I would like to preface this post by saying that the past week has been filled with so much excitement – both here and back home – that it feels like months since my last post. I have learned so much about my new temporary life in London in such a short time and I can’t wait to share it with you.
First, I want to thank my wonderful parents for the opportunity to study abroad. My life has been a gift, and I am the luckiest girl around. I miss you guys so much! Next, congratulations to my Kappa Kappa Gamma sisters. I am crazy excited to meet all of the new members in the spring, and stalk them via social media in the meantime. You women make me so proud. Congratulations on a successful recruitment!
Now, on to some news on my London adventures. Let me pick up where I left off on Friday August 31. That evening, members of the American Institute of Foreign Study London 2012 class enjoyed a boat tour on the Thames River. We departed while the sun was still up, and after dancing, drinks and scenic views we hit land once again. All in all, it was a great chance for everyone on the program to get to know one another before the start of classes. The next morning, I woke up bright and early for a trip of the Chelsea Futbol Club Stadium. The tour was complete with a look at the pressroom, the locker rooms and the players’ sideline seats. It was great to get an up-close look at a huge piece of European culture – an unyielding passion for futbol. Sunday morning marked a tour of the Olympic Stadium. While we couldn’t get very close, the roar of the crowd from the Paralympics was absolutely profound. On Sunday evening I wrapped up the weekend with a Jack the Ripper tour. Jack the Ripper is an unidentified serial killer who was active in 1888 in the Whitechapel district of London. Our tour guide was fantastic and it was an eerie occurrence to walk where his victims were found so many years ago.
My first week of classes was absolutely wonderful. I could not have asked for a better schedule and the week flew by. I have officially purchased all of my school supplies and books and am ready to learn. Adapting to a new learning style is going to be an adjustment, however. Instead of continuous small tasks throughout the semester, all of my classes here contain about three large assignments – usually a midterm, a final and an essay.
Enough about classes, now more news on exciting weekend activities. On Thursday night, the gals and I got dressed up in our finest for a trip to the London Fashion Night Out. “Posh” is the only word that comes to mind when I think about this fabulous evening. I looked around in awe at the fashion sense of everyone around me, every designer store under the sun, live music and free food. Notable stops included Tory Burch and Longchamp, where we were served bottomless champagne to enhance our browsing experiences. On Friday morning, we headed to Buckingham Palace for a tour of this historical must-see. Upon entering the palace, we were given a headset and a small remote controller for a personalized audio tour. I was skeptical of this system at first, but it proved to be a wonderful way to allow each person to tour the palace at his or her own pace. I cannot even begin to describe the splendor inside the palace walls. Each room was decorated so intricately, that the rooms seem to come alive. I was lucky to have the opportunity to tour Buckingham Palace, as it is only open to the public June through October while the Queen is away.
On Saturday, we headed to the London Eye for an awe-inspiring view of the Thames and London. Needless to say, our long wait in the queue (line) was well worth it. After walking around for a while at the Thames River Festival we headed home for a good night’s rest before a Sunday visit to Bath and Stonehenge. Two masterpieces of history, these two landmarks were must-see components of my European adventure. The weather was beautiful and the sights were absolutely amazing.
Random anomalies from this past week include, but are not limited to, Oyster Card purchases, topping up, wine stashes, multiple phones and no lunches. About the Oyster Card, a magical ticket to the Tube, and therefore anywhere in London, is both a wonder and a curse. It’s a wonder when there is enough money to travel from A to B, and a curse when forced to “top up” or add more money to the card before descending into this wonderful world of public transportation. Fortunately, I have ordered an unlimited student card and it should be here next week. Until then, I need to lay off on the tubing. Finally, I have learned that having a constant stash of cheap wine in one’s room can save an exceptional amount of money, that handling two phones at once is harder than you think, and stealing food from the dining hall is necessary if you have your sights set on “skipping lunch” to cut costs.