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!