Welcome to Hogwarts! ⚡

Sorry in advance to anyone who isn’t a fan of Harry Potter… you might as well skip this post if that’s the case. Because this post is all about my trip to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studio tour!!!
I’ve been a fan of Harry Potter since I started reading the series in the fifth grade, since then I’ve read most of the books more than once and seen most of the movies at the midnight premiere. So imagine my excitement when Taylor Ann and I decided to go to the set tour where all the movies were filmed about an hour outside London.
We had to take the train to a town called Leavesden, where the studio is, a then a 5 minute bus ride from the train station. I didn’t know what exactly to expect from the tour but it defiantly exceeded my expectations! All the sets including Diagon Alley, the Great Hall, the Gryfindor Common Room, Dumbledores Office, and many more were there to explore and along with every prop you could ever want to see!!! Needless to say it was one of my favorite things I’ve done since I’ve been here and I would defiantly recommend it to any Harry Potter fan :) I took tons of pictures so here are some of them!

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I have so many more pictures but I doubt everyone wants to see every single one of them. One another note, Taylor Ann and I have finally planned out our little 3 week backpacking trip and we will be leaving on April 28! Also my mom comes to visit me in 3 days and I am beyond excited about her making the big trip to see me :) ill be posting about whatever it is we decide to do, most likely a trip to London and possibly Stonehenge!
Til next time :)

Confessions of an Overpacker

For anyone that knows me they know that packing is not one of my strong suits. The thought of going somewhere and not having the clothes I need gives me complete anxiety! So over the years instead of learning to pack effectively Ive become more of a “I might need these stilettos at the beach, you never know” kind of packer… So imagine my distress when I realized I had to fit 5 months worth of clothes into one suitcase and a backpack. But I have to say after being here for almost 3 months I’m a changed women and believe that with a little planning and a realistic mindset anyone can avoid overpacking, and this is coming from the girl who hates being photographed in the same outfit more than once!

I am currently starting to plan my 17 day trip around Europe that I’m going on in May and although I’ve thought about what I will be packing I’m not worried about a backpack of clothes lasting me the whole trip. So I wanted to share with anyone out there worried about packing for study abroad or a long trip what I’ve found useful so far and what I could have left at home. Just remember that this is coming from my perspective (my 5 month stay, my style, and the weather of where I’m living) but some of these observations may be helpful to anyone thinking about studying abroad, especially in England!

TOPS:
Jumpers (sweaters) are essential. They are warm, easy to throw on and can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. I brought 5 jumper type tops and have bought one while here and wear them all regularly.

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The other tops I’ve found useful are ones for going to dinner or going out with friends at night. I brought 2 from home (the ones in the top left of the picture below) and the other four I bought, even though I probably could live with just 4 total. The denim button up and polo chambray shirt are an absolute must for me and I wear them both very often. Undershirts are also important for layering. I have 4 camisoles, 2 v-necks and a long sleeve in basic colors.

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BOTTOMS:
I brought 5 pairs of jeans/jeggings. One black, one dark wash, one light wash, and two colored (red and teal). The light wash I have only worn once or twice so they weren’t necessary.
I also brought one skirt and have bought 2 others while here and I where them when I go out (I have black, blue, and pink).
The most essential bottoms that you can bring are leggings and tights. Black leggings can be worn with an oversize jumper, when running at the park, or lounging around the house/sleeping. Tights can be worn with skirts or shorts to go out in or just to class and around town. Black is always the best color choice.
Sweatpants and sleep pants are good for around the house or sleeping but people do not wear them in public, like ever!

CARDIGANS/JACKETS:
So I may have overpacked in this area. I brought 7 cardigans and will probably be sending about 3 back with my mom when she comes to visit. They are good for laying, I just brought too many. I also wish I would have brought an athletic jacket or pullover for running or when I walk to the gym for volleyball.

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DRESSES:
So I only brought one dress and I’m glad I did! The truth is girls dress different when going out here so I didn’t have anything that would have worked anyways. I now have 5 dresses (the one on the left is the one I brought and will be sending home and the one on the right I could do without).

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COATS:
This was the hardest thing for me to pack when I came. I ended up bringing one coat and a raincoat. Neither of which I ever wear! The thing is people don’t use umbrellas here, if it starts raining they just put on the hood of their coat or jacket and go on their way (the wind is too bad for umbrellas). So I ended up buying a cheap coat with a hood. I also bought a nicer coat that I probably didn’t need but has ended up being very useful when I want to dress up a bit.

SHOES:
I am obsessed with shoes. The end. So my advice probably shouldn’t be taken in this matter but ill give it nonetheless. Here are the shoes I currently have

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On the top shelf are my heels and wedges. I brought a pair of chunky heels that I tried to wear out once and it was a disaster! So my advice is no heels just stick to wedges. I have two pair of wedges I’ve bought while here, with the middle black pair being the ones I wear almost every time I go out. My trainers (tennis shoes/sneakers) and Keds were sent from home and i wear both very often. My black ballets flats are great and versatile and I wore them almost everyday I was Paris! As much as I love my loafers I really haven’t worn them that much. I wear my black boots probably 4-5 times a week. But my brown boots I’m surprised to say I don’t wear that often.

OTHER:
I brought 5 scarfs and the ones I wear the most are the neutral colored ones (cream and black/grey). Thick and long socks go great with boots and when sleeping (it can get cold sometimes) 2-4 pairs is a goods amount. As far as gloves go I brought 2 leather pairs and one black fingerless, which are the ones I wear most often. I also brought hats that I haven’t worn once. I never wore them at home so I don’t why I thought I would here. I brought my patent leather purse which was probably one of my smartest decisions. It rains so much that anything leather or canvas would get ruined.

All in all I don’t think I did a terrible job packing initially. But I’ve come to realize that I can survive with less clothes than I ever thought possible! Sometimes you just have to get creative and mix and match things :) sorry this post was long and maybe a little boring haha

Til next time :)

Luck of the English

Yesterday was St. Patrick’s Day as we all know and even though I didn’t get the chance to go to Ireland to celebrate the holiday I managed to have a pretty Irish day here in Plymouth! Taylor Ann and I went with one of my friends from the volleyball club, she is Canadian and in one of my history classes, to an Irish pub! Going to the pub I didn’t not really know what to expect and it took us a while to actually find it but when we finally rounded the corner to find the place there was a street party going on with a live band! There were hundreds of people there with green hats and green beads and pints of beer; it was a very Irish atmosphere :) We had such a great time dancing in the streets listening to the live band, all in all I have to say the English celebrate St. Patrick’s Day very well :) I didn’t take very good pictures but here are a couple from last night

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So I have been in Plymouth for over 2 1/2 months now and I cant believe how fast time has gone by. This is my last week of classes before I have a 3 week Easter break! During that time my mom is coming to visit (she gets here 3 weeks from yesterday) and I’m going to show her around Plymouth and were going to visit London :) I still have a week of classes after the break but I’m pretty sure none of my professors are actually having class. They are just giving us end of term essays to write and turn in at the end of the week, so I’m on the home stretch! And then in May I’m finally going to Italy and probably some other places in Europe (maybe Barcelona and Amsterdam). I cant believe I only have a little over 2 months left here, it feels like everything is going by so fast and once I’m finally used to everything here I’m going to have to leave :( But I’m very excited about the travels coming up and my mom visiting so ill keep you all up to date on those things as best as I can.

Til next time :)

Paris! – Part 4

I am adding up my last few days in Paris for one last post about my trip, which includes the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay and Notre Dame! The Louvre was pretty much an all day thing like Versailles. It’s the largest museum in the world and houses many famous works of art including, of course, the Mona Lisa. It’s easy to get lost in a sea of paintings and sculptures that start to look alike but it really is an amazing place. It was once a palace and Napoleon lived there for a while (his apartments in the Louvre might be my favorite part of the museum). Since I hope to one day have a career in the museum field I feel really lucky that I was able to visit and experience the most famous museum in the world!

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Notre Dame is another must see we visited in Paris. This year marked 850 since the cathedral was built. That’s way before Columbus even sailed to America!!!! It’s the largest cathedral in Paris and the inside really is beautiful, especially the stained glass windows. We even lit candles while we were inside :)

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Another day we went to another museum called the Musee d’Orsay ( I don’t think there is an English translation for that) it was once a train station that has been transformed into an art museum. This museum is much smaller than the Louvre but I actually think I enjoyed it more because I found that I liked the art in this museum more. It includes works by famous painters such as Van Gogh, Manet, Renoir and Manet. This museum also has a scene in Gossip Girl so it was a little more than just a museum visit for me :) We were not allowed to take pictures of the art here so I only have a few shots of me in the museum (paired with a GG picture just for reference haha). We also visited the Fontaine Louvois which is also used in the Gossip Girl Paris episode (sorry about all the GG references). The fountain, like most in Paris was not running but we ate our last Laduree macaroons on a bench by the fountain and got a picture of course.

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Well that is all for my trip to Paris! It was an amazing experience and I feel so lucky that I got to spend a week there and take my time exploring everything. I’m also glad that I got to use some of the French that I spent 2 years studying! Sorry about all the Gossip Girl references but I hoped you enjoyed hearing about my trip!

Til next time :)

Paris! – Part 3

Day three in Paris was the day I visited the biggest tourist attraction of the city, the Eiffel Tower!!! There are three levels to the tower and we only went to the second level which, believe me, is high enough to see the whole city. We decided to get the whole experience and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Which was a good idea but was a lot more tiring than I expected and a little scary too. But I think if you’re able to take the stairs then you definitely should, it makes getting to the top so much more worth it! And sorry about the million pictures :)

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Next we went down a street called Champs Elysees and it has many high-end fashion stores. Also at the end of the street is another famous monument of Paris, the Arc de Triomphe!!! But my favorite shop on the street is a place called Laduree and if you do not know it is famous for its french macaroons :) This shop was quite possibly my favorite part of Paris because not only do I love macaroons but I also love Gossip Girl :) and one of the main characters in the show, Blair Waldorf, loves Laduree and their macaroons so of course it was one of the places I most wanted to go while in Paris. I think we ended up buying macaroons from Laduree 4 out of the 6 days we were in there!

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Later in the night we got a personal night tour of Paris by Tessa’s husband. We got to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle at night (something it does every hour on the hour for 5 minutes). We also got to see the famous opera house, Sacre Coeur (which is a church that sits at the top of the city and gives a great view of all of Paris), and of course the famous Moulin Rouge!!! However it costs over 100 euros a person to see a show at the Moulin Rouge so we decided to skip going inside.

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So that concludes my day 3 of Paris and tomorrow ill be posting about my trip to the Louvre, the largest museum in the world!!!!

Til next time :)

Paris! – Part 2

My second day in Paris was not actually spent in Paris, but about 20 minutes outside the city exploring the palace of Versailles. This palace is HUGE, so much bigger than I expected it to be and the grounds surrounding it are full of gardens and fountains. The palace was built up over many years by the French monarchy and is most famous for being the home of Louis XVI and is wife Marie Antoinette who were overthrown and beheaded during the French Revolution. Now the palace functions as a museum and more than 6 million people a year visit Versailles to tour the extravagant palace! There was some construction and restoration going on while we were there and the gardens weren’t as beautiful since its pretty cold so Taylor Ann and I are considering stopping back by to see the grounds in full bloom when we go to Italy in May. But without further ado here are some pictures I took during our full day visit to Versailles.

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So those are some pictures of the outside and the grounds and the gate is covered in gold, like real actual gold!!!!

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The last two pictures are in the Hall of Mirrors, considered to be the most famous room in the palace. The ceilings were probably the coolest part because of how decorated they are with so much detail!

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So that was my trip to Versailles, a place I have wanted to go to for a very long time and I was not disappointed!! My next post will include my trip up the many stairs of the Eiffel Tower!!!

Til next time :)

Paris! – Part 1

So I am finally back to reality after a wonderful week in Paris. I have so many pictures and I spent so many days exploring the city so I’m going to post about my trip in a few parts over the next couple of days. First off I had a holiday last week called reading week so I didn’t have class and that is why my housemate, Taylor Ann, and I decided to spend the week in Paris. Taylor Ann has a family friend that lives about 15 minutes outside of Paris so we were extremely lucky to have a free place to stay which was great. We began our trip by taking a train to London from Plymouth and from there we took the Eurostar, another train but faster, to Paris. A part of our journey on this train was spent under the English Channel! When we arrived in Paris we had to navigate the Metro system (like the subway in New York) to get to the stop closest to the house we were staying at so we could get picked up by car. The family we stayed with were so extremely nice and accommodating, we stayed in their guest room and Tessa, Taylor Ann’s family friend even cooked extra dinner for us almost every night!

The whole time we were in Paris we used the Metro to get around and I have to say I have really come to love public transportation :) The first day out in the city we went to a cemetery called Pere Lachaise where famous people such as Oscar Wilde, Chopin, Edith Piaf (famous french singer) and Jim Morrison of the Doors are buried. There are also some amazing statues in honor of those who died in concentration camps in WWII.

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The whole cemetery is huge and we got lost several times looking for the graves we wanted to find but it was a really cool experience. Next we went to the Luxembourg gardens and palace where the French Senate currently meets. It seemed like a common place for the people of the city to hang out or go for a run. The gardens were beautiful and im sure they are even more gorgeous in the spring time when everything is in bloom.

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After the Luxembourg Gardens we stumbled upon the Pantheon, which now functions as a burial place for many distinguished French citizens such as Voltaire.

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And from there you could see just the top of the Eiffel Tower! Next we went to the second largest cathedral in the city, second of course to Notre Dame. It is called Saint-Sulpice and the two towers of the cathedral are different because of arguments over design. The fountain in front of the cathedral is one of the few in Paris that was actually running when we were there. Image

So thats all for this post, sorry it was so long and that was only day 1 in Paris!!! Tomorrow ill be posting about Versailles, the incredible french palace!

Til next time :)

Its Only 38… You Dont Need a Jacket

So things have started to become routine around here and I feel like a normal uni student. Going to class, getting coffee, shopping, going out on the weekends and occasionally seeing a movie or walking down to the Barbican (area on the coast). It still, of course, feels a little different because I’m doing all of this in a forgien country. And after a month here I can finally say I’m getting used to the cold! Taylor Ann and I went out the other night and I checked the weather, and seeing it was in the high 30s low 40s, I decided I didn’t need a jacket! Something that I definitely would not do if I were in Texas. I have also managed to finally become familiar with the money; I don’t even have to look at the amounts on the coins to know their worth. A small feat I know, but it feels like a big accomplishment to not as obviously stand out as “the American”.

I joined the volleyball club and its been fun going to practices, playing a sport I really like and meeting new people. People from all over I might add; Ive meet people from Russia, Norway, Bulgaria, the Caribbean and of course some British people. Were supposed to have a few games coming up so I’m excited to see how actual games are different here.

I am really excited about next week though cause Taylor Ann and I are leaving for Paris next Thursday to stay for a whole week :) (We get a week break from classes called reading week, I don’t know its purpose but I’m not complainging). We will be staying with a family friend of hers so im even happier to be saving some money and to have someone to consult about what sights we should go see. Unfortunately we will be there on Valentines Day…. were both praying that even though its the “City of Love” it wont be too annoyingly romantic haha. Guess this steams from the fact that almost 98% of this city is paired off and holding hands everywhere they go, its slightly obnoxious for someone as eternally single as me!! However I couldn’t be more excited about the Louvre, Versailles and of course the Eiffel Tower :) there will be an annoy amount of pictures posted from that trip I can assure you.

But I have an assignment due tomorrow so the last few days have been spent in the library, which I am actually starting to like as a place to study and work on assignments. I even checked out some books yesterday!!! Here I am using the self checkout at the library haha

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Til next time :)

Dogs Without People!

So the weather has been pretty rainy and windy the last couple of days… I cant say im particularly fond of it. But when the weather was better my other housemate from Texas, Taylor Ann, and I went to the Central Park which is very close to our house actually. The view from the top of the hill was great! We could see most of our neighborhood and alot of the city. While in the park we noticed that you do not have to have your dog on a leash in this country apparently! There were dogs running around everywhere! We have also found our new favorite food, they are called pasties and they look like empanadas but they are filled with stuff like cheese, potatoes, vegetables, chicken, or pretty much whatever you want. Last night we played Uno with my other housemate Luke who had never played before and then we all went out. We meet some British friends that loved the fact that we were from Texas and we plan on going to a super bowl party at their place next weekend :) I joined the volleyball club on Wednesday and I have practice tomorrow so well see how that goes. Taylor Ann and I are planning a trip to Paris in about 3 weeks and I am so excited!!!! Ill post more about it when we figure out all the details :) 

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Creepy cemetery we found on the way to Central Park… we were a little lost actually haha

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View from the top of Central Park!!!

Til next time :)

 

I Dont Know About You But Im Feelin’ 22!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!!!! So today I turned 22 which is kind of old to be at uni in the UK cause its meant to only last 3 years so I’m older than most people :( My other house mate from Texas and I plan on going out tonight and maybe try and make some more new British friends :) Tomorrow we dont have classes so were going to go grocery shopping and pick up some more  supplies for the week. I got a package form my mom this morning when I was getting ready for class just in time for my birthday!!!! And its sunny again today which just makes everything better, hopefully it doesnt rain tonight though. I went to the mall and bought a new dress for my birthday tonight and I finally got my student ID card so I feel like an official student :) Thanks for all the birthday wishes from my friends and family!!!

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My new dress for my birthday tonight with tights of course cause if you havent heard its kinda chilly here sometimes ;)

Til next time :)