End of the Term

As we all know the end of the term is drawing near which means lots of essays, presentations, and tests before you finally get to go home. I have three essays due in the next week and it has been slow going. On the bright side, I have already completed my last presentation. Hopefully, in the next two days all my essays will be done so I can fully enjoy my last week in London.

Londoners are a very festive bunch and have lots of cool events going on to celebrate Christmas. It gets even better because some of them are Free! I went to the Crypt-mass on Wednesday, which was illuminated art in a church crypt. It was really cool! There is also the Christmas tree in Traflgar Square and Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.

Im going to get back to work so that I can make it to the last of the festivites. Good luck with your exams/presentations/essays.. welcome to college life. 😥

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Fun in the Snow

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Snow Flurries.. Beautiful yet annoying

Today it’s actually snowing.. i’m not going to lie.. i jumped up like a little kid and ran to the window when I found out. However, it doesn’t snow much in the Virgin Islands so you’ll have to excuse my exuberance. I was told that I wouldn’t experience snow in the UK by those at home (aka dream crushers) but they were wrong. 😀

On the other hand, the snow is causing slower transportation as well as delays in class work being returned which is quite annoying. I also planned to go to a concert tonight, which may be canceled because of the onslaught of white fluffy stuff falling from the sky. Nevertheless, I get to see the campus in the snow and once I find enough layers to venture out and take pictures I will post them.

I’m off to go make snow angels, throw snowballs, and take pictures with my flat mates. I’ll post pictures soon!

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Happy Thanksgiving!!

As you may or may not know Thanksgiving is not celebrated in the United Kingdom… which makes sense considering it is supposed to be about thanking the Native Americans for helping the piligrams who …escaped England. I can’t really understand why they ever wanted to leave, however to be fair it has probably changed a bit in 389 years.

Anyway all of the UT Freshman Abroad group are going to chow down in the Union Bar and I’m quite excited. However, this Thanksgiving is going for an English twist as we are going to be sampling mince pies ( pie of minced meat, suet, a range of fruits, and spices) and mulled wine ( warm wine with spices) after our dinner.

Funny story: I was slaving in the kitchen making some turkey roast when my flat mate asked if I was making Thanksgiving food. They then proceeded to ask me everything we were going to eat at our gathering.. they looked so hungry by the end i gave them some turkey. They also posed an interesting question. What music is played during Thanksgiving? The fact that I don’t know the answer to that question might make me a bad American.. oh well.  Hope everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving and spends it with among friends 😀

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Grades

I have now received 4 assignments back from professors and got somewhere in the 60 range for all of them. For an overachieving American this could feel like the end of the world. But there is no cause for concern; England uses a totally different grading scale and anything above a 50 is pretty good. My religion professor provided me with this guide:

Fail [0-29%] Work of deeply unsatisfying quality

Condonable Fail [30-39%] Work of unacceptable quality (if you get within this range you are able to repeat the class)

Third Class [40-49%] Work of adequate quality

Lower Second Class II [50-54%] Work of satisfactory quality

Lower Second Class I [55-59%] Work of good quality

Upper Second Class II [60-64%] Work of high quality

Upper Second Class I [65-69%] Work of very high quality

First Class [70-79%] Work of excellent quality

Upper First Class [80-100%] Work of exceptional quality

Getting above a 70% is very rare at university and my philosophy professor says that if you were to get Upper First Class your work should be published. That being said, 60’s are perfectly sufficient to me.

In other news, I have been having a good week apart from Tuesday evening when I got really upset at the thought of all of my friends from high school being home for Thanksgiving. I had a really nice dinner with the girls from my flat last night and that certainly improved my mood. I cannot believe I will be done classes in three weeks and getting home in 25 days! I’m having very mixed feelings about it.

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Madrid and Rome

I returned to Roehamton a week ago and I’m finally back in a routine and thought it was time to give you the lowdown on my trip to the mainland.

Thursday

After my philosophy seminar in the afternoon my three friends and I headed to Gatwick airport for our flight to Madrid. We decided to get a taxi there because the cost of getting there by tube and overground train ended up being more per person then just splitting the cost of the cab between us. Our flight was really delayed so we didn’t end up getting there until around 12. We took the metro to our hostel in central Madrid and grabbed a bite to eat at a 24-hour pizza place down the street. Cat’s Hostel was a really great place to stay. It seemed really well organized, was very clean, and didn’t cost much. I’d definitely recommend it.

Main room of Cat's Hostel

Friday

We didn’t have much of a plan for Friday so we ended up just walking around and seeing what we could find because the weather was so nice. We saw a lot of beautiful sights as well as some very interesting street performers. One of my friends also made a trip to Museo del Prado while the rest of us returned to the hostel for a much-needed nap. We finished up the day with a meal at a restaurant a few blocks from the hostel that served traditional Spanish food and delicious chocolate filled crêpes for desert.

Jess, Claudia, and I

Jardines de Sabatini

Plaza Mayor

Catedral de la Almudena

weirdest street performer and I

Saturday

We decided to invest in tickets for a bus tour which we could use the whole day and get on and off as we pleased. It was €17 including a pair of headphones to listen to audio about all the places we passed and a small guide book, not too bad. We were on the bus for a good portion of the day and that night we went to a really fun Middle Eastern restaurant. What a mix of cultures: American students studying abroad in England eating in a Middle Eastern restaurant while on a trip in Spain.

Sunday

We got up really early to go to a highly recommended street market. It probably only covered about two blocks but it filled all of these little side streets so it felt pretty huge. We stayed around the hostel for most of the day and got dinner near by. Then we went closer to the center of the city and stumbled upon a free concert in central Madrid of American popstar Katy Perry. It was such a strange coincidence. We weren’t there for too long because we had to catch our flight in the morning.

the girls at Katy Perry

Monday

It was hard to be angry about how early we had to get up when we knew we’d be getting to Rome in a just a few hours. We arrived there around midday after yet another delayed flight. We took a shuttle bus into Termini station where we could easily walk to our hostels. The three girls stayed in an all women’s hostel called Papaya and our friend Dave stayed at one just down the street. The hostel turned out to be great with croissants and cappuccinos for breakfast and a friendly, extremely knowledgeable hostess. After settling in we went to see some of the most famous sites: the Triton Fountain, the Trevi Fountain, and the Spanish Steps.

Fontana di Tritone

Fontana di Trevi

view from the Spanish Steps

Tuesday

Sadly, during almost all of our time in Rome it was raining. Tuesday, however, it wasn’t an issue as we spend most of the day inside on a tour of the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, and St. Peter’s Basilica. It was amazing, definitely worth the price! We found out quite quickly that Rome is extremely expensive when we tried to find a place around the Vatican to grab lunch. Of course this is a very touristy area so that was bound to happen but we found that that was the case pretty much everywhere we went.

ceiling of the map room

Raphaele's School of Athens

Michelangelo's La Pieta

St. Peter's Square

Wednesday

We took the metro over to the Colosseum late Wednesday morning. Unfortunately just as we got there it began to pour and the combination of that with the long line and the overpriced ticket made the whole thing seem a little unappealing. We decided instead to just take some pictures of the outside and then be on our way. We spent the rest of the day walking around the area of the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps and doing some souvenir shopping. We went all out for our last night and indulged in a four-course meal at a rooftop restaurant.

Il Colosseo

the four of us in front of Il Arco di Costantino

the last supper

We arrived back in England on Thursday afternoon totally exhausted and happy to be back to a familiar place.

Since we’ve gotten back things have been just okay. I have gotten pretty homesick lately and at this point am counting down the days until I get to see my family. I hate to say it because I know as soon as I get home I’m going to miss this place so much but that’s just how I’m feeling right now. And its totally to be expected; my first semester of college and I’m halfway across the world! For now I will just try to suck it up, keep busy, and have loads of fun.

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Harry Potter!

Well it’s been a while but this week has been very busy. Two days ago was the Harry Potter World Premiere, and I went :D. It wasn’t all fun and games though. I arrived at ten am to large masses of women, men and children surrounding Leciester square where the event was to take place. I then proceeded to be fenced in by security people and abused by the bipolar english weather. I waited nine long hours through both bouts of sunshine and rain to see the stars of Harry Potter walk the red carpet. I know it sounds pathetic when I say it like that, but I was also on the telly for the event. I was jumped on, screamed at, pushed, shoved, and rained on but it was all worth the end result. I spoke to four Harry Potter stars. Emma Watson, Tom Felton, Rupert Grint and Julie Walters all stopped to near me and exchanged a few pleasantries.  My life is complete, I know I”m a major Harry Potter nerd…deal with it.The event itself was cool and I’m really excited to see the movie when it comes out. Anyway I need to get back to my reading, I’ll post again soon.

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