Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Christmas has come and gone and it is a New Years already! Since my last post...

Lauren and I parted ways for about a week while she spent Christmas with Richard and his family while I went to celebrate up in Bicester with the family friends we had Thanksgiving with. It was a great week, so nice to be in a house with a family and real food (real American food even!) for a bit. We even got a bit of snow, though it was not enough for a white Christmas.

New Years turned out to be a great time as well; Lauren and the boyfriend went out to Greenwich, while I stayed back in London with some friends from ISH. We started the night at The Albany (pub) and spent the countdown there, then took the tube to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. After about a half hour wandering around for a good club or bar to go to, we ended up at Freedom (club) in SoHo. So much fun!

Now that it is officially 2010, I should make some sort of New Years resolution. This year, I resolve to see as much of the world as I can, meet as many people as I can, and I suppose I should probably figure out this whole grad school thing... At least most of it will be fun!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

1/2 Way There...

Somehow, our first semester has come to an end already. Seems like just yesterday we were getting off the plane and trying to find our dorm on little to no sleep. Now, Christmas is in just a few days and classes for this semester are already over! I still have 2 papers to write but still...
The study abroad program here at London Met took all the abroad students out for pizza this past Monday and then for a ride on the London Eye as a farewell to the semester students. Lauren and I are hoping we can get on this again at the end of the year :)We also have been getting some snow here! Apparently that doesn't happen very often, at least not before Christmas so I think we've gotten lucky. It hasn't been cold enough to accumulate at all, but it makes it feel like winter and Christmas at least. This break has tons of potential, and I can't wait to see where it takes us!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bath & Stonehenge

I decided to take a weekend off of writing papers and head out to see Bath. My friend and co-worker Alyssa was actually going to be back in Bath this weekend to graduate, but unfortunately we miss each other by just hours, just like when we got into England but I set off to explore the city anyway.

Bath is absolutely beautiful! I went to see the the Roman Baths, which were amazing. No spa treatments available (which is ok 'cause the water looked a bit gross) but it was cool to see. At the end of the tour you are able to 'taste' the water from the thermal spring. Weird, but ok if that's the tradition I figure I'd try it. Tasted like warm, stale water. Go figure. My last full day there I took a few hours to go and see Stonehenge. Litterally in the middle of nowhere, and then huge rocks! It was fantastic to see, such a historic and famous landmark. In real life too, not just in a picture!
Aside from the hostel I stayed in, which was nice but next time I think I'll cough up a few extra pounds to not stay in a 10 person mixed room, the trip was wonderful. Hopefully someday I'll make it back.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Hyde Park Christmas

Since I had nothing going on today, and I actually need to get books to write my last few papers (what?), I decided to go check out the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.
They have Jager as you can see, so life is good. I did not however get any since it was expensive.
The main food and shopping area was German themed, there were brats and beer and pretzels and tons of good smelling food that I could not afford. Maybe I'll go back later and try more of it.
I did try mulled wine though, which was actually really good. I wasn't sure what to expect so the first few sips were a bit different but I liked it. That and some chocolate covered strawberries and I was good to go. They also had this massive snowman which was my favorite :)
Anyway, hopefully I will be back soon to eat more and go ice skating! Still waiting for snow... I mean really, it's December and it is 50 degrees (F) here. Amazing.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


So we took an impromptu trip to Oxford this week, which was actually really nice. Why did we go in the middle of the week you ask? Well, we went to see an organ recital... Yeah. Right. But the real reason would be this:Awwwww! So cute! The boy in the picture holding Lauren's hand, by the way, is not some guy we paid off the street for the picture, it is her new boyfriend and the organ player that we saw at the recital. All makes sense now, doesn't it? :) Good. Anyway, Oxford was nice, although rainy but what did we really expect?
Since we did go smack dab in the middle of the week and had a recital to attend to, we didn't have tons of time to go exploring but we did see a good amount of the city center area. Turns out the Queen was in Oxford that day too, but we just missed her twice by just a few minutes.
Today, which is actually Friday contrary to what this post might lead you to believe, I took off to check out some of the Christmas festivities around London. There was a 'fun fair' in Leicester Square, and a Christmas market in Covent Garden. The 'fun fair' was really just a few rides and a bunch of Christmas lights, but it was fun to walk through.
The Christmas market on the other hand was packed with people, vendors, street performers, and great food! It kinda reminded me of a holiday version of the Bazaar at the MN state fair actually. I got myself a cup of hot chocolate and walked around to take it all in. I wimped out and didn't try the mulled wine, but that is next on my list. I did, however, try a minced pie. The people here just love them. I thought it was good, but not that good...Hopefully this weekend I'll be able to check out a few more markets, and let you know the verdict on the mulled wine. Now we just need some snow, and the Christmas season will officially be upon us!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Real Thanksgiving in Bicester

Since Thanksgiving is not celebrated in England (go figure...) Lauren and I were left wondering what in the world we were going to do for this American holiday. We saw that they were a few pubs around that offered Thanksgiving dinners, but they didn't look nearly as your typical home cooked meal.
BUT thanks to my aunt introducing us to a friend of her's from Egypt who is now stationed here in England, we were invited up to Bicester for a real, home cooked, Minnesota family Thanksgiving. It was wonderful! The family we were with were very nice, funny, and made us feel right at home. Turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and even green bean casserole for dinner, and pumpkin AND apple pie for dessert! It couldn't have been better. Not only did they offer us all this, they were even able to find us a few American grocery items that we have been missing! American Dr.Peper, chewy chips-ahoy, pop tarts, and cinnamon toast crunch! What we would have done without these things for a full year, I do not know :)
Thanksgiving was a great success, and I am very thankful for our new friends that welcomed us into their home for the holidays. Hopefully we will be back to see them again soon!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Birthday in Croydon

It was our friend (UK) Laurens birthday on Monday so (US) Lauren and I hopped on a train Saturday night and went to party it up in Croydon! We had been warned about Croydon, apparently it is not exactly the nicest area of South London. But upon arrival we deemed it no worse than North Ave in Milwaukee and went to meet the birthday girl at the pubs. Ironically enough I picked a seat next to (UK) Katie just to make everyone a bit more confused than they had to be in our collectively drunken state.
After pub hopping until 1am, our group was down to only 5, Nicola ((UK) Lauren's sister), (UK) Lauren, (US) Lauren, (UK) Katie, and myself. Go figure. We all crashed at (UK) Lauren's that night and woke up the next afternoon and had a nice breakfast of tea and toast. We were then kindly given a ride back to the train station to head back into London.
Overall consensus is that Croydon is not nearly as bad as people make it out to be, and the birthday party was a success. Happy Birthday Lauren!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

That's Just Our Luck

I know it's been ages, but here is a brief update of what has been going on since I last wrote.
We have seen 3 plays: War Horse, Inherit the Wind, and Annie Get Your Gun. War Horse was.... different. Inherit the Wind was very good, and even had Kevin Spacey in it. Annie Get Your Gun was ok, nothing spectacular.
I got terribly sick, and spent 5 days in bed. I went to the doctor, and while it wasn't confirmed, everyone is guessing I had H1N1, the dreaded swine flu. I am finally almost fully recovered and find it quite funny that I may have had the 'pig flu'.
Today my debt card was eaten by an ATM machine so I've had a hell of a time trying to figure out what to do about that.
But aside from all this, everything is still going well. Classes are just chugging right along, and winter break is coming up faster than we can plan our trip! I can't wait!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Remember, Remember

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!
It is Guy Fawkes night tonight in London. I am listening to and watching fireworks outside our window, and later on we are off to try to find a bonfire! From what I have heard and read the bonfires and effigy burnings are not as popular in central London now but if we happen to stumble upon one we may just have to try to partake in the events :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas...

Ummmm... Wait, let me check... Yep it is November 3rd. NOVEMBER people! But regardless, Lauren and I attended the Oxford Street Christmas Lighting ceremony tonight. Quite an event here! They had The Saturdays, Taio Cruz, Peter Andre, Jim Carrey, Andrea Bocelli.... it was just crazy! The bands played first, then they had the Lord Mayor of London on for a chat, then Jim Carrey came out to switch on the lights. After the lights were on all the groups from Oxford Circus (where we were) to Regents Street and St. Paul's Cathedral sang O' Come All Ye Faithful and Silent Night together for the Guinness World Records Largest Christmas Carol Sing-a-Long. After all that was said and done, everyone dispersed in the night to begin their Christmas shopping. Talk about early! Even we don't go too crazy till Black Friday ;)

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Music and Costumes and Beer, oh my!

This week started pretty slow, but took off with a bang! Wednesday, Lauren and I went to the National Theater to see Mother Courage and Her Children. Read the summery of the play here. This performance was unlike anything I have every seen before. It was shown as 'epic theater', meaning lighting, scene and costume changes, and musical elements are kept in full view of the audience to remind them that what they are watching is not real. A very interesting way to conduct a play but I think it worked quite well.Thursday after our classes Lauren and I went to ISH for free ballroom dance lessons. It turned out to be really fun! We learned the waltz, the cha-cha, the samba, and a few others, none of which I remember very well at this point but I think we are going to try to go again this week so maybe I'll learn them a bit better this time around. After dancing, we stopped up at the bar before going home. Thursday is karaoke night, which is always entertaining to say in the least. This week it was even more so with the night ending in a bar fight! Some kid smashed a beer bottle over someones head, in all my years of working at a bar I have never seen that before!
Saturday turned out to be the craziest Halloween ever. Aside from the fact that we got to spend it in London, there was a free Dead Weather show at a church in Shoreditch. Lauren and I waited in line for 2 hours with hundreds of other people, but we made it in! Once inside we were all given a free beer and left to find a spot in the dark, eerily blue lit church. I'm sure it was quite a sight to anyone who may have been walking past; tons of people dressed up in Halloween costumes drinking beer, standing on pews while listening to alt rock in a church, haha! The show was really good, and they even had a decent light show with it. It only lasted for about a half hour but it was so worth it.
Last night ISH had a showing Fast and Furious in their little theater, then we went home to watch the Vikings/Packers game. They actually had it on TV here! Vikings won :) All in all, it has been another weekend come and gone successfully. And somehow it is already November as well! Maybe now we'll get a taste of the the weather is really like here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Isle of Wight

Yesterday Lauren and I took a day trip through ISH (International Student House) and International Friends to the Isle of Wight. The Isle of Wight is England's largest island about a half hours ferry ride from the southern coast. We woke up at the ungodly hour of 7am to be at the main housing building by 8, then were able to relax on a two hour bus ride to Portsmouth. From Portsmouth we took a car ferry to the Isle. Once safely on the Isle, we given a bus tour of the beautiful countryside. Unfortunately it was rainy, windy and cold but the scenery was still amazing. We made three stops on the Isle, first at small coastal town on the northern side of the island for pictures by the sea side.Our second stop was more inland for lunch and a bit of sight-seeing. We hiked up a hill in the center of the town to see a church and got a much better view of the scenery. Amazingly, when we came out of the church, the rain had stopped and the sun had come out! Made the rest of the trip much nicer. On our way back to the bus we stopped at a small little cafe for sausage and chips (french fries). Lastly, we stopped again at another small coastal town named Cowes to stretch our legs before the trip home and get a few last pictures.
After waking up so early and spendig the whold day traveling, Lauren and I spent most of the bus ride back sleeping (or at least trying to). But of course when we got home we found ourselves wide awake and decided to take a walk around Westminster. Today we slept in, laughed at all the Brittish people on the tube with mix-matched NFL jerseys on their way to the Buccaneers/Patroits game that was held here in London at Wembly today, and got some free food at a small party here at ISH. Alas, tomorrow is Monday yet again. Oh well, I still don't have to start my week quite yet ;)

One Month Down...

So as of yesterday Lauren and I have been in London for a full month! I can't believe it, sometimes if feels like I've lived here my whole life and sometimes it feels like I just got off the plane. Crazy.

Anyways, it was another relaxing week with school and such. Wednesday we took a trip to the Globe Theater for theater class (go figure) which was very cool. It was built to be as close to a replica as Shakespeare's original Globe Theater as possible. While I have no idea what the original looked like I'm going to guess that they just did a pretty good job.

Later that night we were off to see Cymbeline, a play by Shakespeare which you can read more about here. I would just tell you about it but it would take about 5 years for me figure out a good way to summarize all that :)
Yesterday after I was done with class Lauren and I decided to go up to Camden and wander through more of the markets. There are so many things to see there it's unbelievable. Lauren found herself a new pair of shoes on sale so we decided to dress up and go downtown for the evening. All in all it was a really nice, laid back day.Today however, was a different story entirely. But that is deserving of its' own post; I'll have that up either today or tomorrow!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Did you know?

The Old Crown, the oldest bar in Birmingham dating back to 1368. Lauren and I stopped here for a drink or two while visiting.

The London Beer Flood occurred on this day in 1814. At 6:00 on a Monday evening, a torrent of beer came rushing through the streets of the St. Giles district of London.

It started at the Horse Shoe Brewery at Tottenham Court and Oxford Street, where there were huge vats of porter perched on top of the roof. They contained beer, which had been fermenting right there for months. The wooden vats were enormous — some as tall as 22 feet — and were structurally supported by large iron hoops, dozens of them. They sat on the roof of the Meux Brewing Company, each of them containing hundreds of thousands of liters of beer.

The largest vat had started to strain under the weight and pressure of all that porter, and on this day, around 6:00 p.m., one of the iron hoops gave way and all the porter in the 22-foot-tall vat came gushing out. There were about 600,000 liters of beer in there, and when the vat burst and all that beer came exploding out, there was a chain reaction and the surrounding vats on the roof also burst. More than a million liters of beer toppled the brewery's brick wall (it was 25 feet tall) and began flooding the streets of St. Giles.

People came out onto the streets of St. Giles with mugs and buckets and pots and pans to collect the free beer; others leaned over and drank directly from the streams gushing down the streets. But many people were injured by the torrent and sent to the hospital, where inpatients smelled the beer and nearly rioted to get their share.

Nine people died. About half were children who drowned or sustained fatal injuries from the flood, which had also crushed the roofs of buildings near the brewery, adding heavy timber to the gushing rivers of beer. One man died a few days after the flood from alcohol poisoning. Trying to prevent all of it from going to waste, he had drunk a lot of beer in the span of a few days. People brought a lawsuit against the Meux & Company Brewery, but in court the flood was ruled an Act of God, and the brewery was not held legally responsible.

Taken from The Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Week of Strikes & Theater

It has been a nice relaxing week here in London, my 3 day school week was cut down to one due to London Met's academic staff going on strike today and yesterday to protest huge cut backs in staff due to a 'clerical error' made by the school last summer. This and additional information about the financial situation of LMU has left me (along with numerous other students and staff) slightly worried as to whether the school with be running next semester, let alone next week. I'm certain things will be worked out, but until they are I guess we will all just have to wait and see.

On a much lighter note, Lauren and I have had the great opportunity to see two productions this week thanks to our class Theater in London.
Wednesday our class took a train out to Kingston to see Miss Julie at the Rose Theater. It was a well done Shakespearean play written by Strindberg set during a mid summers night. Miss Julie is the daughter of a well to-do Count, and after having an affair with one of the servants she 'finds herself caught in a desperate struggle'.
Thursday we were off to the Novello Theater to see An Inspector Calls by JB Priestley. This was a great thriller about a family whose night was turned upside-down by a police inspector regarding the suicide of a young girl. With twists and turns every minute, it kept us on the edge of our seats.

Next week hopefully classes will continue as planned and we will be off to the Globe Theater for a tour, plus the production of Cymbeline by Shakespeare. Next Saturday we will be taking a day trip out the Isle of Wight with the International Students House (ISH) as well, so as always there is more to come!

Monday, October 12, 2009


So Lauren and I found ourselves with no plans this weekend and decided that we should go out and see more of the UK. We were originally planing on our first trip being up to Edinburgh, but thought that would take more than one day to see (nor did we want to spend two days on a bus just yet), so we got on the Megabus and went to Birmingham!
Now, Birmingham was not at first one of our must see locations. But, my friend Sean studied abroad here last year and just absolutely loved it, so we thought we would go see what all the fuss was about. (That and it was only a three hour bus ride from London:)) The drive there was a bit dull, but we took back roads on the way home and were able to see more of the beautiful English country side.
The hostel we stayed at (Birmingham Central Backpackers) was really nice, much better than what I was expecting for the first hostel that I've stayed at. We got free breakfast in the morning and soup and bread for dinner each night, and our beds were even more comfortable than the ones at the dorms we are living at! We spent the weekend walking around the city center, going on a narrow boat tour through the canals, and seeing as much as we could with in walking distance of where we were staying. All in all it was a good, relaxing weekend away, I can only hope our next trip will be as successful!

Monday, October 5, 2009

School? Ummm... ok I guess.

So I've come to the conclusion that I am really quite terrible at remembering to update this blog, I'm also fairly certain that if Lauren wasn't so good about hers, I would probably not even bother. But she does, so I do as well. Anyways.... Today is Monday, the first day of class. Except for the fact that I don't have class till Wednesday. Fantastic. This lovely place is in Regents Park, just a minutes walk from out flat. Now that we have moved, we actually have a very nice view of the park through our window. What more could you ask for? The park is huge and green and quiet and really just all around perfect. You would never guess you were really in the middle of a city. Since we have had a fair amount of time before classes started, we have managed to see nearly all of the main touristy attractions in London already. This is St. Paul's Cathedral. From this angle you can't see the dome but I think you can at least get an idea of the overwhelming size and beauty of it. Lauren, myself, and our friend from the UK, Lauren who came up to visit for the evening, got here just too late to go inside, but it is on our list of things to do. A list, that somehow gets longer everyday rather than shorter no matter how much we do and see each day.

Friday, October 2, 2009

By Land or By Sea

Well we are still living and everything is starting to fall into place! Lauren and I will be moving into our new and improved room in the morning and classes start on Monday. Oh wait, did I say Monday? Hmmmm, seems I only have classes this semester Wednesday through Friday! Nice. In the meantime, we have done lots and lots of sightseeing... and I have about a million pictures to prove it. Amazingly there is very little here that isn't close enough to walk through. If you have the time and the patience, you can get pretty much everywhere in London by foot!

Yesterday, Lauren and I were fortunate enough to go on 2 different bus tours and a boat tour of London all for free! Ahh, the perks of being a foreign student. The second bus tour even served champagne and strawberries with cream. Doesn't get much better than that. More travels and adventures to come I'm sure!

Monday, September 28, 2009

We Finally Made It!

We are here in London! It is absolutely amazing here, though I'm fairly certain that I am not nearly fashionable enough to live where we do :) Everything we could possibly want to see or do is within walking distance of our flat, and for everything that's not it's only a five minutes walk to the tube. Orientation for school starts tomorrow, hopefully everything continues to go well!

Monday, September 21, 2009

One More Day!

We are leaving tomorrow! I can't even believe that everything has finally fallen into place and we are actually going to London! Lauren and I finally have our passports, visas, and a place to live, so we are off! I will miss all of you, but I promise to have tons of fun as well. Maybe we'll even go to class and learn a thing or two... ;)

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I know this will be worth it later....

I know this will all be worth it when we are actually traveling, but as of now getting things to come together is just a hassle! Technically, we are currently enrolled in 3 different universities, and it seems like we have enough paperwork, fees, and stress to actually be attending all 3 at once!
But, as for now we may as well enjoy our weekend in La Crosse. Yay for orientations and school work on the weekends. Too bad there's nothing to really do in La Crosse.... Did you know that if, starting the day you were born, you were to drink a 12oz. cup of beer, on the hour, every hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you'd have to live to be about 120 years old to finish just one of the World's Largest Six Pack cans!? Beer anyone?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This is my blog.

Alright so this lovely girl in the picture above (Lauren) and myself were recently accepted to study abroad next year (2009-2010) in LONDON!!! So in order to keep a good record of our adventures and to keep our family and friends updated I've decided to create a blog. This is it. Enjoy.