Lea

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Notes on Notting Hill

Notes on Notting Hill

I don’t know what it is about autumn but as soon as the dark and never-ending overcast takes over the days, I just feel so tired, worn out and in need for a new shot of inspiration to keep me going. That and many, many cups of hot chocolate. The good Danish one, which my mum sends in care packages from home. Nothing else will do.

I have been so busy trying to keep up with work for Uni and getting over a period of illness that I haven’t been a very active blogger lately. I simply haven’t been able to find the time but I want to change that. read more

What I’ve been up to

What I’ve been up to

It’s raining today. I’m currently sitting in my living room, holding a cup of steaming, milky tea, listening to the fall of the rain through the open window and looking out on the grey clouds. Yesterday was amazing, a heat wave at the end of October, who would have thought? I remember a similar day last year in mid-October; the first day perhaps, that I really felt as if I belonged in London, as if Bloomsbury was now mine too.Yesterday I enjoyed the welcoming heat wave as I sat outside on my little piece of rented front garden, sipping tea and working hard on my novel under the burning heat of the sun, finally enjoying that I had a bit of spare time to get on with it.

So, where have you been? you might ask. As the date on my last post tells you I have been on a bit of a break from blogging while I settled into my new life and post-grad studies. It has been a less intense but a much slower process of settling down this time and I have been spending a lot of my time, trying to get used to living here away from the noise, traffic and masses that I so wanted to escape when I lived in Bloomsbury. I have to admit that I miss it, despite finally being freed of that claustrophobic stressed out feeling I always had when I lived there; I miss the life on the streets, I miss Saturday evenings at one of the cinemas at Leicester Square and the proximity to all the museums. I miss being able to walk down to Soho or Chinatown whenever I want and having Gordon Square, Russell Square and St. Georges Gardens as my nearest local green places, when the weather is good and I want to read outside.  I miss living in the student house so much, our pizza parties and movie evenings in the common room late into night, or meeting my house mates in the kitchen in the mornings before our classes, everyone still wearing their pyjamas. read more

Happy Anniversary, Lea!

Happy Anniversary, Lea!

Yesterday was a very special day, for the 16th of September marked the day of my 1st Anniversary of moving to London. Exactly one year ago yesterday I said a very difficult goodbye to my parents at Kastrup Airport [CPH] and walked teary-eyed to the gate that would send me on a flight to England. I remember being more scared than excited that day. I remember procastinating packing my suitcases (for a control freak who loves everything to do with sorting, organising and packing, this is rather impressive!). And I remember most of all, the sadness, not excitement I felt as I said goodbye to my parents, even though I would see them again only 6 weeks later.

Because it is a massive deal to move out of the childhood home you grew up in. It is a big deal to leave your country. And to begin studies at a new university when you have finally settled in at the old one. Not to mention what a big, massive deal it is to start your life completely from scratch. When you leave your country the way I did, you have to learn things all over again. You do not have your own language, customs and manners, friends, family, home and neighbourhood to rely on. You have yourself and in the beginning before you make those first amazing friends, that is the only person you can rely on to help you get through this. It is scary to be independent and have so much responsibility for your own life, – and also very liberating. You see, I found that I do pretty well on my own and that relying on myself to solve problems and make me happy is actually very empowering. read more

Holiday Snaps from The Cabin By The Woods

Holiday Snaps from The Cabin By The Woods

Our red-painted wood cabin by the edge of a forest in Sweden has over the years become a sanctuary to me. While I lived in London I longed to come back to the tranquillity and stillness of this place. Unlike our house in suburban Copenhagen the cabin has a large, wild garden, where we spend most of our time when the weather is up for it or which we look out on from the windows when it’s not.

There is an old apple tree in the garden that brings no fruit but blooms with the most delicate, blushing white flowers in spring and every year wild pink and white foxglove and raspberry bushes, including yellow ones spread over more and more parts of the garden. My parents have planted a small herb garden that includes oregano, thyme and curry and they grow redcurrant and potatoes as well. read more

Summer reads

Summer reads

To me summer has always meant one thing: spending as many hours as possible reading, in a deck chair in the garden in the sun, in the cooling shade beneath a big tree or in the quietness of my room. The last two years at Uni have kept me busy even in my “summer holidays”, which meant I haven’t been able to pick and read all the books I wanted to. But this year I’m making up for that! I’m pretty sure my dad will frown at me when he sees the pile of books I insist on bringing with me to Sweden but how could I possibly choose between them?!

This is what I have picked out to read this summer: read more

Coming Back Home

Coming Back Home

I’ve come back home! I’ve actually been home for a week but it has taken me some time to digest what that really means. After flying home last Sunday I needed a few days to adjust (back?) to my life here, to figure out how I feel about moving away from Bloomsbury and back home to a place that has seemed very distant while I was in London, a home in my periphery; It was still there, but just out of sight and out of my reach.

After London, the whole town seems so quiet and sleepy, it feels almost disturbingly boring, I have to admit, and the long rows of similar looking terrace houses look so tiny, like doll’s houses and the streets are eerily spacious and less frequented by driving cars, at least compared to streets such as Euston Road and Tottenham Court Road. read more

Conclusions

Conclusions

I have arrived full circle. On exactly this day 9 months ago I arrived in London to an empty, hotel-like room with a cabin trolley and a suitcase as my only belongings. Today I have begun repacking those same pieces of luggage and staring at yet-again empty shelves and bare walls, now reversing the same motions I went through when I moved here. With only 7 more days in London and only 5 of those in my beloved Bloomsbury, it is time for me to make status and find some kind of conclusion to my time as an exchange student here in London, however difficult that might be.

I came here equally excited and scared (ok, probably mostly just terrified!) and although London and especially UCL welcomed me to this place, it wasn’t always easy or struggle-free, especially not in the beginning. Problems with opening a bank account or trying to find a shop not too far away to buy kitchenware, something which at home would have been easily sorted with a passport in hand or a trip to Ikea suddenly turned into complicated tasks that left me feeling very homesick. Because everything would have been so much easier at home and if not, at least I would have had my family and friends there to help me. I don’t think I ever really realized how lost I (and many of my fellow international students) really felt those first few weeks of trying to tread water. read more

The last adventures

The last adventures

My last weeks in London ended up being rather busy ones, as I packed everything down, moved boxes to the boyfriend’s for storage and went on a (so far unssuccesful) hunt for a new place, where we can live together in the fall. I had planned to do a couple of posts on some of the thing’s I was up to but ended up not having the time to do it before my big move home. But I still had time to squeeze in a last few trip and experiences!

These adventures included: read more

A day in Kew Gardens – Part 1

A day in Kew Gardens – Part 1

My head seems to be filled with gardens lately, I’m constantly hunting out green spaces in the city. When I’m not stopping by Gordon Square or spending a quiet afternoon reading in St Georges Gardens, I’m doing things like going to the Garden Museum like I did the other day. I’m not a particularly green-fingered person and I don’t know much about botany but there is something about living in a student house with no garden, backyard, balcony, terrace or patio that makes you automatically seek out what you don’t have.

At home in Denmark we have a small garden and our cabin in Sweden is surrounded not only by a big, green garden but also by the wild, dark forest and I really miss having access to these. The difference here in London is that I don’t have a place of my own but have to ‘make do’ (like everyone else) with the public green spaces scattered all over the city. At least it’s not that difficult to find one, especially not here in Bloomsbury. read more

Green as in Greenwich

Green as in Greenwich

It quickly became evident when I moved here that I would miss two (to me) very important things; quiet places and good walking areas without too much traffic. It also quickly became obvious that these two things would not be easy to find, despite everything else that London offers. But after 8 months I have finally found a place here that is both quiet and absolutely perfect for long, uninterrupted walks.

When my parents visited last week we agreed on taking a day-trip to Greenwich, a place I had been in once before with the boyfriend but which I wanted to see more of with my parents. read more

The Last Visit

The Last Visit

Last week was an exciting and busy one as my parents came to visit me for the very last time while I live here. It has taken me a few days to process everything that we did together, not to mention sort through the many (hundred!) photographs I took. I’m finding myself equally saddened to leave this place and excited about going home to Denmark and to spend some quiet weeks in our cabin in Sweden, away from the never ceasing noises and movement of the big city.

I have finally adjusted to my newfound freedom and am finding myself spending most of my time hanging out with friends and seeing as much as possible during my last weeks here. My parents let me in charge of planning our holiday week together but as we saw too many things to describe in just one blog post, here is a (not so short) summary of how I spend the week: read more

Graveyard adventure

Graveyard adventure

One of my absolute favourite places here in London is the many squares, parks and gardens that create an often peaceful sanctuary away from noise and traffic, a place where you can take a walk, get some fresh air or read in quiet on a bench beneath the tall London plane trees.

For many weeks i have had St Pancras Gardens written on the list of things I wanted to explore the minute I had the time but have been waiting for the right weather to do it, especially as the heat of the last few days have made me seek the coolness of my room (I know, it’s super spoiled to be moaning about the heat and humidity but I’m from Denmark! We are not used to 24 degrees at the end of May). So when I woke up this morning to a cloudy, overcast sky perfect for photography, I knew what I was going to do. read more

Graduating!

Graduating!

Last Wednesday morning, the day after my last exam I woke up to a freedom I haven’t had for months, maybe even years, while studying at Uni. At first it felt a bit terrifying and unfamiliar. It feels absolutely surreal that I am done with my undergraduate education and I don’t think I have truly realised what that means yet. I felt a bit lost at first, because for a long time I have had every day meticulously planned out to be able to stay ‘on the time schedule’ in order to get everything done in time and suddenly there was no plan but instead endless amounts of time and freedom. Now when I wake up in the morning here in my room in London, I can do whatever I want. Anything.

What I want to do with all that free time is to take time to hang out with all my housemates and my friends before I move. I want to read some of the many books treasures I’ve found in bookshops around here. I want to find my own favourite café and sit there and drink earl grey tea for as long as I want and write in my brand new, green moleskine notebook. And when not hanging out with friends, reading or writing, I would like to explore the city, go on new adventures, and maybe even get a little bit lost. Being lost means finding things, places and feelings you didn’t know you wanted to find. read more

What life has been like lately

What life has been like lately

You might have noticed that the blog has been a little (ok, a lot!) quiet lately. The reason is that I have been stuck inside in front of my desk, first writing essays and later revising for exams. Counting today there are only 5 days left before my last exam, which will also mark the last exam of my undergraduate education and will mean that I will have unofficially finished my degree in Comparative Literature.

So, what I have been doing? I’ve been writing an essay on a piece of Scandinavian autofiction from Sweden, an essay on the subjectivity of migrant literature and an assignment of translation from the Scandinavian languages into English. Today I wrote myself through 3 more translations at a desk exam and after that I felt so pleased with myself that I went straight across the street to the Waterstones on Gower St to treat myself. Note to self: Treating yourself doesn’t come cheat. Ok, so I kind of let myself loose in the bookshop and it was a good thing I was too busy falling in love with my new books that I didn’t even notice how much I paid for them. Yeh… You don’t want to know how much. It was kind of ridiculous but I love my new books and I can’t wait to read them after I finally, finally get myself a proper holiday when all of this is over. read more

For the love of art

For the love of art

Do you remember last month when I wrote about the cool surprise of the temporary art exhibition, which EY had put up at the UCL campus?

Well, they had a competition on Twitter where you could win your favourite piece from the exhibition and I actually won! My prize was a signed limited edition screenprint by Marco Lawrence’s Floating City art piece. I absolutely love the blue and red colour, not to mention all the little houses, which somehow reminds me of a Winter Wonderland city. I think it must be because the house roofs look like they are covered in snow and the diagonal, checked background reminds of snow crystals. It feels really luxurious to have that kind of art in my little student room. read more

Taking a day off

Taking a day off

The freedom experienced right after weeks of essay writing always make me feel more free than at any other time. I always have Wednesdays off but usually I have to so much work to do that it never becomes the day off it was meant to be.

Last Wednesday I found myself not having any obligations, so I gave myself a day off from everything. The weather has been so beautiful lately and that day was no different. As it was a sunny and surprisingly warm Spring day (which happens to be my favourite time of year and not just because of my birthday!), I decided to spend my day at some of my favourite places around the neighbourhood. read more

A Birthday

A Birthday

To me, birthdays are one of the most important events of the year along with Christmas. I absolutely LOVE birthdays, both others and my own but for the very first time in my life, I was going to be away on my own. Sure, I have had many a birthday in Sweden but they have always included family or at least my parents. This year I had to face my 23rd birthday in London, which fortunately isn’t one of the worst places to be if you want to celebrate. Another advantage of being split between two countries is the fact that I ended up celebrating my birthday about 4 times!

When I was home in Denmark a week before the actual day, I got my best friends together and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant in my hometown. As always it was absolutely great seeing them again, as I do miss them an awful lot and I will take any opportunity to eat Chinese food (being it my birthday, I got to choose where to eat). read more

Lazy Saturdays?

Lazy Saturdays?

I had a pretty nice weekend if I do say so myself. It is so tempting for me to be lazy on my days off from Uni but I’m trying to get better at going out to explore the city (one of my new year’s resolutions: Work less, explore more).
The boyfriend would not be lured away from the warmth and dryness of my room to go to Covent Garden with me until he realised that a sweets shop with imported sweets were lying just around the corner from the Apple Market.

So off we went, with a camera and an empty hand that should had been holding an umbrella. The rain had stopped for a while and I chose to be positive and hopeful as we walked out the door. Alas, this is London and I should have known better by now. I’ve lived here long enough to know that “clear blue sky” can turn into fierce winds and rain at any moment without prior warning.
Luckily for us, the market is roofed and we managed to stay pretty clear of the rain. There was way too many people for my liking (What on earth made me tempted to go exploring on a Saturday of all days?!) but to balance it off I found the super cute Moomin Shop!
The boyfriend treated me to lunch and we had the most delicious paella. They had not cheated with this, as there was plenty of mussels, prawns and squid in mine and I’m lucky enough that the boyfriend doesn’t fancy prawns so I could have his, too! I’m a big fan of sea food and Spanish food so this was pretty perfect. read more

Cool Surprises

Cool Surprises

This Thursday something really cool happened!

I was really on my way to the library to return some books, when I suddenly stumbled upon something in the main building that caught my attention. It had been raining all day, I was tired after being out walking with a friend and wasn’t really looking forward to go outside in the rain again just to return some books. But I am so glad I had to! read more