More from Amanda Yares in the UK

I have been at Wellington College more than two weeks now, and have a few more experiences to add to my traveling adventures. As my exchange goes on, I am starting to realize that my time here is passing all too quickly. This past weekend Phone Boothwas a three-day weekend, or what is known in England as a “bank holiday.” A friend of mine, Sascha, was kind enough to host me and show me around London. On Saturday morning, Sascha and I spontaneously decided to go to the London Eye, something that I’ve always dreamed of doing. After buying tickets and packing our favorite British snacks that I have grown to love, we set out to catch our train. The train system in England is far more extensive and efficient than ours in California. We transferred from the train to the tube, where I became familiar with the phrase “mind the gap.”

London EyeThe London Eye was just as stunning as the pictures. We all shuffled into a glass capsule and began the 30-minute rotation. I was lucky with the weather that day, as it was gorgeous and sunny. Big Ben, the House of Parliament, and Buckingham Palace were all visible. The Thames stretched out below in both directions, with ferryboats puttering up and down the river. The city seemed more compact with all the famous sights laid out right beneath me, but I was shocked at the same time at how far the glistening city spread out in the distance.

View from London EyeAfter the London Eye, we crossed over the Thames by Big Ben and the House of Parliament. Along the way, there were multiple street performers all playing a gambling Big Bengame with cups and a ball. There was even one man playing the bagpipes.

After seeing some of the central local sights, Sascha and I hopped on the tube to Camden to meet a friend. Upon our arrival, it was clear that Camden was completely different from London, from people who dressed differently to touristy shops, markets, and tattoo and piercing stores lining the road. Nevertheless, the Camden Market had some of the best food and shopping of the weekend. We went to a restaurant called Wagamama, which doesn’t exist in the United States, but is home to the best curry I have ever had. After shopping in local markets, browsing local crafts and jewelry, and becoming unofficial “coat models,” we headed to the infamous cereal killer café. They had every possible cereal you could imagine, with endless toppings of chocolate “magic stars,” chips of every flavor, fruit, and even whipped cream. As bizarre as it sounds, there were even different flavors of milk, such as caramel or peanut butter. It was so good, and was definitely a highlight of my trip to Camden. I hope they have some in California.

Buckingham PalaceThe next day, we did a little bit of shopping and went to Buckingham Palace. We arrived just in time to see the changing of the guard. It looked similar to a parade, with guards in uniform with rifles, flanked by horses and riders. The palace was massive, and complete with bright flowers and a garden next-door.

I have written a bit about my travels, but I thought I should talk a little bit about being a boarding student. At Athenian, I am a day student, so boarding at Wellington has been a new country, school, and lifestyle. The majority of students at Wellington are boarding students. As an exchange, it has been quite helpful to board in order to meet new people. Living with your peers naturally brings you closer. I am in lower sixth form, as I mentioned before, which grants me a few privileges that the underclassmen don’t have. The Upper and Lower sixth form students have a different, more flexible uniform than the lower three grades. In addition, the upperclassmen are allowed to have “breakfast in house.” On the mornings when class starts at 8:40, we all make toast, cereal, bagels, etc. in house and aren’t required to walk up to the dining hall, which makes for a convenient and relaxed morning.

On certain mornings, we have chapel and go to the dining hall. Chapel is a new experience for me, and not something I do in my everyday life at home. We have chapel and assembly in the chapel 2-3 times per week. It has been really interesting to take part in a completely different ceremony than I am used to.

Overall, I have loved being a boarding student and traveling on the weekends. My experience at Wellington is constantly presenting new challenges (for example the showers which really don’t seem to like me…), but I have had so much fun during my stay. I truly can’t believe how fast my time here has passed.

I will end the blog with my new piece of vocab.FlowersIn the United States, whenever we are tasked with something we don’t feel like doing, we might say, “I don’t want to right now,” or, “I’m just too lazy.” However, in England, people frequently use the phrase, “I just can’t be bothered to…” Since that one isn’t too different, I will also add that the equivalent for “awesome” in England is “pang,” which is used as an adjective.