Sunday, April 21, 2013

Goodbye may seem forever....

But it's really just a see you later.

THE END!!!!!

The End is Here

The date is Sunday April 21, 2013. Last time I checked, it was January 3rd.

Where did the time go?

Tomorrow I'll be on a plane home to New York, with my parents waiting for me outside the terminal. I don't think I can tell you how excited I am for that because I'm sure you all know how it feels to see people you love after being away for a long time. It's the only reason why I would like this day to go by faster.

On the other hand, I want this day to last as long as possible. London has been my home for the last four months and I didn't realize just how much I have grown to love it here. Sure it's expensive (but what city isn't?) and the expiration dates are a pain in the butt to deal with, as are people who work in restaurants here, but it is also extremely diverse, there are countless things to do, places to go, easy to use public transportation, and easy access for international travel as compared to flying from the States. I know that I'll be glad to be home for a day before wishing I were back in this amazing city.

A few days ago I talked with my parents, who were already preparing for my arrival, and I was recalling about all that I had done during my time over here, specifically how different I am. Of course everyone who has read this blog knows that little fact but I think I was especially proud of myself when my Mom told me I was no longer a small town girl and to be honest I agree. I wouldn't go as far to say that I'm a complete city girl (because I think that depends on the city) but I can navigate this place no problem now because I've had to rely on maps and directions to get to places and it turns out I'm pretty good at orienting myself. However it's easy to do if you really just look at the map and be observant once you're on your way.

New York as a city is fairly easy to navigate because it works as a grid system. Each street eventually meets up with each other and all you have to do is find the points in which your destination lies. London is not like that at all. The streets are named after different places or people so it takes you a while to get accustomed to it. To be honest it feels weird to be going back to New York and I feel like it's got nothing on London. Then again, I actually had to immerse myself with the city and learn about it whereas with New York, I would only go there for day trips. I never had to learn to find my way to classes or certain places nor take the subway so often. So when I think about the sight of the New York, I think I'll just long for the fact that it's not London.

Now that you know how I feel, let me tell you something a little more upbeat.

Friday was my last day at my internship and it sucked to say goodbye to everyone. They even gave me a card with a gift card to TopShop (a clothing store here). Also because it was Natalie's birthday, they opened up a bottle of champagne and I got to have some (insert smug look here).

The rest of that night was spent doing laundry to finish packing but then we decided to go out for a bit since it was the last Friday night we had here. We went to Leicester Square and met a few guys from Eritrea who were really nice and extremely talkative. One of the guys nicknamed me Disney because the way I laughed made him think of Mickey Mouse. As for yesterday (Saturday) I went to see the Changing of the Guard that occurs in front of Buckingham Palace which was great because I got to finally see the traditional red coat guards that people like to make fun of since they have to be so serious all the time. Although after the ceremony I think the guards were still performing because they were marching back and forth between their posts really dramtically but maybe that was just me. However I loved the irony of the fact that once I got there, the marching band was warming up with the Sinatra song, "New York New York". Did they know that I would be heading there soon and were getting me prepared? We may never know.

After that happened, I walked through the nearby park (Green Park) and realized that this was the station I would get off at to change to the Victoria line to head to my internship. Natalie recommended walking from Green Park to Oxford Circus one day because it was really nice. Since I had nothing better to do, I did. When she said nice I thought she meant you have good views of places. While in truth that was right, it was NICE. I mean I saw Dolce & Gabana, Cartier, The Ritz Hotel, all these fancy places that I would have to donate organs to science in order to have the smallest access to them. Anyway, I got to Piccadilly Circus and headed towards Leicester Square (treating myself to some Haagen-Daez ice cream) before walking to Trafalgar Square. So many things go on at Trafalgar Square such as giant pillow fights, filming the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, and St. Patrick's Day. Yesterday it was the Feast of Saint George.

Just a little background in case you don't know, Saint George is the patron saint of the European countries and his flag, white with a red cross, is part of what makes up the Union Jack flag. Anyway there were tents set up that were selling food, crafts, and entertainment. I ended up trying a scotch egg, which is a hard boiled egg wrapped up in sausage and corn meal. It was pretty tasty actually even though I'm not a big sausage fan. One guy as I was walking past eating my little snack looked at it with longing. I quickly scurried away before he could do anything else.

From there I went to Westminster, saying a final goodbye to Big Ben before heading back to Gloucester Road. After I had to finish up a few things, I decided to take one final stroll through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. And I literally walked through the entire park of both of them. My legs were hurting when I got back to my room. Also it was warm and sunny so I think it was a great way to end this journey.

Since I'm not going home until tomorrow, not sure what I'm going to do. Although I have a feeling it will mostly be cleaning up the room before heading out tomorrow morning. I don't feel ready to leave but it's gotta happen right? I have had the best four months of my life and I would do it all over again if you asked me to. Even though I missed Serendipity, being with my teammates, and working in Sports Info I am so glad I took the chance to come here.

I don't want to end this blog because it's been fun having people read what I'm writing and actually liking it so I might have to continue doing something similar once I'm back home. I'm not sure what I would talk about but if it ever happens I'll let you know.

So get ready because this girl is heading on home! Thanks for sharing this journey with me and I hope I made you all proud :)


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

School's Out!

Yes I am finally done with classes for the semester! Can you believe it?

Thankfully it wasn't too stressful and I got everything done. I mostly had papers to write though I did have a written exam for one of my classes. I'm also pretty sure I am developing carpal tunnel from the writing I did for that exam because my hand is killing me! Maybe I should start copying everyone and do everything on my computer. Then again, if I did that I wouldn't have nice handwriting and actually writing stuff out on paper, whether an outline or notes, helps me when I am working on something. Also since I'm constantly coming up with story ideas I'm more likely to have a pen and paper with me than my laptop. But I digress.

One of my assigments was to do an internship report that was 3000 words and it was complete hell. You had to go into the background of your internship and then do a SWOT analysis, which just means you identify their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It was very annoying especially since that had to be 1000 words and it's much harder to come up with 1000 words than you would imagine. Why do you think students tend to BS their papers so much? Thankfully I didn't have to do much of that for my second paper which was about translating the Harry Potter books to the film screen and I actually feel pretty decent with how I wrote it. I'll have to wait until next week to see what my grade is but hopefully it's good. As for my written exam, it was essay form and I felt really good about what I knew and I wrote a lot so I'm also hoping for a good grade on that. All that is left for me is my final three days of my internship and it's such a bittersweet thing.

The other FIE intern who worked with me, Brad, left on Sunday and is now back in the States and it is kind of sad to know that when I go in on Thursday and Friday he won't be there. Sometimes he acts like a bit of a jerk but he was really nice most of the time and extremely funny and friendly. Everyone around the office liked him a lot and I know if he had his choice he would stay longer. I would too if I were honest. I like where I work and I like the people I work with. They have all been great and I've gotten comfortable with them. I'll definitely miss everyone.

It's so bittersweet to know that I'll be leaving in six days. I've already told my mom what I want when I get home, although I'm still pondering what I will have for my first meal back home. There are so many choices to pick from but I think I'll have an answer before I leave. This past weekend was my last time I went out in London, club wise and it was a lot of fun. We were able to get into this place in Soho for five pounds, the only problem was that it was really small and for some reason they liked to release smoke that blinded you and smelled like hookah smoke. That wasn't pleasant at all but the people who were there absolutely were. It isn't the same going out in Greensboro because places are further and you have to drive there. I think that is one thing I'll miss the most, public transportation. It was nice to not have to worry about driving places, gas prices (because they are ridiculously high over here) and you get exercise by walking everywhere. It will definitely be a little weird going from using the Tube and buses to driving a car and on the opposite side of the road no doubt. I won't lie I've gotten used to them driving on the left side on the road and now that I'm going back it is gonna mess with me a little bit.

Something else I'm not looking forward to is getting back on Eastern Standard Time. It's weird to think that just when my day is ending over here, the day back home is just beginning for everyone else. Not to mention when I wake up around 7 or 8 here, it will be midnight or one in the morning back home. I was even told by a few colleagues at work that I'll probably wake up early and go to bed earlier than I'm used to. I guess that isn't such a bad thing but still I'm worried. Also my flight gets in to Newark in the afternoon and my Mom is gonna have to try and keep me awake for at least five hours because I know I'm gonna want to crash once I get off the plane. I don't like international flights at all. When I first got to London I felt so sick. My stomach was hurting, I felt like I was getting a migraine, and so I caved and took an hour nap once I got to my flat. It was definitely needed but I'm not looking forward to that happening again.

Another thing I'm not looking forward to is the fact that I'm heading back to my small town. After being in a city where there is so much to do and so many places to go, it will be so dull! I feel like Greensboro will be the same way. I don't know, it seems like after being here for so long, everything feels inferior to London. Furthermore I am starting to feel like a Londoner myself and I could stay here for another few months if I was allowed to. Just send my parents and my sister over and I'll never want to go back to the States.

I will return to the UK at some point. Maybe even attend graduate school over here but I want to come back and not just for visiting. I would need to be here for a fixed amount of time. My mom suggested that I create a bucket list of things that I want to do after I told her that the next time I'm in Europe I want to visit the Eastern countries such as Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, etc. I'm already a world traveler, why not get a few more places underneath my belt. Plus being on this side of the world is easier and cheaper to get flights to these places than if I were to catch a flight from the States. However for now my traveling is put on hold since I still have to finish school and figure out what the heck I'm doing once I graduate.

Speaking of graduating, since classes are done I'm technically a senior. Where the hell did time go? I can remember being a freshman and moving into my dorm room as if it were only yesterday. Now I'm about to enter my final year of college and it's scary. My sister can hardly believe I'm almost done with college and I'm sure my parents feel the same way. I didn't realize that the older you get the faster time moves for you. As a kid you don't really think about it and you wish that time would speed up so you can be older and not have so many restrictions. Adults, especially college students, wish the opposite. I do long for the days where your parents did everything for you, no worries about anything except what game to play with your friends. But at the same time I like getting older and experiencing important steps such as studying abroad. Do I wish I could stay longer? Absolutely. I feel like there is more to be done but it's time for this chapter to end. I'm not sure how life will be once I'm back at Guilford. I feel as if I have been living in an alternate reality while everyone else I know has been moving on forward with their lives over there. There is no way you can just jump back in because you know you've changed as a person and the only thing to do is to find a way to make who you have become fit into your old lifestyle. Easier said than done, right?

Only three more days left until it's time to pack up and head home. I promise to tell you all that happens and maybe even upload a few pictures of the people I work with. They are quite the characters and I'm sure you would like to know who they are since I've mentioned them a few times. There are probably two more posts left until this blog is completed so look out for them because they will be coming soon.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Home Stretch

And so we have entered April. It's crazy to think that I only have a little more than two weeks left here in London and to be honest I am really excited to go home. Don't get me wrong I love the city and I don't want to leave but at the same time I'm anxious to be home. Not to mention seeing Serendipity pictures at Guilford makes me wish I was there with my friends. Furthermore I'm at the point where I'm just frustrated with school and stuff happening with next year such as uncertain housing arrangements. I want to be in the States and able to take care of it in person instead of being helpless on the other side of the world.

Aside from getting ready to leave, I have been having a lot of fun the past few weeks. During St. Patrick's Day I watched the parade that went through Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square and that weekend in general I was out having fun. It was most likely my second favorite weekend I've spent here. As for Easter I didn't do much. I didn't have work on that Friday and Monday which meant I could focus on a paper that was due on Tuesday. Therefore I was a bit of a hermit. However I did go out on Friday night with a girl from Marist. We went to a concert in Stepeney Green (kind of a sketchy place) and the band was called The Gaslight Anthem. I hadn't heard of them but I am never one to turn down a good rock concert. And man was it fun! There are pictures up on my Facebook and they were the only good ones I could get. Other than that one night out, I only went outside to go run.

Speaking of running, on Easter Sunday I decided it was a day where I needed to get out of my room and what better way to blow off some steam than go for a run in the park? Well while I was doing a loop around Kensington Gardens I thought I would shake it up a bit and go somewhere else. So I ran to the tube station and hopped on the District Line to St. James' Park. In that little park you had an excellent view of Buckingham Palace when you crossed a little bridge placed idylically over a flowing brook. When I ran around the park I realized from street signs that Westminster wasn't too far from where I was so I thought why not take a run past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament? That led me to Westminster Pier, with the London Eye right in front of me, and running along the Thames. But it doesn't stop there. Oh no, I decided to be a full on nutter and take the tube to South Kensington station and finish my run around that area before heading back to Metrogate. In total, I did almost two hours of running. It seems like a half marathon should be no problem after all that but my legs were hurting me later on. Still it was nice to get the chance to run around the city even if it was windy and cold.

I have been a running machine lately though. I'm not sure what has gotten into me but I think that really long run, partnered with the stress of school, made something click inside me because anytime I think "I'll go for a nice, easy run", I end up wanting to go longer and even at work I can feel my legs twitch, wanting to go run around the area where I work. But hey if this gets me through conditioning in the summer I have no qualms about it. Also it now feels more like something I need to do rather than what I have to do. Running allows me to let my mind wander and release everything I am feeling. If I'm angry or happy I let my body fly because if I don't I feel ready to spontaneously combust. I have always been one to love running for the sake of running. I don't like competing because then I feel like I have to prove something to everyone instead of just myself. Of course that isn't to say I'm not a competitive person. Get me angry and you'll see just what I can dish out. But I think running is something that should allow you to feel unrestricted by everything else in your life and not cause added stress because you have to win a race or beat somebody. There is nothing worse than having what you love turn into something you despise because others think you should take it just as seriously as they do. What's the point of working hard at something when you don't even have the desire that drives you forward?

Sorry for the small digression but when I get a thought I just go with it. I guess that's why I have tons of notebooks at home filled with unfinished stories.

 Anyway, this week at my internship the full-time runner, Luke, had the whole week off and headed back home up north so on Wednesday I had to work with someone else because that is the day where he and I are the only runners. On the one hand I was glad to have someone there and not have to do everything myself. I was also grateful that it wasn't very busy that day. However she was very new to running and had only had one running job before this so she was still searching for something permanent. I had to step up that day and take the lead because I was the veteran. It wasn't as terrifying as I thought it would be and my co-workers were really impressed with how I handled myself, which was fantastic. Also the girl, Alice is her name, and I got on really well. There was a lot of laughing going on and we were the main cause of it. Thursday and Friday, however, I was really glad that I had Brad to help because he has been there a month longer than I have and so it was nice to have someone I'm comfortable with there to help. But I am super excited to see Luke on Wednesday because the place is definitely not the same without his wacky personality.

I will definitely miss both of those guys when I leave and I will also miss working at Lucky Cat because everyone there is really chill and it's a great atmosphere. I was so excited that I got to help out with tapes coming in because it gave me the chance to work with the program Avid a little bit and I hope I can do more of that before I leave.

As for my remaining time here, I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do because it feels like I have a lot to on my plate in order to finish up the semester and get ready to head home. Plus it's hard to figure out what else there is to see when you've already seen so much. Today I just walked around Covent Garden and Leicester Square because it was sunny and blue sky (compared to the snow we got earlier this week) I couldn't waste it indoors. I ended up finding this place called Cyber Candy where it sold sweets from different countries in the world. I had found one in Camden but this is the store Luke told me to go to. Both stores have pretty much the same products but the one in Camden had Cheerwhine! You can't even get that in New York, it's pretty much a southern thing. Also there were biscuits called Tim Tams from Australia that looked really good and also Korean watermelon flavored bubble gum and even Japanese cereal. However I will say the shop in Covent Garden had a giant Willy Wonka gumball machine right in front of the store as soon as you walk in. It took some restraint to not buy everything there.

But I did end up buying a MoonPie from the shop because I had to see if it was "nummie nummie". If you understand that reference and aren't my parents then we need to be best friends. A MoonPie is essentially a biscuit topped with marshmallow covered in chocolate. A huge mallomar if you even know what those are. I may have to get more at some point, which reminds me that I need to start making a box of things to send home that won't go in my suitcase. Ugh so much to do! I am ready to shut my brain off for a long while. So fair warning Mom, once my head hits the pillow of my bed, don't expect me to wake up for a week.

Just so you know there will definitely be a couple more posts before I head home. As for the content, you and I will both have to see what I have to talk about.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Some Personal Reflection

This isn't really about anything, it's more to about getting my thoughts down and thinking about all that I've been through in the past three months.

Kelly says I shouldn't think so much but when you have been an English major for the last three years, you are taught to think about what you have in front of you. Usually it's a text in which I have to go underneath the surface to find meaning. But this time I am digging into myself and realizing that I am so not the same person I was when I left the States back in January.

I'll give you a few examples.

Number one: Independence. When I got into college I thought I had gained some form of independence because I was far from home, I had to depend on myself, and I had to adapt to a new situation. It took some time but I eventually ended up making friends and finding my interests. However, that is nothing compared to what I've done over here. For one thing, I wasn't homesick at all until I ended up getting a Valentine's Day card from my Dad. I took for granted the fact that my Mom and Dad were just a phone call away and they could come get me if I was having a miserable time in my first year of school (and even anytime after that). It's not the same when you're on the other half of the world and your main communication is Skype and Facebook chat, which only occur if the internet doesn't decide to crap out on you. But I think what got me through everything is the fact that I know I am going home. I can always come home. With that in the back of my mind, it allowed me to really open up to this city I have been dreaming of for who knows how long. Which leads to my second example, experience.

I'm from a small town and in high school I wanted to get out. My sister had done it and she seemed happy, I don't know what I couldn't do the same. And hell, I wanted Guilford as my top choice, which ended up becoming a reality and it was the best choice I made in a school. Don't get me wrong, I love New York and it most likely would have been cheaper to go to a state school than to Guilford but I felt that if I stayed in New York, I would never get out and deep down, I wanted to let my adventurous side show and prove to myself that I was capable of leaving the nest. I'm sure my sister and my parents had doubts about how I would get acclimated (I even had my doubts) but I was doing this for a new experience. Again this doesn't compare to any of my experiences over here. I went to two countries where the language barrier was a pain to navigate and I had to deal with issues from people who have different ways of expressing themselves which added to the frustration. However these are the results that came from that: I have started speaking up when I think I am onto something, I don't care what anyone says about me behind my back because in the end all that matters is how I view myself and how I want people who I care about to see me, and I am one strong person when it comes to handling situations. I still need to work on communicating my feelings because I'm such an introvert but that will come with time.

I will add this last little thing: I am not a mind reader and I cannot tell when someone is mad at me so if you have an issue with me, bring it up, we'll talk calmly about it and try to find a solution. Otherwise I am not to blame if you hide your feelings from me. Personally I don't like confrontation myself but I am good at ignoring things and making situations tolerable. If you cannot do the same, then things need to be dealt with.

The fact that I just said all of this brings me to my third example: self-confidence. Like all women I do not have the best self-esteem issues; I never have. Since middle school I always felt body conscious, unworthy, inferior, and pretty much didn't like who I was. In high school it changed but I was still had some issues with myself. After a while I think I started, slowly but surely, seeing myself in a different way. I was running a lot and looking and feeling strong, I was doing a great job at being an editor for the newspaper and found out other agreed as well, and despite all the emotional issues I went through by losing one of my best friends I came out stronger than ever. I feel better about myself than I ever have and it's fantastic to actually admit it. Tieing this back into independence, I feel like I can now rely on myself for most things. I do still need help along the way (and I'm trying hard to still admit it to myself) but I feel confident that once I'm done with college, there isn't anything that I can't handle.

Even though I feel myself growing into a much more mature person, I wouldn't have gotten through most of my hurdles without the help of my family and friends. They were my crutch and I've still had their support the entire time I've been in England. I feel bad when I hear people say that their families are not the greatest and can be dysfunctional most of the time because that has never been the case with my family. Granted my sister and I almost killed each other while we were growing up but then again that is just how siblings are. We quarrel and shout but at the end of the day we would die for each other. Kelly is the person I go to for things most of the time (sorry Mom) now that I'm no longer the annoying little sister and I love seeing how she backs me up and gives me advice that I tend to follow because it almost always works. My parents are the same way and I am pretty open with them on certain topics, which I don't think a lot of people can say but I'm proud to be able to tell them about stuff that is happening in my life because at the end of the day, as long as my sister and I are happy, they have done their job.

Finally, I have the best friends in the entire world. It's been hard to communicate with most of my friends back at home because of the time difference as well as the fact they are busy with their semesters. However I can always count on Molly, my cousin Matt, and Amanda to get me through a lot of stuff. Molly will always be my best friend and confidant because we can go months without speaking and then finally pick up where we left off as if we had just seen each other the other day. That is a friendship that is meant to last and I wouldn't have it any other way. Matt is my second favorite guy (Dad will always be number one) but we've been tight ever since we were babies and can talk about anything (even though he takes forever to answer back on Facebook chat). Finally Amanda is just someone who can make me laugh anytime anywhere, even if it's just a comment on my picture.

I'm also not forgetting the rest of my friends who I love dearly and cannot wait to get back to in April but this is me showing you a glimpse into how I have found the strength to do what I have done. I may have done most of the work but everyone else has given me the shove to actually act on it. There have been those who have impacted my life more than others but everyone I've met and gotten to know has made an impact on me, whether good or bad. The ones who have stayed in my life have shown me that there are people who are worth the effort and think the same about you. So thank you to all of you because you have helped me reach this level I never thought I would get to.

I'm not going to repost this in Facebook because I think a lot of people read this, even those who are here and I feel like I may indirectly hurt someone if they read it so I would rather avoid that altogether. So this is kind of like an early Easter egg for anyone who decides to look at my blog again. Also I'll be writing about my weekend in my next post which deals with how I celebrated St. Patrick's Day UK style and updates about my weekend because it was a lot of fun.

That is enough of my ranting for now but I will probably post another reflection like this at the end of my blog when it is time for me to head home so be prepared for that. Otherwise I will see you next time :)


Monday, March 11, 2013

She Works Hard (But Not for the Money)

I'm just becoming a blogging monster because I can't believe I'm about to update y'all again. This time it's just about my first week at my internship. I told a few people about this already so for those who are seeing this again, sorry, but for anyone who is curious about how my week went, read onward.

So before I came to London, I had to apply for a student visa that allows me to work in the UK (and the process takes forever and stresses you out more than it should). As you can see, I acquired it a week before I left the States and can now happily work at my internship. The sucky part is I can't get paid for it (and it's a 9 to 5:30 job!). Oh well, that's adulthood for you.

As I mentioned previously, my internship is at a post production company called Lucky Cat that is based in the Soho region of London (and an awesome place to work I must add). Their clients work mostly with Channel 4 but sometimes there will be clients from other television networks and their job is to cut together trailers or promos for televisions and movies that will be premiering on the network. This week we had a guy working on a promo for Get Him to the Greek (not the greatest movie but it had some funny parts) and someone else working on one for the show Revenge. There were other small jobs going on at the same time, mostly in the audio suite which was right above my head and because the place is so small, you can hear everything. Sometimes it's cool but after a while you just want to unplug the equipment.

There are around six rooms in total that are used for editing. Three on the main floor and three upstairs but two are main offices for two regulars, Craig who does sound and Jonathan who is an editor. The biggest room is the audio suite (which is amazing inside. Honestly the sound board is huge) and Craig takes great pride in it. Both of them are really nice. Craig always asks how I'm doing and will even give me work out tips because he is a part time personal trainer. Jon doesn't talk to me much but when he opens his mouth I can't stop laughing.

The same goes for everyone else that I work with. They are all extremely nice and I have become really close with Luke, who is also a runner and shares responsibilities with me. He helps me out a lot and we joke around all the time; he's becoming like a big brother in a way. Brad is the other guy I work with and is in the FIE program with me. He attends Temple University in Philly. Unfortunately I only got to work with him for one day because he was sick on Friday and only comes in twice a week as opposed to my three times a week. Still it will be cool to get to know him better as well.

I'm seriously excited to go back on Wednesday because I like going to work, despite having to wake up early. I get a lot of down time when people are working and it allows me to chat with everyone else and there is also a bookcase that has a bunch of books (I'm currently half way through Treasure Island) which I am thankful for because that passes time and even sparks conversation with people who come in and out. Although the fact that I'm not from England interests people too.

For example, one woman came in to do voice over work on Friday and requested a latte. So I delivered it to her and as I handed it to her, she asks where I am from. I hesitate for a second trying to formulate what exactly to tell her but before I can say anything, the next thing out of her mouth is, "Are you Canadian?"

That was definitely a first for me. I never thought I had any kind of accent, not even a New York one. So the fact that this woman thought I sounded Canadian was a complete blind side. I wasn't offended or anything but the inside joke that my friends have here with me is a woman at the airport when we were heading to Barcelona told us to tell British people that we were from Canada because they are nicer to Canadians than Americans. I related this information to the woman, and the two other guys in the room and had them laughing. One of the guys even confirmed that this observation was partly true. The woman explained it was probably because Canada is still part of the UK in a way. Makes sense.

And that isn't even the end of it. When I told my friends this later on, they agreed that I sounded Canadian. Does everyone agree with that? If so, thanks for telling me (sarcasm).

Anyway that is what my first week was like back and with my internship. I honestly have nothing planned for my next entry or what it will be about. I'll probably just shoot the breeze or something or maybe talk about the fact that I have only six weeks until I am back in the States. Who knows. However spring break pictures are up on Facebook so go check them out and give me over a hundred notifications if you please.


Monday, March 4, 2013

It's Good to be Back

So yes spring break is done and I can honestly say I am very happy to be back in South Kensington. As wonderful as Barcelona and Paris were, London has started to feel like home and when I got back, I wanted to jump for joy. It's not so much that I didn't have fun over break because the places I went to were both amazing but I definitely had my eyes opened and it feels as though I've aged at least ten years. Mom and Dad says it's because I'm experienced now. I couldn't agree more.

My last entry was a bit rushed because I had a tour that was about to take off and I really wanted to share how great Barcelona had been so far. I thought I would do the same with Paris but most of my days I was out and about in the city and when I got back to my hostel I was too tired to actually write anything. Seriously, I went to bed around 10:45 the first night and 11:30 subsequently for the rest of my time there. Still I enjoyed being in Paris. Never in my lifetime did I think I would get the chance to visit.

However the toughest part of the whole trip was the language barrier. Between the five of us traveling, there were two semesters of college French and one year of high school French. I remembered a decent amount from French class, mostly vocab but I can't speak sentences and to be honest, I am a perfectionist when it comes to languages. If I can't say it right, then I won't say it at all. I'm always nervous I'll say something wrong and the context will be misinterpreted or I will not know how else to get what I am saying across. Of course it ended up causing problems within my group, especially when two of the five don't know any French whatsoever, so I have to learn how to be a little bit more comfortable when it comes to a country where I know the language a bit more than others.

Although I will say, if I ever end up going back to Paris (and I kind of want to because it's probably a lot nicer in late spring/early summer and there are other things I didn't get the chance to try) I will either need another semester of French under my belt (or Rosetta Stone), a French boyfriend, and either my sister, my best friend, my cousin (or all three) to go with me.

Aside from what was going on with me and my group, I got to do some amazing things I never imagined would be possible. First of all, yeah I went up the Eiffel Tower. I didn't go to the very top because I don't like heights and would have most likely had a panic attack on the elevator ride up there. So I settled for the second floor and still got an enchanting view of the city. Granted the day was overcast and a bit misty, it was still fantastic to be able to be up there. My Mom had done the same when she was younger and when I skyped her, it felt really nice to actually talk about it with her because she has been there and done that (though she was not a fan of the city at all and I can't really blame her). Also, did anyone know that the Eiffel Tower sparkles at night on the hour? It's gorgeous! I still get chills whenever I think about it. Of course being the nerd that I am, whenever I thought of the Eiffel Tower, all I could think about was the scene from the movie Anastasia when they finally make it to Paris and that damn musical number. If you don't know what I'm talking up, look up "Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart" from Anastasia and you'll see what I mean.

Of course the Disney movie references didn't stop there because I visited Notre Dame cathedral. To make you even more jealous, I WENT INSIDE! Holy cow that place is gorgeous and I even lit a candle (2 euros well spent I say) and I even got to hear the bells ring. You can actually go up to the bell tower and take a tour up there but my money supply was running low and I still had Versailles to go to but maybe next time. And judge me all you want here but when we were heading back to the metro, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to watch the Hunchback of Notre Dame. I even compared and contrasted how the church looked in the movie to how it looked when I was right in front of it.

Before I get to Versailles, which is the last big thing I will say in this post, I did go to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa as well as Venus de Milo (I have pictures of both!). However it was too overwhelming for me. At one point I sat down and just stared at a portrait for fifteen minutes just to process what the hell I was doing. You need two days to get through that museum to appreciate it all. I did most of it in two hours and I wanted to get the hell out and never go back. Seriously my brain imploded and it felt as though my energy was completely depleted from my body.

So my last day in Paris ended with a trip to Versailles and it was the best part. Versailles is just outside of Paris and is home to Versailles Palace which was first built by King Louis XIV and last inhabited by Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette when the French Revolution broke out. Now I can see why. That place is the epitome of French oppulence. Gold gates, doors ten times my size, fireplaces that use trees instead of logs, an entire wing that was an art gallery filled with sculptures and paintings, and a large garden that was a labyrinth with at least ten different fountains plus the long canal that was in the middle of it all. I bought the Passport ticket which allowed you all of Versailles for 18 euros (a pretty damn good price if you ask me) and it was so worth it! Also, despite the fact the day was chilly and gray, the place still looked magnificent (and the garden wasn't even in bloom!). The gardens were free and open to the public so I saw quite a few people running and felt very jealous. I would love to run around that place; it would be the best long run of my life!

I would love to go back when the garden is completely green and maybe when they have a special event going on, like a concert or fireworks show, which they do have but of course it was a bit too cold for events like that. That was my favorite experience of France and something I definitely wouldn't mind repeating if I were to ever go again.

Paris itself is a gorgeous city, though a little dirty (a lot of the metro stations smelled like urine but I'm sure that was mostly to do with the large number of homeless people who live there) but I think you can find that with any type of city. Go to New York and you have one of the dirtiest cities around. However that shouldn't take away from what it offers you. Not many get the chance to be in a famous city and some probably never will but the fact that you have that chance now, I wouldn't take it for granted. Hell, I got to even see the Moulin Rouge and the cafe from Amelie because I got lucky enough to stay in the Montmarte neighborhood. I'm sure not a lot of people can say they have done that and I am grateful to be one of the few who can.

However I am just so glad to be back in London and I'm glad I don't have anymore immediate travel plans because I need a break. My internship starts on Wednesday and I am super stoked for it. This means I only have seven weeks left of my semester before I'm back in the States. I am excited for home because I miss my parents and I've been mostly homesick for Guilford. I feel sad when I see news about my teammates breaking records and doing work and I can't be there to celebrate with them. I also miss my job at the Sports Info Office and it hurts that I won't be able to say goodbye to a few people who will be graduating that I've worked with for the past two and a half years.

Mostly though, I miss my sister, my best friend Molly and my cousin Matt. I think I finally hit the place where being back in the States is something I want so badly. But at the same time I don't want to leave London. I love it here. I've had such good times already and met wonderful people that I know when April comes I will not want to go home.

So for right now I am completely content to be here as it has become a third home to me (Guilford is my second home). I loved London the moment I stepped off the plane back in January, but it took me an entire week to really appreciate just how much it has become a part of my life.

Just for the record, I do have a lot of pictures from break but I think I'll post them on Facebook if you want to check them out. I can't just pick a few to post here and there are over 200 photos so you might as well hop on over to my page and look at all of them (and they will be up shortly though it might take a day or two depending upon how lazy I am feeling).