Monday, November 28, 2011

18 days....

Just booked my car to the airport......yup it's that close.


18 days....

Sunday, November 27, 2011

20 days....

So somehow it has come down to 20 days until I leave London. I really can't believe how fast it's gone. Still, I miss home and I miss my family and my friends. So it will be nice to come home.

The rest of the week with Damon was a lot of fun. On Thursday a few of us took him sightseeing around London. We started at Kings Cross Station to take pictures at the Platform 9 and 3/4 set up. Funny enough, they don't actually have it inside the station. It's basically a moving set piece that they can put anywhere they want. That day, they had it outside. While we were looking for it we passed right by it...we felt pretty stupid since we spent the next half hour walking around the entire station.

After that, we headed to Westminster and took pictures around Big Ben and Westminster Abby. Then we walked from there to Buckingham Palace and from there to Hyde Park where we got something to eat. Next we took the tube to the Tower of London and Tower Bridge and then walked to see the Globe Theatre. Finally, we walked back towards St. Pauls where I saw something first hand...and occupy movement. I have seen pictures and heard stories, but I had not actually seen it up close. A tent colony surrounded one side of St. Pauls. People were actually living there....realizing that this was happening like this in my own country was really weird to think about. Just got me thinking a lot.

Finally, we went to dinner. We went to a restaurant called Sarastro in the Covent Garden area. It was a really interesting looking restaurant filled with items from opera houses. There were raised booths for tables and things everywhere. The food was fantastic...but no turkey or stuffing. Still, it was nice to be with friends for Thanksgiving.

I've done so much in my time here...and I still have a bunch more planed. So away we go!


20 days....

Thursday, November 24, 2011

I'm Thankful For...

This Thanksgiving I have a huge thing to be thankful for. I am so incredibly thankful that my parents are fortunate enough to send me to study in London for three months. And I'm even more thankful for the trips I've been able to go on. Stonehenge, Bath, Paris, Prague, Vienna...it has all been amazing. But it wouldn't have happened with out then.

I'm thankful for you mom and dad....I have been and will be every day for the rest of my life.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Damon in London!

Every year, the Theatre department sends a faculty member to London to check-in with the study abroad students at the two schools. They usually send this person around Thanksgiving so that they can take the students out to dinner on the Thursday. 

This year, the faculty member is Damon, the Technical Director and Shop Head. When we heard Damon was coming we all got very excited. I mean, how often can you say you had dinner and drinks with one of your teachers in London? 

When he arrived on Monday, I invited him to come for dinner in the New Cross area. When he got here, I gave him a mini-tour of the campus. After that, we went to the local pub, The Hobgoblin, for dinner. It was really good to catch up with him and hear what was going on for the past months at Muhlenberg. It was also nice to see a familiar face who I hadn't seen in a while. 

The next day, myself and a few others met up with Damon in the Notting Hill area to walk around and shop. Lot's of cool things there. Going to have to go back though to buy some things. After that, I brought Damon back to Goldsmiths for him to attend a class with some other students. He is required to sit in on at least one class at each school here in London...I guess to make sure they are actually teaching us something. After that, we headed back into Central London to the National Theatre for the backstage tour. This tour never ceases to amaze me. I've been on it twice and each time I get to see something different. We saw and learned about all three theatre's and even got to see some backstage areas. Really cool. It would be amazing to work there one day...who knows...it could happen. After that, we all went out for dinner and drinks. We were talking about everything, and eventually got on to talking about life in the theatre department. What made it special was that we could say exactly how we felt, and didn't worry about being disrespectful...because we weren't...we were just saying how we felt. 

Today, he is spending time with the Queen Mary people but some of us might see him later after our show. 

Overall, it's really nice to see a familiar face here in London...though it does make me miss home just a little more. 

24 days....

Monday, November 21, 2011

Seeing Friends...

So here's a funny thing...I got to see a friend yesterday who I haven't seen in a pretty long time...we live 40mins away from each other in New York...but she has to fly to London from Spain to see me. Funny how things work out.

I got to see my friend Gabi last night. She was in town visiting some friends and got in touch with me. It was nice to catch up. I will say, it's pretty surreal to meet up with friends while you are living in London. I don't think that part will ever get old.

I just wanted to post about that...because it was nice seeing an old friend.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Time moves too quickly...

It's hard to believe that I've been here for almost 2 months. I have my countdown app going...29 days from today, I will be flying back to the U.S.

I'm excited to go back...I miss family and friends and all that. I know as soon as I get home I'll want to come back. But I think that's how everyone feels. So far I'm definitely happy that I came here to study. I have experienced living in British culture. I have seen Stonehenge, Bath, Paris, Prague and Vienna. I have seen some cool things. And I've had some fantastic times. But now, it's time to enjoy these last 29 days. It's time to make more memories that I will never forget.

The Lion King!

So after a fantastic reading week and an ok monday, I went into central london on Tuesday to the Lion King box office and was able to get tickets for myself and 3 friends for that night! For 30 pounds we were able to get seats in the first balcony in row K. The sound was a little off, but as for the view, they were perfect.

I had been waiting to see this show for a really long time. That being said, it had been built up a lot for me. Unfortunately, I wasn't seeing it on Broadway...I was seeing it in the West End. I've realized now that the West End does not set as high of a bar for themselves as Broadway does. At one point I heard the drop bolts come out as a set piece moved....not supposed to hear that....

Still, the show was fantastic. The puppet work was incredible. There were people on stilts (in weird ways), birds flying through the air, elephants walking through the audience...pretty cool stuff. Out of all the actors, my favorites were Zazu and Timon. They just played the parts perfectly in my opinion.

Another problem I had with the show was the singing. They sounded like they were holding back. And they weren't holding out notes. I hate when performers do that. Really annoying. Fill the theatre damnit!

Anyway, it was a fun night. I'm still glad I got to see it. But now I need to see it on Broadway to compare...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Performing Live in London...

Tonight, I got to live a dream I had set for myself....Tonight, I got to perform live in London. My friend Jake got offered to play at a pub called New Cross Inn and he asked me to play a few. I performed "Rock and Roll" by Eric Hutchinson as well as a new song I wrote (which doesn't have a title yet...) and then we closed with a version of "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. I didn't get a lot of time to prep...we worked things out hours before, and the drummer, Steve, hadn't gotten to practice on a set at all...actually for Jake's stuff he did it all on the fly. 

I wanted to post a video on here of one of the songs, so I've picked the one that I wrote while I was here. I'm really proud of this song. Again, it's untitled...but who know's...maybe that will be the title. 

video

Music in London

My friend Jake got offered a gig tonight at a pub near us for 9pm and he asked me if I wanted to play a little. So I'm gonna do two songs and then a third with him. I'm about to live a dream....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Day 3 in Vienna....

Well we are sitting in the airport getting ready to fly back to London. We are here really early because we didn't really have a lot else to do in Vienna and we are tired from all the walking and what not. It's been a busy few days.

So this morning we woke up and checked out of the hostel. We went into central Vienna and walked around for a little bit. We walked to Judenplatz which is where a temple used to be before it was destroyed. In it's place, there is a memorial for all of the Austrian Jews who were killed in the Holocaust. The memorial is a white stone rectangle. Around the sides, it is designed to look like library bookshelves. The books are supposed to represent the lives whose stories can never be re-opened. It was pretty moving to see.

After that we headed back to the underground and went to the Naschmarkt area. On our way, we passed by the Secession Building. The building was made to house art by a group of artists who seceded from the artists union in Vienna. This is where Gustav Klimt's Beethoven Freeze is located. It was something that Steve really wanted to see, and Tom and I did as well since we had seen so much of his work the previous day. Yay museums.

So the Naschmarkt. It is pretty much exactly what it sounds like, a giant market filled with food vendors (and some other vendors as well). We found a good place to sit down and have lunch there which was pretty cool. After that, we headed to a wifi area so we could all register for our Spring Semester classes. Unfortunately, something didn't go through from one of my advisors so I haven't been able to register yet....I'm not very happy about that...but hopefully if I have any problems, he will help me get the classes I need and want since it wasn't my fault. We'll see.

Then we headed to the airport. It was about a 30 minute train ride, and now I'm just sitting in the terminal looking out at the tarmac as planes come and go. As I've been traveling in europe, I always get these moments where it hits me that I'm actually in the place I am. With Paris, Prague and Vienna...there's just that moment where you stand there, look out and say "Wow, I can't believe I'm actually here right now...". Especially by myself. Well not totally by myself, because I'm here with friends. But still, the fact that I'm navigating around foreign cities where I don't speak the language...I'm pretty proud of that. Though I wish we had spent a little more time in Prague, this trip has been an interesting one and one that I'm not sorry I did. Sure there are things that I wish I could have done better, but I still learned a lot and got to see a lot.

All that being said, I'm very ready to go back to London. I'm ready to go back to a more comfortable bed after sleeping in Hostels. Plus I have a bunch of things to look forward to. My friend Gabi is coming to visit since she is studying in Barcelona. My friend Myll might come to visit for a few days and then Damon, the technical director at Muhlenberg, is coming during Thanksgiving. Lots going on.

38 more days to go....wow, I remember when that countdown was for me leaving for London....

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 2 in Vienna...it gets a little better

So Day 2 in Vienna...

It started to get a little better. We woke up, had breakfast and went to the Belvedere. Steve's favorite artist is Gustav Klimt. He basically came to Vienna to see his work, so we spent almost the entire day there. I don't love museums, but it was still really cool. We took a bunch of pictures in the gardens as we walked between the two buildings too. After that, we started walking around and headed into Central Vienna. Once we walked out of the underground station, we felt so much better. FINALLY we started seeing some activity. Before, we were in areas where there were no people. Now we started seeing a busier city. We started feeling a lot better. We walked around and found a place to eat for dinner. After a nice dinner, we started walking around and found a few cool sites that had some decent lighting on them at night. We passed through what I think was part of the Jewish area...but we are going to try and go back there tomorrow. Of course, I don't know what they were...but they looked nice! Then we headed into a bar for some drinks. Then we came back to our hostel, played some billiards and now I'm typing up this post. So overall today wasn't a terrible day. We are starting to like Vienna a little bit more. However, stores closing at 7:00pm is a little odd. But tomorrow, a little more exploring and then we head back to London.

Something about London...I just got an email from the U.S. Department of State about a warning in the London area:


Emergency Message for U.S Citizens – Demonstrations Scheduled to Take Place In Central London and the City Of London on Wednesday, November 9, 2011
U.S. Embassy London advises U.S. citizens that on Wednesday, November 9, 2011 a number of demonstrations, listed below, are likely to cause considerable congestion in central London and the City of London, most significantly a protest organized by the National Campaign against Fees and Cuts.
National Campaign against Fees and Cuts
The National Campaign against Fees and Cuts will protest in opposition to Higher Education reform with a march and rally expected to run from 12:30PM to 6:30PM.
Previous student demonstrations and politically-motivated, student-based protests in London have led to significant disorder and a number of arrests for various offenses, including public order and criminal damage.  Activists have stated they are trying to organize ‘walk outs’ and campus occupations across the capital.  The City of London and the various ‘Occupy’ campaigns are also attracting significant attention from student activists as well as anarchist and anti-capitalist groups.
Organizers hope to attract up to 10,000 protesters and police will provide a proportionate response. 
A map detailing the route is below and areas expected to be affected are the London Boroughs of Westminster, Camden, Southwark, Lambeth and City of London (Malet Street, Gower Street, Bloomsbury Street, Shaftesbury Avenue, Charing Cross Road, Duncannon Street, Strand, Fleet Street, Fetter Lane, New Fetter Lane, Holborn Viaduct, Newgate Street, King Edward Street, and London Wall)
Additionally, there will be numerous road closures with fixed and temporary road closures along the whole route. London, Southwark, Blackfriars and Waterloo Bridges (Northbound) may be closed if required. Closures will begin at 9:00AM and increase throughout the day.


I should be ok since I am getting back at 10:15pm...but we will see what happens. I'm sure I will be able to get back to my flat...but it was a little scary getting the email. I signed up on the travel.gov website letting the Department of State know that I was staying in the country so they would send me relevant information....I'm really glad that I did AND I'm glad to know it works...

Here's to staying safe! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Prague Day 2 and the Journey to Vienna

So Prague day 2.

Once again, Prague is an amazing city. I love it. We started our morning by walking across the Charles Bridge towards the castle. As we walked along the bridge, we saw musicians and beautiful views. The hike up to the castle was a tough one because we were carrying our stuff with us, but it was worth it. We got to see fantastic views of both the city and the castle as well as the cathedral. We didn't pay to go all the way inside, but we got to stand in the back and take some good pictures. After that we headed back down the hill towards the Jewish area. I really wanted to go inside the synagogue that was there because it was really cool on the outside, but you had to pay and we didn't have a lot of time to go back to where you had to buy tickets. And you couldn't take pictures inside, so I wouldn't have been able to share it with anyone...just a reason to go back! Then we made our way to the old town square and had something for lunch. Our final walk in Prague was to the train station. We ended up taking an earlier train because we didn't want to get to Vienna too late. So we got to the station, got our tickets, found some seats and camped out for the 5 hour train ride.

The train actually wasn't too bad. It was a quiet smooth ride with only a few stops along the way. I slept, listened to music and played games on my ipod for most of the ride. Plus we got to see the country side of the Czech Republic, not so much Austria because it was dark by the time we got there. I probably saw things you would never see unless you took the train I was on. Seeing small towns and farms...thinking about these people who have lives there while I live in the United States in my house......

So we arrive in Vienna. We got on the underground and headed to our hostel. Something that was shocking is how inaccessible Vienna is. In Prague, and when I was in Paris, signs were in the local language and in english for the most part. That's just how most of the world is as I've seen it. But not here. Very few signs have english translations. Luckily I had looked up the underground route before we got there, so I had it figured out. We got to the hostel and what culture shock it was. First of all, this is the first real hostel I'm staying at. We are in a dorm with 8 beds. We have three and the rest are all taken. Very VERY weird. Don't really like that at all. But something else, we were walking around at 8:00pm and almost everything was closed! We were in what seemed like it a very pedestrian area...but no one was there. Eventually we asked the front desk for suggestions where to go and they told us to go into the central city. But even there, it was pretty quiet. We found a bar to sit at and have a few drinks which was nice to relax. I know it's a Monday night, but still! There were no corner stores either. Vienna is a pretty weird city so far. And following up Prague is pretty tough. We are hoping tomorrow we will wake up with a more lively city. 

Here's to hoping tomorrow is better.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Prague! Day 1

So, after making our way to the airport, Steve, Tom and I got on our flight and headed to Prague!

We landed around 11:30am and it took a little while to get through customs and what not, but we made our way to the bus, which took us to the underground, which brought us to our hostel.

We walked around for a bit before going to the hostel...mainly because we needed to get a map so we could find it faster. Then we checked in, went online for a little, and then headed out to explore. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen. The buildings, the roads, everything was just amazing. We walked all around back roads looking for lunch, eventually settling on a slice of pizza just because we were that hungry. Then we found our way to the Old Town Square with the famous Astronomical Clock. I remember my parents telling me about it and showing me pictures...but it was even cooler to see it in person. There were tons of vendors in the square, there were musicians playing and singing...it was the atmosphere that I imagined. The amount of culture that surrounds this city is just unreal. This isn't a city that has been modernized like so many others...this city has maintained it's european greatness. You want to get lost in the streets. You want to go down every ally and see what buildings are there. Prague is a place that makes you want to explore and lets you have fun doing it.

Since we got up pretty early for our flight, we came back to our room to take naps. After that, we headed out to a great restaurant for dinner. We had seen it earlier in the day and thought that it looked good so why not? The meal was fantastic. Tom and Steve had some seafood and I had steak. It was so flavorful. A great meal in Prague. After that, we walked around a bit more to get some night time pictures and ended up back in the Old Town Square to have some dessert and drinks in the square. Just sitting there, looking out on the square was the perfect way to end the night.

After that we headed back to our room to turn in for the night. Overall, a great first day in Prague. Tomorrow, a little more exploring and then it's off to Vienna!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Leaving for Prague and Vienna

I'm leaving for Prague and Vienna in the morning with Tom and Steve. I'm really excited to see these two places. They are both supposed to be amazing and beautiful. Plus, I'm going with two of my good friends...so this should be a lot of fun.

Flights at 8:30am. Leaving for the airport at 5:30am....waking up at 4:30am...it's 2:00am now...opps. Time to go to bed.

The Tower of London

On Tuesday I went with a few friends to the Tower of London. It was kind of a last minute idea, but it was something I wanted to see so I was pretty excited. We went in the afternoon, got there around 3:00pm. First of all, it really is a maze. You could get a little lost if you weren't paying attention. Of course there's the idea that we are looking, walking in and standing around something that has been there for so long. That just hits you every time you see something like that. 

So the first thing we did was go see the crown jewels. Unfortunately, they don't allow photography inside, so I can't show any pictures of them. But here's a basic description...gold, diamonds, ridiculous rare stones, 530k diamonds, more gold, silver, gold, GIANT GOLD BOWL....and shinny things. Yup, I'd say that's the best description. In the jewel house, there's a part that has display cases with two moving walkways on either side. They move very slowly, but it prevents people from standing in front of the cases for too long. This way everyone gets to see. I thought it was a smart idea. 

Then of course we had to see some armor. There was so much armor in the tower. It was interesting to see the different ways they used the suits. Along with the armor they had weapons displays and old weapons are always cool to look at. 

Oh, and there was this awesome dragon sculpture inside the top of the tower...it was just really cool. It's talons were old pistols. 


Here are some pictures!