I may have already experienced this week, but I still can’t really believe that it happened. I got to experience some incredibly surreal moments, all whilst dealing with being a college student. The study abroad experience offers so many incredible opportunities, that I will likely never have the chance to experience again, and I am so incredibly excited to be here.
The beginning of this week was mostly project prep work as I had a pretty big presentation to give on Wednesday, the same day that I was hopping on a train to London for the night. The presentation involved analyzing the channel BBC Three, which was really interesting for someone that doesn’t really know much about British television. We spent a lot of time on this presentation and I think we did pretty well. Afterwards, I all but ran downtown to the train station to catch my train. It just so happened to be an extremely sunny day in Cardiff so I was roasting in my sweater, but any sunny day in Cardiff is welcome.
At this point, the train journey from Cardiff to London is incredibly familiar and I enjoy every moment of it. Trains are fantastic and I absolutely love watching the World pass by. On this ride, I spent most of the time in awe that I am able to go to London in the middle of the school week and not miss any classes. While I would love to spend a week in London, going for just a night is just as wonderful, especially for this trip. Why was I going to London? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I went to the Brit Awards! The Brit Awards are essentially the British equivalent to the Grammy’s so they’re kind of a big deal. Shelbie bought tickets months ago, but I didn’t know if I would be able to go without missing any classes, so as soon as I got registered for classes I checked the timetables and almost screamed in joy. I had plenty of room to get to London for the show and there was no way I was going to miss this.
I got into London at about 3 and hopped on the tube to meet Shelbie and get ready for the show. We both got dresses last week at a place called New Look (lots of options and reasonably priced) and it was really fun to get all fancy to go to a big time awards show. Neither of us really had any idea what to expect at the show but we were incredibly excited. It was at The O2 Arena in London, which is an amazing venue. We picked up our very fancy tickets and got our security wristbands before heading into the venue. Inside, we got to walk the red carpet! They had it all set up to look like the real red carpet and there were people there to take pictures so obviously we took red carpet pictures. The celebrity red carpet was right outside and directly behind the wall we took pictures at, which was pretty insane to think about. Every few minutes we could hear the crowds chanting for a celebrity.
Gotta let the paparazzi get one shot right?
The visible red carpet was where we walked, inside those walls are the celebs.
Inside the arena, alongside the countless people dressed to the nines, there is a full corridor of restaurants and clubs so we stopped at Five Guys for some fries. After we ate we went to try and find something to pass the time before we could enter the venue and were stoked to find that part of the Game of Thrones exhibit that The O2 had open for the past few weeks was still available so we went upstairs to pose for pictures on the Iron Throne.
Watch out Lannisters, looks like I’m taking over Westeros.
My only real complaint about the show was that there were some really spread out times for entering the venue. We had to wait until 6:30 to get into the concourse, and then until 7:15 to actually get into our seats, but there was a band playing in the concourse, which made the wait bearable. I think they wanted to keep us out so that all of the celebrities could enjoy their dinner in peace, which makes sense because when we did get in it kind of felt like we were at a zoo watching them sitting at their tables.
And here we see the wild celebrity, dining in their natural habitat.
Anyway, eventually we got to our seats, and yes we had nosebleeds, but we could see everything just fine and it looked really amazing from so high up. The production team went all out and the place looked absolutely stunning. They had lights making up the phrases that are on the actual award and everything lit up and it looked wonderful. In the minutes leading up to the first performance, the producer of the show basically gave us a lecture about how the show was going to work and gave us our audience instructions. We were told specifically how to bring in the show from the ad breaks with very enthusiastic clapping and cheering to make the TV show more exciting. We were queued out of every ad break and it made it feel like we were really involved which made it was really fun.
The show itself was amazing, surreal, incredible, exciting, and eventful. Taylor Swift opened with Blank Space and we got to watch a bunch of awards get given and some other fantastic (and some confusing) performances. Ed Sheeran was by far my favorite. I’ve been trying to see him live for over a year now so being able to watch him perform at such an incredible event was magnificent.
Ed Sheeran was a m a z i n g.
He also won two awards and he was so excited, it was adorable.
Sam Smith was wonderful, Paloma Faith gave a really cool performance and had waterfalls on stage, Kanye gave a confusing performance with a flamethrower, but by far the craziest performance was Madonna. Right at the start of her song, she was supposed to untie a cape and her dancers were going to dramatically pull it off, but unfortunately it didn’t get untied so when her dancers tried to pull it off, they pulled her off the platform on stage (check out a video of it here). Madonna obviously didn’t listen to Edna Mode from The Incredibles because everyone knows that there should be “no capes.” The entire stadium gasped in surprise and a wave of shock took over The O2, it looked a lot more dramatic in person than it did on video so it was a big relief when she got up and finished her song.
Madonna (post fall).
Just thinking about the number of famous people that were there I still can’t believe that I was there too. Some of the presenters included Orlando Bloom, Kim Kardashian, Russell Crowe, Lionel Richie, and Cara Delevigne amongst others. Going to this show was a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am incredibly grateful that I got to experience it. Never in my life would I have thought that I could say I’ve walked a red carpet or have gone to an awards show (or ever be in the same room as Kim Kardashian, that’s still a weird thing to think about). It was an unforgettable night of new experiences that I would never have gotten a chance to make a reality if I had made the easy choice and stayed in the States this semester. Saying yes to studying abroad is probably one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I’m not even half-way done here yet.
As the life of a student goes, I had to head back to school the next morning so I hopped on the Megabus (I only paid £5 for my ticket heck yes) and grabbed the front seat on the second level before settling in for a lovely drive back to Cardiff. I’ve only ever taken the train into Wales so I was ecstatic to be able to see the journey over the bridge. The landscape into the country is absolutely gorgeous and it just made me fall more in love with drives through the UK. If I had any doubts before, the drive over The Seven Bridge assured me that I am head over heels in love with Wales. I grow more and more sympathetic for people who don’t know what Wales has to offer. Sometime this week I came across a buzzfeed post entitled “30 Reasons You Should Never Visit Wales,” which initially made me slightly annoyed. But then I clicked the link and was reassured, even if it made my to-visit list a whole lot longer. It’s a great post for anyone that doesn’t really know what Wales has to offer, and a great one for people like me to show people who didn’t understand why I wanted to come here.
The Seven Bridge
This country is amazing.
I had a couple quiet nights dedicated to getting some school things done before Saturday rolled around and we headed off for some more adventures. Initially we were going to some exploring in another city, but the weather looked rainy so we opted to stay in Cardiff and finally visit the National Museum. I love museums so I was excited to see what it had to offer, as I really didn’t know anything about it. There was a really good exhibit on the evolution of Wales that was mostly rocks, but it was still pretty cool. Did you know that 540 million years ago the United Kingdom was almost as south as Antarctica? Nuts right? Other than that it was mostly art galleries. There were a lot of paintings from different places and time periods that were interesting to check out. There were also some Picassos and Monets that were really impressive.
Gallery where they filmed part of the Doctor Who 50th!
Wooly rhinos are my new favorite extinct animal (I had no idea they were a thing until the museum).
We didn’t spend too much time in the museum because we got hungry but the time we did spend was fun. For lunch we grabbed ham and cheese toasties from Gregg’s (great place for a super cheap sandwich, and toasties are amazing) before walking over to this place we had heard about. It’s called My Cookie Dough and they serve what is essentially warm cookie dough, and it is absolutely incredible. One of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. If you ever have a chance, definitely pick one up.
Chocolate chunk cookie dough, cooked slightly on the outside but warm and gooey on the inside.
The rest of Saturday was pretty laid back; we went to the Taly Social and played Monopoly for a while before calling it a night. We had an exciting Sunday to look forward to as it was St. David’s Day! St. David is the patron saint of Wales so St. David’s day is a really fun day of Welsh pride and celebration. We wandered around Cardiff during the morning, and found an amazing crepe place called Sophie’s (they give student discounts which is amaaaaazing) where I got a banoffee crepe that was to die for. Bananas, chocolate sauce, biscuit pieces, toffee sauce, and whipped cream and it was wonderful.
The highlight of the day was by far the parade than ran through city centre. It was full of people dressed in traditional Welsh outfits, as daffodils, dragons, and even some bananas. There were bagpipers and drummers and dancers and it was just awesome to witness. It was an incredible few hours of Welsh culture and pride that culminated in the Castle, which is always an incredibly sight.
St. David himself.
So many dragons, even a dragon wagon (oh my gosh that rhymes)
I think I’m going to stop this post here because it’s gotten rather long. There will probably be a quick midweek post before we head off to Adventure weekend (INCREDIBLY excited for this, it should be a breathtaking weekend in North Wales) about the Doctor Who Experience, where I believe I am going on Wednesday. It’s been an absolutely surreal week but it’s back to schoolwork for me to try and get a paper written before we go to the mountains for the weekend!