united kingdom

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 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.

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.

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.

 

 

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.

 

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.

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.

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.

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!

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?

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.

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!

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.

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.

Day Seven: One Week

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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?


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.

Day Five: An Awful Lot of Running

I had class again today. In film studies, we watched some British documentaries, including Listen to Britain, London Can Take It, and O Dreamland. I wish I had been more awake. The documentaries were interesting, but since I didn’t get much sleep last night, it was hard for me to pay attention. I did enjoy London Can Take It, but the other two seem to have escaped my memory. All I know for certain is that O Dreamland was creepy. 

In world civilization, we discussed the voyages of discovery, which was pretty interesting. Once again, my energy level was low. I felt terrible about it. I need to get more sleep tonight. 

All that happened after class was that we wandered around London and went to The Court, our new favorite pub. I have a field trip bright and early tomorrow, so it’s time for me to go to sleep. No pictures today, but plenty tomorrow! I did buy some batteries, after all.

Day Four: At the Cinema

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I had my first class field trip today. My film studies professor led all of us on a tour around London in search of famous cinemas. Some were old, some were new, and some were very, very cool. After we stopped and looked at several cinemas, we headed down to South Bank to visit the British Film Institute. Since we got there around noon, it was time to break for lunch.

Shannon, Katie, and I ate at Wagamamas, which was absolutely delicious. We did feel bad, however, about not finishing our food. In Europe, if you don't finish a meal, it is assumed that something was wrong with your food. In our case, we simply didn't have the time to finish eating everything before heading back. Luckily, I think we were able to make the waitress understand that we did indeed enjoy our meal.

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Upon arriving at the British Film Institute again, we split up into groups. Shannon, Katie, and I headed over to the store to check out some books and DVDs. Since I'm a huge movie buff (shocking, I know), I purchased three titles: Rabbit Hole, Archipelago, and a David Lynch triple feature with Mulholland Drive, The Elephant Man, and Inland Empire. I can't wait to watch them!

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We purchased tickets to see a film outside of class in order to meet one of our four requirements. Around five, we took the Tube back to South Bank to see Lilith, which turned out to be a phenomenal film. We took the Tube back to the university, went out to the pub, and finally came back. All in all, it was a fantastic evening. I have classes tomorrow, but I'm looking forward to them. Also, I'm becoming a pro at the Tube. I think I'm becoming much more optimistic.

What do you think of these blog posts so far?

Day Three: So Begin Classes and So Ends the Quest

ImageToday, on the whole, was a satisfying day.

With that being said, this day was broken down into several thoroughly unsatisfying parts, each with some kind of a good resolution. Nothing extraordinary happened. I didn't have an epiphany. My world wasn't rocked. I didn't even meet the beautiful English man who will no doubt become my husband (though I'm remaining optimistic). No, the day's events were simple and easy to break down. Honestly, I don't even have pictures for you. I know, it's upsetting.

For all of us students, classes started today. The "study" part of our study abroad is officially in session. My first class this morning was film studies, which I have been excited about since I got into this program. Better still, we spent a great deal of today's class meeting discussing Alfred Hitchcock and his various directorial marks, such as the significance of objects, the idea of "the wrong man," and the idea that the audience knows more than the characters. After a brief lecture, we watched Hitchcock's film Sabotage, also called The Woman Alone. The film was based off a novel called The Secret Agent that I had read before, but it didn't matter. I found myself engrossed in the film as the action and suspense played out on the screen. Once again, I was reminded of Hitchcock's genius. I love that man.

Watching that film also made me realize how long it's been since I've sat down and enjoyed a movie with zero distractions. I watch a lot of movies, but I'm always multitasking. I need to get out of the habit of texting or talking while watching a film. It's so much more enjoyable when I can tune in completely to the world of the movie. If nothing else, watching movies should allow me a reprieve from harsh reality. That's what they were designed to do. Why won't I let them?

Anyway, after a discussion of the film (part of which blew my mind because it was so deep), we headed over to Ramsay Hall for a quick lunch. I had chips. Oh, and a banana. It balances out.
My second class was world civilization since 1500, which I was also looking forward to (I'm strange, I know). Having read that book on the Tudors and been to Hampton Court yesterday, it's understandable that my favorite part of the lecture was the part involving the Tudors. That period in history fascinates me. Now that I've read about the royals and have seen where they held court, I can see how Savannah could fall in love with history. The historical figures feel real to me now. They aren't just names in a dusty textbook.

As soon as class was over, Shannon and I resumed the Neverending Shoe Quest. We got lost for a few minutes but managed to find our way to the Tube station and get where we wanted to go. Luckily, the nearest Nike store had a pair of blue trainers in my size that were on sale. I tried them on and they fit perfectly. The price was right. I bought them. Words cannot describe how happy I am to have finally found some decent shoes. My blisters are thankful. My heart is light.

I finished the evening with food from Tesco and a Katy Perry documentary called Part of Me. It's been getting rave reviews, and I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed it. Whether you're a Katy Perry fan or not (I wasn't), it's worth checking out.

Tomorrow, my film studies class is going on a field trip. I can't wait to see what's in store for me. I also want to go adventuring again tomorrow, now that I have decent shoes.

What do you think? What do I need to do while I'm in London?