A blog from our brief time in Edinburgh where me and Dan hiked up to Arthur´s Seat and then a brief flat tour as I was preparing to leave England after three years.
Earlier this year a dream came true when Kostas (a Greek friend of mine who takes amazing instagrams) and I decided to go down to London for a weekend to do the Warner Bros Studio Tour, aka HARRY POTTER EVERYTHING ERMAGERD HELP IT’S TOO MUCH. He hadn’t been to London for a long time so we spent a day seeing the sights by taking the Tube around and popping up for cheeky selfies here and there. I’ve visited London quite a few times, but every time I go back it charms me a little more. A post of the what to see if you only have 24 hours in London coming on the blog soon-ish!
We opted to stay at the Covent Garden Travelodge Hotel, which came to about 30£ a night for the both of us, but gave us a bit more privacy than a hostel would have done. We booked our tickets to the studio tour through the Warner Bros website and our transport through Golden Tours well in advance and after getting on our bus on the day we were off!
After a pretty long bus tour that showed informational videos about Leavesden and the studio we arrived and walked towards the building. Seeing the big stone chess pieces outside and the Harry Potter Studio Tour sign made the butterflies spread throughout my stomach and for a minute I couldn’t believe I was there. For as long as I can remember I would watch the Behind-The-Scenes DVD bonus material and documentaries about how the films were made, desperately wanting to understand the magic. I had dreamed of going to see the sets and now the day was here and I couldn’t believe it.
The experience started as soon as we were queuing to get inside, as Harry’s cupboard under the stairs was there for us to view. It was a little cupboard tangible and detailed. It was THERE. Right there in front of me. I kept gawking at everything, wide eyed and starstruck. As we walked into a little cinema and got to see introduction videos and little behind the scenes clip the butterflies stayed. And when the screen made way for the entrance to the Great Hall I marveled at the craftsmanship of it all.
We walked through the Great Hall and came into the big studio itself. Information, interactivity and complete fangirling came together and I felt like a hopeful little 11 year old again. It had been years since I considered myself a hardcore fan (the fanfic writing kind), but Harry Potter is what made me fall in love with reading and what made me fall in love with England and during the tour I fell back in love with it. Harry may not have been as cute as I thought he was when I was 13, but the magic was still there and the feeling of nostalgia was strong.
It’s difficult to imagine the detail that actually went into the films, even the many details you never see, especially in Dumbledores office and the Weasley Burrow. So many little things make up a set and many of them never even make it on screen, but still had to be hand crafted. The scale models, the concept art, the green screen techniques and the animatronic creatures were all amazing pieces of work within their own fields. We got to wander through a scale model of Diagon Alley, complete with fully stocked shop windows and moving effects, which made my day, and then we got to the huge model of Hogwarts. Wow. I have no words and can only bow down to whoever created such a magnificent piece of art. Because there is no doubt that the Harry Potter films are art. People can argue “mindless entertainment” if they want, but they would be wrong. The stories J.K. created are beautifully complimented by artists within many many fields.
It was honestly one of the highlights of the year for me, but oh how I wish it was all real and that my letter from Hogwarts had arrived when it was promised. I bet I wasn’t the only heartbroken 11 year old who had to realise that she would forever be a muggle and realised it even more so when she found herself standing in front of 4 Privet Drive, wishing with all her might it was real and not imaginary.
I got a photo of myself in front of the Knight Bus and Privet Drive, got to walk through the wibbly-wobbly bridge from Deathly Hallows and drink Butterbeer, and even snagged a few goodies from the (arguably overpriced) gift shop. I did the whole tour, but I didn’t wanted to leave. I felt like I could have been there for hours upon hours, just wandering the sets and trying to keep my curious hands away from all the beautiful props.
We visited Leavesden before they had the Hogwarts Express set and they also have wonderful seasonal themes for the tours so I do think I have to go back sometime, but what an experience! Have you been to the WB Studio Tour? What was our favourite part? 🙂 Xxx
I’m hard at work reading for my Literature Reivew (the first part of my Dissertation to be handed in – you can tell I’m scared by the capital letters) but I squeezed in the time to film this quick video about making friends while studying abroad!
Hope you’re having a grand week! Xxx
It’s been a while since the last time I talked about my thoughts and feelings around being in a long distance relationship. I shared my initial thoughts on being in an LDR and since then there have been some ups and some downs, but essentially my thoughts are the same. Long distance relationships are not easy. But they are worth it.
There have been days where the sadness is so overwhelming that it cripples me. Days where nothing can soothe the ache in my chest that cries out for the man I love. Days where I want to give up and escape from the entire situation, because honestly, it’s one of the most difficult situations I have ever been in. But, here’s the thing. As long as we both talk to each other we can get through every bout of sadness. We talk and we realize that we are not as alone as we think. The learning curve is steep and to maybe help some of you guys to deal with it too I thought I would share some of the things that help me deal with it.
- Communication is Key
This has been repeated to us all more times than we can count, but it’s easy to forget. You have to talk. You have to be more honest than you have ever been, even if it hurts. The person on the other end of the phone won’t be able to tell that you’re having a bad day so you will have to spell it out to them to get the support people in LDR so often miss. There is no getting around the fact that when you can’t hug it out you have to talk it out. To keep the connection alive you have to learn how to communicate on a whole new level and it won’t be the easiest lesson to learn, but it will be a valuable one.
- Don’t Forget Your Hobbies (Or Get New Ones)
It will be easy to either replace the time you spent with your significant other with other things or to give up on any and all hobbies to spend more time together. The latter will be a subconscious reaction to the change of not seeing them, and a way to cling to the other out of desperation. The former is escapism at its best, but will ultimately lead to you both feeling worse. Neither is a solution. You will need to have hobbies, to have activities that give you energy, to keep busy. You have to live your life separate from the other and there is no getting around it, but you can choose to do positive things. You also have to choose to schedule time for each other in between all the things that make up your everyday life. Snapchat each other funny things throughout the day and keep each other updated between that 2pm lecture and the evening Bar Crawl. Find a balance between fun activities with your friends and Skype time with your significant other.
- Hang Out Together
If you used to hang out two or three days a week and now only Skype for an hour or two once a week you’re obviously going to feel the lack of contact. In periods you will both be busy (see previous point), but you will both have a lot of downtime at home and you may feel like you don’t want to bother the other if they’re busy. Ignore that feeling. If you study, Skype each other while you’re both sat at home studying or if you work, keep each other company while making dinner. If the time difference makes this impossible, try improvising. He can have breakfast while you have lunch. Or you can have an evening drink while he has his morning coffee. Watch TV-Shows together online and hang out. You don’t have to talk constantly while you have Skype on just like you wouldn’t talk constantly if they were right next to you. Let them be your friend and companion in the same way they would be if they were physically closer.
- Don’t Fear Growing
One of the things that I fear the most is that the growing we both will do this year will make us grow apart. Growing, learning and changing is inevitable, especially when one part moves abroad for the first time and the other is on the cusp of a new stage in life. The key here is to not fear growing. Don’t try to stifle the change that will happen in your LDR partner and the change that will happen between the two of you because that just breeds bitterness. Try instead to grow in positive ways and to grow together, while apart. Encourage the other to challenge themselves and challenge yourself a little bit more ever day. Try to become a better version of yourself and channel that into your relationship.
Just over three months into my LDR and there’s been hard days and there’s been amazingly loved up days. Writing this down really helped me focus my thoughts and having something to look back on to keep thinking productively even on bad days is good. To come out on the other side of an LDR stronger and in a better relationship than when it started it’s important to fight for the good moments and learn from the bad ones I think. It’s a continuous process. What’s your best advice for people in Long Distance Relationships? Xxx
I recently had a bit of a financial heart attack. For a couple of hours I feared for my future and cursed my country and questioned the point of student finance when it doesn’t even finance my studies. See, the exchange rate between the Norwegian Krone and the British Pound went from about 9,50 kroner to the pound to 11,50 kroner to the pound in a year and a half. Then, on december 16th 2014 (couldn’t find an English source for this, only Norwegian ones, but here is a translated version) we had a massive drop that has since then only kept dropping, putting the Norwegian Krone at an all time low. One pound costs 25,5% more Krone than it did just a year ago.The Krone has dropped from 11.50 to 13 kroner to the pound in the last 6 months alone.The exchange rate has never been this bad, and because the Norwegian oil fund is less worth by the day it keeps falling.
I pay an international student turition fee and because international tuition fees
(the fact that I don’t get to pay EU fees when we’re a part of the EEA because a former Norwegian government threw away students rights during trade negotiations is an entire rant on it’s own) at English universities are usually horrendously high my tuition fees have skyrocketed. A year ago I would have payed 50 000 NOK less in tution fees than I have to now, soley because of the exchange rate. 50 000 NOK is a lot of money. I could travel the world for 50 000 NOK. Or get three return flights to Australia. Or go on a luxury 3 week holiday. Or go to Vietnam on a 12 day Contiki experience… twice.
It is therefore also unfortunate that these 50 000 kroner is what I have to cover myself because Lånekassen (Literally BorrowBox, the Norwegian student Finance system) doesn’t cover it. They have a maximum loan sum you see, and though I would have stayed well below it had the exchange rate stayed stable, I am now well above it, though the british GBP sum hasn’t changed. GAAAAAAAH FRUSTRATION. This means that I probably won’t be able to travel as much as I was hoping to because the money I make from my part-time job and three months of work during the summer will go straight to try and cover my expenses.
Life threw me a bit of a curveball here because of the world economy changing (which is interesting, but also terrifying) and I’m not happy about losing my travel money, but I have now resigned myself to the fact that there is nothing I can do about the situation. Zilch. I will just have to accept that most of my Norwegian maintanence loan will go into the tuition fees account instead of my rent, get a part-time job and make it work. I’m not able to make lemonade out of this situation, but I can at least bite the sour lemon and try to make the best of it. And I’m sure learning a lot about exchange rates and how to speculate in money.
Let’s pray the exhange rates improve over the next month, or at the very least that they don’t get any worse.