I really regret not updating my blog, but honestly 18 days late isn’t going to happen. Maybe when I get back to the States and get inspired or something.
I shall list some of the highlights of the past few weeks (in no particular order):
-Visited Kensington Palace and it was fantastic. By fantastic I mean touristy but hey, that happens. At least the gardens were nice.
-Went to Tower of London today on a whim. It was gorgeous as usual. I got a scone and clotted cream, I’ve been dying to have that the whole time I’ve been there.
-Got drinks with Sam after I haven’t seen him in two months. Definitely really happy about that.
-Tried to go to Shoreditch Festival and it ended up being an absolute fail/weird joke. So I ditched and headed to Tower of London, as I said above.
-Managed to do something that makes 2 of my housemates no longer speak to me. Awesome.
-Went to the Fire Gardens at Stonehenge. It was the most magical experience I’ve ever had. Stayed in a bed and breakfast, had a precious old woman serve me breakfast, and I got to participate in a once in a lifetime event of fire and weird old rocks that I was actually able to touch.
-Spent a day in Bath where I literally was soaked….in a rain bath. Still fantastic.
-My friend Tom is coming up this week and we are going on a Parliament tour (I’m the tour leader weeee) and to the Olympic Torch Relay Finale with Dizzee Rascal and Rizzle Kicks. I’ll die of happiness from these two musical acts….ahhh.
-Went out to dinner with my co-workers Emma and Aimee. Ended up at a group for liberal thinkers and drinkers called “Progressively Pissed.” I pretended I was Rick Santorum’s intern. It was awesome.
-Did a day trip to Oxford with Casey. It was amazing, yet heartbreaking. I won’t be back there for at least a year.
-Hannah Long-Higgins visited for 3 days. She’s wonderful.
-Had my last day in Parliament. Absolutely depressing.
-Ate Sunday Roast with my house tonight. Everyone is excited to go home. I’m not ready to go home, but I wish I had friends. It’s really lonely here.
All in all, I’m doing awesome things. I’ve witnessed a lot of once in a lifetime things. I’ll be hopefully seeing the torch pass through my borough next Thursday. We shall see!
Generally on Tuesdays I have work, but today I switched with Nick so I’m going in on Wednesday instead. Only downside is that I’d have to make sure my midterm was written by the end of today since I’d be heading straight to class tomorrow and it is the 4th of July.
Anyways, I spent the entire morning writing my paper. At about 2 PM I finished with 8 sources and about 15 citations in total. I still have to edit the final product, which I intend to do tomorrow morning as I need the writing to sit a while before I can properly edit. Sometimes if I try to edit in the same day, I struggle and don’t catch obvious mistakes.
I’m clearly an overachiever because this midterm does nothing to my academics. I’m not getting any credit for the internship or class, but I just can’t bring myself to turn in work that I didn’t work hard on. Besides, it is being double-marked so I want to see how my writing is judged. It’s not the best I’ve ever done so it wouldn’t bother me if I got a 2:1….but I’d be upset with a 2:2 for sure.
I took a nap after working really hard on my paper and woke up to take a 45 minutes tube ride into Zone 3 for the Olympic Walk tour.
What a joke.
It was literally the worst thing ever. It was 2 hour walk and it didn’t take us anywhere NEAR any part of the stadium. The closest glimpse I got to the stadium was seeing the aquatic center on the above ground train when heading to the giant Westfield mall.
At the mall, there is a shop called John Lewis with a giant glass window where you can see a lot of the Olympic stadium. It was 7:50 and the guide kept saying it might close early, so what do we do? WE LOITER EVERYWHERE! When some girls asked for a bathroom break (WHYYY couldn’t we wait 10 minutes and go on our own?), he stopped and let them go making the whole group wait. He wouldn’t let us travel away from him either. So when he finally let us go at 7:58 we walked to John Lewis, right as the shut the gates in our face. So I literally went on a 2 hour tour to do nothing.
I decided to power shop in Primark while I was there and buy a red t-shirt for 3 pounds so I could rock the whole American flag colors tomorrow at work with my blue and white skirt. The line to check out took 10 minutes, so frustrating.
In all, it was a wasted 4.5 hours of my life. It took so long to get there and so long to walk around to see nothing.
We stopped every 5 minutes to learn a new fact about the city and less about the Olympics. In the end, I learned more about the sewage system and the bombing sites of London than I did of the Olympics. The only cool thing I got to see what the meridian line where I would be standing in two different hemispheres! I would have rather stood there for 2 hours!
When I got home, I was starving. I decided to cook chicken curry and put it over pasta. It’s not really how curry is supposed to be, but I don’t care. I’m trying new spices and things that we don’t have back in the U.S. and it was amazing.
And now here I sit, finishing my last blog of the 9 I just wrote to keep up to date.
Happy Fourth of July everyone! It’s officially midnight here!
I came back to work on Monday with only ONE response to the survey from the work I did on Friday. What a disappointment.
I spent about 3 hours just trying to add up the figures related to the survey, as I couldn’t get the total number of responses to match in each category. FINALLY, after printing out the survey results and lots of tallying, they came out equal and I actually had a few more responses than I realized.
By the end of the day, I came up with 250 responses even! I don’t think that’s really a milestone but it felt like it! I said I was going to do a dance and celebrate when I reached 250 survey responses and I didn’t disappoint with my chair party dance. I managed to get 53 responses in 4 days, which I’m impressed with myself. Woo.
Anyways, after work I knew that I needed to go get groceries. I headed to the Cooperative Food and got tons of meals that hopefully will last me a while. Next time I go to the store, only bread and milk should be a requirement.
I went to get the bus because my groceries were so heavy and I thought the bag might break if I didn’t. There ended up being this crazy man who was about 26ish years old who sat right in front of me on the bus. He was absolutely NUTS! I had my headphones in so I was able to pretend I couldn’t hear anything, but he started going crazy and shouting that I was accusing him of things.
I was definitely glad that my bus stop was only two stops away and that he didn’t follow me off because he was insane. It was hilarious, yet slightly terrifying at the same time. No idea where he was going or where he came from but he was not functional.
Anyways, I forgot to mention I purchased volleyball tickets to the Olympic games this past week! They were the only ones available for decently cheap and I’m soooo excited! I LOVE volleyball and the Olympic complex for volleyball is a ten minute walk from here!
MaryKate and I decided that it was time to write our midterms due on Wednesday so we started writing them at 9:30 at night. Once I haven’t written a paper in a while, couple with the fact that writing on working conditions in the Industrial Revolution is hardly a fascinating topic, it makes it really difficult to write a paper. At 1 AM I called it quits, with 1,105 words written. That was past the halfway point so I’m proud.
So July 1st is Canada Day, the celebration of Canadian independence. It’s also the 145th year of independence, so I looked up to see what Canada Day events were going on in London. As it happens, a hugeeee festival was going on in Trafalgar Square. In the fall I stumbled upon Dwali Fest there as well and that fun for the short time I was there, so I definitely wanted to go to Canada Day.
Before then though, I decided to go to Kensington Palace. I left at 2:30 PM and arrived about 3 PM. The weather went through about 3 seasons in the 10 minute walk to the Palace, but that’s England for you.
I decided to buy an annual pass, as it gets you into 5 palaces and places around London and if I go to them all, it saves me money. I like to think of it as motivation to go out and see the sights. I also really wanted to see what Kensington Palace was all about. I did the entire place in about 2 hours and it was pretty corny. They had a selection of Diana’s dresses, plus different dresses and artifacts, but in generally it was kind of gimmicky. I really enjoyed the area that was set up to look like Queen Victoria’s jubilee celebration because it was really fun, whimsical, and fascinating. Overall though, it wasn’t what I expected. The gardens were really gorgeous as was Kensington Park, so I suppose it was a good quick hour or two hour trip in the end.
I then headed home and prepared for Canada with Casey. We headed out at about 5:15 PM and arrived around 6 PM. We were really excited by the mass amounts of Canada so we both got airbrushed face tattoos immediately. I got a maple leaf that said “eh?” in the middle and she got a moose. I crafted a story that we were from Windsor, Ontario, as it’s pretty generally influenced by the U.S. and would be more believable. Then we headed to the Canada Day Bar where we got some Molson’s beer to celebrate Canada style!
We got really close up front for the concert. They were featuring various artists from across Canada such as Kid Koala djing, Hedley (a really good bad), Shad (a rapper), and the headlining act Our Lady Peace. I was SOOO excited to see Our Lady Peace because I grew up with their music. If you don’t know who they are just look up “Somewhere Out There” and you’ll totally know who I’m talking about.
After Shad’s performance, Casey and I were hungry. At first though, I decided that going to the bathroom in order to prep for 4 hours of concert-going was a necessity. We waited 20 minutes in line with other Canada Day go-ers at the Cafe Nero across the street….a wise idea.
We then got in line for chips (fries) and got poutine! Basically, it’s cheesy and gravy covered fries. I remembered seeing them the December prior when I went to a hockey game with Marc O’Reilly, Adam, and Nick Comer. I didn’t dare try them then because I was more picky about food. On Canada Day, I was willing to try anything. I’m glad I did because those calorie packed chips were DELICIOUS. We destroyed our trays each and then went back into the concert area to watch the rest of the performers.
I think I heard Oh Canada about 5 times (naturally) and finally Our Lady Peace came on at 9:20 PM and did not disappoint! All the performers were fantastic and it was fun being a Canadian for the day.
As Casey and I headed home after the Canada Day festivities, it happened to coincide with the end of the Euro Cup and Spain’s win. In the middle of Piccadilly Circus, all of the street was flooded with Espana flags and fans, chanting, dancing and singing. The tube wasn’t even busy because everyone was heading TO Piccadilly Circus, not away.
We decided to make a stop at King’s Kebab on the way back where I bought cheesy chips. They were extremely disappointing, nothing like Hassan’s in Oxford, such a disappointment!
After such a ridiculous night of trying to get home on two night buses, I was exhausted. I slept away most of the morning as my flatmates went to Kensington Palace. I waited for them to get home, planning on a possible trip to Camden Market, waiting to see if Kensington Palace was worth the price of admission.
They got back and said it wasn’t too bad and was a lot of fun. So I decided to put that off and go on Sunday. I started to make a list of all the things I want to do this summer and while it is long, I realized it is do-able.
I also have various people I want to see in the coming weeks so that sometimes will take precedence over some touristy thing. Mike Becker was coming in on July 1st, Tina Song was meeting with me next Thursday, and Hannah Long-Higgins was staying from Monday, July 10th to that Thursday. My friend Chris that I met in the fall also said he might come up for a day and that we were hanging out! It’ll be nice to see him as I haven’t seen him since December. My days are filled with seeing people from the past and from Heidelberg. I’m definitely really excited about it!
Anyways, Liz, Allie, Casey, Oniska, and Heather wanted to go out and do a little shopping on the day. I didn’t plan on buying anything and we went around to various fun shops with things I’d never buy. After about 3 hours, I was exhausted and ready to head home and start doing some reading for my midterm.
I got around to eating the cupcake that Kate bought me for my birthday the weekend prior and it was delicious. I also cooked an awesome spaghetti with chicken meal. I’m turning into a regular homemaker over here!
So, I was really excited for the weekend because my friend Lewis (if you remember him from the Sounds of Africa concert a few weeks ago) was going to come up and be a tourist for the weekend. Unfortunately, he’s a marine and was called back for the weekend so that he could learn and prep for exercises as a commander before the rest of the group went out.
He was still able to come up and visit on Friday night when we were going to Ice Bar, so I was excited to have some fun stuff to look forward to after work.
Work continued to be the exact same thing. I left the day with 242 responses, which means I had gotten 45 in the past week, so I was really proud of myself. I make work sound really depressing, but I honestly love every minute of it.
Nick, the other intern turned employee caseworker was in on Friday and Aimee was gone. It was a lot of fun to just talk between work, as usual. Fridays are more relaxed because Parliament isn’t in session which is really nice. On Fridays we have “music hour,” which consists of the last hour of work listening to music while getting things done. I actually picked up on the names of a lot of songs I’d been hearing around and it was nice to have a break from the continuous calling.
After work, I rushed home because Lewis was supposed to be coming around 5 PM. He ended up getting stuck in traffic and his 2.5 hour drive turned into 4 hours. When he got here, we watched some Misfits and then headed out for some food. We decided on Subway (my first fast food of the summer here!) and I got Chicken Tikka, a not so normal selection you wouldn’t find in the U.S. From there we just hung out until Liz, Allie, Casey, Kate, Lewis and I all headed to Ice Bar.
At first, we wandered for about 30 minutes unable to find it. With the help of Lewis’ iphone, we were able to locate the Ice Bar. You had to pay for a 40 minute session with a drink included and a coat and gloves given to you before you enter. The bar was made entirely out of ice, as were the walls, tables and seats (naturally). It was honestly cooler (hahah pun!) than I could have imagined. Every few months they apparently change the design inside. It was -5 degrees celcius which is about 25 degrees farenheit. The drinks were small but really good. After staying in there for 30 minutes, it was understandable why sessions were only 40 minutes long. I was definitely glad I wore pants (trousers) because it was FREEZING!
After we left ice bar at about midnight, Liz was on a search for cigarettes and Lewis and I got separated from the group. This led to our hour adventure of trying to find a bus and then taking two night buses and walking part of the way to get back. Lewis had parked his car on the street at our flat so he had to come back with me in order to head home.
Overall, the night was a blast and definitely a one in a lifetime chance to into a bar like that.
I again didn’t set my alarm on my day off and woke up at 1 pm this time. I didn’t know this was humanly possible to do 2 days in a row, but apparently it is.
It was my plan to go to Kensington Palace around 2 PM, but when everyone got back from work, they said it was miserably warm, especially on the tube. That was enough to deter me and I ended up just watching TV with them and then taking a nap.
I had to go to a Parliament meeting at 5:45 PM so I left at 5 to get on the tube for 2 stops. Little did I know that there would be a fault train (which they didn’t inform anyone on the platform about for 20 minutes) so I couldn’t get to my destination. It was 5:40 when I finally boarded the tube, only able to go one station in the direction I needed. From there, I had to find the 328 bus and sit on it until I got to Notting Hill Station and then walk 5 minutes to the meeting at Palace Court.
It was so overly hot, complicated, and frustrating that I arrived at about 6:03 thinking I missed the meeting. Apparently everyone else also was stuck on the District Line because I was the only one who showed up! It was unbearably hot in the unconditioned Arcadia office, which didn’t help. I talked to Jenny, the woman who placed us in Parliament, and told her how everything was going well.
In the end, the meeting took 5 minutes and it could have been done over email. It was a bit frustrating, but it’s Arcadia and it’s just one of the 203940 meetings we have that are boring.
After the meeting, I didn’t want to chance the tube again, so I took a bus home. It took about 30 minutes and I really had no motivation to do anything the rest of the night.
I keep realizing that by not setting an alarm on my days off of my internship, I don’t wake up at a normal human time. I check my alarm at 8 am and then before I know it, it’s 12:30 PM and half the day is gone.
Sometimes I resign myself to the fact that there is no way I’m going to be productive. Wednesday, June 26th, I was determined to do something on my list of touristy-ness, as I realize I’m running out of time. I keep saying “oh I’ll do that at some other time,” then I realize that the weekend has gone and passed and I’ve done nothing.
So, I decided to head to the Natural History Museum. While it’s fun sometimes to do things with other people, I find it fun to go do things by myself. If you asked me a year ago if I’d go to a museum alone, you’d never catch me doing anything like that. These days, after a year of eating in the dining hall alone, traveling alone, and just overall having to trust in myself to get places and do things, I realize that I enjoy my own company.
I can go at my own pace and I can make ridiculous comments in my head and nobody can judge me. Except maybe for the fact that they take some un-needed pity on me for traveling alone and doing things alone. I think I almost prefer it on some days.
Anyways, I headed to the Natural History Museum, mainly because of the Animal Bodies exhibit. If anyone has seen the Bodies exhibit of human bodies in the US that has traveled around, even to Toledo Cosi, they will understand. This exhibit, while it costed 6.50 pounds was amazing. I got to see the muscle structures of squids, reindeer, bulls, and even a giraffe and an elephant! Now, I’ve never been that close to a giraffe nor an elephant, but they are impressively large creatures. Overall, it was really cool.
Not only did the Natural History Museum have the Animals Inside Out exhibit, they also had a dinosaur exhibit. So I got to see real skeletons of about 5 different dinosaurs (actually probably more), a t-rex jaw, and various teeth, claws, etc. I felt like such a little kid but I was internally obsessed with the dinosaurs! Usually they are just casts, but they were real!
The Natural History Museum also has a dodo skeleton, the first ever discovered human skull, and even a giant exhibit explaining the human body, memory, reaction time, and perception. There was a section in the minerals area called “The Vault” which had part of a mars rock, tons of different gems that glowed in the dark, were flawless, etc. It was really impressive and I loved it.
After spending about 3 hours there, I headed back to buy some groceries and then make some dinner. It has been my goal each and every day to start working on my final essay, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Class was also on Wednesday night, which was awful. It’s been really dull having to trek an hour each Wednesday to learn things about Victorian Britain that I generally already knew. We were assigned our midterm, 2,000 words, and had to finish it by next Wednesday.
I wish my Tuesday, June 25th details of the day could differ in any way from Monday. In reality, I did the identical thing to Monday, except I did get some responses back.
I started with 197 responses and ended the day at 224, which was awesome. My MP was really impressed with how well I have been doing gathering responses. At this rate, I’m pushing really hard to try to get a response from as many as people as possible, if not everyone. I realize my time is starting to run out though so hopefully I can wrap things up a bit this upcoming week so I can move on to writing a briefing and being much more productive. I’d like to leave a lasting impact on the workplace, at least for a bit.
The only problem is that I don’t deal directly with Roberta Blackman-Woods, the MP. She works right next to us and we all talk to her from time to time, but I’m so focused on getting things done that I haven’t been able to speak to her often. She’s also busy as well, so I’m hoping that somehow I can use her as a reference in the future for when I apply for the Rhodes Scholarship.
Speaking of, I’ve been compulsively checking the Rhodes Scholarship website trying to figure out when the application is released. It says mid-July at the latest so I’m being a bit pre-mature but I can’t help it.
All in all, nothing exciting on the day. The usual, ha.
I know, I am so so soooo behind on my blog! Sometimes I just don’t have it in me to update and then it just piles on and on and on.
So, lets start at Monday, June 24th shall we? For the most part, it was pretty dull and I spent the entire time calling each and every council who hadn’t responded to our procurement survey. I found out that saying the word “procurement” is not only difficult, but it is difficult for other’s to understand coming from someone with an American accent.
I also have a phobia of using the phone. Literally try to push all communication through text, email, or face to face so on the phone work was petrifying at first. When I have to make calls to get things done, I have to write down exactly what I’m going to say, which is what I did. I used this prompt for the rest of the week and into the next, so I’d say it worked for me.
My office is so calm, yet productive, it’s a lot of fun. I’m going to be really, really sad to leave in a little over 2 weeks. It’s going to be really difficult. Welcome to studying abroad….just when you adjust, it’s time to go.
Anyways, that’s all I really did on the day, because I’m pretty lame. I think I came back and just hung out with the flatmates or something because I really don’t remember anything great happening.
I did have a meeting at 8 PM for 10 minutes in my housing about how things were going. It was really pointless and overall just made me feel like I was in an interview, telling the program that butterflies and rainbows seeped out of every pore of their placements, housing, and meetings. It was a waste of time and I didn’t come out of it with anything useful, but that’s okay. I’m past the point where I need my hand held when I go abroad. In the end, that’s a great thing, I don’t have nerves and I don’t have fears from traveling because I’m so used to it. I don’t want that feeling to ever leave.