Sunday, July 14, 2013


So I fell a bit behind on my blog. Today I got home from Church and have been feeling a little sick all day. A combination of the heat of London and a cold, lack of water, and poor sleep finally caught up with me. All of that aside ,however, I love London! I do have to admit that I miss Wales, but I have been having a wonderful time so far. I will hit on some of the highlights that we have had while here in London.

We arrived on July 4th, a fitting entry for us Americans into the motherland. We had a bit of a rough time getting from Paddington to the tube station closest to our apartment. We got on the wrong line, then had to transfer at Earl's Court. We were misled on where to go, so some of us lugged our luggage up and down stairs unnecessarily. The station was packed. That was one of the first things I noticed about London: the number of people. After getting off at the right station (finally), we headed to our apartments. We got there and were greeted by Michael, the Irishman who manages the flats that we are staying in. They are pretty nice, despite the fact that they only have a washer/dryer combo. The flats are in a decent location. They are about ten minutes away from the nearest tube stop and about five minutes away from the nearest overground. After figuring some things out, we enjoyed a fourth of July party together as a group. The apartment was extremely hot that day. We were all dying from the heat.

The next day we all went together to the Tower of London. Our 50,000 best friends also decided to join us. The Tower of London was really quite interesting. It was fascinating to think how much the monarchy has invested into protecting its prized possessions. I saw the crown jewels, along with the places where many famous prisoners were held. It was also very hot that day. After that, we went on a delightful walking tour of Charles Dickens's London. Our tour guide, Richard III, inspired me to read more Dickens upon my return to the United States. I saw the places where Our Mutual Friend could have taken place. We also saw the places where Dickens worked and lived. It was simply delightful!

Saturday is a bit of a blur. I went to see a play with another girl on the study abroad. That was quite fun. We didn't anticipate seeing one, but they had great tickets at a great price. We bought the tickets at 2:00 and went to the 2:30 matinee while everyone else went to St. Paul's for evensong. After that, the girl who went with me and I walked along the Thames and the Millennium Mile. We saw Big Ben, the Houses of Parliment, the London Eye, a giant sidewalk fair, and St. Paul's. We also got our pictures by the Globe! I was so excited to think that I was standing in places where Shakespeare and his contemporaries would have stood.

Sunday proved to be a whole new adventure. We attended Church in the suburbs of London. It took probably three hours total to get there and back. The wards here are small, but diverse. I love seeing the traditional African dress, and the other nationalities that are represented here.

Monday we had our first day of class. We enjoyed class, but it was hard to be in class after traveling so much. We also went on a Jack the Ripper tour, which was quite fascinating. It is amazing to see the places in the East End that would have been haunted by Jack. The East End has been cleaned up considerably, but it is still not the same as the West End. There is a different feel to it. It's amazing to think how many people lived in poverty and in the slums here just a little over a hundred years ago. This day we also went to the Science Museum by the Hyde Park Chapel. It was cool to see everything they had to offer!

On Tuesday we traveled to Oxford. I loved seeing the Oxford University Press. The tour guide spoke the best RP I have heard here. There was no indication of any kind of accent that would place him anywhere in England. Seeing the press made me want to work there in their ESL department. We also saw the Eagle and the Child and the oldest museum in all of England, the Ashmolean Museum. It had some great art! One of the girls and I enjoyed it a lot. We were exhausted by the time we got back to the train to return to London.

The next two days are a bit of a blur. I know that we went see Once which I loved! I almost cried at the end. I now hope to return home to see the movie. We also have been seeing a lot of sites around London. I have loved seeing all of the beautiful churches and cathedrals. On Friday we went to Canterbury and Hastings. I saw the place where the Battle of 1066 took place, and I ate a meat pie while in that town. The battlefield itself was serene, almost ironically compared to what it would have been like back in the day. We went to Canterbury later that day. Our coach had arrived so early in the morning, as a side note, that Dr. Elzinga made us rush out the door. It was alright in the end though. In Canterbury, the other boy and I explored the town, I ate some phad Thai from a street vendor. They were both from the Isaan. It was delicious and tasted very similar to Thailand. We also saw the oldest Church site in all of England. It was a gorgeous little Church with a peaceful graveyard. After seeing these things, we returned to the hostel, the nicest one we have stayed at so far. Their breakfast the next day was incredible. Scones, crumpets, hot chocolate, Nutella, biscuits, etc.

Canterbury Cathedral was really touching to me. I have never been in a place that I have felt the Spirit of God so freely manifest. Well... Perhaps besides the temple. The entire place feels like God is present. From the beauty of the light to the sound of the practicing choir, the cathedral left me awed. I wrote a prayer to be prayed for upon the altar. I lit a candle for my departed uncle. I prayed. I took lots of pictures and I was amazed. Sometimes I wonder how our faith would be different if we had such beauty to worship in weekly.  After that, we explored a bit in town and then headed back to London.We did a few things. And then it was today. And now I sit here in a flat in London, hoping to recover so that tomorrow can be a big, bright new day.

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