Monday, January 31, 2011

"Is it a world to hide virtues in?"

In 1600 Shakespeare completed the play "Twelfth Night, or What You Will."  The play was written at the request of the "Lord of Misrule" at the Inns of Court.  The Inns of Court is currently an embankment here in London where lots of law firms have chambers.  In Shakespeare's day The Inns of Court were basically schools where students wishing to practice law would go and live.  During the Christmas Holiday the students would take charge of the school and govern themselves, starting with Christmas and ending at Three Kings Day (The twelve days of Christmas).  Now imagine this sort of being like the early 17th century version of UConn's Spring Weekend, but instead of getting drunk and lighting cars on fire, students would get drunk and light carriages on fire (well not quite, but maybe, I like to picture they also all gathered in a parking lot or large field and drank, but maybe that's a 21st century sort of thing.  Oh, X Lot).  As I mentioned above, the students would elect or choose a leader, known as the Lord of Misrule.  The Lord of Misrule had a simple job.  It was his job to make sure the students had enough alcohol, food and activities to keep themselves busy during the holiday.  It was basically his job to make sure they had fun.  One year, an overly ambition Lord of Misrule rang Shakespeare on his mobile and said, "Hey Mr. Shakespeare, do you reackon you could write us a play about fun, pleasure, cakes, drinking, love and overall partying?"  Shakespeare replied, "Stop waisting my T-Mobile minutes, otherwise I'm going to keep having to top up at Roseberys and it is expensive to do that here in London, but yes, I'll write you a play."  (You may realize that I'm combining a story that is leading to a certain crucial realization of my travels here and my need to go top up my phone so that I can talk to people, as far as I know Shakespeare didn't have a mobile).  So, Shakespeare wrote what we know today as "Twelfth Night."  Now little did Shakespeare know at the time he wrote the play that it would be the first play that Stephen Pelletier would read during his time spend in London in the year 2011 (411 years later).
I picture this being the Lord of Misrule

The play "Twelfth Night" originates in fun.  It is about seizing the pleasures of life where ever we may  find them.  It is about enjoying life before we run out of whatever time we have.  The play represents the last party, the last good time before heading back into the grind.  As the "Twelfth Night" implies it is the last night of the holiday, the last day of The Lord of Misrule's reign.  My time here in Europe is flying by!  I'm already starting my fourth week and it isn't going any slower.  I'm on the brink of traveling to Scotland, Belgium, Paris, Netherlands, and Wales (and hopefully Dorset very soon).  There will be plenty of life to grasp before I go back to America and I intend to grasp all of it.  This adventure is by no means the last great adventure of my life, but it may be the last great adventure of my youth (or maybe the first of my adult life).  But, for what its worth, I'm happy to be here now.  I may in fact be the happiest I've ever been.  From now until the "twelfth night" of my adventure, I hope I can continue to say the same thing.
Trying to grasp the experience in a literal sense.  Unfortunately my arms were not long enough in this case.  I'll just stick to the figurative grasping. 
Me with a dolphin, it pretty much is what it is. 

Ok, now on to what I'm doing, enough with the philosophical jibber jabber.  Last time we saw our hero he was celebrating his flatmate's birthday and pondering the meaning of family and friendship amongst his fellow students.  Today we find him pondering his future upcoming adventures and his trip to Brighton.
Enjoying some reading in Brighton. 

So, last Saturday we all jumped on the train and headed to Brighton.  Brighton is a major port city in the UK.  We first visited the Royal Pavilion where King George IV spent most of his young life.  Queen Victoria even spent some time there.  The palace was unbelievable.  Because of the unique architecture (based on architecture from India) it is very difficult to up keep the palace (construction began in the 1780s) in Brighton.  Nevertheless, the inside of the palace is awe-inspiring.  The banquet hall was my favorite.  It seems like a pretty great place to hold some dinners with some of my favorite people (that's you guys!).    
It would be a bit awkward trying to have a conversation with someone on the other end.  I imagine long tables like these are what started cliques.

From the palace we went to the Brighton Pier, where we had world famous fish and chips (I also had mushy peas!).  Based on the pictures I am sure you can tell what I thought about fish and chips.
BEFORE

AFTER

From there, we went to the shore.  We decided to touch the water.  Some of us touched it a bit more than others, me included.  I accidentally sort of jumped in, my feet were a bit wet after that.  It was nothing compared to the Narragansett Polar Plunges though.  After that we saw some of the shops and then headed back to London.
Ready for a small swim on such a warm and sunny day.


The rest of the weekend has been pretty relaxed.  On Sunday I went to Sainsbury's in Holborn Circus and bought a sandwich, an apple and some water and sat in a local park next to a church and ate.  It was the first time I had really taken to just sit and relax and think quietly.  I really appreciate my time doing that.  Not a bad Sunday ritual I guess.      

This morning I went to Cardinal Pole Secondary School with my district director from London Citizens, Sebastien, to have a talk with the students there.  Seb has been going there for the past three weeks and goes every week.  I'm going to do my best to go weekly with him!  We talk to the students in the class for about an hour and work with them on how they can make a positive impact in the community.  Today I worked with a very bright group of kids who I'm going to work on the TESCO campaign with! 

As exciting as it was to work with these students, it was quite humbling to see the condition of the school and the status of many of the children.  It reminded me a lot of when I would go into Willimantic when I was young for school exchanges.  The school in Hackney is one of the poorest in the city and it shows.  I saw two kids beating up another one, just to take his drum sticks.  Unfortunately there is nothing you can really do except hope that the staff can break it up.  Many of these students don't need to hear us lecture what it is like for these people to live with a wage under the living wage (7.85) because many of their parents make less than that, if they have parents for that matter.  Hopefully my work in the East Hartford Schools will help me manage these kids.  Although interestingly enough I had no problem getting their full attention; maybe it was the accent!

After that I had my first full english breakfast at a local diner near the school and then headed back here to the flat to write this.  In about five days I am going to be leaving for Scotland.  I'm sure I'll get in another post before then. 

I miss you all, and I hope you are all surviving the snow alright. 

From what I gather, Waggers is not quite to sure about all this snow, but I'm sure she is still happy! 
Picture taken by my dad...Waggers is usually one to travel off the beaten path, but not today.
 Mallory and Chocurua, modeling (yet again) in a sea of white.  (Picture compliment of Tom S. and Rosalind P.)

-SFP

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cake with Dennis (sounds sort of like a 2 PM PBS cooking show)

Bonjour!

In case you are wondering they don't say Bonjour in England, they do however in France.  I just felt like the usual, "hello everyone" was getting a bit old so I went with this instead.  Plus, I'm going to Paris for our school break in about a month!  But first, Edinburgh, Scotland in less than two weeks!

The beginning of this week has been wonderful.  Roger Federer is dominating in the Australian Open, Rafael Nadal lost this morning and I just bought some fresh crumpets from Sainsbury's.  Anyways, on to the important stuff: what I've been doing...IN LONDON...sorry I'm still not completely over the fact that I'm here.  On Monday I was standing outside and said something like, "its chilly" and my friend said, "Yeah, how cold is it?" and we saw it was about 43 degrees.  We continued to talk about how it was cold and then someone said, "Guys!  It's below zero back home and here we are complaining about 43 degree temperatures!"  So we had a good laugh about that one.  Sorry fellow Connecticutters (I looked it up and that is how you refer to someone from Connecticut), but I hope you are all surviving the cold!

So, Monday I had no classes.  So, as usual it was an extremely stressful day, which included waking up at around 10:30, taking an hour to eat breakfast, going on a short run, coming back, eating lunch, then taking a walk, then going to the post office, then going to the TESCO express, buying a cheap bottle of red wine and a Twix bar, then going to Sainsbury and buying my friend Dennis a cake (Dennis' birthday was Monday!)  Now, one thing about the cakes.  I never noticed these in the USA, but here they have cakes you can buy off the shelves in a box, that just sit there.  The cake I bought (mainly because it came with candles!) was a Madeira cake filled with raspberry jam and buttercream (whatever that is), covered with soft icing (it wasn't that soft).  I also bought some Sainsbury's cookies.  So after going to the store, me and my other flatmate Andy took Dennis out for dinner at a grill near our flat that he likes.  After that we had a lot of the members of our group over to sing happy birthday and celebrate with us.  It was pretty cool, because what I've been noticing now that we are two weeks in is that we are starting to form so really concrete bonds with each other.  The people here are really amazing and I'm really happy that we are all friends.  I feel like now we are really starting to feel like we've known each other for much longer than two weeks.  Watching everyone come over for Dennis really made it feel like family!  I like that.  It is natural for people to look for others to relate to and share their experiences with.  I'm really happy that this is the group that I get to experience such an amazing point in my life with.  I hope some of the others feel that way, also, I hope that Dennis had some fun. 
HAPPY BIRTHDAY DENNIS! 

Tuesday I did some shopping at the grocery store and also went for a little walk in Clerkenwell.  I went to my history of the Docklands in London course at 5PM.  The course seems as if it is going to be very interesting.  We talked about the 18th and 19th century docks and mainly how the bridges that were built effected the river and the communities.  We also talked about some of the different trading goods that came in and out of the city and why the river is so important culturally, historically and geographical to Londoners.  It was interesting because many of the images from the 1800s that the professor showed included buildings along the River Thames that I recognized that are still there today, including churches and monuments.  I am really looking forward to going to the museums for this course, but we aren't doing that until the second half!

This morning I met with my district director for the London Citizen's Living Wage campaign project.  On Monday I'm going to be going to a secondary school in my district to try and get the students to join in on our campaign.  I'm really excited to do my first pitch for the campaign and also I'm excited to meet some young Brits and see how they differ from American High Schoolers.

Well, tonight I have my global citizens class at 7!  Hopefully it goes well.  Last class they had us take the test that they give people hoping to become British citizens.  You need an 18 to pass, unfortunately I got a 13.  I guess that just means I have more to learn, which I'm fine with.

Just as a note as well.  In one of the earlier blogs I had posted my address.  That address is still great if anyone wants to send anything.  As a note however, please do NOT send parcels through FEDEX, apparently there is some fee the school has to pay to accept them.  Thanks!

Well, I hope you are all well!  Also, out of curiosity.  I know that certain people are certainly following the blog because they are listed as followers.  If you are not listed as a follower that is ok, but out of curiosity if you don't mind emailing me at sfpelletier524@yahoo.com.  I just want to see who is reading and how you are doing!

Monday, January 24, 2011

All Journeys are in some way Full Circle.

Me in Wimbledon Park.  You can see the top of Centre Court and Court 1 in the distance.
Hey Everyone,
So, the Chicago Bears are not going to the Super Bowl.  I'm not very pleased with this and I can only assume it is because they didn't have Rex Grossman leading the charge.  Well, all in good time Bears fans, it will happen soon!

On a more important note, I'm still here in London, and still enjoying every second.  Yesterday I did something that I have always dreamed of doing since I became a tennis fan a couple of years ago; I went to Wimbledon!  The tennis capital of the world!  Although it was chilly and a little overcast it was one of the best days I have had so far!

I went with my friend Andy, and we arrived at Wimbledon Park station for a 2PM tour.  We got to walk through the park near Wimbledon (called Wimbledon Park) before our tour.

Once we arrived we got to see the museum.   We took pictures in front of the trophies and other memorabilia from past Wimbledon matches!  The tour was amazing.  So guess what!  Did you know that Tennis actually was never played at Wimbledon when it was first opened.  It was only a Cricket club.  To take care of the grass at Wimbledon they had these ponies (probably by the name of Joey) that would pull around rollers.  When they needed a new roller they decided they needed to find a good way to raise money.  So they held a tennis tournament, which Roger Federer won...no, just joking.   That was the first Wimbledon tournament, soon it grew into the greatest tennis tournament in the entire UNIVERSE!  WOO!
Even the benches were awesome!

Centre Court!

Isner Mahut Court (Court 18).  The windows are to the press area in Wimbledon.

Anyways, for those of you who don't know this, the last stop of my great adventure will be Wimbledon, where I will attend the 2011 Championships.  It was interesting being there today and thinking about what it will be like there in five and a half months, after all of my traveling and whatever else I encounter.  The excitement was overwhelming!  But I also am ready for the wait.
See you in June Wimbledon!
Men's and Women's Championship Trophies

Andy and I with a statue of Fred Perry (last Englishman to win Wimbledon, he won in 1936)

After the tour of Wimbledon which included: Henman Hill, Centre Court, Court 1, The Press Room, the player's greeting area, Court 18 (where the historic Isner Mahut match took place) and the new courts that are under construction, we went and hung out at a cafe near Centre Court. 

Hopefully you all enjoy the pictures!

This morning I went for a walk through Hyde Park with my friend Laura and her friend Carly who is here in a different program.  We saw the Peter Pan statue and all of the Queen's geese that were hanging out there!  It was a great way to spend a lazy Monday morning!
Peter Pan!

I could elaborate more, but honestly I'm a bit tired this morning.  I'll make sure to write more in the next blog soon!  Today is my flatmate Dennis' 21st birthday so I think we are going to celebrate somehow tonight!

One other thing: I looked up at the date on my computer and saw that it was January 24, 2011.  The date seemed to ring a bell for a second; then I realized that today is the five year anniversary of my surgery!  Its amazing to think that five years ago my feet couldn't bring me anywhere, now, they are bringing me across the world!  I know most of the people who read this blog are also the ones who helped me through this point in my life; so thank you.  It was also fitting that this afternoon when I opened up a notebook I brought with me a photograph slipped out.  The photo was of Ilga Pagoulis, our neighbor who died about three years ago who I used to visit and who taught me many of the lessons I use in life today.  I remembered one day when I went for a run and I was in so much pain and nearly limped down the road and back and had basically decided to give up on running.  Later that day I visited Mrs. P and she said in her usual broken English, "Stephen, I saw you running today.  You looked so graceful!  It made me so happy to see you!"  It was in part because of her words that day that I kept fighting to recover from my surgery, which today I can now say I have! 
Some people really make this world a better place.  Mrs. P was one of them.

Today, I wonder sometimes how things would have been different if I had never met this amazing woman.  What she taught me that day, was that through all the diversity, and the hardships that invade our minds and cause us to just want to sit at home and give up, there is always a bit of hope that keeps pushing us out the door.  As ugly as we may think we live certain aspects of our life's, there are always some who are still there to support us and care for us.  I've stepped out the door again, and sometimes I think I'm limping, but I know still that at least one person thinks that I walk with grace, everywhere I go.  So thank you everyone, and thank you Mrs. P.   Now on to the next thing! 

I used exclamation points a lot!  I guess that means I'm still really excited.

Good thing!

Well, cheers everyone!

-Stephen

Saturday, January 22, 2011

MUFASA!

Hello Blog Readers,
Mufasa, iconic character, martyr for the cause of good and topic of a game I played

I've been recovering from the excitement of figuring out how to do a VLOG!  That is why I haven't written in  a while!  Anyways, I'm hard at work thinking about my next VLOG.  I'm thinking a MTV Cribs themed VLOG is definitely a good idea, anways, as Andy says sometimes in his blog, "stay tuned." 


As my fellow Americans may or may not know, I love futball.  I never loved Soccer, but I definitely love futball.  Here is why I love futball.  1) Europeans are very enthusiastic about their teams, to the point that they will emphatically point at each other until one side gives in.  2) For some reason only Americans score the goals (Yay! Clint Dempsey) and 3) they play the sport in January and 4) the name of the sport actually makes since. 
Our seats were really great! 

My new love for futball isn't the result of some sort of epiphany, but instead due to the fact that I actually attended a Premier League Futball Game today, Stoke City vs. Fulham.  I realized when I got to the stadium that Fulham Futball Club is the team that my brother had bought a coat for when we were in England in 2002 (random fact).  Anyways, I was excited because I had heard that Clint Dempsey, an American played for Fulham, and personally I love Americans.  It was a really great game.  The atmosphere was amazing, energetic and REALLY COLD!  The amazing part was probably because people are really passionate about futball here, the energetic part was because the stadium was full of electricity and the REALLY COLD part was possibly due to the fact that it is January.  It was really interesting to see how the seating was split into "Home Supporters" and "Away or Neutral Fans."  I was obviously a "Neutral" fan so I sat in that section with the rest of UConn in London.  We were in the tenth row, which was really awesome (you can check out my totally illegal pictures from the futball match to see how close I was!).  The game was dominated by the American Clint Dempsey who scored the only two goals of the game for Fulham.  Fulham won 2-0!  Overall I thought it was fun.  But I also had a ton of fun playing games with my friends Lauren, Laura and Katie (see picture of Mufasa). 
I wonder if any of these people are undercover spies?
I would go under Neutral I guess.  Although as an American I don't really like being Neutral. 

I just watched a UConn basketball game on CBS.  Some people in the program get the games on their computer, so we all gathered around and watched.  I also went to Roseberry's again and ate another chocolate bar.  Stay updated on my efforts to eat all of the chocolate bars in England.  So far the Roseberry's guy is my biggest supporter. Thanks Roseberry's Guy! 

Otherwise, the internship is going well.  I met with my first cleaner, Julius from the Hackney Central TESCO.  He moved his family from Nigeria to London just last year after having been without them for 15 years.  It made the whole experience seem so much more real and exciting.  I'm a bit concerned about the time constraints, but we will see how it works out once the campaign gets rolling. 
YUMMY!

Anyways, the other day I was watching TV, eating a crumpet, drinking some tea and watching BBC Breakfest when a fellow by the name of Lord Winston came on TV.   This happened about a week ago.  You may be wondering why I bring this up.  But today I was thinking about when it hit me that I was in England.  I was thinking about that because it definitely has hit me, but I didn't know when.  So I decided today that that was the moment.  So, thanks Lord Winston.  Also, maybe when I noticed how small the apples were!  They are so small!

Ok, well, I'm doing really well.  I've been really happy lately about things.  I think that the people here are amazing and the experience is just great.  I've been sleeping better than ever and every morning I wake up and the first thing I think about is, "Wow, I'm in London!"  Not too bad.

Well, Cheerio for now everyone!

Seeya soon!
Stephen


 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

WOW! VLOG! THIS IS CRAZY!

videoSorry the sound is not great, I'll work on that in the future

I came from America so that Hanwell could get a "Green Man" of course

Hey Everyone,

So, I'm back sitting in my flat after a long day of work, so I did exactly what I used to do when I had a long day in DC, went to the convience store and bought some chocolate.  Today, it was a Yorkie Bar.  Something new I've added to my ritual, some cheap wine.  Anyways, now that I have some chocolate and cheap red wine, I believe it is BLOG TIME! 
Thank God for having been born MAN.

Believe it or not, I actually do attend class here in London.  Sometimes I forget that I don't have the semester off, and then I am briefly reminded, and then again quickly forget.  Right now, I'm three acts into Twelfth Night (and enjoying it yet again).  We are talking about Acts 1-3 in the next class on Friday.  I had my first History of the Dockland's course yesterday.  It turns out that the professor designed the new Dockland's Museum!  Sitting in such a small room for three hours I feel is going to be a bit difficult, but I'm sure I'll manage.  I'm in London.

Lately, I've been spending the rest of my free time watching some of the Australian Open and exploring.  I've gone on numerous walks around Clerkenwell and I've even taken the 63 Bus and gone to the Thames and walked along the path.  I've really enjoyed it.  I find it extremely relaxing.  I've started running a bit as well.  I'm getting used to city for the most part...that is for the most part.  Running in a place where cars have the right of way is a bit scary. 

As I had mentioned in a previous posting, I am working as a community organizing (organising) intern here with London Citizens.  I've been assigned to work for their Living Wages Campaign.  I've been assigned to their campaign to get TESCOs to pay their workers the "Living Wage."  The Living Wage is an hourly salary that is 7 Pounds, 85 Pence.  It is calculated based on what a family, or even just one person needs to survive in the city of London.  What we are trying to do is to force TESCOs to sign a promise to pay all of their workers the Living Wage.  I've been assigned to Hackney, where I'll be working with the employees at the numerous TESCOs.  My job now is to make a couple connections with cleaners, stackers, etc. who work there for basically the minimum wages to come and give a testimony in front of churches and other groups in the area to get the other citizens to get involved in our campaign to take on such a large corporation.  My district is historic because it is where the first TESCOs was developed.  It is also right near where they are building all of the Olympic Stadiums for 2012!  I have my first meeting with a cleaner tomorrow! 

In the meantime, today I went around to numerous stores on Oxford Street with the intent to find out the starting wage at each store.  A reporter for the Evening Standard has asked us to do this research for an article he is writing to help bring attention to the fact that many of these large stores don't pay their workers the Living Wage. (JUST finished the Yorkie Bar!) As you can imagine I was a little apprehensive at first because they literally plopped me down on the street and said, "GO!" but after a bit of sneaky thinking, we decided it was best to pretend to be innocent American students doing a research project!  Amazingly only two stores told us to pretty much go away (one of them being a new mother store, found that to be a bit ironic).  Unfortunately though, we also found that not a single store that are team talked to today on Oxford Street has a starting wage that is at or above the Living Wage.  There is a lot of work to do. 

Proud mayor of London, Boris Johnson of the Conservative Party. He is completely normal, you can tell from his picture.
Tonight I was working late because we picked in front of a Transportation discussion, sort of like an American Town Hall meeting with the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson (picture attached, and yes, his hair always looks like that).  It was literally the most hilareous thing I've ever been to.  British citizens get just as riled up as Americans, just with a lot more sarcasm.  The politicians also would joke right around with the citizens, something you would rarely see in America.  If you know anything about Boris Johnson, he is quite the sarcastic man.  Joe Courtney wouldn't know what to do with himself.  It reminded me of a comedy show at points.  Although a lot of people were angry, at least they have fun with their anger.  We should try doing that in America more often.  By the way, I was there with London Citizens at the beginning talking with people about putting up cross signs (or green man signs) in Hanwell.  They pretty much just stuck us out there without giving us any information so when someone asked me why an American such as myself was protesting to get a green walkway sign in Hanwell near the school.  So, there I was, out in London, all the way from the USA, protesting to get a walking cross in Hanwell!  Jokingly I told some locals I had come all the way from the USA just for that; they found it funny, I think. 
BORIS!  Add a Green Man to Hanwell!  Also, find a comb! Do it!  Quick! 

I'm still having a great time over here in London.  I'm meeting some great people and having some interesting and new experiences, especially through my internship.  Tomorrow, I have some spare time so I think I'm going to buy a football jersey (Liverpool!) and possibly go checkout Paddington Station, maybe I'll find a lost bear there.  Probably wont bring him home though, this city is expensive, and currently I am paid under the living wage.

The doctor says its good to have a glass of wine and some chocolate.  I think specifically it is good for the heart.  This may have been the healthiest blog I've ever written in that case. 

Well, good night everyone!

Cheers! 






 

Monday, January 17, 2011

It is Stephen time in Greenwich

Hey hey USA...and others
So, my adventures continue.  Yesterday UConn in London strolled to the tube and took the DLR to Greenwich (not in CT).  All of you know this town, it is home to Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) and the Prime Meridian line. 

We first bought some sandwiches and sat in the Old Royal Naval College.  Apparently the students who used to go there used to get up at 5 and then go swimming for three hours.  They would only eat twice a day and did a lot of marching!  Lucky I don't have to do that here in my studies in London. 

We continued on in the Old Royal Naval College to the beautiful Chapel that was on the grounds and the Painted Hall (where Nelson's body lay in state after his death in the Battle of Trafalgar).  This is apparently also whee the Tudor palace used to exist, which is where Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were born!  Next we traveled up to the top of the hill at Greenwich, which had a magnificent view of London (for free too, compared to the London eye, it is definitely worth it).    
Greenwich Park, Queen's House, and Old Royal Naval College behind us and London behind that!

Once we got up there we saw the Greenwich Meridian Line (0 degrees) which they had marked out and we stood on.  They also had the official clock representing the Greenwich Mean Time.  We had a lot of fun taking pictures up there.  After that we strolled back down the hill and went to the Queen's house where members of the Royal Family used to greet people for parties and such.  Now it is an amazing art gallery.  We also went into the Maritime Museum where they had some great artifacts from when the Thames was a central shipping port.
Me at the Prime Meridian with some of my friends here (the brown line represents 0 degrees!)

We took a boat after that and got to see London at night from the Thames which was really remarkable.  Once I got home I skyped my parents for the first time and got to see sunny and snowy America as opposed to rainy London (although I'm quite happy with rainy London right now, sorry guys). 

Today I don't have class so I've been sort of lounging.  I went for a bit of a run around Clerkenwell and then came back here and decided to do a bit of a blog.  Now I'm going to go buy some of my Shakespeare books and laundry detergent!

Hope you are all doing well!

-Stephen    

Dennis, Me and Andy chillin at the Queen's House


Whaz up USA!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

No one can phase me!

So, I've been assigned to guard the Royal Calvary.  They haven't given me a uniform yet, so I'm still getting used to the ridicule, but I'll feel better when I have it.  It is hard when everyone always tries to make you laugh, luckily it is almost impossible for people to make me chuckle or giggle so I am perfect for this job.  Here is a picture from my first day:


Where is Buckingham Palace?

Hey everyone,
So I'm still in tourist-y mode here in London.  Although I've had my first internship training and my first class, I'm still taking advantage of all of the sites and having a great time doing it.
To answer Rosalind's questions from before really quick.  Mixing Cider and Guinness was different (and I'm not going to lie though)- I honestly didn't get a pint of Guinness, I saw someone else get a half pint who was a well respectable guy and thought, whats the problem with being like him.  So I actually did get a half pint and was not ridiculed.  But don't worry Rosalind.  It will not happen again.

Yesterday the program had bought us some tickets for an open top bus tour of the city.  Of course half way through it started raining/hailing, so we decided to try it again today (they were two day tickets).  So, last night after making our first flat dinner (pasta, sausage, garlic bread and salad-really good!) we went to The Castle right near Farrington Station.  The pub was much more lively and exciting.  I met a bar tender from Colorado who is working here.  We also talked to two guys working in London from New Zealand for a while.  They were quite entertaining, although one of them kept spilling his drink all over.  But he gave me some "chips" so I don't blame him too much.  From there my friends and I went into Piccadilly Circus and hung out there.  We met some Italian girls and talked to them for a while (although it was limited because they didn't know much English and we obviously knew no Italian).
Me and my flatmates (Dennis and Andrew) in Westminster

So today, we decided to continue the tour and got off near Westminster and took some pictures in front of Big Ben, Parliament and the Abbey.  We then strolled over to the Royal Horse Stables where I posed next to some of the guards and then we found our way to Buckingham Palace.  Although it took a while, we ended up finding it.  We might have even seen the Queen peeking out at us through a window.  From there we went and ate some snacks and drank some coffee and hot chocolate in Trafalgar Square.  Yes, there were lots of pigeons.  We then went and saw 10 Downing Street.  We then went back to the flats where I took a nap and had tea at 4 (yes, I've started having tea at 4 everyday!)

I don't have much more insight for today's blog.  Just, one thing.  I talked to a homeless man who had a hello kitty hat on.  It was stylish.  If you are homeless wear something innocent like that, I might give you a couple pence or something.  Just don't try to hug me like this one did, that sort of ruins the vibe.

Talk to you all soon!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Strolling London

I'm guessing this picture gives away where I am in the world. Its cloudy, and its the tower bridge.  Good guess if you thought London. 
Yesterday morning I ended up not having training for our internships like most people so I went for a two hour stroll with my flatmate Andy around London.  Here are some pictures of me on the walk.  We also had a good talk with the Metropolitan Police about not getting into Minicabs and such.  This morning I had my first Shakespeare in London course.  The professor seems really nice and enthusiastic about the subject.  We are going to the Globe in three weeks (the same day I'm going to Scotland!- booking the tickets tomorrow!).      

Crawford Passage- where I live in Clerkenwell-Islington, London right off of Ferrington Road.


St. Paul's- it almost looks like I'm back in D.C.


You can see the financial district behind me, including the bullet shaped building called the "Gerkin" You can also see the tip of the HMS Belfast. 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ENGLAND!

Hello Everyone,

Finally- the long awaited blog.  I'm sorry this took so long.  It is in part due to the fact that I have no knowledge of computers and apparently entered the wrong number into the database for our wireless and then was too lazy to figure out how to get internet while I was exploring my new home for the next couple of months.  But finally- here I am (and I think my roommate Andy is really happy that I don't have to use his computer every morning- anyways thanks Andy, you're a champ.)

Well, I'm here.  I arrived after a very smooth flight where I met a new friend Ross, a kind British chap who was leaving his fiancee in New York City for the last time before his wedding in May, when he moves to the USA permanently.  We connected when I saw he was reading an article about the Red Sox owners who were buying the Liverpool "football" team.  So we got to talking and it seems there is now one more Red Sox fan in the world and one more Liverpool fan in the world.  Anyways, one of my goals was to find a favorite football team while I was here and it seems that was accomplished before I even got to England.  Ross and I spent the entire flight talking, I did sleep for one hour and did watch an episode of Modern Family, which he said was a must see.  Once the plane landed we parted ways and he left me his name so that we could become facebook friends.  He lives on the other side of England, on the coast all the way on the tip. 

Eventually we got to the flats and moved in.  I'm living with Andy and Dennis.  Andy is a political science/communications major so we have a lot in common.  Dennis is simply the man.  He is probably about twice my height, twice my weight and African American, but he is one big teddy bear.  We've gotten along really well.  Two days ago we went for a walk around near were we live Islington.  We found a lot of great stuff and had fun talking to some locals in a park we found.  Anyways, we are going on another adventure to figure out the tube tonight and see Big Ben at night. 

The school at FSU is on the Museum Mile.  I go to class literally two minutes from the British Museum.  I walk by it everyday I walk there!  It is amazing!!!  I start class on Friday.  I'll let you all know how it went.

I had my first day with London Citizens today.  We got up in our ties and all at 7 to depart at 8 (by the way, I'm getting pretty good at English breakfests, also...I discovered greek yogurt with honey.).  Once we got there we met a very enthusiastic team and we had a day long training.  Basically what I'll be working on is their "Living Wage Campaign" against the Tescos' in London.  I'm being assigned a district in London soon where I will go to Tescos and try to talk to cleaners and other workers about their wages with the intent of scheduling a meeting with them at a cafe or on a bus about getting involved with our campaign against Tescos to get them to pay their workers the Living Wage in London (7.85).  We are hoping to get them to publically testify on our behalf to get Tescos to sign a pledge to pay the Living Wage.   I'll explain more as the internship starts.  I'm really excited to get started though.  It seems like a really passionate group of people with a huge interest in helping people out.    

Oh and of course!  I had my first pub visit.  I ordered some cider and then some Guiness. The pub was called the Three Kings, it was a great atmosphere.  The pub is right in Clerkenwell about five minutes from my flat.  

So far I've only really been lost twice. 

OH!  Also, I went to see "War Horse" at Drury Lane.  It was amazing!  The puppetry they used for the horses was unbelievable.  See it if you get a chance!!!!!

I miss you all.  But for now I'm doing really really well here in London.  I'm making a lot of new friends and I'm having a great time. 

I'll talk to you all soon.  I love you America and don't consider it cheating when I say that I'm falling in love with Europe.

CHEERS America! 
 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Bon Voyage Dinner!

I'm going to miss Waggers, please stop by my house and give her food on your free time!
Hey All,
I can't believe it.  Two days away from my six month adventure of Europe.  I'll be leaving for New York City early in the morning on Saturday the 8th (the weather channel calls for snow...keep your fingers crossed that it isn't too bad!).  My flight is scheduled to lift of from JFK at 10:30 USA time. I'm really starting to get excited, but I'm also realizing that I might need to pack soon!

Yesterday night my family and I (along with Kenny and Elizabeth) were treated by Tom S. and Rosalind P. to a meal (more like 7 meals) cooked by a celebrity chef, Jerry.  We ate some amazing things ranging from trotter, panettone, salmon and risotto, beef wellington, amazing mashed potatoes, potato cakes and salmon, it was an amazing night with great food and great company.

Now that the celebrating is over, I'm left to a few more good byes and a few more stops in Mansfield before I leave for a long time. This point reminds me a lot of when I left for DC back in the summer of 2009 for my internship with Congressman Joe Courtney.  I'm not really nervous like I was back then, but I still have the same sense of excitement and adventure.  I'm really excited to live in a new culture and meet lots of new people.  I'm also excited to test out some of the European appletinis! 

This will most likely be my last blog while I'm here in America, so for now, good bye America.  I would say I'm leaving because the 112th Congress is being sworn in and I just don't know if I can handle John Boehner crying all the time, but in reality whether it was a democratic majority or what we have now, I'm ready to go for a bit.  But I'll be back, again.

Me and Jerry (the celebrity chef), he is awesome. I'm definitely not gonna be fed nearly as well in England (well maybe when I visit Brian and June!)

I guess I'm going to miss my brother.


2 DAYS

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Address!!!!!!!

HI EVERYONE!
I'm six days away from going to Europe! 


Here is my address for while I'm across the pond if anyone is interested!

I hope you all enjoyed New Years Eve! I sure did!

Stephen Pelletier
University of Connecticut in London
 c/o FSU London Study Centre
 98-99 Great Russell Street
 London WC1B 3LH
 United Kingdom

6 DAYS!