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.3.2.0l10.1166.2655.0.4518.104.22.168.22.214.171.124.3126.96.36.199...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.1.5.0l10.665.3223.0.57188.8.131.52.184.108.40.206.1108.12j2.14.0...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.