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Lessons from the Airport

As I’m writing this, I’m sitting in the parlor of my cousin’s house in Horsham, England, which is 20 minutes outside  of the center of London. It’s day one of my trip abroad. I’m sipping some tea with a little bit of milk while my cousins look at the map of London and help me plan our trip for tomorrow by train. A dinner of meat and 2 vegetables is cooking on the oven and stove. I’ve been up for 26 hours straight, and I’m having a blast!

Shops on Swan Drive in Horsham

But it hasn’t all been fun and games. I’ve already made some mistakes and learned some valuable lessons. Lessons that those of you who want to study abroad should learn.

  1. Just because someone is an “adult” doesn’t mean they will be kind. I learned this after the entire flight departing MCI had to valet check and retrieve bags in Chicago. What. A. Nightmare.
  2. Yes, you’re an adult. Yes, you can do this by yourself. No, you don’t have to. Unfortunately, I also learned this by experience. After looking for my connecting flight to Madrid from Chicago (through a partner airline) in 3 different places, I broke down and asked for help. That was where I got my answers.
  3. The aircraft might board late. Even an hour late. You’ll still make it on time. They’ve built in room for delays on the arrival times!
  4. If you’re studying a foreign language, practice as much as you can! I did this on my flight to Madrid and the connecting flight from Madrid to London. Even though my study abroad program is in Scotland, I stepped out of my comfort zone to practice Spanish and was not disappointed. I even had a little fun speaking only Spanish
    History of Horsh

    for 10 hours!

  5. Gates will change. Your boarding pass won’t say it. You’ll wait in line for the new gate, then have to wait in a line for customer service to fix your boarding pass by WRITING the new gate, then wait in line again. You’ll run to your gate and barely make it there on time, being the 2nd-to-last passenger to be checked in. And you’ll do all of this in one hour and STILL make it on time.
  6. Customs takes a LONG time to get through. Everyone is in the same boat as you. Be happy, be patient, and you’ll get through it.
  7. Having fun depends on you. Yes, I had hiccups throughout my journey, but so will you. There’s never a better time to learn about yourself and other people than when you travel. Be open and good experiences will find you.

Safe travels, all!

 


Emily McIntyre is a sophomore at the University of Missouri-Kansas City studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship with a Spanish minor. Emily is involved with several student organizations, including UMKC Enactus, which uses entrepreneurship to solve needs in the community. She’s looking forward to studying abroad this summer with the UMKC Honors Program in Scotland, where she plans to explore more of her family heritage and country of origin.

Student blog entries posted to the Roos Abroad Blog may not reflect the opinions and recommendations of UMKC Study Abroad and International Academic Programs. The blog is intended to give students a forum for free expression of thoughts and experiences abroad in a respectful space.

You want beans with that?

 Getting used to the food in England has been pretty easy surprisingly. While England is mostly known for Fish & Chips, England offers much more than that when it comes to cuisine. Popular dishes and food items here include Yorkshire Pudding, Chicken Tikka, Spaghetti Bolognese, Pizza, Bangers and Mash, and Shepherd’s pie. As you can tell from the things I listed England provides a variety of food, however one food item seems to be very consistent in ever day life in England; beans. Baked beans are extremely popular in the U.K, no matter where you go. At the Lawns cafeteria (the cafeteria located by my dorms in Hull, England) beans is ALWAYS offered as a side dish. While every other side dish gets switched out on a daily basis, you can always count on beans to be there. Not only are beans eaten for lunch and dinner but they are also consumed for breakfast! It is perfectly normal to have a side of beans with your eggs and sausage. So if you plan on coming to the U.K. I sure hope you like beans!

Solo Travel P. II

Upon arriving in Krakow, I checked my bags and headed into town to make one of two guided tours of the day. The first was of the Jewish Quarter and lasted for nearly three hours. We visited many historic sites, including many locations from the movie Schindler’s List. We ended the tour at the actual factory and were invited to walk through the museum, but because I only had one free day in Krakow, I chose to walk back to the Old Town and start another tour. The Old Town tour I took in the afternoon was interesting and intimate, being only three people and the guide. We walked throughout the Main Market Square and listened to the guide tell us different facts, some of which were about Pope John Paul II. We concluded the trip at Wawel Castle, which is one of the most captivating buildings I’ve seen, architecturally speaking because of the noticeable varied influences and designs throughout the castle. I spent the rest of the evening talking with a group of people staying at the hostel. We all managed to book different trips to Auschwitz the following day.

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My trip to the concentration camp was the only thing I planned for that day, and I could probably write an entire post on that experience alone. This is the second Nazi camp I’ve been to, but Dachau was a work camp as opposed to a death camp. Auschwitz I was our first stop; many of the barracks have been turned into exhibits. After visiting a few, our mini bus took us to Birkenau. The sheer size of the camp was overwhelming and intimidating, with the infamous train tracks leading through the gate. Being in a Nazi camp is like nothing I have ever experienced before and I full-heartedly think everyone should once in their lifetime.

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After an incredible, but exhausting two days in Poland, I left early to catch a flight to Copenhagen. Meandering around the city the first day, my full day was spent on more guided tours. By this point in the trip, my feet had blisters upon blisters and I was sort of tired of traveling alone. But there really isn’t a better place to cheer yourself up than Copenhagen. The people truly are as friendly as they are stereotyped to be. The city is beautiful, so picturesque and vibrant. One thing I suggest anyone who visits is to walk, or enter, Tivoli Gardens at night and experience the magic that prompted Walt Disney to create his empire.

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My final stop was Amsterdam in the Netherlands. I only had one afternoon here before catching a flight back to London. I walked through the canals from the hostel to Museumplein, the art district of Amsterdam. I made my way through the beautiful Rijksmuseum and had lunch in the park before visiting the Van Gogh museum. Afterwards, I walked through a street market, as recommended by the receptionist at the hostel and through the city center, making a stop at Anne Frank’s house before heading in for the night.

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When I started my study abroad experience, I never though I would have traveled on my own. Looking back now, this is the best thing I could have ever done, and is definitely one of the highlights of my whole experience. For anyone considering making a solo-travel trip, I could not suggest it highly enough. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Thank you so much for keeping up with me, and I really hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about my travels as much as I’ve enjoyed reliving them.

Xx Jessica

Solo Travel P. I

After my Once In A Lifetime spring break trip, I landed back at Heathrow with my three incredible friends. Feeling happy, despite the shock of the disgustingly cold English weather. However, there was one more trip we planned to take, our “family vacation”. But, due to circumstances beyond my control, it suddenly looked like that trip wasn’t going to happen. So, in-between my finishing my final assignments, I planned a ten-day stint starting the day after I was due to submit them. The thing was, none of my friends wanted to go with me, and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my time and insatiable desire to see the world. So I finalized the details of my solo trip and booked everything within five days of returning to the UK. Now, I just had to tell my mom.

Leaving early on a Tuesday morning, I headed to Gatwick airport to catch a flight to Budapest, Hungary. Never in my life did I think I would have the chance to end up here, or any of the places I visited really. My plan was to spend about two days in each city, visiting a total of five countries. I booked airfare, bus and train tickets, and a guided tour, simply banking on the hostels I was to stay at to provide any other information I might need.

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I remember the sense of freedom I had as I walked through the streets of Budapest that first night (god, how crazy does that sentence sound?). I’ve been lucky to visit so many different places and see incredible sights, but the first time I have ever felt truly free was that night. The following day, was a dreary one, filled with grey skies and rain, perfect company for the walking tour I had planned. I visited so many different sights and learned so much about the beautiful city of Budapest, and even met someone from Missouri!

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The next morning, I left for the bus station which would get me to Prague by mid-afternoon. Prague is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I am so glad I had the chance to return. I revisited some old sites, the Old Town Square in particular, before making my way to some new ones, like the John Lennon wall. I fit in two tours during my only full day there, one focused on art and modern Prague, the other on the effects of the Nazi Regime. One mandatory site I planned when deciding to go to Prague was to see the St. Cyril and Methodius Cathedral, which was prompted by a book I read a few weeks prior, called “HHhH”. This book details the assassination of Nazi leader Reinhart Heydrich and the Czech and Slovak paratroopers Jan Kubiš and Jozef Gabčík who carried out the attack, and in turn were killed, along with a few other allies, in an attempt by the Nazi police to take them. The small cathedral is the site of the altercation between the paratroopers and the SS and houses a memorial and museum dedicated to the soldiers. It was a story I hadn’t heard prior to reading the book, which by the way is a favorite of one of my tour guides, and I was honored to see it in person.

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That night I went to the train station to catch my pre-booked train to Poland. However, I seemed to have booked the wrong ticket. So, having to purchase a new ticket last minute, which ended up cheaper than the original ticket I’d bought, I managed to finally board my train and arrived in Krakow as the sun rose.

Since this post is already incredibly wordy, I’m going to split it up and post the second half in the following days. Thanks for reading; please stay tuned!

Xx Jessica

Luck of the Irish

Traveling to Dublin, Ireland was probably the fourth longest days of my life (funny how the longest days of my life are on this trip). We started out at six in the morning and went to the train station, where we caught a couple trains. But we took a lot of trains and switched and then took a two hour ferry ride. By the time we got to our hotel we had been traveling for fourteen hours.

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As you can imagine we turned in early for the night. The next morning was our lazy morning and we woke up and had breakfast before taking a bus tour of the city. Right before our bus tour though, a bird pooped on Jessica, my mom and I. So I guess the luck of the Irish wasn’t on our side. However, because my parents’ knees went out we didn’t get off the bus to see anything and there wasn’t anything spectacular that caught our eye. So after the bus tour Jessica and I walked around the town for a bit before going back to the hotel for a nap. Later on we met up with my parents for dinner and went to Hard Rock Cafe and then crashed for the night.

Our next morning was another early one and another fourteen our tour to the Cliffs of Moher. This tour was better though because one our tour guide was hilarious and shared great stories, two we got to stop every now and then and get off the bus to take pictures and three it felt like we got to actually see what we came to see. We spent an hour and a half to two hours at the Cliffs of Moher. The view was absolutely breathtaking and you better believe that I took a million pictures.

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After the tour and the long bus ride back we turned in for the night to head home for London the next day. If I were to go back and visit any of the countries I traveled to I would definitely come back to Scotland and Ireland to explore more. The people were so warm and friendly and surprisingly the weather was beautiful in Ireland.

After this post I’ll be posting one more about my first week back in the states. It’s crazy to think I started this blog five months ago and now my time for writing in it has come to an end.

Wee Coo

It’s been a while since i’ve posted on here and I apologize for that, but by now a lot of things have happened and the biggest one is me coming home (we’ll get to that later). This post is going to be about Edinburgh, Scotland.

It’s been 18 days since I left for Scotland, but because things were wrapping up so quickly I didn’t have time to update, so I’m going to do my best to remember the main points from the few days I was in Scotland. To begin with we got off to a rocky start, simply because my parents slept in my small little dorm because the scheduling for the hotels got messed up. So the three of us were cooped up in my dorm with all of our luggage. My parents took my bed and I slept on the floor under my desk. With paper thin walls you can probably imagine that none of us got any sleep, not to mention that the dorm beds were the absolute worst.

But nonetheless we were up at 4:30am after about four hours of sleep, roughly. We then took the 72 bus to Barnes and from Barnes we went to Kings Cross/St. Pancreas. From there we took a train to York where my parents planned a five hour little trip. Little did we know York was the last place we wanted to be. When we got there it was cold and rainy and my mom had caught a cold and her knee had gone out, as well as my dad’s. We dropped our luggage off at this little building that held luggage for travelers and then we tried to explore York.

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After wandering around York for a bit we found a little pub and got food. When we were done eating we stopped at a pharmacy for my parents then continued to wander, only to find out the places they wanted to see cost to get in. At this rate none of us were really feeling this trip so we decided to go back and wait at the train station for the rest of our time.

Jump forward a handful of hours and we were finally in Scotland and at our hotel. We caved in and ate at the expensive restaurant in the hotel. After dinner we all crashed. The next morning was our lazy day where we hiked up to Edinburgh Castle. Unfortunately it was foggy and freezing so we didn’t get any good pictures. Exploring the castle would’ve been more fun if it hadn’t been freezing and we hadn’t gotten separated from my dad. Once we found him we found a pub for dinner then headed back for our next long day.

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The next day was our Loch Ness Tour and it was fourteen hours long. Unfortunately it didn’t go as planned due to our bus driver getting sick, so they had to switch drivers, which gave us an hour delay on the bus. Once we got rolling through it was pretty interesting. Our tour guide told us about Queen Marry of Scots and I found it really interesting mostly because I watch the show Reign. The bus tour was long and it took us 4 and ½ hours to get to Loch Ness. However, I didn’t mind too much because the scenery was breathtaking. Our tour guide told us that Scottish people replace their vowels with an ‘oo’ sound so a cow would be a ‘coo’. Many times she pointed out the ‘coos’.

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Once we got to Loch Ness we were given a small picnic and an hour and a half to look around. The tour was definitely more bus than tour, but I still had fun at Loch Ness. We took a few pictures and explored what we could before getting back on the bus to our long journey home. Once we got back to Edinburgh we got a late dinner at a Turkish restaurant and then crashed. Our next day was our last full day, but it was a lazy one.

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By then we were all exhausted so we didn’t do much. Jessica and I went shopping for a bit while my parents did laundry. When we got back to the hotel we had a bit of a plot twist and were locked out of our rooms. Due to another schedule mishap with hotels we had to check out of our rooms and move to another one. The one we had to move to wasn’t nearly as big and mine and Jessica’s beds were right next to each other, opposed to our other room where we each had a king size bed and could sleep diagonal. As disappointing as it was, it was also humorous. It was our last night there though and we headed to bed early that night since we had another early travel morning. The hotel was very accommodating though and left us a very luxurious breakfast. As sad as it was to leave Scotland we were all ready to go onto Ireland.

Updates and Apologies

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I’m on the last leg of my study abroad experience, currently on a ferry from Ireland to Wales to make my way back Londontown (*EDIT: this was a few days ago, now I’m homeward bound!). I leave to go home in less than a week (*EDIT: today), and the last time I’ve updated you was mid-March. Since then, I’ve traveled with my best friend, crushed (and was crushed by) my exams, and embarked on my first ever solo trip.

I wanted to make this quick post to let you know, if anyone is exclusively following this blog, that I am, in fact, alive. I’ll be updating this blog pretty frequently with a different post for each city I’ve visited:

– Madrid, Spain
– Barcelona, Spain
– Venice, Italy
– Rome, Italy
– Naples, Italy
– Athens, Greece
– Budapest, Hungary
– Prague, Czech Republic
– Krakow, Poland
– Copenhagen, Denmark
– Amsterdam, Netherlands
– Edinburgh, Scotland
– Dublin, Ireland
– Leeds, England
– Dover, England
– Brighton, England

Hopefully you’re more excited than overwhelmed by the amount of posts coming your way. Again, I’m truly sorry it’s taken me so long to write this post, any post. I appreciate you keeping up with me!
Xx Jessica

Hakuna Matata

These past couple of days have been super busy and packed and with my parents being here I will be out and about more often than not. As promised this post will include my trip to Madame Tussaud’s, Tower of London and my favorite activity thus far…The Lion King Musical.

Two days ago I started my day early and woke up at 7:30 and got ready to go and meet my parents and go to the Tower of London. The Tower of London is massive and there’s so much to see and do. You can walk around the wall of the castle, go up in the White Tower as well as many others, but my favorite thing was seeing the crown jewels. It’s insane to think that there’s a room that holds a priceless amount of jewels and gold that was worn by kings and queens of the past and present. It’s even crazier to think that all it does now is sit in a room for people to look and admire. I can’t even imagine having that much wealth within my possession.

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After climbing many stairs in the Tower of London and three hours later we got lunch before heading over to Madame Tussauds. Madame Tussauds is so cool and they have so many wax figures of not only celebrities, but world leaders as well. It’s crazy to think how much work they put into each wax figure. They’ve got it down to the freckles on the person’s arm to facial hair and outfits. The wax figures are also the exact height of the celebrities, actors and world leaders, so it was funny to take pictures with them and seeing how tall they actually are in comparison to myself. Madame Tussauds was something I’ve wanted to go to for a long time so I’m glad I finally got to go and take my parents. They were completely blown away by it all.

Once we finished at Madame Tussauds we went to Westfield mall so I could get mini pancakes, ice cream and Nutella as well as my parents getting to see the giant mall that is forty-two acres. We also had dinner at this Mexican restaurant Wahacca. It was pretty good and decently priced. When we finished browsing through the mall it was time to call it a day. We had officially been on our feet for over twelve hours and were all exhausted, so we headed home so we could be well rested for The Lion King musical.

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The next day we met up with my parents and I introduced them to my friend Holden. Everyone had a laugh as my mom taught us personality traits based off physical appearance. It’s hard to explain, but know it’s a real thing you used to be able to study (you probably still can). Once we got to the theatre we found our seats and waited for the show to begin. As soon as the screen went up and the music started to play I instantly got chills. I wish I could give the show justice by describing it, but to say that it was “outstanding” and “the best show I’ve ever been too” (and I’ve seen Les Mis, Wicked and Peter and the Star Catcher) is an understatement. The costumes were beautifully done and lit up the state, the music and singing was on point and oh my goodness don’t even get me started on lighting and stage.

The lighting was superb and the stage…the stage completely blew me away! Every hard thing that is shown in the movie such as Mufassa dying and the battle between Simba and Scar was done excellently! When the scene with the stampede came up I was a little skeptical on how they were going to pull it off, but they did it! They had wildebeest heads on a huge wooden pole, each one in set back a bit and in front of it so when they turned the pole it looked like they were running after Simba and to show depth and closeness they had other actors who simply wore wildebeest heads to show they were getting closer. Everyone was on the edge of their seats at this point.

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When Simba ran away to the jungle with Timon and Pumba the set went from warm, hot colors to cool and peaceful blues and greens. The scene where Simba runs into Rafiki and he sees his dad in the sky was done beautifully. Overall the musical was amazing and not only did it capture everything from the movie, but it made you emotional as well. Many people teared up when Mufassa died. However, throughout the play I couldn’t help but compare it to Hamlet, thanks to my previous Shakespeare class.

Needless to say I rushed down to the main shop and bought the soundtrack. I can honestly say that The Lion King was definitely one of the best highlights of this trip so far. Anyways, I’ve got another day ahead of me, I’m taking my parents to the best Greek restaurant in London and then we’re going to explore some more of this crazy city. So until next time.

<3

Reunited

The countdown has finally come to an end. Two days ago my parents arrived and words cannot describe how happy I was (and still am) to see them. The day after I got back from Brighton my parents arrived in London Heathrow at nine in the morning. I figured it would take them two hours to get to their hotel so I went to their hotel in Putney to meet them with a bag full of little breakfast pastries and goodies.

I waited in the lobby for almost three hours until they came in. I saw my mom from my peripherals first and I got up with a huge smile and said “Hey!” My mom immediately perked up and pulled me into a hug, only to start crying a few seconds later. Thankfully my emotions were mostly in check otherwise there would have been a room full of Scoby women crying. Next was my dad and I gave him a hug as well. It might sound weird to say this, but I didn’t realize how much I missed them until I saw them. Five months is a long time to go without hugging your parents and I don’t recommend it. You need to hug your parents every day, especially when you’ve got such great parents like mine who are willing to travel across the world and visit you in Europe for three weeks. I didn’t realize how much I missed all their little quirks. Things that used to aggravate me are now things that I adore.

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Anyways, enough of the mushy gushy stuff. After they got settled in I treated them to Wagamama’s, which if you’re not familiar with it’s really good Asian food. After getting caught up and we finished our meal they headed back to the hotel to relax (they didn’t sleep on the plane) before we headed to the Shard later that evening for dinner.

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Taking my parents to the Shard was mine and Jessica’s treat. On our way to the Shard we stopped at Westminister so they could get some pictures of Big Ben and the London Eye. After we took a few pictures we headed back on the tube to the Shard. We ate at the restaurant Oblix, and I’ll start by saying you don’t go to Oblix for food. You go for the view. The view was amazing and breathtaking. You can literally see so much of London from that restaurant (it’s on the 32nd floor). Even though the food wasn’t as amazing as I’d hoped it’d be, we all had a good time and were ready to turn in for the night, because my parents had a big day ahead of them.

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The next morning they went to the Harry Potter Warner Brother’s Studio Tour and we met up with them later that evening to take them to Nandos at Westfield Mall. Unfortunately we got there near closing time so we only had time to eat, so we’ll definitely have to go back and explore. The next day though (being today) was pretty busy.

My parents took the bus to Roehampton and from Roehampton we went to Hampton Court Palace. We easily killed a few hours exploring the palace, in complete awe of all the history that was surrounding us. After we explored the palace we went into the gardens and the maze. When Hampton Court was done we headed back to Putney and I introduced them to Byron Burgers. They loved the food, even if the portions were a little overwhelming. After that we called it a night.

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Tomorrow I will be waking up at 7:30am to meet up with my parents and go to Tower of London. After we explore a bit there we’ll be going to Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum. I am so stoked to go there! My last Europe trip I wasn’t able to go, so I’m more than looking forward to tomorrow. I’m sure I’ll have a post about tomorrow’s adventure, but until next time.

<3

Brighton(ed) My Weekend

Three days ago I got back from my trip from Brighton and I can honestly say it was one of my favorite trips I went on. To start with Brighton is a beach town so it was lovely to lay by the beach for hours at a time, even if it was a rock beach instead of a sand one. However, Brighton is known for it’s pier where they have a little carnival area set up. There’s two main roller coasters, a lot of upside, topsy-turvy, spiny rides as well as two giant arcades. The pier alone is enough to keep you busy for a few hours, seeing as how it is one of Brighton’s main attractions.

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Along the pier and the beach front there are many restaurants and little shops to go into. Brighton is a busy town filled with many cool things to see. There’s street performers (we saw a guy playing an accordion on a tight rope), there’s a lot of cute little quirky shops towards the city centre of Brighton and of course, a ton of restaurants.

Most of my time and my friends (I went with Jessica and Holden) were spent on the beach throwing rocks into the ocean. Our hotel was less than a block away from the ocean, so we saw it every day as soon as we stepped out the door. It was nice to go on a little trip that we didn’t have a strict itinerary for. Brighton was our relaxing beach vacation, so we didn’t feel pressured to do everything at once or stay out late. We simply enjoyed our time and each other’s company.

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On our second day in Brighton we found this cute little cafe that had the most delicious breakfast food for a very reasonable price and huge portions. Needless to say we went back there again for breakfast the next morning. Our time in Brighton was short but it was well spent, lazing around at the beach taking pictures or on the pier riding rides or even exploring town and all the cute, little, quaint shops. As excited as I was to go to Brighton I was even more excited for it to end because that meant that the next day I got to see my parents. Jump forward three days and they are now here and have been exploring London! I’d tell you more about what they’ve done, but that’s for another post. Until next time though.

<3