Update!

It is currently Sunday afternoon, and I sit here writing this post as I lounge in my pajamas, hair in a huge messy bun, eating my yogurt and granola breakfast while leisurely sipping on my hot English breakfast tea (so delicious). Life is pretty good when you get to sleep in!

It’s been a little while week since I last posted about my whereabouts (sorry) so I’ll just give some basic updates as to what I’ve been up to…

The past two weeks did not consist of any super special adventures or explorations, but I have been doing a few fun things! I go to class three days a week, for about three hours at a time, so you can just imagine all the free time I have to do whatever I want! On the two days I have class in the morning, I usually just come back after and take a nice long nap (a necessity for every college student). I actually can’t believe how much I really do sleep here. I do admit that I like to go to sleep pretty late (sorry mom, I know you’re not a fan of that), but the fact that I can sleep until almost one in the afternoon is pretty ridiculous! However, don’t think that I spend all my time here sleeping and going to class… I’ve been doing a few other things with my life too!

I am officially a member of the Roehampton Women’s Basketball team now, and we practice two nights a week (Mondays and Fridays), and have games on most Wednesdays. If you have read my previous posts on the trials and taster session, I was a little discouraged when it first began. However, I’m really enjoying playing now that the final team has been made and we have a coach (Kenny) who comes to lead practices with drills and actual structure. While I am one of the better ones, there are a few girls who actually know how to play and that was a huge relief. The girls on the team are all very welcoming and friendly. Most of them are from England, but we do also have a girl named Aina from Barcelona, Spain, and a girl named Stella from Greece. I’m the only American but it’s cool to be playing with girls from other countries! Aina and I are only here for the term, and the girls constantly complain about us leaving in December and beg to us to stay longer (it’s nice to be wanted)! Not only have I been playing twice a week with the girls, but Coach Kenny has also allowed me and two or three other girls to practice with the men’s team after ours is over on Monday nights. They also practice on Tuesdays (when the girls have off), so I went to that practice last week as well. The men’s team is pretty good and has a lot of really athletic guys, so playing with them is a big challenge for me. But I am so thrilled to be getting back into shape, and working on improving my skills with guys since they are pretty intense. The guys practice is a lot harder than the girls; Kenny runs them a lot more, and I’m dead tired after it’s over… but nothing is better than that feeling of having a great workout. I was really sore the days after those practices, but it was definitely worth it! The other thing that is great about their practices is that they really do accept the few girls who want to train with them. A lot of them have confidence in me to keep up with them and play… which I love! We also had a social about a week and a half ago where some of the girls and guys from the team went bowling. We all played two games and divided up teams so the girls and guys got to know each other. The night was really fun because I got to know some of the players pretty well and it was good bonding time for the teams. I hope we get to do something like that again soon!

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The men’s and women’s teams also had our first “friendly” games (AKA scrimmages) this past Wednesday against another local school called Kingston. We didn’t have too much practice time before this game came up, so we couldn’t really run any plays and had to improvise a bit. Kingston was a really competitive team, and got a big lead in the beginning of the game. I was a little frustrated with how our team started out, but the second half was really competitive and we made an awesome comeback. My team ended up losing by about 10-15 points in the end, but I was definitely pleased to see an improvement by everyone as the game went on! The guys played after our game was over, and it was so much fun to watch. Even though it was only considered a “friendly” (or scrimmage), there was a decent turn out for spectators who came to watch, and the cheering got really intense between fans. The game went into overtime and the guys ended up losing by one, unfortunately. Honestly, I think both of our teams could beat Kingston, and I’m really excited to get to play them again in the regular season!

Besides basketball, the other part of my social life consists mainly of hanging out in Newman with my fourth floor friends. Some of us watch movies together and make food and just hang out in general. My own flat is really quiet and the girls really like to keep to themselves, so I just have to deal with where I’ve been placed and venture out of this building to actually have some human interaction. However, the other day Mayte (my flatmate from Spain) posted a proposal for a flat dinner on the fridge and everyone seemed interested so we may do that sometime in the next week or so. I’ll definitely post on how that turns out. When I’m here in my flat, I like to chill out and keep in touch with friends… which I’m doing a pretty good job with! I love the people who really make an effort to see how I’m doing, and I really do miss things about Wilmington (such as the warmth, beach, dining hall, and PEOPLE there). When I’m not Skyping or Facebook chatting anyone, I’ve been watching the show New Girl online. I started watching from season one about a week ago, and I’m already caught up to the most recent episode as of last night. That show is SO good. I love/want to be Zooey Deschanel! Now to find yet another show to start watching… any suggestions?

This past Friday night (10/12) was another Bop dance with a “commando” theme, which basically meant camouflage/army-like style… no, it did not mean wear no underwear (haha)! Having missed the Bop before that one, I was pretty excited to go out and have a good time. Even though I do not own any army-like clothes, I managed to try and somewhat fit the theme with a little face paint, a green shirt/jacket (thanks Eliza), and combat boots. Not too shabby for a last minute outfit. The night ended up being really fun as we danced to tons of American music and mingled at the bar and on the deck with friends. The night ended with devouring a “Bop burger,” which is what we call the burgers that we can buy for three pounds from a little burger booth right outside of the Student Union where Bop is held. It’s a pretty smart idea if you ask me. I was starving by 2 AM!Image

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Yesterday (10/13), Raleigh, Eliza and I woke up and took a 20 minute walk to Barnes, a local town right down the road from Roehampton. Barnes isn’t too big, but it was the most adorable little town that I’ve seen here so far. On Saturdays from 11-2, there is a little farmer’s market set up right next to a beautiful lake with ducks and swans. We took a walk around the market and looked at all the delicious food the vendors were selling. There were stations for fresh fruits and vegetables, homemade bread, cheese and dips, cookies, cupcakes, freshly squeezed fruit juice… and much more. Obviously, having the enormous sweet tooth that I do, I bought an “American style” chocolate chip cookie from a dessert booth. It was delicious. Raleigh bought a baguette and some pesto and hummus dips to snack on later, and Eliza tried the fresh apple juice from another vendor. To describe the farmer’s market it one word: yum. We continued to walk around a bit outside of the farmer’s market, stood by the pretty lake, and then explored the little town where we came across a few really cute boutiques and thrift shops to browse through. Overall, the afternoon was really nice, especially since the sun was out and shining, and I definitely plan on going back another Saturday to buy more delicious baked goods from the one of the booths!

So that’s my update for now… I think I’ll actually try to be productive with my day today because my classes are starting to pile on the homework and I need to get my brain juices flowing. Maybe it would help if I actually changed out my sweatpants that I slept in. With that being said… it’s time to go! More to come soon.

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Kingston, Superhero Bop & Notting Hill

Hello all! Let me begin this post with Friday’s (9/28) trip to Kingston, a local town near Roehampton with lots of great shopping and food only a 15 minute bus ride away! Raleigh, Liza, and I first got on a bus going in the complete opposite direction (we were in a rush and jumped on without thinking), but we quickly figured out how to hop busses and find a stop that was going to Kingston so it wasn’t the end of the world. I’m actually starting to figure out my way around so it’s a good feeling to somewhat know how to get places using public transportation. Kingston was such a great area for walking around to shop and eat. However, the weather turned crappy on us really quickly (as in rainy and cold) right when we got off the bus there. We still made the most of our time by stopping in a pub to eat, browsing bakeries (so tempting, but I didn’t get anything), and looking in a few of the stores. I definitely would love to go back there soon on a nicer day because there is a lot more exploring (and window shopping) to be done! The weather got a little better towards the late afternoon and I got to see an awesome rainbow over Kingston which was really cool. We also saw this cool art structure that looked like a bunch of those red English phone booths toppled over like dominoes. Obviously, I had to get a touristy picture!

On to Friday night’s bop dance, which was superhero themed. After stressing pretty much all week about not having a costume to wear or any good clothes to put together for an outfit, I embraced the opportunity I had at Kingston and went into Primark with Raleigh to hunt for something (anything) superhero related. There are pictures of my outfit and what my friends wore here so you can check it out. I was basically my own version of a general comic book superhero, and really proud about those boxers I found last minute! Bop was a pretty fun night, the DJ was okay but I loved getting ready and hanging out with the Newman crew in our silly outfits. We are like one little family and I love that they have adopted me into their flat (I’m there ALL the time).

Liza (comic book superhero?), Chelsea (Robin Hood), Raleigh (Captain America), Me (comic book superhero?), Kelly (Catwoman), Sinead (Mustache Man)

Saturday (9/29) Raleigh, Kelly, and I planned a day trip to Notting Hill and Portobello Road! I still have yet to see the movie (with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts), but I plan on watching it soon because Raleigh brought it with her from home and now I can appreciate it more! We went to the bookstore where some of the movie was filmed and took some more touristy pictures there (of course). But besides that, walking down Portobello Road was really a unique experience. I’ve been to my fair share of outdoor busy marketplaces, but this place was really interesting. Notting Hill has the reputation for being an affluent, fashionable area, and its architecture in the area really reflects that. Portobello Road runs right through Notting Hill from the north end to south end, and is known for its weekend market, specializing in a large section of antiques and another of fresh fruits and veggies. We walked around for a while and ate at another pub where I finally ordered my own fish and chips dish (which was really good)! Overall, our day at the market was really awesome and I definitely plan on going back another weekend to maybe buy some cool gifts for people or just look around some more since we didn’t even get to see it all. Next time I go, I also plan to hold out on eating at a restaurant there and buy food from the tons of vendors on the street. There were SOOO many options for food, such as kebabs, falafel, burgers, chicken, stir-fry, crepes, and so much more. Now I’m hungry all over again, great.  Overall, great day. The Notting Hill tube station was really pretty too. I learned even more about travelling on the tubes because this little day trip required taking a bus AND the tube to get there… I’m definitely more comfortable taking public transportation and we didn’t get lost at all this time!

Finished With Freshers Week… Unfortunately

Last night wrapped up the Freshers Week events and it couldn’t have been more perfect. As I mentioned in my last post, the theme was “back 2 skool” so everyone dressed up like schoolgirls/boys. I decided to channel the throwback Brittney Spears schoolgirl look and rocked a tie and pigtail braids… definitely a famous 90’s look! The first part of the night my friends and I hung out by the bar where a DJ was set up playing tons of American music (which EVERYONE knew). After mingling for a little while, we made our way into a larger event hall with a stage (where BOP and the comedy show took place) to dance along to some more music and wait for S Club to take the stage. Finally, three members of S Club 7 came on stage asking everyone one: “Are you ready to take it back to 1999?” Everyone freaked out screaming frantically since these songs basically defined our childhoods. I definitely knew most of the songs they sang, but some people were jumping around singing every single word. You could tell they were S Club 7 fanatics. While their voices sounded the same when singing all their big hits (S Club Party, Reach, Never Had A Dream Come True, Don’t Stop Movin’, Bring It All Back), they definitely didn’t look like those young 20 year olds anymore which made me realize how much time actually passed since their peak of fame. Nevertheless, the concert was so much fun and everyone got to relive some great childhood music.

After about 30 minutes of the concert, people started to get pretty pushy in the event hall so we left there and made our way to a big outside tent hosting a silent disco. This was by far one of the best parts of Freshers Week, hands down. We waited in a short queue (or line, as we Americans call it) and when we entered the inside of the huge tent there was a station with people giving out headphones. I put my headphones on an immediately heard some music blasting into my ear. But here’s the catch: there are two stations of music you can choose between to listen to. So half the people were listening to station one (more rock and jam out type of music) and the others to station two (club hits for dancing). It was the coolest thing switching back and forth between the stations because you can tell which stations people are listening to by their dancing to certain beats. Another thing to note is that the tent wasn’t completely silent, in fact there were so many people singing out the songs really loudly but with no music out loud. It was such a cool experience! Hopefully the school will host another one of those because it was such a unique dance and I’d love to do it again.

Once we were all silent disco-ed out, we went outside of the union bar where there were stations of different food for people to buy after a long night of dancing and singing. The cheeseburger I got may have been one of the best I’ve ever had in my life (haha, I was so hungry). After completely demolishing my burger with friends, I finally made our way back to my flat and passed out around 3 AM. Last night was insane!

Needless to say, I slept in today and got some much needed beauty sleep. I woke up to a dreary and cold rainy day (one of the first ones since I’ve been here so far!) so I definitely will be just resting and hanging out in my flat today so I can be super prepared for the start of classes tomorrow!