Friday, 29 November 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving

Celebrating this all American holiday can leave international students at odds. While everyone around us is returning home to be with their families, our options are limited while all we really want to do is head home.

I found myself staying in the campus dorms as one by one people left for home or to travel for the break. My thanksgiving was spent with two lovely gentleman in my building and a home-cooked (albeit microwaved) meal. 

The peace and quite with rare time to myself left me considering my thanks. I am extremely thankful for my family, especially the four gorgeous children who are waiting for me at home. I regularly exchange postcards with my niece, nephew and cousins so that I can hold on to a little piece of them while I'm away. Nothing brightens my week as much as those few words and drawings from those I love most in the world. 

When things get rough and homesickness is creeping in, I am fortunate enough to have incredible friends who have supported me through so much. Whether they are here beside me in California or standing by me back home, I don't know what I would do without them. There's no need to name names, you know who you are. I can never thank you enough. 

Finally, its impossible to consider what I'm thankful for without recognising where I am, and the opportunity I'm experiencing. After years of dreaming, hard work and determination, I landed in Long Beach for the year of my life. I try to take the time to take in everything around me and the things I'm lucky enough to be a part of. 

Time has flown by. I can't quite believe how soon it is until I'm flying home to spend Christmas with my family. I've had so many great experiences so far in America, and there are even more to come in the new year. It's still hard to believe I'm really here. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

What Happens In Vegas

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, at least before the internet.
Turning twenty one in California could mean only one thing...

Las Vegas has been on my list of places to visit for as long as I can remember and I always hoped my twenty first would be spent under the lights of Sin City. It just goes to show that studying abroad really can make your dreams come true. Grabbing some friends and taking to the road, I couldn't imagine a better way to be spending my birthday. 

Unfortunately. the weather was not on our side and the journey took a lot longer than expected as the downpour brought traffic to a halt. But once we arrived all was forgotten as the drinks were flowing and we started taking in the sights.

It's safe to say I feel like we saw everything, journeying to the strip we visited the MGM Grand, New York New York, the Bellagio, Caesar's Palace, the Venetian, the Rio and so many more. We covered tourist spots and casinos, a burlesque show and many bars along the way.  
Being something I had dreamed of for so long this was an amazing experience for me. It was non-stop, soaking in the atmosphere and buzz that surrounded us and celebrating in style before heading home on a drive through the desert and into the sunset.

There were many people from my family and friends who I missed greatly this weekend, but I'm very thankful to those who made it there with me and gave me an incredible weekend to remember. (P.s. thanks for the pictures Vicky & Rachel!)

In two nights I feel like we got a true taste of what Vegas has to offer and I definitely plan to return in the future for an even bigger and better weekend!

Monday, 18 November 2013

November Update

@ Cold War Kids
Things have been enjoyably hectic recently so I thought an update was due for all the people who have hardly heard from me! My last post was for Halloween, and now it's almost Thanksgiving - the weeks are flying by.  

In the last 10 days I've been to an impressive four shows. Starting with Cold War Kids at The Observatory followed by Senses Fail at the Troubadour, which threw me firmly back onto the hardcore scene. I've been to the House of Blues in Anaheim and to see August Burns Red and Blessthefall at Club Nokia in LA. 

Check out my write-ups of Senses Fail and Speaking The King's

Incredibly intense shows filled with all the stage diving, crowd surfing and mosh pit antics that my fellow music fans have come to expect of me. In spite of the bruises and bleeding (don't ask!) I've seen some outstanding bands at legendary venues, even ending up backstage!

Blessthefall & August Burns Red

This may seem extreme, but if you're going to do something, do it right. If I'm learning anything this year it's to make the most of every opportunity! 

Today I have just started celebrating my 21st birthday, which has been a long time coming. It may have been a few hours early, but as it hit midnight in England it was time to open the cards and packages from my family back home.

All of the cards, gifts, drawings, banners and excessive sprinkles were a lovely reminder of the amazing people waiting for me at home. I can't pretend things don't get rough here, there's days where all I want is to curl up on the sofa (not the couch) and share a packet of real English biscuits with my mum. But these little reminders of home just keep me smiling and I can't wait to see everyone at Christmas! 

Tomorrow will be my official birthday in America and I'm heading back to LA to see Tonight Alive and Echosmith on The Other Side Tour. The prospect of buying a drink from a bar (legally) seems like a long lost novelty from the past! 

Next up: Las Vegas. Wish me luck on the strip...

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Happy Halloween

Halloween in America is like stepping into another world, with everything you can imagine adorned in decorations. Halloween mega stores pop up overnight as if from nowhere offering an array of frightful things.

Our dorm common room is twinkling with lights; pumpkins, ghosts and candy corn drawings decorate the walls. From pumpkin patches to parties, Halloween has taken over.

I’ve never seen so much thought and creativity going into costumes; if England wanted to compete we would really have to step it up a notch! Many people have been working on their costumes for months or building them up over the years. It’s impressive to say the least.

My first Halloween experience here was a CSULB UMS show at The Nugget. Getting into the spirit of things some dorm friends and I threw on the costumes. You may have seen Wonder Woman, Poison Ivy, The Joker and Edward Scissorhands riding the Campus bus that night!

At my first frat part I saw an array of costumes, from the expected lingerie and animal ears of the Mean Girls era to full blown Halloween transformations. As Halloween approached the CSULB Campus came alive, with Halloween carnivals, trick-or-treats, and haunted houses. With face painting and trips to Newport, needless to say it was a non-stop week of celebrations. 

The height of my Halloween experience ended with a Horror Night at Universal Studios in Hollywood. In spite of the painfully long queues for the Evil Dead and El Cucuy mazes, this was a night to remember. From riding the Terror Tram to the Universal Backlot invaded by The Walking Dead, to exploring the scare zones haunted by The Curse of Chucky, horrifyingly creepy Cirque du Klownz and the chainsaw wielding antics of The Purge.

Throughout my transformations into Poison Ivy, a sugar skull, and mocking spectator of those who run screaming in fear, I’ve had a real insight into American holidays. Next up – Thanksgiving!