Oxford Seminar 2016

I really wanted to do a weekly update while Steven and I were studying at Oxford – but obviously that didn’t happen.

It still amazes me that I studied at Oxford University this Summer!! In January, we knew that Steven was going to go.  He applied, got in and then I got the go-ahead to work at my company’s London office while Steven was at Oxford.  Everything was going perfectly.  Then in March, when I got laid off.. (AFTER we purchased our plane tickets..) I had no idea what I was going to do.  Up until Steven’s graduation every week was different. First it was “Well, I’ll just go and just tour England while you’re at Oxford.” Then it was “No, I shouldn’t go because it might not be safe traveling alone.” & then one day, Steven got an email from the lady who helped plan the Study Abroad saying that there were 3 woman spots available! I remember I was nannying Buffy & Steven was like “you wanna go?” and I was like “okay!!” So that night, I stayed up way late, sent in my application and had an interview the following day because I was going out of town for the next 2 weeks to Virginia.  I had an interview with Laura Ricks & Jonathon Wood at BYU and I was accepted right in their office!

So you’re all probably wondering – wait a minute.. you graduated 2 years ago – how are you going on a study abroad with BYU? I had to pay extra money since I graduated already. I was considered a “grad student” so I had to pay for graduate tuition and take an MBA class while I was at Oxford.  Also, the funny thing was that Steven and I couldn’t stay in the same dorm! hahaha It was okay – the buildings were super close to each other and it was only for 3 weeks.

We left the USA a week early to travel to Paris and Amsterdam (click on the links to read my blog posts about our adventures) & then stayed in London for 2 nights with our friends Kyle, Chiarra, Spencer, and Jaime who were all attending Oxford as well. We hopped on the train at Kings Cross to Oxford University and once we got there we took a taxi to our flats…. Not knowing that where the train station that we got dropped off at would be right next to the Saïd Business School where we would spend a majority of our time at Oxford!

Week 1:

On the first full day we were all together, we got on a bus and traveled to Stonehenge, Salisbury Cathedral and Bath! People said Stonehenge is overrated but when we got there, I was so amazed by those stones!! You see these things in movies, internet, etc.  But to see this in person it’s just amazing! We got there right when it opened so it wasn’t crowded at all and we took some good pics.  Salisbury Cathedral was HUGE and amazing to walk through. But, what I loved the most about that day was Bath, England.  It’s the cutest little town – think Paris meets London.  It’s super clean, amazing architecture, yummy ice cream everywhere, and the town is just picturesque. We had the chance to tour the Roman Baths. We went through it pretty quick & the bath water was super green so they don’t let you touch it… Even though Kyle did hahaha. By the end of the day, everyone was so tired from jetlag!

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The first Sunday we got on a bus that traveled to London so we could go to church! It was a forever long bus ride probably about 2 hours and then a forever long walk to the church – another 45 minutes.  It was a long process, but we made it to church in time and I saw some friends that were on the Global Marketing Study Abroad! It was fast & testimony meeting that Sunday and all of the testimonies were so great and it was so cool to hear from people who were from London and grew up in England all their lives. After church, we walked forever long way back to Hyde Park and played the name game with our professor, John Hoffmire.  All 42 of us got in a circle, and we had to memorize everyone’s names! This was actually super helpful because it helped me to talk to more people once I knew their names!

The next few days – we attended the Business & Poverty Conference that John Hoffmire put together. It’s a free conference and so many people from all around the world came to this conference at Oxford to learn how they can fight poverty through business.  Long story short – they were 11 hour conferences both days.  & for lunch – we had mini lunch sessions with speakers to talk about poverty (or if you were in my lunch session – about nuclear weapons and how we’re all basically going to die..) I learned a ton at this conference.  From employee ownership in companies to what we can do to fight poverty through business.  But also I was confused a ton – some words I just didn’t understand and since they only had a few minutes to talk – they didn’t explain what they were talking about because they assumed most of the people there know what they are talking about! On the 2nd day of the conference, that’s when the singing started.

We sang a ton while we were at Oxford.  John loved listening to our church hymns and we sang “Nearer My God to Thee” about 3084985 times to faculty, the cafeteria workers, people passing by, etc. It sounds like I’m complaining but honestly I loved being able to sing that song.  One girl in our group – Melissa – She has an AMAZING voice and when she would sing her solo part – I got goosebumps every time!

We also got to attend Education Weekend at Oxford.  John Hoffmire’s wife put together this weekend filled with educational speakers, thought leaders, etc.  I loved education weekend.  I think being out of school for 2 years, it became clear to me that I can always just keep learning wherever I am in my life.  There was one speaker, Sanjiv Chopra who was the Dean of Harvard Medical School spoke on happiness and leadership.  He read a lot of quotes from different leaders and also told us (a group of mormon kids) that drinking 74 cups of coffee a day could make us live longer.  HA! That was pretty funny.

Week 2:

for the 2nd week we focused solely on our big group project we were working on with John Hoffmire.  We worked on a financial literacy company! Before I came to Oxford, the group that I was in had a call with John to discuss what we had to do before we got to Oxford.  What I thought was the “Social Media Group” was actually the “build the entire curriculum for this financial literacy group.” Not going to lie, it was a LOT of work. Luckily, since both our group and John didn’t really know what to do – we worked together a ton to go from one project to the next.

On week 2 they gave us a free day! Steven & I decided to go with a group to Blenheim Palace & we fell in LOVE with that place! It’s only about a 30 minute bus ride from Oxford to the palace and it drops you right in front.  Steven was excited to go through this huge hedge maze that they had.  When we got there – I had to go use the toilet, but then everyone kept going so Steven and I did our own thing the whole day! We walked through Pleasure Gardens to get to the maze – got lost in the maze and finally found our way out! We took this cute little train back to the palace for 50 pence and then toured the palace that Winston Churchill was born in.  The Duke & Duchess of Marlborough are the main people who own the place & they eat Christmas dinner with their family each year there.  The palace reminded me of Versailles because it was GORGEOUS all around.

We also had the chance to go punting! You’re basically on a rickety boat and to steer and get the boat moving, you have a long metal pole that one person is pushing into the ground to get the boat going! It’s harder than you think hahaha and we were all laughing our heads off because one group lost their pole and almost fell in and Jaime got some HILARIOUS pics of Steven and Kyle punting.

Okay – let me back up and say that we got to eat breakfast every morning at the Christ Church Dining Hall.  It’s where the Harry Potter Dining Hall was inspired! We had croissants, fruit, cereal, eggs, mushrooms, porridge, beans and hash browns! I didn’t miss a day of breakfast!! So on one of the nights at Oxford, we had a formal dinner night at Christ Church Dining Hall.  We all got to dress up & had a 3 course meal.  SO YUMMY.

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Week 3:

The last week of Oxford was crazy busy!! We were fully involved with our group projects. My project consisted of creating 5 power points about budgeting.  I had an awesome group and we all clicked. Presentations were also happening – The first day of presentations we were in a room with no AC and we were all dying! The 2nd and third day of presentations, we moved to a lecture room with AC and all was right with the world.

I learned a ton about presentation skills and how to create a captivating power point.  It’s all about telling the right story to your audience. We presented on the 2nd day and I’m not the one who will jump right at the opportunity to present or do any type of public speaking – but with enough practice, we all felt confident during our presentation.

Because of #Brexit – the pound dropped a ton while we were at Oxford.  It was a good thing for us because BYU could put on more activities since there was extra money in the budget.  For the last night, they took us out to a Thai restaurant and we said goodbye to John Hoffmire and took a ton of photos with him. It’s bittersweet saying goodbye to a guy who helped us grow a ton in just 3 weeks.

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If you are ever wondering if you should apply for Oxford Seminar – DO IT!! It was one of the best experiences of my life! & especially with Steven!!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

 

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Netherlands 2016 – Rijssen

Steven & I absolutely LOVED the Netherlands. 3 years ago on my study abroad we met an amazing bus driver named Patrick.  He was from Holland and he told all of the students as we left “If you ever come to Holland, let me know and stay with me!” I messaged Patrick on Facebook and told him that Steven & I would be going to Europe & he said “come stay with me!” So we bought plane tickets from Paris to Amsterdam!!

Patrick & his wife Evelien met us at Schipol Airport – it was so great to see people we actually know! They had plans to tour the city center in Amsterdam and then stay in a hotel near the city so we can explore more at night. We went to dinner at and then explored the city.  Patrick and Evelien took us to the city and the Red Light District (super weird!!) and we went back on the ferry to go to our hotel.  Okay, if you’re ever in the area – stay at Amsterdam Forest Hotel – it’s new and so nice and very inexpensive!! Also, it felt so nice to sleep in a hotel bed instead of our ghetto airbnb’s!!! hahaha

The next day, we went to one of the biggest flower markets in Holland! Picture an empty Costco and you’re on the upper level looking down at this huge warehouse and there are little carts driving around everywhere picking up, putting down flowers! It was crazy! Patrick & Evelien took us to a little town call Volendam and it was a town right by the lake.  It’s very touristy but everything was so cute! We ate raw fish AKA herring the Dutch way and i ate the entire fish and Steven did not! It was kind of gross but not too bad. Just super fishy.  Then we went to the Stroopwafel museum and a cheese factory.  & ate dutch mini pancakes. So much good food!

We drove an hour and a half to the city of Rijssen! It’s the cutest little town with the cutest homes and just huge farmland! Patrick & Evelien’s home is amazing.  They were some of the best hosts ever. The bed was super comfy and it just felt so good to be in a HOME. That night, Patrick invited Steven to a men’s choir that he is a part of.  There’s 150 men who sing in this choir and they perform regularly around Holland! While he was singing Dutch songs, Evelien invited me to the gym for a Dutch bootcamp and it was so fun!! & it felt good to workout! It’s cool how exercise is universal and I didn’t have to know dutch to do the workouts!!

One of the highlight of our trip to Rijssen was getting to meet all of Evelien’s students! She teaches 11-12 years olds and she invited us to come to class to speak English to them & have them meet “real life” Americans. It was so awesome. They already speak English so well because they start learning when they are young. They had the chance to ask us any questions – and they asked us fun questions like “Where do you like to shop?” or “What iPhone games do we play?” and “Do you know the Dab?” hahaha But then they asked us some serious questions like “Which Presidential candidate are you going to vote for?” and “Do you own a gun in your home?” that kind of took me back and thought wow – I wonder what they think of when they think of Americans and USA.  I love the USA but it’s sad how we are portrayed as the “gun country” or a “violent country.” Anyways – overall it was a fun time being in a classroom full of Dutch kids.  They had the chance to teach us some Dutch words!  We took some group photos outside of the school (See below)

After school, Patrick took us all around Rijssen and i love it so much! We got lunch down town, ate ice cream, walked to Oosterhof (a castle), and just enjoyed our time in a wonderful town. It was our last full day in Holland and for dinner, Patrick made us a traditional Dutch dinner! Mashed potatoes with Kale and a sausage.  So yummy! I’m so grateful for Patrick and Evelien’s hospitality.  We loved our time in the Netherlands and we will definitely be back in the future and we hope they come to America!!

XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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We Love Visitors!!

Last week we had a couple of visitors come visit us here in good ol’ Provo, Utah!! Our first pair of visitors was my friend Lucy Ye & her boyfriend Jerry! I met Lucy while I was interning at Hill Holliday in Boston! Lucy is originally from Boston so while I was out there Summer 2014, she showed me around some of the sites like the best ramen restaurant in Cambridge & Six Flags New England!

Lucy accepted a new job at Square in San Francisco so she made the LONG drive from Boston to SF.  She texted me a pic of her google map showing the route & the line went through Salt Lake City! I immediately texted her and told her YOU HAVE TO COME STAY WITH ME IN PROVO.  I don’t know how they drove so fast but they got to Provo in 3 days… CRAZY. They got to provo really really late and luckily we had their room set up with our handy queen air mattress for them. We let them sleep in and Lucy asks “what’s that donut place you are always posting about?!” UH HI. PROVO BAKERY!!!!!  We obviously had to take them there. After some yummy donuts & driving around downtown Provo showing them Center St, the new Provo City Temple & BYU campus we headed back to our apartment to go night skiing!

We went night skiing up at Sundance Resort & it snowed the day before and it was raining in Provo so there was SO MUCH fresh powder.  I’ve never skied or snowboarded in any fresh powder before.  Granted this was my 2nd time skiing.. haha I’m not the best at skiing but Sundance was so much fun and Steven is a good teacher 😉 We skied mostly greens but our last run was a blue and we did it!! I only fell once! After skiing we were STARVED and Lucy & Jerry have never been to In&Out before so we took them there!!

They decided to stay another night in Provo and while Steven & I had school & work, they went to SLC and visited Temple Square! When we got back we drove to the Midway Ice castles! I’ve never driven through a blizzard and in Provo Canyon I could not see the road in front of me.  It was SO scary! I had my hazard lights on and I went like 15 mph.  It was my first time at the ice castles and it was a ton of fun! Cold, but fun!  Going back home was scary also… sooo much snow! I was driving slow but some other cars passed me super fast and 25 min later they drove in a snow bank… SAD. We are so grateful that we made it home safely.  We loved having Lucy & Jerry stay with us in Provo and we can’t wait to hang out them again soon!

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This past weekend we had my stepsister Dana and her boyfriend Cole come visit us! During Christmas, Dana was talking about how she really wanted to go to Sundance Film Festival end of January and when tickets went on sale, I texted her and asked her if she really wanted to come! Luckily, everything worked out and her & Cole came up Saturday night and met up with us at Tower Theatre in SLC and we watched one of the Shorts Program movies. You never know what you’re going to get at Sundance because nothing is rated hahaha Shorts Program is where they compile 5-6 different short movies into one program. The cool thing about the movie was that all of the directors were there to do a Q&A! It was super cool to be there!

After the movie, we made reservations to Market Street Grill because a ton of my friends RAVE about it. But, I wasn’t a big fan.  It was good food but WAY expensive. We ordered the clam chowder and Steven ordered a fish & chips meal.  Dinner was a good time to catch up with Dana & Cole. It was weird actually having her up here because usually she is up here with our parents for a special occasion or something! After dinner, we drove to Park City to walk on Main St. We literally drove through a blizzard to get there but made it there safely! There were a ton of people because it was a Saturday night.  I think I saw someone famous and I think we looked at each other because he was about to get in a black SUV and all of his body guards were like “you good, man?” But, I didn’t recognize his face hahaha

We had so much fun with Lucy/Jerry & Dana/Cole! I’m grateful for amazing friends and family.  It’s crazy how I interned with Lucy in Boston and a year and a half later she’s here with us in Provo! I try and make an effort to not lose contact with people that I meet because you never know if they need a place to stay on their long drives from the east coast to the west coast!! Sorry for the long post!! Thanks for reading!

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XOXO,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

 

Chinese Hot Pots

Don’t know what hot pots are – here’s the definition I found on via Urban Dictionary:

“Can be considered an East-Asian variety of stew. Usually consisting of a simmering metal pot of stock at the center of the dining table, and several meats, leafy vegetables, mushrooms, wontons, egg dumplings, and seafoods sitting around it. Food is both cooked and served at the table. Meat is thinly sliced and takes about 15 to 30 seconds to cook. The cooked food is usually eaten some kind of dipping sauce.”

On Thursday, Steven and I went over to our friends Sam & Emily Rosen’s new home for homemade Chinese hot pots! We met Sam & Emily in our ward here at Wyview, but they recently moved out & bought a home in Orem!

Before we got to their home, I made a quick stop to the Asian Market on 500 W by Center St. close to the freeway.  I always drive by that market but I’ve never been in it before! I went in & it just reminded me of home so much.  Growing up, I would always go grocery shopping at Chinatown in Vegas with my mom every week. We would go into soooo many Asian markets for different kind of Asian foods and vegetables. I wish my mom taught me how to cook but my mom always thought it would just be faster if she made it on her own real quick instead of having to teach me (I know.. sad.. hahaha) but, the lady at the Asian market here in Provo told me the same thing! Her mom never taught her how to cook because it’s just easier not to!

So while I was at the Asian market, I wanted to make a type of dipping sauce my mom would always make when she did homemade hot pots in our home.  It was like a peanut butter kind of dipping sauce.  I actually FaceTimed her the whole time and she would show me on the phone what to buy and which ingredients were the right ones. It was actually pretty awesome. I felt this bonding connection that we’ve never shared before.  We both love cooking so it’s crazy that I was just starting to learn how to cook my mom’s Chinese food at the age of 23!! Anyways… I bought Bok Choy, Fish Cod balls, Fish tofu, and thin slices of beef for hot pots at the Rosen’s!

We got to Emily & Sam’s new home in Orem and it’s the cutest place. It’s crazy how much more room they have now instead of Wyview (where we live.) It was fun doing hot pots with them because it was a little mix of USA and Chinese foods. So I brought what was listed above, there was also sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, meatballs, pork, and rice noodles! It was a fun mix! Hot pots are known for socializing – a lot of articles say: “Don’t eat hot pots with people you don’t like.” It’s because you have to socialize while the food is cooking! SMART huh?

It was a fun night with the Rosen’s and we hope to do it again soon! Enjoy the photos!

xoxo,

Lizzie Lin Johnson

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Coronado, California

Yesterday, we had the chance to explore Coronado, California with our friends Lindsay and Luke Murray! Oh and we can’t forget Bentley! (I love that cute curly haired kid.)

We drove from Carlsbad to Lindsay’s Grandpa’s condo right by Hotel Del Coronado and the view is AMAZING from their condo. Lindsay’s sister Mary and her husband Zack and their baby Stella were there also. It was nice to catch up with everyone! The last time I saw them were at our wedding and that day was so busy that I barely talked to anyone! Steven is the sweetest for letting us go visit them in Coronado because I get to see Lindsay in 10 days hahaha in Mesa!!

Luke ordered a HUGE pizza and we caught up more. For all of those who don’t know Lindsay, she’s one of my very best friends. We met at BYU during the fall of our freshmen year.  We became roommates at Helaman Halls winter semester and it’s been Lizzie & Lindsay (and 6 chicks) ever since!!! Lindsay got married to Luke in 2011 so she’s been married forever now but we’ve still been friends with everything that has happened in our lives. If only we moved to Mesa then our kids could grow up together hahaha

After pizza, Lindsay, Luke, Bentley, Steven and I took a lonnngggg walk to the dog park at the end of the beach and it was a ton of fun catching up with Lindsay and looking at all of the cute beach front houses. We got to the dog park and there weren’t that many dogs because it was raining but it was fun seeing Bentley get licked by all the dogs!!

We walked back to the condos in the rain and it was just an awesome day with some of our great friends. We are definitely thankful for great friends like Lindsay and Luke who will always be lifelong friends to us.

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(Their amazing view from their condo)

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(Sorry for the overload pics on Bentley, I just love this little guy)

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(Hotel Del Coronado… Can we stay here one day Steven?)

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(Love her! From freshmen roommates, graduating together, marriage and a baby!!)

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#CoupleGoals

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(Looking for the dogs)

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(What a hottieeeee)

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(Carrying Lindsay’s baby bag and walking away from me saying.. “I am not INSTAGRAM HUSBAND)

xoxo,

Lizzie Lin Johnson