Monday, January 31, 2011


My fans (A.K.A. my parents) have been demanding another blog post about my weekend, and I am here to deliver.

On Saturday, we had a tour of Parliament. It was the coolest place ever. It was so beautiful inside, and it's so crazy to think that it's a place of work. Like, "Welcome to my office, please have a seat. Yes, my office is lined in rich murals and carved with gold. Oh no, don't have a seat there, that's where the Queen sits." We learned all about the traditions of government, as well as the history of the British kings and government. It was fascinating. Unfortunately, you can't take pictures inside, and while I was brave enough to break that rule at St. Paul's, I was NOT about to get tackled and wrestled for my camera by one of the numerous police officers all throughout the building.

Then, at night, I had a lovely dinner date with Steve. We were dressed nicely, made ourselves dinner, and met on Skype around 9:00 my time, 4:00 his time. We talked for five hours. It was amazing. I really miss just being able to talk to him all throughout the day as things happen. It's so much different to talk for an hour or two at a time and just catch up on everything, rather than just texting him as things happen. I miss him so much.

Today, we had our tour of the Tower of London and then did a Jack the Ripper walk. The Tower of London was morbidly interesting. That disturbed part in us all just loves learning about where the traitors were held, where people like Ann Boleyn were beheaded, and the various methods of torture they implemented. My favorite one was called "Scavenger's Daughter," where they fold you in thirds (shins against thighs, thighs against stomach) and put you in a box, and press the box in more and more until you just die. Lovely, right? We saw all the royal jewels, like the various crowns, the jewel encrusted swords, and what I call "The royal cheese and cracker plates" because of all the gold dishware. They had a gold punch bowl and ladle about the size of a bathtub... THAT'S what I need at my next party.

Then we had the Jack the Ripper walk, which would have been a tremendous amount more enjoyable if I wasn't so sure I was going to die from the cold. It was FREEZING. We were warm when we originally left this morning because we were in the sunlight, but all of the activities today were in the shade and we were not prepared. I was so chilled to the bone that it took me a few hours after coming back that I finally regained feeling. The tour was still really neat though. We learned all about the history of Jack the Ripper and the women that were killed (a lot of which I knew already from the fabulous Johnny Depp movie, "From Hell"), and saw different sites where they were last seen or found dead. Again, that morbid curiosity in me went wild.

We closed out the night with a very American trip to Chipotle. I don't care though. Say what you want as about 12 of us Americans come into Chipotle and monopolize the tables in the back, make fun of our country all you want in this moment, because once I dove face first and sunk my teeth into a burrito the size of my head, nothing else mattered.

(Pictured: 1- Me outside of Parliament; 2- Traitor's Gate at the Tower of London; 3- "The Ten Bells" Pub where the women killed in the Jack the Ripper murders would hang out at night)

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Besides being 10 minutes late, my fashion class yesterday was significantly better. This is solely because my friend Jordan switched into the class, so he and I just sat next to each other and took our "tea break" together (professors here are wonderful and give you at least a half hour break during long classes for tea). I know I'm there to learn, that class isn't about socializing, but it really does make a class a lot more enjoyable to have someone there that doesn't make you want to ram your head against a pointy object.

We had our ISA excursion to Hyde Park and Harrods yesterday too! Now, when I say Hyde Park, I mean we walked through there for about 5 minutes on our way to Harrods... so I still don't count it. But my goodness, it is BEAUTIFUL. I knew that would be my favorite place in London, and just seeing it quickly for a few minutes reaffirms that.

Harrods is a whole new world. It's unreal. We had afternoon tea at a restaurant in there, and it was such a gorgeous place. It looked like a fancy wedding reception, like one I will never be able to afford (since my budget for my wedding reception will only allow it to be in my backyard with pool volleyball and hot wings). We had tea, five different little sandwich choices, scones with different marmalades, and different desserts... and it was all endless. You better believe I ate my £30 worth. Oh, and one of the desserts was topped with gold flakes. GOLD. We definitely felt like we didn't belong there... and I'm pretty sure everyone else there felt we didn't belong there.

To make us feel more out of place, we walked around afterward looking at the stores. There was a £94,000 cellphone, which was encrusted with diamonds (that's about $136,000). I found a Marc Jacobs bag I wanted, and it only cost £1,600. Even the puppies in the Pet Kingdom cost about £3,000. The only thing I could afford at Harrods was the rose I stole off our table at tea.

So for today, I had intentions of running in Hyde Park this morning, and I woke up to do so and everything. Then I looked outside and saw how dreary it is, and climbed back in bed. I should probably let go of this "I'm not going running if it's not nice out" attitude, otherwise I will never go running here. It's always going to be gray out.

However, in about an hour we have a tour of Parliament, which is going to rule.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


In Art and Society today, we visited St. Paul's Cathedral and climbed the 528 stairs to the top (good thing I didn't buy a gym membership here!). You weren't allowed to take pictures inside, because it's disrespectful to worshipers, but you know what I say? I'm going to hell anyway. Might as well take pictures. I only got yelled at for it once!

It was absolutely beautiful inside, though. We learned in class beforehand all about its history and the architect, and the past behind this cathedral is incredible. Old St. Paul's, the first cathedral, burned down in the Great London Fire in 1666 (like the rhyme, "In 1666, London burned like sticks"). When rebuilding this one, the architect had studied a lot of Italian style buildings and wanted to create something in that style. There was a concern, however, about the building looking too Catholic, since it's a protestant church and not a Roman Catholic church. The architect presented a very boring idea first, probably to throw them off, and they said it was too modest because it looked too much like the first one and they wanted to use this opportunity as a clean slate (they were also going to create central London into an easier grid pattern, but people wanted their EXACT properties back after the fire... selfish people. Didn't you realize hundreds of years later I would be here and be completely confused by your complicated city layout?!). This gave him creative grounds, however, to present a much more radical idea: the dome shape. They thought this was much too Italian, so he drafted a new one which had the traditional narrow steeple at top and just a small dome underneath... but being the sassy architect he was, he went ahead and built what he wanted to anyway. I like him.

Other than that, today is Housewife Day. I am doing all the things today that you prefer not to think about when you think about how cool it would be to live in a flat on your own: cleaning, laundry, and grocery shopping. Cleaning is no problem, my room is only a little cluttered from my care package materials (yes, my family and boyfriend sent me the raddest care package, equipped with candy, peanut butter, and cough medicine). Grocery shopping is incredibly annoying because I feel like I live there part time, but I do need to eat so I'll suffer.

Laundry, however, is a whole new animal. First of all, let's talk about the outrageous price. One washing machine costs 4 pounds to use. 4 POUNDS. That's about $6.36! That doesn't include the dryer either. The dryer is 20p (p = pence, which is like .20... if you have five 20p coins, you have 1 pound) for 3.5 minutes. Um, 3.5 minutes? So, I have to spend another whole pound to dry my clothes for less than 20 minutes?!

And if you're like me, your clothes are important to you, and you don't want to shove them all into one wash and have colors bleed all over the place and garments get destroyed. So, I have to separate my laundry into lights, darks, and towels/sheets. Well, the machines only take 20p or 1 pound coins. I was short on these, and the lady didn't have enough change to break my 10 pound bill. So, I only had enough money to do two loads (towels/sheets, and darks), and could only dry them for 17.5 minutes. That did absolutely nothing. Plus, I washed darks because most of my clothes are dark and my light load is very small, so I'm hoping to combine it with a friends light color load. However, majority of my underwear is light in color, so I still have only a few pairs of underwear now.

Even better? I have all my towels and clothes hanging up all around my room. Literally not a single space that can occupy an item isn't covered. I have underwear strung on my door handle. There are towels on my shelf. Sorry Mom, but the Dr. Seuss book you gave me for graduation is holding up underwear right now. I can't even sit on my chair because it's occupied by socks. My sheets are draped throughout the kitchen because I ran out of space in here.

I have reached a new level of ghetto.


I didn't post yesterday about my day. Sorry, mom.

Wednesdays are London Adventure Days. A good amount of us don't have classes on Wednesdays, or get out of class early, so every Wednesday we are going to do fun London activities from now on. Yesterday, Izabela, Rosie, Ellen and I had a nerd day and went to Harry Potter's platform 9 3/4 (which would have been much more exciting if I was able to at least finish the second book), and then to the Sherlock Holmes Museum on 221b Baker Street (duh). It was so cool! The man there pretending to be Sherlock Holmes was absolutely darling, and took a picture with us. They had figures of people from all different Sherlock Holmes stories, displaying murder scenes or the way people died in the different stories. They also had a binder filled with letters people send to Sherlock Holmes, which was adorable.

Then we checked out a Beatles store, and went to this French pastry cafe which was delicious. It was Australia day yesterday, so Rosie (who is Australian) made sausage burgers for all of us and a few of them went out to different pubs that were celebrating Australia day. I had to be up early today for class, so I skipped out after dinner.

However, the ball has been rolling with planning different European trips and excursions.

Friday, January 28: ISA trip to Hyde Park and tea at Harrods.
Saturday, January 29: ISA trip to tour Houses of Parliament.
Sunday, January 30: ISA trip to Tower of London and doing a Jack the Ripper walk.
Tuesday, February 1: We're going to go see "Totem," a cirque du soleil show!
Saturday, February 5: ISA trip to Stratford-on-Avon and Warwick Castle.
Wednesday, February 9: ISA trip to BBC World Studios tour.
Thursday, February 10-13: MOROCCO with Rosie!
Saturday, February 19: ISA trip to Brighton.
Wednesday, February 23-28: TOULON, FRANCE with Ali, Jessica, and Adrienne!
Wednesday, March 2: ISA trip to Victoria and Albert Museum and Natural History Museum.
Friday, March 4-7: AMSTERDAM with Izabela, Ellen?, Amanda, Cori, Mike, and Sam!
Thursday, March 10: STEVE COMES TO VISIT! =)
Saturday, March 12: ISA trip to Stonehenge and Bath.
Sunday, March 13: ISA trip to Cambridge.
Wednesday, March 16: PARIS with Steve!!
Wednesday, March 23: London Symphony Orchestra to see Tchaikovsky #2.
Friday, April 1: MOM AND DAD COME TO VISIT! =)
Sometime between April 1-8: PARIS with Mom and Dad!
Sometime between April 8-22: IRELAND AND SCOTLAND FOR A WEEK with Izabela, Ellen, and possibly Rosie, Kristen, Amanda, etc.
~Thursday, April 22: JIM COMES TO VISIT! =)   (well, somewhere around there).
Monday, April 25: My 21st birthday!
Friday, April 29: The Royal Wedding!
Saturday, May 7: ISA trip to Windsor Castle.
Sometime in May: CROATIA and PRAGUE!! 
Thursday, May 19: ISA farewell party.
Saturday, May 28: MILAN for my summer internship!

Also, on two random weekends somewhere, I will be going to see Jessica in GRAZ, AUSTRIA and see Adrienne in SEVILLA, SPAIN!

So, as you can see, I have been very busy planning out the next few months. This is all very lovely to think about, but at the current moment I need to focus on the problem at hand: I HAVE to do laundry. Two days of wearing dirty underwear is two days too many.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day Tripper.

What a beautifully productive day.

I rose bright and early this London morning to begin my day with seeing Ali Blumenfeld. We were meeting at the St. John's Wood tube station to eat a light breakfast at the Beatles Coffee Shop and then go to Abbey Road. I got there before Ali, so I walked around the surrounding area a bit and took some pictures. It's really a lovely neighborhood. The coffee shop was mildly disappointing, because I anticipated it being a large coffee bar with Beatles paraphernalia, merchandise, and mementos all over the place, like a Hard Rock Cafe tailored to the Beatles. It was a tiny space (and when I say tiny, I mean about half the size of my room here tiny) with a few different coffee drinks, a couple breakfast bars and sandwiches, and some Beatles souvenirs.  The Yellow Submarine coloring book was pretty cute though.

Then we walked to Abbey Road. We recognized it instantly not from the crossing itself, but because what other street crossing would be lined with people with cameras? We took pictures of it, but determined that since we have addresses here, we are not tourists, and would not take the stereotypical tourist crossing-of-Abbey-Road-like-the-Beatles picture (though, I am going back with some other friends and we WILL take this "look at me, I don't belong here" picture). We saw the Abbey Road Studio, and the ledge in front of the studio is covered in graffiti about the Beatles and people visiting. Of course, we signed it too. The earliest date we could find on there though is 2010, which means they paint over it fairly often. That's amazing to me, because it is literally COVERED in signatures. SO many people come out all the time and sign it! Just shows how much people love the Beatles, even in 2011.

Then I journeyed home, and then to my Marketing Communications class, which I walked in literally just on time for (because after Abbey Road, I was hungry and chose to eat something and leave myself minimum travel time rather than not eat). I stopped at the grocery store on my way back from class to mainly buy laundry detergent because I wanted to do my laundry tonight, since I am out of underwear, but apparently they close at 5:30.

Let's talk about the grocery store for a brief moment. I absolutely hate this about London. I feel like I'm ALWAYS in the grocery store! Normally I can just do one bulk buy, and not have to go back for a couple weeks. Not here. Since we have to walk everywhere, you can only buy as much as you can carry back walking. Since I'm a wimpy little girl, I can't buy more than two bags worth at a time. It's very telling that there isn't a grocery store with carts, only baskets... nobody can ever buy a carts worth of food at once! I'm going back there again tonight to finish my grocery shopping.

The past few days have been absolutely wonderful though, because I'm going out and doing things I want to do. I saw Jessica on Friday, saw Ali on Sunday, went to Portobello Road yesterday, and went to Abbey Road today. Tomorrow, Izabella, Kentucky (we have two Mikes in our group, so one is just called Kentucky), and maybe a couple other people are having a London day adventure. I am so excited. London is much more enjoyable when I'm doing things I want to do, rather than just going out because other people are.


I'm a daytime person. Some people are "morning people," others are "night people," but I'm just a daytime person. I made a list of everything I want to do in London, and they all happen during the day. I believe this is another reason I may not have been the happiest this trip: everyone seems to get their fun at night. We go out to pubs and clubs, and that's our time out in London. I don't like this, really. I don't care for the club life, and drinking is not necessary to have fun. We sit around all day until we go out at night, where I'm used to doing stuff during the day and then sitting around at night.

So, I'm making a conscious effort to do stuff during the day. Yesterday, Kim, Amanda, and I went to Portobello Road. It's this cute market area in Notting Hill, right outside the Notting Hill Gate station. It's not as expansive as the Camden markets, but it's still really cute. I love the houses, they're all pastel colors with different colored doors and remind me of Edward Scissorhands. We went to this burger place that was absolutely out of this world. I swear that burger was about the size of my head. Yeah, I champed it out. I showed that burger who was boss, and took a toll on the french fries (or chips here in England) and onion rings as well. They didn't know what hit them.

Ready to be proud of me? All I bought at the market was two posters. One is a psychadelic one of The Beatles, another is a black and white photo of Big Ben with the Underground sign in color. My room needed some artwork to make it look less like a closet-sized mental institution.

On the way back, we stopped in the Tottenham Court tube station, which is absolutely covered in the most gorgeous mosaic artwork. I want to just spend an hour there walking around and looking at it all.

To continue my Beatles kick, I'm off now to the Beatles Coffee Shop and Abbey Road with Ali before I go to my marketing class.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Last night, we went to Cafe de Paris again, and it was a complete letdown. It wasn't nearly as cool as it was last week. The crowd was much different. Half the guys were gay and going at it on the dance floor, the other half were straight and going at it with girls on the dance floor, and everyone else was either creepy or just straight up rude. Bummer.

Today though, I went out to this adorable pub I went to last week called "The William Blake" with one of my best friends Ali! It's so weird that I've seen more friends from Montclair here in London than I did before I left. We had one of our usual heart-to-hearts, and we're definitely going to see each other often. I'm so excited!

Then, just now, the inevitable happened. Yes, while I have been cooking just fine for myself, I knew it couldn't be long until disaster would strike. I was making stovetop popcorn, and it all looked fine and seemed like it would be a successful late night snack. However, I was blissfully unaware that all the popcorn on the bottom of the pot had burned, so when I dumped it into the bowl, the smoke was uncontrollable. I opened all the windows, and put the pot by the window to let the smoke leave straight out the room. However, the pot was still hot underneath, and we just had our windowsills painted last week, so some paint came up on the bottom of the pot. I knocked on my flatmate Adams door, and said, "Hey, remember when I told you I couldn't cook but you didn't believe me? Yeah, well, how sensitive are our smoke detectors?"

Adam is a Slovakian knight in shining armor. He came into the smoke filled kitchen, helped me unlatch the windows to open them even more, and helped me get the smoke out of the room. Then, he proceeded to tell me a story of two guys who set off the smoke detector last semester because they were smoking in the room and they were fined 500 euro each. LOVELY. He offered me some microwavable popcorn of his, which I politely declined, and we went to our separate rooms. He then knocks on my door and hands me a bag of chips. My flatmates are darling.

My clothes reek of smoke, though.

Friday, January 21, 2011


(Bollocks: slang term in England literally meaning "testicles" but loosely translated to "shit.")

The universe plotted against me this morning.

I wake up at 7:15 and go to take a shower. The shower, however, reached a new level of broken and so NO water was coming out of the shower head at all. Improvising, I took a "shower" by sitting in the tub and leaning my head back to wash my hair under the running water. When that all is finished, I leave the bathroo--- wait. No. The door isn't unlocking. Commence panicking. After about 10 minutes, I was able to break free from the shackles of my poorly functioning "water closet" and finish getting ready. I go to the tube station, get on my train, and begin going to class. Then, at one stop, the announcer mentions that it is a fast train to the Harrow-on-the-Hill station... which is a station after the one I need to go to. I take the train to Harrow-on-the-Hill, and get to the opposite platform to take the same kind of train back one stop. I sit there. And sit there. And THEN they announce the train won't be moving and we'll have to go to another train. Fine. I finally get on the right train, get off at the stop, and proceed to find my classroom... except all the classrooms in this wing are completely abandoned. I go in a few rooms and ask if it is my class, but of course it isn't. So I go down to reception to ask. They don't know. They lead me to a bulletin board where my new classroom assignment, that I was not informed about, is posted, and arrive to my class 5 minutes late despite the fact that I would been there 35 minutes early had I been able to get off at the stop the first time and gone straight to the right room.

Le sigh. Rough start, but it's okay because this is my fashion class and I've been looking forward to this most of all... except... well, to be completely honest, this is my least favorite class. The material is interesting enough, and the professor seems great, but the class is just filled with pretentious snobs. Not my kind of people. I definitely will not be making friends in that class. Now, I know the people in the class shouldn't really influence your experience, but in a class like this where there is an emphasis on student participation and discussion, it's really quite unbearable to listen to these snobby, rude girls. I know this is the fashion industry, but can't we just have a little heart?

The day wasn't entirely awful though. I met up with Jessica, one of my best friends from Montclair studying in Austria who is in London visiting her boyfriend. I hadn't seen her in about 6 months and it was awesome to spend time with her, as well as meet her new beau. She's also picked up an awkward German/British/American accent which I find somewhat hysterical.

Also in good news, I think I might be going to Morocco for four days next week with my friend Rosie! How exciting is that?!

And, check this out. I'm starting to be able to make more than just pasta for myself.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


Camden Town. No, not the scary one in New Jersey.

You know, places like this should be illegal. They rope in helpless little shopaholic girls like me, make us believe that just because we can barter for a price, we're getting a good deal, and spend every bit of cash in our wallets. I got a dress half off literally because I told the guy, "Listen, I REALLY have no other money than this 10 pounds. I really don't. So unless you want to give me the dress for 10 pounds, I HAVE to walk away."

I walked away with three dresses today. And a necklace. And sunglasses. This is a dangerous place.

What a cool market area though. I'd totally love to go there again, but with less tempting cash in my wallet.

After shopping today, I figured I'd balance it out by just having a night in instead of going out. My friend Kristen came over to my flat. We made popcorn, drank wine, planned out dates for European excursions, and watched "Easy A." I'd say it was a successful day.

I keep thinking tomorrow is Friday. This having Wednesday off thing is really screwing with me. I have to keep reminding myself to NOT go to my Friday fashion class tomorrow, because it is, in fact, Thursday, and I have Art and Society.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Two of my classes are on the Harrow campus of University of Westminster. The other three campuses are right next to each other, but this one is an hour commute on the tube away... how does that make sense?

It was actually a really nice commute though. Maybe it was just because it was a beautiful sunny day and majority of the ride was overground, but I loved it. Harrow is beautiful. It's an open field of grass with some hills by the buildings. I really underestimated how much I miss green. It's so hard to imagine that this area, which looks like a suburb with the houses and grass, is still in London. When people think of London, you think of a few key places in the city center, but that's only a small borough in the middle of London. As much as I love the city, I still grew up in Jefferson Township, only a couple miles away from a forest reserve. Therefore, despite the two hour commute twice a week, I think I'll enjoy it just fine.

Plus, I'm going to try really hard this semester to not procrastinate. I have a solid 4 hours a week of commuting built in where I will have nothing else to do but read for classes. I almost finished my Shakespeare reading and I have til Monday to do it!

My class today was Marketing Communications. I was worried about it because it's a level 6 class, which is their highest level, but I feel perfectly comfortable there. I want to do fashion marketing, so it's a good class for me to take, despite it not counting toward my business minor at all. It's interesting too (at least it better be, since I've kind of decided to do this for the rest of my life).

Tomorrow is my day off, and we have an ISA excursion to Camden Town, which I think is a little market area. Pictures to follow.

Monday, January 17, 2011


Things are looking up.

I went to the adviser office this morning right at 9:00 (well, 8:45 actually because I got there early) and it turns out they don't assist students until 10:30. She was very nice though and said she'd take care of mine anyway. Since I'm a walking bad luck charm though lately, the system crashed when she logged on to my account. Lovely.  I left her instructions on the changes I wanted, and she took care of it a short time later. So, now I have my schedule!

Monday, Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, 12:00-14:00 (yeah, I have to get used to military time now).
Tuesday, Marketing Communications, 14:00-16:30
Thursday, Art and Society, 9:00-12:30
Friday, Fashion in Society, 10:00-13:00

So, I'm happy. I found my way all by myself to the street where my Shakespeare class was being held, and actually arrived a half hour early (I need to give myself more credit with finding my way around!) The class was lovely, the professor is sweet and mild-mannered. After Shakespeare, I went to print out my syllabi at the ISA office (which I also successfully found from my class), and then from there found my way to the Cavendish campus to buy my Shakespearean plays. Then I finally journeyed back to my flat (which, you guessed it, I found my way to all by myself!).

I feel like such a Londoner!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


So, let's talk about Cafe de Paris.

This is the swankiest, classiest club I have ever seen. Velvet lined walls, chandeliers, balcony, stage, circular booths, strict dress code, carpeted staircase entrance... this is serious. The cover charge is normally 20 pounds, but we got in on some guest list. We told them at the door we're with Caroline and Matt's party (which we were told to do by our RA's who took us, despite us not knowing who Caroline and Matt are), and we received a card that got us in for free. We checked our coats, and headed downstairs. Despite getting in for free, we were a little upset at how drinks cost about 9 pounds each. No worries though, because with our guest list party, we got bottles of Grey Goose and pitchers of cranberry juice and orange juice at our table for free. Yeah, fancy.

A band called "City Boy Soul" played, and they were awesome. I loved it. Then we danced for hours, and we were pulled up on the stage to dance in the last hour. While on this stage, I met these two fabulous gay guys. One of them was an Abercrombie model and gave me his cellphone number in case I ever need a model for anything, since I'm studying fashion. They invited me to their VIP booth upstairs, but I had to turn them down because I didn't want to lose my group.

So, in a matter of a week, I'm already on guest lists to fancy clubs, receiving free bottles of high quality vodka, dancing on stage, and being invited to VIP lounges. I'd say I'm a pretty big deal in London already.

We got back around 5 A.M. and I slept til 3:30. Oops. I'm just taking it very easy today, doing some cleaning and preparing for classes this week. I'm going over my friend Mike's flat later to watch "Reefer Madness," and that'll be the most I do today. I guess it's time to be responsible. Ugh.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Quit your bitchin'.

As I was just eating my dinner that I cooked for myself in my mouse-ridden kitchen, I was thinking...

I'm in London.  
And a lot of people would kill to be me right now.

I'm spoiled with luxuries like electric stoves and mouse-free living conditions. At home, I have a shower that's easy to operate and a mattress that isn't comprised of metal. When I open my front door at home, no creepy guys try to help me, and I don't have to lock a series of three doors when coming in. My laundry doesn't cost four pounds, and I can easily find mozzarella cheese in the supermarket. My cellphone isn't from the 1980's, and I don't need to take two subways to get to class.
But I didn't come here to live my life exactly as I was. 

Experiences are what you make of them. I can easily stay in my room here all day, do nothing, not go out other than to go to class, only eat from Best American Pizza, and waste the five months in London and all the money I spent to do this. Or, I can enjoy it.  

I'm not saying I'm going to do something extravagant everyday, because I am living here. There is a lot I can do though, and will do. And it all starts with one simple phrase:

Quit your bitching, Kate. Stop complaining about the stove, and the mice, and the shower, and the mattress, and the creeps, and the neighborhood, and the laundry, and the food, and the cellphone, and the transportation.  I have a lot that I wanted to do here, and I forgot all about that once I got here and the culture shock hit. I have a great support system here though with all my new friends, and a great support system at home too. There are advisers here to help me, and ways to make the adjustments easier that I've subconsciously ignored for the sake of complaining. The tube actually is pretty easy to figure out. The streets aren't so terribly confusing, and the people (in general) will help you if you ask nicely (and don't sound like you're from New Jersey). Not everybody wants to pickpocket me. Not everybody wants to kidnap or rape me. The bouncer at the door really just wants to check my bag because it's his job, not because he's going to grab my wallet and run like I had thought (in one of my states of heightened paranoia). 

Nobody said this would be easy. But just because it's not easy doesn't mean it still can't be the greatest experience of my life. I'm through with this phase. I'm homesick, yes, and I'm still terrified of being lost. But I'm here, and that can't change. All that can change is my attitude, and I'm changing that right now.

Getting There.

Anybody who says money can't buy happiness is a liar. Or has never been to Top Shop in London.

Yes, it's true, retail therapy does solve everything. We went shopping yesterday, I bought some cute new clothes, and all of the sudden things are looking up. I also bought more groceries so now I can actually eat more than once a day (and I was introduced to a place next door called "Best American Pizza"... it's definitely not the best American pizza, but it gets the job done). Somehow, when you've just eaten and you're wearing a cute new outfit, the fact that you can't find your way around anywhere and you have mice in your kitchen almost doesn't matter anymore... almost.

There's a fresh produce market literally down the street from me. I could have discovered this sooner if I wasn't so petrified to leave my front door. It's right next to a lovely little place called "Cheap Booze" (bet you can't guess what they sell), so I might make a trip today, even though today is almost over because we've all been sleeping til about 2 everyday. So much for "I want to get up early everyday."

Also, I got into a fashion course! Not the first choice I wanted, but a fashion course nonetheless. Problem is it's on Friday during my Shakespeare class, so I have to try to get Shakespeare moved to Monday. I can't do anything about it until Monday though, so I'm going to have to catch them at 9 when the office opens, change my classes immediately, and get to the Shakespeare class for 10:00. This all better work.

As for today, I had plans to go to Hyde Park (where I want to go more than anywhere else) if it's sunny, or out shopping with another friend if it's not sunny. Instead, we've all slept too late again, so I might just check out that farmers market, find a bookstore and get "Henry V" for my Shakespeare class, and get ready to go out tonight. The RA's here are taking us to this fancy club in central London that celebrities even go to... classy stuff!

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Well, mission unaccomplished.

I searched the fashion module last night, and found that there is an open space in the fashion class now! So last night, I called my program director, who called that entire office, only to find they were gone for the day. I got up at 6 this morning to get ready and go down to the office for when they open at 9 so I can have them register me right away. This was my first time venturing out into London by myself.

And it didn't work.

Of course, when I need to do something by myself, things can't be simple. The Oxford Circus tube station was closed because of some accident near there, for "safety reasons," so I wasn't going to be able to get off there. I barely know my way from there, which is the only way we were taught, nevermind feeling confident enough to get off at a different stop and walk to find my way around London alone. So I chickened out, got off at the next station, and took the tube right back.

What a waste of a morning. I have e-mailed my adviser to ask him to register me for it, so hopefully he sees that and does so.

On a lighter note, a couple tourists asked Izabella and I for directions yesterday... so, I guess even though we have NO idea where we are, we look like we do!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Culture shock is hitting me. Hard.

I'm sick, and my body is not adjusting well to the changes here at all.  The crumpets were too doughy. The peanut butter isn't sweet. The air is too humid, and my hair doesn't react well in the rain. I'll be freezing one second, and then sweating the next. The streets are too confusing. My heels get caught in the cobblestone streets. My room is about a billion degrees (Celsius, which I will never get used to). The faucets in the sink have separate cold and hot faucets, so warm in-between water is impossible. The showers are difficult to operate. The oven dial has no numbers. The grapes don't even have flavor. Nobody smiles. I hate walking around clutching my bag in fear of pickpocketing. I hate never being at a comfortable temperature. I hate feeling lost. I've been going 12-24 hours in-between meals: I wanted to lose weight here, but I didn't want to drop a pants size in a week. I have to do a phone interview for my internship in Milan, but I don't have my American cellphone and I don't know how I'm supposed to do this. I hate that I can't just talk to my mom whenever I feel like it.

Those are my current complaints. On a brighter note (if something can be brighter on such a dreary London day), we went to the British Museum today which was absolutely incredible. My inner nerd was thrilled. I want to see so much more of it, but it's a free museum and we all decided we'd like to make another trip back there sometime.

In the tube station, I heard a musician playing, "Hallelujah," which I think originally is a Jeff Buckley song but I know the Rufus Wainwright version. It was beautiful.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


 In London, they really enjoy using the word "pissed." This is great, because I enjoy it as well.

This morning, I woke up feeling really sick. Wonderful, right? Just what I need, especially on the day of my adviser meeting. I took some medicine, and decided maybe I just need to eat. Luckily, I bought groceries yesterday. A small amount, but enough to get by for now. I made an English muffin (which I guess is just a muffin here? But then what do they call muffins?!) and put peanut butter on it. This is a staple breakfast at home. Well, muffins here are much more doughy and peanut butter here is much less sweet. It was painful to get down. I had to wash it down with a huge glass of skim milk, which was very hard to find here, and I threw the rest of the muffin out. So much for breakfast. At least I'll drop a pants size on this trip.

After yesterday's THRILLING orientation at the University of Westminster (there's that dry, satirical British humor), I was really hoping my meeting with my adviser today to pick out my classes would make me happier. They had already previously registered us for 4 classes, but they had made the mistake of giving me two classes I want, but then the backups to those two classes additionally. I hadn't been registered for my fashion or business class. Seeing as I paid all this money and specifically chose London with the intentions of studying fashion business, I feel like those classes may be important to my experience, right? The meeting was to work on the schedules, rearrange them as needed and swap classes.

As per usual in my life, nothing goes right. The fashion class I want is only offered Monday, but I had Shakespeare scheduled for Monday. Alright, so just move Shakespeare to the other class Thursday. Well, the fashion class is full, you can't get in. Okay, what about this fashion class instead? Full. There are no other fashion classes. Well, that's a problem isn't it? Yeah, it is, sir, because I paid good money to come here to study fashion and I am going to get into that fashion class whether you like it or not. Well, you can maybe e-mail the professor and try to meet with her to get in. You better believe I'll do that. So, we still need to leave Monday open just in case you can get into fashion... let's move Shakespeare to Friday morning. Alright, whatever. Anything else? Yeah, I need my business class, I wanted to take Consumer Behaviour (ha, British spelling). Full. What about this? Full. This? Full. Okay, give me a minute... what about International Marketing? It's a level 6, can you handle that? Bitch, please, have you met me?! Fine, but promise if it's too much you'll switch out. Sir, it will not be too much, I got a 102 in my marketing class and this is what I want to do for a living. Okay, anything else? Is it possible to switch my Art and Society class to Wednesday? No. Oooookay, then I guess nothing else. So, you're taking Literature and Psychoanalysis, which is level 6, and International Marketing which is level 6... you really shouldn't take 2 level 6 classes. I know sir, I'm dropping Literature and Psychoanalysis as soon as I get into the fashion class instead. Okay, have a good day.

What a nightmare. If I don't get into that fashion class, I'm throwing punches.

Only good thing today? Delicious Thai food lunch.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Welcome to London

After countless fears and countless tears, I am in London. It was very difficult in the weeks before coming here: most kids have been itching with excitement, but I was much more panicked and nervous. I spent every moment possible with my family and my boyfriend, Steve, before leaving, but I would never feel like it was enough time. We said our difficult goodbyes in the airport, and then I was off. Luckily, a girl Izabela in my program was on my flight, so we were able to stick together and became great friends immediately.

 The program coordinators tell us that we will hit certain stages during this process. First, we are going to be so amazed and excited and just think that everything about this place is wonderful. Then, we're essentially going to be horribly depressed and homesick. Finally, after getting over that, we'll come to terms with the situation for what it really is, recognize the differences and still feel homesick but be comfortable where we are. Well, so far I am not following that at all.

London is great, don't get me wrong, and I love all the friends I have made here already. We've been going out together for meals and drinks, and our program had a walking tour of central London yesterday where we finally got to see all the landmarks that made us feel like we were really here. I haven't really been moping at all: I've maybe teared up once since being here but haven't cried since the airport. I'm just feeling very indifferent to the experience. It's all been great, but it still feels like it's just a week vacation, not my semi-permanent living situation for the next 5 months. I like it enough, but I don't feel like I'm in love with the place. I may just still be feeling the strong tie to home, and starting my homesick phase early.

The reasons? I've thought about it, and I may have it figured out. Besides the obvious "I miss my family and my boyfriend" reasons, I'm also terrified of being lost. Terrified. London is SO difficult to navigate: most streets don't even seem to have street signs, and if you don't look the opposite way of what we are used to when crossing the street, you will be hit. Nobody stops for you. Ever. Not knowing my way around really makes me uncomfortable. I feel like I will never pick it up. Also, I'm the kind of person that if I had a choice between going out at night with people to some party spot or club, or staying at home in my pajamas and watching a Law and Order marathon with my mom, I'm going to choose the latter. That isn't an option here. All that there is to do right now is outside in the city, and while my room here is slightly depressing, at least I know my way around it.

I knew I would probably feel this way. It just worries me because nobody else in my program seems to feel the same way. Everybody is so excited and in awe of the place, loving every second. I like it, but I don't love it. At least not yet. My hope is that when I get more comfortable, I'll enjoy it much more. At least I've made great friends with people here, because that is definitely the best thing right now.

So now, I am off to my orientation at University of Westminster, where I will pick out my classes and other boring school stuff. The school is right by Oxford Street, the busiest shopping street in Europe... I guess I have no other choice but to just go shopping in-between classes!