Alright! I'm finally back and able to post about my time abroad! Other than being very sick and just getting over my jet lag, I had the time of my life. How I'm going to do this is in two parts: one part about my week (and a few days) in London and the other part about my week in Dublin. I'll help pictures guide the way of my story so it will be a little easier to follow along as well as being a lot more fun to read! So here we go!
As you all remember I left the day after Christmas. It was of course a little bitter sweet because I was enjoying my time at home! But it did mean the time to finally go to London was here! I will admit that I was a
little (okay... a lot) nervous. I cried on the way to the airport even (anxiety got the best of me). I have never been outside the US other then going to Mexico and different places on a cruise with my family. It was the unexpected that got me so worried. But after leaving home (and making a quick trip back to get my passport) I finally arrived at the Chicago airport and was on my way to Philadelphia for my connecting flight. Problem: Philly was hit with a MAJOR snowstorm. All flights delayed. Ugh! Lucky for me, the people at US airways were nice and bumped me up to the earlier flight so I'd make my connection. A majority of my classmates were connecting from Nashville and Cincinnati which also got hit pretty hard with snow, so those flights were canceled. So as far as I knew, I was the only one going to make it to London.... what?!
I arrived in Philly after a rather bumpy flight (*note to self: don't watch the movie Flight before flying...) and I had two hours to spare! Sweet! A lot of the time was spent chatting with my roommate abroad Lucy who was with our instructors. Trying to figure out the plan because they were stuck in Cincinnati and there was no way they were getting out of there for a few days. So I just did my thing (instagrammed a picture) and waited:
I finally was on the plane! It was really happening and this plane was awesome! I was in the very last row in the back corner, but I didn't care. I was headed to London and I had my own little TV. When boarding was almost done, I saw these two girls literally running onto the plane. Thankfully they were part of my group. Ellen and Erin were also from Chicago (they didn't get moved to the earlier flight and barely made this one) and I was so happy to see them. I'm officially not alone anymore. Since half of our group didn't make the flight, there were a ton of open seats and we all got moved up. Not that it made a difference, but it was nice to not be in the back anymore.
I was way too excited (and into my movies) to sleep... which isn't good considering the 6 hour time change. When we land in London it'll be morning but my body will feel like its the middle of the night. Awesome! (not) But what's cool is I did get to see the sunrise!
We finally made it! The flight was short and sweet (thank you food and movies) and I was officially in London! You can totally tell from the picture below... right?
We got our bags and found out tour guide for the day. There were 6 of us in total (out of the 32 that were supposed to be there). So we really had the day to ourselves. Gale (our guide) showed us where to eat and hang out for the day and then let us go on our own! And that's just what we did! Our first stop was food, next was the British Art Museum:
Had to get the touristy picture...
And then we did some of this:
We needed to celebrate being in London! The funny thing is it gets dark really early, around 3, there and we arrived in London around noon. So what felt like nighttime to us was really only 4pm. To skip some parts, I turned in early and found myself passed out in bed around 6. Gotta get over that jet lag somehow right?
The next day we joined another group for the day and found ourselves on a bus tour. At first I was a little hesitant because all I wanted to do was explore the city on my own since our teachers weren't there, but after the tour I realized how great it really was that we did that. We got to see all the major sights in one day- for free! Here's the six of us:
The first stop was St Paul's Cathedral: (I have a lot more pictures, but didn't want to bore you with 100 pictures of the same buildings so I found one and went with it)
Next was Westminster Abbey
Big Ben, the London Eye and Parliament (semi pictured on the right) and many more stops, but these were my favorite.
So if you're following along, that's two full days in London without the rest of the group, teachers included. Thankfully half had made there way to Nashville while the other found themselves in Canada to both came across the pond and play in London! (everyone got in that night) So I took Lucy (my roommate) and we went out! Walked around Soho and found ourselves in one of many (aka all of Soho) Gay bars. It ended up being a lot of fun!
Now that everyone was finally here we could do our scheduled tours and start class! Here's a little picture of our outfits (notice what Lucy is wearing compared to what I wore the day before on the bus tour... It's an inside joke. But seriously, she's copying me...)
Our first stop was the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio tour. I'm not much of a HP fan, but I have seen most of the movies. Lucy on the other hand... well lets just say she was excited:
It ended up being a lot of fun. We were able to see all of the sets for the movies, how it was made with computer help, the designs, costumes... everything. So that was cool to see! We also stopped by the actual 9 3/4 platform (a few days later) in one of the tube stations. Lucy's idea but I'm glad we did it! It was really cool
Being UK fans in the actual UK was a little frustrating at times, but with the brilliance of text messages, we were able to get text updates of the UK v. UofL game in London! Throwing up some three goggles:
The next day we took a tour of Chelsea Football Club. It was a lot of fun and I'm a big sports fan so it was cool to see how things differ in UK versus here at home. Football (aka soccer) is the major sport there. The tour was so great and learning about the history was awesome. I left being a fan!
Lucy helping me stretch it out in the locker room
That night as a group we decided to go to the London eye. Although it was too late to go on, we still found a time for a photo shoot! Here's the group:
Thankfully on the last night in London, a small group of us did end up going on the eye and it was one of my favorite things we did! If you ever get the chance, go at night! We also got some shots of Parliament and Big Ben
The next day we went to Warwick Castle. It was fun but very cold and rainy so we climbed 500 stairs to the top (pictured below) and went inside to eat. Lucy and I woke up late that morning and missed breakfast so we were rather hungry!
this is us waking up late:
That night was New Years Eve! I've never been a big fan of NYE because it's always somewhat of a let down and never as exciting as movies and TV portrays it. That was until I went to London. The time of my life! Hands down the best night in London. As a group (still don't know how we did it) we managed to all find our way and stay together to watch the fireworks down by the river.
The fireworks were AH-MAZING
And after a small group of us went out to a club! Celebrating New Years with great friends:
The teachers were very nice and let us have New Years day to ourselves to explore the city! We were planning on taking a train to Paris for the day, but I woke up too late to buy us tickets :( But we did make the day one to remember! We went to Abbey Road!!
We got to take our picture! I was so excited! But for some reason I thought we'd be the only ones there... Boy was I wrong! There were around 60 people waiting to take pictures walking across the road dodging cars and bikers and making it so no one else got in the picture. We did a pretty good job if you ask me!
Later that day we went to Buckingham Palace. The Queen was there! The guards were not :(
Our last full day in London was spent at Wimbledon. This place was amazing! To sit at center court and hear all the history and upkeep that goes into making Wimbledon this historic place was fascinating! Did you know they have a grass counter? Someones sole job in life is to count every piece of grass on all the courts to make sure it's suitable for play. What?!
Later that day we went to eat and then went to Harrods! This HUGE mall that is one of the worlds most famous department stores.
I had to take a picture of this... How touristy yet iconic!
And that's it! That's my time in London! It was amazing and I couldn't have asked for a better time with better people. Tomorrow will be about Dublin so make sure to check back!