Monday, 23 March 2009

when tesco opens.

being back in london felt great.
i was already completely attached to the people that i've met here.
staying away from them for three days was agonizing.  
but the timing of things worked out quite well. 
we had plans to see jarrett's gig all together as soon as i returned. 
so i put on on of my new dresses and we headed off. 

we stepped into the dimly lit room after a bit of a walk. 
our strength in numbers filled the room. 
as jarrett's band began to play, it was clear that he had quite the fan club.
we showered him with compliments. "so buff!" "so buff babes". 
jesse quin himself had to acknowledge the overwhelming enthusiasm on display especially for our friend. 

by the time the show ended kebabs were sounding pretty good. 
it was because of our little stop to feed our tummies that we nearly missed the last tube. 
there we were. on the platform waiting for the tube. 
jarrett and liam were entertaining us with a little rendition of SNL's "dick in a box". 
but after a while we were sure that we missed the tube that we needed to go home. 
before we knew it we were running through the station. high heels and all. 
jarrett was yelling "last tube. last tube. run"
we made it. 

after finally reaching oakwood station, 
we collectively decided to stop by our friend chris' house. 
hour after hour passed with loud singing and rather philosophical conversations. 
laughs all around. and pictures to capture the moments. 
5 am rolls around. so of course, we have to wait for tesco to open so that the boys can buy some sandwiches. 6:30 comes, and selina and i found ourselves walking up snakes lane and to our beds. 
you know that you've had a good night when you go to bed after the sun rises. 

Sunday, 22 March 2009

castles and cathedrals.

sadly enough, i was not feeling in the best tip top shape. 
my energy was dwindling. 
the feeling clearly self inflicted from my late nights. 
although i must say that the entire team of rugby boys in the next room did not do much for my recovery. six bunk beds of ten-year-old boys without adult supervision is bound to cause some boisterous disorder. 
but i was determined to see the sites despite the obstacles of rest. 
i've never had much luck with maps but i figured the touristy ones at the hostel would be much more fool proof than the rest. 

i started with trinity college. partick's cathedral and park...
........dublin castle...
...........natural history museum
................the custom house
...................christ church cathedral.
these are the structures that fill the frames of my photographs. it is quite difficult to take pictures of yourself without 3/4 of your arm blocking the left half of the shot. no need to take silly myspace pictures in ireland. 

i also made a decision to do some therapy shopping. 
the streets that were lined with flowers, not to mention all the girls holding them, started to irritate me. PDA all around. single awareness day is not my cup of tea. thank goodness i wasn't in paris. 
it seemed that buying a few new dresses was a more than suitable solution. 

in between my tourist endeavors and shopping spree i witnessed some things you don't see every day. 
-a "viking tour" in which a bunch of tourist rode in a boat car with viking hats, making loud grunting noises as the tour guide pointed out interesting facts about the town. 
- a bunch of little rugby boys attempting to join in the guinness drinking game in the game room of the hostel. 
-a plethora of stale bread and jam advertised as an extravagant "free breakfast". 

good times. 

wholly isolated in adventure.

when i arrived in dublin, i was so appreciative of the little notes i wrote down.
scribbled in the corner of my notebook page was directions to my hostel. 
a doodle in dark black ink was my "map". 
jacob's inn had the honor and privilege of being the first youth hostel that i've ever inhabited. 
i was glad to hear friendly irish accents as i checked in. 
as i walked out of the doors to explore the town, i soon found that there were plenty of people eager to be extra friendly...a little too friendly. 
for the record, it is very difficult to ditch creepsters without the assistance of your friends. 
this australian boy invited himself on my exploration of the the city. 
i have never had a conversation filled with more awkward comments and even more awkward silences. i surprised it took me such a long amount of time to conjure up an excuse for exit. 

no need to go through the other numerous encounters on the streets of dublin.
i'll sum them up for you:  whistle. dance? day-um. 

the temple bar district was interesting. 
clearly set up for tourist. 
most signs said something like "authentic irish music inside"
things of that sort. 
the cobblestone streets caused a real problems for all of the inebriated girls in high heels. 

i ended up going to bed quite early. 
it was wonderful to be in full control of the itinerary. 
i would wake with every opportunity to create my own adventure with no opposition. 
being alone in ireland for valentine's day weekend didn't turn out too bad after all. 

Thursday, 19 March 2009

top o' the mornin' to ya'

until the night before, my preparation for my trip to ireland had gone swimmingly. 
train tickets and ferry journeys were all set to go.
i wrote down directions to my hostel and everything. 
but then i found myself suddenly convinced that, because of my soon-to-be three day absence, that i should go out to a club with my friends. i hadn't even properly packed, but i figured that i was alright at last minute packing anyways. 
i met up with stine, marianne and selina.
and of course we can't forget james and james. 
it ended up being quite the expensive outing with the cab and all
...but it was so worth it.
not to be cliche, but we danced the night away. 
literally, as in- we were well into the morning hours when we finally got back to halls. 
2 hours to pack and sleep. i split the time 50/50.


well thank goodness most of the population is fast asleep at 5 in the morning
because i would've been extremely embarrassed if anyone saw the speed-walking number i was doing down snakes lane. 
if it weren't for my large backpack, i would've more than likely broke into a jog.
but the lack of sleep was working against me. 
by the time i reached victoria station, i was nearly late for my train. 
approximately two minutes to spare. 
and in those 120 seconds, i was able to sprint towards the last platform to my train. 
just my luck that it was all the way down at the end. 

i was finally on the train. relief. time for nap time part two.
by the time i arrived in dublin, my sleep had been interrupted by my necessity to change trains twice and board a ferry. not to mention the screaming kids that went wild on deck 12. 
but finally, i had arrived. my second wave of relief had come. 

hillsong london.

from the day that i left i swore to pay a little visit to hillsong london. 
and so i kept true to my word. 
in fact, it was quite the trek to get there. 
i arrived a little bit late because of the unanticipated length of my walk from the tube station.
i was seated near the back of the theater where the service took place. 
but i had a clear view of the stage nevertheless and an overwhelming sense of the amount of people attending. 
the set up of the stage replicated the hillsong united dvd that i've seen about a billion times. 
they sang 'savior king'. which reminded me of iz and willie. 
in fact, the entire experience reminded me of home. 
it was so refreshing to be at church. and i left with a peace and joy like no other. 

Sunday, 15 March 2009

marianne's "birthweek"

numbers increasing in increments of one
celebrating the passing of another year
the annual milestone known as your birthday. 
i've seen some extravagant festivities as far as birthdays go, but never before has a birthday extended an additional 6 days, thus creating a "birthweek". ...leave it to marianne to be the first.

it all started with a little thing i call a surprise party 
(which was disguised as a birthday dinner). 
selina used her incredible cooking skills to make delicious treats for everyone. 
giles and dave helped me put up streamers and balloons. 
ollie got everyone to shut up and turn off the lights as the surprise was about to be unveiled.
it truly was a group effort. 
and the party was lovely. 

next up was 2 for 1 cocktails at camden 55 bar. 
a place in which there is a blatant requirement to have good looking employees. 

...yet another social gathering in marianne's room....
        .....dinner at nando's in enfield in which marianne and i decided to get super spicy burgers
              ....not to mention the incredibly accurate depiction of andrew on marianne's birthday                         card thanks to claire's talent and skill. 

the celebration of marianne's birth could not have been better. twenty years. say goodbye to marianne's youth, she's become quite the lady :)

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

and all that jazz.

ronnie scott's.
apparently it is a very popular and well know jazz club in soho. world-renown and all.  
this statement, of course was solidified by the presence of kevin spacey in the room. 
and the live jazz performance of course. 

at the start of the night giles, will and i met up at the bus stop--waiting for the golden boy as always. we were headed to southgate for a curry dinner before heading into central. as proper lovely guests, we headed to the market to pick up some peppers and such for the meal. 

it was quite nice sitting on the sofa as all the jazz boys sorted out dinner. i was surprisingly impressed with their cooking skills. the food was amazing. it's nice to have a proper meal after living on PB&J for days on end. i decided to wash the dishes as a thank you for the dinner preparations. 

the group of jazz boys adopted me as the only girl in the group for our outing to the jazz club. and the only american too i suppose. lucky me :) it was well funny to hear the discussion and comments of a large group of boys, some slightly vulgar, but entertaining nonetheless. 

when we got to ronnie scott's i felt a bit underdressed in my jeans and banksy t-shirt. not exactly a cocktail dress and heels, but oh well, what can ya do? eating before getting to our destination was definitely a good idea. everything was expensive. it was water and standing for us-- the cheap way is the best way.  

listening to the live jazz music was refreshing. simply a change of pace. while i didn't have the trained critical ear of the boys, i still paid close attention to the different pieces--wanting to soak everything in. it was a lovely evening. 

like the endings to most of our nights, we caught the last tube home and wandered on up to the halls. here, i met up with selina and claire...there were birthday plans to be sorted out. marianne's birth-week was just around the corner. i love living this way. one memorable moment to the next, always having something to anticipate and look forward to. 

Saturday, 7 February 2009

"where you at?"

there are times in which i am astonished at the timing of things. 
i have to admit, i was feeling a bit melancholy after jennifer and elizabeth left.
i was experiencing one of those pivotal moments in which you reflect on your behavior and make adjustments accordingly. (thanks mom) :)
i had gone to bed quite late after a long night of reading. 
to my surprise, the noise of vibration from my phone woke me in the morning (or should i say afternoon). 
i tried to make my voice sound lively and awake for fear of revealing my embarrassing sleeping habits. "hello?"
it was willie! "where you at?"
"me too! hahaha"
he just so happened to remember that i was in london and decided to give me a call. thank goodness for my unchanged american number. 
he was anxiously awaiting his return to the states and was feeling a bit homesick and i was in definite need of encouragement. 
the timing couldn't have been better. 
we met in central at the pizza hut. 
it is so strange to see familiar faces in unfamiliar settings. 
we both were so excited to meet up. what are the odds huh?
just what i needed. 

Thursday, 5 February 2009

familiar faces

early thursday morning, before the sunshine could be seen behind the gloomy clouds, 
i received a phone call from dear elizabeth. "i'm at victoria station." 5:23 a.m. 
i lazily rolled out of bed and headed down snakes lane to the station.
quite a scary experience, due to the forest-like scenery and lack of lighting.

"i'm by the burger king"
"so am i" 
(both of us hopelessly looking around to find the other)
two burger kings in the same station, who would've thought?
by the time we found each other, the coffee shops began to open.
it's crazy how hungry you feel in the morning when you are not occupied with sleeping.
caffeine was a must anyhow.
we nearly skipped through the streets of downtown london, slurring the tune to the bee gees "stayin' alive". 

our first stop was buckingham palace. on the way, we took a stroll through hyde park. it was nice to see so much more than the back of your eyelids before noon.

we stopped by westminster abbey. 
we couldn't quite understand the logic behind charging 12 pounds to walk into a church.
aren't all supposed to be welcome.
we took the photo opportunity in front of big ben just like the rest of the tourist. we never did muster up the tourist to obnoxiously ask everyone what time it was...the cleverness of the idea made us giggle nonetheless. 

i had been wanting to see the salvador dali exhibit seeing as he's one of my favorite artists, so i selfishly suggested the museum for our next destination. elizabeth and i both thought it a marvelous idea. the exhibit was absolutely fascinating. both of us left feeling rather inspired. but the weariness that resulted from our travels caught up to us. we headed back to oakwood wear we finally got in touch with jennifer. we made plans to meet up in southgate that night and slept until the evening hours approached. 

both of us reluctantly woke up to our phone alarms. if it weren't for the amazing new outfits we bought on sale at topshop, we probably wouldn't have been so keen on getting up to beautify ourselves. the word spread that my american friends were coming and so everyone took the opportunity to meet up all together. we kept it local--"wetherspoons"

when jennifer saw elizabeth and i at the southgate station she was so excited that she tried to run through the exit without swiping her ticket. she nearly broke the barriers in a fit of happiness. it was so incredible to see american friends in london-quite a weird experience. 

all of my british friends were amazingly welcoming and nice. we all had a blast together. after wetherspoon closed, everyone continued our gathering in my room. what a completely eventful and exciting day. i have the slight suspicion that i will be needing more visitors for the duration of my journey here. [ i hope you can come visit me mom, i love you]

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

the british words i swore to bring back to the states.

there are quite a few times in which i have been talking when all of a sudden, everyone starts to laugh at me. often times, i am asked to repeat my words. 

according to my british friends:

aluminum is pronounced "al-you-min-yum"

iraq is not meant to be pronounced as "i-raq

leicester is pronounced as "lester"

process is pronounced "prO-sess"

whoever thought that an english speaking person would have to be taught how to speak english?

the three words giles told me to bring back to the states:

1) cling film a.k.a. saran wrap
2) tin foil a.k.a. aluminum foil
3) grimsby football club

these are the phrases that the girls told me to bring back:

1) he is proper fit/ bear buff a.k.a "he's hot"
2) that's well good a.k.a. "really good"
3) i couldn't be bothered a.k.a "i didn't feel like it"

i'm still working on my british accent...i'm not very good. but i suppose none of my american friend will know my english accent is terrible so i might try it out when i'm home anyway :)

Monday, 2 February 2009

"i don't watch tv, i read"

it was on a rainy wednesday afternoon that i visited walker primary school. 
one of my courses that i'm taking here at the university is writing and publishing for children's literature. 
while i'm sure i want to teach literature, writing it wouldn't be half bad either. i love exploring different avenues of thought and experiment. you can never learn enough.  
as planned, our entire class met at the southgate tube station and took a bus to the school that resembled a large cottage. 

as we walked inside, i noted all the children's work hanging on the wall. creative works of art and such. all of their winter coats hung in a straight line. the walls were busy with things to look at. as we headed toward the classroom, we looked through the clear glass into the small gymnasium where a bunch of young students stood laughing in their red sweater uniforms, playing with big red balls. they ran across the floor, a clear expression oft heir abundant energy. 

we entered into the classroom. clusters of 5 or 6 children at each desk. each person in my class was assigned to talk to 3 students. tori, pierre and mahmud. it was quite the diverse group i had. my job in our little interview was to get them to talk about what they liked to read and why. i was blown away with their intelligence. pierre was obviously the nerdiest little boy. at one point he told me, "i don't watch tv, i read." i was impressed that a ten year old little boy appreciated literature in a way that an adult would. mahmud was focused on telling me about beast wars, a series similar to transformers it seemed. and little tori, she was such a contrast to the boys. she liked reading about animals and nature. all of them told me about their favorite plot lines and favorite characters. what bright kids. 

we will return to the school at the end of the semester with the stories that we have written, taking all of their opinions into account. i can't wait. i could see myself working there. 


when i came back from my trip to the school, i was ready to relax. selina, marianne and i headed to the cinema in wood green. we decided to see slumdog millionaire. the cinematography of this film was amazing. it brought me to tears. i recommend it. it was a film that put things in perspective. there is more important decisions in life than "mercedes or BMW?", "blue cardigan or black cardigan?". there are people with difficult struggles all around the world. wake up!

corsets and fishnets...

i will let the events of the weekend be represented with this cluster of three dots. there, inevitably, had to be an evening of dramatic events. it is not to be discussed. simply acknowledged as a link to the next memory of grand proportions.   --the burlesque party :)


here, at middlesex university, there are lovely planned events for the students in the student union bar. some are more populated in attendance. the burlesque party was the place to be on tuesday night. half of the fun was dressing up of course. it felt a twisted version of your high school prom; you spent half of the day planning your outfit, hair and makeup. true to my prom analogy, everyone met in my "house". curling irons, bobby pins, brushes and hairspray were spread across my desk, my very own hair salon station. a burlesque party called for big hair and dramatic makeup. my mom would have been so proud of my finished work. i clearly inherited her beautician skills. 

midway through our girly preparation period, the boys entered. surprisingly, they had some preparation of their own to accomplish. red and black hair dye, suspenders (or as they call them "braces") and so on. most importantly, ollie needed his hair cut. i did quite a good job, if i do say so myself. by 8 o'clock it was time to start taking pictures before the festivities of the night melted away our makeup and flattened our hair. we headed off to the SU.

the night was a blast!  all the girls looked lovely, and i'm sure the boys didn't mind seeing all of them in frilly little outfits and corsets. despite the aching we felt in our high heel shoes, we danced around the dimly lit dance floor until that moment when the dj stops and the room suddenly reveals its true colors in the light. drinks spilled across the floor and sweat revealed across your face. a bittersweet ending to a fantastic night. finally loosening the ribbon to our corsets, we were able to breathe and fall asleep. 

Saturday, 31 January 2009

we just wanted starbucks...

although i am indeed in the land of tea drinkers, i still enjoy my coffee. 
it was cold, and rainy... as usual. marianne, selina and i though that a trip to starbucks was definitely a good idea. after all, most of the ideas that we come up with are good. 
it was one of those conversations that starts out with a small plan and suddenly explodes into a combination of ideas that make up an all day event. selina needed wool for her creative projects and a new pair of jeans from topshop, marianne needed a corset for the upcoming burlesque night from primark, and i am up for coffee and shopping anytime. 

despite looking a mess, we headed into central. greasy hair and all. it took us quite some time to get to oxford street, but the walk was quite enjoyable. 
i was able to contain myself once again from purchasing bags full of clothes from topshop. selina, however, found an amazing pair of skinny jeans that fit her perfectly. we had starbucks-- coffee for me and hot chocolate for the two non-coffee drinkers and finished the shopping experience with a trip to primark. 
let me explain the glory of this particular retail location.
i bought: 
2 pairs of shoes
1 purse
3 pairs of tights
7 pairs of socks
1 pair of high-waisted shorts
5 hair bows
1 necklace
....for 29 pounds!!!!!

enough said.

after we returned i headed into camden with claire, dave and linda to watch guy's gig. 
the night ended with dancing and music. the air filled with the sound vibrations of the guitar and drums. as i watched the bands play, i observed the sincerity in which the group of friends supported each other in their passions and pursuits. clapping and cheering with enthusiasm. what lovely people, what a wonderful day. 

dinner with the ladies.

after the fiesta, there was a consensus in favor of a health and financial recovery.
we sleepily wandered the halls most of the afternoon until a plan to go out to dinner was confirmed--just the girls. we convinced becky to come along as well, despite her strict budget in preparation for her trip to vienna. claire, selina, marianne, linda and myself took the golden boy to the bus stop and headed into enfield. we found ourselves at pizza express. don't be fooled by the mention of pizza, it was a pretty fancy place. try to erase you pre-conceived notions of party food; it was more like italian cuisine at its finest. i had the american pizza, apparently peperoni pizza is an american thing. i found it appropriate seeing as i was the only girl from the states at the table. all of us were relieved to have a proper sit-down meal after our continuous consumption of snack foods. 

one of the many difficulties of being a college student is that money tends to disappear without much warning. perhaps the warning signs are all the great memories--we just do not like to think of them as money-sucking events. because evidence of dwindling money was clearly on everyone's mind, i had a little surprise up my sleeve... "check please!" was only because i am so appreciative of my new friendships. i love these girls.

fiesta fiesta

for weeks upon weeks, there was a heightened anticipation for the event that had come to be called "the mexican fiesta". for those who didn't know the proper terminology- "the mexican party". i didn't even bother correcting the name that clearly lacked an authentic flare. after all, it isn't their fault they never had the pleasure of being neighbors with mexico

i am proud to announce that we did not burn any tortillas beyond salvage in our chaotic quesadilla making frenzy. by the 16th quesadilla we had a definite system that worked quite well. when the guacamole was made, the chips were put on their trays, and the salsa jars were open, we headed to marianne's room. pablo the mini-mexican man welcomed us into the room decorated in bright balloons, sombreros casually lying around, with vibrant colors of red, green and yellow everywhere. we took the time in which the room was scarcely occupied to take a few pictures and get a head start in our tequila drinking. it wasn't before long that our amigos started to wander into our mexican fiesta world. in fact, so many people wandered through the room that the capacity of the room was filled to its maximum. people spilled out of the door and through the halls. 

needless to say, the rest of the night was a bit of a blur. i believe i cut my friend's hair. i'm not sure why he trusted me to do that with the alcohol that was in my system, but i did quite well nonetheless. hours filled with laughter and music. cameras were flashing everywhere. it is difficult to sort specific events of the evening. the atmosphere was overwhelming with the amount of people and conversations. in the end, the fiesta was a definite success. as people wandered back to their rooms to wipe off their fake black mustaches and go to bed, i noticed the clock that read "4:07 am". it was time to call it a night. 

Thursday, 22 January 2009


while our sombreros were an essential part of our fiesta preparations, there was still much to be done. i went along to southgate with selina, claire and marianne. it was time for some more shopping. we were in desperate need of comida mexicana. for all of those who don't know, there is a place that exists here that is referred to as asda. our american equivalent would be known as wal-mart. needless to say, cheap food was deemed our new mission. 

we were pretty efficient with our list of things to get. we started with the avocados and ended with a couple bottles of tequila. we picked up don taquito the donkey pinata on the way. a couple of observations: 1) the english like their "crisps" (potato chips). there were five bags of tortilla chips in a entire isle full of "crisps". 2) no wonder americans over-eat . their portion sizes are 20 times the size of the brits'. no "party size", no "family size" here. 

the only thing to do now was to send out our facebook invitations and coordinate a game plan for  making our feast. we had a lot of quesadilla making ahead of us. 

it's birthday time in cockfosters

here in jolly ol' england, your twenty-first birthday isn't nearly as important as your eighteenth birthday. the big "one-eight" is apparently quite a big deal. 
our dear friend ollie invited everyone to celebrate his girlfriend's birthday. 
having only met katy once before, i only knew that she was a lovely girl deserving of a proper party. the night before, marianne and selina picked out a few lovely gifts to bring her. 

as we prepared for departure, we ventured off to tesco express- a small supermarket nearby the station. there was a huge debate concerning our mode of transportation. unlike california, gas guzzling, air-polluting SUVs are not the problem. the dilemma was choosing between tube, taxi or feet. our laziness cancelled out walking straight away. we finally opted for the taxi. two in fact, seeing as we brought a herd of people. we arrived and stepped forward to the doorway. the rest of the group spurted out their memories of ollie's house--past parties and get-togethers recalled with blurred distinction.  in exchange for our welcome into the house, we handed katy her gifts and card. she accepted them with humility and gratitude. 

we immediately pulled out the camera for our photo shoot session. we had been anticipating this. after all, new friendships should be accompanied with new pictures of new memories. 
as part of the group headed of to central, some of us returned back to the halls. i was in need of sleep for my lecture and seminar the next day. 

Monday, 19 January 2009

camden town. our sombrero mission.

friday night, in the midst of all the fun, a plan was underway for a mexican fiesta.
for all of you who said that i would crave mexican food, you were wrong.
when there's a will, there's a way.
one of the definite decisions we made was to purchase sombreros.
the fiesta would not be complete without them.
so the next morning...or should i say the afternoon (seeing as we all woke up at 2:30), 
marianne, selina and i headed into camden in search for sombreros. 
it was very difficult for me to concentrate on our mission. 
the streets were lined with fabulous vintage shops. 
i was in heaven.
thank goodness for marianne who kept us on track with our shopping.
after walking around for quite some time, we resorted to asking various workers where we might find the prized items we've been looking for.
the incense/candle shop owner knew just where to find them.
we found ourselves at the door of a costume shop.
mission accomplished.
we are nearly ready for a fiesta.

we rewarded our job well done with falafel king. 
a small little hole in the wall place that sold us falafel wraps for 3 pounds.
it was quite delicious.

claire, dave, guy and giles met us near the station.
all of us decided to attend a show (or "gig" as they called it).
the jazz boys had a friend who's band was playing.
we ventured through these old cobblestone sort of roads until we reached the venue.
it was a trendy little place, dimly lit with these dangled florescent lights. 
back past the stage were separate rooms that were structured like large horse stables. each named and decorated differently. 
the bands were quite good. i only wish that i had more energy. all the excitement from the last couple of days wore on me. coffee can only help so much.
i headed home on the tube a bit early and went to bed. 


it's friday. i have no classes to go to and i had decide to do some exploring of my own.
my original plan was to visit the tate modern museum.
i mapped out where i needed to go like a good responsible tourist. 
but there was a change of plans when the tube was having signaling difficulties and was delayed for indefinite amount of time. 
no worries. i'll improvise.
selina told me that if i took the bus across from the station that i would reach a shopping area in enfield. seeing as i needed a warmer coat for the nice sunny days we have here, i decided that that would be my new plan for the day. 

getting there was just fine. i felt so accomplished. 
i bought a coat at top shop for half price. 
it is so incredibly lovely.
when it was time to return, i was certain that i had found the right bus stop to get back to campus. i suppose that's what i get for thinking i was right. not only did i get on one wrong bus, i then got on another bus that took me to who knows where. at its last stop, the driver could see i was a bit panicked. i was in the middle of nowhere. 
"where are you trying to get to dear?"
my reply: "ummmm oakwood."
kindly he says, "oh sit down darling."

i was clearly far away from where i needed to be.
he changed his route and took me back.
i was pretty lucky. what a nice man, helping out a stupid tourist like me.

i was relieved to be home. i suppose i just took a detour :)
i met marianne, linda, selina and guy for dinner. 
afterwards, we headed back to campus.

so i know this may be difficult for most to believe, but there is a bar directly on campus. it is fondly referred to as SU. (the student union bar). their radio DJs play music and they turn their cafeteria into a dance floor. this is where we hung out the rest of the night. there were so many students there. we danced and had a proper good time. when the DJ stopped playing, we all headed back to marianne's room where her computer became our new DJ. slowly but surely, we all headed back to our rooms and fell asleep. 

my introduction to london night life. cheapskates.

in the afternoon i attended my "shakespeare and sexuality" class.
disappointingly enough, we don't talk about the sex that is in shakespeare's plays.
the first 6 weeks deal with the machoism we call masculinity. 
and the second six weeks deal with the daintiness we call femininity. 

they split our class time up into lectures and seminars.
the lecture consists of being talked at for and hour and a half.
fun stuff.
they don't require much thinking on the part of the student.
the lecture notes were handed to us. 
the only expectation- to sit quietly and listen.

the seminar was similar to our classes in america.
a lot of discussion.
although i didn't finish henry v, my contribution to the conversation was more than efficient.
those are the times i am thankful that the american education system teaches you to conjure up BS answers that sound quite informed. 


as promised, the girls that live in my hall knocked on my door to solidify the plans we had to go out that night. i quickly fixed my makeup and walked down to marianne's room which seems to be home base for all the going out plans. i cannot even begin to describe how genuine and nice this group is. my writing cannot even do it justice. the girls gave me a sort of profile on everyone as quickly as they could. who's dating who, what people study, where people are from. i was so thankful to be caught up to speed. 

when the entire group was rallied up we headed to soho to go to a club. cheapskates holds true to its name. everyone enjoys inexpensive drinks and admission. it was so refreshing to go to a club where the girls didn't look like they popped out of a 50cent music video. instead everyone looked like they came out of nylon magazine. there were no do-rags in sight. no ed hardy gear. this place contrasted everything i abhor in california clubs. the music was phenomenal: mgmt, santogold, justice etc. i couldn't have had a better first impression. everyone danced the night away. we left at 3am or so and took the night bus back to oakwood. the jazz boys sang some familiar tunes most of the way home. we laughed at the differences between our accents. apparently i say "process" incorrectly :) 

i visited selina's room when we got back to the halls. i just had to thank her for my adoption into their group. what lovely people. 


oh henry V where art thou?

i don't regularly have class on tuesdays.
but on the first tuesday i spent here i went to meet with my shakespeare professor. a jolly ol' bloke who informed us of our upcoming reading of henry v. 
naturally, i used this as an excuse to visit central london once again in hunt for a book store.
i also wanted to assure myself of my ability to reach central and get back safely without any difficulty of public transportation. 
i started off simple.
the piccadilly line takes you straight from oakwood into central. one straight shot. easy enough.
two girls from chapman: leslie and kari, decided to come along. lovely companionship for the night's outing. besides, they also needed to purchase a copy of the play.


there is simply an indescribable energy in the air.
we approached piccadilly circus, which is similar to what i imagine new york city to be like.
big lighted advertisements. tons of tourists incessantly taking pictures. it was amazing.
we walked as far as oxford street. it was there that i had my first encounter with the glorious five stories of clothing they call top shop. certainly, that would not be my last visit.
that store kicks urban outfitter's ass :) surprisingly i restrained from purchasing bags upon bags of unnecessary additions to my wardrobe. i'll save that for later. 

we found a borders book store and finally found a shakespeare section. can you believe they didn't include him in the "classics" section? 

after our mission was accomplished. we safely headed home. we had some reading to do.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

oh. wait. i have class?

after a lovely weekend, monday always rolls around.
that's right, first day of class.
unlike classes in california, the english loosen the reins a little bit. we meet for class once a week for 2 to 3 hours. i have class three days a week, 3 hours a day. i'd say it is a definite upgrade from the 12 hour days i did at chapman. 

my first class was communication in writing with professor billy clark. i don't think that it will require much effort in comparison to what i'm used to. he was so impressed with my notes that he wanted to take a picture of them on his phone. the bag. 

i spent the rest of my time checking things off a massive to-do list.
for anyone that knows me at all, you'll know i tend to make those a lot. i'm quite a list person.
i went through 11 things on the list. i.d. card-check. module changes-check. library orientation-check.....

mission accomplished.

bus tour and meet the floor

once again we found ourselves in central london.
we took a proper tour with our bus tour guide.
although, i don't suppose we needed one seeing as there is no history or culture to learn about :)
i feel as though we were given such a small sample of all that london has to offer.
i'm sure i will be re-visiting all the places that they brought us to, so that i can soak everything in.

we went to buckingham palace, although queeny liz wasn't there. we drove around hyde park, a place in which i am planning a picnic outing to. london tower, tower bridge...there is so much that we saw i'm not sure i could list them all. 

after the tour, we were dropped off in covent garden. there were street performers, tons of little shops and so on. i ate a classic meal of fish and chips. chips meaning french fries. i figured i had to have them at least once for the duration of my stay here. 


just as i was beginning my bedtime routine, brushing my teeth, washing my face...i heard a loud commotion  coming from the hall. while my experience of the halls was a sort of introduction, the other students were celebrating a reunion after christmas holiday.  just moments later i had a knock on my door. a quick recitation of names and a friendly hello. i could not believe how friendly and welcoming all the students were from the get-go. they were excited about our similar music taste and interest and invited me to go out with them on wednesday. 

already something to look forward to. 

the hunt for treasure

there are certain things that america needs to adopt from england.
for instance, college students love free food, exploration, free money, fun and games and drinking. 
why mention such things?
oh, just because this is what our "orientation" consisted of.
shocked? i know. let me explain.

all study abroad students were given a free breakfast and lunch at the hendon campus. 
we were given a few speeches about the activities available for us on campus and the support we are offered.
we were then directed to the nearest tube station where we headed into central london.
all of the students were split into teams, given a "to do list" and a map.
our time limit was two hours.
the team who completed the most tasks on their paper with in the time limit won a wonderful prize.
what was it that motivated us so?
a 50 pound tab and the pub. this is where the treasure hunt ended.
our team didn't win.
but the entire experience was amazing.
big ben. the national gallery. the river thames. the eye. 

so  much to see, so little time.

first impressions.

i have two words for you: jet. lag.

the time difference was apparent immediately. 

as i came around the corner out of baggage claim, i was greeted my two student helpers in rather bright red shirts and red middlesex university lollipops. not like the the candy. a round sign on a long pole. i was surprised at how much concentration it took to understand their english accents. it might have been the speed at which they were spewing out questions at me. i did not exactly want to talk about obama after a 9 hour flight. but i smiled and nodded politely. 
you couldn't deny their friendliness and sincere curiosity. 

as the students took me to the "meeting spot" i was greeted by study abroad coordinators and the like. sam, a rather good-looking australian man... that is married, explained some of the wonderful things that were planned for us this weekend and throughout the semester. 

we arrive at our campus after driving through a forest of trees and fields of grass. as i looked to the left there stood "the mansion", a beautiful brick building. what a focal point of the campus. to the right were gabbay halls. while they are a bit less glamorous than the mansion, a room with a bed was just fine for my sleep-deprived body. the day was a bit of a blur with my nearly sleep-walking state. we ventured off to asda (our wal-mart equivalent) to buy some last minute items. i unpacked my suitcase into my temporary home. and went to sleep quickly.