Monday, September 29, 2008

the Kiwi, the class, and the bad shopper

Today was my very first class at LMU! It went well and to top it off, the seminar instructor is from New Zealand! My life is so complete! (And Meagan, I called it before she told me! Score for me!) I was worried about buying books for this class but it looks like I'll only really need two. I will price them and figure out if its worth it to buy them or just use the ones in the library. I found my classroom with the assistance of my beautiful and fellow-minded literary friend, Rachel and I hope I can do as well without her tomorrow!
But to rewind a bit, I had a great weekend. Sunday was beautiful and still warm by all standards. The walk to St. Giles Mission in my boots went well also. St. Giles is a little church of about 30 people that is only about 30 minutes walk from my dorm. Everyone was very nice and introduced themselves to me. An older woman named Frances let me sit with her and her old biddies. They made me laugh! Worship was similar to what I'm used to at home and they only sang one or two songs that I wasn't familiar with. After the service, they have cell groups (to assure attendance, I was told) and coffee and tea. The minister and his wife is on holiday right now, so the son-in-law (an American), who works with Youth With A Mission spoke. He was also very kind and gave me a ride to the Boots and M&S on Holloway Road for blister band aids!
I'm discovering that I can't shop properly. I've been the the Tesco here in King's Cross four times since I arrived last week! Inevitably, I forget something every time I go, making a return trip necessary. Of course with every return trip, I gain a whole basket full of stuff NOT on the list. My fridge is now packed but I daren't eat anything, just in case I run out of something and need to run out again! The never ending circle of buying and consuming is alive and well!
As I was walking down the 60 odd steps to the tube platform at the Holloway Road station after class tonight, I was truly glad to not have to drive home. I'm still getting the hang of the whole tube thing, but I think it is definitely worth it, even if a monthly pass is 60 some pounds. I need to talk to the transport system in PA. Maybe we can get a tube too?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

the giant staircase

Today was a beautiful day, even by London standards. It was sunny and warm which is unusual for his time of year. It is usually really cloudy and damp but I guess all the Americans brought the sun to the island! Today was our first official GSE outing. We went to St. Paul's Cathedral for a 1 1/2 hour tour. It was such an amazing day! Just thinking about how many people walked through the cathedral and how many people are remembered there is just staggering. It took over 35 years to build. Many of the people involved in the process got a little impatient and cut the designer's, Christopher Wren, pay in half until they saw progress. Wren has a tomb and a small memorial stone in the crypt of the cathedral. He doesn't have a monument or anything ornate like others in the church do. His memorial stone says that if you are looking for a monument, look around.
These next two pictures are taken from the very top of the cathedral. It took 409 steps to the top! Normally, that would be a bit of a hike, but with a blister on your foot, it was my Mount Everest! I made it though! And I think the view was quite worth it.

In the next picture, you can see a white circular building. That my friends, is Shakespeare's globe. Not the original, of course. It was burnt in a fire less than 14 years after it was built. The current Globe will soon be standing longer than original. The new Globe was built in the same manner as the old one. It was build without power tools and has the first thatched roof in London since the Great Fire. More will come about this fine historical building. I am going to see A Midsummer's Night Dream there next Wednesday!
The next two pictures are of the outside of the cathedral. Jess took the lovely picture of me in front of the big door. It makes me look NOT like me!

The blister is feeling better and I hope will be non-existence by tomorrow when I wear my boots to church! Did I mention I'm walking for a half hour to get there? Yikes!
P.S. I forgot to say I saw the John Donne memorial. I cried when our guide read this:

"No man is an island, entire of itself...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee
I know. I'm such a lit geek :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

the never ending bus/boat tour

Welcome to my home! Most people know it as Buckingham Palace- I simply call it home! These are pictures from the bus tour of the city we took Thursday. We started off at LMU after another batch of very important meetings (read: nap time). We had the worst tour guide who actually took a nap on the way to Greenwich, where we caught out boat to Big Ben and Parliament. In between the boat and Ben, we got off at at the Palace and meandered around a bit. This next picture is of me and Jessica, my roommate. We are on the boat tour along the River Thames. She took very good care of me on the boat because, apparently, I don't do so well on rocking boats. Thanks Jessica!
This nex picture is of Big Ben. I found out that Big Ben is not the name of the tower, but actually the name of the bell in the tower. I was told it has a unique sound (it just sounded like a big bell to me) because the bell got a crack in it when it was being shipped. You learn something new every day!
These last two pictures are from St. James's Park near Big Ben. We only walked around for a little bit, but as you can see, it was a beautiful walk. You also get great reception when you call Reading, PA USA. Who knew? :)
After St. James's Park, I met up with my study abroad group and we all went to dinner at a Medditeranian styled restaurant. It was lots of fun and the food was really good. I had filet of lamb (make sure to pronounce the "t" in "filet"!) and a prawn cocktail with avacado. Translation: a salad with shrip and avacado. I was feeling pretty full but I still had some money left on my tab, (We were alloted 15 pounds each to spend on dinner.) so I got dessert. I got tiramisu and boy was it good! After that, we went to a pub called Porter House that had a live band. Shortly after we came in they started to play "Sweet Home Alabama" and it sorta felt like home. Not the pub part, but just being around familiar music.
Today was beautiful. Not only beautiful because of the sun and warm weather that we had in the city (even the locals are finding it unseasonably warm), but because of the fact that I got to sleep in today! Jessica and I went to the British Museum for a few hours. Wow do they have a lot of stuff! There was no way to see all of it in one day, but I'm sure we will go back another day. It's only a few tube stops from the closest tube stop (King's Cross).
After we got back, I went church hunting. I had found this one church online that was in Islington (where I am) and also that had a sound mission statement. It was getting to be dusk and I was going to put off going until tomorrow. Ever encouraging, Jessica said that it wasn't too late and that I should go ahead and try to find it. So armed with my London A-Z street atlas and the address to the church, I was off! It took about 30 minutes to get to St. Giles and I didn't get lost! I was so proud of myself and my map-reading abilities that I had to thank the person who gave them to me. So I called my dad! He was thrilled. After I got home, I realised that I have developed the mother of all blisters on my left foot. Right on the ball of my foot. So excuse me if I hobble a bit. I'll just be in pain for a while, don't mind me!
I leave you with one last picture. It's a tree in St. James's Park. I saw it and instantly fell in love. Not because it was the prettiest thing I've ever seen, but because of it's situation. It's a little tree with green supports at different parts of the branches. Alone, that tree might not be standing. I'm realising that every one needs a little help sometime, or a lot of help most of the time. If it hadn't been for my friends and family, I might not have even tried this study abroad thing. If I didn't have people to call while I was settling in, I don't even know if I could get out of bed. Thank you for being my support. In case you didn't know, I appreciate your thoughts and your prayers and continue to covet them for the rest of my trip.
I'm off to clean up from dinner and dessert ( a salad and a few bits of my Galaxy smooth dark chocolate bar) and figure out a way to make my blistered foot stop hurting!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

camden town adventures

Another day of meetings for LMU. Another day of getting lost in the maze that is LMU! Seriously, that place is a maze! I thought Francis Hall was confusing (at least a little bit) with different levels and odd numbering. This takes the cake! Basically, I think they took a couple buildings on Holloway Road and built bridges that connect them. But I have no idea who came up with where the rooms are and how they are numbered! I'm taking my class schedule along so I can attempt to find at least my first class.
So here are a few pictures to show you my day. This first one is where I get off every time I take the tube to the University. I get on a few blocks from my dorm at King's Cross (no, HP fans, the tube, NOT the train stop. Don't worry--that picture IS coming!) tube stop. I take the "peacock blue" Piccadilly line to Holloway Road. After I get off, it's a few blocks to the University on the road opposite side of the tube exit.

We only had one meeting about general Q&A's and tech support. After that, my roommate, and two other girls from my dorm went exploring. After buying a weekly tube pass (24 something pounds...that's right--over $40!), we got on the Northern Line to Camden Town.
This is the tube exit for Camden Town. A lot of my pictures might have buildings under construction. This is a city wide effort to clean up the local area. For a while, the area around King's Cross (Camden Town is only 20 minutes from there) wasn't the best place to hang out. Don't worry though, Mom! The whole city is cleaning up and lots of new buildings are going up. So that's just to explain construction.

This pub was right down from the exit to Camden Town and I thought it looked neat. A lot of the pubs, not all of course, have a lot of charm. I might put up more pictures of them but with the disclaimer for Sonya that I wasn't in them!
Today brings the sun and one more meeting at LMU. The schedule says it's about making the most out of our stay here in London. After the meeting, we are taking a bus and boat tour of London. I do hope blogger will let me put up more pictures than it did today. If not, I'll be posting a few times a day! Off to finish the coffee and get ready for the day!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

a day in the city

Today you get pictures! That's right--tell yourself how lucky you are!

Today, aside from being picture-for-the-reader day, was also orientation at LMU (London Metropolitan University) and then a meeting with Michael. The LMU meeting basically told us have fun, but remember that you have school too. It was about 50/50 on the fun/school part. Interesting. I have my student ID card as well as my class schedule. I have classes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but my Tuesday class is an art class for study abroad students. Hopefully that won't be terribly academically challenging! In the meeting with Michael, we talked about things we were going to be doing in the future, like our weekend trips, and stuff like that. In between those meetings, a bunch of us walked down Holloway Road to find something to eat. I ended up getting something to eat here, Marks & Spencer.

It looks like a regular clothing store, but in the back there is a little grocery where you can buy food. So we bought lunch there and ate outside on a bench. Here is the site from right out side of M&S.

This pub was also just across the way from M&S)
(Daddy, I don't know why exactly, but this reminded me of you!)
After the meetings, I got to looking at a map. The tube right to the University didn't take very long at all, so my mind figured that Holloway Road couldn't be too far from Pentonville Road where I'm staying. So I got out my little London A-to-Z book and did some research. It looked do-able, and after going down only one wrong street, we found our way back to Nido! In addition to the 45 minute walk back to the dorm, we found a few gems: a bookstore not two blocks from the University (my favorite!), a type of dollar store (except it was a 1 pound store), and a Tesco (a shopping center, probably somewhere between an Aldi's and a Giant, but much smaller than either of those). Also on our way home, we crossed Regent's Canal. So pretty!

Did I mention I did all of that in heels??? I should get a prize! I wasn't planning on doing a ton of walking today, so the boots I wore made sense. Somewhere half-way down Caledonian Road, my feet started to burn. Of course I had promised my roommate that I could in fact walk in them, so I kept quiet until the distance between us grew very noticeable. So much for the walking in the boots theory I brought with me! Maybe, by the end of this week, my feet will be so numb, that I won't notice the pain! There's a thought!
Tomorrow is more orientation at the University. I think I'd like to try to hit Regent's Park or maybe the British Museum after. I'll keep you posted!
Well, I guess I'll get ready for bed. My roomie goes to bed a bit earlier than I's only 8:15 pm here. Hmm... I don't know what I'm going to do about that. Perhaps pack up and head to a study area's on the second floor of the dorm building. But before I sign off, what is a blog from London without a sign for the Underground?

Monday, September 22, 2008

the long plane ride

Well, I did all that I said I would do. I got on a plane, flew across the ocean and did something new. The flight went well. I got maybe 2 hours of sleep so when we landed at 6 in the morning, I was beyond exhausted. Couple that with the fact that my room had no toilet paper, well I was just a mess. My roomie, Jessica, showed up a few hours after I did and when she did we started putting the room straight. I'm sure sharing a room for 20 years has prepared me for this very moment. The closet has to be smaller than the one I shared back home, plus the bathroom has enough room for you to ONLY stand up in. So dad, thanks for the tiny bathroom back home. It finally is a good thing!
We just met with Michael, the on-site coordinator for my program. He gave us goodies (even though we already paid for them, it was still nice to get. It felt like freebies!) for our stay which included a London A to Z guide, a map of the bus route, and the tube stops. We also received our cell phones so let me know if you want it. I can receive calls for free :)
Well, I almost took a nap on my computer. AGAIN. So I'm gonna go get a nap before we all go out for dinner. Pictures to come later...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

the adventure begins

Tomorrow, I change the way I usually do things. Tomorrow, I will try something new. Tomorrow, I will grab my belongings and run. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Now this might sound like an adventurer's New Year's resolutions, but it isn't. This is my life. Tomorrow, I AM changing the way I do things and I WILL try something new. I WILL grab my belongings and run across the airport, if I need to, to catch my flight to Heathrow Airport in England! Starting on 29 September, I will be starting classes at London Metropolitan University in London. Just about every weekend, the study abroad program I am going with has planned an excursion to some popular places throughout Great Britain.
Stay tuned to this site for pictures of the trip and my ramblings :)

ps. 1 Corinthians 13:12 says that we see things imperfectly right now, like we are looking through a glass (or mirror) that is cloudy and dark. but someday, we will be able to see God and there won't be anything separating us. He will let us see Him face to face and things won't be distorted any more.