Friday, September 17, 2010

Razzle Dazzle day

St. Paul's in the back... and yes this is the Millennium Bridge from the beginning of HP6.

Things I love: Bueno Bars, Hobnobs, Snog, Carrotcake from Hummingbird.
Important people I've missed in the last two days: Zac Efron and the Pope. I technically knew both were here but chose not to participate in the madness... sorry Hannah, and God.

Thought I better get a post in before we go to France day after tomorrow! Jealous? Yeah, you probably should be.
It has shaped up to be a not so disappointing week. We do something everyday, even if it's just to get a treat or take a walk. Monday after class I went to the V&A museum again for my Jane Austen class. That museum is full of amazing things. We tried on corsets and I found a library that looked like the one in Beauty and the Beast. Tuesd
ay after class we went to the play War Horse. Now, if you don't know what this is... I really don't suggest reading the novel because it's not that great. Penny had us read it for our English class just so we could compare it to the play, but it is meant for little kids and it is not well written. It took me an hour to read and we really just made fun of it for the next three days (Penny included). The play though was excellent. Unlik
e any I've ever seen, the horses are actually puppets. I know this sounds dumb, I thought it did too until I saw it. The play is actually a
bout the Great War. It was very powerful with the lightening and direction, even if the acting was a little over the top. And don't worry America, it's coming to Broadway. Also, Steven Speilburg bought the rights and is making a movie. How such a crappy book has had so much success is beyond me, but then again I also read the Twilight series. Also... I had a dream last night that I met up with Speilburg and we were chatting all about this. Even took pictures. I was super disappointed when I woke up.
Wednesday we had another day trip. We went to 4 places! It was an exceptionally long day when you have that many places to go, even if they were amazing places. We went to Bodiam castle where I got to feed ducks and fish that looked like old asian men. Next we were off to Kipling's home. He is the author of, among other things, the jungle book. His house is nice and snug but his land is incredible. After that we went to the Abbey from the Battle of Hastings and followed Dr. Seely on the walk around the grounds where the battle of the Normans and Angle-Saxons took place. This was really interesting to see and learn about... even for someone like me who doesn't usually like that kind of thing. Finally, we got to Virigina Woolf's house. It is tiny and people still live in the upstairs and are paid for by the National Trust to run the place. But just like Kipling's home, her land was amazing. I'm starting to realize why so much incredible literature was produced from the English. It is so beautiful all over the countryside. Kent looks like anything you'd see out of a Jane Austen movie.
Today we went to the tower of London and looked at the crowned jewels and a bunch of armor. Crowned jewels=great because I LOVE jewelry.
Everything else=made me really tired and want to go home.
We watched Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince tonight :) and we think we're really special because we can recognize where they filmed everything now. haha
Other than that, we play a lot of cards and do our readings for class. It's hard not to want to spend a ton of money here but lucky for me I hang out with people that are even more worried about it than I am. I took an incredible run with my friend Sarah yesterday through Hyde Park. I have decided it is a magical park because I ran over three miles without a problem and usually I can't even run one. Yeah, no idea how that happened but it was probably the most fun I've ever had running in my whole life.
One of these days I'll go over to the McDonald's and upload all my pictures!
Thanks for reading! It makes me happy when everyone tells me they've been keeping up through my blog.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I met John Donne and made a Pilgrimage

Hi all!
I know I said I'd be better about this... but I've found that it's a lot like writing in a journal. If you miss a couple days and there is an excessive amount of stuff to write about, you get overwhelmed and don't want to do it.
Last week was incredible. I can't even begin to describe how amazing everything we did and saw actually was. Even pictures don't do any of it justice.
So last I wrote was last Tuesday. Wednesday we took our first "London walk" to St. Paul's cathedral. I was exceptionally excited to go to this cathedral for two reasons: 1. This was John Donne's cathedral! I love him. He was the Dean later in his life. They have an amazing statue of him swaddled in robes standing on an urn. This is awesome because Donne had commissioned his friend to draw him and this is what he wanted. The statue was made from the sketch and has no damage (even from the great fire) apart f
rom some markings on the urn. 2. I was also really looking forward to climbing the thousand or so steps it takes to get to the top of the cathedral to look out over London. It was SO many steps but totally worth it. Who needs the London eye?
We had a great tour at St. Paul's and saw beautiful Wren architecture and many famous tombs and tributes in the crypt. We also hung out for a bit in the whispering room on the way up to the top. If you whisper into the wall just right the person on the opposite side of the dome can hear you.
Friday we took our first "day trip"... not to be confused with "London walk" because day trips happen outside of London. We left at 7 am to Dover to see the Dover castle and Secret Wartime tunnels. This was one of the most incredible places I have ever seen in my life. The secret war tunnels were really interesting. We're studying the Great War here so I'm really starting to appreciate what a monumental part of Europe's history it actually is. I don't think we Americans fully grasp what it was like. The castle itself is breathtaking because it's right on the white cliffs of Dover and overlooks the English channel (Atlantic ocean). There are green hills and trees covering the grounds and some of the ruins that date back to the Romans. We climbed to the top of the castle (it was super windy and a little rainy) and took pictures.
After Dover castle we headed to Canterbury! Ok so I have never loved Chaucer's Canterbury Tales until I had to read the General Prologue here a long with a separate class that is studying pilgrimage and the history of Christianity coming into the UK. What a difference it makes to not only understand why they were going to Canterbury an
d then to see it with your own eyes. We stopped at St. Martin's church (the oldest church in England) and actually got in to look around. The surrounding grounds are covered with old graves. I loved it there. Then we walked around St. Augustine's ruins and then headed over to Canterbury Cathedral.
Canterbury Cathedral is different than St. Paul's but just as breathtaking (if not even more). It is much older and more Gothic. We had a really great tour here as well. Plus at the hourly prayer time I got to say The Lord's Prayer. That was really special to me (especially since Dr. Tate and I were the only ones that knew it). I could have stayed forever!
Saturday Andrew, Ben, Sara and I went to the Globe to take a tour. However, we got sidetracked at Burroughs Market and didn't get there in time to make the last tour. So we bought tickets to Henry IV part 1 for next weekend and went to the gift shop. It was still really neat just to finally be in Shakespeare's space.
Later that day we went to Les Mis. I can't do this justice. I can only say that it was perfection. And I would have payed fifty more pounds just to have "God on High" last another half hour.
I'm sorry this is all coming in such lump sums and that you're only getting such a small fraction of what is going on here. I wish everyone could experience it all at the same time with me.
I will say that everywhere is amazing, but it wouldn't be half as spectacular if I wasn't sharing it with such amazing friends. Some of the funnest times we've had have been on the tube or playing cards at night. (Even studying and reading for school has been fun... to an extent.) I'm really grateful to be here with this particular group of people and I know it's where I'm supposed to be.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Some random pics!

Me and big old ben.
Dinner at Nando's. Hannah you were right.
Sara's fav. (and now mine) Hummingbird bakery. You don't know good carrot cake until you've been here.
Me on our street 27 Palace Court.
Outside Buckingham Palace.


On the train home from Mitcham this past Sunday. Long trip!

So I thought good and hard about making a Newsies quote the title for this blog... and then I remembered how I hate clever titles.
The tube went on strike Monday and today so since I don't believe in dying I steered clear of them. Actually, they were all barred closed today so even if I wanted to risk it I couldn't. None of us really know why the tube goes on random strikes but apparently it happens pretty often. We all watched NottingHill tonight in the classroom and the paper Hugh Grant's flatmate is holding says "Tube Strike" on it and we all started laughing.
So what do you do in London when you can't take the underground or refuse to get on a crowded double decker? You walk... a lot. Yesterday we went to Primark (great place for cheap stuff ps) and stayed in for the first night since I've been here to do homework, however mostly because it was pouring rain. This morning Anne and I got up at 7 to go running before breakfast. Now... I know I'm 23 but there is still a 1st time for everything. It wasn't hard considering I feel good here, my body has adjusted to waking up early, and there are the most gorgeous parks to run in.
Had class... classes are so awesome here because your teachers live next door so you see them all the time. Plus, subject matter comes to life here. Although I don't know how great that is when you're studying the Great War. Note: We Americans no nothing about the Great War.
Tomorrow we go to St. Paul's cathedral so hopefully I'll have more to blog about and will be able to get some good pics for you all.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Week 1 and Mitcham Ward

Ok so here's the deal. I am a sucky blogger. Even with an exceptionally great subject matter I still manage to fail miserably at a blog. Here though is the reason: I assume everyone gets on blogs mainly for recipes or to look at pictures. People don't like to read because basically we're too lazy. If I want to upload a hundred pictures I need to walk down the street to McDonalds and blog there.
Poll: How many of you would want to go to McDonalds if you were in London?!
Our internet is equivalent to cell phone use here (which is pointless). So I just don't write because I assume no one wants to cap in daily to read what could be novel length amounts of text about my days here (and believe me, they could be that long).
The best time to blog would be at night because we're out all day, but that unfortunately is when everyone is on and it is virtually impossible (literally) to use the internet at those times.
For those of you who don't mind a lengthy-textoriented blog read on:

The week has been amazing. I've been so many places and made so many awesome friends that I think I could burst with pure happiness. It has been the most interesting thing to watch the progression of friendships take form this week within our group of 37 students. Everyone has gotten close so fast. And it is great to think that we as a group will always have these experiences together and that no one will ever really know what it was like but us.
It almost hurts my head to think back to when I got here 6 days ago and try to recap all that has happened. That I think would be impossible. I have loved everywhere and everything we've done. I LOVE the tube. The underground is the best idea anyone ever had for a big city. I love the National Gallery and all of Nottinghill area. We've eaten at somepretty greatplaces (mostly the center because it's free)... and had some pretty good treats. We walk EVERYWHERE. Lot's of stairs. School is great because they give us assignments that involve going places and doing things. Friday we went to Westminster Bridge and watched the sun go down in back of Big Ben and Parliament. The sun went down and lights lit up the buildings and streets. It was an incredible sight to see. We sat there for over 2 hours just watching.
Saturday we went to Portobello Road. Oh. My. Gosh. I love PortobelloRoad and it is 3 minutes walking distance from our flat. I bought a ring and British Harry Potter books. I could have spent my whole budget there in one day. Last night we went to Tower of London Bridge and it was beautiful with perfect weather. Plus we did this in a bigger group and it was fun to be with more people.
Mitcham ward is the furthest ward away from Palace Court. It took us two hours one way and two hours back. Totally worth it. The ward is incredible and full of diversity. We met some really nice people, most of which are African... and specifically met one woman (Pauline) who was an exceptionally wonderful Welsh woman. She is quirky and outgoing and says anything! I love her. She gave us treats and took drove us to the train station. I'm really excited to serve and attend church in this ward. I get to teach and go to Primary for the first time in my life!!!

I'm going to try to write more regularly so that I can give more detail of my adventures. Just don't expect too many pictures. Until I decide to give into McD's.