Back for more, Philadelphia USA

I will not be rIMAG0391eturning home during spring break, so it is now a straight run to the summer. I was quite ready for a break in order to regenerate. I hope this placement year isn’t a pyrrhic victory; in which I have completed something successfully but have exhausted my brain and physically aged by ten years in doing so; which is how I currently feel.

A useful mechanism for keeping mentally sharp is a varied course enrolment. The course balance I had during the first term I have continued in the second; two degree related to extend and reinforce my specialisation; and two that are either of personal interest or something completely new in order to take on a fresh discipline and / or plug gaps in knowledge.

Towards the end of January Philadelphia experienced its fourth largest snowstorm in recorded history. Over approximately 48 hours up to 2 feet of snow descended relentlessly on Pennsylvania, New York and the surrounding north east and mid-Atlantic states. The snow itself moved back and forth between gentle picturesque falling and an almost horizontally inclined blizzard. The result was an almost complete shutdown of the city- no transport, no people and no business; but provided abundant out of window entertainIMAG0375ment. A US snowstorm is far more dramatic and grand than a UK equivalent. It was even more exciting for some of my fellow friends from Brazil, for whom it was their first ever experience of snow. The amount of snow that fell was demonstrated even more once ploughed out of the roads and piled into the gutter reaching above head height, creating little walkways. Much of this snowy architecture still remains, long after it fell.

Happy New Year!

So I had the BEST winter break! It was honestly the most wonderful Christmas and New Years Eve that I’ve ever had. I had about 3 weeks at home in England and it was just so lovely. It was so incredible to be back with Tom, my family and my friends (not to forget Molly). It was honestly just fun-packed and highly eventful – I did something every single day and remained quite busy throughout, with it still being really non-stressful, which I love. I got to spend a whole week with my boyfriend which made me the happiest person alive cos I miss him so much (seriously, being apart from him has literally been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done)! And I got to spend loads of time with my family and have catch ups with some old friends, and of course, party quite a lot. Coming back to Philly on the 3rd Jan, just before class starts the next day, was quite difficult as my boyfriend took me to the airport and I was not yet ready to say goodbye to him again 🙁 Another 2 and a half months without him is hard. I actually love living in Philly, it’s just that I miss the people back home so much! If they were here, this would be a perfect place to live in. But now I’m back, it’s been good to see my American friends and get back into the swing of things – I’ve actually missed Catherine loads! Will picked me up from the airport and we grabbed dinner together from Oregon Diner and had a catch up, which was a nice way to settle back into the country. American accents don’t seem so odd now, they seem quite familiar, which I like! I’m still adjusting to being back, think it’ll take a little time to get fully comfortable again.

This quarter I have all new classes. Specifically, Critical Reasoning, Forensic Psychology, The Psychology of Eating Disorders & Obesity and Introduction to Eastern Philosophy. I had the option of taking some non-Psychology classes while I’m here so I thought why not? I think these classes may be harder than the classes I took last quarter though and last quarter I got perfect grades (a 4.0) so it may be difficult to achieve that again haha, but we’ll see!  Being back at Drexel one week has already been way more stressful than it was at any point during the last quarter, meaning my classes this time are substantially harder already. But hey, I’m reminding myself that I’m here more for the experience than the academic side of the placement. Despite this, I’ve really been feeling the stress – my classes are a lot harder and require a lot more work this time, which I’m really not a fan of 🙁 but some of them are quite interesting. Others, however, are just treacherous haha. But I’m not expecting good grades from the year already!

In good news, the social life has picked right back up where I left it – Cavs on Thursday was absolutely bangin’. I love being able to have a boogy with my girls (Catherine and Janelle are hilarious and beautiful and fab and all that is good with the world)and just have a good time with good music and good people – it’s the best when you run into a bunch of people that you know and actually meet a bunch of new people who are surprisingly awesome. It was pretty packed as it was the first week of school – such a good night. Absolutely always end the night by consuming way too much food :’). On Friday, we went to Deep Fried Friday (a fundraiser where you can take any food to be deep fried or choose from the already available foods for a small price) and it was actually really good. We had deep fried Oreo’s and Reeses peanut butter cups. We actually ended up staying at the frat house this was being held at all night just chilling with the boys, having a few drinks and some banter – really good evening actually. On Saturday, Will, Pete and I went shooting in Orefield, Pennsylvania. I actually really enjoy shooting guns? :L I kinda want more practice and to get better and stuff, it’s really fun. I’m pretty against the use of guns though, so I don’t really understand my fascination with them. This was a cool day though, we got lunch and spent a lot of time at the range. Of the evening, me and some of my sisters went to 2 frat parties – both of which were incredibly fun. We kinda just alternated dependant on which party we were feeling at the time. This ended up being a super late night, as per usual and I genuinely had the best time. It was just such a laugh – like good banter, good people, good music – it was actually awesome. The only thing that could have made this evening better would have been for my boyfriend to have been there with me :(. But other than that, it was incredible 🙂 On Sunday, me and a few bros (Will, TD & Steve) got breakfast at Oregon which was probably the funniest breakfast experience of my life. I was just not mentally or physically ready for the day and this was very apparent – I was still a bit messed up from the previous late night and was frankly, not functioning as a human. It was hilarious for everyone involved :’)

On the Tuesday of the following week, some sisters and I were gonna go see ‘Sisters’ at the movies but we actually got there too late and they had sold out! How weird is that? It wasn’t like it was opening day or anything, I think it was just a smaller theatre. So instead, we ended up going to Kiwi’s to get froyo – of course, I had like tonnes of different flavours (many of which included peanut butter) and with tonnes of different toppings. I actually love Kiwi’s – definitely some of the best froyo I’ve had! Then I came home to find that we had a new TV and Xbox in our apartment, yassss! Goodbye social life, hello snacks and gaming (cos I really need more of an excuse to eat more food… not). On Thursday, Catherine, Linda and I all went to Kiwi’s AGAIN because you could fill your cup for only $5 (plus tax) – such a good deal. I always have all of the peanut butter flavours, cos it’s me… and it’s delicioso. I’m actually glad I went to Kiwi’s twice this week as my throat has been killing me lately, I’m super ill 🙁 Froyo is supposed to help soothe a sore throat. On Thursday evening, Will and I had a few drinks unexpectedly (this is why I never get any homework done haha) and then I had a pretty chill night in with Catherine and Mick and some crackin’ banter! I was hella ill, hence the fact that I was in on a Thursday! But I really had a good time just watching TV and talking to the girls. I’m so fortunate to have been placed in accommodation with two girls that I get on so well with – it’s crazy how it worked out cos I got moved around so much before I got to Drexel but it actually worked out incredibly as they’re really like my best friends now! On Friday, Catherine and I went to Deep Fried Friday again at the same frat, took our own food to get deep fried and ended up with an amazing tasting Cinnabon, Oreo Cupcake and Cannoli – this is why I love Catherine, the girl has amazing ideas! And of course, ended up staying and chatting, having a lovely time with drinks. The frat house always seems to be getting more and more busy, which I like. On Saturday morning, Catherine, Will and I went to Sang Kee for Dim Sum. I had an awesome tofu lettuce wrap with mushrooms, brown rice and soy sauce – it was actually so good. I had a bunch of Catherine’s food too cos she ordered literally 8 plates to herself haha like egg custard rolls, egg tarts, chicken feet, etc – it wasn’t actually as expensive as you’d think, for so many plates but it was actually really good. In the evening, it was Theta Chi’s initiation party for the new members (aka Hotel Party) and this was hella fun – everyone was super dressed up and in a lovely friendly mood, was wonderful 🙂 I really need to make a point of not having such late nights, my sleeping pattern is literally non-existent! Thankfully, this Monday is MLK day meaning, NO CLASS! I should probably do some homework!

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Home for winter break

One term down, two to go and it’s time for me to rest. The trip back to the UK consisted of a windswept night taxi journey through Philadelphia and over Schuylkill River, and a plane journey accompanied by a glass of red wine and finally finishing a book I was reading. At the airport I tried wasabi for the first time, and as a result, ate too much wasabi at once for the first time.

There have been numerous highpoints so far. My Astronomy course was fantastic and was the most mentally and personally satisfying course I have ever taken. Even more satisfying when you score 97%, receive the grade A+ and finished top of a class of 60. Another highpoint was taking the time to go and see Shen Yun Symphony Orchestra play their eclectic style of classical Chinese music live; little pleases my ears more than the richness and emotion of hearing an orchestra perform live. There were many other highlights, most of which escape my mind as of writing. I simply enjoyed embracing and taking in a new, bustling and historical city, most of which I am saving for later in the placement year. A main attraction to Philadelphia and the USA as a whole is its foundation, the declaration of independence, the constitution, the founding fathers, and anything concerning the birth and youth of a nation with such an illustrious genesis and the ups and downs it has experienced.

The prospect of sliding back into the comfort of home and quickly being catapulted back out I have been informed may be one of the primary study abroad tests. The first term was the short sprint, the challenge is the straight six months to follow. I also recall that my application for the US was made approximately one year ago, and a year on, I’m pleased with the decision I made.

Week 12 in Philadelphia

Monday-Friday, for most people, were heavily taken up by finals. Everyone was stressed AF cos of exams, papers, the whole works. I, however, wasn’t too stressed fortunately (though I can’t see myself doing incredibly well on this round of finals haha – I guess I’ll find out soon). On Wednesday, as a mid-week celebration/we’re-nearly-at-the-end-of-finals celebration, Catherine, Janelle, Linda and I had a cute little meal at Zavinos. It’s a lovely Italian restaurant and so of course, I had pizza (cos that really makes a difference from my every day choices… not) – it was really nice tbh, I really like that place. I’ve spent copious amounts of money since being here and I am rapidly running out, so I thought why not spend some more right :’) Catherine gave me my Christmas present too after this and it was 2 half pound Peanut Butter cups and tickets to Hershey Park – could she actually know me any better than she does? Haha. This is why she’s my best friend, folks.

On Thursday, after a stressful trip to UPS with Catherine (shipping stuff to Brazil is expensive AF, just so ya know), I met up with Chloe and we went and explored The Franklin Institute – most INTERESTING museum I’ve ever been to, seriously. It was all interactive meaning there were activities that you do throughout and you just really get involved. At one point, Chloe and I were climbing through an elevated maze? It was really weird but really fun – there was a planetarium too. Just 100% would recommend, so fun. It was very sciencey – lots of stuff to do with the brain and body, but also, a bunch of stuff to do with Franklin, which was what I found the most interesting – there was a whole section on electricity. We then met up with our Bigs in Center City (Caitlyn & Amy) and went to the Macy’s light show – it’s an annual thing and it was VOICED BY JULIE WALTERS. Haha I love her. This was actually so cute and adorable – it told a story through LED lights. It was so odd cos everyone was just sitting on the floor in the middle of Macy’s looking up at some lights – I’ve never seen that before haha. On Thursday evening, Chloe and I very unexpectedly went to Cavs and had the best time (as Cavs usually is) – Chloe’s headed to Chicago soon so she needed to experience the Philly bar scene before she left, of course. It was a pretty wild night – the international students at Drexel really know how to party haha, without a doubt. Again, not too much info will be divulged here but a lot of money was spent and a lot of partying was done – crazy time. I met a lot of cool people too and had some interesting chats, from what I remember.

The next morning, Friday, Mick was headed to New Jersey and then DC (I think) for the Christmas break so Catherine and I thought it would be nice if we all grabbed lunch together. We went to Sabrina’s (one of my favourite places to eat, seriously) and it was really nice – there are so many vegetarian options at Sabrina’s and they’re all amazing – I especially like the sweet potato fries you can get as a side for basically all of the meals. I was feeling a bit delicate this day so I stuck with a veggie burger and it was delicious 😛 Thankfully, my last final was on Friday (do not judge the fact that I went out the night before haha), so Catherine, Zara, Angela and I all went to a frat party at Penn to celenbrate – it was pretty lit, I’ll be honest. It had a very underground and grimey vibe, which I liked. Everyone was very sweaty though, reminded me of a rave. The DJ was flawless (literally, take me back) and the drinks were good, so there isn’t much more that you could want really. We then went back to Drexel and went to like 3 other frats (not gonna list them obvs) so we actually went to 4 frat parties this night haha. Most of which were incredibly hapnin (excuse my ghetto) and we all had a really good time. I love all these girls so it was such a laugh. I went to bed at 6am 🙁 this happens far too often. Not even because we were out that late, just because I got home and my boyfriend was online as it was actually a normal time of the morning in England haha so we had a long ass chat on the phone, was lovely!

The next afternoon, Saturday, Will and I went for what was supposed to be a lunch but we met too late and it turned into fivesies/dinner/whatever you wanna call it. We went to Jack’s Firehouse I think? It was actually an amazing restaurant – it was in East Philly. It’s quite expensive but if you wanna go somewhere nice to eat in Philly, I’d really recommend this place – it was actually an old firehouse converted into a restaurant. It was a beautiful day so we sat outside and the view overlooked the East State Penn (still yet to go in) and we sat there for ages and it was just lovely. I had one of the best Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecakes for dessert (with complimentary scones and muffins? Weirdly) – I’m literally obese rn, if anyone is remotely interested haha. We then had some drinks to celebrate the ending of Will’s exams (and of course, cos drinking 3 days a week/in a row has become the norm for me here in the US) and it was a very lovely day. I then had to rush home and pack all my stuff ready for my flight to England the next day – I passionately hate packing so I did absolutely everything I could to not pack. Fortunately, I managed to get it all done before my flight haa.

My friend Will drove me all the way to JFK airport from Philly for my flight back on Sunday – what a dear. I actually wrote most of this blog post from JFK – sat in the terminal, very full of cookies and peanut butter cups, jamming to Chance the Rapper, waiting for my flight. I was pretty sleep deprived too as the night before a flight, I never sleep too well. Considering it’s a red eye and I lost 5 hours of time anyway, I wanted to get as much sleep as possible on the flight – that didn’t happen! It’s an 8 hour flight and I probably slept for 2 haha. We got lunch at the airport and I’m super thankful that he was able to drive me all this way – I have the best friends. When I arrived in England, my mum literally ran at me outside the airport and started crying – we had a very emotional reunion in front of an unexpecting family :’)

I’m not really sure what I’m going to do regarding this blog while I’m back in England as this is a travel blog and I don’t really consider being in England a part of travelling for me, but if I can update this with anything interesting, then I may. If not, I’ll just start blogging again when I’m back in the states!

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!

 

Bonfire Night and the start of the Christmas season

The end of the term is just around the cornet, just a few more weeks. With this also comes essays and exams but.. just before getting into all the stress, overnight studies and spending more time in the library than in your flat/room/house, I decided to recharge batteries enjoying a little bit of the city life and activities of November. Which takes to..

Remember remember the 5th of November

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So it was Bonfire Night, I’ve been waiting a while for this celebration. The parades, the fireworks and of course the bonfire. Unfortunately the Birmingham City Council cancelled the celebration, the good news was that the University of Birmingham did handle to organize something, with a funfair, fireworks, mulled wine and I admit that it was really fun.

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Also the German market has arrive to the city center, meaning that the Christmas season has started and with this, lots to see and do or I should say lots to eat and drink.

So you can either go for a beer or some hot punch, a half-meter bratwurst or a marshmallow filled with wine and cover in chocolate (I really recommend the marshmallows).

Any way, I’ll be back after the term is done, just wanted to get a little exited about will be coming next and see how I’ll be relaxing and enjoying the end of the year’s season.

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Premier League in Birmingham !

 

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No matter how I have been busy because of the school stuffs, I have to watch at least one premier league match here. That is my one of bucket lists what I should do.
At the end, I could cope with watching The English Premier League after 6 weeks in Birmingham.

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Honestly, I was overwhelmed by the atmosphere of  Aston FC supporters, and evermore the stadium,  Aston Park, is far bigger than my expectation. That match was against Manchester city FC. Currently, Manchester city is number on on the table, otherwise Aston villa is the last of the table so far. For this time, I decided to support Aston villa because I am an Aston university student. The God was blessing Aston villa more than Manchester that day. Fortunately, the result of that match was draw. Before started this match, Aston villa was quite getting down because of their place on the table, that made them worry to be demoted from Premier league to 2nd league for the next season. I do not want Aston, that exactly shared the same name as my university, will be played on the 2nd league instead of Premier league. Hopefully, the result of that match could be a turning point for Aston villa to keep winning.

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 🙂

Birthday abroad

Courses’ week 5, meaning we are at the middle of the first term now, time is flying. I’m amazed how well structure and integrated are all the courses, we see a subject on one course and the next week another lecture uses it, conscious that we have learned it already. And this has happened in all the courses, nothing is repetitive, instead all the courses complements with each other.

 

But enough about the Uni for now. Last Friday 23rd was my birthday (yeah!) and I had a great time in Birmingham. I spent Friday eating the whole day, started with a full English breakfast at the Uni’s bar, P_20151023_105135and it was awesome! After that I headed to the city just to wonder around. Decided to fIMG_20151101_142947ollow the day with a Fish & Chips with nice cold dark beer. Then on Saturday a friend from my country who lives in London come, it rained on the morning but after noon the sun came out, so decided to go for a walk on the canals, eat something there, have a coffee and some cake at the city centre. So even though I didn’t spend my birthday partying and getting wild, I did have a great birthday with a friend from home. Plus, Halloween is coming and I heard that the Students Union is preparing something worth of the occasion (tequila, pints, customs and live DJ’s)  P_20151024_141105_BF