Yeah so I think last week was my thirteenth week of studying abroad. I’m having a hard time keeping track. The time just doesn’t seem to flow normally here, but that’s life.
During the weekdays, my week consisted of basically eating and sleeping in between practicing for the upcoming dance with Lucky Fish. I’m not going to complain though. I really enjoy doing this. Sydney and I keep talking about starting up a kpop dance club back at Taylor when we get back. We can use this and our last performance as our credentials. That and my growing obsession with kpop itself—because I already don’t have enough obsessions. Tuesday’s class was interesting because I expected everyone to either make sudden reappearances because our final portfolios are due soon or to not be there at all because it was the week after break. Apparently, it was the latter. It’s their grade or “marks.” Wednesday we celebrated Mackenzie’s birthday so we got her a cookie cake with pink, strawberry icing. Everyone watched Anne of Green Gables, but Sydney and I had to leave though because we had to go practice. It was delicious cookie cake though. Thursday was emotionally whiplash-y because I was studying frantically for a Japanese test that, evidently, I had written down wrong in my planner and didn’t exist. A few weeks back, the professor rearranged some of the things in our schedule and I guess I forgot to change it. All I had was the word “ASSESSMENT” in all caps scratched menacingly in my planner so I studied in a panic. I was getting super frustrated because I couldn’t figure out what the imaginary test was going to be over. The professor posted some review worksheets which were for the final at the end of the semester so I just did them. It turns out those worksheets were what we ended up doing that class which made me feel like a boss when I was able to whip out completed pages when she was passing them out in class. The good thing was that I was able to get a lot of my questions answered about things I was stumped on. Also that day, our church rented out a room in this Indian restaurant nearby and had a group dinner. I haven’t really had Indian food much before so it was all relatively new to me. All I knew was there was this really nice Indian boy who lived in my neighborhood and who was friends with me and my brother and it all smelled like his house. I was sitting with Charnell, Julia, as well as two other girls named Yeony and Michelle. Yeony is Korean but lives in China and has started to come to church with us. Michelle is German and is staying with Norma and Richard (the nice couple who a few weeks back invited us to their house for dinner and regularly host students in their house). It was a rather diverse group so conversation was a little awkward at first, but we found a common ground in a hilarious topic: kpop. See? Bringing everyone together! Friday, I went to London again with Yuka, the sweet Japanese girl I’ve mentioned before in some of my other blog posts, and Sydney. So…I continued my little travel log in my phone. Here you go!
- Sydney and I met up with Yuka-chan around noon, and we got to the train station without any excitement. This was my third time going to London. The first was with Sydney, Charnell, Julia, and Oppa; the second was with the Spice Girls for just two hours or so before we got on the train to Paris; and this time was with Sydney and Yuka-chan for a grand total of three!
- We checked into our hostel immediately which was nice because that meant we didn’t have to walk around long with our backpacks. Although it wasn’t like we were carrying the amount of stuff we were when on Easter break. That and the hostel was only 2 minutes from Kings Cross Station.
- Truthfully, my backpack only felt a little lighter than it did when I went on Easter break, but that wa because I tried to attempt to keep up a normal standard of hygiene. It still kind of haunts me how quickly and in what ways my standards of personal cleanliness plummeted while living out of a backpack for weeks on end.
- Anyway, the hostel was interesting because you can hear the underground from inside the room. It wasn’t like Elwood’s apartment in the Blues Brothers or anything, but it was a rumbling you could clearly hear. It didn’t keep me up considering that the maintenance yard is right by my window at YSJ.
- After we were settled, we then went to go to find Her Majesty’s Theatre (not to be confused with the Queen’s Theatre). After some shaky navigation on my part, we found it, and we passed this really cool Japanese market/food place. Guess where we ate? And it wasn’t that expensive. I got a pork bun and a red bean bun and six tuna maki. You eat the buns like they’re burgers which is odd because you often go into eating Japanese food thinking you must need chopsticks for everything. Yuka explained that the buns are technically Chinese, but they’re a popular food in Japan. I’ve had red bean before in the anko that I’ve had at Yo Sushi. This was different because it was warm and surrounded by bread. I thought it tasted even better than the anko. The maki sushi was fabulous too. とてもおいしかった!
- Then we went to see The Phantom of the Opera. It was awesome! The guy playing the Phantom was really good at making him really creepy. And he was awesome at singing too! So good!
- Then we went back to the hostel.
- The walls of that hostel were so thin. While I didn’t so much mind the sound of the underground going by, the other people were really loud. Maybe it was that it was easy to forget there are other people around when you have you’re own, private room? Sleep was kinda rough.
- That morning, after a mandatory Costa’s breakfast, we went to Baker’s street. It cost ten pounds to actually go inside 221B so we didn’t, but we did go inside the gift shop. I got a tiny box shaped like a violin case and inside there was a little mini violin. This will be an unusual addition to my box collection because it will have something inside it. Yuka pointed out that it was the perfect size for the ninja.
- Then we went to the shop right next door where they sell Beatles memorabilia. We each got a pair of colored sunglasses to wear for our next stop—Abby Road.
- Getting a picture on Abby Road was a bit like Frogger because there was no light or anything to stop the traffic, but there are always tourists there who want to take a picture in the middle of the road. So it was run and pause at your own peril. There was this family there from New York or something who were absolutely hilarious. They were really loud but nice and all brought suit coats to match the ones the Beatles had. We took a picture of them and they took our picture.
- Then we went to Paddington station. We took pictures next to the statue of Paddington Bear and went into the gift shop. I got a shop-exclusive bag (according to the shop lady) there for Mom.
- We then shopped at the huge market in Nottinghill. We ate there too at a tiny coffeeshop and I had an almond croissant that tasted very much like the dough of the Christmas cookies I make with my family every year. It was heavenly.
- As we walked to places, we practiced Japanese with Yuka. I was able to practice a little of what we were learning in class because we’re talking about giving directions so I tried a little at saying which way we should go as we wandered around the city from destination to destination. My teacher would have been proud.
- The hostel was particularly restless that night. I woke up and thought that it must have been 8 am because of how much noise other people were making but it was actually only 4 am!
- It was funny because during the time that I couldn’t sleep all I could think about was going to Japan. It was a little unappreciative of me probably because I was in London thinking about how I wanted to go to Japan. I guess I’m never satisfied, hu? Yuka keeps saying that Sydney and I need to go to Japan, and I really wish I could. Maybe someday the brave, little ninja can go to Japan? Maybe after I graduate? If I don’t have a job lined up, I can drown my misery in authentic soba. I’d have lots of motivation to job hunt once I got back because I would have no money after that, but I’ll have been to Japan so life’s hardships can bite me.
- When my alarm did go off I was relieved that I was apparently able to fall asleep again. Sydney and I checked out of the hostel but Yuka didn’t because she is staying one extra day. There was a little drama in the room next to ours. They apparently had to be kicked out because they were trying to stay longer than they paid for or something. We had to awkwardly trail behind them as they were escorted back to the reception desk. All the poor tourists by the reception who were trying to check out watched this all happen with huge eyes. I’m going to guess we only caught the tail end of that excitement and that some of the drama must have happened earlier in reception if their traumatized expressions were anything to go by.
- After breakfast (and another almond croissant), we took the tube to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London.
- It was the day of the London Half Marathon so we walked by that immediately upon exiting the tube. We got free, little flags and watched the race for a few minutes before going to the Tower.
- While were were in line to buy our tickets to get into the Tower, we ended up waiting behind a mom and her daughter. The girl looked about six years old and was intensely grilling the ticket lady about facts about the Tower. She kept asking really cute questions like, “Does the queen live here?” as well as some equally enthusiastic but far more morbid questions like, “Did anyone get their heads chopped off?” That was fun for the lady to explain.
- We got a tour guide with one of the Yeoman Wardens, and it was hilarious because he is the one posing on all the Yeoman Warden postcards, and his picture was even on the map we got representing the Yeoman Wardens so that was interesting.
- After eating over-priced fish and chips, we went and took pictures around the Tower Bridge. Then we went to Kensington Gardens and oohed at the pretty flowers. Then we went to look at Harrod’s (a big, fancy department store).
- We ate near Harrod’s so the food was a little pricy, but it was really good. I got a slice of cake that was wonderful! During dinner, Yuka explained that “brave, little ninja” in Japanese is “yuukan de, chisana ninja” (ゆうかんでちさいなにんじゃ). If I ever go to Japan, the blog posts will be called yuukan de, chisana ninja wa nihon ni ikimasu (ゆうかんで,ちさいなにんじゃはにほんにいきます) or the brave, little ninja goes to Japan! Someday, someday.
- Sadly, Sydney and I had to go back to catch our train. We said “thank you” to Yuka-chan and went to the station. We ended up getting back around one in the morning.
- I’m so glad I was able to go to London with those two! That was Yuka’s last trip before she goes back to Japan so I hope it was a good one. It was certainly memorable and very special for me! I’m going to miss her very much!
I know I’ve probably said this before, but it bears repeating: I am so blessed to go on this study abroad trip. I can’t believe all the opportunities I’ve had! And not only that, I’ve gotten to spend it with the most wonderful people. I’m so glad to have met them! Thank you, everyone, for your prayers! In all the places I’ve traveled, nothing was stolen and we always got to wherever we needed to go—even if it took us a little longer than expected. I love you all! This week is going to be lots more dancing and lots more homework. Can’t wait for Friday though! Lucky Fish for life! I’ll let you know how everything went with next Monday’s post hopefully. Looking forward to it!