Saturday, March 28, 2015

The Final Stretch

     As always, its been a while. Things have seriously gotten so crazy here. Like incredibly crazy. If you could only see my to-do list you would probably pass out on the floor its that long. I guess that is what happens when it is coming close to the end of the semester. I repeat, the end of the semester. Literally. I looked at my calendar this morning and I only have 32 days left in this magical place. A little over a month. Is this a joke? It feels like just yesterday I was frantically running around my house trying to pack up all of my last minute things and organize all of my documents and passport and crying about checking in my flight (yes, I cried because I didn't do it right the first time and I panicked....cut me some slack). But now that I have been here for about 3 months it all seems so crazy.
     I have realized how absolutely magical London is. Everywhere you look there is something new. You can walk the same street every day and still find something new every time you walk down it. You can see new people. Hear new sounds. Smell new things. But no matter what changes, it always seems to stay the same. Its nice now because flowers have started to bloom. It looks fairly different than it did when I arrived, but I like it. I like the change and the growth because I feel like it reflects me. It shows the changes that I have felt. I wrote before about how I realized I have gained a lot more independence and I still think it holds true. I've been able to have this experience and while I may be living it with hundreds of other study abroad students, every one's experience is completely different. We all may see the same things but how we interpret it and understand it are all completely different.
i am basically living in a fairy tale.
     I am going to be very sad when it comes time to leave London. To leave my friends both from the program and from outside. I'm going to miss this street and getting woken up by construction and screaming school children every morning. I'm going to miss family dinner every Sunday night. I'm going to miss being a hop, skip and a jump away from some of my best friends that I have met over the past couple of summers. But I'm excited to go home and see my family. For some reason, being here doesn't seem real; like a dream. So, yeah, I'm going to miss London because I love London but I also miss my real world.
     The next 32 days are going to be absolute madness. There are so many things that I still have to see and do and on top of all that I have to work hard to get all of my school work done. I can do it. I know I can.

Love,
Susanna

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What am I listening too?
So normally I don't write things about the songs that I post, I just kind of post them. But I absolutely had to say something about this song. I am OBSESSED. And not only with this song but all of his. I am telling you, you will not regret listening to his music. Check him out on soundcloud.com/declandonovanmusic 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Favorites!

     First off, holy goodness, this blog currently has over 16,800 views. Can we just take a moment so have a mini freak out and dance party because never in a million years did I ever think that this many people would ever read what I have to say. So thank you. And now, in typical Susanna fashion, I shall start this post. So......
     I know, its been a while. Well, actually, it hasn't been that long. A week maybe? Slowly getting back into the swing of things over here in Kensington. The weather is getting a lot nicer which makes it especially hard to concentrate on school work, but don't worry, I'm getting it all done. I wasn't really sure what to write today, so I figured I would throw it back to one of my favorite types of posts: my favorites. I don't know why I like these so much. I guess I enjoy them because it gives me a chance to talk about things that I like that I wouldn't normally talk about? I'm not really sure, all I know is, I enjoy writing them. So, let's begin!

ONE// Macaroons. I have always loved macaroons. I just think they are absolutely adorable and taste delicious. Since I have been in London, I have constantly been on a hunt for macaroons. Thankfully I am here to announce that I have found some delicious ones. Although they have quite a high price tag (at about £3.50 each) they are absolutely delicious when you are looking for a decadent treat. They are from the William Curley counter in Harrods and my goodness they are delicious. 

yum.

TWO// Strolling the park. As I mentioned earlier, the weather is getting really nice here in London. Some days it can even be upwards of 60 degrees which, for a girl that goes to school in the snowy tundra of Vermont, 60 degrees is basically a heat wave. On days when its sunny and warm, Hyde Park is my go to place. It is honestly one of my favorite places in all of London. Each time I go I am able to see something new that I haven't seen before. I love grabbing a coffee before I go and just walking around and looking at all the flowers and (running away from) birds.
so pretty.
THREE// @knightlifevt Instagram! Guess what?! SMC has a new student run instagram account and let me tell ya, its pretty great! Follow the lives of a new SMC student each week to see what goes on. Follow it! I promise you won't be disappointed!
follow follow follow
OUR// Shaytards vlogs. I might be a little slow on this one, but for some reason I have been really been into watching the daily vlogs of the Butler family. They are a family that vlogs every day and they have been doing it for 6 years. They are all just so entertaining and the family is absolutely adorable. But watch out. It will totally suck you in and you will find yourself watching vlogs for like 3 hours.


FIVE// Starbucks. I feel terrible for saying this because I am a die-hard Dunkin Donuts fan forever and always but there are no Dunkin Donuts here in London and when you have a coffee craving you just have to fulfill it. While I will always and forever love Dunks, Starbucks has been my go to while I've been here. What is also great is that we have a Starbucks in our main academic building and all of their drinks are at discounted prices. While I don't get it everyday, it is a nice treat every once in a while. The three things that I typically get are an iced chai latte, a caramel machiato, or just a plain iced passion tea. 

That's all for now. OH but guess what?! My parents are coming to London this weekend!! EEEK! Can you believe it?! So I am sure next week I will have tons of talk about when the parentals come to town!!

Love,
Susanna

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Spring Break: Dublin

     I feel like I always start my posts off with "its been a while...I'm sorry." But its so true! I feel like it has been FOREVER (mainly because it has). This past week was Spring Break. Crazy I know. Even crazier that it is basically the exact midpoint of my semester here in London and that totally freaks me out. About a month or so ago, my friends and I decided that we wanted to spend some of our spring break travelling. We all decided that one of the places that we most definitely wanted to go was to Dublin, Ireland. We booked our flights and a hostel and we were all set. Now we just had to wait for the time to come, and believe me, it crept up really fast. We left Atlantic House on Monday at about 2am to head for the airport.
     Our flight was scheduled to leave at 7:45, if I can remember correctly, which was early but also great because that meant we got into Dublin a little before 9am. After going through passport check, we hopped in a cab that brought us to our hostel. Our hostel was amazing. We were staying right next to the Jameson Distillery, so it was a pretty great location. In the hostel, we got a 6 person private room with a private bathroom, which was perfect for us. The hostel had a movie theater, restaurant, cafe and bar inside. Because we couldn't get into our room until 2, we decided to do some exploring. We decided that we were going to head to the Guinness Storehouse. Guinness was located on the other side of the river and without having the ability to use Google Maps, we got lost a few times, but no worries, we found it! It was an awesome experience to see how the beer is made and to be able to learn how to pour the perfect pint. Believe me, it is a lot harder than it sounds! After we all learned how to pour the perfect pint, we headed up to the Gravity Bar to enjoy our brew. The views from the bar were incredible. You could see all of Dublin from here. After we were done drinking, we decided that we would head back to the hostel and then grab some lunch. We did a little more exploring that day and called it an early night because we were all exhausted.
The view of Dublin from the Gravity Bar!
My perfect pint!
     Tuesday rolled around and it was more of our relaxed day. In the morning we went and grabbed coffee from Starbucks then wandered around O'Connell Street. It is one of the main streets in Dublin and it is really pretty. We ate lunch at Eddie Rocket's, which is basically Johnny Rocket's back in the states. After we had a very filling meal we headed back to our hostel to tour the Jameson Distillery. It was a guided tour that filled us in on all of the history of Jameson. At the end we had a whisky tasting where we tasted three different whiskys. When it was over we got a complimentary drink to enjoy in the bar and a certificate that said we were official whisky tasters! We then headed back to the hostel to relax and eat dinner. That night we decided that we were going to get dressed and go our for a few drinks because it was my 21st birthday the next day. So that's exactly what we did and it was a lot of fun!
So. Good.
Whisky tasting at Jameson!

Strolling by the river on a beautiful day!

     Finally, Wednesday. Also, IT WAS MY BIRTHDAY!!! I am officially 21! This day we were planning on doing a lot of touristy activities. We decided we were going to head to tour the prison, tour Dublin castle and go and explore Trinity. Thankfully, my birthday just so happened to fall on the perfect day because in Dublin, the first Wednesday of every month, these attractions are free to the general public. SCORE. So we got to do all of these things for absolutely free. They were all amazing and beautiful and I loved every second. After our last stop at Trinity, we decided that we were hungry and tired so we headed back to the hostel to get ready to go out for a birthday dinner. We weren't quite sure where we wanted to go exactly, so we decided that we would just head across the river towards Temple Bar. Originally we walked into an Italian place and there was a little bit of a wait, so we wandered back outside. Thankfully, we spotted a place called Mexico to Rome (which was perfect because half of us wanted Mexican food and the other half wanted Italian). We went in and got seated. It was seriously the day of luck. If you were seated before 7pm (which we were) you can get the early bird dinner, which gave you an appetizer and a main course for only 14 euros. INSANE. So obviously all of us got that. I ordered chips and guacamole as my appetizer and a steak as my main course along with a margarita. It was delicious and I still think about that steak all the time! And to top it off, I have some pretty amazing friends who decided that they would buy my dinner for me. I was so happy that I was able to spend a wonderful day with them all. After dinner we basically had to be rolled out of the restaurant because we were so full. But somehow we found ourselves at a gelato store right near our hostel to top off the night. We decided that we were all tired and called it a pretty early night.
Prison
Dublin Castle!
The inside of the castle. It was beautiful! 
Trinity was absolutely stunning. Thank goodness for blue skies!
and of course I found the rugby pitch!!
Temple Bar at night is absolutely stunning! 

Touring the prison!
     The next day we woke up at 3:30 to get our taxi at 4 to take us to the airport. We got through visa check and security very fast and just ended up sleeping until we boarded our flight. We got back into London around 9 and headed back to Atlantic house to basically sleep for the rest of the day.
     So now its Tuesday and Spring Break is officially over. It was such an amazing time and I was so happy that I got to spend it in an amazing place with amazing people.

The sunset on our final night. 

Love,
Susanna

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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

First Time

     There I was, sitting on a train, all by myself, headphones in with Jay-Z blaring. This is something I have never done before. I've honestly never traveled by myself for such a long distance. Sure, I drive up to school occasionally, but that route is ingrained in my mind. I can do it backwards and forwards, in the light and dark, in the snow and rain. But this trek was different. This time it was all me. No friends to keep me company and no parents to tell me which way to go. To say the least, I was a little terrified. To be completely honest, I am the girl at school that can't walk alone to her building at night because it scares me. I can't sit in the dining hall alone because I have a huge fear of being left or forgotten or being alone. My friends back at SMC know this all too well and often joke with me about it. Before I left, many of them said "Suze, I hope you gain some independence while you're abroad." Have I accomplished that? I think so. I am able to go on walks by myself or go get something to eat alone if I want too. 
     A few months ago I wouldn't have been able to do that. Sure, I love having my family or friends with me because what's the point of an adventure if you don't have someone there to enjoy it with. But there is something completely thrilling about being on your own. You can move at your own pace and take in way more things than if you were confined to a certain group of people. 
     Was I scared? Scared isn't even the word I would use. I would use a word like terrified. I was scared I was going to get lost. Get on the wrong train. Lose my ticket. None of those happened, thankfully, but I was still scared. But now I have confidence in myself to make smart choices and I know that my instinct and conscious are strong and correct. I am 20 (21 in 8 days!) and I finally figured it was time to gain a little independence. 
     That is why I am thankful to be abroad. It teaches you that sometimes you have to do things on your own and that there won't always be someone there to hold you hand every step of the way. Sure, traveling is nothing without mishaps, but it is how you take the things that go wrong and move forward. That is all that matters.
But don't worry, I wasn't on my own the whole time! It was all to be reunited with some of my best friends in the entire world. Crazy how summer camp has the ability to bring all these people together!
(l to r: Max, Mary, Sam, Dave, Katie, Nicole, Me, Pip, Morven)


Love,
Susanna

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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Things I Love

     So Valentine's Day was yesterday. Yep. Yep it was. What did I do for Valentine's Day? The same thing that I am doing right now....sitting in bed in a cat onesie. I used to do favorites posts a little while ago, but I kind of fell off the band wagon for a while. But now I am back on and all is right with the world! So this is just a random list of things that I have been loving lately!

ONE// London. OBVI. I mean come on, how can you not love London? It has been a little over a month since I got here and I fall more in love with it every day. Can London be my Valentine? Because I would love that. It is honestly just such a magical city, and I haven't even seen all of it yet!
Kensington Palace at sunset.

TWO// Primark. Yeah, that cat onesie that I have? I bought it there. FOR £5. Like seriously. Primark is a magical place and I have to limit my visits because I cannot walk out of Primark without buying anything. 
So we bought cat onesies... and they are fantastic.

THREE// Music. I have been listening to A TON of music lately. And it has basically consisted of every type of music that you can think of. I have a few favorites from the past few weeks, but I will tell you my top 3! First (yeah I know, I am pretty slow on this one...)  Blank Space/ Style mashup by Louisa Wendorff is absolutely amazing. Now I have to admit, I am not the biggest Taylor Swift fan in the world but I am OBSESSED with this song. The next song is Never Be Alone by Shawn Mendes. I don't really know how I stumbled along this song but I have recently been obsessed with it. I think it came up on my spotify for something like that (y'all know how much I love spotify!). It is such a cute song and his voice is amazing! And finally, Boom Clap by Lennon & Maisy. Holy goodness, this song is everything. Their voices are prefect and I think I may like this version better than the original. 






FOUR//  CAMP. Yeah, I know. I talk about camp far too much but IT IS SO SOON AND I AM SO EXCITED. (that is all.)

FIVE// Starbucks Vanilla Spice Latte. Because there is no Dunkin' Donuts here in London, I am left to drink Starbucks when I need my caffeine fix. One day we went to the museum and Starbucks was handing out free sample of this drink and I fell in love. It has been my go to if I am in need of a hot drink!

SIX// This is kind of a double favorite, but it is my two favorite apps currently. Now, it my seem a little boring and kind of dumb but trust me on this, I use both of these almost every single day. They are Google Maps and CityMapper. Both of these apps have basically saved my life while I have been abroad. If I didn't have them, I probably would be very lost right now. 
As you can see, my love for makeup started at an early age. 

SEVEN// I have a deep love for makeup. I collect it and have far too much of it. For Christmas I got a gift card for Sephora and I knew just what I was going to spend it on. I had been in the market for a new foundation and read tons of reviews on a few. I finally settled for the Tarte Amazonian Clay Airbrush Powder Foundation. Now this foundation is a little pricey (about $34) but it is truly amazing. It gives you flawless coverage, doesn't feel cakey and looks like you aren't wearing any makeup. Plus it is great for both oily skin and dry skin. It also takes like less than 5 minutes to apply, so it really cuts down on the time I have to spend getting ready in the morning!
(via)



That's all for now loves! Thanks for reading and another post will be up shortly!

Love,
Susanna

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(I'm not putting a what am I listening to in this post because I already put my top songs earlier in the post!)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Weekend in Edinburgh

     One of the lovely things about being abroad in London is that we are fairly close to many other countries. This makes traveling relatively cheap and possible to do for a quick weekend. So my friends and I did just that. There are 6 of us in total and we pretty much do everything together. This weekend was a little different. My roommate Grace and friend Kerryn already had a pre-booked trip to Paris for the weekend, so we knew that they would be away. So, instead of staying in London for the weekend, Meggie, Caitlin, Ashley and I decided to take advantage of the cheap travel and book a trip to Edinburgh, Scotland. Scotland was on our list of places that we really wanted to go, so we jumped on the chance.
     We booked our flight and accommodations a few weeks ago and were surprised to find the weekend creep up so soon. Other than those two things, we really had nothing else planned.
     Our flight was scheduled to leave at noon on Friday. We woke up at 6:15 to be able to make it out of the dorm by 6:45 to walk to the tube station on Gloucester Rd. We took the Piccadilly line to St. Pancras and then from there got on the train to take up to Luton Airport. Tip #1: when you take the train to Luton airport, you need to buy a ticket because your Oyster card is not your ticket. Also, tickets are exponentially cheaper when you buy them before hand. We arrived at the station to Luton Airport and from there we had to get on a bus. I think it was the lack of sleep but getting onto the shuttle bus proved a bit of a challenge for us.
Scotland!
(l to r: Caitlin, Ashley, Me, Meggie)
     Finally we arrived at the airport and got some caffeine and food into our system. Probably one of the funniest things was when we were sitting waiting for Caitlin to come back with her breakfast of Burger King chicken nuggets and fries. As Meggie, Ashley and I were waiting, a strange (and obviously intoxicated) man walked up behind Meggie and complimented her on her "costume". It was totally creepy and strange and absolutely hilarious all at the same time. Needless to say, as soon as Caitlin got back we picked up our stuff and moved to a different location.
     It was then time to go through security. No one was there which was lovely, so we thought that we would get through quickly. Wrong. Ashley got stopped for a random search where they had to go through ALL of her belongings. It was both very funny and annoying all at the same time. We got through and headed to our gate (sort of). Tip #2: smaller airports don't tell you what gate you are flying out of until a designated time. So we had to sit and wait at a small cafe for about an hour and a half waiting for them to tell us what gate we were at. But, there was a Krispy Kreme right near us so I guess that made up for it. When they told us what gate we were at you practically had to run to it because they only give you about 10 minutes.
Hello Scotland!
A warm greeting by Titus!
     We got to the gate perfectly fine and boarded the plane. The flight was super easy and quick (less than an hour) and we were in Scotland! We walked out of the airport and got a taxi to our Bed & Breakfast. Tip #3: airbnb.com is lovely. We found this amazing B&B for £35 for 2 nights a person. It was basically a steal. It was this old couple's home (kind of odd, but hear me out). It was this massive home with amazing bedrooms and a lovely bathroom. the owner, Marianne, was the nicest lady I have ever met. She welcomed us in and offered us tea and coffee and all the maps that we could possibly need. Her dog, Titus, was such a sweetheart and reminded me so much of my mom's friend's dog, Farley. The bedrooms were very well decorated and very comfortable. 
The lovely house. You can see Titus, the dog, in the doorway.
(Photo creds to Caitlin)

Caitlin and Meggie's room in the B&B.
(photo creds to Caitlin)
     After settling in for a little bit we went to meet up with my friend Max. One of the things I love about being a camp counselor is that you get to meet people from all over the world. Max was currently studying in Edinburgh at a university only a short walk away from where we were staying. After that we caught a bus into the city center so Max could show us around. We had some lunch, walked the streets and then climbed what seemed like a million stairs to the top of the castle. It was a beautiful view and we caught it right at sunset so it was even better. After that we headed to an amazing pub for a drink and to catch up a bit. We then headed back to the B&B with plans of catching back up with him later. But we never made it back out. We were all so tired that we decided not to go back out. Instead, we found the nearest Pizza Hut and made a trip there for dinner. After that we headed back to the B&B and basically passed out asleep.

Top of the castle at sunset.

Hey look! I found Max!

     The next day we all woke up. On the door to the bathroom Marianne had posted a lovely note saying how there were scones and tea waiting for us downstairs. It was so delicious. Like, absolutely amazing. After a lovely breakfast we got dressed and started to make our way back into town to meet up with Max again and also my friends Morven, Nicole and Rachael. It was so nice to see them again as I haven't seen them since August. We walked around a little bit then Ashley, Meggie and Caitlin went to explore. As they explored, I had lunch with Max, Morven, Nicole and Rachael at this small Italian Restaurant. I had a delicious panini. After lunch, we wandered a bit more and eventually found ourselves at the castle again along with an art museum. We met back up with my friends for drinks at a pub before we headed to a quick dinner.

I was so beyond happy to get to see my friends from camp again!
(l to r: Morven, Max, Nicole, Me, Rachael)
Delicious scones and jam with tea. YUM YUM YUM.
     We ended up back at the B&B around 8pm (I believe) and we all just passed out asleep. At around 6:30am a taxi arrived to take us all to the airport. Our flight left at 8:50 and we were back in London by 9:40. We ventured back to Kensington and arrived around noon. When we got back we dropped off our bags and went to grab lunch. After lunch we all headed back to the dorm and I took about a 4 hour nap because I was so tired. Annnnnnnnnnnnd that was my weekend. Crazy, right?
Oh! And I also got to Skype my puppy (and my mom).
Zoey didn't quite understand the concept of Skype. 

Love,
Susanna

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Monday, February 2, 2015

Almost a Month

     Wow its been a while since I have written last. Apologies! But OMG ITS ALMOST BEEN A MONTH CANT YOU BELIEVE IT?! Yeah, no, I can't believe it either. It seems like just yesterday I was at home for the last time, running around frantically to pack all of my last minute items into my suitcases. Where the heck has the time gone?!
     In the past couple of weeks so much has happened that I do not even know where to begin! Because I am completely all over the place currently, I will just share some of my favorite moments through pictures because, well, everyone loves pictures!


This car is from the Science Museum. We went on a Friday (?) I believe and it was pretty awesome. There are a bunch of different exhibits to explore. I think my favorite part of the museum was the part where you could touch everything. You could make a bubble wall, look through magnifying glasses and even set off your own rocket. The great things about the museums are that they are all free (!!!) and they are only a short 15 minute walk from where I live! 

Harrods!
Another day by friends and I decided to go and explore Harrods. Oh my goodness, it is basically heaven if heaven was in the form of a magical department store. Many of the things are super expensive (like a $4000 pair of pants) but they also have many food shops along with a gift shop that are more reasonably priced. Plus, if you go when it starts to get dark out, you can see it all lit up!
Princess Diana Memorial Fountain 
some new friends!
I probably have said it far too many times but I absolutely adore Hyde Park. I think it is on my list of favorite things about London. I go there way too often and every time I go I am still amazed. There is always something to see whether its a landmark you may have missed before, people playing with their adorable puppies or meeting new friends like the ducks in the above picture! I cannot wait for it to get a little warmer outside so that I can explore the park even more!
Colorful houses on Portobello Road. 
Antiques galore!
OLIVES! These reminded me of my Uncle Tad. He LOVES olives!
Another thing that I also love about London are the markets. There are tons of markets all over and each one is different. Last weekend my friends and I ventured to the Portobello Market which is only about one tube stop away. We were not really sure what to expect, but we had a great time. Lining this street are all different vendors, selling everything from fresh produce, to olives, to fish to antiques. It was really cool to see all kinds of different products bringing in all different people to this market. Its one of the places that I will definitely be returning too! 

Friends
Finally, I am super happy that I have found some amazing friends here in London. Although at times we all may be a little odd, they have surely helped me through this experience and it would not be the same without them! 

Well, that's all for now! I will definitely post next week because this weekend I am venturing to Edinburgh for the weekend! I will be sure to take tons of pictures and fill you in on my travels when I get back to London!

Love,
Susanna

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