Sunday, January 31, 2010

Stonehenge and Bath Road Trip

Who knew a pile of rocks could be so interesting? Well now I do.

Yesterday, seven of us ACM kids (after a bit of trouble finding the bus) boarded the bus to Stonehenge. It was about a 2 hour drive. After having a bit of a late/rough night on Friday we pretty much slept most of the way there. But when I was awake I got to see some really pretty views of the countryside. I think I saw just about every barnyard creature that they have in Britain. Massive amounts of sheep, pigs, cows, horses, etc. So pretty.

When we did get to Stonehenge I got about one photo in before my camera batteries died. Epic fail. But my buddies got plenty so I'll be mooching. Stonehenge is really cool. A bit smaller than I expected, but still pretty neat. The weather was fantastic yesterday so that helped. It was cold but there were blue skies and plenty of sun. How old everything is in Britain strikes me everytime we see something new. All my group could comment on yesterday was A. CAN YOU BELIEVE WE'RE HERE?! Ahhh! and B. I can still can't get over how OLD it is!

After poking about Stonehenge for a bit, we boarded the bus for another hour long drive to Bath. The entire trip there was breathtaking. But I hadn't seen anything yet. Omg. When I finally laid eyes on Bath I just couldn't believe how beautiful it was. This was the picture of old-school Britain that I have in my head everytime I read Jane Austen or any other 19th century British author. I english-major geeked-out big time. We got to go see the Roman Baths which were neat and poked around Bath for a bit. I definitely need to go back. I need more time to explore this cityyyy. Then there was a 2.5 hour bus ride home.

At this point I was physically exhausted. We had been go, go going all week. So a chill night it was. We hung out at a pub for a couple of hours and I came home by 10. Skyped a bit (Got to talk to Meghan! Yay!) and crashed. 12 hours of sleep later and I am feeling great and restored. Today is a catch-up, homework day. I think I'll go find a cafe to camp down and read in.

I feel very disconnected from America. I need to read a newspaper or turn on CNN or something. So out of touch. So, I hope there have been no major disasters that I've been utterly ignorant of. Please keep me updated with your lives, dear readers whoever you are.

Off to get the day started.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Mind the Gap

Well, it's Friday thank goodness. We just had one class today, our theater class. I am really starting to love that class. The combination of theater and english is totally up my alley. Now I'm hunkered down in a cafe with free wifi attempting to write a paper. I'm procrastinating and listening to the Lady Antebellum cd, which is fantastic btw. Last night a couple of us ended up going out to a pub, The Pembroke. We closed the night at O'Neill's, an Irish themed pub. It was really chill and lovely. I tried a Guiness....yeah I'm not a fan. I think I need to officially give up on beer in general.

Tonight I'm going out with my friend Anna and meeting up with some friends she knows from home. Tomorrow we are going on a bus tour of Stonehenge and Bath! So excited! It's just for the day. I can't believe I'll have been here for a week as of tomorrow!


Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Best Grilled Cheese Ever...

It's been a couple of days since I last posted due to the aforementioned horrendous internet service. But it's been a busy and somewhat challenging couple of days.

Yesterday we had class and then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to make travel plans. Nothing was settled, still nothing is settled, and its a bit frustrating. I think we're going to Cork, Ireland in a few weeks and maybe Stonehenge this weekend. I don't know, we'll see what happens. Yesterday was definitely a slump, sleepy day. Though at night we did go see a play called Rope at the Almeida Theater. The theater was beautiful and the area surrounding it was pretty nice. A group of us stopped at a pub called The Famous Cock for dinner. Yes, its name is freaking funny. It was one of those moments we all felt very American for giggling. I had a glass of Shiraz and watched the play. It was decent but I definitely liked our first play best. I need to write a paper tonight about the production and frankly, I'm seriously not in school mode. Time to man up and just do it.

Today was a big day. We got up and met our professor by a peice of the remaining Roman wall that used to enclose part of the city. Then we went off to the Museum of London and learned a bit of history. I'm learning a lot about British culture and history in this class. Super interesting. The coexistence of old and new in this town never ceases to surprise me. Hundreds and hundreds of years of buildings and monuments are all mixed together. I think it's one of my favorite things about London so far. After the museum we walked to a market. It was sooo cool. I bought asparagus which I haven't been able to find anywhere else yet. So hopefully I'll bust that out tomorrow or soon. Also at this market I had the BESTTT GRILLED CHEESE ever. I don't even know why but it was delicious. Group consensus confirmed my exultation. I guess it's the little things in life. Class ended and a group of us broke off and went to the Tate Modern. By this point we were pretty tired so we did one floor which was still a lot. It was very cool. I don't really get a lot of modern art, but a friend did and he helped explain it.

We next had to go pick up a mirror from another part of town. So there was another area to explore. We walked up and down brick lane which proved to be a heavily Indian area. It was pretty neat and very different from everywhere else we had been thus far. We found a pub and settled down for a bit. Next, we picked up the mirror and headed back. I think it's homework night around here.

Thoroughly exhausted and hoping the internet will cooperate so I can put up pictures.


Tuesday, January 26, 2010


Hello Hello

First off, Happy Birthday mom! There had better be cake tonight. :)

Well here's the update from the past couple of days. The internet has proven to extremely awful here at 270. It's super shotty and utterly frustrating. If it works, it doesn't work well. For instance, right now I can't respond or comment at all on facebook. So for those of you who have commented or messaged me to no response, my apologies. But beyond the internet, the past couple of days have been wonderful.

On Sunday, the whole group officially settled in. My roommates are great. One, Laura, turns 21 today and we are all going out tonight to help celebrate. Karoake anyone? Another roommate (I have 3) went out this morning and bought a bunch of donuts and surprised Laura with birthday candles and singing. It was adorable and I think went a long way in helping her feel special so far from home and without knowing anyone really well yet.

Yesterday was our first day of class. We started with an introduction to our theater course, going over guidelines and such. I lovee the professor (he's from the Forest and this is the 5th time I've had him) and so that makes it fun. We then went to the London National Theater to see Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. We went to a platform where the directors talked beforehand. The play was insanely wonderful. It was super short, only an hour, but had some of the most ingenious stage work and blocking I've ever seen. The play, written by Brit superwriter Thomas Stoppard, takes place in a mental hospital in Russia. One man is a schizophrenic, the other completely fine being held there for slander against the KGB. All I can say was that it was wonderful and a really great way to start off the school part of the program. We came back and stayed in for the night. I made a grilled cheese, fought with the internet, and called it a night.

Today we started our other class, London as a Visual Text. Basically it's going to be a combination of art, architecture, and history. It's comprised entirely of fieldtrips all over the city. The teacher, Sarah, is a sweetheart and extremely knowledgeable. Today we went to the Thames and took a book ride. I hadn't seen this part of the city and it was beautiful. Took a bazillion pics that will be posted sometime soon. Then class ended and a group of us went to the Dickens Tavern for fish and chips. Delicious! Then we walked over Tower Bridge. Breathtaking, so stunning.

Oh, and did I mention THERE WAS SUN TODAY! ALL DAY! SO WONDERFUL! Its insanely chilly but the sun was out so it doesn't even matter!!

The people in my program have proven to be really cool. It's funny how quickly people group off. But I've found a great couple of girls that are really fun and into traveling about as much as possible just like me. In fact, in just a bit my friend Claire and I are going to plan our spring break travels. Spain here we come! Also, today we're going to start planning weekends to Paris, Dublin, and Bath/Stonehenge. So excited.

I'm working on budgeting my money. London is crazy expensive but I'm doing my best to finding a balance. I'm adjusting and settling in and going with the flow. Tomorrow is another night at the theater.

So, I'm doing well, seeing a lot, and only getting really frustrated by the internet because it makes me feel rather disconnected from home. I can't believe I've only been here about 4 days now, seems much longer.

Until next time... :)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Settling In

So, it's around noon on day two. I'm feeling rather settled in. My third roommate just moved in. I've gotten groceries and cooked a meal. Granted, it was only pasta, but's an accomplishment for me. I have a phone for use in the UK. That was a hassle to get all figured out but I feel much better having it.

Went out and had a really good time last night. Slept in today. Probably going to go explore the neighborhood a bit more. I refuse to spend any more money on the tube until we get our oyster cards tonight. Those will allow us to ride more easily and cheaply. Everything is, as expected, super expensive.

I'm determined to take pictures today. More to come...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Day One

I'm hereeeee!

After 8 long hours in the air I have arrived in London. Actually, I arrived about 8 hours ago. My flight went really smooth. The whole travel process went really smooth. I found the tube easily in the airport and my home for the next two months is only a block away from the Earl's Court stop. Success!

I have a quad with a big closet all my own which is nice. Only one other girl has moved in yet; the other two will arrive tomorrow. The window looks out onto a patio. Everything is really green here! No snow to speak of but everything is pretty damp. The place/apartment/dorm whatever is in a very cute part of town. My bank is only a block away which is nice. I just picked up a phone to use within the UK so I'm all set. A few of us went grocery shopping and picked up some essentials like shampoo. I bought a bottle of wine and didn't get carded, which as a 20-year-old American felt pretty damn cool.

While London might not be a huge culture shock from the U.S., I have noticed that everything is just a little bit different, a little off from what I'm used to. Pounds will take some adjustment as well. It's a little weird in 270 (that's what I'm going to start referring to the apartment as). People all have weird sleep patterns due to jet lag and the getting to know you process has just started to kick off. It will be nice to have a routine.

A couple of us put our money together so we'll be making pasta for dinner. And then a big group of us are going out to a pub tonight. Should be a good time. Everyone will arrive by tomorrow. I'm excited.

Miss you all.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

AHH! Leaving Tomorrow!

In approximately 31 hours I'll be headed to London. I'm excited, nervous, anxious, thrilled, expectant, and ready for the next 4.5 months. I've been talking about this trip since freshman year so I really can't believe that I leave tomorrow. WOW. SO EXCITED. Due to vast amounts of procrastination, today is full of packing and errands. I have no idea how to fit as much as I'd like in my seemingly tiny suitcase, but I guess it's just the first challenge of many to come.

Too much to do, very little time. SO EXCITED. So anxious. Ready to be there already.

Woot. Woot.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

My Address while in London

I've been asked for my address while I am abroad. Here it is while I am in London:

Emily Lauten
ACM London Program
270 Earls Court Road
London SW5 9AS
United Kingdom

5 Days Til' Takeoff

Well I'm off to London a mere 5 days from now. I have promised mom that I will keep a blog over the 4 and a half months while I am away. So I suppose I'll start now and document a bit of the packing and prep process.

For potential readers (if in fact I have readers without the last name of Lauten) that do not know the details of my semester in Europe, I'll sum it up briefly. On Friday, I will be leaving for London where I will be staying in apartment/dorm-like place in Earl's Court for the next 8 weeks. I will be staying with about 20 other students from a collection of small colleges in the midwest. Together, we will be taking the same classes and living together throughout the trip. Then, we have a week long break to travel wherever we'd like (destination yet to be determined). And then I will be off to Florence for another 8 weeks where I will be living with an Italian family.

At the moment, I'm watching "Notting Hill" to get in the British spirit and doing what feels like a thousand loads of laundry. I will be exceedingly happy when the packing process is complete. But I am sooo excited to begin my journey! I will try to blog routinely and keep everyone up-to-date.