For my British Pop Culture class, we went on a field trip to get a tour of the Royal Pavilion and to enjoy high tea there too. King George IV lived here in Brighton and ordered for this lavish palace to be made. George was homies with Beau Brummel, and they both championed the dandy revolution (OMG! TBT TO FRESHMAN YEAR AND ONE OF THE MOST UNFORGETTABLE ENGLISH R1B CLASSES EVER AKA 'THE BONDS OF TASTE' @ Michelle Cabal!). I wish we were allowed to take pictures inside because the interior was so crazy opulent. For example, the dining hall had a dragon's claws holding up this chandelier that weighed one ton! After the tour, we had high tea and it was everything we imagined. There were cute sandwiches, cakes, scones that looked like American biscuits with the works (clotted cream & jam), and tea + cream to go around. Our professor even hooked it up with aluminum (aluminium, i guess?!) foil to take some treats home. Fun fact: This is the second photo I took of Camille sitting across from me because I totally messed up the first shot with my hat.
Today, I didn't have class because we're going on a field trip tomorrow. As soon as I woke up, I knew I wasn't going to leave Northfield. All I did was reheat my penne leftovers in the kitchen, and pretty much that was the only time I left my flat. It's nice to take a break from the outside world for a bit and to retreat into the black hole of Netflix that consumes my free time. I made it to the end of Season 2 of Community, which makes me kinda proud. Earlier this afternoon, I attempted to make plans with someone when they offered me to go to this taxidermy museum with them on Friday (random, I know!), but Michelle, Sey, and I will be in Copenhagen this weekend. I never thought I'd say this, but it's kinda cool that being in Denmark gets me an excuse from social interaction.
It's no secret that I love One Direction. I've been a fan of boy bands for the last 16 years, which I've always been candid about to everyone I've met. But, for a time, I had a phase when I was into, quote, unquote, British indie bands. It definitely had something to do with their accents and tousled hair and general obscurity. In high school, I'd sit in my room for hours watching Burberry acoustic videos on a loop. It was my side schtick when I wasn't entrenched in the scene or fawning over 1D's "Gotta Be You" music video.
Pegasus Bridge is one of my favorite bands of all time, which is one of my most well-kept secrets. They broke up in 2011, but the music they did make in the short span of their existence represented everything I loved during that period of adolescence. I know this sounds very hipster, but one of the main reasons I loved them was that they weren't mainstream (in America, at least). It felt like their songs spoke to me and me alone, so I rarely shared any mention of them to my friends. I was just young and selfish. One of their songs called "Ribena" (just FYI, Ribena is a English soft drink brand) is especially angsty and it goes something like:
"Oh no darling, don't forget that I'm still the same boy. But now I drink coffee, not just Ribena, and I like it, I like it."
There isn't a day that goes by lately that I don't miss being a teenager who would listen to Pegasus Bridge on her hand-me-down iPod nano, thinking she was the coolest girl in Weston Ranch.
Now, I think I'm grappling with the fear that comes with an onslaught of impending change. I'm gearing up for a new phase of life that I've been dreading since my first year of college. Going on interviews for "real" jobs, the grueling touch-and-go period of waiting for good news from employers, deciding whether or not this offer will be the one for me... all of it terrifies me and even though I'm here in England, having the time of my life, it's always there in the back of my mind.
A part of me is yearning for when times were simpler, when I knew all I wanted was to get as far away as possible from Stockton and to go to Cal to study business.
Earlier this afternoon, I found bottles of Ribena at the library cafe, so I bought one of the mango-lime variety. I sipped my Ribena today and thought about how Edward Turner's voice still speaks to me like it did half a decade ago.
Tbh, I didn't think we'd make it back. HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY TO US! When we left our hotel in Venice, Michelle, Angelique, and I were all prepared for the worst. We had such bad luck with Easy Jet that I'm surprised we finally got back to England. Sadly, the weather was just as gloomy and rainy as we left it. It wasn't long before we were pining for the Italian sunshine we became accustomed to during the weekend. After getting off the Gatwick Express, we had dinner at Pompoko to get our rice fix of the day. As much as we wanted to eventually return to our university, we kept pondering the continental breakfasts, comfy hotel beds, and the copious amounts of gelato stands we left behind in the country we fell in love with during the course of a weekend.
Instead of being stuck in our hotel rooms, Michelle, Angelique, and I went to Verona for the day. First stop: Casa di Giulietta. Juliet's courtyard was swarming with tourists, all of whom were hasty to photograph themselves touching the right boob of her bronze statue for good luck finding true love. I opted not to, which means I'll probably end up forever alone but I'll just take the L. I don't understand why people would cop a feel for that purpose. Didn't they read the play?! She dies!!! If anything, I would think she would bring bad luck. There was graffiti everywhere on the walls of the courtyard as well, all notes from visitors across the globe. It was such a crazy spectacle to behold, but seeing the balcony (albeit for a fictional character) was worth the trip. However, when Taylor Swift's poorly written "Love Story" got stuck in my head and even more couples came in droves, I knew it was time to go.
We started our Saturday morning thinking it would be our last day in Italy. We ventured through Venice and admired the sight of gondolas and the endless number of canals. We even managed to do some quality sale shopping at a Double Agent store. Then, the unthinkable happened. Okay, I'm lowkey dramatic but Michelle got a highkey troubling notification on her phone that our flight back home to England was cancelled. As soon as she told us the news, we made our way to the Venice Marco Polo Airport. After about an hour of waiting, we found out that the only flight we could get would be a Monday one at 4 pm! That meant that Michelle and I would miss our Stonehenge and Bath trip on Sunday that we already paid for, and all of us would miss class. We were outraged, but there was nothing we could do.
They told us a coach would come for us to drop us off at the Hilton, so we waited longer for it to come back from dropping off other strandees at the DoubleTree. When we were finally picked up by the coach driver and dropped off at the Hilton, the hotel manager told us Easy Jet made a mistake and that we were supposed to be at the DoubleTree all along! We were up in arms about the fiasco. The coach had already left, so we waited for the hotel to take us in taxis. Twenty of us piled into two taxi vans (after Michelle and Angelique had walked into the water of the rock pool outside lol), and we even made friends with some dope British WoCs that just came back from a music festival. Once we got to the DoubleTree that was basically in the middle of nowhere, it was already around 10:30 pm. We piled out of the van refusing to pay the outrageous 12.50 Euros per person fee that the driver was trying to charge us. We scurried out of there, despite her threats of calling the police if no one would pay. We headed straight into the dining room to score some free food. The vengeful taxi driver eventually left (much to our relief) and then we got to crash in single rooms with the most lux beds! I even watched some TV and caught the Jimmy Fallon episode with Drake before I fell asleep.
For all the stress we endured, it was pretty memorable to have an extended holiday. Who would have thought that we would have ended up with extra time in Italy after all?
Everything I know about Rome comes from The Lizzie McGuire Move. I kid you not. When Michelle, Angelique, and I arrived in city via our train, it was hard to believe that we were really there. No, I didn't meet a Paolo or ride a Vespa, but getting to go inside the Colosseum was something I'm happy I can cross off my bucket list. When we went to see the Spanish Steps, an elderly man named Franco started to talk to us and it was the best chance encounter. He was wearing a Kipling bag and rocking the socks and sandals look. He asked us if we were lost, and gave us so much good advice as to where to eat, sites to see, and his favorite street in the city. I learned that if you throw one coin into the Trevi Fountain, that means you'll be able to come back. If you throw a second coin, that means you'll get married. If you throw a third one, however, that means you'll get divorced (good thing I missed lol!). Franco was so nice to say that we were all so pretty that we didn't need to throw two coins. He recommended us a fantastic restaurant called Caffe Leonardo where we were able to celebrate Angelique's 21st birthday. Franco actually works right near the Spanish Steps, teaching others how to carve cameos. When we told him we were from the San Francisco area, his face lit up and he talked about how much he loved the Sausalito area where some of his friends lived. He even told us about his beautiful daughter and the wife he lost. His story pulled at my heartstrings, and I shed some tears which I tried to hide under my sunglasses. When we parted ways, we couldn't stop talking about how wonderful Franco was. We eventually ate dinner at Caffe Leonardo where our waiter, Nikolai, was cheeky as hell and so charming. I loved his snarky commentary, and he even gave us free limoncello shots which were delicious. Another waiter came by asking us if we were from Venice and he told us that Franco stopped by to tell him that we were coming. That was so kind and thoughtful! When we get back home to America, we hope to send Franco an SF postcard to thank him for making Rome so unforgettable.
Being abroad, I feel like I'm always trying to draw parallels to things and places I miss back home. While waiting for Michelle to get out of class, I ventured out on my own into Brighton. I came across the Brighton Open Market, which I loved almost instantaneously. It was full of hipster delights just like Temescal Alley back in Oakland. It had cute stalls selling tea, pasties, fresh produce, books for a pound each, and everything in between. Unfortunately, they didn't have a Doughnut Dolly but you win some, you lose some. I especially loved that there was a STEAM PUNK STORE! Needless to say, I gave into Satan and bought a cute long sleeve baseball tee from a thrift store there. Before I had to dip, I splurged on a cone of raspberry pavlova ice cream from Mather's that reminded me of Curbside Creamery. #sameshitdifferentcountry