This is me. Living life to its fullest.

This is me. Living life to its fullest.
I'm young, single and making the best of life :) Why NOT travel!?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Productive day?

Since I don't have class today hopefully I can get most if not all of this list done!

- Morning jog (on my way out for that one)
- Laundry
- Clean room
- update blog for Rome (sorry, I've been slacking)
- homework (at least try to get one presentation done!)
- go to grocery store
- cook pasta for potluck
- Lauren's potluck dinner

boopity boo. i need motivation to finish my homework. i have 2 presentations, 1 paper and 1 exam next week. i've been in worse situations at UW but i just don't have the right mindset here, i feel like i'm still on a very long vacation....

Monday, March 2, 2009


Paris didn't let me down. It was absolutely gorgeous! What I didn't realize was how huge the city was. Two days is definately not enough time so see everything. I'm surprised we ("we" as in my group of Sussex friends I went with) were able to pack so much into the short time we were there. Its funny because its as if you lose track of time when you're visiting another country, everything is just so breathtaking...BUT because time is so lost easily in the excitement, you do have to keep a close eye on the clock and do some efficient planning if you want to see all the sites this beautiful city has to offer. Besides the different sites, here's some observations about the French I did notice:

- How laid back the French are. From what I noticed no one is stressed or high strung or rushing to work. People just eat and drink wine in the streets. Life is so simple. I also didn't realize just HOW capitalistic America is until I lived outside of the country. My friends and I were having a conversation about how instead of trying to obtain what you CAN'T have, it seems like the French just live life by enjoying what they DO have.
- The people that we asked directions from (Thank you Rosie and Nicole for your high school French skills) were very kind and polite. Although I had no idea where they were telling us to go, they smiled and generally pointed in the right direction and we just followed their fingers. On the other hand, when our group of American and Canadian students (2 of my friends were from Vancouver) some French people looked at us annoyingly. I guess I would understand, because I actually got annoyed at this group of American girls that were in the subway. I didn't notice it within my group of friends because I'm with them most of the time, but once you hear French and British accents, American accents just seem so boring.
- I'm very proud of myself for figuring out this European transportation system. I have British buses and the French underground metro down. Since the city is so huge and the Eiffel Tower and Louvre were on the opposite side of our hostel, we pretty much had to navigate which metro to take and where to get off and where to transfer to and were to walk to get to our destination. Surprisingly it wasn't that difficult- all you need is the name or address of the place you want to go to and the metro line it runs on....which all can be found on the helpful maps the hostel provided us with. It was much more simplier than the regular maps because there were less streets and had pictures of the main attractions with the metro stations near by. That's really all you need, not a billion different street names. I'm also really glad I went with people who knew a little bit of French. My conversations consisted of "bonjour" and "merci", sometimes I added the the "merci beaucoup" to be extra nice :)
- The fashion is also more laid back, lots of leather jackets and boots but more netural colors like khaki, brown, blacks or gray. Fashion colors in England vary from black to purple to bright blue sometimes.
- Although the underground metro is easy and convenient, it is also dirty and smells like pee. My friend Kolby had to pee and was pissed there were no bathrooms anywhere, started swearing and peed somewhere within the metro station...which is probably why it smells so bad. We also saw a rat crawling around in there!
- French guys are way cuter that English guys. My gay friend Clark and I were checking them out on the metro. I don't know what it is exactly, they have narrower faces, more defined jaw bones and for some reason their cheeks are also a rosy pink, maybe they blush really easily?
- Watch out for those scammers that ask you to sign a petition and then make you give them money. Oh Clark, I hope he learned his lesson. Oh, and I would suggest getting a purse that's attached to your body at all times because I witnessed a purse been snatched at the Eiffel Tower. He got away!

The Experience
On Friday night, we took a train out to Central London and was planning to hang out at a pub until our coach left for Luton Airport but apparently all the pubs close at 12:3o which surprised me because it was a Friday night...and it's London! So we ended up eating at McDonalds until they closed at 2am and took an early coach to the airport, where our flight was delayed an hour. When we arrived in Paris, we walked which seemed like miles to find the train into the city and transferred onto a bus to get to our hostel. The train ride view into Paris from the airport was not pretty...lots of trash and grafitti in what looked a dirty industrial district surrounding the city. Its funny how ghetto the outside of one of the most beautiful cities in the world is, but there were actually some intercity parts I saw walking to Montmartre, which is a huge district in Paris and our first stop after checking into the hostel. We also had baggetes for lunch, basically crispy bread which was delicious. My favorite were the crepes and crossiants though, they tasted like heaven! On the way to Montmartre we saw Socre-Coeur (a church) with a lot of people singing in front the stairs [below] , a breathtaking view of the city, some break dancers, some people selling artwork, souvenir shops, and a windmill thing.

After wandering around a bit we found the metro to the Eiffel Tower just as it was getting dark and took pictures of the famous monument. Every hour for 10 min the tower lights up with all these bulbs, I mean literally sparkles and its the most gorgeous site I've ever seen! [see YouTube video below] That's when you're looking at it, not while you're on top of it which is another experience which I will get to in a bit. We had dinner at the French restaurant nearby and I got an omlette with french fries (haha French fries when I'm in France!) and creme broulet but I also tasted escargot for the first time, a french delicacy aka snails cooked in garlic and butter [below].
I pulled the sucker out from it shell, took one look at at and couldn't do it until my friends told me to close my eyes and just put it in my mouth and try it. Maybe its just me, but I can't stand the chewiness- I'm usually like that with squid too. Anyways, that was my first and last time eating snail, but hey, what an experience in France. After dinner we split up. Cameron, Kolby and Sean went to find some beer at a nearby bar while Clark, Rosie, Nicole and I headed to the top of Eiffel Tower. If you know me I'm scared shitless of heights, especially going up on really high towers. But this is Paris and this the Eiffel Tower so I wasn't going to let my fear ruin my fun. So I went up and was shaking, anxious and nervous the whole time up...especially in those lifts (aka elevators) that have the whole view while going up, I clung on to Clark's arm the whole time and made sure I was in the middle. Once we got to the second floor I was freaking out and kept thinking to myself, oh god we still have to take another lift to the top!? But, once I got to the top I was all right and let my excitement take over the fear. The view was beautiful and the whole city lit up at night. And then those sparkly bulbs came on while we were on top and it didn't help my anxiousness so I was done. We were the very last group that went up for the night. Even though you can see more during the day, the wait is longer. Plus I think I would have been more freaked out if I had gone during they daytime. Clark and I made a pact that we would come back to the tower in the future with our own lovers we could make out with since there were some couples there kissing, in fact I think I was in the background of one of their pictures...oops.

The next morning the girls and guys split up and Rosie, Nicole and I went to the Louvre, which is the biggest museum I've ever been to besides the Smithsonian but that's multiple buildings. This is actually all connected....and you could easily get lost. Even with a map we wandered off course and ended up in some exhibit we weren't looking for. You really have to plan out what you want to see because unless you plan staying a whole day there, you can't see everything. My absolute favorite was the Venus de Milo [left], I've seen that image so many times! We all picked something we really wanted to see: I liked the Greek and Roman sculptures, Nicole wanted to see the Egyptian exhibit and Rosie wanted to see the French paintings. Of course we saw the Mona Lisa which hung in this glass cass on its own huge wall with a crowd in front of it hold up their cameras. It wasn't as spectacular as I thought it would be, maybe because we weren't allowed to really go up to it up close and observe its beauty. I kept thinking about Dan Brown's The Davinci Code while I was there...

After the Louvre we walked down by the Seine River [below] and visited the gargolyes and stained glass windows at Notre Dame then headed towards Latin Quarter (named after the students who studied Latin at the University there) for lunch. I had a pizza type thing on a baggete and had a bite of Nicole's crepe with bananas and nutella. The nutella or hazelnut spread here is so delicious! We had some for breakfast too, and I took a whole bunch of packets back to eat with bread or crossaints. We walked off the food and headed towards the Pantheon which was an old church and now the burial place of "Great French Men". We went into the krypts and saw the tombs of Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie, the guy who invented Braille and the guy who wrote the 3 Musketeers. The best thing about these the museums in Paris was that it was all free! Yep, free entrance every first Sunday of the month. We got lucky! After a stroll through Luxemourg Gardens we took the metro to the Arc de Triumph [left], in the center of the city. Including all these sites plus travel time walking everywhere (and trust me my feet were KILLING me by the end of both days) and taking and waiting for the metro, we were beat and crashed at the hostel. Even little naps helped, and we needed it to have the energy to meet up the boys for dinner at La Opera Bastille. We were going to find a club but it was too complicated and the metro wasn't running anymore so we hit up an exotic looking hookah bar complete with a separate room with lots of comfy pillows and couches. That was VERY relaxing. The night ended with free Heinekens which we drank by the river near our hostel. It was awesome just sitting by the water, talking and chatting- a good way to end our last night in Paris :) After a day of traveling on foot, by metro, train, bus, coach and plane I'm absolutely exhausted. And I have to do it again this weekend for Rome!

Friday, February 27, 2009

Getting to Paris

So excited I'm leaving for Paris tonight! But it's so complicated to get there. Check out my groups' transportation plan:

Bus to train station ---> train to Central London ---> coach to Luton Airport ---> plane to Paris --> subway to our hostel

Our train is at 11pm and we are going to bum around London until 3am which is when our coach leaves to the airport for our 6am departure. We didn't want to spend more money on a hostel in London when were only going to be there for a couple hours, so we're taking the latest train out to London and killing time at pubs before our coach leaves. It will be interesting walking around the city with all our luggage in the middle of the night.

Thursday night out

Since I've been here, I've been lucky to find such a good group of friends [LEFT: Potluck girls-Nicole, Laurel, Lauren, me. Missing: Isa, Alex and Mei Ling]. Every week (or ALMOST every week rather) we have potlucks and everyone takes turns bringing the main dish, appetizer, dessert, wine...wait why am I explaining this? I'm sure you know what a potluck is, it's not brain science. Anyways, last night I was on the dessert train and was craving ice cream, which we devoured....Vanilla Toffee ice cream...damn that's delicious! This was our 4th potluck already and they are always interesting. I absolutely love our conversations that range from abortion to relationships to art to British history to complaining about how stupid the school system is here. Last night our topics were sibling relationships, the lack of men selection here in Brighton, planning for future travel trips and writing in journals about this study abroad experience....which got me thinking about this blog. Yes, I have my moments where I don't keep up (in this case I missed almost a whole month of my trip) but still its nice to know I have something to look back on when I'm no longer here. It's more than just a blog and I'm not embarassed about writing something stupid and reading it later, but it's a personal account about how I felt in that moment or what I did. God knows how bad my memory is (well for certain things). Sure I don't write about things right after they happen, but as more time goes by you lose those "in-the-moment" feelings and its just nice to go back and look over the experience when it actually happened.

Anyways, after the serious dinner conversations, 3 pizzas, a bowl of veggies, garlic bread, 5 bottles of wine and 2 ice cream tubs later a couple of us went out into town. Our plan was to stay up all night and sleep all day today since we we're traveling to Paris tonight and need to stay up for 24+ hours straight. Yeah, came home from Casablanca around 3am ish, and failed at staying up and crashed right before 4am. Although I did wake up at 12pm! Thank god I had no classes today. Casablanca was 2 story club, pretty good vibe. There was a live jazz band downstairs [ABOVE] and dj upstairs. I was a little buzzed from the wine at the potluck, but we couldn't resist the vodka + mixer specials and ordered 2 drinks, plus the vodka and redbull I had at Coalition before ending up at Casabalanca. We were supposed to meet up with some friends for a birthday thing, but the people I called were piss ass drunk and I had no idea where they ended up. Oh well, we had fun nonetheless

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Very Interesting Day

Today after studying in the computer lab I met up with some friends to go support our friend Kolby for is bball game. We had an adventure and had to pick up some "recreational board game" before the game and ended up talking to this wierd but awesome guy about politics. Its interesting what the British think of America. This guy went on about how we are mind-controlled and how people worry more about smoking in public then dead bodies and poverty in the streets. He was telling us about how his friend has some land in the tropics and how he's building this retreat/get-away for people of all backgrounds so we can stand united as one. We were already late for the game, but we listened to his theories because it was rude to leave. In a sense, I'm glad we got a chance to listen, because again it opened up my mind to a new perspective on life. We didn't end up getting the "board game" and went to the game [BELOW] where Sussex lost but Kolby made lots of baskets so that was a plus. After the game I rushed home because I was starving and had left over pasta, fish fillets and cheerios. I know, wierd combo but good I tell you.

School issues

Since I'll be traveling the next two weekends and all my assignments aren't until the last week I decided to be a good student and start on them early. Therefore, I've been spending the last 3 days on campus forcing myself to read and start my paper and presentations. Its going all right...I guess you could say. Its just so hard to get motivated when I'm here and then I'm going to be traveling soon! Ah! No worries, I just need to get a 40% to pass my classes, and I'm pretty sure I can handle that. The sucky part is that I had to change my graduation date from March to June for the UW. Since I'm only here for Spring Term and the academic year is usually Spring and Summer term, I still have to turn in 2 major papers in April via email. Even if I did turn it in early, it won't be graded until May which means the grades won't be transferred to UW until then...thus making the possibility of graduating in March close to zero. It's not a big deal though, and after going back and forth with my UW Psych advisor, Sussex Psych advisor, UW international student advisor, and Sussex international student advisor it seemed like the best thing to do. I won't have to register for Spring quarter when I get back and I can still walk in June which is what my original plan was in the first place.

Major Update!!!

Wow. I offically suck at keeping a blog. This is what happens, I make journal and then slack off writing in it. Well ever since the snow all melted, the weather has been on and off between sunshine, cloudy days and a little bit of rain...not as much as Seattle rain, but just to the point where it drizzles.

Where to begin? The month of February has gone by like a blur, and I can't believe its almost over. I only have a month left here, and I'm going to make the most of it. Travel plans have changed instead of going to Bath and Stonehege (both Roman remnants in England), I'll be visiting an old high school friend in Rome. I figured the real Rome was worth the switch, plus I'll be seeing Emma again! This weekend I'll be in Paris with a group of friends- there's 7 of us all together I think: Clark, Cameron, Kolby, Sean, Nicole, Rosie and me....yeah that's 7. Plus some another group is going the same time we are so we might meet up with them. I'm so excited to visit the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, the catacombs and Centre Pompido! I still can't believe I'm in Europe, it seems surreal. Most of my friends here are staying the whole 2 terms and will be here until June so they are traveling during the break- Sussex gives 3 weeks off in April. But I will be back at home by then studying for the GRE's, applying for grad schools, getting psych experience, volunteering, working and doing my scholarship project---> which I shouldn't worry about that now and focus on living my life in THIS MOMENT.....finishing school here, enjoying England, and traveling to Paris, Rome and Barcelona at the end of the month after finals week.

Since my absence from this blog I've been watching a lot of online tv...surfthechannel and are my favorites- watching the complete 2 seasons of The Tudors (Henry Cavill who plays King Henry's best friend is my new celebrity crush by the way) and now I'm almost done with the second season of Private Practice. I love Kate Walsh's character Addison! Plus watching the shrink on the show is intriguing because that's what I want to get myself into eventually *sigh*.

Besides gluing myself to online tv, I've been trying to keep healthy. Ever since I got here I've been eating so much and not watching the kind of foods I do eat...which means I feel fat. Since the gym on campus is too expensive and not worth paying for the short time here, I've found ways to work out like cardio kickboxing from youtube, yoga poses, and running around the neighborhood. The hills here actually hurt my feet but I did find a track the other day that seems perfect for laps! I've also been eating lots of whole grain, yogurt, pasta and veggies.

Besides my diet, money has been a bitch since I don't have a job here and figured getting one is pointless since I'm not here that long. I came here to enjoy, not work so that's what I'm doing...its just hard to spend all this money when I have no regular income. I just have to face the fact that I'll be broke when I get home and will need to work ASAP. Most of the spending was my birthday week and week before since I went out a lot, but the experience was worth it: Pre-drinking at my friends house (where I downed a bottle of vodka mixed with some cranberry. yeah, not a good night for my stomach), dancing at Oceana with heels that hurt, dinners for my friends bdays, pre-drinking on campus, the lameness and lollipops at Audio, Font (the coolest bar ever beausse it was originally an old church), and Spanish tapas for my bday dinner.

Hmmm, Saturday was a good day. I met with some friends (Clark, Nancy and Enkrii) to get some afternoon tea in Rottingdean, a nearby town. I didn't realize that teahouse has been there since the 1500's! Crazy how old everything is here! After tea, we explored the beach and took some fun pictures, threw rocks until they shattered, practiced our model walks on the path, and then took the bus back to town and got some Shakeaway (shakes mixed in with any candy). Check out their menu. Oh but the day wasn't over! We went out later that night to a gay club called much fun! I had a blast except for when a drunk guy pushed me off the platform and spilled a drink all over my purse. Not cool at all.