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Friday, July 29, 2016

It's hard to believe that my program in Geneva/London finally ended.

In some ways it feels like the program lasted forever, mostly because of petty things like girl drama and the last paper that almost killed me. Mostly, though, it felt like it was flying by. It was so tempting (especially when the weather was bad) to sit around all day inside and do nothing. But since I was in two beautiful cities for a month each, I made a point of getting myself up and at least enjoying the neighbourhoods I was in.

All that being said, I'm now in Prague! The Czech Republic is treating us well so far. Most places in the tourist area speak English, the tram system mostly makes sense, and the castle we're staying next to (Prague Castle) is simply magical. Prague looks like something out of a fairytale, particularly because a lot of the buildings are pastel. It makes me think about cake all the time, for some reason.

Today and yesterday was a busy day. Yesterday we went to Prague Castle, which was a very pretty complex with lots of different unique areas. Today we went to the Old Town, which was something out of a picture book. First we went to the St. Nicholas Cathedral, which was in the baroque style and very pretty. We also saw the famous Astronomical Clock and took pictures in front of it.  Later we  went to the 700-year old Old New Synagogue today, which I couldn't take pictures of but was still an interesting experience. It's amazing to think that it lasted through everything that happened to the Jewish community in the Czech Republic.

This is a really interesting part of Europe and what I think most people think of when they think of a "European City". The area has changed many hands over the years and experienced a communist ruler that wasn't too bad by popular memory, which I think is fascinating. I've been reading history on Wikipedia late into the night and there's just so much to learn!

A photo posted by Natalie (@natalie.mei) on
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Friday, July 22, 2016

I've been busy having lots of adventures in England (but also class), but I haven't felt like anything has been worth writing about. That's clearly very silly of me... and since my time in England is quickly coming to a close, I figured it would be best to write something before I'm headed off to the Continent on family holiday. My parents are flying in next week and we're headed to Eastern Europe... more on that as it happens.

I've been up to quite a bit since coming to London. I was taking aerial classes at Flying Fantastic  which was really a lot of fun. Highly recommended... in particular if you are new! They give an incredible amount of personal attention and their equipment is quite good. I was really impressed with the warm ups as well- quite a lot of work. Though I haven't been dancing since coming here, I had to take a picture dancing outside a phone booth as well. There has been a fair amount of site-seeing as well! There's lots to do here in London, and it's been a great experience.

Now it's really time for me to write the term paper so I can relax and enjoy the weekend!
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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Today when wandering around the Victoria and Albert Museum (which is where the title images come from), it occurred to me that blending in as a Londoner would be a nice skill to have. So far, I've noted five major things that one can do in order to pretend to be a British person/Londoner.

1) Queue for everything and make a distressed sighing sound if someone tries to cut it.

Queuing appears to be the British national pastime, and nice orderly queues are everywhere. This isn't dissimilar to the United States or Singapore, but some people still seem to have a problem with it.

2) Complain about the weather.

Another British national pastime is complaining/commenting on the weather. People frequently compare the weather to days past. Others hope for a "proper summertime" starting soon. Some people even compare the weather to years past. There are a lot of ways to describe the weather here in London, lately it's been rather overcast and cloudy.

3) Drink copious amounts of tea.

The British drink a LOT of tea. This is a habit I've picked up, and since black tea around here is just so dark, I've also started drinking it with milk and sugar. I'm not entirely certain why I picked up a 160-bag box of tea, but it's given me motivation to start drinking something like 3-5 cups a day.

4) Say "sorry" constantly.

I've definitely picked this habit up in the time I've been here so far. Londoners say "sorry" when they are trying to squeeze past you on the Underground and basically a million other situations as well. If in doubt, apologise even if you have no idea what you are apologising for.

5)  Be silent and grumpy looking on the Underground.

One can always spot an American on the Underground because s/he's the one talking very loudly, and giggling every time the station "Cockfosters" is mentioned. Most Londoners sit on the Underground looking very quietly, and avoid eye contact if all possible.

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Friday, July 8, 2016

 Life has been absolutely insane since coming to London. It feels like we've been here forever, even though it really hasn't been very long at all. Though during the week we're mostly in class, thanks to a long weekend most of my class has been able to do some site-seeing. I've realised that while I've been to London, before, I haven't actually seen that many of the sites. Either that, or I simply didn't remember seeing them. For the past two days, I've been walking around with my friend Lea exploring this glorious city. 

Some how, I've never seen the horse guards or Westminster before... but I have seen the Globe Theatre thanks to my school trip back in high school. It's a funny feeling, being familiar with a place but not entirely certain where things are. At least London is a very walkable city. 

I saw the Book of Mormon with some classmates for Lea's 21st birthday, which was extremely funny. The only things I knew going into the show was that it was about Mormons and Africa and contained a lot of swearing, which was completely accurate. If you're ever in London or New York, it's definitely a show worth seeing. I'm thinking about seeing Matilda while I'm here because apparently it's a great show as well... and there are ads everywhere reminding me that I haven't seen it yet.

I think that's all for now. I'll try to be a bit better about posting to keep everyone updated about what I'm up to. London is a really fun city and there's lots to do... which means its really tiring me out!

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