Category Archives: Katie

The Windy City & Week 11 in Philadelphia

So on Monday at 6am, Nicole and I had a flight to Chicago O’Hare from Philadelphia – being awake at 3am wasn’t the best situation, but we had a lot of fun with it (I personally drank a lot of coffee and Gatorade) and we were incredibly excited. I actually fell asleep in the Uber to our hotel when we arrived haha. The hotel we stayed at (Inn of Chicago) was incredible – it was pretty cheap and what we got for our money was amazing. THE most comfortable double beds and the warmest/squiggliest bedrooms ever! A solid 4/5 stars – would highly recommend – especially for the traveller who just wants to come back to their room to relax after a long day. The location was also really good – incredibly central and most the things we wanted to do/see were within walking distance so this was really ideal. There were also a tonne of food stores nearby so this was perfect for a foodie like myself. On this first day, Monday, we walked along the Magnificent Mile (essentially a street/area of famous stores) – I think Chicago is an incredibly beautiful city – I expected it to feel a lot colder than it was, based on its location and what people have told me, but maybe I’m used to it, being British. I also wore 5 layers every day. I often felt pretty warm whilst walking about so as long as you dress appropriately, it’s definitely do-able. This is one of my favourite parts of exploring – just walking around the city and being on the streets, seeing what it’s all really like to live there. We walked along to the John Hancock Centre (specifically, the observatory) and this was amazing – I’m not sure how high it was but the views of Chicago were immense. Chicago is the 3rd biggest city in the US so this was breathtaking. We saw Lake Michigan and genuinely questioned whether it was the lake or an ocean – you actually cannot see the end of the lake, I was so shocked. Lake Michigan is the 3rd biggest lake in the US and I’m surprised it isn’t the first. We saw this numerous times throughout the trip because of how large it is – it looked beautiful from every different position/angle/place we saw it at. The observatory drew our attention to a beach nearby (Oak something) so after this, we went and checked that out – never have I ever before seen a beach with snow on the sand – this was beautiful – the pictures we took couldn’t quite capture the beauty of what we were seeing, unfortunately. We walked along the beach to Navy Pier (a similar concept to Brighton Pier, for those of you who’ve been to East Sussex in England) – a lot of entertainment, restaurants, shops, rides, etc – I had a veggie Chicago hot dog (they were highly recommended) and I must say, it did not disappoint. I’m not sure I could fully appreciate it though as I’d previously stocked up on Munchkins from Dunkin beforehand and was still feeling rather sick :’) After exploring Navy Pier, we walked along Michigan Avenue (this was our go-to street) and then went along the Chicago Riverwalk – the Chicago River actually runs backwards. This was a mesmerising view too – Chicago is incredibly scenic. Then, because Nicole and I are obsessed with food, went to the Corner Bakery Cafe – I got chocolate chip m&m Christmas cookies (there were like 30, I ate them all) and Nicole got pancakes – it was nice to warm up. We then got an Uber (we didn’t know where we were at this point) to Lincoln Park and found out it had a free zoo and conservatory, which we checked out. The conservatory is now one of my favourite places in the world – it was incredible – I want to bring my boyfriend back here some day and my parents. The zoo was pretty nice too – I liked that it was free as it suggests that the staff really care about the animals and aren’t doing it for profit. Having said that, however, I’m pretty against holding animals in captivity but I’m also for the idea of the protection of endangered or at risk species – I know that many animals live a much longer life in zoo’s but it’s questionable as to whether the quality of these animal’s lives are acceptable. So essentially, my stance on zoo’s are undecided. I got a little sad with the lack of space some of the animal’s had to move around, while I was there. But moving on, the park itself was wonderful. We had a good time exploring! There were copious amounts of Christmas decorations already up in Chicago too – which was odd as Thanksgiving hadn’t happened yet. It definitely made the city more magical though. Walking around at night was my favourite thing – it felt like I was in a movie. For dinner we went to Gino’s Pizzeria and obviously HAD to have deep dish Chicago pizza! It’s not an exaggeration when I say that this was the best pizza I’ve ever had – I actually couldn’t finish it – and that is very unlike me :L It was so thick and dense – I felt so sick about 3/4 of the way through! It was insane. The pizzeria was a really cool joint too – there were graffiti all over the walls, a bar, really loud music and tv everywhere – very cool vibes.

On Tuesday we went to the Field Museum of Natural History – this was HUGE. I’m super interested in dinosaurs so this was amazing – I actually love museums, I wish I could spend the whole day going through and reading everything that’s available but I’m usually on a time schedule, meaning I don’t get to see and learn as much as I’d like :(. We covered a lot of the museum though, really interesting – we also had lunch there (meaning chips and chocolate cheesecake – nutritional as always). We then headed over to the Shedd Aquarium (it was nearby) and I had similar issues to the ones I had with the zoo – there were dolphins, sharks, turtles, numerous species of fish and other incredible animals – all of whom didn’t have enough space and actually looked almost bored and sad? I’m aware that you can’t tell how an animal is feeling by looking at him/her but I really do not think that a huge dolphin swimming around in the same tank backwards and forwards continuously is having his/her needs satisfied – this must be incredibly frustrating. Things like this just get me so upset – I feel like as humans, we have a responsibility to almost ‘speak up’ for animals who can’t speak for themselves – this just wasn’t OK, animals should be free. For animals like this, the ocean is their home – not a tank that is too small for them so people can come by and take pictures. Ugh. I really hope that this aquarium is treating these animals kindly – you can never be too sure. It seemed like a well constructed place – lots of workers providing good quality care – but I can’t help but feel bad for animals in environments like this. OK anyway, we spent a long period of time in the museum and aquarium – afterwards, we went to the Willis Tower Skydeck (aka Sears Tower – 2nd tallest tower in the US) and this was jaw-dropping. This was 103 floors high and at night time with all the lights on, easily one of my favourite places in the world. You could actually see bits of Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Michigan from this skydeck (I also got a big chunk of peanut butter chocolate fudge and m&m fudge which made the whole experience way better). There was a glass floor which you could stand on too meaning when you look down, you just have 103 floors worth of space looking down on Chicago – scary and amazing at the same time. We stayed here for hours just looking at the city – magnificent. We then walked along and saw people ice-skating on the route home – this was truly lovely, especially with all of the Christmas decorations. This was when I saw James Maslow from Big Time Rush (those of you who have me on Facebook will know of my sheer excitement and disappointment that he was so close to me yet I didn’t get to see him). After this, we went to an Italian restaurant called Tre Soldi (it was way too expensive)but the food was exquisite – I had THE BEST Tortellini Pasta and then Biscotti for dessert – both of which were delicious. The waiter was actually Italian and Nicole is Brazilian and as an English person in America, we all chatted for a while and bonded over our international status and the peculiarities of the US :’) The Italian waiter tried to give me his phone number haha, but having a boyfriend, I politely declined :L This was actually such an interesting conversation/such a good time. After this, we walked around the city some more, trying to rid ourselves of food babies but instead, ended up getting some booze from a 7/11 and having some drinks back at the hotel – we were very tired and wanted to relax. I wish we had Raspberitas and Strawberitas in England, they’re so damn good. Nicole and I just stayed up for hours talking, watching TV and getting drunk – it was actually lovely.

The final day, Wednesday, we did breakfast correctly at Waffles Cafe – I had Red Velvet with cream cheese waffles – beautiful (and of course, Iced Coffee from Dunkin – extra sugar and cream!). We then dedicated this day to exploring Millennium and Grant Park. Millennium Park is where the famous Cloud Gate (or better known, The Bean) resides, as well as Wrigley Square/Field – I really liked the structure of this park as well as the art sculptures inside. The park is near the Art Institute of Chicago, which explains why all of these pieces of art work are here. Grant Park was just next to it and we got to see Buckingham Fountain and some other lovely grass areas – I really adore walking in parks, especially when they’re covered in snow. We then sat for a while by the Chicago Lakefront Trial, overlooking Lake Michigan – considering the weather was quite nice for Chicago, this was just a wonderful time to relax and reflect and talk. We then went and looked for the train station (Nicole was headed to Madison, Wisconsin) in a few hours so we wanted to know how to get there and I needed to find the L-line to get to the airport (it only costs 3 bucks on the L and it cost us 50 with an uber – lesson learned!). We then went and explored some more and of course, ate some more – cookies and bagels predominantly, was fab. When I got to the airport after, what seemed like the longest subway trip (there was a scary guy on there, seemingly very drunk, who wouldn’t leave me alone), I was alone and very bored – so of course, I got Cheeseitz, Gummy Worms and Reese’s pieces to keep me occupied – as well as talking to the random guy next to me about his Thanksgiving plans (meeting random people who are nice restores me). I got back to my apartment in Philly around 1am – not too bad. I still haven’t unpacked though :’)

On Thursday, I went to Camden and Cinnaminson in New Jersey for Thanskgiving with Catherine’s family – they’re truly the loveliest people! The food was ridiculous – tofurkey (yes this is really what this is called), turkey obviously, mashed potatoes, carrots, mac and cheese, stuffing and vegetarian stuffing, bread rolls, vegetarian lasagne, apple pie, pumpkin pie (my FAVE – especially with whipped cream and icecream) and a bunch more that I’ve probably repressed as the thought of that much food again HURTS ME. A lot of the food was homemade and it was truly delicious, so props to the fam for the cooking skills. We played Catchphrase after dinner and drank lots of Moscato (amazing) – lot of good banter flying about haha, I really had such a good time. My first Thanksgiving was definitely a success – I’m so thankful that Catherine’s family invited me around -truly had such a good time.

I came back to Drexel on Friday morning and the campus was so dead – everyone was still visiting their families for Thanksgiving or doing some Black Friday shopping – it was actually nice to see Drexel not crowded with people though, relaxing almost! I just had a really chill weekend – I got really ill at this point meaning it was nice to just have time in bed watching movies and eating copious amounts of junk, with not many people there. It was a very peaceful time at Drexel and was very enjoyable haha.

Monday was the start of finals week – this really lasts for 2 weeks though. This when all of our final projects are due and every student has WAY TOO MUCH work to be doing. While I’m stressed AF, I’m remembering that I’m not really here for the academic aspect that much but more so for the experience aspect, so I’m still having a fab time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still learning lots and enjoying my classes at Drexel…. haha. However, I haven’t done nearly as much studying or working as I should have been doing :’)

On Tuesday, Chloe, Erica, Mae and I went to a basketball game at Wells Fargo. It was the 76ers vs the LAKERS! It was incredible, I seriously had the best time. I’ve always wanted to see The Lakers and this so happened to be Kobe’s last game before he retired, so it got really emotional at the end when he waved goodbye – there was a tinge of sadness and beautifulness in the arena, was amazing. I was cheering for the sixers though, gotta support Philly seeing as though I live here now 😉 And we freaking won (feel bad for Kobe though)! Think it was like 103-92 so it was crazy. We had a bit of an interesting time trying to get to the stadium haha (THANKS MAE) but it was so fun, it was really incredible – I always love games in Philly cos they’re so intense and the fans are wild. I also get pretty into the games haha.

On Wednesday, Catherine and I (and also Chloe – a different one than previously mentioned) went to PUPPY PAWLOOZA! This was like a room with dogs at different stations and you could just go play with them, cuddle them and spend time with them to de-stress during finals week! We spent way too long here, it was incredible! I. love. dogs. I fell in love with a dog called Bear and just had the most wonderful time. Seriously, it was amazing. They were all therapy dogs so they knew to be relaxing and calming around people and they were seriously just the cutest things in the world. So happy I went – I definitely felt a lot less stressed after going! Haha. In the evening, I took Catherine to go see The Book of Mormon at Forrest Theatre – now folks, these tickets were expensive AF and we weren’t even very close to the stage so if you wanna go see this show, just be wary – it will not be cheap haha. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen (but I feel like I say that about all the shows I go to, I absolutely adore em).  It was pretty hilarious – very energetic and captivating performances from the cast; absolutely great story too. As an agnostic, it was great to see a story which almost mocked the literal interpretation that followers will take of their religious readings. I think the general take-away message from the play was to essentially not take religion so seriously and if anything, to take it metaphorically when it’s applicable to your every-day life. I personally respect if someone wants to follow a certain religion and adhere to those beliefs and lifestyle but I don’t believe or disbelieve the idea that there is a God or any other non-physical/non-material existences past what we currently know, so I’m still open to what other people have to say on the matter as I’m fairly undecided myself. The play was very funny though and talked of how people who claim to follow religion so strongly will then go on to have their doubts too, even though they continue on preaching and attempting to convert others.

On Thursday, Linda, Emily, Rovi and I went to a Drag Queen show – it was incredible. So so so fun  – drag queen acts always are. Very sassy and fierce – love it! It was free too cos it was hosted by CAB I think? Really great entertainment, I’m glad I went! It was an incredibly odd show, very unlike anything else I’ve seen, but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Haha. Then on Thursday evening, Catherine, Janelle and I unexpectedly went to Cavs – we were all monging out at 11pm being fat when my friend invited us, so we got ready super quick and went. It was a super fun night – I spent way too much money though, I just brought everyone shots cos I kept seeing a bunch of people I knew! Was an awesome evening though – super late night (I certainly felt this the next day). I always love Cavs though cos it’s just so lit but chill at the same time – music is always pretty on point and the people are always great. I always meet a bunch of international students there, never fails to be an interesting night.

On Friday evening, Chloe asked if I wanted to go to a Penn party and Penn parties are supposed to be substantially better than Drexel parties so I was like, hell yeah!? It definitely had a different vibe to Drexel parties – we pregamed a little at Chloe’s, then beforehand at a random apartment near Penn (it was actually a birthday party – THEY HAD CAKE) and then we headed to the actual party where myself and Chloe personally drank the entire keg to ourselves cos we bonded with the British guy giving out the drinks haha. Penn is definitely a bit more grimey than Drexel – very sweaty, couldn’t move much, everyone was dancing and grinding – very much like a club scene. It was really fun though – all of Chloe’s friends were super nice so I’m glad I met them. Me and Chloe just drunkenly wondered off from the party near the end, back to Drexel, checking out the frat scene and stealing some of their drinks – was a good way to end the evening haha. Ended up being a pretty late night (all of my nights are these days – I should probably remember that it’s finals week and I need to do some studying?!). I’m really gonna miss Chloe when she goes to Chicago after Christmas break – she’s leaving Drexel 🙁 my favourite Brit.

On Saturday morning, way too early, some friends and I decided to go to a shooting range near Allentown (we decided at 4am the night before that it would be a good idea to fire some dangerous weaponry with a killer hangover) so I essentially had 4 hours sleep and then we were on the road. I love long car rides and it was nice to be back in a car and not on public transport for once – we got lunch on the way (from the BEST. SANDWICH. SHOP. EVER), picked up some guns and required accessories and hit the range. It was actually really fun – I really enjoyed shooting the guns, definitely wanna do it again and improve. Felt VERY American (it’s crazy that owning a gun is legal here). I especially liked the AK47 and the P200 (I think?). We also got some dinner on the way back and had some chill drinks back in Philly (it’s almost concerning that drinking 3 times a week is so normal now!) and it was just a nice chill evening, compared to the 2 previous nights of craziness haha.

On Sunday morning (more so, Sunday afternoon), a bunch of friends and I got some breakfast at Oregon Diner in South Philly and I had the BEST chocolate chip pancakes – I 100% need this for breakfast on the daily. I’m super happy with the friends I’ve made here at Drexel – like there’s copious amounts of them and they’re all incredible individuals. I’m truly gonna miss this place – been feeling emotional about it somewhat lately :’) I can’t wait to get back home and see my boyfriend but I also really love my life here – I wish he could be here with me! As you can probably tell, I’m not really doing much work or non-enjoyable things – everything’s pretty fun right now, which I love!

Just a random side note, I’ve become obsessed with F’Real milkshakes – every. single. goddamn. flavour. is. amazing. The only problem is they’re all at least 700 calories and I’ve started having at least one a day :/  I genuinely have not eaten anything healthy since I got to the US and that’s a solid 3 months+! I’m very concerned about my health right now – I don’t exercise and I literally only eat food that is bad for me. Without even considering the waistline, just my general health is worrying. I need to start taking care of myself and my body but I’m living pretty recklessly and spontaneously every single day – I mean, I love it, I’m totally about that, but I don’t wanna suffer any adverse consequences as a RESULT of the way I’m living. I honestly cannot remember the last time I ate something that provided me with genuine nutrition and THAT, my friends, is an issue :’).

 

Week 8 & 9 in Philadelphia

So on Monday I registered to take new classes for the Winter Term and although I didn’t get all the classes I wanted cos they were closed up, I got some exciting ones I think! Forensic Psychology, Neuroeconomics, Introduction to Eastern Philosophy and Critical Reasoning – I’m combining Psych and Philo and I’m hella excited about it!  I also went shopping with some of the sorority girls (Emily, Maura, Gaby, Maria, Mae & N’Dea) and it was so much fun – we needed to get some white clothes for our sorority initiation the following weekend so thought we’d all go together and I literally love these girls – they’re so nice and hilarious – I’m so glad they’re my sisters <3 (I’m being cheesy AF I know). I’m spending all my money on frappuccino’s at Starbucks – legit, I’ve tried every Christmas flavour now and I’m obsessed (I have one EVERYDAY). I’ve also been spending money like it don’t mean a thinggg since I got here – I kinda need to stop that cos I’m gonna run out real soon haha. But I’ve seriously had no thoughts about not buying something cos it’s too expensive – my purchasing habit is becoming a real problem. I think I’m going a lil crazy just cos I’m in a new country. But yeah I got my whites and some slippers cos I love slippers. I had my first 5 Guys and it was freakin amazing – the fries at 5 Guys are second to none, let’s be real. And the veggie burger was one of the best I’ve had, ever. Also, random side note, the fashion and clothes in the US is SO MUCH BETTER than the fashion and clothes in England – I wanna buy it all but I’m not gonna be able to bring it back to the UK with me and I’m also definitely not skinny enough :’) On Wednesday morning, Catherine and I went into Center City again and I FINALLY got a US sim card and number – so glad! I now only have about 40 contacts (American bro’s) but I’m glad I’ve got it – gotta go around collecting peoples numbers now haha. It has unlimited texts, calls and data (1GB) for $40 a month, not too bad. We also went to Macy’s and there’s this lilac dress which I am honestly truly deeply overwhelmingly in love with – except it’s like 200 bucks and I can’t justify dropping that much on one piece of clothing 🙁 but it’s MAGICAL. Macy’s has my heart <3  Me and my wonderful boyfriend also had dinner together (we basically ate at the same time whilst on Skype) and this lasted for like 3 hours haha – this was cos it was our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY – exciting times. It was actually really nice, sucks so bad not being in the same country as him though. We sent each other gifts too, of course! He got me a personalized world map (you scratch out where you’ve been and it reveals a colour – I love it cos I love travelling and now I can track my travels!), a cute fluffy teddy bear (personal joke), a vase of red roses and some fancy chocolate 😛 It was an adorable gift, I love him ineffable amounts. And I brought him tickets to go see the Wizard of Oz together when I’m back in the UK – pretty random purchase, I know, but I thought that seeing a show with him would be cute and fun?! I also got a bunch of other stuff which isn’t exactly family friendly so I won’t mention it haha. On Friday I went to Center City AGAIN with some of my sorority girls (literally 3rd time this week) and we did some shopping, spent too much money and went to The Cheesecake Factory and no lie, this is my new favourite place – the menu is UNREAL! It has literally everything you could want – I was so impressed. I had a sharing platter of Nacho’s to myself and a Peanut Butter/Oreo cheesecake and it was honestly the best cheesecake I’ve ever had – the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted and I can’t say that enough. Seriously this is the best place in the world, I am so passionate about it :’) On Saturday I had my tri sig initiation – it was actually pretty fun. I was quite scared tbh cos the ritual procedure is very weird and unusual but it’s interesting and always a laugh with the sisters. I’m now officially a sister which is cool to say -it was a long ass day, I’ll be honest – I can’t really disclose what happened though. We had a post initiation CBM afterwards which was pretty short so that was good and then me and my ‘family’ went to Drexel Pizza with another family. I had a whole Pizza before initiation and then a whole Pizza after initiation so I was loving life at this point – there was loads of us on a big table with lots of food and with some top banter so it was a pretty awesome time. We hit Theta Chi afterwards for a bit of a party (I couldn’t drink cos of initiation rules but it was still fun) – super late night. Then on Sunday I had a meeting at Phi Mu and then ended up drinking somehow afterwards – my life is substantially lacking structure at the moment haha, it’s all incredibly spontaneous but that’s how I like it to be! This again, was a fun night.

On Tuesday, Linda, Janelle, Catherine and I had a ‘friends giving’ – so just Thanksgiving with friends.  It was super cute – we had so many leftovers and we all were in food coma’s – Thanksgiving done correctly! We gave little speeches about what we were thankful for too – how adorable 😉 These girls will probably be the thing I miss most upon my return to England. On Wednesday, Linda, Catherine and I went to the first Drexel Men’s Basketball game – it was the most fun thing ever! We brought all the team spirit haha – very much so like what you would expect – cheerleaders, dancers, chants, a lot of advertisements – I had a really good time. On Thursday, we hit cavs and drank WAY too much. Like we were gone – it was such a fun time though, from what I remember haha. On Friday we had the Tri Sig formal which was at the adventure aquarium in New Jersey (which is literally amazing – the best place to have a formal) and of course, my date was Catherine. Everyone was SO drunk – it was great. The buffet style food was not too shabby either – I ate a lot! And we danced so much, it was seriously just the best time, I loved it. My sisters are just incredible people – so happy I’m in Tri Sig! The DJ was KILLIN IT, my tunes came on, my feet killed cos we danced the entire night and it was just really fucking fun. I was so tired afterwards – can’t wait for our next formal tbh! So worth the 55 bucks. Anyone who goes to college/uni in America, PLEASE join a sorority – it’s one of the best experiences you’ll ever have! I say that from the bottom of my heart -truly, some of my fondest memories have been because of the girls in my sorority! But obviously make sure you like the sorority and click with them or it won’t be an awesome year! On Saturday we went to the second Men’s Basketball game at Drexel – we’re avid fans! I just hung out with Mick on Saturday night too, all the partying caught up on me and I needed a chill :’) And I basically spent Sunday preparing for my trip to Chicago the following day, very excited!

 

Week 7 in Philadelphia

Not an incredible amount to report this week in terms of school –  midterm exams and homework have been going on. The stress levels at American colleges are really high – people take college and education very seriously here, probably because it’s so expensive and so difficult to get into compared to British colleges (this is a fairly uninformed opinion, so anybody at a British college/university, please do not take that offensively). On Friday night me and Catherine went to a comedy show hosted by CAB at Drexel and Pete Davidson was the headliner – he’s a comedian on SNL and a writer for Comedy Central and frankly, this was one of the funniest shows I’ve ever been to – we were literally crying and couldn’t breathe – he was straight up hilarious. We were so glad we went – there were 3 warm up performers too who were hilarious themselves – I’m not sure who they were, I think they were pretty non-famous but props to them, cos they were awesome. Seriously had such a good time – I have really fond memories of this! We then went to a Halloween party and yet again (I was happily Super Girl twice), had an awesome time. Again, won’t go into the details of that cos fraternities and jungle juice are involved but it was literally super fun. It ended up being a really late night too – one of those where you’re totally messed up the next day haha. But the next day, Saturday, me and Catherine went to Cinnaminson, New Jersey (that’s where she lives) for her families Halloween party (this is right over the Ben Franklin Bridge, was a 20 min drive) and we helped set up the house (they had a horror house thing going on – it was highly impressive – I arrived and actually didn’t want to enter cos it looked so scary) and got ready there and basically spent the day preparing for that. We drove to a nearby complex to get candy and food and I got to see a little bit of New Jersey but I basically still haven’t seen anything of it yet – I’m excited to explore at some point (I know, ‘New Jersey sucks’ according to Americans but I’m English and this is exciting for me haha). The party was really fun – quite chill but people still got drunk and had a great time – we ordered way too much Pizza considering we had chips & dip, cookies, cakes, candy, cupcakes, etc – the amount of food I ate this night is actually shocking – those of you who know me know I love food but this may have shocked you too :’) And of course, copious amounts of red wine. On Sunday we came back to Philly pretty early and I met up with my friend Nicole to go see Independence Hall – this had been what I was most excited about seeing before coming to Philly – I saw the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution and it was literally amazing. We had a tour around Independence Hall and it was just the freakin’ coolest thing – seriously. I know America is criticised for its’ lack of history but the history in Pennsylvania is fairly impressive. We also saw the Liberty Bell – something I genuinely adore – such an awesome representation of freedom and liberty. I was so glad I got to see these things – if you ever come to Philly this is an absolute must! We also saw a little bit of Congress Hall but not all of it, I think? Was crazy. When you’re standing in a room that George Washington or Ben Franklin were once in, you feel a lil bit overwhelmed. We also went to Jim’s Steaks – some of the best cheesesteaks in Philly, or so I’ve heard?
When I got back I had an ARC session with the Sigma ladies which was pretty standard but then when I got home, my still yet-to-be-known Big had left me an awesome design on my dorm door – it was so cute! This was part of the build up to Big/Little reveal on Friday and it literally killed me not knowing throughout the week – I actually had no idea who it was going to be and I desperately wanted to know. What was worse was that Catherine knew who my Big was (cos she had to let her in the dorm to give me this stuff) and she WOULDN’T TELL ME -.- On Monday, she gave me some Cadbury’s Dairy Milk (cos it’s harder to come by in the US so I was missing it), Peanut Butter cups (for obvious reasons – they are bae), Diet Dr Pepper (fave drink ever), a handcrafted picture frame (for a photo of us together) and a cute little note!  On Tuesday I received a beautiful canvas and a handcrafted ‘violets’ box for whenever we receive ‘violets’ from a sorority member (this is essentially a way of saying ‘Kudos’). They’re super cute and I see that my big definitely stuck with the theme of purple as she knows that’s my favourite colour 😉 and on Thursday she gave me MORE CADBURYS CHOCOLATE (yas) and another beautiful canvas – so appreciative of this! On Friday night it was FINALLY the reveal and it was so much fun – I found out my big is a girl called Caitlyn and she’s so lovely and awesome so I was so happy about that! We went out to Savas with our ‘family’ (meaning my sisters, grand-big, etc) and I literally had the BEST veggie burger and fries. Like the ACTUAL BEST I’VE HAD- no lie. Love Savas! I really like my ‘family’ and ‘big’ so I’m excited for the year with these guys 🙂 My Big also gave me some more cute canvases and free t-shirts and awesome goodies!
Aside from the sorority stuff, on Thursday, Catherine, Will and I went to Cavs (my first US bar woop woop) and it was literally awesome – kinda grimey and dirty – the best bars are. Was really cool – cheap drinks, good music and a dance floor, awesome people there – was generally just a great night 🙂 On the Friday morning as we were walking back home, we FINALLY hit up Sabrina’s Cafe and I had a veggie cheesesteak which was DOPE AF with sweet potato fries – best breakfast haha. We stayed at Will’s the night before as we were a bit messed up from Thurs so the food was literally on point! Like D A M N. Philly food over all other food. On Friday night we went out again – frat party & porched – this was hella fun – met some seriously cool people this evening. Again, not too many details about this for numerous reasons but it was great – very late night again – they all seem to be ending at like 5am/6am. And then on Saturday night I went out again – another frat party & porch situation – same deal, met some awesome people, had a great time, drank too much – good stuff haha. Fraternities really aren’t how a lot of people would expect them to be – all the guys in numerous frats are absolutely lovely. Though the whole $5 entry fee for guys compared to free entry for girls is always gonna be dodgy in my eyes. Considering I went out 3 nights in a row I felt great on Sunday still? My ability to deal with a lack of sleep is becoming worryingly impressive. I had my Tri Sig meeting on Sunday which was fun. I’ve come to the conclusion that the quality of friendships in the US are way higher than the quality of friendships in the UK – thats based on my personal experiences though. I expected it to be the opposite way around but that’s really not the case – people really have your back here and it’s more like being a family member than a friend  – I really like it.
P.S. I only remembered/had time to do 1 blog post in the past 2 weeks but I thought this might be more efficient to collapse all my info from 2 weeks into a smaller amount than to drag it out with 2 diff posts 🙂

Week 6 in Philadelphia

Hi folks, so I’m pretty into midterms right now and it’s a stressful time for most people but I think I’m handling it pretty well and not letting the stress affect me too much, which is good! Don’t get me wrong though, I have TONNES of homework to do, it’s insane! I’ll get straight into the highlights of my week though…

Sunday we did our standard trip to Trader Joe’s for groceries and then had an ARC meeting for Tri Sig – standard educational information about the sorority and hanging out with the girls, was nice and pretty interesting. I have to do these every week to get information about the sorority, what is required of me as a member and get to know all the policies/procedures/workings of things – there’s surprisingly a lot that goes into a sorority which I think most people wouldn’t expect! On Monday – Wednesday we had a big/little event each night for Tri Sig – these were all basically opportunities to get to know your potential ‘big’ (which, for those who aren’t in the know, is a girl within the sorority that you’re assigned to and acts like a best friend, a shoulder to cry on, your go-to person when you need to hang out/chat and someone who showers you with gifts and love and awesomeness – it’s a big deal and a really cool idea) so you could think about who you’re most compatible with and who you think you’d be a good ‘little’ for. I only got to go to one of the events (the Monday event) as I had other commitments but this was really fun – we got lots of free food and I got to meet more people in the sorority – we played some games and it was actually a cool time. I don’t think I really mind who I get as my ‘big’ because I like everyone – I have a few preferences but I don’t dislike anyone so I can’t imagine having any actual problems with any ‘big’ I get. On Tuesday Tri Sig had a waffle fundraiser which I believe was very successful? $5 for all you can eat waffles is a pretty good deal though! I had to miss this event as me and 3 Brazilian people and 2 Spanish people (how cultured are we ha) went to see a hockey game at Wells Fargo, it was the Philly Flyers vs the Dallas Stars and unfortunately we lost 2-1 🙁 But it was still an excellent game and such a good experience – I love how seriously everybody takes their sports around here, it’s great – the atmosphere of the event was unlike anything else, so interesting. I actually really enjoy watching Hockey – I’ve never played it before but I’d happily go to a game again! Super interested and really enjoyed the experience, had a really good time! Then on Wednesday me and a few of the sorority girls did some voluntary work at Rubye’s kids, which is kind of like a homeless centre/organization and this was one of the most touching experiences I’ve had. I absolutely LOVED the kids there, like I made some connections with some of them and I actually didn’t want to leave, I had such a good time and they were just so wonderful and lovely. I felt like I was really making a difference by just hanging out with these kids and that’s the best feeling ever – they were telling me that they didn’t want me to leave and that they were so happy. Just being able to bring these kids some happiness and fun is honestly such a rewarding feeling – I really want to volunteer here again, I’m shocked at how amazing an experience it was. Seriously, if you can volunteer and help people at a homeless shelter anywhere in the world, do it – it’s rewarding and you’re helping so much in such a simple way! Anyway, moving on, of the evening we OF COURSE watched AHS – absolute favourite TV show and I can’t tell you why – it’s so messed up and crazy but I haven’t missed a single episode, I’m obsessed. Friday was the best night – a Halloween themed party and so obviously, I rocked up as Superwoman (cause what else would I have gone as?!) and it was such fun! It was a frat party so we weren’t allowed to take any pictures and I won’t talk much about the night but it was really great – me and Chloe had the smallest pregame haha of just the two of us (with Mick in and out – it was really fun) then everyone there was awesome; drinks, dancing, games, banter – pretty on point, had a really good solid night. Saturday I was able to rank my ‘bigs’ – this was a hard process but I’m fine with whoever I get so I’m excited for our big/little reveal in about 2 weeks! Me and Janelle were just chilling and eating junk together this night and we randomly decided to have a few drinks (despite how delicate I was feeling from the night before) and then that turned into us wanting to go out and so we found a party and got some other people to pregame with and met up with a bunch of people and the night was a really weird and a really cool one hah. I met like 5 British people this night – that’s more British people than I’ve ever met in the US in just this one night, was really interesting – and people from some other backgrounds in parts of Europe too. We got to a party and then they ran out of drink so we spent a lot of this night just walking around West Philly drunk and trying to work out where we should go – Janelle got a invite from a random guy on Tinder so after originally planning on going to a party there, we thought it might be safer to not do that :’) So we had drinks back in North in a guys flat and it was fun and chill, we watched a bit of American Pie haha. I ran into my friend on the way back and invited him too – very weird but cool night. On Sunday again, had another standard arc session with the girls – a good time again, really like these girls. Also, I decided I’m getting Dining Dollars so I didn’t do any shopping – thought itd be way easier to just go somewhere on campus than trek to TJ’s for like a mile (ok so it’s not that much effort really but we all know I’m a lazy person) – might even get to try some new food that way too.

Week 5 in Philadelphia

So on Columbus day (Monday), we finally got around to going to the Philadelphia Museum of Art – so big and so incredibly beautiful. I’m quite a nerd with how much I love museums so I really appreciated this – we got to see only about half of it cause it was closing so I hope to go back someday but it was literally so beautiful! An incredible museum, truly – would highly recommend that everyone who visits Philly goes there! We walked along the Schuylkill River to get there and that is such a romantic walk way – seriously, I need to take my boyfriend a long there :’) It was a beautiful day too in terms of the weather. If you ask me to go to a museum with you, I 100% will, I’m not sure why I love them so much? I love how central Drexel is within Philly – the location is very accessible for a lot of awesome stuff and geographically, I think it’s perfect!

On Friday me and some of the sorority girls hit Kiwi’s for some Froyo and I decided it’d be fun to have a bit of every flavour… until I went to pay for it and it was way more expensive than everyone else’s haha. It was so good though, I much prefer Froyo to ice-cream. All the girls were lovely too. I love trying new food places. Then on Friday night, we (Janelle, Catherine & I) went to South Street – probably the most dangerous time and place to go here but oh well :’) we went anyway (& survived!). The Subway at night is a very interesting thing to experience haha – keep yourself to yourself is all I will say on that matter. I absolutely loved South Street – it’s quite a unique place. It’s considered an ‘alternative’ and ‘punk’ neighbourhood/area and is known for its diverse chain of shops – there are tonnes of sex shops, pubs, bars, eateries, etc (kinda similar to Christiania in Copenhagen, Denmark, if anyone’s been) but a lot more metropolitan. Some of the thrift shops were incredible – I need to go back in the day to do some shopping – such a good mix of vintage and modern clothing/art, the prices weren’t awful either. I’m actually obsessed with the fashion in West Philly, I love how people dress down here, it’s just incredible. I personally wish I cared more about how I look – I used to care so much but I just can’t be bothered anymore haha. We actually randomly went to South Street diner and had a pancake date – we got chocolate chip pancakes which were so fluffy and delicious (American Diner’s are the absolute best thing) and it was just a cool time to have with my girls – you know those moments in life that you’re just really chill, vibing and appreciating what’s going on? It was like that. Very warm and comfortable but new at the same time – this sounds hella emotional haha but I’m just trying to convey that it was a really nice feeling and time.

On Saturday I did my first voluntary/charity/philanthropy work and I did it for the Lindy Scholar Science Saturday’s program – despite the very early start and my tiredness, it was really fun. The kids were so lovely and fun – and incredibly confident (I was shocked, I was definitely not that confident at that age). We painted, had a dance class, there was a zoo demonstration where different animals were brought in, there were different arts and crafts going on etc. There’s a minimum amount of voluntary work that is required to be within a society so this covered some of mine and I actually had a genuinely interesting and cool time – I think all the kids really enjoyed it too, which is what it’s all about! Though they could paint AND dance better than I could… I think I have issues :L On Saturday night, the parties around Philly seemed a little dry so we got a tonne of junk food (and I mean a TONNE – like I could not move afterwards) and watched scary movies at Janelle’s and had girly chats and stuff. Was really nice, I actually love these girls. I also did something pretty spontaneous and booked a flight to Chicago, Illinois with my friend Nicole haha. What. We’re heading up there before Thanksgiving – still gotta get a lot of the logistics and planning sorted but yeah, my bank balance isn’t looking so hot right now. BUT FORTUNATELY, I may be getting a student grant from Santander which I’m incredibly excited about – they contacted me and were like ‘based on your placement location and your academic performance, you’re eligible for our grant’ which I am so pleased with because I’m super poor right now and I just spend all of my money on copious amounts of food. So hopefully, I can actually afford the flight I just booked :’)

I’m writing this really early on a Sunday morning and I think today will just be spent having a Tri Sig meeting, relaxing after a really busy week and doing my weekly food shopping haha. Though I’m thinking about getting Dining Dollars? I’m not sure whether or not it’d work out cheaper or more expensive for me for the rest of the quarter… I may get them anyway just cause it’s closer than TJ’S! Other than that, just been hanging out with the bro’s watching American Horror Story and baking too many mug cakes that any one person should… And of course, going to my lovely classes and having lots of lovely homework. I need to start writing notes on my phone about what I’m doing throughout the week so I can keep you guys informed -I always forget. On the whole, I think it’s safe to say I’m having an amazing time – I love being in a different country and generally just experiencing everyday life amongst people of a different culture – I’m meeting so many people from so many different backgrounds and frankly, just getting the opportunity to interact with these people is a blessing. The only thing that’s put a dampener on my being away, of course, is missing my boyfriend. I feel like the year would have been utterly perfect if he’d have also gotten a placement in Philly! Don’t get me wrong, we speak every second of every day and Skype lots, but it’s just not the same :/

Week 4 in Philadelphia

So it’s become a routine of ours that we watch Scream Queens every Tuesday which I LOVE! Scream Queens is hilarious, in case you didn’t know – it’s also good bro time. It’s also like a ritual that when we should be doing our homework on week nights, me and Catherine just end up eating too much junk and dancing round the flat to old school rap. We’re also now developing a routine of watching American Horror Story every Wednesday – we watched the premiere this week and it was SO. DAMN. GOOD. Not gonna lie, 50% of the reason I watch the show is for Evan Peters and he wasn’t even in the first episode – gutted. Still, was really awesome and I’m super excited for the rest of Hotel, got a good feeling about this one! Moving on, on Tuesday night I had my first Tri Sig meeting and experienced my first sorority ritual – it was very interesting and scary at first as none of us had any idea about what was going on. We had to enter a room individually and then the ritual took place (not sure I can say anything about it so I’m not going to) and we got a Sigma pin to wear and it was like a really cool welcoming. All the Tri Sig girls seem genuinely lovely and just fun and cool people – I’m super excited to hang out more with these girls and they’ve been so welcoming and made me feel so comfortable, I really appreciate that! There’s so many documents and things you need to do to join a sorority so at the info meeting we got a little bit of extra info about this. Afterwards too, a bunch of the Sigma girls messaged me on FB saying they’d just read my blog and loved it – how cute! So SHOUTOUT ladies 😉 On Thursday we hit the Chinatown food festival – it was pretty awesome. I love Chinese food – I wanted to buy everything there! 🙁 Dumplings, Veggie Taco’s and Bubble Tea may be my new life sources. They always have really awesome pastry shops and bakeries in Chinatown too which I think we can all appreciate… on Friday we pregamed and then went to a frat party (I won’t list the frat’s name for obvious reasons) and it was freakin. awesome. Standard procedure of beer pong, stack cup & I think Mexico? I’m not sure what one of the games was called. The party was in a basement and the basement was actually bigger than my house – it was crazy – it looked like a rave in one room and that room was one of my faves. The house itself was crazy big, so impressive! We actually left the party half way through to get Pizza? Like this is the level of love that I have for food. We returned to the party soon after, obviously. I did my very first American keg-stand.. in a skirt.. I had to get people to hold my skirt down for me haha. I’m obsessed with Jungle Juice – which FYI, is actually evil. How does it taste so good with all that stuff in it!? In America, it’s very true that people drink a lot of beer – I’ve missed my spirits I’ll be honest but luckily, I like beer! It was a crazy night and I really enjoyed it – the girls there were the loveliest too! I’m gonna miss American frat parties so bad in the UK 🙁 Saturday day time Catherine went cray in Target and just got loads of cute stuff for our dorm – it looks so homely and lovely now – I’m like super impressed, this girl gets shit done. I woke up and all her family were just here re-assembling the living room haha. And then of the night, we hit Fall Fest which was AWESOME! It’s like a concert every year for Drexel students and this year we had Wiz Khalifa and Lil Wayne (how. cool.). Like, I’m gonna be honest, everyone was high… it’s to be expected if Wiz is in the vicinity though haha. It was such a good concert, like I thoroughly enjoyed it so much! There were also a few other less known artists like Mr Carmack (awesome DJ) who kinda got everyone hyped for the main artists – then we headed to an after party which was way too crowded and stuffy, so we decided to go to a different after party which was way better cause we knew the frat already. It was a really good party – I think it’s safe to say that British and Australians own at beer pong… sorry America ;). I’m eating so much food after parties, that’s like all of my daily calories and more. Sunday was just a day full of food – we went to Axis Pizza, Subway, Insomnia Cookies on Penn’s campus, Urban Eatery, 7/11, Sabrina’s, etc. Like, I am actually the fattest human alive rn and I’m obsessed with food – it’s a problem. Drexel’s gym is free and I’m not using it either haha – America is frankly, THE place for food! This all sounds really rushed, I apologise, I don’t have much down time so I have to get in what I need to say really quickly haha. I feel like because I live with my suite-mates in such a confined and tight-knit environment, that I have a closer bond with them automatically compared to my flat-mates back home. Like for example, walking round in a towel here and half naked is totally normal but it was a bit unacceptable with flat-mates in the UK. I prefer the vibe of this I think, it’s a lot more relaxed and there’s a lot of strength in the family relationship we’ve got going on! Also, side note, the weather seems to have picked up again, HELLO FLIP FLOPS! I love that I can wear shorts here basically all the time.

I’m now adjusting a little bit to the quarter system at Drexel – it’s really fast paced and I have a lot of work to do all the time, but I’m dealing. In finals week though, I think I only have 1 exam cause all of my classes are homework based so that’s good – means I have to revise less when it comes to it but also means I have a lot of work to do but I’m trying to just relax and enjoy the year and do as much as I can outside of academia – after all, travelling and exploring is what I’m here for! But ‘cause it’s my placement year at Aston, I’m assessed here at Drexel and then I have an assessment from Aston too – I would much prefer just one as this is unneeded extra stress!

Week 3 in Philadelphia

This week has been a crazy week of sorority recruitment! For sorority recruitment, we literally had to spend hours on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday choosing a sorority and deciding which one we wanted to rush! On Wednesday & Thursday, we went to the 6 different sorority houses (3 each day) and chatted with as many sorority sisters as possible and got a feel of the sorority itself and the girls in it – its super important that you’re really yourself during this process so you can see where you best fit and which is most appropriate for you! On the first night it was hard to decide which sorority I liked best but my initial favourite based out of the 3 I saw was Alpha Sigma Alpha but the other 2 followed really closely! On the second night, we saw the other sororities and I really started to like Phi Mu and Phi Sigma Sigma – at this point though, Phi Mu and Alpha Sigma Alpha were my top choices! They were all so physically flawless and beautiful, not to forget so friendly/charismatic and confident – I swear it’s a requirement that you need to be actually perfect in order to rush a sorority! On the third night, you got invited back to different sororities who ‘saw something’ in you – so you really had to impress people in this situation and leave a good impression and luckily, I got invited back to 3 so I did pretty well there. Unfortunately, I didn’t get invited back to my favourite 2 at this point 🙁 I was absolutely gutted but I continued with the process anyway as my Rho Gamma’s reminded me to have an open mind – I saw the 3 houses again (the ones that invited me back) and again, my opinions changed on each house – it’s true that it’s different every time – I think it depends a lot on which sisters you talk to too! This was when I went to Sigma Sigma Sigma, Delta Phi Epsilon and Phi Sigma Sigma. And then on the 4th night, you could be invited to a maximum of 2 houses (literally no more) and I got invited back to Sigma Sigma Sigma, who I liked a lot from the night before. So I went and spoke to them again and things changed again and I liked them even more – the more I spent time with these girls, the more I liked them! I really got on with the girls – they were all just so chill and fun and down for a laugh, which is a requirement if they’re gonna be my future sisters so I was happy that they invited me back. This day was such a long process – contracts had to be signed to say that if you received a bid from a sorority, you had to accept it and that you couldn’t join a different chapter and you couldn’t participate in fall recruitment and so on and there was just a lot of formalities and many girls! The following day was Bid Day – this day is really important – it’s when you receive a formal initiation to join a sorority! And of course, I received a bid from Sigma Sigma Sigma (AKA Tri Sig) – the bid process was actually cray, everyone was screaming and crying and running and laughing and jumping – it was definitely a day full of emotion. I met all of Tri Sig, we played games, we took loads of photos, we got given free t-shirts and merch, we ate loads of pizza and junk and then we road tripped it to North East Philly and went Roller Blading (YES, ROLLRER BLADING) and I really had a blast – it was so fun – the girls are all just so cool. This was my first time roller blading and I was literally awful, my sisters helped me out a lot but I was so bad! I’d go back though and try again, deffo a skill I need to improve :’) Generally it was just a wonderful day! I’m really happy with my Tri Sig choice at this point and I’m excited for the year with them! I have my first meeting on Tuesday where I get to learn all about Tri Sig and I’m rather looking forward to it! Throughout the week itself, things sometimes got intense – I saw many girls actually crying because they didn’t get invites from the sororities they wanted! It was actually really upsetting to see as all these girls were so beautiful and a lot of the time, the sorority recruitment system is based on superficial things – its genuinely such a shame. A lot of girls dropped out of the process too, it’s a really serious thing here and it’s been very hectic. I’m glad I can relax a little! Fitting in homework and classes with all the sorority stuff has been a struggle :’) But I’m alive so hey! The hectic-ness of this has been lessened by all the free food at the sorority houses – I’ve eaten so many cake pops, cakes, chips, chocolate and brownies – it’s been AMAZING. Nonetheless, I’m very stressed right now with everything I have to do… there’s a lot!

Other than the sorority craziness, not much else has been happening in my life – just had classes really and been hanging out with my friends. Me, Catherine and Janelle randomly went to a pumpkin painting session the other night – we literally painted pumpkins haha. It doesn’t sound fun but it genuinely was  – don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! Unfortunately this week, the weather has taken a turn from the worst! WINTER IS COMING! I was loving the Philly sun and being able to wear shorts at night but now it’s just cold and raining hard and heavy… it’s like I’m back in England! To each of the sorority nights, we had to dress up and be outside in the cold for long periods of time so we were all there in our cute little dresses and our massive coats and rain boots on top hah – I was walking round Drexel with a fluffy blanket all wrapped around me at one point – if you don’t get why we call it Hell Week then I don’t know how else to spell it out for you haha. And yes, that means I was literally dressed up for 4-5 days/nights in a row – that takes so much effort! At least it never rains on Bid Day! Anyway, I spend half my time just in Catherine’s room annoying her or in my room annoying Mick, it’s great 🙂 Or just eating too much food with my friends and generally not doing anything of much importance!  This Monday classes were cancelled because of a threat of violence which was posted online by an anonymous individual – luckily though, someone was caught at a university in Philly with a gun before he/she could do any harm. My uni took the threat pretty seriously considering the recent shootings in Oregon (the same thing happened with the threat of violence) and I’m glad that the security level here is so high! That’s something I definitely miss about England – the lack of gun crime! I’m really not sure still about my stance on the use of guns and the legality of them!

On a brighter note, I’ve decided that I’ll be returning to the UK for Christmas & NYE! I cannot wait to see my boyfriend! 😀

Week 2 in Philadelphia

So this week, classes officially start! I’ve really enjoyed having nothing to do but socialise and meet new people so I was pretty gutted about this but I’m actually fortunate enough to have been enrolled into some really cool classes this quarter – I’ve got General Psych 101 (it was a requirement and a precursor for the other courses I wanted to take which is why I chose this but it’s always good to broaden my general knowledge of Psych anyway right?), the Psychology of Sexual Behaviour (I’m really excited for this one – I’m glad I chose it too, my professor seems really nice and the material seems really interesting. The class for this one is quite small – 50/50 in terms of boys/girls too, which I found interesting as my Psychology course back in the UK noticeably has more girls than boys. I have a fair few questions about this particular topic but because it’s quite an unusual and unique aspect of Psychology, it doesn’t get talked about much, so I’m hoping this class will answer some of them), Death & Dying (I know, how cheery is that?! I’m very curious about this class because it’s meant to look at the psychological, sociological, philosophical, cultural and geographical aspects of what happens when you die, what people’s thoughts are on death and dying, how people react to it, etc) and Counselling Psychology (I thought this might be handy for a potential career in Counselling – this and Death & Dying are also quite small classes as they’re very specific classes. I think this might be quite hard work as there may be a lot of knowledge to take in but I’m hoping it’s interesting). All of my classes are really sporadically set out around campus too meaning it took me ages to find all of my buildings – the campus is huge and I had to ask so many people for directions haha. I got there eventually though! The immediate difference I noticed between UK and US classes in university is the amount you’re expected to participate in the US – classes are more like a discussion or a debate rather than a professor just standing at the front of class talking at you. You’re expected to contribute your own ideas, ask questions and start conversations – it’s very equal – in a way, the professor is more like your friend than your teacher, which I like.  Another huge difference is the workload – there’s always something you should be doing or need to be doing for a US class – you’re assessed in so many different ways and there are multiple assignments weekly. You really need to keep up to date with the course materials and make sure your learning is consistent and that you don’t fall behind – I was aware before I got here that the US system is more fast paced than the UK but when you’re actually amongst it, it can be quite stressful and can feel somewhat overwhelming. You also need to keep track of how you’re going to be assessed as all the assessments for each class are very different. Saying all that, I’ve still found time to watch films and TV with my bro’s and generally just hang out and relax. But maybe that’s just me hah. My schedule’s pretty good too – I have Friday’s off completely and on Monday’s and Wednesday’s I’m only in for 50 minutes! Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I believe are about 4 and a half hours!

The security at the moment in Philly is ridiculously high as the Pope is paying us a visit – the amount this has been publicised is crazy so you guys might already know that. New York is being pretty chill about it and just increasing security but Philly is going absolutely mental – the city is expecting 1.5 million people arriving and all the bridges are closed – it’s so hard to go anywhere or get in and out of the city at the moment. Luckily though, we have a 4 day weekend because of this haha. To get into the city centre the other day I went through security scanners – they threw away an apple I had in my bag incase I used it as a weapon? I know. On Friday, Me and Catherine went and saw Ben Franklin’s grave which was in Christchurch park (along with many other people who had died in Philly), The Betsy Ross House (amazing – I was learning some Philly history and Catherine was telling me lots too – Philly is probably the state in America with the most profound and interesting history – and the longest of course. I found this incredibly interesting and I’m really excited to learn more!), went to a Macaron shop and got one of every flavour (all of which were beautiful – pistachio, vanilla white chocolate, earl gray, coconut, lychee and dark chocolate), had some candy from a huge throwback candy store, checked out Penns Landing (really cool – there was an ice-skating rink and it overlooked Camden, New Jersey), went to the Independence Visitor Centre, Washington Square and Rittenhouse Square where we basically ogled all the beautiful stores that we couldn’t afford to buy from! Philly is such a beautiful place to live – truly, the surrounding area is quite breathtaking. Even the parks like Washington Square – they’re just full of patriotic artefacts and beautiful sculptures. We then checked out Carlos’ Bakery which if you know about Cake Boss then ya’ll should appreciate this! I had a Lobster Tail and Chocolate Cannoli (both of which are pastries with lots of fat and sugar – delicious). We also started off the day with a Salted Caramel Frappuccino from Starbucks and it was one of the nicest flavours I’ve ever had – another thing which I 100% believe should be incorporated into a British menu!  Anyway, on Friday I went to another Beta Theta Pi frat party – better than the first one I think. Met the best people there and had the freaking best time, like no lie. I’m not gonna go into the details of the evening but beer pong, chandelier, kegs, an outdoor balcony and then an adventure at the end of the night made for a wonderful evening, to say the least :’) The house was packed, I don’t think they expected so many people to turn up haha – such a good party, wish I had gotten to sleep though before 6am. Oh well :’) Frat parties will definitely be one of the things I miss the most upon my return to the UK.

On Saturday, me and Catherine just spent the day eating a tonne of junk food and doing absolutely nothing (fun but not the best choice when you have the workload I have)! We actually blew off another party to do that – how cool are we. We went to go to Drexel Pizza at night but it was closed (boo) so we hit Shakeshack and found this was also closed (boo) and then we went to 30th street station in hope that Wendy’s will be open… it wasn’t (boo) but THEN, Jersey Mike’s was open and we got hoagies and then I got a bunch of junk from 7/11. Luckily, Catherine’s dad is a cop and he got us into Jersey Mike’s for food after hours (despite us being in our pyjamas and looking awful) – her dog is a sniffer dog too, how adorable is that.

On Sunday, Me, Nicole, Ana, Guilherme & William all went to see the Pope.  You’d think I would have learned some Portugese by now, hanging out with so many Brazilians – I haven’t… Now obviously, as there was 1.5 milion people entering the city in order to see this, you can imagine how manic everything was – it took ages just to move. But I must admit, the city had organised it well – it was very well executed and the level of annoyance was kept to a minimum. We didn’t see the Pope ‘in person’ as you were required to have a ticket for that but we did witness the mass on a big screen in the middle of the city – it was very beautiful and everyone was very loving and full of peace and joy at the time – it was a cool thing to be a part of. I’m not at all religious – I respect religion and people’s want and need to follow one but I must say, I don’t engage in any religious activities at all – I just thought it’d be an interesting experience to see the Pope and it was! We also watched the solar eclipse at night by the fountain outside North – it’s a shame that the pictures taken don’t represent what we saw – things like that are so difficult to photograph!

In terms of food this week, I tried my first Insomnia Cookie on Tuesday and oh my god – genuinely the best cookies I’ve ever tasted! I’m absolutely starting a campaign to start up a store in the UK – I hadn’t heard of these cookies until I got here as there’s a truck on campus that delivers until 3am but I’m so glad that I found out about this early in the year – now my year can be full of Insomnia cookies. With the food portions and how cheap junk food is over here, I’ll be coming back 50 stone heavier :’) Also Peanut Chews and Scrapple – if you’re from the UK you may need to Google this, but we need these in the UK 100% – so good! Not to mention Dunkin Doughnuts – I had a Peanut Butter Doughnut Square yesterday and good lord, it was just immense. Anything with an abundance of Peanut Butter in its core is definitely appropriate for me. I think Cinnamon Rolls aren’t as present as they should be in the UK – they’re everywhere here and I’ve definitely taken advantage of that. Same with Hersheys and Ruffles – I’ve had about 3 large bags of Ruffles this week and I’m not sick of them yet. I understand why my British friends told me to bring chocolate with me cause the chocolate here contains SO much cocoa but fortunately, I like that and Hershey’s is one of my favourites brands! Though the Cookies & Creme are definitely better than the milk chocolate, no one can deny that. I’m also able to get my hands on Cadbury’s chocolate which I was told wouldn’t be possible so hey, I’ve got the best of both worlds here! I truly wish I could convey US food in words but I think it’s one of those things that you have to experience for yourself! Simply amazing.

The city of brotherly love

In west Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground was where I spent most of my days, chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool and all shootin some b-ball outside of the school … ok sorry, so I’ve officially arrived and now live in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania! How crazy is that?! I arrived on the 12th September and it’s been a crazy week, and by crazy I mean INCREDIBLE. I’ll break it down for you guys.

Sat – we caught the train from NY to Philly and then dropped all our stuff off at the hotel my mum & uncle were staying in in Philly, then we went to Walmart and got a bunch of essentials I needed to move into my uni accommodation. I was moved in by like 6pm that day – one of my roommates is moved in too but we’re still awaiting 3 other girls and we’re not sure when they’re getting here! My first impressions of Drexel were that the campus is absolutely massive – whenever I go somewhere on campus, I have to take a map with me because it’s so ridiculously big compared to back home – it’s very beautiful though. There’s so much here to do,  from recreational stuff, shopping, eating, educating yourself – it’s SO good. The weather in Philly is actually way nicer than the weather in the UK right now (summer weather) and everybody here just wears flip flops and shorts, which I love, cause that’s like my fave combo. Also, all the people in Philly are super friendly – way more friendly than New Yorkers in my experience – I think people in NY are too busy to have a proper conversation with. So many people here keep telling me to repeat words for them ‘cause they love my accent, which is such a weird feeling. Americans love the Brits, or so it seems – that seems to be all everyone is interested in – ‘omg are you British?’ has been said to me uncountable times – it’s actually super endearing. Also, everybody helps out everybody else, which I love – if you’re lost or stuck on something, people really do their best to help. On my first day I hit up Trader Joe’s which isn’t far from my uni – kinda expensive but the only options on campus are restaurants and 7/11’s, so for a proper grocery shop, it’s your best option (or catching the Sub), or alternatively, a meal plan, which I opted out of. My room is pretty nice too – big and spacious – it was a very emotional day on the whole.

Sun – this was my first time catching the Subway – way more complicated than the London Underground but once you get the hang of it, it’s not too bad. Me and my dorm floor went to the Pennsylvania Convention Centre (which is awesome) and Drexel surprised us with a really cool concert where Mr Sampson played (trap/dubstep, really good) and balloons were released from the ceiling and Mario the Dragon was loving life and it was all very crazy. This was a part of the Drexel welcome week and lets just say, Americans are a prime example of ‘Go hard or go home’ – it was excellent. Straight after that, we headed to the Reading Terminal Market which is actually a really famous tourist location in Philly, notably because it appeared in National Treasure (the film – loads of this film was shot in Philly) and it was probably the biggest food market I’ve ever seen. There was such a wide range of stuff to try, seriously, it was all beautiful and delicious and I want to live there forever. All this week Drexel was giving out free food as well (they clearly knew I was coming) so then we went back to Drexel and ate a lot… and I mean a lot! Trying TastyKake products and Water Ice were on my bucket list and they did NOT disappoint, so good! The US definitely have one up on the UK in terms of food. The amount of soft pretzel’s I’ve had since being here is just ridiculous, I love them so much :’) This first day, everyone was super excited to meet everyone else, and obviously very nervous. I met some nice people from Jersey and we all hung out after the food babies happened. Then me and my roommate Catherine went to watch the Dodgeball game and hit Shakeshack for some rootbeer and a peanut butter milkshake (FAVE) – luckily, the two of us REALLY get on, we have loads in common. Like in Shakeshack we had some deep conversations considering we hadn’t known each other long – we’re like 2 peas in a pod! I think I have a new US bestie (not to replace the UK besties, of course) – we’re exploring stuff together and having the best time so I’m super happy that I get to live with her this year – it’s going really well. We’re both quite apprehensive about the arrival of our new roommates but I’m sure they’ll be pretty cool people, I know nothing about them at the moment. The day has just been full of talking to new people and exploring everything Drexel has to offer – if you know me then you know I love meeting new people so this has been really cool.

Mon – so here I had to do a bunch of stuff for my international student status – I had to get immunizations (which took ages), sort out my dragon card (student ID), attend an orientation with other international students (all of which were really nice – we ended up playing a game of Quizzo and my team won the most creative quiz name and came second in the quiz itself – our name was Dragon Ball Z, cause you know, Drexel Dragons? Yeah we’re lame) and it was cool to meet people who were just as lost as myself :’) This all took up most of my morning and afternoon but then I hit Barnes & Noble to try and buy some Drexel merch (so expensive) and I got a couple things but not nearly as much as I would have liked! Drexel hoodies and tshirts are so cute, seriously. I skyped my boyfriend for the first time in the US and it made me miss him even more – 100% the hardest thing about being in a different country 🙁 but I won’t dwell on that cause I don’t wanna depress you all ha, moving on, Catherine and Janelle dragged me to my first Zumba class which was hard AF, but actually really fun when you do it with friends, so I wouldn’t mind doing it again. I ran into my mum and uncle too as I was leaving zumba – they’re still in Philly until Thursday and then they go home back to England. They brought me more stuff for my dorm – thank. god. I turned up super unprepared, as usual :’)

Tues – I had another orientation session today, which was really beneficial. Very long though. And I met up with my mum and uncle and got some essentials for my dorm and did some serious shopping – Burlington’s is perfect for that kinda stuff. I skyped some people and got emotional too, seems to be my life lately :’) But I’m actually dealing with being away from my friends, family and boyfriend a lot better than I thought I would be. I think it may be because I’ve been pretty busy and surrounded by people all the time – the minute I have nothing to do and think about things too much then I think the loneliness will strike, so I plan to keep busy. Though I’m feeling quite proud with how well I’m dealing with it – maybe I’m somewhat independent after all haha. Alternatively, some days I feel like an absolute mess without my boyfriend so, maybe not. Me and Catherine went to see Negin Farsad (comedian) this night and she was absolutely hilarious – she’s a writer for Comedy Central and has a film or two coming out and she was a very witty, smart, feminist and fair comedian – was a really cool night. I think people can learn a lot from going to her shows – would definitely give her upcoming book a read! On the way back we ran into the Jedi society and they wanted to teach us some choreography that they practice – this was actually really cool (cool in the ironic nerdy way) – I love the passion that these guys have! We then headed to a party that my friend from Brazil invited me to and I was the only British person there – this was the first time this has ever happened to me so it was such an interesting environment to be in. There were a lot of people talking Portugese then alternating back to English which was crazily impressive and then everyone else was American – it was such a good night! There was like the best vodka punch, we did sambuca/salt/lemon shots and then ended the night with some beers – very fun and met some awesome people! Conveniently too, I loved all the music – that always makes for a good night I think. I went to bed at 4am and had to get up at 8am the next morning though, worst decision.

Wed – I met some people who will be on my Psychology course today – my entire class seem lovely, as do the professors! We were all shouting out where in the world we came from and there was people from different parts of America, Singapore, China and other cool places and everyone seemed pretty chill about this but then when I shouted that I was from England, literally every single person in the class turned to look at me and smiled and was like ‘Omg hey!’ – I can’t believe how much American’s will love the fact that you’re from England, it’s really cute actually haha, I feel loved. We had tours of the Psych departments and the buildings in Drexel are very beautiful! Then me, Catherine and 2 Brazilian guys we met the night before (Pedro and Oscar) hit Chinatown and had bubble-tea in Tea-do (So. Freakin. Nice) and checked out City Hall, The Love Statue and just explored a bit more of central Philly – it’s such a beautiful place with really awesome history and culture – I actually feel really privileged to be spending a year here. Pennsylvania itself is massive too, Philadelphia is just one city within it – I don’t know where I’m gonna find the time to explore all this! We went to Independence Mall and played ping pong which was very unexpected but very fun (I was awesome, if I do say so myself) and then coming home, we clearly HAD to hit a street vendor and get a falafel sandwich – new favourite food. Chickpeas are literally life rn – if you haven’t tried falafel, go try it right this instant cause you won’t regret it! I’m sure it was only like $3 too, so worth it. We then had some leaving drinks of the night for Pedro as he was returning to Brazil after a year over here – we got into some serious talks about the fact that American’s call all biscuits ‘cookies’ – what up with that? Ha I’m kidding, but the differences between British English and American English is crazy – you wouldn’t expect it. Me and Catherine are definitely learning a lot about each other’s cultures and it’s really interesting. I’ve found that there’s always at least a small language barrier with everyone I talk to – even if they’re American and speak English, it’s still so surprisingly different. For example, American’s say roommate instead of flatmate, say 5.30 instead of half 5, say oats instead of porridge, say band-aid instead of plaster and so much more – the list is endless. Me and Catherine are at the point now where we’re just fully taking the mick out of each other’s accents – it’s wonderful haha. Anyway, drinks was fun – we played ‘Never Have I Ever’ and again, didn’t get to bed until 4am – my sleeping pattern is well and truly non-existent at this point – the sleep deprivation was very real.

Thurs – I had to say goodbye to my mum and uncle today as they were returning to England – my mum cried so much, which actually made me cry – I was totally fine until I saw her cry and then it was just awful. But it’ll be ok with time – I might see them again at Christmas and if not, it’s only 10 months 😐 But anyway, I had to get some test results today and then give them to Drexel to assure them that I wasn’t any sort of international threat to American students – thankfully, I have no diseases haha. Me and Catherine checked out the gym as it’s free for all Drexel students (how awesome’s that) and it’s actually voted the best gym in Philly – I can really see why, the facilities are unreal – there’s swimming, sqaush courts, a rockclimbing wall, standard cardio equipment, different weights and a bunch of different classes you can take, very cool. We then went to an astronomy observatory in one of Drexel’s buildings (and btw, the interior design of this building was ridiculously good, like, very astoundingly beautiful considering it was a university building) and looked at stars through telescopes and from an observation deck – there was also some awesome views of Philly as we were quite high up – really good shout going to that, I enjoyed it. We then hit ‘Night on the Row’ in our cute little dressed up outfits to check out the sororities (though I think frats seem more fun to join) and I’ve never met a nicer bunch of girls in my life – they obviously wanted us to rush their sorority but they all seemed so genuinely lovely. They were all so beautiful too, like I think it’s a requirement that you have to be flawless in terms of physical appearance and personality in order to join. Plus, Drexel has a strict no hazing policy, which I’m rather fond of! I’m undecided on a sorority at this point – I think we checked out all the houses and I can’t decide which is my fave – a few stand out but it’s gonna be difficult when it comes to rush week. I’m not even certain I want to join a sorority, they take up a lot of time and require a lot of responsibility but I do think it’d be a good idea. It’s ashame that girls can’t join a frat – all the frats were drinking beer, having bbqs, playing super loud music and video games, seemed hella fun. There was so much free food baked by these sorority girls; blueberry popcorn, chocolate covered pretzels, water ice, icing biscuits and cupcakes – I was pretty full afterwards hah, they were so delicious – it was a really good night.

Fri – today was a lot more chill than all the other days, thankfully. I got some more test results today, said bye to my roomie as she’s heading back to Jersey for the weekend to run a 5k (wow) and accidentally turned up to an information meetingt hat I wasn’t supposed to be at. I got to speak to my boyf a lot today with the less busy time schedule – so happy about that. I still can’t deal with the Philly heat – it’s so ridiculously hot and I was not prepared for this haha. So this night was pretty chilled – me and Janelle watched some tv and movies and just chatted in her room before her roommates arrived the next day! The interior design of her bedroom is so nice compared to mine, like she has tapestry and fairy lights and stuff. I  need to make a trip to Target and Ikea ASAP really.

Sat – so today I did my weekly shop at Trader Joes – considering all the stuff I brought should last me the week, it only cost around $50 – I was very pleased with this. Me and Janelle had to walk there in the burning heat – it was impossibly hot for Philly and Janelle wanted to get a taxi back even though it was like a mile away haha. Then we went out to get dinner and I found out that my roommates had moved in, Mick and Theresa. They both seem absolutely lovely – I’ve had a few conversations with each of them and these are the girls I’ll be living with in my room for the year and they genuinely seem wonderful – I’m very happy about that because living with someone you don’t like would just make for a really uncomfortable year. Then my friend invited me to my very first frat party (Beta something, don’t hate) and it was everything that you’d expect. We played UK vs US Beer Pong and guess who won? UK. We know our alcohol haha. We had some cool games of Never Have I Ever (this is a worldwide thing and I love that) and it was generally just a good time. Before going to a frat party you need to google the rules of a frat party and how to keep safe at a frat party – literally that is a requirement before you go because they’re not the safest places to be. I won’t get into that too much but make sure you check that out before atending one. After the party, the early hours of the morning, me and my friend Nicole stayed up pretty late having chats in my room and then we met up with some other guys and ended up stargazing outside – what a lovely way to end the night haha.

Sun – on the final day of the week, me, Ana, Nicole, G and 2 other guys who I’m very sorry to say actually forgot the names of (sorry guys – we haven’t spoke much) went to Benjamin Franklin Parkway and saw all the preparations for the Pope’s visit – it’s an absolutely beautiful park. It was gorgeous weather too which just added to the beauty of it. Then we took some photos outside of the ‘Rocky Steps’ (you know, the steps that Rocky runs up in the film – nerdy moment yet again) which is actually in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We also hit Shakeshack and the Urban Eatery this day but had to get back as we had a floor meeting with our RA – here is when something super embarrassing happened. Me and Catherine were a little bit late to the meeting and before we got there, our RA was apparently talking about how drinking is banned on campus and that it’s a serious issue and then when we got there, we had to introduce ourselves to everyone and say something that we like to do. Jokingly, the thing I said I ‘like to do’ was drinking – everyone in the room was dead silent because of what the RA had just said. Janelle however, could not contain her laughter :L I felt so bad when she explained what I just did haha. The RA was super friendly about it afterwards though haha and she gave us lots of cookies and I ate too many and felt sick afterwards. Me, Catherine and Janelle had some super interesting girl talks this night – some serious bonding went down, which I love. And of course, delicious chocolate chip banana bread was involved. I love these girls :’) It’s so nice having people that you can talk to anything about. And it’s a plus when they’re absolutely hilarious.

Sorry for the longness of this post – it’s been a busy week – I think from now on I’ll incorporate much less detail to my posts hah, sorry if it took you a while to read – it took me a while to write! I’ll try keep you guys updated in a more simplistic way from now on :’) It’s been a chaotic week.

The city that truly never sleeps

So after 6 incredible days in the Big Apple, I am now writing this post from my comfortable desk chair in Pennsylvania, already missing New York! I feel like my time in New York wasn’t enough – it’s such a huge city with so many interesting boroughs to discover and there’s still so much I have left to do and explore – I’d definitely go back. My overall opinion of New York was that it was an incredible city with such life and passion – we spent nearly all of our time in Manhattan and there was so much to do – we didn’t stop and I wish we had still somehow done more – though I honestly don’t think we could have fit it in! NYC TRULY never sleeps – everything is open 24/7, the roads and pavements are never empty (you actually can’t see the floor), there’s always hundreds of people in any one place – it could be compared to a form of beautiful chaos! If you have anxiety, best to avoid this city. People think New Yorker’s are rude but it could be argued that they’re just busy – there was such a diverse range of people – business men and women, people on vacation, teenagers and kids, you definitely can’t lump them into one category. I think living in NYC would be a very interesting experience and sometimes quite scary. I’ll give you some info about what we did each day – I think whatever I say will not convey the amazingness of the time I had there so you’ll just have to use your imagination for that.

Sun – we arrived on the 6th September and as soon as we got to JFK airport, we saw police officers walking around with guns – immediate difference between the UK and US, but weirdly, seeing that made me feel safe. All the police officers I’ve come into contact with have been absolutely lovely and seem to take their job very seriously – cops have such a bad rep in the US but even in educational institutions, they seem to do their best to keep everyone as safe as possible. So anyway, we got a shuttle from the airport to our hotel from a very angry but funny shuttle driver – everyone in NYC just beeps their car horn for no reason, just to show their anger at the traffic they’re sitting in (its crazy). Our hotel was just down the block from Times Square so we hit that up first and it was everything you’d expect it to be – crazy, beautiful and an actual form of madness. It was so bright, colourful and vibrant – there were so many people – it took ages to navigate yourself around. I was so impressed with all the LED displays, all the shops, all the people – definitely one of my favourite places in New York. Especially at night, when all the lights are on and night sky contrasts the colours, it’s such a beautiful view – I would definitely recommend everybody see this place! Obviously we checked out Hershey’s world (my new favourite store – so much beauty in one place – I couldn’t control myself), m&m world (same goes for this – the store in London has nothing on the NYC store – so big and so much crazy merch – I literally fell in love), planet hollywood & so much more! I learned that on the streets of NYC, everyone is trying to sell you something or get something from you so avoid all eye contact and do not stop to talk to anyone – it sounds antisocial but if you’ve got places to go, it’s just inconvenient. When you give people a firm ‘no’ though, they’re pretty polite and wish you the best with your day. We then progressed to the Rockerfeller Centre aka ‘top of the rock’ – this was straight up one of the most beautiful views I’ve ever seen – you can see all of NYC from the top of this, it was crazy. At night with all the lights in NY, you will not regret seeing this – being so high off the ground is kinda scary but we actually spent hours here just looking out at the skyline – I felt really lucky to see this. Radio City Music Hall was right next to the Rockerfeller centre and this was such a cool building too – NBC studios were nearby and there was crazy advertisements for upcoming shows and talk show hosts, it was all very Americanized. On this first day I also tried a soft pretzel (it was bigger than my head and so worth the $5, so salty and delicious, new favourite food for definite) and a slice of NY pizza – my friend suggested that NY had the best pizza and I have to say, she wasn’t lying. The food portions in NY are abominable but I love it! I couldn’t find a cronut (a combo of a croissant and doughnut) which I was really gutted about cause they look delicious and are a delicacy of NY. In the evening we went to the beautiful Bryant park – another of my favourite places in NY – so pretty at night time with all the twinkling lights in the trees and the cute little cafes – very romantic place and such a nice place to just sit and think, or even people-watch.

Mon – this is when we went on a boat ride along the Hudson River, it was so cool being able to see a bit of New Jersey too! The boat was a hop on/hop off water taxi so you could stop at any of the places the boat docked at if you wanted to, which we did. Also, the Hudson River is incredibly beautiful – it’s the river that separates New York from New Jersey; fun fact. We saw Tribeca, a bit of the High Line, went to Battery Park and couldn’t believe how squirrels and seagulls were so used to human interaction – they were coming very close to all the people and eating food from them – in England, squirrels always run away from people (or so they do in my experience) – we spent a lot of time feeding them haha – it was  a very beautiful park. We saw the Charging Bull following on from this and checked out the American Indian Museum too. Then we saw Wall Street, which, I’ll be honest, I expected more from. I expected a range of financial and business looking buildings but was quite disappointed when I found one stock exchange building – the surrounding buildings were still beautiful, don’t get me wrong, but it definitely was not what I expected. We went on labour day so there weren’t actually many people working this day, the area was full of tourists, but it was definitely interesting to see. Then we got back on the boat and saw the Manhattan Skyline (exactly as the pictures depict it, even more beautiful in person though – I had found that what I saw in NYC couldn’t be captured on camera – the camera didn’t even nearly capture what I was really seeing, you had to be there in person), as well as Brooklyn Bridge (it’s huge – I’ve seen this a few times and again, it’s very very beautiful at night when it’s all lit up – a must see!), Manhattan Bridge & Williamsburg Bridge (which are the two bridges following behind the Brooklyn bridge – again, a very cool thing to be able to see). We then headed to the World Trade Centre aka Ground Zero. There was a 9/11 memorial and museum and it was really emotional being there and seeing the beautiful waterfall that had been built in memory of the victims of this day – everyone showed such respect and I felt grateful to be able to see the area. The memorial was absolutely beautiful – everyone who had unfortunately died that day had their names written on a plaque around the waterfall. This is something else I’d definitely recommend you visit – very eye-opening. There were 2 memorials (where the twin towers used to stand) and ‘freedom tower’ has now been built, which I think was a great idea to do – no longer building skyscrapers would be similar to negotiating with terrorists so it’s a great act of defiance to have done that, I think. Then we saw the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island – it’s exactly what you expect, but smaller! It was huge, don’t get me wrong, but when NY is full of skyscrapers, it doesn’t look so big! She was very beautiful and the island she stands on seemed very cool – definitely a must see in New York – especially at night – like damn, everything in NY at night is just intensified – it’s incredible in the day but at night time, it’s somehow more beautiful! We were able to see Ellis Island from the boat but required a different boat to get there. We had a look at Madison Square Garden (it was huge) and generally checked out shops and the general surrounding area – there’s too much to note, we saw too much to mention – it was a crazy time. We were feeling pretty brave so we headed out at night time and saw the News Building (featured in Superman, my uncles obsessed) which was pretty cool, the Chrysler Building (which I would love to go to the top of – it’s beautiful), Madison Avenue (which is full of incredible shops and department stores like Macy’s – which is so expensive but so worth it), Fifth Avenue (which is full of smaller but still very expensive stores like Dior, DKNY, Kurt Geiger, Saks and a range of other places that I’m too poor to even pronounce) and we also got a night line boat taxi which took us round all of New York at night – it was very beautiful and very cheesy – the commentator on the boat kept playing emotional songs relevant to what he was saying about the city haah. And another of my favourites, we also went to the top of the Empire State Building – as good a view as the Rockerfeller centre in my opinion! You can go to the Empire State until 2am and it was really dark when we went, probably around 1am – it was breathtaking. It took us a while to find it with so many skyscrapers in the city and us not having a map. The kind of thing that you wish your loved ones were there with you to witness – it totally brought a new meaning to the song ‘Empire state of mind’ :’) We were so tired when we were there but it was definitely worth it.

Tues – we checked out Central Park and you can spend an entire day here because of how big it is – it has so much to do like it’s very own zoo or a taking a carriage ride around the entire of it – the perfect place to have a picnic! Unfortunately we went on one of the hottest days of the year and there was a lot of hills and a lot of walking and I sweat a lot. I loved all the nature and the beauty of it – you can’t fathom how big the park is unless you go see for yourself. I think its about 7 miles long – how crazy is that. We saw the Boathouse (featured in 27 dresses). Definitely one of the best parks I’ve been to – NY truly has it all. We saw Belvedere Castle within the park which was very beautiful, Strawberry Fields (which I loved) and is actually the place where John Lennon was shot – this acted as a memorial for him and was actually a lovely place to be – there was art all over the floor and people singing his songs – very cool. From nearby you could also see the Dakota Buildings (where John Lennon lived). The Plaza Hotel (yes the one from Home Alone) was right across the street from Central Park and we spent ages in there – we actually had lunch in there and I had the most beautiful quiche – it was rather expensive but it was good for movie fans. Such a grand and beautiful place – the film does it justice though! Central park was pretty far away from our hotel and because we spent such a long time there, there wasn’t much else we could do this day! We checked out some more the expensive large chain shops like Barney’s (Rachel from Friends yo), Tiffany& Co etc. On the way back though something really cool happened – an excited guy came up to us and was like ‘OMG THE ELLEN SHOW IS BEING FILMED RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET’ and obviously, everybody loves Ellen so we went over and MACKLEMORE WAS PERFORMING! I love Macklemore, how random is that?! So we got to see a bit of Macklemore’s set and it was free entry (it was outdoors) and it was just such a NY moment – very spontaneous and very crazy. Definitely such a cool night!

Wed – so here we took an open top bus tour (like major tourists) and it was actually really fun! Until it starting raining and we were outdoors… on top of a bus… wearing shorts and tshirts haha. But even then, it was still kinda fun, despite being entirely soaked through. We got to see some cool places like the United Nations Headquarters, City Hall, Chinatown, The Lower East Side and a bunch of stuff we’d seen while walking around – it was fun. Then we went to a typical American diner – the whole tipping system here takes some time to get used to – you literally have to tip everyone. But I don’t mind tipping if that’s how people make a living over here – in American restaurants, the food you order arrives soon after you order it – as someone who is very impatient when it comes to food, I love that. Then we had to rush home and get dressed into some nicer clothes as we were off to the Majestic Theatre (Broadway) to see the Phantom of the Opera – we saw this at the Birmingham Hippodrome and I was actually shocked to say that the Broadway performance was comparable to that of the performance in Birmingham. They were both excellent performances but I expected a bit more from Broadway – I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting or how I thought they’d improve on the one I saw previously, but I just thought it was really good but not amazing. I think perhaps my expectations were too high – but still, I would recommend, everyone should see a Broadway show at least once. After that, Ripley’s Believe it or not was still open, so we thought why not – it was such a fun time and a good experience! The stuff that you can do and see in Ripley’s is phenomenal – I was quite amazed actually. It was full of stuff that was genuinely hard to believe (hence the name of the place) and stuff that was just really fun to mess about with – we got some pretty funny photos using all the equipment in there. It was quite late at night too so we had the place to ourselves, which I thoroughly enjoyed haha. All I can say about this is that if you wanna have a good time, find a Ripley’s and go in with your friends – my mum screamed a few times because she got scared hah. Definitely made some good memories here!

Thurs – this day we went to NY public library – it looked like a museum rather than a library. The interior and exterior design of the library was second to none – so vast with such an abundance to do. This was the library featured in the film ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ (were all nerds) and it wasn’t just books in there but photography, cafe’s, sculptures, pieces of artwork – I could have spent ages there. Very beautiful place – if my library back home looked like that I’d probably read more. Then we checked out Grand Central Station – it’s huge – another place featured in many many films. I had a cheesecake from here and it was simply one of the best cheesecake’s I’ve ever had haha – I know that’s a pretty random way to judge a train station, but cheesecake is always important. Then we walked to the Museum of Natural History (Yes, Night at the Museum was shot here) and it was such an amazing museum – everything looked so real, I could actually imagine things coming to life at night! It was astounding, I see why they picked this museum for that film – I got a bit creeped out at one point just because of how realistic it was – if you can go here, go! Then we went to an Ice Bar which is, as you’d expect, a bar made entirely of ice – it was quite expensive and each drink was $15 – we got given these big winter jackets to keep us warm and I was relatively warm whilst inside, despite wearing just a summer dress. Being in a bar entirely made of ice was quite an experience, I really enjoyed it, the music was on point too. This is the kind of thing I’d like to do for my birthday with some friends – it’d be such an interesting pre-drinks haha.

Fri – today we thought we’d add some culture to the trip and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka the MET) and this was straight up one of the most beautiful museums I’ve ever seen – it was huge. There were so many different eras and a range of different artwork you could get lost in – I felt so cultured just being there. Before this we went to the Guggenheim museum, which I had been incredibly excited about all week as my boyfriend had highly recommended it – the building itself was really interesting, such an unusual shape. The art inside was very modern and very select – there wasn’t an abundance of art but a select amount of pieces, which I liked, it seemed to be the best of the best. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures inside which seemed understandable. I really enjoyed the artwork in the Guggenheim – there was a lot of surrealism and most of it was open to interpretation. The art in the MET was more diverse, however, if you wanted historical knowledge and culture, the MET was more appropriate for that I think. I couldn’t really compare the two museums as they were so different but I really liked them both – if you have the opportunity to go to these museums, I suggest you do. As our last night in NY approached, we realised we had not yet had pancakes! We had waffles on the flight over so that was covered but we needed to go to a diner to get pancakes with maple syrup, so that’s what we did. I had a veggie cheeseburger with chips (yum) and pancakes with maple syrup and butter – I was stuffed afterwards. I gotta agree though, pancakes in the US are better than pancakes anywhere else. I was so shocked at how big they were – truly did not expect the size of that. Before this, I had just eaten a peanut butter cupcake and a peanut butter chocolate bar too (America loves PB and thats why I love America) so I genuinely struggled to walk home! We then saw a ‘Toys R Us’ in Times Square and I’d never seen a ‘Toys R Us’ like that before – there was a life sized amusement park  ride within the store and an actual ferris wheel that went through all the floors – it was insane. If I were 5 years old, this would have been heaven (I’m just kidding, it’s heaven anyway) so if you have children, this is a good place to go for definite. Biggest store I’ve ever seen ever.

This was the longest post of my life but I feel like this somehow still doesn’t cover my experience in New York – it’s been an amazing one! If you have any questions, feel free to ask – I’m sure we did a lot more but theres just too much to write!