Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Home Sweet Home... But Missing London!!!

I went to meet Ellyn on Wednesday so we could go to our hotel that we had booked right by Heathrow since we had an early flight the next morning. I must have been giving everyone in my neighborhood quite the show because I had to bring 3 suitcases with me all the way to my bus stop. I eventually made it to Ellyn but I was shaking because it was so hard to carry all the luggage. Ellyn and I made a system where we figured the best way to get our luggage from point a to point b. Once we finally got to the hotel we sat in the room and did not move for a while... we were exhausted! We eventually got up to go re-pack our suitcases and then go to sleep.

The next morning we took a taxi to Heathrow and checked our bags in. We found out once we got there that our flight was delayed 2 hours.... we decided this was a sign that London didn't want us to leave. I quickly messaged my parents to tell them about the delay in case we missed our connecting flight to Saginaw. We waited around some more and then found out our flight was delayed another 20 minutes. We knew there was no way we would make our connecting flight so I asked my mom if she could just pick us up in Detroit. I didn't have much time left on the free wifi so I had to get off and just assumed I would see my mom in Detroit.

We finally got on our plane and we both watched movies the whole way back. Once we landed I called my mom on Ellyn's phone to see if she was there. She thought we would be able to go on another connecting flight at 5, but knowing we still had to get our luggage, go through customs and go through security again I didn't think we would make it. We later found out that flight was booked, and our original connecting flight was delayed until 9:30 that night! My mom picked us up in Detroit, and my dad, Erik and friend Maggie were with her! They even had signs for us.... it was pretty adorable!

We met Ellyn's family in Frankenmuth since they live far from Detroit. Ellyn's mom had Welcome Home balloons for us! It was so strange to say bye to Ellyn because we traveled so much together.
We're home! (Our sings have the Eiffel Tower on them because there was no London cut-out... plus we went to Paris with our mom's!)

Adam came home for a bit that night and I handed out souvenirs for them. I think they all liked the Bueno Bars!

I saw more family and friends over the weekend. People will jokingly ask if I saw The Queen and when I say yeah they get excited. When I tell them I saw the whole Royal Family their jaw drops. This always reminds me how lucky I was to see them!

I experienced more culture shock coming home than I did going to London. I'm used to being around people with English (and Australian!) accents, hanging out with my friends at the pub, and going to a big city all the time. Now I'm surrounded by Americans (my family does say "bloody hell" as a joke now...), going to Starbucks to see my friends and going to Walmart is probably the most exciting thing to do.

My final bracelet... America, England, Germany, France, Scotland, Ireland and my 20th birthday

London was the best decision I ever made. I don't really know how I can beat the experience I had while there! Not only did I get to travel to so many places I only dreamed about going, but I also gained a lot of self confidence, friends I know I will stay in contact with (and visit someday!) and memories that I will never forget.

People always ask me if I liked London and if I ever plan on going back. My answer is always yes. 100% yes. Some people also ask if I want to live there someday and seemed shocked when I tell them that I would love that. I guess going from the shy person I was to now wanting to go live in a different country would be shocking to hear. I just wish I could show everyone how beautiful London is and how amazing the city is. I've tried to put my experience in words through this blog, but I still don't think I gave the city justice. I just hope if anyone gets the opportunity to go to London that they take it. Yes, it is expensive. Yes, you will always be on the go because there is so much to see, but that is one of the greatest parts of London... there was always something to do! Even after living there for 5 months I still feel like there is so much I could have seen!

Everyday my mind wanders off to think of London. I don't think I will ever not be able to think of it! To anyone who is looking for a sign about if they should study abroad, this is it. Go abroad! Study, travel, create amazing memories. I wouldn't change anything about my time in London.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Another Item off the Bucket List!

It's so strange to think that in less than 48 hours I will be back in Michigan. I have been having such an amazing time in London that I almost thought it would never end! Yes, I knew that my plane ticket was booked to go back (my dad makes sure to remind me of that when I talk about not wanting to leave), but you never imagine leaving something that makes you incredibly happy. Also, I never imagined London would make me this happy. I had hoped that I would love it, but I thought that when it was time for me to go home that I would be ready. I am excited to see my family and friends and can't wait to have home cooked meals again, but after living in such a large city I realized I am going to have to make Michigan exciting. Challenge accepted.

Last Friday I went into the city by myself. I never had a day to myself to just walk around and see the sights I wanted to see. I went to Picadilly, Leicester Square, Harrods (and got lost multiple times... that store is huge!), Green Park, St. James Park, Buckingham Palace and eventually met Ellyn at Trafalgar Square. We were going to get some dinner together but neither of us were hungry so we got ice cream instead! She was lucky enough to see The Queen and Prince William earlier that day!

Saturday was another day by myself! Ellyn's host family has a free pass to the palaces in London so she let me borrow that to go see Hampton Court. It was really cool because we got to see some rooms that we hadn't seen in other palaces. The gardens were my favorite part, though. They were so beautiful! The trees were shaped in really unique ways and there were so many different gardens.

Sunday I had set aside for packing. I am an awful packer, and considering I don't want  to leave..... let's just say packing isn't going so well for me. But as of now I am almost done and I think I can get everything to fit!

Ellyn and I went to the London Zoo on Monday! Our first stop was to the reptile house so we could see the place where Harry set the snake free in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. We were very happy when we found it! We also saw gorillas, tigers, penguins, monkeys (they were adorable!), pigs... just your average zoo animals! 

We met Maddy in Chiswick for our last Nando's meal that night. She texted to say that her parents rented a flat in the city and said that we could stay with them for the night! That was perfect because we had planned on going into the city early the next morning and we didn't want to say bye to Maddy that night. The flat ended up being right by Trafalgar so it was in a prime location! 

The Queen and Philip
Today was the coronation celebration for The Queen. It's her 60th year on the throne and had the coronation service today. It was at Westminster Abbey. We set our alarms for early this morning, got Starbucks for breakfast and walked to Buckingham Palace just to see what was happening. We did see a few ladies dressed in fun hats waiting to see The Queen, but we decided to walk to Westminster to see how the crowds were there. When we arrived there were more people, so we decided to stay there. We had second row! We saw all of the guests go in with their fascinators on their heads.... I was quit jealous. Then a police escort came through and the car behind it had the Duke and Duchess of Kent in it! They waved to everyone waiting. We waited some more then a big group of royals showed up... Beatrice, Eugenie, Zara Phillips, Princess Anne and I can't even remember all of the others! We waited some more and then the ones I was waiting for showed up: Will, Kate and Harry! Will and Kate were in a car together and they both got so excited when they saw everyone waiting and they waved to us. Harry was in the car behind and didn't really interact with the crowd. I was in between Ellyn and Maddy and I looked at Maddy at this point and we both giggled uncontrollably for a little bit. The lady behind me told us we had to calm down, but then the lady next her asked us "Isn't this exciting?" We weren't being obnoxious or rude so we didn't get why we were told to calm down! Oh well.... A little later Camilla and Charles drove by and then Philip and Queen Elizabeth drove up the the Abbey. 

Camilla.... Charles is in the car too
We left after The Queen went in and we kept looking at each other saying "Oh my god.... we just saw the entire royal family!" We could not believe it! We went to a cafe by Trafalgar to have a quick lunch, then went to St. James park to soak up the sun (I even got tan lines on my feet and a little bit of a tan on my face... never thought I would say that in London!). Maddy's parents eventually called and we found them. Ellyn and I were getting ready to leave since we both had packing to do. I didn't think I would cry when saying bye to Maddy since I was so happy with what just happened, but I was wrong. It's so incredibly hard to say bye to someone that has become one of your best friends knowing you won't see them in a long time. Fingers crossed she can come to America next summer!

Kate (in the beige) and Will

Harry, Kate and Will
Camilla and Charles
Ellyn and I made our way to Big Ben to see it one last time (and take pictures ... we looked like tourists again). It just seemed surreal to us. Even when we were walking away we were saying how we felt like we will come into the city tomorrow. We walked past the London Eye and made our way to Waterloo for our last train ride. I was in such a rush to mine that I got on the wrong train! I realized this just as it was pulling away, but thankfully this one also made a stop at another station I live near. I started crying on the train when I saw the London Eye and Big Ben.... people must have thought I just went through a break up or something because I probably looked ridiculous! 

Thinking back to when I first found out I was officially going to London I came up with all of these crazy fantasies in my head.... I would meet One Direction, go to fancy parties in the city, make friends that I could potentially live here with one day, see a royal (or meet a prince and fall in love.... but that one I knew was just a hopeful wish). Looking back at my experiences, I came really close to all of these thoughts, I even achieved a few! I have said this before, and I stick to my words when I say that there is no luck in London. It's all fate. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

One More Week

First, my camera is broken so I won't be able to post as many pictures as usual. I'm going to have to steal them from my friends when they post them. I never realized how attached I was attached to my camera until I had to spend two weeks without it. Anyway, here are some pictures from the Changing of the Guards and the Natural History Museum from last week.

Today is my "one week left" mark. At this point I am just anxious with everything I still have to do... like pack. I'm probably the worlds worst packer so it should be interesting! I'm actually surprised I packed everything to bring here fairly easily.

I have to back up almost a full week, starting with Saturday. That day was set aside to say bye to Rachel. Maddy and I went to Starbucks in the afternoon and we got to skype Kaley! She is making me feel better about going back because she said it is not as bad as we think it will be. It is still strange and she does miss London, but being with her family is good. We then messaged Rachel to see when she wanted to have dinner. She responded a while later and said she had just woken up and would not make it into town. Maddy and I were starving so we went to dinner on our own. Rachel said she would be able to meet us the next day.

Having a Sunday Roast is a tradition in England, and we haven't had one yet so we had to before we left! Thankfully the pub in town has a Sunday roast so we decided to go there. Rachel said she would be done with her family plans around 3 or 4 so we decided to meet around 4 in town. The roast was the closest any of us had come to a home cooked meal. Rachel came a few hours later and said she would be in town again the next day, so we still didn't say goodbye.

Monday was another bank holiday and the weather was perfect! I met Maddy and Ellyn in town and we went to sit by the river to enjoy the sun. The weather here has still been pretty cold... I think I've only wore a dress once since I've been here! We were sure to take advantage of any warmth we had! We went to another pub in Kingston that has cheap food for dinner and told Rachel to meet us there. She wasn't responding for a while and when she did she said she wouldn't be there for another hour. We were all pretty tired so we didn't stay long once she got there. Saying bye to her wasn't bad, either, because I know she lives in the same state as me. 

You know when days don't go exactly as planned but you are completely fine with it? Well, that was Wednesday. Maddy and I had planned on going into the city because Tanya Burr, a make-up artist and a Youtuber, was doing a meet-up in Covent Garden that afternoon. I met Maddy at Waterloo and we decided to walk across the Millennium Bridge (which was used in one of the Harry Potter movies!) to St. Paul's Cathedral. On our walk there it started to sprinkle. Normally we would be fine with this because it's London ... what else do you expect! But the fact that we were going to meet Tanya later meant we wanted to try to look as good as possible. Thankfully the rain stopped pretty quickly and we got to St. Pauls. We didn't go inside because we didn't want to pay, but the building is much bigger than we expected! From there we went to Starbucks. We wanted to sit inside to warm up a bit, but while we were waiting for our drinks we realized that every table was taken. Just as our orders were called some people left their table. Perfect timing! We walked around some stores after and eventually made our way to Covent Garden even though we were early. We decided the weather wasn't horrible and we didn't mind waiting!

We thought the meet-up would not be a lot of people since she isn't that well known. We were very wrong. There weren't a lot of people when we first got there, but when it got closer to the time it began to fill up. When Tanya arrived everyone started screaming and me and Maddy got scared. We didn't expect people to scream and run to her. Everyone was crammed together and it was just strange. After about 20 minutes Tanya had a panic attack and had to leave. I barely even saw her, so it was a bummer. But she tweeted this picture of the crowd later that night:

It was crazy! But we decided to make the best of our time and we walked around more of London. We walked to Regent Street and Oxford Street and then took a tube to Embankment. We wanted to get off before Waterloo so we could see Big Ben lit up. When we saw it, though, it wasn't. The view from the bridge was beautiful, though, so we stopped to take it all in. At 9 the bells rang and then Big Ben lit up! Again, perfect timing! We then made our way to Waterloo to get on our trains back to our houses.

Today was a laundry day for me... not so exciting. But Maddy's parents came in today so Ellyn and I met them at the pub for dinner! Her parents are adorable! They were so nice and very peppy for getting off a 24 hour flight earlier that day! They left to go to their hotel but Maddy stayed with us. Her mom even hugged us before she left and her dad left money with us to buy us a drink.... they so sweet!

Lately I haven't been able to sleep well at night and I think it's because of how anxious I am with everything coming up. I'm not happy about leaving London, but I am excited to go back to my family and friends. Packing, seeing the city for the last few times and saying goodbye is a lot more stressful than I ever imagined it would be. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

And the Goodbye's Keep Coming

Saying goodbye is hard to do. Maddy and I went into town a little before we were suposed to meet Kaley and Ellyn for dinner. We bought her some candy that we don't have back in the States for her plane ride. We met them at Nando's and tried to have as normal of a dinner as we could. We were all trying to avoid any topic of Kaley leaving. In other news, I ate a whole chicken. With my Nando's card I had enough stamps to get a free chicken! Thankfully I didn't eat much that day so did it successfully. After dinner we went the the pub because we were not ready to say goodbye! When it was time to go I had to say bye first because my bus stop is different from theirs. Of course, I started crying. Kaley told me that she was glad she met me, and in response I said "I met you, too." I forgot to say glad. But I am glad I met you, Kaley! Anyway, I was crying walking to the bus stop and would get teary eyed on the bus. I definitely got some stares from some people.

The next day I stayed home. After the hectic week I needed a day to just be lazy. I can't stay inside all day though, and neither can Maddy thankfully! She texted asking if I wanted to meet up for dinner. We are trying to do everything as cheap as possible so we decided to go to McDonalds. Ellyn met us there, too! We realized that when we talk about Kaley now it sounds like she died. We say things like "Kaley would've loved this!" or "Can you imagine what Kaley would say about this?" If people heard our conversation that night they must have thought some strange things because we were all kind of a mess that night. When she left it really put into perspective that London won't last forever for me. I can always come back (and I do plan on it!) but it won't be the same. Even now, with so many people leaving our group, London seems different (but it is still amazing).

Tuesday got a bit more exciting! Ellyn had booked a tour of the Wimbledon tennis courts, so Maddy and I decided to head to Wimbledon with her to check out the area. We thought it would have been a nice tourist area since it is so well known but the only area to see was the tennis courts, and that is only if you are into tennis. Thankfully there was a shopping center near the train station, so that is where we spent our time. We love the store Boots. We like to look at the make-up in there. We also looked at clothes stores in the area and eventually got some tea at a cafe and waited for Ellyn to say she was on the bus back to the station.

That night I watched P.S. I Love You for the first time and loved it! I never cried so much in a movie, though, besides Marley and Me. I know a lot of people ball their eyes out in The Notebook and movies like that, but I only get teary eyed in those. I loved this movie, though! It did make me miss Ireland at times because scenes were filmed there. There is a scene at the end of the movie when the main characters mom goes to Ireland for the first time and her face when she is looking at the green fields is exactly how I felt when I first saw Ireland! It is little things like this that make me remember all of the experiences I have had while being abroad.

Wednesday was another lazy day. Ellyn had texted me that morning asking if I wanted to go to the Hangover Part III red carpet premiere that day. She was already in town and saw them setting up for it. I decided to opt out of it because I would've only wanted to see Bradley Cooper and I already saw him at the BAFTA red carpet, plus the last movie premiere we went to was so crazy! I already had plans that day with Maddy to go the river for a bit. There is a little area in Kingston where a lot of people hang out, and we wanted to go there. We must have chosen a bad day because there were not a lot of people there. It started to get cold so we went to McDonalds for a bit (I promise I never eat it this much.... but when you are trying to spend as little money as possible it comes in handy!). We wasted a lot of time in there and eventually decided it was a good time to go home. I felt like I had jet lag that night because I could not fall asleep! I feel like I am starting to slowly get back to Michigan time without realizing it, which is nice, I just wish it wouldn't happen this early.

We planned on going to Richmond Park on Thursday because we heard the flowers in the Isabella Plantation there were beautiful, and whoever said that was correct. It looked like a scene from a fairy tale. Maddy and I could not believe how bright all of the colors were! My pictures do not give it justice, but believe me, it was the most colorful park I had ever been to. We walked back to Kingston and decided to go to the movies. That is such an easy thing to do when you don't want to go home!

Today showed that Maddy and I know how to choose our museums! We started off our morning at Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guards. Of couse, my camera decided to stop working right as it was about to start so I will have to post pictures when I steal them from Maddy. There was a marching band there, too. They were mostly there for our entertainment we decided because when the guards change they do a lot of walking... that can get boring. So the band made it more entertaining. The first song they played was "Somewhere Over the Rainbow." We thought that was cute because it was starting to rain so it was almost used to make it seem not so bad. But this is where it gets weird... when the song ended they started to play the Star Wars theme song. We were expecting "God Save the Queen" or something along those lines, but when that started we could not help but laugh! Also, two guards walked right in front of where we were by the gate for some kind of inspection and one of them said "Good morning" to us. I wasn't sure if we were allowed to talk to them so I just smiled and Maddy did too, I think. They turend around right away and walked back. Maddy looked at me amazed and said "Guards of Buckingham Palace just said good morning to us!" That is pretty amazing, I think!

Since it was raining we decided to do indoor activities. I had mentioned the National Portrait Gallery, so we decided to do that first since it was fairly close to where we were. We saw all of the main pictures we wanted to see: Queen Elizabeth II, Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Prince William and Prince Harry, some Andy Warhol paintings and, to our surprise, a picture of Ed Sheeran! Considering his music has not been very big for long we were shocked when we saw the picture. But props to Ed!

We were freezing from the rain so we went to a cafe for a bit to get hot drinks. We had along discussion on trying to figure out what our favorite part of studying abroad has been because we know we will get asked that question and we could not come up with one answer! We decided that people must ask us very specific questions so we can give an accurate answer.

Maddy wanted to see the Natural History Museum so that was our next stop! It was so much fun! We got to see a lot of dinosaurs, birds, whales, and so many other animals. We spent a while in the museum looking at everything. I love that so many of the museums in London are free! It makes days like today much more enjoyable!

 I have more goodbye's coming up. Tomorrow I have to say bye to Rachel, but she is another Michigander so hopefully I'll see her again! Saying bye to Maddy will be the worst because I won't see her for a year (fingers crossed!). She is hoping to come to America next summer, which would be perfect! I realized today that I feel like I don't have to say bye to Ellyn. We are flying home together, and since I am use to flying everywhere with her I feel like when we say bye at the airport it will feel like how it did after spring break. So Ellyn, if you get a text from me a few days after we get back, it's just because I probably feel like I didn't say goodbye the proper way. Be prepared!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I'm a Junior Now

There are some things I forgot to mention! A few weeks ago I went to Richmond Park with Ellyn, Kaley and Maddy for a run.... which turned into a 5 hour walk! Rachel met us later on that day, but by that point we were too tired to do any more walking so we just sat in the sun for a while. That wasn't the best idea because Kaley got sunburn!

Wednesday was possibly the most exciting day for me.... I turned in my last paper at Uni so I'm officially done! It's so strange to think that I'm a junior now. I went back to my house for the rest of the day since Kaley and Maddy were doing the last bit of their school work. It was nice to have a relaxing day! I opened a new box of Twinnings tea and they gave me 2 extra tea bags of a different flavor! So I tweeted to them how excited I was about it and they favorited the tweet. Then, Tanya Burr, a Youtuber and make-up artist, tweeted about how she was going to have a London meet up in a few weeks so I tweeted her saying how excited I was to go, but wish it was a different day so Maddy could come. I got a phone call a few minutes later from Maddy asking if I was on my computer (I had turned it off while I was putting my laundry away). When I said no she told me to guess who responded to my tweet. It was Tanya! She told me sorry Maddy couldn't come, but was excited to meet me. She's so sweet! And then to make things even better, Maddy can come! She got her days confused on when her parents were coming. Then that night, Marcus Butler, another Youtuber, tweeted something like "Hope you're all having a good day" and I responded that I had a lazy day and he favorited it. I don't know what was up with my twitter luck that day, but it was good.

On Thursday Kaley came over for a bit. We had some clothes we wanted to give away so we had room in our suitcases. I got rid of some basics, plain colored shirts, some leggings and socks.... things I can easily replace back home. Rachel also had a lot of clothes to give away. There is a dumpster in my neighborhood that you can put clothes in and the clothes will then be sent to people in other countries that are in need of them, so we did that! Since Maddy was taking her last test at Uni, Kaley and I hung around my house for a bit. We met up with Maddy later and had dinner to celebrate being done!

I found my coke bottle at Waterloo! 
We went into the city on Friday so Kaley could do her last minute souvenir shopping. We also went to Brick Lane, which we thought would be full of markets, but it was little shops instead. It was very much a "hipster" area. Since the shops were privately owned it was all expensive. It was a cool area, but not my favorite. The Great Gatsby came out this weekend in the UK! We have all been dying to see it, so we went back to Kingston for that. It was really good.... of course Leonardo did Gatsby justice! I brought my copy of the book here to re-read before the movie came out, but that didn't happen. I am feeling more motivated to read it now, though!

We had another Kingston day on Saturday. Got some milkshakes at Sblendid, walked around the Bentall's Center, then went to the pub to waste some time before we went bowling. We told Ellyn we would meet her there at 8. I haven't been bowling since high school I think, but I forgot how fun it is! I'm not very good at it, though. But practice makes perfect! The alley was weird though because we didn't need bowling shoes. Half of the alley you did and the other half you didn't. We figured since we had a small group they gave us one of the smaller alleys. I was fairly disappointed because I wanted to wear the bowling shoes. We went to Frankie & Benny's for some pizza and then went home.

Today is Kaley's last day in London. It is the weirdest thing to think that I still have 3 weeks here but won't be hanging out with her everyday. I can't even text her... But at least I have Maddy and Ellyn still! I decided that study abroad is almost cruel (but still amazing!). I have made some of my best friends here and now we are going to be separated again. Thankfully Kaley is a fellow Michigander so we can see each other fairly easily!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Being a Tourist Again

Wednesday was our last Kingston function... it was a pub night like we had at the beginning of the semester. This one was different, though, because they had us play games. It felt like we were in a classroom doing first day of school activities. But our group did win one of the categories! Our prize was a giant bucket of candy!

Since we haven't been to the city in a while we felt the need to go on Saturday. Kaley and Maddy still haven't seen the Tower Bridge so that was our first stop. From there we got lunch at a fancy Nando's. It was so much bigger than the ones we have been to! We wanted to go see St. Paul's Cathedral, but it got rainy and cold so we went to find the mall instead.

It was actually nice to go to the mall. There is a mall in Kingston, but it doesn't feel like how the malls do back home. The mall we went to was a lot like the ones back in America, and Australia according to Maddy! We were in a make-up mood so we went into a few drugstores to look at all the make-up. I did find the equivalent to American Girl Dolls here, called My London Girl. I didn't think they would have it here! We eventually made our way to Starbucks and decided to sit in there for a while. Even though we didn't do a whole lot that day, we were exhausted! We made our way back to Kingston and called it a night.

Sunday was Mother's Day! Well, at least for America it was. Mother's Day in England is in March. I got to skype my family that morning before they went to my aunts house. The connection was kind of bad, but it always seems to be whenever I try to skype! But she did open her gift while I was on skype. 

They got my name wrong for the first time.
Kaley invited me to go to Chicago with her this summer! The main reason we're going is for the One Direction concert (we're dedicated fans), but I haven't been since I was in middle school and I don't think Kaley has ever been! We went to Starbucks to start to plan it all out, but didn't get too far. We ended up changing our plans a few times, but I think we know what we want to do now! It's really nice to have something to look forward to this summer... it makes leaving London a little easier.

Kara's last night was on Sunday so we met her at her favorite pub for one last night. It was me, Kaley, Maddy, Ellyn, Kara and Dan. Our group keeps getting smaller! But we had a great time hanging out. Before we knew it a few hours had passed and some people still had to go home to skype their moms for Mother's Day. It really starts to hit you that you will have to pack your bags every time you say bye to one of your friends. 

Since this is Kaley's last week we are letting her choose what we so she can see everything she wants to. Today we (Kaley, Maddy, Ellyn and I) went to Hampton Court. We didn't want to pay to go in, so we walked the gardens around it. There were a few gardens that reminded us of of The Princess Diaries. It was all so pretty, but small! We thought it would take us longer to walk through everything, but when we saw what time it was when we were done we had to think of something else to do. We walked to a park across the road and found a fountain in memory of Princess Diana. 

We walked back to Kingston from there and went to a cafe to get a sandwich. We also stopped at a new gelato place in town and it was amazing! We will definitely be making more stops there. We have a busy day planned for tomorrow, so we had an early night.

Something really exciting happened on my walk home. Coke is doing a promotion where they are putting people's names on bottles and I have been looking for a "Laura" bottle since I found out about it. As I was walking past a bus stop I saw a double decker bus with my name on it! It made my walk home much more exciting! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

And The 'Goodbyes' Begin

Uni classes are officially done! I can honestly say that I like the American school system much better. I know we all complain about going to class, but at least you are learning information. We learn at Uni here, but it much more independent learning. They expect you to read the readings they recommend and do more research on your own. It is really different from what I am use to back home.

The magazine I have been working on for my journalism class was finished last week and it looks amazing! My group did a really good job with it, even our module leader seemed really impressed!

On Wednesday I had my British Life and Culture final. It was only 10 questions and a short essay. It was pretty easy, especially since we got the essay questions ahead of time and we got to decide which one we wanted to write about. That class is officially done!

The rest of the week was finishing any more papers I had to write and revising them all. All of my friends had homework to do, as well, so nothing exciting happened. Actually, one exciting thing happened... 5 Seconds of Summer (the band that opened for One Direction on tour) followed me on twitter! I would like to give a shout out to Kaley's phone case for that. 

Friday is when the goodbyes started. Sarah is heading back to Australia on Wednesday so she arranged a get together at the local pub, which is where many of us first got to know each other. I wasn't expecting to cry, but when Sarah came over to give me a hug goodbye I stood up and then she just startred crying. She then told me "Laura, nooooo!!" because apparently just looking at her made her cry. Sorry Sarah! But that right there made me cry, as well. I think none of us actually thought we would have to say goodbye to each other. Yes, we all have plane tickets booked back to our homes, but we just never thought studying in London would actually end.

On Saturday I had dinner with Maddy and we talked about the beginning of our trip here. We would each mention little things that the other forgot and just be amazed at how much we have done. We walked by the river and saw the most amazing sunset.... it made it that much more difficult to know we are leaving soon! We met Ellyn at McDonalds for some ice cream before we all went back to our homes for the night.

Monday is Bank Day! Just a holiday for banks to be closed.... but it was also Ellyn's 20th birthday! Officially two decades old! There was a fair in Kingston, so Ellyn, Kaley, Maddy and I decided to spend the day there. It was absolutely beautiful weather... we really lucked out! We walked around and listened to a lot of street performers and even danced to some swing music! Rachel met us later and we went to have dessert at Frankie and Benny's and it was delicious! I don't remember if I ever talked about my fear of balloons, but one popped in the restaurant and I screamed. No one else reacted, not even any of the little kids, but I got so scared! I had to deal with a lot of balloons at the fair... it was kind of a rough day with balloons.

Today marks the one month mark before I go home. I am in no way ready to leave! I can't wait to see my family and friends, start my summer job again and of course have home cooked meals, but I love living in a big city. The friends I have made here have made this experience so much more enjoyable.... I really think I lucked out with the friends I made, actually. Hands down, the best ones I could've asked for to share this journey with.