By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
I’ll be home in less than a month.
Just as this city has started to really get in under my skin in the best ways, it’s going to be over. It’s made even worse by the realization that I’ve only got one weekend left in London.
I suppose it’s for the best that I’m falling in love with the city as I prepare to leave it.
This all just feels like I’ve had two pints of cider at the pub and upon standing I realize I’m a little more drunk than anticipated…but not too far gone for another pint.
One of my favorite buildings in all of London is St. Paul’s Cathedral. Look back on most of my Instagrams of any sort of London skyline, if it’s not featuring Big Ben or the London Eye (or some combination of me trying to break into a palace or join the Royal Family). St. Paul’s Cathedral is there, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background, sometimes featured in a glass of wine.
I’ve never actually been inside of St.Paul’s, mind you. It’s on my (dwindling) list of places to go, and my friend convinced me to wait to go until next weekend. Ending my London tourist-ings on a high note, right?
It’s hard to explain my infatuation with this building. William and Kate weren’t even married there (though William’s mother and father were). In a city filled to the brim with old buildings, it’s one of the most noteworthy, sure, but there’s just something about the way it rises above most of the other buildings in that majestic way tall things are tall. It’s a crude description but bear with me.
Whether I’m 50 feet or 5,000 meters away, something about that white dome just catches my eye and holds my attention. A friend and I walked around the cathedral on Saturday evening and I couldn’t help but just stare skyward at the beautifully carved exterior, marveling.
Something about St. Paul’s makes me feel centered. I’m by no means a religious person, but the curve of the dome and the beauty that was wrought by Christopher Wren just makes things feel right.
I feel small, but not in a bad way. You get close to the building and look up, until you remember to look where you’re going because another tourist almost bumped into you. You remember your feet are still on the ground and you’ve got another place to go.
Maybe it’s strange to have a semi-religious experience thanks to a building’s exterior architecture and maybe I’m just mostly typing nonsense, but I think it all goes hand in hand with my time in London.
No matter what, I’ll always look toward London. It’ll have a place in my heart, for better or for worse, and now I’ll understand a little better what this city actually is.
Just like getting close to the cathedral, I’ve felt small in London. I’ve felt really small. Never before have I felt so outside my comfort zone in so many situations—but it’s also a beautiful reminder of what life brings.
In no way shape or form should I remain in my comfort zone at all times, and I think I best grow when put outside of my native environment.
I think because of all of this, it’s given me a greater understanding of myself. Sure I’ve bumped into a number of tourists (both physically and allegorically), but it’s all made me realize what’s going on around me—and just how awesome it’s been to be here.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
It has always taken me a little while to feel settled. It took a couple months for that to happen when I came out to Boston from my suburban Minnesota hometown. I still remember the moment too – it was the first time I went for a run on the Esplanade and caught a glimpse of the Charles and the Boston skyline.
This moment certainly didn’t happen during a run, though I did go for a guilt-induced jog through Hyde Park today. Chock it up to one too many nights ending at Burger King. Whoops. I even got lost on my run and ended up at the Speakers’ Corner, where people go to pontificate about their beliefs and ideas in the open air (thanks, Wikipedia). My favorite part of the entire ordeal is that tons of people come to listen and heckle the speakers. Being the digital creature I am, I recorded a Vine while at the corner and actually caught one of the hecklers calling a speaker a “crazy antichrist.” I laughed.
The epiphany actually happened on a relatively tame Friday night. After a day of sightseeing, high tea and Kate Middleton impressions (okay, so I may have made my friend take a ton of pictures of me walking out of the same door Kate did during the Royal Wedding…), my friend, her sister and I decided to explore the South Bank.
The South Bank is a neighborhood or borough directly across the river from Westminster. Coming from the Crofton in Kensington, the easiest way to get there is to get off the tube on what’s technically the north bank — though no one calls it that — and walk across one of the bridges to the other side. We opted to get off at the Embankment tube station instead of Westminster (we had seen enough of Big Ben for the day).
We exited the station at around 10 p.m., so obviously it was dark out and walked up the stairs to a pedestrian bridge flanking the London Bridge. The view from the bridge looking across the Thames toward the City of London and St. Paul’s Cathedral was breathtaking. Electricians have to be rich in this town because all the structures along the river were lit up with these incredible colored lights, with the blue-lit arches of our pedestrian bridge to the yellow lights from surrounding buildings and this incredible pink and purple structure that I think was an art museum, with everything glittering off the Thames’ low tide. The notorious London clouds even parted to reveal a full moon behind the entire spectacle.
I kept raising my camera to capture the view, but ultimately keeping it down as I stood and just tried to absorb the view. It’s one of those moments when you try as hard as you can to take mental snapshots. For me, a camera can’t duplicate that sense of warmth, happiness and even peace that washed over me as we made our way across the bridge, stopping every few feet to soak up the view a little more.
By Marie Goldstein, Staff Writer
Unlike most of the Boston University student population, I have only been out of the United States once in my life. This was on my senior trip of high school to the Dutch island of St. Maarten. My four closest friends and I stayed a week in a villa at the Royal Palm Resort over looking Simpson Bay. This being the first time we were out of the United States and the first time we were away from our parents the trip twisted and turned with unexpected surprises. Nevertheless, this week was full with memories that will last me a lifetime. If you are ever visiting the Dutch side of St. Maarten, here are some of the must-sees.
The Town of Phillipsburg
There are few things I have seen that are more beautiful than the beach of Phillipsburg. Not only are there crystal clear waves crashing on the white powder beach, there’s also a huge town full of shops. The shops vary from marketplace-esque to high-end names. In the marketplace you can get authentic Caribbean jewelry. I bought bracelets made out of coconuts that I am in love with! The high-end brand names back home don’t have tax, so they are way cheaper. I bought a Longchamp bag, and my best friend snagged a Michele watch for cheap.
The Royal Palm Resort Lagoon
This private lagoon only for the Royal Palm guests was definitely a private paradise. It was the perfect place to go for a senior trip because it was quite, and there weren’t many little kids around. There were lounge chairs set on the beach that you could move in the water if you wanted to. The water was the perfect temperature for the crazy heat we braved on the trip. Aloe vera massage, anyone?
Lady Sea is a bar that is on a sailboat! This is seriously one of the coolest things I have ever seen. A huge sailboat travels from island to island bringing a unique bar atmosphere to visiting tourists! The sailboat has a bar, tables, a stage and a place to dance if you’re not to scared of falling overboard. This is a must-see on your trip, and there is no doubt that you will make your best memories at Lady Sea! Last I heard Lady Sea is still in the same location across the street from the Royal Palm Resort, but I hear that it may be traveling to a new island in the near future!
By Amira Francis (@Mircatfrancis), Staff Writer
We hear horror stories each year about students studying abroad. Whether you’re leaving home sweet home to pursue studies or just to get a taste of the world, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when learning how to survive in an unfamiliar place.
As someone who backpacked alone around Ireland for three weeks this past summer, I can say with confidence that it is better to be safe than sorry. Always—especially in those foreign bars and clubs you know you’ll be at—stay on your guard. Here are a few major things you should keep your eye out for when exploring the land beyond America. Hopefully these tips will help you have a safe, fulfilling time abroad.
1. Keep a lookout for shady characters
Okay, okay, this one seems like a given. Of course you’re not going to walk past that large, muscular man with his hood up, stumbling through the streets at one in the morning. Common sense, right? And you should follow your common sense. If someone doesn’t look quite right to you, by all means, stay away. Sometimes, though, these shady characters can be a lot subtler. It could be the well-groomed, smooth-talking Italian man who turns out not to be the white knight you think he is. Or it could be the seemingly trustworthy Spanish saleswoman who you thought was kindly chatting you up to help a foreigner out. Hours later you can’t find your wallet, which leads to my second and third point.
2. Never put yourself in a situation where you are alone with a stranger
A stranger could be someone that you met a day ago, a week ago or even a month ago. For the purpose of playing it safe, it’s better to stay in the public eye. If you want to go on a date with the dashing English guy you just met, stick to restaurants to start with. (And watch your drink!) If that beautiful girl wants to show you some place that all the other tourists haven’t seen yet, politely suggest somewhere a little more familiar. If you do choose to go somewhere alone with a person you have just met, which could happen in a spur-of-the-moment surge of adventure, at the very least let a friend know where you’re going and who you’re going with.
3. Keep your money and your passport close
A study abroad nightmare is a lost passport. Keep it in the most secure place you can think of, like in that safe pocket on the inside of your purse. I met an Australian man who even kept a padlock on the zipper of his backpack. The same kind of thing goes for money. Keep an eye on your wallet. It’s tough enough recovering a lost wallet in Boston. I can’t imagine doing the same successfully in a foreign land.
4. Follow your gut
If you have a bad feeling about something, don’t do it. If your gut is telling you not to trust someone, don’t trust him or her. Your intuition is wise, so make sure you learn to listen to it while traveling abroad. Err on the safe side and, by the end of your trip, you won’t regret it.