Saturday, April 30, 2011

We'll Always Have London

There were a lot of things I didn't do during my time in London.
I didn't go inside of Westminster Abbey or St. Paul's cathedral. I didn't drink tea every morning or try the many Indian or Thai restaurants available. I didn't see the changing of the guard like every tourist in the city. I didn't hook up with a British guy or go out clubbing. I didn't take advantage of the ridiculously cheap Ryanair flights and travel to Ireland. I didn't buy any of the hokey royal wedding souvenirs. I didn't try haggis in Scotland or Yorkshire pudding in London.

But my semester in Britain was anything but a disappointment.
I saw things I never realized I had always wanted to see; buildings rich with history that just doesn't exist in America and unique cultural locations. Strangers (with and without accents) turned into close friends, and brought incredible happiness back into my life. I discovered in myself a new confidence as I, always the suburban girl, made my way around an unfamiliar city. I learned so much both in and outside of the classroom about this incredible country, its story, and its people. Honestly, adequately presenting my feelings and reflections about my semester abroad is a bit beyond my capabilities. Evidence to this should be the fact that is has taken me about a half hour to write these two small paragraphs (as well as the amount of nauseating cheesiness present in so few words). I guess I'll just say this:

For the past few days I have been back in the United States, I have kept seeing random objects that remind me of certain things that happened over the past few months. Even though this happens quite often, every time it does, I find myself automatically smiling. So even though it does kill me to have that part of my life be over (I totally didn't cry writing this or anything), I know my experiences in London will not leave me. And while I may not be in those places anymore and may never be there again, I am keeping the smile, dammit.

I'm also going to keep blogging. I like it. JSYK.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

you guys don't realize how long I've put off writing this post, but I'm happy with it

So I have this friend. Her name is Emily. Chances are, if you go back into the archives of my posts, if I ever say "my friend" did something, it was Emily. And since I've told you a bunch about some of my other friends here, I should probably tell you a bit about her, too. So here's some things. -Her grandfather was right off the boat from Belgium, and his family was well-known in their little village for waffles. In a country known for having the best waffles in the world, Emily's family was one of the best. When her grandfather migrated to America, he brought the family's recipe with him in the hopes of continuing the Belgian Waffle tradition on the other side of the Atlantic. And that is just what he did. The only glitch in her family's rise to breakfast greatness was a span of time in the 70's where all of the lights in the restaurant went out for a while. But the townspeople loved the waffles so much they all still showed up and ate in the dark. In the small New England town where Emily now lives, her grandfather worked for years to establish himself and his family as baked goods royalty. In fact, it is commonly known there that Emily's grandfather was the one true Waffle King. In fact, Emily's family's waffle restaurant is so good even Obama has eaten there. LOOK. The president is eating waffles. LOOK AT IT.

-Fun fact: Emily actually has a very rare skin disease that only affects her legs. This disease, while not serious, causes her legs to break out in painful hives when encased in cloth. To avoid this uncomfortable feeling, Emily avoids having this occur and rarely ever wears trousers.

-Like Greg, Emily has a Youtube channel. And just like Greg she hardly ever updates it. Here's one of her videos:

No, but seriously.

-along with her weird leg disease, Emily also suffers from short-term memory loss. She just has a lot to handle, ok? But poor Emily has to really concentrate to follow normal conversations, but unfortunately often she just can't and has to let us know that she doesn't know what we're talking about.


So even though everything I've written so far is COMPLETELY FACTUAL, I'm going to begin this next part by saying "But honestly." Just go with it.

But honestly, I could write a bit now about how I'm really happy to have made such an awesome friend who I've had awesome adventures with in England, and how I'm looking forward to future shenanigans. I mean, I could say that, but emotions are GROSS. So here's a compilation of pictures.

Friday, April 15, 2011


My time left in London is really running out. At this point I have about a week and a half left, and that thought is slightly terrifying. I really don’t have too much to share, actually. It seems like I have had a never-ending cascade of work and papers to do for a few weeks, and I still have one more giant of an essay to get through before I’m finished and can worry about finals. So this past weekend was one of poor academic decisions, but correct life ones. On Friday, I had committed myself to writing papers for Communications and Political Science, but got a call to go shopping in Covent Garden , so I went. The way I wrote that makes it sound like I’m Batman. "Whenever I get the call to shop, I will be there. I am… H&M Girl." But what I thought would be a short jaunt to a couple stores turned into half a day of dress shopping, but it was worth it because I found a prom dress (kind of). Because my program here is throwing a prom. Because we are a cliché. And I have no problems with this, because I am a person who loves herself some clichés. So yeah. Found a dress, hung around the Apple store while my friend had her Mac get looked at (gross. Why am I spending so much time in the Apple store lately? Do not like.) I eventually arrived back at my flat and finished my poli sci paper… pretty much. On Saturday, I still had about 2700 words due Monday, but I went on a walk through another part of London called Dalston with some people from my program anyway. It was a gorgeous day, and I got some antique postcards, so the day was a success. We also had lunch in a Turkish café, so that was something different and delicious. Our walk in Dalston finished in this sort of famous cemetery, which was actually completely interesting. Now, I’m a person who… “enjoys” is the wrong word, isn’t it?... you know what I mean… cemeteries normally, and this one was just fascinating. There was no organization at all, you can find a headstone from 1970 next to one from 1880 and that happens all over the place. Also, some of the older stones were very well preserved, and you could easily read ever word, where some of the other ones were far too weathered or even completely destroyed. The entire place was also extremely overgrown, because it is actually preserved due to it being a haven for small wildlife, and not the graves on its land. But it was obviously a popular place, and the footpaths were very clear. So I’m mulling all of this over, then I actually say out loud, “This cemetery is full of contradiction.” Really? Who says stuff like that? I’ll tell you who: pretentious people. SO ASHAMED. Anyway, after the past two days of excursions, I was determined for Sunday to be dedicated to getting my work done. Then I got a call from my friend saying there was a Harry Potter event on Oxford Street to celebrate the dvd release of Deathly Hallows Part 1. I don’t think I’ve ever gone from looking unacceptable-for-public-viewing to cute so quickly in my entire life. I booked it down to Oxford Street , only falling once on the way, and even that was almost a float, and I ended up on the ground in a very prim and ladylike pose. So I met up with my friend in a giant line, and we waited for about 45 minutes behind two adolescent boys with too much gel in their hair for wristbands. We got them, then left feeling awesome to waste time before we had to get back for the actual event. Shopping happened. Again. We came back for the event, and then came more waiting, this time in the actual store. Which doesn’t have great ventilation/air conditioning. So waiting in line with 250 screaming Harry Potter fans was not such fun times for me. But after our turn of waiting was finished, we got to the front and the covers of our blue rays/dvd’s (by the way, I don’t have a blue ray player and the dvd won’t work in America… but whatever) were signed by Griphook/Flitwick (who tried to have a mini-conversation with my friend, but she was not having it), Tonks, Mr. Weasley, Luna (who my friend actually did have a conversation with, and the actress is so fabulously Irish), and Neville (who is SO ADORABLE OMGOMGOMG). Will never stop being worth it. But just so you all continue to believe in my academic capabilities, I did go home and finish my papers. Or I finished them in the morning before class. WHATEVER THEY GOT DONE.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wales, the Canada of Europe

Oh hey guys. It's been a while, what's up? ... that's nice. I can't actually hear you, you realize that right? Oh, good. I was worried for a second. Wow, that was the most not-funny introduction I've probably ever written. It's all about raising the bar. I play to win. Speaking of which, my fair-weather fandom has been reinvigorated because my college is now better than yours and there's no reason to even argue about it. Sorry, that's just how it is. I don't care much about sports, but I care just enough to bask in the glory of being better than everyone else. I always care enough to do that. So the past couple of weeks have been sort of awesome. Not school so much, but at least it hasn't sucked. Actually, in one of my classes this week we watched "The Special Relationship" about Tony Blair and Bill Clinton and is it sad I loved it? Dennis Quaid was spot on as Clinton, and when he first came on camera, the entire class cracked up because honestly, that president was pretty much a cartoon character. Also, was Tony Blair always such a dick? Because I get the feeling the man is slightly ridiculous and I don't get it. We were able to visit Oxford last weekend, which of course meant more Harry Potter geeking out. I'm not saying we recreated a specific scene in a spot where they shot the movie, but who am I kidding YES I AM SAYING THAT. I bought an Oxford crew sweatshirt and am now just that much more English. On the following Friday, I sat in a bus for three hours with some friends to visit Cardiff for the day. While being surprisingly devoid of touristy stuff, I sort of loved it. I found my family name on stuff in the gift shop and for me that's all the homecoming I need. I am now Welsh. Officially. One of the important stops in our Cardiff day was the harbor, because some important Doctor Who stuff apparently happened there, and my friend insisted. Because we decided against taking a bus there, it took us an hour and a half and three times asking directions before we found it. But it was really nice and water-y and all that. As we were leaving, some men were setting up equipment for whatever, and there were cords on the ground. While I asked my friends, "Should we not go around?" they just kept on walking and I think you can guess what happened next. This is my list of different places Sara has fallen down this term: -the stairs outside the Science Museum -the undergound in Paris -Scotland (I can't remember a specific incident but let's just assume it happened) -Greenwich -numerous tube stations coming off the moving walkway -Belgium (see Scotland) -Wales. It's ok though, my camera and my knees broke my fall. Also, people are very, very friendly in Wales. That's what I'm referring to in the title of this post. As well as the fact that the stronger nearby country straight up doesn't really give a shit about them. But they should because it's just a nice place, you know? What's so wrong with nice, anyway? I like nice. On occassion. The rest of the weekend consisted of me not doing the piles of homework I have to do and instead hanging out with out British friends and my new Austrian best friend. Wait, is he going to read this?... probably not. YES WE'RE TOTALLY BEST FRIENDS. At one point on Saturday, when we were hanging out in a park, one of the guys pulls out his mac (no, not a nerdtastic euphemism) and did some coding and took a dailybooth picture. Nerds are the best, yes? Love it. At another point, we were waiting for a train on the tube, and across the tracks was an advertisement for Austrian tourism, and it looked stereotypically gorgeous and mountainous and frankly too good to be true. So we jokingly ask our friend from Vienna, "Hey, that's totally what it looks like where you're from, right? RIGHT? LAWL" Too bad his hometown is a super amazing village whose name I can't pronounce in a valley where it really does look like that. I saw pictures. My life isn't fair. And unless you live there too, your life isn't fair either. I also went to four Spoons in four days. I am actually very proud of this.