Tuesday, 25 November 2014

10 Things I'll Miss About London

I am sitting on my bed in my empty room of my all packed up flat right now; and yes, it is a sad scene. As I’ve stated in previous blogs, this experience has been life changing and I’ve loved every minute of it. I’m in a very nostalgic mood right now and to save you from reading an extensive, sappy , cheesy, novel, I’ve listed the 10 top things I am going to miss from London:
10. The Weather
Living in California is “great” when it comes to weather… supposedly. I much rather prefer sweaters and scarves over tshirts and shorts!
9. Nandos
I heard about this restaurant before I even came to London. After being there 5 times, I can vouch it is worthy to talk about.
8. Big City
Living in a big city is so amazing. Something is ALWAYS happening. I love living above a busy street. I love hearing a new language everyday. I love the busyness. I just love everything about it!
7. The Tube
Yes, taking the tube can be an annoying task at times, but there is something soothing about being stuffed into a moving vehicle, falling over strangers, absolute (almost scary) silence. And I’m serious; the tube is an aspect of the London culture that we hate to love.
5. Colored Hair
It is completely acceptable to have outrageous dyed hair here and its fantastic. Back home when I dyed my hair unordinary colors, I was different. Here, its complete normal to see a girl with pink locks and another with green tips right next to her. Its a great fashion statement.
4. Fleece Leggings
The amazing world of Primark (clothing store) sells fleece lined leggings that make your legs feel like they are wrapped up in their own toasty warm cloud. The girls from the program have discovered these and, i can speak for all of us,  it has changed our lives forever… I may or may not be wearing them right now as I type this…. I definitely won’t be able to wear these in the constant heat of Temecula.
3. Tea
This stereotype is one that I’ve greatly attached to. Getting my one pound cuppa every morning is something I’ve become so used to! I’m afraid I’m going to have to convert my tastebuds back to favoring coffee.
2. Accents
1. Friends
I have made the most amazing friends while here. At the beginning of the program, they told us our peers would be life long friends, it was easy to say that we were sceptic of that at first, but now it deeply saddens me knowing that we will all be departing in our own ways in a few hours. Living with a small group of people who are going through the same experiences as you really bonds you together. I am going to miss these people so much. I know the majority of us are going to stay in touch, but it won’t be anything like seeing them every day. I am so grateful for these friendships.
I have loved documenting my time here while in London. I am desperately trying to come up with a way to convert my blog into something that I can continue utilizing. I haven’t quite come up with something yet but I will soon… so stay tuned and thank you for reading!
This blog entry is from Rylee Leavitt. For more from Rylee, check out her blog at

Monday, 24 November 2014

Travel from London

As you know, I’m studying in London through a program hosted by AIFS, the American Institute of Foreign Studies. One of the best parts of being in Europe is that there are so many countries grouped together which makes it easy to visit some of them. Being from California, you could be on a train all day and not even leave the state, let alone the country. But here in Europe you can reach lots of different countries with a moderate train trip or a very short plane ride. Over the last couple weekends I decided to leave England and take trips abroad, to Wales and the Czech Republic.
I went off to Wales on my own and it was about a three hour train ride to Swansea, a city on the southern coast of the country. Being able to walk to the beach from my hostel felt like being back in California, although the rain that lasted most of the weekend was a good reminder that I was still in the British Isles. Swansea was the home to Dylan Thomas and is also close to where Catherine Zeta Jones grew up and still has a home. I went to the National Maritime Museum which had lots of history of the city as both a sea port and an old mining community. But the real reason I went to Swansea was to see their soccer team host a big team from London called Arsenal. The stadium was absolutely packed and had an incredible atmosphere, especially when the home team took the lead and won 2-1.
The following weekend I went to Prague, Czech Republic with a group led by AIFS staff with about fifty other American students who are also studying in London. We all stayed together in a great hostel that was arranged by AIFS and breakfast was provided each day. Friday we were given a walking tour of the city with a local guide that included stops at the Charles Bridge, Lennon Wall, and Prague Castle among other sites. Saturday we had the day to ourselves so I walked around with some other students, explored the city, and tried some local food and beer. Then Saturday night AIFS took all the students to a traditional Czech restaurant for a nice meal. Sunday we all took a bus trip to a concentration camp which was quite a powerful experience. Overall it was a great trip, and I can’t wait for next weekend when AIFS has organized a trip for us to go to Switzerland!
This blog entry is from Brandon Stone.  For more from Brandon, check out his blog at

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Good-bye, Au Revoir, Ciao, Cheers!

Wow, within a blink of an eye, my adventure in Europe is over. As I am leaving to go home tomorrow, I want to thank AIFS for giving me this opportunity to blog and share my travel adventures with you. Without AIFS, my experience in London would not have been the same. So, thank you, AIFS-you guys are the best!

Over the course of 10 weeks, I have learned not only a lot about myself, but about traveling as well. And I want to share some tips that I hope will help future/current travelers and study abroad students. 
1. When you are uncomfortable, you are growing. Yes, when you are UNCOMFORTABLE, you are growing. This was my mantra throughout my entire trip. Almost everyday, I did something outside my comfort zone. And, it wasn't anything dramatic like skydiving, but taking the Tube by myself or asking a stranger for directions. Many people think that being uncomfortable is correlated with negativity, but that's not true. Being uncomfortable allows you to challenge your limits and learn to defy those limits. 
2. Do NOT waste a single second sleeping. We all like to sleep, but you can sleep all you want when you arrive home! I'll be honest this is a hard one, but get up, grab an espresso and GO! You will regret it if you don't. 
3. Travel for the right intentions. It's fun to party (I KNOW), but don't let partying and drinking be your main priority. Your abroad to travel, to see the world, share stories about your cultural experience. That story about you and your friends going to a club, yeah, that gets old. 
4. You can have more than one home. "You will never be completely at home again, because part of your heart will always be elsewhere." I left a family behind in London to go home to my family in California. London was an experience I will never forget and I call it home. 

Well, that's it. That's all I have. 
Traveling has made me realize that the world is HUGE and there are still many places that I want to explore that I still have yet to see. Also, traveling has taught me that I am truly blessed to know so many wonderful people. THANK YOU to everyone who has supported me (in both big and small ways) along my journey, each of you will always have a special place in my heart!






This blog entry is from Monica Hamilton.  For more from Monica, visit her blog at

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Czech Me Out!

A wise man once said, “Wherever you go, go with all your heart”, and I’m pretty sure Prague is where I left mine. Everything about the excursion was absolutely superb. Upon arrival, we got to our hostel, which was possibly the nicest place I’ve stayed in thus far. After a night on the town and getting a little taste of what the remarkable city had to offer, I knew I couldn’t take any moment I had there for granted. The following day we had a walking tour of Prague, with a beautifully educated guide who took us to only the most stunning and intriguing places. We made our way through the square, to the Charles Bridge, the Lennon wall, and eventually made our way to the breathtaking Prague castle, where a few of us lucky ones got to see the changing of the guards… On accident, but awesome nonetheless. With a free afternoon and Halloween in our midsts, we couldn’t miss out on some shopping and an unforgettable night out. The next day we got to spend seeing the city ourselves, trying out the local restaurants, souvenir shopping, and trying our hardest to figure out the currency and nearly impossible language barrier. After a belly full of a surprisingly delicious traditional Czech meal, our day came to an end. The last day, we hopped on a bus and travelled to the Lidice Memorial, the Terezin Memorial, the Ghetto Museum, and the Maddeburgh Barracks. These holocaust memorials spoke volumes simply by standing in the empty rooms alone. If you thought learning stories in school was enough to move you to tears, visiting these places puts word of mouth to shame. Although it left a melancholy feeling with us all, it was a blessing to be able to see for myself the tragedy that struck so many. From sad tours to happy ones, Prague kept a piece of my heart. And even though Ahoj was the only Czech word I actually got the hang of, there is nothing stopping the inexorable desire to go back, and hopefully be able to say na zdravĂ­! (cheers!) without sounding 100% American.
This blog entry is from Jessica Clemons.  For more from Jessica, check out her blog;

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


If you’re ever in the area of Muswell Hill (North London) during early November, don’t forget to check out the fireworks display around Alexandra Palace during Bonfire night.  When you’re done viewing the fireworks, O’neills Pub aka The Church Pub at Muswell Hill is a must-see.  O’Neills sports good live music, big screens displaying football, rugby or other popular sports, and even boasts a nice cornered-in fooseball table (Tablesoccer) with plenty of room, good acoustics and a fun, friendly atmosphere!
This blog entry is from Emmaneul Doublin.  For more from Emmanuel, check out his blog at

Monday, 3 November 2014

Living As A Native

  1. Hello again to my readers (if there are any of you out there….)!
    It's crazy to think that I have become accustomed to life here so quickly and so easily. I originally thought that being thrown into a big (foreign) city would have required a lot of adjustment, but it hasn’t! The tube, which seemed so very daunting at first, has fully been conquered. Walking around everywhere has toned my legs, so that one wasn’t hard to start enjoying. When crossing the street, I look right, left, right rather then left, right, left. The weather is a drastic change from sunny southern California, but I like it better here! Living above a continuously busy, noisy street has become my lullaby to fall asleep to. It's all a huge change that has become my everyday life.
    I’ve found that it is extremely easy to travel while in Europe. Everything is so close together; you could hop on a flight for 40 pounds (about 70 dollars) and bam, you’re in another county. A lot different from the states! That’s why I’ve been able to travel quite a bit while I’ve been here. Country wise, I’ve been to Scotland, France, Spain and I’m intending on spending a day in Wales next week. I’ve also had the chance to go to other English cities such as Stratford- upon- Avon, Salisbury, Bath, Brighton and I’ll be going to the city of Oxford next weekend.
    I haven’t been able to update my blog as frequently as I’d like! Due to my travels and schoolwork (yes, I still have class… even though it doesn’t seem like it at times), I’ve been incredibly busy! I wish I could share every amazing moment on here, but I’m too busy experiencing those amazing moments!
  6. This blog entry is from Rylee Leavitt.  For more from Rylee, check out her blog;