Well, we've officially been here for 19 days and the feeling that I'm a tourist rather than a resident has basically vanished. But then again, I've woken up at 8:00 AM on the first day of my weekend, so it seems like I still haven't got quite a handle on the jetlag.
I don't want to meticulously go through everything I've done while here, just because this post would go on for way too long, so I'll try and stay as close to the present as possible. Aaand, maybe at the end I'll throw in a list of everything I've done for curiosity's sake and to reiterate to myself how lucky I am to be here.
Yesterday and today mark the first temperatures above 4 degrees C (no shortcut Fahrenheit equivalents for you!). It's climbed all the way up to 14 degrees for today, and after a winter in Ohio, which then followed me to London, I'm basking in this San Diego weather. I've got some potted paper whites decorating the balcony attached to my bedroom and the warm weather has done wonders for their flowers (Tom, DeFlores, and Chassis: after some books and plays we've read and seen-- specifically, Howards End, The Changeling, and Juno and the Paycock). I'm glad I'm up early so I can have a couple extra hours to myself this morning since I've got plans that will take up most of my day. I'm headed to the Hayward Gallery to check out a really cool David Shrigley exhibition called Brain Activity. It's located in this very cool complex called the Southbank Centre, which includes places like the BFI (British Film Institute) and National Theatre. I had originally planned a day at the Centre starting at the Hayward Gallery, then finishing off with a 3D screening of Tangled at the BFI (their last episode of a year long installment of all 50 Disney movies), but I forgot that I already had tickets to see Floyd Collins tonight at the Southwark Playhouse. Two things about that:
1) I never thought in a million years that I'd ever get to see Floyd Collins. It's a small cult musical about real, historical cave explorer Floyd Collins (spoiler alert) in Kentucky who became trapped in a cave which he had hoped to turn into a tourist attraction. I've had the soundtrack to the musical for a handful of years now and nearly fell out of my seat when David emailed the group asking if anyone would like to buy tickets.
2) We've been to the Southwark Playhouse once before and it's definitely one of the most unique places to have ever been converted to a performance space. The Playhouse is basically a train tunnel which was originally dug out for the underground system and was, for one reason or another, abandoned. Now, you can watch shows which are framed by these seemingly endless pitch-black tunnels and are accompanied by the sounds of trains rumbling overhead. It's a great space with a very specific character, and I'm especially excited to see what they do for the musical.
So that's what my Friday's looking like. My weeks have been a mix between constant variety and burgeoning routine, but I guess distilled down, they look something like two history classes, four English classes, and two theatre shows each week. One of those history classes is a walking tour where Professor Katy takes us to see relevant architecture and geography regarding our reading. We've gotten to see Temple Church, Covent Garden, Somerset House, and most recently (and my favorite), Greenwich Park, historically significant during Tudor London as Henry VIII's hunting grounds. It was quite the trip out to the south of London, but the view over the city at the top of the hill was incredible, and the chance to see the Royal Observatory which houses the Prime Meridian was an awesome throwback to third grade social studies. Something especially fun for us English kids was that the park was the location of an attempted terrorist attack in Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, a book we'd just finished discussing. I'm so tempted to give the plot away and make a joke, but David won't even let us mention chapters which aren't scheduled for discussion that day lest we spoil it for someone who hasn't read ahead, so I won't deny you that right either. And lastly, the masses of dogs frolicking around the huge expanses of green meadows with their owners were a very welcome surprise for my morning. I really wish it wasn't so creepy to chill out in a dog park without a dog because dogs just make life better, don't they?
There you have it; it's been a really crazy three weeks so far. And although skyping with an Obie can make me a little homesick for Ohio (believe it or not), London's shaping up to be one of my favorite cities on earth. I've got spring break coming up in three weeks, possibilities of which include Zurich, Copenhagen, and Paris; a canoe trip up the river Wye to see Wordsworth's famous Tintern Abbey; and hopefully a trip out to Pembroke College for a kabob from an esteemed food truck, recommended to me by a friend I met over winter term who, for years, has asked London travelers to do this for him, but has yet to receive a picture. I plan on being the first taker on his suggestion. And besides, it's across from Christ Church, the Great Hall of the Harry Potter movies, so if the truck never shows up, at least I will have seen that. Lots of adventures have already happened and I imagine that I will never have want of more things to do, so hopefully I'm doing right by Mary-Kate and Ashley.