We’re Breaking Free (of London)

You Alright?

Yeah? Are you wondering why I am using this question to greet you? No, I do not think you look unwell. This phrase is actually British slang for “what’s up?”. Neither expression really makes much sense when you actually think about the two of them. Over the past three weeks, I have picked up on a little bit of British slang. However, sometimes I still get thrown off by “you alright?”. My response “yeah I’m okay” is sometimes a bit awkward. Note to self: respond next time with “yeah, you?”.
I am trying to adopt as much of a British mindset here as possible. The Brits truly love life. They work to live instead of living to work like Americans do. This is why many shops here close early on week nights and even earlier on weekends. Everyone truly appreciates the time they have off and enjoy spending it in the company of loved ones. This outlook is very different from what I’m used to experiencing as a hardworking American who constantly stressed out. My school work is piling on, and I have a paper to write about every week. However, instead of stressing about my workload and complaining that I need to start it, I am trying to adopt a new outlook. I know the paper is going to get done, and I will make time for its completion. I would not go to school without it being completed. This simple, slightly British, thought process has really reduced my stress levels. I feel as if I have learned so much about the culture here and when I leave I will have a different and more globalized outlook on life.
As I previously mentioned, school is in full swing here. I have two midterms next week: one exam and one paper due. My classes are a lot of fun though. It is hard attending class for three hours in a row but I’m getting used to it. Next week I have two field trips planned for my classes. We’re going to explore the financial district during British Life and Business. As a finance major who would love to work in London one day, I could not ask for a better way to spend three hours of class.
On Tuesday, after British Life and Business I went to the biggest department store in London, Harrods. The store has seven floors and has everything you could ever dream of inside of it. Dream is the key word though because the prices are incredibly high. I entered a 70% off sale section and one of the shirts I looked at was still 300 pounds. This item was on sale. What more could you expect from a store that is composed of designer labels that make up every single part of the store? When I was walking around, I stumbled upon the ice cream parlour on the second floor. I sat down and ordered a huge ice cream sundae. The ice cream was incredible. Then, I got the bill. Hahaha. Would I ever pay $20 for another bowl of ice cream at Harrods again? Probably not. I’m a tourist and I did it once. It was fun pretending that I could actually afford items in the store though.
Wednesday left me with High School Musical withdrawals. It was the movie’s tenth anniversary. I grew up with that movie. I cannot believe it was ten years old, and that I was ten years old when it premiered. That movie has existed for half of my life. Naturally, it shaped my childhood. At night, I wanted to watch the movie to experience all of the nostalgia that goes along with its anniversary. However, UK Netflix does not carry any of the High School Musical movies! I was incredibly saddened by that information and resorted to listening to a few of the songs instead. Good thing it was a ‘musical’.
Did you know that London has a monument to commemorate the Great Fire of London called The Monument? I thought it was funny that this ambiguous title is not ambiguous to Londoners, and everyone would know what monument is referenced when you say that you are going into the city to climb The Monument. This is exactly what I did on Thursday. I climbed 311 stairs to the top of the monument and was able to see London from a new angle at a new height.

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Picture of my view from The Monument

Another fun thing I did on Thursday was buy tickets to Venice with a few of the other UF kids. We’re going to Venice next weekend!! As an Italian American, I am so excited to be going to Italy. I hope the city is even more magical than all of the pictures and videos I have ever seen of the canal city.
Andrea and I went shopping at Primark on Friday and we were in the store for 2.5 hours! The store is huge and has so many great deals. I felt like I was at Disney World with all the huge crowds and lines though. It was insane! I understand why some Londoners avoid that store now. It’s intense.
The most exciting thing I did this week was visit one of the world’s greatest mysteries: Stonehenge.
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UF takes on Stonehenge

On Saturday, FIE arranged a field trip for us to Stonehenge and a beautiful city called Salisbury. Both of these locations were about 2 hours away from London. We departed at 8:30 in the morning and returned at 6:00 pm. Gorgeous green English countryside rolled by our windows for the entire duration of our journey. The weather was very cloudy and foggy when we arrived at Stonehenge and it made the site feel even more mysterious than it already is.

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Cloudy day at Stonehenge

Salisbury was a beautiful city with incredible architecture from Victorian, Tudor, Medieval and modern times.
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Streets of Salisbury

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Salisbury Architecture

The cathedral was also incredible and housed one of the best preserved copies of the Magna Carta.

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Salisbury Cathedral Exterior

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Salisbury Cathedral Interior

Everything about this town was magical; I felt like I was inside one of the Harry Potter movies with the long outdoor corridors of the cathedral. Overall, the day was long but very memorable.

Cheers!
Jennifer Saporito

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