Christmastime in the UK

Hi all,

I hope this post finds you in good holiday spirits. If not… grab a cuppa (tea) and cheer up.

I’m not going to lie, it’s been awfully hard to focus on my classes when there’s so many winter activities to do in so little time. I’m used to going ice skating and Christmas shopping in Toronto, but London takes it to a whole new level.

For starters, there are lights everywhere! Some streets have more than others, especially Oxford and Regent, but no area is left untouched. This helps me cope with it being dark at 4 pm. There are also Christmas markets all over the city – I think I visited three in the span of a week and a half. Christmas markets originated in Germany, so they always smell of delicious bratwurst and mulled wine. So tempting when you’re walking in the cold! If you don’t know what a Christmas market is, don’t worry, neither did I… Basically, there are a bunch of stalls outside, all lit up, with handmade goods, food, or drinks. If you’re lucky, you’ll come across a stall with samples (and naturally, eat everything and run). I can never bring myself to walk past a Christmas market without stopping by for what I think will be “a few minutes.” If that sounds like something you’d like to see, check out the Christmas market at the Distillery District in Toronto.

I also managed to get away from the city for a weekend to see a few of my friends who are studying at Cardiff University. Cardiff is located in Wales, which is a whole other country. The city itself isn’t much different from cities in England, minus the Welsh signs. Seriously, it’s impossible to read them if you don’t speak Welsh. For example, Cardiff is Caerdydd, and city is ddinas. How does one even pronounce that?!

Anyways, I’ve been to Cardiff a few times before, and it’s always a fun time. It’s a city populated by university students, so it can get quite crazy sometimes, especially on nights out. I managed to stay out of trouble and have a good weekend. I think my highlight was going to a Christmas fair with rides and reindeer. If it wasn’t clear already, I’m obsessed with the holiday season.

We also had a delicious Sunday roast at a pub, which is perhaps one of my favourite things about the UK. Every Sunday, families and pubs prepare a carvery, containing all the foods you would have on Thanksgiving and more. I’m definitely going to miss that in Canada.

Well, I should probably start on my final essays…

Until next time,

Veronika

 

 

 

 

Tea, Tourism, and Theatre

Hi everyone!

I’m happy to announce that it’s officially Christmas time in London town.

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason

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Even Oxford Street is all lit up! The cold just seems much more bearable when there are lights up (and boy, did it get cold fast).

While London was busy getting dressed up, my family visited me during my reading week here. It was great having a break from res life and not having to cook and clean. I even had proper afternoon tea for the first time since coming to the UK!

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It was a lot of fun! I would definitely go again if it wasn’t so expensive… guess I’ll just have tea and biscuits at home.

It’s funny that all the foods and activities that North Americans would classify as “British” actually cost quite a bit here! For instance, it’s hard to find fish and chips in London for under 8 pounds (roughly 15 dollars), which is ridiculous. It’s not cheap being a tourist.

Annoyances aside, I’ve been taking advantage of all the plays on in London, as they have amazing student prices for tickets. Last night I saw Much Ado About Nothing, with Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones.

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And tonight, I’m seeing Richard II with David Tennant – which I’m now late for.

Talk soon!

-Shakespeare enthusiast, aka Veronika

 

Exploring England

Hey again,

Hope all your midterms and essays have gone well!

I myself have finally gotten out of London for a weekend, to visit the countryside. I’m not sick of the city at all, but I would also like to travel around England, so when my friend suggested we come home with him for the weekend, I was more than happy to oblige. He’s from a small town called Warrington, near Manchester. The train ride there featured plains, sheep, and cows.

Now Warrington is nice, but there’s really not much to see, so we ended up going to Manchester for the day. Not going to lie – it was a bit of a disappointment. We probably should have planned our day in advance, but because we didn’t, we ended up walking around aimlessly. Got a few cute shots along the way:

Tudor pub

Tudor pub

P1010087It was refreshing to get out of the city for a few days, but we were all happy to come back.

In London, I took the rare opportunity of a sunny day to explore South Kensington, one of the nicest areas of the city. It’s full of posh boutiques, shops, museums, and cafes.

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Can I live here?

Can I live here?

A flat here would cost upwards of a million pounds

A flat here would cost upwards of a million pounds… so no, I can’t live here.

It’s definitely one of my favourite areas in London. If any of you have any suggestions of where to go in London (or England!) leave them in the comments below.

On an unrelated note, the leaves here are finally changing colour… and they are huge!

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Until next time…

Happy Hallows’ Eve!

– Veronika

The Perks of Living in England

Hi again!

I hope you’re all enjoying the beautiful fall weather in Canada as it’s not stopped raining here for a week and the trees are still green. Though I missed Thanksgiving at home, I managed to make a makeshift meal with my flatmates.

Fall activities aside, I’ve been busy with school work, but I can’t say I mind too much. All of my courses are proving to be challenging and interesting.

One of the differences between U of T and KCL is that my professors here actually lead the seminars and tutorials, as opposed to graduate students. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, having authors and academics listen intently to what you have to say, but ultimately worth it.

For one of my favourite courses, Shakespeare’s London, I occasionally have my some of my lectures at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Just another perk of studying English Literature in England.

Just another day of class

But even when I don’t have theatre workshops with Globe actors, I feel lucky enough to be at King’s College London – just look at the campus!

Strand campus in central London

Strand campus in central London

Howarts? Nope, just the library.

Hogwarts? Nope, just the library.

As if the architecture wasn’t enough, it turned out that the location for the Inside Out Project in London was right behind my campus. I managed to pop by on my break and take part with my one of my flatmates.

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You can spot us in the middle!

With school work and planning trips, these past two weeks have felt like a blur. I would say I hope life slows down a bit, but then it wouldn’t be London.

Until next time,

Veronika

London Living

Hello again CIE readers! I’ve had a busy couple of weeks here in London.

My classes only began on the 30th of September, so I’ve been spending my time getting to know my new home. So far, I’ve been to Covent Garden, Chinatown, Oxford Circus, and all around Southwark, which is the area where my residence is located, on London’s South Bank. However, London is a huge city, so I’ve just barely scratched the surface of what there is to discover. Here are some photos I took while on the run!

Borough Market in Southwark

Borough Market in Southwark

Leadenhall Market, where some of the Diagon Alley scenes of Harry Potter were filmed

Leadenhall Market, where some of the Diagon Alley scenes of Harry Potter were filmed

Chinatown

Chinatown

Oxford Street

Oxford Street

At King’s College, classes may have just started, but I spent most of last week attending induction events and lectures, learning all I need to know for the next year. I also attended the Freshers Fair, where students can sign up for clubs and societies that interest them. Here’s a photo of my flatmates and I at the fair, from the photography club booth:

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Of course, I signed up for far too many clubs and my inbox is flooded… After much internal debate and consideration, I’ve decided to stick with The King’s Players, the largest theatre group at King’s College, and the dance society.

I’m sure I’ll be plenty busy now, especially since classes have started. I was worried that the teaching system here would differ greatly from the one I’m used to in Toronto, but it’s actually quite similar. I have lectures and seminars (tutorials) for each course, and a few assessments each semester. The major difference is that my final assignments will be due after Christmas break, rather than before. Also, for one of my courses (Shakespeare’s London), I occasionally get to have my lectures at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre! It’s just one of the benefits of studying English Literature in London.

On another note, it hasn’t rained for 5 days now. Should I be scared? I’m scared.

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I’m expecting a flood in the next couple of days… But business will continue as usual.

Talk soon,

Veronika

Welcome to London, The Land of Rain

People say that the weather in London is unpredictable. I can tell you for sure that it is not. It’s rainy. It might start out sunny, but at some point, it is going to rain. I’ve been here for only four days so far, so I’m still getting used to being constantly wet. Other than that, I’ve been having a good time settling into my new home for the next year.

I guess I should introduce myself! Hi, I’m Veronika, and I study English Literature at Victoria College. For my third year, I’ll be doing a year abroad at King’s College London. After all, there’s no better place to study English than England!

I’m now living in one of King’s residences with six other students. Luckily, I have my own bathroom and shower, and the kitchen is huge! My roommates flatmates are from Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, and some smaller towns in the UK. Quite a cool combination; the conversations never get boring.

I haven’t done much in London since I’ve gotten here, but my classes don’t start for another two weeks, so I’ll have plenty of time to explore the city. I did leave the flat today, however, with some new friends to explore Camden town. We were originally going to hide from the rain inside, but one of them advised us to not get in the habit of avoiding the rain… otherwise we’d be inside all the time! Thus, we put on our rain boots and raincoats and made our way to the tube (subway).

The only thing I can compare Camden town to in Toronto is Queen Street West… but it’s bigger and weirder. Here are some photos, though admittedly none capture its weirdness:image[2]image

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We ended up getting lost in the area, but that led us to discover that Camden town is much bigger than it originally seems. We even spotted a fake Banksy:

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I’m now safe and dry back in my room, resting up before a quiz night in my residence, and then a Freshers event (Freshers is the UK version of frosh week, except it’s not only for first years and it lasts a few weeks).

I’m excited for what’s to come! Whatever it may be.

Talk soon…

Veronika