Immobilized by Choice + ELIOR visits!!!

I bet you’ve been there before- where you feel like, with choices overflowing every mind-tab you have open, you can’t fathom where to begin? Overwhelmed is a pretty accurate adjective. The situation isn’t inherently a bad thing- the feeling is, but the provocateurs aren’t always. Right now, I’m referencing two very important things: what I’m going to do with my summer, and what I’m going to do with my recent cornucopia-like food delivery. If you know me, you realize that these two decisions aren’t so different in weight.

Another reason for feeling paralysed by endless options is that I have a world-class city at my feet and a limited amount of time and moolah left. It’s certainly a great problem to have, but it’s still not without pressure and stress. I do hold myself to oftentimes unreasonably high expectations, but how could one not fear that dreaded moment when they’re 22, 42, or 82 and they felt regret about not spending their twenties/time abroad wisely enough? Honestly, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job of squeezing out as much London as I can thus far, and probably will continue to. But a challenge coming up is prioritisation: where to spend the big bucks, what’s worth my time (markets > / = / < studying??), and how much more orange chocolate bars I’ll allow myself to buy because they’re unique to the UK and I need to build a dependence on them so I can go through even harder reverse-culture shock, obvs. (no, not this!!)

So with that, let me share some things I have on my April/May to-do list. These things are part of a 45-tab bookmark folder, fyi. In the tiny chance you live in London and are my friend, gimme a shout if ya wanna join in.

Exciting and overwhelming, in a positive way 🙂


Just took a slide test for my Museums class and finished my European Culture and Society paper, so that means that I am completely done with 2 of my 4 modules! Only 2 exams and one paper to write before I leave at May’s end or June’s beginning.

All in all, these classes were really great. Although the Museums one was 95% Americans, it was a privilege to “study” a different London museum each class- a total of 11. Also just a note that each museum was free. London is crawling with free museums- a gift. The Euro class was also well worth it, even though most students were freshmen. I got a much-needed dose of European history conveyed through major movements, not sticky details of war and piles of Georges and Marys (can’t distinguish them to save my life.) Learned about colonialism, feminism, the Russian Revolution, and many other eras through literature and film, which was really cool. This class was taught by a different professor each week, which also livened it up and only once was it boring! (structuralism, anyone?)


So, ELIOR came and visited!! We’re on Year 9 of friendship. So yeah, she is sort of my #1 and gosh, I could write odes and sonnets (already have, check those birthday cards yo) and endless interpretive dances about how much she means to me, which she knows, and I know, so let’s stop there and look at nutty pictures of us at a Tove Lo concert instead. LOVE YOU ELIOR!

Tove really did an awesome job, and her opening act, Urban Cone, offered some of those deeply satisfying beats and electronic soundscapes you can feel with your whole body.

Friendship year 3: Homecoming 2008 waddup!

We also walked around Notting Hill and Portobello Road, then ventured to Buckingham Palace for some classic awkward Eliophie pics so here’s a bunch of those too!

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Crafting cameras out of toast and other tales

When I heard about an event where the participants build sculptures out of bread, I found myself torn between feeling unbelievably excited and pondering my sanity. I mean, which 21-year-old would choose to make a glorified gingerbread house in the middle of March when they could be giving their livers a fine reason to fail? This girl.

Erica, Holly (another Venice trip friend) and I courageously entered the competition and ended up creating a glutinous replica of my camera. It was very detailed, with “Sony” written on an upper panel, a cord, a picture-taking-button (what’s it actually called?) that ROTATED, a lens, and a screen on the back with a (what else) cat on it. Erica was responsible for that masterpiece.

But seriously, this was no less than a full-blown competition. I can’t speak for my teammates, but I know that I felt more mature than half the adults clobbering each other in the dance off (can you guess who our team nominated?) and racing to their toasters for optimally burnt construction materials. We nabbed the Diva toaster, and ze did us proud. ❤

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the front

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the back (see the cat?!)

our workhorse

our workhorse

All in all, a terrifically random and fun experience. Here are more pictures of others’ artworks including Jesus on the cross, the Colosseum, Kevin Spacey on his house of cards, and the Titanic. This is why I love London! People actually FLOCK to crazy events like this!


The next day was the Chocolate and Wine & Cheese festival!! Main takeaways:

  1. When offered “water ganache”, ALWAYS SAY YES
  2. Sample until you drop (or, your ego does.) Then regroup and scope out overlooked venues for more delicious bits (after all, we did pay an entry fee.)
  3. End it with a trip past Ottolenghi (the restaurant whose master chef creator put out a cookbook which you literally read cover-to-cover) to window-shop and gaze at lustfully, then plant yourself at the world’s most wonder-ful reading room on earth and feel like a desert dweller because cheese is saltier than ocean water and you didn’t think to bring water. Then hydrate with a full pot of tea at home and find Community to be one of your favorite shows in a long time. (This one might be hard to orchestrate but I believe in you all!)

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Venezia!

veniceThis 26-hour trip was organized by the fantastic QM Travel Society, a small group of third-years with lovely personalities. They were so welcoming and funny, a perfect combination for our “mothers and fathers” who led us around all day. Not to mention good-looking! I was so impressed by how BEAUTIFUL the group was, overall! Not just outwardly, but also (yes, brace yourself for the cliche) inwardly 🙂

yup, I went there.

But for real, these kids were a treasure chest of loveliness. I was so glad that they were my companions for the day. The lack of sleep and magic of the trip allowed us to all talk to one another freely, connecting in ways that I usually feel after multiple hang-outs or a semester of club meetings.

A challenge of Venice was the unfortunate lack of respect from others who slowed down the group by taking triple the time allotted for lunch and getting lost without good cell service. Maybe that’s why my opinion of Venice isn’t shiny and happy; I didn’t get to see too much, the usual structure of my trips. Yes, I love talking with people, but when I’m in Venice, I’m there to SEE it, not hang around tacky souvenir stands while waiting for all 30 of us to finish whatever and move on.

So yeah, Venice didn’t blow my mind. Having recently departed from Amsterdam, perhaps I was still used to the widespread waterways that mystified everyone else. Didn’t get to check out some of the major sites either, only getting to the Rialto bridge (not that great), pizza and gelato (the latter severely disappointing), and a gondola ride (WORTH IT!) We did a lot of walking, which was great, but the group was slow and complained a lot towards the end.

A schedule of the trip:

Midnight-2 am: “Social”

2-6:30: Transport to and in the airport

6:30-8:30ish: Flight to Trevisio

8:30-11ish: Getting to Venice

11ish-7: In Venice

7-8: Bus to airport

8-midnight: Waiting for and being on flight back

midnight to 1:15ish: Waiting at immigration

1:15ish-2: Bus back to campus

Yes, it was QUITE the long day!

And now, the moment you’ve been awaiting: Photos!

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And because you can’t see it too well in the slideshow, this artwork gets extra attention because it’s just AWESOME

LOVE THIS SIGN

LOVE THIS SIGN!

Prague + Amsterdam: Part One

“You win some, you lose a lot.”

That quote is a gem of miss Erica, one of my lovely tripmates. It’s not meant to be taken too heavily- just a way of humourously validating that travel can lead to situations involving unfortunate losses, like unpredictable ATM fees and astonishingly rude packs of college boys (>= 9) who think that an easyjet flight is a great excuse to plug up the aisles while drunk off of smuggled alcohol and upset everyone around them. But that’s not to say that obstacles always overpower the magic of travel! Indeed, we had a wonderful trip. Prague was definitely more fun than Amsterdam for some reasons I’ll list soon, but overall, Erica, Beth and I enjoyed the companies of each other and the cities we speed-dated over reading week.

I learned so much over the course of this one week trip. Lemme sum it up Buzzfeed-style:

4^01 Secrets All Twentysomethings Only Learn While Travelling Abroad

  1. Just like the title of this absurd list, be vigilant of advertisements and offers. For example, while walking around the Charles Bridge in Prague, we were inundated with at least 4 Thai massage shops advertising 9,99 euro massages. The next day we happily popped inside, our sore feet and knotted backs aching, only to discover that that rate applied for 2 hours in the morning for a 15 minute foot massage. Also, we knew this before, but worth noting that on our table once laid an unassuming bag of peanuts that cost money if you ate them. We made sure to always indicate tap water when ordering drinks.
  2. Even if you do feel ripped off at such massage place in Prague, GET ONE ANYWAY. Or, in the case of us, get two. That’s right. Prague was so inexpensive that it was completely worth it. I could justify our decision with mentions of birthdays and body aches and low prices and such but I won’t. Two massages in two days = YES.
  3. If you want time to shower and brush your teeth in a hostel room with eight people and one bathroom stall, you either sprint out of bed after your alarm clock wakes everybody up, or you go at a strange hour when no one is up. This is harder to accomplish, though, since the hostellers we met slept at all hours (more about that below: See N&R)
  4. Great strategy for experiencing the day sights and nightlife with limited energy and time: the Nap and Rally (N&R). This genius idea also originated with Erica. Basically, do stuff all day, slog back to your hostel around dinnertime, sleep like a log for an hour (Nap), and then use all of your newfound energy to wake yourself up and go out for another 6-8 hours at night (Rally). This may include a trip to an 80’s/90’s music video disco club with a fellow Chilean hosteller where you dance all night and absolutely do. your. thang.
Erica, me, Beth just after arriving in PRAGUE!

Erica, me, Beth just after arriving in PRAGUE!

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pre-departure excitement

Even though I strove to leave much of the cities in their physical locations and resist from trying to capture every detail in photographs (i.e. I *only* took 250 pics in 8 days), I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed by the task to tell you all about the trip in sufficient detail, so I’m gonna start with a slideshow of some pictures and will provide narratives in the next post(s?). Enjoy! (Alert to EVERYBODY who told me to take lots and lots of pictures: This is your moment!!)

I met Darwin’s pet octopus

Yesterday, my Geographies of Nature class went on a field trip to the Natural History museum. I cannot say enough about the experience- I was overwhelmed with adoration and sheer joviality for everything natural history. I wore my Darwin earrings. I geeked out at EVERYTHING IN SIGHT. I sort of had the time of my life.

This is a good time to note that this post will contain some pictures of animals in jars and giant squids and all that good stuff. I’m sure if it’s too weird you can just look away and forget about it after a few seconds but, like my peer said after looking at a preserved animal in a jar, you may have thoughts similar to “Thank god I’m vegan” or “I’m now officially vegan”.

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Highlights:

-Meeting some of Darwin’s pets and original type specimens. These are the animals that are sometimes the first of a species that are found, or are the prototypical specimens against which organisms that are proposed species members are compared for identification. Could be wrong about some of that but I think that’s the gist of it.

-Surviving a close encounter with a GIANT SQUID

Length: about 17 feet long. Keep in mind that this was only a teenager giant squid!

Their eyes are as large as dinner plates and their brains are doughnut shaped. So when they eat, it first TRAVELS THROUGH THEIR BRAIN before getting to their stomach!! #Thisiswhy I love science.

Here’s a striking illustration that really shows off that eye:

-Meeting a new friend, Mo, who was a very fun museum companion for the day. I could tell we’d be friends after, looking at a crack on a big glass case containing a giant moa, he asked, “Do you think it tried to escape?”

the comedian himself

the comedian himself

Darwin fangirl pics:

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And just because you’ve made it this far, have a look at this. Just for laughs.


I also found a wonderland of maps and globes: Stanfords. My jaw dropped when I stepped in. It felt like a sanctuary. I suppose that my inability to buy everything I liked added to this magical effect because I appreciated just looking at it all and not feeling an urge to own it. Just being inside this sort of cartographic museum made me glow with happiness.

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I added a pigeon on the steps of the British Museum for fun. Went there with a class and it was cool. Didn’t see much because I focused on one room for a synopsis of curatorial techniques and the like. Saw the controversial Elgin/Parthenon Marbles.


Talking with my flatmate Joey last night, he saw my slim slice of Neal’s Yard Dairy stilton cheese on the counter and we got talking about (how we can never stop talking/thinking about) food. He told me his story of how after high school, he didn’t know what he wanted to do so he came to London and worked at the deli area of Selfridges. He was quickly promoted to work at the luxury foods counter (!) He said that for most of the day he’d be standing around but one customer might come and spend an hour with him, necessitating a near-encyclopedic knowledge of caviar, alcohol, and cheese. Then they’d drop a few thousand pounds on something they’d consume in a tenth of that time. What a story.


That’s a lot for now. Am going back to the Natural History Museum next week for my museums class and then again for my mammals and evolution class later this term! SCORE!

Also, when I was looking for pictures of the NHM, I stumbled upon the image below and then the link to Zarek’s dad’s webpage. Hi Zarek!

darwinning. Not for darwimps!

good friends + good markets = good life

Some backstory

Only a couple days to go. It’s getting real!

Lemme just take a sec to explain why I swapped out my Facebook page with this blog.

For years now, I’ve (very vocally) struggled with how to maintain a fruitful life and an honest yet fun Facebook persona. Dissecting both theory and practice have proved to be most difficult. I often go on small hiatuses for a few days at a time to escape the environment where you’re expected to uphold an ever-slippery combination of happy, successful, funny, etc.- you know the story.

About a year ago (or was it two?), I got fed up and decided to leave it. Those couple months were real-life living; filled with moments that I wasn’t obligated to evaluate and deem clever enough to throw into my online community, then have faith that enough “friends” would return some sick sort of validation. For that stretch of time, I decided against making myself eligible for near-constant contests of popularity, humor, looks, success (staged by myself and others.) For that time, there was an undeniable peace and increase in self-esteem.

The sad part was that without the site, I couldn’t hear about nearly as many campus events and parties. Checking bulletin boards wasn’t enough. The semester before, I’d heard about a life-changing event a couple days before it was held. The only location it was publicized was Facebook. I felt that it was worth it to be a type of slave to the technology if I could, in return, optimize the opportunity for hearing about activities, some of which would be restricted to Facebook. The logic went that, when I wasn’t at Wes, such as during the summer and breaks, I could reasonably disconnect from the site without (unbearable) consequence. So, that’s what I’m doing now.

So, without a FB or texting-y phone to use for the next 5 months (I see an ever-glitzy tracfone in my future!), I hope I won’t have to work so hard to have a life if ya know what I mean!