Filed under: England
I am typing on a french keyboard right now and it is super slow, so I will make this short.
I had an amazing time exploring LSE, the place I hope to go for grad school. I really like their social policy program, and after talking to someone at the student recruitment office, it really seems that I have a good shot at going there. According to him, LSE only accepts people that are really passionate about their subject matter, so I feel that it would be a great environment for me. It is a lot more independent work than I think Americans are used to, but I have an advantage because of the alternative education school I go to. The man I met with seemed generally impressed with what I was doing for my undergrad, so I hope that if/when I apply, they will see me as a unique individual who can bring a lot to their program.
Also, the bookstore at LSE is AMAZING. There were shelves and shelves of books on development, and I spent the whole morning drooling over them. If these are going to be the books I would be reading for classes, then I think I would do very well at LSE.
I am having a fabulous time in London with my cousin Elise, who I get along very well with. I am so glad I got to see her because I rarely do. She is such a strong person, incredibly intelligent, rational, and down-to-earth, while also having a hilarious sense of humor. I have enjoyed my time in London SO much and I am excited to live here if I go to grad school at LSE.
Tonight I leave for Nepal and go back to Asia. I am ready to go. Europe was an amazing experience, and I know I will find my way back here. But I am ready to go back to Asia, to Nepal, to Bangladesh, to India, to hear Hindi being spoken again, to rickshaws, paan, motorbikes, cows ambling all over the streets- the beautiful chaotic mess of Asia that I have come to love and cherish with all of my heart.
See you there friends,
Filed under: England
Well….. the title says it all. Traveling through Europe is so unbelievably expensive, it is beyond laughable. I have never spent so much money in my life, and I am traveling pretty cheaply- staying with friends, family, couch surfing, hostels- and somehow my moolah continues to slip through my fingers until suddenly I turn around and go “Wait– WHAT just happened?” I miss being able to bum around in South Asia for 10 bucks a day. I miss getting stipends from my University (Ohhhh stipends, how I miss you right now) to buy food.
My plan for the next week is to travel to France (mercifully staying at my graceful Aunt and Uncle’s for a few days), Switzerland (after the sudden drop in monetary funds I realized this was probably not the best place to go- so I thought ‘hey! Maybe I’ll make a spontaneous trip to Morocco!’ No. Even the freaking hostels in MOROCCO are around 25 bucks a night. UNBELIEVABLE), and finally down to Italy to meet my family. Even the cost of the trains to these places (which are the cheapest option) are insane. I am so lucky to be traveling through Europe- but one I question if I’ll have the opportunity to ever walk through again. Sometimes, it sucks to be an economy that is way better than yours.
While it’s been a humbling experience, it’s also been a learning one. For example, apparently Europe does not take traveler’s checks like every other stall does in Delhi. Therefore, I’ve been relying on the little piece of plastic we like to call debit cards, and I’ve found my bank is charging me exorbitant amounts of money for each withdrawal from an ATM. New game plan: banks sure are a hassle, but don’t charge seven dollars each for a processing fee. As for these insanely priced trains, well so far I haven’t found much of an alternative. I know that EasyJet supposedly gives good prices for air flights in Europe, but when you’re trying to travel from Paris to Interlaken, you don’t have much of an alternative other than train. If anyone has suggestions for cheaper alternatives feel free to tell me.
Regardless, I don’t let life get me down.
It is 1:51 AM and my good friend Max is snoring across from me. What a beautiful way to end England- spending the day punting (boating in a flat-bottomed boat) around gorgeous Oxford while snacking, playing guitar, and dozing off with some new friends, traveling downtown to eat at a pub (I succeeded in ordering a salad with real GREENS, which is apparently incredibly hard to find in England. Max says we lucked out because the pub we were in was styled after Applebee’s, an American chain restaurant), and watching Slumdog Millionaire (which turned out to be fairly anti-climatic after all of the hype, and had a really cheesy ending- and the fact that everyone spoke perfect English really bothered me- but still, it is a movie about India, so I still enjoyed it) while eating candy. Good times, good friends, good life.
Until France friends!
Filed under: England
On the road again…
What crazy adventures! Sometimes I don’t quite realize what a ridiculous life I have until I talk to people about it- and they go ‘Wow, what a ridiculous life you have.’ Then I realize that I need to be more fully conscious when I open my mouth- that it is very, very rare in this world for a lone 21 year old female to travel all around the world for school.
When you travel by yourself, it is very strange when you meet up with old friends again. Suddenly, you are no longer to yourself anymore. Suddenly, you have to relate all of the adventures you’ve been having. And in my case, I’ve had to do this for three days in a row- because I saw three different friends in a row. Three days, three different worlds.
World One was seeing my good friend Mae, from California, who I lived with last summer and haven’t seen in a year. We pranced around the pastures of Dartington, drank pints with friends at ‘the Castle,’ and hitched rides all around Devon. As I say, the hardest part about traveling is having to leave- and I felt quite comfortable in Devon, as if I could fit right into the school, the friends, and the way of life. It doesn’t hurt that there is a river and fields upon fields of greenery and discovery right outside the university.
World Two was seeing my wonderful friend Becky at Exeter, who was there for my Carpe Diem trip to India in the Spring of 2008. We danced all around Exeter, reminisced about our amazing trip we had, ate at a grimy Indian restaurant in honor of past experiences , and proceeded to watch Grey’s Anatomy all night long while gossiping about ex-boyfriends. Exactly what I needed.
World Three was seeing the wonderful, smart, and talented Max Minckler, who is slaving away at Oxford. We spent the day in Bath (essentially lying on patches of grass, eating lots of ice cream, and frolicking in a child’s park like we were both five again), and now I am resting in Oxford with my laundry clean, a shower under my belt, and finally a full night’s sleep. My life is, as always, beautiful, amazing, wonderful, meaningful, and interesting.
On Sunday I leave for France. Until then, friends.
Filed under: England
Take the free morning tour of Buckingham Palace and places of the Royal Family, eat fish and chips in Trafalgar Square, run over to Westminster Abbey and take a boat ride up to the Tower, jump on a bus to Picadilly Circus, jump on another bus to hang around Kensington, get off at Harrod’s department store and sample every sort of delicious food known to mankind (macaroons! truffles! mango gelatto! oysters!), hop on the tube to King’s Cross to take a picture of Platform 9 3/4 (yes, I am a Harry Potter fan), get back on the tube to Shoreditch to see the Sunday Markets at Brick Lane, and come back to the London bridge for a dinner of bangers and mash complete with a pint of Fosters.
I do traveling like no one’s business.
Filed under: England
Well, I hate to be generic here, but the majority of the people in the US that dare travel abroad go to the safe places: Europe. So, let’s safely assume that most of the people reading this have been to London, or have heard many things about London. What I am trying to do therefore, is tackle London from a different perspective- to give you that sense of the ‘road less traveled on’ or some differing perspective of what London holds.
Well, unfortunately I did not travel off the beaten path by any sort today, though I seriously tried. Actually, I accidentally saw all of the ‘best parts of London’ (the most touristy parts). My hostel is situated by the London Bridge. Actually, my hostel is basically a pub, which is pretty tight. Anyway, after spending the past day in FOUR different airports, I somehow miraculously skipped the major jet lag I should have felt, and decided to walk around for a bit and get lost. I ended up crossing the bridge, randomly getting on a double decker bus, and ended up spending the whole afternoon checking out the major sight seeing attractions of London. I crossed and recrossed all of the major bridges over the Thames River, saw Buckingham Palace, Westminister Abbey, Shakespeare’s Globe, Picadilly Circus, stumbled into China Town, ate lunch in Trafalgar Square (where a protest was going on for Palestine- super interesting to check out), etc. etc. I even glimpsed London School of Economics!! (my dream for graduate school.) So while I tried to see the ‘authentic’ part of London, I ended up getting glimpses of all the main attractions- and it was totally worth it.
The wonderful thing about London, the city, is how EASILY accessible everything is. I had no problem making my way from the Heathrow airport to London Bridge, and I had no map or inclination of how to get there (the London tube is a lifesaver. An hour and a half of traveling for 4 pounds). There are countless buses, subways, and the London Underground to get you to wherever you need to go (for reasonably cheap… at least in Europe anyway). Sometimes when I’m in a random city, like Yerevan, I like to just go wandering down alleyways to see where I’ll end up. Many times I end up in the middle of nowhere, and I turn around frustrated. Well, this is not the case with London. There are a million cool things at every turn. I feel like I could spend every day for a month just exploring this city and I STILL wouldn’t know even half of it.
And the bookstores! The food! The ACCENTS! Nothing is better than coming to a new country and seeing signs printed in ENGLISH, restaurant menus in ENGLISH, hearing people only speak the mother tongue– the relief of asking someone a question and knowing that they HAVE to answer you and can’t play dumb because they speak your language and you know it.
One thing that’s really hit me upon immediate arrival, however, is that while these people still speak English, and wear similar clothes, and eat similar foods- this is still a COMPLETELY different culture than America. I made the mistake a few times today of assuming that English people would respond in the same ways I expect Americans to act. Number one rule I learned today: the English people hate it when you waste their time. Number two rule I learned today: for some reason, every single male I’ve met has been extremely disgruntled and rude, while every female has been charming and helpful. Am I being a bit stereotypical? No, truthfully, EVERY one.
Well friends, so far Brittany gives London a huge thumbs up. Tomorrow I plan to go on a FREE walking tour, a FREE river cruise, and hit up some heavily discounted restaurants (being a student is grand, though coming from a developing country to a modern one and having to pay 10 times the amount for something you did yesterday is a bit depressing). I’m sorry I keep saying this, but I always must aknowledge: I have such an amazing life.
Love you guys,