Archive for July, 2009

Weddings & Babies… Is Everyone Drinking the Kool-Aid?

Is this where the world is going?

Is this where the world is going?

Why is everyone getting married and/or having babies right now? I’m convinced that there’s something in the water that’s causing people to fall in love with the idea of this idealized union and bearing children. Personally, I have never been one that aspired to be a housewife/mom/domestic diva. Rather, I have always planned my life around education, opportunities and ways to further and better myself, as an individual. I’m totally all for meeting your soulmate and having intimate relationships, but it seems that everyone is jumping into this idealized world of marriage to feel more “grown up.” It’s as if somehow getting married and having children is the defining moment of adulthood; if people don’t give you the proper respect at 22 as the adult that you are, then having children (hell… out of wedlock even!) should solidify your place in the world as an officially official adult.

Dumb, I say.

I don’t think having kids in a family setting is dumb, but I do think that having kids to fill something in your own life is dumb. Beyond dumb even. They do realize that the baby that they bear becomes a living, breathing human being that needs attention and love to grown into a full-functioning, productive adult, right?

Do these people realize that a child is forever? Once you birth a baby, you are forever tied to that person. Not just the baby, but the baby’s daddy (or mama). Is that really a situation that you’re ready for? On top of that, you can’t really enjoy your 20s (or teenage years, in extreme cases). Your life becomes intertwined with the child’s (as it should) and you become wholly focused on their well-being and growth. If you don’t become enthralled with that then you probably should have thought twice about getting pregnant to join the cool crowd. At 23 I can’t even fathom having a child and being responsible for another human being, yet I see 18 and 19 year olds pushing strollers around, proud that they have a kid. You’re proud that you got knocked up by your 19-year-old boyfriend who probably won’t be around in 3 years? I mean… really? Am I the only one who thinks that this craze is ridiculous? Having a baby does not make you cool; it makes you a parent. It doesn’t take a special person to make a child — almost anyone can do it. I understand that it takes someone special to be a parent (something I find wholly different than making a baby) and I do know a few awesome young mothers who consciously made the decision with their husbands to start a family. For that, I give you props. I, for one, could not be selfless enough at my age to give up my education and my career options.

My favorite situation, of course, are the super young moms that won’t have an abortion for “religious reasons.” Here’s my question: You can’t have an abortion, but you can have sex with a stranger without protection? How does one pick when and where their religion comes into play? If it’s a moral issue, I understand that, but to use religion as a lame cop out makes me hysterically irate.

This issue has always been one that I could debate for hours on end, but I felt the need to write about it today as I have run into more (and more!) incapable people having children and young, idealists getting married. For the most part, I think that people don’t give marriage the consideration that it deserves. I fully understand that the divorce rate is super high now (55+%) and that it doesn’t face the stigma that it once did, but does that make it okay to go into a marriage with the idea that there’s a back door; a way out via divorce?

Seriously, people. If you have a brain, use it.

That’s my Friday rant! I realize this has nothing to do with travel, but luckily I get to write about what I want. I’m hoping that I’m not the only one that feels this way about this topic!
 
Much love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

The Cost of Being a Gym Rat

 

CardioI actually contemplated learning to enjoy running. I figured if I could enjoy running, then I could – in effect – have an amazingly inexpensive way to exercise anywhere! For the coming year, I could run by the Thames in the mornings instead of hitting up the gym. Well, unfortunately for me, I hate running. I’ve tried to like it, but I can’t. It’s not particularly enjoyable for me and, additionally, I find that I feel better after working out at the gym. Hopping on the elliptical, tossing around my massive 5 lb. weights… there’s something fantastically invigorating about it. Perhaps it’s being in an environment where other people are working out and getting healthy that makes me feel accomplished. Regardless, this feeling has definitely lead to an addiction to gym-going and being a gym member. Accordingly, I have to pay to be able to go to a fun place to exercise; to be able to use the cardio equipment & weights. Although the $30 per month membership that I now have through 24 Hour is more than worth the small cost for me, I have had to look at various gyms in the London area for the coming year to find the best student deals to accommodate my addiction. After emailing a few local places, here’s what I’ve found {please note, LSE has a gym available at £100 for the year, but I have yet to hear anything good about this so-called “gym”}:

Cannons – Bloomsbury
Mecklenburgh Place
Bloomsbury, London WC1N 2AY
Telephone: 0845 2413836

Cannons – Covent Garden
11 Endell Street
London WC2H 9SA
Telephone: 0845 2413840

Central YMCA
112 Great Russell Street
London WC1A 1DD
Telephone: 020 7343 1700

Central Point Gymnasium
New Oxford Street
London WC1A 1DD
Telephone: 020 7240 6880

Fitness First – Embankment
Concourse Level, 1 Embankment Place
London Wc2N 6NN
Telephone: 0870 8980602

Fitness First – High Holborn
246 High Holborn
London WC1V 7EX
Telephone: 0207 831 4911
Pricing: £38 per month for a 3 month membership; £33 per month for a 12 month

Jubilee Hall Club, Covent Garden
30 The Piazza
London WC2E 8BE
Telephone: 020 7863 4835
Pricing: £44 per month EFT — this gym is loaded: tanning, group classes, therapies, etc.

LA Fitness – Holborn
Lacon House, 84 Theobalds
London WC1X 8RW
Teephone: 0870 607 2143
Pricing: According to a website I found (I still need to verify this) £19.99 per month for a student membership with limited hours, £30 to £40 per month at full price!

Oasis Sports Centre
32 Endell Street
London WC2H 9AG

Soho Gyms – Covent Garden
12 Macklin Street, Covent Garden
London WC2B 5NF
Telephone: 020 7242 1290
Pricing: £50 per month as an EFT payment, £155 up front for 3 months or £500 up front for a 12-month contract

Check this website out for a pretty comprehensive list of gyms in Central London!

Does anyone have any gyms that they recommend for students?

Love,

 Signature Stamp - Shannon

 

What’s with the Disbursements?!

EconBookshopHoughtonStreetLSE2

{I’ve been looking at these pictures to calm my financial concerns — if the year is amazing then it nullifies any exchange rate/financial concerns, right?}

——–

I recently received the paperwork for my loans detailing the loan money I would be receiving for the coming year. The money more than sufficiently covers the “tuition + maintenance funds” criteria detailed in the UK Visa application process, so that works perfectly! The loans, however, aren’t disbursed to me, they are disbursed to the academic institution (LSE, in this case) and the extra funds that aren’t used to pay tuition are sent to me. Now, this wouldn’t irritate me quite so much if the school took the entire tuition payment up front at the beginning of the year and sent the rest over to me. Instead, the school takes disbursements: one in September, one in January and one in April and I get the extra at each given payment period. If it were a US-based institution, my only issue would be the fact that I couldn’t have all of the money up front to manage on my own (versus the school managing my disbursements), but since this is a foreign institution, I have to deal with a whole other facet: the exchange rate! As of this moment, the exchange rate is $1.649… definitely not the best, but I can deal with it. If the exchange rate goes up even more in the coming months then my money is worth even less!

I’m not entirely sure how they do it… it would seem logical to take all of the money, convert it and pull disbursements at the three given points in time (to reduce exchange rate exposure/transaction exposure), but I highly doubt it’s that efficient. In the case that they take the three disbursement at the exchange rate on the given day, I am crossing my fingers that the exchange rate will drop, like many professionals have projected. (Note: Many forex pros that I have spoken with have said that they feel the exchange rate will go down/the US dollar will strengthen, however the exchange rate has not dropped at all as of late. In fact, it has increased in the last couple of months, leading to a definitely loss of faith in my ‘sources’.)

Although it’s a little irritating, I’m trying my best to not let these things bother me, since they’re not under my control. Getting upset clearly doesn’t solve anything and just puts me in a bad mood. Maybe if we collectively think happy thoughts, the exchange rate will become more favorable! We should probably start now!

Talk soon,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

‘Site’ Seeing!

Throughout this whole period of preparation during the past few months, I managed to tackle some issues that I was eager to address before September. I made a mental list around mid-April with certain information I wanted to find prior to the move. I am the ultimate planner and I have this relentless need to organize my life — I feel infinitely more comfortable going into a situation that I feel semi-educated about. Plus, since this is a school-less summer, I had ever more time to prepare! Below are some tidbits of information that I am finding invaluable, so I thought I’d share:

1. What supporting documents do I need for my Student Visa application?

The UK Visa site proved to be useful in providing a list of necessary items for my visa application, and Appendix 8 (which has to be submitted along with the visa application) did well to outline what pieces of supporting documentation are necessary. Here’s what my packet includes:

– My visa application (printed from online)
– My passport (the original, not a copy!)
– My Visa letter provided by LSE
– My proof of funding (either in the form of a receipt from the institution, bank statements that are signed off or, as in my case, loan guarantee forms provided by the lender)
– My transcript/degree from your undergraduate institution
– Passport photo (this needs to be affixed, not paper clipped)
Appendix 8 (the self-assessment form for Tier 4 applicants)

2. How am I going to get from the the airport (LHR) to my housing?

I looked through a bazillion chauffeur-type services to get me from the airport to my new housing at High Holborn and the average (whether a taxi or a pre-arranged service) was around £40 – £45. I entertained the ridiculous idea of trying to use the tube, but two huge bags, a carry-on and a personal item don’t travel well from tube to tube. So, per some new friends that I encountered at the LSE Bon Voyage party, I found a site called Dot2Dot. It’s an amazingly affordable service and you can book it before arrival! My trip, from LHR to my postcode (WC1V) costs £23.50!

3. What are the limitations on luggage?

I happen to be flying United, but most airlines have similar luggage limitations. For international travel, I am allowed two checked bags, plus one carry-on and a personal item for free. In terms of weight, there is a 50 lb. limit (get lightweight luggage!), and in terms of size, the luggage cannot be greater than 62 linear inches (length + width + height measurements cannot total more than 62 inches). From what I’ve found, a 28 – 29″ bag hits the limit.

STA also provides a list of some airlines and their pricing and policies for domestic flights. Although charges can be incurred on domestic flights for standard baggage handling, you should get your two checked bags free of charge for an international flight!

4. Where can I get (relatively) inexpensive luggage?

I scoured stores for cute and inexpensive luggage only to learn that luggage is costly! I hadn’t realized how much it can cost for a good quality bag, but I decided that spending $350 on a 29″ bag was not in the cards. Whilst in the Nordstrom Rack in Seattle, I found amazing luggage for half price. I’m not entirely sure that all the Rack stores carry the same inventory, but it’s worth a shot.

I also found a veritable slew of amazingly cute and affordable luggage at TJ Maxx and at Marshall’s. TJ Maxx definitely tops the list with their quality, their selection and their prices. I was amazed! Most of the 28-29″ bags there were in the $50 – $75 range(marked down from $200 – $300 at MSRP). Side note: they also have a bunch of darling handbags!

6. How much is it going to cost me to ship the items I can’t take with me?

More so than weight issues, I think I’m running into space issues with packing. Shoes, jackets, etc. can be awkward and take up a great deal of baggage space. That being said, I have looked into a number of shipping services so I can ship some shoesies overseas and have them meet me in the UK.
{See my previous post on packing & shipping overseas!}

1) USPS was by FAR the cheapest option. For a 65 lb. box, it costs around $208.
2) White Glove Express is about 50% more, but I’ve actually had personal communication/interaction with the people at White Glove & their customer service is definitely selling me!
3) UPS quoted me around $389.09 for the same 65 lb. box, and
4) FedEx was ridiculously high priced — $482.31

7. What are the best websites for information on the city (events, sightseeing, etc.)?

I would re-type this, but there’s no point: see my previous post on the coolest (read: my favorite!) London-focused sites on the web.

8. What are my best options for Euro travel?

I suppose travel can be divided into a few categories: by plane, by train or by bus. For airfare, I’ve found the best deals on Ryan Air and on EasyJet. After talking with one of my friends who backpacked across Europe, I learned that although RyanAir’s prices are pretty unbeatable (£1 and £5 deals pop up frequently), they tend to fly into places that aren’t central to the city; they tend to be in the outskirts which spawns other transportation questions/issues. From what I’ve seen of EasyJet, the flights are a little more standard — normal, central airports at a great price. Also, I don’t think anyone should underestimate the power of Expedia (the UK version). I searched for random flight deals on their site (to Portugal, Greece, Egypt, etc.) and they had some unbeatable deals!

For trains, the only site that I really ever peruse is National Express, primarily because I found some pretty good deals on tickets while I was in Europe earlier this year. From what I’ve seen, trains can be worth it for medium-length trips if you get a good deal, but all in all, there are some amazing flight deals to be had which semi-nullify the idea of trains in my mind. Also, the Virgin Train site is worth a look-see as is the First Great Western site. They post some serious deals occasionally. 

As for buses, I’m not a fan and I haven’t looked into pricing. I know they’re sort of a necessary evil, but they tend to evoke images of psychotic drug users for me. Perhaps I will get used to them next year, at which point I will update this with relevant information, but for now I shall steer clear.

9. Where do I buy my stuff? I can’t possibly cart my shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc. overseas!

There are a few staple stores with average deals and locations scattered all throughout the country:

1) Sainsbury: There’s a location that’s going to be super close to me and they have bits of everything: food, drinks, sporting goods, home and garden and random necessities.

2) Tesco: Groceries, wine, electronics… their website isn’t all that pretty, but they’re pretty averagely priced.

3) Marks & Spencer: Food, wine, skincare, hair products, accessories… posh Target, anyone?

4) Lidl: So, this kind of reminds me of the Grocery Outlet of the UK. Awesome prices, off-brand stuff; probably a good place for students to shop. Downside: I don’t think there’s a store near me. Boo.

10. Where can I snag a not-so-expensive hair cut &/or color?

The thought of going months without a root touch-up or a trim is a little foreign and would probably be very frightening… and not just for me. Unfortunately, hair cuts, color and highlights got really expensive at some point! On the bright side, I did find a Toni & Guy at 75 New Oxford Street that serves as a training academy and has pretty sweet deals (£5 haircuts?!). Of course, these deals involve student cosmetologists but they do have a licensed professional overseeing everything. The reviews that I have read are mixed, but tend to lean towards the positive end of the spectrum. Perhaps worth the risk?

11. What phone plan is going to work best?

There’s O2, 3, Vodafone, T-mobile… so many to choose from. After checking out pricing & weighing my options, I decided that the O2 SIM Simplicity plan was best for me! I purchased my phone on eBay: an unlocked, jailbroken iPhone. With the Simplicity plan, I can purchase just the SIM card on a 12-month contract for 19.88 GBP per month. It includes 800 minutes, 1600 texts & a bolt-on of your choice (I’m choosing unlimited web!). The plan definitely works for me and fits into my budget perfectly. O2 also has an iPhone plan that’s 44 GBP per month (18 month contract) wherein they give you the phone in the package plus loads of minutes, texts & unlimited web. Lots of deals to be had! Click here for more of the lowdown on my decision.

12. What bank account should I opt for?

After scouring the internet for different bank accounts, I opted for HSBC’s passport account. Firstly, HSBC has a branch that’s two minutes away from my new housing. Secondly, I was able to actually submit the application online! I had it approved within two weeks and now I just need to pop into a location with my CA Driver’s license & my passport to officially open shop! Check out my previous post on different banks & their fees. FYI, they ALL charge fees. Lame, but true.

13. Are there any relevant London-focused apps for my sweet new iPhone?

Oooooh, hellllllls yeah, my friends. There are a load to download from the App Store, but there are three that I found that are actually semi-awesome. If you are a fellow iPhone user/Mac convert, check these out:

1) TubeMap: It’s just that — a tube map, but tads cooler. Here’s why: you get to input your information, including your “home” tube station and it allows you to check the tube station status, map from point A to point B and so much more. It’s seriously awesome. And it’s free! FYI, all my apps are free. I don’t believe in paying for such things.

2) London Highlights {Way2GoGuides}: A sweet little app with audio “tours.” There’s information on location highlights: The British Museum, Kew Gardens, The London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey and the like!

3) What’s On (London): This app basically uses Time Out London as it’s basis for information. It’s a cool way to navigate and find events you’re interested in. You can view events by category: pubs/bars, opera, theater, art, around town, etc. and see what the haps is in your area.

 There are so many other cool sites I’ve found that are so awesome and so relevant, but I don’t want to overload!

Much love,
Signature Stamp - Shannon

Bon Voyage, California!

As I was getting dressed for my day in the city yesterday, I realized that my trips to San Francisco have become relatively average-ish. Not in the fact that the city is average, mind you, but in the sense that it is so close to Sacramento that a day trip to the city is not uncommon. I decided yesterday to try to enjoy SF for the great city that it is and try and see it as a tourist. {Spoiler Alert: This only half-way worked. I enjoyed the culture, as usual, but the traffic continues to stir some serious ire from within.}

I arrived in the city around 11A, just in time to hit up the greatest Nordstrom in the world. Now, this was amazing because 1) the Anniversary Sale is still going on, so there were a billion things on sale and 2) the Nordstrom in San Francisco is the biggest location by square footage.

Magnetic force, I tell you!

Magnetic force, I tell you!

NordInside

Floor after floor of amazement!

If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the location in SF, it’s a must-see; it’s floor after floor of amazing goodies. Due to the fact that it’s such a big location, they had tons of stuff that my local store didn’t have. I managed to swoop of a darling grey tank, a super hot brown bomber jacket (better than the one that I wanted initially!) and the cutest pair of trouser jeans EVER! All for under $120. Dream come true. I’m definitely going to curtail my shopping from here on out, however, as I have realized that all my belongings are going to have a really hard time fitting into two bags!

After a few hours of shopping, I worked up an appetite and hit up a little creperie called Crepes A Go-Go on Union Street. Deeee-lish! I happen to be a lover of all things crepe, so the avo, tomato & swiss lunch crepe hit the spot. They had a slew of sweet crepes, too, that looked ahhh-mazing. Icing on the cake: they’re super reasonably priced — think under $6 for a lunch crepe. Mmmm.

Crepe{I meant to take a picture BEFORE I ate it, but I was hungry… you can use your imagination to figure out what it was like as a whole crepe.}

While I was waiting for my friend, Alex, to arrive I hit up the Lush store on Union (across from Crepes A Go-Go) and sniffed the amazing products for about an hour. My girlfriend, Hilary, introduced me to Lush a couple of years back and I looooove their products! They’re rather pricey, but I scored a 7-mini-items-for-$15 deal (which is seriously beyond amazing). All of their products are fresh, handmade and vegetarian (if not vegan). Plus, the girl at the counter hooked me up with some serious testers. I love testers. Well, I love free and thusly, I love testers.

LushPurchLush2

After our shopping soiree on Union, Alex and I headed to Jillian’son 4th Street to meet up with the future gang! It was such a blast. There’s something very comforting about meeting people you’re going to spend a year in a foreign country with. We all meshed really well and I can already tell that it’s going to be a super fun year. We all have an undying urge to travel and have already been dreaming up weekend getaways and summer trips!

LSEI looked a little thrashed after a day of battling the cold and wind, but hopefully my fellow LSEers won’t judge!
(Crossing my fingers!)

All in all, it was a super fun and eventful day and I’m even more excited now that everything is falling into place. As Alex has reminded me, 55 days! Man, time is flying!

Love,
Signature Stamp - Shannon

Merry Me!

Tomorrow marks the LSE Bon Voyage event at Jillian’s in San Francisco. I will be in attendance along with a few other soon-to-be LSEers at an event where we can all get to know each other (and LSE alumni), ask questions and hang out! With less than two months until the big move, I’m experiencing a heightened level of excitement and nervousness! I’m sure the nerves are natural as I am leaving behind my family, my boyfriend and everything that I have known for the past 23 years, but the excitement… yes, that’s the part that’s best! Since I have been assigned housing (my second choice, but a great location, nonetheless), I have taken the time to explore the area surrounding my flat and have been getting thoroughly excited about the opportunities for education and entertainment surrounding my new home!

Below is a map of the area that I will be living in, on the corner of High Holborn & Drury Lane (Postcode WC1V); see the arrow.

HH Housing 
Although I was 50/50 on the area when I first got word on my housing, I have found that it is close to so many brilliant points of interest that I’ve started getting thoroughly excited! Since walking is the mode of transportation for most, the fact that the points of interest are within walking distance or a short tube ride, makes this all so fantastic. Beyond that, many public places such as museums and historical sites are free to visit, helping to offset the otherwise ridiculously high cost of living in the city. Here are some awesome places I will definitely be checking out once I arrive (all traveling distances & times are courtesy of Transport for London):

* The British Museum: Located on Great Russell Street, a short four minute walk from where I will be living, this is on the top of my list. The British Museumis world renowned and has an amazing exhibits that constantly change. Although some exhibitions can be seen at a cost, entrance to the museum is 100% free!

* Covent Garden Market: Although touristy, Covent Garden is a very cool market with quirky craft stalls, boutiques and restaurants. At only nine minutes walking, it’s a nearby jaunt for all things cool. In addition to shopping, fashion and food, it also boasts some interesting history and architecture!

covent garden market

* The National Gallery: This gallery houses Western European paintings from 1250 AD. Think Van Gogh, da Vinci, Cézanne and Constable. Only a thirteen minute walk. Brilliant.

* Trafalgar Square: A short fifteen minute stroll from my flat lies Trafalgar Square, home to Nelson’s Column, the largest Christmas tree in London come December (courtesy of Norway) and St. Martin-in-the-Fields church. All around, a top tourist sight with so many goings on at any given point.

* The London Eye: Question: The Eiffel Tower: Paris as ______ : London.  
Answer: The London Eye. Although it’s new (built in 2000), the London Eye offers amazing views of London and its awe-inspiring sights. A thirty minute walk from my place, it’s not super close, but it’s very much one of those must-see one-time deals. And the “flight,” as the experience is so aptly named, costs 17GBP with no student discounts available… Although it’s pretty cool, it may not make the top of my list.st_james_palace

* St. James’ Palace: Built between 1531 and 1536, St. James’ Palace has a pretty amazing history, having acted as the home of many famous queens and kings throughout history. After reading The Other Boleyn Girl, the twisted history of the monarchy tends to pique my interest. A worthwhile twenty-nine minute walk from my flat, St. James’ housed Anne Boleyn the night of her coronation.

 

* St. Paul’s Cathedral: Not so close, but not all that far, all things considered. A twenty-nine minute walk from my flat to the front steps of St. Paul’s,  the cathedral is the fourth in a line of cathedrals occupying that very land that has been dedicated to St. Paul since 604AD. Talk about history. The current cathedral, with it’s world-famous dome was built from 1675 to 1710 and costs 8.50 GBP to visit. Better yet, attend a Sunday Service at 10:15 and get the full experience… for free!

With so many sights nearby, I have been tempted to invest in a bicycle (a cheap-o version, mind you) upon arrival. Although walking is commonplace and a good way to get some exercise and sight-see, I find that biking is equally invigorating, plus it’s a huge time saver!

Want to see what attractions are near to you?
This site allows you to map attractions within a given area (5, 10 or 20 minute walking) based on your postcode, nearest tube station or nearby attraction!

Happy Travels,

Signature Stamp - Shannon

I’ll take a copy of that, please!

travel documentsAs I was puttering around the house yesterday, I was flip-flopping between shopping online for new cool weather clothing and making a list of documents that I would need to carry with me whilst on my impending excursion. I recall fairly vividly a communications class that I endured wherein a student did a presentation on documents that one should keep copies of, in case of an emergency. I made a list for myself and will be making copies this week: one copy for myself and one copy to leave for my parents (so they have information to reference in the off chance that my originals AND my copies go missing!)

I will be making copies of my passport, my visa and my California driver’s license. Although I will have to carry the originals with me, a second copy is going to go in my checked baggage for two reasons: 1) if the luggage is lost, there is identification and information that links the items to me, specifically; 2) if any of the almighty identification documents go missing at any point, I have a copy to reference. The copy does not serve the same purpose as the original, of course, but keeping a copy can never hurt (in case it needs to be referenced).

Also, I will be keeping a copy of necessary paperwork (of which I will also carry the original): my acceptance letter from LSE, my visa letter awarded by LSE, my loan guarantee form provided by my lender, my HSBC account information to show the bank upon arrival and open an account, and a list of emergency contacts. If I were taking prescription medication, I would likely keep a list of this with me as well, along with the side of effects of said meds. As I don’t take any as of now, this will be one less thing to think about.

Now that I have been wielding the limitless powers of the iPhone, I have been downloading some very cool and handy apps (see yesterday’s post!) As luck would have it, I ran across one of the handiest apps ever, Evernote. The program works in a few different capacities and it’s an all-around handy tool if you use it properly. You can download the desktop versionof Evernote, access the Evernote website and download the iPhone Evernote app. It’s essentially an archive-type software where you can create “notes” on information you would like to access; the notes can take the form of written text, voice notes, photographs, PDFs, etc. (The upgraded version, which costs $5 per month, allows all different types of file formats, whereas the free version is limited to some basic types – PDF & JPG… still great!) 

I bring this up for a very important reason: I use this app to keep my important documentation with me at all times! Through the Evernote website, I created a free account where I uploaded scans of my passport, my ID, my flight information, my HSBC account and my LSE acceptance letters. Now, since it syncs automatically, on my phone (where the Evernote app is installed) I can access all of this information with a swift click! Voila!

For people that are looking for something slightly more sophisticated, I also ran across a website called My Online Safe, a more sophisticated, password protected archive system. It’s $49 for the year and you can keep scans of all of your important documentation. If you have an internet connection and a printer, you can print out all of these goodies in flash! I personally like Evernote, due to the fact that it’s free and it serves essentially the same functions, but I can definitely see the benefits of My Online Safe!

Also, on a side note, I paid for and printed out my visa application and have scheduled a biometrics appointment for this week! I feel like the final pieces of the puzzle are coming together, which is such a relief. I’m waiting on a piece of documentation from my lender that states that the loan money that I have been awarded is guaranteed. Once that official paperwork arrives, it will be shipped out in an envelope along with my filled out application, my biometric scan information, my official LSE acceptance and Visa letter and  my undergraduate transcripts, and — provided everything goes as planned — I should be awarded my visa within 15 days of applying! Such a relief to have all of this paperwork out of the way!

Lots of love,

Signature Stamp - Shannon