Tuesday, April 28, 2015

An Open Letter...

     An open letter to anyone and everyone that was able to take this journey from a thought to a reality. 

     Dear you,
Thank you. I guess starting a letter fairly bluntly would make sense seeing as you probably weren't expecting a letter in the first place. So, rather instead of stringing you along on a ramble for a little while then dropping the ball part way through I figured I would just start off plain and simple. But again, thank you. I guess I should be able to say thank you in 1000 different languages now because you know, study abroad and stuff, but knowing my track record with languages that probably isn't the best idea. Therefore, I will leave it up to professionals, native speakers and Google translate.
    Thank you for allowing my dreams, hopes and wishes to become a reality. Studying abroad was something that I was thinking about for years but I was always unsure if I would be able to accomplish it. But without your support and desire to see my dreams come into fruition I would not be sitting in west London a 5 minute walk from one of the most famous parks in the world and with such easy access to a quick plane ride that would whisk me away to other countries for a new adventure.
     Thanks for believing in me. Thank you for believing that I had the strength to live in a world that is so often crippled by fear. Thanks for believing that I could survive on my own-in a new place, with new people, with new things to experience. Thank you for allowing me to see how people other than me go about their day to day business. Thanks for believing that I had the power to live for 4 months out of 2 suitcases and a limited idea of what I was actually getting myself into.
    Thank you for believing that I could succeed in the classroom while the world outside the lecture hall danced around me. Thank you for having confidence that my head, although sometimes questionable, is screwed on tightly and that I have the ability to distinguish right from wrong.
          Thank you for your emails, tweets, Facebook posts and comments, they all mean more to me than you will ever imagine. Knowing that even though you are across the world, your family and friends will always be there is more comforting than a fuzzy blanket and cup of tea could ever be.
     Thank you for allowing me to go on this journey, for adventure is the biggest gift anyone can ever give. Thank you for forgiving mistakes that I have probably made along the way, as you realize making mistakes is part of life. Everyone makes mistakes, and its ok. Thank you for believing that I could stick it out. At times, home was the only place that I wanted to be. I needed the support of consistency and comfort, or at least I thought I did. So thank you for teaching me that wanting and needing are two different things. I wanted home, but did not need it as a crutch to prop me up in hard times.
    So, in the simplest form, thank you. Thank you for giving me the world.
Thank you for the opportunity of a lifetime. 

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Friday, April 24, 2015

Decision Time!

     It seems so crazy that once I finish my last exam on Tuesday, I will pretty much officially be a senior in college. It seems like just yesterday I was going through acceptance letters to try to figure out which college I was going to spend the next 4 years of my life at. For me, deciding to go to St. Mike's has and will be, one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life. For incoming first years, I know the struggle that you may be facing right now. It is a big decision that often times leads to a lot of stress. Especially since the May 1st deposit deadline is coming up so quickly, now is crunch time. A lot of things can go into your decision about attending a college. Is it a residential campus? Are there sports? Is the food good? What are the dorms like? These are all incredibly important details that shouldn't be overlooked, but there are somethings that really shouldn't weigh into your decision. So I am here to tell you a few things that you probably shouldn't base your college decisions on.

ONE// No one has heard of the school. Sure, some schools are more well known than others. SMC is a small school in Colchester, VT. More often than not when I mention it to people they have never heard of it. This also goes with the reputation of a school. Everyone always dreams of attending an Ivy, but choosing a school just because of its prestigious reputation doesn't necessarily mean its the right school for you. Look beyond the name to find if it is really the right fit for you. Are classes organized like you like? Does it have things on campus for you to get involved in?

TWO// All of your friends are going to a different school.  I have to admit that this is probably one that I relate to the most. For those of you that don't know, I am from southern Connecticut, so northern Vermont is a little bit of a drive for me. All of my friends from high school, and I mean basically all of them, go to school in either Connecticut, Massachusetts or New York. I was the only one that was really looking at schools far from home. It sounds really intimidating to go to school without having your friends right by your side (especially people that you have been friends with since you were 5), but that is the whole point of college. I often times say that college was the best thing that ever happened to me. Without college I wouldn't have made the friends that I have made, made decisions that I did or have had the opportunities that I have been blessed to have. So if you are all alone, don't be afraid. It will be one of the best things that has ever happened to you!

THREE// You're in a relationship and distance isn't your friend. I didn't have this problem, but I did have friends that had a hard time with this. Its up to you and your significant other as to how you are going to maintain a healthy relationship, but this is a decision that you ultimately have to make for yourself. Focus on your future and in today's society going to the correct college for you can help to facilitate that future.

FOUR// It costs too much. NEWSFLASH- college in the United States is expensive. Period. It is going to be expensive. Take into account financial aid and scholarships. You won't be able to calculate how much colleges actually cost until you take into account financial aid and scholarship prices. Also, if you are really set on a school and your scholarship or financial aid package still won't allow you to attend, talk to an admissions counselor and explain your situation. More often than not, they are more than willing to help!

Ultimately, pick the school that you feel fits you the best. I know that I got that feeling the first time that I stepped onto campus. It was a feeling that was like "wow, I belong here". Follow your gut and trust your heart. Do what is best for you. You will make the right decision.
Good luck!

If i didn't choose SMC, I most likely would not have met some of my absolute best friends. 


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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Nearing the End

     I would say I am doing pretty well for myself. 2 posts in one week? Its like a whole new Suze! 
P.S. waddaayaaa think of the new updated features? Pretty nice navigation bar, eh? Anyway, my time in London is quickly coming to a close. I cannot believe that tomorrow marks the one week countdown until I am on a big metal thing that will bring me all the way across the world. It is absolutely insane how fast the time has flown by. This city is absolutely magical and has completely stolen my heart. While I love home more than anything, I will be really sad to leave a week from tomorrow. Study abroad has been one of the best experiences of my life, and it is something that I will forever be an advocate for. I think that anyone and everyone should experience studying abroad or at least visiting another country. There is something about getting immersed in a completely different way of life that just makes you appreciate your own a little more. If you have been following my blog for the duration of the semester (if not, welcome!) you will have already heard about all of the amazing things that I have been able to experience and the people that I have been able to meet. Therefore, I felt no need to go on and on about the amazing things I have done since you have had the opportunity to read all about them! Instead, I thought I would tell you a few of the things that I have learned while wandering aimlessly here in London for the past 4 months. Hopefully these will help any person looking to study abroad anywhere in this massive, crazy world! (I wrote a post a few weeks ago about what to expect in London, check it out HERE)

ONE// Something will go wrong, just accept it. In life, things are bound to go wrong at some point. I am a massive planner and I like to have set plans and ideas. One of the things that stresses me out the most is things going wrong. The thing with life is that you just have to roll with the punches. If things go wrong, be prepared. Always have a map, extra money and emergency phone numbers. That way, if something does go wrong, you can fix it. Don't sweat the small stuff.

TWO// You don't always have to have a plan. To go along with number one, it is totally ok to not have a plan. One of my favorite things to do in London is to hop on the tube and go from there. Get off when you feel like it and just wander. Wandering can lead you to some pretty amazing places.

THREE// Don't blow all your money in the first couple of weeks. Trust me, it is so tempting, especially with Primark right around the corner. You'll get to wherever you may be calling home for the next 4 months and be so excited because you have a huge wad of cash just burning a hole in your pocket. I am notorious for spending money, but self control is key here. Always ask yourself, "do I really need this?" or "can I purchase this back home?". Spend your money wisely. It is much better to spend your money on experiences rather than things. You can always have a lot of things, but if you spend your money on things you won't have nearly as many experiences.

 FOUR// You'll have good days and bad days. Study abroad and living in a foreign country are often over glamorized in the media. Yes, studying abroad will be an adventure of a lifetime and amazing in so many different ways, but there will also be some pretty crummy days tucked in. Living and studying abroad is a lot of work and sometimes that can get the best of you for a little bit. When those days come, don't get down, the next amazing day will come when the sun rises again in the morning.

FIVE// Make new friends. This should go without explanation, but if you really need one, well, here it is. I get like routines and comfort. I like my friends back home and at school. Making new friends, while at most times terribly uncomfortable, is a necessity. Step out of your comfort zone. Trust me, it will make your time much better.

SIX// Take it all in. Stop every once in a while and just look at the world that surrounds you. I promise you, its a pretty magical place. Take it in. Soak it all up. These are the memories that you will never forget.

little wonders everywhere you look. 

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Monday, April 20, 2015

Harry Potter Studio Tour!

     As always, it has been a while. I always say that...maybe next year I will make it a New Year's Resolution to stop saying that at the beginning of every post. But I really do feel like I need to apologize every time! I'm just busy, ya know?! In order to not let you down too much, I present you with a new blog! (*clap*) Anyway, this weekend was super packed a busy so I thought I'd share the highlight of it....Harry Potter Studio Tour!
     My weekend starts on Friday, as I have no classes. Weeks ago, my friends and I booked tickets to go to Harry Potter Studios, so we knew for a fact that we were going to go that afternoon. During the day my roommate, Grace, and I went to the British Museum. I had never been and I figured "why not?!". As I have mentioned before, all of the museums here are free which is amazing. We weren't really sure what to expect when we got there. I didn't really know much about it before going to be completely honest. It was packed. That is probably what you get when you decide to go to the museum at around 1pm on a Friday during a typical English spring break. I was not completely wowed by it. Some of the things were really interesting, like the  architecture, mummies, the Rosetta stone and all of the Greek artifacts, but other than those things, I was not really blown away. It was nice to see and check off my bucket list, but I don't think I will really need to see it again. It also didn't help that it was really hot in the museum and I was sweating to death (not literally but you get what I mean).
This is the main part of the museum and I have to say, it is pretty freaking amazing. 
     After we were done with the museum, Grace and I went to get lunch and then head to the train station to meet Kerryn, Ashley and Meggie to head to Harry Potter Studio.
     **pro tip: when looking to get train tickets to get to the Harry Potter Studio tour, it is possible to get a group rate on London Midland return tickets. A normal ticket is about 11GBP. With the group rate it was only 7!**
     The train ride to the station nearest the studio was only about 30 minutes from where we left, so it was really quick and painless. Once off the train, there is a shuttle bus that takes you right to the studio. We got there and picked up our tickets and were like kids in a candy store. Now, I have to be honest, I am not the biggest Harry Potter fan. I have never read the books but I have seen most of the movies and love them. Our tour didn't start until 6:30 and we got there pretty early. We went into the gift shop and looked around and then just sat and waited until it was time for our tour.
    Once it was 6:30 we all lined up and entered into this large room with TV screens around. They showed us a quick video and went over the rules, then we entered into a theater to watch a quick movie about the studio. It was then time to explore! But first, a huge door had to open. It was Ashley's birthday on Sunday and she was lucky enough to get to open the door! CRAZY! The massive door opened into the Great Hall, and from there it just got more and more amazing. I figure pictures can tell the story much better than I can, so enjoy!

Outside of the studio before we went in.

The lobby of the studio.

Ashley (2nd from the left) about to open the door!

The Great Hall!

The Chamber of Secrets

The Hogwarts Express was a new part of the tour for 2015!

The Knight Bus. (I think we need one of these at SMC!)

Privet Drive!

Kerryn and I casually driving a car.

Meggie and Ashley exploring!

Probably the most magical part of the entire tour.

This was the last thing you see before you leave the tour. 
     All in all, the Harry Potter Studio Tour is one of my favorite things that I have done while being in London. Even if you are not a massive Harry Potter fan, you will find this enjoyable. Yes, it was fairly expensive, but trust me, it was 100% worth it!


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Monday, April 13, 2015

What to Expect

     Hellllllooooooo again. Its been a while (as per usual). The past couple of weeks have been absolutely insane. I've had a ton of projects, papers and presentations to get done seeing as the semester is quickly coming to an end. Its crazy to think that in 17 days I will be on a flight back home. Study abroad has been one of the most amazing things that I have ever experienced and its something that I highly encourage anyone to take advantage of.
     Before coming to London, I was not really sure what to expect. I looked at blogs, asked friends and scoured the internet to find anything that would tell me what it was like to live in a completely different country for 4 months. Sure, I found some things, but I guess its one of those things that you just have to live and experience to really know what it is like. But (being the lovely person that I am) I decided to share some of my top things that you should know before studying abroad, especially in London!

ONE// Its expensive. Trust me on this one. London is pricey. Currently the exchange rate I believe is $1.60 is equal to 1GBP. That's insane. Normally before I buy something, I will double whatever the price in pounds is. That lets me know about how many US dollars I am spending on a particular item.

TWO// Figure out your banking. This goes along with number one and London being expensive. It can be even more expensive if you are taking out money from an ATM and get whacked with a massive withdraw fee. I switched to Bank of America before I came here because they have a partnership with Barclays. Just be sure to look at all of your options before hand. Also, read up on the Travelex Chip debit cards and pin cards. They have that extra safety bonus which is really comforting, especially in a different country.

THREE// Look into cell phone plans. I will be the first to admit that I cannot do anything without my cell phone. It is attached to my hip 24/7. I knew that I would not be able to go without my iPhone while I was here in London, so I got a SIM card while I am here. I pay a certain fee each month which gives me texting, data and minutes. It makes me feel a lot more comfortable in a different country when I know that I can text my friends to tell them where I am or to pull up a map on the internet if I am lost.

FOUR// Buy an adaptor. This is important. Here in England they do not have the same plugs as we do, so an adaptor is necessary. Also make sure you get one with a voltage converter, as some of our US electronics might explode (and you definitely don't want that).

FIVE// Exchange money before. It is nice to have some cash when you arrive. Find places to exchange money before you go at either AAA or your own personal bank.

SIX//Start packing early. I am a chronic over packer, ask anyone. (wanna read my problems with packing? check out my post HERE ) I knew that I would not be able to pack in a night so I started packing about 2 weeks before my flight. When I say packing, I mean throwing things into a bag in our spare bedroom. Then, a few days before my actual trip I went through everything that I had loaded into that bag and went through it all. Keep your things to a minimum. I was talking to my mom the other day and told her how I haven't worn half the clothes that I brought. I probably could have done without a lot of things.

SEVEN// Don't forget and umbrella, batteries or sunglasses. Umbrella is self explanatory, it rains, so be prepared. Batteries are the same everywhere and you never know when you will need them. It also gets really freaking sunny sometimes, so sunglasses are a must!
It has been really sunny and warm lately, so I am so happy that I brought sunglasses with me!
(Picture taken at Camden Lock)

Just like the above picture, spring has officially sprung in London!
(Picture taken near Portobello Rd.)

EIGHT// Skip the rain boots. They take up a TON of space and weight a lot. Plus, most people in London barely ever wear them. Instead, just water proof a pair of boots and you should be all set.

NINE// Mentally prepare yourself for crossing the street. I'm not kidding. Its like a real life version of frogger. The first thing that you will notice here is how they drive on the opposite side of the road, so you must always look in a different direction first. Also, pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. Trust me, drivers do not care if you are in the road or not, they will keep going. The good thing is that they have letters painted on most crosswalks that remind you what way to look.
London is so kind to give you a little help when trying to figure out what way to look when crossing the road. 

TEN// Go to Primark. This is honestly like heaven in the form of a 4 story shop. They have clothes for everyone and everything is fairly cheap. If you ever find that you have forgotten something or just feel like you need a little retail therapy, head to Primark.

ELEVEN// Don't leave stuff in your pockets. This goes for any large city really, but there are pickpockets. Many people say "it will never happen to me" but don't worry, it probably will. Be aware of your belongings at all times. Also, NEVER take your passport anywhere unless you absolutely need too.

TWELVE// Don't assume winter here is like winter back home. Yes, it got cold. No, it never snowed, but if it did everything would have been shut down. It does get chilly in the winter months so a jacket and scarf are absolutely necessary but I would not suggest bringing a full snowsuit.

THIRTEEN// Don't spend all your money in the first couple of weeks. I sadly spent waaaayyy too much money the first couple of weeks. Looking back, I spent money on stupid things. I could have saved that money to spend later on to treat myself to something in a shop or a nice meal.

FOURTEEN// Spend your money on experiences, not things. Sure, I do love a good day of going into shops and possibly buying a thing or two. And yes, souvenirs are a must and I feel inclined to buy them all the time, but as i said previously, it is expensive here in London. Spend your money on experiences, like traveling. Traveling is a lot cheaper here than it is in the US. I suggest checking out skyscanner.net in order to find the cheapest flights to every place imaginable.
I'm probably a huge weirdo, but I LOVE flying. I would much rather fly some place than any other form of transportation. 

FIFTEEN// Enjoy every second. I'll be the first to admit that I miss home. I am such a homebody and I adore life at SMC. This semester I have suffered some serious FOMO while looking at pictures that my friends have posted from St. Mike's. In that sense, I am so happy that I have so much love for my school. It proves that I picked the right place to spend 4 years. But studying abroad is a privilege that not many people get to have. Its something that I will remember for the rest of my life. Its taught me a lot about the world and people. I always find myself counting down the days until I am reunited with the good old U S of A but then it freaks me out a little bit knowing that in just a few short weeks I will have to leave this fairy tale, unsure of when I will return. So my advice, savor it. Savor every single second because it is the most amazing thing you will ever experience.
I can honestly say that I am going to miss this place everyday that I am away. It is beautiful; it is my new home.


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Friday, April 3, 2015

Friday Favorites

     I am supposed to be writing a paper right now, but my brain feels as though it has turned to mush and I cannot possibly string together another sentence on my topic. So, in order to give my mind a little rest, I figured I out write a little favorites post for all of you lovely people of the internet. As always, these things tend to be completely random and they most definitely will in this favorites post.

ONE// Flowers. I literally have an obsession with flowers. I love all kinds of flowers. Pink ones, purple ones, yellow ones, ones that grow on trees, ones that pop up from the ground, literally any flower, I love it. London is honestly beautiful at this time of year. All of the flowers are starting to bloom. Everything smells so fresh and alive. My walk to class is on a residential road that is lined with trees with pink flowers. It honestly takes me a little longer to get to class these days because I find myself walking a little slower to take in the scenery.

my friends surprised me with flowers this week because they know how much I love them! 
TWO// Water. I know, random. But I warned you, didn't I? Its normally good to drink a lot of water and most of the time I do. It is really easy to do when I am at school because I always carry a water bottle with me and there are filling stations all over the place. London is a little different in that aspect. No one really carries around a nalgene covered in stickers with them and there are no water fountains any where! It is honestly so stressful at times. I noticed recently that I had been getting a lot of headaches and feeling tired, so I started to up my water intake and I feel a lot better!

THREE// Vegetarian Salad from Foubert's & pizza from Da' Mario's. My group of friends and I go to Sunday dinner every Sunday at the same place. It is a small family owned Italian place on Kensington High Street called Foubert's. I used to normally go for the spaghetti but a few weekends ago my roommate, Grace, ordered the vegetarian salad. It looked so good that I just had to order it the next time. I did exactly that and I haven't looked back since. The salad is massive and it has tons of goat and mozzarella cheese on it with mushrooms, tomatoes and cucumbers. It also comes with a large basket of fresh bread. It is honestly so delicious and I find myself thinking about having all week long. It is really filling and really inexpensive for what you get! I also went to Da' Mario's last week and it was fantastic. It was one of Princess Diana's favorite places to eat, so I knew I had to check it out. I got a cheese pizza and it was honestly one of the best pizza's I have ever had!


FOUR// The Blogger Effect. Saint Mike's is honestly home to some amazing bloggers (I may be a little biased). Senior seminar for MJD students is honestly one of the biggest things that any student can accomplish. While further trying to procrastinate on all of the work that I have to do, I noticed a lot of senior seminars being completed. I definitely thoroughly creeped on Juliana and Lauren's senior seminar project called The Blogger Effect and I was completely blown away. It is honestly amazing and if you have time I totally suggest checking it out HERE!

FIVE// All types of music. Summer is one of my favorite seasons (I think most people would agree) and one of my favorite things to do in the summer is drive in my car with the windows down playing some music. It is the most euphoric feeling in the world. Normally during the summer, I completely re-do my summer playlist. Each year, I find that songs I play have direct ties to memories and every time that I listen to them I am able to replay that memory in my mind. So, as summer is swiftly approaching, I figured that I would need to start collecting songs to add to this playlist. Here are a few that I have been loving lately!

Sistar: Touch My Body// So this is probably the "weirdest" of the songs on this list. First off, its Korean, so I can barely understand a word that they sing. But trust me, it is so dang catchy that you will physically have to stop yourself from dancing along to it!

The Vamps: Last Night// I am pretty sure that this song came out a while ago but I just never heard it. Its really catchy and super fun. I can totally see myself listening to it in my car when I am home for the summer. 

Ben Howard: The Fear// I have been listening to Ben Howard for a while. I adore all of his music. Out of all the songs on this list, this has the most acoustic sound to it. Its pretty mellow and has a great message. Plus, Ben Howard has a voice like butter, there is basically nothing to dislike. 

SIX// Vlogs. I am still on a vlog kick. I don't know why, but I just find them so entertaining. Last favorites post I mentioned the Shaytards. Recently, I have been obsessed with the SacconeJoly's daily vlogs. They literally have the cutest kids in the entire world and their house is stunning. Their videos are normally around 10-20 minutes long and I find myself engaged through the entire thing. 

That is pretty much it for now! I should probably get back to that paper that I have been putting off for far too long. Not long now before all the school work will stop. I only have 27 days until I am on a flight back to the good old U-S of A. It is honestly crazy how fast time flies!


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What am I listening too (other than the music posted earlier)?