24 February, 2022

7 tips for making the best when weekend plans don’t work out - Erika Perkins

This past weekend my friend and I had booked train tickets and a hostel in Cardiff, Wales, but we had a huge wind storm and all the trains were cancelled. We called the hostel saying we had to cancel and applied for refunds for our train tickets. (Tip 1: Even if it’s past the cancellation deadline, call your accommodations. They’ll appreciate knowing that you’re not coming in, and you might not get charged or could apply for a refund).


Instead of doing nothing on Friday, we went to the Transport Museum in Covent Garden. (Tip 2: Don’t decide to just do nothing because your plans were cancelled. You’re in London! Plus it’s better for your mental health to not sit inside wishing your plans might have worked).


Once we left, the wind had really picked up so we hurried back to the tube. Everyone else in London had the same idea and was also on the tube. Plus a lot of the lines had already been terminated. (Tip 3: Download the Citymapper app. It is the best way to figure out how to get anywhere in London on public transport and keeps you updated on delays and closures).


We crammed into a tube car only for the line to be terminated a couple stops later due to the weather. Everyone had to get off and find other ways to wherever they were going. We rushed out of the Tube station to find cell service. (Tip 4: DON’T RUSH! Physically don’t rush because you can get hurt or disoriented. But also take a moment to regroup with yourself mentally. Making spur of the moment decisions can be stressful, but having a calm mind will help you decide what to do next). 


We found a bus headed back to our apartment and hopped on. The buses may take longer but they are incredibly resilient and cheaper than calling a cab or Uber. It is also really cool to see London above the tube lines. (Tip 5: Take the buses and see the city). We saw where Alfred Hitchcock once lived, we passed Harrods, which is a huge, bougie shopping mall, and I used the time to text with my mom and a friend back home. We finally got home safe and stayed in for the evening.


Saturday we got brunch and decided to explore Greenwich (which I highly recommend). (Tip 6: Brunch is a great way to go out. You can connect with other students and friends and bounce off ideas for activities to do the rest of the day).


On Sunday we visited Vauxhall City Farm (highly recommended if you want to see and pet animals that aren’t pigeons). We thought the farm was bigger, so we had a lot of the day left when we were done petting the cute animals. I remembered we had passed Harrods on our hour long bus ride home on Friday and suggested that. So we spent the rest of the day walking around Harrods. (Tip 7: Write down cool places you see or hear about so you don’t have to rely on google when you have time to do something else).


This isn’t a cautious tale to not go out during weather events, but you can make the best out of cancelled plans or plans that don’t work out. Just remember to communicate, be open to making spur of the moment decisions while keeping your safety in mind, and explore things in the city that you wouldn’t dedicate a planned day to do otherwise.


Unlocking your Inner Artist! - Erin Bevan

 

When I arrived in London over a month ago I didn’t know what to expect. Since this was my first time abroad and we are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, I knew that I was in for an exciting and unexpected semester. One of my main goals for the semester was to go outside of my comfort zone and try new things. I knew that I wasn’t coming all the way across the Atlantic to have an ordinary semester. My mission was to see as many shows, art galleries, and museums as possible. So far I have seen 3 West End shows, 6 plays, been to 5 art galleries, and too many museums to count! But the most rewarding visit was my solo trip to the Victoria & Albert Museum.

After a morning working at the London Center, I decided I wanted to spend the afternoon sketching at one of the museums nearby. Firstly, I want to preface this by saying that I do not identify myself as being an artist. Besides the off-handed doodle in class, I’ve never thought I could draw. So going to a museum by myself to try and sketch was a big step for me on my journey of growth in London. Being in the prime location that it is, I was able to take a short walk from the London Center to the V&A. Once I got to the museum I looked around the sculpture garden until I found a quiet bench to sketch at. I felt quite odd being at the museum by myself and attempting to sketch the art but I quickly forgot about my apprehensions. I ended up getting lost in the lines and curves of the sculptures and spent almost an hour and a half sitting there drawing! It was a calm break from the busy atmosphere of city life. I was able to find a bit of peace that I didn’t realize I was needing. I had such a good experience that I ended up going back to the V&A that weekend to explore the museum and find more things to sketch.

Moral of the story: Don’t be afraid to try new things on your own, you might end up finding your own inner artist!






15 September, 2021

The perks of not having a Schengen visa: (I am not an American) -

 

A trip to United Kingdom!



  A 7 AM flight in the morning on a Sunday for which I had to leave home by 3.00 AM. I get to the airport and I am all excited for my trip. I bought a muffin and some coffee from Starbucks and I just had a look into my wallet realizing that I carried my friend’s debit card with me. First reactions: oh boy! I just sacrificed four hours of sleep and a fair amount of money just to visit the Gatwick airport. I went back home and booked another flight for afternoon. My friend was helpful and paid half the price for my new ticket. Well, he had his card now and he wouldn’t curse me for his entire life at least.

 I boarded my flight to Edinburgh, Scotland and landed there in an hour. The first immediate thing that I did was to get to the Princes Street, because I heard a lot about it as it runs right between the Old medieval town and the Edinburgh new town. I just explored some shops on the street and got some dinner. I then headed to my Airbnb home. I was pretty excited for this experience as well, since this was the first time I was actually living in an Airbnb. I got there, I relaxed for a while and started making plans for the next day. Where do I go? What do I do? Where do I eat? I planned everything till I got back home that night.

First stop: The Scotch Whiskey experience. This tour was just amazing. Especially for whiskey lovers it’s a must. The barrel ride on this tour was the highlight. You also get a free glass and some whiskey in it, Isn’t that amazing? Next stop: The most talked about Edinburgh castle. The best thing I liked about my visit to the castle was the view of Edinburgh New Town, also the castle exhibited splendid work which introduce us to Scottish cultures and traditions. I then walked to Calton hill. Another place from where I got a very good view of the city. It was a good hike up there and it had some good monuments too. I just sat there for some time and filled up my eyes with the beautiful city of Edinburgh. I was tired and hungry, I went downtown picked up some quick bites, a sandwich and then headed onto another hike to the Arthur’s seat. This place was again beautiful with some good scenic and I just sat right there on the top of the city and face timed my parents. They were happy to see me have a good time.



I then came back down to the city and visited the National gallery. They had some amazing paintings. I then went to the national museum which was huge and had so much to see and explore. I was kind of unhappy with myself when I was here because I only gave it 40 minutes in my plan but it required a lot more. Even If I wanted to, I couldn’t spend more time here because it would close in a while. They had an amazing fashion and transport museum. I came out of the museum and headed to the Prince street gardens. I just sat there for a while in the evening. It was calm, pleasant and relaxing. I then headed to the Old town and walked around in the streets, explored some shops and appreciated the architecture. Alright, the plan I made last night was done now. I went to a pub got some good food and some quality Scottish whiskey. I had a good dinner and headed back home. The second I was home I started thinking about Belfast, Northern Ireland. This was my next leg. But, my heart was with Edinburgh until I got to Belfast. Edinburgh is also a great place to visit for a weekend and just relax. All the things that I did in a day and a half can be done in a better way in 3 days. The travel services are pretty cheap as well. Alright, next morning I woke up early and it was time to catch my flight to Belfast. See you, Edinburgh!

28 February, 2020

A Beginners Guide to Museum Adventures in London by Dalia Kirshenblat


I’ve only been in London for a month, but I’ve already seen so much cool stuff! I thought I’d share some of the coolness let you guys know my favorite museums so far to visit in London. 

The National Gallery is amazing! The architecture is so incredible and you can see paintings that are over 500 years old. Helpful tip: There’s actually two museums next to each other, The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. I got that confused at first! Also, I got to see Van Gough paintings for the first time! It was a really awe-inspiring moment.

The Tate Modern is also really amazing, and has tons of new exhibits to check out all the time. If you’re into modern art, or if you just want to try something new, I’d definitely suggest visiting this museum. Also, the surrounding area is beautiful: the church of St.Paul is close by and you get to walk over this gorgeous bridge to get there!

I love science museums, so the Natural History Museum was a must-see for me. And it did not disappoint! The building itself looks like a castle straight out of a fairytale, and it is absolutely enormous: I’ll definitely need to go back to this one several times. You could probably visit this museum every week for a whole semester and not get through everything it has to offer! I particularly loved the collection of whales, the human biology exhibit, and the volcanoes and earthquakes. I just walked around this museum for hours admiring all of the displays. Here are some sights you can expect to see!