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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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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