Hello Everyone! I hope your finals week went great and you are all finally enjoying your summer. I have been back in the states for almost three weeks now and as much as I enjoy being home I do miss London so much. Watching all the coverage of the Royal Wedding last week really made me want to go back to London, plus it did not help any when people would ask me ‘why didn’t you stay for the wedding?’. But I am just thankful for even having the opportunity to go and become familiar with such an amazing city. Well, I am finally coming around to tell you about my last days living abroad.
My last Monday was wonderful for the most part. I was invited by a friend of mine to have breakfast with her and her mother bright and early at the Wesley which was so lovely. This was the first time having breakfast at a really nice place in London. It was nice to be around a mother figure. I had some green tea with a nice filling breakfast of eggs, bacon and then shared some pancakes topped with whip cream and blueberries. Quite delicious. We chatted a little and after a lovely breakfast said our goodbyes but would soon again meet later to eat again for dinner with some other friends of hers and one of my flatmates. Any time I have spoken about food or eating out my friend Ying was usually almost always there with me. She loves to eat, as do I. Since I was close Regent Street I decided that I would do some shopping. Not for me though. After a nice day of doing a little shopping and walking around it was getting close to meeting my friend for dinners so I headed back to the flat. My flatmate and I had gotten ready and left early so we would not be late or get caught in the rain since it randomly decided to after a nice day out. We ate at this really nice japanese restaurant in the same area as the Wesley, where I had breakfast at earlier that day. I ate so much sushi it was not even funny. My friend Ying, who invited us to dinner, is always having me try foods I do not usually eat. That night I tried everything that was placed in front of me, and I mean everything, an entire whale. Okay not literally but I ate enough to get me sick. The food was all delicious but I was eating beyond the limit of being full. Guilty of gluttony. I went to bed with a fever and woke up feeling so weak that I just wanted to lay down and sleep all day. Which is exactly what I did. For some reason things like this always seem to happen to me while I am away from home, so I have gotten used to it. Long story short, I learned my lesson. Seafood was one of my favorite things to eat and now I despise it, well at least for a while.
Since my Tuesday was dedicated to recuperating from Monday, my week resumed on Wednesday with more trips to Covent Garden to do some more shopping and walking around enjoying what I would soon be leaving behind. Living in London was wonderful because there was always something to do when you had nothing to do. I could just walk outside and wonder somewhere and find new and interesting places or I would just go out and take photos. The city was just so amazing and inspiring.
Thursday was all about getting ready for my LCF graduation. My mother had sent me a package which had the dress and shoes that I would be wearing that evening. I had been waiting a week and a half for the package to come in but did not get it until that day. My mother told me she had looked online and the package had arrived days earlier but there was no note left behind so I had woke up early that day to go to the post office down the street and see if it was left there. That may have been one of the most hectic things that I had to do there. That post office was no help but sent me to another in Notting Hill- which is not a walk away may I add- and of course it started raining just as I headed to the tube. After going to that second post office the lady that help me at first just said we do not hold those packages after looking at the number that I had. At that point I had no idea what to do and I think she could see that look on my face so she took the number from me and went to the back. She had looked on the system to try and track it for me and what do you know it was at a different posting office in another part of the city. So once again I was back on on the tube heading towards Camden to a main parcel office where my package was being held due to a fee that needed to be paid.Thankfully after two hours of going from one post office to another and in the slight rain I finally got the box in my hands. I had to pay a VAT tax for bringing these goods into the UK. I was finally able to wear my dress to the graduation and looked fabulous, as did some of my other peers. The night was wonderful and my next post will have pictures and a little more on that.
I had told one of my flatmates that I would help her out with her luggage when she went to the airport, so on Saturday I did just that. She had quite a lot but it was no problem with the both of us. When I left I had wished I had an extra set of hands to help because it was tough with three suitcases and only two hands but I made it work and got a workout along the way. This whole experience has had many memories with this flatmate along with some other wonderful people who are all from different schools in the states. Living in a completely unfamiliar country was amazing and although the other girls and myself went through similar experience, London had different affects on us all. The friendships you make in life - I believe- are meant for a particular reason. In my life I feel the new people I meet have helped me grow as a person in many different ways. Despite our short time abroad- which at the time seemed like it would never come to an end- we all became very close and learned a lot about each other. I will cherish these friendships and the memories we made abroad and will definitely make sure to keep in touch. After waking up extra early that day, walked to the train station down the road and to the airport and back, I was exhausted. So I took a two hour nap to reboot then once I woke up headed to Portobello Market for the afternoon. I was on the search for some gifts for friends of mine back home. Along the way I found some really awesome pieces that I missed the weekend before. That has to be one of my favorite markets in London.
Towards the end of my time there, the city had just put up a bike rental station very close by my flat so I took one last bike ride on that Sunday. I really had no idea where I was planing on going but used this as an opportunity to try and discover places I had not yet already found. Traffic in London is pretty intense, this worried me since for some reason -even though I know how to ride a bike- I seem to be extra shaky when ridding these bikes. The rental system is really very easy, you pay with card and it is just one pound to rent and your first thirty minutes are free then about a four pound charge is added every hour. For some reason that day I could not seem to find a bike rack for almost two hours. I sure did get a really good workout that morning. The weather that day was once again sunny and warm. Those days were always extra wonderful just with the presence of the sun. After I searched everywhere for a place to turn my bike in- which does not have to be the same you got it from- I headed back to the flat to finally have lunch. Time was thankfully going slow so I decided to stop by Camden Market for the first time ever. This market was a bit different. I enjoyed walking around but shopping wise it not my favorite. A majority of the things being sold there all seemed to be the same with an enormous amount of vendors and not very one of a kind products. There was this one store though that was interesting. The store was called Cyberdog and it seemed like a dance club in there. Loud music, neon colors, black lights, people dancing to rave type music up on a ledge. I could not stop looking around at everything and the unique and interesting people working there. It was kind of funny cause the clothing sold there reminded me of the 1999 Disney channel movie Zenon:Girl of the 21st Century. No pictures were allowed inside the store though, I was so tempted to take some so you could see what I saw.
The rest of my time was spent cleaning and the flat and on my own might I add. The last person in the flat left that Monday morning and the housing staff left a notice that afternoon or morning stating the things that needed to be cleaned before the last person left or we would be fined. If there is one thing I dislike about any type of school housing is that they fine you for anything and everything they can. I must say after having to do that on my own I have no idea how some girls could live so dirty. Junk was left everywhere in their rooms like a tornado went though the room and in the kitchen no one felt the need to throw away their left over food or just move it neatly so that the cleaning ladies could take it if they had wanted. That really topped off my stress because I was already worried about my luggage and if it met my airlines luggage requirements. Ten big rubbish bags of food and junk left behind by the other girls is what I collected. Since I did not want to get fined and wanted my deposit back, I made sure to do it as correct as I could. My housing was very nice and I really enjoyed living there but some of the girls just did not know basic living etiquette or just how to be clean. Thankfully I did not have any problems with my actual roommate. Those of you thinking about studying abroad and are being placed in a similar housing situation please remember to be considerate of your other roommates and don’t forget those basic simple things your mother taught you growing up, please. Once I finished cleaning I headed to Harrods to pick up some macaroons for my family and friends that I wanted to try these amazing desserts, my last purchase in London.
The past three and a half months were some of the most amazing and memorable ones of my life. I will definitely never forget the new things I experienced and the people I met while living abroad. London will always have a special place in my heart and as much fun as it was, financially I was ready to come back to the states. It was all very wonderful and there is no doubt that I will be back again one day. Not a day has gone by that I do not remember moments or random things about London. I say this all the time but I am so thankful for having that opportunity, my mom kept telling me that I was living the dream she always wanted to do. Hopefully one day I can repay her for all the support and emotional support with a trip to London. I love my family and friends that have encouraged me and I will continue to make them and myself -of course- proud. I thank God everyday for everything and everyone in my life he has blessed me with. Remember to alway listen to your heart and follow your dreams and live life with no regrets. You can achieve anything you set your mind to! Look at me, and this is still just the beginning. There is so much more I still have to accomplish in life so I will continue to work hard and stay focused to achieve these goals. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for sticking with me through my journey and reading about my adventure in London, you have no idea how much I appreciate it. This will not be the last you hear from me:] Until next time!
-Heather K. Martinez
These macaroons were a gift from two of my flatmates. Miss those girls:]
After I dropped my flatmate off at the airport when I was walking back I took a picture of the restaurant we had breakfast at for the first time in London:]
Down Praed Street