November 2, 2008
TIME...IT'S FLYING BY!
Firstly, I need to apologize for my chronic case of blog neglect. Secondly, I must apologize again for the explanation I'm going to offer. Needless to say, you've heard it before, and are already predicting what it's going to be™and you are right! I truly have been extraordinarily busy and it just seems like the days pass in minutes.
Let's go back to the beginning of my case of chronic blog neglect, early October. My birthday fell right around there and the excitement about that little event in our flat was amazing. My wonderful flatmates spent the entire week planning a great night out in London. We had so much fun. A lady of my age, of course, never reveals the number (it's getting up there™) but I can say I had the best birthday ever.
The next week was finals week. Oh my goodness, what a rush. Of course, we all hibernated in the common room munching on whatever Sainsbury's basics foods we could find. Sainsbury's is the local grocery store and "Basics" are a line of food... think Hill Country Fare, yes, it's the cheap generic stuff, and consequently all I ever buy.
Then this last week, oh gosh, now this week has been one of the most nerve-wracking of them all, because this week we started our internships and had a huge assignment due in British Life and Cultures class. Everyone in the flat has all sorts of internships, from schools, to museums, to event planning organizations, legal aid charities, and businesses. Mine is with a Member of Parliament. Now, all of my lovely flatmates are wonderful, confident people. On Wednesday morning they each dappered up in business clothes and marched off to work. I on the other hand, was a complete nervous disaster. Knowing that your stop is Westminster and to see beautiful Parliament looming to your right, well, it's downright intimidating for a little American undergrad like me. So, I put my suit on, tried not to think about take your daughter to work day (because I still felt like I was playing dress up) and headed off to Westminster.
Turns out, I didn't need to be a complete wreck. Everyone in my office is perfectly lovely and has been completely willing to listen to my inane questions. Thank goodness.
More to come on that later, however, I must go because we're catching the train to Oxford today!
November 14, 2008
"London is so diverting"
Alright, we've established that you know I'm sorry for being MIA, so I'll get on with the really great reasons as to why I'm MIA! Where to start? In Pride and Prejudice Jane had it right when she said, "London is so diverting." Of course she didn't mean it because she was pining over Bingley jilting her, but when I say it, trust me I mean it.
I think I ended with Oxford last time, and let me tell you, it was lovely. The weather that day was quintessentially English, grey and drizzly with a chilly breeze every moment or two. I didn't care, American that I am, I had my trusty North Face. What was so wonderful about this trip was the fact that we had no plan, no aim™we just soaked up Oxford like you would a good bubble bath. Oxford's aura is different from the sometimes frenetic London. Oxford is dreamy and timeless. I don't mean this in a creepy way, but if ever a place had ghosts or an other worldly presence, it would be Oxford. Take the Eagle and Child for example, this pub was a favorite haunt of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. Sitting in the back room, I occasionally fancied myself in some trance where I could put my hand on the wall, maybe a wall Lewis or Tolkein had touched, and suddenly just a the smallest element of their inspiration could be transmitted to me. Think I sound crackers? Probably, but if you've been to Oxford then I'm certain you completely understand.
You've suffered through my gushing about culture, museums, travels, etc, but probably have not heard a sufficient amount of information about these international internships. So far, everyone is pleased and not overwhelmed. Hannah constantly brings home fashionable trinkets from Monsoon (which is the popular accessories and clothing shop she works for), and Gozie is always hard at work on her charities' events-I believe Vivienne Westwood sponsored the last one! Sarah and her precious British schoolchildren went to High School Musical 3, Schyler is planning a massive event for her legal aid charity and Clara is saving her museum loads of pounds by assembling an extensive catalogue of some sorts. These flatmates set the bar high!
So how is Parliament? Truthfully, I still am wholly and completely awe-struck. I forgot to mention that last week I went to the Prime Minister's Questions™so I got to see every who's who person in Parliament from Gordon Brown (PM) to David Cameron (Leader of the Opposition). I love how rowdy the House of Commons gets; I wish the House were a little more unruly!
My MP is just lovely; she is such a great role model of what a politician should be: a public servant. I admire the way she puts her constituency first in every situation; she is brave, intelligent and frank. Yet, she also a wholly unaffected person, she has no airs, she knows my name and will unfailingly take time when she can to have lunch with us.
Working in Parliament has done volumes for confirming some directions in my life. It has shown me how much I have to learn, but with patience, a little courage (those nerves still get me sometimes!) and perseverance I will get there. Graduation is coming in May and I feel so much more ready to attempt this new, slightly scary but vastly exciting chapter of life.
November 16, 2008
IT'S OK TO BE EXTREME IN WALES
So we all know that this an age of tolerance. Extremism is not the rage unless your extreme about showing how tolerant you are. I learned something in Wales™it's just great to be extreme! Here Hannah, Clara, Schyler, 26 other FIE students and I all got a chance to try some amazing extreme sports in the Welsh countryside. Oh my gosh, I have had so many moments where I called out to Hannah saying, "So it's Saturday morning and I'm doing™" (don't worry, I'll tell you all about it in a minute).
For this little weekend soiree in Wales we had the opportunity to surf, mountain bike, kayak, hike and coasteer. Being the rational and reasonable person that I am, I chose biking and coasteering. Here's the hitch though, I am probably the worst biker ever, like could I have my training wheels back, please? The second hitch is I had no clue what coasteering was. So let me clarify: coasteering is cliff jumping into the ocean. Yes, I thought I was going to die too.
However, it's Sunday, I had my extreme activities yesterday, and I'm unscathed, not that sore and I survived our 7 mile hike today! I've only had to repeat my mantra, "pain is weakness leaving the body" a few times to get through this rigorous weekend.
So how was mountain biking? Once a friend helped me understand how the gears functioned life got much better. The weather was once again oh so British™misty, grey but punctuated with brilliant emerald fields and vibrant ruddy trees changing for Autumn. We biked along the coast, saw amazing cliffs rising out of the fog. This fog is the perfect fog for ghost ships. Our guide says that Moby Dick was filmed here in the Preseli Mountains. I could just see the Pequod emerging. According to our instructor on the twisting downhills we could be clocked at nearly 35 MPH! We also munched on biscuits (cookies) and hot chocolate in some ruins, checked out a lookout point from World War II and offroaded in a seriously muddy little trail.
However, coasteering truly got my adrenaline pumping. So you know how you see water dashing against cliffs all in Britain? Yes, that's where we coasteered. Thank the Lord for wet suits, even though mine made me feel like a Shamu trainer from Sea World. Our highest jump was roughly 10m™.so no, not ridiculously high, but we still intense! I remember landing that 10m one with my eyes slightly open once because I was looking around on the ride down. It was absolutely fantastic™frigid, but so great. The whole time I kept exclaiming how obsessed with cliff jumping I was. Sorry, Mom™just one more thing to worry about!
We're headed back to London now, Clara and I are on the train and let me just say, Welsh trains must take the scenic route because the views are just lovely. Think, panoramas of grey clouds tinged with blue contrasting with the suns brilliant orange and pink glow™glittering off expanses of the indigo sea.
Have a made you jealous yet? Inspired you to take an adventure weekend in Wales? Hope so, I can definitely tell you it is a good time.
November 29, 2008
THANKSGIVING™in England and on Saturday?
British people are totally missing out by not celebrating Thanksgiving. My co-worker said that they call it, "Thank goodness their gone day." Hence, I did not invite him to our feast.
To the best of our ability, we recreated Thanksgiving on Saturday since we all had to work on Thursday. Schyler is resident holiday planner (this girl can organize a meal like nothing else) so she and Reid took care of the turkey and pumpkin pie. Hannah made delicious, from scratch stuffing. Clara whipped up her famous sweet potatoes , Sarah made a delicious chocolate chip cheesecake, and Reid cooked up some sinfully good mashed potatoes. I totally winged it with a green bean casserole. Apparently, English people do not consume canned green beans or those crunchy onions things. No matter, I substituted frozen green beans and frozen onion rings!
Our meal was so good and we literally all passed out in a food coma after we talked about what we were thankful for. For some it was hard to be away from home, and Thursday was a terrible day for the world (Mumbai, India), but I was so glad to have roommates to share this holiday with. Oh Flat 22 of Manson Place, I will miss you!