Ok. So what I figured out is that I suck at blogging. I must have come to this sight a dozen times-- ready to update-- but then felt too tired and decided to do it another day. So, three-ish weeks later, here I am without a single travel blog entry from London. Way to go, Megan. Way to go.
So here's the plan. I'm going to go through my journal and find the highlights of the weeks and separate them into different blog entries. And, as noted above, this'll be week one. Here I go:
We made it to London without incident. It was the most turbulent flight I have ever, ever been on. And it's the first time that actually thought about plane crashes while I was on the plane. It wasn't THAT turbulent. But it's surprising how dramatic everything seems when you're 32,000 feet off the ground.
We arrived in London to rain-- which I was expecting-- but still. The only other time I had been to London was in July. So I kinda had this picture of London always being hot and sunny. It definitely isn't. In fact, the first day we were here we got drenched in Hyde Park. We (Alyson and I, who were traveling together) met up with Kate and Matthew (both from Puget Sound) and got food at a pub. My first pub experience. I had a tomato sandwich. On the way back to the hotel, we cut through Hyde Park... looking back now, it probably wasn't the smartest idea. It started pouring. Kate and I had umbrellas, but Matthew and Alyson got completely soaked. It was an adventure.
We spent the next night in a hostel, which wasn't nearly as nice as the free Hilton (my mom had tons of VIP points with them), but it was good for a hostel. Alyson and I took a cab to get there. The idea of lugging our huge suitcases up and down the stairs at the tube station did not appeal to either of us. That'll probably be the only cab ride I take while I'm here. And I guess you have to take a black taxi at least once while you're in London. So I can cross that off the list.
Then we (Alyson and I-- who are rooming together) met the host family-- the Nixsons. They are so nice. John and Anne have three daughters. One is a year older than us, is married and lives in Chelsam (or something like that) with her husband. The next daughter is 16, and the next is 10. They're a really lovely family. And I'm very grateful to have them while I'm here.
Our room is super cute, too. If you wanna see pictures, you can look on my facebook!
The following week was spent getting oriented. After the first day of the program, I knew that I had honestly made the right choice for study abroad programs. London is just an amazing city and the ILACA program offers so much. The building where the center is was built in the 1700s. It's just amazing to me that the room I eat lunch in is older than The United States. And it'll never get old to look out the window and see the Georgian Row houses. It's just amazing.
Throughout the week, we went to the Tower of London, took a river cruise, went to the British Museum, and the Tate Britain. And on top of all the excursions, we had classes. I'm taking these classes: Britain Today (about the modern history and politics of Britain), London: Biography of a City (about the history (dating all the way back to the pre-Romans) of London (and every other class is a walking tour... and it's amazing), Playwriting, Drawing London (a small class that I'm taking just for fun and for zero credit) and (my personal favorite) Shakespeare the Dramatist. Each class is great. I have a fantastic schedule (what the Brits call a timetable... which always makes me think of multiplication). We've been kept very busy around here. Talk about a city that never sleeps! How about a twenty-year-old college student who never sleeps! The week was very busy, but I enjoyed it a ton.
On the weekend, a group of us spent time at the Thames Festival. A big chunk of the length of the Thames was devoted to this festival. There was food, and drinks, and shops, and tons of people. I described it to my family as the Salt Lake farmers market times ten million billion. It was just a really good picture of this city. Here are all these people, from everywhere around the world (Norway, Romania, South America, and even a little mormon girl from Utah), with all these artsy put together shops and booths with Tower Bridge and the Houses of Parliament (Big Ben and all) in the backdrop. What a fantastically awesome place. I had a really good time.
On Sunday I headed to church. I decided that I would go to a singles ward here in an attempt to meet more people my own age. The singles ward takes forever to get to from my home in Harrow. I have to take the Tube into South Kensington. It takes about an hour-- which really isn't too bad. But it's the waiting for the train time that I don't enjoy. Tubes run a lot less frequently on Sundays. It's funny how fast you can get used to expecting a train to come right away. On Sundays it probably runs a little bit like TRAX runs on normal, busy days. But the actual Tube ride is fairly pleasnt. I never really mind long, leisurely journeys.
The actual church building is pretty awesome. It's also HUGE!! Fricking ginormous. I think it's probably bigger than Two stake centers back at home. It's great. It's so cool to be in a building that isn't a cookie cutter of every other church I've ever been to. The people are all really cool, too. It's the kind of ward I wish I had at school. There's people from everywhere. Of course from Britain, but there's also a ton from the States, Australia, Romania, Hungary-- they're from everywhere. And I really like that. But even thought the church may look different, it's essentially the same as it is anywhere else-- which is one of the reasons I love this gospel. I get the same essential words and ordinances as I would get back in Salt lake or Tacoma. Everyone there still believes the same gospel theat I've learned all my life. It's really quite astounding. It's beautiful to me that so many different people from so many different places could all believe the same gospel. But I can't help but thinking, even with some 13 million members, the world of the church is small. Which is why one guy ran into a girl that his best friend baptized on his mission. And why three of the new people that day were from Utah.
That concludes week one. Stay tuned for week two!!