Wednesday, January 26, 2011

this post is too short for a title

Ok I'm bummed. I just wrote a total zinger for an intro, but my better judgement made me delete it and replace it with this. Stupid common sense and respobsible logic. No fun at all.
But anyway, on Monday a bunch of us did get to tour the BBC, which was surprisingly awesome. I'm actually learning stuff here that's really interesting. Unfortunately, even with all this learning, I am apparently unable to come up with a better word for that last sentence to replace "stuff". Whatever.
But yeah, the BBC. Did you know that station is funded just by tax-paying citizens which means they need to provide complete objectivity in news and programming? Am I the only one who finds that fascinating? It's like how in my hometown, the profits from the city-run liquor stores paid for the embellishments to the waterpark. Or at least, those two completely unrelated stories seemed connected in my head. Via text, not so much. But yeah, I saw a Tardis, the people in charge of researching and planning the news, and an actual tv studio for a bad game show all in one tour. AWESOME.
Other than that, I just had classes and my internship this week. If you're in any way curious about the organization I'm working with, this is them.
They're pretty cool people.
It also appears that spring break for me will include a few days in Paris (including a trip to Versailles) and one or two days at the D-Day beaches. Commence jealous hating of me... now.
How's that snow working for you, UConn? I actually needed to zip up my jacket today, so I feel your pain. Only not really. See, I'm laughing at you now. It's fun for me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It's Called "Soccer"

Oh, hey internet. You want me to tell you about my past couple of days? I guess I can do that if you really want me to. What's that? I'm "obviously running out of ways to begin posts?"... shut up.
So Friday. I don't have anything happening on Fridays, so the majority of the day was spent wasting time until I was going to meet up with some friends for dinner. My friend and I took busses to Waterloo again (SCORE for not getting lost) and met up with the guys. We then made our way to Ed's, an American-style 50's diner. Because obviously we're in London and we needed a unique cultural experience. It was actually really cute and fun, even if I did misunderstand the waitress and spend two pounds on water. Highlights: British Greg trying root beer and comparing it to cough syrup and also holding in my inappropriate jokes when they were discussing his hot dog. After the bouncer (why there was a bouncer/security guard at this diner, I will never know) let us out, we proceeded to an obscure candy shop that sells American and Japanese candy. After looking around and laughing at the expensiveness of the stuff (1.18 for one Twinkie that isn't even full sized?) the decision was made to take us around to the touristy places. In retrospect, it might not have been the smartest idea ever, considering it was night and actually very cold, but it was really fun nevertheless. If this was a video, this would be the place for a speedy photo montage. Oh, well. Trafalgar square was nice, even though we couldn't really figure out how to get on the lions (they are actually quite large). Then we hit up Buckingham Palace (after a stop into Cafe Nero to warm up a bit), which is really just a big rectangle and honestly not too impressive. After someone said they always kept a sniper on the roof, I got a little worried and tried to come off as unsketchy as possible, but also made sure to stand behind one of the guys just in case. Next stop was the area where the Prime Minister lives, which we couldn't really get into because there was a large gate with guards in front of his street. This led to a discussion of guns and bombs for some reason, which I calmly asked them to relocate to an area lacking men with artillery. Our last tourist stop was Big Ben and Parliament, which I was amused to find out has an actual, real pub inside. That's totally what Congress needs- a bar.
We hung around to hear Big Ben chime at the quarter hour, but it didn't and I felt cheated by England. We finished out the night at a pub, where we actually found a table after searching for a few minutes. This pub experience was much less embarassing for me, thanks mostly to the dinner aspect of earlier that evening. Riding the Tube back to King's Cross was absolutely miserable because there were delays in the train and after waiting for quite a while to even board, we were jam packed in one giant mass of humanity. Public transportation, you have failed me yet again.
The next day, I beheld the ultimate British experience: a soccer game. Now, there's been a lot of talk over the past year about soccer and how America hates it and blahblahblah but I really don't understand why. It is AWESOME. What part of screaming obscenities, rivalries, sports, and police in riot gear doesn't scream United States? Let's talk about the fans.
Say you're at Fenway. A few guys, maybe who have had a few, start chanting something pretty harmless. Maybe a few more pick it up, it goes on for maybe a minute if it's a really good one. This might happen a few times a game, maybe a little more, that's normal and adds to the experience. And then there's soccer.
At a soccer game, those few drunk guys are an entire section, and that chant is an elaborate song, which swiftly switches to a poem, which leads to expletive-filled mocking and name-calling, and all these guys are connected in this knowledge and create an unbreaking, perfect mass of slurred shouting. But they aren't the only ones. There's at least one other group that is exactly the same in method and practice. It's fantastic.
The game itself was impressive too, but what really made the experience was definitely the people in the stands. Highlights: A young boy trying to recreate what the two twenty-something guys there with him were shouting angrily, and our entire group standing when everyone else did and shouting even though we had no idea what the big deal was, or even if we were excited or angry -"Something happened, I don't know what, let's just point and yell!"
I think I love soccer.
FYI- I know it's called football here, but I'm not sure whether my being American and calling it that makes me pretentious or culturally aware. So I'm airing on the side of the arrogant American- "It's called SOCCER and I'm always freaking right. USA! USA!"

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Class, Conservation, and Cadberry Eggs

Sorry guys, this post is most likely going to be less "oh WOW London's awesome!" and more "I'm super bored and no one's on Skype so let's rant about random stuff online." Deal with it.
Classes started this week with an interesting start. My first class on Monday, Cinema and Social Change and Whatever was permanently cancelled because the professor was called back home. So that was unfortunate. I switched into a Communications class about how the media is affecting the political process (or something) and hopefully that counts toward a related course in my major... because, you know, school. Other than that, I had classes about British politics and the history of the docklands in London. They should both be ok, but the introductory stuff was slight torture. And the workload is a bit more than I expected. But if there's one thing I know how to do, it's write a paper on stuff I don't actually know anything about. Thanks, Eastview.
So for various reasons, both yesterday and today consisted for me of mostly... nothing. I just didn't have anything to do. So I pulled on my maturity pants and unpacked, organized, went grocery shopping, and did dishes. YEAH.
Tomorrow begins the next stage of this program, the internship part. I'm working with three other students for/with Global Action Plan, an organization that strives to help the environment and teach businesses and schools about living environmentally-friendly lives. At least I'm pretty sure that's what they do. I haven't finished going through their website yet. And while this may not go along with my career plan, sometimes you just have to put aside the blinders and try something else, right? That's what I'm going with, anyway. Trees, man. Trees.
So I made myself ramen for dinner (I know, impressive) and despite brushing my teeth, having a mint and a small scoop of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, this weird filmy gross aftertaste still lingers. What do I have to do, take a power sander to my mouth? Because I'd really rather not do that, if possible.
I've also been listening to the new Avril Lavigne single on repeat pretty much all day (Wait, why are you judging me? stop that.) Aside from that song, I'm in this weird country phase right now... which is weird considering I'm kind of in the polar opposite region to appreciate that music.
OH. And did you guys realize that in Cadberry eggs the inside that's white and that weird yellow-orange color is specially colored to look like a real egg and yolk and stuff? That blew my mind a few days ago.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Week in London

ughhh i guess it's time for anotherrr postttt. fyi, the amount of extraneous letters added to words indicates either extra happiness or fatigue. this instance just happens to include the latterrrr. not that i'm not happy, but i'm just tired and... oh whatever you get it.
and also, i'm sitting in a real chair at a real table LIKE AN ADULT. yeah.
Yesterday was probably one of the best days ever. Or at least afternoon/night. I'm not going to go into details, because I could go on for days just gushing, but here's highlights: -not getting lost when it would have been completely understandable for that to happen -new friends -first experience in a British pub (which we aren't going to talk about because OMG EMBARASSING) -total England emersion of awesome.
Then today the group went on an excursion to Greenwich, which is, you know, pretty. We saw the Prime Meridian as well. How many of you can say you saw where time begins? Yeah, I'm a big deal. We also spent some time in the Queen's House (which isn't currently a queen's house, but it used to be. Now it's an art museum that houses many portraits of dead intimidating-looking white guys) and the National Maritime Museum (which we saw about an eighth of before hiting the cafe for the rest of our allotted time).
May I also note, England is also very good with cheap lunches? There are a bunch of places with these deals for only about 3 pounds... it would be like walking into a Walgreens with five dollars and leaving with a (quite tasty) sandwich, bag of chips or fruit, and a bottled drink. It's awesome and I like it.
By the time we arrived back at our flat, though, we were quite hungry and decided to cook a frozen pizza for dinner. However, for some reason we cannot figure out our oven at all. After a while I just cut the damn thing and stuck the pieces in the microwave. And it totally worked. Which leads me to the question: Why use the oven EVER? Such a waste of time. Team Microwave.
Classes actually start tomorrow, which is weird. These past few days have been so great, why ruin them with things like learning? First thing in the morning (which last semester would have been 8am is now 10am...yesssss) I have Cinema as an Instrument for Social Change. Whatever the heck that means. I'm currently supposed to be finishing the reading for that, but there's a lot of it and I'm tired and obviously complain-y so I guess I'm just... not. Maybe I should pick up a coffee habit.
So we've now been here for a complete week, and there's only fourteen or so left. That's not enough! I really need to make the most of my time here, but don't worry, I'll keep on blogging about it (cheeeeeesy)
Oh, and also. I saw Dr. Who for the first time a few days ago and it was AWESOME. Nerd status: enhanced.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I figure if I keep trying to make up retelling the days that have passed, more days will just keep passing and this will not work out. So instead I'm just going to make some lists because lists are AWESOME.

Foods I have eaten here I had never tried prior to consumption

-fresh egg tortellera/tantellora/tarantuala whateverrrrrr

-white chocolate and pistaccio parfait

-this one toffee granola bar from Boots

-damson jam (can anyone tell me what damsons are? I would like to know what I'm eating)

-toffee waffle-cookie things

things I've done that were Totally British

-ridden a double decker bus/the tube

-sloshed around in the rain

-gone to a play

-read the time of day in military time

-paid for a purchase using one coin

reasons why London is the best place of all the places

-the old, beautiful architecture is all over, it literally never stops

-everywhere is just so clean

-random people walking by have accents

-little children also have accents and are THE MOST ADORABLE THING EVAR

-there are more guys in skinny jeans here than at a theater festival and this amuses me

-if you're with someone who knows where they're going, public transportation is sort of great

-prices at least appear to be lower, and not just the obvious way like 10$ is like 7 pounds. But something that would normally go for $10 at home is like 5 pounds here, which is about $7.

-Harry Potter IRL

-everything is just so full of history yesssssssss

-a bunch of museums are just free for the public. England knows what's up.

-red phone booths are plentiful :D

-it just IS, ok?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ok, I have to whip through these past few days because it's already Wednesday and I'm still only on Sunday night. Let's do this thing.
After we settled into our flat a bit, we met as a group (and a fairly large group at that... 38 kids all walking en masse is kind of a menace) and walked to a restaurant called.... i forget... for dinner. Now this was not a normal dinner. It included three different courses and for me at least, every course was something that I had no idea what it actually was. The first one were these pastry things filled with chicken and herbs and whatever else... that I didn't' realize would be scalding hot when I took the first bite. The main course was this mushroom pasta stuff that I didn't realize would be pasta until I was ordering and the waiter said "That's pasta" and I was like, "Oh. Ok then." Another option for the main course was a burger and I guess not that surprisingly, a lot of people from the group stuck to familiar American things and just got that. It actually looked really good so who am I to judge? For dessert I ordered a white chocolate and pistaccio parfait, but instead of a dish or whatever-type parfait I got two rectangles of frozen... stuff. Don't get me wrong, it was delicious, but British stuff is weird. Now at this point everyone was running on about 36 hours without sleep (I have come to the conclusion that sleep on planes is pretty impossible) so most people retired to their flats to recover from exhaustion.
Monday morning started in a panic as my flatmates and I realized all of our alarms were messed up and we were late for the group breakfast and walk to school. So that was fun. But we caught up to everyone having breakfast and continued on to the FSU building, where we will be attending classes. It became obvious we weren't at UConn anymore quickly, was we looked upward in the lobby and saw a painted fresco on the ceiling. Yeah. That's normal.
Whatever-orientation stuff....
After orientation, a group of us went down to another street close to FSU- Tottenham Court Road, maybe you've heard of it? Deathly Hallows anyone? Where the trio apparate to after the wedding? That's a real place I've been to. Haven't seen a diner yet, but when I do you can bet there will be a picture. But anyway, people needed stuff, so we stopped at Boots, which is kind of like Walgreens, and all I kind of needed was mouthwash so I picked some up (which incidentally totally burns and is kind of gross, which is weird because it's just listerine) and while other girls were still looking around for their stuff, I browsed the food and candy section, looking for names and items I didn't recognize. Let's just say, there were quite a few. After paying for my first purchase in England with only a minor mishap (it was self-serve, "Where do I put the money in?! There's no place for it! Oh, 'notes in'. There. Haha, 'notes.'), we moved on to Sainsbury's, the big chain grocery store. I didn't really need anything there either so I just kind of walked around to see what was there. The weirdest thing were these cans of "American Hot Dogs". Probably the most unappetizing this I've ever seen.
Ok that's enough for right now, maybe I'll pick this up later. I have an open-top bus tour to get to. How is this my life?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Arriving in London

So considering it's now actually my third day in London, I figure I should start this already.
I guess I'm starting this blog (I actually really hate that word and will stop using it entirely forthwith) for two reasons: 1. My mom asked me to. And I mean, come on, my mom always has the best ideas. No, really. 2. The last time I went to Europe, even though it was just a week, I didn't chronicle any of it and am now left three years later with mostly memories of friends doing dumb things like holding their breath through tunnels in the Alps and tying sweatshirts in inappropriate places than say, going into the salt mine in Salzburg or any landmark besides the Colisseum in Rome. Maybe this will help that.
So I'm not going to bore anyone who loves me enough to read this with the details of the flight. Flying by design is just as boring as it is horrifying and I merely tolerate it. What I did decide through my flying experience was when I have children, I will not be flying with them until they are at least ten. Because children in airports are obnoxious. We will be driving, and even then probable with some heavy sedatives.
So we arrived in Heathrow, went through customs blahblahblah, and I actually got my luggage within a minute of arriving at baggage claim. For those of you who went on the Italy trip, you can understand my joy at this occurrence. For those of you who didn't, it's a very tragic story involving unhelpful Germans, liquid deodorant, and sadness.
I'm going to fast forward a bit here because there was a lot of standing around at the airport and what's less interesting than people standing? Probably people sitting, but it's close. We then loaded busses that would take us to our flats and from the initial confusion of the driver on the wrong side of the bus to the clock at the front changing from 12:59 to 13:00, we feel thorougly in Britain. The ride to the flats takes about an hour, but only about half of that feels like we're in London. The first half took us through a lot of grass and country-like area, which was kind of weird, but nice. But going through the city-city was even more impressive, as we passed architecture that just doesn't exist in America on every block.
We got to our flat and what can I say? It's a flat. Pretty nice, but compared to everyone else's, my roommates (excuse me, flatmates) and I got the raw end of the deal. But I can deal because my converter hasn't blown up my laptop yet (YES) and the internet is working. Priorities.
I think I'll end this here and pick up on this day later (Oh yeah, this was kind of the longest day of my life, and that includes ACT+band competition day and the days I spent this fall with no wireless connection in our dorm room. So yeah. Hella long day.)
Oh and btw, I always though the double decker busses were just touristy things, but they are London's actual legitimate bus system. Who knew?!