And other Wicked awesome things.
I'm going to make this blog as brief as possible since I'm running on about 3 hours of sleep following leaving London for Dijon this morning to make class here in Dijon today. Study abroad and traveling has done a really good job of teaching me to give up sleep and deal with it. You can do a lot more things with the extra time that way, see more sights, travel more, and since the workload is still almost nonexistent over here, it's worked out great.
Last week was pretty low key for the most part, with a few small highlights. The housing situation here is still an absolutely mess and continues to cause problems, which consumed more time for me last week than my classes did. I went and toured a new flat across Dijon, it's sort of an apartment styled place in the basement of a single woman's home. That was quite the experience, because she spoke no English, and I didn't know this beforehand, so I basically went apartment shopping in a foreign country in a foreign language. Quite the experience to say the least. Luckily, my French is good enough that I was able to communicate most of my ideas, understand most of what was being said, and it all worked out. It's in a beautiful part of Dijon on a Lake I haven't seen yet, and the apartment is great. The downsides are taking a bus to campus and the train station requiring a monthly bus pass, and the general pain of moving all my stuff again. It was also the first time I had ridden in a car since leaving Denver, which was weird, and she neglected to tell me she wasn't driving me back to campus, so I was left to explore and figure out the bus system on my own, in a foreign language. It all worked out in the end, but if you thought navigating the Denver bus system was bad, just try this the next time you're alone in a foreign country where you barely speak the language. I may end up moving to this residence, but things are still uncertain. The residence I'm in currently looks more and more likely like it has bed bugs, but the French don't have a word for bed bugs, which makes everything challenging. And regardless, I don't think they'll actually let me move out without taking my money, so it's all a mess. At this point the figure ranging around 500 Euros has changed 3 times, so I've asked for an official record and receipts of payment from them, which I haven't received yet. As far as I'm concerned the ball is in their court to get the money out of me, and I'm going to keep fighting the bed bugs problem. I really hope this thing ends soon because it's put my study abroad experience in a completely different light than I ever would have expected or wanted, but who knows where it'll go from here.
The highlight of last week was Wednesday when I returned home from class to an email from Denver saying that my story which was featured on DU Today online is going to be printed and run in the Denver quarterly magazine, which gets sent out to over 100,000 alumni, faculty, staff, students, parents, and affiliates worldwide. I sent them a few hires pictures of me as requested, and can't wait to see what the finished product looks like. It blows my mind how big this story has become. I told my parents and best friend the day it happened and that was it, viewing it more as a right place right time and preparation plus opportunity equals success kind of thing. Since then, I've been in the Vail paper twice, the Salida paper twice, been on an online Colorado news site I didn't even know was published, been on the BSA website as an Eagle Scout who saves a life, been in DU Today and on the front page of the DU website, and now this. It blows my mind because I didn't think anything of it when it happened. I'm honored and flattered by all of it, and I'm curious to see the reactions I get from people when the DU Magazine goes out. So, when you receive a copy of the magazine, look for me in there!!
And lastly, I spent this last weekend visiting London with my Filipino friends! By far the coolest city I've ever visited and I think it's the coolest city in the world. I took an early train Saturday morning to arrive there by noon (Dijon to Paris, Paris to London), which was relatively pain free. The Chunnel is incredibly overrated and Eurostar charges obnoxious fees to ride the train from Paris to London, but it was better than flying from my my Filipino friends told me since they all flew. The so called Chunnel is just 30 minutes of darkness underground before you emerge on land again. No tunnel underwater views, no open water views, nothing fancy. When I arrived there I checked into our hostel and dropped my stuff to meet my friends about 20 minutes away at Hyde Park for a walking tour. On the tour we got to see Hyde Park, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, a couple of the old palaces from former kings and queens, a London protest, Westminster Abbey, among other awesome things. All of the pictures are posted in a gallery that I've linked below. After the walking tour we went and had midafternoon lunch at a local pub, where I ordered two burgers (they were on special, I promise!) and promptly enjoyed the first two beef burgers I've had since leaving the States. They weren't Cherry Cricket burgers by any means, but I was satisfied. I tried a local ale with the meal as well, which was great. I'm trying to sample a local beer in every country I visit, along with wines in places like France and Italy.
After this, we headed to Covent Gardens, which is kind of an open air market area with shops and outlet shops. We looked in stores for a bit (man is Burberry London expensive...who buys that stuff anyways?) and then headed to Apollo Victoria Theatre for what was probably the highlight of the trip for me...Wicked in London. Words can't really do it justice, honestly. It was just so so SO good. Chills the whole time. Set was incredible and world class, and the cast was even better. Truly the best musical in the world with its best and strongest cast. Unbelievable. Well worth the money I spent on those tickets. Afterwards we all regrouped and headed back to the hostel. After dropping our things at the hostel we headed to Baker Street since I've played gigs at probably every Baker Street Pub in the state of Colorado and wanted to see the real thing. Unfortunately, Baker Street is really just a bunch of shops in London for the most part, but it was cool just so I can say I've been there now I guess. That concluded Saturday in London. Sunday, we headed to the Tower of London for a tour there, which was really awesome as well, and right next to the Tower of London bridge (commonly referred to as the London bridge, even though it's not). Inside the Tower of London is also where the Queens royal jewelry collection is stored, including the crowns and the 530 karat diamond. Yeah, it's absolutely huge. And yeah, the case was surrounded by girls. It was still cool thought. That afternoon my friend and I went to see Lion King the musical also, which was not as good as Wicked in my opinion, but the choreography and costume designs were phenomenal and it was still incredible. After this we headed towards the London eye where I met up with an old friend of mine. He and I went to Regis high school in Denver, and he's a junior at DU this year, so it was awesome to connect with him, a fellow Coloradoan, and just talk and catch up. He's spending a semester in London right now. We both went up in the Eye of London together too, where I caught some awesome pictures and an absolutely killer 360 panoramic shot, linked below. We stopped by the train station on the way back to the hostel to visit Platform 9 and 3/4 from Harry Potter, but this basically concluded our night and trip to London. We went back to the hostel, crashed, and I got up at 330am to head to the train station for my 530am train back to Paris and then back to Dijon since I had French class tonight.
Needless to say, class wasn't nearly as exciting as London and running on 3 hours of sleep I almost passed out in class, but I made it out ok. This week should be a pretty light week of class, again, before leaving Friday evening for Zurich in Switzerland with my Filipino friends. We're coming back Sunday evening, and Monday the 17th will be my 22nd birthday. After spending my last two birthdays on the summit of 14ers in Colorado with some of my best friends, I'm trying to come up with an equally creative and awesome way to spend this year's birthday. Right now I'm considering the Eiffel Tower in Paris since it's close, or a brief train ride to the Alps or Italy for the day. Either way, it should be a great day. The weekend after this one, we've already started trying to plan another trip. I'm considering taking the weekend "off" and staying here to rest for a weekend especially since there are rumors that SNCF is planning a strike around then, but no plans have really been decided yet. Either way, every week promises to be an adventure here with constant unexpected things popping up and new places and countries to see and explore. As always, enjoy the pictures and 360s posted below, and stay tuned for more travel stories and pictures from Switzerland and beyond!
London Pictures. I actually put some time into the captions here, so take some time to read them!
From the top of the London Eye at night: http://t.co/9y7g8HOx
Inside the lobby of the Apollo Victoria Theatre before Wicked: http://t.co/bgJ5bmTs