Sunday, January 22, 2012

Pictures Galore

This post is all about pictures!  These posts are particularly labor-intensive for me, which is why this has taken a little longer than I would have liked to put together.  Anywho, get ready for a visual tour of what I've been up to!

First up, I have a bunch of pictures to show you of campus.  The architecture is fairly modern and eclectic.  The main administrative building is the beautiful Queens Building.

The G.E. Fogg building has some really cool architecture.  I don't have any classes there though so I'm not really sure which department its in.

There is also a Church/Chapel on campus.  The exterior isn't really anything spectacular but the chaplain who runs it is hilarious and very friendly.  She offers an assortment of indie films on Monday nights and tea and scones on Friday afternoons.

Note: the sign above the door says "not another Church"

Here's a pretty typical specimen of an academic building.

One of the interesting buildings is the graduate student center.  It has an interesting modern addition to a very traditional style building.

Interestingly, in the middle of campus is an old Jewish Cemetery.  Apparently, this cemetery is a remnant from when Mile End was the outskirts of London and was inhabited by Jews.  It does not appear as if the cemetery is being actively maintained and new construction on the site cannot begin until the cemetery has naturally decayed.

The eastern border of campus is the Regent's Canal which flows south to the Thames.  It's actually quite well kept up and on the other side is a very large park.  During the day, people walk their dogs along the canal or go for a run and it gives campus a bit of a sense of being connected with nature.

A boat in the canal.

The park as seen from campus.

The eastern edge of campus is also where most of the student accommodation is located with the "student village" being at the northern tip.  The housing here is quite comfortable (albeit small) and the exteriors are quite nice.

A walk through student village.

A housing option.

Another housing option.

And another.

And finally, my dorm, Pooley House.

The view from my window (looking north across the train tracks, not towards campus).

So, that's a bit of a visual tour of my day-to-day living environment.

This past weekend (I know...I can't believe I haven't posted in that long) a group of us study abroad students decided to get out of the city and visit Windsor Castle.  There was some confusion over the train ride to get there which resulted in our trip taking longer than planned, but the city of Windsor was very quaint and had a large touristy area with great shopping.  The highlight, of course, was the castle itself.

Unfortunately, we didn't realize that the castle closed at 3pm and leaving campus at noon put us in Windsor at 3:15.  So, e didn't get to go explore the inside of the castle, but even just seeing the outside it was impressive!  I've always realized that castles are big but Windsor is REALLY big.  Of course, I haven't been to many other castles to judge the size, but I was really impressed by the magnitude of the thing even having high expectations from extensively reading fantasy novels.  It's hard to imagine the magnitude of labor that went into putting all of those stones into place and building the surrounding walls.  Even though we didn't get to go inside, we still got a group shot then proceeded to explore the city.

We explored the nearby church which turns out to date back to the 1200s!!  The actual building that stands there today was built sometime in the 1800s, but there has been a church on that location for much longer.

Their special artifact is this painting of the final supper which dates back to before 1600.

I couldn't believe they had a list of all the vicars dating back to 1217!

Once we had satisfied our curiosity in the church and shopped around for a while, we stopped in a pub for an early dinner before heading back to London.  Check out the castle in the background!

Overall, not getting to go into the castle was disappointing, but the city of Windsor turned out to be very quaint and enjoyable.  It was our first time navigating the National Rail service and our future trips will definitely run more smoothly based on what we learned.

This week, I had my first full week of classes and since I finalized my schedule over the weekend, I actually attended them!  My finalized classes are:

DEN 233: Low Speed Aerodynamics
PHY 250: Physics of Energy and the Environment
HST 5316: Politics in the Age of Pitts (1735-1806)
DEN 4108: Dynamics

The history class definitely wasn't my first choice, but in the end it was the one that worked best with my schedule and it actually seems really interesting.  I've started doing some of the reading and it's a time period of British history that I definitely didn't know much about.  I'm also really excited to get the British perspective on what happened during the American Revolution, or as they like to call it, "The War for American Independence."

The British philosophy on teaching classes is definitely significantly different than the American philosophy.  While in America, college is more independent than high school, there is definitely significant coursework expected to be turned in throughout the semester to guide independent studying.  Here in England, coursework is almost non-existent.  In America, it would not be uncommon for a history class to have a midterm and four papers (possibly more) assigned during the semester.  Here in England, most classes have one paper and/or a presentation while some classes only have an exam.  Furthermore, in America readings are usually assigned on a weekly basis or lecture topics are listed with expected completed readings.  My history professor here gave us a four page long list of "recommended reading," which is apparently not uncommon in the British system.  Thankfully, he did put asterisks by about 8 books as a potential starting point.  It seems that not all the books are required knowledge but rather the list can be used as a guide for when we begin researching our individual projects.  I will be involved in a debate on the merits of Lord Nelson as a military leader.  This means that I have a partner and will be debating against another pair.  I've already begun scouring the list for books on Lord Nelson and have discovered that the library contains a fairly extensive section on British political history.

In engineering, there is definitely more coursework assigned than in the humanities (of course) but not near as much as I'm used to in the U.S.  For instance, most engineering classes at USC will have two midterms, weekly problem sets, occasional quizzes or a project, and a final.  My Low Speed Aerodynamics course here only assigns three problems and two lab reports with one final.  My dynamics class only assigns four problem sets and one lab report.  My physics class does assign weekly problem sets, although they only have five questions and thus far have been directly from the lectures (making them easy as long as you go to class, which I have).  I can see why it would be tempting to slack off here because there really isn't a sense that you need to do work immediately.  However, the exam period comes after a month of vacation in April and doing a little bit of work every day now will make revising (British for studying) significantly easier in May when exams roll around.

Since, as you can see, I don't have classes on Wednesdays, I decided to get out into the city and visit a couple museums (after sleeping in...really, really late).  I had heard that the science museum was cool so I decided to check it out.  I pulled out my London A-Z (the map book that all the real Londoners use), looked up the museum, found the nearest tube stop, and planned my route.  The tube station nearest to campus is on the Central, Hammersmith and City, and District lines, so it's almost always possible to get where you want to go with one transfer or less.  It turns out that the Science Museum is on the District line so I hopped on the tube for a long ride over to the west side of London.  When I got there, I expected to have to walk about a block to get to the museum, but there were signs throughout the station saying "Museums" and listing all the museums in the area.  There is a tunnel that goes directly from the station right into about 6-7 different museums in the area!  It's amazing!  London is so accessible!  It only cost me £1.30 to get there and then entrance into the museums is free.  I absolutely love how the public transit here is so clean, safe and completely practical for getting you to where you want to go.  It's totally different from what I'm used to in L.A. where there are 50 different agencies, each with their own prices so to get from one side of the city to the other you end up transferring 5 times and paying 5 different fares.  There are maps and signs everywhere to assist you and point out places of interest.  But anyway, I digress.  The point is, I went to the Science Museum and really enjoyed it!  They had an amazing Apollo exhibit while I was there.

And a cool replica of the Lunar Lander.

I also got a ticket to see the "4-D" Lunar Landing movie.  The film showed footage from the Apollo missions while shaking your seat and wearing 3D glasses.  There was also an art exhibit called electroboutique on display.  The art was mainly an innovative critique on how we consume electronics celebrating the "cool" while criticizing the consumer society.  There was one piece in particular that I thought was really neat.  At first, it just looked like blobs on the wall, but the blurb next to it said to "view through a camera to reveal a secret message."  Below is the picture I took which shows the words scrolling through the worm-like blob.  Pretty neat!  I imagine this must have something to do with the fact that cameras shoot only polarized light while human eyes view the natural, unpolarized light (something I learned about in my electricity and magnetism class last semester).  

After exploring the Science Museum for a while, I walked out and decided to check out the Victoria and Albert museum.  It wasn't originally my plan but it was right there and I had heard good things about it.  The museum definitely exceeded my expectations as the building itself is gorgeous and the collection far more extensive than I had imagined.  Even though I spent well over an hour there I only explored about a tenth of what the museum had to offer.  The exterior of the museum humbly displays bullet holes as a memorial to the damage to the museum incurred during World War II.

Inside, in addition to the great collection, you can see museum employees at work doing restorations and prepping pieces for display.

One of the more eye catching pieces I saw was this diamond belt worn by the Queen!

Now those are some big diamonds!

Anywho, most of the rest of the time this week I spent trying to do paperwork to get properly enrolled in all my classes (ugh), trying to get back into school-mode or hanging out with friends.  I've also been spending a lot of time trying to plan some weekend trips!  I already arranged my trip to Sweden for the second weekend in February but the rest of my schedule is quickly filling up!  I've been trying to get in contact with some of my friends that I know are studying abroad in other parts of Europe to see if I can crash with them otherwise just scouring the internets for various deals and cool locations.  We have quite a lot of time off as we have reading week in February and the whole month of April off so there is plenty of time to travel!  In addition, I might be able to travel a bit during the 6-week exam period since I only have 4 exams.  I'm also actively trying to convince my parents to come visit me!  If anyone does find themselves in London, I would be happy to give tips/pointers and mention a few cool places.

Anywho, I'm starting to think the two-week sickness is catching up with me.  I've noticed that every semester about two weeks in my immune system decides that all the new people and germs are too much.  So, I typically spend a couple days drinking tea and blowing my nose constantly before I feel fine again.  I think I might actually be allergic to one of the pollens here because I've been sneezing like crazy yesterday and today.  Thankfully, they do sell over-the-counter anti-histamines here so I figure I'll be fine in a couple days.

Well, that's all for this post.  I do have pictures from this weekend so once I sort through them I'll do another post!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Monday, January 16, 2012


Hey Everyone!

Another super short post - I just booked my first weekend trip!  Ethan, Kelsey and I are going to Malmo, Sweden for a weekend!  As you can see on the calendar, we're going Friday Feb 10 - Sunday Feb 12.  It's going to be great!  We're planning on spending Saturday in Copenhagen, Denmark, since it's only a 40 minute train ride.  Anywho, I'm super excited I've booked my first trip!  It's super nerve-raking the first time so I think it'll be easier/smoother in the future which will be nice.

Anyway, I know I owe you all a long post with plenty of pictures and whatnot, but organizing all my photos and deciding which ones to upload takes a *really* long time.  So, hopefully I'll get to it before this weekend, probably sometime Thursday.  I'm loving life here!


Calendar Updates

Hello Everyone!

Quick post to let you know that the calendar has been updated with a lot of upcoming events!  Also - FOLLOW MY BLOG!  Please!  I know you all have google accounts...look left and scroll down until you see "followers" then click "Join this Blog."  DO IT!  If you don't believe me...believe Arnold Schwarzenegger!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Settling In

Hello All!

I'm starting to feel like I'm finally settling in!  The first few days were a whirlwind of orienting myself in London, meeting tons of people, and buying some of the necessary items to feel at home (like a duvet cover - which, speaking of I forgot to post a picture.  Fixing that now!)

My nice new green duvet cover and bed runner!  There's a pillow case too peaking out behind Agnesi's giant head.  The duvet is SO WARM!  Seriously, I went from being cold at night to waking up in the middle of the night sweating.  I think I'm going to have to take off the Donny blanket!

Today I went on a bunch of errands and I'm actually starting to feel like a UK student.  Most importantly, I bought a phone!  Unfortunately, my iPhone doesn't work here and I need a UK number for the people I meet here to be able to contact me.  I also need a UK phone so I can contact USC's resident director (he plans the USC weekend and day trips) in case of an emergency.  Basically, having a UK phone is just an overall good thing to have.  I bought a Samsung Chat 335 phone with a T-Mobile sim card.  I went with T-mobile mostly because they are connected with Orange's network so I am pretty sure I'm going to get service in other countries throughout Europe which is important if I'm going to be travelling and taking weekend trips.  The plan I'm on is £10 per month which gives you £10 credit towards calling with unlimited texting.  They also have a £20 unlimited internet for 6 months option, but I figured I'd do the trial £2.50 for 5 days first to see how much I use the internet and if I really need it (since my phone has wifi).

Secondly, I signed up for the grocery store rewards program!  The store is called Sainsbury's and it's pretty similar to Walmart in that they carry all different sorts of items although not quite as large.  It's exciting because you can get points at lots of different stores (including iTunes and Gap) and redeem them online for things like EasyJet!  This will also motivate me not to take the easy way out and go to the more expensive grocery store that is cheaper so that I can still get my rewards points!

And thirdly, I have an oyster card which lets you tap in and tap out of the London underground and the buses for a slightly cheaper fare than buying individual tickets.  I'm still working on getting the 16-25 card which gives you an additional discount, but I'm starting to feel like a real Londoner!  The underground is so easy to use that I already feel comfortable planning trips and making my way around the city.  It's totally different from Los Angeles where anytime I try to plan a trip using public transit I realize that it's way too confusing and I end up begging a friend for a ride.  London is such an accessible city using the public transit although I would never want to drive here (the roads are crazy, literally crazy).  There's no such thing as a straight road in London and they definitely are clueless about grids.  But, it's still pretty easy to navigate if you have a good map and know where you want to go.

In other news, we had our USC orientation dinner last night but the show we were supposed to go see the show "The 39 Steps" after.  We went to a Asian noodle place for dinner and everything was covered by USC so everyone ordered way more food and drinks than they normally would, but it was really fun!  After dinner, we rushed out of the restaurant because we thought we were late to the show, but it ended up being canceled because of a water main leak!  So, instead of going to the show, we went and hung out in a pub for a while before all heading back.  Apparently, the tickets are supposed to be refunded so we're going to go see a different show some other as yet undetermined night.  Doesn't really matter when, it should be fun!

The night before last, we had the Thames boat tour organized by Queen Mary.  It turned out that it was actually a party boat and not really a sight-seeing tour like I had expected, but it was still pretty fun.  Anyway, I have a bunch of random pictures to upload with captions and such but I need to go through my camera and sort out all the pictures which is going to take a while - so maybe tomorrow.  Anywho, that's all for now!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Central London Walking Tour

Hello All!

Today a few friends and I decided to take the "tube" as it's called into central London to walk around and see a bunch of the famous "tourist" sites.  It turned out to be really easy to get there and we got to see a lot more than I had expected.  When I had first arrived, I was very surprised  by how modern all the architecture was.  I had expected London to be more like Paris where almost all the architecture is true to the 1700-1800s style.  There is truly a huge range of architectural styles in London; however, especially on campus.  I haven't yet taken pictures of campus yet, but one of these days I will.  When I went into central London, however, I got to see a lot more of what I had expected - there were old-style buildings abound!

We took the tube to the embankment station where we could immediately see the London Eye and Big Ben.


As we were walking along the River Thames, we were walking along what's called the "Victoria Embankment" which is basically just all the stuff that has been built up over what used to be the marshy bank of the Thames.  We found this little gate which one person noted, "this was built before America was a country!"

Also along the embankment we saw "Cleopatra's Needle," a giant obelisk brought over from Egypt.  It was really cool but apparently the harsher British climate has really worn down all the hieroglyphs.

It was decorated by a two cool sphinxes.

Since there are a bunch of USC people, we had to do a "Fight On!" picture.

We walked along the Thames until we passed by Big Ben (and an anti-war protest going on outside Parliament).


And, just around the corner, we saw Westminister Abbey!  The English major in our group was literally going crazy about all the history and literature associated with Wesminister Abbey and we really wanted to go in but it was £13 to get in and we didn't think it was worth it.  We went into one of the chapels outside of it though and it was pretty cool.

Also along the Thames, we encountered a lot of quintessentially British things.  For instance, there is no "trash" in England, there is only...

And of course we saw some of the famous double-decker buses.

Also along the street along the Thames, we saw a couple WW2 memorials.  Neither was particularly large but it was a nice reminder of the horrible consequences of such wars.

Next up, after quite a long walk, we finally made it to Buckingham Palace!  I really wanted to go on a palace tour, but I don't really think those are open to the public normally.  Also - the guards weren't wearing the traditional red uniforms.  Apparently they were all in their grey winter uniforms.  I didn't realize, however, that the style of the uniform was different depending on where you are from.

The palace itself was quite nice and all the shops around were Royal Wedding crazy.  There's all kinds of Royal Wedding memorabilia available.  What I couldn't believe is that the ENTIRE street out in front of Buckingham Palace was completely full.

What's deceptive about this image, however, is that there is a huge raised fountain surrounded by a round-about separating this area from the actually palace gates.  People would not only be unable to see because of distance, but also because there was a giant fountain in front of them.  Anyway, the palace looked lovely and the gates were very ornate.  There were also parks and gardens off to the sides of the palace which were quite nice.


We finished off our day by visiting the world-famous department store, Harrods, which shouldn't have been that long of a walk but we went to far and had to double back.  We ended up asking people on the street for directions three times before we finally found it.  We got to see some really nice shops and quaint houses along the way, though, so it was actually quite nice.

Harrods can't really be described as a department store because first of all, there's only one, and second of all, it is alone the size of a mall.  It has four levels and basically everything you could think of.  Everything from clothes to touristy items to a grocery store.  Furthermore, all the departments are separated into rooms so the layout makes you feel more like you're walking through a house as opposed to the open floor plans of most American department stores.  On the bottom floor, there was a large wine cellar.  I have yet to find a British wine anywhere (apparently the climate is terrible for growing grapes, so I suppose that's understandable) but I ended up consulting with the wine advisor and picking out a nice French red burgundy.  I have yet to taste it (because I want to pair it with some really good cheese and crackers) but I'm just so excited to start keeping track of all the wines I taste in the awesome wine journal my mom gave me for Christmas!

After Harrods, we finally called it quits and I headed back to my room to relax for a little while before going out again to a different pub.  So far it seems like going to the pub is really an almost daily experience, even for the local British students.  At the pub we met up with a couple fellow study abroad students and their British flatmates.  After the pub closed we went back to their flat to hang out in their kitchen and get some insider tips from the British students.  We also learned that there is a thing called "reading week," a week in February where there are no classes so students can catch up on their work.  All of us American students were like - "do you ever go to class?"  Not only do they have the entire month of April off, they also have a week in February off?  For real?  Sounds like there is so much time available to travel!  I can't wait to get started seeing the rest of Europe!

Anywho, today I slept in pretty late (not surprising considering how I've been up past three every night since I've gotten here...including tonight) and went grocery shopping with one of my flatmates.  I was really glad he went with me because the entrance is kind of hidden from view by the car entrance and I'm not sure I would have been able to find it very easily.  I have a bunch of stuff I need to get (namely food and toiletries) but I finally got a duvet and cover!  My first few nights have been pretty cold with just a blanket but my new duvet is quite warm.  I also got a fairly cute green cover that came with a pillow case and bed runner so my bed looks a lot more spiffy now.  I also found out that one of the previous tenants left a bunch of plates and cups and such so I don't feel quite so lost as far as cooking goes anymore.  Also, my flatmates are all super nice and offered to let me borrow a bunch of their stuff.

Tonight, we had our first "flat dinner."  One of my flatmates who loves to cook made a delicious Vietnamese soup.  Afterwards, we spontaneously decided to make a chocolate cake completely from scratch making our own whipped cream from actual cream and a delicious cocoa and golden syrup topping with a layer of nutella.  It was really really delicious.

Even though we started dinner at 7, we ended up not leaving the kitchen till after 1am because we were chatting and hanging out.  There's only one other study abroad student in our flat and he happens to be from USC (although I didn't know him before) so we spent a lot of time telling our flatmates about what it's like to go to school at USC.  They all seem fascinated by the greek system since they don't have anything like that in the UK.  Mostly they can't believe that the stuff they've seen in movies about it actually happens.  Well anyway, it's getting late so I'm going to wrap this post up but I've been having a really great time here in London!  I enroll tomorrow and hopefully I can sort out my timetable (ugh, all my classes clash!).  I have two weeks before I have to finalize my schedule and I want to go to a bunch of different lectures so I can see what I'm interested in before I make a final decision.  Anywho, I've really been enjoying it so far and it's only just beginning!  I can't wait to really get in the swing of things!

More to come soon :)


Friday, January 6, 2012

First Day

Hello All!

I finally feel a bit more settled in now that all my stuff is unpacked and generally in place.  So far everything has been going great!  I can't wait to get out and explore more.

Anyway, going back to the beginning, the flight over to London wasn't that bad.  I ended up bring WAY too much luggage, but oh well.  It was a struggle to get it all into the Prius, but it fit!

I was supposed to leave St. Louis around 5pm, although we ended up being delayed about an hour due to mechanical problems.  Thankfully, I had a pretty long lay-over in Atlanta before my flight to London so I didn't have any problems making my connection.  The flight only took about 8.5 hours so not too bad.  After arriving it took a little while to get through customs then I had to wait a few hours to get on the shuttle, but eventually I made it onto campus.  The staff were all ready to help us check in and were very friendly (as opposed to the stiff upper lip Brit stereotype).  The rooms are fairly nice and very private.  Everyone has their own room and bathroom with a shared kitchen at the end of the hall.  I was expecting my room to be small, but honestly, not THIS small.  The room itself is probably about your average dorm size but the bathroom is really really tiny.  I got used to living in my spacious L.A. size two person apartment with two sinks and a kitchen and living room.

Here's the room:

After a little bit of work, it's starting to look a bit like home:

Across from the bed is a desk that runs the length of the wall from the bathroom to the door.  The desk is actually pretty decently sized and since it's so long there's plenty of desk space.  Clearly they expect us to do a lot of studying!  Check it out:

But, oh, the bathroom.  Don't get me wrong, I'm super thankful I have a private one.  (Although splitting two sinks with Preksha was really never difficult...)  But, alas, it's difficult to shower when the only thing separating the "shower" from the toilet is a flimsy curtain on a track so small it's clinging to your body.  Take a look for yourself.

Notice how the floor is just a floor - no separation between "shower" and "not shower" flooring.  The curtain rides along a rail in the ceiling to protect clothes or towels from the water.  Nothing, however, protects them from the condensation which flows all along the tile walls.

It's truly smaller than the closet I had in my good 'ole L.A. apartment, but alas, it's private, and that is certainly very convenient.  I was also thankful I brought sheets with me since I got in after dark.  While I did bring a thermal blanket, I didn't bring a comforter because it would have taken up too much space.  So, that meant the only real blanket I had was the fleece blanket I brought with me on the plane.

This blanket happened to be mom's Christmas present from me a few years back.  She asked me for "a Donny Osmond Blanket."  Well, I searched the website, found this fleece one, and gave it to her.  Turns out she wanted some limited edition collector's blanket that was significantly more stylish than this little fleece one.  Well, Donny was the perfect size to fold up easily and put in my carry-on, so along to London he went.  Now, every time I see the blanket it reminds me of home.  The pillowcase is of course my adorable dog Agnesi and I didn't leave behind my stuffed animal Wispy either!  Anywho, by Thursday night, I was all settled in and definitely ready to go to bed.

Today, I spent most of the day in orientation; basically just sitting in a lecture hall listening to a bunch of information.  Once all the sessions finished, we began module (British for class) registration.  This would normally be done online, but us study abroad students do everything by paper.  This actually allows us to take classes in multiple departments which UK students can't do.  In the UK, "reading for your degree" is a three year process in which you intensively study your subject and your subject only.  Thus, the online registration system gives access to one department only.  Since we're special, we had class registration in a large conference room where representatives from each department set up booths and we "queued" in order to speak with them about which classes we wanted to take, prerequisites, and timetables to try to figure everything out.  It was a very time consuming process, especially to an American not accustomed to queuing.  In the end, I've found 7 classes that I'm interested in.  I've been signed off for 5 of them, and in the end I'm only going to take 4, and I know for a fact that some of them clash with each other, so Monday after enrollment I'll be sitting down with my timetable and trying to hammer it out, then travelling campus to visit each department to get the necessary signatures.

Here's the options:

1) Physics of Energy and the Environment
2) Aerospace Design
3) Low Speed Aerodynamics
4) Engineering Mechanics: Dynamics
5) Digital Circuit Design
6) The Road From 1945: Britain since the Second World War
7) Society and the State in Britain, 1450-1720

So, we'll see.  I've got this weekend to figure out potential schedules then two weeks before I have to finalize everything.

Already, I've experienced how pubs are central to the British social fabric.  Pubs here are more than just places to drink.  Last night, when I didn't have my internet password, a few friends and I went and hung out at a pub because they had free wifi and it was the only way we could contact home.  Tonight, a bunch of the same people and I went exploring a couple of the other pubs just to hang out for a little bit and get to know each other better.  We got a picture of all of us.

Anywho, I've had a really great time so far and I really can't wait to get to know more people.  Already, we're planning to go explore central London a bit tomorrow (as you can see in the Travel calendar to the right).  It's surprisingly difficult to plan events without cell phones though.  Mostly because we've become the generation that plans 10 minutes in advance.  We actually had to set up a meeting time before we all went back to our dorms otherwise we'd have no way of getting in touch in the morning.  The problem is that if someone is running late you don't have a way of contacting them.  I hope to get a phone either tomorrow or the day after at the shopping mall one tube stop away.  And, it's not just ANY shopping mall, it's Europe's largest urban shopping center built as part of the Olympic Park construction!  I can't wait to check it out!   Well, that's all for now.  I need to get some sleep before my day of exploring tomorrow!