Saturday, January 31, 2009

British Humor--It speaks the truth.

Hey Guys,
So some of you have asked about transportation around here and what its like. A comedian, Michael Mcintyre, explains it very well in one of his sketches. I wish I wcould say that it was an exaggeration but its pretty much spot on. Only watch the video 'til minute 5:30. The rest doesn't matter.
Here's the link:

Friday, January 30, 2009

Today I went to the British Museum. This one is most famous for housing the Rosetta Stone along with millions of other treasures. It's free of charge and self guided. Dani and I spent the afternoon looking at amazing artifacts. It was great. Here are some pictures of my favorites from the exhibits.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Today was the best day of orientation that I will ever have. We had an informational meeting where a few representatives came from some local organizations that can help us "get the best out of [our] stay." I was informed on a weekend trip that I have the opportunity to take this weekend eco trip to Wales. It sounds amazing where I will get to go hiking, kayaking and things like that. Then a man from STA Travel came to try and bribe us into using them for journey planning. Blah Blah Blah
Then came the exciting part. We went to a local diner down the street for lunch where I ate breakfast--which was borderline amazing! Oh, and breakfast is served all day here, so I was overjoyed to find out that fun fact. :)
Then we were led on a bus/ boat tour through London, Westminister, and Greenwich. On the bus we had a tour guide, Andrew, who told all sorts of historical facts about the buildings we saw. As you may know, I love fun facts! I think I was a tour guide in another lifetime. So went all through the city by bus and took our first stop at St. James Place/ Buckingham Palace. Here, I saw where Prince Charles lives, Green Park (Where the story goes the the wife of King Charles II ripped out all of the flowers on the ground after she found out he had given some to another woman--true or not there are still no flowers today, hence the name.) and Buckingham Palace (no queen today). We then hoped back onto our bus and drove all throughout the city. One of my favorite moments was when we turned onto Fleet Street! As you guys may know Fleet Street was helped made famous in the U.S. by Stephen Sondheim's musical, Sweeney Todd. I love Sweeney Todd. :) Yup. We then made our way through Westminister and then to Greenwich. Here we boarded our boat for our river tour on the Thames. From the river I saw the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, The London Eye, Parliament, and whole bunch of other places. It was great to see these during the day since I saw most lat night when we walked Thames Path. We got off the boat and were dropped off in front of Parliament. From here, we were to fend for our selves and find our own way home. It was sort of like army training where they drop you in the the middle of a foreign field and you have to find your way back to base camp. This turned out well because we were able to walk around and see Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, The National Portrait Gallery and many other locations. We then took the Tube back to Nido and relaxed for a bit. The Dani, Kyle, Jack and I decided we would go out for a pint. We headed off with no destination in mind and ended up stopping at London Pub. After there we wandered down the streets all the way to Soho, the neighborhood where the West End theatres are--pretty much back by Piccadilly. After walking about many streets we walked back to Nido to end the night.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Today four of us went down and walked part of Thames Path. Which follows the Thames River--obviously. Here are some cool photos i got. We walked past Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, Millenium Bridge, St. Paul's Cathedral, and saw the globe Theatre from across the river.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Day Two

Last night I had a mini orientation meeting where we got a tour throught the building and such. Afterwards a 6 of us decided to go check out a pub (Sorry Mom). It was Australia Day here yesterday which is a holiday where they celebrate Australia's independence...but is really just an excuse to drink. So we hung out there for a while and then headed home to get some much needed sleep.
So today started out with the first day of orientation. Met up with our neighbors, Jack and Kyle, and headed to North Campus. London Met has two campuses and this is the one where I will be taking all of my classes so it was nice to get a feel for the area. We went to King's cross station and got an oyster card that will serve as my tube/ bus pass for the next week or so until I can get the student one--which gives me an extra 30% off of travel. Once we got to our destination it toook only minutes to spot the building--it was painted bright purple (the school's color)--we are pretty sure they do this so that drunk Americans can find it. Nido is decorated with flashy colors on the outside as well, so we figure that is the intention. Orientation went well. I have my class timetable now. I have 1 class on monday and 3 on tuesday...and that's it. Jealous? So that gives me a five day weekend which I am will not be complaining about anytime soon.
After the orientation meeting Dani, Jack, Kyle and I decided to walk back to Nido. So we explored/ got lost in Islington, a borough near where I live. After a little while we stopped in one of the little food joints to get some food. London's version of fast food is amazing. In the U.S. this usually means that food is ready for you and sloppy. Here is just means the speed in which they make it. I ate fish and chips, because you have to right? We then headed home, took a break, and then ventured out for more exploring. We headed off to Regent's Park, which was gorgeous, and saw some cool plants/ animals there. The ducks and geese are much friendlier. In the U.S. I would be afraind of an attack from a goose but here they are very pleasant--must be the environment, very proper. ;) It's great to be in winter and see green on the ground instead of brown. We then headed over to Abbey Road and saw the studio where the Beatles recorded their album. The wall out in front is where everyone writes and graffittis, so we left our marks as well. After that we headed home to give the feet some rest. Throughout this entire adventure we kept getting lost. London doesn't believe in the "you are here" signs on public placed maps and they don't really like street signs either...But it was still a fun day and we saw some cool stuff.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Landing in LondonTown--A very detailed version

Ok where to start?
Well getting ready for this trip was an adventure the last few days. I became a neurotic wreck by the time it was time to leave Mauston. I was constantly rechecking my bags to make sure everything was there. Then my dad and I headed off to Chicago.
We arrived to the airport which easily became a scene from European Vacation, with Chevy Chase. (the scene where they are stuck going around that circle by Big Ben) My father missed my exit to the correct terminal the first time so we went ALL the way around it one more time.
Checking in at Chicago was a breeze and the lovely woman that checked my bags made some small talk with me about how Tina Turner had been there last week. Apparently she is a gorgeous lady with amazing legs--just how'd you expect her to look, I guess. I was nervous about finding the correct gate but was easily assured when I heard the British accents at my gate.
The flight was what I epected. As you may know, flying has never been my favorite. For me, a flight from Madison to Detroit is too long, so you can imagine my thoughts on and international, 7 1/2 hr. flight. But overall, it wasn't bad. I sat next to a very nice guy that was kind, curtious, and British. Don't get any ideas guys--he was kinda above my age range. :) The food was decent. I was happy when my vegetables with dinner were hot AND still crunchy. I was a bit disappointed by my movie selection. I end up watching 3 episodes of the Office and Vicki Christina Barcelona. I have no idea what that movie was--not the right choice when picking something that you don't really want to pay attention to. But if you like Spanish scenary, language, actors, and movies with no substance...well, then it is the perfect choice for you!
My flight was ahead of schedule so we circled above London for about 15 min. before landing, which was not a very nice thing to do. Tease me as I am on the edge of my seat with excitement. Jerks. We then landed and I walked through a long hallway until I got to customs. This part scared me. If you didn't know, about a week ago I had a dream that they wouldn't let me into the country because they thought I was a terrorist, and that irrational fear was coming back. I made a fool of myself when they asked me where I was from. I went into too much detail of where WI is. You see, unlike the U.S., people know there geography over here and everyone I have met knew exactly where I was from. But, I made it through customs in one piece, waited anxiously for my luggage, and then found a girl from my program. Dani was on my flight and I recognized her from LaCrosse, so we quickly became buddies as we then searched for Rob. Rob was the man in charge of tracking us down and making sure we didn't get lost. We found him easily, learned we were the firsts to arrive, and then waited for the rest of our group. 2 hrs. later our group was complete with a clusters of students from New York and a cluster from Philadelphia. Yes, out of a group of ~25, we were the only 2 represented the Midwest. After meeting them we kinda laughed at each other's accents. A girl asked about getting a water and I almosted died. She was from Jersey, so you can imagine how that sounded.
After everyone was rounded up, we took a coach bus to Nido, my building of residence. It took us a 45 min drive through rush hour to get to the building. Along the way, we saw the most amazing architecture. We drove past a neighborhood that was straight out of Mary Poppins. I half expected chimney sweepers to start dancing and singing on the rooves. A lot of the houses are made out of brick and were gorgeous.
We arrived at Nido and went through the check-in process. This wasnt very stressful but I was anxious about seeing my room. During this process I found out the Dani and I are roommates so we had a laugh at that--"what are the odds." I am now getting settled in and have a meeting in a few minutes here. So I will end this one. Thanks for making it this far down and reading. There will be more to come. :)

Love, Love