Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fish, Chips and Big Ben

This has been a busy, busy week. Monday, I had my first elective class, Contemporary British Drama. I really like the professor, and he seems a bit more my style than my Understanding British Drama professor. It's a class of more "mainstream" kids as opposed to art kids like my core class is, which is kind of nice, it makes for a really good atmosphere of people who are genuinely interested in the subject matter. That night we went to see our first play called "Blasted" by Sarah Kayne. It was put on by a company called Graeae, that's entirely a handicapped company. My oyster card (student travel card) finally came in the mail, so I was able to use that finally to hop on the tube with two girls from my class, Caitlin and Ashley, and we quickly made our way to Picadilly. After a short dinner at Pizza Express (this chain restaurant/cafe thing all over London), we made our way to the Theatre. I can't say that I particularly liked the play--it was all about post-war Bosnia and made use of shock theatre, which basically is a technique that uses a lot of cursing and all things raunchy to shock the audience. The cast was really talented, one of the men didn't have any legs. The use of the handicapped cast made it really effective and powerful, but the play itself was incredibly intense--sort of looking at the soulful and soulessness of those involved in war. I stayed for a talk-back after the show, where panelists spoke on their experiences in war. We made our way home, back on the tube, and i came back and hung out with my roomates here.
Tuesday was more elective class, and then I went with Caitlin to the Sainsbury to pick up some more foodstuffs (of course we managed to get lost, but only a little bit). I then came back, made dinner, and saw Anne! We met at the local pub near me. It was so nice, once again it's the familiar face sort of deal, but even just to be able to swap stories with someone who knows you so well. She and I have a very similar outlook on being in the city, and it's even just nice to have the both of us in the same city as opposed to five hours apart.
On wednesday, I woke up early to go running, and then wanted to go watch changing of the guard at buckingham palace. It actually snowed here tuesday night! I have a feeling it was cancelled due to the weather, or else I actually managed to get lost. Oh well, instead I walked by some of the houses of parliament, saw one of the british guards, big ben, westminster, the london eye, the picasso to manet exhibit at the National Gallery, Covent Garden, and ate my first english fish and chips! I walked a ton that day, just in and out of streets, winding my way through the city eventually to meet my friend hannah to help her find her internship in Picadilly. We walked around for a while, and then went back to kensington to have a cup of tea. i made my way back to my flat (exhausted!) and then to covent garden to the royal opera house because i had tickets to see carmen that night! I wass honestly so tired though, that literally my whole body started throbbing at the opera. It was really beautiful, and i was amazed at how much it was just like a musical in another language, not the stuffy sort of thing one typically associates with opera. I also recognized a lot of the songs too, which i didn't realize i would have. At this point though, my body started throbbing and i just was about to fall asleep, so decided to leave at intermission. I am bummed that i didn't see the whole thing but had a busy and good day!
Thursday, today, I had class again, and we had a playwrite, Fin Kennedy come in and speak to us about his experiences which was both interesting, and fun because he was definitley easy on the eyes :-P I went to lunch afterwards and then to the gym. Tonight, I went to dinner at a restaurant called Med Kitchen with my friend Alexis, and am just finishing some stuff up right now before I go to bed and have class tomorrow (boooo...)
I booked tickets to go to Dublin in a few weeks, which I'm looking forward to, I always have wanted to see Ireland. Right now, I'm stressed out trying to figure out spring break stuff. I just want to see as much as possible, but really can't stay in a hostel myself. hopefully it will work out, but right now it is stressful.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

would you like some e with your cocaine?

wow, for the first time in 5 days, i'm staying in tonight around my dorm. i have officially been here for a week now, and each day is getting better. i would still say the worst part of the program are the people--i have met a couple really cool people, but for the most part, everyone is really cliquey, and not that cool on meeting new people. i've bonded with my roomates mackenzie and vanessa as well as mackenzie's friends from school ally and evan. i'm beginning to get to know the people in my flat, and have hung out with this girl hannah a whole bunch too. what i've discovered about being abroad, is that i'm definitley out of my comfort zone--at school i have a very set sort of routine, and am not used to going out often at all, as well as i know more "art kids" for lack of a better descriptor, or more creative people. that's not to say my friends here aren't creative, but we just share different interests. i'm being more social, and just trying to make small talk with people (and if you know me, you know what i think about small talk). so in that way, being abroad has helped me leave my comfort zone and be more social. i still have the things that i like to do, but i'm working on doing things that i'm not used to, or would typically want to do.
thursday, i had my first class (DR 443), which was four hours long. i'm really excited to start seeing shows in london, and i think my first play (that i see on my own) i want to be "the mousetrap" by agatha christie, which is the longest running play ever. on monday (tomorrow night), i'm seeing "blasted" at the soho theatre, by sarah bayne (?) which supposedly has an entirely handicapped cast. it should be cool. i really want to see cabaret too. it's my goal to try to see at least one play/musical on my own each week. i figure also if i do that, i might meet a crowd there.
that afternoon, i went to the gym, and then decided to go explore on my own around the south kensington area. i forget if i've written about this already, but i really like the area that i'm living in. it's super cute area, kind of like newbury street and backbay. the architecture is similar to that of boston, but uses a lot brighter whites. i went to this really cool chocolate store while exploring (ofcourse right after the gym!) it was all sorts of really sophisticated combinations like blood orange and dark chocolate (that's what i tried). i then went to marks and spencer (almost like a nicer european target) to get some bedding for my not so comfortable bed. it's amazing how even in a fairly european country, you still have culture shock, and difficulties doing such easy tasks. it probably took me at least an hour and a half just to figure out a pillow and blanket combination. i also bought some shoes too, which could easily be my vice here :-P maybe it's just me being jaded, but i'm totally falling victim to how classy everything feels here. it's like the culture shock chart that tufts showed before i left, there was one part that explained how everything will feel so new and exciting here. hopefully that just lasts the whole time.
thursday night there was a big mixer party at this bar called bunker bar. it was a lot of bu students there, and originally, i didn't have a ticket, but luckily they opened up the bar more, and we were able to get tickets. we got to the bar, and walked around a bit. it was very crowded, but a good time--i'm glad we went. it ended around 1130, and from there a bunch of us tried to find another club to go to, but we ended up getting lost around picadilly in the pouring rain too for two hours, which made for quite a fun story, but everyone was drenched by the time we got back to the crofton.
on friday, my class was cancelled, so i woke up to go to the gym before my placement meeting. i have a bad habit of getting lost every time i walk back from class at harrington gardens. my meeting went well, they still don't have anything yet, but are going to try to get me a job in a theater. after the meeting, i went with my friend hannah to high street which has some fun shops. my favorite i think was topshop because i've never been into one before. we tried to avoid going into urban outfitters, because they have them in the states, but we ended up going in, and doing a little retail therapy, which was justified because the merchandise was very different than anything i've seen in the states--much classier for reals though because they had a lot of high end designers inside. that night, i wanted to do something low-key, and ended up going to a local pub, which was a different environment than what i had done the past two nights. it wasn't too great a night, a lot more low key, and i think that environment is better when it's with people who you know well, more condusive to chill talking rather than the get to know you kind of discussion. on saturday, i woke up for a run, and then went and saw jason, sarah, erica and erica's friend luciano from her program. we met at the national gallery in trafalgar square. i don't love renaissance art, but i'm glad that i went. the landscapes were gorgeous, so i want to try and make it back. it was so nice to see a familiar face, and i think being abroad has made me appreciate tufts people more--you don't realize how much you miss people until you aren't seeing them every day. the view also from the front of the gallery is amazing, there are these massive statues of lions and everything overlooks the sunset. trafalgar really is a hub of london, and i'm going to try to make it back there in the not too distant future (of course to go the portrait gallery!) we went out for my first meal out in london for indian food that night, which was really tastey. everything in london is priced the same as it is in the states, but the amount in pounds is twice as much in dollars. i don't always want to be thinking about costs here, because it will be impossible to live then, and i want to soak up the moment in london, but it's also something that i'm trying to be aware of. jason and erica had to leave early on in the evening, but sarah, luciano and i went and walked down to soho to go out. we ended up looking for a bar that was a combination of "swanky and sleazy" and ended up at a bar on rupert street which we didn't realize was a gay bar. we walked in and were like, "wow, there are a lot of attractive men in this bar, and three women...hmmmm..." but it was really fun, even though the bar tender laughed at me when i tried to get a drink. we kept on walking, and went down carnaby street, which used to be the hub of london where the mods hung out in the 60s. it's so cool to be able to picture this stuff as it's happening, i swear i imagine andy warhol and twiggy prancing along. we walked around a bit longer, before i went back to the crofton to meet my friends so we could go to a club called fabric.
the club, oh lord where to start (geez, i feel like i talk about how much we go out at night here, but that's really the scene, which i'm trying to soak up, don't worry though, i'm not going too hard)? the club was called fabric, and the instructions were "dress to impress." we got there, and went down in (because all the clubs here are underground). it was really really smokey, but all the couches were beds. we set up camp, and just chilled out and talked for a while. we tried to start dancing, but it was all really bad techno music, as well as people doing cocaine and ecstasy openly, which as much as i say i'm out of my element, and trying new things, i don't want to try THAT much new things. we were there for three hours, but everyone agreed afterwards it was a bit intense for us. we got back and had a greys anatomy watching party to see the new episode until 3 in the morning.
today i went with hannah to walk around. we hopped on the bus (by the way, there are a million different buses to take in this city, and knowing my luck, i will end up on the wrong one one time). but i rode my first double decker bus today! we went into harrods, and looked in all the different areas--i ofcourse loved seeing the bakeries and all the gorgeous cakes and cooked goods (toolish, i know!) after our harrods outing, we then took the bus to kings road, which was just really fun to see and be around. from kings road, we just decided to walk, and went along royal hospital road through chelsea seeing the royal court theater and the royal hospital (photo op!) from there we went along the albert bridge to battersea park and walked along the river, and seeing monuments there.
i hope this has been a good update, i've been busy, but it's exciting. things are definitley a little overwhelming, but i am getting by, and trying to stay positive. this city is wonderful, and when i'm feeling a bit down, that's what helps me get by!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

hurricane force winds in london. first day of classes. finally no more lectures. day 5 in london and things still good. not great, not bad though. i had a really fun night with some friends last night. of course everyone discovers that, oh wait, we have reading to do here, guess we should get on that. so i originally had no plans of going out, but after going to a pub (gloucester arms) with a friend to do reading (yes, i did work in a bar, and i am comfortable admitting that fact), we decided to go out to a club/bar in covent gardens. it was really fun too, and i think i'm getting more comfortable just knocking on people's doors and seeing if they want to hang out. the bar was called the roadhouse, and there was a live band playing all music that was just wicked fun to dance to. i met a nice british bloke there (i'm sorry, i had to say it). he kinda looked like barry manilow though and the indian guy from harold and kumar go to white castle. he is a playwrite in the area, and told me how kevin spacey read his script. i couldn't tell if he was full of shit, or for real. we had a nice talk though about british theater, and just hung out. nothing major, it was just a good environment. really fun night though, i took the bus here for the first time, and walked through picadilly too, and am enjoying hanging with the cool people i meet :-)
today i had my first class. i walked over with some girls from my building, and i might go shopping with some of them tomorrow. today was my core class (DR 443). i was actually really excited just to get back into a learning environment, but found it not to be that difficult. i need to keep telling myself (which frankly is counterintuitive) that i'm not in london for the academics. the professor just asked a lot of questions about a script (look back on anger), that i thought a 10 year old could have answered. my first assignment is to write a rant in the style of a character that's 4-5 lines. wow, serious change from tufts. there are 5 people in my class, all of whom are from the bu cfa program, and me. they're actually all really friendly, and i'll enjoy class with them, but they also all know each other and it's clear that the art kids all hang with the lambda kids, so they're off in their own little group (suprise suprise). only time shall tell though, and they were also really friendly and willing to talk too. the class was interesting because we learned a lot about what exactly british theater is (commercial and state funded). i was amazed at how much musicals really drive the system, something that people almost frown down on at tufts.
after class, i trudged back (yes, because there were 50-80 mph winds today) back to my building, changed and went to lunch at pret a manger and the gym. pret is super cute, sort of like the european version of au bon pain, but i want to try a bunch of the restaurants on gloucester (the street my school is on)--they all looked super cute. gym, and then off exploring. i found this like designer chocolate place, which was just fun to walk around and tried a dark orange and chocolate candy (of course right after the gym, because when else do you eat chocolate?!) i then walked down high street a bit (the newbury street-esque area near my building) and ran some errands in marks and spencer to get bedding, and then a hair dryer in boots, and finally back to shower and make dinner.
tonight is a welcome party at a bar nearby called bunker bar. i swear i've gone out more in london then i did all semester at tufts! but it's fun, and i'm trying to be social too, because the more one is out, the more one meets people, and the more people one meets, the more cool people one knows (duh, but i felt the need to spell it out).
tomorrow is eusa placement meeting--i really hope they've found a theater for me to work in, and then shopping with hannah and casey in the afternoon. i think i'm also going to go out with anne and some people from all over. saturday night jason and erica are coming into london and we're going to celebrate jason's birthday. i'm going to do some walking tours of the city that i found in a guide book just to get my barings on everything, and write down favorite stuff, and on sunday go back and do one thing that i saw on saturday.
that's the update for now!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

what i have learned today

-mtv dance is hysterical--i woke up early to go to the gym before a day spent entirely in lectures, and sure enough, there was a station on that was entirely women dressed in workout clothes dancing to bad techno.
-the fire alarm is bound to go off when i am in the shower: sure enough, we had a fire alarm today when in the crofton. the fire alarms here don't go off in the bathrooms, rather, i had to stick my naked ass body out of the doorway to ask my roomate (who had a random boy in her bed) what was going on. strong choice.
-big ben actually refers to the bell at the top of the clock, not the entire building itself.
-4 hours of lecture anywhere in the world is boring: self explanatory
-i like going to bars to chat up british people, rather than feeling like a wet blanket with the american students i have met. i found a super cute pub tonight that plays live piano music every night.
-seeing lucy woolley today gave me a serious boost in confidence: i was definitley lacking in feeling like myself, so this was a great treat, and it was fun to see where she lives and meet her boyfriend. they took me to my first pub "the smoke room" which was really fun and i tried mangers, this cool hard cider which was super tastey.
ok, that's about it for now

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Here I am evening of day 1. Quick recap of the past 24 hours. We got to the airport around 545ish, and had dinner there before very sad goodbyes. This is the longest that I've ever been away from home, and I think that, combined with the anxiety of leaving made it that much tougher to say goodbye. I found my gate easily, and looked around at how many people there were students. But of course, just my luck, they all seemed to have found their own little niches, and I was left to go about my own devices. I'm ok with that though, because I don't want to push things to happen too quickly, I know that I will have fun here, and it's not all going to happen the first night/at the airport.
Once we took off, I watched a couple movies and slept for all of two hours (making me feel REAL good right now). After landing at Heathrow, everyone made their way over to customs where we waited for almost an hour. By this point I was cranky, tired, sad, annoyed, basically a big wonderful ball of fun. But I made it through and took a cab from the airport to The Crofton. It was really nice to have a few minutes to myself to sort of take in the sights, I think this was the first moment that the excitement of what I am doing sank in. I am amazed at how similar London feels to Boston--not too many sky scrapers, and a plethora of beautiful architecture. I love all of the quaint little houses. My taxi driver recommended that I take a tourist bus around, because those are 24 hour a day tickets, so I can get a feel of what I want to do more in depth.
I am in room 17 in the Churchill flat in the Crofton. I have two roomates, Mackenzi and Vanessa, both of whom I really like. Mackenzi came with a few people from school, so she mainly hung out with them, but Vanessa doesn't know as many people so we hung out during the afternoon. Sure enough, who wandered by our room at one point, but Steve Wise. Turns out he's doing the program too, and lives one floor below us. It was really nice to see a familiar face, and hopefully I'll hang out with him in the upcoming weeks. The flat is set up differently than I had expected, it's more dorm rooms spread out over a hallway, with a really nice kitchen far away. I had pictured more of bedrooms all going off of the kitchen. Vanessa and I walked to get groceries, and then made it back just in time for our tour of kensington. Frankly, at this point I'm too jet-lagged to remember half of what I saw, especially since the woman giving the tour kept saying how important everything was to know, and this was our one chance to learn it. greeeeeeeeaaaaaaaattt...
ok, i'm going to go now for a floor meeting.
until then!

Saturday, January 13, 2007

london in an hour...

i leave the house in a little under an hour for london. i'm a combination of nerves, anxiety and excitement, but right now mainly nerves. i'm definitley ready to be settled.
all my things are packed, and of course despite how hard one tries to pack lightly both my suitcases are full to the brim--and i thought i did well too!
it's been sad saying goodbye to people and it's nice to know that four monthes will fly by, i just hope i can take advantage of everything while i'm there. frankly though, right now, it is nice to know that the time will go quickly, but i'm sure that will change immediately once i get there. i'm looking forward right now to seeing this amazing housing that i supposedly have, and meeting my roomates. tomorrow will be a lot of that really awkard introduction stuff, and getting acquainted. all the things i want to do and try are so many right now, that i can't even begin to list them.
ok, i'm going to go hang out around the house now.
wish me luck...!