A Belated Brighton Blog Post

Soooo a few weeks ago, I went on a trip with my program to Canterbury, Dover, and Brighton! It was so much fun, I can’t believe it has taken me so long to write about it!!

While the trip was open to everyone in the program, it was required by my British Youth Culture class that I go. And I’m so glad I did. Of course, going along with my great trend I’ve had, I was sick on this trip. Having to get on a bus that Saturday morning was not where I wanted to be, especially since I had been coughing up my lungs since the Thursday before.

Needless to say, I didn’t get to experience the awesome nightlife that Brighton is famous for, but I had been ready to get back in bed and just sleep my sickness away since I had woken up that morning.

The second day in Brighton really was the best/most exciting. We started the day with a tour of the town. My class had a different tour from everyone else because we were focusing on different points related to our class. It was an awesome perspective on a historic city. We went through the famous Lanes shopping district, and ended up at the Brighton Pavilion. Pictures weren’t allowed in there, but it was gorgeous. It’s supposed to be a Taj Mahal-inspired building, intended as a residence for the royal family near the coast (during the 18th and 19th centuries).

For lunch, I had the freshest and best fish & chips I’ve had since I got to England. Brighton is well known for its seafood…because it’s a beach town. Then I went and adventured down to Brighton Pier. I’ve never really been to a true pier before, and this was so cool. It was a little weird thinking that these carnival rides were on what was essentially a dock, but I just leaned into it. It was really cool. I just walked around and took a lot of pictures during my afternoon free time, so let’s go to (what I assume is) the only reason people are reading this post: photos!

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I’ve gotten really behind at writing blog posts lately. I have a lot of posts with titles and pictures in them, but no words yet. But I also have a bunch of papers due in the next week, so I’m working to find a good balance. Hopefully I’ll get caught up this week, but if not, next week for sure! Thanks for sticking with me!


lydia. 

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Scotland: Limping Through Edinburgh

My trip to Scotland was jam-packed with adventures, so I had to break it up into multiple posts! Check out parts TWOTHREE, and FOUR!


If you’re friends with me on snapchat (@beinglydia), or follow me on instagram (@put.a.lyd.on.it), you know that I just spent four days in Scotland with my program. In the simplest terms: it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life.

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I have to break this up into multiple posts because there is just way too much to talk about. I didn’t have my computer with me, so I have to write about all of it after the fact. I’ll try to put every tiny detail I can remember in, because it was so wonderful.

Wednesday

First things first, I woke up on Wednesday morning with the biggest blisters I have ever had. They were basically the entire ball of my foot (on both feet) and absolutely painful. I couldn’t walk, and I was in so much pain, I couldn’t believe it. I honestly didn’t even think I was going to be able to make it to Scotland, I was in so much pain. So I basically spent the entire day laying in bed and soaking my blisters in epsom salts. I packed my bag as simply as I could and went to bed early (I had to get up at 6:15 the next morning).

Thursday

Waking up at 6:15, my feet not feeling any better than they had the night before, I made my way down to the lobby in order to get to the train station with my group. Thankfully King’s Cross is only about three blocks from where we live, so I figured I could do the walk and then sit down on the train for the next four hours and not stress about my feet.

Clearly, I should never go into a job as a psychic because that is not what happened. After limping as best I could to King’s Cross (while also dragging my somehow overpacked suitcase behind me), our train was delayed just enough for my friend Madeline and I to think that we could grab something from Starbucks. Just before we got to the register, I turned around and noticed that our group was gone. We dropped our un-purchased items and bolted to where we had left our suitcases.

To say we had started the day off on the wrong foot was an understatement in more than one way.

We did make it on the train in enough time, just without the snacks we wanted. It was a shorter ride than I thought mostly because I was dreading the walking tour waiting for me in Edinburgh, but also because I slept a good portion of the train ride.

We arrived in Edinburgh, made our way to the hostel, and were given an hour to grab lunch before meeting back at the train station for the walking tour I was dreading so much. My feet were still absolutely killing me and it seemed like there was nothing I could do about it and no one who would care even in the slightest. After taking far too long at lunch, we had about a mile to trek in less then 10 minutes in order to make it in time for the walking tour. I ended up losing my friends because my blisters had me going so slowly, and by the time I caught up with the tour, I had ended up running on my blisters and was in tears from the pain.

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JK Rowling’s handprints

Bless Kimberly, one of the IES chaperones who walked (limped) with me through the entire two hours of the walking tour. It was a wonderful tour, and I wish I could’ve had a better experience when in Edinburgh. The highlights of the tour were, of course, The Elephant House Cafe (where JK Rowling wrote a good portion of Harry Potter), the graveyard where JK Rowling got many ideas for characters names in Harry Potter, and so many more places.

After the walking tour, we ended at Edinburgh Castle. It. Was. Stunning. I honestly have no words for the view from this castle. It was completely marvelous I am honestly running out of adjectives to use to describe how amazing Edinburgh was. I still couldn’t walk very much (or very well), so I mourn the amount of the Castle I was unable to see (prison cells, crown jewels of Scotland, and so many other areas). Of course, the highlight of the castle was the Scotch whiskey tasting. The Castle has their own whiskey, and it was delicious. I bought myself some and felt like a real adult buying alcohol that wasn’t cheap. I also got a shot glass for my international shot glass collection (it’s a long story).

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The view from Edinburgh Castle. So so beautiful.

Again, I honestly wish I was able to walk around more (specifically up more stairs), and see more of the beautiful views that this castle had to offer, but I began feeling my feet forming new blisters (because of the weird way I had to walk in order to reduce the pain), and I knew I needed to quit moving. I sat on a bench for a while and just enjoyed the views that the castle provided. I honestly can’t put into words how beautiful this place was. I hope the pictures can even provide you a tiny glimpse of how amazing this place is.

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My selfie from as far to the top as I could get of Edinburgh Castle. Please enjoy lol.

Once we left the castle, we walked about a mile and a half (if my feet weren’t already killing me, they would be at this point) back to our hostel. Once we got back, I got in my bed and pretty much didn’t get up until the next day. I did get up to shower and put antiseptic cream on my feet. But then I pretty much passed out. It had been an incredibly long day with the best views (and some of the worst foot pain) I had ever experienced.

Friday

Our second and final day in Edinburgh, Friday was no improvement in how much my feet hurt. We had free time pretty much the entire morning, and most people opted to hike Arthur’s Seat. I wanted so badly to join them, but I knew that the last thing I needed to do was make my feet hurt any worse. Besides, we had a big hiking day coming up on Saturday, and I knew I needed to save my energy.

I ended up sitting at the hostel for a while, reading my book. I did make my way to a grocery store to restock my already huge collection of blister bandages and first aid supplies.

Eventually, we all loaded onto the bus that would become our home for the next three days, and I ended up in a seat all by my lonesome. It was kind of nice though, because it allowed me the chance to sleep on the bus if I needed to.

We had a four hour bus ride ahead of us to Oban, where we would have some of the most amazing scenery I have ever seen in my entire life.

With that, I’ll end this post. Not to end on a cliffhanger or anything, just because it’s really illogical to try and cram four days of Scottish adventures into one post. I’m going to break this up into a couple other posts, so keep an eye on my Facebook, Twitter, your email, or however you follow my blog for the next post about my amazing long weekend in Scotland!


lydia.

Liverpool: The Beatles, Cemeteries, and New Friends, Oh My!

dsc_0389The program that I’m in offers many day/overnight trips outside of London to allow us the chance to see more of the country, other than just London. Yesterday, one of the day trips was to Liverpool, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to visit the birthplace of the greatest band of all time. The Beatles Story Museum was even included as part of the trip with the program. Needless to say, I was hooked.

The day started when my alarm went off at 6:15AM, waking my roommate and myself up for the first leg of our journey: getting to the train station by 7:45. After hitting snooze many more times than I probably should have, I finally dragged myself out of bed and even managed to put on makeup before we rushed out the door to grab some breakfast. I don’t know why IES decided to book us an 8AM train to Liverpool, but they did. Almost everyone on the trip slept on the two and a half train ride there, including myself. By the time we reached Liverpool, we were slightly more well-rested, our coffee had started to kick in, and we were ready to take on the day.

First, we had a two-hour walking tour of Liverpool. I didn’t know that Liverpool had been the major port city for England for a good portion of history, nor did I know it was actually the location of the final surrender of the American Civil War. It was nearly flattened by German airships in World War II, and The Beatles aren’t the only famous music act to come out of this city (though they are the most famous). There was a lot to learn, and Liverpool is actually so much more than a tourist hub for Beatlemaniacs and football (soccer) fans.

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Part of our tour took us down Matthew Street – the birthplace of The Beatles. It’s the street where the Cavern Club is located, where Brian Epstein first heard some scruffy teenage boys playing music late at night. Getting to stand next to the original entrance to the Cavern Club was something else. It’s no longer an entrance to the rebuilt Cavern Club, but it’s still got a sign detonating  where it used to be. So many famous and important people walked through those doors and stuffed themselves into that tiny, crowded room, just to hear some teenage boys who had bought their guitars on layaway play some of that “rock and roll.” It was really, really cool to stand so close to a piece of culture history that’s close to my heart. dsc_0256

Our tour ended at The Beatles Story – the museum that walks you through the life of The Beatles – from their days as The Qurraymen (sans Ringo), to their Hamburg days, to their “makeover” by Epstein, to the rise of Beatlemania to their tour of America, through their psychedelic writing of the Magical Mystery Tour & Sgt. Pepper, all the way through their breakup and individual solo careers and later lives. The section at the end was dedicated to John Lennon and all the impact he had on culture – especially with anti-war efforts in New York in the 1970s.

It is impossible to express my emotions about this museum. The Beatles have been a huge part of my life since middle school. Everyone has heard of The Beatles and everyone has their own story of how they impacted their lives. Here is my Beatles story:

I listened to The Beatles growing up – my dad loved classic rock, so I grew up hearing them. But I didn’t develop the love for them I have now until middle school. A good friend of mine (who I have since grown apart from), introduced me to “the original boy band” when we were thirteen. She told me, “I have this movie I want you to watch.” That movie was A Hard Day’s Night, and from that moment on, I knew there was something special about these boys from the 1960s who had long grown up before our time.

dsc_0301Later on, after that friend and I went our separate ways, The Beatles took on a more important role in my life – they helped me grow into the person I am today. It’s well known that I have a history of anxiety and depression (as I have been much more vocal about it lately), and The Beatles always helped me feel better back when it was bad. There was just something about the music that sometimes didn’t make sense to me that helped me feel worth it on my worst days. It wasn’t until high school that I understood the depth of what The Beatles were talking about – the revolution of peace and love and acceptance and understanding. They grew up in a country that was recovering from a war, my generation grew up in a country constantly at war. The Beatles got it. They knew that life was tough and the world was never going to be perfect, but all we had to do was “give peace a chance.”

There was something deeper to the music that had soothed my soul on my bad days. There was something more there, something that I hadn’t been old enough and mature enough to grasp until high school. Those boys hadn’t just been drug-addled hippies, as so many people like to generalize them. They were trying to make political statements and preach a happier and more peaceful world to everyone – young and old, men and women, American, European, Asian, African, everyone. It’s something my generation can only strive for.

But my appreciation and understanding of The Beatles would not be anywhere near where it is today without my best friend, Shelley. She has had many conversations with me about The Beatles, their cultural significance, what their songs mean, and how genuinely powerful a force this band was. She knew all of this because she grew up surrounded by The Beatles. Her dad is in more than one Beatles cover band, and she’s even named after a Beatles song (“Michelle”). Thank you, Shell.

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Getting to stand next to the (replica) stage at the (replica) Cavern Club: one of the highlights of my life and also Europe so far. 

Back to the museum…there was actually so much I didn’t know about The Beatles and their history before I went to this museum. Of course I knew about the basic things, stuff everyone knew, and a little bit more due to the fact that Shelley and I talked about The Beatles as much as most 1960s teenage girls did, but this museum had so much more. IES got us the audio guide to the museum, and that was so cool. We got the chance to hear some histories from Sir Paul McCartney himself, about the early years, we got to hear from fans who went to concerts and movie premiers, we got to hear it all.

Getting to walk through the life of this band that means so much to so many people (myself included) was an experience I’ll never forget. From sitting front row at the recreation of the original Cavern Club, to hearing John, Paul, George, and Ringo react to Brian Epstein’s death while standing next to a replica Penny Lane sign, to walking through a Yellow Submarine, to taking off my audio guide headphones in awe of The White Room (or, a recreation of The White Room, where John and Yoko filmed the music video for “Imagine”). Each moment of that museum reminded me that anyone can have an impact on the world – even four lower middle class boys from Liverpool. Sometimes, love is all you need.

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Still recovering from the emotions of standing this close to (a recreation of) John and Yoko’s “white room”.

After finally extracting myself from not only the museum but the museum shop, the group I was hanging out with decided to go for lunch. We made our way to a pizza place farther than I wanted (I was really hungry), but was so delicious. Literally, I had a chicken pesto pizza and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever eaten. I know I keep saying that, but the food here keeps topping itself. I can’t explain it.

Once we finished lunch (we were starving, it took no time at all), Cameron, Sabrina, Simran, and I wanted to go to the Liverpool Cathedral. Apparently it’s the fourth largest cathedral in the world, so who wouldn’t want to see it?

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Simran, Sabrina, and I just hanging out in a cemetery. (Photocreds: Cameron)

Unfortunately, by the time the four of us made our way there, we learned it was closed. Naturally, we decided to visit the garden. No one informed us that the “garden” was actually the cathedral cemetery. Nonetheless, my new friends and I took cute, artsy pictures (as one does in a cemetery, LOL), and walked around the gorgeous grounds for a little while. It was really great to get to make some new friends on this trip where I didn’t really have many. I’m excited about that.

We went back to the train station, about as exhausted as we were when we woke up that morning. I slept for a good portion of the train ride back to London, and went back to my dorm and went to bed. It was a long, but wonderful day.

TLDR: I went to Liverpool and got really emotional at The Beatles Museum, learned a lot of history, went to a cathedral cemetery, and made some new friends. Now I have to finish a project for my Media &  UK Politics class that’s due tomorrow.


lydia. 

A Newfound Confidence

Today, I did something that I don’t think I would’ve dare done before this trip: I went and did the entire day by myself.

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To a lot of people, I feel like what I did today was not a big deal at all. Going about your day all by yourself is really nothing at all. But for me, who has never really been that confident about my sense of direction and is so very comfortable in her comfort zone, this was a big thing.

Since I don’t have classes on Fridays, but my closest friend in my program does, I decided when I woke up I was actually going to go somewhere. Although, I did wake up with a wicket cough so first I made my way to the grocery store for some cough drops and cold relief medicine (and snacks because you can never have too many snacks). On my walk there, I decided that when I got back, I would get dressed in a cute outfit, do my makeup, and go out for the day. And so out I went.

My first stop was Borough Market. It was mildly a sensory overload since there were vendors in every direction and a myriad of smells coming at me from all angles, but I quickly embraced my new, confident, “I am not a tourist” walk and weaved through the booths looking for lunch. There were so many wonderful booths and products for sale, and everyone was so nice! I eventually settled on a Cajun chicken sandwich from a game vendor and WOW OH WOW was it delicious. I’m from Georgia, and I have close family friends from New Orleans so I know Cajun flavor — and this was it. SO. GOOD. I kept wandering as I ate my sandwich and came across a wine booth, where I promptly bought some sangria. (It was noon.)

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After I finally escaped Borough Market (I say escaped because had I stayed any longer I would’ve bought myself more food and that was not what I needed), I walked along the Thames for a while. I stopped by a man with a typewriter and a sign that said “poet for hire” so naturally I bought a poem. When he asked me for a title, I couldn’t come up with anything, so he asked me where I was from and what I liked to do. I told him America, and I liked to read. He asked what kind of books I liked, and I replied, “true crime.”

That was the title of my poem.

I popped into the Tate Museum of Modern Art for a few minutes, but decided to come back when I had more time to dedicate to it. In search of a good bookstore, I got way too turned around trying to find the bus stop (all a part of the growing journey I’m on here, remember?), but eventually found it. Just as the bus I needed was leaving. So, I sat on the bus stop bench and pulled out my book to wait for the next bus – which was 15 minutes away (plus traffic).

Finally, I got to Waterstones – a five story mecca for book lovers. It was the Borough Market sensory overload all over again. But if there’s anything to learn about me, it’s that I love books.

Surprisingly, I managed to spend an hour and a half in Waterstones without actually purchasing anything. I don’t know if I was trying to save money, or I genuinely didn’t find anything that I had to have, but me coming out of a bookstore with no book isn’t something I find happens very often. img_0402

That Waterstones location was about half a mile from the British Museum, so I decided to pay my favorite place in London a visit. I walked around the gift shop a few times, went through Room 4 (the one with the Rosetta Stone and the Ancient Egyptian statues and Assyrian gates), got angry on Twitter about the Library of Alexandria (don’t even get me started), and got elbowed in the chest by a tourist because I was in the way of her picture. To say it was an eventful hour in the museum is an understatement LOL.

I took the bus back to my dorm, and I’m about to go for dinner with a friend. I can’t help but reflect on this day. It’s been something else. I knew that when I left for London, I would become a more independent and confident person, I just never expected it to be so soon. It surprised me that I was so motivated to go out and have an adventurous day by myself.

Today was one of my best days since I arrived here in London, and I am so proud of myself for navigating the city and making spur-of-the-moment decisions about where to adventure to next. I can’t wait to see where his newfound confidence takes me in life.


lydia.

 

Shakespeare’s Globe & Miscellaneous Museums

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Yesterday, for my Shakespeare class, we went to see a show at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. While not the original theatre, as that one burned down in 1613 (during a production of Henry VIII), the Globe that is standing now is a reproduction – still open-air, and still producing The Bard’s classic works. Sometimes, they’re remixed and reimagined, sometimes they’re traditionally produced.

Yesterday, we saw a production of Cymbeline, reimagined and retitled, Imogen (after the daughter of the original title character). Before you keep reading, it’s really helpful to know the plot of this show, because I tried to summarize it, but found it quite difficult. CLICK HERE for the SparkNotes edition just to get a basic summary idea of what this show is about. It’s really good, you should also read it.

IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. It was retold as rival gangs (the British vs. the Romans) during what I assume was  a drug war. Cymbeline, the king of Britain, was the head of one gang, and Iachimo, a Roman, was the leader of the other. The costumes consisted entirely of athletic clothes (workout pants and leggings and Adidas hoodies and sneakers), and the girls all had funky hairstyles. The British wore all black costumes and the Romans wore all white. The only exceptions to this was Cloten had a red shirt (because he is brought on stage fighting with blood on his shirt), and when Imogen disguises herself as a man, she is in blue (which makes her stand out against the stark white of the Romans and the black clothes of the Britons). It was a really cool contrast and it made it easier to understand who was on which side. They also had a gender-bent character (Pisanio, and it worked, as she was portrayed as Imogen’s maidservant) and colorblind casting which I thought was amazing.

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Sarah, Madeline, & I had the peasant “seating” aka we were standing by (leaning up against) the stage for the whole show!

It was also impeccably choreographed. It didn’t have big musical numbers or anything like that (obviously), it was just that all the characters knew exactly where to be and where to interact with one another at exactly what moment. There were a couple times where they included modern music and had the scene choreographed to that, which was so, so cool. Especially the final fight scene. They had characters rigged up to fight in the air (off-set by other actors on ladders that essentially was a DIY rigging system ). Technically, I was so impressed.

They took a story that I don’t think many people had heard of before, and reimagined it in a way that would speak to modern audiences. It had all the elements of a Shakespeare show (I mean, it was his dialogue the whole time), but by making all the technical decisions they did, they kept the audience interested during the entire show. Which took a bit of work, since I was standing for the entire time we were there (remember, it’s a recreation of Shakespeare’s original Globe).

After the show was over, my friends Sarah, Madeline, and I decided to check out this museum that was right around the corner. The Clink Prison Museum.

Initially, I was really excited because I thought we would get to learn all about the history of London’s prison museum and how things had changed in the long history of England. Nope. The Clink was a historic prison that ran from the 12th century to 1780. There was a lot of focus on heretics and traitors, and overall it was really underwhelming to me. The only thing I enjoyed was at the end, we got to take a picture “behind bars” so my friends  and I decided we were going to do a Chicago-inspired, “Cell Block Tango” kinda thing…in which I turn out looking way more like I actually murdered someone than the “he had it coming” that the song is taking about.

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Overall, yesterday was a really eventful day. The Globe was all I expected and more (honestly I could go see Imogen again), but The Clink Prison Museum was really not that great. I also had a “pizza burger” from Honest Burger and I wish I had a picture of it but I ate it really fast..whoops lol.


lydia.

Twenty-One: London Style

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Just one of the three cases of cupcake options at Primrose Bakery in Covent Garden!

As a lot of y’all know, yesterday was my 21st birthday! It was not nearly as exciting or over-the-top here in London as I imagined. I guess it’s because it’s not as big a deal here, since the drinking age is 18.

I want to go ahead and say thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday yesterday, and made the day fantastic. Thanks especially to my friends who I got a chance to FaceTime with (y’all have no idea how much that made my day)…mom, dad, Jackson, Jordan, Meme, Cate, and Erin. It was so great to talk to the people who I miss so much.

My day started out like any other: I got up, got dressed, grabbed breakfast, went to class, and went through my new London routine. We talked about Twelfth Night in class, and it got really feminist and I just loved it. Then, Sarah and I went to Primrose Bakery to get some cupcakes, thanks mom!

Sarah had dinner with a lifelong friend, so I went back to my dorm to take a quick nap before I went to dinner. I got to FaceTime a bunch of the aforementioned people, and popped a bottle of champagne to enjoy with my cupcakes to celebrate my turning 21. It was nice to get to catch up with my hometown friends while celebrating.

I’m not going to play innocent here, the drinking age in most of Europe is 18, so going out to a bar and ordering myself a drink on my 21st birthday wasn’t my first time doing so. (I’m still excited for my “first legal drink” in the United States when I get home in December.)

I grabbed a drink with a few friends before they left, then waited for Sarah to meet me (she was going to meet all of us for drinks, but everyone else decided to cut the night short early I guess). It was a little weird just sitting there in the bar by myself, but I guess that’s what being 21 and adulthood are all about, right? Getting outside your comfort zone and being confident and going places by yourself?

What struck me the most was how different this birthday was from any other birthday I’ve had as an “adult”. When I turned 18, I took the SAT, went to rehearsal for the school musical until 7PM, went home and went to bed. When I turned 19, I was just a baby college freshman with only a few friends. We weren’t close enough for them to throw me a party or anything, so my mom and my brother came up and took me to get dinner. When I turned 20, I almost pulled an all-nighter the night before to study for my history midterm. I went to my classes, took a nap, spent a few hours in the library, and went to dinner with my friends. We celebrated with cake and a movie night the following weekend.

This year, I didn’t feel the same love surrounding me that I had the past three years – that probably has a lot to do with the fact that I’m in a foreign country pretty much by myself, and my favorite people are over 4,000 miles away. Getting to FaceTime with some of those people was helpful, but it was nothing like having my roommate/best friend wake me up at 5AM by jumping on my bed to my favorite Rhianna song.

dsc_0012I understand the validity of my feelings and that I’m allowed to miss people when they’re an ocean away, but I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea: I LOVE LONDON. I am loving my study abroad experience and everything it has brought into my life, but it’s tough. It is teaching me so much about myself. There are just a lot of emotions that you encounter when you study abroad that I don’t think anyone prepares you for — especially when you do a program where you don’t know anyone at all. 

I really did have an amazing birthday – champagne and cupcakes and getting to FaceTime some of my favorite people was really all I could’ve asked for (other than them all being here but for some reason, I don’t think that would’ve worked out so well). Going out when I didn’t really have a group of people to go with or solid plans made it feel a little more awkward than I intended.

I am so thankful for every single person who made me feel loved yesterday — y’all are the reason I’m having the time of my life over here in Londontown. Without your support, I don’t know where I would be.

Cheers to 21 years!


lydia.

Amsterdam Adventures

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This past weekend, my friend Sarah and I took our first trip out of England and made our way to Amsterdam, Holland!

Amsterdam was one of the places I wanted to go most on of my list of places to travel (which is quite long), so I’m glad we got to take a long weekend and experience so much of what the amazing city has to offer.

Friday – Our first day in Amsterdam was a busy one, but we started it as everyone should start their days: with waffles. For whatever reason, Amsterdam has waffles everywhere (don’t look at me, I’m not complaining), so it was only natural we begin our day as the Dutch do. We then hopped onto a sightseeing tour bus to get a good tourist’s eye view of Amsterdam. This bus actually took us to a diamond factory, where we decided to get off and take a free tour. Not only did I learn that Amsterdam is actually famous for their diamonds, but I got to hdsc_01870ld a tray of jewelry that probably cost more than my entire college tuition.

Next was the Van Gogh museum. It was absolutely gorgeous and I learned so much about Van Gogh (my previous knowledge was limited to the one Art History class I’ve taken). It was really cool to see his paintings that I had only previously seen in textbooks or online. I wish I had good pictures from in there, but photography is actually not allowed, so when I tried to take pictures, I had security guards coming up to talk to me. That wasn’t fun.

On our way back to our hostel (located about two streets over from the Red Light District), we decided to go into a museum called Red Light Secrets. Yeah…it was a museum about prostitution. But, when in Amsterdam, right? We actually learned so much about the women who occupy those famous windows, and it gave me a different perspective on their whole experience. I honestly didn’t know much about prostitution in Amsterdam until I went to this museum. If you’re ever in Amsterdam, seriously, check it out. It’s so, so interesting.

dsc_0229Saturday – Sarah and I began our Saturday like any good European would – with beer. More specifically, we went to the Heineken Experience. I have never been anywhere like this. Going into it, I really didn’t know anything about how beer was made, much less what made Heineken unique, but wow oh wow did I learn a lot. Not only are they active in sustainability measures, but Heineken is a family business, currently being run by the great-granddaughter of the man who first purchased the brewery, Gerard Adriaan Heineken. I also learned how to pour the perfect Heineken from a tap (sorry mom & dad LOL). Y’all, there were horses and even a ride in this place. It wasn’t an exaggeration when they say it’s an experience.

Next, Sarah and I decided to check out a museum on the human body. Sarah is a biology major and was really excited about this, while I was more thrown off by the fact that all the body parts on display were from actual human cadavers. It was still a museum, and I still learned a lot, it was just something totally different from the history museums I like to frequent. But I guess sometimes changes in pace like that can be good for you.

Our last night in Amsterdam called for a real celebration – namely, a pub crawl. It was so much fun getting to meet people from all over the world and taking a mini-tour of Amsterdam at night with a big group. It felt a lot safer than just trying to go to pubs by ourselves. We both had a lot of fun, and were still able to get up earlier than our check-outimg_0277 time the next morning.

Sunday – For brunch, we met up with one of my sorority sisters who is studying abroad in
Amsterdam. It was great to have someone from home to spend some time with and to get to chat about our different study abroad experiences. Also, brunch was amazing. Have I mentioned yet that Amsterdam’s food is probably some of the best on earth? Because it is.

After brunch, Sarah and I pretty much made our way to the airport — where our flight was delayed by three hours. It took way too long to get back to London, but that isn’t even something I have the time to get into on this post. It was so crazy. After three gate changes, four flight delays, one hour in line at border control, two busses, and a short walk back we finally made it back to our dorm in London (only to have to wake up for class in four hours).

If you couldn’t tell, I really loved Amsterdam. It was without a doubt, one of the coolest and most unique places I’ve ever been. I can’t wait to go back someday.


lydia.