This past weekend I ventured north to Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden is known for its meatballs and pancakes, but what people don't know is they have some other delicious foods and amazing sights throughout the city of Stockholm. Stockholm was one of the most expensive cities I have visited, the other one probably being London. For a meal at any time of the day I paid between $20-$28, or in their currency it would be kr168 - kr235. The group of us did save money by walking everywhere in the city.
We enjoyed some delicious food while in Stockholm. My goal is to always try the foods that are known in that country. I tried their cinnamon rolls, chocolate balls, and a sweet bread. For a main course I had an open-face shrimp sandwich, an unknown Swedish specialty. Then we of course all had to try the Swedish meatballs which were AMAZING.
We spent most of our time walking around the city exploring the sites. We were already spending most of our money on food, so we did not pay to get into their many museums. We saw some wonderful architecture with many vibrant colors. They also looked like they were getting ready for Christmas. Over the weekend we walked around 10 miles each day in 37 degree weather. It got pretty chilly sometimes!
One thing we had wanted to do for a while was go to the original Ice Bar in Stockholm. We were able to do that on our second night in Stockholm. They gave us ponchos to stay warm in the sub freezing room that is completely made of ice. I even kept my winter coat on underneath the poncho it was so cold. The drinks were served in ice, which helped keep them cold. The Ice Bar offers nonalcoholic beverages so families can visit the bar together.
This week was our last week of internships, which means we get more to travel! This weekend my family will be arriving, and we will have a week full of fun! With only three short days, there is a lot we have to cover.
This past weekend I used time to explore a few more items on my bucket list in London before heading out in the countryside with the SWSB London group.
On Friday, Leah and I headed to St. Paul's Cathedral for a tour. I have pictures of the outside below, but there is a no picture policy on the inside. Two of my favorite parts were the beautifully painted dome and the Whispering Gallery. The Whispering Gallery got its name after it was built. They discovered that if two people stand opposite each other and talk to the wall, the other person can hear it on the complete opposite side of the dome. Leah and I tried it and we were able to hear each other, but we were also able to hear everyone else as well.
After our tour of St. Paul's Cathedral we walked to the Sky Garden to meet our classmates. The Sky Garden is located on the 35th floor of the "walkie talkie" building. It offers an excellent view of the city, at a low cost, £0! Hard to believe in such an expensive city there are great deals like that. It is funny because the Shard located directly across the Thames cost £26 to get to the top. While inside we were able to enjoy the view while eating at a small café.
For a history and culture project, my group is doing a presentation on Whitechapel and Brick Lane, so we made a visit there on Friday afternoon. It sure was a full day! We took some great culture pictures, and found some funny posters. The area has a wide array of culture from the Middle East, and the food is absolutely delicious!
Saturday we headed to Alexandra Palace for fireworks and Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Day. I read a book about it in high school, but I never thought I would actually experience it. The bonfire was huge, but the fireworks were the best part. In addition to the fireworks, there was a lazer show that accompanied it. They were definitely the best fireworks I have seen. The music put the 4th Fest's to shame.
Sunday we headed out into the countryside for a relaxing weekend. Our first stop was at Hampton Court Palace. Many many years ago (over 500 actually!) it was the palace of Henry VIII. He was the king that had six wives, which lead to the famous rhyme "killed, beheaded, died. killed, beheaded. survived." It was a magnificent castle with extremely large kitchens, even a kitchen just for chocolate. After touring the palace we headed to the Holbrook House, a small hotel and spa out in the English country. We were able to lounge by the indoor pool, we comfy robes and slippers, and even sampled a 5-course meal. It was the perfect escape from the crazy city of London. Monday morning we had the option of a traditional English breakfast, before heading off to Oxford. On the way to Oxford we stopped for a tour in Lacock. Lacock is a small village where parts of Harry Potter was filmed, as well as other British shows. We of course then saw even more scenes from the Harry Potter during our walking tour of Oxford. I can now officially say I have been to Oxford University!
On Friday afternoon we visited Parliament as a group. We were unable to take pictures while inside, but I took some before entering and after we left. The picture with the green and yellow artwork is constantly changing. It is based on the tide of the Thames, more colors appear the higher the river tide. The Parliament building was originally used as the palace for the royal family of London. It is now home to the House of Lords and House of Commons.
Tower Bridge and Tower of London
Saturday we ventured to the city of London. Most of the places we visit are actually in the city of Westminster. It is in the city of London where the Tower Bridge and Tower of London are located. You can walk across the bridge on the lower platform, or you can pay to walk across the top where the floor goes clear and you can see straight down. We walked across the general crossing to the other side, where the Tower of London is located.
We went inside the Tower of London, and it was nothing like I expected. It was like a small village on the inside. We walked up two towers and visited the Crown Jewels exhibit. The exhibit was home to the royal crowns and staffs from past royalty. Even Queen Elizabeth II houses her crown there for everyone to see. There was even a cafe for people to sit down and take a break from their day.
On Sunday, Leah and I took a visit to the coastal city of Brighton. The first thing we did was have a seafood platter with chips. Brighton is known for having delicious fish and chips, and I have to say the cod was delicious. The sardines that were hidden under my chips are another story....I was not about to eat them! They even had little eyes.
We then walked around the pier and visited the arcade. I found one of my favorite boardwalk games inside the arcade, and won Leah and I some lollipops. To end our trip, we visited the Royal Pavilion. That is the regal looking building in several of the pictures.
Camden Market and Primrose Hill
To end our weekend of fun, a small group of us traveled to Camden Market with Dr. Habegger. There we tried deep fried cheese in the shape of fries with some odd toppings. There was molasses and pomegranate seeds in addition to several other things, but it was a delicious combination. I also tried a strawberry and nutella crepe. If you want to try any kind of food, go to the Camden market! We then walked to Primrose Hill and had a gorgeous view of the city.
After traveling for four weekends straight, I spent the weekend exploring London. On Saturday morning our class went to Brixton for a cultural walk. We walked around the town and learned the culture through our own personal tour guide. One of the coolest parts of the town was the market located only a short walk from the tube station. There was fresh produce and meat, as well as small cafes and restaurants. For lunch we tried patties, a Jamaican pastry filled with meat, vegetables, or spinach depending on the type you order.
In the afternoon we visited the Muslim cultural center. During our visit we observed one of their daily prayers and even sat in the mosque. It was a unique experience to learn about different cultures and how their beliefs differ from my own. One of my favorite parts from the weekend was the church service I attended on Sunday morning.
On Sunday we attended an Anglo-Catholic service as an entire group. I have been to Catholic services before, so I had an idea of what to expect. The service was actually very similar to a Lutheran service. There was singing and plenty of liturgy, some of it was exactly the same to what I hear at church. One of the main differences was the incense, the prayers to Mary, and of course the kneeling. I know it is always a joke that Lutherans stand up and sit down a lot, I am just happy that we don’t have to kneel as well!
Another part of the cultural weekend was to eat lunch at a Pakistan restaurant. At first the entire group got nervous because there were only thin wafers and dressings on the table. If that was going to be our entire lunch, then it would have been a disappointment. Luckily what came next was an elaborate lunch. We had different types of bread with lamb and chicken. For the sides there was rice, beans, and potatoes covered in a green sauce. The entire meal was delicious and unique. I don’t think I have ever eaten food from Pakistan before, and I may never eat it again.
Monday was probably my favorite day of adventuring this weekend. Leah and I went to the Borough Market for the first time since being in London. The Borough Market was the place of one of the terrorist attacks this summer, so it was strange to walk through there knowing what had happened. I was surprised at the wide variety of food available. There were small farmers’ markets stands with fresh produce and freshly squeezed juice. There were plenty of stands selling fresh meat, poultry, and seafood; I wasn’t brave enough to try any of the meat though. My favorite part was the stir fry I had for dinner. I have been trying to find some good Chinese food in London for a while, and I think I finally found it (although, China town probably has some good Chinese food too). There were food stands covering all parts of the world from Germany to India. Some bakery stands were in the Halloween mood with mummy cookies and chocolate spiders. Borough Market is a must for anyone coming to London.
This weekend was also Brittny and Leah's Birthday, so of course we had to celebrate! And we also all happened to be matching. Enjoy!
This past week in London has taught me a lot about living on my own as well as in a foreign country. Early on in the week I started to feel sick, which is one thing I was hoping would not happen while I was abroad. Although I am old enough to go to the doctor on my own, I usually rely on my mom to make my appointments for me. Since my mom is thousands of miles away, I had to take it upon myself to call and make an appointment on my own. This meant doing research to find places that accept my health insurance, but are also willing to take on American students.
During the course of the week I attended four different doctor appointments to try and find a cure. In the UK they do not like to give out medication like they do in the US; so although I knew exactly what I needed to get better the physician did not want to give me the medication. I ended up going to a specialist, where they had to draw blood. I absolutely HATE needles and bloodwork, and my parents were not around to comfort me. What made the situation even worse was the first suggestion the doctor had for a cure was to put me in a hospital overnight. So, in the UK they do not want to administer drugs BUT they are perfectly fine plopping you in a hospital bed overnight with IVs sticking out of your arms. At that point I had to call home in order to get some support and reassurance from my parents. Thank goodness I did, because I walked out with medication and got to sleep in my own bed that night!
Although it was not the 21st birthday I always imagined, it actually turned out to be even better. Friday morning, eight of us headed off to Greece for a long weekend. We started our journey on the island of Mykonos, where the “elite” go to vacation. Check out the real estate prices yourself, it is hard to find any home below $1 million! Although it is the elite that build on the island, they welcomed us poor college students with open arms. We rented ATVs to get around on the rocky terrain and steep roads. Our house had a gorgeous pool in front, but it was a little too chilly to jump in for a swim. We did make it to the southern coast of the island to swim in the beautiful clear water of the Mediterranean. All of the homes on the island were made of white stone, with colored shutters on the windows. One of my favorite parts of the island was Little Venice, where there were plenty of delicious restaurants along the cobblestone pathways. I think we had gyros for almost every meal, but it is hard not to when you could purchase one for 2.70 euros. Imagine that! An entire meal for around $3! And of course the baklava was a must, it is not every day you get traditional Greek pastries in Greece.
After a relaxing two days in paradise we hopped on a twenty-five-minute flight to Athens. We did not have much time in the wonderful city, but we made every minute count. The first night in the city we went to a Greek restaurant where we enjoyed some traditional Greek food. I actually learned things about Greece that I had never knew at that dinner. For example, some of their most popular dishes consist of eggplant, pork, and lamb. For dinner I had eggplant gratin, which is basically eggplant with plenty of cheese and sauce on top. Another popular dish made with eggplant was Moussaka, with potato on top and bottom filled with meet and cheese as well. For an appetizer we all shared fried cheese, Greek salad, and spinach pie. I think that the spinach pie may have been my favorite part of all the food I tried in Athens.
On Monday we spent the day sight seeing. First we visited the Acropolis and the Parthenon. Did you know that the Parthenon is actually on top of the Acropolis? I had no idea until we actually visited the site! The Acropolis is a large rocky outcrop in the middle of the city where many important architectural structures were built. One of the important structures was the Parthenon. The Parthenon was formerly a temple, dedicated to the Greek goddess Athena. The view from the top was wonderful, you could see the entire city and the surrounding mountains. Another neat place we visited was the first stadium of the modern day Olympic games. It is hard to believe that the simple stadium that we got to stand in has now evolved into the elaborate games that we have today. We were able to walk through the tunnel where the athletes would have entered from, and even saw replicas of Olympic torches.
My trip to Greece was probably the best 21st birthday adventure I could have asked for. It has always been my dream to go to Greece, and I was able to make it a reality. You never know what is possible until you put your mind and heart into it. This entire week has been life changing in many ways, but I feel like it has only made me a better person.
These past few weeks have been extremely busy for me. I've been in three different countries in the past three weeks, Germany (Munich), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), and Spain (Barcelona). It is amazing to see the differences between each culture.
While in Munich, I spent a day at Oktoberfest. I've heard it called Disneyland for adults, which is pretty accurate. There were 10 different "tents" to choose from with an array of different beers and Radler (a mix between lemonade and beer). The day after Oktoberfest I spent the day with Leah and Frank, traveling all over Germany to the Neuschwanstein Castle. The Disney castle at Walt Disney World is a replica of this castle that is tucked away on the side of a mountain. When we were at the castle we were only a few minutes away from Austria! Leah and I then spent Monday exploring Munich and trying some authentic German food before traveling back to London. I didn't go a single day without eating a pretzel!
Amsterdam was a great city with wonderful sights and delicious food. It was just like I had pictured it, or what Fault in Our Stars helped me to picture it as. There were hundreds of canals, so of course Leah and I did a canal tour. Seeing the city from the water was completely different than on foot. We also did a bike tour, which was slightly scary because at points the bikes merge with the rest of the traffic or you end up on a sidewalk with people. My favorite sight-seeing event was definitely the Anne Frank House. We waited in line for around an hour, but I have honestly stood in longer lines at Disney. It was such a humbling experience to stand in the same room that Anne Frank lived in during WWII. The Dutch food was the icing on top of the cake. There were delicious waffles, Dutch apple pie, plenty of cheese, and their famous fries with mayo!
While I type this blog I am currently sitting in my room in Barcelona. This weekend was quite different than the other two trips out of London. I was able to walk around in a dress and sandals under a cloudless sky. Our first day here Leah, Annie, and I did a tour of the Gothic Quarter and saw La Sagrada de Familia. We also enjoyed a typical Spanish lunch of paella and tapas. For anyone who doesn't know, paella is a rice dish and tapas are basically appetizers. Today we woke up and had to try churros y chocolate. The hot chocolate is so thick here that it reminds me of a melted candy bar. We visited Park Guell, another one of Gaudi's beautiful works (Sagrada Familia is one as well). To end the day we headed to the beach to relax and swim on the crystal clear water. It definitely is going to be hard going back to London after this trip.
I am looking forward to my 21st birthday this week, and to celebrate I will be headed to Greece on Friday. Well, technically it isn't for my birthday, but there is no place I would rather spend it.
This past week has been an adventure. I returned from Germany on Monday, went to class and work in the middle of the week, and headed to Amsterdam on Saturday. All this traveling keeps me on my toes, but it also teaches me how to use public transportation. On a daily basis I travel through London using the tubes and buses, just like other Londoners. Both the tubes and buses cost a small fee, which is why I use an oyster card. I load my card weekly so that I can get around the city and to work on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The bus is much cheaper than the tube, so I take it in the mornings (I also have phone service, unlike on the tube). In the evenings after work, I normally take the tube to avoid the work traffic.
Did you know that riding the Northern tube is so deep underground, riding it is the equivalent of smoking a cigarette? Crazy!
London also has plenty of trains above ground as well. The trains start in the middle of the city and can go outward toward cities outside of London such as Brighton. We used the train when we traveled to Twickenham, which is on the outskirts of the city. You can even catch the Eurostar at Kings Cross to head to Brussels or Paris! The ride is anywhere from 1 ½ hours to 2 hours. Usually getting around the city will require using several different lines, or even multiple methods of transportation. For example, to get to the airport on Saturday I used two different tubes (the Northern and Circle) and then hopped on the Stansted express (a train) to make it to the airport. London is actually super easy to get around, and much more convenient compared to Munich. When arriving in Munich, the mode of transportation to the city is most likely a cab which costs much more than public transportation.
Walking is nice, especially to see all the cafes and shops. I enjoy walking, but as it gets colder and the weather gets worse I find myself taking public transportation more often. By the end of the trip, I’ll be managing the tube like a true Londoner. I do miss my car and being able to drive directly to where I need to go. I may forget how to drive when I get back
When riding the tube, always remember to MIND THE GAP!
Below are some pictures from the recent places I have traveled to buses, tubes, and planes.
This week my main focus is going to be food in London. There are several different kinds of places you can get food such as pubs, bars, restaurants, and street food. London is a big city, and there is no reason to ever go hungry. Before heading to London I was warned that the food wasn’t going to be too good, but I really have not had a problem since getting here. Sure, every once and a while there is a restaurant that is a complete flop, but that happens in America too.
Two of the most popular dishes that are unique to London are meat pies as well as fish and chips. On our first day here, we started our trip with meat pies. Since then several of us have gone out to local pubs to get meat pies, a choice of chicken or steak and ale, with a side of mashed potatoes, peas, and a boat of gravy. It can be difficult to find an amazing fish and chips meal, but there are endless options throughout the London area.
One of my favorite pubs to grab a bite to eat is The Wellington. There are two located fairly close to the flats, with drinks being served even after the kitchen closes down. We sometimes will go as a group and get several starters to share among us. The starters are very similar to America, with wings, fries, and nachos at the top of the list. The John Salt pub is definitely at the top of my list, but I still have plenty of time to explore more places.
When I’m craving a sweet treat, my favorite go-to is gelato. Yes, this is London and not Italy (although I definitely will still get gelato when we go to Rome!), but there are some delicious options out there. At Amorino, you can get gelato in the shape of a flower. They offer several flavors and you can put together any combination you desire.
It is actually surprising how many American restaurants you can find while wandering the streets of London. There are plenty McDonald's, Five Guys, and Shake Shack. You can even go to Chipotle for a burrito, but my personal choice would be the UK version called Tortilla. During the lunch hours of 10-2 you can find plenty of street vendors selling anything from pasties to Thai food. It all smells amazing, but you have to be careful that they aren’t a phony vendor. It is recommended to look and make sure that there is a license on the stand before making a purchase. This weekend I will be heading to Germany. I can’t wait to try new food and compare it to the food here in London.
This week was the first week of internships for everyone in the SWSB London program. To start kick off the internships we had a networking event with alumni in the London area on Tuesday night. Dr. Rousu traveled across the pond to join us for a night of fun and socializing. While at the networking event we met with 6+ alumni over delicious food and drinks at the John Salt pub. With so many people from Susquehanna in one room, I almost forgot I was in London! Some of the alumni have been in London for over 18 years, while others made the move just six short months ago. Several of the alumni said it was the London program that encouraged them to travel and now work abroad. After talking to them I now have a desire to hopefully work in a foreign country some day, even for a short amount of time.
Wednesday was the first day of work. At around 8:40 I hopped on the bus and headed to work. One major difference with work here in London versus America are the work day hours. My workday starts at 9:30 am and runs until 5:30 pm, with an hour break in the middle of the day. Other students don’t start their internships until 10 am. Back in the U.S. I would report to work between 8-8:30 every day and would stay until 5:30. Here in London there is no rush to get to work in the morning, which means more sleep for us!
Once entering my office, I was shocked to see the layout. My office is the size of a classroom, with desks scattered throughout the room. There are no high walls to isolate everyone, so it is easy to communicate and keep open relationships with other employees. The CEO sits at the same kind of desk I do, right across the room from me. At no point have they made me feel like there is a hierarchy that I need to follow. The CEO allows me to go directly to her with any questions I have. I wish that the US would adopt this form of office setting, it makes it much easier to collaborate as a team.
EducAid is a great fit for me, I’m glad that they were willing to offer me an internship. In addition to doing financial work for them, I am also learning to think in new ways. My first task at work was to lay out a plan for their volunteer process. These are skills that will help me be a more well-rounded business woman, not just an accountant with my nose in the books. The nonprofit sector is much different than the corporate world I had experience in this summer. The internships are a major addition to the SWSB London program, and I am glad they decided to start them during my time in London.
While at my internship I was a little too busy to take photos, so instead I have attached some from during my free time. Enjoy!
This week allowed no rest for the weary, we have been on the move every day since Sunday. On Sunday we headed out into the country side to tour Chapel Down Winery. A lot of us were skeptical as to whether the trip would be worthwhile, but it ended up being our favorite day trip thus far. We learned the business behind the winery, and techniques they use to target their preferred market. After a tour of the vineyards and a quick business lesson we spent time taste testing the wine. This was my personal favorite part of the trip. I enjoy a nice glass of wine from time to time, but now I will have a deeper understanding as to what goes into each bottle of wine and how to tell if it is truly a good wine.
Monday it was our responsibility to take the tube or train out to Wimbledon, where we met as a group to tour Wimbledon stadium. I have heard of Wimbledon in the past, and even seen some tennis being played on TV, but I never realized the true size. Wimbledon is comprised of over 50 grass tennis courts, all of which are finely kept the entire year. Most courts will only be used two weeks out of the entire year, but there is much more to Wimbledon than the Championships. We learned the techniques used to acquire the money needed to upkeep the entire grounds, as well as pay the athletes. Wimbledon has such an amazing reputation that they have companies supply them with the goods they need, AND they pay Wimbledon for using their products. Talk about smart business!
As I write this blog, I’m sitting on a coach bus traveling through Ireland. When deciding to travel to London with SWSB, I never thought that I would visit Ireland. As part of the program we will have two major trips, one to Ireland and one to Rome. The program paid for our transportation, hotel room, and tours. We arrived in Ireland on Wednesday, then drove to Galway where we spent two nights. Galway was one of the cutest small towns that I have visited. Within a few miles you could walk to clothing stores, souvenir shops, and of course plenty of pubs. What made Galway so different than London was the close proximity to everything. In London if you want to hop from pub to pub you could be walking for miles. In Galway you could walk out of one pub, and walk right across the street into another. On Thursday we toured Inish Mor on bike, thanks to the generosity of the school. The tour was completely self guided, but the pictures do no justice for the beautiful sights on the island.
To end our trip to Ireland we headed down to Killarney. On the way we stopped at the famous Cliffs of Moher. The visit was almost too short; we were having such a great time taking pictures while climbing up the 702 ft. cliffs. Some kids got so close to the edge I thought they were going to fall off. At the top of the cliffs it was so windy it felt like we were in the middle of a hurricane. The Cliffs of Moher are a must see when visiting Ireland. Saturday we wrapped up our journey by doing the Ring of Kerry, a scenic driving route through the county of Kerry. Along the route we stopped to take breathtaking photos and even saw a sheepdog demonstration. I never realized how much work goes into training the dogs, and how smart the dogs truly are. We are now headed back to London for a while. I am looking forward to Wednesday, the first day of my internship at EducAid.
My name is Megan Duck and I am a student at Susquehanna University.