Monday, February 22, 2010

A Step Inside the Brain

Before I start an analytical rant concerning the occurrences of Sunday and Monday, let me briefly describe my Saturday adventures. Saturday was a great day. The sun was shining and Emma, Jenny and I went to the Wallace Collection to have breakfast, or rather, brunch. It was a very regal building and the cafe was in a greenhouse looking type of building and it was so cute! I got an omelette and pear juice and it was delicious. After, we looked around at the art, and because it was Louis XV's 300th birthday, there were all sorts of little activities going of them being 18th century music and dancing! We all got to learn a dance like the one you see in Pride and Prejudice and it was so much fun and I laughed my heart out. They even had live musicians dressed up in costume and it just made you feel like you were in a Jane Austen novel. I loved it! After, we went to Portabello Road and got cupcakes at Hummingbird bakery and then Emma and I ventured off to find a Mexican place called "Tortilla" and to meet up with Caitlin. It was a laid back type of place, so it wasnt a full on restaurant--more like Baja Fresh atmosphere, but it was absolutely delicious and I loved the chicken burrito I got! After dinner, Emma Caitlin and I tried to go see Legally Blonde the Musical, but Elle was being played by the understudy so we postponed seeing the show until the notably excellent main cast member would be acting. Instead, we got Frog and then came home, where I was able to get some homework done and get to bed at a reasonable hour. Like I said, great day.

While Saturday was a great day, these past few days have been days which have truly made me think.

Sunday we had a fireside by my Stake President, President Phillips. I was conducting the meeting and I was horrified when I got up to introduce President Phillips and totally blanked on his name. I'm usually pretty good with crowds and public speaking, but I absolutely forgot his last name! I was so embarrassed. Luckily, President Phillips message totally compensated for my failed introduction. He spoke about really coming to terms with knowing oneself, knowing Christ, and knowing God. It was really uplifting and I felt the spirit so strongly. Maybe it's because this past year I have gone through experiences which have caused me to really question who I am and what I believe in and where I have often at times tried to be someone that I'm not. However, through my ups and downs I feel like I am coming to not only know who I am, but to truly love the person that I am coming to be.

For example:
1. I have come to know and accept that I am not the traditional girl that people will ever refer to as "sweet." While I always try to be nice to everyone I come into contact with, I do not want to be remembered for being nice. I will stand up for what I believe in--no matter if its my religion or if its that Harry Potter is a valuable piece of literature or if its simply that cats are a thousand times better than dogs--I will speak my beliefs and stand behind them, even if it means potentially offending people or if it means completely going against the status quo. I don't want to be remembered as the girl who was nice--I want to be remembered as the one girl who defied convention and was passionate. I want to be remembered as the girl who was strong.

2. I like being alone. I need only a handful of people in my life at one time, because I enjoy simply being alone. Part of this comes from the realization I've had that the only person you can truly depend on is yourself, and that if you want happiness you can't wait for others to bring it to you--you have to go get it for yourself. The other half stems from the fact that I'm very independent and on the weekends there will more than often be days where I would much rather stay at home and work on a project or just get take out and watch a movie by myself than go hang out with a bunch of people or go to a party. Sometimes people find this sad or think it makes me sad, but the world should know it makes me incredibly happy and brings me peace. And I'm finally confident enough to admit that and accept it.

3. I believe that love exists. Despite all odds, I really do. And I am the type of person who picks a few individuals (the remaining population I'm very likely to always be irritated with) and loves them with all my heart. When I love--in any form of love, I put everything in it and expect the same in return.

In one of our English classes, Susan was telling us to truly figure out who we are, and then to find someone who will not try to change you, but who will accept you the way that you are and love you for that. I loved that because it's so true. There are certain things you should change about yourself (in terms of improving yourself) and then there are certain things you shouldn't. I love being so cut off from the world back home here because it's helping me to find my faults and to help me accept and embrace my strengths. As President Phillips said, as you come to know Christ and God, you will come to know yourself--this is something I'm trying never to forget.

Monday, Caitlin and I went back to Tortilla for lunch and then went to TopShop to do some shopping. It was very fun except for the whole part where Caitlin left me at the store because she couldnt find me and I stayed in the store looking for her for an hour before I figured she left me and then went back to the center. I got some very cute things though which I'm extremely excited about. That night, we went to go see the movie Valentine's Day and on the way there I may or may not have eaten two waffles for dinner. The movie was really funny, but it really made me think.

1. In the movie, there was a VERY forced gay relationship between two blatantly straight actors, and little comments were made everywhere about being gay, one of which was Jamie Foxx saying to the gay character, "I support you all the way." Totally a political statement, which I found funny. The movie was very liberal in stuff like that, and I was just thinking how interesting society is coming to be. If prop 8 had never gone down, there wouldn't have been as many gay relationships in the media as there now are. Liberals are totally trying to use the media--especially popular media aimed at teenagers like chick flicks and Grey's Anatomy--to send a message. A very strong one at that. Also, there was a little comment by Anne Hathaway about not being able to afford health care, which made me roll my eyes because the comment about health care was so forced. Basically, it was a very liberal movie.

2. I think as a whole, the movie presented marriage as very pessimistic. There are three marriages in the film. One is Patrick Dempsey and his wife and he is cheating on her with another woman. The second marriage is between an old couple, and its revealed later that at one point in the marriage, the wife had cheated on her husband. The third marriage is George Lopez's marriage, however, you never meet his wife or really see him interacting in his marriage like the other characters and their significant others. George Lopez's character is simply the main character's best friend who provides comic relief. His well working marriage is more like background information. I just found this portrayal of marriage to be interesting... I know that marriage must be difficult, but I think it would be nice of society to believe in the idea of a marriage and love where neither individual is cheating on the other. In a world where the divorce rate goes higher and higher, it would be nice to have a little optimism for a change.

3. Anne Hathaway is a "phone adult entertainer" and her and her boyfriend have a dispute about it where in the end he does the whole "I'll-love-you-no-matter-what-you-do-with-your-life" type of charade. Again, here was the movie blatantly endorsing an issue--namely, exchanging sex for money. According to Valentine's Day, we live in hard times and therefore any means to get money is OK, even if it means selling your morals and in certain cases--your body! Come on society, where are your values and what are you telling your inhabitants to believe?

Good part of the movie however: an abundance of attractive, attractive men.

While I did really enjoy the movie (it successfully made me laugh multiple times) I was just definitely noticing the subtle change in film that is occurring and where movies like Valentine's Day are taking the film industry. Slowly, as a society, we indeed are falling farther and farther downward. It's very upsetting at times, and I'm concerned for the future world that my youngest sister and that eventually my children will be growing up in. So many people I know are falling for the pranks of society and are drastically falling from the people they once were and abandoning what they once believed in. In modern times, strength has never been such an important quality to possess. As Arthur Weasley said in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, "Times like these, dark times, they do funny things to people. They can tear them apart. "

And people wonder why I'm obsessed with Harry Potter...

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Boy Who Lived

I'm far too exhausted for my own good. This whole week seems like its just been homework, sickness, and a lack of sleep. Today I turned in two essays for my political science class, a major paper for my shakespeare class, and then in my english literature class we finished our unit on Northanger Abbey and had a quiz on it. I miraculously pulled everything off and now just have to wait for my grades... Today I woke up and was incredibly thrilled to discover that Terri had made my new favorite breakfast in the world--Amish Oatmeal! I had so much of it, it was amazing. I could eat that stuff every day. After breakfast, we had classes and then immediately following classes we went off to observe a Muslim Mosk. I'm not going to lie--I was incredibly bored the whole time. I couldn't hear our guide half the time and I was tired and incredibly incredibly hungry since I hadn't really had time to eat since breakfast. We were there for 2 and a half hours, and I would have been pleased if we had stayed for an hour, max. I did get to observe one of the prayers, which was interesting, but all in all I really did not enjoy my experience. Plus, I felt as if our guide censored some of his answers when we asked him particular questions--especially about Islamic marriage. Thankfully, however, we were able to finish off our outing today with a trip to Giraffe, where I got a delicious bowl of soup and a hamburger. I'm going to have great left overs on Sunday! Of course, we followed dinner with a Ben's Cookie, which never fails to disappoint me, and then on our way back, I got separated from our group, but nevertheless made my way safely back to Palace Court.

Yesterday, we traveled to Middle Temple which was built by the Knights Templar and is about 500 years old. Our tour guide was a very frail woman who spoke with very little fluctuation in her tone and who was very hard to hear, so I can't say I learned too much about Middle Temple. I do plan to look it up online though, since we had a fantastic lunch there. Apparently, lunch at Middle Temple is where all the lawyers in the area swarm to, so I did feel kind of cool being able to eat with all of these prestigous people around me--especially since I'm an aspiring lawyer myself. Our meal was very fancy and we had some weird mushroom and tomato tart for an appetizer which I didnt like, (however we had really delicious rolls just prior to the tart being served), and then for our main course we had really good pork, mashed potatoes, and green beans. Dessert was an apple crisp and then we had some lovely herbal tea to finish it off with. It was a really fun experience and it made me want to re-read the DaVinci Code, since that book deals a lot with the Knights Templar. After Middle Temple, we had to make our way over to Charles Dickens's house, however, since we made a quick trip to Starbucks, we had little time to arrive promptly for our "tour," so instead of walking (which would have caused us to be probably half an hour late), we took a taxi! It was really really fun and if I could I would travel by taxi everywhere... I love them. And, since there were five of us and the fare was about 5 pounds, it only cost us about a pound each! It was great! So we got to Charles Dickens's house on time, however our "tour" was just us walking around the house and watching a little video. I really enjoyed seeing the house though because I really love Charles Dickens. I even bought a copy of A Tale of Two Cities there that I plan to start reading on the plane or when I get home! After seeing the house, we took a few pictures, and then headed back home for the night to work on homework.
Middle Temple:

me in front of Charles Dickens's door!

Wednesday was one of my top three favorite days here so far. We had a day trip and first we traveled to Blenheim Palace--which is where the Duke stays. It was a gorgeous setting, especially because it was kind of misty outside as we arrived. After we got a tour of the palace, Caitlin, Emma, Macy and I caught a golf cart to "Pleasure Gardens," which was this cute little garden type of thing that had a butterfly house, a maze, a little playground, and a cafe in it. I did NOT go into the butterfly house because I went into one when I was like 14 and have been traumatized ever since (I do not like any type of bug), however, I did go into a little bit of the maze. After Blenheim, we got back onto the bus and had our lunches, and not before long we arrived in Oxford! Oxford is one of new favorite cities in England--there were so many young attractive college boys EVERYWHERE. It had a very young vibe about it and it was the type of city where the streets are cobblestone roads and pedestrians walk on the street just as often as they walk on the sidewalk. We went into the covered market there where we went to the original Ben's Cookies and got Moo Moo's shakes (I got a raspberry white chocolate cheesecake and it was so yummy!). After getting some nice Oxford apparel, I went and experienced one of the best things that has ever happened to me in my entire life experience. I VISITED THE SITE WHERE THE HARRY POTTER MOVIES WERE FILMED--CHRIST CHURCH COLLEGE AKA THE REAL LIFE HOGWARTS! As an avid Harry Potter fan and someone who knows the movies by heart, saying that I was excited is an extreme understatement. We got to walk around and see the grounds and it was so thrilling to be able to recognize scenes from the movies! The best part of the entire experience was entering the Great Hall from the movies and being able to have high tea (or rather, high hot chocolate) in the actual room where the Hogwarts students eat in the movies. It. was. amazing. I couldnt believe that I had sat in the actual room where the entire cast had been and that Daniel Radcliffe could very easily have sat in the same exact chair I had sat in. Amazing! We had delicious hot chocolate and little finger sandwiches, I recreated scenes from the movies and casted spells, and I loved every second of it. After leaving the Great Hall, we got back onto the bus and I slept the entire way home. Wednesday was one of those days that I will remember for the rest of my life.
Hogwarts :)
luckily I had my wand with me so I could practice Wigardium Leviosa on my saucer...

this is where Dumbledore gives his start of term speech, as displayed by my recreation of the scene
this is where Malfoy tells Harry to join him and his friends and to not go making friends with the "wrong sort of wizards."thanks to Kellen for helping me recreate the scene.

Since Valentine's Day was on Sunday and everyone was distracted with tests to study for and exhaustion from getting home from our day trips, we celebrated Valentine's Day on Monday! That night, we all got all dolled up in pink and red and everyone in the Centre had a party! It was so much fun, we all played the game where you have a name on your back and you have to ask your peers yes or no questions to try to figure out who you are, and then find your match. I ended up being Dr. Macfarlane, one of the professors here, and Susan ended up being Sister Macfarlane! Haha it was so funny. After the game we went down into the servery and decorated sugar cookies! They were home made cookies and they were sooo delicious! It was definitely a great Valentine's Day and I felt a lot of love for the great people I have met here.

below is me and all of my roommates! Dorm 4 is the best!

I really do live at Hogwarts--this place is magical.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ciao Bella!

I'm back from Rome! (And yes, doing whatever I can to put off the immense pile of homework I have lurking on my to-do list...) How was Rome, you ask? Well, let me take you from the beginning...

It was 10 o clock and we had just gotten back from getting kebabs. And no, I don't mean shishkebabs... just regular old lebanese kebabs and we all thought they were delicious. Our stomachs were full, we were all clean and showered, and so before we knew it the time had come to leave for the airport. Given that our flight departed at 6AM that next morning, we weren't planning on leaving for the airport until about 2:30 AM, however, one of our professors informed us that Stansted airport can be extremely unreliable and that it would be best to get there as early as possible. Plus, the tube closes at midnight. So, we left at 10pm and got all settled in at the airport by midnight. We sang the Harry Potter puppet pals song on the Stansted Express and all got a little delirious in the airport with no sleep whatsoever (this may come as a shock, but its not the easiest to fall asleep on freezing hard tile in the middle of an airport without a pillow), but lo and behold we finally made it onto our airplane to Rome. I have to be honest, the flight over to Rome was one of the worst flying experiences I've had and I don't think I'll be flying via RyanAir again. I was so exhausted and so excited to sleep on the plane... so when I got all settled in my window seat and they turned the lights off, it felt like heaven. Unfortunately, this lasted for about five minutes before I was dropped down to hell. They turned all of the lights on and RyanAir does this loud intercom system with recordings advertising all sorts of food and giveaway prizes. At one point I remember hearing a really loud telephone ringing in one of the recordings that was extremely obnoxious. It felt like a cruise line where they had to try to keep us entertained and fed! In short, it was horrible, and the seats didnt recline and my legs were cramped into a very small space. I am very grateful for the wonderful planes I ride in back home now... Delta, I miss and love you.

leaving Queensway tube station!
Hogwarts---er, I mean Stansted--Express
Caitlin and I on the plane before taking off for Rome!

Luckily, our flight landed about 2 and a half hours later in Rome! After getting off the plane and purchasing our 3 day metro passes, we caught a bus that took us to the Trevi Fountain and our hotel. Our hotel was called the Hotel Trevi and it was literally right next to the Trevi Fountain. I loved it. We made wishes in the Trevi Fountain and then we went to our first Italian restaurant. I got the classic spaghetti and it was so delicious! It was definitely the best spaghetti sauce I had ever had... so much flavor! Mmm delicious! Afterwards, we got gelato and did a little bit of shopping at the Via Del Corso which is basically the Oxford Street of Rome. It took us up to the Piazza del Popolo where there was some really big horse show going on. It was kinda weird... So we took pictures, got bombarded by tons of little men trying to sell roses, I climbed on top of a statue, and then we headed on to the Spanish Steps. The Spanish Steps were really pretty cause everything was lit up because it was night time. At the bottom, there were carnival street performers (which we had actually been seeing everywhere) providing entertainment for the people. It was such a great atmosphere and it really made you want to "be Italian!" which is probably why we spoke in Italian accents half the time. At the top of the steps we made our way into the massive chapel at the top which was some sort of French Catholic sect. I walked in for a little bit to listen to the service and the songs being sung in Latin. It was cool, but I preferred being outside and looking out on the beautiful city. Here in Europe, I have been able to see tons of different religions and cathedrals, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to do so--not only because it has helped me widen my horizons in terms of world religions, but because it has helped me to become even more grateful for my own religion and it has really strengthened my testimony that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the only true church on the face of the earth.
Even though these men may look really cool, do not be a dumb tourist like me and take pictures with them. They will be scary and demand three euros from you.
Spanish Steps
When it got a little later, we followed Caitlin's directions and found this cute little Italian restaurant called, "La Bruschetta." It was so delicious! I got a Margherita pizza and I loved it! Our waiter there was a man named Bonafacce and he was so friendly and he absolutely LOVED us... he kept on saying how women are so amazing and how they are smart while men are just simply stupid. From the moment I heard him say all that, I knew I would love him... and I did, even though he charged us for each slice of bread that we ate. But hey, that's Italia. After dinner we made our way back to the hotel since we were absolutely exhausted (I can say thank you to Diet Coke for keeping me awake for as long as I was) and on the way we got some more gelato and it was so so so yummy and helped me sleep that much better...not that falling asleep that night was difficult in any way shape or form... I knocked out, eager to be energized for the next day.

The next morning we woke up at 7AM to get ready and have breakfast. Our hotel provided breakfast for us which was wonderful and it was on the top floor with a nice window to look out through. Unfortunately, however, what we saw when we looked out the window was rain (we thought Rome would have been a nice escape from the classic London rain). But, we dealt with it and headed off to Vatican City. We walked out into St. Peter's Square and then made our way to St. Peter's Basilica. It took me a while to realize that the St. Peter that the Catholics exalted was Peter the Apostle. I felt so dumb for not realizing this instantly, but when I found out who it was I was so happy that I had taken my New Testament class last semester so that I was able to know some of the background for why the Catholics stress such importance on Peter. The basilica was very beautiful and there were statues of popes everywhere. The most interesting thing to me was the golden throne at the far end of the basilica, which Emma told me is where the Catholics believe Christ will return to sit at the Second Coming. After the basilica we went to the Sistine Chapel, and unfortunately on our walk there it started pouring snowing!! Now, this wasn't any regular snow, it was coming down at the speed that pouring rain comes down at. As we were in line for the museum that leads into the Sistine Chapel, I had to shake off my umbrella every so often because it would get so heavy from the snow that piled on top of it! Luckily, Jenny stayed positive and entertained me by playing 20 questions and after we all developed completely frozen feet, we arrived into the warmth of the museum. We got to see loads of paintings and tapestries, but the highlight was the Sistine Chapel. I loved seeing Michaelangelo's famous painting of God and Adam reaching towards each other. Definitely very cool. Well, since we had lost some members of our group, we decided to wait in the Sistine Chapel on a bench for them to catch up to us... which, inevitably caused us to fall asleep. After what was probably a half hour or so, we woke up, headed to the exit, and found Jenny. We never found Jake... we looked for a while, but we eventually got hungry so we left and got the most amazing pizza sandwiches I have ever had in my life! (By pizza sandwiches I mean a large square piece of pizza that they fold in half.)
Breakfast at the hotel
St. Peter's Square
awkward picture of me in the Basilica
stupid stupid snow.
pizza sandwiches! yum!
After lunch, we traveled on over to the Pantheon which was amazing. It was massive and it was just so cool to see a building that had been standing for such a long time. We went inside and I saw the tomb of the artist Raphael and from the circle at the top of the Pantheon rain fell inside! We had all been wondering what happens when it rains... if the Pantheon floods or not, and we were able to find out for ourselves that the rain does indeed fall down inside the Pantheon, however, there is a roped off section for the water to fall onto, and people brush the water away every so often. After the Pantheon, we got some delicious gelato and then freezing, we made our way back to the hotel to meet up with the lost Jake. After warming up, we went back out for dinner at this restaurant that was supposed to be truly authentic Roman food. It took us about an hour to get there due to some confusion with the map, however, before long we made it to the restaurant after randomly running into Circus Maximus (where the Roman's had chariot races and such... kind of a sports track). The restaurant we ate at had a very Italian atmosphere, however, the food selection was limited and our waiter was very unfriendly. Regardless, I really enjoyed the pasta I ordered and afterwards I got the best gelato I had eaten in my entire experience in Rome. Exhausted, we walked back to the Hotel Trevi and fell asleep in preparation for our final day in Rome.
Saturday we woke up and checked out of our hotel. We had a much more relaxed day with less on our itinerary, so we were able to look at a lot of shops and take more time to see everything around us. We went to the Colloseum first and took a tour so that we would be able to know the significance of the place we were visiting. Did you know...

1. The Colloseum is simply a nickname. It's really called Amphitheater Flavium.
2. The entertainment provided at the Colloseum was largely comprised of killing. In the morning they did animal killings, in the mid-afternoon they showed human executions, and then in the late afternoon the gladiators came out and fought (where death also occasionally occurred--1/6 gladiators died).
3. The Romans came up with what we now refer to as stadium seating. The Colloseum is where our modern seating and exit system in sports arenas comes from.
4. Animals from different countries and even continents crossed paths in the Colloseum. The Romans would combine all sorts of different animals--for example, there are records in the Colloseum showing evidence of a fight between a bear and an elephant.

Pretty interesting, eh? I really enjoyed the Colloseum, but mostly because at the top we were able to enjoy the gorgeous sun which had been hiding from us for so long. Standing at the top of the grand Colloseum with the sun shining down on my face was such a surreal moment. Everything was gorgeous and I felt beauty, wonder, and gratitude. I loved it--and my skin loved it too! It had been a while since I had gotten a substantial amount of Vitamin D. After the Colloseum we got more pizza sandwiches and gelato (my 2nd favorite), and then Caitlin, Jake, and I walked around and took pictures of the Forum. Before long, we had to make our way over to the metro station which would take us to a bus that would in turn return us to the airport. After a two hour flight where I slept the whole time, we arrived back in London. While I loved Rome, it was so good to be home. London is truly where my heart is.
General things I learned from Rome:
1. Do not assume that any strangers you meet are ever on your side. Most people are out to make money in some way shape or form. Always ask questions before diving in to take a picture with someone, or before eating a piece of bread from a basket. You can never ask too many questions.
2. Always come prepared. Thanks to the lovely Caitlin, our itinerary and directions were all completely planned out and it really reduced a lot of stress and we were able to accomplish more things than I think we would have been able to had Cailtin not prepared everything for us ahead of time.
3. I am exactly like my Mom. I found myself doing so many things that she normally does in Rome (including ordering the same types of foods and buying the same types of souvenirs) and have learned so many practical things from her, like smuggling extra food into my purse from breakfast (or even from breakfasts here in the Center--I have a tendency to take extra food and put it in my food box in the cupboard, and everyone jokes about how I have a food storage. But hey, I'm the one who never goes hungry or runs out of anything!). And, I have thoroughly developed her identical obsession with tourist shops and gift shops. Every time we go anywhere, my friends will get annoyed at the end because they'll know that we will have to spend time going into the gift shop so that I can scope everything out. But hey, I say it's all part of the experience.
4. I wish I was more like my dad. My dad has the amazing capability of having everyone like him no matter where he goes. He is just the friendliest guy and can speak with foreign people and find out information from them so easily. When I try to ask people questions, I just end up annoying them or making them angry.
5. Life is so much easier when you have blue eyes. If I couldn't rely on my rhetoric to get the price of a bracelet down a few euros, I could definitely count on the foreign color of my eyes to get the job done.

Rome, you did me well. I hope to cross paths again with you again some day.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

A Prelude to One of the Greatest Weeks Ever

The sun decided to come out of hibernation these past couple days (with an emphasis on yesterday in particular). Friday, we got up and made our way on over to the Banqueting Halls where the royals used to have their banquets (shocker) and where Charles II was beheaded. Now, let me first say that this day was pretty disorganized. First, we get to the banqueting halls and turns out that because of a military ball the night before, the halls werent going to be available for viewing for another hour. SO, we sat in McDonalds and talked until it was time for us to go on inside. It was basically a large room with a painted ceiling... pretty to look at for like 15 minutes maybe? Well they gave us an hour, so we basically sat and chatted the whole time. Afterwards, we had an hour to get lunch and then headed off to the British Museum. We didn't really know where anyone was or what we were supposed to be doing--the group kind of dissolved. So Emma, Macy, Caitlin and I stood independent and carried on. The British Museum was by far my favorite museum that I may have ever been to. It's full of all of these amazing Egyptian and Roman artifacts and I found them to be all so cool! I definitely want to go back some time soon.

ceiling in the Banqueting Hall
the British Museum

After the British museum, we ventured off to Primark to see if we could find a new outfit for the dance that night. It didn't take long for us to get overwhelmed by the store and leave without any purchases. After a very delicious meatloaf dinner, I took a nap and then got ready for the Hyde Park YSA stake dance! It was actually really fun... it was dress to impress so I had fun getting all dolled up with my friends. The dance itself was TINY! There were probably 80 people there tops, half of which were our people. It was really fun nonetheless, and I even got to meet a few young British men ;)

Saturday we woke up and then Jenny, Macy, Emma, Caitlin and I went off to Picadilly Circus to get tickets for Phantom of the Opera on Monday! It was a gorgeous day because the sun was out, so we didn't even mind getting lost--especially because our lack of direction led us to Candy Cakes! (a fondant-ed muffin store that tricks its customers into thinking it sells cupcakes.) So Jenny and I each got a Candy Cake to try and I got a lemon poppyseed one and it was absolutely delicious! The food here never ceases to disappoint me.
Anyways, so we finally made it to Her Royal Majesty's Theater (Caitlin mentioned how cool it feels asking people, "excuse me do you know where her royal majesty's theater is?") and got great tickets for Phantom and we're all so excited to see it! After, we looked around in a really awesome British souvenir shop and these two Italian men ran up to us on the streets and asked us all to take a picture with them! haha it was really weird but kind of funny (if my sisters were here it would have very much been an "umm!!??" moment). Soon enough, we hopped onto the tube and made our way over to the London Eye! Right when we were arriving the sun was just beginning to go down and everything was so gorgeous. I thought I was going to be terrified of the London Eye cause I HATE ferris wheels, but I loved it! It was one of my favorite things that I've done here so far--and the fact that we were on it during sunset made the experience just that much better. When we were at the top Jenny and I talked about how amazing it is that we're here. It was one of those moments where I looked around at the gorgeous city that I'm living in and just felt absolutely breathless. For a moment, I shed my cynical and sarcastic shell and felt such a great love for the world and for everything in it. The experience was just so surreal. I have completely fallen in love with this place and I never want to leave!

us outside of Cool Britannia with one of the traditional British Men that worked there!
this would be me on the London eye.

After the eye, we made our way over to a restaurant called Pizza on the Park, a restaurant that my London Top 10 book (thanks Lauren) had recommended. It was a cute little restaurant and we all got really yummy Italian food and had a great time! Afterwards, I went to go meet up with my second cousins who live here in London and Caitlin was so kind as to not leave me alone and came with me. So, we waited for a little bit and then figured they weren't gonna make it and so we went into Harrod's and explored and then as they were closing we quickly ran into the chocolate hall and bought ourselves some pre-Valentines day chocolates. I have never gotten chocolate at Harrod's yet and I am yet to eat mine. I'm going to see if I can wait til Valentine's Day to eat them, but in all reality, I give myself two days.
Today I had a great Fast Sunday and came home and was very productive and did NOT take a nap--which is a first! I finished my Oliver paper, had a great dinner, got a great compliment by my most favorite Susan, and am now hanging out with my roommates! This next week is going to be amazing... Phantom on Monday and then Rome early Thursday morning! I'm so excited! I can't wait to be in Italy for the first time in my life...but I can't get ahead of myself! I have a quiz and a test before I leave so I've got to keep myself focused for just a few more days, and then I'm free! Can't wait :)