Thursday, January 22, 2015

Classes in London

     No, I am not just taking a semester off to live the dream in London. I actually have to do work while I am here. This semester I am taking 5 classes, which is one more than I take while at SMC. Richmond University offers a ton of classes and they are all really interesting! Because I am situated on the Kensington campus, I am taking all junior and senior level classes. All the classes offered on this campus are upper level classes (like our 300 and 400 level classes at SMC).
     My schedule is pretty awesome this semester. I have one class on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday and two on Wednesday. If you couldn't already tell, this means no classes on Friday! Also, all of my classes only meet once a week which gives me extra time for getting work done and studying. All of my classes are 3 hour classes, which can kind of be a pain, but they are all super interesting which makes up for it.

     MONDAY// SCRIPT WRITING. I am super excited about this class. Out of all of the classes that I have had so far, I think this may be my favorite. The professor is a playwright for a living and he is super British and awesome. During the semester we are going to look at the differences between scripts for plays and scripts for film. We will also be constructing our own script for either a play or a film. I think its really cool because I will be able to have an awesome piece of work when I am finished and I will also be able to get a little insight on the industry as well.

     TUESDAY// FASHION & MEDIA. This class is pretty cool. The professor seems really sweet and again, he has a British accent. Through this class we will look at how the media portrays fashion and how it is shown and depicted to the general public. This class takes a specific interest in fashion within London. Earlier this week, our professor highlighted all the awesome places in London to see fashion.The one downside to this class is that it meets from 6:30-9:20pm and it is my only class of the day. But I suppose that leaves the whole day free for exploring or catching up on work!

     WEDNESDAY// RELIGION, MAGIC & WITCHCRAFT and SOCIOLOGY OF CULTURE AND SUBCULTURE. (aka this day is sociology day) In the morning I have religion, magic and witchcraft. I signed up for this class thinking that it would be my upper level religion class, but instead I took an upper level Philosophy at SMC. I was going to drop this class, but I decided to just stay with it and check it out. I am so happy that I did because it seems amazing. Through this class we will look at the sociology behind religion, magic and witchcraft among many other things. Some of the aspects that the professor discussed in class were things like psychics, mediums, voodoo, astrology and drugs. I thought it sounded so cool and the professor is really interesting. Plus I am in class with two of my good friends, Meggie and Ashley, so that always helps!
     Later that night (6:30-9:30) I have sociology of culture and subculture with the same professor as my Fashion and Media Class. The course description for this class is.... "this class will introduce the field of cultural studies by examining various concepts of culture, the positions taken in cultural criticism, the relationship between social and cultural transformation. Emphasis is placed on differences between the US and UK culture and the theory of subcultures." I'm pretty excited for this class but again the only downside is that it is so late at night.

     THURSDAY// PR & SELF- PRESENTATION. I really enjoy this class already. It is my only class on Thursday and it meets from 3:00-5:50. I have always been interested in the public relations industry so this class was right up my ally! My professor has worked in the public relations industry for many years, so he really knows what he is talking about. We have to do a lot of case studies in this class along with an on camera interview (eeek). Even though it seems like it will be challenging, the material is really interesting and I really like the professor.

A few days ago, my friends and I went and got tea. It was pretty so I had to take a picture. 

Love,
Susanna

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Exciting Weekend

     Hey all! So I have currently been in London for two weeks. Crazy how fast time flies by. Last week was the first full week of classes (don't worry, I will have a post later on in the week describing all of my lovely classes). This past weekend was super exciting as we had a ton of trips planned with our program.
     On Friday, I don't have classes and neither do any of my friends. In the morning, I met my friend from home, Jess, in Hyde Park. We walked around a little bit and then found a cute cafe on the opposite side of Hyde Park from where I am located. It was really nice to see a familiar face in London. That afternoon, my friends and I decided that we would explore Oxford Street. We were mainly heading there because we wanted to check out Primark. We had heard so much about it, so we decided, why not? Let me tell you. It was magical. It was like 5 stories high and everything is so cheap (well, fairly cheap). They literally had everything that you could ever imagine in the store. I wish I took a picture to show you because it was amazing. I could have spent hours in the store, but we didn't, thank goodness. We walked around Oxford Street a little more and then we headed home. We basically just hung out that night.
Statue in front of Kensington Palace.
    Saturday we had a scheduled flight on the London Eye. Holy cow, it was amazing. First of all, we took the tube to Westminster. As soon as you walk out of the tube station, Big Ben is right in front of you. It is honestly so stunning. We walked over to the London Eye and waited in line. It wasa long line but it moved fairly quickly. Once we got on, the ride was incredible. The views that you were able to see were just amazing. We then walked back towards Buckingham Palace to look at it again. We headed home on the tube, ordered pizza and just had a lovely night.
Big Ben! 
The view of the London Eye when we were waiting in the massive line to get on.
My best friends here in London. (l to r: Ashley, Meggie, Me, Grace, Kerryn, and Caitlin)
     Sunday was a longer trip. We had to wake up early (at about 8am) to get ready to board a bus to take us to Bath for the day. The ride there was about 2 hours. It wasn't that bad but the bus was scorching hot for the first hour and a half. Once we got there we were given a quick little tour around. Our scheduled time to go into the Roman Baths was at 2pm. So after our tour we had about an hour to eat and hang out until we had to meet back to go in. My friends and I grabbed a quick lunch and then went to see the Baths. They were super cool. We were given these telephone-like things that would talk to us during our time in the baths to give us information. We didn't really use them, instead we just wandered around and took everything in. We also got to try the bath water. Yeah, you read that right. We got a chance to drink the water from the bath. It was horrible. It just did not taste good. But hey, at least I can say that I have done it. After we got out of the baths we had a little time to kill. Thankfully all around are shops. We found ourselves in Primark yet again. Were we mad about it? No. Not at all. I bought a nice bag and I am very happy about it. After our shopping, we headed back onto the bus for our ride home. We got back at around 6:30, just in time for our weekly family dinner at a local Italian place right around the corner from us.
Bath Abbey. 
One of the many Baths! It was beautiful.
     All in all, it was a great weekend. I am not sure what I am doing this weekend, but I know that whatever it is, it will be great!

Love,
Susanna

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Why London?

     So I currently know that trying to figure out study abroad stuff can be a little tricky. At least, I know it was for me. The cool thing about my major is that it was required that I studied abroad, so, I mean, that's pretty awesome. But deciding to go wasn't the hard part, it was figuring out where.
     I have always dreamed of traveling the world. I knew that I wanted to see exotic places and go on a crazy adventure. When I was looking at schools I made it a point to find a college with a good study abroad program. Thank goodness for SMC, because without them, I wouldn't be here.
     About a year ago I started looking at programs (the deadline for spring semester study abroad is in April I believe, but it is best to get going as soon as possible!). I looked at programs all over the world. I looked at places like Sweden, Switzerland, Croatia, Fiji and of course, England, to name a few. Then it was time to find schools in which I would attend while in a certain country. By that time I had narrowed my search down to my top 3: London, Croatia, and a multi-country program that would allow me to go to Hawaii, American Samoa and Fiji. Needless to say, my mother talked me out of the multi-country program saying that it was more of a "vacation" than school. While I have to agree with her on that one, I still think it would have been pretty cool.
     I finally decided on London, a place that I have always wanted to travel to. You would not believe how many schools are actually in London, the possibilities were endless! I ended up deciding on Richmond University through the program AIFS. I chose it because it was situated right where I wanted to be, it offered classes that I found interesting and all in all it just seemed like a fantastic program.
     Through a quite strenuous process, I finally finished all of my paperwork and handed it in. (I wish I had taken my advice to start early.....it would have been so much less stressful if I did.) Then the waiting game began. Come....October?... I think, I finally got my approval that I would be studying in London for this semester. Then even more paperwork began. Between getting paperwork set up, banking done, phone sorted and packing 4 months of clothes into a suitcase, I was finally ready to go.
So happy when I saw this in my Inbox!
     I know it as only been a week, but I can honestly say that all the work was worth it. I am in a place that I am absolutely in love with. For anyone reading this looking to study abroad at some point in time, I highly suggest checking this place out, I promise, you wont be disappointed.

Love,
Susanna

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

A Week!

Ok, so maybe it hasn't been a full week yet, but like, you get the picture. It is crazy for me to think that this is actually a long trip and that I am not packing up in a week and heading back home to SMC. It took me so long to actually feel like this was for real. I finally put up pictures today, which made it all set in pretty fast. But I couldn't be happier with my new home. London is amazing. Absolutely stinkin' amazing. I love so much about this place that I don't think I will be ready to leave when the time comes. Here are some of my favorite things thus far!

ONE// So much character. I live in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea which is just full of beauty. Around every corner you can see cobblestone streets, neighborhood pubs, little kids walking home from school and beautiful buildings. While London is a MASSIVE city, each borough has its own charm and character. While it may seem impossible to understand every nook and cranny, it is nice to just wander and explore. That is what I have been doing a lot of recently and I am constantly amazed with this place. Not to mention I am currently living in the borough where royals come to stay and David Beckham is basically my neighbor (*swoon*).
If you don't think this is beautiful then I don't think we can be friends..... just kidding....but seriously. 
 TWO// the Parks. I currently live 5 minutes from Hyde Park which is STUNNING. I refer to it as my backyard sometimes because that is basically what it is. It is the perfect place to go for dog walking, reading on a bench or jogging. It is nice to live in such a metropolitan area but still have the luxury of greenery. It brings me back to the comfort of Burlington where everything is green as far as the eye can see. There are so many parks in London and I am really excited to get a chance to explore them in the next couple of months.

COME ON. Look at this swan. ITS BEAUTIFUL.

THREE// The accents. Ugh I am such a sucker for a British accent. I think they are magnificent. It is amazing to be able to hear them on a 24/7 basis. I just love it. They could honestly be reading their grocery list and I would be completely captivated. I joke all the time with my mom that I am going to come home with a British accent. To be completely honest, I don't think I would mind too much!

FOUR// The People. I love the people here. Period. When I give tours I always say that the thing that I love most about SMC is that the people are actually the best people in the entire world. Well, I can say that the people here come in at a very close second (no place will ever top SMC). But seriously. Everyone is so warm and welcoming and just wants you to be as happy as possible. Everyone is so eager to help you out if need be.
People are funny here. (seen outside a hair salon on High Street Kensington)


FIVE// The fact that I am here for a whole semester. I think my favorite thing is the fact that I get to stay here for a while longer. While I miss the states, my family, SMC, rugby, my puppy and target more than I can express, I love it here. I am excited to get a chance to explore new places, meet up with people I haven't seen in a while and to just get a chance to live in this amazing city.
Catching up with friends makes my heart happy! 
Love,
Susanna

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Friday, January 9, 2015

London: The First Week

    *Sorry! This post is going to be a long one! Don't worry though, there will be pictures!*

 It is weird to say that I am not writing this post from SMC, but rather my new dorm room in London, England. It is unbelievable to me that I am actually here right now. The first week is almost coming to a close, and let me tell you, it has been one crazy ride! They have literally packed so much into this first week that it is insane!
    On Monday I arrived at the airport. My flight was scheduled to leave at 8pm. I think I got there around 3(ish) because I anticipated that the lines through security would have been awful. Surprisingly, it moved fairly quickly. I said goodbye to my mom and dad and headed towards security and then to my gate. Then the waiting game began. It was really nice because it seemed as though everyone at my gate was a student. There were some from my program but also other programs heading to London. It was nice to sit with a bunch of girls from my program and get to know them. They are all so sweet and nice and it really made the time go by faster. Sadly, our flight got delayed even longer. We had to wait until 8:30. We finally boarded the flight and we were off! It was the biggest plane I think I have ever seen. It had 2 floors and was packed to the gills. The flight was long and sadly I did not sleep at all. I don't know why either, normally I can fall asleep anytime, anywhere. I guess not on international flights though!
     Five and a half hours later we landed in London. We went through customs, collected our luggage and made our way to the place where our program picked us up. From their we boarded a bus that took us to the main building of our campus, the Atlantic House. I am currently studying at Richmond, the American International University in London. We have 2 campuses, Richmond campus and Kensington Campus. I am currently located on the Kensington campus. It is truly beautiful. Its full name is "The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea" and it is just that. The people that live around us are extremely wealthy (David Beckham lives here!).

My new neighborhood! It is literally so beautiful that pictures do not do it any justice. 

I looooovvvvveeee ittttt!!
My side of the room! Please note the sink....how weird. 

    After we arrived at the Atlantic House, I picked up my luggage and orientation packet and headed towards my room. I live on the second floor facing the road. I live in a double and my roommate is really nice. I unpacked a bit and then we were taken on a guided walking tour of Kensington. It was beautiful to see our neighborhood and all that it has to offer. It was also nice to finally figure out directions to things! Later that night we went to Imperial Student Union for drinks. It was nice to just relax and get a chance to talk to people (plus the drinks there are much cheaper than pubs around!). I finally got about home around 11pm and passed out asleep. I was so tired from not sleeping in more than 24 hours!
    The next day we had to wake up for breakfast fairly early and at around noon we went on a bus tour of London. It was really nice to be able to see all the sights like Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the London Eye! After that 3 hours tour we had an opening meeting and then we went to see WICKED! Yes, you read that right! My program gave us all free tickets to see Wicked and it was amazing! We all headed back after the show and again, passed out asleep.
Big Ben and the London Eye

Tower Bridge

West Minster Abbey. Please note our guide in the front. Her name was Susanna, so naturally she was awesome. 

    Yesterday we had nothing to do until 11:30 (thank goodness, we were all exhausted!). We went to an awesome travel seminar to give us helpful hints about how to travel places while you are here. After that, a few friends and I went up to High Street Kensington (just a short walk away) to do a little shopping and to just wander around. We then headed back towards campus for an activities fair. Then at night we attended a boat party on the River Thames. It was a little cold, but the view from the boat was beautiful!
I mean seriously. this view is gorgeous. 

    Today has been pretty relaxing so far. I had nothing to do until 1:30 and that meeting only lasted abut 15 minutes. After the meeting my friend and I decided that we wanted to explore Hyde Park. We were mainly going there to dog watch and find the Peter Pan statue. We succeeded at both!
Peter Pan Statue in Hyde Park!

Kerryn and I strolling the park looking at puppies. 

    Here I am now, sitting in my room, typing this, updating my Instagram all while drinking a Diet Coke. I know I was nervous to come here, and don't get me wrong, I am still nervous, but so far this has been an amazing experience. I am so happy with the people that I have met and the places that I have been able to see. I cannot wait to see what this semester has in store for me!

Love,
Susanna

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Friday, January 2, 2015

Terrified.

     I cannot believe that this time on Monday I will be sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight that will take me on one crazy adventure. It seems like just yesterday when I had officially gotten accepted. I sit in my room now, suitcases all over my floor, itinerary printed out and nervous/excited thoughts rushing through my mind.
     Basically, I'm terrified. I've never been out of the country before. I have never flown on an airplane without my parents before. I have never been this far away from my home for this long of a time. I have never really felt completely lost (what I am expecting I will feel like when I get to London). Its terrifying. But I am so excited. There is a quote out in the world somewhere that says "if your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough." Through this whole experience I have been keeping that little quote in the back of my head. Traveling to Europe has been a dream of mine for so long and I am finally getting the chance to actually do that.
     I have dreamed of seeing London for as long as I can remember and it almost seems unreal that I will be getting the chance to not only see it, but live it for 110 days.
     Sure, packing for this duration of time is freaking me out. Traveling by myself is scaring the daylights out of me. Meeting new people is always incredibly awkward. But then there are things that I know are going to be amazing. I am going to meet new people. See some friends that I haven't seen in a while (and I am incredibly excited to see them). I'm going to get to travel to different countries. I'm going to see amazing sights. And I am going to have an amazing time.
     Next time I write I will be in London!

Love,
Susanna

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Friday, December 19, 2014

What's Next?

     This is just going to be a quick little post for your Friday afternoon viewing pleasure.

It is almost surreal that I am currently sitting in my bed at home. It seems like this semester has literally flown by. And I know that I say that at the end of every semester, but I actually mean it this time. Maybe its because I know that I will be hopping on a plane in 17 days to start a totally new adventure, but who knows. This semester has been my favorite by far. Yes, my classes were challenging. Yes, it had its points when I literally just wanted to give up and sleep forever. But it also had its moments of being amazing. I was given the opportunity to live with my best friends in an amazing suite. I was able to take classes that challenged me, but also kept me engaged and taught me that I was capable of any thing. I was given many opportunities in my professional life, for which I am utterly grateful. This semester had just been amazing. I am going to miss SMC so much when I am in London. I am going to miss everything about it. From the chicken patties on Friday nights, to the squirrels running around to the church bells going off at totally random times (but loving every minute of it). I am just going to miss SMC. I never thought that I would say that I miss school, but I will, and I do. Thanks SMC for being amazing. Can't wait to see ya again in the fall.

Love,
Susanna

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PS- I know that you guys know how much I love summer camp. Here is an awesome new website that is aimed to bring camp people together. Whether you have been to camp yourself, know someone that goes to camp, or even if you just think that camp sounds pretty interesting, I highly encourage you check it out! Its A Camp Thing (HERE)

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