Roehampton Basketball

I’m dedicating this post to the amazing friends I’ve made since I joined the Roehampton Women’s Basketball team! I know you guys are fans of this blog… so here’s your shout out (ANGELIKA cough cough).

Thinking back to my first few practices with the team, I can easily say that we have made so much progress throughout the season. There are a few moments that I will always remember about playing Roehampton basketball, the first being our first win of the season. It was Roehampton’s first win in a LONG time (according to some of the returning players) and we played St. George’s, a school near Tooting in southwest London, winning 95-26. Obviously, the other team didn’t have much talent at all, but I was still really proud of our girls for doing their best and playing seriously the whole time. Coach Kenny pushed us to win by as much as we could because there aren’t too many opportunities like that in the league we play in, and in the past apparently other teams have won games by an even bigger margin (ouch). While I felt a bit uncomfortable taking that much of a lead, we did the best we could on practicing aspects of the game we needed to work on (spreading the court, cutting on offense, help defense) and didn’t think too much about the score. The win was very refreshing, especially for the girls who have been playing for a few years, and we rode the bus home with good spirits.

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The other memorable moment was the very last game of the semester… when I got to experience something in a basketball game that I’ve never done before. I believe we were playing Surrey University and we had the lead the entire game (up by maybe 12 to 15 points at parts). However, the away team started making a comeback in the last quarter and made it a tight game. With about 10 seconds left, the other team made a cross-court pass to a girl going long for a layup, putting them up by 2 points. As the clock ticked down, we inbounded the ball and a few passes were made until I ended up with the ball in my hands at half court as everyone started counting “3… 2… 1” I dribbled a few times and threw the ball up towards the basket right over half court while two defenders ran at me. The ball sunk right into the hoop and the girls knocked me down on the floor. That was the last I saw for about 3 minutes as my entire team, and the boys team who were watching, piled on top of me screaming and shaking me. I was curled up in a ball on the court with my eyes closed and all these people freaking out about the shot. After a few minutes, the referees got everyone off the court because I had to shoot a foul shot (which I completely forgot about), and ended up missing because I was so shaken up (literally). I can easily say that was one of the highlights of my entire basketball career and my experience abroad. We won by a point. I felt like crying from excitement right after that. It was an incredible feeling. If I took that shot another thirty times, I don’t know if I’d make even one of them again. But the fact that the ball went in that time was just completely awesome. I really felt like a superstar for a second there.

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Not only was my involvement in basketball an excellent way to work out for me, but I never realized how much of a social aspect it has in my life. I’ve been playing basketball since maybe second grade (around 7 years old) and over the years I have gained lifetime friends from the sport. I am beyond thankful to my parents for getting me involved in a sport that I could play for many years in my life, and it is truly something I enjoy doing. I know that I made the decision to not play basketball in a possible D3 college, which I definitely do not regret, but I still have my club basketball team back at UNCW, and my teammates at Roehampton for those three months. So thank you dad (he will love this shout out). You’ve pushed me throughout the years to be the best player that I could be, and you were and always will be my number one fan (and number one critic), but I love you for it.

Basketball at Roehampton has helped me gain so many more friends (from both the girls and guys teams) and it was a way to get my mind off of school and other worries and just go play on the court. I loved that I could look forward to practices throughout the week, and games on Wednesday afternoons. I could work on improving more of the fundamentals during the girls’ practices, and loved running and keeping in shape when playing with the guys (who treat me like one of them, and don’t go easy on me when I’m playing)! I had told some of the girls that we needed to have another social or get-together for some team bonding… I even suggested a “psych party” like my team did in high school where everyone brings something to contribute to a team dinner (like an appetizer, drinks, or desserts) the night before a big game. So at the very end of the season, we had a goodbye get together for me and Aina (another international student from Catalonia). Both the girls and guys teams went roller-skating at a campus social and after that we went back to the girls’ flat for pizza and games. I am so grateful for all the teammates who came to our going away party and appreciate the gifts you guys got me and Aina. I appreciate you guys more than you know. You all helped me grow not only as a basketball player, but as a person. I learned so much from you and I am so thankful to have met each and every one of you Roehampton basketball players. We had our ups and downs during the season, but I wouldn’t change anything! I’ll really miss you all. Please keep me updated on the next term and I wish you all the best of luck! Cheers!

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Winter Wonderland, Camden Market, & Digby Xmas Dinner

So time is ticking. I have 13 more days here in London. WHAT. As I write this, I have a billion things that I need to get done: schoolwork, cleaning, visiting London attractions, saying bye (gosh I don’t want to think about it all)! I haven’t mentioned it in my blog yet, but my mom is coming to visit me here and fly back home to America with me. I am so so soooo glad to have her here at the end of the semester so I won’t be as stressed packing up everything and shoving it into my suitcases (luckily, she will bring a large suitcase that I can fit even more stuff into, woohoo)! My mom gets here early on Dec. 13 (A WEEK FROM TODAY, AH) and we leave for Venice Dec. 14-16, then back to the USA on Dec. 19. This is insane.

Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

So anyway, in my attempts to do everything I want to do in/around London, I have been taking little day trips to places recently. A little less than two weeks ago (11/23), Raleigh, Sinead and I went to Hyde Park for the opening night of Winter Wonderland. I expected it to be like Rockefeller Center’s Christmas decorations, because we heard there is a big ice rink and winter decorations, but it was a lot bigger than I had expected! It was more like a winter/Christmas theme park/carnival! There were tons of rides that you could buy tickets for, mainly carnival rides like fun houses, rollercoasters, bumper cars, dropping rides, spinning rides, swinging rides… everything! Before reaching all the rides, there was a long path of vendors/booths that sold Christmas themed things, like ornaments, decorations, lights, candles, and much more. They also advertised “mulled wine” which is very popular around the holidays. We took a look at a lot of the fun Christmas items and then ventured into the ride area. Mixed in with the rides were TONS of food vendors everywhere, selling ALL types of carnival foods you can imagine. The one thing I noticed that England doesn’t have (I had Sinead confirm): funnel cake! I thought that they must have that token carnival snack, but apparently people in England don’t know what funnel cake is. So sad. Anyway, we ate our way through Winter Wonderland, first getting Galaxy hot chocolate. I then proceeded to get a crepe with banana and nutella. We then ran into a large part of the park that was German themed (I don’t really know why, but there were tons of booths selling sausages and beer). The bratwurst looked too tempting to pass up, so I ended up getting one of those too. Yeah, it was a bad eating night… but so yummy! Sinead, Raleigh, and I wanted to buy tickets for the biggest fun house we could find, but right when we got there they were closing the rides. Oh well! We spent another 20 minutes watching people pay money to try and win some carnival games… particularly the impossible basketball one with insanely bouncy balls, hard rims, and a stern backboard. Not too many people won prizes, but it was fun cheering people on.

So that wraps up my night in Winter Wonderland. I may bring my mom back to check it out! Here’s the website for it if you want to check it out a little more: http://www.hydeparkwinterwonderland.com/

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Camden Market

Raleigh and I ventured off campus the other day (12/4) because we still have places we want to explore and I am officially done with classes as of TODAY (Yay more free time.) I have friends who have been to Camden Town before, which is just a little north of Central London, and they said it’s definitely a place to check out. The Camden Markets is the fourth most popular visitor attraction in London, and is divided into a few different sections (Lock Market, Stables Market, Lock Village). It is also known to have an alternative/punk vibe to it. There were lots of tattoo parlors and piercing places… it was definitely the most edgy place I’ve seen here! The main street has plenty of shops that sell ALL types of souvenirs possible with a London theme… mugs, magnets, key chains, postcards, shot glasses, posters, etc. I ended up buying a bunch of things to bring back for friends, and a few things for myself too! There was a section that had so many different food vendors of all kinds: kebab, Chinese, Mediterranean, American, and more. Raleigh and I stopped for lunch at a place called Woody’s Grill and had kebab, which is basically meat carved off a rotating cylinder of chicken or lamb and put in a pita wrap with lettuce, sauces, and some other toppings if you so desire. It was really good, and something Raleigh had been craving for a while so I’m glad we went. Other parts of Camden Markets sold lots of clothing, particularly tank tops with cute designs on them, and some other typical touristy t-shirts too. There was so much to look at in each section of the market… I could have been looking at things there all day!

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We had our fill of the markets once we decided we spent almost all our money for the day, and then took the tube into Covent Garden (closer to central London) to get afternoon hot chocolate and a snack. After walking around in the cold, the warm café was just what we needed. I hadn’t been to Covent Garden in a little while, and once we got there it was so pretty to see all the Christmas lights they put up. London does a fantastic job of decorating for the holidays. They are super obsessed with lights, pretty trees, and other winter décor for the streets! I love it!

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Digby Stuart Christmas Dinner

We got back to campus that evening, and I had an hour of downtime until getting ready for the Digby Stuart Christmas Dinner. All students a part of the Digby campus were invited to a nice dinner hosted by the university, and for ten pounds we got a three course meal and some wine. It got crowded really fast, so I sat with Raleigh and my flatmate Sami who happened to be there too, but got split up from Liza and Sinead. The food was a lot like what they gave us for the free thanksgiving dinner for American students. We had parsnip soup and break as an appetizer, and the main course was turkey, stuffing, gravy, brussel sprouts, potatoes, parsnips, and “pigs in a blanket,” which were actually sausages wrapped in bacon (delicious). For dessert they gave us a weird “pudding” which wasn’t really pudding but a cake with a strange consistency and covered in white sauce. I didn’t like it… and it takes a lot for me to not eat the dessert! They played some Christmas music throughout the dinner and had a singing group come in and sing a few carols as well. Overall the night was okay, but I can’t complain about the unlimited wine! I also really liked that we got to dress up for the event too!

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More to come soon about some last minute adventures before I leave to go home!

My Belated Thanksgiving Feast

Yesterday (11/25) I had the pleasure of hosting a belated Thanksgiving feast with some friends at my flat. I honestly was one of my favorite, most memorable nights here yet. Raleigh and I decided that we wanted to show some Brits (and an Australian, Eliza) how a real American Thanksgiving is done. Plus we just wanted some more Thanksgiving food too! So on Friday (11/23), Raleigh and I ventured to Asda and bought the makings of (almost) a FULL Thanksgiving feast. It was bit harder to find what we needed in an English grocery store, but we managed to get some alright version (or weird brand) of what we needed.

 

We planned to have people over here on Sunday night for dinner and spent almost the entire afternoon preparing (starting at 3 PM). I can’t take much credit for cooking the meal… Chef Raleigh did a fantastic job. I assigned myself the positions of chef’s assistant and DJ for the afternoon. We blasted Christmas music, jammed out, and prepared all the food for our friends to come over around 5:30.

My mom was so anxious to hear about our cooking experience in my kitchen, awaiting news of something going wrong with the meal . However, much to her dismay, Raleigh and I (mostly Raleigh) did a really good job and everything turned out to be DELICIOUS. Way better than the Roehampton mock-Thanksgiving dinner we went to the other night.

The meal consisted of:

A real roasted large turkey breast, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, and an appetizer of baguette bread with sliced apples and warm brie cheese.

Is your mouth watering yet? Well I haven’t even described dessert!

There were a total of seven of us who attempted to devour the huge meal: Me, Raleigh, Chelsea, Eliza, Sinead, Zack (Sinead’s boyfriend) and Mat (Chelsea’s boy). So overall, three Americans, two Brits, one Australian, and one Belgian. Quite the mix for a Thanksgiving feast, but at least we all came with big appetites! Note: there are SO many leftovers!

After seconds (and maybe thirds for some), we all reclined in our chairs feeling stuffed and happy. I made sure everyone was properly full because it’s not thanksgiving without feeling insanely stuffed yet still trying to shove food down your throat because it’s so good. We waited a little while, and obviously found some way to make room in our stomachs for dessert!

Eliza was kind enough to bring over two pies (an apple one, and a mixed berry one) with some vanilla ice cream, while Raleigh and I provided a nice big layered chocolate mousse cake (not as traditional, but Asda didn’t carry pumpkin pie in the store). Obviously I went for seconds on dessert because I’m a chocolate freak and couldn’t resist. After we all ate literally as much as we could, we decided to make the short walk to the Union (the campus bar) for a group trivia game that they hold on Sunday nights. Our group came in third and we won a redeemable free pizza and glass of wine at the pizzeria on campus! Pretty good prize I must say.

So that’s pretty much all about my belated Thanksgiving with friends. I will always look back on that night as one of my fondest memories here at Roehampton. The Christmas music, festive food, and colder weather really got me in the holiday spirit and I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for Christmas. It’s just around the corner… less than a month as of yesterday! That’s all for now… can’t wait to get to basketball practice tonight to attempt to not feel obese anymore haha!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Thanksgiving Reflection

It’s a day late… but HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Everyone should be enjoying some Black Friday shopping right about now. This was the first ever Thanksgiving that I had to spend away from my family… and I didn’t know how much I’d miss them when the holiday actually came around. Every year, my entire mom’s side of the family gathers at my grandma’s (Gigi’s) house to have a proper American Thanksgiving feast with all the makings (turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, veggies, salad, bread, pies… I could go on!).

As I sat in my children’s lit class yesterday on the actual holiday, I couldn’t help but be jealous of all my friends back home spending time with family, reuniting with friends, and cuddling with beloved pets. I scrolled through my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see endless pictures of happy college kids at home as if they’ve been away forever and have never seen their pet before so they have to take a million pictures with it. Honestly, if I were home I’d do the same thing (miss you Roxie)! But it was the fact that I couldn’t which made me feel homesick for the first time since I’ve been here in London. A few days ago (Nov. 19) marked the one month countdown until I come back home to New Jersey. I do admit that when it’s time to go home I will be the happiest girl alive. But I feel like I still have a lot to do here in exploring London/other parts of England and I’m not sure if a month (with limited weekends) will be enough time for me to do it all! It’s kind of stressful when the time starts ticking for real.

I’m going to try not to stress and just do as many fun things as possible until that day (Dec. 19th) comes around and it’s time for me to board the plane. London is REALLY into the holiday season and celebrating all things Christmas, so there tons of places to go see that are elaborately decorated for the holidays. Today I’m going to see the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland and the lights on Oxford Street! (pictures to come soon from this visit)

But back to Thanksgiving… while I was pretty bummed yesterday to not be home, the amount of people who took the time to reach out to me over here and say “Happy Thanksgiving” was all the cheering up I needed. There are SO many things I have to be thankful for. Being in London has completely opened my eyes to even more aspects that I should feel fortunate to have (especially in America).

Last night, however, I did get the opportunity to celebrate Thanksgiving with some other Americans which I took advantage of. It was absolutely nothing like how I celebrate the holiday at home, but at least I got to eat a bit of the traditional Thanksgiving food. Roehampton invited the American international students to a pretty fancy Thanksgiving dinner since they knew the large majority of us won’t be going home for the holiday. I went with Raleigh and Chelsea, and was a bit disappointed to see they made an assigned seating chart which didn’t put us at the same table. However, I did have a chance to meet some people from other areas of the states and even though we were from all different parts of America (Hawaii, California, Pittsburgh, New Jersey, North Carolina), we all could come together and bond over missing home, and other aspects of American culture that England just doesn’t have… especially food!

I got to have a nice conversation with the girl from North Carolina and we bonded over missing sweet tea, southern accents, and country music. I really am beyond excited to get back to UNCW next semester! It was really nice to see other people have the same minor homesickness as I did yesterday. But we all came together for a good dinner. And the best part… it was free! The food they served us was okay… they got the turkey and stuffing right, but they had some weird mashed potatoes and included brussels sprouts and parsnips in the meal (obviously not part of the traditional Thanksgiving dinner), but at least they had some pumpkin pie to top off the meal at the end!

After my own dinner, I got to go back to my room and Skype my entire family at Gigi’s house which really put a smile on my face. Thanks for the love everyone!

I wanted to write this blog post because home means so much to me and I’ve realized it even more since living in London for over two months now. So with that being said, in honor of being thankful during this holiday, I have made my own list of a few things I’m thankful for…

The things I’m most thankful for this Thanksgiving:

-Obviously my amazing family and friends who support me while I’m here in London. I can’t even begin to say how much it means to me to have people reach out to me while I’m here to say that they are thinking about me and miss me. It’s the best feeling in the world to feel loved. And I want to say that I love all my family and friends back in American unconditionally.

-My new closest friends here. They help keep me sane while I’m away from home. Specifically Raleigh, Chelsea, Sinead, Eliza, and Kelly. You all don’t know how much you have helped me through this study abroad experience by just being a friend to me here. Without all of you, I wouldn’t have wing-girls to go out with, buddies to travel with, and friends to hang out with. And I couldn’t be happier that most of you will be back in North Carolina with me next semester so we can continue our friendships there. You girls are the best.

-This study abroad experience in general. I know that by the time these three months are over I will never have appreciated America more than I did while I’m here, but living in London has opened my eyes to so many different cultural things. The accent, the food, the manners, the travelling, the fashion, the weather. I honestly don’t think my school education is what I will take away from “studying” here… it’s the fact that I was immersed in this interesting English culture for three months and how different it really is from what I’m used to in America. I feel so incredibly fortunate to have the resources to be here for the semester, and even more to travel while I’m here!

-Being an American. The dollar isn’t as expensive, we have all the best movies and songs, Kraft mac and cheese, grape jelly, big cars and parking lots… the list goes on. I never thought I’d be thankful for all of these things, but being away from everything for a few months really makes you think!

-Skype. Can’t think of a better way of keeping in touch with my friends. I get to see their faces, hear their voices, and show them how pale I’ve gotten here already!

-Good health and good fortune. No explanation really needed.

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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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Schoooooool

So it’s been a good three weeks since I’ve been living in London and I have so much to say about how different the American daily life is than the English daily life. I never realized how much different their terminology for certain words and phrases were. I knew things would be different, but I’ve compiled a list of things I’ve noticed and just general observations about life here in London. I have a lot to say about some things, so I’m just going to start off with the schooling differences in this post, and cover other areas another time!

 

School:

The equivalent of America’s “college” here in the UK is called “Uni.” If someone refers to college here, they are actually talking about their high school(ish) experience called Sixth Form. The levels here are:

Nursery- like our pre-school

Primary school- like our elementary school, but ages 5-11 (so, up to our 6th grade)

Secondary school- a mix of our middle school/high school, roughly grades 7-10

Sixth Form- this is like high school, but only the equivalent of our grades 11 and 12. But the weird thing… they call this college! So confusing.

I also now know that “uni” only lasts three years here, and English schooling obviously never uses the terms freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior. Once in uni, they call first year students “freshers,” as I have mentioned before, or just “first years.” The next two levels are just called “second years” and then “third years”… the terminology is definitely not as fun as America’s. I think there’s more meaning and pride when you get to finally call yourself a “senior” rather than a “third year.” But that’s just me.

When it comes to classes here, the class size and lectures are actually very comparable to the ones I’ve experienced in the USA (some smaller, some larger lecture sized), with typically the same teaching methods by professors using PowerPoints, encouraging class discussions, leading a general lecture. However, there are a few big differences such as class length and assessments. Each of my classes only run once a week, but they last three or four hours each. Luckily, all my teachers are nice enough to let us have a 15-30 minute break in the middle, so I end up going back to my flat and getting a snack to last me through the rest. I’m really lucky because my classes are held in the two buildings literally RIGHT next to my flat building, so it’s only a 2-3 minute walk… score! As for grading, the teachers only have two or three assignments scheduled for the entire term. For example, my media class is only graded on an essay plan (1200 words, 30% of my grade), and the actual essay at the end of the term (2500 words, 70% of my grade)… and that’s it! Attendance doesn’t really factor into my grade (to the best of my knowledge) but all my teachers make us pass around a sign in sheet each class so maybe there is a penalty if you miss. However, it’s not really explained in the syllabus (or “module booklet” as they call it).

Also, when it comes to buying books, most classes use so much more online material for students to access and print if they want. Only some classes require one larger textbook to purchase so that’s good that I don’t really have to spend much money on books like we do in America!

Because class only meets once a week here (for the most part, there are some exceptions), it is expected of uni students to put in more individual study time outside of class to review and do the readings. I found that the homework assigned is definitely heavier than they assign at UNCW, but that’s also because we cover more in one class period because it’s longer. I haven’t decided yet if I like this English way of only having class once a week (with more homework), or if I prefer the typical American way of meeting twice or three times with shorter classes and less homework. I’ll figure that out pretty soon I guess. After all, it’s only the second full week of school!

 

A Little About Roehampton:

I haven’t really fully gone into detail about Roehampton yet, so I think it’s fitting to add a little information about it on this post. Roehampton University is London’s only campus university, and was also voted one of the most beautiful campuses in England, which is completely understandable when you come and actually see it! My pictures don’t do it justice, but there is a beautiful old building towards the middle of campus called Grove House, which dates back to 1792! It is used more as an administrative building now, but I walk by it all the time to get to the Student Union and also get a pretty view of it on the way to the gym. Campus also has a few really pretty ponds with ducks always hanging out there. Squirrels are EVERYWHERE and scare the crap out of me sometimes when they dart out across the walking pathways. Raleigh and I have also spotted a fox before! Needless to say, the campus doesn’t lack wildlife because the wooded areas and other vegetation host a lot of different animals.

Campus also has a decent amount of places to eat on campus, including Starbucks, Costa (another popular chain coffee shop), Trattoria (a pizzeria), Peri Peri (chicken place?) and a few other spots. Howveer, students here do not have meal plans so everything gets paid for out of pocket. I honestly have barely eaten at these places because I buy a lot of food from Asda and make easy meals in my apartment. It’s probably healthier that way… and cheaper too! (I really do miss my meal plan though… and all-you-can-eat dining halls!)

The Student Union is one of my favorite parts about this campus. It’s a gathering place for everyone during the day, and especially at night. There are couches, a pool table, TVs, and a mini stage for some live entertainment every once in a while. Most importantly, it’s where the bar is (haha)! I think I need to go there more often on nights I find myself sitting in my room with not much to do (kind of like this one acutally). We’ll see!

Other campus facts:

About 8,000 students go here, and the girl to guy ratio is something like 75% to 25% (not in my favor, unfortunately). Campus is 54 acres! It is divided into four “colleges” which are basically sections of campus. I live on the Digby Stuart college and we are the lions, sporting the colors blue and yellow. It’s funny to have intercampus rivalry instead of other rivals outside of this uni. However, two of my classes are on the Frobel college part of campus, which is literally right behind my building so I don’t really understand why they even divided it. The other two colleges are called Whitelands and Southlands. Everyone who lives on the Digby Stuart part of campus likes to occasionally sing a little fight song which basically repeats “I’m Digby til I die!” The beginning of Freshers week had a lot of that singing spirit. Roehampton is really well known for its education and dance programs too.

Here’s a great link to some awesome images of campus, if you’re interested and want to see a little more:

http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Find-US/360-panoramic-gallery/

 

So that’s a little bit about how school is different here. More posts to come about other daily observations!

 

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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!

Richmond Park and More Class

TGIF! I’m so thrilled to not have any class today and sleep in yet again (yes, I LOVE sleep). Since my last post, I’ve been busy with classes and a little exploring around campus. On Tuesday (9/25), Raleigh, Liza, and I went to go check out Richmond Park, a beautiful open area full of pretty vegetation and wild animals, mostly deer! Richmond Park is just a ten minute walk from campus and is the largest Royal Park in London (about 2500 acres). It has a few roads and sidewalk paths that go through it so people can bike, walk, or run around the park without having to worry about stepping in poop (there was a LOT of that). Without really knowing which path to take through the park, we decided to just pick a road and walk down it… hopefully embarking on some food towards the end of the path. The park was bigger even more beautiful that I had imagined. It was just full of open grassy areas and the packs of deer grazing the fields were incredible! There were a lot of people running and biking through the park but I could tell they’ve seen it all before because the park’s beauty didn’t faze them at all, while Raleigh, Liza and I stopped every five minutes to observe the deer or take pictures. We finally made it all the way across one part of the park by the (from the Roehampton Gate to the Richmond Gate) and walked a few more minutes until we came across a little pub and ate there for lunch. This link shows an interactive map of the park so you can get an idea of how big it really is: http://www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park/map-of-richmond-park . I ordered bangers and mash… my first traditional English meal! Bangers and mash is basically like nice sausage links on top of mashed potatoes with some gravy and caramelized onions. Delicious! Liza ordered fish and chips so I also got to try that dish as well… I actually really liked it surprisingly enough (since I don’t like fish I wasn’t so sure about that one). Anyway, our day exploring Richmond Park was very nice and we got some good exercise walking there and back!

Wednesday (9/26… MY HALF BIRTHDAY) I woke up somewhat early and took a trip to Asda (the big, cheap grocery store like Walmart) with Sinead and Laura (flat rep friends). Laura is borrowing her mom’s car and drove us there (something I’m not used to because we take the bus almost everywhere). It was so weird being in a small car driving on the opposite side of the road. I’d be so freaked out to drive around here… people are crazy and so impatient! After my much needed Asda trip, I came back and got ready for the women’s basketball trials (AKA tryouts). It went pretty well but was somewhat frustrating at times when playing with girls who really just cannot play. I was pretty patient with them though and did my best anyway. I just received a text last night telling me I made the team, and practice officially starts on Monday so I’m looking forward to playing with some better talent. After basketball, I met Raleigh and Chelsea for the volleyball taster session and played that for a little while. I felt really bad for the people running it because it was so unorganized and barely anyone there knew how to play. We left early because it just wasn’t what we expected, but at least I got to check it out I guess.

Thursday (9/27) was a day full of sitting in class. I had another (boring) sociology lecture and then two hour seminar, and then an hour for lunch and then Children’s Literature. I actually really enjoyed the lit class because we got to reminisce on our favorite childhood books. I mentioned some of my favorites being the Patricia Polacco books from elementary school, but my professor wasn’t familiar with them (oh well). I am definitely looking forward to that class because it actually seems really interesting and I can’t wait to reread some other childhood favorites like Peter Pan, Alice In Wonderland, and Peter Rabbit and look at them in a new way. After classes, I ordered Chinese with Raleigh and Chelsea to be delivered to campus and we devoured all of it… so worth it!

Today (9/28) I decided to switch out of my sociology class and picked up a linguistics class for my English major that will be only on Mondays so I’m happy about that for next week. I’m taking a trip to Kingston with some of the girls to explore that town, take some pictures, and get some good food for lunch! Tonight is the first official Friday Bop dance on campus and the theme is superheroes… I’ll have to pull together an outfit pretty quickly. More updates and pictures to come soon!

NEW TIMETABLE!

Bangers and mash! YUM.

First Day of Class & Basketball “Taster”

So after some much needed downtime ALL DAY yesterday (Sunday 9/23), I was somewhat well rested for the first day of class at Roehampton today. I only had one sociology lecture from 10-11 am so Mondays will be one of my easiest days (besides Wednesdays and Fridays when I don’t have class)! The class seems like it will be pretty interesting considering I’ve never taken a sociology course before. However, the course has a few components to it and I will be in class for a total of four hours a week just for that one course. I’m now being convinced by my friends to try and switch that one… I’m considering taking a linguistics class instead that will count towards my English major (we’ll see!). Since my last post about finalizing my classes, a few things have changed. The one I was really excited for (Media City & Cultural Capital) has actually gotten cancelled, forcing me to choose a different class instead. So I went to the Media department today and added another interesting class called Travel, Tourism, and the Media which actually seems really cool. And it’s only from 9-11 am on Tuesday mornings (my only class tomorrow)! On Wednesdays I have no class, but something interesting about Wednesdays at this university is that there are little or no classes offered in the afternoon because it is the travel day (or a practice day) for many of the sports teams here. Thursdays are going to be VERY busy for me, though. I have a sociology lecture from 10-11am, then a sociology seminar 11-1, an hour for lunch, and my Children’s Lit class 2-5 pm. Talk about a headache… I’ll let you know how that day goes because I’m pretty sure my brain will explode.

I’m really excited to have Fridays off in order to have a long week to travel somewhere hopefully a few weekends during the term. My friends and I are starting to look for cheap flights to some other places in Europe. Paris, Dublin, Bremen, and Edinburgh are all on my potential travel list. But I’m definitely going to make a huge effort to go visit my roommate, Taylor, who is studying abroad in Salamanca, Spain! My dream is to make it to Rome and Florence, but I’m not sure how feasible that is (especially if I’m trying to save my money).  If anyone has any suggestions on cheap travelling possibilities, PLEASE let me know! 🙂

As for the rest of my day after class… I fixed my schedule and went back to sleep for a while. As of last night, I haven’t been feeling too well (throat and head hurt a little) so I think I may be getting a cold. I’m not too surprised because after that crazy Freshers Week, my immune system probably isn’t the strongest. So I’ve been catching up on almost a whole season of 90210 I missed at school last semester. It’s definitely entertaining when I have downtime.

After napping for a bit, I got ready and went to the “taster session” (open gym) for the women’s basketball team here. I was actually pretty nervous because I haven’t played in a few months and know I’m out of shape to play. However, I turned out to be one of the better ones there. Some girls have barely ever played before, and a lot just didn’t know what they were doing. With that being said, I felt a lot better about my skills (which were a bit rusty for me, but not too bad) when seeing how everyone else played. I could definitely point out the 5 or 6 girls with skill who have played for the team the past few years. I was happy to be playing with a little talent here and there! I was also anxious to see if there were any differences in terms or playing overseas. The captains did a really good job of explaining everything and making everyone feel included which I liked. It was really funny for me to hear so many girls yell out “unlucky” to other girls for encouragement. Whenever someone missed a shot or messed up in some way, they would say “unlucky.” I was so confused at first but then I realized they meant “it’s okay” or “good try.” Still, it was so strange. They also called the pinnies (practice shirts) “bibs.” Overall, it was a good time and I’m glad to be playing a little again. Wednesday afternoon is “trials” (tryouts) so I’ll go to that and see what happens!

After class tomorrow I’m planning on going exploring a little more around the area. Raleigh and I may take a walk to Richmond park, a beautiful area right near campus with deer and other pretty things, or take the bus to a nearby town! The weather has been really crappy and rainy for the past two days, but it looks like it will clear up for tomorrow so I’m excited! More updates to come about a new adventure…

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!