28 June 2009

Liverpool: Home of the Beatles and other cool things too

Ok. So I didn't just go to Liverpool this week, but that was mostly it. That was the exciting part at least.

On Monday, I took two walking tours - one not by choice and the other by choice; however, both of them were extremely disappointing. Naturally, the one I did not do by choice was for class. Our professor, Malcolm Dick - yes, that is really his name - took us around the Mayfair area of London. Mayfair is an extremely swanky, up-scale area and he lectured on what it would have been like to live there 100 years ago or so. The way he chose to do this was absolutely ridiculous - he lined a bunch of us up according to the caste hierarchy and made us all really uncomfortable by saying we were married, etc. Also, apparently if you were wealthy back in the day you displayed pineapple outside your house.
After class, Mel and I went on a self-guided walking tour of the Kensington Gardens area - what a joke. First of all, we got lost. Second of all, a park that belongs to the Royal Family should be kept better. Third of all, Kensington Palace don't close 30 minutes before you are supposed to.

Friday night, Mel, Christie and I went to see Romeo and Juliet at the Globe, THE GLOBE. What an experience. We had standing tickets, or we were "groundlings" to use Shakespeare terms. It was fun to watch the cast members weaving through the see of people in the yard. Highly enjoyable. Juliet was rather disappointing, however. Everything else was fantastic.

Saturday I woke up extremely early so that I could shower and be ready to go by 07:30. I took the national rail system to Liverpool, stopping first in Chester and changing trains. I actually arrived in Liverpool around 11:20. I got lost whilst trying to find my hotel and wandered all over hell and gone looking for it. Nothing over here is clearly labeled, so even after I stopped at a bookstore and purchased a map I still couldn't figure out where I was going. Alas, I found it around 12:15. I stayed at the International Inn/Cocoon - it was rather pleasant. I had my own room with a king size bed and flat-screen TV.
Being that it was already almost 14:00 when I got going on Saturday I made the decision to just wander around and not try to see anything specifically - I would do that on Sunday. The city of Liverpool made the decision not to demolish a church that was bombed during WWII - St. James Church - and it was absolutely breathtaking. Most of what I took pictures of on Saturday was what Liverpool used to be. For my class I have to write a research paper and I am doing mine on Liverpool, so I made sure to document, in photographs, the change from past to present.
The major attraction on Sunday was the Beatles Story. I spent a good three hours there and I have to admit that when I made it to the end and they had a section dedicated specifically to John Lennon I started to cry a little bit. He was such a beautiful human being and he was taken much too soon. It was neat to see their story from beginning to end...I never knew they had so many members before finally settling on the four that we all know today.
After visiting the Beatles Story, I continued on my walking tour which takes you through the Cavern Quarter - an area frequented by the Beatles. In fact, the club where they were discovered is down there as well as two other pubs where they used to hang out before and after shows. I went into the Cavern Club and it gave me chills...to stand where the Beatles may have once stood was crazy! I was in Beatles heaven.
Unfortunately, I was not able to visit Penny Lane or Strawberry Fields because they were in the suburbs of Liverpool and I was in the city centre. I took pictures of them at the museum :) I learned last night that Abbey Road is just up the street from where I am currently living, so I will be going to visit that soon!

I saw lots of other stuff too, but it was all boring kinds of things like museums and statues. I just really wanted to tell you about the Beatles.

See all the rest of the pictures in my facebook album:


21 June 2009

Yes, I know I've been in London for 2 weeks...part 2

14 June 2009

I met Megan and Leonard at their hotel at 11:00 and we went to Covent Garden. The Covent Garden market is just fantastic. I bought the most beautiful amber ring - my most expensive impulse purchase since arriving in London - and two photographs of a famous graffiti artist's work. We wandered around the Oxford and Regent Street area for the rest of the day. When we came back to my room we bought tickets online for a Derren Brown show. Leonard was absolutely geeked - he loves Derren Brown.

15 June 2009

I woke up even earlier because I was meeting Megan and Leonard at Regent's Park by 10:00 - we were in a bit of a time crunch because I had class at 13:30 and we wanted to go to The Globe and lunch beforehand. While Megan and I toured The Globe Leonard went to the Big Ben area and took pictures.

The Globe was amazing. They were able to replicate it almost exactly using personal accounts from people alive at the time and by extrapolating from what little of the foundation they were able to find. It is called The Globe because they have designed the stage in such a way as to represent hell, earth, and heaven - and the theatre encompasses it all. They even used the same materials that they would have used "back then". All of the props and costumes for the shows are made by hand using processes from the time period the play would have been taking place.

After the tour, while eating a panini, I rushed to class to learn about British newspapers - what a waste of three hours. Afterward, I met Megan and Leonard in Leicester Square and the Transformers 2 premiere was going on. I've got pictures of a gigantic Bumblebee, Shia LeBouf, Josh Duhamel, and Tyson Beckford - so exciting!

The Derren Brown show was brilliant. He is an illusionist. I have no idea how he does what he does and am at a loss for words to describe it. It was unbelieveable! We said goodbye to each other on the train home before I got off to go back to my room.

16 June 2009

Tuesday meant more work. The day went by really fast because I was going offer letter after offer letter, all day long. After work, I took the bus to Piccadilly Circus because I had a ticket to see "Waiting for Godot" with Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen. I got dinner on the way to the theatre and went to take pictures outside before the show. Ian McKellen is hilarious - his comedic timing is perfect. It was a really good show.

17 June 2009

Wednesday was boring. I was doing more of the same, except I've finally got a log-on name and an email account. I've also filled out the paperwork to get a name badge. Once I get it I will finally feel like I belong. In the afternoon I was told that next week I am going to start training on the ESR system so that I can work with employee records and I'll be starting a rotation around to the different areas of human resources! They even said that I might get to sit in on interviews and disciplinary meetings. I ended the day dreading work on Thursday because I knew it would suck knowing what was coming the next week.

I went grocery shopping after work and then we started booking weekend trips. So far, we're planned trips to Ireland, Scotland, Amsterdam and Paris. I also booked a solo trip to Liverpool so that I can start doing research for my paper. We also want to go to Barcelona and Italy.

18 June 2009

Work on Thursday was fantastic. I met the HR manager and he invited me to attend a training that he was giving and told me that I would be sitting in on a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday. After the training, he sat down with me and we discussed how it went and he wanted my input. It was nice to do real work. I'm really looking forward to next week.

19 June 2009

It was nice to be done with work for the week and to be going something fun on Friday. In the afternoon we went to Buckingham Palace. I had been there before, so I knew what to expect, but I think I had more fun this time and I got better pictures. There was a fountain around the monument to Queen Victoria and Maggie had me position myself in such a way that it looked like I was throwing up in the picture that she took. Mel was showing Maggie the tattoo on her lower back and someone honked at her.

We walked along Princess Diana's walkway to get to Trafalgar Square. It took us alongside St. James Park. It was beautiful. There was a lake and it was neat to see all of the people just out enjoying themselves. Trafalgar Square was an absolute madhouse when we got there. It is one of the tourist-y areas in London, so there were tons of people. We dared Mel to climb one of the lions on the monument there. She couldn't get up by herself, so a nice young man jumped up there first and pulled her up - what ensued was fantastic hilarity.

The National Gallery was kind of boring. We weren't allowed to take pictures and there were only a few artists that Mel and I wanted to see. Naturally, Monet was among them :) After the gallery we took the tube to Piccadilly Circus to see if we could get tickets for "Priscilla Queen of the Desert"...and we did!
The show was super funny. I love the movie, so I have been really excited about seeing it, and I think the show was extremely well done. They did an excellent job of adapting it to the stage and adding music. The costuming was almost spot on with the movie, so that was great. Afterward we waited by the stage door and I got the autograph of the man who played Mitzy.
20 June 2009

Saturday we woke up early and went down to Victoria to see if we could get tickets for "Wicked". We were able to get really good seats for only 25 pounds. Mel and Maggie have both already seen it, but they loved it so much that they were willing to go see it again which was great for me because I've never seen it! It was by far the best show I have EVER seen. The music and the costuming were just great.
In the late evening we went to a gay bar with a couple of guys that Mel met at ISHbar. Both of them are students and fantastic and they wanted to show us a good time. We were able to get in free with fliers that they gave us. It was a bizarre experience. We had to wait in a queue for almost 45 minutes to get in, so by the time we actually made it into the bar it was almost 01:00, but it was totally worth it! I had the most fun that I have had in ages going out and the music was awesome. We didn't go to bed until almost 04:00 by the time we took the bus home.

21 June 2009

Sunday was a really relaxed day. Because of the lateness of our bedding, we didn't wake up until 13:00 and didn't leave the room until 16:00. Mel and I did loads of laundry and went to Harrods. For a majority of the evening, I have been working on my blog and then I am going to write up a couple of go-see papers.

Yes, I know I've been in London for 2 weeks...

I know, I know...I've been here for two weeks and I'm just now updating my blog. I have been so unbelievably busy since I've gotten here that this is really the first good amount of time I've had to just sit in front of the computer to do this - plus, I've just gotten internet on my computer. We tried for a week or so to just have internet on one of our computers which clearly has not worked as we all have internet on our computers now.

In order to do this properly, I had to sit down and write everything in a journal. It took me three days and 22 pages in order to capture everything that has happened in the last two weeks. I am going to try to take highlights from each day and add in some pictures for dramatic effect. I apologize in advance - this may be a bit long...

7 June 2009

We arrived in London around 08:30. Customs was mostly harmless - the employees were just confused because of the new UK visa regulations and they weren't sure what to do with us. International Programs chartered a coach bus to take us to International Students House which would be our home away from home for the next 10 weeks. The bus ride was really quiet. I'm not sure if it was because we were all too tired or if it was because we were all too scared to talk to one another. I couldn't help but share all the wisdom that I have about England with the girl that was sitting next to me :)

When we got dropped of at ISH, we weren't given any instructions. All of us piled into the lobby and looked around helplessly; finally, someone got brave enough to ask the person at the front desk what we were supposed to do. They informed us that we would actually be staying in the other building, so they gave us our room keys and some crap directions and we were off. It must have been a ridiculous site watching 20 kids dragging their luggage down the sidewalk. We got lost twice, so a journey that normally takes five minutes ended up taking 30 minutes. When we finally made it to our rooms we were dog tired, but we were resolved to stay awake, so we unpacked.
The rest of the afternoon we spent doing preparatory work. We had an orientation at the main ISH building and then we went and purchased necessities - oyster cards and mobiles. Oyster cards are credit card like things that we pre-load with money so that we can ride the underground or the bus at a discounted price. All of us wanted to get mobiles so that we could get a hold of the other interns should the occasion call for it. They are also useful if the tube is running late and you need to let your supervisor know that it'll be a little bit before you get to work. In the evening we went to the first pub we could find for dinner. We had to sit at three tables - their were like 12 of us - and the service was horrible, but I had some of the best fish and chips I've ever had.
8 June 2009

Monday was such a busy day. We had two meetings at Anglo-American where we will be having class on British culture every Monday and then many of us went exploring. It was an exciting morning because many of the people on the trip were having their first experience with the underground and we must have been quite the spectacle trying to get from the tube station to where our class is located - we definitely got lost.

After our last meeting, Mel and I went off to try to find where our jobs were located. We decided to find mine first. The journey there was OK. We didn't get on the wrong train and we managed to ask someone for directions. I was extremely excited because my tube station had a Starbucks. By the time we were done at my job we decided to call it quits because it was late and we'd had some difficulties navigating the journey back home. We got on the wrong train a couple of times.

9 June 2009

Mel and I got up early on Tuesday so that we would have time to do something fun after we found her job. Finding her job was slightly more complicated than finding mine. We had NO IDEA which way to go once we excited the tube station and ended up walking in the wrong direction for five minutes. She has to walk through a kind of scary area to get to work.

Later on we went to Piccadilly Circus which is like the Times Square and Broadway of London - there are tons of lights and there are theatres EVERYWHERE! While walking around we stumbled upon China Town and SoHo completely by accident. China Town wasn't very exciting and SoHo had lots of gay bars and bookshops
with porn in the basement.We met up with some other people from our group and took a self-guided tour of Westminster Abbey. It was very pretty, but boring. To me, it was just a church with tons of dead people and you couldn't take pictures! We had to cut the day short because the tube union was going on stike starting at 19:00 which would surely make for an interesting first day at work. For the rest of the evening we researched online how to get to work by taking the bus because, naturally, we'd all figured out how to get there by tube.

10 June 2009

Wednesday was my first day of work. I got up really early because I wasn't sure what the bus ride would be like because of the strike and I wanted to make sure I got there on time. When I got to the hospital I easily found lift bank C - elevators- and went to the lower ground floor where human resources is located. When I went into the office I was told to, I was informed that my supervisor was out sick for the day and that she hadn't left any instructions except that I was coming.

I felt so bad that first day, like I was annoying them or something. They had to scramble to find things for me to do. That first day was kind of slow. I was definitely worried because I was scared that everyday would be like that. We're not here to file and do crap paperwork, we're supposed to be getting real experience and that it not how I would classify my first day as an intern.

When I was taking the bus home it just decided that it was no longer going to Warren Street and that the last stop would be Piccadilly Circus - about half way. Because of the tube strike, Piccadilly Circus were an absolute madhouse. I looked up another bus to pick up to get home, but it was nowhere in sight and I would've had to wait forever. I walked...it took me at least 1.5 hours. I didn't get back until almost 19:30 and I got done with work at 17:00 - yuck!

11 June 2009

Work didn't get better on Thursday. They taught me how to do offer letters - basically filling in blanks on a template - and I made phone calls all afternoon. The day went faster, but it was just as boring. I was extremely glad to be done.

After work we went to ISHbar for karaoke night. I actually sang two songs! Mike and I sang "All the Small Things" - everyone said we were awesome! Then Kevin, Katie and I "sang" "Cleanin' Out My Closet". I wouldn't say we were awful, but we certainly weren't good. It was almost time for us to go up and this is the conversation that transpired:
Kevin: "You know the words, right?"
Me: "Yeah, why?"
Kevin: "Because, Katie and I don't!"
I couldn't believe it - they were the ones who wanted to sing it in the first place and they didn't even know the words! By that time I had had three strongbows - delicious hard cider - and everyone else was drunk too! It was pretty amazing, I was drunk, but I didn't get sick or feel icky the next day. I suppose sleeping until 13:00 on Friday may have helped a little.
12 June 2009

It was almost 16:00 when Mel and I finally got going for the day. We decided to just go to Piccadilly Circus again and then we headed to Oxford Street to go shopping. Mel had to go to the bathroom so bad by the time we made it to Marks & Spencer that she rant to the escalator to get to the third floor...it was fantastic!

We went out again, but I was not feelin' it. Plus, I got hit on by a creepy, middle-aged man who had just gotten done telling me that he had gotten engaged the week before. On the way home, we saw a DEAD person. As we approached Marylebone we saw that the cops had blocked off the street. When we got closer we saw all these cop cars and ambulances. When we passed the scene there was a man on the ground covered by a blanket and he was surrounded by blood. That is something that I will NEVER forget. And poor Kevin, he saw the whole thing happen - he was the one who called 999 (London's 911).

13 June 2009

On Saturday, I woke up early and Christie and I went to Regent's Park to see "Much Ado About Nothing" in the open-air theatre. On the walk there, we went through Queen Mary's Garden and it was breathtaking - there must have been at least 100 different kinds of roses. I took a million pictures...it was so beautiful. The play was absolutely fantastic!

After dinner, Megan and Leonard arrived. I met them at the Regent's Park station and we walked to McDonald's.

This entry is long enough...I am going to do week two in the next one :)

See the rest of the photos from my first two weeks here in my facebook album: