Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Olympic Excitment?

I was asked recently, by one of my readers about the weather, the people, and if there is any excitement from them. Also if I had heard any conversations or talked to anyone here in London about the Olympic Games.

First of all, the weather. It hasn't been too bad here yet.mit rained a bit on Sunday but raining here is different than raining in the Midwest. I was caught in a downpour while walking and a few hours later it rained again. This happened while I was out in the Westminster area and fortunately had just received my umbrella with my uniform. I do not like using umbrellas at all, I'm not sure why, but I held out as long as I could but finally it was just raining too hard and I had to bring it out. Yesterday was cooler with no rain, but today it's going to rain. It's been misting all morning and there is an 80% chance.

On to the people. There is a general excitement here in London for the Olympic Games, I'm sure there was much more excitement on Friday night when the opening ceremonies took place. There is probably also more excitement nearer to the venues and read that competition is taking place. I am not staying extremely far from competitions, but far enough where it would be possible to go the whole Olympics without knowing they are here in London. There are signs at pubs saying "Watch Olympics here" but aside from that and souvenirs there is no indication that the Olympics are taking place. I haven't had conversations with anyone about the Olympics since my first day.

When I fist arrived and was speaking with the customs officer at the airport he was telling me about the opening ceremonies. He had enjoyed them very much and thought that England put on a good show. He told me I would probably enjoy it but that it was "very British". He seemed quite excited that his country was hosting these Olympics. I did talk to a security guard at the Westminster abbey gift shop. He told me to have fun and enjoy my time here, but he just wanted to know why I was here, I had been walking around with my hosts and he wanted to know if we had come to London together. He was more interested in the why and how of my visit than anything else.

When I went out this morning I expected there to be a little more excitement about the games, especially considering the men's gymnastics team had just won England their first medal in the sport in 100 years, but nothing. Life just goes on.

I haven't made any plans for tomorrow as far as sightseeing, I should make some I think. but on Thursday I will be going to the Olympics village and hopefully there will be more excitement in that area of the city.

Monday, July 30, 2012

First Olympic Volunteer Experience

On Sunday I woke up pretty late, due to staying up very late and the time difference. Once I had "breakfast" I took the tube with Cassie and her family as I started my journey to the Uniform and Accreditation Center to pick up my ID and uniform.

The tube ride was uneventful and not too long. Once I got off at Canning Town I had to walk a little ways to wear the pick up center was. I did not realize that the DLR (docklands light rail), another train, stopped right in front of where I needed to be. So of course, on my walk, I got lost.

It really was a simple walk and I knew I walked right past the street I had to turn on. I looked down the unidentified road and thought "wow that road looks shady"' there was no one walking down the street, which in London is rare; and I walked past it. I was by myself and slightly scared of walking down that road myself. But finally I had no choice because the place I needed to be was down there. I pulled out my ipad every now and the to look at the map and would get nervous about the area and put it away quickly. So I finally got there and got my ID, and uniform. My ID picture looks pretty much like a mug shot, very similar to the athlete photos that have been popping up.

After getting everything I needed I met Cassie, her dad, and her sister again at Westminster. We just walked around and took photos of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the London Eye, Big Ben and other sites in the area. During our time out it rained quite a bit somit was good i had picked up my uniform as i got an umbrealla with it. When I left them, because my bags were getting heavy from carrying everything I got when picking up my uniform, I got some groceries and went back to the flat to skype my family.

Overall it was a good day despite fearing for my life when walking to pick up my uniform.

First Impressions

Well now that I've adjusted to being in London for two whole nights I can go back over my weekend and say that I love it here! I like the city of London, the people, the transportation. There are so many great things about this city and being here during the Olympics just adds to it.

Now that I have declared my love for London I can recount my weekend.

Saturday, after arriving at my hosts house and meeting her and her family, I quickly "freshened up" (in actuality I just brushed my teeth), and went off with my host, Cassie, (and her dad and sister) to Portobello Market. It's basically a 2-3 mile long farmers market. They had a lot of fresh fruit and vegetable vendors, antiques, teas, lots of hats, it went on and on. It was enjoyable, very busy, but I was so tired I probably looked like a zombie. I bought some white cherries, 1 lb. for 1pound 50. It gets confusing when trying to tell someone how much things cost; "1 pound for a pound".

After the market we dropped things off at the "flat" and went back out to buy me a cell phone and to dinner.  For dinner we went to a pub. The front of the building is an actual pub, the back is a Thai restaurant, which in my opinion is an odd combination, but the food was great! We finished about 4 or 5 and Cassie wanted to continue walking around and do more things with her family. I decided it would be best for me to go back and take a nap at the apartment, considering I almost put my face in my food at dinner. It was quite a struggle not to fall asleep.

Back at Cassie's I took a nap for about an hour. I didn't want sleep too long because I still had to sleep through the night. When I woke up I watched Michael Phelps compete and wrote the previous blog about my traveling experience :D. so if you didn't read it you should. When Cassie returned we watched the rest of the swim heats and the opening ceremonies, as they had also missed them due to other commitments.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Traveling to London

Well after an extremely long day I am in London, at the apartment I will be staying at. Let's start with my trip. It actually was quite uneventful and boring. I took a coach bus from Milwaukee to Chicago O'hare airport. It took about an hour and a half. Not too bad. Once I got to the airport I went though security very quickly. It took maybe all of 10 minutes, which is quite great. I was at the airport at 12:45 and my flight was scheduled to leave at 3:50. To waste some time I got some Starbucks and sat at the gate and read a book. The flight ended up being delayed until 4:20. Not a bad, long delay, and we started boarding about 3:30. I got on the plane, got to my seat and settled in and finally I started to get excited and the feeling of butterflies in my stomach. Suddenly theres a click and we hear, "Sorry for the original delay folks, this is your captain. I'll update you on what's going on. The original problem has been fixed but the refrigerators are broken and need to be fixed. I'll update you as we get information." No big deal. This should be an ok fix and not take too long. Nope. They didn't have the part they needed. So finally we push back at about 6:20. Only a 3ish hour delay. Made an already 8 hour flight into 11 hours since we were on the plane the whole time. But the captain was great and the actual flight in air time was only 7 hours. Fortunately I had some friends willing to pick me up at the airport and the last leg of my flight to the flat where I'm staying was enjoyable catching up with old friends and making new ones. Now I'm sitting in the living room in the flat I'm staying in watching Michael Phelps swim.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2.5 Days to Go

Today marks two days until I board a plane to go to London so I can volunteer for the Olympics. Yesterday I said goodbye to my parents and for the time I have until my flight I will be packing, cleaning, and doing all sorts of other preparations.Yesterday my parents took me to dinner before their own trip to Atlanta to pick up my little sister. It was great to spend time with them and of course felt
completely comfortable until they dropped me back off at the UWM dorms, which have been my home for the summer. While saying goodbye I suddenly felt very sad and lonely. It dawned on me that for all other trips I have made one or both of my parents have been there for the initial departure. At least I typically see them on the day I leave.

This time is different.

They left first and when I move out of the dorms I will be going home to an empty house, not counting the dogs, and it will be eerily quiet. I will pack my suitcase with no one around to get advice about my clothing, what I shouldn't travel without, or what I should most definitely leave behind. I'm sure this is a
common traveling process for most people, to pack without input from others, or on their own, and while my parents do not pack for me, they have always been in the house. My family is close, so it will be quite a different send off as I embark on one of the most important trips of my career/life.

Bittersweet you could say. Despite being thoroughly excited, and having knowledge of multiple people and families praying for me, this is a different way to experience leaving the country. Right now I don't like it. 

On the bright side I should be able to get my to do list completed without interruption. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I meant to write a new entry when I had 10 days to go but now I'm only nine days away from leaving to go to London for the Summer Olympics. More and more every day publicity for Olympians and the Olympic Games are becoming more frequent. It makes me pretty excited actually. I honestly hadn't been super excited up till now, more nervous than anything, but now I'm definitely excited.

There aren't many more preparations that I need to make. I got the address for the place I will be staying while in London, I have a flight there and back, I have gotten donations to fund my trip, and now I just have to get there. Of course I still need to pick up my uniform and accreditation information. But that will happen the day after my arrival.
Honestly I don't have much to report at the moment. I'm sure I will have more to say next week.

In the meantime does anyone have any recommendations for what to do in London when I'm not volunteering???

Monday, July 9, 2012


There are only 17 days left until I board a plane bound for London. 17 days until Team USA walks into the stadium and presents the U.S. flag to the world and athletes from all over the world compete for the title of the best, fastest, strongest, etc.
I will, of course, be sleeping on a plane while the opening ceremonies take place. I will catch the highlights later I'm sure. The Opening Ceremonies are exciting, although they can drag on. But you get to see the countries that are competing, hear the announcers talk about the favorites to win and where the most exciting competitions will be...it can be pretty exhilarating.
Last week a few donations came in pretty quickly and it was quite exciting. I am now very close to my initial goal of funds for this trip. As I continue to prepare I kind of have a running list, in my head, of things to bring/not forget. But I also keep thinking as long as I have my passport and border pass letter (I did not need a Visa but a special letter from the director of Olympic volunteer's to "work" in England), I won't need much else.
I am also trying to think of things/places to see in the week leading up to my volunteering. I'm really hoping I can connect with some of my contacts for Team USA and get into some venues with them, but if not I need to have some ideas for touristy things.
As I get closer to the date I get more excited and more nervous. I'll probably forget something slightly important.