I spent five days in London over fall break, visiting a dear friend from college who is killing it in her masters program at University College London. I spent one month in London after my freshman year of college, so I had already done most of the typical “touristy” things. This trip was all about immersing myself in life as a local. I tried to envision what my daily routine might look like if I lived there. It wasn’t hard to picture- I’ve always been drawn to the city and could easily imagine moving there one day. Who knows?! That seems to be a big theme in my life these days: who knows?
It was so wonderful to have deep, meaningful conversations with an old friend. I miss close friendships with peers. I know it takes time to develop these in a new place, and I just have to be patient, but it’s hard to wait. I want to have best friends here right now…and yet, I’m okay. Day by day, moment by moment. Trips like this sustain me until those new relationships take root and begin to grow. Can you relate?
Below are a few photos from my iPhone because I was too lazy to lug my nice camera around in the rain on that trip. There are also a few other photos from the past few days. Enjoy!Look at this smart lady! She could defend me and my human rights anywhere, anytime.Sometimes you just have to geek out and play tourist.If I look cold, it’s because I was.The Wheel of Fortune, otherwise known as the London Eye.Knotting Hill!Dr. Who fans, where you at? This is the location of the original Tartus in the show.My new university ID. Never mind that I look like a Chinese boy…
My new friend Ian, with whom I take classes at Uni. We are always struggling with Wifi connections but it makes for a funny time.My colleagues and I at a dinner during our trip to Flossenbürg, the concentration camp in Bavaria where Dietrich Bonhoeffer was killed.Famous Nurnberger sausagesI’m always on some train or other. This one was bound for Frankfurt, where I went out with a few friends for Halloween.This photo pretty much sums up how Halloween ended…yes, I do know this person. It was fun 🙂
Have a good week, friends!
A few of the highlights from my trip!
- Highclere Castle- Otherwise known as Downton Abbey to fans of the show, this was one of my favorite day trips. It was an hour train ride through scenic countryside to the little town of Newburry, where we caught a taxi to the 5,000 acre estate of Earl and Lady Carvarvon. Read more about it here!
- Shows- I saw ‘War Horse,’ ‘Once,’ and ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ in the West End. There are a million discount ticket booths, and you can also go to the theater window an hour before the show starts to buy cheap tickets.
- Bath- Such an interesting town! It is in the more mountainous region of south England. The Romans were crazy good at innovation and architecture. I was so impressed by the ancient roman baths, I just wish I could have taken a soak in the natural hot springs. I would recommend the three hour bus ride, it was definitely worth it! Read more here.
- National Gallery- Degas, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, Michael Angelo, you name it, they’re at the National Gallery! This museum is an art lovers paradise- and free admission! What could be better?
- High Tea- I have been having tea withdrawals since I returned home. I need a tea IV hooked up to my arm. The tea there is wonderful, and it is usually served with scones, clotted cream, and jam. Yum!
- Camden Market- Crazy, overwhelming, and exciting! There were so many food booths I wanted to try, and innumerable stalls to explore. Definitely a fun day outing!
- Hyde Park- The house I stayed in was right next to Hyde Park, London’s ‘Central Park.’ It is an extensive network of gardens, fields, paths, and lakes. I rode bikes around it one Sunday afternoon and stopped to watch speaker’s corner for a bit. I would recommend spending some time in the park, and be sure to walk around Kensington Gardens and palace, a subsection of Hyde Park. Pictures here!
- Punting- punting in Cambridge is…an experience. It was hard to do by yourself if you’re a weak girl like me, so I would recommend getting a guide. But it is the thing to do in Cambridge!
- Pubs- I don’t generally drink or spend much time in bars, but I genuinely enjoyed kicking back in a pub for a few hours with friends. The atmosphere is relaxed and light. I loved sipping cider and talking about the days events with a close girlfriend.
- London Eye- A bit pricey (they don’t call it the wheel of fortune for nothing) but totally worth it. The views are stunning and it is an easy way to see all the big monuments. See pictures here.
I made a little video to capture my time in London. Enjoy!
Punting boats along the river. Punting is an old tradition in Cambridge, so I had to try it! Unfortunately I didn’t get many good pictures of myself punting because I was focused on not falling into the river 🙂When the sun is out, everyone is out!Good thing I’ve walked everywhere this trip! ^^The Round Church is the second oldest building in Cambridge, built in 1130 AD.
A cute little shop I peaked in ^^
Hello friends! My group has moved to Cambridge, a town about an hour and a half away from Oxford. Although they are both college towns, they have their own distinct atmospheres. Cambridge is much more rural, with more parks, rivers, and fields. There are also more tourists, street performers, and open air markets. The other day, for instance, I heard some noise outside my window and looked out to find a Shakespeare play being performed on a little stage in the park! There is a liveliness and optimism about this town that I love, and will miss when we leave on Thursday. I know this months prompt for Travel Tuesdays (a weekly blogosphere event I participate in) is Travel Bucket list, but I just couldn’t bring myself to write about another place when I’m presently enjoying this place so much! So if Cambridge is on your travel bucket list, I hope you find this post enjoyable 🙂
1. British people are very helpful– Although Brits are a bit more reserves, don’t hesitate to ask questions. They are eager to help in any way they can. So many kind people have given me directions, discounts, and suggestions. They want to make sure you have a good time in their country!
2. Always carry an umbrella– It could be seventy five and sunny one moment and start a torrential downpour the next. Stick a rain coat or travel umbrella in your bag at all times. I learned that the hard way!
3. Look Right– When you go to cross the street, make sure to look right instead of left for on coming traffic since they drive on the other side of the road. It took a while to retrain myself and I still don’t quite understand pedestrian rules! Luckily in London they painted look right on all the cross walks to help out the tourists- how considerate!
4. Pronunciation– Sometimes I forget we are speaking the same language! Americans pronounce things much more phonetically than Brits. For instance, the H in Buckingham Palace is silent, the T in Tube makes a CH sound, and Gloucester Square is pronounced Gloster. Remember these rules and you’ll sound like a local in no time!
5. Museums are free– Most museums in London are free, which is great, especially for a student budget. Also, most things that require tickets offer a student discount with valid ‘student card’ as they call it.
6. Humor– I love British humor! It is more subtle and dry, but hilarious if you’re listening closely. Think ‘Mr. Bean’ funny. American humor is more blatant and pronounced, so you don’t have to pay that close attention to know when a joke is being made. Everyone here is so funny in an understated way! I’ve always had a quieter sense of humor, so I think I’d fit right in here.
7. European– Brits don’t really consider themselves European. They are in the EU, but have their own currency and identity. I think being separated on an island makes them a bit more distinct.
8. Fabulous Foods– England doesn’t deserve its reputation for boring food, in my opinion! I have had some wonderful meals. The UK is incredibly diverse, resulting in diverse and exciting foods. A few of my favorite meals so far have been Indian, Mediterranean, French, Lebanese, and German! Oh, and don’t forget to try the traditional Fish N’ Chips.
9. Tea Time– Brits really do love their tea. High tea is a specific type of cream tea served with scones, jam, and clotted cream. Yummy! I would have it every day if I could afford it. Tea and coffee are offered with every meal 🙂 I think I’ve had more tea than water on this trip! I’m officially converted.
10. England vs. Britain vs. UK– I was always confused about which title to use. England is only the country of England. (Great) Britain is England and Wales, and the UK is England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Most English people I met call themselves Brits, although it definitely varies and I still probably get it wrong half the time 🙂
Why hello there! As my time in London draws to a close and I move to Oxford, I am reflecting on the things I’ve learned about myself and others through this experience. I’d love to share a few of my thoughts about traveling, if you’ll let me! Thanks 🙂
- Pick your battles– If you are traveling in a group, you may have to do what they want to do, even if it’s not your first choice. If your choice isn’t your top priority, try to go along with them. I have experienced this particularly with restaurant choices. I always seem to want to eat somewhere no one else wants. However, I usually just go along with their decision, because it is not worth fighting over. The restaurants they pick are good too! There are bigger and better things stand up for.
- Don’t be afraid to go it alone– That being said, there are certain things not to compromise on. For instance, I really wanted to go to Camden Market. No one else wanted to go, so I went by myself. And you know what? It was wonderful! I didn’t have to keep track of anyone, I could do exactly what I wanted on my own schedule. When I travel alone, I take things in better. I notice all the little details of my surrounding I may have missed if I was caught up in conversation.
- Try not to panic– something anxiety inducing is bound to happen while traveling. For instance, I hopped on an underground train but my friends didn’t make it on in time. I mouthed through the window that I would get off at the next stop. That was the longest ride of my life! But I didn’t panic, and was reunited with them at the next stop. If you remind yourself that the worst that can happen is you meet up at home, you will stay much calmer in the face of adversity!
- Rest is important– This one is difficult for me. I like to go go go. I find myself saying you will never be here again, so don’t stop. However, after two weeks of this mentality, my body gave way. I got a sore throat and a slight fever. Remind yourself that you probably will be here again, and even if you won’t, there is no point in walking around sick because you can’t appreciate anything that way. Part of vacation is rest and relaxation.
- Accept that you will spend money– I am very frugal and sometimes get stressed when I spend large amounts of money. So stressed, in fact, that I prevent myself from enjoying the thing I spent money on. The whole time I am worrying that I won’t have enough money to do other things. Accept that you will spend lots of money. You budgeted, and it’s okay! Take advantage of the opportunity.
- Flexibility is key– This point echoes number one. I can’t tell you how many times our plans changed unexpectedly- a train wasn’t working, it started raining, you don’t feel well. Try to be positive and roll with the punches…easier said than done, I admit!
- You won’t see everything– London (or where ever you are) is just too big a city to see it all. Even the people who live here can’t see it all. Pick a few key things and enjoy them!
- Gratitude– When I feel grumpy or upset about something, I remind myself where I am and how lucky I am to be here. This usually makes me feel calmer and more satisfied!
- Regret is Killer– I regret things easily. I’m not sure why! Try not to think about things you didn’t do, just focus on all the things you did do.
- Record– Find some way to record your adventures. For me, it is this blog. For others it may be a diary, photos, souvenirs, etc. It will be awesome to look back on them and smile on a rainy day!
Me and my friend the Roman centurion ^^ You are never too old to play dress up at the Jane Austen Museum ^^
The Royal Crescent, where Bath’s most affluent residence live ^^ Hello friends! Yesterday I took a bus out to Bath with a few friends to explore the ancient Roman Baths. A natural hot spring bubbles up from the ground in this town, and the Romans took advantage- they built an extensive spa complex dedicated to the goddess Aquea Sulis. The baths were world renown for their supposed healing powers. I had so much fun walking around, and even got to taste the water. After, we saw the ‘Circus’ and the ‘Royal Crescent,’ two circles made of beautiful town homes, were the wealthiest residence live. We also went to the Jane Austen Museum, as she lived in Bath for a period of time and mentions it in all her books. I have read ‘Northanger Abbey,’ which is entirely set in Bath, so it was great to really understand the context of the story. I could definitely see myself living in Bath- it has the quaint England charm without the busy pace of the big city. Thanks for the great day Bath, I’ll be back!