Crazy London Times and Such

I really need to post more often than once a week… so many things happen! Wonderful, exciting, Londony things that I need to tell people about.

After last Friday’s crazy busy day we took the rest of the weekend easy… hung out, slept, grocery shopped, homeworked, etc. I also started watching Doctor Who… BEST. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is a BBC science fiction show that’s caught on in the U.S. in the last couple of years.) My flatmate and I may take in the Doctor Who Experience here soon, now that I am also obsessed. (In fact I just finished Season 2 yesterday… for anyone who has seen it, it was extraordinarily sad and I cried.)

Tuesday night I saw my first show for Reading Theatre- a play called, “Stones in His Pockets”. It was a dramatic comedy about the extras on a film set in Ireland, with all the characters (from the American movie star to the eighty year old drunk Irish grandfather) being played by two brilliant actors. I absolutely loved it, of course- but when we discussed it in class the next day none of the Brits agreed with me! It speaks to the difference in tastes, I guess. I certainly fought for it in class.

Wednesday my flatmates and I (four Cornellians, three Brits, and a Russian) went down to the student pub for a flat-bonding time, which was great fun. It’s still odd to me that people go out so much during the week, but I’m certainly not opposed! Eight out of the nine of us went and crammed into one booth, and we hung out there for awhile. Thursday night, my friends and I made dinner in one of the flats: delicious baked stuffed peppers. (For those curious about my cooking, I was responsible for inserting the filling into the peppers. I also was in charge of making sure the fire alarm didn’t go off.)

I promise I’m going to class as well… I’m really liking all of them so far. In my Law class we’re reading Aristotle, which is good if a little dry. I’m the only American in that class, and since it’s a level six class (the highest level offered) it’s a bit more reading than my other classes. Very manageable, though. Reading Theatre, of course, is great, and since it’s about half Americans I don’t have to be self-conscious about my accent when I contribute to the discussion. Medieval history is just straight history lecture- but since I love being lectured about history I’m finding it really interesting. (The class focuses a lot on the structures of towns and cities, so hopefully I’ll be able to see some of them when I travel!)

My last class, Interventions, might be my favorite. It’s my only practical theatre class, and I’m the only abroad student in it- but since they’re all theatre kids they are still very friendly to me! It’s a lot more hands on work than my other classes, which I appreciate (especially since it’s a four hour class). Basically, we study the use of theatre in a non-performative setting with a specific intention or hope to change. (I used the American group Improv Everywhere as an example in class, if that helps.) We’re studying invisible theatre right now, which is absolutely fascinating. We’ll also get to stage our own intervention for the final project which should also be cool.

Friday was once again, absolutely crazy. We were determined to see Hamlet this time around, since the show closed yesterday. So we caught the tube out of Mile End at seven thirty in the morning, getting to the theatre almost two hours before the box office opened. Alas, we STILL weren’t able to get tickets. But since we had bought day passes for the tube (8.40 for unlimited rides) we decided to take advantage of it. And what a day!

We first headed over to Oxford Circus to return some of Lorraine’s previous purchases. (The group for the day consisted of my friends Darci, Jen, Lorraine, and I- Liz had come with us to try and get tickets but had gone home to get sleep afterwards). Oxford Street in Oxford Circus is one of the main shopping streets in London, and it was a little overwhelming. But in an awesome way. We even went to Topshop! It’s not as good as everyone says it is- the mannequins were all sitting on ostriches which was a little odd.

From there we searched for the British Museum, which took awhile as we started off in the wrong direction. By the time we did get there, we were getting a bit tired, even though we had stopped for sandwiches. In retrospect, we probably shouldn’t have taken the forty minute tour about Chinese pottery. We were able to perk up after, though, because MUMMIES. Also the Rosetta Stone! And Greek statues! And the olympic medals! Also a room filled with clockwork, which was fantastic.

After the British Museum there was one thing we all wanted… a proper British tea! This was by far the best part of the day. We trekked across the Millennium Bridge (made famous when the Death Eaters destroyed it in Harry Potter 6- so of course, we posed as if we were being chased by Dementors) and went to the cafe of the Tate Modern, where we got a delicious cream tea for only 6 pounds a person. A cream tea is made up of a pot of tea and scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and it was honestly one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Worth every penny! We also got some cookies (or biscuits, as they call them here), which were delicious.

After sitting in a well-fed stupor for a bit we decided to take further advantage of our tube passes and head out to King’s Cross station, home of Platform 9 3/4 and the entranceway to Hogwarts. We stopped by St. Paul’s cathedral on the way to take pictures of it at night and to admire the general beauty of the Thames in the evening, and then we were on our way.

Although it took us awhile to FIND Platform 9 3/4, we eventually did and were able to take loads of brilliant touristy pictures. King’s Cross has a sign up with a trolley sticking out of the wall, so we posed with that, but since the REAL entranceway is of course not visible to Muggles we took some pictures with a plain brick wall as well. Darci and I reenacted several iconic HP scenes (the epilogue scene from DH2 with her as Albus Severus Potter and myself as Harry, and Ron and Harry getting locked out of the platform in CoS.)

But of course we were not finished yet! We hopped back on the tube and went back to Oxford Street, where we bought some of the things we had admired that morning. We also went to Primark, which is the biggest, cheapest, most wonderful clothing store in London. After braving lines to the dressing room and hordes of ferocious London ladies, I myself got a dress and leggings for only thirteen pounds.

We had planned to see Big Ben at night as well, but by then it was almost ten and we were exhausted. We hopped on one last tube back to Mile End, and after making a few skype calls I collapsed into bed.

Saturday I was able to sleep a little, but had to head back into Central in the afternoon for a meeting at the Cornell-Brown-Penn Abroad Centre. To my immense disappointment, Emma Watson was not there. I did see Carly and Gerra, as well as my friend Joyce who had been away last semester as well. Carly and Gerra came back to the East End with me (after we had another cream tea for lunch), and I was able to show off Queen Mary a bit- the student pubs, the street markets, the lovely views of Canary Wharf and the Olympic Stadium. It was nice getting to be the tour guide- I feel like I’m really settling in here. The East End is very different than Central City London, but I prefer it- it’s a little cozier.

And today I went back into Central! Last semester we had a flute who was an exchange student from a British university, Andy, and he was in town for a few days before he was due to head on to his next semester abroad (in Sydney, Australia!) I met him and Carly, and the three of us went to lunch in Chinatown. That was an adventure in itself! After lunch we wandered a bit, even going into the famed Abercrombie and Fitch shop. It was terrifyingly large and filled with cologne and fashionable people.

And now I am back at Queen Mary, getting some work done before class starts tomorrow. We’re also going to be planning our first trip tonight- we’re thinking about hitting up Bath and Stonehenge this weekend, as apparently that is a good combination. I promise I will update before then so I don’t have another massive post. Until then, cheers!