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My Moral Hazard

"Your best bet may be to just go uninsured." I sat in disbelief. Is this really what it had come to? I thanked the insurance salesman and pressed “End” on the Skype call.  He had just informed me that it will take three months to get me onto Medicaid or ... read more

Anjali Nirmalan

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

How to Slay a Dragon - and other lessons the English have cast off

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Anjali Nirmalan

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

United StatesUnited States

London or Nothing

It's crunch-time. The perverbial period of overly caffinated, underly rested students, but all I can think about is London. To be on the Tower Bridge again. In Picadilly Circus. To be anywhere but here. I would pay anything. Ironically, that seems to be the only thing possibly preventing my London adventure ... read more

Casey Brehm

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Not Cole Porter's Kate, but Kate Nonetheless

  Royal Fable Once upon a time, there was a handsome prince who was forced to grown up without his beautiful mother. What should his name be? Good idea, let's call him William. Prince William's life was heavily scrutinized because he was the second in line (only behind his father ... read more

Brianna Jentz

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Let's Start at the Beginning- Europe

 I figure that the most important thing you do in life is to experience it and a big part of that is travel.  Europe was my first trip abroad, and it gave me an excitement for learning about the world that I would have never gained from books, and I ... read more

Jessica Michael

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Generation WHY?

  Generation Y- Are We Still Dealing With Sexism?   My history teacher in high school was always fascinated with generations. He described his generation as selfish and more than once he called my generation apathetic. Then he heard John Mayer's song “Waiting on the World to Change,” which somehow ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

"It's going to be legend- and I hope you aren't lactose intollerant because the second part of that word is- DERRY."

    A young girl in a school uniform, complete with a white shirt, green tie, and plaid skirt, stands with her hands clasped as if she was sing in a Madrigal. There is a barricade behind her. The steel gates, pipes, and barbed wire obstruct any beauty that may ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Waiting for a Police Box to Whisk Me Away

  “Doctor Who” Language   There are very few Sci-fi television shows that have captivated my interest as much as the new version of “Doctor Who.” I do enjoy books and movies such as “Harry Potter” and “LOTR,” but those are considered fantasy and not sci-fi. Scientific fiction has perplexed ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

"I'm 24601" Blog 4

  “The Nick Jonas Effect”   Well, I found a way to get me to drink beer. Cast Nick Jonas as Marius in “Les Miserables.” I never thought it would happen. There I was watching the “25th Anniversary Concert of 'Les Miserables'” at the Omni Center in Edinburgh, enjoying the ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

London- Blog 3

  The few days that I spent in London left in a blur. It was a very exciting time in England's history since it is the first time since John Paul II died that the pope has visited. There was turmoil, a discovered assassination plot, protestors, supporters, and lots of ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

On Being a Fresher at Bristol Uni

Welcome, welcome, fresh batch of younglings! You’ve just arrived at Bristol and you’re probably still rushing about in that maddening Freshers’ Week frenzy of “So what’s your name? What course are you studying? Where are you from?”. You’ve probably done the generic Whiteladies/ Park Street bar crawls and been to ... read more

Leah Eades

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Hay-on-Wye in the Autumn

    Hay-on-Wye is a small Welsh market town that straddles the Welsh- Anglo border and sits huddled within the Brecon Beacons National Park (about an hour and a half’s drive from Bristol incidentally)- nothing out of the ordinary, except that it’s positively groaning with the weight of its many ... read more

Leah Eades

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

A Tour of Onscreen Bristol

 Bristol’s looking familiar, and it’s not just because we walk through it every day. No, it’s because it’s reflected back to us from the silver screen. It seems that wherever you go in Bristol, it has at some point been used for filming. Start off at the iconic Clifton Suspension ... read more

Leah Eades

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Lucky

  “If you are lucky enough to appear to be under 21 we will ask for identification for alcohol or any other restricted item purchase” reads the sign at LIDL's grocery. I'm paraphrasing, of course, but I am very amused by this cheery sign. It puts a complete new, cute ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Invisible Packback 2

  I'm in Scotland!  I'm in Scotland!  I'm in Scotland!  This is a very momentous moment in my life.  I'm discovering fish and chips, that bathroom stall topics are "what do men really wear under their kilts?", and constantly converting pounds into U.S. dollars in my head.  I am in ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Invisible Backpack

  I'm in Scotland!  I'm in Scotland!  I'm in Scotland!  This is a very momentous moment in my life.  I'm discovering fish and chips, that bathroom stall topics are "what do men really wear under their kilts?", and constantly converting pounds into U.S. dollars in my head.  I am in ... read more

Brianna Jentz

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Pleased as Punch

You could call it a conference of sorts - a swazzled one. Once a year, professors from across the country gather in London's Covent Garden to brag, argue, compete, and dazzle.  But rather than briefcases and papers, they come armed with wood, felt, sequins, gilt paint - and each brandishes ... read more

Anjali Nirmalan

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

Travel Wrap-Up

 My apologies to all my loyal readers, (about 6 or so) that I have not written a new blog post in so long. I’ve been dealing with a stomach bug for the last month and have been preoccupied with getting healthy and finishing up my London bucket list. First I ... read more

Matthew Delman

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Two Weeks, Ten Countries: a backpacker's itinerary

Just over two weeks spent traveling through ten European countries. It was completely worth every minute spent planning the trip - but you're welcome to save yourself some time by stealing parts of our itinerary. We used an Interrail flexipass.  It was valid for 10 days of travel within 22, and ... read more

Anjali Nirmalan

United KingdomUnited Kingdom

"If an 85-year-old gay man is giving you the eye, it's probably glaucoma."

One afternoon in Camden, I found myself at a 'tea dance' for elderly LGBT Londoners. There I sliced apricot cake, learned Scottish highland line dancing from the Gay Gordons, and was enlightened as to the hey-days of "cottaging." As we popped pink balloons at the end of the event, an ... read more

Anjali Nirmalan

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Books

The London of new fiction

Marshall Worsham

09 Nov 2009

United Kingdom

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London’s doll-baby, Oscar Wilde, had little good to say about "The Old Smoke." But things have changed considerably since his time. For a fresh look at the London of today – hip, cosmopolitan, and inevitably multicultural – check out Monica Ali’s "Brick Lane" and Zadie Smith’s "White Teeth."

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Getting Around

That's it, one foot in front of the other

Marshall Worsham

09 Nov 2009

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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Oxford is best navigated on foot or cycle. You can walk easily from the train station (far west) to Magdalen College (far east) in 10 to 15 minutes. Oxford’s avenues are full of sidewalks and cross-walks, and Cornmarket Street, the city’s main commercial strip, is open to pedestrians only. Outside the city center, though, things spread out quickly. If you’re planning to be in Oxford for a while, consider getting a bike. You can hire them on daily and weekly rates from Summertown Cycles, Back on Trax, and Bike Zone. Cycle with care: as respectful as drivers are of pedestrians, they are careless toward cyclists. Also note that you’re legally required to have lights when riding at night. And do stay off the sidewalks.

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Festivals & Events

Remember, remember the fifth of November

Marshall Worsham

09 Nov 2009

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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Call it what you will – Bonfire Night, Guy Fawkes’ Day, 5-Nov – the fifth of November is undoubtedly one of the most raucous nights of the British year. The festival commemorates the discovery of Guy Fawkes’ 1605 plot to blow up Parliament. Most of England echoes with fireworks for several days around the fifth, and the celebration culminates with bonfires and the burning of effigies of Guy Fawkes. The best places to get in on the action are London’s Battersea Park and Oxford’s South Parks, where this year a 25-foot wicker effigy was engulfed in flames.

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Culture Shock

Be aware you have an accent

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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Depending on your American accent, some people might have trouble understanding you. It took me months to realize everyone thought my name (Ann) was "Ian" because I pronounce it with a little bit of an Oklahoma drawl. I convert the otherwise monosyllabic Ann into Ah-yuh-nn which thus becomes the oh-so-masculine Ian in British speak. Who knew?

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Must Do

Two for the price of one

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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Take a ferry to Greenwich to see the Prime Meridian. Dorky, I know...but how many people can say they've been in two hemispheres at once!?

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Contest

The London Monopoly Challenge and the Circle Line challenge

Marshall Worsham

16 Mar 2010

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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One of London’s most popular weekend activities for the competitive at heart is the London Monopoly Challenge. You have twelve hours. Get a group of friends, a Monopoly board, and a spare liver. Stop at a pub on each of the 26 streets on the board, have a pint, and get the bartender to sign the square you’re on. Again, I really wouldn’t recommend it. But if that’s not enough for you, then also don’t try the Circle Line pub crawl. The Circle Line is a fantastically unreliable London Tube line running in a closed circuit around the center of town. Take 12 hours, get off at each of the 27 stops and have a pint nearby. Last one standing wins. (Disclaimer: Don’t do it. If you must, try it first with half-pints, or orange juice, or water)

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Etiquette

Say sorry first

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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If someone steps on your foot in the tube, apologize. Brits are the first to say "sorry" even when the offense isn't theirs.

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Food

Stick with the Christmas pudding

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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Variations on pudding provided both my favorite and most despised foods in London. Christmas pudding is a delicious steamed concoction with dried fruits, and has a consistency like breaded creme brulee. Black pudding, on the other hand, is congealed sausage blood. It tastes as great as it sounds.

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Film

Play instead

Marshall Worsham

06 Jan 2010

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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The film industry in the UK has a hard time keeping up with its U.S. and Continental counterparts. Think of “Love Actually,” “Shakespeare in Love,” and that awful early-1990s “Moment of Truth” series, and you’ll get a sense of the purple in which British cinema is steeped. Go instead to a play. Many of England’s smallest towns have independent theaters with some top-notch actors. If you’re in London, go the tourist route and see a musical, or Shakespeare performed at the Globe. Or go underground and check out the Rose – a hip new black box company that performs above the ruins of the South Bank’s first Elizabethan theater, just down the street from the Globe. You shan’t be disappointed.

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Packing

Bring a raincoat

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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No need to pack a poncho--it rains, but not as though you're in the middle of White Water rapids. It's generally more of a drizzle, in which case a raincoat or umbrella will suit you fine.

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Religion

God save the Queen

Marshall Worsham

16 Mar 2010

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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I’ve been attending Sunday morning services at the chapel at Magdalen College, where C.S. Lewis was a Fellow. Most of the colleges in Oxford and Cambridge have really beautiful high Anglican Masses, usually sung by boys’ choirs that have been around for four centuries or so. They’re worth seeing for aesthetic reasons even if you’re not religiously inclined. What I’ve found really interesting, though, is how the services reveal England’s un-separation of Church and State. At the end of some services, the congregation breaks into a rousing chorus of “God Save the Queen.” It’s been fascinating, if not a little unsettling for an American liberal, accustomed as I am to having my politics and my religion served on separate plates.

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Politics

Be ready to talk American politics

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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The English are very involved in politics--especially American politics. Obama's election made front page news on all the papers, and anyone who knew I was American wanted to talk to me about the candidates throughout the election.

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Music

500 years and still singing

Marshall Worsham

09 Nov 2009

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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If you do nothing else in Oxford, be sure to hear a choral service in one of the college chapels. Magdalen, Christ Church, New College, and Queen’s Colleges have world-famous choirs. Most of its other college choirs are just as good, if not as renowned. Some of the most incredible experiences I’ve had here have involved the Magdalen choir singing Eucharist on Sunday mornings and Evensong weekday evenings, all by candlelight. The best part? It’s all free.

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Sports

Nothing like a Saturday soccer game

William Hardy

12 Aug 2009

United Kingdom

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William Hardy

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There is nothing like a watching a "football" (soccer) game on a Saturday. If you think the turnout is big for Patriots' games against the Jets, wait until you see the turnout for an average British football game. The fans are die-hard and love a good rowdy time. Be prepared to come home with no voice, spilt beer on your clothes and the name of your team in colored paint across your chest!

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TV

Get your TV for nothing, your kicks for free

Marshall Worsham

16 Mar 2010

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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British law requires all privately owned televisions to be licensed. It’s pricey – £145.50 after 1 April of this year. The revenues go to support the BBC (notice how there aren’t any commercials on BBC stations) and telecom infrastructure projects. If you don’t want to fork over the money, don’t lose hope. You can catch the last seven days of your favorite British shows on the totally free and totally awesome BBC iPlayer. If you’re in the mood to get addicted to something, I highly recommend X-Factor, an American Idol-style competitive singing program, and Only Connect, a quiz program self-described as “the show that makes you feel like an idiot.”

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Fashion

Dress for rain or shine, mostly rain

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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Always have an umbrella and sunglasses in your bag--the weather's notoriously fickle.

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Dating

You might find someone, you might not

Marshall Worsham

09 Nov 2009

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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“England’s is a post-Christian society,” explained one of my college administrators before term began. “You’ll have no trouble finding whatever you’re looking for as far as dating goes.” I suppose that’s the case, but I wouldn’t say men and women just throw themselves at one another either. There are friendships to be had, hook-ups to regret, relationships to leap into, hearts to be broken. In Oxford, like in most places in the United States, there’s a spectrum, which requires the same exercise of judgment (or lack thereof). But unlike in most U.S. college towns, there are precious few people studying here to find a spouse. Except perhaps the royalty. But unless you’re royalty yourself, you probably won’t meet them.

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Health

Forget the bill, it's free!

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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Because health care is publicly-funded in London, trips to the emergency room are free--as my friends & I so bittersweetly discovered the night we got caught up in a bar fight. Not as exciting as it sounds: two guys were brawling & one threw a glass that hit my friend in the head....lots of blood and a taxi later, she got stitched up in the E.R. To our surprise, the visit was completely free.

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Slang

The Wight way to rabbit

Marshall Worsham

07 Jan 2010

United Kingdom

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Marshall Worsham

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Confused? Try brushing up on your Cockney rhyming slang. A linguistic anomaly in England, rhyming slang supposedly developed as an idiom of resistance in the rougher parts of East London – to confuse the cops and unwanted outsiders. The idea is to substitute for one standard English word a different rhyming word or phrase, then shorten as necessary. The “Wight way to rabbit,” then, would be “the Isle of Wight (right) way to rabbit and pork (talk).” You might also hear someone ask you to take your “plates off the Gable,” that is, your “plates of meat (feet) off the Clark Gable (table).” I’ve actually heard people use rhyming slang quite a bit in London. Try it out yourself, but only in the right company.

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Nightlife

Early drinking, dinner optional

Ann Clark

06 Feb 2009

United Kingdom

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Ann Clark

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The nightlife starts earlier--but doesn't necessarily end early. Most people head to the pubs straight from school or work, and it's OK to substitute beer for dinner. "Eating is cheating," I've been told.

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Being an American

Photography tips

Simon Bell

02 Jun 2009

United Kingdom

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Simon Bell

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I'm not sure of the rules in the United States; however we Brits have quirky rules when it comes to photography. Anyone can take a picture of anything they want to in a public place, and this includes anyone. Just don't don't harass someone if you want to take his or her picture. Also keep in mind that photography in Trafalgar is strictly prohibited. If you break out the tripods and DSLR's you can expect a hefty fine. Still, no police officer can force you to delete a picture without a warrant.

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