Let's Go Get Some Bangers & Mash

London 2012-2013


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The memories created, the months ahead

It’s been two and half months since I last wrote. I guess you could say I’ve been falling a bit short of my every two week goal set out at the beginning of my time abroad. Even though my blogs have stopped, life has kept up its steady barrage of the extraordinary, and after yesterdays events in Boston the saddening as well. Thankfully everyone I know in Boston and at BC is safe, and my plans to run the marathon next year are even more fervent than they were before. My thoughts and prayers are with everyone in Boston. Stay safe!

Now to update you on my life abroad. As of March 25 I am finished with classes. The exam period begins on May 20, so I have been diligently studying every waking moment of my travels. In SpainI spent time reading over economic policy on my friends beachside villa, taking in the rays of La Costa Del Sol while sipping on vintage Rioja. In Paris where I currently reside, I am crushing out finance problem sets on picturesque parisian cafes, experiencing to the best of my humble abilities what it’s really like to live La Vie Bohème.

If you were about to stop reading fearing this was going to be another my life is a fairytale post with those last two sentences you are not alone…I can’t believe I was able to write such bullshit. Here is the reality…I did go to Spain to visit one of my best friends from home; like normal this year work was not the priority.  Shortly after our arrival to Malaga we contracted a horrible stomach virus that turned most of the storied coastal stay into a sickness followed by drawn out recovery. I do currently reside in Paris in a nice little 7th floor walk up in the 2nd. But the stay has been far from simple as I stress about tragedy at home in Boston while I try to cope with my unfettering desire to ignore work as exams fast approach and dealing with the inevitable reality that life is bound to take a drastic change yet again.

The spring semester went very quickly, and London has provided its share of distractions as well, mostly in the form of annoying friends from universities not far away from the LSE.  I’m feeling a little bit distraught that my time in London is coming to a swift end, and I am hoping that one day soon I will be able to call London home again.

The world has been my oyster for the past year…I’ve seen countless countries, made new and interesting friends, delved in and out the romantic side of life,  and secured a coveted summer internship  at one of the most well known companies in the world. Yet through this entire experience so far the lesson that sticks with me most is a simple one…finding what makes you happy in life is a journey that has a always has definite beginning but never a definite end.

I’ve had a lot of things go my way this year and a few things work out a bit differently than expected. I am enthusiastic about the future…I’m 20 years old, healthy, and enjoying myself in the best cities in the world. However, I’d be lying to you if I told you that I was not  scared of fucking wasting all these gifts that have been given to me, and that I am at times doubtful that I’ll succeed the goals I have envisioned.

This year has introduced me to people who have genuinely touched my life, and people I would certainly have not befriended as my previous self. I still have a 6 more weeks of my time abroad before I move on to the NYC chapter of my life. I can’t tell you what will come of those 10 weeks or the 18 months before I graduate from Boston College, but I am thinking about the future a lot these days and wanting certainty at every step. And in my quest  for a certain plan, the only thing I  have realized for certain is that the bread in paris is absolutely out of this world.

 


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…well that was a quick two months

Hi…decided to make well delayed blog appearance from Firenze, Italy!

It has been nearly two months since my last blog post, and that means I am well into my second semester abroad. Classes will be ending in a 6 weeks. I will have 5 weeks for exam preparation/traveling and then 4 exams spread out over a six week exam period. School is definitely winding up, and as soon as I get back from Florence I’ll be hitting the library hard. I’m hoping that if all goes well I will be finished with school by May 31…ready to start my next adventure. Florence is an amazing city. I’m visiting my friend Dave and his girlfriend Elise  from BC, and I have realized that the italian life is something to envy. Dave gets up every morning, takes espresso at the local cafe, walks across the Arno, attends class in an old time palazzo, and then spends the day alternating between gelato shops, museums, small tuscan hill towns, and great italian dinners. London is amazing and I wouldn’t trade the city and my experiences in it for the world. But Call me jealous…I’m okay with that. 

In other news, I’m going to finally pick up that part time job I mentioned in my first blog post. I’m calling it a mental renaissance of such. In the last two weeks my life has been turned completely on its head, and my desires for the near future require I make some money over the next few months. Sadly, bills have to be paid. 

As many of you probably know, for the last year and a half I’ve been intent on landing a investment banking internship for this upcoming summer. I went through all of the applications, had several first round and final round interviews, and this past week found out that my number one choice would not be moving forward with my application. I thought I would have been devastated; the decisions I made and the work I put in my sophomore year and my junior year at LSE were all influenced by my desire to land a junior year investment banking internship. And as cliché as it may sound, the taste of failure at a school as dedicated to finance as LSE made me realize how much more to life exists beyond the confines of financial services. At the same time I realized that even though I am still awaiting decisions from several banks, it might be more beneficial to my life to spend the time traveling this summer. One of my best friends from BC, an amazing girl by the name of Cristy Garciamendez, couldn’t be happier. We’ve both had this realization that we are 20 years old and already sick of living out our lives for the CV. It’s not an enjoyable existence. It’s actually quite fucking deplorable. 

Where will we go? At the moment I’m not particularly sure, but I’m inspired to venture towards Asia, possibly WWOOF’ing (Willing Worker On Organic Farm) through several countries along the way. If you have any thoughts let me know. 3 months is a long time to travel, but I can’t wait! Get ready Cristy, our lives will never be the same :) 


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Study abroad is a vacation right?

Its been a little over three weeks since I last wrote a post, and since that time my life has turned into a real life soap opera. I’m at the moment writing this post from San Francisco. A week before the end of the semester I received a phone call from a bank in NYC. They requested I come back to the states to interview for an internship, and I was Stateside in a matter of days. They even paid for my flight back home to San Francisco. The interview went very well indeed, and hopefully it works itself out into an offer soon enough. I’ll be back in the Empire State for more interviews from January 7-11, and back to London on January 13.

This month long hiatus from the study abroad life has given me an opportunity to reflect upon my experiences, and sketch out some goals/ideas to live by for my next six months. I will list them in bullet format below. Please feel free to comment.

1. Stop treating study abroad as a vacation!

But actually this is the biggest problem I’ve noticed after the first semester. I was spending way too much money, not working out, partying every night, and not paying attention to my schoolwork. Let’s be real here, 90 day vacations are great but if I continue at this pace my life will be a complete joke by June.

2. Be wary of study abroad romance…it will never workout in the long run, and perhaps even the short run too.

My Paris friends, you know what I’m talking about.  My London friends, you know what I’m talking about as well. Keep the romance casual, have fun, and everyone make sure to be safe (I have someone in mind when I say this, and no its not you David)!

3. Recruiting from abroad is an absolute bitch.

Make sure you know what your getting into if you want to go into anything competitive (cough cough…finance). It’s been tremendously difficult to recruit from abroad, and I’ve been back and forth between London and NYC more times than I would like to admit. Even then, banks are afraid of study abroad students. It’s like we’re fucking lepers or something.

4. Balance your budget!

Make sure to spend all of your money on travel, food, and alcohol. Anything else are extras that you must go without. Also, the whole getting on skype and asking your parents for money thing sucks. Do it with pride! Or get a job. I’m planning on doing both :)

Thats all for now. Can’t wait to get back to London and see all my peeps. And the traveling is going to be awesome!


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London you may have my body, but Paris you’ve always had my heart

Can you fall in love with a city? Can a city be so seductive and charming that it abducts your soul and captures your heart, provoking such mystery and desire like no other city has done before?

Paris, my friends, is that city. It is the city of lights. It is the city of love. The city of dreams.  And on my return, nearly three years after my first visit, I instantly fell victim to the majestical beauty that is  Paris.

Photos will be posted soon! I’ve been a little crazy the last week and haven’t had the energy to upload them on my computer. Yeah, lame I know! I’ll also be headed home for xmas, and I’ll be passing through Boston on my way back to London so I look forward to seeing you all there. Stay tuned for pictures!


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And those Brits were mean, mean people!

Let me paint a picture for you…I walked off the train, backpack in hand looking ragged and derelict, hoping for some semblance of rest in the near future. Bests estimates, per the distinct clock tower in the distance put the time at around 9pm, making this day roughly 15 hours old. I walked out of the train station and marched onward, but apparently not very convincingly. A man whose long flowing speckled gray beard made him, at least in my mind, the long lost relative of Gandalf walked up to me and very politely asked the question, to which I shuddered, not because of the question, “Ayee you look lost, where might ye be headed?” but because it was the most delicious, embracing accent I had ever heard. As Dorothy would have said, “Toto, were not in Kansas anymore…We’re in Ireland!”  Fuckin’ aye!

Thankfully, Gandalf gave me the right directions. And who would have guessed, I was on my way to a pub. In Temple Bar of all places…Farrington’s to be exact, where I would meet my friend studying at UCD. I made it. We drank and then we drank some more and guess what we drank some more. All that can be said about my first hours in Dublin is “welcome to Ireland!”

It was quite the introduction and I learned quickly that Guinness is a synonym, well basically the only word, for water. The next day was a sightseeing day. Sean, my friend from BC and my host, and I woke up. You might be surprised (it’s a shocker!) but the number one tourist destination in Ireland is the Guinness storehouse, and I can go to my grave with the knowledge that I, John Morrison, had Guinness for breakfast. I may have had it for lunch and dinner too but we can ignore that fact. After our belly’s were ingratiated with Arthur Guinness and his famous brew we headed on to the rest of the tourist stuff…Trinity College, Kilmainham Goal (those brits were very mean in the early 20th century), St. Stephen’s Green, etc. And then we went to another pub, this time with live Irish music. The rest of the night was amazing. We ended up going out with a few other BC people, but sometimes What happens in Ireland stays in Ireland. I’ll leave the rest to your imagination.

Day three of the adventure had me headed to Belfast. Yes, Belfast, the place where car bombs liked to detonate on occasion and the catholics and protestants used guns instead of hosts for most of their lives. The troubles, as they call it, have ceased since 2000 I couldn’t have been more excited to learn about the tense history that surrounded this once contentious and hostile city. I got on the train and met two friends from LSE at the Global Village hostel. Side note,  If you ever fancy a trip to Belfast make sure to stay at the Global Village. Those guys are awesome, and I’ll be writing a review on hostel world shortly!

We, the girls and I, decided to take an adventure to the Coast on Saturday, and like most college students we booked a cheap tour at the last minute to go see the giants causeway and the Atrim coast. My pictures are below because words cannot fully express the sheer beauty my eyes took in that day. The rugged, hardened coastline, the brash wind whipping on your whiskers (it is no shave november after all), and the sounds of crashing waves made life, even if just for a moment, a little bit surreal.

Anyways the tour went the entire day. When we got back to the hostel we basically passed out. And our last day in Ireland was about to be upon us. That morning, I decided to delve into Belfast’s violent and usually misunderstood religious history by taking a Black Cab tour of the peace wall and various murals painted during the troubles of Northern Ireland. It was a history lesson for sure… As a theology major I understood that protestants and catholics have always had disagreements, mostly over differing religious practices and biblical interpretations but I never knew the Irish history behind on the most deadly battlefields in the last 50 years until I went on the Famous Black Cab Tour. It is surely something not to be missed. After that I went to the Titanic museum, a truly great look into Belfasts history as a ship building behemoth, and my time in Ireland came to a swift close. Britain and the LSE classes were once again in my sights. I couldn’t ignore them, but I could have one more Guinness at Belfast’s oldest pub, The Crown, to quench my thirst for Ireland one last time.

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My First Trip Outside London

I’ve decided that there are no moments of rest when you are studying abroad. About as soon as I settled into my final class schedule last week I began to realized how behind I was in all of my work. The expect a lot of reading  in three of my classes and weekly problem sets in the fourth. So the last 8 days have been dominated by my need to catch up on my work and the desire to do anything and everything to distract myself from this reality.

Naturally, I decided to take a day trip with a friend from BC to Cambridge this past Sunday instead of spending the day doing work. It was time and money well spent because, no offense to Boston College, Cambridge is the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen…it looks more like a giant estate than a university. I recommend a visit for anyone who appreciates old victorian structures and perfectly manicured lawns, and The Eagle pub in Cambridge was a great place to have lunch and a drink (the US and British airmen stationed nearby whose signatures grace the ceiling in WWII would agree). It truly is a town dominated by the University, and I can’t wait to check out its main rival Oxford.  Perhaps I might even be able to get a degree from one of these fine institutions in the future :P  

I’ve posted a few pictures below. Enjoy! I need to get back to studying now…still lots more to do and essay week is coming up rather quickly. 

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So this past week was full of awesome London surprises, and academics as well. 

I finally decided on a class schedule, and it is vastly different from the one I posted two weeks ago. I’m taking two economic history classes, an economics class, and a Finance Class. They are  EH240: Britain in International Context Since 1945, EH207: China Since 1850, EC230: Economics in Public Policy, and FM212: Intro to Corporate Finance and Investments. After two weeks of class I think its safe to say that the classes here share absolutely no similarity to classes at universities in America. They are good, but conducted with a lot less guidance and kind of a laissez-faire attitude. Also, the LSE undergrads (especially in Finance) kind of look down on the general course students and act like we don’t know anything…seems that the British are still underestimating Americans nearly 250 years later :) It’s also kind of funny because almost all of them want to work for US companies once they graduate. 

I’ve also been attending a ton of career events the past two weeks. All of the top investment banks and boutique firms have been/will be coming to campus in October and November, so it makes for a rather hectic period. Almost all of the events must be booked weeks in advance through the career center. This is quite new for me because all of BC’s events, aside from a small number of Finance club events, are open to anyone. 

Aside from classes and recruitment, I’v still had a chance to venture to a few new places.  A few of my General Course friends, Rebecca and Katie, and I went to market wandering in the Shoreditch area of East London. We went to the Brick Lane Market (Food and stuff) , Spittlefields Market (Posters, clothes, and stuff), and Columbia Flower Market (self-explanatory). I’ve really become a fan of all the markets in London. It’s so much more fun to go market hunting than go to a giant awl-mart type store. On Thursday I finally went back to Borough Market, London’s famous food market, and so far it’s my favorite place in London…fat kid at heart. This past Saturday, we also went on a tour of the Parliament building, and  afterwards grabbed some great crepes and coffee. 

Next week I’m hoping to go explore North London, Camden Town, and finally go see Buckingham Palace. It’s been three weeks and I still haven’t ventured over there, and while I’m at it I’m going to try and stop by Hyde park, which is apparently the biggest park in London. 

That’s all for now. 

Cheers, 

 

John 

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