Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My Sister is Hilarious

My sister Katie used to hate McDonald's. The only reason we ever went there was to get the little Beanie Baby animals that accompanied the kids' meals. However, ever since she graduated college, she has gained more an more appreciation for those golden arches. In fact, she goes there so often that she actually knows all of the employees.

Okay, as much as I tease her about that, it's not exactly true. It's just that some of the workers there are or were her students. So I guess that doesn't really count. But anyway, because of Katie's new-found love of McDonald's, we actually go there every once in a while for milkshakes or a fourth meal or coffee or something.

Last week we went to get some coffee. We were in the drive through, and I was just about to order what I always get, the mocha frappe, when I noticed something new on the menu: the chocolate chip frappe. On a whim, I decided to order that instead, much to Katie's delight. As soon as I told her what I was ordering, she started going off about how excellent the new drink was. I should have known she would have already tried it.

Okay, okay. So the new drink is good. Nothing she said was too over-the-top, and I understand how much she loves coffee. So we went to the second window, and first she settled her giant coffee into the cup holder, and then she reached out to accept my frappe from the person in the window. Turning to me, she looked me straight in the eye and held out the frappe toward me.

I accepted the coffee.

After staring at me intently for several moments, she shifted her gaze to my coffee and actually said to me, completely seriously, "Are you ready to experience greatness?"

It took it a moment to sink in, and then I just started laughing hysterically. I haven't really done this story justice by writing it down, and this might be one of those you-had-to-be-there things, but the way she said it was hilarious.

And although I'm not sure if I would put it in the category of experiencing greatness, for the record, the chocolate chip frappe was actually really good.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

An Olympic Dream

When I first heard that media communication majors from my University sometimes get to go work at the Olympics, my immediate thought was: I want to do that. Going to the London 2012 Olympics has been a mere dream and an unlikely goal of mine since before I even went to college. At first I was just a journalism major, but the dream of London was still there, whispering in the back of my mind, until finally I added that second major in my second year of college.

I worked so hard in my classes learning everything I could. I asked older media comm students which classes I should take, and I volunteered to help with as many films and TV production things as I could. The Why I Want to Go to the Olympics essay I was required to write to accompany my resume and application was probably the most convincing single page of writing I have ever produced. There are few things I've wanted more than this.

When I heard that I had been accepted, I was working in the Writing Center in the library, and I may or may not have screamed really loud, right there in the library. I'm not one of those girls who just randomly shrieks a lot. Sure, my laugh is loud, but I don't shriek. So the fact that I started yelling and jumping around means that was probably the best email I've ever gotten.

It was perfect that the Olympics was in London this year because people there speak English, and it's not a dangerous country to visit. Even so, I was a little nervous about flying alone and taking a solo journey to foreign country when I'd never even been outside the continent before. I was never without food, money, transportation, clean clothes, information, or someone to answer my questions. God really took care of me.

I went five days early to travel the city with some friends, and we got to see a lot of really cool sites including Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the Parliament Houses, the Tower of London, Tower Bridge, London Bridge, the London Eye, and many others. It was absolutely incredible. We stayed with my friend's mom's friend's daughter, if you can figure that one out. We were within walking distance of Tower Bridge, which is where the Olympic rings were proudly displayed!

After that, both of us moved to the University of East London. It was a blessing that we were living at the same place, and it was conveniently located really close to a DLR (overground train) station and also very close (about ten minutes) from the Olympic venue where I went to work each day.

It was such an incredible experience even though it wasn't really what I expected. It was really cool watching the competitions, and I especially enjoyed singing my national anthem when someone from the US won gold. I was a liaison officer, so I assisted the broadcasters to make sure they could do their jobs. One of my favorite things was meeting broadcasters from all over the world and hearing about their lives, jobs, languages, and former Olympics they helped cover. That was amazing.

One thing I hadn't really thought much about was what kind of people I'd be working with. I guess I just spent too much time worrying about the logistics of travel or what kind of work I'd be doing to consider my potential coworkers too much. I wound up working on a team of five, which was one of the smaller liaison officer teams, from what I observed. None of them were from my school, and actually, they all lived in London. I was immediately fascinated with their accents, schools, and different views on life. We were all very different, but we ended up being good friends. We worked every day except one for nineteen days, and usually the days were rather long, so we usually ate two meals together per day as well. We even hung out outside of work, which was fun. They were cool people, and we all looked out for each other. Actually, I hung out with them more than I saw people from my school who were also in London. I didn't expect to have such neat coworkers who were so close to my age, but I'm so glad I did!

I will probably write more about specific London-ish things that you may find interesting. I was there for a whole month, so there's still plenty to write about. But here I am, back in the US again, and I only have two days before I go back to school again. And I'm going to be a senior! I don't know how that happened, but I am really excited to see all my University friends!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Late Night Social Experiment

The other night I was really bored, and bad things happen when I get bored. Okay, not necessary bad things. Let's just say things get interesting.

I've been staying at a University in London for the past several weeks. A few days ago, I returned around midnight after hanging out with my friend Anna, and I was really, really hyper and awake because I drank Starbuck's coffee. I discovered that for some reason, the little campus shop is open from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m., so I decided to stop by. Instead of just looking around and then leaving, I decided to scare the two guys who work there.

One of them had a round face, sandy blonde hair, and a typical English grin, and the other had long wavy hair and glasses. Both seemed overly bored. So I began my social experiment by nonchalantly opening one of the biggest umbrellas I've ever seen and walking around the store with it like there was nothing unusual about it at all. At first they didn't say anything, but then one of them said, "You've given us all bad luck; that's what you've done."

I looked at him like he was crazy.

An awkward moment passed, and then the two of them started talking to each other again. One of them was telling a story about how he was walking home one day and ran into a small fox, and apparently he was scared and wanted to run away, but then he felt silly because it was just a little animal, not a dangerous one, right?

I approached the counter with a serious look on my face. "Foxes are the seventeenth leading cause of death in America, you know," I said. They couldn't tell if I was serious or not, so I continued. "They come in packs," I added.

Now their blank stares were a little frightened, and one of them tried to smile, as if I were going to say in a moment that I was just joking.

"They tear your limbs off and eat out your tongue," I explained casually. "The worst part is, sometimes you don't die."

One of them made a comment about how he was going to have nightmares now. Since they now knew I was from the US, they tried to make conversation. One mentioned Disney World, and I said it was a popular place because the foxes were afraid of Mickey Mouse and therefore never went there. I explained that I'd moved away from Utah because that's where most of the foxes lived.

On another fox-related topic, the curly-haired one mentioned the movie "The Fox and the Hound." I responded immediately, saying that the movie was a true account and that I knew the characters personally. I think it was at this point that the sandy-haired one said I was mental and then added when I stared at him, obviously offended, "You're 'good' mental." I'm not sure what he meant, but I pretended to be offended.

"For all you know, I'm brilliant," I quipped. "I was number one in my class. Might've been the only one in my class, but that doesn't matter."

"If you were English, we'd throw you out of here in a second," one of them said.

He was joking, and it was funnier because I'm actually part English. "Who says I'm not English?" I asked. "I'm nearly half English, actually."

"Nearly half?" they repeated, snickering.

"Yes. Haven't you ever heard of platform 9 3/4? Why can't I be nearly half English?"

They looked at each other, still unsure. But I was still holding the umbrella, so one asked, "Is is still raining outside?"

"What do I look like, a weather man?"

"No," the curly haired one answered quickly.

"Well, I have to go," I said abruptly.

"You've got to me the most interesting person to ever come in this store. What's your name?" the sandy-haired one asked, trying to see my name tag.

I grabbed my name tag and turned it around, snarling. "What's the matter with you? You can't just go around looking at people's name tags! That's private!"

Both looked even more startled, if that's even possible.

I clutched my name tag protectively. "Did you read it? Well, did you?"

"No, I didn't get a chance to," the sandy haired one replied.

"Good. Well, you can call me Scooter Girl." I closed the umbrella and approached the exit, then added, "If I come back." Then, walking backward, I said, "Watch out for foxes."

Scaring people. It's the best.

I'm pretty sure I told them some other random weird stuff, but I can't remember all of it.

The next day I returned and acted totally normal, simply asking a question about where something was in the store. They mentioned foxes, and I acted like I had no idea what they were talking about. They were freaked out.

Obviously I should have brought a book with me so I wouldn't have to entertain myself by scaring the natives.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

London Jargon

If you ever go to London, this post will give you a heads up about what in the world everyone is talking about. It's not like going to China where people speak, um, Chinese, but Londoners do have their own little jargon that travelers have to get used to.

1. "The tube." That means the underground, the trains, the transport system, whatever. Not noodles or floatation devices.

2. "Trainers." This is what they call sneakers.

3. "Cheers." They say this to mean thanks, hey, good morning, excuse me, well said, I agree, or pretty much whatever the heck they want it to mean.

4. "Pudding." This is a blanket term for any type of dessert.

5. "Chips." This means French fries.

6. "Tap." They often refer to water as tap.

7. "Fanta." A type of orange carbonated drink everyone seems to be obsessed with.

8. "I'd be keen." Meaning I want to do that, sounds like a good idea, etc.

9. "Bin bag." Trash bag.

10. "Rubbish." Usually means trash, but can also mean stupid, ridiculous, unbelievable.

11. "Queue." I've heard many use this one instead of "line."

12. "Mates." Friends.

13. "Bloke." Man.

14. "Trousers." Pants.

15. "Pants." Underwear. Remember this one.

16. "Uni." University.

17. "Lift." Elevator.

18. "You all right?" They aren't asking if you're okay. To them, it's like saying, "What's up?"

19. "Have a go." Give it a try.

20. "Loo, toilet." Bathroom. To my surprise, I have yet to hear anyone call it a water closet.

21. "Corridor." Sometimes they call hallways corridors. I think I'm going to start asking people at college which corridor they live on. Because it sounds awesome.

22. "Way out." Most of their signs say that instead of exit.

More random phrases and facts to come! Stay tuned!

As a side note, I'm still having a blast. Check out this shenanigan. I saw it the other day when I went for a walk with my future roomie!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

The Best of London

I have NOT been writing about this trip enough. I feel like that kid from the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. EVERYTHING here is just so epic and incredible. I could write an entire blog post about any given hour I've spent here, unless I was asleep. But hey, I could probably write about that too. So I'll just make a list of some things I really like about being here.

1. I finally learned how to navigate a city. I can look at the little train map that I hand-laminated with clear tape and figure out how to get where I need to go. Just tell me what station, and I'm good to go. It's fantastic to be able to come and go as I please, not having to ask anyone if I can borrow their car or having to bum rides off people and worry that they will leave too early or too late. I LOVE it.

2. My coworkers are fabulous. They all have these adorable English accents, and I never get tired of it. They say things like "cheers," "I'd be keen," and "half one" instead of one-thirty. I'll probably write a whole 'nother post about the different words and phrases English people use.

3. I don't feel culturally inept anymore. I know what their little phrases mean, I can navigate the train system, I was taught how to properly make basic tea with a tea bag, and I now understand that English people do not put hyphens in their phone numbers.

4. I've gotten to meet, shakes hands with, and take pictures with a variety of olympians that I've run into in London, and I think that's stinking awesome.

5. For my entire life I've had trouble understanding people with accents. And now I've got English, Australian, Chinese, Danish, Japanese, Italian, German, Spanish, and Korean accents to decipher. A lot of people I assist or work with don't necessarily speak English or speak much of it. So it's always fun to try to explain myself with hand motions and whichever select words they happen to know. I really wish I were bilingual. It seems that most people here are, and they think it's strange that I'm not. I guess it's because there are a lot of countries surrounding England that aren't that far away. If I drive eight hours across the US, people are still going to speak English.

6. God has kept me well-fed, healthy, and safe, and I am grateful. Please pray that continues.

7. So, I carry around this bag-purse thing that I call a "burse." It has a shoulder strap, so I don't have to hold it, and I keep my important stuff there. I'm so paranoid I won't even leave it in the room I'm staying in. I don't lock it in the locker at work. It NEVER comes off unless I'm sitting alone in my room. My levels of paranoia have risen to new heights. So far so good, though.

8. The other day I ate dinner in the mall with two of my University friends, and it was an absolute blast. I think at least two of us were talking at all times, and I laughed so much my stomach hurt. At that moment I realized that although I am not willing to rush London, and I am still not itching to return to school, I do, in fact, miss my University, and I will be very happy to return.

9. This is essentially my first solo adventure. I've been on vacation before, but that was always with my family. Yeah, I went to college, but I had my sister there and immediately met a ton of people who helped me make it. Here I'm across the world from my family and am responsible for all my own belongings, health, meals, work, schedules, activities, and safety. It's a lot to think about, and at first it was a little overwhelming. But I've become more used to that, too, and I guess that comes with the territory of becoming more used to a place.

10. Although I'm here, and I speak the same language, and I'm even nearly half English, this isn't my home. I absolutely love it here, and although this certainly isn't a foreign planet, England is plenty different from America. Hearing what English people think of us is pretty funny at times, too. I've had multiple people ask me if I am going to move to England, like a decision like that was just no big deal. Could I move to England? Would that be too far, too different? And if I couldn't, why not?