While visiting family in England recently, I quickly discovered that this year I was entering a much different atmosphere than usual -- the adding of new buildings and decorations, a new-found excitement and spirit in people's attitudes, and the amazing amount of diverse visitors.
London is hosting the 2012 Olympics, therefore, after a lot of preparation and anticipation, Olympians from all over the world were getting settled for the Games to begin.
Whether it's being engulfed in the infinite historic aspects of the overall Olympics, or finding yourself submerged deep within racks full of unique designer clothes from all around the world, teens with different perspectives and interests will be intrigued in this summer's Olympics -- which continue through Aug. 12 -- for various reasons.
For the shopaholics
The hearts of all self-proclaimed shopaholics who love everything about clothes, shoes and accessories will absolutely drop in awe at the Westfield Shopping Centre. The mall -- specifically built in recognition and appreciation of the worldwide guests of the 2012 Olympics -- overlooks the Olympic Village and is home to more than 300 stores.
Consisting of both high-street and designer labels, this mall grasps attention with its multi-cultural mixture of brands and fashion. Besides splurging on material items, pampering is also easy in the Westfield Shopping Centre with unique styles like that found in Aqua Massage. Aqua Massage is a store providing a dry hydrotherapy massage that relaxes, soothes and eases sore muscles. It's also quite affordable, with prices starting at 10 pounds, or about $15 dollars.
For out-of-country visitors at Westfield, tax-free shopping is available so anyone visiting for the Olympics is allowed to claim the value-added tax back on items purchased.
For the foodies
Food lovers will be psyched at the thought of indulging themselves with food from all over the world inside the Westfield Shopping Centre. Answering to all tastes and opinions, the food court, along with more than 70 other food places throughout the mall, has something for everyone to enjoy, starting with the British basics like fish and chips, moving to Italian classics like pizza and pasta, and ending with American favorites such as country fried chicken.
Along with numerous cafes sprawled out all over the shopping center, there are a lot of restaurants offering different kinds of specialty foods.
For the history fanatics
Those who love history will find themselves easily fascinated when venturing into the legends and tales of the origins of the Olympics.
As the legend goes, the original Olympic Games began in 776 BCE. However, that's just according to the last dated written records.
There are numerous historic elements of the ancient Olympics that will keep your eyes locked into reading more. You can uncover all of the information you might want and more, simply through your computer. A good website for information about all things Olympic -- from past venues to various athletes -- is www.olympic.org.
For the proud Utahns
Surprisingly enough, our lovely little state of Utah actually holds a huge and significant place in the far-away Olympics. I know what you're thinking, who would have expected that, right?
Yeah, well astonishingly enough, Utah is the birthplace for the metals used in the making of the 2012 Olympic medals. Gold, silver and copper from the Kennecott Utah Copper Mine, located at Bingham Canyon and a subsidiary of British company Rio Tinto, were used to create the medals awarded in London.
To learn more about the whole process, go to www.mining-technology.com, and click on "Olympic timeline: mining to medals," under the "Features" tab.
For sports addicts
Obviously, those who are often caught yelling at their TVs when someone on their favorite team does something stupid, or who get their faces painted and scream crazily while being squished in stands filled with others also chanting for a particular team or athlete, will be in their element as the Olympic Games begin.
From the famous Michael Phelps gliding his way through the Aquatics Centre, to rookie Jason Richardson bounding over hurdles, the Olympics has an event to interest every sports fan out there. My favorite to watch, the gymnastics, has been utterly impressive this year, and I look forward to seeing the volleyball games as well.
Although I adore fashion and definitely found myself lost for words when I spent the day in London's Westfield Shopping Centre, my favorite part of visiting England before the Olympics started was the Olympic flame. Originating from ancient Greece when Prometheus stole fire from the god Zeus, the Olympics still carries on the tradition of choosing people to run the torch from one town to another, lighting torch after torch with the original flame.
Great ceremonies and festivities accompany the arrival of the torch in each place it goes, and I was lucky enough that the torch came through Battle, where I was staying with my grandparents at the time. Seeing it happen was a really exciting experience, and it was a celebration that brought the town together. I was overjoyed to be a part of all the commotion.
I also met one of the Olympic torch bearers, Frank Roberts, on the Swanage Railway where he had been chosen to be a bearer after volunteering there for 30 years and being extremely helpful to the railway and its passengers. My family and I got to hold his Olympic torch and take pictures with it, as well as chat with him about his experience.
My trip to England this year positively stood out from the others with all the pre-game Olympics excitement and I loved everything about it. I think all teens, no matter what their interests, can find something about the Olympics that intrigues them.
Danielle Collier will be a junior at Northridge High School. She enjoys being with friends, volleyball, shopping, writing and traveling. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.