Friday, 31 January 2014

Hugs (not drugs)

So. Tired. Just...yeah.
The past few days have been packed full of fun and adventures! This school week I definitely failed at blogging but there's really only so much that I can say about me reading textbooks and going to class. However, Wednesday night we got to go see Henry V starring Jude Law! I'm pretty sure that most of the girls in our group only wanted to see Jude and had no clue what was going on but nonetheless, I enjoyed him and Shakespeare. Speaking of, Thursday morning started off with us meeting super early and heading over to Stratford On Avon the birthplace and grave of Shakespeare. That afternoon we got to see Wendy and Peter Pan  preformed by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, it was so good! I cried. Alisan, stop judging me. This show is different from Peter Pan and focuses on Wendy more as the central character and her story of dealing with the grief of the loss of her younger brother. The rest of the day we spend going around the town and looking at little shops, Stephanie and I ended up having tea in a little 40s themed restaurant called "The Four Teas", get it?! Hilariousness. The whole group met together and we had dinner at "The Dirty Duck", sounds appetizing right? It was pretty good  except for the gross smell of fish and chips that enveloped the whole place. I feel bad for complaining about the staple meal that these people eat but seriously its a problem. Emily ended up just playing with her food...
We spent the night in Stratford at adorable little Bed and Breakfasts and this morning I even had my first true English breakfast complete with tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms, bacon (really just ham), and of course tea. Then we went to Anne Hathaway's cottage, the wife of Shakespeare not the actress :), and got to look around her place for a little bit. It was so cute and quaint but also very touristy, haha.
Once we left the Hathaway's we went to the Holy Trinity Church where Shakespeare was baptized, married and eventually buried. Now I'm not sure if I'm just getting tired of looking at old things and old dead people but for some reason I was just not feeling it today! (I know blasphemy.) Anyways, we then went to "The Birthplace" which was Anne and William's first home together as well as where William was born. Sadly we were practically running through the house so that we could make it back to the coach in time to make our Oxford tour. It's kind of a blur now but I do remember one of the guides quoting us part of Hamlet from a cat's point of view, needless to say it was brilliance. While still in Stratford I got to briefly run into a Christmas shop that was called "The Nutcracker", Dad you probably would have died from excitement. I ended up with a little nutcracker ornament, he's so cute!
This is obviously not the ornament... :)
Our coach then headed off to Oxford and we went on a tour there! Outside, in the rain, and wind, and not so weather-proof jacket that I had, and canvas tennis shoes, with no umbrella. I'm still defrosting but despite the frigid weather I think most of us had a good time touring the University and seeing a few of the sites used for Harry Potter movies. Because of the weather though I only took out my camera once, to take a picture of the first theology building founded on campus, priorities people! 
Once our very wet tour was over we just wandered around Oxford until it was time to head back to London. I'm sad that I didn't really get to enjoy Oxford the way I would have liked but once your shoes are wet from the inside out there's really no making the day better. We are now back in London and things are drying over the heaters, my flatmates have all gone somewhere or another and it gives me time to be alone in the quiet. I've recently realized something about travel, part of what makes it so fun is going places with the people that you love. While I am definitely making friends here and they're all great people they're not my best friend or my sister, my mom or dad. I can't tell you how many times a day I want to laugh with my sisters or call Rebecca, I want to share this experience with someone other than my camera. Yeah yeah, I can hear you all telling me to stop having a pity party for myself and I hear ya loud and clear. It's not like I'm not having fun by the way! However, it has been over 2 weeks since I've had a hug and I am having serious withdrawal. I've heard that it takes 9 "positive human physical interactions" to keep a person sane, ya know a handshake, hive five, hug, pat on the back, whatever...although hugs are my personal favorite. There are no hugs in this country (the smashing together with strangers on the tube does not count) and I think that my sanity is in serious danger. Basically all that to say that I miss y'all and your arms and that I'm going crazy. Future husband, you have been warned. 
Seriously missing you all, 

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A Name

Today I was super productive! I went to the post office and the grocery store, got a lot of reading done for my classes and had a cup of tea. That being said, I don't really have a lot to put into a blog post (except mom: I tried to make red beans & rice yesterday with British ingredients and it turned out super weird). So instead of telling you about my day how about I tell you why my blog is called "Keep Your Eyes Open". It is the title of a song by Needtobreathe, my new favorite band, and the song just really spoke to me. When I heard the chorus for the first time I knew that the words that had been written were for me as I started this new adventure in my life. It goes "Cause if you never leave home, never let go. You'll never make it to the great unknown, till you keep your eyes open, my love." The rest of the song is pretty amazing too. I love all of their music but this is the song that I chose to tie myself to...or maybe it chose me. Either way I'm here, in the great unknown.

Here is a link to the video, I hope you love it as much as I do! Keep Your Eyes Open

Monday, 27 January 2014

Good Morning Sun

Happy Monday everyone! Today we had our second week of British Life & Culture and goodness gracious I love that class! The class is basically a walking tour each week with our British tutor Professor Rumbelow and his incredible brain. Seriously though, this man is such a great story teller and that is exactly what history is, a story! Today we had class inside the Tower of London, the morning started off with our group meeting outside of Tower Hill tube station where we were greeted warmly by the sun, a welcome sight for anyone who has spent any time in London. 
This is Tower Bridge right outside of the Tower Of London, we were there to see the bridge being raised for a freighter. Can you say hello sun?
After taking a few notes and seeing the public execution site, that was last used in 1787, we headed inside to the tower! The tower was originally built in the 11th century and was built to protect the people inside the tower from potentially angry Londoners who could quickly turn into a mob. There is no entrance to the tower that is on the ground level so that the towns people could not swarm the castle, there has always been a wooden staircase that leads up to entrance so that in an emergency it could be cut down or burned. Since its original building, the Tower has expanded and grown into a national landmark and is often times the face of London. It was in this tower that Anne Boleyn was executed as well as the "two Princes in the tower" were murdered in 1483, among others. The tower serves also as the home of the Crown Jewels! All of the crowns were absolutely stunning and I loved looking at them all. My favorite was probably the 530.2 carat diamond called the First Star of Africa, ya know I would pick the biggest and most sparkly thing in there to fall in love with. 

One of the guards just ya know, marching around. We were even present when they switched guards, so cool!

These guys are traditionally called Yeoman Warders but are also referred to as Beefeaters, they are the tower guards. All of them that we got to talk to were very nice and personable! 
 There is a legend that dates back to Charles II that 6 ravens should be kept in the Tower of London at all times, if they ever left it is a symbol that the monarchy will fall and Britain along with it. Some of the ravens have great names like Ronald Raven, Jubilee, and Merlin. I think Ronald Raven is my favorite. Here is a crazy shot of one of the Beefeaters petting a raven like its no big deal! The ravens are notoriously sassy and like to bite!
Nothing else of much consequence happened today. I uploaded captions to the pictures from the Canterbury Cathedral if you want to read those gory details! I'll also put up more from today...eventually. Tomorrow will be pretty boring but Wednesday should prove to be exciting, we're going to see Henry V and JUDE LAW is starring. Yeah, you read that right. *swoon* Anyways I'm off to bed now, its been busy! 
Missing you all,

Saturday, 25 January 2014

"Cathedrals have tried in vain"

Whew, today was a crazy busy day! Warning: this post is very long, its for your enjoyment but a lot of it was just so I wouldn't forget anything! The day started out with the group meeting at 7:45am and getting on a coach bus to Dover, about 2 hours away. The ride was say the least. Once we had gotten to the castle, which was almost completely hidden under a think layer of fog, the professors set us out to explore. 

The entrance to the Castle.

Some of my flatmates, love these girls! We were quite chilly all day!

While at Dover, we got to go on a tour of the secret underground war tunnels that were used in both world wars. During WWI the tunnels were primarily used as ammunition storage for the British. The second world war used the tunnels in a more strategic way, as an underground hospital as well as for living quarters for soldiers among other things. During the battle at Dunkirk in France the base was the place that rescued soldiers would be brought. If I'm remembering correctly over 300,000 troops were brought to Dover once rescued from the coming Nazis in France, as it is only about 20 miles from the French shore. While Dover Castle was never bombed during WWII it received heavy artillery fire. We weren't allowed to take pictures in the tunnels but rest assured, it was very cool! The model of the hospital that they have in the tunnels was actually constructed from illegal photographs that one of the doctors took before he left the base. The photos were illegal because if the Germans had gotten ahold of them they would have known exactly what was at Dover! It literally it could have changed the course of history. What the tunnels actually looked like is still highly protected government information and will not be released until 2074! There was something about being in the war tunnels that resonated with me, these soldiers were my age, were my sisters ages. These people had families, mothers, children, and friends. Today they became real people with lives and stories, the only difference in me and them is that I got fortunate enough to live out my ambitions and not be born in a time of overwhelming war for the entire globe. 

Here is the only "white cliffs of Dover" that I really got to see, the fog was so thick today! Nonetheless, it was beautiful and I'm so glad that we got to go tour this place. 
Once we left Dover we had lunch on the bus, and yes it did feel like a kindergarden field trip, and headed to Canterbury. Let me just say, I loved and I mean absolutely loved everything about this little town, I think it may be my new favorite place on earth... I have a few contenders. Yet again, we filed off the bus and were told to go explore! Dr. Woodfin, Emily, Stephanie and I set out on a small trek to find St. Martin's Church. The church is the oldest church in the English speaking world that has been continually in use! It was founded in the 500s by queen Bertha who was a Christian, her king was Ethelbert of Kent and he was pagan. He gave her this as a place to worship. Walking up to this church there is a cemetery surrounding the church containing at least 900 graves, as was customary to bury the dead in the churchyard, although its just plain creepy if you ask me! The oldest visible date on the stones is 1686.  

This is the door that we walked in to enter the church it is very small and quite, as it is outside of town.
Entering this church gave me immediate goose bumps, I was part of history today. I became a part of my faith on a grand scale and in this tiny church on the outskirts of a small town in England I remembered the people who have gone before me. Thinking about it now, only a few hours after still gives me chills and I am still in awe that I stood here with my own two feet. Pictures will never be able to grasp the raw emotion that being here brought me. I wish you could all smell the green moss that covered the headstones, feel the wind and the chilly damp weather that surrounded us, hear the silence upon entering this sacred ground and see the intricate details that make this place astonishing. While in the church I took a sort of self guided tour, while that was all fascinating I would say that the most wonderful thing was lighting a candle here, being still, and as they put it "be aware that God is present." Amen to that. There are one or two pictures of the inside of the church on Facebook if you want to see a little more. Also, St. Martin is the mother church of the Canterbury Cathedral. 

This is just to the left of the picture above, just a few of the headstones. I felt like I was in a movie the whole time! 
Once we left St. Martin's, much too soon I might add, we headed to the Cathedral for a tour. This was the most fascinating tour that I have ever been on! The fact that I am obsessed with Church history should not sway you in any way ;). We split up by schools and our guide was named Pauline, she was a very charismatic lady who you could tell was still passionate about her job. I want to tell you everything about the tour and remember every tiny detail that she said about all the cool stuff in the Cathedral but literally I could fill a book...lets face it, there are whole libraries you could fill with all of this awesome history. The Archbishop of Canterbury is seated here and is the principal head of the Church of England, a position that dates back more that 1,400 years! Once I put up pictures on Facebook I'll caption them with what they are and yes, some historical documentation of each one, so that I don't have 97 pictures here. I know you're excited to hear me ramble some more.

A shot outside of the Cathedral before the tour. 

These steps, just wow. They were the steps that pilgrims from all over the country would have come up on their knees praying to St. Thomas (more on his story later). This was a practice that went on for over 300 years. Look at how worn they are from thousands and thousands of people coming here to pray on their knees.

This is a shot of the Cathedral from inside the cloisters. It was dusk and perfectly lit!
After our tour, that lasted about 2 hours, we went back inside for the choral evensong. The Evensong was just a service but tonight's was historic! It was the first time that a girls choir sang in the Cathedral instead of a boys. Once the service was over we headed back to the bus through the remnants of a sleet storm that had occurred while we were inside and began our journey home. When I got on the bus I started to listen to my iPod and the first song that came on was Needtobreathe's Signature of Divine, the first line of this song says: "Cathedrals have tried in vain to show the image of Your face." Talk about perfect timing, right?! I listened to the rest of the song and knew that at that moment I was being reminded to be in love with the Creator of all things instead of with things created. Because honestly it is so easy for me to fall in love with these places, with the architecture and with the past that things have. While this Cathedral was absolutely beautiful, it does not even hold a candle to my Savior's.
It went pretty smoothly, until we got caught in a traffic jam that lasted over an hour. After about an hour and a half we decided that we would have better luck getting home on the tube and abandoned our poor bus driver to walk in the cold. Long story short we made it home, finally! It's now after 1:00am here and I am beat! I'm sure that I'll read this later and think I sound completely silly or make no sense but for now, thats life!
Missing you all,

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Lame Sauce

Be impressed. It's been an entire week of blogging and I'm still doing it, success. This morning started off with me yet again hitting snooze on my alarm, a practice that I had not developed until coming here. Maybe its jet lag...still? Anyways, I went to my Britain at war class at 9am on the very top floor of our school building and got through the tedious syllabus reading and discussion of requirements for class and by then it was practically time to be done. My book that I bought a few days ago was approved by my professor, so that's good news! Now it's just time to find the motivation to actually read it, that's the problem with being a senior in college, you're so close to being done but you have to keep caring. Lame sauce. Speaking of motivation I actually had some earlier today and wrote up a few reading summaries for my reformation class! (We're not going to talk about me closing the window without saving it and then having to re-do about half of it.) Homework was followed by a trip to the postoffice and then back home for more reading! Seriously today was super lame. Although, I did have Starbucks and that made it a little less boring.

 Emily and I headed to the postoffice, such a sweet friendship with this girl!
"Hello? Mom, I can't come home now...I told you I moved to London for the semester." Silly mothers.
Wow, this post is super short and not as witty as some of my other ones...oh well, I'm out of things to say. 
Missing you all,

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

"Divorced, Beheaded and Died"

Well what do ya know, it's almost been a whole week since I've been in Texas and I haven't died, haven't been hit by a taxi, and haven't even begun to scratch the surface of this beautiful city. I find myself falling more in love with the people here, the culture, and the history that will literally engulf you every time you turn around! I'm so excited to get to go out by myself and take in the city at my own pace with my camera in hand and just see what The Lord will teach me about myself and this island that He loves so much.
My day started off with English Reformation class at 9am and yes, I did hit snooze a few times before my zombie like body unenthusiastically rolled out of bed. (Seriously though, pray that we would all have energy for our whole time here!) Class met in the FSU building a few blocks from our flats and we started into a lecture that was an overview of the Reformation from beginning to end! Talk about typing with furry! Dr. Holcomb started off class with an interesting video, but I'm sure we'll always remember the information. What I would say about it would not do it justice so here: Henry VIII
Thanks to HSU, Logsdon (HSU's theology school), and Dr. McGraw my freshman year of college, this lecture was just a review. I of course was quite fond of the entire ordeal. Since our classes only meet once a week they are extensive, like 3 hours. So after our classroom lecture we hopped on the tube and went down to the Museum of London where our class assignment was to go through an exhibit and answer a few questions. The word excited does not even begin to cover what I was feeling but I guess it'll have to do, as it is 11pm and I am practically brain dead now. Ask anyone in my family, I am not the person to go to a museum with, I read every plaque, on every wall, about every artifact, I sit through every video and will gladly listen to anyone who is willing to tell me more. Thus, once my classmates had found their answers and left there I was, still reading and if it weren't for my other class I would have stayed the rest of the day! Here are just a few pictures of some of the really cool things I found! (Fine, you don't have to think they're cool but I DO.)
This is an oil painting of King Henry VIII, ya know that guy who kinda accidentally set the English Reformation in full motion. Sound familiar? 
This is a model of St. Paul's Cathedral when it was completed in the 1320s, it had a spire that was more than 400 feet tall! 
Anyways, once I had torn myself from all of the glorious history I headed back to my flat for a quick lunch. At 2:30 my London Theater class began and let me just tell you, our British tutors are wonderful people! I love that they don't see everything through dirty and smudged American lenses but bring a new perspective to all elements of learning. Not that I don't love my American professors too! But after all change is good, right? Our tutor is Ian Herbert, an esteemed theater critic both here in London and all over the world. No pressure to do excellent work right? Nothing much to report from theater class, but I did learn something that absolutely blew my mind! The movie She's The Man with Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum is based off of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night!! AHHH! Everything from the names of the characters to the plot is taken directly from good ole William himself, genius. Once I settled down from this discovery class was practically over and I grabbed dinner and went back to the flat before going out to see Twelve Angry Men. Now that was an impressive show! If you haven't seen it, or don't know the plot I won't spoil it for you, although I would be surprised, but it was definitely worth going to see. Tomorrow is my first Britain at War class and that seems very promising! Now for a cup of tea and hopefully going to bed! 
Missing you all, 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

How Not To Be American

Alright, so there is no concept of personal space in Europe and I'm not gonna lie it makes me sad when people on the street aren't friendly. Texas definitely has its perks. Other than that everything is great here! Today Emily and I went out by ourselves and rode the tube to a few book stores so that we could start looking for books to do book reviews on. I almost forgot that I was actually here to study and do school work, but not to fear, I was reminded today. We ended up at Blackwells and another one called Foyles. This semester I am required to read and do 3 book reviews over one of Britain's wars, I think I've decided on the Wars of the Roses and yes, you'll get a history lesson on that once I know more myself! I'm also required to do 2 book reviews over The English Reformation. Oddly enough, I'm looking forward to reading all of these books, I'm such a nerd. I ended up only buying one book today, as I want approval from my professors before I spend 20 pounds on a book that won't fulfill the class assignment. The book I got is called Blood Sisters: The Women Behind the Wars of the Roses, and even if it won't work for class I still want to read it. Emily's graduate work is far more extensive than my mere undergrad studies and she ended up buying 6 or 7 books today and she still needs more! Yikes!
I found this book today and thought I'd share it with you all:
 Ps I was a little offended by this book...but it was still amusing.
After our book excursion we came back to our part of town and enjoyed a quite, albeit late, lunch at Pret. Pret has prepared fresh sandwiches and fruit among other little ready to go things, it is already one of our favorites because it is so convenient and practically on every corner! During lunch Emily noticed a bookshelf that said "Read them and bring them back", basically a cafe library. One of the books was a journal that people had written or sketched in and it was really cool to look through, we even ended up adding a little something and of course an ode to Texas. We were flipping through the pages and this was written in tiny handwriting:
It was a simple and yet sweet reminder of my Saviors love. 
The rest of the day was spent reading for my English Reformation class tomorrow and doing a tiny bit of shopping. I got postcards, a plate for my Grammie, a tacky tourist t-shirt that my Dad requested, a snow globe for Jamie Beth, and a few other tid bits just so that I'm not buying everything at the very end of the semester when I'm completely broke! Now its back to reading.
Missing you all,

Monday, 20 January 2014

Hey Monday

Hello to all of my favorite people back home in the states, I miss you all terribly but at the same time I'm so glad that I don't get to see you guys for awhile because London is an amazing place. I'm assuming that this blog post will be rather short considering that my day, similarly to yesterday, was rather uneventful. I'm assuming that no one day will be crazy hectic from now on since we are here for such a long time, just small adventures but adventures nonetheless! The day started out with my trip to the surgeon and she confirmed that I do indeed have a sprained ankle BUT its no worse than that and it should hopefully be better soon. Thank goodness! I just need to take things a little slower, take ibuprofen and wear shoes with support, so nikes it is! After resting in my flat and icing it again I met up with the rest of our group and headed down to the Florida State University building near the British museum where our classrooms will be located for the semester (that is whenever we're not our at a museum, tour, or other adventure!). Once at FSU we took a tiny tour, got our student IDs, and then had our first lecture! Professor Rumbelow was the lecturer and he covered London history from the beginning to near present day. That's quite a lot of material to cover in 2 hours and he speaks so quickly but I enjoyed every minute of it! I'm sure that once the feeling of carpal tunnel subsides my classmates will appreciate it a little more ;). After our lecture I headed back to the flat ALONE and actually sorta felt like I belonged here. I didn't scream "American" or even look lost, success. Later on we had a group meeting and then Emily, Stephanie, Lanna and I went to dinner and grocery shopping. Nothing more to report for today, but I really should get started on my reading for classes. On one final note, just know that you can never escape Abilene. I found a sticker in my sweater today and although I am nearly 5,000 miles from that little town it has followed me here.
Missing you all,

Sunday, 19 January 2014

Lazy Sundays

Happy Sunday everyone! Today I got to worship in St. Paul's Cathedral and oh my goodness was it beautiful, the Lord's work in this city is astounding! This was one of the places that we got to briefly look at yesterday but experiencing worship there was totally different. When I'm at school in Abilene I go to a Lutheran church and so I was familiar with what was going on during the service, unlike many of my classmates. The church is Anglican and to spare you all a long history lesson you should just know that King Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church during his reign because he wanted an annulment...well more than one. Anyways, he formed the Anglican church or the Church of England, basically very very similar to the Catholic church differing almost only in the name. The building that we worshipped in this morning was a reconstruct (beginning in 1675) of the building that burned in the Great Fire of London in 1666. In this spot a church has been represented for over 1,400 years (and even longer if you want to talk about the Roman temple)! And here you thought you weren't going to be in history class today :).
Needless to say I felt like I was a part of a living history today! During the service, which was a sung eucharist, we prayed together, responded as a congregation, read from the New Testament and from the Gospels, shared the Peace "peace be with you!", listened to a sermon, said The Creed (although if I'm being honest I'll tell you that I always skip part of it that I don't feel is a true representation of the church), and partook of the Eucharist (yes mom, with wine!). It was such an amazing morning and I cannot wait to go back there for Sunday services. I love that people from all over the world gathered here today and proclaimed the Gospel of Christ! Today we were all a part of a global church, no matter if you were in Houston, in Abilene, or in Timbuktu I am comforted by the truth that our God transcends all oceans and borders of countries, that our God is greater than any man. Pray with me that the people of London would hear and see Christ in me and in everyone in our group. While this is a study abroad program we carry Christ with us everywhere! I'm going to do my best to have an adventure with purpose.
 This is the group of us from HSU on the steps of the Cathedral.
I set my phone in my lap before the service (as to not look like a tacky tourist) and took a picture of the ceiling! This is inside the huge dome on top. We're going back another day for an official tour and some better pictures.
Selfies at the tube station on the way home and looked like a tourist through and through. So what? I am one!
The rest of the day was pretty lazy, I had lunch with Emily and Dr. Woodfin and discussed some of the assignments for the Britain at War class. It sounds like it is going to be a great class, I can't wait to get started! Speaking of, class starts tomorrow morning, sadly I have to miss it to get my ankle looked at by a surgeon (remember, just a doctor!), we're thinking that it is probably sprained...terrific timing, right? My dad would probably just say to cut it off or offer to hit me somewhere else so that I wouldn't notice it hurting, sorry dad that's not going to work this time. I'll keep you all posted on what I find out, prayers for nothing serious!
After lunch I just hung out in my flat with the girls that live here: Rebecca, Stephanie, Lana, and Emily and we all shared some laughs. I also got around to putting up my bulletin board beside my bed (I think I only lost 1 tack in my bed...that should be interesting to find later) and its pretty snazzy if I do say so myself:
One last thing, Rebecca decided to send me pictures of Lily tonight and I seriously almost was a legitimate problem. Since you all come to read my London blog to see pictures of my dog ;) here's my favorite one.
My girl is so pretty! Okay, okay enough with Lily. I'll chat with you guys later!
Missing you all,

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Fish 'N Chips.

Well today went really well! We started off the morning by meeting for a Tube Rally, as mentioned in my last post, and divided up into smaller groups of 4 or 5 to go on a HUGE scavenger hunt all over the city. The goal was to use the tube as much as possible in order to get us comfortable with the system. (The tube is like the subway, just in case you didn't know, I didn't!) The race took about 6 hours total and holy moly are we all feeling the effects of walking the city of London for two days in a row, we're basically all old people disguised in college student bodies. But for reals I did something to my ankle and feel like an elephant is stepping on it every time there is any pressure so clearly walking was not great today. Prayers that I'll get to feeling better and be up and around in no time. I'm assuming that my soon to be PT bestie, Rebecca would tell me to ice it...sooooo I'll get around to that soon enough. Anyways, back to the tube rally: there were 11 places and at each place we had multiple questions and pictures to take with landmarks and other things. Some of the places were, let's see if I can remember them all: Harrods, Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Paul's Church, The British Museum, The Piccadilly Circus, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Oscar Wilde's grave, Parliament, Trafalgar Square, The Queen's Life Guard, Whitewall, and the Royal... royal something...I can't remember the name of it but it has to do with keeping records (I think?). Needless to say it was a very long day and my wonderful group finished at 3:50, we had 10 minutes to spare and strangely enough I think I'm actually okay with the tube system now! The busses are a whole other ordeal to tackle.
Now for a few pictures:
 Typical phone booths in London! There was talk of removing them with everyone having mobiles now but there was a public outcry for the iconic telephones to remain in the city.
 Just a chat with Oscar Wilde behind St. Martin's church! The quote says "We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars."
 Selfie status with the Queen's Lifeguard! I know, I'm adorable. :P
 Big Ben! Big Ben is actually the name of the bell inside the tower, the tower itself is called Elizabeth Tower.
 Part of Westminster Abbey!! Dang, this was absolutely beautiful and the pictures do not even begin to cover it.
 Buckingham Palace, and yes there were guards with furry hats outside the doors...Alisan, I was thrilled to say the least!
 St. Paul's Church, mentioned yesterday. Eliza Doolittle was sitting here at the beginning of the film :)

St. Paul's Cathedral, I get to go to church here tomorrow!! Tallowood I love you but goodness gracious this is beautiful!
The girls in my group outside Buckingham Palace. In pink, Sidney and plaid Lana, they are both great, Mike was also with us and was behind the camera!

Once we finished all of our stops we came back to our flats and got ready for a fish 'n chips dinner! Um yeah, fish 'n chips is super gross. Obviously I'm living in London so I had to at least try it but nope nope nope, never again.
Also, this particular group of students that I'm with seems to be very into the night life of London, let's be honest: I'm not into night life no matter where it is. If you have ever known me you know that I'm definitely a home body (thanks mom) and prefer to...well blog and watch a movie instead of going out to drink and whatnot. So I'm not only feeling super old, (as most of them are around 18 or 19 and now legal to do whatever they feel like) but a little out of place. Prayers that in this group I would make some great friends and lasting memories. I know that I'll get out there and do night life stuff later on in the semester but currently I'm feeling like since I have a whole 13 weeks to get out there, what's the rush?
Tomorrow we're headed to church at St. Paul's Cathedral! And you know what? I KNOW HOW TO GET THERE. Brilliant :) It's okay if you're a little jealous, this adventure is pretty crazy cool. I'll be going back to many of the places we visited today because I only took pictures on my phone and my Nikon definitley needs to make an appearance here. We have quite a few free Fridays and Saturdays and I don't have class on Tuesdays! Yeah!
Missing you all,

Friday, 17 January 2014

So I live in London now?

A quick introduction for those of you who don’t know exactly what I’m doing this semester and a little bit about me. I’m Lydia, 21 (although almost 22), I’m a senior at Hardin-Simmons University graduating in May 2014, I have 3 sisters, I love Jesus, elephants, travel, purple and my mini dachshund Lily.  I am currently living in London for a study abroad program and will be back in states mid April. I’m taking 4 courses while here: British Life and Culture, London Theater, Britain at War, and English Reformation. I live in flat in bustling central London with 4 great flat mates and my roommate Emily is wonderful!

So to begin this I took a flight on British Airways, about 9 hours, from Houston to London and arrived here about 9am. Needless to say I was exhausted when I arrived due to little sleep on the plane and it being 3am in Houston. Once I had made my way through Heathrow Airport and frustrated the customs officer at my lack of understanding of his accent, I finally met my group and we left the airport to our flats, we then had a briefing meeting on some general guidelines and then eventually moved into our flats. Also, we are all going to be in tip top shape after the semester due to us living on the 4th floor, not to mention to daily hikes through the city! Seriously though this place makes Houston and New York look like a calm walk through a park! Anyways, by this time in the afternoon I was feeling really rundown and wondering when I could catch the next flight back to the states, you laugh but I honestly considered it. I’m not much of a person to be alone and while I’ve come to meet great people over the past 24 hours, I didn’t know anyone but my professor when coming here. My sweet father wrote me letters for the plane, for when I got here and there is one letter for every subsequent week that I am here and while I love reading his letters they make me cry every dang time! (Thanks Dad!) So back to yesterday, we moved in and then headed off to a pizza place very near our flats and practically fell asleep on the tables, there were some who actually did, haha! Once dinner was over I headed back, and didn’t get hit by a double decker bus or cab (although I’m sure it’ll happen sooner or later) in the UK cars have the right of way, not pedestrians! I got to briefly facetime with my Dad and then it was off to bed!

To start the day off we all met up with the group at 9:30 and made our way through the busy streets passing the British Museum and the classrooms that we will use and then divided up by schools to go buy our mobile phones so that we can all keep in touch for these 3 months! I ended up buying a little Samsung pay as you go type deal (very high-tech ;)) and paid 30 pounds. Then it was off to find the grocery store and stock up on a few essentials. The store is very close to our flats and is called Sainsbury, basically just a small Kroger, I got bread, milk, British tea :), peanut butter, and a few other tid bits. Then we came home and had lunch while a few others of us did...well I’m not really sure what...but anyways the professors aren’t really keeping tabs on us, we just kind of go wherever. At 1 we met for a walking tour of our neighborhood let by our British tutor: Professor Rumbalow, he is the greatest and knows everything you could possibly want to know about London history. On the tour that lasted about 2 hours, we saw Covent Garden, St. Paul’s church (for any My Fair Lady fans out there, that’s where Eliza is sitting at the beginning of the film selling flowers), the national portrait gallery, had our first glimpse of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Trafalgar Square, even saw a statue of the great George Washington, and the HUGE theater district. I’m already in love with this city and its only day 2! I’m still getting used to the lingo here but it’s all relatively self-explanatory! Tonight we’re seeing Billy Elliot the musical and most of the day tomorrow we’re having a Tube Rally. Tomorrow should be interesting, ask anyone in my family I have NO sense of direction and I’m guessing it’ll be worse underground. Literally I could probably get lost walking across the street. I’ll be wishing for my own personal GPS tomorrow, Kellie I need you!! The professors keep saying that we’ll be experts soon enough and I’m hoping to even be semi capable, expert not required. Anyways, now it’s time to get ready for the theater tonight and get some dinner, in traditional college student fashion PB&J it is! Pictures to come later.
Missing you all,