Tuesday, April 16, 2013

"There are only two kinds of people in the world, The Irish and those who wish they were."

Here's an update on how Ireland was as I take a break from the insanity which is my life. (When I say insanity, I mean it's finals week.) Needless to say, stress is a thing. Luckily, Caitlyn, Zoe, and I enjoyed a break and went to Ireland for two days! We left at about 6AM Friday morning and made it back home around 10 or 11 Saturday night. Going through security was easy on the way there, but apparently my headband has metal in it (who knew?) and I left some water in my water bottle, so I enjoyed a full body pat down [airport security style] experience (which was difficult since I'm ticklish almost everywhere). 

They had these straighteners you could use in the airport bathrooms. 
It was hilarious.
What's more hilarious than that?
Probably watching me try to take the above picture with my phone while drying my hands and trying to be super discreet. 
We began by walking over to Trinity. 
Very nice school. 
We didn't go check out the famous stuff there because we were travelling on a budget. Obviously.
We did, however, cheat the system a bit by standing within earshot of a couple of tours as they walked around the campus. 
We walked on down to St. Stephen's Green.
Apparently framing my face in pictures is a thing again.
Saw some purple and gold (HSU represent!).
At one point we realized that we hadn't really eaten anything but a granola bar.
So we stopped and Zoe and I had the most amazing apple pie with cream.
It looked almost as good as it tasted.
Just looking at it is making my mouth water.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love food?
We stopped by St. Patrick's Cathedral. The park outside of it was lovely.
Not sure if they just call churches cathedrals in Ireland or what.
But it looked nice.
And then we headed over to Christ's Church Cathedral.
And proceeded on inside to do a little self guided tour.
The floors were nice.
After visiting almost a million churches, cathedrals, and chapels this semester, I began noticing things that normal people wouldn't notice.
Like the zig zag design on the arches? That doesn't happen in most places.
And if I remember correctly the pointy-ness at the top of the arch 
is an indication of it being from the Gothic era.
(just checked on google to make sure--I was right)
I never saw "The Tudors" but maybe you did? 
Apparently they filmed a good bit of it at Christ Church's.
And they had the costumes but I didn't take any pictures of that.

After that, we tried to go to Dublin Castle, but there was some "EU Presidency Event" shenanigans, so normal people weren't allowed.

If you know me well, you know I love a good play on words.
Like Shakespeare, that's why he's great.
There were a bunch of bridges, very pretty.
That night we went down to the Temple Bar area.
Tons of people were out and and some of the crowd even danced along with the music, Irish-style.
These guys (both in the picture above and below) were very very talented. I was impressed.
Another bridge.
Me on a bridge.
The next day we happened to run into a Socialist Party protest. 
It was very exciting and fun to watch and discuss the merits of the protest.
The gathering was huge!
We went to the Leprechaun Museum
(yes, it's real)
That picture above is a tube we walked in that made us shrink down to leprechaun size.
It's magic.
We really enjoyed the tour.
Irish folklore is fascinating, actually. 
Check it out sometime if you're bored or looking for something to read.
The weather was very gross, cold, and wet. 
So we came to this mall place for sanctuary.
We each bought a cupcake and sat on the floor in a little nook like homeless people to eat them.
[it's starting to become a bit of a habit to eat in weird/homeless-esque places]
Another bridge picture.
Except way more awesome than all the others.
We went to a little cafe,
where Zoe lined up and balanced one of each type of coin in the euro currency.
Our waiter made fun of us.
But I guess we earned it.
You know those super high maintenance people in restaurants?
That was us.
Silly Americans.
A great time with these two wonderful ladies!!
Ireland was more like Texas than anything I've experienced in the past three months. The culture felt kind of like home, with similar music (some Irish music sounds country-ish, except ten times better), their accents were hardly noticeable compared to what I expected, and the people were very friendly!
I was so sad to leave, hopefully I'll find a way to go back someday.

Also: 3 days till I leave London.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Light at the End of the Tube

It's crunch time here, but awesome things still happen. Like this:

[from an ad in the tube]

In addition to that, I have some amazing friends both here and at home. People who love me and encourage me even more than I deserve. 

And back to the grind of paper writing I go, with a lighter heart and a will to keep on keeping on. The end, though distant, is lighting up the end of this very long tunnel.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

A Ten Minute Update

[A Ten Minute Update: because I gave myself a ten minute break to do this post, not because that's how long it takes to read. Probably.]

Because of the many papers and tests which my professors have graciously scheduled for us these last two weeks, I must postpone my updates for a few days. Living in London is wonderful, but frustrating when there are so many things on my plate, keeping me from fully experiencing and enjoying this glorious city here at the very end. I am excited to go visit Ireland next Friday and Saturday though!!!

Quick update of things I've done/seen lately:
Wednesday: saw The Misanthrope. Enjoyed it immensely.
Friday: enjoyed the London Dungeon and the London Eye with some lovely views of the city at night!
Saturday: Windsor Castle-the Queen was there, and although we didn't see her we all enjoyed a nice morning at the castle. And the sun was out!! (That's kind of a big deal around here.)
The rest of the time: working on papers and writing haiku's when I get too overwhelmed.

Here's a fun picture of America which isn't totally politically correct but made me laugh with some things I'm excited about below:

Reasons I'm excited to be back in Texas/America:
  • sunshine (you can't possibly understand how much I've missed it)
  • family (obviously)
  • heat (it's cold here...so cold. Coldest spring in 25 years, just my luck!!)
  • friends (for obvious reasons)
  • baseball: go Rangers! (not a thing in this country)
  • school will be OVER for four months!!!! (I'm particularly looking forward to that one right now. Keep me in your prayers please.)
  • no more laundry in the bathtub and/or paying around $15 bucks to wash/dry one load
  • sweet tea
  • unlimited spotify (they only gave me 10 hours here free)
  • chick-fl-a
  • free refills
  • short sleeved shirts/shorts/sandals/sunshine/everything summer entails

Also, here's a nice video talking about what people would do if they had an extra day. Which is totally relevant because I feel like I'm frantically running out of time-both with my school deadlines and with the remainder of my time here.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter (and a visit from my favorite dad and brother!)

Ignore the atrociously drab title of this post.
You guys, the best thing happened. Dad and Zeb came to town! Crazy.

So let's just backtrack to Thursday. For lunch, I met up with my old friend Emily and her friend Lydia (which got rather confusing at Starbucks when they called names-her name, which was also my name- and I didn't order that coffee...needless to say, I enjoy my moderately unique name). Unfortunately, we only had about fifteen minutes, so we just shared about our travels. They were both thrilled to be in an English speaking country again, after studying in Spain for the past couple months! I scarfed down my sandwich as we caught up (Emily and I literally hadn't seen each other-and have barley even Facebook messaged-since graduation almost two years ago!) before scurrying off to class at the Victoria & Albert. We saw a variety of wonderful exhibits for class, and (thank you V&A for your free wifi!!) dad and Zeb messaged me until they found our little class just before we all parted ways. Their stomachs begged for a sacrifice, so we quickly walked through the Theatre exhibit before setting off to find food at the Ship's Tavern for some yummy fish and chips!

(disclaimer: this picture isn't actually from the Ship's Tavern)

The following morning we set off for Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Guard. Dad and Zeb sought a better view, since they could see above some of the crowd, while I climbed up and perched myself on a wall nearby. I actually enjoyed a nice view; it was incredible how many languages I heard floating around me! It was hilarious to watch: just as the show began, suddenly a herd of children floated slightly above the rest of the crowd on their parents shoulders. Those who didn't have children with them held their cameras up, and I even saw a couple iPads floating above the masses. After the horses rode off to the arch, we headed over to Trafalgar Square, where a large production of the Easter story took place! Compared to the West End theatre productions I've enjoyed, the acting was by no means phenomenal, but they did very well and did an excellent job portraying the story to such a large and diverse audience. Unfortunately, we needed to thaw out, so we scooted on over to Cafe in the Crypt (at St. Martin in the Fields Church right there on the square) for a scrumptious lunch before enjoying the lovely artwork of the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery! Leicester Square and Piccadilly Circus came next, just a short walk away, where Dad and Zeb did some souvenir shopping.

We relaxed for a bit at my flat, and several friends came by to say hi and chat. Dad kept trying to get some dirt on me, but his efforts proved unsuccessful. After a bit, we kicked everyone out and headed on over to The Mousetrap-the longest running show in the world! A few days ago when I volunteered at Bloomsbury Baptist Church, some older men told me that they'd seen The Mousetrap in the 1950's! Crazy. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I believe that dad and Zeb did as well.

Saturday morning, the men set off for the Tower of London while I stayed here at the flat to work on papers and shenanigans. I have a ton to do these past couple weeks, and it's overwhelming when I think about it too much. Despite the amount of whelm I have going on in relation to school, I managed to apply for a ton of jobs online, so hopefully that will yield some good results for this summer! [Sidenote: if you or someone you know owns an awesome business and is looking to hire in the Dallas area for the summer, hmu.] We enjoyed the 8:00 service at Westminster Abbey that night in the chilly but lovely church. And I don't really remember what else we did after that, except some walking around and taking pictures, so let's just move right along.

Sunday morning Tim, Elizabeth, and I left at 5:20 AM for St. Paul's sunrise service. Unfortunately, we didn't realize that the Tube wasn't open yet, so we power walked the whole way there (1.8) miles in about twenty minutes. Dad, Zeb, and I met up, enjoyed a delicious breakfast at their hotel, and headed to St. Paul's for their Easter service!!! It was packed with people from all sides, which made getting in quite difficult and made the service less personal in general, but it was great to be back in that gorgeous building.

Following that, we got some coffee to warm up a bit, checked out St. Bride's Church, went to the South Bank (where we split a slice of cheesecake and looked around at the fantastic book fair!!) before heading out to Zone 2 for the big rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge. The air around us was full of vibrant energy-everyone was so excited, I enjoyed all the energy around me. After watching the boats take off, we headed back toward the tube, but stopped by a pub packed with people watching the race on the TV screens inside. I was lucky enough to stick half of my head in the doorway and watch Oxford win!

I hope Dad and Zeb enjoyed their time here, because it was very nice to get to spend some time with them! After they left it was back to the grind, where I attempted to be super productive, but actually have a lot of work yet to do. Only 17 days (now 16 technically since it's past midnight) till I return to Texas! I'm not sure if I'm excited or devastated.