Posts Tagged ‘London’

Why You Should Study Abroad: Leah Zarra, London, UK

Monday, October 27th, 2014


Leah Zarra posing in front of a sign for the famous Abbey Road.

Leah Zarra posing in front of a sign for the famous Abbey Road.


“I just loved being so independent and being totally immersed in another city,” says Leah Zarra, 22, a Texas native and Drew University graduate.

Zarra participated in a semester-long study abroad program to London through her New Jersey college back in the fall of 2012. “I couldn’t wait to experience another culture,” she says, “even though London isn’t the first to jump to mind when you think ‘foreign’.”

According to Zarra, the full semester trip to London cost the same amount as a regular, on-campus semester. The trip included: tuition, housing in a flat with other people from her college, and a 2-zone Oyster card—similar to a Metrocard, allowing Zarra unlimited access to the Tube (subway) within specified zones.

When it came to financial resources to help fund her trip, Zarra had it covered.

“I had an annual Dean’s award scholarship all through college, so this carried over to my semester abroad,” she explains.

Zarra was able to take classes such as London Literature, British Political Drama, Modern British History and a required colloquium course. She earned 16 credits studying abroad—more credits than she would have earned in one semester staying on campus in the States.

Zarra and her friends riding the Tube.

Zarra and her friends riding the Tube. (Zarra is second from the right.)

When it came to saving money while abroad, Zarra made sure to budget wisely.

“As college students, we all try to be frugal, so we kept our eyes out for free food and events,” she says referring to her study abroad group. “If you’re looking, they’re easy to find. One professor told us about a group of Hare Krishna monks that served free curry every day. Food is a big one to save on.”

When asked if she would recommend her study abroad program to someone else, Zarra responded with a resounding “yes!”

“I learned so much, and not just in the classroom,” she says. “We didn’t just read famous British authors; our professors took us on walking tours around the city to see where Great Expectations took place, [or] where Virginia Woolf walked every day. As cliché as it sounds, I truly found a piece of myself there.”

Sometimes students take out some loans to study abroad and Zarra believes it’s absolutely worth it.

“Go into it with a positive attitude, and appreciate everything you see,” she says. “Make an effort to appreciate the privileges you didn’t realize you had. You will never have another chance like this.”

The famous Big Ben and Westminster Abbey: one of the many pictures Zarra took on her trip.

The famous Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. One of the many photos Zarra took while on her trip.



Sam Levitz is a graduate of Brooklyn College and went on the CUNY Study Abroad trip to China the summer of 2013. Follow her on Instagram:slevitz

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Something Sweet from Across the Pond: The London Candy Co.

Monday, October 14th, 2013

I had just gotten done with my 11 AM Fiction Lit class. My brain hurt, my eyes were starting to close on their own, and I hadn’t had my coffee yet. It was one of those mornings, and it felt like it would last all day. So, I decided to escape my collegiate walls at the New School and make the short walk to Bleecker Street. A visit to the London Candy Co. might provide just the turn around I needed for this caffeine-less, homework ridden day.

Barely ten minutes went by and I was standing at the front door of a new culture entirely. Spelled out in blue, neon wire was the word “LONDON,” and with a quick glance inside, no further explanation was needed. The store was so colorful! Decked out with bright reds and blues, everything seemed lit up and fun. The shop itself was filled—absolutely, floor to ceiling, filled—with everything and anything English. Don’t be deceived by the title of the store: while there was just about every piece of English candy I could ever imagine, The London Candy Co. is so much more than an ordinary candy shop.

Ready to enter an English candy paradise!

Wall to wall English treats!

Howie, the incredibly friendly manager, who walked me through the ins and outs of the Candy Co, likes to think of this hidden West Village gem more as a British convenience store. “What’s different is that no one else sells this much of a range, we have more stuff than shops you’ll find in England. There’s just so much to offer.” And he isn’t kidding. At a glance, I saw chocolate, gummies, chips (or as the English say, “crisps”) candy bars, mallomars, or the English equivalent, an assortment of English beverages, gift boxes of sweets, and English greeting cards as well as calendars and the like. In addition, this candy/convenience/ English awesomeness store carries Stumptown coffee—they even have cold brew, both a French Roast and a House Blend, on draft, something I’ve never even seen in my multiple years living in New York. As said before, this was at first glance, and I was impressed.

Give your someone sweet, something sweet!

If the actual products of the store weren’t enough, the staff on hand were extremely friendly, helpful, knew their customers, and knew their supply. It was nothing but smiles from the moment I walked in and why shouldn’t there be, we were surrounded by European chocolate! But Howie does prove a point as to why the staff are so lighthearted, “People get excited to come into the store. There’s always positive energy, you don’t get many frowns, always smiles. People are happy to be here and we share that as well, we provide that.”

Meet the gents at The London Candy Co!

And this is what helps to make The London Candy Co. unique. No one does exactly what they do with the attitude in which they do it. Plus, let’s be honest, there can never be too much chocolate. Howie gave me the low down on some of the best and most popular items in the store, including his personal favorites. First was the Cadbury Flake Bar, a chocolate bar with ribbons of deliciousness inside. Then I learned one of the most popular chocolate bars is the Cadbury Crunchie bar: chocolate on the outside, with a honeycomb and toffee center. Howie’s personal favorite happens to be the Galaxy Chocolate, creamier than Cadbury with a crunchy cookie inside. The shop also has a variety of “higher end” chocolate, for those with a more “advanced pallet,” such as Willie’s cacao. In fact, The London Candy Co is the only store in America to even sell Willie’s.

Like I said though, the store has much more than chocolate. Known for their Maynard’s wine gums, jelly babies, unique flavored crisps, such as T-Bone steak, full line of beverages, such as Irnbru—as Howie describes a drink that resembles liquid bubble gum—and so much more, one could spend hours in The London Candy Co and still find new items that tickle their fancy. Whether we Americans like it or not we’re all Anglophiles at heart, infatuated by the accent, the customs, and of course the divine chocolate. Indulging on our curiosity of English culture is definitely worth doing, especially if the indulgence is spent at the Candy Co.

I think the photo explains itself.

Upon leaving, Howie filled up a fresh cup of iced coffee, on draft, and handed me a palm size treat, wrapped in red foil. Only 50 cents at the Candy Co, Howie claims that this is one of the simplest, most amazing treats they have—a Tunnock’s Mallow. Basically, an American mallomar-turned-Brit. I thanked everyone for their hospitality and made my way back to school to prepare for my 2 o’clock class. Sitting in the New School Café, I unwrapped this chocolate treat and dove in. Even as a writing student, I find it difficult to put into words how heavenly this simple English sweet truly was. Coated in silky European chocolate and stuffed with fluffy marshmallow, I felt I could take on the day. Matched with some of the best coffee New York has to offer, my trip to The London Candy Co was not only a sweet escape to an English haven, but it was a much needed pick-me-up for the hectic day ahead of me.

Everyone NEEDS to try one of these--delish!



Daniela Bizzell, Eugene Lang College, The New School University.

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On Watching the Olympics

Monday, July 30th, 2012

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Summer Olympics was held on Friday, June 27th across the pond in London. I, along with billions of people from around the world, witnessed a bizarre spectacle of British history (mostly all happy stuff, no Spanish Armada destroying the British fleet, or the British invading India). It ranged from coal miners emerging from a cave(?) and then moved on to Mary Poppins and a parody of James Bond. The ending, I thought was quite spectacular, considering that London seemed to embrace the dubstep/grime culture that’s been so central to their youth. The social media thing was clever in a way that did not alienate the majority of viewers—except for men and women hailing from certain countries that limit freedom.

Since the opening ceremony, I (like many others) have been keeping an eye on medal counts, and I felt that there was something a bit amiss between the initial celebrations and the celebrations on the podium.

I took a look at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the current medal standings at London. The New York Times actually has a pretty cool interactive map of the medal winners from previous Olympics that, interestingly, lists the countries by number of medals won, not by the number of gold medals won (which would have put China in first place, not the United States).

Here are the current top 10 medal-winning countries from the 2012 Summer Olympics in London:

Here are the top 10 medal-winning countries from the 2008 Summer Olympics:

…and the 2008 interactive map provided by the New York Times:

Do you see a difference? There are obviously countries that consistently dominate in the Olympics. Although it’s still very early in the Olympics 2012, by an extrapolation of data from previous Olympics, it’s pretty clear which nations will be  in the top 10 at the end of the Olympic games.

Here are the top 10 countries from the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens:

…and the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney:

Interesting, isn’t it?

How about one more, from the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta:

Time and time again, you see the same countries place in the top 10. Obviously, the United States hasn’t placed lower than No. 2, and I guarantee that this summer, the US will place first or second (probably second) with China.

But, this isn’t a medals race, no way. The media might focus on the medal count—I mean, we’re all suckers for high numbers—but really, this is a celebration of the achievements these athletes have accomplished.

This is a celebration of the world.

The Olympic Committee has a commission called “The Commission for Culture and Olympic Education” for support and promotion of health, peace, and a better world through cultural exchanges and recognizing cultural diversity.

The Olympic games moved from a competition to an exhibition, successfully incorporating the elements of the arts into the mix. It embraced the presentation of culture through the subjective, the incorporeal attitudes of certain cultures depicted only though the means of sculptures or paintings.

In its very essence, with countries showcasing their best athletes, the participants of the Olympic games are not only competing against one another, they’ve become participants of a global museum; that is, the best athletes are watched and scrutinized and admired, not just as men and women with incredible athleticism, but as part of the cultural exhibit put on show for the world. The athletes become, basically works of art, rather, “sculpture-esque,” and are canonized into the halls of the Olympians.

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