant to wave it today because of this representation that is possessed. I had a lesuirely Sunday last week by sleeping in & walking around The Regents Park, now I find it funny that there is a “the” in front of it so i shall forever refer to it in that fashion. The Regents Park was beautiful, even with the annoying amount of birds that chased you, with streams, fountains, and hopefully in the spring the gardens will be in bloom. The park also included a number of sports fields and the london zoo! There were probably around twenty or so football (soccer) games going on at once and a number of rugby games as well. I really enjoyed seeing all these locals out on the weekend enjoying the park, and the penguins at the zoo were a definite plus.    photo 2-5 Monday was my first day of school and it was exciting, nerve wrecking, stressful, confusing, but i was quite glad to be back in school. The  classes are structured differently than in the US with an 50 minute lector followed by a 50 minute tutorial where essentially the same concepts are repeated only this time you may participate, but I’m trying to embrace the British ways and give it a chance. The classes I’m taking are: exploring London, which is not just walking around london sadly but a sociological outlook of London, Security Studies, transnational social movements, and politics of forced displacement. They started out being very stressful figuring out how to obtain the reading materials, what I do and do not have to read (we don’t actually HAVE to read anything its just a suggestion… I don’t understand this so I’ve been doing all the reading) but at this point I have figured it all out and have even prepared for my first presentation this monday. In class I did regularly get pointed as for representing NYC because I’m American, and was told by some classmates that I have a really nice accent which of course I appreciate. I am trying to do as much exploration here as possible so after class I found the Islington museum and found out some of the history of my neighborhood. The highlights are that Islington became a village in 1086 ad means “Gisla’s hilltop” in Anglo-Saxon, and that one of the oldest pubs in London is a ten minute walk from me. I finally made it to St. Paul’s Cathedral and the millennium bridge (aka the one that is destroyed in Harry Potter). The view from the bridge was amazing including a view of Shakespeare’s globe theater and the tower bridge in the distance! I also explored the natural history museum which was amazing! The inside was beautiful and the exhibits were highly interactive and educational, I would suggest it to anyone coming to London!  photo 1-7 photo 4-5

That was all done on my day off from school, but on another day when I had a free morning I was able to just hop over to Hyde park and Kensington for a run! I love how easy it is to access areas that are so removed from the hustle and bustle of the city while still being able to catch the tube home. photo 3-5

This weekend has so far consisted of going dancing with some friends studying the library for a while, going on a pub crawl through Camden, and going to the Tate. And the most exciting thing was that I experienced my first London rain. photo 4-6camden pub crawl

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On another note I found this picture this week from Amsterdam this summer and finally checked off my last city! I cannot believe how blessed I am to have been to all the amazing places on that list, which was on a bag, and I cannot thank my parents enough for that. At one of the markets I found this wall that states “Before I die I want to” with hundreds of responses as to what people want to do before they die. I could never narrow it down to just one thing that I would put on this wall but my dream to travel is being fulfilled and I’m so happy about that! There is certainly something to be said about living a life well traveled.

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It’s been a great week here and i’m excited for this coming one and all the adventures to come!photo 2-6

with love, Christine

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With Love from London

well well well, I have finally arrived in London and been here a bit over a week. SO much has happened in these past ten days that I am excited to share with you all! I decided to start from the beginning, as it is a very good place to start. I arrived in London last wednesday after a very long day of travel from which I became sick with a cold that just recently concluded. That day they brought us to our house where we each have a bedroom as part of our flat, we share bathrooms, a large kitchen and lounge area. I am the only one that gets wifi from my bedroom, so I think its a lovely place however many of the other girls would strongly disagree. Below is a picture of my room once I put it all together. I am very glad I brought posters, pictures, and my own belongings from California because it has helped create an atmosphere that I feel is actually my home. I have closet, sink, window, fridge, and desk within my room!I’m also in the room on the opposite end of the hall as everyone else, which is why I receive wifi but it also means I don’t have any noise issues which is the most delightful experience of my life. photo 4

We began our first day of orientation for university that finally concluded today! That night the school then took us to thai food…. considering I had not had a meal in 26 hours thanks to their lovely schedule I thought it was fine but under normal circumstances I would not have been fond of the dish. Afterwards a number of the girls from Thoresby headed down to the Thames for our official first night in London, Here is my official picture: please note it was drizzling in this photo and that has been the only rain I have experienced since arrival!photo 4-2 Here I am with the London Eye, Big Ben, and the HP in the background! It was a really wonderful moment to finally be here! The first few days were filled with long lectures on britishness…. yes apparently there can be lectures on that… which provided us with interesting things to know about the brits. What I took away is that I may appear to be an aggressive human being by simply introducing myself to a stranger and was instructed to stay quiet… Yeah we’ll see how that goes, but I have little faith in my ability to do that. Oh also side note while I think about it, everyone should be very pleased that after a near death experience with a bus (don’t worry :/) that I have officially figured out how to jwalk here. Tonight I also gave directions for the tube (biggest deal ever). For the past week the girls from Thoresby and I have been exploring the city between our other appointments so I have seen the national gallery, the national portrait gallery, the british museum, the museum of london, trafalgar square, buckingham palace, the london eye, big ben, telephone booths, tower bridge, tower of London, primark (a suspiciously cheap clothing store), city hall, the shard, spalfields and borough markets and the gherkin. It was at a market where this treasure was spotted:photo 3 After going on tours and visiting the museums it amazes me how much history is here, over two thousand years which seems inconceivable to me.I am also astonished by how many people live here, and how much there is to do here,I just hope I’ll be able to cover most of it. I have pictures of everything and everywhere including the most cliche London photo ever. wait for it……photo 5 Ah yes. That day I explored the city for six hours before a play in the West End with two sorority sisters from Chapman that I had never met and we took the necessary alpha gam pic in front of telephone booths. photo 1 too bad my eyes are closed. 😦 It was with different groups that I did exploring, but here are the girls from the house that I hang out with and me at the tower of London with a view of the tower bridge. photo 2-2photo 4photo 5In addition to seeing the necessary historical landmarks here I have seen other necessary locations such as my new university! It is located in the Finsbury borough of London just south of where I am in Islington and it’s about a ten minute walk from Thoresby which is very convenient. There is also a grocery store very close to it so it’s perfect for grabbing groceries on the way home. The school is clearly quite different from Chapman being intermixed throughout the city rather than on a  closed campus, but my school (SASS), yes I actually go to the school of SASS, is located within one building. Thank you to the person that named it that, I think between the time I studied at Yale and attended the school of SASS my education is looking pretty well rounded. By the way to the people that were wondering if this is actually a good university or not, well I still have no idea but we were told that its the number one business school in London with the Mayor of London as its chancellor so thats good! Today I took my ID photo and got my City University ID and i’m officially a student here! photo 1-2 I also took the official picture with the harry potter location of the century. Platform nine and three quarters!!!! I went there at 11 pm after I saw the play so there was plenty of time to take a picture of me going off to school! photo 1-3 If only getting to London were as easy as running into a wall with my cart full of luggage. One of the most important things about coming to London is Kate. That is Kate Middleton, the Duchess who hopefully will give birth in the beginning of April because that means I can be standing outside Buckingham palace awaiting the announcement of the birth!!! ahhhhhh. I don’t know if you recall the interesting official portrait of her that was unveiled about a year ago that was terrible, but I saw it at the national portrait gallery! It was not as terrible as some people joked about although not as flattering as it should be. I took a picture with it (oops-totally worth it) photo 2-3

I have also been experiencing something that I wouldn’t be able to do in the US…. that is clubbing. I have gone to a few clubs with all the girls from my building and the guys that go to city with us that go to arcadia many of whom actually go to chapman… yeah it’s complicated when you tell people where you go to school (city, arcadia, & chapman). They have been really exciting! Most of them have had good music, I have swing/swung? danced with people, and I got to wear my cute romper! For the people that may be worried about this, it’s most definitely necessary. All the girls have been super careful that we stick to the buddy system and that we don’t go anywhere alone or without telling the rest of the group and additionally the guys that we’re with have been very attentive to make sure that nothing happens to anybody. Essentially I couldn’t think of better people to be going out with. So I reiterate, no need to overreact 🙂 london club 2Another thing here that is new for me is cooking!!! I have started cooking at the house which has gone better than my past attempts. I have included a few pictures to prove this to you and because i’m quite proud of myself. I am even cooking chicken for my tacos as I am typing. photo 1-5 photo 2-4 photo 5-2 photo 3-2 photo 4-4 The first two I did not make, obviously, they are just pictures of beautiful food they have here. The first is the chicken wrap I got at a market and the second is a dessert I did not buy at Harrods but I am sure it is delicious. The last three are meals that I made that were both edible and tasty. (For those that were concerned I found Italian dressing so I am a happy lettuce eater again).

One last thing I’d like to say is a cute story that happened the other night to the girls and I. We were on the tube late at night and we were fairly loud, talking and laughing. We had been told by the university that being quiet on the tube was the normal thing to do here, but what can we say? What we did say was simply that we’re American when we apologised to these two older men on the train for being so loud. One made some small pleasantries to some of the girls and then very seriously said “Don’t you ever do that again,” which was terrifying to hear because I had not though we had done anything wrong. We all became very silent and just stared at him until he told us to never apologise for laughing. It was so simple and yet it was one of the most friendly things a stranger had ever said to me. It made me really happy partly because our pesky american ways were not denounced, we demolished the “no talking to people on the tube” rule and received heartfelt advice. Well anyway I have spent way too much time writing this, which I am doing in addition to my daily journal (I really need more homework) just as you have spent way too much time reading this I am sure. I hope you enjoyed what I told you or you at least feel more knowledgable about my time here so far. Thanks for all the love and prayers.

With Love from London, Christine

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Tick Tock, the countdown begins!

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If you’re reading this it is most likely because i sent you this address and you either are extremely bored or are curious as to what this is. Either way, welcome to my London blog! This is your go to source for all the things i will be up to while abroad, starting with the one week countdown until i leave and at last the conclusion of my packing! I’m becoming increasingly excited everyday and more curious about the adventures that are to come! I cannot wait to share with all of you the experiences i have while abroad and all the fun i have! I will talk to you all when I’m in London! XOXO Christine

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