30 May 2007

Picture update

Kensington Palace

Royal Albert Hall

Buckingham Palace!

29 May 2007

Excitement around every turn!

It’s been rather a long time since I’ve posted anything, but you’ll have to forgive me. I was in Paris last week. More about that later though… Just so that you don’t get bogged down, I’ll be posting it in 2 segments. So now the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Ladies and Gentlemen, without any further adieu, my week.
Thursday morning (May 17) an electrician arrived quite early in the morning to fix the light switch that my flatmate had tried to destroy with her wet umbrella. I was exhausted so I fully slept through him fixing it! (Mom, it’s a good thing you vacuumed under my crib when I was little. Now I can sleep through anything!) When I woke up I got ready and went out to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is an amazing building! We didn’t really get to go into it because it is expensive, but I went into one of the chapels and looked around as far as I could. We got our pictures out on the steps of St. Paul’s and then we went to the Old Bailey. It is a really cool old justice building. I think it is something like an old court house. The sculptures on the outside of it are insanely cool though! I also went to the OXO building tonight. They have a small gallery where they have an exhibit of marine photos right now. I went with one of my friends to her ward youth activity tonight. They were learning BSL (British Sign Language) which is nothing like ASL. There are a few things that are the same/similar, but overall it is nothing alike in the least! I was struggling with the alphabet even.
Friday was fun, but not too eventful. I went to Covent Gardens with two of my friends and we looked through all these little markets and shops. Then we split up and went to a nut shop (most wonderful chocolate covered nuts ever!) and to take a picture I forgot to take before. We went home for dinner then we went to a play with the group. Kindertransport is about a little Jewish girl in WWII who is sent out of Germany to live in England with a host family until things get better. It is quite a sad play and the character, The Ratcatcher, is really quite scary! That’s about all that happened Friday, but like I said, it was a pretty chill day.
Saturday I went shopping, a favorite past time here in London, on Kensington High Street. I found a really cute bag, but no clothes I really liked. In the afternoon we had a matinee of Three Sisters. It had several strikes against it. 1) it is a rather boring play in my opinion, 2) it was a matinee, 3) it was 3+ hours long 4) it was in Russian. I don’t speak Russian just in case any of you were misinformed. It was really hard for me to stay awake during that play, but in the second act something was dripping along the back of the stage and that kept me awake looking for where the drip was coming from. Good times! The poor stage crew was going crazy trying to fix it and after the show people were down there surveying it and getting after others to get it fixed! It was pretty fantastic! There was a baptism in my branch that night so the few of us who are in that branch went to that, then I spent the evening getting things together and playing around with my friends.
Sunday was the first time in a long time that I understood anything that was said in church. The stake Patriarch and his wife came and spoke to us and they are English! Well, she’s English, he’s Scottish. I was in the Primary helping with the music today and it was pretty cool to be with the little kids. They are way cute! I went to a service at St. Paul’s that was not a usual service. I was hoping it was going to be a mass, but I’ll have to go back another time for that.
Monday was class in the morning before high tea in the afternoon. It was really fun! We had tea and scones which was fantastic! The tea was wonderful and the scones were divine! I thought it was really fun because it is kind of a social event so it takes a couple of hours, but the girls I was with were anxious to get out of there. Kind of sad I think. I went back and did some homework and such so that I could stay caught up, then some of us went back to see A Matter of Life and Death again. I was so happy! Peter lived! He is the main character and his living or dieing depends on the flip of a coin. They actually flip a coin in the show that tells which ending they will do! It is amazing! I liked it better when he died, but I was glad to see how they did it when they have him live.
Tuesday was our midterm. Gross! I don’t approve of tests and I think that we should all just not do them anymore and everyone gets A’s. Yes, that is my new philosophy, but no one asked me for my opinion. Oh well. I spent the day pretty much getting ready to go to Paris Wednesday. I packed, cleaned, and made sure I had my passport and money situation taken care of. I went to bed at 9.45 because I had to wake up at 3.50 AM to leave for the station. Yuck!

Well, that was pretty much the week! Thanks for tuning in. I'll be putting up this last weeks events tomorrow then I'll be back on track. Ciao!

16 May 2007

Another week in the life of me!

Well it’s hard to believe that another week has come and gone again. I still feel, in some ways, like I’ve just arrived here. In others though, I feel like I’ve been here all my life. I really feel like I’m beginning to get the hang of living here and I know as soon as I figure everything out (the tube, the money, the streets, the rain…) it will be time for me to leave and I know I won’t want to. This is so amazing!!! I love it here! Honestly, there is no where I would rather be right now then here.
Thursday was amazing! I don’t think I have ever had so much sensory input in one day before! We had a tour of the National Theatre. It is spectacular! All of the stages and how they individually work is phenomenal! They all work in a slightly different way too. One has a trap door, one has a rotating stage, and in the third the stage and the seating can all be rearranged so that the stage/audience size changes! Amazing! I found it completely fascinating to see how the “backstage” of a professional theatre works. After the tour we saw The Reporter. It was kind of…Meh. I fell asleep for part of it to be completely honest. I wasn’t moved by it, in all honesty it bored me, and I was tired. What can I say? I kind of made up for it that night though because I went with three of the other girls from the program and we saw Les Misérables. It was such a beautiful show! I was in amazement! I knew the story and I knew the music so I was prepared for it, but the staging and the staging was really cool! It did kind of bother me though that they were mixing time periods with their costume choices. That was really quite awkward I thought. Of course, I was the only one who noticed though.
On Friday, we got up early to go out and see the changing of the guard. It is quite the ceremony if you can get there early enough to have a view by the gates. We were way across the street though so I only saw the street procession and their little bit. When we had finished there we caught the tube and we went off to Camden Town and Portobello Road for some shopping! It is this great little bohemian place! We got the most amazing crapes there too! I got some great little things in some antique shops along there (No I’m not telling what it is! Some of them are gifts! Nosey…) and some fresh fruit. On the way back I hit the grocery market and then I came home.
Saturday was interesting. We went on a country “walk.” Everyone lies when they take me on hikes. I’m done believing people when they say something is a walk because yeah, it was pretty much awful! It was muddy and cold and windy and toward the beginning there was this hill. Not too high, but it was one of the most steep hills I’ve ever hiked. My knee killed me all the way up and down. I was not a happy camper. Even though the countryside was beautiful, because of the miserable way we had to get there in my opinion it was really not worth it. Especially after I found out that we could have gotten to all of the beautiful sites on flat ground as well!!!! LAME! When we got back I took it upon myself to wash my clothes in the bathtub. It was a great theory! The washing part went fine, but the drying part… Not so much effective.
Sunday was a better time then last week, but it was still interesting to need translation for all of the meetings. After church all of the BYU students went and chatted with the Branch President and we will be getting some kind of assignment for the next several weeks. It will be exciting! That’s for sure! (More information to come as it is available!) My laundry still wasn’t dry on Sunday so I resigned myself to go find a washer and drier on Monday.
We had classes Monday morning so after that one of the girls in my flat and I went and did our laundry together. It made it more affordable though (still about $9.00). During this time I set up a blog site for the family! Hooray! I’m really quite excited and feeling quite accomplished! The best part about doing my laundry in a real laundry setting is that it was DRY when I was done! Hooray for dry, non-smelly clothing! (Just for the record, nothing ever truly dries out here. It is always raining so it is always wet and humid. Just a note.) That night one of the Bishops from a surrounding area came and talked to us for an hour or so. He was a little kid during WWII and he was sent away during the Blitz bombing. It was really cool hearing him tell about the things he lived through and how it really was around here back then.
Tuesday was pretty amazing! In the morning I got some homework done and then I cleaned up and my flatmate and I went to the Tate Modern. It is a modern art gallery that is spectacular! I loved it! Not all modern art is my style, but some is really cool! They have Picasso, Monet, Pollock, Warhol, and Rodin. It was amazing! Some of the art is so moving! Monet’s water lilies, for example were so fabulous and in real life it is so much better! And Rodin’s The Kiss statue is one of the most moving pieces of art that I think I’ve ever seen. I don’t know of a more beautiful representation of gentle, tender, true love. I fell in love with something I had never known was inside of me before. I think it was a hope of what I can have someday. As a side note, on the way to the gallery I fell down some stairs. It was kind of awkward and wounded only my pride, but be way careful here. It rains and things get slippery, then you fall. On the way to our show that night Cabrina and I stopped and went on a tour of the Rose theatre. What a waste of money! It’s a good thing I only paid 5.50 for it! I would have been quite cross otherwise. I was anyway, so it was definitely good it wasn’t more! We didn’t even really get to see the real foundations though because it is covered with sand and water so to preserve it. Bummer! We went and saw the show Landscape With Weapon. It was really quite good! I was able to see it in a much different light then when I read it. All of the emotion was different. Much better in performance! When I got home, I had to finish my homework and I didn’t get to bed until 3:15 AM! Always an interesting time to go to bed when you have to get up in the morning and be productive.
Today was one of the more amazing days. I had class this morning and I was able to really give some cool insight into the costumes of the time. I always feel good about myself when I can help someone to learn something they find interesting. Then I took care of things around the flat. I tried to take up time as much as I could to see if we got some hot water back this evening, but I finally resigned myself to take a 40 degree shower. Never a good idea. I went out tonight with some of the girls and we first went to curry at this great Indian place then we went and saw Marry Poppins! There are no words to describe how perfect it was! It made me feel like I haven’t felt since I was a kid. There was something so magical about it! It was such a spectacle but it was so beautiful! It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen! I really have never seen a set work the way that one did, the costumes were breathtaking, and the magical parts were seamless! The performance was Practically Perfect in Every Way! Even though I am so curious how they did certain things (pulling the objects from her bag, etc) I don’t think I really want to know. I just want to be able to keep the magic of it forever. It really is just like when you are a kid and Disneyland seems to be the most magical place on the planet and I just never want to loose that. It was amazing! My flatmate quite nearly started our flat on fire tonight! She got home and hung her umbrella to dry above the electrical switch and it started sparking and smoking and everything! YIKES!!!! I was totally scared it was going to electrocute someone! The voltage over here is way higher and it was being really scary so we had the RA kill the breaker to the room and they are sending over an electrician in the morning. Good times with almost dieing! And that is another week in the life of me!

New London Pictures!

The view from the window of my flat.

It's a Washette! It's French! It didn't work!

Sitting in an 1100s toilet. Thought provoking.

Buckingham square with my flatmate!

How now brown cow?

On the tube!

Elementary my Dear Watson!

10 May 2007

The First Week!

Wow! This week has been extremely full! I’ve just done and seen so many fantastic things! On Thursday things were much better because I had slept for several hours and I was feeling much, much less delusional. We had our first classes that morning and got the general sense of what the term is going to be. Not a whole lot of work and a TON of playing! Sounds like my kind of semester! After our classes my flatmate and I went exploring! It was fantastic! We found this awesome little place called High Kensington. It is a shopping district (way out of my student price range for the most part but it is so much fun!) that is quite long actually. Higher class shops and all. After that we made a giant loop back through Kensington Gardens. That is probably the most beautiful park I have ever been through or seen anywhere in my whole life! Lucky for me it is right across the street from my flat! I would love to live in this area some day. It is so fantastic! We went to St. Mary’s Abbot which is a nice little church. Old and beautiful, but humble and not too pretentious.
Friday we had more class which was a bit tough because we had just had class and I was still trying to get my bearings straight. After class I went out on my own to Kensington park and read for a little while. It was such a nice sunny day and it was too windy to read, so I tucked all of my stuff under me (so none of it could be stolen!) and fell asleep for a little while instead. That night we went to see Othello at the Globe. It was really fabulous, but we stood for 3 hours and 45 minutes plus! WOW! We were in the yard as the ‘groundlings’ (yes, college students = peasants, don’t worry) but the show was so amazing that it was totally worth it! I couldn’t have had a better place for it though. Front and center stage! No one to block my view at all! YES! We didn’t get back until well after midnight here so we were all dead and passed not long after we got back.
Saturday morning we went on a walk around London to see the famous Shakespearean sites (as well as some random others) then we went to a great little open market. One of the most fun things we saw was the site where Nancy was killed by Sykes in Oliver. On the way back we had to stop at the National Theatre and buy some of our play texts (also our texts for one of the classes) and I found the most beautiful masquerade mask! That night I went to the market with one of my other flatmates where I got some berries, a knee brace, and dark chocolate. Not a better combination to be found anywhere! Their fruit is the best here and absolutely nothing I’ve found can compare to their chocolate (Well, other European chocolate can hold its own as well).
Sunday was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I went to church in a little branch that is all Spanish and Portuguese speaking. I didn’t understand anything that was being said, but the spirit was so strong there! I was able to have one of the other girls there who served a Spanish speaking mission translate for me for most of it, but there were parts where I just didn’t know what was going on. It was very different being the minority and not being able to understand the meetings. It was so tender though when a little family was blessing their baby. It was the daddy and two members of the bishopric. It was so humble and sweet. It was tough though because by the end of Sunday School I had a headache from trying to concentrate so hard to understand anything! In Relief Society we had a lesson on reverence and it was so moving that I actually was almost moved to tears. These people are so humble and good. It was sort of funny though. One sister made the comment that ‘the BYU students are being so reverent and they don’t even understand what is being said, and look at the example we are setting for them!’ It was funny to me though, because I was thinking to myself ‘yeah, we’re being so reverent because we can’t understand what is being said and we’re too afraid to say anything.’ We got Spanish Books of Mormon though and I’m going to try to read through it with the help of Lisa (the girl who served a Spanish speaking mission) and my English BOM. We’ll see how that all works out.
Monday we finally got into the schedule we are going to be on this term. We had class and I was fairly bored so I was working on my screen saver. It was pretty awesome because I clicked on one image that I thought was a picture and low and behold. Not a picture but a video clip of me doing the Tango and it was playing for the benefit of the whole class. Luckily I was able to get it off after about 1.5 seconds though. Oh, and it finally rained on us. Not too much, just a little introduction to the rain. Actually that’s a lie. I was pretty much soaked from the knees down. My flatmate and I went with one of the other girls to the Sherlock Holmes museum on 221 Baker street just like in the books! It was a riot to get there though! We took a wrong turn off of the tube station and ended up wandering through the streets for a while. It was a bank holiday though so there weren’t that many people to ask for directions even. So apparently Sherlock Holmes was a real person and he did actually address Watson as My Dear Dr. Watson. What a kick! Our director took us on a walk around Kensington park and showed us the monuments and such. Good times! OOH! I also learned that I LOVE Indian food. I wasn’t sure about it before, but now I know of its goodness and that I will never go back to not eating it again.
Tuesday I finally got to sleep in a bit. Not too much mind you because there is just too much to do to waste all day in bed, but enough to make for a welcome change. When Cabrina and I finally got up we ran come errands and went to the London Museum. It has the history of London from before it was… well… London through the current times. Unfortunately it was only open through Medieval though because of renovations. =( As a side note, I had really odd dreams about the Bubonic plague and people trying to steal my purse that night. On our way back we stopped in a thrift shop and I got the most fabulous things! I got a vintage trench coat in salmon (which I found out today isn’t waterproof) and a silk bag and scarf. Not too expensive either! I am way stoked about it! That night I did my homework and researched for class and went to bed. Not too much else really.
Today was another exciting day! Class was interesting because I was part of the group that was presenting which was a fun experience. Then I came home and wrote some letters, did some housekeeping, ate, and I was off again. I decided to go out shopping/exploring by myself. In one of the shops one of the owners had the most darling puppy named Lucy. She was so sweet!!! The shopping trip turned into somewhat of a fiasco because it was raining and not the kind of rain I’m used to in Utah. When it rains here it really rains! I unfortunately left my umbrella home (USA home) so I was drenched! I was quite a sight to behold! I didn’t really get anything, but I looked at some neat shops! On my way back I decided to stop at Starbucks and get a banana nut muffin and a hazelnut hot chocolate. That didn’t work out quite as I had planned. I grabbed my stuff and ran back to the flat. On the way back I realized that I had not actually gotten my hot chocolate, but instead a cappuccino and it was lukewarm at best. I realized that I do not like coffee like I used to either. So when I came home I looked like a wet cocker spaniel and I didn’t have my hot chocolate. I felt rather let down. However after a good blow dry of the hair and a change of clothes I felt much better. We saw one of the most visually fabulous shows I’ve ever seen in my life tonight! It is called A Matter of Life and Death. I would try to explain the plot, but it is insane! It’s about a pilot in WWII who cheats death and falls in love with the radio operator who is listening to the line when he bails out of his plane without a parachute. He has a trial to appeal his death and it is really so confusing at times, but it was so amazing to watch! I may go back and see it again so I can get more from it.
That’s really about all for the week. I have managed to have two men blow me kisses, one be checking me out all the way to class this morning (so says one of the girls in the program who was watching me walk there) and I sat on a British mans lap on the bus today. I would say for one week I’m doing fairly well.

05 May 2007

London Pictures!

Ok, so I realize I've been slacking off in my picture posting so here are a few for you!

Me on a bridge crossing the Thames

Tower Bridge

The Old Globe Theatre

Me inside the theatre

Sitting on the Ferryman's seat

Scene from Oliver where Nancy is killed

Our Bidet! All of the water closets in our flat have them!

I hope you are all having a marvelous day! Cheerio!

03 May 2007

I've arrived at last!

I’m here! Hooray!!! London is such a fantastic place! It is just like every other huge city in that it is busy, it is kind of dirty (ok, maybe a lot dirty), and there are all kinds of crazy people everywhere. The only real main difference I can see is that 1) they drive on the wrong side of the road, and 2) it’s older than other big cities I’ve been to. Ok, so wow! I was awake for 32+ hours straight yesterday! (Ok, I managed to sleep for a little while on the plane from NYC to London, but let’s be honest people. Airplane sleep doesn’t count.) We have done so many things the last couple of days!
I left for the Salt Lake airport at about 5:40 Monday morning and my flight left at 8:30. I was a little upset with the situation because I had reserved a window seat and I ended up in the aisle. Not really that big of a deal, but it sure seemed like a crisis at the time. We arrived in NYC at JFK airport almost an hour early so we had nearly 4 hours to kill. I just mainly messed around on my computer, as were most of the other girls there. All of a sudden we realized that there was a pigeon flying loose in the waiting area of the airport. This is an all enclosed airport, as many of you know, so it was highly unusual for a pigeon to be inside. That was a bit of excitement. We met up with some other girls and we all went out on that flight to London. Here I had a window seat! I was so stoked! We took off and settled in. Just then they announced dinner. Wow! I haven’t had real food on an airplane for a very, very, very long time. It was actually good too! Not the best mind you, but we enjoyed it. After that I was able to kind of sleep for a little while. I woke up to a cranked neck and stiff back, but after only having had 1 hour and 45 minutes of sleep the night before, I wasn’t complaining about the little sleep I did get! They even fed us breakfast! A hot bagel and cream cheese with preserves and a banana. It was quite good actually.
As we were flying into Gatwick airport, the country below us was some of the most beautiful I had ever seen! I couldn’t believe that it was real! I don’t think I have ever seen that much green in that way before. You could even see the sheep grazing in the fields. It was exquisite! When we got in we went through customs, which was a breeze for me, and collected our baggage. I know you are all going to be surprised when I tell you that I was, yet again, self appointed group leader. It turned out pretty well. I navigated us through the airport and got everyone onto the train to take us into London. The Gatwick Express! When we got out we caught a taxi to our flats and got in. First we had to go get our Oyster passes. That’s the tube pass. Then we went on a mini tour of where our facilities are and where we will be having class. Great. When we finally got back from that I got a chance to take a shower. It was fantastic… Well, fantastic as soon as I quit freezing/scalding myself because I couldn’t get the temperature right. I went and saw a Chiropractor today and she was really quite nice. I also went and wandered around the city a bit. Rode the tube, and had a quite good time! I’ve had a rather difficult time keeping myself awake today and now that I can go to bed I’m so very, very happy! I went out to a little deli tonight and then I bought a new adapter for my computer. It seems that mine didn’t come with an essential bit of equipment…THE PRONGS THAT ARE COMPATABLE WITH UK PLUGS!!! I am so annoyed with that! No matter though! I am here in London and I am going to have a simply marvelous time! I have a fantastic flatmate, wonderful new friends, and 2 whole months in an amazing city! I can’t wait!!!

Now if I can only figure out when to cross the streets and how the money works…..

01 May 2007

JFK international airport

I'm sitting here at JFK just burning time before my connection to Gatwick. The last flight could definately have been worse, but it was no picnic... I didn't feel well and I had been reassigned to a different seat from my original window seat. Not good. I've never thrown up on a plane and I don't intend for today to be my first time. I need to get some information on my next flight though because 7 hours of non-window flying is not going to be a wise situation... More to come later.

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