A Little Perspective

I’ve driven across the country 21 times now; every time I am astounded again by the artistry and diversity of the landscape. From the majestic mountains of the Mojave desert and the sunsets of West Texas to the rolling hills of California, there is much to soak in and thank God for.

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On this trip, the drive through the desert (always my favorite part) was extra special. Due to some unusual rainfall in the area, the hills and mountains were covered in grass so green I found myself wondering if it was real.

The brown hills of the I-5 had been completely transformed from this:

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via Les Schwab 

To this:

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via Pinterest

I dared not try to capture the scenery with my mediocre iPhone photography. Even pro photos don’t do it justice.

Imagine! Lying just beneath the surface of the desert dryness are seeds, ever ready. With just a little bit of rainfall, the entire landscape is transformed (into something I imagine heaven to look like).

I wonder if you could turn that into a metaphor for the dry spells of our lives?

The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it…

Isaiah 35:1-2a. 

Another highlight of the trip was taking my niece and nephew up to my favorite lil spot on planet earth, Muir Woods National Monument.

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Once again, I didn’t try to take photos. The trees are just too big, too majestic. If you have never been to a redwood or sequoia forest, put it on your bucket list right now. Muir Woods offers a short 1.5 mile walk that I personally believe every human should experience at least once in their life.

The best part was that my nephew seemed to enjoy it as much as me. As I walked him through the forest, he bounced his legs and arms and gurgled almost constantly.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. 

-John Muir 

 

The Definitive Guide: UK vs. USA University Experience (infographic)

As a young dreamer growing up in the Southern United States, I had a pretty good picture in my head of what college was going to look like. It had a lot to do with professors and endless assignments, lousy food in good company at the dining hall, girl-talk with friends in a messy dorm room, and the occasional scattered array of red dixie cups. A load of twists and turns later, I ended up in Wales for college. I love my life and I love my uni, but I was surprised that next to none of the college experiences I imagined exist here. While both systems offer an excellent education and a bachelor’s degree at the end of the road, the experience getting to that degree is vastly different.

For Americans considering study abroad in the UK, Brits looking to study in America, or the curious onlooker, I thought I would sit down and set straight what exactly the differences are. You might be surprised!

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Finding your School 

The first and arguably most important, difference between the two systems is how you get accepted in the first place. In America, high school students send standardised test results and entrance essays to individual universities. They can apply to as many schools as their heart desires, but will have to pay an application fee to each one. In the United Kingdom, all applications go through a centralised UCAS system. Students create one profile and one personal statement that they send to up to five courses that they wish to apply for.

logoIn the UK, students apply directly to specific course, whereas in the US students apply to be accepted into a university as a whole. For example, an American student would apply to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, a UK applicant would be applying to the psychology course within Cardiff University.

That changes a lot about how students prepare their application. For one thing, UK students are required to know their major before they even start the application process. Their application must demonstrate that they have researched the field and have the necessary skills to begin taking classes within their course. American students, on the other hand, are not required to declare their major until the beginning of their third year.

Students in both countries write a short essay to accompany their application, but the focus is very different. American students tell a story to express themselves, it can be about anything from the time they made cookies with their grandma to the time they won the state soccer championship. The point is that they need to demonstrate who they are as unique, well-rounded, and self-motivated individuals that can add something to the student body of the school they are applying to.

In the UK, the personal statement is much more direct and based on facts versus a story. You must demonstrate how you have prepared yourself and why you are qualified for the specific course you chose. You show why you want to be accepted and why you will succeed in your particular course.

The Education 

Most degrees in the UK last three years unless you take a year to study abroad. The reason for this is that your course is much more focused on your degree choice than in the US. Whereas American students often fill the first two years of their college career taking general ed classes that have nothing to do with their intended course of study, in the UK students jump into their course classes during the first semester. They do not have the freedom to take electives or explore courses outside their intended major. Consequently, it is much more difficult to change majors in the middle of a degree program.

Academic culture in the United Kingdom highly values intellectualism and theory over practical handles and technical skills. The result being that classes focus on training your brain and developing research skills instead of giving you practical skills for a career. The idea is that university is a time to train yourself academically, whereas job skills can easily be learned on the job. Thus, disciplines that in the US are considered impractical like history and philosophy are highly respected in the UK.

Here is a sample from Matt Hershberger of Matador network to highlight his:

After two months of studying only theory in my master’s classes, I went to my professor and asked when we were going to start learning some real-world skills.

“Never,” she said.

“How are we supposed to learn career skills then?” I asked.

“You’re supposed to learn them on the job,” she responded. “We’re more interested in giving you a theoretical groundwork. The practical stuff is for the practical world, not a university.”

The UK system emphasises a deep understanding of a few topics, whereas the US emphasises taking classes and gaining knowledge in a wide variety of subjects.

Passing your classes 

School in the United Kingdom is much more independent than in the US. Professors give one or two lectures a week and then students are mostly on their own to read, research, and work on major projects. They must learn to be self-motived and to divide their time to be able to finish big projects at the end of the year.

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US students grades are based on attendance, constant homework, group projects, and quizzes whereas UK students typically only have one or two big projects per a year. The bulk of their final grade comes from the final exam at year-end, making exam period a bit more stressful.

The grading system in the US is based on letter grades and a grade point average (GPA) score. In the United Kingdom degrees are divided into three major categories, plus two degrees of failure. The highest possible score is usually in the mid-80s.

Taking a Break 

Timing for degrees in the United Kingdom is less standardised than in the U.S., so break time depends on the school you apply to. In general American universities start and end earlier than in the UK. Classes in the UK tend to start in late September and October. Exams don’t finish officially until mid-June, making for a slightly longer school year. To make up for that, the breaks are a tad more substantial.

British schools generally have a sizeable break around Christmas and Easter. Many schools use the U.S. semester system, however, unlike the U.S., most classes run yearlong, so you do not change classes in the middle of year.

Student Life 

While British first-year students are all offered university sponsored student accommodation (or what Americans would call dorms), many students prefer to live off campus. By second year most students have rented a flat or a house with a few of their mates. Univeristy sponsored catering exists, but a surprising number of British students opt to cook for themselves, while in the US freshman are often required to buy a meal plan (for dining hall food).

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Typical American dining hall via HerCampus

Sports tend to take a more central role in the US than in the UK. In the US school spirit revolves around the football team. Star athletes come to university on scholarships and play competitively so as to make it into pro-teams upon graduation. Sports teams in the UK are also highly competitive, but almost all sports are intra-mural and athletic scholarships barely exist.

A lot of student culture in the United Kingdom centres around alcohol. As the legal drinking age is 18, students are not limited to secret house parties and sneaking booze. Many universities in the UK have cheap bars near campus frequented by students every night of the week.

Both the US and the UK support student organisations called (respectively) clubs or societies. These are loose organisations of students dedicated to a particular cause or hobby. Getting involved in extra-curricular activities is a fun and rewarding part of the uni experience no matter which continent you attend school on!

A huge difference to note is that the American sorority and fraternity culture does not exist in the UK in any form.

Cost 

America is generally considered to be one of the most expensive countries to attend college. The UK has high international fees as well, but since degrees are finished in three years instead of four+, overall cost is still comparable or even cheaper than out-of-state tuition to a public college in the US. For local students, the UK government offers generous maintenance grants and zero-interest loans to help with fees.

Another place where you save is that the UK does not generally require you to buy any textbooks, zero… nada! Can you believe that? In the U.S. textbooks create new editions regularly so that students are forced to spend up to $300 on a single textbook (highway robbery!). Those fees add up.

Vocabulary 

At the end of the day, even the things that are the same are spoken of differently. It took me a while to figure out what all the new words and terms referred to, in fact, I think I’m still figuring it out. Here is a bit of a crash course in British vs American English vocab to get you started:

University/Uni – College (in the UK college means the last two years of high school and ‘school’ always refers to primary school)

Revise – Study 

Society – Club (student led organisations for social/extra-curricular activities from literature reading, rock climbing, to tea drinking)

Recess – Break (spring break and winter break are not terms used in the UK, but they know what I mean when I slip)

Lecturer – Professor (in the US every lecturer is a professor, in the UK ‘professor’ is an honoured title given to senior lecturers who have published successful books or otherwise made a name for themselves)

Module – Class 

Exam – Test (in the US students have more frequent tests and quizzes whereas in the UK the majority of your grade comes from one or two exams at the end of the year)

Read a subject – Major in a subject 

Sit an exam – Take a test

Term – Semester 

Fresher/First year – Freshman 

Second year – Sophomore/Junior 

Third year – Senior 

Joint Honours – Double Major 

Mark – Grade 

Coursemate – Classmate 

Housemate – Roommate (in the UK it is more common to have your own room. After the first year most students rent a house with a group of friends rather than take student accommodation)

Flat – Dorm 

If you are still curious, here is an infographic I created to sum up the results:

 

 

Why You Really Must Visit Me in Wales

Good morning lovelies! I am sorry, this summer as been crazy and blogging has been on the back burner (yaddayayaya, what-I-always-say-and-stuff) BUT guess what? The rumblings behind this blog are growing stronger. I’ve been preparing some (hopefully) great stuff. I can’t wait to get back into a regular schedule within the next few weeks and share with you all the things I’ve been working on. So stay tuned.

I’m on vacation on my favorite place on earth right now. I can’t wait to tell you all about it!

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For now I just wanted to point you to my blogging friend Olivia’s lovely blog, The Cwtch, where I guest posted about all the fabulous reasons why you really must come visit me in Wales. Seriously folks, Wales is one of the most underrated tourist destinations in Europe. Go there before the rest of the world figures that out!

Check out my blog post here, and stay tuned for more!

5 Essentials for a Weekend Giveaway

Summer is a-cummin in! Woot woot. The end of the school year is on the horizon. I booked my ticket back home for the summer! I really couldn’t be more excited. In fact, I’ve just begun working on my diabolical summer bucket list (that I can’t wait to share with you). It is going to be awesome.
Speaking of summer vacation and sunny beach days, this weekend I got the chance to work with HomeAway to write a blog post on my top five essentials for a weekend at a beach location such as the unique beach rental on the Florida Panhandle:
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A good book. Preferably a fun light read like The PenderwicksYes, I know it is a children’s book but there is nothing that says ‘summer’ like fun easy reading. Or a light-hearted autobiography like Me, Myself, and Bob. 
Obnoxiously humongous sunglasses. You know when you wear sunglasses and you can stare at people without them knowing for sure whether or not you are in fact staring at them? That is what I call power. Call me a megalomaniac, I like that feeling.
A picnic blanket and basket. There is no better way to spend the summer than picnicking in odd places. This summer I am DETERMINED to find a roof I can picnic on.
Striped clothing. I dunno about you but when I go to the beach I automatically wanna wear navy striped shirts and bright yellow shorts. All. Day Long. I’m not sure I could fully appreciate the beauty of the sun in anything else.
A good friend. No trip to the beach is complete without a good friend to share adventures with. This summer I can’t wait to hang out with my American friends who I’ve been apart from for the past 9 months!

How about you? What are your tip top essentials for a weekend away?

10 Reasons Why You Should Move to Germany Tomorrow

The beer and the sausages may be good, but Germany has a lot more to offer than just gastronomical delights. I went to Germany for spring break and fell in love. I am determined to move back there to get my master’s degree and then go on to raise ten children in a fairytale house in the black forest. I am rather determined to convince all my loved ones that they too should move to Germany. And since I love you, dear reader, so much… I’m gonna give you the low down. Here are 10 amazingly fantastic reasons why you should start packing your bags.

The Economy is Strong and Needs You

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Germany has the largest national economy in Europe and the fifth largest economy (by GDP) in the world. Yet the German population is aging. The country is actively seeking international workers, so finding a job there is far from impossible.

University is Free

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Germany is a social welfare state, which means that services like university and health care are almost completely free, even for international students. If you don’t think you could handle studying in a foreign language, go for one of Germany’s growing number of English-taught degree programs. EU citizens are also eligible to try out for Germany’s unique apprenticeship program. Students in Germany often spend a few years after high school doing volunteer apprenticeships in whatever industry they are interested in. It is a great way to get an inside look into the depths of your intended profession.

Mom’s Get a Pension

In Germany being a mother is considered a job. If you gain residency and raise your family in Germany, you could be eligible to obtain a retirement pension later on. That’s why me and my friend are gonna move to Germany and buy two ginormous houses side-by-side where we will raise 10 children each ; )

THE PLAYGROUNDS

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American playground builders need to take pointers. I guess we Americans can’t have any fun stuff because of the horrible litigation culture. Anyhow, in Germany no such precautions exist.

You Can Drive as Fast as You Want 

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The famous Autobahn in Germany has no speed limit. So if you are rich and famous, this is about the only place on earth where you can actually get your money’s worth out of a sports car.

Bikability Score 10/10

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Germany is an extremely bikable country. In Frankfurt, where I was staying, bikes were allowed anywhere, from the streets to the wide pavement. Signs indicated where the safest places to bike were. Many sidewalks had special bike lanes. Also, Call-A-Bike stations scattered across Germany allow you to pike up and rent a bike and then drop it back off wherever and whenever you like (and students can use Call-A-Bike and other public transport systems for FREE!).

Flower shops on Every Corner

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Germans must love their flowers. Even in the residential areas that I stayed in and explored, there where flower shops everywhere.

Bakeries on Every Other Corner

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And if the flowers wern’t enough to convince you, guess what? Bakeries mark almost every street. Germans are famous for there bread. I’ve heard that the Lebkuchen cake itself is enough to move to Germany for.

It isn’t That Difficult

Guess what the requirement is for getting permanent residency in Germany? Pay taxes for 5 years. That’s literally it. And the best part is that if you work while you study you can start paying taxes. That isn’t so hard is it? So why not start looking for apartments today?

Seriously guys, at least consider it. I haven’t even started on the architecture, efficiency, technology, or adult playgrounds. I could go on all day… but I’ll let you go look up flats in Frankfurt now. Come on. Just click here  already. You know you want to ; )

10 Incredible Picnic Ideas

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Hiyah lovelies! Sorry it has been a while. Spring break is finally here, which means that I’ll have time to catch up on blogging and even get ahead a bit so that I can be a more consistent blogger throug the rest of the year.

What to do you know. Spring does come to Wales! I heard so many horrible stories about the never-ending Winter and drizzle here, but I am determined not to believe those dastardly reports. The last couple weeks have been marked by increased levels of sunshine and daffodils popping up everywhere. I am certain that means that spring is on its way, not matter what my more knowledgeable friends claim.

You know what all this nice weather has me thinking of? PICNICS. Remember when I wrote about that awkward moment when my friend and I figured it would be a grand idea to have a picnic in a graveyard? And that wasn’t even the weirdest picnic I have had. That award would probably have to go to the time we decided to spread our blankets in the middle of a Wal-Mart parking lot. Yeah, we are cool. I guess I do consider myself to be a bit of a queen when it comes to unique picnic ideas. Here is a list of fantastical picnic ideas I cannot wait to try:

Picnic in a Boat 

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I just imagine renting a fishing boat or canoe and then paddling out to the middle of a quiet lake and opening up my red checkered picnic basket ala Anne of Green Gables. Then, of course, my friends and I would have so much fun giggling over our sandwiches that we’d end up toppling the boat over and having to swim home ; )

Picnic on a Mountain Hike 

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Often when I’m hiking in the mountains I come to a gorgeous spot along the trail and just wish I had a bit of food to sit down and enjoy there. Is there any better way to savor the environment than with a basket of food?  I am determined to bring a backpack on my next hike.

Picnic under the Aurora Borealis 

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One of my bucket list items is to see the Aurora Borealis. Imagine curling up under loads of thick fuzzy blankets with some sweet friends and singing songs and sipping hot chocolate until the lights show themselves.

Picnic in the Winter 

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While we are on the subject of hot chocolate, can I just mention that picnics are ot limited to spring and summer? I mean look how utterly adorable these winter picnic inspiration photos are.

Picnic on a Rooftop 

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Okay guys, this is a basic one on my bucket list. Imagine letting your legs dangle off a rooftop as you sit on the top of the world and enjoy some good snacks in good company.

Picnic in the Back of a Pick-Up Truck 

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I’ve been obsessed with this idea ever since I saw this picture on Pinterest:

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Fill the car with all matter of comfy things (plus some good snacks), then drive out to the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night so you have a perfect view of the stars.

Romantic Indoor Picnic 

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Imagine a crazy hectic moving day or dreary rainy day brightened by an impromptu indoor picnic complete with gingham napkins and wine.

Picnic on the Beach with the Sunset 

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Bonfire. Marshmallows. Waves crashing. Yes, give it to me. My sister and I ate teriyaki chicken bowls by the ocean once. It was incredible. I wouldn’t mind a round two of that one.

Picnic by a Deserted Lake 

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Have you noticed I am a bit obsessed with deserted locations?

Picnic in the Middle of Nowhere 

You know if you get off the main highway and just drive through rural areas, at least where I am from in North Carolina, you are bound to run into adorable little towns, forgotten railroad tracks, a historic bridge or just a really nice old tree in the middle of nowhere. These types of unplanned adventures sound so delicious to me. And, if you fail to find a nice spot to settle, at least you have good food to make up for it.

And there you have it, my dream list of picnics for this coming year. Someday I’d like to team up with a photographer and make a coffee table book of unique and awesome picnic ideas. I want all the ideas I can get. So come on, please help me out here!

What is your favorite picnic memory? What was the craziest picnic you’ve ever been on? What is your dream of dream picnic location? 

Ten British Foods I Wish You Could Eat Right This Instant

Before I moved to the United Kingdom, lots of well meaning folks warned me that British food tends to be a bit bland (at least to American mouths). And I can definitely  testify that salt and sugar are not quite as popular here (remember that sweet potato soup that managed to be plainer than plain sweet potatoes?). However, lemme just say that there are a host of British treats that I wish all my American friends could gobble up this instant. AND… this is a bit scarier, the longer I stay here the more I like the bland stuff. Perhaps the British can taste real flavor because tey are not dependent on the enhancement of sickening amounts of sugar and salt?

Sausage Rolls 

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It is basically a pig in a blanket deluxe, cause instead of croissant dough you’ve got legit pastry and instead of a lil smoky you’ve got niiice sausage. Woot woot.

Shepherd’s Pie 

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I think there are few things more comforting than brothy meat and vegetables cooked under a layer of cheesy mash potatoes.

Cadbury Snaps

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These look like potato chips, are nearly as thin as potato chips, and are as crunchy as potato chips, but they are made out of chocolate. They are light, thin, crisp, and so dangerous. My favorite flavor is the one with a hint of mint, but the orange one is delish as well.

Peri Peri Chicken 

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This isn’t really British food per say, but it is REALLY popular around here. Nandos is a restaurant that sells rotisserie chicken with a special creamy spicy sauce. You can buy the peri peri sauce in lil bottles in every food store or get a massive liter bottle at costco if you so fancy. I’ve never been to Nandos, but I know it is really popular amongst my uni friends. I love peri peri chicken and rice and have been slowly adding peri peri sauce to more and more of my evening meals.

Marmite on Toast 

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I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you’ve heard of the infamous marmite. This black gooey substance is the favorite of BuzzFeed videos and the UK vs. USA region of YouTube. The frustrating thing is that in many of those videos they do not properly serve the marmite. Marmite is not meant to be dumped on bread like Peanut Butter. It is certainly not, heaven forbid, meant to be eaten by the spoonful. Marmite is meant to be spread conservatively over buttered toast. When prepared correctly it makes for the perfect accompaniment to a cup of tea and a rainy day. Vegemite, the New Zealand/Australia version, is even better!

Full English Breakfast

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I’ve only really had this one time, when my mommy and I stayed at a Bed and Breakfast before I moved here. It is really a nice treat for tourists that I hope to treat each one of my friends who come to visit me. Just don’t tell them which one is blood sausage until they’ve finished digesting.

Meat Pie 

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Hi, I’m an American and I’m obsessed with pie. Yes, I totally fit the stereotype on that one. The sad part about moving to the UK is that dessert pies are not quite as popular around here (although they do exist). However, the British do love their meat pie. While I still prefer a homecooked southern Chicken Pot Pie to just about anything in this world, the British pastry covered meaty deliciousness is a close runner up.

Welsh Rarebit 

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It is basically like an open faced extra-rich grilled cheese. We all know that if  it involves bread and cheese, it is usually a good thing. Particularly because both bread and dairy products are just unexplainably yummier here.

Cawl

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A traditional Welsh stew of lamb, potatoes, and vegetables.  It is a perfect hearty finish to a day in the rain.

Digestives

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If you read this blog regularly, you probably knew that this was coming. It is no secret that this girl loves her digestive biscuits. All biscuits (or hard processed cookies that you eat with tea) are amazing. Digestives are my personal favorite, but there is a biscuit for every kind of person.

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via GoodToKnow.com

A Note on British Fashion or What Americans Could Learn from the Motherland

Since I arrived here in the United Kingdom, one of the most unexpected differences I encountered was the difference in fashion. Of course, we all wear generally the same Western style clothing, but there are quite a few things that the British do differently. There is a lot I could learn…

First of all, they are not shy about scarves. Scarves are much bigger and bulkier and just all around GINORMOUS. At first, I thought it was a bit ridiculous, but I’m getting used to it. Actually, I’m just jealous cause they look cozy. Seriously, itsy bitsy fashion scarves are not gonna do anything against the chilling winter temperatures.

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In general, people around here have more practice with winter wear and know how to look cute even when it is raining. Take notes girls!

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One thing I love are the huge shapeless coats that seem all the rage this season:

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Speaking of shapeless winter wear… CAPES!

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There is definitely a distinct British makeup look that was new to me. Not every girl wears it, but it is VERY common. I like to call it The Zoella Face:

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Dyed hair is much more common than it was in the US. I’ve seen some AWESOME shades of greyish blueish:

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Also, I’m not particularly fond of this trend, but I’ve noticed that facial piercings are more common.

Now men here are just way too fashionable. It makes me uncomfortable. For one thing, how many centuries is it going to take American men to learn that coat collars were meant to be worn up ala Sherlock Holmes?

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Oh, and every boy and his uncle bob have the buzzed to long look ala David Beckham: article-2277377-17876779000005DC-793_308x425

And that is all for now, a brief overview of what I should probably be learning from the British about how to dress.

Around The World in 10 Slices of Cake

Okay, so studying abroad isn’t easy. When your buddies talk about going home for the weekend and the only thing you can go home to is a truck load of responsibility, it is tempting to curl into a ball and cry over sinful portions of European chocolate. That’s fine. But once you have finished the chocolate, you are going to need to get up and face the world again. Or, if you are me, you will get up and start thinking about cake.

I’m more of a pie person myself, but I’m not afraid to admit that sometimes you just need to eat cake.

*insert Marie Antoinette quote of questionable validity*

Here are 10 cakes (w/ RECIPES!) that I hope to taste around the world.

  1. Medovnik – Russian Honey Cake

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Okay, so I’ve tasted and can testify that this is one of the most delicious things you will ever experience. Layer after layer of buttery graham crackeresque layers off set by a sweet honey infused frosting.

Make it Now.

2. Tres Leches – Nicaraguan Three Milk Cake

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You may or may not notice a theme throughout these cakes. Basically, each one uses every dairy product imaginable multiple times. Because you know, there is nothing as depressing as dry cake.  This is one of my ultimate favourites, but be very careful when preparing or buying it. At its worst it is nothing more than soggy cake, but at its best it is fluffy white heaven with an extra dose of whipped cream.

Make it Now. 

3. Torta Caprese Bianca – Italian Grainless Lemon Cake

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Yeah, at this point I’m pretty sure I should just stop talking and let the cakes speak for themselves. Mamma mia. 

Make it now. 

4. Galatopita – Greek Baked Semolina Pudding

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Just go ahead and make it now. 

5. Apple Sharlotka – Jewish Apple Cake

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Ahem, this recipe comes from smitten kitchen, my favourite food blog in the history of food blogs. Every single recipe I’ve ever made by her is golden, including this one. You are welcome for the introduction. Brace yourself for a culinary life that is 10x more fantastic than ever before.

6. Pavlova – Australian/New Zealand Meringue

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Funny story, this cake was created and brought to fame in Australia or New Zealand, but it is named after a Russian dancer who came to visit in the 1920s. Funnier fact, despite the good intentions in naming the dessert after the famous ballerina, the pronunciation is actually wrong, so it ended up not being named after her after all.

And since it is egg white based, it is hardly even a splurge! Right?

Go for it! 

7. Mochi Cake – Hawaiian Rice Flour Cake

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Okay, so if you’ve read my blog for a while you will now that this cake holds a very special place in my heart. In fact, If I have to die young I am determined to die a death by mochi cake, because I really can’t imagine a sweeter way to go. You think I’m kidding? Actually, I wrote a whole blog post on that topic.

8. Black Forest Cake – German Chocolate and Cherry Cake

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Layer upon layer of chocolate cake deliciousness with whipped cream and cherry filling stuffed between… could you possibly be more indulgent? Oh yeah, douse it with liqeur if you are feeling naughty.

Just do it. 

9. Revani -Turkish Semolina Cake

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Another great gluten free option. Who knew that cake around the world is so often devoid of flour?

Anyhow, this cake is made of semolina flour and spruced up with a touch of lemon and a hearty infiltration of sweet syrup.

Make it now. 

10. Tippaleipa – Finnish Funnel Cake

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Okay, so I’m from the South and must somehow sneak in a funnel cake. What about if I inserted the Finnish version instead of the North Carolina version just to seem a bit more, you know, cultured?

Oh maaaan. Why do I always reveal my own lil secrets?

Be impressive. Make it the Finnish way. 

What cake do you turn to when you just. need. cake? Also, please by patient with my lack of proper blogging these days. Once I figure out what I am doing with my life and how to survive in another country, I promise I’ll be blogging about it (and boy do I have stories to share). 

How to deal with study abroad jitters OR how to stay in a castle for under $200

Yesterday, I was driving with my sister and exclaimed:

“My stomach feels very strange. I am either really hungry or I just realized that I am moving to Wales.”

I’ve been eating well, but my stomach still hasn’t recovered. Apparently when you are nervous your body goes into fight or flight mode which basically means that non vital functions turn off so that you can focus energy on things like strength and speed. One of the first things to go is your digestive function, which is why people describe “butterflies” or a “pit” in their stomach.

This information is courtesy of my younger sister who just started college two weeks ago and is obviously garnering at least a few bits of pertinent information. I’m still attempting to downplay her college success because I haven’t accepted the fact that my younger sister started college before me. Even if it is for just two weeks. Even if I am moving to Europe. 

Anyway, down with nerves! I am so excited. Everything is arranged. I really shouldn’t worry.

The last practical tidbit to work through is booking an airbnb room to stay at near the airport when I first arrive.

Insert: Airbnb is a wonderful concept. Why use hotels when you can get a fuller more authentic more interesting experience for cheaper? My family and I have used it many times in many contexts, always with much success.

The only problem is that that every time I go on their website I get distracted. For example, I went on there today to book a one night stay near the airport no frills. And I did successfully book my little room. I also managed to plan my dream of dreams vacation on the side.

All photos are from this real Airbnb listing in England where you can stay for under 200$!

I would stay in a CASTLE. A real and true Victorian state near the Lake District of England.

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I would choose to sleep in the sparest of spare rooms. 

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Then I’d wake up early early in the morning just to lounge in a big comfy divan to read novels and write poetry. Oh and I’d probably also spend about 10 hours packing and repacking and arranging my things in all the delectable trunks and and wardrobes.

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Breakfast would be served with a company of friends at exactly eight o clock. And I have this strange idea that coconut cream pie would be on the menu.

Coconut cream pie for breakfast. Isn’t it just sinfully delightful?

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We’d spend the day exploring the grounds and the nearby countryside. I am sure disaster would strike at some point and I would just happen to fall into a lake, forget the whole concept of swimming, nearly drown, only to be saved by a dashing young man who happened to be riding by on his horse looking for poetic inspiration.

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It would be quite a shock, but our company would have to invite the man back to the castle and we’d all manage to be washed and dried and dressed our best in time for 4 o clock tea.

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The evenings would be spent philosophizing by the fireplace

castle evening in the company of a trusty hound.

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If cost wasn’t an issue, what would your dream vacation look like? Or do you ever plan ridiculous holidays when you need to run away from real life and the jitters that are dancing in your belly?