Spring Time in London

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I walked out of my room yesterday morning and my host dad looked at me and said, ‘You look tired.’ Ha, well, it’s official. I’ll be back in the U.S. in less than a month. To say that the semester has gone fast is an understatement, but I can tell I’ve been running around for a while now and apparently I look like it, too. Thanks, Ken!Β  πŸ™‚ But mom has reminded me to take my vitamins, so I’ll be able to power through the next few weeks before embarking on my summer adventure of working at Grand Teton National Park.

Most importantly in recent events, I had my first real celebrity sighting here in London last week. My friend Katherine, who was visiting from St. Andrews, and I were sitting in Leicester Square on Thursday eating some Chinese food when we saw a big crowd. I turned to her and said, ‘Huh, I wonder if someone famous is over there!’ So just when we went to check it out, a silver Mercedes pulled up and out stepped Matthew McConaughey!! Yes, he is just as attractive as in the movies, and yes, Katherine and I did shamelessly take pictures and yell ‘I LOVE YOU, MATTHEW!’ After watching him talk to the press and fans for about 15 minutes another silver Mercedes pulled up, and, sure enough, out stepped Kate Hudson. Now, I’m not one for gawking at celebrity magazine photos, but I have to admit, she was gorgeous!! They were both there for the European premiere of their new movie “Fool’s Gold,” which, as Katherine commented at one point, ‘is supposed to be a really horrible movie, but that’s an irrelevant sidenote at the moment!’ We watched them for probably 30-45 minutes just hanging out with fans and press. I have to admit I might have been a little starstruck.

Last night I also saw Jeremy Irons in a performace of ‘Never So Good’ at the National Theater. He was great, the play was significantly more interesting than I thought it would be (since it was all about British politics during the wars) and the whole time I just kept listening to Jeremy Irons’s voice and thinking of him as Scar in the “Lion King.” In the last couple weeks I’ve also seen a play called ‘Enemy of the People’ along with Shakespeare’s “Henry V” and “Richard II” performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. This weekend I’m headed to Stratford-Upon-Avon with my program to see Shakespeare’s birthplace and another performance of “The Merchant of Venice.” Along with churches and museums, I think I’ve been to the theater more since being here than the rest of my life combined. Since I’m out so many evenings, my host mom even asked me this morning if I went to the theater at home as often as I do here and I responded, ‘No, definitely not!!’

Last Friday I took a day trip with my program to Bath and we stopped by Stonehenge on the way. I might have been a little late meeting our group (or more than a little…) but after flying out of the tube station and running to our bus, I hopped on and we headed off for the day. Stonehenge was very cold and, well, it looked a lot like it did that last time I was there, imagine that! Bath was a really cute town. We saw and walked around the Roman baths, and at the end I was disappointed when there wasn’t one for us to enjoy. We also toured the Abbey there and our tour guide led us on a walk around town pointing out where Jane Austen lived, very important! It was a fast trip, with a lot of time spent on the tour bus, but glad to have gotten a chance to see it!

With the day trip on Friday I spent the rest of the weekend in London (first weekend here in five or six weeks) and checked off a few things on my ‘London List.’ I made it to Camden Market which I had heard a lot about from other people in my program. I decided it was Seattle’s Capitol Hill, Bumbershoot, and Pike Place Market all combined times ten. Very cool, lots of funk there, endless ways to spend money and delicious food to eat all over the place. On Sunday I met up with some friends from Scotland who now live in London, Claire and Pete, and we hung out near Buckingham Palace watching the end of the London Marathon. As is to be expected, the runners looked exhausted, though some of them still moved by us quite quickly, and I could really only imagine the pain shooting through their legs at that moment. Needless to say, though Pete was tempted at the time, we haven’t signed up for next year’s marathon.

Besides running lower on money, I’ve found myself running a little lower on energy as well. Before I left people said, ‘Do everything, try new things, do stuff you wouldn’t normally do!’ and I think I’ve been pretty good at following their advice so far. I’m going to try and do the same for the next three weeks to leave with a bang. Already though I’ve gotten in a routine here and have found myself to be a little less outgoing than I was in the beginning. I can understand how people live here and never see the things I’m seeing. It’s easy to stay in the places you feel comfortable even when there are so many different opportunties. Just like at home, the baristas at the local coffee shop down the street from school know me and always say hi. They still need to work a little on getting my drink just right, but hey, can’t have it like in Seattle all the time. Aw, even in a big city I can still be a ‘regular.’

Looking at a map of the Underground, at first it seems like it’s pretty complex, but really it’s not so bad, and I’ve become really comfortable getting all around London. With my unlimited student Oyster card I’m on and off public transportation ALL the time. I try to leave myself about an hour and 15 or 20 minutes to get to school everyday and today I left the house at one when I was supposed to be in the City (the one square mile of the actual city of London) at two. A train didn’t come until 1:05, and I sat there thinking about how I was going to be late again meeting up with my group. But having mastered my route, I knew the best places to switch trains and managed to make it to the platforms just as the trains I wanted were about to pull away. There is a strange feeling of satisfaction when you catch a train at the last minute, and I managed to make it to the Bank of England, where we met for class, in about 45 minutes. That is how it’s done!

The group dynamics with the students in my program have changed a lot over the last couple months as well. We’ve now all been together for 2 1/2 months and with 28 of the 33 students being girls, there has been plenty of drama and gossip to fill what few dull moments there are! My friend Kali from UPS and I are pretty much fed up with it all, so when necessary we find ourselves a good cup of coffee and discuss the greatness of Dave Matthews Band πŸ™‚ I’m also really grateful to have other people here who I can meet up with outside my school program, which has provided me with some diversity in my social life!

Only a few more weeks, but things aren’t slowing down much. And with finals looming I have to remember to do homework every once in a while! Though I don’t have any international excursions planned, I’ll try to keep updating and telling of the happenings around London and the UK. Overall, still loving it here, I could just maybe use a few more days to sleep in. Oh well, I’ll sleep when I’m old!

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