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Thursday, June 3, 2010

El fin for now

I'm home safe and sound, and adjusting to everything from food to a millions friends and family, but life is happy. I'm not going to write again for a while, but if you want to talk, just get in touch.

Thank you for reading and caring about me and my travels :)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To everything there is a season











T-minus two days until Phoenix! And only one day until Manchester.

Today is a lot of lasts. LOST, my favourite TV show in the entire world ends today after 6 wonderful years of the best writing on TV. (I was going to put up a clip but any clip from any season gives things away...). I was really sad about LOST ending, but it’s time.

I feel pretty much the same way about going home. I went to church today, (and was a little disappointed to find my semi-charismatic church rather tame on Pentecost Sunday, but no matter), and had a good cry with one of my English friends, and then Morgan and I went on a long last walk around the city walls and through the cathedral and down by the river and just sort of like said good bye to the city. I’ve been rather anxious the last few days about everything, but I just feel ready now. It’s time to face senior year, time to see my friends and family again, time to come home and process everything from the last five months.

Tonight it’s dinner at my pub with my friends, tomorrow is any last minute errands, and Tuesday is the start of the trip home.



Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ireland












Well Ireland was awesome. However, I think Ireland has this reputation as being magical and like the best place on Earth, and it’s definitely not that. The goodness there is what is loveable, not some weird Celtic touristy voodoo. Men on the sidewalk would stepped into the street to let us pass, everyone said hello, and there was just life there. It felt like an entire nation of small town-ness. And the landscape is stunning. We stayed in the most incredible hostel in Ennis, seriously, it was basically a hotel. It was sooo clean and the beds were comfy and it looked like a Young Life camp.

Ennis was lovely. Just lovely. It was tiny and had narrow streets and a bajillion book shops and lots of Irish people. I couldn’t have asked for more. We got there Friday after a rather frisk-happy Liverpool airport,(the red hair means IRA apparently in Northern England), and walked around town. On Saturday we took the standard bus trip around the region. We saw a lot of real old stuff. Most of it was from around 3000 bc, which I nerded out at of course. We ended with the Cliffs of Moher, which I really have no words for. It is the beauty of the Old World, and Lord of the Rings and emotion and vibrant colours, and the most dramatic view ever. That’s really all I can say on it, other than GO.

Sunday was a lucky break in beating ash related airport closures back to the UK, and now I’m one week away from Manchester and the plane ride home. Lots of emotions and work to deal with right now.



Monday, May 10, 2010

Exciting things!

Hemel Hempstead
Bluebells!

AWESOME!



Racin'


there sister. I put up another picture of fashion.

Happy mother’s day!

I now only post on holidays. Or whatever.

Well! Like I said, I DID EXCITING THINGS!!

Let’s start with last week.

I get to come home on the 26th for realsies!! That means, as of right this very second, there are 16 days until I am in the United States of AWESOME.

On Friday we went to the races. It. Was. Fantastic. It was one of my favourite things I’ve done here. It was sunny out, the race course was beautiful, and British people at their happiest. The races, in case you are unsure, consist of about 6 actual horse races but more importantly about 6 hours of betting, cocktails, and fancy dress, which coincidently are the three things people here love most in the world, after pubs and mushy peas. Which meant that everyone was happy and friendly! We talked to so many people and had tons of fun people watching, admiring fashion (and men), and cheering on the races. My friends even won some money! Woo!

Then yesterday, I hopped on a train southbound. I love trains. I love them. I don’t know if I’ve rambled about this yet, but trains are single handily the winner of best overall form of travel. Think about all the best things in a car trip. Now think about the best things with airplanes and airports. THAT’S A TRAIN RIDE. I will miss train stations the way most people miss Christmastime.

Well this train I was on brought me to a little city called Hemel Hempstead where I visited my best friend Sarah’s aunt and uncle and cousins, or as I like to call them (in my head), the OTHER Flynns. It was so so so lovely. I loved being around a family and pets, especially a family that weirdly mirrored my best friend and her family. We went to a barn dance, (you never know where being in a strange place will take you), watched some Friends, and generally had a happy evening. Then we went to church, hiked around this nearby National Trust allotment that was COVERED in Bluebells, and I hopped on a train back to the north. Overall, success I would say.

Next week, Ireland!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

You know you've been in the UK a while when...






Right, so in honour of a my time winding down and before I post my adventures from the last week, I thought I’d put up this really funny “you know you’ve been in the UK for too long when...” list I found on fb, because, well, they’re mostly spot on and make me quite happy. However, I am going to pull a Comedy Central and censor it . Hey, I am a prude American after all...

Here it is, enjoy!

1. One out of 4 words you hear in the streets is "f***" or worse.
2. You have tried the symbol of British food, a breaded piece of fish with fries and they call it "fish & chips".
3. You see semi-naked girls in the streets and boys wearing t-shirts with temperatures below zero.
4. You are shocked to see that the Uni is closed, city is collapsed and people stranded if streets are covered with more than 5 cm of snow.
5. You have travelled to London just for 1 pound with
a fun fare, and you love it.
6. You wake up every morning knowing that it's quite unlikely that you're going to see the sun.
7. You drink pints every day and you love them
8. You see people having a pee while they get money
from a cash machine.
9. You realize that dinner time is 6pm
10. You see people drunk in the streets at 4pm.
11. You see old people getting pissed in Wetherspoons
12. You are kicked out of a pub at 11.30 pm
13. You have learned the difference between pasty and pastry and you've tried a Cornish Pasty.
14. You see people wearing flipflops and shorts even though it's raining.
15. You've said "cheers mate" more than twice
16. You've tried to buy a traditional coffee maker and you've failed.
17. You realize the most important religion is not Christianity but Football.
18. You wonder how people wash their intimate parts without a "bidé"
19. You wonder why the concept of "proper curtains" hasn't arrived to this country yet.
20. You hear and say "sorry" at least 10 times a day.
21. You've seen naked women on the second (and first, and third...) page of the daily newspapers.
22. After a failed conversation with someone in the street you wonder whether he/she was speaking in Scottish, Gaelic, Welsh, Cornish, Irish or English.
23. You see Tesco as an important social meeting point.
24. You have struggled trying to convert from Farenhait to Celcius, from Miles to Kilometers and from Pounds to Euros, but you know a pint is 0.56 litres.
25. You have been driving on the wrong side of the road
26. You have seen old people smiling at you in the street
27. You have been asked for "some spare change" by an unknown person.
28. You see 3 kebab shops and 2 Indian restaurants in every street.
29. You've had a Full English Breakfast with bacon, eggs, sausages, beans, etc and you think it's amazing
30. You've had a burger, chips and beans on the same plate.
31. You've thought more than ten times that the car you have just seen was driven by nobody
32. You have tried to destroy the fire alarm at least a couple of times.
33. You have wondered about the wildlife present in your carpet.
34. You see a group of people wearing fancy dresses every time you go out at night.
35. You have been in a pub next to a really drunk lady, that you think could even be your grandma.
36. You think you're going to visit a palace, a castle or a chapel and you only see a few old stones.
37. You realize that taking a cab is almost free (according to a certain person from Norway).
38. You're outside and don't even notice it's raining anymore, because it is just simply normal to you by now.
39. You
realise
that any kind of food can be eaten with anything else, no matter how weird the combination is.
40. You have six months of holidays in a year.
41. In case you need to get your hands clean, you realise that you only have two options: boil your hands in water near to 90º or see how they become two beauty ice-cubes.
42. You have a sink in your bedroom.
43. You can't buy shoes in any shop because they all smell like feet!!
44. You find machines in pubs in which you can buy condoms, CENSORED, and even a Hair Straightener.
45. Your house and surroundings are full of rubbish bags because rubbish is collected just once per week.
46. You ask for a double whisky in a pub and the quantity you're given is just ridiculous!!
47. You see potatoes everywhere, in all different forms and shapes, i.e. boiled potatoes, jacked potatoes, smashed potatoes, chips, crisps, etc.
48. You realize that burping in the library is something normal.
49. You realize that no matter how weird the clothes you're wearing are, people just won't care.
50. You have hoovered your room at least once.
51. You shake the hand of someone of the opposite sex you've just met.
52. You drink tea with milk.
53. You realize that being served alcohol in an academic seminar is completely normal.
54. You learn that 4 cups of tea per day is good for you.
55. You have stopped questioning why there are carpets even in the bathrooms
56. You know there is a fair chance your house is filled with mold.
57. Your floors and roofs are in serious decay after years of leakages and no maintenace.
58. You have a fire exit in your house.
59. You find yourself breaking into an english accent when trying to order a cuppa tea.
60. You have mushrooms in your toilets.
61. You see daffodils growing EVERY where, all year round.
62. You find yourself discussing what make of baked beans is the best...and it doesn't scare you
63. You see all four seasons in one day. first sun (oh blessed sun!), then rain, then snow, then hail. and sun, and rain, then...aaaah!
64. "hello/hey, how are you?" is replaced by "you alright?"
65. You find yourself going out partying wearing only a little top... and it's raining! And above all it's normal because everybody is dressed like that!!
66. You realize that burping in the middle of a lecture is something normal.
67. It's only five and every single shop is closed!
68. You've bought something at Argos!!
69. You think it's normal to sleep on a mattress which was considered old-fashioned crap in Europe 30 years ago.
70. You don't go out to go out but to get drunk.
71. You don't mind the food anymore...
72. Subway is the healthiest meal you can think of
73. CENSORED 74. You find normal that in clubs the ladies are full of screaming semi-naked drunk (British) girls trying to do their make up and hair again and again.
75. You feel like being a nun when you wear trousers or skirt longer than your knees and tops to go out
76. You go to the lectures just for sleeping..lying on the table, chair..it doesnt matter!!!
77. You discover that a simple ticket of the train can vary from a price of 8£ to 30£.. for the same train, time and journey
78. You realize that you have never seen an English Restaurant
79. You move into a house and realise that you can't open the windows!!
80. You're in the top back part of the bus, and a 9 years old chav asks you for a lighter
81. You realize that British people are queuing politely everywhere except at the bar counter
82. You discover there is a "potato" function on the microwave!!!
83. You phone a Hospital emergency service at night and you are speaking to a non-medical person on duty who will ask you a lot of questions and then decide if its an emergency. This person will even ask to speak to the almost unconcious patient and ask you to describe whether the person looks pale, the eyes are yellow, blue, red.Any bleeding...blah blah and then tell you that a doctor will only be available at 9.00 in the morning...(after an hour of questioning) and you are worried that the patient might die in the meantime but you have no other options :-(
84. Your umbrellas have got broken at least twice and you are still hoping not to break the new one even if it's May!
85. You see your housemate ordering chinese food or pizzas three times a week
86. You realize that you can get decent (dark, rye, healthy) bread in every European country except for the UK...and no, Toast is not considered a proper kind of bread.....
87. You are no longer suprised to see fans and radiators on at the same time (either in February or June!)
88. You are certainly annoyed by their stupid sockets
89. You realize that every product you buy "may contain trace of nuts"
90. Your sentences begin with.."to be honest"..
91. You are addressed as "treacle, sugarplumb, darling, sweetheart, love, ...." (and all other versions of nicknames in that genre you normally only call your wife/lover) by the staff in supermarkets, pubs and restaurants.
92. You are affected by CCTV paranoia.
93. You can see, on a saturday night, Dancing on ice, strictly come dancing, pop idol, x factor, big brother, big brother celebrity, I'm a celebrity get me out of here (and so on) simultaneously!
94. You are not surprised to see an old lady, her daughter and her granddaughter dancing together in a club.
95. You talk about the weather all the time.
96. You hear "WHA" instead of W-H-A-T ! and "THA" instead of T-H-A-T!!!
97. You have asked to borrow ten "quid" instead of ten pounds from someone
98. It is 23.45 and the bell rings in the pub. Last orders mate, lets have 2pints each...
99. You have to pull a string to switch on the light or get the water from the shower!!
100. You realize "taking the piss out" of someone is not a medical procedure
101. You realize everybody just gets crazy in a club when Dj plays Don’t Stop believing.
102. You have to mind the gap between the train and the platform.
103. Every door is a "fire door" that you have to "keep shut".


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Life is like a turtle sometimes.

word.


This is what socialized medicine does to your sight...
aw...purdy housemate.


hi. my name is Sarah. and I am bored.


Happy Cinco de Mayo!

So an interesting feature of life over here is the pace. It’s slow. Real slow. I think the crazy amount of free time has been the best and the worst part of being over here. However, since i pretty much only write about the amazing, mind-blowing travels and cool cultural things, I thought I’d take a post to just sort let you all in on what the rest of my days look like. And random facts about me.

So here was today. Got up. Went to my last Shakespeare seminar. It was sad. Went to library. Printed. Turned in paper. Talked with teacher. Ran 7 miles. Had curry for dinner. Skyped. Got bored and did makeup. Updated blog.

An interesting story from today, I guess, was that meeting with my teacher. The profs here are really harsh when grading, and it’s unsettling at times. It’s a healthy break though from the amount of praise and hand holding we get at home, but they tend to focus entirely on the negative, which takes some getting used to. For example, on this paper I just got back, one of the comments read “how could you possibly think this was a good idea?”

I dunno. I guess I thought it fit with my topic?

Anywho. It’s a big difference from home.

Wow. Most boring blog entry ever. Sorry. More exciting things will happen in my life that I can tell you about soon.


Hopefully.





Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day!

Happy May Day! And happy Springfest all you happy-almost-done-with-class Whitworth folk.

Here in Chester it’s a balmy 13 (Celsius), with a thick cover of clouds. Cheers! But really, I’ve had a lovely week. I was lucky enough to have conversations about the existence of God, Camus, Eurovision, Shakespeare, Othello, immigration, Kafka, my future house, and so many other really interesting and important topics this week. I wrapped up a few classes and went to see Iron Man 2. It's good, just a heads up when it comes out in the U.S. in a few weeks.

Today starts my fifth month in England, and also the 25 day count to coming home for Heather’s graduation. I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about English culture, what I like, what I’ll miss, and the start of compiling what I’ve learned here into a four sentence summary I will be able to tell relatives and friends in the upcoming months. Of course, I’d love to talk for hours and share my, literally, 10,000 pictures I’ve taken, but that would only be fun for me, and I figure I better save my allotted amount of love and support for when something in my life goes wrong instead of using it all up on a 7 hour slide show and detailed discussion of European life.

I’ve decided to fill the next few weeks with as much Britishness as I possibly can, starting with giving up my sad pitiful coffee flavoured water in exchange for only drinking tea. It makes no sense to drink bad coffee instead of Earl Grey or drinks that smell of elderberry. I am going to try to go to the races. If I can afford it, this will be done in a fantastic hat. I am going to visit the other Flynn family down south. I am going to try to go to Ireland. (I am going to write all my papers). I am going to eat lots and lots of mushy peas.

I know there are certain things I will miss almost immediately. I think the things that were hardest to adjust to will probably be the things that I will miss most actually. I will miss how OCD British people are about everything. It’s not longer annoying, but rather endearing. I will miss the inordinate amount of free time I have here, and the overall slow pace, carefree attitude. I will miss how polite everyone is, and people calling me “Love”. I will miss people getting worried about travel over very small distances. Ugh, and pubs. I love pubs. I wish I could take the George and Dragon home with me. I will miss British children. There’s just something about a 5 year old with a thick accent that melts your heart. I will miss my friends. I love love love being surrounded by people from around the world. It’s a type of diversity that I’m going to have to seek out at home. I will miss being special and standing out. I will miss tea. I will miss the way England smells, (well, sometimes). I will miss the independence. I will miss football and talking about the World Cup. I will miss their humour. I will miss how old everything is. And Castles. And Elizabethan architecture. And Liverpool. I feel like this list could go on for a long time.

Anyway, I have a month to think about these things.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Welsh Bits

Original Log-flume ride? Wrong! It's an aquaduct for houseboats!
Sheep.

So good! Made with real dandelions and burdock!


We were trying to find Hufflepuff but ended up in the Owlery by mistake...




Another week. Most of my classes are almost over, (most meaning two). Another one started on Monday that I’m trying real hard to have a good attitude about. I’ll be home one month from yesterday for Heather’s graduation, (she’s decided to go to Whitworth next year!!! EEK! Happy.) and then either stay home or back here for a few weeks, we’ll see.

Well it seems like the natural thing to do now would be tell y’all about Wales.

Wales, contrary to what the British say, is a country (not a county) on the western portion of this island. It has about 3 million people and about 9 million sheep, (not an exaggeration). Our tour, (that I almost slept through by accident), went from Chester, to a few places before Conwy (pronounced “Con-way”) Castle, then to Snowdonia, (a gorgeous national park), then to this lush forest in the south, and then home. It was a really nice day, and the tour company was great. I had a little trouble, because I put my contacts in the wrong eyes, because I was running late and therefore was carsick all day. Annnnd, sorry Welsh kids, but all my favorite parts of Wales were the places that made me think of Scotland. Who did them better. But! nevertheless, it was a beautiful day and I really enjoyed bumming around more castles and countryside with Melissa.

Enjoyed leaving my phone somewhere on the heath less. Luckily it’s now at a hotel.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Regarding the clubs here.

April 22nd

Dear guys at every club I’ve ever been to in Europe,

We’ve had an interesting relationship the last few months since I moved here, some ups, mostly downs, but you seem to be confused about some things, so I’ve decided to write you a letter. Now at first I thought that these were probably cultural differences, or that maybe I was being oversensitive, but after accumulating a large amount of experience and conversations with other people, I feel like I can address y’all pretty confidently. Since you don’t seem to understand “no”, “stop”, or “go away” in any language, I’m going to write to you in the language I know you understand, and keep singing off key and loudly in my ear. That of course being bad pop lyrics. Specifically from the UK’s Top 75 Singles chart.

Let’s pretend we’re at a club right now. You walk into this fine dancing establishment, and are probably thinking to yourself I seen her on the dance floor, she was dancin' sexy, pop, pop, pop, and drop it and drop it low…this was just like dynamite. Honey got a booty like, pow,” like Mr. Usher. Naturally, after evaluating and objectifying this “shorty” you go up to her, get “all up in her junk” and in the sheer poetry of Mr. Timbaland, sing badly in her ear to “move a little closer and take my order” or “your body looks like carry out” or more likely ANYTHING else from that song that I really don’t feel comfortable putting in my blog letter because I’m pretty sure its breaks obscenity laws somewhere. But naturally, being compared to food, while you’re grabbing me in whatever area you can, seeing as I only have two hands to fight you off with and pepper spray is illegal here, WHILE telling me how to serve you, that right there, well that is clearly the way to a woman’s heart.

Or perhaps you’re not a Timbaland kind of guy, maybe you’re more into the artistic genius that is Bedrock. In which case, said “honey” will be serenaded with winners like “but now we’re murders cuz we kill time, I knock her lights out but she still shine. I hate to see her go, but I love to watch her leave.” Oh boy, I know the attention to and support of domestic abuse is what I look for in man.

Or maybe you are sort of a sweetheart and really just want to only be gross in the club instead of expecting us “slutty bitches” to come home with you. How romantic. You’re probably into 3OH3! And Miss Perry, crooning about how “Tight jeans, double d’s makin’ me go (whistles), all the people on the street know (whistles)”. But that’s okay, because we all know that you, oh beloved club go-er you, “should know how to make love to something innocent. Without leaving my fingerprints out”. But you know, look at that, you’re giving us the dignity of being degraded with our clothes on. Thanks for that.

Listen.

I, meaning women, don’t want to “get with you”. I want to look good, have fun, and dance without being accosted. I want to dance without being eyed up and down like food. And I don’t want you to touch me. AT ALL. When I say “stop that” or slap you, that’s not an encouragement or a game. It means “get the hell away from me”. And no, if you buy me a drink, I’m not going to sleep with you. And no, if you make eye contact with me for longer than 20 seconds, I’m still not going to sleep with you. And for the love of all that is right in the world, if you get way too close and sing Akon in my ear, I’M STILL NOT GOING TO SLEEP WITH YOU.

It’s not okay for you to ignore what I say, it’s not okay for you to turn me into either a whore or a bitch because I don’t like you, it’s not okay for you to make me feel unsafe or scared, it’s not okay for you to make me have to have another guy around just watch my back, and it’s definitely not okay for you to force me to do anything. I’m not a doll or food or prey or inferior. I am a person, and I am awesome and if you try anything again for the 900th time, I will kick your ass.

Male clubbers of Europe, I’m glad we had this talk.

Sincerely,
Sarah

P.S. The BBC just told me that 1 in 5 of you has diseases. You should probably get that checked out.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oxford












So yesterday Melissa and I went to Oxford. Oh man. Best place ever.

We took waaay too many trains to get there, but it was worth it. We get off the train and start to walking to the tourist information center when we hear this lute and drum music. Since this is kindof weird, even in England, we follow it and find ourselves in the middle of a folk festival where the Morris Folk Dance Competition is taking place in the street. Um, coolest thing ever! It was all these different teams dressed in crazy costumes from traditional folk outfits to neon rags, all wearing war paint. We were fascinated. We stayed for a bunch of teams and then started talking to various people which made it even better. The all male team from Norwich were our favourties. They were hilarious and super nice and were pretty good dancers.

After that we did our own walking tour of the Inklings’ sights around Oxford. We saw the Eagle and Child pub, where they all hung out once a week and talked about their current writing projects, and then we went and saw a bunch of the colleges. Christ Church is where Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland), John Wesley, William Penn and a billion other famous people went, and more importantly, it’s where a bunch of scenes from Harry Potter were filmed. I can tell why, the whole cite looks like Edinburgh where Rowling wrote them. All the schools were gorgeous. Then we walked to University College, the first college in Europe, which was closed but we still snuck in. Then we concluded with Magdalen College where Lewis was a Fellow for 29 years.

It was a great day. It was really meaningful to see where two of my all time favourite authors lived and worked, and the city of Oxford is wonderful. Not to mention the guys there. It was kind of ridiculous, they shouldn’t let that many attractive men live in one place. Come on Oxford. Share the wealth.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Sunshine

Thank you Iceland. Pretty from far away.

The sheep whisperer working his magic...


The loveliest part of the whole show.



Dove Cottage.


I am in love with life. Sometimes everything goes right and just gets better. After being homesick and normal sick and angsty and cloud covered, I feel a little bipolar. I just can’t get over how fantastic being alive is.

So my friend Chris visited this week, and it was great fun. Chester has been putting on quite a show with flowers and sunshine, and I was happy that this was the side of England he got to see. We did the standard tour, walking the walls, the cheesy museum, dinner at a pub, etc. Man, I love England. I love the people, the buildings, even the food. I think I started out feeling like this was a vacation, then I just felt homesick, but now I feel like this is mine, this is where I live. It was fun showing this place off to a friend.

After the few days in Chester, we took an awesome day trip to the Lake District, which is a few hours north of here. It’s one of England’s national parks, and I am so glad it’s protected. Anyway, we got up and took a couple different trains to end up in Windermere. It was great to catch up and share stories about school and different things in life. On the way there we passed this cool old steam engine but the best part was that it was some formal event, so for like the next hour we passed hundreds of Brits taking pictures of the track and the train. It was pretty funny.

We got there and took another train to Grasmere, where Wordsworth made his home at Dove Cottage. I took this cool tour of his house and learned all sorts of detailed facts about his life, his sister Fanny, Coleridge, and Sir Walter Scott. If you haven’t read Wordsworth, or haven’t read him since junior year in high school, I highly encourage you to take another look at his poetry. It really is fantastic. After that we decided to follow this group of heavily geared out girls towards the top of a peak. Although they were intimidated and turned around, Chris and I managed to make it to the top of the…hill. The mountains there are beautiful, but "mountains" is a generous description. However, the view from the top was stunning. It was the most peaceful feeling I’ve had in months. Away from the cities, away from people, away from everything except sheep and good company. I just wanted to wonder lonely as a cloud forever.

And then there were sheep.

We were talking about how funny/stupid sheep were on the way up, but right as we were about to reach a pinnacle, this ball of fuzz looks up, specifically at Chris, and lets out this curious “BAHHH”. This was funny enough, but to add to it, this particular fellow decided to come on over to Mr. Christopher. The other sheep and I were curious what was going to happen, and it turns out anytime Chris laughed this sheep would “bah” back. Then follow him. Then the rest of the sheep would do it. It was probably the funniest thing I saw the whole week.

Except for the swans from hell. Well, to be fair, all swans are mean, but… So we came upon this little lake, in the company of more newlyweds and nearly deads, (all of whom were in love. Everyone in the Lake District I’m convinced is in love), and these gorgeous swans, floating on the face of heaven. This was all fine and dandy until this little dog ran up, and Mama Swan turned into a combination of a viper and a grizzly bear. I ran away, because I was scared. Then this kid comes up and tries to HAND FEED the killer bird. Chris and I left before carnage occurred. Who knew swans were that terrifying. Clearly the descendants of raptors.

We got lost in the hills, (which was just fine by me), and we hiked the rest of the day from town to town enjoying everything in the Lake District.

That experience was followed by Iceland blowing up, which gave England airplane delays and SPECTACULAR sunsets. And there’s no like giant cloud of doom like the news is saying. It’s all invisible particles, so it just looks like a forest fire sky.

Next up on the program: Oxford and Wales.




Saturday, April 10, 2010

Back to school, back to school...

Well, spring break is just about over. Probably the last time in my LIFE I will have a month off in addition to the other two weeks I’ve had off in one semester, but I think I made the most of it. I came home after Spain, (it’s fun to have that mean Chester now in the long list of places that pop into my head), because I wasn’t getting better and the money pile had a rather large (but well spent) dent in it. Some people go to Paris, fall in love with the people, culture, and language, and begin a long and happy life together. I went to Paris and all I got was a stupid cold virus that won’t die. (And yes science friends I know viruses can’t technically die, get off my case, ha).

Anyway, I had an incredible three weeks going all over the continent, AND I came back to Chester excited to be home in England, which was a nice feeling. Sometimes you just have to leave to appreciate a place. My now staycation has also been great, I got to register for awesome classes for next year, do a whole bunch of little tasks that had slipped through the cracks, and get ready to have a wonderful last leg of my time here in Chester. I still have to do Wales properly, go to the Lake District, Oxford, Cambridge, maybe Bath, London again, and hopefully one last out of the country trip, either Ireland, Amsterdam, or Norway. Suggestions appreciated.

And next week my friend Chris is coming to visit! I’m excited to play tour guide to a fellow Whitworthian and English major.

And of course I still have to finish classes and papers and school…and the ever present laundry. But the sun is shining, the grass is green, (no orange or palm trees), but lots of flowers everywhere to keep my spirits high and a smile on my face.

Happy day.

P.S. I took a LOT of pictures on my break. If you want to see them click on this link or check out the abridged version on my facebook.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter!

Melissa and I were kind of sad today, because Easter is a big deal to both of our families, so we decided to take it easy. Well that and Melissa's feet hate her for walking around so much.

We got up this morning and after the familar hostel breakfast of toast and juice decided to go to church. I googled "church" and "Barcelona" and we picked the first hit. It was the International Church of Bacelona associated with an American protestant denomination. It was wonderful. In the middle of the bustling city we found a congregation full of people from everywhere, every continent, and even a new friend from Phoenix. So wonderful. If I can't be with my family in Phoenix, I may as well be with my other family in Barcelona.

Since I'm leaving in a few days for Chester, I'm also taking today to just sort of catch up on stuff, (like blogging and class registration ha). It's beautiful here right now, sunny skies and about 12 degrees celcius. It rained last night, so the world is new and sparkling. Morning has broken like the first morning.

Church today was about trusting God in times of trial, learning to trust him when plans go wrong or plans don't exist. I was expecting the usual Easter sermon, but this was nice. I'm blessed right now that those closest to me are healthy and happy, but I have been really nervous about this summer and next year. I have lots of plans and ideas of where I want my life to go, but I just don't know yet. It was good to hear a sermon today that basically said wait and listen and when things don't work out or do work out, wait and listen still. Clarity and direction are gifts, but until then patience and trust are good things to live with. Frankly anywhere I am is the right place for one reason or another.

Anyway, I love you and miss you all. I pray for all of you, and hope you feel the unending love and grace of God with you in your lives.

Spain! In depth

Spain Spain Spain Spain....

So Spain started off in a really funny way. As soon as we had all boarded, this lady across the aisle from me let her terodactly children loose to scream and terrorize all on board. Not impressed, I sighed loudly, and the elderly lady next to me nodded, and then commented on it in German. Now before I continue, I should clarify a few things. One, even when I don't speak the language, I try really hard to blend in while traveling, partially because it's fun but mostly because a lot of people are anti-American and so traveling by myself as a young female American, I just try to not draw a lot of attention to myself. Second, as I mentioned earlier, I look German and people had been speaking German to me all week, but I had had Johanna with me to help. So when this woman spoke in German to me, I just reacted and replied "yah yah". Bad plan. Of course she thought I spoke German, but at this point I was embarressed because I realized what had just happened, so when she asked me another question, I replied "ugh, ya, das est gud". Then she started talking to me. For two hours. I don't speak German people. I know about twenty words, and believe me I used them all. However, she was apparently satisfied and felt we had connected, because at the end of the flight she introduced me to the man next to her, gave me a hug and I'm pretty sure told me to visit. Gotta love new friends.

After that I met Suvi, my housemate, at the airport and we hopped on a bus to Barcelona. Spain looks just like California and South America. It's the weirdest thing. I now am sure that all of Europe just found places around the world that reminded them of home and stayed. I mean England looks so much like the East Coast it isn't funny, and I'm very sure the same thing happened with Spain.

The bus ride was so sunny. I love the sun. Love it. I will always be that kid from Arizona. I live for Vitamen D. Suvi is from Finland, where it is very cloudy, and so she was happy too. We figured out the bus schedule, and we figured out the metro, but then we got very turned around trying to find our hostel. I wasn't panicking, but I was starting to get a little upset, because we're staying in a sort of sketch part of town, and it just sucks to be lost as a tourist, I always feel like I have a giant target sign on my head. We thought we had found our building, but we couldn't get in, and the man at the front desk wouldn't open up the door for us. Just when all hope was almost lost, this elderly man came up to us and asked what we were looking for. It was like jumping in the deep end after not swimming for six months with my Spanish, especially since this part of Spain speaks Catalan. I told him a hostel, trying to gauge his trustworthiness, but he seemed ok, especially when in the middle of our discussion, this elderly Spanish woman marched right up to him and demanded to know his intentions of talking with us were. It was kind of funny, but really sweet, and I was a little bummed Suvi missed it. The lady marched us down the street to wear our hostels actually was and we checked in.

Hostels have sort of a bad rap, but they're great. This one is super clean, and it's a lot like dorm life in college. And summer camp. Like giant hippy international dorm summer camp. Annnnnnd there are sooo many Americans and Canadians in hostels. Which is good and bad. And for some reason, most of the people traveling are both my age and attractive. Not a bad deal.

Sadly, I got sick again when I got to Spain, so my first few days here weren't the best. The combination of illness, extended travel, and unfamilar environment made Sarah very weepy and kind of pathetic. It's so hard to stay healthy traveling, let alone get better when you're sick. I decided to cut my trip short and go back to England instead of Rome this week. I think it was a good decision, but after the first few days I also started to feel a lot better too. Barcelona is really alive and cool, but it's also way more dangerous than the other places I've been. Wasn't really solicited a plethora of drugs in Le Mans or Hamburg, but then again I also didn't get to see Gaudi works or the beach.

It's cool meeting people. So far we've met people from Finland, Paraguay, Sweden, the UK, Australia, Canada, Spain, and the US.

Oh the beach. I love the beach. The second day we were here, I was tired and kind of grouchy because we'd done a (really cool) walking tour of the city, but I was exhausted and seeing the ocean was such a welcomed sight. On the walking tour we learned about the history of this region, like its Roman and Arabic past, the Germanic invaders, the plague, the inquisition and the time of Franco when all Catalan culture and language were supressed. Man, dictators are just really bad ideas. An intersting fact was that the patron saint of England, St. George, also is the patron saint here, because after all that hard dragon killing in the UK, he apparently went abroad to rescure more virgins and stab more dragons. Good for him.

We sort of all overdosed on art and history, so the last few days we've just been chilling on the beach, eating tapas and enjoying architecture. Guadi designed a ton of stuff here, which I have really enjoyed. His church, the Sacred Family, is my favorite I've seen in Europe. It's like a Dali and Picasso (who both incidently have ties to Barcelona) work mixed with a Gothic church. Sort of high style Dr. Seuss. But it is soooo cool. He also designed this giant park full of crazy buildings and gardens as sculptures that was supposed to be the playground of the rich for Barcelona during the turn of the century. Unfortunately Guadi was hit by a cart, and because of his beard and smelly clothes the rich he worked for thought he was homeless and so he was left in a hospital for the masses. His friend's found him but he insisted that he belonged to God and the poor, and he died.

The poor here are hard to take in. There is a visible level of poverty here that is different from home. Beggars are wretched. I constantly feel guilty for my reactions to the people on the streets here. It always makes me want to cry when I see these people that have very visiable diseases and terrible living conditions. Sometimes they try to steal from people and then they get spit on or kicked or worse. It's awful. It puts a lot of Biblical stories about helping the poor in a whole new context for me. I think experiences open your eyes about your own short comings. Traveling has made me both more open minded and more racist/stereotypical simaltaneously. It's frustrating. I think it will take me a long time to process everything.

The water here is turquoise. It is so vibrant and different from the other oceans I've been to. It's

not very warm, but it has lovely beaches. The beaches are all fake though, made from sand from the Sahara. So technically, my feet have touched land from four continents. The harbor is great too. The 1992 Summer Olympics were held here, so tons of stuff is virtually brand new and awesome. We went to one of the areas revamped for the Olympics, where this GIANT fountain does complex shows to light and music. We went on Good Friday, and it felt appropriate to watch this crimson sunset and blazing fountain dance to classical music. It was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen.

We also went to cooking class, which was too crowded but fun. I love Sangria and tapas. And rabbit it turns out. So cute but so tasty. Oops. That's a little wrong around Easter. It's weird who you meet abroad. I seriously believe everyone is 6 steps away from Kevin Bacon and me. In cooking class I met a guy who knew one of my friends from school, and another kid who almost went to Whitworth but decided to go abroad instead. Suvi met two other Fins who knew all the same jokes about Swedish people. I feel like every country has their own nearby country they treat like we treat Canada. In England it's Wales, and in northern Europe it's Sweden.

And of course I experienced more European culture outside of cooking class. Much of our beach time has been spent discussing nudity. Public nudity isn't illegal here and I'm convinced it's actually encouraged, but it's still a shock to me and Melissa everytime it happens. Suvi kept reminding us that it wasn't impolite to be naked, but rather it was impolite to stare. Plus she's from Finland, wher


So two days ago when we were on the beach, telling the 900th person that no, we didn't want a massage/towels/beer/bracelets/weed, and this guy walks infront of us and drops trou and goes for a very brisk swim Melissa and I tried very very hard to look at the sky or at the very least his eyes. And when the same thing happened like 4 more times with people of all shapes and sizes we still tried very very hard to look at appropriate places. I'll tell you one thing, public nudity of other definitely makes you less self consicous about what you're wearing. Seeing as we were still wearing things.

Well, I think it's time to go since the guy in the bunk next to me in the hostel is changing and kind of weirding me out. Peace out girl scouts!

Germany! In depth.

Germany:

So I didn't write about this when I was there, but I took notes, so I'm going to try to go in chronologial order. Also I'm working with a Spanish key board and no spell check so cut me some breaks.

France was great, but not what I planned because I was so sick, so I was ready to get onto the next adventure when the day came. The train ride there was great and kind of funny to me. There were all these kids running around speaking diffferent languages, it was like someone had forgotten to lock up It's A Small World one night. So adorable. And my seating area looked like a joke, I mean if I turned to you and said "A German business man, a French retired man, a Russian priest and an American girl got on a train together heading towards Frankfurt," you'd wait for the punchline. Which maybe you could argue was the train stewardess's peirced and bedazzled tooth. Europe's an interesting place.

I took the train thruogh the Rhineland, and now I understand why there are so many songs about that area. STUNNING. Every town we passed looked like a fairy tale or a theme park, it was so unreal. And funny. Like when every train station we stopped at wished us "gud fahrts" meaning of course, a good journey. I think I'm going to try to bring that one back to the States.

After the train ride I had a rather unpleasant plane ride to Luebeck on Ryanair. Let me tell you about Ryanair. First lie of Ryanair, that they're a "discount" company. A real discount Airline would not more than double the stupid rate with tagged on fares and fees. Second lie of Ryanair, the air in their name. I'm convinced they use discount air with less oxygon, but whatever they use gives everyone this weird headache almost immidiatly after boarding. Third lie of Ryanair, a "safe" trip. The only discount part of their fine practices is their pilates. I fly a lot people. So I've seen a lot of landings and take-offs. None as bad as these people. Everyone first gets more religouis before a landing and then cheers and rejoices when you actually land. That shouldn't happen!! It should be a given that you will land. Not ok.

Anyway, moving on, Johanna picked me up and we went back to her house, which looked just like a PacNorthwest house and made me really happy. Her family was so nice. So nice. I loved being in a house and being with people who weren't students, it was such a great thing. The next day we went around Hamburg doing fun touristy things and (mostly me) learning a lot about German history. Hamburg is a fascinating place. It has a very rich history, from like crazy old kingdoms to being a border town between East and West Germany to modern day Northern united Germany. It was just so interesting. So much of the German history I've learned had to do only with the World Wars or global issues, and it was great to hear another side of all those stories in addition to tons of other things.

In addition to history, I learned a lot about my own heritage. We just don't have a good sense of heritage in the States. We really are a melting pot of everything, which is fantastic, but it also means we lose a lot of pride and knowledge about family history and cultural identity. To be fare, I am an American absolutely, and THAT is my heritage and history now, but there was a time not to long ago when my ancestors had other identities. A giant chunk of that family history for my family is German. Annnnnnnnnd let me tell you, I had no idea how German my family was. For starters, we look like the people in Germany. It was weird and kind of creepy. Tons of people I met I was like "wow, you are my aunt____/uncle______/grandma______" It really was strange to have everyone kind of look like you. But looks aside, culturally we still do all these German things! Johanna and I were talking about traditional German recipies, and tons of them we still make for all the holidays. And we have some of the same decorations, and sayings. It was soo weird. Germany looks like Michigan, (where my relatives live) and Wisconsin (where my other relativeds live). And the And we act like the Germans I met. It was like meeting another branch of my family who all had cooler accents than me.

Ugh, and it is so beautiful. In northern Germany, there are a lot of brick buildings, including giant brick gothic churches. It was such a nice change from all the cold limestone gothic in France and England. Speaking of church, I went to Johanna's church for Palm Sunday. It was Lutheran and all in German, but it was just like a traditional Presbyterian service. German is a great language, and it's funny because it's so similar to English a lot of times I felt like I was just tired or something for not understanding. I think part of it is the tonal accents and speaking rhythms are the same as ours. Like the Lord's Prayer, the Apostle's Creed and advertisements all sound the same as English, just in German. I don't really know how to explain that in print

I was there for a little less than a week, but we did tons of stuff. After sight seeing in Hamburg, we had Turkish food, went to a museum and then went to the Red Light district. That was an experience. I like couldn't get over the fact that prostitution is legal and they're right there! And that they all wear fannypacks. Never thought those could be sexy. The next day I met her extended family and went to a birthday party for her cousin, who was 18. In most European countries, 18 is the biggest birthday, because it's when everything happens, drinking, driving (hopefully not together), adult status, off to uni, etc. Lots of board games and amazing food. (German food is amazing. Weinerschnitzel is like the food of the gods). Then! we had dinner with a friend of Johanna's who's currently doing an apprenticeship with a major German publishing company, which you know, I thought was totally awesome. She gets to travel around and try to get people to buy German Harry Potter. Tough life. I also thought it was cool that they still do apprenticeships. I think sometimes Americans are overeducated and overqualified when we really just need more job training. I also learned a funny German colloquialism. Her friend spoke English fluently, but a lot was translated straight from German, so instead of people breaking up, they "departed". Annnnd things like "the hip hoppers can't smell the goth rockers". I love that.

The day after that we went on a massive car trip around. We started off by visiting a Concentration Camp. Wow. I think it's good to look for beauty and admire what mankind has done well, but it is equally important to remember and learn about atrocities. The camp we went to was a work camp where prisoners were given nine months to live at best. Prisoners were ranked based on race, mental abilities, sexual orientation, and other things. The top prisoners were in charge of the others, and those lowest in rank were given only broth to eat and no tools. The beautiful river we passed on our way in was dug out using only the prisoners' hands. People were tortured and experiemented on. Many people ran into the electic fences or stepped out of line and were shot to get away. One of the saddest parts, was that when this camp was about to be freed, the prisoners were all put on military boats which were bombed. It was horrible.

While we were looking at all this, I also heard about stories from the other side of our text books. About people fleeing Poland after the war. About East Germany. C.S. Lewis said that everyone you meet will either be more beautiful than you could possibly fathom or more terrible and uglier than you could ever picture.

It was a lot to take in.



After that we went to a couple different cities. The first one was this charming riverside village, and the next was a college town that, like everything else here, was super old. It was a great city. We went to the girliest coffee shop ever to start off with. My friend Jesse is convinced every woman has this dream of owning a bakery/coffee shop somewhere exotic, most likely in the Mediterrean, like the end of Bourne movie. Welll.......that's mostly true. But I want this coffee shop, not one in Greece. This city had really cool architecture. Johanna and I at this point both started joking about how every sign started out "this is a typical German _______, with its roots in German________" to the point that we word for word predicted most of the signs in this town. I laughed a lot. The buildings are so mixed age wise, tons of them were bombed in WWII, but they've done a great job of keeping the same style. Unlike London which decided modern architecture was a good idea. Sad London. Anyway, I also got kind of obsessed with these home decoration stores. I feel like every store in Germany is aimed at me. Like I am the target demigraphic for all these stalker German marketing people. Like honestly, how else could they come up with things like giant coffee cup plant pots, or neon drapes, ugh. I want to buy everything in Germany. I had to settle with a cow pitcher.

I left the day after, but not before seeing the first hospital in Europe, (awesome by the way) and the Marzipan Factory. I saw the largest Marzipan sculpture ever. You haven't lived until you've seen 12 life sized famous Germans made out of sugar-butter-cream. This city also has really cool architecture, like these giant towers and cool facades. It was fantastic.

I love Germany. I will be back there as soon as possible. I loved staying with Johanna and her family, they were so warm and amazing hosts. I loveee Germany.

So with a stomach full of yummy food, a head/lungs that were almost over being sick, and a heart full of happiness I braved another Ryanair flight to Girona, Spain.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Lil' Update.

I'm in Spain! Which is about all I have to say about that.

So Germany. How do I even begin. It was hands down my favorite place I've been here, and definitely one of my all time faves. I left France by trains, planes, and automobiles. I loved it, I got to see the Rhineland and all this beautiful countryside. It looks like a fairytale, like the Brother's Grimm will come riding out of the forrest at any second.

I have a whole bunch more to say about Germany, but I'm quite tired right now and sick again, so I think I will save it for another time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's like getting my big break and laryngitus...

Julia Bovee is a saint (which you say “sahnnnn” in French). I’ve been really really sick the last couple of days, and she’s not only given me her bed, but also done things like bought me food and played translator at the doctor, which even for a easy thing like a sinus infection/icky cough is pretty tough. There are a lot of colloquials when it comes to being sick. But the doctor also was good at pantomiming, (his rendition of a fever was my fave), and I’m on the road for recovery just in time for Germany.

I’ve been super negative the last week or so, partially because I was so bummed that I had to stay in bed instead of like traipsing around Le Mans, but it’s probably a good thing I got sick here instead of the other places I’m going. Plus traveling all grown up style, I’m finding, doesn’t go as smoothly as I thought in my head. It’s pretty easy to miss a train or mess up a budget or be on the wrong page with weather or language. It’s hard that it’s so different from what I planned, but it’s also kind of cool that I’m the one doing everything. I dunno. It’s good because I am a real person in a year when I graduate, but it’s nice to feel like an adult now.

Le Mans is nice. It’s been on and off rainy/sunny which feels like Spokane, and the other night we went to this buffet thing that I swear was Sweet Tomatoes. Oh, and it is Spring here. In Chester, Spring was teasing all of us, like buds were showing up but everything was still brown, but here, nuh huh. It’s definitely already sprung. There are birds everywhere, flowers, and leaves on the trees, it’s like happiness bursting out of nature’s finger tips. I’m sad I have to leave soon, but I’m excited to see what March has done to Germany.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Paris with Friends

I'm on break and off traveling.

I got into Paris on Thursday, and it was lots of things. This is going to sound dumb, but I always think it is fascinating when I go to another country and they speak another language. I just love the everyday things like ads and signs that are all in (this case) French! It is so cool. Unfortunately that awesome factor wore off too quickly. I speak no French. None. Everyone is always like “all the Romance languages are so similar, you can totally manage”. Well yes and no. I speak Spanish, but let me tell you. French is not Spanish. In between landing and eventually finding my friends, I managed to pay too much for a taxi and take a lovely tour of the outskirts of Paris. I only cried once, and even though I was super late, I found Julia and my hotel eventually.

Paris was beautiful. French people are so nice. Even to a stupid American who could only point.

It’s interesting being with people I know and other Americans. I found myself getting frustrated by group traveling and sort of just weirded out by being with American kids. I feel like it’s sort of a mini snap shot of what going home is going to be like. I think I’m a lot more independent than I feel.

I’ve been a little jealous of my friends since I’ve been here. It’s hard to compare experiences, but they all want to stay in France forever, and while I really like Chester and England, that’s just not how I feel about it. I think it’s good that I am traveling for a while, so I can adjust my attitude and come back refreshed to England, but right now I’m just sort of feeling like there something wrong with me for looking forward to going home.

That being said, I love my friends, and it was so so so wonderful to be with Natalie and Julia. We did everything in Paris. The museums, the shops, the tombs, the meals, the churches, everything. I love France. I can understand why everyone wants to move here (to teach English/get married and have French babies). There were so many things that were so different from England. London and Paris are both international culturally, but in really different ways. It was odd too, Paris had so many American tourists. I couldn’t tell if it was because it’s now spring break time, or there are just more Americans there, but I couldn’t go more than five minutes without hearing American English. It was nice to see new architecture too, Gothic Churches start to all look alike after a while, so places like Sacre Coeur were a welcomed sight.

Paris just feels like a smile. Everyone seems to hum to themselves or bring you bread or chocolate or the kiss kiss thing on the cheeks. It’s a lot sunnier and warmer here too. It’s amazing what the sun does for your mood. Laughing with great friends doesn’t hurt either. Julia, Natalie and I sang the "Three's Company" theme song off pitch waaay too much.

While Paris was incredible, I love Le Mans. Julia is doing exchange here, and it’s so nice. It looks a lot like Spokane, (which is weird), but prettier. Like maybe if Spokane and San Francisco had a baby. I picked up a mystery illness in Paris, and so I’m looking forward to taking it easy and getting better while I sample Julia’s life.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Short and boring.

Ugh. It’s warming up which means our room was super hot last night which mean bed at 4 and up at 1 today. I feel like a wasteman.

The last week has been pretty normal, school, groceries, working out you know routine.

Here’s an interesting fact about the gym here. Well for starters they don’t say “working out”, they say doing exercises or training. But another cultural difference is that everyone looks super nice at the gym. Like wears polo shirts a bucket of cologne and occasionally slacks. Commmmmmpared to me, who wears basketball shorts and a giant baggy t-shirt. I’m not really planning on changing, but I feel a little left out seeing as everyone else must know something I don’t. Like that there’s some cool party in the gym. Or some attractive person I should try to ask out. Or some celebrity that’s visiting. But since so far, the only thing the gym seems to be good for is working out, I’m not going to dress up.

This is going to be a very busy week. I actually have a fair amount of homework to do before spring break and the end of the semester.

Still need to do laundry…story of my life.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

London














London

So Suvi and I went to London this past weekend. I had been a few years ago and was a little nervous that it was going to be different then I remembered. Wrong. It is the best. Chester is someplace I live, London is like…fill in this space with all cliché about souls and love and home.

We started got there around noon on Saturday after one of my first non-motion sick train rides, (hurray!), and Suvi showed me around the Tube, ending up at our hostel. It wasn’t really a hostel; it was the Finnish Church that had rooms for rent. Nice rooms. Like super clean, had a semi-private bathroom, delicious breakfast, and no bed bugs. It’s the little things in life. Anyway after a lot of Finnish conversations that I understood none of but enjoyed thoroughly, we hopped back on the underground and sped off to the West End.

I love Trafalgar Square. It was so sunny on Saturday, which made everything stunning. I just loved the pigeons, the people, the Bobbies, the behemoths of building, everything. We enjoyed the sun for a bit, and then headed off to find the Novello theatre to collect our tickets. It was so fun traipsing around the West End. I think if I’m ever a resident of a giant city and really posh, I will go to the theatre whenever a new play comes out. After getting our tickets, we had sandwiches at the best café ever. You got to pick out your own fillings, like Subway, but unlike that fine establishment, this place had fillings like sun-dried Italian tomatoes, grilled zucchini, goat cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and cutlets of beef. Listen folks, I live off of soup and toast most days, so this was like Christmas in my mouth. We then hopped on back to the Novello to watch Cat on A Hot Tin Roof. It was fantastic. James Earl Jones starred as Big Daddy, and the rest of the cast absolutely held up their own. I love Tennessee Williams, (really anything out of the Southern Renaissance), but it is so nice to be able to see his work instead of read it. Especially when in the hands of such talent.

After the show we had some pricey but tasty dinner and found out that our seats for Waiting for Godot had been cancelled by Mr. Internet, but the lovely man at the box office upgraded us three balconies down and kept our same price. Someone should beatify him.

I can’t even tell you how good the show was. So I won’t. But I will tell you that Beckett is brilliant. The cast was brilliant. And it was the best production I’ve ever seen. I was speechless at the end.

Thank goodness Beckett’s god isn’t my God.

Afterwards Suvi and I were like, hey let’s go stalk the cast at the stage door. So we did. Which meant we were rewarded by meeting the entire cast, and last not but not least, Sir Ian McKellen. Oh. Em. Gee. When we were waiting in line, Suvi, the guy next to us from Bellingham (weird right?) and I were all talking about how we had no idea what we would say if he came out, and that was accurate. Oh man, he was just the picture of an English gentleman. He was tall and polite (although I was expecting him for some reason to be like 6’11, probably because of Gandalf’s pointy hat…). He went through the entire line in front of me, and got to me and said:

“So we have France, Italy, England, Finland and…”

“Phoenix” (omg omg omg omg)

“Ah, Phoenix. What a lovely place. I’ve been there, so warm. Did you see William Hurst come out earlier?”

“Yes I did, that was neat… I really enjoyed the show, thank you so much…”

“Ah, I am glad, why thank you.”

(Rude-interrupting-French Kid) “Excuse me sir, may I picture?”

“Yes if it’s quick” Walks away after shaking my hand.

So that was like the highlight of you know, my month.

We finally after a lot of wandering and giggling made it back home. The next day was like knowledge overload. After taking our pictures at platform 9 3/4, we went to the British Library where I saw pretty much every famous manuscript ever. Including but not limited to:

Magna Carta, Guttenberg Bible, Beowulf.

Wow.

Then, we made a mad dash to Camden Town. Interesting place. Sort of like if a farmer’s market, punk music, and the Oriental Trading company had a baby. It was fun though. Suvi met a friend from home, so she was really happy. I kind of went off and did my own thing, mostly consisting of eating Mexican food and finding fun hats.

I got burned out pretty fast from all the crowds and selling and yelling, so I left Suvi and Camden to try to squeeze in a few hours at the British Museum. If the British Library has every manuscript ever, then the British Museum has the history of humanity. In four buildings. There is nothing like it in the States, save maybe all the Smithsonian’s put together. How do you even describe artifacts from Nebuchadnezzar, Egyptians, Assyrian, Greeks, Romans, Mayans, Anglos Saxons, the Americas, Chinese explorers, Indian temples, ancient masks from central Africa, ugh. Literally every culture in every epoch. Trying to narrow it down leaves me with, the Rosetta stone, the Sutton Hoo burial artifacts, a jade mask from South America, an Easter Island head, Ramses II stuff, and lots of things from Babylon. It was incredible. I basically ran through it because I only had an hour and a half, but I could have stayed in there for months.

I spent the rest of the day recovering from little sleep and lots of walking in a coffee shop, then met up with Miss Suvi, and headed home. I can’t wait until I live in London someday. Or at least go back this semester.

Here are my pictures.

http://s982.photobucket.com/albums/ae305/sglady11/London/