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!


Glad-I’m-not-an-English-major week

Extremely concise revelation from studying abroad for just over 2 months:

I’ve learned more about myself in those two months than I did one year at Wes. At the very least.

This week I’ve written two essays and have one more due next week, totalling about 6500 words. That’s about 26 pages of double-spaced, 12-font words. As a science major, that’s way out of the ordinary and has been a big challenge. In case anyone cares, I wrote one essay about Perissodactyla, an order of ungulates whose members include tapirs, rhinos, horses, and the largest mammal to ever live; my second essay is about how museums appeal to emotion in order to educate visitors, using three examples of London museums; the last has an undecided thesis, but may be about colonialism and Jose Saramago’s “The Tale of the Unknown Island”. One more 4000 word beast due in April too. So yeah, words don’t come cheap this week!

Instead, I’ll share some pictures. Below are some pics of street art around Brick Lane, very unusual stores at a krazy-kool pop-up mall in Shoreditch, a lovely event celebrating International Happiness Day where I received free hand and back massages, candy, and a daffodil (and a pic with a bellboy host with whom I unintentionally cuddled up to because I had endorphins falling out of my ears, I was so happy), and a crazy haircut to top it all off. Long story short, I was a hair model for an academy and got a free haircut (would’ve cost about 60 pounds normally at this place!) that in the end turned out quite nice after I washed out all the mousse but for the rest of the day left me looking like orphan Annie’s stunt double. It’s straight now, but I have about half the hair I did before!

And one last thing- spontaneously bought tickets to see VAN MORRISON at the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday! I’m so freaking excited!!!!

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:

DSC01727 DSC01729 DSC01728

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:

School is starting

I don’t think, up til now, I’ve experienced much culture shock. Instead, I’ve been more inundated with the details of school beginning again, and what it means to have to be a freshman once more. Maybe the culture shock will show its beastly head later on. But man, it’s difficult to start school a weekend and a day after a two day orientation: finding buildings, experiencing my first frustration with the school’s infamous class scheduler, not knowing who to email and ask questions to. Although I’m very happy with my decision to be away from Wes for a semester, I do miss the ease of knowing how to navigate class selection, even if WesMaps had not been so kind to me.

Also, eating is difficult without a meal plan and a full-sized fridge! It’s cool that each student gets their own mini fridge, and that the kitchen is cleaned daily by staff. But that means that I have to bring downstairs each ingredient I’ll be using for a meal, and if I’m not freezing it (we have a big freezer, which is nice), I’ll have to find room in my tiny fridge to stow it away. This put a hamper in my plans to make a big lot of food on Sunday, or possibly Wednesdays (no class!) and eat it for the rest of the week. Not sure if that’ll work out or not. Maybe I’ll have to freeze instead of refrigerate?

Also, I was searching on 8tracks for a playlist with the goods: CSNY, James Taylor, Cat Stevens, etc. and one that popped up was called “Breakfast at Perk”, which playlistifies a coffee house located in Durham, CT! It was a beautiful playlist and felt like a long-distance blanket.

After going to my first class (European Society and Culture; 4-level (freshman); met 3 new kids; seems interesting/easy), I can confidently say that Queen Mary is way more diverse than Wes could ever hope to be. I’ve realized that, as much as a white middle-class American can demand, I need diversity to thrive. Life’s too short to surround oneself with a homogeneous, close-to-home outlooks. It thrills me when I feel like I’m part of the minority in the room or on the tube. Growing up in a 93% white town does this to you.

Somehow I’ve managed to befriend all the English and Drama majors. It feels like the biology kids are hiding. I know I’ll meet some in my Mammals and Evolution class tomorrow. But for now, in my science friend-devoid stupor, when I meet anyone vaguely interested in science- biochemistry, math, even pre-dental– I exclaim “that’s so cool!. My companion is often taken aback, but that’s okay. They say no one ever says majoring in math is cool. I’m glad to deviate from that sad, sad norm. (Shoutout to Sarah, my fabulous math/dance double major pal!)

Also, I feel a little burnout coming on. It’s strange, since without Facebook and a phone, you’d think this wouldn’t happen as quickly. Maybe it’s not burnout so much as it is lack of energy to keep in touch with everyone I want to (I’m lucky to care about so many people) and understand my schedule. Making friends hasn’t been very hard so far. I guess I understand that it takes time and I’ll meet a lot through all the clubs and activities and classes I intend to participate in.

Long post wrap up: Now! What are your favorite freezer-friendly recipes? I’m dying to know!