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******Updated with photos**** Hayley Samela, a Cheshire native and CHS graduate, is studying abroad in Italy at the moment. Yet, being only a short plane ride away from London, at a time when the world's eyes have turned to that nation, was too much for Samela to pass up. As the wedding between Prince William and Catherine Middleton approaches, Samela is on her way to be a part of the festivities. She will be there when the nuptials take place tomorrow, and for the rest of the weekend as that nation celebrates. It should make for an interesting time, and Samela has agreed to provide us an exclusive first-hand account of what is going on, both the day of the wedding and what happens afterward. In her first submission, Samela greets us as she prepares to head from Italy to London, imagining what her experience will be:
Studying abroad in Siena, Italy has been a once in a lifetime opportunity for me. I have traveled throughout most of the country, visited cities such as Vienna, Munich, and Barcelona, skied the Italian alps, seen a live TRL MTV award show in Florence, and I have even had the chance to cruise by George Clooney's villa on Lake Como. Just when you think things can't get any better, it surpises you when they do.
Back in the late fall of 2010, when the Royal Engagement was publicly announced, I was very excited knowing that I would be in Europe, shortly, for my study abroad. I didn't know when the anticipated wedding date was, but I could only hope that it would be during my four-month stay. When rumors circulated that the Royal Wedding would take place in April, I even joked that I would try to make it to the wedding. As my semester in Italy progressed, though, I didn't give it any more thought. In fact, I think the idea got pushed to the back of my mind with all that I had going on in my program and with my foreign studies.
With only two weeks left in my Siena Italian Studies Program, I realized that I had a free weekend. I searched for cheap trains and air flights to major cities like Paris, Madrid, or Salzburg, but there weren't any available flights, or at least nothing that met my student budget. So just for kicks I searched ryainair.com for flights out of Pisa to London. There were cheap flights and available seats, but I did not jump on the opportunity just yet. I had to think about it; weigh the pros and cons. A day later, I booked my flight and, shortly after that, booked my hotels.
You might be asking yourself why I am staying in more than one hotel? Because I have found that accommodation prices have skyrocketed in London, specifically in anticipation of all the weekend travelers.
I have just returned from a four-day weekend in Milan and lake Como, I am in the middle of final exams and completing a 10-page Italian paper, and here I am about to fly solo to London.
I am very nervous. I don't know what to expect upon arrival. I have only heard rumors here and there, but nothing that really gives me an idea of what I will be experiencing in the next few days. All of my American friends have been meticulously following internet press releases and live footage of the Royal Wedding preparations. Unfortunately, I have not since I don't have the chance to watch too much TV lately. Any TV that is on in my host family's house is reported in Italian, so I am only able to catch bits and pieces of what is being said by reporters and in interviews with London locals. Every once in a while I check the Royal website for updates, but I still have no idea what the streets will be like; whether they are roped off or already crowded with people. I also don't know how many people are traveling outside the country like me to stand outside Buckingham Palace or Westminster Abbey.
I'm really excited and unsure of what my weekend entails. I still can't believe that I will shortly be witnessing history in the making. All I know is that this Royal Wedding is a once in a lifetime opportunity of which I am able to be a part just by being in London. It's very surreal and makes my study abroad expereince that much more memorable.
Check back over the next several days as Hayley updates us on what London during a Royal Wedding is like. Below are some photos from Hayley's first day in London.