Opening a New Bank Account in the UK

I wanted to write this post since people moving abroad have so many choices when it comes to banks. It’s difficult enough when you’re opening a new account in your home country, but opening one in a foreign country as a student can be tricky. I hope by sharing my experience, you can avoid some mistakes and ask questions about any hidden fees instead of relying on the advice of your school’s administration. Remember, this is YOUR money!

When moving abroad, one of the first things you should do is open a bank account. Even if you don’t have a job yet, you can still transfer money over from a non-UK bank. When I moved to the UK, I did not close my US bank account since I knew I would eventually move back after graduation. Plus, it makes a lot of sense to keep a bank account in your home country in case family members are feeling generous and offer to transfer some much-needed money to you!

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Image from http://www.lloydsbank.com

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Punting and Lunch in Cambridge

Once I moved to the UK, I was very intrigued by the boats there called punts. They seemed like such a perfect match for the UK’s tranquil and relaxed way of life – at least in the countryside! Similar types of boats I was used to in the US like kayaks and row boats all require exerting a lot of energy to get around. Plus, there’s not much else to see in a lake or river besides greenery and animals – not that that’s a bad thing at all! However, wouldn’t you rather be relaxing on a boat while someone else paddles? 🙂 When you add in historic sites like the University of Cambridge and its gorgeous campus, you really can’t beat it!

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Ideal places to write a thesis

One of my main motivations for starting this blog was to show how it’s possible to travel AND get a PhD – and combining the two definitely helps to keep away the stress of research and writing!

While traveling, there were many places I visited where I thought were perfect for doing some heavy-duty writing. Some because it provided inspiration and beauty, others because of its impressiveness and refinement. I hope these places help you find some inspiration for finding the perfect spot to write!

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My Best Find: Raymond Weil Watch (Cartier Tank Look-Alike) for £7.50!

One of my hobbies is scouring places like eBay, charity shops (as they say in the UK), and stores like TJ Maxx and Marshalls for awesome deals. I mention my love of this in my Instagram and Twitter profiles, but I’ve never really posted about it. However, I figured I should post on a variety of topics that I enjoy, and deal-hunting is definitely one of them!

I’ve always loved the look of Cartier’s tank watch, with it’s graceful rectangle face and the elegant font of the numbers, but there’s no way I would pay those prices. It’s just so much for a watch! I’ve looked on eBay for pre-owned ones, but I thought the prices were still too much. I had resigned myself to settling for a much-less expensive watch.

They say you find what you’re looking for when you’re not looking, and that’s exactly what happened when I found my perfect watch, for a crazy-low price.

R Weil - Cartier Lookalike Watch

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Where to Go in London When You’re Traveling with Kids

Just like any major city, London has numerous options to keep you entertained no matter what your age. In this post, I’m going to skip some of the obvious touristy places (Tower of London, Hamleys toy store, Westminster Abbey, and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace) and list other interesting things to see and do that both you and your kids will enjoy on your trip to London!

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Let’s Visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter!

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For fans of the books and films, there’s no better and unique place to visit than Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. I’ve been to this studio tour twice, once when it first opened in 2012 and once again in 2016, and both visits were absolutely magical! There’s so much to see for both kids and adults, even if you’re not a fan of the series.

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Solo Holiday in London: Food & Museums in Covent Garden and Kensington

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Clusters of clouds at Covent Garden

Sometimes when I feel like traveling but don’t have enough money or time, I like to go to TripAdvisor, pick a city I want to visit, and look at the hotel rankings for that city. Maybe it’s my researcher side, but I like to see what hotels have available rooms for a timeframe I wish I could visit, like near my birthday or for a long weekend, and then research online to see if I can find the best prices. It’s kind of like when people use pretend money to invest in stocks, sometimes you win or lose money, but it’s all pretend.

However, there are times where I’d find a great deal on a nice hotel, but the flight to that city might be too expensive, negating any savings I might have had with the hotel deal. But on the rare occasion when the hotel is within driving distance, I might throw caution to the wind and say “why not?” – and I’d book the hotel for a much needed escape!

This is exactly what happened when I was feeling mentally drained from my PhD. I had just submitted my PhD thesis and was now in the middle of studying for my viva, which decides whether or not I earn my PhD. To take my mind off my stress, I went to TripAdvisor and looked at the top hotels in London just to see if there might be any good deals. Well, lo and behold, that day I found one!!

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An Inexpensive (Yet Comfortable) Way to Travel Around the UK, Specifically South Kent & London

When I’m feeling stressed from working on my PhD, I like to take a break by walking around Canterbury’s City Centre and browse the shops, get a snack, or read in a lovely park. Sometimes, though, that’s not enough and I need a proper mini-holiday away, or at least get away from Canterbury and any reminders of my studies! Since I don’t drive in the UK, I have to rely on public transportation. However, since we’re in the UK, forget about any misgivings you may have about traveling by bus. In the UK, the buses are very clean, on time, AND they’re mostly double decker!! The British might be used to these factors, but to me, it made traveling a little more fun.

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Stour River in Canterbury

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First-Timers’ Guide to Attending the Olympics

I can’t believe it’s already been 4 years since the London Olympics! It was really fortuitous that my PhD plans coincided with London hosting the Olympics in 2012, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience the Olympics in person. Funny enough, I recently found an essay I wrote almost 20 years ago about what I want to accomplish in 20 years, and I wrote that I hoped to attend the Olympics on day!

Since the 2016 Olympics are starting this Friday in Rio, I thought it would be fun to provide some tips for those looking to attend their first Olympics – and maybe see an event for free!

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Colorful Olympic banners in Covent Garden

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Differences Between US and UK Graduation Ceremonies, and Highlights of Canterbury

Hi everyone! I apologize for the lack of posts recently, but last week I was in the UK to officially graduate and get my PhD degree! After going through two ceremonies in the US for my Bachelors and Masters degrees, I found it so interesting to participate in a UK ceremony. If you’re studying abroad in the UK or just fascinated by all things British (I’m guilty of both!), here are some observations I made throughout the day of my graduation.

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Not Canterbury! This is London, where my family & I were staying. We took the bus to Canterbury in the morning and returned in the evening.

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