So, now I am at the airport and this trip is starting to feel like it is real. I have been packing and preparing for a while, but it still didn’t feel real until I got dropped off at the airport. I cannot repack anymore or do any more research. There is no more waiting and guessing what England will be like. In only nine hours I will be touching down at Heathrow airport. They are about to call my part of the plane for boarding, so I’ll continue when I am on the plane.

We have only one hour and twenty-five minutes until we land in London. The flight has been very smooth. I just watched the movie The Help (which was very good-if you haven’t seen it, you should) and then slept for a couple hours. It got light out very early, so it is only 4:20 CST, but it is very bright out and I am pretty awake. The time difference is 6 hours, so when I get there it will be noon. The total flight time is about seven and a half hours. According to the little Tv screen in front of me, we are traveling 537 MPH with a tailwind of 11 MPH. We are 34,999 feet above the earth and it is -53 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The total distance is 4008 miles. Just some stats in case you want to know. 🙂

Now I am in London. I haven’t seen much of the city yet, but I am excited to see everything! I made it from the airport to the hotel with no problems. Paddington station looked just like a London train station straight out of a movie. We have a dinner later tonight with all the students that are in England with IFSA-Butler right now. I will report back in when I have more to tell (and some pictures to show.)

Love to you all back home,

Elephant and Castle (and a whole lot of packing)

There are only two days left before I fly across the pond for the rest of the summer. I am getting ready by packing my suitcase with stuff and my brain with information. Packing has definitely been a process because I want to bring all the things I need, but I need to be able to easily carry all my luggage so that I can go up and down the stairs in the tube on my way to my hotel. Over the last few days, I have rolled, packed, squished, unpacked, re-rolled, re-packed, un-rolled, washed, folded, and re-packed my clothes. It sounds crazy, but I think I am set now. I just have to add a few last minute things on Thursday and I should be set.

As an explanation for the first part of the title, I have to point you to a map of the London tube system. I have looked over the map many times in the last few days to try and get my bearings in the huge city before I go there. I need to get from the airport to the orientation hotel, so I want to know a little bit about where the different tube lines go. The very last stop on the brown line (one of the lines I have to take) is called Elephant and Castle. Part of me really wants to take that train all the way to the end to see if I would really find an elephant and a castle 😉 . My guess is that I probably wouldn’t find them, but I do wonder why the station is named that way. Although I may never make it to Elephant and Castle, I do get to transfer lines at Paddington Station, Oxford Circus, and Tottenham Court Road, which are all perfectly British names.

I am very excited to go this summer, but I am also a little nervous. I am traveling a long way and I really want everything to go smoothly. I have no reason to think that things won’t go exactly as planned, but you never know. I like to think that if any person traveling (especially for eight weeks or more) told me they weren’t nervous at all, they wouldn’t be telling the whole truth.

I am definitely a planner, so it seems weird that although I know where I am going to be for the next eight weeks, I really don’t know much about what I will be doing during that time. I just got the class and trip schedule for the session, so I have a little better idea about what we will be doing and I know I will find out even more when I get to Cambridge on Sunday. I do know that I will be taking three classes and that I will be spending the second weekend of my trip in Scotland.

I am really excited for the three classes I get to take. They are all very different, but they all fit me so well. First off, for the first four weeks,  I am taking a course called Global Issues for Education in the 21st century. This course looks the scariest (at least after looking at the readings on the syllabus), but I am looking forward to seeing how other countries view education. For the second four weeks, I am taking a Shakespeare course. Ever since I switched to being an English major and saw that you could take the Shakespeare requirement abroad, I knew I had to do it. What better way to learn Shakespeare, than in England (and durring the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival 😉 .) Finally, I will be taking one course that spans the full eight weeks–Travel Writing. I have never taken a writing class before and I can’t wait to take this one. The main assignments for this class are writing mini-essays/stories about our trip, so you will get to read those on my blog. Hopefully my writing gets better over the course of this class.

I am really looking forward to sharing this trip with all of you. To my family and friends who have helped me prepare, thank you for all your help. I will see you all when I get back!

P.S. Click on the “Where I’m Going” link on the top of this page. I made a few maps to put things in perspective.

Strawberry Scones

Last Friday I made scones from fresh-picked strawberries. They were delicious. A little different from what I thought they would be based on the recipe, but delicious nonetheless. I got the recipe from one of my favorite food blogs: www.smittenkitchen.com. I always love reading the posts and especially looking at the pictures, but this is the first thing that I have tried from this blog. I love how the author give step-by-step picture instructions for her recipes.

I used fresh-picked strawberries for these scones and I want to encourage you to do the same. The best part of the scones are the gooey, melted strawberries in each bite. This recipe will be the most successful if you use very ripe, preferebly small berries. Visit your local farmer’s market or berry farm to get your hands on fresh berries. Visit this link for some of the farmer’s markets in Minnesota http://www.mfma.org/pages/OurMarkets/.

I made two batches of the recipe. The first used margerine and the second used butter. They were both different textures, but one wasn’t neccessarily better than the other. The margerine version was more fluffy and cake-like. The scones also spread out more and were flatter. The butter version had a more biscuit-like texture, and turned out a little taller. The bottom line is that either type of fat works. Just use what you have in your cupboard.



Strawberries and Cream Scones

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon table salt

6 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter (or margrine–I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. See my results above)

1 cup (or a little more) chopped very ripe (preferebly fresh) strawberries

1 cup milk



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Stir together flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until combined. Add butter by cutting it into the flour mixture with a pastry blender, mixing it in until the butter is evenly distributed, but still in pea-sized chunks.

Using a spatula or large spoon, very gently stir in the strawberries so that they are coated by the flour mixture, but aren’t crushed. Stir most of the milk. You may not want to add  the last 1-2 tablespoons until you see how moist the dough is. If it seems extremely sticky, don’t add the last of the milk.

Using a large spoon, scoop the batter onto the baking sheet. Try to drop the dough onto the sheet in round clumps (if your dough is too flat to begin with, it will spread out into pancake-biscuits.) Leave 2 inches of space between the scones because they will rise and expand.

Bake for 12-15 minutes. Let them sit for a few minutes before you remove them from the pan to cool. They are best served warm, but they are also delicious served cold.

Original recipe from http://smittenkitchen.com/2012/06/strawberries-and-cream-biscuits/#more-8596

Nothing is sweeter…

than a fully ripe, freshly picked strawberry. Seriously, I think they are one of my favorite things in the world. A store-bought, mostly white strawberry shouldn’t even be called the same fruit a garden-fresh summer berry.

Today we picked 5 pounds of strawberries from our garden. 5 pounds. I couldn’t believe it. A few years ago we could barely get strawberries to grow and now we are picking enough to eat, bake with, and freeze. Check out the harvest below. We also picked our first batch of cherries. Last year the birds ate all the cherries, but this year we were smarter than the birds and put up a net. (Although now we can’t get to the cherries very well either :). )

I have big plans for some of the strawberries I picked. We froze most of them, but I carefully set aside a few cups because I have a special recipe in mind. I am planning on posting this recipe (if it turns out) next week, so come back for that.

Enjoy the weekend, and God bless,