Friday, September 25, 2015

Maria's not an asset to the abbey

. . . we may or may not have been singing under our breaths as we walked through Fountains Abbey today.

Have you ever heard of Fountains Abbey? It is one of the largest and best-preserved monasteries in Great Britain. It was founded in 1132 and operated for over 400 years, when it was disbanded by Henry VIII in 1539. 

Now it is a World Heritage site and absolutely beautiful. 

Honestly, you just can't get enough pictures of this place. It is stunning. You could walk for hours around this place and just find new things to enjoy.

And we did.

Although it does make it more fun to explore with family.

As I was exploring, I climbed up to some old windowsills. L. saw me and thought I was stuck, so she ran over to help me. 

Good thing she's there to come to my rescue. 

 L. loved, loved, loved all the rocks. 

And the rocking sheep. I mean, who could say no? 

Oh haiiiii. 

Mom and I under the big, blue, British sky. 

"How do you solve a problem like Maria?" 
[Because we are in an abbey, after all.]

Contemplating synonyms for Maria: 

Fountains Abbey. Lovely people, lovely place, lovely memories. 

Of stones, phone booths, and magic

A photo collage. 

[In front of the British Museum. The lady taking our picture was so sweet--she made sure that it was aligned perfectly and that there were no other random tourists too near by.]

[I love the roof of the British Museum.]

[The Rosetta Stone. I actually really like this picture. I was able to get a shot without a lot of people, The random woman in the khaki coat who is studying the stone is my favorite part.]

[The Assyrian exhibit. I thought this one was really cool. I know that a lot of people go to the British Museum to see things like the Rosetta Stone and Elgin Marbles, but on this trip the Assyrian exhibit was my favorite.]

[Victoria and Albert Museum.]

[V&A Museum, take two. This was a sculpture representing modern London. It was called "The Tower of Babel."]

[So touristy. But I had to do it. I just love the red phone booths.]

["Mind the gap between the train and the platform."]

["Best do it at a bit of a run if you're nervous." I absolutely had to get this picture. And yes, I am a Ravenclaw. Very much so. Also, they didn't have this setup the last time I was at King's Cross. I had to go and actually find Platform 9 and 3/4. But it's fun to have had both experiences/photo ops.]

[Going to see Wicked.]

[So excited to see Wicked! Did you know that I had never seen it before Wednesday? I've had the music memorized since I was 13, but this was my first time seeing it. It did not disappoint.]

I'm glad that I was able to spend a couple of days in London with my mom. Of course there was only so much we could see in the little time we were there, but honestly, you could spend a year in London and not see or do everything that's available there.

"When [one] is tired of London, [one] is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." --Samuel Johnson

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Woke up in London yesterday . . .

It has been a very, very, very long day. Overnight transatlantic flights are draining, and when you've been running around Heathrow and London from 6:30 in the morning to now, you're pretty tired. Especially since you're trying to stave off sleep so that your circadian rhythm will somewhat adjust to the new time zone. Which is one reason I am writing a blog post right now. To keep myself awake.

That's not to say that it has been a bad day. Just a busy and tiring one.

But there is always wonder in the air in London. It is a beautiful city, rich in history and tradition.

Also, this is what I woke up to outside of my airplane window this morning:

If you ever wondered what London looks like from the air at 6:15 in the morning, now you know. It is a stunning collection of lights, with the black Thames cutting under the brilliance.

London greeted us (my mom and I--she's traveling with me) in her typical manner: with rain. It was a soggy, shiny September morning, afternoon, and evening.

She's just telling us how it is. What it means to live in England. You'd better get used to rain. Learn to like it, even when it makes your hair incredibly frizzy.

But she makes up for her occasional grumpiness by reminding you of her class, sophistication, and sheer beauty.

 [just a charming London street.]

 [now in black and white.]

 [Kensington Gardens.]


 ["Flower Corner" with post.]

 [Trafalgar Square. The monument was under construction, so this was the best I could do under the circumstances.]

 [Westminster Abbey. Just extraordinary.]

[Hello, Big Ben.]

There is still so much ahead. But for tonight, I am grateful for the beginning of the journey. And that it begins in London. 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Leaving on a jet plane . . .

In less than twenty-four hours I will be flying over the Atlantic Ocean, off to start a Master Programme at Oxford University.

I'm excited, nervous, unsure, confident . . . everything you'd expect from a young, twenty-something woman about to take on the world with a notebook, a good pair of heels, a head full of brains, and a heart full of dreams.

I've been thinking a lot about how I want to portray this adventure on social media. Because I know that all of my adoring fans (or frenemies . . . I don't exactly know who actually reads this blog) will be interested to know what I am doing . . . but I don't want to be overbearing/annoying as I post things on Facebook, Instagram, etc. Like, I don't want to overwhelm everyone's Facebook pages with what I had for breakfast every morning. But I do want to put some pictures/thoughts/experiences I'm having whilst abroad. Because--personally--I like reading about people's adventures, especially when I care about those people. 

Will I post frequently? No idea. I hope to write blog posts a couple times a week, but there are no promises. I'm going to be doing most of my musings via this blog. But don't expect me to link my blog to Facebook every time I write a blog post. If you do want to follow my adventures more regularly, feel free to subscribe to this blog (via email, Google plus, or via the subscribe button below), or follow me on Instagram @megochka7. I'll be using the hashtag #MegGoesToOxford to link my Oxford posts together. 

Also, here are some things you should/should not expect to see on my blog and social media accounts. 

Do Not Expect my Instagram account to be like Caroline Calloway's. Have you heard about her? She's studying Art History at Cambridge and basically posts about her life abroad on Instagram . . . but it's a year after the fact, so she can make it into a story. Which is cool and all that, but there are a few reasons why this will not be me: 

1. I want to "gram" about my life in real time. 
2. I am not as extroverted as she is. 
3. I am not going to meet a hot Swedish boy who will fall in love with me while I'm at Oxford. Like, okay, fine. It could happen. But I'm not going to let the world know about it. I mean, it works for her and that's great, and they're dating and obviously mfeo (made for each other, if your Sleepless in Seattle references are rusty). But I don't feel comfortable broadcasting my dating life to the world. Like, that's just me. So . . . sorry. No hot Swedish boys will make their debut on my blog. Anyway. Moving on. 

Do Not Expect me to apologize for an overabundance of Harry Potter/Hogwarts references. I will try to rein it in. But there are no promises. 

Do Expect my contributions on social media to be relatively similar to what they are now--thoughts about life, God, and the universe. Only this time I'll be writing from my flat in Oxford. 

Do Expect pretty pictures from England. 

Do Expect awkward moments, epiphanies, deep thoughts, and preachy soapbox moments. Expect wonder, faith, doubt, friends (new and old), musings, optimism, hope, and belief. 

In short, expect a girl trying to use and develop her gifts as she stumbles, falls, skips, laughs, learns, and writes her narrative. 

Life is full of possibilities. 

Let's meet them head on, shall we? 

For future reference

A dear friend sent this quote to me. I want to keep it somewhere I can refind and refer to it often:

"God expects you to have enough faith and determination and enough trust in Him to keep moving, keep living, keep rejoicing. In fact, He expects you not simply to face the future (that sounds pretty grim and stoic); He expects you to embrace and shape the future--to love it and rejoice in it and delight in your opportunities.

"God is anxiously waiting for the chance to answer your prayers and fulfill your dreams, just as He always has. But He can't if you don't pray, and He can't if you don't dream. In short, He can't if you don't believe." --Jeffrey R. Holland "Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

My Lindon // My Mountains

"Now God be thanked that the name of a hill is such music, that the name of a river can heal." --Alan Paton, Cry the Beloved Country 

Just some views from an evening run in my hometown: 

[Utah sunsets. Utah fields.]

 [Yes, that is a man on a horse. Talking to his neighbor. Just a regular day in the neighborhood.]

[Firm as the mountains around us.]

I love these streets. I love these people. I love September evenings drenched with dew and dusk. 

[There is something soothing in a garden.] 

I will miss these evening runs, especially as the weather has turned perfect for them. 

But there is something in having a hometown to come home to. 

And to know that the mountains will always be here--gentle giants waiting to welcome me home. 

--post inspired by this and this.--

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A pot full of borscht

-It's raining right now. So it's a perfect day for hot borscht and warm herbal tea.

-They say that Ukrainians say goodbye and then never leave and that Americans leave without saying goodbye. I have kind of felt Ukrainian lately--I think that since I've stayed in Utah for so long without leaving for grad school that people think that Oxford is some kind of ruse and that I'm not really leaving. I promise I am leaving for England in less than a week. The two suitcases haphazardly filled with clothes and books are a testament of that.

-Also, goodbye parties and last-minute hikes with friends are always in order.

[Sorry if you hate this picture, Hannah. I can delete it if you'd like. I just thought it captured the whimsical, adventuresome, backwoods nature of our hike.]

-I forgot how good fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden are. Fresh peaches, fresh tomatoes, fresh squash . . . a garden is heaven.

-I'm watching The Devil Wears Prada right now. And I'm pretty sure Anne Hathaway would play me in a movie about my life.

-Also, this movie reminds me of how much I would just not fit into that world of high society. "Don't be ridiculous, Andrea. Everybody wants this. Everybody wants to be us." Well, not me, thank you very much.

-This time next week I'll be in London. If that's not exciting I don't know what is.

-But for right now, in the midst of packing and organizing and making sure everything is in its place, at least I have a pot full of homemade borscht. Made from fresh beets from the garden.