Menu Bar

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Paris, here we come!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

4:30 AM – woke up, stripped my bed, and left the Centre. Sadness…I’m really going to miss this place. It is so amazing here. I think I’ll miss the people most of all. It’ll be fun to run into them on campus and play with them in Provo. We’ve been talking about having tea parties (BYOC – bring your own cup) and London shirt days and such. I love all these people.

6:00 AM – arrived at the Eurostar station to take a train to PARIS!!!!! Woohoo! The train ride wasn’t long, only a couple of hours. I am spending three days in Paris with Whitney and Tiffany from our group. We only got about an hour of sleep last night…yikes…and a couple of hours napping on the train isn’t quite enough – I’m absolutely exhausted. We found our way to our hotel pretty easily. It was weird walking through the Metro and seeing signs in a foreign language, and not hearing English as the main language. And, while looking for the Metro train we needed to take, we ran into a gypsy – a real, live gypsy! We didn’t realize she was a gypsy at the time, but we later learned that she was one. She asked us for money. It was a rather unique exciting experience. We weren’t at our hotel very long, we took off immediately to find Notre Dame. And we did! I saw it! We stopped for lunch at a nice little Panini shop where the guy gave us free crepes and taught us how to count in French. He was so nice! He showed us how to get to Notre Dame and even took the time to walk us to the street corner and point us in the right direction.

Notre Dame is absolutely gorgeous. It’s so much lighter in color than I expected for some reason. Not so dark and gothic as I thought. And the inside it wonderful! I loved it. I couldn’t help but sing “God Help the Outcasts” as I walked through the cathedral.

We went up to the top of it and imitated some gargoyles and got our first real view of the Eiffel Tower! Woo! We kept adding the phrase “in Paris” to everything we said, like – “I just ate a panini…in Paris!” or “I just went to the bathroom…in Paris!” It never got boring either. After Notre Dame we went to find the Louvre, but not before buying another adapter for my laptop chord. So now I have two on the end, because you can’t convert American chords directly to European without spending 30 euros, so I had to convert it to British and then to European. It was rather entertaining.

We found the Louvre after a bit of searching – I really had no idea where it was. But we found it! And it is GINORMOUS! You could spend years in that place. We went through and saw much of the key exhibits, including the Venus de Milo, Winged Victory, Hammurabi’s Code, and, of course, the Mona Lisa. I could hardly believe it – I was able to see all these statues and art pieces that I have only read about. It was so cool! We were so tired though that we ended up collapsing on some chairs and staring at the backside of a naked angel statue. Not on purpose. It was just there and we had no energy to move ha ha.

After exploring the Louvre we headed to the Eiffel Tower to rendezvous (a real French rendezvous!) with two of the guys from our study abroad group but we couldn’t find them. We had gotten there a bit late…a little too carried away in the Louvre I guess. But we found a little Chinese place, ate dinner, and then next door had the best ice cream I think I have ever had. Then we went back to the Eiffel Tower, which was lit up by this point. Every hour, on the hour, the tower twinkles! It’s so pretty and fun! I loved it and took many a picture. We then headed back to our hotel to collapse on our beds and get the first full night’s sleep I have had in over a week. I am exhausted…in Paris!

A Very British Birthday

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Firstly…I AM 21 YEARS OLD!!!! Woo! Another year gone. Another amazing birthday! I received so many messages from people wishing me a happy birthday. I felt very loved – thank you to those who wished me well in some form or another today.

Today was bitter sweet. Last day in London. We woke up early to take pictures down at Big Ben. They turned out really well, I think. They were rather embarrassing to take – lots of honking from passing cars happened. Brits like to play “spot the annoying tourist and embarrass them a lot” ha ha but we got some sweet pictures out of it so it’s totally worth it. We hustled back for our last breakfast in the Centre. We then headed for one last Primark visit, and then a trip to Harrod’s. Now, if you don’t know what Harrod’s is, let me sum up what I know. It’s basically a place where only super rich people can shop. Everything is expensive and fancy and name brand. The designer chocolate looked amazing – they had high heels made out of chocolate! I couldn’t believe it. And all their chocolates were so pretty.

We went to the toy section where they had every amazing toy ever – there was a huge Buzz Lightyear made out of legos and remote control helicopters were flying everywhere. It was awesome. And a nice man there made me a birthday card whilst demonstrating this paint set thing. It was so fun! Then we went to the pet section where they had the most expensive cats and dogs I have ever seen – the kittens were so adorable! They were like $2000 each! Wow…They have this really cool Egyptian escalator at Harrod’s too. It’s kinda hard to describe, so you just need to see pictures. It was way fun. We went to Nando’s for dinner – a Brazilian chicken place. It was really good.

Then we hurried off to ride the London Eye! About half of our group went to ride it. It was so much fun. We rode it at sunset, and we got to see everything in London. It was beautiful and wonderful – an awesome way to spend a birthday.

And we got magnums after, which made it even better! We then went home and proceeded to shove all of our belongings into suitcases. I have way too much stuff to take home…I’m kinda worried it won’t all fit…we’ll see J At about 10:30 pm we had a special musical number thing by Chelsea Wilson, one of the girls in our group who is studying musical theater at University of Michigan. She did a medley of a few of the songs from musicals we saw whilst in London, including a version of popular where she sang to Professor Macfarlane – it was the best. So funny! And then she and Staley, another girl in our group, sang “For Good.” It was beautiful. And so sad. I can’t believe it’s all over. I said goodbye to Professors Macfarlane and Cooper. Both gave me hugs. It’s in interesting thing, to get to know your professors so well. I will miss them, for sure. You can really tell they love us.

Finals? She DONE!

Monday, June 14, 2010

FINALS ARE DONE!!!!! Woohoo!!!! I am all done with school – best feeling in the world, let me tell you J And I think I did pretty well. I’ve learned a lot this semester. My favorite class was British History and Politics by far. I learned so much. Maybe it’s because it’s all new history to me, but I was fascinated by every single minute of it. And Professor Cooper was really awesome. And I was in London while I learned it – that might have a little to do with it.

After we finished finals we had a pizza party. It was sooooooo good. They were these massive New York style pieces – you know, super thin and huge. I loved it. They bought us Ben’s Cookies too. They’re the best cookies you’ll ever have. I’ll miss them. We then went on a final walk through Kensington Gardens to see Peter Pan. My friend Stephanie has a specific smile she uses when taking pictures, so we all tried to imitate it, which was fun. A couple of the girls re-enacted a scene from the Mary Kate and Ashley movie Winning London. We mostly just goofed off, fancy-free and free for anything fancy. Many much clamourosity happened.

We then went and got our last waffles…sadness…I got one with milk chocolate and white chocolate chips – holy cow, so good! I highly recommend it. I then went home to finish my final history assignment, which I stayed up far too late doing and now I’m off to bed so I can wake up in four hours to go take pictures at Big Ben with my friend Aubrie. We want to go early to get some nice, not busy pictures. Goodnight, faithful readers J

The Last Sunday

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Today was our last day in our ward. I spoke in sacrament meeting on temples. It went well I think, though they did not get some of the jokes or movie quotes I dropped, but that’s okay. The bishop kept saying how grateful he was for us – how wonderful we are and how much we help. I don’t really feel like I’ve helped all that much. I did what I could and what was asked of me, so hopefully that was good enough. Our bishop gave us thank you cards and pens. It was rather cute. We took our final bus ride through the city to get home. I’m really going to miss this place.

After church we headed out to St. Paul’s Cathedral for Evensong. I’ve never been to any meeting of any sort for any other religion, so it was really interesting to me. St. Paul’s is a choir’s dream singing location – the acoustics are insane! I loved it. The sermon was interesting. I did not agree with everything he said. He was claiming that the gospel is unknowable and that you have to dig it out. I believe that the Gospel is plain and precious – it’s simple enough for a child to understand all the precepts. It was a really neat experience to go. How many times can you say you attended a service at St. Paul’s Cathedral? Maybe once in a lifetime J

I spent the rest of the afternoon napping, preparing for the long night of finals studying ahead of me. After dinner we had a testimony fireside – it was so powerful. I never really feel like sharing my testimony at these kinds of things, but I did tonight. It was a amazing meeting. Every person in the group is an incredible individual. I can hardly believe my luck in getting to be in this amazing place with them.

Pomp, Circumstance, and Science Fiction

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Today we began the day early in order to get over to Buckingham Palace and the Mall to get a good spot for the Trooping of the Colors ceremony in celebration of the Queen’s birthday! We all wore matching preppy sweaters that we got a Primark. I’m not sure why…but we did. Jess and I found a pretty good spot and we had some fun neighbors. The couple on our left asked about our sweaters and if they were from our school – I said no, Jess said yes. So then we had to explain the discrepancy in our answers, which was a funny and most embarrassing situation. Most people tend to think it’s weird when a big group matches clothing for really no reason. I began reviewing for our history final, and the couple on our right asked what we were studying for and we told them about our class and where we’re from and such. Both couples were really nice. When the actual marching and ceremony stuff started, we whipped out our cameras and took a whole lot of pictures. There was a long procession of guards, all of which were slightly different but I had no idea what each one was called or what they did. Some fancy cars with people with big hats on inside drove by.

Then the royal guard marched by, followed by some carriages. I zoomed in with my camera, not knowing that I would soon be seeing PRINCE WILLIAM in real life and taking a real picture of him!!! Woo! It was so cool! He was riding with his step-mother Camilla. Apparently Prince Charles was on a horse somewhere near them, but I didn’t see him. The carriage behind theirs was Prince Charles’ brother and family. Then the Queen’s personal guard started marching by – these guys were decked out in awesome gold armor and they had swords and everything.

And then…..we saw QUEEN ELIZABETH II!!!! We saw her in person! It was so fun! She’s such a cute lady. And then it was over. So we waited for like 2 hours to see people for 2 minutes. But it was so cool! I’m so glad we went. We were freaking out.

I left to spend the rest of the afternoon on my own. I would have liked company, but I was going to places that other people had already been or thought was weird, so I ventured on by myself. I went to the National Gallery – finally! I saw so many amazing paintings – Raphael, Michaelangelo, Picasso, Seurat, Degas, Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir – in real life! Like, I stood feet away from them. It was really neat. After the Gallery I exited the building and saw a street performer doing the most amazing tricks with a glass ball, just like David Bowie in Labyrinth but way cooler (if that’s possible) J It was so cool.

I then took rather complicated trip to a store called Forbidden Planet – it’s a science fiction store where they have all sorts of collectibles and comics and action figures and stuff. It was actually quite ghetto. The reason I went was that they had Doctor Who toys! Yay! I couldn’t leave Britain without buying myself some Doctor merchandise. They only have it online back home. So I bought some little collectibles – a TARDIS and a Dalek. I also bought some pins to put on my bags and stuff and I browsed the book section for quite a while. I’ve never felt so nerdy in my entire life, but I absolutely loved it. And the Dalek has actual wheels – it rolls and everything! I have yet to witness my mini TARDIS travel in time, though. On the way home I bought the rest of the souvenirs that I’ve wanted – silly things like a mini Big Ben (my favorite London site) and t-shirts and such. I still need one more thing – a gift for someone. But I don’t know what to get! I’ll think more in depth…

We ate Pizza Hut and then spent the rest of our evening studying for our finals. There’s so much material to cover for our history one, I think my brain might explode. Luckily the class is curved, so perhaps I’ll be fine. I still have a lot of memorizing to do for English though…blargh…School has been killing everyone here. Everyone’s getting sick and not sleeping, a bad combination. I’m not sick, but I’m afraid I’ll have the usual after finals melt down and get sick and have to spend all my time in Paris sniveling and in my hotel room instead of at the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. Pray for our entire program – we need it big time!

Classes? She DONE!

Friday, June 11, 2010

LAST DAY OF CLASSES!!!!

She done! I love not having class. I still have finals….boo…but that’s better than more class.

Today after classes finished we rode the train out to Kew Gardens, which was absolutely gorgeous. We walked around for a while and saw some wonderful things – there was a treetop walkway and a greenhouse with plants I’ve never heard of and a really beautiful pond with lots of ducks, but we were all exhausted from all the homework and school stuff that we didn’t last very long. And we didn’t have any food, which is always bad…so we stayed for a few hours and then left. We picked up snacks at Tesco and then hopped on the train back. I tried catching up on history reading and didn’t succeed. But I watched some Doctor Who, so that was nice. In the afternoon I got food and then walked around some shops for a while. Didn’t buy anything. I’m all worn out with shopping. I’ve never shopped more in my life than I have while I’ve been here. My mom would be proud. I feel very frivolous and careless with my money, even though I’m not. At least I don’t think I am frivolous and careless…uh oh…maybe I am! Naw…

Dress in drag and do the hula?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

School here is an interesting experience. It’s so much more work than I thought it would be. Apparently, during winter semester, all the students did really horribly in their classes. They put a huge work load on us, more than what I’ve heard from other programs. Even one of our professors admitted that they are pushing us even harder than winter semester. It’s been hard, but I’ve actually not been terribly stressed about it. I figure that I’ll do what I can and that’ll be good enough. We just found out today, though, that the classes in summer semester aren’t going to require any outside of class homework – the directors of their program want them to enjoy London. It’s not fair. Not at all. We’ve had to sacrifice sleep and London activities in order to do all the work. It’s pretty frustrating. I mean, this really has been the best 7 weeks of my life. It just would’ve been much more enjoyable had the classes been a little bit more flexible – no out-of-class homework would have been heaven. I am so excited to not have homework, I can’t even tell you. I wouldn’t have traded my experience here for anything, though. Not a thing.

And tonight I saw………LION KING! It was really fun. It really made me want to watch the movie. Let’s face it – everything here makes me want to watch a movie. I have an extensive list of things to watch when I get home. Anyways, Lion King. It was really good. Little Simba and Nala were adorable and the music is super fun, as I expected. I thought the new songs they gave the hyenas were so stupid though. Chow down? I mean, come on. They’re the comic relief – they don’t need a song like that. The song I loved though was He Lives In You. It was so wonderful – I love the sound and feel of it, and I love the reprise of it in the second half. However, I was not terribly impressed with the first half of the play. It seemed all spectacle and no real dramatic tension, even though a lot of dramatic things happened. The more I think about it though, the more I like the first half. The second half of the play was absolutely wonderful – I loved it. I’m so glad I got to see it finally. It was a good one to end on.

And one of the best parts about today? I didn’t do any homework J Now I just get to stay up all night reading Mrs. Dalloway….blargh…

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sir Thomas is a big fat flirt

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Today we took a train to Hampton Court. I was up late last night and all museum-ed and palace-d out, so I was not excited. In fact, I was once again thinking about finding a Primark or something instead. But as we picked up our audio guides, we could also put on a cloak! Like an almost Harry Potter-type cloak. That got me excited – I’ve never been to a place that gives you dress-up stuff before! We went out into the courtyards of the palace and found a fountain with awkward statues on it, so naturally we took pictures. We wandered around for a bit until 11 when we found some actor/character type people who were helping prepare for Henry VIII’s wedding to his sixth wife Katherine Parr. They invited us to come along. All the people in the cloaks (me included) were considered nobility. They taught us how to bow/curtsy and told us the rules of being in the presence of the king.

Then, in Henry’s apartments, we met first Katherine Parr and then we actually met Henry VIII! He came in and we all bowed and curtsied. He told us to rise and we presented him with a gift. And then, the woman that had been teaching all the rules, presented him with a gift that he found extremely offensive and he yelled at her and sent her away. It was awesome! My first thought was that it’s like British History Disneyland! It was so fun. We explored the rest of the palace, not all of it but most. There was this section on Young Henry VIII when he first became king, and they had a video playing – the guy playing Henry was reeeeeeally good-looking. Then my friend Jess said, “I suddenly have a very big interest in Henry’s early years.” Ha ha it was great. It’s amazing how attractive people make museums and such more fun J On the way out, though, we heard a creepy child’s voice whispering over and over “divorced – beheaded – died – divorced – beheaded – survived.” It’s the little saying kids use to remember what happened to Henry’s wives…So creepy…

We later ran across Henry’s friend Sir Thomas in a courtyard, telling a group of people how he had noticed Katherine Parr staring lustfully at his calf, so therefore she must love him and he was going to propose to her before she married Henry and whisk her away to some far off place. We didn’t get to see him actually talk to Katherine – I wanted to stay but my friends wanted to go see something else – but I know that he was obviously not successful because we know from history that Katherine married Henry. That would have been an epic romance, though, if she had run away with Sir Thomas – I would have preferred that. We did get to help Katherine pick out her wedding dress, though.

The entire palace, gardens and all, was so beautiful. There was also a maze – supposedly the most famous maze in the world – which we wandered through until we found the center. We also reenacted a bit of Harry Potter, of course. And then we headed back through the palace to get out. On our way to the exit we ran into Henry VIII again, walking with Sir Thomas. The guard walking in front of Henry told us to lower our eyes so we curtsied, and then Henry told us we could rise. He proceeded to compliment our beauty, and Sir Thomas started hitting on us. He was like a foot away from me. The following dialogue followed:

Sir Thomas: (distracted by us) very beautiful…

Henry: Sir Thomas, you attend me.

Sir Thomas: (catching himself) Right, your majesty. Right.

Henry: (to us) It is nice to have beauty surrounding us. And you have beauty in abundance.

Sir Thomas: They have beauty in their what? Oh, in abundance…oh…

Ha ha it was the best. I loved it. Totally made my day – a guy who’s been dead for hundreds of years hit on me today – it’s not every day you can say that!

I then had a magnum gold for lunch – nothing better than ice cream for lunch. And we rode the train back to London. On the way home we stopped at Primark and bought a few things – I got a shirt, a blazer, and some shoes. I love Primark. And after dinner, we went to see Oliver! with the entire group. It was so fun – I’ve never seen it live, but I know all the songs. It was really great to see it live.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Harses harses harses harses...

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Today I woke up at 4 AM to study for my English midterm. I studied, then slept for a bit, then went to breakfast in the Servery, then read and studied some more. I then attended class. After class, we headed to the Banqueting Hall which I’m supposed to write a short paper on but really have no idea what to write about at all…It was a fabulous room, very beautifully decorated. It has paintings on the ceiling depicting James I’s apotheosis (ascent into heaven as a divine king). That’s what they tell you anyways. My theory, however, is that the angels are in fact bringing him down from heaven and removing his crown, rather than giving him the crown and flying him up to heaven. He looks worried in the painting, which is why me theory is valid…anyways…today was just a lot of studying. We did get to see War Horse, a play. That was good. The plot was so predictable and far too sweet for my taste – it was basically Black Beauty in WWI. But the effects were awesome – the horses were puppets. Yes, puppets, but the most intense puppets I have ever seen! They were so good it got to the point where I forgot there were three guys operating the puppet right in front of me. Way cool. Once again, we were in a irreverent mood and ended up laughing through the predictable, cheesy ending, pretending to cry, etc. I think being tired causes me to revert to a six year old boy persona. After the play I traveled quickly home and took my English midterm. I think I did rather well on it, but that’s not the best part – the best part is that it is OVER! Woohoo! That is a marvelous feeling. Now there’s just finals in 6 days and then my birthday! A free day to play in London on my birthday – best birthday present ever J

Come on, Dover! Move your bloomin’ castle!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Okay, so I recognize that the subject of this blog doesn’t make sense…but in visiting Dover today I kept thinking of that scene from My Fair Lady. Awesome.

Dover is beautiful! The castle/keep is ginormous and there are all these underground tunnels that were used in WWII and some from medieval times and stuff. Castles are boss. They say that on a clear day you can see forever…or at least to France. Unfortunately it wasn’t clear enough to see all the way to France. But it was still beautiful. I have to admit though, I’m getting a bit museum-ed out. It’s just so much information to absorb all at once. Eek.

In the museum at Dover, however, we did find some gems. Jess told me to come look at this little room behind glass. I looked in, around a corner, and there was this creepy Indian guy looking back at me! It was a wax figure, naturally, but it scared me so bad I screamed (see picture). And then, in the next room, we found this weird frightened little wax boy…not totally sure what he was there for, but there he was. It was entertaining to say the least.

After Dover we traveled to Canterbury to see St. Augustine’s Abbey and Canterbury Cathedral. The Abbey is just ruins now, but there was plenty of opportunity for climbing and photos. When climbing on one of the pillars I accidentally dislodged a rock…I felt really bad so I stopped climbing…and posed as a Greek statue instead! We pretended to sacrifice Jess on an altar, and I learned that Anglo-Saxon kings have sweet names, like Ethelbart and Dragostonic and stuff like that. Awesome.

Canterbury Cathedral is the place where Sir Thomas Becket was killed by knights of Henry II. We kinda loudly re-inacted his martyrdom…in the cathedral, on the very spot. Let me tell you, it was epic. But afterwards one of our fellow students chastised us and now I feel kinda bad. The things we’ll do for art. That video should be up on facebook soon too. We were kinda in an irreverent mood today, like almost rebelliously irreverent…I don’t know quite what it was. Maybe we’ve seen too many ruins and castles and cathedrals and it all just was too much – we exploded! In fact, half the time we were trying to find someone to ask if there was a Primark in town. There wasn’t…but we did eventually find a Waterstones (bookstore) where I purchased Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone! Woo! I may eventually have to get them all from here. But the first one is enough for now. I’ll just have to make it back to London 6 more times J

We ate dinner at a pub around the corner from the Centre tonight – such a fun place! And such great food! I seriously loved it. And it was relatively cheap for a pub too, which made it even better. I would like to go back. So tasty. I’m going to miss pubs when I’m back in the states. You can find them everywhere here, and they always have the best food and chips (fries, for you Americans).

Monday, June 7, 2010

Souvenir I want to but can't bring home - British children

Sunday, June 6, 2010

One of the girls who serves with us in the Wandsworth Common ward is sick, so she asked me to teach Primary for her…eek! I’ve never done that before. What’s more, it’s teaching the three years olds. In some respects that’s easier, but I don’t really know what I’m doing. We arrived at church and I went back to the Primary. The first children in were Poppy and Julian, girl and boy respectively. They’re twins and probably the cutest British children ever. Poppy had her teddy with her, which is actually a leopard, but British children refer to all their stuffed animals as teddies. His name was Charlie, but Julian wanted Poppy to call him Deathonater. They had the most adorable British accents and I just wanted to take them home with me! Next came in this adorable little boy name Brian with perfectly parted hair, the cutest little suit, and a “Future Missionary” badge. He knew all the articles of faith from memory and he knew all the answers to the questions. I wanted to take him home too. These three were all about 7 or 8 years old. A couple of cute girls came in a bit later and another boy – all of them were so well behaved! I couldn’t believe it. Especially after what my friends who serve in other wards tell me. I’ve decided that British children singing primary songs is one of the best things in the world.

When it was time for me to teach, I had only two children – Seth and Sophie. Seth speaks in gibberish. You literally can’t understand half the things he says. Luckily his mom is the Primary President so she was there to help translate. Chloe was adorable – she was quiet, but she could make the cutest happy and frowny faces I have ever seen. I taught them about their feelings today. I was supposed to teach for 30 minutes…I only made it to 15 I think…so we spent the other 20 minutes coloring. All in all, not too bad for my first day teaching in Primary…ever. Another girl came in while we were coloring. Her name was Chloe, and she was so cute and British. She pointed at the angry face on her coloring page and said, “he’s cross.” Haha cross! So British! I loved it. I could have done better with the teaching, but it also could have been worse. And I’m so glad I got the opportunity to be in Primary for a day. It was the best. Fast and testimony meeting was really powerful. There was another confirmation for this cute little old lady who was just baptized. I love seeing that. The Spirit was so strong. And the testimonies (since it was Fast Sunday) were so great. There’s a really good spirit about this ward that I absolutely love.

When I got home from church I proceeded to take a two hour nap – it was absolutely lovely. I have so much homework to do…blargh…naps can make me feel a bit guilty, but not on Sundays. They seem perfectly tailored to a Sunday afternoon. Tonight we had a fireside where a man came and talked to us about wartime (WWII) London – it was cool, but it went on a bit too long. Now I’m going to bed. So I can wake up at an insane hour and study for my ridiculous English midterm. I am lacking motivation big time. HELP! I need somebody. HELP! Not just anybody…well, I really need some motivation…goodnight, and good luck J

I think I've been to more famous author's houses than I have friend's houses back home...

Saturday, June 5, 2010

This morning we went rowing on the Serpentine in Hyde Park! It was so much fun! It is so hot here. I am really not used to the humidity. I was dying on the walk there and back. The weather is beautiful. A little too hot for my taste, but beautiful. And rowing on the Serpentine was so fun, though we weren’t very good rowers at all. There were three of us in a boat, two in another boat, and two more in one of those paddle boats you work with your feet. None of us really knew how to row, but we took turns and got better towards the end.

We reenacted the scene from Phantom when he takes her across the underground lake – it will be on facebook soon, I’m sure. I played the Phantom as I rowed. Aubrie was Christine in the back of the boat, looking scared. Classic. It was so much fun.

After the Serpentine we walked over to the Orangery next to Kensington Palace and had tea and crumpets! Well, I had lemonade and a fruit scone…but still! It was so cute! And I felt so British whilst eating. We spent the rest of the afternoon venturing out to Samuel Johnson’s house and Dicken’s house. I’ll be honest and say that both of these sites were rather boring. I liked Dicken’s because I actually enjoy his writing, but I was semi-bored by the exhibits in the house.

Johnson’s was under renovations, so there was basically nothing in the house. Lame. There were, however, outfits to try on. They were made for seven year olds, but we tried them on anyways. It was hilarious. That part was fun. I’m sure if I had more food in my stomach and it hadn’t been quite so hot that I would have enjoyed the houses more. But I’m quite frankly all famous-author’s-house-d out. Jess and I went to Khan’s for dinner – best Indian food ever! I loved it even more this time than last time I ate there. And then we spent half an hour hunting for Magnums, finally finding some in a shady little shop off of Queensway. I had the almond one – sooooo good. I’m going to miss Magnums when I come home. And all the amazing chocolate. I’m not going to miss what it does to my body though J The rest of the evening was spent trying to do homework and failing miserably. Not miserably, I guess. Just semi-miserably. You see, we have a midterm next week. It’s kind of ridiculous because it’s on nothing we actually learned in English and it’s less than a week before our final. Biggest joke ever. And it’s extraordinarily time consuming. Ugh!!!! I can see my GPA flying out the window into the London sky. I’m trying not to mind…but it’s a bit hard for me…Just pray that what I do will be enough, okay? Thanks. I appreciate it.

I've a Wales of a tale to tell ya, lads

Friday, June 4, 2010

Today began with a long bus drive to….WALES! Woohoo! A different country! All the road signs and building signs and such in Wales are written in both Welsh and English. I think they told us that about 60% of the population still speaks fluent Welsh. Welsh is the weirdest written language – I swear they just throw in a bunch of random letters. Trudndgleth, Blagnfndhyth, etc. (see warning sign picture)

No joke, that’s how the names of all the towns looked. I loved it. Our first stop in Wales was at Beaumaris castle, built by Edward I to show the Welsh how tough he was. It’s considered the most perfectly constructed castle ever – it’s two concentric circles.

There’s a moat, then a tick outer wall with slits for archers, then some green, then an inner wall with more archer slits. It’s kinda hard to explain without pictures. All that is needed to be known is that it was practically impenetrable, and it was built in just a few short years (different than many other castles that grow up over hundreds of years). I loved this castle. We were the only one there, so we were running all over the place. My friend Jess and I reenacted a scene from Labyrinth and a scene from Phantom of the Opera – the Phantom one is best for sure. And then we reenacted a scene from Monty Python. It was the scene with the French guy and the castle and the inquiry about the Holy Grail. That one was fun too. We climbed around the walls and turrets for a while, and then we left.

On the way out, we saw that there was a playground outside of the castle. I am assured that it is, in fact, original and the place where the knights would drop off their kids while they fought the enemy. We got back on the bus to find that Zoltan had bought us all donuts! He is the coolest bus driver in the world!

After Beaumaris we went to Caernarfon. This is the castle where the Prince of Wales is crowned to this day. It’s a much prettier fa├žade of a castle that Beaumaris. We climbed all through this one too – up through the towers and all around the walls. This castle was not quite as impenetrable as the other. I think it was captured and recaptured 3 times. But it was still impressive and massive. I bought myself a tiny green pet dragon names Dewi here. After exploring the castle we got lunch in the town just outside the castle. We were sitting in the town square, eating our subway, when out of nowhere a large something swooped down and knocked my sandwich out of my hand. It was a seagull! A massive, angry seagull! And it didn’t go after my sandwich once it had knocked it down. No, it just sat there and stared at me, like “What now, girl?” Luckily my sandwich had landed bread down, so I picked it up and ate it. I’m still alive so it must have been okay. But that bird just sat watching me eat it. We ended up leaving because the bird was so weird. Crazy, scary bird! I was laughing so hard throughout the whole thing, though. It was definitely worth the story to be attacked by a seagull for my sandwich.

We spent the next three hours on the hot smelly bus before we got to Coventry to look at the cathedral and take a food break. There were the ruins of the old cathedral next to a new modern cathedral. The modern cathedral was not attractive in my mind. Not at all. And it had this weird statue on the outside of Michael triumphing over Satan that kind of frightened me…I definitely prefer older, more traditional cathedrals. After the cathedrals we were back on the road for London. We all chipped in and gave Zoltan season 1 of Scrubs (he likes American sitcoms) for being so nice to us. He was awesome. We arrived home and played football (fooooootball – you know, with a soccer ball) until it got too dark, during which I proceeded to slip on the grass and hit my tailbone twice…walking home was a bit hard…I was so exhausted after this trip, but it was so good to get outside and play after sitting in a stinky bus all week. I love Hyde Park. Three amazing locations – Lake District, Liverpool, and Wales. Three amazing days!

Nothing's Gonna Change My World

Thursday, June 3, 2010

This morning we took a ferry across the lake (fun!) so we could go to Hilltop Farm, Beatrix Potter’s home! The faculty has a tendency to not tell us what we’re doing until we’re on our way there, so many people were dressed inappropriately for a country hike, wearing flip flops and flats and skirts and such. Luckily, I was dressed mostly appropriately for the hike.

The trouble came when our group got lost. We hiked up into this beautiful wooded area full of blue bells and wonderfulness, but we could not find the farm. The picture to the left is of my friends being lost :) We headed back and found that we had missed the path that took us there. Oops. We went down to Hilltop and had a lovely couple of hours looking around. Inside they had Beatrix Potter’s books open to drawings that were inspired by something in the house, so you could see the original piece of furniture and then Beatrix’s drawing of it. It was really neat to see where some of her inspiration came from. I got to see Jemima Puddleduck’s gate and an egg that she laid hidden in the grass. I swear every single house in Britain has a beautiful garden – every single one. Hilltop Farm was a really cool place to visit. Now I really want to watch Miss Potter. Add that to the list of about 15 other movies I’ll need to watch when I get home.

After Hilltop we got a surprise – they took us to the Preston Temple! It was so gorgeous! It really felt like a refuge from the world, like it was entirely separate. You enter the little area surrounding the temple and you can’t hear a sound from the surrounding highways or anything – it was so calm and serene. I loved it!

We then made the trek to Liverpool, home of the Beatles! We stopped first at our hotel – yes, a hotel, not a hostel! – where we dropped off our things. We then went to Albert Docks and Prof. Macfarlane took us to the statue of immigrants donated by the Church on the docks. It was really neat to see that. We went into the Maritime Museum, where they had displays on the Titanic and two other ships that had rather tragic histories, all three connected to Liverpool. After that, we went to probably my favorite museum of all the museums I’ve been to – The Beatles Story Museum! The picture is of the group outside.

I so wish my dad could have been there. He would have loved it. And my friend Lucky. And my brother Josh. It was right up their alley. They started from the very beginning and told the story of the Beatles year by year. Each room was a different room from their history, including a replica of the Cavern and of their sound studio. It was really neat, and I learned a whole lot that I didn’t know before. I’m so glad I went. After buying souvenirs at the museum shop, my friend Jess and I went to the local mall and got pasties for dinner and then went Primark shopping. There are Primarks everywhere! It’s great! I got a few shirts and things for pretty cheap before we went and got some chocolate and headed back to the hotel.

A bit later, about 5 of us headed off in a taxi to find Penny Lane. And find it we did! Woohoo! We took a picture in front of the barbershop mentioned in the song – it’s supposed to be where the Beatles got their hair cut. Our taxi driver then informed us that he didn’t think his taxi was going to make it the rest of the way – it might explode on us – so he gave us a discount and handed us over to another driver.

We hopped in the other guy’s taxi and he proceeded to take us to Strawberry Field! However, he didn’t actually know where Strawberry Field was…so we got a bit lost before actually finding it. But we did find it! Then the taxi driver took us towards the Cavern where the Beatles first played. He was a cool guy. He had the thickest Liverpuddlian accent I have ever heard. And it was his first job as a taxi driver. We told him all about how we were studying abroad and everything, and he told us that now we could tell everyone back home about the Liverpool adventure we had – he said, “your first taxi explodes on you, and then the second taxi driver gets you lost – he’s lived in Liverpool his whole life, and he doesn’t even know where Strawberry Field is!” He was awesome. He did know right were the Cavern was, though, so we got to see where the Beatles were born! It was so cool! I love the Beatles, and I feel so much more fondness for them having been to all these places and heard their whole story. It was an epic evening in Liverpool.

We went back to the hotel and showered, which was amazing after being stuck in sweaty bus for most of the day. Our bathroom was rather spaceship-like. It was basically a pod in the corner of our room…kind weird, but immensely roomier than the Centre’s showers, so I’m not complaining. We fell asleep watching Toy Story. (awesome pictures coming)

If I was Elizabeth Bennet, I would not have been content with just Derbyshire

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

We left the Centre at 7:30 AM and rode the bus for quite a ways, during which most of us slept. I’m getting really good at sleeping on buses…it’s not very easy. There’s lots of bouncing and turning and personal boundaries to avoid crossing in certain situations. Some people come up with some very creative sleeping positions – various forms of cuddling, some people sleeping on the floor underneath seats and in the aisle, etc., which you can kinda see in the picture. I took some pictures of sleepers, most of which I plan on using for blackmail when the time is right. I felt justified in taking pictures of them because I know for a fact that they have taken incriminating sleeping photos of me, so it all comes out okay J Our bus driver’s name is Zoltan. Sweet, huh? Our first day was to be spent in the Lake District – it is absolutely the most gorgeous place. I now feel really bad for Elizabeth Bennet, who was supposed to go to the Lake District but had to content herself with Derbyshire. The Lake District is amazing.

Our first destination was Haworth, where the Bronte sisters lived! So cool! We saw the moors that inspired their novels and we saw their rooms and learned all about their lives. They have a graveyard right outside their front door – literally. It’s kinda creepy. No wonder their books are so dark. And, we learned that the water supply for the town used to filter down through all the bodies in the cemetery…yummy…they have since fixed that problem. Or so they told us. I loved seeing where Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre were written and some of the things that inspired them. Jane Eyre is one of my favorite books, and I just finished reading Wuthering Heights for class. I really liked Wuthering Heights – I hated the characters, but I got sucked into the story. It was weird. I really hated Catherine…both Catherines. I just thought they were dumb and ridiculous. And Heathcliff…let’s just say that I’m not a big fan of revenge. I think it’s a big waste of time and effort, and it doesn’t get you any real satisfaction. Since Heathcliff is obsessed with revenge the whole time, naturally I did not like him and was actually so extremely glad to see him die. I don’t care if that sounds bad. He just needed to be released from his torturous existence. Hopefully he found rest in fictional character heaven and finally got to be with Cathy.

After Haworth we hopped on the bus and found that Zoltan had bought us all candy! I ate coconut ice. Normally I don’t like coconut, but this was good! Next we went to Wordsworth’s house, Dove Cottage. This was a site which, once again, I did not fully appreciate because I am not the biggest Wordsworth aficionado. I did learn a lot about him while I was there, but my English professor definitely enjoyed it much more than I did. I’m pretty sure he was in heaven. The gardens behind Dove Cottage were my personal favorite part. They were gorgeous, and they looked out over a bit of the nearby lake.

My friend Jess found a ginormous slug too! We got some ice cream in the nearby village of Ambleside and then we went back to our hostel which was literally right on the edge of the most beautiful lake. We could see the lake perfectly from our room. We ate dinner at the hostel and watched the sunset on the dock right outside. There was many a picture taken.






We also went for a little jaunt along the edge of the lake, into a little park. It was beautiful. I noticed something weird though – it doesn’t get dark here, like really dark, until 11 or 12ish at night. I think it’s the lack of mountains compared with Utah that makes the difference, but it’s so odd to be walking around outside with your friends at 10 pm and have good light. We took sooooo many pictures. Ha ha not surprising. As I fell asleep that night I listened to my rather awesome playlist of all the songs that remind me of London. I think the most played on that list is the “Till I Hear Your Voice” from Love Never Dies. I just love his voice…such a wonderful thing to fall asleep to. (pictures coming soon)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Raoul vs Phantom - Phantom wins hands down!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Wow, it's June. Time is flying by here! It's rather frightening, actually. I can't believe I only have two weeks left...but that's not what I want to thing about. I want to think about two things:

First, the British Library. It's actually more of a museum, at least for tourists. We saw so many cool things there - original Beatles lyrics written on the back of a birthday card and on scraps of paper, the original copy of Alice in Wonderland (which was actually called Alice's Adventures Underground - we saw the original copy handwritten and drawn by Lewis Caroll!), the original, handwritten score for Handel's Messiah, handwritten scores by Mozart and Bach, the actual Guttenberg Bible and Magna Carta, illuminated manuscripts from centuries ago, and so many more amazing things. I absolutely loved it. I would have liked more time to explore the actual library part too - it's huge, and, if you know me you know that I have a bit of a love affair with any and all libraries. It was wonderful.


After dinner we ran to West End to try to see Lion King, but tickets are near impossible to come by in the manner in which we students do it (go an hour before and take whatever tickets haven't been sold for a reduced rate). I'm still determined to see it, but we'll have to go earlier to get tickets next time. Instead, we ran down the block and went to Love Never Dies, the Phantom of the Opera sequel. Okay, I'm still conflicted about this play. As a sequel to Phantom, it did not work for me - the characters changed too much (granted, there is a ten year gap between the two story lines) but they just weren't the same people. I'm going to try not to ruin the ending for anyone who still wants to see it, but the end just was not what I was expecting or wanting. That is, what I thought should have happened in a Phantom sequel. However, if looked at completely separately from Phantom, this musical was absolutely wonderful. I liked it in its own right - the music was great, especially Till I Hear You Sing as sung by the Phantom. I absolutely loved that song - so so so much. I just bought it on iTunes, in fact. The lyrics of the songs were rather poor, but the orchestrations were wonderful. And the story in and of itself, separate from Phantom, was actually quite enjoyable.If it had not been a sequel and just a musical on its own, I probably would venture to say that I loved it. If you want to hear how it ends, just ask - I love discussing it. The guy who played the Phantom had the most incredible voice, and he was quite good-looking, two things I delight in immensely especially when combined. It was an interesting, conflicting experience. My faithfulness to the original play inhibits my total love of the sequel, but I would recommend seeing it. And, afterwards we went to the stage door and we met Christine! She's American, from Denver, and she also played Ariel in the Little Mermaid on Broadway! And we met her! Woo! It was a fabulous night. I still can't believe I'm here doing things like this - going to plays, walking the streets of London, etc. And tomorrow we depart for Wales and Liverpool! Yay! So I won't be blogging for a couple of days, but don't worry. I'll have a zillion pictures to show when I get back :) Goodnight, faithful readers!