Saturday, September 10, 2011

You sound like you're from London... Week one!

I have to admit I wasn't planning on actually having a blog while I'm here, but things have been so fast paced that I'm worried I won't remember everything that I've done if I don't write it down. So, here it goes, my first week in London.

After saying my goodbyes to most family and friends, it came time to head to the airport. My mom and Zac in one car, Taylor and I in the other. Everything was going fine until, in true "Jordyn's traveling bad luck" style, my bag was seven pounds over the weight limit, and the airline was going to charge $200 to leave it that way. After brief panic, and my mom beginning to pull a nordstrom bag out of the trashcan, a nice woman offered to give me a nice bag that she was planning on throwing away. I stuffed seven pounds of stuff into that bag, and problem solved! We hung out in the commuter terminal until it was time for our final goodbyes. They were much harder than I expected them to be, but I tried to put on my brave face and pushed myself through security. There I waited for a few minutes until it was time to board my tiny commuter plane to LA. Being as emotional and physically tired as I was I slept through all 25 minutes of that flight. After we landed I made my way to the next terminal where I boarded a very large plane that would take me to London. After realizing I was now too anxious to actually get any sleep, I bought the extra package of movies and TV shows on my computer screen and indulged in Midnight in Paris, Bridesmaids, and a few episodes of Friends. Ten hours later I had landed in London!

I made it through customs rather quickly, found my bag, and made my way through the airport to find my airport taxi driver. I was waiting for about a half an hour before I finally spotted a man carrying a sign with my name on it. He was pretty quiet, and we didn't talk much which was fine by me because I was more interested in staring out the window. I remember thinking to myself over and over, "everything here is backwards".

Only about 20 minutes later, we arrived at my home stay's house! I was nervous and ready to meet my new host family and roommate. But of course something else had to go wrong. When I rang the doorbell, no answer. When I knocked on the door, no answer. This would happen to me. Thankfully my taxi driver did not abandon me in the rain and he let me make a few calls on his cell phone. No one was answering their phones so we drove around the block once more to make sure we were in the right place. When we went back to the house the second time, there was a car in the driveway. I graciously thanked my driver and made my way inside. My host mum and dad, Jenny and Steve, are nicer than I could have ever asked for. I enjoyed a cup of tea and helped Jenny make some homemade bread before my roommate Tara got home. She is wonderful too. We have a lot in common and I knew right away that we would get along. I spent the rest of the night relaxing at the house and trying to stay up as late as I could before I passed out in my new room:

Monday, September 5th was our first day of orientation at school. Tara and I had to wake up early to get to school because the Centre is about an hour away by tube. We made it there without getting lost and with time to spare. Orientation was pretty boring to be honest but it was nice to start getting to know everyone on the program. We were toured around the area a bit and then were sent back home. Tara and I spent another night at home. Jet lag had caused me to be tired all day long, go to bed early, and wake up early. So I wasn't quite ready to do a whole lot of exploring. Coming home to Jenny's cooking is nice anyway. I really lucked out with such a great host mum who can cook!

Tuesday was another day of orientation. We had to be there early to listen to all the teachers give presentations about their classes. We didn't have to decide exactly what classes we wanted to take until week 2, so it was beneficial to listen to each one. Afterwards AHA ordered us Domino's pizza for lunch. I thought this was hilarious considering we had only been away from home for a couple of days.. I'm not homesick yet! I don't need American food yet! After lunch we took a bus (my first double decker in London!) and walked down to the Thames where we boarded a river cruise to the Tower of London.

Julia and I on our first bus ride through London.

On the way I saw Big Ben, the London Eye, Parliament, and Shakespeare's Globe all from the boat. I had quite the nerdy theatre student moment as we floated by the Globe... The Tower was interesting. Saw the Crown Jewels and even did my first sketch of the White Tower. The thing I remember the most is that Anne Boleyn was executed on the grounds. Tuesday night we headed to a bar called the Junction. Very cool place for students on tuesdays.

Me and Ben.

Wednesday was our first official day of classes. I "crashed" the London: Biography of a City class because they were going to the Museum of London. The museum was interesting. Saw a huge recreation of the Rose Theatre so I spent most of my time looking at that. After going I decided to join that class too. Now I'll be taking four classes instead of three. After the museum a few of us had to get back to the Centre for our The Play's the Thing theatre class. We will be seeing so many awesome plays in so many historic theatres this semester. I can hardly wait. Wednesday night was spent again at home with more home made meals and talks around the table.

Thursday was my long day of classes. I had Shakespeare in the morning, then London: Biography of a City, and then our required class, Britain Today. All were great. Britain Today is going to be my hardest class, but we are going to be seeing a lot of cool things so there are things to look forward to. For part of the class on Thursday we went to the British Museum which is in a beautiful building pretty close to the Centre. We were only in the museum for half an hour before we were kicked out before closing time. I did get to see some amazing things, my favorite being jewelry collected from the Roman times. Thursday night was spent again at the Junction with a lot of friends from the program.

Friday was spent exploring Covent Gardens with Tara. We did some shopping, ate good food, and found a wonderful little frozen yogurt shop. I fulfilled a nerdy theatre history dream when I saw the Royal Theatre Drury Lane and got to step inside the lobby. We even got lost trying to find a tube station, but we are both getting much more confident with navigating around the city. I already feel better about riding the tube every day. I even managed to get home on the bus by myself after dinner! On that note, if you're ever in Harrow, you have to visit a Mediterranean and Italian restaurant thats right up the street from the Harrow on the Hill tube station. They had the best bruschetta and pizza I think I've ever had in my life.

Silly tourist telephone booth picture. H&M bags in hand.

My first time to Theatre Royal Drury Lane!

Tara on the tube. No one really talks on the tube but everyone reads. We've adapted the habit pretty easily.

And that brings us to Saturday. I've been at home all day believe it or not (completely by choice!). I have a lot of reading for school so I spent today cleaning and reading Shakespeare in my beautiful, quaint home. There will be a family dinner tonight and tomorrow Tara and I will jet off to the Mayor's Thames River Festival.

Here are a few new words/phrases I've picked up on in the past week:
"hen-do"= bachelorette party
"stag-do"= bachelor party
"car park" = parking garage
"lift"= elevator
"brill"= an abbreviation for brilliant

Until next week,

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