Wednesday, October 29, 2008

the Fulhm vs. Wigan football match

Tonight was my first British football match! It was so exciting! It was a match between Fulham and Wigan, played at Fulham's home stadium.

It was SO cold! I had two pairs of socks, two pairs of gloves, three shirts and a hat and I was STILL cold! It was really fun though. I can't remember the last time I was at a football (I mean, soccer for you American kids) match. I think it had to be in high school with Mrs. Mac all bundled up with blankets. I could have used them tonight, Mrs. Mac!
When we got off the tube, Michael told us we were sitting in the cheering section and that we had better cheer for the "whites" or else we would be in trouble. The "whites", of course were Fuhlam, and they killed Wigan 2-0. Yay! We had really good seats, as you can tell from some of these pictures. To give you an idea of how close we were, someone missed the net and the ball went into the crowd shown in this picture. Yeah, really close to the pitch...
I did have a wonderful time, though. I suppose I need to watch more football when I get home...and not the American kind!
Please excuse me, I need to go thaw... :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

the "old stone buildings" in Cambridge

I was lucky enough to be able to talk to my uncle last week before my big trip to Cambridge. He had been to Cambridge years ago, and told me that pretty much all I would see would be big, old stone buildings. Basically, he was right :)
Cambridge was wonderful. We saw King's College and also took a tour of King's College Chapel. If I'm remembering my facts, it took over 200 years to complete and went through three different time periods of construction. I'm sure I didn't appreciate it as much as I should have, what with it being a big, old stone building, but it was truly amazing. I just realised this picture is a bit fuzzy, but it was the best one I had that shows how massive this chapel was. This one is of the same side of the chapel, just taken on the outside.

This is the Mathematical Bridge that is over the river Cam. Traditionally, it was supposed to have been constructed without nails by Newton. Curious students took the bridge apart after his death and were unsuccessful in putting it back together with nuts and bolts. However, Queen's College (the building on the right is the President's Lodge) put out a statement that said not only had Newton died before the bridge was constructed, but that "Only a pedant could claim that the bridge was originally built without nails."

I have another Newton story for you. This tree, this apple tree, was supposed to be where Newton got hit on the head by an apple and got that grand idea...what was it again? Oh, that one that makes me fall over...gravity. Yeah, that's the one. And no, it's not the same tree as the one he sat under, but it's supposed to be in the same place. After walking through the different colleges, I walked about town by myself. I visited the Fitzwilliam Museum which looked a lot like the other museums I've been to see. It is sad when all of the art work starts blurring together. It is really nice that most of the museums are free so you don't have to worry about spending one hour or one minute in them. Of course, then they hammer you in the gift shop. :)
This week is week 5, so it's almost half-way through the term. I handed in my first paper last week, and will have another one due in another week or so. It is refreshing to know that I'm "almost" done with this term, scary to know that I still have a lot of stuff to do, and sad that I'm "almost" done with my time here in London. It's hard to believe I've been here for more than a month!
I had another wonderful Sunday at St. Giles. I finally got to meet Pastor David and his wife Alyson and they are both very lovely. Pastor David speaks with almost the same enthusiasm that Pastor Tim uses so I felt quite at home. I also noticed that in the sermon notes section, Pastor David had included thoughts from A. W. Tozer and C.S. Lewis, so I knew that the sermon was going to be good.
Speaking of Lewis,
(all of you non-book/Lewis lovers, just go ahead and take nap for a moment) one highlight I had on my trip to Cambridge was seeing scholarly works by Lewis in the Cambridge University Press bookstore! Yes, I took pictures...

Tomorrow is a GSE event. We are going to a football match. And yes, I do mean soccer. We are seeing, in the words of my coordinator, the "mighty Fulham take on the fearsome Wigan". I have no idea who either of those teams are, but will probably be singing football songs by the end of the match!

Monday, October 20, 2008

the trip to the Sea

I'm back from the sea...and wish I could go back! It was an absolutely beautiful weekend! It was sunny, but unfortunately, far from warm! We left from Victoria Station Friday evening for a one hour train ride to Brighton, then walked about 15 minutes to our hotel. I don't think that paints the picture accurately. We aren't just talking 10 people leisurely walking down a road for 15 minutes. No-- we are talking 10 girls, most of us having carry on sized suitcases on wheels, stumbling down uneven side walks, and almost getting hit by cars every time we crossed the street! THAT is perhaps somewhere near close to the actual experience. As a side note, I will be more aware of what I pack next time. Dragging along a suitcase with at least 3 sets of clothes that you knew you wouldn't have time to wear is not a very encouraging thing.
This first picture is of Victoria Station. There weren't any unattended handbags that I could see, but then, I didn't go to the cloakroom. I would have taken a picture of "the Brighton line" but we were running down the platform to make sure we would all get seats, so I didn't exactly have time to do that.

After we made it to our hotel and I climbed the steps with my very heavy suitcase, a bunch of us went out to dinner. We found this amazing little Italian place, Bella Italia. I forget exactly what I had, but let me tell you, it was some of the best pasta I've ever had! After dinner, we hung out and wandered around Brighton for a while. Saturday, after a gigantic English breakfast in the hotel basement (and lots of coffee), we went to the Royal Pavilion. We took an audio tour of the elaborately decorated palace where George, Prince Regent liked to entertain guests. The inside was almost completely decorated in a Chinese theme, which was curious because all people knew about the Orient was through a few peoples sketches and tales.

After the Pavilion tour, we were free for the afternoon to wander around Brighton some more. I walked along the sea front and along the Pier with my roommate and another girl from the program. Later, I went in search of a book store I had seen on my way into Brighton and then just wandered the streets a bit.

This next picture is of the West Pier. It caught fire twice in 2003. Some plans for reconstruction were rejected, but a new plan is now in the works. There is no visible sign of new construction or restoration, but they expect it to be finished in 2010. Personally, I like it this way. Another pier, the Brighton Pier, is a short way down the sea front and is packed with games, rides, and food booths. I think one Pier is enough for one beach, but what do I know? In this picture, there is a lump in the water close to the shore. This is all that remains of the Concert Hall. You can also see what is left of the boardwalk if you look closer to the shore.

Friday evening we all met for dinner at a Mexican restaurant. It was called El Mexicana. Very original, no? The food was amazing! After that we hung out at a place called the Fishbowl. It was a really neat place, but there was hardly enough seating. Breakfast again the next day, then we caught the train back to Victoria Station. I had some time after breakfast, so I went back onto the beach. My dad would have loved it--there wasn't any sand! Instead there were rocks, well, perhaps pebbles would be a better word. It sure made walking along the water hard because you feet would sink with every step you took! Not as messy as sand, though, so I guess it's worth the trade off.

Just a little bit of homework today since I did most of it before I left for the weekend. I might go back and see the British Library again. And then sometime I have to go grocery shopping. AGAIN.
(P.S. Mom, thanks for all the shopping you do for us! I really REALLY appreciate it! :] )

Friday, October 17, 2008

the end of week three

Today is the last day of Week 3 of classes, which means I've been here 4 weeks already! I can't believe it! It hardly feels like I've been here a whole month. There is still so much to do and see! That being said, I'm so glad the weekend is here! It's been a full 3 weeks, so our trip to Brighton comes at a great time!
I got me some "culture" this week. I went to see the musical "Blood Brothers" with my GSE group at the Phoenix Theatre on Tuesday. It's been playing in that theatre for 20 years! It was a really good show, but really sad.
Yesterday was so nice that I walked home from school. I found a new way that landed me close to St. Gile's, my church for while I'm here. So I took some pictures of it and of Inge and Mark's home. I was also reminded that is officially fall! So to honor that realisation, I crunched some leaves while I walked home.

I went down to Regent's Canal again. It FINALLY was sunny enough (by my book) to take pictures to share with you!

I went to see the British Library! It was so amazing. I got to see the ORIGINAL "Jane Eyre" manuscript (Reader--I married him.). I saw some Jane Austen text and Shakespeare folios! (I read Sonnet 116 out of these, to those of you who care!) There were portions of the book of Hebrews and a Gutenberg Bible. I could have stayed there forever!
Today was homework day, as every Friday usually is for me. Jessica, my roommate, and I went for English breakfast before we commenced our studying. We went to a little place down the road called "The Other Side" and got 2 eggs, 2 bacon strips, sausage, hash brown, grilled tomato, beans, toast, mushrooms (Jessica ate mine), and coffee. Wow! It was really good! After that, we went in search of a cafe. We found this little place that had too loud music, but really good coffee. It was cozy and we stayed for a few hours. I got so much work done!
We leave for Brighton in about an hour, so I'd better get packing! Just kidding Mom! I'm already packed. We will be gone for the weekend, returning Sunday afternoon. Must not forget to take the journal along on the trip. Like the girls in "The Importance of Being Ernest" said, I need to have something sensational to read on the train!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

the day the sun shone

It was another beautiful day in Islington today. The sun was shinning (which made the walk to and from church glorious) and I was blessed by God's people (read: Inge and Mark had me over for lunch again!). It was more than just good food and a lovely day, though. The pastor at St. Giles comes home this evening, so the same man who spoke last week spoke again. We sang a song that we sing back home, though it was quite a bit slower here... oh well. I was invited and stayed for cell groups after church. It was funny because some of the old biddies were almost late and Francis came running saying, "You can't start without me!" Of course, we didn't. Maureen was told to make sure she had her glasses on, and our group was cut a few minutes short when Ian, who has health problems, announced he had to use the toilet. What a way to end the meeting! God is at work though, as those who have "Experienced God", and I am learning to see that. I am continually amazed that God never gives up on me and that He never stops giving me second chances at things. This morning, Dominic shared with us Romans 3:23-24. He pointed out especially verse 24 which says that we have been "justified freely by grace", that it is a gift. FREE! As Sonya V. says, "Free is my favourite colour!" Amen to that sister!
I would have pictures from Regent's Canal here, but I forgot to take my camera with me today. I do have some, but the sun isn't out. I want to show you that when the sun hits that Canal just right, the whole place lights up. Look for those in an upcoming post! (Also, the blister on my heel from my FLATS that I wore to the museum on Saturday was hurting, so I didn't want to go back to my room, get my camera, and go back to the Canal.)
The shoe shopping saga will continue Monday if my feet stop hurting. Class as usual this week...snore.

Friday, October 10, 2008

the day Lisa came to town!

Cheerio to the restless natives! I have been told by quite a few of you that it has been a week since my last post. Indeed it has been! I am learning that school in the states is pretty much the same as school here. That is the reason I give for lack of an update. :)
But truly, my week has just been about school. Since my trips with GSE are on the weekend, I really don't do too much else (to the dismay of everyone, I know) during the week. When that changes, you will be the first to know!
Wednesday I went down by Regent's Canal. I didn't get any new pictures, but I will get some this week. I needed to finish Sense and Sensibility because I just HAD to make sure that everything ended well. And, as all of the Austen nuts squeal, that's exactly what happened! The view of the canal was pretty amazing, though. We have been getting lots of sunshine with highs in the mid-60's, so my trip to the canal was sun-laden and breezy. Basically, it was the best kind of day to be out reading.
Thursday I actually had plans! Lisa, a friend I made at Alvernia who did a study abroad program there for a year, was over in London on business for a few days so we met up. This picture is of Tower Bridge, the bridge I walked across to find Lisa.
We spent the evening walking around town and talking. We went to Oxford Circus and did some shopping. (We almost bought these hats...but decided against them!)
We walked until I couldn't walk any more (yes, it was those boots!) and then got coffee at a Starbucks.
We had a wonderful time chatting and drinking our coffee (well, I had coffee) and tried to stretch out time out as long as we could. All in all, and besides swollen feet, it was a wonderful day.
Today involved a trip to Tesco's (No, Kris, not the gas station!), and then Holloway Road for new shoes. I made it to Holloway Road, but the shoe store closed before I got there. It's ok, I like my feet to hurt all the time...
Tomorrow we go to the National Gallery and Tate Modern. It should be lots of fun! The Gallery doesn't allow photos, so I can't promise any from that. Maybe, though, I'll get to see St. Martin-in-the-Fields. If I do, expect pictures from that! Cheers to you all!
(P.S. Light problem in the room is all fixed. The light fixed itself, basically. If it hadn't, the maintenance guy only took three days to get to us, so we would have been fine! [seriously!])

Sunday, October 5, 2008

the God who loves, saves and smiles

Today was cold and rainy--and not only outside my window but in my heart. The dreary-ness of the day made me want to stay inside and NOT walk the half hour to St. Giles. My roommate suggested that it was the kind of day to just stay home. I resolved I would go and sang "Showers of Blessings" as a dirge in my head. It was a windy and wet walk to the church and I kept wishing I had a hat. I got to church and was greeted by Inge, a German woman who married a Brit and who also lead worship last week. She sat with me during service, which was a blessing. I was a little hesitant today, not only because of the rain, but because I had listened to Pastor Tim's sermon (You got It! in the Charge to Keep series) and had his voice in my head. Apparently, I wasn't the only one though. Our speaker today (because the minister is still on holiday) spoke about the kind of man Saul was at the beginning of his kingship. Somehow, though, the message I received was that God provides, He always has a plan, that He is our High Priest, He goes before us and has a purpose for us. I felt like I needed to shout like Pastor Tim does when he's excited! I was so blown away that God had used the sermon I listened to the night before to continue to bless and encourage me Sunday morning. We also sang some familiar songs, Ancient of Days being the only one I can think of now, that made me feel more at home there. So even though the sun didn't shine today in London, the SON was shining in my heart and changed my sadness to joy. I was further blessed by Inge inviting me to eat lunch with her family (husband Mark, and children Rebekah, Sarah and Thomas). We had roast lamb, with mint sauce of course, and roast potatoes and carrots. After lunch, I went to the Tea and Hymn Sandwich. I found out that it is a mini-service with a different message than the morning, sung with hymns only, and then tea and sandwiches served after. Mostly the older people came to that, but I had a wonderful time.
Yesterday we visited Windsor Castle. It was so HUGE! It was stunning really, and there isn't too much more you can say about it! This picture is me in front of the Castle. It was a long day (and a bit windy!) with a very long train ride home, but I had very good chocolates to eat on the way home so it wasn't too bad :)

Well, I'm off to get a bit of work done. I'm glad my roommate is out right now, because I will be singing "Stand and Shout" and "Mighty to Save" at the top of my voice. If you can hear me, sing along!

Friday, October 3, 2008

the Globe and a long week of classes

Yesterday was amazing! Me and some other girls went to see The Merry Wives of Windsor at the Globe! It was so great. A very funny play but somehow, everything made me think of Romeo & Juliet and the theater people back home. We just kept looking at each other saying, "Oh my word! We're at the Globe!" Another plus was that we met a famous person! Not only that, but she invited us to sit with her while she ate! We ran into (not literally, of course) Miriam Margolyes who played Professor Sprout in the second Harry Potter movie. That was terribly exciting and I shall have to add that picture at a later date. These next two pictures are inside the Globe. The first picture is from where I stood (yes, I was a groundling!!) for the show. To demonstrate how close I was, let me tell this story. I was close to a U-shaped walkway that connected the stage on either end, and at one point, one of the actors walked past me and his cloak hit my head. Yep. I was obviously too close! But it was so worth it!

This next picture is taken from the bridge we crossed to get to the Globe on one side, and St. Paul's on the other. To get basically anywhere in this city you have three options: the Tube, the bus, or your own two feet. Since my feet don't cost me a thing, I've been using them a bit more than when I was home! It's really worth it though because there are so many great things to see in this city. I have been accused of walking too fast by my friends, though. (Mom & Dad, I blame this on our family walks!) They keep telling me to slow down and take in the sights. Usually when I do that, I run into people. Oops.
This picture is of me on the steps of St. Paul's. You can't tell, but I was singing the "Feed the Birds" song from Marry Poppins. They really weren't kidding- there are birds every where here! It is really crazy and Sonya would absolutely hate it! They are like sea gulls at the beach who aren't afraid of people any more. Pretty much every day I walk down to the Tube, a few different birds walk with me!
The first week of classes went well. The only class that might give me trouble is my philosophy class. The professor that said I could handle this class back home will be getting TONS of emails from me, I'm quite sure. Today I don't have classes so it's homework day. It is also going to be shopping day, because I'm almost out of bread. But this time when I go, I will stick to the list!
Well, I'm off to finish getting ready for the shopping trip and maybe, if this wind dies down, I'll take Sense and Sensibility and head down to Regent's Canal and do some reading. Oh, and I should probably tell the front desk that the main light bulb in my room just blew. Great.