Sunday, April 15, 2012

Finals and the Promise of Summer Fun

Hello world!!! I feel like I've been stuck in a cave of work and homework for 4 entire months, and I am just now venturing out into the light of day. I probably wouldn't mind being stuck in said cave if it looked like this!!

I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I am racing toward it! My trick to getting through, especially when I really don't want to do one more paper, is to come up with a reward system.

In the past my system usually consisted of "ok Katie, if you do this paper tonight you can have chocolate." Or, "If you complete this assignment in a couple hour, you can go outside for a while." Pathetic rewards, I know. This semester, my reward system has changed slightly.
And that is all thanks to one of my best friends, Amanda, who has recently gotten me hooked on just about everything Korean. Yes, I really did just say everything Korean. Stop staring at me like I'm crazy!!!

I didn't understand her obsession with Korean pop music, or Korean dramas when we first met in London. She would show me many videos and try to get me to listen to the music, and I did try to understand. I did like some of the music, but it just didn't excite the way Bollywood did at the time. It really wasn't until our last week in London that she showed me "Superman" by Super Junior. It wasn't really their look or their dance moves that got me excited, but it was the beat and the style of the song. Honestly, thinking back on it, Amanda showed me all the wrong songs for my taste preferences. All the songs she showed me were great songs, but they were too far on the pop side of the spectrum. This song was nothing like the others.

When we got back to the States, Amanda continued to try to convert me to being a Kpop fanatic, and I still resisted. I went back to Bollywood, watching as many movies as I could get my hands on. Honestly, Bollywood rocks my socks, and always will.

The next stage in my slow corruption came when she sent me the link to a Korean drama, instructing me to only watch a certain scene. The drama was Personal Taste, starring Lee Minho. I couldn't stop watching after that one scene....and in a matter of days I had finished the 20 episode show.....and I loved it!!!! The way the acted was so different from the strong and funny characters in Bollywood movies. The girls who were older all seemed to act so innocent, and almost childish at times, while the men dress so perfectly and yet acted like jerks who would then become so romantic and sweet by the end. Culture shock! I was so not used to men dressing so nice...and I gotta admit, watching a man cross his legs was slightly disturbing.

I would say the Kpop disease then set in from there, as I could not stop at jut watching dramas. I had a few, select songs that I enjoyed walking to and from school listening to, but I really did branch out until...... BIG BANG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

More specifically, until I heard the amazing, deep, sexy voice of the rapper T.O.P!

And then the power-house voice, plus the cuteness of Daesung!

Then, by watching behind-the-scenes youtube videos, I realized just how funny and cute the youngest member, Seungri, was.

G-dragon won my heart by being so individual, and having such a unique voice. He is also the most hard-working member, and does some amazing things!

It took me a little longer to really love Taeyang, though he is Amanda's favorite, I just didn't get the awesome vibe that I got from the others. But his simple shyness, combined with an amazing voice, won me over in the end!

I have all the members of Big Bang to thank for my now-obsession with Korean music and culture. If you aren't convinced on how awesomely-odd they are, then watch this!!!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Morning Mentality

I am a fairly strong believer that you have to be a certain type of person to enjoy waking up early in the morning. I know that I am not that type. I am a night owl for sure. Which is why waking up at 6:00 AM was a not so pleasant experience this morning. Dragging myself out of bed was a miraculous feat, one that was only accomplished through bribing myself with chocolate rewards.

The drive to school revealed that many people do in fact not only wake up early, but are quite active. Joggers were everywhere, and the gym was packed (this may be more due to New Years resolutions, I suspect many of them will return to normal habits soon enough).

It is now about 9:00 in the morning, and I'm sitting near the JFSB watching a man do some sort of Tai Chi, which has now turned into full out martial arts movements (sounds and all).
I do not begrudge him his right to do said martial arts, I only wonder at the mentality of someone who not only wakes up this early, but decides to do martial arts this early. Not my mentality, that's for sure. Who would want to leap around before 11:00 AM?

My schedule may change within the next few days, so I'll know if I will have to witness the tragedy that is the morning crowd again....hopefully I will be spared.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

getting back on track

So...I have failed miserably at keeping up with blogging and putting up my London Vlogs. Not that anyone really cares...but I do! And that's what matters in the end...right?!?!

I've considered posting some of my favorite recipes that I have discovered/modified. There's not that many right now, but man have I come up with some delicious recipes that I wish I could share...or maybe I should be selfish and keep them all to myself! mwahaha!!

As evil as that sounds--and is--I suppose I should share my knowledge with the internet world. I just made a SCRUMPTIOUS--I love that word--lasagna, that was not too difficult. I've been experimenting with cinnamon a lot, and I found a meat sauce recipe that calls for cinnamon and cloves! Jackpot!! I adapted it to my own tastes(which usually means less of the stuff I don't like, and more salt!) and added in a beschamel sauce that I learned from Thaiz, who ran the London Center for BYU. (Love Alvaro and Thaiz! They are Brazilian, and just about the nicest people I know.) The Lasagna turned out amazing! The key to a great lasagna is the variety of flavors, mostly with the cheese that you use. I'll try to re-figure out this recipe and post it soon.

I'm also considering putting together my parents' videos of their trips to China--two of them, since they adopted from there twice-- and posting them on my vlog. We'll see how much of London I can get done this Christmas break first, and then I'll tackle another project.

I'll try to be better and keeping things updated, even for just one person!


Sunday, September 11, 2011

London Withdrawals

It's exactly one month since I left London. I have gone through many different aches and pains trying to readjust to my life here in the States. School is not helping my situation since it just makes me miss how school was in London! I feel so disconnected from my teachers here, whereas in London I knew them all quite intimately. Oh the rubber band wars that went on between Kara and John, and the random meetings in various states of appearance between us students and our lovely teachers. I miss the wives of our teachers, who became like extra mothers to me, but also great friends.

I miss the cultural experiences I was able to have in London. Looking back through my pics and videos it strikes me now more than ever how amazing that experience was. I did not fully appreciate how much it changed me until I came back to the people and situations I left behind and see that they have not changed at all. I wanted them to change with me I suppose, but that is not possible. Someone said I am getting a small taste of what a missionary feels when he/she returns home from their mission. The sense of not really belonging anywhere, and longing for something that can never be again.

I am trying really hard to fit back in to what my life used to be and what it must be again, but I have some growing pains to get through first. Ballroom is my only link to sanity right now. Well, ballroom and seeing my wonderful friends from London, who will always hold a very special place in my heart. The experiences we had together will always endear them to me. No matter where we all end up, I know that we will always want to know how we are all doing and what is going on in each others lives.

I would like to go back and tell some stories from my adventures in London, mostly to preserve them for my sake, but also to share the experiences that I was not able to capture on video, or put down on paper. Life was so wonderfully busy in London!

I want to go back!!! :(

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Last day in London

Wow. What a crazy last couple of days in my favorite city. The rioting has died down significantly. The added police forces in the city have been very effective in curbing any violence. I have felt very safe, even though seeing them get in their riot gear did unnerve me a little. Things are getting back to normal, and I am excited to see the city today!

We're headed to Abbey Road and Earls Court to see the Tardis!!! I am so excited to take pictures and video and just have a wonderful time in this city! Portobello Market is first, and I hope I can control my spending urges! haha.

Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers during this scary time! I love you all and will see you in a few days!!

Monday, August 8, 2011


The sound of police sirens has never filled me with this much dread. A rather beautiful day in London has been marred by the senseless violence of the youth of London.

The riots started on Saturday, and I was oblivious to it all. The situation has escalated a bit more each night, without any of us really knowing what was going on. Then today we were instructed not to go to Tottenham because there was a riot there. We all figured that it was all very peaceful, and we would of course keeping clear of that area. Amanda and I headed out for an evening of fun, we had no concerns about staying out somewhat late taking pictures and having fun. Then on the Tube ride home we met up with one of the teacher's wives. She told us that her husband called her and told her not to go to the Queensway Tube stop, which is a street or two away from the BYU centre, because some students had walked that way and saw the street closed and broken glass from the shops. The riots had come our way.

We had a tense ride to the next Tube stop, as the Tube did not even stop at Queensway. As we were walking to the exit, we saw a whiteboard that said that the riots had gotten to Portobello road and to avoid that area. This meant that the riots were still extremely close. Leah, who was the wife of our art teacher, calm gathered Amanda and I and her son in and told us what we were going to do. She said to calmly walk out of the station, not to look anyone in the eye and just go straight home without talking. I was extremely frightened. Amanda and I linked arms, our only defense I suppose. The streets were a lot quieter than they normally were at that time of night, and we couldn't see any evidence of riots on Bayswater road. However, all of the shops had closed early. Peter, our art teacher, met us near the stop and walked us back to the centre. The scariest part of our walk was when I spotted a group of about seven teenage boys, all in hoodies, sauntering down the footpath towards us. I squeezed Amanda's arm, and strode ahead, being careful not to look at any of them. A tense moment. We made it safely back to the Centre, and I went straight up to my room.

Reading all of the news reports and seeing places that I visit often, even where my dear ward meets and where they live, fills me with dread. I hear police sirens pass by our street and tense, wondering where they will go next. I am sitting in my room, praying that everything will be okay. I only have two more days here, and I just hope that I'll be able to make it home alright, without any delays or major changes.

Pray for me.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Southwestern Tour

Phew! What a week it has been. It was our last full week here in the UK and we were scheduled to head out one more time on our lovely coach to explore the south western part of England. I'll do a somewhat condensed version since it was such a long week, and hopefully when I finally get caught up on videos that will make up for my lack of dedication here.

Our first stop was the lovely cit of Bath. Legendary haunt of authors such as Jane Austen, though she never actually enjoyed staying in Bath since that's where she lived when her family lost all their money. The city is actually a lot like I imagined it, with the yellowing stones and quaint little shops all around. We visited a famous site called the Royal Crescent, which is a crescent shaped building that dates back to before Jane Austen, can't remember the actual dates. This site was featured in the BBC version of Persuasion, a favorite of mine. We visited the pump rooms where they used to "take the waters" which pretty much means they would walk around a room drinking disgusting sulfur water that supposedly healed you. Next stop was the assembly rooms. I did take a moment to dance Vienese Waltz in the Octagon room, it was just too perfect a moment!! That moment was marred, however, when I stepped on my foot and went flying to the ground. Yes Michael, I can injure myself in Vienese Waltz. I have it on embarrassing. It was funny though, especially since I had an audience at the time. Oh my clumsiness. Next up was visiting the Roman Baths. They were pretty cool, seeing that they were centuries old and used to be buried under ground. We found a wishing well and I made a few wishes on my Euros that I had left over from Ireland. We stayed at an amazing little hostel, it felt more like a great manor house nestled up in the hills behind large trees. We spent the night listening to music and chatting. It was a great night.

The next stop was Tintagel, a small coastal town near the Irish Sea. We had the option to hike six miles across the rocky terrain that nestled the coast to get to our hostels for the night. Feeling rather adventurous at the time, I decided to do the hike with my amazing friend Amanda. Oh boy, it was hard, but so worth it! I saw some of the most amazing views of my life on that hike! And having a good friend with me who didn't tire of the hike helped immensely. We found an awesome little outcropping of rocks that formed a sort of arch, so we took pictures there. By the time we got back into town, we were pretty exhausted. My next great idea was when they gave us a choice to stay in a B&B in town, or a hostel by the coast, I chose the hostel by the coast, thinking that the view was more important than the bed. I came to find out that the hostel was another mile hike along steep and muddy terrain. Oh joy. I had to drag my luggage with me this time. Others had it worse since they had large rolling suitcases that they had to drag with them. A mild oversight on one of our professor's side when he told them that a suitcase would be okay to take. I believe that it was all worth it when I saw our hostel appear out of nowhere practically hugging the coast. We had amazing views of the ocean, and even a little hillside that went down to the sea that I ended up drawing and journaling on. We cooked our own dinner, and it was so nice to be like a big happy family cooking together. We stayed up late talking about the most random things, and getting to know people that we did not necessarily know before. Being in such a large group it's easy to only know someone very loosely.

Our next stop was Salisbury, and Glastonbury abbey. We did yet another hike up a steep hill, called the Tor. It was beautiful at the top, but my legs did not thank me. The abbey that we toured was ruined, when Henry the VIII ordered all of the abbeys destroyed, but some of it had been restored. We all huddled in a little church to hear the fake monk talk about the history and artwork of the abbey before being allowed to tour the rest of it. We were all so tired that we practically fell asleep in the church. I started giving people back rubs, and I was in quite the demand by the end. Everyone was about ready to crash at that point. But we pressed on like we always do. When we got to our hostel our professors recommended seeing a cathedral that was in town, though they thought it was closed. I was determined to see it. Cathedrals have been my favorite part of England. Luckily they were wrong about it being closed. They had an odd art exhibition going on where they would combine contemporary art with the ancient art within the cathedral. I was finally able to take pictures inside the cathedral, it's usually not allowed. I loved the feeling of peace and quiet inside, I could've stayed there all day. However, hunger and rest was my next agenda.

We were up early the next day and headed straight for Stonehenge. I was not as impressed as I thought I would be, however it was still pretty amazing. Because we were an educational group we got to go right up to the stones, we just couldn't touch them. They supposedly have some sort of mystical power to them, some say that if you don't walk through the east doors to get in that you will feel off until you do it properly. I went in through the East, just in case. After that we went to the Isle of Wight. And guess what... another hike! This one was supposed to be less arduous than the six mile hike, but it still exhausted us. We were hiking Tennyson Downs, a popular place for Alfred Lord Tennyson to wander and write his poetry. There was a monument at the top of this huge cliffside dedicated to him. The cliffs were chalky so we couldn't get to close to the side, but the view was amazing. Amanda and I laid down and listened to Korean pop music as we basked in the rare bit of sun. Then we hiked down and went to the highlight of our trip.... a hotel!!!! Silly, I know, but after staying in hostels for weeks we were way excited to have only one roommate and our very own bathroom!! It was heaven! We ate in a nice restaurant, and actually had real food! I finally got to take a bath, and even watched some TV. It was amazing.

Breakfast the next morning was just as lovely, the highlight being some amazing chocolate chip muffins, and Chamomile tea! Our last stop was Osbourne House, which was the summer home of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. I read some of the history of the house when we got there, and I could definitely feel that they loved each other quite a bit, and loved staying in that house. House is a rather silly term for it though, it was more like a palace. The grounds were quite extensive, and we didn't even see half of them. We spent time out in the flowers, sketching and writing, and then we hung out for a bit in the small cafe. Leaving the Isle of Wight was a bittersweet experience. I knew that I was going back to London, which I was very excited for, but that would also mark the beginning of the end. I was feeling very homesick, especially since quite a few of the students were coming back to London where their parents were waiting to spend time with them. All I could think about was coming home.

Now it is Sunday. I said many fond farewells to my favorite people in my ward, which is everyone! I am feeling the finality of this week. We still have a lot of fun things planned, but I know that I won't really want to go when the time comes.

Only four days left in this amazing place.