Happy Holidays! Christmas in America and New Year’s Eve in London

Getting upgraded to first class with Delta on my 9-hour flight home to America basically set the standard for how the rest of my vacation would go…free drinks and a reclining seat all the way home, baby. It was a fantastic break, and SO nice to be home with family. Saw lots of friends, spent most of our time with family (aka drove back and forth a lot between Nebraska and Missouri), AND I shot some guns. Lucky for my boyfriend, a friend let me borrow her shotgun and I was surprised how much I enjoyed shooting that gun. It might just become a hobby. Hunting though…that’s another ball game. Good luck, Jarin šŸ˜‰

2014_12_20_6109Best Christmas present ever: a cookbook with handwritten copies of mom’s recipes.

DSC_0182Jarin’s family, wearing the hats from the Christmas crackers we brought home from London.

DSC_0183 (2)Bald eagle in front of the house….so cool. America.

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Shootin’ school. I was taking notes. (And pictures.)

We headed back to London before New Years because we wanted to celebrate in London, and I’m so glad we did. Unfortunately, this year was the first year that you had to buy a ticket to see the fireworks. We didn’t get tickets because we thought we could just meander down that way and surely find a decent spot to watch from. WRONG. They weren’t joking when they said they’d have all viewable places blocked off. And heavily secured. We were steered through the Embankment station up to the Strand on a very inflexible route…which made for a crowded walk.

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Once on the Strand the crowd dissipated a bit because, thankfully, they had the street blocked off from traffic. We walked down the Strand towards Somerset house and really lucked out, because the security working Waterloo bridge decided to gift everyone with a free entrance to the bridge.

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See the green security gates on either side? They were everywhere.

Made for a tight walk through security, but once we were on the bridge it was perfect. Room to take some beautiful shots of London at night:

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And had time to spare to get set up for the fireworks. As cheesy as it sounds, I used some of that time to reflect on how lucky I am to be pursuing my dreams in this marvelous, historic city. I’ve touched on my story previously, but it really has been an incredible ride getting everything in place for London to happen – and it wouldn’t have happened if this kid hadn’t brought up the idea. So I owe a lot of this journey to him, and am grateful that we get to experience it together. šŸ™‚

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I had time to get switched over from camera to video, and was able to record the first part of the show. With no further ado, for your viewing pleasure, here is our view of the 2015 New Year’s Eve celebration in London. (Listen for Big Ben…coolest thing ever!!)

(goshdang WordPress isn’t letting me embed the video. Boo. Check it out on YouTube!)

Home will always be the Midwest for us, but while we’re living in London we’re absolutely making the most of it.

Here’s to a fabulous 2015!!

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Takeaway Tidbit: Make 2015 your year šŸ™‚

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It’s “takeaway”, not “to-go”.

One of my thought processes when deciding to move to London:

They speak English in England. We speak English in the States. Therefore, I will be fine moving to London because there’s no language barrier. I know they say “loo” instead of “bathroom” and “chips” instead of “fries”; bring on the nuances. I enjoyed living in Mexico despite the language barrier. London will be a piece of cake.

Sidenote: clearly my audacity sometimes gets me into trouble, but sometimes it’s a really fun part of my personality (ie: the thought process that led me to quit my wonderful, rewarding, salaried teaching job and move across the ocean to an exciting, vibrant, expensive city to pursue my personal dreams and live on a college kid’s budget again). See what optimistic pictures I take when I’m feeling fearless?–

p1.1 So presh. So exciting! …and a little presumptuous, but who isn’t on Instagram?

Back to my language math at the beginning of my post. I don’t remember much from maths, but one formula that stuck with me was the one that says “if a=c, and b=c, then a=b”. So in my audacity (or imprudence, you decide), I figured that if England=English, and the States=English, then England=the States.

Obviously I know they’re not the same place. I just figured if I can thrive in the States and successfully handle studying abroad in Mexico then the transition to life in England would be effortless.

Effortless. Oh hey, imprudent Audrey. Let’s see how you get on.

I landed at Heathrow and had a very calm, reasonable experience getting from the plane to customs to baggage claim to exit. Each uneventful checkpoint left me feeling more and more confident about life in London.

  • “I was able to follow the huge yellow signs from the plane to customs…Feelin pretty good about myself.”
  • “Hey, the customs guy asked me a question and I answered it. I’m gonna be great in London!”
  • “Wow, I was able to get a cart AND grab all my luggage by myself…Look out London, here comes Audrey!”
  • “I followed the huge white pictures and found the large, highly visible bathrooms AND was able to get in and out with all my luggage? Elizabeth, honey, let me borrow that crown for a sec.”

By the time I got to the Costa (a coffeeshop chain here), I was confident I had London life figured out. So when the barista asked “here or takeaway”, I scoffed–“Sweetie, I don’t understand you. And I KNOW how to live in London”. What I really said was probably more along the lines of–“Uhh, what?”. She repeated the question, and as I frantically scrambled through all the London lingo I knew (which took all of .56 seconds) to attempt to translate “takeaway”, I mumbled something about a to-go cup. When she slid over my drink, it was in a porcelain mug.

Your Majesty, please take your crown back. I don’t want it anymore.

Blog1(Cute Turkish restaurant near my place)

#TakeawayTidbit for your day: If you want to leave the premises with your food or beverage purchases, it’sĀ  “takeaway” not “to-go”.