Posted by: frolan | December 7, 2008

Thanksgiving and thoughts about English food

So we had a true American Thanksgiving in my flat thanks to a few girls who basically organized the whole thing.  We ordered turkey, stufffing, gravy, potatoes from Whole Foods and then heated it up when everyone got back from work and ate all together in our common room.  At work a couple of my co-workers decided to use the holiday as an excuse to take off the rest of the week, which I found pretty funny b/c it is primarily a North American Holiday, but I guess you might as well take time off if you can.
Thinking about Thanksgiving reminded me of all the strange food they have over here, last week I bought crisps in what I guess you would call traditional English flavors….Prawn Cocktail, Roast Chicken and Smokey Bacon.  The first day we arrived we were given box lunches, and one of my roommates got a bag of chicken flavored chips and threw them away b/c they tasted weird (chicken on fried potatoes is quite an interesting way to be welcomed to England…) Although I guess I like them now, which is just a funny change.
English pub food is suprisingly good, especially the “gastro pubs” whose chefs are professionaly trained.  Some of the best English dishes I have had are Sausage and Mash (sausage and mashed potatoes), Lasagne and Fish and Chips (duh…), although interestingly you don’t get multiple pieces of fish you just get one giant piece which you just have  to tear apart.
I just got back from Liverpool which was a cool trip b/c I got out of the center of London and got to see the Northern part of the country and the countryside.  One of the things that struck me was how dramatically the city ended as we were leaving on the bus and how suddenly we we arrived in the center of other cities, there is no urban sprawl and never ending suburbs like we get in the states.  Liverpool’s waterfront is very modern, all new condo buildings are going up, a Hilton Hotel…, and the dock area is filled with modern clubs and restaurants.  I went to the Beatles museum and saw the original location of the Cavern Club where they became the most popular band in Liverpool.
Posted by: frolan | November 4, 2008

Election Day

or as a newspaper here put it, “The Day America became a little bit cool again”.

So its election day and the English pay very close attention to our politics, probably more so than quite a few Americans.  On a break from class I went to the grocery store and the Election was the top story almost every newspaper (no matter what their bias: left, right, “independent”).  If you didn’t know the English love their newspapers, their are papers for everyone, all political views, interests (Financial Times, & The City both focus on economic and business news) which are published daily mon – fri.  Their bias are usually easy to figure out, The Daily Mail is one of the most conservative papers and calls people names trying to either get the audience to agree with the author’s view or cater to the attitude of the reader.   These papers are usually cheap, < 2 pounds, most ~ 1.  There are also free papers, if you use the tube to commute, you can pick up “The Metro” once you scan your oyster card or ticket.  At night when everyone is geting off work you can get either “London Lite” or “The London Paper”, which are both supported entirely through advertisements. They include a mix of tabloid (celebrity, entertainment) and actual news topics, so its an easy way to catch up on what is going on for free.  The distributers usually usually stay around tube stations where they can reach everyone coming or going home.

It was interesting to see that Barack was candidate that was used most often on the papers, I didn’t see any papers that just had a picture of McCain, while multiple only had a pic of Obama.  To be fair there was at least one that had both candidates on the front page.  I am sure for the next couple days the Election wil be the top story.  Many local pubs are hosting election parties, so we might be going to one tonight, so it will be pretty interesting to see the environment.  Throughout Europe there is widespead support for Obama, one of my roommates was in Prauge over fall break and he and the people he was with got free shots Jagermeister from a bar tender.  Apparently he asked if there were any Americans, they said “America! yeah!”, then he asked if they like Obama, they said yes and he poured them each a shot.

This made me realize its already November and that my time here is going by way too fast…

Posted by: frolan | October 29, 2008

SNOW (?)

So it snowed here last night which was a big deal b/c it hasn’t snowed in London in October for 70 years.  Even though it seemed more like the slush we get in seattle…it stuck to cars so I guess it was official.  I didnt get any pictures, but it just thought it was cool enough to tell you guys.

I started my internship today, but it wasn’t very productive…I got a quick tour of the office that includes about 4 desks and saw that they are somewhat un-organized.  I did get to go to the outskirts of the city, Totternham and then Greenwich to see other entrepeneural bodies that do similar work.  Oh side note: I blinked out my contact while we were waiting for our first meeting of the day, good start.

Posted by: frolan | October 29, 2008

The end of classes! & Fall break

So I finished classes last thursday and I am almost done with my fall break.  I start my internship next wednesday at a company (non-profit) called Capital Enterprise.

I went to Paris with my mom on monday, where we got a guided tour of all the major sites, Effiel Tower, Louvre, Arch de Triomphe, we also got a river tour which was really cool because we went around the original island where the city was founded.  We took the first eurostar train to Paris on monday morning, 6:40 am, so I got up after about 4.5 hours of sleep, which is pretty good I think, to catch a 4:20 am bus to the station…

Besides that we did a lot of tourist stuff besides the museums cause I’m not really a fan.  We saw the War Rooms where Winston Churchill and his commanders prepared for a german invasion, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Oxfor Street / Harrods & The Tower of London.  We got the the Tower early so we could see the Crown Jewels, I don’t know very much about jewels but to see such a historic and large collection was amazing.  By the time we left there was a line out the building to see them so I considered myself lucky to be able to see them without a crowd.  On a side note I found out that the autofocus motor on my zoom lens no longer works when I first tried to use it at the Tower of London…lame, so I am going to find a camera shop to try and figure out what if it can be fixed.

So now I am 1/2 the way through my time in London, I still have my British Life and Business class once a week and an Internship course (to prepare me for my internship?) then I work 9:30 – 5:30 Wednesday – Friday until December 18th.  But I am done with my open enrollment classes so I don’t have to deal with an somewhat uncomfortably enthusiastic Italian International Trade teacher or learn about the same marketing concepts for 6 weeks.  I’m hoping to really get a feel for what it is like to live as a Londoner, not as a student somewhat removed from the English lifestyle by studying abroad, once I start working & commuting 3 days a week.

More on the internship after a week or so.

Posted by: frolan | September 24, 2008

The first two.5 weeks

So far this week I have gone to the finale of the Thames river festival and Buckingham Palace.  One of the most interesting things about Buckingham Palace was the sheer size of it.  Living in a city and especially one as old as London, is the perceived lack of space inside buildings.  I think this is because from the street the lots are so narrow that you don’t realize how far back they extend, this is especially true in most of the residential areas.  Buckingham Palace was amazing I can’t explain all of the architecture and design of the palace, but the most interesting things we saw were the courtyard, dining hall, art gallery and the grounds behind.  The courtyard is usually empty but it is used for hosting events and it is where all the guests arrive and where the Queen leaves from when she travels by carriage.  We also saw the dining hall where world leaders go as part of their visit to England.  The preparation takes a really long time (I can’t remember exactly how long) but the staff starts setting the table at least two days in advance and the planning starts multiple months before the guest arrives.  The staff measures the distances between the utensils, plates and glasses, so everything is perfect.

Here are some pics from the fireworks at the finale of the Thames Festival

On Saturday I took a trip to Stonehenge and the city of Bath that was organized by the program I am studying in London through, FIE.  I especially enjoyed going to bath because I had been there once before on my tour of England and Scotland in June 2006 and we drove right past the hotel I stayed at.  We took a tour of the Roman baths, which most people weren’t very interested in so we kind of rushed through it.  Although coincidently we were in Bath when a Jane Austin festival was going on so we saw people everywhere dressed up in Medival type clothes, a few people (further clogging up traffic) in a horse drawn carriage, and a public performance in the town square.  So overall it was a really fun day, it was really nice to get out of the city and see some of rural England.

Posted by: frolan | September 10, 2008

A week late

Well I know an entry is long overdue, since ive been in London for a week now, but better late than never.  Being here to study is a different experience than going somewhere and doing the tourist thing.  I think the biggest difference I have found is that because I am not studying at an English university I have to do almost everything myself.  Our flat has a kitchen, but we have to buy our own food, clean our dishes and then put them back, 3 meals a day.  It probably sounds like I am being a baby, but its just yet another thing to do besides everything else needed to keep my life in order.  I took the tube to the other side of zone 1 on Monday to get my books, which forced me to figure out how to change trains and navigate on my own.  Living in a flat with other students is a really good way to get acquainted with the British lifestyle, because you have to continue to do everything you normally would back in the States, only in a different culture.  For example this weekend I have to go and get laundry supplies, but first I have to find equivalent brands to the stuff I use in the states.
On another note, I am living in the nicest area of London, The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.  Which strangely used to be out in the countryside but began to be developed after the World Fair thrown by a King whose name I can’t remember right now.  I am right across the street from Hyde Park, but about a 20 minute walk from where my classes are.  I was really surprised to hear that the program that I am studying with has buildings in such a nice area.  If you are interested in a little history, the houses in this area where originally owned by a majority of middle upper class citizens, out tour guide described them as the factory owners of the Industrial Revolution, who had little education but were wealthy.  It would have been typical for their children to attend prestigious schools, seeking the education their parents never received.

Below are some pics of my flat, my view out onto hyde park and high street