The GoGlobal Blog

Author: Megan Prokott

Hi there! Follow my adventures through the United Kingdom and beyond as I study abroad in London this semester. I am attending the London Metropolitan University where I will be learning about my two areas of study, English and Criminal Justice, from a different perspective. I can't think of a better way to spend my sophomore year, and I hope I inspire you to follow your own dreams and learn from afar as well!
Wales! Hampton Court! London! [oh my]

Wales! Hampton Court! London! [oh my]

Hi y’all!!

I am officially in my LAST MONTH of study abroad!!! So busy, so sad, so excited, so …poor? ūüôā Don’t worry though, I still have a few last tricks and trips up my sleeve! I’m considering¬†this last month as the sudden death round of my semester in London (as in, I may suddenly die from exhaustion before I make it back to America) and¬†I certainly will be taking advantage of each day.

I have been into all sorts of shenanigans these past two weeks….


WALES

I took a roadtrip over to Wales for the day on Saturday and completed my rotation of the United Kingdom countries. As with Scotland, Ireland, and England, rain accompanied me. However, a little bit of mist does wonders to the ambiance of a castle.

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On the way up to Wales from London, we passed through the Welsh valleys. The fields were absolutely littered with these beautiful yellow flowers and so many sheep. We also did a little sightseeing of Cardiff, the capital of Wales. We (oddly) drove by the local prison, a few nice gardens, a freshwater wharf of some sort, a large castle in the middle of the town, and the church where Robert Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) was baptized. Wales is a strange place.

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HAMPTON COURT PALACE

Today, I took a train down to Hampton Court with my international program for a fun day trip outside of London. I’ll spare you the history lesson of the Palace and supply a few buzzwords: King Henry VIII, Tudor period, beautiful gardens, maze (!!), Anne Boleyn, and ice cream (irrelevant to the Palace but delicious all the same). The Palace was very interactive and we spent a sunny¬†afternoon lounging in the gardens. King Henry VIII knew how to live royally! We ended the day with an always delightful Sunday Roast (on Monday, since it was a bank holiday).

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LONDON

As per usual, I have been practically sprinting all over London. Just a few things I have done in the past couple of weeks:

-attended an event at the HarperCollins offices next to the Shard (!!!!)

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– art galleries and exhibitions

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-London Coffee festival (most of my pictures are unfocused on account of I drank 12 beautiful cups of coffee/ espresso before noon)

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– met this guy at the Grant Museum of Zoology

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-caught some gorgeous aerials of London from the Sky Garden and a few great views from street level along Regents Canal

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I also went to five thousand markets, ate some really awesome food (I’m lookin at you Camden Market and Wing Street), and sat in parks thinking up ways to pawn my plane ticket and stay forever. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†(just kidding Mom)

Anyway! Until next time!

Megan

Berlin & Prague

Berlin & Prague

Hello again!

Yesterday I made my valiant returned from a six day mini vacation (from my semester-long vacation) in Germany and the Czech Republic! I am absolutely beat (my FitBit tells me we walked the equivalent of two full marathons over the week!) but the trip was another great one for the books.

This trip was a little different from some of the others I’ve talked about in that I went with only one other person. It was a really nice change from a larger group setting because we found we had parallel interests and conversation to last easily six years. Also, it’s worth noting that he can read a paper map with enviable ease which, thankfully, offsets my own fairly incompetent navigational system.

I brought my limited Deutsch to the table on this trip. Did I impress anyone with harsh syllables or well placed umlauts? No. But did I have fun remembering a few things from high school German years? Definitely.

Anyway, without further ado, welcome to the photo documentation of everything I did ever in Berlin and Prague!


 

Berlin

– walking tour of the city (where we saw the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, the Berlin Wall, Konzerthaus Berlin, and many other places)

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– Museum Bode on Museum Island

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– German Parliament – Reichstag dome (which was heavier on security than some airports I’ve been in lately)

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-pub crawl of Alternative Berlin (where we very unsuccessfully played Around the World ping pong and got stuck in an elevator!)

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-Tiergarten (where we collapsed in the sun with Haagen-Dazs)

-Berlin Victory Column (spiraling up 300+ stairs has become a weekly activity over here)

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-East Side Gallery (where we joined the masses in a quick photo shoot)

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-Memorial Church and its new, very photogenic, counterpart

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-ate delicious burgers, towers of brunch, and, of course,wienerschnitzel

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Prague

We took a day trip to Prague via train. It was certainly not without roadblocks (nothing seems to be with me ūüėČ ) but we got there and got a little taste of the very visually appealing Czech Republic!

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Finally, we spent an afternoon at the memorial site of the concentration camp Sachsenhausen, outside of Berlin. This was a very special and harrowing experience.  The memorial site reinforced the importance of remembering the dark pieces of human history and it really reminded me of just how lucky I am to be free of persecution today. Our day specifically was very special, as we chose to visit on 22.04.15- on the 75th anniversary of the camps liberation. Survivors of Sachsenhausen had returned to the site for the anniversary and were dressed in their uniforms in order to pay homage to those who died in them. There were many events throughout the day to celebrate the liberation and to honor the dead.

Although it wasn’t a pleasant day, it was an important site to experience and one that I am thankful to have had the opportunity to understand.


Overall, I have decided that Berlin is a really great place and that it is very different from Munich, a city I once visited in 2012. Germany is a little behind the times in some aspects of normal life and it was very nice to slow down for awhile and go off the grid. Thanks Berlin and Prague for all the fun!!

Until the next adventure,

Megan

not done with London!

not done with London!

Hello lovely readers,

As promised, a whole post about London! My family has been in town for the past week and a half and we really packed it in. Taylor and I were able to show the rest of the Prokotts our favorite parts about living in this wonderful city, and along the way the bucket list I made when I got to London got some serious checks. This is just a handful of the things we did!

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-see the Rosetta Stone at the British Museum

-Easter mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral

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-eat an authentic Sunday roast

-Churchill War Rooms

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-see the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London

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-dinner at The Shard (my pictures all got deleted but here’s a picture of my mom in the swanky bathroom ^.^)

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-eat at The Breakfast Club (with the secret speakeasy and its refrigerator entrance)

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-see the Making of Harry Potter

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-Borough Market

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-Madame Tussaud’s wax museum

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-Oxford University

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-Warwick Castle

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-Stratford-upon-Avon

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-afternoon tea

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-Climb the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral

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-eat everything in London (kidding but not really)

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Finally, I checked off a big one yesterday and went skydiving! It was an absolutely incredible experience to jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet!

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It was so nice to see my family and have a little slice of home over on this side of the pond! Until next week, when I head off to Berlin and Prague!

Megan

¬°Barcelona!

¬°Barcelona!

Hola!!

I’m so excited to tell you all about my latest trip to Barcelona, Spain! This particular adventure has been my favorite trip to date in Europe, despite the many roadblocks faced along the way.

In Barcelona I got to use all the Spanish I know!! So basically, none. But by the end I was using ‘hola’, ‘gracias’, and ‘amigas’ like a champ! We had to mime our way through not one but two meals, but it was pretty¬†satisfying to be able to communicate without English for once.

I also learned the words for ‘lost’, as I got my phone and wallet stolen¬†on the first night. I think I took about 5 years off my parents lives (again) as I called them at 4am and asked them to cancel all my credit cards…

My friends and I decided to blame the incident on the fact that I was blonde-prejudiced while in Spain, since my blonde hair and Casper white skin don’t exactly blend. Speaking of white skin, throughout the entire city of Barcelona I could not for the life of me buy sunscreen. Everyone is apparently too dark and therefore above sun poisoning (I am not). I spent a good three days being absolutely lobster red, which didn’t help my standing out problem. However, that burn has quickly faded into a golden bronze so I can’t complain too much.

In Barcelona, we saw everything (probably) via a million different kinds of transportation. We saw the city from above in a cable car, which was very helpful to getting us oriented. We rented bikes one day and saw La Sagrada Familia, Gaudi architecture (many times from the McDonalds across the street- it had macaroons?!), the windy alleys of the Gothic Quarter, and, of course, the beach. This was so much fun and I want to do this everywhere I go from now on! We went on a bar crawl, after picking up a few more Loyola Ramblers, and saw the inside of one of the most famous bars in Barcelona- Espit Chupitos. This place sells only shots and has over 200 to chose from! Most of them were on fire, involved whip cream, or had elaborate science experiement build-ups. We also cabbed all over the city in order to make the most of our time- our hostel was located in the city center, so the beach was just out of reach by foot. Overwhelmingly though, we just walked. I think we went up and down the main strip, called La Rambla, 800 times.

Finally- food. My favorite part of any trip. I found a new obsession- paella. My friend Madison and I had paella every meal for two days upon our arrival. It’s the perfect combo of a light rice dish with the freshest seafood all topped off with a lemon. We couldn’t get enough. We also were on¬†a sangria kick throughout the trip, because when in Spain! There is also an amazing market on La Rambla called ¬†Mercado de La Boqueria¬†with so much fresh food and fruit. We came out with four savory pastries and a huge pile of guacamole. I left Spain very well fed!

I’m just going to let the pictures do the rest of the talking. Barcelona, I miss you already!

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Next week, my family is coming to town so get ready for a whole bunch of London!!

-Megan

Scotland & Ireland

Scotland & Ireland

Hello there!

It’s been awhile, but I’ve been very busy traveling all over Western Europe! It has been quite the adventure and each place I’ve been has been so unique.

Two weekends ago, I spent a long weekend in Edinburgh, Scotland. Edinburgh was full of history, local flair, so much nature. It was definitely¬†my favorite city I’ve visited in my time here. Oh, and it was SO HILLY. After two days we had walked twenty three miles up and down the city. My legs didn’t recover for at least three days..

We also climbed up the very windy Arthur’s Seat (definitely a highlight of this semester), ate more than I thought was possible thanks to a Buzzfeed list of incredible food (http://www.buzzfeed.com/katiei49192fcf4/21-things-to-eat-in-edinburgh-right-now-104zr), and experienced our first pub crawl! Following the kilt got harder after pub 6, but it was a great way to see the city ūüôā

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Four days after I got home from Scotland, we flew off to Ireland to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day! We spent the weekend in the sleepy town of Cork and then took the train in on Saturday to Dublin to see the festivities.

In Cork, we did some shopping and some authentic eating (as usual). We went to Blarney Castle, which is one of the oldest castles in Ireland, and climbed to the top to kissed the Blarney Stone in hopes of obtaining some eloquence (fingers crossed).

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We also spent a day in Dublin, Ireland. The morning was entertained by the Guinness Storehouse, aka the greatest¬†beer house ever. If any of you ever find yourself in Ireland, don’t miss this fun!! We cheers’d to St. Patrick’s Day at 10am and then continued to roam the city, checking out quite a few pubs with the rest of Ireland and America. We even managed to fit in St. Patrick’s cathedral. It was a great and green day!!

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I’m heading off to Barcelona on Wednesday to spend my spring break in the sun (I hope!), wish me luck ūüôā

Megan

Amsterdam(p)

Amsterdam(p)

Hi readers!!

Last weekend a few friends and I hopped on a bus ( and then that bus hopped on a train, passengers and all )¬†and scooted over to the Netherlands for a few days¬†in Amsterdam! ¬†The trip was a bit of a hot mess. We hit the worst traffic our driver had ever seen on the way there, got rained on nearly the entire time, remembered we aren’t cut out for the 4am bedtime, and were subjected to the splash zone of a highly intoxicated traveler who barely stumbled through border control.

BUT we did get to see the Anne Frank house, which I have been waiting to do since I left Amsterdam in 2010, appreciate the very photogenic canals, try over thirty kinds of cheese, ingest approximately a million stroopwafels, watch a man blow water out of a freshly carved clog, take¬†a million wet photos, try bitterballen (essentially fried gravy) and sleep in beds that may or may not have been handcrafted from the clouds (at least compared to our London beds ūüėČ ).

Our time in Amsterdam was in no way smooth sailing, but it certainly was a weekend I will never forget!

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On the way home, we spent the day in Bruges.

This little town was everything I’ve ever wanted out of Belgium and more. Not only did we go to a Frite Museum and learn anything and everything about the origin of the French fry/ chip/ frite/ slice of salty heaven, but we also got our own cone of authentic frites slathered in mayonnaise to enjoy as we admired the city.

Bruges itself was covered in painted buildings, horse drawn carriages, cobblestone (my poor feet), waffle stands, and history! I saw one of Michelangelo’s only sculptures housed outside of Italy, Madonna of Bruges. Then, we sprinted¬†up the 366 stairs of the Belfrey tower for some aerial shots (my poor legs), and then promptly sped back down to get a Belgian waffle. And did we ever- those waffles are every bit as delicious as they look!

Overall, a wonderful place to spend the day and I would go back in a heart beat!

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I have lots more to tell you next time, so stay tuned!

Megan

Cambridge, Stonehenge, & Bath

Cambridge, Stonehenge, & Bath

Hiya!

Coming to you LIVE¬†frooooooom *drum roll* …. my bed in London, where I am sitting in a towel and enjoying my first relaxed day in years (jokes, but it really feels like it). The last two weeks have been so busy with fun things I’m not sure where to start…


 

Sunday, February 8th

8:15am: Taylor and I gave the rising sun a dirty look, packed ourselves sandwiches, and headed off for Kings Cross Station to take the train down to the quaint college town of Cambridge, England. Sounds easy and super organized right? Nope- our tour guide arrived two and a half hours late due to a snoozed alarm clock.

12:00pm: After a quick coffee and a promise of a partial refund from the travel company, about half of the group + our apologetic tour guide, Oliver, board a train and pull off into the countryside. The rough morning was all but forgotten once I saw the rolling green hills of the English countryside.

1:30pm: We arrive in Cambridge and set off on a walking tour of the historical and beautiful campus of Cambridge University. At the second oldest university in the country (rivaled only by Oxford) we saw the birthplace of football (aka soccer), the study spots of many royals and Isaac Newton, and also kind of froze our butts off.

Taylor and I promptly forgot about the PB&J’s in our bags and dipped into Aunties Tea Shop to warm up and grab lunch. We both opted for a full English breakfast, and happily scarfed it down (beans and all!). It is also important to note that this is the only place I have been able to procure syrup for my breakfast (*crowd gasps*). As we left the tea shop, complaining of our incredible full-ness, we got a whiff of fudge and essentially floated into a place called the Fudge Kitchen. I am not exaggerating when I say they made us try every flavor. Obviously, we bought some.

Post-food, we walked all over the town and saw everything there was to see.We headed down to the river to see the fuss about punting- essentially sitting in a boat while someone uses a long stick to float you along, ala gandolas in Venice. It was all very cute to see, and the river was very picturesque.

Overall, it was a day well spent and I would recommend a day visit to anyone! (However, don’t use the International Friends travel company..)

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During the week, I spent my personal version of a perfect day shopping down Oxford Street and sitting in the sunny Hyde Park with a book, I went to the Wallace Collection for class and spent the afternoon admiring Rococo and Dutch art, and some friends and I went to a food design presentation by a chef who has worked in all five of the best restaurants in the world (he taught me how to shave an avocado). I also had a great time in a bar called Waxy O’Connors, where the only question is,¬†which came first, the bar or the tree? Here I discovered the most delightful drink¬†called a snakebite- grenadine, cider, and beer all in one! Finally, I explored the eclectic and adorable bars and streets of Shoreditch with my friend TW as we waited to meet up with some very lost friends from Loyola Rome. This last night went a little later than anticipated, and when I crawled into bed at 1:30am, my sleep was more like a nap…

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Saturday, February 14

4:01am: My silent alarm I had set on my FitBit went off all too soon, and by 4:45 am, we were off and moving towards Stonehenge!

8:00am: Turns out, waking up at the crack of dawn was worth it for the perks- We were able to weave our way through the strange, prehistoric monument instead of viewing it from 50 feet away with the rest of the public. Stonehenge was easily one of the strangest things Tourist Meg has seen here. Not only is there no real explanation for why or how these massive rocks are here, but it is also in the middle of nowhere. In fact, as I wandered around the stones, I made friends with a rogue sheep that seemed to have escaped from a mysterious location. The sun behind the clouds made for a really beautiful morning and it was definitely worth the trip.

We then made the hour drive up to Bath, England from Stonehenge and arrived just in time to make like hobbits and eat second breakfast. The town of Bath itself was very central and homogenous in look. There were stores, musicians, and authentic food everywhere you looked! We took a tour of the Roman Baths, which are exactly what they sound like. The Romans settled the town decades ago, and utilized the natural hot springs to create beautiful, luxurious equivalents of todays spas. It was very cool to see how creatively engineered the entire place was, and I was incredibly tempted to jump in. After our tour, we had just enough time to people watch (some of the pictures being taken near the main baths could entertain you for hours), explore the river and bridges, and grab some ice cream!

Overall, a great experience and one I would not hesitate to repeat.

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Next week- Amsterdam!! I am beyond excited to experience the city again, so stay tuned ūüôā

Megan

 

Authentic London

Authentic London

Hello my lovely readers!

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Well, I’m making¬†a go of becoming a true Londoner and I think I’m making some real progress!¬†I’ve started to feel true annoyance at those who stand on the wrong¬†side of tube escalators (the left side is reserved exclusively for those willing to risk their lives on the incredibly long and steep escalators to be on time), I now wear scarves as stylized, belted blankets in order to fend off the damp chills of February, and I have tried every type of cider I can think of at every type of pub. I also eat sandwiches multiple times a day, I am addicted to Cadbury chocolate Oreo bars (& had a moment of genuine¬†panic at the Cadbury ban in America), and I have blown the dust off of my two years of Deutsch, much to the entertainment of a few German friends. But perhaps, most importantly, I have finally started discovering the¬†fun, authentic, and commonplace pasttimes of my British neighbors!


 

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Midway through the week, I ventured out to appease on of my favorite guilty pleasures at an independent bookstore. The London Review Bookstore is the most wonderful place- no one tried to rush me out the door once I found what I was looking for, there are chairs in the basement to sample your reading material, and, most charmingly of all, I happened in on one of their monthly Late Night shopping events and was offered a complimentary glass of wine for my trouble. It was the perfect way to spend a Wednesday night.


 

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I also spent quite a lot of time at the V&A Museum with my sister, which is often skipped during short visits to London; however, Taylor and I both found¬†the museum and its exhibits to be truly incredible- so much so that we will be headed back soon to see what we didn’t have time for.

On a slightly more important note, we also tried our first authentic dessert at the beautiful cafe. The scone I ate (my first one!) certainly would have been life-altering, had¬†the stain glassed windows and luxurious atmosphere of the cafe itself hadn’t already done it. Not to mention I almost shed a tear at Taylor’s perfect¬†Victorian sponge cake. 10/10 would recommend making this stop a priority.


 

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Finally, I am a true sucker for the ambiance of a building; therefore, I have begun my search for the perfect study space.

So far the Reading Room of the Wellcome Center is taking first with its plush staircase littered with pillows and its interactive distractions. If you need a break from Tolstoy, there are truly terrifying dentistry tools to examine, straightjackets to try on, and a postcard table to tell your mom about all the fun you’re having.

A close second is the British Library, where one can ogle original Charlotte Bronte manuscripts, Leonardo Da Vinci notebooks, and unfinished Beethoven pieces. I just went through the rather¬†rigorous process of getting my own Reading Pass this afternoon -I had high hopes that the countless esteemed¬†individuals whose work is¬†on display would¬†give me the strength to focus on the “study” in study abroad ūüėČ


 

Tomorrow I am heading off to Cambridge to see what else the UK has to offer! Stay tuned ūüôā

-Megan

Week One and Done

Week One and Done

Hello there!

I have officially been a temporary resident of the UK for a week and a half (although, it feels more like a month and a half) and so far nothing but good things to report!

I spent my first full week being a tourist and seeing everything. Okay, not even close, but I DID see many of the classic tourist spots via two walking tours , a boat tour, and (perhaps the most effective method) walking everywhere and getting a little lost!

This is just a little snapshot of some of the things I have seen and done since my arrival.

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¬†[From top left to bottom: evening view of The London Eye and the Elizabeth Tower (aka Big Ben), a look up at Westminster Abbey (although pictures can’t give due justice to the detail), Taylor in Chinatown, street art near Brick Lane, a panorama of the Grand Court in the British Museum, a snap of a beautiful afternoon in Regent Park, and finally the three other fantastic people from Loyola Chicago and I in front of Tower Bridge]


Now we need to have a frank discussion about food in London. Countless people, as I told them of my planned trip over here to the UK, expressed some distress at the lack of “good food” in London. Let me be the first, but not last, person to disprove these delusions. EVERYWHERE I LOOK I WANT TO SAMPLE. Whether it is the artfully designed fudge at the Spitalfield markets, the streetview tables of authenticity in Chinatown, the pub food in the very trendy Soho area, beer flavored candy on Oxford Street (incidentally, not good, but I had to know), fish and chips at Poppies on Brick Lane, or the countless window displays of meringue the size of my face all over the city,¬†you must try it all. And please. Don’t get me started on the bread.
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Until next time!

Meg

 

Walk with me: First Impressions

Walk with me: First Impressions

Hello!

Against all odds, I MADE IT TO LONDON!! So far, I have seen incredibly beautiful buildings, walked over fifteen miles in two days, eaten some ridiculous food, had my bank card shut down (oops), discovered many websites that don’t work in the UK (get it together Pandora), and met some very charming people. In fact, as I write this, a delightful woman has walked¬†in and is telling me about her life in Egypt and offering me half of her KitKat (incidentally, more delicious here than in the States). So, feel free to skim to your interests, but here are my first impressions about this lovely place.

1. Food–¬†What am I eating?? Is this for one person? Is a sweet tooth nonexistent?!

Food is different anywhere you go, but British people take their food very seriously. Portions are huge, tea time is real (although tea often just means coffee), and you¬†have to be very aggressive at the bar to order your food at all. A steak does not mean a juicy, red meat with A1 sauce on the side. Instead it’s likely to be pork based (we think- will report back). The grocery store has an entire aisle devoted to various flavors of crisps (aka chips)(Say that word out loud more than once and try not to cringe at the “sps”), but processed desserts appear to be against nature. However, the best thing I’ve discovered is the Cadbury Creme McFlurry. Finally, McDonalds does something right :,)

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2.  Transportation

The tube is so.nice and so quiet. As someone who is used to the CTA, hopping on the tube is completely disarming. No one singing along to their iPod on speakerphone, no one jangling cups, no rowdiness of any kind. Although it is very nice, I almost miss the bizarre conversations people have with themselves on Chicago transportation. Also those two-story red buses? Not a mere tourist attraction. They’re everywhere and function the same as any city bus would. Finally, walking. It’s possible to walk anywhere and everywhere in the city (although it might take awhile). It’s 7:40 PM and I have already walked 6 miles today (thank you FitBit).

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3. Culture

I have experienced so much culture shock since I got here, and the English have a very distinguished way of life; however, I have also noticed a lot of parallels! As I was walking out of a store today, Mark Ronson serenaded me with ‘Uptown Funk’ and when I had to ask the front desk woman to repeat herself despite the fact that she was already speaking English, Taylor Swift was there telling me to ‘Shake It Off’. My sister took a friend and I to a place called Primark today in a shopping district and it was very similar to any outdoor collection of stores in the U.S. Primark itself reminded us a lot of Forever21 and its five stories of clothes and home goods rival the flagship on Michigan Avenue. We also have seen many places that remind us of home such as a Burton ski and snowboard store (in London?!), Burger King’s, Subway’s, and McDonald’s of course, and a¬†Pret A Manger on every street. Perhaps what has delighted me the most is that the brand of wine, Barefoot, is seen as an imported delicacy from the States. Experiencing a completely different lifestyle is incredible, but it’s also nice to have some comforts of home! ūüôā

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(I loved this street with its beautiful and apparently completely commonplace buildings and fun street art!)

Until next time lovely readers- wish me luck!!

Meg