and now for a massive post. the first half is a message i wrote on our flat computer last night and saved to disk. the other half is an update from today.

the entry I wrote last night . . .

everso unfair
So, after I spent two hours on the Internet Monday, trying to find out about the Catch Me If You Can premier, John from downstairs happened upon the red carpet while he was heading to a movie in Leicester (pronounced “lester”) Square. He was thisclose to Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks! And Leonardo DiCaprio had already gotten into his limo. I am so stinkin’ jealous. He didn’t have his camera on him, though. Bugger.

everso “loverly”
Last night we went to see My Fair Lady down in Covent Garden. It was fun. The costumes were fabulous and the set was wonderful.

eversuch the week for reunions
S@r@h Pr*tzm@n got in to London Saturday. We were finally able to meet up Sunday night at the Methodist Central Hall. She came back to my flat to visit for a while. And tonight, before the show, I met Emily Schnieders, my roommate from last semester. She’s also studying at Westminster. The two of us, and three girls from her programme, went to dinner at Pizza Express.

everso artsy
This week’s excursion was to the Tate Britain. It is the art gallery for British art. We learned about our street’s namesake: William Hogarth. He was the first real British artist; before him, all the big names in painting were from Italy, France and Spain. After the Tate, I went on my own to the Victoria and Albert Museum to the Design and Art Direction Awards exhibition. It was really interesting; it went through the past 40 years of the best advertising, labelling and product design. I recognised a lot of the pieces on display and I’m really glad I got to see it before it left London.

* “fit bird” = “hot chick”
* “Are you alright?” = “What’s up?”/ “How are you?” (but it sounds like the person is asking if you twisted your ankle tripping down the stairs)
*The BBC is great television.

ps, i’m ok
This Saturday an Underground train derailed. Just in case any of you were thinking that I might be on that train, I wanted to quell your fears. (although, obviously, I was fine since I posted earlier this week . . . just thought I’d let you know I was thinking about you.)

the entry I wrote tonight . . .

times I wish I had a digital camera
Celebrity sighting #1. Eat your heart out, John! After waiting in the freezing snow for an hour, Hugh Grant and Sandra Bullock showed up for the Two Weeks Notice London premier. AND I WAS THISCLOSE TO BOTH OF THEM!!!!!! Seriously! A foot away! And I got pictures. Oh I got pictures. I got about five pictures of people who I thought were Hugh and Sandra . . . but weren’t. I did get a good one of Sandra, though, I'm sure of it. But I'm afraid that because my picture of Hugh was my last frame, it might have been cropped. However, I made friends with the guy next to me and he’s going to email me the pictures from his digital camera. This guy was from Taiwan, was a student at the University of Akron and was studying in London. (Small world . . . Akron is where my aunt is a professor.) After the stars went into the theatre, one of the security guards gave me one of the big cardboard posters. I don’t know how I’m getting it home, but I’ll figure it out. I’m not a “Hugh” fan of Sandra and Hugh, but this definitely is the highlight of the semester so far.

the internship is growing on me . . .
I got to play around with Quark today. Sally, the Art Director had a project for me. Menial as it was, it was still on Quark and it was for the art director. I feel like I’m finally getting into the swing of the office and that the others are starting to get used to me. I’m feeling comfortable enough to ask questions. I’m starting to actually learn things about how the magazine comes together. Hopefully, it’ll just keep getting better.

the goals . . .
I thought I’d let you all know my goals for the semester. If I tell you, I’ll hopefully be able to follow through with them. So, here they are, straight from my travel journal:
*Stay within budget of $3,500 (the goal most likely to fail. If I owe my parents $2,000 at the end of the semester, I will consider myself thrifty)
*Visit France, Italy, Greece, Luxembourg, Ireland, Switzerland, Sweeden, Germany, Spain (I probably won’t get to those last four)
*Make some good friends (accomplished that already)
*Make a good contact or two at my internship for letters of recommendation
*Get at least two design clips (probably mock clips, but clips of some kind at least)
*Do not randomly hook up with a guy
*Maintain a strong faith and relationship with God
*Visit Emily (tick), Sarah (tick), Ryan Horseman and Ryan Nichols (both studying at Reading)
*Be able to pull off a British accent
*Meet and hang out with some British students
*Do not buy anything from an American chain (exceptions: I’ve eaten Pizza Hut, but that was because some of the guys in the flat beneath us bought it and invited us downstairs for free pizza . . . There's a Starbucks in the IPC Media tower and it's part of the office culture to get coffee. Under no circumstances beyond threat of death will I enter a Starbucks anywhere else in Europe however.)

*There are more Cadburry Egg machines than pop machines in the tube stations.
*The color to wear is purple. Men especially wear a lot of violet button down shirts with dark purple ties.
*There are no 3 Muskateers bars here.
*I always thought that people inserted the words 'chap' and 'bloke' to try to be pretentious and sound British, but the girls in the office really do call guys that.


the guy next to me on the tube this morning was snoring
Just thought I'd share. I feel like I have a routine here. I know my way around the tube stations so I can get to the right train without having to stop to look at maps anymore. That's kinda cool, I think. The internship still isn't pleasing me as much as I was hoping, but I'm really trying not to get too disappointed and give it a chance. I just feel like I'm in everyone's way. I'd like to know more about how the magazie is run, but everytime I ask a question, I fell like I'm interrupting something important. Today I spent two hours online trying to find out where the London premiers of Two Weeks Notice and Catch Me if You Can are going to be this week because they had nothing for me to do. I learned nothing. Honestly, I'd rather be out touring Westminster Abbey or seeing Sherlock Holmes' Baker Street. In my time online, though, I did find out that there's an exhibit showing magazine and advertising design trends at the Victoria and Albert Museum. It leaves this weekend, so I'm going to try to visit it this Wednesday. It'll probably be the closest I get to magazine design all semester, or at least for a while.

*When people parallel park, they can do it on either side of the road, no matter which side they drive down.
*I've heard a ton of U2 cover songs on the radio here . . . that's weird.
*These cars are everywhere.


i feel like a londoner
I heard the phrase "bloody hell" twice today.
I read the paper on the Tube as I commuted to work this morning.


wedding and home pros
*I have a big desk with a computer and can use the Internet for free during my lunch break.
*From the 27th floor of the IPC Media tower, I can look out of the window next to my desk and see the Thames, Big Ben and the London Eye.
*The eight women in the office are all really nice and I'm on a first-name basis with the editor already.
*I got a piece of wedding cake for a snack today.
*I get to work on a Mac G4 like my Jack back home.
*I get to know "real" Brits who can answer my every question about London, etc.
*It'll look good on a resume.

wedding and home cons
*I do the most menial office work, like sorting mail, typing lists, filing travel brochures, calling florists. It's almost like I'm back at Business Services at MU . . . but I get paid there.
*They haven't even asked me what I want to do in magazines, so I don't think they have any idea that I want to design. If it stays like this for the semester, it's hardly worth putting on a resume except to say I worked at an IPC Media magazine.
*I have to work 10-6 everyday except Wednesdays, leaving very little time to explore London. (Wednesdays are our programme excursions.)
*That means I have to work Fridays and can't take off for a three-day weekend holiday like the students taking classes. (They don't have any classes on Fridays.)
*I have to answer the phone and can't understand British English when it's garbled by the telephone.
P.S. Funny story: Monday I was calling a florist and accidentally introduced myself, "Hi this is Erica from the Colum- I mean from Wedding and Home Magazine." Oops!

weekend overview
Friday, Ellen and I went to the Tate Modern, a modern art museum. It was really interesting. We only got through the first floor. Good thing it's free, we'll be able to go back!
Saturday morning we went to the Portobello Market in Notting Hill. It's just like the movie with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts. We found the travel bookshop where Hugh worked in the movie. It was amusing how many teenaged and college aged girls were there, as if Hugh was going to ring them up at the cash register. (OK, so we were guilty of being those girls as well.) From one of the outdoor stalls, Ellen and I each bought a matted copy of an old Vogue cover. It's a London edition of Vogue and shows a lady in the rain on the cover. It's great; I love it. I feel part of the magazine industry.
Saturday was Mary Pat's 21st birthday. We celebrated by getting dressed up and going to Harrod's for high tea. We felt so posh. I stole a napkin, a sugar pack and the Twinnings string from my tea for my scrapbook. (The Queen orders her tea from Twinnings.)
Neil Dwyer from Mizzou came to visit some of us fellow Tigers this weekend. He's studying at Edinburgh this semester and came down with a group from his programme. It was fun to hang out with him and his friend John. We now have a floor to sleep on when we go visit Edinburgh. (I got an email from Holly Wray today. She's studying in Spain and says we can have her floor as well. Cheap accommodations, sounds good to me!)
Saturday night we ended up at a gay club. It was great. I now know where I can go dancing without slimy Italians getting in my way. The guys were good sports about it. Girls, I'll let you in on a little secret we learned: if you want a short-term boyfriend, take a straight guy to a gay bar. He'll want your protection. There were four of us girls and four guys; it evened out quite nicely!

tales of canterbury and dover
For our weekly programme excursion, we travelled about an hour and a half outside London to Dover Castle and the Canterbury Cathedral. Once again, absolutely beautiful weather. It didn't rain until we got on the bus to come back to the city. The White Cliffs of Dover were lovely and from the castle's keep tower, we could actually see the coast of France! It was really neat to walk through Canterbury Cathedral as well. The town of Canterbury was so fun and quaint!

coming attractions
We booked our Spring break trip today. Ellen Meg and I are going to Italy and Greece. We'll hit Rome, Florence, Venice and Athens in eight days. I can't wait!
Saturday, Protz gets into London. I'm meeting her in Harrow, the suburb where she's going to school and I'm going to attempt to help her beat jet lag. It's going to be great to catch up!

* "Cheers!" is said all the time and means everything from hello to good-bye to thanks to sorry to excuse me, and more.
* The road markings are about as decipherable as hieroglyphics.
* Even though I can't understand the Brits, I'm picking up a bit of an accent, especially when saying phone numbers.
* Washing up liquid = dish soap and laundry detergent.
* There's a Starbucks on every other corner. Literally. There's one in the IPC Media tower.
* I am beginning to sleep despite the trains . . . or maybe I'm just going to bed after the trains stop running.
* The British don't take vacations, they take holidays . . . and most people take the entire month of August off.
* There are now five couples on our programme.


dun dun da dun
I will be walking down the aisle (or hallways) of Wedding and Home Magazine beginning this coming Monday! Wedding and Home is a 300+ page, glossy magazine, by IPC Media Ltd. This is no Vox. IPC Media also does In Style, the New Yorker, tvGuide, Horse and Hound and others. The building where I'll be working is where the London branches of all those other magazines are located. I'm so excited! As are my roommates who can't wait to thumb through the magazine, comparing their favorite wedding dresses. Lauren, the London Program director who found the internships, said that this was the magazine where she thought I would get the most design opportunities. Instead of doing an interview, like everyone else in the program who is interning, Fiona, the lady from Wedding and Home just wants me to have a full trial day this Monday. I have a feeling that means that if they like me, I'll be going full speed ahead starting next week! I probably will be fetching tea, running errands and answering the phones for a while, I imagine. Lauren said that previous interns have done the mock-ups for upcoming issues, meaning that I will be working with the design programs, although most likely not doing the creative process. While the creative part is the most fun, that's fine with me; the more experience I have with the programs, the better.

the others
My roommates each got amazing internships as well. Ellen got Tatler, the British version of Vogue by Conde Nast. (For those of you foreign to the media business, Conde Nast is one of the top media conglomerates, publishing other magazines such as Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair, House and Garden, Conde Nast Traveller.) Meg got Capital City Records, a major local radio group with three big name stations. Mary Pat got CNBC (she has to be there at 6 in the morning starting a week from this coming Monday . . . and she never wakes up to her alarm!). Sarah got a human rights activist group. Every internship seems to be a perfect fit for each of us (except for Mary Pat getting up at 4 in the morning). Oh! Laine got the best internship for her, as well. She'll be doing PR work with a small company that works with theatres and will get to go to shows like the Reduced Shakespeare Company's other performances and the Vagina Monologues for free as well as work with the actors to arrange media interviews! How cool is that! This program is great. There is absolutely no way that any of us would have been able to land any of these on our own. My first internship, had I been sent to find one by myself, most likely would not have been a big, glossy magazine.

the days gone by
It's been pretty laid back. Tuesday night we had our first British Life and Culture lecture. A guy from another university talked about the cultural differences between the U.K. and the U.S. He had studied at KU during his graduate years, so we bonded, the two of us, talking about Kansas wheat fields. Did you know that Kensington, the area where we are living for this program, is one of the top one or two most expensive places to live in all of Europe! Now I know what the program was a bit pricey!
Wednesday we went to the London Museum. It was a little boring, to tell the truth, but not bad.
Yesterday I went running in Kensington Park. I can't get over that. Kensington Park! And I went running there! Right by the Palace where Diana lived! Then I successfully navigated the Underground by myself and found the IPC Media building. It's on the South Bank of the Thames, so I wandered around there for a while (I saw a black man in a kilt and three teenaged Amish boys), and got some good shots of the sun setting behind Big Ben and Parliament.
I'd signed up for a small walking tour of Mayfair, the ritzy (including the Ritz) part of London. It was really interesting. I learned that Prince Charles will not become King Charles III when he is crowned. The two previous Kind Charleses had unlucky reigns, so he has decided that he will take his father's name, and will be King George VII, when he is crowned. Interesting, eh?
Ellen and I decided not to go to Paris this weekend. The program is taking a group tour there in a month and I decided that if I were going to go to France twice during this semester, I'd rather go to a different part, like Normandy or the Riviera. So We're going to check out the Portobello Market this weekend instead.

*I can't understand a British person who has to speak to me through a microphone-like-thing (like at a ticket counter).
*I am getting very used to walking absolutely everywhere.
*Thank God for Fabreeze. Doing a load of laundry costs the equivalent of about $7!
*We live a block from where Sir Alfred Hitchcock lived.
*The Brits use the word, "keen" a lot.
*Buying groceries here is a lot less expensive than in the States. Eating out here is generally more expensive than in the States. Guess which one I'll be doing most often.
*There are now three couples on the program. We haven't even been here for a week! You've got to be kidding me!
*They play American pop music in nearly all their pubs.


brief update
I'm still having fun. Thanks for all the emails and Talk Backs you guys have written. Yesterday was full of getting to know the area and the college a little more. (Cafeteria food in the U.K. is just as bad as cafeteria food in the U.S.) The college surprised me with how many Asians there were; more Asians than Europeans. Interesting.
Last night we went to a Sports Cafe (think Hard Rock Cafe but sports, and a lot more fun) to catch a bit of the Mizzou basketball game. I really feel that the group of us students are getting to be close. It's kinda funny, but the first few days of studying here remind me a lot of the first few days of beginning college. Everyone is really nice to everyone else because we're all out of our comfort zone and just really want to have people we can call friends. There are the initial hook-ups (two couples already, and none of them knew each other before! crazy!) and roommates are trying to figure out how to live together. It's really interesting to watch everyone.
We found out yesterday that the program is going to go in for group rates for a bunch of theatre productions! While everyone else was getting excited about learning where the best pubs in London are, Laine and I were getting excited about the shows! I can't wait!
We also had a "bobby" (police officer) come in and talk to us about safety in the city. He was really funny and helpful. After his talk, the roommates and I figured out that we really didn't need a purse to go out to the Sports Cafe and managed to carry all we needed (money, ID, keys, lip gloss) in our pockets last night. Spike, the bobby, also explained to us the alcohol rules in Britain. 18 is the legal drinking age, but there is no public drunkenness. If you are passed out in public or are causing a disturbance, whether it be picking a fight with a trash can or singing at the top of your lungs, you can be arrested and taken to the police station. After two occurrances, you can be taken before a judge. If you are foreign, you will be deported. Those laws seem much more reasonable than our 21 years old drinking age and obscene drunkenness.
Today we had a short meeting to be briefed on what to expect from our internship and interview. I find out my placement tomorrow morning and will go to interview with the publication either Wednesday, Thursday or Friday of this week, so it looks like no long-term exploration of the city. I'm really nervous!

Half the people we've seen in the city have been foreigners. I love listening to all the languages and have understood some of the French conversations I've caught!
Dr. Pepper tastes different here.
The Brits use the word "whilst" a ton.
Mickey Finn is slang for a date rape drug (thanks to Spike).
Europeans don't understand that the phrase, "I want to dance with my friends" means "I do not want to dance with you. Get away."


Wow. I can't believe I'm in London right now! I'm getting chills just thinking about that. Where to start....I guess I could just let you know what all I've been up to the past two days.

yesterday, saturday, jan. 11
I arrived on the group flight in London after 10 a.m. We went to our flat, got settled in for about 45 minutes and then walked to a restaurant by Kensington Park where we were treated to fish and chips. The park is gorgeous. It's January and the grass is green! It had snowed a couple of days before, which they said is very unusual for London. Overall, the weather since we've been here has been simply beuatiful; cold, but clear skies and no rain. After strolling the park and watching all the dogs wander all over the place (think the 101 Dalmations scene in the park . . . the dogs were everywhere!) we went to the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine for a quick orientation. In the British ranking system, Cambridge is the number one university in reat Britain, Oxford is number three, and Imperial (much to the chagrin of Oxford) is number two. Don't go thinking I'm a genius or anything (because we know that's not true) because we won't actually be taking Imperial classes; our classes are taught by Missouri System teachers.
After the brief orientation, we had some time before going out on an "unofficial, not-program-sponsored, they-take-no-liability" pub crawl. Actually, the group of about 10 that I stuck with ended up just visiting two pubs. We were home by 8:30 and in bed at 9. Sad, but true.

today, sunday, jan. 12
After a night of practially no sleep (more about that later), we were up again at 9 a.m. for a three hour sight-seeing tour of London. It was fabulous! Our guide, Trudy was hilarious. And she loved Harry Potter. She pointed out where Richard Harris, (aka Professor Dumbledore) lived until his death a few months ago (the Savoy hotel) and where Alan Rickman worked as a kid at a fish market. I feel so cool being in a city where so many cool people live and have lived. Trudy told us about the tour she led of about 8 women who, when they arrived at "Buck Pal" completely lost all their lady-like manners and went crazy when Paul McCartney showed up to be knighted. She called her children "kiddywinks" and herself their "mumsie." She raved about Princess Diana and Queen Victoria and the Queen Mum. The weather was perfect for taking pictures. Unfortunately, we didn't get to stop for photos by the Thames of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Bridge, the London Eye, the Tower of London, Trafalger Square, Buckingham Palace. I know I'll be back, but everyone says that the weather is never this gorgeous, so I'm disappointed I didn't get to take full advantage of it. We did get to see the GGs (horse guards) come through Kensington Gardens as they went to their posts for the day, and we did get to stop at Westminster Abbey, so I got pictures of those places.
We were dropped off at Picadilly Circus at the end of the tour. Great place. That's where the half price ticket counter is for all of the London theatre shows. They're day-of tickets and people start lining up in the morning, Trudy said. I'll be spending a few Saturdays there, that's for sure. I already have a list of shows I must see: The Lion King, Contact, Chicago, Mamma Mia and the play with Dames Judy Dench and Maggie Smith (I could actually see those two in person!!!!!). We walked around Picadilly for a few hours and gawked at the shops. I have quickly learned not to look at prices in designer stores. As Sarah McCann, one of my roommates, put it: "Shopping here is just like a free museum. You can look and admire all you want!" I did take a peek in Burberry at the price of a scarf: too much. It was funny, though. We started taking count of anyone who walked by us wearing anything with the Burberry plaid. In the course of a 15 minute walk to a cafe (pronounced "caff"), we saw about 12 people, including a woman in a trench coat and each of her kids with either a coat, a scarf or a bag with Burberry plaid. Crazy.
After wandering for a few hours, we all met up at the Criterion Theatre for the Reduced Shakspeare production of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare, Abridged. Three men, perform all of the Bard's trageies, commedies and histories in 97 minutes. I'd seen the performance in Sedona, AZ about four years before, and it was just as hilarious the second time around.
When the play was over, we were without a "coach" (tour bus) to take us back to our flats and were left to fend for ourselves to find a way home. It was really very easy; just a simple Tube ride. Our flats are about a five minute walk from Earl's Court Tube station. That'll come in real handy when I start my internship.

tomorrow and further
Tomorrow we meet at 8 a.m. (now that's a tragedy worse than any Shakespeare's plays, especially if I don't get sleep for the third night in a row) for another, more in-depth orientation. We start our first class Tuesday evening at 6 p.m. with British Life and Culter. The lecture is a basic intro to Britain. Wednesday, in correspondance with the Tuesday lecture, we'll head to the Museum of London for a few hours. Some of our other BLC classes throughout the semester will take up to Dover and Canterbury (including the white cliffs of Dover), the Tate Britain, Bath and Stonehenge, the Victoria and Albert Museum, Warwick and Stratford, the Houses of Parliament, Oxford and Blenheim Palace, the Inns of Court, the British Museum, and the Globe Theatre. Through the grapevine, we've been un-officially told that our internship interviews won't be until Friday of next week! That means that I'll be visiting a lot of the museums and sites on my own and getting to have a better understanding of the city!
This weekend, Sarah is going to Paris to visit her brother and his fiancee. Being the nice roommates that we are, Ellen and I have decided to accompany her. We don't think she should travel on her own, her first weekend in Europe. It's simply not safe. ;) So, as my MU friends are moving back to CoMo and are getting ready for classes, I'll be chilling in good ol' Paree!

a train runs through my backyard every 30 seconds
Seriously. There is a train stop directly behind our flat (we could jump onto the tracks from the flat above ours balcany) and the trains seriously run every thirty seconds . . . the biggest gap I counted last night as I pleaded for sleep to come was five minutes between trains. I think they end around 1 in the morning . . . and then begin again around 6 in the morning. So I will consistantly be getting around five hours of sleep every night.
Other than that, our flat is absolutely fabulous. There are six of us living together: Sarah, Ellen, Mary Pat, Megan, Careth and me. Careth is the only one not from Mizzou and not doing a journalism internship. There is one bathroom. The boys below us have two bathrooms and only one of them has an internship. No fair. Really, though, our flat is a lot nicer than many of the others. For starters, we have a huge living room with nice furniture. Some lady last year with International Enrichment misappropirated funds and they ended up with really nice leather couches and a £2,000+ table and chairs set for six and since our flat is on the first level (the boys below us are in the basement and have a separate entrance from the rest of us.) the furniture ended up in our room. We aren't complaining! There are two bedrooms, one with two beds, one with four. The four bed bedroom is smaller than my freshman year dormroom and it's tight tight tight. But hey, we won't be spending much time in there anyways. We have a kitchen with a stove, microwave, fridge and freezer, sink and plenty of cabinet space. Basic kitchen supplies are there too. Our bathroom isn't too bad (except for the window that looks into our shower) and we actually get hot water! Overally, it's a ton better than each of us were excpecting. The other rooms aren't so nice . . . but most of them don't have bedrooms on the side of the train tracks either, so it evens out.
If you ever have a burning desire to write me a letter (or send me pictures, I brought too few and can't develop my American film over here) you can send it to my address:
Eric@ Br**k$
flat 1
40 Hogarth Road
London, England

Ellen keeps calling it Hogwarts instead of Hogarth by accident, so that's what everyone's calling it now. Fine with me. :)

If you ever feel like spending an exorbinant (sp?) amount of money by calling me on the phone (and probably not reaching anything but our voicemail) you can call: 001 44 7985 557 656 in the States.
For those of you who are also in the U.K. now, you can call me at 07985 557 656.

I guses that about does it for a "brief" update.

The quotation mark key on British computers is up on the number row, not near the return button.
There are no restrooms or public bathrooms in London. They're called toilets.
It takes a rocket scientist to figure out how to cross a road in London.
The doorknob in all flats besides ours is in the center of the door, a la Hobit style in the Lord of the Rings movies.
It's weird to enter a bus on the left side instead of the right.
So many shopkeepers could be cheating me out of money because I have no sense of what is a pound coin verses a pence coin yet.

This is an excessively long post and I've racked up a big charge of £1.70 here at the Internet cafe, so I probably will not be posting another novel for a while. Expect brief posts instead. :) Time to unpack!


all my bags are packed, i'm ready to go . . .
Thought I'd leave the country with a corny little heading. Tomorrow I leave for Chicago (!) and then Friday is London. Crazy! So, this is going to be short, because I need sleep and still have to finish watching Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels before I go to sleep.

speaking of movies . . .
All the movies (rented or in theaters) that I've seen over break:
Les Miserables (my family and I are going to see the London performance when they come visit me over Spring Break, so we had to familiarize ourselves)
Hard Day's Night
Back Beat (Those two were for me to bone up on my Beatles knowledge before visiting Liverpool)
Two Weeks Notice
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Ice Age
Lilo and Stitch
Catch Me if You Can (love it love it love it!!!)
Lord of the Rings - The Two Towers (finished the book last night, saw the movie tonight)
Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring
The Cider House Rules
John Q.
Analyze This
American President
Return to Oz (while babysitting Sterling)



ready to flap my wings . . .
My flight information came in today! I'm going to London, baby!

sir erica?
Michael Caine is on Letterman right now, talking about how he was knighted this past year. He was saying, "I got to meet the Queen. She does it with a sword." That got a huge laugh from the audience. George Foreman is on tonight, too, and Sir Michael was telling about how his daughter bought him a George Foreman Grill for Christmas. It's a funny little story about how he tried to bake English "bangers" (sausages) on it the other night and couldn't keep the "bangers" from sliding out of the grill. My mom got my dad a George Foreman Grill for Christmas (we cooked pork chops on it tonight), I just watched "The Cider House Rules" (for which Caine was the Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actor) last night, and I'm heading out to London this week, so I feel quite close to Sir Michael right now.

quite the know-it-all
In Britain, the word, "quite" means the opposite of what it means in the States. So if you say, "That was quite funny" you are saying that it wasn't funny at all.


stuck in the states?
So let me tell you a little story. At the end of September, I registered for the group flight from Chicago to London with International Enrichment, the sponsor for the Missouri London program. It is now three days before I leave for Chicago and I have no ticket to London! When I was in elementary school, I never really believed that I would ever graduate from high school. When all my friends were getting all sad and sappy about leaving, I never really felt too sad, because I never truly thought I would graduate. I felt the same as I have felt the past few weeks/days; I keep waiting for something to keep me from leaving. On Monday, a week after my flight arrangements were supposed to arrive, I called IE and they told me that they would send it out Friday (today) and if I didn't receive it by Tuesday, then call. If I don't receive it by Tuesday, I miss it! I've been driving extra careful lately, afraid that a little accident was what was going to keep me from going to London. But obviously, it's the stupid tickets. Uggh!

Sterling, age 4, sings me a little song
I babysat the neighbor boy earlier this week and brought him over to play on the piano a bit. Here's the song he made up as he pounded away at the keys:

"Baby Jesus, Baby Jesus was boooorn
To Mary and Joseph
He came to saaave us
He came to saaave us
He died on the cross
To saaaave us
Baby Jesus
Baby Jesus
Baby Jesus
And then a wolf came along and killed him and he died
He died to saaave us
Baby Jesus came to saaaave us"

For cute.

phrases de brit
The word whisky is a shortened form of whiskybae, or usquebae, which comes from Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha - literally meaning 'water of life'.


cue the sappy background music
So it's New Year's Eve . . . or actually, it is now the new year, and I thought it would be appropriate to reflect on the past semester a bit. I learned a lot about myself this semester. Read on:
*My faith is my own; I don't need to try to make it anyone else's faith.
*I actually know people . . . a lot of people. (My fellow Group 2 Recruitment Counselors dubbed me "Miss Popular" because we didn't go anywhere as a group without me running into someone that I knew.)
*However, sometimes I try too hard to know as many people as I can.
*I have a group of friends that I know I can count on.
*I put too much stock in beauty; I try too hard to be beautiful and I am swayed by beauty over other, more important attributes in other people.
*People actually respect me for my faith and my choices and my actions.
*I can design . . . that's a good thing since that's what I want to do for a living!
*If I say I'll be someplace at X:00, it will actually be X:20. I always underestimate how long it will take me to get ready and I am too easily distracted (imagine that, Mom).
*I actually have courage to talk to guys I am interested in.
*I way over-analyze everything: friends, guys, my standing at the Missourian, Alpha Chi situations, my faith, other people's faiths, even songs and movies.
*There are some friends whom I can be away from for a long time, but when we get back together, it's as if no time had passed at all. I like that.

the packing update
So I tried a practice round of packing for London tonight. It's a workout, let me tell you! Trying to cram as many clothes and everything else I need for a semester into two suitcases and a carry-on, I was nearly sweating. But I think I can do it. I didn't even have to use the expanding options on my two suitcases. I had to take it all out, though, because I need some of the stuff between now and Wednesday. The trick will be trying to repeat it next week.

lucky girl
I think Ally's excited that I'm leaving Jack, my Mac at home, all hooked up. She's already created a playlist of her own on my iTunes and had me rearrange the room so my bed faces the screen and she can relax and watch DVDs. I'll have her converted to a Macintosh user, just you wait!

be a brit
My British phrasebook says, "In Britain, when people give an opinion, they won't allow you to just be quiet and stay out of trouble -- you have to agree. Of course, you can also flatly disagree, which makes you feel like you're not cooperating. What starts out as a plain statement always surprises you by turning into an interrogative in the end, at which point you're expected to participate -- 'Sarah will never change will she?'. Even more disconcerting is that British habit of asking you to corroborate things you couldn't possible know. 'I finally had a date with Sally last night, and I spilled a drink all over her, didn't I?'. How should you know, you weren't there. Sometimes it's a snappish retort to put the other person on the wrong foot -- 'John, you're here, we've been waiting for over an hour." The reply -- 'Well, I was stuck in traffic, wasn't I?'. Once you learn the game, it ceases to be intimiating. Just keep smiling, nodding, and looking non-committal."