Monday, October 31, 2011

Two Great Shows (really three...)

Last week was the week of theatre, because I saw three shows. "Blood Brothers", "Jerusalem" and "The Tempest". I already wrote about "Blood Brothers" in the parents post, so I'm just going to talk about the other two here.

So "Jerusalem" is a 3 hour play with two intermissions. (That's the way a three hour play should be done). So this night started off with us being late to the train, and had to run to the theatre, up the stairs...and as I sit down, the house lights went out...not the best way to start a show. The second thing I have to talk about it the set. It was INCREDIBLE! It was set in the woods, so of course you have to have trees. Now I couldn't tell if they were actually real trees, but they looked good enough. Center stage was a trailer, one of the old "silver-bullet" ones (that's the best way for me to describe it). Then there was a slab of concrete surrounded with dirt and the set was dressed to the max. So much detail was put into it. There were live chickens in a coop under the front of the trailer AND the record player turned when it was playing. I'm a tech guy, I love detail like that. But putting aside the fantastic scenery and props, the acting was just....outstanding. Mark Rylance played the lead role of Johnny "Rooster" Byron. Now, I've seen some pretty good acting, but I'm not just talking about his acting here...the energy that he put into the role was unimaginable. I still can't believe that he could perform that role twice in one day. His character kept growing and growing to the end where he just put his entire heart and soul into the character. I could go on and on about the show, but I just find myself saying the same thing over and amazed I was. Definitely worth being there for three hours and running to the theatre.

The next day, I got to see Ralph Fiennes in "The Tempest". Now, I'm not the biggest fan of "The Tempest", but I thought that the show was pretty good. But let me tell you, it was a long afternoon. This was another three hour show, but it only had one intermission. Plus we were all the way in the back (I didn't know they had audience seats this high up in a theatre) and the seats weren't really seats, they were wooden benches with a little bit of padding. So that's wasn't very fun. Plus the person in front of me was a little too tall...but eventually it was ok. They incorporated what I thought was some great lighting and decent areal work. I worked with some areal stuff in High School and saw some cool tricks, so I was totally impressed, but it was still cool. Didn't love this one, but still was a cool thing to see. For some reason everyone always wants to do weird things to "The Tempest"...but I'm not sure what else there is to do...something to think about.

So one week, three big shows all in the West End...I'm a pretty happy guy.

Mom and Dad come to London!

Alright, so this was already a week ago...and yes I'm falling behind on my blog...but it's hard to get the motivation to sit down and write a post....

So, last week my parents came to London! They were finishing up a big trip to Europe where they got to go to a lot of cool places. And since I'm in London, why not stop by on the way back?

They arrived on Sunday afternoon and I went to meet up with them at their hotel. It was so good to see them, and weird since I was seeing them in London, and not back at home. They each wanted to freshen up so I took turns spending time with them. First, my dad and I went for a walk. He needed to find a cash machine, some bottled water and what not, so we did that. We found this great little market behind the hotel. So that was pretty cool. Then we came across a pub, and decided to head in for a pint. After that, we headed back to the hotel and I switched and went down to the hotel bar to talk with my mom. Eventually, dad came downstairs and we made our way to a pub they had heard about for dinner. The food was pretty good, but really I was just happy to spend time with them. After dinner, we walked back to the hotel and I said goodnight and headed back to my flat.

The next day, Monday, I had class from 2pm - 5pm, so I wasn't going to see them until later. They had asked if I wanted to invite anyone who I was at school with so I asked my friends Tom and Steve. After class, we headed into central London to eat at an amazing Thai restaurant. This food was fantastic! And what's better than family, friends and good food? Not really anything.

Then Tuesday was an entire day with them. They had heard of a Jewish history museum in London and wanted to check it out. So we got on the tube and headed north. The museum was in Camden Town (or at least that was the name of the tube stop). It started out with the early history of European Jews before the holocaust, eventually leading into the holocaust. But instead of a giant holocaust exhibit, they had a small one focused on one mans journey through the holocaust. I have to say, it was incredibly moving to see and hear his story. It really makes it real (though, I'm not sure it topped the Holocaust Museum in Israel). We spent a little over 2 hours there, had some tea in the cafe, and then headed back towards the hotel. We were getting pretty hungry so we decided to have a late lunch as opposed to the early dinner we had planned before our show. Again, another fantastic restaurant. The portions weren't huge, but the flavor was fantastic. We enjoyed our meal and then headed back to the hotel to take naps (since the show we were going to see that night was really long). Then we headed to the tube to go get our tickets from will call. We had some time to kill before the show, so we went in and got a drink at a nearby pub. So the show, we saw a musical called "Blood Brothers". It reminded me a lot of "Bat Boy" in a weird way. The 2nd act was a little better than the 1st. Was it my favorite? No. But it was still a good show that was very funny. And again, with the London...I can't complain.

After the show, we headed back on the tube towards their hotel. I couldn't stay because I didn't want to risk missing my train back to my flat, so we had to say goodbye in the underground station. It was probably better to have it be like that, because I wouldn't have wanted to leave since I'd only spent the equivalent of two days with them. But I said my goodbyes, got on my train and headed back.

Getting to spend time with my parents while I'm here was so nice. It was timed perfectly, having been gone a little more than a month and starting to miss home a bit. But the one thing that really keeps hitting me is how lucky I am to be here. How lucky I am to have the opportunity to study in another country for 3 months AND get to travel to other parts of the world while I'm here.

So this is just the beginning of the thank you's that I'll be giving my parents...but thank you Mom and Dad. Without you, I wouldn't be able to be having this amazing experience.

I have 47 more days left here...lets make the most of it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

So many pictures

So, I took about 1,099 pictures during my time in Paris. I will try and pick a select few to put on here...but everyone will either need to look on facebook at the 256 or so that I picked for there or wait to see me when I get back and have made my photo album.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Last Day in Paris

So my last day in Paris...

Chris and I started our day by having a little breakfast in Paris. We then met up with the Italy group at the Louvre. After taking tons of pictures (because that's what we love to do) we headed north toward Montmartre, the highest point in Paris where we saw Sacre Coeur. Now, I thought Notre Dame was beautiful, but this place....literally took your breath away. The ceilings were so incredibly high. Some of the domes were painted very intricately...but the whole place was just....something out of a dream. At the end we all sat down and just looked up. After that, we made our way back to the steps, sat down, looked at the view, and listened to a guy play guitar and sing for at least an hour. He was singing a lot of popular songs and was really great with the crowd. It was truly magical sitting there. (I have some videos that I'll post when I get back to London).

After that we got some dinner and then headed to the Moulin Rouge for a quick photo. Then back to the Arc de Triumph and finally a walk down Avenue Des Champs Elysees, the main street in Paris.

As we said goodbye to our Italy friends, I started to really understand what Paris does. You loose time in this city. Whether you are with friends, your significant just have a good time. I will really miss this city. I will never forget this incredible trip. I know that someday I will be back. But for now, it's time to say goodbye, head to the airport and get on my flight back to London.

Au revoir à Paris!

Second Day in Paris

Here we are at day two...

If I haven't said it enough already, Paris is amazing. There's just something about it that is great.

So the girls in our group were leaving, they had a 6pm flight. So Chris and I spent the early afternoon with them having lunch and just sitting in a small park. Once we sent them off to the airport, Chris and I headed to Notre Dame. Once again, another thing that did not disappoint. I mean, just looking at the size of it. But of course, looking at the outside was nothing compared to the inside. There was something special about it because when I walked in, I was almost brought to tears. This place was so beautiful. All of the stained glass coloring the walls. Plus they had music playing lightly in the background. Chris and I loved it there. But, time is precious and we wanted to see Versailles.

So after a 30 min train ride, we arrived at Versailles. Once again....GIGANTIC. The actual palace was cool. But what we really wanted to see were the gardens. They went on and on, filled with fountains, mazes, ponds, flowers, trimmed shrubs...I could not believe that anyone ever actually lived there. I mean, seriously...who needs that much space? If I lived there, I would get lost in my own house. We didn't get to spend as much time as we wanted to in the gardens because we were going to go and meet up with our friends from italy and the other school in london. So we took our last pictures and headed back to the Eiffel Tower.

The tower was still amazing to look at. I don't think we will ever get tired of it. We met up with our friends and then sat down to have another picnic, wine and all. Again, sitting under the Eiffel Tower, with your friends, eating and drinking while the tower sparkles...there's nothing better. I think that's the experience that I am going to miss the most from Paris. (But we are probably going to do that one last time tomorrow night)

Now it's time for one last day in Paris. It's hard to believe it's only day 3 because we have done so much. But I can't wait to see more of Paris.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

First DAY in Paris

So my first day in Paris.

Around 12pm, we got on the RER and headed in. Once we got there, we walked around to try and find something to eat. Grabbed something, and then headed to the Louvre. It was really cool seeing the giant glass pyramid in real life. We then got online and headed below the pyramid to get our tickets. European students get free admission, and since we have our student ID cards from Goldsmiths, we got in for free! Of course, we went right to see the Mona Lisa. It was so crowded around that area. It was no where NEAR as big as I imagined it being. It was a normal sized painting...that didn't look that special at all. Still it was pretty cool to see it.

After the Louvre, we headed toward the Arc de Triomphe. It was a pretty decent walk from the Louvre to the Arc, but majority of it was through a park so that was nice. The arc was another really cool thing to see. Mostly, you revel at its size. After getting our pictures and taking a short break sitting down, we headed to the big center piece, the Eiffel Tower.

Now let me tell you, the Eiffel Tower did NOT disappoint. Not one bit. We all took TONS of pictures of the tower. I mean, the structure of it is just incredible. The whole thing.....just.....we were speechless. We walked around both sides of it, under it, looked at it from every angle. Then, since we were hungry, we went and picked up a few baguettes, some cheese and some wine and headed back to the grass area in front of the tower. We sat down and had a picnic with the tower in the background. After all of that walking, it was so nice to sit. And with the tower as your background....just the most incredible thing ever.

After we finished eating and drinking, we decided it was time to climb this thing. So as dusk began to set in, we made our way back towards the tower. We decided it would be more exciting to take the stairs to the 2nd level as opposed to the elevator. Though it was exhausting, it was definitely a good decision. When you climb the stairs, you really get to see the structure of the tower, and you get to really feel how high up you are going. Though, you don't always want to look down. We were climbing the stairs as the sun was setting...and of course I got some good pictures. 1st level is where all the restaurants are. Plus a big wrap around viewing area. The 2nd level was even cooler...because we were even higher. While we were there, we got to see the tower sparkle. After dark, every hour on the hour the tower sparkles for 5 mins. It was really cool seeing it while on the tower. Not just seeing the tower, but seeing how it lights up the area around it. Then, it was time to go to the top. No stairs for this part. So we got on the elevator and rode it to the top. We got there, looked out the window, and were AMAZED by the view. You see everything. They even have signs around the top to tell you which countries you are facing on different sides of the tower (and how far away they are). I just couldn't get over how high up we were. After taking our final pictures, we headed back down. This time, we took the elevator all the way. They are nice enough not to check tickets going down (so the people who paid for the stairs don't have to walk back down the way they came up). After we got back down to the ground, we walked away from the tower and sat down so we could see it sparkle one last time. It was unreal to be seeing this place in person. It sparkled, the show stopped, and then we headed back to our hotel.

This first day was amazing. Lets hope the rest of the trip is as good as this.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

First night in PARIS!

(this was typed up last night, but posted this morning because I couldn’t get to wifi last night…)

So right after my class, I hopped on a train to the airport with my friend Chris. This airport was weird. They didn’t announce your gate until about 30mins before the flight and when you go the gate, it’s just a wide hallway with gate numbers…no lounges. There’s just one big one. So once we got our gate number, we rushed to the gate because we wanted to get good seats (no seat assignments on easyjet). We did get good seats…for the 1hr flight. We had barley got into the air by the time we started decending….it was ridiculous. We got lucky though; we were descending at the time when the eiffle tower does it’s light show (every hour on the hour). So that was pretty cool. Once we landed, we went through “customs”. I say it like that because we didn’t need to fill out a form, they looked at my passport and gave it back to me…no stamp….nothing. Weirdest customs experience ever. Chris and I then made our way to the RER (which I think is like the tube for France…I don’t know). Of course, everything is in French, so even though we looked up how to get there before we left, we were still confused. Luckily there was an English speaking person at the information booth. We purchased our tickets and then we were off.

We got to our stop and met up with our friends who were already here. Chris and I checked in and went upstairs. Chris is sharing a room with the friends who were here, I have my own. The room is ok. I mean, it’s a hostel. It might be slightly nicer than a hostel…but I don’t really know. It’s a place to sleep. But it’s certainly not the Ritz. We all went downstairs to try and use the wifi in the lobby, but of course, we couldn’t get it to work and the guy at the desk didn’t really want to help us. So we are just going to try and get to an internet café or something…I don’t know. We shall see.

If there’s one piece of advice I have it’s this…when you are going to a city you have never been to before, ESPECIALLY if you don’t speak the language…make sure you get there during the day, not at night like we did. I bet that everything would have been soooo much easier had we gotten here during the day. (You don’t have to worry about anything being closed).

Tomorrow is supposed to be a day of traveling around Paris. Seeing all the things we should be seeing. So I’m going to go to bed. 

Thursday, October 13, 2011


thought i would show a few pictures of me cooking. nothing fancy. Pasta with chicken and tomato sauce. I was proud of it....mostly because it tasted good.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stonehenge and Bath

First of all, woke up at 6am. Showered, and got on the overground to the underground (tube) to meet the bus (or coach as they call it here) at a tube station at 8:15am. We had about a 1.5hr drive to Stonehenge. As we were leaving london, our tour guide gave us a bunch of random facts about the area's we were driving through. Eventually, she let us all go to sleep since she knew we were all very tired.

So everyone thinks that Stonehenge is just a bunch of's much more than that. First of all....HOW DID THEY DO THAT!?!?!??!?!? The rocks are HUGE!!! At first glance, you are just overtaken by amazement that they were able to construct it. It really is beautiful to look at. The texture on the rocks, the way the light hits it. Ughhh it was awesome. Also trying to figure out why they built it in the first place....probably a sun temple....

After another 1.5hr drive (about), we were in Bath. First, I need to talk about the views on the way in. Unfortunately I wasn't sitting near a window so I wasn't able to get any pictures, but just looking at the town as we winded down the road was INCREDIBLE! We started in Bath Abby, which for some reason made me feel as if I was in Italy. Maybe it was the fact that we were right near the Roman Baths (which I did get to go in and see as it was part of the tour price). But that small town feel just overtook you as you walked in. The colors of the buildings, the architecture in was all beautiful. Once we got there, myself and a few others who I met on the bust went to get some lunch. I had delicious tea and cheese scones. After that, we all walked around for a little. I went in to look at Bath Abby, the big cathedral. The architecture was beautiful. The ceilings were gorgeous. The colors....everything. After taking plenty of pictures, I moved back outside and walked around the area and looked into a few stores and at some displays street vendors had up. I then met up with the tour guide for an architecture tour of Bath. She took us to all the little nooks and crannies in the area we were in. She showed us houses and explained how people lived many years ago in them. It was really cool to see the architecture, but the coolest moment was when we came upon this large green in the middle of the city. I was in a lot of shock, because you don't usually see a large green area in front of housing in a city...but I guess that's what makes Bath, Bath.

After that, we headed into the Roman Baths. I have to admit, I was pretty tired at this point as it was about 4:30pm and I had been up since 6pm on my feet looking at everything I could see...BUT nevertheless, the Baths were cool. The fact that I was walking where people used to walk so many years ago (and yes, we do that in many places....but this was preserved) was really cool. It was interesting to see how the springs worked as well as how the water flowed throughout the baths. There was a museum, but our guide said to move through the museum and see the baths...because that was the cool part. The complex was large with many parts to it. Some of the Baths even had water in them which was cool.

After the Baths, we headed back to the bus to begin our journey back to london. It was a long bus ride, but I slept for a good portion of the trip. Once we got back to london, I pretty much crashed. But overall, I would say it was a fantastic day. Only regret...I wish I could have spent more time in Bath.

Here are a few pictures from my day from my point and shoot (I'm saving the good ones from my DSLR for my final album that I'll make and show people):

 Bath Abby
 The Roman Baths

 The Green Area I was Talking About

The Sunset as we were driving home....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Post Coming Soon....

Hey everyone. So I woke up at 6am this morning to go to stonehenge and bath. It was amazing, and I'm going to write about it and post pictures but right now I need to go to bed. So tomorrow this post will be replaced with a proper one.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Music and Theatre

So this post is going to talk about my first live music and live theatre experiences during this trip in london.

First, I will start off by saying I got to skype with my parents earlier today which was very nice. (Enjoy the shout out mom and dad?)

But last night I got to see a musician by the name of Ben Howard perform at a record shop in east london. He was fantastic. It was SO cool to see an up and coming musician starting his career. He was surprised by the amount of people who came out to hear him play. And I was surprised when almost all of those people left before the main band started. It's cool when the opening band attracts a bigger crowd sometimes.

The next day (Wednesday) I had my second class called London Theatre. The class is 1.5hrs and sparks a discussion about theatre and what it means to us and how it affects us. Every week we go to see a show at night and then talk about it the following week. So basically, I get to see 10 shows without paying anything extra. Tonight we saw our first show which was called Decade.

Decade was focused around 9/11. It was a brand new piece that started from the one year anniversary and had scattered stories throughout going back in time. The first thing that we all wondered was, "Is it too soon to have a piece like this?" We all varied our opinions. It was however 3 hours long, which I didn't love. The piece had a small cast and used music, movement, lighting and a very specific setting to present the story. The setting was the restaurant at the top of the world trade center. It even had views on two sides of what it looked like from the top. That was kind of eery. I thought the piece was well put together and was not too offensive. I'm not sure if it could make it in the US. I don't think that people would be ready for it there. After the show, there was a talkback session with the director and a few members of the cast. It was interesting to hear how it was put together. There were tons of writers from the US and the UK which I think is partly why it was so interesting, because there wasn't simply one writer. I'm not going to go into too much detail about the show, since I have to write a journal entry about it for I'm going to save most of my opinions for that. But, it was a very interesting piece to see.

I was talking to my friend Steve just a few minutes ago about how the idea that we are going to be away from home for so long is starting to really set in. What's nice is that I'm with people who I can spend a good deal of time with before I get too sick of them. And if I do, I can hop on the tube and visit the people at Queen Mary and be fine. Still, it's going to be very hard leaving this place....and it's only week two....

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Classes Begin...

Monday. I had my first class. Despite the fact that my 2 friends and I couldn't find the room where the class was until 5 minutes before it started, it went ok. The class was Culture and Performance. Everyone in the class met in a lecture hall for a 1 hour lecture. After that, there was a 30min break followed by 1.5hour seminars in smaller groups. The lecture and seminar were both interesting, though it was weird being in a room where you are the only American. The class reminded me a lot of Muhlenberg with it's style and structure. 

The professor (or tutor as they are called here) was very nice. At the end of the seminar, he called me up to introduce himself to me and asked me how I liked the first class. It seems like the tutors really like having the international students here because they can offer a totally different opinion, especially in a class focused around culture. The tutor told me he was going to make more US references to help pull me into the conversation a bit more. I also found out that the paper I need to write is much shorter than I originally thought, since I'm an international student and wont have as much time to write it as everyone else. 

I've only been here a week, and I feel like I've been here for a month somehow. It's still weird not being home and not seeing all the people I know, but I'm getting used to it. The first week made it seem like we were all on a great vacation, which is kind of what it was, but now I am truly realizing that this is going to be home for the next few months. 

I booked my first day trip today to go and see Stonehenge. I've heard mixed things, but I just feel like it's something you can't miss. A lot of my friends aren't going because they don't think it's worth it. But I'm tired of just sitting around talking about doing things...I want to start DOING them. So hopefully this will be the start of a lot of amazing journeys. 

74 more days.....

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Week One...

Week 1 is done. It's hard to believe I've been here for only a week.

Today I went food shopping and cooked dinner with my friend Tom. We made pasta with Chicken Parm. We were impressed with ourselves. Haha.

Tomorrow is my first class at 2pm. Wish me luck!

75 more days to go......

Saturday, October 1, 2011

End of the First Week....

It's hard to believe that I've already been here for a week. Actually, a week ago today I was sitting in the airport waiting to board my flight. That's weird....

I'm loving London. I feel like I've been here for a while. Well...maybe....sort of. This first week has felt like a vacation for most of us. Exploring during the day, going to pubs at night...that sort of thing. But it's been good because we are getting to know people and getting used to being here. We have one more day until we start classes. I'm interested to see what classes are like here.

Tonight I went up to Queen Mary and saw my friends from there. It was fun getting to spend some time without the people I see every day. They showed me around their campus, we went for a drink, and then I headed home. The tube stops running a little after midnight for some reason. So if I missed it, I would have to take the bus system back....which is really confusing. Too many transfers. This city, unlike New York, sleeps (I couldn't help but make that reference).

Lazy Friday

Friday was a pretty lazy day. A lot of us spent it napping and doing a whole lot of nothing. For me, I slept a bunch, talked with some friends, had some lunch....relaxing. The exciting part was getting to see our friends from Queen Mary! They decided to come down to us and hang out for a few hours. It was really great to see them and catch up on their trip here. It was also cool to see even more people I know in London. I still can't believe it's been almost a week.....