Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Farewell London

Ok, so it's been a while. But here's the last installment of my epic adventures! I hope that you've had some fun. I actually started this last blog entry on a little plane on the way to Aarhus, Denmark, and now after a good amount of procrastinating I'm actually going to finish it. So this is a quick overview of my last two weeks abroad. Enjoy!

Finals, Studying and Papers: While you might think that we would spend the last couple of weeks in London just partying, this is not true. In fact, this was probably the time that we had the most homework due. It was kind of stressful. We had papers due for every class (two for humanities) and then only one day off to study for all of our finals. But don't worry, we survived. The last couple of days of class were pretty fun though, despite the homework. Dr. Paul even made us crumpets in our mystery class, and we crashed Professor Wimmer's flat to enjoy our last session of British Studies on his couch with fresh cookies. Actually studying for finals was just crazy though. I wouldn't recommend taking finals for fun. Just putting that out there.
Shopping: We did manage to make time to enjoy ourselves. There was no way you could keep us inside the center all day with London calling. I think it was on Tuesday that I finally went over to Harrods. There are just some things that we never ended up doing until the very end. I have to admit that I was surprised by how massive that place was. And did I mention that it's expensive? Because it is. I felt very out of place walking past the Valentino dresses in my worn out jeans. I decided that it was probably a good decision to not touch anything. Other days when I could squeeze it in I took breaks to go back to some of our old haunts for more last minute shopping and enjoyment, like Bond Street, Regent Street, and Regent Street. Me and Annie even managed to go back to Covent Garden several times. I think I hit up the candy store there like three times.

War Horse: On approximately Wednesday I went to see a production of War Horse at the National Theater. We got the standing tickets so we once again got to enjoy an amazing performance for an incredibly low price. It was really cool because they used a lot of puppets that I can't even describe. We also had a fun night because on the way we spontaneously went to the Australia premier in Leicester Square, where we got to see Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, and (insert drum roll please) Elton John. When the car pulled up and someone said that it was Elton John who had stepped out I didn't believe them, because why in the world would he be there? But then again I guess there's no reason for him to not be there. Whatever floats his boat. So all that was a fun detour.

The British Museum: Our last Sunday me and Lindsay went back to the British Museum for one last time, where we took tons and tons of fun pictures with mummies and such. Good times.

Wanderings: In case you haven't already picked up on this, I like to wander a lot. So I did. Good things come from wandering, and in London you never know quite what you're going to see, like one day during the week when we wandered past a massive gathering on drunken Santa's in Trafalgar Square. They even had a Santa flag. On our last day (Monday) a few of us just went wherever our whims led us, revisiting Covent Garden (of course), the Southbank, Big Ben, The Strand, Trafalgar Square, and pretty much everywhere else that tickled out fancy. We really didn't want to leave. For our last night I went and saw Zorro the musical again since it's just a giant fiesta and we wanted to have a fun last night. Plus, I'm still kind of obsessed with Zorro. But it's okay because Sabrina is too. We bought t-shirts and soundtracks together and we're going to have parties next semester to liven up our days in Provo.

Packing: This was just ridiculous. It looked like an explosion had gone off in our room, with bags and clothes scattered everywhere. Just try to imagine 12 girls in one cramped room trying to pack everything they you've used and bought in the past four months. Trust me, you wouldn't want to be there. Luckily I had Annie and she pretty much did it all for me. She has skills.

Endings: To wrap things up we had a final brunch on Monday, which was really sad. Pretty much anything that had to do with leaving was sad, like saying goodbye to everyone at church. We got to go to the single adults Christmas party on the Friday of finals which was a lot of fun. They had the place decorated all fancy and there was a full Christmas dinner. So that was a lot of fun. Then on Monday we had the brunch at the center where we got to enjoy a "best of breakfast at the center" including waffles, Amish oatmeal, omelets, and much more. After stuffing ourselves we all got to go upstairs to the classroom for the last time for closing remarks and a slide show of pictures from the semester. It was very bittersweet.

Sweden! I was sad that the program ended, but I was excited because that meant I got to see Sara and Louise. My first stop was to see Sara in Stockholm. We had a ton of fun. it was really nice because we got to use her house as her home base, and I got to meet her boyfriend and see her mom again. They're great. I had delicious food and just got to relax after the craziness of the semester. Sara also gave me a great tour of Stockholm, taking me to the old town and shopping and stuff. I really liked it there, and it was really fun because it was so close to Christmas so there were all sorts of lights and stuff up and we got to go to a Christmas fair. We also went ice skating outside in the city, which was amazing. We just had a lot of fun. Since I'd never driven stick before I even got a lesson from Sara and her boyfriend Bjorn. I can now say that I am perfectly comfortable driving a stick in gears one through three in a parking lot.

Denmark! My next stop was Denmark to see Louise. I went to Aarhus first since that's where she going to school and it was great because I got to fly into a tiny little airport where you just walk off the plane. I like that. We did all sorts of wonderful things, like go to an old village that was all Christmas decorated, eat Danish food, shop, and make Christmas stars. After a day in Aarhus we rode the train to her house in Odense where I got to spend the next couple of days having fun with her family. They were great, and it was especially fun because they let me in on some of their Christmas traditions. For example, I learned that Santa comes every Sunday. We got to go on nice walks through the town too. Basically I loved my life.
This entry really doesn't do the last couple of weeks justice, but it is New Year's Eve and I have plans tonight, but I'm sure that I needed to finish this before it's not 2008 anymore. Seriously, spending time with Sara and Louise was one of the best parts of the entire trip. Ask me about it and I'll be able to do a lot better job of telling you about what happened. This is just the super short version. I flew home from Copenhagen and eventually made it home. As I'm sure most of you know, the weather in Portland was crazy so things at the airport were all messed up. It's actually the most snow on record for Portland. They're calling it "Artic Blast '08". So we were kind of worried about whether or not I would even make it home because they were cancelling flights like crazy and I would have been stuck in DC by myself. When I got to DC I was rushing through customs because my plane was scheduled to leave pretty soon after I got in, but then I found out it was delayed until 8:30. And then 9:47, and then 11:47, and then it was cancelled, and then it was un-cancelled... It was really stressful. They were basically telling people to go home, but since I didn't have the option I stuck around. Apparently if our plane had been cancelled the soonest we would have been able to fly out would have been Christmas day, which I was not ok with. Luckily we ended up commandeering a plane from Aruba and we made it into Portland with only a four hour delay. I know people who had four day delays. It was pretty much the longest day of travel ever though, and by the time I made it home I had been awake for a good 28 hours. But I made it, and my beautiful trip was officially over. But I'll be back again!

The Last Installment of PicturesBye Bye studying in cramped cornersBye Bye London CentreBye Bye Tasty BreakfastsBye Bye ProfessorsBye Bye TubeBye Bye Delicious Covent Garden Candy StoreBye Bye Drunken SantasBye Bye Beautiful London CityscapeBye Bye Taking Tons of Pictures of the Same Thing at Slightly Different AnglesBye Bye Pictures with Cool BackgroundsBye Bye Random Nights Out on the TownIce Skating in Stockholm!Being in Stockholm!Shopping in Stockholm!Old Town in Denmark!Shopping in Denmark!

Christmas Tree with Actual Candles in Denmark!

Thanks so much for reading my blog and I hope that you have a Happy New Year!

Cheers, Nat

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I´m Tired

The post for this last week is going to be a little late. I apologize for any inconvenience it may cause you, but I´m tired and had absolutely no time last week with finals and everything. Right now I´m actually using Sara´s sweet computer in Sweden. But don´t worry, I will catch up! So just hold tight my friends. This next one will be great.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hamlet Dies, And This Time I Care

This is going to be one of my last posts since I only have two weeks left, so you should savor every moment of reading this I'm sure. It's really quite tragic, although not quite as tragic as watching David Tennant die in Hamlet last night. But that comes later. Right now I'm mourning the fact that I only have 8 days left of the program. Luckily the program ending isn't the worst thing in the world, because once it's over that means that I get to visit two of my very favorite people-- first the lovely Sara in Sweden, and then the fabulous Louise in Denmark. I pretty much love my life. But, first I have to make it through this week. Between this week and last week I have 5 papers and three finals due. Not cool. But don't worry, I'm a professional procrastinator so I still managed to have a lot of fun. This week's fun activities included:
  • Kitchen Crew-- I know I talked about it a little bit last time but it was all this week so I'm going to say more. We cleaned dishes. A lot. We also had to wake up early and set up all of the food and such. I am so ridiculously sleep deprived because we had to be downstairs and have everything ready by the time breakfast started at 7:30, and of course my room (who were all also on kitchen crew) and I could never seem to be able to go to sleep before one. We make the actual work fun (there's a lot of singing involved); it's just hard since it takes a couple hours out of our already hectic days. But now we're all done! We enjoyed dinner tonight by rinsing of our plates and then just walking away. Oh yes.

  • Mama Mia-- This was just a ton of fun on the stage. Getting tickets to this is pretty much impossible, so Anna went early while the rest of us were in mystery class and got us super sweet tickets-- we had our own box. So, we were right above/next to the stage, and the seats were even more comfy than usual. And the tickets were even less expensive. It was just all around good. We danced along with the songs, and then whistled the songs for the rest of the week while they were stuck in our heads.

  • The Queen Opens Parliament-- I just watched this on TV while working on my British Studies paper. It was pretty fun to watch all of their traditions and whatnot. A couple of the girls headed out early-ish and actually got to see the Queen up close leaving Buckingham palace and waved to her and such. I was a little sad that I couldn't go, but for once I was on a roll with my paper and I figured that it was ok since I had already seen both of the princes in person. Plus, it was fun watching it in the warm kitchen.

  • The Cabinet War Rooms and Churchill Museum-- This was pretty cool. Actually, it was really cool. The rooms that Churchill and his cabinet operated in and made all of the decisions regarding the war. They moved all operations under ground so they wouldn't get hurt by bombs, but Churchill didn't like to spend too much time down there. It was really interesting to see all of the things that were going on behind of the scenes of the war though, and there was even the huge map they used to track troop movements that still had thousands of little holes in it from where all the pins used to be. It was really interesting to see how they all lived down there and made decisions that were so crucial to world history.

  • The Sherlock Holmes Museum-- This was pretty sweet, mostly because they had hats and pipes and everything to take pictures with so we could pretend like we were Holmes and Watson. They also had wax sculptures of the villains upstairs, and the whole house was decorated just like 221b Baker Street is supposed to in the books, and there were even some actors and stuff walking around pretending like it was all real history. The gift shop was pretty fun too.
  • The Messiah-- We went to this cool presentation of Handel's Messiah at the Barbican Center where they performed it with instruments from the baroque time period and had a smaller choir like it would have been then. I have to admit that I didn't realize that it was so long though, or that I was so incredibly tired. The music was all performed amazingly, but I'm not a huge fan of Baroque as it is and I almost passed out a few times. The Hallelujah Chorus and other things that I recognized were fun.

  • Snog-- So I had my first snog after the concert. It's probably not what you're thinking. Snog is this frozen yogurt place (like Yoasis or that place in California Amber is addicted to) next to the South Kensington tube stop. This tube stop was as far away from the Messiah as it could get (although it's only a couple stops from home) but we wanted it so after traveling forever and getting a little lost (where we ended up strolling past our local Lamborghini dealership, you know, the usual) we made it there. And we ate that frozen yogurt. I got strawberries and blueberries on top and was quite happy with life.

  • Abbey Road-- There are a bunch of fun little London things that we just hadn't got around to doing yet and this was one of them. I think it's pretty much required to go to Abbey Road and try to recreate the scene on the album. It's actually really funny to watch because the crosswalk they use is a big intersection and there isn't a stop light, so when there are no cars you just run, freeze, and hope someone takes the picture before you get hit. I'm happy to announce that all of us are still in one piece. I don't think I'd ever want to drive on that road because I'm pretty sure there's a constant flow of tourists there. Right next to the crosswalk is the Abbey Road recording studio. The wall out front is completely graffitied, and they have to paint it every couple days so we decided to join in on the fun and became vandalists. It's probably all gone by now, but it was fun while it lasted.

  • Camden-- from Abbey Road we took a quick trip over to the Camden markets where I got some sweet earrings and a cookie before I had to bail and run back to the centre since I had kitchen duty. It was a fun half of an hour though.
  • The London Temple-- We actually had Friday off from class and stuff to work on all of our papers and such, but we ended up opting to take a group trip to the London LDS Temple for a session. Even though it's the London temple it actually took a couple of hours to get there (it takes over an hour just to get out of the city) but it was totally worth it, as going to the temple always is. It was a really neat experience since the session was made up all of people from the program too. All of the temple workers there were a lot of fun too, and they had the best stories. One of the members of the temple presidency and his wife just got back from being missionaries in Nigeria and they just had the best stories. It was fun to go to the temple too because now I can say that I've served in the temples at all of the places I've lived-- Portland, Provo and London. It was gorgeous, although it was really funny because it had scaffolding on the outside of it. There's been scaffolding on everything since it's the off season (St. Paul's, Chartwell, Versailles, Chatres, you remember), but the temple was the last place I expected to see it so when we were driving up so I just laughed. Apparently they're just about to put the angel Moroni on top (he's on all of the temples) so I figure it's ok though. The temple has been there for a long time, but this is the first time they've been able to put the angel on top because it's right next to Gatwick airport and they said the gold would be a distraction. So this time it's going to be bronze.
  • Beetle the Bard-- J.K. Rowling's new collection of short stories came out and I think everyone in the program went out and bought it because it will be 20 times cooler since we bought it here. Plus, it's cute and small and only cost 3 pounds 50. Going to get it at Waterstone's was our designated "fun break" from writing papers. Being us we stayed in the tiny book store for a long time looking at random stuff.

  • Hamlet-- We left the centre at eight in the morning to stand in line outside in the cold for an hour and a half just to get tickets to this play. That's not something that I had ever expected to do for a Shakespeare play since I've never exactly been a fan. Well, at least I hadn't been a fan until I saw Shakespeare performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company. That's a completely different story. I've decided that the RSC should officially be the only ones allowed to ever perform Shakespeare, because when they do it I actually like it. I really liked Love's Labor Lost when we saw it in Stratford, and the RSC has a London season that included Hamlet, so I figured that this was my best chance of ever enjoying the play. There was even the added bonus of having David Tennant, who was in Love's Labor Lost, play Hamlet. And Patrick Stewart, the guy from X-Men played his uncle. This is quality stuff. All of the tickets sold out months ago, but they have 25 tickets that they release day of at student rate so we decided to take advantage of that, even if it meant waking up at an icky hour. We had to get there early in order to fight off the David Tennant fans-- for those of you who don't know, he's the star of Doctor Who, which is majorly huge over here. I've seen chocolate lollipops with his face on it. I've never seen Doctor Who, but I have seen him on stage and he really is that amazing. I really hope that he sticks with the theater even though it would be easier for me to see him on film because he's just so dang good at it. So I was really excited to see him again. We got some of the last 5 pound tickets (only five pounds to see it for a student with a slightly obstructed view! Isn't that amazing? Even converted into American dollars I couldn't get a seat in the back of a BYU production of the same show) and then had a party. It was totally worth waiting in line to see. I can't even describe how good it was. They used the original Shakespeare but performed it in modern dress, which I thought was really cool. I just got completely sucked into the play; it didn't matter that I knew everything that happened since I studied it in AP Lang and heard it a ton. Ya, I can't describe it. It was perfect. I just wish that it wasn't a tragedy... David Tennant was too much fun to watch to have him die. Patrick Stewart was great as the Uncle too, and I almost didn't want to not like him. Oh man it was just great. I wish I could relive it. Moral of the story: only watch Shakespeare if it's performed by the RSC. They do it right.

  • Tate Modern-- In between buying tickets and going to the play was an entire day, so I went and did stuff. One of the things I had to do for humanities was go to the Tate Modern, which is a sweet modern art museum in an old factory along the Thames. I got to see lots o' modern art, which was fun. I also had to go into the special exhibition of Rothko, which was actually really cool. For those of you who aren't familiar with Rothko, he just painted a bunch of squares. Now, this sounds like it would be easy, but he actually drafted these puppies like none other. They had some of his plans and sketches on display and he would go through a lot of work before painting those squares. When the paintings are all together in this huge room they look really cool too, especially when you look at all the brushstrokes and colors and stuff. It's not like it's my favorite thing in the world, but it's really interesting.

  • Shopping-- Apparently this weekend is the closest thing Britain has to our black friday, but without the amazing sales. They actually shut down all of the traffic on Regent Street and Oxford Street, two major places to shop, so that people could walk down the middle. I only went for a couple hours. It was crazy but a lot of fun too. When it got dark they had fireworks at Oxford Circus and an acrobat in this giant inflatable dome thing. So that was fun.

  • Church-- This was my second to last week of church, which is sad because I like my ward here. It was funny in Sunday school today because we're in this tiny room and people kept coming in. We ended up with 19 young single adults and little kid all crammed in on chairs with the teacher, Ayla (I don't actually know how to spell her name), sitting on the desk. The lesson was still great though (I'm really going to have lessons taught to me in that sweet Scottish accent) and we all had a lot of fun. I'm excited because there's a single adult Christmas party on Friday at the stake center. We're so going to be there.

  • Papers-- As you can tell, we did less this week than other weeks (even though I still managed to write way more than I should). Just fill in all of the gaps with me slaving over papers and you'll get a good idea of how this week went down.

And that's it! Tada! The only other thing I've been doing today is writing. Between writing some friends and missions and this blog I think that my hands are going to fall off or something. But you all love me, right? Right. Now I'm going off to watch Elf in the classroom because it's way more fun than writing papers.

Being Holmes and Watson. We're all ready for some quality detection.My first snogging experience.The famous Abbey Road.I learned that vandalism is actually quite fun.The London Temple, complete with decorative scaffolding.Our last day of kitchen duty.

Waiting in the line for tickets way early in the cold but beautiful morning

After the wonderfullness that was Hamlet

On our way to church! We switch lines at Tottenham every single week. Good times.