Monday, June 23, 2014

Day 13-Last full day in London

Today was a sad one to wake up to knowing it was our last full day here. We started the day off getting ready and heading to the apartment courtyard at 9am for our visit to Edelman PR in London. We took the tube and spent about two hours in a meeting and touring the building. After our visit, we were able to go off and do what we wanted and I had been planning on going to Wimbledon any way that I could! Another girl went with me on the tube to the Wimbledon park stop and right when we got off of it, there was Wimbledon signage everywhere.
Everyone there was dressed up and looking to watch some tennis! We could not get tickets for it because we got there pretty late (around 12pm or so) and were able to stop and watch a few people warm up from far away. I'm almost positive we saw Victoria Azarenka warming up! After that we walked up a huge hill to Wimbledon Village to get some food and shop for a little bit. The only souvenir shop I could find was at a Penn shop which was loaded with signatures from famous tennis players visits.
We left there and stopped by for some food at a restaurant/bar called the Dog and Fox--it was delicious!!! We sat and watched some tennis for a few hours and then headed back to the apartment around 4pm. We got back and around 5:30pm we all took the tube to meet the rest of our study abroad group for our last dinner together. We ate at a place called Poppies for fish and chips and it was great too! We thanked our professors who did an amazing job putting together our trip and thanking them for putting up with us for two weeks!!
After dinner a few of us decided to go to our favorite bar/pub, the Famous Three Kings, for one last visit and one last memory before we left. Cameroon and Brazil were playing so the environment was great! We got back to the apartment, packed, and are watching Happy Gilmore right now with a few of the other study abroad students.
This trip has taken my breath away. I had such an amazing time and I want to come back to London as soon as possible! I am very thankful for having the opportunity to study abroad and meet a new group of people that I consider to be my family. Tomorrow this Pirate heads back to good ole VA!!!! Cheers!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Day 12-USA vs. Portugal

Yesterday I spent the day at the apartment finishing up my last assignment and packing a few things before going back home. Around 5pm or so, everyone was at the apartment so we all started getting ready for the USA vs. Portugal game even though it was at 11pm. We all walked to our favorite pub/bar called the Famous Three Kings to watch the game at about 9:30pm and to our surprise, there weren't too many people there. We sat down and pushed together five tables so that all 15 or so of us could sit together and we also met a few other Americans there--one from Colorado and two from Florida. Portugal scored quickly which put all of us in a bad mood so a bunch of us left at half time to watch the game back at the apartment. We stopped at the pizza place by our apartment for dinner and watched the rest of the game together. Even then the game was tied within the last 30 seconds! It was a great night hanging out and spending time with a bunch of wonderful people! It's sinking in that I only have two days left here and I don't want to leave!!!!

Day 11-Day trip to Paris!!!!

Yesterday was probably one of the best days of my life so far. I wasn't able to post because right when I got back I fell asleep thanks to such a long and amazing day.
I woke up around 3am on Saturday morning to pack a few things and get ready for our trip to Paris for the day. Myself and another girl in the apartment met downstairs with five of the other study abroad students going on the trip as well. We waited outside of our apartment for awhile waiting for our driver to take us to St. Pancras station. It was a quick drive and right when we got to St. Pancras we sat down and ate breakfast and the next thing we knew it was time to check in, go through security, and board our train to Paris! We were all seated together and right when the train started to move I fell asleep.
I think it took us about two or so hours to get there and the time changed as well, we lost an hour. We got off of the train, met our tour guide--Michael, who was awesome!, and got to know the other families on the trip as well. We got on a charter bus and toured around the streets of Paris and were able to see a lot of landmarks like the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, and so many other places.
We got out of the bus and walked to a doc not too far from the Eiffel Tower to get on a river boat tour on the River Seine. It was incredible. We saw the Eiffel Tower from afar, the Louvre, beautiful bridges, Notre Dame de Paris, and a lot of museums. It was funny too because there were people tanning on the sides of the river and even a couple taking wedding pictures over one of the many love lock bridges.
After our river boat tour that was about an hour long, we got off of the boat and walked to the Eiffel Tower. It was so much bigger than I had expected and it looked like it changed colors from when I was far away to up close. When I was far away it looked like a dark green color, and then when I walked up to it, it was a beautiful dark beige color. It was massive just standing under it was a sight to see.
We then got to take the elevator up to the second level which was a perfect view to see all of Paris. It was amazing seeing how all of the buildings and houses were plotted, all of the landmarks, and just being up there was surreal. We took a few pictures together as a group and realized we'd only have about 45 minutes to sit down and eat lunch.
We left the tower and found a little cafe for lunch--which we had to eat quickly even though the French waitress didn't like that we had to rush. I had a club sandwich and it was probably one of the best club sandwiches i'd ever had. We left and rushed back to meet our group and walked to our bus for our tour of the Louvre. I fell asleep on our 20 or so minute trip there and it was huge. There were so many things to see and right when we got there we rushed to see the Mona Lisa. The painting was not as big as I had expected but people were practically fighting each other to get the perfect picture.
I walked around for about 30 more minutes and then exhaustion hit a few of us. We decided to go outside where the glass pyramid was to get some fresh air. We took a few pictures and enjoyed how nice it was outside--did I mention that we had perfect weather when I was there?? The Louvre had a lot of shops and places to eat inside of it so it was very convenient to just hang out for a little while before we left. We headed back to our meeting place with our tour guide and took the bus back to the train station.
We said goodbye to our new friends and headed to check in and security, where I officially got "Paris" stamped in my passport!! We were kind of early for our 8:13pm train back to London so we all got sandwiches and talked to a few other American families that we met. We got on the train and were sad to leave but ready to get back and hit the hay. The trip was going well but about half an hour into the trip, the train stopped and we were told that one of the parts was having some issues. We weren't told how long it would take to be fixed so we all just enjoyed each other's company for about 15 minutes. The train started to work again and a few of us decided to head all the way to the food cart to get a snack. We walked about 5 carts to where it was and immediately we were hit with the smell of alcohol. There had been a tour group of older adults who used the train ride to their advantage and were all having a good time. We quickly left and got back to our seats and spent the rest of the trip home talking about how much fun we'd had all week and what we wanted to do when school started up in the fall.
It was about 9:30--I think--London time when we got back and took the tube back to our Baron's court stop near our apartment. I got back to the apartment, sat down on the couch to watch the Hunger Games, and before I knew it I was fast asleep.
Yesterday was just so amazing and I wish everyone could experience Paris at least once in their lives! If you ever have the chance to go, go! (Just learn to speak a little bit of French before you go)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Day 10-Visit to Xinhua

Today I woke up at around 11am and got ready for our visit to Xinhua at 3pm. We all left the apartment at around 1:30pm and headed on the tube to meet with the rest of the group and our professors at a tube stop that we had never been to before. We got a little lost today on our way there, but we ended up finding it not too much later. We met with three men who worked for the Xinhua news in London and they were very welcoming to us. It was interesting to hear about a news company that was focused in China and not London like a bunch of other places were.
We were there for about an hour then were free to do what we chose. Myself and a few other girls took the tube to the Hyde Park stop to get dinner and ride bikes in Hyde Park. We sat down to eat at a little restaurant that was not the best in the world...and it was time to pay. I looked in my wallet where I keep everything and my credit card was missing. My heart stopped--but luckily I had another card to pay with. I told the other girls and they were fine with just going back to the apartment and when I was on the tube I remembered I had gone down to Tesco the night before to get some toilet paper. We got back to our apartment and I ran into the Tesco and they had it!!!!!! I was praying that I wasn't going to have to call my parents and tell them so sorry if you're reading this Mom and Dad!
I went back to the apartment and cleaned up a little and now I'm just relaxing and watching tv with the rest of the girls in the apartment. Tomorrow is my day trip to Paris and I can't wait to wake up at 3am tomorrow!

Day 9-Day at the apartment

Yesterday was a much needed rest day for me. I never thought walking around so much would tire me out but I spent yesterday waking up late and working all day to get ahead on some assignments. I was able to just hang out by myself in the apartment and work on things that I really needed to get done. I was almost going to go on a double decker bus tour but I had already been to a bunch of places on the tour. Thankfully I finished a lot of what I needed to get done and was able to relax at the end of the day. I ended my day watching the England vs. Uruguay soccer game and watching Uruguay win!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Day 8-Meeting with the BBC and The Guardian

Yesterday was going to be one of my favorite days because I had been waiting for our visit to the BBC for so long! We took the tube which was ridiculously packed and made it to the BBC about 45 minutes early. A bunch of us stopped and got breakfast at a cafe right next door to it, which was delicious! It was time to go in and get our tour passes. We had to go through screening just like at the airport and then were allotted passes for our tour.
Our first tour guide gave us an overview of the televisions and broadcasting that was done and our second tour guide told us about the floor of the BBC, which was information central. I'd show you pictures but they were very serious about us not taking pictures. After that we walked outside of the building to a broadcasting center where a lot of celebrities are interviewed when they visit.
We then walked into a recording studio where a few of us got to record a segment from a scary show, with noises and everything. After that we went into the front office of the BBC and were given the original story of the BBC's creation (of its building). Once we finished that, we went to a room downstairs that held celebrities before their appearances.
When we finished that, we went back to our meeting place, returned our badges, and were free to do what we wanted until around 3pm. A few of us went to a store called "Niketown" which blew my mind because I had actually talked about Niketown in my sport in modern society class and I couldn't believe it was really real! Everything that Dr. Warner had taught me about it was completely true and it felt cool to be there. I walked around, got a pair of socks and a shirt, and we were on our way to chipotle for lunch.
We went to starbuck's to get some wi-fi for awhile, and headed back to the St. Pancras train station to meet with the rest of the group.
We walked around and shopped for a little at the train station and then walked a short distance to the building where The Guardian was stationed. Right away they were serious about not taking pictures, and then it seemed to all go downhill from there. I don't know if it was the atmosphere or just the way that they held themselves accountable to their work, but it just all felt very cold during the whole meeting.
We left there and were able to do whatever we wanted, so a bunch of us went back to the apartment. I sat and ate a few little things and worked on my assignments for class to end my day. Thankfully, we had a free day on Thursday so I stayed up a little later to get ahead on a few things. I couldn't wait to sleep in finally!