Tuesday, February 26, 2013
A restaurant recommendation from your Programme Coordinator
Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. I think it’s the satisfaction in not having eaten for at least eight hours and the subsequent hunger that make whatever I eat to ‘break the fast’ even more enjoyable. I don’t think I could even tell you what my breakfast preference is as it depends on how I am feeling that morning and what day of the week it is. I love a good bowl of cereal during the week – more cereal than milk to avoid sogginess – but at the weekend when I have more time on my hands a croissant (ooh la la) or if I’m feeling ravenous, the famous English Breakfast is just what I need on a lazy Sunday morning. The bitter weather that we are experiencing right now has even introduced me to porridge, which warms my belly and keeps hunger at bay up until the next meal time comes around. Of course this all has to be washed down with a cup of tea.
So when I discovered The Breakfast Club (Soho, Spitalfields, Hoxton and Angel), a café that serves breakfast ALL DAY I knew I had to go. Take a look at the menu online and you’ll see what I mean and if you’re still not sure whether you should give it a try just read a few reviews and I promise you will be running to join the queue of people waiting to enter the small yellow café. Feeling hungry? Tuck into a full English or try the pancakes as I’ve heard the portion sizes are huge. Adventurous? How about some Huevos Rancheros or the Chorizo Hash Brown combo? Vegetarian? Not a problem as there are veggie options. Health freak? Why are you reading this? Well…there are real fruit smoothies to cleanse your system (and soul) plus fruit salad and muesli options too. The food choices seem endless and overeating is inevitable.
It was 3 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon and I had led some of my ‘Northern friends’ on a Politics and Royalties tour around London. We were frozen – I couldn’t feel my fingers…or legs… – and our energy levels were wearing thin. I had sent one of the girls the menu of this place a few days previously and we had agreed that it was a necessary stop on our tourist adventure. We jumped on the tube toward Tottenham Court Road and thanks to Google maps (gotta love smart phones) we found ourselves about five groups back in the queue for The Breakfast Club. I had read the reviews and was forewarned about the wait but little did we know that we would be stood for an hour and a half (!!!) to be seated. It was worth it. About an hour went by until we were in front of the yellow entrance door and by this point it was too late to admit defeat. In the words of one of my friends; “we needed to beat the establishment”.
I am ashamed to admit that we spent more time queuing than we did inside. Some brief persuasion from my friends assured me that ordering the All American (eggs, sausage, potatoes, bacon, pancakes and bottomless maple syrup) was “acceptable”. The waiter advised us all that we should eat the savoury foods first, all except the bacon and then cover our pancakes with maple syrup. It was heavenly. It may have been freezing outside but inside I was toasty. My belly was smiling. Naturally I accompanied my breakfast with a cup of tea. I think we all felt quite guilty at the feast we had just devoured and so each of us ordered a fruit smoothie to make us feel better. I had an apple, orange, carrot and ginger drink, which I am hoping counteracted the ‘heart attack’ I’d eaten. You could taste the goodness. I believe we walked out of The Breakfast Club glowing…or waddling…
I feel like I have just re-lived the experience. I write this blog post not only for my own self-indulgence but to recommend the all-day Breakfast Club to each and every one of you ICLC students. If you can endure a wait – start queuing before hunger strikes – once you are inside I promise the café will redeem itself. The waiters are attentive and friendly, the décor is uber-cool (too cool for Jess) and the food, as I think I have expressed quite clearly is literally to die for. So next time you are wondering where to go after staying up all night finishing a last minute essay or happen to be frequenting the ‘posh’ Primark at Tottenham Court Road I encourage you to try out The Breakfast Club. Just don’t go too often or you may find your pants feeling a little tighter and your cholesterol levels soaring.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013
You say "chips", we say "crisps" but are there other differences that distinguish this popular snack found in both English-speaking countries? Monica Lum investigates...
BBQ, Salt and Vinegar, French Onion, Cheddar, Cool Ranch, and the Classic Potato are standard flavors for American potato chips. Those versatile flavors are always delicious and enjoyable to munch on but why stop chip flavors there? The United Kingdom has clearly thought about that and offers a wide variety of tasty and quite fun ‘flavour crisps’. Brits would most likely find American ‘Harvest Cheddar’ flavored chips to be cute—their ‘Smoked Monterrey Chilli with Goats Cheese’ crisps may have the power to outdo and impress consumers a bit more. A person who has only been exposed to American ‘Salt and Vinegar’ flavored chips would easily assume a typical hint of salt and vinegar taste when opening a bag of ‘Carmelised Onion & Balsamic Vinegar’ flavoured crisps. Wrong. The $3.32 (£2.19) you dish out is well worth the money because the title, ‘Carmelised Onion & Balsamic Vinegar’ is no lie. You just paid for freshly caramelised, sizzling hot onions straight from the frying pan mixed with tangy balsamic vinegar to quickly envelop your taste buds within the first crunch.
Perhaps the UK thought it’d be helpful to encourage people who have budgets (study abroad students) to skip expensive meals and alternatively purchase a hearty snack by selling hearty flavoured crisps like, ‘Roasted Chicken and Thyme’. Mom just took out the marinated chicken that’s been roasting in the oven for two hours—oh wait no, that was just a bag of ‘Roasted Chicken and Thyme’ crisps being opened. Smells just like the real thing and tastes just like it too. It is safe to say a bag of ‘Roasted Chicken and Thyme’ is dinner in a bag. Well, not really a chicken person? No problem. Maybe some, ‘Flame Grilled Steak’, ‘Smoky Bacon’ or ‘Chilli Beef’ flavoured crisps will suit your preference more. The crisp options are endless, ‘Spanish Chicken Paella’, ‘Italian Spaghetti Bolognese’, ‘Japanese Teriyaki’, ‘Oriental Red Curry’… and the more commonly flavoured crisps that are typically featured in aisles of British grocery stores: ‘Prawn Cocktail’, ‘Thai Sweet Chilli’, ‘Southern Style Barbeque’, ‘BBQ Beef’, ‘Mexican Fiery Sweet Chipotle’, ‘Chargrilled Chicken’, ‘Chicken Winger’, ‘Mature Cheddar and Onion’, ‘Vintage Cheddar & Onion Chutney’— we get it, Brits don’t like leaving any crisp flavour to the imagination. It’s quite evident that the UK got bored with producing typical crisps and felt the need to be more creative with their flavours. It would take a lifetime to try every single one but I do believe that it’s time for Britain to no longer be notorious for selling inedible, gross, and tasteless food. Food snobs who stand behind this stereotype will quickly change their minds the second they indulge in one of the many flavoured crisps offered in the UK.
Thursday, February 21, 2013
Kristen Mansfield, a Journalism major has written a post for us about how she felt on arriving to the ICLC in London. From moving in with strangers to exploring the city, Kristen assures us that being an international student is an experience worth embracing...
It’s a magical place, ya know-- for all the reasons you think, and a lot more I bet you haven’t even thought of yet.
I've had an amazing semester here so far. It’s been about a month and a week and I could not be happier with ICLC and my life here! When we first got to London, it was like a mad dash for necessities to help us get settled- cheap European phone, underground pass, a place to live! And that brought on its own set of things we needed to buy- kitchenware, groceries, towels, soaps, blankets... so many things to think about! And the exchange rate wasn't very pleasant when we were buying things to move in. “I’m sorry money-guy, did you just say my $60 would only give me £30?” Cue the quiet sobs.
But after a month, my flatmates (whom I didn't even know prior to coming here!) and I feel truly settled and basically alleviated of any survival concerns. Oh you need a packet of sugar? We got you. Point you to the nearest ATM? It’s just around the corner. Aw you forgot how to get home on the bus? Let me tell you the way... (And yes having sugar is a survival concern and should be taken very seriously)
My internship keeps me busy pretty much all of Monday and Tuesday, while school takes up Wednesday and part of Thursday. The cool thing about school here is that we get to go on field trips all the time! I always wish we went on more trips outside the classroom in Ithaca but there are just so many obstacles with that it would be impossible to do. Here, our classes are designed around all of our senses- to fully emerge ourselves in the culture and feel like we’re getting the most out of our experience here. On the first day, our Art in London teacher, Lisa, said, “You can look at boring projector slides at home. Here, I have the opportunity to let the course basically teach itself. Here, when we visit the art, you get to feel it. You get to become a part of it.”
Before coming to London, I was questioning if there would be a big enough cultural difference for me to really feel like I’m in a different country. Let me say this- not only are there tons of differences between life here and life at home, but even if our cultures were the same, it’s still such a shock living in the city as opposed to little ol' Honeoye Falls, New York! I love going to NYC and traveling as much as I can, but nothing can really prepare you for living in a city like London. My favorite part about it? There is ALWAYS something to do. I've never once asked myself what I wanted to do in a day and not been able to do it (unless it was wildly expensive...), and I think that’s the very best part about being abroad, particularly in a city like this.
I’ll try to write more blog posts for ICLC soon! Hmmm, is it possible to capture the essence of British-English in blog form? ….Probably not. But that won’t stop me from trying!
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Meg sheds some light (pun intended) on our visiting sabbatical's course: London's Light...
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
The Beatles sing some of my favorite songs in the entire world. Hey Jude, Here Comes the Sun, Let It Be, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Yesterday, Come Together, seriously the list goes on and on.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
I introduce a post by Mia O'Brien, a journalism major who has utilised one of her weekends to venture over to the continent...
(First off, disclaimer: I am attempting to do this post from my mobile app to preserve that still teetering-on-the-brink-of-life laptop. Let’s see how this goes).
After a fun week filled with Mardi Gras/Pancake Day celebrations, discovering burritos in London, and, of course, a beeping laptop, it was time to begin what I’m thinking might be the best part of my trip to London: the traveling part. First up was the city of love itself, Paris.
I rushed home from work Thursday night (attempted to do a blog post but, of course, computer started beeping), only to remember that my night bus wasn’t leaving until 11… Classic. But when I finally did board said bus, the journey began—and not in the way any of us expected. As opposed to driving through the Chunnel, we had to take a ferry to France because of Chunnel construction… And by ferry I mean cruise ship. The “Spirit of Britain” had a food court, mall, and three bars just to cover the main attractions, and we got to sit on the rooftop deck and watch the lights on the beaches of Normandy slowly come into view (albeit at 3 am). It would take another 3.5 hours to get to Paris now, and, fortunately I slept through it.
And as soon as we got to Paris it was time for the whirlwind adventure to begin. After some skilful navigating on the Metro (props to Taylor on that one, as my memory of the Metro didn’t really come back to me until later—and if you ask Em, even that is questionable!), we got to our really cute hotel, just a 10 minute walk from the Louvre. We grabbed a nice, French breakfast and then headed out to see the sights. When I say we probably walked 4 miles that one day I’m not kidding: we walked to the Louvre, followed by Musee d’Orsay, then Champs-Elysse, then Arc de Triumphe, then Trocaderk Square overlooking the Eiffel Tower… Then we finally took a subway. Hey, it was a beautiful day out so why not take advantage? I will say this: I definitely feel like I appreciated Paris more so this time around. Perhaps because we were on our own, perhaps because I am just older now, but I really felt the full awe of the sights this time around. Sounds cheesy, but hey, like I said, city of love, right?
After a quick nap and shower at the hotel, we ended our day with a nice French dinner (sadly, there was not a single vegetarian option on the menu, the fish was wrapped in bacon… So forgive me God but I caved in and had meat on a Friday in Lent). Delicious beef rotisserie though—and they didn’t even charge Em and I for our chocolate mousse cake! We then went to the tallest hotel in Paris to go to its skyline bar to see the Eiffel Tower light up at midnight. Although I missed being underneath the Eiffel Tower lit up, my fav part of my trip last time, it was an awesome view.
The next morning (amidst intentions to wake up early and go to Notre Dame for mass—a decision I may or may not regret now…) we slept until 8 and then headed to Versailles. After having to take like 4 different trains because the main one wasn’t working, we finally arrived at THE REAL Golden Arches. Just like the main sights, I felt like I really appreciated seeing everything here the second time around—although this may have been due to the fact it ACTUALLY wasn’t raining. I will definitely be back at some point when the flowers are in bloom, though!
We then headed all the way back to the bus depot for our late night bus home. And of course, as no trip with Mobrien can be ordinary (or go without bodily harm), we stopped at a rest stop, raced off the bus, and, of course, in my mad dash for food I wiped out and sprained my ankle. Typical. Fortunately, this was just before the Chunnel so we were really only an hour and forty-five minutes from London so I was soon lying on my bed, on a Saturday night, icing my ankle after spending a day in Paris. Only me, people.
Thanks to the ankle (and the need to sleep), we decided to wait to head to Windsor Castle until next week, instead opting for a day of errands and laundry followed by an outing to high tea at Harrods! The sunsets here have been spectacular lately (shocking I know) and we sat at the Terrace Room. Oh and of course there were scones involved. When is there not?
Looking ahead to this week, the traveling continues with Stratford-on-Avon, Oxford and Warwick Castle this weekend, plus the Chelsea-Sparta Prague game on Thursday! Hopefully, this post goes through… And this way I’ll be able to blog wherever, whenever, from now on!
Friday, February 8, 2013
I think it's safe to say that I have managed to break my new year's resolutions already. My biscuit addiction is still going strong, I'm still drinking a lot (A LOT) of tea and I have not completed - nor started - one blog post. MASSIVE FAIL.
I have decided that this semester instead of boring you all with the ins and outs of my life I would take a step back and allow the Ithaca students here in London to tell you about their journey here. From orientation through to departure I am hoping you will get an insight into life as an international student in London and those of you who have left us behind can reminisce on the past and potential future students can be assured that life over the other side of that huge pond is not quite so scary after all...
On that note I would like to introduce our first blogger of Spring 2013: Marissa Andrews, a junior Drama major. Marissa has chosen to enlighten you all on the cultural differences between London and the USA as although we may think we speak the same language there are many times when we find ourselves lost in translation.
Travelling to London for the semester was my first time outside of the United States, so needless to say I was a bit scared. I’ve never encountered a different culture before and was worried about the change. I can now say with confidence that London is not scary at all! But there definitely are some cultural differences. I’ve made a list of a few that I noticed. If you’re thinking about travelling to London for a semester, don’t stress about memorizing every one of these before your plane touches down in the city. The ICLC staff will teach you everything you need to know about the country. However, it may be nice to know some of these ahead of time. This is in no way a comprehensive list, just things that I’ve noticed!
1. We all know that they drive on the opposite side of the road. However, I personally forgot this means that we also have to look the opposite way before crossing the street. Look to your right first!!!! Luckily, many of the central areas of the city actually have LOOK RIGHT and LOOK LEFT painted right on the pavement. Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way. Let the cars go first!
2. You have to swipe OUT of the tube (subway system) as well as swiping in, so don’t put away your Oyster card (subway card) too fast! Also, instead of literally swiping a card, all you have to do is put your oyster card up to the card reader (Like the dorm buildings at IC).
3. The tube closes around midnight, so buses may be your only option if you’re out late. Luckily, there are a lot of buses that run all night and they’re pretty easy to figure out. If you’re in a bind, there’s also always a taxi service that can get you home.
4. There are no 1 pound (dollar) bills. They’re only made in coins. They also have a 2 pound coin. It’s much easier and more efficient.
5. There are also 2pence (cents) pieces. They are not efficient. I still don’t understand why they exist.
6. Fashion is very different. You won’t see anyone around in sweatpants or sweatshirts, and jeans are a lot less common. Everyone is much more put together in general. Muted tones are also much more common than bright colors.
7. Pants means underwear, and trousers mean pants. Don’t say pants.
8. “Wellies” are rain boots.
9. It is totally okay to sit in a café for an hour with a friend, even if you’ve finished your drinks.
10. Most cafés and some fast food places (such as Pret a Manger) will charge more for food to eat in than to take-away (their word for take-out). So, if you’re looking to save money it may be best to bring your food back home or to school, rather than eating it there.
11. There is a HUGE difference between preservatives in food products in the United States vs. England. England uses a lot less chemicals in their food, so food doesn’t last as long. Be prepared to shop more and stock up less.
12. It is a universally accepted fact that chocolate in England is superior to American chocolate. Cadbury is accessible, cheap, and amazing. Buying too much chocolate is a huge problem that I just don’t mind having. Try it all. Aero bars are also great. (Can you tell I’ve developed a chocolate problem???)
13. Peanut butter is a lot less common, expensive, and harder to find. Nutella is a lot more common, cheaper, and everywhere. Take advantage.
14. Classes are held only one time a week (mostly) and they are 3 hours long. It takes awhile to get used to, but having a 15-minute break in the middle helps. The classes are much more essay-based rather than exams, and there will also be more outside components – museum visits, sporting events, theatergoing.
15. 24/7 store hours are rare. A lot of stores close early, and some do not open on Sundays at all.
16. You push a door in to enter, and pull a door to exit. (Unless noted otherwise).
17. Slang words such as “cheers” and “hiya”.
There are obviously many more, but after a month of living in the city I already have a hard time identifying them. Once you get settled in to your flat and the city, London becomes a second home away from home. I’m so thankful to be able to live in such a great city for these next 4 months!