Friday, January 29, 2010

What is sleeping until 10:30?

Good morning to all my faithful readers. It is currently 10:50 GMT and I have only just woken up. Which typically is only somewhat exciting but on this morning is fantastic! Why you ask? Because I do not currently remember the last time I slept past 8:15, let alone 10. However, I somewhat think this must be a reflection on just how much I've been doing. Thoughts...anyone?

This past week was our first week of classes and work. I'm slowly understanding why Dave once told me after a long week, or day, of work, he feels compelled to drink. I, on the other hand, feel compelled to both eat and drink, but maybe that's just cause I stare at and think about food all day long. I'm working at The Impact Agency, a marketing and public relationships companies which specializes in the food and beverage industry. So what did I do from 9:30 to 6 Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays?

Drank TEA.

See when I came to London, I expected to drink a lot of tea, and I already do that. But when I walked in on Tuesday morning and was handed the companies "10 Commandments," I knew I was in for A LOT of tea when commandment number 10 read "Drink TEA - and make it for others." And they do just that. Before I'm even able to complete my glass someone surely comes over, "more tea?"

But that's not all I'm doing. I'm reading British newspapers for food and beverage related news, I will admit the London Times' Dining Section does not even stand up to The New York Times' or even The Globe's. (Side Note: I know they criticize us for our ego-centricness, I'm not sure if that's a word, but I find their papers to have even less international news than ours. There was no mention of the State of the Union Address! The entire first section of the Times contains International News!) I'm also reading periodicals to see where food comes in to consumer magazines. I'm brainstorming ideas with them. I'm learning about their industries. I'm searching magazines features to find potential slots for our products (Jazz Apples, Macadamia Nuts, Gold Top Dairy Products, Goose Fat???) While I haven't done much, It's been very interesting and I'm definitely learning.

P.S. Check out this site
http://www.youtube.com/user/JazzAppleRecords

In unrelated news, our internet here at Palace Court is horrendous, which is why I apologize for not updating my photos more frequently. Photos from Paris & more from London are on their way, I promise!

Monday, January 25, 2010

It may not be sunny but London is definitely looking up

Hellooo from Cloudy London!

PARIS: Was wonderful. To quickly recap: In 2 days, we went to the Louvre (and took lots of inappropriate pictures with portraits & sculptures...pictures on the way!), The Opera House & Shopping (got a great pair of leather boots), The Arc du Triomphe, Street Crepes (avec sucre was my favorite), The Eiffel Tower, Musee D'Orsay, Notre Dame & Saint Chapelle. We then spent Saturday evening at the River Cafe. Barb got us the reservation and thank you to her! It might have been the most amazing meal of my life...Hannah even offered to marry Dave if she keeps sending us to restaurants like that (god knows how much Barb will love that). For 36 euros, cheap by Paris standards, we had 3 course meals, and beautiful presentation! I had the most delicious shrimp and avocado mousse followed by duck w/ beet sauce & AMAZING CHESTNUT POLENTA then followed my exotic fruit salad. Dont worry, there are pictures of that too! Then we were back by 11 am London time on Sunday morning, leaving plenty of time to grocery shop (I underestimated the prepared foods section last time), pick up my stain free dry cleaning, purchase some books and notebooks and do laundry (which took about 10x in the dryer--I think I may be looking into London's version of Lazybones. And I'm already missing Croissants for Breakfast.

Started classes today: I had a 9:30 London: Space, Place & Culture in the Metropolis, which meant I was up by 7:45, actually 7:15 cause Becky, my roommate, had set her alarm wrong. That was a little stressful thinking I overslept. The class, however, was interesting. It's sounding like it's going to be an easy semester. However, based on my professors looks, I might be seeking extra help. Avery & I then went to Whole Foods, where I found Soy Nuggets and more delicious soup. Did I mention prepared soups in London are amazing? Which, of course, is even better because London weather just ASKS me to eat soup! Then we returned to Cath Kidston, where I've found more things to purchase, and this very cute shopping area, which I will be returning to. Then we had Writers' London from 6-9. And home by 9:45...did I mention I start work at 9:30 tomorrow morning?

So anyway, sorry for the brief update, figure its better than nothing!!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Beginning to let go of mom's hand

For those of you who don't know me, although I have no idea why you'd be reading this...I'm really not that interesting!, I've been attached to my mother's hip since I was born. Even to this day, she continues to do far too much for me: making my phone calls, running my errands, making my appointments, chauffeuring me places, picking out my outfits, talking me through problems and much more. And for that reason, I decided I wanted to take my time abroad as an opportunity to become more independent. However, with so much going on, London has definitely been a challenge so far. 

Going to college so far away from home, which many people were sure I would never survive, slowly acclimated me to life on my own. I learned to fend for myself a little more: running my own errands, cooking my own meals (although Barb preferred picking up my meals), "doing" my own laundry, putting away my clothes, making my own bed...life at home was prettty easy. While I did do all these things, some of them even better than my mom, cooking & folding at least, I wouldn't say I did them without help. There are constant phone calls home to ask endless questions and solve my problems, and make my appointments for when I come home for break. 

However, at school, things were made easier by one-stop-shops where I can find anything and everything I might want and need. London, on the other hand, has no such thing. I'm quickly learning to appreciate Target for its ingeniousness, a place where you can literally find just about anything. London on the other hand, has no such thing. I find myself wandering into a million different shops looking for the same thing and sometimes have no idea where I can even find something. Yesterday, freak out number 3209823 occurred: the flowers stained my sweater. Do you have any idea how hard it is to figure out how to deal with that? I googled and went to a dry cleaner, which was boarded up. I had to go into 3 different stores looking for stain stick remover. Tried using the remover, which failed. Then resigned when I heard the boys in my building found a dry cleaner, I dropped the sweater off this morning.

So I think after almost 2 weeks of being in London, I'm slowly beginning to become more independent. Even took the tube all by myself yesterday!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Will I be eating for the next 4 months?

Let me preface this by telling you about my feelings on grocery shopping, which by the way, are all positive. It may quite possibly be the root of why I would like to work in the food industry. Growing up, I spent Sunday mornings going grocery shopping with my father. At school, I do it at least once a week and whenever I'm home I seem to be constantly finding reasons to go and buy something. I try and go to obscure ones like the Asian one in Lawrence or Greek one in Lowell, or wherever that one is. It's always been a place to de-stress.

My first experience grocery shopping in London was anything but a de-stresser. In fact, I called my mother in the middle of it to announce I would NOT be eating for the next 4 months. Mind you, I did walk in with a list, which I had carefully thought about assuming what they may or may not have and what I typically make. Please keep in mind the following: 1. I love to cook 2. I typically use a lot of fresh vegetables and eat a lot of fruit 3. I'm lactose intolerant so constantly checking and reading every label. I checked the communal cupboard, equipped with some spices, cooking spray, sauces, ziplock bags, etc, anything that students from the past left behind. So, my list included seemingly simple things: Yogurt, Granola Bars, Popcorn, Snacks, Soy Nuggets (I know, not simple), Veggie Burgers, Frozen Shrimp, Veggies, Tea, Lemon Juice, etc.

I tried to keep it simple...and the grocery store was anything but simple. Within a minute of walking in, I was lost. As I went through aisle by aisle, instead of my usual contentness and, I guess, joy, each aisle led to more and more stress. I had no idea where to find anything, what to get and what I was going to eat for the next month. And why are on earth are eggs not refrigerator?

So after about an hour, I had finally given up. Exhausted, Frustrated, Confused and Concerned, I was ready to go home. I had found a variety of food that wasn't on my list to replace those that were and some, although very little, that were. Fresh fruit, yogurt (which by the way comes in unbelievable flavors--rhubarb is so far my favorite), pre-made stir fry veggies and A LOT of soup. So I guess I'll find a way to get by, sub my usual lifestyle, although I do love a good bowl of soup any day,...or maybe a trip to Whole Foods, which is apparently a 10 minute walk away : ) 

So in conclusion, suggestions on food are VERY MUCH welcome! 
Off to Paris for the weekend, where I'm sure I'll have no problem finding something to eat!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Unfortunately Jude Law doesn't live in Surrey

But Julie & Jim do...This past weekend, or better yet day, was our homestay. And oh, what a day it was.

Let me preface this with the actual information we received prior to leaving for homestay. On Wednesday afternoon, we were told where and when we were going. The interns were divided into two different places: Wolking & Chertsey (which by the way, is NOT pronounced KURT-SEY, like they had told us, but actually as it sounds, CHERT-SEY. Both of which are located in Surrey. Thus, I immediately started thinking of the Holiday and was very excited. We were to leave on Friday at 5:45 and arrive in Wolking at 9:00 and Chertsey at 9:30. I left our meeting quite concerned that I did not know anyone going to my town, Chertsey, and did not know who, if anyone, would be in the same home as me.

That brings us to Friday afternoon when I quickly packed up and was ready to go by 5:30. When I walked downstairs, I FINALLY received my package, flowers from mom & dad (THANK YOU!) for my birthday. Thanks to Arcadia for finding an effective way of letting me know there were perishables waiting for me. So I quickly had to run up the 6 FLIGHTS of stairs to bring my flowers to my bedroom, where I realized I had nothing to put them in so I chucked them in the sink and left...fingers crossed they wouldn't die before I returned on Sunday. After registering in the morning (updates later when I even know the outcome), this day was not off to a good start.

Back downstairs, my bus quickly came and left...only to quickly stop to grab the two kids we forgot. Then a stop at Redcliffe Gardens to pick up more students, where the other bus leader, a randomly selected student, got on board to list the students she was missing, who all happened to be the students waiting at Palace Court...very smart move by Arcadia number 2. However, we were then on our way. Expecting a three hour drive, we were shocked when within an hour and a half, an hour of which was spent getting out of London, we arrived at Wolking to drop off a few students who had gotten on our bus. So at approximately 7, we left 10 students in a dark parking lot, smart move by Arcadia number 3. 10 minutes later, 2 1/2 hours early, we arrived at Chertsey and were called off the bus, missing many of the students who needed to be there. I'm sure you know what's coming next, SMA number 4. Students were jumbled into different homes then assigned and luckily I found the person, Amy, who was living with me and our new dad was there to pick us up!

So Amy and I went to our new home, had some dinner, watched She's the Man and talked with our new parents, Julie & Jim. In bed by 12 and up by 9, the entire group, both towns, spent the day at Winsor, touring the Castle, Eton & the town itself. The Castle itself was gorgeous and very fun to explore. I'm now dying to read my book, Lady Elizabeth and watch Elizabeth, The Queen, and all British movies of the sort. And the people who work there were so helpful, I think we may have asked them a million questions about the monarchy! We then spent the remaining time eating Fish & Chips (my first time in England--did you know they aren't strips in England but instead one large piece? and thumbs up for Mushy Peas! and what is a Spotted Dick or Bubbles & Squeek??) and shopping in Winsor. Don't worry guys: I found a new favorite store: Cath Kidston (sorry Eric!). Seems kind of like a British Vera Bradley and yes, there are multiple stores located in London, some even near our flat & my office! I'm already waiting for a cute messenger bag to go on sale!

We then went home for dinner, Julie made a recipe from an American BBQ cookbook I got her, and watched TV (mostly American shows), listened to Music (Jim downloaded Guster), & learned about eachother's lives. Amy and I had a lot in common (orthopedic surgeon fathers, siblings at NU, etc) and surprisingly, Jim & Julie do a lot of the same thing as my parents, play loud music too early in the am, watch all different kinds of TV shows, own a lot of movies, etc., etc. (Although, I'm not sure I would ever put the four of them together and I'd take my own any day!) Then we needed to be up and out of the door by 9 am to get back to London. Quite a short weekend of how much of a big deal Arcadia seemed to make it...seeing as we barely spent time with our families, hopefully that 1000-3000 page paper isn't what they made it out to be as well!

Off to the grocery store, which I'm sure will be entertaining/stressful/nerve-racking & more!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The British Accents are beginning to wear off

...No They Aren't.

Well I've now been in London for 3 days and I'm beginning to get into the swing of things...believe it or not! I won't lie, it was certainly an adjustment and I'm still falling asleep in the middle of meetings and plays...oops!

A Quick Recap, embedded with some entertainment, I hope!

4:45 Sunday afternoon, after lunch with Barb & Eric and a depressing Patriots game, we left Dave in Allston and headed to Logan. With shake-y hands, I boarded my flight and found my seat, on a rather larger plane. I took my aisle seat next to a woman who spoke very little English and enjoyed the sound of the flight attendants speaking to passengers and each other. I knew I was going to like it when I saw the tray table had "whilst," one of my favorite words, written on it. However, the 6 hour flight was going smoothly up until the point I fell asleep and lost my DVD case, which I continued to freak out about, tears included--breakdown number 1, until we were taxing and the nice man next to me found it under his seat. With customs questions about where and what I was studying and dragging my 2 extremely large bags on to a cart (which by the way, still didn't make it much easier), I was off headed for "The Meeting Spot." And what a spot it was...I didn't realize until I got there that there actually was a meeting spot. Anyway, so I found my group and was off to 11 Palace Court, my home for the next 4 months. Lucky me, got to climb the 6 flights of stairs to my room, with my 2 large bags. My GR (Graduate Resident), Philip, who, by the way, is like something out of a movie, helped me carry them all up the stairs to the top floor. The room was surprisingly large--the only double in the building, high ceilings, with 3 rather large closets, 2 beds, 2 desks, a mirror and a sink. My clothes even fit in the room--shocking I know!!

Then I spent the rest of the day running errands (Boots for Toiletries, Tesco for Water, Marks & Spencers for Sheets & Towels, etc), then exhausted was out by 9 p.m...only to wake up 2 hours later completely jet lagged. This of course, did not help my adjustment and lead to breakdown number 2, stay tuned, I'm sure there will be more. Not being able to sleep and exhaustion are never a good combo so after talking to friends, Skyping with Mom & Dad, who had a few words of encouragement and advice, I finally fell back to sleep by 3 am...which didn't feel so great at 815 when my alarm went off. We were off to City University, led by our fearless leader, Philip, for orientation (featuring our program director's introduction, equipped with corny candy metaphors, and a Panel of MPs from the different parties in England). It's funny how fast you see how little Americans know about the rest of the world. (Thanks to 106, I can confidently say I knew most of the information!)
We then spent the afternoon at St. Paul's Cathedral. The three pounds and exercise I got, plus the minor freak out, number 3, from heights on the stairs, were certainly worth it when we got to the top. Standing at the top of the cathedral outside, where you can see all of London, I realized how excited I was to be here. 

We then ate dinner at Strada, an Italian restaurant (Side Note: My stomach is absolutely hating London. While usually I atleast TRY to avoid dairy, it's been difficult when constantly eating on the run or having meals provided for me. It'll be very happy once I can get to the grocery store for myself! (B-I've already put SoyNuggies on the list, if they have them of course!)), walked around to the London Eye, Westminster, Big Ben, etc, quickly showered, than went to Sports Cafe, which if I didn't get on the tube to go there, another side note: TUBE IS SO EASY...America, or NYC/Boston for my own case, FIGURE IT OUT!, I would have thought I was back in Wisconsin based on the sheer number of Americans in there.

Did I mention it was my birthday? Great way to spend the day...although I still dont feel 21 and I'm not sure I will until I'm back in the states.

Then today it was more meetings and then Every Good Boy Deserves Favour at the National Theatre, it was interesting to say the least. I slept through the beginning of it, still trying to catch up on the time different and the little sleep I've been getting : (

More meetings tomorrow, gotta be up early...yuck.
Miss you all, More later...pictures, maybe if I can figure out how!

Cheerio!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Off to London Tomorrow

Welp, it shockingly only took 3 hours to pack. After picking out and eliminating clothing, stuffing Ziplock bags and crushing them until there was no air remaining in the bags, a quick run to the Cobbler, to get my new boots fixed (apparently they didn't survive the New York City streets) and another to the Verizon Store downtown for a new cell phone charger, cause apparently Rachel had given me the wrong one (it's ok!!), it almost seemed too good to be true.

Now usually when my mom and I pack for something it's a mess. It's become something we both DREAD because we know it will inevitably end up in us screaming at each other, someone crying, someone stressed out and Eric having to get involved. It's never pretty. Thus, I'm about ready for my bag to break and explode. That would make it more typical.

Instead, we went through my clothing, drawer by drawer, picked out what I might want and neatly folded it. Then we eliminated a few items and packed up one of the bags. We even jokingly hoped to get everything that was sitting in one section of my room in the bag and were able to. Then a quick run downtown and back to finish the last bag. It all fit perfectly. I still gotta do a little bit later on tonight or tomorrow. But I still have time and today, was a wonderful surprise.

So now I'm sitting watching crappy movies with D and writing to you. I still can't believe I'm leaving in less than a day. I feel like I need to say something eloquent and wise. However, I'm not quite sure what that statement is. I'm not even sure how to describe how I'm feeling. I'm both nervous and excited.
-Nervous because I really have no idea what is in store for me in the next few weeks. I've always been the type of person who needs a schedule. I can't even sit on the beach without a time frame for what's coming next. I have no idea where I'm going when I get there or what to expect.
-Excited because I'm about to embark on a journey to a city I've always dreamed of visiting, let alone living in. I've spent the last weeks looking at maps of where I'm living (The Bayswater Area), where I'm going to be working, touring, eating, shopping and more. I've been so anxious to finally get there, although I can't believe how quickly it came.

So with all that, wish me luck and I'll talk to you again from London, England!

Probably Time To Pack

It seems like yesterday when I wrote my first blog post, relaying a detailed countdown to my departure, which now would read 1. Now, I leave in approximately 33 hours. Weird.

Soo I figured it was probably time that I stop procrastinating and begin packing. Right now, my mom is making my bed, so we can fill it with all the clothing I might possibly need then weed things out...Hopefully a trip to Bed, Bath, & Beyond for SpaceBags this afternoon won't be necessary. With that, I'm writing to you from my bedroom floor while I begin to think about what I want to bring. 

I figured this could be entertaining so I'll try and share some of it with all of you.
This may take awhile so check Twitter for more current updates!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

3 Days & Counting

I apologize to my oh-so-prevalent readers for my lack of blog posts in recent weeks. Since leaving Wisconsin, I've been pretty busy...
Family Vacation to St. Kitts (spent sleeping and reading and eating...tough life, I know!)
NH Weekend
And New York City, something to look forward to once London is over, not that I hope that comes quickly.

Anyway, now its Thursday night and I leave in 3 days. My To-Do list is down to PACK!!!, which is something I suppose I should be doing right now but instead I'm talking to you, whoever you are. I spent last night researching Virgin Atlantic's luggage policy. Rest assured, I can bring 2 bags, no problem. Instead what concerns me is weight. 51 pounds might be tricky. I can already picture Eric on the scale Sunday morning...Don't worry, I quickly realized that the less I purchase now the less trouble I'd have packing! 

And now I'm beginning to brainstorm what I need to pack, before my mother yells at me to go start cleaning & then organizing my room, from all this traveling I'm not sure I can even find my floor!

Packing List
1. Underwear/Bras
2. Pajamas
3. Raincoat/Rainboots
4. I'm already bored...did I mention I HATE packing?