Casually experiencing Europe Revisions

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I am officially on the “final” stretch of my time in London.  I have been studying my bum off attempting to make sure I am prepared to take the final exams.  

Exams are very different here, than back at home.  We get a month of “revision” prior to the month of finals.  I have five exams from May 1 – May 17th.  All of the exams here are 2 hours and 15 minutes long, and essay based.  

I have officially had my first two exams.  They were different than I had expected. Lecturers here expect a lot of application versus memorization.  This is great for me and my learning style, but there are many people who are frustrated by the tactics.  **IF YOU ARE NOT AN ESSAY TEST PERSON, DO NOT STUDY IN THE UK***

Enough of finals.  As my time is winding down more and more, it has become more apparent to me that my time is almost over.  I have been spending a lot of time outside and wandering around.  I am making sure that I am visiting Regents Park at least once a day, seeing Marble Arch and Oxford Street.  There is so much to do in London… it is so hard to believe that this amazing place has been my playground for the past 9 months.

From SoHo to Picadilly, all the way to the Burroughs, far cities, other EU countries and much much more, I have had the time of my life.  

I must get back to my revisions, but I will be writing again soon.  The writings will likely get more and more emotional as my time winds down more.

It is clear to say, I am having very mixed emotions in regards to returning to America after these 9 months away. Loads of thoughts and ideas race through my mind… Bittersweet.

Until next time!

Cheers,

Sam

PS: Tea has become a part of my daily life.

Casually in Poland!

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The greatest part of being a uni student in England is the fact that we get the month of April off for “studying” purposes.  This has given so many student ample opportunity to travel around Europe and elsewhere without missing a single session of class.

 

I was lucky enough to travel to Krakow, Poland this past week, and may I say, it has been my favorite travel thus far!  Krakow had so much to offer, from “The Old City”, over to “The Jewish Quarter”, and on to “The Ghetto”.   We also were able to see Auschwitz I and II while in Poland.

The rich history and old design of the city made it seem as though I was not in Europe anymore.  (I have now been to quite a few European cities, and they are beginning to look very similar with the architecture and random elements).  It was so great to have see the sun shining and be able to wear a tank top for the first time since I have arrived 8.5 months ago!

I stayed in the “Pink Panther” hostel of Krakow when visiting.  This has, by far, been the best hostel I have stayed at while in Europe.  I highly suggest staying there if in Krakow. We were right next to city center, and the hostel had a great kitchen, living room, and bathrooms. (Always remember to read the reviews of all hostels before staying in them! Especially the cleanliness reviews!) My friend and I immediately met other travelers, who we hung out with most of the remaining time in Krakow!

The first day, my friend, Tracy, and I were looking for a “Tour Bus” to take us around the city.  (Most cities have large, double decker tour busses… I suggest taking all of them if they are available!)  However, Poland did not have such a device, instead, they had golf carts! My friend and I rented a golf cart and proceeded into the city.  We started with the Jewish Quarter of Krakow.  This was very near city center, but a bit of a walk.  We passed a huge castle, old synagogues and Catholic churches.  We also passed quite a bit of old architecture… I am not totally sure how to describe this city, aside from it is amazing!!!

We next headed over to “The Ghetto” where they housed the Jewish people during the second world war.  This area was very different from the rest of the city.  It was a lot more dark and grim.  After learning more about the history (more than a textbook had ever mentioned) I found myself wanting to learn more about this history.

We were able to see where the old Schindler factory was held, and where a lot of “Schindler’s List” was filmed.  It was amazing at how accurate that movie really was, and how well it held to the Krakow origin.  

We eventually left that area, and decided to walk around “The Old City” until night time came around.  My friend and I had a blast meeting new people and finding out more history about Poland. 

The first night, we went out with a bunch of other hostel goers. We had such a blast! I was able to meet 2 English guys, a Swedish man, a few from Malaysia, 2 from India, 3 Aussie’s  and another american.  The best part of hostels is meeting people from all over the world and becoming friends with them!

We went out to a few bars/night clubs that night… it was a great time, and fairly cheap! Cannot complain about that! Most of the clubs we went to were underground.  This was something I have rarely seen while in Europe… so it was a really cool “lair” type scene.

The next day, we did a day trip to Auschwitz I and II.  This was a completely surreal experience.  I saw the rail road tracks of which the prisoners were dropped off at… the beds the slept in… the bathrooms, work houses and even the gas chambers.  Auschwitz is something I believe everyone should see.  My friend that I went with is Jewish, so it was an even more powerful experience hearing about her feelings and family history with the persecution.  The camps were horrid.  Something again, that I cannot explain in full detail.

Moving on, my friend and I had made it back to Krakow from the camps… where we got some traditional polish dinner and went out with our hostel family.  We had another great night out with our new friends! Our plane had actually left that next day at 6:30am so we decided to stay out all night and converse with our new friends.  

It was so great to hear about where everyone had been, and where they plan to go yet! We sat up soaking in the Polish culture on the deck of the hostel.  We also made a few trips outside to take in our surroundings one last time.

I will write again this week of my recent trip to Bristol, England. (Another amazing trip and site to see!)

Until next time! Cheers,

Sam

Casually planning for an American Return

As my time in London really begins to wind down, I am left to get myself ready for my return to America.  After being gone from the states for 8 months, it is really difficult to imagine my life before my London experience.  I am attempting to mentally prepare for the future of my past.

I have been working, calling and emailing like never before.  I have been skype interviewing and preparing my life for my final year of college.  This has by far been the most stressful London experience yet.  Attempting to communication and converse with people on a daily basis that are 6 hours behind your time makes it very difficult to make things happen.

As of today, I have 48 days left in London.  I have never felt a count down until my last day of class here. I now feel as though there is so much I have yet to experience in this magnificent city!  I currently aspire to explore one new part of London a day.  This task has been an absolute ball!  It is not hard to find new ventures in London… there are always new experiences, places, restaurants, and much more to see each and every day.  I have been told many times from people who have lived in London their whole life, that they still see new things at least once a week.

This week, I was doing a little shopping on Oxford Street and found myself in SoHo.  I had NEVER known the short cut I found while venturing, but sure was glad I saw it.  There were cute pubs, small shops, cafe’s and much much more on my venture.  I also, randomly, found myself walking through London’s very own Red Light district.  Though, Red Light districts are not the classiest of areas, they never fail to give you a new outlook on the world!

I am planning a trip to Southampton, England over the next few days.  This is where the Titanic set sail from.  They are very famous for their Titanic Memorial and a very very old cemetery.  They also have a great pier and port.  Hopefully I will be able to see the sun while hanging out on the coast!

I am also heading to Krakow, Poland on the 15th.  I am VERY excited for this trip.  I will likely be writing about that in my next entry.

For now, I must continue to catch up on my sleep.  We have been done with classes since April 4, so I am taking advantage of my newly found freedom free time! Until next time.

 

Cheers!

Sam

London bear

Casually counting down

Hello all!

It is easy to say that I have been properly busy over the past few weeks. I have finally entered into my last week of classes in London. Over the past two weeks, I have given 3 presentations, completed 3 3,500 word papers and taken a yoga exam. Needless to say, I am mentally exhausted. The great news is, London gives the month of April off for holiday! And allows for a full month of exams in May. I will have a total of 6 exams over 17 days. Nothing to worry too much about.

Moving onto my London life, I am officially on a countdown to my return to the Untied States. I have a little over a month and a half left in this lovely city. As I make my preparations for home, it has made me fall back in love with this city.

Sorry for the quick and short post, but I must get back to my books! More to come tis weekend (once my freedom returns)!

Speak soon!

Cheers,
Sam

Casually speaking Spanglish

Sorry for the laps in writing, the end of the semester is really kicking my butt!

Since I last wrote, my best reins had returned home and my mum and sister have arrived. It is so great to have them here with me! I have not seen them in over 6 months, so you can imagine the emotions attached to their arrival!

We spent the first part of the week touring London. Unfortunately, London has decided to rear it’s bloody head and showcase the worst and coldest weather I have seen yet in my 6.5 months here! I felt as though I was back in North Dakota with the gusting winds and frigid cold! Nonetheless, London is still fabulous!

My mum, sister and I managed to site see Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the eye, along with random roaming. This is my sisters first time in Europe, so it was brilliant to see her take in the city.

We arrived today in Barcelona, Spain. To our dismay, the poor weather followed us. It has been raining since we arrived :/ We are now catching up n some much needed sleep and rest, and will wake up early tomorrow to do a hop on hop off bus tour of this magnificent city!

I am so excited to see what Barcelona offers, Have so far bee impressed with every country I have visited while n mainland Europe! I am hoping for some warm weather and sun tomorrow!

I am am so excited to continue speaking with my mildly broken Spanish and learning new phrases, I am conversational in Spanish, but far from fluent! Every time I visit a Spanish speaking country I look forward to going home with a new phrase learned… We will see what the phrase is from here!

I will report back this weekend. I am planning to spend St.Patrick’s day with a group of Orish guys I met at school. Nothing beats a great week full of family, Spanish friends, and St.Patty’s day with the Irish!

Adios amigos!
Sam

Casual trips through London and Dublin

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Over the past week, my best friend has been visiting from the US. This is s first time in London,or anywhere in Europe for that matter. It was amazing to experience London through a fresh pair of eyes.

We began our week doing the normal “touristy” things. Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Big Ben, Parliament, The Eye and the Tower of London. After strolling through all of these great places… I made sure that he was able to experience London markets and the night scenes.

Zach immediately fell in love wit the Camden Markets. I never thought a guy would be so interested in the market settings… But he had a ball. We also managed to do a pub crawl through Camden that night with a few of my friends from England and Switzerland.

This was one of the first moments that I realized just how amazing my experience has been. The envy of my London life became very apparent with all of the, “that’s so cool!” And the, “I can’t believe this is where you live”. Needless to say, Zach officially wishes he would had studied abroad.

This weekend, we made our way over to Dublin. This was mine and Zach’s first time in Ireland. It proved to be a great time! We went with 4 other people I met while studying abroad. The group made for a great way to split up and get everyone to everywhere they wanted to go.

We had the pleasure of visiting the Guinness Factory, seeing castles, old Viking churches, Irish dancing and singing and even a ghost tour!

Ireland was beyond cool! It has a great night atmosphere and some of the most friendly people I have ever met. Everywhere we turned was a friendly face making sure we were okay and knew where we were going.

Overall, I have had a great week experiencing London and Ireland with my best friend! He has validated my decision to study abroad for a year… And proven to me that great friends never go away. Experiencing new and different countries with the people you love makes everything a little brighter.

I am so glad I got a little taste of home. Luckily, my mom and sister are headed out here in a week and a half! We will be galavanting through London and making our way to Spain!

Until next time :)

Cheers!
Sam

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Casually Strolling Through Paris

This past weekend I was lucky enough to spend my time in Paris, France!  it was unbelievable!  I was amazed by the architecture, culture and food!  Though I was only able to spend 2 days in the city… I wouldn’t trade it for a moment! (I would recommend the city to anyone studying in Europe)

While in Paris, I climbed the stairs of the Eiffel Tower, toured the Louvre, roamed the city streets, attended a Six Nations Rugby game (the superbowl of rugby), searched through Notre Dame, **Shopped, experienced night life AND got a lesson in the Paris Metro (which proved to be quite different than the London Tube).

*If you’d like more information on Paris, comment on my blog, and I will post more next time*

Aside from Paris, I have been getting ready for my best friend to come and visit from UND.  This is his first time to Europe, so I am very excited to show him around London.  We are lucky enough to be taking a trip to Dublin this coming weekend, so he will get a chance to experience London and Dublin all in one trip.

I am ecstatic for a visit from home!  I have officially gone 6 months with no family contact (aside from Facebook, Skype and Whatsapp).  I am so excited to post some pictures of Zach and I around London and Dublin!  There is nothing better than the excitement of picking a friend up from the airport and being able to show them “your city”.

I will be sure to blog again this week with more picture from my site seeing!

Until we meet again!

Cheers,

Sam

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Life at Uni

As life at the University of Westminster settles in more, I find myself making more and more life long connections across the world.  I am taking mostly upper level classes here at the University of Westminster, which have proven to be a bit more difficult than my past semester of level 4 and 5 classes (1st and 2nd year).  The great thing about the classes I am currently enrolled in, is the lack of Americans and American influence.  In my seminars (classes are divided into 1.5 hour lectures and 1.5 hour seminars/per week) I am either the only American, or one of three American’s.

It is very interesting to get a better feel of what each person can bring to a group project. More importantly, to get a feel of how different we all really are.  In one of my groups (European education *at least in business schools* tend to have a lot more “group” work versus tests and exams) there are two men from Amsterdam, one from India, one woman from Poland, another from Germany, one English and one other American.  Our project is on “High Street Banks”.  I had NO idea what this was when we began discussing it, however, I have come to find out, it is no more than an “American” style bank; one with the ability to walk into the tellers or to drive through to the ATM or drive through tellers.  Interestingly enough, I happened to know more about these banks operations than any of my fellow group members.  However, our ability to bring out knowledge together has really been in our groups favor due to the different perspectives we are now able to share in the project.

Aside from school, I have officially booked a trip to Paris for this weekend!  I am very excited to get off the UK island and onto Mainland Europe!  I have only been to Amsterdam (last semester) and had a great time there! Hopefully Paris will show me the same love. My friend and I are going to a rugby match one of the nights, and will spend the others being true tourists.

I have also booked a trip to Poland, Ireland and Spain for the semester.  Hopefully I will also be able to make it up to Scotland and Wales before I leave!  We have the whole month of April off for holiday breaks, so it will be a great time to get to see more of the UK.

A friend of mine is coming to visit in 10 days.  I am very excited to have a little piece of home over here.  I have not seen any of my friends or family in over 5 months now… so it will be so great to have my best friend here.  I am not totally sure how people studied abroad when there was no internet or Facebook!  I can not imagine being completely cut off from the world I came from!

I had the pleasure of celebrating “Australia Day” and “Kiwi Day” this past week.  That was quite entertaining may I add!  It was pretty similar to the 4th of July celebrations in America… except seeing Australian and New Zealand flags and fanatics all over London.  I sometimes forget just how “worldly” the city of London really is.

Can’t wait to write about my adventures in Paris!  Until next time :)

Cheers!

Sam

(PS: Below is a picture of my mate, Sonia *from Mexico City* and I before a night out)

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First 2 Weeks of Classes Mixed With Some Culture

This semester, I have decided to challenge myself more with upper level classes.  As it turns out, I am one of very few American’s in my classes now.  This has proved to be a very different educational structure than I have dealt with before.  There is a lot more learning put into group work and self teach than I am used to.  The many different cultural backgrounds of group members has shown to bring a lot of different dynamics to our projects as well.

Aside from classroom challenges, or to be better put, classroom learning opportunities, this semester has been great!  I am currently taking classes from professors that have great, real life experience in the marketing field.  The professors really look at each student as though we are adults driving into our own futures.  This is so great and refreshing to encounter, and something that I find very different from the American college system.

Moving on to life in London, I have been venturing out and taking more walks lately.  I have really made it a goal of mine to uncover some of the greatest “hidden secrets” of London.  Turns out, there are many, MANY streets that I have never walked along here.

 I also have been attempting to get to more markets.  Today, I visited the “Camden Market” (one of my favorites) and was able to bargain my way through some great purchases!  I have a sunglass fetish, so I tend to stop at each vendor and see what they have for cute sunglass deals. 

On to the most exciting part of my week, I have officially booked a trip to Dublin, Ireland for a measly $200 (hostel and flight).  I am so excited to go and cannot wait to tell all about my adventures!  I also planned my trips for the semester.  I budgeted $1,100 total for 9 countries.  I will post my destinations as I book them!  

I am very excited to see where else this semester will take me!  So far, this has been a trip of a lifetime… with many more Holidays to come!

Until next time!

Cheers,

Sam

 

 

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