post update

So I know what you are thinking… Where are all my travel posts? …Well my intentions were to blog about my travels while I was abroad. I even brought my computer with me and managed to get my London post up while there. But, I underestimated the amount of time that I would actually be spending exploring different cities each day.

Now that I am state side I will be starting to post about my travels within the next few days. I’ll also be posting some other travel tips and tricks plus I have some hopefully exciting news to share with you all.

So stay tuned because the travel posts I promised are coming!

Here’s a little sneak peak…

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cheers.

~meesh

a mix of emotions & a lot of thank you’s

I’m finally taking some time to sit down and reflect on my time abroad. It’s crazy, I’ve only been home for just over a month and yet Leeds and my time there feels like it’s a world away.

I guess I start right off the bat with I miss Leeds. I miss the culture, I miss my group of friends, I miss my flat mates, I miss being apart of something different. I miss being a plane or train ride away from the rest of Europe. I miss not being able to explore something newย  or a new place everyday. It’s really hard, there are so many things that I associate with my time there. I’ve been pretty close to tears a couple of times thinking about how much fun we all had and knowing that it will never be like that again. To know I never be able to travel Europe for a whole month straight. And, to know that my Monday nights will never live up to Monday night Quids In….. it hurts my heart. But, I know that I will always have the memories, and the pictures to remember my time by.

I wish I could just hop on a plane a go back. And I guess that’s a pretty good indicator of what my time there meant to me. I’m about to get pretty deep here, by my standards, so get ready.

Before I went abroad I was a pretty closed off person. There were some things that happened in my early years of college (I’m so old :() that turned me off to a lot of the typical college things. I didn’t really go out much and when I did I would always find a nice corner to stand in, so I never really enjoyed it. It doesn’t help that I have like zero FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) so I never really felt like I was missing out. And honestly I have to give a huge shout out to all my friends at U of I for putting up with my ridiculousness, because my independence sometimes makes me a real brat.

Ok enough back story. I don’t know if deciding to go abroad and actually going abroad was a huge step outside my comfort zone because I’m a pretty independent really independent person and once I decided to go that was it. I don’t really know who or what to credit for getting me to really open up and just say yes to things. I think it might have been because I truly wanted to make the most of my experience, so that I could look back and be like ‘damn, I had a really good time,’ which I did, lol.

It seemed that in me going to study abroad in Leeds the stars aligned. I’m so glad I said yes to everything I did, even though I might be broke for having doing so. And writing this now I’m finding it very hard to put into words what my study abroad experience meant to me. I truly ‘yoloed it.’

I guess what I really just want to say is thank you….

To my U of I gals, thank you for teaching me to yes to things. For sometimes pushing me a little too far outside my comfort zone because you knew it was good for me. For always picking on me because I can’t even speak American English correctly. For making me laugh uncontrollably for 5 minutes over nothing in particular. For putting up with my crazy person like tendencies. For making me re-learn how to enjoy a night out. And, for being the 3 best people to travel Europe with for 5 months. You 3 are irreplaceable.

To my flatmate Chase, thank you for defining what it is to just rally and yolo it. For making Monday Night Quids In a regular thing. For taking in all the neighborhood cats and giving them your own names. Salem <3. For somehow always getting free shots at Pryzm because the promoter knows you. For always being up for anything. For always putting up with me, lol. You will forever be my Quids In partner in crime. Maybe one day they will want us to be the special guests. Oh, and thanks for living in Wisconsin so I only have to travel an hour to visit.

To the Brits, thank you for putting up with me and all my craziness. For still wanting to hang out with me even after you realized I might be legit crazy. For some of the best nights out and pre’s I’ve ever had. And, for teaching me, kind of, how to play Rugby.

To my stateside friends, thank you for putting up with the crazy time difference. For dealing with my spotty wifi. For still wanting to be my friend after not hearing from me for days at a time. For still being my friend now that I’m home….

To my sister, thank you for inspiring me to go. For only being a little mad I didn’t choose to study in Italy. For giving me guidance all through college. For being extremely tough loving. For wanting to plan a trip back sometime soon. And, for being a pretty great older sister overall despite your flaws. I’m still my favorite sister, lol.

To my family, thank you for still remembering me after being away for 5 months. For all your kind words and advice. For sending cards and always thinking of me. For following along with my travels by reading my blog. And, for being my family. But, not for everyone having birthdays in the spring so that I had to miss every single one of them, not cool.

And lastly…

To my parents, thank you for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. For supporting me all along the way. For letting me go all the way to England for 5 months. For always being a text away even at 2 or 3am. For putting up with the time difference. For giving me no boundaries in terms of where I could go. For not saying no. For loosing up on the reins and giving me the chance to be free. For coming to visit me. For loving me unconditionally. And, for being the best parents out there. I will never be able to say thank you enough for this opportunity you gave to me. You truly have given me the world for that, I am forever grateful and indebted to you.

And, I know I’ve only just scratched the surface of all the thank you’s I have but I can’t go on forever.

Study abroad was the best decision I’ve ever made. I learned and re-learned a lot of things. I’ve made some incredible friendships and a hell of a lot of memories I’ll never forget. I have a whole difference perspective and outlook on life. And most importantly I know now just how powerful and rewarding it is to say yes.

Cheers.

~meesh

london adventure part 1

Only someone as crazy as myself would decide to buy a train ticket into London at 5:05am, why? because I wanted to buy what was cheapest…After managing to get up and get ready at 4 in the morning to make my train I then realized I would be walking through the streets of Leeds alone at this hour. Let’s just say that it wasn’t my best idea, but I was comforted by the fact that when I was getting up and ready to go my flatmates where just getting in from the night out, so I figured how bad could it be?

Don’t worry mom and dad, I clearly made it to the train safe and sound but never again. (insert emoji of the girl making an x with her arms)…So by the time I got into the London the sun had just come up, it had rained all night and there was a ton of moisture in the air, needless to say when I stepped off the train my hair was a mess within minutes, which is why I got no pictures of myself #sorrynotsorry.

IMG_4326 IMG_4324 IMG_4323 IMG_4320 IMG_4304Photos: Taken somewhere near Oxford Circus

I managed to find my way over to Oxford Circus, where I planned to meet meet a friend in front of the H&M there. First, Google maps I don’t know why you took me off the beaten path to get there….but whatever I made it. And, second there just so happened to be 3 different H&M’s within a block from Oxford Circus so I proceeded to check all 3. But like really 3 separate H&M’s within a 3 block radius, I like H&M but not that much…

IMG_4310 IMG_4313 IMG_4300 IMG_4293Photos: Telephone booth and cool lion statue

Whatever…so we finally found each other tg or else we’d have been screwed. And because of course I plan nothing really in advance we decided to just wander in the general direction of where we needed to go. And after walking through some semi-mysterious crushed gravel courtyard, we found ourselves approaching Parliament Square, where a guard proceeded to scare the sh*t of me. But I was totally fine, although it was slightly creepy.

IMG_4288 IMG_4282 IMG_4276 IMG_4285Photos: Creepy guard and odd courtyard

None of that mattered, when I caught my first glimpse of him. Big Ben. I don’t know how many years I have dreamed about getting to see him in real life but it was pretty much just as I imagined it would be x100. I was literally about to cry but I held my tears back for the sake of my friend, Tom. So, I obviously proceed to take about a million pictures, which definitely don’t do Big Ben any justice. Seriously he’s so much more beautiful in person.

IMG_4272 IMG_4269 IMG_4263 IMG_4256 IMG_4248Photos: It was love a first sight…

Once I stopped gushing over Big Ben, we realized we couldn’t feel our fingers so we stopped in a few souvenir shops to pick a few things and of course warm up. Once we felt slightly revitalized we headed towards the river because we need to cross to get to Borough Market where we were meeting our other friend before the football game. And, I honestly have no idea how we got there because neither of us really had a clue.

IMG_4260 IMG_4247 IMG_4240 IMG_4235 IMG_4233Photos: View from waterfront

We finally got there and the smell of food made me realize how hungry I was in seeing I had nothing since I’d woken up at 3:30 that morning. So we found this cheap looking hole in the wall sort of place and figured, ok sure. I have to say when we walked in I was quite intimidated. I was literally like one of 2 girls in the place and it was clear we were tourists because I had my camera around my neck.

IMG_4227 IMG_4226Photos: View from the other side of the river

I think I’ll stop here for now before I start to bore you, but this was only half the day. We hadn’t even been to the football game which was the reason for my trip into London in the first place. So I guess it’s to be continued….

Enjoy.

~meesh

More London city photos here.

50 shades of sheffield

With a month off for ‘Easter Break’ the weekends prove to be the perfect time to take a day trip. And with no class on Friday…why not start the weekend early…

So I hopped off the Train at STS

With a dream and my cardigan.

Welcome to the land of South Yorkshire,

Am I gonna fit in?

Walked to the map,

Here I am for the first time .

Look to my right and I see the City Hall sign.

This is all so crazy,

Everybody seems so English…

Lol….I couldn’t stop myself….maybe I’m a little homesick of Miley and parties in the USA. But, that’s really beside the point….

Sheffield is a really quaint town just south of Leeds, and just north of Nottingham. And since the train ticket was pretty cheap, why not? Since Sheffield was not listed in my guidebook we weren’t really sure what to do, but since the whole just wandering around thing seemed to work pretty well in Liverpool…we figured to just go for it.

IMG_3843 IMG_3911 IMG_3909 IMG_3902 IMG_3891 IMG_3876 IMG_3874 IMG_3860 IMG_3855 IMG_3845 IMG_3852 IMG_3832 IMG_3934 IMG_3931Photos: Around and about in Sheffield

The city was full of little parks and fountains or ‘water features’ as they are called here…around every corner. And as we left Courtney said “Au revoir big balls” to play homage to our favorite water feature there.

IMG_3883 IMG_3881 IMG_3884 IMG_3885Photos: The big balls…

For more photos of Sheffield and of my other travels too, check out my flickr!

Enjoy.

~meesh

P.S. This post is appropriately titled “50 shades of Sheffield” because it seemed that the 50 Shades of Grey franchise owned the city, with a poster for the movie around every corner…literally, and with all their “big balls” it seems to fit perfectly.

it’s all about the bacon

Today marks the first official day of classes here at Uni (it’s what they call University…I’m trying to adopt a first words from their lingo). Although I didn’t have any classes schedule today I had a few administrative items to take care of on campus.

First on the list was picking up my I.D. card so I headed over to campus with my Illinois crew to student services. We were to get them on level nine….and when we walk in, on the ground level, we were on level 9….so we were a little like ‘ok then….lets hope this is the right place.’

IMG_3391Photo: The walk onto campus, to the right is Student Services

Now instead of taking a photo there, like you normally would, we were required to upload a photo before hand, which was also quite strange…But, anyways we got our I.D. so yay! I guess we are official students now, before it was as if we had no sense of purpose without our I.D. cards.

Then we went on to tackle bigger and better things like changing our class schedule because class on a Friday just wasn’t going to cut it. This is where things get tricky because as a study abroad student you can’t just go in a register for any class you want like you would at U of I. You have to go through the schools administrative office to do so. And because the different schools don’t work together it’s a lot easier to take classes that are all in the same school or else you have to go from school to school…and literally like walk from school to school…to get approvals.

IMG_3418Photo: Leeds equivalent to U of I Alma

Lucky for me I was able to add and drop a class in the same school so I was able to kill two birds with one stone. And it’s actually a huge relief to have my schedule all sorted out because now I know for sure what I’m taking and I can stop sending emails lie crazy to get in touch with people about making a change. It was literally driving me up a wall, I was emailing like 20 a day trying to get answers.

So, now you’re asking why is it all about the bacon. well that’s because here there really is no center of campus. There’s nothing substantial to base yourself off of when you are trying to find certain buildings. But on the walk into to campus there happens to be a sculpture that looks a whole lot like 2 pieces of bacon.

IMG_3401Photo: The infamous bacon

Now of course it only looks like bacon to us Americans because the bacon in England is WAYYYYY different than in the USA. So of course us Americans base all the building around the bacon. So today as we were finding the buildings we needs to go to we were like ‘oh it’s across from the bacon.’

It’s basically become our “quad” in a sense even though it not nearly as big of a space. But in terms of getting to class it really is all about the bacon…

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Photo: Outside the Union, so festive IMG_3402 IMG_3404

Photo: Back entrance to Union IMG_3406 IMG_3407 IMG_3411 IMG_3421 IMG_3383

Photo: Harry Potter like staircase….IMG_3386For more photos, check out my flickr.

Enjoy.

~meesh

the pubs rules no. 1

After like 24 hours of no sleep and our last meal having been on the plane the night before around 11, needless to say we were starving Thursday night after we had gotten all settled in.

We had wanted to go to the Old Bar in the Union because we had heard the food there was pretty good. And that way we would be able to walk through campus a little bit and see how to even get there from our flats. Somehow we managed to find our way over there, and it’s really not far at all. I really think it’s a shorter walk than what I used to walk down at U of I.

Anyways we make it to the union and of course the Old Bar is jam packed…there was no open table and it’s kind of like you just find a place to sit, you don’t wait to be seated.

But, this isn’t really the point of the story….so because that place was pack we headed up the street to find another pub. And because we were so hungry we literally picked the first place we found…I think it’s called The Eldon.

IMG_3292Photo: It wouldn’t have been right if I didn’t order fish and chips as my first meal in England…

We got in and got a table, sat down and started waiting to be served. So….this is where pub rule no. 1 comes into play….

We had sat there close to 15-20 minutes and no one was coming to take our order or anything and of course I’m like “Omg I’m so hungry I’m going to die,” you know just making complaint after complaint. Then we see other people going up to the bar and ordering and we were like mmmmh maybe you have to go up there to order?

Of course I wasn’t about to jump up and be the guinea pig, but one girl decided to just go for it and what do you know…you have to be assertive if you want to be served in England. If you don’t go up to the bar and take matters into your own hands then you will go hungry because they won’t come to you that’s for sure.

IMG_3293Photo: We ended up going to the Old Bar for lunch the next day, after orientation and I got the Mac and Cheese…i think there was literally a block of cheese in it…

Knowing that there was food on the way were all relieved to finally be getting a good meal in. And with that we learned the first of many pubs rules we still have to learn.

Enjoy.

~meesh

getting there….

Oh my gosh…I can’t believe that I’m really here.

After a quick flight to Philly we (as in the other U of I students I traveled with ๐Ÿ™‚ ) were anxious to get on the plane and head to Manchester. Although I almost had a panic attack after we were FORCED, literally forced to have our carry-ons checked on the flight to Philly because it was full. And because we got stuck in boarding zone 5, we had no choice….I was basically in tears while I was getting on the plane…(all my luggage it made it so it’s fine).

gt7Photo: Sky Mall mag…I couldn’t resist, it’s just too funny

In Philly we happened to come across a group of Wisconsin students heading to Leeds as well, small world! But let me tell you this was the longest journey of my life. The plane was suppose to take off around 9, but was delayed due to a mechanical issue, lucky for us the let us board before the repair had been logged aka we had to wait for it to be logged before take off. So finally we get the go ahead, but wait….the plane had been sitting at the gate all day and was all icy due to the weather there….so then we had to wait for the plane to be de-iced. By the time we finally took off it was an hour and a half later.

gt5 gt6Photos: The plane being de-iced and our flight journey map

Since it was a night flight I had hoped to get a little sleep, I knew I wasn’t going to get a lot but I figured I’d be able to sleep off and on….but of course I get stuck in front of an old man who apparently doesn’t need sleep and was playing a game on the screen that was attached to the back of mine. And because it was a touch screen every time he touched the screen I could feel it…so much for sleeping.

gt4Photo: The food was actually pretty good, and you got a decent portion.

Ok, so we finally land, finally and we are all anxious and tired to get off the plane but had to wait AGAIN because the jet air way wouldn’t attach to the plane properly for us to walk from the plane into the terminal. We waited another half hour for them to attach a stairway. All in the flight was supposed to be about 6 hours from Philly and we ended up being on that plane for close to eight. Needless to say we were ready to get our feet back on the ground literally.

gt2 gt3Photos: The clouds looked like the trees from the Lorax, idk why I made that connection and our ending flight journey map.

Lucky for us the journey didn’t end there, we still had to get a train from Manchester to Leeds. And as luck would have it the station connected to the airport was temporary closed because it’s getting a new platform, so we had to be bused from the airport over to the station in the city. The ride wasn’t too bad, it was nice to get to see a bit of Manchester but we stood out like sore thumbs when we got off the bus to walk over into the station because we had all this luggage…

gt1Photo: Train ticket, it says airport because the bus fee was included in the ticket price.

We finally got on the train headed for Leeds and were relieve to be on the last leg of the journey. It happened to be an express train and took less than an hour to get there. We got to see a lot of the country side and hillside towns. It was so picturesque, there was a bit of snow too, so everything looked that much more beautiful under a little blanket of pure white snow.

FINALLY we arrived in Leeds from there we split a taxi over to our residence hall, and I have to say it’s much prettier than I thought it would be. Then again everything here looks like it’s straight out of Harry Potter, there’s red brick everywhere.

gtPhoto: The view from my room, I’m slightly obsessed.

My room is just fine, has everything that I need including a sink and mirror. My flatmates are cool to…one is actually one of the people we had met from Wisconsin on the flight so really same world, one girl is from Holland, there’s another girl whom I only met quickly in passing and another guy from Singapore that I have yet to meet.

gt8Photo: Unknown, but pretty campus building.

It sure did take a while but I got here safe and sound and I’m starting to get all settled in. I have another post in works that should be pretty funny and I can’t wait to see what else Leeds has in store for me and my new U of I mates!

Enjoy.

~meesh

P.S. I will be uploading some picture I took today to my flickr in a bit.