15 December, 2009

I've always had a thing for notebooks. I love them. And I always end up buying new ones. The problem is that I'm not very good at keeping a journal. I write about five pages in the beginning and then give up. So I'm not too sure why I thought I'd be able to keep a blog. I know it's been awhile and I truly do apologize for not updating more often. My time here in London is coming to an end. It's finals week. I've had two finals already and have three left, hence my procrastination through writing this... I have three full days left here and then fly home on Saturday! It's crazy! This semester has been so long, yet it seems like the ending snuck up on me. It definitely is bittersweet, as I'll miss such a fun city, having an amazing family through my church, and a few precious friends, but I can't wait to get home to spend time with my family for Christmas and then get back up to Fox to hang out with everyone!

I never wrote about or posted pictures from my trips to Italy, Cambridge, or Oxford. If you're interested, I'd love to show you pictures and tell you my stories over coffee, so let me know! (Just another excuse for you to hang out with me when I get back in the states!) I've also had a couple amazing friends come visit, which has been really fun! My past couple weeks have been spent completely in London and, although I've been super busy with final projects and now final exams, I've found time to explore the city even more. Click here for one of my school projects and some insight into what I've been up to!

I miss you all lots and can't wait to see you soon! Seeing as I have a lot of studying to do, I might even write another post sometime soon. Love you all!


30 October, 2009

I know it's been forever, but I promise I will update more often from now on! I have so much to tell you! I've been to five new countries since I last wrote you and am now writing to you from Italy, so I'm going to do my best to tell you all about my travels!

The first of my trips was to Paris with the entire study abroad program (about one hundred students in all). We took a train through the Chunnel, which was a boring but surprisingly quick ride. We checked into the hotel and left right away to begin our sightseeing. We were extremely lucky because we were able to go up in the Eiffel Tower right at sunset. It was amazingly beautiful and such a great view of the entire city! That night, we got pizza at an adorable little Italian restaurant, walked around the beautifully lit Eiffel Tower, and then returned to our hotel.

Kendall and I on the train to Paris

The view from the Eiffel Tower

We woke up early the next day for a bus tour of the city, on which we saw most of the famous sights including the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides and Notre Dame. After our bus tour, I got a crepe and walked along the Champs Elysees with my friend Kevin. The weather was absolutely amazing, not a cloud in the sky. After walking around for a while, we went to the Louvre. I wish I could tell you that it was the most magnificent museum ever and I loved every part of it, but I would be lying to you. By the time we got to the museum, I was honestly feeling very overwhelmed. Whenever I go to an extremely famous place, there’s always the underlying feeling that I have to enjoy it, but I simply wasn’t in the mood to look at tons of art. We walked around and saw a few of the major pieces of art: the Winged Victory of Samothrace, tons of sculptures, and of course the smirking Mona Lisa. We played some silly little games in attempt to entertain ourselves and, after about thirty minutes of wandering around, left the museum to enjoy the fresh air and beautiful gardens, which I found to be much more wonderful than the museum itself.

Notre Dame

Maura, Kevin and I at Notre Dame

Les Invalides

The Louvre gardens

We took a nap on the grass, spent some time in the gardens and then decided to get some dinner, which was much more of an adventure than we had expected. We were in a very expensive, touristy area and decided to wander a ways in attempt to find something cheaper. After looking at a dozen menus, we soon realized that, not only was price an issue, but neither of us spoke any French. I hadn’t anticipated the language barrier to be so overwhelming, but I think both of us began to feel like we might not eat again until our return to London. We wandered around for a while and finally decided to go back to our hotel so we could regroup. We were able to meet up with my roommate Brittany and our friend Kendall and had a delicious dinner with them. By that time, we were all too exhausted for a night out on the town and went back to the hotel for some much needed rest.
As I write this, I am looking out of an airplane window over the beautiful Italian countryside, with the Mediterranean Sea off in the distance, and simply can't help but remark on how magnificently gorgeous our world is. Anyways...
The next day, we went to Montmartre and climbed the hill to the beautiful Sacre Coeur, where I fell absolutely in love with Paris. The top of the hill provided a remarkable view of the entire city, with the Eiffel Tower off in the distance. The church itself was amazing and I couldn’t help but feel joyful as I thought about the charming scene in Amelie, where she leads Nico on a wild goose chase to the front steps of the Sacred Heart, only for him to see her hundreds of feet below. We walked around the church for a while and then wandered the streets of Montmartre before having to return to the hotel for our departure. I wish I had more to say about Montmartre because it truly was delightful, but I don’t think I could even begin to describe its loveliness to you.

Sacre Coeur

The beautiful view from Montmartre

Truthfully, Paris was wonderful. But I think everyone felt very relieved to return to London. For me, this is when London started to feel like home. I had my fun in Paris, but was ready to get back to familiarity, which in this case was London. Upon our return, I began to feel safe, comfortable, and more confident in London. It’s a strange feeling the first time you regard a new place as home, but that’s now what London is to me.

The next weekend was my adventure to wild and sexy Scotland! This trip was with a smaller group of students from my study abroad program. We left London in the afternoon and took a four-hour train ride to Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh. We arrived at dusk and were met by chilly winds, which seemed to be much colder than our usual London weather. I went out to dinner with a few other students, and then we walked around the city a little bit. Unfortunately, everything was closed and we were freezing, so we went back to our hostel pretty early. I really wish we had more than just one night there and would really love to go back someday!


The next morning we began our tour on a bright yellow bus with the words “Wild and Sexy” written on the side. We had a wonderful tour guide named Matt who told us that we would soon be experiencing some DSL (Deep Scottish Love), and he was certainly right! This is an extremely tough call to make, but I think Scotland might be the most beautiful place I have ever been to. In some ways, it seemed like a mix between New Zealand and Oregon. The weather was quite cold, often rainy, and extremely misty, which might have ordinarily made me disappointed, but actually was quite nice because it resulted in tons of rainbows and hundreds of waterfalls! We spent the next three days driving around the Scottish highlands in our bright yellow tour bus, stopping often to take photos of the scenery, which was absolutely stunning. We stopped at Wallace Monument, dedicated to William Wallace (the guy from Braveheart). For lunch, Matt took us to an extremely old restaurant called the Drover’s Inn. It was in an old building that was decorated with a bunch of animals, trinkets and old paintings, and was lit only by candles. It was somewhat of a cabinet of curiosities. After lunch, we drove around a bit more and saw a bridge that was in one of the Harry Potter movies. We finally made it to Fort Augustus, where we spent the night in a hostel at the southern tip of Loch Ness.

Our Wild & Sexy tour bus

In the morning, we boarded our bright yellow tour bus and drove to the Isle of Skye, which is in northwest Scotland. We spent all day on the island, which was absolutely stunning! We had lunch in the quaint town of Portree, which is the capital city of Skye. The Isle of Skye is where a lot of Scottish folklore comes from, and Matt told us stories about the faeries and giants. He took us to The Enchanted River that supposedly has the power to make anyone beautiful if they stick their face in the rushing water. Afterward, we went to Eilean Donan Castle, which was built in the mid 13th century and has been in several films, including Highlander and Made of Honor. Back in Fort Augustus, we went to a show where we learned how kilts were traditionally worn. One of the guys from our group, Danny, was chosen as a model and required to drop his drawers in front of the audience. There was another group of American students at the show, who were from Minnesota. Some of the guys in their group were drunk and wouldn’t stop talking and messing around, so the Scottish guy who was giving the presentation kicked them out of the show. Unfortunately, the guys got mad and broke one of the windows of the building we were in! The police came and the kids said they were innocent (even though everyone knew they were guilty) so there was a ton of drama with all of that. I’m sure you don’t want to listen to me rant about it, though I probably could for quite awhile. I’ll simply say that sometimes I can't stand Americans, and I’ll just leave it at that.

Alexis & Caleb in the Enchanted River

Eilean Donan Castle

Danny in his kilt

The next day, we drove the entire length of Loch Ness in attempt to spot Nessie. We stopped at Urquhart Castle, which was a beautiful spot to look out over the Loch. We went down on the shores of the Loch to do a chant and a dance in attempt to convince Nessie to come out of the water. Unfortunately, Nessie is a very busy creature. She was preoccupied and unable to come visit us, but I’m sure I will see her next time… Our last three stops were relatively short. We went to Culloden Battle Field, where one of Scotland’s largest battles took place. Today it is a large open field and serves as a memorial to all the people who lost their lives in the battle. Our next stop was to see some old stone circles, which were thought to have healing powers. The circles were pretty interesting, but I don’t feel any healthier after going in the middle of them. Our last stop was in a small town with a big church, the name of which I cannot remember. The church was absolutely gorgeous, as was the river next to it. It was a beautiful ending to an equally beautiful trip. I absolutely loved Scotland and might want to move there if the weather wasn’t so cold. However, I most definitely want to live there for at least a summer, and maybe make the 93-mile hike along Scotland’s West Highland Way. If you ever get the chance to go to the Scottish Highlands, I definitely recommend it!

Urquhart Castle

Our entire group on the shore of Loch Ness


The beautiful church

The next weekend was my biggest adventure yet. I went on a five-day journey to central Europe with my friend, Kevin. After our Friday classes, we flew from London to Bratislava, Slovakia. We were only in Slovakia for about an hour before we boarded our bus to Vienna, Austria. The bus took about two hours and we were graced with the presence of a crazy Middle-Eastern/Canadian man who told us to go to a delicious meat restaurant in a tunnel in Vienna… We decided not to trust his recommendation. By the time we got to Vienna, it was pretty late and we were exhausted. We checked into Wombats City Hostel, got a quick bite to eat, and went to bed.

Our time in Vienna was filled with gorgeous historic buildings. We walked around the Museums Quartier and Volksgarten, and stumbled upon the city hall building/circus/market, which was a random yet fun experience. I ate apple strudel at the market before venturing to Stephensplatz, where we climbed the 343 stairs to the top of Stephansdom (Saint Stephen’s Cathedral). The view from the top was stunning! One of the most enjoyable parts of our trip, though very random, was our lunch at a Japanese/Thai restaurant called Akakiko. We had seen quite a few signs for the restaurant and stumbled upon it just in time for lunch. I was nervous about what I had ordered, and we were both intimidated at the thought of having to use chopsticks, but my meal was absolutely delicious and the chopsticks were not nearly as tricky as one might expect. That night, we saw Camera Obscura play at a small music venue on the edge of the river. It made me realize for the first time how depressing their lyrics are, but they were amazing nonetheless.

Vienna's City Hall

City Hall, the circus and a market

The view from Stephansdom

The next day, we decided to go to Donauinsel, a long, skinny island east of the city center. We stumbled into a huge and beautiful church that looked like a castle. We wandered around that area of town for a while and then headed back to the main part of the city. After spending a little time at the beautiful Karlskirche, we jumped on a bus and headed to Prague, Czech Republic. We arrived quite late and checked in to our hostel, which ended up being pretty sketchy. By that time, we were extremely hungry and overwhelmed with the Czech language, so we jumped at the chance to eat dinner in an Irish pub where we could speak English! I had a burger and French fries, and they were absolutely delicious. We couldn’t decide if this was cool or just creepy, but you can check out their live webcam, if you’d like.

The church near Donauinsel


The next day was our main day for sightseeing in Prague. We walked around the Old Town Square, saw the famous astronomical clock, and walked along the beautiful Charles Bridge. We stopped for mochas at an adorable little coffee shop and wandered around the quaint little streets. We eventually made it to the John Lennon Peace Wall, which has been covered with beautiful graffiti of Beatles lyrics and quotes about peace. We made our own contributions to the wall, of course, and then returned to our hostel to bundle up for the cold night. Once we realized that our hostel was located really close to the city center, we were much less hesitant about exploring the city after dark. We walked around the square again at night, got some gelato, and walked across the bridge one more time before heading back to the hostel. The next morning, we packed up, ate lunch, and then headed to the Prague airport. Unfortunately, our plane was delayed about an hour and a half, but it finally came and we made it back to London safely.

Old Town Square

The astronomical clock

The view from Charles Bridge

John Lennon Peace Wall

The next weekend, Kevin and I took a short trip to Birmingham, which is about a two-hour bus ride from London. We saw Noah and the Whale play and I really, really enjoyed their set! They’re an amazing band and if you haven’t heard of them, you should look them up! Afterwards, we wandered around Birmingham a little bit and went into a wonderful second-hand clothing store that had some adorable dresses. I should have bought one but I regret to inform you that I did not. We took the bus home and I was able to enjoy at least half of a weekend in London (my first in a long time).

So, that’s a little bit about what I’ve been doing on my weekends, but I’ve also been extremely busy during my weeks in London! I had midterms this past week, so my days have been packed with lots of homework and projects. Nonetheless, I’ve managed to fit plenty of fun things into my schedule… I recently celebrated my twenty-first birthday, which was a ton of fun! I had cupcakes, enjoyed a nice Italian dinner, and went out to Imperial with a bunch of friends. (And just to let you all know… NO, I did not have a hangover in the morning.)

My birthday cupcake...
red velvet with vanilla buttercream frosting :)

Brittany, Zeny, Kevin and I on my birthday

Kevin and I went to see Sondre Lerche, J. Tillman, and Pearly Gate Music play in northern London, which turned out to be a really good show. Brandon, a friend from San Diego, happened to be travelling through London, so I had dinner with him and we hung out a little bit. It was really nice to see a familiar face and to catch up with him. I’ve also been going to weekly prayer meetings with my church here, which has been a huge blessing. Everyone has really welcomed me in and I feel like this is truly where I’m meant to be right now. And now, I’m in Italy with my parents for my fall break! I know I’ve been horrible at updating, but I really will try to stay on top of things and will tell you of my Italian adventures upon my return to London!

Miss you all and would love to hear from you!
Da Italia, con amore,


08 October, 2009

Hey friends! I'm just writing to let you know that I am terribly sorry about my failure to update this blog. I'm leaving tomorrow for a five day expedition to Slovakia, Austria, and Czech Republic. Because of this trip, I've been forced to work on three huge projects this week and haven't had time to let you know about my twenty-first birthday and my wonderful trips to Paris and Scotland. But do not fret; I promise I will most definitely update you upon my return next week! I love you all and will talk to you soon!


24 September, 2009

Sorry it's been so long since my last update! I've been extremely busy, but am having so so much fun! I've walked around numerous areas of London, including St. James's Park, which is a gorgeous park near Buckingham Palace. The park has a lake in the middle and was absolutely adorable but, unfortunately I didn't bring my camera with me. I will definitely need to go back sometime soon and take some pictures of the park.

Last thursday, my friend Kevin and I went to see Neko Case play at the Barbican Centre. I was afraid I wouldn't like her music very much because she sometimes sounds very country, but I really enjoyed it and I now love her music! After the show, we walked around London and explored. We crossed the Thames on the Millennium walking bridge. It was so wonderful to see the city at night, with everything all lit up. Somehow, St Paul's Cathedral is even more beautiful at night. We also got hot chocolate at McDonalds, which is always a big enough adventure by itself, but it was after midnight and all the Brits were drunk and had food all over their faces. Afterwards, we braved the night bus for the first time, and found it to be a surprisingly easy mode of public transportation.

As promised, I've returned to the Troubadour twice since my last post. I've learned that they have the most delicious (and cheap) peppermint tea, which will be really wonderful once it starts raining and I am in need of something warm and cozy. I also got a white russian at the Troubadour, which was surprisingly yummy. It tasted very similar to an ice cream sunday. Although I liked it, my philosophy is... why not just buy an ice cream sunday instead?? And since we're on the subject of alcohol... I also tried white and rose wine which were surprisingly good. My parents usually only drink red wine, so thats the only kind I've ever tried before. I don't like red wine at all (sorry Mom and Dad) but the other kinds aren't too bad. But as I said before, I would much rather get ice cream or coffee, which I've been drinking almost every day since I started college. There are tons of adorable cafes around town with great coffee and amazing pastries. I have already filled my loyalty card at Caffe Nero (shocking, huh...) and am excited to get a free caramelatte soon!

Saturday is the perfect day for exploring one of the numerous markets around London, so last weekend I went to Portobello Road market. I had a delicious smoothie and a wonderful donut (I'm sure you're all shocked again...). The market is great for antiques and several vendors were selling vintage cameras, which was very tempting, but I was able to resist. However, the big project for my sociology course is on Portobello Road, so I'm sure I will be returning often and can't promise that I won't end up with another adorable 1920s art deco brownie camera :) On saturday night, I went to northwest London to see a band play, called the Whispertown 2000. They were absolutely amazing and I had a ton of fun! The venue was small but cozy and reminded me a bit of Lestat's. It's nice that I can still go see bands I like even though I'm not at at home.

I went to church at Reality London on sunday. Afterwards, I went out to a pub with the pastor, his wife, and a few of the church members. It was really nice to be able to get to know them better. All the people I have met there have been incredibly warm and friendly toward me. Most of them have moved here from the states to pursue ministry and it was really encouraging to hear some of the things they have been involved with in London.

School has been pretty easy. I've had one "paper" due so far, but it was only 500 words and was a review of an art gallery, so I'm not sure if it even counts. I went to the Queen's Gallery and to the British Museum with my art history class. The museums and galleries here are so amazing and I'm lucky to be able to visit them on class time :) Besides that, I've been doing a lot of reading. I get the feeling that my classes here are going to be a breeze compared to Fox. If any of you see Lisa or Melanie, tell them how much I miss their classes!!!

Besides that, I've just been walking around and exploring different parts of London. The weather has been really nice lately, which has been perfect for wandering around. I've spent a fair amount of time in Hyde Park, which is wonderful and relaxing. Last night, we attempted to watch the Wizard of Oz, which was being shown for free in an outside amphitheatre near the Thames. It was really crowded and started to rain, so we left early. It made me miss Fox's "movie on the lawn." How was it? And what movie did they play?

Regrettably, I barely took any pictures this week. But I am leaving for Paris tomorrow morning, bright and early, and will be there all weekend, so I promise I will take tons of photos! I hope you all are doing well, whether in Oregon, California, or anywhere else. Send me an email... or letter :) I would love to know how you're doing!


15 September, 2009

Ok I'm warning you... this might be a long post... I had a really fun weekend and have been keeping pretty busy! On friday, I went to the Photographer's Gallery, which is London's photography museum. It made me miss MoPA, but it was still really awesome! There were two exhibits. One was primarily men's fashion, and the other was a collection of black and white photos, all of people reading. The exhibitions change in the beginning of October, so I will definitely be going back soon to check it out!

After that, I went out with some of the girls on my floor to a pub that is just down the street, called The Builder's Arms, where I had my very first pint of beer. It was a strawberry beer called Fruli. It tasted pretty good, but I didn't like the aftertaste at all. Everyone has been very patronizing when it comes to drinking. It always seems like a huge deal to everyone that I don't drink very often, and I usually get comments like, "Oh you're not drinking? Aw it's ok, honey... Don't let anyone pressure you..." as if I'm a middle schooler who is being faced with peer pressure for the first time. But I'm sure I will get used to it and everyone else will get used to my choice not to drink much. I knew that drinking would be part of the culture here, wether that be because I'm in London or because I'm attending a secular college, but I guess I underestimated how often people would go out for drinks. However, I have been having fun going out and socializing with people, and if they give me a hard time for ordering a hot chocolate at a pub, I guess I will just have to get used to it, because lets face it... who doesn't love hot chocolate??

On Saturday, a group of students from our program took a day trip to Brighton, which is on the south coast of England. Brighton is a beach town where the English go on holiday. One of the main attractions, besides the beach, is the Royal Pavilion, which was built by Henry IV in 1803. We took a tour of the beautiful building and saw all of the luxurious furniture and garish ornamentation, which was definitely over the top, but still very beautiful.

The Brighton Pavillion

After our tour, we went down to the beach for lunch and I tried the classic English meal, fish and chips. It wasn't very fishy and didn't taste nearly as bad as I expected it to, but it was extremely greasy and we all felt sick later in the day.

Our fish and chips

We then explored the Brighton Pier, which has little gift shops and places to buy food. At the end of the pier, there are a bunch of carnival rides. The weather was perfect and the sea looked gorgeous!

The beautiful pier

I needed rescuing from the lifeguard...

Zeny, Brittany, Ryan, Alexis, and I on the pier

We then went down on the beach and put our feet in the water. It was a little chilly, but felt nice. Brighton's beach was unusual because it had pebbles instead of sand. It hurt to walk around, so we all decided to lay down and take a nap instead. It was wonderfully relaxing but, after about an hour of napping, we decided to walk around the city. We happened to be there during the International Culinary fair, so the streets were crowded with booths and vendors selling all kinds of food. We walked around the market, went in to a couple shops, and of course stopped to sip a cup of coffee on the patio of a little cafe. I absolutely loved Brighton and think I could maybe see myself living there! It reminded me a bit of Santa Barbara and even a little bit of San Diego. It seemed like there is always something going on, but it doesn't have all the industrial hustle and bustle that a big city like London has.

At the Market

On sunday morning, I was able to go to a church called Reality London. In case you don't know, my brother is a youth group leader at Reality Carpinteria and came here a couple weeks ago to help with the first service of Reality London, which is a brand new church here in London. Everyone was really welcoming and I felt very comfortable there, which was a huge blessing. That following night, I went with some friends to the Thames Festival. There was a parade and tons of booths along the riverside. The festival was concluded with fireworks, which were amazing! It was really fun and felt like a typical european festival that I have heard about from several people.

The London Eye, all lit up for the Thames Festival

I've been spending a lot of time trying to make travel plans for this semester. Yesterday, my friend Kevin and I finally booked everything for a trip we will be taking in mid-october to Slovakia, Austria, and the Czech Republic. So I'm really really excited about that!! Today I'm going to try to finish most of my homework for this week and next week... so we'll see how that turns out... Anyways, you all get to read about my life but I have no idea what you're up to! I miss everyone and would love to hear from you!!


11 September, 2009

I have successfully made it through the first week of classes! All of my classes seem like they will be pretty interesting. I am used to learning about things from a Christian perspective, so it will be a new experience to take classes from a secular university. I think Comparative World Religions will be particularly interesting, seeing as our professor is a self-proclaimed "hippy" who, in our last class, was drinking a can of beer while teaching about the history of Christianity. This week in my History of London class, we took a walking tour of "The Square Mile" or "The City of London," which is the official financial district of London and the third biggest financial district in the world. We saw ruins that dated back to the first and second centuries, including the ancient city wall, the site of a Roman amphitheatre, and several buildings that were rebuilt after London's Great Fire of 1666. In my art class, Museums and Galleries of London, we went to two modern art galleries in East London. I liked some of the paintings and sketches, but some of the art was a little too "modern" for my tastes. One of the "works of art" at the second gallery, called the Brown Gallery, was a pile of pennies on the floor, which was meant to signify the constant change in value between the US dollar and the GB pound. It was interesting, to say the least, but wasn't exactly my cup of tea...

"The Drawing Wall" at The White Cube
(I got yelled at for taking this photo... woops...)

Earlier this week, Brittany and I discovered a coffee house and music venue that is within walking distance of our dorm. It's called the Troubadour and was established in 1954. It was popular in the British Folk Revival of the 50s and 60s and has hosted several famous musicians, including Bob Dylan and Paul Simon, and more recently, Paulo Nutini :) They have live music almost every night, so I'm sure I will be returning there often.

Brittany at the Troubadour

Last night, Brittany and I went to the National Portrait Gallery, which is home to thousands of portraits of famous British people. Afterward, we spent some time in Trafalgar Square where we met a crazy man named John Loughrey. He told us that he is the most famous Princess Diana fan in the entire world, and then proceeded to show us newspaper articles and photographs of himself with "Diana" painted on his forehead and "Dodi" on his cheeks. He also showed me a letter he received from Prince Harry. He was quite confident that everyone knows who he is and promised us that one day, his picture will be in the National Portrait Gallery or in Kensington Palace. He also assured us that there will be a movie made about him. He wants to get Tom Hanks to play his part, but asked if we had any better suggestions. After listening to him ramble for quite some time and promising to look him up online, we finally were able to tear ourselves away from him and catch the tube back to Kensington. Today, I typed his name into Google and, sure enough, there he was! He certainly is crazy, but it was fun talking to him and is something I will never forget! And who knows... maybe in a few years, we will see a movie about the world's most famous Princess Diana fan!

Trafalgar Square at night

The "famous" John Loughrey
John on the fourth plinth (skip to about 4:30)

08 September, 2009

London has been wonderful so far. I've walked around a lot of different areas, including Notting Hill and Kensington Gardens, which is a beautiful park only a couple blocks away. I also went to Piccadilly Circus, which is London's equivalent to Time's Square in NYC. Its probably really fun at night, but isn't too great during the day, unless you like being crowded by tourists and want to spend a ton of money in expensive shops. Brittany and I also headed to Harrods, a famous and gigantic high-end department store. We almost hyperventilated looking at all the designer clothes and millions of dollars worth of shoes. I doubt I'll ever be able to afford something from there, but it is still amazing to walk around and look at everything.

On friday night, the school hosted a "Welcome to London" boat party... or what most would call a booze cruise. It started off really well because we were able to see the famous sights along the banks of the Thames. But after about twenty minutes, there was nothing interesting to look at. Most of the students bought drinks and joined the dance party upstairs, but a some of us sat downstairs at tables and talked. It was pretty fun and good for getting to know people, but it felt like the boat was barely moving. The entire trip took three hours and by the end, everyone was eager to get off the boat.

The view from the boat

I also had the pleasure of going up in the London Eye, which is reminiscent of a ferris wheel and provides the best view of London. The London Eye moves very slowly and takes a half hour for one full rotation. The view was absolutely stunning and a really fun way to see the city.

The view from the London Eye

Yesterday was the first day of classes at Richmond. This semester, I'm taking:
Mass Communication and Society
History of London
Museums and Galleries of London
Comparative World Religions
Sociology of Culture and Subculture
I'm really excited to start taking classes, especially History of London and Museums and Galleries of London, because these two classes include field trips every week to different places around London! I've already had homework and I expect to have a lot of reading, but London has tons of parks and adorable cafes that I can do it in.

Last night, I ran into Arthur Moreau on the street. For those of you who don't know Arthur, we were in second grade together and went to Miramar Ranch Elementary, Marshall Middle School, and Scripps Ranch High School together. It turns out Arthur is studying abroad here this semester too and just happens to be living a few blocks away from me! It truly is a small world...

On tuesdays, I have a six hour break between my two classes. So today, I ventured to the Victoria and Albert museum, which is only a few blocks away. The museum is HUGE and free, which is always wonderful :) It would take me days to look through the entire museum but, even though I was only there for about an hour, I managed to look at their fashion exhibit and to stroll through some of their hallways filled with sculptures. I also looked through their photography gallery (the first thing I look for in any art museum). I learned that in 1858, the Victoria and Albert museum became the first museum in the world to hold a photography exhibit. As you can imagine, I was delighted and will most likely return to spend some more time in their current photography exhibit.

One of the many sculptures

V&A Photography Exhibition

And of course, I had to take a classic photo with one of London's red 1920s telephone booths! As for now, I'm off to class...