Borough Market

Borough Market is one of the oldest and most renowned markets in all of London. You can find fresh produce, meats, freshly caught seafood and specialty foods all for pretty decent prices. They have everything from beer cheese (yes, you read that correctly) to fresh loaves of bread and tasty dessert items. If you’re a true foodie like me, this is absolute heaven!

Food vendors are located in the back of the market and this is where you can buy ready made lunchtime meals like curry, pad thai and falafel! It’s definitely a very diverse food selection, with options from all over the world!
Although it can get a bit crazy to the point where you have to push and shove to grab the last loaf of sourdough bread on the weekends, it’s definitely a sight to see! I suggest any tourists looking for tasty, yet decently priced meals to check out the food vendors for lunch time and if you’re looking for high end produce and specialty meats to get there a little early so you can pick your favorites!
My friends and I ventured off to the famous Borough Market on a Saturday so to say it was crowded is an understatement! It was definitely a struggle to check out all the different food options since this market is very popular with both tourists and locals. I opted for the cauliflower curry for my lunchtime meal which smelled and looked absolutely delicious! I got it for a pretty decent price as well! My friends decided to get pad thai, soup and falafel which they all said were pretty tasty as well. The food vendors cook the food right in front of you and there are so many options to choose from so making a decision can be so difficult! After we all stuffed our faces, we wandered into the produce/meat/specialty foods section where I checked out a cheese stand! It turns out the cheese is actually fermented with wine or beer which I found to be quite interesting! I was really craving sourdough bread so I decided to buy a loaf from one of the stands and it was decently cheap for the amount that I got! My friends and I also bough freshly squeezed juice as well as some avocados and other various food items.
The market tends to be open all week, but the full market is open from Wednesday to Saturday and is closed on Sunday! If you ever plan on visiting London and decide to come to borough market (which I highly suggest because it is an experience!) I would opt to go on one of the weekdays rather than on the Saturday if you want to avoid the heavy crowds!

Bonfire Night and Oxford Circus

Remember..remember..the fifth of November! Bonfire night is a British holiday dating all the way back to the year 1605 when Guy Fawkes plotted to blow up parliament. Fortunately, he was caught (and he suffered pretty gruesome punishments..yikes) and to this day, people all over England celebrate with fireworks, food and bonfires!

I was very excited to celebrate Bonfire night since it’s not commonly celebrated in the United States, so it would be unique to my study abroad experience! My friend and I ventured off to Blackheath where fireworks and a carnival would take place to celebrate Bonfire night. It took us a little while to get there and it was a lot colder out that we expected it to be, so we decided to pick up some hot chocolate while at the carnival. There were a bunch of food vendors that sold everything from thai cuisine to hamburgers. I decided to play it safe and grab a chicken burger and some french fries since I was pretty hungry. My friend and I also picked up some cider to celebrate, since the cider here is pretty darn tasty! We plopped down onto some grass in a big field to eat while we waited for the fireworks to start. It felt like it took forever for the fireworks to begin and we were both freezing since both of us had only worn light cardigans and scarves ( that was a big mistake!!).  The fireworks didn’t last for too long, but it was a nice display and I’m glad that I got to experience Bonfire Night while being abroad! If you ever come to the United Kingdom during the fall season, I hope that you’ll be able to experience this very unique holiday!

The day after bonfire night, the Oxford Christmas lights were going to be turned on! All of my friends and I were so excited to experience the Christmas cheer here in England so we all decided to go to Oxford circus to see the christmas lights! When we finally arrived at oxford street, it was extremely crowded to the point where it was difficult to even move an inch. Apparently, there was a free concert going on in oxford circus to celebrate the Christmas season beginning (which my friends and I were unaware of)! We decided to grab a bite to eat in hopes the crowd would die down a little so we could walk around and enjoy the Christmas decor. We decided to go to a quaint little pho restaurant in Oxford circus as I had never had pho before! I opted for the chicken pho, and it was actually quite tasty! After our meal, we headed out only to get stuck in a huge crowd again! We saw a Starbucks nearby and just had to see if they had their christmas drinks out yet, which to our surprise, they did! I decided to get a toffee nut latte and  some of my friends decided to try the eggnog latte and the gingerbread latte! We even picked up some seasonal desserts as well! Finally the crowd had died down so we walked around oxford street and admired the beautiful christmas lights. After admiring all the holiday decorations, we headed back to our university since we all had class the next morning! I really did enjoy going to see the christmas lights but I wish that I had gone later in the week so I could have avoided the crowds!

Cheers 🙂

Afternoon Tea at Sketch

While my family was adventuring around London with me, we decided to get afternoon tea! Afternoon tea or high tea is a huge tradition for British people but it’s usually seen as a luxury nowadays.  Many people save it for birthdays, holidays or other special occasions since it can be pricy and usually people just don’t have the time. It’s said to have started when Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, would complain of having an empty stomach between breakfast and dinner.  She started afternoon tea because she would get really hungry around the afternoon time because her breakfast was so early and her dinner was usually around 8pm. Traditional afternoon tea consists of dainty finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and of course tea.

My sister, mother and I booked our reservation for The Sketch, a very modern,quirky afternoon tea spot. I was super excited to have afternoon tea, after hearing so much about cucumber sandwiches and tea time for so long and I really wasn’t even sure what to expect. After entering Sketch, I was amazed at how pink the dining room really was. The sofas and walls were all pink and the walls were plastered with modern art created by David Shrigley. The art was very quirky but I really enjoy modern art so I appreciated the whole set up of Sketch.

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The waiter came over, greeted us and handed us these cute little menus with all different kinds of tea. My mother decided to have earl grey tea, I opted for the chai and my sister got vanilla. After the server brought all of our teas over, he carried over a huge platter filled to the brim with little sandwiches and desserts. He then began to explain what everything was. There was everything from the classic cucumber sandwiches to quail egg and caviar sandwiches! I got to say, I loved my chai tea, and I tried my mother’s and sister’s teas as well and they were both delicious! I have to say, I really found the dishes and cups to be entertaining and fun. The cups and plates all had interesting doodles and designs on them. The sandwiches were very interesting! I really enjoyed some of them, and I tried to be daring and try all the different kinds of sandwiches (my mom and sister were less daring and stuck to the sandwiches with no quails egg or caviar haha). I have to admit, I am not a fan of fish eggs or caviar! I took one bite of the salmon and fish egg sandwich and my sister said my face shriveled up like a prune!! My sister and mother thought it was hilarious though and gave me credit for at least trying all the different sandwiches! We all really enjoyed the pastries a lot more than the sandwiches and we basically scarfed down all of them. Surprisingly, after only eating dainty little desserts and finger sandwiches we were all quite full! The server then brought over some scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam! They were still warm and really tasty, especially with the clotted cream and jam! After all that food we were all stuffed, but I really enjoyed getting afternoon tea. Although it was a little pricy, I feel like it’s worth doing at least once while here in London. It’s nice to just get tea and relax and chit chat with some people and experience something that has been going on for centuries!

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After finishing up with our tea, my sister and I headed to the bathroom to wash our hands and we felt like we walked into an alien habitat!! The bathrooms were so cool yet so strange. The toilets were in little private pods and there were rainbow lights! It was such an odd bathroom but really cool to experience. Although Sketch isn’t as much of a traditional afternoon tea spot and it’s more of a modern restaurant to get afternoon tea, it was really cool and it’s definitely a very lively, artistic place to visit!14923963_10205766024750364_294281105_o14881470_10205766024310353_1988592921_o

Cheers 🙂

 

Exploring London with the Family :)

Last weekend I spent in Amsterdam, which I will be sure to post about soon but something even more exciting has happened! My family flew all the way from Boston to come see me here in London. This is the first time I’ve seen any of them in roughly six or so weeks so it was nice to be able to reconnect with them and talk about all the adventures I’ve been on so far.

My family and I have done the typical tourist attractions so far, such as riding on the London Eye, taking a windy boat cruise on the Thames and seeing Stonehenge and Bath (which was a very long bus ride might I add!).

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We ventured around Westminster on the first day and hung around Big Ben just to hear it ring right at noontime.  My dad, being an engineer, was amazed at the design and architecture of Big Ben.  My sister and mother were simply astounded at how large the clock tower really is. Not long after, we boarded a boat to ride along the Thames and although it was quite windy, we really enjoyed seeing all the attractions and sights of London.  We got off the boat tour in Greenwich, which is where the prime meridian is. The prime meridian is defined as the the zero of longitude. It is the basis for standard time zones and many people say that Greenwich is where time begins and ends because of this. It’s known for the famous observatory, although we unfortunately didn’t have time to check it out. We walked around Greenwich and ate at a little pub called The Gipsy Moth where my family and I ate the famous British cuisine, fish and chips!  After some exploration around Greenwich, it was time to head back to Westminster so we boarded the boat cruise yet again and we were on our way to the London Eye!

The attraction I was the most excited to do was to ride on the London Eye, so getting the opportunity to do so with my family was a wish come true! We went on it right around twilight, so the whole city was lit up and it was really ethereal. I really recommend riding the London Eye if you ever get the chance. I would go right around sunset or twilight because it’s truly an amazing experience to see so much of the beautiful city all at once.

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After a long and productive day, we headed back to our flat which is very close to a huge mall filled with restaurants, clothing stores and little shops. We were all pretty hungry so we decided to get dinner at this restaurant called Carluccio’s located in the mall itself. It was a very interesting and quaint little Italian restaurant but the food was pretty delicious and much needed after a long day. My mother and I both got Ravioli al Limone which I found to be very tasty and my sister got truffled macaroni and cheese which hit the spot for her. After filling our bellies, we were all ready to head back to the flat in order to get a good night sleep. We were off to Stonehenge and bath the following day and needed to get up early!

Windsor CastleStonehenge!

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Visiting Stonehenge and Bath was incredibly amazing but the bus ride, I must say, was quite a nightmare. My sister and I got stuck behind an older gentleman who snored extremely loudly during the entire duration of our journey! Although it was pretty amusing and my sister and I giggled about it, it was hard to rest on the bus ride (and mind you, it was a three hour bus ride to Bath). I also want to add, that although the bus ride wasn’t all that pleasant, seeing Windsor Castle, Stonehenge and Bath was totally worth it. If you’re ever exploring London, I highly recommend going to see all these attractions, especially Stonehenge! It’s quite amazing that it’s over 4,000 years old and that it was created before we had cranes, tractors or anything of the such to move rocks that weigh over twenty tons!! A lot of people believe it was magic, or that giants or aliens created Stonehenge. It’s interesting to hear all the folklore behind Stonehenge and how so little is still known about one of the medieval wonders of the world. Stonehenge! :)

Overall, I’m so excited that my family is here to explore and fall in love with London with me! They’re here for another couple of days and I hope to experience afternoon tea, explore soho and Chinatown and continue to get lost on the tube. 😉

 

Various Copenhagen Pictures

Picture of the famous landmark, The Little Mermaid! It's so much smaller up close!

Picture of the famous landmark, The Little Mermaid! It’s so much smaller up close!

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The delicious cappuccinos and croissants we had at this little coffee shop in Copenhagen!

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A picture of me really enjoying that cappuccino 🙂

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Picture of Frederik’s Church!

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A picture of me standing in Amalienborg!

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Standing with a soldier who I was a tiny bit scared of, as you can tell because I’m standing so far away from him! 😉

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Riding bikes is a huge thing in Denmark! They’re really efficient and even come with a gps system! I highly recommend renting a bike if you ever decide to check out Copenhagen.

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A picture of Rudetaarn, although I didn’t end up walking all the way to the top, I’ve heard the views are amazing!

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Rosenborg Castle!

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Copenhagen Contemporary! Yoko Ono’s art exhibit of the wishing trees!

Nyhavn Pictures

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This is just a picture I took while in the famous harborside, Nyhavn! We walked along the harbor just as the sun was setting!

This is just a picture I took while in the famous harborside, Nyhavn! We walked along the harbor just as the sun was setting!

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Here’s’ a picture of me enjoying the view, although as you can imagine, I was pretty chilly with the harbor breeze going right through my light sweater!

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Here’s a picture of some of the restaurants and buildings in Nyhavn.

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A famous restaurant alongside the harbor! Kind of pricey but if you’re willing to spend the money I’ve heard it’s very worth it!

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Another picture of the harbor as the sun was setting! It was so beautiful there!

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Some of the colorful buildings in Nyhavn.

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Wishing I could live in this little pink building! I love how vibrant and colorful the buildings were along the harbor!

Copenhagen

This past weekend I made my very first excursion outside of the UK and it was amazing! My two friends and I ventured off to the very lovely, but very chilly Copenhagen, Denmark! I got to say, if you ever study abroad, going to Denmark is a really wonderful and beautiful place to travel to and all the locals are so friendly and helpful!

Our adventure first started with us taking public transportation all the way to Luton Airport, which is a trek for us because we live all the way in Roehampton! It took us roughly two hours to travel all the way to the airport and by the time we got there we were all so exhausted. We loaded up on coffee and tons of sugar before our plane took off. All three of us snoozed on the airplane, even though the flight itself was actually only an hour and a half which wasn’t bad at all!

Finally!! We arrived at Copenhagen Airport and all three of us were filled with excitement to venture off and discover Denmark. After getting out of the airport and buying three day passes to use the metro, we headed towards where we planned on staying for the next couple of days. We actually rented an airbnb for relatively cheap and it was decently close to central Copenhagen. Our host, Per, was very polite, helpful and welcoming. Per gave us recommendations of where to go, and what to try in Denmark and after putting all our things in our room, we took off to central to explore!

The first place we just had to go to was the famous harborside in Copenhagen, Nyhavn! It was just as beautiful as it is in pictures but oh man, the breeze coming right off the water sent chills down my spine! We walked along the harbor and took some pictures of the vibrant houses as the sun was setting in the background. If you ever visit Denmark, I highly suggest going to Nyhavn because it’s so breathtaking and the restaurants along the harbor are so quaint and lovely. The unfortunate part is that the restaurants can be a bit pricy for a college student, so we walked a little further into the city and away from the harbor to see if we could find any food for a bit cheaper.  We ended up at this quirky burger place called Hot Buns. It was a very interesting place with a very unique atmosphere but I gotta say, their food is pretty delicious. I got a chicken burger and french fries with some aioli sauce and it totally hit the spot after a long day of traveling and walking around.  I would recommend going here if you’re looking for a hearty burger and some really good fries, but if you’re looking for authentic danish cuisine, I would recommend going to a place like Nyhavn 17 or other restaurants along the harbor.

After a late dinner, we decided to get some dessert at a little waffle house in Nyhavn. I picked up a delicious waffle covered in milk chocolate and my friend got some ice cream in a waffle cone. What was cool about the shop was that you could watch the employee make the waffles and waffle cones which I found fascinating. I chowed down on my waffle, and after a long day we all decided to head back so we could get a good night’s sleep as we had a long day of sightseeing ahead of us the next day.

Rise and Shine! All three of us woke up super early so we could explore Denmark since we only had a couple of days and we wanted to make the most of it. I was so sleepy, so I downed a redbull and then we were off to explore more of Copenhagen! The first landmark we just had to see was the famous Little Mermaid Statue! Surprisingly, it was a lot smaller than I would have thought! My friend and I had to fight our way through tourists to get a glimpse and a few pictures of it, but it was worth it to see the famous landmark. One of the girls I went with on this trip was on crutches so she rented a bike (which is a BIG thing in Denmark and if you ever go, I highly suggest renting a bike because it makes traveling a lot easier) and my other friend and I walked to the next famous landmark, Frederik’s Church! The architecture was so beautiful and the inside was even more stunning. It’s very close to other landmarks so even if you wanted to quickly stop by and take a few pictures, I would recommend doing so!

After a quick stop at Frederik’s Church we headed off to a few other important landmarks such as the Amalienborg Palace which is home to the royal Danish family! We got to see the guards marching about and I got to take some funny pictures with one of the guards. I was too scared to stand too close to him, it’s safe to say I was a little intimidated! We stopped by a cute little coffee shop and grabbed some cappuccinos and croissants which were delicious by the way! I road on the back of my friends bike for a little while and many of the locals were laughing or staring at us weirdly! After we went back home for the night which was much later on, we realized it’s actually illegal to hold on to another person’s bike and we could have gotten fined…oops! It’s safe to say we never did that again! After that we checked out some of the other famous landmarks such as Rosenborg Castle and Rundetaarn!

After all that walking we were a bit hungry so we headed off the Papirøen or Paper Island which is known for their variety of street food and the buzzing atmosphere that you just can’t pass up. Papirøen had everything from chinese cuisine, to crepes so you could pretty much get anything you were craving. It was very crowded but so worth it! After grabbing a quick bite, we explored a little more and discovered Yoko Ono’s wish garden at the Copenhagen Contemporary. We each wrote a wish and tied it to a tree. I really enjoyed the wish garden and reading other people’s wishes and feeling that some felt so relevant to my life as well. It was also nice to see how some people wished for happiness, while others just wished for simple things or materialistic things and some wishes were deep and heartfelt. After placing our wishes on the trees, we stopped by a little coffee shop and picked up some hot chocolate since it was a little chilly outside! The hot chocolate was amazing and while in the shop I left a little message in the window saying “Hello from USA” just so others could see it and think about how far we’ve come from our homes and maybe add on and write where they’re from.

After Paper Island, we went to these trampolines that are on the sidewalks in Copenhagen! They were so much fun to bounce on. I went a little too extreme and tried to bounce on all of them without touching the center and ended up falling but it was totally worth it. Even my friend on crutches went on the trampolines and had a blast!  Overall it was a really successful day and I feel like I really got to experience and see a lot of Denmark!

The next morning was a bittersweet day because it was my last day in Denmark. I really enjoyed Denmark and all of the danish people who are so friendly and carefree but to be honest, I was excited to head back to London, the place I’ve called my home for about a month now. Right before I left, I picked up a couple souvenirs such as pins, some patches and postcards and then I was off back to London!

Studying abroad has been such an adventure so far and I feel like I’ve learned so much about other cultures and about the world. If you ever decide to study abroad, I highly suggest making a couple trips to other countries or places nearby and experiencing their culture and livelihood. I feel like it not only teaches you about the world but it also teaches you about yourself and about your own culture.

 

Cheers 🙂

 

 

Camden Town

Camden MarketStreet Vendors

If you’ve ever been to London and have yet to check out Camden Town, I have to say you’re missing out on quite the adventure. Camden Town is filled with eccentric little shops, vintage clothing and loads of hand crafted jewelry. The shop owners of Camden aren’t against people trying to barter with them, so if you ever go, try it out! You’d be surprised that you might actually like bartering! There’s heaps of unique food shops so you’re likely to find something that interests your taste buds! Going to Camden Town during the day is your best bet and you get to experience the quirkiness that is Camden Town!
What made me fall in love with Camden Town is that it’s such a diverse place, filled with so many different cultures. From the little street vendors selling everything from Indian cuisine to cereal in a bowl, there’s just so much to offer in Camden. What I really enjoyed were the vintage shops, that sold everything from ugly sweaters to old chunky boots. The shop owners love to barter with the customers as well! My friend and I bartered with the shop owner for a dress and she ended up getting a great deal on it! My friends and I picked up a few snacks from the street vendors, but if you aren’t feeling eating from a food truck, there are so many pubs and restaurants such as Gilgamesh, Poppies or Princess of Wales. It was fun to walk around and explore all the different shops that sold everything from art, to vintage cameras and even kitschy London memorabilia. While I was there, I went to a little coffee shop called Yum Cha where I picked up my very first matcha latte and it was delicious! My friends snacked on a thai food burrito and some fresh made smoothies they picked up from the various food vendors.

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If I get the opportunity, I would love to venture back out to Camden Town for it’s vintage goods, diverse food and the Camden Lock Market. If you ever plan on traveling to London, Camden Town is a must see place!

Cheers! 🙂

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Welcome!

Follow this Fall 2016’s Office of Study Abroad & International Experiences Global Correspondent, Kayla Parker, on her studies in London! Kayla is a UMass Lowell Criminal Justice and Psychology major studying this fall on a UMass Lowell partner-led study abroad program, CISabroad (CIS): The London Semester at the University of Roehampton.Kayla is a UMass Lowell Criminal Justice and Psychology major studying this fall on a UMass Lowell partner-led study abroad program, CISabroad (CIS): The London Semester at the University of Roehampton.Kayla Parker is a UMass Lowell Criminal Justice and Psychology major studying this fall on a UMass Lowell partner-led study abroad program, CISabroad (CIS): The London Semester at the University of Roehampton.

Kayla Parker is a UMass Lowell Criminal Justice and Psychology major studying this fall on a UMass Lowell partner-led study abroad program, CISabroad (CIS): The London Semester at the University of Roehampton.