Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The first three weeks...

So, we've reached three week mark of living and breathing London. No accents to show for it yet (unless you get some ciders in me), although we've both sort of figured out the Tube, had a few celebrity sightings, and most importantly, remembered not to call trousers 'pants' in public.

What've we been up to? Here's a quick pictorial peek at the last few weeks:

The first meal! After touching down in London early in the morning, going through what was a 45 minute immigration wait (only 10 minutes for me, thanks for the British citizenship, dad!), we were all pretty jetlagged and grumpy when arriving at the hotel we'd call home for a few days during our initial orientation. So first stop? A pub for some lunch! First lesson learned in London: any pub that boasts 'authentic' pub food is not going to be authentic. Nevertheless, here was my steak and ale pie with cider. 

After a nap and a group dinner with the rest of the study abroad students, Jackie and I ventured out into the city, hitting up Trafalgar Square to watch some breakdancers as well as taking a nice stroll in one of the Royal Parks up to Buckingham Palace.

Ah, my first British friend!

Duck Island Cottage in St. James' Park

Buckingham Palace Gates

A few days later we finally made the big move to our permanent residence for the next nine months! Jackie and I are living in a 'clustered flat' in a student residence hall for our school. This means we each have our own single room (which, I should add, we both find much nicer than anything we had in the Minnesota dorms), along with three other American roommates whom we share two bathrooms and a kitchen/lounge with. Space in the fridge is tight, and you have to literally fold your body in half in the shower to shave your legs, but other than that it's pretty nice!

Drury Lane

We got very lucky in that where we live is quite centrally located. Covent Garden, Trafalgar Square, King's Cross Station, and Shoreditch are all only a 20 minute walk away. I'm a sucker for street performers, so I keep finding myself wandering around and ending up in Covent Garden where there are usually at least three different shows at any given moment.  

Acts that require help from cute little kids are obviously the best

Last weekend we went off with our roommates and friends to check out Camden Market and Primrose Hill while the weather was still nice and sunny. We had the BEST falafels we've ever had. No joke.

Delicious Dutch nutella & strawberry mini pancakes in the making. While queueing up for these I struck up conversation with the people next to me and found out that their mom lives a block away from our apartment in Cairo! Small world.

Camden Lock

The view from Primrose Hill

It took a bit of convincing to get everyone to haul themselves, full from the delicious market food, all the way up Primrose Hill, but the view at the top was definitely worth it. An added bonus: on the way over to the hill, well known British comedian Russell Howard walked right past us! First celeb sighting down!

Jackie and I also took a little journey down to Brick Lane the other day to see HAIM perform at the Rough Trade East store. I had run into the three Haim sisters on the escalators of Euston Station a few days prior after a day trip to visit my Great Aunt and family in Berkhamsted (second celebrity sighting, check!), and it was the push I needed to say 'screw it' to my sleep schedule and wake up at 6 am to go to Rough Trade and snatch a wristband for Jackie and me to watch the show the next day.

How Jackie and I get to school everyday

It's hard to capture HAIM doing anything but whipping their hair back 'n' forth
The HAIM show was short and sweet, although in the following album signing, the Haim girls remembered me when I introduced myself as 'the girl that screeched at you on the escalator.' Booyah.

Don't worry, we've been doing ~*~educational~*~ things too. Besides classes, we've been enriching our minds by checking out some old stuff. Thanks to the British Museum being free and awesome, we've already made a few journeys there. The photo above shows the Gayer-Anderson Cat, which is one of the museum's 100 most popular objects. Fun fact: Major R.J. Gayer-Anderson, the man who donated the cat, is my paternal grandmother's second cousin. Where's my VIP pass to the museum, dude?

The ceiling of the museum atrium is like, super cool

The Crouching Aphrodite, forever staring you down

Here's a bonus picture found at my Great Aunt's house that probably also belongs in a museum: a snap of my dad (Steven) and his siblings back in the day! Hardly recognized him with hair and without a scarf...

Lastly, here's another awesome adventure I took, although without Jackie this time, instead accompanied by a local family friend, Naomi. Naomi and her neighbour switch off going to the Columbia Road Flower Market in Shoreditch each Sunday, buying each other flowers to brighten their homes for the week.  

The market was crowded, loud, and almost impossible to weave through without getting a flower in the face. But therein lay the charm of it all. When not being yelled at by florists trying to get us to pick their deal over their neighbour's, we walked around the little side streets and checked out vintage clothing, antique stalls, and food stands. I also saw my first crazy person there. Welcome to London!

Leaving with a bouquet in hand, I'm glad to say my room felt much brighter, and smelled better, as a result. I will definitely be back before the weather freezes everything up!

So there it is in a nutshell: the first three weeks.

For everyone missing us back at home (c'mon, you know you do!), here is just a lil note just for you:



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