How to Save on London Museum Visits

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Although visiting London can leave quite the dent in the bank account, one of the major perks about this incredible city is the plethora of free museums! The city clearly places value on the arts, which as a performing arts major, I greatly appreciate (I wish we had more access to free museums in the States, but oh well I’ll just have to keep dreaming.) I decided to put together a list of some of my favorite spots to visit whilst in the city to get exposed to the diverse range of galleries and exhibits London has to offer without adding an extra cost to your visit! I’ve divided them up by location in the city to hopefully make travel plans a bit easier, so here they are….

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1. The National Gallery

Located in Trafalgar Square, is a must see for anyone visiting London. It offers an array of paintings from as early as the thirteenth century! It is here that you’ll find the famous Arnolfini Portrait (gracing the pages of many history textbooks) as well as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The free admission makes it a staple for both art enthusiasts as well as anyone looking to gain some insight into the classical works of Western Europe, or even a peaceful afternoon stroll away from the hustle and bustle of city life. During my time in London, I found myself wandering in here to gain some culture, and view a portion of the museum that I may have overlooked during previous visits. I even stumbled across the Joseph Wright painting “An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump” which served as inspiration for the Shelagh Stephenson play of a similar title! The museum is open daily from 10am-6pm with extended hours on Friday till 9pm.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines)


2. The National Portrait Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery is just around the corner from its relative, and just like the name implies, houses the  portraits of several important and famous people throughout history. This museum displays the collection of Tudor portraits, as well as paintings of the current Royal Family. If time isn’t a luxury on your visit, this is a perfect museum to pop into because it doesn’t take long to see the free exhibits! The museum is open to the public from 10am-6pm which is plenty of time to make it through the entire building.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines)


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3. Somerset House Exhibits

Somerset House offers a lovely area to simply grab a cup of coffee or tea at one of it’s cafes, and in addition to the permanent galleries that cost money for admission, often houses rotating free exhibitions. On my past visit to London, they had a fabulous photography display examining waste around the world. Currently on display for free admission are the AOI Illustration Awards Exhibition located in the Terrace Rooms until November 1st and the Marc Quinn Sculptures gracing the Fountain Court.

Tube Stop: Charing Cross (Served by the Bakerloo and Northern Lines) Temple (Served by the Circle and District Line) or Covent Garden (Served by the Piccadilly Line)


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4. The Hunterian Museum

This gem is hidden in a quaint square surrounding Lincoln’s Inn Fields and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10am to 5pm. It took me until my second visit to London to make it over here, and I’m so glad that I did because it contains so much interesting information about the development and advancement of modern day surgery as well as anatomy displays from the collection of John Hunter. I would highly recommend this museum if you are fascinated by science, or are considering entering the medical field. The exhibit is located inside the the Royal College of Surgeons (When you see the sign in the photograph above, you’ll know you are in the right place), just check in at the reception desk and they will give you a visitor’s pass to access the museum.

Tube Stop: Holborn (Served by the Piccadilly and Central Lines)


5. The British Museum

The British Museum is probably most known for being the home to the Rosetta Stone, however, this museum not only offers incredible statues and artifacts from all over the world, the building architecture is breathtaking. Make sure to look up at the beautiful glass ceiling which allows natural light to beam through (and for instagrammers to get a perfect photo.) The museum is open daily from 10am-5:30pm with extended hours on Friday till 8:30pm.

Tube Stop: Holborn (Served by the Piccadilly and Central Lines)


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6. Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum is home to a collection of many exhibits ranging from natural geological formations to prehistoric specimens. Sure, it may be similar to other Natural History museums out there, but the architecture alone makes this museum a must see. Plus, it is just a short walk from the V&A making it convenient to visit two very different museums in one day! The museum is open daily from 10am-5:30pm and if you stay late enough, you might just see the exhibit come to life….

Tube Stop: South Kensington (Served by the Piccadilly and Circle and District Lines)


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7. Victoria and Albert Museum

Traveling in a group? The V&A is one of the best museums to visit in London because it’s both free and offers a variety of exhibits to satisfy everyone’s interests. Unique to the V&A from the other museums mentioned, it contains an extensive fashion collection ranging from the 18th century to contemporary designs. The museum also has a lovely courtyard perfect for a visit on a sunny afternoon. The gift shop at the Victoria and Albert museum is one of my absolute favorites, so for those of you in the market for a souvenir or postcard to send to a loved one back home, I would take a stroll through here upon your visit! The V&A is open to the public daily from 10am-5:45pm, and on the last Friday of every month, the museum opens it’s doors for special late night events lasting till 10pm. While studying abroad, I attended a late night fashion event (read about it here) with a group of friends and we all had a lot of fun getting to participate in the festivities and explore the museum exhibits.

Tube Stop: South Kensington (Served by the Piccadilly Line)


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8. Tate Modern

The Tate Modern is a fabulous museum to visit for the modern art fanatic, or even to get a gorgeous view of Central London overlooking the Thames. With rotating exhibits, the Tate Modern keeps each visit fresh, and the interactive art center makes it fun for all ages! Here you’ll find the works of Picasso and Jackson Pollock along with several other contemporary works using different design mediums. Grab a cup of tea or coffee from the cafe and relax out on the balcony to get some prime photographs of the city, or settle down on a computer to create a modern work of your own and walk away from your trip as a modern artist! If modern art isn’t your thing, the free admission and proximity to both the Globe and the National Theatre along the South Bank make this museum a perfect place to pop into during your stay. The museum is open to the public Sunday through Thursday from 10am-6pm and Friday through Saturday from 10am-10pm.

Tube Stop: Southwark (Served by the Jubilee Line) Blackfriars (Served by the District and Circle Lines) or if you fancy a nice walk along South Bank take the tube to London Bridge (Served by the Jubilee and Northern Lines), pass through the market, and follow the Thames to the Gallery.

Well there are my top museum recommendations for visiting London! While there are so many amazing museums to see in this city, I hope that this helps narrow down and provide some suggestions for places to see during your travels. If you have any questions or travel recommendations, let me know in the comments! Keep an eye out for future posts about my advice and experiences studying abroad.

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London Calling?

MadCambridgeHere is a photo from my weekend trip to Cambridge with my Mom last Spring.

Okay, I’ll admit it, I’ve been a terrible blogger as of late. I suppose life and the busy nature of University got the best of me and suddenly this blog took a place on the back burner. But enough of the excuses, let’s get to the point of this little post….Over the past few weeks I’ve been counting down the days till I would get to reconnect with my friends across the pond and now that spring break has arrived, I’m excited to let y’all know that I will be traveling back to London! I can’t wait to catch up with everyone that I got to know during this last year and I’m anxious to gain some great stories to bring back from my travels, hopefully I’ll have some entertaining ones! Looking forward to sharing this adventure with anyone who needs a break or possibly an excuse to procrastinate and have a little read of what I get up to whilst away….

Until next time,

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5 Things to Do in Camden

Camden Town

So you’ve found yourself in Camden eh? Now what…Well, I’m no Camden town connoisseur, but I do have a few recommedations for visiting this famous area in London. Camden is a quirky mix of public art on buildings, aromas of vendor food filling the streets and of course the locks. For all of you Seattlites reading this blog, it reminded me of Fremont, especially during the flea market on the weekends. Sure there are plenty of different markets you can frequent whist in the U.K. but a visit to London just wouldn’t be complete without seeing what all the fuss over Camden is about. It’s an easy ride on the tube or bus and you can honestly spend all day wandering around deciding what to eat and looking at the antique shops. Tube Stop: Camden Town on the Northern Line (TFL journey planner)

1. I think my number one piece of advice, at least the one I find important, is to visit on a sunny day if you can. It doesn’t get much better than getting to see the locks on a lovely afternoon. Of course if it’s the middle of autumn, the weather may be a bit fickle and in this case you can always seek warmth inside the covered part of the market, but make the most of the sunshine and take the tube or bus over to Camden!IMG_1573

2. Skip a formal meal in the city and grab lunch at the market! This is a great place to indulge in some good inexpensive food if you are on a budget like I was when I visited. There are lots of different options so if you are traveling in a group of people, everyone can pick and choose what they’re in the mood for. Be warned, if you’re as indecisive as I am you might be here for ages trying to settle on something though haha! A lot of people also like Poppies fish and chips if your craving some classic British food.

IMG_1558My travel buddy Emma on one of the many bike seats.

3. Take a ride on a motor bike! After grabbing some food, make your way over to the motorcycle seats to eat along the water. And while you’re enjoying your time on the bike feeling like a bad ass, maybe even turn on some Bound 2, you’ll feel like your right out of the music video.

4. Visit the antique shops. There are loads of neat little trinkets, clothes, old advert posters, and much more that are fun to look at. Plus, what better souvenir to bring back home with you than a unique vintage piece of London!

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5. Visit the locks. Take a little stroll along the locks, especially on a sunny day. There are a few little cafes along the walkway and the walk is pretty peaceful to just enjoy the weather and have a nice chat with your friends. It also is nice after stuffing yourself full of the delicious food.

Well thats all for today everyone, but hope to see you back soon when I talk about my University experience! If you’ve visited the area before feel free to comment down below with your tips and advice.IMG_1567

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Let’s Take A Walk Down Memory “Laine”

A year in review 2A few highlights from my first semester at Uni in London. From top left: A view of London from the Tate Modern, Christmas time in the city with Lidia, eating waffles in Amsterdam, rehearsal for my dramaturgy class, New Year’s Eve with my cousin McKenna, and a final night out before the end of the semester with April.

So this post is only a month overdue . . . All that aside, now that we’ve welcomed 2014, I thought it would be a nice little reminder for me to look back on some of my favorite memories from my fall term abroad. I’ll have to admit, after having a month off of school to celebrate the holidays in the company of my Aunt, Uncle and Cousins, it was quite difficult to return to school not to mention get back in the habit of regularly blogging (as is evident by my lack of posts since the new year celebrations). Of course I had a wonderful experience during my first semester, but I was returning to University with the knowledge that so many of the close friends that I had bonded with over the previous three months would not be there to reunite with after the holiday season. While I knew that I would get to meet so many new people to share close conversation with, I’m not going to lie, returning to Uni a few days before classes started up again was a bit lonely. Don’t get me wrong, I like to have my alone time too, but through my experiences at University, both back home and abroad, I’ve learned that I’m someone who needs social interaction for the sake of my own sanity ha ha. Reflecting back on my first term arriving in London with little knowledge of what to expect and not knowing anyone, to eventually watching some of my closest friends wheel their luggage out of their flats one by one, I can truly say that I have learned so much, not only about other perspectives on life, but also about myself. My Aunt was definitely right when she told me that you connect with people in a different way when you are put in a new environment where you’re all starting over in a sense because everyone wants to make friends. You bond quickly and closely. Goodbyes have always been difficult for me, even just thinking back to the times I would part with my cousin at the airport when we were young I remember always being emotional about her departure. (Now that I’m older I’ve gotten pretty good at concealing my emotions to the public.) But with goodbyes come new and fresh beginnings which propel you to venture out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and understand more about yourself. I’ve discovered and accepted the fact that I have a hard time with transitions, something that I feel I’ve always subconsciously known about myself but tried to deny. I’ve discovered that I have a serious fear of missing out on opportunities because I won’t have the same experiences as other people to share and laugh about. I’ve discovered that I don’t really speak up for myself when something has affected me in an effort to avoid any unnecessary drama or problems, whether that is a good or bad thing I’m still  unsure of. And I’ve discovered that I need to learn how to live in the moment and not worry so much about things that have happened in the past or may happen in the future. Most importantly, I just feel incredibly lucky and grateful that I’m able to stay for another term because I will be able to connect with more people and acquire a greater sense of independence and maturity. I can’t wait to look back on this new term with fond memories and if it is anything like first semester I know I will have a lot of fun! Thank you so much to my friends both old and new and of course my family for making this experience both possible and positive, it is an adventure I will always remember!

Until next time,New blog signature 2

“It’s Turkey Lurkey Time . . .”

Well it’s that time of the year again where we can all indulge in a delicious feast of food and sweets and not feel one ounce of guilt about it because we are spending our day in the company of friends and family! As a foodie, it’s only natural that I absolutely love Thanksgiving. Although I have definitely been spoiled with my mother’s good cooking as a result of  devoting her day to preparing the stuffed turkey, buttery yams, and homemade cranberry sauce among other things. But just because I’m overseas this year did not mean I would treat this Thursday like any ordinary day, oh no no no. . . I have to admit that it was a little difficult accepting the fact that I wouldn’t be able to spend the holiday with my family this year. It was hard to believe I would miss out on the tradition of pulling myself out of bed before noon to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, keeping my mom company in the kitchen while eating any handouts she might have to offer, or the epic nerf gun fights with my brother, and getting to spend real quality time with relatives, as cliché as that may sound. The eight-hour time difference didn’t really help any chance of a virtual Thanksgiving via Skype either. However, although I may have not gotten to celebrate the holiday with my immediate family, I was able to share new memories with my London family, something that I will greatly cherish when I look back on Thanksgivings in the future. I decided to share a piece of my day through this video which my friends so graciously were a part of (thank you Alex, Brian, Christian, Katelyn and Lidia). I’m so grateful that I have people in my life that surround me with joy, support and positivity who have allowed me to have an enriching and unique experience! Sending love and thanks to friends and family!

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Hungry for The Hunger Games

Well this post is long overdue . . .

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Let’s take a trip back to November shall we. Before embarking on this study abroad experience, I had heard that one of things I must do while in the city is attend a film premiere, so when I heard that the world premiere of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire was going to be in Leicester Square (thanks mom) I knew I had to make the journey into the city. After all  I wasn’t going to miss a once in a lifetime opportunity like this, plus Jennifer Lawrence was set to attend and who wouldn’t want a chance to meet someone as funny and talented as her. After class, I persuaded my friend Lidia to go to Central London with me a few hours before the time that the premiere was set to begin so that we could get a decent area to stand and watch the event take place. Despite the dedicated crowds of people who had been standing there for hours before, some of which even camped out overnight, we managed to snag a couple of standing spots closer to the end of the red carpet. Since the event wasn’t set to start until 5:30 we ended up standing in the drizzling rain for about four hours before any stars started arriving, but it was well worth it! All of the people involved in the film were incredibly gracious to their fans, although, they had to move along quite quickly where we were standing to make it inside on time. Of course the night wouldn’t be complete with out a classic comedic line from Jennifer Lawrence who in response to the interviewer asking how she was, responded “I’m good, I just found a couple of Mentos in my pocket!”IMG_0520IMG_0525IMG_0536And here come the stars we’ve all been waiting for!IMG_0571Willow Shields (Primrose Everdeen)IMG_0550Stanley Tucci (Caesar Flickerman)IMG_0554Donald Sutherland (President Snow)IMG_0593Sam Claflin (Finnick Odair)IMG_1082Josh Hutcherson (Peeta Mellark) Photo compliments of Lidia.IMG_0582Liam Hemsworth (Gale Hawthorne)IMG_0585And finally the beautiful, hilarious and down-to-earth . . .IMG_0588Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss Everdeen)IMG_0590

Overall, it was a successful evening in London and I would definitely recommend attending a movie premiere if you ever get the opportunity because although it can be a long time to wait it is sure to be a memorable experience!

Until next time,New blog signature 2

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like, Dare I Say Christmas?

Here’s an instrumental version of the popular song for some background music whilst you read. Enjoy!

Why hello lovely people of the blogosphere! It’s been a long time since I’ve sat down to write an update on my adventures and this post is long overdue . . . Now I know it is still November, but since the U.K doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving, I’ve started to get in to the Christmas spirit early this year. Luckily, I  got back from my Amsterdam trip on Friday, just in time to get to watch the Regent Street holiday lighting and fireworks over the Thames on Saturday evening (the 16th of November)! I went over to Central London with Lidia and got off of the tube near Southbank to go watch the firework show that was scheduled for 5:30 that evening. It’s still amazes me how quickly it gets dark during the wintertime here, but I suppose it isn’t much different from back home in that respect. On the walk towards the river we stumbled upon the Southbank market occupied by vendors filling the bank side with the glorious aroma of hot food off the griddle. As you have probably figured out by now if you’ve been keeping up with my blogs, I have a slight food fixation. Since I hadn’t eaten a proper lunch or dinner, I decided to pick up a kielbasa to eat on the go as Lidia had made it sound quite appealing. We made our way towards our usual coffee-house of choice located along the Thames to indulge in a cappuccino, but upon our arrival, the fireworks started going off so we postponed the java and turned our attention towards the illuminated night sky. The firework shows here seem to be really extravagant! Although I have made it a tradition to attend the fourth of July firework show over the lake back home, I have never seen something quite this grandiose. As someone who loves the holiday season, I had to make it over to Regent St. to witness the lights turn on.IMG_0464 IMG_0465 IMG_0470 IMG_0475

There were so many people on Regent St. all packed in to watch the holiday lights turn on! IMG_0494The Lights are off . . . IMG_0495 and now they are on!!!IMG_0497Fireworks to celebrate the beginning of the holiday season on Regent St.IMG_0509The row of lights down the street.IMG_1071

Each of the light arbors were themed with different days from “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which made both Lidia and I realize that we don’t know the song as well as we thought we did. Although, I am notoriously bad at singing lyrics correctly ha ha. There is something so magical about having the city lit up with decorations and tons of joyful people walking up and down the streets and I can’t wait to see what the city looks like as the holiday season approaches.

Until next time,New blog signature 2