Please check back soon to read the blogs of our Fall 2015 England Study Abroad student, Julia!
This week starts midterms, and I have started my reflection on my experience abroad thus far. I cant believe it is half over. I NEVER want to leave London, this has become my home and my favoutite city in the world. I cant imagine ever going back and living in the states, although I know that'll be coming shortly. We've traveled to fabulous places such as Dublin and Rome and have met some amazing people. I have a midterm in every class this week, so this blog will be short and sweet so I can get back to studying.
This past weekend we went to Roma, Italia!!! It was such a fun city and I definitely enjoyed it much more than Dublin. I met a guy on our flight there named Gianpaolo and he was from Italy and gave me suggestions on where to go. Thank god for Gianpaolo because we had nothing planned. The first night we got there late and went to get diner at this little restaurant close to our hostel. the most AMAZING meal weve ever had. Caprese and spaghetti and we had two bottles of wine between the three of us. This was Caitlyn, Tara and I's first time staying in a hostel and it was really nice it was in the City Centre, walking distance from everything! On Friday morning we went to the Vatican and the Colosseum, the Colosseum was such an amazing experience. It was 65 and sunny all day and we all walked away with a bit of colour on our faces. The next day we went to the Spanish steps and walked along Via Del Corso, which is perfect for people watching and shopping. We knew going there that the Trevi Fountain was going to be under construction, it looked terrible, I would go back to Rome just to see the Trevi Fountain and make a wish.
Rome was a fabulous city, and super easy to get around. Not sure if I could ever live there though, I love London too much!
Me, Caitlyn and Tara
BEST MEAL EVER
As I am approaching the end of week 4 abroad, I'm reflecting on all of the fun and exciting things I've done thus far! We went to the Camden Market the other week and it's the most amazing place ever!
Camden Market, Camden High Street
At these markets you can get food, artwork, jewelery, clothing, souvenirs and so much more! The food was really good here I had a crepe and split Indian food with Tara. You can literally spend all day here and still not see everything. We are going again this Sunday to look at some of the street art which is Banksy inspired.
Tower Bridge, River Thames
This weekend we went to Ireland and stayed in an Air BnB in Dublin. Dublin is a very nice city but it definitely wasn't what I was expecting. You have to stay in the Temple Bar area or else there really isn't anything else to do. I went with three other girls from Sacred Heart, Tara, Caitlyn and Julianne and one of our friends from St. Rose, Julie. We signed up last minute for a bus trip to Galway and Cork. Out there you can see castles and the cliffs. The Cliffs of Moher are a big tourist attraction, but I have to say that the baby cliffs were prettier, in my opinion. Staying in an Air BnB is definitely a good and safe way to go. Its as cheap as a hostel but you have the whole place to yourself and don't have to worry about anyone else. When we travel to Rome, Italy in 2 weeks we are staying in a hostel for comparison though! Ireland is such a pretty place and with a last name like, O'Reilly, I felt as if I was returning back to the motherland.
Cliffs of Moher
Throwing what I know while overlooking the Cliffs
the baby cliffs
Throwing a pint back at the Guinness Factory in Dublin at the top of the Gravity Bar you can overlook all of Dublin, a very cool sight and a must see on your trip!
I've found myself now slowly picking up on the language difference they use here, such as, queue for line, cheers for thank you or goodbye, lift instead of elevator and other small things!
The first two weeks in London have been amazing thus far. London is filled with beauty, excitement, diversity and new adventures around every corner. Since being here we have done a lot of sight seeings.. I want to get all of the tourist activities out of the way, so I can try and blend in and look like a Londoner (in my wildest dreams). Already we have gone to see the Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and many other famous landmarks.
With Regents, they have planned many student excursions throughout the semester where you can go to Paris or Edinborough. In the first week they had a boat cruise around the Thames River, after the cruise we all went to a club in Piccadilly, Rumba. Piccadilly reminds me a lot of Times Square. By going on some of these student excursions it makes it a lot easier to make new friends! This past Thursday we had a student pub crawl throughout Camden (a super trendy little neighborhood, known for their nightlife). It was a lot of fun, and I'm glad I did it with a big group of friends.
It was very easy for me to pick up the tube routes. The Underground is very easy to get the hang of, but it closes early in the night. So the next activity on my London agenda is to learn the bus routes, since they run at all times!
Classes are going great! since I've only just finished my first week, they've been pretty easy. I'm taking Organisational Behaviour, Business Law, International Business and World Religions. I'm very excited about Business Law because were learning specifically on the England and Wales Body of Laws. In my World Religions class we are going to go to many religious worship places throughout London, such as The Mosque, Synagogue, Church and other places of worship throughout the semester to help expand our horizon on what religion is and what it means to us as individuals
Off to class now
Until next time
I compose my first blog post now as I look at my dining room table covered in what should be four months worth of clothing. Just like when I left for school freshman year, packing and making sure this is what I absolutely need. I'm excited to embark on this journey to London. The excitement outweighs the nerves that I have right now, which is a good thing, since I leave tomorrow night from JFK. The roller coaster of emotions right now would compare to a ride on King da Ka!
I feel very blessed to be given the opportunity to go to London for a semester. I know that this is a once in a lifetime experience and something I will cherish forever. Regents University seems to be a very picturesque university with brick buildings camouflaged with vine. I'm ecstatic to be studying Marketing and International Business in one of the most business savvy and modern cities in the world. Regents is located right in the heart of London, I will do my best to utilize and take advantage of all the great opportunities this fabulous city has to offer.
All of my friends from SHU returned yesterday, and although I know I will miss all of them like crazy, I cant wait to come back and share with all of them my crazy stories, ones that I also plan to share here with all of you! Giving everyone a real and unfiltered version of what it's really like to study abroad in London!
Until next time
Between finishing my last travels around Europe and tying in the loose ends of my final exams, it is absolutely astounding that I only have four days left in London. It has been an incredible journey and truly one I will never forget. Between having a clearer idea of what I want to do, propagating a heightened independence and confidence, and securing a new outlook on the world, I have grown tremendously. Study abroad should be required for each and every student during college. It is the best way to push yourself to new limits, experience culture and diversity, and realize that the world you are living in is not the only one on the globe. Although I am excited to be home and see my family, friends, and let's be real, my dog, I am going to miss city life more than anything. Just being able to have so much at your fingertips, the capability to travel anywhere around Europe so easily, and the ability to walk into some of the most historical places in the world... Although the reverse culture shock will be apparent, it will be good to get back to my reality with a new and positive outlook on life.
To wrap up my time here, I thought I would share some of my favorite experiences I've had this semester.
1. Primrose Hill- Because my university is located in Regent's Park, walking around is the best way to get a little peace of mind and quietness from the busy city. The first few days I was in London I walked through the park to discover a giant hill right in the middle (something atypical in London). After climbing it, I discovered the most beautiful skyline of London. Everything from Big Ben to the London Eye to the Shard was visible- it was one of the most incredible first days of being abroad. I saw a majority of my city right in front of my eyes and the start of my journey finally felt real.
2. Germany- Whereas the mass amounts of beer and pretzels and singing Germans was pretty fantastic, what really got me was the juxtaposition I found myself in there. On the first day we were celebrating and laughing and having a great time at Oktoberfest, and the next, we were touring Dachau concentration camp. It just made me realize that there will always be beauty, but also tragedy in the world, and it is important to take notice of both.
3. The Beatles- I am a Beatles fanatic, and it seems that all of England is too. From walking Abbey Road in London, to going on the Magical Mystery tour in Liverpool, to seeing the John Lennon wall in Prague, you can say I was extremely happy. So Beatles fans of the world: come to London.
4. Madrid- Definitely my favorite trip this semester was to Spain. It is such a beautiful city with such a relaxed vibe- I wish I could have stayed longer than a weekend. My friend and I were able to experience the most delicious paella and Sangria, see a Flamenco performance in a small tapas bar, go to a local salsa club, and walk the entire city in two days. I definitely want to spend an extended amount of time traveling all the major cities in Spain at some point in my life.
5. The markets- London is filled with street markets and, my friends can contest, I was at one at least once a week. With an abundance of food, textile and jewelry vendors, flowers, street art, and vintage goods, there is always something interesting to see. More so, I found the markets to be the best places to find the most cultural diversity. You can see every type of person either selling their ethnic food or walking around. It is a great place to eat, shop, and people watch.
6. London Film Festival- the BFI London film festival took place in October and it was amazing to be able to attend an event I had only ever read about. Seeing films from every genre and from every part of the world (while even seeing some of the stars and directors) was every film major's dream experience.
6 countries, 12 cities, and 4 classes later, my journey has officially come to an end.
Next stop: SHU
In the past month, I've traveled to Paris, France; Amsterdam, Netherlands; and Bruges, Belgium. It still amazes me how easy it is to travel between different countries across the UK and Europe-- all I need is a passport and documentation from my university. Although I am slowly becoming more broke as the days go on, I keep reminding myself that this is a once in a lifetime experience. Not many people get to say they lived in London for 4 and a half months when they were 19! With this mindset, I'm grasping every opportunity to travel and realizing that the money spent will be earned back when I come home. Back to the SHU library I go... But latest moment of spontaneity: a few nights ago, my friend and I were bored and distracted from our homework, so we booked a trip to Prague, Czech Republic for December. Definitely a procrastination method I am going to miss when coming back to CT. Reverse culture shock say what?
The first trip was to Paris when my parents came to visit. Paris was so beautiful and totally beat all expectations I previously had. We did have some problems, though, that are important to look out for! Because my family was only here for a week, we decided just to book a tour and do a day trip to Paris. However, the Eurostar train to get to Paris (about 2 hours from London) was delayed and we missed about 3 hours of sightseeing. Finally, when we did manage to get to Paris, our tour guide was a little unorganized and didn't accomodate our time properly. Definitely check out Trip Advisor before going on any tour or staying at any hotel/hostel. It is essentially the "Rate My Professor" of travel guides. More so, it is impossible to see a country in a day. I definitely recommend spending the night wherever you go- it is completely worth the extra money to truly take in the country you're visiting and not to feel so rushed.
Despite the few downfalls, it was still one of the best and coolest days I've had. We got to have lunch in the Eiffel Tower and climb our way to the top, cruise down the Seine River, and walk around the Louvre.
Paris is definitely a place for romance, so next time I might come without my parents haha.
The next trip was a double country tour of Amsterdam and Bruges. My friends from Regent's and I took an overnight bus to Amsterdam first (yes, it is wildly uncomfortable, but yes, you save a ton of money.) It was about 10 hours counting in rest stops and customs. When we got there in the morning we had a walking tour of the city followed by free time to explore. I absolutely loved Amsterdam- the architecture, the canals, the biking, the liberal and easy going vibe characterizing the city... Luckily we came on a beautiful day, so walking around was fantastic. When traveling for such short amounts of time, you really have to prioritize your plans. Unfortunately, to get into the Anne Frank House, you had to wait 2 and a half hours in line. Rather than wait, we walked to the famous "I AMsterdam" sign, went to the Van Gogh museum, and then at night explored the Red Light District. Because prostitution and marijuana is legal in Amsterdam, it was an environment I had never experienced before. However, it was completely eye opening to see the different forms of legality in other countries and the opinions/character ecompassing the local people.
The next morning we got back on the bus and traveled to Bruges, Belgium. It only took about 2 hours to get there which was great. I had no expectations for Bruges, only what I saw in the film "In Bruges." However, it completely amazed me. The city had such a quaint and charming character- I could have spent an entire weekend there. Belgium is known for its waffles, beer, and chocolate, so food was definitely a necessity before we had to get back on the bus and head home.
Now I've got a couple more weeks of just enjoying London (and getting my school work done), but next stop is Madrid, Spain! More to come :)
October has been a whirlwind of a month! Between mid-term exams, visitors from home, and still so much of London to see, time is officially flying. I can't believe my journey here is halfway over and soon I will be back in CT.
The past few weeks have been incredible. I was able to attend the London film festival, go see 2 shows in the theater district-- Memphis and Speed the Plow (Lindsay Lohan was in it!)-- went to 2 concerts-- Atmosphere and Ed Sheeran-- and have been exploring new boroughs of London on the weekends where I've discovered some great cafes, vintage stores, and outdoor food markets. Thank goodness for all of the walking or I would have surely put on the "Study Abroad 15" by now.
However, the best times this month have been with my friend Steve and my parents visiting London. It is so nice to have a taste of home right in the middle of the semester. I'm not one to get too homesick, but sometimes the feeling hits and you really do crave friends and family.
I booked tickets to go on the London Eye about a month ago, so I'm so happy the time finally came. We were able to go on a 30 minute rotation at sunset and take in the entire London skyline with a guided tour and champagne. I could see the same sights of London every day and never get tired of it.
We also went on a great day trip to some new parts of England: Windsor, Stonehenge, and Bath. It was awesome being able to finally see some of the sights I've had on my bucket lists for years and to experience them with Steve. Our favorite part of the day trip though had to be the city of Bath. A mini-Italy, the streets were very European-esque and the Roman Bath hot spring was astounding. Can't believe something from 60 AD is still in such great condition.
My parents arrived last week and are staying in a flat in the West End. Besides having somewhere to sleep other than my dorm, I'm having such a great time showing them my new stomping grounds. As I'm touring them around, I feel as though I really am growing and changing into a more independent and mature person on this trip. (They also are convinced I am making them crippled by all the walking I'm making them do.)
My whole family are such Beatles fans, so it was a necessity to take my parents to Liverpool, England! It was about a 3 hour train ride there, but the city itself was really cool and had a neat charm to it. We walked around, had a classic Fish and Chips lunch, and of course ended our day on The Beatles Magical Mystery tour. Seeing the fab four's original homes and the streets and restuarants and landmarks that inspired their music was so interesting.
Although it seems impossible to want to leave London, I experienced my first European excursion this weekend- all the way to Munich, Germany!
Although there are ways to find cheap travel, especially though Ryanair or on the Eurostar train, it is sometimes even cheaper to go through a tour group. Some friends and I went through "Stoke Travel" which at first seemed a bit sketchy, but you just have to go with the flow when you're abroad. It provided us with an overnight bus to Munich (13 loooong hours) and sleeping/eating arrangements. Overall though, the experience through Stoke was once in a lifetime. It was filled with young people from all over the world, lots of after-parties, and camping out in tents at night.
(Luckily we had tents haha)
Some new friends from Australia and England.
The primary reason for going to Munich was to attend Oktoberfest. It was an experience to say the least! People were leaving the campsite at 7am just to get a table inside one of the large beer tents. Being there, though, was a lot of fun. Perhaps it was the beer talking, but everyone I encountered was super friendly and all gathered just to have a good time. Even the German locals put up with us Americans haha, they were extremely nice and willing to share a table with us and teach us their traditional songs.
After a while, however, Oktoberfest was getting a bit too crowded and a bit too carnival like, so a friend and I decided to go explore Munich. And I am so happy I did. Although most people just go to Germany to attend Oktoberfest, it's important to have a balance between that and actually seeing the country you're in. Otherwise, it is a waste of a traveling experience. I was able to also go on a tour of Dachau Concentration Camp on the last day which was definitely a heavy and surreal experience. Although I was going from such a happy mood to a somber one so quickly, every student should take in a chance like that and really see where history happened. I did not take any pictures at the camp, but here are some of Munich itself.
Forever spending all of my money on coffee, but what else is new?