Wednesday, September 14, 2011

From the South to the North

Greetings from Manchester, England!

As many of you know I have finally arrived for my semester abroad in England, but I have been fairly absent from the online community for the past few days. After leaving the U.S. I arrived in London for a four day Bridging Cultures Program with my fellow Eurolearn students. It was a time of adjustment and overwhelming change (not to mention irritating wi-fi problems!), but it was such an amazing experience that I will never forget!

After group meetings in the morning we set out to walk the streets of London on a Harry Potter walking tour. I'm not much of a Harry Potter fan, but a walking tour is probably the best way to truly see a city, especially London. I loved Leadenhall Market, but unfortunately it was closed on Sundays. It was terrible to pass by shops and know I couldn't go into them, but some how I survived. Here is a picture I took in one of the walkways...

After the tour we walked over London Bridge and headed to the Mayor's Thames Festival which is held every year. Festivals (or fairs) are very common ways to celebrate overseas and this one offered many kinds of music, dancing, food, and crafts from artists all over the UK. After being completely famished I got a Chicken Satay Kebab (no that is NOT a typo) from a cute dirty-blonde English guy who called me 'love'. But the best part of the night was when my friend Grace and I were walking back to the hotel. On our way to see St. Paul's Cathedral we passed by a building and the name sounded so familiar to me, but I couldn't quite place it. It was a rather large and beautiful building called Thames House. As soon as I got back to the hotel of course I did what any twenty-first century girl does.... I googled it. It's the headquarters for MI-5! I waltzed by the British version of the CIA without a second glance or even a picture! Go figure.

The next day I sampled some exquisite Lebanese food, and then headed off to survey my future home: Buckingham Palace. I have to say, the State Rooms are quite opulent and a bit over done, but I'm sure Harry won't mind changing a few things for me. :) It was as expensive and ornate as I imagined, and the gardens were like a fairytale land complete with Spanish moss and a little pond. Here is a look at the side entrance...

After dinner we went to see Billy Elliot at the Victoria Palace Theater. I had heard it was very good, and it definitely did not disappoint. That wrapped up my time in London, because the next morning I was set to leave for the north! I was joined on my very first train ride by two fellow Manchester students, and lived the life of luxury by sitting in first class. :) The train ride brought my jet lag back in a major way, but I forced myself to stay awake and view the beautiful English countryside. It's funny, because in some ways it reminds me of Missouri. Just, you know, take out the cows, add sheep, and - voila! This is a picture I took when we were almost to Stoke-on-Trent...

At last... I finally arrived in Manchester yesterday! It seems as though I have been talking about this forever, and now it's finally here. It has been exceptionally windy here lately (winds equivalent to 75-80 mph) so for fear of my map flying off into the Irish Sea, I opted to stay inside and go to bed early to catch up on some much needed rest. Twelve hours later... I was awake! :)

I spent some time walking around Manchester today and doing a bit of shopping (though, unfortunately, not very exciting purchases). Manchester is an old industrial city that has been through quite a bit in the last century. New buildings are scattered around old red brick buildings that - some time ago - were the factories and mills that were the heart of the city. The hotel I am currently staying in is actually a converted warehouse itself...

This has turned more into a novel than a blog, so I will bid you goodnight (or afternoon - wherever you are!). Tomorrow I head off to University and meet my flat mates, which I am very excited about! I promise I will blog more frequently, and keep you all up-to-date.

Flat Hannah's Corner

So you may be thinking... who is Flat Hannah and what does she have to do with my trip to England? Flat Hannah is my companion for this trip, and I am very glad she is here! One of my Directors at work, Wendy, has a beautiful daughter named Hannah that created a mini version of herself (complete with jewelry and high heels!) so she could go with me on my travels. I will be taking her everywhere I go and hopefully getting some great pictures to catalogue our journey along the way. Here is a picture taken the night before we left...

She was very excited to leave and I am sure had more room to move around the plane than I did! Every blog I do will have a special section for Flat Hannah detailing where we were in the pictures and what exactly we were doing. Who knows, maybe she will have more friends at St. Gabriel's Hall than I will! :) Here is Flat Hannah in Manchester...

More (and better) Flat Hannah pictures and adventures to come. :)



  1. Would love to have taken the walking tour of Harry Potter with you and we definitely would have shopped at Diagon Alley!

  2. The Adventure begins....Yeah Mary!

  3. Yay Mary! :) Loved the pics of the Harry Potter tour! London is gorgeous...can't wait to read more and I hope you will have lots of fun!

    Also, squirrel on the Mr. Darcy and Colin Firth look-alikes. Grawrr! ;P

  4. Oh Mary! Thanks for the walk with the blog and pics! I am so inspired by your adventurous spirit! The Spirit in you amazes me! Hugs! Angel

  5. Mary: Thank you for taking Flat Hannah on your trip. I am so excited. Why does the castle have big windows? - Hannah