Primark, Boots, London Scavenger Hunt, and Alcohol

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We made our way down Oxford Street Yesterday morning after a loooong assembly conducted by this ADORABLE English woman named Sophie. She is probably in her seventies and she talks like Mrs. Potts from Beauty and The Beast. Today she is wearing a flowy shirt with penguins on it, so she’s pretty much perfect.

We (myself, Jess, our roommate Michaela, and a girl from Pittsburgh, Mia) found Primark, which is like a cross between H&M, Home Goods, and Target. It’s huge and incredible. You could spend hours in there and not get bored at all. The prices are also very reasonable. I got a massive fluffy towel for six pounds and a flat sheet for five. We are going to go back and do clothes shopping, possible this afternoon, but it will honestly take a couple of days to navigate the whole store. I cannot say enough good things about Primark.

After Primark we went across the street to Boots, which is like a classier version of Rite Aid. I bought cleaner, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, and a waterproof shower bag. I also got a straightening iron for 20 pounds, which I am sharing with a few other people. American straightening irons will blow a fuse if you try to use them with adaptors on British plugs. Who knew? I also got a little primitive cell phone. I still have not memorized my new phone number, but I do know it starts with a zero. Very strange. Jess and I also geeked out at a bookstore that is located dangerously close to campus. It looked like something out of Harry Potter, like the bookshop at Diagon Alley.

We brought all our new stuff back to the room and headed back out for Trafalgar Square, where we met up with our group for a London Scavenger hunt. We managed to figure out the Tube, but it took longer than anticipated, so we ended up going on the scavenger hunt with a later group. They broke us off into smaller groups of six. I did not know anyone in my group but everyone ended up being really cool. Two of them are from Missouri. I swear, if you aren’t from New Hampshire here, there is a 99 percent chance you are from Missouri.

We walked EVERYWHERE. We saw Big Ben, the London Eye, The British Museum (from the outside) and Covent Gardens. We had to answer questions, take a picture with a cop, a horse, and a phone booth, among other things. The scavenger hunt ended at a pub that was incredibly hard to find. We ended up eating dinner there. Jess ordered a kangaroo burger and I’m a little traumatized. The Brits are very lax about alcohol from what I have experienced so far. They didn’t even card us when we got drinks, and we ordered a “fishbowl” of something fruity, and a pitcher of something else of the fruity variety. We managed to get back on the tube, which is starting to make more sense now. It is more complicated than the T, but London is a much larger city.

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Flight, Arrival, and Sob Story

The flight took off from Logan at 5:55 PM, precisely. I hate taking off. My ears pop and it feels weird and unnatural. Not my cup of tea. (I’m hilarious.)

The flight attended noticed my death grip on Jess’s hand and asked if I was okay. When I said yes, I’ll be fine as soon as we stop ascending, she carried on with checking seat belts. THEN LATER, God bless her, she came back with actually delicious broccoli macaroni and cheese.

“Would you like some wine with that, dear?”

Yup.

So, my first legal drink was a mini bottle of some spanish white wine, which was chugged swiftly at a cruising altitude of 30,000 feet. Twenty minutes later, I passed out with my feet up on the empty middle seat, being lulled to sleep by the sounds of Gloria shrieking at Jay in “Modern Family”. The flight was pretty much perfect.

We landed early and got through customs without any problems and grabbed our suitcases at baggage claim. We dragged our enormous bags onto the Heathrow Express, then the Heathrow Connect, and ended up in Paddington Station in search of a cab. The cabbie was super nice, super British, and totally tolerant of our squeals coming from the backseat as we commented on how strange it is to be driving on the “wrong” side of the road.

We were dropped off in front of a building we didn’t recognize and we had to push our suitcases through cobblestone and puddles to get to Reid Hall. Eventually we made it and we got our room keys. We are up about ten flights of stairs in a building with no elevator, and SURPRISE! We got a triple. So, who would our mysterious third roommate be?

She didn’t show up until about 2 in the afternoon, but when she did, Jess was pleasantly surprised that she hailed from Rhode Island. She also shares a major with me, and started off her studies at UNH. So many coincidences.

Today was a big information day. Jess and I squeezed in a three hour nap which kept both of us alive. The beds are not impressive, and we only get a fitted sheet – no flat sheet! They do things differently here in the UK. I managed a shower, but was unimpressed by those too. The doors are translucent glass and they are prone to flooding. The bathroom itself is very nice. There is no reason why the showers have to be so bad, but I’m going to get a huge towel and a shower caddy tomorrow, so hopefully that will help the cause. I also realized I forgot my laundry bag, which I need to purchase at Primark tomorrow. I’m going with a couple people I met today that we were grouped with for a scavenger hunt. We ended up doing the hunt on the internet in this girl’s room and just getting to know each other. This kid from Missouri told us about something his sister did, which led us to ask about her. Turned out she died a year ago of Adrenal Gland Cancer at 14. He wears a dog tag with the last thing he ever said to her, engraved into it. The six of us got about as close as you can get in a two hour window. I cried on the floor of the room, partially from exhaustion, but mostly from the story. I’ve been awake for far too many hours, and that was the tipping point on my mental exhaustion.

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One Day Till Takeoff

This is going to be short because I have to finish packing, but holy cow it’s almost time to fly! I’ve played with my adaptors and made lists and thumbed through my Fodor’s guide and it’s becoming real life. Packing is not easy or fun. Four months in two suitcases? I don’t know how that’s possible. Plus, leaving room for the fruits of my inevitable shopping sprees? Downright impossible.

Packing

Bon Voyage, Yankees!

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Hipster Level: 10,000

It’s incredibly expected of liberal arts students to throw together a WordPress blog documenting their experiences abroad. It’s pretty much guaranteed that 99% of the time, said students are studying in Europe. I am very typical in this respect. Hopefully, however, whomsoever is reading this will get something out of it. I’m not going for “show-offy” or “hipster” with this blog. Place me in a category if you will, but I like the layout far better than Facebook albums because it allows for more room to write, and prettier formats. As half an English major, I need room to write.

If this blog inspires my readers to travel, than I’ve done something positive. As of now, I am twenty years old and I have yet to see Canada, or any country that isn’t America the Beautiful. I’ve been enjoying the safe confines of the University of New Hampshire, but it’s time to move on to greener (grayer? rainier?) pastures. Or cities. For a semester.

Saying goodbye to Breaking New Grounds and Crack Shack have been hard, but leaving my friends at school have been harder. Luckily, I have my blonde, walking J. Crew advertisement and partner in crime, Pawtucket’s only Jessica Treanor. In fifteen days, we will be boarding an Iberia plane at Logan International Airport in Boston and taking off over the pond for Heathrow Airport in London. If we make it to our dorm at Regent’s College from there, it will be a miracle.

Until that fateful day, January 14th, 2014…Cheerio! I might write a little post on the plane to kill some time. You have so much to look forward to.

I’m utterly chuffed to bits.

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