Monday, April 30, 2012

"That was wwwicked!!!"

"I have been changed.... for good!!" My life might seriously be considered complete, as I have finally seen WICKED on broadway. And I'll never ever forget how good it was. We walked around for about an hour tonight, looking to see Phantom initially, then Les Mis when Phantom was sold out, then we thought we'd try Wicked in the last attempt of the night when Les Mis was completely full. Little did we know that when we arrived at the Wicked box office two minutes before the start of the show, we'd be offered fourth row seats for only 28 pounds!! I really can't stop thinking about how much I loved it, and how much I can't wait to see the next musical here. Matilda tomorrow, and Les Mis this Thursday! I'm in heaven!

As a large group, we visited both the British Library and the British Museum earlier today. I enjoyed both! I have to admit, I'm not naturally a huge museum person, but I'm trying to become one. Kind of like I'm trying to become passionate about Shakespeare while I'm here. It's starting to work... at least a little bit. Making progress. At the Library, it was fun to see some original lyrics (scribbles) of a few of the Beatles songs, including their hit Yesterday. I also saw Beethoven's tuning fork, the Magna Carter, and a few other favorite things which I can't remember at the moment. Maybe they weren't such favorites after all. I enjoyed the British Museum much more than I thought I would, all because of my Music Civ class. Never thought I'd say it, but that class paid off. I was able to see the Egypt exhibit, along with the Greek and Roman exhibits. I loved looking at the Greek and Roman sculptures! Some of them are definitely strange, but now that I know a bit of history behind them, they've become especially interesting.

(There's a man that draws these flags in front of the National Gallery at Trafalgar Square almost every day... I think it's super cool.)

Maybe more than any other lesson, I'm learning the importance of being educated. There are so many people here who know what it means to appreciate literature and to understand history and to embrace different cultures. Although I'm learning rapidly, I'm also rapidly learning how much I have yet to learn. I wish I could go back to every history class I've ever taken and work ten times harder at not just  memorizing the facts but really learning them and keeping them in my brain. I feel like I have a whole lot of homework to do on a whole lot of people and dates and events. I know I don't have to learn it all at once, but I've really been inspired while I've been here (over the the course of the last week going on two months) to take advantage of every opportunity to learn. I'm also discovering that I can change the way I think. Before this year, my brain wasn't wired to do statistics. Now that I've worked long and hard in a stats class, it is. And I figure that it's possible for the same thing to happen with history, Shakespeare, or whatever else I'd like to master. Time to get to work, baby.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sssunday in the City.

I'm stuffed to the brim. This evening the first counselor of the London North ward invited us over for dinner and dessert, which consisted of steak and Digestibles cookies. We've already been called to help in the primary, and have dates set to speak and sing in sacrament meeting. Yes, both. Why waste time, I guess... cut to the chase.

For the most part, today was very very cold and rainy. I don't believe I've really described this little basement apartment that five of us have been assigned to for the next six weeks. It's a nice roof over our heads, don't get me wrong. But it makes even the Elms look glorious! The shower's a 2' x 2' box with a shower head that touches even my head... I feel bad for the other two tall girls who have to use it. On full blast, it drizzles, so a person's gotta plan to either spend 30 minutes in the shower, or come out hardly cleaner than when they entered. By the smell of it, the lounge area must have a sewage pipe right outside the window. The beds are not much softer than an rock, and not much warmer either. The few outlets that are here have blown any voltage converters, meaning no blowdryers or appliances of any kind. Hence, the Tarzan look I've been portraying in every picture since I've arrived. But hey, at least I'll have some healthy hair when I return home. The kitchen is roomy and clean. And there's plenty of space for our things in our rooms. Despite a few glitches, I actually like it here, and I can always take refuge in the upstairs lounge when my toes start to freeze. It's an experience! 

The London North ward is really great to us. All my life, I've heard people go on about how "you'll always have a friend somewhere in the world as long as you're in the Church..." I'm not sure I really understood the significance of that until today. I was amazed by the familiar and comfortable feelings that a foreign ward could bring. The people in that ward are incredibly friendly, and I'm very excited to get to know as many of them as I can in the next six weeks.

The only picture I've got today is of five girls stuffed in a fascinating old elevator, so.... enjoy!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

All for a blasted alarm clock.

Today was a bit more relaxed than the last few, but still plenty eventful. The morning started out late again, with me still not owning a functioning alarm clock and all. But it worked out fine; a group of us quickly got ready and headed to Borough Market. The markets here might just be my favorite thing. I take that back... I can't get myself to choose a favorite, but I really like them. They're an awesome cultural experience with people of all kinds buzzing around everywhere and hundreds of little booths to explore and foods to sample. I'm looking forward to Portabello Road next Saturday.

Right next to the market was the London Bridge, which Brittany and Janessa and I had way too much fun on today. We imitated Fergie's music video of London Bridges and sang and danced. Yes, we got a few weird looks in the process, along with a funny man who wanted to dance with us... we probably won't try that again.

We saw Hay Fever today, a play that we had to read for class. It was put on at the Noel Coward Theatre (Noel Coward is the author of Hay Fever), which was built in 1903! It was beautiful, and it made me want to go to play after play after play in this city. It was a fun production with plenty of witty dialogue, and I really enjoyed it... until I had to come home and write a review about it. Still working on that. 

On the way home from the play, Kenzie and I still needed to find a blasted alarm clock, which turned into a two-hour event. Got on the wrong train (embarrassing), came back, took another train, stopped at Ben's Cookies, hit three different stores between two tube stops trying to find an alarm clock, finally found one at a store where you order items from a menu like you would at restaurant (so cool!), stopped at a two-story Tesco's to stock up on groceries, got creeped out by our ultra-friendly cashier, then walked home in the pouring rain and bitter wind. And now, my friends, I will be waking up tomorrow morning to my little battery-operated alarm clock which better work EXTRA well..... or else.

Friday, April 27, 2012

London Eye, Tower, Westminister Abbey, Covent Gardens, Hyde Park...

What a day. Today was the first day of classes: Shakespeare and British Theatre. I haven't gotten around to buying a little battery-operated alarm clock yet (since the English hardly believe in electrical sockets, at least in this apartment), so Hadley woke me up fifteen minutes before we had to leave this morning! I have to admit, I was off to a bit of a rough start. I wasn't feeling too great and for the first time I was feeling a bit homesick, but luckily that only lasted a few hours. Meghan patched it up by taking me to the London Tower (again), Big Ben, the London Eye, and Westminister Abbey. I loved spending some time getting to know her story and finding out more about the city at the same time.

Thanks to Meghan's hankering for some  macaroons, we made our way to Covent Garden, which was very enjoyable! We saw all sorts of things. They have a little market full of food and clothes and crazy people putting on crazy acts and musicians and people pretending to be statues... it was really great. I'll definitely be going back there. We couldn't find any macaroons there, but ended finding them at a little pastry shop right on our street on the way home from the tube. I absolutely love the markets here. In fact, I'll be waking up early to go to Borough Market tomorrow.

In the afternoon, Pres. Alan Phillips (stake president of the wards we'll be attending) met with us to assign us to certain wards. By the sound of things, these wards are going to be quite the cultural experience and I'm going to be a little white girl in the minority. Yes! Bring it on.

After the meeting, we (Caroline, Brittany, Joselyn, McKenzie, Janessa, Kyla, Tim, and myself) took off to Hyde Park to seek out the Peter Pan statue, and ended up taking a very nice and very long walk around town. Once we couldn't quiet our famished stomachs anymore, we took the tube back to Gloucester Road and tried out the famous London fish 'n' chips. I've never had them in America, but they were sure gooood here. I tried to ignore the fact that I probably could've filled half a mason jar with the grease they contained, and then I could enjoy them.

  Mom, I know you love these, so I ate enough for the both of us. Don't worry. :)

I'm completely exhausted and I've got a busy day tomorrow, so that's all I've got time for. Just know that I miss all you family and friends of mine; I wish I could bring you here. Hope everyone's doing well! Talk to you all soon.


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Primark, Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, and much more.

Exhausted, but so content. Today was even more adventurous than yesterday. Our entire group was still feeling the jet lag this morning, and I think every one of us slept past ten. Can you believe it, KrisCorinneKorinneLiz? :) First thing, we took off for Primark, a department store that just about sent me to heaven. They have everything for cheap! Rain boots, shoes, scarves, dressy shirts and pants.... it's gonna be dangerous. Then we grocery shopped a bit and came home for lunch, and I found out that deli meat here all tastes the same: each kind of meat its own version of bologna. Yuck. But I found a few of my other staple foods such as rice cakes and apples and diet coke.

Later in the afternoon, I set off on an adventure to find Buckingham Palace with Hadley and Kyla. We found an adorable crepe shop along the way--just what I'd hoped for! I'm a sucker for anything that includes bananas and nutella, so I was a happy camper at that little place.

We walked along Gloucester Road, stopping to explore several overly-priced gift shops and fascinating pastry shops along the way. When we finally reached the Palace, we were a bit camera happy and took advantage of every photo opportunity, while being followed around by three little German boys who so desperately wanted to be included in our pictures. That palace is amazing! I can't believe how old everything here is. The castles, palaces, apartment buildings, galleries... ancient and so beautiful! I am trying to study the history of each place just a little bit on my own, and I'm hoping that once we start classes (tomorrow), we'll research some of the amazing places around here and get to know the story behind each.

Sean, this is for you... this is the closest thing to a beefeater so far. I'm sure I'll be meeting one soon. :)
We couldn't just call it quits after the Palace, so we headed down the road (via the path of Green Park) to the hoppin' Trafalgar Square, where we visited the National Gallery. Before my Music 201 class, I'm embarrassed to say that the gallery would have meant very little to me. However, after studying many of the artists whose work is displayed there, it was actually really fun to be able to recall facts about specific paintings and artists and their stories. I wish I could have remembered more (Hollie...)!

Typical tourist, I know.

I finally visited Hyde Park, which is close enough that I probably should've explored it before now. Hadley convinced me to run almost five miles with her.... sheesh! Usually a person builds up to that. But despite the dreadful wind that was somehow always blowing against us, I really enjoyed the scenery. We stopped to see Kensington Palace on the route home.

Exciting things are always going on in London, and I'm so dang happy to finally be a part of them after dreaming about it for years. My apologies for these never ending posts; I'll try to keep them a little more concise from now on... but it probably won't happen. More to come soon!