Thursday, 11 December 2008

The End.

I am sitting here amongst the three large bags of things I brought to London. I have finished packing up my London life... and am trying not to think about the massive charges I will get for my overweight bags. But that's not really what's on my mind. I am thinking about all the million things I will miss here.  I have fallen head over heels in love with this place.  I love everything about it. Being here has changed me in so many ways. I have grown up so much in the past 4 four months, in ways that I didn't even know possible. I have met 42 amazing friends who are such wonderful people. I learn from them everyday. Coming here was a dream come true. I have always wanted to go, and here I am... 4 months later and I feel like I haven't woken up yet. This whole time has seemed like dream. England is magical.  Everyday I just fall in love even more.  

I love the random faces that I see on the tube. 
I love the beautiful parks that seem to be right out of a storybook. 
I love the london dogs, that are more like people.  
I love all the london animals, the sauntering squirrels, and the friendly pigeons.  
I love the architecture and being awestruck everyday by the amazing buildings, including the one I live in. 
I love the National Gallery, and the way that it taught me to fall in love with art. 
I love the greenest green I have ever seen... in all the plants and hills here. 
I love getting so excited to see an empty tube train and not having to fight to get a seat.
I love having dinner with 42 of my closest friends.  
I love the feeling of coming home after being away for a couple of days. 
I love the shows I get to go see.
I love my professors, who teach me so much and have helped to make this experience even more meaningful.
I love St. Pauls. 
I love  being so tired and sleeping so well every night.
I love 27 Palace Court. 
I love Shakespeare, and the RSC.
I love the tube and all the billions of places that it takes me.
I love my ward... and really loving and caring about people I hardly know. 
I love grilled toastie sandwiches at Bourough's market.
I love my roommates.
I love the opera, and the ballet.
I love talking about feelings.  
I love Tony the busdriver, even when he tells stories about war monuments while I am trying to nap. 
I love movie nights in the classroom. 
I love playing Spaz. 
I love being the only one in the room and finding a bit of peace and quiet.
I love having 12 awesome roommates, so that I can enjoy my peace and quiet.
I love walking in the city alone, and just being in the city alone.
I love the markets, especially Portobello.
I love searching for Peter Pan books, and getting to hold ones that are 800 pounds.
I love old books.
I love all the adorable London families. 
I love the little children's school uniforms, and matching hats, and backpacks and everything. 
I love Victoria station and traveling there every Sunday. 
I love talking to my mom on Sundays.
I love getting letters in London, and putting the letters I send in the pretty red mailboxes here.
I love the double decker buses. 
I love my camera. 
I love escalators. 
I love palaces and pretty places that we go visit. 
I love the Queen... even if I never got to see her, or meet her.  
I love pounds. 
I love Marks and Spencer, and Percy Pigs.
I love Monet, Van Gogh, Holbien, Turner, Renior, Constable, Degas, Cezanne, Rodin, Caravaggio, and all the other artists I have fallen in love with here. 
I love being so excited to wake up every morning and knowing that I will have an adventure every day. 
I love the person that I have come to be here. 
I love all the other millions of things I can't even remember right now.  

I just can't really bear to say goodbye. So I guess I'll just say see you later... 

I am in denial that I am leaving on tomorrow and I don't know if it will even hit me until I have woken up from my 48 hour post-London recuperation nap that I am planning to take.  I'll wake up with all the other things I love, my family, my home, Christmas, Kwazi, my bed, and 2 weeks of relaxation. And although I will miss my new home very much it is no replacement for my old home.  I am just so grateful to have had this amazing life-changing opportunity.  

I love you London... and I will miss you oh so very much. 

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Chapter Eighteen

Okay so I suppose my decision to forgo the blogging until I get home didn't last long, but I was taking a break from my essays and watching Elf so I decided to multi-task and at least catch up a bit on my blogging. So here goes. The past few days... er, the past few days of last, last week. 

Regents Park:
Okay so let's start with Regent's Park. The squirrels at Regent's are the most precocious squirrels I had ever met.  I was just pretending to feed one and then he decides that it's cool to climb up my leg... like shimmy up my leg, which is not cool, when you are a squirrel, or anyone for that matter. But hey, I don't think I have rabies yet, and at least I got this awesome picture out of it. 

Squirrel on my leg!

Jane Austen's House: 
Yay for Jane Austen! And yay for her house! There is only so much to do at Jane Austen's house so I saw it, and then we went and played at this awesome park that was across the street. They had the coolest swing thing ever. If only America's parks were this cultured and awesome... I mean Jane Austen probably played there too right?

a.k.a. We get all dressed up and go to tea at Kensington Palace.  What could be more American?  Well probably a lot of things, but I do think it's appropriate to do something typically British while celebrating Thanksgiving in Britain.  Although this is a little late I would like to take this time to give thanks for some of the things that I am thankful for.  I can't even believe how blessed I am to be here in London.  I love everything here, the shows, the parks, the museums, the history... everything! I have learned so much here and met so many amazing people. I am so grateful for all the awesome girls (and boy) that I live with... it is so fun to live with 40 of your best friends. Not to mention all my other amazing friends that I have at home... who I miss very very much.  I am so thankful for my parents and family and for all that they have taught me, and encouraged me in everything that I do, and for helping me to go on this program.  I am so grateful to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.... the church makes me so happy and I don't know where I would be without it, but I am glad I don't have to find out.  I am grateful for my bed... after being run ragged every day I really understand how glorious a good night sleep is... oh and I am grateful for naps too! Okay so those are the big ones I guess. I really am just so grateful to be alive and to have so many opportunities in my life. I am so blessed in so many ways.  

Chapter Seventeen

To my dedicated blog readers: 

I don't know if there are many of you, but if there are, please note, it is finals week and I am stressed. So there may be a lack of blogging in the next week until I go back home in 8 days and recuperate from the the busiest three and a half months of my life. I will be sure to blog about anything and everything Londony from my couch... I am sure I will be going through withdrawals and will want to relive every moment, and share it all with you.  


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Chapter Sixteen

"je ne parle pas francais".... translation: I do not speak french.  

Basically the story of my life this past week.  We took a little trip to Paris and I basked in the classy Parisian streets and saw all that Paris has to offer (well maybe not... but pretty close).  I did so much that I can barely even remember it all, so I am going to give the highlights. 

Eiffel Tower: 
The first place we went in Paris. Oh and it is amazing. It is grand and tall and sparkles on the hour.  We went up to the top at night and the view was amazing.  It is tall, really tall, Dad you wouldn't have liked it. Day or night the Eiffel Tower is so pretty, its odd such an industrial looking tower could be so romantic... maybe everything in Paris is just romantic. 

The Language Barrier:
The language barrier is called a barrier for a very good reason. You can't communicate. At all. So that made for an interesting week.  "Parlez-vous anglais?" (do you speak english) is my new favorite phrase... and so is merci... which came in handy when I took off after my camera. I had left it on the public bus... so it was basically a goner. Rather than behaving normally and assuming that it was gone and sulking for a week then buying a new one I took off after the bus.  I left Hillary and Becky and booked it. For those of you who are unaware running is kind of out of character for me, but I forgot my normal character and ran like the wind. By the time I was winded I got on the first 69 bus I saw.  I attempted to communicate to the driver in english/french/sign language (heavy on the sign language) that my camera was on the bus that was ahead. He was able to decipher that he should call ahead.  Miraculously the camera was found and I rode triumphantly to retrieve it.  I found Becky and Hillary, who thought I was mad (as the British like to say).  I have never loved a french bus driver more in my life, or my camera.  Anyways my that is my heroic story for the week... although it doesn't fit into the language barrier topic. Whatever.  

Oh my oh my. Forget the city of love  Paris is the city of art. We spent a whole day in art museums: the Louvre, the Musee d' Orsay, and Musee de l' Orangerie. Oh it was glorious.  We started the day at the Louvre and were there right when it opened. We saw the Mona Lisa which wasn't as cool from five feet away and shrouded under plated glass, but its all good.  We cruised through Mesopotamia and Ancient Egypt, and all the highlights.  Which was still nothing. Apparently if you spend 30 seconds at every painting in the Louvre it would take you 3 months to finish it... not cool... if you only have a week. 

Next stop was the Musee d' Orsay.  It was so awesome and again filled with far too many priceless pieces of art.  Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Manet, Renoir. Love it. 

My very favorite was the Musee de l' Orangerie.  Basically it was designed just to house Monet's giant paintings, "The Water Lilies."  There were these blank white circular rooms with these beautiful paintings on the walls. Oh is was lovely. Like heaven on earth... heaven better have Monet's "Water Lilies."

Beautiful Cathedrals:
Chartres Cathedral was our first stop. We got there kind of lateish so we didn't get to see the full lighted Cathedral but what I did see was still amazing.  The stained glass windows were so beautiful and straight from Medieval times.  We had this awesome tour that deciphered the meanings of the windows.  This is probably one of my favorites.  The building is so tall and so impressive, and just beautiful.
Notre Dame... very pretty. After Chartres it wasn't as impressive but it was still beautiful. I loved the rose window, and that it was on a little island. We pretended to be the huntchback of Notre Dame and basked in the building's greatness. I love the outside of the cathedrals.  The flying buttresses and the architecture of the building are probably my favorite parts.  

Saint Chappelle. This is my favorite. By far. I love love loved it. I had no idea what to expect from this one and I walked in and was astounded. All the walls in the room are covered in stained glass.  It is so beautiful. The glass illustrates from the beginning of the world to the end of the world.  I can't even say how beautiful it was, and the photo below does not nearly do it justice. 

Public Restrooms:
Really, really sketchy. Automatic closing doors... and homeless men... and I really have to go pee. Need I say more?

Creepy, not quite as creepy as the public restrooms, but pretty creepy. We strolled through a whole mile of walls filled with piled up human bones.  Kind of gross, but really awesome. I mean where else can I go see thousands of bones on a Thursday afternoon?  Maybe go visit Chopin's grave in a crazy graveyard... which is what we did next. 

Rick Steves:
He is our hero... everything we did came from Becky's Rick Steves Guidebook. We went on the walks that he had in the book and it was awesome. We saw windy Parisian streets, awesome old bookstores, Picasso and Renior's hangouts, Jewish nieghborhoods, etc. None of which we would have seen without good ol' Rick. 

French Food:
Ooh la la. I love french food. Crepes, baguettes, pastries, gourmet ice cream... mmm... delicious. I ate far too much of it, and yet I was still always wanting more. I mean you can never have too many sugar crepes right?

Au revoir Paris! As much as I enjoyed being with you, it's nice to be home.

I love that London is home. 

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Chapter Fifteen

Just when you think that London couldn't get any better you turn the corner and a little piece of paradise appears.  Candy colored row houses, a pretty park with peacocks... I mean really? Is this real life? And I am fairly certain it is, but sometimes it really doesn't seem that way.  
green, pink, yellow, blue...

a piece of paradise. 

pretty as a peacock in a public park.

Chapter Fourteen

These past few weeks have got me thinking about how blessed I am, not only to be here, but for so many other things. The other day we went to the Imperial War Museum, and it has been Remembrance week, with Veteran's and Armistice Day. We went and visited Westminster Abbey and the Field of Remembrance. They had a memorial set up for all the soldiers who died in the great war. The museum had exhibits on World War I and World War II, and it just really showed me how lucky we are today.  The lives that those soldiers, and civilians lived were so difficult.  I start complaining when I get only 7 hours of sleep. So many of these people would work all day and then almost all night as well.  They had no beds, during the Blitz they went down into bunkers all night and tried to sleep through the air raids.  I can't even imagine.  After the World War exhibits I went to the Holocaust Memorial Exhibit.  I hadn't ever really been to a Holocaust musuem before and it was so upsetting.  I still cannot believe that people could be killed simply because of their beliefs, but I know that it happens and that it still happens.  It disgusted me how all the people were persecuted and tortured, and how many innocent people were killed.  It made me so grateful for the peace that we have in our nation and made me realize what a blessing that peace is.  I do not need to live in fear because of my religion and can enjoy my day to day life. It is such a blessing that I take for granted every day.  

I am so grateful for everyone who has fought and died for the cause of freedom, and for all of the blessings that I now enjoy because of their sacrifice.  

Chapter Thirteen

I love birthdays, but I really love London birthdays! 

I am now 19... there isn't much exciting about being 19, but if my birthday day was any indication of how the year will go I will have a lovely 19th year. We spent the day at Hampton Court Palace which is where King Henry the Eighth lived.  It was so pretty... I love palaces, especially on my birthday. I think everything is just better on  birthdays.   

We went through a hedge maze! I have never been in a maze before... so it was fun. This was us at the heart of the maze, hence the hearts. 

Pretty, pretty Hampton Gardens.

I love jumping pictures! 

We had lunch at the palace and frolicked about the gardens.  It was just such a good day.  After Hampton court we came back.  Unfortunately we had a bunch of work this weekend, like two papers and a test. So I didn't go crazy on my birthday night. We all went to this yogurt place called Snog. It was good. Then I came back and wrote a paper (happy birthday to me!) Then we watched Peter Pan!  It's the perfect birthday movie.  My favorite movie, plus it's set in London, and its about growing up. What more could you want right? 

It was a lovely lovely birthday. I love being 19. I have a feeling it's going to be a good year. 

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Chapter Twelve

A Lovely London Weekend in Pictures

Oh yes, that's Leo... good old Leonardo DiCaprio.  We went to Body of Lies premiere and basically stalked Leo and took a lot of pictures of the back of his head. Such a good time. It's weird... I really only know Leo from his old Titanic days, and even then I was in elementary school, but when you get in a group of screaming girls and Leonardo is right in front of you, you feel the urge to start screaming to.  So I did. And it was oh so fun. 

I love pick up pictures, especially awkward ones in the middle of Gelato Mio... and I basically am in love with Gelato Mio. Pear and strawberry-- to die for. 

I walked up to the National Gallery after a nice hunt in some old bookstores and this is what I found.   I love London sunsets and Trafalgar Square, especially together.  And then I went to the National Gallery and basked in the brilliance of beautiful works of art... typical Friday afternoon.
I love the Lord Mayor's Parade! And British flags and poppies! This week has been a week of festivities to remember all the people who fought and died for Britain. Everyone wears paper poppies that I love.  I have three.  The Lord Mayor's Parade was so exciting.  We waved our British flags proudly and were the lone cheerers on the street of quiet Brits.  Yay for London!

Ohh how I adore Big Ben... and London at night. We went to see the firework show the night of the Lord Mayor's Parade.  We didn't know where it would be we just knew it was on the Thames, so we got off at the Westminster tube stop and camped out under Big Ben.  We couldn't see the show very well, but hey who can complain.  I saw fireworks over the Thames, in London, 200 yards from Big Ben.  I love my life. 

Friday, 7 November 2008

Chapter Eleven

This week we went on a short jaunt to Wales and a bit of England that is next to Wales.  Our first stop was the Big Pit, which is a coal mine.  Basically it was awesome.  We got to go down in the mine and take a tour.  It was intense. We had to wear hard hats and leather belts with ventilators on them, in case the mine caved in or something. Basically we were looking really cute.  
Coal Mining Cuties. 
Our tour guide was a hilarious little Welsh man.  He told us all about how he did drugs once in Amsterdam and he would never do it again... basically my favorite middle aged Welsh coal miner ever.  The mine was awesome, but would be no fun to work in and made me so glad that I will never be a coal miner, even though I did love the hard hat ensemble.  

Our next stop was the Welsh Folk Museum.  It wasn't really a museum, but more like a Welsh Folk version of Disneyland.  There were all these old Welsh buildings that took you through all different aspects of Welsh life.  The whole area was very pretty and the autumn trees were my favorite.  Growing up in Newport didn't give a lot of opportunities to bask in autumn's loveliness.  So I did in Wales.  

I love autumn. 

Chicken fight in the Cock Pit.

The next day we went to Tintern Abbey, or what was left of Tintern Abbey.  When Henry VIII began the Church of England he had all the montessoris disolved.  The churches were stripped of everything, including the roof, so they fell into disrepair.  There are tons of Abbey ruins all over England.  I loved Tintern.  It was so beautiful and majestic.  In a way I thought it was almost more beautiful as the intact abbey's.  The mixture of the grand building and nature was really beautiful.  

The rest of the day we went on a church history tour of the Hereforshire area.  We visited the places where Wilford Woodruff taught.  It was really great to be able to see the places where miracles happened and learning about the difficulties that many early members of the church faced. One of my favorite places we visited was British Camp, Malvern Hill.  It wasn't really a british camp, but was used in a battle or something.  That wasn't why it was cool though.  It was this huge green hill.  When we got to the top we could see all of the countryside.  It was beautiful.  The sun broke through the clouds while we were up there and we could see the whole expanse of the Malvern hills and the fields and villages.  

I am still amazed by all things that I have done these past few months.  Whenever I look back at the things I have done it seems unreal.  Everyday is such an adventure, it seems unreal.  I have climbed to the top of the Malvern hills, explored ruins, and traipsed through tunnels 400 feet underground, and that was just these past two days. Somebody pinch me, please. 

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Chapter Ten

Fall is now leaving... off to bigger and better things I suppose, but what could be better than shielding me from winter? I don't know. The leaves have changed and fallen... fall has been so good to us.  It's been sunny and relatively warm, now it's full time glove and coat season, I guess it's good I brought four.  Hooray for overpacking! Today it rained. Hard. And it's dark early, and cold... but you know I love it. I don't know how that works. If I were in Provo I would be crying with this weather but somehow London makes it okay. It's charming freezing windy rain.  Is that possible? Yes indeed it is.  

Hello London Winter. 

Chapter Nine

Yesterday all my childhood dreams were fulfilled. 
I was finally Wendy from Peter Pan... in London no less. 

Captain Hook, Rufio, Tinkerbell, Wendy, and Tiger Lily in front of Big Ben.

Wendy and the prime meridian... I really am magical because I am in two places at once!

I'm flyiinggg. 

Hook is a codfish. 

The nursery with Michael and Tink. 

Wendy is a gansta. 

The whole group. Alex as Rufio. Brooke as Tinkerbell. Rebbie as Peter Pan. Me as Wendy. Sara as Tiger Lily. Jordyn as Hook. Marin as Michael. 

The end. It was one of the loveliest days of my life. 

Monday, 27 October 2008

Chapter Eight

This weekend was quite an adventure. We left on Thursday and made our way to Edinburgh, Scotland.  We had it all figured out, the train tickets were ordered, the hostel was booked. Nothing was supposed to go wrong.... but alas. It did. Everything, well almost everything, went wrong, but it really made the whole trip much more fun and funny and exciting.  

The first mishap happened in a little place called Berwick-Upon-Tweed. I have no idea where that is but we got dumped off at the train station because something or other was going wrong with our train.  Were told to get on the next train heading to Scotland... they didn't tell us the next train heading to Scotland was completely full and that we would have to be crammed in the in-between sections of the train next to the bathroom. Lovely. 

That's not all... the new train decided to stop for 2 1/2 hours.  Not fun.  The upside: we got all our train money refunded, got some really great recommendations of things to do from some Scottish men,  and we had a ridiculously funny situation involving a drunk lady who wanted to have a smoke.  And that was before we even got there.  

We arrived in Scotland far later than we anticipated but still had time to go on a ghost tour! It was really scary and fun.  We went through Grayfriar's Graveyard and Covenanter's Prison, the lair of the Mackenzie Poltergeist. Scary huh? It was... but it was really fun too.  
We got completely lost after the tour, which ended like two blocks away from our hostel.  By the time we got back it was 1:30 in the morning and completely pouring.  It was fun though and we got to see a lot of the city and a lot of drunk people, and enjoy the Scottish weather.  

Friday we went down the Royal Mile and saw fun Scottish sights like the Holyrood Palace and Scottish Parliament, loads of Scottish gift shops, and an awesome indian store.  We went inside St. Giles Cathedral and admired in the quaint, charming Scottish streets. I had no idea that Edinburgh was going to be so cute and charming.  All the buildings in the Old Town were, well, old and cute and charming.  The roads were paved with cobblestones and everything was adorable. 
The gang: me, Anna, Holli, Alison, Hailee, and Lauren

We went to a storytelling festival and the Museum of Childhood. I was basically loving life, I think I am a five year old at heart.  

After exploring we took refuge in The Elephant House, which is where J.K. Rowling conceived the idea for Harry Potter.  We ate delicious elephant shortbread cookies and beef stew, and wrote on napkins.  There were all these other napkins hidden in a drawer on our table from other people who had visited as well. It was a really great time just to sit and think and try to be creative.

That night we went and saw Mary Poppins, it was really good.  The set was amazing, but the story was a little different.  It was fun though.  Oh yes, and in the middle of the show the curtains closed and we had a short break due to technical difficulties... when does that ever happen?

Saturday was almost as much of a success as our train ride. We were planning on going to the castle and to Arthur's seat, but sadly we couldn't do either due to the wind and rain.  The gusts were so strong we could hardly walk up to the castle, or down from the castle, because the wind couldn't decide which way it wanted to blow I suppose.  Instead of going to the castle we went to this awesome museum called Camera Obscura.  Like I said it was awesome.  The whole things is filled with optical illusions and fun things.  

After that we braved the weather and walked to the Frankenstein Pub, which is apparently world famous, although I wasn't aware.  We ate lunch and then headed to the train station to head back to London. Of course the day we go home the rails were undergoing service so we had to go the opposite direction and then back to London, so our four hour train ride ended up being 7 hours.  Needless to say we were pretty thrashed by the time we got back home to London.  The whole trip was so fun, even though Scotland was out to get us. I think Scotland won.  

Oh yeah, and I love this guy.  It's always good to be prepared.