31 January 2012

Oh, I Believe in Yesterday...

Although it was just yesterday that I was in Liverpool, I am already about dying to go back.  I was only there for 4 days (supposed to be three, whoops!), but I have never had a more amazing weekend in my entire life.  That's right, ever.  I truly, truly believe that I am meant to live in Liverpool.  But I'll keep gushing about the incredible place after I explain my time there!

I've got to start back before we left on Wednesday because I didn't cover that in the earlier post.  Wednesday we went to the Camden Markets with the ISA group.  Well, we were supposed to meet the group but we were 20 minutes late and never found them! We were considering skipping and going another time because my wonderful mama got Heather and I a Groupon spa/massage trip to a place near us, but we decided to do that another day and see Camden.  The place was AMAZING! It is full of different shops and places selling dresses, jackets, touristy things, etc.etc. for super cheap prices - and you can bargain too! I got an iPhone case that was originally ten pounds for five pounds, a scarf for eight pounds and a mug for one pound! We had to leave after that or else I would definitely have spent/bought more.  We are planning on going back very soon though since there are so many good deals.  It definitely beats going to typical H&M or Forever 21!

Thursday, Heather and I had classes from 9-5 ... it was almost unbearable with the thoughts of our weekend coming up! But we got through it and after class we ran home to get ready to see Jersey Boys that night! Our tickets were only 22 pounds and we were in the front row! I was beyond excited, but when we got there, we were about 2 feet away from the stage that began at our foreheads.  I was looking directly up when they were on the stage, and when they moved upstage I couldn't see them at all! I was a little upset because I missed my favorite part, but I always love being close, and for such a cheap price I really couldn't complain.  At intermission though, we ended up moving to the empty seats in the row behind us which made all the difference! We could see everything now and the show was just great! It was my fourth time seeing it, but I'm pretty sure it will never get old.  Needless to say, I'll be going back again ... very soon!

After the show, we got home at about 11.  We hadn't packed for Liverpool at all! We got all of our tickets together, packed up some clothes, showered, and finally got in bed at around 2AM - only to wake up at 7AM to get ready and meet our bus at 8AM.  Surprisingly it wasn't very hard to wake up, but it was probably because we were very excited to get there!  The bus ride was five and a half hours, but I slept about half the way and listened to my iPod the rest.  It was not a bad trip at all. When we got to Liverpool, we thought we'd be able to walk to our hostel, but with the rain an the crazy wind and our lack of knowledge for the place, we walked around for about 20 minutes then decided to get a taxi.  The taxi ride was only 4 pounds so it wasn't expensive and made things a lot easier!  We made it to our hostel, Hatters Hostel, where we checked in and got our key.  The people working at the reception desk were so nice and welcoming, which made me very excited for the stay.  The hostel was great too!  The walls were covered with murals and Beatles paintings and photographs - it was pretty amazing.  Our hostel was a 6 person room, but we were the first to arrive in the room.  We chose the bunk in the corner so we'd have our own little section.  After we made up our beds and dropped our stuff off, we headed right out to explore the city .. little did we know we wouldn't be back until um, 3AM?

So we began down into the shopping center of Liverpool, which is a huge area full of stores and restaurants that everyone walks around in.  It was so cute and nice!  It was raining and windy, so things were a little more difficult.  We stopped into a pizza place to grab some lunch/dinner, and it was honestly some of the best pizza I've eaten - and coming from me, you know that's a big deal! After that we headed out to find Matthew Street - the place where The Beatles basically had their beginning.  Right when we stepped on the street it started to DOWNPOUR, so we ran into a Beatles shop on the street and browsed around for a bit.  There was so many things - key chains, posters, books, photographs, socks, slippers, mugs, etc etc etc! We didn't buy anything because we knew we'd be back, so when the rain let up a little bit we headed back out. We took a couple of pictures but it was so muggy and wet out, we figured we take most pictures when we came back on Saturday.  We went into a little bar called the Lennon Bar, which was completely dedicated/shrined out for John Lennon.  You walk down some stairs where the walls are covered with pictures of John and then into the bar which had the look and feel of a hole-in-the-wall bar.  I loved it.  We sat down and enjoyed the place .. there was karaoke going on so we were able to listen and laugh at that for a little bit.  We decided to hop around a bit so after that we went to The Grapes, which is a bar that The Beatles used to grab a drink from after their shows back in the 60s!  We went in and took a seat and were greeted and chatted up by so many people! We met an older man and his wife who could not believe how young we were and still loving The Beatles!  He was so so nice and they told us about a show at the Cavern Club the next day that we needed to check out.  After they left us, a couple other older people danced around us and talked to us about Liverpool.  I have never been in a place where everyone was so amazingly friendly - I already had fallen in love with the place.  We were there for a little while, then decided to go back to the Lennon Bar.  We walked in to an older man - about 85? - singing some karaoke.  He was not only a great singer but SO adorable!  We danced and cheered him on as he sang a couple of songs, and afterwards he came over to say hi to us and gave us a postcard thing of his daughter who is a singer!  After he left, we listened to a couple more people sing while Heather tried to convince me to get up there .. I really did not want to but I figured who cares, I'm in Liverpool! So we got up there and sang 'Hard Days Night' which I realized about 10 seconds after we started how absolutely horrible we sounded.  It was very embarrassing but we had fun with it and everyone seemed to as well!  Once we got off stage we danced to some other people singing and Heather ended up getting up again and karaokeing with a guy to another Beatles song.  They sounded much better than we did, but I think it was because of the guy and not Heather, hehehee .. We headed out of the Lennon Bar again and decided to check out the famous Cavern Club.  To get in, you have to walk down a couple of flights of stairs which makes everything much more exciting .. we walked in and right away I was already too happy to explain.  There were so many people around having fun and dancing, and there was a band, The Rockits, on the stage singing mostly Beatles songs but a few others as well.  We went out to the front by the stage and started dancing with these two older woman .. immediately they grabbed our hands and we were all having a blast.  Some younger girls from South America (I think?) came around too and we were all dancing and eventually more people joined in and everyone was going crazy.  Heather and I took a break after a while and headed over to the side for seats where we sat down across from a cute couple who we began to talk to.  Their names were Ian and May and they were so friendly! We danced around with them for a little bit and they invited us to the club next door with them.  The place was called Flare, it was SO crowded!  The dance floor was full of lights that changed colors, it was so cool.  We weren't there for very long because of how crowded and crazy it was, so we left there and, you guessed it, headed back to Lennon Bar AGAIN!   Of course there was more dancing with them and everyone there and in time Heather and I decided to call it a night and head back to the hostel.  We said bye to Ian and May, exchanged numbers and said that we'd try to see them again.  We walked home which is such a close walk, and made it back pretty late.  The four extra beds in our hostel were now filled and we tried not to wake them up although I'm sure we were loud.  Heather took a quick shower, but I was so exhausted I fell asleep before she got out!

Saturday we woke up around 11AM.  I jumped in the shower and got ready for the day when the girls who were in our room showed up.  Little did we know, it was the SAME EXACT South American girls that we were dancing with the other night! One of the biggest and weirdest coincidences of my life.  We about freaked out.  We talked with them for a little bit but wanted to get out and explore so we left by noon.  We headed straight to Matthew Street where we took pictures of just about everything.  We saw the original entrance to the Cavern Club, a ton of statues dedicated to the Beatles, a wall full of bricks with musicians who have performed at the Cavern, and soooo much more!  We visited the Hard Days Night Hotel, which is a hotel completely dedicated and themed by The Beatles.  We took some pictures and went into the souvenir shop where I bought a poster.  After we left there we wanted to grab lunch so we stopped in a cute cafe on Matthew Street called Cafe 31.  The people there were so nice and the food was delicioussss! Heather got some tea too which was some of the best tea I have had since I've been here.  We wanted to check out the show at the Cavern Club that the couple told us about the night before so around 3 we headed there.  The band playing was called The Shakers, and they shared the set with an acoustic player named Jay Murray.  The Shakers were so much fun!  They were all dressed in matching vests and ties and played a bunch of Beatles songs - they were SO good!  Jay got on the stage after them and played a bunch of covers as well.  He asked everyone who wasn't from Liverpool and called us out - when I told him we were from America he replied that he thought we looked American. Great..... haha, anyways, throughout his set he kept calling us out and talking to us, it was so much fun! He sounded so good too and everyone sang along to him.  While he was up there, an old man showed up, clearly hammered, and started to dance around and do weird things.  He pulled out a rubber chicken and started squeaking it and stuck it in his drink .. THEN he pulled out a blonde curly long haired wig and put it on .. I realy don't know.  Jay was laughing at him, telling us it was his father, and saying that was our welcome to Liverpool.  It was strange, but I was laughing so hard and loving it!  When Jay finished playing, the Shakers got back on stage and sang a bit and talked to us as well.  So it was then 6:30 and we decided to head back to the hostel to get ready a little bit before heading right back to the Cavern Club at 8 for a Beatles Tribute show we had tickets to.  We had front row seats for it and they acted just like the Beatles and everyone danced and sang along with them. Everyone kept yelling RINGOO to sing, which they gave him one song! It was so funny though and I loved every minute of the show.  At the intermission of their show I told 'Paul' that it was Heather's birthday and if they could sing Birthday to her.  He said it wasn't on their set list but he could dedicate a song to her.  So towards the end of the show, he called her out for her birthday with a comment that Heather was not his favorite name (since he divorced Heather) .. he dedicated a song to her, and what better song then 'Get Back'! It was so funny but we got up and danced and sang and when the show was over we went out into the main area of the club where the musicians on the stage were the Cave Dwellers.  It was the guys from the Shakers with people who were able to come up and play and sing with them.  A man and girl came up and sang and played with them and the guy played the guitar behind his back, behind another guy, AND with his tongue! It was one of the craziest things I've seen and everyone went crazy over him.  While we were dancing around, the photographer for the Cavern walked past us and recognized us .. he asked Heather if she was here the night before - it was soo funny ! When this show ended, we went back to get a picture with the Shakers and talk to them a  little bit.  We talked to the main singer Eddie and the drummer Tony.  They welcomed us to Liverpool and told us to come see them play there on Sunday night and we told them we wouldn't be able to because we had a bus back to London at 5 on Sunday, but that we'd be back very soon to see them again!  After this we decided to go and walked into the Lennon bar for a little bit before deciding to call it a night.  Walking out of Lennon Bar, there was a fast food pizza place above it that we went into for some food.  While ordering, the people next to me realized we were American and asked where we were from.  Turns out, they were from OWENSBORO KY!  It was so crazy and we all about freaked out!  The girl we met, Dori, had moved to Liverpool for graduate school and now worked at the Beatles Story.  She was so nice and we told her we'd try and see her when we went the The Beatles Story! On our walk home we talked about how obsessed we were with this place and that we never wanted to leave.  The idea of possibly staying another night came up and on instant we both said YES.  When we got back to the hostel we asked them how much it would be to stay another night - only 12 pounds each! And we looked at bus tickets and found some for Monday night for only 9 pounds!  Of course we had to do this, so we booked each and went to bed very happy.

Sunday morning we woke up at about 10AM for the Magical Mystery Bus Tour we had tickets too.  We went to the houses that the Beatles all grew up in, Strawberry Field, Penny Lane, and saw the school that they went to, where they all first met, etc. etc! We got so many pictures, signed the gates at Strawberry Field and had such a fun time.  After that ended, we wanted to eat at a cafe on Matthew Street named Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, but it was closed.  So instead, we grabbed a cheap meal at Subway before going back to the hostel for a little bit.  At the hostel, we met and talked to some guys we had met on Friday before heading up to our room.  Everyone at the hostel was so nice and fun! We are definitely staying there again when we go back.  Up in our hostel, the South American girls had left but we met the guys that were staying there. One guy was from Malaysia (I think?), and the other was from Sweden (or Norway.. or Finland...).  We talked to them for a little while before we headed out for the night.  We started our at Lennon Bar where there was a guy dressed up impersonating Elvis.  He sang 'Ticket to Ride' alternating between an Elvis impression and John Lennon impression - it was absolutely hilarious.  After watching him for a while we headed to the Cavern Club to see the Shakers play!  We got a seat and ended up sitting near the Cavern photographer again ... who asked us if we ever leave - and of course, our answer was no! While the Shakers were playing, Eddie noticed us there and got pretty confused since we were supposed to leave, but we told him we just weren't able to do it!  We also sat next to an amazingly sweet Australian girl, Sarah.  She was a huge Beatles fan as well and we all chatted for a little bit.  I told her and the photographer that it was Heathers birthday and the photographer took Heather and pulled her up on the Cavern stage where the Shakers sang to her! It was so much fun and I got it on video - she went crazy and couldn't believe she got up on the stage at the Cavern Club! After she came down, we danced around and sang to the Shakers music some more until their show was finished.  We headed back to say hello again and for more pictures and ended up in the dressing room talking for a while!  We got a lot of pictures with them and told them to remember us when we came back! Of course they said they would and we talked to them about getting shirts and found out that one of the guitar players actually plays with the Pete Best Band.  Heather died, of course.  After some more chatting, we said goodbye and that we'd see them soon and went back out to the club where an acoustic player was up next.  He played a bunch of Beatles songs (of course) and we danced with Sarah and everyone else around!  There was a group of older couples on the other side of the club that kept waving to us and dancing with us and we ended up moving over there for a little bit to talk with them and dance with them!  They gave us their email and number and told us to come back and see them, which we said we definitely would! After more dancing (of courseee) the show ended and the club closed around 12 .. we walked across the street to the Cavern Pub.  There was more music and more Beatles covers and more dancing (Can you tell our weekend consisted of a lot of dancing?) and the pub ended up closing around 1 .. we went over to the Grapes for a little bit where we chatted around with some other folks before heading back to the hostel and falling asleep the moment we walked in.

Monday morning we woke up about 1030 and headed out for some breakfast and to see The Beatles Story! We went to the Starbucks that was attached to the museum and got some tea and snacks.  We went over the The Beatles Story where we ended up finding Dori and she got us tickets for free! She was so sweet - I got her email and Facebook and told her I'd be contacting her about what she did in grad school there etc. etc.  The Beatles Story was a museum that took you from the time The Beatles met to the time they broke up.  There were pictures of them, their actual guitars, glasses, clothing, etc, replicas of the Cavern Club and Abbey Road Studios, and so much more.  At the end there was a room full of quotes by others and by the Beatles themselves, with a section for each Beatle to remember them.  It was one of the coolest places I've ever been to!  We weren't able to go to the 4D show thing, but it's definitely on our list when we go back.  After that, we went back to Cafe 31 to eat again.  Food was still delicious and the tea was addicting.  We had to head back to the hostel to grab our luggage and get a taxi to the bus station.  As much as I wanted to stay, there was no way we could skip out on another bus!  The bus ride home felt longer than the one there but I think it is because I didn't sleep as much.  But we made it home at around 11 and I had to skype my parents/Holly to tell them about the weekend.

It was an amazing four days and I have never felt so happy in a city in my entire life.  I really couldn't tell you what it was about Liverpool - the overly friendly people, the live music everywhere, or the livliness of the city - but it's probably a mix of everything that just makes that place so wonderful.  I felt at home there and it was only a weekend.  I have not only been converted into a soon Beatles obsessed fan (THANKS heather!), but I think I've also gained an addiction to Liverpool.  In just four days I have fallen so so so in love with that place.  Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love London, but Liverpool is something else.  I can't even explain it I just love it so much.  I will be back there as soon as I can, and hopefully in the future I will be there to stay for good!

The Rockits!

The Shakers!

The Beatles Tribute Band!

I love them!

24 January 2012

I've Been Careless With You

I feel like I don't update this enough, but I haven't done a horrible job at keeping up! There is just so much that goes on in the week that I feel like I have a million things I need to write about ... not sure I'll get everything down, but doing my best!

So I left off on Tuesday.  The Sports Bar was fun and I met lots of friends to go out with more! Wednesday I had my Consumer Behavior seminar class at 11:30 which was filled with lots of nice people, and my teacher wasn't so bad either!  We did some group work so we were all able to talk to each other, and it was over before I know it!  That was my only class for the day, so after wasn't filled with much; walking around a bit then ended up back at the flat.  Thursday I had Art and Society with my roommates and some friends.  We went to the Tate Britain museum where our instructor talked to us about some different pieces.  The museum was great; of course there was some boring things, but there were a lot of cool and weird things to see so I had fun! My teacher for this class seems like he's going to be great too! He's an older guy, but dresses very hipster/artsy/I'm not sure how to describe it, and he's just always happy and so so nice! So obviously after that day I'm very excited for the rest of it.  After, Heather and I had our London Theatre in Performance class.  We went over the syllabus and talked about theatre a lot, and you all know I have NO problem with that!  I found out that this semester for the class we are going to be seeing a different show each week! TEN SHOWS! I think I could have died of excitement.

After our classes we met up with some friends to go out for the night.  We went out to a place in Leicester Square; most of the nightlife takes place in Leicester Square, so we were able to see everything else around too.  It was very fun!  Friday, Heather and I went out around town for a little bit and at night we just stayed in since we had to wake up so early Saturday for our ISA excursion.  We had to meet at the Waterloo tube station at SEVEN THIRTY AM.  That means we had to wake up at like, 6:30AM.  Ridiculous.  But we got right onto a coach bus for about 2 hours so we slept most of the way.  Heather and I got the emergency exit seats so we could put our feet up and lounge back.  Definitely the best seats in the bus!

Our first stop was Stratford Upon Avon, which is a cute little town and the place where William Shakespeare was born/grew up.  We saw the house he grew up in, the first published book of his work, his grave, and then were able to walk around the streets a bit.  We took some pictures then had a quality American meal of SUBWAY :) .. which was absolutely delicious.  I have missed my Subway since I've been here!  After Stratford Upon Avon, we got back on the bus and headed out to Warwick Castle.  This castle was HUGE.  It was absolutely gorgeous; nothing like I'd ever seen before.  The castle was filled with different 'attractions' that we could walk through.  There was an area that was filled with wax figures to impersonate the way things were back then, a dungeon walk which seemed like a haunted house, but it cost 7.50 pounds, which we could not afford, and also a way to walk up around the top of the castle and get a great view of the town!  It was 580 steps around a tiny spiral medieval like staircase, so it wasn't easy.  But we had fun with it!  There was also a peacock garden which was FILLED with peacocks!  They kind of freaked me out, but it was very cool to see.  After walking around for a couple of hours, we met back with the ISA group and all piled into the bus to head home .... of course we fell asleep on this ride too.

When we got home, we had planned to meet up with some friends in the dorms and go out to some Rihanna themed bar night, but we were too tired to tube it all the way out so we walked around our side of the city for a little while.  We went into some nearby pubs to check them out before they closed and just hung out! It was a very relaxing, but fun night!

On Sunday we woke up semi-but not really- early to go out around London, but we only hit Primark before things closed (EVERYTHING here closes like, 2 hours earlier than America .. it's crazy).  I got a cute sweater and a pair of oxfords I had been wanting from there.  We wanted to visit the little boutiques/shops around our University that has clothes for 5-10 pounds, but they either closed super early or weren't open at all on Sundays, so we decided to go back Monday.  I had class on Monday from 1-4, and Heather went Beatle stalking while I was gone, but we met up after I got out and looked in the boutiques.  They had some real cute things and some not so cute things, but I got a chunky sweater that is very cute and was very cheap!

Today I had class from 11:30-1, and I was late thanks to the Tube breaking down while I was on it! I had to jump lines and make my way up to campus, but was still 15 minutes late.  The teacher didn't really see, nor did she care though, so I was okay with it.  After class, Heather and I met up with our friend Meghan.  We had to see a play for our Theatre class, so we got some student tickets then went to a little restaurant for a burger before.  The play was The Woman in Black, which just came out in theaters.  The play was SO good, but really scary!  I was very surprised, and impressed at how scary they were able to make it.  I jumped many times and the theatre was filled with screams, which was funny but more annoying.  All in all, I really enjoyed it and I would love to see it again, as well as see the film version!

Yesterday Heather and I also spent about a million dollars (not really Dad! O:) ) booking different things.  We first booked a tour of Abbey Road Studios, where we will be let inside and given different stories/info about the studio and artists.  Heather about cried when I found the tour! We also booked our trip to Liverpool this weekend! We are going on Friday-Sunday, and are seeing a Beatles tribute show at a pub the real Beatles used to play with on Saturday, and getting a bus tour of the city/Beatles stuff on Sunday! The closer we get to it the more excited I get !! I think Heather is converting me into a bigger Beatles lover.  I also found some 20 pound tickets for the FRONT ROW of Jersey Boys, so of course I had to jump on that! We are seeing it on Thursday night! It's a good trade off to do Beatles things with Heather and then do theatre things with me ... but I don't mind doing either cause I have so much fun with both!  Needless to say, I'm SO SO SO excited to see Jersey Boys again! It's one of my favorite shows! and then right after that we head to Liverpool! This weekend is about to be amazing!

That about sums up the time from my last blog, but here are some extra pictures I've taken since the last time I've posted!

The London Tower!

Shakespeare's House

The first published book of Shakespeare's writings



18 January 2012

Lazy Post About Lazy Days

So I'm ending my second week here, and it STILL has not hit me that I'm literally across the country.  I'm starting to think that it never will.  I should have updated this earlier because I really am not sure I can remember everything that's happened in the past week....

Wednesday was our first day that we didn't have something planned with ISA.  Of course, I completely slept through the early alarm I set to go out in the city and we didn't wake up until 1PM.  We'll just blame that on the jet lag... even though it happened on Thursday and Friday too.  Anyways, we got up, ate some breakfast, and went out to Oxford Street to once again deal with my phone issues.  I finally got my cheap little go phone. The buttons are loud and the texting is a little harder than on an iPhone, but it works, so I'm happy! I'm pretty sure that was just about all we did on Wednesday; it was probably our least eventful day.

When we woke up (too late) on Thursday, we went back out to Oxford Street to a store called Primark.  This is kind of a mix between Forever 21 and Target, but everything is dirt cheap.  You won't find a pair of shoes more than 15 pounds, tights more than 3 pounds, scarves more than 5, etc. etc.  It is absolutely AMAZING and I'm dying to go back!  I just got a sweater when I was there, but I have already started a list of things I want to get the next time we are there.  Once we finished up there we had to rush home to get ready for the study abroad orientation party which was on a boat! It was pretty fun and we met a bunch of people.  After the boat docked, we headed over to our friend Nicole's dorm where she had some people over, and we all headed out to a nearby bar.  The bar was packed, but it was so fun to hang out with everyone and meet others!

Now that I'm remembering, I take back what I said.  Friday was our most uneventful day.  We went grocery shopping and then watched Harry Potter on a laptop since the DVDs won't work in our TV.  That about sums up the entire day for us! I've never seen Harry Potter before, which is both embarrassing and sad, so I didn't mind the day.  I'm planning on having all 8 (?) seen by the time I leave... and to meet Harry Potter of course.

Saturday was not much different than the other days.  We went out around the city a bit and explored a shopped a bit.  We were planning on going out that night but decided to save our money, especially since we had to wake up the next morning for the tour of the Tower of London.  We met everyone at the tube station on Sunday then walked over to the Tower to begin our tour.  Lucky for us it was GORGEOUS outside, but freezing! The pictures all turned out amazing, I just wish the tour was indoors! But we walked around and learned about the murders, beheadings, superstitions, etc. etc. etc.  After that we were able to walk around on our own, but it closed soon after our tour ended.  After we left, my flatmates and I headed out to a nearby restaurant for dinner.  We chose an American-like place, which actually reminded me of Buffalo Wild Wings!  It was basically a sports bar and grill just like it, but a lot smaller.  The food was delicious though!

Monday was the first day of classes.  I woke up a little earlier so I could go and change my schedule around one more time.  My official schedule is Web Authoring and Design on Monday, Consumer Behavior on Tuesday (lecture) and Wednesday (seminar), and Art and Society and London Theatre in Performance on Thursday! My web authoring class was very cool.  We learned the basics of a program that you make websites off of and it was very cool! I'm excited to get creative with that stuff.  The lecture was right after it and it was very very boring.  Tuesday was the biggest class I've ever been in.  There were well over 100 kids, but coming from Xavier that's VERY new to me.  The class was incredibly boring and I made note to bring my laptop for distractions next week.  Today was my seminar for Consumer Behavior and it was pretty cool! My teacher is very nice and the things we cover  are pretty similar to my classes I took at Xavier.  I'm really excited for the classes tomorrow because they are specific London Studies classes that were basically made for study abroad students! Heather and I have the entire day of classes together so that's even better!

So that's the best sum up of the past week.. I think I covered everything? We went to a bar in Leicester Square last night called The Sports Bar .. creative, huh?  It was student night so there was no cover charge if you had your student ID.  We met up with some friends in the dorms before going out and spent the night meeting other people there and dancing.  It was fun and I feel like I've met more people that I'll be going out with later this week too!  We are also booking our trip to Ireland in March tonight which is super exciting too! There are 8 of us going and HOLLY WILL BE HERE!! I've already started that countdown even though it's still 50 days away.  That is going to fly by and before we know it I'll be picking her up at the airport!! I really can't contain my excitement for that week I might die. I really might. But I think that's about it for this week! Still loving London and love reminding myself I still have 5 more months here! :)

11 January 2012

It Only Takes Four Days to Fall in Love

So it's only day 4, and I feel like I've been here for so much longer! My days have been pretty packed though, so it makes sense. Tomorrow is the first morning we don't actually have to wake up early for some orientation or meeting or even have something scheduled. Our first fully free day!

Monday we had to be up at EIGHT in the morning for our Westminster study abroad orientation at the university. By the way, they call high school 'college' here and university is called 'uni.'  That's something I'll have to get used to saying.. but there are a million other words I'll have that problem with too.  Anyways, so we woke up and took the tube up to the school where we had to sit for about two hours, listening to a super boring powerpoint that was filled with just about everything they already told us. But we got our Westminster student ID cards which was good.  After the orientation finished up around 12:30ish, we headed back to our apartment to drop the folder off, then headed right back out! We went back up close to the school, to Oxford Circus, which is an area FULL of stores. Basically every store you can think of; Guess, Armani, TMobile, H&M, Forever 21, etc. etc. etc.  We went into TopShop on Sunday which I forgot to mention in the last post, which is so so SO cute. And pretty inexpensive too! I am trying to be easy on the wallet since it hasn't even been a week, but of course I couldn't go in there and buy nothing.  All I got though were two pairs of knee socks I can wear under my boots.  I have developed a new obsession with that look.  But back to Monday, we went to a couple cell phone/electronic stores because I had to figure things out with my sim card/phone .. which we have come to realize just won't work and I'll be purchasing a 10 pound go-phone, which is completely fine with me.  After we gave up on the sim cards and were about to continue on from Oxford, we decide to just walk into H&M ... bad idea.  I end up getting a couple of cute things which I absolutely love, but did not want to spend the money.  Oh well, live and learn? Not.

After we finally pulled ourselves out of H&M, we got back on the tube to visit Buckingham Palace! We got off at Green Park, which is a beautiful area to walk through to Buckingham Palace. It was so nice - almost hard to believe we are in the middle of a city with how gorgeous it is!  Buckingham Palace is SO pretty too! And so big. SEVEN HUNDRED ROOMS in that place ... and the Queen only goes in 12 of them. What? The guards weren't there, but we later learned that they are only there when the Queen is in the place but she was in Oxford I think? We took a bunch of pictures and then decided to skip the tube and just walk home.  The walk was so nice and pretty.

Today we had registration meetings to set our classes up, and luckily Heather and my meetings were only 30 minutes apart, so we woke up and headed out to the Education Abroad Office at 10. Her appointment was at 10:20, and this office is not an easy one to find.. Needless to say, we got there at 10:30.  Apparently everyone was getting lost, so it wasn't a problem.  I got my classes and schedule all figured out and I'm pretty happy with the way it worked out! I have two classes Monday, two Tuesday, one Wednesday, and one Thursday.  I'm also taking a theatre class where we get to visit different theatres and see shows. Couldn't have found a better class for myself!

The meetings were quick, so we had the rest of the day to plan.  We stopped in an electronic store so I could get the details on the cheap phone deals, then stopped back at our flat real quick so I could talk to my parents about the phone.  After, we decided to go to Abbey Road.  Heather is sickly obsessed with The Beatles, which is fine by me because I love them too!  But she has about 100 different places we need to visit that The Beatles have either been to, recorded at, lived, etc. etc.  We got on the tube and rode it for about 30 minutes way, WAY out to a stop where we got off and were planning to walk to Abbey Road.  When we arrived, we had NO idea where we were and had to ask someone.  They felt so bad for having to tell us that we went to the WRONG Abbey Road, and the actual Beatles Abbey Road was only about a 10 minutes ride away from our flat.  Apparently that happens all the time, but we were so mad cause we KNEW it was the other stop because we had planned it earlier!  Stupid Americans.  We turned around and got right back on the tube to the correct stop and finally made it to the real Abbey Road.  Heather was almost too excited to breathe.  It was so cool to be there though. Couldn't believe that I was actually in the place that so much took place.  After walking across the street about 45 times taking pictures, we signed the wall in front of Abbey Road Studios and took some more pictures.  There is a website (abbeyroad.com/crossing) that has a camera on the crosswalk 24/7.  Heather's mom (also Beatles obsessed) was watching the camera as we were there and actually got pictures of us on the camera! It was so so cool.  We took about 353 more pictures and then headed back to the tube to meet our group for Tea Time at Harrods.  For those of you who don't know, Harrods is a famous store that literally sells EVERYTHING.  It is 5 stories and has things from clothes to cars to toys to pets.  The clothes are ALL designer and I don't think I saw something cheaper than 100 pounds.  There were dresses that were marked 75% off at 850 pounds.  It was SO crazy.  They sell little tiny 'purse puppies' too, ranging from 1500-2500 pounds.  The pups were SO SO CUTE though! They were little yorkies and daschunds and I just wanted to die.  Anyways, Tea Time was so fun!  It was served in a restaurant, and we were given unlimited tea and a tray full of little sandwiches, scones, and desserts.  It was all so good and the tea was great too! I've definitely been reaching out of my comfort zone when it comes to food, but it hasn't been a bad experience.  At Tea Time I ate a little lobster sandwich (at least I think that's what it was? I didn't ask questions so that I wouldn't be turned away from just eating it).  After we finished up at the restaurant, we explored around Harrods for a couple hours ( and still didn't hit all of the stores ) and then headed home after dark.  We were sooo tired from walking and moving all day, but I feel like we've done so much in the few days we've been out exploring which is great.  I love being out and about here. It's so much fun!

I've only been here for four days, and I've already fallen more in love with this place than I though I would.  The buildings here are not high at all, are all very very old architecture and brick, and it feels like you are living in a little town when you stroll through the parks or even the roads around my flat.  It makes the city feel so much smaller and almost personal than something with skyscrapers and nothing but traffic and movement.  It's so calm and quiet here but can also be so upbeat and busy.  It's amazing.  I just love it here so much already.

08 January 2012

Posting From The Other Side Of The World

Touched down and all settled in! It was a long night/day, but I'm here!

The flight... that god awful nine hour flight.  It wasn't bad when I got there, but a couple hours in I was dead.  But of course I can't fall asleep on a plane so it was just great.  I managed to watch four movies and two episodes of a show... while sitting next to a Mexican who kept offering me mentos.  Cool.  Anyways, I made it through!  The sun was just coming up as we hit England, and boy was it pretty!  The sky was so pink with the clouds underneath; it was beautiful.  As we flew in, we flew right over Parliament and the London Eye.  AMAZING!  I tried to spot out our flat from the sky but of course that was impossible.

When we landed, I went through customs/immigration, which was the easiest thing I've ever done, and then met my ISA people! I was the last one there so we got to the bus right then, thankfully! One of my flatmates, Devyn, had to wait about 2 hours at the airport for everyone to get there; talk about brutal.  The bus ride wasn't too long, but it was nice to look around, even though it was 8:30 in the morning (3:30 American time!), and I hadn't been asleep yet.  Everything here just looks London-y.  The buildings are all brick, very narrow streets, double deckers everywhere. I love it! After a little drive, our flat was the first to be dropped off.  As the cute little bus driver unloaded our suitcases, he whispered to us "This one's the best. You've got the best location." Which made me even more excited.  We walked in for a little tour of our flat, which consists of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a living room and a kitchen, with a cute little balcony in the back.  It was much bigger than I thought and it is SO so nice! After the tour, the ISA leader took us out on the streets for a little tour around the block.  What we didn't realize was that around the block was Parliament, Big Ben, the river, etc etc etc.  We are literally in the center of London. It really is the greatest location and I could not have asked for a better place!

After the tour, we unpacked and waited for the other 2 to come to the place.  We unpacked our stuff and ended up taking a little cat nap.  It was way too hard to stay awake! But they eventually made it and the four of us went out exploring a bit.  We went out for some some dinner, got some groceries for the next couple of days, and walked around the city a bit.  It was nice, but we were all so tired so we headed home pretty early for bed.

Today was orientation at the ISA office, where we were told basically the same things from Saturday, and then given a tour of London in our very own double decker.  What we found out was that it was the same bus that Kate Middleton rode, and my flatmate Heather and I were actually in the seat she sat in! It was very funny but pretty cool too.  We drove around London for two hours where our tour guide told us about all the different buildings, adding in what felt like as many Harry Potter references as she could.  It was so nice to see the city and remember some places/things that we want to do later on.  I'm about 100% positive that we won't get to everything, but you can bet we're going to try!

These first two days have been great.  The plugs, adapters, converters, or whatever they are called, are going to be something to figure out and get used to, but can I really complain when I'm living in the heart of London?

06 January 2012

I'm going to London tomorrow.

I'm going to London ... TOMORROW!


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