London: Home Away From Home (Oct. 7-22)

The house in Forest Hill

The house in Forest Hill

My third and final trip to London would be by far my favorite. I would see my old flat (C6) from study abroad together for the first time in two years, although I had seen most of them at some point in the summer in visits to their homes or at the house in London. I’d be spending nearly two weeks with them, and those were two weeks at home.

Family breakfast

Family breakfast

At the house in Forest Hill, I have my own key. Fixing an extra cup of tea for me was automatic. We would clean together, cook together – spend pretty much all of our time together drinking tea and chatting and watching television on someone’s computer. I rarely left the house, which was a welcome break from the constant movement of traveling.

Nothing beats that feeling of not seeing someone for a long time but picking up like no time has passed at all. We could talk about anything, be weird around each other. We could cuddle watching TV, chat nonstop or sit in silence without it being weird. When one of us went to the store, everyone else would shout requests, knowing the others would return the favor. “Bring us some munchies,” was regularly shouted before the front door shut.

I cooked a full English for the house

I cooked a full English for the house

We were all quite sick by my second week in the house, and when I got sick later than everyone else, my flatmates would give me their medicine. I got food poisoning before heading to Paris, and my flatmate Boyan brought me vitamin water. When my flatmate Connie left for the weekend to go back to Portugal, she gave me her room (I had been sleeping on a futon in the living room).

Hanging out in the living room (AKA my room)

Hanging out in the living room (AKA my room)

The house was and remains a magical place. It’s not even a sense of welcoming in C6 – to be welcome is to be a guest. I was not a guest – I was home. It was so much my home that when I got back from a two-night trip to Brighton on the coast, Connie welcomed me with “it was weird not having you here.” The sense of belonging I feel with these friends is one of the most beautiful things about my life travels. I consider my flatmates family, and the only thing that makes saying goodbye to them okay is knowing that I will see them again soon, somewhere and sometime unknown.

From our Christmas dinner in 2012

From our Christmas dinner in 2012

Shaunagh and I met up with some friends from Sail Croatia for a night out in West London

Shaunagh and I met up with some friends from Sail Croatia for a night out in West London

Brighton Pier

Brighton Pier

Met up with some girls I met in Budapest at their university in Brighton for a couple of nights

Met up with some girls I met in Budapest at their university in Brighton for a couple of nights

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A Case for Drinking Tea

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I’ve enjoyed three cups of tea (in my Union Jack mug!) in the last few hours while working on my Micro problem set. 

I’ll go ahead and be annoying and mention that I developed a real love for tea over in England, where they really do drink tea all the time. There’s a stereotype for a reason, chaps! Anyways, I’ve realized that aside from its deliciousness, the warm-me-up-from-the-inside feeling I get in my freezing cold house, and its apparent health benefits (see this for more info), drinking tea also regulates and encourages my study schedule!

I fix myself a nice mug before starting my work. It’s a good transitional phase from whatever I was doing (in today’s case, laying in bed for hours) to hard workin’. Now that I’ve got a warm, comforting cup of my favorite drink, I’m zen and ready to get to work.

As I carry on with my work, I sip slowly and diligently, enjoying my work more and more with each delicious mouthful, and then OH MY GOD THE TEA IS GONE WHAT DO I DO?

Well obviously I fix more.

At this point, I’ve probably been working about 30-40 minutes; it’s a great natural time for a break. I leisurely fix my next cup for 10 minutes and then get back to work. It’s like the perfect study-to-break ratio, and at the end of the break, my mind is rested — and I’ve got another cup of tea to get me through the next work session!

So if it’s not for the taste, or to curb your appetite, or for the antioxidants, drink tea for your mind. I assure you – homework is much more enjoyable and finishes much more quickly when you’re sipping on tea.