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.