Thursday, August 15, 2013

The End

There's not really a lot to say in regards to this final blog post, because beating around the bush at this point is useless.

The subtitle to this blog is, as you can see, "... or how I found 221B Baker Street." I expected this to be an incredible ordeal - wandering around London in search of the infamous flat of one Sherlock Holmes and a Dr. John Watson. However, what was so hilarious is that I found the literal 221B Baker Street on my first weekend here, and then the "other" one not but two weeks after that. What's even more hilarious, though, is the fact that those two locations are completely superfluous to what I really found. In every medium - from the original short stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, to the early films, to the Hollywood reboot, to the BBC-One series - there is one overarching theme, and that is London. Sherlock Holmes would not have been able to remain sane without this city, and Dr. John Watson couldn't imagine himself going anywhere else after he returned from the war... Just try and imagine it - Sherlock and John without London... impossible, right? London was the deciding factor in their story. It was the catalyst of their friendship, the parchment upon which their journey was catalogued from painstaking case to painstaking case... from the beginning to the bitter end and Sherlock's "Final Bow."

London is the book, and they were the story. And, like so many others before me, I leave a chapter of my life in this awesome city.

So, sure, I found 221B Baker Street - but I found much more than that here. I found London, and by finding London, I found myself... in a way. I still don't understand completely who I am, or why I'm here, or what I'm meant to do with my life but coming here has at least helped me go in the right direction, helped me figure out what I ultimately want and love in life.

I couldn't have found these things out without this once-in-a-lifetime experience in this incredible city, and for that I am eternally grateful. No words can describe these emotions that I'm feeling in my heart, and the love that I feel for this city and all that is has offered me - all that I have taken away from it. I will cherish every lesson learned, every adventure taken, every mistake made and every reward given. I guess that, really, all that matters is that... I know what I have gained from London. Verbalisation is unnecessary, as long as I keep it close to my heart. <3

I usually end every post with a song that has been on my mind that current week, and they've varied from Scottish punk-funk-rock-whateverthisis to wizardrock to pop to oldies tunes, to French songs and the like. But no song can appropriately commemorate the end of this journey. It was an incredible chapter, an awesome reboot - a really good book. And there are definitely going to be some sequels. Whether or not they're successful on the shelves or in theatres is really just irrelevant. Because life without the shit can't make the garden... this isn't the end, even if it feels like it.

So, with that, I leave you with one of the most important lessons that I've learned in my life - a lesson that I've only come to appreciate while here, as I revisited my childhood and looked towards the future. 

And that is that the things that we love the most never truly leave us.

"The stories we love best do live in us forever, so whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." - J.K. Rowling

... not really.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

London Called...

... and I answered. And thank God I picked up the damn phone.

To start off this post, I'm not going to do the typical introduction (other than my Spotify playlist, which is now... obscenely long), but rather I'm going to post a list of some random things that I learned in London / things that I would tell people going to London for a short time or an extended stay. It's certainly not all that I learned in London, but there are some amusing tidbits here and there that I hope you'll enjoy.

Spotify, per usual. Enjoy, peoples.

  1. "Radioactive" - Pentatonix (feat. Lindsay Sterling)
  2. "Sabrina" - The Fake Carls (download their free EP here - my roommate's band!)
  3. "Theme from 'Hot Fuzz'" - David Arnold (from Hot Fuzz)
  4. "End of an Era" - Oliver Boyd and the Rememberalls
  5. "The Year Turns Round Again" - J. Tams Arr. A. Sutton & T. Van Eyken (from War Horse)
So, without further ado...

Advice I Would Give to People Going to London

  1. There is still a language barrier. Don't listen to anyone who tells you otherwise.
  2. Don't depend on the Tube to get you places when you're in a pinch. It's usually a liar or a quitter.
    1. But you'll still probably use it, even after you begin to hate it with every inch of your being. And you'll probably miss it when you leave.
      1. It's a love-hate relationship.
  3. Double decker bus drivers are either constantly drunk or adrenaline-junkies. Or they just hate the world and all of the hapless pedestrians that inhabit it.
  4. When milk expires in the United Kingdom... it freakin' expires. Throw it away. Don't ask questions. Don't test it out, unless you want to become acquainted with your toilet in ways that you never thought would be possible.
  5. Never eat on-the-go and expect to be able to throw things away. There are no public bins anywhere, and even when you think there are... they're not actually there. Spare yourself the trouble and just eat indoors. And they will never - never - be anywhere near public transportation, including tube stations, bus stations and train stations.
    1. So, if you want to eat on the go, fine, do it - just patiently cart around your rubbish and have everyone stare at you as they think, "She's obviously new here."
  6. No matter how hot it gets - and it does actually get hot in Britain - someone in the office will always want a nice, hot cuppa.
    1. That will probably include yourself.
  7. If pub alcohol was the same price as alcohol that you could get from the Tesco's down the street... you'd probably literally never leave. Alas, though, that's not the case.
    1. Buy yourself some drinks, put them in your fridge, and always pre-game.
    2. Then, you are allowed to go to the pub to get a drink or two.
      1. ... that will probably lead to more.
      2. Let's face it, you're going to blow all of your money on booze (England ftw).
    3. Also, if you go to a pub and order an "Irish car bomb," prepared to either be smacked, glared at or chewed out for insensitivity / traditional American ignorance.
  8. Trains are awesome. Take them when you can. And day trips are equally fascinating, relaxing and enjoyable. If America had public transportation systems like Britain did, life would be infinitely more exciting and navigable.
    1. If you decide to go on a day trip to Oxford, make sure that you go punting - but avoid dead deer carcasses. They explode if you accidentally go over them.
  9. If you can go to a world premiere of a film, just freakin' do it - not only will you meet awesome people (Fae, Kirsti, Alli, Shannon), but you just might be able to meet a famous person or two.
  10. Take as many pictures as you possibly can, and keep a blog if you'd like, as well - especially if you're doing an extended trip. It's really worth it, in the end.
  11. Never underestimate the power, danger and sheer agony of tea-making.
  12. Go to the park, pull out a book and read while eating cheese and drinking wine (or cider, your preference). Or do something of the like - don't forget to sit back and enjoy the view sometimes (and not the rubbish skyline they're trying to make).
  13. Go to museums. They're free and they have air conditioning.
  14. Go to the Harry Potter tours at Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden. It's worth the £5 train ride there, the £2 bus fare and the £30 ticket. Spend as much time as you can in all of the places that you can spend time in - and don't forget to try the butterbeer!
  15. Finding green food here is more difficult than you can imagine. If you want to eat healthy, you're going to have to make more of an effort / have more money. Prepare for the inevitable London diet of bread, meet and lager.
  16. Don't eat at Pizza Express unless you desire food poisoning.
    1. Do try the pub food, though, even if it's lacking in greens. One plate of fish and chips, and you're set for the rest of the day.
  17. Don't speak on the Tube. The Tube is meant for silent brooding, not loud American chatter. Just sit down (or stand up) and don't say anything unless absolutely necessary, otherwise the wrath of the almighty London working-class will rain down upon you with all of its might and terror.
  18. You will run out of money. Don't listen to anyone who says otherwise. You. Will. Run. Out. Of. Money. Don't buy anything expensive, ever. Even food that's decently priced. Don't listen to the menu, it's a liar. Just buy an appetiser and then drink a lot of water. It's better for your wallet and for your gut (water / booze is incredibly filling).
    1. When you literally don't have any money anymore - not even money to eat (this WILL happen, people) - then you can always scrounge together enough coins to go to a Sainsbury's or a Tesco's and get some artificial chicken or something equally disgusting... but it's still food (let's hope - I don't ask questions anymore).
    2. Or spend it all on booze. See No. 7 (above).
  19. See a show on the West End - preferably a British show (Billy Elliot, War Horse, Matilda, etc...), but see a damn show. There is nothing like a West End show - Broadway may be more spectacular, but something about the West End makes theatre more personal, an that's more precious than any multi-million dollar extravaganza.
  20. Spend time wandering around - don't have a plan some days. Just wake up early, get outside and walk around until you can't feel your feet anymore.
    1. London is the question, not the answer. And trying to plan around it is, most of the times, completely useless and superfluous and you won't get anything out of it.
    2. Get lost and enjoy the thrill of the unsolvable riddle.
    3. And don't just stick around the typical boroughs (Westminster, the City of London, Islington, Chinatown, Kensington etc...) Check out some random places, too, like Shoreditch or Banglatown or Hammersmith or Stratford or even Bermondsey (though trek there with caution).
  21. Do something completely stupid and ridiculous and reckless - something that you'll look back on later and go, "What the fuck was I thinking?" Playing it safe is boring, life is too short to be comfortable, and what happens in London stays in London.
  22. If you're working in London, call in sick one day and do something ridiculous and unprofessional - like sit in the hot sun for four hours (with a second degree burn) to meet Martin Freeman (flake) and Simon Pegg (awesome).
    1. If you're not... you lucky bastard. Just do stupid shit anyway.

My Last Few Days in London...

... have been so wonderful. Unlike many other adventures of mine in this incredible city, these last few days have been literally just... I don't know. Pubs? Talking? Clubs? Walking? Enjoying? Experiencing? Whatever verb you want to interject into this statement, it's been less of an adventure and more of a... reminiscing period. Time to reflect, relax and spend time with the awesome fellow Dreamers (and my lovely British friends!) that I've come to call my "London family"... it's been fantastic. It's almost good that I got this time to unwind and reflect, because if my last few days here were as hectic as the rest of this adventure has been, then I would be concerned not only for my sanity, but for the sanity of those around me!

Wednesday evening was sort of a parting of ways for all of us Dreamers. I went to the Bistro (this food place that DreamCareers has a deal with) before going on over to the final seminar at this hotel near the student accommodations. There, we saw a fun video called "Shit Dreamers Never Say," which was absolutely hilarious and completely true ("I always get a seat on the tube!" "This gym has so many options in regards to physical fitness!" "I have so much NIDO cash left!" "I never go on Facebook at work!" "I'm going to the Focus group tonight!" "I just don't like drinking!"), before we did a talent show. Julie (awesome roommate in band, remember?!) sang this incredible original song that made me literally cry. I'm not sure what it's called ("Moving On," maybe...?), but it was just awesome and everyone was just completely blown away by her performance. It was such a perfect song for the occasion, you know? I was such a wreck. After that, I went up and did a little song, which was fun!

Then, we saw a final slideshow with all of these photos from the trip, which was so fun to look back on everything that we go to do here - from our first day, to the focus group seminars with all of these incredible speakers, to Paris, to Oxford, to the London experience in general... it was just nostalgia everywhere. <3 So sad.

The best part of our final seminar as Dreamers, though, was the toast that we all shared at the end. We each got a little plastic cup of champagne, and we were told to go forwards and make a toast to something. People toasted to the Nido cafe (you meet cool people there), to the trip in general, to the staff for helping us out (I made sure to toast to Nemo for taking care of me when I got burned), to Stefan for hooking us up with these incredible internships... but there were overwhelming toasts to all of us, to the fellow Dreamer next to us who made us believe that we could go that extra mile and achieve our dreams, and that we belonged. That our dreams weren't as unachievable that we thought, and that there were a bunch of people around us who were just as ambitious, as hard working... and who wanted to reach their dreams just as badly as you want to reach yours. It was so motivating, but also humbling. I've always considered myself an overachiever... until I came here. I am far from an overachiever - there are so many more people out there who are working that much harder than I am - and that makes me that much further from reaching my dream than I thought. I have to work that much harder to do right by these awesome people.

To any Dreamers who might be reading this blog... thank you, for the trip of literally a life time. I'd like to say that I don't know if I've been changed for the better (just like Wicked), but I know that I have been, and it's all thanks to you. One life. <3

Obligatory Underground photograph.
After the seminar, we all had a singular goal in mind - to live it up while we could. And we're a bunch of 20-somethings in a city with a bustling night-life and a fantastic drinking age. That, combined with the fact that Ira (awesome sauce to the extreme) got all of us Dreamers an incredible deal at one of the top lounges in London, was a recipe for incredibleness. We all (20+ of us) went down to Piccadilly Circus together to get schmammered and have a blast! And while a lot of people ended up enjoying the Lounge that we went to... it just wasn't my cup of tea. My main girl, Lakin, and I looked at one another (after I finished up my £6 beer - day light robbery, I say), and pretty much just said, "... pub."

We didn't end up going to the pub. But, we did have an incredible time running through the streets of London and through the London Underground singing "Don't Rain on My Parade" from Funny Girl at the top of our lungs. Literally, the top of our lungs - through the King's Cross Underground, and at Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Circus. And there's no other way that I would've wanted to spend that evening - with one of my best friends here, acting like complete fools at midnight... in London. It was like weren't even living our own lives, everything was just too "movie perfect."

My Girls...

... and I had a wonderful time Thursday evening. After yet another wonderful but confusing day of work (as I was progressively beginning to realise that - oh shit - I only have two days of work left at Irresistible Films, what has my life come to?), I headed straight over to none other than The World's End pub in Camden Town to not only say goodbye to probably one of the coolest pubs around, but also to some incredible friends that I've met along the way here and back home... I saw Deej and Sarah again, which was fantastic, and also some of his friends from LAMDA, which was equally exciting. Not only that, but I got to see Alli and Shannon again - remember them? Those awesome chicks that I met at the world premiere of The World's End? And I went to the Cornetto trilogy thing with them at the VUE Theatre at Leicester Square? Yup, those awesome peoples. :) The icing on top of the cake, though, was getting to see Kelly again... and also, my lovely British friend Mike, who I got to know last semester when he studied abroad at the University of Colorado. Awkward, seeing as how I was his RA last semester, but he's definitely older than me and is quite more experienced in the realm of drinking (Lobster). We had a blast, sitting at this cramped little table while awesome, Celtic-folk music was being performed live literally two booths away... and we just talked. We talked politics, film, live, London, just... anything, really. I got to spend time with some awesome people in an awesome city, and that's that I could have ever asked for.

This Brit...
Even after Deej and his friends said a final farewell (though they're going to be in Edinburgh when I am - how awesome is that? Pub, maybe?) because they had class the next morning (lame), I got to spend some more quality time with Mike, Kelly, Alli and Shannon (quality time meaning that The World's End closed and we stood outside talking and making fools of ourselves for a good thirty minutes) before we finally - and sadly - parted ways. Mike and I said our final farewell in some tube station somewhere and shared some choice insults ("Bloody Yank!" "Shut up, you Lobster!") before I headed back home to spend some quality time with some fellow Dreamers - Ryan, Scott, Robby - and some of the girls that I've come to call my family here: Alison, Julie, Lizzie, Nicole and Morgan!

Okay, so a quick background story... during this entire trip, we have all come to understand that we are incredible random and bizarre people who just... say things sometimes that are just absolutely absurd. It began with "I thought that everything was going wrong, and then I realised that I just needed to poop," and slowly culminated into something rather disturbing but hilarious. About... 120 quotes in total were compiled over this incredible summer (if they appear on a blog post anytime soon, I'll share the link), and to celebrate (or commiserate) the end, we all sat down and played a drinking game - Who said what quote? What was the context? It was great fun! Some of the quotes were... well, straight up disgusting, but what can we say? No regrets. One life.

And Then Friday...

... came along, and I said goodbye to probably one of the coolest film companies around. Work was work, as always, and the fact that I only had 9 hours left at this company didn't deter any of the producers from throwing some work my way - from plane flights to cataloguing film from a shoot that they'd just done in Sweden, to social media, to running errands, I was kept pretty busy on my last day in our awesome, little office in Shoreditch. But when 2:00pm rolled around, Matt took me to The Golden Heart (pub, le duh), and bought me two pints of good, strong lager. Thoroughly tipsy, I returned and finished up the working day, only to return to the pub after 6:00pm rolled around to continue drinking and having a great time spending some quality time with my now-former-coworkers. Katy (love this girl) even gave me a parting gift before she had to bustle off to catch her train, and that was of chocolates. Literally the best gift that anyone could have ever given to me! I had so much fun taking the commute back from Shoreditch to King's Cross every day with you, and getting to know you in the office and out - and especially looking at fun kitten pictures together! <3 You made me feel like I belonged in the office, and I'm so grateful! I'll be keeping in touch!

I said some sad goodbyes to Kirk, Harry, Paul and Georgina, too, and I can only say... thank you for the awesome experience, for all of the laughs and the crazy adventures to Beckenham and Shoreditch High Street and Halliford and back again - I wouldn't have traded any day at work for something else, and my time learning from you and speaking with you all was invaluable. <3 Special shout out to Harry, who was my supervisor during this entire process. You rock, and thank you for giving me the chance to work for you guys!

After I said my final goodbyes, I headed on over back to NIDO to spend some quality with with, yet, another British friend that I made in Colorado. Kat studied at the University of Colorado's Theatre Department last semester, so I got to see her around the Theatre Building now and again... what's so strange is that, while we got along when we actually had the chance to speak, we never actually got to hang out and spend some quality time together. So, in honour of not only getting to meet up with a bod from the ol' U.S. of A, but trying to get rid of my Bistro free-meal cards (people gave me a ton at the end of the trip - which was greatly appreciated - but I actually ended up having more than I could handle), Kat and I sat down at the Bistro, got ourselves some (free) drinks, ate (free) burgers followed by (free) desserts... and talked about life and politics and theatre and the like and hot damn, this girl is incredible. It's so sad that we only got to spend one evening together before I left, but it was an evening well spent.

After that... I went back to the beginning. To O'Neill's! My girls and I sat down, drank a few pints... and definitely cried. But we also laughed too, and made fools of ourselves singing "Sweet Caroline" at the top of our voices (I like how people were placing bets on whether or not we were American). It was the best goodbye I could've thought of, to go back to the place where our friendships all began. <3 Love you girls so much.

My Last Day in London, England

I woke up to an empty flat and an empty Nido, which was... incredibly depressing. Half of the Dreamers had left the night before, and my girls had taken shuttles at 6:00am to Heathrow to catch their planes back to their respective American cities. I finished packing up my things, tidied up the toilet a little, did the dishes... and left Nido. I said my goodbyes to some people here and there, but I'm not very good with this kind of thing... saying goodbye to these people is not like saying goodbye to people at school, because at least at school you know that you'll see them again. With these guys... I'm not so sure.

I hitched the Piccadilly Line down to Kensington and Chelsea to Kelly's flat - out of the goodness of her heart, she let me sleep at her flat for the one night that I didn't have accommodations in this wonderful city. So, after buggering off down to the post part of town for a bit (and after a nice cuppa), we got out of the flat and headed out to see the city one last time.

It's a beautiful day to say goodbye.
I had a few things that I needed to do / I had promised to do, which included not only getting my Dad his "Mind the Gap" shirt (cliche, old man), but topping up my UK mobile so that my Mom could call me and make sure that I didn't die in Scotland. The first thing that we had to do, though, was go to Speedy's Cafe and say my goodbyes. IDK if you guys knew this, but I got pretty close to the staff at Speedy's, and they made me promise to come back and say a final farewell on my last day there. And, c'mon, I'm not going to say no to a Speedy's Full English Breakfast - beans and all. So, after saying my sad farewells to Speedy's Cafe, we headed on over and... well, explored the city.

We saw a lot of cool things in London that have become a bit like home to me. We paid a quick trip to Shoreditch and Banglatown so that I could show Kelly where I worked / show her a part of town that she wasn't familiar with. I got to see the Spitalfields Market again, and walk Brick Lane and go into the Golden Heart and get one last pint of lager... we went to Tower Hill and saw the Tower of London and the Tower Bridge (which was up! Awesome!). We walked through a WWI memorial, a few gift shops here and there... we walked Fleet Street and saw St. Paul's, stumbled upon a bike race, found the Millennium Bridge again, ate some seriously sugary cupcakes (I felt my heart palpitating just licking the icing off) and just... experienced the city in all of its glory.

On the Thames - FTW.
The best part, though, was getting up close and personal with the Thames River. We just decided to go to the beach for a little bit while we were walking along the South Bank, so... we did! I was planning on taking my shoes off, but that beach is covered in glass, so... decided against it. Still, we found a location that the BBC-One used for an episode of Sherlock, and got to take some awesome pictures of us... standing on the bank of the Thames. Awesome-sauce.

After that, we meandered on over to pick up Kib from Waterloo Station. It was awesome to see her again - we thought we'd get to spend more time together while I was here, but life seemed to get in the way a lot. She definitely tackled me this time 'round, which was appreciated, haha! We walked about the South Bank for a bit longer, sat on a wall and gazed off across the Thames towards Parliament and Big Ben... It was really, really sad to say goodbye to my good friend, Benny, but it was okay, in a way, because - again - I know I'll be back. After that, we went over to Wagamama, and Kib treated me to some awesome Japanese curry... and it was absolutely delicious. I think I'm in love.

Goodbye, my good friend Benny. <3
We wandered about the South Bank for a bit longer, saw some awesome busking (The McGowns are going places, I'm very serious), and then walked across the bridge towards Trafalgar Square, where I finally got to sit up on a pedestal with some Lions (illegal and dangerous, but we escaped unscathed!). We then meandered on over to Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, where I got to revisit some nice memories...

... and then it was done. I said goodbye to wandering the streets of London. I said goodbye to living in London. We went back to South Kensington, got some cheap cider from the Sainsbury's across the way, watched some funny videos online, and then finally went to bed. And that was the end of my time in London. Just like that.

And here I am, now, on a train to Edinburgh, Scotland, to have one last random adventure before I go back to Farnborough for a few days, and then jump back across the pond to America.

It was just like that. It just... ended.
Here are some pictures of my last day spend in London. I didn't take too many, but I was too busy trying to soak everything in that I didn't even really care.

To the Dreamers...

I guess, to start, I have to say a little bit about myself in that, despite my apparently confident facade, I'm an incredible self conscious person with chronic self doubt. This comes a shock to some people, though the people who know me the best understand that this is not the case at all. And though I think (or hope) that I make friends with relative ease, entering a new environment for me is an incredible taxing experience. Doubt plagues me, and I find it hard to truly trust people with who I really am. I find it incredibly difficult to be absolutely comfortable around people, as there's always a part of me that remains cautious and unsure.

I came to London expecting this to, again, be the case.

It was not.

Immediately, I met Lizzie as we were doing orientation with one another. And shortly afterwards, my roommate Julie joined the crew. Alison joined in shortly after after a random meeting in the middle of the Nido hallway, and after our first seminar, we all decided to head to the nearest pub and drink in celebration. And that, my friends, was the beginning of an incredible friendship with five girls that I think are pretty much my sisters who were separated from me at birth.

To all of you guys - Julie, Nicole, Lizzie, Alison, Morgan - ... I would go at length to tell you about all of the things that I love about each and everyone of you, but that would take up a blog post in it of ourselves. I feel like our tears and hugging and crying at O'Neill's this Friday was enough. I don't need to write about it to express to you guys how much I love every single one of you. We've already said all that we need to say to one another, and you guys know how much I love you. <3

But, it didn't end there.

I met Ashley, Sam and Lakin and got to spend some serious quality time with them in Paris, France. Ashley made me feel truly beautiful while we took pictures in the City of Love, Sam made me laugh and feel completely... fearless in being myself, with her awesome bedazzled skirt and epic flower crown (she and Ashley can literally rock any look ever). I couldn't have imagined spending a weekend with Paris with anyone else - they made it an unforgettable, pristine experience. And Lakin.... what can I say about Lakin McCarthy? That she's my Irish cousin? My Italian sister? The girl that made me realise how incredible life is and rediscover the meaning of true, inner strength? Someone who inspires me to do better, to make changes in the world and to keep the faith even when all seems lost? <3

Micha and Nelly... I didn't get to know these fabulous ladies as well as I would have liked, but our Bistro nights (when I'd just show up, sit down with you guys and Ashley and just talk) were awesome and I wouldn't have eaten creme brule with anyone else!

Scott, your mutual love for Sherlock and anythings sports related is greatly appreciated and not overlooked, and you always knew how to put a smile on my face with that sarcastic wit of yours. Keep in touch, and keep it classy. :)

Austin, you seriously make me smile, every time that I see you. I'm so sorry we can't go on epic European adventures together (like we had originally planned), but just know that you are the burst of sunshine that, sometimes, people just need!

Robby, you rock my socks - such a kind, caring dude who really takes the time to appreciate people ("You're so charming!"). The laughs and smiles will be remembered.

Sacha, my comrade from Moscow - you are a rockstar. Don't stop surprising the world with not only your kick ass sense of fashion, but your kick ass attitude towards life - and Russian vodka really is the best! :)

To Stefan, for giving me the incredible opportunity to gain work experience in one of the coolest cities in the world, and for ealing with my crazy passport nonsense and helping me land this awesome internship at Irresistible Films... you're seriously my summer hero. I wouldn't have been here without your support! Thank you for believing in me!

To Ryan - you're just the best, the first person that I really got to talk to when I got to Nido. And you never failed to put a smile on my face or make me laugh like an absurd idiot every time that I saw you. Don't stop being awesome.

Nemo - you're just absolutely wonderful. Not only did you take me to the A&E when I decided to turn my stomach into bacon, but you were always there with helpful advice and a big hug!

To Alex - you're just an inspiration-machine. I never fail to feel... well, inspired, when I'm around you, and you always know what to say and how to say it and have a good reason why it needs to be said... and it never fails to make me excited for the future.

To Cody - you are so easy to get along with, and so absolutely fun to get to hang out with. I'm sorry we didn't get to spend as much time together as we probably could have, but you rock. :)

There are so many people that I could thank for my awesome time at DreamCareers - so many other Dreamers that I didn't mention in this blog (I'm currently on a train to Scotland as I'm writing this, so I'm typing everything down as I think of it, so if I forget anyone, just know that I love you too!) - but so many other people who have made this summer literally unforgettable. <3 Love you guys, and keep in touch. It's only been two days... and I'm already ready for a reunion.

To Everyone In Between...

Not only did I get to meet some awesome coworkers and Dreamers, but I also randomly met some cool people on the epic adventures that I had in between work and DreamCareers. So, to quickly summarise...

To the dude at Chilango who made my burritos - you're awesome. And I can't believe that we saw each other on the Tube randomly the other day. Not only was that absurdly hilarious, and I don't even know your name, but you're just a cool dude. And you make a mean chicken enchilada.

To the staff at Speedy's Cafe... I went to Speedy's straight up fangirling over Sherlock, and that was it - and I first invested in a meal at Speedy's because it seemed unfair to overlook a small business just for its face value as a TV filming location. But what I didn't expect was to fall in with your food. Your English breakfasts were delicious and incredibly filling, and I'm going to seriously miss my £2 chicken sandwiches every morning. Not only that, but you guys are totally the coolest people that I know. You got to know my name, and we would talk over orders and I literally would be late for work some days just because we were having such incredible conversations. The fact that I had to say goodbye was made that much bittersweet by the fact that you guys didn't want to see me go, either! I'm so bummed that I had to leave early, but, like I said, I promise that I'll be back as soon as possible, with other awesome people who will soon become regular customers, just like I became. You helped make Speedy's into not only a cool Sherlock place, but one of my favourite London haunts. I'm going to miss every single one of you! <3 Don't forget me!

To Jimmy... you awesome Australian. We met once at the Big Chill, and we immediately clicked. You're just cool. But, still. You rock, and if I ever come to Australia, you best believe I'm going to hunt you down and we're going to grab a drink or two together!

To Alli and Shannon... seriously. You girls are like my spirit animals or something. Who knew meeting at a world premiere could lead to something so awesome. Not only do we fangirl over the same things, but we also had a blast at The World's End - both the pub and the film (how fitting and ironic, right?) - but I feel like we'll stay good friends, even if we're literally in different corners of the States. But, whatever, I have no doubt I'll see you guys again! :) Keep in touch, and keep it real!

To Fae and Kirsti... you guys are rad. I went to the world premiere and literally sat there by my lonesome for an hour before you guys showed up and we struck up random conversations about Iron Man and Captain America and the like. Fae, it was awesome to see you again at the London Eye the other day, and Kirsti, I'll keep your pen safe, I promise. Keep in touch, you guys!

I May Be Sad to Leave London, But...

... I'm not going to lie. I miss my family, I really do. This is a special shout out to you guys, the most, my lovely McManus clan. I would not be here without all of your incredible love, support, affection and care, and I owe this entire trip to you guys and all that you've done for me. I can only hope that I can repay you guys - all of you, including Chris and Libby, but especially Mom and Dad - back someday in full. <3 I know it's not possible, and I can't even imagine how much money you've funnelled into my life, but just know that I'm eternally grateful and that I love you with all of my heart and soul. I can't wait to see you guys in less than a week. It's been way too long.

And I know that a blog shout out is a really poor way of repaying you right now, but from this little hostel in Edinburgh, it's a bit hard to show you personally. <3 Just know that... I love you guys, I miss you and I can't wait to see you soon.

I may not have come back a wealthy person £ (or $) wise, but hopefully I'm going to come back a motivated, different person - and different in a good way. It's only thank to you guys that not only I have an incredible internship to put on my resume for future employment endeavours, but that I've come to learn a lot of valuable life lessons.

And here are just a few of them...

Some Things that I Learned in London

  1. Life is expensive.
    1. But life is also awesome, so the key is to find a good balance between the two.
  2. Still don't drink the milk, Katie. Just don't.
  3. Keep making tea, but make it with caution.
  4. Crack a joke at a famous person. They might just laugh.
  5. Pubs are magical places.
    1. It's never a bad idea to meet up with old friends...
    2.'s never a bad idea to make new ones...
    3. ...and it's always a great idea to introduce them to one another at The World's End.
  6. Work hard and play just as hard - in the end, life's all a big holiday - the work getting there is hard and painful, but once you reach your destination, you'll be glad you took the longer, harder way 'round and saw all the sights. It makes the destination just that much more grand.
  7. I could be comfortable working a 9-to-5 kind of job for my life - in fact, I could be satisfied and comfortable doing most things in life...
    1. ...but is it what I ultimately want? Hell no.
  8. There are cliffs out there, and you're not supposed to sit there, stare and go, "Wow, that's beautiful." Get up off your ass and go cliff diving.
  9. Who cares if you've been shit on in life? You know what shit is? Really good gardening material. And one day, all of that shit is going to make you a bouquet of flowers (for you, Nicole).
  10. If you don't try you'll never know. So, don't make your back up plan your plan-plan. In fact, screw the back up plan. Fucking go for it, and if you die trying, at least it was a good ride.
    1. Ambition is not a bad thing - take control. Make it happen.
    2. Life is a bull, but that's why there are cowboys out there - be a cowboy.
  11. There are people out there who care about you. And you may not want to think that they do, because of all that shit that you have piled up and all of the gardening that you still have yet to do (you damn procrastinator), but... at the end of the day (or the summer), you're going to look back on everything that you've done, and the most important thing that you'll remember are the times that you spent with the people that you learned to love and care about. After all... a home away from home is only complete if you have another family to share it with.
    1. God Save the Nugget - I love my girls. <3
  12. I've got one shot at this "life" thing... I'm going to take it.
My heart is broken today, as I leave this wonderful city and head towards Edinburgh, Scotland. But, I can't have anything but hope for the future, because I've never been so motivated and inspired in my entire life to pursue my dreams and grab my future by the horns. And I thank London for that.

So, until the next adventure...