Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Looking Through Big Smoke

Phew, well - once again, where to start?

This past week and a half has literally been an insane blur, adjusting to my work schedule as an intern, adjusting to London in general, adjusting to British culture and idiosyncrasies (and there are many) and adjusting to this crazy balance between work and "play." It almost feels as if I'm living in the real world - other than the fact that I'm not paying for bills and food is mostly accounted for. So... I guess, other than worrying about the normal people worries, I'm living the dream! I guess that this is a good segue into the real world, though. I get to get some real world experience on the production side of the film industry, get to experience what it's like to have a 9-to-5 (or, 9:30-6:00) job in a big city, get to really understand what it's like to be young and employed and out of school... and I don't really have to worry about bills (a ginormous shout out to my parents - you're the BEEEEEST! Seriously, you guys should be knighted <3 <3 <3). So, in a sense, I'm totally not "experiencing the real world," which is a little disconcerting, and almost makes me feel as if I'm half-assing everything that I do. But, to be frank, I think that if I was just... thrown into the real world right out of my second year of university, I'd probably be so overwhelmed that I'd curl up into a little ball and disappear. Just POOF! And I'd probably be totally okay with that, too. So, really, this entire internship process is a good way to start a film career, I think - or, more importantly, start life as a young adult.

Though, honestly, I didn't feel like one this past week. In fact, I was probably incredibly immature. I kind of went a little bit crazy... I didn't have work until Tuesday, and I arrived in London on Saturday... and... the drinking age is... 18... of course, I found all of the good deals and such (like this one bar down Euston Street has one night a week where the pints are only £1, and if you buy two bottles of wine at a certain liquor store, you get insane discounts - and if you can split it with a mate, that's even better) and to be completely frank, I exercised my right to drink here! BOO-YAH!

But, really... it got to the point where I was abusing it. So, for the next few weeks, I'm going to calm myself down and drink only at the end of the week, or on special circumstances (like a flatmate's birthday - shout out to my Bearded Lady, Julie!). It's more responsible to pace yourself, and it's definitely cheaper. It's just something that I'm learning, now that I'm legal to drink. Sure, you have the right, but is it responsible? Is it fiscally and economically wise? Sometimes, yeah. In my current financial predicament? Nah. Good thing I'm learning it now rather than later, right?

Also, London is incredibly expensive (or "dear") - seriously, lunch at some places can cost upwards of £10 (that's $20, folks). Also, eating healthy and eating cheap are NOT synonymous, especially in the United Kingdom (why is it so hard to find green things here?! It's all bread and meat, have these people ever heard of asparagus?!). That would be my main concern if I ever ended up living here (which is a growing possibility, as I've noted before) - money. Seriously. Some places charge £500 a week for rent - and that's for a one bedroom flat with a teeny toilet in a decent part of town. It's like New York City, only not as extreme... but still just as terrifying to think about in regards to your bank account. So, really, I'm going to spare my bank account (and my parents' wallets - again, you guys are saints and I don't deserve you) and my liver and take a chill pill.

So, long story short...
  1. Katie is going to calm her tits and start spending responsibly.
  2. Also, alcohol is awesome - but only when you can appreciate and afford it.
  3. Also... I love you, London, but seriously. I'm not spending £10 for a salad when I can get £3 falafel from a vendor in Banglatown. You be trippin'.
But other than the above-stated random and rambling rant (per usual), the obvious fiscal woes (should have seen this coming), and the fact that I'm suddenly beginning to realize that I'm living in a foreign country (still hasn't hit me yet), I'm having the time of my life in this "London" place. Like I said before, in my first post... this has always been kind of a dream come true to live here, something that's always been in the back of my mind. London just feels... "right," for lack of a better word. It's absolutely beautiful, the history practically suffocates you everywhere that you go (and I'm totally okay not having air right now), the days are fast and furious, the nights are full of adventure, and the people are unique, polite and "quintessentially British."

So, to begin the actual blog post...

Straight off the bat, I met a ton of cool people. Lizzie was probably the first person that I met here that I really go to know well (you know how it goes - you meet people and then never see them again). She's a Business student from the University of North Carolina and she's just the cutest, most awesome, most feisty Kentuckian that I've ever met. Soon after, I met Julie, my roommate! She's a native of New Hampshire, but she goes to school in New Orleans, and she's in a band called The Fake Carls (check their stuff out, and download their first E.P. for FREE from their BandCamp, they're really good!). As soon as we all got settled, we decided to go out and meet other DreamCareers peoples! And, soon enough, we had a friend group forming and were already going on epic adventures! What awesome people!

Check out some photos below of Julie, Lizzie and I's random adventure to the Tower of London! We didn't actually go inside this time around, but that's soon to come!


How myself, Julie and Alison get to work everyday. I mean, we're
pretty much just magic. Photo courtesy of Lizzie Robinson.
DreamCareers has been doing a pretty kick ass job of helping us out - I mean, seriously. I'm living at this student accommodation place called Nido's, right near King's Cross Station - literally a two stop Tube ride away from the heart of the English capital. I go to King's Cross Station every day to go to work, and if I hit up the Central Line or jump on a No. 17 double-decker bus and head South for about 10 minutes, I'm right at St. Paul's Cathedral, and can step out from the depths of the London Underground to look up at Big Ben and Parliament. And Islington (the borough of London that I'm living in) is one of the most "posh" locations in all of London - rent here is a little bit obscene. But the fact that I can live here (even with the smelly, moldy bathroom pipes) with a kick ass roommate and a ton of awesome people who are doing the exact same thing as me - working, living and breathing the London experience - is... kind of incredible. Not only that, but they set me up with an Oyster Card with unlimited access throughout Zones 1 and 2 of London - that's not bad! I can go most anywhere in the Central London area without worrying about having to fill up my card or anything!

Some of the DreamCareers people grabbing dinner after our
 first day at work, interning all around the city!
Photo courtesy of Lizzie Robinson.

They're even helping us out a little bit with food. We get £250 (around $500) on our Student Living cards to spend at the Nido café, and then we get these free meal cards for this Bistro right across the street - two free meals a week at a really quality Italian-French place! We also have these Taste Cards that give us crazy awesome discounts at restaurants around London to check out. Definitely taking advantage of that if I can! However, thought that I would have breakfast and dinner completely covered by DreamCareers, to be honest... but this is as good as it's going to get, and it's much better than having to fend for myself.

The other day, DreamCareers set us up on this awesome bus tour of the city. I've been to London twice before (once in 2011 to meet Kibbles and Bits, and then again this past winter break [2012-2013] to drop by and say hello again before heading off to Warsaw), but seeing it from a tourist perspective was still exciting. Our tour guide was the - he told us all of these interesting facts about the city that I had never thought of before! It was incredible! Not only that, but as we drove by Big Ben, Parliament, Buckingham, Fleet Street, the Russell Hotel, the British Museum, the British Library, etc... he was giving us all of these tips on things to see while in the city, too, but I'll go over that later, haha!

Check out all of these epic pictures from our epic bus tour of London from this past weekend, with the DreamCareers pals, and HFHS friends Jenny and Jordan!
Along with the bus tour, DreamCareers has set us up with a ton of incredible mini-adventures for our time here. For example, this weekend the DreamCareers peeps and us are going to go and see Stonehedge and then the city of Bath! In a few weekends, we're going to a weekend adventure in Paris, France, and then during our last few weeks here we're going to go on a beautiful wear-your-best boat cruise along the River Thames - complete with lobster dinner and Frank Sinatra! Seriously, this program is incredible, and there are so many opportunities to get involved and really experience this beautiful city and all that it has to offer!

As for the staff - they're just awesome. I can't thank Stefan enough for fixing us all up with such a great adventure, and also landing me this awesome internship. Nemo, Ryan and Cody are also extremely rad. Shout to you awesome peoples! And speaking of awesome folks...

The Peeps

Going to O'Neill's the first night in London with my
jet-lagged DreamCareers companions! :) Photo courtesy of
Scott Phelts.
As for the people that I'm meeting while on the program... to be honest, I was terrified coming here. I've always been extremely apprehensive and awkward when it comes to making friends, and I felt like a freshman in college again, trying to figure everything out. But after two days, I already have an incredible group of pals that I love hanging out with - Julie, Lizzie, Alison, Scott, Nicole, Morgan, love you guys! I've also met some other cool cats - Dan, Austin, Ira, Mitchell, Ben, Bobby, Robbie, Chelsea, Ashley, etc, who I want to spend some more time with down the road.

Having a nice pint of Guinness on my first
night in London! What fun!
Random reunion with some
Holy Family High School
alumni friends! Photo courtesy of Jenny
Even with my new found promise to not abuse my right to get hammered, I'm seriously glad that I hit O'Neill's my first night in London - I got to drink and have fun with a ton of other people who are in the same exact situation as me! It's especially interesting to get to know all of these different people because they're all from different parts of the country - San Francisco, New Hampshire, Kentucky, Michigan, Louisiana, North Carolina, Georgia, Ohio, etc... I'm the only cat from Colorado that I know of, so it's always funny to say, "I go to the University of Colorado at Boulder," and for people go give that knowing smirk and go, "Oh, yeah, I've heard of you guys" (There's a stigma attached. Truly. I had no idea). Everyone is super awesome and incredibly nice, and I'm seriously so lucky to already have met so many incredible people and made so many rad friends!

Random reunion in the Underground with Misha! What a surprise!
Photo courtesy of Misha Zimmerman.
It was also an awesome surprise to learn that I had four friends in London for a few days over this weekend! I met up with Jenny and Jordan (read their blog), who I went to high school with. I took them out for a pint, and then got them onto the bus tour, so that they could experience London with me!  It was a grand time! I also randomly met up with my friend from last year at CU-Boulder, Misha - and on the Underground, of all places. Caroline was also here, but I didn't get to see here. They're all going to have a fantastic time with their Semester at Sea, though, and it was awesome to share the city with them, even if only for a day or two!

Irresistibly Irresistible

Me on my first day of work, all ready to take on Irresistible Films!
Photo courtesy of Stefan de Rougemont.
You're all probably wondering how my internship is going as well, seeing as that's why I'm in London for two months in the first place. Well, it's awesome. It's just simply awesome... though, the first day at Irresistible Films was a bit slow, to be honest. I looked over the introduction letters ("Welcome, new intern!") and learned some of the ropes of the company. And then the second day rolled around and I didn't have anything to do... which was pretty disconcerting, as there are two other interns (both British) in the office who seemed to have more work, and I was worried that I had already done something wrong, or that I seemed incompetent on my first day (I was a bit slow - British film lingo is different than American film lingo). But then I realized that everyone was in the middle of projects / extremely stressed, and that putting an intern on the job with such high pressure filming deadlines might just make everything worse. So, I bided my time... did some social media work for the Irresistible Facebook page (Quotes of the Day)... made a lot of tea (I'm a master now) and "posh" coffee... did menial, random tasks... and then, suddenly -

Where I work! HUZZAH!
- le gasp! A producer needed me to fill out maps for a filming date! So, I did that. But, wait - le gasp again, I'm suddenly assisting in a casting call and finding locations and phoning Warner Bros. Studios about renting their space out and their ringback was the Harry Potter theme song and it was all incredible and insane - ! Literally, from practically nothing to suddenly making documents and helping with casting calls and doing location scouting. It was... insane, and a bit overwhelming, but hopefully, I'm holding up to the task and am helping out around the office as much as possible. Right now I'm doing location scouting and phoning for a Warburton's ad, which is extremely exciting, but also a bit stressful - there are thousands of £'s on the line, here! Along with doing these exciting things, though, come the typical internship tasks. Making everyone tea, grocery shopping for the office, making everyone tea, doing the dishes, making everyone tea, watering the plants, making everyone tea, running to get people lunch, making people tea... I also make everyone tea, in case I forgot to mention. But it's all good - I like the grunt work. Everyone starts somewhere, right?

My boss buys me alcohol sometimes.

My co-workers are awesome, too! The "Big Boss," Matt is simply fantastic, he's always cracking jokes, and I'm always going on "Beigal" (pronounced "bagel") runs for him. Harry is fantastic, and he's the one that interviewed me when I originally applied for the position. Luke is chill, so is David, and Georgia and Georgina and Paul and everyone down in the editing room are awesome, too. And then Katy is super sweet - she's the first one that I really got to know here at Irresistible, she does Marketing and PR and the like, and was the one who did my "intern orientation.". We always have fun conversations about films and how weird the weather is in Colorado (300 days of sunshine say wha?!) My fellow interns - Mikael and Kelvin - are also pretty awesome. It's funny being the only American here in the office, but I'm quickly catching onto the lingo here. And, surprisingly, we all do have conversations about sports, even though I like American football more, and they like their football. At least ice hockey is something that we can all talk about, haha! Who knew that it was such a growing sport here!

The office environment is incredible, as well. I was told beforehand by Stefan that the British are very 9-5, as in they won't work past the end of the day unless absolutely necessary, and while they joke around in the office and can be incredibly casual, hard work is of the necessity. And while the last two are true, I've found myself staying after hours quite a bit over the last week and a half - not too much, mind, but I don't want to be the last to leave, and these producers are some of the hardest working people that I've ever met in my entire life. They'll stay all night if they have to. I do not envy them...

Some epic street art near where I work in
London (near Banglatown). SO REBELLIOUS.
Okay, I do a little. Or a lot But, at any rate, the office is awesome... imagine a little old brick building from the Industrial Revolution, with creaky floors and epic brick walls and a high ceiling held up by wooden beams - but with Macbook Pros and epic editing software everywhere. And three different styles of Star Wars clone trooper helmets on the shelves. Oh, yes. I work in a place like that. Also, my work is situated in this awesome part of time near the Old Spitalfields Market and India. Think of it this way... you get out of the Underground at the Liverpool Station, and you walk up to a bustling, financial district with a ton of glass buildings and people in suits. Walk East towards Commercial Street, and you're going through narrow cobbled roads with little pubs here and there. And then you hit the area near Banglatown (the borough is either called White Chapel or Bethnal Green), where graffiti is art and there are vintage clothing stores and espresso cafés everywhere that you go. And then you get to my store, which is on the block right next to the beginning of Banglatown - which is kind of like Chinatown, only with a lot of Indian and Thai food and a lot of woman who wear a hijab (it's a very Islamic/Arabic neighborhood). Needless to say... it's probably one of the coolest parts of town.

Check out some photos of the two parts of town that I work and live - they're kind of rad, not going to lie. I live in Islington and work near Banglatown.

Also, they blare music a lot, which I really appreciate - from The Clash to Mumford & Sons to Queen to some hipster electronic stuff that I am not familiar with, my music collection is exploding just sitting there Shazam-ing everything. But the best bit is when they play loud soundtracks from films downstairs in the post-production suite. Recently, it's been Inception, but Avatar has been floating around a little bit, as well. But, the best bit was Star Trek: Into Darkness. When that soundtrack came on I about peed myself from excitement. And guess what one of the songs is called...?

London. Calling.

Also. Benedict Cumberbatch. British. Sherlock.

Irony? Yes. Destiny? I think so.

All of my coworkers are hardworking and incredibly talented - but what more, they're actually hilarious people. I seriously laugh every single day when they take the piss out of one another or start cursing up a storm (they give sailors a run for their money). Seriously. These people are my favorite. I couldn't have asked for a cooler job.

Harry (producer extraordinaire) mentioned something about one of the producers having me on set soon, which is extremely exciting. I loved being on set for Dear Eleanor and would love being on set for a commercial or a digital project here. My ultimate goal would be to find the set of Sherlock and somehow sneak onto that... but that's probably not going to happen. But a girl can dream, right?

At any rate, my job is awesome and I'm loving every second of it. I can't wait to get more involved and really get my hands dirty with the booming film industry here in London!

The Big Smoke

Two of my closest friends here, Lizzieand Julie (my roommate)!
Photo courtesy of Lizzie Robinson.
And now onto London - or "The Big Smoke" as they used to call it back in the day... what can I say? Every second that I get to spend here is complete and total blessing. I wake up every day to a hot cuppa tea and look down at the street, with the cars on the wrong (or right?) side of the road, and look up at the grey skies. I go outside and pull out my umbrella and go to work using the London Underground, I get to work at an incredible film company with some talented and fantastic people, and then get to take a double decker bus back to my flat... and then at the end of the week, I go to a pub and a discounted pint before going on yet another wild, random adventure with my mates through the Theater District, or Banglatown, or Islington or the City of London... and I can't be any luckier. Seriously. I could not be any more blessed than I am at this very moment to be here, doing something that I love in a city that is beginning to feel more and more like a part of myself.

Me in front of the Tower Bridge!
Photo courtesy of Lizzie Robinson.
My friends and I were talking the other day and we realized that every day we kept saying, "I mean, it can't get better than this... nothing can top today." But, day after day, we're surprised at how much more incredible this entire city - and this entire experience - is becoming. Yesterday is always "shown up" by today. And how glorious is that, right? There's no monotony, no plateau... every day is just another incredible adventure. Like that one time that I decided to go to Mass. As you all probably know, though I'm Roman Catholic, I'm probably the laziest, worst Roman Catholic ever. But, the idea of going to a service at St. Paul's Cathedral was just too tempting (even if it's the Church of England. Which was... kind of weird, because it was supposed to be Anglican-ish, but we said the Nicene Creed, which says "We believe in the holy Catholic Church..." I'm so confused about this whole Protestant-Catholic thing in the UK). And it was totally worth it, too! London just can't disappoint - at least so far.

Check out some photos from St. Paul's Cathedral in London! It was gorgeous - I plan on going to mass there and Westminster Abbey every Sunday from now on, if not just hear those angelic boys sing!
Remember that tour guide that I mentioned earlier? Well, he had a lot of cool advice for people who live in London - what to see, the absolute "necessities" of getting the "London experience" under our belts while we can. And, as he was talking, I kind of compiled a list:
  • British Museum (free).
  • British Library (free).
  • Charles Dickens Museum.
  • Russell Hotel (has a replica of the RMS Titanic's staircase inside).
  • The Ghandi Park.
  • High Commission of Australia, London (a.k.a. Gringotts Bank).
  • Windsor Castle (go to Room 10 and see a bullet in the wall where this important dude got killed).
  • Changing of Her Majesty's guard.
  • Hyde Park.
  • Regent Park.
  • Natural History Museum (free)!
  • London Zoo (also see the python from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).
  • Camden Town Market.
  • James Bond 007 Tour of London / James Bond Museum.
  • Millenium Bridge (the bridge that got destroyed in Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince).
  • Hampton Court Palace (Henry VIII from The Tudors).
  • Buckingham Palace (at the end of July, you can actually go inside and see the royal quarters!).
  • Florence Nightingale Museum.
  • New Scotland Yard (just because of Sherlock Holmes).
  • Westminster Cathedral and St. Paul's Cathedral - go to church!
    • Also, inside of Westminster Abbey and Cathedral, find the Grave of the Unknown Soldier, and also look around for graves of the famous people who are buried there, including Isaac Newton and other awesome peoples.
  • Olympic Village.
  • Something to do with Dr. Who... haven't quite figured this one out.
  • LAMDA (London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts) - take a tour!
  • King James Palace (where Harry [ginger] lives)!
  • Queen Gardens.
  • Fortune and Mason (near Oxford Circus).
  • The National Gallery (free and epic).
  • Trafalgar Square.
  • The real-life Sweeney Todd Pub, right near Temple 2 Station.
    • Also - find Fleet Street. Don't buy any meat pies.
  • Tower of London (crown jewels and stuff).
  • Hamsted Heath.
As you can probably see, I have a lot more adventures to go on before I have had the full "London experience" - as if being a resident and not a tourist isn't enough for the typical American. But, there seems to be something missing from that list... Something very important...

Check out these photos... and tell me that this is not the coolest thing that you've ever seen. Just try.
I did, in fact, find 221B Baker Street. Or, rather, it found myself, Julie and Lizzie once we stepped off of the Circle Line of the Underground at Baker Street. Immediately, right before me was a towering statue of the devil himself - Sherlock Holmes. It only took about two minutes to find the infamous flat that he and Dr. John Watson had shared in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's incredible stories - there were about forty people waiting to get in line for the museum at any rate. As Lizzie and Julie can attest, I spent a good... thirty minutes walking around the gift shop, gawking in awe at the pile of deerstalkers, grabbing the nearest pipe and magnifying glass, snatching up Sherlock's violin and trying to play a little tune, looking through Dr. John Watson's case notes from "The Hound of the Baskervilles," and "A Study in Scarlet,"... overall, just having a complete and total nerdgasm/fangasm. I did not, however, go inside of 221B Baker Street... I'll save that for another day. I feel like "finding 221B Baker Street" isn't complete until I've experienced London to the full. 

After all, something about this city drew in the imaginations of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and even J.K. Rowling, along with countless other adventurous souls. And, to quote the Londoner, Dr. Johnson: "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life. For there is in London all that life can afford."

And right now, I'm anything but tired.

So... that was my first week or so in London for you! More tales to tell and photos to come when I head to Stonehedge and Bath this Saturday! Hope you guys are enjoying the blog. Again, sorry for the rambling. It's a character flaw, but an amusing (or annoying?) one at that.

So, until the next adventure...


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