My final week!

On Tuesday, Catherine and I decided to go to Reading Terminal Market (truly one of the best places in Philly to get food) and I went specifically to Beiler’s Bakery and got 3, yes 3, huge doughnuts. Specifically, PB & J, Peanut Butter Creme and I think Maple Pecan? They were all straight up delicious and so filling. I see why Beiler’s is thought of as Philly’s best doughnuts (I personally will always have a love for Federal, however!). Catherine got some Cajun food from a delicious looking vendor too. After this, we ventured over to Chinatown for bubble tea (TeaDo do some great bubble tea) and I got the Coconut milk bubble tea which was delicious. I dread to think of how many calories were in the stuff I put into my body but it was phenomenal, especially in the lovely weather. Of the night, we went to South Street Diner for our last ever midnight diner run – I love these. Me and James always eat loads of food and have great banter when we go :’) And I’m gonna miss diner’s in general – cheap prices for a large amount of food. It was a sad but great time. On Thursday I finished my last ever exam (International Politics) at 10am (it started at 8am – how ridiculous) and then I was officially free with NOTHING TO DO! I should have mentioned that I had exams all prior to this this week and final papers that were due in so that sucked a bit. So after it, me, Sam and Ejaz went out for food and drinks at Sabrina’s Cafe to celebrate our new found freedom! It was actually pretty lovely. We were all tired AF because we’re students and we don’t sleep but it felt so good to not worry about having anything to do! After this, I met up with Elisha and we went and sunbathed in Rittenhouse Square because the weather was beautiful! It was so nice. We just had a bit of a catch up and talked about life while laying in the sun, relaxing – super lovely! Then after this, me and Catherine spent the whole day together and ate literally so much food it was disgusting. We literally spent like 7-8 hours just together, eating food and having a really good time. It was pretty great. We ended up going to Cav’s this night for a little bit because everyone was there – it was the last Thursday of the school term so it was pretty lit – SO PACKED and crowded. When I got back, Mick had gotten me this care package full of peanut butter products, Doritos, Pringles, Dr Pepper, ice-cream and doughnuts – it was literally so amazing and thoughtful. It was the cutest thing in the world! And of course, it was literally all of my favourite things – this girl knows me so well. The food didn’t last as long as it should have, especially seeing as I was drunk when she first gave it to me. On Friday, I had to pack all my stuff up ready for England as I had to be moved out of my dorm by Saturday morning at 10am. I ended up fitting everything into two large suitcases and a small suitcase – I was quite impressed considering the amount of stuff I had. I met some of the girls on Friday evening for a meal at The Cheesecake Factory – it was my way of saying goodbye to some of them and this was actually lovely. We had such a nice time and I’ll truly miss the girls there so much – they’re all great friends! And of course, we ate too much which I personally love. My sorority girlies are literally just the best. After this, I went to meet Elisha in centre city as we were going to the observation deck which I believe was around 54-56 floors high. At night, the view was so incredibly beautiful – you could see all of the city and we spent so long up there just looking out at everything and trying to figure out which buildings were which – it was mesmerizing. The pictures of course, did not do it justice. But this was honestly lovely – I love observation decks more than any other touristy thing, they’re incredible. Then I headed back home as me and some other friends had plans to go to ‘Moshulu’ which is essentially, a huge ass fancy party on a boat! However, because of some issues, we didn’t get to go meaning we all just got drunk at Greeks (despite being dressed up haha) and then eventually headed to my friend Monica’s for more drinks, as it got later. This night was a lot of fun – super late one though. It was one of those nights where you wake up thinking you definitely could have done with drinking less! The next morning I had to be moved out by 10am and was running off of literally 3 hours sleep so it was pretty grim, packing while hungover. But fortunately, we made it. We then drove to Jersey as I was keeping all my stuff at Catherine’s as I, at that point, had no place to live haha. So after having moved out and moved into Jersey, we drove back to Philly and went to the Betsy Ross House because there was some sort of carnival going on for ‘Flag Day’ – it was really nice and fun. The weather was beautiful as usual and everyone just looked like they were having such a good time. I’ve already been to the Betsy Ross House but it’s such a nice place to visit so it was lovely heading back. After this, we headed to Spruce Street Harbour park which was literally so amazingly beautiful. It’s in old city (so we stopped off at Franklin Fountain for ice-cream prior to this, yay) and it was essentially like a long strip along the harbour of really cool things like oversized chairs, swinging hammocks, food vendors, life-sized connect four and jenga games – it was super dope. There were a bunch of people there with their families and you are actually able to drink on this one street (which you know me, I loved) and it was just phenomenal. Easily one of the loveliest places in Philly! The views were so beautiful, especially with all the lights in the trees. At night I could imagine it would be very romantic. We actually hired out a ‘swan boat’ which was a small boat for 2 that looked like a swan. It was so much fun! You had to pedal it yourself and you got about 30 minutes on it in the harbour (Delaware river) – me and Catherine are such nerds so this was amazing for us! I love boats :’) After this, we headed to Magic Gardens but it was closed by the time we got there so instead, we randomly went on a shopping spree? We went to Urban Outfitters, American Eagle and some other stores and ended up spending literally way too much money. Like $200. For no reason. But the stuff we got was pretty cute so it’s all good :’) It was just exceptionally random and non-intentional :’) After this, we met up with Izzi, Bree and Sara to get food at Sava’s. It was delicious! Sava’s is a little weird because the portion sizes are nowhere as near as big as they are in the rest of the U.S. so I’m not sure how I feel about that haha. But Monica was our waitress (bae) and she brought us out free dessert (WHAT A WOMAN) and we literally didn’t even ask for dessert. I love her so much :’) So that was super fun – I had to say goodbye to those guys at that point, which sucked. And then after this, we basically just spent the night drinking at Greeks with a bunch of people who showed up. It was a lot of fun! My last night ever officially drinking in Philly. I was gonna go out but then Catherine couldn’t come as she was underage so I thought it’d be nicer to spend the time with her and it was lovely – I’m gonna miss ‘not your father’s Rootbeer’ (the drink – it’s the most delicious beer in the world I swear). This was a lovely night and I’m really glad it happened and we drove home to Jersey after this. The next morning, Sunday, Catherine and I woke up, loaded the car with all my suitcases and stuff and then went to Pennqueen Diner for our last ever diner breakfast! It was lovely. And then we headed back into Philly to hit up Magic Gardens (as it was actually open this time) and this was easily another one of my favourite places in Philly. The whole place was made up of Mosaic art all over the walls and ceilings – it was essentially an outdoor museum full of beautiful art. It was honestly like walking through a magical garden – so photogenic, alternative and quirky. Really incredible place. I could spend hours just walking through the same garden over and over again – I would highly recommend that everyone goes here in Philly. After this, me and my friend Sam got Starbucks and I headed over to Greeks to say goodbye to everyone officially as I had to catch my flight in a few hours time. This was honestly the saddest time ever – I couldn’t stop myself from crying. I’m gonna miss my friends in Philly so much – the friendships I developed in this country are not comparable to the friendships I made in the UK. The quality was so much higher and everyone will be so so so missed and so remembered! There was actually an issue at the airport where I thought I wasn’t going to be able to board my flight home – me and Catherine were quite depressed when it all worked out haha. We cried so much at the airport – it was so hard seeing her leave and saying goodbye to her for good. I’ll never forget the moment when she just said ‘you’re my best friend’ – so heartbreaking, truly. She surprised me with a scrapbook full of pictures of us which I thought was absolutely adorable. I honestly didn’t stop crying for most of Sunday – I’d see or think something that reminded me of Catherine and just start tearing up again. It was absolutely horrible. I wrote most of this blog post with the heaviest heart in the world. I leave Philly as a changed person, full of confidence, an increased sense of independence and self-esteem and so many untouchable memories which will never be given justice when I try to tell others of them. Every single person who I came into contact with has left some sort of impact on my life and personality – I’m a part of all of the friends I have there. I honestly loved my style of life and the way I lived in the U.S. – every moment was so exciting, new, interesting, fun and full of so much love. This was undeniably the best thing I’ve ever experienced – I was so fortunate to have this opportunity and I’m so full of appreciation for everyone who contributed to the experiences that I had there. Even the people who I would just see passing on the street – you made it so amazing for me. On the flight home to England, I watched the movie ‘How to be single’ and this one line touched me so much. ‘Just because it’s over, doesn’t mean the love is gone’. And this is exactly how I feel. This year has undeniably been the most interesting, emotional, fun, crazy, new, spontaneous, reckless, overwhelming, perfect year of my entire life. I’ve learned so much, seen some of the most beautiful sights in the world and truly, met the best, most unique and phenomenal people that the world has to offer. If my boyfriend could have been with me during my time there, I would have had NO complaints whatsoever. I can’t wait to somehow see my American friends again – it will happen – I will make sure of it. I can’t wait until Catherine comes and visits in England and then we’re tourists in Europe and I show her around like she did to me. That would be so amazing haha. Thank you so much Philly and the U.S.A in general – you’ve honestly changed my life and temporarily cured my wanderlust 😛 P.S. I also found out that my final grades for this term were A+, A+, A and B-. I’m super happy about that considering I literally did no work for any of my classes! What a relief. This is the last I’m going to post on this blog for a little bit – maybe I’ll post some more when I do some travelling elsewhere but for now, travel lots and love more! Katie xoxo

 

 

 

Week 33 & 34 in Philadelphia

So I actually stayed in Pennsylvania for these next 2 weeks which was rare because I’d been travelling a lot lately around the US. My friend actually saw me and was like “are you taking any classes this term?” haha. On Tuesday, I went to a really interesting lecture all about Europe and it’s sexual minorities meaning LGBTQ+ members. It was super interesting and I’m glad I went – it was mentioned to me by my politics professor and it was pretty interesting. At the night time, we went for another midnight diner run at Silk City Diner – I got a grilled cheese sandwich with sweet potato fries and then had about 3 cocktails too! It was literally so filling haha. The cocktails were pretty delicious but the waiter kept giving us cocktails that we didn’t ask for – I asked for a purple rain twice and got some weird concoction that was definitely not it. It was good stuff though – I love these diner nights because they always lead to great conversations. On Wednesday, I accidentally ended up skipping all of my classes because I went to lunch and lost track of the time?! That means I skipped 4 classes accidentally! What the hell. As you may have noticed though, I rarely eat at home – I basically go out for every single meal just because it was so cheap with the conversion rate and because I’m so lazy haha. In the evening, we went out to the Belgian Cafe for food and drink – we had vegetarian wings (yes, for real – they were actually delicious? I have no idea what they were made of though), fries and had a bunch of different beers. It was an amazing time! I got a lil drunk as per usual. This was like a new spin on the ‘midnight diner run’ because it was actually a restaurant and bar haha. I probably shouldn’t have gone out though because on Thursday, me and Catherine drove all the way to Hershey to go to Hershey Park! I was so freaking tired, I had to sleep in the car :’) I cannot express how phenomenal this trip was though. This was Catherine’s Christmas gift to me and it was so amazing. The drive was about 2 hours and honestly, the thing I’m gonna miss the most about Catherine is our car rides because we JAM SO HARD. We literally blast the music and go a little crazy with the singing and dancing – I love that so much. I feel so comfortable around this girl and just have so much fun – I feel like she’s genuinely my female soul mate! So when we got there, we went straight to chocolate world – we had a tour of the chocolate factory and went on a little ride that took us around. It was so cute! We then got free Hershey’s (which you know I’m about). We then looked around all the crazy things you can buy (huge ass Hershey’s kisses, huge bars, clothes – I can’t convey how insane the things were here – all the food was SO LARGE IT WAS INCREDIBLE). We spent way too long in the gift stores and places like that! We then headed over to the theme park – there were SO MANY ROLLERCOASTERS. Now, I’ve always had a fear of roller-coasters but after filling up on nachos, chocolate, smores cake, peanut butter milkshakes and iced coffee (some of my favourite things), Catherine convinced me to go on a few with her. This was a huge deal for me, guys! I went on like 6 huge ass roller-coasters with crazy drops, speed and it was actually so much fun! It was so scary but I also loved it, yano? We worked up to the bigger coasters. We started on the smaller ones and then worked our way up to the scarier ones. It was a lot of fun though. I loved the indoor and outdoor roller-coasters (the indoor ones had insanely impressive graphics and themes), the cars that spin, the warped mirrors that made you look way thinner or fatter than you were, etc – everything was just a blast. I was genuinely super nervous sitting on some of the rides but I really did have a good time so I’m glad Catherine encouraged me to do that – she helped me curb a fear. I’m excited to force myself to go on more :’) It was great going on with Catherine too cos we just literally always have so much fun together – I can’t express it haha. We spent ages on the park and just going round exploring all the stores and rides. We also went to the zoo (there’s a freakin’ zoo in the park) and saw a seal and sea-lion show?! It was so cute. That wasn’t something that I would have paid for cos I’m not sure how I feel about treating animals like that but it was adorable and lovely. We also saw a bunch of other beautiful animals who seemed pretty happy and looked after. The zoo was nice 🙂 Hershey park in general was just fab – Hershey is actually one of my favourite chocolates and I couldn’t believe how big the park was – there was just so much to do. There was a little train that took you around! There were all these dressed up characters that you could take pictures with too. It was honestly like Cadbury world but way better and with a theme park and zoo :’)  We had a bit of a nightmare at the end of the day though because Catherine lost her phone somewhere in the park and the park is huge! So I called her phone and thankfully someone answered it and took it to lost & found so we had to walk all the way back to lost & found after exiting the park and being back at the car… it took a while but we found it, phew! It was truly a little bit of a panic though. Honestly one of the best days I’ve ever had – loved every second of it – it was simply perfect. A huge thank you to Catherine for making that happen – she literally made my day amazing! On Friday, I had to wake up early to catch the train to Harrisburg with Elisha – we thought we’d booked train tickets to Gettysburg but like idiots, accidentally booked them to Harrisburg instead, which is the capital of Pennsylvania. We wanted to see the Gettysburg battlefield but I guess that wasn’t happening lmao. We had a really good day in Harrisburg though – the city had put up dinosaurs throughout the entire place which were like a treasure hunt and you had to see how many you could find. I think we probably found about 20? They were really impressive – all looked like different art pieces. Very cool stuff. After this we went to City Hall (which was exceptionally beautiful – I’ve seen so many city halls now haha) and then walked to the National Civil War Museum which was actually really great. I’ve been to a countless amount of museums since being in the U.S. but this one was honestly really impressive. However, it was about 90 degrees and we walked SO FAR to get to this museum – we didn’t realize how far away it was (the American family we asked directions from did warn us but we stupidly declined their offer for a ride) and we were just covered in sweat. I was also wearing flip flops which is straight up, a big no no, when walking long distances. We were so happy when we finally reached the museum – even though the last stretch was up hill haha. We each learned a lot in the museum and I love that! That is the purpose of museums, I think – to educate. So this means it was done properly hah. After this we got lunch and we each got a HUGE pizza – we didn’t realize how big they would be. I can handle food, I really can, but this was RIDICULOUS. Before we ordered the food, the guy who worked there actually warned us about how big it was haha. How crazy is that?! We took the pizza’s home, obviously but they were incredible haha. We tried so hard! We basically then just walked around Harrisburg city centre and took it all in – it was a pretty cute place! After this we went and sat by the big river/lake/harbour (I’m not entirely sure what it was but damn it was beautiful) and just spoke for hours and hours. We spent a lot of this trip walking so this was a pretty beautiful time! We then had to catch our train back but it was literally so much fun exploring Harrisburg – I’m so glad I got to see the capital before I left. When I got home, it was pretty late at night and I had to pack everything for camping in Felton, PA, the next day with my sorority sisters. We hired out a huge log cabin and drove down for the weekend! So Saturday morning was the start of memorial day weekend, meaning we all drove down in separate cars and took down food and everything we needed (seeing as though it was literally in the middle of nowhere) and me and my car (Bridget, Gabby and Elizabeth) stopped for lunch at Sonic. I got the most beautiful milkshake – it was peanut butter and chocolate cookie dough. It was huge – I actually couldn’t finish it because I started to feel sick haha and I don’t usually leave food… We arrived at the camp around 3pm after getting lost a little bit and a bit scared (we were in the middle of the woods and actually saw a deer omg). Most people had already arrived by that point but when we got there, the cabin was actually so nice. It was pretty huge with lots of space – I was impressed, truly. After everyone had moved in and settled in, we all had a coloured paint fight in the grass around the cabin – it was so fun haha. We were covered and looked an absolute mess afterwards so obviously, we took pictures. It was really cute and fun though haha. We then went and explored the showers on a further away campsite – we walked there and the walk was lovely. The weather was phenomenal – like it was outrageously hot so we were all dying of heat but being from Britain, I loved it! After our showers and stuff, we all just had some down time – we were playing cards outside on the patio (‘Bullshit’ is a particular favourite of mine) and we all just bonded a lot because we were in the woods, with no internet or phone signal – it was great. I actually loved every second of it! Then we all had dinner and there was such a range of food to choose from (some of the girls cooked and it was delicious) and we even had cookie cake which was phenomenal! We all ate so much food we actually couldn’t move haha. I was really impressed with the food, considering it was just stuff that the girls on the camp made themselves! After this we did a sisterhood activity which basically involved us being split into groups and given a different value (our sorority has 5 values – wisdom, power, love, hope and faith – that is what each member is supposed to represent) and we had to perform a skit or act them out in some way. My group got hope and our skit was absolutely awful, but it was super funny, so that’s all that matters haha. After that, we all huddled around the campfire that Anna Lu very impressively created and we made smores! They were DELICIOUS. We roasted the marshmallows over the campfire using sticks and then put it in between graham crackers and Hershey chocolate. I was so happy haha me and Catherine literally ate most of the smores! They were beyond delicious – I’m craving them now again, now I’m writing this haha. I wish I was back there eating smores now! It was great. The fire was so hot though – you couldn’t stand too close or you’d literally be sweating. We all played a huge game that night too in the cabin – everyone got involved. I forgot what it was called but it was the one where you pretend to have to kill people without them knowing about it and then everyone else needs to work out who the killer is? It was a lot of fun haha. The next morning we had some delicious pancakes for breakfast (courtesy of Catherine, thanks bae) that had m&ms and chocolate chips inside of them 😮 😮 They were amazing. And we spent the day outside tanning in the sun and playing games and having banter – it was absolutely lovely. We were all wearing our bikinis and just genuinely enjoying the weather. After this, a few of us went hiking – it wasn’t as hot when the sun was being blocked by the high trees in the forest – it was so much fun I love exploring new places. We found, what looked like, some agility courses and we also found baby frogs and it was really cute. The sights were beautiful and I’m so glad I was with the people I was with because I have no sense of direction – they somehow got us back to the camp site and I have no idea how they did that! We spent ages trying to find a lake that we could see from a distance but couldn’t quite get close to. It was really frustrating because we could never find it but the hiking itself was wonderful – hiking is my favourite form of exercise because it’s just so beautiful and interesting! When we got back, post-showers and such, we had more smores by the campfire – I literally consumed so many smores this trip – this was easily my favourite part because yes, I am a foodie. It was lovely to have everyone just roasting marshmallows together haha. After this we did ‘awards’ and ‘violets’. I got an award for ‘most likely to burn smores’ and tbh, it wasn’t wrong. A bunch of mine set on fire haha. Catherine won ‘most likely to burn in the sun’. Also accurate. And then we did violets and I got 3 – all the notes were literally so adorable awh. After this, we played even more games and had even more delicious food (grilled cheese and mac and cheese – aw yas). After this, things got very interesting – we played ‘Never Have I Ever’ and some people were a lot more drunk than others. I definitely found out some interesting information about my sisters haha. It was a lot of fun! The next day, Monday, we all headed home back to Drexel – perhaps 5 pounds heavier. Memorial day weekend was officially successful and a bunch of fun!

This next week was hella stressful because this was essentially when I had a bunch of deadlines and stuff due in. On Wednesday I had to give a presentation in front of my International Politics class and I hate public speaking so much  -it gives me more anxiety than anything else. So much that I don’t ever remember what I’ve said once the presentation is done. However, it went really well and the professor and class seemed impressed so I was happy to have that over and done with! Especially since I had an exam that night in my Psych of Disability class. The stress was so so so real. Especially seeing as though I didn’t really do any preparation for either of those things! Haha. On Thursday, I met up with Angela and Elisha and we all genuinely had the most amazing time. We went for dinner at Sabrina’s Cafe and didn’t stop laughing the whole time. I had the most beautiful tofu scramble (no really it was great) with sweet potato fries (obviously) and toast and then for some reason, we thought it’d be a good idea to get dessert despite already being full? So I got a snickers cheesecake and they had milkshakes haha and of course, this actually sent us over the edge. This was the first time Elisha and Angela had met each other and they got along so well – it was super cute haha. We honestly just had such great banter – it was lovely! That night I convinced Elisha to come drink with me at Greeks with James, Izzi and her friend from the Netherlands, Heather. It was such a cool night haha – we had a lot of fun! A bunch of other people turned up too because it’s Greeks and that’s always how it happens. We stayed out way later than we should have but it was totally worth it – so much fun. The next morning we woke up and felt like death haha. Elisha, I and her Australian friend who’s name I’ve totally forgotten (I’m so sorry) went for brunch at the White Dog Cafe. It’s pretty bad that most of my breakfasts consisted of veggie burgers and fries in America but hey, I can’t complain too much. The fries here were immense – they were like sea salt fries and they were just so beautiful. Honestly some of the best fries I’ve ever had – if you want good fries go to the White Dog Cafe, for sure. The conversation at brunch was great – I was asking Elisha’s friend all these questions about Australia and learning a little bit about the country – very very cool and interesting. I’m pretty sure on Friday night I somehow got drunk again, despite feeling awful – probably with James and Monica again but I actually forget who it was with?! I’m writing this blog retrospectively so I’m pretty sure it was with James and Monica at Greeks. Regardless, with them, it was going to be a good night anyway! So I’m sure that was a bangin time :’) On Saturday night, me, Catherine, Elisha, Angela, Monica, literally everyone, went to hotel party at Theta Chi. It was pretty fun! The next day we all woke up feeling the roughest we had ever felt in our lives haha. We drank literally so much it was insane. It was so much fun though, nobody is denying that! We danced, we had jello shots, we tried the weirdest concoctions of drinks. All in all, a great party with a lot of cool people! Just the next morning, not so fun 😛

Week 31 in Philadelphia, Las Vegas & Cape May

After getting back from Florida, this week has been pretty chill. We had our sorority chapter meeting on Monday instead of Sunday because it was Mothers Day (I sent my mum a huge 47 inch teddy bear and a personalized huge Millie’s Cookies cookie – I’m cute I know) and then for the rest of the week, I’ve just been avoiding responsibility and pretending to do work! I’ve had a super heavy workload and loads of academic things to do. For example, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I had to meet up with my assigned group for my International Politics class as we had to give a presentation/debate on Wednesday about what the most effective and best way to take action against climate change is. It actually went pretty well and I genuinely really liked everyone in my group – we all got along so well and worked really well together. Some of us have actually developed friendships because of it! I’ve been spending a lot of time chilling at Mad Greeks with the guy who owns it and everyone there too – that’s always fun! On Wednesday, James, Monica, Izzi, Carlton and I went and pregamed at City Tap House (it’s actually super expensive there because it’s a restaurant: note to self) and then headed out to Smokey’s (a cool ass bar that I went to for the first time this night) and it was a lot of fun! I saw a bunch of people at the bar that I already knew (my fellow international students and some Americans) and the bar was really cool. I had a lot of fun this night and I’m pretty sure everyone else did too! I always forget to take pictures when I’m out at bars for some reason – America has changed me! On Thursday, I basically spent the day preparing and getting everything sorted for my trip to Vegas the next day! I went with Mae and Maria from my sorority and I didn’t have anything sorted for it so I had to do it all last minute! Our flight was super early on Friday; like I literally had 2 hours sleep before hand. We got the train to the airport as it was a lot cheaper than getting an uber. We caught our first flight to Dallas, Texas because we had a one hour layover there which wasn’t bad at all – I think I slept during the whole flight. Then on the flight from Dallas to Las Vegas I sat by the coolest people – I made a new friend called Nate who I spoke to for the whole flight! He was 26 and from Utah originally, and he told me all the coolest stuff to do in Vegas (as he goes there a lot for business). The flight was actually hilarious cos we had some great banter – we got along really well. Time literally flew by (get it? flew? we were on a plane? lol ok). So that made the start of the trip really cool! As soon as we landed, we went to our hotel (Treasure Island – it’s at one end of the strip) and checked in. The hotel was gorgeous – it was literally so beautiful and we had the most amazing view from our hotel room. Considering it was like 110 degrees, we got our bikinis on and went down to the pool and had a cocktail or 6… it was great. I can confirm, alcohol in Vegas is SO EXPENSIVE. Every single cocktail was at least $20, no lie. But they were so incredibly strong you honestly didn’t need many. Straight away I knew that Vegas was going to be one of my new favourite places… and I wasn’t wrong :’) So this first day we basically spent partying in the pool and chilling, having a good time! A little later, we went to an all you can eat buffet at the hotel and it literally killed all of us. I don’t wanna know how much I ate that day but I know that it was impressive haha. I actually was in genuine crippling pain afterwards – it was stupid in retrospect. At night, we went to explore the strip. Every single hotel on the strip is absolutely beautiful and one of my favourite things was exploring the different themes. We went to the Venetian (which has an Italian theme and was one of my favourites) and spent time exploring the sheer beauty inside, we walked around outside a lot because when everything is lit up it actually is mesmerizing, we saw Caesars Palace (yes, where the Hangover was filmed – it’s just as beautiful in person folks and the stores inside were crazy), saw the Mirage hotel and kind of just ‘got our bearings’ with the strip and where we were. I was so amazed the whole time – everything was so grand and impressive. Aesthetically, this place was incredible. You can spend hours just walking up and down the strip because of how beautiful and large and lit up everything in. I also love how everyone parties every single night in Vegas – that is exactly the kind of lifestyle I am about :’) The next morning we got up early and got breakfast at ‘Hash House a Go-Go’ (the guy on the plane recommended it and I’m glad he did) – it was in the Linq hotel which is actually a fairly new one (fairly central on the strip). The lines for this restaurant were insane but I can see why – the food was phenomenal. I got their snickers filled pancake and it was actually only one pancake but it was the biggest thing I’ve ever seen – it actually lasted me all day – I boxed it and then had the rest for lunch. That right there, is what you call real American food :’). I think it’s safe to say that they were honestly the best pancakes I’ve ever had – you could really taste the snickers inside of it and it was just flawless. It wasn’t just my food that was amazing though – I saw what other people ordered and it was all literally so huge. Like falling off the plate! After this we proceeded to do some more exploring and explored the Flamingo hotel which was again, phenomenal – there were actually Flamingo’s in the garden and it was such a beautiful day (I appreciated the weather so much – we were in the middle of the desert so it was unlike anything I’d ever experienced) and then we went to the Paris hotel and actually went on the ‘Eiffel Tower Experience’ which basically means that you get to go to the top of an Eiffel Tower replica and look out over all of Las Vegas. It was immensely beautiful! It was nowhere near as tall as the real Eiffel Tower but it was in fact, incredibly tall. So much so that Maria was genuinely scared to be stood at the top of it! It was a phenomenal view we spent so long up there. After this we walked down to Planet Hollywood and then saw the fountain show outside of the Bellagio – it was actually super beautiful, especially when the fountains were dancing to a Frank Sinatra song. The Bellagio is phenomenal. At the night time, we got dinner at I <3 Burgers (no, it was really called that) and then got a Gondola ride in the Venetian outside. It was so beautiful at night – it honestly just looked amazing. Our Gondola driver even serenaded us hahaha. We then saw the Volcano show at the Mirage which was pretty amazing in itself! The lights and graphics were immense. We then went back and saw the Bellagio fountains show at night too and compared it to when we saw it in the day time – both of which were magnificent in so many ways. I felt so fortunate to be able to see these views – they were second to none! The hotel we were staying in, Treasure Island, had the most amazing rooms. Truly epic! P.S. I was ‘cocktail in hand’ for most of this trip – the cocktails in Vegas were extortionately priced but so worth it. The next day, we woke up early and went to the other side of the strip – we started off with an all-you-can-eat buffet at Mandalay Bay and it was literally SO WORTH IT. The food was delicious and there was an unbelievable range! We actually couldn’t move afterwards haha. After this we explored Mandalay Bay (so beautiful and impressive), MGM Grand, The Luxor (Egyptian style), Excalibur (all to do with knights, castles, jousting – that sort of medieval stuff – very nerdy but cool), New York New York (I’m sure the theme here is pretty obvious from the name) and then even went into some non-hotel stores like M&M world & Hershey world. These hotels were all mesmerizingly beautiful and impressive – I honestly wish the pictures did it justice. You just needed to be there, to be able to see all these views. I felt so fortunate to be able to go! We got to and from each end of the strip by using the monorail because it was really hard to walk the whole length – it was incredibly long. We asked the guy I met on the flight if we could borrow his hotel pass to use the wave pool and lazy river in Mandalay Bay and he actually let us!? So after exploring all of these hotels, we went back to get our swimwear and then hit the pool for some more fun in the sun. The lazy river was genuinely the best thing – so much fun. Me and Mae found rubber rings and just floated down the whole way, drinks in hand :’) We then dried off, got changed and went to get some food (after literally like 3 hours just messing about in the pool and drinking – it was a blast) at ‘Slice of Vegas’ (an Italian Pizza place). After this, we returned the passes to the guy we met on the flight and he invited us to a party at Mandalay Bay so obvs, this was something that you cannot turn down. The party was phenomenal, guys! Mandalay Bay’s rooms are INSANELY gorgeous. It was such a fun night – I’m glad I got to meet such cool people on my trip! I wish I’d have taken pictures though 🙁 It was honestly just so immense, I wish yall could’ve been there to experience a true Las Vegas party! We partied till a ridiculous time. And then had to head back home to wake up in a couple hours to see the Las Vegas sign before we left! There were so many people at the ‘Welcome to Las Vegas’ sign – such a tourist opportunity 😛 After this, we regrettably headed to the airport, got food and caught our flight home! I was so sad to be returning – I don’t think I explained our time very well cos I didn’t convey how much fun it was and just how amazing Vegas really is. I think it’s more a ‘you had to be there’ kinda situation. Vegas is definitely one of my favourite places in the U.S. so if you ever have the opportunity, PLEASE GO.

So we got back from Vegas late Monday night and me and James and Monica went for dinner when I got home and had a bit of a catch up. I love the food at Landmark American, it’s kinda expensive but I think it’s pretty high quality. Now that I’m back in Philly and I’ve officially spent the last 10 months of my life travelling around 11 different U.S. states, I can honestly say that the sadness about leaving for England in under a month is really getting to me. I feel guilty about saying this because of course I’m excited to see my mum, dad, boyfriend, dog and the rest of my family and friends but this has been truly, the most incredible year of my life! I can’t even comprehend the fact that I’ve been able to do the things I’ve done and see the things I’ve seen. Let alone have such amazing friendships with the people I’ve met. I honestly don’t know what I’m supposed to do when I go back to England. Everyone I’ve met here has been so amazing and I’ve just gotten to learn so much and explore, live and adventure in so many ways! I hate how cheesy I sound when I say all these things because it doesn’t sound as legitimate and genuine as I’d like it to. I’m honestly heartbroken to be leaving all my friends here who have truly, become family! What will I do without Catherine and Mick to wake me up in the morning and deal with my loudness when I’m drunk? What will I do without coffee and dinner dates with every single one of my sorority sisters? Who am I gonna call to get drunk with me on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday when I’m just a little bored and have none of my fraternity friends to party with? What am I supposed to do on a Thursday night if I can’t annoy the bouncers at Cav’s and order way too many drinks for everyone I know at the bar? Who will I message when I wanna check out another U.S. state if I can’t see my Brazilian, British or other European friends anymore? I can’t express the difficulty it’s going to be, going from such an immense, crazy, fun lifestyle to living back in England and not really doing that much. I wish I could thank the people I know here enough but it’s definitely not going to be enough for what they’ve contributed to my life and the experiences they’ve given me! It’s even going to be difficult to say goodbye to the people who aren’t necessarily best friends of mine but they’re people who if they ask me to do something with them, I will! Moving on from the soppy stuff, I’ve been thrown straight back into academia and loads of  work because it’s Drexel and I travel lots haha. Let’s not forget the stress of severely running low on money because I’ve been going a little crazy. Despite these concerns, James and I still managed to go to Village Whiskey (a super classy and fairly expensive bar in Center City) on Wednesday night. That was pretty fun! It’s the kinda place where you need to know about different whiskey’s and beers or you won’t fit in haha. There’s always a lot of great banter when James is there so I had a lot of fun this night! On Thursday, my sorority had I-night which is basically the pre-initiation meeting that we have. This was pretty nice! All the new members are honestly great. We all spoke about why we joined Sigma and why we love it so much, including what our values mean to us. And then this night, Catherine was actually able to come to Cavs with me and Michelle! It was literally so fun. We danced all night and screamed way too loud. It was really hot in the bar though cos it was like 80 degrees, the sweat was so real. I’ve never been out with Michelle before so this was great (she’s a sorority sister) and I definitely wanna party with her again – nicest girl ever, seriously. I always eat so much food when I’m drunk, like o m g. Lately my go-to is Doritos?! On Friday, Sigma had a free tie-dye event that was open to the public where if you brought along a t-shirt, we would dye it for you – we also had free white shirts available. This was just a way of getting our name out there and promoting the sorority a little bit – it was a lot of fun. There was free chips, hot dogs, soda, etc – a lot of people came out so that was pretty cool. Side note: I have the best best friend. Catherine brought me pizza back from work just because she got some for free. WHAT A WOMAN. Ok back on track. After the tie-dying event, Catherine and I rushed to her cousin’s 16th birthday party somewhere in Philadelphia. I love how her family invite me to all the events – it’s actually so sweet. The party was a lot of fun! Everyone looked literally so cute and had such a lovely time. It made me miss being 16 :’) the food was phenomenal! There were these stuffed ricotta shells which were carbalicious and amazing and I cannot get started on the desserts because I will not shut up. It was buffet style and there was such a range of food – the stocks cake, PEANUT BUTTER CAKE (no really) and the chocolate balls were my favourite. I couldn’t move after this party haha. The songs were bangin too. The party was like 4 hours but it flew by (maybe it was the alcohol) and we all got to take home leftover food haha. Then after the party (around 11.30 – 12) we drove to Catherine’s house in New Jersey and got our PJ’s on and then embarked on the two hour drive to Cape May, NJ (it’s the most southern point of NJ) and we arrived just before 3am. Catherine and her family have a boat out there and we slept on the boat for the weekend (it’s really nice – it was just docked in the harbour and literally has everything you need – I want a boat so bad haha). We went straight to bed because it was so late and then woke up early on Saturday. When we woke up, Catherine’s mum greeted us with morning Margaritas (i love her) and then we headed out for breakfast. We went to Raw Bar and because we’re surrounded by water (Cape May used to be called Cape Island), Cape May is huge on seafood. I obviously didn’t have seafood though haha. The restaurant was super nice and the food was delicious! It was so nice hanging out with Catherine and her mum the whole day! They had great coffee there too. We headed to the Emlen Physick estate after this and had a tour of the mansion – it was owned by the richest person in Cape May who actually retired at the age of 21 because of all of his wealth (goals)! The mansion was beautiful on the inside and we learned a lot of history about the Victorian era – they were into some pretty unusual stuff haha. It was really cool and I’m very grateful that Catherine and her family allowed me to come to Cape May, stay on their boat and act as my tour guide the whole time! It was so lovely. This is basically where they go in the summer – it’s like a little vacation destination. After this we got scones, tea, little sandwiches and cakes and some other rather British things in the merchandise store near the estate! We then continued on to the town and it was so cute – full of little boutique stores selling clothes, cupcakes and other baked goods, art and everything you can think of. There was a whole store dedicated to peanut butter (my dream)! Literally everything was peanut butter – spreads, cookies, cupcakes, chocolate, sandwiches, bars – I was so happy the entire time. Here is where I had the best fluffer nutter I’ve ever had, in my whole life! It was called peanut butter co. and I’m for sure, going to order things online from them haha. Is it sad that this was the whole reason I wanted to go to Cape May in the first place?! As soon as Catherine told me about this, I WAS SOLD. I also got a really great peanut butter cookie. I just freakin love this place so much! After this we went to people-watch at Congress Hall by the fireplace, seeing as though it was a rainy day! It was so lovely. Catherine actually fell asleep haha while me and her mum talked about everything! After spending a copious amount of time doing this (there was actually a wedding happening at Congress Hall so we watched a bunch of that), we went back out to explore Cape May a little bit more before heading back to the boat! Catherine’s mum and dad actually drove back home that night because they had to look after and feed their dogs while Catherine and I stayed! After they left, we went to get dinner at Panico’s Bistro and I was so happy that we did. This was easily one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. It was pretty expensive but I feel like it was definitely worth it – it was all Mediterranean food and it was such high quality food! Catherine’s food looked amazing but I personally had the house bruschetta (absolutely flawless), the fried eggplant pasta with penne (I liked it way more than I expected to – fried eggplant IS SO MUCH NICER than regular eggplant and the pasta was bangin) and a side of truffle fries. I genuinely couldn’t breathe for hours after this meal – there was so much food. I want the truffle fries now again just because I’m writing about them! The service was excellent here too – this was just an amazing place. If you’re ever in Cape May, definitely check out Panico’s – surprisingly a good amount of vegetarian options too! After this, we got tickets for a trolley Ghost Tour around Cape May at night. It was actually pretty scary because it was heavily raining and super dark out. I really don’t believe in stuff like this but it was actually a lot of fun just to hear about the stories that the tour guides were telling us and to get excited about the concept of something supernatural :’) After this, we just went back to the boat and watched ‘The Sandlot’ – this is literally one of my new favourite movies! It’s so cute and hilarious at the same time :’) The next morning we had to get back to Drexel for initiation of new members into Tri Sigma so we got breakfast and then drove back and made it in time, thank god. Initiation was long because for each new member it takes around 10-15 minutes… so we were there for a while. After initiation, we all went out to Qdoba Mexican grill and it was literally SO DELICIOUS. Something that pleasantly surprised me about Qdoba was the amount of vegetarian options. Places like this don’t usually have a lot of veggie options but this place definitely did! I got some sort of veggie taco and it was so yummy – I’ll definitely go back.

 

Art Museums, Philadelphia USA

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Taken with a proper camera, the view down Benjamin Franklin Parkway from the top of the Rocky steps at Philadelphia Museum of Art

So far I have been to three of the city’s art museums; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Rodin Museum and Barnes Foundation.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the city’s main attractions. It houses works spanning many continents, cultures and times, and in two visits I still haven’t been able to see it all in the depth I would like to. The permanent galleries are European Art 1100-1500, 1500-1850, 1850-1900; Arms and Armor, Asian Art, American Art and Modern and Contemporary Art. I also went to a special International Pop Art exhibition on the second visit. The museum is home to work by famous artists such as Duchamp, Braque, Cezanne, Eakins, Van Gogh, Dali, Degas, Matisse, Rubens, West, Van Eyck and many more. In and amongst the rooms there are pieces situated in time period themed rooms, which form a nostalgic surrounding in which you can take yourself back in time thanks to the atmosphere the décor creates. This ranges from a 12th century French cloister to a Japanese tea house. Part of the attraction is the building itself, which is modelled after the ancient temples of Greece such as the Parthenon. But the most recognisable aspect is the ninety nine steps that lead up to the entrance, better known as the steps that Rocky Balboa runs up and poses at the top of in the film Rocky; and the accompanying triumphant statue of him is at the bottom of the steps. The main highlights for me though are the paintings which can only be fully appreciated in their presence; and not through my dictation.

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Taken with a proper camera, a miniature version of ‘The Thinker’ within ‘The Gates of Hell’ at Rodin Museum

Less than half a mile down Benjamin Franklin Parkway is the Rodin Museum, which is home to the largest collection of sculptures by Augustine Rodin outside of his birthplace Paris, but casts of his sculptures can be found all over the world. Rodin is probably one of the most widely known sculptors and his work has made it beyond the art world into public consciousness. Among the most recognisable that are here at the museum in Philadelphia are The Thinker– a ruminating man with his chin resting on his hand and regularly used as an image signifying Philosophy; and The Gates of Hell– depicting the inferno from Dante’s Divine Comedy. His approach can be summarised as human forms in a true to reality appearance, translating inner expression and emotion into external posture rather than narrative and decoration. His work also has the ability to demonstrate motion, as well as a feeling of retention of the sculptors crafting and handiwork. Underappreciated in his lifetime, his style is now considered to have been revolutionary for the time and remains today a beloved sculptor.

Finally, next door and couple of minutes’ walk away is the Barnes Foundation, which is a collection of art that was assembled and founded as a museum by Albert C. Barnes, a Philadelphian physician, chemist and art collector. Set in modern building and grounds, the work is laid out in the style of old fashioned galleries, with paintings scattered all over the walls in ensembles through a series of rooms. On display there are plenty of Renoirs, Cezannes and Matisses, along with much more including work by recognisable names such as Monet, Seurat, Van Gogh, Rousseau, Courbet, Titian and Picasso. Alongside the paintings are other artefacts Barnes collected for instance Pennsylvania Dutch furniture, African sculptures and Ming era Chinese art.

There is still one more place related to visual arts that I still haven’t visited yet which is a separate part of and in the vicinity of the Philadelphia Museum of Art called the Perelman building. This is home to permanent collections of photography, costumes, textiles and contemporary design; which should be interesting to see once I can get down there.

Galaxy Classifying, Philadelphia USA

As the termJ213741.44+005316.9_standards classes approach finale, the ratchet turns on the workload. In one class I was required to give a presentation to the other 25 members and the lecturer; then field questions and debate afterwards. Mysteriously I ended up with the highest score in the class and enjoyed doing it. Apparently when presenting I have a latent ability to act as if I am a decent public speaker. My confidence is high about the exams in the next few weeks, but I won’t be claiming to enjoy them any time soon.

To distract me from this, as part of my Astronomy class I have been given the chance J223149.86+002649.5_standardto do some galaxy classifying, and as an amateur astronomer, this isn’t far from being my perfect job! Simply put, galaxies are be categorised by shape (elliptical, spiral, irregular), bars, arms, bulges; then individual variances such as signs of tidal debris, merging, gravitational lensing and young star formation. Satellites take photographs some of the millions of visible unknown galaxies, but professional astronomers do
not have time to sit and classify these when their time is better spent on other research. It is also not difficult once you know how to do it, so would be a waste of their talents. Because of this, the banks of photographs are available to be clJ223002.77-001652.5_standardassified by the amateurs, this is called citizen science. As a result I’ll be spending until the end of term at least on voluntary classification projects such as Illustris and DECaLS. So I am quite proud to contribute to scientific research and discoveries, while aiding professional researchers with contributions to publications; and if I am very fortunate I could get my name in a research paper. What a pleasure it is to actively engaging in my greatest passion. The pictures are a few examples.

Franklin Institute, Philadelphia USA

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Ben Franklin’s writings on electricity

I recently visited the Franklin Institute, Philadelphia’s famed science museum, a 30 minute walk from University City.

Initially I headed for the planetarium for a few shows. The first was named ‘Dark Universe’, narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson. The show covered some of the fundamentals of astrophysics and cosmology such as the Big Bang, Galaxies and Planets; as well as two of the cosmic mysteries- Dark Energy and Dark Matter. Aside from the beautiful intergalactic visuals, I am quite good at getting inside of and sinking in to immersive planetarium dome experiences. The second show was called ‘To Space and Back’, reminding the viewer how many advances in everyday life and systems have origins in the innovations within the Space Industry. This engineering and technology used in space exploration and observation regularly filters down and benefits the applications and advances that become a given in society.

The museum is home to a giant Foucault’s Pendulum, which swings in between a winding staircase. This is a four storey example of an 1851 experiment by Foucault which demonstrated the nature of Earth’s rotation around its axis. The pendulum moves with the Earth whilst the Earth rotates beneath the pendulum and so appears to change direction over the day. This is revealed by the pendulum knocking down a circle of pegs one at a time.

Next up were the exhibitions. The Electricity exhibit was fascinating for its interactive exhibitions and historical artefacts. This featured some of the inventions of the cities Renaissance man Ben Franklin, including his lightning rod, the first practical application of electrical knowledge. Another pair of pioneers, the Wright Brothers, were centre stage next in the aviation exhibit. This contained original drawings of the 1903 Wright Flyer and the most intact remaining Wright aeroplane- the 1911 Model B Flyer. There were also some excellent aeronautical and fundamental physics interactive demonstrations, which I enjoyed experimenting with. The Franklin Institutes famous Giant Heart and Train Factory exhibit were just a couple more highlights.

Spending time reading every word of and playing with every exhibit meant the museum closed before I could see everything. The observatory and the Genghis Khan exhibit, among others, will have to wait for my next visit. On leaving, I was greeted by a full moon and city lights to saunter home under.

Week 29 in Philadelphia & Florida

Midterm week has begun and because it’s me, I obviously haven’t studied for any of my exams and I feel incredibly underprepared! I walked out of my exams feeling like I didn’t know anything haha. But I managed to get pretty good grades so I’m actually super happy about that, considering I was genuinely so not prepared! However, we’ll have to see how the rest of the quarter goes :’) Bernie Sanders was actually at Drexel on Monday holding a rally for the primary elections the next day. It was open to the public so I went (we lined up and waited for him for four hours) and it was honestly great. Bernie is my favourite presidential candidate and it was really cool and surreal to be at an American political rally. I honestly hope he wins the elections – I think he is the least corrupt candidate in America right now. Unfortunately, I think Clinton will win but I suppose, she’s better than Trump. Though I still really don’t like her or her policies. Anyway, the Bernie rally was really inspirational, honest, real and full of compassion, love and hope for the future. I walked away from it feeling as though the next 4 years for America might not be as bad as I originally thought! On Wednesday, Izzi, Bree and I went to Fishtown which was THE coolest place! It was full of old school bars and really retro alternative drinking establishments :’) It was so dope. We went in an arcade and played on old machines and it was so cool. We basically did a little bar crawl where we had a drink at each bar and moved on – it was so much fun. Izzi and Bree are the coolest people too (note: pickle back is DISGUSTING, do not try it) and obvs, we ended the night by eating copious amounts of fries (yas). 100% go to Fishtown if you haven’t been! On Thursday, Izzi and her friend who’s name I’ve forgotten (sorry) and I went to Cavs. I pregamed a little with James and the guys who work at Greeks (a pizza place James owns which also sells a copious amount of alcohol – literally everyone goes there) and that was pretty fun! Then we all met up at Cavs. Cavs was a lot of fun that night! Ended up being a super late one and we went to a frat house after and drank and ate more. I love that part of the night where everyone’s calming down from the hype and just being fat and talking, it’s great :’) And you never really go wrong with Cavs. I love that I literally don’t even show the bouncers my ID there, they all know me :L On Friday, I somehow also ended up drinking at Greek’s with everyone – again, super fun and just such a chill place. I wasn’t even gonna drink on Friday but somehow I ended up there and we drove to Center City as we were gonna go to voyeur (a gay bar) but once we got there, I REALISED I FORGOT MY ID. So annoyed. But it’s all good, it was pretty funny. I really liked just having banter in Greeks, it was a lot of fun! (No judgement for drinking 3 nights in a row please, cos it’s about to get worse). On Friday, Mick woke me up to go to Green Eggs Cafe with her – we’d been planning on going for a while so I’m glad she did haha. It was incredible – I’d go back in a heartbeat! It’s mainly breakfast, brunch and lunch foods but they do have dinner and desserts too (not to forget cocktails!). I had one of the best veggie burgers I’ve had in my life and sweet potato fries. I feel like I say that about a lot of the food I have in the US but honestly, words cannot describe the deliciousness. This place actually has great options if you’re a vegetarian! Angela, Sara and I, for some reason, then decided to go to ‘Fuel’ for dinner that night in center city. It was pretty random but again, this place is great for vegetarians! I had two burgers and two servings of sweet potato fries this day. ABSOLUTELY NO REGRETS. Saturday morning was ‘Quest for the Best’ which is my sororities biggest philanthropy event where a bunch of different teams sign up and participate in a quest which involves a bunch of different challenges and fun stuff to do. It was actually a lot of fun! Theta Chi won so props to you guys! The challenges were absolutely ridiculous, it was great :’) And I think we raised a lot of money, which is dope! We also got to take home a bunch of free food after the event which we didn’t sell (including a whole box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, cake pops, brownies, cookies, etc!). After this, Catherine and I drove into New Jersey for a wedding anniversary (despite being late) and guys, there was an OPEN BAR. It was so amazing! The wedding anniversary itself was incredibly beautiful – Catherine’s Grandma and Granddad renewed their vows and had the most beautiful ceremony in the most beautiful country club! The food was amazing (I was IN LOVE) and the drinks were literally incredible – Malibu bay breezes, champagne, martini’s, wine – what more can you want guys?! It was honestly just such a fun night – Catherine’s family are literally great. We all danced like nerds on the dance floor and just didn’t care what we looked like – everyone was in a great mood – it was truly wonderful. We watched Catherine’s grandma open their anniversary gifts after this and it was just the cutest and most emotional time. I actually cried at the speeches haha, they were so touching! We got up early the next morning and went for breakfast in a diner (Jersey are known for their diners and I can see why – it was amazing) and then me and Catherine headed to King of Prussia to do some shopping for Florida! We were originally going to go to Hershey Park but we rescheduled because of the weather. KOP is amazing – such a cool mall. I think it’s the largest in the state – it’s literally huge! We literally spent so much money, it’s shocking :’) We got a fair amount of stuff though so it wasn’t too bad! I love American mall’s, they literally have everything. The food courts are obviously the best part :’) I definitely need to go back before I come home to England. It’s the only place in the U.S. that has a Primark, I swear! I’m gonna miss places like American Eagle, Free People and cool quirky outlets like that! I honestly think I just like shopping and spending money :’) On Sunday night, we drove back to Philly and Catherine had her first chapter meeting as a new member of Tri Sigma! How cute haha.

On Monday night, Catherine and I watched the movie Mystic River – it was nice just having some chill time and not actually doing anything! Especially seeing as though this week has been really hectic in terms of workload – the Drexel shaft is so real. On Tuesday, Elisha and I went to the Max Brenner chocolate bar and restaurant. It. Was. Epic. I’d been wanting to go for a while and literally, everything is chocolate! You can get actual food too but people will often go just to order from the dessert menu (which is what I did). We’re already making plans to go back because of how amazing it was :’) We got a CHOCOLATE PIZZA (yes this is real life) and it was the most delicious, sweet, tasty thing I’ve ever experienced in my life – it was huge. It almost defeated me though because I also got a peanut butter milkshake – but because it’s me, I powered through! I felt so sick afterwards haha. On Wednesday, Elisha and I went for lunch at Zavinos and my friend from my politics class (Ejaz) randomly joined us – it was nice though. I love squeezing restaurants in between my classes :’) I swear all I do at Drexel is just eat out!?  I did a lot of Florida prep this day too as on Wednesday night, Catherine and I drove to and stayed in Jersey ready for our flight to Florida the next day, meaning I had to get all my stuff packed before Thursday! We flew from Atlantic City Airport on Thursday so it was just easier to stay in South Jersey so we didn’t have to drive as long in the morning! We went to Pennqueen Diner for breakfast before the airport with Catherine’s dad – it was really nice as our flight was pretty early. We flew to Tampa airport and then had to get an uber to Clearwater Beach as this is where we were staying! I think we basically slept the whole flight, which I love. As soon as we got there, we put our shorts on (the weather was absolutely beautiful) and went to explore and walk around! Clearwater Beach is perhaps the most relaxing part of Florida – it’s very chill, unlike Miami or Orlando, for example. It’s the kind of place you would want to take your family and kids – it was absolutely beautiful! The beach itself was voted the 20th best beach in the world (which I totally understand why) and it was just the prettiest place to walk around. I instantly fell in love with all of the palm trees, the streets, the clear skies – absolutely everything! We got ice-creams as soon as we got there (I got the gator tracks flavour – amazing! It’s like moose tracks) and we also went to Hooters! The first Hooters was originally started in Florida, I believe! Obviously I had a cocktail with my nachos! We sat outside and it was just such gorgeous weather! This first day we honestly just walked around, explored, saw all the stores and cool things to do and ate some great food! We got a little (very) drunk at night too and met some interesting people! Liqor stores in America are great guys. Is it just me or is alcohol in Florida super cheap? It was amazing just because I got to be with my best friend in the whole world (other than my boyf), in a beautiful place, in amazing weather, just having a wonderful time! I honestly loved every second! On Friday, we got up early and headed to the beach (after having breakfast at McDonalds :’)) and spent the whole day on the beach, going in and out of the ocean, making fools of ourselves and just relaxing and enjoying the weather. It was honestly lovely! That was… until we got home and realized just how sunburned we were. The sun was SO intense but we didn’t really realize because there was a nice ocean breeze. I cannot express just how red both of our skins were… Catherine was using SPF 100… wtf?! Mine was actually worse than Catherine’s and the next morning, I lay in bed and literally could not move. All of my skin ached. It was the most ridiculous thing I have ever experienced. Note to self and others: NEVER forget to re-apply. Because you will look like a lobster afterwards. No exaggeration. Anyway, we decided to drink the pain away and got a bunch of wine and cocktails for the night! We had a little pregame in our apartment and then went to a food festival (it’s like Florida knew we were coming) which was basically $30 for all you can eat and drink, from a range of different companies. We ate so much pizza and pancakes – it was great! We were pretty drunk too so the food tasted even more delicious! For some reason, we also went to Extreme Pizza at the end of the night to get even MORE pizza? It was a very food-filled evening. It was lovely haha. We got up early again on Saturday (despite the hangovers) to get breakfast at IHop haha – we each got 2 orders of food. It was great :’) Red velvet pancakes, double chocolate chip pancakes, new york style cheesecake pancakes and strawberry banana pancakes – I remember them all fondly haha. It was straight up DELICIOUS. After this, we lay on the beach again and relaxed – there was some sort of Hindu festival too on the beach – it seemed like some sort of celebratory parade. It was very cool to witness! We actually then went and rented out Jet Ski’s/Wave Runners this day; it was the COOLEST THING. We got our Florida boating license which is valid for a year and had the most fun time on them. I literally love Jet Ski’s – it’s the only thing I ever wanna do again. I just wish it wasn’t such an expensive hobby! After yet another really cool day on the beach and chilling in Florida, we went to Frenchy’s Rockaway Bar and Restaurant that night (Clearwater Beach is known for this place!) and I see why. Obviously in Florida people are huge on seafood (I personally don’t eat it but it looks pretty good) and the food here looked amazing – Catherine definitely enjoyed it. I ate so much still. I had cheese fries for a starter (omg) and a veggie burger for dinner (it was HUGE), along with the most delicious chocolate and strawberry cocktail. I was actually shocked at how nice it was haha. After we were able to breathe again, we went fishing on pier 60 (again, I didn’t, Catherine did) and I essentially just stargazed and looked at how beautiful the night was. I actually saw a baby shark die this night, which is actually illegal – you’re supposed to throw baby sharks back into the ocean if you catch them but this one incredibly infuriating and sick family, caught it and watched it die on the pier, which tbh, enraged me so much. I actually cried because I didn’t know how else to express myself. It was literally the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen – this family had children too who were witnessing this and they seemed so ok with it. If you wanna kill or watch a baby shark BE killed, you do you, but I almost 100% don’t wanna associate with you because it was literally heartbreaking. It may sound dramatic and you may be thinking “Oh it’s just a baby shark?” but that is an animal that has been murdered for no reason other than ‘sport’. And that folks, is under my definition of ‘fucked up’. I have absolutely no respect for people who engage in acts like that. Fishing, I almost understand, because you don’t kill the fish and they don’t have any pain receptors in their mouth; you just throw them back into the ocean. BUT KILLING A BABY SHARK. No. I’m not gonna say anymore on that but yeah, that sucked. Moving on, we had our flight back to Philly the next day, in the early afternoon. However, our flight got delayed by like 4 hours? I’m not sure why but wahey, extra time in Florida so we just kind of walked around, had some cocktails and enjoyed our last few hours there. We didn’t do anything substantial; just enjoyed the views and were pretty sad to be leaving! When we got back on Sunday night, Catherine and I were so sad. We literally had the most amazing time in Florida – it sucked to be back haha. But honestly, I love Philly so I’m not too bummed about it. Her mum and dad picked us up from Atlantic City airport and drove us back to Philly. And then we were back to reality and I had to go straight to a meeting with my group for a Politics presentation due that week!

 

In Aston as an international student

As an international student in Aston University, I have been staying almost 1 year now. I started from an English language course, which is called Pre-sessional course to my current master course in Aston University. During 1 year, I took some good impressions of Aston University as an international student.

Firstly, all of Aston staffs care of me as a home/EU student. Unconsciously, I had a stereotype about subtle discrimination for international students in other universities. Fortunately, it was completely different in here Aston. They care of all students as equal. I am hugely thankful about this.

IMG_0072Secondly, Aston has a couple of good facilities for international students’ studying. Normally, international students suffer from English language, and different studying type from their countries’. For those, Aston provides a free language center regularly by Aston Language Center. On top of it, those who suffer from their studies, they run Learning Development Center (LDC) for free for everyone.

For those reasons, Aston University is a good choice for international students who want to study in the UK.

 

The beauty of the nature

London is the most famous place for travel as a tourist. Surely, London is one of the biggest cities in the world as well as the best place you must visit. However, I may have to say that London is just a part of the Great Britain, in other words, there are such beautiful cities with nature all around the UK.

As an international student in Britain, I have been trying to be a wander. I reckon the best way to broaden my horizon is a trip and to know the culture where I currently stay.

IMG_2226 Edinburgh trip is the best memory for me and I recommend going when you have some time. Firstly, I love the architecture in the city of Edinburgh. The style of architecture is relatively different from England. It is more classical than English ones. And then, one thing I strongly recommend to do join a highland tour in Scotland. Basically, Highland tour is to see the nature beauty in Scotland, which is so outstanding. In addition, if you are lucky, you probably can see the Nessie.  I believe if you are the nature lover, you will love this place to visit.

Like what I said above, if you want to know and see more UK, then pack your luggage and be a wander.

 

 

Week 27 in Philadelphia & New Orleans

So Greek Week is in full swing here at Drexel and the PHC and IFC communities are not taking it lightly! On Monday, the event was arm-wrestling and unfortunately, both our lightweight and heavyweight competitiors lost! We were all there to support them but sometimes it’s just not gonna end well. Everyone was in main build crowded around and the screams and cheers were deafening! Each sorority/fraternity also had to create a tile that was designed and painted by it’s members and tbh, ours looked pretty bangin! Prior to this, Catherine and I got our FREE TICKETS to the International Ball hosted at Drexel – I’m not entirely sure what it is but the concept of a formal ball sounds fun to me haha. Despite the fact that I have no formal clothing :’) I tried to go give blood on Tuesday as this was also a part of Greek Week but I wasn’t able to because I was in the UK before the year of 1996 (I was born in 95) but I’m not exactly sure what the issue with that is? I’m unaware of any diseases or illnesses that were present at that time but hey, it still counts for our sorority because I tried! Mae, Monica and I went to a Phillies vs Padres game at Citizen Bank Park – super cool because this was my first ever baseball game! I ate so much freaking food. I had a whole funnel cake to myself (it’s basically just all sugar), a large NY style pretzel (I’m not sure why I love them so much because all you can taste is salt but it’s literally delicious) and a large cheese fries (bae). And of course, some cotton candy. I actually couldn’t move after the game but it was really interesting. The Phillies won but honestly they’re not the best team :’) But it was really cool, I actually genuinely enjoy baseball (and basketball!).  On Wednesday we had one of our biggest events – Talent Show! I skipped my 3 hour class (which I really shouldn’t have done) to go support the girls in the show but I’m glad I did because they KILLED IT. Their performance was literally so impressive, I was blown away! Our theme was Grease the musical and they literally looked so cool and put-together! We came 5th overall which is actually really good and a step up from previous years! Tbh, all the sororities put on a great performance and all o them were very impressive so the whole show was really fun! We all had cute outfits to wear in the audience and our own little dance moves to join in with. Thursday was the chariot race (we literally had a human in a small box that we pulled along and raced – it was quite dangerous in retrospect) and we came 3rd which was SO impressive! Some of the frats chariots actually broke and ended up running into people… but everyone was ok so it’s all good! Deviating from Greek Week a little, I did some shopping at Urban Outfitters and American Eagle (literally two of my fave stores) for Florida because I haven’t brought new clothes in forever and I didn’t actually buy that much but I somehow spent SO MUCH MONEY. Like you honestly don’t even wanna know the amount I spent! But it had to be done. I then came back and randomly booked a flight to New Orleans, Louisiana next week?! I know. My friend Chloe (she goes to Aston, my uni back in England but she came here for her placement and is now doing an internship in Chicago) messaged me and was like, ‘yo I have some free time next week, wanna travel?’. And while this was clearly very last minute, I had to take up the opportunity so we randomly decided on Thursday that we would go to New Orleans on Tuesday – Friday meaning I’m missing a bunch of classes; my professors are probably gonna be a lil annoyed! It actually wasn’t that expensive too considering it’s pretty south, so I was super psyched about that! On this same Thursday, another part of Greek Week was this 1 hour speaker we had to attend; the speaker was actually the coolest guy. He came on stage dancing and singing. The talk was basically about how we as a greek community should be working together to achieve things rather than working separately. It was actually incredibly interesting! One of the things I love about Americans too is that, while we were waiting for the speaker, music was being played in the auditorium to kill the time and a whole sing-along just started happening and people randomly got up on stage and started dancing, twerking, dougie-ing, wobbling, dabbing, the works! I feel like British people would have just sat there and politely waited in silence but no, everyone in the auditorium literally just got up out their seats and started dancing and singing! It was pretty hilarious. I love the confidence and lack of inhibition. Definitely an outlook or personality or approach that more countries should adopt! Friday afternoon I went to Elisha’s to watch a movie for our Criminology class (Frankenstein) but honestly we didn’t really watch the movie; we just chatted and had a catch up. It was really nice! I think I’ve already seen the movie anyway so it’s no big deal haha. My sorority had Arc degree in the evening which is essentially a formal invite for the new members; that didn’t take too long and it’s always nice to welcome the newbies! Always a little bit of a weird process though haha. Then straight after we had the all greek social at Cav’s meaning all the sororities and fraternities are represented there and we all get together and party. It was a lot of fun! Me and the girls pregamed a little bit before and got a bit jolly. I genuinely had such a good time and even bonded with some of the girls in my sorority some more and ran into some cool people that I know in other organizations. Genuinely just a cool ass night 🙂 I also got challenged to a dance off… and WON. Despite whatever Rocky says.. ahem. On Saturday, we had our Greek Week volleyball game and unfortunately lost to ASA but you know, you win some you lose some. The girls all played really well! Catherine and I went to Federal Donuts (ermergerd) and got some of the greatest doughnuts I’ve ever tasted. I was so genuinely impressed; they tasted literally delicious. Butter pecan, lemon meringue, black and white and strawberry lavender. Honestly they are UP there in the hierarchy of doughnuts! Then we went randomly to a continental restaurant (we saw it from the outside and thought it was a diner) and then ended up in swinging chairs elevated from the ceiling and around Chinese lanterns and stuff. We soon came to realise that we were in a really fancy and expensive restaurant in shorts, converse and snapbacks haha. A bit out of place but the food was delicious. Then we had the Pipino 5k run (aka the glow run) around campus so I went out to support Catherine and the rest of the sisters who were participating (and obviously steal some of the free food that she got for running); it was a pretty fun environment.  Sunday was the last Greek week event and it was Tug of War! It was so hilarious to see everyone on the volleyball courts just tugging a huge ass rope back and forth; it got pretty heated! The winners of Greek week were announced too (Congratulations to Phi Sigma!) and everyone kind of just relaxed now we all know that Greek week is finally over! It was a lot of fun though, something I’ll definitely remember from my time at Drexel!

On Monday, I surprised Catherine with tickets to the Phillies vs the Mets. She was like super happy about it cos she loves baseball and frankly, so do I! It was so much fun. We got mandatory crab fries with cheese and obviously a cheeky beer (the food and drink at games is so expensive lmfao) and we had great seats! We just had such a laugh being silly and cheering and being mean to the Met’s. It flew by! I love watching sports at games and just having a beer or two, best vibes in the world! Citizens Bank Park is incredible too! It was a warm summer night and it was just an amazing feeling to be able to be there! I did all my packing for New Orleans before I went very quickly, haha. On Tuesday, I got an uber to the airport and headed off on my flight to New Orleans, Louisiana! I went straight to the house we were staying at and met up with Chloe for the first time in like four months! It was so nice to see her again and catch up. We rented a room from a couple who have an air b&b type house. It was the coolest house; very Mardi Gras! It was very chic with lots of beads everywhere, funky colours, a cluttered yet organised look and honestly it just looked very alternative. It was so dope getting to stay there, really cute and cool place. I can’t express within this blog post just how incredible and amazing my experience and time in Louisiana was! NOLA, what a city! Perhaps the coolest city in the U.S. So overwhelming and amazing to have been able to spend a fair amount of time there travelling and exploring! As soon as I got there we went out for lunch and tried red beans and rice; this is a delicacy in NOLA and actually tastes really good. So simple yet so delicious. Obviously served with Corn bread. Then we went to the French Market in the French Quarter (we stayed on Frenchmen street so it wasn’t too far away) and the market was incredible; so large and impressive! We got pralines (another delicacy) and I got the peanut butter flavour; it was delicious! It was basically like biting into sugar and butter, right up my alley haha. Then we checked out the Mississippi river (damn) and explored the main areas of the French Quarter like Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, the Presbytere, the Cabildo, etc; such a beautiful place. Honestly one of the most mesmerising areas I’ve seen! We checked out City Park too which was a huge beautiful park, followed by Lake Pontchartrain. Honestly, everything in this city is phenomenal. We tried beignets from Cafe Du Monde (another delicacy – it’s basically a French doughnut covered in sugar) and they were fabulous. That’s the only thing you can get from Cafe Du Monde along with a special type of coffee; it was very French. After this, we checked out Bourbon street and Royal street. Royal street is the cutest street in the world – I wanna go there every single day. Full of cute little boutiques, cafes and street performers. It was amazing. We got dressed up for Bourbon street and went into a few bars and had a really fun night! We tried hurricanes, hand-grenades and strawberry daiquiris  – all staple drinks of NOLA! They all lead to some interesting consequences haha. We demonstrated some pretty crazy dancing in the bars and clubs – it was so fun! Bourbon street reminds me of a mini-vegas or a mini-AC. When you’re walking along, people on balconies in bars throw beads at you too so you can just collect them as you’re walking up and down the strip. Crazy! Honestly we had a blast. I love Bourbon street, we went a little crazy. Waking up the next day was difficult! On Wednesday we had a walking tour of the French Quarter and its history but I HAD to leave early to get food, I was starving haha. After this we explored more of NOLA in general and just walked around, that’s one of my favourite things to do in a new city! We went to the Fudgery and got the most amazing chocolate and fudge creations! A foodies dream! We had a bayou/swamp tour after this; we got a coach to the swamp and then went out on the boats to see some alligators and go deep into the South of Louisiana! It was such a dope experience. I got to hold a baby alligator on the boat; they’re actually the cutest things! It was pretty scary though haha. Definitely a must-do in Louisiana! After this we went to a free Jazz festival in Lafayette Square (Jazz is a huge part of NOLA) and it was really cool. We walked along Canal street which is like a main shopping area in NOLA and went to Popeyes for food haha. We also walked along the Riverfront at night and it was one of the most beautiful views in the world! Honestly, I wish I could have captured it on camera. I hate that you can never see how amazing things are on pictures! We just spent this night having a drink or two and walking around exploring. I love that you can drink on the streets in NOLA, makes travelling a lot easier ha. On Thursday, our last full day, we went and got breakfast at the French Market and sat outside. The weather was absolutely beautiful the whole time; about 80 degrees! We then caught the street car (so cool) to the Garden District (WHERE BEYONCE AND JAY-Z JUST BROUGHT A HOUSE!!!) and just looked at all the beautiful homes there, wishing we had the money to afford one :’) We saw the house from American Horror Story: Coven and literally freaked out. It was so cool! I loved the Garden District it was so beautiful. We walked back via Magazine street which was another cute little street full of cool boutiques and alternative stuff; really sweet and retro place. We then went and checked out the State Museum which was basically all about the history of New Orleans, specifically the battle of New Orleans! We then went for food (Chloe tried Gumbo, Jambalaya, a Po-Boy, Crawfish and a bunch of other specialties on this trip but I opted out because they’re not vegetarian), ate way too much and then got ready for another night out on Bourbon street! We headed to Armstrong Park first for some drinks and another Jazz musical festival! They happen every Wednesday and Thursday in NOLA and they’re usually free – how freaking dope is that!? We got a little tipsy here then proceeded to go to a Jazz concert at Preservation Hall (Chloe’s grandma had recommended it haha) and it was SO COOL. It was like $15 and you couldn’t take any pictures in there but it was really intimate and up close with the musicians; we were sat on pillows on the floor and requesting songs and they were just playing this beautiful Jazz right before us. It was incredible! One of those moments that you just know you’re going to remember for a really long time because it just feels so incredible. ALSO, the singer from Smashing Pumpkins was just chilling in the audience?! So I was like, hey, I’m a huge fan (I’m not really but they’re pretty cool), can I get a picture with you? So we all got a picture and had a little chat and it was so freaking cool. He’s such a chill guy, I was like, wtf :L After this we proceeded to hit up some bars and clubs, have a dance and boogie and some drinks. Of course, ending the night with too much pizza. We had to wake up an hour after we got back in order to catch our flight back to Philly! I literally fell asleep on the airport floor while we waited for our flight – that is how tired I was! Worth it though. We got back to Philly around noon on Friday and it’s a little bit sad to be back because now I have loads of work to do as I missed loads of classes but hey, it was an incredible experience! Chloe’s staying in Philly for a few days before heading back to Chicago for her internship!  Chloe and I spoke a lot about how we don’t have as much time left in the states as we would like; we got a little bit sad about the thought of coming back to England but I’m not gonna let it get me down just yet, I have a fair amount of time left! I just love how much I’ve been able to travel and the things I’ve gotten to see and do have been absolutely amazing. It’s felt so normal but crazy at the same time – like I feel like this is what I’m supposed to be doing and that this is the kind of lifestyle for me! Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t seen my parents in so long and I miss my boyfriend ineffable amounts – I’m so freaking excited to see them all again and just have catch ups but it’s going to be such a huge transition. I’ve become so accustomed to American life; I think it’s honestly going to be a culture shock when I go back to England! This has truly been the best year of my life, to date, it’s been absolutely perfect! Actually no, if Tom would have been here, it would have been perfect!  Anyway, now I’m back in Philly and instead of studying for my exams as I should have been, I went to Summit and partied with some friends. I’m genuinely going to miss Four Loco’s so much, I really want England to start selling them haha. This was a pretty late night! On Saturday, Catherine, Mick and I all went to the International Ball and it was so much fun! There was some incredibly delicious food (the pasta and chocolate cake were my favourite), some great performances from a range of different acts and great music and dancing afterwards! It was truly a lovely event. We got to get all dressed up too in cute dresses and pretend to be fancy! Mick was a part of the committee who created the event and honestly, they all did a great job! It was very impressive! On Sunday morning, I had to wake up at 6.30am to volunteer at the ‘For Pete’s Sake’ walk at Citizens Bank Park;  this walk was created in aid of someone who developed cancer (it’s actually a beautiful story) and I did this for my Sigma service hours. It was actually really fun – I gave fake tattoo’s to the kids involved in the walk. Sunday was actually also Tri Sigma’s founders day so there was a celebration regarding our creation and beginning! Genuinely so proud to be a part of this sorority! We formally invited Catherine to join Tri Sigma too at our meeting Sunday night – it was such a cute process haha.