July 22, 2008

A Part of Me: London

There are some experiences in your life that completely change you and make you a better person. These experiences don't come incredibly often. I love sharing my experiences and letting people get to know me better....so if you want to know me, you need to know that I once lived in London, England for a semester!


This is such a huge part of who I am, and that's why I'm sharing. There's no huge significance to this post, other than the fact that it changed my life personally. But I thought some people might like to see a little of what I did and what it was like. I have so many pictures, and I've only chosen a few!

I went to London in the Spring semester of 2006. There was around 20 of us, and only 3 were guys. This made for an interesting semester, but it ended up being great. For the first and third months, we lived in a bed and breakfast called St. Margaret's, which was owned and operated by the Marazzi family. It has been torn down, sadly, since I was there, but the Marazzi's own another hotel, the Celtic. I hope to visit it when I go again!
In the second month, we lived with homestay families. Brooke and I lived with a wonderful, wonderful family: Tom, Teresa, and Jake. It was so much fun, and we laughed so much when we were with them. They lived in north London, about 45 minutes outside the main part of the city, so we would commute every morning for class on the Tube, the underground subway-like system. Thankfully, we were almost the furthest out of town, so we got seats every morning. But as we got closer and closer in to the city, it was so crammed and crowded. I actually really enjoyed commuting. I got to listen to music, sometimes read, occasionally do last-minute assignments.

We had classes at King's College in London, in their classrooms. Our classes were Theatre, London History and Culture, History of Science, Art History, and English Literature. History of Science was the only class taught by an American professor---Dr. Parks, who was our chaperone. Let's just say he was pushing 75 or 80 and wasn't the most interesting or fun teacher/chaperone, but he was endearing in his own way!

Dr. Donald Rumbelow and his lifelong girlfriend Molly were our teachers for London History and Culture. Dr. Rumbelow is also the world's expert on Jack the Ripper, so we got a very interesting tour when that lesson came about. He took us to every site imaginable in London, and told us things that were truly fascinating. I loved it, even though it was a walking class, and it became exhausting after awhile!
Art History was one of those classes that you wanted desperately to enjoy, but it was always after lunch, and Susan, our professor, dimmed the lights and used slides for an hour and a half. It was torture to stay awake! But a lot of times we got to go to the museums after class and see what we had just studied in person. That was always so wonderful. And she was the epitome of a classy, elegant, British woman. She was just impeccable.

Theatre was with Ian. He is one of the leading London theatre critics, and we loved his class. He was hilarious and irreverent, but we just loved it. We went to musicals only occasionally. Usually he would take us to plays that were just opening, or he suspected would be big hits....and he was always right! I was able to witness to Ian, because I chose to write about spiritual correlations to the musical Les Miserables for my term paper. It was very evangelical, and he wrote on my paper: "A++! You made me go and open my Bible. I believe you can shout Psalm 100 at full volume." I hope I planted a seed :o)

My favorite class was English Literature with Sarah. I loved this class the most because she was the most passionate teacher I had ever seen concerning literature and reading. I just responded to her and loved learning under her. It was challenging, to be sure, but very rewarding.
We took our Spring Break trip to Wales and Scotland. It was beautiful!! We also took day trips to Cambridge, Stonehenge, Bath (so amazing!) and other places. Brooke and I went by ourselves one day to Oxford and found ourselves in the middle of an extreme animal-rights rally/protest. Only us.
There's so much that I could say about that semester, and maybe I'll write more about it periodically. I think this post is more for myself than anyone else. London was one of those experiences that no one thinks to ask me about, but it is such a huge part of who I am. One of my biggest goals is to take Kurt and my parents. They need to see one of the best places in the entire world!! Your heart probably won't feel like it's about to burst when you see these pictures (like mine does) but just allow me to reminisce :o)




Paul, our spring break bus driver. Oscar, St. Margaret's reception desk.




Jake :o)


Brighton Pier with Patrick. Brighton Pier with the girls.




Teresa's rock star theme 40th b-day! White cliffs of Dover with Patrick and Nate.





Hampton Court Palace, where Henry 8th and Anne Boleyn lived for a time. The girls at Hampton Court.

Jake and I on the Tube to Camden. Cambridge!


Gwen Stefani night at Homestay. Punting the river at Cambridge.




Rock star birthday :o) Brooke and I with the Royal (wax) Family.



My crush in wax. With Brooke in Oxford.



The banquet hall at Oxford---the Harry Potter movie was modeled after this room! Teresa and I on Gwen Stefani night.



At a pub (during the day) at Greenwich. Dr. Rumbelow and I on the Prime Meridian.


Me and my friends Diana and William. The whole group :o)


Me at Stonehenge. Me with Simon, our guide at Shakespeare's Globe
Theatre.


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8 comments:

Kristal said...

One of my favorite things when I lived in Germany was my commute on the train. I love that 30 minutes of relaxation before work. I would kill to have that option here in the States! And the Jack the Ripper tour sounds fascinating!

I can completely relate to your feelings about London. Germany absolutely changed me, and I want nothing more than to take Chad there and show him the places I lived and walked for a year.

Aliya said...

Ashley,

That trip sounds like so much fun. Maybe when I retire and the kids are on there own my hubby and I can go. My one piece of advice before sweer bee bee gets here is do all the traveling you can because sometimes it is hard to travel with a baby. Last night we were supposed to go to PF Changs for dinber for my birthday, easy right? Wrong my little man was so tired he was in bed by 6:45 so we will go this weekend when we can accomodate him better. Anyhow hope ya'll have a blast tonight with your daddy for his birthday dinner. Hope your feeling well. I need a good interior designer, know where I can find one?

The Clark Family said...

You make me feel so dull...

I went to a border town in Mexico once. haha...

Kearsmom said...

Great pictures...great memories. Thanks for sharing them!

Ro said...

Incredible! Great times...wonderful memories that will carry you through some of the less thrilling times (--then there will be more that take your breathe away when least expected)

Rebecca said...

Ashley,
I'm so glad you did this post! I think I had seen most of the pictures on Facebook, but I'm glad to hear some of the stories behind the pictures. Studying abroad is something that I really wanted to do. I've heard SO many people say that it's something you should do when you're still in school and have the time. Shawn went on the London/Paris spring break trip the same time you were in London.
It's a lot cheaper to go to Europe on school trips. But I really didn't want to get a whole semester behind. I know that some people (like Emily) don't have any problems doubling up, but I knew I couldn't do it. I'm glad I didn't do it because then I would have ended seeing a certain student everyday in class. Her voice alone would drive me crazy! I think you know who I'm talking about;) I just wish I could have done it all: gone to London or Spain AND not end up being a year behind. But of course, I'm an interior design major and that's impossible! I'm glad you got to have this amazing opportunity and I can live vicariously through you :)

Tiffany said...

I loved reading this post! I think you should do one on all the places you'd recomend if someone was planning to vacation there. (you know- kinda how you did with Disney World.) I loved Europe too. I had the opportunity to spend the summer of 96' there singing on tour with the U.S.Chorale,String and Wind Ensembal. I was asked to represent Mississippi in the chorale the summer after my freshman year in college. (When I look at it in comparison to you going in 06, in really makes me feel old.) I really loved Germany and France. And I had a great host family in Holland. I would so love to go back some day with Hugh. I'm sure you feel the same way about Kurt. I can see why people go there to "fall in love again." Culture and romance seem to be everywhere. I also love the pictures you shared here! Can't wait for more! ~Blessings lil' mama!

Mrs. Langhans said...

Hey girl! I have been thinking about you and wondering how you have been feeling!?! Is the morning sickness getting any better? Charlotte's bathing suit is from Gymboree. Watch out though, that store is totally addicting :)!

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