Saturday, January 30, 2010

Take note!

The After Skool Klub is a place wherein you must go in a group larger than two, and having imbibed a SIGNIFICANT amount of alcohol beforehand. If you have not accomplished either of those things, make friends with the half Brazilian and half Italian girl in front of you on line who can give you discount coupons to get in and introduce you to all of her friends whose names you can't pronounce- oh, except for Anna.

Then try to avoid, as I failed to do, getting slapped on the butt by an incredibly drunk, skinny, bald man as he makes some weird sort of mating call at you while you walk. It is a slightly disturbing experience.

But for serious, there was a nice walk along the Thames before going to the 'Klub' that reinforced to me that London is absolutely beautiful at night, the London Eye a circle of lights and Parliament and Big Ben boasting their own pretty illumination.

Back again!

I'm falling into the daily routine of life here, classes on Monday for 2 hours (total, hallelujah) and then Tuesday through Thursday I head off to Sky News. As much as I do love my job, the commute can be annoying. I have to be into work by nine, and it's about an 1:15 minute commute. So I wake up at nine, walk to the Central Line at Chancery Lane, transfer to the Piccadilly Line at Holborn and sit, or stand, for about 40 minutes until I hit Osterley. Then I catch the Sky News shuttle from Osterley Station (or the Harrods shuttle) and I'm home free! Basically what it boils down to is that if I make it to the Piccadilly by 8, I'll get to work on time provided I don't miss the shuttle at the station. The commute actually reminds me a lot of what I did this summer (though I'm going city to suburbs now, instead of vice versa) but it's free! Thank god for unlimited Oyster Cards from Zones 1-4.

But anyway, nothing particularly exciting has gone on since I last typed- I went out Thursday night to the LSE pub and then a quaint pub called The Old Red Lion for a few drinks with Bhumi (flatmate) and Eric (a fellow Gopher).
Friday during the day Bhumi and I went down to SoHo and tried this vegan lunch buffet. Though Bhumi wasn't completely enamoured with the calibre of food, I stuffed my face. Walking was difficult, especially the getting out of the chair to do so part. Friday night very relaxed, we wrote cover letters and searched for internships to apply to.

This morning we headed out to the infamous Burough Market, which was kind of cool but kind of expensive. It's pretty easy to get to, right by the London Bridge Underground Station off the Northern Line. I bought epic bread pudding and some artichoke hearts, and Bhumi bought a bunch of fresh produce for relatively cheap. We decided to mix it up a little bit and take the bus home, which may not have been the best idea because we were nearly frozen by the time it got to us! However, it was pretty cool to sit on the top of a double decker bus for the first time. But take note- make sure you hold on when going up and down the stairs. I almost killed myself when the bus started moving as I was going up the steps!
The ride almost ended in catastrophe, too, when we got off the bus, I looked down, and I realized that I had. no. purse. Cue freak out. I looked up to see the bus driving away, briefly shrieked "I left my purse!" and took off running. Luckily for me, the bus driver had to stop at a red light just down the road. I did the frantic knocking on the bus door and miming what a purse looked like and he graciously let me onto the bus, drove another block, and dropped me off again. All the while Bhumi was dying of laughter on the sidewalk.

Anyway! Tonight we're heading off to the Afterschool Club (at least that's the plan right now) so we'll see how that goes...the goal is to meet Brits, hopefully! :D

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

More than a fortnight has gone by...

Wowww, I should have started this as soon as I got here but hey, I'm a procrastinator to the core. It's been over 2 weeks and I'm finally settling in to life in London!

I got here on the 9th, after my first solo, not to mention first international, flight! The flight was fine, except for the very nice but very pregnant woman next to me who needed to pee quite often. I just watched a lot of Dexter and How I Met Your Mother, which is quite a good way to pass time. It was freeeeeezing when I got here, my ride from the airport (this awesome Brit named Stuart who works with my mother) told me it had been snowing for about three weeks and London was a wee bit panicky about how to deal with all of it. It was funny, because all I saw was about 2 inches of snow built up. Reminded me of Maryland, really, where Goucher panics at the prospect of precipitation.

My first week was a huge orientation, moving into our flat and getting to know the area around us- how we would get to the LSE and to Westminster. Of course it's taken me much longer to figure out where I'm going, as those of you who know of my direction-handicapped escapades can fully understand.
So! Brief recap of the first week, because writing all of the last two would take forevah.
In no particular order, we took a bus tour of London wherein we were forced occasionally to get out of our nice warm bus and look at buildings and bridges while being whipped in the face by biting wind. The point of the tour was to give us a better idea of where everything was in London and do a brief fly-by of all the really important sites and where they are (but of course I was still as lost as when we started and had no idea how to get back to anything).
Then there was the tour of Westminster and the Houses of Parliament, which was an amazing experience simply because of the history contained there. Being in rooms where monarchs have stood and where the history of a country has been decided is pretty heady. We went to the Parliamentary Archives the next day (or was it the day after?) and THAT was awesome. We were allowed to touch scrolls that were centuries old- without gloves! Just touching things that Henry the VIII had signed, no big deal.
I'm sure we did more that week, let's see.... saw a musical called Blood Brothers, it's the longest running show in Britain apparently, and it was actually much better than I thought it would be! I had the music from it stuck in my head for pretty much the rest of the next week.
What else... had a few classes, listened to a few speakers, yadda yadda. Going into the second week, did lots of touristy stuff, like walking across the Millennium Bridge and then down the Thames River, and then walking back across the River over the Tower Bridge (which I definitely always thought was London Bridge).

So! We started our internships last week, and I'm working at Sky News! It's BBC's biggest competitor, and a really great resume builder. I'm on the General Election News Team, which is doing all of the research building up to the Election that Gordon Brown is expected to call by early June. The research I did my first week (which has been modified for the second) was to find every single candidate for every single constituency, what the incumbent MP's expenses were for the last year, the potential swing needed for the next closest party to win the seat, etc. There are almost 700 constituencies, and usually about 4 candidates, including the incumbent MP. So in 3 days, I got to constituencies starting with the letter C. Thankfully, we've narrowed it down to the about 250 constituencies that are going to be discussed (most likely) on actual Election night, which has significantly cut down on the tedium. If only the Conservative Party's website had worked today, I would have finished (potentially) up to the beginning of the Fs! Tomorrow! Onward and upward!

But back to this weekend- Friday I got to see the lovely Perry Shusterman, which I have been looking forward to since I saw here a week ago when she had just flown in. I spent the night with her at the University of Westminster, only 3 stops away on the Tube! She got me out of my shell and I went with her and her friends to this not-so-aptly named club, Mother. Despite the strange name, it was a lot of fun and I met some really cool people.

My most recent touristy thing also occured this weekend, we went to Platform 9 3/4! Went twice, actually, but the second time I took better photos, haha. See?

Post-Platform two of my flatmates and I went to the Victoria and Albert Museum, or V&A for short, and wandered around. Bhumi (one of my flatmates) and I found this area where you can try on various costumes from plays and subsequently had wayyyyy too much fun playing dress up as if we had reverted to 5!

Last night Bhumi, our flatmate Marissa and I ended up in Stratford at the Theatre Royal for free stand-up comedy, which was a nice little adventure. :) Two of the comedians were quite funny, one I could just manage to sit through and the last... well, we left early. But still! It was good to get out of the flat and see the parts of London that aren't in the guidebook.

All right, that was really rambling and random and not at all comprehensive, but I think I'm done for now, haha. Thank god, right? If anyone is still reading this I'll be significantly impressed. More updates soon! Possibly ones with more pictures, oh dear.