Thursday, May 24, 2012

I'm in London!

It's 11 pm here, and I don't know when I last slept or really what day it is or what exactly is going on...but I'm in London, and I LOVE IT.

Our flight left Dulles later than expected due to the storms, but it wasn't bad at all. I sat next to an awesome lady in probably her 40's who had the coolest accent (a mix of a dad from Trinidad and a mom from England). She was cracking up at all of us students because we were sitting around her, and it was so much fun talking to her. Two of the girls sat in front of me, and two were across the aisle, and my roommate was a few rows back from us all, but it was so nice having all of us together on the flight!

The flight went well overall...we got supper (mine was a weird vegetarian curry that I didn't like at all, so I didn't really eat much), I didn't sleep hardly at all and couldn't get comfortable for more than like five minutes which was horrible, I watched "The Vow" and got a complimentary glass of white wine which was fun and super exciting, and a toddler had a seizure and got really sick which was scary and freaky and definitely eventful!

We landed in London about 7:30 ish. There was a super long line to get through the border patrol, and it was RIDICULOUSLY hot and sweaty in there. Anyone who wants to convince London that air conditioning really is a good idea, be my guest! We would all appreciate it greatly. None of us had problems getting through, which was great, and Professor Greene (or Rusty, as we all call him) was there with his two daughters to meet us!

We took a big charter bus (just for the few of us) to Madison House where we are staying, and it was about an hour's drive. It was annoying stop and go traffic but it was fun seeing the sights, even though I was really ready for sleep and food.

We arrived at Madison House (pics will come eventually) and had some time before we had our orientation meeting, so we crashed for a quick nap. We have flats, and there are five floors. Mine is one flight up from ground level, which is really nice and convenient. I share my room with Amanda, who I knew through mutual friends, and love already!

desks between my bed and Amanda's
Our flat has a room with the girl who is our RA, and another room that two girls share, two full bathrooms, a kitchen area, and a living room with couches and desks. It's way more than I expected! There were exactly enough hangers in my little wardrobe for all the clothes I had, which was perfect. We have twin beds, a little nightstand with some drawers, and a wardrobe each!

my bed before we unpacked!
We had an orientation meeting and lunch (sandwiches, chips, and fruit from Pret which were AWESOME). Learned lots of information that I don't really remember, and then we had a few hours to do whatever we wanted before a group outing. We unpacked and put up pictures on our bulletin boards and then met at 3:30 for a group adventure!

We each were assigned a street in the West End (one of five "fingers" and were given a sort of scavenger hunt to lead us through the street toward the end goal of the National Theater where we all met back up. We stopped at a great little bakery along the way, but I didn't get anything as I still haven't found an atm (or really been looking) so I can change money over. We crossed Hungerford Footbridge and finally got to see Big Ben and the London Eye from afar and take some pictures, and it finally felt like we really were in London.

stopping along the Hungerford Footbridge
There was a really cool book/art sale under a bridge by the National Theater that we loved exploring too. We got snacks (lemon crunch cake for me) at the National Theater and relaxed for a bit and then left from there to explore more, with Rusty leading us and stopping at various points along the way to tell us about the sights.

Our route took us along the south side of the Thames River, stopping to see the modern new skyline of The City of London, by the Globe Theater (where we saw other people we knew that are here on a different JMU trip!), and across the Millenium Bridge to St. Paul's Cathedral, then down for our first ride on the tube to take us back near Madison House for dinner at wagamama, a delicious asian place where I got an awesome vegetarian noodle dish and a great fruit juice drink!

The Globe Theater (not original location)

walking across Millenium Bridge toward St. Paul's Cathedral

Tower Bridge

St. Paul's Cathedral

All16  of us ended the night at a local pub, which was so much fun. We mostly got flavored ciders and shared stories and had a blast...a total success of a first day/night in London!
our table! half of the whole group

Off to bed to try to beat this jetlag once and for early to the Tower of London in the morning!

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