Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sicky Icky

This week has been a little tough! I spent most of the week in bed with the flu, had to miss a few classes, and felt really about a GREAT first impression to my classmates. It is hard to be sick and so far away from family....when I was in Grand Rapids and was sick I could at least call and complain to my mom every 15 minutes...this different time zone thing does not help very well with that. I am not very proactive when I am sick and usually don't do anything to help make myself better. I would always get reminders from my parents saying "Did you take Tylenol?" "Did you have something to eat?" "Did you take a nap?" I didn't really do any of those this week, I kind of just sat in my room and felt sorry for myself...then a good chat with Jimbo (my dad) whipped me into shape. He called me a big baby, and yes I was being a big baby! So today I made up for my sickly, whiny ways. I jumped on the bus with the intention of going for a walk in Hyde Park, when I saw this cafe outside the bus window called Patisserie Valerie, which was recommended to me by a friend in Chicago (Thanks Steve!). I got off the bus at the next stop and went inside for a strawberry yummy french cake thing and a latte. They were both delicious but next time I will actually have a meal instead of dessert for lunch, which I know will happen because it is right across the street from where my parents are staying when they visit. YAY!

Patisserie Valerie

Strawberry Gateaux

Following my lunch I walked down Edgware Road to Oxford Street and explored a couple of stores. Now, I have to say London does fashion way better than the States when it comes to reasonably priced items. I checked out Dorothy Perkins and Next and loved how everything was super stylish and super reasonable. It makes sense though since most of the fashion trends in the United States start in Europe. Also, stores here are much more willing to provide discounts for students. I received 25% off at both stores for showing my student id, which trumps the 10% off I usually receive at every store in the states. I then walked over to Selfridges and explored the accessories/ beauty floor...which was magical. I love department stores...for me the happiest place on earth is the shoe/beauty/accessories floor of Nordstrom, not Disney World. I then walked over to Marble Arch and through Hyde Park for a little bit, but headed home around 4:30 because I was getting very tired and wasn't feeling well. I have a 4 day weekend this week because one of my professors is in Brazil for business and cancelled class today. I am excited to explore a little more this weekend and also get to work on some of my projects for school. I am really enjoying my classes, professors, and classmates! I know we are all going to accomplish some great things! Until next time, happy weekend everyone!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Notting Hill Living

Today was the first day it felt like London, mostly because it was raining! I have been very fortunate to have many sunny days since arriving in London...not typical for this time of year or of this city. I started classes this past week and am very excited about what I am going to be doing. I will walk out of this program with a lot of great pieces of work to show potential employers when job interview time arrives, and they will cover just about every area of marketing (i.e public relations, market research, consumer behavior, advertising, etc.).

Today I walked to Notting Hill, which is about a mile from my flat and explored the famous Portobello Road and Westbourne Grove. I love the pastel colored townhouses and the small boutiques, which easily took up the majority of my day.

Portobello Road, Notting Hill  

 Westbourne Grove

 Westbourne Grove is a favorite of the lovely Duchess of Cambridge! Many of the designers she often wears are located here, including Reiss and L.K Bennett. Some of my favorite, like Nanette Lepore and Helmut Lang are also located on this adorable street. There is a restaurant right near here called Beach Blanket Babylon that I cannot wait to try, but I am saving it until my parents come to visit in April. 

 Beach Blanket Babylon, Ledbury Road

I also ventured to a great bakery on Portobello Road called Hummingbird Bakery. I stopped for a wonderful Sticky Toffee Cupcake ( I know, it's not a chocolate cupcake, which is a huge surprise coming from me) and sparkling water. Hummingbird Bakery has a couple other locations around London, including SoHo, South Kensington, and Spitalfields. I also found a great top at Appletree Boutique, which was right next to Hummingbird Bakery...a perfect combination, cupcakes and clothes! 

Hummingbird Bakery, Portobello Road

Sticky Toffee Cupcake

New Top From Appletree Boutique 
(It is actually a dark red, not pink...thanks camera!)

I am getting more and more comfortable with my surroundings and love getting to know my new friends! More adventures to come, thanks everybody!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Culture Kinda

I have had a very tiring but exciting week. The MarCom (fancy abbreviation, I know) students went through six days of orientation, including Saturday! We had some fantastic lecturers who have some of the most impressive resumes I have ever seen. Many of them were VP's and executives of organizations like Unilever, Shell Oil, Coca-Cola, etc. There was never a moment during their lectures when I was bored or not interested, which I believe is a great start to the program. We start real classes tomorrow and have each module one day a week for three hours, which is half lecture and half seminar, where we are broken into two smaller groups for discussion, case studies, etc. I absolutely feel as though I choose the right program. The difference between the MarCom M.A and a regular Marketing Masters Degree as that we are taught to work in an agency setting, and not as a marketer for other organizations. This course is very much driven by creativity, we will be the ones to pitch marketing strategies, advertising strategies, public relations strategies, etc. to the organizations in which we were hired as a outside consultants. I am very excited to get going on the courses!

Facade of The British Museum
I started my British cultural education on Friday evening with a trip to The British Museum. It is such a beautiful building I could have spent the evening drinking tea of the outside stairs, but I figured I should head inside. I love the interior of Museums, they are so big with incredible architecture, but are also very quiet, allowing those who pass through to take in everything offered.  A couple of friends and I spent about an hour and a half wandering through Ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt. One of my friends is from Athens and had a lot of great insight into the history of some of the important pieces. For example, the pieces of the Parthenon on display were actually stolen and brought back to the Museum 300 years ago. It is still a debate today about the rightful owners of the pieces. 

Interior of The British Museum

I have been very lucky with the weather so far! It has been almost 50 degrees everyday and mostly sunny, although I hear we are going to have the typical London weather next week with a couple rainy days. I am heading to Notting Hill today to explore the famous Portobello Road. Hope you all have had a wonderful week and are enjoying (kind of) the snow!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

#2 Pencil

So it's back to school for me! I officially started graduate school on Monday. There are 35 people in the M.A. Marketing Communications program and I am the only American...which actually shocked the head of the department because last years program had 10 Americans. I have met some wonderful people from all over the world....Germany, Austria, Thailand, Japan, Brazil, Spain, Croatia, India, Italy, Greece, Denmark!! I am going to love having friends from all over the world, it provides a great international perspective on marketing and also a great world prospective. I am excited to learn about all of their different cultures and create some wonderful memories with them. I have been very busy this week with orientation (usually about 8 hours a day) so I haven't had much time to explore other areas other than around my flat and around my school. I feel very comfortable with the transportation system...very similar to Chicago's...although the buses come about every 4 or 5 minutes, which is a nice change from the often 15-20 minutes in Chicago.

One topic of conversation I have enjoyed with my classmates is discussing the difference between the University systems in our home countries, and all of the people I have spoken with are very surprised by the lack of security in American higher education institutions. At Westminster we must swipe our i.d card to get past front security as well as when we exit, this is also true with my apartment building. They were all very surprised that very few universities in the states didn't have that type of security system...I guess I was too. I never really thought about it but at many schools I have toured/attended (remember I attended 3 different ones! haha) there was no way to account for where students were, with the exception of some dorm/housing facilities. Maybe the states can learn a thing or two from International Universities...just something I noticed. I am LOVING the food stores are awesome and try to provide as such local and organic options as possible! They also put weird things on a prawn, tomato, and mayo sandwich...eeeewwwwww! I am adjusting well and am excited to get rolling with my studies. Thanks for following me, I hope to keep things interesting. Let me know if they get boring, I can always spice it up!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Home Sweet Home

Hello All,

It was a beautiful day in London today, about 50 degrees and sunny! I am settled into my little flat and have even taken some pictures to show you all! Here is my little humble home for the next six months.
Here is my cute little kitchen! It has a stove top, microwave, sink, small fridge and lots of cabinet space!

Here is my bedroom! I have a twin bed, a closet, and a desk! It's the perfect size with just enough room! 

This is my desk, which is huge! I didn't bring enough stuff with me for it to look put together. It is all lovely Ikea furniture.

Here is my closet all put together. Everything fits perfectly! I am excited for this place to feel a little bit more like home, it needs a few things though, it's still pretty empty. 

Today I jumped on the tube at Ladbroke Grove in Notting Hill and went over to see my school. It's a very easy commute...about a 10 minute walk to the tube and then 15 minutes on the City line takes me right to Baker Street where the Westminster Business School is located. I walked around for about an hour and explored the area and then jumped back on the tube towards home. It got a little chilly once the sun went down (which was about 4:00 pm) so I did a little bit more grocery shopping and headed home. Tomorrow I am going to hit up Kensington High Street and Knightsbridge to get my shop on, then head over to Hyde Park to frolic and work on my skipping technique....Jim Pixley, you better practice too, we will have skipping battles when you are here in April! Hope everyone is doing well and thank you for taking an interest in my London adventure, I promise it will get more interesting soon!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Minor Turbulence

Alright, so this whole traveling thing didn't go as well as it should have. Mom and I arrived at Metro Airport on Wednesday at 3:30pm, I was all ready to go, I had already psyched myself up for the flying (I hate flying...I cannot wait until teleportation is would save me a whole lot of stress). I go to the little kiosk to get my boarding pass and the computer wouldn't let me check said it was not 24 HOURS before my flight. So being the smart person that I am, I looked at the date of my flight. It was January 4th, and my flight was January 5th, we were a day early. For those of you who know me well you would know I freaked out...I usually never make mistakes like that. I start crying and apologizing to my Mom, who said every one does it and it wasn't a big deal. Luckily the friends house where my mom was staying that night had enough room for me and I was able to spend some time with my college roommates (Thanks Shealyn and Renee!!), which definitely improved my mood. So I went back to the airport the next day boarded my plane, and here I am, in the beautiful city of London. I just woke up from a little nap (it's 2:23pm here) and I am about to go get a bite to eat and hopefully grocery shop a little bit. I am living at a student apartment building in Notting Hill with a roommate named Angie...we only met a short time because she was leaving for the weekend but she was traveling and wearing 4 inch heels...I knew I would like her! Thanks for sticking with me of my London adventure...hopefully I will get in some fun adventures before I start school on Monday....Oh yea, I threw up in the cab after leaving the car sick for the first time ever...great way to start out!! Things can only go up from here!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Londons Finest

Being one of the many fashion obsessed people in the world, I am thrilled to being going to the country that houses many of my favorite designers. I have such an appreciation for British fashion houses because they are so eclectic. You have the iconic Burberry, whose famous plaid patterns are as important to the city as Big Ben, and on the other end you have the vibrant and fearless Vivienne Westwood, who never met a bright color or crazy pattern she didn't love. Below I will feature a couple of my favorite British designers, some are very well known and some a new to the scene, but promise to leave an impression on the fashion industry.

Matthew Williamson - Spring 2009

Mr. Williamson, originally from Manchester, began his career in the 90's as a designer for companies such as Marni, Monsoon, and Accessorize, all popular British clothing stores. He grew to fame when he premiered his first collection in 1997 at London Fashion Week and have the likes of Kate Moss, Jade Jagger, and Helena Christensen rocking the runway in his designs. He is known for his extreme use of detail, bright color, and intricate patterns.

Ted Baker 

Taylor Swift wearing Ted Baker

Kourtney Kardashian wearing Ted Baker

Ted Baker is my favorite British Design House, mostly because the designer let the clothes speak for themselves. Managing Director, Ray Kelvin, founded Ted Baker in 1988 and refused to do any advertising for the line, but hoped the line would succeed due to word of mouth. It is now an international brand and has stores all over the world. Ted Baker is known for taking classic pieces for men and women and adding detail through design twists. Taylor Swift and Kourtney Kardashian are huge Ted Baker fans and are often seen wearing their tailored dresses and flowing blouses. 

Anya Hindmarch - Beverly Metallic Hobo

 Olivia Palermo carrying an Anya Hindmarch design

Anya Hindmarch is a fantastic handbag and accessories designer who is known for her practical and stylish designs. Her career started when she was a teenager and her parents gave her a Gucci bag before attending university, but she was so inspired by the bag she went to Florence to study Italian instead. She noticed the styles of the women in Italy, went back to England, made her own line of bags, and sent them to the editor of a major fashion publication, who printed an article on the up and coming designer. She says all of her designs are based on exceptional workmanship and her design motto, British, humorous, bespoke. Anya Hindmarch has also designed a moderately priced line for Target, and the I Am Not A Plastic Bag tote, raising awareness for environmentally conscious fashions.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Hello All,

Thank you for taking the time to check out the first official post of my London blog, Pearl of London! It is the first day of 2012 and there are many great adventures in store for the next year. I will be heading off to London in 3 days for graduate school at the University of Westminster in the heart of London. It has been over 5 years since I last visited the great city of London and am excited to experience the history and culture of one of the greatest cities on the planet. Many people have asked why I chose to pursue a Masters degree abroad instead of attending one of the many fantastic Universities in the United States, so I have provided a short list of the reasons why.

1. The English Accent...I hope to acquire one while abroad, or at least be able to fake it well...I will then no longer be made fun of for my Midwestern accent...and my coolness factor will go up will soon notice a change in language on this blog...I will now use works like "posh", "brilliant", "capital," "fit", "bloody", etc.

2. I get to spend more quality time with my bff...Pippa Middleton. I look forward to being stalked by the paparazzi...taking personal exercise classes...and being famous for having a far more useful older sister....I already do the last one pretty well ;)

3. TopShop....we all know I have a serious fashion problem....I did not say "shopping problem" because 90% of the clothes I want I cannot afford!

4. Prince Harry, we all know I have a thing for Gingers...I would also take take either of the Weasley twins, or both.

5. Free fee at any of the Museums...that way I can save more money for shopping!

6. French Fries...the official Food on the United Kingdom...yay!

I am very excited to begin this adventure and hope you all will come along with me. I will be posting information on my daily life as well as things I am passionate about including theatre, film, fashion, cultural exploration, almost anything I find somewhat interesting!

Thanks all!