Going to See Plays in London

     For my intro to London stage class I’ve been to see about 4 shows total. The best part about it is that I don’t have to go to see certain shows by myself! Some notable theatre’s that I’ve been to are the London National theatre and the Phoenix theater.

      My classmates all meet up by the library at 6 every Thursday and we set out to see a new play at a new venue every week. It’s interesting because every venue is different in every way. Whether it’s the size, location or even the spectators. It’s very refreshing to be at a new theatre every week for these purposes. Here there is a theatre on every corner, back home I can count the amount of theatres we have on my hand! Anyways every time we go out, I’m always excited to go out and see what’s in store for the new week.

     Last week I went to see a play that was for a deaf audience. It was so interesting to see a play from that perspective. There’s a girl in my class who is losing her hearing and I just love that as a class and theatre community we can all appreciate different audiences.

      The only downside to seeing plays every week (and I know how could there be a downside??) is the money I spend for transportation. I do sometimes get lucky and find buses to the theatre, but I doesn’t happen often. I wish that there were more frequent cheap options available, but I usually have to take the tube or train. It’s fine though because the shows I see make up for it!!

     I don’t even spend time thinking about it because the shows are so good. I think I brought this up before, but yes transportation isn’t cheap here so when I go out, I try to stay out for my money’s worth. Some people leave straight from class and spend the entire evening in central London until the play starts. I should start doing this, but I never can find anyone to tag along from my class. Usually people leave class and eat or do whatever they need to do before leaving to see the play.

     Once I was out at a theatre with my class and I saw Emilia Clarke, she’s an actress in Game of Thrones. I spotted her about 15 minutes after I got to the theatre. After the show, we went to see a one man play called baby reindeer, the whole class saw her. I wanted to go up to her but everyone said it was inappropriate. Big cultural shock for me, but now at least I know! See you guys soon!

Kierra M. Fayne is a junior at the University of Missouri- Kansas City studying theatre performance. Kierra is spending the fall semester abroad with the Missouri-London Semester Program: University of Roehampton. She plans to study theatre in London to seek new techniques and tools that will help her tackle performances with more ease. Kierra was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, where she has made connections that have helped her identify her goals to study theatre performance. She is now ready to spread her wings, find connections, and make new friends in London.

Disclaimer:  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. The opinions or statements expressed herein should not be taken as a position or endorsement of the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Spring Break Diaries: Days 10 &11, Lincoln to Cambridge and Home Again

This was my last day of my guided tour with Rabbie’s before heading back to Edinburgh. We spent the entire morning in Lincoln and left at noon for Cambridge. Today was less exciting than the previous days with fewer stops and longer road time, but the places were no less interesting.

The two main points of interest in Lincoln are the cathedral and castle. They sit opposite IMG_0669each other and are only a couple minutes walk apart. Like many castles which are made as defense points, the Lincoln castle is on top of a large hill (Castle Hill) and it is a steep walk from High Street to the gates.

Visitors can go in the castle promptly at 10, not a second earlier. You will know when its time by the ringing of the bells in the cathedral.

Lincoln has over 2000 years of history and has its origins as Roman town. Before the castle was a Roman fortress built in AD 43. When the army moved on in AD 78 the fortress officially got the status as a Roman town and was named Lindum Colonia.

Lincoln gets its name from the Romans and on top of the fortress a medieval castle was IMG_0673built by William the Conqueror. The castle was the residence of the constable who was responsible for the defense and maintenance of the castle. The sheriff stayed within the walls when collecting taxes and when presiding over shire court, and a small force of soldiers and servants were permanently in residence. The castle at Lincoln has some brutal history. It was a site of uprisings, battles, hangings, persecutions, and in Victorian times a prison.

Stories and sites at Lincoln Castle:

  • William Pickett and Henry Carey, 1859
    • These two were convicted murders and the last prisoners to be publicly hanged at the castle. The hangings occurred at Cobb Hall gallows, and a laughing and jeering crowd of 15000 came to watch. This is one of the largest crowds to gather for a public hanging in Lincoln.
  • The Lincolnshire Rising, 1536
    • The heavy taxation and closures of monasteries by Henry VIII led to a uprising in Lincolnshire. 10000 protesters stood outside the gates. In a letter Henry called the county, ‘the most brute and beastly of the whole realm’. Forces were sent to the city and the crowd dispersed, but over 100 rebels were later imprisoned and several were hung, drawn and quartered.
  • Visit from King Henry VIII, 1541
    • King Henry and his wife of the time, Catherine Howard walked the walls of the castle and viewed the populace below them. Henry by this time was extremely overweight and the walk was painful for his legs, while in contrast his wife was young and beautiful. The queen was rumored to have been having an illicit affair with Thomas Culpepper and seven months later she was executed for adultery and treason.
  • Housing of the Manga Carta
    • 800 years ago King John and the barons met and agreed to a charter that would change history and become the most important document in England and one of the most important documents in the world. The Manga Carta enshrined the principle that the king had to act within the rule of law. In 1217, the Manga Carta was re-issued with some original clauses incorporated into the second charter, Charter of the Forest. Lincoln Castle is the only place in the world where an original 1215 Manga Carta and 1217 Charter of the Forest can be seen in the same room.
  • A battle within and outside the castle walls, 1141
    • King Stephen was at war with his cousin Matilda over the English crown, and within the castle he fought to regain control of the castle after it had been stolen by Ranulf, Earl of Chester. This battle became known as the Joust of Lincoln. During this King Stephan was captured and imprisoned by Matilda but was later released seven months later and restored to the throne with the capture of Matilda’s half-brother.
  • Civil War, 1217
    • Lady Nicola de la Haye had just withstood a 40-day siege on the castle by Richards I’s chancellor, Longchamps, who was demanding the loyalty of supporters of Prince John. Then in 1215, King John’s refusal to honor the Manga Carta led to a civil war and brought another battle to Lincoln Castle. The rebel barons allied themselves with Prince Louis of France and seized control of parts of England, including Lincoln. But the castle, a royalist stronghold, held out against the French forces and rebel barons.

Outside the castle you can still see the outer gate and wall. The space between the outer

The Outer Wall

gates and the inner walls was known as the ‘killing space’. This area would force the invaders into a close and tight space making it harder for them to attack and ram their way through the doors. It also made it easier for the soldiers defending to take down their forces from the high walls above. Only a small section still stands and walking through one of the three arches leads you to the front entrance of the cathedral.

In 1072 William the Conqueror ordered the first cathedral to be built in Lincoln. William wanted the cathedral and his castle close to one another ‘so that in glorifying God he could make clear who was in charge on earth!’ The cathedral was mostly destroyed by a fire in 1141  and was rebuilt and expanded, only to be destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. King Henry II approved of St. Hugh of

View from Lincoln Castle

Avalon as Bishop of Lincoln in 1186, and St. Hugh began a major rebuilding project of the cathedral in a gothic style. The cathedral we see today was finished in 1280. The central tower rises to 271 feet and is the tallest cathedral tower in Europe without a spire. The tower originally had a wooden spire that rose 525 feet, but collapsed in 1549 in bad weather. The cathedral was the first building to ever reach a height greater than the Great Pyramid of Giza and was once the tallest structure in the world (before skyscrapers) and held the title for two centuries (then the spire collapsed). The inside is just as magnificent as the exterior and with your ticket you can join a free tour of the cathedral. Some areas though don’t open until later in the day at 1pm. This includes the library and chapter house. The workers at both the castle and cathedral are incredibly helpful and nice. They will answer any questions you have and make sure you have an enjoyable experience.

The last stop of the tour was at one of the oldest universities in the world, Cambridge. My two hours at Cambridge were spent walking the streets and pretty much fitting in with the other college students walking about (unlike many I wasn’t approached to pay for a tour).IMG_0752 At a local ice cream shop I got a scope of sweet lemon curd in a cone and sat in front of King’s College. I then walked through the market, around the main buildings, and along the Backs. Many people were out and enjoying gondola rides on the River Cam. The weather was warm and sunny and people were out in troves. I ended up on a bench outside St. Johns College and was able to enjoy a picturesque view.

That was it. The tour through the heart of England was over and I was back in London for the night. April 9, my 11th day of Spring Break would be spent on a train going back to Edinburgh where my adventures would carry on from there.


Oh, I also saw Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross.


Helpful Hint: Besides essentials like ID, money, and my phone probably the most important item I carry with me when traveling is my water bottle. You can easily get dehydrated when traveling so drinking water is important and you can save a lot by not buying bottled drinks everywhere you go.

Spring Break Diaries: Days 4-6, London

Day 4
Today was purely a travel day between Bath and London. I didn’t leave until 14:40 so I slept in for once, ate breakfast, and found a quiet place to work while I waited for my train to arrive. I spent my time on the train reading a new book and when I got to London I checked into the hostel, which was in a great location by Victoria Station and Buckingham Palace, and then went to get dinner. It was not an exciting day by any means, just one of those in-between days where you move between cities.

Day 5
My travels abroad have taken me too many places and that includes London (this would bemy fourth time visiting the city), so this time around my goal was to spend as little as possible. Today IIMG_8490Peter Pan Statue in Kensington Gardensspent the day walking everywhere instead of taking the tube. I walked to Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, Green Park, St. James Park and Buckingham Palace. I have always loved the parks in London. And it was the perfect time to see them because all the flowers (mainly daffodils) were in bloom and the wildlife was out and about. People were enjoying the day feeding birds (some got parakeets to eat right from their hands), running a marathon, rowing boats along the Serpentine, and basking in the wonderful spring weather. It is crazy the transformation Hype Park went through for the Christmas Market in December because now you wouldn’t even realize that it was once covered with stalls, rides, and thousands of people.

Day 6
Today was my last full day in London because tomorrow I am going on another tour that will last four days and then I go back to Edinburgh. So today did something that I have never gotten to do before in London, the British Museum. Admission to the Museum is free which is great the problem is that I am a sucker for gift shops and I will be coming back to Edinburgh with more books than I need and an even longer list (than I had before) of books that I want. The doors opened promptly at 10:30 and close at 17:30 so I made sure to arrive early so that I wouldn’t feel rushed and would be able to spend the entire day there. [They are open later on Fridays.]

The front entrance to the British Museum

I love museums. I love learning about history, cultures, and the world. And I would rank the British Museum as one of my top three that I have been to. Besides show casing wonderful collections that span the globe and having free admission, the museum is easy to navigate and you are able to see every room with a full day visit. When I go to a museum I don’t like to feel rushed, but take my time and enjoy exhibits and I was able to do that here. In comparison, the Louvre, while a fantastic museum, made me feel frenzied and stressed. It was too big with too many areas to explore. I didn’t have nearly enough time to enjoy it and it would take weeks if not months before I even saw everything on display. Some displays that I really enjoyed at the British Museum were the Enlightenment room, the Lycian exhibit and tomb, the first library, Babylon, ancient Britain, the Lindow Man, the Rosetta Stone, and parts of the Parthenon. There were many exhibits on great ancient civilizations, and I would love to go back again to get another look at them.

Helpful Hint: When traveling (to any city) walking is the best way to see the sites (just seeing them is free) and is wallet friendly too, but it tends to build up an appetite. So if you are looking to save go to a grocery store where they may have a meal deal or pick up a loaf of bread and some fruit, meat, or cheese. It is filling and is the most economical way to eat.

Spring Break Diaries: Day 1

Just two days ago I had my last class at Uni in Edinburgh; it was anti-climactic to say the least. My class was filled with mostly 4th years that had just finished their dissertations IMG_7905and were ready to be DONE; you could say they were a wee bit antsy. The lecture was like any other lecture, normal-where you learn stuff, nothing exciting like free doughnuts. So when I walked out of the lecture hall it felt odd to think that I would have no more classes. But I started to get excited quickly because with classes finished and projects turned in, it meant it was time for spring break to begin.

Final exams do not begin until April 25 and they last for a month. My exams are not until early May, so I have all of April to travel and prepare (but mostly travel).IMG_7895

My spring break travels began this morning at 9:30 out of Waverley station. It would be a five hour train ride to London where I took the Underground to transfer from King’s Cross to Paddington station. From there I had the an hour and half ride to Bath Spa station. Once I arrived, I checked into the hostel and then left to explore Bath. One of my favorite things to do in a new city is to just wander around paying no attention to maps and just letting my feet guide me. This led me to the main shopping district, clusters of restaurants and interestingly named pubs (like the Pig and Fiddle), the thermal baths, where my tour for Stonehenge will meet, chapels, parks, and beautiful curiosities.

Helpful Hint: The trains in the UK are easy and quick to use with little hassle, you only need to show up 10-15 minutes before your departure time to not feel rushed.

Birthday Edition

This past week I was privileged to spend yet another birthday with my best friend. But this one was much different than the ones celebrated previously. This time we’re in one of the world’s greatest cities. For my chum’s twenty-second birthday we decided to treat ourselves and have a night out with friends.


Typical “nights-out” are neither of our cups of tea, but when in London, right?


And with my birthday coming up later this week, we figured we would have juxtaposing, chill trip to an infamous market, Portobello Road (think Notting Hill). So between the two celebrations, I’d say my impending birthday might be the best one yet.

However, there is one more birthday that I will be celebrating this week. The day I will be posting this, February 1st, is my grandpa’s birthday. This will be the second one we haven’t been able to celebrate together, since his passing in August of 2014.IMG_2896

Despite the amount of time that has passed, there are still days when I feel like I could easily call him up and talk to him about everything that’s been going on, especially being on this incredible study abroad journey (and he’d tell me how impressed he was, and remind me how he’s not easily impressed). I doubt this feeling will pass anytime soon, and I’m not sure I’d want it to. I know he’s still just as excited my adventures, and that simple though makes the situation a bit more bearable.

So happy birthday to my favorite people: Lori, Grandpa Bob, and Harry Styles. Thank you for being the best parts of my life, and letting me be a part of yours.

And thank you for reading! Sorry this post is a bit wordier, but I definitely have plenty more photos to share with you!

Xx Jessica

Next Stop: Camden Town

IMG_2659 (1)          IMG_2661 (1)

During my last trip to London a few summers ago, my friends and I visited the Camden Lock Markets on the recommendation of a photographer we met. The few hours we spent walking around the “quirky, punk-side” of London are some of my favorite memories from that trip, so when I arrived in London a few weeks ago, I knew I had to revisit.

IMG_2677 (1)


Camden is located in east London, while my campus is in the southwest. It takes a bus, an overground train, as well as the underground to get to, but it is well worth the trip. The high-street has your typical stores and familiar restaurants (shoutout to KFC!) but further down, you end up making your way to independent merchants selling everything from food to jewelry to home décor. While there are many mainstream trinkets, you can also find one-of-a-kind items.

IMG_2699          IMG_2694 (1)

My second trip to Camden Town juxtaposed the previous in nearly every way. In the June daylight, the markets are so packed with people and venders you have to practically fold yourself to make your way through. But this week, we walked the markets at dusk, which had noticeably less merchants than before, as well as visitors. We were able to take our time and weave through the halls at our own pace, instead of feeling crammed and rushed.

IMG_2702 (1)           IMG_2703 (1)

Camden holds a place in my heart for many reasons. Besides housing precious memories, Camden is a place you can go to be inspired. Here, art and music collide with culture to paint the town’s walls, businesses, and sidewalks. Everyone is accepted, because everyone has the freedom to express themselves however they deem fit.

IMG_2704 (1)

If you ever plan a trip to London, make sure to put Camden on your To Do list.

IMG_2709 (1)

Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed!

– Jessica

When the Rain Stops..

I really wanted my first ever blog post to be super upbeat and full of excitement, but I’ve been blowing my nose approximately a million times and hour and have probably gotten less than a dozen hours of sleep since I left the states.


On Tuesday my friend, Lori, and I flew from KCI/MCI to Washington DC for an 18-hour layover, and flew from IAD to London’s Heathrow airport (where I had my first airport-security-pat-down; note to self: don’t wear your sparkly sweats on planes), arriving in the UK around 9:30pm Wednesday night. We finally made it to campus after attempting to maneuver our taxi driver towards a campus we’ve never seen or been to after half 10. This was way after the campus had finished the others international arrivals’ pizza party, but our room keys and any bundles purchased beforehand (ie. the kitchen & bedding pack I bought a month ago) were to be ready for us to pick up. They weren’t. Yes, that means we were locked out of our rooms. We each waited for security to escort us to our temporary new homes. But, once I was let in, I realized I had no sheets, pillows, or blankets. My first night back in London I slept wrapped in my coat and scarves, well attempted to anyway.

Orientation started mid-morning on Thursday. I met up with Lori and we dodged puddles and uneven cobble stone as we greeted other international students on the way to the building. We had a few lectures, about safety and student life on campus, etc, and begun our campus tour-in the rain. After a few stops at different cafes and buildings, the rain subsided, the sun peeked out from the clouds and we continued our making our way through Roehampton. We spent the rest of the day walking around campus, and off campus trying to begin familiarizing the routes to the nearest grocery store and fast food joint, even making a trip to ASDA (Walmart) to pick up some essentials (towels, some food, but most importantly, a really soft blanket)


Obviously, I know London is an incredibly dreary place, weather-wise. The sun starts setting at nearly 2pm, and is usually cloud-covered anyway. But my favorite thing is when the rain stops for a few minutes and I get to soak it up and take in all the incredible sights around me. Yes, the first couple days of my study abroad experience didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped, but I really do love being in London and I am really excited to see how much I’ll grow in these next few months.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my rants! I hope to have another one up during the week about my Scavenger Hunt experience, and will of course update you on how my first week in the UK uni system goes. Hopefully, by then my cold will have disappeared!

Xx Jessica

The Only Place Rain is Acceptable

Back on an uncomfortable plane with a weekend full of clothes, beauty products, shoes stuffed in my North Face backpack, this time Destination: London, England, UK.

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetAfter the short one hour flight, I had arrived in a new country with a city that never sleeps, uses a different currency, and has a public transit system that is taken to a whole new level. I had all my touristy activities planned (hop on/ hop off tour, London Eye, Thames River Cruise, etc..) I had once again booked my stay through Airbnb, staying right outside of London in the Buckhurst area. Because I was there for 2 short days (definitely stay longer than 2 days, I’ll explain further down) my exploring started as soon as I dropped my bags off at the flat.

I purchased an Oyster Card, definitely a must in London if you’re planning on using public transportation. Using “The Tube” wasn’t that hard, thanks to Miss Laura telling me to download the tube app.

I arrived in the city, walked up a flight of stairs, and witnessed what I consider pure craziness. The amount of people, double-decker buses, shops, etc. are overwhelming at first glimpse. (You can sorta compare it to NYC)

My first activity I had planned was the hop on/hop off bus ride to get a feel of the city and somewhat understand the areas. It had started misting rain but that didn’t stop me from sitting on the top level of the bus. The sightseeing had begun only to be stuck in traffic for 45 minutes due to a socialist protest going on. After going maybe 500 meters in an hour, I hopped off. (Thankfully I had purchased a 2-day pass)

Here is why you don’t want to go to London for only 48 hours.

1. The city is HUGE!!

2. You never know what the weather will really be like (BBC isn’t always right)

3. You also never know when a protest or event will shut down streets.

4. 48 hours in London, trying to complete a mile long list of to-dos is impossible (with sleep).

The rain or protest wasn’t stopping me. I walked to The London Eye, one of the top things to experience in London. The ride is 30 minutes long, with around 20 other people in the pod. The views are breath taking, you can see all of Westminster and London City.

IMG_5267Finally what I had been waiting for all day, seeing “Wicked, The Musical”. The Apollo Victoria Theater was spectacular and so were my seats. 🙂 The performance/music/popcorn was amazing. After the show, I went to the tube to head back to Buckhurst… My goodness the amount of people getting on at 11:30 at night was ridiculous. I was compacted, hugging my purse like a sardine into one section of the tube.

The next day was Father’s Day/Sunday/ my last day in London. Thankfully the weather was nice! I started by going to church at Hillsong Central London, I got back on the hop on/ hop off bus and enjoyed seeing The Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and many more sights. I took the Thames River cruise that gave you a different view of London. Finally I hopped on the tube and went to an area of London called Shoreditch.

The area of Shoreditch was recommended to explore by the lady I was staying with. Shoreditch in one word, artsy. The area was filled with creativity, local artist/designers/markets/coffee shops, and a really cool place called “Cereal Killer Cafe” you can satisfy your craving in all forms, from basic cereal and milk to cereal cocktail drinks. You walk around hearing aspiring musicians play, see colorful graffiti on all the brick walls, and occasionally get asked begged to come into ethnic restaurants.


Though my time is London was extremely short, I got most of what I wanted to do done. Everything was totally rushed but it is intriguing experiencing a new country and adding a new stamp to your passport 😉

And seriously the only place rain is totally normal, prepared for by every English, and acceptable is London.

One Bite at a Time (or, Eating my way Through London)

For this post, I want to focus on something I really enjoy, no matter where I am: food. I really love food. While I’m a fairly picky eater, I’m enough of a foodie to try an eclectic mix of things fairly often. London is just playing this up as much as it can.

Here’s a list of things that are different (for better or for worse) about London’s food scene:

  • Fast food is everywhere (but not how you think it is):

When I first got here, I was amazed at the amount of food options available on every corner. Chain restaurants are huge, and quick eating is really the only practical way to eat in the city (unless you have a lot of time to spare for a sit down meal). Everything moves much quicker here, so there really isn’t the equivalent of a Bread Co. (or Panera for you non-Saint Louis natives) here; something where you can grab and go or relax and sit down in a comfortable environment. Everything is either sit down meals, or you cram into a corner with a tray and scarf your food down because you don’t really want to be there with the 75 other people jockeying for tables.

That being said, the food I’ve gotten at these establishments has been wonderful. Wasabi and Tossed, you’ve stolen my heart and need to open chains in the USA soon. Pretty much every UK fast food chain is ridiculously healthy. Sure, they still have unhealthy stuff, but not to the extent that American chains do. The States need to step up their fast food options, pronto.

  • The American chains that are here are super weird:

You’d think that with all the options the Brits have, they wouldn’t be interested in the trash we serve. While not wildly common, I still see chains in every major section of the city. And the ones that they do choose to have here are usually strange and not all that popular with Americans. Sure there’s McDonalds, but KFC? TGI Friday’s? A Hard Rock Café (that people in my group actually wanted to go to)? There’s also a ton of local hole-in-the-wall chains boasting the delicacy of fried chicken and “BBQ”, which always makes me laugh. We all did have a moment when we saw a Five Guys and Chipotle, because those chains actually made a little more sense.

Surprisingly, Starbucks is not king of coffee here, either (the horror!). Costa Coffee and Café Nero are both incredibly popular, and far more common. While Café Nero serves incredibly good coffee and tea, I don’t get the hype behind Costa. Starbucks seems to be the only American brand I can’t kick. *sigh*

  • Authentic London food is found in the pubs:

Thinking about traditional faire, pub food seems to be the only thing that really comes to mind (although I haven’t had a full English breakfast yet). Obviously, fish and chips are the big thing to eat here. I haven’t had any yet, though! Beer-battered style fried food is something I cannot stand, but I’ll probably steal a bite whenever we go again. When we did go to the pub, I got a brie wellington (cheese wrapped in a flaky dough), and it was simply delicious.

Otherwise, purely British food is pretty…bland. They’re not huge into seasoning here, so finding something with salt and pepper is a bit tough, let alone any obscure spice flavors. A lot of us are starting to miss and crave certain foods that aren’t a thing here. I’ve already requested a turkey burger from the grill the second I get home.

  • Ethnic food is wildly popular:

Building off my last point, “British” food chains don’t seem to exist. It’s pretty generic stuff: sandwiches, salads, soups, etc. After eating at Pret a Manger and Eat. (the Panera equivalents) we decided to try some kind of international food. This is what London seems to get right, and everyone else can’t figure out. Even though these are chain restaurants, they seem to know how to make the cuisine of whatever country they’re representing. I can’t wrap my head around the fact that their “home” food isn’t that great, but their ethnic food is. And ethnics chains are everywhere. London is incredibly internationally diverse, so I guess they kind of have to be. But this is another thing America needs to take note of.

I even got to experience an Asian-inspired afternoon tea (but I have to write a separate post about that). To summarize, it was amazing and blended two cultures so seamlessly. I was highly impressed.

  • Dessert is a meal within itself:

Ahh…the dessert. Here is yet another example of London being way ahead of its time, leaving America in the dust. While bakeries are becoming trendy in the states, London has been doing this for a while now. And the caliber of their bakeries is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. They take a lot of pride in their work, based on what they make. Bakeries are every couple of blocks in trendier areas of the city (I’m looking at you, SoHo). Within a stretch of a street, you can find at least 3 bakeries to stare at as you walk by. Picking which one to have a cup of tea and dessert at is the tough part. And then you have to pick which dessert to eat! It’s stressful, but you really can’t go wrong.

  • The Cereal Killer Café:

It’s a cereal bar. And it was great.

  • A brief side note about Japanese food:

Of all the food I’ve eaten so far, I’d say at least half (if not more) has been Japanese food. I’ve been in heaven, eating all kinds of amazing Japanese cuisine on the fly. That’s right, it’s all chain restaurants! And it’s still so great. Being Japanese, I was skeptical when I went into my first chain place to get sushi to-go (or “takeaway” as they call it here). I was super surprised with how good and fresh it tasted. I proceeded to happily scarf my food down, hunting for a Japanese chain every time I go out now. Living here makes me want to visit Japan and get the real deal. Maybe for my next travels abroad, right?




Traveling Woes

When I first decided to study abroad and then do some additional traveling, I began planning everything. We’re talking minute by minute itineraries that included when to eat and sleep. I had everything ready, so there was no way anything could go wrong, right? Not exactly. I very quickly learned that no matter how detailed and well thought out my plans were, something can and will go wrong. Traveling isn’t easy, folks.
Case in point: flight delays. After a particularly long and exhausting flight across the Atlantic, I had to suffer through a nine hour layover in Dublin. Well, it was supposed to be only nine hours anyway. I was anxious and beyond tired, ready to be in London at last so I could finally get some much needed sleep. That’s when disaster struck. Well, not really, but it sure did feel like it. Our flight was delayed by over two hours, and I was not a happy camper. It wasn’t the fact that I had to wait an extra couple of hours, it was the fact that in order to get to my hostel from the airport, I was planning on take the underground. After all, that’s what my itinerary told me to do. The real tragedy came when I realized that the underground stops running around midnight, the same exact time my new flight was expected to land. In a frenzy, I frantically messaged my sister, a seasoned London veteran, asking for alternative ways to our hostel. She gave me a name of a bus and told me where to get off. Relived, I relaxed a little and waited for our plane to finally arrive.
Upon landing in London, I was super stressed. I forgot were my sister told me to get off of the bus, I had no access to the internet for maps, I had no idea where to even find the buses, and I hadn’t slept in what felt like weeks. That’s when a miracle happened. As we walked down the arrivals hallway and come across all the drivers holding signs with names on them, I see a sign with my name on it — MY NAME. It took me a second to realize who it was. It was a good friend from school, Abi, who was already in London. I have never been happier to see a familiar face. It was like when you’re starving and you find that last Pop Tart in the back of a kitchen cabinet that you hid from the rest of your family.
Having already gone through Heathrow and figured out the transportation system, Abi was a huge help. We were quickly able to find the bus and we hopped on. At this point I was delirious due to lack of sleep, and for some reason an hour long bus ride on one of those red, double-decker buses seemed like a good ol’ time – until we realized we had no idea where to get off and we didn’t have a map. My sister told me one stop, Abi found another one online, a woman at the airport had her own suggestion, and the bus driver himself told us something different. We were clueless and had no other choice but to wing it.

The smiling face I was pleasantly surprised by at the airport.

We decided to just get off at a random stop and to see if we could find our way back to our hostel, but something just didn’t feel right. It was 2am, we were at an abandoned bus stop, and we had no idea what to do. So, I swallowed my pride and hailed my first taxi. Our driver was extremely friendly and told us we picked one of the closest stops possible to our hostel. How that happened, I still have no idea. Ten minutes and £11 later, we were at our hostel. I then fell asleep in the same shirt and pair of jeans I had been wearing for almost 2 days, but I didn’t care. It was the best 4.5 hours of sleep I’ve ever had.
Moral of the story: nothing goes right while traveling, but it’s important to remain calm and improvise. If a delayed flight and a late-night bus adventure are the worst things that happen, then I’d consider this trip a success!