25 September 2014

Hey! Check Me Out On GoAbroad!

A few months ago, I was approached for an interview with GoAbroad.com
to discuss my study abroad experience, as well as the impacts it had on me.

As if the fact that I am currently living in London isn't obvious enough that the experience changed me,
you should check out the interview - I give a few recommendations on London, and there's a pic or two for your viewing pleasure.

21 September 2014

Sunday Lovin'

You're usual Sunday, coming right up ...

1) Taylor at Due East just moved over here to London this past week, so I'm sending you off to her today for your daily London-ness.
She's living outside of Central London in an area I've never been before, but from her pictures looks gorgeous - she covers that in the post, so go learn a little about the London you don't know.
I'll be meeting her this coming week too, so I'm sure you'll hear about that from the both of when that happens.

2) Jamie from Gunters Abroad got her UK visa renewed for another year - YAY!
She also spent some time in London recently and covered some of her favorite places.
So after you go check out Taylor, pay this girl a visit for this London-ness - it's some good stuff.

3) This Tube Map of the Future.
More blue lines, pink lines, cross-rails, high speed..
Is this going to be underground still or will we be traveling by hover-train by then too?

4) Brooke from World of Wanderlust on Places You Must Visit in South America.
Literally every reason why I am dying to backpack around South America.
Some of the most incredible sights I have ever seen
.... in pictures. For now.

5) Belinda on Found Love, Now What? on the Highlands in Scotland.
You all already know this is one of my favorite place,
so I'm always loving a good post about it full of stunning photographs.

6) This live art video of a woman's life from birth to old age.
You'll think you want to watch 30 seconds, but then you can't stop.
SO amazing

17 September 2014

Carnaby, Cats, and Tea (Of Course)

Heather and I have officially been in London for over a month now.
Wasn't I just blogging about getting ready to leave?

Well, while we've been out and about running around the city,
I haven't been able to update here on the things that we've done.
So today, you get a twofer!


A few weeks ago Heather and I went to Lady Dinah's Cat Cafe.
It's actually completely what it sounds like - a cafe filled with cats.
This opened in London earlier this year, and once we heard about it, we were on top of those reservations.
Which was February - so yes, we've been looking forward to drinking tea with kittens for over six months.

When we first arrived, the cats were perched around the windows and shelves all asleep,
which was a bit of a let down.
But by the time we ordered and received out pot of tea, they began waking up, and the employees started throwing around the toys.

The cats were SO cute, but you could tell they were over it.
They didn't care about being pet, but they were all about the toys.
Chasing electric bugs, trying to swat the strings we were swinging.
It was pretty entertaining and aaaaaalmost everything we hoped it would be.

The week after this, there was a GQ Style Night Event on Carnaby Street
It was a free event, and by registering for a ticket you got a free drink, some snacks, and other goodies!
Heather made me get a makeover in a cosmetic store, 
and I have never worn so much makeup in my life.
There were street performers, Instagram booths, free samples, etc. etc. etc.
It's a good thing it was only a few hours, because we could have wandered through for the whole night.

I won't say that Heather and I spent 10 minutes staring at that Shakespeare dummy in the window wondering if it was a real man....
Because we didn't..... we didn't.

14 September 2014

Sunday Lovin'

1) As I'm writing this, I'm realizing how big of a week this was - so many great things have happened,
and I'm so excited about it.
The adjustment of being here was a lot more difficult than the last time I moved here,
and it was absolutely unexpected.
I don't know why I imaged rainbows and butterflies, but I thought it was going to be all hoity-toity dandy as everything.
This week finally gave me that turning point into 'this is really good,'
and I'm finally getting to the conclusion that in fact, this WAS everything I have ever wanted.

2) I started my university orientation this past Thursday,
met the group of students in my course, and everyone was so incredibly nice.
I am absolutely an 'I hate, HATE school' type of person.
As in, the day I graduated college was top greatest days of my life.
Being back, it's still unreal that I made the voluntary choice to do it,
but after this week, I really think it's a great thing, and I'm so excited for the year.

3) I finally moved into my official home on Friday!
Heather and I didn't live together in our short-term accommodation, and it sucked.
Our mile walk to the tube, stranger roommates, and no space has been upgraded to an incredible view of the Tower Bridge, Tower of London, and the Shard, a spacious living room, our own bathrooms, and being roommates again,
and I'm still pinching myself that we actually found this place.
Seriously too good to be true.
I wish this photo did the view justice, but it is so much better.

4) I have finally stopped topping my ego and came to terms that I am the worst packer ever.
 I can't do it.
Moving to London - terrible. I left so many things at home that I wanted because I couldn't find a way to fit it.
Moving to our new place on Friday - TERRIBLE.
I mean, it's probably a terrible choice to have waited to pack the morning that we moved,
but besides the fact - I just can't do it. And I don't think I'll ever learn.
But I've passed my denial, have let my anger go and accepted the fact.
I will never win.
So while I know I'll never stop traveling, I've decided to let Heather take care of the packing, and I take care of the planning.
The perfect team we are.

5) Trying to blog as much as I did in Florida is so damn difficult.
I want to visit places and take photographs and just show everyone the LIFE IN LONDON IS AMAZING part,
but time is so slim right now - how are there so many things to do!?
Don't worry, I've got plenty of things up my sleeve to come,
so don't go running just yet.

And let me reassure you, life in London IS in fact, AMAZING.

So to round it out, some links I've been lovin' this week - for your reading pleasure:
- Sara's celebrating her one year expativersary over in Bristol!
- Sammy is (hypothetically) opening up a hostel - free breakfast? I'M THERE.
- This new mini-series about Cilla Black's life growing up in Liverpool - no explanation needed for why I love this.
- Courtney's life in Madrid. Plain and simple - who doesn't want to live in Spain?
- And this article - Staying is Settling - because life isn't about being comfortable;

"You must never settle, never give in to the idea that you can’t have another one. Because the world is full of things to throw your heart into, things to make you weep and realize (yet again) why you’re alive."

09 September 2014

In Photos: London Living

Have been running around the city lately,
more for pleasure, less to get things done.
Oh well.

I start orientation for grad school on Thursday,
and I move into my new and official home on Friday.
So in all seriousness - the best is definitely yet to come. 

Your weekly update in photos featuring a little Piccadilly, a lot of Cath Kidston, some Primrose Hill, and an awesome musician named Erik Voeks:

07 September 2014

Sunday Lovin'

1) London
Of course you knew this would be the first one.
I've been here for about three weeks now, and slowly but surely
but very very ... very slowly,
I feel like things are coming together

We've been venturing out and staying in,
applying for jobs and accounts and everything there is to begin a life here.
So while I don't have all the photographs in the world to post on here and show off,
you can always follow me on Instagram HERE
I'm always posting some good London nonsense over there.

We've been staying in a pre-accomodaation before we move into our actual home, which happens next week.
And I can't tell you HOW EXCITED I AM.
To finally have the place where we can call home.
Counting down the hours.

You'll get much better updates once we get there as well.

2) The girls who took this page over in the first two weeks I was settling in London
They are a lovely bunch of ladies all over the world - from America to Germany to London to Scotland to Australia,
I'm so glad I've been able to meet them on here, and follow their adventures as well.

They're my favorite blogs and I wouldn't have featured them on here if it wasn't true,
and you're reading my blog - so you should probably take my recommendation and check them out.

A newly launched wedding and special events company.
Not only is it the cutest website full of amazing pictures and beautiful stories,
but I went to high school with Grace,
and I'm all for watching old friends make their dreams come true.

Heather and I went to Liverpool as you can see from the last post, and we surprisingly found a band we hadn't seen before.
They are such a nice group of guys, who've got some pretty addicting music.
I've had them on loop for the past week - make sure you check these guys out.
I like them so much I couldn't pick one song ... so you get two. Enjoy!

05 September 2014

The Greatest City You Will Ever Visit

..... okay, I may be a bit biased. But I fully believe that to be true.

Coming back to Fab Four Friday, we're talking about the city The Beatles came from, also known as my favorite place in the world; Liverpool.

Liverpool is one big party.
You will find everything there - shopping, parks, pubs, clubs, bars
and just recently, a giant zip line (I'm still confused about that one).

Heather and I have been here many times - many, many, many times.
We usually like to frequent one street that is full of every type of life.
Mathew Street.

We have our own little routine of where we start and where we end up, which is always the Cavern Club.
This was the place where The Beatles were discovered by their manager, so you know there's a lot of Beatles songs played down there.
Along with some Searchers, Gerry & The Pacemakers, and The Kinks, and I'm in my heaven.

We met up with old friends, met a LOT of new friends, and got up on stage and sung Hey Jude,
and it was terrible.
Seriously - who forgets the words to Hey Jude?
I blame cider.

I won't go into too much detail, but I will tell you it is a place where you'll do no wrong.
I never knew it was possible to be that happy until I came here, and every weekend I am here adds on to 'one of the greatest weekends of my life'

I'll leave you with the pictures, and hopefully that convinces you more than my words.

And then we had the brilliant idea to get up on stage and sing.
Thanks to our good friend and photographer Alan for catching the photos below
(and no videos, thank god)
You can tell who the real photographer is out of the two of us.

And in the end,
it was another weekend for the books.
And as if you didn't already assume, we'll be back next month.

Thanks Liverpool.

All of the quality photographs you see, as well as this post's cover photo are via Alan at Cavern Photos

02 September 2014

Made It Out Of America - What's Next?

I'm all for those posts that tell you you need to pack, book a flight, and then you're there
Actually I'm not. 
What crazy person is trying to make you believe it's that easy to move across the world?

If you haven't noticed from my previous posts, there is a LOT to do before you even take off out of America.
And as much as you would think I would know, I had no idea how much work stills to be done once you physically get into London.

So no fear, I'm here.
Going through all the mess ups and stress so I can report back and make sure you don't have to!

Soooooo here we go:

A lot of waiting, but easy for the most part.  You'll have to go through Immigration, where they'll ask you what you're doing here, how long you're staying, etc. etc.
I was SO nervous the first time I came when I studied abroad a few years ago. I was ready for interrogation, but I mean look at me. I'm pretty innocent - they just don't care.
Have all your documents in the case that they may ask for them, but they only care that you've got a Visa whether it be a visitor's, student, etc.

I took everything I could find within my London files and printed them - I've still got them in a folder in my room in the event that I will need them:
- University Acceptance Letter
- Loan Acceptance Letter (or whatever proof that you have sufficient funds)
- Visa Application
- Scanned Passport Photo Page & Student Visa Page
- Accommodation Confirmation Emails & Receipts

(and while you're printing, you may as well print out your resume + recommendation letters just to have if you are looking into going job searching in the city...)

Not a challenge either, but you want to make sure you are doing what's best for your wallet.
Heather and I travelled in with 5 bags between us. Seeing that October was impossible when we each only had one, there was no way we were taking the Tube.

Thank god for airport carts, because we would not have gotten through the airport without them.

Before we landed in London, I booked a car to pick us up using Expressways Services.
You can schedule a car to pick you up, which is SO much easier than dealing with it before you get there. It's also a flat-fee, so you aren't paying by the mile or the minute, which with London traffic is definitely the best way to go.

And they hold up that really cool sign with your name on it, which made me feel pretty VIP.

We've been going through circles trying to settle ourselves here regarding monthly plans, bank accounts, etc.
It's tough, and I have about twelve drafts on Excel of updated budgets.
But believe me, it helps.

Not having the closest to exact estimate throws you off completely.
For example, I know my budget - and right now, I will be going into the negatives (aka broke) in the next 8 months.
This lets me know what needs to be saved in what areas of life in order to keep myself above water so that I can survive financially here, and having started these budgets so early, I was able to have a real idea of how much I will need to take out with loans.

If you haven't already assumed that you'll be spending more money within your first month of arrival,
let me be the one to tell you - you'll be spending more money within the first month of arrival.

You'll need to purchase some things you will not be able to pack, so having the first month/6-week budget is crucial
These things range from:
- Deposit and/or first installment of accommodation rent
- Unlimited weekly/monthly Tube pass
- Bedding
- Kitchenware
- Groceries
- Starting up you mobile phone plan
- Any extras: for example, I knew I needed to purchase a bigger professional-looking purse when I got here because I had no room to pack one

This should give you a pretty good idea of how your first month will go, and where you're time and money will be going towards.

Dealing with money, I should also mention getting a UK bank account.
You'll need this to receive loans, as well as start a mobile phone plan.

This has been an obstacle for us.
Banks are asking for a few more required documents than I am able to get at the current moment, as university enrollment doesn't begin for another two weeks - which is where I will get some papers they are asking for.

BUT - I will make a personal recommendation on Barclays, who is only asking for our US Passport to open an account.
It is the third bank that I have been to, and I wish it were the first.
The process with them has been incredible easy so far, so I will say to any international - for the sake of your time (and sanity), visit them first.
They are also international partners with Bank of America, which makes working with US and UK banks a little easier.

And that's all I've got for you now.
I've been here for two weeks now, and am still working on some of the things on these lists.
And when it doesn't work out for me, you'll be the first to know not to do it yourself.


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