ITS FINALS WEEK! And guess what, I’m not ready but I’m also SO done :’) Janelle’s birthday was monday so we went to Zavino’s with Linda, Chloe and Blair to celebrate! She’s finally turning 20, so young! (a) I got the gnocchi pasta and tbh guys, would not recommend, wasn’t amazing. I ate like half Janelle’s salad too and some flatbread, which was better. But I’ve been here before and I totally WOULD recommend the pizzas; their pizzas got game. Happy Birthday Janelle, this was a super cute night 🙂 On Tuesday, my British friend and I (Elisha) went to explore the Eastern State Penitentiary in South Philly which is perhaps the most influential penitentiary in America. It’s closed down now of course, and is a large tourist area. It was the coolest thing; we got to go around and check out all the cells (even Al Capone’s!) and death row, learn about the history and just generally get an more of an idea of what is was like to be held as a prisoner there. It was honestly so interesting; we’re both really interested in forensic psychology and criminology so this was like a really dope field trip, would 100% recommend. To refuel we went to Cosi Cafe in Center City and I had the nicest flatbread pizza, it was honestly beautiful guys. I know I talk about food a lot on these blogs but honestly, it is literally a hobby and passion of mine! On Wednesday I had the final instalment of my psychological menstrual study where they made me eat lots of food! I’m sad to see the last of the free food :’) The whole month before Thursday I was literally just so excited and highly anticipating the arrival of my boyfriend in Philly! He arrived at 5pm on Thursday and Catherine and I picked him up from the airport (he was waiting for us with doughnuts… this is why I love him). It was so amazing to finally see him again, I’m so happy he’s here! That is the only thing I would change about Philly, the fact that he’s not always here! It’s always so amazing when we finally get back together again, long distance is really hard guys 🙁 I can’t emphasize how great it is to have him here – I’m constantly a little bit heartbroken without him so this was like Christmas day x503573654. We went out to Wahoo’s with Catherine on Thursday and I got nachos because lbr, what else is a nacho-enthusiast gonna get at a Mexican restaurant? We came back and all got drunk together and bonded, it was great. I’m so happy Tom and Catherine have finally met cos I knew they’d be best friends. Mick joined us too and it was just one of those great nights where you all have political debates for hours and get really passionate about what you believe in. I love that so much! We all talked and discussed for so long, it was literally wonderful! On Friday, we basically just chilled out and me and Tom finally got to be cute together again, haha. I had my final exam on Saturday so I probably should have been studying but honestly, how am I supposed to do any studying while my boyfriends here?! We went to Mad Mex (I love this place) cos I really wanted a fix of nachos (again). After having pizza for breakfast, I decided that I was truly a disgusting human :’) Not to forget the 3 doughnuts from 7/11 after the nachos. No judgement guys. Saturday I had my final exam (I’M FREE), meaning Tom and I could FINALLY embark on our road trip and say goodbye to Catherine for the week!
On Saturday is where the best week of my life happened and began! So after finishing my final exam and last minute packing everything, we headed off to Washington DC (with a pit stop for cheese fries) and the drive wasn’t too bad, only about 2 and a half hours! We actually stayed in a Marriott and it was so beautiful and fancy; the beds were the most comfortable thing I’ve ever experienced and it was just wonderful. Beautifully designed rooms too. It was quite late by the time we got there so we went and explored Dupont Circle (which is kind of like a shopping district in DC but with other stuff there too) and got Krispy Kreme doughnuts and empanadas and kind of just got the vibe of what DC was like. It seems like quite an artsy and cool place; I never realised just how pretty DC was. The cherry blossoms everywhere are gorgeous. We really started exploring on Sunday; we went to see the White House and found a bunch of protestors outside condemning the actions of Israel and demanding that Palestine are freed. It was quite a powerful protest and it was really interesting to see the police’s reactions to this protest. American cops seem to enjoy showing people that they hold a lot of power and can do many things, even if they don’t actually exercise or use that power, it’s more of a show of muscle. Very interesting. The White House, United States Capitol building, Congress Library and US Supreme Court were all very incredibly beautiful buildings. Congress Library was amazing inside too! The Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool were so awesome; this was just such a nicely designed landmark and so impressively created. We also saw the Washington Monument (huge), Jefferson Monument, Lincoln Monument and Tidal Basin (very pretty). It was really dope to be able to see these landmarks in real life and not just on TV haha. The coolest thing of all though, is that we actually saw Obama leave for the airport for his trip to Cuba! His car was followed by like 2 police cars, 2 ambulances, a bunch of secret service cars and it was crazy! He just drove past us in a car (we think Michelle was in there too) but we were so close to him. Tom and I were freaking out :’) So cool. DC was such a cool experience. Our hotel was actually in Arlington, Virginia because it’s so close to DC so we actually had dinner in Virginia at Hard Times Cafe (it was like a diner, amazing burgers, pretty good fries) and then drove to Georgetown. Georgetown is such a pretty place with the best stores; they range from high-end designer to high-street. So random but I love the variety! On Monday, we went to the International Spy Museum and this was SO COOL. So interactive and fun, got to learn a bit about how spies will disguise cameras, gather intelligence and generally just operate. Pretty badass museum. I didn’t even know this place existed until we got to DC, so glad we went. We also went to the Roosevelt memorial, saw a little bit of the Pentagon (it’s hard to actually see) and I introduced Tom to Shake shack (most banging cheese fries and shakes ever). We seemed to get all of our food from Dupont Circle. A lot of time in DC was spent just walking around and absorbing what it’s like to live like someone from DC, it’s a very beautiful place! I’d love to go back. On the same day, we drove to Richmond, Virginia. We stayed in a little motel and when I first got there, I was a little bit scared because it looked like the kind of hotel you see in snuff films? Was quite a switch from the Marriott. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do. It had everything we needed but it just wasn’t the nicest quality; but I actually started to appreciate and like the rawness and traveller-esque vibe of the place. You get what you pay for! On Tuesday, before exploring Richmond, we got breakfast at the Waffle House (I wanna go there every day) and then headed to Richmond International Raceway (particularly known for Nascar driving). We had a tour of the track and got to actually ride around the raceway, was a very cool place! I love stuff like this, always interesting to learn about what goes down. We went to the Edgar Allen Poe museum which was very tiny and hidden away, it was a really cool museum though. Made me wanna explore poetry more and look more into his work! We then checked out the Virginia Historical Society which basically included a bunch of information and exhibits about all of Virginia’s history! Pretty interesting stuff. We went to see the Virginia Capitol (beautiful building, inside and out – we met the loveliest ladies who began telling us about how they met the Queen haha), Old City Hall and explored Downtown Richmond. I must say, I liked Richmond but I expected there to be more to do. I think that I assumed because it’s the capital, it’s the city which is most populated but I don’t think that’s the case! But I really did enjoy Richmond, it just wasn’t what I expected! We went along Monument Avenue which was a very beautiful place and then went and explored Carytown which was a cool and almost alternative-looking street full of different things. We went to a diner called Galaxy Diner and it literally looked like we were in outer space, so cool haha. We ate so much! We had your standard burger and fries diner meal each but with a huge chipwich dessert (ice-cream sandwiched by 2 big cookies and whipped cream, was delicious!) each too. It was so filling, just because the portion sizes in America are ridiculous. Couldn’t move afterwards 😛 Carytown was really cool, I would describe it as an alternative version of Georgetown in DC! We saw a theatre as we were walking down the street and that inspired some sort of want to go to the cinema! So we found one nearby that was showing something we wanted to see (The Big Short) and went and saw it! It was actually such a good movie! I love watching movies with Tom too. Very interesting movie, very political. Would 100% recommend! On Wednesday, we checked out of our Richmond hotel and drove to Yorktown (still in Virginia). Yorktown was actually a little gem, we weren’t originally going to go there but heard that it was really cool once we got there and it was AMAZING. It was like a little seaside town with a beach and lovely little stores. We had the best time! It was so warm and hot I actually got a little bit sunburned. We walked along Riverwalk landing, saw the Battlefield of Yorktown (it’s huge), saw the Yorktown Victory monument and just walked around the town. It was so beautiful and cute! Tom said he wanted to live there haha. Honestly, if you’re ever in Virginia, please go to Yorktown! We then drove to Williamsburg and everything embodied the word colonial! Williamsburg was full of people dressed in colonial dress, colonial food and stores, old buildings, performances and displays by people and it was just a really interesting and cool neighbourhood. Again, something we didn’t really find out about until we got there, really awesome place to visit if you’re in Virginia! We had root beer and butter toffee nuts from a colonial store and it was just so impressive! Yorktown and Williamsburg were some of my favourite parts of the trip! After exploring all this and walking around for ages, we went to 7/11 to stock up on food for our drive to Atlantic City! We stopped at Five Guys for fries and milkshakes too half way (we literally consumed around 6000 calories in this car ride, it was great. Side note: try the oreo cookie pieces milkshake with large fries to dip in!) and I just remember just feeling so happy and fortunate! I’m with the love of my life, road tripping across America, eating lots of great food, meeting lots of great people, seeing lots of great things and just having the time of my life! I honestly couldn’t ask for more! We got to Atlantic City pretty late as the drive was over 5 hours (it was so worth it!) and just relaxed in our (surprisingly very nice motel) with food babies, it was fab. Thursday was literally my favourite day ever! It was my 21st birthday (huge deal in America!) and I got to spend it in Atlantic City, with my favourite person in the entire world (who just spoiled me and made everything so perfect), while receiving loads of love from family and friends, exploring a new place and eating lots. In my book, that is pretty darn perfect. We went to Phoenix Diner for breakfast and got burgers and fries because what else do you eat for breakfast?! (May I note that we each consumed at least one burger and one serving of fries every single day on this trip – we didn’t miss any day – doing this the American way!) and headed out to explore. In the day time, AC looks like a really run-down version of Vegas. But at night, the whole place just livens up, casinos are full; it’s so busy and loud. Such a stark change. We saw the Absecon Lighthouse, went to Steel Pier and the Playground on the pier! Walked along the boardwalk and enjoyed exploring some of the casino’s and seeing what Jersey has to offer. It was a really cool and fun day! We went in the Trump Taj Mahal (obviously didn’t give Trump any of our money though), Caesars, Margharitaville and a bunch of other cool casino’s! Too many to list. Trump’s was actually the most run-down and least well-designed, in my opinion. We went back to the hotel around 6 to get all dressed up and lookin’ fab, while having a cheeky drink. Tom had reserved a restaurant (Mortorano’s, it’s fancy AF) and it was inside Harrah’s casino; it was so expensive and beautiful haha. Tom was inappropriately drunk by the time we got there, so cute haha. We had some more drinks at dinner and some of the best food! It was so lovely! We took all the cards that my parents, family and friends back home had sent me and opened them there, it was actually quite overwhelming! I opened a few cards and started to cry, I felt so loved and emotional haha. It was honestly just a perfect moment 🙂 Tom also gave me his birthday gift; he got us tickets to see a show in AC that night! It was the American Variety Show and it was actually so freaking good. We finished dinner and went over to the Borgata hotel (where the show was), pretty intoxicated at this point, stocked up with drinks and proceeded to watch the show. I expected the show to be good but I didn’t expect it to be quite as hilarious and full of talent as it was! Huge thank you to Tom 🙂 He spoiled me so much this day. He made sure everything was perfect and that I felt so loved! Truly the best boyfriend in the world. After the show, we went to a bar and a live band were randomly performing (they were so good) and we just had such a good time! We then went into another casino (I forget which one) and had some more drinks in a bar and gambled on a black jack table! It was so good, I actually won $40! How good!? We went home pretty late and got an uber back, stopping by a Wawa for drunk food. What a perfect way to end the night! Haha. The next morning (Friday) we woke up super early because we had to drive all the way to Boston! We had a helicopter flying lesson scheduled for me (Toms Christmas gift for me) but it got cancelled due to the weather! Meaning Tom’s gonna get a refund and get me something new for Christmas 😉 but we didn’t find out it got cancelled until we were already half way to Boston so we woke up wayyyy earlier than we needed to! But hey ho, we got longer in Boston than we planned so that’s great! We stopped over in Connecticut for nachos too haha. I’m not sure how Tom managed to drive on such little sleep, it was so impressive haha. I had cheese fries for breakfast just to soak up the alcohol haha. I actually love being in the car with Tom for prolonged periods of time, it was so nice to spend so much alone and intimate time with him! When we finally got to Boston, we checked in and again, stayed in a Marriott (it was lovely and so cosy!). We were both so tired though, we literally had about 4 hours sleep the night before! We then went to explore Harvard University and it’s campus – it was incredible! The architecture and buildings were pretty dope and the campus was huge. Very beautiful! We also explored MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and that campus was really cool too. Some very beautiful buildings and sights! I would love to go to an ivy league college, I can imagine that would be such an interesting experience! Then we went to South Street Diner (more burgers and fries) and continued to explore more of Boston! We walked along the waterfront/harbour. Saw the Massachusetts State House and Old City Hall. I really like Boston, it’s a very pretty and cool place! Great views and landscapes. I drew a lot of comparisons between Boston and Chicago! On Saturday, we checked out of our hotel and went along the Freedom Trail which was basically a trail which leads you through a bunch of historical sites and buildings in Boston, it was really interesting! We saw the Boston Common, Park Street Church, Granary Burying Ground, Kings Chapel, Kings Chapel Burying Ground, the Old South Meeting house, the Old State House, the Boston Massacre Site, Faneiul hall (cute market), Quincy Market (best market ever – I got Boston Cream Pie and it was delicious – this actually wasn’t on the trail, we just found it. So many foot outlets = heaven) and Bunker Hill Monument. Really cool stuff. I think Boston’s one of my favourite US cities. Along with Philly, New York, Chicago and DC! Downtown Boston is really cool. I’m not sure what I expected before I got there but I’m definitely leaving with good memories and a respect for the place. A lot of history (well, a lot for America) happened there! We also went and had a quick look at Fenway Park (home of the Red Soxx) before our drive back to Philadelphia (we had to return the rental car on Sunday). As well as going to Amsterdam Falafel for some damn good falafel! Something else which was really enjoyable on this trip was the petrol prices – we did a lot of driving and had to fill up 6 times in total, each time only cost $20! How amazing is that? $120 in total for the whole trip. This is literally amazing to me. I did not expect it to be so cheap; it didn’t differ much between states either. Maybe it’s most expensive on the west coast? The rental car we had was really nice too – a red Ford Focus. Definitely did the job! Tom and I came back on Saturday night and had some drinks together! Then spent Sunday eating even more food and exploring Philly (he’s never been to PA before), it was really nice! We had a few cheeky drinks again with Catherine, Janelle and Linda which was nice. I love spending time with him so much so I was literally heartbroken to see him leave – I literally missed him as soon as he left! I went with him to the airport at 3am on Monday morning and we both cried as we hugged and said goodbye. Hardest thing ever, leaving the airport and watching him check in for his flight back to England. The day always seems a bit more grey when I realise he isn’t there. 77 days to go until we’re together again! I’m aware that this sounds really dramatic and sad, and most of you are probably thinking “get a grip girl” but I can’t begin to explain how difficult it’s been, not being able to see your favourite person for months at a time. This spring break road trip was pretty perfect, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! Having said that, this general study abroad experience has been a life-changer! I’m glad I did it independently, it’s pushed me to do new things and reach new limits that I didn’t before think was possible!