So for the past week, I've been in England! But most people already know that and are probably curious as to what I've been up to. The first day I got here I was really exhausted and ready to sleep, given the 7 and a half hour plane ride I had just been on, but instead I got situated here and went into the town of Surbiton. It's about a 10-15 minute walk from where I'm staying, and is where we usually catch the train into London. That night, we got dinner at a pub, and I had my first fish and chips! It was absolutely delicious, and will probably happen again before I leave. Anyway, after that we made our way back to Clayhill (my current place of residence) and I attempted to stay awake for a few more hours so I would be going to bed at a normal time here.
The next day we had to get up bright and early to go to orientation at Kingston, which is where we got our IDs and travel cards. In the afternoon, we had a photo scavenger hunt around London with our fellow flatmates. We went to the London Eye, walked past Big Ben and the Parliament Building, went down the main shopping district of London, walked through Trafalgar Square and the Covent Garden Market, saw the theater district of London, and ended up at English pub. It was a tiring afternoon, but definitely a good way to learn our way around London.
The next day, we got up bright and early in order to get to St. Paul's Cathedral. This is probably one of my favorite things that I've done so far, because both the building and the view from the top were breathtaking. When you first walk into St. Paul's, the decor on the walls and the dome put you in awe. Then you start to make your way up the 528 stairs to the top of the dome. It's a workout, but definitely worth it. The first part you make it to is the Whispering Gallery. In the Whispering Gallery, if you whisper into the walls it can be heard across the room. Then you make it up to the Stone Gallery, which is the first place where you can view the city. It was windy when we went up there, but since it was a clear day (rare in London), we could see almost everything. It took your breath away. Then you make it up to the very top of the dome, and when we got up there, the sun was shining and you could see all of London. I think that this will definitely be one of the best things about this trip, for sure.
After St. Paul's, we walked around London a little more, specifically Cheapside and the place where Shakespeare's theater used to reside. We walked down streets that Shakespeare used to roam, which for an English nerd like me was really, really cool. We went into the Borough Market, where there were lots of vendors selling lots and lots of different things. We stopped for lunch here, I got a sausage and bubble bap, which was absolutely delicious. It was basically just a sausage, potato, and cabbage sandwich. Then we walked down to the Globe Theater, which I will get to see three plays in throughout the course of this month, and also walked across Millennium Bridge, which Voldemort destroyed in the 5th Harry Potter movie. Then we made our way home, relaxing the rest of the night after a very tiring day.
The next day we made our way to Buckingham Palace, which was very elegant and it's pretty amazing that people still live there. It's so big! We walked through an exhibit that had all of the diamonds that the Queen owned, which just showed exactly how rich the Queen actually is. Crazy. After the Palace, we made our way to the Tower of London to explore all of the history that was there. And let me say, there was definitely a lot. So many people were executed at the Tower, and it was a little creepy to be honest. But worth it to go there. Then we made our way back, and were all ready to relax when we realized the final of the Euro 2012 Cup was on, so we figured we better make our way to a pub because football is such a part of the culture here, and we wanted to experience it. I've gotta say, it was definitely an experience, seeing all the Englishmen get so excited over a football (which is soccer in the US, in case you're getting confused) match, like Americans get excited over baseball or American football.
Finally, today my friend Katie and I made our way to the British Library, which was one of the things at the top of my list to do here. And let me tell you, it's a book nerd's heaven, especially with the exhibit that they currently have there at the moment. Among other things, I saw the original manuscript for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, I completely nerded out. This is definitely going to be one of the highlights of my trip, for sure. :) Other things I saw were a painting of the Shire by Tolkien, the original copy of Winnie the Pooh, a manuscript for Jane Eyre, Our Mutual Friend, and Alice in Wonderland. After the library, we made our way to Kings Cross Station, and I think most people know why I was so excited to go here. Platform 9 and 3/4! I actually got to see it! Again, another thing to check off my bucket list. After that, we made our way to Waterstone's Picadilly, which is considered the biggest bookstore in Europe. 5 floors of books. This is definitely somewhere I want to live, and makes the Barnes and Noble back home pale in comparison. I also bought the UK editions of Philosopher's Stone, and Chamber of Secrets, just another thing to add to the growing library in my room. Oh well. One can never have too many books :) Tomorrow is my first day of class, which will definitely be an adventure in and on its own. Now that I'm all caught up, I will definitely have to make sure I blog more often so each post isn't so long. Until next time, happy reading! :)