Friday, April 29, 2011

the wedding. but not until you read some other junk too.

There is so much to tell and I've only skipped one day of blogging!

Yesterday (Thursday in London. I'm not sure what day it is in America anymore...), was the first day of classes. Nothing too exciting. Despite all attempts at paying attention, by the time I got to my second class, I was definitely struggling to stay away. Good thing everyone else was too. It's just been such a long couple of days.

After class, a bunch of us went and got lunch. Most went to Waffle Palace (and no worries my friends, one day I too will visit Waffle Palace) but two of the other girls, Hannah and Loraine, and I went to Tuk Tuk. It's this Thai food place not too far from the Centre and it was way good. Here's a little secret though. Some places in London (and possibly all of Europe?) won't give you free water. Dumb, I know. But sometimes the tap water (like in the Centre) is not so awesome tasting. So instead they ask if you want still or sparkling water (which is apparently what most Europeans drink, but I find it horrible.) and no matter your choice, they'll bring you a bottle of it and charge you. We have since asked if the water is free at every place we eat. I don't even care if we sound like idiots when we ask.

After lunch, Loraine had class and Hannah and I just walked around the neighborhood until deciding to have an adventure. We went back to the Centre and grabbed her Oyster card (which is a pass you can buy to use the tube) and picked up one of our other friends, Corey, and headed off to the closest tube station. We had no real plan except to head east because we hadn't been very far that way yet. We ended up getting off at the Holborn station and wandering around there until we stumbled upon this crepe place. It was so delicious and they were giant. Good thing we shared. Unfortunately we couldn't explore for very long because we had to be back at the Centre for I feel like I talk about food a lot. There's just so much to say about it...(and thankfully it's getting better than pea soup). Also random side note, my luggage got delivered during dinner as well. Yay!

Later that night a bunch of us decided to go to the London Eye. Luckily for me it was closed. Yes, that's right, I am happy it was closed. Can you imagine me, who is terrified of heights, on a giant farris wheel? Didn't think so. So anyways a bunch of us jump on the subway and all that jazz. We're on our way out of the station and I'm chatting away when all of the sudden bam. there's Big Ben. right in front of me. Not expecting that one. I didn't even realize that the Houses of Parliament were so close to the London Eye. and then right next to Big Ben is Westminster Abby. As you can tell, this turned into a much bigger event than we had planned. There were tons of people out and lots of crazies camping out for the wedding at Westminster. It was way cool to see everything at night and just a great little adventure.

Now onto what you all probably really care about. The Royal Wedding.
So yes, it was way cool to be here for the wedding. Everyone split up into a million different groups and the group I was with decided we weren't going to leave until 8 (much later than the group that left at 5). We went over to Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Family was before the wedding. Though we saw lots of cool things like the guards and the empty cars that would eventually take William, the Queen, etc. to Westminster, it took a while for us to see anything super cool. There are at least three entrances and exits of Buckingham and all of the empty cars drove past us. Once William and the Queen and their entourage were in the cars, they exited out a different way so we didn't see them up close. But really the fan fare wasn't so much about them anyways, if we're going to be honest. Finally we see cars with people in them. Two cars drive past, the first with Pippa and one of the other bridesmaids and the second with the rest of the bridesmaids and the page boy. Everyone but Pippa was a little kid and they were so adorable. Eventually two other cars came and da da da! It was Kate. Yes that's right. Kate Middleton, the (now) Duchess of Cambridge, drove past me when I was literally standing right next to the road. So freaking cool. She was absolutely gorgeous. I mean for real. I'm sure you've all seen pictures, but she really did look so amazing. Some other car with (probably) cool people drove past with them, but clearly they were not who I thought was important.

By that time, we had been standing for forever and didn't care so much if we stayed. We attempted to get to Hyde Park to watch the ceremony on giant screens they had up but, much to our surprise, we were barricaded into the palace. So we were forced to hang out there until they got back to the palace. This wasn't actually tortuous or anything. I saw the whole Royal family and Kate's family and the newly married couple up on the balcony. I didn't see when they kissed, which was disappointing, because there were so many people and we kept getting pushed around. But I did see them and took lots of pictures. It was definitely an experience I'll never forget.

That's basically all that happened today. I've attempted to do some homework, with not so much success. We also went to the Victoria and Albert Museum for about an hour, but because all the museums are free, I don't really feel like I need to spend a ton of time in them at once because I can just keep coming back over and over again. I also got to skype my family for a few minutes, which was fabulous.

Well folks, time for bed I think. I'm still trying to get over the time difference and the fact that having 7 other girls in the same room as you makes it a tad bit more difficult to get to sleep at a decent time and stay asleep throughout the night. But that's ok, I love them all anyways. =]

Also, I know you all really want to see pictures of these things, but the internet here basically stinks and takes a million years. So I promise to visit the nearby pub and put pictures up for you asap.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

i wish i went to hogwarts

So before I start, I'm just going to apologize now for the length of these posts. I don't want to forget any of the details myself, so there's just going to be a lot shared.

Anyways, on to the good stuff. I was sitting on my flight from Dallas to London when the desire to be like Harry Potter overwhelmed me once again. Now, I have some pretty legitimate reasons for wanted to be like Harry Potter, not just because he's awesome.

Reason 1: Apparation. Do you realize how much easier travel would be if we could apparate? Or even use the floo network or a portkey. All the magical ways of transportation, maybe with the exception of flying a broomstick, are faster than stupid muggle travel. I really was just not a fan of sitting in airports or airplanes all day.
Also, with apparation, there's no chance of delays or missed flights. Our flight out of SLC was an hour late, putting us in Dallas 15 minutes before our connecting flight departed. 5 of us decided to take our chances and try to make the flight, figuring that even if we did miss it, we could still be put on the later flight the rest of the people had switched to. Our flight out of Dallas was in a different terminal than the one our SLC flight landed in, so we had to literally run to the other terminal and find out gate. One of the girls had stopped at a gate and asked them to hold the plane but the lady told her the plane had already left. So now we're super freaking out. When we got there, there were like five people at the gate waiting for us and the plane was still sitting there. They let us on the plane and we rejoiced greatly. Especially when we later found out the other flight out of Dallas had been delayed another 2 hours. So glad I got on the flight I did. Minus the other part about how because I was so late, some lady had taken my window seat (cuz they were assigned seats) and I was stuck in the middle. Too bad I also didn't even realize that she was in my seat until an hour before our flight landed. Cool part though it our plane was giant. There were ten seats across. That's a lot of people. Also cool part, there was a soccer team from South Africa and one from England. Way nice to look at. =] Also one more cool part, they had a bajillion movies you could watch so I spent a good part of the flight wanted Burlesque and Megamind.

Reason 2: Your luggage can fit inside one small bag, as long as your super smart like Hermione and can extend your small bag. This would be absolutely fabulous. Especially when you almost miss your connecting flight so that your baggage doesn't make the flight. All 5 of us made the flight with no baggage. I really can't complain though because I was the only one of the 5 who had brought a carry on with a couple changes of clothes and toiletries. We're hoping they have our bags to us by tomorrow. We would really prefer not to be stuck without them longer than that.

Reason 3: You get to live in London aka my new favorite place in the whole world. Literally. I love it.

Reason 4: Come on, it would just be really cool to have magical powers and get to go to Hogwarts and all that stuff. =]

Random other non-Harry Potter related things about London so far.
--I have been up for the past 32.5 hours. I only slept for 2, maybe 3, of those hours. If I sound crazy, I blame it on my lack of sleep.
--I am having mixed feelings about the food here. For lunch, some of us went to this Indian place down the street and it was way good. For dinner, they made us pea soup. It's about as good as it sounds. And it looks like baby food. or maybe baby poop. Not so much a fan. Hopefully the food situation improves.
--I bought a pair of shoes for 5 pounds. I know, I know, I've only been here for one day and I've already bought a pair of shoes. I'm crazy. But really I'm not. I was intending on buying a pair of black flats when I arrived here anyways and then we stumbled upon this store where everything was 5 pounds. That's like $7 folks. I'd say it was a steal and a very smart buy.
--I am so glad I brought all my toiletries with me. There are a lot of other people who decided just to buy it here and it is not cheap. Because I don't have one of my bags, I was missing my contact solution and I'd forgotten to stick a travel one in my carry on. That was all I forgot luckily because one travel size thing of contact solution cost me 4 pounds. That's almost as much as my pair of shoes! Ridiculous.
--I know Kensington Park better than some Londoners probably do. One of the classes that we all have to take this semester is called London Walks and we have assigned walks we have to do around London. We had one of these walks once we arrived at the London Centre because they wanted to distract us from taking naps and increasing our problems with jet lag. We all assumed the walk was laid out in order of where things were geographically, but soon realized we were sadly mistaken as, time and time again, we backtracked to get to some other place. We saw a lot of cools things and I really enjoyed it but it was like a 4 hour walk, most of which was in Kensington Park where were kept getting lost.
--If there's more to say, I can't remember it anymore because I'm so brain dead. Maybe I'll remember something later...
I don't have a lot of pictures that I am in yet. But here's on at the Albert Memorial. Queen Victoria had it put up after her husband Albert died. It's giant and covered in gold. Super cool looking.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

oh hey there airport

The day has arrived. I'm at the airport waiting for my flight to Dallas, where I will get on another plan that will take me to London! Too bad I have another 4 hours before my flight is supposed to leave. And then, good news, it's delayed. So it's going to be about 5 hours hanging out here at the SLC airport. I hope you all don't think that I'm excited enough or just a freak to get here so early. No my friends, I am here because this is when my ride had to drop me off and I would rather be here early than have no ride at all. I'm tempted to go back to sleep on the floor though. Wonder how many weird looks I would get...On the bright side, I have discovered a whole new side of the airport. Typically I fly Southwest, and my terminal is always the very farthest terminal possible so I'd assumed I'd seen all there was to see. Who know there was a right side to the airport with more terminals, less walking to get to said terminals, and most surprising a Quiznos. I'm growing fonder of this side of the airport. Good thing I have so much time to enjoy it.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

random thoughts before the adventure

I leave for London in 3 days. 3 days. I'm having a hard time believing it myself. Traveling abroad has always been something that I would do one day, but now that day is Tuesday. I feel super unprepared. I'm moving into a new condo before I leave but I've been homeless since yesterday morning because the current residents haven't moved yet. Thus all of my belongings, including what I'm taking to London are currently shoved in my car, making it a tad difficult to pack. I did get a head start on my homework though. I know, I know, I'm a nerd. But I have to read six novels in six weeks while I'm there. And that's just for one class. I'm definitely going to get as much done before I leave as possible because who wants to be sitting around reading when they're in another country.

We had a prep class this semester so that they could tell us all the rules and how to be safe and whatnot before we actually get to Europe. Let me tell you, there are some crazy rules we have to abide by and some crazy things that could happen to us. First of all, one of the rules they emphasis a lot is no dating. anyone. not the other people in our study abroad group (though with 6 boys and 35 girls going, the odds aren't that good anyways). not the people in Europe. no one. I actually don't have a huge problem with this rule. I mean it's not like I'm going to England so that I can date. That would be stupid. I just think it's kind of weird. When you're going to school at BYU, all anyone can tell you is to go out and date and get married. Sometimes I just want to shout in their face that I do not want to get married yet. But then as soon as you get into a BYU Study Abroad program, they flip the switch and tell you that you are absolutely not allowed to date. One of our directors, Professor Miller, thinks this rule is dumb too. He told us we should fall in love, just don't let him know about it. haha I think my least favorite part of this prep class though was safety day. Talking about how to be safe in London actually doesn't make me feel safe at all. It makes me feel like I'm going to die. Ok, maybe not die, but definitely get robbed. According to Mr. Safety Man, London has one of the highest rates of petty crime. Now granted, this is better than the highest rate of murders or rapes, but still not so comforting. We were warned about getting on the tubes and having stuff stolen and getting our bags ripped off our shoulders while walking down the street. I'm not so much a fan of this. I would really prefer to be told that everything is going to be just fabulous. So then my paranoid self had to ask one of my coworkers, who happens to be from London, how safe it actually is. And basically, Mr. Safety Man exaggerated a lot. My coworker happily informed me that it was the same as any other big city like NYC or SF. Well folks, good news. Not only have I been to NYC multiple times, but I live in SF. I think I got the safety part down already.

So this same class also made us memorize the geographical location of London's various neighborhoods and all of the counties in England. Here's the thing, I don't even know that information about my own city. I thought this was a pretty ridiculous demand. But since then, I have seen London and England in a totally different way. I've been watching some British movies (because sometimes I just can't stop thinking about London) and I love being able to know exactly where they are when they say different locations. In one movies I was watching, An Education (which is a very strange movie by the way), they take a trip to Oxford. Now, everyone knows about Oxford but I had not idea previous to this class where it actually was. Somewhere in England was all I knew. But now I know that it's west of London, about an hour away. You probably could care less about this information, but I feel a lot smarter knowing where the heck people really are in England when they say they are going somewhere.

Oh there is so much I could say about London before I actually get there but I don't want to bore you too much. Soon, there will be fabulous stories to share and lots of pictures to show. But for now, it still feels kind of like a crazy dream...