Monthly Review | September

september shots//canon 5d//amherst ma

I'm not sure where September went exactly, because it's over and I'm left sitting here with an almost empty folder of photos, having to dip into photos I've shot for the paper to illustrate my month. But what can I say? This month has been crazy. I started my senior year of college, moved into my first apartment, and played at being grown-up, which means paying for internet and eating pop-tarts for dinner in my bed.

With each passing day, I'm integrating back into my life at UMass, getting closer and closer to hitting my stride. It's been a biggish change, but it also gets easier each day. This year's shaping up to be pretty good-here's to hoping it gets even better.

lately |golden light + sunflowers

September 18//Canon 5d//Amherst MA

Some quick ones from a mini-photo shoot//some exploring with Erin-I've been fairly frustrated with my photos recently, but I was really, really happy with these.

London | spontaneous solo travel

June 9 +10//London, UK//Canon 5d

For years, London had been the dream. The dream. Growing up, I devoured any books set in England-not just Harry Potter and the Chronicles of Narnia, (although those two, esp. HP, played a pretty big part in it) but the Secret Garden, Charlie Bone, Saffy's Angel…and then, later, Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and various Austen works. As I got older and entered that i'm different phase of adolescence, it got worse-an iPhone full of british indie music, doc martens and posters of those iconic red buses on the walls. I knew the geography + counties, dreamed of cottages and phone booths and pints at the pub.

As I grew older, my obsession with the commonwealth cooled. I still dream of open moors and cliffs and Kensington row houses, sure, and yeah, i have an unhealthy obsession with Masterpiece Mysteries, but I also dream of Berlin graffiti and New Zealand landscapes. I found that gushing about England put me in a specific demographic of American girls-the anglophiles, I'll call them-who didn't exactly represent how I felt about the country. I abandoned the idea of studying abroad there when I realize how expensive England and London actually is, and decided I wanted the challenge that living in a country that didn't speak english would give me. I didn't even plan to visit London on exchange; if I was going to Great Britain, I was going to do it right and see it all.

But then in June, my dad called and told me he was going to London on business for a few days. And the first thing that crossed my mind (sorry, Dad) was free room? free dinner? in London? So, without further ado, I booked an overnight bus from Amsterdam to London and prepared myself by brushing up on my slang (fancy a cheeky nandos?) and setting aside my Primark budget. Dad wanted to eat fish + chips, sit in a british pub, and to go to the rotary made famous by National Lampoon's European Vacation and say those iconic lines-"Look Kids! Big Ben! Parliament!" I wanted to hit up the free museums, shop at the Camden Markets, and wander around the picturesque west london neighborhoods. Everything was all set, until three hours before I left for Amsterdam, when my father's trip was cancelled. Suddenly, I was plunged into panic-I wasn't going to see my dad, my trip was in shambles, and I had to figure out how to cancel + refund all of my tickets.

But then I thought to myself, why cancel? I had just spent the last four months gallivanting around Europe; if I could handle Budapest without a map and Luxembourg with no french, I could manage spending two days in a country where english was the native language, right? I booked myself a hostel, and, two days later, hopped on a bus that drove through three countries before boarding a ferry and taking me to England!

I started my day by crossing off one of my dad's wishes with a trip to the oh-so-famous rotary, where I spun around recording myself whispering look kids! big ben! parliament! which caught the attention of a few drunk Irish guys on the lawn-we chatted, which was such a novelty in itself, as I had spent the last five months in various places where english was not really heard on the streets, apart from touristy areas. Everywhere I turned, there were conversations that I could understand. It sounds like a strange thing, but it was so amazing.

Since I was up early, I crossed off all of the "touristy" things-Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament-before ten a.m. I napped in my hostel and headed over to the V + A museum, and then Camden market, which I crossed off my list, where I ate some fish and chips, for my dad (and for myself). I wandered around Oxford Street, wrote in Kensington Park, and went to bed early.

I wasn't sure about how I would feel about traveling alone, but I can say now for certain that, with the exception of dinnertime, I love it. Because, quite simply? I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. I can sit in a cafe with my coffee and plan my day, and take as long as I please; I can make plans to go somewhere and then spontaneously change them-I can walk down any side street. I can look at one painting for two hours and then skip four more rooms because I don't like that type of art; I can sit in parks and write (I seem to do this a lot). And sometimes, it's nice to be quiet and to watch everyone around you.

My second day in England was perfect. I stopped by St. Paul's Cathedral, walked over the bridge and went to the Tate Modern, where one of my favorite artists was displayed-lunch was at the Borough Markets,and then I went to Primark, where I promptly plunked down all my money and walked away with half the store. I had an early dinner at a burger place,  and then I started to wander. I kept walking, and then something magical happened; I stumbled upon Portobello Road. Ladies and Gentlemen, this is one of those beautiful, serendipitous travel experiences that I can't believe actually happened, because it doesn't really sound real. It is, though, and I walked around in a daze, ducking into mews and taking so many pictures.

London is still one of my fondest trips. It was such a perfect way to end exchange, and validation that I could travel alone and be okay. These pictures are some of my favorite from the entire five months, because they look exactly how I had always imagined London to look like, and the tones are just exactly how I saw it. When that happens, it's magical. And I know that I end every post by promising that I'll be back to whichever city it is at the moment, but London-England-Great Britain-I'll be back. Promise.

guide coming soon. 

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