Mini-Olympics with GCC

It is officially Fall Break! If you’re still unsure of what to do this week, check out my last post for some ideas based on my own past experiences. I’ve been able to take a breather and relax since arriving in LA – and I have to say that these past couple of weeks have seriously just flown over my head. With it being the last Fall semester (dun dun dun!) I’ve been focusing on 1) senior thesis 2) taking advantage of living near Philadelphia and last but not least 3) getting more involved in my extracurriculars, which includes the college ministries of Grace Covenant Church!

Finding a Church in college has been a roller coaster of an adventure in itself. I found myself solely responsible for getting up early on Sundays, as well as for making the effort to go from one church to another in hopes of finding the right fit. Harvest Christian Fellowship was a big help my freshman year, and that’s how I ultimately found GCC. One thing I love about GCC is that they have special events, including one that happened two weeks ago, appropriately named “Mini Olympics”.

Mainline Team w/ our amazing banners @ Mini-Os, 2014!

Mainline Team w/ our amazing banners @ Mini-Os, 2014! Ended up getting 2nd Place out of many!

Although Bryn Mawr, Haverford, Villanova and other Mainline campuses enjoy GCC ministries located locally, GCC is actually huge in that it has a University City campus as well, which caters to students in the Philadelphia area, including Penn, Drexel, Temples, etc. Every fall semester, the “Mini Olympics” take place, where all the small groups from GCC compete against each other in a series of relays, races, and general physical challenges. The Mainline small group has had a long-standing goal of winning the trophy and coveted 1st place position, but we ended up with 2nd for the 2nd year in a row, which was sad, but hey – it could’ve been worse (plus, we ended up having a great time).

Sunday Service @ Baldwin School

Sunday Service @ Baldwin School

For people who are still looking for a church – take a chance and explore all of the great ministries around the Mainline! Whether it’s GCC or somewhere else, Bryn Mawr makes it easy with church tours via Harvest Christian Fellowship. It’s a great way to connect with other students from other schools who are also looking for a good church community to plug themselves into, as well as a great way to meet really cool young-adults and mentors. For GCC, here’s some quick info about weekly meet ups that happen:

Tuesdays: Bible study in Erdman Pit @ 7 PM
Wednesdays: Bible study in Rhoads Study Room @ 7 PM
Fridays: “Friday Night Live”// Joint-Friday fellowship with other Mainline schools, 7:30 PM
Sunday: Sunday Service at the Baldwin School @9:45 AM!

Until Next Time!

Last Fall Break

Happy October everyone! Fall is upon us and the semester seems to just get busier and busier. In fact, I’m pretty sure that this week is that dreaded ‘midterms week’ for a lot of us on campus. Personally, this has been one of the less challenging midterms period I’ve experienced here at Bryn Mawr, so for that I am thankful (especially as a thesis-ing Senior). But! I also know that there are a lot of people who still have a paper and exam or two, so push through! What makes ‘Done is Good’ even sweeter is the fact that – yes – Fall Break is next week!

As an semi-international student, I understand that going back home for all of the breaks is a difficult task – and often unrealistic. But do not fear! Bryn Mawr is in a prime location on the east coast, and there’s a lot to do and much to explore. I thought I’d take some time to reminisce and give some ideas that you could consider for some fun Fall Break adventures.

The City that Never Sleeps – NYC!
For my very first Fall Break, I decided to take a trip to New York to visit family and friends. New York and Philadelphia are very close, regardless of whether you take a bus (megabus & bolt seem to be the most popular options) or train (amtrak & the NJ transit!). After a 1 and 1/2 hr – 2 hour trip, I arrived in the city, and explore Manhattan. Some really great things to do include:

MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art has always been one of those places where I feel there’s always something going on. Whatever the occasion, I always know that there is something interesting happening at this museum. The exhibitions are all about contemporary and modern art, which puts a creative twist on the museum experience, as well as makes it very dynamic in that the exhibitions are always changing and there are sometimes even pop ups (like the tilda swinton exhibition last year). What’s even great is that there’s a student discount for full-time students!  
Times Square – one of the iconic tourist destinations of NYC, Times Square is always bustling with people from all over the world. Known for the ball drop on New Year’s Eve, people are always looking to visit this famous intersection to see all of the lights and dazzle of the shops that occupy the streets around it. If you’re ever interested in just hanging out, drinking a coffee and hanging out with friends on the TKTS stairs, this is the place!
High Line Park - This is a really special park that’s located in the meatpacking district. Built on top of an old freight rail line, this place really is a beautiful outdoor location for couples, friends and family to enjoy. It’s a great place to take a jog in the morning, or simply stroll around with friends, enjoying the artsy restaurants. I went during the spring and it was absolutely beautiful – plus the view of the city was a sure plus!

Our Nation’s Capital – DC!
During Sophomore year, I headed south to Washington DC to visit some friends at Georgetown (you can read a more detailed version of the trip here!). Bus and Train are again the most efficient ways to get here from Philadelphia 30th Street. DC is great in that it’s a great tourist attraction and of course, there’s the Smithsonian Museums all around the National Mall. Personal favorites include the American History Museum, the Air and Space Museum, as well as the Natural History Museum. There are tons of memorials that are worth visiting if anything for great photo ops, such as the Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson memorials. Visit Georgetown and get a cupcake (or two) at the original Georgetown Cupcakes, or Baked & Wired. There are tons of trendy shops all along M street, which is seated right along the Potomac River.

And Of Course, Your Backyard – Philadelphia!
If New York and DC aren’t calling your name, there’s always the option of getting to know your very own city – Philadelphia – on a more intimate level. Although I’ve never spent an entire break in Philly, there’s definitely a lot going on all the time. I really like to check out the Visit Philly website, because that’s how I learn about the special events that are going on around the city. Personal favorites are the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Penn’s Landing as well as checking out Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. For good eats, I would personally recommend Sabrina’s for a casual brunch, Audrey Claire in Rittenhouse Square for a more chic dinner vibe (you have to get their mussels!), or Lil’ Pop Shop right near UPenn (Green Tea Mochi is to die for!).

I simply cannot believe that Fall Break is already here – just as I suspected, Senior year is going by at what seems like 81923081293 miles a minute! Looking back at all of my Fall Break experiences really reminds me to appreciate the fact that Bryn Mawr even has a break in October, and it’s great location near all of these great cities. So whatever you end up doing during this break, take advantage of this mid-way break we have this semester!

Until Next Time!

Not Black or White

Senior year is well on it’s way and i’ve barely had the time to sit down and think about the past couple of weeks! It may just be the fact that it’s the last year, but the beginning of this year has felt a lot different than others. Not only am I taking classes in the city, as well as working, but there’s also been a movement on campus that’s been inspiring and eye-opening.

An open conversation about race and diversity here at Bryn Mawr has been taking the campus by storm. Due to a certain circumstance, students are becoming more vocal about what it means to be part of a minority group at Bryn Mawr, as well as what should be done about the fact that sometimes, the issue becomes forgotten. A demonstration of around 550 individuals, students, faculty, staff, etc. took place last friday here at Bryn Mawr, which reflected the campus’ strong desire to become more open about this issue, as well as showed the school’s unity in the matter. “We won’t be silent” could be hear from all corners of the campus, and personally, I felt a strange feeling of inspiration just being amongst the crowd. Signs were all over the place, starting with hashtags #ifiwere and #becauseiam, as well as #raceatbmc. After three years at this school, it’s been a great experience to see race being discussed, outside of the traditional boundaries.

As an Asian American student here at Bryn Mawr, I sometimes lose touch with the fact that I am part of a minority group. Being coined as the “model minority” sometimes makes it easier for others to forget that Asian-Americans are also included in the fight for racial equality. We hear so many issues being raised by other minority groups, but we almost never hear about any issues concerning the Asian American students on campus. The recent events that have happened got me thinking – Why is it that we don’t hear from Asian-American students, about their concerns as a minority? It could be lack of interest, or the fact that students are less vocal. Whatever it is, I hope that race at BMC will not only continue to be an active discussion, but also will include all minority groups, including those that have been more silent. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that I am at a school that cares about the student voice, and that great things can happen by speaking up.

Until Next Time!

Five

Believe it or not, this semester is coming to a close and we are in the midst of the last week of classes. It feels like yesterday I was unpacking my stuff in Denbigh, scrambling to register for all of my classes – and this semester was different: I decided to take not three, not four, but five classes. It’s an experience I’ve never had prior to this, but I have to say there are pros… and cons.

Why? Why would you choose to take on an extra class? The workload here at Bryn Mawr is anything but light. Especially as a History major, I feel like all I do is read. Read, read, read. However, I felt like I wanted to challenge myself after a fairly relaxing semester abroad, and adding an extra class seemed like the best way to challenge myself to focus and get back in shape.

Time-Management. Organize, Organize, Organize! The biggest challenge about taking five classes is time management. You do not want to waste a single day, especially depending on how your schedule pans out. Luckily, my schedule allowed me a three-day weekend, but that too needed to be scheduled accordingly so that I would not fall behind with readings/assignments, etc. Five classes is possible, but it’ll challenge you to become a more organized individual, and will help you keep on track with your work, because you’ll need to do so in order to keep up!

Diversity. Never in my right mind would I take five humanities classes. I’m willing to bet there are some people who are capable of achieving great things while doing this, but I am just not one of those people. I think one of the main reasons why I decided to take five classes is because the extra class was Probability and Statistics – a mathematics course. There was no reading for the class, and as long as I attended and wrote good notes during lecture, I felt caught up. I think a major part of succeeding with a five class schedule is diversity. Make sure you aren’t piling up classes in only one department – you’ll want a break from your classes and the subject, and you’ll find yourself stuck. Mixing it up makes it that much easier to handle all of the work!

Would I do it again? Yes! This semester was a trial and error sort of semester in alot of ways – including trying out a five class schedule. If you find yourself on the edge about taking five classes, and you consider yourself very organized, I would recommend that you try. And if you aren’t feeling it, you can always drop in the given time range the school gives you. This semester didn’t feel as hectic or crazy as I expected it to be – and I think that’s because I tried really hard to keep an organized schedule and didn’t take on too much in other parts of my school life. I have a lighter workload for my senior year (eek!) because I took on a heavier course load this semester, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Mawrter Profile: SGA President, Syona Arora ’15I

After being here for awhile, I’ve realize that there’s one, out of many things, that makes Bryn Mawr really special: the people. College is such an important chapter in life; it’s when you’re surrounded by people, women, who are striving for the same thing as you – to be enlightened, challenged and educated about our increasingly globalized society… how we can have a voice, and have it heard.

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Syona Arora, SGA President ’14-’15

This belief has inspired me to take some time to get to know some of these amazing women i’m surrounded by – individuals that are younger, older or in my very own year. And so, I got the chance to ask our SGA president, Syona Arora, ’15 some questions – about herself, Mawr, and whether or not she had any pieces of advice for her fellow Mawrters (current and future!)

Other than Bryn Mawr, where do you consider “home”? What’s your best memory about it?
I moved around a lot during grade school - 11 houses in 18 years. Because of the constant change in location, it’s hard to pin down a “home”. I was born in Boston, but I live in India now. In that case, home to me is my extended family, people in places all over the world. My favorite memories always consist of gigantic family reunions at my grandmother’s house in New Delhi. All of these various affairs have blended together in my mind. But seeing my cousins and aunts and uncles whom I see so rarely make for the best memories.

 2. Do you remember the moment you received your admissions packet from Bryn Mawr?
Since I live abroad, I did not actually receive the admissions packet – at least, that’s not how I found out that I got in! I received an e-mail notification that the results were posted online. It was six in the morning at home and I had lost my password, so I frantically made an international call to the Help Desk. I remember screaming into the phone at whoever was on the other end that I had gotten in!

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May Day!

It took me a few weeks to decide, but the initial excitement was a huge part of my decision. It was the one school i was really interested in attending, not only because of the academics, but also because people I communicated with said that the community was beyond compare, which, given my moving around so much early on in life, was what I was really looking for. I chose Bryn Mawr because I knew that it could be a place where I could settle down and that is exactly what happened.

3. How did you get involved with SGA? For those who don’t know what it is, what do you think makes it so special?
I did not know about Self-Governance until I stepped foot on campus. It was pretty simple – I attended the SGA event during Customs week, then attended SGA 101, and realized that self-governance is incredibly unique to Bryn Mawr. I say this constantly – it is so important that a women’s college was the first to institute self-governance because it shows that a generation of Mawrters were interested in collaboration. They took action and made a space for themselves on campus and where their voices could be heard and where they could make a change in the community, completely empowering them. This has translated over the decades. Students continue to use self-governance, and it is always changing to meet the needs of a changing student body.

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Hell Week ’14

 4. What is at the top of SGAs agenda and campaign for 2014-2015?
It is really important to me to have SGA function as a platform for collaboration this term. Some parts of Bryn Mawr are disjointed, and as self-governance is a part of everybody’s experience here, it is a productive way for different parts of campus to come together.
Students feel underrepresented in SGA for a variety of reasons, and as a student who has had SGA as a part of her experience since the beginning, I sometimes find it difficult to move forward with this matter. However, I have continued to grow over the past three years and have come to a greater understanding of the student body as a whole and personally hope to be able to effectively function as a true representative for the entire student body.

5. On a lighter note, in your opinion, if there are 3 things a Mawrter has to do before graduating, what would those be?
1. Skinny Dip!
2. Try all of the different ice cream flavors in Erdman.
3. Go to Plenary.

6. What’s your favorite tradition and why? Any fun memories in particular?
I love, love, love Parade Night. It is the first tradition of the year and all the upperclassmen are so excited to welcome the first-years to Bryn Mawr. It is always the best weather for step sing, and it is so wonderful to see first-years stay ’til the end. My favorite memory, as 2015 Songs Mistress will always be leading out class through the struggle that is “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”

 Until Next Time!

It’s Already That Time of Year – Room Draw

Yesterday, Room Draw priority numbers were posted on the Residential Life website. It’s been barely 24 hours and everywhere I go, I hear conversations consisting of “What’s your number?” “You’re so lucky!” or that all too familiar “I’m going to live in a box next year”. As a rising senior, I consider myself fortunate, even with the number 274. The positive side of me keeps reminding myself, “Hey, at least you’re 274 out of the entire school!”. In the last two previous years, The Room Draw Gods have been more than merciful and I was lucky enough to never be above 30… Freshman year, my roommate and I won “Project Dormroom”, which helped alot (got #10!). The entire process will already be in motion next week, and I just cannot believe that it’s already time to start thinking about where i’ll be living during my last year at Bryn Mawr.

There are so many rooms in all of the Bryn Mawr dorms that are precious gems – one just needs to be proactive and look for them. For instance, the room that I have in Denbigh this year, I was assigned to after spending my Fall term abroad in Copenhagen. I remember getting the email a week before Spring term started, and immediately looked at the floorplan online. It looked tiny! But lo and behold, it actually ended being enormous (especially the closet!). I encourage everyone to take at least one night this weekend to go around and look at dorm rooms that you’re interested in. The floorplans are a decent reference, but sometimes, you just need to see the real deal.

May the odds ever be in your favor!

Until Next Time!

Being Appreciated (#GCCNation)

Hello Hello! It’s been a whirlwind first 6 weeks of school, with all of the snow, cancelled class and power shortages! However I have to take a moment and say that my school is awesome and that it takes more than a couple of crazy winter storms to keep Mawrters from trudging on. Although there has been alot of things going on, such as midterms, job interviews (oy vey), and events, I have to say that this semester has been great in the fact that I got to re-connect with the lovely girls of my family group for my church, Grace Covenant Church, GCC. It’s great having a group of people that can totally relate with what’s going on at Bryn Mawr, while also understanding about my goals when it comes to my faith and keeping up with it while at school.

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Grace Covenant Church’s Sisters – Class of ’15!

Every Spring, there’s an event for all of the girls in the college fellowship group called Sisters Appreciation. It’s one night where the guys in the fellowship make a fabulous dinner and banquet sort of thing in order to show that we are appreciated in the church. Pretty cool in my opinion. I had never gone to one of these Sisters Appreciation banquets before, just because it never really worked out in my schedule, or I had been away at the time. It was held at Villanova, and all of us got dressed up and were served tasty food and enjoyed stage performances and videos that the guys prepared for us. We were even given roses at the end, how sweet! It made me thankful for such a great group of friends, as well as GCC.

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Bryn Mawr GCC Family Group!

As someone who went to a Christian school in high school, I never really had to go out of my way to find resources when it came to my faith – since things like that were literally all around me. Coming to Bryn Mawr, it was initially hard to find a church and a group of girls I could plug into and share my story. But Bryn Mawr made it really easy for me to locate all of the Christian fellowships on campus – I still remember going to Cambrian Row as a clueless freshman and meeting representative students from various churches, and of course, GCC. I can honestly say that I feel refreshed and thankful that Bryn Mawr made if pretty easy for me to find my fellowship group.

More Information about GCC:
Sunday worship starts at 9:45 AM, Baldwin School
Bryn Mawr GCC Bible Study is on Wednesdays at 7 PM, Erdman Pit!

What I learned while abroad!

I am back at Bryn Mawr! and it’s almost scary how quickly I’ve re-adjusted to everything. Yes, of course I miss living in Copenhagen, and riding my bike, as well as traveling during the breaks… but I am going to be a positive penny and say that coming back has it’s perks too… like this snow day!

But let’s get back to studying abroad. It was always in my plans to study abroad – since high school. There are a lot of things that I didn’t expect, as well as some moments that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside because I had accomplished a dream. With study abroad applications due this semester for juniors, I thought I’d share some things I learned… while abroad!

1. Explore every option – Destination, that is!
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would study abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. The only thing I knew about Denmark was that in Korea, there was a milk and yogurt brand called “Denmark Milk” and “Denmark Yogurt” (hah!). Initially, I wanted to study in London. However, after learning about the DIS (Danish Institute for Study Abroad) program, as well as comparing it with the one I wanted to apply for in London, I realized that Denmark sounded pretty great. The point is, you may have that one dream city that you’ve been wanting to go to for years – but it’s great to take a step back and think about whether or not you just want to go there for vacation, or if you’d be happy there for 4 months+. Looking back, I would choose Copenhagen all over again, and the program was a perfect fit for me and my goals (travel, lifestyle, semester schedule, etc.)!

2. What to study… What to study… What to study…
I had declared my History major during the same semester that I applied for study abroad. So of course, it’d be logical for me to choose a Humanities program, or a History program, right? Well, this is where I’d like to say that you have a choice! Study abroad is a chance to go to a different city, with a different culture… so why not study something new? Or something you’ve always wanted to study but didn’t have the chance to? I’ve always been interested in PR and Communications, but there isn’t a program for that at Bryn Mawr. However, Copenhagen offered a Strategic Communications core program (that traveled to London, woohoo!), so I took the opportunity! It didn’t mean that I threw away History – I had two really interesting European History classes that were (out of this world) interesting and fun (definitely great to study European history from a European professor). So don’t feel like you have a binding contract with your major (unless you actually do… haha). Do what’s best for you and what you feel like will keep you interested for an entire semester… because trust me, you’ll be so absorbed with everything else study abroad has to offer!

3. Record, Snapchat, Instagram, Take pictures! For the memories!
I will openly admit that I am a social media junkie – and that also includes taking an insane amount of pictures wherever I’m traveling. It might seem like a huge chore in the moment, but later on, you’ll thank yourself that you took the effort! I have thousands of pictures from my entire study abroad experience – from Copenhagen, Munich, Barcelona, Paris, London, Stockholm, Oslo… I went through a bunch of them the other day (choosing pictures for my wall), and I was smiling the entire time. It’s the memories you keep that you’ll remember in the long run – and sometimes, it just doesn’t get any better than that random video you took while out on the town, or the pictures that are frozen in time. But make sure you enjoy the experience in itself! Don’t be too obsessed with preserving memories… or you won’t make any!

4. Take on every challenge & opportunity – study abroad only happens once!
This is probably one of the most important things I had to constantly remind myself to do. I’m painfully shy whenever I meet new people or try new things. But if you stop and think to realize that you’re probably never going to do something again, or not be able to in a long while, almost anything is possible. For instance, I am deathly scared of heights. I become a little baby whenever I think of doing anything more than a couple feet off the ground. In Barcelona, I climbed the Sagrada Familia – one of Gaudi’s most iconic buildings in the city. And boy, I’m glad I did. The view was stunning: to be able to see the city in it’s entirety next to the Mediterranean sea… an image I won’t soon forget. Walking around Copenhagen by myself was also a new thing for me. Another tip – don’t ever feel shy about exploring your new home alone. Especially if you’re in Europe – it’s a common practice and don’t worry…no one is going to be weirdly staring at you!

So yes, four simple yet important points I’ve learned about study abroad. It was such an amazing experience that I cannot even begin to justly describe. Europe was my dream for so long… and I have fallen in love with it even more after experiencing it in reality. I’m super thankful and grateful to my parents for giving me the chance to study and travel for four months… it’s really something you will never forget – something I will cherish forever! It’s one of those things you wish you could record in it’s entirety just so you can precisely remember every moment, every city, every feeling… It was a dream experience. I could go on forever, but let me say this – I’ll be back soon, Europe!

Until Next Time!

The Noma Experience

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity of a lifetime – to eat at Noma, which has been ranked the #1 restaurant in the world for three consecutive years! (They’re #2 this year, losing out to a restaurant in Spain). The dinner was a spur of the moment kind of thing, and I had no idea what to expect. Prior to this, I had not eaten any traditional Nordic cuisine. The experience that I came away with is one that I will never forget – and one my wallet will never forget either!

The restaurant itself is located in Christianshavn, right on the water of the river that goes through Copenhagen. There are mounds of moss in front of the restaurant and the lighting is very intimate – “hygge”, which is Danish term that closely signifies “comfort” or “intimacy”, can be felt all around. It is a two Michelin star restaurant that is run by world famous chef, René Redzepi, a Danish chef. The name “Noma” comes from the crossing of the words “Nordisk” (Nordic) and “Mad” (Food in Danish). Built inside an old warehouse, the restaurant focuses on using natural decor, as well as earthy tones. Redzepi is known to have re-vamped the Scandinavian cuisine culture, and for introducing it to the rest of the world.

We started out with appetizers, which consisted of a Nordic Coconut and fried Reindeer Moss. The 20 dish course focuses on using alot of nordic vegetation as well as using insects, such as ants, to include a citrus-y burst of flavor. Unfortunately I did not count myself bold enough to eat the insects, so some of the seasoning was replaced with citrus salts instead. The main courses consisted of fried cauliflower, as well as duck (which was absolutely delicious). The meat melted in my mouth and it still makes my mouth water even just thinking about it! The desserts consisted of fried pork skin as well as plum and vanilla ice cream, which was so rich in taste. I also decided to try the juice menu, which was freshly squeezed. Some of the flavors were seaweed, nordic fruit, as well as cucumber (think of the juices you would drink for a cleanse, except much fancier…).

My experience at Noma is definitely one that I will never forget. However, I think that it’s one that a lot of people can live without. Afterall, the bill was enough to give my wallet a slight heart attack! But it was definitely worth the money that I paid. The chefs, who each present the dish that they make, were all so kind and knowledgeable; There are people from all over the world working at Noma – we met a guy from Seattle, Washington, and Australia! The waiters were all very kind and took the time to explain what each juice or dish was made out of, and also added in small interesting tidbits about the restaurant’s history and food culture. If you ever find yourself in Copenhagen, or wishing to go, make sure to make a reservation for this place beforehand – it takes at least 3 months in advance to secure a place! I thank all the waiters, chefs and staff for my unique Nordic cuisine experience at Noma. Hopefully I will be back there some day!

Until Next Time!

Across the Pond, London!

The second study tour that I had was different than the first – It was my academic study tour, which meant that I would be traveling with my core program, Strategic Communications. We went to London, UK and I loved every moment of it! London is such a lively city and I can very much imagine myself living there one day… The week consisted of a lot of academic visits and tours, but I learned a lot and got to do tourist-y things afterwards, since I stayed for a bit longer with friends (from Bryn Mawr!).

Trafalgar Square!

Trafalgar Square!

We left Copenhagen around 8 AM (had to get to the airport by 6!) and landed at Gatwick Airport. It was Sunday, and our first stop was Trafalgar Square. A professor from DIS met up with us and gave us a walking tour, around the Trafalgar as well as Parliament Square. We got to see the royal guard at the Cavalry House and also got to see The National Gallery. We experienced London weather (a sudden downpour of rain!) but still got to go on the London Eye and see a great view of the city.

Strategic Comm class on the London Eye!

Strategic Comm class on the London Eye!

We ended the day at a lovely Indian restaurant, where we got to eat curry and nan. London is known for it’s variety of ethnic food – It was a good change from eating sandwiches everyday (I missed the taste of spicy food so much!). We were staying in Kensington, which is a very nice area right near Kensington Palace, the home of Queen Victoria and now home to Prince William and Princess Kate and Prince George. The hotel was super nice, and we were excited to start our week in London!

The Churchill War Rooms

The Churchill War Rooms

The next day started out with a tour of the Winston Churchill War Rooms, near Parliament. It was so interesting to see that all of the underground rooms had been preserved, frozen in time. As a History major, I was dancing with joy (on the inside) as I got to walk through and see the war cabinet and the museum. Winston Churchill was a great communicator, and I think that was the main reason why our professor took us to see the rooms. Afterwards, we went all the way to Wimbledon for a tour of the famous tennis courts. Prior to the tour, I knew very little about Wimbledon, except for the fact that is was a tennis match in London and that every player had to wear white.

Thank you to our wonderful (and extremely tall) Wimbledon tour guide, Ben!

Thank you to our wonderful (and extremely tall) Wimbledon tour guide, Ben!

Our tour guide, Ben, explained to us that Wimbledon isn’t only a tennis competition, but is a globally recognized brand. Wimbledon is associated with the values of high-quality, tradition and elegance. It was amazing to learn that the courts are re-built every year! Grass is super important to Wimbledon: no one, and I mean no one is allowed to step on the grass… It made all of us dream about being able to attend a Wimbledon match in the future!

Wimbledon!

Wimbledon!

Tuesday started out with a visit to a London PR firm, Modus Publicity. They are located in a chic area near Picadilly Circus and mainly focus on high-class brands, such as Calvin Klein and Dom Perignon Champagne. It was interesting to learn about the workings of such a place, with a show room and constant visits from designers and fashion model agencies.

Modus Publicity showroom!

Modus Publicity showroom!

 

It really made me think about the possibilities of a career in Public Relations and Communications: Needless to say, I did get a business card afterwards! We then went to the Museum of London which has been tirelessly re-branding itself as a modern, educational and fun museum.

The Museum of London

The Museum of London

Their campaign embraced a “Look Again, London” campaign, where the museum focused on the fact that people want to know the details about the city after maybe experiencing all of the obvious tourist sites. It was different from Modus or Wimbledon in that it is a non-profit, government-owned institution, so they rely heavily on donations from patrons and guests of the museum.

Stonehenge! Thank God for such great weather!

Stonehenge! Thank God for such great weather!

Wednesday was completely different in that we left London and headed for the city of Bath! Now, as a History major, this was indeed epic… we got to see the STONEHENGE. A wonder of the world! I couldn’t keep in my amazement. Never did I think that I would see the Stonehenge in real life. And the weather was absolutely stunning. I will never forget the way the sunlight hit the stones.

sitting and relaxing at the Roman Baths in Bath!

sitting and relaxing at the Roman Baths in Bath!

Afterwards we arrived in Bath, where we got to experience the famous Roman Baths. It is very well preserved and it was very interesting to see; I even got to drink some of the water that comes from the natural baths! The waters are believed to have a healing essence – thus people traveled from far away in order to experience a relaxing weekend at Bath.

Thursday started off with a small group meeting with RLM Finsbury, which is a London-U.S. PR firm that mainly focuses on financial public relations. We got to learn the tricks and tips about what it takes to keep investors and executives happy – Financial PR is mainly business to business (B2B), which means that the main audience for the PR firm is usually those from an executive board or investor background. It was great because B2B PR is what I have always been interested in.

The U.S. embassy - couldn't take any pictures inside :o

The U.S. embassy – couldn’t take any pictures inside :o

Afterwards, we were given the chance to visit the United States embassy, which practiced a different sort of PR. All of the places that we visited prior to the embassy focused on privatized companies or non-profit, educational institutions. The U.S. embassy is the voice of the U.S. overseas, in the United Kingdom. It was nice to learn about how foreign service officers had to learn to be cautious about what they posted, and how they constantly had to remember that they were representing the opinions of the U.S. government, regardless of their own personal opinion.

high tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair hotel!

high tea at the Chesterfield Mayfair hotel!

Afterwards, we experienced high tea in the Mayfair area of London. I have to say this was one of my favorite experiences. I absolutely love high tea. It may be a very outdated tradition, pompous even. But it was absolutely extravagant and lovely (cucumber sandwiches and all!).

hogwarts!... can I get my letter now?

hogwarts!… can I get my letter now?

Afterwards, three friends and I made our way to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio for a tour of a lifetime. It took us 3 whole hours to experience the entire thing (I would go again and again if I could!) and I exited the building a little poorer than I had been when I entered (souvenirs…). It was a great trip down memory lane. I still cannot believe that it has been more than 10 years since Harry Potter first entered my life. Still waiting on that letter to Hogwarts…

The Tower Bridge with Reina '15

The Tower Bridge with Reina Qu ’15

Friday marked the end of my academic study tour. I parted ways with my class, and met up with Michelle ’15 and made my way to King’s Cross, where a fellow Mawrtyr is currently staying during her fall semester abroad. Reina Qu ’15, graciously took me and Michelle in for the rest of the week, so that we could be real tourists and see the sites. The next day, we walked all around the city, setting sights on the Tower of London, The Monument, Tower Bridge, London Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Needless to say, we were absolutely exhausted, yet content! We had checked off everything on our list… for Saturday. We ended the night with dinner in Chinatown, where we had dim sum. It was nice to visit a Chinatown – surprisingly Copenhagen doesn’t have one (to dispel the belief that every city has a chinatown).

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace!

Changing of the guards at Buckingham Palace!

Sunday was a blur. We started out at Abbey Road, where we, along with several other eager tourists and Beatles fans, attempted to re-enact the famous Beatles album cover. Afterwards, we made our way to Buckingham Palace, where we got to see the changing of the guards. I didn’t know that there were specific days chosen for the entire thing – we were lucky that we were there on one of the days it was being done! The square was completely filled with people. After a quick lunch at High Street Kensington station, we made our way to the last tourist site on our list – Kensington Palace.

Queen Victoria and Kensington Palace, hello!

Queen Victoria and Kensington Palace, hello!

It was ironic that I hadn’t been able to visit the palace up until the last day, especially since I had stayed in a hotel that was literally 15 minutes away from it for most of my trip. The palace was going under major reconstruction of it’s tour program. There were 4 parts to it, and thankfully we got through all of them. Of these four was a special exhibit about the Queen’s fashion, as well as her sister’s and the late Princess Diana. It was breathtaking to see the dresses worn by the three royals, and they were all kept in pristine condition. We ended our stay in London with a very appropriate high tea – something I was glad to experience twice! Our trip in London had come to an end, and I was not even the least excited to leave.

last but not least, afternoon tea with Reina '15 and Michelle '15 (taking picture)

last but not least, afternoon tea with Reina Qu ’15 and Michelle ’15 (taking picture)

London is one of those cities that people always say they would like to visit. London had been one of the top two places on my list of cities to visit (along with Paris, which I will be flying to on Wednesday!), and I have to say that I was not in the least disappointed. It is so vibrant, with so much history weaved within the modernly chic city walls. I do hope that I get another chance to visit soon (a possible destination for a summer internship perhaps!), because London definitely stole my heart. Next stop, the city of love, Paris!

Until Next Time!