Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Craic Was Mighty

Ireland was wonderful.

I had so much to be Thankful for there. I was especially thankful for the slow pace, vacation like feel of it. So often on these trips we just go go go, which is wonderful, but it was nice to just relax, enjoy the beauty and even read a novel.

However now I'm back in London and classes are over and finals start up tomorrow, so time is something I no longer have on my side. So, this is going to be a quick blog recapping some of the finer points of Dublin:

-Craic. When we checked in to Abigail's Hostel we were told that breakfast was to the left, the tv was in front of us and the crack is here. We stared in confusion/disbelief. Luckily instead of just dismissing it our cute worker behind the desk started to laugh. "No, no not American "crack". It's "craic" it means fun. If you bring any other kind of "crack" back we'll kick you out." We laughed about that for the entire weekend, and we all took up the phrase "The craic is mighty"

-Gogarty's Pub. There comes a time of day, about 5:00, when everything shuts down. Well, almost everything. There is only one thing that stays open-the pub. So, every night was spent with a coke in our hands at the local pub Gogarty's. There they have live Irish music playing and it was fun to just chill and listen. On Thanksgiving they had real football on the tv. I was in heaven for a moment.

-Snow. Our first real experience with snow this season. We woke up Saturday to a winter wonderland and it was so much fun to run around and build a tiny snowman in it.

-Demonstrations. On Saturday there was also a huge demonstration going on. Apparently Ireland's economy is in shambles and everyone is mad at the IMF, etc., etc. Anyways 50,00 people marched around with signs yelling "You say cut backs, we say fight back" It was exciting to see but made getting to the airport a little difficult, and slightly sketch. A story for another time, like when I'm safe and sound at home.

-Castle. So fun to see a real castle here!

-Sea side. No words necessary.

-Ryan Air. Oh my goodness the turbulence was awesome. But seriously, who sells lotto tickets and near pornographic calendars in the middle of a flight. I did love the horn tune that played when we landed however.

-Thanksgiving dinner at Hard Rock. American food never tasted so good.

Overall the trip was a blast and I'm so glad I got to go, relax, and explore somewhere new. The hostel was great, the people were the nicest I've met yet, and I learned that living out of a backpack is doable.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I Am Thankful...

Today I embark on a quick trip to Ireland. Despite tomorrow being just a normal day here in Great Britain, it is a very important one in America, and despite how far I travel I will always be an American, and we will have school off to celebrate!

It's a tender time here at 27 Palace Court. Emotions are running high. Some girls are counting down the seconds until they come home. Others are stressing out of their minds about school work and finals. Some, are stressing about all the things they still want to see or do here before we leave.
As for me, I'm enjoying the ride. Excited to be here, excited to go home. I'm happy.

More than that though-I am thankful. And although I won't be home for Thanksgiving, the first time our family won't be together for thanksgiving, I will be celebrating my gratitude for all the blessings I have. So, here is what I'll be thankful for as I eat my Hard Rock Cafe Thanksgiving dinner in Dublin:
My great family
The gospel
Christmastime spirit of giving
Good friends

(Hyde Park Winter Wonderland-so much fun!)
Good music
Digital cameras
The opportunity I have to explore this world

(Jersey Boys last night. I love good music like this, and I love getting out in this city at night)
Medical advancements, and my good health
The opportunity I have to receive education
Diet Coke
(The John Snow pump-John Snow is the father of Epidemiology and without him I would not be studying Public Health)
European chocolate
My professors here
All the amazing opportunities I've had the past year

(One cool opportunity-visiting a Mosque last Monday. Yea, we were not too happy about having to cover our hair. Seriously, this would not work for me.)

And home where I will be for Christmas

But for now...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday in London

For our last London Study we went to the Churchill War rooms. They were interesting.. but the real fun was had the rest of the day.

We walked down Parliament Street, and then made our way up to Trafalgar Square. It was so fun just taking in the view, and exploring more of the city. It was the perfect day for just walking around and taking it all in.

Sometimes though, you need to be careful in this city. You never know when you might just get caught off guard...

After enjoying the city we hit up the cinema, where we were able to watch Harry Potter. We all quite enjoyed it, especially the scene in Piccadilly Circus, since we had been there that very day. Do you know how cool it is to watch Harry Potter and say, "Oh yea, I was there today."

It's very, very cool.

So, once again-another happy day in London

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cambridge Beats Out Oxford for London's Favorite School

Thats right... I liked Cambridge better.

Well part of it may have to do with the fact that I was dressed warmer, or that we just took our time leisurely exploring instead of rushing to see all the colleges. Or part of it my be punting. Or eve'n song at King's College.

I'm not really sure why it was better than Oxford, I just know that it was.

I'm getting ahead of myself though. We started our day at an American cemetery. This is a cemetery to honor the American troops that lost their lives over here during World War 2. It was so neat to be at a cemetery for our country. No offense to England, I love England. But America is my home, and seeing that American flag waving over the cemetery made me feel right at home.

After exploring this beautiful place we went to Cambridge. We were given some money and a map and told to meet at 5:00 for Eve'n Song at Kings College. The day was ours. Now, sometimes this turns out great, other times not so much. Luckily Wednesday it turned out excellent.
We were able to take our time meandering the different colleges and taking in all the beautiful sights.
We enjoyed checking out the different colleges and the little town. The highlight of the afternoon was when we went punting though.
You know, when you get in a boat and some man with a stick moves it through the river... like in Venice?
Anyways, when you go punting here you go down what they call the "Backs" because the back of a bunch of colleges face it. And your punter tells you all about the different colleges, the beautiful buildings, and rumors about Harry Potter or Camilla Parker Bowels.
It was so much fun just sitting there and listening and taking in all the beautiful scenery.
But, as four rolled around and it started getting dark it became quite freezing.

Us on the boat, before it was cold and dark!

After we finished punting we met up with everyone in the group at Kings College, where we went to Eve'n Song, put on by the Boys Choir of Kings College. The chapel there was beautiful, complete with huge windows on each side and fan vaulted ceilings. However, because it is dark outside it was dark inside, except for candle light. It was beautiful.

And how beautiful it looked was nothing compared to how beautiful it sounded. The boys probably ranged in age from 6 to 16 and they sounded liked angels. It was stunning.

It was a beautiful way to end our last day trip.

After walking back to the coach, Tony was the first to break the news to us about the Royal Engagement! It's amazing how news like this turns things around here! The papers are full of talk of how this will improve the economy, making the wedding day a bank holiday, and pictures of the ring that was once Diana's. I've never seen such a large group excited about a wedding. It's exciting to be here for all that!

The day was beautiful. We were all happy, enjoying the fun. And, as we drove home after a stop at a welcome break (St. Tate and I got a 2 for 1 deal on Diet Cokes), I thought about how much fun these day trips have been. I reflected on all of the cool things I'd seen, and all of the funny, and sometimes not so funny things that had happened on them.

Mostly I thought about how if I never ride a coach again I'll be a happy woman! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010


I love a city-

Where every bike has a basket,

Every school child a uniform,

And every building a story.

I love a city-

Where every day invites adventure,

Every step discovery,

And every shop window possiblity.

I love a city-

Where every clock chimes the hour,

Every falling leaf the season,

And every shadow the moment.

I love a city-

Where every day brings the rain,

Every resident an oyster,

And every woman a dog.

I love a city-

Where every person obtains a place,

Every language a speaker

And every God a worshiper.

I love a city-

Where every difference number the pebbles on the beach,

Every book the cracks on the pavement,

And every peaceful afternoon the pigions in the park.


I love a city-

Where every bike has a basket.

Windsor, Hampton Court and...Harry Potter?

Our day trip last week involved to palaces. First Windsor:

There we were not only able to view the private apartments, which was awesome, but see the changing of the guards. This was one of the highlights of the day and I have a ten minute video on my computer to prove it.

Of course, I needed a picture with the guard that we saw take position. I couldn't come all the way over here and not take a picture with a guard!
After exhausted our excitement with Windsor we headed out into the little town around it. We got lunch there. Tomato soup (finally!!) and cokes. After eating we wanted to explore a little shop, but the sign said no food or drink. What are poor thirsty girls to do?

Good thing my pockets are so big! I'm sure if anyone heard the clinking they would have assumed something else was in the bottles, but luckily I'm good at hiding them.

As we were standing around, waiting to leave an old man joined our circle. He had food in his beard and was obviously homeless. He looked around and looked at each of us and asked:

"You're American!?"
We responded that we were. He just stared at us. Awkward silence. And then he....

walked away?

Yea, it was definitely weird to me too. Oh well!

Our next palace was-Hampton Court. This one was a favorite of King Henry VIII and he had his private apartments there.

We enjoyed getting the full experience, by running into these two:

But the highlight of this excursion was definitely the maize! Here we are at the beginning... lost and confused!
And here we are happy to have made it to the end!
The day was basically full of lots of fun, and an extra amount of laughter.
And an extra amount of pictures as well....
The next day it was the Harry Potter World Premiere here in London. Some of the girls here at the center decided to camp out all night and day in order to get right in with the celebrities.
Some of us made good use of our day. Jess and I not only went to the Tate Modern, and the British Library, but had time to visit this place to:
Thats right-Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross station. It was epic....
I've been trying to convince you all that I actually go to Hogwarts this whole trip-and this is just more evidence of it!
After lunch and a nap I got all bundled up and went down to Leicester Square for the premier. It was packed, but so so exciting. The whole square was a buzz as caldrons of fire sporadically lit up, and interviews with the stars were blasted through huge speakers and shown on giant screens.
Emma's dress was amazing.
Rupert is the least eloquent actor I've ever had the pleasure of hearing.
And Dan Rad, is oh so gracious.
Thats right, I was right there with them... and thousands of other people!
Overall it was very exciting! I can't wait to see the movie this week!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Have I Mentioned that London is Beautiful?

Because it is.

Today I have exactly 1 month left of this experience, and I am filled with mixed emotions.

I want to see my family, but I also never want to leave this beautiful city.

Here is why:

Today I had time, after classes all morning, to go to 3 museums-all before dinner.

As I sat in one studying a painting I heard at least 3 different languages being spoken-none of them English.
Cloudy/rainy weather is the best weather.

It is truly stunning.

And, it is home. Not home home but it is and always will be a home to me. A home I love very much.
So, as has been the case all along I'm vowing to myself to not take a single moment for granted this month, and to appreciate the beauty that is here.

I love London.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Things that Have Been Making Me Smile

Playing football and cricket! It was so much fun!
The Woman in Black... the scariest play I've ever seen!

Picadilly Circus!
Playing cricket in the rain!
Getting all dressed up for Oxford!
Accidently matching sweats!
The center is looking more and more like home.
Going to the Great Hall at Hogwarts!
The city being all decked out for Christmas.
Browsing Portobello.
Wearing my Sperrys everyday.
Finishing essays, tests and papers.
Mariah Carrey has a new Christmas Album??
I wondered what she had been doing for the last decade.

Besides marrying Mr. Cannon that is.
All jokes aside I grew up with Mariah Carrey christmas music. And a week ago when I started listening to it this year, her album was definitally first. For many years I didn't know who Mariah Carrey was except for the lady in the Santa suit on the cd case.

Which I might mention is also what she is wearing on the cover of this cd. It's good to know some things never change...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Autumn in England

I know for you back in the states its the month of Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving, and the things it represents. Remember back to last November and my blog a day for the blessings in my life. Well, I would love to do that again, but here there simply isn't the time.

I am thankful though.

Here in England Christmas starts early. There is a big lighting of the lights on Oxford and Regent's street next week, and Christmas decorations are popping up throughout the city. It is Christmas already here.

So, I think it is important, before the shop windows come up, and the crowds go crazy everywhere to tell you about something that is absolutely beautiful to me, something I love very much.

Something I am very thankful for.
Autumn in England.

I don't know why I want to cry when I look at these pictures other than the fact that I find this place so beautiful.

So, although I miss my tall mountains, and the crisp breeze in the air while the bright lights blaze down over the field-I love this beauty too.

The green grass, large sky and brightly colored leaves are stunning.

And autumn, no matter where, is still autumn.