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18 January 2018

#GilmanScholarship Application Webinars

The U.S. Department of State's Gilman Scholarship Program is excited to announce that the application for Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Academic Year 2018-2019 scholarships is now open! Applicants are encouraged to register for the below webinars for more information on the program, application process, and to hear from alumni who have gone abroad with Gilman.
 
Thursday, January 18, 2018 3:00-4:00PM Central Time
"Access Study Abroad with the Gilman Scholarship" - Register Here

Thursday, February 8, 2018 10:00-11:00AM Central Time
"Applying for the Gilman Critical Need Language Award" - Register Here

Monday, February 26, 2018 1:00-2:00PM Central Time
"Meet Gilman Alumni" - Register Here

Additionally, the Gilman Program will present four webinars for advisors in January and February:

Thursday, January 25, 2018 12:00-1:00PM Central Time
"Boosting Application Completion Rates" - Register Here

Monday, January 29, 2018 1:00-2:00PM Central Time
"Leveraging the Gilman Scholarship to Build Community College Study Abroad" - Register Here

Wednesday, January 31, 2018 1:00-2:00PM Central Time
"Working with Financial Aid Offices to Promote Gilman" - Register Here

Tuesday, February 13, 2018 12:00-1:00PM Central Time
"Keys to Successful Applications" - Register Here

Visit www.gilmanscholarship.org for program information, details, and to access the application. All applications due by 11:59 PM Central Time on Tuesday, March 6 2018.

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Don't miss your opportunity to study or intern abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/
If you need help getting started with study abroad, take a look at the first steps: http://studyabroad.uark.edu/getting-started/first-steps.php.
For more scholarships for study abroad, check out http://studyabroad.uark.edu/funding.

15 January 2018

I'm going to Cape Town! #HogsAbroad in South Africa

Hey everyone!

Some of you know, some of you may not… but yes, you read that right, I’M GOING TO CAPE TOWN!

I started this blog because it’s the easiest way to keep everyone informed at once, so for those of who you wanted to know more information, and have told me you would like to stay informed about my experiences while I’m gone: welcome to my blog, where I will do those things!

I wanted to write this post specifically to explain my decision, why I’m going, what I’l be doing, giving more detail on what time abroad will look like, and answering the questions I’ve gotten about going to Cape Town.

Why Cape Town

Originally, I was thinking I would study abroad in the spring. Due to a random mix of factors, I started to consider that the fall might be a better option. So, one day this past spring, I made an appointment with my study abroad advisor and explained to her that I was considering the fall, but really didn’t know much more. She advised me to come back by the end of the weekend with a decision – semester, place, and program, and sent me off with a huge stack of books from external program providers to look through and decide from.Γ‚

I spent the following weekend flipping through books, marking possibilities with sticky notes, making charts comparing dates and prices (yes everyone make fun of me), and basically pulled my hair out trying to comprehend how in the world I was supposed to decide from the endless realm of possibilities. I also had tests to study for and a big workload that weekend which made things even more exciting – especially for my roommates, God love them, who put up with my fast-paced and chaotic stress mode

One reason the program I chose stuck out to me is because it is actually an internship abroad, as opposed to a typical study abroad program. This means that I receive my school credit through interning rather than courses at a local university. I liked the idea of getting to experience the international work place through an internship.

For a while, I was leaning towards European countries, but the more I read about Cape Town, the more intrigued I was. I decided I wanted to do something a bit different and unfamiliar. Cape Town is developed, but not Westernized, which I liked the idea of. I wanted to take advantage of studying abroad as a time in my life to go somewhere and experience something I probably won’t get the chance to any other time in life. The unique and developed city excited me, and the cultural differences and experience appealed to me.Γ‚

So, I found this program on Sunday night, and decided it could be the one. I spent all day Monday skipping classes (whoops) in order to make the necessary phone calls, get some more information to make my decision, and let my advisor know by the end of the day – Cape Town it was!

About the Program

I am studying abroad through CISAbroad, Center for International Studies (https://www.cisabroad.com). I will still be receiving credit through the University of Arkansas and maintain status as a full-time student. My program is an internship abroad, rather than a typical study abroad program. Rather than enrolling at a university, I will receive credit through my internship. So, I will be spending my days at my internship, and won’t be attending any local university.

What is my internship?
My internship is at a child and youth care center for teens, ages 13-18, that have been separated from their families due to an order mandated by the children’s court. Many of these children come from abusive situations and negative home lives. The children attend school during the day and return to the center in the afternoon. The center enrolls the children in school, provides life coaching workshops, therapy sessions, and a range of activities. The center strives to help these girls find confidence in life and teach them the skills they need to independent.

What I’ll do at my Internship

My tasks will become more defined as I spend more time there, but based on my current knowledge, my tasks will include a variety of projects. I will help with social media needs, including updates to the website and transforming their social media presence. I will also research policy – analyzing the effects of certain behaviors and what is effective in the organization, and research relevant legislation that affects organizations and NGOs in South Africa.

Living Situation
I’ll be living in an apartment with 10-12 other roommates. I am the only U.S student in the CIS South Africa Internship program, so I will be living with students who aren’t with CIS, but are interning from around the U.S and the world in Cape Town. I do not know who they are and have not met them yet.

How I’m Feeling…

My emotions are obviously a mix of excitement and nerves. As some of you had the pleasure of witnessing ;-), I went through a stage of complete nerves and anxiousness about doing this. There were some legitimate reasons that made me question altogether if I had made the wrong decision, and wondered if I needed to reconsider. I expressed my concerns to my parents and to my advisors, and step by step, after seriously rethinking my decision, I decided to keep moving forward. Everything that I was uneasy about began to come together, and I became more and more sure that I needed to go through with this. Through lots of prayer and God giving me new eyes to look at the situation, I reached a point of genuine excitement where my nerves and uneasiness were subdued. I still have moments where my mind meets reality as I reflect on the fact that I’m jumping into something so unfamiliar, unknown, and completely out of my comfort zone. Safety, not knowing a single person in all of South Africa, not knowing anyone I’m living with obviously all contribute to moments of fear; but, these moments are always followed with a strange peace, a peace that is very much not my own (because it is very much not my personality to not be stressed about this), that brings me back to the knowledge that God is on my side, with me, walking beside me. It’s easy to know that in your head, but another thing to trust in and believe in – and I’m excited that doing this will stretch me to truly walk in that truth. I’m so, so thankful to be able to do this, that God has brought me this far, and for the incredible people that have supported me, encouraged me, and prayed for me.

Side Note: Sitting in the airport right now with my dad, who is flying there with me, getting ready to board the plane. We are arriving a few day early and will have time to travel and spend a few days together before I begin my internship.

With all that being said…Off to Cape Town we go!

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Kendall, a junior Political Science major, spent the fall 2017 semester studying in South Africa through CISabroad.
Kendall is also a recipient of our Office of Study Abroad Scholarship.
Read more from Kendall at https://kendallbrannon.wordpress.com/
Don't miss your opportunity to study or intern abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/

12 January 2018

The Albatross Encounter & the International Antarctic Centre #HogsAbroad in New Zealand

Living life on the sea: The Albatross Encounter
What started as a dreary, slow day in the quaint beach town of Kaikoura quickly morphed into one of the most action-packed and awe-inspiring experiences involving nature I have ever had. While the rest of the group elected to walk a nearby beach, Dr. Jogan and I decided to go on an albatross encounter, hoping to intersect these majestic birds on their migratory paths while on a boat a few miles into the Pacific. Our skillful boat driver, Gary, navigated the choppy waters with finesse, safely (but rather bumpily) guiding us to the (Antarctic ridge?) where he promised birds would discover the fish livers he had thrown overboard. Within minutes, hundreds of enormous, majestic birds were swooping around our craft, angling themselves and attacking each other to get a share of the delicacy Gary had brought for them. Seeing this show and knowing that the very birds I was looking at would be on the other side of the world a few months later was simply awe-inspiring. After half an hour of watching this incredible display of avian might, Gary guided us out of the area and into waters not known for its bird activity, but frequented for another equally-mesmerizing animal: the dolphin. After a few minutes of waiting, they appeared and did not disappoint. Seemingly curious of our boat, the dolphins performed dazzling displays of acrobatic defiance that I had only seen on television. Seeing these graceful animals in such coordinated finesse was an emotional experience and one that I will never forget. Overall, the albatross encounter was one of the highlights of the trip and one that I would highly recommend for anyone even remotely interested in nature.

International Antarctic Centre
On Saturday, we took a trip to the International Antarctic Centre in Christchurch. Here, we got to experience a simulated Antarctic storm and subzero Antarctic water, pet huskies, learn about the special relationship between New Zealand and Antarctica, as well as the history of scientific research in Antarctica, and my favorite, a little blue penguin encounter.

Antarctica is only 2000 km from New Zealand. It was fascinating to see stuff so close that we usually think of as being impossibly far away.

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Read more from the 2018 Human and Animal Interactions students at https://uarkhumanandanimalinteractionsinnewzealand18.wordpress.com/
Find out more about the U of A Faculty-Led: Human & Animal Interaction in New Zealand program.
Get started today! Search for your study abroad opportunity at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/
For scholarships for study abroad, check out http://studyabroad.uark.edu/funding

#HogsAbroad Frequent Flyer

Welcome back, students! We hope you all have a great start to the spring semester!

Study Abroad Office Hours
The office is open from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. Walk-In Wednesdays will resume the first week of classes, on Wednesday, January 17th, from 1:00pm – 4:30 pm. Walk-In Wednesdays are a great option for those who have a couple of questions, need a form signed, or just want to touch base with an advisor for a few minutes.

Upcoming Study Abroad Info Sessions
U of A Faculty-Led: Medieval England Info Session, Monday, January 22, 4:00 pm, MAIN 319
Join us for an information session on our faculty-led Medieval England program for Summer 2018. The faculty leader, Dr. William Quinn, will be available to provide information and answer questions. Apply online here: Medieval England.

Study Abroad Program Applications
Upcoming U of A Program Application Deadlines
Application Deadline: January 16

Application Deadline: February 1
Most Summer 2018 U of A Faculty-Led and Rome Center programs
NOTE: EARLY APPLICATION IS STRONGLY ADVISED. Applications may close before the published deadline if all spots are filled.
Find out more about all our faculty-led program options here: https://studyabroad.uark.edu/programs/faculty-led.php
Find out more about our Rome Center program options here: https://studyabroad.uark.edu/programs/rome-center.php

Applications for Fall and Academic Year 2018-2019 U of A Exchange programs are OPEN!
Learn more about exchange program options here: https://studyabroad.uark.edu/programs/exchange.php

Applications for external programs with rolling admissions are OPEN! Remember, for external programs, you will apply to your program provider, AND fill out your application on the Hogs Abroad Portal: http://studyabroad.uark.edu/programs/external-programs.php

Scholarships & Funding
ISA Early Application Discount
Are you applying for a Summer or Fall 2018 program through ISA - International Studies Abroad? Take advantage of this early application discount! Students who complete applications for ISA Summer 2018 programs before January 15, 2018, or for Fall 2018 programs before January 31, 2018 will automatically receive a $100 discount applied to their ISA account. More information here: https://studiesabroad.com/feature/early_apps_2018

Boren Awards
The U of A campus deadline is January 22
Students must pursue study of languages, geographic areas and fields of study critical to U.S. National Security. Recipients are expected to fulfill service requirement with U.S. government upon graduation or termination of studies. An appointment with the Boren on-campus advisor, DeDe Long (dslong@uark.edu), is required as part of application process. For more details, visit https://borenawards.org

University of Arkansas Study Abroad Scholarships on the Hogs Abroad Portal
Summer 2018, Fall 2018, Academic Year 2018-19 Deadline: February 1
Several study abroad scholarships now have their own applications on the Hogs Abroad Portal, so you can manage more of your scholarship applications in one place. Be sure to carefully review deadlines and eligibility criteria for each scholarship at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/funding. If you have any questions about one of these scholarships, refer to the contact information listed on the brochure.

Office of Study Abroad Scholarship
Summer 2018, Fall 2018, Academic Year 2018-19 Deadline: February 15
Award recipients will be expected to make the very best of their study abroad experience, and we hope you will help us promote study abroad when you return to campus! Before you depart, you will receive an invitation from our office to contribute to our Study Abroad Blog while you are away. We also have many opportunities for our returning study abroad students to help with promotional events or participate on student panels about their study abroad experience. We hope we can count on you to help us champion this part of your academic experience here at the U of A. Apply online here: Office of Study Abroad Scholarship.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program
Summer 2018 & Fall/Academic Year 2018-2019 Application Deadline: March 6
The U.S. Department of State’s Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship is a grant program that enables students of limited financial means to study or intern abroad. The Gilman Scholarship Program is open to U.S. citizen undergraduate students who are either currently receiving Federal Pell Grant funding or are Pell Grant eligible. For the application and more information, visit https://www.gilmanscholarship.org/applicants/application-overview/

To Do
Apply for Your Passport:
If you haven’t already done so, now is a great time to locate your birth certificate and submit a passport application. You can find instructions on how to apply using the following link: http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports.html.

You can also visit U of A Passport Services at pmcs.uark.edu/passport-services/.

And, once you have your passport, be sure to log in to your Hogs Abroad Portal to upload your passport information to your application!

Get Connected! #HogsAbroad
Stay in the loop with U of A students while they’re abroad! Students who are studying abroad will be posting throughout the summer, so be sure to check-in and see what’s going on. Follow the blogs at: http://studyabroadarkansas.blogspot.com.

Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter. You can also look for our hashtag, #HogsAbroad all over social media, to see more news and posts from students studying abroad!


We look forward to helping you go abroad!

11 January 2018

Red Deer & Dunedin Botanic Gardens #HogsAbroad in New Zealand

Red Deer Genetics
Today we visited the Red Deer Genetics farm in New Zealand. We rode on hay barrels throughout the red deer farm to feed the deer and watch them interact with one another. Throughout the tour, we learned the when, why, and how of deer farming. We learned that they cut the antlers of the deer using intricate gate systems and a stress free environment. There are also ideal times to cut the antlers so that they have the maximum amount of weight and they can be cut twice in a season. Additionally, we learned how deer antlers have immune-boosting properties and are generally consumed by the Asian market. The farm had 1500 deer ranging from $150-$100,000+ New Zealand dollar per deer. Older deer are auctioned off and moved to a large fenced in area during the mating season to be hunted– usually by the American market. Red deer stags are known for their notoriously large antlers and meticulously bred through artificial insemination and embryo transfer for improved genetics.

Dunedin Botanic Garden


Some of us decided to spend part of our free day in Dunedin exploring the Botanic Gardens. There are many plant collections within the Botanic Gardens including a rose garden, an herb garden, an arboretum, and many others. A greenhouse in the garden is home to many carnivorous plants and cacti. I have never seen such a large collection of pitcher plants! These plants catch insects with sweet smelling liquid in their pitchers. The insects fly in looking for a meal and cannot get out. It was a great day for a walk through this diverse and beautiful garden.
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Read more from the 2018 Human and Animal Interactions students at https://uarkhumanandanimalinteractionsinnewzealand18.wordpress.com/
Find out more about the U of A Faculty-Led: Human & Animal Interaction in New Zealand program.
Get started today! Search for your study abroad opportunity at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/
For scholarships for study abroad, check out http://studyabroad.uark.edu/funding

Snapshots from Newcastle #HogsAbroad in Australia

This photo is of me (left) and my friend Maxime (right) from France. The international student group took an excursion to a wildlife park one day and we were able to get up close and personal with the animals! It was a lot of fun and everybody made a lot of friends from all corners of the globe.
This is a photo of me right before I went hang gliding in Queenstown, New Zealand. The scenery in New Zealand is beautiful and soaring through it like a bird was such an amazing experience. I am a pilot, and being able to fly with no noise and no vibration was the most pure way to enjoy flight.

I had to go see the koalas while I was there! They are such funny animals. They sleep around 20 hours a day and don't move very much when they're awake. This photo was taken at a different wildlife park in the local area.

This photo of me (second from the left) was taken while a group of international students were given the opportunity to hold a diamond python. The snake was heavy despite how it looks! The whole excursion was a lot of fun and we were able to handle many different reptiles.

I took this photo of the Sydney Harbour Bridge during another international student event. The group rented out a boat and we spent the evening cruising the harbour dancing and mingling amongst each other.

This photo of me was taken while one of my roommates and I were exploring Newcastle. I am standing on top of an old decommissioned radar site that was used to detect airplanes and ships out over the sea during the mid 1900's. As you can tell, it was very windy that day, but the look out over downtown and the ocean was beautiful.

This photo of me was taken during a hiking trip through the Blue Mountains region just inland from Sydney. My housemates and I went camping for two nights and enjoyed three days of exploring and hiking around the mountains. This area reminded me a lot of the Ozarks.

This is a war memorial in Melbourne. There is an enormous museum underground that encompasses a large hill in the middle of the park. I spent several hours going through the museum, and had to leave before making it all the way through because it closed.

This is the Gold Coast just after sunset taken from an observation deck in a building along the beach. A few friends and I flew to Brisbane, then took the train to Gold Coast for the day and enjoyed the time at the beach and area surrounding Surfer's Paradise.
Here is a photo at the largest Buddhist temple in the Southern Hemisphere. My housemates and I stopped here on our way to do some exploring on a day trip to the area surrounding Sydney. The temple was very nice and it was neat to experience some culture different to my own.

I took this photo as the sun was setting behind me. I took a photography class while I was studying, and this is one of my favorite images I took. I like how visible the different colors of the sky are and how the water contrasts nicely against the rocks. This is an area about 20 minutes away from the house I was living in, so I frequented this spot with my camera.

Here is me standing with what looks to be a razorback in Sydney. It just so happens that I was wearing my U of A polo, so of course I had to get a photo. I am not sure of the significance of the hog.

The sunsets over the water were just stunning. This particular sunset was captured in Nelson Bay, about an hour's drive from where I was staying in Newcastle. After I uploaded the images to my computer, I noticed the birds flying past and this quickly became another of my favorite photos.

I was studying at the University of Newcastle, which is a two and a half hour train ride north of Sydney. The weather was great the majority of the time I was there, aside from some really cold nights around the time I arrived. You can see most of my photos have blue skies and palm trees!

A couple friends and I took a weekend to visit Melbourne and we stayed in a hotel in downtown. It allowed us to stay out exploring into the night where I fell in love with the city lights. Melbourne is a great city to visit, it's lively and the people are friendly. Here I am standing next to the river that cuts through town.

This photo is from one of the day trips myself and my housemates took down to the Sydney area. This place is called Figure 8 Pools because there are a couple perfect figure 8 shapes in the rocks due to how the different rock types erode away. You have to be careful where you step so as to not fall into a figure 8! The pools are only accessible during low tide. During high tide, the water level is too high and the rock area I'm standing on becomes submerged.

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Matthew May, Agricultural Business major, spent the fall 2017 semester in Australia with our exchange program at the University of Newcastle. Find out more about the University of Newcastle exchange at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/exchange/newcastle
Don't miss out on your chance to study abroad! Search for additional study abroad opportunities in over 40 countries at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/

Twilight in Zealandia/Jurassic Park #HogsAbroad in New Zealand


Unfortunately, no T-Rex’s were spotted in Zealandia but there were some Tuatara! As we walked through the first third of their sanctuary the guide emphasized the impacts of humankind on New Zealand ecosystems. Direct hunting and introduction of species as well as accidental introduction has greatly altered the success of native flora and fauna. They explained some of their efforts to keep their sanctuary exotic free (well they only remove the harmful species) so the natural landscape will return. With a mere 500-year view plan, Zealandia wants to slowly reach beyond its fence to create a native environment surrounding their fenced-in square mile. Listening to the guides and seeing their passion for this conservation effort was heartwarming. And, we got tea!

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Read more from the 2018 Human and Animal Interactions students at https://uarkhumanandanimalinteractionsinnewzealand18.wordpress.com/
Find out more about the U of A Faculty-Led: Human & Animal Interaction in New Zealand program.
Get started today! Search for your study abroad opportunity at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/
For scholarships for study abroad, check out http://studyabroad.uark.edu/funding

Wrapping It Up #HogsAbroad in England

So Katie is definitely not in the UK anymore, but I still have a few more pictures to share from my last few days in London with my family. I apologize for taking 3 weeks to get around to this but it’s been SO NICE to sit around my house and do absolutely nothing after an amazing but very tiring trip like that! So without further ado…
If you’ll remember from 5 years ago when I published my last post, it ended on Monday. And it already felt like it had flown by. Even though we weren’t leaving until Saturday, it felt like time just sped up and while we crammed a lot into our last few days, it was kind of weird to get on that tube to the airport after being there for almost 4 months. It just didn’t register that I was leaving! But we’re not to that part yet. So let’s start with:

Tuesday

Tuesday was a big exciting day for me. Our only solid plans for the whole trip were to go visit The Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio outside of London. We were all VERY excited for this. The lobby was filled with giant pictures of the cast from the first and last movies, and as you wait to enter, you get to see the original cupboard under the stairs where Harry had to stay during his first years in the Dursley house! IMG_1413
Next, we entered into a big theater where there was a short presentation on what we were getting ready to see. The screen rolled up and all of a sudden we were standing in front of giant double doors that steadily opened to reveal THE GREAT HALL. One of the cool things about visiting at Christmas time was the the Great Hall was decorated for the Yule Ball, so we saw all of the ice sculptures and stage for the band up front.IMG_1414IMG_1419
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My people
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After they finally shooed us out of the Great Hall (seriously we were like the last ones in there because we kept taking pictures; that was like the theme of this entire visit haha) we entered into this huge area that had a bunch of set and costume pieces. It also had lots of props like the Triwizard Cup, the Snitch, things like that. Super cool! Like, Daniel Radcliffe held this in his very hands!!! Eep!
Also. Throughout the entire tour, they had lots of signage telling you about little behind the scenes things and had videos playing here and there with different interviews from the Cast and Crew about an aspect of the production of the movies. So if you got tired of taking pictures, which we eventually sort of did (or you’re lucky enough to run out of space on your phone) you can stop and take your time reading and watching all these things. I really learned a lot about the whole movie making process and I think that it’s absolutely amazing that we have the technology to create such visually amazing films!
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Yule Ball outfits
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These were just a handful of all the wigs that the characters had to wear. Some of them, like the Malfoys, were pretty obvious to me, but I didn’t realize that Harry, Ron, and Hermione had their own wigs too! I just thought that they used their own hair but GUESS NOT.
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Enchanted Staircase
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This is the Gryffindor Boys Dormitory. It was much much cooler in person. I found that so many of these big sets like this one were kind of dark so it was really hard to get a sense for what it looked like from the picture. But by golly we still took them! And so did everyone else there! Seriously the big things like this you would wait in lines to take a picture; it was a little crazy but what’s better to act crazy about than Harry Potter??  That’s right nothing.
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Mirror of Erised
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Gryffindor Common Room!!!
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And up in the rafters, baby Harry, Ron, and Hermione!!
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Entrance to Dumbldore’s Office
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DUMBLEDORE’S OFFICE! YALL.
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Potions with Snape (his birthday was yesterday btw)
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Quidditch!!!
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Hagrid’s Hut feat. Fang
Next we moved into an area that still sort of involved sets, but also had some special effects. This broom is what they used to film all of the Quidditch and other flying scenes; looks a little different than in the movies!
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Mr. Weasley’s car feat. Whomping Willow (or the non-special effects part of it)
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The Burrow!!
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Death Eaters masks – they were actually made to fit each person’s face!
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Murder of Professor Burbage (dang it Voldemort)
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I almost feel that I cannot dignify this with a caption…………. Umbridge’s evil office
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New statue at the Ministry of Magic
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Entrance to the Forbidden Forest (can I get a Woo Pig Sooie??)
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Buckbeak 
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Aragog (rip)
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THE Hogwarts Express ladies and gentlemen!!!
You could actually walk all through the train and look into the carriages which had been each decorated from a different year of Harry Potter’s schooling. Our family also did this fun little interactive thing where we sat in little carriages and did some very good acting I must say in response to different prompts while being filmed!
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19 years later 
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THIS IS THE STUFF! The secret is in the cream at the top!!
So as you can see we’re outside at this point. We had just gone through their Backlot Cafe where you can get food and butterbeer and then walk outside to see things like the Hogwarts Bridge, Privet Drive, the Knight Bus, Mr. Weasley’s car, and Hagrid’s motorcycle + sidecar. Which we all took pictures with. The next section of the tour took us through rooms devoted to design and special effects (think the Goblins, Buckbeak, different creatures, etc.) and down Diagon Alley. I know it’s the real one but nothing can beat walking through the bustling Diagon Alley at Universal Studios when you can go in all the shops and really take it all in!! But the London studio wins on pretty much everything else haha. Finally there were some models of Hogwarts and then for the grand finale:
*angel chorus*
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I’m thinking of transferring schools.
So that was fun!
And for every picture I put on here there were 4 more that I didn’t include. Because there’s more to tell! And also my phone camera ran out of space which was sad haha.IMG_1551
Our day with Harry Potter was not over though. During the first week of December I had visited the British Library to see the History of Magic exhibition they were doing. Unfortunately, you had to have a ticket for it and double unfortunately, they were sold out the week that my family was in town. Well thank goodness for British phone plans because I was able to call them, find out that they held a few tickets back for the day of, and then called again Tuesday morning to get tickets for our family to see it! My mom had especially been wanting to go through it and because I enjoyed it so much, I was really happy that my family go to experience it as well! Plus we were already on a Harry Potter high so that made it even better!
So at this point it’s like 5pm. Yes we spent our entire day doing Harry Potter stuff why aren’t you?? But the day did not end there. Because I had scored tickets for Hamilton for me and my mom to go see! But wait Katie, I thought you already saw Hamilton in London? Why yes, I did, and it was SO DANG GOOD that I was perfectly happy to see it again. Plus I really wanted my mom to see just how DANG GOOD it was! And to top it off, tickets here are insanely cheap. And you have to be kind of smart about it because the show will be sold out and then suddenly 2 pairs of tickets pop up but then they’re gone within 15 minutes. But me seeing it twice in London was cheaper than me seeing it once in the US. Which is insane because it’s the West End in London! Like reallyyyy high quality actors and actresses. Our show was at 7:30 that night so we grabbed a bite to eat, went to the apartment to get ready, and then 30 minutes later headed to the beautiful Victoria Palace Theater.
But the best part was our actual tickets. We had box seats. So let me just break this down again. We were seeing a Broadway hit sensation. In the West End of London. 2 weeks into the shows premiere in London. With our own private box that had real chairs and it was just the two of us. For less than 50 pounds each. Amazing.
I honestly thought the show was even better the second time that I saw it and I could tell little things that they had tweaked from the first time I went and saw it which was kind of fun. It is such a high quality show with amazing messages and I am SO GLAD that I got the chance to see it twice. So everyone, if you haven’t seen Hamilton yet, just fly to London to see it!!! πŸ˜‰

Wednesday

I’m apologizing up front because at this point I’m not going to have a lot of pictures to share because many of these things I had already previously done and had taken plenty of pictures!!
Wednesday morning was spent in South Kensington. We popped over to the V&A Museum and the 2 hours we gave ourselves there was definitely not enough time to get through everything. But I really love that museum and was so happy my family got to see it because they had never seen it before. And everything we didn’t get through… a reason to go back! We had to leave when we did because we had a date with Afternoon Tea at 12:30 at the Orangery in Kensington Palace! That’s right, we had tea at a royal palace.IMG_1566
I know I say this every time I do tea, but I seriously wish I could do this every day. Also, this place was amazing. Unlimited tea, hot chocolate, scones, pretty much anything for less than 30 pounds each! And in the beautiful serene atmosphere of the Orangery you really did feel like royalty!
When we finished, we walked around the palace grounds a little bit and then headed back to the Natural History Museum. My only experience in London this time with the Natural History Museum was at the beginning of Fall Break for every single child in London and it was a little overwhelming. This time we went in the back way and made our way through more of the exhibits so that I was able to see a lot more and really appreciate it more! And of course we ended with the dinosaurs. And the blue whale. I’m looking at you Dad πŸ˜‰
We had already done quite a bit of walking in that we had walked a mile to the palace and back from it, but our walking had only just begun for this day. Through a few miscalculations, I caused us to have to walk like 13 miles that day. And of course it was the day I had chose to wear heeled boots. So it was a bit of a struggle. But basically if you keep going down the road that the V&A and Natural History Museum face, then you get to Harrod’s. Which of course we went into.
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Oh yeah it was after 3:50pm at this point so everything’s dark…. don’t miss that early sunset one bit
So this brought up the conversation of big London department stores. And I had never actually been to Fortnum and Mason which is a big one. And one of the thing’s they’re famous for is tea. I was trying to find this specific tea blend that I had had at afternoon tea earlier that was AMAZING; Earl Grey with blue flowers (I eventually found a similar one at Whittard Tea… love that place). I also thought it was a lot closer than it was so we trekked all the way through Kensington and past Green Park and basically almost to Piccadilly Circus (really apologizing to my family again here because we went an extra mile… or two…. than I thought we were supposed to go). I did enjoy going in Fortnum and Mason; it has a very classy regal vibe to it while Harrod’s is just dripping in the “I have more money than I know what to do with” vibe. We didn’t spend long there though, because we were hungry. Since we were so close, we popped over to Chinatown for dinner. We enjoyed huge servings of Chinese food, and then, because we hadn’t had enough walking already, walked back in the direction that we had come. Why? Because we wanted to go visit Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland! A bunch of my friends had gone previously and I knew it was a really big thing to go to – we just didn’t really know what it was. We were expecting that it was gonna be like a cute walk through a bunch of fun lights and sip your warm drink while listening to festive music thing. It was really a full blown carnival. Which was fine, except that we really were expecting the first one more. Mom and I got some mulled wine (of course!) and we walked around the entire complex, which was kind of a maze and incredibly huge! There were all sorts of rides and carnival games and stalls and pop up food stands which was fun to walk around in for a little bit, but then I think we all got tired and wanted to go back to a warm and cozy apartment where we weren’t surrounded by people carrying around stuffed animals bigger than themselves (I will never understand…)IMG_1574
On Thursday (the bold heading is not working for me now haha) we took a little day trip to Oxford (link to my previous trip for pictures). It’s always fun to go back there because it feels so much quieter and quainter and it really is a nice escape from London. Plus all of the architecture and college buildings are so beautiful to look at!
Sadly we had to head back to London after a few hours there because there was still so much to do and see in London! The family wanted to go to the British Museum, and I needed to go and check with my phone provider over there because my data had stopped working (turns out they had a glitch in the system which wasn’t showing me that my data had run out, so they gave me 14 days of unlimited data free! 3 Mobile is the way to go everyone!)
Friday
Our last full day in London πŸ˜¦ We spent the morning at Portobello Market Road which is always a fun and colorful visit. Then to reward Tyler for making it through all of the shopping πŸ˜‰ we stopped by Scandinavian Kitchen to pick up some coveted Norwegian chocolate. One of my best finds in London if I do say so myself! We ate lunch at a yummy Mexican place called Wahaca, and then headed to South London to visit the Imperial War Museum. Our time in London was almost out and we knew we wanted to finish the day at the British Museum (on Fridays they’re open until 8pm!) but I really wanted my family to check out the Imperial War Museum! I’m so glad we got the chance to go through it again because it is so well done! I felt like throughout this whole week I was kind of showing off my city – there’s so many wonderful things in London!
Saturday morning we got up bright and early, got our luggage down into the tube station and onto the tube, and took the long journey via the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Airport where our travel went very smoothly all the way back home!
I could do the whole “this trip has really changed me and I will treasure it forever I miss it so much” but I think that’s already been made apparent through all of my posts. I know that I will go back some day, and I have even more of a travel bug than I did before (just ask my mom about me trying to convince her to visit various destinations for Spring Break!). I guess that I’m just really thankful that I had the means to have this experience and had the opportunities that I did (because not everyone does) and now I’m even more ready to get out there and use the skills and experiences that I’ve been given to really be the best I can be!
Thank you so much for following me on this journey, hopefully there will be more in the near future!
Lots of love and Britishness,
-Katie πŸ™‚
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Katie, a senior Biology major, is spending the Fall 2017 semester studying Health & Society at King's College in London through Arcadia University.
Read more from Katie at https://katientheuk.wordpress.com/
Don't miss your opportunity to study or intern abroad! Start your search at http://studyabroad.uark.edu/search/