Culture Adjustment + Slight Culture Shock

Before arriving in London, I thought it would be similar to living in America, but I was completely wrong. They do a lot of things differently here. For example, they drive on the oppisite side of the road and the passenger side is different and the cars are smaller.

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Also, they have smaller portion sizes. The food is non GMO, fresh and the packages tell you where the food comes from. The eggs are not refrigerated. The calorie and nutrition charts are confusing, I have no idea what a Kcal is. Also ordering food is different, you need to go to the counter to order, there are no waiters.

EVERYONE dresses up nicely here, there is basically no such thing as graphic tees here. If you look sloppy people will stare at you.

The bathrooms are different, cleaner with 2 confusing buttons on top. They also have heating racks for towels that America desperitely needs.

 

Arriving at my Flat

It was surreal first walking into my flat. I was the first one there and I immediately picked out my bed which is by a really nice window facing outside to the backyard area. I have a very nice closet space and a dresser. I share a room with two other girls and the flat is for 8 other girls. I also have a bathroom in my flat which has a nice old fashioned tub, a toilet and sink as well as towel rails for drying towels.

There is also an upstairs area with a nice kitchen to cook meals in and a nice seating area to watch television and to just hang out at night. The flat itself is very spacious.

This is the most confortable flat I have stayed in. It is very safe here. The doors are self locking and my flat is by places to eat, museums and other cool stuff!

Food in London

I heard that British food was not tasty before I came here. It is no more true these days! I want to explain about traditional English food which I tried!

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Full breakfast is English traditional meal of the morning, and it usually includes egg, sausage, bacon, and toast. I went to Masters Diner in the Covent Garden. Here, it is about £6 with a cup of tea. (It was much cheaper than other places!) Some restaurants serve beans too, but the taste is a little different from ones which we eat in the US. Our beans are sweet, but British ones have some tomato taste in them. I also added black puddings, which is a pork sausage with pig’s blood. I was afraid of eating it, but it was not as bad as I heard! (But one slice was enough for me.) Overall, full breakfast is a good morning meal and gives people an energy for a day!

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Fish & Chips! Is there any British food more famous than this? No! It includes a fried fish, usually cod or haddock, chips (french fries), lemon, tartar source and some vegetable. I ate it twice at different places; first at Rock and Soul Place and second at Ale and Pie. Both were really great! Fish was fresh and juicy and tartar source was excellent. We need to add some ketchup or salt to chips. It is good with beer!

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On Sunday, I went to the Covent Garden and ordered Sunday Roast with a glass of red wine. The well known group was playing beautiful classical music in front of me. (How lovely!) The Sunday Roast was about £15, and I had a choice of beef or lamb. I ordered a lamb roast. I was so happy because it was served with Yorkshire puddings!  Yorkshire pudding is an English side dish made of egg, flours and milk. It was one of the British foods I wanted to try. They were more dryish than I expected, but good with the lamb roast very much. Also, the source was great… It was very good with meat, puddings, vegetable and wine.

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Scorns! It is usually serves with cream and jam. I ate them  first at a cafe in the Covent Garden and next at the Natural History Museum. They were not too sweet, and usually include some dried fruits. At first, I ordered English tea with it. The scorn was warm and soft and great with tea. It was the best scorn ever. At the Natural History Museum’s cafe, I ordered mocha with it. The scorn was harder than the previous one and cold, but it was still delicious. I thought scorns were more dryish and similar to bread, but it was not true. I love scorns! They have a gentle sweetness which cookies don’t have. I want to try afternoon tea set if I have chance and enough money.

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This is Beef Wellington, which “is a preparation of fillet steak coated with pâté (often pâté de foie gras) and duxelles, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and baked (wiki).” It is one of the British foods I want to try during this trip, but it is very very expensive at every restaurant. However, I finally found reasonable Beef Wellington at Harrods! I want to buy and try it before I come back to the US!

It’s London!

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I arrived at London on January 3.

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I was glad that I could come to London safely just as planned. It was a long trip for about 6 hours (but shorter than NY to Japan). We arrived in the morning. After checking in our flat, we walked to ATM to get cash. It was the first time to see European money. It’s so cute! I tried to stay up not to be beaten by the jet lug, but the jet lug won. I was so tired and fell asleep for a few hours. After taking a nap, my roommates and I walked to the grocery shop to get some food. I heard British food is not delicious, so I prepared myself. I gave a sigh of relief because the shop was similar to one in the US. I planned to eat as many British food as possible, so I only bought small amount of food in case of getting hungry at night and before class.

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I was so impressed by the landscape of London when I first saw the town because buildings were unbelievably pretty. I couldn’t count how many times I said “Oh my god, it’s so cute.” Everything was decorative yet stylish. I especially love traditional brick apartments. A red London bus has two levels and runs around the city. It is one of the symbols of London. I bought the Oyster card without a bus potion so the main transportation is a train, but I would take the bus at least once before going back to the US.

My stay in London is just getting started. I will visit as many places as I can, and eat as many British food as possible!

Thank you for reading!

Soon to be London Bound

Hello all my name is Marissa Heuser. I am currently a sophomore at SUNY New Paltz. I’m in the honors program here.   I adore New Paltz and pretty much everything about it. I am going to be studying abroad at Kingston University in London, England. I leave the USA on January 4th which is so soon!! I am going for the whole Spring semester and to be honest I’m kind of scared. In a, I’ve never been this far from my family/friends for this long, kind of way. I am a real homebody, I chose my school because it was 2.5 hours away from my home. My parents are my closest confidants and my sister is my best friend. It’s going to be a challenge learning how to survive without them. I also have two Labradors, Chloe a female black lab who is 11 and Kingsley a little yellow male who is almost 2. They are my little loves and I’m going miss them so much.
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My friends are just as fantastic. I have two of the most amazing roommates anyone could hope for. Jess and Christina have become my best friends at college and my life line(s). They are supportive, kind, brilliant and hysterical.

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It is going to be so weird not living with them next semester. I have plans to video chat with them all the time because I don’t know if I can handle life any other way 😝.

My friends back home are weird and crazy but they are the best people you’ll ever meet. They will talk your ear off about video games but they will never let you down. They are loyal and goofy and basically just the weirdest pack of misfits you will ever meet. We have stuck together through everything and I know that even through they are far away, we are never truly apart.
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But enough with the sappy, I’m going to miss my family/friends so much, stuff!
I am packing for England! I decided to start packing about 6/7 days before I leave. A bit of advice, NEVER START PACKING A WEEK BEFORE A 5 MONTH TRIP!! It’s stressful because it is close to the departure date so you are freaking out but just far enough away to let you be paranoid. I have spent about 2 full days contemplating bringing another pair of socks. Its….not healthy. I am locking up those suitcases and putting them in a different room because I can’t stop staring at them wondering what I missed.
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They are both MAXED OUT.
I will make my second post on the day I leave! I was really lucky to make a friend who is also going to Kingston. We even got seats next to each other on the plane! I am so nervous and excited and I can’t believe that I am going to London!!!

 

I guess that’s all for now!

Till next time,

Marissa

London is almost there!

Hello. I’m Emi Takeyama, a junior international student from Japan. My major is Graphic Design and I will join the London Art Seminar during this winter. The trip is only for two weeks, from January 2 through January 17.

During the seminar, we will visit famous and important places of art and history such as Tate Modern, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, Kew Gardens, and Saatchi Gallery. We will also join some tours and watch a theatre show.

Of course watching art works is the biggest purpose of this class, but experiencing its culture is another very important purpose. This is the first time for me to travel Europe, so everything I see, listen, eat, smell, and feel is new in London. I already experienced studying abroad in the U.S. as Japanese, so this is a good time to compare how I feel in England and the U.S. as an international student.

In London, I will sketch landscapes in my cute travel sketchbook and take a lot of photos to remember the trip. Also I want to use those photos as materials of my art works in the future.

I will try traditional British food such as fish and chips, English breakfast, Yorkshire pudding (I heard they are delicious), Stargazy Pie, and Haggis (I heard they are awful…).

Overall, I am very excited to go to London! I will continue to post my recent conditions on this blog. Thank you for reading!

1. Getting ready for my date with London!

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It’s 3 days and 7 hours before the departure, and I’ve just started my second 8 hour train ride this week. The holiday season has consisted of visiting all of my relatives and all of my boyfriend’s, making this month and the next couple weeks the most I’ve ever traveled in my life. I’m overjoyed by it all, but I have to admit I’m also anxious. It’s a mix of never taking a flight this long (it’ll be about 8 hours), never leaving the country except my short vacation in the Bahamas when I was 6, and being so insanely busy the past 2 weeks that I’ll only have one day to get everything together and actually pack. Adding on to that, the day after I come back from London the spring semester auditions for the theatre department are happening. l’m thinking about all the wonderful things I want to do in London, but I also have the looming audition anxiety, and I haven’t even found all of my material yet. So it’s a lot to think about.

Connie had us do pre-departure assignments that gave us a chance to explore the city of London online a little bit before our feet hit the ground running. I’m so used to the grid system of NYC that it’s still kind of confusing to see how the city of London is laid out, but the tube is starting to make more sense, and I’ve been told by many people how much easier it is than dealing with the subway here. It looks like Bloomsbury, where we’re staying, is an excellent location, right near the theaters and lots of fun pubs and restaurants.

This all seemed so far away…and now I’m rushing to get everything together and I’m brimming with excitement. I’ve looked at our schedule for the next 2 weeks, and it’s jam-packed with so many awesome things. I’m particularly excited to see Macbeth at the Young Vic, the Kinks musical Sunny Afternoon, and visit the Globe. I’m looking forward to meeting all kinds of interesting people, seeing great theatre, eating delicious food, trying different beers and cocktails, and having loads of unique experiences. Bring it on!

Back In New York

How was it over a month ago that I sat in my room writing my “prepping for London” blog post?  How has a month gone by and how have I found myself writing the  “coming down from the emotional high that was one of the best experiences of my life” blog post?

 

In all sincerity, I am very happy to be home; to see my family, my friends, and my bed (sleeping being the second thing I did, only after having pizza, of course!)  I have now been home for five days, the first four of which were pretty hard on my body.  Jet lag (especially after a 14-hour layover in Norway) hit me pretty hard and left me with a migraine and irregular sleep schedule that I am just now coming out of.    Now that I’m not waking up at 4:00 in the morning and have seen the majority of my family and friends, it almost feels as if no time has passed at all.  It was pretty comforting to come home and see that though life went on whilst I was gone for a month, everything stayed relatively the same.  I suppose I am ready to settle back into the life I had prior to leaving, one that consisted primarily of school work and my part-time job, but now I’m grateful to say my mind has beautiful places including Scotland, France, and England to wander to.

Layover in London

I arrived in London on the evening of June 17th. This having been my third time in flying into Heathrow International, the return was comfortingly familiar. I exhaled joy when I made it through the border and consciously strolled to the Underground, emphasis on strolled, because I was ready for the change of pace that Europe always offers. I got on the Piccadilly Line toward Borough, my final destination, and smiled when I heard the British operator announce, “This is the Piccadilly Line toward Cockfosters, please mind the gap.” The chuckle of a clear novice London traveler made me reflect back on my first time catching the Underground from the airport just 6 months earlier. “I remember when I had my first beer,” I smirked.

I arrived at Borough station and walked nostalgically toward Shrabani’s flat. Shrabani is my amazing friend who I would be spending the week with. I studied abroad with her in Cardiff, Wales just to be captivated by her kindness, generosity, work ethic, and her positive outlook on life. Cardiff was actually her second time studying abroad, so she helped me a lot in my transition being a pro traveler at the time.

Anyhow, I was scheduled to be spending this week before Prague with this phenomenal woman, and she was nothing short of a wonderful host and supporting friend: she cooked me amazing meals, showed me many tourist sights which I had not seen on prior visits to London, introduced me to her friends and favorite clubs, had heart to hearts with me and gave great advice, encouraged me to follow my dreams and gave me ideas aiding my future goals, while simultaneously working on her dissertation for her Master’s Degree at the London School of Economics and applying for jobs. If that doesn’t prove how exceptionally multifaceted she is, I will send you her resume (which I asked to read).

Aside from spending time with Bani, who was also a Peer Counselor for the Center for International Programs (CIP) and is featured on the CIP website, some of the highlights of my trip were the sights.

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First, was the Tower Bridge, which I had always called the London Bridge, but it turns out the London Bridge is just a plain Bridge right next to the infamous Tower Bridge and is really only good for giving a great view of the Tower Bridge, the real star. This was great information to learn since I had known it as the London Bridge all my life (as do most people). It was breath taking, really. The lights, the architecture, the history… it was magical. Bani and I arrived around sunset as well, thus adding to my enamor. We walked across, back, found a loo, then sat on lawn with a side view of the bridge and enjoyed some ciders and the view. We watched people pass and made up possible stories for who they were, where they were going. The London rain and chill was the only reason to ever leave.

Next, was a double whammy! The Leake Street Tunnel and the London Eye… like what!? Okay, so the Leake Street Tunnel  was something a New Paltz professor had mentioned at the Take Back the Night event on campus this past May. She had mentioned graffiti art and how feminist activists often tag there, but I was sold at graffiti art in a tunnel. I told Shrabani I wanted to go and she made it happen. It was so awesome! So diverse, creative, and raw were most of the works. And what was even cooler was that I saw three artists in progress. Next time I make a trip to London, I might tag something on the wall too, even if only a poem.

So after 30 minutes of walking through this tunnel and taking pictures, being inspired, we walked a bit, turned two corners and BAM: The London Freaking Eye! “Holy cow, OMG, WTF” and all the other cliché American phrases was all I thought as my chin dragged across the ground. I don’t know if it was the sudden, unexpectedness of it or its utter beauty, but I was floored. Wow! I had seen it when flying into London just like the Tower Bridge, but geez I didn’t think seeing it up close would be so profound.

View of the London Eye from where Bani and I sat.

View of the London Eye from where Bani and I sat.

Bani and I set up shop in the Southbank Center right next to the Eye, which was also hosting a university graduation. She transcribed interviews while I read The Color Purple; it was perfect. We eventually took lunch outside where we found a bench with an epic view of the Eye, thus we continued our work outdoors.

Another highlight was all of the food experiences, whether prepared by Shrabani or at a restaurant. Also, this cool restaurant and nightclub Bar Salsa which offered both Bachata and Salsa lessons. Studying and reading was another highlight of the week. Bani is an exceptional study partner and motivator. Ugh, it was amazing; a great layover before my trip to Prague.