My first ever Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Long Island

So I thought I should firstly carry on the tradition and begin with what I’m thankful for.

Firstly i’m thankful for my family, for supporting me in everything I do, not just in my crazy want to travel the world, but for everything they’ve done for me, especially my Mom. She is my rock, I miss her so much and I’m so excited to see her in 2 weeks! I’m thankful for all my friends; home, Uni and everywhere in England. I’m especially thankful for those who have stayed in touch, whether it’s just been the odd comment, or saying you’ve read my blog, skype, phone call, or a drunken snapchat on a weekend, every message has meant so much to me, more than any of you know.

I’m thankful for all my new friends here, both American and International, everyone has been so sweet and welcoming, and I have met some incredible people here, and I know that many of you will be friends for life.

I’m thankful for the series of events that have occurred during my life, that have led me to where I am now and made me who I am today. I am thankful for this incredible opportunity i’ve been given to be here and I’m so very thankful that I get to be here for another 6 months next year! (grinny face.)

Long Island
So for Thanksgiving break I stayed with my friend Liz and her family in Long Island along with our Hawaiin friend Keena. It was really awesome to finally see another part of New York state and get out of Poughkeepsie for a short while, and Long Island is beautiful. Liz took us on a tour of the island showing us where she grew up and went to school, the beaches, some famous people’s houses (Natalie Portman house and the Goo Goo dolls lead singers house) and general area, we got coffee, hung out, ate a ton of reeeallllly good food (nice break from the cafeteria and student meals!) and ate our weight in bagels.

So what else did we get up to?

Thanksgiving Eve
Yep, that’s a thing here! Basically as people don’t have work, school or anything the next day, everyone goes out partying and gets crazy drunk with their friends and family. Kinda like Christmas eve back at home for us Brits! Then everyone’s nice and hungover ready to devour turkey the next day. We met up with Avi for dinner at an Italian Restaurant and then Liz’s friends from High school later on at a bar on the island where I ofcourse, had a few Long Island ice teas.

Thanksgiving
So thanksgiving was amazing. We had a huge Turkey, ate a ton of food including pumpkin pie and apple pie (sooo good!) and watched a bit of the game. As a Brit it felt pretty similar to Christmas, it’s winter outside, you sit around eating amazing food all day and just veg around watching TV.

With so much to cook Keena and I offered our helping hands in the kitchen and ended up making some goodies; including ‘Britawaii’ mash potato (get it?), stuffing and shrimp cocktail.

Thanksgivingukkah
This year Hanukkah also fell on the same day as Thanksgiving for the first time since the year 1888 (this won’t happen again for another 70,000 years) And as Liz’s Dad is Jewish we also got to celebrate that. We listened to the girls say the candle blessing in Hebrew and then watched their Dad light the first candle to be placed on the menorah. It was really cool! We’re not exposed to much Judaism in Britain so I felt very honored to be a part of it.

Black Friday
SALE SHOPPING. So we didn’t brave the malls (as people have literally been trampled on to death there before.) So we went to the Americana on Long Island which is a really cute outdoor shopping complex with some amazing stores (mainly stuff that if I sold both kidneys for I still could not afford.) However we went to Urban Outfitters and I ended up spending $100 (woops.) The girls took me for a browse in Tiffany’s too (i’d never been in one before and didn’t really know what it was! *gasp*) We also got lunch at a Japanese restaurant called Benihanas, where they cook the food in front of you and do all sorts of crazy tricks with it (the dude made an onion volcano! – pics below)

So our trip unfortunately has now come to an end, we have finals now and I am literally dying under a pile of homework. Home on the 15th December and i’m mega excited to get back and see everyone. Only home for 2 weeks then i’m back in NYC for New Years Eve eek!

Sam x

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Thanksgiving Eve Italian
Keena, Liz, Avi and I

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Parade!

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Thanksgiving
Menorah, Turkey and me cooking!

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Black Friday: (clockwise) Urban Outfitters, Chef in Benihanas, Tiffany’s, Tiffany Tree, Black Friday sign, my Urban Outfitters purchases and Xmas lights

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More Black Friday: Playing ‘guess the price’ with Keena in J.Crew – Blue sequined skirt was $699 (what?!)
Also a rice heart and Onion volcano at Benihanas

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Saturday: Liz’s friend Maggie’s 21st, free shots with the Bartender and me and my Long Island Ice Tea on Thanksgiving Eve!

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Clockwise: Natalie Portman’s house, a church, Goo Goo doll’s house and Sea Cliffe Beach

New York City, Sisterhood, and the World’s Tallest Rollercoaster

First things first.

Sisterhood
I said in my last Blog post I had been pledging for a sorority. I had been pledging with Ally, for going on almost EIGHT weeks. It had been rough, and we still had no idea when we were getting in..

On Saturday 16th November at 1:30am WE FINALLY GOT IN!!!!!

Literally so relieved and so happy. I obviously cannot reveal what exactly happened in the ridiculous amount of hours in the run up to us getting in, but I can tell you the moment we did was a complete and utter shock and one I will remember for the rest of my life.

So now that we are finally Sisters and have our letters (pictures below) and can go out again without worrying about being caught 😛 we spent the weekend CELEBRATING!!!

Greek Paddles
As part of the tradition of getting into a sisterhood, you make Paddles for your Big. There’s alot of different theories as to why the paddle came about, but its core is to show respect for your sorority, your pride for your letters and a thank you to your Big. But seriously people go to town on making these paddles!(just google greek paddles and you will be blown away.) So Ally and I spent the whole of Sunday making our giant paddles for each of our Bigs, 1 for each of our pledge moms and then I made one for Ally as our Alpha Tau Class President. We got to present them on monday and the girls loved them! 😀 really pleased and had so much fun making them (pictures below.)

So what else?

11th November
Well we had Veterans day (the U.S version of Remembrance Day!) Had no idea the Americans had the same kind of the thing as us on the same day (only difference is they don’t have the whole Poppy theme going on, it’s all about the American flag) but it was really cool to see the amazing amount of patriotism going on over here and nice to see that the 11th November is celebrated on both sides of the world.

6 flags!! and the WORLDS TALLEST ROLLERCOASTER
TOTALLY forgot to mention I went to a theme park in New Jersey a few weeks ago. We went for the Fright Fest just before Halloween. Was a crazy day and night, went on Superman: Ultimate Flight and Kingda Ka – The worlds tallest rollercoaster and literally the scariest thing I have ever been on in my whole life, the thing is huge (for people of the UK, it is over TWICE the height of Stealth at Thorpe Park *gulp.*) Also as it was Fright Fest there were zombies and clowns all over the park ready to jump out at you, (one really tall zombie dude with a pretend chainsaw scared the absolute life out of me.) Really cool day though and totally recommend going.

New York City
So on Saturday I went shopping in Soho with my wonderful Avi and Shanice (my other Brit from Aston Uni.) Shanice and I caught the coach and went to meet Avi whom was already in the city, having seen Macklemore the night before at Madison Square Garden (so jealous.) However we managed to get completely, utterly and hilariously lost, walking around for over an hour and managing to do a complete loop on our mission to meet Avi in the New York TopShop in Soho. We eventually found it and managed to stumble across some cool sites along the way. I’m not reeeeally a huge fan of shopping (umm.. but aren’t you like, a girl?!) I kind have a bit of a man mentality of get in and go, but it was really cool to walk around Soho and see some of the shops/stores that NY had to offer and watch Avi buy out half of H&M*. Did buy a new pashmina though for like $5 in a little store (I love NY!) Ate Quiznos for the first time, saw New York City in the Fall and Shanice got her first ever Starbucks (I know, I couldn’t believe she’d never had one either..)

*Avi has also joined my blogging bandwagon and now has his own fashion Blog! check it out: introtoavi.blogspot.com

Overall
To be honest, life is pretty sweet right now, I mean on Friday I was accepted into a Sorority, I spent the next day casually shopping in New York City, like actual New York! Went out on Saturday night with my new Sisters celebrating, school is going well and we have Thanksgiving next week. My life is so American right now it’s unreal and I absolutely love it.

Sam x

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Paddles
Kenya (My Big) and Ally (Alpha Tau Class President)

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Paddles
B and Majay (Our Pledge Mom’s) and Essence (Ally’s Big)

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Kingda Ka – 6 Flags Theme Park, New Jersey
THE WORD’S TALLEST ROLLERCOASTER

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NYC with Avi and Shanice
New York Supreme Court, World Trade Centre 1 and TopShop

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We got in!
Bellow presenting paddles to our Bigs Essence and Kenya and pledge moms B and Maj
(My Green/White Letters are our official Family letters eek)

Filming for MCTV, CNN and The Compiled List of ‘The Weird and The Wonderful’

Yesterday was a surreal day, I had an 8am first thing which I was dead on time for (what?!)and after class, I got chatting to my favourite Professor to get some help with my homework assignment. Basically, we have to think of a topic for a speech and I was a bit stuck as to what to write. My Professor asked me how I was finding things being over here, and in the end we chatted for so long she invited me to hang out in her office with her, she asked about my blog and I told her about the list I’d been compiling over the last 4 weeks of all the weird and wonderful things I’d discovered since being here. She couldn’t believe some of the examples I was giving her, especially the difference between classes here and back in the UK and she suddenly jumped up, clapped her hands in the air (she’s is literally so enthusiastic I love her) and decided that THAT would make an incredible topic for my speech in class: “College life differences between the UK and the USA by an English Girl living in New York,” so low and behold I got my subject for my speech (Winning.)

So in true nerdish prep for my homework (i’m such a dork at the moment), I thought it was about time I shared with you some of the weird and wonderful things I have found since living here:

The List

  • Ok, firstly, nobody can comprehend how small England is. “like omg you can drive to other side in like under 9 hours??
  • Red, green, orange and yellow peppers are referred to as ‘Bell Peppers’ (and you can get packs of just yellow, orange and red!!)
  • The drinking age and the education system actually make a big, big difference between 18 years old’s here and 18 year old’s in the UK (I’ll be writing a post on that in a few weeks)
  • Nobody has ever heard of a Gilet – it’s a ‘Vest’
  • Posh trousers are referred to as ‘Slacks’
  • Very few people have heard of the country, Wales
  • Even fewer people have heard of Cornwall
  • ..and Cornish Pasties
  • ..or Yorkshire Puddings (“It’s kinda like custard” was one description I heard, and she is now called ‘custard for the foreseeable future)
  • Everyone has watched Skinz
  • Downton Abbey is also a fave
  • Edinburgh is pronounced ‘Eden-Burger’
  • ‘Twat’ is an unknown insult
  • ‘Ta’ is an unknown thank you
  • Texting and calling whilst driving is considered ok
  • So is borrowing your friends car to drive home, after a night out
  • Aluminium is pronounced – ‘Illu-min-um’
  • Clingfilm is – ‘Cling-wrap’ or ‘Saran-wrap’
  • The first 3 digits of a cell phone in the USA is actually the area code (917 is NY)
  • Candy refers to anything that consists of sweets or chocolate
  • Poptarts are incredible
  • ‘Hay girl’ is a genuine greeting
  • Zipcodes are confusing
  • Nobody can understand an English accent over the phone
  • ‘Whats up?’ is another term for ‘How are you?’
  • They have actual plug sockets in the bathroom
  • People skateboard and scooter to class (yes scooter!!)
  • Headbands are also still fashionable
  • No matter how many times I tell someone where I’m from in the UK, they still think I’m from London
  • Putting on an American accent and switching back to an English accent on nights out to confuse people is more fun than I ever imagined
  • … and an English person doing an American accent in general is apparently hilarious
  • Instagram is Online Dating for College Kids
  • McFly were once really big in Hawaii
  • Spending Dollars is like spending Monopoly money

So what else happened in my bizarre day?

MCTV
After lunch I ended up wandering past the ‘Flag Stall’ that was on campus, I’d meant to bring a Union Jack flag with me over here, and I asked the guy running the stall if he had any, he spun round and asked me in THE broadest Irish accent ever “Aye! and where might YOU be from!?” I laughed and replied “Birmingham” and he lit up and shouted “AH! Buuuuur-minghum!!” Turns out he lived there for a few years before emigrating over to Boston with his now American Wife. Small world! and so nice to actually hear that hideous impression again haha. I ended up buying a giant flag and he gave me a free Union Jack sticker to go with it (yay.)

Anyway, as I started to walk off I noticed the MCTV film crew filming the stall and I decided to walk over and say hello, I started chatting to them and said I was still really interested in getting involved but hadn’t heard anything from them (i’d met a few members a few weeks ago). Turns out they’d got the wrong number, so I swapped numbers with one of the girls and she said she’s contact me with the next meeting time.

That evening at 6:15pm, I got a text asking “Could I please be at the Theatre in the Student Centre to help cover and film a launch by CNN senior analyst Jeffrey Toobin at 7pm?”

So that evening I was at the Marist College 2013 Autumn Lecture Series Launch helping to set up the cameras and film a live talk given by Jeffrey Toobin (CNN’s senior legal analyst/reporter and a staff writer at The New Yorker!!) who was discussing his latest book ‘The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court’ and his inside account of the ideological war between John Robert’s Supreme Court and the Obama Administration.

I got to have a go at some filming, play around with the cameras, go to the front and help film question and answers, listen to some very interesting debates on American Politics and I even got to personally meet Jeffrey Toobin at the end of the talk when the film crew interviewed him.

I swear the word ‘Surreal’ doesn’t cut it for this place sometimes.

‘Jeffrey Toobin’ about: http://www.cnn.com/CNN/anchors_reporters/toobin.jeffrey.html

Pictures of my new flag, tea and me filming below:

Sam x

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Filming Jeffrey Toobin with MCTV

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Feeling Patriotic

How to get an A+ in America, Weird words & Labor Day

So I have finally sorted my classes out, and after the first week I already have my favorite: Public Presentation (basically we have to stand at the front of the class and talk, yay) and I absolutely love my tutor, she’s a crazy mad women from Queens, NY who loves teaching and seems to quite like me.

Everyone here literally has so much enthusiasm and energy, and it especially shows in classes. To do well here you HAVE to show enthusiasm, answer questions, try and get extra credit (yes that is a real thing here) do your homework, assignments, read your books and show up to ALL your classses. (nerds..). I’ve already started to feel like i’m the annoying girl who constantly has her hand up in class haha, but I don’t care, this place has made me realise just how much I miss school! Putting your. hand up to answer a question, being all nervous it might be wrong and then feeling all clever and when you have got it right (I love it,) In the UK it’s so impersonal, but people learn in different ways and for many of my friends the UK University system works well for them. But personally, i’m a dork, I want my teachers to like me.

Weird Words
Also in class this week I very nearly made the brutal mistake of asking somebody for a ‘Rubber’… (a.k.a Eraser) It was only due to a previous conversation with a friend about Fringe’s (or ‘Bangs’ or whatever) that we got onto the discussion of how America has really strange words compared to England (you do, don’t deny it). We know the usual ‘Trash’ and ‘Sidewalk’ but recently i’m discovering more and more words like ‘Slacks’ (posh trousers) ‘Burner’ (hob) and Zucchini (courgette people!) I then suddenly remembered that a rubber (eraser) here means something veryyy different in the U.S compared to the UK. (It means a condom! (gasp!) and I had a minor chuckle to myself in class as to who funny it would have been if I had asked the person next to me if I could please borrow a rubber..

So what else has happened this week? Well, I discovered American clubbing, and my god it has been a SURREAL experience.

I had my first night out in NYC, with my friends from the UK. After walking around the city we eventually ended up in a club, with entry, a table and two bottles of Grey Goose vodka paid for by three gentlemen we had met in the queue. Now I am sure they were three absolutely charming gentlemen with no ulterior motive intended what.so.ever (ahem) but towards the end of the night, we went to the loo’s and decided it might be best to make a run for it and we got a cab home to our hostel. Which by the way I have to recommended – Hostelling International NYC on Amsterdam Ave – bedding and towel, beer garden, rec area, theatre and only $50 in NYC (amazing! website at the bottom.)

I also discovered clubbing in our town of Poughkeepsie, New York (wow!)
• So clubs here are FREE
• You can pay the bouncer $10 to que jump
• Vodka is SO cheap• Students have tabs (yep, TABS)
• They play amazing music (american house party, house, dance, alterntaive rock and everyone loves Blink 182.)
• They don’t check your bags or do pat downs
• People like to twerk – alot
• Pre-drinking is called ‘pre-gaming’
• People go for a slice of pizza at the end of the night (it’s literally one GIANT slice)
• In some clubs they have things going on like Hula hoop and Volley Ball
• Pulling is what you would expect to see in under 18 clubs in the U.K
• Everyone shares a cab home, even if they are going to different places – i.e. everyone pays $3 dollars to get in the taxi, they will literally ask people to sit on eachother to fill the taxi up as much as possible, then the taxi will drop off everyone accordingly (mental!)

We like sports
This week I also went to the gym (what?!) played some basketball, signed up for some clubs at the activities fair including Volley Ball, Marist Relay for Life *squals*, Skiing, Ultimate Frisbee, a Sorority and some other stuff.

On Saturday we went to the first College American Football Game of the season (Go Red Foxes!!) we had to be evacuated though due to a sudden massive storm appearing out of nowhere and the risk of the stadium being struck by lightning (awks). Literally one of THE most amazing storms I have ever been in.

I also met the Professor of the Television and Broadcasting class. On the discovery of my English accent he launched into much he loves the BBC and after chatting for several minutes about how much he loves Downton Abbey (honestly everyone loves that show here) he insisted on bringing me into his class to introduce me to all his students (omg) I was asked if I wanted to join the TV society and told I could maybe read College News (what!) Also this week I’ve got so badly bitten I’ve finally had to invested in some bug spray.

Today is also Labor Day which means no work and no classes 🙂

Hostelling International link: http://hinewyork.org/

Pictures of the week:

Sam x

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The First Week of College.

It’s been a mad, exciting, surreal, weird and wonderful week.

We’ve had Orientation where I learnt things like; They DO use the grade system of A, A+ B etc (so much more fun than 2.1’s and 1’s!!) Campus “etiquette” i.e. how to be a polite human being around campus, who we need to talk to if we are feeling sad, how to change our classes and how to use the library (28 day loan people!!!)

Our group has expanded and become even more weird and wonderful and we’ve become very close as a group. I have developed the nickname ‘Geordie Shore’ from my lovely Israley/English friend Avi, as I am apparently very outgoing, loud and wear fake tan, lol. He insist it’s a compliment and we have the best team ever at Beer Pong.

The ‘accent.’ There have been mixed reactions about my accent, I had been under the complete pretense that over here everyone would LOVE my accent before I left, only to be greeted with the fact that in the city, nobody gave a crap I was British. Seriously, I could have been walking around with a monocle and top hat and no one would have batted an eyelid. However, College has been a completely different story, everyone is so excited about the fact I am from England!! and many have taken it upon themselves to imitate me (which is absolutely hilarious) “Hello I am from Eng-erl-land, please may I have a cup of tea?” I love it. I also love the fact that so many people in the U.S think that everyone knows everyone in England. “Oh wow! you’re from England! Do you know Caroline Eavestock? She’s also from England!” So funny.

Applebee’s. We’ve had a birthday already for my lovely french friend Alessandra, and we went to Apple Bee’s (eeek) we’ve been shopping and gone to the Mall, rushed to breakfast most mornings, (got up at 7am everyday this week except for today for orientation) and we’ve gone to an American house party and real American Diner.

I have learnt that American guys are on the other end of the scale of outgoing compared to British guys. Seriously, I was walking to meet some of the girls and could vaguely hear someone running shouting “ma’am! ma’am!” So i turned around, only to be greeted by an 18 year old American football freshman running up to me to say hello, insisting on giving me his number and then left me alone when he realised I was 22.. haha. To be honest i’m not actually as depressed about being 22 as I was in England as the drinking age here is of course 21 so I can still happily keep up my wine hobby.

Roomates. I moved into my new apartment and my 2 flatmates and roomate have moved in now too! and they are all wonderful girls. My roomate is from Brooklyn, New York! and the 2 girls next door are from Hawaii, yep HAWAII. I shamelessly asked them if they liked ‘Lilo and Stitch (don’t judge me, you were all wondering too) and they revealed that they love it and like to watch it when they get homesick and I nearly passed out with happiness.

This week. Overall it’s been a pretty awesome week and I am loving it here. The freshman have moved in and the Sophomores, Juniors and Seniors have moved back (i’m classed as a Junior Exchange Student by the way, i.e. 3rd year) and we have the Block Party and Fireworks tonight to celebrate (woo!!) Anyway i’m off to get ready, I can’t believe class starts tomorrow! More on that next week.

Sam x

Image: Hudson River and the Rotunda Building (Student Center)

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Becoming an international..

So we have this thing back at my University in England, called the ‘Aston Aunties.’ They are current Aston University students, who volunteer over 2 weeks to help the International students and then normal UK students, arrive on campus and settle in. I have been lucky enough to have been an Aston Auntie greeting new International students straight from the Airport and helping them settle in over the week. I have always felt like I appreciated how nerve wracking it must be to come to a new country, unknown to its ways, words and customs and have always tried to be very welcoming.

It wasn’t until 3 days ago I fully appreciated just how nerve-racking, stressful and scary it really is to move to another country. Even to an English speaking student (I am in awe of those of you who have done placements to non-English speaking countries this year and before.) The moment occurred to me when I went to The Mall with my family to go to a ‘Target’ (USA version of a Wilkinsons) to buy a duvet and some pillows. Honestly, I have never, ever felt like such a foreigner in all my life. After about half an hour of trying to explain to the nice American shop lady that I already had bed sheets and therefore only needed a duvet to put inside the said bed sheets, and she kept running off to bring back different things that in no way represented a duvet. Eventually she pointed to the “Comforters” (which kinda look and feel like a duvet but with a funky pattern on it) and we gave up and brought that.

It was during this increasingly comical conversation that I experienced the sheer “omg, i am a real fish out of water here” moment and I realised just how completely and utterly naive I had been of the whole endeavor of moving to a foreign country for a year. I suppose now looking back, out of all the situations to have that realisation in, attempting to buy a duvet in the middle of a department store is probably on one of the less stressful moments to have that in. But still after leaving the mall, quickly having to say goodbye and drop my family off at the train station (as they were getting the plane back to England the next day)and continue in the taxi to return to campus, I did have a minor meltdown.

However, after only a few hours of being on campus that feeling had completely vanished. The people I have met the last 3 days have turned out to be some of the kindest, funniest and welcoming people I have ever met, not just from America (I would just like to comment on just how amazingly polite and friendly Americans are to complete and total strangers) but from all over the world. There is currently a group of us internationals hanging out before the rest of the campus returns on Saturday and everyone is from everywhere. Australia, Hong Kong, Iran, China, Tanzania, Ghana, France, Abu Dhabi, Russia, India.. you name it.

So what have I got up to the past 3 days?

I’ve been hanging out with the rest of the international students, had orientation (where they tell you things like fire safety, bears on campus and how you shouldn’t have a motorbike in you room), sat outside in the sun and had lunch on the Hudson river, moved out of my temporary accommodation and into my new apartment where I will have an actual roommate (whaaaat), gone to a party, seen some of the local wildlife on campus (they have ground hogs! which kind of look like beavers) learnt about the history of the College, drank out of red cups, played Beer Pong and learnt how to play Flip Cup (i’m pre-warning any of my friends in England that you will be taught this game as soon as I get home) and generally had an amazing time of things so far! The weather here is absolutely gorgeous and the views are amazing.

So I am now about to go and have tea with the other internationals and see what tonight brings. I will leave you with a picture of the Beer Pong, my new house and nice picture of the river.

Sam x

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Booked My Flights.

Yep, this morning I finally got round to booking my flights. August 16th, 8:30am from London, Heathrow. I also have some company on the plane! My Mom & lil’ bro will also be flying out with me. (They’ve never been to NY either so it’s the perfect excuse*.) I don’t actually start my “semester,” (love using all these new American words!!) until the 19th, so this will give me a nice day or two being a proper English tourist to do touristy things. Statue of Liberty, Ground Zero, Empire State etc etc..any pointers on places to go would be HUGELY welcomed. 

*This also means I have some extra suitcases to sneakily put more clothes and shoes in when they’re not looking..

Can’t believe how quickly it’s all coming around! Less than 6 weeks. But i’m mentally high fiving myself as I am finally writing in my blog for the first time ever/half sunbathing in the HOTTEST SUMMER ENGLAND HAS HAD SINCE 2006. 

Image: Ticket

Sam x