on the study abroad website!!
Three years ago, while looking for colleges, one of the main qualifications I considered was its study abroad program. Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to study, live, and travel in a foreign country, and Monmouth University was the school with the best prospects to accomplish this…. Coming from a town of 3,000 people (and 4,000 cows), going to a city of millions sounds like a daunting move, but the city of London welcomed Monmouth University with open arms. Within a week, I was able to navigate the tube with ease, and tourists were askingus for directions.
One of the biggest reasons I came here was to become a more independent person and to grow up a little bit. Coming to London definitely did that for me…. I feel more confident in myself now and truly more independent. The best part about London was definitely the people I met and the friends I made. I was so terrified to not know anyone, but little did I know that I would make the most incredible friends. I do not know what I would have done without them here because London would not have been the same.
If studying abroad is even a little bit on your radar, find a way to make it happen and just do it. I can’t emphasize it enough. There is a huge group of people, myself included, who just left our lives in London and are all already aching to go back and are so jealous of the next group who is. There is no better time to travel the world than right now—take advantage of it. When else will you have four months to do something like this, where your biggest problem will be deciding which country you want to travel to one weekend? There is truly nothing like it.
One of the best things that came out of London was meeting these three wonderful ladies - I don’t know what I would have done without them. To Boogs, Llama and Queen Elisabeth: I’m glad that the amazing experience in London brought me not only a fantastic semester, but also three friends to share it with <3
That Time I Studied Abroad
Three years ago, while looking for colleges, one of the main qualifications I considered was its study abroad program. Ever since I was young, I’ve wanted to study, live and travel in a foreign country, and Monmouth University was the school with the best prospects to accomplish this. The first week of freshman year, I had every bit of information printed on the 2011 Spring program – even though I did not intend to participate until Fall 2012. I planned every semester’s schedule around the classes I wanted to take abroad, and I knew from the get-go that I wanted to have as many free electives as I could whilst in Europe.
Coming from a town of 3000 people (and 4000 cows), going to a city of millions sounds like a daunting move, but the city of London welcomed Monmouth University with open arms. Within a week, I was able to navigate the tube with ease, and tourists were asking us for directions.
My classes met around the city. Every week, my art history class met in the National Gallery, and we learned about Renaissance masters in front of their most famous paintings. My Social History and Architecture classes took me to places such as Westminster Abbey, Bloomsbury and the National Maritime Museum. My theatre class allowed me to go to eight musicals, the price completely included in tuition. It has always been informative to learn in a classroom, only looking at things. It was downright inspiring to learn in a city, literally in front of subject
The city of London is a vibrant combination of the old and the new – showcasing some of the World’s best art, history and landmarks, blended seamlessly with some of the best entertainment and nightlife Europe has to offer. From spending the afternoon at the Tower of London to partying in Piccadilly Circus, London had a lot to offer students.
The city lived up to all of the historical expectations that I had going in. Between the museums (all of which were free to get into), the landmarks (the Tower of London being my favorite) and the famous stores, the history geek in me was more than pacified.
The entertainment was also second to none: I saw Ed Sheeran in concert, Sweeney Todd in its closing days, and went to the premiere of the final Twilight film in Leicester Square, all things I would not have been able to do had I not been in London.
The food, on the other hand, did not live up to expectations. After eating “British-style food” in American restaurants, I thought that I at least enjoyed fish and chips. I was very, very wrong. Every time the refectory served some sort of British cuisine, many students were immediately turned off. Our first meal was bangers and mash, and seeing a roll of sausage on top of mashed potatoes was stomach turning, to say the least. We were able, however, to find a few things in the refectory that we enjoyed, and found restaurants around Regents that we enjoyed on the weekends.
I travelled to many other places, including Dublin, Paris, Milan, Wales and Prague. I also took a day trip to Stonehenge and Bath. My two favorite trips were Paris and Dublin; I would go back to either in a heartbeat. It was always nice, however, to come “home” to London after a weekend away.
I learned a lot while in London. The best part of studying abroad was the realization that having never lived in a city, and having never been in a foreign country for so long, that I was able to not only navigate and live, but to feel at home. Nothing but studying abroad would ever be able to give me that comfort, and because of this, I feel as though I could be in any city or country, and be able to adapt to the place and situation. Studying abroad was the best decision I have made in college, and is an experience that I will carry with me the rest of my life.
This past weekend, Jess and I travelled to Dublin! Our flight was Thursday night out of Gatwick on Ryanair. Taking off, it was very, very windy and the plane was rocking back and forth quite a lot (we didn’t like that at all). The flight was only about an hour and ten minutes, which wasn’t bad, and we arrived a little before midnight. We took a bus to the city center, and then wandered around for almost an hour trying to find our hostel. Luckily, some random man shouted across the street asking if we were looking for the Generator, which we were, and he pointed us in the right direction, and then further on, a taxi driver told us how to get to Smithfield Square, and about five minutes later, we found the hostel.
We checked in, and got to our room. Our roommates had already checked in, and they all came from studying in Florence. Our bus2alps leader, Chelsea, was in our room, which was really convenient to get info on our schedules and such. We went to sleep and then woke up around 9 the next morning. Breakfast was good - cereal, fruit and toast. We then left for our walking tour.
Our tour guide’s name was Helena, and she’s a student at Trinity College, which was interesting. She’s lived in Dublin her whole life, and knew a lot of the ins and outs of the city. We went to Dublin Castle (the best part was definitely the oldest tower part, from about 800 years ago). Helena told us a lot of historical stories about various attempts to overthrow British rule in Ireland, all of which were interesting.
We went to see the Spire (the tallest sculpture in the world), St. Stephen’s Green, Christ Church Cathedral, Trinity College and several shopping streets. For lunch, we went to a pub called O’Neils (which is funny, because it’s the same place as where we go out in London). Jess and I decided to skip the lunch and go shopping for souvenirs. I got a mug, shot glass and a sweater from United Colors of Benneton, which I justified by remembering that it was Black Friday and obviously I had to buy something.. haha
We walked to St. Patrick’s Cathedral and took some pictures outside. We weren’t able to go inside - we didn’t have time and it cost money to get in. We then walked to the Guinness Storehouse. We spent about three hours on the tour. It was really cool to learn about the history of something that is so distinctly IRISH, and to see how much work goes into brewing beer. We had a sample taste at one point, and I surprisingly really enjoyed it. I’m not much of a beer person - I would much prefer a mixed drink, but since Guinness (though dark) isn’t carbonated, I really liked it a lot.
We then went to the Guinness Academy, and learned how to pour the perfect pint. It takes 119.5 seconds to pour and then let settle a perfect pint, which was interesting. We poured ours, and then got certificates to show that we had completed the class. Jess and I sat down and enjoyed the pint that we had poured ourselves, which was fun. We then went up another floor to the Gravity Bar, which offers 360 degree views of Dublin, which was fun. We hit the gift shop on the way out, and I got pint glasses, a bottle opener and a t-shirt.
We went back to the hostel, got ready, and then left around 7:30 for our Pub Crawl of Dublin. We went to five different bars and one club. At the first bar, we got a free drink, and we both had Bulmers to start off. The second bar we skipped so that we could eat dinner. At the third and last bars we got mixed drinks for a reduced price, which was fun. We went back to O’Neils, which was definitely the best one. There was a band (exactly like the band in Titanic where Jack takes Rose to the third class party), and they played Mumford and Sons. Everyone was drinking and singing, the band had a banjo and it was so much fun. We then got to see a step dancer, which was also really awesome. All in all, the pub crawl was a lot of fun, and lasted almost 5 hours.
The next morning, we got up at 7 and got on a bus for three hours to the Cliffs of Moher. I slept for most of it - we were still really tired from travelling and all the walking - but when I woke up we were rolling through the Irish countryside. I lost track of how many castles I saw, and the grass was as green as I anticipated. We got to the Cliffs right on schedule. It was absolutely FREEZING, but we sucked it up and went up to the highest point to the look-out tower and took a lot of pictures. Seeing as I got to college on the Atlantic Ocean, it was really cool to see the “other” side of it. After we took pictures, we had time to eat quick, and since it’s right on the sea, the restaurant had a lot of seafood to offer. Jess hates seafood, but I was in heaven, and had seafood chowder, which was one of the best things I’ve had this entire semester. We then got back on the bus for about an hour and a half, and arrived in Galway.
In Galway, we met our tour guide, who took us on a walking tour for about an hour. She showed us a lot of sights, and told us a lot of the history of the area. We ended across the river from the fishing village of Claddagh, and we went into a jewelry store and bought our own rings, which was a lot of fun. Jess and I are both sort of seeing guys in London, so we were joking with the store owner about how we “put the rings on sideways”, haha.
We then went to dinner, at a nice little cafe that does all day breakfast, and had pancakes, something we haven’t had since we arrived in London… it was amazing and full of fruit with actual maple syrup.
We then walked back down the main street, stopping at a few shops on the way. I got a nice ornament, and we spent awhile in a book store before heading back to the bus. It was about 2 and a half hours back to Dublin, and when we got back, we grabbed some food and then relaxed in our room.
The next morning, we got up around 10 and went down to breakfast, before packing up and heading back to the bus stop to go back to the airport. Our flight was at 2:40 and after some obnoxious arguing with ryanair employees about our bag size, we were on our way back to London. The flight was very turbulent, and of course was the worst when we were standing up waiting for the bathroom. We got back to London on time, got on the easybus, got dropped off at Earl’s court, got on the tube (which was beyond packed), switched lines a few time, walked back from Baker Street, and were FINALLY back at Regent’s at almost 7.
Dublin was infinitely better than Prague, and I really enjoyed going to Ireland, and would definitely go back again in the future :)
Last weekend, we travelled to Prague, Czech Republic. We arrived Thursday night to the Czech Inn hostel, around midnight. We had a car waiting for us, which was really awesome (and inspired the repeated line “here the fuck we are!!!!!!!” …. never felt so fancy). The car took us to the hostel (took about 40 minutes) and after checking into our room, we went straight to bed.
We woke up the next morning and had breakfast. The Czech Inn is lauded for “the best breakfast in Europe”, and though that might be a stretch, it was pretty good. We then had our walking tour of Prague. It was absolutely freezing in the city… probably around 35 degrees. Our walking tour took us to the Old Town Square first, where we saw the Astronomical Clock, and caught the display at noon. Though not overly impressive now, thinking that the clock was built a very long time ago and that it is animated, is really cool. There is a skull that rings a bell, and then several other figures move their heads. Above that, two doorways revealed the images of saints, and then to top it all off, a rooster crowed from the top. Apparently, the clock was voted the second most disappointing tourist attraction in the world, second only to the Mona Lisa, which I thought was funny.
We continued around the city, stopping at several sights. The other stand-out was the Jewish Quarter, where the Old Jewish Cemetery is just visible over the tops of shops. Apparently, there are almost 100,000 people buried in there, since at the time, Prague didn’t allow Jews to leave that specific area, and so they had to bury their bodies stacked on top of each other.
After our tour, we did a tour of the Prague Castle, which was nothing short of disappointing. It’s not a castle at all, it’s just a cluster of buildings that house many of Prague’s important things, including the president’s house. The best part was the cathedral; there was a lot of nice stained glass, though the nave was closed and we weren’t able to get up to the altar.
On Saturday, we were taken on a bus2alps tour to the Lennon Wall, and to the Charles Bridge. The Lennon Wall was a lot of fun - apparently, in the 1980s, local students transformed the wall into a sort of peaceful way to protest the things happening from the Cold War at the time. They used John Lennon lyrics (mostly to Imagine) and such to accomplish this. The police used to white wash it every day, but then at night, the students would come back and re-decorate the wall. Now, the police leave it alone, but it’s really cool, because it changes every single day. We took a lot of pictures in front of it - it’s really colorful and was definitely my favorite part of Prague.
Saturday afternoon, we had a traditional Czech meal. I had beef stroganoff, which was pretty good. They gave us beer also, but me and Jillian don’t like beer, and asked for water about 6 times, though we NEVER got it, which was annoying. We went shopping on Saturday night, and then went back to the hostel’s bar to have drinks with our whole group.
Sunday early afternoon we departed for the airport, and got back to London that night. I’m definitely glad I went to Prague, though it wasn’t AS exciting as I anticipated.
Monday, October 22nd, myself and my parents travelled to Paris on the Eurostar from St. Pancras. After 2 hours, we had arrived in Paris, and after a short taxi ride, we got to Hotel Valadon Colors. It was on a nice, quiet street only 10 minutes from the Eiffel Tower, but the room was so tiny that the three of us had a hard time getting around without bumping into each other. The shower was nice, though, and we didn’t spend enough time in the room to really complain about it. Our first afternoon, we went to the Louvre, and saw the Eiffel Tower along the way. Our hotel receptionist said that it was only about a 20 minute walk to the Louvre…it ended up being nearly an hour. We were able to see the Mona Lisa among other really great works, and after about 3 hours, we left the Louvre and went back to our hotel. We had dinner on the next street and went to bed.
The next morning, we bought 2 day tickets for the open bus tour of Paris; after having walked almost an hour to the Louvre (and knowing that other sights, like Notre Dame were even further away) we decided that some transport would be good. We got on and went to the catacombs, but unfortunately, they were shut down because of a air conditioning issue. We then had to go all the way back around the bus line to get to Notre Dame. We ate around the corner, and then went into the church, which was beautiful. “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” is one of my favorite Disney movies, and to see where it’s set was really great (I was humming the songs the whole time). We then climbed up to the top (422 stairs..!) and got some great views of Paris. After Notre Dame, I had a Crepe, which was delicious, and then we went to Sainte Chapelle Church, which is just surrounded by stained glass, which was beautiful. We then took the bus up to Champs Elysees and went shopping around, which was fun. We had dinner and then went back to our hotel.
On Wednesday, we got on the bus again, and went up to Moulin Rouge, which for me (since I LOOVE the movie) was really awesome. It was in a super sketchy area, and we got off the bus at Sacre Couer, a really cool looking church in Paris. There were a lot of idiotic men selling pieces of string (?) around, and their behavior just put us off of the church completely, and we ended up turning around and taking the bus to Hard Rock Cafe to eat lunch. After lunch, we headed back towards our hotel, through Champs Elysees and saw the James Bond Paris Premier with Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem and Ralph Fiennes, so that was pretty awesome.
We ate a late dinner and had drinks, and then went to bed so that we could get up early to catch our flight to Milan, which was around 11 out of Paris. It only took about an hour and a half, and we got to fly over the alps before we landed in Milan. We checked into our hotel, and set off for the Duomo. We climbed to the roof, and that was really awesome, though it was a little dizzy up there. The church itself was beautiful, though the outside is nicer than the inside. There was a particular sculpture, done by a student of da Vinci, that was really cool. It showed a martyr (I forget which one) with his skin hanging off of his back (including his head). The student did it after dissecting a dead body, something that was forbidden by the Catholic Church at the time. It was really cool, in a gross way. After, we took a quick nap, and then went to find where the Last Supper painting was (we had an early appointment the next morning and didn’t have time to get lost). We vaguely saw the Milan castle, and then walked down a shopping street, and had dinner.
The next morning, we got to see the Last Supper painting, which was even more impressive than I anticipated. It was HUUUGE and was a lot less worn than I thought it was going to be (I’ve seen pictures of it now and it looked like it was barely viewable). It was really awesome, and as someone who’s obsessssssed with the Da Vinci Code, it was especially great for me.
We flew back to London Friday night. It was a great trip :)
My Parents Travel to London
Friday the 19th, my parents arrived in London. The first day we went to the Museum of London (in the rain), and I took them over to Regent’s to see my school. Saturday, we did a full tour of London, though there was a protest going on about job and spending cuts in London, so it was difficult to get to Big Ben, but eventually, we were able to see everything. We took a boat cruise from Big Ben down to the Tower, and went into the Tower for a tour. After religiously watching the Tudors, the Tower was awesome for us!
Sunday, we went to Windsor to go to the castle. We took the train to Slough and then on to Windsor, ate lunch and then got in a huuuuuge line to get into the castle. It went a lot faster than expected and we got in after about 45 minutes. The castle was beautiful and a lot of fun (and full of history, which was great). After the castle, we went to Piccadilly for chinese food for dinner.
Monday, we left for Paris and Milan (separate post) and came back on Friday night. Saturday, we went to Westminster Abbey, and then saw WICKED at 2:30. Wicked was amaaaaazing and even my dad liked it (we told him that he would!) Sunday, we went to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in the morning, and then Covent Garden in the afternoon. We then went to the Sport’s Bar to see the Steelers play, and I stayed for a whopping NINE HOURS (though I did meet a nice guy..hmm)
Monday, my parents went to Stonehenge and Bath, and I went to class. Tuesday, we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Bart’s, Guildhall and the British Museum. We went to Piccadilly for dinner and went to a steakhouse. This morning, they left for the airport, and just texted me saying that their flight is NOT cancelled due to the hurricane, and they’re going to be the first flight from Heathrow to Newark, so that’s good news.
I’m really glad that they came to London, especially with their timing. I definitely needed people from home over the past few weeks, and it was great to see my parents. Only a few more weeks til I’m home, and it’s really bittersweet. On one hand, I’m looking forward to getting back to the familiar US, and to my family and friends at home and at Monmouth. But on the other hand, I’ve adapted so well to London, and am so comfortable in the city life, and being somewhere with no museums or tube is going to be strange. It was a great 2 weeks!
Wales, October 12-14; and Ms. Keri Perotti
On Friday, October 12th, we travelled to Swansea, Wales. There was about 20 of us going, and we all got on the train at Paddington and after 3 hours, we arrived in Wales. We took a bus to Parc Le Breos, a bed and breakfast in Gower. Once we arrived, we put our things in our room (we had a room of 6 - myself, Jillian, Alyssa, Shauna, and two girls that we didn’t know before, Natalie and Jordana). We then set off on a two hour trek to the beach and up to an old castle, before heading back to the ranch to eat dinner.
Dinner, and all of the food, was fantastic. We were practically silent as we ate because we’re so used to Regent’s food that anything remotely decent (and this food was GREAT) is just amazing to us. We had chicken the first night and I had lasagna the next night, and both mornings we got full breakfasts.
Saturday was the first day of Pony Trekking. Now, I’ve been horseback riding before, and I’m not necessarily a beginner. The manner and treatment of our group by the staff, however, was extremely rude, and very off-putting. We were trekking around on rocky paths and steep inclines and declines. I was scared as it was, and if I had never ridden before, I would have been downright terrified. The horses weren’t very well trained, and the people weren’t very helpful if you had a question or needed guidance to ride correctly. We decided at the end of the first day of riding that we weren’t going to go the second day.
The area was beautiful, though, and we were able to see some great sights (when we weren’t holding on for dear life). We stopped for lunch at the Gower Heritage Center and got hamburgers. The food was good, so the next day we walked down from the ranch to eat and wander around.
The trip wasn’t wasted, and after awhile, I was able to get used to my horse and the trails. At the end, we had bonded; he wouldn’t leave when the ride was over. It was also just nice to get out of the city for the weekend.
On the ride home, my mom texted me saying not to go on facebook when I got back to school, and to just call our house phone. I spent the last hour back to Regent’s in a panic, wondering what had happened. I got back, called my house, and my dad told me that one of my best friends, Keri, had been killed in a car accident the night before. I wasn’t able to go to the wake or to the funeral, which was all horrible…to be sitting in London and not be home with my family and friends was really devastating.
I’m lucky I have really great friends here who made sure that I was okay, and kept me company and made sure that I was occupied. My parents got to London that Friday, which was really great; if they hadn’t been coming here, I would have had to go home. They went to the wake; there were hundreds of people in attendance (though I’m not surprised at all) and spoke to Keri’s parents, who were asking about ME of all things. I hate Canaan, but in times like these, it’s great to be a part of a community that comes together to support each other. I don’t think Keri’s death will really hit me until I get home and she’s not there, and I guess I’ll take it from there. I’m really lucky that I knew someone like her, and we’ll always have July 17th 2009 when we met the Jonas Brothers. I know she wouldn’t want me to be in London thinking about her (she was really excited that I was coming here), so for now, I’m trying to stay positive and focused. It’ll all be okay, and I have an amazing guardian angel up there looking out for me.