I Studied Abroad In London, And The Lessons I Learned Were From The Heart

I Studied Abroad In London, And The Lessons I Learned Were From The Heart

It's a city that I will definitely return to as it's a new home to me because home is where the heart is and London for sure has a portion of it.

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Traveling to a new country can be an exciting yet scary experience. I just went abroad for the first time to London to study dance which isn't what some hardcore travelers consider "abroad" but to me, it was a new adventure.

Before I left, I had made your standard All-American-Girl-Goes-To-London Bucket List:

1) Buckingham

2) Fish and Chips

3) Tower of London/London Bridge

4) Drink in pubs

5) Find my prince

Spoiler Alert: everything was checked off from that list.

It didn't really hit me that I was in another country that first week... it felt as if I was in another big city like New York City or Washington D.C. The tube didn't really phase me due to my experience with the subway and the Metro. The only really ~foreign~ things about being in London were the time difference, the crazy traffic patterns, and the cars being on the wrong side (and they ARE on the wrong side... no offense, England).

The second week, it felt a little bit more real as I was able to go do more touristy things besides just taking my classes. I was becoming more comfortable around the different areas and adapting to the social norms. It helped that England was doing well in the World Cup so everyone was out at pubs and watching the games.

Fast forward to the third week. By this time, I felt too at home. The tube? Navigated. Pubs? We were regulars at the one near the dorm we were staying at. Night Life? Never have I seen a group of girls dominate a club like we did at Roxy. Iced Coffee? Still not a thing in England (seriously guys... you simply put ice in your coffee. There's no catch. It's not rocket science.) Bucket List? Four out of five items were checked off by the start of the third week. I had lost weight and honestly, I think I peaked a little. Basically, I was finessing this city.

This trip taught me a lot about myself and what I wanted to do thanks to the "study" part of being abroad. It also made me realize what a true friend is and that professors are humans too (shocking, I know). It showed me that I am more than capable of being in a different country and getting around all by myself.

But while London gave me so much, it came with a price. "She giveth and she taketh" or something like that. As cheesy as it sounds, London took a piece of my heart and it wasn't until the end of the last week that I realized it was happening. I'll be honest, at first, I knew that while London was a great city, America has my whole heart and though the memories would be great, I wouldn't be crying at the end of the trip.

Boy, was I wrong.

I didn't realize how much this city captured my time and heart and let's just say I was a snotty mess on the plane home (my apologies to my fellow passengers). I will forever cherish the people I met, the places I've been and things that I learned in London. It's a city that I will definitely return to as it's a new home to me because home is where the heart is and London for sure has a portion of it.

Cover Image Credit:

Madelene Whitfield

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I Visited The "Shameless" Houses And Here's Why You Shouldn't

Glamorizing a less-than-ideal way to live.
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After five hours of driving, hearing the GPS say "Turn right onto South Homan Avenue" was a blessing. My eyes peeled to the side of the road, viciously looking for what I have been driving so long for, when finally, I see it: the house from Shameless.

Shameless is a hit TV show produced by Showtime. It takes place in modern-day Southside, Chicago. The plot, while straying at times, largely revolves around the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. While a majority of the show is filmed offsite in a studio in Los Angeles, many outside scenes are filmed in Southside and the houses of the Gallagher's and side-characters are very much based on real houses.

We walked down the street, stopped in front of the two houses, took pictures and admired seeing the house in real life. It was a surreal experience and I felt out-of-place like I didn't belong there. As we prepared to leave (and see other spots from the show), a man came strolling down on his bicycle and asked how we were doing.

"Great! How are you?"

It fell silent as the man stopped in front of the Gallagher house, opened the gate, parked his bike and entered his home. We left a donation on his front porch, got back to the car and took off.

As we took the drive to downtown Chicago, something didn't sit right with me. While it was exciting to have this experience, I began to feel a sense of guilt or wrongdoing. After discussing it with my friends, I came to a sudden realization: No one should visit the "Gallagher" house.

The plot largely revolves the Gallagher family and their continual struggle with (extreme) poverty. It represents what Southside is like for so many residents. While TV shows always dramatize reality, I realized coming to this house was an exploitation of their conditions. It's entertaining to see Frank's shenanigans on TV, the emotional roller coasters characters endure and the outlandish things they have to do to survive. I didn't come here to help better their conditions, immerse myself in what their reality is or even for the donation I left: I came here for my entertainment.

Southside, Chicago is notoriously dangerous. The thefts, murders and other crimes committed on the show are not a far-fetched fantasy for many of the residents, it's a brutal reality. It's a scary way to live. Besides the Milkovich home, all the houses typically seen by tourists are occupied by homeowners. It's not a corporation or a small museum -- it's their actual property. I don't know how many visitors these homes get per day, week, month or year. Still, these homeowners have to see frequent visitors at any hour of the day, interfering with their lives. In my view, coming to their homes and taking pictures of them is a silent way of glamorizing the cycle of poverty. It's a silent way of saying we find joy in their almost unlivable conditions.

The conceit of the show is not the issue. TV shows have a way of romanticizing very negative things all the time. The issue at hand is that several visitors are privileged enough to live in a higher quality of life.

I myself experienced the desire and excitement to see the houses. I came for the experience but left with a lesson. I understand that tourism will continue to the homes of these individuals and I am aware that my grievances may not be shared with everyone -- however, I think it's important to take a step back and think about if this were your life. Would you want hundreds, potentially thousands, of people coming to your house? Would you want people to find entertainment in your lifestyle, good and bad?

I understand the experience, excitement, and fun the trip can be. While I recommend skipping the houses altogether and just head downtown, it's most important to remember to be respectful to those very individuals whose lives have been affected so deeply by Shameless.

Cover Image Credit: itsfilmedthere.com

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4 Breakfast Spots Near The University of Kentucky That Will Actually Get You Out Of Bed In The Morning

These places will satisfy all of your breakfast cravings.

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If you're a breakfast foodie like I am, you know that is an absolute priority to find the most popular breakfast spots despite the city you may be in. You don't want to visit the touristy and basic restaurants that everyone else goes to, but instead, you are determined to uncover the locations that are the best of the best. Most foodies will go to great lengths to discover these places. As a University of Kentucky student and major foodie, I have searched all over Lexington to find my favorite places to visit on Saturday and Sunday mornings. This took my entire first semester and many trips to the ATM, but today, I am now blessed to say that I am a regular at all 4 of these incredible breakfast spots.

1. The Great Bagel

The Great Bagel is one of my all-time favorite restaurants to visit on Sunday mornings. The restaurant offers a variety of bagel sandwiches and freshly squeezed orange juice, and it makes for the perfect early morning start to a day filled with homework or relaxation.

2. Chocolate Holler

Though not a true restaurant, Chocolate Holler is one of the most popular coffee shops near the University of Kentucky. Because it is only a 3-minute drive from campus, Chocolate Holler is always buzzing with UK students who come to socialize or study. The coffee shop is most well known for its chocolaty drinks and the music is great there, too!

3. Stir Krazy

Stir Krazy is a local smoothie bar down the street that serves protein shakes, smoothies, and tea. Though It only consists of these three beverages, the shakes at Stir Krazy are enough to fill you up for breakfast or lunch. Each shake or smoothies range from 200 to 250 calories and serves as the perfect energizer before a workout or a filling recovery drink after a workout.

4. La Madeleine

La Madeleine is a French breakfast and lunch cafe conveniently located on campus (and only a 30-second walk from my dorm). Their breakfast is served all day long and their croissants are to die for. I highly recommend building your own omelet for the most fulfilling experience. Not to mention, their iced caramel macchiatos are a great refresher on the side.

No matter which city, state, or country I am currently in, I make it my mission to eat as a local would. In Lexington, Kentucky, these four breakfast spots are guaranteed provide you with a plethora of different types of food to get you through even the worst cases of morning hunger. Though these places are my current favorites, I am now looking forward to containing the search for more breakfast restaurants, cafes, and juice bars throughout my next four years in this city.

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