Saturday, December 10, 2011

Miles Apart

''We'll be miles apart, I'll keep you deep inside, you're always in my heart. A new life to start, I may be leaving but you're always in my heart.'' -Miles Apart by Yellowcard

This is going to be my final blog post from London! It's incredibly hard to believe and these four months absolutely flew by! Even though this semester was trying and stressful at times, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I've learned so much about myself and the world. More than anything, I learned that I am capable of living on my own in a new place; let alone a new country. I am so proud of myself for living successfully in a big city, I never thought I could do it and now I know otherwise!

London is definitely a unique place in that people from all over the world congregate here, and I am lucky to have lived in a place like that. I've made friends from countries all over the world, including Switzerland, Turkey, France, Austria and Bulgaria. I've also been able to get to know people better whom I go to school with at home, which is an awesome side effect. I've been lucky enough to travel all around the entire United Kingdom and had adventures in Belfast, Edinburgh and Cardiff. I feel like I have another home here and how many people can really say that? I know I'll be coming back to the UK at some point, I have to. I love it here so much. Everyone I've met here has been so friendly and helpful and I can't imagine not hearing everyone talk in their super cute accent anymore and asking me if I'm ''all right love?'' I'm going to miss eating chocolate crossaints everyday at breakfast, taking the Jubilee line to Baker Street tube station (which is aptly adorned with it's Sherlock Holmes tiles) and walking by Big Ben and the Eye overlooking the Thames. I can't wait to be able to say ''I remember that time when I lived in London...'' or ''This happened while I was living in London...'' but unfortunately that means I have to leave. I am definitely excited to go back and see my family and friends and dogs (more excited than you'd know) but there's a lot here that I'll be excited to come back and see again. I can't wait to eat at Mcswinney's, eat proper chilli and actually be able to watch Glee on tv and not on a computer screen, but this is a bittersweet excitement. It's going to be so strange to go from pounds to dollars, from bangers and mash to a hamburger and fries, from Primark to Target and Wal-Mart. I'm going back to somewhere familar, yet it will be strange to me at first. You know, at first I was scared to leave home and come to a completely different place, and now? I'm leaving one home to go back to another. London will always be home to me now, and the best part about home is that you can always come back.

''A man who is tired of London, is tired of life.'' -Samuel Johnson

Chocolate and Creepy Stories

So I have just a couple more things to tell you about!

Yesterday me and my friend Danielle decided to head to Westminster to admire Big Ben and the Eye one last time. It was such a good decision! Even though it was freezing cold, we just took some time to stare and appreciate how beautiful of this city this was. We even got to see them both lit up (and even when they were starting to light them up too!) We also took a walk by Westminster Abbey to see St. Margaret's Church, which is absolutely stunning as well. Then we came back to school and got together and tried to watch Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging (an adorable British comedy) but there were these idiots (surprising I know) who were all drunk and being SUPER loud and inconsiderate so we could barely hear it. They didn't even get our passive-aggressive hint of turning on the subtitles, but they were dumb so it didn't surprise us. Oh well.

The unbelievable view as you exit Westminster tube station!
Can't believe I hadn't taken this picture til now

Me and Danielle in front of the Eye
I love how the tops of the fence have crowns on them!

Me in front of St. Margaret's Church

The perfect view

If you can believe it, it's even prettier in person

Then today, me, Eve, Danielle, Lizzy and Mariah decided to head to the Chocolate Festival on Southbank and it was an awesome life choice!! The view was beautiful and there were all kinds of free samples and yummy things to try. I got the most delicious hot chocolate everrrr and some amazing chili later on, both which were perfect for the nippy noodles weather. (If you're wondering about the strange phrases I've been using, please do yourself a favor and read the Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging series. You'll thank me.) Anyway, then I went to see The Woman in Black one last time. It was just as much fun as I remembered and if possible, even creepier. I was literally shaking at one point! I love that show and the actors are incredible, and it was a perfect last show to see!

The world is yours.

Now it's off to my room to finish packing and taking down my pictures on my wall :( And then I'm going to hang out with friends one last time before my big travel day tomorrow!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Abbey Road, Oxford and the Double-Denim Ballerina

So I went to see Billy Elliot as our final musical for my musical theatre class on Tuesday night! It was quite amazing and a perfect way to end the semester! I wasn't too sure at first though because the show definitely has a salty-sweet kind of flavor. It has lots of sadness and drama mixed in with quite a bit of humor too. I think that's quite a hard thing to do, and this show definitely pulls it off well. The boy who played Billy was fantastic and one of the best dancers I've ever seen. But my favorite character HAD to be Michael. He made EVERYTHING he did funny. The way he talked/walked/dressed and just in general acted was hilarious. I lovedddd his and Billy's dynamic. Therefore, my favorite number had to be when Michael was dressed in drag and convinced Billy to do the same and they then went on to sing ''Expressing Yourself.'' So priceless. And the grandmother was fantastic as well. This show had a lot of heart and soul. It's about this young boy who is being made to learn boxing, even though he hates it. His father and older brother (his mother died) work as miners and are facing unemployment and their town essentially dying off as that is its livelihood. Billy accidentally stays for the ballet class that is immediately after his boxing class and eventually it is realized that he is a naturally gifted dancer. This comes with tons of opposition from his family, as you can imagine.

Then yesterday, I took a trip to Oxford! Had a bit of a disaster getting there (including multiple wrong tube stations and lines) but I finally caught the right train and was surprised to find out that it was only an hour ride! I hopped off, had a quick and yummy lunch (a pepperoni and cheese bap) and decided to do a bus tour since I only had the day in the city. It turned out to be a great choice because I had the most adorable little old lady as a tour guide. Before the tour even started, she came over and introduced herself and we got to talking about how I got to Oxford and how London was a lovely place when you're young, but not forever. She said she'd been in Oxford for over 30 years now, so I felt like I was in pretty good hands. The tour lasted around an hour and we saw Oxford Castle, most of the colleges that make up Oxford University (there are 38), the pub where JRR Tolkien and Lewis Carroll used to hang out and discuss their work, and part of the original 9th century wall that used to surround the city, among many other things. I learned so much on this tour! For instance, Oxford is the third oldest university (and the oldest English-speaking University) in the world (after Bologna and Paris)! There is evidence that teaching occurred as early as 1096! I also learned how Alice from Alice in Wonderland was named after a teacher's daughter at the school, and I got to walk into the sweet shop she used to frequent!

 Trinity College 

 Sheldonian Theatre 

 The pub where JRR Tolkien and Lewis Carroll used to meet

 Oxford Castle (from the 11th century)

 Christ Church, part of Oxford University

 ''I'm late, I'm late!'' 

 Christ Church from the Meadow

 Headed up to the Great Hall!!! Another dream come true!

 Isn't the Gryffindor table majestic? 

 My place setting, right next to Ron Weasley!! 

 A view of Oriel College through the archway. The picture doesn't do it justice.

 Radcliffe Camera

After the tour, I jumped off at Oxford Castle, and then I went to Alice's Sweet Shop and Christ Church and then to Radcliffe Square before finding a lovely pub to eat dinner at. I got the cutest Cheshire cat Christmas ornament and an adorable tote bag, and kinda went nuts and bought the sweetest Harry Potter book ever (for £25...) I also treated myself to my fave HP book (The Prisoner of Azkaban) in the British version. Hello good read for the 8 hour plane ride home! Christ Church was stunning and sooo worth the small admission fee! I also got to go into the dining hall where they filmed all the scenes for the Great Hall in Harry Potter!!! (In other words, I have walked where Rupert Grint has walked... AHHFDHFDHSF!!!) So amazing. Actually, pretty much the whole school made you feel like you were in Hogwarts! Thennn, I jumped back on the bus because it was FREEZING cold outside (although according to the sweet old lady I met at the ATM, that was warm for them :O). I wandered around to find Radcliffe Square (per recommendation of my tour guide earlier; according to her, it's her 'favorite place in Oxford' so I had to go!) It was spectacular, with gorgeous 360 degree views. I then walked back to the Young Arms pub and had a lovely dish of bangers and mash one last time. It was yummy scrumboes (thank you Georgia Nicholson). After relying on the help of some cute and sweet Oxford boys, I made my way to the bus stop and eventually back to the train station!! Oxford was absolutely beautiful and very charming, and everyone was so nice! A perfect last trip for the semester!!

Then today, me and a few friends journeyed to Abbey Road (the real one this time!) A couple weeks ago, me and some other friends attempted to go to Abbey Road but actually went to another one about a half hour away by tube on accident! Ironically enough, we're one tube stop away here at school. It was harder than it looks to get pictures because you have to time it just right between cars. (And we almost died attempting to do a freeze frame picture...) But we got some pretty good ones! We then wrote on the wall outside Abbey Road Studios! It was very cool and reminded me of writing on the Peace Wall in Belfast on a smaller scale. We then walked to a Beatles collectibles shop a few blocks away per invitation of a cute old man who saw us taking the pictures. He had lots of cool stuff that was collected over 40 years! Paul McCartney, Gwyneth Paltrow, Chris Martin and Madonna have visited the shop!! Apparently Chris and Gwyneth even used to live down the street and Paul doesn't live too far away either :O It was a good day!!

 Including this one just because Mackenzie's expression is priceless. 

 Yup, we're awesome. 

 I draw beautiful suns. 

This is the shop!! 

So in other news, I'm not able to take one last day trip tomorrow, so my last two posts will be about me going to a chocolate festival, the Woman in Black (again) and having dinner with Heavens, Danielle and Eve (on Saturday), and then a farewell post (*tear tear*)