My Hot Valentine's Day Date With the Olympics, and Other Updates

...Okay, so I lied about writing an actual update yesterday. But that's only because I realized USOC summer internship openings were posted on the website and I got distracted! (And because the single library book I've found for my architecture paper is due tomorrow and I can't renew it, thus a mad dash to write said paper ensued. But I digress.) I am procrastinating like I promised, though. Sitting in the library and everything. If my kitchen light was on, I'd be able to see into it from where I'm sitting. But again, I digress.

Let's see, where did I leave off? Last Thursday... I don't think anything exciting happened. But on Friday, Jen, Lorraine, Amanda and I went to Leeds Castle! Fun fact: Leeds Castle isn't in Leeds. It's in Kent. Go figure. Another fun fact: the place is swarming with peacocks and black swans.


It was about an hour's train ride away (our first trip out of the city!), and then a ten minute shuttle ride. It was pretty cold that day so we had the place more or less to ourselves. The grounds are absolutely gorgeous, and the castle is all picturesque and castle-y. It's really neat to be able to walk around inside! I really wanted to just pop a squat in the library and read for awhile.

After checking out the inside, we went back outside and found the aviary. There were some birds that spoke in British accents, which may have been the coolest thing ever. It made me miss my own little ball of feathers back at home! But then I think about how annoying he is, and how my shirts are poop stain-free...

From the aviary we attacked the hedge maze! I was wearing my Hufflepuff scarf that day by complete coincidence -- us 'Puffs, though we are particularly good finders, don't have great track record with hedge mazes. We tend to die when we get to the center. However, self-Sorted Hufflepuff Amanda and I split off from Jen and Lorraine, and we finished first! And there was no Voldemort waiting to kill us!

Cedric Diggory, this one's for you!

The "prize" for finishing was getting to explore this faux grotto thing, which was actually really cool. But even cooler was the PLAYGROUND we went to afterwards! We're all five years old inside, no lie. It was fantastic. But alas, our shuttle time pick-up was fast approaching, so we made some too-long photo stops and a gift shop run before sprinting to the meet-up point. Overall, quite an excellent day!

On Saturday night/Sunday, it snowed. :) Enough said.

Actually, "enough said" is a total lie. Amanda got me into The Hunger Games, and I spent the weekend demolishing the series. I don't remember the last time I read like this; I finished a book a day from Saturday through Monday. They're EXCELLENT. I mean, as if I needed another fandom to get into, but I don't even care. Ugh, they're so good. Violent and psychologically terrifying and bloody and rather disturbing, but if Flowers in the Attic taught me anything, it's that apparently I like this kind of stuff. At least there's no incest in The Hunger Games! Everyone may die, but the underlying love story is perfectly legitimate! (And I may or may not want to marry Peeta.)

Sunday night was also the SuperBowl, and a bunch of us went to a watch party at Draper's Bar. The price of admission got you some gross nachos and a beer. Between that, the complete lack of commercials (really, BBC?), and the fact that I didn't have a rooting interest, I left after the third quarter... to read. (Go ahead, judge away! But why don't you read Catching Fire and then come talk to me about priorities, 'kay? Damn cliffhanger.) It was really fun, though! The halftime show was epic -- the entire room sang along to Like A Prayer, Americans and Brits alike. :)

So yeah, Monday was devoted to reading Mockingjay, and on Tuesday I went to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel premiere. Maggie Smith and Bill Nighy were in it -- needless to say, I was more hoping for Maggie than anything. I got there fairly early in the afternoon and there were only like ten other people, so I made a friend in Giulia (she's from Rome!) and we went and got hot chocolate. We still ended up with prime barrier spots though, and, after nearly getting frostbite on every single one of my extremities, I got Bill Nighy's autograph! Maggie was the only cast member that wasn't there. Le sigh. The red carpet was pink, though. I'll take it.

I was a bum again on Wednesday (I really, REALLY need to stop doing that...). But on Thursday I finally got my act together and went to the Natural History Museum for my architecture assignment. This might be the coolest building I've ever laid eyes on. Not only is it gorgeous from afar, but when you get closer you realize that there are plants and animals carved into it. I was seriously geeking out, and spent just as much time looking at the building as I spent looking at the things on display. Except in the mineral room, because I'm a girl and like shiny things. There was also a really cool memory display, where you could listen to sound bytes from different decades to see what memories they triggered. Getting back here at some point is an absolute must!

On Friday, a few of us attempted to see Emma Watson at Selfridge's, which was kind of a fail. We ended up spending most of the day wandering around Oxford Street. Can't really complain, though; I had a delicious chicken, curry, and grape (I know) sandwich for lunch, and I got a beautiful bright orangey cardigan (shout out to Professor Abbott! :P) from Primark for super cheap. Some people went clubbing that night, but Amanda and I stayed in and invented the Pygmy Puff (aka pink lemonade mixed with peach schnapps). Delicious!

Saturday was a big day, as we laid out the framework for our big Eurotrip in April! Paris to Torino to Venice to Lausanne to Geneva to Munich to Berlin to Krakow to Copenhagen in two and a half weeks. I love not having class for a month! :D

Sunday, of course, I had my super secret Olympics volunteer orientation, after which I went with Amanda, Jen, and Lorraine to go see Alfie Enoch's play. Orientation let out late so I missed the first half, but I was in the pub below the theater when Alfie came offstage to go to the bathroom, and I saw him. So that was fun! Heh. The show was really good, kind of disturbing, but in a dark humor-ish sort of way. Alfie was amazing, and we met him afterwards! And he signed my book! And he was so wonderful and nice and we chatted with him! 'Twas truly epic. :) And we finished the night with awesome burritos and cupcakes from The Hummingbird Bakery. Seriously, that day couldn't have gotten any more awesome.

There's not much to write home about on Monday. It was gray and drizzly and my architecture class had a site visit, which was really inconvenient. We met up in Trafalgar Square and walked down to Buckingham Palace. I absolutely LOVE that this is my classroom! But after that I came back to campus and wrote my paper, like a good student. Basically finished it, actually. Don't you just love going over the word limit while only using one source? ...That's sarcasm, folks. That's what has me in the library right now, desperately trying to find other books I can feasibly use. Alas.

But today! OH MY GOSH. It was my first shift as a volunteer, and I can't think of a better way to spend my Valentine's Day. It was absolutely the best volunteering experience I've ever had, hands down. Everyone was so happy and friendly and nice and AAAHHHHHHH. WHY CAN'T I TALK ABOUT IT?! I need to go write it down so I can post it when the Games are over, because seriously, I cannot comprehend the amount of awesome I was a part of today.

But I will say this. Remember that montage I mentioned in my post about orientation? It was on a loop all day, and there were parts of it I hadn't seen on Sunday... set to Heather Small's "Proud," aka the former theme song of The Biggest Loser and one of my favorite songs on the planet. Honest to god, I wanted to cry. It was such a good omen for things to come!


How did I not realize this song was connected with these Olympics until today?!

I'm jumping-out-of-my-skin excited for my shift tomorrow. :D

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