Sunday, August 21, 2005

my deepest apologies

i am sorry because there are more people than i expected to read this thing. and i've let you down. so i've resolved to fill you in. not like there's any more time now, but i'm going to go for it. just a sec...

Sunday, July 31, 2005

the beginning of week 5

i've spent much of the past week in a worry-state, though it's hard to stay that way for long. i made mistakes on my scholarship application in april, and they were brought to my attention this month. much of the mistakes happened because of forgetfulness & miscommunication, so i don't know if the committee that looks at appeals will still choose to fund me, but i guess it was worth a try. my parents and my multicultural services advisor were a big help as i finished up all the neccessary items to complete the application in full--but it took a lot of time. london time.

english football is the winner


so throughout all of this, i am actually going to school. the hardest thing has been to keep current on my journal--they want glue-ins and descriptive responses to all our cultural experiences. i'm quite behind. the conceptual art class is fun & interesting but when you can't come up with a concept, it's a bit hard. things should be okay, i guess, but i'm already getting an anxious feeling that the end is near & i don't want to do it all at the last minute. the issue is that i love people. i love relationships & meeting & talking & being with people, and i believe people are more valuable than art & so if ever i am having a great conversation or interaction with someone or many people, i prioritize that over any reading i have to do for art history. this may be good in the long run, but it's making me anxious when i think about deadlines.

and then of course there's soccer. last night i could have gotten a lot done on my journal, maybe while watching bednobs and broomsticks with the others. but no, i proposed that we go play soccer in the mud, as it had just rained. i had several supporters & soccer revealed itself as my number one priority. it was just as good as i'd hoped. and it was better than my idea to go buy the £9 ($18) DVD of the old Willy Wonka.

so my priorities in a nutshell: 1. soccer 2. people 3. homework 4. food 5. london stuff. i hope you're all thinking the harry potter quote when ron says, "she needs to sort her priorities!"

it was just like mission impossible

i was looking forward to the visual-ness of prague. everytime i told someone i was going there before coming, there was a big gasp in response to prague. the czech republic had a bad first impression on us at the beginning--we had to sit in our hot double-decker coach for 2+ hours at the border while they checked all our passports & some kind of paperwork for the bus. i got to sit in the front of the top level which was cool for the view, but for some reason the heat was on for much of our sleepy-travel & i think the vents for the entire coach were right in front of me.

but the landscape was amazing. there was certainly still a busy city-feel, but the architecture was quite different from most in berlin. the red-orange roofing was signature from the view of a castle tower, but as you roamed through the cobblestone streets, each old building had its own cool paint. we went to museums here as well, but not as many. most of my free time was spent on or around the charles bridge. it's a very old, famous, picturesque bridge for pedestrians with endless vendors along the whole thing. i liked it best our first night--we went in the later evening and it was kind of raining so there weren't very many people, but we got to just enjoy the view & the presence... this was the bridge that was on mission impossible--the guy falls off after he pretends to be shot. so we had fun with some mission impossible pictures. one of the best parts was the mini hike we took up a green hill that gave us a beautiful view of the city & a quiet place to just sit/lay after a good dinner. i want to go back to prague to just be there.

i enjoyed much more of the food in prague (or 'praha' as they call it), but i didn't really give berlin a chance other than the bratwurst--which is better when my mom makes it. i went crazy with the gelato. i'm not even the biggest ice cream fan, but i devoured 9 big scoopes of gelato during my 3 days of praha. the blood orange flavor was hands-down my favorite, but i loved the super-tart lemon flavor & the combination of banana and chocolate. the chocolate was like brownie-batter--such creamy goodness! i ate dinner twice in the same spot because i liked it so much: big pizzas and my first try of gnocchi, which i loved. i ate lunch at the same place twice because i liked it so much. it was a crazy pub with a restaurant setting downstairs and interesting cartoons painted everywhere, (when i say interesting, i mean they would have been inappropriate had we been able to read czech.) but there were cheap soups--(french onion was my favorite), and lots of dishes with bohemian dumplings. i got the fruit dumplings which had apricots baked inside & cocoa, sugar & sour cream on the side. i loved them.

as we were walking through prague, one girl in our group peeked in the windows of a hotel & briefly saw a television program flashing london scenes & the words 'london alert'. we stopped at an internet cafe that evening & learned that there had been 3 more tube bombs & 1 bus bomb. again! it was even more humbling this time! we were there with kaleb, joe's 15-year-old son, who said "how weird that both times london has been bombed and both times, our whole group has been out of london." we gave him a good tease and a smile saying, "or it could be Heavenly Father--maybe some people think it's weird..." i heard the news when we got back that all terrorists still involved were found & caught.

i was in berlin, but the wall wasn't

i really didn't know what is was in for at berlin, but i got more than i expected. there was so much to do! we all got a 'berlin museum card' that allowed us into a long list of museums with only paying one price. we only saw a fraction of what was offered.

they don't give you grocery bags unless you pay extra. they drive on the right (and correct) side of the road. they have the coolest new pedestrian signs. they have quite an intimidating language, and their countenance matches right along. they have the most incredible architecture everywhere, which was probably my favorite part. i guess when a country pretty much starts over in a way in the 80's, they're going to start over with a bang. (i don't mean that literally). and their jewish museum & memorial is the reason i want to go back. the memorial was just completed two months ago. look it up if you can, it's called 'monument to the murdered jews of europe' in berlin. i loved it. it's a huge block of valuable land down-town that is covered with 2,711 big cement blocks. they're all lined up & the dimensions are similar to a coffin, but they range in height. it's almost a creepy place, but solomn & peaceful at the same time. i got the chance to go see it again at night before we left. the jewish museum was my other favorite, and i'm going back because i was there for 2 hours & i probably only saw about half of it, and i didn't even see the coolest parts. everything was incredibly well done. the architecture from the outside & inside was all based on a 'shattered star of david' and then the artifacts and information and photos were all presented in the best of ways. there were installations that represented the feelings & sentiments--those were what i didn't get to.

we slept three nights in the hotel pension cortina. i was smiling for about 10 minutes straight as i toured each different room--it was all so eclectic. there was a different wallpaper everywhere, different carpet everywhere, there was lots of art on every wall which ranged from cross-stitches of crying clowns to magazine photos of bison. the light fixtures were my favorite--many of them being big chinese lanterns. it was all decorated with things seemingly from d.i. & seemingly without any thought to what else was being used, but somehow it made everything more fun. the breakfast was just as eclectic. the nice roly-poly german manager layed out little meats & several breads & cheeses & cereal and a german dish (i forgot the name), that was almost like yogurt with fruit in it, but i think it was something other than yogurt. i roomed with jane after jenny was pulled out of our two-person room to sleep with her family because they needed one more bed. it was not planned, but it was great. we got to know each other a bit better & we were with each other more daily because there was only one set of keys. hannah walked in once and said "woah, you guys sleep in the same bed?" (there was one double bed in our 'honeymoon suite') jane said with a smile, "yes but we're best friends now so it's okay." the best part about our pairing was that we went to the grocery store together & split little jars of peanut butter, jelly & then we each bought a few other things and that food lasted me the week of lunches. i felt very money-effecient.

and i don't know how i almost forgot about the zoo. berlin is known for its zoo & there was some rumor going around the group that it was the second-best in the world. i can easily attest that it was the best entertainment i had the whole trip. the zoo as a whole was fabulous because of the variety of animals. pygmy hippos & hyenas & anteaters & flamingos & several of which i've forgotten the name! i especially loved the fact that the zoo put glass in such a way that you could see underwater very well for animals like penguins, seals and hippos. i loved seeing the fast swimming of the penguins, and the graceful prancing vs. playful fighting at the hippopotamus tank. but the entertainment award goes to the orang-utan. typing the story will not do it justice, so you will have to remember to ask me to tell you about it when i return, but for now--just know that it had to do with a very bored grandma orang-utan doing anything to entertain herself & consequentially making me laugh the hardest i have in months. tears--laughing to the point of many tears.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

someone said time flies

it's already been a week since oxford--weird.

did i ever mention? we were given some very well-done books written by someone specifically for BYU study abroad in london. it is a series of walks for us to go on which is good to get us familiar with the many different areas of the city. for the london walk class, we're rrequired to go on 6 and write paragraphs about each one. this past week has been full of them because i want to get them out of the way before our berlin & prague trip, to leave team for want-to's. it has also been good to be able to see everything. i really enjoyed the westminster walk. there's just so much to see, of course: big ben, westminster abbey, city hall & the shops along the river thames. people-watching is always a main idea as well. one of my favorite things about it has been going with different people & getting to know so many. there are certainly people here that i know best & get along with best, but i want to be friends with everyone... one time a friend described provo high as a place with cliques--but so flexible that there was much overlapping. the spring term kids supposedly had exclusive cliques & i have hoped that doesn't happen as much this term.

i mentioned that i took a walk with anna last saturday. i left out a memorable story about an unwanted veggie burger. you see, every weekday we are fed breakfast & dinner. on saturday we get breakfast & on sunday we only get dinner. usually leftovers are abundant for the missing meals, but saturday they're pretty much gone by saturday dinner. so on our way home around 5 or 6, we stopped at a place with an advertised veggie burger. (anna is vegetarian). i had food at home & didn't want to spend money until i saw that they had hot pitas for just 20 pence. i ordered first after we waited a while for a man wearing a turban to emerge from the back of the run-down place. "i'd just like one large pita." the man surprised me when he quickly said "no!" and then kept shaking his head. i was so confused & almost accepted his answer to avoid confrontation, but in an effort to make my padres proud, i asked "then why is it on your menu?" even though i expected him to be extra-friendly because of the extreme islam events that past week, he was just mean & explained to me with a rude, choppy accent "no! only if buy kebab or burger or someting." so i ordered a veggie burger--for anna. the tention was down but then he anna ordered without realizing my reasoning (who knew? she can't read my mind). after she ordered her own veggie burger, i tried to explain. after a few awkward moments i asked the man to cancel our 2nd veggie burger. as less of a surprise, he said "no! too late! i already take out!" so we just waited. he asked if i wanted the burger on the pita. but i assured him i just wanted it plain. he acted more frustrated & annoyed before putting the lone veggie burger in the take-away box & asked if we wanted lettuce, etc. on top. we really wanted buns with our burger but didn't want to cause any more trouble. he finally handed it all to us, but i still didn't have that pita. it was the one thing i wanted & i just had to ask. "i thought you want it plain." "yes, i wanted the pita plain." i got one final disgusted look & noise before he gave it to me. i walked out quite frustrated. despite all that, anna & i took it home & put our plain veggie burgers on good toast, & enjoyed my dinner. i used the pita with my lunch meat and avocado for lunch the next day. mmm.

julie magleby is my art history professor's wife. she and her family are full-on harry potter fans. they've been talking about it since i got here. she researched all the parties & let us know of one that was to have entertainment & special visits by dumbledore & hagrid. a group of us all dressed up nice & creepy-like for the festivities. it was quite an adventure to walk down the streets of london late friday night & ride the tube as several drunk londoners had a good chuckle. the best part is we were laughing harder than they were. just after midnight, julie began reading to all who wanted to hear. i listened to the first chapter with julie's animated voice, and then had to go to bed. apparently they read until 3am, & they've been reading all day today & are just recently done & discussing the ending. i hear it's really good & i just need to get my hands on book 4 & 5. my sister josie had a good time with harry potter back in provo by playing their own versioin of quidditch. i think i want to organize a quidditch game for our program.

one of the first places i heard about after getting here was the crazy camden town market. this place is towards the outskirts of london, which can get pretty wild. picture street markets full of extreme everything. pink mohawks, strappy black 'clothing', striped socks, ultimate body piercings, radical boots, smoking of every kind, and our personal favorite--"fresh magic mushrooms" signs at every other shop. what a contrast to life in provo. the market had the best selection of skirts that i've ever seen. but i just couldn't put £15 ($30) on any single item. i think i'll wait to see what purchasing i can do after berlin & prague. the best part was our dinner! up & over the bridge was a strip of exotic & international food stands. at 5:30, everything was priced at £4, but when we went back at 6, they were selling it off for £2. i got a hefty helping of indian rice, spinach & potato curry & chicken curry. wow! i was stuffed. i want to go there every saturday for dinner because there was such a variety to choose from: chinese, japanese, moroccan, indian, thai & even mexican (rare here)! i loved the people i was with, too.

two girls from last term reccommended that we take a walk up primrose hill--without looking behind us until we were at the top. we did as we were told & found an incredible, indescribable view of the entire london horizon from the top of this hill near regents park (one of the walks). there were four of us that just got to sit on a bench at the top--relaxing after hours of walking, just before sunset. we shared the bench with a nice old british man who talked to us all about what-was-what on the horizon. he told us about good food places near-by & helped us with the best route back to our home at notting hill. he had ridden his bike in from the coast to read harry potter at his favorite spot in london. we took his advice & caught the 31 bus, sitting on the top deck for a good view of the drive home (not possible on the underground). the primrose experience is now ranked among my favorites.

at 3am on monday morning, our entire program leaves for berlin. we'll be there for 3 days before we go to prague. we're scheduled to come home on saturday afternoon. i'm not sure what to expect--just more overwhelming feelings, which tends to by typical. it might be a challenge to be around the foreign languages, but i don't think it can be a bad experience. i'm looking forward to it.

Monday, July 11, 2005

the overnight experience was probably more significant than the actual city. it was fun to be with the group & get to know people better. i finished reading my book while on the bus. (of mice & men--what an ending!) the hostel was a lot nicer than i expected. it was really clean & i loved the shower that night (maybe just because it was nice relaxation after bombings were on my mind...), and the breakfast was nice the next morning. the look of oxford is kind of what i expected london to look like, actually. it was nice. the weird thing was that i wasn't hungary that whole day. maybe i had some kind of sickness, but if so, it passed and i was hungry the next day. it was nice because i didn't have to spend money that night. i did go with people that night to see the town & that was fun. we ate at a pub called que pasa & it was a fun outing. i ate & talked with meredith & jane--both girls that i had art classes with last year & i love them both.

throughout the trip we saw several incredible palaces and gardens and homes. there was one place with roaming peacocks. the gardener said that he only opened his feathers during mating season in the spring, but he opened them for us! it was fun to be close to them. these places had some flowers that i'd never seen before--and they were huge! they kept going & going. it was cool to walk around these areas with mark magleby, the art history teacher here. he knows so much & everything meant more when he talked about it.

like i said, joe has been extremely nice to me from the beginning. i knew jenny in high school & have only become better & better friends with her since then. her brothers are amazingly nice, grown-up & outgoing. the little kids are a riot, as well. they aren't afraid of anything. i was with them a lot on friday. joe asked me to 'please eat lunch with them.' and i was very flattered. we had really good breads & cheeses. i don't even like cheese; or so i thought. there were really good juices too. i had good times with ethan & hannah (6 & 5), and attempted to play hackey sack with the boys (caleb-15 & zach-18). throughout this entire trip, i've had really good conversations with joe--deep issues & i like it. he took a pin hole camera with him on the rip & he took a few of me. he developed them when we got back, and they make my face look kind of squished... all in all, i want to go to new zealand with them more & more.

i'm in joe's 'special projects' class which consists of conceptual art assignments. i've almost finished one project, which will end in an installation exhibit with origami boxes made by all of us (we each had to make 10). the project is called 'secrets' and we have to put something secret in the boxes, seal it up & after all is said & done, we'll have a big bonfire with all the boxes... i was able to use fun paper that i brought from home. then on saturday, when we couldn't use the tube, i walked to 3 art stores around our place & placed little paper pads near them in hopes that people will test there pens on it. that was to fulfill an 'alternative drawing' project, where we have to control the drawing without actually/physically doing it ourselves.

i had a good talk with anna while walking around & down portobello road to post those paper pads. we almost bought some skirts for 50pence, but they didn't fit... they were lavender pleather. i think jane and i have had similarities this whole time but we hadn't really talked, & we finally got that chance today walking home from church. she's the oldest of 6, she's a soccer player, she's pre-graphic design. i don't know. i haven't ever known her well but i've always wanted to. ever-increasing bonds with the ostraffs, of course. and i had a good talk with emily--another one i knew from art classes. we found some common ground & she was willing to talk with me about a hard time she had this past year. i really like her & hope i can be of some help. i'm actually planning to go to paris with her during the 3-day travel weekend in august. it was good for us to talk, i think... that's her in the picture.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

attack on london

in short: i was with the group on a private bus just outside of london on our way to oxford when the london bombings began. we all found out about them at lunchtime after our first touring stop. the bus driver had been listening to the radio. it was hard to believe! i just sat humbled by the works of Heavenly Father: the group trip was even pushed back a day--we wouldn't have been able to come home with all the mess that day. this picture is what kept showing on the BBC news that night in the game room of the hostel. most of us just were glued to the television for hours--having it hit so close to home--literally.

we're all safe though, at study abroad. the office in provo kind of governed our next moves. we were able to come home on friday, as scheduled. crazy rumors began bouncing about the program needing to be terminated--which is kind of drastic. the only thing was that we had to stay 'close to the centre' and 'not alone' without using buses or the subway. there was kind of a 'trapped' feeling that saturday, but it was a good chance to stay up on homework. plus we were able to go out and about, which i'll write about later. the other regulation was that we all had to go to the hyde park ward across the park from our place. i was sad about that because i feel like i only have so many weeks with my spanish/portuguese branch. oh well, the hyde park chapel (pretty down-town) was really cool, architectually. there were square motifs all over the doors, benches, carpet, pulpit, etc. my family would have loved that. it's been good & the feeling around london is one of pride--the good kind. this was a scary thing, but london will probably be one of the safest cities in the world for a while. life will go on; i'll still ride the tube.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

blah, blah, blog

ready for some blah?

no. haven't had a chance. i'm really excited for it, though. i have been to the legendary mall, whitely's. i really want to blame my no-time-ness as a result of kitchen crew. it's an hour before & after dinner & then time in the mornings. i'm most looking forward to H&M--but i'm open for suggestions.

spanish/portuguese branch was great. so different from the utah church scene. but it was something else that proves that the gospel is different from church. it's also different from the hawaii church scene & indian reservation church scene that i experienced this past year. we'll probably work with the young women (we being michelle & i; the two that were assigned to that branch). it was a lot different from the spanish branch i attended last summer. everyone either speaks spanish, portuguese or english--whatever they're comfortable with, and then they can understand what everyone else speaks, so we all get along fine. the first counselor spoke to us forever about where we can help in the branch & how we need to always speak spanish even though everyone would understand our english. i like him. his daughter claudia was very nice to us too--she had an english accent with her latin look. how fun. the only bad part is that church is from 2-5pm--so i had to call & tell them i'd be late for kitchen crew. i was going to use the payphone just outside the chapel, but the only young man of the branch was out there about to leave on his scooter & he called to me, "hermana!" and let me borrow his cell phone. i'm now friends with "gustavo".

one of my 11 roommates opened her mission call yesterday--tokyo, japan. she'll have 10 days to prepare when she gets home after this. good luck, andrea dance. (i'm so excited for my call).

the tate modern has been my favorite (or as they'd spell it here, favourite) museum so far. we crossed the millenial bridge, just built in 2000; a pedestrian bridge that crosses the river thames. we saw two shows--'open systems,' a contemporary exhibit. that one was so interesting; so thought-provoking; so controversial. all the 60's & 70's experimental & conceptual stuff. a lot of kids in the group said they hated it. there was an andy warhol peice--how fun to see the original! there was a lot of stuff that was a lot of deep thought, but there was also a lot of stuff that just came off as silly. art is huge. i was really struck by the frida kahlo exhibit, though. frida! i have seen the prints for so long & then all of the sudden i was in front of all of the originals! it was so overwhelming. i loved it & loved learning all about her life & the concepts behind her art. i loved it visually, & it there was so much behind each good-looking image. i could go on about that one. i'm glad i got to see it.

i was invited last-minute to go with 3 others to see rilo kiley play at the 'koko'- an amazing venue in camden town (or 'punk town', as it's called on the streets--i mean in the centre). i liked what i'd heard of them & it was a cheap price, so i took them up on the offer. it was fun to see camden town & all, but as we stood in line & they talked about hating the contemporary art exhibit we'd seen that day, i was regretting my choice. but that all changed when the bands began to play. the opening band was excellent, playing with a wide variety of instruments. as rilo kiley set up, these two girls pushed up next to us & we became friends. it was a 15-year-old that was super-into music, and her friend from australia. they were fun to talk to, and we ran into one of them again on the tube going home. rilo kiley put on a great show--they are excellent performers! they had quite the array of instruments playing with them, too. i enjoyed it, except the part when we left: the floor was covered in beer cans. what a difference from salt lake's bricks... or, 'in the venue'?

the fourth of july is not the same in the country we are celebrating independence from. i had a little american flag to wave, but it didn't quench my thirst for independence day festivities. monday was the first day of class--my class being the 'special projects' with joe ostraff--a bunch of conceptual art. i am really excited for the projects & i'll have to write about them as they are completed. class lasted until 12, i ate lunch & only had time for errands before having to be back for kitchen crew. i bought stamps at the post office; not something i could have done in the states. i got more acquainted with the city & that's good. but the best part of the day was our joint family home evening. the whole group walked to the park to play kick ball & ultimate frisbee. teams were chosen at random, but our team #1 was pure all-star. we won both games of kick-ball & i must brag to tell you that i kicked a home run for the winning point on one of those games. they bought american things for treats: candy bars, ice cream & chips--but they were all european versions. we sang the star spangled banner under our breath, does that count? of course, my favorite of all was playing soccer after that. about 20ish people stayed after for the match. the teams were random again, but i had such a good time. i always do. i have a few bruises & i got the bloodiest broken nail you'd ever see, but it was all well-worth it. no goalies & no out of bounds with guys and girls---that's always made for the best play. i still had some good runs, kicks & jumps in me!

my roommate from last fall has been with a german-intensive study abroad program in austria. she was in london after attending a language and law conference & she found me in the park after my soccer game! it was great to talk to her & catch up on both sides. she's an amazing person & a great example. her grandfather happens to be elder dallin h. oaks, & i've always tried to stay off that subject since she probably gets the same kind of questions from so many people. but she brought him up because he & his wife were also in london & she was sure that she could arrange a lunch date with him the next day. i didn't get my hopes up, but i did come close to lunch with an apostle. {she can only call him through the church office building in salt lake, and it was the fourth of july so they were closed, and it would have been to late to call him the day-of}. maybe some day...

the V&A museum was the group trip for today. HUGE! everything was overwhelming. i spent nearly 5 hours looking at just 4 exhibits, and i felt rushed. i'll defenitley be going back because there were many shows i didn't see. the exhibits: british art & style: 1500-1900, cast courts (plaster casts of many famous works, including michelangelo's the david), raphael cartoons (paintings for tapestries), and a fashion exhibit. all were very interesting. megan k would have loved that show on fashion. it was kind of a history of fashion with suits for men & women & then all kinds of dresses through the ages. then the wardrobe of queen maude of norway was also shown. fabulous, overwhelming stuff. i walked home by myself on the route of the designated 'walk' from our walk book. i saw a home that charles dickens once lived in & enjoyed the time on my own. i got home to find a mess of yogurt on some of my stuff from the cup i'd packed for a lunch. how oliviating.

tomorrow morning we go as an entire group for an overnight trip to oxford. i'm excited for it. there's more that i haven't written, but i've just been here too long. until next time, i'm out!

Sunday, July 03, 2005


to cover the past few days--in a much less detailed way than my first day--i'll just make a list:

we went as a group to see this musical. it was amazing what they did with the car! (i.e. attaching it to a huge mechanical arm that reached out holding the car above the audience. i really enjoyed the theater. (theatre?)

i've been assigned to the spanish/portuguese branch in one of the two stakes that take us students. i'm scared but very excited. i guess they just have enough members to have a spanish hymn, then portuguese hymn & spanish talk then portuguese talk... i haven't been yet so i'm unsure.

touring 'hampton court palace' reminded me of our playmobil castle toy. they have it all set up like the olden days. some rooms like the 1500s, some like the 1600s, etc. it's incredible to really picture people walking/talking/living in the very same place over 400 years ago. my favorite part were the tudor kitchens. they have fires going in the fire place & the rooms set up with fake food. (including where they hang, skin & butcher the animals) there was also an amazingly immaculate garden in back with a maze, too. my siblings would have loved that.

my first eating out experience was a flop. it was lunch after the palace; i didn't want to spend much or eat much; we wanted fish and chips, but we couldn't find any. so we settled on a very well-kept little deli. i had a prawn & avocado bagel. the only problem is that i think that only prawn & avocado on the bagel. it was very bland. i'm sure i'll have better experiences in this area.

joe ostraff (art professor) has been really very nice to me. it's good to feel loved... he wants me to go with him to new zealand next year (june-november). he's taking 4-6 students to help him with a film project. i'm super-flattered by the invitation, of course. i just wonder if i'd really want to delay a mission for it, at the risk of not going on a mission. i hate the decisions between 2 good things...

i've been on kitchen crew this first week. it entails going early to & staying after each meal to prepare salads, set tables, and wash dishes with big industrial equipment. i don't know why, but i enjoy it. i don't enjoy getting in trouble though, each time i'm late. i don't have an alaa clock, and woke up late once. and getting back from an outing took longer than i anticipated.

i went to wimbledon. i've never followed tennis, but it was fun to see how big of a deal it was. not that i didn't know already, but it was exciting just to be at the gates & see all the hustle-bustle.

burrough food market was amazing. i could have walked around it all day just taking in all the smells. it's a gourmet food market; everything's organic, fresh & fancy. it's huge & many vendors were giving out free samples. my dad would have loved the fresh fish stand that would shell your scallops and then grill them for you right there. my mom would have loved the 'cranberry' stand. chocolate-dipped nuts & dried strawberries, raspberries & our favorite--'sharp' apricots. yum! there were lots of fresh fruit places, too. i got a large peach & nectarine for a pound... 3 of us split a brownie at a bakery. maybe ingredients really do make a difference, because it was one of the best things i've ever eaten & it was 'just' a brownie...

yogurt here is not as creamy, but much more delicious with fancy flavors like rhubarb, grapefruit & cranberry. the cheese is also to die for. i usually don't like cheese but it's a treat here.

i want to be good friends with the little kids of our professors. emma, hannah & ethan are the youngest. they all let me help them make a card for emma's older sister elizabeth, whose birthday is today.

LIVE 8 was the biggest thing yesterday. if it doesn't sound familiar, go read about it at the london concert was one of 9 happening all over the world, but it was happening at hyde park, just 3 blocks or so from our flat. one girl here won a pair of tickets to attend. i walked over in the evening to the edge that was gated off. i couldn't see any of the stage or screen, though it would have been possible. it was very exciting to hear madonna's set & try to fathom that she, paul mccartney & so many others were gathered less than a mile from me. crazy, is all i can say. but i think it's an incredible idea--the purpose of it all. it seems like it could really be productive.

my feelings about being here have been up & down. i'm sure they'll get better. one issue that i didn't expect is a divide in the group. that the 10-or-so people that were here last term have seen much of what our group goes out to do. so naturally, it creates a divide because we're not really together. i think it will probably subside after the first month or so, but for now it's hard because the people i knew best/enjoy are part of that 10. they haven't been mean or anything, they just aren't doing the same things we are, really. another frustration is knowing that there's so much to do, but i don't quite know how to do it all yet.

there's more of course, but i don't want to brag too much.