Saturday, January 30, 2010

Coffee, Natural History Museum, and a hamburger

I woke up this morning at about 9:30. After my shower and basic morning necessities, I went and grabbed a coffee at the Whole Foods by us. I took the coffee and went and sat in a comfy chair that they have set up by a set of windows that look out onto Kensington High Street/Church Street/St. Mary Abbot's Church. I read the Guardian newspaper, including an article about taking the Crescent Train (the one I take to get down to Clemson when I'm home) to New Orleans and then over to LA. Then on the way back I grabbed the Weekend Edition of the Financial Times (at a cost of 2.50 GBP), recommended by a teacher and interesting to look over.

After that me and my roommate checked out the Natural History Museum, which was pretty neat. It's a huge place, and was packed with people, so we didn't see a ton of it, but we can go back, it's right down the road. Side note, on the way there I saw a really nice Lamborghini, orange with a white stripe down the middle. I looked it up later, and it was the Lamborghini Gallardo LP 550-2 Valentino Balboni, a great looking car if I do say so myself. But here's a picture of the main entrance room for the Museum:

Tonight I went to dinner with my roommate and this girl who lives on the floor above. We went to a hamburger place called Byron's. It was very good.

A few things I should note about London. People here don't walk as fast as I thought they would. But then I walk pretty fast. Also, I learned a few weeks ago, but forgot to put up here, the buses don't wait for you to get a seat and then go, they just go. I got to the top of the stairs and nearly fell backward when the bus started going, a week or two ago. I feel like there are a few more lessons I've learned, but now I can't remember them.

So, that was my Saturday, along with homework and other non exciting things.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Banqueting House

I had a really difficult time falling asleep last night. In the end I was out probably around 3:30, and then got up about 9. But, still had a relatively successful day.

On the schedule for today was a visit to the Banqueting House. They started building it in 1619 (I looked most of this up on Wikipedia, I forgot the stuff that was on the video we watched), and has had various renovations since then. The second floor is a large room, with an amazing painted ceiling. The room is still used today for banquets.

It was attached to a palace that burned down. Now, it is located very close to the Ministry of Defence building, a very intimidating building, if there is such a thing.

After that, it didn't take very long to get through the building once we (I went with three other people) found the place, we went to lunch around Piccadilly Circus. Well, we tried to find a place to have lunch. Eventually we landed at Chinese place, and did take out. It was ok food, but I was just glad to have something to eat.

Tomorrow is probably going to mostly be work, as next weekend is the planned trip to Paris. We got our itineraries, and our room assignments. Should be fun.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


I just got back from a little bit of walking. There are some really great streets around here, with large townhouses on either side of the road in most cases. The other day I walked from the dorm to around the Notting Hill Tube Station (yes Notting Hill like the movie) which when I looked it up was about .75 miles. Gets me that last bit of energy for the day, and I get to see some more of Kensington.

Last Sunday I went to Westminster Cathedral, which is the largest Catholic Church in London. It was big, obviously, but there were some differences in the Mass. During one I went to (they have six Masses on Sunday, and then a Saturday vigil) they sung some of the parts in Latin, so it was hard to keep participating. The Cathedral has a full-time, paid, choir, which was pretty cool.
There's more on their website: Westminster Cathedral

Tomorrow I am going to some palace, not sure which one it was, but I'll find out tomorrow. And then next weekend is Paris! Although I have a presentation (bad decision to sign up for that one) the day after, so I'll have some work to do this weekend.

Hope everyone's doing well.

London Tube Map

Map of London Tube stops

Friday, January 22, 2010

Classes, a club, and some history

Classes have started, things are getting underway, but it's still a little wild to think that right now I'm in London. I will say it's nice not to be jet lagged anymore.

Last night I went to a club for the first time in my life. I didn't really do much there: hung out with some people at a table that usually costs an inordinate amount of money but was somehow paid for by the people here who planned the "start of term party," talked to some people, and walked around the place. I'm glad I went, but I came back and watched the first period of the Capitals v Penguins game, glad we won that.
Here's a picture of said club:

Today I saw the Tower of London, which was much bigger than I seemed to visualize it as from the outside (it's probably just me but it didn't look huge from the outside). For all you history people reading this (all 1.75 of you) someday you should visit this place, it's packed full of history and I know I won't do it justice if I try and describe it. I do have some pictures up on Facebook.

One of the things that has struck me about London is that there is so much history, and historical architecture, located right around modern architecture. There's a fantastic contrast between old and new, and in many places a great blend of the two. A place like New York City compared to here it doesn't have a whole lot of history. It doesn't have a 2000 year old wall left over from the Romans, located right next to a Tube stop. Even Washington, DC, with it's history, can't measure up. American can't either, unless of course we talk about the Native Americans. According to Wikipedia Jamestown was started in 1607. Comparatively, it says that the White Tower, the oldest part of the fort, was built in 1078, and the Crown Jewels have been kept within the fort since 1303. That's a long time. And yet you can look across the Thames, as well as in the other direction, and see glass-clad buildings that you would expect in a very modern city.

Of course there's always some complaints. The rain, the tiny amount of space in my room and in the shower, the amount of noise in the mornings, all that isn't fun. But it's worth it.

And really I owe a lot of people thanks for getting me here. Warning, this might be a bit sentimental. Obviously the people on the top of my thank you list has to be my parents, because I wouldn't be here in London without their help in so many ways, nor would I be the person I am. My brother and sister, for not hindering me in coming over here, and of course for being great people. The Moss grandparents, who have been a huge part of my life. Of course the Lyons grandparents, and the rest of my family like Aunt Mary Beth and Uncle Charles and all those other great people. And then there's my neighbors, I mean I've lived near them for 15 years, how can my life not have been affected by them (definitely in a positive manner on the whole). The other friends I've had throughout my life, even somehow staying friends going to different schools. My friends at Clemson, who, over the space of maybe a year and a half, have already had an impact on my life. This isn't meant to sound selfish, but the list would be long and I don't wanna leave any of my friends out, so we'll leave it at that, you know who you are, even if you aren't reading this. And if I've missed anyone, I'm really sorry and didn't mean to, let me know if I did. So thanks everyone. Now, anyone wanna get me a job this summer??

Monday, January 18, 2010

First week is almost done

So I've almost gotten through (maybe not the best term, it sounds like it's not been fun) a full week here. I think I'm finally over the jet lag, I'm not in a haze now, which is a good thing.

Yesterday I saw the Chelsea Football Stadium (real football):

It was awesome. They have some great players there: Terry, Lampard, and Drogba. The first two have massage chairs reserved for them in the locker room.

Later I went on a picnic in the Kensington Gardens, not really gardens but more of a park:

I even went on a Jack the Ripper tour Friday night, which I found pretty interesting. Of course at one part, we made a turn into a small, dark alleyway, and some kid pops out of a door there, completely scaring me.

We did a boat tour Friday night (more of a booze cruise, but I managed to have fun and grab some pictures, although obviously not this one):

Today is the first day of classes, and thankfully my 9 am teacher couldn't be here today, so I got to sleep in a little. Which reminds me I went to church yesterday, and it felt just like home. Although the church itself is bigger:

To get to all of the pictures here's a link to the Facebook albums I've uploaded so far:

Thanks for reading everyone. Any comments, suggestions, offers of money or free trips can go below this.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm writing this at about 7:45 in the morning. I woke up about 5:45 and have slept on and off since then. Against the advice my mom gave me before I left, I laid down a few times yesterday, and so I think that threw my sleep off. Our room is also very warm, and I don’t think we can turn down the heat. We’ve left a window open, which has helped, but that also lets noise in.

Most of the day yesterday went to getting orientated (is that a word?).

I went on a walking tour of the area I'm in, Kensington. Apparently the homes across the street are really really expensive. I also found out that TS Eliot lived very close to here, and apparently Dustin Hoffman has a place close by. The number of nice cars I spotted around here is just crazy: most people in this neighborhood seem to drive either a Mercedes or BMW, with a few Porsche's thrown in there. Seriously, it seems like every other car (not counting cabs) is one of those makes. I also saw a Ferrari and a Rolls-Royce Phantom, and someone pointed out an old Rolls-Royce to me.

We stopped in St. Mary Abbot's Church, which I believe the lady said was built for William and Mary originally, when they built the palace here. The lady also pointed out the Catholic Church near here (I had found one online, but this is closer I think). It’s actually a Carmelite church, and I think the Carmelites is an order of nuns.

At the end of the tour we went to an orientation meeting

Today on the agenda is meeting with the class advisor (actually I just did that, I'm posting this later than I wrote most of it), going on a bus tour of London, and getting some supplies. I woke up this morning and saw snow (not much of it, but it was still there) on the ground, so we’ll see if London still panics even with the amount of snow they’ve had these past few weeks.

Monday, January 4, 2010

A week to go

I leave in a week. 1 Week. 7 days. And I'm not ready. But that's ok, cause I don't think I'll ever really be ready for study abroad, it's just gonna happen. I've started setting aside stuff that I'm bringing. I don't know how I'm gonna fit all the clothes in, even while paying for a second piece of luggage. I now have a bigger backpack for like weekend trips, my parents got me and my brother one for Christmas (he's going to Germany for a few days next summer). We'll see if I use it, I hope I will.
Anyways, just a few more days. We have some cool orientation stuff, according to the sheet they sent with the Pre-Departure Package. Stuff like touring the Chelsea soccer stadium and a boat tour. There are definitely things to look get excited about. Like me only having to take three classes, that's still considered full time by them. This is partially nice because hopefully I can see more of London, but also because I'll be taking 300 and 400 level classes over there, which is another thing I'm slightly worried about. But, we'll figure all that out when I get over there. For now I have to figure out what I'm bringing (should I bring sheets, a towel...), so a few decisions for me to make.
I'm going though, and that's the important part.