Monday, August 26, 2013

End of Summer Tidings

I just realized that I never posted about the last two days of my Cambridge trip. My bad. All you really need to know is that we had our last session on Galatians that Friday morning, and then I did some last-minute shopping in Cambridge, took a train to London, and spent the night in the airport with seven friends before my flight left Saturday morning. The flight was uneventful, and though I had a wonderful trip, I was glad to be home with my family again. I should do a reflection post on my trip overall, but that's not what I came to do tonight, so look for that (hopefully) sometime in the near future. :)

I spent two wonderful weeks at home before I came back out here to California. I moved back in (sort of - I lived out of my suitcases) to the house I was subleasing in June and started working in the library again. I was expected it to be a boring three weeks before school started, much like the beginning of the summer. But, thankfully, it wasn't. More of my friends were around, so I was able to do fun things with them (such as seeing The Butler, going to the beach, eating at Chipotle). I also got a babysitting job for a small group at my church that meets most Sundays. And my most exciting news is that I got an internship at a magazine! My last day in Cambridge, I got an email from a small Christian magazine that I'd applied to back in May. The magazine is New Identity Magazine, and I am both the Associate Editor Intern and the Staff Writer Intern. The editor works from her home, so the past three weeks, I drove to Torrance (about 15 miles from here, 30 minutes to an hour) twice a week and helped her edit articles and brainstorm articles and titles, and she has been teaching me about being a magazine editor and what all that entails. She also assigned me an article to write for the next publication, so I will be working on that over the next month. The month of September I will be working this internship from school, but starting in October, I'll be driving to her house again every Friday. I've loved the internship so far, and I'm really excited and grateful for this experience. I even have my own email address - stephanie@newidentitymag.com. :)

This past Saturday, I moved out of the house I was at and moved in to my very first apartment! It's a Biola-owned apartment complex, which is why I couldn't move in until this past Saturday. I absolutely love it! Our kitchen is beautiful and spacious, the living room is roomy (though the couch and two chairs it came with aren't that comfortable), the bedrooms have nice, big closets with full-length mirrors for doors, the bathroom is nice, we have storage space, and there is a pool right outside my door! Needless to say, I have been so excited to move in here, and now that I'm here, I just love it. I unpacked all my stuff Saturday (I don't actually have that much for an apartment). Victoria came Sunday, and the apartment got very cute and colorful! It feels like a home now. Elsa and Hannah come tomorrow morning, and classes start on Wednesday. I have less units this semester than I've ever had before (only 14), but I have my internship, I'll be working 15 hours a week at the library, and I'm hoping to have the time to apply to other internships. I'd love to get one at a publishing company and see what that is like.

I'm really excited for this school year, though I am sad that it is my last year here. I don't know where I'll be after I graduate, but that's okay right now. I have had the best college experience I could have asked for and I know that this year will only add to that as I start blending college life with "real" life (as in, living in an apartment, doing more cooking, having an internship). It won't be time to cry until May. Before then, I hope to make the most of my senior year and enjoy every minute. :)

"Oh, don't say that it's over. Oh, no, say it ain't so. Let's let the stars watch; let them stare. Let the wind eavesdrop; I don't care. For all that we've got, don't let go. Just hold me."
- Eavesdrop, The Civil Wars

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Cambridge Day Sixteen, Seventeen, and Eighteen (July 15th-17th)

Monday, after a refreshing shower and nap from the busy weekend, I attended our last required lecture, by Malcolm Guite. Malcolm Guite gave a lecture at Biola, I think last fall, so I had heard him then, and he was just as great to listen to in England as he was then. He's a poet, and he talked to us about poetry, words, and language. Monday evening, we attended the Cambridge Shakespeare Festival performance of "Much Ado About Nothing," in the gardens/lawn of St. John's College. It was so fun! The actors were really talented, and the setting was just gorgeous. It's hard to compare it to the Globe, because it had such a different feel. I enjoyed both experiences!

We had session Tuesday morning on F.F. Bruce's Paul and the Mind of Christ and John Pollock's The Life of Paul. After session, Heather, Scott, and I took a bus to Oxford to visit the Kilns, C.S. Lewis' home - something we'd planned a while ago. Our tour was at 4pm, and we thought the bus would arrive in Oxford at 3:15pm (it's a three-hour bus ride), but it didn't get there until 3:45pm. Upon getting ready to depart the bus, I noticed a white string on my bag. Turns out, the white string was actually gum. Unfortunately, I happened to not have any Kleenex or tissue with me; all I had was a grocery bag I'd bought my lunch in. I got the gum off as best as I could and tried not to think about where it had been. Anyways, we had to catch another bus to get out to the Kilns, which was a little ways out of the main part of Oxford. This bus was supposed to come every 30 minutes on the half hour, so we thought we'd catch the one at 4pm. It didn't come until 4:15pm. And the driver didn't let us use the bus pass we already had, even though we'd been told we'd be able to (a later bus driver also told us that this guy should have let us!), so we had to buy another ticket. I called the Kilns on the bus to let them know we were late but still coming. We got there at 4:45pm. There was no point in joining the tour because it only lasts an hour, but the gal was really nice and gave us a tour with just the three of us. It was really cool to see the house. They had pictures of C.S. Lewis in the house on the walls that they had used to make the house look how it had looked for him. A few things were still authentic to the house, such as a doorknob, some fireplaces, and an old typewriter that belonged to his brother. After seeing the house and taking lots of pictures, we walked to his grave by his church.


The Kilns

On the bus back into town, we noticed the people behind us were Americans. Scott recognized them as being in the tour that we had missed, so he started talking to them. They're from Tennessee, and so of course, I got involved in the conversation. Turns out, the lady is the assistant director of the honors program at Union University, my second choice college! It was a weird moment, because I most likely would have done the honors program if I'd gone to Union and would have known her. And then I meet her on a bus in Oxford instead. So strange!

Back in town, we met Scott's friend, Chase, from the States who's studying in Oxford for the summer. We went to the Eagle and Child pub for dinner (where all the Inklings always met and ate!), then Chase gave us a quick tour of the city. Most things were closed by this time (it was around 8pm), but we still saw some cool things. Around 9pm, we headed back to the bus station. We thought the last bus to Cambridge left at 10:40pm, so we were sure we had plenty of time. Unfortunately, the bus schedule online had been misread and the one at the station was less confusing. The last bus to Cambridge had left at 7:40pm! The next one didn't leave until 7:10 in the morning. After researching our options online and talking to a bus driver (who was certain there was another bus leaving for Cambridge that night), Chase offered to let us crash at his place for the night. (If we'd taken a train, it would have been 50 pounds and taken six hours!) Praise the Lord I had my hair brush with me, but I didn't have much else! Unfortunately, taking the morning bus also meant that we would be late for class which starts at 9am. We called our professors, and they were understanding and gracious. At Chase's flat, we met some of his flatmates and chatted for awhile. They were all Americans studying in Oxford for the summer (and Evangelical Christians - don't worry Mom). Heather and I slept on the couch in the small living room. We also had to finish reading Wilberforce though (the one book I hadn't read ahead of time!), so we stayed up reading together for awhile. I went to bed at 1am.

Oxford

We woke up at 6am Wednesday, to give ourselves plenty of time to get to the bus station. One good thing about the situation was that I finally got to ride in a double-decker bus! The bus to and from Chase's flat. That was fun. We made it to the bus station with enough time to buy a croissant and tea (with lots of sugar) for breakfast. While waiting in line to board the bus (which we had to buy another ticket for because our return trip ticket was only for the day before), a bee decided to sting Scott right below his eye. I'm not quite sure why, but fortunately his eye didn't swell! We got to class around 10:45am. Our professors weren't mad, and everyone thought the situation was pretty funny, especially the bee sting!

Wednesday afternoon, a bunch of us went to a little restaurant called Fitzbillie's, for a girl's birthday. They served tea and scones, among other things. In the evening, we had a group dinner in one of the kitchens of people's leftovers, mainly tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. It was fun to hang out with everyone, since we'll all be leaving in two days!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dublin Weekend (Day Thirteen, Fourteen, and Fifteen; July 12th-14th)

Friday morning, we had session on Edmund Spenser's "Four Hymns." After having some issues about who was coming to Dublin, Heather, Scott, and I departed on the train around 6:30pm. We had to catch a different train in London (the coolest train) that took us to Crewe. This train ride was probably my favorite. There was this British guy sitting across from us talking on the phone, but everyone could hear his conversation because we're in an enclosed space. Apparently, he was the best man in a wedding the next day and was preparing his speech. He wanted to know the names of everyone coming and the relation they had to the bride or groom (it was a small wedding, only about 15 people). But he kept repeating everything and it was absolutely hilarious! We heard about Tanya, her aunt Rosemary who never leaves her home, her grandparents, and PJ's "squeeze." There were two other British guys (about college-aged) sitting in front of him and they were just cracking up. The guy left for a while, and then we started laughing with the other two guys and got to talking. They told us that all Brits weren't like that guy, but he was the stereotype. The other guy came back, and they asked him how PJ's squeeze was doing! I don't think he really knew we were laughing about it all...but then we all got to talking and we told them what we were going to Dublin. They had just been the previous year, and they told us to go to the Guinness Storehouse and do the tour...but they couldn't remember what else they had done in Dublin! It was so funny. We got off before them, and they shook are hands farewell and wished us luck. In Crewe, we caught another train to Holyhead (in Wales!). I slept on that train. We got to Holyhead around 12:30am, and we had to wait two hours for the ferry to Dublin! (We actually didn't need our passports for Ireland - it was weird!) The ferry was amazing! It was bigger than the one we took to Paris. It had a shopping area, a movie theater, a kids' area, a bar (of course), food area, and a bunch of gambling machines. It was really nice though, with couches and chairs everywhere. I mainly slept, until we got in to Dublin at 6am.

The harp bridge over the River Liffey.

The sun was already up, we got a map, and we walked toward the city center. There was an ad on the map for a breakfast place open at 8:30am so we headed for that. We weren't walking very quickly, and we were taking lots of pictures of everything (the River Liffey is so pretty!), so we got to the restaurant at 8:15am. We looked around for a bit 'til it opened, then went in. It was a pretty big place, with the restaurant on the second floor and a big gift shop on the first. We claimed a cute little table in the corner by the window, and then were going to figure out how to get food (there was a cafeteria-like area). However, this older man walks towards us with this really confused look on his face, and he just kind of stops and looks like he doesn't know what to do. We were standing by the table, about to go get food, when he asks us if we're American. We reply in the affirmative, then he says, "Is it usual to claim a table before you've paid for your food?" We again said yes, and then he informed us that it was "bad manners" to do so in Ireland. We apologized and moved of course, but I remain skeptical as to if this is actually the case. He, of course, sat at the table we had claimed and was still there reading his newspaper when we left! I think he may have just been a regular who always sits there and didn't know what to do when his routine got messed up. So we ordered, paid, and carried our food to our table while carrying our backpacks. But the food itself was wonderful! I had eggs, pudding, sausage, a hashbrown-type thing, toast, and tea, all for 5 euros. They also had free wifi there, so we stayed for a bit and also browsed the store below. Then we headed to Trinity College.

In the Trinity College Library.

Once there, we got in line to see the library and the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells was awesome, but the library was SO cool!! You can't touch any of the books, but it's book shelves on both sides of the room going up the wall with spiral staircases and a bunch of statues of great philosophers and others. It was so beautiful. We spent a good while there, then walked down Grafton Street and saw the busy part of town, with all the street performers and stuff. It was cool! Nest, we walked to the Dublin Castle, which honestly was a bit of a disappointment. I really wanted to go in a castle, but there's not much left of this castle to see. We walked around the gardens and outside; it was really beautiful. But apparently, there was a fire in the castle once that they couldn't put out. It was beginning to spread, so they blew up the castle to stop the fire. I guess it worked, but there's not much castle anymore. We did go in the Chester Beatty library right next to the castle, and that was cool. Chester Beatty collected everything in the library, and when he died it all got turned into a library. There were some really old handwritten manuscripts though, including some from the Bible! It was so fascinating.

 Yes, those are real people. In the hot, hot sun. The dog, however, is fake.
The cool part of Dublin Castle.

By this time it was around 4pm, and we walked to our hostel. On our way, we passed the Millennium Spire, which was really tall but not much else haha. The hostel was bigger than the one in Paris but not quite as nice, and we were in a room with seven other people. It wasn't bad though and felt safe. We were all exhausted so we rested and figured out plans for the evening and the next day. We ate dinner at a bed & breakfast/pub nearby. Our waitresses were Irish and that was fun. We went to bed early (I think 10ish), and, even though the bed wasn't the greatest, I slept wonderfully because I was so tired!

The Millennium Spire.

Sunday morning was another hot, sunny day, even though weather.com had told me it would be in the 60s and cloudy so I'd only brought long-sleeved shirts. It was a very warm day! We had cereal and toast for breakfast, complimentary of the hostel. We were going to go take the tour at the Guinness Storehouse, but two guys in our room told us to do the Jameson tour instead, because it was cheaper and more personal. So we did that and a very true Irishman gave us the tour - he was awesome haha. After the tour, we walked to the Guinness place to see the gift store, but we couldn't even do that unless we went on that tour. And there were soo many tourists there. While we were walking around, we stopped to admire this cool-looking building. An older Irish guy walked up to us and asked if we spoke English, and then explained to us the history of the building. However, his accent was so thick that we couldn't understand what he was saying! We gathered that the building had something to do with washing but that was it.

Walking around Dublin.

By then it was almost 2pm, which was when the National Museum of Ireland was opening. We walked across the river to get to it. It wasn't terribly big and mainly focused on the war periods in Ireland, but it was still really cool. They had a bunch of planes and this really old big ship that had been conserved. We didn't stay long there because we planned on attending Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral at 3:30pm. This church was built by the vikings around 1060. It was so cool! They had some original ruins on the property. Evensong there was really different from the ones I attended in Cambridge. There was no choir or singing; only three priests doing the recitations. There weren't a lot of people in attendance - and most of the ones had only come there as tourists and didn't stay for it all. Afterwards, one of the priests shook our hands and said, "Peace be with you." He seemed happy we were there. It only lasted about 20 minutes. Then we got to look around the church and the crypts underneath (where there was also a gift shop and a little cafe). Technically, I don't think we were supposed to do this because it cost to get in the cathedral and see all of that, but we got in for free because we were attending Evensong! So that was fun. Also, a different Irish priest explained to us the history of the floor tiles and what the designs meant. When we left him, he said, "Cheerio," in his Irish accent! It was pretty awesome haha. Other than that, we didn't hear too many Irish accents! Most people wandering around were tourists.

 At the National Museum of Ireland, with the Asgard ship.
 Christ Church Cathedral.

We went to this really big souvenir shop and did some browsing. Ireland has so many better souvenirs than England does! We ate at the Long Stone Pub for dinner, and I had a bacon cheeseburger (made with Irish beef). It tasted pretty normal to me haha. By then, it was time to take the long walk back to the ferry! We thought we might be late so we hurried, but we ended up getting there at just the right time. It was still daylight when we boarded the ferry this time (even though it was 9pm), so we were able to watch the sun set from the deck as we said goodbye to Ireland. It was so beautiful! It was super windy and cold up there though, so we didn't stay too long. We arrived back in Wales around 12:30am and, surprisingly, the security guards were briefly looking at everyone's passports. It was weird, but we go in fine. We had to wait four hours for our train...I slept a little bit but not terribly well. The train was another four hours to London, and I was able to sleep then. We arrived at 8:30am, caught the train back to Cambridge, and arrived back a little after 10am Monday morning. It was quite the trip!

Sun setting over Ireland. :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Cambridge Day Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve (July 8th-11th)

This week was a lot less eventful compared to last week! Monday began with session on The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. I took a nap in the afternoon and just rested after the exciting weekend. In the evening, we had a lecture on John Milton, specifically about his years here at Cambridge. I went to the grocery store in the evening, and that was pretty much Monday. Tuesday, we had session on Milton's Comus. The Milton scholar who gave the lecture sat in our session too. In the afternoon, Heather and I walked in to town to this bookstore that sells first edition copies of books. It was so cool! We spent a good while in there, just browsing through and marveling at how old the books were (yes, we are English major nerds). I wanted to buy something, but most things were really expensive (anywhere from 50-200 pounds). I'm probably going to go back next week, though, and might get something, depending on how much money I have left haha. There's a big market area in the middle of town, and we spent some time walking around there and browsing. We saw a street performer get on an 8-foot unicycle. For dinner, I went out with some friends to a restaurant called Nando's. We all split a big platter of chicken and sides. It was really yummy.

Wednesday was another London day! We met at the train station at 9am. (I also got my morning exercise in when the group I was with missed our turn for the station and walked a bit too far...then had to run back to make it in time!) We went to the British Museum first, which was really cool! We'd had to read the book Through the British Museum with the Bible before we went, and my group's tour guide was one of the authors! (I got him to sign my book, haha.) We saw the Rosetta Stone, the Black Obelisk, the Cyrus Cylinder. We were there two hours, but there was so much to see! I didn't feel like we even came close to seeing half of it. It was really neat though, because our tour guide was telling us how all of these different artifacts prove the truth of all the historical facts mentioned in the Bible. It was so fascinating! After the museum, we picked up lunch at a Pret store, which sells ready-made food like sandwiches and stuff, and we ate at a nearby park. From there, we walked to the British Library, which was awesome! We saw all the illuminated manuscripts, which included the Magna Carta and some early copies of the Bible (including the Gutenberg Bible), as well as early works of literature and music. There was also a letter from Napoleon to his brother that had been intercepted. From there we were on our own until 7pm. I spent some more time in the Library, just looking around, and then I went with some friends to Baker Street! We were going to go in the Sherlock Holmes Museum, but unfortunately the line was too long and we ended up not having time for it. Instead, we went in the gift store and just looked around there. It was really cool! Then we went to the National Gallery and looked around there for awhile. I'm not a big art person, but some of the paintings were really cool. Next, we went and saw the London Bridge! (No, it wasn't falling down, but we did see the drawbridge go up and down.) The London Bridge was close to the Globe (where we were meeting at 7pm) so we picked up dinner and walked there.

 Sherlock Holmes Museum
The London Bridge, with the Tower of London on the left.

The Globe was awesome! We saw A Midsummer Night's Dream, and it was a lot funnier watching it than when I read it. It was such a neat experience being there and very cool to see Shakespeare how it was meant to be seen. The play lasted until around 10:30pm, and then we had to rush back to the King's Cross Station. There were no more trains going to Cambridge, so we had to take one to another town and then catch a bus to Cambridge. I got back to my room at 1am. Our professors were nice though, and they delayed class Thursday morning until 10:30am. :)

Inside the Globe.

We had session on Tennyson's poem "In Memoriam A.H.H." After session, we all walked over to the Tyndale House, which is this house with a library that has every serious doctrinal work written in it. It only contains books/dissertations/etc. related to the Bible. They also do Bible translation work (from the original Hebrew and Greek). The head of the house (I think), Dr. Peter Williams, gave us a lecture about Bible translations and language. It was really interesting! I got back to my room around 4:30pm and took a nap, then read some. I finished my reading for next Tuesday last night, but I still have one more book to read that is due Wednesday that I get to start and finish this weekend. I'm still having a really good time here; it's hard to believe there's only one week left!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Paris Weekend! (Day Six, Seven, and Eight; July 5th-7th)

Friday began with session on Charles Simeon's sermons on Galatians. We had session in Holy Trinity Church, the church that Simeon preached at for fifty years, which was really cool to be in after just reading all about him. After session, we were free for the weekend, and three of my friends and I had decided previously to travel to Paris for the weekend. Our bus didn't leave until 6:30pm, so we had the afternoon to pack and get ready to go. We took a bus from Cambridge to London and then caught a connecting bus straight to Paris. When it was time to board that bus, there was a mad rush to get on the bus (British people don't form lines to get on buses), but God was on our side and we found four seats open in the very last row of the bus. The bus left London around 10:30pm, and I dozed on and off until we got to Dover - and even though it was dark outside, we could still see the enormous cliffs! That was cool. At Dover, we had to get off the bus and go through customs to cross the English Channel into France. Going through French customs was a lot different than UK customs - the French barely looked at our passports before they stamped them and let us through. After that we got back on the bus and waited to board the ferry. Our bus drove onto a lower level of the ferry, and then we had to get off because we weren't allowed to be on the bus during the ferry ride. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera with me off the bus, so I didn't get any pictures of the ferry. But it was really big and there was a food court and a bunch of comfy chairs and couches. We went outside on top, and the view was beautiful even though it was dark. It was really cold though, so we went back inside and slept (it was around 2am). When we woke up, we could see France from the windows (still dark though)! We got back on the bus and the bus drove off the ferry and we continued on our merry way. We were in Calais, France and it was now around 4am. We all were able to sleep during this leg of the journey, which was good. We finally arrived in Paris about 7:30am!

On the bus heading to Paris!

Upon arriving, we set out to find a map and figure out how to get somewhere. We bought 2day bus passes and decided to head to Notre Dame and find food along the way. We had a bit of confusion with the bus stop and getting the right bus though, and we ended up getting helped by an Italian lady who spoke French and English (and who knows what else haha). We chatted with her while we waited for the bus, and when she found out that we were Americans, she got so excited and fell in love with us! It was so funny! She even touched all of us just because she wanted to touch Americans. She got even more excited when we said we were from California (which is ironic because none of us were actually from California - two Georgians and two Washingtonians). She didn't say why she was in Paris, but she told us she didn't like French weather or food. (The weather, however, was hot and sunny! It was a beautiful day to us.) She specifically told us not to eat French pizza. We told her all that we were doing, and she was impressed with Nathan's French (he's the only one of us who could speak more than a few words). The bus finally came, and she shook all of our hands in farewell. It was quite the welcome to Paris!

The bus took us into more of the center of Paris, and we got off and found a little food place that had croissants and omelets. The guy we ordered from though wasn't French and he preferred to speak to us in English rather than French, which was kinda funny. But we got breakfast and some energy which was the important thing (it was around 10am by this point). We found a Starbucks with free wifi and free water. Then we found the Notre Dame! It was amazing! SO gorgeous and we took a ton of pictures. We were a little worried of the really long line to get inside, but it moved quickly and only took us about 15 minutes. Once inside, we were supposed to be silent because there was a Mass going on, but people were still being noisy. We took our time walking all the way through the building and just taking everything in; it was really quite stunning. When we got back outside, we walked around the outside of the building and crossed one of the Bridges of Locks over the Seine River. I'm pretty sure this is the bridge that Cat's lock is on, but there was no way I would have been able to find it without knowing exactly where it was - the bridge was completely covered in locks!

 Notre Dame

 Inside the Notre Dame.

We sat down at a park and determined to find the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. I had the address and knew it was near the Notre Dame, but we could not find it on the bus map we had. We finally just decided to start walking, and turns out the bookstore was on the other side of the park! Favorite bookstore ever. It was so cool!! Really tiny, crowded space but so many cool, old books. It has a library upstairs with even older books that you can sit and read while you're there, but you're not allowed to take them out. There's even a little old piano up there that you can play! We stayed there for a long while. It was just so wonderful.

It was now around 2pm, and we decided to try to find our hostel (check-in time was 3pm). We had trouble finding the right bus stop that we needed (for some reason, they were never were the map made us think they would be). We ended up walking to the Louvre before we found the right one. We didn't stay at the Louvre then though, because we were going to go the next day when it was free. We made it to the hostel just fine, and I got my first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from the bus! The hostel was actually a pretty nice place, for a hostel. Narrow hallways and not a very big room, but big enough for two bunk beds, a desk, and two chairs. We also had our own very tiny bathroom. Our window looked out on the street. We rested there for a while and freshened up (walking around Paris in the very hot sunshine while carrying around our backpacks means that, yes Liz, I was once again sweaty, haha). We asked the lady who checked us in where a good place to eat would be, but she told us she didn't know! So we decided to head for the Eiffel Tower and just see what we could find around there. I absolutely loved the Eiffel Tower! It was so amazing!! We stayed at its base for awhile and just marveled at its beauty (and took lots of pictures). It was so surreal to be there but really really cool. We were planning on going to the top, but we wanted to eat first. We walked to Rue Cler street and ate at a crepe place. We each got a dinner crepe (I had ham, eggs, and cheese in mine) and then got a Nutella and strawberry crepe to split. It was sooo yummy!

The Nutella and strawberry crepe.

This couple sat next to us who were from a town in Idaho close to Spokane, Washington, where Heather is from. So we chatted with them for a while (the service was slow at the crepe place, but our waiter was a little old man and he was really funny). It was 8pm by the time we left. We walked back to the Eiffel Tower and took a lot more pictures. Unfortunately, the line to buy tickets up to the top was really long, and there was a wait time of 45 minutes just to get from the second floor to the top. Since we were all tired and we didn't know how late the buses ran (it would be a long walk back to the hostel), we decided not to go up. Which just means that I have to go back someday! I really loved the Eiffel Tower. We took a bus back to our hostel around 9:30pm, read Galatians out loud together (since we're supposed to be reading it every day; I don't know if I've said that or not), and then got ready for bed. Heather and I used the computer in the main lobby to get online, but the French keyboard tripped us up for a bit! It took me 5-10 minutes just to figure out how to type the @ symbol! It was funny. Even though there was no AC in our room and it was really hot, I slept well because I was just so exhausted from the day.

 My reaction upon seeing the Eiffel Tower up close.

 Heather, Scott, Nathan, and I underneath the Eiffel Tower.

 The Eiffel Tower!

Sunday morning, we ate the free breakfast at the hostel (croissants, jam, and orange juice or coffee) and then headed to the Louvre! The Louvre is only free the first Sunday of each month, so we had planned our Paris trip this weekend so that we could get in free. It opened at 9am, but we got there at 8am because we assumed the line would be long. We then sat down in the line and read for an hour (like the good Torrey students that we are), and when we stood back up, the line had multiplied by like a thousand, haha. It was so long! We were able to get inside pretty much right away though because we'd gotten there so early. Once inside, we were thankfully able to check our backpacks into a baggage place there so we didn't have to carry them all around the museum. We decided to find the Mona Lisa first, but the museum is so big and, even though we had maps, really confusing. And of course we got distracted by everything else along the way (because everything is so cool!) so it took us awhile to find the Mona Lisa. It was clear when we were finally getting close though, because the crowd went from non-existent to very full. They don't let you get close to the painting and there's glass around it, but it was really cool to see it. We then decided to split up since we all probably didn't want to see the same things. I saw so many cool things! The Venus statue, the Sphinx, the Code of Hammurabi, the winged Victory statue, the medieval Louvre, so many cool intricately painted ceilings. The building itself is an amazing work of art. The only unfortunate thing was that most of the descriptions about the art were in French and we didn't purchase the audio guides, so I didn't really learn anything. But it was all still really cool and absolutely beautiful.

 The Louvre Museum

The really long line (this was actually part of the "beginning" of the line).

We all met back up around noon and went to the gift shop to buy souvenirs. Then we had to find the bus stop to take us to the Eurolines bus station and head back to London. This took forever! The bus stop was not where the map said that it was (at least not that we could find) and we had to walk a ways before we found it. We had wanted to get to the bus station at 1pm (two hours before our bus left) but we didn't get there until 1:45. We decided we had time to get some food then anyways, but unfortunately, the only thing open in the mall right next to the station was the McDonalds. But I guess it was fitting that we ate French fries in France. :) We made it to our bus with plenty of time to spare though, around 2:30pm. The bus didn't end up leaving until 3:30 though. Instead of the ferry this time, our bus took the Eurotunnel underneath the channel. Before we got on, we had to pass through the British customs, and the guy I had kept asking me the same questions about my traveling plans! They were so interrogating to all of us. I really don't think they like getting foreigners...haha. The tunnel itself was so weird because we were on a bus on a train in a tunnel under water! We were allowed to get off the bus during the ride, but the only thing on the train was other cars. It was a cool experience, but I liked the ferry better, even though the tunnel only took about 30 minutes. We got to London an hour behind schedule (10:30pm) and had just enough time to catch our connecting bus to Cambridge, which left at 11pm. We made it back at 12:45am. What a crazy weekend! It was so much fun though, and I'm so blessed that God worked out all of the details and kept us (and our passports) safe. My mother's prayer were answered. :) It was an exhausting weekend, but I wouldn't take it back for anything.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cambridge Day Five (July 4th)

Independence Day began with session on a biography of Charles Simeon written by HCG Moule. I'd never heard of Charles Simeon before reading this, but he graduated from King's College here in Cambridge where he became a Christian. After he graduated, he became the preacher at Holy Trinity Church here for about 50 years, and he was important in the evangelical revival of the Church of England. He basically did a lot of amazing things that we got to read/talk about. We finished session early (at 11:30) so that we would have enough time to walk to the train station and make the fast train (50 minutes) to London. Thankfully we made it. (Otherwise we would have had to take the slow train that stops in every little town between here and London.) The train was a little crowded, but I still love trains so it was really exciting! :) We went to King's Cross Station in London (where I also saw Platform 9 3/4, btw), and then we got on the London Underground and rode over (or under, I suppose) to Trafalgar Square. This is where everything started feeling surreal. I was actually seeing all these famous buildings and landmarks from movies and photos that everyone always talks about! London is filled with beautiful old buildings, and I took so many pictures. Also, the weather was absolutely gorgeous! Not typical England weather at all, but a warm, sunny day with a few clouds. England is being nice to us. :) At Trafalgar Square, we split up into two groups. One went to the National Gallery to look at art, and my group went to the Winston Churchill museum. On our way to the museum, we saw where the prime minister lives - or at least, we glimpsed the door to his house! The block was gated with guards standing outside it. Then we walked to the Churchill museum. I absolutely love this museum! It takes you on an interactive tour of Churchill's life, and you have an individual audio guide that tells you about each thing you see. So cool. It also had a big emphasis on his life during the war, and it had replicas of bunkers and offices and stuff like that. There were so many things you could do and see and learn. We were supposed to meet at the end of it at 3:30, but I lost track of the time, and all of a sudden I realized I wasn't seeing anyone from my group anymore. So I started making my way out (it takes a while) and when I got to the meeting point, I realized everyone was waiting on me! It was about 3:45...I felt bad, but I was also bummed because I hadn't gotten to finish everything in the museum!

Churchill at the entrance of the museum.

After the museum, we walked through St. John's Park. It was so beautiful and large! London is a lot greener than I expected - not like the big cities in America. This park was by a little river and there was a fountain in the middle. There were also lots of pigeons and pelicans. At the other side of the park was Buckingham Palace! The Queen wasn't there and the guards were inside the gates so we couldn't get pictures with them, which was a bummer. But it was still really cool. We spent a lot of time there taking pictures and walking around - there were so many other people there, too!

 The guard moved back and forth, but he was so far away inside the gates.

 Buckingham Palace!

Next, we walked over to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey, which were incredibly gorgeous. And again, I took so many pictures! (I ended up with about 250 for the day..) There's also a lot of statues and monuments just throughout London. By Big Ben, there's a square area of grass with statues around it including Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and Abraham Lincoln (which I thought was really funny, but perfect for the day since it was the 4th! haha).

Sitting down in front of Big Ben.

After chilling there for a while, we took the Underground to St. Paul's Cathedral, our rendezvous point with the other group. We got there first, and there's a French bakery right next to it (called Paul), so I bought a pastry, and then got a sandwich for dinner at a grocery store near there because it was cheaper. Once everyone was back, we took the Underground back to King's Cross Station, then got on the train to Cambridge. (I still love trains; every time I ride one here, I get really excited!) We got back to Cambridge around 8:30pm. Nathan, Heather, and I went to get some ice cream at a little store, and I got this mango flavor that was really yummy. By the time I got back to my room, my feet were very sore and I was really tired, but the day was so worth it!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Cambridge Day Three and Four (July 2nd and 3rd)

Tuesday morning: Instead of having session, we went punting. A punt, according to dictionary.com, is a small, shallow boat having a flat bottom and square ends, usually used for short outings on rivers or lakes and propelled by poling. We walked to the punting place and punted down the Cam River with a British punter for a guide. (Cam River, Cam Bridge, Cambridge - I never got that connection before, haha.) It was so fun! The punter stands on the square, flat end of the boat and uses the pole to propel us forward, during which he tells stories about all the places we pass by that may or may not be true. We passed many of the colleges in Cambridge and went under many bridges that I took lots of pictures of. :) He told us how Prince Charles was a daft flip flop because he attended one of the colleges but failed the final exam (that his bodyguard passed) and was the only person to get an honorary degree.

Some of my fellow Torrey students in their punt.
 
After punting (which took about an hour), we walked to the Round Church, which is the second oldest building in Cambridge, built in the 1100's! From here we began a walking tour of Cambridge with an organization called Christian Heritage. My group's tour guide was named Ranald, and he just so happened to be the son-in-law of Francis Schaeffer (though we found that out later from our professors). He basically took us on a tour that outlined the history of Christianity in Cambridge. We went to St. John's College, Trinity College, King's College, a church that is the oldest building in Cambridge, and the Sidney Sussex College where Oliver Cromwell graduated and his head is buried. Ranald told us a lot of history and stories, which I probably would not repeat accurately if I tried to! It was all really interesting though. But by the end of the tour, my feet hurt and I was ready for lunch.

Tuesday afternoon we had some free time, during which I did some reading and took a short nap. In the evening, we attended Evensong at St. John's College chapel. We got there early to get good seats and waited outside for about half an hour. It started sprinkling on us, but thankfully it didn't rain hard and we were soon able to go inside. The choir was absolutely amazing as they sang psalms, poetry, and hymns for about an hour. It's really hard to describe how wonderful it all was, sitting in that old chapel, listening to them; it's something you just have to experience. We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the chapel, but of course I snuck some..

Inside St. John's College's chapel.
 
After Evensong, I went with some friends to a pub called The Regal and had my first fish and chips experience! It was cod fish, served with peas, and was quite delicious. We had to order from the bar, and we all ordered at the same time, and the guy that I ordered from told me that we all had some interesting accents. Haha ;) We walked back around 8:30, but of course it was still light outside because the sun doesn't set around here until around 9:30. It also supposedly rises around 4:30 (I'm never up to see it haha).
 
Today (Wednesday) began with session on some essays written by C.S. Lewis during his time here at Cambridge. After session, we all met to go for a bike ride to Grantchester Meadows. It took about 30 minutes, and we began biking in the city but then got to bike through the glorious country (which was a part of the Meadows). I didn't pay as much attention on the way out as I did later because I was trying not to lose the person in front of me. I didn't know where I was going! Plus, the bike ride had me sweating and my legs got a little sore. We biked on a path through the meadows and ended at a little restaurant where I bought a scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream, and elderflower water, which is bubbling water with elderflowers mixed in. Everything was delicious! We sat outside to eat at tables under the trees. Thankfully, the weather held out for us and it didn't rain, though it was really cloudy and overcast. The bike ride had warmed me up though, so it wasn't that cold.

Sam, Heather, and Scott enjoying some scones at Grantchester Meadows.
 
After we ate, we were on our own for returning to Downing, so I biked with Heather and Rachel a little ways back and we stopped by the Cam River to walk around and take some pictures. It was so beautiful! This felt like the true English countryside that people always talk about; it was so peaceful and calm. My pictures just don't do it justice, but I tried. It was a lovely afternoon.

The Cam River and the English countryside.

We biked back around 3pm and managed to make it to Downing without getting lost. I was hot and sweaty when I got back I got to my room, so I rested for a bit and then got to skype my mom and grandma. In the evening, we attended another Evensong, this time at King's College chapel. This was even more beautiful than before because the chapel was bigger and I think King's College is older than St. John's. I wish I could describe Evensong better, but it's just listening to beautiful harmonies, all singing praise to God, while looking at stained glass windows and big pipes from the organ. It's just so cool! We weren't allowed to take pictures inside the chapel here either, and unfortunately the ones that I snuck are all a little blurry. But afterwards, we walked around the grounds of King's College, and I got lots of pictures! So gorgeous.
 

Heather and I at King's College (the tall building is the chapel; you're also not allowed to walk on the grass).
 
Back at Downing College at 7:30pm, we had our first context lecture of the trip (we have one per week). It was on Cambridge and the Puritans by Dr. Lee Gatiss. It was an interesting lecture, and he was a funny Brit. who liked to make fun of Americans and Baptists, all in good humor. He was very entertaining! He also made a LOST reference when he was talking about John Locke briefly; that was cool, haha.


Tomorrow we take our first trip into London, and this weekend I will be traveling to Paris with Heather, Scott, and Nathan! More adventures to come! :)