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Melissa’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 07 Sep 2005

Location: London, UK

MapWell, it’s been about two weeks since I last wrote, so I thought it was a good time update you all again! Warning: this journal is REALLY really long (Wendy, you know what I mean… =P), and it’s mainly my ramblings, insights about myself, and reflections of my experience in London so far.. If you’re more interested in seeing the places I’ve traveled to or activities I’ve done, skip my journal and just view my photos! .. =D

Thankfully, I’m slowly beginning to adjust to my hectic life here—juggling classes, studying, working, exploring London, going out, and traveling on the weekends. I have to admit, it was really hard to focus and I felt really distracted the first couple weeks here. Many of us on this program likened London to a very loooooong Vegas trip—taking on a “what happens in London stay in London” mentality, and assuming a carefree attitude where we felt as if our actions had no consequences. But, by a combination of God’s grace and protection, realizing that I can’t live my life conforming to this attitude, and the reality of classes and working setting in, I’m now trying to live in a manner which is more enjoyable in the long run—adventurous and fun, yet underpinned by moderation. =)

With that said, I do still love going out to different places and meeting new people—just not every night, which it would’ve been if you asked me a couple weeks ago. In just my short time in London, I am beginning to think London is a lot more diverse than L.A. Whereas L.A. has pockets of various ethnic groups concentrated in different parts of the city, I am noticing that London is more just a hodgepodge of different races all living together. A typical Londoner could be of Western or Eastern European, Irish, African, Indian, Middle Eastern, or Asian descent. And these Londoners are mixed with many foreigners who also live in this big city—including Australians, Americans, Canadians, French, Italians, Germans, Greek, Russian—you name it. It’s such an assortment of people and I love learning about them—not to mention hearing their accents. And, let me tell you, their accents make them that much more attractive! .. =P Hmmm, how come fob accents don't have that same effect?! .. =P haha..

But, being here in London has also made me feel very out of touch and detached with what is happening in the rest of the world, in particular, my own country. It’s partly a product of being consumed so much with my own life and partly a result of having no TV or Internet access at my immediate disposal. With such big news as the passing away of Chief Justice Rehnquist and the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina, I’m vowing to stay more on top of current events regardless of my unimportant social life or lack of regular TV or Internet access. This past Monday was my first day on the job and since they didn’t give me any real assignment to do, I spent the better part of the morning catching up on the devastation and tragedy of the hurricane in New Orleans. Although I would hear tidbits about it here and there this past week, it really didn’t hit home that hard. Then, my heart dropped in reading about and seeing the severity of the situation while surfing the net at work.

So, yes, Monday was my first day at work and all I did was surf the net and update my travel journal.. =P The partner under whom I am working is out of the office attending Rehnquist’s funeral, so you’ll just have to wait until my next update for the real deal about this job. For now, I am just thankful that I have the opportunity to intern at this huge law firm twice a week. The firm is called Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr and is one of the top U.S. law firms with locations worldwide. In particular, because of my interest in alternative dispute resolution, I am working in their international commercial arbitration department. Although I haven’t done any real work for them yet, I think I am going to love working here because the firm is located in the heart of central London at Picadilly Circus. It’s very close to lots of eating and shopping along Regent St. and Oxford St.—my kind of work location.. =) In addition, I sit just five steps away from the coffee, tea, soda, juice, water, fruit, biscuits (yummy yummy cookies—including Digestives for those of you who know London cookies!!), stocked for our pleasure in the kitchen! So far, the atmosphere at the firm seems relaxed but hardworking, and everyone seems friendly.

In my efforts to not allow London to become merely a long Vegas trip with all discipline lost and priorities out of wack, I’ve attended church these past two Sundays at Holy Trinity Brompton, a church located in South Kensington very close to my school. I love it! Meeting with God with others in this way has been so refreshing, and I plan to continue going during the weekends when I am in London. The church itself is huge with 5 or 6 services. Being an Anglican, Church of England church it has a formal service in the mornings (people have told me Church of England is similar to an Episcopal church), but the majority of its services are more informal and contemporary. The messages are applicable and the worship is great (sidenote: Tim Hughes and his wife are supposedly on the staff of their music ministry)..

Anyways, this update has become quite long—and I still haven’t told you about my trip to the city of Bath and Stonehenge or the Notting Hill Carnival that took place along the street I live. For more on these events, see the pictures I posted. =)

And, finally, with a class schedule very accommodating to weekend travel, I’m taking my first trip outside the UK to Morocco this weekend! I am super excited but a little scared at the same time of not knowing what to expect, since this isn’t a typical vacation spot. But, it’s a place that I definitely want to see, and figure right now is an opportune time. I will be traveling with four others and hope to come back with many exciting stories. Please keep us in your prayers for our safety in traveling there and while on our trip!

Props to you if you’ve gotten this far in my little travel update! Haha.. Yes, yes, I know I can be very long-winded at times.. =P Well, hope this lets you in on a little of what I’ve been up to--- PLEASE, email me and let me know how you are doing as well.. I would love to hear from you and will try to respond to you personally.. I miss you all very much!!