I wrote the following post from London, but I couldn’t get internet so I am now posting it here from Beijing! The flight wasn’t so bad and I made some new Chinese friends. Also interesting, there were several Chinese Olympic swimmers on the plane with me who apparently won medals, which was very cool! Anyway, here’s my post on England!

I would like to credit my mom for giving me the time to write this blog post. Without her, I would not have been instilled with paranoia about airports and arriving on time. And without that paranoia, I would not be sitting in London Heathrow Airport 6 ½ hours before my flight leaves. Air China isn’t even open yet! But no worries, it will give me a chance to write (hopefully) a good blog post!

Ok, so this past week was spent with my friend Peter, who, like Melissa, I met at camp last summer. This trip was much less touristy than my month with Melissa, but I definitely still feel like I got a solid British experience.  The first couple of days were spent at his parents’ house in Brighton, which is in the south of England.  Last summer at camp, our friendship was based on our love of competition (that’s a nice way of saying that everything we did we really just wanted to be better than the other). So, naturally he wanted to play British sports that I had never played before so that he could beat me – I guess he has to win at something every once in a while! Anyway, we played croquet and a version of cricket, which were really fun. While in Brighton, we also watched a lot of the Olympics.  It’s incredible being in the host country during the Olympics.  Everyone is really paying attention – everywhere you go you hear people talking about how Team GB did that day. It was also interesting for me to listen to the British commentators. You don’t really notice that commentators have a bias towards their home country until you listen to commentators from another country! For example, they would interview a British runner who finished 5th before an American runner who got the gold (a result I am proud to say is happening frequently!).  Near Brighton was also the Leeds Castle, which we visited one day. The castle was amazing, but the grounds were even more striking. They were incredibly expansive, and included a maze (which took us way too long to figure out).

After those two days, we drove up to Bristol where Peter lives during the school year.  On the way (after what turned out to be a good wrong turn!), we stopped at Windsor Castle, where the queen lives at certain times during the year.  We weren’t able to go in because it looked like they were expecting someone important to show up, but it was still cool to see. All through this time, I must say, I had been eating really good food, most of which (I say “most” because we had Burger King a couple times) was British.  To be honest, I can’t really remember the names of some of the dishes, but the simplest (and probably my favorite) was the fish and chips.  One of the advantages of traveling with Peter is that he is from England, making it easy for me to see how the culture actually is. I could see it through just hanging out with him and talking, through listening to conversations he and his friends were having, and through going out and meeting all sorts of people. I really enjoyed getting to see and culture from more of an inside perspective.

The last (and probably the most memorable) thing that we did was we (Melissa was back with us at this point) went to the women’s gold medal Olympic soccer game, which was made even more incredible by the American victory.  The game was in London, and you’re probably expecting me to talk about all the great things I saw there also. Well, I have some bad news – we didn’t quite get to that!  We had planned on walking around London during the day before the game, but we took a wrong turn on the train that added four hours to our travel time! Not our plan, but still a fun day just hanging out. I guess I’ll just have to go back! Anyway, the game was the most widely attended women’s soccer game in Olympic history (80,000 people), which made for a great atmosphere. Also, we had really good seats – only 40 rows up right behind the goal. I personally have never felt so patriotic in my life. There were American flags everywhere (and I had two myself!).  It’s amazing the feeling of pride that the Olympics can give to you – people from all different places cheering on their own team in a (usually) friendly competition. I’d never really felt the power of the Olympics before that experience.

So to wrap up this week, I had an amazing time. It was great to see Peter again, and hopefully next time I visit he’ll have figured out the British train system so we can go back to London! But in all seriousness, it was a wonderful experience that I won’t forget, and I’m really appreciative for his hospitality. Next stop for me, Tibet! I leave tonight at 8:25 London time and arrive in Beijing at 1:30 in the afternoon tomorrow their time.  After a two-day orientation, we’re off! Sadly (for those of you nice and interested enough to read the blog) I will not have a computer with me in Tibet, so this will be my last post for the next two weeks. But next time I post, I assume I’ll have some pretty cool things to say!