Richmond's Own (but unowned) Website

Sleep last night was interesting. I slept around 9, and the sun was still up. I woke up at 2am, and then again at 6am (the sun was already up – I heard that it had risen as early as 4 or 5 in the morning!), and then finally at 7, I woke up for the last time. We went and had breakfast in the cafeteria – I had a chocolate filled bread thing, which was pretty good actually! I also had some rice krispies (is there a generic name for that? Puffed rice ceral?), and an apple, which was pretty good as well! We came back from breakfast, and some people tried waking up Ahren, who apparently mumbled back something which no one heard during the door pounding. We had a while to wait, Alexis was showing us some break dancing moves, and we had some fun out on the little balcony, by climbing out the window.

We went to a Roehampton University introduction and orientation, finding out some more general information, as well as an introduction from the US-UK Fulbright Commission.  We also got our Roehamptom ducks, and sweatshirt and t-shirts! Got all my Roehampton gear now!

We had lunch a little while later, right across from our building. I had a lamb burger, I think they put some type of mayonnaise on it (tasted a little like tartar sauce too), with fries, and a small salad. (It seems like we’re eating a lot of burgers out here!) The lamb burger was pretty good though! We also received a copy of our bios in one of the packets, and started finding (and sharing) a bit more about each other – besides everything we already knew based off of facebook!

 We came back and got ready for our London orientation, in our 2 scavenger/photo/video hunt teams, Team Win, and Team Even Better (which was the best one of course!).  My group consisted of myself, Katie, Stephanie, Adam, Kelsey, and Brendan, and our Roehampton guides Emma and Mike.  The whole group took the bus down to the Barnes train station, to take an overground train into London. (I’m thinking that’s something they say here, instead of above ground). The ride was really smooth! Unlike a lot of American rail and commuter trains, we just glided (I don’t think glode is a word…I was about to type that – or glid? I don’t think so either) along into Waterloo station.
Waterloo Station
I really liked Waterloo station – there was a glass ceiling and it was huge!! Which seemed like a new extension of an older brick building – if I have time, maybe I’ll see if Wikipedia has a history of the station. But it was a very nice, very airport looking type place – shows how much prominence trains have here.  And Mike treated us to a much needed cup of (Caffe Nero – think Starbucks. Well they have those here too. Maybe more a Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf? They also have another chain called Costa Coffee, where we met at the airport yesterday)coffee.
London Eye - this pic does not do justice to the scale and enormity of it!
Our group headed out, and went to the London Eye (that’s the big wheel!) – Mike said when they built it, they built it in pieces, and floated it down the Thames, and then rose up it (like literally laid on its said, and was risen up!) 
Houses of Parliament! Big Ben! Super excited to go there, inside!
Soon we saw Westminster Palace (where Parliament is), and Big Ben!  We crossed the Thames, and got to see it up close – the architecture is amazing! I love the gothic style architecture, and the ornate detail. We also went over to Westminster Abbey, which absolutely gorgeous as well! We passed a statue of Lincoln outside of Parliament square (though I’ve never seen a statue of Churchill in DC – interesting, isn’t it), and found a phone booth, where we tried to (successfully or not) do a picture similar to some previous kids, whose picture is on the cover of our Fulbright Summer Programme packets!

We passed 10 Downing Street, where we took a picture with our ducks, and some policeman (or do they call them constables? Bobbies?) who were nice and chatted with us about our ducks – almost not seeing a car they had to open the gate for! Cool though! We passed the Household Calvary Museum, where we took a picture with a guard! We made our way to Trafalgar Sqaure – home of Nelson’s Column and the National Gallery – and the T Mobile Sing Along!

Trafalgar Square
We then walked up to Piccadilly Circus, which is near the West End, and has a lot of neon signs – think Times Square-esque.  We walked by Lecester Square (Harry Potter premiers me thinks), but most of it was closed off because of construction. But there were tons of restaurants and shops. We made a quick walk through Chinatown, which smelled like a usual Chinatown – though it was interesting to see Chinese signs mixed in the brick architecture. Speaking of architecture, I love the architecture, especially the mix – there are really old, hundred(s) year old buildings, juxtaposed next to new, modern buildings – giving a sense of the city’s age and history, as well as its moderness, and cultural change. 

We then made our way down to the tube, where as Laura told us earlier, stand on the right, walk on the left( or some people will get quite angry!)  It was deep and windy, like the New York system, yet it was much more brightly lit and cleaner. And seemed more orderly too, despite the throngs of people there.  It was fun – I’m starting to get the hang of it (and the use of my oyster card(think transit pass)!).  We came out near St. Paul’s Cathedral, and made a quick stop at Caffe Nero before heading over there. However, when we came out it started to rain! I suppose I blended in well with my black umbrella. We went to St. Paul’s Cathedral, then took the Millennium Bridge (didn’t it get destroyed at the start of the 6th Harry Potter movie?), over to Tate Modern, and were able to see Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre!

We walked along the Thames (in the rain!), past the National Theatre, and had dinner on the South Bank, and a restaurant called Giraffe, where we met up with the other group, and Roehampton staff. Dinner was quite delicious – I elected to go with a cranberry juice, but it’s interesting to note the cultural differences here in regards to alcohol. Drinking age is 18, but it seems that people drink more as a social thing, in the sense that they don’t drink to get super drunk, unlike in some places in America. I wonder if it’s the drinking age, or the culture and history we have with drinking, or some combination of those and other factors, but it’s one of the many differences between the two sides of the pond. We also got quizzed on some different usages of US and UK words! We headed back out afterwards (not in the rain, thankfully), and took a train back to Putney, the little town (or village?) near Roehampton. Kriss showed us a pub where we stayed for a bit (no, I didn’t drink anything tonight – perhaps next time, but I was really tired tonight!). I left with a group, and we got to take a double decker bus back! We got off over at the co-op, and had about a 10 minute walk back to campus – the weather at night was very nice tonight!

Today was an amazing experience, thrilling, and a bit overwhelming! We saw so much of London in just a few hours (and a plethora of tourists from all over the world!), I’d love to go back and take more time at a lot of places! There is so much going on here, and so much to see and learn!

Team Even Better + 1!

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