Saturday, June 9, 2012

Productive Day/ Travel to Edinburgh!

Thursdays=free days!

Slept in (not really), got my reading done for Culture By Design, did my quiet time, and when the group was all awake and ready to go, we headed out to a local farmer's market.

The market was at the University of London in a little open courtyard space, and I got a yummy cheddar and leek quiche at a vegetarian stand and some AWESOME super fresh apple juice that was the best thing I've ever had to drink in my life... so good.

It started to pour while we were there (not loving this typical gloomy, rainy, cold London weather...), and of course my umbrella broke yesterday so that was fun. We headed to the Cartoon Museum where we had to do a self-guided exploring of sorts for our Media and Politics class. It was a tiny little place but it was jam packed of awesome cartoons and sketches from hundreds of years ago to today.

We went back to Madison House afterward and Amanda and I watched two documentaries- Helvetica and Objectified. One was for class, and the other one was just because I'm a graphic design and font nerd- I loved them both! Definitely recommend watching them. After, I got a TON of work done for school- wrote a media analysis paper, wrote my blog post for my solo class, etc. My group for Society met up and did some of our group work, got distracted by a "time I studied abroad in London" tumblr, etc. Packed for Edinburgh, crashed early!


Up and out of the house by eight to be at the train station to leave for Scotland! My seat was one of four around a table, two facing the other two with a table in between. Trains are awesome, I seriously love being able to see everything about where we're going, and to get there faster! It's great.

The scenery was absolutely BEAUTIFUL. I was just listening to hymns and worship music and Phil Wickham's "Beautiful" came on, and it was so perfect. Everything was so pure and green and simple and just so breathtaking. I was so mesmerized the whole time- I couldn't stop staring out the window and just thanking God for the creation He has made and for how incredible it is. So awesome. It was the best four hours of the trip- so peaceful and just such a good time for me to reflect and pray and just be in my own little world.


I'll update later with adventure since we've been here in Edinburgh!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I saw the Royal Family.

I'm horrible at doing this every single night. Ohhhh well. That means I'm busy living life, right? Yeah.

So. Yesterday was Tuesday. Woke up at 5:15 am. Left the house at 6:15 am (it was already sunny and bright out...weird. London sun stays up SUPER late and apparently wakes up super early too!). There were 7 of us that actually made it up that early, and we headed to the tube to get as close to Buckingham Palace as we could get for the Jubilee parade!

We got there about 7ish or so and found a spot RIGHT up against the gates that were lining the street that led to the front of the palace. People had been camping out, there were tents and people everywhere, even that early in the morning. Insanity. I'm so glad we got there when we did and were able to spread out and claim our spot!

The parade wasn't starting until 2:20pm, so we had TONS of time to kill. Most of us brought books for school, I read and people watched, we went off in shifts to walk back towards the tube station to get lunch (sandwiches and snacks from a grocery store), and we chatted with the awesome people around us!

Time moved really quickly actually, and I had a lot of fun. We learned our lesson after the floatilla and were wearing tons of layers...I was so bundled up! Of course, it wasn't as cold and it didn't rain at all, but I was comfortable all day which was awesome!

Marching bands went past at various points throughout the day, in full regalia and looking so impressive. It was fun to see things throughout the day!

The Royals all left Buckingham Palace in the morning in their cars to go to the service that was being held in St. Paul's Cathedral (I think?), so we were able to see them! First up close and personal sighting, even though they were in cars, and we FREAKED.

Prince Harry

Kate and William


The service was played over speakers where we were, which was really cool. It was awesome to hear the prayers and messages that were being given for the Queen to honor her, and it was just straight up cool hearing all the people around us saying the Lord's Prayer together in unison. Awesome.

After many hours of waiting, tons of horses came through, and then the carriages carrying all the royals! SO MUCH EXCITEMENT. I was frantically just trying to take as many pictures as possible while simultaneously freaking out and screaming super loud! It's all a blur, and it kept hitting me throughout the rest of the day that I really did see them all that close. Insane.

queen queen queen

hi :)

hellllllo kate, will, and harry!

the masses

 Best. Day. Ever.

We got back and relaxed/crashed, had our weekly meeting talking about our upcoming weekend at Edinburgh, and Amanda and I watched Princess Diaries to end our day!

Today (Wednesday), I had my solo class in the morning. I cannot explain how much I love this class and it being just me. It's such a unique experience. My professor is so knowledgeable and I'm getting the opportunity to just soak up everything she says. We've been discussing Habermas and his writings on the public sphere, and I'm finding it SO interesting and so relevant. It's awesome.

We had a ten minute break halfway through, which was so great. I needed a break from all the intensity of just digging into the information, so it was good. We're adapting to the differences of just having me in the class, and it's really cool.

Our outing was to Covent Garden, and Rusty came with us. I'm sure it looked funny to people that saw us- they probably seemed like my parents or something! Oh well. Our conversations were just so rich and deep and I love just absorbing all the things that were being said, as well as contributing my perspective. So great. I can't talk enough about how excited I am about it all!

We saw the Actors Church in Covent Garden and I realized there was SO much more to Covent Garden than I've seen so far! It's a whole awesome place and I only saw one tiny part of it, so I'm really excited to go back and explore more!

We ended at the Charles Dickens Coffee House, where Dickens used to live and write. SO cool. We had a lot of awesome conversation over cappuccinos and hot chocolates...I'll post more about it on my class blog! (

After class, Amanda and I went to the Post Office- ridiculously long lines, and SUPER expensive for stamps. So annoying and put me in the worst mood! Spending money sucks. I had no idea how much money I would be spending, and it's driving me crazy seeing it go so fast.

We grabbed sandwiches, ate them, bought newspapers to have the pictures from yesterday, and came back to the flat. I tried to read some of my assignment for Politics and promptly fell dead asleep for a few hours. So sleep deprived.

Went to dinner with Griffin and Ian at a place nearby, got a really good veggie burger and an awesome dessert of lemon sorbet in a frozen hollowed out lemon! Came back and while most of the group was at their play for the theatre class, I was super productive on a lot of little things. Hooray.

Free day tomorrow- aka get more stuff done day!

Monday, June 4, 2012

JUBILEE Floatilla!

Yesterday (Sunday, June 3) was the first of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee events! Some of the girls in our group decided to wake up early and go to the River Thames to get a spot to see the floatilla, but we didn't want to deal with all the madness all day for something we didn't care about THAT much, so we waited til about lunch time to go.

FYI...the floatilla is defined as:

The Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant: This event took place on the Thames and consisted of up to 1,000 boats assembled from across the UK, the Commonwealth and around the world. The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh travelled in the Royal Barge which formed the centrepiece of the flotilla. 

We (me, Amanda Mey, Liz, Nora, Beth, Marisa, and Kelly) left about 12 to take the tube to get close to the Thames to try to find a spot. We knew there were going to be big viewing screens set up where we could watch the action, so we were planning on doing that. The tube was crazy, but we made it there fine. We stopped and picked up Pret and kept going towards the river. We ended up finding a spot that wasn't crowded at all and was next to the big bus thing that held up the screen, and it was nice to not be totally surrounded by people and to have a little blockage from the wind.

It was FREEZING outside and rained off and on all day and was pretty miserable weather...but we stuck it out and were thankful for the layers we had even though we were wishing for more!


We saw all the royals arrive on the screens and everyone went WILD and it was so exciting! It was so surreal to be in London, seeing the Queen and Will and Kate and Harry and everyone on the screen knowing that we weren't that far away from them...SO SURREAL. And awesome.

Will and Kate arriving!

Kate socializing


Hi Queen

Royal Barge

view of the river

Royal Barge coming in from the right

We had about three hours before the flotilla would pass by our spot on the river (between the Waterloo Bridge and another smaller bridge), but it was fun to people watch and watch the footage on the screen of the Queen's life.

Royal Barge
The floatilla started with rowing boats and smaller boats, then the Royals' Barge, and then a variety of boats and ships came after that. We stayed until the Royals passed us by, took whatever pictures we could from jumping up in the air and hoping for it to be in focus! I was absolutely FREEZING and tired and just ready to be warm and curled up in bed.

so. many. people.

Most of the group had left to try to find a closer spot, so Kelly and I were on our own to head back. There were TONS of people trying to leave at the same time, but things moved pretty well and we were able to get through pretty easily. The tubes were closed and we didn't even want to attempt them, so we walked all the way back in the cold rain, but it wasn't totally awful.

I'm so glad I ended up going...I had debated not dealing with it since I was worried the crowds and everything would be too much for me and I would have an anxiety attack, but it really wasn't bad at ALL and it was so worth it! It was cool to know I saw the boat where all the royals were, which basically means I saw them!

After we got back, we had about an hour and then Amanda and I were off to church at HILLSONG. Seriously, so unreal. They have church at the Dominion Theatre which is like a five minute walk from Madison House, and we were greeted by girls our age as soon as we walked in, and they talked to us for a while and invited us to sit with them. It was instantly like I was more at home in London, knowing I had a community and a place to worship and find other Christians that live here!

We walked in and it was INCREDIBLE with all the lights and the screens and everything. Worship was completely everything you would expect worship at Hillsong to be- it was so on fire and so energetic and just perfect. It was incredible to be able to just worship freely and know that I was surrounded by other believers at this awesome church I've always heard so much about and grown up worshipping to. So cool.

There was an awesome collaboration of dance and music and the national anthem and God Save The Queen that was SO cool and such an awesome experience. At one part during it, there was a video clip playing of the Queen so boldly proclaiming her faith, and it made me SO excited. I had no idea her faith was as strong as it is, and it was so awesome to hear her talking about Jesus Christ from a national program. Made me so much more in love with her!

After the dance and everything, the church as a whole prayed over the Queen. I honestly was so floored by it- I couldn't get over how the church came together as a whole, whether they like or support the Queen or anything, and prayed over her and her role as a worldwide and national leader. How different could our country look if all of our churches boldly prayed for our President and national leaders in worship? If we prayed for their faith, that they would lead godly lives and lead in a godly way, the Spirit would move so powerfully through that. Awesome job, Hillsong. I am so impressed.

Best day EVER. Jubilee and the Queen and Hillsong. Nothing can top this!

Today, Monday, Amanda and I went to the British Museum to do our self-guided tour since classes are cancelled for the Bank Holidays this week. It was huge and full of awesome stuff, but I wasn't too thrilled about it, and we kind of hit the highlights. We got lunch (that wasn't good at all) at a new little place a street over from the house, stopped for some groceries, bought a collector's edition of The Daily Telegraph that has INCREDIBLE pictures from yesterday in it, and then came back to nap and do homework.

The Jubilee Concert is on tv on BBC now, and most of us have been watching it all night! We're off SUPER early tomorrow to try to get seats by the Buckingham Palace to see the parade go by with all the Royals more close up and personal! I'm so excited. Praying for better weather though!

I'm loving being here to experience London like this during all the hype of this jubilee. So good. Once in a lifetime experience, and I'm not taking any of it for granted!