God, how I miss couches

London has some great cafes, museums, places to walk around, but for the student, there are few places that offer supreme unwinding resources. My optimal version equates to

  • A couch with fuzzy pillows
    • blankets are bonuses
  • Soft lighting. Great ambiance is hard to find
  • Serene music or gentle silence
  • Pets are a plus

It may be April, but I feel my cosiness meter hasn’t yet met its quota for the past winter. Heck, we barely had any rain in London this spring! So with the lack of snow and bitter cold (utterly grateful, though) and even rain, I think I have some cosiness catching up to do. If you can’t find me this summer, check under blanket forts and quilts. And if that fails, seek out the knitting section of AC Moore. And whatever happens, you can certainly come over for teatime because heaven knows that habit won’t be ending anytime soon! Even bought my own teapot, cup, and saucer here!


If you couldn’t tell from my last post, April’s been sort of a lonely month for me. I have no classes, just tons of time to work on a paper and study for exams. Whereas I only have two, which are spaced out pretty well, my flatmates average something like six each (there’s no first semester exam period here) so they spend ALL DAY in the library. Seriously. Their friends are there to socialise, there’s a cafe for food (or they come back to the flat for an hour to eat or nap.) On the other hand, some of my American friends are using this time to jet-set because they only have papers due or exams late in the testing period. So, I’m more lonely than I’d like to be right now. But fear not- I found some lovely (but temporary) companionship in the fellas at the Spitalfields Farm! It was set up almost like a zoo in that people could walk amongst the animals. But it was a zoo with substantial meaning- not just a simple source of public education/amusement (I don’t believe in zoos.)

Most of my newfound besties are easy to see but some- let’s say the rather sheepish ones- fancied themselves some hide-and-go-seek.

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Watson or Holmes, a New Zealander

Watson or Holmes, a New Zealander!

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Hope ze wasn't embaaaarressed :/

Hope ze wasn’t embaaaaaaarressed :/

Was this sheep celebrating 4/20 a little early? Or just a baller? That face is difficult to translate

Was this sheep celebrating 4/20 a little early? Or just a baller? That face is difficult to translate

So, besides all that, not much else has been going on with the exception of writing a humongous paper for Geographies of Nature. It’s almost done: Fifteen double-spaced pages! The topic has been really cool to explore, though, and I’m more than happy to discuss it with anyone who’s interested. Basically, I begin by talking about a tool called a species meeting, where at least two organisms “meet”. This might occur when an ant nibbles off part of a leaf, someone goes bird-watching, or you eat a hamburger. Next, the paper goes into what species meetings can and can’t tell us about the nature of the human-animal boundary. An example of an advantage of a SM is that by thinking about the bacteria that live all over our bodies and are necessary for our survival, we can question whether humans should consider those other organisms as part of our identities. A disadvantage of a SM could be that they’re often difficult to arrange: there is an untold number of unidentified animals left to be discovered, or that many people mislabel species (how many times have you called an alligator a crocodile, or vice versa?) The paper wraps up with a discussion of what supposedly distinguishes humans from all other animals and then seeks to reconcile that boundary, concluding that human exceptionalism is a pretty dumb concept. Looks like I won’t be attending a Humanism festival anytime soon. But here are some festivities to come: an Edible Cake Garden, a Summer Craftacular, and a World Book Night giveaway!

The Power of Loneliness + PAUL SIMON

I’ve been in at least 2 situations where bouncers don’t bother to check my age while my companions get stopped- each of them older than me! Sorta cool.

Also, although I love being so distanced from America through boycotting a conventional smartphone texting service and its apps (snapchat, etc.) and facebook, I admit that that distance has left me feeling lonely more often than I like. Even 3 months in, it’s still sort of strange to rely on email, skype, this blog, and pretty much the post in order to contact friends and fam. However, I still think it’s worth it to stick it out until I return to the states. I’m not sure when I’ll get the chance to majorly de-tech myself (OMG that was an AWESOME PUN. ((detach ~ de-tech)) ) in the future without many formidable consequences. But then I think, but this is just like how it used to be… weird.

pullingtheplug

pulling the plug

Loneliness isn’t the same as being alone. As an introvert, I thrive on alone time and rarely feel lonely during those periods. However, although I do have an abundance of independent Sophie time at college, much more than during high school, that amount pales in comparison to the amount at Queen Mary. It’s probably because of a multitude of factors: less in-class instruction time, fewer extracurriculars, fewer friends (it’s worked out well- there’s more to it than just a number, though), etc. And don’t get me wrong- it’s not like I didn’t have enough activities or ideas to fill it. But the fact is that, at least for me, studying abroad exposed me to possibly the most unstructured free time I’ve ever faced (maybe barring childhood summers.)

Predictably, it’s been both favorable and disappointing at times. I’ve relearned how to motivate myself to start essays 3 weeks before they’re due (an eon in college time) but have also confronted new (and accordingly, scary) levels of self-reliance. Going into this experience, I think I understood this partially, but by being in a wildly new place and situation, it’s going to be pretty important to like yourself. You’ll be your only companion, navigator, (mental) conversation partner, and much more during many, many minutes. The specificity of that “many, many” is of course dependent on the type of person you are, but nonetheless, it will probably still be atypically high.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a stable group of pals since I was little. At school, camps, and other programs I’d prioritize forming bonds with the other kids. But here, although I’ve met some great people, I’ve sought the social interaction I crave in a pretty different way. Or maybe it just feels that way. Here, I supplement my social quota by chatting with strangers also waiting for a haircut or for the concert to start, per se. Relatedly, I feel human connection when

Thousands of strangers squeezed into one arena are suspended in the same energy-charged ether emanating from not just the world-class performers on stage but each other… Hands reach to encircle their lover’s waists, eyes close to minimize distraction from the music, and an undeniable feeling of togetherness unites the pulsing crowd. Even though I’ve come to this concert by myself, there’s no chance of feeling alone.

So yeah, Paul Simon and Sting… you might think of them as peanut butter and pickles, musically. But after being physically tired out by the hit-after-hit, nearly three hour long extravaganza, I have no choice to report that this fusion was incredibly successful. Of course, Sting had a chance to do his rock’n’roll thing and Paul Simon unleashed some particularly mellow tunes on his own time, but when they did collaborate, it was harmonious (PSIMON PUN). I lost track, but I think they played something like three separate encores, each bowling over the audience more than the last- “Cecilia”, “Every Breath You Take”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”… A total of 36 whopping songs.

Favorite parts:

-When Paul Simon first came on stage, which unexpectedly left me with a face slick with tears. I think it was because I was so happy to see such an influential musician who provided me with stories and harmonies that kept me feeling grounded and comforted during intense times of growing up.

-“You Can Call Me Al” sent the entire audience into a dancing, clapping frenzy. Paul definitely proved his power as a performer.

-“Every Breath You Take”. It was magical. Sting has the voice of a young rockstar, still- the timelessness of his performance was spellbinding.