Just another post that I wrote many moons ago.
Man, it's fun to come across these old documents saved on my computer.
Why. I am supposed to be in control of everything. I’m supposed to have my entire life together. No mess. No chaos. Just control. Why is it that at these wee hours of the night, sitting alone in this dark and motionless room, thunder rumbling outside, that I think? I let my mind wander and it’s terrible. A wandering mind creates illusions and steals contentment. A wandering mind needs to be tied back down as soon as one realizes its escaped. But it isn’t that easy. Once imagination takes flight, the only thing there is to do is wait for it to run out of fuel. After a few hours or so, eyes will get heavy and, by the morning, those wild fantasies created in my head will be nothing but sleep lost and mangled dreams.
Lightning illuminates the room, a brief flash back into reality. A surge into your existence. Existence in a world where there is no order, and no matter how hard you try, you will never accomplish true control. Just udder chaos.
Sometimes I go throughout my day, writing a novel in my mind. Thinking of ways to phrase the occurrences in my life. Dreaming up scenes and chapters and the perfect ending. People think I’m crazy. They think I’m just afraid. But that’s not true. I’m not scared. I’m the opposite. I want to face the world. Alone. I want to see things that few ever see. I want to do things that others never could imagine. I want to travel. I want to write. I want to take pictures. And I want to be happy. Just me. Alone.
Sometimes I wish that I am that fashionable, quirky girl who sits in the corner cafe, scribbling in her journal, and drinking tea. But I don’t like tea. And I don’t sit in cafes. And I’m definitely not stylish. So that girl is sort of like my alter ego. My dream me. A character in my stories that I control. A way to have complete say in her life. In my life. With endless possibilities and boundless ideas. She is who I want to be.
And today, that girl is planning her next trip. She’s in a coffee shop, and her biggest decision at the moment is which country to see next. She scans through the photographs she took on her last adventure. Moments captures. Beauty emanating. She wishes others could see them. Recognize them as beautiful. She writes in her notebook, although she hates her handwriting. She wishes it was more girly. Cursive. More like a love note rather than words jotted down. Words that make sentences and sentences that make paragraphs that sometimes are so scatter-brained, they don’t even make sense to her. But she likes to write.
She gets up to refill her cup and returns to a note left on her table.
"Ireland. It’s gorgeous."
Click this link to read on AIFS' blog!
Prince George Alexander Louis, Son of Prince William and Duchess Catherine, was born on the twenty-second of July, summer of 2013, and at the time of his birth, I was casually chatting with a group of Australian cricket players outside of Kensington Palace in London, England.
When my two best friends and I decided to study abroad in London through AIFS, we didn’t plan around the upcoming birth of the United Kingdom’s newest prince, however, it ended up being one of our greatest memories and cultural learning experiences. At that point, we had already been in London for two weeks and were aware of Kate Middleton’s due date. Actually, I was constantly updated every morning by my best friend who has an obsession with William and Kate and the entire Royal Family. First thing every day, even before the proper amount of coffee, she was inspecting the online news to check the status of the pregnancy, but with the conclusion of our time abroad around the corner, we were beginning to think we’d miss it completely.
So on July 22nd, we decided to stroll through Kensington Park after dinner and enjoy one of our last nights being charmed by the beauty of London. We took a break on a bench to watch a cricket game, because after all, cricket is a foreign and strange sport to us Americans and fascinated us. Long story short, a few of the lovely Aussie fellows decided to give us some company and we stuck around to hear their stories and exchange ours. One of the boys checked his phone during our conversation and casually stated that Kate had her baby. Cue emotional freak out by my crazed best friend. She began running, skipping, and leaping around, shouting that the prince was born and crying tears of joy. This is where our cultural confusion first began. As we were celebrating, we were also informing some of the passer byers who were walking by, and to our surprise, nobody cared.
Most of the responses we got in return of the good news were lackadaisical and apathetic one-word answers or blank expressions. We assumed that the British would be elated at the birth of their newest prince! That clearly was not the case because even the next day, it still was not a huge deal. Of course, at the request of my friend, we went to the convenience store and stocked up on all of the newspapers and magazines headlining the birth. I think that all of the other tourists in Kensington had that same idea that morning. We choose to buy those newspapers as souvenirs and historical keepsakes, while the locals were buying for the weather forecast or the story on page three.
Per tradition, the golden easel was placed outside of Buckingham Palace with the birth announcement on it, signed by the royal doctors, and of course, we went to see it. Once again, tourists filled the outside gates of the Palace and were lining up just to get a peek. Guards were ushering the crowds and only allowing for a quick picture and then you had to be on your way. In addition, it has also historically been the case that the name of the new royal baby is not released to the public for a few days to a few weeks, but lucky for us, Prince George’s name was announced while we were still in the country.
After bike riding through the gardens, we stopped at Kensington Palace to see why people were crowding the gates. Turned out, someone spelled out George’s name in boxes of baby powder on the grass. We spoke to a British woman that evening and asked her why the locals didn’t seem to be as excited as the tourists. She explained that it just isn’t a huge deal to them and compared it to our reactions to the President and his family, which made a lot of sense.
This really exemplified cultural variations in the public and media response to a pop culture event like such. Friends and family back in the states were being bombarded by the news and it remained a vital part of the media for a few days. But regardless of resident reactions, it still remains one of the highlights of my study abroad experience and I can certainly say that businesses and souvenir shops made a good deal of money off tourists and their infatuations with the Royal family. July 22nd was just another day for most of the British, while I will always remember being right next to Kensington Palace when I received the news of Prince George’s birth.
Now Will and Kate are expecting their second child, and my friends and I want to find a way back to London for round two of royal baby celebrations.
It's coming up on one year since I spent a month studying abroad in London, England with my two best friends and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish I was still there. I'm most happy when I get to talk about my trip and how amazing London is, so here are the top five things that made it so special to me. There are so much more, but I do not have nearly enough time to put them all into words.
1. Parks, parks, parks. The weather is getting warmer here in the states and all I can think about it how deeply I wish I was strolling through Hyde Park in the sunshine. I’d give anything to be back there sitting on a bench and watching all the handsome British businessmen take their dogs out for their evening walks. Or laughing at the awkward couples out paddle boating on the lake. Or running through the groups of swans eating breadcrumbs off of the pathway. Please, someone get me back to the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain so I can take off my shoes and walk the length of the stream while my best friend rambles on and on about how perfect Diana was. And if only I can rent a Barclay’s bike and cruise through Kensington Park and casually ride by Kate Middleton’s house. But of course, the night wouldn’t be complete without stopping to watch a group of Australian guys play cricket, and then maybe joining in for a round or two. And all of this magic is only a ten minute walk from our house, perfect for a daily routine. Mother Nature cures all sadness and seeing the majesty of these Royal Parks day after day is sure to foster positivity and happiness!
2. One word: Tube. Would you like to casually take a ride underground and end up face to face with the most iconic building in London? Yes, you would, because it’s amazing. One of the first Tube rides we took was to get to where our photography class was meeting and as we walked up the stairs, Big Ben was right in front of us. Like I’m not joking, you walk out of the station and good ol’ Ben is staring at you saying, “Welcome to London, everything is better here.” The fact that we could get on the Tube and go anywhere we wanted within minutes was awesome. Want to have lunch on the Thames River today? No problem, fill up your Oyster Card and you’re on your way. As expected, the ride itself was always entertaining as well. We quickly learned that during “rush hour”, we would feel like sardines all squished into the smallest, hottest, sweatiest space possible, but we’d somehow be alright with it. Oh, there’s a hot British guy next to you? It’s no big deal if you ‘accidentally’ bump into him as the train comes to a stop and hope to make small talk as you stare into each other’s eyes and he’ll invite you to live happily ever after with him and his European Greyhound. But usually it just resulted in creepers asking us if we were Americans and then explaining in great detail about how much they love Canada. On the occasions when the cars weren’t packed, then there was plenty of room to spread out, find a seat, and enjoy the lovely British voice repeat, “mind the gap” over and over again.
3. The yummiest food. This is not a drill. Some of the food I ate while in London was the best I’ve ever had (and probably ever will). First and foremost, I so desperately miss the weekly trip my friends and I took to eat gluten-free fish and chips at a lovely place called Oliver’s. We would take the Tube about 45 minutes, switching trains twice along the way. And after arriving at our stop, we’d walk another 25 minutes through some random neighborhood before we reached our destination. The first time we set out on this adventure, we had to huddle outside of a closed Starbucks to use their free Wi-Fi to access the GPS on our phones. But during the second and third trips, I’m sure anyone of the streets would have assumed we were locals (that’s if our loud and obnoxious American accents didn’t give it away). Regardless, it was all worth it because that celiac-friendly authentic British food made your mouth water and we craved it on the daily. Not to mention they also had [gluten-free] deep-friend Mars bars on the dessert menu.
Which brings me to the next thing that I miss oh so much; Mars bars. Seriously, this candy bar is heaven in your mouth. Apparently they used to be sold here in the states, but I haven’t been able to find them. There was nothing like a late-night stroll down the street to the convenience store to grab a Mars bar, or a frozen Mars bar, the perfect treat in our non-air conditioned dorm room. Thirdly, I will still wake up in the morning craving one of these so badly, and I am well aware that I can make it myself, but it will never be the same as arriving to class early in order to stop at the café and grab a tomato and cream cheese bagel sandwich. Yes, cream cheese with tomatoes on top. Don’t knock it till you try it because those Europeans really know what they’re doing when it comes to breakfast.
Another prime example- crepes bigger than your head, for only 5 pounds. Another weekly tradition that my friends and I shared was walking to My Old Dutch to indulge ourselves in, what were actually large, thin pancakes on American terms. Pick anything you want and they offered it on a crepe; Nutella, peaches, cheese, chicken, ice cream, spinach, and the list goes on. Bonus points for offering gluten-free crepes for my glutard of a best friend to enjoy! Really, I could probably write an entirely separate post simply of the cuisine in London. No wonder I gained weight while I was there…
4. History is everywhere. This is pretty self-explanatory. Everywhere you turn there is history to be learned about this magnificent city. During our month there, we made sure to do all the touristy things and took multiple tours through the must-see places such as Westminster Abbey, Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and the Tower of London, and we even traveled to see the Roman Baths (which were so cool!) We took a bus tour the second day we were there and our kind and hilarious tour guide showed us Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Trafalgar Square, and so much more. The architecture everywhere you turned was phenomenal. I’m sorry, but you just don’t see beauty like that in the US. And the museums! We were lucky enough to walk through the Tate Modern, the V&A, and the National Gallery and last time I checked there weren’t any Van Gogh or Picasso pieces in any museums around here. I just felt like it was impossible to go anywhere and not learn something new and fascinating about London, and maybe it was solely because we were tourists, but I never wanted it to stop. In addition, I also forced my friends to go on a ghost tour with me, which was also super neat!! (Our room was haunted anyway, so we really didn’t need to go looking for the paranormal)
As if that wasn’t enough history, Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge was born while we were there and we got to watch William and Kate bring him out of the hospital!
5. Dream cars, everywhere. Now anyone who truly knows me would occasionally describe me as a dude, and that side of me definitely came out in London. I mean, how was I supposed to contain myself when we walked right by a jet black Ferrari everyday while walking to class? I could sit on our balcony and wouldn’t be able to count the dream sports cars that passed on one hand. Granted, we were living in Kensington, the richest borough in London, but I was still taken aback every time I saw (or heard) one of these drive by. One of my fondest and favorite memories from the entire trip was going to the Aston Martin Centennial Celebration at Kensington Park. Aston Martin was celebrating 100 years and they had a car on display from each and every year from 1913 to 2013. There were also race cars and cars from the James Bond movies too! Everyone there was in fancy clothes, trotting about the grass with champagne in hand. Of course, my friends decided to be super girly that day and didn’t want to go with me, so I went alone. Again, anyone who really knows me would know that I don’t go places alone, but I wanted to see those cars so badly, and I’m so glad that I did. I must have spent close to two hours wandering around and marveling at the cars that I’ll never be able to afford as the men behind me discussed payment plans and transportation arrangements. It was great to ride the London Eye and do all of the London-y things, but this celebration was a once in a lifetime chance and easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever been too!
Pretty much the moral of the story is that I need to get back to London, ASAP.
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