Dublin + Barcelona: Cuid/Parte 1

Remember that post where I fangirled about how you’re literally what you eat and if you eat an octopus, that renders you part Octopodiforme? Well, after marvelling through Dublin and dancing through Barcelona, I’ve come to report my current physiological makeup:

-Smidge of Guinness (NOT A FAN. Sorry world.)

-Pinch of Irish Breakfast (Final step of falling in love with Dublin.)

-Pint of bottled water (Barcelona’s water isn’t very good so everyone shuns the tap)

-Four cubic centimeters of pretty subpar churros and chocolate but it’s okay because that was enough to shower me with praise for greasy sweet chocolatey confections and when I meet them again someday, it’ll just be that much better.

-Scoop of tapas: Fried calamari ( ❤ and yes, that makes me part mollusk), steak tartare, tenderly braised artichoke, Iberian jamon…) As Molly from Spilled Milk might say, I believe tapas are akin in theory to “perfectly engineered food products” because they deliver optimal gustatory adventure, entertainment for your tastebuds, and variety. Everywhere else it seems we get one main plate of homogenous food with comparatively fewer flavors to transform a porcelain disc with edible stuff on it into a joyful experience. Tapas are about joy! and appreciating life! But more on that in my Barcelona post.)

If for some reason you can’t adequately create a mental image of my current appearance from that description, I suppose I’ll throw in some actual photos for you. I guess.

Speaking of, embarrassingly enough, a high proportion (in my standards) of my pictures are selfies. Because I didn’t have a travel companion to bug for snaps, I used a trick from Erica that lets you capture your background and your face in one convenient shot. Beware: This caused a few usually concealed second and third chins to come out and play. Perversely interested? Stay tuned.

Add the Barcelona Cathedral in the background and that’s pretty accurate.

All in all, I loved travelling alone. Often I’d happily lose myself in thought and introspection, which you all know is my cherished hobby. My days were incredibly spontaneous, loosely-structured, and without constant conversation that often demands a good load of energy from my introverted self (although have no doubt that I love spending time with friends!) One day I spent a good 20 minutes searching for a genuine tapas restaurant, whereas I’d probably have given in much sooner to mollify my companions’ empty stomachs and exhausted psyches. (How cool would it to be named Psyche?) Asking for a table for one was never uncomfortable, as I used the opportunity to thoroughly soak up my surroundings and have a think about my day, often journaling concurrently.Throughout the whole trip I was very happy and as I believe happy girls are the prettiest, I encountered some unexpected kindness that I attribute to my elevated attitude. Those stories will come.

And here’s a few preliminary photos to start off this whirlwind adventure!

First pic: Dublin hostel selfie

First pic: Dublin hostel selfie

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River Liffey

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2nd-to-last house is floral!

Headphones in/podcast on/life is good

Headphones in/podcast on/life is good

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Gaelic looks like a fairy tale tongue

Irish humor?

Irish humor?

Historic Irish Marriage Referendum Passed!

Historic Irish Marriage Referendum Passed!

un gato with no name but a passion for fashion

un gato with no name but a passion for fashion

BARCELONA you stunning city, you.

BARCELONA you stunning city, you.

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Fifteen Days Left to Pretend I’m European

just for kicks

Nothing groundbreaking has been happening around here lately. However, if you enjoy “right place at the right time” stories, astonishingly talented dancers, and cheeky octopi, stay tuned.

On a recent trip to the Somerset House, a space that has various art exhibits, King’s College facilities, offices, and a lively fountain in the center, I meandered into an exhibit about war. While it wasn’t very moving in my experience, I did wander in just in time to sight the artist! She was ushering around two important-looking men. Unfortunately I didn’t connect with the pieces enough to ask her questions, but it was still a cool happening nonetheless! Maggi Hambling‘s work has been featured at some pretty you-know-you’ve-made-it places like the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, the Tate, and the British Museum!

Next up is a visit to the theatre to see Billy Elliot. I went in with few expectations (little prior knowledge) and was absolutely WOWed. Jaw dropped like a piano on a splintering rope. The boy who portrayed Billy was phenomenal. The musical itself was a joy to watch, even with our necks craning from the cheap seats. We laughed, cried, and couldn’t get enough of the encore (anyone know what I mean?)

On the way there, Erica and I stumbled into a garden near Embankment and found a giant chess set!

DSCN1017 DSCN1018-001Today I took my third trip to the Borough Market in search of some slightly pricier, luxurious groceries to sustain me for my last full week in London. Splurged on some cacao nibs for this recipe and za’atar to liven up hummus and other dishes. To everyone else, a hut full of stacked spices might seem uninteresting, but it thrills me. It’s like a library of often underappreciated special touches that exist in a panoply of colors, smells, and shapes. The origins of each add a narrative aspect, and there are limitless experiments one can undertake in order to understand even one spice!

it's like a cavern of dry potions!

it’s like a cavern of dry potions!

I think I’m so drawn to markets because they seamlessly fuse biology and food, two of my favorite things. They’re an informal type of museum. Case in point: This phenome-mollusk.

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I spy a very photo-ready fish on the left.

Stay with me while I quickly freak out over the magic of octopi. Not only do they torpedo around in the water with eight arms and a pocket full of INK ready to blind predators, but we can eat them. We can actually incorporate them into US! How can you not go bananas when you realize that by heeding the phrase “you are what you eat”, by eating an octopus, you inherit some of its glory? I digress. Nay, as one very funny blogger said the other day, I digest.

Let’s have a jiffy of Octopus Appreciation.

 

 

 

a blanket octopus!

That’s about it for now. More studying (for this test, I’m doing a ton of intense thinking about the Anthropocene and naturecultures and multispecies ethnographies.. I go through cycles of soul-drenching inspiration and stupefying intimidation) and preparing for my trip to Ireland and Spain next Saturday (!) and seeing my aunt and uncle next week and getting excited to go home!

[ ]

The title of this post refers to the dominant shape of my mouth throughout my trip to Devon for Easter. It also describes how my mind felt after using the same superlatives over and over again, having exhausted my vocabulary that couldn’t measure up to my surroundings.

Devon is breathtaking. And vocabulary-stealing! Honestly, even though my days in the countryside were filled with good feeling and relaxation, I did worry a tad that I wasn’t talking enough, mostly because I couldn’t match any words to my emotions! I’m going to stop trying to explain it any further besides insisting that DEVON IS BEAUTIFUL and this trip was surprisingly introspective for me (lots of musing about various life/love/work philosophies and whether or not I’ll permit myself to snapchat again, come June), so I won’t be writing as much as I normally would.

To start, here’s a little glimpse of how my heart felt as I raced on the train across the country past thousands of old and young Artiodactyls. They dotted the emerald fields, little white and black specks. The little ones were the most fun to watch (obvi): they often clung to their parents’ sides or practiced being a sheep by burying their noses in the grass. However, the most dear thing they did was leap every which way. They way that they bounced reminded me of those feelings when you start to fall for someone that are just bursting with hope and zest for life and giddiness. Maybe they were falling in love with life? Or maybe I just wrote a really embarrassing sentence relating sheep and love? (no, that’s a definite.) Sticking with it. The world needs more unapologetically sappy sheepoets! (OMG LOOK AT THIS!!! “Quantum Sheep” is a type of poetry! Click here for some fine examples!!)

And now that I’ve taken a short tangent, here’s what I’ve been building up to this whole time: LEAPING SHEEP!

   

Facts about the trip: I stayed with a dear friend (and her husband) of my Auntie J, who live in a thatched-roof abode in mid-Devon. Retrospectively, I realize that they told me a ton of information about their lives, their choices, and by being with them, I learned a heap about having fun while balancing the weighty aspects of a full life. They were so gracious, warm, and welcoming (as was my quilt-covered bed!) Quaint, quirky, hilarious decorations filled the snug rooms and greenery poured out from the ground outside, with bluebells, daffodils, and violets reaching towards the sun.

Maybe it was just a product of my current reading material, but the setting seemed to have multiple connections to Frodo’s Shire. Yes, it was Easter, but imagine abundant gift-giving, cozy homes, dirt/gravel lanes, and generally convivial neighbors. The physical environment was very hobbit-esque too: full of green moss and arching hills.

Also worth noting that the morning I left from Paddington station, I briefly conversed with a ticket agent in pig latin. I didn’t just start speaking it or anything- he slipped out some humor and gave me the opportunity, so of course I nabbed it. Just as my dad does, I think the trigger that led to our unique little interchange was that I first greeted him and asked how he was doing. He immediately perked up and apparently greased the alternative-language-gears. So there you have it- a little friendliness goes an onglay ayway! 🙂

And now for the pictures! (Sidenote: I can’t believe the number of times I’ve referenced cats on this blog about studying abroad! I’m not even a cat person! What’s happening to me?!?)

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My hosts graciously drove me up to Dartmoor, a huge national park that inspired Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to write The Hound of the Baskervilles during his stay in what’s now the visitor’s center! Upon standing on a hill and peering out over the stark, muted landscape, I understood how a savage monster could live here. Sheep and semiwild ponies wander around. There are also remnants of ancient communities that are now mostly concurrent circles of stone.

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And now comes a confession that undermines my entire study abroad log.

I wish I had eyelashes I could so dramatically lower like hers. Just for this moment.

When I came to London with my family, I first tried clotted cream at the Crypt Cafe below St Martin in the Fields church. As I’ve previously described, it was life-changing and wonderful and yada yada. So when I booked a trip to Devon, home of the original clotted cream, I was even more excited to taste “the real thing”.

So after seeing Dartmoor, we drove through the hills in search of a proper cream tea to satisfy the lone item on my Devon bucket list. We found a cafe, I placed my order, and this lovely thing appeared:

c l o t t e d  c r e a m .

REAL   c l o t t e d   c r e a m .

Look at that dairy delight! Lactoseful luxury! Temptational topping!

It was MUCH different that what I’d had in the crypt: it was extremely thick and very subtle in taste. Therefore, it pains me to say that I named this blog after what my hosts suggested was probably a whipped type of cream that wasn’t actually clotted. But that’s okay. I still enjoyed my Devon cream tea and obvi my first cream tea, even if it was sort of fake.

Stefon and I are a lil embarrassed.

yumyumyumyum!

yumyumyumyum!

Here are some final pictures. And to end this post, some final points about my stay in Devon:

  • Birdsong abounded
  • Sunshine wasn’t always available but the blooming flowers everywhere kept it sunny
  • It was so real. As in: authentic, genuine, true.

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I might be attending a Pignic

Yes, you read that correctly. PIG-NIC! Let’s hope my odds of being picked aren’t slop or else I’ll try to make myself feel better by bacon all day and hogging the cookies.

And now for an extremely random picture that was inspired by my search for pig pictures and the realization that I’d recently snapped a sort of applicable photo to go along with an especially divine porker:

headwearqueens

don’t ask. just glam.

Shoutout to Cristina for all the pig mentions. Miss you, girl.


In other news…

So much has happened over the past week! Another reason why I really love living in London. I’m thinking that, until I get older and tired (perhaps 30), a city might be the best place for me to live. I’ve awakened a greedy, culture-hungry piece of myself that is generously assuaged by London’s never-ending stream of activities and goings-on. Like…

-The Columbia Road Flower Market! Located in the ever-hipster area of Shoreditch, this flower market was bursting with flowers, fun ditty shops, and people who near gridlocked the passageways. I wasn’t able to traverse the market through the middle path because I get too impatient with slow walkers I can’t circumnavigate, so my pictures aren’t full of florals but they’ll do.

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so spunky. can’t call them ugly because they’re just too proud of their over-denimnity (say that 5 times fast)

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Yellow!

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some fun singers at the market

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good one!

And speaking of Shoreditch, I was able to finally make a visit to the CAT CAFE!!!
(intentionally filling the next 5 scroll-down-blog-seconds filled with cats so y’all can freak out and know that this is a safe space. K GO!)

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Ok, now for the cat cafe pics!

I went with my friend Rebecca and we had a good time. I was sad to see most of the cats sleeping or laying around, seemingly empty of energy. When we left, a waitress took a laser pointer and that cat went to town. However, overall it was an experience shaped by the calmness of the music and animals, the obvious glee of all the cat-lovers present, and the hilarity of how worked-up everyone got as soon as a feline so much as moved their paw. It was absolutely a cat-lover’s sanctuary. (I’m not much of a cat lover but I can appreciate them as much as the next person with a soul and like for pretty furry things.)

and two of my favorites…

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Bubble wrap cat!!!

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the cat waited expectantly at the door, which read “Staff Only”. Once a waitress opened the door, the cat scurried in, proudly asserting its position as “staff”.


Finally, yesterday I went with my Museums of London class to the Tate Modern. My group analyzed an exhibit about dreams and poetry, which focused on surrealism as a jumping-off point. Super interesting. Before that, a trip to Borough Market, an indoor food playground (not actually. I wish), brought me to some delicious Dutch redcurrants for snacking and cheese for an upcoming frittata. A giggle-inducing picture ends the post, and a snap of the Globe theater for my Auntie J precedes it! Next post will feature my trip to Oxford (BEAUTIFUL) and other surprises!

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The Globe Theatre

love it.

love it.

Prague & Amsterdam: Part Two

Prague was incredible. After taking the tube, train, plane, bus, metro, tram, and a steep walk uphill, we finally arrived at our hostel. We stayed in Old Prague in a great hostel ten minutes away from the Charles Bridge. Everywhere we looked, we were surrounded by age-old buildings covered with abundant ornamentation. Although later they harassed our feet, the ubiquitous cobblestones paved ways to feelings of wonder and awe. For much of our time in Prague, it felt like we were in a fairytale village (albeit one overrun with tacky souvenir shops and Thai massage joints.)

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view down a street near our hostel

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p r a g u e !

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this city was such eye candy to gaze at all day long

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We saw a restaurant overlooking the city near Petrin Hill and without thinking, I dashed past the bushes to this point and just went to town (taking pictures, not literally! P-unintended!). This was probably trespassing but you can tell it was worth it!

We saw many of the touristy sights while on a 2.5 hour walking tour and on our own: Astronomical clock (previous post), Charles Bridge, Prague Castle, Jewish Quarter, Kafka’s stomping grounds, Old Town Square… The tour really helped skyrocket our opinions of Prague,  compared with Amsterdam, where we ended up taking a tour on our last full day there (were only there for 2 full days though) because of some confusion. Understanding the city through a mixture of history, landmarks, and modern customs is essential to appreciating a city and to everyone planning trips during their times abroad, I stress the significance of walking tours soon after you arrive.

Food: Mmmmmmmm. Tried curly, sugared bread cooked on rotating sticks called trdelnik (thanks to the suggestion of a fellow blogger studying abroad in Prague!) Hot wine is also common, and we jumped on that bandwagon quickly. It was so bitter that even with a generous honeying, it was still too dry for my taste. Goulash was delectable, the bread dumplings hearty, onion soup scrumptious. My only negative food experience was the lack of vegetables (common in far too many places, I know. 😥 ) When presented red cabbage, I sorrowfully strove to collect every measly vitamin K molecule available.

One night, we got all dolled up, fetched our Chilean hostelmate, got a cab for 300 Kr (was about $3 per person for 20 min! So cheap!) and went to an amazing nightclub that played 80’s and 90’s music all night. The music videos plastered the walls and created an atmosphere I’d never previously experienced: many “older” people (late 20s to early 40s) dotted the large dancefloor, shamelessly grooving to the cheesy songs. As a young adult whose majority of “going out” experiences have been disappointing and full of desensitizing, uninspiring music, this felt like an epiphany. Finally, I’d found a club that seemed FUN and full of people I could actually relate to! In short, it was a great time and we danced for hours. I don’t have any pics of this night but Erica and Beth do, so if you want to see pics, I’ll show them whenever they share them with me.

blackswan

This is dedicated to my DAD: Look, a black swan! (for everyone else reading this, the bird refers to how commonplace coincidences actually are, e.g. a black swan. It’s also the title of a book he loves)

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Couldn’t resist snapping a pic of this funny kid decked out in blue. (Elior I gotchu)

The Prague Castle was a joy to meander around. The highlight was the St. Vitus Cathedral, an edifice so massive that I barely tried photographing it before surrendering my camera in order to absorb its formidable presence.

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My favorite stained glass of the cathedral


We also found the John Lennon wall, a memorial to the legend who never actually visited the city but remained a symbol of peace and resistance for the youth during a time of particular political turmoil. We were surprised when we learned that Prague has only been opened up as a major tourist destination in the past 25ish years, owing to the government changing at that time (don’t ask me any more about political history than that! Not my forte.) Read about the wall here.

I’ve loved JL for a long time. I even dressed up like him, memorized his life story, and donned a costume for a sixth grade biography project! I bought a wonderful book of his artwork a while ago too. So this excursion was especially fun.

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Strawberry Fields Forever

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the wall (notice 3 JL heads up top)

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3 Johns

Whoooh, this is a long post! Grab a swig of gatorade and a granola bar to replenish those electrolytes cuz we ain’t finished yet! Nearing the end, though. I applaud your tenacity.

good job, you reader you!


One of the best parts of Prague was going to a monastery whose resident monks produced, wait for it, beer! Some proclaim it to be the best beer in Europe. Not long after hearing of this, you can imagine how, in my head, the puns flowed: How the monks turned water into beer, brewing happiness, etc.

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Love that monk!

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It was a gas. Each table lit by candles, a restaurant underground where Charles IV used to hang out…

Inside the restaurant

Inside the restaurant

We had a great time. The food was incredible as well! None of us were/are beer people, so it tasted like almost any other beer to us. Maybe the magic wasn’t in the taste, but the effects/benefits? Should’ve asked the monks!

On our way out, we stumbled upon a cute Czech cat and Erica was smitten. The first picture really says it all.

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TRUE. LOVE. Look at those faces!!!

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I gotta say, what an adorable cat.

The day we left, we explored the Jewish Quarter’s museum and cemetery area. Really interesting and worth it.

As I said in the previous post, we indulged in massages. Our bodies thanked us by staying able enough to take on much of Amsterdam’s sights in two full days. STAY TUNED: More of that in the next post!

Seen at Prague Castle. Reminds me of my wonderful sister Emily (brown hair on left) and me on right! <3

Seen at Prague Castle. Reminded me of my wonderful sister Emily (brown hair on left) and me on right! ❤

This one’s for Veronica ;) LONDON FOOD! Part I of ∞

And now for the post with lots of juicy details and tender moments: FOOD IN LONDON!

Looking back at the rather curtailed collection of pictures I’ve taken thus far (mostly in an effort to make the shiniest moments stand out and leave the rest to memory or the pen,) a striking amount are of food. But are you surprised, really? Look who’s writing this blog, here. That’s right.

So how should I start my food adventures? How about with some quaint tea sandwiches and desserts?

mmmm tea and goodies!

mmmm tea and goodies!

This is a snapshot from the tea I experienced on the boat cruise on the Thames. Nothing to faint over, but lovely nonetheless: a welcoming cup of Earl Grey paired with a healthy assortment of sandwiches, ranging from salmon and cream cheese to egg salad with ginger. The desserts were little brownie bites with dollops of dense clotted cream or pieces of banana bread. On top of the tower were awkward-to-eat numbers with butter and jam in the middle. Delightful.


I made efficient use of my first weekend here with a trip to the legendary Brick Lane market, known for its troves of vintage clothes as well as the usual craft and food stands. Before I left, my flatmates Joe and Katie advised me to try Beigal Bake’s hot salt beef bagel. When I found the place, the line was out the door, so I knew it was worth it. Before even tasting a bagel, I ordered a half-dozen in addition to my commanded lunch. Let me tell you, that hot salt beef bagel was

amazingThe blessed culination (yes, getting poetic here) was delivered in a paper bag but anything else would’ve tried to unwisely take away any admiration from the culination in hand. An incredibly doughy bagel encased a handful of hot salt beef (much like corned beef in the US) and an overzealous coat of mustard completed the masterpiece.

A note about the mustard, if you ever find yourself in that Shoreditch sanctuary: Unless you ask for mild, the condiment you will receive will not only clear your nose, send tears down your face in multiples, but it will also demand acknowledgment from your stomach (make it hurt a little, at least for me.) Beauty Foodie is pain. But it’s worth it, for the devoted.

This is the time when I’ll let Yelp do its thing. Enough said.


I’ll also put this here. Seen on Brick Lane. Have a laugh.

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I also passed the notorious and new cereal cafe. Read about it here if you wish. I didn’t go in (long line), but looking inside was enough for me. I’d rather sacrifice an overpriced bowl of cereal for a visit to the CAT CAFE any day.


While at the Sunday UpMarket, I bought some cool earrings and enjoyed a walk through the sensory shower of ethnic food stands peddling all types of world cuisine. I snapped a few pictures of the especially interesting Singaporean and Ethiopian stands before I was caught in the ever-flowing stream of shoppers moving the opposite way. Death, taxes, and assertive market-goers, man.

I wanna try Ethiopian food with all my heart

I wanna try Ethiopian food with all my heart

Singaporean delights

Singaporean delights


Grocery note: I’ve taken to British yogurt and English cucumbers (which are the norm, here, obvs.) The great part about them is that they’re about twice the size of boring US cukes so that means DOUBLE THE CUKINESS! I love cucumbers.

thanks, Nordic Recipe Archive, for so purely displaying the mighty differences between the English (center) and sad, sad American (warty and sad at the bottom) cucumbers. To add insult to injury, English cucumbers are also proud of their nickname as BURPLESS. Even the veggies have manners over here!!

If you’re as wacky as me, you’ll find this webpage on cucumber information an interesting read. Or just proof that I’m bonkers (sort of true.)

Another great part about Queen Mary is that walking down the main road gives you a great view of the building known as the GHERKIN! HOW PERFECT IS THAT? My respect for pickles is climbing every day, I think.

a giant pickle-inspired building? YES.

My usual view of that wonderful building

I’m also overcome with gladness (and happiness, when I bite into them) when I see persimmons at the supermarket. I also bought and ate three “fresh” figs today at Sainsbury’s just because I’ve never eaten a non-dried fig before (I don’t think.) When it comes to ripening, I’ll let M&S share my tale:

❤ 4evr&alw8z, persimmons ❤


Ok, let’s wrap this puppy up. But before that, here’s a picture of me in front of the cafe next to Sherlock’s and Watson’s residence in the tv show “Sherlock”:

sherlockcafe

As we serendipitously stumbled upon that on our way to a pub, later that hour I tried steak and kidney pie. My friends keep remarking on my “adventurous eating” (brought up after my British-food-acquainted friend and the cashier both expressed their dissent for the dish before I proceeded to order it.) I see meals as great opportunities to take safe risks and reap possibly high rewards. Why eat the same thing every day when there’s an endless list of tastes you can encounter!?

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A bit prettier than it tasted.

In the end, I was pleased with my choice to sample a nationally celebrated food. I cannot say so much for the kidney pieces themselves. But that’s alright- more opportunities to sample other dishes!


And now a little palate cleanser to send you off and remind us that indeed, food does come from somewhere magical:

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“Belle est la nature”

so this is culture shock?

I dunno. My mind has sort of unconsciously made me hyperaware of when I might be experiencing anything like it, since I was lectured many times before I left about the cycle of culture shock and how to deal with it. Also, I don’t completely identify with the preliminary “euphoric” stage- indeed, mine was lovely, but I wasn’t naively in love with everything I saw. However, I suppose that I was educated on the matter for a reason. So there you have it- I’ve been

CULTURE SHOCKED!

20 Funny Shocked Cat Memes 3

So I guess I’m in the anxiety phase. Without reading much about it, I can already attribute my current money worries to this stage. Although I don’t have to pay for all my food myself, it’s still jarring to be shelling out about 60 pounds per week for food I cook for myself. It’s also surprising to me because I love to cook, but living without the comfort of a meal plan that lets me prepare food only part of the time forces me to do a lot more work up front. As I like to say, my passion for cooking is enhanced when I am in a relaxed mood- rare when I’m working/studying all the time. So this makes cooking (and the creativity it requires) difficult, for now.

In addition, I understand that I’m paying for what will amount to discounts later on, but I feel like money is jumping out of my pockets when I buy a student rail card (26 pounds) and an ISIC card (~40 pounds incl. shipping and ID photo) and student oyster card (25 pounds not including fares) and textbooks (56 pounds) and a phone plan (38 pounds + monthly bill, but I’ll get reimbursed) in the same week. Whew! Keep in mind that, although the dollar is getting stronger, it takes about 1.52 dollars per pound (currently. Was 1.65 a month ago.)

I can only go onto the free and cheap and frugal London websites for so long until I burst. It’s hard for me to spend money as swiftly as I am currently. Hopefully I’ll get used to it by the time I’m taking worldwide tours and eating gold-covered truffles when I become a billionaire evolutionary biologist.

Obama’s reaction at my scheme to get rich quick.

I know this will pass in time. But for now, I’ll let my pictorial pun do the work:

Culture Shuck (get it?!)

Culture Shuck (get it?!)

Update later that day: I know that this stress will pass! It’s unnerving to be spending a lot up front, but I know it will be worth it in not too long. Like any student studying abroad, there are the joys and challenges of adjusting to a new environment, and I knew I’d have some trouble (as everyone does) when I signed up for this.

Not all my posts will be wonderful and happy, as not all my experiences here will be. And that’s okay- good, even. It’s what life is all about: learning how to grow from tough circumstances. After all, one of my new mantras is “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” It’s how I’ll grow as a person, and that’s good news to me!