Well, here I am! And, of course, I have been here since Saturday. I have been keeping myself so incredibly busy. I haven't had time to write more than a crude list of everything I've done in my journal. I don't know if this post will be any better. I'll just tell you what I've been up to.
I arrived at Heathrow around 8:15 local time. Our plane sat for an hour (after it we were all loaded on) at the gate before we were able to leave JFK so I was stuck on the plane an hour longer than expected. It wasn't so bad though: I was sitting next to a very attractive British man who was also very friendly. Unfortunately I didn't manage to get his name (or any contact information). There were about 12 of my fellow classmates on my same flight so we all made our way to Regent's College from the airport. We got a group rate for the Heathrow Express into town and from there half of us (the smart half, that didn't include me) took a taxi to Regent's. The other half took the tube.
This is where I'm staying. Regent's College is right in the middle of the park. This is a view from just inside the gate. It's in the middle of London, but also in the park so it's super peaceful. Just outside the gate, in the actual park itself, there are a million birds and flowers and gardens. It's absolutely lovely. This picture was taken right outside the gate:
So... Saturday afternoon we had orientation. Afterwards I went out with my roommate, Andrea, and another classmate, Andrew, to Angel in the Fields. When you think of a typical English Pub, what do you think of? Does it look like this:
That is an actual photo of Angel in the Fields. It's was a perfect English Pub and it's only about a 10 minute walk from where I'm staying. We had a couple pints and then wandered around to find some dinner.
By the time we finished eating and stumbled back to the college, I had been awake for close to 36 hours, except for the few uncomfortable hours I managed to sleep on the plane. Between that and the beer, plus wine we had with dinner, I easily fell right to sleep almost as soon as I returned to my room.
I woke up very naturally at around 6:30 in the morning. I would have probably liked to sleep a little more (both my roommates and several classmates slept until at least 11:00) but I couldn't really get back to sleep. Plus I am in feeking London! I was excited to explore. I took a shower first then set off by myself to explore my surroundings a little. I went into the Inner Circle of the park and had a look at some of the gardens. They are stunning! After that I wandered up Baker street for a little way then made my way back to the college.
By the time I returned, more of my classmates were awake. I went to the Refectory (English for Cafeteria) with my two roommates to get some lunch to take-away (take-out). We then proceeded to walk through the park to Camden Town. We walked up and down Camden High Street and through Camden Market and Camden Lock Market. All three of those things are mind-blowing awesome. All three of them together are amazing to the point of over-kill. By the time we exited Camden Lock Market and started back down Camden High Street, we were totally burned out. Camden High Street is a busy little shopping mecca. It's also the place where all the punks and goths and "alternative" sort of sub-cultures come together so just people watching is fascinating. The shops are all kind of punky-goth with a smattering of cheap touristy stuff and discount everything. It kind of reminded me of China-Town in NYC. Plus, all the buildings have these great facades:
The markets are even more interesting. Camden Market was mostly clothing. You walk into this... it's like a tent city or something. In about one square block (except it may have been much bigger... every time I thought it was ending there was another row shooting off somewhere) crammed full of booths (for lack of a better word) where people are selling things. Mostly clothes, as I said, but there were also some shoes and a little jewelry and accessories.
Camden Lock Market was a little more spread out and possibly not as big. There they also had lots of food vendors. Everything smelled delicious and as we walked down the row people were handing us samples left and right. We probably should have just walked through there for lunch instead of getting something at the Refectory. Camden Lock Market had more jewelry and accessories than Camden Market. I absolutely intend to go back (probably near the end of my trip so I don't have to worry about saving money for the rest of my trip) later. I'll probably just do Camden Lock though - I found it much more interesting personally.
As I said, we were kind of burned out by the time we finished with Camden. Plus it was starting to rain. We walked back in a downpour. I spent the rest of the day taking it easy and reading for class.
We had our first class in the morning. It looks to be very interesting and somewhat informal. We've started our discussion with Twelfth Night, which we are going to see tomorrow. It looks like the course will be a combination of literature and London history. I think that's pretty fantastic! It's nice to know things about the city as I'm going about.
After lunch quite a large group of us went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum, just across the street from the park. Then we all took the tube to Kings Cross to be super Harry Potter Nerds:
We thought maybe if we all pushed hard enough we would get through.
From there half the group stayed to wander around... there was some talk of a Charles Dickens museum. I went back with the other half for lunch then we headed to South Kensington and the Victoria and Albert Museum. That was extremely interesting, but we were only there for about 2 hours before it closed. 2 hours is not enough time to see the V&A. We did see quite a few very neat things though.
When the museum guards kicked us out we jumped back on the tube and took it one stop to Knightsbridge where we ate supper at Pizza on the Park. English Pizza is quite different. Three of the menu items (read: pizzas) had egg listed as a topping. Egg on pizza is not a happy combination. When we finished, the people I was with left for the LDS church for Family Home Evening. I didn't have much desire to join them. I decided to walk back to Regent's through Hyde park (just along the edge, I wouldn't call it seeing the park at all) bast Wellington Arch
and The Marble Arch. It was a lovely stroll, but by the time I got back to my room my legs were about to fall off. I spent the rest of the evening reading and talking to classmates.
Today I haven't really done much at all. We had class this morning. Since then I've been lazing about in my room. Writing this, researching things to do, uploading photos, that sort of thing. I bought my bus ticket to Cardiff. I think I'm now finished with my computery stuff so I might go out into the park and read or write a little.
I'm wondering if I should try to blog every day. Mostly for my own benefit. It's nice to have a record of my day when it's still fresh in my head. Plus I'm doing so much that just a few days is... how long is this post? I haven't even really gone into any detail. That said, I really haven't had a lot of time to blog. I suppose it wouldn't take so long if I wasn't doing days at a time. I don't know. I guess we'll see.
I have a lot more pictures than I posted here. You can look at them Here.