Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Day 31: The End

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I finally made it—the last day of the trip. I honestly don’t know how I made it out alive.


At the beginning, I was terrified that I wouldn’t make it. I’d never been to Europe before, and I’d never been away from everything I’m familiar with for longer than a month. Somehow, though, I made it.


Here I am. I’m living proof.


Today was an interesting day. This morning, Shannon and I dressed in purple and had breakfast at Speedy’s again in an act of homage to the beginning of our journey. Breakfast was good, but it was also a little disheartening. It was our last breakfast in England, after all.


Even London seemed a little upset that we were leaving. The weather has been unseasonably warm, and we’ve all been complaining. In an effort to entice us to stay here a little longer, London gave us rain and cold temperatures today. I wanted to stay, I really did. I tried to tell London that. It just didn’t get it.


Anyway, after breakfast, we met up with Bryar and our film studies professor and headed downtown to see The Wolverine. I don’t think I would’ve seen it if I hadn’t been abroad. Funny enough, I enjoyed it. I liked it more than I thought I would. Hugh Jackman is awesome.


We spent the rest of our day eating one last meal at Byron, wandering around Oxford Circus, and finishing our packing. It’s 1:13AM in the morning on Wednesday over here. We’re supposed to be down at the buses around 3:15AM, so there’s really no point in going to sleep. It would just make me more tired.


Shannon and I are hanging out in my room, killing time by listening to John Mulaney. I’m going to miss her like nobody’s business. I’m certain that we’ll keep in touch, but it will be really weird not seeing her every day.


I'll miss so much about this place.


I'll miss the Tube, the crowded platforms, the bustling streets, the vicious pigeons, the stupid tourists, and the beautiful accents. I'll miss the way the English behave in an orderly fashion even when they don't feel like it. I'll miss late-night Tesco runs and visits to The Court. I'll miss Big Ben, Trafalgar Square, Parliament, and the London Eye.


And most surprisingly, I'll miss the Thames. It is the lifeline of the city.


I am eternally blessed to have had the chance to go on this trip. Even though it’s been expensive, hot, crowded, and stressful, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’ve learned so much about myself on this trip. I’ve grown and changed. I feel so much better. The friends I’ve made and things I’ve experienced will leave me with memories that will last a lifetime.


Thank you, readers, for traveling with me.


And thank you, London, for being such a great hostess. It’s been fantastic. Hope to see you real soon.

Day Thirty: Finality

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I only have one more day in this fascinating city. It’s bittersweet, really—more bitter than sweet. Don’t get me wrong—I am looking forward to going home. I miss my family, my pets, my friends, and my bed. But I have seriously had the time of my life over here. I’m a different person than I was at the start of this trip, and that’s a good thing.

Yesterday, I took my final exams. In film studies, we had to write an essay featuring each of the ten film movements we studied in class, all while relating them to the way in which they feature urban space. It was an open notebook test. I was grateful for my neat handwriting. On the whole, I think I did well, though I know for a fact that I mixed up two of the movements.

Before the exam, we took surveys about our study abroad experience. The first survey was, of course, a class and instructor evaluation. I popped that one out in no time. Next, we had to answer some questions about the program itself. That, too, was easy.

Then came part two of the self-efficacy questionnaire. I failed to mention that I filled one of those out in the airport before leaving the States. Basically, there were a bunch of questions that we had to answer about ourselves, such as, “Are you an active person?” and “Do you feel comfortable navigating transportation systems in a foreign country?” The answers I gave yesterday were much different from the ones I gave at the start of the trip. Like I said, that’s a good thing. I’ve become a better person. 

In my world civilization class, we took another instructor and class evaluation. It wasn’t bad. We took the exam, which I had studied for. I ended up making a 97. I’m pretty certain that I made As in both of my classes over here, which is moderately surprising but not that exciting. 

Anyway, today it’s cold and rainy. London seems to be trying to convince us to stay. It doesn’t need to change for that. I’m already convinced.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Day Twenty-Nine: A Lot of Nothing

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I had plenty of time to blog yesterday, but I was studying. More accurately, I suppose I was trying to study. But I did get some done. That has to count for something.

After sleeping in yesterday morning, I had lunch at Icco with the lovely Shannon. Since the weather was nice, we had our pizza outside. We also took the time to reminisce about the things we’ll miss once we’re back in the States. There’s going to be a reverse culture shock. I think the first time I go to a restaurant and they bring me the check in the middle of eating, I’m going to freak out. They don’t do that here. You get plenty of time to eat in England. If you want the check, you have to ask for it. That’s one little thing that I’m going to miss.

When lunch was over, Shannon and I headed back to the dorms. I studied for my world civilization final exam, but it was hard for me to concentrate. I read the same information over and over again. Zelda came over to study with me. I’m still not sure we accomplished anything. We did get to socialize, though, so that’s good.

A few hours later, Shannon and I went down to The Court for dinner. I’m surprised we’re not on a first name basis with the people there, really. It was trivia night, so the place was packed. It took me a long time to actually order. I had fish and chips. I hadn’t had them in a while, and I thought I needed to get them at least one more time before heading home. Also, The Court has the best fish and chips out of every restaurant I’ve been to. The Court never fails.

I topped the evening off with another brief study session, a long shower, and an early bedtime. I can’t believe I only have a few more days abroad. This month has gone by incredibly fast. I wish that it hadn’t. Still, I have finals today and a free day tomorrow. I’m going to make the most of things.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day Twenty-Eight: When It Rains

Today was not at all like yesterday. For one thing, there weren’t as many opportunities to say, “yes.” You might’ve seen that one coming. But today, it did rain. And we got to get out a bit.

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We went to a market. I’d wanted to go to Camden Town, but the entire Northern Line was shut down today. Those of you who have been to London understand how frustrating line closures can be. We couldn’t get anywhere near Camden Town, no matter how hard we might’ve tried. Instead, we decided to hop on the Central Line to go to Portobello Road Market.

Let me tell you a secret: Portobello Road Market is nicer than Camden. They have nicer shops, a great selection, friendly staff, and cheap prices. Let’s you and I chat about Portobello Market.

The problem with Camden is that it makes you feel cheap. The owners of the shops there seem to think you’re worthless. After all, aren’t you? Camden is insanely busy at any given moment. If you move along without buying anything, there will be another sucker in a couple of minutes. You don’t have much value to anyone there.

At the Portobello Road Market, there are long stretches of quaint shops with people who actually want you there. They value your business. They’re polite to you, and they let you take your time without harassing you to either buy something or go on your merry way.

Portobello Road is awesome. It’s what everyone imagines when they think about shopping in the smaller parts of London. It’s a wonderful place.

I bought some awesome stuff today.

For thirty pounds, I got a pocket watch necklace shaped like a heart, a red maxi skirt, and a cream and green dress. I love all of it. I love Portobello Market. The only reason we didn’t stay longer was that it started raining. I am glad that I got to buy some nice things. I’m also pleased to have spent the day with my friends Shannon, Cynthia, Zelda, Colin, Jim, and Stephen. Those people are brilliant.

Follow this blog for more travel updates as I finish up my adventures in London!

Day Twenty-Seven: Just Say YES

Tina Fey once said, “Say, ‘yes’ to everything, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” This quotation is so profound to me that I’ve put it as this blog’s subtitle. It’s also been serving as my life strategy for the duration of my trip to London. Yesterday was no exception. 

Let me tell you how saying, “yes” to more things can lead to awesome experiences.

Have you ever had a day that was so fantastic and filled-to-the-brim with adventure that you didn’t want it to end? That was the day that I had yesterday.

I said, “yes” to more things. I said, “yes” to adventure. You can do it, too.

We started off the day by heading out toward Leicester Square. Shannon, Stephen, Cynthia and I went to lunch at Bella Italia before going to M&M World. I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a massive, four-level store and interactive experience revolving around the colorful, chocolate delight that is M&M candy. We took pictures, bought some candy, and wandered around the place for an hour or so. It wasn’t until we took one picture in particular that I got my first opportunity to say, “yes” to something.

Stephen, Cynthia, Shannon and I wanted to take a picture in front of the Abbey Road setup because there were four of us. I approached a staff member and asked her if she would mind taking a picture of us. She said she’d be delighted, and then asked if we would be willing to help her with something. She wanted us to take a survey. I agreed. She took the picture. Everything went very well.

We ended up going behind the scenes to participate in a taste test. While I’m not at liberty to discuss the details of the survey, I will say that it was an interesting experience. I would never have been able to participate in it if I hadn’t said, “yes.”

Afterward, Shannon, Cynthia, and I went to the Globe. I hadn’t anticipated going there, but when Shannon suggested it, I said, “yes.” Are you sensing a pattern? We poked around a bit. It was spectacular. I still can’t believe I got to stand where Shakespeare might have stood at one point in history. Life is surreal.

Speaking of surreal, we also went to the Clink Prison Museum, which was interesting, but in a much different sense. We had to pay almost eight pounds. I’m not sure it was worth it. I did, however, enjoy the torture exhibit. Much more extensive than the one at the Tower.

Our final stop for the day was The National Gallery. I’d been dying to see some art. The museum was extraordinary—much more so because it was absolutely free. Visual art never ceases to amaze me. We even got to see the impressionist exhibit. I saw original pieces by Van Gogh, Manet, Money, Cezanne, and Seurat. It was all so incredible. I can’t put it into words.

I could go on and on about yesterday. I said, “yes” to a few things and it changed my whole day. Whatever tomorrow holds, I’m looking forward to it. I’m saying, “yes.” Subscribe to, follow, or check out my blog to find out what happens to me today.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day Twenty-Six: The War

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My final class field trip took place today. Additionally, I realized that I have less than a week left in this fantastic country. I have mixed emotions. On one hand, I want nothing more than to go back home. I miss home-cooked meals, sleeping in my own bed, and so many other things.  At the same time, I am more in love with London than I've ever been with any other city, including New York, It's everything that I hoped it would be and so much more. Every day is better than the last (for the most part). I wish I could stay here a little bit longer.

I digress.

I went down to the front steps of Astor at 8:45 this morning to meet my world civilization class. Unfortunately, they were not there. I was an hour early. I went back upstairs.

At 9:45, I actually met up with my professor and classmates on the front steps of the college. We walked to the British Library to see an exhibit on propaganda. Since I love Nineteen Eighty-Four, it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed the exhibit. The only thing I didn't like was being unable to take pictures. Some of the advertisements were definitely shocking. I wish I could share them. Here's an example:

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As you can imagine, there was plenty of propaganda-related memorabilia in the library's store. I purchased the most recent Penguin Classics edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four. The title and author are completely censored by black barsI thought it was fitting.

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After visiting the library, we broke for lunch. Zelda, Colleen, and I went across the street to Pizza Express. We shared the dough knots dipped in garlic butter. I also had pizza. Everything was delicious. I'm still not sure who told me that the food in England was awful. It must've been someone who's never actually eaten anything here before.


When lunch was over, we took the Tube to Westminster. St. James Park was close to the Tube station. We wandered through there on our way to the Churchill War Rooms Museum. The scenery was lovely. London has given me a newfound appreciation for parks. I totally understand why people want to sit outside now. The weather was so nice today. I could've spent the whole afternoon under a tree.


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The Churchill War Rooms were spectacular. I'd heard nothing but good things about them before my trip, and I was not disappointed. I love Winston Churchill, and the wartime proceedings are fascinating to me. The War Rooms were set up just as they had been during World War II. Everything was still in remarkable condition. I took too many pictures. I'll only post a few here.


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Somehow, though, Zelda and I managed to skip an entire room. We missed the Winston Churchill Museum. We only went through the War Rooms. I don't know what happened. At least we made it to the exit.


After the field trip, Zelda and I hung out in my room and tried to get some homework done. We didn't get very far. It was nice to hang out. Then I went to dinner with Ashley, Heather, Jim, and Jordan. We ate somewhere on Tottenham Court Road. It was awesome. We had dessert at Haagen Daz. Oh, man. What a day.


Now we're all hanging out in my room. Colleen and Raneem are in here, laughing and being loud and it's hilarious. They've had a great night so far. It's all very entertaining. Those girls are wonderful. Oh my gosh.


I don't want to leave London. I want to stay here forever. I am so torn. Anyway, I need to go to bed. We're going to M&M World tomorrow. I cannot wait.

Day Twenty-Five: The World's End

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Tuesday was exhausting for no reason in particular. I had my last day of classes, which was honestly bittersweet. It's strange to me that I have finals on Monday. We're leaving on Wednesday. I think I might actually be looking forward to going home. I will miss it here, but you know, I will hopefully be back at some point in the future.

Classes, as I said before, were bittersweet, really. It was my last class day, not counting finals. In film studies, we watched Trainspotting, which is a film about Scottish heroin addicts. I'd seen it before, but I was still excited. For some reason, I had a hard time staying awake. That was strange. After film studies, I had to take a nap because I couldn't keep my eyes open. Then, I went to world civilization and learned about World War II. Today, we're going to the Chuchill War Rooms Museum. Aw, yeah.

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Once classes were finished, I returned to my room to watch Catfish. Cynthia, Shannon, Heather and I ended up hanging out and watching it together. I'm really going to miss those wonderful ladies.

Later that evening, Shannon and I went with Colin, Jim, and Stephen to a pub in Camden called The World's End. You may notice that The World's End is also the title of a movie featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. I thought that this pub would be the one featured in the film. It wasn't. It was pretty nice, though, just not what I expected.

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Feeling a bit let down by The World's End, we all hopped on the Tube and headed back to The Court, which never lets us down. I ate the smothered chicken and it was delicious. Also, I really enjoyed hanging out with everyone. I do know that all this quality time is going to make it harder to leave. We won't think about that.

Today, I have my very last field trip. Tomorrow, I think a bunch of us are going to Camden Market. My time in this country is coming to a close. The less I think about that, the better off we'll be.

 

 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day Twenty-Four: Urban Playground

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Yesterday wasn't one of the best days, but it was one of the best nights. During the day, I had classes, as per usual. In film studies, we watched The Devil Rides Out starring Christopher Lee. It was an example of "Hammer horror." Very cheesy, but I still enjoyed it. And Shannon and I now have a lot more inside jokes. In world civilization, we studied World War I, which is one of my favorite periods in history.

After classes, Shannon and I headed over to Trafalgar Square to purchase tickets to see The Hothouse starring John Simm, an actor who played The Master in Doctor Who. The play was very interesting. It's a political satire that takes place in a sanatorium. The dialogue and subtext was a little confusing, but I enjoyed it. And John Simm was beautiful. Shannon and I purchased our tickets for 10GPB. They were balcony seats. It wasn't terrible, but it certainly wasn't ideal. Luckily, we were upgraded to seats on the second row of the audience, close enough to almost touch the actors! Afterwards, we went to the stage door and got to meet some members of the cast. Also, I was so nervous that I took the worst photo of my life with Shannon's camera. I'm ashamed. Still, I didn't pee my pants or take my clothes off. I count that one as a win.

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When the show was over, we ran around Trafalgar Square like little kids. It's beautiful at night. The fountains were lit up and everything. We climbed on top of the monument in the center and took pictures with the lions. It was fantastic.

I am head-over-heels in love with this city. It's breathtakingly lovely. I don't want to leave. I can only hope that someday, I'll be able to come back here. I'd love to live here. I guess we'll see.

 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 23: Can't Complain

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I don't remember anything major happening yesterday. The fire alarm woke me from a sound sleep at seven in the morning. After collecting my keys and my purse, I staggered outside with the rest of the grumpy horde. Luckily, whatever fire existed in the building was extinguished quickly, and I was able to go back to bed. I didn't even care that people saw me in my pajamas. I was not on fire.

After waking up again, I did some homework. Matt and I went out for coffee and to Paperchase.  Matt, Jordan, Ashley, and I all hung out in my room and played Hangman until Shannon got back from Scotland. I had forgotten about Hangman. We all went to The Court and hung out for a while before heading back to the dorms.

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I gave Shannon my fries from the other night to heat up in the microwave. Just as she was about to eat them, Heather stumbled into the kitchen with her foot wrapped in a towel. A bloody towel. I followed her back to her room to help fix her up. Luckily, I'm not uncomfortable with blood. She cut her foot on some glass, but I managed to stop the bleeding and put some gauze on the wound.

Finally, I went to bed. Or at least, I tried to. My mind wouldn't calm down. I only got four hours of sleep. Oh, well, whatever. There's always tonight.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 22: Camden Town

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I spent a great deal of time in Camden yesterday. After eating the best chicken burger of my life (at Byron), Ashley, Heather, and I headed over to Camden Market. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, it's like one giant flea market with stalls and tents full of clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, and anything else you could possibly imagine. I am going back as much as I can before we go back to the States. It is amazing. I only spent 20GPB, and I got a lot of stuff. I even got to use some haggling skills I picked up in Mexico.

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Exhausted after a few hours of shopping, the girls and I headed back to the dorms. I had a date to prepare for. I don't want to give too much away, but it was probably the best first date I've ever been on. Of course, he doesn't know that (but he probably figured it out). He took me to a pub in Camden, where we sat and talked for two hours. Then, we went to the highest hill in London. When we got to the top, we could see the entire city skyline lit up in the darkness (I KNOW).

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This guy was a perfect gentleman. The conversation was excellent, and we're pretty comfortable around each other. Everything went swimmingly. Enough gushing, I know. But I'm pretty happy.

I only have ten more days in this beautiful city. Today, I'm doing homework, going to Abbey Road, and who knows what else. I'm pretending I don't have to go back to the States. So far, the denial is working for me. And on that note, I'm going to get back to work. Tomorrow is still a school day, after all.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Days 20 and 21: Bittersweet Symphony

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Thursday, I was almost struck down by wave of nostalgia. Oddly enough, I was feeling nostalgic about my time in London, even though it's far from over. I only have two weeks left over here. Quite frankly, it's not enough time. I want to stay here forever.

London is everything I expected it to be and more. It's a city that doesn't quite feel like a city. It's sprawling and intimate at the same time. The people, for the most part, keep to themselves. The ones I have spoken to are friendly and polite (save for a few drunken gentlemen at the pub). The city is bustling during the day. At night, it sleeps. It's wonderful.

But I digress. I started this post to talk about the events of Thursday and Friday. Thursday was fairly boring. I went to the British Museum with my world civilization class. The building was massive. We were supposed to spend the majority of our time in the Asia galleries because we'd been studying China and Japan. Zelda and I breezed through the gallery. We wandered around some of the other exhibits, but they were hot and crowded. When we finally met up with the rest of the group, it felt to me as though an eternity had passed.

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We had lunch at a little tea place a couple minutes' walk from the museum. I wasn't hungry because I'd gotten too hot, but I did order a slice of lemon cake and a Nutella cupcake (delicious). Then, we visited the Twinings Tea Museum, which was only one big room. I don't have much to say about that.

After the field trip, I came back to my room and took a nap because I'm still getting over being sick. Next, I went to the Spaghetti House with Cynthia, Matt, Stephen, and Jim in honor of Cynthia's birthday. I ordered chicken wings, and I only got three. Appetizer portion. Thanks, Europe! Anyway, it was good. Once we'd finished eating, Jim went to an Internet cafe, Stephen and Cynthia ran to Tesco, and Matt and I wandered around in search of an ATM.

Later, I went to the pub with Matt, Jim, and John. We didn't stay very long because it was crowded and hot. Are you sensing a theme here?

Friday (yesterday), I hung out with Heather and Ashley for most of the day. I love those ladies. We had lunch at Pizza Express and wandered around Baker Street in search of the Beatles store. Although it was difficult, we managed to find it. The store wasn't huge, but it had an excellent selection. I didn't end up buying anything. The t-shirts along were 25GPB. No thank you.

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We got back from our excursion and rested for several hours. Then, we went to East Street for dinner. It was some of the best Asian food I've ever eaten. We came back to the dorms, changed clothes, and did our hair and makeup. Once we were ready, we headed out to O'Neill's with Angelica, Jordan, and Matt for a little bit of dancing. It was fantastic. A bit too crowded for my taste, but I managed all the same. By the time we got back, I was exhausted.

I only have eleven days or so until I go home. It's bittersweet, it really is. I love this city. I could picture myself spending a great deal more time here. This experience has been extraordinary for me. It's done so much good. I can't wait to tell everyone all about it. With that being said, there are a couple of things (and people) I miss back home. I guess when it comes down to it, I am a little glad I'll be going back to the States at the end of all of this.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Day Nineteen: The Ladykillers

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This post is going to be brief because I'm getting ready to go out on another field trip. This post should be quick. Yesterday was honestly pretty uneventful. I had both my classes yesterday. Nothing major happened.

In film studies, we watched Victim, which is an interesting piece about homosexuals in Britain during the sixties. Homosexuality was illegal back then. If someone was convicted of "buggery," he or she would be sentenced to life in prison, or at the very least, ten years in prison. The movie was intense. I liked it, though it did seem a bit heavy-handed at times.

In world civilization, I had another test. The only bad thing about having classes that last a few weeks is that I have a test just about every other class. I did study, however, so I think I did fine.

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Last night, Shannon and I went down to the Vaudeville Theater at the Strand to see if we could get tickets for The Ladykillers. If you've been following my blog, you know that we watched the film version in class not too long ago. We managed to get tickets for 25GBP, which was a lot better than I expected. Then, we ate at Garfunkel's and had some deep conversations. But I won't get into any of that.

The Ladykillers was a wonderful show. The acting was all right, but the costumes and the set really knocked it out of the park. I highly recommend it to anyone in or near London.

I'm going to miss this city so much. I wish I didn't have to leave it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Day Eighteen: A Study in Film

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For our field trip today, my film studies class visited the London Film Museum, located on the South Bank. I wasn't sure what to expect from this excursion, but I was optimistic. That's another thing I'll say about England--this trip has made me a great deal more optimistic. But I digress. Let's talk about the museum.

The London Film Museum has received... mixed reviews, to say the least. When I looked it up online, the general consensus was that the museum was not very good. Many people wanted their money back. However, I would have to strongly disagree. While the museum was not as large or extensive as it could have been, it was impressive. I enjoyed my visit.

As someone who loves movie memorabilia, I viewed the museum as a treasure trove. There were so many different pieces. I'm still not sure I saw them all. From Bette Davis' gloves to Christian Bale's Batman costume, the tiny museum was packed with fascinating items. Pictured below are just some of my favorites:

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As I said before, these pictures are a few of almost a hundred that I took today. Needless to say, I got a little bit carried away. The museum was awesome. I would love to go back. If you're in the London area, I highly recommend it.

After lunch and a little bit of downtime, I headed out for the second part of my field trip. Shannon, Katie, Alena, and I headed to the Curzon to see Renoir, a French film that counts toward our foreign film requirement for class. I loved that movie. Although I didn't know much about Renoir going in, I was amazed by the film's cinematography, character arcs, and well-written dialogue. Now, I really want to learn more about Renoir and maybe see some of his paintings.

As you can see, I've had a tiring day. I'm still getting over being sick, too. I guess it's time for me to go to bed. Goodnight!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Day Seventeen: Back on the Northern

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My classes met again today. Neither one was extraordinary, though once again, I did enjoy them. Especially my film studies class.


Today, we discussed Swinging London, Richard Lester, and the Beatles movie A Hard Day's Night. Needless to say, I participated a lot more in the class discussion. The movie was fantastic as always, and I enjoyed learning more about its significance. In world civilization, we talked about the Middle East and Asia, and I learned a great deal. Also, I got an excellent grade on my journal entry, which made me happy.


After classes, Shannon and I headed down to Primark. I returned some clothes and bought a pair of shorts and a skirt. It's so hot here. I needed them. By the time we were through, it was time for dinner. Shannon and I met Cynthia, Matt, Stephen, and Jim for dinner at a little Italian place. The food was delicious.


Next, Shannon and I headed over to the BBC Broadcasting House to wait for John Finnemore. He's the writer and one of the actors in Cabin Pressure, and he is adorable. We listened to Cabin Pressure while we waited for his show to finish. At first, we didn't think we'd gotten the right time. Eventually, however, we did get to see him. He was absolutely precious.


Also, I didn't embarrass myself talking to him, which should count for something.


Above all else, we discovered that the Northern Line is up and running! No more delays, crowding, or uncomfortable detours! I'm so relieved! You have no idea. Thank God for small blessings, am I right?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day Sixteen: Fan-tastic

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Today, it hit me hard that I only have two weeks left in this beautiful city. There are a couple of things I haven't done yet. I need to get a move on. I'd hate to waste this opportunity. Who knows when I'll be able to come over here again?

With that in mind, I can only hope that my health improves. Today is my second real sick day, and I don't like it. Not at all. I was completely unable to breathe through my nose today. On top of that, I have a cough.

However, my friends, all is not lost. I was able to locate and purchase a fan today. My room no longer feels like the inside of a firework on the Fourth of July. And I got to have lunch with Kaitlyn, who is fantastic. Today, honestly, was pretty decent.

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Classes tomorrow, unfortunately. I am weirdly looking forward to them. Admittedly, I'm not enjoying having homework while I'm abroad, but it isn't so terrible. The schedule is nice. I've always been a creature of order, after all.

Anyway, I should be getting ready for bed soon. Class in the morning and afternoon, and then I'm popping back to Primark to return some clothes. After that... well, who knows?

Days Fourteen and Fifteen: Hanging with Emily

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I haven't been updating this blog as much as I thought I would. I've been so busy. Friday I met Emily, my friend from Chicago, for breakfast at a little place on the corner. After drinking my large mocha and eating my delicious croissant (free with a large drink), we set out on an adventure.

Our first stop on our journey was Starbucks. Emily got an iced latte and I got a passion fruit tea because it was so hot outside. Next, we went to Paperchase. I need to stay away from Paperchase. I purchased a puzzle eraser, a planner, a red phone booth notepad, and a Kindle case (which I am returning because I don't need it). It's a store full of notepads, stationery, and organizers. I don't need to go there alone. I don't trust myself.

We went to Primark. I came out of Primary a changed woman. That's a beautiful store. I spent a lot of money in there (think of it as English Forever 21), but I have to take some of the stuff back because it didn't fit me.

Then, Emily and I got on the Tube and went to Portobello Market. I got a pair of black pumps for five pounds, a wallet for five pounds, and a bird shirt for ten pounds. That market is awesome.

That evening, Emily and I had dinner at Strada, an Italian restaurant, with Emily's mother. It was delicious. Afterwards, we went to see 39 Steps, which is one of the funniest plays I've ever seen. Also, the lead actor was very attractive. And it was a Hitchcock play, so overall, it was delightful.

Yesterday, I woke up unable to breathe out of my nose. My throat was on fire. I had no appetite. I did a load of laundry and then fell back asleep for several hours. I met up with Emily again outside my dorm. We changed clothes and got ready to go out. On the Tube, the Northern Line was out, so we had to take another route to Picadilly Circus. We had dinner at Planet Hollywood before going to see The Phantom of the Opera.

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The Phantom of the Opera means the world to both of us. It is the foundation on which our friendship was built. We've been trying to see it together for a decade. Last night, that dream came true. It was one of the best nights I've had in my life.

I can't believe I only have two more weeks abroad. I want to stay forever. I'm in love with this city.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Days Twelve and Thirteen: Working for the Weekend

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Yesterday was yet another day of classes. I don’t like the “study” part of study abroad. In film, we watched Billy Liar, which I liked more than I thought I would. After film, I went back to my room to nap and study. In world civilization, we had our first exam. It covered the Reformation, voyages of discovery, the Scientific Revolution, and the Enlightenment. I’m glad that I studied, and I think I did well.

I’ve been abroad now for almost two weeks. It’s an interesting feeling. Time is going by so fast, and I don’t think I’ll be ready to leave when July 31 rolls around. I’ve never felt so at home anywhere before. I feel like I’m supposed to be here.

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Last night, we went on the London Eye River Cruise, which wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would somehow be more excited. On the plus side, I did get a bunch of cool pictures. After we got back from the cruise, a couple of us went out to The Court. I didn’t stay long because I was sleepy.

Today, I went on another field trip with my world civilization class. We visited the Victoria and Albert Museum, which was pretty awesome. I want to go back for their David Bowie exhibition. I wish it didn’t cost money, but it’s going to be worth it. After accidentally paying for 16GPB chicken at lunch, I followed everyone to the National Portrait Gallery. It was much better than I expected. Zelda and I collected a lot of names. We’ll see how we did on Monday.

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Tonight, I’m staying in because I don’t feel too well. Tomorrow I’m spending the day with Emily, and I definitely want to be well-rested for that. I'm so excited!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Days Ten and Eleven: So Very Tired

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I was supposed to write this blog post (the first half at least) yesterday, but I was way too exhausted. That’s all there is to it. I haven’t been getting enough sleep at all. I need to work on going to bed earlier. It’s so difficult, though, because there’s so much to do here. I don’t want to miss a second.

Yesterday, I had another day of classes. We watched The Ladykillers in film studies, which I absolutely loved. In world civilization, we talked about the scientific revolution. I got to use my knowledge of Latin and the Bible, which was pretty awesome. I did feel like a know-it-all, though. I didn’t like that part.

After a little bit of downtime yesterday, I met almost everyone in front of Astor for the Jack the Ripper walking tour. I’ve always been fascinated with Jack the Ripper. On top of that, the cost of the tour was included in our overhead costs. I didn’t have to pay a dime.  The tour was everything that I had expected and more. Our guide was informative and easy to listen to. My only complaint about the tour was how uncomfortable it made me. I felt so awful for those women. They didn’t deserve such a terrible death. 

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Oh, and Jim made me take a picture of this statue of a goat. I don’t understand it. Enjoy:Image

This morning, I met my film studies class for our field trip to The Cinema Museum. It was a neat little dive funded by donations. It had originally been the workhouse that housed Charlie Chaplin’s mother, and we even got to sit in the room where he had often visited her. I wanted to give the museum money before we even went on the tour. 

Our guide was an adorable old man with piercings in his ears, eyebrows, and chin. Strange, man. He clearly had a passion for film and filmmaking, and I enjoyed his guidance as we went through the museum. There were so many interesting pieces of memorabilia, including carpeting from old theaters, film stills, seating signs, and all sorts of other treasures. 

When the tour was over, we all had lunch at a pub. It was delicious, and I had plenty to bring back to the dorm. Tonight, I’m going to see A Field in England as an extension of our field trip earlier. Tomorrow I guess I'll tell you how I liked it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day Nine: Wibbly Wobbly

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Today was fantastic, absolutely fantastic. And, you know what? So was I.

Although I had to wake up pretty early this morning, I hopped out of bed and immediately started getting ready with a smile on my face. I met a group of girls downstairs. In spite of the early hour, we were eager for our departure. Once we made sure that everyone was present, we left Astor College and walked toward Goodge Street.

My stomach was empty, but my heart was light as we made our way toward the Tube station. Unfortunately, the gates were closed. My heart dropped into my stomach. The girls and I exchanged nervous glances. What were we supposed to do? Luckily, there was an attendant standing just inside the gates. We asked him when the gates were going to open.

“When do they open?” he asked. “Hm, let me think…they open right now! It’s your lucky day, ladies!” And he opened the gates. We all broke out in smiles of relief. It’s nice to encounter someone who has a sense of humor.

We rode the Tube to the train station, purchased our tickets, and boarded the train. As soon as we started moving, everything slowed down. The train chugged along at a leisurely pace. Everyone was quiet—except for our group. I tried to get some work done, but I had a hard time concentrating. Two and a half hours later, we finally arrived.

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Cardiff is not a big capital city. I had never considered going there before getting into Doctor Who. Not surprisingly, the Doctor Who Experience is about the only interesting thing in Cardiff. We passed a few restaurants while walking toward the bay, but that was about it. We did go through a neighborhood. We got a bit lost. At one point, our group was standing on a street corner, looking around madly, when a woman on a bike pulled up.

“Are you girls lost?” she asked.

We nodded as one.

She smiled and gave us amazing directions, and we made it to Cardiff Bay and the Experience in no time. The building didn’t look too exciting on the outside. It looked like a giant worm made out of concrete. Inside, however, the magic began.

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I’m not sure how to describe the Doctor Who Experience. If I broke it all down, this post would be never-ending. What I will tell you, though, is that it was worth the train ride. It was even worth the train ride back, which was even longer and hotter because there wasn’t air conditioning.

All in all, I’m having the time of my life over here. Each and every day has something new and exciting. I am so blessed to have been given this opportunity. Thanks to everyone for supporting me and helping me get here. I love everyone, especially the people who are reading this post. You have no idea how much your thoughts and prayers are helping.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Day Eight: A Little Help from My Friends

In spite of sleeping in this morning, I didn’t feel well when I woke up. My exhaustion was most likely the result of staying up until three in the morning. I need to stop doing that. 

This afternoon, I got lunch with Heather, Ashley, and Shannon again. We went to the Spaghetti House, which is across from Tesco. Bet you can’t guess what they specialize in. Shannon and I split a pizza, which was fantastic. I don’t regret a single bite of that pizza. We also had some interesting conversations at the restaurant. I really love every one of those girls. I’m blessed to have found such awesome friends. 

After picking up a few things at Tesco, we headed back to the university. Shannon and I did some laundry (which was difficult, considering that the laundry room was sweltering). We were both surprised to find that the whole cap on the detergent went into the wash. Not a cap full of detergent—the entire cap, detergent and all. Fascinating. 

I got in touch with Emily while waiting for my clothes to dry. She’d just landed in London a few hours prior and wanted to meet up with me. I sat on the front steps until she came by. At first, I didn’t recognize her. I’d forgotten she was blonde. We hung out at my dorm for a bit, folded my clothes, and headed back out. 

One trip to the hotel and back, a pub dinner, another pub hangout, and a walk to the Tube station later, Emily was gone again. I missed her right away. After all, we never get to spend much time together, and it’s harder knowing that she’s so close. On the bright side, I might get to see her next weekend! I cannot wait. Our friendship is wonderful. I’m so thankful for her.

 Tomorrow, I’m headed out, bright and early, to the Doctor Who Experience. Needless to say, I hope I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

Day Seven: One Week



Today offered a nice change of pace from the daily grind. I slept in, got dressed, and met up with a few of the girls for a shopping trip. Cynthia, Shannon, Ashley, Heather and I trekked over to Oxford Street in search of new clothes. We could've taken the Tube, but the weather was nice, and we didn't want to waste it.

We popped into Topshop first, but their prices were too high. Also, I couldn't seem to find anything in my size. Next, we headed down the street to H&M, where we ended up spending most of our time. They were having a massive sale. I bought a black skater skirt, an orange top, and a sweater for £18 (about $27), which wasn't too bad. Before heading home, we stopped at Costa to get frozen drinks. They were delicious.


After we returned to the university, we got cleaned up and headed out once again. This time, we went to The Court, our favorite pub. I ordered fish and chips (again). We spent a lot of time at The Court, came back to the university, and hung out until around three in the morning. Absolutely fantastic.


I cannot believe that I've been here for a week. The days are really flying by. I can honestly say that this has been one of the best weeks of my life, and I know this month is only going to get better and better each day. London is a gorgeous city, and I really feel like I fit in here. Most of the cities in America feel violent, scary, claustrophobic. But London isn't like that. People keep to themselves and are, for the most part, quiet. There is a bit of hustle, but it's not too much. People take their time--with the exception of rush hour. In the restaurants, they won't even bring you your check unless you ask for it. It's awesome.


I do love America, I promise I do. It's just that I've never felt this comfortable before. Ironic, isn't it?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Day Six: Freedom

I went on another set of field trips today. This time, it was with my world civilization class. We met in front of Astor College and took the Tube to Tower Hill. After we arrived, we got our tickets and proceeded through the gates to the infamous Tower of London. It was fitting, I thought, for us to be visiting a legendary prison on Independence Day. As it turned out, the whole day ended up being all about freedom.

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While at the Tower, we had the opportunity to see the torture chamber, the Bloody Tower, the Crown Jewels, the Traitor’s Gate, and several other fantastic sites. I took a lot of pictures. What surprised me, however, was the lack of torture devices present. The assumption is that torture was prevalent throughout the ages, but that was not at all the case. According to placards at the Tower, torture was rare and was used only in extreme cases. I guess it makes sense that there weren’t many torture devices there after all.

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Based on the information I gathered from the trip, I realized how truly blessed I am to live in a world where I’m not put on the rack for saying the wrong thing. So many of the freedoms I take for granted are ideas that have gotten other people put to death. As much as America bothers me sometimes, I really am thankful to live in the States. More importantly, I’m happy to live in this century.

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Colleen, Zelda, and I had lunch at Subway. Yes, I know. It was one of the closest restaurants to the Tower, and we had limited time to eat, so we had to make due. I ordered a turkey and cheese on Italian herb and cheese and was surprised to find that it tasted familiar. Lunch, overall, was delicious and cheap. I’ll definitely be hitting up Subway again. My stomach is growling just thinking about it.

After lunch, we met back up with Dr. Rickman and took the Tube to our next destination: a walking tour themed around crime and punishment. Once again, I couldn’t help thinking of freedom. As our guide took us all around London, I thought about how much the justice system has evolved. I considered what America would be like under the rule of a king, and I didn’t like it. The walking tour was entertaining. Our guide was excellent, and I did a lot of thinking. I was worried that I couldn’t survive a two-hour trek after that morning’s activities, but everything turned out much better than I expected.

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I’m starting to learn that that’s the way life is—most of the time, at least. I’ve always considered myself a pessimist. This trip has been one big learning experience. I tend to think the worst of people, especially people I don’t know very well. Already, I have been pleasantly surprised by some of the people whom I have encountered on this trip. God is doing big things in my life right now. He’s teaching me patience, optimism, and trust. I have freedom as an American and as a daughter of the King. And I’m pretty stinking happy. That’s a pretty big deal for me.

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