Mind the Gap

Vera Iwankiw
September 10, 2013

After flying for 8 hours, I was starting to freak out about getting to my living accommodations.  I’m used to public transportation, but the problem was that I was lugging around like 100 pounds in two suitcases and a backpack. I was lucky enough to meet some other IES students in the International Students line in immigration so we all made our way over to Nido King’s Cross together. Taking the tube was certainly an experience. We didn’t realize that there was a lift (elevator) down to the tube, so we just took the escalator. Bad choice. One of our suitcases didn’t make it over the hump from the escalator to the ground and that was it. Total chaos:  the girl went down and was laying at the bottom of the escalator, the suitcases went everywhere, people behind her were trying to walk up the escalator to avoid hitting her. Two British guys swooped in to help before things got really bad though. We made it onto the train laughing hysterically and then the hardest part was trying to stay awake for the hour train ride into the city.

Since then, it has been a whirlwind of orientation and just information overload. Trying to navigate your way in a new city (which was not designed in any logical manner- I’m from Chicago where the city is a grid and this city just irritates me), trying to get everything that you might need, figuring out where you would like to travel, trying not to go broke, and trying to make brand new friends can be slightly overwhelming. Also, I underestimated how much I would be walking here. I’m pretty sure I will have callouses for the rest of my life from this trip! But orientation has been balanced nicely with fun excursions. Today we went to Harrods and then on a bus tour of London. We saw most of the major sights- the Tower of London, Westminster, Parliament, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral. We then had the opportunity to visit the Globe Theater and see a Mid-Summer Nights Dream. It was an awesome performance; the only slight downside was that we had to stand for the 3 hour production, because it runs as it would have in Shakespeare’s time.

four men in tall black heat playing the trombone on stage

Then Sunday we went to Hampton Court Palace, which is where Henry VIII and William and Mary lived! We saw the Great Hall, the maze and the gardens, the bedrooms, and the kitchens. My heart broke when I found out that Henry’s crown is not on display for most of Sunday, because of church services. I guess I will just have to go back to see it! Tomorrow I start classes and will explain more about that in the next blog post!

students walking into brick building with turrets in England

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Vera Iwankiw

<p><span style="color: rgb(29, 29, 29); font-family: Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: normal; background-color: rgb(237, 237, 237);">I was born and raised in Chicago, where I grew up learning about my Ukrainian culture and language. I currently attend the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and am studying Human Development with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development. I play on the university&rsquo;s club water polo team and synchronized swimming team and am active in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars. I have traveled internationally to Ukraine, Canada, and Mexico for vacation and Cape Town, South Africa for a service learning trip. In the future, I hope to continue my studies in law school, with the hope of one day practicing as a family law or child advocate lawyer.</span></p>

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University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
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