Brightly Colored Shoes

Today I had a site visit for my Architecture in London class. I overslept (my lovely alarm decided to take the morning off) and it was a bit of a trek on the tube, so I ended up getting there about five minutes into the lecture. When it was over, I told my professor that I'd be hanging around for the beginning of the second group's lecture.

There was a bit of a lull in between the two, so two other latecomers and I chatted with Professor Abbott. He's a bit of an eclectic kind of guy; for example, today he was wearing bright red corduroy pants and teal shoes. It was freezing out and one of my classmates was wearing really thin cloth sneakers. Professor Abbott mentioned that his shoes were really warm, and that got us onto the topic of their color.

He said he was forced to wear suits and black shoes for a really long time at his previous jobs, and when he was in school he wore a uniform.

"I vowed to myself that as soon as I could rebel, I'd wear things that were bright colors," he said, grinning. "I do have a black suit, but I don't wear it very often."

I looked down at my wardrobe. Gray shirt, gray scarf, brown coat, jeans, black boots, brown bag. Yawn. All the colors of the rainbow at my disposal, and I stick with neutrals because... why? I absolutely love my blue coat, and my coral shorts, and my purple boots, and my yellow scarf. So why don't I have a jewel-toned pair of jeans? Or neon sneakers?

Why am I not more adventurous? Why do I care so much about choosing the "safer" option?

So I complimented Professor Abbott on the color of his shoes and vowed to get out of my comfort zone more often.

Leave it to me to get philosophical over a pair of teal shoes.

(I'm not sure how this is relevant to anything. But it is. A real, update-y post is coming soon!)

DanRad and LOCOG

Look at me, blogging on a regular basis! (Though honestly, it's probably because I'm starting to get sick so I stayed in tonight to rest, eat clementines, and drink hot chocolate. I'm deluding myself into thinking these things are going to help. Well, mostly just the hot chocolate.)

Yesterday I did go to The Woman in Black premiere, where I had a spot on the barrier across from the media, and where Dan Radcliffe was literally right in front of me. How did I fail to get a picture with him yet again?

See that blue thing? Yeah, my face was behind it. The people behind me took it upon themselves to hold the things they wanted signed directly in front of me. Le sigh. I'm really too short for this stuff.

Today, as per my Wednesday usual, I went to class and then promptly went back to sleep for... uh... like four hours. Hey, I had nothing else to do! And I woke up this morning with the beginnings of a cold, so why not? But I was up in plenty of time to make it to my interview with London 2012 Ceremonies on time.

Oh, have I not mentioned that yet? ;) Well, over winter break I submitted an application to be a ceremonies volunteer for the Olympics. My visa's only good until June (which I only realized as I was applying), so at the moment I'm only looking to get involved on a shorter term basis. But anyway, I got contacted by the casting department and told to come interview!

I'm hesitant to say it went well, 'cause the last time that happened was with USA Swimming, and we all know how that turned out... but I WILL say that it was fun, and that's never happened before! I think it's safe to be less nervous about this because it's not skilled volunteer work; I don't really think they're cutting many people, ya know? (Watch me say this and not get it. Just watch.) But I really wasn't nervous at all. The lady interviewing me was really nice, and the whole time I was sitting there repressing the urge to flail about the fact that I was interviewing with L2012C.

Good god. Pinch me, please. Even if I fail, this is freaking awesome.

So, I hope they were looking for enthusiasm, because I couldn't stop talking about how excited I was to have the opportunity to be involved at all and how I love the Olympics and that I'm willing to stand around in the cold not doing much (been there, done that). I think the fact that I'm studying abroad here almost entirely because of the Olympics might help me out. And it turns out that my interviewer was just recently in Miami, so we had a little chat about Coral Gables.

When she asked me if I had any questions, I of course asked her what volunteers would be doing, and then we somehow got onto more specific things about the ceremonies. She was telling me how there are professional performers and volunteer performers, and what the difference is, and about "mass movement choreographers" whose job it is to coordinate the thousands of people performing in the ceremonies, and I was dying inside. I wanted to sit there and pick her brain forever.

Man, just let me at 'em. I will be the most enthusiastic volunteer ever.


I really need to get a hang of this blogging-regularly thing. More than a week is definitely too long to go between posts, but I have no idea what an appropriate interval is. Because I do want to write with some detail, but when does detail become tedious? Believe it or not, there IS such a thing as a boring day in London. Unless, of course, you think sleeping late, going grocery shopping, going to class, doing laundry, etc. is exciting. In which case I really have to wonder about your priorities. I find it pretty unnecessary to blog about these days.

These are the things I think about, people.

Okay, so last Thursday, Jen and I attempted to go to the J. Edgar premiere, but it was a complete bust. It was being advertised as the premiere, but I think it was actually just a screening: no red carpet, no barriers for the crowd, no security, no nothing. No stars, either. It was pretty lame. We did see some British celebrities that were just randomly staying at the hotel, though – a band called JLS, and some soap opera star. Ah well. You win some, you lose some.

The next day we woke up super early to get into central London and rush tickets for Hamlet. The box office opened at 9:30 and we got there about a half hour before… and they ran out of tickets before we could get them. So we went to a bunch of other theaters (hey, when you pay for an all-day unlimited tube pass, you use it!) and still came up empty. We spent the rest of the day wandering around the city and got to see the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park.

We went back to campus in the late afternoon with the intent of going back out to see if there were any returns at Hamlet, but we all kind of crashed instead. Well, Jen and Lorraine went out again to hang out with one of Jen’s friends at UCL, but once I sat on my bed there was no way I was getting up again! Most of the weekend was spent recovering/doing the boring things it’s not really necessary to talk about. ;)

On Monday my one class, Architecture in London from 1837-Present, had our first site visit. As a class we met up at Big Ben tower and had a lecture on the street as we stopped to look at Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and the British foreign offices. I basically took that class as an excuse to get out and see the city, so it’s really cool that that’s actually what we’re doing! When we were finished, a guy from my class named Henry and I walked around a little more to be touristy.

Since the tube is pretty expensive, I decided to lump my excursions for the week into that one day and do my assignment for another class – Text, Art, and Performance in London. We had to download an audio tour online and then go do it. It would’ve been really cool, but it had some things seriously working against it.

1. It was made ten years ago. So when she says, “walk in the direction of the orange restaurant with the red stripe,” there was no restaurant anywhere in site. Basically, I got lost. Really lost. In an area of the city I’d never been to before. And I was alone. Luckily I had a map with me!

2. On top of the anxiety of having no idea where I was or where this lady was taking me, she was talking creepily into my ear about a murder and telling me to turn into various alleys. I’m sorry, but that goes against everything I’ve ever learned.

3. I’m sure the story would’ve been interesting, but instead of paying attention to it I had to try to time my footsteps with hers, listen for directions, worry about whether not I was going in the right direction… Basically, I had no idea what was going on in the story. I was just trying not to lose myself in Whitechapel, thanks.

So THAT was an experience.

But later that night Amanda, Celeste and I made four-ingredient peanut butter Nutella cookies. And they were freaking delicious!

On Tuesday, I did various errand-y things (and wasted all the print credit the school gave me because everything here is ridiculously convoluted) in the early afternoon. Celeste doesn’t have class on Tuesdays either, so the two of us explored the East End a bit and went to the Museum of Childhood. It’s basically exhibits of toys throughout history, and we were there for like two hours just ogling everything.

That night was Refreshers Fair, which is the QM equivalent of CanesFest. All the clubs and societies had info tables set up in a room that got miserably crowded. I put myself on the list for student media. I’m not sure if I’ll want to write much, or if I’ll have time to later on, but we’ll see.

The fact that I only have to wake up early for class twice a week makes it really difficult to go to sleep before 2 am, which makes my 9 am class on Wednesday a huge problem and Wednesday itself a day of sleep. To make matters worse, it was foggy and drizzly and dark – quintessential London weather! So I napped for like two hours during the afternoon. Blackout curtains are pretty magical, did you know that?

That night, I hung out in Amanda’s room with her, Jen, and Lorraine. We watched videos on YouTube and… played Neopets. Well, I didn’t. I can’t even remember the last time I played, and haven’t the slightest idea what my login info would be. So I sat there and marveled at the fact that Neopets is still a thing!

But later that night (or, well, the next morning), the fire alarm in Feilden went off at 3:15 am. There’s nothing like standing outside in the drizzle in the wee hours of the morning to facilitate some flatmate bonding time, right? They call roll during fire alarms here. It’s bizarre. I can’t even imagine them trying that at Miami! But no, here they call your flat and each room as to declare him or herself. After 45 minutes of this nonsense, I was very glad to get back to bed. I didn’t sleep well after that, though. Waking up for my 10 am class on Thursday was brutal.

Thursday is my “long” day, with four hours of class. I have a nice little hour break for lunch, though. That night we all got together to cook dinner – stuffed peppers this time. Nommmmmmm. Seriously, it was delicious.

Friday was another crazy day spent in central London. We woke up even earlier to try and get Hamlet tickets – we left campus at 7 am – and failed again. Not cool. But again, we paid for all day unlimited tube tickets, so we took serious advantage of them. We went to Oxford Street (aka SHOPPING!) first so Lorraine could return a coat she’d bought the week before, and then walked to the British Museum. I actually have a few memories of when I was there in 2004, but this time the Olympic medals for this summer were there, so I’m imagining this time was far superior. Ya know. Just by default.

From there, we walked to the Tate Modern (which included crossing the Millennium Bridge!) for tea. Holy delicious, Batman! There is nothing quite like a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam. <3

Ughhh. Want.

We sat and ate and recuperated for a while, and then took some beautiful pictures of St. Paul’s Cathedral all lit up. Our first stop from there was Platform 9 ¾, of Harry Potter fame. We did all the typical touristy pictures, and then Amanda and I reenacted some scenes because we’re just awesome like that.

Dobby may have sealed the barrier, but we can take the flying car to Hogwarts instead!!!11!1!!1

From there, we headed back to Oxford Street and did a little bit of shopping. We hit up Primark, where everything is cheap – I got an awesome scarf for £1. But that took forever because it was so crowded, and by now it was getting late and we were slowly but surely crashing. So we decided to forgo a stop at Big Ben, and just headed back to campus.

I slept obnoxiously late on Saturday, and all I did was go grocery shopping. That kind of day is just necessary sometimes! We hung out in Liz and Celeste’s flat at night, which involved drinking and Chat Roulette and living up to the “obnoxious Americans” stereotype. I can happily say that I was just a spectator in both aspects (I think I might be British at heart), and that it was too hilarious for words.

Sunday and today have been pretty slow as well. There was an unfortunate laundry fiasco yesterday, and I Skyped with my grandparents and my parents, and some trip planning was done at night. And today I just had class (actual class this week, unfortunately) and grocery shopping. Fascinating day, right? :P

But tomorrow is Castle Tuesday (WOO!) and I’m going to the Woman in Black premiere (WOO!), and on Wednesday I have an interview to be a volunteer with the casting department for the Olympic ceremonies (WOO!). Good, good things!

Have I mentioned that London is awesome?

London Calling

Hello from London!

Let me start off by saying that it’s absolutely wonderful here. I’m obsessed. I heard someone describe London as a cleaner and better New York City. Well, I don’t know about better, but otherwise that’s pretty accurate. My friend Amanda also mentioned that she’s heard that “New York City is a cacophony, and London is a symphony.” That, I think, is the complete truth. No matter where I am I will miss the hell out of New York, but London is just… different. It feels calmer somehow. And then you throw in the double decker buses and the iconic telephone booths and all the centuries-old landmarks and the gorgeous accents… Yeah. It’s wonderful here.

I’ve been here a week already, so I’ll try to do a brief rundown of what’s been happening so far.

I was weepy all day on Wednesday before I left (I blame the hormones. No, seriously), until I got into the airport. Apparently I have some sort of go-mode that’s triggered by security, because once I got through I was completely fine, except for when I was texting people my final goodbyes. But for the most part, the tears stopped at JFK. I attempted to sleep on the flight but I’m not sure how much I actually got. However much it ended up being, that plus adrenaline was enough to sustain me throughout the entire day on Thursday.

Yes, you read that correctly. I skipped the worst of jet lag. Don’t worry, I won’t break my arm patting myself on the back. :)

My flight landed earlier than the projected time of 10:30 am, and getting my bags from baggage claim out into the terminal and then onto the Queen Mary bus was a hassle and a half. Thank god I don’t have to deal with that until June at the absolute earliest!

I talked to some nice people in the airport, but the funny thing is that there’s a good chance I’ll never see them again. We didn’t have phones on that first day, so after those initial introductions we all kind of lost touch. Living in the stone age, man. It’s rough.

But I did meet Amanda that first day in the airport! We hit it off right away and sat next to each other on the bus to campus, which is when I noticed her Hufflepuff Quidditch keychain. Um, can you say new BFF? Hah. But seriously. Within that hour and a half bus ride we’d made plans to make plans to go see David Thewlis at the War Horse premiere that Sunday. We’ve already decided that we’re sort of the same person.

Most of Thursday was spent in my flat unpacking and trying to get used to all the quirks of my room. There are only three drawers and four shelves, tons of closet space but only six hotel hangers; there was a wet spot on my carpet; the heat turns itself off when it feels like it; the shower is nothing but a curtain hung up in one corner of the bathroom; and don’t even get me started on the electricity situation. Suffice it to say that I blew out the outlets in half of my flat that night. Twice.

Due to these electrical woes, and the fact that my two converters apparently aren’t what you need in the UK, I was immediately out and about and walking to PC World 15 minutes down the road. I mean, I know you’re supposed to jump right in and everything, but yeesh. And it was dark out! I was kinda freaked about getting lost, but it really was just a straight shot down the road. Easy as pie.

I made it back in time for a paid-for meal at The Curve, but didn’t really know who I was going to sit with, since I didn’t see Amanda there. The girl in front of me in line turned around and asked me if I knew how this worked, though, so she seemed friendly enough. When I got my food I decided to go over to their table and sit with them and the two girls they’d joined.

Meet Lorraine, Jen, Celeste, and Liz. We (plus Amanda) are planning on cooking dinner together every Thursday night… aka I met the right people right off the bat. :)

That night, we went grocery shopping at Sainsbury’s (which meant the same walk I’d just made to PC World, only further), and then I charged my phone in the working outlets in the flat’s kitchen until I went to bed. Oh, and I met my flatmate, Sam. He’s the only Brit of the nine of us. Go figure!

Friday was orientation, which meant a lot of sitting around and listening to people speak and then hellish old-school class registration. It was great to have a group of familiar faces already! We experienced our first fire drill as well. At least I already had my coat on – the rooms are FREEZING here! Celeste and I met Joel (pronounced Jo-elle) when we were outside too, and he ended up coming to the (beautiful) mall with us that night, along with Shaun and Dave, who Celeste and Liz had met at dinner the night before.

Westfield Mall was built for the Olympics and, good god, is it fantastic. More shoe stores than I’ve ever seen in my life, which might be dangerous, but it’s so pretty! We had a good time; we all needed phones, or international plans at least, so Shaun, Amanda and I ended up getting identical everything. Because obvs we’re totes BFFS already, guyz!

Seriously, they’re all really cool people. Shaun and I are completely different, but we spent ages talking about wrestling and how awesome it used to be. Who knew the WWE would be how I find common ground with boys like ten years later?

After the mall, we went out to a bar (or pub? What’s the difference?) right off campus called the New Globe and just hung out for awhile. It closed at midnight, which was fine with me, because I was BEAT.

On Saturday, Amanda and I were the only ones to wake up early (following our original plan) and go grocery shopping. The walk to Sainsbury’s may be easy, but the walk back after spending over £50 on a pot, a pan, and groceries was NOT fun. We did our own thing for lunch, and then reconvened to walk back over there to visit the fruit & vegetable stand outside. For £3, I got five kiwis, 15 clementines, and four orange peppers. WIN!

We ran into Shaun and Dave over there too, and walked around Whitechapel Market before heading back to campus. We each did our own thing for dinner (frozen meal FTW!) before meeting in Shaun’s flat to hang out for awhile before we went out to a different bar/pub that goes by like 15 different names. Let’s call it Spoons, shall we? We ended up hanging out with some people from his flat, which was really fun. Afterwards, I Skyped with my parents for a bit and went to bed.

Sunday was uber fun. Jen and Amanda took the study abroad bus tour in the morning/early afternoon, and afterwards we (and Lorraine) went to the War Horse premiere! We got there pretty late but got pretty good spots, considering Prince William and Kate Middleton were going to be there. I was really only there for David Thewlis, and he ended up not even coming over to our section, which was a huge bummer. :( But everyone had such a good time that they all want to hit up as many premieres as possible!

Monday was the first day of class, and my first (and only) one was at 1. Excellent! It’s Architecture in London from 1837-present, which means every other week we go and see a building instead of having a lecture. I can’t wait to get out and see the city!

That night there was an optional river cruise (aka “Booze Cruise”) that I opted out of, so I got to be a complete bum for the first time here. Let me tell you, it was glorious. I was in serious need of some me-time!

Tuesdays are about to become my favorite day of the week – no class! I slept until noon, and woke up to a new episode of Castle that I watched sans commercials online. It was fantastic. I had lunch, and then went to Olympic Park (more on that in a bit). At night, Celeste, Liz, Lorraine, Jen and I cooked a delicious meal together and spent the evening hanging out. Basically, it was an awesome day all around. Lovin’ it!

I had class at 9 am today, which wasn’t fun to get up for, especially since my alarm clock didn’t go off. But the class is Digital Literacy and Intercultural Communication, and it sounds fascinating. I also made a friend right away, which was awesome. His name’s Daniel, he’s a British film major, and we completely hit it off. So if nothing else, it’s a friendly face and a cool class to wake up to.

Afterwards, I didn’t have anything to do. I was drowsy as all hell though, so I ate lunch and took a ten minute nap (that I woke up from almost an hour and a half later. Whoops!). Then I walked around campus a bit; I had to find where my first class is tomorrow (a history class in the Maths building. I don’t get it), I took a quick tour of the gym, and I went to get some visa advice.

My Tier 4 visa is only good until June, which is a problem if I want to work until August. I’m not sure if I’ll be able to extend it, since I won’t be a student here anymore. So that all needs to be figured out ASAP.

I was a bum tonight as well, and finally ate the pasta that I made and intended to eat on Monday night. Long story short, the stove is labeled wrong, so I waited for over an hour for my water to boil because it was on the lowest heat instead of the highest. Say it with me: womp womp wompppp. My flatmate Rebecca (who’s from Germany) helped me out, though, and told me it took them half a year to figure it out. At least I got it on my first try, right? Well, my dinner was delicious, if I do say so myself. And I watched the newest episode of The Biggest Loser! But the plan tomorrow is to go to the J. Edgar premiere with Jen, so don’t worry, I’m not a total recluse. ;)

So anyway. Olympic Park.

Considering it’s so close, it’s kind of a hassle to get to. I had to take the tube one stop to Stratford, where I had to take the DLR one stop to Pudding Mill Lane. This will definitely change once the entire thing is finished with construction and open to the public, but right now the only real destination is the View Tube.

Outside of the station, you have to walk through a construction area to get to the viewing site, which was definitely an experience. I felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there, but a worker told me where to go, so it was actually completely legit. And then I walked up to the Greenway and saw this.

Hey now. I mean, I can see it from my bedroom window (NO BIG DEAL OR ANYTHING GUYS), but this was… awesome. No other word for it.

I cried a little bit, not gonna lie. I expected to, after crying when I landed at the Salt Lake City airport (oy vey), so that’s why I wanted to go alone my first time. I’m glad I did, too. I got to meander at my own pace and cry without being judged, haha.

Really though. I was standing there, looking at this stadium and imagining it during the Opening Ceremony, with 80,000 spectators packed into it and the torch lit and crazy fireworks exploding from the top…

It was such a vivid image that I teared up. I cannot WAIT to be here in August, whether it’s after a summer of being here or whether I’m returning from elsewhere. I. Cannot. Wait.

This whole visa thing is making my goals seem that much more difficult to reach, but I’m so thankful I have the stadium looking at me through my window. Every morning I pull back the curtain and have a constant reminder of what I’m working towards.

It’ll all be worth it one day.