Sunday, January 31, 2010

I have beautiful eyes.

It's Sunday, and as I was walking home from church today, I realized that so much of the happiness I am experiencing right now is very much dependent upon my eyes. Walking through Hyde Park is always an amazing experience simply because of the beauty that I breathe in. Today, since I decided to walk back alone, I took particular notice of my surroundings: the beautiful swans in the lake and the sun shining down on them and the water, the trees lining the pathways, all of the little British dogs running everywhere (they made me REALLY miss my cat), a little asian girl probably 2 years old all bundled up with her loving parents and their camera, a young teenage boy holding a young teenage girl by the lake, swept away in the bliss of naive love, an independent woman smiling with her dog, a group of smoking adults who, to my excitement, had accents like Jim Sturgess's on Across the Universe, a loving father teaching his son to ride a bike with training wheels while his wife and daughter waited together ahead for them to catch up, and a slow, shaking, solitary elderly man, walking alone with a cane. Seeing all of these people really brings so many thoughts to my mind--its such a rush of thought and emotion and I loved the time I had to simply think and be at peace and reflect. Hyde Park is so gorgeous and when I'm there I feel elegant and regal and beautiful. It makes me want to run, it makes me want to stand with good posture for once in my life, it makes me want to smile, and when I walk through Hyde Park I walk with the confidence of knowing who I am and how much more I am coming to be by being here. My eyes are the foundation for this realization... they allow me to see the nature in Hyde Park which, since I have been here, has simply inspired me. I have beautiful eyes.

Saturday my eyes showed my the life and experience of a Sikh woman. Our whole group traveled to Southall, an Indian Community, for our culture and community class and there we went to a Sikh Gurduara (temple) to have a hands on experience with the Sikh culture. We arrived at the temple and had to take off our shoes, cover our head with our scarves, and wash our hands once inside. We had a man that one of our teachers knows give us a discourse about the Sikh religion, which was very interesting--unfortunately, his Indian accent was thick enough where I could only comprehend about 3/4 of what he was saying, and the volume of his voice was low enough where I could only hear about 1/2 of what he was saying. You do the math. From what I think I did hear though, the Sikh people are simply very tolerant--they believe that everyone is equal, no matter what religion, class, sex, race, etc. If I heard correctly, they actually have a couple beliefs that parallel LDS doctrine which I found very interesting. Also, I was very surprised to hear that the Sikhs really truly exalt the women and believe that they are the superior gender--for from women, our guide said, we have everything. We had the opportunity to witness the Sikh worship service and we even bowed in front of their "Holy Scriptures" to engage ourselves in their customs (I have a bruised knee so I halfed it and just bend over and touched the ground.) Everywhere we walked we had to hold our hands clasped together close to our chest, and I learned that a typical Sikh greeting is to bow to someone while saying "Sat Sri Akal (ji)" and lowering your eyes. After the service we heard some more about Sikhism, and then left to go to the cafeteria. On our way out, we received some sort of Indian snack from a man sitting with a large pot. I bowed low before him, with my right palm folded on top of my left hand, held out my hand, and received this tan, warm lump in my hands to eat. After I received confirmation from others that this snack was actually very tasty, I ate it. It tasted kind of like brown sugar and flour and its texture reminded me a lot of Pflaumen Zuppa (a German treat that my mom makes). The texture really reflected exactly what it was-- wheat, water, butter, and sugar. All in all, it wasn't bad. After our mystery treat, we went to the cafeteria, which serves up Indian food for thousands of people all year for free. We were served three different types of curry dishes, naan bread, sweet rice, and fried vegetables. I tried a little bit of each and they weren't bad, but I mostly ate the bread and the rice. After the Sikh temple, we visited a Hindu temple and an additional Sikh temple. It was a very eye-opening experience and I think I will be a lot less judgmental of people in turbans when I see them walking on the streets now. I'm glad we went.
After the temples we were given time to look around and shop around in the little Indian shops on the streets. It was very cold and it honestly felt like we were in the ghetto of was a little scary, not gonna lie. But, I got some pretty Indian bangles for a pound and my friends and I all got gorgeous henna tattoos at a beauty parlor for only two pounds! I should probably add that when I was walking up TWO steps, I tripped and fell. I had tripped so many times at this point (see story at TopStop down below for further tripping information) that my friends were partly laughing, yet partly in disbelief at my clumsiness. I really don't know what it is! I just have a hard time controlling my limbs I guess! After getting hennas, we walked around for a while and then, out of no where, we saw the beautiful gold arches of McDonalds and it was like we had finally reached civilization. So we rushed over and ran inside where I got a hot chocolate and then sat back down and socialized with everyone until it came time for dinner. What can I say? I'm a true American at heart. We ate at an indian restaurant and let me just say that it was SPICY!! I have no tolerance for spice whatsoever, so my mouth was on fire for the majority of the time. I had to pour on this yogurt stuff into almost every curry side dish to cool it down so that I would be able to eat just a little bit of it....yet at the end of the dinner my stomach was full of mostly rice and naan bread. Nonetheless, it was so much fun to go out to dinner together as a full group...we only eat together in the Centre, so it was fun to be at a restaurant with everyone...even if the food reminded me of what Ben Stiller ate in Along Came Polly.
(please note that yes, we are wearing bindis on our foreheads!)
My experience at Southall was truly one of a kind and very interesting. While I can't say that I will ever go back, or go to India for that matter, I will say that I'm very happy that I went. The whole time we were singing "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire and I kept on hearing my dad's voice in my head saying "become another person" from The Master of Disguise the entire time. Haha, I really wish my family could have been there with me to see it all.

That night, we came back and celebrated Jenny's 20th birthday. Happy Birthday again Jenny! Jenny was my first friend at BYU and she is one of the few that has stuck with me thus far. She's one of the sweetest girls I know and something about her just always makes me laugh. I love that she's here in London with me cause she has been such a great support system for me and I love her to death! I hope she had a great birthday!
Can you find me???
Friday was a free day and so Emma, Caitlin, Macy and I all went to Portabello Road in the morning! Unfortunately it was raining, so our time was limited since cold weather and rain don't make the ideal combo for a day out on a road filled with outdoor markets. It was very much like Camden Market, except for one thing---The Hummingbird Bakery. This delicious little bit of heaven is a cupcake shop very similar to Sprinkles in LA, except better. It was small and pink and so so so adorable. I got a red velvet cupcake and I was very pleased--so much that the night after I dreamt of joke.

After Portabello Road, we took the tube (very nervously might I add...) and went on a very long search for this supposedly delicious restaurant called "Giraffe." Well, I had looked up the street beforehand and so right when we got off the tube at High Street Kensington, I asked tons of people where Kensington Court was to find Giraffe. Long story short, instead of walking maybe two blocks, we made a massive square around some residential housing and finally ended up at Giraffe. Bloody directions. I could say that it was horrible and exhausting, but really, it made going to Giraffe that much better. It was a really cool place with a very relaxed was kind of jungle-themed, which shouldn't be too shocking given its name. Giraffe's motto is "Live, Eat, Love" which really should be the motto of my life. Or at least, one of my mottos. I like eating a lot, and I've realized that a good part of my blog is simply me talking about food... but then again, I wouldn't have it any other way :) After having a delicious quesadilla at Giraffe, I went with my comrades back out into London with HAIL falling from the sky! We didn't have enough time to get to the museum we wanted to see, so to take shelter from the weather and to make most of our time, we went shopping! We went into Urban Outfitters where I acted frugally and didn't get anything, and then into TopShop which has a line by Kate Moss where I got an adorable pair of flats that I simply couldn't resist buying (and TopShop has student discounts... that must have been a sign that I was supposed to make a purchase there.) And of course, in TopShop, I was walking up the steps to the second floor and completely tripped on the stairs and fell forward on my hands while banging my left knee really hard. It was very funny in the moment, but unfortunately I was left with a very painful, swollen, and bruised left knee which confined me to my bed with an ice pack and a new Grey's Anatomy episode for the remainder of the night.
In about 5 hours I have to wake up at 7AM to register for classes for Spring term back in Provo so that I can get the classes that I want before they fill up! I had a really good talk with Calvin, one of the boys here, who is also an English major and he gave me some really great advice about teachers and classes to take, which was something I really needed and am very grateful for. As of right now, I have the rest of college completely planned out which is very comforting. I am so excited for my future.... however, that doesn't mean I want it to begin quite yet.... London and I still have A LOT of bonding to do. My eyes are getting pretty sleepy at this point, so I better head off to bed... tomorrow is a new day, with tons of new sights, images, and people for my captors of magnificence to pull in and treasure. Good night :)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Sun is Shining BRIGHTON Me

Today was very much homework oriented. I have a project due on Monday for Shakespeare and thus I want to try to get as much done before Sunday so that I can spend my usual procrastination on one task rather than five. I woke up and had my usual bowl of cereal, debated about going on a run, but then fell back asleep. Then I went to classes--today I had religion (which I did NOT sleep through thanks to the lovely Laura), polisci170, and Engl300. After classes were over, we were going to go see Phantom of the Opera, but decided to postpone our trip so that more people could join in with us and thereby give us a group student discount. So I went on a run through Hyde Park and then ran some errands and came back home. At dinner, I tried curry for my very first time! Well, in a meal that is... I had always had little bites of it before but never really liked it that much, but tonight I actually really enjoyed it! I'm converting to Thai food, which is something I thought I would NEVER do.

Yesterday was our second day trip and I absolutely fell in love with England more because of it. We woke up at 6:30 to have breakfast and to pack lunches and then boarded onto our "coach" (not bus) and headed on to Brighton. For any Jane Austen enthusiasts, you might recall that Brighton is the town in Pride and Prejudice where Lydia goes to pick up soldiers, and where she meets up with Mr. Wickham....and let me just say that I do not blame Lydia for running off to Brighton--I would run off there every weekend if I could. Well, that's not true. I would run off there every weekend in summer if I could. It's on the coast so it's a beautiful beachside with a massive pier with rides and little shops. Honestly, Brighton is just the perfect little beach town where you want to wear flip flops and a summer dress and run around with an ice cream cone. It was a little unfortunate that we saw it in the winter time, but nonetheless Brighton still seemed to encompass something truly magical in the frosty air.
Once we arrived in Brighton, we went to the Royal Pavilion, which was basically King George IV's palace that he designed for when he went on holiday. It was lavish and ridiculously grand and Queen Victoria stayed there at one point with Prince Albert and their kids. The coolest thing about it was that it was all very oriental and Chinese-themed....there were dragons and asian decor everywhere which was very unique. I loved it! So, we went on a tour throughout the palace and then had lunch and walked around on the beach and on the pier. Then it was bye to Brighton and back to the bus.
After we drove on over to Battle Abbey, which is where the Battle of Hastings took place. It was a massive beautiful countryside with fortress-like castles and walls everywhere. It was so gorgeous... most of the other students looked at all of the battle plaques, however, my friends and I took the opportunity to take very America's Next Top Model-esque pictures all over the place. It was so incredibly gorgeous and I have decided that I will be taking my engagement pictures there when I am engaged. Here are few of some of the best shots:

haha Macy and I had fun posing on these really cool looking stairs at the end

After exploring Battle Abbey we got back on the bus and went to a small city called Rye.... I'm still not quite sure what the point of traveling to that city was because we were only there for an hour and there didn't seem to be any great historical significance. Nonetheless, it was a good experience because Macy, Emma, Caitlin and I went to this really cute little bed and breakfast where I got sweet pepper and tomato soup with a cheese scone. It was the perfect combo for a cold day.... cold enough where I wore my cheetah snuggie wrapped around me on our walk around the town... I was a walking fashion statement.

Tuesday we had class and then that night Emma, Macy, Jenny, Caitlin and I made our third attempt to go see The Woman in Black, which turned out to be.... SUCCESSFUL!! I really enjoyed the play.... it was about these two men, one of which was haunted by an experience in his life which he felt obliged to share with the rest of the world. So, he wrote a play about it. He gives it to a man, and then the whole play is them doing a sort of dress rehearsal of this play. It's your traditional ghost story, where the man goes to this creepy old house where he sees this woman dressed in black. Long story short, whenever you see the woman in black, a child is supposed to die. So the whole play the woman in black is randomly popping out and noises are randomly sounding and it was all very jumpy and scary.... at least for me. I get scared very easily and therefore I was always jumping and screaming throughout the whole play. One time, one of the two main characters simply came on stage to move a chair or something and I screamed...causing everyone in the theater to start laughing. Whoops. All in all, it was a fun night.

Tomorrow, Tony Blair is coming to London to make a speech, and it just so happens that two opposing Muslim groups are going to be having some sort of meeting or gathering or something along those lines. Thus, the terrorist threat has been raised to "severe" for tomorrow and so we're all thinking of laying low tomorrow.... avoiding the tube and such. We'll see how it goes. Hopefully everything and everyone will be safe in London... I would hate it if anyone touched my city.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

To Market, To Market

I have JUST set down my copy of Oliver Twist, which is now FINISHED, and am now finally able to write about the excursions of the past few days (and yes, I did enjoy Oliver very much.... even if he did consume a good amount of my free time)... it's a great feeling!

So, how's London you ask? Absolutely fabulous. I have simply adored this week and I honestly fall more in love with this place and it's people more and more every day (minus the food service people--the waiters here could learn a few tips from the Americans on how to be hospitable and friendly hosts.) Wednesday we woke up super early and got on a bus and drove to Stonehenge! Let me say that as cool as it was, it was so much smaller than I thought it would be. Nonetheless, I had a fabulous time taking pictures with everyone in the snow/slush that was falling from the sky and which proceeded to ruin my then-straightened hair. Good news though--I got a really awesome Stonehenge ring which I love and wear almost every day. New obsession forming in London: rings.

After seeing Stonehenge, we hopped back onto the bus and drove on over to Salisbury Cathedral and took a tour through it. The architecture was very beautiful and I got to see one of the original four existing copies of the Magna Carta. After our tour, we had lunch with Susan (Dr. Howe--she's our English professor and she's one of the most awesome people in the world and we all are apart of her fan club), and then headed back on over to the bus, headed to the city of Bath.
Once we arrived in Bath (or as the British say, "baaahhhth") we headed straight to the Abbey which had the baths which the Romans used to bathe in. It was so gorgeous and I am determined to have a natural hot spring that looks exactly like the one in Bath in the courtyard of my future home. After going through the Abbey we went around and walked through the city, which is very European... cobblestone roads, little shops and alleyways, beautiful architecture in random places...I loved it so much and would love to go back there... especially since you can find free samples of delicious fudge in Bath. We went to this place called the "Fudge Kitchen" where two very attractive British men worked there and fed us free fudge. Could life have gotten any better? I think not. We eventually met up back with our group and went to the halls which hold the setting for Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen, which was very neat to see considering I started the novel over Christmas break and got to the part where the characters go to such rooms in Bath. After looking around, we walked around some more and I tried my very first cookie from Ben's Cookies (a famous cookie chain in Europe) and let me say that it was simply DIVINE and that when it comes to saturated fats from Ben's Cookies, I will always completely surrender.

That night since we didn't have dinner at the Centre, everyone went out to dinner, and so Macy, Caitlin and I ate at this popular Italian place called "Zizzi" and it was so great! I absolutely loved it--they had the best tomatoes I have tasted in a while. Thursday was a pretty relaxing day for homework, and Jenny and I watched the newest episode of Grey's Anatomy and it was fun, for an hour, to feel like I was home again. Then I realized I'm in London, which is ten million times better than Provo.... Friday we took a group trip to Westminster Abbey where I got to see some more beautiful architecture, as well as the tombs of individuals such as Isaac Newton and Mary Queen of Scots. It was a good experience, but it would have been much better had we stayed in Westminster Abbey for an hour less than we did--I mean you can only be in a cold church surrounded by dead people for so long. Afterwards, Caitlin was so kind as to let me bum under her umbrella as we all walked to Trafalgar Square together. There, we all split up and instead of going to the National Gallery, Emma, Jenny, Caitlin, Macy, Calvin and I all went back to Borough Market for Ostrich burgers (again... they're seriously my new favorite hamburger) and goodies. Afterwards, we went to Oxford street where I finally bought an (super cute) umbrella, and may or may not have browsed around some more at Primark..... ahem.... after we got back to the Centre and had dinner, Macy and I pulled mattresses from our room down into the classroom (beginning with Jerry's) and we watched Young Victoria with a bunch of other people. It was a really good movie and it actually made me cry, which in all reality was probably the result of a number of different things, but STILL, a movie that can bring out tears in me is always a movie worth watching.

On Saturday, Macy, Cailtin and I woke up and went to Camden Market, which we started thinking was merely Hot Topic's site of origin, however, we soon found out that Camden Market is our new favorite place to go! It's basically this massive street with tons of little vendors everywhere, and I mean EVERYWHERE. There's tons of food and treats, vintage shops, jewlery stands, scarfs, mirrors, useless things you'll never use but want anyways, etc. They literally have everything! It was so much fun to go and see everything, and I got a couple things (a scarf, necklace, and fake Chanel earrings) which I ended up buying for a few pounds less than the marketed price, thanks to my oh-so-wonderful bartering skills. On our way back, of course all of the tube stations that we needed to get on or off at were closed, so we had to try to make our way back via bus. Having to resort to travel by bus for the second time has made me very grateful for the tube....especially considering that I'm finally really figuring out how to work it. After a long journey, we finally made it home, with Macy laughing the entire way because I had tripped down a couple stairs at Camden Market and had thus ended up laying on the ground amongst tons of merchandise and accented "are you OK?"'s. After getting home, we tried to go see the Woman in Black AGAIN but when we got there there were only three tickets when we needed five, so thus again our goal to see the play was postponed. So, while we couldn't see a play, we went to the next best thing--a restaurant! We went to this place called Wagamama's and while I was less than impressed with their classier imitation of Top Ramen, I really enjoyed the atmosphere (hint hint..) and may actually go back to try a new dish and allow Wagamama to redeem herself.
This would be me, at a pub in Camden, before eating what is probably my 100th crepe since I've been in Europe. Nutella + banana+ coconut.... mmmmm :)

Today was a pretty usual day... I went to church where Jen, Reesa, Calvin and I were all asked to bear our testimonies in sacrament meeting, which I enjoyed, and then I taught my first lesson in Primary. My class was composed of three kids ages 8, 9, and 10, who were pretty much the most well-behaved children I've ever met in my life--the boy is Ammon (sp?), and then the two girls are Sophie and Arena. Ammon is from Brazil and Arena is from Portugal, and while they all speak English, Portuguese is clearly their first language. But it was a good experience and I think I'm going to enjoy teaching--I lucked out and got some really great students. After my class I went to Relief Society since Primary didn't need me and sat next to one of the sister missionaries who translated the whole thing for me, which was really nice since Sacrament meeting was in Portuguese and well, let's be honest, my lesson in Primary consisted of Arena telling me all about the school systems in Portugal... as well as her allergies to nuts, eggs, and fish. I really am enjoying my ward so far and I think that it's going to be a good experience... and I think I actually might pick up on some Portuguese which I'm sure my dad will be glad to hear!

Also, today I had an amazing and much needed Sunday nap, and worked on homework for the majority of the day. We had a ridiculously delicious dinner which consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes, salad, butternut squash and bacon, and rolls....but the salad was so delicious (lettuce, strawberries, kiwis, candied cashews, and some sort of raspberry dressing) that I basically just ate a massive helping of it with some turkey and then gobbled down my slice of the amazing chocolate cake that was served. It's been a great week and I think we have some fun things planned for next week! I have a plan to try to get more sleep and ration my time better, but it's so hard because when you're here, you don't want to do homework--you just want to go out and be in London!! So hopefully my attempts at responsibility will be successful, and if not, oh well, I am making memories here that will last me a lifetime....oh how cliched London is making me... haha gotta love it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Death by chocolate...and ostrich burgers...and waffles...

One of the many things I have learned here is that keeping up with a blog is really harder than it looks. I seriously feel like I have no time here... I either need more energy, or there needs to be more hours in a day!

Well, well, well let's see what has happened in the past few couple days. Friday was incredibly fun... our whole group woke up and traveled to see the Tower of London! It was really cool, as I was walking around I felt like I was walking around Fantasyland in Disneyland, except instead of rides there were ancient towers everywhere that kept prisoners and people who got their heads chopped off. I was able to see the Crown Jewels, the Henry VIII exhibit (I've decided I really don't like that man), the White Tower, the Beauchamp Tower, Traitor's Gate, and the Tower Bridge which was so gorgeous!

A Yeoman at the London Tower!

After the London Tower, we went to Borough Market, which was one of the coolest things I've done here so far. I'm utterly obsessed with that place. It's basically this big Farmer's market-type of thing where they have tons of little stands selling food, fruits and veggies, cheeses, juices, and baked goods and you can try EVERYTHING! I got an Ostrich burger and it was probably one of the best burgers I've ever had. It was so delicious and I'm definitely going back to Borough Market to get another one as soon as I can. Also, all of us fell in love with chocolate covered cinnamon dusted hazelnuts... they are one word--amazing.
After Borough market, some of us came back and got ready, and then went out to see Chicago! It was a good play (you know... despite the raunchiness), but I'd definitely recommend the movie more. We all loved walking around London all dressed up and we had a great night....even though I lost one of my constantly-dropped gloves.

Saturday was much more relaxed than Friday. I woke up and went on a run and read a lot of Oliver Twist for my English Literature class. I'm actually really loving the book, and I have decided that if Charles Dickens were alive today, he and I would be great friends. That night, a group of us went shopping at Primark, which is basically the Forever 21 of London and probably my new favorite store of all time. After Primark, we went to Harrod's and got some desserts and then went out to dinner at a sushi bar. I had my dessert from Harrod's after dinner... it was this thing called a "whoopie" which is basically two cookies with frosting in the middle and chocolate and sprinkles and stuff on top. It was gingerbread flavor, and it was pretty mediocre. After dinner, half our group ditched Macy, Caitlin, and I and so we were left to get back to the Center by ourselves. However, we got sooo lost and took about two hours to get home... turns out there are a hand full of locals who know directions in London just about as well as I do. After the tube, three buses, a strange, drunk and desperate man, and three charming young British fellows, we finally made it back to the Center completely exhausted.

Sunday we had our first day of church in our separate wards. Three other students and I walked to our ward in the morning, which consisted of a half hour walk through Hyde Park, which was absolutely GORGEOUS. I think Hyde Park is honestly one of my favorite places in the world. I can't get over how beautiful it is. Maybe instead of going back home to the states after this is all over I'll just stay here and be a bum in Hyde Park. I wouldn't mind making friends with the swans.

Anyways, so we got to the South Kensington Ward and the entire meeting was in Portuguese... I didn't understand a word except for a talk given in English by a member of the High Council. Our Bishop is really nice though, he's half Spanish and half Japanese (weird combo, eh?), and I was assigned to be a Primary Teacher! I'm actually not excited at all about this calling considering that I'm probably the last person that should ever teach Primary and I'm the only girl in the Center who doesn't have an oh-my-gosh-so-cute attack every time a British child walks by. Haha, so we'll see how this goes....

Yesterday we woke up and I went to Shakespeare, and then after class we all went to the Globe Theater! It was really fun and really cool to see. It totally reminded me of all the movies I had seen that had Shakespearean-type of settings, so being there in real life was really awesome. We took a tour of the theater and we had this hilarious short tour guide who, to me, was the epitome of the stereotypical young British man.

I forgot to mention that on the way to the Globe, we went across the Millennium Bridge! For all those who aren't aware of this bridge, it's the bridge from Harry Potter 6 that totally gets destroyed when the Death Eaters attack. So for me, being there was so incredibly AWESOME. Also, last night a group of us went to go see Nine and it was kinda weird, but all in all pretty good.
Me in front of the bridge.... and then facing a Death Eater attack while crossing it....
Today I woke up and went on a run through Hyde Park (which is SO much less painful now that my parents mailed me medical tape for my knees), had classes, and then Caitlin and I went to go get these chocolate covered waffle things from Whitley's that we had been eyeing for a while. They were sooo delicious! The one I got was chocolate strawberry and banana. But unfortunately, Whitely's didnt have like anywhere to sit (we had sat down at a little table by this bakery but it was for customers ONLY) so we walked around forever and finally sat down on the ground by a photo booth. haha, it was great. Now, I'm about to watch Henry VI part 2 with everyone for Shakespeare and then hopefully get to bed early since tomorrow we're leaving at 7:30 am to go to Stonehenge! I'm excited! Until then, I'm out!
If I come back home ten pounds heavier, I will be able to happily say that it's been SO worth it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The German Boy, The Gelato, And The Girls...

This week has seriously just been blowing by... I have been so so so busy! Sunday we had our first day of church here in London and it was really fun to go to the Hyde Park Stake. We walked to church and as cold as it was, the park in the snow was absolutely gorgeous! At Church, each of us received individual ward assignments, and I have been assigned to the South Kensington Ward, which happens to be a Portuguese ward! I'm pretty nervous about this considering that I don't really speak Portuguese... so we'll see how that goes. I'm just happy that it's the closest ward and it starts at 11 :)
On Monday we took a group trip to the London Museum. It was pretty interesting, but we had to do a dumb worksheet on it, so that limited my enjoyment of the experience. After the museum a smaller group of us went to the closest pub and got real authentic fish n chips! Jenny and I split a massive platter and it was soooo delicious!

I love pubs, they're so cool! After lunch we went to St. Paul's Cathedral and it was absolutely gorgeous. We didn't get to climb the 500 steps up to the dome, but we did walk up 300 something steps to the Whispering Gallery and we were soooo tired when we got to the top! haha. I really loved the visit though and we want to go back when the dome is open so that we can make our way up to the top and see the supposed gorgeous view of London.

After St. Paul's, Jenny, Macy, Emma and I went to this little cafe to get some herbal tea and then we headed back home so that Jenny and I could get back for lovely kitchen crew for dinner. Tuesday we had our very first day of classes and it went pretty well! In the morning before my first class I decided to go on a jog through Hyde Park and it was soooo gorgeous! Everyone may say that it sucks to be in London when it's snowing, but I'm so grateful that I'm here and able to see Hyde Park in the snow. I absolutely fell in love with running through Hyde Park and I plan on doing it more frequently as soon as I get medical tape for my bad knees so that I'm not in extreme pain after I run :) Anyways, back to classes...I'm probably the most excited for my two English classes, however, after much controversy and debate, I really think I'm going to enjoy my political science class as well. Tuesday night a group of us decided to randomly try to go see The Lady in Black which is a play that is supposed to be really scary--like, scary enough where people in the theater are screaming and all that jazz--however, we got to the theater TWO MINUTES late and missed it! We were all a little bummed, but we had a very entertaining tube ride on the way there and we were able to do some shopping at the little souveneir shops and get some delicious gelato. Oh, and we saw Big Ben lit up at night and it was absolutely beautiful! It was such a fun night!
Last night we had another school day and at night we made a considerable effort to make it Ben's Cookies, however, again, we got there and they had closed! So we went to McDonald's for goodies... haha. Today was a very busy day of classes and I am absolutely exhausted! But good news: I'm officially off kitchen duty for a LONG time! Hallelujah!!

Me loving London and my home here on Palace Court :)