It's been a while since my last entry but I have fun stuff to share! Oh, and pictures are just going to be put right into the blog because nothing is working for me... so don't expect tons of pics, I'll just pick the best few each entry and call it good.
I'll start with my weekend trip to London; this was the first trip that was taken without chaperons so it was much less planned and much more stressful but still a lot of fun. I went with a group of five other UMD kids and we left Friday morning on a train to London. Up until the day we left I was really stressing about all the things I needed to do: homework, rowing, figuring out the trip (a few roadbumps along the way: hostel not having enough rooms, figuring out what we wanted to do etc) and just general stressing out. So, needless to say I was happy to escape that for a bit... though, I'm basically just coming back to it without making any progress. Oh well!
The train ride there was uneventful but good. We arrived at Paddington Station midday and began by trying to figure out the Tube situation. The Tube is London's metro system and it's excellent: it gets you anywhere you'd need to go, it gets you there fast and it's easy to understand if you sit and stare at the map for a bit. We got ourselves an Oyster card (refillable card for Tube travel) and made our way to our hostel outside of downtown London. It was so nice to put down our bags at the hostel (which was really nice: decent beds, clean, alright toilets [they call restrooms 'toilets' so no need to be grossed out, it's the same thing] except it was hard to get one with a sink every time, and really good service) but we were soon out and about on the town! One thing that struck me about the town where our hostel was located was that we were the minority by a long shot... I'd say about 3/4 or more of the population was of African, Indian or Middle Eastern descent. It was very cool to be in a place where I knew I was the minority because that almost never happens. Plus, it made for a lot of fun produce markets and beautiful window shopping with all of the beaded saris!
Friday night we basically just walked around looking at the big sights while avoiding to spend money. Unfortunately, we couldn't avoid the rain! It rained for at least five hours and we all got pretty wet; thankfully, I had my umbrella but I was still chilled when we finally came back to the hostel. Once there, we met a couple of our hostel roommates, sisters from Ohio. The younger one was also studying abroad but for a semester in Ireland and her sister had come to visit her. They were both really nice and had just come back from the Harry Potter Studios tour (we had planned that for Saturday but it turned out we had needed to book it online to get tickets; needless to say, those particular plans didn't pan out!). Apparently it was great though, so I'm excited to possibly see it with one of my best friends later in the school year if she's able to visit! The hostel also had a pub downstairs so we hung out down there for a little while before we crashed.
The next morning we were off to meet up with four other friends who were just coming for the day (for the Harry Potter thing, oops!) at Westminster. We took the bus (yes, it was a double decker, thank you very much!) and the Tube to make it over there. Most of us stuck together to go on the London Eye; it was so cool being in the pod and seeing the city from that vantage point... definitely worth the 18 pounds!
Almost at the top!
Great view of Big Ben :D
After the Eye, we went to the 4D Experience movie that we could get into for free with a London Eye ticket. It was actually pretty cool; we got a nice tour of some of the big attractions by a seagull. By then, we were all really hungry so we were trying to find a nice pub for some fish and chips but it was hard to find an authentic feeling pub so close to all the action. We had to wing it and it sorta worked out... I got chips and a salad while others got chips and little fried fish (heads and all... I tried one and it wasn't bad, a tad unappetizing though). After a semi-successful lunch we made our way to Madame Tussaud's wax museum. It was an incredibly long line to get in but it was cool once we were in there. It was the oddest thing though; I mean, there are hundreds of tourists posing with wax celebrities, sports figures, political figures, etc. I am glad I went but I'm also glad that I won't have to go there again :) It was one of those things you do to check it off your list.
Since it took so long to get through the museum, we said goodbye to our friends so they could go back to Worcester and then we headed out to dinner. We had a fun dinner where I had my first cheese souffle... it was DELICIOUS!! I loved it and I'm so excited to try to make one at some point. Here's a pic of my adorable souffle and my side o' veggies.
Our last item of business Saturday night was to try to figure out where and when we could get a London Tour By Night ticket... lo and behold we happen upon the exact spot where the tour starts right as the bus pulls up. I was very excited about that and the tour didn't disappoint! We saw all the major sites: the Wellington Arch, the Tower Bridge (super impressive!), Harrods (looks so calm and peaceful on the outside, too bad it's not that way inside) and plenty of the other places you'd think of when you think London. The only downside of the tour was that it was absolutely freezing but it was definitely worth it!! After the tour (it was about eleven pm) we had to make our way home and with the unanticipated Tube closures we had quite the adventure coming home but made it to the hostel safe and sound by one am. I slept like a baby that night.
Sunday was another good day; a few of us were really ready for the weekend in London to come to a close so we took a nice stroll in Hyde Park (was super busy with what appeared to be a charity run/fair event) and then split up with the others and took the train home. London was excellent and I'm excited to go back (hopefully over our break in November so I can get to the National Gallery Museum, the Tate and the British Museum!!) but more than a few days there is quite overwhelming... and talk about expensive!
In other news, rowing has been going well: we did our first "test" of 2000 meters on the rowing machine to look back on as a starting time. Mine was 9 min 25.5 sec which is pretty good for a girl's first attempt so I was quite happy with that! Still haven't been on the water so I've got to figure out a time to get there because the first race is the 17th of November, dun dun duunnnn!!!
Modules are fine: drawing is going pretty well, working on a piece about doubt so that's fitting since I doubt my artistic ability all the time; lots of reading in my marketing class; nothing too special about the other classes.
This coming weekend is a UMD field trip to Devon and Cornwall right on the coast (surfing anyone?!) so that should be fun :) That's about all for now; I'll have more updates soon!