Sunday, February 15, 2009

"Studying" Abroad?

I use that term very loosely. So it's been a while since I've posted anything... there's just no time to spare! Between school, work, and living in London, I hardly even have time to catch up on 30 Rock. I cannot believe I've been here for over a month! Let me recap some things I've done... 

I went to the London Philharmonic Orchestra, which was wonderful. I'm not gonna lie, I wouldn't voluntarily go to the orchestra without a reason in NY, but NYU was subsidizing the tickets, so a bunch of us went and I'm glad I did. The Orchestra performed all Beethoven, so it was very energetic. Definitely a worthwhile time... especially the bridge we crossed near Embankment to get to the theater. 

The Thames is just so beautiful to walk across (there are a bunch of bridges to do that)... it really breaks up the city in a good way. In my Writing London class we learn a lot about the geography of London, as it relates to the various stories we're reading. In the beginning of the 19th century, before bridges over the Thames, central London was much smaller and the Thames served as the boundary between the country and the city. It's really interesting to learn about that kind of thing as we read... so much of English lit takes place in very specific areas or even streets of London that are referenced so regularly. I hadn't realized that before I came here, but now it is great to be able to picture the road that Dickens's characters walk along or understand why Evelina doesn't like staying with her cousins in Snow Hill. I'd love to take a course about Writing New York... I hope they have that back home!

I also went to an absolutely fabulous tapas place in Islington. That is pretty much the hot spot for restaurants (according to me). Sangria, DELICIOUS food, and the added bonus of watching a salsa dancing class. A seriously wonderful time with good company... And also our waiter had the longest sideburns I've ever seen. I'm already thinking about when I can go back next... Sunday to Wednesday it's unlimited tapas for a tenner (10 pounds)!

This weekend it finally hit me that I am actually going to school here. I wrote my first paper, but for the first time in a while I actually didn't mind writing it... the paper was about van Dyck's English court portraiture, of which I had seen a lot first hand on field trips with my art history class. It really makes a difference when you're completely immersed in the subject and can see how it's applicable, rather than just considering it some history that has no real world implications. I've begun to walk around the city noticing the classical features of all of the buildings that were based on Inigo Jones's style. It's funny how you can learn about something that seems so inconsequential, but it can change the way you see things every single day.

This weekend was a very Spanish weekend... after doing tapas at La Tasca, I did Mexican at Desperados on Saturday, and went to Camino for drinks. Camino was also fabulous... we've concluded that Camino is what would happen if Spain became hipster. Funky, jazzy, and hip. Plus sangria. Basically... everything I look for in a bar. 

Watched a rugby match at a bar... but next weekend I get to go to a match! If you're wondering how rugby really works... don't worry. No one really knows the rules. We talked to some English people also watching the match, and they said it's too complicated to bother trying to figure out. But basically, it's a combination of soccer and American football. It looks like football b/c they don't wear padding and run around with the ball and tackle each other. But it's like soccer because play doesn't actually stop. The only inhibiting rule is that you can't throw the ball ahead of you. You can progress up the field by punting it or running with it, but can only throw it backward. And then people tackle you and steal the ball and run the other way. You have to run into the endzone and slam the ball on the ground to score a "try," then you kick a fieldgoal like in football. It's pretty dangerous / cool.

I'm also taking a day trip to Portsmouth and Wincester on Friday... it's required for my English class, but I'm not sure why. Apparently Jane Austen is buried there, but I'm not sure it will enlighten me to see her grave. I'm just mad that I have to be there at 7:45 a.m. Ew!

That's all for now. Work / class tomorrow. And now... Great Expectations. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Week 2ish

I can't believe I've only been here about 2 1/2 weeks. It feels like so much longer! I guess that's because I actually moved here and settled into a routine, rather than doing the usual vacation and touristy sort of stuff. Though I still make it pretty obvious that I'm a foreigner... especially when I examine each coin in my wallet to figure out how much it's worth while paying for things. Embarrassingly, more than a few cashiers have noticed and said "that's ten... that's twenty... that's five..." and I just sort of awkwardly reply "oh, right.. uh.. thanks..." 

On Friday I went to Cambridge. It is absolutely beautiful. I'll post some photos. I sort of had mixed feelings about the whole atmosphere of the place, though. Even though it was breathtakingly beautiful, it is literally the only thing in the town of Cambridge. People that go to that school must live and breathe university... because there isn't anything else there! That's partly what I love about NYU... it is so easy to have a life outside of the university. I do not think I would want to give that up, no matter how pretty a campus may be. 

I've been spending some time at this bar nearby called the Euston Flyer. It has a traditional English breakfast all day long (two fried eggs, two pieces of toast, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage, baked beans, coffee or tea). But if that isn't reason enough to go there, they have really unique ales (not that I can tell the difference, but so I've been told) and a really laid back environment. I've decided that will be my new bar to head to for meeting up with everyone before we all go out.

My friends and I decided we would have a wild night out last night since we hadn't done anything too crazy on Friday night... it was a great time... we went to three different places which were all great... until last call at only 11! Needless to say, our wild night did not end up being very wild. But definitely some fun places to go, as long as we find a different place nearby that closes later on. 

Today was Chinese New Year, which is apparently a really big deal here. We went down to Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square to see the festivities... In Trafalgar Square was a big stage with dancers and tons of people crowding around it. Leicester square was also crowded, with dragons and firecrackers. I have definitely had my fix of Chinese food for a while. 

Tonight some friends are going to a pub for the superbowl... but it doesn't begin until 11:30, so I may be a dork and stay home instead... I have to get up at 6 for work, and it is definitely hard enough to stay awake there when I am not super "lackard." My job here is not the most exciting... but at least I have one. 

OH. My most exciting news for the week. I've booked my spring break trip to... SICILY. I'll be going there for 6 nights with some friends, then heading back and my parents arrive the following day. I'm saving up a lot of the touristy London stuff for when they are here. I may or may not join the rest of my friends in Dublin when they leave. We will fly into Palermo, Sicily and hopefully stay in a hotel there. Can't wait =)

Andddd I can't wait for the middle of March when my sister and friend from home come to visit. I have to think of lots of fun things for us to do! 

I guess that's all for now. I'm going to the London Philharmonic this Wednesday... they are performing some Beethoven. Should be very culturally enlightening and all that.