Not going to lie, it’s weird being home. I miss the Tube, I miss Trafalgar Square, I miss Speedy’s, I miss foggy mornings and passing by St. Bart’s Hospital on the bus in the mornings and a million other things. I even miss carrying my Oyster card and UK mobile, because it meant I was still in London.

Life is so quiet, and everything’s pretty much the same as when I left it. Almost like a whole three and a half crazy months were an incredible dream. Which it was, believe me. I’d been aching to go to London every since I was a little kid. Something about it always seemed so magical.

Parents were super excited to see me, and everyone wants to talk about London, so that’s been pretty great. Talking about it keeps London alive. Reminds me that it happened. I’m still rubbing it in that I met Tom Hiddleston.

I went to my high school as soon as I got back, and it was so lovely to see all my teachers and show them how I’ve grown. I feel different from being in London. I feel like I’m more me, if that makes any sense. London definitely helped me figure a few things out about myself and what’s really important to me. It’s a nice feeling.

I miss London. I miss it every day, and I know that I’m itching for my chance to be back, but I like that being home has allowed me to see what I’ve brought with me. It shows that I adjusted to a new life because things felt different and were a bit odd when I got back. I know that I love London beyond belief. I’ve learned which friends want to stay in contact. I figured out a ton about living on my own and how to keep a flat together. I met some incredible people, did some unbelievable things. I still need to meet Benedict Cumberbatch….

Anyways, next semester will be a big shift, but changes are good. They keep life exciting, and that adjustment will certainly keep me from being bored next semester, which is probably my biggest fear. I want challenges and excitement, and I know Skidmore will give that to me, but I have a tendency to worry.

Till next semester! xx

P.S. Guess it’s a good time to mention that after seeing the writers, Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss (also Mycroft Holmes on the show) of Sherlock talk, I was lucky enough to meet them at book signing a few weeks later. My life is seriously ridiculous and wonderful.

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An Amazing Week.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends.

One of the photos we got of Tom signing. :)

Well, my week has been incredible so far and it’s only Wednesday!

It’s been a weird mixture of packing and finals and trying to do a lot of last minute things.

On Monday, I went to the Life of Pi premiere in Leceister Square to see if I could meet some celebrities. I was lucky enough to meet Stephen Fry, who was a bit busy and said “Blimey!” a lot. We were fortunate enough to get a picture with him before he dashed off.

Then we waited and waited, and finally were giving up hope of anyone else coming when we saw Tom Hiddleston coming down the carpet. For those of you who don’t know, he played Loki in the Avengers and was in other movies like War Horse and Midnight in Paris. He was really rushed for time, so he couldn’t take photos and he was scribbling frantically trying to get everyone in.

I brought him a drawing I did of him from when he was Henry V in the BBC’s Hollow Crown series this summer. He signed the girls’  stuff next to us and talked to them a bit. Tom didn’t quite notice my drawing at first, but as soon as he saw it he came to a complete stop, and exclaimed, “Oh, wow, look at this!” And I said hello, and told him thank you as he took my sketchbook to sign it for me. I expected him to sign it quickly and move on, but then I saw him write out an O, which then became “Once” and I immediately knew he was writing out, Once more unto the breach from Henry’s beautiful St. Crispin’s Day speech in the Shakespeare play. After I got myself back together after this incredible moment from him of taking the time (which he really didn’t have) to write that out for me, I told him how amazing I thought he’d been when I initially watched his performance. He was touched, I think, and he told me, “No, no, THIS is amazing, I could never do this!” To which I told Tom I could never do what he did.

He was so excited about my art and so genuinely appreciative that this might take the top spot of my favourite London moment of this trip. I’m honored by his exclamations and incredibly touched by him taking the time to write out the quote, showing he recognized the drawing and what it was from. He most certainly didn’t have to do or say anything about it, other than scribble his name and move on. He took the time to stop and engage me instead when it was cold and he was already crunched for time, and I’m so grateful to him for it.

Finals, on a completely new note are going pretty well, I’m just glad to be almost done. We’ve got some fun adventures coming up to celebrate as well! Ice skating in Hyde Park and dinner at the restaurant we had our first group dinner at!

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Crystal Castles, Brixton 2012

The wonderful girls we hung out with!

Saturday night was one of the most surreal moments of my life. I’d been waiting to see Crystal Castles live for at least a year, probably closer to two, as I always seemed to miss them when they toured in my area. When I was able to get tickets in early September, I could hardly believe my luck, and I was beyond excited for this moment to see one of my favorite bands, in LONDON, no less.

Then I started to get nervous as the day got closer. The crowds are notorious for their roughness, and the music seems to encourage it, as well as the lead singer Alice giving audience members a free pass to do as they pleased.  I’d read that it wasn’t too bad, and it might be a little intense at times, but everything would work out.

Intense is a good word for it. We were second row after meeting some fabulous girls in the queue outside in the cold and rain. We all stood together, waiting and waiting and waiting until Ethan and Alice decided to come out. One of the longest waits I think I’ve ever encountered. Then, it was MADNESS as soon as Ethan stepped out. The whole crowd rushed forward, crushing everyone together as the haunting synths came through the speakers.

Just as I didn’t think it could get any crazier, Alice Glass came out, and the place exploded. It was so packed and so hot it was hard to breathe, with strobe lights either blinding you or slowing everything down to a surreal half-dreamlike state. With the music blaring, it was an exhilarating, if utterly terrifying experience at times. Alice would often fling herself on to the crowd, causing rushes to get to her. Her head would pop up out of the sea of hands, sometimes mere inches from me, close enough that I could touch her. An insane moment to have these people who are so incredibly talented so close, and see them at their art.

One of the best nights of my life, I haven’t felt so alive in a long time. Thank you, Crystal Castles, and thank you London. xx


(Still waiting for Cabin Pressure tickets, come on BBC….)

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Running Out of Time

Wow. Two weeks left. Two weeks. I really don’t want to leave! I’m excited for Skidmore, definitely, but I feel like I fit in London. I can see a life here. I know it’s early yet, but I feel so comfortable here, and I love that.

It’s been such an adventure, and it’s been some of the best moments of my life. So many amazing things have been crossed off my list of things to do, along with so many other things I never thought I’d be able to do!

There’s more to do as well! Tomorrow night I see Crystal Castles, one of my favorite bands of all time, and I’m so incredibly excited. It should be fantastic.

Also, last weekend, I went to SHERLOPALOOZA hosted by the fabulous Baker Street Babes, a Sherlock Holmes podcast group, and it was an amazing day of watching Sherlock and raffles. We also had a Q&A with Michael Price and Joe Lidster. Michael Price is one half of the fantastic composing duo for the soundtrack, and Joe writes Sherlock’s website and John’s blog online in real life. It was really incredible to hear them talk about what they do and how they do it, as they often get neglected for the stars of the show and the writers (who I was lucky enough to see the weekend before!)

So great to see so many other fans!

If I’m lucky, incredibly lucky, I’ll be able to see a radio recording of Cabin Pressure with Benedict Cumberbatch, but BBC’s ticket process is really quite ridiculous due to the demand. We’ll see, fingers crossed!

And of course, finals are soon, so the dreaded studying period begins soon.

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The Game is On!

On Sunday, I went to the Criterion Theatre in Piccadilly Circus to see a talk with the cast of BBC’s Sherlock.  It was an incredible time, and an amazing opportunity to see some of the cast together before they begin filming the third series in January. They have an incredible chemistry together, and clearly have so much fun with each other. It was especially exciting to see Martin Freeman, who plays John Watson, before the Hobbit comes out–I have a feeling he will explode once the film is released. Also wonderful were the writers of the  show–Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, who were able to talk about their writing process a bit, though much is classified because of the stressful cliffhanger they left us last season.

London’s been amazing for these rare opportunities, and it reminds me why I love this place.

I also went the Natural History and V&A museums today, both of which are incredible. Highly recommended and FREE! Very important detail, I find. So much to see from so many time periods and mediums, not to mention both buildings feature gorgeous architecture.

Course registration is done! It was fast, and there weren’t any problems! Nice to have that done. Another thing that I don’t have to worry about!

All in all, a good couple of days!

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Exciting things!

The Menin Road–Paul Nash

In about a week, I register for my second semester classes. It’s an overwhelming process at the beginning, but once you sit down and think it out, it becomes so much easier. I’ve got a schedule planned, so here’s hoping I get the classes I want! I feel so much less stressed about it than I was a week ago. Nice to have a plan.

I went to the Imperial War Museum today, which was an incredibly moving experience. The Holocaust exhibit is incredibly emotional, and gives an amazing insight into the life of the camps. Also, they had a series of Paul Nash paintings, which are INCREDIBLE. They are so fragmented and geometric and really show the chaos of trench life and the Great War in general. They were also used as concepts for the design of the Parade’s End scenery,  a show that was on BBC recently based on Ford Madox Ford’s incredible novel about the war. Really worth a watch and a read, Benedict Cumberbatch and Rebecca Hall are astounding in it. It’s been well suited to my classes with it’s Pre-Raphaelite ties, and its setting during the war. It’s been useful in a lot of discussion–most of my professors have read/watched it as well.

Also, Guy Fawkes day was last night and we went and saw some beautiful fireworks in Southwark. Totally worth the cold, as it’s an experience we don’t have in the US, and the fireworks were so cool.

Happy Election and voting, it’s been interesting to watch from the UK–lots of explaining things that Britons wouldn’t know in the papers. Nice to see a different view.

The Game is On on Sunday, with essentially the entire Sherlock except for Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock) and Andrew Scott (Jim Moriarty) but still an incredible experience for a die-hard fan like me!

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General Updates

It’s cold in London. Cold. Very cold. Tights and trousers and jumpers and scarves cold. But I like it, much better than being gross and sweaty during the summer. Kinda strange when it’s in the 70s in Maryland. People are still wearing shorts!

Despite this, we went on a Jack the Ripper tour last night! We got to see where all the people he murdered were killed. Most of them were in Spitalfields, not too far from our building. It really makes you feel safe, you know? But that was the East End in the 1800s for you. Nice and safe. It was also cool, because it coincided exactly with our history course, so some of us had already learned a  lot of what he told us. That’s always a nice feeling. It really hits home how rough life was for those trying to scrape by in the East End of London.

Life has returned to normal with classes, though I think I’ve booked every weekend in November with something to do. Oops. Lots of things coming up. The Ballet, the new James Bond movie,  a football match, two separate Sherlock events in a week (I’m beyond excited–you’ll hear more of that) and a concert all coming up in about three weeks. It’s going to be hectic and insane, but I’m ready to do things in the short time I’ve got left here. I’m really dreading leaving. I love it here too much to want to go home!

(Got most of my midterm grades back, I survived. Life is good.)

More updates once all of these things begin! It’s the calm before the storm right now.

Also, all of you affected by the hurricane coming, please be safe and stay dry! xx

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Scotland was AMAZING! We travelled to Edinburgh from London, and spent the night there. The city was really interesting– a lot of narrow alleyways and beautiful stone buildings. And good food!  Instead of going to the castle, we climbed Calton Hill, where there are these incredible monuments that look like they belong in Ancient Rome instead of Scotland. They gave us an incredible view of the city below, and it was wonderful to be out in nature like that again, though it was nothing compared to the next day .

The next day, we took a bus to Glencoe. I spent a lot of the ride slightly panicked about the weather. Cold and rainy in Edinburgh, not exactly the best day for hiking. But it cleared quickly, and the views on the journey were unbelievable. Soaring mountains in shades of greens, browns, yellows and reds, transitioning for autumn. The water was like a mirror reflecting the sky and clouds with not a ripple in site. It was breathtaking, literally, and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made to go to Glencoe. It was exactly what I had been looking for, and it was so refreshing and liberating to be out among it, free to wander.

Moving on to Inverness, it was FREEZING at a nice -2° C when we arrived at night and in the morning. The city was beautiful, though, with the River Ness cutting through and these adorable walkways with houses and even coloured lights strung across them. Also, our guest house was so lovely and cozy with homemade food and a nice warm shower!

Lastly, Glasgow was fun just for it’s art gallery alone. It’s an odd city, with a Boston feel, if it was crossed with the steep streets of San Francisco and a bit of London. By this point, we were exhausted and ready to be home in London, but  we also went to the Willow Tea Rooms where we had an amazing brunch of sandwiches, scones, cake and more tea that I ever thought I could drink (and I drink tea like it’s my job). Delicious, and relatively inexpensive, it was a fabulous way to spend a few hours.

As always, it’s great to be back in London, as I miss the city whenever I leave it. It’s really starting to feel like home instead of just London, and it’s an incredible feeling.


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Midterms and Break!

So, it’s midterms here in London, and so far so good. I had Art & Architecture today, and it was pretty much like taking the essay section of an AP test. I felt like I knew what I was doing, and it was so much better than I thought it would be! Tomorrow I’ve got a Literature exam on the Wasteland by T.S. Eliot. We’ll see how that one goes, though I think it will be alright.

Also, the President of Skidmore and his wife came to visit today, which was wonderful! A great opportunity to chat and get to know them a little. They’re super nice and so genuinely interested in us having a good experience here, reminding me why I picked Skidmore, really. My high school was very close knit, and I knew I needed that at my college, too.

On Monday, I leave for SCOTLAND! Woohoo! I’m going to Edinburgh, Glencoe, Inverness, and Glasgow. I promise tons of pictures, it’s going to be beautiful. I only hope it’s not too cold.

Lots more soon, life isn’t too exciting right now. <3

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Busy, busy, busy.

Life is picking up with midterms next week! Luckily, I’ve only got two: Art & Architecture, and Literature, two of my favorite subjects.

College midterms are a bit different here in London; the stakes are a lot bigger. For example, my Understanding Britain term paper is worth half of my grade for that course. It’s a bit more stressful, but also gives you more time to get work done. No more busy work, which is a really nice change from last year for me. Lots of busy work for AP classes and my thesis.

In other, more exciting new, we had a trip to Brighton this past Saturday, and I took a field visit to Highgate Cemetery for Literature today. Brighton is beautiful, being on the south coast of England, so there’s a rocky beach and a glorious view of the ocean. There’s also the Royal Pavilion , which may be one of the silliest and most incredible places I’ve ever been. Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed, so I haven’t got any to share. But to give a little context, it was built by the Prince Regent who would become King George IV, and it features Indian architecture on the outside, and chinoiserie (for my fellow French speakers ;D), or essentially an Oriental style on the inside. It’s lavish, ornate, and huge, made for parties and awing guests. It worked.

Highgate is the complete opposite. A huge, and massively important Victorian cemetery, it’s beautiful in a morbid way. There’s over 50,000 graves, and that’s about half the people who are buried there. If you ever come to London, go. It’s unbelievable. It’s also the resting place for some incredibly interesting people: Karl Marx, Adam Worth (the alleged basis for Professor Moriarty in Sherlock Holmes), George Eliot (buried under that name, interestingly enough, despite being a woman) and plenty of others. It’s a bit of a hike from the nearest Tube station, however, so be prepared to walk.

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