Travel

Barcelona, Espana

Barcelona was fantastic because we let it be.  I guess you just have to decide what you want out of your travels.  So much of life can be made up of your mindset, who you’re with, and who you meet.  Also, Barcelona is not the safest city, but if you play it smart it’s easy to have a killer time.

11 Americans left their flat in London many hours and modes of transportation for about 8+ hours of commuting.  Leslie and I stayed in a wonderful 20something-friendly youth hostel. Some of the guys stayed with Nick’s friend and everyone else stayed in a straight laced bed-locker-breakfast hostel.  We really enjoyed our place because it was super chill and there were travelers from all over the world, and music was playing during the day, breakfast came with NUTELLA, free internet in the lounge area, and we met some really crazy and fun guys from Bristol.

Las Ramblas: the first day
We begun the trip by walking around the main city street: Las Ramblas.  There were lots of restaurants and street performers. Leslie and I toured outside the beautiful gothic catherdral and really enjoyed the architecture.  Every 10 minutes, “we’re in SPAIN!”  It was a little colder than we expected, but survivable.  We stumbled upon manuscripts that were hundreds of years old. Being in Europe is making everything I learned from Medieval Art History back to me.  I am much wiser at appreciating architecture and religious artifacts, I suppose.  They have more significance to me than “book with drawing.” That night we actually ended up getting pizza with the big group and proceeded to nap. Somewhere inbetween I began the first lot of socialising with the travelers in our youth hostel.  There was a group of 3 guys from Bristol who had been there all week.

Looking for nightlife
I had been feeling a bit cramped by London (which is silly because Barca is much smaller) and overwhelmed by Americans actually.  We attempted to hit up the nightlife that the city is known for.  We found a few places to go out, but that night we mostly kept to our group.  Don’t tell mom and dad, but we needed Alan to walk us back to the hostel, considering the small gathering of ‘ladies’ on the street.

Soaking in sights of Spain
Leslie and I woke up bright an early to make it for the breakfast that included cereal, juice, bread (jam, butter or NUTELLA!)  We had a wonderful leisurely breakfast and met a darling couple (our age) from Rome.  They were so cute and we loved talking to them.  We encouraged them to go on a pubcrawl tha was later in the evening.  Leslie and I met up with the group and made our way to the gorgeous harbor on the Mediterranean sea.  We saw some of the shopping in the area. Between the our delicious Paella and evening siesta, we took a group trip north of the city.  We saw some of Gaudi’s famous architecture including La Pedrera.  As a broke students, we decided not to pay the charge and enjoyed it from the outside.

Pub Crawl
The pub crawl was fantastic.  There were people our age from a few different hostels and from every corner.  For a terribly reasonable flat fee, we went to 4 pubs and a disco–all drinks included.  Honestly, I met more Londoners that weekend than I have in England (which is near none).   As expected, we were out all night and had the most fantastic night possible.  It was perfect.

Bittersweet Goodbyes
The next (very sleepy) morning, we stumbled to breakfast then to checkout.  It was our plan to see a light and sound exhibit with our Bristol friends, but they were more dead from the night than us.  So we said bye to our ‘Roman’ friends and other cool people we met and set off with our backpacks for the last day.

The learned traveller
It was the plan to go to the free picasso museum.  Limited time, long cues, and tired brains sent us to the chocolate museum instead!  We shared a sipping chocolate and lady fingers.  It was perfection.  We camped out the Arc de Triumph and people watched for about two hours.  Going to Barcelona helped me get out of my rut and renew my lost positive energy.  The honeymoon period had ended at our flat and weirdly enough I think we all needed a vacation. Unfortunately, a wallet got taken (and found), a bag got stolen, ATM cards not working and some flights almost missed.  I guess that’s part of traveling and learning to prepare better.  I wish everyone could have had a glorious time.

I’m better because of it, and my first day back was the best day yet.
The best part: feeling photosynthetic.  Totally rejuvenated by seeing the sun.  I could not stop smiling all day today.  I remember why I wanted to come here and how amazing it really is.  It’s so sad that I forgot. Moreso, I am remembering how important a diversity of people in my life is.  I went to Camden street (a younger funkier? area) today and met some pretty cool friendly guys who work at a coffee shop there.  They were also sitting with a girl, NAMED NINA, from Dublin.  We all chatted for over an hour or so.  We were all about the same age, and just talked about life, where we were going, what we were doing, music, travelling, and just what brought us all to that table at that moment.  THIS is what I am here for.  That’s life my friends.  I’m glad I opened my mind back up, it was getting crowded in that head of mine.
Amigos from Barcelona Mar:
Laura and Ricardo: Rome, Italy
Brad, Gavin, and friend: near Bristol, England
Wasom, Algeria
Tall man: Melbourne, Australia
(The skater): Marseilles
David: Pennsylvania
(Complaining Girl): Isreal
Language Studies: girl, Alabama
Macho guys: Minnesota and Alaska

Journalism, London, Travel

Tony Blair, Foreign Press Association, Political Scandal and ME!

I just came back from the Foreign Press Association’s morning briefing in Downing Street. It was led Tony Blair’s official spokesperson, Tom Kelly. I was brought along by a colleague at the internship I am doing while in London. And Yes, BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson (and probably more journalist/celebs than I even knew) were in the same cozy room of no more than 20 people.

Blair already announced he will step down, which is a first for British Politics. Since they don’t go up for re-elections so it’s interesting to compare Blair and Bush while at the end of a term. Not to mention the Metropolitan police are questioning the Prime Minister. I was warned that sometimes the FPA briefings can be dull, boring, and sometimes very quick. But lucky for me I was at the same meeting that all the political reporters needed to be at! By the time we walked back to the office, the story was already online.

From our news website, epolitix.com:
Police question Blair for second time. Tony Blair was questioned by police as a witness for a second time last week. His official spokesman said the prime minister was interviewed in connection with the ‘cash-for-honours’ row, but not under caution.

London, Music

Going to the movies alone

One of the most exciting parts about coming to London was for the music. Unfortunately, I haven’t met too many people who listen to the same stuff as me. I used to always say that I would kill to go see Massive Attack or Four Tet, but they never play in the States. Frustrated that I would be missing their shows, I decided I’m not going to.

A pretty cool co-worker of mine who’s been in London for 10 years (from Seattle), gave me the final push. So, I bought a (really cheap!) ticket to see Four Tet and Steve Reid at the end of March. Theres a mild possibleyeity that some I may not have to go it alone, but doubtful.

During the past half month, I’ve been whining “this is not why I’m here.” So, that’s the end of it. I will do things that I want to do while I’m here. I’m sorry I waited so long and never bought Air tickets, now I know.  I’m sorry that it seems to be the first time in forever that Massive Attack isn’t performing (minus a benefit concert that was sold out immediately, and well before I left for England).
Also, I have really wonderful coworkers who really want me to get something out of my internship. I’m already writing an article because someone insisted I get my name published in the Magazine. It’s a 500 word piece about the health of Britishers in North East England. Hey, it’s a start. I’m getting a push from another side to interview an MP. Eek, I don’t know if I’m ready for that yet. He assured me that I’ve got 3 months yet. Weird.

London

Academia

Well, classes are easy, plain and simple. I am registered in 4 classes officially.

  • One class IS my internship and I also have to write a 30 page research paper related to my work.
  • Working in the UK: which I have every Wednesday evening after work with all the other interns. Last week we watched part of the British office and were quizzed on British politics. The prize? A bottle of champagne.
  • Modern British Politics: my teacher is a wealth of knowledge and a wonderful resource. The course will not be terribly taxing and just requires a paper and some exams. Today we had a field trip to the Imperial War Museum. The Holocaust exhibition was fantastic. Oh, and my teacher took us out for tea and cakes at the museum! So cute!
  • International Political Organisations: This is the one class I have with British students. They happen to be freshmen and are lucky if they make it to class at all. I have a presentation this Monday, then just a paper and exam.

All in all, it won’t be too bad I don’t think. I can’t imagine what it would be like without the internship, because classes can be kind of a downer. Peter recently arrived in Austria and Annamarie in Rome. It’s a big European adventure!

I’m hoping to get my plans for Indianapolis set for summer. I found out Alec will be there, so I am glad I’ll have a buddy. Also, I am totally hooked on watching The Office (American). I’m glad I get classes overwith on Mondays because I don’t think I would enjoy working thay day.

Sorry again that the YouTube videos have delayed sound, poor video (sorry Val!), and have to be linked. I’m having problems with my digital camera anyhow. This weekend I said “Cheers” for the first time!

London

London Cooling

t snowed today, a few inches.. nothing horrible. But my room mate from LA, who goes to school in NC is buggin out. It’s 75 degrees for her at home.

It was hard for me to explain that having snow means it’s at least above freezing. Anyhow, the English have an obsession with discussing weather*, then discussing how much they despise the Tube because of it.

Anyway, I’ve gotta get to work, and later trudge through the slush to get to Parliament. See ya!

*Studies show, discussing precipitation causes tooth decay.

London

By Chance

Photos updated in Westminster, Tate Modern, and Londoning!

The past few days have been a little more ‘lax interrupted by some classes (+ the obnoxious hour commute and delays on the tube). Stephanie Guigou, one of the SND Interns from Florida is studying in Tourre, France this semester. We’ve been emailing and supposedly planning to get together tonight. Yesterday, I was talking over plans at City (my Univ) with my flat mates to do some touristy things while she was here.

Last night I was walking to get dinner with some friends and I figured I would try to text Stephanie but it failed. A block from the tube station, I look up and see her following my directions to the flat. Bewildered and surprised, we compare notes on how this happened, and broke off from the group. After dinner in SoHo, she came back to my flat to pick out some London hot spots for tomorrow. We totally geeked out and had a big design talk. It was glorious to see her, hopefully tonight will be a little more organized and equally fabulous!

However registering for our classes, offline was pure chaos. All of the students running about a large conference room getting class approvals signed, and had to make schedules match and courses transfer. I’m pretty sure there’s a Saved By the Bell episode where they choose colleges like this. WHERE IS THE INTERNET?USA

I am taking all Political Science classes. I guess this is good, you know, so I can graduate, and they are interesting courses from a different perspective. But there are so many fun art classes and courses offered at the London School of Fashion. It will be good for my internship though and I have a lot of resources there.

Monday: Class from 11am to 5pm
Tuesday: Internship 9:30 to 5:30
Wednesday: Internship 9:30 to 5:30, Class 6pm to 9pm
Thursday: Internship 9:30 to 5:30
Friday: Free
Saturday: Free
Sunday: Free

In case of emergency break glassAfter registration a few of us wandered to a small gallery where Banksy, Jamie Hewlett (Gorillaz), and Standley Donwood (Radiohead, Hail to the Theif art) has been featured.

Today was the opening day for Ben Turnbull’s U.S. vs Them exhibition. I found some of the pieces very compelling and all terribly anti-American. Politically, it has been very inspiring to be an American the past few weeks. I was prepared for negative and/or hostile attitudes to the Americans. But even aside from Bush, the War on Terror, Iraq I am finding that the perspective is hugely shaped by television and loud American foreigners on the Tube.

For some, there is a genuine perception that our families are like the Simpsons, the teens behave like the characters from the O.C., and the moms like on Desperate Housewives. How awful.

London

Interview Review

I almost got blown away via wind and umbrella Marry Poppins style!

Aside from weather mishaps, I had a good interview experience.  The office is just across the river and Parliament, the view is glorious.  Everyone I met was very enjoyable, as was the environment/atmosphere.  It seems like there are infinite opportunities and I am going to learn and grow so much from working here.

I’ll be working on InDesign on a PC.  I learned today Quark is the Euro software of choice, eek. They put out more than a few magazines and a newspaper.  I really could go on and on, but I’ll save you the trouble and affirm that it feels like a wonderful fit (I think they like me too!).
I predict it will be hard to leave after April.  Once classes begin (Monday), the semester is also going to blow by–Marry Poppins style.  I remember to hang on for the ride.  That’s all I got for now.  Signing off with a smile…

London

urban planning

Tate Modern Photos

A perfect city day! We awoke at about 7:45 to get to ‘lecture’ at 10am. Our quick lecture at City (University) mostly prepped us for our interviews in the coming week. After that we had our personal appointments to get directions and more specific information about our jobs. I’m interviewing tomorrow and am most glad that Westminster is my tube stop :)

After class a small group gathered and tubed to the Tate Modern (art museum). It was really quite wonderful and very fulfilling. I think Val and Jami especially would have enjoyed it, no doubt. Not to mention there were works by Pollock, Miro, Picasso, Monet (yes, the Lillypads), and Mattisse like it was no big deal. Seriously. And. The Tate Modern is ENORMOUS. Just to mention.
A blessing in disguise, we didn’t get to enjoy the whole museum so we have to go back. Most importantly, we need to return there to ride down the 5 story slides that run through the center of the Tate. I can’t wait to go back!!

We split up and planned to meet again at Notting Hill. However, “signal failures” at Embankment slowed us down at Westminster. By this time in the evening, it had been a long day. Transfers later we made it to Notting Hill and met the girls at the grocery store. Shopping for good deals, planning our shared meals, and remembering everything has to be carried a few stops through the tube, I finally have real food!

I think Londoners have numb feet. My muscles and feet are less sensitive to the trekking, but on our walk to the flat I joked, “I wish there was a hot meal waiting for us. That WILL NOT happen.” But of course, our dear friends from flat 2 made pasta, salad, and warm garlic bread. One deep nap later, here I am.

commute, school, commute, Tate, commute, grocery, commute, dinner, nap, blogging. good day! I’m going to make a mild attempt to write a paper tonight. Interview tomorrow, though. eek!

Oh. Grosses chip flavors EVER.  That’s right, Prawn Cocktail and Lamb&Mint.
Gross Chips

London

Duffy was right!

I’m up a belt loop. All the walking is another reason to love London.

London

Norwich, England (and some photogs)

The weekend in Norwich was pretty good. My host family was wonderful and I shared a room with Katie, another girl from our flat. We were fed full, hearty, delicious meals and got to enjoy the town. Some of the structured events were more frustrating than interesting or educational. I’m pretty glad it was a weekend event instead of a semester. It’s good to be back at the flat. Half the group went to Norwich and the other to Peterburough. I missed them. But all in all we had a good time.

Photos:
Norwich, England

Orientation Week

Victoria & Albert Museum

Videos (sorry the sound is still delayed):

Crazy Dancing Man in Norwich

Victoria and Albert Lights Exhibit

Vlog 2.0, the end of this one is the coolest part
2.1 Continued
2.2 Continued,
short vid, showing the music/color intensity
2.3 Continued