28 February 2010

28 February 2010

Today was another rainy day in London! I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that a sunny day is the exception and not the rule :) I had been retaining some irrational hope that I had just appeared in a rainy time and that soon things would change ... but today I finally accepted that it wasn't going to happen! So, now I have to figure out what it is that I love about rain!

After church this morning I went for another walk around the city. I went out to the east side of London, where I had never been before, and wandered around for a few hours. Part of the wandering was due to the fact that my map doesn't go that far north, and thus I was going off of extremely general bus route maps (as in, 'oh, that way is south; I know that I need to go that direction to get down to where I want to be'*tries to find a road that turns right* and such.)I eventually made my way down to St. Paul's Cathedral in time for the Sunday afternoon organ recital. It was one of the organists from a church in Leicester Square, and he was quite good. After that I took the bus home, in the mist. It was wonderful to get out and clear my head. Looking forward to another week. Happy end of February! GStQ

27 February 2010

We're All in this Together

This is a video clip done by Houghton College last spring. Again ... I love my college.

25 February 2010

25 February 2010

Today I want to talk about food in London. After my wonderful (re)discovery of cookies and milk yesterday, I have gotten thinking about food in London. Then, today turned out to be a perfect time to write about it! The first thing that needs to be known about London ‘fun food’ is the biscuits (or cookies, as they are called in the States!). The two kinds that must be tried are digestives, which sound horrible, but are really just crispy, delicious cookies. Try the chocolate covered kind, as well as the plain. They are especially good with tea, and with peppermint tea they are somewhat reminiscent of chocolate mint … don’t get me started! The other kind that needs to be tried is Fox’s Creams. There are many different varieties that are all worth trying; my favorites are the ginger ones. The chocolate ones are also excellent, and pretty much taste like chocolate that looks like a cookie. Sainsbury’s chocolate is also amazing and cheap; try the dark chocolate. And that is saying something, since I’m not huge into chocolate!

Tea is a must. I liked tea before coming here, and it’s only gotten ‘worse’ now … dare I say a necessity? I drink it quite a bit while doing my readings or while writing my paper, and especially while being sick I feel like I've had some at hand most of the time! I have two kinds of mint tea, since I love mint, and alternate between them. I also drink tea for breakfast about 6 mornings out of 7. When the professors have us over, they always have tea and usually some kind of cake. For our plenary breaks we have tea and coffee available with digestives. For our Saturday afternoon breaks our TA’s bring around hot chocolate and tea. Common kinds of tea are Earl Grey, black tea, fruit and herbal.

Pasties are something that must be tried. Cheese and onion pasties from Sainsbury’s are wonderful on long walks, especially over a meal time, and do not need to be hot to be delicious! There are also meat pasties, vegetable pasties, and I know not what else. I haven’t tried many of these, since most of my meals I eat at the Highbury Centre. But it is something that I would recommend. This evening, I tried yet another thing that was distinctly British. I went to a pub with 7 other girls and ordered fish and chips. Bethany took a picture of me in a pub with a pint of … water! :) It was so much fun to have real British fish and chips after hearing about them for so long, both here from others in the group, and back in the states.

So, there’s a little of British food as I have tried it! Of course, they have things like bread and peanut butter for students that can’t afford to always be trying wonderful things … but at least it’s available for fun times! GStQ

23 February 2010

23 February 2010

This morning I woke up, had breakfast, did reading, and stopped to look at the clock. It was quarter of ten, and I needed to go to the store at some point. The store is about 3/4 of a mile away, so I decided to go for it. I made the round trip in half an hour, which is some kind of FYHP record. (In case FYHP isn't an accrynom I've explained before, it stands for First Year Honors Program and refers to the fact that the London program is for first year students.) It is the common way we refer to the program! I got tissues, (having used a box of 150 in 2 days ...) cranberry juice, organic yogurt, and more tea. I got back and felt better having been outside. We had colloquy on Luther, then I had lunch and settled to reading for the afternoon. I ended up falling asleep on my book (oops....) and took a 2 hour nap, then finished my reading. I felt so much better after waking up, and am hopeful of recovering soon! GStQ

This is from London ... oh, how I love living here (no, I didn't see this personally, just found it!)

22 February 2010

22 February 2010

This morning was plenary - on the reformation! We learned about Martin Luther, John Calvin, Henry VIII (including wives) - somewhere in between the end of the Late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern, according to Mr. Prof! Being sick I wasn't into it was much as usual, and only managed to take about 10 pages of notes. Sometimes I felt so listless, but I think I pretty much got what was going on. The afternoon was pretty quiet; I read Luther and thought about it and read more and thought about it - the ideas were new to me, but I really liked it, and definitely have to check this out in the Bible now! We had tomato soup for dinner. I feel sorry for some of my friends here who do not like tomato soup; they are missing out and I try not to feel guilty for really enjoying it ... they do make good soup here! London was rainy, but not nasty and although I'm not feeling all that well I am still very glad to be here! GStQ

21 February 2010

21 February 2010

I know it's early in the morning, but I wanted to post about my morning!

Last night Bethany and I decided to go to St. Augustine's Church, which is a Church of England church about a ten minute's walk from here. It was raining this morning, so we hiked off with our umbrellas, and got down there in plenty of time. When we got there, though, we found a sign on the door stating that there would be no service there this morning. They were celebrating with another church 20 minutes away. Since the service at St. Augustine's that we had been planning to attend was at 10:30, we didn't have time to get anywhere else. The latest services around town seem to be at 11:00, and we couldn't get anywhere in half an hour! So, we decided to come back to the Highbury Centre and sing along to Bethany's iTunes and listen to a sermon online. It was really neat. She found a sermon from Holy Trinity Brompton by James Haith called "You've Got the Love" (I couldn't figure out how to embed it, but here is the link to the page.)It is a little more than half an hour long, but if you can make the time to listen to it, I do not think you would regret it. I thought he had some very good things to say.

One of the songs Bethany played was one from the Vineyard Church, entitled "If You Say Go". I found the lyrics very meaningful for where I am in my life right now, and I hope that you find encouragement to follow God's leading in them as well.

If You say go, we will go
If You say wait, we will wait
If You say step out on the water
And they say it can't be done
We'll fix our eyes on You and we will come

Your ways are higher than our ways
And the plans that You have laid
Are good and true
If You call us to the fire
You will not withdraw Your hand
We'll gaze into the flames and look for You

So that was my church service this morning. It was strange to not go to a church with a building and a name and singers up front and announcements, but no less meaningful.

One of the verses I've been thinking about (since sometime last semester) is Hosea 10:12 - "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you". I've been wondering what it means to break up fallow ground - I think it means leave no area of my life unused; live life to the fullest. And it's supposed to be done in righteousness and following the Lord. That's what I've come up with so far, at least! The last week or two the idea of leaving a legacy has been coming back strongly - what am I doing with my life, and what will I leave when I die? For being 18, it is not too early to ask that question! I hope you ask the same one.

20 February 2010

20 February 2010

Today, being Saturday, could be renamed 'paper day'. However, this Saturday, I was determined to make my day different. I usually don't go outside from the time I get back from plenary Friday around 12:30 until I go out to go to church Sunday morning. That is terrible! I did better by going to the Lipscomb's last night, but I needed more than the 15 minutes I spent outside! So, this afternoon at about 4 I went to the grocery store to get next week's supplies! That was another thing - here I get very little fruit and no fresh vegetables except for an occasional salad. My dairy is also limited to milk in my tea with an occasional glassful. I wondered if eating better and getting outside would help me. So, I tried it! I walked down to Tesco's, which is near the tube stop (only about 3/4 of a mile away). There, I bought foods such as spinach, wraps, unpasteurized cheese, organic yogurt, green and yellow peppers, peppermint tea, and a mango. Feeling like I had just had a very successful trip, I walked back to the Highbury Centre.

There was a football match (aka soccer game!) going on this afternoon, and even though the stadium is 20 minutes away (walking), I could hear the crowds screaming, music, and an announcer. That got me thinking about living in London. I began wondering how many people would really like to be there, while I am really not into sports and will probably never attend even though I could.

Then, I got to thinking about the fact that I am living in London. The British Empire was the one on which 'the sun never set' - it went all the way around the world. England was where it all started, and London was the capitol. I am living in what was the centre of the world! It made me really think about taking advantage of this amazing opportunity. I have been, of course - all my museum, gallery, architecture, music, and theatre requirements have seen to that, not even counting my walks around the city just for enjoyment. However, I need to make sure that I am not letting any days go by without truly appreciating all that is available to me. For the first time in my life I am living in a city - and what a city! This afternoon was a good reminder to not take it for granted - it won't last forever - and to absorb as much as I can while I'm here!

As far as the rest of my day: I worked on my paper, had lunch, worked on my paper, had dinner, and worked on my paper ... :) I drank about 4 liters of water over the course of the day, and will probably finish another one before night. I realized yesterday that I was becoming dehydrated, and so am attempting to fix that! It has been really good, and I'm glad that water is free here and tastes fine! I can't say that this paper is coming easily, I'm really fighting it out, but it's interesting at worst and makes me laugh. We are writing about the Late Middle Ages this week, and some of the sources are amusing! GStQ

19 February 2010

19 February 2010

Today was not really the typical Friday for me! This morning we had colloquy instead of plenary, since we just had plenary on Wednesday (compliments of Monday and Tuesday in Canterbury!). We covered some of the Canterbury Tales in that. After colloquy was over, I started organizing my thoughts about my paper and what I might like to have as a thesis. I ate lunch somewhere between 11 and 1, I don't really remember when, and called my family. I was just going to say hello and get/give an update, since I hadn't talked to them in a whole week! Then, I was going to spend the afternoon writing my paper so that by now it would be all done and ready for editing tomorrow ... haha. I talked with my family until 3:30, when I had an appointment to do our music listening assignment with another girl. In fact, I had forgotten about it, and was still talking to my brother when she knocked on the door. So, as you can see, I did not do what I had planned this afternoon. It was so worth it, though! After half an hour or an hour she left, and Bethany came back from her afternoon of exploring and walking around London, and I actually did get to work on my paper!

At about 5 I got ready to come here to the Lipscomb's flat, since I was scheduled to watch their children this evening. I didn't need to be here until 5:30 and had somehow forgotten or something that it is a two minute walk. So, I walked around the 'block' (London is NOT laid out in squares!) a couple times and enjoyed breathing in the outdoors air, even if it is in the city! We had dinner, the professors left, and the kids and I read books, played with toys, and so on. It was strange to actually play - I realized I hadn't read a simple book just for the fun of it in a very, very long time! I hadn't ever done any babysitting like this before, but things went fine and they all are sleeping now (and have been for 2 hours). When Mr. Prof. and I were arranging the details for this evening, he said something like "Of course, we expect that after the children are in bed you will work on your paper". In his next email he clarified that I was not required to work on my paper, he just suspected that I would want to. In fact, it was what I wanted to do, and I have been doing just that and it has been wonderful to have it so quiet! I have been listening to the assigned music, and now I am listening to a clarinet concerto on volume 1 and my iTunes volume at half. It is so nice ... but the music is from my album titled "Tranquility", the house is silent, and it is evening. I was, admittedly, having trouble staying awake while writing my paper. So, I thought I'd take a minute (or 5) to share my day and wake up a little before returning to my writing! GStQ

Houghton College!

I'm pleased to say I attend such an epic college! Enjoy :)

17 February 2010

17 February 2010

Today was a fun day, and rather spontaneous! I went early to plenary this morning, so I could practice the piano there at the church for a bit before the class started. Right after plenary nine of us went down to the Duke of York Theatre to try to get tickets for the performance of Twelfth Night this evening. Every day they have 15 tickets available at the discount rate of 5 pounds (cheapest tickets otherwise being either 10 or 15 pounds - I'm not sure). We got there as soon as we could, but they were already sold out. Just as we were getting ready to leave and go magging, Joel thought to ask if they had matinee tickets still available. They did! Why they didn't tell us that we don't know, but the point is that we got them! We still had an hour or so before the play started and hadn't had lunch yet. So, we went to Trafalger Square and ate lunch sitting on the steps, since there were so many people the benches were full. :)

Twelfth Night was amazing. I had never been to a professional play in a real theatre before, and I am so glad I went! Although I have nothing to compare it to, I was very favorably impressed. One of my favorite things was the music that was played on stage. In fact, most of the music was done by two guitars, a mandolin (I think), and a violin. The violinist was incredible - I couldn't believe some of the things he did with double stops, runs, etc. The music itself was lilting and I loved it. I also really liked that the plot drew me in (although I guessed the ending a long time before it happened, since it was a pretty standard mixup storyline!). It was a very good way to spend an afternoon!

After that we came back here to the Highbury Centre, had dinner, I finished my homework and read ahead for Friday ... and here I am! GStQ!

This is a song I have been listening to that seems to really fit where I am right now. I hope it brings peace to your life today.

14 February 2010

14 February 2010

Well, here I am again! After a characteristically busy weekend writing a paper, I finally have time to blog again.

This morning I slept until I was rested, which was about 8:45 this morning. Breakfast was leisurely, and I had plenty of time before I needed to leave for church at 10:15. We went to St. Bartholomew's Church, which was one of the ones I visited this week as a part of the program requirements. It was not even what I would call a traditional service - that sounds to me like singing hymns and maybe saying the Lord's Prayer. This was much different than that: a lot of the service was sung in Latin, there was incense, we were sprinkled with holy water, communion really was unleavened bread wafers (and of course, the wine really was wine).
I am trying to figure myself out in this process of visiting the different churches in London. I really like having the written prayers and confessions of faith, since it reminds me of what I believe. The formality also reminds me of what a serious thing it is to ask for the presence of God. This morning it struck me just how amazing it is that God actually comes and is with us in a way it hadn't before. The Latin in the liturgy also is very striking to me: for one thing, it reminds me of when I was in Ukraine and couldn't understand the words (and pretty much anything from Ukraine is a positive memory!) and also it reminds me that the church is worldwide. I love to think about believers across all cultures all united under one God! Anyway, those are a few of the reasons I really like the High Anglican Church service, (I think that's what it was called!) and one side of my debate. The other side is that I really like more 'contemporary' services because they sometimes show people so excited and passionate about their faith. (This was more of the service last Sunday at Holy Trinity - it was mainly contemporary music, and the people were really getting into it. This was also my experience at Revelation Church.
What I'm trying to figure out now is the balance between four things: Traditional, Contemporary, Shallow, and Passionate. I think that in traditional services the set liturgy could cause people (including me) to lose sight of exactly what we're saying and for it to become a shallow routine. At the same time, the creeds and prayers have been carefully thought out, and if thought about can convey a lot of meaning, so if I mean what I'm saying and live my life that way, actually asking God for the things I'm saying, then it will spark a much deeper faith in my life. One of the characteristics of contemporary services is that they emphasize the emotions of the service. The presence of God is something to be called for and experiencing it is one of the main things in the service. This can lead to shallowness - just wanting a feeling with no basis. However, the fact that being in the presence of God can be a very exhilarating, 'mountain top' experience, must not be discounted. Just because there is emotion present is not a basis to discard the whole idea of God actually being present. Still, I want to be careful that I don't get caught up in some kind of 'mob effect' at a church service and just go all for the emotional high.
Well, that's what I've been thinking about recently! I still don't know what synthesis is, or what type of church I'll end up going to, or if I'll go to a contemporary church Sunday mornings and a traditional church for evensong ... but at least I'm trying to figure it out!
This afternoon was quiet - I got caught up on some things I put off over the weekend (aka the paper time!) and at about four I went to tea. Some of the girls here put on a valentine's day tea in the conference room. They made scones, shortbread, chocolate strawberries, and some kind of sponge cake. They also had tea, juice, cookies, and chocolates. It was wonderful, and made for a very festive day!
This evening I went to a piano recital at the Hellenic Centre. It was amazing. I mean that. It put me in a very thoughtful, creative, and quiet mood. (I was about to say a moody mood. I think you can see why I didn't, but it really would be pretty accurate!) On the walk home the city had been washed clean by the rain from this evening, and the moonlight was filtering through the clouds. I call my mood dark, but it's not dark in the sense that I'm upset. Bethany asked me if I was happy and I said no, because it's not. But I feel like there is a part of me that is being allowed to express itself, and I am content.
Okay, I'm rambling. I guess this is first-hand evidence of what it is like! I am pretty much out of it now, though - to the point where I once more am happy and ready to sleep and excited about the rest of life instead of so introspective and quiet. As a note, tomorrow (Monday) and Tuesday I will be in Canterbury, so no update will be forthcoming. However, I suspect that a [rather lengthy - brace yourself!] report will be posted soon after! GStQ

11 February 2010

11 February 2010

So, to pick up from yesterday . . .

Monday and Tuesday were quieter days for me; I stayed here at the Highbury Centre and did reading. I was trying an experiment - would it be easier and/or make more sense if I waited to do my museum and gallery assignments until after I learned more from the week? The answer, if the last two days are any indication, is a resounding yes! My magging yesterday and today was wonderful. Yesterday I went to the British Library. I studied the Magna Carta, among other things like the original score of Handel's Messiah. One interesting thing about the Magna Carta is thinking about the way it influences life even now. On the way home there was a guy on the tube reading a paper about a woman who had been convicted as guilty of murder. She had been convicted by a jury - a provision of the Magna Carta (as interpreted at a later date by Parliament). It was neat to be able to tie together some of the things I've been learning with what is actually going on.

I spent a couple hours more at St. Bartholomew's Church than I planned on, but it was well worth it. Phil, the man in charge, decided apparently that Joia, Isabel and myself were exceptionally interested in learning. He gave us a tour around the church, (please note that part of the movie Amazing Grace was filmed where I was standing!!!), told us about the different parts of the church, etc. He then unlocked a door marked "private" and took us up to the place the bells are rung from and the organ loft. It also gave us an amazing view of the entire church below.

I then went to evening prayer at Westminster Abbey. It was incredible, as usual. The music was wonderful. I love the way the organ can fill the entire Abbey. Oh - one note about Sunday, that I didn't have time to finish with my timeline of the day: In the evening, I went to an organ recital at St. Paul's Cathedral. He played Bach Toccata and Fugue, and Elgar and a prelude - it was breathtaking. He somehow filled the whole cathedral with sound, and at the same time keep the notes distinct and the melodies and harmonies in proportion to each other. I had never heard music like that before, and now I really want to hear more of it.

Well, so I got through another day - maybe tomorrow will suffice for today's adventures! :) GStQ

10 February 2010

10 February 2010

Hello again! Contrary to the reasons why I normally don't blog, I haven't done it recently because I have just had so much going on! It's been a pretty crazy few days. Not bad, though :)

Okay: my weekend was normal, as far as London weekends go; I pretty much just wrote my paper. I do think that this one was better than my last one, but that's pretty much beside the point!

Sunday I went to the Holy Trinity Brompton church, which is the base for Alpha International. It was in a huge, old cathedral, and inside was very modern music and a contemporary service. It was very interesting - when we walked into the church it was a big shock from what I had expected from the outside! We left at a little after 11, and I parted from our group there and went off for my day of fun and exploring! I walked up from South Kensington, went to Hyde Park, wandered around until I came to Oxford Circus, then took the tube to Charing Cross just for fun, saw Trafalger Square for the first time, and kept walking. I walked toward my favorite section of London and passed Whitehall and realized that my favorite part of London had just expanded! I then walked down to my bridge and stood there . . . for a very long time. Big Ben chimed 2 pm, and I just looked into the water and thought. After thinking about assigned topics for a week and having to write a paper putting them all together, I really enjoyed having a chance to think about what I wanted to! It was very good, and I found myself unwinding. I walked over the bridge and down the Victoria Embankment. I eventually went down to Paul's Walk, which goes right along the river. Then, I found a treasure - a place where there is a tiny beach and little waves from the boats on the Thames roll up and make nice water sounds. This is where I sat for quite some time.

At last a larger than usual boat went by at a rather rapid rate, and a larger than usual wave came crashing up on where I was sitting. I saw it coming either just in time - or a little late, depending on what your perspective is - and it splashed up on my feet and my bag. I jumped out of the way for the rest of it and kept my camera dry, for which I am thankful. I did end up scraping my knuckles on the rock, and got some residue on my bag. My feet were also a little wet. And I had touched the water of the Thames. I feel like 'we' have reached a kind of agreement. I can go there and relax and unwind and talk out loud, and in turn I will not take it for granted. I assume that such thoughts are a result of too much thinking by myself and getting a little weird, but oh well! If I can't be crazy when I'm by myself, I shall give up hope entirely :)

Well, unfortunately it's getting late and I can't finish posting about my week. Hopefully tomorrow evening I will have time to post about the rest of my week! GStQ

04 February 2010

4 February 2010

Today was a rather interesting day - it was the first time I had my colloquy session at 10:30 instead of 8:30. That meant that I was able to sleep in a bit, have a wonderful breakfast, and do some reading before the session. We were discussing Bede's History of the English Church and People and The Rule of St. Benedict, which made for a wonderful discussion. It was interesting to hear the different views on the Rule, especially.

This afternoon was much quieter - I started the process of synthesizing the week's learning for my paper, and listened to a lot of music. I was feeling particularly cooped up, so Bethany and I went for a walk this evening. We just went around the 'block' (which is a little different than an American block, since the city is most definitely laid out along ancient cart paths and no grid!) twice. It was wonderful, and I felt so much better afterwards! GStQ

03 February 2010

3 February 2010

Yesterday we didn't have any classes; it was a reading day to let us do some of the readings ahead for this coming week since our schedule is different (after going to Bath). Since I didn't go outside all day and not too much happened that needs to be recorded in a blog for the present and all posterity, I didn't post. :)

Today was much more interesting. We had plenary this morning, learning from the decline of Rome to Charlemagne. It was very interesting - one more piece in this thing known as the history of Western Civilization. We also learned about what happened to the Byzantine Empire and the rise of Islam. After plenary was chapel - we sang all our music a Capella, since we are getting into the period of Gregorian chants and are trying to model the music a little after that. We sang an African song, which was rather lively, a hymn, our theme song "Guide My Feet" and Lord Listen to Your Children Praying. The last was neat because it's one of my favorites that I have been thinking about recently, although I haven't heard it in a church since I was eight or nine.

This is one of the best performances I found of it.

Bethany and I ate lunch while walking down the street, which was fun and made me feel like a real Londoner, and this afternoon we went to the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, and the British Library. We saw amazing, incredible things like the Lindisfarne Gospels. There was other neat stuff too, at the other places, but it was more detail work such as looking at coins, grave excavations, and so on.

One thing that also happened as we were travelling around today was there were a lot of musicians in the tube stations. When we first got here there seemed to be quite a few, then I hadn't heard any in awhile. Today we heard guitar, saxaphone, and clarinet, all in different stations! It was so nice - I miss being surrounded by music, and to hear it playing was wonderful. Something about the way the tube stations are built, with their long corridors and escalator-ways or something makes for good acoustics, and I enjoy it a lot since they're usually quite good! GStQ

01 February 2010

1 February 2010

Today was a day different from any day I have had since coming here to London. We left for Bath at 7:37 this morning, getting there around 11:30 this morning. Once we got there we headed for the center of town, where we split up. Bethany and I went to a Sainsbury's and bought bread, cheese, and biscuits (cookies). We sat on a bench and ate our lunch, then began our day's assignments. The first place we went was the Roman baths, which were nothing short of amazing. We split up to go at our own paces, so I was alone most of the time. One neat thing was that included in the price of admission was an audio guide, so I was able to learn a lot that I probably would have never been able to figure out with only the signs. I learned a lot - it was fascinating. One thing I have to mention is that I really did try the famous spa water that has 42 minerals in it. I had been warned that it was not good and that I wouldn't like it. My conclusion? It could use a peppermint tea bag (naturally, the water there is warm,) but at the same time it was not as bad as the water at my home if we don't filter it, or Houghton water for that matter.

After that Bethany and I went for a walking tour of the town - all around the river, town, circle, (seeing houses such as that of former MP and Prime Minister William Pitt!) and out more toward the country. There were some nice parks/open places, including a little 'garden' that was just like a lawn with a maze in it. At the end of the day, when we had extra time, Bethany and I went through the maze.

We also went to Bath Abbey, which was stunning. To realize that there were so many thousands of people buried under it was amazing - as was reading the memorial stones on the sides. And seeing the enormous stained glass windows. And the white and gold high alter. Anyway . . . yes, it was amazing!

It was a long day, and I slept on the ride home - which was, thankfully, about an hour shorter than the ride out. I guess we hit rush hour on the way out . . . or our driver was impatient on the way back . . . or something. At any rate, I was glad to be back! GStQ