Aff ter Dublin early dis mornin’! (that was supposed to be in an Irish accent)
How I feel about the touristy attractions in London
I haven’t posted since my trip to Amsterdam. That was a month ago. Wow, I’ve been a horrible blogger. I guess I now have to catch you up to date with what I’ve been up to.
The week after my trip to Amsterdam, I went down to London to see an England vs Montenegro football match (or soccer, to you Americans) at Wembly Stadium. This was my first soccer game, and it was a wild experience. From my tube ride, to my walk to the stadium, to my seats four rows from the back, throughout the game’s two halves, and back to the train, Brits clad in their England Jerseys and Scarves were chanting and showing their pride for their country. I randomly was sitting right behind my good friend from Conn, Ben. I knew he was going to the game, but in a stadium of 80,000 people, I ended up sitting behind the one person I knew. That worked out nicely.
The next week. I had midterms, which involved writing many long papers. I had never written so many words, in such a short period of time. It was traumatic. However, amongst the finals. My Mom came to visit me in Cambridge. I had been slightly homesick at that point, so felt really great to have her here. It was also nice to take a break from frozen meals for a few days, and to replace them with restaurant-cooked meals. I loved showing her around my current city of residence, and doing touristy things, like visiting museum and punting tours. She was only here for three days, but I wish she was here for many more. She helped me get over my slight case of homesickness. Also, I got a tweed blazer, so I’m slightly more British than I was when I got here.
After finishing my last 3 papers, I made it back to London the next weekend to see friends. I started the day hanging out with my friend Grace from Conn who was visiting from her abroad program in Copenhagen. It was great to catch up, and see what her abroad experience has been like. Her program is completely different than mine, so it was interesting to hear what she’s been up to over the last few months. She gets weeks off to travel. I’m jealous of that.
After dropping her off at the train station so she could make her flight, I met up with some friends from high school. Olivia, a Londoner who spent her post-graduate year at my high school, and Symone, who is studying in Amsterdam. I had not seen either of them in a while, so it was great to catch up, and try new things in a foreign city. We saw Picadilly Circus and Leicester Square, got food in London Chinatown, and met another friend from high school, Matt, who’s studying in London, to ride the London Eye. I usually hate going to touresty locations in foreign cities, because they feel too manufactured for me. I like experiencing a city’s real culture and seeing what makes it unique. To me, Picadilly Circus was no different from Times Square in New York. However, I did enjoy the London Eye.
We ended the day at the University of London Union, and I even got to meet up with three more friends from Conn. It was a busy day, but I liked seeing friends from both college and high school in a city I’m new to. I ended up making the train in time for last call in Cambridge, but I ended up tearing my pants along the way (that’s a whole other story).
This past week, I was visited in Cambridge by my friends Monica and Josie who are studying in Barcelona. Friday, I showed them around Cambridge and took them to some of my favorite places. We got up early Saturday to take the train into London to make the 11:30 changing of the guards. I hadn’t seen it since 2003, so I didn’t remember it. It was fun, and I liked how the band played Abba’s “Dancing Queen” while the guards were being escorted out. We then got Fish n’ Chips in Covent Garden (so good) and met up with our friend from school, KSaunds. He’s doing the same program as me, but in London, so I liked comparing and contrasting INSTEP Cambridge and London. I had been to Covent Garden once already this trip with my Uncle, but I liked seeing it all dressed up in Christmas decorations (yes, they’ve already put up Christmas stuff).
After Covent Garden, we went to East London. I hadn’t been to that part of the city yet, but I had read a lot about it, and wanted to check it out. It was like Williamsburg or Greenpoint Brooklyn, with British accents. It was so hip and trendy! There were some really cool-looking restaurants, pubs, and shops. We visited the Boxpark, which is a bunch of shipping containers stacked on top of each other, containing fun shops, bars, and restaurants. Every storefront in East London was incredibly creative and unique. I cannot wait to go back. I could write a whole other post describing each place we went to in East London, but I promise I’ll spare you.
We said goodbye to KSaunds, and headed back to Cambridge. I got to spend a couple more days with Monica and Josie, before they headed back to Spain.
Over the past month, I’ve got to spend time with family and some of my best friends, in a foreign country. With them, I’ve explored London, and discovered how interesting, historic, and fun it can be. Although I’m far from home, I’ve gotten to see people I enjoy spending time with, and discovering a new continent with them. That’s what studying abroad is all about. It’s a shared experience, and you get to share it with anyone. It’s about learning, exploring new places, and trying new things.
I should wrap up this post now. It is really long, and I’m sorry about that. To give you an idea of my next couple weeks, I go to Dublin the weekend of the 15th, and Barcelona the weekend of the 22nd. I promise I’ll be better about posting.