Tuesday, June 4, 2013

AMERICA! MY HOME SWEET HOME!!

 let me just say I had an amazing trip and i made a lot of new friends. it was an experience I feel privileged to have had and wouldn't change it for the world. when i was first planning for this trip and had to write a pre departure paper about the UK's system, i didn't understand anything i read and it was honestly hard for me to do. but after "living it" in a sense and being able to see all the different culture that embodies London i have a much better grasp on everything.

after a long plane ride filled with watching 5 full movies and getting NO SLEEP we finally made it back to the good ol' USA and to Chicago airport. in Chicago we had a delay once we landed because our plane was having "mechanical issues". straight panic attack. i in no way wanted to get on a plane that was having ANY issues, but of course there was no other option. after another couple hours on a plane we landed in Rapid and my wonderful stepfather was waiting for me at the airport. he thankfully helped load my stuff to head home. before we left rapid he treated me to Texas roadhouse where I had an amazing steak and shrimp. it was quite funny also because Laura and I must of had the same idea because we both ended up in the same place.



on our way to eat I was welcomed by the wonderful feeling of WARMTH! i rolled the windows down and enjoyed every minute of it. i also had two hoodies on from being so cold on the plane and so i thought i might die of a heat stroke for a while.

I want to say a huge thank you to all of our guides, ISA and everyone else who had a hand in giving me this opportunity. I hope one day to have many more stamps on my passport and to see first hand different cultures and lifestyles other then the small town life of Nebraska. I hope you all enjoyed my blog as much as i  enjoyed doing it! 

until next time.. goodbye! 




The end of an amazing trip!

today being the last day we had in London Laura and I decided we would try and squeeze everything we still wanted to do in. we woke up early and said goodbye to Erin's oldest daughter Maisie. here is a picture of Laura and Maisie on her last day of school.


we then walked with Erin to take her son Alfie to school. the teacher was even nice enough to let us go inside the room and check everything out. we got some strange looks from the kids though. after this we packed up our things and headed off for the coast! MY FAVORITE PLACE!!! I have to say a HUGE THANK YOU to Erin for taking us on this adventure as she had so many other things she was planning to do and still made time for us! ALSO a THANK YOU to her whole family for being so welcoming on my stay!! here are some pictures of the beaches we say. I will let them to the talking for the most part!





I will point out here that i decided (despite how cold it was) that i might as well take off my shoes and put my toes in the sand!. i should also point out that i mostly had to do this because i was SOAKED by a wave while i was attempting to write my name in the sand. 


here is a video of Laura and Elliot trying to get a picture taken when the water got us. 


video









Elliot chasing after the seagulls :) 

the ice cream place we stopped at. it was delicious and Erin was nice enough to treat us. 
this is the other beach we visited that had the great big white cliffs! it was beautiful and it also had tons of sea shells and other what nots that washed up to shore. I brought a cool sea shell home with me :) 


Elliot playing in the caves


after our fun in the water we hurried back to Sevenoaks to try and catch the train back in time to go to the London dungeon and the London eye. as you already know from previous posts we didn't make it back in time. but I wouldn't have changed a thing because it was a wonderful day. once back at the hotel we had a group dinner at pizza hut which was only about a five minute walk from the hotel. we went over some things we all enjoyed about our trip as well as what we should be expecting in the morning when we leave. after dinner Laura and I took off for a show called Wicked. I have always loved musicals and dances and plays and anything of the nature so i could. not. wait.! it was Laura's first experience and she loved it as well. 






the stage was amazing. not that everything else wasn't as well. but it was unbelievable to me how many different things they were able to do!!!



at this point in the show Laura and I both thought it was over so we packed up and were ready to head out. little did we know it was only an intermission! luckily we caught on when there were lots of other people not leaving because the second half of the show explained who the straw man and tin man were and how it all happened it was so interesting since i never knew any of it before the show. 



overall I had an amazing last day in London and was super ready to pack up and head back to the good U.S.A!!!! 3 am wake up call is going to be mighty early! 




Legal walk and an outside adventure for Laura and I

this morning we woke up and took off on a tour of London from the outside. This meaning we would not be going into any buildings today but rather walking around the "legal" part of London and getting some history on all of the buildings from past to present. the only thing I could have wished for on this day would have been a little sunshine, it was far from warm and it made the walk a little uncomfortable. and unfortunately i didn't take to many pictures of this but I did however learn a lot of interesting facts.



 on our walk to the Inns of Court we learned that there are four Inns of Court, Lincoln, Middle temple, Inner Temple and Gray's. Inns are professional institutions to which every Barrister (lawyer) must belong. they have the option to choose which Inn they would like and have a lifetime "membership" with their Inn. the Inns all have a different status of sorts as well. some are known for their social life some are known for their members and so on. it is required of barristers to visit their inn 12 time in the first year and they have dinners and other events that they can attend. after they have visited 12 times they never have to return if they so choose. the Inns also have churches, libraries, beautiful park areas and so much more to offer. this was all interesting to me because this "Inn" requirement is only for Barristers and not for Solicitors (lawyers). also the wigs that they wear (which i explained how goofy they look) are only required to be worn by Barristers.  but in the more recent times solicitors have started wearing them to court if they are up against a Barrister because there have been some incidents where juries think that a Solicitor is not as good as a Barrister or not as well trained simply because he or she does not have a wig. so in order to have equality solicitors are now starting to wear them as well. we did also pass a shop where you buy the wigs and they are all custom made and made out of horse hair.

as a side note i should point out a couple funny and interesting facts our tour guide Joanne pointed out. in London one of the streets we were on was a street where they used to drive the prisoners down to be executed. on this trip they would stop at a local pub and allow the prisoner to go in and have one drink. this was known as "one for the road" which is a common phrase I hear still today. also the saying of "falling off the wagon" was also explained. this was when they would put the noose around the prisoners neck and then continue driving and leave them to hang. they had then "fallen off the wagon."

after our tour we were able to warm up and go inside to the Royal Courts of Justice and sit in on a case. the group split up and listened to two different cases. the case I sat in on had a prisoner who was brought down from the jail and was sitting to the side of us in this bar like cage. it was interesting to see how different our court rooms look and operate. in our court the man would have been in handcuffs and probably an orange jumpsuit and escorted in to the court room and sat in front of the judge where there they come and just sit in a cage to the side. they time we spent in the court rooms felt very short because there was a bit of a delay in the beginning but it was none the less a good break from the cold weather.

Laura, Chelsea and I decided to visit the Tate Modern Museum after leaving since it was a requirement of the class, and so we set off on our own. we once again got a little lost but asked for directions and were informed to follow the orange light poles which said Tate Modern this way. so off we went in search for the next orange light pole until we finally found our destination. once in the Tate Modern we all got a little confused by what we saw. you see it was my idea to go to this museum and well after going there i forgot why i liked modern art at all. none of it made any sense and we spent the majority of the trip laughing in complete confusion at what we were seeing. they also had a room that said it had graphic details and was not for children. of course we then were intrigued and had to find out what was in the room. lets just say the video we watched completely shocked all 3 of us and we had enough art at that point. ill leave it at that.

after this Laura and I rushed back to the hotel room to gather up our stuff and headed off on our own to go stay the night with her cousin Erin and her family who live in Sevenoaks. we had to get train tickets and the funny part about all of this was we had no idea where to get the tickets or which train or what time. we did a whole lot of running around trying not to miss our train. once Laura finally asked someone if this was the right train we then picked a random seat and sat down. we had no idea if there was assigned seats but we figured we would wait until someone kicked us out. turns out that they also have two trains that were going to Sevenoaks. one that takes around an hour and another that only takes 30 minutes. we then went into panic mode because we were supposed to be on the 30 minute train so that her cousin was there on time to pick us up and we only had 6 minutes to figure out which one it was before they both left. we jumped off the train and ran to the nearest person to try and get some guidance. once we got all our ducks in a row we realized we were on the right train to begin with and we headed off.

once we arrived Erin took us to see the town or "village" of Sevenoaks. it was a very small Town and was a nice break from the big city of London. we went and even got to see the schools where her children attend. this was an awesome experience because i felt like i was back home. people were stopping to say hi and have a conversation and they buildings where they have school are magnificent. all the buildings over there look like mansions or some form of crazy architecture where here a school house looks like a school house. once we arrived at Erins house we were greater by her husband RJ and offered some refreshments. we had an AMAZING home cooked meal (lasagna) and got to spend that night with them. They were all so friendly and welcoming and I had a wonderful time meeting all of them. it was one of the best days we had abroad.


Free day!

it was a long and tiring trip back from Paris but we were able to sleep in this morning and it was amazing! once we finally got ourselves up and around we decided to take off and finish up our shopping in Camden Town. again Camden Town is the place where there are TONS of little shops that will deal with you on the prices :) once we got there we all got lots of trinkets to bring back for friends and family and we even got to see more street acts which are always interesting to me since Chadron lacks in that aspect.


Chelsea made the comment when we were trying to figure out how they were "magically" floating that "she gave up, and couldn't figure out how any of them were floating except Yoda. Yoda makes since because the force is strong with him."
 it was quite a comical moment 

this was a perfume shop and all of the bottles were different scents and you could mix and match to make your own scent. I spend quite a lot of time in here and got a few things! :) 

this was our view of the London eye, which we were so excited to go on and then never did. yep, we never went on it. why? I have no idea. we were literally in the line and decided we were to hungry and then the sun was setting and would of been in our eyes and we wouldn't of been able to see anything and so unfortunately we never had the opportunity to do this. i'm still a little disappointed. 

this as you can see is the London dungeon. I WAS SOOOO ready to do this, so we all went and stood in line after eating to get our tickets. and when we finally got to the counter to order our tickets we were informed it was already closed for the day. so we made plans to do it on Friday. ill give you a little spoiler alert, it didn't happen then either. I think out of everything this is the one thing i am most upset i didn't get to do. 
the London dungeon takes you back in time to relive some gory historical events and does it with a mixture of live actors, special effects and rides. this will be on my list if i ever make it back. 

here is a little Mexican food stand that was in Camden Town where we ate. it was very very good!!


all in all we had a very good day bumming around and getting lost for the first time on the tube (which is a lot of the reason why we didn't have time to do the London eye or dungeon) and after supper we headed back to the hotel to catch up on our blogs. Chelsea was nice enough to hand over her computer so I could try and catch up since I was only able to blog when either her or Laura were not and then it was off to bed. tomorrow will be our Legal walk and my trip with Laura to meet some of her family that lives here. :) 








Monday, June 3, 2013

The city of love! PARIS :)

hello again,

The day is FINALLY here!!!!  I got to bed right around 12:30 and had a wake up call for 2 am.  does that count as sleep or a nap? i'm not sure either. either way I was so excited it didn't matter. we were picked up from the hotel by taxis and headed of for the Eurostar train to Paris. we got to the train station a little early so we had time to grab a bite to eat and do a little wandering if we wanted to. only thing is nothing was open at 3 am except Costa (it a coffee shop, its kind of like their Starbucks.) they have Starbucks there as well, but almost everyone i saw walking around had Costa. anyway,  I settled for a hot chocolate and a lemon poppy seed muffin before boarding the train.


just in case you are curious about the Eurostar, it is a train that travels around 187 MPH and goes under the English Channel. yep it goes underwater. I am slightly disappointing that I was so exhausted i fell asleep and missed out on this experience but then again knowing me it probably would have freaked me out. I am told it only takes about 20 minutes to go under the English Channel and is actually really uneventful. Guess I will have to visit again and stay awake next time!



after my nap I was awakened by the intercom talking to me in french which saying "welcome to Paris!".. I only know this because it said the same thing in English right after :) we exited the train and in all of my excitement the first thing I thought was "this is Paris" in my defense there was graffiti everywhere and it was really dark and honestly really sketchy. once we were in the main area of the station we needed to exchange money since they obviously don't accept American money or Pounds. while everyone else lined up to get their money laura and I decided we would sneak away and try and find a bathroom because quite frankly we were dying. after getting lost a few times we finally found one down stairs. once we walked into the bathroom soooo relieved that we finally found one, and our party was abruptly put to an end by a security enforced bathroom. what i mean by this is they had those turning wheel things where you had to insert 70 euros before it would unlock and let you go through. well this was obviously an issue because we had not exchanged our money yet and now we were going to have to wait in an even longer line once we got back upstairs. I wish i would have taken a picture of this but at that point a photo wasn't my priority haha. after exchanging 106 american dollars and getting 65 euros i was finally able to pay for a bathroom. we then made our way to another line where we had to purchase a one day pass for their underground tubes. the tubes in paris are pretty much the same but the atmosphere and the people made it feel so different. I had the benefit of being slammed in the doors of one of the tubes because it was so crammed we couldn't all fit (Chelsea said that the pure look of horror on my face was priceless, and she was still rolling on the floor laughing when she caught back up to us about 10 minutes later) about four people in our group got left behind and had to catch the next train. once we exited the tube station we were welcomed by a much different view of  PARIS!

we met up with the big red bus and jumped on for a ride to Notre Dame Cathedral.


the view inside was amazing 


this was a symbol on the ground outside that was a symbol of good luck you were supposed to cross it and it would help guide you in your travels. 



another tid bit of information before we move on. the day we were in paris and only shortly after we had all left Notre Dame a man walked into the building and committed suicide by shooting himself right at the alter. they had to evacuate everyone in the building and I for one was very confused when I came out from a nearby shop and saw thousands of people and cops and camera crews everywhere. i'm just glad i wasn't there when it happened. 

once we left Notre Dame we once again were on the lookout for a restroom. i'm sure by now you are probably wondering why we spent so much time in search for a restroom but lets just say they are a rare commodity around those parts and when the opportunity presents itself it is best to be safe then sorry. let me just point out that these next restrooms we encountered were picture worthy. 

this little tube like thing would be there "restrooms" 

you push the button when the light is green and the door opens up like so.  you then enter push the button on the wall to close the door. when you are ready to exit you hit the open button. simple enough right? well then the door shuts again and it "cleans itself." the light turns to blue and it literally turns itself into a little water cyclone in there. after it is done cleaning which seriously takes forever the light is green again and the next person can enter. safe to say we started doubling up because it took so long. and the fact that everything was wet and dripping in there was really really disgusting. 

Morgan and Alesha acting silly by the Toilettes 
looking at the instructions trying to figure it out haha 

after this hilarious and disgusting experience we jumped back onto the big red bus and took off for the Arc de Triomphe. we went past one of the main shopping areas and saw many shops such as louis vuitton, as much as i wanted to go into one of the shops me and a couple other girls decided that we look poor and they probably wouldn't even let us in the door. 

here is the Arc de Triomphe.




how large it really is. it is one of the most famous monuments in Paris. I read that it commemorates those who fought and died in the french revolutionary and Napoleonic war.



we had the option of being able to go to the top but we opted out of that since we were all pretty hungry by this point. we walked around looking for somewhere to eat when we stumbled upon a Mcdonalds. we decided we would go ahead and eat there instead of spending a bunch on money on a place where we might not like the food. we stood in line for a while and then thought "wait a minute its almost 8 american dollars for a hamburger" so we decided to find somewhere else. we found another burger place which was much cheaper and took off to order. we were stopped by a lady who simply stated "american?" when we said yes we were escorted to a different line where we had to order from a kiosk machine. this was a whole new experience because we couldn't figure out how to take off or add things we wanted. after ordering we figured the people working on this part of the line would speak English but nope, they were calling out our orders in french. this caused all of us to have to go up to the counter and try and decipher what order was ours. most people just settled for the "classic" hamburger thinking that it sounded pretty safe. lets just say it was overly funny when Chelsea bit into hers and realized it had been smothered in horseradish. 

after our dining experience we hopped the big red bus and took off for the one and only Eiffel Tower!!! 


the group on the big red bus!

Stevie and I sitting on the inside of the bus because it was soooo cold. 





this picture is of lovers bridge in Paris. people buy padlocks and write theirs and their lovers name on it, hook it on the bridge and then toss the key in the water after making a wish. 




i don't have a significant other but i couldnt resist the urge so i put a lock on the bridge. hopefully it will just bring good luck! 

after this exciting experience we headed off for the Louvre. unfortunately the museum was closed so we were unable to go in and see the Mona Lisa and many other things. 








at this point I think we were all getting a little worn out from our early morning and also from the cold and rainy weather. and when i say cold i mean i wish i would of had my winter coat. after this we took off and grabbed some dinner and by dinner i mean i had a crepe with banana and nutella :) it was delish. and they even brought it to me with a sparkler in it and i also had a wonderful glass of wine. after this it was back to the meeting point and back to London. it was a wonderful experience i just wish it would of been nicer so i could have enjoyed it more instead of only wanting to be inside to escape the weather.