Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Studying Abroad: The Last 2 Weeks

I WISH THIS WASN'T THE END! But I am also very excited to head back to Massachusetts, so this is a very bittersweet time for me.
If you're new here and want to read about my time studying abroad, click the names to read about Month 1, Month 2, or Month 3

For the most part, the past two weeks have been full of writing final papers, studying for a final exam, packing, and watching YouTube videos in bed, but I did manage to a have a few eventful days thrown in there as well.

Thursday, April 5: Dickens Day
About a week and a half ago, a friend and I tried to have a Charles Dickens Day, but it was Monday, and the Dickens Museum was closed, so we rescheduled to today.  The day started off normal.  We went to the museum, which was very exciting to see how Charles Dickens lived and where he wrote his novels.  We hung out in the safe for a while before heading to Ye Old Cheshire Cheese, which is the Pub that Sydney Carton takes Charles Darnay after he wins his trial.  This is where things got weird.  My friend and I sat for a while, got a drink and some french fries and then decided to walk to Harrods for a sandwich because the food on the pub menu was expensive and not really our taste. As we were walking out, the bartender said something to my friend that I didn't hear as I was so focused on getting to a bathroom.  However, next thing I know we're walking past the bathroom and up to some sectioned off function room.  The bartender disappears as we're left staring at a bunch of stuff that bars collect: old photographs and accounts of funny things that happened there.  It was interesting, but I had zero idea what was going on.  So we're in a room and all of a sudden we hear the bartender say, "Don't jump, there's a story of a girl who jumped from this window because she was being chased by someone with a knife.  Kinda like the knife I was using."
HOW DOES SOMEONE RESPOND TO THAT?!?!?!?! For the record: he meant a paring knife he was using to cut lemons or something.  Awkward laughs ensued, and then we were led to another room downstairs where an eighth edition of A Tale of Two Cities was opened to the page were Carton and Darnay were in the pub.  That was actually really cool since it was the main reason we were there, but the whole situation was just so bizarre.  Finally, he shows us some weird article about a bird, named Polly, who died in a pneumonia epidemic a long time ago.  He went back down to the bar he was originally at, and we got out of there as fast as we could.  Meanwhile, I still had to go the bathroom but didn't want to in the pub, so we went to a McDonalds close by and then headed to Harrods.  One of the funniest parts was that on our way to Harrods we were talking about what just happened and talking about what we would have done if something serious happened.  As we were talking about knives, a man walking in front of us looked back, pretending to be looking down the street but he was definitely looking back to see who we were and why we were talking about being stabbed in a pub.
In the end, we decided that the bartender was probably just trying to be nice and there was no point where either of us was really scared for our safety, but the whole event was ridiculous.  We rewarded ourselves with some Harrods cake so all was well.

Friday, April 6: Golden Tours Trip
The next day was much calmer.  The same friend, a few other friends, and I had booked a Golden Tours trip way back in February to Leeds, Dover, Canterbury, and Greenwich.  We got to explore the Leeds Castle and try Mead, walk onto a beach under the cliffs of Dover, explore a cathedral in Canterbury, and take a boat ride across the river from Greenwich.  The day was so fun and filled with laughs.  The five of us were the only people who were under the age of thirty who weren't with their parents and the tour guide deemed us "The Famous Five" which made me feel like a US Olympic Gymnast.  We also all ate fish and chips while we were in Canterbury, which was a first for me and I have to admit it was pretty good.  I mean who can go wrong with fried food and ketchup?
Once the tour was over, we got ice cream and walked through Hyde Park for a little bit before heading back to our housing.

Thursday, April 12: Wimbledon & Goodbye
This morning two friends and I went to Wimbledon Tennis Museum, which I was really excited for because I played tennis in high school and I figured if you go to London you have to see Wimbledon - even if you do wait until the last possible day.  We went to the museum which ended up being a lot better than I expected.  There were interactive parts and movies and reading all of the little blurbs were really informative.  We also did a virtual reality exhibit that taught you about the history of Wimbledon and also showed you 360 views of the 2016 matches.  With our museum pass, we were able to go to center court and see where the final matches are played.  We also got to ask the worker who took us into the court a bunch of questions about how to get a ticket, which is a lottery system.  We were out there for a couple hours because Wimbledon is kinda a hike from where we're staying, but I am so glad we decided to make the trip.
Tonight was also a send-off party hosted by the school I've been studying at.  I went with a couple friends for a little while - mostly to get the free food - and it was nice to see some people one last time before leaving.

And that's it!  Friday morning I woke up and headed off to meet my mother and sister at our Airbnb that we'll be staying in for the next week.  Studying abroad has been an amazing experience that I would recommend to everyone, whether you go for a full semester or a couple weeks over the summer.

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