My Year in London

On Christmastime and My First (and only) 10K Race

November didn’t have too many big moments. Or maybe nothing in November really could compare to meeting David Beckham, because let’s be honest that was really the denouement of my year life.

I made my visit outside of London, and it was much needed downtime, because I needed to be in more peaceful surroundings. An old friend introduced me to someone (Joe) that lived in Oxford, so I made a day trip there. I took a bus to Oxford and just enjoyed the quiet ride and beautiful scenery along the way. Joe was a great tour guide, I couldn’t tell you everything we saw but I remember feeling at ease internally out in a serene atmosphere, something I wasn’t getting at the time in London. And it gave me a chance to eat and drink in a new setting, which to be honest– that’s always what I’m looking forward to when I go someplace new anyway. Priorities.

Christmas time–this was one of my favorite memories of my time in London. I spent I think about a week squatting at my friend Richelle’s flat and enjoying the holiday with her family. Weeks before Christmas, she had randomly said to me that there were a group of people who were raising money for victims of the hurricane that hit the Philippines that year by running a 10K through central London on Christmas morning– and in case you didn’t know this about me, hey I’m Lyka, and I’m half Filipina and half of my family lives in the Philippines. So I instantly agreed, because I love a good cause. Mind you, I haven’t ran that far in about 4.5 years, and at the time, my workouts were primarily based lifting and lowering weights so… I wasn’t exactly in primed for running at the time. I ran approximately 4 times in preparation for that 10K, and not a single one of those runs was a 10K run. I do not advise this. To be fair, I was in arguably the best shape ever, you could literally bounce a quarter off my butt. I don’t know if that really has anything to do with anything, but you’re welcome for the visual. I just really wasn’t into cardio at the moment, especially running.

But I digress– Christmas morning rolled around and I remember Richelle and I getting ready for the race. We had porridge/oatmeal with dried fruits that day. I remember because I wasn’t an oatmeal person, but it was particularly delicious and the most perfect thing to have prior to a race. Who knew. I rode along with Richelle’s family to Westminster, which was our start and end point. We warmed up as a group and started on our run around central London. The run proved to be.. pretty useful because I finally could see where things laid out above ground. I took the tube most of the time, and occasionally I’d ride a bus for short distances, but most of my traveling was done on the Underground. Landmarks were a lot closer than I imagined them to be, that’s for sure. If you can imagine a tour of London where you see Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, the Palace, the Millenial Bridge, The London Eye– well that was my run. I surprisingly kept a steady pace the whole time. My legs felt like well oiled machines because after a short while it felt like nothing– in the best way possible, because as someone who isn’t a fan of running, you want that sweet spot where you stop thinking about running and just do it. I’m not kidding when I say I’m thoroughly surprised I didn’t pass out somewhere in London that day. While I spent a lot of time dreading to see if I could even finish, I really liked it. After that day, and realizing I could actually do this, I would just run for no apparent reason around my area. Here’s a video from that day:

And I ran that whole race with my hair down. Because– Lyka Boss.

After the race and the must-needed shower, I recall us opening presents. Lots of Lindt chocolate was involved. Lots. Later that night we went to another flat where Richelle’s extended family was and in typical Filipino fashion, we ate. And drank. I think I siphoned a lot of my alcohol to Richelle because I’m not so hardcore that I can drink liquor straight. Unlykaboss. It was a great Christmas, and arguably one of the best ones I’ve ever had. It’s what I imagined a Christmas would be like if I was raised with siblings and actually had a family that did normal family type things.

I don’t remember much about my time in London in the following month, but it included lots of essay writing, lots of running to avoid working on my theses (plural for thesis, I had 3 to do), and a last minute trip to Spain. Until next time..

P.S.
An old post I wrote was posted on Talking Soup magazine, if you haven’t read my thoughts of forgiving myself and being a single mother– click and enjoy!

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My Year in London, Uncategorized

On Facebook and David Beckham

This part of my London adventures really deserved a whole post of its’ own, because this was a turning point in my first couple of months in London– or my life, your call. Of all the people in this world, I certainly was not expecting to meet David Beckham. I just randomly entered this contest on a whim on Facebook, and hell I even forgot about it. As I received that first email that I had won the opportunity, at first I was like huh? What the..

Back to where I left off from the last installment of My Year in London series–the 49ers vs Jaguars game, which was on a Sunday. Now that I think about it, I made a mistake in my previous post, I believe I checked my email that Friday night and got the email about responding to the David Beckham event a day or two too late, but it was Friday or Saturday that I responded. I don’t know. The point is, I had missed the deadline in responding and I remember sending two emails back to back to the sender asking if they still had a spot open and that I had wanted to still attend. It was the football game that I saw that I got a confirmation email saying that it was OK and that they still had a spot for me, and that’s why I was so distracted.

…And because I don’t understand American football. That’s besides the point though.

That Wednesday was the day of the event. It was the first, and to my knowledge the only time, that Facebook was testing out this particular technology where they had a digital book signing all around the world. How it worked was that, they would have David in a studio in London signing autographs to fans’ Facebook timeline digitally with a tablet, while fans from other parts of the world would be able to video chat in with him live and ask questions. The autographs will be posted to fans’ timeline automatically. As for the fans in the audience, we got to stand in line after the taping of the event was over to meet him and ask him questions, one by one.

So the day comes, and I arrive to Air Studios in the northwest area of London, which was in the area where I lived but a much fancier part. The place was actually relatively close to me in mileage, but it took forever to get there by bus. I’m surprised I got there in time and didn’t get lost. God must has been on my side or something. Ha. So anyway, I get there, check in with security and everyone was directed towards a reception room with lots of food. In this room we watched the first part of the interview, and I remember wondering if that was it and if we were actually going to be able to meet David or not. After being there for a while, I whipped out my phone and started Facebooking– you know up until that point not a single person knew where I was or what I was doing. I like being full of surprises–or just secretive, your call.

Finally, after a couple of hours we all got escorted into this studio where David was and we got to be the audience during his interview. Following the ending of it everyone was lined up and got to talk to David and get a picture with him while he signed autographs. You know– I imagined a lot of things to say to him as I was standing in that line, I really did. I practiced in my head over and over because I was in the tail end of the line so I had some time and then he was in front of me and all I could muster up was “Hi”.. and then I proceeded to drooling on him and smiling like an idiot the whole time. I was so frozen, it was ridiculous. And footbal/soccer was actually the only sport I’ve ever played and the only sport I really understand so you would think that I’d have something to say to him but nothing came out. Hell, we even played the same position! Embarrassing.

See, this is exactly why I can’t date hot guys.

Anyway, he was really nice and seemed pretty used to the drooling. If you think he looks good on camera, in person he is unbelievably beautiful. I can’t. I couldn’t even, y’all. I wish my camera was more focused. I wish there wasn’t much space between us in that photo, but I was so disgustingly shy that day, he’s lucky I didn’t pass out on him. I had no words, and I didn’t know what to do with myself afterwards either. What do you do after that?!

We got copies of his new book and a copy of our autographs. Then that day I just remember going to a pizza shop by my flat, got a whole pizza but only ate half of it (like that sounds any better) and a glass of red wine. Because really, what could I possibly do after that? What is life after David Beckham?

Spoken like a true fan girl.

The significance of this though was that afterwards, I started liking London. Finally. I mean honestly, who wouldn’t?

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My Year in London

On Chris Hemsworth and Football

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.

Thor Premiere - London - Leicester SquareI 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!

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My Year in London

On My Year in London, Pt. 1

Whenever I hear music from my workout playlist it instantly reminds me of London. I spent a year there and I know it is really weird that I barely ever mentioned it on this blog. Part of the reason was that I was busy having fun, because– HELLO I was in London, and the other parts I was having “moments” that I just did not want to talk about on my blog. But the good news is that I have a ton of pictures from my year there, my travels, and lots of blogging material. So now I’ll let people what I did there, besides I want to break up the baby blogging, my life is revolving around it right now and I can use the mental break.

Anyway, after I got settled at my first (out of three) place in London, I spent a lot of free time working out at the gym on my street and running to Primrose Hill or Regent’s Park, because it was so close to my flat. I lived with the weirdest landlady, who I’m sure did not give me her real name and used a flip phone. The flat and location were perfect. I lived right above a Waitrose, which is the American equivalent of a fancy grocery store, but not as fancy as Whole Foods, because they had a Whole Foods in London that I went to.. and it was much more expensive. I still went anyway, because.. I’m American. I also had a really nice doorman (porter), and a sexy elevator that reminded me of Grey’s Anatomy. As soon as I opened the door to my flat building to go outside, right across the street was the Finchley Road tube station and also a small shopping center. Trust me, living really close to a nice flat next to a tube station was heaven sent and SO convenient. Half a mile down the road was my gym, which was pretty nice by my standards and had a hot trainer that was always friendly with me. I hate distractions at the gym, but.. if it’s a really good one, I’ll welcome it.

………….

Basically, it was the perfect place for me, aside from the crazy landlady that I didn’t trust and the expensive price tag.

Then there was university, which was the reason I came to London in the first place.  I don’t know what I was thinking leaving so much time in between undergrad and postgrad.  It had been about 3 and a half years since I had set foot inside a classroom, and I swear it took that whole first term for my brain to even get with the program.  Not to mention, my undergrad degree was in psychology and this program was based in sociology/political sciences.  My professors might as well have spoken French to me for a couple of months. Not having to use your brain in that way in years and then having to think critically all the time, especially about a different subject, was so difficult for me.  All of this on top of trying to adjust to a completely different culture.  I will say this though, even though it was a challenge, completing it was so rewarding.  Who knows maybe I’ll bite the bullet and get a doctorate.  Maybe.

This post was more of a introduction to my year in London series.  I have a lot to cover, from my favorite places, meeting new people, meeting David Beckham*, traveling to other countries, the agonies of grad school, and general London information from my point of view.  My second installment will be on Thursday, and I’ll keep posting about London on Thursdays.. because TBT, naturally.  If by chance you want me to talk about anything specific feel free to contact me by the form on this page. Until next time..

*Yea, you read that correctly.  And to my friends, I will NEVER let y’all forget it.  EVER!

 

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