Study in the UK: What to bring and what not to bring

August 10th, 2006 · No Comments


Two carry-ons and two pieces of luggage to check in.

That’s it.

I’m not sure if it’s an American thing or what, but I remember how I and almost every other student going abroad to the Syracuse University London Program for the Fall 2003 semester packed our carry-ons and luggage to the brim with, well, unneeded crap.

Why is unneeded crap an issue?

Because you don’t think about how you are going to get all that unneeded crap home as well as all the other crap you are going to accumulate during your stay abroad. You’ll be buying new books for school and to read on the Tube, clothes, souvenirs, those cool British magazines, your London A to Z and oodles of things from all those London markets you’ll be shopping at every weekend.

And some of us have other buying habits. I, for instance, DJ and mix records at home and figured I’d find some friends in London to play with, so, I brought my record case as one of my carry-ons. I successfully found friends with turntables but never thought about the fact that I was going to end up buying handfuls of new records and have to figure out how I was going to fit them all in my record case to bring home. Oops.

Anyways, aside from the records, I had to leave so much stuff behind when I came back home. I left a good couple hundred dollars worth of old clothes that I still wanted, books, magazines, really nice computer speakers (that I bought since nobody had any and we needed to have music for a couple parties in our flat, of course), towels and God knows what else. I waited until the last minute to pack for my return home too, which didn’t help.

Okay, I know I need to have a point here.

Bring what you need and only what you need. Don’t bring your whole wardrobe—you’ll be buying cheap amazing British fashion in no time. Don’t bring “back-up supplies” like extra toiletries. I swear that somehow American students fear that they won’t be able to find a drugstore in London that sells soap or contact lens solution. You can double, or even triple this fear for parents. Don’t bring a hairdryer or iron or any other random appliances. Chances are your flat mates will either have them already or you can all pitch in to buy cheap ones.

You get the idea, right? Because moving back to the states sucks when you’re trying to decide what to bring back and what to leave behind. Oh, and don’t even think about shipping crap home. It’ll cost more that your stuff is worth to ship via FedEx, which will put your stuff on a plane. You can, however, literally ship stuff home on a ship via regular postal mail, but that takes months and you can’t even track your packages.

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Looking for love? Buy this chocolate bar…right.

August 8th, 2006 · No Comments


Not only does it better your love life but it helps you lose weight too. And yes, it’s called The Sexy Bar. Too bad it’s not Cadbury.

The Sexy Bar is packed with cocoa solids and ground chilli, according to The Sun.

Both ingredients are said to act as an aphrodisiac.

And the chilli also boosts the metabolism, which helps burn fat.

New Sexy Chocolate Bar [Sky News]

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Covent Garden sold for £421 million

August 7th, 2006 · No Comments

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The tourist center of the West End in Central London, Covent Garden, has been sold to Capital & Counties, a company that owns a lot of shopping centers, says the BBC.

If you’ve never been to Covent Garden, I highly suggest a weekend day trip. It’s a fanatical mess of tourists but still a lot of fun. There is, of course, the market as well as many restaurants, theaters and the London Transport Museum (which I have yet to see but it’s on my list of things to do…). Oh, and there are usually a bunch of street performers, which can be mildly entertaining too. If taking the tube, get off at any other station besides Covent Garden. It’s too crowded on the weekends. Get out your London A to Z and walk from the next stop.

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Travel Cheap: Find the absolute lowest price on plane tickets with FareCompare

July 12th, 2006 · No Comments


This was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article yesterday but I think it deserves mentioning. FareCompare, through years of data mining, has been able to figure out the cheapest tickets for flights on any airline and on the dates you put in.

I’m flying to London from New York in September. FareCompare was able to give me a ticket price of $318. That’s crazy. If I fly in October, it drops down to $278. I have a friend at Virgin Atlantic so I am able to get discounted tickets at times but FareCompare is close behind. This isn’t just another booking site. It’s ri-god-damn-diculous.

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Taste Buds: Thoughts on curry

July 11th, 2006 · No Comments


Ever try a curry? If not, you can guarantee that you will if you spend any amount of time in the UK. It’s a classic British staple food. Okay, well maybe not classic since they stole it from India, but it is definitely a regular part of the modern British diet. There are curry houses and Indian restaurants throughout the city and most fast food joints offer some sort of curry variation or flavored offering. Even potato chips, or crips as they are called, can be found in curry flavors.

So what is a curry? Typically, it is lamb, shrimp, chicken or vegetables in a sauce full of many, many different spices and usually coconut milk. It’s amazing. For an authentic curry, head down to Brick Lane in East London and randomly pop into any restaurant. You can usually barter on the streets with owners and get up to 50% off your meal and a free round of drinks. Not too shabby. I’d say if you don’t get at least a free round of drinks head on to the next place.

If you’re eating on the cheap you can stop at any supermarket and find a microwavable curry meal. Yum. Sainsbury’s has the best offerings.

J.D. Wetherspoon’s has “Curry Club” on Thursday’s for a cheap curry and beer. One of my favorites and I say again—CHEAP!

Don’t forget, curries come in various spiced forms. Korma is the mildest and vindaloo is the spiciest. I prefer a hot vindaloo, although it depends on how authentically hot it will be. I had a vindaloo in a Brick Lane curry house once and almost couldn’t finish it—but i did! I sweat buckets that night.

Check out Wikipedia for a complete explanation of curry in British cuisine. Very informative.

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MUB News 7/10/06

July 10th, 2006 · No Comments

• Westminster bats to be studied [BBC News]
Bats living among the rafters, towers and gargoyles of Westminster Palace are to be studied.

• Get tough on crime, not on hoodies [Sky News]
Tory leader David Cameron is adopting a hoodie-friendly tone and calling for greater understanding of teenagers who wear the clothing. But as the day goes on, his tone is expected to toughen and he will call on police to prove they are crime fighters and not just form fillers.

• For sale: Guitar played at the birth of The Beatles []
The first guitar that Sir Paul McCartney held and played is expected to fetch more than £100,000 when it is auctioned at Abbey Road Studios this month.

• Blunt wants ‘rural dream’ [News24]
James Blunt, the former British army captain who scored a global hit with his ballad You’re Beautiful, wants to leave fame behind and live with donkeys and chickens on a farm in northern Spain, the tabloid Sun newspaper reported on Monday.

• UK to act over Enron trio treaty [BBC News]
The UK government will send a minister to the US to plead with the government to ratify an extradition treaty, amid a row over three former NatWest bankers.

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Even Mr. Blair is podcasting

July 6th, 2006 · No Comments


Out of all the people to be left out of the podcasting world, Tony Blair simply refuses to be one of them.

What’s next? Queencasts?

Tony Blair Podcasts [One Man & His Blog]

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MUB News 7/6/06

July 6th, 2006 · No Comments

• Al Qaeda London bombing video aired [Sky News]
A video of one of the London bombers speaking before the attack has been posted on the internet.

• Holiday plane hit by lightning [BBC News]
A plane bound for Lanzarote is hit by lightning after it left Birmingham Airport and had to divert to Manchester.

• Sky lets you record TV shows via SMS with Remote Record [Pocket-lint]
It’s been rumoured for years, but today Sky has announced that Sky+ customers will now be able to text their Sky+ box to record stuff from anywhere with a mobile phone reception.

• A Year On: Let the Olympic party start [Sky News]
London is marking a year since it won the right to host the 2012 Olympics with a celebration in Trafalgar Square.A national roadshow urging people to ‘Be Part of 2012’ has been launched.

• Bomber’s father tells of anguish [BBC News]
The father of Hasib Hussain says he does not believe his son took part in the 7 July bombings.

• No change to Sunday trading hours [This is London]
Sunday trading laws will not change following a wide-ranging review, the Government has said.

• One year later, the gap is greater [Alt.Muslim]
Twelve months after the London bombings, the British government and Muslim leaders have made little progress in combatting terrorism and extremism. Both sides share the blame.

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Spend a semester at London Metropolitan University

July 5th, 2006 · No Comments


Global Learning Semesters has a great program to study abroad for a semester and receive 12 credits towards your degree back in the states. The cost is $13,250. Includes tuition, fees, housing, admission fees for group trips, airport pickup, a mobile phone and medical insurance. Not too shabby. Yes, you read that right: a free mobile phone. They won’t pay for your calls though.

Our Semester in London program is geared toward the student that wants complete flexibility in designing a course (module) curriculum and a significant amount of independence to explore London and the surrounding areas. You will simply not have enough hours in the day to manage everything that London can offer outside the classroom: world-class museum, art, cinema, theater and architecture, energetic politics and culture and fantastic restaurants and nightlife.

Global Learning Semesters abroad in London

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A random first day in London

July 4th, 2006 · No Comments

This is too funny. I happened to stumble upon a blog by this girl Lauren, from Arizona, who just arrived in London. The excitement is all too familiar.

Earls Court is fabulous. I walked around for three or four hours and observed several things.

– Everyone drives a Vespa, Neddin, or some other motorcycle contraption.

– Everyone crosses the street when the Wait (UK version of Dont Walk) light is lit up.

– Every street appears to be a one-way street..

– London accents are sexier in bulk. AKA- I like walking into a grocery store and hearing EVERYONE speak in an English accent rather than hearing it occasionally from an Arizona resident who grew up in the UK.

– Vocabulary used here is different. Every man refers to me as Love. Exit is Way out, and Yield is Give Way. Its not weird at all, just different.

Maybe we’ll just have to keep track of her from time to time…

The first entry of my Study Abroad Journal

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