Monday, April 29, 2013

For Aleisha, In Loving Memory

Today, I'm dedicating this post to my friend Aleisha Derham, part of my London family, who suddenly passed away this past week while she was visiting London on holiday.  Aleisha was one of the first people I met in the fall, and was my neighbor in De Marillac. I remember one of the first conversations we had. I asked her if she liked Harry Potter, and she told me, "Yeah! Who doesn't??" and we became friends. We made one of our first journeys to the Harry Potter studio tour. From that day on, we would enjoy many trips to London, the Ref, the George, and of course Kingston for shopping! She was the baby of the group, and I think we all felt a little protective of her.  She would come in to my room when she wasn't feeling well, and I would give her toast and medicine. I'll always remember how indecisive she was in deciding what to wear, and how she would wear shorts when it was freezing outside. I'll remember her love of jumpers, especially her "Pow!" jumper, and her purple Converse shoes. She loved England, the Spice Girls, and TopShop, and she loved to be around people and have a good time. She was my little Aussie, and I am absolutely heartbroken that she is gone. It doesn't feel real, and I hate that we are all so far away. Aleisha was one of the most fun-loving, silly, and beautiful people I've ever met, and it was truly a blessing to have known her, for however short of a time. She will be loved, missed, and remembered by all of us forever.

"Whatever happens tomorrow, we've had today" - I couldn't say it better myself, Leish.
Rest in Peace, baby girl. We all love you, and will see you soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I Need Your Help!

Hello Followers!
I'm in need of assistance.  I am trying to pick out some photos to submit to the "Around the World" Photo Contest at Ambrose.  Since I have like 654325 some pictures and little to no time to look at them all and decide, I am asking for some help.  If you followed me and my pictures on Facebook, tell me/comment on some of your favs! Then I can hopefully narrow it down some, and I can know which ones you liked! :)  If you need a refresher, all my study abroad photos are on my Facebook page and organized into albums here. It can come from any album from this past fall! The categories I can enter in are as follows: Nature, Architecture, People/Portrait, Capturing Diversity, Women/Family, and Creative/Artistic.
Thank you guys so much for your help and for following my adventures! It would really help a busy and indecisive girl out! :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Leaving London

I wrote this on the plane ride back...
Today I left a city that I have come to call my home these last three months.  I am very sad to be leaving so soon.  I didn’t get to bed until late last night, between saying goodbye to friends, packing, and making sure I had everything ready.  I think I slept maybe 3-4 hours total, but I didn’t expect to sleep much anyway.  I managed to get up and get all my stuff down two flights of stairs by myself, and was very thankful that my cab was able to come to the front door of my building.  I left St. Mary’s in the dark and we headed to the airport.  London decided to give me a proper send off weather: drizzling rain.  I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.  I had some breakfast at Pret A Manger (I’m really going to miss that place!) before heading through security.  Then I had to sit in the terminal for an hour waiting for my gate to be posted.  I grabbed some Starbucks and looked around at some of the shops, trying to find something to spend my last few pounds on.  But all I could afford were postcards!  I boarded the plane and was all ready to leave when the captain came on and announced that they were having some problems with the engine. So we had to pull back in to the gate to get it checked out.  So we were delayed in landing by over an hour, and we just had to sit on the plane and wait (as if I won’t be on here long enough!).  But I am glad that I don’t have to catch a connecting flight when I get to Chicago.
On my last few days, I took trips to some of my favorite places.  Tuesday after my exam, I went in to Twickenham to have coffee at the new coffee shop Harris and Hoole.  It was quite charming.  Then I took a stroll over to Eel Pie Island to try and find the trampoline (I didn’t find it, but I did get some great pictures!).  On Wednesday, I did most of my packing and then went to Richmond to have tea at the Tea Box.  Then on Thursday, a few of my friends joined me and we went to Primark in Kingston and went in to central London for a bit, to see Big Ben and the London Eye one last time.  I spent the rest of the night hanging out with my friends and saying goodbye.
This semester has been one of the best of my life.  I have learned so much about myself and about the world.  I met some many great people here and made so many new friends.  London is such an incredible city.  I can barely comprehend how much history it contains, and there are endless things to do.  I love the feel of the city.  Even though it is massive, it still has a small town feel.
I can’t even put in to words what I’m feeling right now.  I feel like I’m caught between worlds.  Part of me is happy to go home, but I am also really upset about leaving.  Going back home is going to be so weird now.  

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Mumford and Sons!

Mumford and Sons deserve their own post, because the concert I just went to was AH-MAZING!  I seriously love them so much, and I am so happy that whenever I listen to their album Babel, I will think of my time in London, since I have listened to it on repeat since the day it came out.  Seeing them in concert again was a dream come true.  It was a little different than last time.  For one, I was in the 4th tier rather than close to the stage on the ground, but it gave me a different perspective.  They played all of my favorite songs, and even sang one song (not on their album) completely a Capella.  It was so awesome.  This show was the largest indoor show they have ever played, and it was in their hometown of London.  I am so glad that I spent money on this show.  I thought I was going to cry I was so happy and excited.  Then again, I expect that I will be overly emotion these last few days in London.  I really don't want to leave! But basically, I love Mumford & Sons, like, a whole lot, and seeing them live tonite with friends was the best way to end the semester. <3

And I'm Finished with My Undergrad!

After my exam this morning, I am officially done with my undergrad.  I graduate on Saturday!  It's so weird to think about.  But at least I'm not going into the 'real world' so to speak yet.  There is those fun 3 years of grad school and being even more broke... yay!
But I just have to comment on my exam experience here.  It was like in Harry Potter.  There were 5 or 6 classes all in one big room (the Tennis Hall, like a gym) with desks lined up and marked with a grid.  You had an assigned seat (I was at least in the front of the room).  But I have never taken a test with so many people before! It was also the first time I've taken a test that used a blue book (we're not that fancy at Ambrose I guess). It was very strange.  But I finished my exam in plenty of time, and now I'm free for real!  I just have to turn in some hard copies of my papers today, and then I get to go see Mumford and Sons tonite! I am really excited for that.  Then hopefully I can live it up the next few days before I have to head home on Friday.  I also have to pack yet, and I'm not looking forward to it.  I'm also not looking forward to leaving at 6:45 am to get to the airport on time.  Time here has just gone way too fast!  I can't believe it's time to leave already.  I am so sad! I am going to miss London and all of my friends here so much.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Last Weekend

Friday: This time next week I will be back in the States!  But I am really sad to be leaving London...  I went in by myself today and explored.  I went to Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree and then walked around the National Gallery a bit.  Saw some Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir, da Vinci, etc.  There was a lot to see!  After that I went down to Covent Garden to see the Christmas decorations and look around the shops.  I bought a cute tea cup from the Tea Palace and some Union Jack flip-gloves from the market.  It's so fun with the market and the shops, not to mention all of the performers.  I came back after that to avoid rush hour, but it still took me a while to get home.  It was a beautiful day, without a cloud in the sky most of the afternoon.  It got a little chilly after the sun went down, and walking home from Twickenham, I couldn't feel my toes.  Tonight I'm going to hang out with my friends and watch Pitch Perfect!

Saturday:  Today I went in to London with my friends, and we hit up Camden Town Markets again.  It was Saturday and busy again.  But I did get some fried-Oreos, which were delicious!  Then we started off in search of Abbey Road, which only took us about 2 hours and one wrong turn to find!  (it was cold and a LOT of walking!)  After that we caught a train to Soho.  We were hoping to go people watching and maybe see a celebrity, but it was late by the time we got there and we didn't end up doing much of anything other than walking around.  From there we walked down to Trafalgar Square to see the Christmas tree, and then on down to Festival Pier to check out the Christmas Market.  After a long day of walking, we caught the train back home after grabbing a sandwich at the train station for dinner.  After much convincing, I got a few of my friends to go out with me and some other study abroad students to the George for my friend Patrick's birthday.  It was a lot of fun!  Our group of mostly Americans pretty much took over the pub, and we danced the night away.  It was good to hang out with all of my fellow internationals, and I am really going to miss it!  I have met so many cool people here, and this may be my last time seeing them.  It really is sad!

Sunday:  Today I took it easy, since I was so sore from all the walking yesterday, and had gotten in late the night before.  After brunch, a few of us walked in to Twick-city to run some errands.  Afterwards I watched more Downton Abbey and just relaxing.  After dinner, we had our group Secret Santa Party.  It was a good time, and my person LOVED her present!  We all had a lot of fun with it.  I got a Christmas Starbucks mug with some coffee and candy canes :).  After we had all opened our gifts and guessed our Secret Santas, we watched How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Overall, not a bad weekend, and I have spent it with all of my favorite people here :).

Friday, December 7, 2012

Coursework is Done! Now What?

Today (I wrote this on Tuesday), I finished my last paper of my semester here at SMUC (St. Mary's University College), but also my last paper of my UNDERGRAD. I can't believe I'm graduating already! This semester has just felt like one big, summer break (minus the weather), and I feel like I should be going back to Ambrose in the spring.  But I'm not! I'm not even going back to Davenport. I'm on to a whole new adventure in St. Louis! After this semester, I feel prepared (and ready) to tackle a new city, though I'm not much looking forward to the whole being a grown-up thing. (ew).  But now that all my papers are done, I'm not quite sure what to do with myself.  All of my friends are busy doing homework, so I have no one to hang out with really! I have 3 classes left (which will be pretty pointless anyway) and hopefully my friends will be freed up enough by the weekend to live it up for our last weekend together.  I may try and go explore some of my favorite places by myself this week if I can, as long as the weather isn't too awful! It has been rather chilly here, and I do not appreciate it, especially because it is so nice at home! If all else fails, I suppose I will have to find something to do in my room to pass the time: packing, sleeping, reading HP, catching up on shows (I started watching Downton Abbey last night in the spirit of British TV), watching movies.... oh yeah, and I guess I could start looking up stuff for January. Like a place to live, a roommate, finances, all that good stuff.  And I figure I should start reviewing some anatomy and science-like things before I start school, especially since I haven't done anything science-related since May. But we'll see how far I get on that... In other news, I also have to think about Christmas coming up! It just never ends, does it?
I realize that this has been a very random and scattered rant, but let's face it, my brain is a little scattered after all of that work I just finished.  Not to mention my eyesight. I think I'm going cross-eyed from staring at the computer screen, and my eye is still twitching.
Now that things are dying down, I am getting really sad about leaving.  Sure I am excited to be home in my own (comfortable) bed and see my family, friends, and animals (and my new car!), but I am really going to miss London.  I have come to think of it as home, and there is still so much of it I haven't explored.  And I never got to visit Scotland or Ireland, and I really regret that.  I guess that means I have an excuse to come back! I will come back, someday.