Jun 28, 2006

London By Coach

After getting up early, and then napping way too late... I finally got up, crammed in some reading, and then took off for the Sciences car park to catch my coach to London. The jetlag definitely hasn't quite worn off yet...

Today was the first of the school planned trips that you had to book in advance, so a whole bunch of us piled in a bus to go see the Lion King at Lyceum Theatre. The trip was a bit long, simply because there isn't really the same type of freeway system as we have in the states. To get to where we had to go, we had to drive through the city for a good hour and a half or so, we couldn't just pop off at an exit and take a few surface streets. Really, it'd be like trying to drive to downtown Sacramento without ever taking a freeway.

I didn't mind, but it would have been more enjoyable if everyone on the bus had been considerate of the other passengers and the driver. The comments reached such an obnoxious point, that Josh wanted me to give him advance notice if I decided to deck someone, so that he could have his camera ready. I told him there would be no violence, simply because I had no desire to attract the attention of half a dozen drunken frat boys. It was one of those groups that brought their own boom box and cranked it up for the whole coach to hear, while drinking the numerous beers they brought with them, and shouting at the driver. Oh yeah... fun stuff. Someone made the comment that they didn't need to spend 35 pounds to get drunk and listen to bad music, they could have done that on campus. I thought it was a pretty good point.

Ok, enough ranting

In true Stefanie fashion, I took pictures the only way I could... through the window. The shot above is a perfect example, and I thought I'd throw in a few more for good measure.

Brick is EVERYWHERE... it's adorable. These buildings were so tall that they literally filled the windows, and it was brick buildings with little colorful pop out shops for blocks. Oddly enough, we saw a lot of Pizza Huts, Dominoes, and so many versions of fried chicken it was ridiculous. There's places like RFC and NFC that are trying to catch the KFC craze. The advisor here said he could think of at least 4 places that had grabbed the "FC" but that they all basically served the same thing.

It's the UNDERGROUND! How famous is this sign? Yeah, it's a pretty big deal. I'll have to get a better shot, but it was nice to see, right?

Ok, last one of the through bus windows series...

This is the bridge just after the UNDERGROUND, and the entire length is painted in brilliant colors. Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to get the whole thing, but I think the perspective is rather fun.

Just before reaching our destination, we crossed the Waterloo Bridge. I saw my first glimpse of the London Eye, the House of Parliament, and all the fabulous architecture along the river Thames. It's official, I've finally been to London, and I think I'm in love. I really can't wait to explore the city, and Saturday will be my first chance.

And now onto the whole reason for the trip... the musical.

Here we have the corner of the theatre... the front was much more grandiose, with columns and signs everywhere, but we never actually passed the front. This was taken on the fly as we hurried through the streets looking for a bite to eat. We wound up in this classy little cafe with excellent food, and all at a decent price by London standards. I had a chicken rotisserie that was pretty much to die for. Needless to say, we all returned to the theatre rather full and content.


Last night we went to see The Producers, which was coincidentally around the corner from the Lyceum Theatre... so after eating in the same little resturant, we had some spare time and went to get some pictures of the front of the theatre.

The theatre sits on a hill, hence the skewed perspective. People were also filing in to take their seats as the show was set to start within the next half hour. Needless to say, with all the
musicals currently showing, the West End is rather busy.


I took a look at the available souveniers, and wasn't really impressed. So I decided to buy a programme, or play bill, whatever you want to call it. I was hoping for pictures of the production or people in costumes or something. Well, no such luck... but it is still nice to have.

Oh yeah, me and the mad photoshopping skills. The maroon of my carpet looked rather unattractive next to the bright orange and yellows, so I decided to edit it out. Now if only I could significantly edit the following to improve the quality...

This is my view of the stage from, well, you guessed it, the very back row. Yes, tickets are expensive. To some extent, the view kind of ruined some of the effects, but there was still so much that impressed me. It is something that I highly recommend seeing if you haven't already. The opening scene will blow you away... it's phenomenal. Anyway, this shot of course is taken without a flash, because no 15ft built in flash was going to make a difference.

Once in the theatre, we did the typical, most touristy thing we could possibly do... we took more pictures. Here we have Stephen and Adelyn. Stephen lives in my building, and Adelyn is a friend of his. We've all gone to the market together, and sat on the coach together. I have to say, we all make for a pretty fun group of people

Haha, photo revenge. Well... sorta. This is Josh, who sat next to me on the coach ride there and back. You know, the one who wanted advanced notice if I was going to deck someone. And oh look, it's Stephen again.

And this is Kat, being a complete goof with her 50 pence binoculars. Kat is one of the girls I was fortunate enough to meet in the Atlanta airport, and she also lives in my building right below me. The building pictures are coming, sometime this weekend I'm sure.

I took a few pictures with Kat, Treavor, and Josh... but for some reason they didn't come out very well. I'll have to get better with this whole being in pictures thing, like Kat said, I need proof that I was here.

Ok, here it is... the last one for the night. I saw this while waiting for our coach, and I just had to take a picture because I know this is a certain someone's pretty much favorite movie. Well, it's not Gone With the Wind, but it's right up there. Enjoy babe!

Jun 27, 2006


Today was a complete success.

I got a cell phone that I can use in case of emergencies, and that I can receive calls on for free. If I never call a soul, and don't pick up a voicemail, it doesn't cost me a cent over the cost of the rental. How awesome. And, it doubles as my alarm clock and watch when I'm not anywhere near a clock, which seems to be frequently... Totally worth the $20.

I think I made a really good impression in my class today. I demonstrated that I'd thoroughly read the syllabus, excuse me, booklet, and I knew an author of one of the pieces that was recommended. I pulled Lijphart's name out and it was awesome. And then I brought up the Rand Corporation's analysis that we covered in my National and International Security class... and I got a complete look of astonishment, followed by an "Oh.." Thank you Willoughby. Too bad I copied those notes off of my computer a few days ago, they might have come in handy. Regardless, he knew my name by the end of class, and class participation is 20% of my grade. Woot! Quite simply, I owned, and that makes me happy. However, I did volunteer to give the first presentation on Thursday. Why do I do these things to myself? I know why, because it's another 20% of my grade that I can get out of the way now.

After class I headed back into Brighton with two new friends of mine to pick up the adapter that I have needed since I got here. We managed to figure out the bus system well enough to get ourselves there and back, although back was a bit of an interesting trip. We got off after the wrong bridge, and had to walk a good 15 minutes back to campus. It'd be a gorgeous walk, if it weren't for the cars speeding on the highway next to us. Oh yeah, and the cars on the left side of the road... still tripping me out. You try catching the bus on the other side of the street going in the opposite direction, it's weird.

I managed to get my computer connected to the internet. This was a feat in itself, let me tell you. No more walking to the lab and waiting for a computer that must have been built in the Stone Age. I'm not joking, they take at least 20 minutes to start up, and those are the quick ones. A working computer also means that I can charge my ipod, actually listen to music, and copy all the pictures off of my camera! In case you can't tell, I'm ecstatic. Of course this means pictures for you all... finally.

And here they come...

That's right, it's the view out my window while waiting for take off at the San Francisco Airport. Hey, I have to chronicle the whole thing, don't I?
After being delayed in Atlanta because of a massive thunderstorm, we finally landed in London 3 hours or so later than we were originally supposed to. I get off the plane, and walk the longest gateway ever to find...

LONDON! Or at least the North Terminal Car Park of the London Gatwick Airport. Riveting, isn't it?

So we head down to baggage claim, or so we think... but we have to go through customs first. Well, it wasn't really customs, but they asked us a bunch of questions and stamped our passports. And then it was the currency exchange, the purchasing of train tickets to get to the Falmer station, and then on to baggage claim. My biggest fear was that they'd lose my luggage, but thankfully it was on the conveyor, which means it then proceeded to become my biggest pain. Finally it was time to escape, and we left the terminal through the "Nothing to Declare" doorway, and got on an escalator to get on a tram to get to the South Terminal, so that we could get on a train to get to campus. Wow, this is sounding more and more like SFO by the minute.

In the few moments we had to catch our breath below Gatwick while waiting for our train, I just had to take a picture. It's a horrible shot... and I will take a better one, but this works for the time being. We finally get on our train, and we have to transfer at the Brighton station. In some ways, it reminds me of the Amtrak turnaround at Union Station, but I know that makes no sense.

It really is a beautiful place, a long arched tunnel of blue. Hopefully I'll be able to go back without a ton of luggage to really wander and take a few decent shots.

After catching the next train to the Falmer station, we were panicked that we weren't going to make the 4pm welcoming committee. We got lucky... ours was the last train that they waited for. We step outside and hear "University of Sussex?" Christina's immediate response is 'Yes! I love you" They grab all our luggage and whisk us away in the van back to campus. Turns out it's right across the street, but you can't see the underpass from the train station and it might have taken us a bit. Plus, we would have had to carry everything across campus. I thought I was free of hills... yeah, right.

The unpacking and settling went well, and I managed to go grocery shopping on Monday after not eating for about 24 hours. Everything here is closed by 5:30 at the latest, and even earlier on weekends. And I thought Lockeford was crazy. There was the standard waste of time orientation, and I hit up the library for a tour.

Last night there was a trip to Brighton, but I'll save that for another time... it's picture heavy and this post is long enough as it is. I should probably thrown in a few pictures of campus as well, not that I've had a chance to take many. Oh well...

Anyway, it's midnight here and I need to jump on that presentation. More tomorrow, I promise.

Jun 25, 2006

Awkward British Keyboards

I have arrived, and as soon as I have gone into town and bought a converter, there will be pictures and a massive update. At the moment I'm in the computer lab...

Hooray for awkward British keyboards.

The @ symbol is not on the 2 key but is instead replaced by ", the £ is 3, € and $ are 4... the ~ is next to enter, not next to 1. The enter keys don't say enter, and neither do the shift keys. It's funny, but it takes some getting used to.

And now to return to the unpacking. My room is empty, and is in need of some love.

Jun 21, 2006

And On 'Til Morning

It has been requested, and rightfully so, that I keep every one up to date on all my summer adventures. As I'm not much of a fan of mass e-mails, and I've yet to master including pictures in the message instead of as an attachment, I thought this might be the best idea. Just think... this way you can read up on what I'm doing without me spamming your inbox, or you can skip it all together and just pretend you read it. How awesome is that? And there's a bonus, you can even leave comments.

The shopping and packing has already begun, and not a moment too soon. I leave in three days, let the count down begin.