first real day in London

Monday, June 7th

I have been going non-stop since around 10AM…it’s been a crazy jam-packed day. Today we had class orientation in the morning with our fabulous professors and program directors. Then we went to see St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was, in short, beautiful and quite overwhelming. It’s what my music professor defined as the sublime –the kind of beauty that blows you away with its overpowering vastness. We climbed a billion stairs to get to the top for an amazing view of London, which was exhausting but well worth it. I hate going down narrow spiral staircases even more now, though. That was followed by a trek across the Millenium Bridge to the 5th floor of the Tate Modern art museum. Picasso, Matisse, Warhol, and a room full of swervy dizzy lines intrigued me more than I expected, and as a result I almost got left behind (thanks for checking up on me, Mel!). Almost left behind in a modern art museum, of all places. The idea of well, reactionary ideas driving the creation of art instead of skill in representing an image is rather interesting, actually. My near lost-in-London scare was followed by a group power-walk by the Thames River where we saw:

Big Ben, Parliament, Nelson’s memorial in Trafalgar Square, the outside of the National Gallery, St. Martin’s in the Fields, Leicester Square, several war memorials, random colorful elephant statues, and a movie being filmed.

After our super long walk around central London, we dispersed into Soho for dinner. Several of us went to get Chinese food at this pretty legit Cantonese restaurant. (Actually, my definition of legit is if it has 河粉or not, and it did. So yes, legit.) This was all wrapped up by a visit to Queen’s Theatre to see Les Miserables, which was INCREDIBLE. I make fun of Vic all the time for how much she loves this musical, but now I completely understand. The music is just gorgeous. Powerful stuff. It was my first real theatre experience, and I was completely swept up in the music and story.

Um…after that, Yixiao and I somehow got split up from the group (…let’s just say it was our fault), and though we made it back to Regent’s just fine on our own, we walked around for an hour trying to find the proper gate to get into the park (all the gates but one close at dusk). We went the wrong way for at least half an hour til we gave up and I called dearest 大哥 Timo (my big bro from the Shanghai program I did last summer, who’s studying here in London til mid-June) who pointed us in the proper direction, conveniently the opposite of the way we were headed. But what’s traveling without getting lost, eh?

I guess impressions so far…I feel like I’ve been here forever, but this constant feeling of I-have-no-idea-where-I-am reminds that I’ve been here less than two days. Yeah. Regent’s Park is a lovely, lovely place…the place surrounding it isn’t as 热闹, hustle-bustle as I expected, but the more historic area we visited this afternoon reminded me why I love traveling. So much history, fancy buildings, a ridiculously rich diversity of people. So. Much. To. See! Quite overwhelming, and I think I’m avoiding the overwhelming sensation by not realizing that I’m in LONDON, ENGLAND quite yet. It’s kind of a sleepy sightseeing at the moment. Hopefully I’ll wake up soon. But for that to happen, I have to go to bed first. ..

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