La Vie en Rose

I know it’s been quite a while since my last post because classes have gotten quite busy, but I still want to document all of my wonderful trips I have taken. So now, let’s talk about Paris!

We had a very early start on Saturday, February 21st. We had to take buses to the airport because the tube wasn’t even open yet. But we made it no problem and it started snowing just as we were about to take off!

We landed and went straight to the city. Our bus dropped us at the Opera House and we went to have lunch at a little café nearby. It was my first attempt at speaking French and I felt like I did relatively well for not having been in a French class for 3 years! Then we walked past the Louvre and through the garden, across one of the lock bridges to make our way to the Musee D’Orsay. It was a beautiful museum full of really great art and was a lovely way to start our Paris excursion.

After that we made our way to Notre Dame and walked around inside. There was a ceremony inside happening on the altar, so I approached the woman working at the front desk to ask what it was and it turned out to be a ceremony for the new catechumen who would be baptized at Easter Vigil. This whole conversation was in French so I was also very proud of myself for understanding it all. The church was gorgeous and also had the crown of thorns of Christ inside which was absolutely incredible to witness. “God Help The Outcasts” was definitely stuck in my head the entire time, although we never ran into Quasi Modo.

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Lock bridge! Made it to Paris!

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The Little Dancer in the Musee D’Orsay!

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Notre Dame

Something we learned very quickly was that no one wanted to speak English, at least not right off the bat. They were very polite when I spoke my slow, broken French and would slow down to match my pace so I could understand, but they would not speak English to me until we had had at least 5 or 6 exchanges in French and then they would basically give up and start speaking English. Which was fine by me because I loved speaking the small amount of French I knew the whole time!

After Notre Dame we went to check into our hostel and then eat dinner. Afterward we made our way to…The Eiffel Tower!! Dream come true, casually. It was FREEZING and first we had to wait in line, like, forever. And then we took an elevator halfway to the top, looked around up there, and the views were amazing. I thought that was the top, then realized there was quite a bit more to go. I’m terrified of heights, so this was not the best news, but we made it and it was incredible. Absolutely everything we had ever dreamed it would be. Like I said it was freezing, but we stayed up there as long as we humanly could, then we wanted to make our way back down in time to see the whole tower lit up. That was also incredible. Every hour on the hour at night for 5 minutes the entire tower flickers with a million lights and it was so beautiful. It was my 5 year old self’s dream come true. Then of course we had to finish the night off correctly with Nutella Crepes.

Made it!

Made it!

At the top!

At the top!

So beautiful!

So beautiful!

The view was incredible

The view was incredible

The next morning, we hiked up the literal mountain that Sacre Coeur sat on because it was very close to our hostel. It was a beautiful church. Then we made our way to the L’Arc de Triomphe and wandered down the Champs Elysee. Afterward, we made a special pilgrimage to Le Centre Pompidou. It’s the modern art museum of Paris and though we didn’t go in, I’ve desperately wanted to see it since doing a project on it in Freshman year of high school. It has an exoskeleton so all of the heating pipes and electrical wires and people moving devices like stairs and the elevators are on the outside, and it also has a sculpture fountain. The fountain was turned off, but I was very excited to get to see the building. Then, we went to walk around La Comedie-Francaise and the garden of the Palais-Royal. Finally we made our way to the Louvre!

We didn’t realize how long the line was and ended up standing in it for 2 hours. Note to self for later Paris excursions: buy tickets ahead of time. But once we made it in, it was beautiful. Of course we got to see the Mona Lisa. Everyone always warned me how small it was going to be, so by the time I got there I was expecting it to be about the size of a postage stamp. It really wasn’t that small. But anyway. All of our favorite part was the Napoleon Apartments which were so elaborately decorated and beautiful. We spent 3 hours there and still didn’t manage to see everything. Next time!

Selfies with Mona!

Selfies with Mona!

The exoskeleton of Le Centre Pompidou

The exoskeleton of Le Centre Pompidou

Le Centre Pompidou!

Le Centre Pompidou!

L'Arc de Triomphe

L’Arc de Triomphe

So our whirlwind adventure in Paris was a success! I will be returning with my parents come April and I am so excited to get to go again to such a wonderful city!

London Lovin’

And here we go again with another gloriously busy week here at LDA. I’m a little behind on my blogging!

            Tuesday we had a very cool acting for film masterclass with Polly Hootkins, a casting director in London, and Chris Green, a filmmaker. It’s amazing the opportunities we are given here, as for many of us this was our first on-camera work. Here, most people teach that we should be taught in theater first and we can always dial the acting back for film work, rather than be taught film acting and have to vamp it up for the theater. That being said, it was really wonderful to get to try our hands at screen acting. I got to do a scene from Blue Valentine with Andrew and they really liked how we worked together. Just one more tool in our toolbox (or a fruit in our fruit basket as Kathy says)!

            On Wednesdays I have a half day so I volunteered for a very cool opportunity with Fordham’s Gabelli School of Business students who are also studying abroad. They have been practicing interview techniques and needed a few actors to pretend to be an interviewer for a role play. All the other students watched as one by one they got up to be “interviewed” and we would stop and talk about what impressions they were giving off and how they could improve. Most of them did really well and were very receptive to the exercise and made drastic improvements. I often forget how nerve-wracking public speaking can be for people who don’t have to do it literally every day, and some of the students told me they had never done anything like this before, so really they did a great job!

            Wednesday night we saw a production of Macbeth at The Vaults. The location was definitely what made it memorable. It was a converted subway station. So you had to walk down stairs, through a graffiti tunnel, and down a dark hallway to find the theater. During the show you could hear the trains overhead which made for a very cool effect. The Macbeth was definitely different but had an amazing soundscape. Seriously, the sounds they created out of a few synthesizers on tables in the middle of the stage were incredible. The acting was pretty good. I’m not going to lie, if we hadn’t been studying Shakespeare so closely these past couple weeks I would’ve said they were amazing, but we’ve actually analyzed some of the Macbeth speeches in class and they definitely took some interesting approaches with them that didn’t necessarily fit with the text. But, again, overall I really liked the production.

Macbeth at the Vaults. A very different set and location!

Macbeth at the Vaults. A very different set and location!

            On Thursday we saw “How to Hold Your Breath” at the Royal Court Theater and it was definitely up there for one of the best things I’ve seen since I’ve been here. The acting was stunning. The tagline of the show was “Because we live in Europe. Because nothing really bad ever happens. The worst is a bit of an inconvenience. Perhaps not such a good mini break. But really in the grand scheme of life, not so bad.” It told the story of 2 sisters, Dana and Jasmine, travelling across Europe to make it to an interview for a big job for Dana. While travelling, the banks crash and close and all the borders are shut. 2 sisters who were financially stable are suddenly thrust into destitution as Europe dissolves around them. There is also the added inconvenience that Dana slept with a demon by accident and never let the demon repay his debt to her, and an omniscient librarian keeps following her around offering How To books on dealing with the life they are currently thrown into. It explores the idea of what if Europe ended up as a third world country. At the end, the 2 sisters travel by a smuggling ship to make it to their destination and everyone in the stable Europe questions why they would take such a heavy, life-threatening risk. It really made the audience think about those living in such destitution every day that no one even thinks about, but without driving the idea into our heads. It was very powerful and extremely well-acted.

            On Friday, for something completely different, our dramatic criticism teacher Christopher got us 15 pound tickets to see La Traviata at the English National Opera and a talkback before the show hosted by him. It was a lovely performance and definitely an interesting version of the opera. They set it in Paris and it was completely in English (as all productions at the ENO are) and it was cut down significantly. I know nothing about La Traviata, but this production was definitely not what you would expect of a Verdi opera. The characters were in modern dress and with it being in English it was much easier to understand. It was a little long (it had no interval) and there was some strange metaphorical work with the curtains that they would like open and close them very slowly all throughout their arias that none of us really understood but it was a great production in a crazy amazing venue. Our favorite characters were the chorus. They were hilarious and only showed up a few times, but we all agreed we wanted to be in the chorus.

Our view for La Traviata

Our view for La Traviata

Man on a chariot pulled by lions....causal

Man on a chariot pulled by lions….causal

Ceiling of the lobby of the Coliseum where La Traviata was

Ceiling of the lobby of the Coliseum where La Traviata was

            On Saturday, Jackie, Tori, Tori’s high school friend Erin, and I visited the Tower of London! We spent 4 and a half hours there; there was just so much to see. Of course the crown jewels were a highlight, and it was fun to learn about all the torture and beheading that went on there especially since we were visiting on Valentine’s Day. We took a tour with a Beefeater (fun fact: no one knows why they’re called that) and he was hilarious. All in all, a very cool day.

The crown jewels! There was no photography allowed so I had to sneak this quickly

The crown jewels! There was no photography allowed so I had to sneak this quickly

Henry VIII's armour? Or Shrek's?

Henry VIII’s armour? Or Shrek’s?

Man your battle stations!

Man your battle stations!

Tower bridge from the outer wall

Tower bridge from the outer wall

The tower

The tower

            That night we threw a party in our flat for all of LDA. Only Fordham kids live in our building, and mostly only LDA kids, so we could get pretty loud with the music (and 28 people packed into one room) and no one bothered us. It was a potluck so there was a ton of food and now our flat has great heart decorations everywhere to brighten it up!

            On Sunday, Jackie and I went to The Muffin Man which is a tea room down the street from school. It was adorable and we got traditional English breakfast which was delicious!

            This week is another jam-packed week. I didn’t realize when I bought my tickets I would be seeing 4 shows this week. Oops. Oh well, that’s why we’re here! And this weekend: PARIS! I’m so excited!! I’ve wanted to go my entire life, so this is literally a dream come true. I’ve been studying my French on Duolingo for the past couple weeks now. I’ve forgotten a lot since I took it in high school which makes me sad but I think I know enough to navigate us around! So until next time, au revoir!

AmsterDAYUM (week of 2/1-2/8)

Greetings! Another insane week, as if any of us are surprised!
On Monday a lot of us went to see “The Nether.” Unfortunately the group I was travelling with got a little lost so we arrived about 15 minutes late, but we still picked up on the story. It was set in the future, and this pedophile had created this world in “the Nether” which is the future’s version of the internet, so that he could exercise his pedophilic tendencies in this virtual realm and not in real life. The question is though, is he still hurting people if the girl he interacts with, “Iris,” isn’t really a girl but a 60-something man? Or are the images so real and lifelike (in his world you could use all 5 senses to explore it) that it is still a crime? It was a very interesting concept and the special effects and projections were unlike any I’ve ever seen; they were incredible. However, we all agreed the acting left a lot to be desired. It was also funny because they were British actors doing American accents and you could clearly hear the accents come through at very specific places.

Look at these projections....seriously

Look at these projections….seriously

On Wednesday we saw “The Changeling” at the Globe in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse because the Globe Theatre proper is closed in the winter months (no one wants to see theatre outdoors in England during the winter….shocking). We were all very excited for our first experience at the Globe, but unfortunately it was a bit of a disappointment. For one thing, we had the standing room tickets up on the very top balcony. For a 3 hour show, that’s not fun, especially when you only have view of 1/3 of the stage, so you miss a lot of the action. Of course, during Shakespeare’s time they went to hear a play not see it (that’s why all the descriptive language in Shakespeare, so people who couldn’t see knew what the heck was going on) so we were accepting of that and were excited to try to hear the play. Unfortunately, the actors were well trained but the direction was all over the place. The play made zero sense in the way it was told and the actors just weren’t listening to each other. Kathy Pogson was displeased. It was funnier to watch her reactions during the show than the show itself (which is a tragedy but I didn’t know that until someone told me because there were an awful lot of laughs to be had). What was amazing was the venue. The entire theater was lit by only candlelight giving it a very period feel and the theater itself is absolutely stunning with a thrust stage and a balcony. I just wish it had been a cleaner production.
Then on Friday night we began our crazy weekend in Amsterdam! We took a bus. I know your next question is, “a bus…from an island country….” and I thought the same thing! Well, it was a 12 hour bus ride. On the way there we had quite a few breaks, and then to cross the English channel our bus parked on this huge ferry that we rode on (slept on…it was like 2am) for 2 hours. Then we drove through France, Belgium, and then made it to Amsterdam. So I can officially say I’ve been through Belgium. All in all, the trip wasn’t too bad because we had wifi and power plugs and the seats were very comfortable! And it was really cheap!
We decided not to stay in a hostel because we found an even cheaper apartment on Air BnB (thanks Rhiannon for telling me about that website) owned by this guy named Dragan. The apartment was amazing and it was so much nicer than staying in a hostel because we could drop our bags off before going to the city and leave them there all Sunday during the day. On Saturday we got into the city and found an adorable café to eat in, then spur of the moment took a tour of the Royal Palace Amsterdam which was beautiful. I took more pictures than a normal human should. After that, we had ordered tickets to the Anne Frank House weeks in advance. That was an incredibly moving tour. No pictures were allowed in there, but I can honestly say it was incredible. It was very quiet in there, with everyone being very respectful of the place we were in. The rooms of the actual annex where the family hid are actually empty because the Nazis had cleared out the furniture and when Otto Frank opened the museum he wanted it to remain empty to symbolize all the people who never came home. One thing that still remained was the original newspaper clippings of movie stars Anne had hung on her bedroom walls, left just as they were when she was taken. It was truly chilling. Afterward we had to try bitterballen which is apparently a delicacy. It’s basically fried dough balls that were delicious so I highly recommend. Those and stroop waffles. So good. That night after having travelled forever on a bus, we were tired so we turned in early with wine, Domino’s pizza, and “The Proposal” in our lovely apartment.

I thought it was hilarious how lovely the execution room was

I thought it was hilarious how lovely the execution room was

The ceiling

The ceiling

So many palace pics

So many palace pics

Canals at night

Canals at night

So. Much. Cheese.

So. Much. Cheese.

Hey Atlas

Hey Atlas

I'm obsessed with the pickett fence on this houseboat

I’m obsessed with the pickett fence on this houseboat

Chilling on the S

Chilling on the S

Sunday we had tickets for the Van Gogh museum I’m not going to lie, it was a strange museum. A lot of the signs were mis-translated into very strange English and some of his pictures were displayed sideways and upside down with no explanation as to why. It was cool, but not my favorite. After that, we decided to take a canal tour which was beautiful. Again, took way more pictures than necessary. Then we started our 12 hour bus ride home which sucked. The bus was half the size, there was no wifi or power plugs, the seats were literally plastic, and instead of a ferry our bus drove onto a freight train so we sat in the bus on a freight train that went under the English channel. No. Plus, we had to go through 2 border controls, one out of France and one into England. In the one out of France they brought out the drug dogs and several people got detained. There was a lot of yelling and it was about 2:30 AM at this point. We were not happy.
All in all though, Amsterdam was absolutely lovely. It was unlike any city I’ve ever seen. It has such random little quirks. Like we knew that everyone rode bikes but we didn’t really realize EVERYONE rides bikes. There is not a single spare railing without bikes locked to it in the whole town. Also, people park right on the edge of all the canals and apparently one car a week rolls into the canals. Lastly, and probably most importantly, coffee shops do NOT sell coffee. Luckily someone had looked this up before we went because Lord knows I didn’t know, and I kept forgetting when we were looking for somewhere to eat. Oops. I’m stupid. I’m just gonna leave that as that.
This week should be crazy as well! We have 3 shows to see, and this weekend we’re planning a visit to the Tower of London! Only 2 more weekends before spring break and the weekend after this I will be in Paris! I’m loving every second of these adventures!

Posh Enough?

So every Sunday I sit down to write these (and then don’t post them until days later but what can you do) and think “next week it will have calmed down a bit.” It hasn’t. And I’m so glad it hasn’t. Another crazy, amazing week!

On Monday we saw James McAvoy in “The Ruling Class” at Trafalgar Studios. It was my favorite thing we’ve seen so far (until Thursday…) James McAvoy absolutely carried the show. His energy was UN. REAL. He started the show as an insane schitzophrenic who thought he was God and throughout the show he had to mount a cross, ride a unicycle, fight a swamp monster…we were all exhausted watching him. It was a very surreal play (if you couldn’t tell by the whole fighting a swamp monster thing) but it had some awesome acting and awesome effects. They had these sunflowers grow out of the ground and lots of amazing layers to the sets that would fly out when he was having schitzophrenic episodes. And tickets are going for about 90 pounds so we were very lucky we got to see it with our school.

On Wednesday we had a special event. A man named Mr. Loschert is an alum and donor of Fordham and he has a flat in London he opens up to students each semester for a night of wine and finger food. His flat (which can you call it that if it has 2 floors?) was incredible. He collects a lot of art and some of the highlights were an 11th century bible, some jugs made in like 400 BC, and 3 original Matisses. Casual. The wine he offered was also so good. I got to talk to him a bit and he was such a generous and kind man. He said he wanted to die a pauper because he wanted to give his money to us so we could use it. There was no point in him keeping it when he was old. We were all very grateful!

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The queens of flat 10

The queens obviously

The queens obviously

On Thursday we had another show to see with school. This one was called “Bull” at the Young Vic Theater. This was my favorite thing I’ve seen so far. It was only 55 minutes so we were all kind of concerned it would be weird but it was absolutely incredible. The whole theater was set up like a boxing ring with some audience members in seats and some standing, and it was just 55 minutes of a pure verbal boxing match. It was about bullying in the workplace and basically how some people get ahead and it was way too real and hit very close to home for a lot of us. Three people wanted to move ahead on a project and only two were going to be chosen, so the two “attractive” people ganged up on the nice, less attractive guy and twisted all of his words around to make it seem like he was simply taking everything they said too personally while they were merely being professional. Thank God it was only 55 minutes because we all agreed we couldn’t take much more of it. The female character had the most biting, cold monologue at the end that all the girls want to use now. It was amazing. If it was any indication of how good it was apparently David Tennant was in the audience and I didn’t even notice because I was so in shock of what was going on onstage.

Bull set up like a boxing match

Bull set up like a boxing match

On Friday we couldn’t find a theater with cheap enough tickets so we saw “The Theory of Everything!” I highly recommend it! Eddie Redmayne gives an amazing performance and so does Felictiy Jones.

On Saturday I decided to have a day to myself get up and rush “Matilda” on the West End because they release 5 pound tickets every morning at 10. I was lucky enough to get one of the last few for the evening show. After I rushed, I went to the British Museum which was overwhelming. I’ve never seen so much stuff crammed into so many little nooks and crannies, and rooms filled with huge statues, and walls covered in different pictures and whatnot so I googled the top 10 things to see and I think I saw 8. I saw the Rosetta Stone which was cool! And also a lot of Egyptian statues and mummies which I think are so interesting. I’ll definitely have to go back though. Then I saw “Matilda!” It was so much fun. I would love to be in that show and I’ll hopefully see it again! You can’t beat 5 pound tickets!

My Matilda view!

My Matilda view!

Taking myself to the British Museum

Taking myself to the British Museum

Then on Sunday we all wanted to see Westminster Abbey but it costs money for tickets UNLESS you go for mass so we all got up and went to the Matins ceremony. It was beautiful. The boy’s and men’s choir combined sang and the selections were wonderful, plus the church is obviously gorgeous. You’re not allowed to take pictures but we snuck a few of the courtyard. Afterward a few of us went to the Tate Modern museum. I like modern art for the most part, but it got progressively weirder until we all decided we had had enough. But I’m glad we went.

BE the art

BE the art

I got a blank space....I hate that song

I got a blank space….I hate that song

Definitely looks like Hogwarts but it's Westminster Abbey!

Definitely looks like Hogwarts but it’s Westminster Abbey!

Westminster Abbey courtyard through the iron work

Westminster Abbey courtyard through the iron work

Next weekend I’ll be travelling to Amsterdam with some people! I can’t wait to start seeing other parts of Europe! We’ll be taking a bus for 10-12 hours (the bus gets on a ferry) so we’ll see how that goes since we’ll be getting back around 6am Monday morning and going straight to classes. It should be exciting! I’ll keep you posted!

Tea and “Sconze”

Another fabulous week in Londontown! We learn so much here and the time just flies by. I can’t believe we’ve already been here for almost 3 weeks! We’re settling in very nicely and slowly learning the neighborhoods and the tube stops. Our classes are absolutely amazing. Everyone keeps asking which is my favorite and I literally don’t have one. Our teachers are also so incredible. They are all working professionals at so many places around London. Kathy, the head of our program, is in the middle of rehearsals for Antigone at the Barbican and has been sending us weekly rehearsal reports which are so interesting to read. We get to see that show once it opens! It will be so exciting to see Kathy onstage!

This week on Tuesday we had another walk with our teacher Simon. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this but Simon was Eddie Redmayne’s teacher and Eddie was just quoted in a paper after he received his Oscar nomination saying that he will still call Simon for coachings and credits a lot to him. So, I’m currently one degree separation from Eddie Redmayne. You know, no big deal. We’ve been trying to convince Simon to have him come speak to us but he’s probably a little busy with award season coming up. Anyway this walk was after a long day of classes but it was all around the West End seeing all the different theaters and their history. And then after that we had a show to see with our program! It was called “Islands.” Ok, I thought the Hamlet we saw the first week was bad. This was the worst show I’ve ever seen. It was a literal 1 hour and 45 minute temper tantrum about tax havens, and it was incredibly disturbing and graphic. About 30 people left the show. Just walked out. I abstained from clapping, which I can never remember doing in my whole life. Our teacher was not pleased either, but he said you can learn more from disaster than a success. I don’t know if this is true since I basically blocked as much of the show from my mind as possible, but we’ll see.

On Wednesday, though, we got tickets to see “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels!” It’s the best thing I’ve seen so far in London. It was so much fun and much needed after a show like “Islands.” We got our tickets on this website we have all been using called lastminute.com, but for some reason our order didn’t go through. We were pretty upset, so we asked the box office if there were any tickets at all available we could just buy. The lady at the window told us they would be 3 pounds more but she promised they would be good seats, so we agreed. They were front row! It was incredible, so fun and so colorful. I went with my fellow musical theater majors and we were saying as much as we love straight acting, we had missed musicals.

On Thursday in our Space, Place, and Text class we got to do a whirlwind trip to the Victoria Albert museum to look at box models of sets. They are so intricate and amazing. The museum is huge and looked so cool, but we didn’t have time to stay because we went during class hours, so we will definitely be going back since it is free!

On Friday my flatmates and I had gotten tickets to see “The 39 Steps” which is a spoof on Alfred Hitchcock films. It was very funny, but definitely a British kind of funny. There were a few jokes the audience found hilarious that we kind of weren’t sure what was happening. Although I was proud of myself for getting some of the British humor because one of our teachers loves to “translate” all things British for us in class and had told us about some of the things in the show! The physicality though was incredible. There were 2 men who played at least 50 different characters a piece including inanimate objects. It was definitely a good show to see some great acting.

Flat 10 sees The 39 Steps!

Flat 10 sees The 39 Steps!

Then on Saturday my roommate Emily had organized a huge trip for all of us to go to Stonehenge and Bath on a bus! Stonehenge was cool. I didn’t have my expectations very high because, let’s be honest, they’re rocks. And it about met my expectations. But it was still very cool to be there, I’m glad we went. Bath I had no idea what to expect and I loved it! It was the cutest little English town. We took a short walking tour and then went into the Bath Abbey which was absolutely beautiful. Then, Emma, Jackie, and I went to get tea at Jane Austen’s house! It was my first experience with a real tea room in London and it was incredible. It was also my first experience with clotted cream which by the time we ran out of scones (called “sconze” here)  we were just eating with a spoon when the waitress wasn’t looking so she wouldn’t judge us. Incredible. I love England.

So we’ve been keeping very busy but it’s been so incredible making use of every second here! I don’t want to miss a single thing!

Tea in Jane Austen's house!

Tea in Jane Austen’s house!

It's a very beautiful abbey

It’s a very beautiful abbey

People live in this building! I think it's so beautiful

People live in this building! I think it’s so beautiful

The rock was heavy. According to the force gauge I would've needed about 100 more people to pull with me

The rock was heavy. According to the force gauge I would’ve needed about 100 more people to pull with me

Jackie shows off her Neolithic pad

Jackie shows off her Neolithic pad

Stonehenge!

Stonehenge!

Adventure is Out There

Cheers! My first week at LDA is over and it was quite the week! Our schedules are intense but I have never met a more incredible, inspiring, and supportive group of teachers. There’s not a bad one in the bunch, and I know we will learn so much here and feel supported yet challenged every step of the way.

Something I’ve learned this week is to definitely just go and experience everything. I’ve gotten to see some of the non-touristy, true side to London already just by taking a risk and going somewhere off the beaten path and I think I’ll remember those memories most of all!

One of the kids in our program, Matt, really enjoys Ceili dancing at home and so he found a place that did Ceili dancing on Sunday nights and asked if people would want to go with him. So last Sunday a group of 5 of us went. My roommate from CUA Tori and I had to go late and meet up with them, but on the way we got hopelessly lost even after following Tori’s GPS. We ended up at a house instead of an Irish Center. Tori thought maybe the houses were the Irish Center and so decided to knock on the door. She’s way braver than I am. A gentleman came to the door, informed us we were wrong this was his house, and very nicely pointed us in the direction of the Irish Center. Oops! At least he was nice! When we got there we were the youngest by about 60 years. It was hilarious. The folks dancing absolutely loved us. This one man Patty especially loved asking us all to be his partner for every dance. It was a good warmup for our period dance class the next day, and the bartender working that night was also a theater major and gave Tori and I some websites to find discounted theatre tickets! So all in all a great evening!

As I think I mentioned in my blog last week we see about a show a week (sometimes more) with our program. The show we saw was on Wednesday at the National Theatre called “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” and it truly was a beautiful production. But, on Tuesday one of the students in our program found a production of Hamlet within walking distance from our flat so 27 of us went (one person was sick). The theater was under a pub and it was a really cool space so we were all excited. It was basically just us in the theater. It was without a doubt the worst production of anything I’ve ever seen in my life. It opened with this strange scene where Horatio was at a temp agency in modern time and got into an argument with the agent and just went downhill from there. Try doing Hamlet in 70 minutes, and then ending with a monologue from the Tempest. It just made zero sense. We’re pretty sure the king was drunk. He stepped on someone’s line and apologized to the guy on stage, and then ducked out before the bows started. It was very awkward because it was such an intimate space, we were trying so hard to cover up our laughing but it just wasn’t working. It will be quite a memory.

The show we saw at the National however was beautiful. It wasn’t my favorite story ever but the aesthetic of the show was incredible. The theater was huge, I think it held 3000 people, and it was full on a Wednesday. Not a single seat was empty. That never happens back home. There is definitely a high respect for theatre here and it is an amazing environment to be in.

Our view of the stage. We were very high up!

Our view of the stage. We were very high up!

This theater was full on a Wednesday for a play. That would never happen in the US!

This theater was full on a Wednesday for a play. That would never happen in the US!

Then on Thursday Micaela found some last minute tickets to see “Shakespeare in Love” on the West End in the orchestra section so we went and it was great! I had just seen the movie 2 days before and it was very true to the movie!

On Saturday we went to explore Camden Market which was very cool, but definitely not something you can see in one day. I’ll definitely have to go back! And then we rode the Eye! I’m terrified of heights so everyone I was with had to convince me I was going to survive and honestly it was not nearly as scary as I thought it would be. It was also over a lot faster than we thought it would be! But the view was amazing. Definitely worth it! Oh and speaking of random adventures, Jackie and I decided to take a walk through random streets to see what we saw and we ran into Wallace Shawn! Literally I almost bumped into him, we were that close. I just made awkward, prolonged eye contact, didn’t say anything, and ran away. So awkward. First London celebrity sighting!

I’ll elaborate more on my classes as they unfold throughout the semester. For now we’re still figuring out a routine!

Welcome to London

So I have decided to keep a blog of my travels in London for memory sake, for friends and family who want to keep up with me, and for any future students who are thinking about studying at LDA!

First a little about the program I am studying in. We are at the London Dramatic Academy through the Fordham University London Centre which is housed at Heythrop College in Kensington. We’ll be taking 4 courses: acting; theatre history, literature, and criticism; physical training for actors; and voice training for actors. These courses are going to encompass so many subjects from stage combat and period dance, to text analyses and Alexander technique. Plus we see a show a week with our whole class! There’s 28 of us total and 13 from CUA alone!

We arrived in London in Heathrow Airport on Wednesday the 7th and have been completely busy and on the run ever since! It has been a crazy first couple of days but the experiences have been wonderful. We already are getting acclimated to the city and have seen some of the major sites.

Right from Heathrow we went to our flats. Because it was the first day and they knew we would be struggling with jetlag we just had a quick orientation at our flats and they let us go. Of course we weren’t just going to stay in the flats all day, so after we all had naps a few of us decided to go out and find a true London pub for a drink. We found one called the Albion right down our street and because our friend’s hometown is Albion we had to go! It was great and had an open mic night that night so we will definitely be frequenting there!

The next day, Thursday, we had to go to campus for our orientation. Campus is a 25 minute walk from our flats which will definitely be an adjustment but it’s a beautiful area and so far the weather has been very mild so I don’t think anyone minds much. In the morning we had the general Fordham orientation with all of the different programs being hosted on our campus and in the afternoon we met with just LDA kids and the head of our program Kathy Pogson. Kathy is an absolutely wonderful head of program and she welcomed us so graciously and got us all so excited to start doing work. One thing about LDA is that it is definitely a STUDY abroad program. We are in class 9-5 Monday-Friday, sometimes longer, plus with extra mandatory excursions at night on some days. We will definitely be working very hard this whole time but it’s so exciting because the teachers are incredible and working actors themselves with so much wisdom to give us. Kathy herself is actually in a professional production this semester that we are going to see!

That night, the Heythrop College student union invited us to come to a comedy night at their on-campus bar. They have organized a few things to welcome us to their campus and get us to mix with their students since we will all be on the same campus. They even invited an American comedian to make us feel more welcome!

On Friday we had excursions in the city to see the Rose Theatre and to go on an historic walking tour with 2 of our teachers. We successfully navigated the tube for the first time during rush hour and made it there on time! The excursions were so interesting. It was absolutely inspiring to see the birthplace of Shakespeare’s stage works. Being surrounded by so much history really brought to life the things we normally just read about. One cool thing we learned on our tour was how shows used to be put on at the Globe. They would have a troupe of actors doing about 30 shows a year, 20 new ones and 10 popular ones from the year before. They would have about 2 weeks rehearsal for each show, only rehearsing in the morning because in the afternoon they would be putting on a different show every day. When they received the script they would only have their lines and their cue lines so they wouldn’t know exactly what the other person was going to say. In this way, it made the whole thing very spontaneous and like an improv. The lines were often written in verse because it was literally like giving the actors a line reading. By putting the lines in a verse, the actors would know where pauses were and where different emphases were placed without having to come up with backstory or motivation because there was just no time! I can’t imagine doing theatre like that now!

After our excursions Heytrhop hosted another event for us. They rented out an entire club and we all got discounted drinks and got to dance all night. We were talking to some of the students and they couldn’t get over how much they loved our accents which is crazy because ours are so ugly compared to theirs!

Saturday we had one more orientation event. It was called the Monopoly Challenge and it was a scavenger hunt through London hitting up what they called the most important monuments of all: their pubs. Essentially it was a pub crawl through the city to some great historic pubs. However, it was a bit long and exhausting so some of us decided we’d rather skip out on the scavenger hunt part of it and just explore London ourselves. We walked around through Picadilly Circus and found Big Ben. Then we walked across the river to try to get on the Eye but they were doing work on the wheel so it was shut down, but it was absolutely beautiful. I will never get over how gorgeous the architecture is in this city. It’s very easy to get lost though because there’s basically no grid system and the streets all curve everywhere. But getting lost led us to some really cool places too!

Today was a free day so my friend Jackie and I decided to go for a run in Kensington Park to explore it. Unfortunately I didn’t catch sight of Kate, William, or (most importantly) Harry but it was a great way to get to explore. One really awesome thing about the park is that none of the dogs are on leashes. They all just run around and look so happy! I can’t imagine any park in America letting people do that.

So this has been an absolutely insane couple of days! I promise not all the posts will be so long! Classes start tomorrow and we’re all so excited to get to work!

Such a beautiful city

Such a beautiful city

The outline of the original foundations of the Rose Theatre in red lights

The outline of the original foundations of the Rose Theatre in red lights

The Eye

The Eye

These guys are everywhere but they were pretty shocking the first time we saw one!

These guys are everywhere but they were pretty shocking the first time we saw one!

Millennium Bridge

Millennium Bridge

The Globe!

The Globe!

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