Sunday, January 29, 2012

Campus, Picadilly & Camden Town

American Junk Food Overload!
This past week was crazy fun! Classes went as usual, and for the most part the things we're learning in my biology courses are review from things I've learned over the past few years about natural selection, selective pressures for evolution, and cognitive development. My mom sent a huge package of American junk food items (like Twinkies, Reese's, Nerds, Cheetos (regular and flaming hot), Cracker Jacks, and more) and my British flatmates tried them all as I filmed their reactions. It was hilarious! I will upload that on my second channel (EverydayTheRitaWay) when I get the chance. Throughout the end of the week we basically went out to quite a few different pubs and hangouts throughout London and had a blast. On Wednesday we went to this party our campus was holding for the athletic teams and it was actually pretty fun and very crowded. There were some interesting interactions with this annoying guy who got pretty aggressive after my friend declined his advances. He was annoying!
At Dublin's Castle in Camden

At Campus Bar (I did 2 of my friend's makeup this night!)
Before going to Picadilly Circus for the night
At Camden in my new leather jacket
I went back to the mall twice this week and got a really cute brown leather jacket from Zara for £40 and some other things here and there. I need to do a haul video eventually but it's difficult filming here as I'm pretty busy endlessly and my mouse is broken on my laptop and editing is more difficult because of that.

At Camden! Most of the group at Dublin's Castle
We went out to the Picadilly area and went to a pub called O'Neills and another place called Tiger Tiger. We ended up meeting this group of guys from Dublin who gave me recommendations for places to go when I go there for St. Patrick's Day in March. This random guy at O'Neills was Brazilian and I got to practice my Portuguese a bit which was cool.

Then on Saturday night we went to Camden, which is such a cool place! I still think it's one of my favorite areas in London for sure. We went to a few pubs there-- one being a place where Amy Winehouse used to frequent! (as she was a Camden resident). It was pretty cool. The second place we went to was called Dublin's Castle and it was very indie/hipster-y sort of vibe, but we actually had a blast. We were probably the youngest people there and it was predominately English people I think. The group I went with was mixed about half and half of Americans and Brits so it was pretty fun. The music they played was definitely more alternative, they played stuff by Gorillaz and Bloc Party (two bands I like a lot) and then some random stuff like Salt N Peppa "Push It" (insert an LOL here). We had a blast just jumping up and down to the music and just hanging out with us girls.

On Sunday (today!) I went to China Town as there was a lot of celebration and festivities going on for Chinese New Year. My flatmate and I met up with my friend Alex (who I've known since our middle school years) along with her sister and some of her friends. We walked around the huge crowds and saw a performer dressed underneath the dragon costume and tons of kiosks selling trinkets and little figurines. We ate at a restaurant there and then headed back home afterwards.
At Tiger Tiger in Picadilly
On Barclay bikes (random guy yelled for us to pedal faster haha)
At the tube stop
In Camden! Funny picture time
Before Picadilly! (friends photo-bombed it in the back)
Amy Winehouse's signature at the pub in Camden
Beatboxer on the street in Camden
In Camden Town!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend Trip to Brighton!

The pier! Very pretty skyline
This past weekend I went to Brighton with my friend Lisa for the weekend. We were visiting her friend from home and a few other girls who we met when they came to London a few weeks ago. We had to take the tube to the train station and take the train from London to Brighton, which was about an hour long ride. Brighton was a pretty cool town! It's known for being a beach-town with a lot of nightlife and a large gay community. After we arrived we walked around the pier and shopped in The Lanes (an outside shopping area of really small lanes that interconnect and are sprinkled with shops here and there) and we also stopped by the mall and a few other shops that were on the streets of downtown. We also went by the Brighton Museum and saw the dome building (I forget the name at the moment- but it's really pretty). For lunch, we dined at a pub called Pavilion Tavern, which was pretty inexpensive.

After shopping and sightseeing, we were all pretty tired and napped at their flat. We had to lug our backpacks around with us as we shopped all day so our backs and legs were killing us- Brighton is pretty hilly and winding; it looks a bit like San Francisco or maybe Providence, Rhode Island. Once we woke up, we all got dressed and went out to a club near the beach. Brighton is known for its nightlife and we had a pretty fun time, though the music was a bit redundant (house music the entire night gets old, in my humble opinion).

The following day (our last day), we walked around the campus of the University of Sussex and just outside of it in the English countryside and rolling hills (I believe the area is called Stanmer Park). It was so beautiful and very quaint. We saw cows and sheep and a lot of families play with their dogs in the open areas. After that, we grabbed a bite at a very cute and very English teahouse that was in the middle of the trail (I got traditional English tea with cream and a scone with jam). After that, we walked to Falmer and saw a pond and a ton of cute little houses made of flint that look like they have been their for ages. In order to get there, we had to sort of hike through a wooded area, and in Brighton there is a ton of flint rock and chalk (which comes from marine skeletal deposits). Brighton has a lot of sites where dinosaurs and archaic stone tools have been found, which is pretty remarkable; the earliest described dinosaur remains were found there! I took a piece of eroded flint and a rock of chalk with me as a keepsake from the woods. Also, apparently there's a hill in Stanmer that Winnie the Pooh was supposed to have lived on in the stories!

I enjoyed getting out of London for a weekend just to see what other parts of England are like, but I have to say I am a London girl at heart. I was excited to come back to the more bustling area of the city after our trip.
At tea
Tired looking cows
Domed building in Brighton
Very old cemetary at a church in Stanmer
English teahouse
Fruit scone with strawberry jam and English tea
A bit of scenery
A goose! (I don't see this kind in the US a lot, mostly Canadian geese)
Some kind of nauseating looking candy "sugar mice"
I wrote my name with chalk on a tree!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Natural History Museum & College Night

With a wolverine at Natural History Museum
For one of my courses we had a practical where we had to go to the Natural History Museum and complete a series of questions. The museum was pretty nice but sort of weird as there are a ton of taxidermy animals. It's sort of eerie when you think about it, but it was interesting. It was sort of stressful finishing the assignment because it was so busy there with the visitors and with the bulk of the class there trying to all get the right answers. I'd like to go back to check out the human evolution exhibit more because I didn't get to browse as much as I would have liked to or as much as I would have if I were visiting on my own without the assignment.

Before going out
My new homage-to-Britain nails!
Monday night me, my flatmates, and some of my other friends all went to a club in the Picadilly Circus area on college night. It was so packed - I've never gone to an actual club before. There were like three floors or so and different parts of it had themed music (like a 90s room, top 40 room, alternative, etc.). The bathroom attendant lady sang her own version of Rihanna's "What's My Name" and substituted the lyrics with "ooh na na, wash your hands;" it was quite a sight. Overall the night was a lot of fun but getting back to campus was so tedious. The Underground (subway system) closes at midnight in London so you have to bus late at night and the bus stop was pretty far from where we were. My feet were killing me! I will have to have a pair of flats with me whenever we go out in central from now on.
In the Underground
Underneath the wondrous cape (my friend's dress had one large sleeve)
Yay! =)

Westfield & Camden

Thai food from Rosa's at Westfield
Westfield Stratford mall is the best mall I've ever been to, actually. It is gigantic and there's so much to see and do! There are several full restaurants, cheaper food court options, expensive food court options (with actual cutlery and plates, etc.) and tons of food kiosks and vendors. The stores are insanely huge and have had some amazing sales as of late with it being after Christmas sales season. I spent the entire day there with one of my flatmates and I barely saw everything. There's a movie theater, a casino, a food market and I'm sure I'm missing more. It's insane.

Camden Market. LOVED everything about this place. It was seriously the best market I've gone to so far (ever actually). First off, it's literally huge. I can't believe how big this place is - there are different names for each sect of the market and we were there all day and still didn't see everything. The area has a lot of tattoo and piercing shops which is sort of fun and very typical punk/London-y. We ate at a pub that was right in the midst of the main street and all got fish and chips (of course!). After we browsed the markets for even longer, we decided to figure out how to get to where Amy Winehouse's flat was, as she lived in Camden. I'm a huge Amy fan as many of you may know, so it was really cool and sad at the same time to see where she lived. There were flowers and tons of letters and signatures on trees right across from where she used to live, which was really sweet and of course saddening. After that we headed back to campus and called it a night. That's all for now - thanks for reading!
Lebanese sweets at Westfield
Spices at Westfield
Part of Camden Market
Souvenirs at Camden
Me and a friend at the pub

At Camden with statue
At Camden - horses!
Amy Winehouse's flat

Winehouse memorial at her flat
More memorial items
Her flat from afar
Camden Square