U21 Undergraduate Research Conference in Amsterdam – Wrap Up and Goodbyes

What a wonderful welcome to the U21 consortium for the University of Maryland at the U21 Undergraduate Research Conference. The University of Amsterdam were amazing hosts and ambassadors for the U21 consortium. The participants, both students and staff, represented universities from around the world and the theme of Building Healthy, Smart, and Creative Cities allowed for a showcase of inspiring interdisciplinary research. The opportunity to create connections with individuals from other U21 schools was inspirational. I truly value the connections and networks I created and look forward to continuing those relationships in my work with the Gemstone program.

- Dr. Skendall

It’s always hard to say goodbye, but it’s even more difficult when it’s at a conference and there are so many people involved. After the end of presentations, we went to a fancy dinner at a hotel downtown and took plenty of photos to remember the evening. Thankfully we’re in a world of business cards, email listservs, and relevant facebook groups, so it shouldn’t be impossible to keep in touch. We’ve already got a group going and it seems like most people are joining in.

Saturday, I spent most of my day riding around the city and seeing some museums (cheese, NEMO, maritime) and getting a few last samples of local food, including pancakes, the deadly kapsalon, and speculoos. No stress, just riding around and checking things out. We went further north in the city, by the water, and found a much busier sector near the central station. There was a big garage larger than Regent’s, but completely packed with bikes; it kind of mirrored the giant collection in front of the Amstel station. The tour parts of the conference were near mostly historical locations, but Amsterdam is still very much a busy city.

We left early in the afternoon on Sunday and had a smooth flight home. It was a short trip to Amsterdam, but I’ll remember for it a long time and I couldn’t be happier that I went. And now we’re back!

- Kevin

 

– also happy 407th birthday to Rembrandt!

 

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U21 Undergraduate Research Conference Presentations and Conversation

Over the past few days, the 54 participants at the U21 conference have presented a variety of interesting research relevant to “Urban Challenges.” It certainly is amazing how multidisciplinary the theme of urban challenges truly is. We have heard presentations from students studying musicology, architecture, history, international relations, medicine, law, art, engineering, economics, geography, psychology, physics, chemistry, and politics… Just to name a few.

While learning about so many different issue areas and research topics is incredible and intellectually stimulating, perhaps the most amazing aspect of this dynamic is the conversations and interactions we have after the power points and posters are put away. Over dinner on Wednesday night, I spent two hours with three other students: a political scientist, historian, and architect. As we reflected on the day’s presentations, we each had the opportunity to share our own thoughts and perspectives on each issue, expanding the conversation beyond the boundaries of our traditional lens. More importantly, they gave me new perspectives and analyses on my research based on their experiences and education.

Such moments are what these conferences are about. Sharing ideas. Exchanging techniques and approaches. Revising traditional thinking   Its not just what happens during the conference that matters so much, it’s the hours of conversations with everyone after that makes this week so special.

- Natasha

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First Days in Amsterdam

 

UMD Students Participate in U-21 Undergraduate Research Conference on Urban Challenges at U Amsterdam

We touched down in Amsterdam early in the morning on Monday after a mostly eventless flight and have done a whole lot so far with little time for rest. Our flight took about seven to eight hours, but we really felt it as soon as we stepped down and realized it was 2 am back home (and just about time to go to sleep), but 9 am in Amsterdam and time to wake up.

The first thing we saw in the city was, in fact, a sea of bicycles all parked by the Metro station. Shortly after, everything made sense. Imagine if you took something like 4/5ths of the horrifically clogging traffic in the DMV and replaced it with bicycles – you’d be one step closer to life in Amsterdam. Where we’ve visited in the heart of the city, a few things aside from the bikes have stood out, specifically the presence of the canals, including the crucial Amstel, and the lack of skyscrapers (really even just any overtly modern architecture).

We visited a university club building and were treated to a brief speech about cities and then had a chance to mingle with the other students preparing to present at the conference. We actually spent a lot of time today in the old town part of Amsterdam, touring the university’s buildings and learning about their histories.

After this tour, we biked a short distance to the long closed Rijksmuseum, which itself was beaming with beautiful architecture. Inside was a collection of gorgeous paintings including a number by Rembrandt, Hals, and Vermeer (including The Night Watch, Married Couple in a Garden, and The Milkmaid).That was the last of the organized city activities, save for a barbecue that gave us another chance to mingle with the students and staff organizers.

It’s been fun so far, but very exhausting – today we started the actual conference, but we’ll cover that soon (maybe tomorrow)!

-          Jason and Kevin

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My Last 12 Days Abroad

I cannot believe I’m in the final stretch before I return home to America. I just got back from my last trip while studying in Italy and begin finals at the end of this week. Where did the time even go? I can’t believe I only have 12 days left of my abroad experience. The last couple of trips I have taken since spring break have been Paris, Amsterdam, Tuscany, Munich, and finally the Amalfi Coast. I cannot believe that I am finished travelling. It feels like yesterday that I had just flown into Rome and was beginning to plan all the trips I would be taking every weekend. I’m not going to lie, I am really looking forward to going home and getting to see my friends and  family that I haven’t seen in a while, but it’s a bittersweet feeling. On one hand, I can’t wait to be back in America. I miss certain foods, my family, and just being able to drive to places like Target and get everything I need in one place. On the other hand, I have no idea when I will be able to come back to Italy and all these amazing places I have gotten to travel to while studying abroad.

The last few trips I went on were absolutely amazing. Every trip I took seemed better than the last. My favorite (and last trip I went on) was to the Amalfi Coast. It was gorgeous there. I went with 12 of my friends and we got to go cliff diving, cave swimming, we rode up to the top of the mountain in Capri and looked out over the island, and got to go through the Blue Grotto which is one of the seven wonders of the world. It was my favorite trip by far. I don’t think I have ever seen a place as beautiful as the Amalfi Coast.

Paris, Amsterdam, and Munich were amazing as well. The last group of trips we took were definitely my favorite by far but all for different reasons. Paris was gorgeous and there was so many sites to see. Amsterdam was unlike anything I have ever experienced before and being able to go to Anne Frank’s house was really inspiring. Munich was so much fun because we went for Springfest which was insane and I got to see so many of my friends studying in different places that I haven’t seen for awhile.

Overall this abroad experience has been absolutely amazing. I have seen more places then I ever thought I would see and have had so many life changing experiences. I am so thankful that I got to study abroad in Italy for four months but I am really looking forward to being able to go back to America.

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Spain

Spain is breathtakingly beautiful, with fountains, parks, and historical sites everywhere you go. The people are quite friendly and don’t seem to be perturbed when I often ask them for directions; many times they have approached me and offered to help! The weather is very warm and lovely, which will be great for our walking tours and explorations.

The food, though also great, is very unhealthy (though a peer points out that it is more organic and not filled with all the artificial chemicals/additives). Chorizo and ham are very often eaten – my poor heart! Coffee, similar to that in Paris, is more of a dessert, and it comes in tiny mugs. However, after some searching, I have found American coffee in Dunkin’ Coffee (the same as Dunkin’ Donuts, just with a different name) and Starbucks.

The city is quite clean and smaller than say, New York or D.C. Driving is insane, so thankfully the public transportation system, like Paris’,  is also phenomenal. I would not cross the street without hesitation, because cars may often go even when the crosswalk signal is green. Fun fact: almost everyone drives stick shift.

Museums and churches, unlike those in D.C., often cost money to enter, but thankfully many are free with the international student cards.

As I’ve said in the previous post, the class is not too different from those at UMD. However, our class is in a small building belonging to IES and on a compound with a nice, outdoor pool. The main difference would be that the class has a much more relaxed feel to it, perhaps because we all must be more flexible (off-and-on Wifi, technological issues, etc). Yet, this does not diminish the plethora of ideas and information I am taking away from the course (ENES472)!

I would love to come back to Spain and to study here for a semester, probably at Carlos III. If I did so, I would likely live at IES or stay with a host family (probably the latter, as to encourage me to use English).

Unlike in Paris, I feel much more at home in Spain in that I can speak the language to some degree. I have ordered meals and tickets, conversed with the Portera and people at grocery stores, and navigated pretty successfully. I would like to continue to work on my Spanish, hopefully obtaining fluency one day.

Each day varies, but we often take the metro to IES in the morning for a 2 hour class, then perhaps go on a walking tour or industry site visit. The nightlife is great here and stores/restaurants tend to be open quite late; I have often gone to a nearby convenience store at 11 or 12! This is great, especially for a night owl like myself.

 

 

 

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Time Flies!!

I just woke up and realised: this course is halfway through? Just yesterday I was terrified to get on the airplane at Dulles. Just yesterday I saw my first play at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Just yesterday I toured the houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. And now I find out that my three week course is already halfway through?

I only have a week and a half left and I need to make it count, but there has been so much crammed into the first half of this course that I am so tired. We’re supposed to get free days  for returning to favorite exhibits and buildings, but I know I’m going to be tempted to just take a day off and do nothing. Although, that may be a part of this experience. There is a park where people can sit on giant bean bags and, to be honest, that might be the perfect kind of relaxation and I could still enjoy the city and the people. In fact, we’ve been so busy touring everywhere and seeing plays, there’s really not much chance to just sit and watch the daily life of the locals and that’s what I find fascinating.

This has been an intensive course so far, and I can’t stop yet. There are still so many places to visit and things to learn. I can rest when I get home. But in the second half of the course, I’ve definitely got to take more moments to just people-watch.

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Back in the USA

After living abroad in London for almost five months, I can honestly say I will never regret the choice I made. While it was strange to arrive at Washington Dulles International airport in DC and hear announcements made in English without an English accent, I welcomed the sound.

I can now say I packed up and lived in another country on my own – not many people can say that. I learned a great deal. I learned that I can be independent and that a foreign country does not have to be scary, but rather exciting. I will never forget the numerous times I got lost this semester in a country I didn’t know the language, like Greece for instance, but somehow I managed and now I know that I can.

Getting on the DC Metro for the first time in what feels like forever, I realized how much I will miss the luxury of the Tube in London. It was so quick and much more convenient. It’s the small things. For example, even though I indulged in Borough Market’s amazing grilled cheese twice the week before I left, I still wish I could go back and have it again. I really miss London and all that it had to offer, but it was nice to come back to the comforts of home.

Now, who knows? Maybe I’ll take a job overseas when I graduate. If these past five months have taught me anything, it’s that the possibilities are endless and you really never know where you’re going to end up.

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Living the London Life!

The time in London has literally flown by, and it is scary to think how fast it has gone. Living here feels very natural. I have been cooking for myself a lot, which has been a learning experience. Basically, I am good at stir-fry and omelets, and I refuse to even attempt to use the oven. However, I have definitely seen improvements in my cooking…I even made salmon one night, which is a big deal for me! On a more serious note, I have realized exactly how much more expensive it is to live in London. The exchange rate right now is about $1.59 to every British pound, so you don’t realize that going out to a 15 pound dinner is really around 22 pounds—it adds up. Luckily, we have found ways to reduce costs, by finding deals online to different places and taking advantage of student offers. Also, I’ve been cooking a lot more for myself, which is much less expensive. I finally made a plan for budgeting money, so that will be really helpful.

The city is full of everything I could possibly have hoped for. If I walk one way down my street, I hit Oxford Street, which is the largest shopping street in Europe. If I walk the other way, I get to Regents Park, which is full of gardens and fountains and a lake with swans. I can go to historical places, such as Westminister, and see Big Ben and the Tower of London. I can go to extremely modern areas, such a Camden Market and Southbank. And because I am not taking hard classes here, I have time to see it all, and be able to appreciate the amazing opportunity I have.

Surprisingly, I had no problems adjusting to living in the city. Part of the reason is because London is so accessible, and using the tube is extremely easy. As students, we get discounts on the Oyster Cards, which are used for travelling on the tube and on the buses. Every month, we pay for unlimited travelling in zones 1 and 2, which is all we really need. I am obsessed with the tube. It is very easy to understand and is way more efficient (and less scary) then the metro. Even though they stop running later at night, there are 24-hour buses running that our cards also work on, so there are really no issues getting around.

On Tuesdays, I take my Literature in London course. One of my favorite days was when my class met at Temple Tube station in order to do a “Dickens Walk.” We went to a lot of the areas that featured in his novels, specifically Great Expectations. I had seen the outside of Temple Church, but this time we actually went inside. Most famous churches in London require payment in order to go inside, including this one, so it hasn’t been high on my priority list to visit one, but I’m glad I finally went to one! It is smaller than I thought it would be, and the stained glass windows are stunning. The history that the church has withstood is apparent everywhere, from the Medieval structure of the building to the dents on the outside from the bombing during the war. After this, we made our way through the rest of the Temple area, stopping at various points that featured in the novel. We ended the tour at a small wall, which is entitled “In commemoration of heroic self sacrifice.” In the 1800s, someone decided to honor the everyday people who gave up their lives to save others. The wall has names of people and the deeds they performed dating back as early as the 1880s, and as recent as within the last decade. It was inspiring to read what ordinary people did, and to know they are being honored till this day.

On Wednesdays, my history class involves going on walks throughout the city. One that sticks out is a tour of the Westminster area, which is home to Big Ben and Parliament. It was very interesting to hear about the history, as opposed to just staring at the places. One fun fact that has been drilled into our heads is that Big Ben does not refer to the clock. It is the bell inside the clock! Every time we have passed Big Ben, someone unfailingly has quizzed us about that, so if ever in London my readers can shock people with your brilliance. Right outside of Westminster Palace (where Parliament is) is a statue of Queen Boudica, Britain’s first “Warrior Queen.” The story is pretty cool: when her husband, the ruler of one of Britain’s great tribes, died, the Romans took all his land and possessions. In response, Boudica led an uprising against the Roman Empire that resulted in the burning and destruction of what is now the City of London. It is rumored that she was buried between platforms 9 and 10 in King’s Cross station (sound familiar?). The first time I passed Boudica’s statue, I had no idea of the history behind it of the significance of the first British rebel being right next to Parliament—I just thought it was a cool statue. That is why I have really begun to love my history class—it is giving me a completely new perspective of London that I would not have gotten otherwise.

London is an incredible city, and I hope I have the opportunity to live there again during my life.

 

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A walk through Orwell’s shoes

I traveled many places while studying abroad, but one that really stuck out was the beautiful city of Paris. In my lit class, we read Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell, so I was really excited to see the comparison between London and Paris. I was there from a Thursday to Sunday, and it was absolutely amazing. This was the first time I went to the continental Europe—when I traveled to Europe after graduating high school I only visited the British Isles. So naturally, I was excited to add a stamp to my passport and visit one of the most famous cities in the world.

I went to Paris with three other friends. We had decided to fly: our first big mistake. There is a train that travels from London to Paris, but it was more expensive than flying. We soon realized why that was—flying into Paris was absolutely awful. We had to pay a lot of money for bus tickets to the airport, train tickets from the airport in Paris, and then for a taxi to the hostel. It took a while and was very frustrating, but now we know: if there is a train, take it.

We arrived at our hostel at around 7:30 (19:30) on Thursday. Our hostel was in the northern part of the city, so there wasn’t too much we could do that night. We found a place to eat, where I had an amazing crepe filled with cheese, ham, and potatoes. Another thing about Paris—the food is amazing. It centers on bread and cheese, so how couldn’t it be! We drank some wine, talked for a while, and then headed to bed so we could get up early the next morning to start exploring Paris.

The first thing we did Friday morning (after free breakfast at the hostel which consisted of baguettes and chocolate spread, yum!) was head straight for the Eiffel Tower. Walking up to the Eiffel Tower had to be one of the coolest things I have ever done—seeing in person one of the most famous monuments in the world was incredible. The scary part was when we decided to take the elevator up to the top. Not going to lie, I was a little freaked out when we first started the ascent—same reason I hate going down spiral staircases, I need to see the ground under me—but got over it quickly when I saw the stunning view. Even with all the fog, it was incredible and really the only way to start off a trip to Paris.

This took a decent part of the morning, and by the time we got down, we were absolutely freezing, so decided to run into a café to warm up and eat lunch. I got French Onion soup, which of course was incredible. Bread and cheese, it’s a great way of life. We then headed to the Musée d’Orsay, which has one of the most beautiful art collections I have ever seen, specifically impressionist and post-impressionist paintings. It was incredible to see works of art by artists I have learned about, such as Monet and Van Gogh. The building itself is stunning. My favorite pieces were in the neo-impressionist section.

After walking around for a while, we headed out and on the passerelle de Solférino, a famous bridge linking Musée d’Orsay and the Jardin des Tuileries, which is famous for the hundreds love padlocks attached to it. Couples come from around the world to write their names on the padlock, put it on the bridge, and throw the key into the Seine (the river that runs through Paris). It was amazing to see, and reaffirms that Paris really is the most romantic place in the world.

We crossed the bridge to Jardin des Tuileries, a public garden created in 1564 by Catherine de Medicis. As it is March, the trees were bare and there was no sunlight, yet the garden was still absolutely stunning. We walked around for a while until we came upon a large tent with a ton of clothes. Naturally, we tried to go in, but were immediately turned away: apparently its there for Paris Fashion Week.  The glimpse I had inside had thousands of clothes and accessories, it was really cool to see.

On Saturday, we woke up early again and headed to Notre Dame, which is easily the most beautiful building I have ever been in. The outside is full of incredible detail and I wish I could do it justice here—the pictures will have to do. We went inside, which was if possible even more stunning. The stained glass windows were the most incredible I have ever seen. We then walked along the Seine to go to the Louvre. Walking down the river was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It gave me a chance to really appreciate how beautiful Paris is. The Thames in London is a lot wider, and not nearly as beautiful. The Seine works so perfectly with the buildings surrounding it, and I absolutely loved taking it all in.

Eventually, we made it to the Louvre, which I had learned about in European History and was extremely eager to see. The museum is in the Louvre Palace, which is a huge fortress that is, like all other buildings in Paris, absolutely stunning. The entrance is covered by a huge glass pyramid, which combined with the classic architecture around it, is so incredible to look at. We went in, and explored a lot of the rooms. The Louvre itself is amazing, with gorgeous artwork all over the ceilings. The paintings displayed are incredibly stunning, and humbling to see. Some highlights include the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Raft of Medusa. Having learned about these paintings and the artists, it was an indescribable feeling to see them in person. This was the point where I felt the most how lucky I am to have this experience.

After the Louvre, we walked down the Champs-Élysées, a street that holds the Place de la Concorde and the Arc de Triomphe. There were tons of amazing shops lining the streets, and even street performers. The Arc de Triomphe was built in celebration of Napoleon’s victories, and was amazing to see—it is huge. To continue my Paris food chronicles, my friend and I split a nutella and banana crepe that was fantastic.

My favorite part of the trip came next. I headed over to the 7th district, a very high-end area, to meet up with my cousins who live in the suburbs of Paris.  They took me on a driving night tour of Paris. I thought the Eiffel Tower was stunning in the day, but seeing it lit up at night completely blew me away. Every hour for about 5 minutes, lights flash along it, and I managed to see a couple minutes of it (I was too in awe to remember to take out my camera).  We then drove around all of Paris, with my cousin telling me about all the buildings, streets, and monuments around us. It was absolutely incredible, and was amazing because I learned so much more about the places then I would have seeing them alone. My favorite parts were seeing the Louvre (which is completely different at night), the Opera House, and getting to Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris that is completely symmetrical. On this trip, I didn’t have time to go to Versailles, which is high on my list for places to go while abroad. I’m hoping I will be able to visit at some point in the spring, and see everybody again! (and if you guys are reading this, thank you SO MUCH for the amazing time!)

Eventually, we made it back to London. As much as I loved my time in Paris, I really loved being back in London. It really felt like a home, and I was so excited to get back on the tube and hear English—in Paris, the metro blares noise when the doors open; in London, a polite lady with an accent says “Mind the Gap Please”.

Paris is one of the most stunningly beautiful places I have ever been. The entire city is filled with buildings with incredible architecture, all in similar colors, and all extremely elegant. The detail on the buildings is absolutely amazing, and gardens and statues are all over the city, as they have been as early as the 18th century. Paris, more than any place I have seen, has shown me a place that has been able to withstand the changes of time. London’s history is in it’s streets: you see different buildings from when the Great Fire burned down the city, the changing architecture as political and social times changed, dents and damage from the second world war. London is still beautiful, but not like Paris. Paris centers around its beauty—you can easily picture the area unchanged from centuries before. While London reflects its history and culture, Paris reflects is pride in the arts and romanticism. Everything, from the Seine running through the streets to the amazing art museums to the stunning monuments, seems to speak of romanticism and individuality. The cities are very different, and I know this is a classic, cliché thing to say, but as much as I loved Paris, I really am so happy I chose to study in London. It definitely felt like coming home.

 

Au revoir, and Cheers!

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A few of my favorite (London!) things

The West End

Throughout my time in London, I saw three West End plays: Billy Elliot, Wicked, and Book of Mormon. All were incredible, but for different reasons. Billy Elliot had some of the best dancing I have ever seen. I was really happy I got to see it, because a lot of the central issues have to do with England’s history. I had seen Wicked before, so while it was stunning, it didn’t stand out too much. My favorite, by far, was Book of Mormon. It was absolutely hilarious, and the actors were incredible. I have never seen a Broadway show, so I can really attribute all of my musical experience to the West End.

Harrods

I am still overwhelmed by my Harrods experience. It is more like a museum than a department store. I walked around with my friends in awe, making our way from the wines and liquors to the Disney and Toys section.

Borough Market

Every Thursday I was in London, I went to Borough market. This is different than other markets I went to, because it entirely centers on food. Portobello Market, which is in Notting Hill, is very touristy, with a mix of antique stores and jewelry, along with food areas. Camden Market has everything you could imagine: clothes, jewelry, food, artwork. It is huge, with over 100 shops in open stalls where retailers play music and give a very relaxed and cool vibe. Borough market, on the other hand, is only a food market, and is a food lover’s paradise. It has every type of food you could imagine, so needless to say my friends and I were in heaven trying all the samples (especially the cheeses). By the end of the semester, we had a specific route we used to go to all our favorite sections, eating things like mushroom patee, paella, cheesy potatoes, mustards, olive oil, oives, and lots of lots of cheese. Borough Market was the last stop on my final day of London, and I  will miss it.

Boat to Greenwich

My favorite trip within London involves taking a boat up the Thames to Greenwich, which are both amazing. Seeing the city from a boat was such a fun experience, and it was so cool to pass everything from Parliament to Tower Bridge to Shakespeare’s Globe. Eventually, we arrive at Greenwich, which is where Henry VIII, Mary, and Elizabeth I were born. It was the Henry VIII’s favorite palace, where he did most of his hunting and had two of his marriages. Unfortunely, the original palace was destroyed during the English Civil war, and was rebuilt as a Royal Navy Hospital for Soldiers. This became the Royal Naval College, and is now the University of Greenwich. Greenwich is home to the Royal Observatory, a busy marketplace, and a stunningly beautiful park. It is also the site of the Prime Meridian, which divides the east and west hemispheres. It was so cool that this oasis was in such close reach to London, and seeing the city from the water was an unforgettable experience.

Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus

Covent Garden has tons of really nice shops and different types of markets. I spent a lot of time in Whittard tea shop, which had a lot of teas out for sampling.  The amount of tea I drink since living in London has exponentially increased, so I loved being able to try new types every time I visited Covent Garden. Right near Covent Garden is Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square, and Piccadilly Circus. All are absolutely beautiful, and provide my favorite people-watching in London.

Museums

Museums in London are free, so it was great to be able to explore them as much as I wanted. When I first went to the National Portrait Gallery, I didn’t exactly know what I would find, so I was shocked when I saw the original portraits of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, and so many others that have been copied thousands of times into textbooks and novels. It was incredible to see them in person. The British museum is also pretty cool: throughout England’s history, they have occupied many territories, and taken many things from the countries they have occupied. Because of that, they have an amazing collection of items that you would never expect to see in such a large quantity all in one place. Other honorable mentions are the Victoria and Albert Museum’s fashion display, and the Science Museum.

Harry Potter

I have a love of Harry Potter, and one of my first stops was platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross. However, the best was the Warner’s Bros Studio Tour London: the Making of Harry Potter. It was the best day I had in London: we walked through the Great Hall, we saw all the costumes, we went to Hagrid’s Hut, and we saw the Gryffindor Common Room. We saw the horcrux’s, we went to Gringotts, we stepped on the cobbles of Diagon Alley, and we saw the model of Dobby and all the creatures.  We even got to play Quidditch. The most shocking part, however, was learning that Hogwarts isn’t actually real. In retrospect, of course this makes sense—they could not build a huge castle just for a film series. Instead, an incredibly detailed model of Hogwarts was built to be used for exterior shots. So basically, I really was at Hogwarts. It was an emotional day.

I have loved every part about living in London, and will miss so much more than just these highlights. Simply walking through the streets is enough.

Cheers!

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