I Miss London

The London trip that I went on two years ago happened again in May/June and so I saw a ton of Facebook posts about it and it makes me miss my time there so much. Yes, I’m 100% that person that thinks about her study abroad experience so much and I talk about it a lot too.

It would be my absolute dream to live there someday, like I truly felt so at ease there and comfortable that I wish I could go back almost every day.

Anyways, today’s post is just going to be a photo dump of a bunch of my pictures from London because damn I miss it!!! I really wish that I had more pictures but I was in a stupid phase where I needed to just be “in the moment” which was great but there’s a lot of stuff I realize I’m missing in my memory because of whatever dumb memory issues I’m having. I have decided though to not include the 200+ pictures that I have from the Harry Potter studio tour… You’re welcome.

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I loved just walking the streets, seeing all the old buildings and aimlessly wandering in our free time. We had a lot of planned things but had weekends free, as well as at least a few hours every day in which we had time to ourselves.

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Oh gosh and the food. Coffee, pizza, fruit, tea. So good. That bottom right picture in the grid is a waffle topped with Nutella and ice cream. There was a group of us that went to Hyde Park twice and got these waffles both times. If I’m being honest, I didn’t try a whole ton of stuff while I was there but that’s mainly because I tried to keep my food budget as low as I could. We paid for most of our own meals and I wanted to be able to splurge when I felt like it so most of my meals came from Pret a Manger (GOD I MISS THAT PLACE SO MUCH THEIR CHEESE CROISSANTS WERE EVERYTHING) and Tesco.

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I miss the public transportation. I have a huge phobia of driving and living in a suburb means I have to drive literally everywhere because there is absolutely no public transport in my city at all. Being able to hop on the Tube or take a bus just about anywhere I needed to go was something far more wonderful than I ever considered it being. And being able to walk a lot of places was great too, like there is so much to do so close together, it’s crazy.

Of course I miss the access to theatre too. These are a bunch of pictures from when I toured the Globe as well as some Shakespeare wall art/graffiti/mural thing that we saw somewhere else. We saw so many good shows. When we did go to the Globe for a show, we all took the standing 5pound tickets and wow, it was so immersive to stand that close to the stage for the show it didn’t feel like we were standing for over three hours at all.

Every time I think about all the shows I saw, I can’t help but think of how grateful I am to even have had that opportunity. Matilda, Kinky Boots, The Woman In Black, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, and so many more. It always makes me want to pursue theatre again. I was really into it back in elementary school and then social anxiety took away all my confidence and I’ve forever wanted to be able to try acting again, or I guess just anything in theatre again and I have no idea where to even begin… So I just keep avoiding it altogether and getting just a little bit sad every time I see a new play or musical.

Also I love that I had to take a picture of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theatre but never saw it.

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I spent quite a bit of time walking through parks with some of the other people I was in London with. The weather was really nice most of the time that we were there (bordering on hot most days and I definitely wish I would have reevaluated my clothing) and the parks were gorgeous. So many flowers and cool trees. And swans that liked to flirt with one of the other girls. We spent a good amount of time just sitting around in the sun and reading, writing, people watching. Sometimes too much time in the sun though, a number of us got pretty bad sunburns (I somehow magically avoided it).

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Another thing that London is full of is museums. I spent so much time going to museums because they’re all FREE. The amount of stuff that I learned and saw, oh my heart.

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I mean look at all of this. I got to see two of my favorite paintings in person. How crazy??!!

I’m still just so in love with London. And I wish that I could go back. I learned so much, saw so much, just did so much. It was truly life changing and I love looking back on these pictures and remembering all that I got to do. Truly, if you ever have the chance to study abroad, do it!!

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Review: Again, But Better

Today I’m going to be reviewing Again, But Better by Christine Riccio.

Here’s the synopsis:

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that?

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure!

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart.

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Prethoughts to reading this:

I am SO excited. I feel like I’m going to end up inserting myself into this book and loving it a bit too much, I did the same thing with Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I studied abroad in London and I miss it so much and I already feel like I relate to Shane and her college “inexperience”.

I just read Christine’s note at the beginning and my heart swelled. If this story is what she says it is it’s going to be so great. Reading about someone who hasn’t “done it all” by 20 is going to be revolutionary for EVERYONE who has ever felt less than for not doing what it seems like everyone else is doing.

I got an autographed copy and I honestly still feel so hesitant about annotating books that are hardcovers or that are signed. It gives me so much anxiety even though it’s my own book that I spent my money on and I don’t loan books to people anymore so honestly, why should I care?

I’m also really nervous because I can’t help but wonder if this is going to be a really bad youtuber book but maybe this will change my mind from those thoughts. It’s just really frustrating to see things get so hyped up and then getting disappointed…

Okay… Today is March 8, 2019 and I am beginning Again, But Better… Let’s do this!

Immediate thoughts after finishing this the same day I began reading it:

I honestly don’t know how I feel about this. I want to both love it and hate it at the same time. The story was just what I needed to read right now but at the same time there were so many things that made me either uncomfortable or just feel not happy with the general story.

Non-spoiler review:

After some long thoughts about this I’m rating the book 3/5 stars. Leaning somewhat towards a 3.5/5 stars but I’m rounding down because I just don’t know how I feel. There were some parts of this book that bothered me but I’ll touch on those in the spoilery section.

I loved how this read like a movie, it felt so real to me, I can definitely see Christine’s film background in this. Another thing I really liked was the banter between characters. I found myself chuckling quite a bit at the things they said to each other.

Now, would I have bought this book and read it had I not been following Christine? Yes, 100%. The book itself had a plot that interested me greatly. It was a story that sounded like I could relate to it and in the end it was. It showed a lot about learning about yourself and learning how to be your own person. It showed hard lessons to learn and how important second chances can be. Would I recommend this book? Yes. I think if you’re looking for a quick contemporary read then definitely check this out. This wasn’t the story of my dreams but even going into it with very low expectations that I would like it I was pleasantly surprise.

And lastly, I got one of the first copies that was printed so the end of her note says 2018 instead of Christine and I will be giggling about that for years to come.

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy, you can find the book at this links!

Amazon Affiliate Link // Barnes & Noble // Book Depository

Next I’ll be moving into a more in depth review with spoilers included…

SPOILERS AHEAD: STOP READING NOW IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THE BOOK AND DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILED

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Tourism and Back Alley Stuff

Hello again!

So today we ended up with a relatively late start. It’s been nice to have the freedom to go about on our own but I think it’s also made us all move a bit slower too.

A group of us decided to go to the changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace.

The crowd there was intense and not exactly my favorite thing in the world. We got pretty close to the fence but were still too far away to see anything clearly. In all honesty, unless you’re going to get there early (and by early I mean early because we got there by 10:30 and it was already packed… for those who don’t know, the ceremony starts at 11) I don’t really recommend this as something to do during your trip to London.

I mean it is kind of cool to be able to say “I saw the changing of the guards” but I have to admit I didn’t really see the ceremony much at all. I had to watch most of it through the phone screens of other people. I didn’t take many pictures at all because I just wanted to enjoy the moment and I figure everyone else at the ceremony has pictures enough for the entire world.

After the changing of the guard, DyAnna and I went off to explore on our own. We decided to go to the Benjamin Franklin house which was quite cool!

Here’s a little bit about the house from the brochure we got:
“The Historical Experience uses the historic spaces where so much took place as a stage- blending live performance, leading edge sound, lighting, and visual projection- to tell the rich story of Franklin in London in his own words.”

It was a really interesting experience and since we are students we got to see it all for the discounted price of six pounds. I would highly recommend this.

After that we stumbled upon the Victoria Embankment Gardens.

They had a koi pond and ping pong tables here!

Then we finished up the day at the British Museum.

I think from my experiences today I would have to say that I would highly recommend finding more back alley experiences (like the Benjamin Franklin House). The touristy stuff is cool too, don’t get me wrong, but I think that experiencing unique things adds to trip more than crowds do. It’s fun to get out of the way and see things that no one else will.

Anyways, I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Traveling Is For Extroverts

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When I signed up for this trip to London I was all gung ho and ready to go but my enthusiasm quickly turned to gut wrenching anxiety as the weeks went by leading up to the trip. This would be my first time out of the country and my first time flying by myself. I felt completely unprepared and honestly still feel that way.

I’m originally from Woodbury, Minnesota which is a suburb of St. Paul and since I was flying out of Minneapolis I got to go home and spend a few days with my very sick siblings before leaving (to all my travelmates, they were no longer contagious by the time I got home so I hope and pray I didn’t bring any germs with me).

So on to the real nitty gritty stuff that you all want to hear about… Anxiety!

Actually I’m sure no one wants to hear about people talking about anxiety but it’s something that needs to be talked about, especially because traveling causes a LOT of anxiety.

So I’m pretty good at coping with anxiety, mostly by just pushing it aside which isn’t that great but it’s whatever. Anyways, I woke up in a panic on the 14 convinced that I had gone to London without packing any underwear. It took me ten minutes to calm myself down and reassure myself that I had indeed packed underwear and that it had in fact been the first thing that I packed.

Then I went about my normal day and ran some errands with my sister and celebrated Mother’s Day with my mom. By the time early afternoon rolled around I had nothing to distract me any further and was officially in panic mode.

This leads me to what this post is all about. Traveling is not for introverts and traveling is not for people with anxiety. Asking questions, talking to people, figuring out directions, etc. It’s not easy for me to ask questions or include myself in things or “force” myself to be extroverted. I mean I can to an extent but that’s a whole other thing.

All in all I think that the world needs to be kinder to travelers, more directions would be lovely and I would really appreciate the security people to be less intimidating too (but I understand why they are).

So from a very anxious introvert, hello from London. I hope I can encourage some other people who are terrified of traveling to actually travel. I think it’ll be worth it.