Sunday, January 10, 2010


The last two days of my life have been absolute insanity. It feels like I've already been here for a week, and (thankfully) the days feel like weeks. I got in to the country just fine. The Chicago airport wasn't the most fun I've ever had, but there was a silver lining: the toilets. Matt Baldwin told me about them before I left, told me to go check them out. So I did. Long story short, there is a ring of plastic around the toilet seat to keep things sanitary and there's this magical sensor on the wall with three little red lights on it and if you wave your hand in front of it the plastic on the seat rotates to the left until all of the plastic is new. Needless to say, I waved to the sensor for like forty seconds straight just to watch. SO cool.

Anyways, the flight was pretty chill. The guy across the aisle from me was french and really tough looking but couldn't figure out his little controller for teh TV things we had. He would keep tripping it so that it would snap back into its holder and he caught me laughing at him more than once. The dude next to me didn't say a word, so I spent my time watching The Office and The Simpsons episodes that were available. I can't really sleep on planes, so I played tetris for a few solid hours and then watched "Shorts" which is a kids movie that was pretty good. Getting into the country was almost a breeze. I told the customs agent that I was gonig to be working as a TA. Big mistake. She grilled me about it. I hadn't even thought about just not telling her, and it's not in actuality a big deal because I'm getting paid US dollars through a US institution. Eventually she let me through and actually gave me a special provisional visa that lasts longer than the other visas. So now I can come and go as I please for six months.

Once I was through customs I had a few choices to make as to how to get to the BYU Centre. I decided to jump into London head first and so I took the cheapest, longest, most involved way of commuting: The Tube. The Tube is an underground system (the oldest underground system) that works very well despite its age. Except for on Saturdays, when certain parts of certain lines are down for construction. PS this was a Saturday so, naturally, the two lines that could get me closest were both down. So after an extra half hour of lugging my suitcases up and down stairs in stations trying to find a way around the system, I decided to leg it. Up the station stairs and out into the freezing London air, suitcase and all. First thing I did was draw myself a map of major streets from the bus route, then stopped to buy a copy of the Times and ask the stand owner for directions. I swear on my life the man sounded JUST like Michael Kane (the second greatest actor ever). Roughly three miles later I was at the BYU Centre and head-over-heels in love with London, England.

London is...a phenomenal city full of fabulous women in fur boots that speak French and Italian. The architecture is out of this world (I'll post pics later), the diversity is incredible, and the accents are beautiful. For an idea on the diversity, get this. Today at church we were told that in the Hyde Park Stake there are roughly 1800 members, 800 of which come on a regular basis...and there are over 100 nationalities in this stake alone. Speaking of church, I've been assigned to work in the South Kensington Portuguese speaking branch. I skipped out third block to attend their sacrament meeting. Just from what I've collected we've definitely got Brazilians, Portuguese people, and a number of Africans (could be from any number of countries), and at least three people that speak Spanish (probably more). I'm relatively sure that I'm the only one assigned to the ward that speaks the language, so I may be doing some interpreting for my fellow lost students (not sure who's assigned with me yet), but I am gung ho for this ward already.

Back to London. The Centre is a gorgeous building, built back in the times of Brigham Young. It is made up of three flats (one for students, one for professors and families, one for the family that cares for the place) each made up of five floors. Of course they put us four guys on the top floor, basically in the attic. We were supposed to have six guys, but things didn't work out for two of them and so I get my own bunk bed. So my roommates are Cameron, who I had already met in the prep class and is way cool; Kellen, who is eighteen, a genius, and a know-it-all in a good way; and Jake, a texan who--although he roots for the cowboys--seems pretty legit. I've met a few of the 30+ girls, but names are going to take a while. After arriving at the centre I settled in, met with Dr. Macfarlane (our directing professor), and took a nap. When I woke up, everybody was gone. Like, the entire flat was deserted. I had no clue what time it was, but it was getting dark. I decided to go for a walk. I grabbed the little "London Walks" book that we were given as part of our class, read through the directions about our surroundings, and took off into the dark.

Remember how walking to the Centre was enough to have me hooked? Yeah, I'm addicted for sure now. Our neighborhood is pretty lively, and pretty rich. First thing I noticed was the cars: lambourghini, bentley, mercedes, BMW, lotus, etc. We even saw a Ford GT on the way to church (just the fact that the guy has it in London is a testament to his wealth). First thing I came across was a relatively large Greek Orthodox church that was built in the 1800s when the area was being settled. Rumor has it that the inside is covered in gold, so I'ma have to get into it soon. Walking the cross streets from Notting Hill Gate road, I walked by and entered a massive building called Whiteley's. Basically, it's a mall with all sorts of stores, a grocery store, and a movie theater. Turns out it was Hitler's favorite building in all of London and he had plans to use it as headquarters if he took London (which he didn't). So far it's my favorite building as well (that's right, Adolf Hitler and I have something in common). I left Whiteley's and stopped in some Italian shop, pointed to something that looked good because I didn't know what it was called, and finished my walk with some type of warm sandwich full of spinach that tasted like it had been made with love for sure.

When I got back to the center there was a group of people headed out to grab dinner and go see a play called The Woman in Black. I had no plans and was still hungry, so I put my stuff down and off we went. We ate at a place called Nando's, where I got some chicken in a spicy orange sauce and a soda. We were kinda rushed so we headed to the Tube and grabbed the first train out. The area of the theater we went to was magnificent. We walked by the National Opera House, which is stunning and made me want to see an Opera (that's a first). I also discovered Drury Lane (see the dark picture I put up) but could not for the life of me find the muffin man (but i'll be back). Eventually we made it to the Fortune Theatre and got seated. The Woman in Black is a two-actor horror play about a man that wants to tell his ghost story to the world. He writes it down and takes it to a man that teaches acting, and together they act it out. The teacher plays the man and the man plays everyone else. It was SO well done and really creepy in parts (but I never jumped. Cause I'm awesome). If I didn't have a million other things on my list of things to see, I'd go watch it again.

Anyways, time for dinner. Things are great, London is unbelievable, and time can keep crawling for all I care.


Lisa said...

YAY Calvin that sounds so fun! I'm glad you have a blog and I can keep up with your adventures and live vicariously through you. Have a stupendous time!

TexasRanger said...

Yay for Hitler!

Boo for no pictures!

And I kinda wanna see that play now. But I'm not in London, so the Woman in Black won't be happening for a while.

TexasRanger said...

Oh. And I'm sure you're loving the chicas. I know how much you like those boots tucked into the jeans.

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