First Few Days in Kingston

I’m sorry that I have been a little behind on my posting. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. To make up for it, I will be posting three blogs this week. I am going to break up my blogs by first talking about my initial reactions, settling in and finally orientation. The next blog I post will be about the first weekend here and the two amazing trips I went on. My third and final blog for the week will be about some of the cultural differences I have noticed.

My First Few Days Abroad!

I am not going to lie…my first few days were really rough. I got to England on Tuesday January 5th. The school arranged airport pick up date was Thursday January 7th and orientation was Friday the 8th. The reason I was here early was because Kingston University changed the airport pick up date, after we already bought the flight. Those three days may not seem like much but they felt like a lifetime. I was far away from home, I didn’t really have any friends and I felt alone. I had a difficult time adjusting to the time difference and I missed my family more than I had believed possible. My emotions felt like they had been scrubbed raw with steel wool and I was always a second away from crying. Please know that I don’t say this to scare anyone or discourage people. I just wished I had better prepared myself for those first few days. This is all solely from my own perspective, some people were perfectly fine when they came here. They were happy and adjusted well. I was not one of those people. I have a difficult time adjusting to new situations and change in general. So my reaction was to cry. I cried more than I’d ever thought was possible in those three days. But then something amazing happened, my tears dried and I felt better. My mother has always said, “sometimes you just need to cry”: she called it “a cathartic release”.

And in case Inside Out wasn’t clichéd enough, here are two quotes!
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before…”
-Charles Dickens
“…you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” -Lemony Snicket
I honestly felt better after I cried. I believe that I needed it. It was healthier for me to express my emotions rather than bottle them up. Much to my relief, those three days passed and things got easier after I went to orientation. It really helped to meet some new people and learn about trips. It was also super stressful regarding modules. In England, they call classes “modules” and the word course is similar to a major. I’ll go into greater detail about the academic system in another blog. In any case, there was a big mix up concerning my modules(classes), so for a little while I wasn’t even enrolled in any modules. It was stressful and a tad hectic to say the least. However, in the end, it all worked out. I am only taking three modules here, for a total of 12 credits (each module is worth 4 credits). Out of the three modules, one will count for my major, one for my minor and the other will just count as credit. All things considered, two out of three classes isn’t bad.
I met so many other international students that I couldn’t remember half of their names. There are a lot of students from North and South Carolina and, of course, New York. A good portion of the people I met are from America. However, I also met people from Canada, Australia, France, Sweden, Hong Kong, Germany, Netherlands, and Trinidad. I am sure that there are other students from other countries that I haven’t met yet. It was exciting and nerve-wracking and it honestly felt like the first day of school all over again, in a good way! I even bought myself a school sweatshirt!


After orientation was done I went shopping and picked up some essentials. I had taken some time to settle into my new lodging and tried to make it my own.

IMG_4930 This is pretty much what the room looks like. I have since added my own touches, like pictures of my family, friends and dogs around the room. My landlady is really nice and her daughters are very sweet. On the first night I was there, she made me dinner and took me out for a drive around the area.

That about sums up my first few days here; sad at first but progressively better with each day. I lucked out and got a great room in a nice area and I was looking forward to making new friends. I was also looking forward to the exciting day trips that I went on that weekend. I will talk about those in my next blog.

Until next time,


5. I open at the close.

We’re heading home today. I’m feeling a mix of a lot of things, but mostly I’m bummed about it. These have been the best two weeks of my life, full of adventure, laughs, great theatre, exploration and growth. I really, really, really don’t want to go home. Saying goodbye to our flat was hard, and boarding the plane was even harder. I could never have prepared myself for the life changing experience that this beautiful city has had on me. The people, the places, the architecture, the food, and the overall vibe of London has been such a pleasure. It’s hard to say what I’ll miss the most, because there were so many wonderful things. But I know I’ll be back. I can’t imagine living my life without returning. In fact, my roommate and I were trying to figure out last night how much it could potentially cost to come back for a week or something and stay in a hotel. That’s how desperately we want to come back soon.

I can’t say for sure yet exactly how London has affected me. I don’t think I’ll know until I’m back in the States and back to my normal life. But I have been so amazed at how happy I’ve been. I deal with depression on and off and often find it very difficult to find the positives in life, but these two weeks have been bliss. Any time I found myself in a slightly negative mood, I’d look around me and think, “I’m alive. And I’m in London. And it’s beautiful, and everything is going to be just fine.” I hope I can find a similar train of thought when I’m back home.

I have no regrets. I accomplished everything I wanted to, and so much more. I met fascinating people, saw engaging and unique plays, saw fine art, had great food and beer, and lived to the fullest. I stayed safe, only made a few silly mistakes, didn’t get sick or injured, and didn’t spend too much over my budget…

What a marvelous opportunity this has been. I look forward to seeing my family and friends again, but I’ll be leaving a part of my heart in London.



Plane ride and arriving in England

**My apologies I thought I posted this on the day I arrived! I now realize that this was saved as a draft instead! I am so sorry! Just pretend that this was posted on January 5th instead of 17th!

8:25pm Eastern Standard Time. We take off from Kennedy!!!
Hello from 10,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. We were 3 hours and 13 minutes away from Heathrow airport. I wanted to be in England right then. The plane kept oscillating between sweltering and frigid which got old real fast. The airplane food was surprisingly good. I was happy with that at least. Most of the in-flight entertainment was free, some movies cost 6$.
But there was still plenty to chose from. The view was amazing, the sky full with thousands of stars. At first I wished that I could get a picture of it, but it was way too dark. But that made them more beautiful to me, because that moment wasn’t something I couldn’t capture on my phone. It was something that could only be experienced. viewed solely through memory and not in pixels. I sat there watching the stars for hours because I knew I would never be able to sleep with the noise in the cabin. It sounded like a white noise machine or a waterfall. At least I had some time to think. I really miss my family. My family and I are really close and being away from them has proven pretty hard. But I tried to distract myself with movies and happy thoughts of London!
so close yet so far
When we only had 12 short minutes left on the flight, I was able to watch the dawn break over England. Watching sunrise from an airplane is pretty spectacular. You get to witness as each stretch of land is slowly bathed in morning’s first light.
The landing was not bumpy but nothing major. Getting off the plane was a hassle I somehow managed to accumulate 3 drink bottles over the course of the day after security. As I was trying to stuff them in my carry on(so I would be able to haul everything through an airport) I noticed that the entire rest of the flight had disembarked. I awkwardly stuffed everything into my carry on and we rushed off the plane into customs. There was a long line, no surprise there, and since jet lag was kicking in, it felt like forever. We finally got through we exchanged our money and picked up our bags.

We got a cab to take us to the houses where we will be living. We live about 5 minutes from each other which is nice. I spent half the cab ride exhausted and the other half have a panic attack that they were driving on the “wrong” side of the road. I swear I had a mini heart attack every time we turned because I thought we were turning into oncoming traffic.


(i honestly cannot figure out how to insert a video but this looks like it may be right)
I had just gotten to my house and was looking forward to meeting my landlady, unpacking and most of all, sleeping! I was so beyond tired that I felt as if I could have slept for 3 days straight!
Until next time.

Returning to the US…


Tomorrow we have a flight to go back to the US. We will leave our apartment at 10am. I know two weeks are not so long, but I feel our stay was much shorter than I thought. As I mentioned before, it is my first time to visit Europe, and it became a great experience for me. I visited a lot of museums and galleries and see art works from a close distance. I saw various kinds of art works;  classical, contemporary, and street arts. Some of them inspired me a lot as a person who create art. Also London town itself influenced me a lot too. In my free time, I walked around London and visited most of popular places. I ate British traditional food a lot such as fish & chips (three times), English full breakfast (four times), scorns (three times), Beef Wellington, Fudge, black pudding, tea, afternoon tea set, and so on. I found my favorite places; Covent Garden Market Place, the National Gallery and Piccadilly Circus area. I could learn about London through this experience. I had few regrets about my stay.


On Thursday, January 21, my spring classes start (I don’t have class on Wednesday). My London art seminar classmates seem to be pleased to go back to the US because it is their hometown and they can meet their family there. I am an International student, and all of my family members are in Japan. I am little sad, but ok, because this is they way I chose. After I arrive at the US, I have three days to rest before the spring semester starts. I will overcome my jet lag during that time and prepare for new classes! Also I have a big assignment for this London art seminar class, which is an art work in any medium inspired by or related to the London trip and write four-page paper due by March 4, 2016. I always have a pleasure of studying in my mind and do my best to improve my self. There is no limit!

Thank you for reading. See you on my next post!


Beautiful Places in London

Today, I want to tell you about beautiful places I have been in London.

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The first place is the London Eye. I walked across the  river Thames and rode on the London Eye, which was a giant Ferris wheel in London. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK. It is 443 feet tall and we can enjoy a fine view of London from it. I was surprised by its size because over 10 people could fit in it at once. We could watch Big Ben from there.


The Covent Garden is my best place in London. I love its variety of shops, pretty ornaments, delicious food and friendly people. I have been there three times because it is near from where I stay and I don’t get tired of it because of its vastness. I love Covent Garden. I want to visit there before I go back to the US on Sunday…

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I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral and up the stairs of 550 steps! I didn’t know that it had so many steps, and it made me perspire sweaty. But, the view from the top of the Cathedral was magnificent. I could look down London and felt like the Cathedral controlled all of London. I am a big fan of the architecture itself, sculptures and paintings. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay there so long at that time, so I will go there in the early morning next time if I visit London again.

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I went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I got lost on the way to the museum, and I walked around the Baker street for about 40 minutes. It was a very cold day and I was so tired when I arrived the destination, so I entered just a shop, not the main museum. When I went to the restroom, I got so excited because found a little room which looks like movie set. I was not a huge Sherlock Holmes lover, but I could enjoy the museum.


This building is called SIS (Secret Intelligence Service), and James Bond in the movie 007 is a member of it. I couldn’t enter inside.


Big Ben! It is one of the most famous buildings in London. I was fascinated its gorgeous and beautiful Gothic ornaments.

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I went to the Kew Garden with my classmates and professor as a class activity. First, we visited the Marianne North Gallery. It was amazing. In the first room, there were numerous plants paintings on all round the walls. After the first room, there was an exhibition of plants, especially fruits paintings and drawings. Most artists were women and they were finished delicately and looked so real. It was one of my favorite museum ever. After that, we went to the Palm House. The air inside was so warm and I felt so good because outside was freezing. We found a peacock in front of the gift shop. Overall, the Kew Garden was a beautiful place. I want to visit again in spring.

I picked up some places  which I want to share with you and recommend. London is a pretty little place. I want you to visit here when you have a chance. Thank you for reading!

About Our Class

As the Art Seminar class, we visit art museums and galleries, go to the traditional places, meet up in the professor’s room for presentations and discussions, and post our experience on our blog while we stay in London. Museums or galleries (and special exhibitions) we go are the British museum, Tate Modern (the Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Turbine Hall Installation), National Gallery (GOYA Portraits Exhibition), Barbican (the World of Charles and Ray Eames and the Forever Loop), National Portrait Gallery (Giacometti Exhibition), Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Princess Diana Memorial, Victorian and Albert Museum, Courtauld Collection (Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat), Tate Britain (Frank Auerbach Exhibition), Marianne North Gallery at Kew Garden, Saatchi Gallery, and Newport Street Gallery (Damien Hirst art collection). Also we go to the London Eye, Gielgud Theater ( the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime), the self-guided City Public Art Street Tour, Old Spitalfields Market and Shoreditch Street Art Tour as a class. We have four class meetings at professor’s  flat, and each of us does presentation about British history. We have seven students, and themes of our presentations are 1. pre-historic Britain, Roman Britain, and the middle ages which includes an overview of the early history of the England including the Druids, Romans in Britain (the city of Bath) 43AD-410, the Norman Conquest (French invasion of Britain), the era of the Crusades, 100 Year War, War of the Poses, etc, up to the year 1450, 2. Henry the Eighth and the church of England followed by the Elizabethan age, which explains how and why England broke away from the Catholic Church establishing the Church of England under Queen Elizabeth I, i.e. Shakespeare, beating the Spanish Armada, 3. the industrial revolution begins in England from 1760 to 1850 and Charles Dickens’ London, 4. Victorian England from 1837 to 1901,  5. British Empire and colonialism starting with North America including the U.S. then India, Africa, Australia, 6. England in World War I including the class system in England, what Britain was like before WWI and how it changes after WWI, and 7. England in WWII, what the British went thru, how the US helped Britain, and what England was like after WWII. It is interesting that we can learn the background of British history while we are in London. After some presentations, we discuss about what we see and think about the places we went. On Tuesday January 12, we did a pot luck and brought some British food. I bought caramel & sea salt flavor fudge from Harrods. 20160111_194022443_iOS20160105_130831192_iOS

Let me explain my favorite art works I fond.


Vincent van Gogh, the National Gallery
Sunflowers (1888)
It looks gold from a distance. He used yellow as a color of hope and friendship. He said it was a “idea symbolizing gratitude.” He liked this painting a lot and hung on the wall of the guest bedroom, which his friend, Paul Gauguin, stayed. I was very pleased to watch this painting. It gives me a passion and joy and makes me motivated. I also like how he painted background. It is just a single color, but the direction of the brush stroke is various. It also reminds me an active and positive impression.


Joseph Mallord William Tuner, the National Gallery
The Fighting Temeraire (1839)
It depicts a last journey of the Temeraire, which is a famous warship sold by the Royal Navy in 1838. He contrasts the veteran ship, seen against the setting sun, with the modern stream propelled tug. I the contrast of the united soft color and dark shadows. There is no clear borderline between the sky and sea.

Thank you for reading!

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.


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!


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!


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!


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.


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!