29 March 2010

29 March 2010

Well, now that it has been a ridiculously long time since I last blogged, I finally decided that there would never be a time here in my life in London when I would say to myself "Wow! There is absolutely nothing I can do now but blog!". So, I decided that now, when there is nothing else that I HAVE to do, would be the next best time! :)

Things have been going well here. Having not blogged for awhile I have, perhaps, gained a little perspective on the ways my life has changed since coming here. (Yes, believe it or not, I have thought about my blog! I have even thought about ways of wording this post, things I might say, and if I should apologize for having been gone for so long. This was just while I was walking down some street or taking notes at an art gallery; not exactly times I could open my blog and hammer out a post!) When I was first here I was kind of high on the newness of it; I posted hundreds of unedited pictures to facebook, rambled on about every little detail of my day, and generally was over the top with excitement. A few weeks ago culture shock started setting in, I got homesick,and the work started getting to me. I felt like I wasn't at the intelligence level needed for this program, and so on. Psychologically, perhaps, there is something to be said for why I didn't blog then ... maybe I felt like if I didn't have anything good to say, it was better just not to say it! However, it would be completely unfair and wrong to say these have been bad weeks! A little tougher, perhaps, but wonderful nonetheless! And now ... well, I'm back to absolutely loving it. I will try to recap a little.

Concerts - ah, concerts!!!!! Last week I went to the London Symphony Orchestra and heard the Grieg Piano Concerto, went to the Royal Opera House and saw the ballet La Fille mal gardee, today I went to a piano recital to hear Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, and so on. I still am very much liking that part of London, and the music will certainly be one of the things I miss most.

Art - I have visited some wonderful art galleries, and seen a lot of truly amazing art. I really liked the Reubens paintings we saw awhile ago, since I have 'always' (and I use that term loosely, since I have never really been into art before this semester - maybe 'intuitively' would be a better word) like outdoors scenes; natural things like landscapes and animals. However, last week was really neat because we were learning about impressionism and for the first time I felt like I really understood it. It was amazing to look at a painting and actually get what the card next to it was talking about! Today I went to the Courtauld gallery and looked at post-impressionism art; we are onto more modern-ish art this week and it certainly is a stretch. I have a feeling that the last few weeks, when we were listening to Beethoven and Chopin and looking at art that had distinguishable features, might end up being my favorite weeks of the program material-wise. But there is, of course, still hope that I will gain an appreciation for modern art! (Although I must admit that I find it unlikely ... I will certainly try; if nothing else I am here to learn.)

Yesterday Bethany and I went out to the Heath; our first time together. We walked pretty much around the border of it, then got lost and ended up cutting all the way through the middle as well. It made for 8 or so miles of walking in the woods or at least out in the open, in fields, etc. It was so nice to get out, and the weather was beautiful! We had a lot of fun, regardless of the mud. Actually, dare I say 'with' the mud? After all, what is an adventure without any challenges? It was much more fun to maneuver around ruts, jump over creeks, and run through wet spots and up slippery banks, then just calmly strolling down a paved path. Maybe not for everyone, but for me it was wonderful! It wasn't physically relaxing, but mentally I sure unwound! It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

Well, I guess that is pretty much it for now ... I live and learn, quite literally! and am enjoying most minutes of it :) GStQ (I have been to Buckingham Palace, by the way, and have heard them singing "God Save the Queen" for the changing of the guard. Just fyi) :)

16 March 2010

16 March 2010

So, the epic adventure goes on ... I have to say it again, I'm so excited to be in London!!!

Today was my outside day for break. For Friday we have a lot of reading due, (some poems, as well as the whole book "Frankenstein",) so I headed up to Hampstead Heath, which is a wonderful place to relax and be outdoors! It was a beautiful, amazing, lovely, gorgeous, sunny, warm, quiet, and great for a non-stressful day on break!

That was just one of the many fields that I walked through today.

I loved the reflection of the trees and sky in the water!

So, that is an example of why I like it so well there! There are open spaces, and I felt like I could breathe ... is was so nice! When I walked out the gate and back into London, there was one more aspect of my break that was accomplished - a restful afternoon that helped me to de-stress still further and unwind part of myself that gets tied into little knots from being with people constantly! That is one downside of living in such a city as London ... not that I don't like it, just every once in awhile I need something different! :) GStQ

13 March 2010

13 March 2010

Today was a very fun day! It was my first day of being here in London when I officially had nothing to do! Please note that the above statement does NOT mean that I did not do anything! I called my family this morning and was able to talk to all of them, which was very nice! This afternoon I went up to Camden Town market, which apparently is a huge tourist attraction/trap. There I saw yet one more instance of just how much I've changed since coming here. I was definitely not a Londoner. At the same time, I was not like the tourists. It was strange! I got ripe mangos, a London hoodie, and other random things such as bread and cheese for the coming week! :) It was a very fun afternoon, the first Saturday afternoon I have really enjoyed here ... GStQ

12 March 2010

My Reasons

The reason I live:

The reason I dance:

The reason I sing:

The reason I hope:

I thank God that he is my reason for existing! Without Him I certainly could not do it!

11 March 2010

11 March 2010

Well ... another week in London town, each as busy as the last! Sometimes I wonder when I have time to breathe! (Or do I ....) :)

After the St. Martin-in-the-Fields experience last Friday, I had still more musical experiences. Sunday afternoon I went to one of the Holy Trinity Brompton services, which was amazing in both music and the sermon. Again, it was a time that I actually was able to learn and feel like I got something out of the service! Monday I did reading ahead and no magging, in preparation for Tuesday and Wednesday. Said Tuesday evening I went to see The Marriage of Figaro, by Mozart! It was amazing - my first opera experience, and I loved it! Wednesday I went to a lunchtime cello recital, which made me miss my cello a lot (even more than hearing the cellos at the opera), especially since one of the pieces she played was a Bach Suite that I have played, and I knew what the fingerings/bowings felt like. (If that makes any sense.)That evening I went back to the opera, to see A Midsummer Night's Dream. I must admit that I didn't like it as well as I liked Figaro - looking forward to seeing it as a play sometime. I think a lot of it was the music - I had really been looking forward to the Mendelssohn music, since I really like Mendelssohn, and this was Benjamin Brittain. There's nothing wrong with his music, but somehow it just wasn't the same .... still a wonderful experience, though, no regrets.

Today I went to the National Gallery. There was a man out front with a yo-yo and he was ridiculously good with it! Still don't get how people can work those things .... I also went to the Tate Britain. It was my first time there, and I really liked the artwork I saw today. It was my furthest south to date on the tube (although Canterbury was, of course, further!), which was also exciting!

I have no paper due this weekend because of break, and am feeling more relaxed already! I had a wonderful evening - now time to get some rest so I can ... rest for break! GStQ

Here's a song I've been listening to a lot recently (and when I saw a lot I mean on loop ....) It is a wonderful reminder to me about how much God wants me to be fully His.

05 March 2010

5 March 2010

Wow, it's been awhile since I blogged! This was brought to my attention by a very kindly-intentioned (I think) friend of mine who casually mentioned that I hadn't blogged in awhile. Just as casually, if I ever discover that she blogs more than I do, I will make an effort to blog more often. So there. You know who you are :D

Going back .... wow, a lot has happened this week! That is my primary reason for not blogging - I have been very busy! Monday I went to St. Paul's Cathedral, as a part of the assignment. I find it funny and slightly ironic that just as I state myself as being resigned to the weather, we have a whole week of lovely sunshine! It was wonderful. I walked up to the top of the dome, which was some 500 steps, but it was so worth it to see the view! I was able to see all the way out to the edge of London and some fields beyond - it was pretty cool! The inside of the church itself was also very neat. It continually amazes me how much emphasis there is on WWII here. I have, of course, learned about it, but here there are monuments, etc. In the Cathedral there was a chapel from the people of Britain to the American soldiers who gave their lives in the war. It was very touching to see the way they appreciated the Americans; I suppose their view on the war was different since they were bombed. Or else maybe I just haven't been around people who were so directly influenced by the war and it's just that the British really like plaques and other things that commemorate occasions (the plaque thing is certainly true).

Tuesday I went to the Wallace Collection, which is an art collection that went on for five generations. Lady Wallace, after the death of her husband, bequeathed it to the nation on the condition that nothing be added or removed. It was amazing, as was the house. I saw a miniature of Voltaire, the largest collection of Marie Antoinette's furniture in the world, rooms filled with armor, paintings, and so much more! I loved it, and would like to go back some week when I have free time ... yeah, haha. Maybe when I'm old if I ever get a chance to visit London again!

Wednesday I went to the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery, which is thousands of paintings. I realized something most inconvenient - I'm developing this problem called an appreciation for art, which makes it quite impossible to glance at something and check it off the list! Actually, I'm thankful for it. I am slowly learning the things to look for, and it is very exciting to look at a painting and see more than some random guy who has been dead for four hundred years.

Thursday I went down to the Banqueting House at Whitehall. I learned that it was the site of the execution of Charles I, as well as a place for masques (drama), ambassador parties, and so on. It was a beautiful room, being as high as it is wide, and exactly twice as long. There were also nine huge, beautiful paintings on the ceiling. I really liked it there; it was very peaceful and calming. The downside was that during the hour or so I was listening to the audio guide tour on a nice soft bench by a large window, I nearly fell asleep! However, I made it out just fine. I walked out just a little before 4, right across from the Horse Guards Palace. Since they have their inspection daily at 4, of course I stayed! It was really neat, and reminded me a lot of the changing of the guard at Prague Castle: very elaborate, ordered, and interesting! I also went to the Science Museum, which was (for even a non-science person like me!) fascinating. There were all these life size people in model situations - a store, open heart surgery, dentist, x-ray machine, and so on. It was startling every time, although I knew they were fakes! I would look in and think 'oh, someone's fixing the exhibit' - then realize that they were after all just more real looking plastic people! The evening was also a lot of fun; I went to the church and practiced for chapel with Joia. We played the pipe organ, keyboard, she played her violin, and we both sang. The church had really good acoustics, and it was a pleasure to make music in there! It was one of the only times I had really sung with all my heart since coming to London. I loved it.

Today was plenary, and this afternoon I went to Hampstead Heath. It was wild and wonderful, and I felt so at home! I sat on a bench dedicated to a man 'who enjoyed his daily walks here' and thought that I could enjoy daily walks there, too! I hadn't had so much fun getting muddy since I was rather young! This evening our whole group went to St. Martin's Church-in-the-Fields for a chamber music concert - works by Bach, Handel and Vivaldi. It was very relaxing and well done, although when they started tuning I started really missing my cello! Ah well, I shall be home sometime .... :)

If you are still reading, then I congratulate you for making it through the week! I found it to be busy and, although somewhat stressful, a lot of fun. The places we went and the things we read I really enjoyed, for the most part. Now for the weekend: paper! GStQ