26 October, 2016

Fall Break Part II by Jessica Saideman

Back in Ithaca, fall break is a long weekend break to go back home and relax for a few days after midterms. For Ithaca students in London, fall break is often a week long travel adventure in a cram to see as much of Europe as possible. For a lot of students this means Italy, Spain, or Greece, warm places that are just a little too far to do a weekend trip to.

This break I went to Venice, Florence, and Rome in Italy with my flatmates, and then I went to Barcelona, Spain on my own. I spent about 2 and a half days in each, except for Florence, which we only spent a day and night in.

Boy was it a whirlwind of ancient Roman ruins, Venetian Canals, huge cathedrals, Gaudi architecture, pizza, pasta, ham, wine and cheese.

Here is some advice specific to the cities but I think can also apply for general Europe travelling.

Also if you have student ID with an expiration date on it, USE IT. It will give you great discounts to seeing the big stuff so you can save money for great food! (Or like souvenirs or whatever but I prefer to spend it on good food)

1.       The city is just so freaking beautiful I can’t put it into words. The first day I was there, while my flatmates went to Verona, I let myself get lost, wandering through the little streets and bridges over the canals, not looking at a map on my phone. I simply looked which way looked the coolest and walked that way. I found so many beautiful little bridges and alleyways this way.
2.       This for all of Italy, not just Venice, but Venice tended to be more expensive. Many sit down restaurants will have a cover charge that would kind of be like the service charge but these restaurants tend to be more expensive anyway, so try to go for the places that advertise no cover charge.
3.       Also for all of Italy and Spain, they will not serve you tap water at restaurants, even if you ask because they don’t drink their tap water. You will have to pay for bottled water so make sure to look at the prices of water on the menu compared to their size. My first night in Venice I had a 750mL bottle for 4 euros, which often costs more around £1.50 at a grocery store.
4.       A lot of the main tourist areas aren’t as exciting as wandering around. The Rialto Bridge is super crowded with tourists taking pictures and most of the shops on the bridge itself are touristy and not super interesting. Try wandering just a little past the bridge.
5.       Get a take away sandwich, pastry or mini pizza and sit by one of the smaller canals and just the water. It is so relaxing.

1.       All the main sights are pretty close together. It is probably one of the most walkable cities I’ve ever been to.
2.       A lot of places close around or before sunset, so make sure to get in earlier. We made the mistake of waiting to the last minute to go to the Boboli Gardens and couldn’t get in.
3.       If you decide to go see the gardens, you’ll have to walk up a surmountable hill but it is worth it. You get to see a beautiful neighbourhood of Florence as well as a fantastic view.
4.       The Duomo is free but it gets crowded so get there when it opens.
5.       You will end up walking through leather markets full of vendors calling out to you to buy their stuff. Ignore them, and don’t feel bad about it, if you engage them they’ll want you to buy something you really don’t want.
6.       Also general rule for Italy: Get Gelato. Always get some gelato. It is delicious and often not expensive and when are you going to get gelato in Italy again?

1.       Again, eat all the gelato.
2.       If you go to Vatican, there will be a bunch of people from tour companies trying to sell you expensive tours that they will try to convince you is cheaper and more worth the time than just buying tickets from the Vatican to the Sistine Chapel and just waiting to go into the Basilica. Their tours are not worth it. I spent 8 euros to get in to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel versus the 36 euros for the tour a guy offered us. They will try to get into your face so just keep walking to the entrance and keep saying no firmly.
3.       There is a tourist pass called the Roma pass, which gives you free public transport for the time allotted and free entrance to the first archaeological site you go to, and reduced rates for the next one. We didn’t end up using public transport a lot and we only went to the Colosseum/Roman Forum/Palantine Hill so I’m not sure it was worth it, though we got to skip the long lines for those two and that felt great. So get it if you plan on trying to see a bunch of the archaeological stuff. Otherwise, just buy colosseum tickets in advance to skip the line.
4.       Definitely go to the Colosseum which is the same ticket for the Roman Forum and Palantine Hill where you can get a stunning view of Rome and see just how much Rome has preserved its ancient history. You can even see the Senate where Caesar got murdered! As a former history and Shakespeare nerd, I was pretty excited.
5.       Go to the Trevi fountain and throw a coin in. Yeah it’s cheesy and it’s crowded, but the fountain is truly beautiful and you get to have your Lizzie Maguire moment.
6.       Look for deals on wine you can often get a third or half a bottle of wine for a cheaper price than two glasses.

1.       If you want to go to all the Gaudi wonders, you should buy your tickets online first. Unfortunately, these sites are so popular that they can sell out, particularly La Sagrada Familia, the famous unfinished church that Gaudi designed. It is very cool from the outside, but if you want to see the inside you have to book tickets 3 days in advance. For Parc Guell, you can buy tickets there but know that you will be waiting 2 hours in the public park around the monumental centre. It is still a cool park but if you don’t want to wait long, again, get tickets in advance.
2.       Despite what people tell you about Barcelona being full of thieves, and certainly pickpockets exist, don’t let it prevent you from getting lost and wandering down side streets. Barcelona is actually pretty safe and these little areas are so beautiful and full of interesting artisan shops. I ran into Barcelona’s only women’s bookstore that way and had a nice chat with the owner.
3.       Tapas is probably the best meal invention. Why get stuffed on three separate meals when you can just snack all day long? With wine!! Also, be careful when looking at tapas bars, some are more expensive than others and add up. Also, definitely try Pinxtos, the Catalan version of tapas. They tend to be smaller and on pieces of bread but that means they are cheaper, and they are often quite delicious. I recommend Txapela, it is touristy but it is delicious and cheap.
4.       Tomato bread. Eat it. It’s like pizza but without cheese and lighter. It’s so good.
5.       Be careful with Spanish cocktails because they tend to put a lot of alcohol in them so maybe opt for a glass of wine or cava, the area’s specialty champagne, instead.  Especially since wine and champagne in Spain is much cheaper than in the UK. Though do try sangria while you’re there. It’s the best. But get a pitcher to share with a bunch of people rather than an individual cup.
6.       If you find yourself short on cash and hungry, go to La Boqueria, a lively covered market. Sure, it’s full of tourists, but I got breakfast there for 4 euros. They have everything from delicious cream pastries, lots of fruit juice, pinxtos and tapas, and empanadas galore.
7.       Here is one of the few places you’ll visit where a 2 or 3 day public transport pass is worth it. Barcelona is a big city and you’ll be using the metro a lot, which is highly efficient by the way. It was only 20 euros for a three day pass which was worth it since a one trip pass is 2.15 and I definitely made more than 10 trips in my three days. It also counts for the airport where otherwise, to enter from the metro, you have to pay another ticket fee.

All of these places are lovely to visit, so please remember not to stress too much and have fun!

20 October, 2016

Italy, Fall Break 2016 - by Ashley Wolf

Over the fall break, two of my roommates and I traveled to Italy for carbs, cultural exploration and the beauty of the country. We succeeded in all three of these categories, plus more. I traveled to Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples.

Verona: Thursday-Friday
I left a day earlier than my roommates and flew to Venice. I took a train to Verona, the city of love. My travel experiences challenged me as not many people seemed to speak English.
For my first dinner in Italy, I ordered salmon sauce and pasta, a glass of red wine and strawberries for dessert. This dish in my top three meals for the trip. I spoke to some of the Italians about studying abroad, America and Italy. There, many seemed to know better English.
One of my roommates came to Verona the next day. Both of us loved the movie Letters to Juliet and wanted to go to Juliet’s House. It cost 6 euro to go inside, they had a student discount, but neither of us had remembered our student cards that day. Juliet’s House was a museum of the real story, Shakespeare’s story and Hollywood’s story as there were many clothes and props used in the movies.
Lovers signed a wall outside the house, left stickers that were probably symbolic and gum. Lots of gum. At first, I was offended by the gum, “why would someone decide to be gross and stick gum on this wall?!” Then, I watched a couple. One chewed the gum, the other chewed the gum, and they both stuck it to the wall. At that point, I was no longer offended, I was just slightly disgusted.
Food called to us after this and we found a cheap and tasty restaurant in the middle of the city. I read through the menu and paused, “HORSE?!” I remembered my years of horseback riding and needless to say, did not order the horse… nor the donkey. We walked around, ate gelato, bumped into a fancy red carpet event for ice skating and boarded a train to Venice where we met up with another one of our roommates.

Venice: Friday–Sunday
            If you decide to go to Venice, I highly recommend staying at The Generator Hostel. Aside from their breakfasts, it was an awesome place to stay with a bar for food and drinks, events going on nightly and a nice place for people to come together and lounge. The rooms had 16 people — bunk bed style. The bunks were really nice! Each had their own light, electric outlets and shelf.
Saturday, I had a fantastic and massive slice of margherita pizza for lunch. Delicious! Cheesy, but not too cheesy, thicker crust and what must have been homemade sauce. I needed my roommates’ help to finish it. In Venice, we explored the Piazza San Marco, Saint Mark’s Basilica and took many, many photos of the Grand Canal. At dinner, I learned some Italian fish is not deboned. Keep that in mind if you decide to go and order fish in Italy! The water made the sights, particular the sunset, better. Sunset scenes were best seen on the water taxis.

                                                                           Venice Street// Ashley Wolf                   

Florence: Sunday–Monday
            Sunday, we traveled to Florence. I tried to find my roommates in the afternoon, but became very lost. Thanks a lot, Apple Maps! I saw a lot of Florence, even parts that were run down and probably not where most tourists ventured to. Monday morning, we visited the Florence Cathedral.

Florence Cathedral// Ashley Wolf

Rome: Monday–Wednesday
            In Rome, we visited the Trevi Fountain and had our Lizzie McGuire moment when we tossed a coin behind our backs and into the water (Reference: Watch ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie’ for more information — it’s a nice throwback. We watched it our second night in Rome!)

Trevi Fountain//Ashley Wolf

            We visited the Colosseum. The Colosseum was huge and well preserved. I continuously thought about how this huge arena was built such a long time ago and for such a brutal sport. We took a walk and went to a rooftop garden that looked over Rome. The sky turned grey and it started to downpour. I was the only one with an umbrella. We waited out the storm a bit and then went to eat.

Colosseum//Ashley Wolf

Wednesday, we went to the Vatican. The pope was there! We didn’t seem him. There was so much beautiful art. Hallways and rooms were filled on the walls and ceiling with art. Some of the art we saw was by artists we learned about in Art in London. It’s interesting to see how you can connect your experiences and travels with some of the ICLC classes. The Vatican was our last day in Rome. Hecklers at the Vatican were quite intense. They were everywhere! One of my roommates left to spend the weekend in Barcelona.

*Tip: We bought Rome Passes. Do not buy these unless you plan to do a lot of traveling to places not central to Rome. Even then, it’s iffy. The pass gave us free access to the Colosseum, but it cost us more than a Colosseum entrance ticket.

Naples: Wednesday–Friday
My roommate and I took a train to Naples, where we stayed for two nights. Naples was the least tourist-y place of our Italy journey. The city is graffitied over, not many speak English and it was a very big residential area. We knew not many spoke English when we went to a bar and tried to order a cheeseburger — they did not understand, two waiters were at our table trying to figure out what we wanted to order. It took a bit, but everyone eventually got on the same page. However, all of that said, it was still a great cultural experience.
            We traveled to Naples because we wanted to go to Pompeii. Pompeii impressed me. Artists at the time used such advanced techniques for sculptures, paintings inside the houses were also very impressive. When we got back, we went for pizza. Ironically, the best place for pizza was not where pizza was invented on this trip! We surely did not get the best pizza in Naples, however.
            Friday, we walked around Naples and explored. We walked to what we thought would be a food market like that of a fair, but it was actually like that of a grocery store.

Pompeii// Ashley Wolf

Note: If you want to go to Pompeii, purchase your train ticket in the tobacco shop and take one of the local trains. Trenitalia has a trip from Naples to Pompeii, but its 16 euros more.

I hope everyone enjoyed their break, had safe travels and made memories and stories that can last a lifetime. Embrace the last half of your time in London and be sure to make as many memories as possible! Before we know it, we’ll be flying back to the states!

20 September, 2016

Afternoon Tea - by Jessica Saideman

Afternoon Tea

After having a true English afternoon tea, I have discovered that it is the greatest meal invention created to shove as much food in your mouth as possible, while still seeming high class.

My first experience with Afternoon Tea was actually not in England, but in Quebec City in Canada. My grandparents had reserved an afternoon tea at the famous Chateau Frontenac. My mother had warned that we not eat lunch because it would surely be enough for a full meal. As me and my dad’s stomachs grumbled, we were quickly filled by a tiered tray of finger sandwiches, a scone, tea and a buffet of various French desserts. There were macarons, cupcakes, various complex flavour cakes, and mousse.

I was left with a wonderful experience and a desire to try the true English tea in my time here in London. I have compiled a list of affordable teas here in London, including places that do it classically, The Orangery at Kensington Palace, The Tea Terrace, Bond and Brook, among others.

One of the most fabulous tea rooms in London however is the café at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Their tea room is filled with stained glass windows, hanging chandelier orbs and great marble pillars. To boot, you can get large scone with the traditional clotted cream and jam, and a full pot of tea that delivers about 3 cups of tea, for around 6 pounds. And their scones are the most scrumptious and fluffy scones I’ve ever tasted. In combination with the jam and cream, I was in heaven.

And that was not even the full afternoon tea experience. The full truly English afternoon tea I partook in was actually in Bath, England, at the Jane Austen Centre. Along with a lovely little museum where you can play Regency era dress up and figure out which Austen protagonist you are (apparently I’m Emma Woodhouse though I really don’t see it), they have a fantastically affordable Regency Tea Room. You can get an absolutely delectable tea for 15 pounds (16.90 if you haven’t toured the exhibition room). If that’s too much, you can skip the cakes but keep the finger sandwiches and the scone for 9.60.

I didn’t know where to start, I wanted to shove everything into my stomach. I ended up grabbing a scone, a piece of carrot cake, and a cucumber sandwich at the same time, crowding my plate. As I figured it out, I slowly went through my savoury sandwiches: salmon with cream cheese, chicken with some Indian chutney, and a sundried tomato quiche. Then I ate my delicious fluffy scone though less fruity than the ones in London. I also found the clotted cream hard to spread. Then it was onto the cakes: the classic Victoria Sponge, carrot cake, some chocolate cake, jam tart, and regency biscuits. My group could not finish all the cakes we were so full, so we got them wrapped up to finish at our flat.

Basically, Afternoon Tea is the perfect excuse to stuff a bunch of sandwiches and cakes in your face without being judged. It is also the perfect way to get stuffed for a meal without thinking about it as you’re eating such tiny baby cakes and sandwiches.

Now here’s a list of more afternoon teas in London, under or around 20 pounds (because as much as the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea looks fun and classic, 50 pounds is  a bit out of the price range for an average college student):

Afternoon Tea at the House at the National Theatre - £26.50Includes a fizz cocktail, ice cream, and a selection of classic theatre themed sandwiches and desserts

Glam Rock Afternoon Tea at the K West Hotel and Spa – £24.50 - A rock and roll themed tea with unique cakes/desserts

Afternoon Tea at the Delaunay – £19.75 for full, £9.50 for a lighter Cream Tea – A Viennese/Austrian take

Afternoon Tea at The Ivy Kensington Brasserie – £19.75 for full, 8.75 for lighter Cream Tea – Classic with some cheesecake and mousse to boot

Afternoon Tea at The Wallace Restaurant – £18.50 – The restaurant at the beautiful Wallace collection, the tea room has a beautiful large skylight and a charming atmosphere, traditional tea with all the cakes and sandwiches you could ask for

Afternoon Tea at the German Gynasium - £18.50 – The same price for either a German or Austrian style tea

Le Chandelier Afternoon Tea - £18 – Classic tea with classic good cakes

Gallery Mess at the Saatchi Gallery - £17.50 for regular, £7.50 for Origamitea, made for children but looks awesome – make your own cupcake, sandwiches and an origami kit

Afternoon Tea at Muriel’s Kitchen in Soho - £15.75 – Probably the most bang for your buck, an affordable price for a bunch of sandwiches and desserts that look absolutely delicious

Now go about and stuff your face with this delicious middle of the day meal. 

13 September, 2016

Water and Billie and Puck, Oh My! - by Jackie Asbury

Hello Hello Hello!! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Jackie Asbury, and I am one of the lucky students studying in London this semester!

Today I am here to talk to you all about something that is very near and dear to me: theatre. Or more specifically, today I am here to talk to you all about the theatre I have seen so far in the UK.

Before coming to London, I was able to attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, where I was able to see a multitude of shows, some very good, some not so good. And since coming to London and discovering how much more affordable theatre is here than in New York (@ New York: what are you doing) and having the opportunity to see shows for some of my classes, I have seen even more shows! And many more are yet to come. But I digress. Let’s talk about my top three (in reverse favorite order).

The Glass Menagerie. I saw this production in Edinburgh, and it was by far the best show I saw in Scotland. This show was acted so stunningly, but the direction and the design were really what got me. Director John Tiffany incorporated such beautiful movement into this piece and it made me even more excited than I already am (although is that even possible?) to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in a few weeks, which Tiffany also directed. The way that he brought Menagerie to life felt so real and so dreamlike simultaneously. It was beautiful to watch and I cried. The design of the show was also truly magical. The set of the house in which the show takes place was surrounded by water on the stage, so it looked like these two rooms were just floating. Every so often, stars would be reflected onto the water to become an upside-down night sky. I wasn’t aware of the water until intermission (I thought it was a mirror or glass or something) and the realization of what it actually was blew my mind. I absolutely loved this show.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The night before classes began, we were all given the opportunity to see this classic Shakespeare comedy at… Shakespeare’s Globe! Ta-da! How cool?? We got to be little groundlings and stand in the yard and watch Shakespeare just like they did in ye olden times. Except not really. But it was still ridiculously cool. And the production was just so awesome. The show had a bit of a Bollywood theme throughout and they modernized it and strayed from the text (which I rarely mind when it comes to Shakespeare. My personal opinion is that the best way to keep something timeless is to make it accessible and relatable to as many people as possible. If that means adding some Beyonce to a scene, go for it. And yes that really did happen in this production (it was dope!) and Helena became Helenus and was played by a man. I pretty much always love gender-bending, and seeing LGBT representation in a Shakespeare play that worked was just really great. The actress who played Puck in this production was also absolutely hilarious and fearless and tried to steal my bracelet at one point while walking through the audience. This was the kind of show that reminds you why you love theatre so much and why you want to dedicate your life to it (if you’re anything like me).

Yerma. Most recently, I was able to see this show for one of my classes and I think you should all buckle up folks, because I could literally talk about this show forever. Billie Piper stars as the titular heroine in this reimagining of Frederico Lorca’s famous play, adapted and directed by Simon Stone. Yerma tells the story of a woman unable to have children and how the affects her and those around her. This adaptation was brought into 21st century London and frankly, absolutely everything about this show blew me away. With the audience set up in stadium seating, the stage was encompassed in a glass box in the middle of the room. This was the second time one of this director’s shows featured the actors performing in a glass box, but hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? And this production was certainly not broke. Throughout the entire show, I felt like I was watching something incredibly private that I was not supposed to be seeing. The set changes were flawless and succinct and the music they played during the intervals in between scenes perfectly reflected the haunting and intense emotions of the show. Okay. It’s time for me to talk about Billie Piper now. Holy guacamole, you guys. Billie freaking Piper. I am not exaggerating when I say that Billie Piper is one of, if not the greatest actress of our time. I have never seen an actress give a performance like that in my life. She was earth-shatteringly powerful. Her descent into complete madness that led up to a decision no woman should ever have to make (no spoilers, I promise! This ending is different from Lorca’s) was heartbreaking and terrifying to watch but impossible to look away from. Billie Piper bared her soul on that stage and it was incredible to witness. I was in tears by the end of the show, simply because I was overwhelmed by the amount of emotion I was watching. I will remember this production for the rest of my life and if I could see it again and again and again, I would. But alas. It’s sold out. Also I’m poor. But anyway. Yerma has been my favorite show I have seen here so far and absolutely one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen in my life (right up there with Hamilton and Peter and the Starcatcher).

Well that’s all for now, my friends! Thanks for listening to my passionate theatre ramblings. More to come, I’m sure. Enjoy your day. Pet a dog. Drink some tea. Hug a friend. Kiss a loved one. See a show. All that jazz. Toodles!

08 September, 2016

An Account of the ICLC Bath Trip - by a Work Study Student

Avebury, Glastonbury, Wells, Bath, and Stonehenge

                  This past weekend (mostly) everybody at the Ithaca College London Centre got the wonderful opportunity to explore the English West Country. We began our trip bright and early in the morning, all stuffed into a single coach bus and started on our way. Nearly everybody fell asleep immediately upon arriving on the bus because they just couldn’t seem to keep their eyes open. I, on the other hand, couldn’t even think about closing my eyes because I was so excited about taking in the brilliance of the English countryside. While everybody else caught some ZZZs, my eyes were glued to the window watching all the illustrious rolling hills zoom past. I couldn’t help but feel like a character from a Jane Austen or Bronte sister novel, traveling far and wide to go see some distant relative or go to some illustrious Victorian ball. I highly recommend listening to some British music, while riding along, (i.e. Bowie, Adele, or the Beatles), to further heighten the experience. If you’re too tired to stay awake, certainly fall asleep on the bus so you are well rested for all the stops along the tour. Just be forewarned that you’re missing out on some of the most picturesque English landscapes that simply shouldn’t be missed.


         Our first stop was at the Avebury henge; Stonehenge’s lesser-known little sibling, if you will. What Avebury lacks in grandeur in comparison to its world renowned older sibling, it certainly makes up for it in charm, (and sheep!). The massive rocks are actually quite far apart and make for a very nice walk through some farmland. It surprised me to see an entire herd of sheep lazily grazing through the grass right by the Avebury henge. They seemed much less impressed with the boulders than we all did, but they were quite welcoming, with some being friendly enough to allow us to pet them. The best part of the experience is that you can actually walk right up to the colossal stones and touch them. Getting up close and personal allows you to see just how impressive the stones are, and just how impressive it is that our Neolithic ancestors were able to move them.  Standing near them certainly made me feel small, but it made my mind wander to enormous possibilities about what they might represent and why they were left there.


         We all hopped back on the bus and headed off to our next destination. Only a short hour later we arrived in Glastonbury, a quirky town that reminded me a bit of Ithaca. A lot of the locals wore dreads in their hair and hippie-sandals on their feet so I couldn’t help but feel like I was taking a stroll down The Commons. We all got a tour of the ancient, and now ruinous, Glastonbury Abbey which was nothing short of magnificent. The fact that the Abbey was in ruins almost made it more meaningful and impressive, because it’s not every day that you see such a prolific monument in such a crippling state. Our tour guide was named Luke, and he looked as if he had been plucked right out of the Middle Ages with his long beard and ancient English garb. He even told us many people believe Glastonbury to be the final resting place for the famous King Arthur, (you know, the guy who invented the round table), and his wife Guinevere, but it was up to us to decide whether we believe in that myth. After the Abbey, many of us climbed up to the Glastonbury Tor which is 512 feet in height and offers a breath-taking view of the entire town and the surrounding fields. I couldn’t help but feel small standing on top of the Tor, as if I were a small ant on top of a big hill. If ever given the opportunity I highly recommend the short hike up to the peak, because it is something I don’t intend on ever forgetting. It started to heavily rain on all of us as we walked back down the Tor, and even that couldn’t tamper with the beauty of the scenery.


         After a lovely afternoon in Glastonbury everybody packed back into the bus and we rode off to Wells. Our main point of attraction in Wells was the Wells Cathedral, or the Cathedral Church of St. Andrew. After seeing the battered remnants of the Glastonbury Abbey, the Wells Cathedral seemed like a stunning example of preservation and history. The architecture was quite impressive, with flying buttresses and ornate stained-glass windows everywhere you looked. The Cathedral even houses the second oldest working clock in the world, which still chimes on the hour. Again, I found myself feeling quite small in comparison to the splendour of the Cathedral, with its high vaulted ceilings and large sacrificial altars. But my appreciation for religion, and the amazing architecture it brought into the world, grew tenfold.


         Once we go to our destination we immediately checked into the YMCA, (it really is fun to stay at), and settled in for the night. We were all free to explore the nightlife of Bath, and a lot of us had a really fun time at Belushi’s Pub. It was a Friday night, so the place was quite crowded, and we were able to chat with people from all over the UK. Beer was drank, pool games were played, and everybody headed to bed in a great mood, eager for the day ahead of us.
         At what seemed like the crack of dawn the next morning, we were all awake and ready for our tour of the Roman Baths. The museum at Bath is quite extensive, with a great audio-guide companion that tells you all about the ancient city’s history. I learned that Bath is such a beautiful blend of ancient Roman and Celtic culture. What impressed me the most was Roman engineering, and the way they manipulated the space around the hot spring to use to their advantage. I drank some of the natural water from the spring, which tasted of minerals and a bit like blood. I wouldn’t let this discourage you from giving it a taste yourself, and besides, it is thought to have healing powers, which we rightly needed after the night at the pub before. It was amazing to realize that I had migrated to a place that millions had migrated to before me simply because there was a hot spring in the ground. It helped me grasp just how extensive the history is here in England, and just how small I am in comparison to it.


         After our comprehensive history lesson, we headed to our final destination: Stonehenge. We actually parked our bus some distance away from the rocks and walked ourselves all the way to the site of the henge. It was very exciting to see them suddenly appear so small on the horizon and watch them grow larger and larger as we approached them. Walking to Stonehenge helped me realize how far the people, (or aliens), had to walk in order to set up the monument. Once we finally reached the boulders it felt amazing standing only a few feet away from one of the most recognizable sites in the world. Something I had seen in pictures countless times before was now suddenly right in front of my eyes. Standing in the wake of Stonehenge, I found myself feeling small again. These massive stones all hold some sort of massive meaning behind them, and I couldn’t wrap my brain around what they stood for and how they’ve stood for it for so long.


         We all got on the bus one last time and headed back to the London Centre. The whole trip had exhausted us of our energy and we were happy to be back in familiar territory. From Abbeys and Cathedrals to ancient rocks and hot springs it was a trip that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world. The weekend seemed to remind me just how small I am, but I can’t help but feel like I’m actually much bigger after experiencing it all. 

25 August, 2016

British Biscuits - by Cat Proulx

Hello Future ICLC Students,

Isn’t this so exciting?? You are going to be coming to one of the coolest cities in the world, surrounded by other amazing historical, culture, and holy-crap-beautiful places, and on top of that you are going to be introduced to the wonderful world of biscuits. EXCITING. This post is dedicated to all you sweet lovers out there that are literally going to spend half of their budget on food. I am you, you are not alone, I understand.

So, to help y’all out, here are my top five biscuits (which I have legitimately taken the time to compare and review.) LET’S BEGIN.

Note: Due to taste preference, these biscuits are rated in no particular order, they are just my five favorites.

Another note (sorry): With all of these biscuits, I tasted them with Tetley English Breakfast Tea with whole milk. However, these biscuits also work GREAT with other teas (sometimes better). I was just going for consistency.

1: Fox’s Jam and Creams

Okay, out of the two main jam brands out there (Jammie Dodgers is the other one) Fox’s Jam and Creams are far superior. I can rant for a long time about it, but practically on every level, from taste to absorbency to texture, Jam and Creams take the cake. These are great with tea, great without tea, and the jam looks like it’s actual jam. Jammie Dodgers can take a hike with their fakety fake fake jolly rancher-esque jam that never really quite works with tea. If you like jam cookies or fruity cookies in any way, definitely go Fox’s. They will not disappoint. You can find these at most market stores, I found them at Tesco.

2: McVitie’s Ginger Nuts

Okay, so I know that ginger is not the easiest flavor for some, but I love ginger, especially with tea. If you also like ginger, you have to try McVitie’s Ginger Nuts and not Fox’s Ginger Crinkle Crunch biscuits. I am very particular about this, because it is all in the texture. McVitie’s has perfected the art of balancing the ginger and molasses in their biscuits so that when dunked in tea, you only get biscuit texture: and it’s smooth and great. Fox’s, on the other hand, has not perfected that balance, and when you dunk those in tea? You get this wimpy biscuit surrounding a hardened layer of molasses, and it’s just plain weird. It’s not what you want in a biscuit. You want Ginger Nuts. Please, go for Ginger Nuts. These are usually at Sainsbury’s, but actually due to flooding in December they were off the shelves for a while. Luckily, by the time y’all get here, they should be back in full swing.


3: McVitie’s Jaffa Cakes

Ok, ok, ok, I know, these clearly say ‘cakes’ in the title, and I understand your wariness, because if you’ve tried Jaffa Cakes you’re probably like: ‘Cat, you’re an idiot, these are soft and cake-like and I don’t believe you when you say it’s delicious with tea.’ Well, friend, please hold onto your hat and let me take you for a ride. For those that aren’t in the know, Jaffa Cakes are orange flavored cakes with orange jam on one side, and covered in dark chocolate. They’re brilliant on their own, but when you are ever so careful and give them one nice dunk in tea? You got a whole lot of ‘!!!!!!!!!’ emotions coming your way. Too long a dunk and it’s a little risky, but hey, you gotta risk it to get the biscuit, am I right? Find ‘em basically anywhere, I got mine at Tesco.

Last thing about this: even though it’s great with English Breakfast, do yourself a favor and try this with Earl Grey or Chai.

4. McVitie’s Penguins

I have to thank Hannah, aka one of the ICLC HBIC’s (Head Brit In Charge) for the Penguin representation in this blog post, because she is the one that gifted me that sweet, sweet chocolate snack. Available pretty much anywhere, a Penguin is a chocolate biscuit covered in chocolate. Yes, double chocolate for all you fiends out there. Though Penguins aren’t the most environmentally friendly because they are all individually wrapped, they kind of make up for it with the completely awful jokes that come on the back of each wrapper. Many puns, many cringe-worthy laughs. Penguins are great on their own, and if you want to be basic you can just dip it in your tea (hold it for a long while—they thick) and be done with it, OR, you can be an adventurer. You can choose to sacrifice your reputation (because you WILL look ridiculous) for taste bud glory. Which path do you choose? If you choose glory, continue reading the next paragraph. All you other cowards can skip it.

When you begin to eat your Penguin, the first thing you must do is make sure you have a full cup of hot tea. This is imperative. When that’s done, bite off one northern corner of the biscuit, and the opposite southern corner of the biscuit. If you need a mental image, you want to have a diagonal path with the entrance and exit being the bit corners of the biscuit. Now. Place one of the bit corners into your tea, place your mouth over the other bit corner, and suck on the biscuit like you are trying to get the tea to your lips. Do not give up if you don’t think it’s working: it is. Now, this is the tough part. Based off of pure instinct, find the perfect time to stop the straw action and flip the biscuit up and into your mouth. No need to get the whole thing in there, just mainly go for the bit that got a lot of the tea all up in it. As you’re eating, revel in how delicious it is, but more importantly, how superior you are to your classmates who probably only eat their Penguins by dunking them like lemmings. You have swum against the current, you have boldly gone where few go because they are worried about being laughed at! And now, you feast…victorious.

5. McVitie’s Milk Chocolate Digestives

The holy grail of biscuits. Nay, I daresay, the biscuit. With milk chocolate on one side and a graham cracker type deal on the other, Milk Chocolate Digestives are the only biscuit that you HAVE to try if you go to London. Unless it’s against your religion, you’re allergic, or the spirit of McVitie himself came to you in a dream and forbid you from eating them, it is your obligation as an ICLC student to go to whatever convenience store is nearest your flat, find yourself the McVitie’s MCD (cool kids use acronyms), pay for it (cool kids don’t steal), brew yourself a cuppa, and prepare for your life to be forever changed. Eat these biscuits plain. Eat ‘em with tea, with milk, with coffee, whatever it takes, just go and eat them. Bless up, you’re welcome, mic drop.

End Note:

I realize this post is all about biscuits, but honestly, try every new food you can (based off of your dietary restrictions, and choices, obviously). Food is a great way to learn about a culture, and you’re going to be experiencing lots and lots of cultures while abroad. Bring yourself out of your comfort zone when it comes to food, because you never know what food might change your life. Cheers!

28 March, 2016

Striking the Balance Between Exploring and Traveling - by Erika Olsen

When I was first accepted to the Ithaca College London Center for Spring of 2016, I could not have been more excited. I immediately began writing a list of all the countries I wanted to visit and what I wanted to see in each. I knew I wanted to see Vienna (thanks, Billy Joel), but also the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland and who could skip on trying a German pretzel? My list also included Glasgow, Amsterdam, Venice, Brighton, Prague, Norway, Paris, Edinburgh, and many others.

However, as I sat down to write out my calendar, I realized that I would have to shrink my list; I slowly started to realize how short the semester really is, and recognized that, while I really wanted to travel through Europe, I also wanted to see and experience London. I slowly started to cut down my travel list to what was really important to me and wrote out a list of things I wanted to do in London and the surrounding area, such as touring the BBC Broadcasting Centre and exploring Harrods. Slowly, my weekends started to fill up and eventually, I was satisfied with the balance I had reached between traveling and seeing the city I’m living in.

I have already been to Amsterdam, Bath, Wells, Prague, Vienna, and Budapest and have trips planned for Edinburgh, Paris, Nice, and Stratford. I am also looking forward to making a day trip out to Liverpool to see the birthplace of my favorite band, the Beatles. Through my classes and my own curiosity, I will be visiting more museums and palaces, such as the Victoria & Albert Museum and Buckingham Palace, and spending time at my favorite markets, including Brick Lane and Borough Market.

While the allure of traveling through Europe and spending the weekends country-hopping is truly tempting, I think it is important for anyone studying abroad to experience their temporary home. London is a city rich in history and culture and definitely has some hidden gems lying in its markets and winding streets. While I am already more than halfway through my time here, I am excited to make the most of the upcoming weeks traveling and spending time exploring all that London has to offer.