Saturday, June 19, 2010

The End...

Well, I can’t believe this is it…my last blog. Maybe not forever, I actually kind of like this blogging thing so I think I might just have to keep it up. Let me start over. Well, I can’t believe this is it…my last London blog. And oddly enough I am writing it at home, in the good ol US of A. Weird.

So Tuesday was a really fun day. We got up, ate breakfast, and decided to head to Oxford Street for one last time. We spent the morning/afternoon shopping, playing in the raddest toy store ever, eating in a pub, and just walking around talking. We also went to Portobello Market one last time, and Tesco Metro one last time to buy treats to take home. For dinner we decided to go to Hard Rock Café. The Café in London is the original Hard Rock so that’s pretty cool. I ordered a hamburger, and it was the best hamburger I’d had all trip; probably because it tasted American ha ha. When we finished dinner we booked it over to Westminster where the whole group was meeting to do the London Eye. The Eye was so cool! The second day I was in London we went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We got to climb to the very top and see all of London—it was beautiful. But I like the London eye more. Seeing London from above after spending six weeks there was so much more meaningful. Sometimes I would get frustrated on this trip because I never knew where I was in relation to anything else. I would go underground, hop on the tube, and when I came back up I would be somewhere new. I loved standing on the London eye piecing together every site that I’d been, every building I’d visited, and every street I’d been on, like a puzzle. It was also fun to be with the whole group one more time. It’s strange that coming in to this trip I did not know anyone, and 6 weeks later they are all some of my best friends. When we got off the London eye the sun had set, but I wanted to see Big Ben one more time so I went and sat for a few minutes and just looked at how massive and beautiful that structure really is. It is incredible.

After we got back to the center it was pretty late…but not a single person was in bed. Nobody wanted to go to sleep and miss a minute of our last night there. I also still had some packing to do and some last minute pictures to take. It was such a surreal night. One minute we were laughing, the next we were crying as someone headed out the door to catch their plane. My plane left at 9:00 so I left for the airport at 5 in the am. I thought by the time this trip ended I would be ready to come home, but if I am being honest, I did not want to leave. I realized though as I was sitting in the London Center, with several people gone already and several people asleep, that I did not want to stay at the center unless I was surrounded by the people who had made this trip so meaningful to me. When 5 am rolled around I was pretty sad to leave…I really can’t believe how fast 6 weeks went by—how much I was able to do, how much I learned, and how much fun I had. It was a perfect trip. After a taxi and a train we finally made it to the airport. My bag was too heavy so I ended up wearing like 3 jackets, oh and my pants ripped right when we got there so that was fun. Ha ha. You think after being up for 48 straight hours that I would be able to sleep a little. Think again. I didn’t get an ounce! Note to self: take an ambien next time. A 9 hour flight and then a 4 hour flight is miserable when you don’t sleep! But eventually I made it home to SLC, thank goodness. It was so fun to come down the escalator and see my family waiting there for me. When I gave them all a hug, it felt like I never left.

So I guess that’s all. To conclude this blog I just want to say thanks to everyone who helped me get to London; and thanks to all of you who read about my adventures! It was nice to know that even though I was across the world there were a whole bunch of people at home who loved and missed me! So thank you everyone, and most of all thank you London. It was a life changing experience that I will never forget. Xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Top 10 things I learned in London:

1. Look up

2. Do not cut in the Queue

3. Socialized medicine stinks.

4. Always bring an umbrella

5. 40 strangers can become your friends, and 7 of those friends can become your best friends.

6. Smile no matter what the day might bring

7. Eat at least one piece of chocolate every day

8. Americans are clamorous…embarrassing as it may be, sometimes you just have to embrace it

9. Work hard. Play hard. Sleep hard.

10. When in doubt, just hop on the tube.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gardens, Snipers, and studying!

Wow, what a fun last couple of days I have had…though they are kind of a blur. No sleep + a hectic schedule = a confused Brianna! I think I last left off at the Kew Gardens, so I guess I will take it from there. On Friday after class we went to Kew Gardens. The Kew Gardens are the Royal Botanic Gardens in England. The grounds are filled with glass houses containing all sorts of unique plants found in various locations throughout the world. There are lots of other sites to see within the Gardens as well. It was so nice to go and spend an afternoon outside in a quiet, peaceful area. And when I say peaceful, that is minus the peacock that tried to attack me, the rambunctious friends I was with, and the bees that seemed to follow me everywhere. After Kew Gardens we caught a train back home and made it just in time to see the Broadway production of Sister Act! All in all, a successful day :)

Saturday was the Trooping of the Colors (aka a parade for the Queen’s birthday). I got to see the Queen! And let me tell you, she has the finest back of a head that I have ever seen. Confession: That is the only part of the queen I saw! Oh well, it was still fun to be there! The coolest part of it all I would have to say were the Snipers stationed atop Buckingham Palace, ready to nail anyone at any moment. Talk about intense.

Unfortunately the rest of Saturday was spent studying. For all those who think the London Study Abroad is all fun and games…think again, because it is most definitely not! Classes are beastly and there is always homework and studying to be done! So as many of you know, I never stress. So naturally, I wasn’t worrying about finals at all. Translation: I was freaking out!!! I stayed up super late on Saturday trying to get some good studying in, and had to spend any free moment on Sunday studying because finals were on Monday. Before I get to finals though I will tell you about Sunday. It was such an awesome day. I went to my ward for the last time…It’s so weird how attached you can get to some people in such a short amount of time. The members of my ward are all pretty recent converts but they are so faithful and have such pure testimonies. I learned so much from them in the 5 Sundays I had with them. I was pretty sad to say bye to my Young Women. They are the sweetest girls and we had so much fun together…if I am ever back in London I am most definitely paying them a visit. After church I studied for a few hours but then it was devotional, dinner time, and fireside. For the fireside we just had a testimony meeting. Haha, I felt sorry for the 6 guys in our study abroad, there was way too much estrogen in one room, and more than a few tears were shed, to say the least. But it was such an awesome night and everyone felt the spirit so strongly.

So today (Monday) was a stressful day. My first final went from 9-11, and my second went from 3-5. So my day consisted of hard core studying and test taking. Sounds like fun right?! But I made it through alive! I have no idea what my grades are going to be, so keep your fingers crossed! To finish the day off though we had a pizza party, Bens cookies for dessert, and went and saw the movie Letters to Juliet. For such a long stressful day, I’d say it was finished off quite nicely!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Holy Hanna

Holy Hanna, I am so behind on blog posting it is not even funny. Somebody please remind me to breath because we have been so busy around here I think I am forgetting! Do you think that explains the blue-ish tint my skin has had as of late, and the weird light headedness that keeps appearing. Ha ha just kidding, I am fine; actually more than fine, I am great! I seriously can’t get over how lucky I am that I get to be here having this incredible experience. I wish I had more time to blog so I could give some justice to everything I have been doing as of late, but since I don’t I’m just going to have to roll with it. It is about 1:00 in the am right now, why am I choosing to blog in the wee hours of the morning? Maybe it’s because I am so dedicated to keeping everyone updated that I couldn’t resist. Or maybe it is because I am sick of studying for finals and in an attempt to avoid the inevitable hours of studying that lie ahead of me I am choosing to do something else! I think it might be the latter of the two. So basically school is intense right now. We have finals on Monday and they are going to be beastly! I really don’t have much time, my school work is calling my name… so I am going to make this fast (and by fast I mean this entry will probably a short book rather than a novel like it usually is!)…here goes nothing!

“They must all go to Brighton. That is the place to get husbands. What a pity it is, mamma, we did not all go. ”

–Lydia Bennett, Pride and Prejudice.

Well folks I went to Brighton, and luckily Lydia was wrong because I came home husbandless. She did have one thing right though…it is a pity not everyone can go to Brighton, because it was so much fun! The train ride was about an hour but I didn’t mind because I was headed to the coast!! Before we went to the beach we took a tour through the Royal Pavilion. The Royal Pavilion is where George IV resided and where Queen Victoria and other Royals frequently visited. Apparently when the building was designed, Asian flavor was IN because the inside of this house is like taking a walk through China land. I have never seen anything so spectacular. The first room you walk in was the most elaborately decorated space I have ever seen. Every inch was covered in some kind of gold, leaf, intricate design, bamboo, paint, etc. And the Chandelier was ridiculous!!! It was 30 feet long and weighed over 1 ton! Wow baby! The whole house was similarly decorated and I found myself manually closing my mouth several times because everything we saw was so jaw-dropping. If you are ever in Brighton, take the tour!! After the tour…it was BEACH time! The Beach in Brighton was weird, instead of sand it was covered in rocks about the size of eggs. The water was frigid so I didn’t swim but I did lay out for a bit, which was stupendous. All I could think about as a soaked in the Vitamin D was how excited I am for OBX (only 25 more days, but who is counting?)! It felt so good to lay in the sun away from the city for a bit. Overall I would say Brighton was a big success!

Okay, I’, trying to think what else we did this week. I just asked a few people that I’m sitting with where we went on Monday this week and the replied “Dover, Canterbury, etc.” and I didn’t believe them because it feels like we went there ages ago, I can hardly remember it! But alas, we did go to Dover. Dover was cool; we got to see an ancient Roman Lighthouse. I love light houses so it was cool to see one of the very first ones…I think they said the Lighthouse was built in 70 AD so not too long after Christ was on the earth. Isn’t that crazy? The lighthouse was next to a cathedral that was built about the same time; and the two of them sat on the edge of a massive cliff. Standing on the edge of the cliff and looking across the ocean was neat because you can see France! I most definitely saw the Eifel Tower...and I am most definitely joking. It is nice to pretend though! So we also went and saw the ruins of Canterbury that day and that was way cool as well.

Other items on the agenda this week: The Banqueting House and Hampton Court. The Banqueting house is exactly what it sounds like…a banqueting house. It is a huge great hall that contains the most incredibly painted ceiling by Rubens. The Banqueting House is where King Charles I was beheaded and it is also where James I ruled. Hampton Court was a train ride away and totally worth the travel time! We spent the day walking through the palace, getting lost in a garden maze, looking at orange trees and the biggest grape vine in the world, and watching a reenactment of a wedding. Overall, I would say it was a success!

I can’t believe I only have about 1 week left in London…but I won’t think about that right now, I am going to enjoy every minute that I have left here…until next time, Cheers!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oh Gus Gus...

Oh Gus Gus…what have you done? You may be gone but your memory lives on; and so do all your stinking friends... go away! Last night at about 2 in the am my room awoke to what appeared to be a Mouse Dance Party. Someone had left a little bit of food in a bag at the base of her bed and it was here that the dance party was stationed. There were at least 5 mice squeaking and crawling and having the time of their lives. It is official: the London Center is experiencing an infestation of mice. And to top it off, this morning I opened my drawer only to find mouse terds everywhere! I feel physically ill just thinking about it. So while I sleep at night little rodents crawl all over my clothes, run around my room, have a dance party (they were having a rockin time last night, let me tell you) and do who knows what else. I think I just threw up in my mouth. As this study abroad winds down I realize how many things I am going to miss…but Gus Gus and his friends are not one of them! Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. Tonight I will just have to put my headphones on and try not to think about the little rodents scurrying around below me (or on me…ah!) as I fall asleep. Gulp. To all you little mice out there—stay away!!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

the last 3 day trip...

I think I am in a state of denial. We just returned from our last 3 day trip. I can’t believe how quickly this study abroad is going by. At least our last trip was THE BOMB! No, I did not like spending over 20 hours on a coach; but on the bright side…our bus driver Zultan (yes that is his real name) was the man! Thank you Zultan for the jelly filled doughnuts, the yummy sweets, and for having the bluest eyes known to man (I may or may not have a small crush on Zultan haha) and no, I did not enjoy getting zero sleep; but I did love our awesome view of the lake as seen from our hostile window. No, I did not like the sweltering heat and the beads of sweat dripping down my forehead for 3 days; but I did love walking everywhere without an umbrella and soaking up the vitamin D my skin has been deprived of for far too long. And no I do not like that this trip is quickly winding down; but I love that I just had the best 3 days!

We left bright and early (weird…I am kind of experiencing déjà vu with that phrase…maybe that’s because we ALWAYS leave bright and early!) on Wednesday and set out for Haworth, home of the Bronte sisters. For those of you who don’t know, the Bronte sisters are the authors of the ever famous novels Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. We read Wuthering Heights in class while we’ve been here…and if I’m being honest, I did not like it one bit. However, I will say that seeing that seeing the moors that were talked about so often in the novel was pretty incredible. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the book that I had such a hard time with. They were beautiful. Next it was back to the coach...and we began making our way to the Lake District. The Lake District was gorgeous. I have never seen such clear water in my life. I could see every dead fish, lost sock, and beer bottle ever dropped. Haha okay that sounds gross, but the water really was pretty. It looked glassier than glass looks! I think all you water skiers out there would have appreciated it even more than I did. While in the Lake District I visited Dove Cottage (William Wordsworth’s house), took a leisurely stroll along the lake, ate dinner, and spent the evening relaxing on the dock. And let me just say the Lake District has never ending light. At 11:30 it was still light outside…and by 4 in the am, the sun was already rising again—weird!

At the Bronte Sister's House

Dove Cottage

...wish i may, wish i might...

The Lake District

On Thursday we drove for a bit and started out the day with a short hike. Did I say short? I didn’t mean that…we got lost; so what was supposed to be a short hike became a long one in which multiple people got ticks (ew), someone passed out, and by the time we reached the end we were all sweating like crazy. But the end brought great a great reward which I was very “Hoppy” to see! Does the name Beatrix Potter ring any bells? To those of you who can’t hear the bells, let me enlighten you. Beatrix Potter was the author of Peter Rabbit! Her house was so cute and it was fun to see the pieces of furniture, scenery, rooms, etc. that appear in her illustrations. I kept my eyes peeled for Peter, but apparently he had other plans because he didn’t make an appearance. Sad day. After we said goodbye to Beatrix and Peter, it was off to Liverpool. On our way, we got to stop at the Preston Temple. Oh my gorgeous. It was so great to get off the coach and spend a little time just looking at the temple and feeling the spirit. I wish we had had time to go inside, but i am still grateful to have even seen the outside. It was seriously so beautiful. Liverpool was fabulous. First of all, we got to stay in a Hotel instead of a Hostel…boo yeah! Second of all, I was hit with Beatlemania! We went to this sweet museum called “The Beatles Story”. The whole thing was devoted to the life and lives of the Beatles and it was the coolest museum ever. I also went to the maritime museum where I spent some time in the titanic exhibit, and went and saw “The Cavern” where the Beatles first performed. There was also a really neat statue just on the coast of Liverpool which was actually a statue dedicated by the LDS church. Liverpool used to be one of the largest Sea ports in the world…it was here that most of our ancestors came to sail to America. It was a really neat experience to be able stand in the same place that so many devoted, faithful church members stood, as they were about to sail into an unknown future putting all of their trust in the Lord.
Beatrix Potters House

Preston Temple

Attempting to be artistic haha

Beatles Museum

Friday it was off to Wales to spend time in some pretty rad castles. The first castle we went to was the Beaumaris castle. We got to walk in and out of the whole thing and really get a feel for what it had been like in its prime. It was ginormous, and had this sweet moat going around the whole thing. It was three stories high, and was practically a maze, and I loved every second of it. After the castles we headed to Coventry where we visited another Cathedral. This cathedral was different than the others we have seen because it was a ruined cathedral. The ruins of St Michael's are the consequence of violence in our own time. In 1940, the city of Coventry was devastated by bombs dropped by the Luftwaffe. The Cathedral burned with the city, having been hit by several bombs. You can still see the remaining shards of glass in the windows. It was pretty cool.Beaumaris Castle

Coventry Cathedral

Well, I think that kind of sums up the 3 day trip. Obviously I never do the experiences I am having justice, but I try my best! It was so much fun, and as always I came home completely exhausted completely beat. In London that translates to completely ready to keep going going going! Following our three day trip it was off to Brighton…but that is for another blog post! xoxo