Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Highs and Lows

Saturday morning I met one of our student groups at their hotel and walked them to the British Museum, where we spent a couple of hours browsing. I have probably spent a good 10 hours there now and still find things I haven't seen before, this time checking out the exhibits on Africa and Americas.

That was my only scheduled work commitment that day, since we gave the students a free afternoon to explore the city independently. I heard that Cartoon Network was doing a Powerpuff Girls pop-up in Soho, so I hurried over there to get in line.
The inside was fairly small, so there was a wait to get in, but it was only about 20 minutes when I got there. 

Inside they had a variety of activities including a cute/fierce "petting zoo" where you could hold a rabbit and/or a snake. They 

 They made cotton candy (UK English: candy floss) with light up wands that made it look rainbow colored.


They also had a nail bar and glitter make-up applications, but the wait time was going to be about 1.5-2 hours and ain't nobody got time for that. Well, not me at least.

From there I wandered around trying to find a place to eat lunch and found myself near Covent Garden. It was really crowded and sometimes if there is a wait, I don't like to take a table all to myself. As I searched online for restaurants recommendations in the area, I saw that a nearby place does freakshakes, so I opted to just grab a sandwich from Boot's before heading over to Maxwell's Bar & Grill. Although their current special is a unicorn freakshake, I think capitalizing on the hub-bub caused by the Starbucks Unicorn Frappucino, I chose the Freakshake from Mars, which was topped with fudge pieces, chocolate sauce, chopped Mars bars, and lots of whipped cream.
From there I walked to Leicester Square to visit the TKTS half-priced ticket booth, which has good theatre ticket prices for same-day shows. Ever since I arrived in London I have seen a ton of advertisements about John Boyega in a play called Woyzeck. When I ate on Carrots + Daikon one of my first days in London, they had some magazines about and I read a multi-page profile about him and the play. Most of you probably recognize John Boyega from his recent rise to fame as Finn in Star Wars: the Force Awakens, but I first saw him in 2011 in a little known (in the US, at least) film called Attack the Block - which you should definitely try to watch. Ever since reading the article, I had been debating whether to try to see Woyzeck because I thought it would be interesting to see him in such a serious role and as a stage actor.

In all my visits to London I have never gone to a play or West End musical, so I decided to treat myself since they had pretty good seats available at a reasonable price. With ticket purchased, I made myself walk the 3 miles home as penance for the milkshake and took a short nap until I had to head to the Old Vic.

This picture was taken prior to entry, full of excitement for the show.

Then I walked inside.

"Due to feeling under the weather today, John Boyega will not be performing tonight."

#@$%!!!

Crushing disappointment set in and I started to feel a little angry. The whole marketing for this play, on poster after poster after poster around Tube stations and the streets was "JOHN BOYEGA! JOHN BOYEGA! JOHN BOYEGA!"
And now instead it was his understudy and if I had known, I would have much rather have spent the money seeing a big musical production instead.
But, I had paid the money so it's not like I was going to leave. The play was good enough, but it was a tragedy and terribly depressing, so it didn't help my already disappointed state.

After the show, I headed home to try to work on some posts and about 30 minutes after being home I received a message from a colleague in Austin. "Are you following the news on London Bridge?"
Umm... no? *frantically Googles* Ooooh @#$@*. The next couple of hours were spent Facebook messenging, Whatsapping, emailing, calling, texting, switching between UK and US sim cards to facilitate calling and texting, in order to ensure all of our participants were accounted for and safe. Three hours in, we had finally heard from the last student and could all breathe a sigh of relief. I am so thankful that none of them had been in the area, but I feel sad that the incident would put a damper on the excitement of their time abroad and for how each attack discourages students and parents from considering education abroad.

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