5 Things I Learned in Italy

Things I learned in ItalyPhoto of the ruins in Rome, Italy.

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog, you’ll know that I spent Spring holiday traveling around Europe with my best friend from back in the States. It was definitely a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity for the two of us, and we tried to make the most of it by visiting as many sights as possible as well as strolling around to see where the side roads would take us. Here are a few of the things that I took away from our adventures in Florence and Rome that I thought may be helpful to remember in the future!

1. Street Crossing-You know those little zebra crossings located in busy parts of the city? Become best friends with them! Unless you are super bold and are willing to risk your life crossing the street you might want to seek out a proper cross walk. Especially when trying to cross the road near a roundabout, and chances are you’ll encounter many of these. If you are feeling daring, you kind of just have to go for it and hope that the cars will stop, but please please be safe and just opt for the marked walkway.

2. Directions Please?-The cities we visited in Italy are not on a grid system like streets in the U.S. are, and often times the signs are tricky to find. For two girls who struggle with directions, you can only imagine all of the wandering around we did looking like complete idiots. If you have an idea where you are going beforehand this will save quite a bit of time, but just remember streets change into other streets and soon enough the city will have you walking in circles!

3. Food Glorious Food-Don’t be too quick to judge a place based on the prices, some of the best food we had was not the most expensive out there. Our Belgian friend we met in Prague advised us to find places far away from tourist attractions for the cheaper, most authentic options. As for the gelato, just because it looks beautiful doesn’t mean it’s the best. Try out a few places and see what you like! (But honestly, can you ever really go wrong with gelato?)

4.Tickets Anyone?-If you want to spend less time in line to see the sights of Italy, reserve tickets way in advance! We made the mistake of not doing this and I’ll just say that next time the minute I know about a trip I’ll be popping on my  computer ASAP.

5.Relax-Because there are so many tourists and people seem more relaxed, life moves a bit slower in Italy. Chill out and take a leisurely stroll to each venue. In the U.S and even in London, things seem more fast-paced, but sometimes it’s good to take some time to soak in all that a new city has to offer. When in Rome right?

Let me know what you’ve learned from your travels in the comments and any tips you have!

Until next time,New blog signature 2

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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

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

Just Your Average Day at the Apple Store

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Ever since I saw the Downton Abbey post on Facebook that there was going to be a Q&A with a couple of members of the cast at the Apple store on Regent Street, I have been awaiting the day I would have my brush with the Crawley family, and today was the day! I became addicted to the show a couple of summers ago and couldn’t pass up an opportunity like this! After class, a few of my friends here at Goldsmiths boarded the overground to make our way to central London in hopes of listening to the beautiful Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary, and the ever so handsome Allen Leech who plays Tom Branson, give a talk about the show. Ahh if only I could meet a lovely chauffeur like Branson to whisk me away, sorry ladies Mr. Leech is taken, but a girl can dream right? We decided to get to the store pretty early in case there was a massive line to wait in because if we made the trek over to central London we might as well try to get a decent spot to listen to the actors give their talk. When we arrived at the store, we noticed that the sign for the event stated that you had to make a reservation to get a spot for viewing, which was not specified anywhere on the Facebook notification, but being surrounded by laptops we rushed over to the nearest one to try and secure our spots! Unfortunately, when we found the page to register, the event was all full. NOOOOO . . .  was our first reaction. You mean we traveled all this way for nothing? I figured I would just explain our little situation to one of the Apple store employees and see if there was any possibility of getting into the event if people who had made a reservation didn’t show up. I mean the worst that they could say was “no, I’m sorry the event is full” right? So my friend Katelyn and I spoke with a lovely employee who reassured us that we would be able to come back in about an hour to wait in the stand-by line and at least get to stand in the back for the Q&A. In the meantime, the girls and I decided to grab a bite to eat across the street from the store and get in the stand-by line in an hour. Boy, was the store crowded though. We waited in line for nearly a half an hour and managed to edge our way towards the front, but were still pretty far back.IMG_0233

The entire event was being filmed to document the interview and so that fans could watch the Q&A online from the comfort of their home. IMG_0239Here is a camera man setting up before the actors entered the space.

Once Michelle Dockery and Allen Leech took their seats and began the interview and Q&A session, everyone was snapping pictures and trying to stand on top of the tables or squeeze their way to the front for a better view. My friend Michelle, with height on her side, managed to get a nice photo for my personal documentation!IMG_0247It was quite difficult to get a photo that wasn’t a little blurry due to the fact that the crowd and the actors kept shifting around, but this one turned out nice! You can see Allen Leech to the left and Michelle Dockery on the right.

I wanted to stay for the talk, but unfortunately from where we were standing it was really tricky to hear and understand what the actors were saying and we couldn’t actually see them very well (the zoom on my camera is responsible for the close photo) so we decided to head back home because the event was being filmed and is available online to watch. All in all, it was well worth the wait and now we all know how to make reservations for future events held at the Apple store! I can’t wait to watch the full Q&A with such inspiring actors, not to mention a couple of my favorite characters on the show.

Until next time,

Lainey xoxo

A Fabulous Friday

IMG_1042Here are a few of the props we were able to work with in my theatre course today. This photo kind of reminded me of the pictures in the old I Spy books I used to read growing up.

Alright I know it has been a really long time since I did a blog post about what I’ve been up to, so I thought I’d give everyone a quick update! Today I had my Questions of Dramaturgy course which can be quite exhausting because it lasts for about eight hours with an included hour for lunch. The morning half of class is dedicated to working with a different tutor in a workshop where we get to learn about different methods to jump-start our creative thinking to create a performance piece, while the second half of class is used to rehearse what we practiced earlier in the day. Although the workshops are interesting, I’m not gonna lie, it is pretty draining to have my long day of class on a Friday. The workshop I attended today focused on the use of objects in devising a performance piece, for example how that object could be interacted with in a different way, how it could be used to establish a  back story for a character, or  how the form of that object could provide a general concept to center a scene around.

During the workshop we were able to explore how to use different props and got to explore the space with music accompaniment. I absolutely love warming up and working with music in the background because not only is it relaxing, it can really set the tone for the work that you come up with. One of the songs our tutor played that I really liked was composed by Philip Glass for the film The Hours. I first heard Philip Glass on Pandora radio a couple of years ago and love the heavy use of strings and repetitive quality of his compositions because they are very soothing and can elicit many emotions. Have a little listen!

After a long day of class, I was about ready to take a nice nap, but I had already planned on paying the Victoria and Albert Museum a visit with some friends, so I pushed through my exhaustion and let me tell you, it was well worth it! The first perk about this museum is that it’s free just like many of the other museums in London. This Friday, the museum was opened late for a night event with different exhibits, activities, and Dj’s to keep the people entertained. This time the theme was back to the 80’s which was super exciting for me because I really enjoy 80’s music! We ended up taking the bus over to the museum because it was a bit cheaper than the tube and we weren’t in a major rush to get to the event anyway. When we boarded the bus, we were actually able to get front row seats on the upper deck and prime viewing for the Central London night scene! Also, the oyster card reader wasn’t working so we didn’t have to pay for the ride! Unfortunately, upon our arrival to the bus stop, we realized our directions had taken us to the Victoria and Albert restaurant and we had traveled 25 minutes in the wrong direction. But hey, at least we got a free bus tour of central London right?IMG_1043Blurry iPhone picture through the bus window. You can even see our reflection in the window!

In addition to getting to look at the regular museum exhibits, there was an area set up where you could get dolled up 80’s style courtesy of Illamasqua makeup artists, view popular 80’s fashion, dance to 80’s music and interact with people dressed up wandering around the event. I was able to wander through some really fascinating exhibits, especially the fashion through the years section where there were different outfits on display. I definitely enjoyed my time at the V&A and plan on going back in the near future to do some more exploring!

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To the left is a photo of the Scarlett Dress pattern draped on a dress form, and on the right is the ceiling of the entrance to the museum lit up for the event.

That’s all I have for now, and I promise next time to remember to bring my camera along for better photos!

Until next time,

Lainey xoxo

Tea, Tips and Tidbits

tea timeI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the advice that I could give future travelers and students interested in studying abroad. Of course take everything I say here with a grain of salt because everyone’s experience is going to be quite different and I think that one of the best ways to learn is really to explore things for yourself (cliche, I know but apparently I like using sayings like this according to my friends back home ha ha).  For my first installment of tea, tips and tidbits, I would like to give you all my favorite piece of advice to myself that has helped me a ton during my adventures arriving in London, as well as during my exploration of the city!

Tip #1: Be comfortable asking questions! I cannot stress how important this has been for me whist studying abroad. Even though sometimes it might be a bit nerve wracking, especially in a foreign country, people are generally more than happy to point you in the right direction or answer any questions you might have. Honestly, people are not out to see you fail or laugh at your confusion. Plus in the long run, you will most likely save some time figuring out things by yourself and avoid getting lost!