My Semester Abroad Must-Haves: London

by Julia

DSC00472While I have found parts of London to be very similar to New York, my fall must-haves have changed in a big way. Check out 5 items I have been reaching for consistently these past few months. 

Tea: Studying in London makes tea an obvious must-have but this former coffee-only-girl is now also a tea lover! My favorite tea all term has been regular black tea with cream and sugar, but I am also partial to a sweet chai or anything with vanilla.

Tea I had while in Dover.

Black tea I had while in Dover.

Eye Mask: An eye-mask is a definite must have for me because my roommates and I are hardly ever on the same sleep schedule. Sometimes one of us is up really late doing a paper and one of us is heading to bed early while others are just trying to nap, but whatever the case an eye mask is key so that I can sleep no matter what my roommates are up to…

Hand Sanitizer/Hand Lotion: I keep hand sanitizer with me so that I can just whip some out after riding the tube or the bus to school and during rush hour. I also love having lotion with me during these crisp fall months to keep my hands hydrated (especially when using a lot of hand sanitizers that can dry out my skin). This one is my current favorite- you only need a little bit, plus the rose hip seed oil smells amazing.

Scarves: I used to find scarves a kind of hassle before coming to London because they were always something I ended up having to carry around or stuff into my pursue, but in the UK scarves have been my favorite fall weather item by far. They have been providing just the right amount of warmth on these chilly and rainy days while also bringing a pop of color to my black rain coat. I bought a red tartan wool scarf when I was in Edinburgh last month and now rarely leave my flat without it. Here is a similar style.

All bundled up

All bundled up

Planner: While I have always used a day planner for school, I find my self checking my planner even more than usual this term to keep up with multiple assignments, showings, and of course weekend trips. I use this Lily Pulitzer planner because I love the layout but I also adore this Kate Spade version.

 

Oxford & Stratford upon Avon

A small building that is apart of the Bodleian Library.

A small building that is a part of the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Two weekends this semester, my program, LDA, took us on day trips to Oxford and Stratford upon Avon. Oxford was exactly what I had envisioned it to be- old brick buildings covered in ivy, cobbled stone streets, and of course, University of Oxford signs everywhere. It was picturesque to say the least.

Streets in Oxford

Streets in Oxford

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Me and some friends on a bridge in Oxford.

Me and some friends on a bridge in Oxford.

We pretty much could roam wherever we wanted to but we did get to have a tour of the Bodleian Library, which is the main research library of the University and is one of the oldest libraries in Europe. One of my favorite parts of the tour was seeing the Divinity school within the library, which was actually where they filmed the hospital wing scenes in the first two “Harry Potter” films. After visiting the library a few friends and I walked around the small town and stopped for tea before seeing “Othello” at the Oxford Playhouse before leaving that evening.

Bodleian Library courtyard.

Bodleian Library courtyard.

Me in the Bodleian courtyard.

Me in the Bodleian courtyard.

The Divinity School aka the hospital wing in "Harry Potter."

The Divinity School aka the hospital wing in “Harry Potter.”

We had a beautiful day in Stratford and the first thing we did as theatre students was of course to go see Shakespeare’s grave at the Trinity Church! The church itself was lovely and we got to see Shakespeare’s and some of his family members’ graves.

Outside the Trinity Church

Outside the Trinity Church

Inside the Trinity Church

Inside the Trinity Church

Shakespeare's grave

Shakespeare’s grave

Across from the Trinity Church

Across from the Trinity Church

Then we were off to the Royal Shakespeare Company to see “Love Labor’s Won” (aka “Much Ado About Nothing”). The theater itself was incredible and the show was very charming with some amazing performances. After the show it was getting late so many of the shops were closed but my friend, Maryn, and I stopped by to see Shakespeare’s house before catching out train home.

Some of LDA seeing "Love Labor's Won."

Some of LDA seeing “Love Labor’s Won.”

View of Stratford from the RSC

View of Stratford from the RSC

Shakespeare's house

Shakespeare’s house

Edinburgh: Days 7 & 8

DSC01479Edinburgh was the last stop on our trip and is one of my new all time favorite places! I don’t know what I was expecting Scotland to be like but it completely blew me away. On our first day, Vanessa and I toured Edinburgh Castle- the views were absolutely stunning. We saw a WWI memorial and where the crown jewels were kept during a war.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Me and Vanessa in Edinburgh

Me and Vanessa in Edinburgh

Then we had some great comfort food at Mum’s- I had a pumpkin and sage pie. Later we had dessert at the Elephant House cafe where JK Rowling wrote some of her early Harry Potter books! Then we went to a local college’s hilarious improv show, which made me think of my own theater club back in New York!

Elephant House Cafe

Elephant House Cafe

"Yes" Graffiti for Scotland to break its ties with England.

“Yes” Graffiti for Scotland to break its ties with England.

The next day we had french crepes for breakfast and then stopped by the same improv trope’s weekend workshop which was a blast. Later that day we hiked Arthur’s Seat which had even more incredible views than the castle! It was quite the walk up but totally worth it, and so fun to hear that when my dad and his family lived here for a few months when he was a kid, they had picnics up there! After some shopping on Cockburn street and a quick dinner at a pub, Vanessa and I toured Real Mary King’s Close, which is a piece of old Edinburgh and is underneath the modern city. That night we took a sleeper bus back to London which actually was really cool! The trip was amazing but it was nice to be back in London. Stay tuned for posts about my day trips to Oxford, Stratford upon Avon, and Bath!

The Royal Mile from below

The Royal Mile from below

Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat

Me on the top of Arthur's Seat

Me on the top of Arthur’s Seat

Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat

Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat

Berlin: Days 4, 5, & 6

Berlin was next on our travel itinerary, and Vanessa and I actually got to meet up with two of our good LDA friends in Berlin, Maryn and Courtney. It was so much fun to stay in the hostel and travel around with them! It was really helpful too because while I know a decent amount of Spanish none of us know any German which made navigating the metro and the streets quite interesting! The only negative of the trip was that some how I managed to “format” my camera which apparently means to erase your memory card- but hopefully I’ll be able to recover some pictures and once I do I’ll be sure to share with on the blog. Until then check out some pictures my friends took and some I took on my iPhone.

Me in front of the lit up Berliner Dome

Me in front of the lit up Berliner Dome

On our first day in Berlin, we grabbed an early dinner near the Berliner Dome and after walked to the Dome because the Festival of Lights was actually going on! Beautiful images were being projected on the monuments all over Berlin including the Brandenburg Gate. After seeing some lights, we walked around a bit of Museum Island.

The Berliner Dome

The Berliner Dome

Me, Maryn, and Vanessa at the Cinema Club on Museum Island

Me, Maryn, and Vanessa at the Cinema Club on Museum Island

The Bradenburg Gate during the Festival of Lights

The Bradenburg Gate during the Festival of Lights

The next day we had the best vegan breakfast just down the street from our hostel- think “egg” bagels and Maple Cinnamon lattes (I’m not vegan but we came back to this vegan hot spot several times). Then the four of us stopped by the DDR Museum and then walked to Alexander Platz for pretzels and wursts. After that we ran over to see the Reichstag and the Holocaust memorial/information center. Later that night we attended “A Midsummer’s Dream” opera at the beautiful Komische Opera House (to be honest it was the weirdest show I have ever seen in my life). Then we had a super late dinner at an America diner because it was the only thing open that late!!

The best vegan breakfast

The best vegan breakfast

Pretzels with Maryn at Alexander Platz

Pretzels with Maryn at Alexander Platz

Courtney, Vanessa, and me outside the Reichstag

Courtney, Vanessa, and me outside the Reichstag

On our last day in Berlin we walked along the Berlin Wall which was right outside our hostel. Then we visited the Topography of Terror. Later that afternoon we went to a food market and I had one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life- a pumpkin truffle burger. That night we went out to a wine bar and grabbed some dessert! Edinburgh is up next!

A section of the Berlin Wall (hopefully I'll be able to recover some more pictures of the wall).

A section of the Berlin Wall (hopefully I’ll be able to recover some more pictures of the wall).

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Topography of Terror

Pumpkin Truffle burger

Pumpkin Truffle burger selfie!

Barcelona: Day 3

So sorry for the delay! But the moment that break ended LDA kicked into high gear with scenes to memorize, character autobiographies, and essays. But I should be back to a more regular schedule now so take a look at Barcelona day 3 and get ready for more travel posts about Berlin and Edinburgh!

On the roof of La Pedrera

On the roof of La Pedrera

In Barcelona my friend, Vanessa, and I decided to have one day dedicated solely to Antonio Gaudi architecture. We started our morning at the Mercat de Santa Catarina and got a quick breakfast before running over to La Pedrera, which is an apartment building designed by Gaudi that still has residential flats inside! We had the chance to tour the building and walk around the roof which was covered with arches and mosaics. By the way, those statue things that look like helmets are actually chimneys and are rumored to have influenced the storm trooper costumes in the Star Wars movies.

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La Pedrera

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La Pedrera

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View from the roof of La Pedrera

Then we took the metro to La Sagrada Familia cathedral. It is an incredibly beautiful church and unlike one I’ve ever seen in my life. The ceiling is inspired by forests and palm trees and the stained glass windows are inspired by the ocean and the sun and other elements. It was way more modern and colorful than I expected but of course insanely gorgeous. I was surprised to learn that La Sagrada is actually unfinished, but Gaudi left careful instructions for other architects to care out after he died in 1926.

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

The ceiling of La Sagrada Familia

The ceiling of La Sagrada Familia

Incredible stained glass windows in La Sagrada Familia

Incredible stained glass windows at La Sagrada Familia

Then during the “siesta” period of the day where most shops are closed, Vanessa and I got sandwiches and the most delicious hot chocolate at a cafe called La Nena before we walked around Parc Guell (another one of Gaudi’s architectural works). I swear the hot chocolate was practically melted icing- no complaints!

Rich and thick hot chocolate at La Nena

Rich and thick hot chocolate at La Nena

Parc Guell was a highlight of Barcelona for me due to the gorgeous view and all the colorful mosaics built into and around the park. It is unlike any park I’ve ever visited before and certainly the most vibrant. After our full day of running all over Barcelona, we stopped by El Calledjon back in the Gothic Quarter for more tapas and mojitos (steak chimicurri and tomato bread to be more specific). The next day we were on to Berlin!

Parc Guell

Parc Guell

Mosaic bench on the overlook at Parc Guell

Mosaic bench on the overlook at Parc Guell

My favorite view of Barcelona- Parc Guell

My favorite view of Barcelona- Parc Guell

Barcelona: Day 1 & 2

by Julia

The view out of our Airbnb.

The view from our balcony in our Airbnb.

After a week off traveling around Europe, it is so nice to be back blogging in my London flat! This past week, my roommate, Vanessa, and I tackled three cities neither of us had ever been to before: Barcelona, Berlin, and Edinburgh. Up first is the beautiful city of Barcelona! After many mishaps while we were en route (having to change trains, tube stops being closed, etc) we made it to our charming Airbnb in the heart of the Gothic Quarter.

La Rambla

La Rambla

La Boqueria

La Boqueria

Heaven on earth.

Heaven on earth.

Once we arrived and unpacked we made our way around the Gothic Quarter to various landmarks, and then walked around La Rambla and ended up at La Boqueria for dinner! It was one of the most colorful markets I’ve ever been in with piles of fruits, meats, and candy. After dinner we shopped around at some local vintage stores and then headed over to the Demanoenmano monthly market where I picked up a pair of earrings. And finally after regrouping, Vanessa and I went to two clubs, BLVD and Apolo, which were both fun night clubs with house music and dance floors! It is safe to say that we slept soundly that night.

Demanoenmano

Demanoenmano market

Apolo night club

Apolo night club

The next day, Vanessa and I checked a few more Barcelona must-sees off of our list. We started our day with a delicious brunch at Milk bar and then made our way to La Catedral de Barcelona which is one of the most beautiful churches I have ever visited. We even got a chance to see Barcelona from the church’s roof- beyond amazing! Later we made our way to the MUHBA (Museo de Historia de Barcelona). After walking through the museum and seeing the incredible excavation of Barcelona’s origins we grabbed some gelato and made our way to Parc Ciutadella and the Arc de Triomf. Later that night we had the most incredible tapas at Sensi (think red curry and basil mussels and truffle ravioli) and stopped by Opium night club which is right on the beach!

La Catedral

La Catedral

Seats for bishops in La Catedral.

Seats for bishops in La Catedral.

On top of la Catedral

On top of la Catedral

Barcelona from La Catedral

Barcelona from La Catedral

Vanessa and I in front of the Arc de Triomf.

Vanessa and I in front of the Arc de Triomf.

Be Right Back

Hey everyone! I am currently on my fall break in Barcelona and am having an absolutely amazing time!! I will be sure to upload pictures and a post or two in the next day or so… I will be traveling to Berlin tomorrow! Talk to you very soon. xx.