- My roommates. I really don't know how I got so lucky as to wind up with Phil, Jill, and Markoesa, but I'm thanking the stars. I'm learning so much from them (how to write a check in the UK, the geography of the Netherlands, how to make a cheesecake with a carrot cake cookie crust), and enjoying every moment we spend together. I'm often home before they are, and I will run out of my room to say hi to them, like a little girl excited that her daddy is home from work.
- My coursemates. My course is made up of truly brilliant people. We all have different backgrounds and areas of interest, but I am really glad I get to go through this craziness with them. When we meet up, after class or to see a show, I listen to their conversations and wonder how it is that I'm smart enough to hang out with them. Also, they're really really nice and don't mind my going on about how British bacon isn't really bacon.
- The internet. It works. After being without it for a month, I'm back online. Thank you, Al Gore, for inventing the internet. It makes my life so much easier.
- Museums. They're free here. Really. I've seen the Rosetta Stone. Twice. For free. The famous portraits of Elizabeth I, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, William Shakespeare? They're in the National Portrait Gallery. And it's free to stare at them for as long as you want, or until a bunch of children in matching school uniforms, with matching colored pencil sets and clipboards swarm around your favorite monarch, trying to make a sketch for a class project.
- Tea. Nobody looks at me funny when I ask for tea here. I love tea.
- Shopping. Yes, I know the exchange isn't in my favor, but it's still possible to get a bargain here if you know where to look. And I'm learning! I'm not spending money willy-nilly, but I came with very little, and much of what I had at left at home got swallowed up by Hurricane Irene. Add to that a washing machine that tends to chew clothes up rather than clean them and I really do need that new cardigan I bought for £12. This should be a lesson for us all, Weather Emergency+Limited Baggage Allowence+Crazy Crazy Washer= New Clothes.
- The NHS. It is no longer less expensive for me to miss a day of life because I'm sick than it would be to seek medical help. If I need a doctor, they'll see me and make me better. Thank you.
- Food. Yeah, so, some English food isn't very good. But some American food sucks too. Eating out is expensive. But I can cook for not too much money. Fruit and vegetables are really cheap here, and you can find reasonably priced meat, fish, and poultry. So, how do I combat expensive, not-too-great English fare? By cooking for myself. It's good, it's relatively cheap, and I know what I'm putting into my body.
- The gym. I've gotten myself a student membership at the gym near school. I'm only going twice a week so far, but I'm hoping to build that up. Two half-hour sessions a week, one of swimming and one of general cardio, is two more half-hour sessions a week than I was doing at home.
- Theatre. Right. That's why I'm here. To study theatre. The theatre is good here. The dramas tend to be better than the musicals, but of the three musicals I've seen since arriving in London, two were at very least entertaining, and the third had pretty dancing. There are great actors in this country. There are great actors at home, too, sure, but... there are great actors over here and even with governmental support for the arts dwindling, the people still patronize the theatre. The only show I've seen thusfar with empty seats in the orchestra (or, as they say here, stalls), has been Rock of Ages, a production which has been running for a while and I happened to attend a show at a weird time- 5:30pm on a Friday.
It's been a couple of weeks since I last blogged, not because I've had nothing to say, but because things just weren't going the way I wanted and putting up a complain-y blog post doesn't help anyone. Sometimes I make lists to force myself to see the good in a situation, so, without further ado, ten good things about being here:
Amy Holson-Schwartz is an American playwright and producer currently living in London.