Quick Pics #7

Image (Thanks to free tickets that one of my friends, Risi, got from her internship, we all got to go to Christ at Kew Gardens. There are quite a few of these Christmas lights events going on in London at the moment. Kew Gardens is a relatively new one. The gardens themselves are really beautiful, but they are pretty far outside of London. Plus, the tubes that night were having massive problems, so it took us two hours to get there and two hours to get back. Still, the lights at Kew were really pretty. We arrived too late to see much of the Christmas aspect, but there were actors performing around us and lots of lanterns and pretty lights. Plus, I got to try mulled wine for the first time, a Christmas treat in London. I really enjoyed it and the area was beautiful.)

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(Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park is another one of the massive Christmas celebrations being put up in London right now, and probably the most popular. I loved it! It’s a huge Christmas village/fairground in the middle of Hyde Park that’s free to get in to. The events inside, however, require tickets. A few friends and I got tickets to go ice skating there! It was the first time many of them had been ice skating, and the first time I’d been ice skating on an outside rink. There was live music being performed while we skated and a huge tree with lots of lights decorating the rink. It really was magical. Afterward, I got hot chocolate as we all walked around the Christmas village together, looking at all of the food, lights, rides, and gifts. I definitely want to go back.)

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(My friend Ryan and I visited St. Paul’s after class on Wednesday. The interior and the dome are really pretty, but the main attraction was climbing a whopping 590 stairs to the top of the outside dome. This gave a breathtaking view of London, the best I’ve seen so far! Of course, our breath was already pretty taken from all of the stairs, but it was definitely worth it.)

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(As I described in a previous post, we had Thanksgiving at Winston House with our coordinators, professors, and friends. There were a ton of people and a ton of food! This included appetizers, wine, 3 turkeys, tons of side dishes like my corn casserole, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, etc. plus slightly more unusual dishes. A friend of mine, Loretta, made Coca Cola chicken wings, and they were delicious! And of course, there were multitudes of desserts (or puddings, as they are called here in England!). Finally, we ended the night with a movie, and exchanged Secret Santa gifts. A few weeks ago I decided to organize the gift exchange because I thought I would be a nice gesture, and everyone seemed to really enjoy giving each other London souvenirs at the end of the program. This is me and my favorite professor, my English professor Laurence Scott.)

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(Ryan and I went to Hampstead Heath and Parliament Hill. Hampstead Heath is a neighborhood that is really well off in London. It’s close enough to just be a short tube ride away from the center of the city, but far enough away that it has a suburban, small town feeling. It also has lots of beautiful parks and large houses, making it popular with celebrities. Benedict Cumberbatch is known to go running in the park here, which may or may not have been why I went. Unfortunately I didn’t see him, but it was worth a trip regardless. Hampstead Heath park was beautiful and huge, as well as less manicured than the royal parks like Hyde and St. James’s in the city. Also Parliament Hill is at the center, which is a grassy hilltop that offers a terrific view of the city of London and Westminster from a distance. It was a really nice thing to do near the end of the program and I loved the view!)

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(I went to Abbey Road, where some friends and I recreated the famous Beatles album cover as best we could. It’s actually a very busy street so proved pretty difficult but we did it! Also we saw the Abbey Road recording studio, where people have signed their names on the wall out front in memory of the Beatles.)

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(I finally made it to Westminster Abbey. With a really beautiful gothic exterior, this is the coronation place of all of England’s kings and queens. It was really lovely.)

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(I made a daytrip to Hampton Court Palace. This was the favorite palace of Henry VIII and really cool to see! Plus it had a beautiful view of the Thames.)

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(I went to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. It was a little like a military parade with a band and lots of marching, but it was fun to see and free! If you ever go, get there early; it gets very crowded! Afterward, the military band played the James Bond theme and one of the policeman’s horses started to march in step the music. It was pretty cute.)

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(It was really hard to say goodbye to London when I left for Dublin. I will be back for one short night on the 9th before leaving from Heathrow on the 10th, but this was really my goodbye, not only to the city but also to my program. It was hard to say goodbye to my professors, particularly the British ones like Kathy (Art) and Laurence (English) who I probably won’t see again. It was also hard to say good bye to Erin and Stephanie, the two coordinators at the Winston House who were like surrogate moths for all of us while we were here. It was hard to say good bye to my internship, and all of the people who worked there. Finally it was really hard to say goodbye to all of the great friends I made on this trip. The good news is most of them will be back at UNC with me (I’m even taking a class with my friend Walker), but some of them are seniors and graduating this semester, meaning I probably won’t see them again. One of them is studying abroad again next semester, and another doesn’t even go to UNC. Saying goodbye to all of these people and this place that I’ve grown so used to was really hard, but it was a fantastic program, and hopefully I can focus on the great memories we made as opposed to the fact that this is an ending.)

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