We went to Hampton Court with the social program. It was awesome. We walked all around the palace, saw the King’s apartment and the Queen’s apartment. We went through a maze and saw the magic garden. It was also sweltering hot.
Syd and I attempted to see the Changing of the Gaurd, but the city was so packed and it was so hot, that all we saw were the sweaty backs of heads.
After that failure, we tried to find the vegan market and also failed. The market was closed for Pride, which we ended up in the middle of. We sort of gave up after that. It was so hot that I was sitting in my kitchen (using the WiFi) and sweating. I did homework and watched Netflix for the rest of the day.
This was one of the greatest days of the trip. The social program took us to Bath and Stonehenge in an AIR CONDITIONED coach! Sleeping and studying on that coach was such a nice time, I never wanted it to end. I wasn’t sure what to expect at Bath, but the museum was really cool. There was an audioguide that explained all of the artifacts, there were the spring and the bath themselves. I even got to try some of the magical healing water. It was so hot! 40 degrees Celcius…that’s about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Stonehenge was phenomenal. I was expecting it to be underwhelming, so seeing it bigger and grander than I imagined was awesome! If you ever have the chance to go there, I highly recommend it!
I started the morning booking tickets for the sky garden. My class had a Mrs. Dalloway excursion, where we followed the path Virginia Woolf laid out in the novel. After class, I went to the Barbican Museum to see a Dorothea Lange exhibit and see the famous Migrant Mother. A lot of Lange’s work was phenomenal and some of it was not very good at all. I ended the night by going to trivia night. We didn’t come in dead last, so it was a great time!
I went to class and did some homework before trecking to Camden Market for a little bit and then going to a Georgian restaurant and trying the acharuli khachapuri, recommended by Sydney. Essentially, the meal is a bread boat filled with egg, cheese, and butter. It was incredible!
The last excursion for class. We went to Highgate Cemetary and walked around looking at the graves of famous people. After class, I went to the Natural History Museum and the London Museum. I saw the Rosetta Stone, a life-like T-rex, and Queen Cleopatra. I tried bubble tea for the first (and last) time. Then a group of us sought out a place to watch the game (World Cup). Wednesday was the first and last time I really cared about soccer. England lost to Croatia, who I thought played a little bit dirty towards the end.
After class, I spent four hours in the library writing my papers. Then I went to the gym. Then Caleb, Sydney and I booked tickets to Dover to see the sea, and tickets for Incredibles 2, because it’s FINALLY releasing over here!
The final class meeting for session one. We had a literary scavenger hunt throughout central London. We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off, luckily, we came in second place!
After the scavenger hunt, a group of us went with Dr. G to a pop-up exhibition of graphic designs that helped create the Harry Potter cinematic universe, it was really cool to see all of the little details that went into creating the films.
On the way to campus, we ended up at the National Gallery Museum!
After returning to campus and doing my laundry, a group of us went out to find a pub showing England in the world cup and to celebrate for those who were only staying for the first session. Eventually, we ended up at the Toyshop, which we had gone to for the cocktail night. After the game, there was a live band that played until close.
I slept in for the first time in what felt like months, then went to the library to work on editing some photography with Jeff. After that, Sydney, Caleb, Jeff and I hunted down Abbey Road and Baker Street.
We took the bus back from central London during rush hour, it took forever and I think I fell asleep. The day ended with all of us plus Ally and Carter watching Back to the Future in my kitchen.
I took another lazy day. I slept in, finished a movie and watched five episodes of Brooklyn 99. Said goodbye to some good friends. Hung out with some good friends; we fed the birds and narrowly missed being attacked by some swans and geese. Then, Sydney made dinner for all of us. I also finally beat level 47 of Mr. Bean, which I had been stuck on for over a month.
Caleb, Sydney and I took Jeff out for a goodbye brunch.
Afterward, we dodge a crowded bus, walked through a park, found a weird Santa toy and ended up feeding the birds again. There is a duck that will eat out of your hand. Sydney named her Stacy.
The first day of class for session two. I’m in a writing class titled Hidden London. We explore the city and works about it and then write about London. This class has a bit more demanding workload than the last one, but it still seems fun. Tyler and I grabbed a table in the library after class to work on final papers from the other class and homework from our new class. I said goodbye to Jeff. Then a group of us went to see Oceans 8. It was okay.
Had class and spent some time in the library. Then went on a Jack the Ripper Walking Tour with the social programme. This one was a bit better than the one that I went on in my session one class.
Happy fourth to all of my friends and family across the pond! My class went on an excursion to the White Chapel area of London. If you’re ever in the city and want to look at some awesome street art, check out Brick Lane.
We also visited the White Chapel Gallery, which was doing an exhibit on Dead Negatives of the Great Depression, focusing on photographers who shot for the FSA.
After class, I tried some charity shops in search of clothes that won’t cook me in this odd heat wave (I packed for chilly, rainy London, not 80s-90s, sunny and droughty). I also went grocery shopping, as I had no food for breakfast. Pray for rain.
It was a typical London day, rather chilly. I had caught a cold and this was the first day it hit me. After class, a small group of us went to the Tate. I ran into Jenny again, which was so funny. We were there for an hour and a half before it closed and we were only able to get through one floor. I saw a Picasso and quite a few Warhol’s with my own eyes.
The social program took us to the Tower of London. We walked around and saw some staged kingly rooms (surprisingly, decor from the 13th century reminds me heavily of That 70s Show).
We were able to see the crowned jewels. There was a diamond the size of my palm! We saw many other crowns and precious jewels and swords and batons as well. After the crown jewels, we saw some Royal Guards. I felt bad, gawking at them like they weren’t even human. Some kids were miss behaving and making fun of the guards and climbing on the fence and the guards screamed “Get off the fence!” and it was the only sounds they made. I think the kids peed themselves.
Sydney and I had to leave before we were able to see the torture chambers (😢) so we could make it to our train to Paris (😀) on time. The trip to Paris, via bullet train, took only 2.5 hours. We went with a group of ten, which eventually split to a group of six and a group of four. The hostel we were staying in was a five-minute walk from the train station. We could see Notre Dame and the Effiel Tower from our room!
We did almost all of Paris.
I don’t think my feet have ever been so sore. I started the day at the hostel desk, purchasing a ticket for the Catacombs. The catacombs took a while to get through, due to the line and the stairs. The staircases up and down were spiral and there was so many of them that I actually got dizzy each way. Walking to the bones required walking through ancient passageways; they were constructed so long ago that I actually felt tall in them. There was a room that was full of informational posters, and then you walked out the door and…bones. Skulls staring at you from all over. The air actually got heavier. It made me think of how many people have lived on this planet before me, and how many of them will never be remembered.
After the catacombs, my little group hopped on the train (London public transit is much better than Paris, I’ll have you know) and took the two stops to Notre Dame. It is right next to the Seine. The building is massive and incredibly beautiful; it baffles my mind how something so intricate could have been built by hand. The inside was just as, if not more, beautiful than the outside because you could clearly see the stain glass windows. There has been a building on that site since the eleven hundreds.
After Notre Dame, we grabbed lunch at a little cafe. Then we decided to walk the twenty minutes to le Louvre. Do to having an appointment at the Effiel Tower, we were only able to be in La Musee du Louvre long enough to see the Mona Lisa. Honestly, she was not as impressive as she could have been, but that might have just been the mob around her.
When we finally figured out how to get out of the Louvre, we decided to walk to the Tower…45 minutes away. We high-tailed it across town, probably clocking 15 miles of walking by the end of the day. Our tour group of the tower met at 5:30 (we ended up leaving the tower at 9:30, four hours later…the lines were really long!). We climbed 700 stairs to check out the first two platforms. The first platform had a glass floor, which was awesome to look through! From the second platform, we were able to take an elevator to the top. Being at the top was amazing! We were able to take an elevator all the way down, praise the lord. When we finally left the tower, we grabbed dinner before the tower was supposed to sparkle. Sitting on the grass, staring up at the tower sparkle and lit against the night, it was simply magical.
We went back to Notre Dame for brunch. It was the most expensive meal I’ve ever had, but I thought I’d better get everything I wanted to try in Paris because I doubt I will go back. I got a crepe, a latte, a hot chocolate, a small macaroon and a glass of champagne. I sipped and ate and listened to the bells of Notre Dame.
Our train back to the hostel was delayed for around ten minutes. When we got back to the hostel we checked out and walked to the train station. After the English Channel lost power, the station was evacuated for 45 minutes, and a 2.5-hour delay, and approximately one of the most stressful days of my life, we made it back to London.
I went to class and then went grocery shopping. London is going through a crazy heatwave, so I went to the gym to just be in an air-conditioned building. After the gym, a group of us went out to a trivia night.
My class went on a Sherlock Holmes walking tour. Our guide was the sweetest old lady who knew so much about the detective that it blew my mind. When I got back to campus, I did my laundry and found a stray cat who let me pet it for approximately fifteen minutes, it was perfect. Then, the social programme took us to see Wicked! It was incredible. I 10/10 recommend it.
I pretty much took this day for myself. I’ve been so go-go-go that I needed a day to watch Netflix and Youtube for a few hours.
As I’m sitting here, reading what was supposed to be read last week, I’ve come across an amazing quote that I feel represents me very well.
“[L]et’s not forget the dogs, the dogs in their pen who will surely hurtle and snarl their way out if you ever stop writing, because writing is, for some of us, the latch that keeps the door of the pen closed, keeps those crazy ravenous dogs contained.”
Anne Lamott, Shitty First Drafts
I very much understand where Lamott is coming from and this quote really just hit me in the face like a brick wall. I could never really quite put it into words what it was like, but Lamott did a really good job.
I found this quote in Downs and Wardle’s book Writing About Writing, and even though it is not usually like the books that I post about on here, I would really recromend reading it, it’s pretty good and has a lot of different perspective. Lamott’s Shitty First Drafts can be found on page 527.