Be true to your eyes, or they’ll be false to you!

The title is a takeoff on a golden saying of my grandma: Be true to your teeth, or they’ll be false to you!

Memorizing the natural history of mammals, going to 1940s-themed clubs, and exploring London in scavenger-hunt fashion has been what’s up lately. I’ll explain.

I’m no wikipedia, but I do feel like a walking tome of mammalian evolution knowledge. My 3 essay, 3 hour exam for Mammals and Evolution, a 3rd year module, accounted for 75% of my final grade. Crazy, right?! In the US, a 40% final exam feels like a lot, but the UK system takes finals pressure to a new level. I think I did pretty well. One more exam for Geographies of Nature (50% of my grade) and then I’m DONE with junior year! I’m beyond ready to give my eyes a rest from hours and hours of staring at the computer, reading lengthy papers and revising powerpoints. I actually bought eyedrops yesterday.

dedicated to my TravelMate TM8471.


I recently visited Greenwich, the famous home of the Prime Meridian, as well as a bounty of cream-colored edifices strewn amongst emerald green lawns that reminded me of Saratoga’s Hall of Springs. It was very pretty and preppy and clean. I wasn’t bowled over but it made for a nice day trip. Anyway, while I was walking there, I saw this amusingly named restaurant and took a picture:

How nice to know I have friends stationed all over the city!

As I was about to continue on my journey down Salmon Lane, a nearby construction worker amiably hollered and asked what I was photographing. I replied that my focus was on the restaurant sign. He had thought I liked his yellow car.  And then he asked me to take a picture of himself, and how could I refuse? I really like how proud he looks. That smile can’t lie.

Just a minute before, upon seeing me look at a map, another person helped me figure out my directions. The people here are special.


On Wednesday, I went out with Erica, Beth, and her sister to a new 1940s-themed club called Cahoots in Soho. It was SO COOL! The menus looked like newspapers, the music was on point (albeit a bit loud), the servers were dressed in their best wartime threads, and the decorations were fascinating! My pictures turned out poor but my memories are vibrant (read more about that in my upcoming guest post for an online women’s magazine!) But I did get some good pics of the 1940s hairstyle I managed to finagle out of my unruly red locks. I’m too proud to not post a few:

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The doorman also kindly obliged to a photo:

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And finally, the scavenger hunt story:

Equipped with my handwritten directions taking us from Yelp’s favorite fish and chips shop to an art gallery to a photo developing store, Erica and I embarked on a long and winding day trip around West London. What made this day so different from many others was the level of interaction with locals. As the English are known for being particularly reserved, we Americans have felt this difference acutely. So when we went into three shops and each of the workers happily jumped into conversation with us, we were shocked! Phrase of the day: “Where are we?!

At the World’s End clothing shop, we were educated on a tidbit of Sex Pistols history and given a tip of where to find hidden troves of American foodstuffs right by the Saatchi Gallery. At this innovative gallery which contained art paired with poetry, the sales assistant pointed us in the direction of a hidden cemetery she had only just discovered after forty years of living around the corner. We chatted with another artist for a good fifteen minutes about this Russian magnate who spent half a billion dollars on art only to sequester it away as an investment. Again, this is one of the best things I’ve learned abroad: being social doesn’t always have to revolve around a friend group or romantic relationship. One can have many conversations with strangers that oftentimes end up being surprisingly thoughtful and engrossing. And you might end up learning something very unexpected!

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Three weeks until America. No sleep til Brooklyn!

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On Tuesday I won the BBC ticket lottery and saw a live recording of a BBC Channel 4 radio show! In addition to seeing the mostly invisible aspect of radio broadcasting, I saw some fantastic views of the rooms featured in the BBC news including the main desk where the anchors sit and the background loaded with workers collecting information about UK and world current events. Couldn’t take pictures of those areas, but luckily this experience didn’t end without a few greatly appreciated Doctor Who decorations.

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Yesterday, I got another haircut as a hair model for an academy. I’m telling ya, this is a great gig if you want to save money in exchange for a few hours of your time. My first experience took three hours for a high-fashion hairstyle that was priced around $100 but, for a hair model, was free. This experience was $25, took 2 hours, and will land me a spot on the academy’s website! I am such a fan of well-timed haircuts. It’s such a permissible way to feel pampered and like a million bucks!

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Foodie adventure time: BAO! Upon hearing heaps of great reviews coupled with a resilient craving for pork buns, I braved the queue and received this fella:

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the classic pork bun

I’m sad to admit it but it didn’t live up to my expectations. However, it was still lovely to nosh on and a great reminder that “top 10” lists aren’t sacredly true for everyone’s taste. That applies to destinations, music, food, and whatever else you can rate.


Next comes some snapshots of the gorgeous Green Park followed by pictures inside the imaginarium that is Fortnum and Mason.


Here is a glimpse into the London area of Brixton. The market there is teeming with life and spirit, as are the people who are currently fighting to prevent their market’s heart from being ripped out by the man. Really sad stuff. There’s a petition to sign if you like it when towns have souls.

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Finally, I’d like to end with some pictures of QM’s somewhat oddly-located cemetery. It’s smack in the middle of campus and it’s there because they didn’t want to disturb ages-old graves, which is a great call on their part even if it does make the campus a touch strange. But anyway, this cemetery is a wonderful way to include death in daily life, so to speak, in contrast to how we usually hide it away until we must deal with it when something dies. From a philosophical biologist’s perspective, it’s also wonderful to see a symbolic coexistence of life and death in the form of graves and flowers. It reminds me of a poem we used to read on Rosh Hashana about how life is intimately entwined with death. I don’t remember it exactly, but it depicts how a tree lives on eternally after it dies. Some of it returns to soil, ready to nurture new seeds. Its fallen trunk acts as a shelter for rabbits, and so on. The cemetery can also be construed as a way to refocus on the greater themes of life after stressing over finals for weeks.

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Happy Spring and Finals season!

After seeing an IMAX about space and nearly crying during its trailer because space is so beautiful (that’s another story), let me just remind you all that you are made of stardust and your last inhale probably contained an atom that also passed through the lungs of Cleopatra and that we are the universe attempting to understand itself.

Happy Thursday! 🙂

 

 

Oxford + ALL the parks

What comes to mind when you picture the scenery of “Pride and Prejudice”? Softly swaying weeping willow trees bending over a peaceful pond? With swans? How about luscious green grass running into the horizon with ancient beige buildings hugging its edges? This image could probably be from a Jane Austen novel or a bevy of other Victorian classics. Instead, I’m describing Oxford.

Even in the middle of March, Michelle’s study abroad college shone with magic that could easily inspire a novel such as PP. I’m telling you, it was amazing.

I saw about half the green when I visited. But yes, people live a minute’s walk from this paradise! (From Quaint Living blog, link in picture)

Here’s a good photographer who succeeded in documenting its beauty. My pictures can’t measure up but I’ll offer them nonetheless:

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It was a special kind of relaxing/fun to walk around the campus and town with Michelle, a good Wes pal. In addition to its health benefits, walking is also a great way to get creative thoughts flowing and stimulates great conversation. Less pressure to focus on faces and interpret body language (not a strong point for me.) Just gaze at nature and converse to a delightful friend. Glorious.

(On a tangent, I realized I’ll have taken four three-hour-long walks with five people in six days by Monday! I’m seeing a trend in how I like to spend time and initiate intriguing conversation…) And on the seventh day she rested. lol jk she wrote all of her essays and wished she were outside. Essays here sneak up so quickly!!

The second walk was around Regents Park, an impressively large park with beautiful scenery. That was with a friend I met on the Venice trip. Today, I went on a long walk in search of deer at Richmond Park (to our dismay, it was rainy, so no deer appeared) with the friend I met at the Staves concert. Tomorrow, I’ll be with Matthew and his friend touring London! By the time I return to the states, I’ll be fit enough to walk back to the UK! (wait, what?)


Some Richmond Park and market pics: