Oh hey, there’s school too?

Day 5 in London

This was a sad, sad day.

I was uploading photos from my camera to my computer and bumped my camera off the couch. It fell. The lens bent. There were tears.

Luckily, as my mom says, “all things are replaceable.” And so I ordered a new lens. A new expensive lens. Yay for being a klutz.

To clear my head, I went for a run through Hyde Park. I guess I didn’t realize how big the park was before because as much as I tried not to get lost, I did.

I found myself running through zig-zagging paths, never really sure which side of the path I should be running on. I’m still confused about which side of the sidewalk to walk on here. People walk on both the left and right and there seems to be no correct direction. What a confusing place to be.

Anyways, I eventually found myself at a river that goes through the park. While it was kind of a dreary day, it was still very pretty. Birds were swimming in it and people were still out and about everywhere. I attempted to make my way back out of the park and passed a memorial to Princess Diana on the way out. There is always something more to discover in Hyde Park!

I quickly showered at the flat and then put on the nicest dress I brought with me then made my way back up to High Street and to the Royal Garden Hotel which is neighbors with, you guessed it, Prince William and Duchess Kate who tend to reside at Kensington Palace.

While I am not a tea drinker, the experience was still pretty cool. It was quite posh and all of us felt pretty out of place at the super fancy hotel. They served cute finger sandwiches that I heard were good, some little cakes, macaroons, tarts and such for dessert and lots of tea. I had apple juice. It was great!

During our time at tea, we also had to sign up for excursions offered through FIE at subsidized prices. The site crashed due to so much traffic to it, but luckily I am happy to say that I will be going to see The Lion King, Wicked and wait for it…HARRY POTTER WORLD! I cannot wait!

Day 6 in London

The first day of classes. Oh joy.

Really though, I’m one of those weird people that actually enjoys school and having class meant more structure to my days so I was actually pretty excited for school to begin!

I went in early to Foundation House to see about switching my Media in Britain class from one time to another. I currently have that class on a Friday, (there are only TWO classes offered on Fridays and I somehow was lucky enough to get it). No one else in my flat had a Friday class and therefore everyone was able to start booking weekend trips to other countries and I could not. So I would not be able to travel. More on that story to come.

My first class of the day was Infiltrating the Art World. Local artist Faisal Abdu’Allah came in to talk to us about his art. Abdu’Allah has also taught classes at UW-Madison and has had his artwork featured in the Chazen Museum. You can check out his work here. Abdu’Allah then took us on a field trip to the London Print Studio.

There, we met an artist who works there named John Phillips. He told us a lot about the history of art in London and the impact that the London Print Studio has had within the city and especially within its surrounding neighborhoods.

While the field trip was cool, what wasn’t cool was almost being late to my second class of the day. There was a tube strike on this day, so the tube wasn’t running and we had to take one of the double-decker city busses to get there. It was about a 30 minute drive plus there was traffic and a 15 minute walk back to Foundation House after we got off the bus. Not ideal. Luckily, I made it back with five minutes to spare. Thank goodness I’ve basically become an Olympic speed walker from my short time here in London.

My next class was British Life and Cultures and my professor was a cute old British man. He had a very sarcastic sense of humor and liked to joke with all of us, mainly at our own expenses. The class seems like it is going to be really interesting though and we are going to go on many field trips in the class as well.

So far, classes were good. On to the next day…

Day 7 in London

So. I woke up early this morning to go into Foundation House AGAIN to talk to the woman in charge of scheduling to change my classes. Granted, I had already emailed her once about it, to which she didn’t respond, and had gone in the day before as well to see her.

I walked upstairs to see her, and just my luck, she was not going to be in today because she was sick.

Great.

The other woman in the office took down my information and my schedule change requests and said she would email Zehra about it.

So I went home.

Once back at the flat, I decided I was going to start booking flights and trains and hostels for the weekend in Dublin, Ireland despite not being able to change my schedule yet. The night before, everyone had booked their trips for the upcoming weekend and I decided I was going to as well.

She will get my email and she will change my schedule is what I kept telling myself. I will go to Dublin and all will be fine.

I ended up emailing Zehra again myself as she didn’t seem to get the other woman’s email and contact me after two hours. So I emailed her myself.

Another hour later, still no response. The class I was trying to switch was in less than two hours.

So I ended up calling the FIE office. They said they would attempt to contact her.

More time went by so I called again. I needed a response and it was becoming ridiculous. I was told that she would not be coming in, but would be working from home and responding to emails. Not mine I guess.

I left for class early and stopped in the front office, the receptionist finally got her on the phone. I think I had finally gotten across to her how badly I needed my classes changed so she put me in the classes I needed.

THANK GOODNESS.

So I went home again, this time to change my outgoing flight on Thursday, as I was now in the Media in Britain class I needed that goes until 5 p.m. on Thursdays. Luckily, I was able to change the flight for a small fee, but now everything is straightened out and I couldn’t be happier! My stress levels have definitely dropped.

At 6 p.m., I headed back to the Foundation House for my Media in Britain class. The professor is from Australia and she seems quite quirky but passionate about all things media in Britain. We learned a lot about the British Broadcasting Corporation today. The media system in the U.K. is nothing like that of the system in the U.S. so it makes it really interesting to learn about.

After class, I went with my friend Sophia to London Bridge. It was about 9:30 p.m. so the whole river was lit up and very pretty. I love taking night trips to the heart of the city and I don’t think I will ever get tired of it!

Another day of classes tomorrow and I believe I am going to explore more of Hyde Park before class at two. Until then!

 

 

 

The Longest Day of My Life (+Another Day)

I left for O’Hare International Airport in Chicago at four in the afternoon on Tuesday for my flight to London, England. Thereby beginning the longest day of my life.

Before getting to O’Hare, my parents and I stopped for my final meal in the U.S. and where else to stop than Culvers? After that, it was on to the airport.

file_000-1As we walked into Terminal 5, the international terminal at O’Hare, I lugged in my two very (very very) heavy suitcases, anxiously anticipating placing them on the airport scale. Luckily, both were (somehow) underweight.

I went through security no problem, but as I was going to swing on my backpack, my Wisconsin tumblr cup flew out of my backpack and cracked. I was off to a great start…Luckily I took two water bottles with me and had a backup.

My flight boarded at 8 p.m., ahead of schedule as it was set to take off at 8:45 p.m. When booking my plane ticket, I had the opportunity to upgrade my seat for a rather cheap price and therefore was sitting in file_001one of the nicer sections and had a large chair with extra room to recline. It was super nice. They also served a full three-course meal in my section, but I had eaten before and was attempting to sleep by the time they were serving food at around 9:45 p.m.

I was not able to get much sleep during the flight, I managed maybe about an hour. I can never get comfortable enough to sleep on plane flights.

After circling Heathrow for about 15 minutes, we were finally cleared to land and we touched down in London! It was a little confusing at first making my way from where we landed in Terminal 5 to where I got my passport and visa checked, (I had to take a short shuttle to get there), but then I quickly found my bags and there was no one at customs so I was able to walk right through! file_003

I then met up with a girl that I had talked to on the UW in London Facebook page and we took a car that I had reserved online to the Metrogate building in Kensington to pick up our keys. Between the two of us, we each only paid about £20 for the trip. Much cheaper than taking the Heathrow Express, the Tube or a Black Cab Taxi! And much more convenient!

After checking in at Metrogate, I lugged my two large suitcases just over a half of a mile south to Manson Place where I am staying for the next four months. My flat is up on the third floor (so in the UK, this means the ground floor plus three floors aka the fourth floor). The building we are living in is over 300 years old and is a converted town house so it conveniently has NO elevator. I lugged both of my near 50 lbs. suitcases up the stairs. I needed a break after. No joke.

As I was the last of my roommates to arrive, I was lucky enough to get the top bunk of the quad room that I am in. Thankfully I slept on a lofted bed all last semester so am used to climbing up into bed. We also each got a large wardrobe and a small nightstand.

There are twelve of us in the flat, four guys and eight girls. We have three bathrooms and a nice common area with a large couch, tv, breakfast bar, kitchen and three fridges and freezers. It was recently renovated and is a pretty nice set up!

After settling in and partially unpacking (I still have a lot to do as they only provided about 10 hangers, so Amazon Prime UK to the rescue), we walked over to Foundation House where our classes are held. There, they took pictures of our passports and visas and then we picked up some of our course materials.

One of the Residence Life Supervisors took us on a very quick walking tour of the part of Kensington where we would be living and studying.

After that, I went out to dinner with a few of my flatmates to one of the most popular restaurants in the U.K., Nando’s. Needless to say, I was pretty excited to eat dinner at a place that Ed Sheeran has written a song about (Nando’s Skank).

Apart from forgetting to tell the woman taking my order to not put mayo on it, (no worries, I scrapped it off), Nando’s was pretty good and not too expensive so I will for sure be going back in the future.

After dinner, we made our way to Sainsburys to do a little grocery shopping. While rather large, Sainsburys is not my favorite grocery store. They are relatively cheap, but don’t have the best produce or meat sections. I plan on shopping there for dry food and goods only.

While I should have been exhausted by this point, I could not bring myself to sleep and stayed up until about 3 a.m. London time. I then finally fell asleep until about 10:30 a.m. the next morning.

Day Two

After wakinfile_005-1g up, I had some more time to finish unpacking, shower and get ready for the day. We had our first day of orientation at 2 p.m. It was held at Imperial College, just a few short blocks away from Manson Place.

This part of our orientation mainly covered what life in the “residence halls” would be like as well as helpful hints for adjusting to life in London. We were able to meet our Residence Life Supervisors and learn about programs offered in the residence halls and at the Foundation House where our classes are held.

Later in the afternoon, we walked to High Street, an area filled with different places to shop. A few of us still needed switch out our SIM cards for U.K. cards, and we ended up going to the provider “Three” for our SIM cards as they had the best coverage and deals for international individuals in the U.K. file_008

In our welcome packets, we were given tickets to a play in the West End titled “The Play That Goes Wrong.” It was at 7:30 p.m. and we had to take the tube to get there. It was my first time taking the tube and I was relatively nervous to do so, but after riding there, I discovered how easy it was to do and I am slowly beginning to understand the big map and where the different lines go. This will help with getting to different parts of the city that are way too far to walk to.

The play…in my opiniofile_005n, was not great. It was a lot of physical comedy and “dumb humor” as I like to refer to it as. The rest of the audience seemed to enjoy it though. Supposedly J.J. Abrams saw it and liked it so much he is paying for it to be brought to Broadway in New York…I don’t understand this but to each their own.

After the play, I rode the tube back to Gloucester Station with some of the girls from my flat and then enjoyed a quiet night in.

 

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My next post should be up tomorrow and will talk about my day today exploring Hyde Park!

 

London Calling

Tuesday. Tuesday. Tuesday.

That’s the day I leave for a city I’ve been dreaming about for years: London, England.

For the past week, I have procrastinated packing my allotted two suitcases with everything I will need for the next four months. For an over-packer, this is not the easiest task in the world, but I’m getting there (almost, sorta, kinda, not really…).

People have constantly been asking me how I’m feeling about leaving for London for the past month. Am I excited? Am I nervous? Anxious? Ready? Prepared?

My answer? A mix of all of the above.

I’ve never flown on a plan by myself before.

I’m extremely nervous about losing my luggage.

How does one get from Heathrow to Kensington?

I need to get a new phone service and number.

Classes last three hours-what how will I make it through that?

Rumor is they don’t have peanut butter?

Oh, and they talk funny there.

The list goes on.

For a person who hates change, this is a big step. But I’m ready(ish) for it.

I am taking part in the UW in London Study Abroad program and couldn’t be more excited! Over the past month, and especially this week, I have felt a mix of emotions as I’ve said goodbye to friends and family. I’m extremely excited to make the big trip across the pond, but I’m also incredibly sad to have had to say goodbye to so many friends and family that I won’t see for a while.

So, what will I be doing/how does my program work?

My program is split up into two parts. The first seven weeks consist of four classes each worth three UW-Madison credits. Because my program is through the Foundation for International Education and is affiliated with UW-Madison, I don’t have to worry about all of my credits transferring back like I would if I were studying abroad through a different program.

After these first seven weeks, I have a week-long break (which is basically our spring break but is at the end of February.) I hope to do a lot of traveling during this time and would really like to spend a lot of this week in Spain using my Spanish!

For the next seven weeks after this week-long break, I will be enrolled in three classes and then be placed in an internship which will take up three days each week. The internship aspect of this program is what most excited me about this program and was ultimately a deciding factor in choosing this program over the other London programs offered at UW-Madison.

For the internship, I chose between either a service internship or a regular internship. I went with the regular internship and was able to rank my first three internship choices as Music, Communications and Journalism and Media. Once I arrive in London they will inform me where I have been placed and I will have a short interview with the employer to make sure it is a good fit. I cannot wait to find out where I will be placed!

Also upon arriving in London on Wednesday morning, I will find out who my roommates are! I will have either one, two, or three other roommates. Being that I had a single room this past semester, having three or even one roommate will be a big change. I’ll be living in a flat in the borough of Kensington (the same neighborhood as Prince William and Kate OMG), and hope to bump into David Beckham while grocery shopping (one of our academic advisers has actually done this-AMAZING).

While in London, I not only plan to explore the amazing city, it’s history and culture, but also explore surrounding cities and countries. High up on my list include places like Ireland, Spain, Denmark, France and Germany. I’m sure that list will change and expand but I also want to not only be in London but truly live in London for a majority of my time abroad.

I am going to blog about my time abroad as often as possible, so be sure to keep up with the Study Abroad in London tab on mostlymotto to hear about my classes, internship, travels and everything else I do while studying abroad in one of the greatest cities in the world: London.

Seattle Day 2

SEattle. Vancouver.Whistler

Day two in Seattle began at about 8:30 am. After a quick breakfast upstairs in the hotel lounge, we found ourselves walking back up to Pike Place Market. The market was nearly unrecognizable from the night before. Vendors had filled the previously empty stalls that line the cobblestone streets of the market. Tourists and natives to Seattle littered the streets and inside market area snapping pictures, buying fresh fish and produce, and taking in the sights and smells.

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Of all the stalls we walked by, my favorites were those that housed the fresh flowers. Apart from consisting of so many amazing different colors and types of flowers, they also smelled fantastic! (Unlike the fresh fish stalls which had a very different odor to them…) If we weren’t leaving Seattle tomorrow morning I would have contemplated buying a bouquet to keep in the hotel room. They were that pretty!

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A staple of the Pike Place Market is the famous Gum Wall. After a little searching, we found the Gum Wall in an alley below the market. The walls were covered in different colored gum. Some was just a gob on the wall while other people had taken the time to stretch their gum out on the walls. It was pretty gross but also cool at the same time. I was also sure to add my own piece of gum to the wall.

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While walking through the market, we also happened to pass the “original” Starbucks that we had stopped in the night before. And wow are we lucky that we stopped in last night when the line only went two people outside the door! Today, the line went outside the door and almost down the entire block that the Starbucks sat on. There was no way that we would have waited in line to make it into the shop today. Instead we snapped a few photos out front and moved on.

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After walking through the market again, we decided to make the trek north towards the Space Needle. We still had not decided whether or not we were going to actually go up in the Space Needle as we had read many conflicting reviews on whether or not it was worth the price and the wait. When we got there, we saw the winding line that was not only inside the Space Needle but also outside. Needless to say, we made the decision to pass on going up and just snapped a few pictures instead.

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Our next destination was the Space Needle’s close neighbor, the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. This museum showcases the work of glassblower and designer Dale Chihuly. The exhibit was both indoor and outdoor and boasted glass of different shapes and vibrant colors. My favorite exhibit was the first one we walked into. It was a dark room with pink, white, and grey blown glass. Lights were set underneath the glass to give it a glow-stick light appearance. Super cool. There were also sculptures outside in the gardens which were also pretty neat. My only wonder though is what they do with the glass outside if it happens to rain or better yet, hail. I guess this is a question I’ll never know the answer to.

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It was time to grab a quick lunch after the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum so we headed across the street to the Subway located in the KOMO Plaza. This is important. Why might you ask? Well, the KOMO Plaza just so happens to be one of the locations that Grey’s Anatomy is shot at. It is a local television studio that Grey’s Anatomy calls home for scenes that involve Grey Sloan Memorial’s helipad shots and some outside shots of the hospital as well. The helipad is easily recognizable as the one from the TV series and they even have SGH permanently etched onto the TV station’s helipad today.

After lunch we visited the EMP Museum, or the Experience Music Project Museum. This museum hosts exhibits devoted to music, sci-fi and horror movies, pop-culture. I had read good reviews of the museum and was excited to go see what all the hype was about. After walking through each exhibit though, I was sadly disappointed by what I saw or rather didn’t see. While there was a lot to look at, it was not what I expected it to be. The museum boasted many science fiction and horror movie props, had a large wing dedicated to Jimi Hendrix, an exploratory music lab aimed at little kids making as much noise as they could at once, and a wearable art exhibit that seemed like the odd man out to everything else in the museum. To me, the best part was seeing Sirius Black’s costume from the Harry Potter movies and the costumes from the Princess Bride. If you are planning on visiting Seattle any time soon, I would advise you to skip the EMP Museum.

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On our way back from the Space Needle area, we walked through the Olympic Sculpture Park. While the park itself did not seem to contain as many sculptures as I had thought it would, the view of the ocean was incredible and not something you want to skip.

Later in the evening, I lived the life of Derek Shepherd and rode the ferry boat from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. The ferry boat ride lasted about 35 minutes and had great views of both the Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier off in the distance. When we got to Bainbridge Island, we headed to their cute little downtown area by foot to find a restaurant for dinner. We ended up at a Mexican restaurant, Isla Bonita, just a short walk away from the ferry boat docking area. After dinner, we headed back to the dock to catch the boat back to Seattle. Taking the ferry  to Bainbridge Island was a great low-cost option that boasts great views of Seattle instead of taking a more expensive tour by boat. Highly suggest taking the ferry instead of a boat tour. Plus, Bainbridge Island is a very pretty escape from the busy streets of Seattle.

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Over the course of the day, we walked about 10 miles. My Fitbit says 22,788 steps. Wow. A very exhausting day, but we fit a ton of what we wanted to see in so most definitely worth each and every step. Tomorrow we head off bright and early to cross the border and make our way to Vancouver, Canada!

Seattle Day 1

Seattle Day 1

We arrived in Seattle, Washington at about 5:30 pm Seattle time (so 7:30 pm Wisconsin time). I was amazed by all the mountains we saw from the plane on the way in. The trip from Sea-Tac to our hotel, the Seattle Marriott Waterfront, took about 30 minutes by taxi. Along the way, we passed Centurylink Field and Safeco Field, home to the Mariners, Seattle Seahawks, and Seattle Sounders FC.

After settling in at the hotel, we made our way by foot to the lakefront piers to find dinner and were able to sit outside and watch the sun set. The glare coming off of the water was intense, but it was so cool to watch the ferry boats go back and forth between Seattle’s piers and nearby Bainbridge Island. One of my things to do while we are here is take a ferry to Bainbridge Island and back. The plan is to do so next weekend when we are back in Seattle.

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After dinner, it was time to do some exploring. Our hotel is only a few short blocks away from Pike Place Market, and while it was about 8:30 and the market was long closed, we took a walk through anyways.

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Before coming to Seattle I had no idea how hilly the city really was. To get up to the market from the pier area, you have to climb about a block’s worth of stairs. Kinda crazy, but most definitely worth the climb.

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When we reached the top, all of the stalls were empty, but it was fun to walk through the deserted alleyways and corridors. Many other tourists were out doing the same thing. Neon lights lit up the streets and it was a fun, artsy atmosphere to be in.

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We were strolling through the cobblestone streets when I turned to my right and realized we had made our way to the “original” Starbucks. I say “original” because the story is that the first Starbucks ever built has since been torn down and this one in Pike Place Market is the next oldest to the original-original and therefore has been given the name the “Original” Starbucks.

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Anyways, I had read that the lines are incredibly long during the daytime and go out the door and down the block so many people say to stop for a picture and move on. We happened upon the Starbucks at the perfect time because the line only went to the door on the inside. My aunt is a Starbucks fanatic and requested that we stop to get her a mug while in Seattle so this was the perfect time to stop in.

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We waited in line and made our way into the store. Different cups, mugs, and tumblers lined one wall while baristas manned the counter on the other side of the store. Because I love a good tall tumbler for all the water I drink, I decided to buy one. I mean, how could I pass up a tumbler from the original Starbucks? When checking out, I handed over my Starbucks gift card to the barista and he mentioned how cool my Los Angeles gift card was. I told him how I had gotten from Ellen when I attended one of her shows and he proceeded to yell to the barista next to him, “Look how cool this card is! She got it from Ellen when she went to the Ellen show!! I LOVE Ellen! Is it weird that I would marry her if I could? No? I don’t really care anyways if its weird. She should run for president!” This interaction was incredible. The baristas at the “original” Starbucks are hilarious, energetic, and clearly love what they do. This interaction wasn’t the only cool thing to happen while in the store. We also happened to be the last customers let into the store for the night which is kind of awesome to be able to say we closed the “original” Starbucks.

After Starbucks, we continued our walk. We were on a mission to find a small deli or supermarket to buy some water and I wanted to get a few apples for the next few days. We continued to walk along and suddenly saw a large crowd gathered a few streets down as well as the sounds of a marching band playing. I convinced my family to keep on walking so we went to check it out.

It turns out that the Seafair Parade was going on. Crowds of people lined the street taking in the sights and sounds of the parade. Because it was about 9:30 at night, everything was lit up in the parade from the marching bands, to the floats and performers. We stayed to watch for a bit and then went to find a supermarket.

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When we arrived back in our room, we found a note and some cookies laid out in front of the TV. Someone had come by to drop off some extra towels and a rollaway bed and had spotted my Wisconsin Badger water bottle in my backpack. They left the cutest little note mentioning seeing the water bottle and saying “Go Badgers!” Needless to say, day one of Seattle was a success!

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I can’t wait to see what we get ourselves into tomorrow! I’m not sure what my plan is blog wise, if I will be posting daily during the trip or not, but today was so great that I just had to share what we got up to!

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