Thursday, February 6, 2014

Living it up in London

This post is a little late, but it's still relevant!

On February 1, I was given the opportunity to go on a tour of London with my fellow SCIO students. We saw a ton of things, but here are just a few highlights of my trip (and pictures I just enjoy):

I don't know what this building is, but look at the blue sky! It only sprinkled once during our entire day.

A park in London. I wonder why they need so many benches...

Trees in the aforementioned park.

Another mysterious building.

Beautiful street art. I think it was being sold for around 69 pounds.

Green Park, a park right next to Buckingham Palace.

A tree and the sun in Green Park.

The gates leading into the Palace courtyard! (Well, the front of the Palace area).

Buckingham Palace! The Queen wasn't home.

A statue of Queen Victoria in front of Buckingham Palace.

Some geese with sass in the park. I think they just wanted food.

The London Eye. It's my goal to make it in there while I'm here.

Geese admiring a pelican.

Another cool building that looked like a castle.

More trees. I think I just like photographing trees.

Big Ben!

Cool building, blue sky.

Typical London telephone booth photo.

Big Ben again.

Downing Street, where the Prime Minister lives.

A black telephone booth. Somehow it seemed eerie...

I don't actually know what this was. But I stopped in the middle of the road to take a picture of it.

The National Gallery. I didn't actually go in.

A blue chicken. That is all the explanation I have.

The Sherlock Holmes, one of many cleverly named pubs in London.

The stairs heading up The Monument, which we walked. It was 317 steps to the top. All in a spiral. Not for those who are afraid of heights.

But the view from the top was amazing! The next few pictures are from the top of the Monument.

The Monument was built to remember the London fire.

This is the Tower Bridge, which America thought they were buying when they bought the London Bridge.

The Monument from the bottom.

The Tower of London! I hope to get inside. Apparently there are plenty of attractions inside! :)

A covered market. (For Harry Potter fans, apparently a short clip was filmed here on the way to Diagon Alley!)

I like coffee. This is where the first coffeehouse stood!

I don't remember what this is.

The sunset looked amazing over the cityscape.

At the end of the day, my legs were sore, but it was totally worth it! I got a glimpse of what London is look, and cannot wait to make it back there soon!

"Try to Live Everyday as if it was the Final Day of [Your] Extraordinary Ordinary Life."

My title post, though it may seem quite unfitting at first, really hit me a few days ago. This quote, from the film "About Time" (an amazing film!) really stuck with me after watching it. In the movie, the main character is a time traveler. In the end, he realizes that life is amazing enough even without time travel. That being besides the point...

Almost every day for the past couple weeks has been very, very, very stressful. When writing one to two 7 page research essays a week, a person can easily become distressed to the point of wanting to cry (I've been at that point many times). The work builds up, the sleep disappears, and the challenges just keep coming (the rain doesn't help either). But I've learned that I can't give up. I'm almost half way done with the term, and that terrifies me. I don't know how I'm doing on my secondary tutorial or my primary either, for that case. I just keep writing essays, not knowing if I'm doing well or not. It's rough.

This morning, I woke up earlier than usual, half by intention and half by the amazingly loud fire alarm test that happens every Thursday morning when I'm attempting to sleep. Anyways, I woke up early, with two hours before my first lecture. While I usually hate waking up early, it was really pleasant for once. I was able to take my time getting ready, drink a nice warm cup of coffee, soak in the silence, and write a few postcards to people back home. Little did I know how enjoyable this made my morning. I went to lecture awake and refreshed, even though it was only 10am.

My experience this morning made me realize something: Even in the stress of my program, amidst all the hard essay work, I need to take time to relax and reflect on life. I've also realized that I shouldn't sit in my room all the time. I need to get out and explore more. I mean, I'm in England! I should be spending every spare moment (more like every spare break in work) to get out and see the country. I should study in the libraries, admiring the number of books that Oxford has. With 9 weeks left in my program, I've decided that I am going to make the most of it. 

These are my goals for the rest of the program:
1) Do well on my essays
2) But don't spend too much time stressing over them
3) Enjoy the mile long walk to lecture everyday
4) Or, as you might say, take time to smell the roses (or pet the dogs?)
5) Enjoy the daily rain that falls
6) Thank God for the rain he provides 
7) Walk in the sprinkling rain and let it run down my face
8) But remember an umbrella, just in case
9) And a raincoat and wellies
10) Visit the attractions within Oxford
11) Visit the tourist towns in the UK
12) Go to Paris
13) Stop stressing about life
14) Look forward to the next essay, rather than dread it
15) Work ahead
16) Get plenty of sleep
17) But not too much (preferably around the 8 hr. mark)
18) Wake up earlier
19) Go to bed earlier
20) Interact with the Brits
21) Realize where I am
22) Take advantage of the fact that I'm in Oxford
23) And that I even had the opportunity to come here
24) Soak it all in
25) Live everyday as if it was the final day of my extraordinary ordinary life!