A Travellerspoint blog

Living in London for the Summer - Entry 5 Heat Alert

Heat Alert

Hi Everyone!

I am just emailing to give you all a quick update on an emergency sitch over here- I went out for lunch today and as I was walking by all the newspaper stands I saw signs that read "HEAT ALERT" in large bold letters- now maybe it's just me but when I walk outside and it's around 80 degrees- maybe 85 but probably not- I think "wow, it's a nice day." And if I'm in London and I walk outside at this temperature I think "hot damn, this is NICE!" What doesn't come to mind is a "HEAT ALERT"- I feel like a sunny day in London is getting as much press as the Tsunami in Thailand. And it's not just in the papers- all the tube stations are filled with signs instructing people WHAT TO DO in the heat- like it's an earthquake evaluation or something. Crickey (as they say here)! They also have signs in the tube stations reminding people to drink water- okay.... well don't humans know to drink water anyways. I don't feel like I need a reminder to drink water if I'm thirsty just because the sun finally came out! I love it how in London the weather report is often "there is a chance of sun" instead of a "chance of rain"- so when it gets hot it's like a natural disaster!

In other news- last weekend was GREAT! I went out with a few friends from London I met here previously- it was a "Girls Night Out"- only it made me feel very young because other than my friend Ashley (who is my age)- a few of the other girls were out because they had just dropped off their kids at the prom and wanted to get a few drinks and some dancing in themselves before the prom was over. It was so cute going out with all the moms- as soon as they got a few drinks in them, instead of gossiping about guys- they were showing off pictures of their kids. On Saturday I went to watch the England v. Portugal game- and England lost. Damn it- no more opportunities to leave work early to watch the game- but that's okay.... it was funny to see grown men crying and people SOOOOOO upset over the game (I was pretty sad myself because it would have been fun to see them win...) Also- as soon as they lost I could hear sirens going off and police were running around (going to break up fights I suppose).

Lastly- I just found out that on Wednesday I'm going to EGYPT for work!!! We are doing an IPO (initial public offering) over there and one of the attorneys from our Paris office couldn't make it and they needed an extra person- so my boss decided to let me go instead of her! How nice! I am SO excited (plus we get to fly First Class and stay at the Four Seasons in Cairo- not too shabby!) ! I've been running around all day getting everything together to get a last minute visa. It does mean I am going to have another crazy weekend- I'm going to Egypt on Wednesday and getting back Friday morning- hopefully our plane won't be delayed because 3 hours later I need to get to another airport and go to Spain for the Running of the Bulls. Then I get back Saturday night and have to wake up Sunday to fly to Scotland for the day. I can't wait!

Hope everyone is doing well and don't get worried about me if you hear about the HEAT ALERT on the news because I am well versed in handling these types of situations....

Sarah

Posted by bjmorris14 12:04 Comments (0)

Living in London for the Summer - Entry 4

Mixed Hockey

Now I'm calling this email "Mixed Hockey" because I'm wondering what first comes to mind when you get an email with a subject matter "mixed hockey." I am just sitting at work, just finished up a project when I received this email to my work account. I love the Brits- apparently I was invited to play "mixed hockey" with Citigroup- one of our key
clients. I don't want to play- but even if I did the problem is that I don't know what "mixed hockey" is-? does Mixed mean it's co-ed? And what is it? field hockey?- but I thought only girls play field hockey. But what really made me laugh is this follow-up email about the BIG "Mixed Hockey" game:

Hi all,

The deal is we just have a fun run around (no hockey talent is required - we even invite Ruth to play) so even if you've never played before just come down if you fancy a hit. It's not really that competitive!

We can provide sticks if you need one, and there is free food and drink on offer afterwards.

Let me know if you're keen.

Dan

Something about a "fun run around" and choosing to do something because I'm "keen"- which for some odd reason makes me think of my mom listening to a Beach Boys record as a teenager. Maybe it's not really that funny but to tell you the truth, I have nothing better to do than to spend a few minutes laughing about all of this- because I'm waiting until it's time to go to "PUB QUIZ NIGHT" with the British trainees-(one of the cool things about doing a summer at a British firm is that we have 2 sets of summer events- really good events for the US summer associates- like trips to Poland, we are going to see the Producers next week AND my all time favorite event (although we haven't done it yet and we can't technically call it a "summer event" due to liabiltiy purposes- THE RUNNING OF THE BULLS IN PAMPOLONA, SPAIN!!!!!!!

That's right folks. In 2 weeks, I will be at the Running of the Bulls for 24 hours with my boss, her husband and the infamous Gabe (or Gabriel- as he prefers to be called but I'm not going to waste all my time calling him by the proper East Coast version of his name when plain old Gabe works for everyone in California). It should be interesting, because although I don't plan to run with the bulls, Jeff does (my boss's husband)- which I guess is why for liability purposes this is not a "firm event"- like if Jeff convinces us to run (which he won't- I would never do it and Gabe isn't exactly fit to do it if you know what I mean) and we get gored (which usually happens to drunk English people- last year 200 people were injured and a few died as well).

When we found out Jeff would be RUNNING with the bulls Gabe said, "well that makes sense because Jeff grew up in Oklahoma and so he must have experience running away from barn animals." OK... Maybe Jeff did spend a lot of time running with goats when he was younger, but I doubt he has ever ran with any animals that have the potential of goring you- I think Gabe just said that because it gives him a good excuse as to why Jeff will run and he won't (not to stereotype or anything but I think it's because Gabe's a croquet player, not a rock star). Which reminds me of something I would really like to do (a main goal for the summer)-is to learn how to play Croquet.

Talk about doing things when the opporutnity comes up- Gabe was the Pres. at one of the top CROQUET teams in the country- maybe even on earth. And lets be honest here- croquet is "a very agressive sport"- at least that
is what he told me a few days ago. But he also says "croquet is a mix between golf and chess"- now maybe it's just me but those two phrases don't really seem to mesh in my mind- how can a sport be "very agressive" (which makes me think of rugby) and also "a mix between golf and chess" (which makes me think of a tea party) But I need to take advantage- just like taking advantage of traveling- this may be my only op to learn how to play croquet- (a sport that seems completely boring and useless and is never going to help Gabe or anyone else "get in shape")

Since I literally have nothing better to do at the moment (not to make anyone jealous or to go over this again but I already have planned an itinerary for the rest of my summer which I want to go over again so that I feel like I'm being productive at work and so I can get excited. It includes

WEEKEND TRIPS WHILE I'M WORKING TO:

(1)Pamplona,Spain;
(2)Glasgow, Scotland;
(3)Geneva, Switzerland;
(4)Paris;
(5)Sevilla, Spain;

in that order and then...

FOR 3 WEEKS AFTER I STOP WORKING I'M GOING TO:
(1) Dublin, Ireland;
(2) Greece;
(3) Cinque Terra, Italy;
(4) 10 more days in SPAIN (my third trip to Spain this summer)!!!!!!

Looks like I'm addicted to traveling...

Okay- since I'm writing this email to entertain myself- you can stop reading here if you are bored. If not, I'm going to go into more detail about one more thing I love about Gabe (now I kind of feel like I'm writing an US Weekly column about Gabe and the truth is that he is a nice guy, and like my dad said ("it's nice you have someone to travel
and hang out with- yeah it's nice to have someone to go to lunch with but at the same time it might be a lot NICER if it was someone who didn't occasionally make me sick just looking at them)- Ok I'll be nicer- I don't mind working with him (except when he makes wierd elephant noises while he blows his nose- which happens A LOT)- BLAH BLAH BLAH BUT like I said- I have NOTHING better to do (but wait to go to another typical night in London at THE PUB) and this is making me laugh...

1) Gabe has been "SICK" for the last 2 weeks- which consists of him adopting the MOST disgusting habits I have ever seen (more like ever heard but anyways)- he sits at his desk all day (or at lunch or wherever the F we are) blowing his brains out- I mean blowing your nose is okay but this is just not normal. He makes these elephant noises. Literally- I have no clue how such loud nose blows can come from such a little man. And I sit 3 offices away from him (the partner Tom sits in between us- so the other day Sabrina and I were wondering- if we can hear the noises so clearly what does Tom think?)

EVEN worse than the blowing is the hawking noises he makes (which are so gross I cannot EVEN describe them)- all I know is that I need to shut the door to my office all the time because I almost barf everytime I hear him.

So the other day he came into my office to ask me if the noises he makes are bothering me (he said all his roomates complained a lot about his sick noises last year)- well let's see- "bothering me" would be an understatement- they literally make me want to throw up and EVERYTIME he does it when I am near him (like at lunch) it RUINS my meal AND a lot of the time if we are hangin and he makes these noises I have to stop looking at him for a few minutes. Like I literally just look ahead and not at him when I talk to him in fear of getting sick all over him.

2)Gabe's favorite class is CON LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (my LEAST favorite class I have ever taken in my life ever ever ever- except possibly organic chemistry- but that was more like Chinese) AND the entire reason he went to law school period end of sentence was to LEARN CON LAW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He got a bad grade in Con Law (bottom 10% at
Harvard)today and was really hurt inside (I totally understand because since Con law was my favorite class I almost wet my pants when I saw I only got a P in that class).... I tried to consol him but what do I say-basically you go to Harvard so who really cares. I guess he got a B-(which apparently nobody gets at Harvard, it means you are in the
bottom 10% of your class and the Professor has to get explicit permission from the dean to give out a B-. Isn't that nuts? At a lot of law schools you are LUCKY to get a B-)

Okay- that's all that is bothering me for now- now that I got that out of my system I only have 45 minutes left until Pub Quiz night. In case anyone is concerned about not being able to learn more about Gabe (a figure you have never met)- it won't be a problem. Everyday there is something new that bothers me and I'm sure I can give you more info as more disgusting events arise (which makes me think of one other thing he does that makes me want to run away from him- he's always putting his fingers in his mouth and sucking them, then grabbing my food.
EWWWWWWWWWWWW.... and he's always trying to hook up with girls and sleaze on everyone and all I can think is- I really want to tell him that if he wants to get a girl he should clean up some of his habits.

I mean, honestly this is not the kind of behavior I would have expected from someone with an Ivy League education and experiences playing dumb "sports" - if you can even call Croquet a sport- maybe it's just me but JEEZ!

Hope everyone is doing GREAT!

Sarah

Posted by bjmorris14 11:58 Comments (0)

Living in London for the Summer - Entry 3 Traveling Around

Montenegro, Bosnia, Croatia and Ace of Base- all in one day!

Hi Everyone!!!

I just got back from my weekend trip which was AMAZING! Somehow I managed to fit three countries and more experiences into 36 hours in Croatia then I could have imagined would be possible in a week. My new gay best friend Gabe and I (well he's not actually gay but I just think of him as a gay guy for some reason) arrived in Crotia at 11pm Friday night- while we were at work on Friday we figured out that Montenegro was not far from the airport in Croatia so we arranged for a taxi to pick us up and drive us to Montenegro (a 2 hour drive) to a town called Kotor- which was absolutely beautiful! When we got there we asked to be driven to a hotel, but it turned out that there were no cars allowed in the city so we got dropped off at the city walls and wandered inside where the nightlife was just wrapping up at around 1am. Kotor is known to be the most beautiful fjord in Europe (a bay that was created by glaciers)- it is surrounded by lush mountains and an impressive wall (which was used to keep the Turks out), the bay water is beautiful and perfect for swimming. The town itself felt like a medival village with tiny streets lined and no cars. It was also great to be in a place where there were hardly any tourists and lots of energy (as everyone there is still excited about Montenegro's independence- they only seperated from Serbia May 21st)!

After finding a hotel with no air conditioning (which was fine) and no fan (which was not really ok considering it was so damn hot) we went to check out the nightlife. We walked around, checked out a bar for a few minutes and then got a piece of pizza. In the plaza a guy came up to us and started telling us how he could get us "anything" we wanted- then he said "I can even get you"- then as he covered my ears (just like the Ear Muff scene in Old School) "prostitutes-" he told Gabe. It was hilarious!

That night I got about 1 hour of sleep because it was SO hot and I could feel mosquitos biting me all night long- I woke up with about 15 bites- but I kept thinking the entire time that it wasn't as bad as a night I spent in Thailand in 100 degree weather with high humidity, a fan that barely worked and bed bugs that I could feel bite me all night long- absolute hell....

The next morning we woke up and walked around the town for a few hours- then got a cab that was suppose to take us to Croatia but instead we asked how far Bosnia was and after figuring out that the nearest town was only 30 minutes from where we were going in Croatia- we decided to stop in Bosnia for coffee. It was a very interesting cab drive because our cab driver was Crotian, but lived in Montenegro- and when the Serbs invaded Croatia in 1991- he was suppose to fight in the war but he refused to bomb his own country- especially because he had family that lived there- so he was thrown in jail in Kotor, Montenegro for awhile. On the way to Bosnia he kept asking us if we were sure that we wanted to go there (he didn't seem too excited about it) and I kept telling him that it was important for us to see it since it was so close.

When we finally drove into Bosnia, we entered a Serbian part of the country (the country is divided into Serbian, Croatian and Muslim parts and we were apparently going into the one part of the country that wasn't the best place for Americans to be) and our cab driver got a little bit tense (because he HATES Serbians and they bombed the Croats not too long ago). It was immediately apparent that we were in a country that wasn't as developed as Crotia or Montenegro when we passed the old military barracks, buildings that were covered in bullets and many landmines on the side of the road (there were signs indicating where the landmines were- Gabe wanted to get out and take a picture- but it wasn't such a good idea...).

We finally arrived in a town called Tejeb........ (I don't remember what it was called)- we got out and went into a grocery store where we bought bottles of Bosnian wine (I don't know why- I guess I just wanted to buy something there and that was the only thing worth buying). When we got out of the grocery store we were about to go to a cafe when our cab driver grabbed us and told us that we needed to leave immediately- he said everyone was vicously starring at us and he was afraid they would do something to us (obviously Americans aren't the most popular group of people after we bombed the Serbians- and because it was only a few years ago- it seemed like everyone there had remembered.)- so we left.

I'm glad that we got out of there safely, I can't really tell you what would have happened, especially considering that Bosnia isn't a popular American tourist destination- but I did embrace the feeling of being somewhere, and looking around at an entire group of people, all who wanted to kill me for things that I had no control over. It was an interesting few minutes to say the least.

After crossing the border back to Croatia, our cab driver felt more at ease (especially because we had also illegally brought wine back into the country).... We arrived in Dubrovnik about 30 minutes later. Dubrovnik was absolutely breath taking- it was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen- it is a walled city right on the water, and the old town was amazing- small streets and plazas- it was similar to Kotor but slightly larger even more amazing. We took a walking tour of the city walls and saw some of the most spectacular views of the surrounding city, walls and islands (Croatia has 186 small islands).

That night we wandered into a few interesting events- a beauty pagent with around 20 young girls- each representing different Eastern European countries- all taking place in the center of the old town. Then we saw a wedding (and in the processions there the bride and groom and all their guests walk around the town- like they are in a parade, and everyone cheers them on. It was beautiful!

There aren't a lot of sandy beaches in Dubrovnik, there are some right outside the city. Most of the beaches are rocky- although the water is still perfect, many people go to these bars and inlets on the side of the cliffs where you can walk down a few steps (or jump from a rock above) into the ocean- it is spectacular. The water is clear, blue and perfect!!

Later that night we walked around and found a random Medival Festival in the city which was quite interesting- little girls were doing fortune telling, they had medival games and food and there was a choir all dressed up in traditional Croatian peasant clothing.

After that we met these two girls who were in Dubrovnik as engineers on a ship for the summer and we decided to go with them to the East-West Club- supposedly the coolest club in the city. I wasn't so excited to go there considering I was really tired- but Gabe is always hoping to hook up with some girl (although I have yet to see it work out for him)- so we went. It was a really cool club on the beach, and the weather was perfect of course. They were playing all 90's music and later one of the club owners came up to me and told me that the DJ was none other than one of the members of ACE OF BASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! How funny! Now just in case anyone doesn't know who Ace of Base is- (like my mom for example)- they were a really crappy Swedish band in the 90s and although their lead singer was a girl- I would equate them to the 90s version of The Backstreet Boys.

I couldn't stop laughing- he was your typical Swedish boy band cheese ball- but I had to get a picture so I went up to him, asked for a picture, and when he shook my hand he held on to it for a few minutes, asking me questions about where I was from, what I was doing in Croatia and I talked to him about being in Ace of Base. It was so funny- all I wanted to do was request him to play "All that she wants is another baby, she's gone tommorrow but all that she wants is another baby........" their hit song!!!! In 7th grade I would have had a heart attack talking to this guy- but yesterday all I could think was - you are the ultimate 90s CHEESE- Gabe got quite a kick out of it- he took a thousand pictures and even a video!!!! The pictures are hilarious!!!

After a VERY eventful day- we finally went to sleep in our room that we rented in a Croatian woman's house (it was much cheaper and more authentic than staying in a hotel)- we got home at around 2am and grandma woke up and said good-night to us in Croatian. We woke up 4 hours later- not feeling great and somehow made it to the airport. We got there a little late and unfortunetly had to get upgraded to 1st Class!!!!!!!!! Hey!!!!!!!!!! I was super excited- it made me feel better instantly.

The plane ride back was good and all I can think now is how amazing it is to spend a summer in London- I really feel like I am in the center of the world- I can take a 2 hour flight and be in Croatia- or take a 2 1/2 hour train and be in Paris- I can get anywhere from here- plus London is amazing enough in and of itself- why would you ever want to leave (in the summer that is- the winter is a whole other story).

Take Care Everyone! Write me if you have time!
Sarah

Posted by bjmorris14 12:00 Comments (0)

Living in London for the Summer - Entry 2 Travel Preview

More traveling...

It's Friday at work and I must admit- my life is pretty rough. I've been here since 9:30 and in case anyone wants to keep up to date with my schedule- in 3 hours I'm leaving early to go to Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro (Montenegro is the world's newest country- only 2 weeks old- pretty cool, huh?) and possibly also Bosnia. It turns out that Montenegro is suppose to be amazing and less touristy than Crotia so when I get into Croatia tonight- I'm heading over to Montenegro to spend one night and part of a day, then tommorrow we will get a taxi into Dubrovnik, Croatia (and hopefully make a quick stop in Bosnia on the way- just to see it if it's not to far.) Once we get to Dubrovnik we will take a short ferry to spend some time on the beach on a little island named Hvar, then we will spend the rest of the weekend in Dubrovnik, which is suppose to be beautiful.

Here is some info about Montenegro in case anyone is interested:

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/21/travel/21frugaltraveler.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

There is just so much I want to say- I don't quite know where to start
so I guess chronological order will do for now. I'm at work and just
finished drafting a No Registration Opionion which
sounds really fancy but in reality is just your typical corporate
lawyer task- cutting and pasting. I know that litigation attorneys use
precedent cases but they don't get paid at least $500 an hour to
straight up start with an old document and change the names, dates and
a few other minor things which they can then charge thousands of
dollars for. But it's true- people spend 20 YEARS of their lives in
school racking up degrees so that they can just play a high stakes
version of Mad Libs. Hey, I can't complain- cutting and pasting is
fun!!! Plus- someone forwarded me a copy of five documents in French to
help me out- which was SUPER helpful considering I understand about 5
words in French!

Okay on to the interesting stuff. POLAND! Well, Poland turned out to be
quite an experience. We started off the trip like a typical
team of attorneys from a British firm- at the bar. We got to the
airport at around 9am and as soon as we passed through security- we hit
up the bar for a few mimosas. Poland was technically a business trip-
the entire purpose of the trip was for Todd (with the help of Sabrina)
to give a pitch to some very important clients (the heads of corporate
finance departments of major investment banks but it turned out
that "work" didn't seem to be on anyone's agenda for more than 1 hour
of the entire 3 days. In fact- out of the four employees and one spouse
who were sent on a fancy all expense paid trip to Poland- only one of
us ended up working AT ALL- and that was only for literally 30 minutes-
I kid you not. Basically I have a lot more interesting stories from Poland- so interesting that I don't feel comfortable writing about them from work so I'll just wait until later to fill you in on the interesting and VERY funny details from Poland.

con.......

Last weekend Brett came to visit and we had the BEST weekend! He got
here on a Thursday and I took off work (since it's a British firm even
the summer associates get 5 days of paid vacation on top of the other
British holidays). We went to watch England in their second World Cup
Game at a pub- which was especially good because they won. Then we went to meet up with my co-workers at another pub (because obviously work ends early on World Cup Game Days so that the British can do what they best- drink and watch soccer). That night we walked around London-
which was great because I think London is the most beautiful city at
night- especially near my flat around the Tower Bridge and the Tower of
London.

The next day we went walked around Notting Hill. That night we met up
with some friends at LoungeLover- the coolest bar I have EVER been to-
there are big torches outside and the decor inside is amazing! Plus
they had the best drinks- including one with Wasabi and Ginger that was
SOOOO good! The funny thing was you had to make a reservation just to
go to the bar for drinks- wierd. Then we went out in Soho which was
really fun!

Saturday we went to a beautiful park near Buckingham Palace and took a
nap there which was GREAT!!! That night we went to this resturant called Dans Le Noir (In the Dark) which is a French resturant which was started in Paris and then they opened up one in London- the theme is basically
being blind which sounds really messed up (according to some people)
but was actually REALLY cool! All the waiters are blind and when you
first go in they take you to a bar (which is lit) where you can choose
what you want to order (either anything off the menu or ''The Surprize
Menu'' where you don't know what you are ordering). We choose the
Surprize Menu. The point of the resturant is to give you the experience
of being blind and also because when you can't see your other senses
are suppose to be heightened so it should be easier to taste, smell,
etc...

The dining room is PITCH BLACK- you literally CANNOT see your hand in
front of your face. So your blind waiter leads you in (you have to hold
onto his shoulder) and you can't get up during the meal without his
assistance- so if you need to use the restroom you have to yell his
name ("Liam" in our case if you were wondering). You sit down at a
table and it is one of the strangest experiences I have ever had. It is
especially hard to pour champagne when you can't see but that's a
different story. I must admit it's a pretty clever idea for a resturant
to sell you bottles of alcohol in the complete darkness because chances
are you are going to spill the entire thing and end up ordering more.
Pretty tricky how they pour the water for you but they make you pour
your own wine/champagne/whatever pretending it's all "part of the
experience"........ Hmm.........

I had a hard time figuring out what the appetizer was- but Brett
figured it out- it turned out to be tiger prawns with Thai mango sauce.
The main course was easier to distinguish- lamb- but harder to cut up
and at one point I may have had my entire meal in my lap- but that was
all part of the experience. That entire description was given because
I'm sure all my friends at home reading this email are just absolutely
on the edges of their seats right now waiting to hear what I ate for
desert on Saturday night- especially after hearing about the first two
courses- well here it is: the desert was also easier to identify
because it contained chocolate and raspberry. All in all it was a great
experience- something I would recommend doing just once.

So to sum things up- work is still going REALLY WELL (especially since
we left work early this week for various reasons including- for yet another British event- ENGLAND v. SWEDEN in the WORLD CUP- at guess where- a PUB!!! More drinks on the firm--- the usual), the people I work with are all GREAT and really "interesting" as well (more info on them later) Poland was a good time, Brett and I had an incredible weekend (of course), the weather in London is only getting better (it's been mid- 70s to 80s here recently which makes me love the city so much
more).

Now I'm off to Croatia. I also am going to Geneva,
Switzerland for a weekend in July because Gabe's friend from Harvard is
working for the UN there and we can stay with her for free (and the
ticket was only $120- so I figured now is the time to see Switzerland); Sevilla for a weekend (one of my favorite cities in the world) to visit some friends; I also bought a ticket today on Ryanair to Glasgow, Scotland for a weekend in July which cost me 1 pent (2 cents) each way plus taxes (about 50 dollars total)- you got to love the cheap airlines over here (just so I can take a quick trip by myself and get some time away from a certain someone who continues to drive me NUTS)... But I can't
complain- my life is GOOD!!!!

Posted by bjmorris14 09:38 Comments (0)

Living in London for the Summer - Entry 1

Stories

I am still loving my job over here! It's so interesting and living in London is brilliant! I'm working on a Greek deal right now which is really cool and the lifestyle is GREAT!!! Besides me and Gabe (the other summer associate) there is one partner and two associates we work with- so only 5 US Corporate Fiannce attorneys/summer associates (we are the only US group in the firm) but there are more than 500 attorneys in the firm which is quite a different experience from the law firm I worked at in college. Especially because we do so much work with our international offices that we get constant reminders of things like: computer systems crashing in Dubai and office holidays in China.... always good to know.

Life is pretty laid back around here for US attorneys- I feel like I've discovered the only existing work-life balance big firm for US lawyers- for example- while many of the big firms in the US require 2200 billable hours a year- or more (aka- you are working at least 12 hours a day in a high paying sweat shop)- here I checked the hours that Sabrina (the associate I work for) billed last year- which including her holidays (and they get 3 weeks vacation which they actually take here- unlike in the US)- was 998 hours in one year! That number may be irrelevant for anyone who is not in law school- but anyone who is in law school would understand how crazy that is- and those 998 hours in one year include the 3 weeks of holiday (7 hours a day) and other non-billable time recorded. CRAZY!!! Especially considering the fact that the first year associates are starting out making $160,000 a year!

And it doesn't end there- on Friday I didn't yet have a new assignment so I was given something else to do- go shopping- Sabrina gave me a pass to a GREAT sample sale and I spent a few hours in the afternoon there- not a bad way to get paid! And it wasn't just me- all the attorneys took a few hours off in the afternoon for the shopping trip- something you would NEVER see in the US!

The other great thing is that the other day we had a full day of training- in British Law- which we don't really need to know. I think they basically sent us to the wrong training- so after about 8 hours of listening to completely British law I will never need to use- in a room with Gabe and about 30 British associates- it was our moment of fame- the trainer said- here is the US law equivalent (so 5 seconds out of 8 hours of training that applied to us) and the trainer looked over at Gabe and I and Gabe was sleeping- it was SO funny- I could not stop laughing. But again- it wasn't a bad way to spend a day!

Another thing I LOVE about London is TEA TIME!!! There is a woman named Jackie who is the Corproate Finance Team's designated tea lady- her job is to go around with a tea cart twice in the morning and once in the afternoon and bring you tea (or coffee if you want- but tea is so much better :))- She is around 65 and really cute- she calls everyone ''love'' and when she is not working the tea cart she sits at a cubicle and plays Gameboy- it is SOOOOO funny- this cute old proper grandmother looking woman plays gameboy in her spare time- I LOVE IT!!!

Not only do we have 3 tea times during the day- we also have tea every hour and a half each time we are in a meeting or training- they stop it for tea time......... and they also bring sparkling water (which I love)- it's great fun! (plus it makes me feel authentic)...

All these perks do need to be contrasted with things about London that aren't ideal: namely (1) the prices, (2) the weather and (3) the healthy lifestyle choices avoided by most Londoners;

THE WEATHER:

So apparently I thought the Bay Area was a really cold place to grow up- that was until I came to London a few times last year in the winter- and even in the summer- I have never been so cold in my life. Something about wearing a suit, and a wool coat with a hood on in the summer- and still being cold- just doesn't seem right to me. But I'll be okay! It's not a shocker that a British girl said to me ''I can tell you are not from here because you have great teeth and you smile too much!'' Yeah- my teeth aren't pale yellow because I haven't spent the majority of my adult life either (a) smoking 2 packs a day or (b) being in pubs with people who are smoking two packs a day right smack next to me

The weather was BEAUTIFUL last weekend- I spent the weekend going to some outdoor parties and went to the park which was gorgeous!!! It was as hot as CA!!!!

HEALTH IN LONDON:

To put it politely, London is not the most health conscious city I have ever experienced. Aside from the common diet of fried food and beer- London has a few good things to offer (the best Indian food I have EVER had- pomegranets that are still in season- (I almost fainted when I saw them since they are one of my all time favorite foods)- and THE BEST YOGURT I have ever had- I don't know why it's so much better than in the US but it is!!!).

But let's be honest here: Londoners are not the healthiest bunch of people on the planet. Neither are the Scottish- one fun fact I learned here is that in Scotland there was a lot of complaints awhile back because social security (their equivalent) was kicking in at age 65 but the average life expectancy of men in Glasgow was much less than that (something around 60 I think)----- hmmmmmmm I wonder why- maybe it's because they wake up eating ham and other pig products- then go to work for a few hours- then it's time for a nice lunch at the pub (I don't know about Glasgow but in London if you go to a resturant at lunch in the financial district- and you are not drinking beer or wine- you are kind of a novelty)- then after work they hit up the pub again for a few hours with their co-workers- and this is all during the week.

I don't quite understand how these people manage to wake up in the morning after so much drinking- but apparently things get done here and the Londoners are considered really ''uptight'' compared to the rest of the Europeans. Even when lunch is catered at work- they are not too sensitive to the needs of people that don't want to die from a heart attack before age 60. For the past two days I have had catered lunch at work (during training and meetings)- which at the outset looked pretty tasty- an array of sandwiches- Salmon, Turkey, Roast Beef, Chicken, etc.... but once I started to bite in I was in for a big surprize- althuogh it seemed that I had a lot of sandwich choices there were really only 2 main choices when it came down to it- (1) butter or (2) mayo--------- They ruined perfectly good sandwiches and instead of having the meat being the main attraction in the sandwich- it was the butter or the mayo- SERIOUSLY- there was more butter or mayo on each sandwich than meat! And you wonder why people here don't look so fit! What if I just feel like having a sandwich and putting my own condiments on it- if I wanted a stick of butter with my turkey I think I could just put it on myself.

Another thing I like about London's health conscious society: the gym here. To start with- it's not cheap. I wanted to go to a gym near my house and I had two options ($360 for 3 months for the crappiest gym I have EVER seen in my life- with about 3 machines and as much room as a closet OR $500 for 3 months for a nice gym- which I opted for). Normally the firm pays for your gym membership but since I am only here for 3 months- I had to pay- what a bargain!!!!!!!!!! $500 for a gym for 3 months! It's only 5 times the price of my gym at home (literally)!!!

When I asked the HR person at work about a gym it took her awhile to get back to me because I was ''the first person to ever ask for a gym membership'' - while only being here for the summer- and even though there are lots of other British ''trainees''- somehow this doesn't surprize me.

Going to the gym itself was another interesting situation- they showed me around the gym like I didn't know what weights were or what ''spinning'' is- and then when I went to my first spinning class- I was quite surprized- now I have been to spinning classes in the US at about 4 different gyms, and in Brazil and Spain but never have I had quite the same experience as I had here in London. Instead of the spinning instructor sitting on the bike in the front of the class- riding along with us- motivating us- keeping her class on track- she just stood next to the bike- telling us what to do as she yawned hunched over. It was so funny! Talk about a motivational workout. And you wonder why the spinning instructor was slightly obese......

Also- yesterday I went to a yoga class at the gym- which in the US is mostly usually all girls and a few guys- but not here! I was the only girl in the class- a bit bizarre.

Another thing that is really popular over here is FRIED CHICKEN!!!!!! It's not enough to have a KFC every few blocks- they also have a place called ''American Fried Chicken'' on almost all the blocks where there is not a KFC- which is always packing with people. Now I understand the line out the door concept at lunch for places like Intermezzo in Berkeley- where you can get a huge fresh salad but what I don't understand is the out the door line I see every day at ''American Fried Chicken''- are these people kidding me? Maybe it's just because fried chicken is my LEAST favorite food- and just looking at the place makes me ill- but still,..... I feel like I should go there at lunch and hand out a nutritional information flier.


That's all for now- tommorrow I'm off to Poland and I'm sure I'll find some interesting things over there! I hope everyone is doing well! Give me an update if you have time!

Take Care,
Sarah

Posted by bjmorris14 11:57 Comments (0)

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