Wednesday, December 22, 2010

"I'm Not Speaking English Sense!" - Me

Ahh, Paris. Where to begin?

Let me tell you a thing or two about the airport situation in London. First off, there are four main airports, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and Heathrow. Secondly, none of them are located near the city and require alternate routes of transportation (well Heathrow you can take the tube, if you’re lucky enough to be going when it’s running, which I never seem to be). Your best bet is to take a bus or a train, and in my case, this time it was a bus… at 4:30 am. Why did an 8 o’clock flight sound like a good idea at the time? And why oh stupid bus driver were you about to let me get on the WRONG bus to Stansted when my ticket clearly said Luton? Let’s just say getting to airport this time was an ordeal I never wish to repeat. Apparently in Europe, getting to/from the airport is the hard part. After that, it’s cake. For this trip, my travel buddy was a girl named Monique Sar, a fashion and marketing major from Denver. We had several classes together, and I was confident that this trip was going to be far superior to my last, plus it was PARIS. The best thing about traveling with Monique though, was that she had no idea what to see, and I had a list, so that meant I got to call the shots, scorrre! The bad thing about traveling with Monique, was that girl clearly didn’t get out to the airport much and had no idea how everything worked. I seriously wonder how going home alone from London is going to work for her.

After an incredibly sleepy flight, we finally arrived, with another one hour time difference and no real idea of how to get to the city. Georgie said ‘take the train’. Righhhtt. Well I figured out where the train is, but how do I buy a ticket? All I see are machines, which doesn’t bode well for me as A.) They only accept coins, not bills, and all I have in Euros right now are bills and B.) They only accept pin and chip Euro credit cards, not swipe American card. Why is it so hard to buy something from a person these days?! The sign on the machine made me laugh though. Welcome to my first country where English isn’t spoken first or even by everyone! I only know about 5 phrases in French, and it looks like I’m going to have to use one of them to find someone who can point me in the way of a ticket office. *sigh*

An hour later, Monique and I were on the train to Paris with 5 day metro passes to boot. I had instructions from the hostel about how to get there, but I was slightly worried how this was all going to go. It had me changing lines three different times and the Paris underground looks incredibly intimating the first time around. There are 14 lines compared to London’s 10, but they’re labeled by numbers, not names. And unlike London, they don’t give you arrows pointing this way northbound and this way southbound, but they have the last stop in either direction as the way to distinguish which way to go. Oh yeah, and everything is in French. But the metro turned out to be the easy part. Finding the hostel on the street, not so much. Enter the cutest and most polite little old French man ever! Here’s me and Monique on the street looking up at buildings confused, looking down at the paper for an address, then back to the street, carrying luggage and up comes a tiny little man who offers to help, my hero! Turns out, it was hidden inbetween these two buildings in ‘a square’, which meant that it was off to the side located by some steep stairs. But don’t worry, it wasn’t sketchy. It was actually a combination of a hotel and a hostel and our room was the nicest I had stayed in yet. Check in wasn’t until later so Monique and I dropped off our stuff and decided to get some much needed nourishment.

By this time it was noon Paris time. I hadn’t eaten since 7 pm the night before London time and I only just realized how hungry I was. We wondered down till we found a little pizza/pasta shop that looked promising and oh my god, I had the creamiest, cheesiest pasta I’ve had in my entire life! It’s no joke about what they say about the French and their food, mmmm! I also started feeling sick halfway through due to the amount of cheese, but somehow I managed to finish it all, lactose intolerance and all. Monique and I then looked at a map and made a game plan for the next 4/5 days, starting with the cemetery! Now, when I saw a huge cemetery marked on the map, I naturally assumed that it was the cemetery Laura visited earlier in the year that’s depicted in Paris, je t’aime in which Oscar Wilde, Edith Paif, and Jim Morrison are buried. As it turned out, there are at least three HUGE cemeteries in Paris filled with famous people, and this was not the one I was looking for. Hmm perhaps I should have done some actual research and looked up the proper name, opps. The one on the map was called CimetiĆ©re du Montparnasse, was once a farm and covered about 3 acres, but all the same, once we got there and I realized it wasn’t right, checking out the old graves was kinda cool… to me. Monique apparently thought it was creepy and was somewhat hesitant about walking around dead people. Ahhh, right, back to the Metro.

The next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. This thing is MASSIVE! Funny thing about the Arc is that it’s located in an island in the middle of a roundabout, and at first glance, there’s no earthly way to get to it without being killed by cars, and Parisian drivers are absolutely mental! As we’re standing there, taking pictures from across the street, I see the underground walkway that presumably leads to the Arc, and just as I’m about to point it out to Monique, my boots skid out on the pavement and I completely fall on my butt, as ungracefully as possible. The good thing about this was that a very good looking French man picked me up and asked if I was alright… in French! Hahaha, umm Qui, all better now!

I should also take this time to mention that it was absolutely freezing in Paris! It had started getting cold in London, but somehow, Paris was colder. You’d think since England is an island, located north of France that it would be colder in London rather than Paris, but you’d be wrong. I think it has to have something to do with Ocean current patterns or something, I should look into that… Anyways, as we’re standing underneath the Arc taking pictures, it starts snowing. It’s not cold enough for the snow to stick, and it melts as soon as it hits the ground, but this is about as extreme as San Antonio’s weather conditions get and the only kind of ‘snow’ we ever really get. My hands are pink, on the verge of turning purple, that can’t be good. I think I have plenty of picture of the Arc now Monique, let’s go get warm!

So back to the hostel we went, and as it turned out, we were the first in our room, yay. This meant that it was nap time for Devon. Well, not really, but all the same, the only sleep I’d had in the past 48 hours had been the hour plane ride. I was pretty exhausted and any down time was welcomed by me. A couple hours later, I sat up and realized, it’s Thanksgiving! We’re in Paris! Let’s go EAT! So once again, we got dressed to go out into the cold, this time in search for a Thanksgiving feast. We ended up going to this cute little place. We walked in and after saying the basic, “Bonsoir!” the man looks at me and says, “You speak English, yes?” Gahhh, yes. Not fair. But he sat us down and gave us a menu in English rather than French, so that was appreciated since I knew what I was ordering. Monique got steak and potatoes, and I ended up getting this vegetabley rice with fish on top. Now, I am not a pescatarian, I don’t even really like fish and I have no idea what possessed me to do it, but… I ate some of the fish. Not all of it, but I ate about a quarter before giving up. The best part was when I was sitting there eating bread and drinking a glass of wine and watching the French man behind the bar. Mmmm with his scarf, and hat and red sweater, mmmm. And now some caramely cream thing for dessert?! Best Thanksgiving yet. As we were walking back to the hostel, it was so cold that my face felt like it was freezing and when I tried to talk it came out funny, like I couldn’t really form words. “I’m not speaking English sense!” I tired to explain to Monique, who just laughed. It was only 8, but I was ready for bed, but before I could fall asleep, I got a text from my boss Ben saying, “Happy Thanksgiving Devon! My mate just reminded me and you’re the only American I know. Hope Paris is good –see you soon!” Ahh I was so tired, and the sentiment so sweet, it almost made me teary… almost.



Tuesday, December 14, 2010

“Whose Your Homebody?!” – Georgie Jessop

As time goes on and my schedule fills up, I find my motivation to update you on my life from three weeks ago dwindling. Is it really that entertaining anymore? That was rhetorical, of course I know the answer to this. I remember before I left I was obsessed with reading the blogs of everyone I knew who studied abroad. There’s just so much you want to know about a person’s life when they’re far away and it all seems so exciting. I also remember thinking'why did they stop writing? That’s not going to be me, I’ll keep up' and yet, here we are, three weeks behind and a hell of a lot has happened. I’ve been on two more trips and about to go on my third and final trip in less than a week. And like the rest of the college world out there, I do have to keep finals and school in mind. I guess you should feel good knowing that Blogging wins over starting my Theatre Presentation. Oh well, kick it in gear Devon, let’s go!

Monday November 22nd was a rather exciting day. Professor Haskett managed to get us tickets to see Billy Elliot and I was all too excited. I really like watching plays, but I haven’t seen a whole lot of them to be honest. I’ve seen a great deal more since I’ve been in London and since I’m in a theatre class, but, come to think of it, Billy Elliot was my first real musical. And it made me want to dance. A lot! The kid who plays Michael, aside from being a fantastic little actor, could tap dance better than I ever could. And at the end they all came out in gold shoes and tutus and tap danced, it was awesome! Not to mention little kids speaking in Irish accents and dropping the F bomb every 5 minutes. Solid night.

When Ben walked in to work on Tuesday I greeted him as usual, but instead of saying hi and getting on his computer, he sits down, leans in between our computers and gives me this sad, but serious face.

BEN: Devon… I’ve noticed, how come you never say good-bye to me anymore?
ME: Erm, what?
BEN: Yesterday I just looked up and you were gone, you didn’t say good-bye! You should really say good-bye.
ME: Well you were busy and with your headphones in and I didn’t want to interrupt you so-
BEN: Oh come now, you’re never interrupting! From now on, you have to say good-bye to me when you leave!
ME: Haha, ok. I’m sorry Ben, I’ll make sure to say good-bye.
BEN: Good. Now what did you do last night?
ME: Oh, I saw Billy Elliot!
BEN: Oh God, I f*cking love Billy Elliot!

I should also take this time to mention that Ben came in wearing this nice grey cardigan that he was obviously feeling good in. And while it did make him look ‘quite smart’ it was just hilarious to see how much he loved getting compliments about it. Next thing I know, he’s sliding a pamphlet about the Royal Ballet to me between our computers.

ME: Oooh, is this the ballet you were telling me about?
BEN: Yeah, I’m taking Caroline to see it. What did you think when you went?
ME: Well, the middle one was too long for my taste, even thought it was the one with the most clear cut story, but the last ballet was the best and was the most traditional of them all.
BEN: Awesome. Tell me, what are you doing tonight Devon?
ME: I’m going to my concert, I’m so excited!
BEN: Oh right, who are you going to see again?
ME: Beach House, they’re kind of a smaller Indie band, but they’re awesome!
BEN: *gives me this long stare* Devon… it’s not offensive is it? I mean I don’t want to sound rude, but you’re quite a cultured young lady. That’s not a bad thing though is it?
ME: No, that’s not a bad thing-
BEN: You’re right, it’s like a compliment, yeah?
ME: Yes, thank you, that’s a nice way to be described.
BEN: Ahh right, see, I was giving you a compliment, you’re cultured! But seriously, I’m not trying to sound condescending, you seem to know a lot about a lot of things.
ME: Oh well thank you, Ben, that’s very sweet.
BEN: You’re welcome! Did you see my new cardigan?

Haha, have I mentioned how much I love my boss? In case I haven’t, let me tell you now, I love Ben Crompton! I don’t think I’ve meet anybody quite like him before. Our conversation got even better when we sat down for lunch. This time he leaned over the lunch table, put his head in this hands and asked,

BEN: So, whose your best mate?
ME: Julie Harrison.
BEN: And what’s she like?
ME: Oh, well you’d love her! She’s a ginger and she’s gorgeous, she does a little modeling on the side, but she wants to be a Producer, so she’d eat up all this pre-production stuff and you’d think she was an angel for all the work she’d put into it.
BEN: Amazing. And, whose your best mate over here?
ME: Oh, umm probably either Jeni or Laura.
BEN: And what are they like?
ME: Well Jeni and I go out together and always have fun, but Laura and I talk more so I dunno. I like them both a lot, but for very different reasons. Whose your best friend, Ben?
BEN: Oh god, I don’t know! I guess my oldest mate who just had his baby. Yeah, I guess we’re the closest. Devon, why aren’t you eating?

Now I should mention that one of Ben’s favourite things to ask about is ‘what did you eat for dinner last night?’ or ‘what did you bring for lunch?’ Food in this office is clearly, a BIG deal, but don’t you worry, I’m not being anorexic. I was skipping my Intern class that week to meet up with Professor Haskett and the TCU group for our final free meal, and it didn’t make sense to eat at one when we were meeting up at two, so save my appetite I did. As I was trying to explain this to him, I look over in time to hear Josh teasing Sarah about going up to Leeds that weekend. Sarah is so calm that the idea of her being this crazy partier that Josh makes her out to be is ludicrous. So I said,

ME: Josh, are you just saying this cause you don’t get out much? Are you more of a homebody?
JOSH: What did you just call me?!
ME: A homebody.
JOSH: I have never heard that expression before in my life.
ME: You don’t know what that means?!
SARAH: I’ve never heard that before either actually. What’s that?
GEORGIE: Oh you know, it’s like when those guys go ‘what’s up my homebody!’ *as she does a gang sign*

No Georgie, you’re thinking of a homeboy, and that is much different that a homebody. So I had to explain that mistake first before I could explain what a homebody is. I can’t believe they had never heard that expression before! I distinctly remember the first time I became aware of it. I was reading my Beatles anthology the Thanksgiving of my freshman year of high school and Paul McCartney said he’d always been more of a ‘homebody’, and he’s a British person! I made sure to tell Ben good-bye as I left the office laughing.

When I met the gang at Oxford Circus, I was thankful to see that both Matt and Laura would be joining us. Jeni, Tom and J were still missing, but I had Laura back. As a testament to what I was trying to tell Ben earlier, Laura and I think alike about a lot of things, point in case, where to eat. You’d think that since it’s our last free meal in London EVER and that most of us our already poor college kids at this point, and being that it’s Thanksgiving week, we should go someplace where you sit down and order from a menu, right? Apparently, not Daryia. She starts taking us to this sandwich shop. A sandwich shop? That’s like £3. If I’m getting a free meal, I want to be able to eat more than a sandwich! And apparently Laura felt the same way. Oh, look, is that a Pizza Express down the street, let’s go there! So much to Daryia’s dismay, Laura and I were able to steer them away from the sandwich place. “I just think,” Laura was saying, “that since it’s our last meal and all, and that it’s free we should go some place nice. I want to get as much out of this as I can!” Oh thank God you said that Miss Saladino, because I was thinking THE EXACT SAME THING.

So after being properly stuffed with free food, and realizing it’s only 4 o’clock but looks like it’s proper night outside, I set off to go home and change because tonight I was going to see Beach House! I was slightly disappointed that I was going by myself, but I was more excited for the actual concert to truly care. And let me tell you, IT. WAS. AWESOME. Oh my god Victoria Legrand was soo good! I liked their latest album a lot, but after hearing it live, it turns into the next level of greatness.

Turns out, the venue we were in was the biggest venue they had played yet and they were super stoked about it. When they came on stage, Victoria goes, “together, we make one giant cake” and when they were about to leave, she said, “the cake thanks you, and it rocks!” Haha, I bet they’d be a cool band to hang out with too, because you could tell they really liked their fans. When one guy was shouting stuff at the stage between a break, she was actually trying to listen and said, “Dude, I’m trying to have a conversation with you, what are you saying?”

Wednesday I showed up at work to find several exciting surprises coming my way. The first being the entire kitchen table was covered with American candy. Yumm! Jolly ranchers and Reese’s peanut butter cups? The half of the production team that went to L.A. had finally come back and had brought some treats from my homeland back with them! It’s a custom in the office that when someone comes back from Holiday, you usually bring some sweets back with you to share. So far, I’ve been fortunate enough to partake in biscuits from Barcelona via Josh and biscuits from somewhere else in Spain curtsey of someone else in the office, but nothing beats a Reese’s and everyone seemed to agree. Everyone that is, accept for Josh.

Josh had just come back from his holiday in Egypt the day before and had brought back a box of Egyptian candies with him. Instead of being opened and shared across the office, it had been pushed to the side to make way for all the American candy.

ME: Oh my god, Reese’s, yesss!
JOSH: Hey now, what’s this on about? Where’s my box of Egyptian sweets? Oh look it’s over here, and it hasn’t even been opened?!
SARAH: Oh my god, are those Jolly Ranchers? I LOVE Jolly Ranchers!
JOSH: Mmm, *starts opening box* Egyptian sweets, I bet they’re sooo tasty.
BEN: Is there any chocolate? *opens a Reese’s and starts choking* (Ben thought the black wrapper on the bottom was dark chocolate and spit the whole thing out when he realized it was paper.)
JOSH: Oh Josh, that’s so kind of you to bring us sweets from Egypt! I bet they’re so good! Mmmm, Egyptian sweets. *puts one in his mouth and makes a face so that you know it’s not that great* Mmmmm, so good.

Hahaha!! Funniest thing I’ve seen in my whole life! Clearly Egypt isn’t known for their candy for a reason, but I could have told you that earlier Josh. At least Seema seemed to like the Egypt candy, but I think she might have been one of the few who actually ventured to try it. My second surprise came when Georgie handed me not one, but two guide books of Paris and a 6 page letter filled with places to go, things to see, and restaurants to eat in! Ahh yes, advice from a local, how much better can that get? And now with Jeni's book and Su's book, I have guide books out the wazoo! But I think my favorite part of the day came when the Elephant costume we ordered for Blah Blah Blah came in (one of the comedians makes a joke and it says ‘the elephant leaves the room’ so obvs we needed a costume) and Ben being Ben, had to try it on. He’s even wearing his ‘happy socks’. No, not the brand, they make him happy.

I left that day thinking about everything I had to do tonight to get ready to leave for Paris on Friday. Start packing, and print boarding passes and get confirmation numbers and looks at maps and where to go, it’s all overwhelming. But all I can say is, I’m so thankful I am an organized planner when it comes to travel, because our airline switched our flight. When I went home to print it out, I find that we’re not leaving Friday morning, but THURSDAY morning. And we’re not getting back Sunday night, but MONDAY night. What?? Enter panic mode now. That means 2 extra nights I have to find a hostel to stay in, I have to call Ben and switch my work schedule around, make sure Monique (the girl I’m traveling with) can still make it, figure out how to get to the airport and I haven’t even started packing yet. I wanted to cry.

I know what you’re thinking, Devon you idiot, you didn’t book the flight correctly. That’s defineitly a possibility, but I think unlikely. Monique and I both double checked when we bought them that they were the right dates, and I even forwarded her a copy of the confirmation info so that she could clarify. Secondly, I’ve heard of this happening to two other people thus far. We think what probably happened was that there’s a “my flight is flexible” box that we didn’t see or something and it altered our flights. Either way, I had a lot to do and only a short amount of time to do it in, and I am NOT MISSING PARIS. Looks like I’m not sleeping tonight. And looks like I just missed all of my classes this week. Cheers!


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"Where's My Baby? Where's My Baby?!" - Andy Haskett

Just a refresher for everyone, including myself, this blog takes place beginning on Friday, November 19th and goes through to Sunday, the 21st of November. Ok, now that we’ve gotten that cleared up…

I woke up on Friday not really knowing what to do with myself. I knew I was supposed to meet up with Laura, Matt and their friends, but I didn’t know when or where or rather, how much time I had until I met them. So I did what I do almost every Friday morning after being awake for 10 minutes; I grabbed my computer and started working on a blog post. When I was about half way through, I got the call from Laura, quickly finished up my post and jumped in the shower.

I was excited to meet Annie and Andrew, Matt and Laura had been talking about them for as long as we’ve been in London. Like the three of us, Andrew and Annie are from TCU, but decided to study abroad in Dublin. I guess they liked Laura’s shirt because they soon decided that they needed HP shirts of their own and headed off to Primark. Something about Primark that I’ve surprisingly failed to mention is the fact that it ALWAYS looks like Black Friday has hit that place. There are people and clothes everywhere to the point that it’s almost claustrophobic. The line to check out, changing rooms or even to get to a certain point in the store is always incredibly long, no matter what time of day it is. Needless to say, I decided to meet them back at the IES dorm after they finished getting shirts. So I put on my snazzy HP shirt that I made myself.

Ta-da! Duh, I know about the HP font Monica. I’ve had it on my computer for a while now, but I didn’t have any iron-ons or stencil material, so I had to kinda sketch the letters from the computer screen and cut them out of paper and use them as a poor man’s stencil. That’s all done with fabric marker! Not too shabby, huh?

On my way to Chelsea, I decided to get lunch. Hmm McD’s might you have something to offer me in London? What, you do?!? They have a vegetarian sandwich at McDonald’s! So I ordered a proper fast food meal from McDonald’s the first time I’ve had something other than salad and fries from them in over five years (The last time was the summer I was 15 and in California and they had a veggieburger sandwich thing). This doesn’t mean I’m going to go around ordering it everyday, but it’s nice to know I have another option.

Andrew and Annie turned out to be every bit as lovely as Laura and Matt made them out to be. Turns out, I knew Annie from something or other way back Freshman year and she’s also from San Antonio. My favorite part was when she said, “Let’s be friends,” she meant presumably on facebook, but it sounded like we were 5 and back on the playground again. Haha love it. Andrew was also pretty cool. We have a similar taste in music and got along really well. It’s good to know that when we go back to the States if/when I hang out with Laura again, I’ll know her group of friends.

After shirt making, we decided to go to King’s Cross and take pictures with Platform 9 ¾. Easier said than done. As I predicted, it’s not next exactly between Platforms 9 and 10, but none of us knew where exactly it was. I kept muttering “we should ask someoneeeee” but no one really wanted to and I certainly wasn’t going to if I could avoid it. So Matt decided to take lead and drag us all the way around King’s Cross to try and find it. “Watch, I said to Laura, “He’s just going to take us in one big circle.” Sure enough, when we ended up on the exact same spot 10 minutes later Matt cut me off before I could even begin an ‘I told you so!’ with a “Ohh don’t give me sass! You don’t know either!” No, I don’t. All I know is that it’s near some dumpsters, which is why I said we should ask. So finally Laura got fed up with our arguing and did the grown-up thing and asked. 10 minutes later, we found it!

After King’s Cross, we ventured to Liecster Square so the theatre people could get tickets to a show while they were town, but sadly, everything worth seeing (including their number one pick, Billy Elliot) was way too expensive. We decided to go home and check what else was playing, but first, some Pizza Express! Mmm, yes please. By the time we had dinner, went to Waitrose to buy sweets for the movie, and went home to book their theatre tickets (they went to see Design for Living, haha YES!), it was time to head out to the cinema!

The four of us were pretty excited but I was surprised by the turnout at the theatre. I don’t understand British people sometimes. A.) There are NO midnight openings to the most popular movie of the year, especially for one that was MADE in England and B.) We showed up 30-40 minutes before the movie and there were only about 15 or 20 people in line before us. If this was the States, even though we had previously bought the tickets, we’d be waiting at the end of a huggggge line. But hey, I’m not complaining. The movie was of course AMAZING. Best one yet and followed the book almost completely. I’ll leave out my favorite parts for any of you silly people who still haven’t seen it yet, but I will say that the scene where they appear in London was especially cool for me. I know where they are! I know where that street is! I’ve been down it! Ahhh good feeling! I knew I picked the right semester to spend in London.

Saturday I got up earlier than I would have liked due to the fact that Professor Haskett was in town. As part of our Study Abroad Program, one of the professors was going to come back in the middle of the semester to check up on us and make sure we’re all surviving, as well as dish out a few small field trips and free meals. There’s something strangely comforting showing up at the hotel we first stayed at when we got into town and seeing it all decked out for Christmas. In a weird way, It’s like going back home and seeing the tree up. But turns out, I was the first one there and I got to have a breakfast (croissants and coffee) and some alone time with Andy. I’ve known Professor Haskett longer than the others since not only is he apart of the Film department at TCU, but he’s been my advisor for the past 3 years, so we have more to talk about than some of the others I guess. Just when I was thinking I might luck out and get to design the itinerary for this weekends activities, Daryia shows up. Dun dun dun, there goes my quiet time.

For some reason, I never remember what Daryia is saying, all I remember is that she says a lot of it. And then Trang came. Sadly I knew this was all extent of the TCU kids who were going to make it. Jeni, Tom and Jay were in Barcelona and Matt and Laura were spending time with Andrew and Annie so that left me with the other two. I guess it’s good in the sense that Daryia and Trang became good friends and had a buddy but it also just made me want to bang my head against the wall half the time as well. Now there’s TWO of them, gah! I still got to have a pretty heavy influence on the agenda or at least know how to manipulate my audience to get what I want from them. We decided to see a movie that afternoon. Yay, free cinema! Sadly, we didn’t get to see Mike Leigh’s Another Year, a real British movie, but something I knew was going to be awkward and ran the risk of being unfunny, Due Date.

When Andy started asking us how we were getting along in London, this somehow led the conversation getting lost and/or giving directions. I’ve been stopped and asked for directions at least once a week, but I can only really help them about half the time. Sometimes they ask me how to get places I’ve never heard of or been to before and in that respect, I always point to the nearest bus stop and say “There’s a map”. I thought this was being helpful without really knowing anything, but apparently that’s being a rude, metropolitan city dweller. “Spoken like a true Londoner!” said Professor Haskett while Daryia just laughed and said, “I thought I was being rude.” Hmmm…. no comment Daryia, no comment.

When we met up later in the afternoon, I was greeted by Andy with the question of would I like some ice cream? Umm, yes please! I don’t care that it’s cold outside, London soft serve from a vender is delicious! The theatre we went to, The Apollo, had the BEST projector I’ve ever seen in my entire life. I have no idea what we were seeing it on, but it was the clearest thing I’ve seen ever. Mmmm, I want one of those! As I predicted, the movie had some funny moments, but it was slightly awkward sitting next to your Professor on one side and Dariya who WOULDN’T SHUT UP on the other. I felt sorry for the people behind us. I tried shushing her several times too, but it didn’t work.

After watching four seasons of The Big Bang Theory back to back over the two weeks, I was craving thai food like crazy, so needless to say, it was my goal to get some Pad Thai out of this free meal arrangement. We ended up going to Chinatown for Chinese so close, but no cigar. This. Was. AWKWARD. First off, the place was one of those places that likes to display a combination of random Asian songs and old 80s and 90s Karaoke on multiple TV screens through out the restaurant and as soon as we sat down, Trang starts singing. Whhhhat? I look around the table and Daryia is still talking about the movie to professor Haskett, Trang is singing into her menu and I’m squished in the corner desperate for a Diet Coke and some tofu. That pretty much set the tone of the mood for the meal. Occasionally I could see Professor Haskett getting a bit annoyed when Daryia kept cutting him off so I’d ask him about his Thanksgiving plans with his family, but I was all too ready to leave when the check arrived.

Sunday I got up early again, but this time to go see the Changing of the Guards. Since Daryia and Trang had already seen it, Andy and I got to go by ourselves. I enjoy Professor Haskett, it’s much like hanging out with a Grandpa figure, but one who knows all about film. So together we set off for Buckingham palace, not before stopping to get some Hot Chocolate and a blueberry muffin of course, mmm! There was Bobbies everywhere to keep the crowd under control. There was one on a horse who actually got close enough to let me pet the horse! But my favourite was the old Police man who kept having to shoo people off the path. He was having fun with the people and they thought he was being weird.

The actual ceremony didn’t start for a good 40 minutes, and the place was already packed. This led to Professor Haskett trying to get me to push my way up to the front. “Just cry ‘Where’s my baby? Where’s my baby?’ That’ll get people to move for you!” Bahaha, thanks Professor, but I’ll just stick to my Devon methods. Sure enough, by the time it started, I had made my way to the front. In my opinion, the whole ceremony is a little overrated. Yes it was cool, but they really just march in, parade style, to the front of the palace, where the ceremony actually takes place, but it’s behind a gate, so you really can’t see it anyways and then the old guard marches out again. Rather boring aside from the 5 minutes where they walk in front of you.

After that, we made our way over to the Tower of London where we were meeting the other for a tour of the old castle and some ice skating (both of which, were my idea. I know how to plan a good day, huh?) This time, Matt showed up, and I was so soo happy to have a buddy! We even got some chips (well Matt had fish’n’chips) while we were waiting for the girls.

While I’m glad we got to tour the Tower, it’s a strange feeling doing such a touristy thing when you no longer feel like a tourist. All the sudden, the whole thing felt a bit silly almost as if I was to go back to SA and decide, let’s go to the Alamo! But all the same, it was really fun! The tour is guided by a Beefeater or a Guard of the Tower. Each of them live in the Tower with their families while they’re serving and ours was particularly funny. I’m sure giving a tour multiple times a day on a History that never changes has got to be boring to say the least, but somehow he made it fun. My favourite was when he would direct us over to the next place in the castle, he’d say something like, “And now, let’s leap like graceful gazelles to St. Thomas’s Tower.” (We were also compared to swans, and wildebeests).

After the tour we got to wonder around the Tower for ourselves; check out the crown jewels, hit up the gift shops, spend some time in the old torture cambers. By then, it was 3 in the afternoon, I was freezing after being outside all day, and the thought of ice skating and falling down when I was this cold was ludicrous, I didn’t care if it was free. So Matt and I peaced out a bit early and by 4 I was back home in my somewhat warm room. The night was far from over though as I got to skype for 2 hours with the lovely Leanne and Carolyn back in L.A. I had forgotten that Carolyn studied in London as well, so the three of us got a chance to swap London stories as well as them giving me some suggestions as to where to go while I’m still in town (apparently a Cornish pasty is in order!). It always pays to end the night on a high note.