Like any major city, we have this impression in our head of what it was like, and then there’s the reality. Truth be told I never really.. imagined London as a city I’d ever visit prior to applying to grad school. I have a lot of places on my list, but for whatever reason it lacks English-speaking places. It just happened to have a program that was not to be found in the US, or at least not one I could apply to in time. There was a very short time between me finding this program and finding out I got accepted, so I had little time to process the thought of what living in London would be like.
I had no experience in living in another big city for a long period of time, but I did live in Madrid for five weeks in 2010. This was my first time being in an environment like this and I can say it was not for me–not for forever at least. Nothing against London, but I just realized I’m not a big city person. I’d feel the same way about living in any other huge city like that. I much prefer a slower pace of life. I do love big cities to visit, because there is no shortage of things to do–and more importantly, good food to eat. Since I only had 6 hours of class time per week for each term, I had a lot of time to explore.
The beauty of living in a big city is that there is no shortage of surprises like walking in the middle of Leicester Square (FYI– it’s pronounced “Lester”) and seeing a movie premiere. This happened in October 2013, I was just walking around Chinatown foraging for food as usual. I ended up walking right behind a stage and I look up and not even 20 feet away was Natalie Portman. No big deal. Then I see this huge hammer and quickly realize it’s the Thor premiere. More importantly, Chris Hemsworth was there. And while he wasn’t close enough for me to get a good photo, I did see him. Besides, I’m convinced if I would have gotten too close, next thing you know I’d be a home-wrecker– and my conscience couldn’t allow me to break up a family. You’re welcome, Chris Hemsworth’s wife.
Later that month, some American friends flew in from Spain for the weekend to see the 49ers and Jaguars play in London. Now, I know nothing about American football, but I wanted to go to the game. It also gave me a good reason to feel somewhat American again. It was weird going through central London and seeing NFL signs everywhere. Apparently, they’re trying to make the NFL a thing over there. I don’t know. So anyway, my friends were visiting, which also gave me a good reason to do touristy things. I had been there for a month, and I believe this was the first time I actually went to see Big Ben and the London Eye. I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan, because I mentally check out of movie series’ when they space them out too much, but I did go take a picture at Platform 9 3/4. The odd thing is, I passed by that all the time because I had to switch at Kings’ Cross to get to my university or most places. There was never a shortage of tourists there.
So fast forward to Sunday of that weekend, we’re at the football game at Wembley. I was surprised at how many people were there, considering it’s American football, but there was no shortage of fans there. I’m at the game, I think I looked bored, but like I said before, I had no idea what was going on– and I really don’t think I’ll ever get it. This was my second NFL game I had been to that year, by the way. One of my guy friends at the game did explain something to me, and at that moment I did get it, but now I can’t even remember what it was. Happens every single time. Ne-Yo sang the national anthem and for whatever reason I randomly checked my second e-mail account. By second account, I mean the one with so much crap in it it’s not worth using but I still have it. I got this message from Facebook saying I won this contest that I randomly entered to meet David Beckham and that I needed to respond by Friday–it was Sunday. Panic ensued silently as I stared at that email, and I quickly responded to that person pleading that I missed the e-mail and was still interested in going, I even e-mailed the person twice back to back.
I didn’t say a word to anyone I was at the game with about that e-mail, but it was probably the only thing on my mind for the rest of the game. Talk about distracted.
In case you wanted to know, the 49ers beat the Jaguars 42-10.
As for the David Beckham thing, I’ll save that for next the next installment!