The plan was to wake up sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 AM today and go down to the gym and shower before going to my first day of class; however, when my roommate woke me up at quarter to nine, I realized my body and mind had conflicting ideas as to how the morning would go. I rushed to get ready for the day and tried to pack my new bag with everything I could possibly need. I ran down the steps instead of taking the elevator when I realized it was 9:29 AM, but I did not account for the additional time it was going to take me to actually find the stairs. All things considered, I made it to the lobby at 9:30 AM, a mere thirty seconds before my professor walked in to take us over to FSU’s International facilities.
When we arrived at the facilities- literally two doors down from the hotel- we waited in a lobby too small for the twelve of us for our pictures to be taken for our access cards. Once we had all gotten our pictures taken we headed down the stairs into a small, crowded classroom that would be our classroom for the next four weeks. After doing a brief overview of the schedule and the syllabus, my professor jumped right in and we had our first lecture on how the orchestra came to be in London. I won’t bore you with the details of transition from live music being purely for the nobility to the aristocrats and wealthy merchants or the way Haydn, Bach, and Beethoven’s composing styles were reflective of the society, but I found it all both fascinating and overwhelming. The class ended around 11:30 AM and I then headed back to the hotel to try to collect myself.
I decided I would go and try out another café (totally out of character, I know) and this time I settled on one called The Attendant. The Attendant was a special place and I don’t want to give away too much because at the end of the week I’ll be posting a blog dedicated to the world of coffee shops and cafés, but it was an unique experience that lived up to expectations. I went to order my usual chai latte because I find chai fascinating the way it is made and tastes differently basically everywhere, but were disappointed to here that they had run out. Not knowing what else to order I asked the guy working the register and just ordered what he had said. I don’t know what it was because I couldn’t quite hear him because of the accent, but it was good and strong.
My roommate and I found an empty seat at one of the counters and began to work. I finished writing Underground London and then ended up procrastinating and searching for a coveted Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ticket instead of doing my required readings for class. Around 1:30/2:00 PM my roommate left with two of the other guys on the trip to wander around and “see everything.” I understand the desire to see all of the wonders of London, but I feel like a lot of that is just observing the people, embracing the culture, and essentially just do what they do. I have found that you can have the best tourist experience while doing your best to appear like a confident local, familiar with your surroundings. Once she left I felt more at peace and was able to slip back into a flow.
I finished about a quarter of my reading and once it hit 3:00 PM I decided it was long time to go out and explore a portion of the city. My destination of the day was Regent’s Park, about a half mile walk from The Attendant. The walk was beautiful and once I reached the park I chose to pull out my Canon and try to work on my limited and lacking photography skills. The park was beautiful and I probably covered not even and eighth of it. I got beautiful wide shots of the walkways, bridges, and lakes, followed by a couple close-ups with my macro lens.
The people I met while exploring were also worth noting in my opinion. The first guy I met looked to be about in his 20s. He came up to me while I was looking at one of the maps in the park and asked if I was a photographer. My response was, “I wish!” as I thought to myself, “I can barely use this thing off of automatic.” We continued to talk about why I was in the city, what other parks were beautiful in the area (all of which I forgot to write down), and then we parted ways. Towards the end of my adventures in the park I met a man who was originally from Lebanon, but had been in London for almost ten years now and absolutely loved it. When I said I was from the United States, specifically New Jersey, he proceeded to tell me all of the people he knew from the United States and where they were from. I found that funny considering how he looked towards me to relate after listing off “California, Utah, and Michigan” although I have only been to California twice, Utah once, and Michigan… well, never. After leaving him I decided it was about time to head back towards the hotel seeing as it was beginning to get dark.
On my way back I stopped in at a photography shop because my smart self left my camera charger at UD and desperately needed a replacement. I entered to the guy working the shop- Nigel- in a intense, but simultaneously hilarious- conversation with a young man named Alex who seemingly just wanted to exit the shop as quickly as possible. Once they finished I told Nigel what I was looking for and he quickly told me about their “any battery, universal charger.” Seeing my apprehension he then had me take my camera out of my bag and showed me how it worked. After I purchased the charger he asked me what I was doing in the city for such an extended period of time and with that I made my third new local friend of the day. He told me about how if you had asked him a month ago if he would ever listen to classical music he would tell you to “get lost,” but he recently discovered its wonders and now keeps it playing 24/7 in the shop. He also had noticed my Star Wars wallet and told me he absolutely loved anything sci-fi, even going to see an orchestra sci-fi performance earlier this year. After bonding over the wonders that are a large orchestra I finally slipped out of the shop and continued back to the hotel.
I did homework and other general organization things for a while after getting back and then headed down into the lobby for a “welcome reception” that turned out to consist of drinks, over-peppered potato chips, and green olives along with a too-long introduction from some of the senior staff members. As soon as I could I made my exit back into my solitude. The plan was to do homework, to go the gym, shower, and then get to sleep early, but of course it did not turn out that way. When I got back to the room I made a couple of FaceTime calls instead of reading and then decided to order room service. When I tried to call to order though my phone would ring, beep, and then turn off while the little screen told me to hang up the phone. This took me a while to decipher though because the message was in French. I went down to the lobby in hopes of some assistance and the woman put my request into maintenance and order my food for me. When my soup arrived I realized slightly too late that they forgot my wine. Since my phone was broken I had to wait for maintenance to come before I could call and inform them. When I did they apologized, took the charge off my bill and brought the glass up immediately.
After more procrastinating I finally finished my homework and was ready for bed around 11:30 PM, but that was followed by about three and a half hours of tossing and turning until I was finally able to drift to sleep.