Crazy Weekend Part 2: Shishawi

Hey again,

Continuing the last post..  On Sunday myself and 13 other friends went to a commonly frequented restaurant in the Edgeware Road area called Shishawi.  They specialise in Middle Eastern food, desserts and Shisha.

The food was amazing!  I had Kebbah Burghul (kind of like a falafel with meat in it), along with a Grilled meat platter as a main.  I was not able to finish everything, unfortunately..So much food!
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Later, we went upstairs for shisha and to chat/dessert/play a Lebanese game called ‘Tables’.  I’ve played in shisha places back home (Canada), so it was only a matter of getting used to the rules again before I won my first game there!

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The (school) year is almost at an end and I’ve almost hit my goal, so I would like some suggestions from you guys as to what culture I should visit next- more specifically, what restaurant I should go to?

I am open to suggestions!

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Crazy Weekend: The Breakfast Club and Cereal Killer!

Hey guys,

I haven’t forgotten about you!

One of the main reasons for coming to the UK was to study, and lately that’s all I’ve been doing.  My dissertation was due last week and I’m happy to say it was completed and handed in before the deadline!  Now for exams!

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This weekend was pretty eventful to say the least.  I worked in part with another company that deals with international students to show the many tourist attractions as well as the educational side of london.  I took part in a photoshoot with them.

One of those locations was the British Museum, which I’m embarrassed to say I’ve never been to before.  I’m glad I did because it was amazing!

We also had some shots taken in a park right around the corner from there.

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After the shoot I met up with some friends and we went down to a place called ‘The Breakfast Club.’  I haven’t had a proper American Breakfast in a long time!  Really enjoyed it.

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Next Stop was a pretty interesting place that has only opened up in the last few months.  It’s called ‘The Cereal Killer Bar.’  Simply put, it’s a bar where you order cereals from all over the world and different flavoured milks and toppings to go along with it.  Interesting concept and I definitely recommend it!

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Dinner/Lunch 4: Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Happy Chinese New Year guys!

Today I had the opportunity to head to Chinatown, London to celebrate Chinese New Year with my fellow international bloggers.

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The idea was to head down there to witness the parade and festivities and then meet for lunch, however it was so crazy packed I was only able to JUST make it in time to the restaurant! (Protip- be patient when visiting events such as this; it’ll be crazy).

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Upon arriving to the restaurant (Er Mei Sichuan) we chilled in the lobby and actually took in the beautiful surroundings.

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We happened to have the biggest table in the place, equipped with a turn table for all of the food we were about to eat!

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While waiting for our food we discussed our experiences thus far while living in the UK.  We also talked about what it’s like back home and places we would like to visit and roadtrips we would like to take.    It was good to be able to get away from coursework and talk to like-minded people about every day life.

The one thing I would like you potential international students to take from all of the blogs you might be reading is to meet as many people as you can.  The stories you would hear will blow your minds!

We also opened our standard fortune cookies (albeit before dinner!)

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“A dear friend is thinking of you.”

The best part came shortly afterwards:  Food!

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I haven’t had a proper sit down Chinese food dinner in years!  I must say it was amazing.  I would definitely visit there again.  It wasn’t just the food that was amazing, it was the company I had.  Eating with friends is always a good time.  Also:  Dragons!

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Take care!

Trip to Google!

Hey guys!

I haven’t forgotten about you; things have been getting crazy with class.  One thing to remember while enjoying living in the UK-  you’re here to LEARN!

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Anyway,  a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to visit Google Headquarters in London.  Believe me, everything they say about Google is true.  The place was Amazing!

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Every detail of the office as specific purpose.

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After taking a tour of the place we had a very special lecture on what makes Google, Google.

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Besides being founded in 1998, employees follow an important creed, as you will called the “9 Notions of Innovation.”

Customer need creative inspiration

Ideas come from everywhere

Fail quickly and learn

Allow ideas to morph

Creativity loves contraint

Share Everything

Data informs decision making

User comes first

License to pursue passions

Along with the notions we were given examples of how each notion has been using in every day business life.  Did you know gmail was invented using the 20% time given to each employee to pursue their own passion during work?  20% is allocated to each employee to work on personal projects and gmail happened to be one of them.

After the lecture we had the opportunity to listen to two famous bloggers:

BooksandQuills

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https://www.youtube.com/user/booksandquills

and Helen Anderson aka SnakebiteSparkles

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https://www.youtube.com/user/snakebitesparkles

They taught us what the ins and outs of how to make our blog stand out and interesting for you guys to read.  After this blog post please be sure to give me feedback and whether or not I am making things interesting for you!

Take Care!

London Underground!

Hey guys!

This past weekend I found myself at the Transportation for London Ltd Headquarters located at St. James Park in London, to listen to a lecture on a brief history of the London Underground by David Leboff!  He is the go-to man on everything underground, and has written various books and appeared on television on the topic (seriously, Google him!).

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The trip into central London was so-so, as there were multiple disruptions on many of the major lines, two of which required me to use in order to reach my destination.
Side-note:  Prepare ahead of time for such incidences.  It’s best to sign up for the TFL mailing list to receive daily updates.

Upon reaching the office (@ 55 Broadway), signing in and receiving my nifty(yes, I said NIFTY) visitors pass it was up to the 7th floor for a PowerPoint Presentation.

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A few things I learned during the show:

  • Up until the 19th Century, the trains were powered by steam engines.  Electric traction, safety lifts and tunneling technology were all used for the first time in London.
  • Initial ‘Corporate Branding’ started by capitalizing the U and D in underground.  This started in 1908.  This was the same year the color coding of the lines was established.  What we know as the ‘bullzeye’ underground logo started in 1911.

  • Speaking of corporate branding, the Johnson Typeface for the underground group was created and used for the first time in 1916, and can be still found in today’s literature.
  • The United States had a hand in the development of the ‘tube’ system as well:  Charles Yerkes, a Chicago buisnessman who was involved in some…questionable business ventures took part in funding the project.

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(I’m trying to grow the exact same ‘stash)

  • During WW2, some of the stations were actually used as shelters, although initially it wasn’t advised.
  • Finally, something I am proud to say:  Kingdom and Marc Brunel (my university is named after Kingdom Brunel) designed what is now known as Paddington Station in 1854!  Pretty Cool!

(Like a boss)

The next stop was at the top of the building, which had an amazing view of the London skyline!  I couldn’t take photos directly across from us for security reasons-  Scotland Yard was directly beside where I was haha)

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The day concluded with a trip down a deserted tube station which was used by Sir Winston Churchill during WW2 as a military bunker.  This was the most exciting part of the day, as it is not seen by the general public for security reasons.  The perks of being an ambassador, huh?
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One of those telephone systems where the operator had to manually transfer your call.

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It now looks like a rat’s nest.

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Old bath tub in one of the rooms.
Because it was not seen by the public on a regular basis photos were only permitted in specific locations.  I can tell you this:  It was one of the most exciting times of my life!  The atmosphere down there really helped set the tone for what must have gone down.  David even had photos of all the rooms before history took hold of them, so you got a better idea as to what happened during the war.

This is what the surrounding area looks like today.  Guess where the entrance is?

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Somewhere near this station perhaps?

Take care guys!

Dinner Three: Chiquito!

Hey guys!

Tonight we decided to try something a little different.. Something more common to our neighbors to the west..  I thought it was time for my friends to try some Mexican cuisine!

A new restaurant which caters to that particular menu just opened in Uxbridge so we decided against heading to central London and opted for a more local spot.

The minute we walked in we were welcomed to our booth and invited to wear a traditional Mexican hat called a Sombrero, and wear a matching mustache(sticker).

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Nachos (Yes, they are Mexican) was our first course, followed by my selection: Acapulco Cod (I chose to stay away from the chimichangas as I tend to eat those at home on random nights out :p).

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Also, Mojitos!

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Dessert I had Churros.

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Needless to say after that meal we were stuffed!

Take care guys!

Christmas in another country: Trip to Romania!

Hey guys! I haven’t forgotten about you!  As many of us, I was celebrating the Christmas and New Years time off from uni with friends.  This was the 2nd year away from my home (Canada) so it was interesting to see how that would play out. Of course, unlike the first time I didn’t celebrate in the UK.  I decided to take advantage of the freedom of movement within the EU (European Union) and travel to Romania to spend it with new friends I had made at Brunel! I flew into Henri Coanda International Airport on Christmas Eve (24th) and was immediately welcomed into the country by my lovely surrogate family! Driving around Bucharest allowed me to experience the sights and sounds of this post-communist city.  I was amazing by the architecture of the buildings around me and the amazing shape they were in.

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My hotel was situated right across from the Palace of the Parliament, which is the Second Largest Building in the world according to Guinness Book of World Records.

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I was so lucky to see it covered in snow.. Beautiful..

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I’ll get into that later. Needless to say, I was excited to try the different foods come Christmas day! We went into to small town north of Bucharest for Christmas Lunch.  Foods consisted of traditional Romanian dishes, including my favorite:

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Salata Boeuf (Beef Salad) is a traditional Romanian dish, generally served during all festive and special occasions. It is a combination of finely chopped beef or chicken and root vegetables, folded in mayonaise and finished with muraturi, pickled vegetable garnishes. It can be made vegetarian, too. Yum! In the evening, I went to a Christmas market.  No where near the size of Winter Wonderland mind you, but it still had the important elements to make it a Romanian tradition (and DA!  Mulled Wine was served).

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Afterwards we went on a little bar hop around some of the more popular bars in the city:  The Vintage, Mojo and Bicicleta.  It was my second time drinking Romanian beer (I had first sampled it at one of our Bier Markets located in Toronto).  I must say I will be looking for it when I return to London! Of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without some Karaoke!

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Apparently there’s a video floating around, so if I come across it I shall post it on the blog :p. Another fun part of my trip was visiting bamboo, one of the Most popular (and expensive) nightclubs in Romania.

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That being said, coming from London and then comparing the price you would never notice the high prices.  One of the attractive things about visiting this country is how inexpensive it is to actually do things here!  The bill, for example for 5 bottles of Vodka between the group I was with was 950 Lei (164 Pounds)!

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Another highlight was visiting the Palace of the Parliament.  This was 25 Lei for a one-hour tour, however I believe it is free for students.  I unfortunately did not have my student card so I had to pay.  Keep it handy guys!  Also, you must have some sort of identification as it is a functioning government building(I used my passport). The structure itself was nice enough, but inside you really get a feel for what the architect was trying to accomplish.  From the marble throughout the palace, to the 2-tonne chandelier in one of the main rooms.  We even go to see the balcony which was meant to be the place the revolution leader would speak to his people from in the main square…

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It wasn’t completed in time however, so the only people who actually got to address people was Michael Jackson in 1997! IMG_3839

Believe it or not, my friends and I decided to take a day from partying and study..  Yes.. Study.

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We went to this small cafe-like place where you don’t pay for the drinks and food, but rather the actual time you spend there.  Finger foods and tea/coffee is free, as is the internet.  I would love to see something like this around Uxbridge, which Brunel is located.  The library can get crowded and noisy at times.  They actually restrict the amount of people allowed in at a time. Another interesting (and inexpensive) experience was ‘VIP Cinemas.’  Here, you watch a movie like you would anywhere else, except you also are treated to an open bar, and buffet.  Also, the chairs are mechanical (such as a laz-e-boy) chair.  Amazing!

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Now, for the main event:  NYE. We decided to go back to Vintage for their party.  The price we paid included finger foods and 5 bottles of our choice.  The price again, like Bamboo was not bad at all.  We started with only 6 of us, but my friends were surprised to see another 10 of their old classmates show up!

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At 12am the champagne was all over the place.  Literally.  Inside, outside the club, in the streets…  Everyone was having an amazing time!

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What another amazing night and what a way to end one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.  I would never trade the time for anything.  I URGE YOU…If you come to London for studies, PLEASE take advantage of the freedom of movement and visit other countries.  You’ll experience different cultures that you might not have been able to back home or even in the UK.  Also, please explore London and what may things it has to offer. Oh, I almost forgot.  I quit smoking as of January 1st 2015 at 12:00am.  I have decided to start vaping instead as an alternative to help me quit.  As controversial it is, I am going to give you guys monthly updates on my journey.  Wish me good luck!

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Merry Christmas and have a very happy and prosperous New Year! PS.  SNOW!  I haven’t been in a ‘real’ winter for about 3 years!  I was so happy to actually make use of my winter parka and boots! PLEASE LET IT SNOW IN LONDON!

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Tate Museum/Sunday Roast!

Good evening!

Today, my partners and I had the unique chance to explore the Tate Museum, which is located in SouthBank, London. It was pretty cool to experience the different pieces of modern art (and this is coming from someone who isn’t exactly into art!).

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My favorite piece!

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Part of Canada in the UK!

We finished the day with a traditional Sunday British Roast, which consisted of veggies, chicken, and Yorkshire Pudding.  It was pretty good and left many of us with no room for anything else…..

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…Except for dessert!  Chocolate cake and ice cream!

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I’m glad I was able to check British food off my list by eating something other than Fish and Chips (don’t get me wrong, they’re also amazing!).

See you soon!

Dinner 2: Tamara Lounge

Hey guys!

I didn’t feel like cooking tonight, so I decided it was time to try and check another restaurant off my list. So, once again I gathered the troops and chose Indian tonight. We went to Tamara Lounge, which is situated in the UB10 area.

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It serves Chinese and Indian food, dessert and, separate from the restaurant: shisha!

I wanted to try the Butter Chicken, which of course, was amazing.

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I will definitely have to eat there again!

After dinner, some of us were complaining about being ‘too full,’ so we thought it was a good idea to have settle our stomachs with some shisha.

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It was a little chilly, despite the amount of heaters on the patio, and the huge party around us, but it was fun nonetheless. To our surprise, there was also entertainment: Belly Dancer!

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Afterwards we enjoyed arabic music and company of good friends. Overall, it was an amazing time!

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Thanksgiving = Friendsgiving!

Hey all!

I just got back from one can only be described as the best day/night I’ve had in London! Seeing as I’ve failed to visit Winter Wonderland the past 2 years (I know right?!) I decided to call up the possy (lol) and head to Central for a afternoon/evening excursion.
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First stop, Carluccio’s. I know I’m supposed to try different foods form different cultures, but as Aveen stated, we ‘HAD TO’ try it.. It was pretty good, but coming from Canada I’m used to slightly bigger portions of food. lol regardless it was a nice treat.
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We decided to walk our BIG DINNER off and head to the fairgrounds. I must say I was surprised by how much was going on all at once! My favorite part was the Bavarian Beer Garden! It definitely had a ‘Octoberfest’ feeling.
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We didn’t get to do a lot as we got there rather late, but we plan to head back next week to get the full experience (food, rides, the works).. I did however, get to ride on the bumper card which I haven’t done since I was a kid.. And it showed- my friend and I struggled to fit in the car! I have a video of the experience (and excuse our laughing, we were kids again- even if it was for 5 minutes).

Enjoy!

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PS I know Thanksgiving in Canada has already passed, but I’d like to say I’m thankful for all the time I have had to meet my new amazing friends in London, and the experience I’ve been able to share with you all during my journey!

This blog is about my journey in the UK, and the process of checking number 2 off my bucket list.