#TheGangIsAbroad2015 Part Two



Hello again friends & family!  Here is ~*~*Part 2*~*~ of the Gang’s adventures abroad!   Let’s get to it:

Monday, April 13th: We made our way to Florence, which I timed so I could easily fly back with Emily & Bailey.  This way, by the end of the week, I’d be in town for when ~Connor & Tailor~ arrived for our Lizzie McGuire Adventure in Italia!  WOO

          This also meant that I burdened Emily with my presence for the whole week before the rest of the gang got there.  And I slept on her couch the whole time and her awesome roommates were probably like THE HECK HOMIE GET OUT – but they are all so spectacular, & they made me feel so welcome and at home the entire time I was there ❤  S/O to you guys




This was my view on the way to Italy.  That’s fine.

          As soon as we got to Florence, Emily and I walked to her apartment – where I met her awesome roomies – dropped off our stuff, and then headed straight to lunch.  I got to try the legendary “Pino’s” sandwich shop, and my goodness it was dang delicious.  We took our lunches to the front courtyard of Santa Croce, a church that is so beautiful to look at it almost looks fake.





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I just noticed that Emily’s tongue is sticking out in this pic and I can’t stop laughing.

          After we devoured our sandwiches (okay, Emily ate normally, but I was done in like 3 minutes..), we walked to the Arno River (there ARE NO other rivers there LOL HAH HAH Emily made that joke okay).  We first saw the unique “Ponte Vecchio” bridge.  Emily is an excellent tour guide, and she told me it was the bridge that the Medici family (they ran that ish yo) used to cross the city to get from one Palace to the other.  It used to be filled up & down with butchers and their shops, but then the Medicis were like, “excuse meh, NOPE.”   So then it became lined up with the more prestigious jewelers and merchants, who still fill up the bridge to this day.   It is a beauty to see from afar as well (it can get very crowded close up):



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See all the tiny stores on it?   Sew kewl.

There were lots of other bridges too, and the river was just so cool.




Emily and I then stumbled upon my first glimpse of what gelato is like in this beautiful country.   And we made a pact: we vowed to have gelato every single day of my trip in Florence – a “gelato tour” of sorts.  A gentleman’s agreement HUZZAH.


Hey look, the Ponte Vecchio again!


First gelato.   I cried a bit, and then I wouldn’t shut up about it.

          That night we met up with Bailey & Emily’s roomies, Sam & Gaby, to play trivia at a restaurant called, Red Garter.  This was wonderful because during one round, we got a sheet with pictures of every Star Wars characters on it and we had to name them all, so yo gurl was right in her element.  CA-CHING.  (I mean, we didn’t win, but maybe JAWAS shouldn’t have a name so hard to remember??)



They are just wannabe Ewoks and we all know it.


Delicious burgers at Red Garter


Tuesday, April 14th
: Emily had class the majority of this day, so I got to be by myself and really soak up Florence for a few hours on my own with HP & The Goblet of Fire.  Or at least, soak up the three designated spots Emily and I had picked out for me to chill in, so that I wouldn’t get lost/taken/disappeared.




I got to sit on the steps of Santa Croce, constantly switching between people-watching and reading, and then sometimes simply sitting there in the half-shade/sun thing that was going on.

          I then took a picture of the church’s massive doors, and wanting one of myself to show for comparison, I tried asking a group of Italian (or so I presumed) women, if they could take my photo.  They were super sweet, and I kept saying “grazie” to them, and they kept smiling.  Then they gestured to ask if I could take their picture, to which I of course obliged.  Only for them to say goodbye after with a happy “merci!”   OOPS.  French?  Italian?   Do I understand anything?



The picture in question.

          After my delightful encounter with the French women, two young Italian guys approached me and sat by me.  In my head I was like “oh dear,” but I was still polite to them as they asked me in broken English, if I wanted a cigarette & if I spoke Italian.  To which of course, I said no.   However, we proceeded to talk on my phone through Google Translate, which was all good and fun for a while.  But they eventually asked me if I wanted to “take a ride with them?”

NO sirs, I do not.   “There is a garden not far from here we could go to.”  LOL sure.

          The one more aggressive guy was egging on the other though, and I could tell the nicer of the two (his name was Leonardo) knew I didn’t want to go anywhere with them, so he was nice & said goodbye and took his friend with him.   They were super young and silly & we were surrounded by people, so I was never in any danger or anything – so I kind of liked the experience of talking to someone through a technological device, and seeing how something like a website on a tiny screen can bridge the gap between cultures & languages.




My suitors walking away from me.  Sigh.


I got this close to a bird & it didn’t leave me!


I gots a delicious sandwich too.


Pretty pano views.

I also got to sit with Emily’s sweet and awesome roomie, Gaby, for a while and we later got coffee & sweets together and it was so cute.  And then we met up with Emily after her class and we all went to get gelato.  YES:

With the guy behind us looking suspiciously like Neal/Old-Baelfire from Once Upon A time.  Just Saying:


Wednesday, April 15th
: Emily only had a later class (around 3) this day, and *I* got to accompany her to it!   Her class was going on a field trip to the “Palazzo Pitti” or the Pitti Palace, which was once home to, of course, the Medici family.   We met up with Emily’s class on the Ponte Vecchio, where I got to see this view:


This picture reminds me loads and loads of this painting that is in my living room at home that I sometimes stare at for inappropriately long periods of time when I’m back in Roswell:

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“When I inherit all yo things, can that be the first thing I get?” – actual thing I’ve asked my mom multiple times about this painting


Being cute, waiting for Emily’s classmates.

Confirmation: Emily’s teacher was the cutest, most Italian woman I have ever met.  She was so kind and she is obsessed with Emily and she was so sweet to me too.

This is her teaching us things inside the Palace.


This is a painting inside the Palace of a woman with her breasts cut off and put on a platter.  You know.

          After her class, Emily and I made our way to “apertivo” which is basically like Spanish “tapas,” so we paid 5 euros for a full buffet & drink, and man was it delicious.  The restaurant we went to is run by Emily’s school’s culinary students, and they kept bringing out more and more yummy snacks and it was SO good.  I may have gone for like, 5 rounds but it’s fine.




After the apertivo, we met up with Emily’s roomie, Sam, and had delicious gelato #3.

Thursday, April 16th: The next day, Emily and I ventured to the markets, where we wandered around the Central Market and got lunch on one of its multiple floors.   I got my first Italian pizza and it was just so good, guys:




After we got heckled at by every leather-market-seller, Emily and I made our way down to the Arno again, and this time, sat along side it.  We proceeded to take cute pictures:

OH stahp it you ❤


Self-timers for the win!  Also, we’re a couple.

          I mostly remember us goofing off, trying to get the perfect picture & thinking we had failed.  But looking back, the pictures are just perfect the way they are.   I also remember that Emily did that thing where she lets me go on and on about Star Wars for way too long.  She does that a lot, and I hope she knows I appreciate it.

          After sitting by the river for a bit, we decided to stop by a cafe real quick.  You see, Taylor A was coming into Florence for the weekend & staying with Bailey, so Bailey is super cool and was going to cook us all dinner that night because she’s super domestic like that.   But Emily and I decided we had just enough time for a quick glass of wine beforehand.

          This quick glass of wine turned into an in-depth, hour-long discussion about everything under the Tuscan sun (heh).   One not so atypical of an Emu & Sarahj chat, but it definitely hit home more now that we are 20 & 21, sipping wine in Italy, talking about our futures: our families, our potential timelines, our lives in general.

          Emily put it into words best in her post about it, in that she said even though we have talked about these types of things before (marriage, kids, jobs, etc.), it was always in a “one day” matter: sitting at 2nd grade school lunch, in our bedrooms looking at our crushes in the yearbooks, at the pool during the summer after 8th grade.


But now, “one day” is tomorrow.   And that’s the most terrifying and thrilling thought I’ve had in a while.


Here’s an artsy pic to calm down the intense mood.



After drowning in our anxiety, we proceeded to have delicious Chicken Parmesan at Bailey’s to welcome Taylor in, and it was a delicious and fun end to the lovely day.   Then we got gelato #4 after:



Friday, April 17th: Connor was arriving later in the day (hooray!), so Emily and I started off the morning going to the Boboli Gardens, which are by the Pitti Palace.   They should really be called Narnia or The Secret Gardens or something, because they were entrancing and peaceful and beautiful:



Long paths.


Emily had to pee.


Emily is a statue.


OMG which one is Emily?


A dinosaur egg interrupted our adventures.


Princess Diaries is a main theme of this SA experience (and apparently no one wants you on their lawn in Europe).



A lovely & sweet-smelling British man and his wife asked if we could take their picture, and then they offered to take ours, and they said we took beautiful photos, and I kind of have to agree with the perfect couple:





We got gelato #5 after BAM

          We had earlier tried to go to Emily’s favorite church, Santo Spirito – but it had been closed 😦   But then fate stepped in, and we stopped by it after our gelato and it was OPEN!  It was so beautiful on the inside, and I loved hearing Emily talk about it. At one point, I looked up and told Emily how beautiful the ceiling was.


To this, she replied, “Oh I know. It is never a mistake to look up anywhere in Italy.”

I couldn’t take pictures inside, but I snagged a photo outside to show just how big it was.

          By then, it was time to find Connor at the train station!  We easily found him, and after we dropped his stuff off at Emily’s, we went to get dinner, where we gorged ourselves with pizza & pasta & all things Italian.  Afterward, we headed back to Emily’s for the night, because we had to get up early to get Tailor from the train station the next morning (DOUBLE hooray!).

          When we got back to Emily’s, we decided it was an inevitable movie night.  We chose to watch Cadet Kelly, only to get a bit annoyed with the wannabe-Lizzie-McGuire Kelly, so then we switched over to Anastasia instead.  This was one of our better decisions.  It was cool too, because during the “Paris holds the key to your heart” song sequence, there’s a scene where all the characters are on top of the Arc De Triomphe.   Connor was like “Hey, we’ve been on top of there,” and for the 700th time on study abroad journey, I had that surreal moment of WOAH we had been there.   ~Surreal~.

          We also skyped Drew for a bit, during which I mostly chatted with him about Star Wars (the new trailer came out while I was in Florence, so can we expect any less?), only to find out Connor and Emily hadn’t seen either of the new teaser trailers that had been released.  So we watched those too (they love me so much).






Mirror selfies (Emily and Sam just let us lay on their beds and watch the movies.  They are the best people ever).

The next morning after miraculously finding Tailor at the McDonald’s near the train station, we set off to have our full-on Lizzie Mcguire adventure, all in 1&1/2 days YEAH MAN.


We got to try “Gusto” Pizza, which was beyond better than anything I’ve ever eaten.


Connor got all scenic in front of the Ponte Vecchio.

          We went to the Pitti Palace again and we decided we wanted a very “Italian picture” on its hill.   Upon hopping the rail fence in order to get a good picture (rebelling is what we do best), we quickly scrammed from the premises in order to not get thrown in Italian jail and deported.  However, that meant Tailor and I making fun of Connor tripping while running, and then us falling completely on our faces right after.  And then me struggling to climb over the fence while my “friends” laugh at me.  Typical:



We got even more rebellious and scaled one of the bridges on the Arno and got these killer shots (before we were yelled at by mere commoners telling us what we were doing was illegal.  Yeah, okay, thanks peasants:


hi!


Connor loves us.


My best friends and a special appearance by Sarah Johnson-Foot!


We got gelato #6 afterwards, and it was “toooo mucchhh.”

Then we explored:



If you can’t tell, as a friend group, we like selfies.  So much in fact, that we even got harassed by a selfie-stick seller guy near the Duomo (he just knew):



Then we found fakeDavid and Connor seemed confused:

          There were a lot of statues nearby in the Palazzo della Signoria, which basically became our free museum (we just don’t like to spend money).  And because we are obnoxious and embarrassing Americans, we took 1000+ photos mimicking the statues.  Connor got obsessive and we had to get it just right, so struggles ensued:


Connor gets aggressive.


“We are the statue”

Tailor told Connor to strangle me (as usual).  And then of course, he did:

“One of my favorite things, is how Connor casually bullies Sarahj” – Tailor

Then we climbed to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo and it was perfect.  We shared a bottle of Prosecco, ate cheese & bread, and generally had our usual shenanigans while also taking a million pictures:

We are so cute.

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We even saw a wedding at the top and sighed over all the love surrounding us.


Taylor beckoned Connor to do “the Sarah” with her and the can’t-handle-this Emily.   Sigh.


Us and our closest 20 pals ❤


We are #goals

          It was again, so surreal, to be sitting with my best friends on top of all of Florence, watching the world around us.  But it was also sad, because the whole time we kept getting upset that Sibel and Alexis weren’t there.  So instead we just talked about them a lot, in order to make it feel like they were *sobbing* 😦  Miss you guys always.


After we had stared off into the city limits, we explored the nearby gardens (?) and found the Trevi fountain!


Tailor found love.


We found out what actually sunk the Titanic.


We also found a river-rat.   NOT a cat.  Not a cat, Tailor.

We later met up with Taylor A, Bailey, & her roommate Alyssa, at Dante’s – an Italian restaurant with delicious food and unlimited wine (how?).  Exhibit A:

NOCCHI

          We ended the night celebrating Connor’s 21st birthday at midnight!  That’s right, we planned our gang reunion around his special day (we totally did that on purpose, what are you talking about).  Taylor and I were flying out around 9pm the next day (meaning we’d have to leave Florence around 6), so we got in a few more adventures the next morning.

Sunday, April 19th: These adventures included getting a 1st lunch, which was 2 slices of pizza each, from a cafe.   There wasn’t much seating, so we headed to Santa Croce for a nice view and an area to eat.   Connor then came up with the brilliant idea for us to get our portrait commissioned in Florence, so that one day, the gang will be hanging up in the museums your peasant children will be touring in and viewing.   We’ll be timeless.




An epic movie poster picture was taken while the gang was contemplating what our poses would be in our portrait.


Our brains were overloaded with planning, so we stopped for my final gelato on our tour, and it was such a bittersweet ending.

          After, we stopped at a cafe where we all crowded around a small table and sipped on our varying coffees.  This was probably the greatest moment ever, because even though Connor refuses to tell it on my birthdays (even though I beg him to), he finally told the “Except for Ryan” story on his birthday.  And it was the greatest thing that’s ever happened, ever.



If you don’t know what the “Except for Ryan” story is, please ask any of us in the Gang about it, and we will gladly harass Connor for you, in order for him to tell it properly.   It’s worth it, I promise (maybe).

          And then because we are hungry beasts, we stopped for a 2nd lunch, at a place where I had the most delicious pasta ever (I’ve said that about every meal in Italy…).   I don’t have a picture of my dish (which Tailor said looked like worms.  I told her, no silly, it looked like intestines), but I do have a pic of Connor’s..?  Which was the same thing:



Nomz.

          I’d like to point out that Emily’s roomie, Sam, accompanied us this day and was a total rock star for putting up, and even being quite fascinated, by our friend group.  We literally spoke in our inside-joke language the whole day, laughed uncontrollably, and she even enjoyed hearing Connor tell the Ryan story.  Who does that?  Sam, you’re cool.



Also, she took took our portrait picture.   Just look at us:


          After all this fun, it was time for Tailor and I to leave the city of Firenze (friends?).  Connor would be flying out the next morning, but we had our flight at 9:15pm.  We said our tearful/awkward goodbyes and headed to the Pisa airport on a delightful bus ride, which included long life talks and motion sickness – all good things.

          The Pisa airport is super tiny & easy to navigate, however we found out our flight was delayed for about an hour (until 10:15pm) upon arriving, so we were super early.  We decided to head to our gate anyways to eat something and just chill.   This was both a mistake and an adventure considering our gate waiting area was the sketchiest place ever/there was one food option/NO OUTLETS/people were forming a coup around us and things were generally weird.   We sent selfies & snaps to our pals for help but they were 100% done with us:


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Come on guys. (Tailor is on le floor because that was the closest outlet at the time, until two workers took my phone into their back room and charged it for me……risks were taken)

          After arriving back in London and saying another sad goodbye to Tailor, it was already almost 1:30am.  Which meant I had two options: 1.) take the Gatwick Express back to Victoria station and then take a cab to my apartment from there (since the tube doesn’t open until 5:30am) or 2.) wait in the Gatwick Airport until about 4:30am, take the Express to Victoria, then take the tube home once it opened.

          I’m a super cheap, so guess who became besties with the Gatwick Airport for an all-nighter?  This of course included countless texts & selfies sent to my mother who told me at least a dozen times, “DO NOT FALL ASLEEP!!!!”

As if I’m not an expert at all-nighters, people, PLZ.

I also sent delirious snap chats to my Ginerva Weasley all night long, to which she probably thought I had lost it (I had, I had indeed lost it).

But alas my friends, 5:30am did roll around, and I arrived back to my good ol’ Shoreditch just as the sun was rising.   Sometimes, things are very much worth it:



Now, all jokes aside, I had the time of my life in Florence.

          This trip embodied one of those moments when you realize, it’s not so much where you are, or what you’re doing, it’s about the people you’re with.   And I could have honestly been in Alexis’ basement with the Gang, just talking about all these adventures, instead of actually being there having them, and I’d be having just as much fun.  Because those are the kind of friends they are, making every moment an adventure.

          I always think that hanging with the gang is like reading a good book: you always come back a little bit changed, a little bit more educated, a little bit more content with life.

End sap.

Cheers Xx, and until next time,
Sarahj ❤

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#TheGangIsAbroad2015 Part One

          Hi my people!  I’m super excited to update again, because I finally get to write about the official start of #TheGangIsAbroad2015 adventures (I mean they kind of started when I saw Connor in France but like, not really, maybe IDK).


          As promised, I told y’all I would eventually explain who and what “the gang” is.  Basically, it consists of my High School pals and I, who have amazingly stuck together since we graduated from said Roswell High School (in the town of Roswell…makes things easy to refer to).  But we have all known each other since Sweet Apple Elementary School/Heaven on Earth (and some even longer) – so maybe that’s why our bond is so strong & resilient (scientists are still working on the answer; we’ll keep you posted).

          If you hang with us for any certain amount of time, you’ll probably start to feel overwhelmed, scared, and maybe a teeny-tiny bit inferior.   That’s okay.   Don’t be alarmed; those are normal feelings to have when in our presence.  This is because we probably have more inside jokes than are normal for any friend group to have (it usually transitions into our own kind of language), and to put it plainly: we are the most absurd people I’ve ever met.

          Sure, sure, we know how to interact with regular people, and we take our place in the “norms” of society.  But we don’t really like to.   So when we all get together, hilarity & ridiculousness ensues that is worthy of its own tv show.

          I mean, we are starring in “The Truman Show”-esque reality series, “The Gang Meets World,” but we’re not supposed to know about that.   If you don’t know about it, it’s probably because you’re a part of it too, soz.


Anyways, we like to tell people we are the greatest friend group on earth. #AndThatsAFact

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A picture depicting a lot of things. (minus Johnny </3)

OKAY YAY introduction, fin.  Let's start with the beginnings of said adventures!

          After arriving back in London on the 5th, I relaxed, ate lots of food (some with Taylor A), and slept the majority of the three days between the 5th and the 9th – the day EMILY AND BAILEY arrived to stay with me for the weekend!!!

          If you are ever with both Emily and I, and ask us how we met, we’ll probably hook arms with each other and both say “We’ve known each other since 2nd grade,” at the exact same time, and give you a super big cheesy grin (this literally happens every time; we’re not sorry).

          But since my glue stick rolled its way to Emu in our 2nd grade class, we’ve been inseparable (minus a few Elementary school schedulings getting in our way UGH).   SO to say I was excited to see her is an understatement.

          She would be flying in with my college pal/sorority sister/kewl kiwi/FRAND Bailey, who so happens to be studying in Florence with Emily in the exact same program!!   WHAT?!   CRAZY SMALL WORLD.  It makes me get all like WOAH when my worlds collide like that, and the fact they became friends makes it even weirder when I see them in pics together on FB.  It’s also super cool and makes me happy.

          After picking them up at Liverpool station in the AM (they ran up behind me to surprise me and it was the cutest thing ever, you should’ve been there), we headed back to my apartment to drop their things off.   Then we headed to the lovely Oxford Street to meet up with Taylor Armstrong and go through the I-can’t-afford-this-stuff stores that glitter that street.   Bailey got to see the flagship store of TopShop, so basically we did what we needed to do.  We also saw Harrod’s later that day too, and for the 7th time, it has been confirmed to me, that I can literally only ever afford to buy tea from that store. #bless



We did get to go by the Buckingham & Kensington Palaces though, and I finally got to see the Kensington Gardens, since they are in season now:
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Emily and I are like, flawless.

The next day though we started out early to give Emily & Bailey the usual tour Taylor & I like to give of our city, starting out at Borough Market (le duh).   We always end up at the iconic photobooth too, for our regular photoshoots:

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The world called; we didn’t like what they had to say.

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We then headed to Abbey Road and Emily and Bailey killed it

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Taylor found inspiration from Lady GPhi

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Shut up Emily

We ended the night in Camden Town, going through the amazing markets there and ending up at a new Wetherspoons (aka The Masque Haunt), called “The Ice Wharf” – and it was fantastic.
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And Emily and I are the cutest.


          The next day (the 11th) was beyond great, because Taylor/Tailor (not the same as Taylor Armstrong), another Gang member, arrived from Oxford!  Taylor brings a whole other level of absurdity to our group, and a new & exciting adventure always comes about when she’s around.  I like to think of her as my evil twin, a title she holds dearly (it’s important to her that you know she is definitely the evil one).

BUT ONCE SHE ARRIVED, EVERYTHING GREAT& NERDY EVER HAPPENED THIS DAY.

Our first stop of the morning (after a necessary brunch at The Breakfast Club) was Baker Street (duh), where we did all the Sherlock things and embodied Benedict in every way possible.


Emily’s face gets to me.


Everyone’s face gets to me.


Tailor and her friend bear.

          After Baker Street, we headed to the nearby Regent’s park, where we snacked on our picnic lunches (*cough* subway *cough* – sans cheddar cheese tho ugh).  Everything was going great, until we were literally attacked by a rabid goose.  Emily and Taylor’s blog posts may say I insulted said goose, but in reality, I only told him to go back to Canada.   And then he started actually hissing at us.   What did I do?


Emily being peaceful by the water.


The goose approaches from the water.


A selfie was attempted.


Goose got defensive.


So we moved to safer grounds.


You can’t tell, but there are black swans in that big nest there.   Natalie Portman?


we are too kewl 4 u.

Afterward, we searched forever and ever to find the place where Benedict fell to his “death” on BBC’s Sherlock, and FINALLY found it.  Good things come to those who are persistent and obsessive.

The famous telephone booth: !!!!




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HAHAHA


FAMOUS SCENE


WE OBVI HAD TO DO THIS (I fall with my legs crossed).

          The next day, we headed to the Brick Lane area of East London, where I showed Emily & Tailor the epic street art that Owen showed us all those days ago on that mysterious free tour Other Taylor, Brittney, and I went on (WOAH).  It was super cool, and Emily used her super powers to find the “Sunday Up Market” nearby, where we got to eat a delicious crepe and coffee.  We even saw the po-po try and shut down a band playing on the street, and we rallied with our fellow comrades in telling them they should “let them play!”.  We don’t ask to be this cool, it just gets thrust upon us.


The view of Brick Lane.


What’s that?   Oh yes, people chilling in the windows, listening to the music from the live band.  What is life.


LET.  THEM.  PLAY.  #StandingUpToTheMan


As we left, we saw this.  No comment, and all the comments.

          Later that day, Taylor had to head back to Oxford (but we would be seeing her soon SO NO SADNESS).  We then joined Bailey and went into a cafe across the street from my apartment and chilled and ate dessert and then chilled in my room and it was all super chill.  We had to prepare for the next day when they would return to Florence and I would go with them (HECK YEAAHHH), so we had an early night by eating some fish & chips with Brittney and Taylor A in Shoreditch (pretty Ace if you ask me).




Us being chill.

          Well friends, I think I’ll continue #TheGangIsAbroad2015 adventures in a future post pt 2 coming to you super soon (maybe who knows), where things get crazy in Flo Town.  YAYAY stay tuned!  Cheers Xx

Ireland, you don’t know how to be anything but breathtaking 

          Hi family and friends!   IIIIII’M BAAAAAAAAACK!   ALREADY GUYS, I’M BACK !!!  WOAH I’m really catching up guys like MAN I’m ON FIRE~~~~~


What???, it’s not like I fell that far behind…

UGH FINE.

But can you blame me?

These Moriarty gifs have been brought to you by my insane jealously that Tailor Leer met him and Benedict a few weekends ago *screams* you go, taileer, 2 for you, taileer

          But we can carry on, and continue to try, can’t we?   I’m turning this into a life lesson, it’s fine.   Point is, I left off right when I got back to England from Paris, which was March 30th.  This basically left me one day to sleep in my own bed, listen to my English accents again, and do laundry before HOLLLAH:

Monica arrived the very next day, March 31st!!!  WHOOOO

          However, it wasn’t until the next day after that (April 1st) that Taylor and I got to truly show her around the city.  We happened to stumble upon lots of random places too.   London keeps surprising me each and every day, as it constantly reminds me that I’ll never see it all, and that’s how it’s supposed to be:


What even is this street?   Will I ever find it again?


Future apartment?


Much color.   Pastels all-consuming.

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We also found the Parent trap house and proceeded to have the most epic photo shoot in front of it ever.

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We know the secret handshake and it’s fine.   A body guard came to shoo us away after this pic, but that’s fine too.


Pretty things happen when I accidentally put the transfer filter on. #ChromeForLyfeDoe


Monica even got a pic in front of Sherlock’s place as a construction guy started putting up caution tape – WE ARE SUCH RISK TAKERS (THE GAME WAS ON).

          After such an awesome day of showing Monica around the city of dreams, we headed in for an early night due to the fact we had to get up around 4:00am the next morning to walk to Liverpool station to catch the train to the airport to catch our flight to ~*~*~*IRELAND*~*~*~ (we had a lot of catching to do).  In Ireland we had a scheduled bustour around Southern Ireland that we would be going on with Brittney and Anna as well – AHHHH FUN TIMES!

          Taylor spent the night so that she could walk with us & Brittney in the morning (she spent the night before that as well, because #friendship) – but because we are us, we kind of only got like 1 hour of sleep, if that.  So when we met Brittney downstairs at 4:00 for our trek to the station, we were all literal zombies.


Insert headphones.  Try not to cry (then cry).  Wait for the airport Pret.   Check.

          So after the train, the waiting in the airport, the 45 min flight on the lovely Ryanair (such lovely narrow aisles & in-your-face-advertising ❤ ), we finally arrived in Dublin!   Our bus tour didn’t start until the next day, so we found our hostel we had booked apart from the tour, and got settled in.   Anna was getting in a few hours later, so Brittney, Taylor, Monica, & I decided to explore around the city.

          Our first stop was a burrio/chipotle-esque dive that did not disappoint.   I also made a remark that the guy who took our orders sounded very American.   Everyone gave me a weird look saying, “no he was definitely Irish…”
          This was only the beginning of their accent throwing me off at so many different times.   It is one of the most unique I’ve heard, in that it is either completely unintelligible (I mean that in the best of ways, of course) or only certain words seem to be affected by it.  Go figure.


Your inscription says “Crattan,” but your face says “Lincoln.”


Angles and bookshops.


We also found Trinity College, which was super beautiful.


PANOOOO.


Princess Diary feels again.  (Gaelic style).


Up there is the library that one of the library scenes in Harry Potter was filmed (cost money to go up there, so guess where we stayed?).


Cool building?  IDK.


Everyone was like “Sarah, why are you taking a picture of that bridge?”  Because it’s a freakin’ cool bridge, that’s why.  LOOK AT IT.

          As soon as Anna got in, we met up with her at the hostel where she dropped her stuff off right away, because we had a Guinness Factory Storehouse tour to attend~*~*~

          Now, in case you didn’t know, since trying beer over here, I have found it quite disgusting.  And Guinness, especially.  Because, LE EW.  BUT I obviously couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to tour where it all began here, and see what makes the stuff so special (still waiting for that answer but, ya know).

I took loads of pics of it, but most probably wouldn’t make sense to anyone because the lighting was so dim in the place (lots of videos accompanied the tour) – so I’ll just leave a few random ones here:


Look at all of these barrels.


We are the epitome of perfect advertising (our cups runneth over clearly).


But we’ll never be as good as a fish on a bicycle.


And because it’s such a pretentious drink, there’s a specific way to pour the dang thing (lookin’ at you Taylor Armstrong, and your obsession).


We did though get to go to the “skybar” and get THIS awesome view of Dublin.   ‘Twas quite delightful.


And then we obviously got our complimentary glass of Guinness.  Ew. *holding back vomit*


YAyyy

          On April 3rd, our bus tour with Shamrockers started in the early morning, and so began the next three greatest days of my trip, basically.   Here are all the pics documenting it all – ENJOY:


On our way out of Dublin, our tour guide Dave (you’ll hear lots about him), said this was the James Joyce bridge!  College-Sophomore-year Sarah squealed, because she read “Dubliners” by Joyce in her Irish Literature class, and suddenly it all seemed worth it ❤


Many of you may be like “UGH you took a bus around southern Ireland?  Wasn’t that uncomfortable?”  BUT GOOD FRIENDS, NO ‘TWAS NOT!  Maybe being in the company of pals makes things a lot better, but look at our comfy bus and our friendship exploding in this picture above.


Our first real stop of the tour was at The Rock of Cashel Castle.   It was naturally under construction, so we couldn’t go in, but we could scale the walls around it, so I mean, same thing.


Adventure is out there.


Prettyyyy


Dave told everyone to try and mimic the statue behind us.   “try”

          Our second stop was Blarney castle in the iconic town of Blarney.   Lots of you may recognize the name from the Blarney stone, which if kissed, gives you the “gift of gab.”   Whether that is true or not didn’t really matter to me, because the castle grounds were unlike anything I had ever seen before.   I literally felt like I had walked right into a fairytale:


I was like can we picnic here forever or nah..??


Too much pretty for my heart to handle.


Sittin’ by the river.


Because some peasants don’t get it.

          Before we got off the bus, Dave warned us that the guy who holds you when you kiss the stone could get a “bit handsy” and to not be alarmed.   UGH SOME PEOPLE ARE THE WORST SOMETIMES.  Luckily, I didn’t get the guy he was talking about, so all is well, but can’t a girl kiss a stone 100 feet in the air in peace?


Not being awkward, just getting gifted and smoochin’ a stone.


Exploring the castle and taking breaks in between the 100 staircases


Poisonous gardens?  Monica let’s get a pic in it! – us


Anna felt much love for this place.  Taylor threw some shade.  same ol, same ol.


This was my Secret Garden moment, and I started crying nearly when we walked into this place (you can’t tell but there is a waterfall right around the corner).


Blurry pic, but the memories are crystal clear.

After Blarney, we ended the day stopping at the National Park in Killarney, where we were spending the night. I felt like we were literally in Downton Abbey and were heading in for a late dinner after, because there was this massive mansion on the premises and it was just SO cool.


Casual.

TOO MUCh.  I REPEAT TOO MUCH.  There were attractive (or as Brittney & Anna & I want to believe) Irish guys playing football there too and it was all too much.


You can’t make this stuff up.


I want this forever.


This is most definitely the boat house that Jason (Jason’s mom?) took all his victims to.  Jsay.

That night, apparently all the pubs were closed in Killarney due to Good Friday (that’s cool they do that there), so Dave set up live music and a story-teller at the hostel to give our tour entertainment for the night.  The music was wonderful, the story-teller was very much a character (And drank like, 5 pints of Guinness during his session…#Irish), and it overall was a great night.


Monica literally fell in love with this guy.


This guy was super great too.


And their manager was literally Miles Teller from Footloose – LOOK.

          After the singers had sung their coffee-house-esque tunes and the storyteller had, er, worn out his welcome (offensive doesn’t begin to describe him, but hey), the few of us that continued to chill in that common room all circled around and chatted with the singers and their Miles Teller manager, about our countries, about music, about life.   At one point, I even got to play the second guy’s guitar and shock all my friends with the fact that I know how to play guitar.

          Apparently I don’t tell people that??   Sorry??  Anyways, I played “I’d Lie” by Taylor Swift for them, to which Dave was like “That’s Feckin’ Shakespeare right there, am I right?” in his drunk Irish accent.  I kept trying to explain to them all that I’m no good at singing and playing at the same time, so second-singer guy played the chords while we sang our favorite 7th grade (or rather, life) TSwift song.   It was a moment for the books I must say.

The next day started early and packed in the most adventures and views I’ll never forget.   We stopped at this random Beach off of the Dingle peninsula, and it was super pretty.


During the hours on the bus, the unreal views never stopped.  We even saw a freaking RAINBOW.  A RAINBOW IN IRELAND.  Nothing like God’s promise shining over a literal PC desktop background.


We stopped at this little house off the coast, where the lady who played Tom Cruise’s mom in one of his movies with Nicole Kidman, lives (I CAn’t REMEMBER WHICH MOVIE AND It’S KILLING ME).   Her name was Mary and you could pay 2 euro to tour her land, but we are so cheap and instead stuck to her front yard view.


The free view.

The next stop was another beach on the peninsula, and it was beyond perfect.


Taylor and I goof off on the edge of paradise.


The sand shows how delicate and precise everything was made here in Ireland.


A view I could get used to.


Posin’


*crying*


*crying more*

          After, our next stop was the most westward point on the Dingle Peninsula, with America being straight across the ocean from the top of the hill we climbed.   And man, oh man.  It was my favorite thing I’ve ever seen before.  I can’t express how much it brought tears to my eyes, how much it felt like a home I had always known but never been to before.   One I’ve longed for my whole life.

Here are my favorite pictures ever:


America is behind me!  Two “homes” in one!


I cry just looking at this beauty.  That is all.   I can’t put it into words, as hard as I try.

We stopped at various places afterward, seeing the town of Kerry for lunch, and then onward on the bus with all our international friends we had made.

IMG_8477
The restaurant we went to was even called “Moriarty’s” so really, this is all coming full circle.

And I got to try Shepherd’s Pie FINALLY – which I had really only heard about from various tv shows, including “Arthur,” when D.W. wouldn’t eat spinach but ate it in her masterpiece of a dish, Shepherd’s Pie and everyone lost their cool:


What even.

Turns out it is just meat and potatoes though, but like…

My sweet Irish Prince has spoken for the both of us.


Cows and Irish green pastures.


ugh.


What even is this country?


On the next and final day (April 5th), we stopped at this cave-like place that people go to in order to make a wish to the fairies of Ireland.   you’re supposed to dip something in the pool inside the cave, and then tie it around the tree outside.   I dipped a strand of my hair in the water, but then dropped it in, probably making the fairies forever mad at me, but like, oops.


The tree outside the cave.

NEXT were the Cliffs of Mohr, which you’ve probably heard of, but DID YOU KNOW that the cave in the Half-Blood Prince film was located there?  THAT’S IT RIGHT THERE:


(better view) NOW YOU KNOW.   Harry found Voldemort’s fake horcrux in there, dang.


We take good pics.


Sent this to my parents LOL.


Monica getting Artsy with her photog. skillz.


Statue with an epic Game-of-Thrones-raven flying by.  Chyeah.

Then we went to the rocks that The Deathly Hallows part 1 was filmed on, the part where Ron had just left them, and Harry and Hermione leave and Hermione is all crying and sad because the love of her life (say it with me, Jo) is gone:

You know the one.
Anyways this is where that heartbreaking scene was filmed (even though it doesn’t look like it):


We are all Harry and Hermione.


IT’S THE DROP OFF, NEMO (there were some people casually rock-climbing to right of this picture).

          After a long and unforgettable 3 day journey, we made our way to the town of Galway, but unfortunately couldn’t stay with the tour on the way back to Dublin, because we somehow booked our flight for 6:30, and the tour ended in Dublin at 5:30 (OH OOPS???).   So we took a coach back to the airport directly from Galway and made it with plenty of time to spare HOORAY!   That was of course after we bought a whole pizza for ourselves, found out we couldn’t eat it on the coach, and then stuffed it all in our faces in the middle of the train station, standing up and all.   Sigh.   When will the travesties end?

          But anyways, the bus ride back was glorious and we even got a pic with Dave before we headed off.  *Tear in eye*

          What can I say about Ireland?   Again, not much of it can be put into words.   To put it simply and honestly, the memories I take from that trip – from the moments with some of my best friends, from the new friends from around the world we met, from the views I couldn’t even imagine before I saw them myself – those memories are unlike any other I’ve had on this experience as a whole, and I mean that 100%.  England has brought me so much.   London, the city I want to spend my life in, is irreplaceable.   But Ireland seems like the retreat – the getaway, the paradise to go to when things get all-consuming & over-whelming.  

          Like I said before, Ireland is the home I didn’t realize I wanted, and the one I hope to return to someday.  So in conclusion: thank you, Ireland.


Until then, Ireland, Skadoosh! ❤   Craic 90 (look up what that means).

A Magical Week: Princesses, Paris, & Disney OH MY

          Hi friends, family, and strangers!  I’m baaaaack and sticking to my word on keeping these steady updates coming at you.  Try and keep up, sheesh.

          So after an eventful weekend with Pooj, Monday March 23rd rolled around, meaning I had my supposed last “Other Worlds” class.  “Supposed,” because when I got to the class, my teacher decided to drop the bomb on me that our “revisions” class (our study/”overview” class) was actually going to be scheduled for next week’s regularly timed class period.

          You see, in our “Module Handbooks” (British-speak for Syllabus), she had written that our revisions class would happen at a later date in the semester, whenever she decided was right.   Looks like she was super creative and chose the same time and date as our normal class periods.

          That’s all good and dandy, Teach – but I kind of assumed you’d choose a random day in May – NOT the Monday I would be arriving home from France – a plane ticket I had bought long ago, plans I had cemented a month earlier when I thought we didn’t have a class that day.

At this point I’m like…

          The reason I blurt all this out to you guys, is because after calling my mom (happens during every major and minor breakdown), emailing my teacher, explaining the confusion, telling myself I’m such an idiot, figuring out it was all okay, my teacher being an angel, and then calling my mom back up to tell her that sarahj had prevailed yet again (only for her to be like “you’re an idiot”), I stopped and looked up.

          I realized the place I had decided to pace back and forth in front of was just down the street from my classes – a tall and historic church I had been assigned to write about months earlier in the semester.  All Saints Church – it is so peaceful and the nice little courtyard in front of it is so lovely.   I then kind of zoned out after I stressed to the max for a problem that could easily be solved.  After I stared and took some pics, I decided the only obvious choice afterward was tea at my fave place, Benugo.  A huge pot of tea for like 1.75 pounds, y’all.   That’s as good as it gets in Londontown.


This is what welcomes you when you first stumble upon the church.




The view. The people. The tea. London.

Tuesday, March 24: Brittney and I ate at the Breakfast club because WHY NOT.



Wednesday, March 25: Brittney texted me the day before, saying there was a “Cinderella Exhibition” in town (aka at Leceister Square in London) for the new movie coming out.  I was like “um I’m so there, how much?” and she said the magical words: “It’s Free.”



          All we had to do was reserve tickets online, print them out, and arrive at a certain time on Wednesday.   Because Swarovski sponsored the whole thing (and like, made the glass slippers for the film), everything was princessy, sparkly, and magical.




Original 1950’s movie memorabilia ❤


Lady Tremaine/Cate Blanchett


MICE.   GUS GUS.  JACK.


Bellatrix having her Glinda moment


Through the pumpkin…


…And out of the carriage!


First glimpse of the mesmerizing slipper *heart eyes emoji*


THIS PICTURE DOESN’T DO IT JUSTICE GO TO MY INSTA AND WATCH THE TWIRLING VID OF IT AND CRY OKAY


I’m that peasant that no one invited to the ball who is crashing on this love fairytale whaddup


Look at Robb Stark being a babe


Look at me being creepy with Robb Stark being a babe


IT’S.  SO.   PRETTY.


haha.   haha.

          I used to always complain to my mom that Cinderella got too much attention compared to the other fave princesses of mine (Belle, Ariel..).  But really, Cinderella is just living her life.  She’s wishing things would get better, but still singing her own tune when everything is kind of crappy.  And it’s nice to see her get her happy ending in the end (and feel all mushy inside because of it).

Friday, March 27th: On this day, Brittney and I made our journey to PARIS!!!  WHAT how surreal is that, right?!  It’s so strange knowing and learning about a place your whole life, and then casually finally going there.  I was super pumped and slightly less stressed about the whole trip because I had earlier messaged my “friend” Connor, who is studying abroad there this semester, asking him if he could meet up with us/show us around/translate for us/be a general pal.

          To those who are unaware, I use quotations around the word “friend,” because while Connor may be 1/6 of the greatest friend group on earth (“The Gang” – I’ll explain them more in later posts), and a crucial addition at that, we also kind of hate him 3/4 of the time because he’s just the worst type of person.

We say that jokingly/out of love – kind of?   Idk.   Ugh, whatever.   Connor can stay/Alaska can come too.

If anything, we can thank him for coining the nickname “sarahj” in 7th grade.   Thanks Connor.

          Either way, after we arrived in Paris around 8:00pm, Connor said he could meet us under the Eiffel Tower around 9:00pm (HOW CASUAL IS THAT RIGHT?!).  As soon as we found the tower, the light show that happens every hour on the hour had begun.  It was amazing to turn the corner and see it lit up all dazzling-like, the first moment I ever saw it in real life.


Casuallll.


We then made our way down the bridge to find Connor

          After running into him on the bridge (again, all of this is SO casual), we were finally reunited and beneath the humongous tower.   I kept staring up at it in awe, kind of confused at myself.  It’s like I simultaneously expected it to be ridiculously large as it was appearing to be, right in front of me – and yet, I also felt like it was not upholding to that same vision in my head.   I think that it was both the surreal feeling of the moment and the fact that I had never done much research on the tower before, that led to my mixed up emotions.

          Connor then gave us a few options: we could pay lots to take an elevator up the tower half way, pay a little to go half way using the stairs, or pay even more to go ALL the way to the top (via an elevator because there are no stairs to the tippy-top).  That’s not exactly how he explained it all, but regardless, we chose the cheapest option (le duh), and paid 4 euros (NOT POUNDS I REPEAT NOT POUNDS) to go halfway up.  Connor said this was probably the best decision, because when you go to the very top, the city apparently looks like an ant’s city.   Or so his French-mom says.

          After an insightful French history lesson from Connor the whole way up (he’s a pot of knowledge about like, everything) and what seemed like a never-ending stairs journey, we finally made it to the top!

Le view with us blocking it:


We’re so cute.


Connor and I are uncomfortable at best.

          After exploring as much as we could get out of our 4 well-spent euros, we headed back down to get a crepe and wait for the light show to start again (it began while we were making our way down, so we had an hour to kill before it started yet again).

          We walked a little farther away from the tower to find reasonably priced crepes, and waited in line for a place that looked promising.  However, Connor said it looked like they weren’t making the crepes fresh anymore (instead pulling from a pile of already-made crepes), so I got to witness Connor argue with the crepe-maker in French for a solid half-minute, begging the man to make fresh crepes.   Connor lost the argument, but it went something like this:

“LE lksjfdkljf LE LES jdsk CREPE aksjdflks LE CREPE J’ACCUSE” ~ probably

          Either way, the nutella & banana crepe Brittney and I got was fantastic (Connor refused to buy a non-fresh crepe), and we strolled along the river and took pics waiting for the light show to start again.  Connor argued the light show isn’t as good as the Laser Show at Stone Mountain in GA – but is anything, really?


So glowy and sparkly.


“Friends”

          So after a successful first night, it was nearly midnight, and we all needed to get some rest before our official Paris adventure the next day.  We parted ways with Connor (which in hindsight was a bad idea), and made our way to our hostel.  Unfortunately on the way back, nearly next to a busy street mind you, two big guys decided it would be okay to practically kidnap us and grab us mid-walk – 10 feet from our hostel, again, mind you.  FUN TIMES – I had that “fight or flight” thing going on (I chose flight), until I realized that Brittney was in one of the men’s grasps, and I sprinted back and yelled “NO” at the guy, yanked Brittney out of their arms, and we could have literally won a medal with how fast we ran back to the hostel.   I feel bad for the men smoking outside the hostel doors, because as we opened the doors, one of them said “Hi” to me, and I looked him in the eye and said sternly, “NO.”



Like I actually said that to his face.  I guess I was just not on good terms with the French male species anymore, SOZ.

Also why am I using so many Adventure Time gifs?

          Connor agreed to walk us home after that.   oops.  The good news is the hostel was super awesome and upgraded us to a private two-bedroom room for no extra cost, so you know, still #winning amirite? *nervous laughter*

Saturday, March 28th (SIBEL’S BIRTHDAY YAYAYAY): We had decided the night before to meet Connor at the Louvre the next morning, so on the way there, Brittney and I picked up breakfast at an authentic Parisian cafe.   I devoured the most delicious croissant I’ve ever had before we even made it on the metro.




Blurry pic, but all of the goods were delish-looking.


We met Connor outside where the huge pyramid entrance is, and took typical tourist pics while we waited for him.

          Fun fact: behind the pyramid was a queue longer than any other queue I’ve ever seen before.  Brittney and I were gulping to ourselves as we waited for Connor, because queuing in that queue seemed sad and scary.

          But when Connor arrived, he decided to be both French and a best “friend”, and got us in FO FREE and led us to a non-existent queue for students in the EU (which our Visa wouldn’t really cover, but he says “As long as you act like you know what you’re doing, you can get anywhere in France.”   I can confirm that this statement is true).


The Lourve was MASSIVE.   And Connor was right when he said you really could go back multiple times and still not see half of it.

          We made our way first to check the Mona Lisa off our list. Connor warned us she is super small, there would be loads of people crowding her, and we probably wouldn’t get a good view if we didn’t push and shove. I think since I had heard so many times before how underwhelming she is, I wasn’t too disappointed when I finally saw her. I didn’t push or shove mostly because she would be tiny no matter how close you tried to get. It was still SUPER cool to see her in person though:


          Ahem.  If you know me, you know I love Napoleon Bonaparte.  Connor likes him too – in fact, we had a showdown over him once in AP Euro when we both wanted to do a project on him.  I won.   But Connor isn’t bitter (supposedly), and he showed me every single portrait/painting/relevant piece of work about Napoleon in the Louvre and I was probably drooling and fangirling way too hard.   But like, guys…NAPOLEON.

Blogging sarahj thought for a moment “hey, do they really want to see a crappy picture of every painting of Napoleon, c’mon sarahj.”
But then blogging sarahj thought again, “Um, yeah, yeah they do, sarahj, get with it.”






Oh my goodness he is so majestic I want to cry.

          Since we wouldn’t be able to make it out to Versailles, we instead got to see Napoleon III’s apartments in the Louvre, which Connor said was similar.



“Is it time for mirror selfies?  Yeah?”:



And I’m sorry – what’s that?
  Oh yeah, Napoleon I made his brilliant appearances yet again:





And…Lady Liberty? Of course.

          After we left the Louvre, we made our way to the Opera House, Palais Garnier, FROM PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.   HOLD SCREAMS.  AHHHH.   We didn’t want to spend money to go inside it (although I still can’t tell if I’m regretting this…), so we lived vicariously through Connor’s pics and then stared at the outside for a while and took lots of photos.

 Connor: “be theatrical.”

          After, we headed to a place I had been waiting to go all day…NAPOLEON’S TOMB AHHHHH (because he hasn’t been in this post enough already).  He is buried at Les Invalides (sp?), which is a church and a museum.  Connor got us in here for free too because FRENCH FRIEND.


The outside is magnificent looking – should be too, since it holds NAPOLEON within it.


When you first walk in, there is this huge spherical hole in the center.   Connor carefully led us around it, saying, “we’ll get to that in a bit,” and I was oblivious to the whole thing, taking in the place without much thought to the gigantic hole.


CEILINGS.  THEY’RE COOL.


We really like scale models of things.

          After we looked all around the place, Connor was like “OKAY NOW WE CAN LOOK AT THE HOLE” and it was the best surprise ever because BAM:


NAPOLEON’s TOMB STRAIGHT UP CHILLIN’.


AND THEN WE GOT TO GO DOWN WHERE IT IS AT AND THERE ARE JUST LOTS OF NAPOLEON STATUES AND CARVINGS ON THE WALLS AND IT WAS SO COOL.


LOOK.  HOW.  COOL.


The Napoleonic Code is law.

          After we left my man’s burial site, we were hungry enough to stop in a cafe and eat a sandwich on a BAGUETTE and then have an eclair for dessert.  So authentic.  We decided we wanted some daytime Eiffel Tower pics as well:


Awkward friendship is awkward.

We decided to head to the Arc de Triomphe and climb it and FOR FREE again because Connor was being super cool:



Again, we really like scale models.

          We climbed to the top, and watched the cars circling around the Arc nearly get in accidents but then NOT because Europeans know how to do things so well.  We watched that probably longer than we should have – but the view was splendid:



          Then, we went to the famous Love Lock bridge, only to see that nearly all the locks were covered with wooden planks…?   It’s fine, Paris, love is dead?  But Connor and I waved to that boat in this picture and people on it were so excited to wave back, so love is all around actually.   DAW:





Makin’ it weird.

          Then we went to (the Hunchback of) Notre Dame and it was super dooper cool to see the setting of one of my fave movies.   I told Connor he had to watch it asap because he’s in Paris, duh (and I also wanted to learn if the architecture in the film was accurate time-period-wise, and I knew he would pay attention to that).




Connor made me take this offensive picture, okay.

          Across the way, we also found this famous bookshop called “Shakespeare and Company” where aspiring writers can apparently live for free, to just like, write – and all they have to do is work in the shop…?   Dude, idk, but the inside was super cool – we just couldn’t take pictures, so here’s a nice exterior shot:



Oh look!  A cute boy perusing through books!

          By then, it was nearly dinner time, and Connor had made reservations with some of his other friends in his program at this Fondue Place near the “Sacré-Cœur.”  I had to look up how to spell that, but basically it’s this church that looks like a Mosque, and is really high up and you can see the whole city from it.   Killer.

          We went to the fondue place, met Connor’s super cool friends (two of whom were GPHIS from the other USC hollah!) and literally had wine in baby bottles…I don’t get it either, but hey, when in Paris:




New friends!


Uncomfortable.

          After fondue and parting ways with the new friends, Connor took us up to the church at the highest point in Paris.   Also at this point, my phone died.   So I literally have no pictures from my favorite moment in Paris. *CRIES*

          Except not really *cries* because I don’t really think a camera could capture the view.   After walking up tons of stairs, we finally made it to the church.  We even got to pop in for a split second and see a sermon taking place.   Right below it, however, there were stairs leading down to a balcony-like area where lots of people were all chilling on the steps – either drinking, smoking, laughing, playing music, or generally just having a good time.

          And the view from the balcony was breathless.  The weather was amazing – crisp with just a bit of wind, the atmosphere was happy and carefree, and the view really proved that Paris is the “city of lights.”   I didn’t want to leave that view, but as we proved from the day before – walking home was going to need Connor’s assistance, and it was time to head back.

          I know there was so much more to do in the city, but I feel pretty proud of the fact we did SO much all in one day, and nearly all FOR FREE.  FOR FREE.  For that I have to thank Connor and his splendid French skills.  And even though we joke that he can be the worst person ever, it was still really great to see a “friend” I’ve had since elementary school after being away from home for several months, and have him show us around his city.   Dawww.

Sunday, March 29th: Brittney and I kept talking about going to Disneyland Paris and then BOOM we did it.   It was rainy and a bit windy, but man, did that not at all take away from our excitement.  I’ve only ever been to Disney World, not Disneyland – but from what I’ve heard, Disneyland is smaller and quainter – a bit out of the time period that Walt had set it in.  Disneyland Paris was quaint and European as well – very small of course, but it was just as happy as any other Disney park.





          Something I did notice that was different however, was that not everything was overdone like it is in America.  Everything you looked at wasn’t vomiting Disney.  Some of the attractions didn’t go 110% of the way like I excepted them to.   This wasn’t necessarily bad – just very different.   The rides were GREAT though and everyone around me was happy and I was just so happy and Brittney and I couldn’t stop smiling.

          I also got all teary-eyed seeing all the kids with their parents on their family vacations.  I found myself staring at families interacting with each other – the parents scolding the kids, the kids laughing and getting away with it all because DISNEY, their eyes widening at each new attraction/character – the parents smiling in delight at seeing their kids experience it all.   Again, it’s one of those nostalgic/wishful feelings, and it only added to my trip to this Disney park.








Show must go on, rain or shine!


These are words in my vocabulary.


We’re all mad here, growing curiouser and curiouser.


Who….ARE YOU?


Did part of presentation on this very race happening right hurr.


We spent a lot of time taking pics in Alice’s Wonderland maze apparently.


Lovely view ❤


Will we ever escape this Labyrinth?


The Mad Hatter to my March Hare


The Peter Pan ride meant visiting home again 😉


SKULL ISLAND


Can I call you AL or maybe just DIN? Or how about LADDIE?!


Pretty views.


Brittney is like, ridiculously obsessed with Snow White (as she should be), and when she saw the feather of a Prince, we ran straight towards them only to see them LEAVING out of our grasp!  Poor Brittney.  So close yet so far.


A French C-3P0!  What was really cool is nearly every ride was half in French and half in English – much like the employees who were ridiculously bilingual and could switch over in a split second.


NEVER FEAR because we saw Snow White again with her Prince at the end in the parade!


Best day EVER.

          If you know me, you probably know that I like Disney.   A lot.  There is obviously something so magical about Disney as a whole – and being at any Disney Park only amplifies those nostalgic feelings.   And that’s truly what Disney is all about.

          Disney has brought me so many happy memories: quoting every single movie, whether obscure or not, that I can remember with my mom – laughing until we cried, my dad probably confused as to what we were saying.  Watching Aladdin (or any movie) 7 times in a row on some days – hitting rewind on the VCR over and over again, the genie never growing old.  Watching Lion King (the best of the best), and like most 90’s kids, holding my pet of choice up in the air for an unreasonable amount of time, belting out “The Circle of Life” – until my Mom yelled at me because I’d “hurt Sugar.”   Well maybe Sugar should have grown larger and tried harder to not be the appropriate Simba-size. #shade

          Disney has always been a fall-back – something that never changes.  It’s been a constant in my – and nearly everyone’s – life.   You can always go back to a film, to a memory – and every character is always waiting for you, exactly the same as they were before – each your very own Peter Pan.   My first movie in theatres was Hercules.  I learned most of my vocab from Disney films – confusing at first, understanding more and more as I grew older.  I grew up dreaming about Prince Charmings and woodland creatures because of the plethora of Princess movies that have been around since my parents were young.  My senior year gift was to go to Disney World again with my parents for a weekend.  But as much criticism as the company can get, Disney is still one of the happiest and purest things from my childhood I can turn to.

          It inspires; it encourages; it teaches you that you can do anything – dream any dream.  In each and every movie there is a moral lesson and a new thing to take from it.  So by being in a Disneyland park once again, it was confirmed to me yet again, that Disney truly is the happiest place on earth.

          Gonna go watch a Disney classic now, good gravy.   But anyways, if you made it through all those pictures and ramblings, thanks for sticking around!  I’ll be updating again SUPER soon on Ireland and then ITALIA.  STAY TUNED YAYAY.

Cheers Xx,

sarahj

Feel all the feelings; have all the adventures

          Hi guys.   I did it again.   I literally waited a whole month to update.  The crowds have grown restless.  The courts are in uprising.  The government has collapsed.  The people are singing.   And yet, I will write.


I’m still here.

          I’m the worst blogger ever.  I literally have SO much to update on, it’s making my head spin.   I’ve been to three countries since I last posted, and there is no written documentation to prove it (so like, did I even go amirite??).   AND BECAUSE I SAID I’D DOCUMENT IT ALL, I’m going to post literally 400 consecutive entries (not sure how quickly or when) telling you the whole shebang.

Because you deserve it, dear readers.

          I’m going to start my first catch-up-post with my adventures that took place all the way back in Mid-March (like right after Ginny left me – so that’s a long, long, long time ago *cries*).  These adventures are fantastic because they involve Shakespeare (HELP ME *faints*), castles (ooh lala), GOOGLE & Youtube (not doing okay y’all), and a princess (heyyy pooj) ❤   Raise your hand if that almost sounded like the closing letter to The Breakfast Club?   Yeah?

          Okay, so I last posted about March 11th (a Wednesday)…SOOO that means we can skippe-doo-dah day over that following Thursday and Friday and take the Tardis back to SATURDAY MARCH 14TH HUZZAH!  This day was beyond great – in fact, it might be one of my faves.   It was honestly just so pleasant – this trip was one of our last ISA excursions (moment of reflection) & was to both Stratford-Upon-Avon & Warwick Castle.

          WAIT HOLD THE PHONE what’s Stratford-Upon-Avon, you ask??!   It’s okay if you don’t know, but it is only casually the birthplace of the most famous playwright & poet in all of the world.   WILLY SHAKESPEARE.  LET’S TRY TO CONTAIN OUR CHILL, IF WE CAN.

It has been confirmed we cannot contain the chill.

          Let’s just say the quaint town of Stratford can also not find its chill either, because since it is really only known for giving the world Mr. William, the town literally plasters his face all over the dang place – but I think I speak for everyone when I say that that is 100% okay.

          Anyways, when we got to town, the place is up and down screaming SHAKESPEARE at us, and I’m nearly crying, and then we are told our first stop is his childhood home AKA where he was literally birthed.   Like the bed he was actually born on (that’s phrased uncomfortably, but also like whaaaa).

guys.

guys.

Okay but before we entered the house, we walked through the Shakespeare Museum, which was filled with loads of goodies that center all around, you guessed it: Willie S.





All of Will’s works



Hamlet, the greatest of all
After the museum, we got to see Shakespeare’s actual childhood home – and it was SO cool.


GUYS HE WAS BORN ON THIS OKAY IT’S NOT OKAY?!>??>?



I signed to show that my love for William is eternal.

          After his home, we got to peruse the massive gift shop filled with every single piece of Shakespeare trivia and literature you could ever want.   I got an insults mug (um duh. Tailor Leer inspired me.), a hamlet pin, and a postcard – the necessities.




We saw this too, and I loled.   “Doctor Who?   That is the question.”

          We then got to walk around the town, and it most definitely didn’t disappoint.  When we drove in, we noticed that near the River Avon, there are statues set up, including ones of William himself and then of his most famous characters.  After we finished shopping, I made it a bit clear that I HAD to go see these statues because like WHAT IF HAMLET was there and I could take a non-creepy picture with him?   Because we all know that Hamlet is the greatest play Shakespeare ever wrote, and that Hamlet is a babe one of the most complex/confusing/amazing characters Shakespeare ever created.

          FUN FACT: one time on a Wednesday, Sophomore year at USC, I was holding off on writing my 10-page research paper on Hamlet for my “Books of the Western World” class, because I thought my paper was due the following Friday.

          19 year old Sarah was wrong, and she ended up having to write ALL TEN PAGES of the RESEARCH paper the night before.  I realized my mistake at 9pm that night, so that meant NO sleep for sarahj and crying most of the all-nighter.

          But I got all my sources from the online USC library, wrote a KILLER paper on how Hamlet’s mother controls all of his actions, made it to the class that next morning to turn it in, and then took my final exam for the class.  I remember writing down actual delusional gibberish on the exam, but I got a 95 on the paper, so who is the real winner here?   Me.

          I write this to confirm to y’all that Hamlet and I have a history (dating back to Sophomore year at RHS come to think of it…), and it was only necessary to find THIS statue and show my love for him.




Dat’s Shakespeare, y’all.


The river was all around us during our statue findings, and it was so lovely.

          After, we went to walk around the town more, discovered it was the cutest place ever, then stopped into a pub for a DELICIOUS STEAK SANDWICH that wasn’t even that expensive?!?!   That’s the great thing about hanging with other students: they’re all broke too, so minimum payment for food is a must when searching for our end-goal-restaurant.



These are some pics of the town and the church we explored too:





          Our time eventually ended in Statford, but I would honestly love to visit it again & again when I’m back in England one day.  As I left, the joker from lots of Shakespeare’s plays (King Lear, Hamlet [YORIK]) seemed to heckle in my face, but I was so literature-happy, I didn’t care ❤

          Next stop for the day was Warwick Castle, which may not be a familiar name for many, but it’s the place where you can see the Peacock Gardens and marvel at how they won’t open their wings for you.   Sound familiar?

          This Castle may be one of my favorites.   It had such a presence of the medieval world it was from, all the while having bustling people looking up in awe at it.   Around the grounds of the castle, there were lots of little skits, activities, and food stands for the whole family.  It was basically a renaissance fair in America, but with an actual bloomin’ castle in the background because Not-America.

          We had the best time exploring the entirety of the castle, including climbing up all of its steep staircases in order to see the breathtaking views from the top.  Every time I walk through these amazing relics of the past, I’m reminded that so many did before me.   Not just the tourists, but the actual people who called these places home.   The wonder of this castle wasn’t lost on me:












This peacock is all “Not today peasants”


I had to leave America to finally see a bald eagle in real life.
“These birds are native to North America…”
No sir, these birds are native to ‘Merica.



          Tuesday March 17th: I had a nice revelation on St. Patty’s Day.  We went to the eccentric Soho (in case you’re wondering, I still don’t know what Soho stands for or means) part of central London for a night out to celebrate the Irish holiday, and had a pretty decent time.  But when I got home, I was starting to feel a little down.   During the days surrounding that night, I had personally started to get into this little funk.   Like, I was sad for no particular reason at all – and when this happens to me, I get even more upset about it this fact.   Hello, I’m abroad!   I’m so grown up!   I’m having the TIME OF MY LIFE – Sarah, why are you feeling sad in this moment, ya noob?!  

Emotions are a complicated mess.

          And when you are thrown into a new & exciting situation for a long period, it’s easy to think that they should be okay months in, 100% of the time during your once-in-a-lifetime adventures.  But that’s just not true.  Even if you go into each day with the brightest of smiles, you’re going to feel sad sometimes.  You’re going to have down days.  And as I heard on my first day of orientation, “You just have to expect these feelings.   You just have to ride them out.   That’s how it gets better; that’s how you move on.”

          Best darn piece of advice I ever did hear about Study Abroad.   But what really made this night awesome was that when I got back in around nearly midnight, I pulled out my “Jesus Calling” book (a book full of scriptures and written-out words for daily devotions) for some inspiration and helpful words of advice.

          And here’s the thing: in my mind, I totally said “yeah, yeah, let’s see if the scripture and words picked for today’s date are even accurate for my life right now…” sarcastically, not expecting to be moved by the Word at all.

          So when I picked up the book, I opened it to where I had randomly placed my bookmark in it the last time I had put it away.   To my surprise, it was laying between the pages that marked “March 17th” and “March 18th.”   I glanced at the time.  It was 11:59.

          I was right on the cusp of the two days, and I had “randomly” opened to the in-between of them in that very moment.  I was starting to feel really moved and all teary-eyed, and I began to read:


“Stop trying to work things out before their times have come.   Accept the limitations of living one day at a time….A life lived close to Me is not complicated or cluttered…When your focus is on My Presence, many things that once troubled you lose their power over you…Though the world around you is messy and confusing, remember that I have overcome the world.”

          I literally started crying and then called my mom about it all and just kind of wept on the phone.   She probably thought I was delusional, but she let me read out every line to her.

It’s so easy to think you should be feeling certain ways, doing certain things, having certain emotions – but it’s always important to remember that each day comes one day at a time.  Each emotion can be felt – one at a time.   And they should all be felt – the good and the bad.
YAY for a random bit in the middle of this post about emotions and all that fun stuff HOORAAAAAY!!!!!
Okay, now back to my regular blogging about my days’ activities:

          Let’s talk about the next exciting thing that happened ever.  Because WHATEVEN. Wednesday March 18th, my dad set up a lunch date for me with one of his co-workers at the Google office in ATL, who so happens to travel to the London offices every 5 weeks or so – ALL THIS meaning me and a friend (aka Tay Armstrong), got to get a free lunch and office tour of GOOGLE LONDON.  HOLD SCREAMS BECAUSE WE DIDN’T.

          At 11am, we arrived at the really really cool Google offices to wait in the front room for my dad’s awesome coworker, Rosemary, to bring us up for lunch.  Taylor and I could barely contain any of the excitement and were having anxiety attacks out to wazoo, but we managed to keep it together (kind of?).


here’s a cool piece of modern art outside of the offices.

          Rosemary ended up being the sweetest thing ever, and was SO easy to talk to.   It also turns out she was an English major in school, and she gives me hope ❤
          We had a delicious lunch in the super cool Google cafeteria.   I'm going to use "super cool" a lot, and it's not going to do any of the place justice.  But I don't know how to put it all into words, because man oh man is Google indescribable.  But I'm going to try.

Anyways, here’s the plate of food I got, and although I’m not good at presentations, please know it was delectable:

IT LOOKS SO UGG HERE BUT IT WAS WONDERFUL

          There were ALL sorts of different types of food offerings: soups, salads, many many main courses, fresh fruit and avocado, and just like…everything.   And everyone was sitting and chatting and working like they were at a university having some fun times and chill breaks.   UGH SO COOL.   Taylor and I were trying not to spill our lemon and lime chilled water with all our giddiness.

          We had such an easy-going chat at lunch about London, jobs, the real world (help), and GOOGLE of course.  It was beyond awesome.

This is the terrace that all the employees eat at when it’s not cold – it was super lovely and not real:








After, Rosemary took us on a tour of the offices as a whole. And we freaked more.



such england.

          Taylor and I finally decided that the best way to describe the offices was that it looked like the interior of Pacific Coast Academy, the school on “Zoey 101.”  You know, the one with a hip student union, awesome study rooms, and cool outdoor eating spaces?  yeah, that’s google.   We were literally in awe over every place she showed us – the gym, the freaking cool library, every work spot, every small cafe – everything.   But nothing compared to the YouTube offices within Google.   As many of you know, I kind of like obsess over YouTube stars and watch 800 hours of their channels a week, so going to the office they all have been in was a bit surreal.  We took pics and I said I was “internally screaming” to Rosemary’s face as we left, to let her know I was not okay at all.



NOT OKAY AT ALL HELP.

          After hugging Rosemary and thanking her for the opportunity of a lifetime, Taylor and I literally cried on our way to the nearest Starbucks to debrief about the moments we had just had.  In fact, we went to a Starbucks that Dan and Phil (two of my fave youtubers) frequented in one of their vids, so we lost our minds even more.  I couldn’t handle this day.  It got even better when Taylor and I decided to explore London somemore that afternoon as well.  We found two zodiac shops, a cool alleyway, an awesome coffee shop, and cool street art.








All in all, one of the best days yet.

          The next day, Thursday March 19th – I was supposed to meet my class at the Tate Modern Museum.   Supposed to.  But naturally, google maps (HAH the irony), citymapper, apple maps, and the internet failed me.  And I couldn’t find the dang musuem, resulting in me giving up after 45 mins, eating some porridge at Le Pain Quotidion, and taking some scenic pics while I was frustrated beyond belief:




Adventuressss

          The same day, Taylor and I greeted our pal POOJ (and her study abroad friends) at Liverpool Train Station!   I was so excited to see Pooja, because her pictures on instagram looked 110% fabulous, and I wanted to hear all about every place she had been to.  After we picked them up at the train station, we headed to the closest Wetherspoons (the chain than owns the Masque Haunt in Shoreditch) where happiness ensued.



          The following day, Friday the 20th, Taylor and I showed the pals around London and had a fab time.   We keep learning how to do London in a day, and man is it great.





          Later in the day, I had an ISA excursion to BBC studios in central London, so as Pooj, Taylor, & Co. explored Oxford Street and Cafe Nero, I headed down to the dream place.  The tour was super cool, and I got to see lots of behind the scenes stuff – I just wish I was able to watch more BBC tv on the reg/wish I lived in England so that could be a thing.




We even saw a live performance in practice
“that is so Lorde” – Alex from ISA

          Again, bringing up my fave youtubers, Dan and Phil have jobs with BBC radio 1, and NOPE I didn’t ask our tour guide to see if they were working at the time/when they work/when I can stalk them….

          It’s fine though, because another girl in ISA knew who they were and ALEX FROM ISA knew who they were too and he gave me tips on how to ask them out.   So all of this was just a win.


OOps i may have been pretending to get a shot of the Twelfth Doctor, but in reality I was taking a pic of Alex from ISA being all British.  Ugh, my heart.


HEY LOOK it’s the Tardis!


We got to do a sound recording and be BBC employees for a moment.

          The following day, Saturday March 21st, we went to Camden Town to have tea in “The Basement Tea Rooms” – a place I had seen advertised the first time I went to Camden Markets – and we finally went CHYEAH

          It was everything we wanted it to be and we got to be all artsy and picturesque and the tea was great, the scones were delicious, and it was all only 5 pounds (and that is split between two people!):












          The weekend ended on such a high note.   It is always fun to see the city through a new person’s eyes and perspective, and Pooja and her pals didn’t disappoint on that front.  It was also so wonderful to see her and finally hear about all her travels. ❤

          YAYAYY and that is all I have for this blog entry, folks!  I'll be updating asap because HELP ME I LITERALLY ONLY UPDATED UP UNTIL THE END OF MARCH AND IT'S ALMOST THE END OF APRIL *HYPERVENILATES ACTUALLY*

          But do not fear, next up on the post list is the Cinderella Exhibition, FRANCE, and IRELAND WOOHOOOO.  So stay tuned if you're into that sort of thing (and by "thing," I mean these continuious ramblings and picture explosions that I like to call blog posts).  YAY.

Cheers Xx

Sarahj

The Nerdiest of All Weekends

          HI PALS!!!  I am finally concluding this 3-part blog adventure of catching up (a day late, but it’s fine)!   Hopefully I have caught up on everything and am up to date (I’m treating this more like a school deadline than actual school assignments, sheesh) ❤  So sit back and look at all the nerdiest and grandest things I did last weekend – I squealed and hit a lot of arms out of excitement, so you can imagine the nerd joy you’re about to witness:

THURSDAY the 5th: This day was absolutely the best because it was ISA’s excursion to Harry Potter Warner Brother Studios.  Pause for absolute freak the freak out.

          That’s one order of NOPE with a topping of ICANTEVENHANDLE.  Brittney and I were a little apprehensive, because we signed up for ISA’s trip to the place as opposed to going on our own like everyone else has done so far.  Since the excursion didn’t start until 2pm, we were worried we wouldn’t get enough time to see everything/the place would be oddly crowded.  But since I’m so crap at finding things/working out train tickets and such, I figured it would be best to let ISA do all that gritty (not that gritty, I’m just a pansy) work to get us there, and we could just follow along – and we did just that.

          We had to meet at the Euston Train Station, which is close by to my dorm.  However, the “Mittie’s Cookies” shop we were supposed to meet in front of, has apparently recently closed down (u ok Mittie?), so this caused the 8 of us students going (see, no one really signed up for ISA’s) to be running all over the station looking for one another.
          This also led to Alex (bae) yelling my name after me when I first arrived in the station looking like a lost puppy asking security to tell me where Mittie was.

We can pretend Alex was yelling at me to not get on my leaving train because he needed to confess his love for me first *cue RomCom music*

          Once we all found each other though, it was only a nice small group of us & we began to geek out over the HP madness we were about to embark on ❤  The whole thing was led by only Alex too, and he is of course the cheekiest, most British person to flirt with talk to, and that added to the amusement of the whole ordeal as well 😉

          Surprisingly, it was only a 25 minute train ride in, and then about a 15 minute bus ride to the actual Studios once we got to the platform.  The bus was also a Warner Brothers Studio one, so it was interactive and played HP music the whole way in, and we all know what “Hedwig’s Theme” does to a person.

          Once we arrived, all fangirl/squealing/flailing/gasping/jumping-up-and-down craziness started.  Just…everyone in the world needs to go to this place.

Like, not okay at all.

First off, you walk in and you are hit with the equivalent of a great hall of Portraits from Hogwarts but instead it’s like BAM look at all your fave childhood actors *legends*

LITERALLY THE MOST ICONIC (among 5000 other iconic sets) SET OF ALL TIME ON HP LIKE CANNOT HANDLE THIS, BABY DAN RAD SAT THERE AND HAD NO IDEA OF HOW AMAZING IT WAS ALL GOING TO BE, HELP EMOTIONSSSSSS

ANd and and and Mr. Potter’s cupboard-under-the-stairs was placed right before we actually entered the tour – and if you ask me, this was intentional because it was basically like we were becoming Harry – about to embark on our own personal Hogwarts journey.

*shivers* *Hedwig’s Theme blasts through the speakers* *faints*

          We are then led into a theatre-esque type area, where we couldn’t take pictures because theatre, but basically we were shown lots of videos and footage (narrated by the golden trio) that had me squealing in my seat and had us all ready to learn everything ever about how the HP movies came to be.  And then before we knew it, the “film” was over, and the screen lifted up to SHOW THE GREAT HALL DOOR.  THE ACTUAL GREAT HALL DOOR.

          Life tip: pretend it’s your birthday when you go (or like, go on your actual bday, because that would be ballin’ son) – they’ll let you knock on the Great Hall door to enter *internal external screams*

LOOK LOOK AT IT LOOK

          It is entirely smaller than I could have ever imagined, but it didn’t make it any less magical.  To think that literally every single HP actor has at least once stepped foot onto this set and that most of them spent all 10 years eating there???  WHAT???

          After that, they led us into the BIGGEST AND LARGEST ROOM/HALL/UNIVERSE EVER that held nearly every single HP prop/set/outfit you can imagine.  It took us hours to just make it through it all, and I’m pretty sure I still missed half of everything (reason #123912953 to go back again amirite???)

BABY HARRY’S BED IN GRYFFINDOR COMMON ROOM – fun fact: the bed sizes were never changed even as the actors grew up, but instead camera angles helped to create the effect they were still the same size (this kind of goes for the Great Hall too *MAGIC*)

The GRIFFIN DOOR hahaaha get it hahahahah HAH i love hp & JK so much

The swinging pendulum from the clock tower that Harry stands in front of in the third movie when he can’t go to Hogsmeade (booo uncle vernon) and his hair looks killer because 3rd year Harry is the most attractive Harry and we all know it.  End rant.

The mirror of Erised showed us as goofs, what’s up with that?  We almost asked a cute British guy to get in the picture to make it a more accurate depiction of our desires 😉

ALSPACCCHHH (my best parsel-tongue)

Feels like home WAAAHHH

          After this massive arena full of all the Harry Potter prop magic (and there were A TON more things, but I’ll post those pics too FB soon), next stop on the tour was the “Backlot Cafe”:

And Butter Beer was an absolute must

          Then outside the cafe, all the outdoor props from the movie were just CASUALLY THERE and we were not fine at all.

I’M SORRY WHAT’S THAT???  YEAH Number 4 Privet Drive – the most famous address after 42 Wallaby Way Sydney, JA FEEL

“Whatchu doin’ down there?”  “I fell ovah.” “Whatchu fell ovah fo?”  “I didn’t do it on purpose!”  claaaasssic.

Literally this bridge is legendary.  Cedric mysteriously told Harry to go take a bath in the Prefect’s bathroom on this bridge.

JUST YOUR AVERAGE HOGWARTS RAVENCLAWS NBD

“YOU HAVE TO GO HARRY, NOT ME, NOT HERMIONE, YOU.”  UGH RONALD YOU’RE MY HERO.

chasing down some deatheaters

Sorry for the trouble Mr. Weasley

After that ridiculousness (help), we went inside to where they make a lot of the animal props and prosthetics – it was super super cool and a little slightly terrifying.

Not to mention traumatizing.

First off, how dare you.  I’m so sorry, I should have rated this blog post R or something.

He didn’t bow to me, so I couldn’t pet him

CANNOT HANDLE.  CANNOT.  THAT’S FLIPPIN DIAGON ALLEY IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW
          After this we went into an area where all the architecture for the movies was displayed – like the paperwork for it – and man oh man, were they amazing.  Literally the amount of work that goes into it all makes my head hurt.  BUT NOT AS MUCH AS SEEING THE ACTUAL CASTLE THEY FILMED FOR THE MOVIES RIGHT BEFORE MY EYES.  LOOOOOOOK:

NOPE
          And after we had our eyes dissolve from the happiness they were witnessing, we went into a room that had over 4,000 wand boxes in it – and each one had the name of every cast member who has worked on the movies!!  WHAAAAT???

This is me choosing JK Rowling’s box!!

          They also played a screen with the Queen’s most amazing quote ever!  And the namesake for Tailor Leer PhD’s blog!

          We then entered the gift shop, which was basically a part of the whole tour because it was filled with props as well – including this stain glass window that Neville is upset in front of when Not-Mad-Eye-Moody approaches him to give him the Gillyweed idea:

          When we were done with the tour (Chocolate Frog and postcards in tote), we met up with Alex in the front cafe near the entrance and chatted with him about our life-changing experience for about 30 minutes whilst we waited for everyone else to finish.  It was the perfect ending to the perfect day, and we even caved and got Chipotle on the way home.  I JUST CAN’T MAKE UP THIS PERFECTION, FOLKS.

FRIDAY the 6th: I didn’t get to rest much from the previous glory of the day before, because the next day called for an early morning.  My super cool friend Tessa who is literally on the same page as me for every nerd thing ever, planned for us to go to Wales that morning, to the – wait for it – DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE.  LIKE MY HEART COULD HANDLE ANYTHING FROM THE DAY BEFORE, AND NOW -BOOM- THIS.

          I’m so lucky Tessa knows exactly what she is doing for train/bus/getting-anywhere purposes, because she basically led the way for the journey there and I’m so thankful to her for that ❤  It was a nice 2 hour train ride into Wales, and we mostly spent the time talking about every fandom we have ever loved, and it made the time go by that much faster.  We also observed that as we made it into the new country, we could recognize it was Wales when the signs started “looking like they were throwing up the alphabet”

          Still confused if Welsh people actually speak Welsh, or if it’s just a tradition to have the unintelligible language plastered on every sign and billboard everywhere…nah??

Either way, we arrived in Wales, got on a bus to the DW museum, and proceeded to have the best geekiest time EVER.

WHAT’S THAT??  Casual flying Tardis looming over the Cardiff Bay.  We knew we were in the right place.

These things are just happening in my life and I don’t know how to be okay about them.

          Those pics were from the outside of the tour, in the lobby. Once the tour started, we were shown an inspirational and tear-inducing video about the whole Doctor Who series, and they reminded us that maybe, if we wished hard enough, the Doctor may one day come and rescue us and take us away on his adventures ❤

“But remember, The Doctor has many lives…you only have one.”
*cue ominous music*

          Then the guide led us on a super cute and quirky interactive tour of look-alike sets where we got to fly the Tardis and save the universe with the help of the current 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, and it was the nerdiest and greatest thing of my life.  I couldn’t take pictures, but if you’re a WHO fan, please know it was worth every penny just to go through that bit of the tour.

          After, we were led to the actual museum part of the place, where we could take as many pics as we wanted to:

I’m from the 1970’s Classic Who, basically

I will never stop missing Matt Smith, and you can’t stop me.  Forever MY Doctor #ELEVEN

The Daleks almost exterminated Tessa!!!

I fangirled a bit too hard about Rory & Amy, because I nearly knocked this prop over…OOPS

IN THE TARDIS BASICALLY

          After the most rewarding experience ever (even though the museum was a lot smaller than I had imagined, but maybe I was just spoiled by HP), we went on a walk nearby along the Cardiff Bay.  Let me tell y’all, it was one of the most peaceful and lovely views & walks I’ve had in a while.  Tessa and I couldn’t stop commenting on how wonderful it was!

Jaw-droppingly beautiful, and seriously only added on to the wonderfulness the trip was.

          We watched Star Trek 2 on the way back home (it helped to satisfy our fangirl feels #Benedict) & then we went to Wasabi when we arrived back in London ~ Asian food deliciousness.  Tessa then introduced me to “Ben’s Cookies” on Oxford Street, and this was a very dangerous move, because now I’m tempted every time I pass them.  Imagine the largest and most delectable cookies on this earth and then add three types of chocolate to them.

          So happy I got to enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime fan experience with Tessa!   It was just an overall golden day

SATURDAY the 7th: I had seriously been waiting for this day since the first moment I came to England.  YUP, the DAY GINERVA WEASLEY (fine, aka Ginny Simmons) ARRIVED IN LONDON!!!!!

          We had been counting down the days since we started skyping, and I couldn’t wait for Ginny to get here with our amazing Shandon Church group (they were here for a mission trip in Kingston!!!).  We were a little nervous as to how we would meet up though, since internet/data for Ginny’s phone wasn’t always guaranteed, and we wouldn’t be able to confirm where we were in order to find each other – we could only plan a meeting spot the night before and hope for the best.

          Well, I’d like to call it Divine intervention, because when I arrived at Waterloo Station (where Shandon was coming into from Kingston), I stood around looking like an idiot realizing I didn’t have a clue where exactly Ginny and the gang would be coming in from.  Thinking I should just go ahead and walk to Big Ben (where we planned as a second spot), I suddenly whipped my head around to hear people talking, and I SAW GINNY AND ALL THE SHANDON PEEPS.  MAGICALLY, LIKE I don’t know how I found them in one of the busiest train stations in London!!!

          Ginny describes my face as looking like my “about to cry/freaking out face” and we instantly squealed and ran (in slow motion) into each other’s arms.  It was fantastic.

Look at the roomie love

Needless to say, I learned from the Shandon group that you can basically see all of London’s amazing landmarks in one day (inspiring me for when my parents come into town).  We ended up having the best time EVER.

We went to the area where the Queen’s guard is, a place I’d never been to before.

And then to Borough Market for never disappointing meals – & the classic Fish n Chips for the guests!

Goofin off in front of the beautiful Tower Bridge

I can’t remember where this was, but basically we went to the roof of a building (need to remember so I can go again) and got this killer view of St. Paul’s and its surrounding area.  So awesome

Striking a pose

We later stood in line for the MOST EPIC PIC OF ALL TIME. So glad it finally happened.

          Side story, the scarf-holder (yes, there is an actual starf-holder job and I’m so envious of it) was super cute.  He looked like he was so tired and over his job, but when we got up to him he was like “I promise I’m not normally like this!  I’m just so exhausted!”  We chatted with him, and when it was my turn he was just so super cheeky and adorable and teasing and I think we had a moment when he put the scarf around my neck but idk.  *googly eyes*

          All in all, a glorious day with fantastic people and MY GINERVA.  Still can’t believe she was in London.  But the fun didn’t end there, because I found out they were attending a church service in London the next day, and it happened to be at my church, Hillsong!!!  SO WE GOT ANOTHER DAY TOGETHER WHOOOO.

          This was fantastic too, because Matt Redman was performing at the service we were going to, and Matt Redman is basically the songwriter who has written all of my favorite worship songs.

          The service was held in the Apollo Victoria Theatre (where Wicked is being shown!) and it was amazing.

          Ginny pointed out that “this is the first time we’ve worshiped by each other in three months!”  Which got me all emotional because I seriously miss my Shandon family and driving to church every Sunday with Ginny and UGH I miss people.

          Matt Redman is the man. When he started singing his song “Never Let Go” I got really emotional again, because that song just means so much to me.   Matt Redman and his wife wrote it around the time 9/11 happened, and you can just feel its significance when he sings it.  But also, for me, I think back to when I was in 7th grade on a church retreat in FL.  That was when I first heard the song sung, and I fell in love with it.

          I’ll admit though, I don’t think I realized how great its words were until I got older. I remember showing my mom the song when I first got back home, and she became obsessed with it.
          Around that time, my dad had just lost his job and my family was kind of dealing with a whole boatload of sucky things in general – and it was the start of a tough few years.  I guess I never understood why my mom was so enthralled with the words of the song until a little later on, when the words starting actually applying to my life and my own problems.

          The lyrics are taken straight from scripture, and they have been there for me either when I’m feeling anxious about something, when I’ve felt alone, when I’ve sung them as I’ve cried myself to sleep, when I’m about to take a huge test, or when I’m dealing with my hardest of days.

“Even though I walk through, the valley, of the shadow of death, your perfect love is casting out fear…
Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm…oh no, Lord, You never let go of me.”

          So for those reasons, the moment Matt sang the song, I thought of my mom and I thought of how much words can really mean something.


          After church, we also got to make our way to Sherlock’s home on Baker Street and Iconic moments happened AGAIN.   I’ll need to go back in order to get a better pic because my hair was doing things, but it’s okay because 221B Baker Street is not far away ❤

UGH so much awesome.

          I seriously had the best time with everyone on that Saturday and Sunday – and I know they had the best week here in England doing God’s work in the town of Kingston 🙂

          It was sad saying goodbye to Ginny, but I was so happy for the fun weekend we had just had, I couldn’t even be bitter because our reunion was everything we had hoped for.  It made me realize just how much I’ve missed her and how much I appreciate her – but it also got me pumped for our roomie adventures next year! *tear in eye*

          The next few days consisted of class, eating, and working on writing up stories.  It also meant walking home and seeing these types of views ❤

          Plus, on Wednesday I got to see Taylor before she headed off to Paris and we went to…where else?   The Breakfast Club.  And we nommed on our fave French toast:

          I think I’ll end my post here – ALMOST UP TO DATE but it’s okay because I’ll include yesterday’s happenings (SHAKESPEARE’S HOMETOWN AND WARWICK CASTLE) in my next blog entry sometime next week!   If you made it through all that nerd fangirling and pictures, you’re awesome and are probably my parents – but that’s okay!  Love you all and until next time ❤

Cheers! Xx,

Sarahj

Cartoon Nostalgia and Creepin on Couples

        HIIII again!!!  I’m back to attempt to catch up on these past few weeks so I don’t end up becoming months behind *hyperventilates just thinking about it*   So here goes nothing!

        The week following the Brit Awards was basically a 180 to how my emotions were during that event.   Not any less awesome, just definitely more chill.  And a little more sick.   Not the radical kind of sick, but like the actual ew-sniffy-drippy-nose sick.  Ugh.

BUT THAT’S OKAY, SARAHJ PREVAILED (kind of)!! Here’s a little insight onto how that week of the ill went~

        That Thursday the 26th (after the Awards), I didn’t have my 3-hour-long class (the people cried in rejoice), but instead had a one-on-one session with the professor of said class.   We had to chat for a bit about my short story for the class, which I’m still in the process of editing.   It’s about a woman finding out her husband is a serial killer, so you know – nice and fluffy stuff.
        Either way, I had a great discussion about it with her, but the whole time my nose was leaking and my throat was KILLING me – it looked like the cold from the week before had flared up again and TAKEN OVER MY IMMUNE SYSTEM THROUGHOUT THE NIGHT (the way germs like to do).

And I’m sure it had nothing to do with screaming at the top of my lungs the night before at the awards………
nah.
jensen_ackles___no__yes_by_joeleneybeaney-d3bsygg1

        So after napping for a bit, I headed over to Taylor’s part of town to get a 2nd lunch (shhh) and literally to spend the rest of the day in her room watching YouTube videos on her laptop.  No lie.  (S/O to Tay for letting me sit on top of her bed while I still had the sniffles) ❤

        We went from stalking some celebs from the Red Carpet we didn’t recognize the night before, (but upon research, found out some sang our favorite songs) including this guy, James Bay:

guy
Reason I bring him up is because I noted he looks like the evil (more like just “mean”) dude from the legendary DCOM “Brink!” – you know the one:
As you of course remember, his name was Val, and his sass was unreal (you’re no soul-skater, V).

Taylor and I also remembered our 3rd grade crush – Erik Von Detton, who was the hero and title-character ~Brink~ in this film.  He is very important:


(people like to blade in this movie, let them live their lives, bruh)

AND YES HE WAS ~JOSH BRYANT~ IN THE PRINCESS DIARIES BOOM (only 90’s kids will remember smh)
We wouldn’t wanna pop our foot for anyone else (and you’re all lying if you say you didn’t daydream about this like Princess Mia did):

        OK but my point for this whole little Disney channel original movie lesson (jk there’s not really a point to any of this), is that we looked up other things that dear Erik has been in, only to see that he was the 5th-grade character, LAWSON in the classic and analytical Toon Disney show, RECESS.   WHAT A GEM.  Oh my gosh he’s SO important.

        We proceeded to watch the episode where T.J. uses the word “WHOMPS” and it causes the whole school to practically shut down and a lawyer has to come in and it’s all just madness and it digs into the issue of “what makes a word bad to say” and dang, I just love that show and the way it makes elementary school look like a functioning city – government & citizens & all (bc it basically is, ja feel?).   Taylor can confirm that I quoted some of the show before a certain scene even came up….

No, I don’t sometimes look it up in my spare time, alone, and watch 5 episodes at a time, what.

Anyways, this was the character Erik Von Detten played:


That pesky 5th grader.

I personally have used to have a thing for King Bob, but you know.   He ruled with an iron fist:

        K, well I don’t really know where this post went or is going, but basically Taylor and I went on a nose-dive spiral into watching every single nostalgic T.V. show that popped into our minds, including looking up conspiracy theories about Danny Phantom, Fairly Odd Parents, and Ed, Edd, n Eddy.

Speaking of 3rd grade crushes…

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*whispers in a singsong voice: “Danny Phantom”*

        It was a splendid day of watching everything ever on the internet, and it ended with a trip to our fave “The Masque Haunt” so all in all, fun & delicious times.

FRIDAY the 27th: the following day, Taylor, Brittney, Sarah, & I went to the fantastic fave brunch place, The Breakfast Club.   We salivated over a salmon, egg, & avocado dish we regretted not getting, and vowed to get the next time (foreshadowing here).

club
that sign says “we built this city on bacon rolls” – hehe

        This day was also important because after brunch, I went back over to Taylor’s to finally watch THE LEGO MOVIE.  I felt changed after viewing it, and I have to agree with everyone in their protests for it to win Best Film at the Oscars – I mean, the talent, people, the talent.

“how was your trip abroad, sarah, do you feel like a new person?” – people, few months from now, probably
“um well duh, i watched the Lego Movie over there, so…” – me, probably

All time favorite character and new spirit animal, Benny.  Bless you Charlie Day:

We later went to the SoHo part of London and got some delish Chinese food in Chinatown (shocker):

chinese

Saturday and Sunday were pretty chill, I was still stuffy and congested (WHYYY) and I really only went outside for food and coffee.  But on MONDAY the 2nd, Taylor and I went for Brunch again at The Breakfast Club (bc YUSSS) and finally ordered our dream Salmon dish as before mentioned.   But I forgot to snap a pic of it, because I ate it.  Maybe I’ll get a pic another time (foreshadowing, again).   Sidenote: I’m not like the regular writers.  I’m that cool kind of writer that let’s you know when foreshadowing is happening.

        We went down to Oxford street after that, and basically walked around aimlessly into every shop trying to find beanies (Taylor needs a beanie), BUT THERE ARE NONE LEFT IN THIS BEANIE-FORSAKEN CITY.  Good news is that we got to lollygag around inside Topshop, spy on the food stands they have in there (??why), drool over my favorite male models (what, it’s not like I’ve found their instas..?…), & look at every piece of clothing we can’t afford.   The usual.

cupcakessss
Casual cupcakes in a clothing store
jay
I even got to snag a free Topman magazine, so I can bring the models home with me MUWAHAH

The next day (the 3rd), I went to my supah awesome Professional Writing class I went on about in the blog post from yesterday.   We had a guest speaker, the Editor-in-Chief and creator of “In Clover” magazine, Bryony Hopkins.  She said the magazine is all about going back to basics – as in, not that we have to live without technology or anything, but about simply enjoying the little and beautiful things in life.

She explained that “in clover” means “in a condition of prosperity; happy & contented.”

I thought that was marvelously lovely, and I wanted to share ❤

        Later that day, I went to a cafe called Benugo on Great Portland Street, and became the ultimate stalker.   See, I have this thing, where I like to watch couples.
        Whether on the Tube, walking down the busy streets, sitting at a table on a date – I just find observing them so pleasant in England.  I know PDA can be annoying or a bit uncomfortable at times, but here – when not overdone – it’s nice to see people being publicly affectionate with their loved ones.

While cities are full of endless amounts of people, bustling about nonstop 24/7, you can still feel a bit lonely walking down the street by yourself.

        It’s not necessarily a bad lonely, just a reminder that “YUP you’re on your own, Sonny.”   So, that’s why, when I see a guy give up his seat on the Tube for his girlfriend and then see him casually tuck her hair behind her ear (SQUEE), I can only smile from seeing other people have a loved one here with them.

DON’T LIE YOU KNOW THAT’S THE CUTEST THING IN EXISTENCE

        But seriously, this isn’t me pining for a boyfriend, this is me appreciating people in love – you know?   So, back to me being the ultimate creep.   I was sitting in Benugo, and there was this guy across the way by himself.   He looked a little bored – tired even.  BUT ALL THAT CHANGED when his girlfriend walked in and he bounced out of his chair, embraced her, and had her sit down across from him, all the while he never let go of her hand.  He was so excited to see her, he also kept asking her to sit next to him, so he could put his arm around her until they got their food.

I’m creepy not only because I gushed while watching this, but then proceeded to pull my camera out and take pics OOOOOOPSSSSS sry not sry:

love

love3
Can you feel/stalk the love?   I can.

I have no shame and it’s okay.   They brightened my day and I’m 99% sure they didn’t see me snapping pics of them over my laptop *shifts nervously*

WEDNESDAY the 4th: I WENT BACK TO THE BREAKFAST CLUB AND STILL NO SHAME because cute host was there and I got a pic of my delicious salmon, egg, & ~avocado~ toast and it was killer

nom
Foreshadowing, complete.

        I’ll end on that yummy note. YAY almost caught up on here and I’m excited I didn’t slack on catching up to catch up (hah).   If you made it through this mess of gifs, thoughts, and creepy photos YOU ROCK and I probably love you ❤ ❤

Hopefully I will have a post up tomorrow documenting HARRY POTTER STUDIOS, DOCTOR WHO EXPERIENCE, & MA WEEKEND WITH GINNY YAYYYY

Cheers! Xx,

Sarahj

We Are The People We Have Always Wanted To Be

          Hi Friends, family, and anyone who is actually reading this blog – wazzup.   I feel horrible, because I haven’t updated in like, 2 and a half weeks and it’s not alright with me *shrieks/nails on chalkboard/brakes squeaking to a halt*

          This has most likely not affected any of you, but it stresses me out because I like to look back on my weeks online.   I just don’t want to forget anything – hence another reason for every FB update, every Instagram, every ridiculously long blog post (*needs reminding this isn’t a short story forum*).  As much as all that jazz is to keep my closest friends and fam up to date, it’s also for me to look back and smile on, even if only a week later ~ (super excited to read this blog years down the road yo) 🙂

          Anyways, to amend the problem, I’m going to break up these past few weeks into three (as of now) separate blog posts and it’s going to be bloomin’ awesome.   Kk?

Well, even if you’re not Kk with it, Imma do it anyways ❤ muwahahah
Lesss go allll the way back to February 22nd:

          On that SUNDAY the 22nd, I was supposed to wake up and go down to Trafalgar Square to see some Chinese New Year festivities (they are HUGE here, and Sunday was its big blowout) with Brittney, Taylor, and friends from her program, Sarah & Katie.
          However, Brittney and I were running extremely late, and we ended up arriving at the ultra-crowded square at the tail end of the morning parade (booooo).   But it was still cool to see Trafalgar Square all dressed up for the New Year happenings: (I even got a free fortune cookie, so, was all lost, really?)

yes
We would have stuck around, however we needed to get in line for what we deemed “the queue for the queue”
What Queue for a Queue were we Queuing for, you ask?  QUEUING TO GET 2015 BRIT AWARD WRISTBANDS THAT’S WHAT, BOOOOM.

          Yeah, ya heard right – actual wristbands that said we were allowed on the red carpet (okay, not on the red carpet, but pretty darn close) and able to cuddle/attack our favorite stars.

          But apparently the line for the wristbands started at 12pm – and they wouldn’t start handing them out until 2pm.   Meaning people got there super early to line up for the line itself – does the “queue for queue” thing make sense now?   Or is this just all too fangirl complicated?
          Either way, we arrived at the massive O2 Arena (where the BRITS take place) around 11:30.   A small line had started, and a glimmer of hope in our hearts told us that maybe, just maybe, they’d start handing out the wristbands at 12 to early arrivers, and maybe we wouldn’t have to sit in the cold for 2 more solid hours.

But they didn’t, because this world offers us the closeness of celebrities, but at a dark, dark price.

          To put it shortly, we waited in that mini-line for about 30 minutes, then were moved to a longer line for the actual wristbands – there we stayed for TWO FULL HOURS.

          Then FINALLY, close to 2pm, the line started moving and the box office was giving out wristbands – BUT THEY MOVED AT A SNAIL’S PACE so we stayed in that line for another hour while the wind blew and the rain came down.


BUT DON’T WORRY WE FINALLY GOT OUR BANDS.

          We also kept getting mixed answers from every employee – half of them said we’d have to arrive at the Awards show from 8am-10am to secure our place next to the red carpet/even be allowed next to it.   Others said we could arrive whenever, but that our place might not be as good (fair enough).
          This posed a problem though, because most everyone had class that Wednesday (I didn’t, but I’d have to be there alone), and also – we didn’t want to sit and wait for nearly 12 hours in the cold the morning of.  Taylor had a midterm the day of, so we all decided we’d risk it and show up after her class was over (since this was all free to us anyways).

          So after planning and standing in that line for half of the day – with my wristband securely around my wrist – I got into my warm bed around 4pm, and didn’t emerge until hunger struck me.

Ah, the life of a fangirl.
yess

          Monday classes were the usual (and by usual I mean awesome).   On TUESDAY, I went to my Professional Writing class, where I befriended some fellow British/American-Youtuber-watchers – ahh my people!   We bonded over the immense amount of time we spend watching people on the internet do silly, inspirational, hysterical, and sometimes really ordinary stuff with a camera in their hand – and that we flippin’ love it when they do all of the above.   The best thing that happened in this convo with my newfound fellow fangirls, was I kept repeating how jealous I was that all my fave British youtubers lived in London or near it – that it all seemed to be happening here – not just youtube stuff, but everything remotely famous & British.
          They both protested, saying “No, everything happens in America!”   I suppose I can’t disagree with them – that is slightly true.   But I informed them of how hard it is to actually get to everything in the USA – as in, a GA gal cannot make it to NY or LA for premieres, events, conventions, etc. at the drop of a hat or with the lack of money in her pocket, ja feel?
          It was fun to compare the limitations and the blessings we each had in our home countries – it was also so surreal to see one of the girls literally put her forehead down on the table and groan, “I just wish I lived in America!”
          I suggested we switch citizenship for ever a bit, something I offer to every Brit I meet.

Girl has gotta try, right?

          During the class, one student also brought up something very, very true.   She stated how every class meeting we have with our professor turns into a sort of “therapy session” – in that it becomes the most rewarding part of the week.
          Throughout the semester here, this particular teacher has been training us for the outside working world.   Even though there are jokes as to how scary and daunting it can be (because it for sure is), he never once falters in his belief in us as writers – and as an English major, let me tell you – that is something to cherish when a teacher (or anyone) has that faith in you.   And it is so greatly appreciated.

I hardly go a week at USC without hearing some wisecrack or condescending reminder in class about my major:

“There aren’t any new renovations for the English department because no one has graduated from it and become rich enough to donate for a new building to be built…the reason is obvious…no rich English Majors.”

“Good luck as a stay-at-home mom with that degree…”

“You know, teachers don’t make that much money so…it’s impressive if that’s what you’re aiming for – oh it’s not?   Then what are you going to do…?”

“Well, I’m a business/math/science major, I have hard work to do…it sucks that I have to get a real job once I get out of here.”

“One day when I’m making the big bucks and you’re working at Target…”

          I’ve heard it all.   So to come to this class weekly & to be inspired & told that there is room for us in this world and a need for our work and talent??   I have to give props to our professor.   I’m jealous because my British friends said that the reason everyone in the class is BFFLS is because they all take the same classes all 3 years of Uni (ugh only 3 over here), and most were with this same professor (He’s the same one who interviewed Keith Richards once – yeah, he’s that rad).
          What a family of supportive and inspiring people to spend your university years with. (this is my way of saying I wish I were British so I could have taken these classes with all of them too – and also be graduating in only 3 years *cries* WHEN WILL THE ENVY END??)

Wednesday: DA BRIT AWARDSSSSSSSSS.
          Like we had planned on Sunday, I met Taylor at the O2 after her midterm ended.   We decided that since we were already past the time space that some of the officials had told us to get there, why not take our time and grab lunch beforehand?   We’re risk takers.
          So we had some delicious Wagamama nearby, then made our anxiety-ridden walk back over to the O2 to see if we were still able to be let into the Red Carpet area.   Long story short folks, we went to 5 different workers, until we found one who finally led us to the “wrist-band area” and we HUNG OUT WITH EVERYONE THERE AND SQUEALED BECAUSE WE MADE IT AND DIDN’T GET TOLD WE WERE TOO LATE

brits2

britsss
K, we still weren’t officially on the red carpet because this is just a mock one nearby but STILL

          We got to chat with other fangirl Brits who sat near us, and they were the coolest people ever.   They had been there since 8 am (like most people there had been…oops? #we’recheaters), and they were just the sweetest girls ever.   They told us they actually liked American accents and thought they were “cute” – lolol okay no, but still lovely to hear, thanks pals ❤
          We spent a good amount of time hanging with them, taking their offers of food they brought (they were absolute angels), and just talking about our favorite celebs and tv shows and movies (my kind of bliss).

brits3
Da real carpet is behind us here

          When it got closer to the time for the carpet walks to start, we all stood up as close to the railing as we could.   We had only one person in front of each of us, so our viewing of the carpet was PRIME.  We started chatting with a girl-in-front-of-us’s mother, who turned out to be the sweetest & kindest British lady I have ever met.   I bring her up, because she so reminded me of my Mom.   She told us how she had done everything to bring her daughter there and to make this day so wonderful for her – & that she always finds/pays for all the celebrity meet-ups, award shows, concerts, and movie premieres that she could, to make sure her daughter could go to as many as possible.
          Not that my parents by any means splurge on every frivolous, yet exciting event that happens close to my home, but it reminded me of how my parents always want to make me happy when it comes to the things I’m passionate about or bring me true joy.  This obviously doesn’t just apply to “fangirl/celebrity” events, but of course doesn’t exclude them either.   It just made me so nostalgic talking to this lady, hearing her say how she dropped everything to make sure her daughter could wait at the red carpet at 5am (WOWZA), how they traveled all the way from Bath to get to London in time for the show – and throughout her speech you could just see & hear the love she had for her daughter in everything she said.  When she began to talk about her husband & how they met (we talked about everything under the sun if you can’t tell), that same adoration was in her eyes.

“I didn’t find him until I was 35 – but I’m so glad I waited…I was almost nervous to talk to him, but my friend and I made a bet so that I would.  So glad I did – believe me girls, when you know…you just know.   Don’t settle for anything less – you’ll find him.”

          Both she and her daughter were such lovely people and we all exchanged twitter handles (21st Century over here) and we all discussed how Taylor and I could switch households with her daughter sometime because she is so obsessed with America – they seemed to like this joke of an idea, and Taylor and I are 100% willing to take them up on it (CONNECTIONS).

          So, back to the red carpet madness – we were all still mindlessly waiting around for any celebs to arrive (including stalking cute security guys):

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eheheh

When suddenly EVERYONE AROUND US LOST THEIR MINDS. WHY?? WHY?? LEMME SHOW YOU:

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Mr. ED steal yo gurl SHEERAN CASUALLY STROLLS UP FROM HIS CAR AND EVERYONE JUST LOSES IT UNDERSTANDABLY
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WHAT EVEN RIGHT????
After that, nothing is ok, and all this proceeds to happen:
Jess Glynne being NO PLACE I’D RATHER BE
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George Ezra doing his thing
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Marina & the Diamonds taking SELFIES
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FREAKING SAM SMITH Y’ALL
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Casual Legend Jimmy Page
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hahahaha Conor Maynard
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RJ Mitte looking like…really good
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RITA ORA LOOKING LIKE WHAT EVEN
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Calvin Babe Harris (who knew?? Not Taylor or I)
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PLOT TWIST: Adam Lambert is like HEY GUYS
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Dis band “Years and Years” is super awesome and sing this killer beat called “King” and everyone should look it up and cry:
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BIGGER PLOT TWIST, ORLANDO BLOOM SHOWED UP:
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Proof I was in close proximity to him

I KNOW I’M BEING SEMI-CASUAL WRITING ALL THIS OUT BUT LIKE, CHILDHOOD DREAMS FULFILLED, GUYZ. #WillTurner #Legolas #CRYING
I was all like:

Except not, because I’m not creepy or anything….
………..

          K, so then at this time, we were like WHERE THE HECK IS TSWIFT.  So as the good and skilled stalkers we are, we overheard security telling each other “Taylor is almost here, get ready” so we braced ourselves for the madness.

Guys…it was seriously like an apocalyptic showdown when yo homegurl arrived.   NO ONE COULD CONTAIN THEIR CHILL.

          I can confirm first hand that Taylor Swift is an impeccable and flawless angel sent from heaven.   From when she arrived to when she was right in front of me (*internal screaming*), her lipstick was unreal, her face was just not okay (and by not okay i mean i cried when i looked at it), and she just. looked. so. good.

AND SHE WAS JUST SO NICE *sobs*
WHEN SHE ARRIVED, SHE WAS SO SWEET AND INNOCENT AND HUMBLE AND PERFECT:
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She was then interviewed for a good bit while everyone continuously chanted her name – as seen in the FREAKING GIFS below:

YEAH LIKE WE WERE BEHIND HER IN THAT INTERVIEW LIKE HELP US.
Drake Hands, Tay, Drake Hands:
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LOOK AT HER
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And then she was casually taking selfies with people and SHE IS JUST PERFECT and she took the time to stop at every single person, and she hugged the girl in front of me and her face was like right in front of mine and I should have bopped her nose but I didn’t and I regret that forever, but not really because I WAS THIS CLOSE TO TSWIFT
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I still haven’t gotten a hold on my emotions from that event…
OH WAIT I FORGET EVEN THE MOST IMPORTANT BIT – while Taylor was still being interviewed, NICHOLAS JERRY JONAS (aka my teen heart throb aka nick freaking jonas in general) strolls in and makes us all lose our minds and I just didn’t have any idea where to point the camera for a good bit and went a little crazy:
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Closest I’ve ever been to Nick, and I’ve been to 5 JBro concerts/events – wait wut
THEN A WILD CARA DELEVIGNE APPEARS (she was incredibly nice too)
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ELLIE LOOKING FAB BEYOND REASON
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KARLIE KLOSS making some interesting faces but was also super nice as well
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JANELLE that dime piece daang
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THEN CASUAL BEYOND CASUAL TWO SPICE GIRLS SHOW UP – baby spice and sporty spice!!!!!!
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And then right when we think the madness is over, Lionel Richie makes everyone lose it again:
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All in all: worth standing in the cold and rain for three hours for?   HECKS TO THE YEAH.  10/10 would do again and again and again (if my heart could handle it)

          YAYAY So I know that was a lot of writing and lots of pics and I only covered like, half a week – BUT I’ll be posting again (maybe tomorrow & Saturday?) with the rest of the time between then and now, so YAY more pics/ramblings/nonsense to look forward to!  HUZZAH!   Love you all!

Cheers mates Xx

Sarahj

Roaming around England

Hello my friends and family! It’s been about two weeks, but I finally have updates and pics of my adventures ~ yaaayyyyy!

     Last-last Monday-Wednesday mainly consisted of school, eating, and cleaning my room for when THURSDAY arrived and ANNA CAME TO TOWN!! And I was super lucky because she got to stay with me!!! No roomie for 5 months can make a girl lonely (even though I have 18 years of practice of such…#onlychildprobz), but regardless, I was super pumped for this weekend.

Anna is a pal from USC and FUN FACT: she was my first friend in Gamma Phi (Parent’s Cocktail forever).

     But before I could actually hang with Anna and Taylor A, I had to be in my yes, 3 hour long class, AGAIN. But it was okay, because in class we analyzed this short story called “Along Birdcage Walk” and upon first reading, you just think it’s a story about a woman mourning her husband’s suicide (sad 😦 ). But in reality HE IS SLOWLY BECOMING A FREAKING BIRD – and unless you read it carefully, you’ll miss this fact and you just think he kills himself.

     I realize this sounds really out of the loop and out there, but I thoroughly enjoyed the shocker that this story was, and highly recommend it for you English nerds out there.

     After I had lunch with my friends from class, I then raced to find Anna and Taylor outside the British Museum, where remember, I told you I’d return because BAM it is so huge. This was the perfect opportunity to explore it again~

     Taylor and Anna went out later that night to a pub in central London, but where was I? Back in Shoreditch, writing a short story in my room because I’m the worst procrastinator in the history of ever.

FRIDAY: Taylor and Anna spent the morning at HARRY POTTER studios, but since I already paid for a trip with ISA for later in the semester, I couldn’t go (I suck at planning).
     Speaking of ISA, I headed down to their office that morning to drop off some money for another excursion. I casually buzzed in and went into the office doors expecting my normal ISA lady staff members, but instead -BAM- ALEX is just sitting at his desk like he’s been there his whole life (WHICH HE HASN’T BEEN because it’s been approximately 5 weeks since I’ve seen him there UGH).

     Yeah remember Alex? I know – he’s been MIA and it took me by surprise too, clearly. In fact when I came in, I thanked him for answering an email I had sent him, and he responded in a cool and chill way – so I’m thinking, ohhh he’s being all not-hyper and very hip today, so PLAY IT COOL SARAH PLAY IT COOL (note to self: never try to play it cool).
     Because After I was done paying the lady staff member my dues, I started to leave the office, not glancing at Alex (because I’m playing it cool), but then the dork went and swiveled around in his chair, waved both his hands, and was like “SEE YOU LATER!” with a huge grin.

To which, I, Sarahj, barely turned my head (because my playing-it-cool-persona was caught off guard), and stuttered, “You too!”

What?
WHAT’S THAT?
SARAH YOU’RE THE WORST KIND OF PERSON

      “Have a nice day!” Alex still managed to say in return, probably thinking, “bless that poor girl.” Because, really – bless it. I literally closed the ISA office door, and literally out loud said “I’m SO awkward” and face-palmed. I then heard a shuffling of feet in the complex’s hallway, and then it abruptly stopped. I didn’t question it, and scurried down the stairs and onto the street, thanking whoever was about to walk by me in the hallway for hearing my external monologue and letting me leave with my last bit of dignity by not crossing my path. Thank you, kind stranger. (I can’t make this stuff up, guys).

But it’s fine, I just had Miley Cyrus’ classic, “See You Again” playing as my mantra all weekend long.

     But ANYWAYS later in the day, I planned to meet up with the gal pals near Victoria station in Cafe Nero. Needless to say, I COULD NOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME find them or this supposed Cafe Nero, so we instead decided to meet at Buckingham Palace (casual).

But getting lost still provides for some nice adventures:

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That’s a lot of moss

     I was excited to see the Buckingham Palace area again too, because when I went there the second day of being in London, I wasn’t really there, ya know? So it was nice to wait for Anna and Taylor to meet me there, so I could snap some good pics:

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That’s Big Ben saying “HAI GUYZ”
Not now, Ben.

We went walking along the Buckingham Gardens and then across the Green Park (so originally named).

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     We later went that night to a pub in Shoreditch called “The Masque Haunt” – that has three favorite things of mine: DELISH food, CHEAP food, & an awesome atmosphere. So it was a no-brainer.
     Brittney met up with us there, and we spent the night mostly observing the guys people around us. FUN TIMES (seriously).

SATURDAY: VALENTINE’S DAYYYY – I can say that with glee and happiness because I don’t let holidays that remind me that I’m single get me down. Mostly because I usually forget the holiday even exists because I don’t have a boyfriend to remind me of it…er, but it’s okay!

     After we went to Borough Market for lunch (CANNOT. WILL. NOT. get over this place), we went over to the V&A (The Victoria and Albert Museum) – since these two were the epitome of what a relationship should be, it was only appropriate. Dis place. Such beauty. Much history.

     Because we were in Kensington, that means everything is 1000x more swanky and fancy, meaning I look even more like a tourist/commoner, gawking at everything. I even forgot to take lots of pics, but here are some not-so-great ones if you’d like to take a glimpse into what the place has to offer:

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Aslan doesn’t appreciate flash photography.
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That’s a beaver, not saying anything.
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“I don’t know, for a pond that commemorates their one-time ruler…shouldn’t it be a bit more…grand?”

     After, we went to The Natural History Museum, which was exploding with people, small and tall, and was almost unbearable, had it not been for ALL THE ANIMALS.

Note: none of the animals were alive, but I freaking love learning about animals – both real and fictional. I was that child that owned every single “Walking with Dinosaurs” DVD collection and watched all 4 hours of each on repeat.

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This is what the outside looked like
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Massive whale that took up the whole room – this picture seriously doesn’t do it justice!
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bruh.
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     Since we were in the area, we also decided to show Anna Kensington Palace and Gardens, which no matter the weather, is such a nice view. And as Brittney pointed out, sometimes when it’s cloudy and dreary, it just makes it feel that much more like London – AKA like you’re in an Edgar Allen Poe short story or poem. And as long as I’m not Annabel Lee, I think we’re all good.

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America’s side of the Albert Memorial (Not pictured: A man in a loin cloth, holding a rifle).
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     After we were done looking at the Royals, we got really hungry, and we got to eat NANDO’S which I was REALLY excited about, since the last time I ate it, I was jet-lagged-dead, and let me tell you…Niall knows what’s up, because that Peri Peri chicken is everything.
No pics of the experience – deliciousness too beautiful to document.

     Later that night, since it was Valentine’s day, we wanted a cool place to get dessert and drinks – and oops, we decided upon the same pub in Shoreditch, “The Masque Haunt.” Not a mistake, because this ended up being my Valentine’s date:

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You’re beautiful…in every single waaay…

SUNDAY: Anna and Taylor went to the Tower of London in the morning (something I had already been to through ISA yet again, so I skipped out paying a second time), but I met them and Anna’s roommate Maddie after lunch. We went to HARRODS to show Anna the mansion that it is, and got enthralled even more so by the TOY section than the last time we were there.
     We also got our accents imitated by one of the store employees – we said a few words, and he instantly switched over to saying “y’all.” Always a fun time.

     After chilling in a nearby Cafe Nero (I was able to find this one!), we decided we needed somewhere to get a cheap dinner and then head in earlier since Anna had an early flight the next morning. AND OOPS AGAIN we decided that “The Masque Haunt” was the ideal choice. In other words, this has become “our” pub and is a new fave (3 nights in a row…heh…heh).

     Plus, our location this third consecutive time (sounds more pathetic when I write it out but IT’S FINE) gave us (or at least Anna and I) prime staring capabilities on a nearby table, where a SUPER cute guy was sitting with another girl and a couple across from them that wouldn’t stop being all over each other (a common European theme, but sometimes it’s like CALM DOWN). Point is, we spent the whole night trying to figure out what language they were all speaking and we just couldn’t pinpoint it (I’m talking like I’m this linguistic, when really I can’t even identity spanish half the time, let alone UK English).
     Either way, we had fun staring at the cute pub guy who we kept questioning where he was from, thinking of cheesy pick up lines like, “Where are you from, but more importantly, where are you going?”
     Give us a small break only because Valentine’s Day was the day before (just kidding, we’re always this ridiculous).

**Other point, this story is important later~~

     Monday was just class and general activities, but then TUESDAY: WAS FREAKING FLIPPIN PANCAKE DAY. This is a holiday America needs to embrace in full force, and IHOP’s celebration of International Pancake Day (which is not the same thing) just won’t cut it anymore.

     Brittney and I got up early to go to the Westminster part of town, near Big Ben that morning. Across from it and Parliament, a charity hosts an annual race, pitting members of Parliament and members of the press against each other. The race involves each team wearing aprons and chef hats, running a relay, all while flipping pancakes along the way. Happiness and clumsy government people ensued:

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The press ended up winning, but Parliament was a good sport about it – here they are holding their fists up, while the middle one quotes Churchill:

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Oh, you notice that creepier than beyond all reason mascot? Yeah, we demanded a picture with her too.

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Also please note the gopro on this guy’s head. Bless:

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We also got to sit by the Thames for a bit, which is never a regret:

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     Afterwards, we went to a cafe in central London called, “The Riding House Cafe” where we had the most DELICIOUS pancakes on earth. They took a bit longer (I didn’t notice) than usual, so when they came out they were casually red, unlike most others (because they weren’t red velvet). This made the experience even more so delicious:

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They ruined me.

     Later that day, Brittney and I went to U of Westminster’s new Harry Potter society (club), and let me just say, it did not disappoint. I have found my people.
     Literally, the two hour meeting was filled with getting our houses, after being sorted on Pottermore of course, and in case anyone is wondering, I’M A RAVENCLAW as I’ve always known, but, you know – had to let you all know.
     We had a whole bunch of icebreakers within our house and then with the other houses, all revolving around HP and it was glorious. I always love dropping my HP knowledge, and I like it when those around me can pick it up.

     OK BUT CRAZY STORY TIME: remember when I said that whole “stalking the table next to us” at The Masque Haunt bit would be important later? WELL halfway through the meeting, we were told to go mingle with the other houses with a certain set of questions. As we were getting up to do so, I glance up at Gryffindor’s area and SEE CUTE FOREIGN PUB GUY sitting with the other Gryffindors.
I basically go all shell-shocked and freak out to Brittney in some low key way (which probably wasn’t that low key at all), and we basically sprinted over to Gryffindor’s area.
     We ended up in a circle group with a girl from Gryffindor and a guy from Slytherin. CUTE PUB GUY was kind of lingering near us as we talked (Brittney and I were basically internally screaming for him to join us).
TURNS OUT he is friends with the Gryffindor girl, as they are both from ROMANIA (ding ding ding we finally found out where he was from). When we shook hands with him I was kind of having a freak out, mainly because WHAT ARE THE CHANCES that the guy we stalked the night before is literally in the Harry Potter club meeting we are in a couple days later? CASUAL.
When they said where they were from, the Slytherin was like “Oh, so like where the Vampires are?” (typical Slytherin).
To which I was like, “No, isn’t that in Transylvania?”
And both of them got all defensive and were like “uh, YEAH yeah!” assuring us all. Turns out 1. Transylvania IS in Romania (gotta get that geography down), and 2. CUTE PUB GUY’S name is Stephen a ala Vampire Diaries.

I’m not saying they’re vampires, but…they’re vampires.

Either way, I want them to be my bffs and I think seeing cute pub guy two nights before is just a sign or something, ja feel?

WEDNESDAY: NO class, meant I was up for some alone me time in the big city. I got up for lunch (because I’m going to sleep in even if I try not to) and FINALLY headed back to Le Pain Quotidien – that cafe place that had the best porridge to exist. I had it again, and I didn’t have one regret.

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     Afterwards, I just started to walk around and essentially “got lost” in London – with my phone by side at all times of course – but the great thing about London, is that getting lost means finding new places every second, but always knowing there are people and a nearby tube station close by in case you need it. So my adventure was thoroughly and safely enjoyed. Plus I got to snap some pics that made me happy (they aren’t great pics, but rather I enjoyed seeing the subject in real life, and seeing the pictures reminds me of it):

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Then, I casually turned a corner and stumbled upon the beauty that is Piccadilly Circus aka England’s Time Square:

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That meant stumbling upon some intriguing characters, as well.
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yeah

     I think the best thing that happened though, is my phone suddenly died (even though it was on 13%. Come on Norman 3.0, don’t let me down) – but it was great because I got to sit by the statue in the middle of the circus (both the figurative and literal one), and just kind of, be. It was very nice.

THURSDAY: I woke up with a very scratchy throat and congested chest, so, this was my sick day ~ meaning I watched YouTube videos in bed all day.
Sadly (awesomely?), my sick days don’t sound too distant from normal life…

FRIDAY: In the morning (and by morning I mean, 2pm…), I went to the Breakfast Club again (where I went for my Birthday brunch with Taylor!) by myself and had delicious french toast, and also chatted with the same cute host that was there last time. When he asked where I was from, he started singing “GA on my mind” to me so that was all good fun. *heart eyed emoji*

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cool

     Later for dinner, we went back to The Masque Haunt for their “Fish Friday” special – meaning cheap and delicious fish and chips. I just don’t think we made a mistake in choosing this place as OUR pub.

SATURDAY: STONEHENGE AND BATH EXCURSION WOOT WOOT!!!!
I was super pumped for two reasons, 1. they changed our departure time from 8:15am to 9:15am and I rejoiced (it’s the little things, y’all), and 2. I WAS JUST REALLY EXCITED IN GENERAL.

     The way everyone talked about Stonehenge, they said to be ready to be “underwhelmed” – but I don’t know guys, I thought the mysterious stones were pretty freaking cool.

Why are they here? What do they want from us?

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They are literally on the side of a highway…this is the view from the bus #CASUALENGLANDTHINGS
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Brittney and I model when we can
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     Mind you, ALEX popped up out of literally nowhere while we were here, and I guess he has a knack for doing this, but all I’m saying is, that we are basically on best friend level with him (I mean he has that effect on every ISA student, but that’s not important).
     At one point in our convos he was trying to explain what side of the sidewalk Brits walk on (PSA: they have no freaking clue – they can’t decide and they don’t decide and it’s a great cause of stress for me – something I let Alex know), and he kept saying “Look,” to start off his points and that’s my favorite word in the British accent, and I easily mimicked him because we’re like, friends with him. Kind of.
     When I tried passing him once, he did that sixth-grader-flirting thing that we all secretly still giggle over, where he wouldn’t let me pass him and kept blocking me, and it’s like OH ALEX stahp ya makin me blush.

     LATER, after we left Stonehenge, we made our hour-long ride to Bath, England (surprise: just because most bus tours group these two places together in one excursion, they’re still not that close – booo).
     BATH was SO cool and kind of what I imagine a typical English town/city to look like – bustling, quaint, awesome, everything British – you get the idea.
     Also, the fact that these hot springs in the middle of nowhere brought people & society, and nobles, and royalty to this one place over the past centuries blows my mind, but obviously also makes absolute sense, and it is just so dang cool.

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Brittney likes to ruin panoramas 🙂
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Told you: actual hot spring

     While we walked around the museum next to the hot springs and baths, I felt a presence get real close behind me and I’m like UGH someone is invading my personal space again (it’s a common occurrence in the UK), I heard someone say behind me, “Are you causing trouble again?”
     To which I nearly screamed until I turned around and saw, of course, Alex. I scolded him, mostly because I don’t know what trouble he thinks I’m getting into, but I also don’t have a good enough come back each time he says this statement to me. Oh, Alex.

     We also went to the Jane Austen museum, realized it cost money & didn’t go on the tour, then perused the gift shop, and ended up having a nice chat with an Irish lady who worked there about America and the UK ~ always a fun time.

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This lovely fellow’s name tag read, “Mr. Bennett” – teehee ❤

     We walked around Bath after, and we even found the famous Crescent row of houses – so I finally had to throw what I know:

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I told you Brittney likes ruining panos
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Perdy Bath ❤

     These past couple weeks have been the illest – sorry for the delay in posting, mom and dad, but I hope you enjoyed these ramblings and lots of pretty pics!!! And for all you avid readers (hah hah), love you long time ❤

Cheers, and until next time!
Sarahj

London is the place for me

     Hello lovelies!!!! If you are reading this for the BAFTAS’ pics only (and I don’t blame you if you are – even if they are blurry and horrible bc AHHH I CAN’T CONTAIN MY FEELS), then you can scroll down to the bottom where endless pics of celebrities are and will make you weep with a “WHAT EVEN IS GOING ON” because PSA: those have been my emotions for the past 48 hours and will continue to be for the rest the next 5 years of my life at least.

But if you’re Mom and Dad, you can continue on to read about my week+!!

SATURDAY (last week): In the weekly newsletter ISA sends out to us, Alex (bae) mentioned a vintage sale happening right here in Shoreditch! Now, I’m not a crazy-ermergersh-shopper of vintage or anything, but this deal said to “fill up your whole bag for only 15 pounds!” and I thouht AY this kind of seems like a deal – plus it’d be BRITISH vintage clothes, so WIN.
     As I should, I told Taylor A about it (bc DUH), and she, along with her friend Katie, and Brittney and I, headed down to “The Paper Dress,” Saturday morning after a quick brunch at Apostrophe (a British cafe). When we got there, there was already a line, or as explained by a guy in front of us, “I know right? It’s a nightmare, there’s already a queue!”

     Let me tell you friends about my love for the British word “queue.” Now, I know, I know, there are some random uses of this term in the freedom English US language, but NOT like here in England.
     It is both a verb and a noun, used formally and informally, and has really no necessary use (because we already have words for “waiting” and “line”), but I am in actuality, obsessed with it. And I’m bringing it back to the States, and you can’t stop me, even if the word has four more letters than it should.

     K, anyways, back to the sale. We made out like bandits (student discount meant a bag = 12.50 pounds!) on clothes that we’ll most likely never wear, but couldn’t resist because WHAT IF we needed them for something or we were just feelin’ hipstery on certain days, ja feel?? I’m foreseeing horrendous function outfits decisions in my near senior year future.

     Here is a messy array of my selections because my photography skills are below average. Or maybe not, because I’m intentionally hiding a really ugly sweater I chose beneath all of these…..

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SUNDAY (Superbowl Sunday): I SLEPT IN SO LATE THIS DAY, even though I told myself to get up and work on my Alice in Wonderland Presentation (NEWSFLASH: I’ve told myself this very statement every morning for the past week and I failed terribly at following through). But I eventually did, and read the entirety of Alice in an hour (the jokes and puns are funnier now that I’m older and I think we should all give Lewis Carroll some more credit because there is NO definite proof that he was on drugs when he wrote this clever & short novel [but lolol that caterpillar is sitting on a mushroom with a hookah, so, sure]).

     But then…the Superbowl happened, which means since it came on at 6:30 back home, it started at 11:30 here….BUT I WAS SUPER STRONG AND RESILIENT (more like lazy) and didn’t even go anywhere to watch it, and after trying desperately to find live-feed for it (I was also too lazy to get a US IP address oops), I settled for opening up PowerPoint and Word and getting my presentation and essay going.
     But ugh, then Twitter and Left Shark happened, so you can all guess how late I stayed up (it’s most likely later than you’re even assuming, so we’ll just stop here).

MONDAY: Oops, after getting zero hours of sleep I woke up (but did I really? Or did I just open my eyes), I rushed to my 10am class to give my presentation.
     This was of course after I left at 8:15am & waited through 3 packed Tube trains to come by, until I could get on the 4th one, then to race to the ISA office to print things for the presentation, to only see they didn’t open until 10am after I buzzed them 50 times outside their door idiotically, then to sprint to the Westminster campus library to find a printer, to accidentally set off a fire alarm (cool), to only realize it was a false alarm after I panicked to a professor (casual), to finding the printer, to paying a stupid 25 pence per page, to then running to class & being caught practicing my speech to the empty room by a fellow classmate (ughhh).

But you know, all in a normal day right?

     In other words, I crushed my presentation with my demonstration of how Wonderland is Adulthood and how we all really don’t know what the actual heck is going on – and my professor was like “that was good,” and I’m like, I KNOW I gave blood and tears for this and Alice is now no longer a children’s book for me, but ya know, WHATEVER.

     I actually contributed a lot to our two hour long discussion on the story too, because I actually read the whole book for a change!
     Another PSA: English majors may like to let you think we read every single text we’re assigned, but they are lying to you. We use Sparknotes and Wikipedia like no other, they are our lifelines. Don’t let us make you feel literary-ly inferior (pretend you didn’t read this bit, mom and dad).

     So after I passed out on my bed after class for a solid 5 hours (I wish I was joking), Brittney said we should go to a free comedy club that Alex, again, recommended in our weekly newsletter. Free in London means Sarahj is so down to go any time, any place.

     Upon arriving, we entered the sweetest English pub ever (well, after the Charles Dickens one), and stood in the queue (heh) for a bit before the free show started. On Mondays, it’s an Improv show, and the normal group that stars is called “Shoot the Hip!” and consisted of 3 guys this day, with one of them looking suspiciously like Colin Morgan AKA Merlin. Please look below and realize the truth:

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All this is doing is revealing that I watch Merlin isn’t it…

     They were extremely funny and had me choking with laughter, and reminded me a lot of “Who’s Line is it Anyway?” So A++.

     Afterwards, they did ask for a small donation of FIFTEEN POUNDS WHAT EVEN, but said we could give what we could – which meant Brittney and I dug around our wallets for a pence of any variety. OOPS, sorry we thought free meant free?

Quote of the night:
*During a Tindr Shakespeare themed skit*
“Swipe right, Swipe left, but nay, never shall I swipe forward – nay, nay, nay.”

TUESDAY: My Professional Writing class was less dance-involved than last time, but just as informative. This day’s lesson was about getting published, which is of course, every writer’s dream and scariest nightmare, so it was so great to learn about the subject from an actual author (my professor). He gave us a website that lists every single publishing company in Britain, which I keep telling myself will come in handy when I drop everything and move here after 2016 (obvi).

     On another great note, I’m officially friends with a German girl in this class (she’s also in my other one, and gave a presentation on Alice as well), and she’s so freaking cool. She’s super sweet, and we discussed Germany for a bit and how she was an Au Pair in England for a while (SHE’S MY IDOL), and I just think she’s really awesome ok, cool.

     After I came home from class, I ran into my Japanese flatmate in our kitchen and we started having a chat about Japanese culture and I gave her my best “Konichiwa,” to which she clapped with glee over how I said it correctly! HUZZAH thanks Kim Possible and Jesse McCartney!

Don’t act like y’all don’t get these references

     I tried to relate to Anime for her by telling her about my love for Avatar: The Last Airbender (the show, not the movie DUHHHHH), but she only said “Oh, the blue people?”

     Curse you James Cameron (but not really) – because of you I’m going to have to write a separate blog post one day explaining the goodness that is The Last Airbender.

     Anyways, she’s so nice and funny, and embraced my freak out over her Wuthering Heights Japanese edition – JUST LOOK AT IT. She even translated a bit of it for me!

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Family tree of the Earnshaws and Lintons! Heathcliff 5ever

     Sorry, Wuthering Heights simply rocks, and no one ever agrees with me on this fact (except for you, Brittney, so S/O for that), so I was fangirling hard. Brittney also thinks Catcher in the Rye is awesome (YEAUH), but I’ve still yet to find someone who shares the same emotions as I do for Lord of the Flies…sigh.

WEDNESDAY: I went to meet up with my friend Tessa this day to plan ~*~*~*Travels*~*~*~ After planning a trip to ATHENS WHAT UP, Tessa took me to the greatest place of all.

     Forbidden Planet. Just look. Look at this place. Pics don’t do it justice, but it is EVERY NERD’S DREAM. I’m talking every fandom ever has a home here, and we spent a good amount of time in there just gawking and squealing over everything. My fave British YouTubers, Dan and Phil, made a video once inside this store, so I squealed even more over it all.

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Eleven is like HERE’S A SHOPPING BASKET to fill up with things you need
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This is the lower level bookstore. Help.

     Then Tessa took me down Charing Cross Road and we explored 3 separate quaint bookstores and it was absolute heaven. I can’t explain in words how lovely they were. Needless to say, I was in paradise:

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Tessa + Sarah Mirror Selfie Feat. Books on Books on Books
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Books on bae

THURSDAY: For my class, we spent the 3 hour long period (I have to keep reminding y’all of how long this class is so you’ll know my pain) in the Museum of London – HURRAY!!! Our assignment was to find three specific pieces of art/artifacts and write a scene regarding them. I explored the place with my friend Jack and new friend Sarah from the class.
     After having a great time wandering and writing around the Museum, the three of us made our way to lunch, when we decided CHARLES DICKENS’ pub was close by. Sarah and I had been, but Jack never had so DUH it was a necessity to go. It can be noted that the food there is also amazing. A Turkey, Raspberry, and Brie panini – that is all I have to say.

     Later that night, Brittney and I returned to the comedy club as something to do (with enough for a donation this time). This night’s act was basically a stand up comedian host who introduced 6 different acts throughout the night. The first 3 acts were the most awkward and worst thing EVER.
     LUCKILY, the host was super hysterical and the last three acts were MUCH better and funny!

This time I got a shot of the pub with the bartender that looks like a Disney prince – can you spot him?

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     After it was over, we gave our donation to the host. When he said thank you, I told him, “Thank you very much!”
     My accent must be really noticeable in just those few words, because he stopped me and was like “Woah, wait where are you from?!”
     I of course said, America, and he asked where exactly, and I said GA – he then asked Brittney and she said TX, to which he was like “oh, of course you are.”
     The perception of Texans here is hilarious and expected, and I hope my parents appreciate that I try to talk it up as a great state while I’m here. You’re welcome, guys. He asked why we didn’t mention we were American during the performance (he asked who wasn’t from the UK at the beginning) – we made it clear to him that, “Would you say you’re from America in a room packed full of drunk English people?” Nah.

Quote of the night: “We Brits don’t like being compared to Americans do we? They’ve been independent for the last 200 years and they still can’t get the darn date written right!”
*Drunk British people cackle in relation*

FRIDAY: Taylor A and Brittney and I decided it was time to tackle HARRODS. In case you don’t know what this glorious place is, it’s a massive I-don’t-even-know-how-many-endless-stories department store that holds everything you could ever want. All ranging from the prices of 1 million to 3 billion pounds – with some clothing items on sale for half a mil, if you’re lucky.

     But anyways, before we entered the marvelous store, we went to this random place called “Cafe Concerto” for lunch – and I wish, I wish, I wish I got a cliche pic of my meal.

     We all literally swooned over our dishes. I had a chicken and avocado sandwich that was heavenly, and it CAME with fries. Our open motto here is “I like my curry with rice and my burgers with fries” because these luxuries you take for granted in America – London gives you a life-check on. Just FYI.

     After the meal of our lives, we went to Harrods (I keep saying it to the tune of “He went to Jarod’s!” You may too). OH. MY. GOODNESS. I can’t even with this place. It was all too fabulous, all too expensive, all too fantastic. It had everything under the sun in there(except for the pet shop they closed down last year 😦 sadness), and everything was SO PRICEY but it was so cool.

Look at these pics and try and grasp how cool it was:

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Not gonna lie, we spent a majority of the time in this tea & coffee place, because we’re us
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It was at this point that I was questioning if people like me were even allowed in this store…
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My Bear Friends
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My Giraffe Friend
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Super amazing HP memorabilia
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The Princess Diana and Al Fayed Memorial

     Later that night we went back to Tay’s place in Kensington and watched “The Young Victoria” together WHILE BEING NEAR KENSINGTON PALACE, UGH SURREAL and sobbed over the perfection that is Prince Albert. Ugh again.

     Then we went to Wagamama (finally!), where I had some DELISH curry (it came with rice too!) and two very hyper waiters. Taylor and I also split this rice wrapped frozen ice cream and it was beyond amazing. I don’t even know what I ate, but I felt a bit like Mia in Prince Diaries, and that’s okay.

SATURDAY: ISA had our 8am (help) excursion to Canterbury and Dover!!! This was a really fun trip and lasted nearly the whole day, YOWZA, but I managed to stay awake for it – here are some pictures that just don’t show how beautiful everything is:

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Quaint Canterbury!
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We were finally able to take pictures in a Catherdral – and the Canterbury Cathedral is beyond beautiful.
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Flawless stain glass for days:
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See that little white cross on the ceiling? That’s the church’s crest, and it is a tiny trap door that the builders used long ago to haul supplies up to the roof. Casual.
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The gal pals and I outside the marvelous place
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White Cliffs of Dover!
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A scenic shot of sheep and Dover Castle
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France is kind of behind us
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Aw someone already scratched my name in for me!
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Then we toured the Secret Tunnels of Dover – where Operation Dynamo was planned (to save English and French soldiers at Dunkirk surrounded by the Germans)

Remember that reealllly long scene from Atonement that was shot in one full take (because I know you’re all as obsessed with movie trivia as me)? That was set at Dunkirk. And James McAvoy was there. Also, Keira Knightly. Also, my grandfather most likely walked in these tunnels (he fought in England and France during WWII), so that was probably the coolest of all these things, and made the trip that much more special!

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We couldn’t take many pics underground, but here’s one of the tunnels (set up as how it would have been during WWII)!
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“Best view in the house” – that window is carved right out of the White Cliffs!

     Later that night, I remembered my French Flatmate, Lina (she’s super awesome), had invited me to her friend’s birthday party that night, that was taking place in another building of my dorm! After a long nap, Brittney and I headed over to this French guy’s birthday bash who we didn’t know (but it’s fine).      There, we had an awesome time and met SOOOO many international people, particularly three new DANISH friends!! AWESOME.

Everyone else kept asking them, “Oh where in Denmark are you from? COPENHAAGEN RIGHT??!”

But I was like, “DENMARK. HAMLET, RIGHT?!”

     They were like, “Oh, that’s Shakespeare, right? Does that take place in Denmark?”
     To me, this would be like someone asking if Superman was an American superhero, but I suppose this is normal for them to not know. But come on, there’s a “rotten stench in Denmark” – how do they not smell it? 🙂

My fave questions were,

“So in America…do you own a gun? Have you fired one? You have?! WOAH.”
“What’s the difference between ‘up’ and ‘down?’ As in, ‘I’m down for that!’ and ‘I’m up for that!’ Why do they mean the same thing???”
“Why do you guys say, ‘How are you?’ every time you see someone? I’m not ready to give you my day’s story!”

     Love them. Love them also because one of the girl’s said she was going to the BAFTAS the next day – to which Brittney and I were surprised because we somehow thought these had already passed. But we said we’d join them DUH, and that then led to the best night of my life the following day.

SUNDAY: ALRIGHT, THE MOMENT YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR. THE BAFTAS. THE DAY THAT CHANGED MY LIFE.

     That morning, we read somewhere that apparently, to get on the side of the red carpet, you’d need a wristband – but this didn’t deter Brittney and I, because we knew that without one, you can still manage getting glimpses of famous friends (a la “Into the Woods” and “Mortdecai”).

     So two of our new Danish friends, Anita and Anne, Taylor, Brittney, and I met up at Covenant Garden around 2pm outside the Royal Opera House – because that’s where the awards were taking place.

We got this killer shot of the red carpet:
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     We asked this security guard lady if we could stay where we were standing – but she kindly warned us that the cars would be driving through there, and pointed us to where the general public was allowed. We chose our spot, and remained there for the majority of the time (this is an important tidbit to remember in a minute).

     Anita, Anne, and Brittney were leaning against the fence to view when the cars drove up, so Taylor and I moved up a little bit closer to get a better view behind some other people. There was a random pole that was behind us, that didn’t look like anything special, but aided us in getting AMAZING shots of our fave celebrities. And by amazing, I mean crappiest shots ever, but does that really matter? Nay, I say.

     We passed the next 3 hours by playing games and getting food in shifts and probably annoying most of the Brits around us, but a lovely older British couple in front of us seemed amused by our American fangirl antics, so it’s all okay.

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We so cute and famous

So, when the stars began to arrive, we absolutely lost it. We absolutely could not contain our chill.

Let’s just list out who we saw in pics~

SAM CAFLIN: I literally screamed FINNICK so loud I kid you not.
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MORIARTY (ANDREW SCOTT): he turned his head whenever everyone screamed Moriarty!
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EDDIE REDMAYNE: a really bad pic of him but he’s there so it’s fine
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JAMES MCAVOY: casually walking in with his flawless wife, it’s WHATEVER
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After I took this one I started crying, and Taylor can vouch for that:
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REESE WITHERSPOON: looking legally blonde
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AMY ADAMS: promise it’s her
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DIANNA AGRON: is she still on Glee? W/e she’s cool
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DOUGLAS BOOTH: and all his gorgeousness
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THE OTHER MORIARTY: rdj edition
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MY LOVE EDWARD NORTON: I just really like him a lot ok
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hey STEVE CARRELL:
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FELICITY JONES:
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AND then something amazing happened. WITHOUT ANY WARNING BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH JUST POPS UP OUT OF HIS CAR AND BLOWS THE WHOLE WORLD AWAY. I CAN’T EXPRESS MY EMOTIONS PROPERLY, SO HERE:
He’s running out his car to his Fiancee’s aid:
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He’s like, “oh my goodness she’s beautiful”:
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He’s like, “darling, you look beautiful”:
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     It still hasn’t fully hit me that I was about 10 feet away from Benedict Cumberbatch, but I just can’t right now, and my life will never be the same. And just when you think you’re doing ok (and by ok, I mean hyperventilating), DAVID BECKHAM HAS TO SHOW UP AND RUIN IT ALL:

On his way to steal yo gurl:
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And then looking fine as WHAT EVEN:
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And then Julianne Moore showed up, and I’m not like crazy about her, but she looked fab (plus when she said “I’m hungry” when she presented her award, I connected with her emotionally):
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     Okay, so by now, I’m dead right? Right. But I keep yelling at Taylor, WHY IS TOM NOT HERE YET WHY ISN’T HE HERE I JUST WANT A GLIMPSE OF HIS FACE PLEASE
     And I wouldn’t shut up about it. Well, let me just tell you one thing: I didn’t even see the man get out of his car or arrive at all. I seriously just randomly looked over towards the red carpet (to my right), and saw red hair peeping up over all the fans.

I straight up in a very very calm voice, patted Taylor on the shoulder and said, “Taylor, Tom is over there.”

Literally, in the tone of, “Let’s go eat breakfast” or “The sky looks blue today.” WHAT EVEN RIGHT???
She was like WHAT sarah wut r u sayin

I stared in disbelief for approximately 2.3 seconds and then I TOOK THIS PICTURE AND CRIED:
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     Mind you, that this is VERY zoomed in – and at first, I wasn’t going to move because I thought, wait I’m going to be blocked by the gates keeping me from the side of the red carpet. But then I slapped myself and said SARAHJ, THIS IS TOM FREAKING HIDDLESTON, YOU RUN OVER THERE UNTIL SOMEONE OR SOMETHING STOPS YOU.

     Well, my friends, it’s a good thing I did, because it turns out security either took down the blockades keeping wristband-less folks from entering the red carpet sidelines, or maybe they were just never there, but either way I see this as Divine Intervention. How on earth did this just happen for just TOM? For ME? I WAS SHAKING SO BADLY AND TURNED THE CORNER TO SEE THIS:

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HAHAHA it’s funny this is a gif of Benedict and I just saw him and hahaha I’m crying help.

     

SO CLOSE YET SO FAR I HAD TO GET NEARER HIM. AND NEARER I GOT:
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     Sent a pic like this to Taylor very casually and told her to get her self over there ASAP. And then I cried because I actually took this picture:

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     LOOK. JUST LOOK. I screamed so loud and everyone stared, and afterwards I made a public statement saying, “I’m done now, I apologize for any sounds that escaped my mouth during that short moment there.”

They all smiled and said Cheers or something.

     Then Cuba Gooding Jr. showed up late, but I was still crying over Tom. OH MY GOODNESS.

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     Let it be known that we also saw Keira Knightly (but with no good pics :/), and wait for it…CHRIS EVANS.

-CHRIS EVANS-

WE ACTUALLY SAW HIM FOR 2.5 SECONDS BEFORE HE SWIFTLY DISAPPEARED. IT WAS EVERYTHING WE EVER WANTED AND WE SCREAMED SO LOUD.

The Brits were like, “who was that?” and we screamed “CAPTAIN AMERICA” in their faces. oops.
Sigh, there for a mere moment, forever in our memories ❤

     Also, my love Ethan Hawke was in attendance, but I never saw him, but I can’t even be bitter right now, so maybe another time, my Handsome Hawke. ❤

     So, after this day, my life is officially made, and I can leave London now but also I can never leave London because I want to live here for the rest of my life, and this place has everything I could ever want and I just love it so, so much.

IN conclusion:

After this week,
I’m fine, I’m fine…no I’m not.

Welp, if you’ve made it this far, I probably love you ❤ Until next time!!!

Cheers,
Sarahj