I’ve officially seen “Mind the Gap” signs on the London Underground and “Bison on Road” signs in Yellowstone National Park in the same week. Instead of British history, I now learn about Native American jewelry. Instead of the sound of trains going by late at night, now I hear the coyotes howling to each other at dusk. And instead of looking right before crossing the street to avoid being hit by a big red double-decker bus, I constantly scan the horizon as I drive, right to left, left to right, to avoid elk, moose and on Sunday, a bear. I honestly cannot believe the incredible relocation I have just put myself through, but I love the ability I have to experience so much so quickly. Unbelievable!
Well, I’m no longer in Europe running around, but I’ve been told by several people that I should keep my blog going, so if I have a story to tell, I’ll do my best to share it.
But before I leave London completely behind, as promised, I said I would post a best of/worst of/favorites list. The semester finished up really well and with an absolutely fabulous week of summer weather! After our finals were over, we all headed to Russell Square to enjoy London on a sunny day and let the sun and the realization of summer soak in! Though I was tired after finals and mostly just wanted to sit on the couch like I normally do when a semester ends, I kept running around London until the very end. My classmates and I said goodbye to each other with what we all thought would be the lamest activity of the entire semester: a talent show. The visiting American professor in our program took what was supposed to be a sarcastic suggestion for a talent show, and she turned it into an actual planned event. However, it turned out to be one of the best events we did as a group all semester. With a lot of inside jokes referred to, some serious reflections written by students and even a sing-along led by our director, we realized how much we had all experienced together in the last 3 ½ months, and everyone agreed the talent show was great! On Friday, a friend and I headed to Kew Gardens, the Royal Botanical Gardens. Very pretty, very big and fun to wander around, feeling like we weren’t even in a big city anymore. On Saturday I packed up and wrapped up, taking one last trip into central London and walked around some of places I’d gotten to know in the last few months. I started at King’s Cross after saying goodbye to a friend, headed south, through Bloomsbury and Holborn, across the Strand, crossed the river on the Waterloo Bridge, walked along the Southbank, crossed the Thames again at Charing Cross/Embankment and ended at my favorite place in London, Trafalgar Square. I sat there one last time on the steps leading up to the National Gallery and watched as tons of people were out on the hot Saturday. I thanked London for being good to me for a few months and for teaching me so much. On Sunday I said goodbye to Ken and Jan, my wonderful host parents, who made my time in London so comfortable. I miss them and will always be grateful to have been a guest in such a great home. So, as I think back on my semester, here are some things that stand out:
favorite place I traveled to: two way tie- Chamonix and Cinque Terre
favorite random person: Karen (from Boston, met her in Cinque Terre)
favorite day trip: two way tie- Brighton and Oxford
favorite tube ride: guy with rubic’s cube
best celebrity sighting: Kate and Matt
favorite tube worker: guy at Russell Square who made fun of our accents
most random encounter: meeting the aunt of a girl I played soccer with in elementary schol on the train from Florence to Rome
favorite show (most enjoyable/funny/lighthearted): Much Ado About Nothing, Wicked, Midsummer Night’s Dream
best show (best production): King Lear, Richard II
best food: everything in ITALY! gnocchi, pesto pasta, lots of bread and balsalmic vinegar!
favorite pub: Turf Tavern (Oxford)
best pub food: Hunter’s Chicken
best weather: last week in London, May 6-8
worst weather: Easter in Rome, March 23
best class: British Novel
favorite professor: Susie, of course!
best cookies: oatmeal raisin and triple chocolate at Ben’s Cookies (South Kensington)
best museum: S.S. Great Britain (Bristol)
favorite London routine: Sundays- cookies, coffee and church with Claire and Pete
favorite snack: splendips! (rice crackers, cream cheese and thai chilli sauce, yum!)
favorite occasional occurance: being able to tell people how to get around on the tube, because I knew the area!
Now several thousand miles away, I’m in the middle of nowhere, in Grand Teton National Park, and if the trend continues I should have about 5000 pictures of the sunset over the Tetons by the end of summer. It’s incredibly beautiful here, and I’ve already seen tons of elk (probably a moose in there too, though I’m still trying to learn the difference), and the other night a bear as I was driving back from town. So far work is good, making friends and other friends from home are planning visits to stop by! Should be a good summer, though it’s hard not to think of it as just one of my many vacations I’ve had these last few months. I’m sure by the time August rolls around it won’t feel like a vacation anymore, but still only a few days into work it feels temporary. I’m not quite sure of the adventures that the summer holds, but I’m excited to see what comes of my time in a completely new place once again! Thanks to everyone who has continued to keep up with me these last few months, I’ve really enjoyed hearing from you.