Sunday, January 13, 2013

London calling to the faraway towns

Hello everyone!

So I am writing this post after my first week in LONDON!!!! It's amazing, I love this city. There are twenty one of us in the program (11 girls and 10 boys, 6 people from catholic, 6 people from Fordham and the rest come from various schools around the country) and everyone is nice and I'm excited to work with them.  Classes start tomorrow and I figured that I would keep you all updated on my study abroad.

I flew out of San Francisco on Monday and was so nervous on my way to the airport that I wanted to get out of the car and run home to my bed. Going to the international terminal was strange for me because the last time I was there was when I was flying to London in high school and I had a whole bunch of people I knew around me. I also knew that I was going to be home in two weeks, not four months. Getting through security was rough because there were so many people flying and TSA kept yelling at everyone and it made me very glad to be leaving the US. I managed to get through security with enough time to try and use up my American dollars with a quick meal and then I boarded my flight.

I was flying in economy (because really, what average person does not) in a window seat next to a very nice British couple and proceeded to try and make my movie selection for this nine and a half hour journey. I managed to watch two movies (Moonrise Kingdom which was great, and Pitch Perfect which I love) and a bunch of TV shows (The Newsroom is actually pretty good) and as usual, tried to sleep which is always futile for me. We landed at Heathrow at 10:45 the next day (Tuesday) after circling around the airport for awhile, only made clear to me when I realized that I had seen the same clouds-turned-into-fresh-powder (in my imagination)before. Once I got to the airport, it was a race for time because I was trying to meet the LDA coach at noon and we got off our plane at eleven. I got a bit hung up at baggage claim because Heathrow has this confusing carousal that just keeps snaking around the room forever and is never really marked what is what. Yet I made it safely to the Meeting Point and found other LDA students. And the true fun began.

I met about half of the LDA group at the airport and instantly knew that we were all going to hit it off. It became clear when the whole group was trying to figure out a way to stall our leader from leaving because we were still waiting for one person to show up (also flying from San Francisco) whom about half of us had never met. She made it to the coach in the nick of time and we were on our way to Kensington, where we are living. We had to drag all of our suitcases through the tiny streets of Kensington and never felt so silly or foolish before in our lives. We made it to the Atlantic House, which is a dorm that is a part of Richmond University (which has a ridiculously long, expat name). We got a chance to get to our rooms and put our stuff down. I'm living on the first floor with Kyra Jackson, who is from Long Island and is actually exceptionally sweet. Then we were forced to drag our jet-lagged selves in a tour of the very strange building (every dorm room is different, honest to God) and then to two meetings led by a very exuberant American and a somewhat racist British police officer. I went to sleep at 7:15 that night, the earliest I've gone to sleep since I was seven. The next day, we were all comparing what time we went to sleep and how many times we woke up that night.

The next day, we had to find our way to where classes were being held and we taken on a walk to Hampstead Heath by the director of the program. Now, traveling in a group of twenty two people obviously pointed out the fact that we were Americans and when one person got left off the Tube, that just sealed the deal. We had to get off the Tube to wait for them to return and ended up crossing Hungerford Bridge over to the Southbank arts center. After about a half hour of that, we got back on track and made our way to Hampstead Heath which ended up being a two hour walk through a very beautiful and extremely muddy park. We ended the scheduled day with tea at the Kenwood house which was wonderful and gave us a chance to talk to one another again. We then embarrassed ourselves by taking the bus as a large group and took the tube back to High Street Kensington. That night, we tried to find nice bars to go to around the area which just proved to us that we were indeed living in the most expensive part of town.

On Thursday, we started out with a walking tour of the Kensington area led by our Dramatic criticism teacher named Simon, who is very quintessentially British. He took us around the palace and gardens, which are walking distance from home and then took us down to South Kensington into some of the museums along the main drag. It was exceptionally cold that day and we were all ready to stay inside forever. We then had an academic meeting in which we were given our massive time tables with every class and excursion on it, which Kyra and I have since highlighted and tacked up to our door. After this meeting, the girls had to stay for our corset and skirt fittings which was both fun and kind of chaotic. We all learned that we had to hem our skirts because the measurements we sent in were wrong and then had to go on a treasure hunt to try and find the corset that would fit us best. Only two girls ended up not finding on and the rest of us were set. Then we were fed pizza and some of us ended the night by walking along the south bank of the Thames.

On Friday, we didn't have to start our day until one pm and I slept late and ran some errands. We then were having a meeting with all of the people that are a part of the London Centre and it ended up being some strange lecture on how we have to create real memories and not fake ones. It made entirely no sense. Then us LDA students had a meet and greet with our faculty and were given more free food. I loved the meet and greet because it gave me a chance to meet all my teachers and realize that I am super excited for classes to begin. That night, a bunch of us manged to get into a very nice club for free and had a fun time, though it was strange at first.

Yesterday was actually the greatest day of my life. It started by going to see a play at the Almedia theatre called The Dark Earth and The Light Sky which was about the relationship between poets Robert Frost and Edward Thomas. It was a good play with a few flaws (the lead actress had this strange face she kept making and Frost's American accent was horrid). The best part of the day was when four of us girls decided to go get standing room tickets for Julius Caesar at the Donmar Warehouse, which we had all been told to go see. We luckily got the last four standing room tickets for only seven pounds and saw the greatest piece of theatre that I have ever seen. It was an all-female production set in a women's prison that did not have a single weak actress in the bunch. It was scary and violent and totally bad-ass. The actress playing Brutus, Casius and Marc Anthony were probably some of the best actors, male or female, that I have ever seen and I am so glad that I manged to go see the show. We ended the night by walking around down by Westminster and came home to chill out and tell everyone and their mother about JC.

Today we have nothing scheduled and I have taken advantage of it by clearly blogging and sleeping late. I need to go buy a phone later and get prepared for classes tomorrow. But I just wanted to tell you all about my first week in London.

I plan on updating this at least once a week and will try to make it just as action packed as this one!


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