Thanksgiving in England

As I hope you all know, they don’t celebrate Thanksgiving in England. Luckily there are enough Americans here that we can celebrate it anyway. My English friends seemed interested in it too. This year I have so much to be thankful for that I won’t be able to discuss it all here. I’ll attempt to cover the important things, though. I am incredibly thankful that I got to spend a semester in the country I’ve been dreaming of most of my life. I’m thankful that I finally saw London and also got to visit Amsterdam. This has truly been a once in a lifetime experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am thankful for a mom who cares so much about me, worries endlessly, and always tries her hardest to give me what I need. I don’t always tell her but I am thankful for everything she’s done for me. I am thankful that I found a major and career path that suits me and will make me happy. As much as I love learning, I am grateful that graduation is just around the corner. I am thankful for Skype and Facebook for keeping me in contact with my friends back home and allowing me to stay in contact with people I’ve met here. Finally, I am thankful for my friends. All of them. From the friends I barely speak to anymore, the friends I’ve never met, the friends I may never meet, my friends at Eastern, my ex-coworkers, and all the new friends I’ve made, they are all important to me.

Everyone stay safe in this holiday season and remember to be grateful for what you have instead of dwelling over what you don’t have.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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OXFORD

J. J. and I woke up fairly early and went out into the crisp, early air to catch our bus. It was so foggy that we couldn’t see anything out of our windows even if there weren’t trees in our way. The trip went by pretty quickly, it was only a couple hours, and we made it to Oxford in good time. We decided to go to Christ Church first because it had the most Harry Potter related locations. It ended up being closed until 2 that day so that was strike one. Then we tried to go to a museum and it was closed all day so that was strike two. At that point we gave up slightly and went to the Covered Market. It was a very cool place like a High Street only indoors. It was sort of like a flea market except everyone had their own separate, enclosed stores. J. J. and I were entranced by the beautiful dresses in one shop. I found myself wishing I had a place like that when I was going to Homecoming and Prom. After the Covered Market it was getting to be around lunch time so we decided to find The Eagle and Child Pub. A Nerdfighter suggested it because J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis used to go there. Of course, that had me sold and luckily J. J. thought it would be cool too. It was a small and busy place. There was a plaque that we guessed was where they usually sat but there were people sitting there. There were Hobbit posters and Lord of the Rings merchandise and the bathroom was called Narnia. The menus had information on The Inklings, a literary group, and boasted that Tolkien and Lewis used to go there.

Eagle and Child

I ate Scampi and Chips which was really good and J. J. had Macaroni and Cheese which was also really good. We left satisfied and started our quest again, rejuvenated.

There was a museum close to the pub so we decided to go there next. It was a free museum and it turned out to be huge. It was an Art and Archeology museum and we only looked on two of the floors. It was the type of museum you could spend a whole day in, or at least half a day. We couldn’t stay long, though, because we had other places to see. We went off to New College so we could actually see some Harry Potter stuff. Apparently the entrance to New College is not on New College Lane as you might expect. The city surrounds its roads with walls so if you don’t know where the entrances are, good luck. This was strike three so we kind of struck out. We were just about to give up but instead started walking on the street behind New College and that where we found the entrance! There was a sign outside that said “No Public Access” but there were people going in and coming out. We decided to go in and felt like we were sneaking in somewhere we weren’t supposed to be. We were searching for where Malfoy got turned into a ferret in Goblet of Fire but we didn’t know exactly where it was. We wandered into some courtyards and found a staircase to nowhere. I’m really curious where those stairs lead but there was a sign that said to keep off the grass (except the benches were in the grass…).

Stairway to Nowhere

We found another courtyard and J. J. saw it first. We instantly knew that we had found the place and sped up to see, sneaking around the corner. It is a beautiful place and I understand why they shot there. Malfoy ferret

After we were finally successful, we went to find a museum that might have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley. The verdict: it probably wasn’t but it was really cool anyway. We went on a detour to find it because it wasn’t where the map said and the entrance was in some obscure place again. We were walking across the grass and there were huge puddles I was avoiding when I noticed they seemed very patterned. Turns out they were dinosaur footprints!

Dinosaurs

That confirmed that the museum would be cool before we walked in. It was a large space with high ceilings and exhibits scattered everywhere. There were bones, animals, and rare stones. There were clothes, weapons, and instruments from a long time ago. It was more fun to look at while the other museum was more educational. It was sort of connected to another museum which was like a maze and was a lot smaller. We went in a curtain with glowing rocks which was really cool but hard to breathe in. At this point it was past two so we went to return to Christ Church but stopped in a giant bookstore and cafe to use the bathroom. There were so many stairs, it was crazy.

We finally made our way back to Christ Church and actually got in (even though we had to pay). The first thing we saw when we got in was the staircase. It was in Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone and Chamber of Secrets. McGonagall greeted the First Years there, Filch caught Ron and Harry when they crashed the car, and Tom Riddle was standing there in his memory. we weren’t allowed to go up the stairs because the Great Hall was closed and there was a guy standing in front of them.

Staircase

We passed the stairs and went to look at the rest of the church. The courtyards looked like Hogwarts, as a lot of places in Britain do. We found a wall that could’ve been where James’s badge was, I don’t know for sure though. We circled back to the staircase eventually and the guy wasn’t there anymore. Two girls were coming down the stairs and they told us we could go up them (in a very mischievous manner). We glanced around and tentatively went up the stairs. We were only brave enough to stand on the first landing but I felt like a Marauder at Hogwarts. It was quite a wonderful feeling. “It’s kind of fun isn’t it…..breaking the rules.” Hermione has a point. We sat outside the library for a little while to rest before ending our adventure. We decided we didn’t have enough time for another museum so we stopped in Nero Cafe to get drinks and snacks. Then we went to wait for the bus (it was late) and made our way back to Winchester. I wasn’t feeling well on the way back but Oxford was well worth the trip. Oxford, I hope we meet again.

Next stop: Amsterdam

Stonehenge and Salisbury

I gave in and decided to buy a ticket to Stonehenge because it would probably be more expensive to go on my own and I probably would never have gotten around to it. As several of my friends here warned, it was just a a pile of rocks. But that doesn’t mean I regret going. We all knew it was going to be a pile of rocks but it’s still something we all wanted to do. It’s just like seeing monuments in Washington D. C. or the ball dropping at New Years. You see it and then there’s a feeling of “now what?”. They gave us walkie talkies which we used for information as we walked around the stones and it helped us to avoid the “now what” feeling. They had a lot of information (I didn’t listen to all of it) on what it might have been when it was built and how it was built (no, it wasn’t aliens). It seemed like such a waste of time to build something like that but I suppose it gives tourists something to do. There were houses before you get to the stones that people back then would have lived in. In one of them people were roasting marshmallows and I thought that was a little out of the ordinary. It seemed like a cute little village, though they probably got pretty cold. After the houses we checked out the gift shop. They had Stonehenge everything! It was entertaining to see all the Stonehenge-themed souvenirs. They had Stonehenge Monopoly, little figurines, jewelry, different sizes of stuffed sheep (did I mention how many sheep there were?), sheep “droppings”, and even Stonehenge tissues! With a little time to spare we went to the exhibit. We walked in and stood in the middle of a holographic Stonehenge going through the seasons. It was beautiful and mesmerizing. They had more information and artifacts throughout the exhibit and I think it was a nice addition.

Stonehenge and MeStonehenge SheepStonehenge HousesInside Stonehenge Houses

After Stonehenge we went to Salisbury. We were running late so we didn’t get to view the Magna Carta but they were selling replicas in the gift shop so I think got the gist of it. The Cathedral was beautiful and expansive and we got to explore quite a bit. The choir was playing so we listened to that for a bit and I even got a short recording. There were different chapels within the Cathedral named after important people and the floor showed who was buried there and information about them. We went outside around this beautiful courtyard and it was just magical to me. I could imagine myself going out there to read or stargaze. I would love to spend more time there. The Cathedral closed a short while after we got there so we went to explore the town with our leftover time. That’s where I finally found a telephone box (and JJ got to pet some dogs). After we were satisfied we wandered onto their High Street. I wish we had a High Street somewhere near me, I would love to spend my free time in a place like that. They have all your essentials and a nice small town feel even if they’re not so small. A lot of the stores were closing but window shopping is always interesting. Overall, it was a good trip and I’m glad I went.

Telephone box in SalisburySalisbury CathedralStonehenge Courtyard

Sorry it’s been so long since my last post, I’ve been getting ahead with schoolwork. Hopefully I get to Oxford soon. I have been writing blogs, just need to type them up and post them.

London!!!

Hello my friends,

As you may know, I took my first trip to London a couple weeks ago and I’m sure you’d like to hear more about it. I was in London for a while when I got here but Heathrow London is not London London. Airport terminals, shuttles, and train stations are very unexciting, especially when you’re alone. So this blog post will be about my trip to London.

We had to get up super early to get on the bus (without breakfast!) and then ride on the bus for a long time to get there but it was totally worth it when we finally arrived.  First we got a tour of London with all the major places: Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, The London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square etc. We were just walking along, looking around and I look up and there’s Big Ben!!! Big Ben

It’s hard to see in that picture but it’s one of the first pictures I took of it!! I’ve grown up seeing Big Ben on TV, in movies, and in magazines and I’m so glad that I finally got to see it in person. I just love cool old buildings.

Here’s a picture of Big Ben and the London Eye.

Big Ben plus Eye

And the London Eye itself. London Eye

Trafalgar Square

Trafalgar Square

This is where the tour ended and we were sent on our own. My friends and I had already decided where we were going but we needed food first (remember, no breakfast) so I got something from Starbucks and then we went to Chinatown. We found this tiny restaurant where we had to go up tons of stairs and sit in a corner which was kind of weird and cool at the same time. I tried duck for the first time and it was very good.

Then, full of food, we went on our way.

This is where this post gets really nerdy.

We got on the tube to go to King’s Cross!! Speaking of the tube, everyone kept telling me how hard the tube is to figure out. It’s really not that hard. It actually makes a lot of sense, and it’s colo(u)r coded. So anyway, we got to our stop easily and here is the outside of the station that they used in Harry Potter!!! Outside King's Cross

Remember the car flying over this? But this isn’t the station because movie magic. Google took us to the back of King’s Cross because that’s helpful so we had to turn around and go in the front which we had walked right past.  So here’s the inside.

Inside Kings Cross

And then we went to do what I had been waiting to do since I found out it was a thing you could do: went to Platform 9 3/4!  In case you’re not a Harry Potter fan and don’t understand the significance of this, let me explain for you. Platform 9 3/4 is the platform witches and wizards use to take the train to Hogwarts every year. So many fans traveled to Kings Cross to find it that they put a sign up for it and later moved it to a place out of the way.  Now there’s a place for people to stand in line, people whose job is to give you props and take pictures (my dream job), and a shop where you can buy merchandise and pictures! They actually had scarves from every house so I got to wear a Ravenclaw scarf in my picture! Going to Hogwarts Going to Hogwarts together

This was by far my favorite part of the trip. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here without Harry Potter so I had to do this and I’m so grateful I had people willing to go with me.

After that adventure, we got back on the tube to go to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. The Tower of London is very cool, though not very towery, and it was fun to see even though we didn’t have time to go in.

Tower of London

This picture is part of the tower and the flowers are a memorial that is not finished yet. Then we went to the other side of the tower and saw the Tower Bridge.

Tower Bridge

That was all we had time for and we had to rush back to the bus because we were running late.

It was wonderful to finally see the city I’ve claimed to be my favorite in the world for so many years. I hope it’s the first of many awesome trips I’ll take. I can’t wait to return.

See you next time.

Lindsey

New Friends and Settling In

Hello!

I feel like I’ve been here for months but it’s only been two weeks. I’m struggling to be optimistic when my  luggage still hasn’t arrived but United still thinks they will find it so keep your fingers crossed.

Last week I made tons of friends and I’m still meeting more people. Everyone is so nice and eager to get to know each other. I know it will be hard to say goodbye when the time comes but I’ll make the most of it while I can. We don’t have a common area in Alwyn so we’ve gathered on the steps outside, at Cyber Italia (pizza!), in rooms, and in the hallway. I’ve met a lot of the international students and look forward to more activities with them. I went to a Rotaract meeting and a Book Club meeting and went to a few movies so maybe I’ll get involved with some things. It’s nice living right on campus for once because it’s easier to meet people and learn about events. Alwyn

A group of people in my hall

This week I started classes. I’m taking classes in English Literature, Media Studies, History, and Sociology. I’m not particularly interested in any of my classes but I’ll be alright. It has made me realize that I definitely picked the right major because I miss my Psychology classes. After this semester, though, I’ll be done with classes outside my area! The format of the classes is very different and it’s going to take a lot of work but I know I can do it. I didn’t decide to study abroad to not be challenged!

My next post will be about my London trip so keep following!

Lindsey

Cancellations, Lost Luggage, and So Many People

Hello again,

I finally have the time for this today! It’s been the craziest five days of my life (including LeakyCon) but it feels like I’ve been here much longer. I won’t go into the full story of my trip here because I could write 20 pages of that. I’ll give you the short version though. I got to Indianapolis early and figured out where I was supposed to be just fine and I was there for a little bit when they said the flight was delayed and a little while after that it was cancelled completely (a staffing issue or something). So yay, imagine how I felt then, but I didn’t panic. Finally I talked to the flight attendant and they had put me on a flight to Newark that was also delayed so I got on that plane right away. They sent my luggage to Newark and now they have no idea where it is. They said it arrived there but where it went from there, no one knows.

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The sunset and the best picture of the super moon I could get without turning flash on.

United got me a hotel for the night (as they should have) but I only got about two hours of sleep before I had to leave for Heathrow.Then I got on the flight to Heathrow hoping my luggage would be there when I was. It was a very long flight and I couldn’t sleep but I watched parts of Days of Future Past three times, finished The Giver, and started on Looking for Alaska. I finally got to Heathrow and after walking a mile, I got through customs and my luggage wasn’t there.

The money! It’s so cool!

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So then I went to figure out how I was going to get to Winchester from there. It was there in the middle of the night so I didn’t have many options but I ended up waiting until 6 am to leave. Everyone kept telling me I could sleep in the airport, didn’t happen. In the morning, I got on a train to one town (if I had stayed on, I would’ve ended up in King’s Cross!), and then got a train to Waterloo. When I got to Waterloo I was completely lost. I got a ticket to Winchester but I had to      get on a train to another town, then a bus to Basingstoke, and then another train to Winchester. I finally made it there and got directions to the University and had to walk up giant hills with all my luggage. It was warm and beautiful but a lot of walking. I finally made it to my dorm, got my keys, dropped my stuff off, and met some people in my hall. Now it’s Tuesday and I still don’t have my luggage. I’ve met so many people in the last few days (still working on names) but I will make a separate post about that so stay tuned.

Cheers!

~Lindsey~

And my journey begins

Hello everyone!

Today is finally that day. I will be leaving this afternoon to catch my connecting flight in Washington D. C. and then to London! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t afraid but that’s never stopped me before and now there’s no going back. The people at the University of Winchester have helped me feel at home already and I’m sure I’ll feel the same when I arrive. I already signed up for a day in London next weekend with the university and I can’t wait to see everything I’ve always wanted to see. I’m so excited and grateful to take this next step in my life and I know I will not be the same when I return. I am thrilled to meet new people and have a better understanding of the world. I can’t wait to see where this journey takes me.

Next time I post I will be in England and I’m sure I’ll have much more to say (and pictures to show!).

Thank you for reading my blog!

~Lindsey~

"It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live." Join me as I live my dream to study abroad in England.