Friday, December 21, 2012

home, sweet home.


Life is just getting started.
 

So finals are over. I think I did well, but until I get my grades, I’ll just pretend. On Monday, half of the program went to the Nutcracker and it was amazing! I’m not super into ballet but it was wonderful and definitely getting me in the Christmas mood!

Outside the Royal Opera House!

Some lovely ladies and I waiting for the ballet to start!

I brought this jar of peanut butter at the beginning of the trip and finished it just in time.

King's Cross exists and so does this picture.
 

Tuesday (the last Tinseltown Tuesday we had) night two of my friends and I walked to the east end of Hyde Park for the holiday carnival Winter Wonderland! It was packed with people, music was blasting everywhere, there were lights, rides, and stands that were selling food and trinkets everywhere, and it was freezing! It was SO fun! We went on two rides that I wish I could explain without visuals, but basically I was reminded that on carnival rides, I am a screamer. No shame.
 
It looks like it's snowing, but my camera just picks up mist really well.

The ride where I switched to be on the outside and got squished by these two Texan ladies! Couldn't breathe but I could laugh.

In front of the ride of death that never ended!! It was really fun, I would just never do it again.
 

Wednesday we went on the temple trip and it was amazing, of course. This time it was really cold and frosty, the grounds looked covered in snow! It was beautiful!
Our lovely group that went to the temple with us!

The grounds are so gorgeous and one of the ponds was even frozen over!

One of my favorite places.


On our way back to the Centre, I stopped with one of my friends at the Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner. Before leaving for Europe, my grandmother told me a story about her father on his mission in the British Isles. He and his companion had been preaching at Speaker’s Corner, as many people did/do, and a mob formed and he and his companion were almost killed. So she asked me to get a picture at Speaker’s Corner and so I did!

Thursday, as I predicted, I spent packing. It took most of the day but I was able to go out on my last night in London with three of my friends to get dinner, a last hoorah for gelato at Snowflake, and to see a showing of The Hobbit. It was so much fun and a night I’ll never forget!

The group of us on our way to dinner and gelato!

Last minute packing with my bunk buddy!

Nobody slept that night, at least not any longer than a couple hours. I was able to get 2 hours of sleep—thank goodness. We all made our separate ways to the airport (I took the Tube which wasn’t that bad at all) and then waited for my 8 hour flight to Minneapolis. It was quite the adventure. With the time difference, I was chasing the sun and was up from 5am London time until about 10pm Seattle time, making it a full day of 25 hours? After 2 hours of sleep? Needless to say, I was really tired.
View from the London Eye.


And that’s that. I am home with my family, anticipating what this next year has in store for me. Many people who I have seen have asked “How was it? What was your favorite place you visited? What did you learn from it?” etc., the questions continue.
After the London Eye, just next to the ice skating rink!
 
It was amazing and life changing. I am so grateful for all that I experienced, all that I saw and visited, the people I got to make these memories with, and all that these few months of my life entailed. I cannot tell you in a few words about three months of my life just as you probably can’t do it either. It’s a long time and a lot can happen; a lot did happen. My favorite place cannot be contained to one particular geographical site—I enjoyed it all. I am glad to be back, but I do miss it. It was wonderful, indescribable, and I wouldn't change a day of it.
More London Eye pictures to get you to keep reading.

I learned a lot about change. The most important part about change is that you remember why and how you change. It’s changing for a righteous cause, to better yourself and to help those around you better themselves as well. If you aren’t changing for the right reasons, you’re just going to go back to how you were before. Change is hard to accept but it is the most consistent thing in our lives. We must allow others around us to change; otherwise we hinder their growth just as much as we hinder our own. Surrounding ourselves with people who will let us change, help us change, encourage our changes, love our changes, those are the people we want to be with and the type of person we should be.

Some amazing people I got to spend my time in Europe with!

I was in Utah for a couple days to get some things done and stayed with a dear friend of mine in Orem. She really is wonderful and I am so blessed to have her in my life. One night we watched Dan in Real Life, and now I can saw I’ve seen it! If you haven't seen it, see it. It makes me feel better about the title of my blog, too. It was very fitting, as I’m probably not going to blog anymore. Maybe, but we’ll see.
If you want to request more pictures from certain places, let me know! This one here is one of the happiest places on earth.


In these next few months I will be working on my mission papers to turn them in as soon as I can. I'll also be turning 20. I’m getting my wisdom teeth ripped out of my face a week from today. I will be back at BYU; however weird that will be after all that has happened this past year, especially these last few months. It will have been about 8 ½ months since I was there for classes. Crazy.

I hope the holidays find you as content, grateful, and as happy as I feel. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and best of luck with whatever you’re trying to accomplish in life!

 

There ya go.

Monday, December 10, 2012

eric and ted.

 Life is full of wonderful people--get to know them!
 
Eric Whitacre Concert!
 
This is at the hill where we searched for the horse for about a half an hour. It was so windy!
Blenheim Palace!
Ted East and part of awesome group three at Oxford.
 
That's all I can get uploaded right now. Hopefully more this weekend! 14 days until Christmas!
 
 
There ya go.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

st. paul's, oxford, PRB.


Life is going by so quickly.

So there was a project, 40% of my grade for one of my classes, which was due this past Thursday, the 6th of December. So that took up a lot of my time this week. Yay late night homework parties due to a refined procrastination-- I’ve had years of experience, I’m pro.

The 3rd of December, this past Monday, I went on my last walk! All twelve of them are finished! It was along the South side of the Thames River.  It went past a bunch of bridges (obviously, we’re going along a river that is right in the middle of a big city) such as the Millennium Bridge, Tower Bridge (often mistaken for London Bridge but they’re actually different), and Hungerford Bridge. London as a whole has a lot of glass buildings and they are so gorgeous. It was a rainy day so it looked even cooler, in my opinion.

On the 4th, as a program, we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is the 5th cathedral to be built in that same spot under the same name, the current one having been designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Our tour guide was one of those old, snarky British guys who know way more than three of us university students would ever hope to know. It was terrifying climbing to the top of the cathedral dome though—if you didn’t know that about me, I’m scared of heights. It didn’t help that some of the stairs were metal and you could see how far you would be falling down if you slipped. It was great. But really, the view was fantastic and all 528 steps were worth it.
 

On the 5th, a small group of us ventured out to Wesley’s Chapel, an LDS church history site that our religion teacher asked us to go see. It’s not officially a church history site I don’t think, but it does have significance in the British Isles and the beginning of the church being established here. It’s where some of the brethren first preached the Gospel, by invitation, taking the majority of the Methodist congregation with them by the end of it because of what the brethren shared with them.

Let’s see, the 6th was really awesome! I didn’t do too much, Thursdays are mostly taken up by classes BUT that was my last day of classes for this semester!! AND that night, I went to an Eric Whitacre Christmas Concert at Union Chapel! He directed the Eric Whitacre Singers, a group less than 20 singers, and I was able to hear one of my favorite pieces that I’ve even performed, composed by him, Lux Arumque.  Listen to it, it’s awesome.


Look, I even made it super easy for you to get to. You’re welcome. It was crazy to see the man who composed the music that I helped bring to life at one point in a cathedral in San Francisco with my high school choir at a competition almost two years ago. I love that song. But seeing the man behind the music was surreal—he’s so young! And actually alive!  I miss choir but seeing that made me feel better about it. And plus, it got me really excited about Christmas! Only 17 more days, not that anyone is counting.

The 7th, yesterday, we took our LAST day trip to Oxford!! Now that was a treat and a half. We stopped at two other sites first. One of them was a Neo-Lithic site, a white chalk drawing of a horse on a hillside. It was a super windy day in general but walking around on top of a hill for almost a half an hour looking for some chalk that we couldn’t even distinguish was a horse because it was huge and we were above it, it got a little chilly. There were a lot of sheep roaming around so when 40+ people are walking in all different directions, they tend to get a little confused. We had fun with it though. And the view was spectacular.


Our next stop was Blenheim Palace, a site known to be associated with Winston Churchill because it is where he was born and near where he is buried. We didn’t have much time there so the history of the estate was kind of thrown at us rapid fire, so if you want to learn more about it don’t ask too much from me. It was a very grandiose, beautiful palace and I enjoyed going through as much as we did.

Once we got to Oxford, we split into three groups and each had super awesome tour guides—except my group had the best one. Ted East, who used to be the Marshall of Oxford! That’s a big deal. Before that he was a superintendent of one of the colleges, and before that was in the Scottish Regiment! Basically, the coolest old guy ever. The best part was that after the tour was over and all the groups kind of ended up in the same area, he went up to one of our professors and told him that we were one of the best groups he’s ever taken around Oxford and that he loved us. That really meant a lot and we were sad to say goodbye to him. Oxford itself was ridiculous—I have no chance of ever going there myself, but how cool would that be! Ted took us around to see different quads and colleges within the university, showing us where different famous people lived, different movies were shot (there were two Harry Potter spots that we got to see, just sayin’—embarrassingly enough, I called which scenes they were before he even told us). The experience was unforgettable.

What made it even better was knowing that one of my high school English teachers somewhat recently got accepted into a Master’s program at Oxford! She’s been a big influence in my academic career and one of the reasons that I’m an English major, that I love literature and art, and that I got into this Study Abroad! So basically Ms. Duffy, you’re awesome.

Today, I went to the Portobello market for the last time! Got breakfast, fought through the thick crowds of Christmas shoppers, and enjoyed a clear, crisp morning! After that, one of my peers and I made our way to the Tate Britain museum to see a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition as part of one of our English classes. I really like the Pre-Raphaelite art, probably another thing I picked up from Duffy’s English classes. I got to see Ophelia, by Millias (https://www.google.co.uk/search?num=10&hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=918&bih=872&q=ophelia+millais&oq=ophelia&gs_l=img.3.2.0l10.1166.2655.0.4585.7.5.0.2.2.0.84.389.5.5.0...0.0...1ac.1.-a5onQLxVrI) , in real life! And a few other ones I really like, The Lady of Shalott, by Hunt, (https://www.google.co.uk/search?num=10&hl=en&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=918&bih=872&q=the+lady+of+shalott+holman+hunt&oq=the+lady+of+shalott&gs_l=img.1.5.0l10.665.3223.0.5760.19.14.0.5.5.0.144.1108.12j2.14.0...0.0...1ac.1._cviFiNX7_Q ) being one of them. We also got to see a collection of Turner paintings, an artist we studied in our Music class.

We stopped by the Christmas Market on the South of the Thames, right under the Hungerford Bridge. Then, a couple other girls joined up with us to go up on the LONDON EYE. It was so much fun!! If you’re ever in London, go on the Eye, otherwise you don’t experience it fully. It was so amazing. We went in the mid-afternoon, when the sun was beginning to set, and the views—oh the views. Cameras do it no justice. And just so you know, I am still scared of heights.
I spent my last Saturday night at the Old Swan pub, across the street from the Notting Hill Gate Tube stop, where I go on a daily basis. No worries, I just got a burger and chips. Well, and water.
Sorry about the lack of pictures, the internet...I'll try to get some up next week!

This next week is my last week here! Monday and Tuesday are our finals and one of those nights I will be attending the Nutcracker! Wednesday is the program’s scheduled temple trip that my friend and I are heading since we’ve already gone. Thursday will basically be an all-day packing extravaganza. Friday, I’ll be heading to the airport early in the morning to fly back home for Christmas!

 

There ya go.

 

 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

oklahoma city, oklahoma.


Life isn't just approaching quickly—it is right here, right now.

“Family Home Evening is the only argument that begins and ends with prayer” –President Kerr (you’ll know who that is by the end of this post)

 Thanksgiving break happened November 19th-24th. No classes, no food provided, no structure, or anything! I stayed in the London Centre and it was really fun! Well, I didn’t stay IN the Centre the whole time, but instead of Ireland, I was here. Either way, I had lots of fun.

Monday, the 19th, we went on another walk, this time through Chelsea. It was brisk, windy day that was warmed up a bit by dinner at a pub around the corner from the Centre, called the Champion. I love pub food, just so you know. I mean food is great in general, but pub food is wonderful.  That night a few of us had a makeshift FHE (Family Home Evening) and made a ‘thankful chain’, where we made a paper chain and on each link, individuals would write personalized notes on what they are grateful for. It was a great bonding experience and I really appreciated the time that I was, and am, able to spend with these wonderful people.

Tuesday, the 20th, we went on another walk through Mayfair and it passed the US Embassy! That was really cool to see, considering I hadn’t seen it yet. That night I went to the Queen’s Palace Theatre to get FIFTH ROW SEATS to see Les Misrables. It was really good; I’d never seen it before. Actually, I’ve never been to any of these shows before, but the majority of them I’ve done choir medley’s to, this one included.

Wednesday, the 21st, we went to the Lyceum Theatre to see The Lion King, the most exciting and interactive musical I’ve seen yet. The props were the best part—they had all sorts of crazy animal props including giraffes, elephants, birds, antelopes, etc. Some of the birds were at the end of strings on the top of really long poles and were swung around above the audience. Some of the antelopes were small wooden figures that were attached to a bicycle wheel and when it was spun, the antelopes moved as though they were galloping. It was way cool!
First row in the Royal Circle! This was our view and it was perfect.
Thursday, the 22nd and Thanksgiving, a group of about six of us were able to go to the London Temple to do Baptisms. It took about an hour and a half via train to get there and about an hour to get back. It was beautiful. The grounds are apparently the third largest Temple grounds in the world, after New Zealand and Oakland, if I remember correctly. The Temple workers were wonderful and I think we were the only members there who weren’t working at the Temple. They picked us up and drove us back to the train station, making it easier and cheaper for us. It was wonderful and we even get to go again on the 12th as a full program!


We got to the Centre just in time for Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by my music professor and his wife! It was all soo good and I loved it. Yay food.

Friday, the 23rd, a few other girls and myself got dinner at Byron’s (which if you ever are over here, go there) and then meandered to see Tower Bridge. It is so gorgeous and right next to the Tower of London. It’s not a particularly large bridge but we took our time to cross it. We struggled navigating the buses since we usually use the Tube but eventually were able to find our way back to the Centre.
There would be more pictures...but the internet hates me.

Saturday was mostly uneventful. Went to Portobello Market and then that evening accompanied my friend to her Stake Conference. Even though I’m technically assigned to a different Stake, she didn’t want to go alone since the majority of the other students had other plans or were travelling elsewhere. I am so glad I went—the last two speakers, the Kerrs, were a couple from Scotland and OHMYGOODNESS if I wasn’t already a big fan of the Scots, I sure am now. They were both so feisty, hilarious, and had such strong testimonies. I would’ve loved for them to keep going for another hour each of speaking and I would’ve been fine with that. If you’re interested in hearing more about it, email me or something. I would love to tell more about that meeting here, but I need to catch up. I’ve been slacking hardcore.

Sunday was church—my ward is still wonderful and I love attending with the members.

The 26th was a scheduled day trip to Hampton Court Palace, known for having housed King Henry VIII. It was a lovely estate, very large, and very pretty gardens. It was all the way out in Surrey! Any Harry Potter Fans out there? This is just a pre-curser to what is about to come your way. Just keep reading.

The 27th, that Tuesday, was a day for another walk, through Whitehall and the Pall Mall (pronounced pal mal). It ended in front of Buckingham Palace, which I had yet to see! So now I can say I’ve actually been to London. That evening a few other girls and I went to Tinseltown for Tinseltown/Temple Tuesday to get our weekly milkshakes.

The 28th, we went to Westminster Abbey! It’s so amazing how dense the city is, how close everything is to each other. It’s a completely walkable city. Anyway, I say that because you can see Westminster is within sight of the London Eye, Big Ben, and the Thames. That night, I went to the Prince Edward’s Theatre to see Jersey Boys! Another musical where I did a medley in choir for in high school, so singing along was so much fun. It’s the story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and it was not only really exciting but also informational! It was awesome and there was a standing ovation at the end which led to an encore performance of one of the songs. This is one of the biggest things I’ll miss—just going to shows. It’s so much fun.

The 29th, Thursday, I went with three of the other students to, wait for it, wait for it…

Warner Bros Studios Harry Potter Tour.

It was literally magical. I would go again. It had full sets from the movies, props from all eight movies, costumes worn by a great number of actors and actresses, and so many other super awesome things. I had butterbeer! Again. I had it in Florida at the Harry Potter world in the summer of 2011. It was still delicious. But here they had the Dursley’s house, the bridge at Hogwarts, the Knight Bus, Hagrid’s motorcycle, the chess pieces, the model of Hogwarts Castle that they use for shots that would be ‘flying over’ the school, and even more than that. It was crazy and I don’t think I stopped smiling the entire time. I was in complete bliss—this is my childhood. Harry Potter was my first chapter book and I remember I would reread them SO many times (an undisclosed double digit number) and one time in 2nd grade my mom wouldn’t let me read them again until I read something else. My 2nd grade teacher asked me why I had a different book on my desk and I remember her laughing because of how sad I was explaining what happened.

Anywho. It was life-changing.

The 30th, Friday, we took a day trip to Chawton and Bath to see Jane Austen sites and the Roman Baths. It was actually really cool because we’d just read Persuasion for our English class and then went to where Austen lived for a decent amount of her life! In Bath, we went to a fashion museum, going through a couple centuries worth of fashion. And the Roman Baths were really cool even though they smelled funny and there was even a spot where you could try some of the clean water and it tasted like nasty. Apparently that’s what water tastes like before the minerals are taken out—it was mostly iron that I could taste and it was warm. Double nasty. I prefer good old Northwest glacier water. Bath had a really cool Christmas market, and I walked with one of my friends to see the Royal Crescent just down the street from the Royal Circus.

The 1st, yesterday, I went on another walk (I only have one more I need to do!) and visited Pollock’s Toy Museum! It was small but showed toys from all over the world going back even to ancient Egyptian times! At least one stone mouse with a moving wooden tail and mouth. It was really interesting to see how much toys have changed and how much styles and time periods affect those kinds of things.

On the walk, we came to a shopping area called Leadenhall Market and there was a little stage and microphones in front of some of the Christmas decorations. There was music from the Harry Potter movies going on from the speakers but there wasn’t anyone on the stage or anything, so we didn’t really know what was going on. I was getting a picture with the tree and market when an actor dressed as Dumbledore comes out of nowhere and hops in the picture with me! Turns out it was a local group doing little shows in the area and they were doing a skit and a lady was dressed up as McGonagall and a guy dressed as Harry Potter. He mocked me while they were doing the show, mainly because it was super interactive anyway, but I felt special.

Today was the first day that the Victoria line, the metro train that I take to church, failed me. It was fine when we left and then we were halfway to the stop where our building is and it got suspended. So we ended up going back to the Centre and then attended a later meeting at a building we could just walk to. AKA the Singles Ward. Yikes.

So, I apologize for the excess of words and lack of pictures. I come back the 14th, 12 more days. This week will be fairly busy, but we’ll be done with classes on Thursday. Friday is a day trip to Oxford. Saturday I am planning to go to the Portobello Market for the last time and then the London Eye with a small group of other students. Sunday will be my last time in my ward here. Next Monday and Tuesday are finals and one of those nights I will be going to see a ballet, the Nutcracker. Next Wednesday is the big group Temple trip and Thursday is going to be packing and any last minute priorities.
I would like to make a quick shout out to my dear friend, Preston Pierce. He just got called to the Oklahoma City, Oklahoma mission, Spanish speaking! He reports to the MTC on January 23rd, 2013! I am so excited for him and know he will be such a wonderful missionary! I am proud of him and can't wait to tell him that in person!

Time has always been an interesting concept to me. I feel as though I’ve been here for a very, very long time but at the same time, it has flown by.

 

There ya go.

 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

a horse named louise.


Life is not complete unless you play soccer.

So, after much careful deliberation and consideration, there has been a change of plans for this week. It is Thanksgiving Break and we don’t have classes all week! I was planning to go to Ireland with some of the girls in the program but we decided it would be just fine to stay here in London. It gives me more time to explore as well as an excuse to come back in the future!

So, that Wednesday we got to Edinburgh (if I remember correctly…) and were able to explore a bit before it got too late. It is such a beautiful city, its relatively small and straight cobblestones everywhere.

The next day, we got a tour in the morning from a BYU alumni living in the area. We mostly saw Harry Potter sites—for example, The Elephant House, the cafĂ© where J.K. Rowling first started writing the series. After the tour we went to Edinburgh Castle, where we could see all of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth, and it was so beautiful. It was super windy, so in my opinion, the weather was perfect. The castle was so awesome, we got a little tour that some of us just hopped into and followed the group. I love Scottish accents; they’re really hard to do. Try it, you’ll struggle.


I really loved Edinburgh. The people were really friendly, the city was walkable, and the sites were gorgeous. We went to a pub the second night and it was so fun! All of the pubs have cool backstories of how they got their names. The one we went to was called Maggie Dickson. She was hung in the square where the pub is built, along with quite a few other buildings, because she was accused of witchcraft. BUT when they buried her, she was actually still alive and was screaming to get out of the coffin. So they took her out and let her live because they decided it was the ‘will of God’ that she wasn’t actually killed. All the pubs apparently have some sort of story like that.

The 9th of November, we got to York earlier than we had anticipated so we got to walk around before it got too dark. The days are getting way shorter really quickly so daylight is getting sparse. Okay so that hotel we were at? BEAUTIFUL. It was such a nice commodity, especially having stayed in a hostel in Edinburgh; which wasn’t actually as bad or as scary as people were making it up to be. So the hotel was really nice and I could’ve stayed there another five nights.

But that evening, we walked around the medieval wall, explored some botanical gardens, found Shambles which is the oldest street in York apparently, got dinner at a Cornish Pasty shop, went to Evensong at York minster, and rode on the Wheel of York at night and the view was phenomenal. York is a really cool town…city? Either way, it has a lot to offer.

On our way back to London on that Saturday, we stopped in Haworth to see the Bronte house and in Derbyshire to see an old cotton mill. We’ll be reading Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte, for the big English class and for the smaller English class we just finished reading North and South, an industrial novel by Gaskell that involves a cotton mill. Hence why we stopped at those places. They were both really cool, but I was excited to get back to London. It was a long week.

The Church is still true and I love my ward. They have such strong testimonies and they’re so kind.

Monday, we went on a London walk after classes, through South Kensington just on the other side of Hyde Park. Tuesday, for the elective English class, we went to Kensington Palace to see the ‘Victoria Revealed’ exhibit. The palace is basically in Hyde Park so the walk there and back was gorgeous. The exhibit is all about Queen Victoria, which makes sense since that class is Victorian literature. The exhibit was so intense and I loved learning about her and her life and influence. The love story between her and Prince Albert is the most beautiful thing ever, and that’s coming from me. Not a romantic in the least. At most a closet romantic, but that’s still pushing it.

On our way back to the Centre, we walked through Kensington Gardens. I was with two of my friends and they had me jump so they could take a picture of it. They both got pretty good ones. My professor, who had just turned the corner, got the best one. How embarrassing.

Anyway. Wednesday, we went to the Tower of London! We saw the Crown Jewels, went through some really cool exhibits about the warfare back in the day, and enjoyed the general hype of being at another really old and famous castle-like structure.

Oh dear, it’s getting late. My word choice and sentences are getting worse and worse.

I’ll try to power through this.

Thursday, we had classes basically all day. I love the Religion class—I am so uneducated in the history of the church and plan on working on that, hopefully actually retaining the information.

Friday, we had a day trip to the Anne Hathaway Cottage, wherever that was, and Shakespeare’s house and Nash’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon. It was really cool to actually see the town and walk the streets. The guides at the Hathaway house were so nice and really knew their stuff. In Stratford-upon-Avon, every little shop and store had something Shakespeare in it.

A lot of the experience here is just walking and seeing the places. It’s hard to explain how that feels, so that’s why I take an absurd amount of pictures. Most of which will never make it to this blog but we can pretend. Just imagine cobblestone streets and a mix of old and new buildings.

Saturday, a fairly large group of us went to Holland Park and played soccer. In the mud. Everyone fell at least once. Of course, I fell at least five times. I was told that I had the best falls, which I’m not sure if I should be proud of or not. I think it was just because the first time I fell, my legs swung out from underneath me and I literally was parallel to the ground with some crazy amount of hang time. Then I fell on my side and was COVERED in mud. It was ridiculously fun.

That evening I went with some girls (because that is all there is here. Just girls. I’m dying a little bit) to a Christmas market in South Bend, right by the Thames in sight of the London Eye and Big Ben. We window shopped, went on a carousel, ate some food, and had a really good time. I felt like I was five years old riding that carousel on a horse named Louise. Oh, the joys of being a college student.

Today, I went to church on my own because the two girls I usually go with couldn’t come. One wasn’t feeling well and the other went to a closer ward because her mom is in town. A lot of families of students are visiting since we don’t have classes. Anyway, church was great, as usual. There was a girl visiting one of the girls in the ward from Stockholm, Sweden. She’s originally from Provo but lives in Sweden for some reason. I went to talk to her and ask her if she knew my friend who is serving his mission in Stockholm. Well turns out, though she doesn’t know him, she knows one of my friends in the program! Small world! My friend on his mission, Elder Dillon Papenfuss, was the front page of a local newspaper in Stockholm. It was all about missionaries, their lifestyle, and their work. I’m so proud of him and even wrote him last night!

London is wonderful. I stay up talking with some of the greatest people I’ve had the chance to meet; I see world famous sites, walk some of the oldest streets in the area, experience places, cuisines, and opportunities I never thought I would. It’s crazy to think that I only have less than a month left here!

So no one has asked any questions about anything so I’m assuming that I’m covering most of my bases here. Really, feedback is appreciated. If you want to know more about something, ASK! And I really tried to upload pictures...but the internet is soo spotty. I apologize. I know since there aren't pictures that only two or three people will actually read this post to here. I appreciate you for that.

25 days until I come home. 36 days until Christmas. 41 days until 2013. 84 days until my 20th birthday.

Man, I’m getting old.

There ya go.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

lake district.

 
Life is a perfect time to go skinny dipping.
 
So, these aren't really in chronological order... But they kind of are. For the most part. Also there are some from this past week that I haven't posted about yet but you can just enjoy them anyway. Sorry about the scatterbrained nature of this post but I am struggling right now and can't think of all the pictures I've been wanting to post up so I just picked some!
 
 
Dover Castle!

Fulham v. Everton football match! They tied and went into overtime. Soccer is where it's at.

Finally got on one of the lions...

M&M world! It was giant and it was awesome.

After we died our hair! You can't really tell in this picture but you can in some of these next ones.
Preston Temple, in Northern England! It was wonderful to be there and I can't wait for our day trip to the London temple!

Our walking tour of Preston, England. This is near the spot where the first baptisms were performed in the UK.

This is the house where President Gordon B. Hinckley lived when he was here.

Castlerigg Stone Circle formation on our way to Edinburgh today! One of my better poses...

Hadrian's wall! These girls are so amazing.

The other day when we went on a walk in Ambleside. SO COOL! This was recommended to us by our professors and it wasn't very hard, but slightly long. It was one that Wordsworth apparently went on while he lived here.

Also on our walk. Again, one of my better poses...
We're at our Bed and Breakfast in Ambleside! It was quaint, perfect, and I loved it.
 
This isn't a whole lot of detail but Monday morning we left and stopped in Preston to see the temple and other church history sites. It was really cool to see and hear about what happened here. Then we went to Ambleside, in the Lake District, and stayed there two nights. I would go there again in a heartbeat, it was gorgeous. No wonder Wordsworth is such a boss. Mostly we went on walks in the town, and on suggested hikes, and went to a Wordsworth workshop in Dove Cottage with important and really accomplished scholars. Dream come true right there. And in the LAKE DISTRICT no less.
 
This morning we left and made our way to Edinburgh, Scoland, stopping at Castlerigg Stone Circle where it was muddy, Hadrian's Wall where it was raining, and Carlisle for lunch. It was so much fun!We're here for tonight and tomorrow night, then off to York Friday morning for a night.
 
I am living the life. I am so happy to be here. Please feel free to ask questions or make requests of what you want to hear more about or what pictures you would want to see more of, etc. Let me know!
 
 

 
 
Obviously I was really excited about seeing Phantom. But really, I was. I feel obligated to see the movie now, but I don't think it would be as good. Oh well.

There ya go.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

black cherry.


Life is full of unexpected events.

A lot happened yesterday so I decided to share it all now before we head up North tomorrow morning.

Saturday was one of the best days I’ve had here so far. We started our day by finishing the theatre walk. Well, we stopped by Ben’s Cookies, a talked up bakery shop that we obviously had to try. It exceeded expectations.

We started near Trafalgar Square at M&M world. It is the largest M&M store in the world, supposedly. It was rival to Disneyworld as the happiest place on earth. The music was fun, the entire place inside and out was brightly colored, and I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time we were in there. So really, for a largely decent amount of time. It was literally a kid in a candy shop feeling, as well as situation.

We walked through Trafalgar Square and got pictures with the lions, of course. I wish it would’ve been recorded how pathetic and ridiculous I looked as I struggled to get up on top of the lion. After at least ten minutes I ended up getting there…and facing the wrong way.


Eventually I got turned the right way, with some difficulty, and then we continued on our way. The next area we were in was London Chinatown—it smelled amazing and it was so cool to see the extent of the variety of cultures that London has.

From there we made our way to Fulham via double-decker buses for the Fulham v. Everton football match. You must realize that I LOVE soccer. Football. Whatever. Either way, it’s the world’s favorite sport. It’s my favorite sport. I’ve already bought a soccer ball here and plan on picking it up again once I get back Winter semester, as well as continuing trying to play in Hyde Park every so often. We’ve only been able to do that once, but when we did, it was SO much fun. There were only seven of us and it was completely muddy and full of potholes.  How many times did I fall? Whatever you guessed, it was definitely more.

Here would be an awesome picture of me at the game. But the pictures just won't load. Super lame.

ANYWAY. Yeah, soccer is the best thing ever and I absolutely love going to games, let alone a premier league game in London. You remember how I said to get to my heart, you go through my stomach? Well, another way is to take me to soccer games. Then you’re set. Ooh, even better—get me food while at a soccer game.

The atmosphere was so energizing. The majority of the crowd was, on a scale from slightly to stumbling, intoxicated. The conversations I overheard were interesting, the noise level was invigorating, and the game was SO AWESOME! They never challenge each other, (and let’s be real, that’s on more of a lower level of skill—why risk losing possession when you can pass? But at the same time that’s when the good stuff happens) and when they actually do, they flop like crazy. And that is just annoying. Besides that, it reminded me that soccer guys are the way to go. I already knew that but it was a nice reminder. Bonus, the ratio was finally in our favor! There were definitely more guys than girls in the stands. I think that was the first time since being here that that has happened. That added to the already soaring heights of excitement.

We got watery hot chocolate and some really freaking good cheeseburgers while we enjoyed watching one of the most wonderful spectacles ever.

We made our way back to the center via the buses and stopped for dinner along the way. Note to self and everyone else—when you go to a place called ‘Waffle Palace’, don’t get a Panini. Get a waffle.
Or a milkshake! Or both. Anything but a Panini.

Backstory really quick. For the past couple years, one of my closest friends has been telling me if I dye my hair again, I should try for an auburn or burgundy color. I always brushed it off, not really thinking I would want to go through that process again. One of my good friends here has been talking up about dying our hair next semester when we get back to BYU with a two month dye that just washes out over time. I agreed to this deal and we’ve been looking forward to it. BUT.

So during our walk that morning, we found a little convenience store that caught our attention so we stopped in it. We looked around and lo and behold—temporary hair dye, comes out in 28 washes.

My friend looked at me, looked at the dark brown hair dye, and back to me. I looked at her, looked at the black cherry hair dye, and looked back at her. EASY.

So when we got back to the center that night, we had a hair dying party.

You'll just have to skype me to find out what my hair looks like because the picture won't load.
That was my Saturday! I had so much fun!

Today was Fast Sunday and one of the best Sundays I’ve had here as well. This weekend just rocked. In my ward there were three boys who announced their mission calls—I’m pretty sure that was the entirety of the Young Men. But how cool is that! They’re all going to different missions within England. I’m so excited for them. I don’t know their names but I’m still so excited. AND there was a baby blessing! And the testimonies that were shared were amazing. I am so grateful for the people in my ward and the opportunity I have to see their strength as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They’re inspirational.

I was able to Skype for a couple hours with a good friend I made in Oregon from the summer after church and it was great! We hadn’t spoken in a while and it was fun to swap adventures, mine from London and other places we’ve been in Europe and his from his schooling and residing in Japan.

Tomorrow we are leaving to meander up north. I’ll be sure to try and blog quite a bit this week, if the internet permits.

Here are a few random things to know about where we are, what we do, and how we do it:

Tesco and Marcs and Spenser’s are the places to go grocery shopping. They’re close, cheap, and have the basics. If we want to go shopping for clothes of any kind, Primark is the place to go. It’s HUGE—imagine a classy Wal-mart without the crazies and cheap quality. Oxford Street has Primark and plenty more shopping opportunities.

I’ve still been keeping missionary hours to the best of my abilities and it’s worked out really well so far! I’ve also started preparing for a mission by reading Preach My Gospel and I love it.

We still take tour buses for day trips, though Peter is dearly missed. Bueno bars are one of the best chocolate bars ever. I really like Crunchies, too. It’s like honeycomb covered in chocolate. They have a lot more Cadbury chocolates here as well. Galaxy bars are also a prime choice. Pad Thai is delicious almost anywhere you go and it’s still one of my favorites.

The Tube is…an experience. It breaks down quite frequently, it gets overcrowded often, and is usually really hot. Some stations require you to go down two or three escalators to get to the train and there are ads everywhere for all sorts of things.

That’s all I can think of right now. I’m going to be in Scotland this week.

There ya go.

Friday, November 2, 2012

google.


Life is better lived conscientiously and right now—don’t wait for tomorrow on something you could start today.

Well, it’s been a while. Again.

So the twenty-seventh, last Saturday, we were invited by the local stake to participate in preparing a local private school to be re-painted. Quite a few of our program went and we cleaned classrooms, cleaned walls and windows, taped edges and window panes, and started the painting. It was really fun and it felt great to help out in the local community.

The one picture I'm actually able to upload and it's not even a cool one.

Sunday, I finally got to attend my own ward!! It was so exciting! It took about forty minutes to get there via the Tube. The church building is really small, at least compared to most buildings in the States.
Here would be a picture of the church building, but, again, the internet is awful.

It really was just a chapel and a hallway that went into classrooms. The ward is so wonderful and I didn’t even get the opportunity to talk with many of the members. Funny story! Well it’s not a haha-funny but oh-what-a-small-world kind of funny. One of the guys there introduced himself when we first arrived and asked who we are, where we’re from, etc. Turns out he’s from Kent, Washington and when I asked him if he knew any Self’s, he said, “Oh Adam and Chris? No, not at all.” I already knew he and I would be friends due to his blatant use of sarcasm. He apparently was in the same ward as them! Crazy.

Monday, we went on a walk for our class, after going to our music class of course. It was the ‘Legal London’ walk. Basically through the area of where law firms and schools are, lots of businesses and offices, lots of attractive men in nice, clean cut suits. It was great!

We stopped at the Guildhall Museum and I saw a statue that I just became obsessed with immediately. It’s called Mignon by E Roscoe Mullins, based off of a character in a Goethe novel, “Willem Meister’s Apprentice”. She was just so life-like, I felt as though she was just going to start talking to me at any moment. She was mesmerizing and I can’t say exactly what it was.
You should just Google her. This is where her picture would be.

So, I’ve never seen the movie Phantom of the Opera all the way through. Yet Tuesday night, I went and saw a play/musical performance of it at Her Majesty’s Theatre. It was so indescribably awesome. The singing was angelic; the music in general was just pulsing through the crowd; the entire auditorium was just fabulously decorated and I loved it.

There would be a picture of me at the Theatre here, but there's not.

On Wednesday, Halloween, we went on another walk. Well, at least we got most of it done. It was through the Theater District of London. We didn’t dress up in costumes, I feel as though we were touristy looking enough. It was a chilly day, very blue skies with plenty of wind, and we stopped by Starbucks to get pumpkin spice steamers—it’s kind of our thing right now. It’s just pumpkin spice and steamed milk. It tastes like autumn and warms up the soul.

On one side of a building we walked by had pictures and short biographies of famous and otherwise influential people. It was interesting to see history literally written on the walls of London. In the courtyard of the Somerset House there is the making of an outdoor ice skating rink. How cool is that!

Further along the walk we found Drury Lane but did not see the muffin man. Slightly disappointing but I got over it fairly quickly.

I took a picture with the sign. It's really exciting. And not here.

My favorite part of the walk was the Covent Garden area. The streets around the square had lights and other decorations strung across from building to building, preparing for Christmas. The square itself was lined with shops and had even more shops and stands in the middle of it. It was quite crowded and the air was extremely thick with excitement. In the back of the square was a giant Christmas tree! It was during the day so the lights weren’t on, but it was still gorgeous. And huge.

Yay Christmas!

We finished our day in Trafalgar Square at the National Gallery. We only were able to see a few rooms due to time constraints but it was fantastic nonetheless. We had to be back an hour before dinner so I could fulfill my 10 days of being a part of the kitchen crew! Basically, about six other students and I help set up for dinner and breakfast and do the cleaning up afterwards.

Thursday was full of academia. A mid-term, 19 chapters to read for another class, and going to our religion class to end up conducting the class before turning the time over to our teacher. In between, I was able to go on a run through Hyde Park. I’m sure you’re sick of my repetition of saying this but it was gorgeous. The sky was fairly clear and blue; the trees were all sorts of colors, partially or fully changed, some even completely bare already. I’m convinced that everyone here owns at least one dog and they’re all cute dogs. Even the ‘ugly’ ones are adorable. I’m hoping this trend will overflow to the States.

Today, we took a trip to Dover and Canterbury. In Dover we were just in the castle and it was awesome! It was exciting to be in the town where the poem Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold was based off of, considering I just studied it again in one of the English classes I’m in. We went on a tour of the old wartime tunnels underneath the castle. I couldn’t take any pictures but we learned a lot about what they were used for and the buildup they were a part of leading up to WWII. The castle itself was awesome—my apologies, I’m running out of adjectives due to how I always write these blogs late at night. Problems of a student in London, right? Anyway, my favorite part of the castle was being up in the tower. The view was spectacular and I loved the wind, despite the already cold day.

Google Dover Castle, too. Imagine I'm in every picture that uploads.

Canterbury was just as cool—we went to the Canterbury Cathedral and took a guided tour with a Colin Stevens, an older gentleman with a vast knowledge of the history of the town and cathedral. If you have never read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, I highly recommend it. It’s lengthy but certain stories are surprisingly, and sometimes scandalously, entertaining. Canterbury is, in short, a place where thousands of pilgrimages are made every year by people from all around the world. They come seeking miracles from visiting the crypt of Archbishop Thomas Beckett, one of the first Archbishops of the church when it was restored in whatever year that it happened. He was greatly revered in life and even still in death. His story was so interesting and I’m glad I got to hear it from someone who knew so much about it.

Google, again. Sorry guys, this isn't working out as nicely as I would've hoped.

I am so lucky to be here and am so grateful for this opportunity and those who’ve helped me to get here. Tomorrow we are going to a football match, Fulham v. Everton. Next week we have our week long trip up north, through parts of Scotland and northern England. The week after that we have classes, the next week is our Thanksgiving break, after that is our last two weeks of classes, and the last week is finals. That is a total of six more weeks here and only three of those weeks are going to have classes. Jealous?

There ya go.