Date Night…with the Library | July 23rd. 2014 |

Written by: Briana Scott <3

 

Good news! I am feeling better! If I had to give it a percentage, I’d say I’m at about 60%, not all the way at 100% yet. The pain in my throat is subsiding, but it’s still there. After class today, I grabbed some lunch and went home to take a nap. Being sick while traveling sucks :-( I want to go and see everything, but when you’re sick your body wants the exact opposite: it needs rest.

Chile con carne! Con Ribena!

Chile con carne! Con Ribena!

So once I arouse from my sickly slumber, I grabbed a bite to eat and headed out my for date ;-) at the library, Lol

I got to the library around 4 or 5 p.m. and left around 10 p.m. It actually didn’t take me that long to finish my essay. I already had more than half of it written, so all I had to do were the finishing touches.

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After my date night, I headed over to Sainbury’s (a local grocery store…they’re practically everywhere) to buy some more soup :-( and some fruit. Then I headed home and rested.

 

Cheers,

Bri

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Theatre Royal and Tea

Written by Emily Neer; 21 July 2014

This morning started out a little rough. We all got to class realizing that no one in our group was feeling very well. Some of us have had sore throats and cold symptoms. Perfect timing for our last week in London! Hopefully this passes quickly for us. We had some interesting discussions in class about musicals and the history behind musicals. This is all in preparation for seeing Billy Elliot on Thursday. Some of our discussion focused around the backstory of this musical which includes the miners’ strikes in England in the 1990s. When we were talking about the history of musicals I found it interesting that there was a law passed where only two theatre companies in England could perform spoken word plays, and the rest of the companies had to sing everything. This is how musicals were started. It is amazing to think how big of a role theatre plays right here in London and how long this has been happening. We talked about how theatre was also a really uncivilized place throughout the 1800s where no one would really go to the theatre to watch the plays, but to socialize and see who else was attending the theatre.

After class we went over to the cafeteria to eat lunch. Afterwards we all went back to our room to read our play for the next day, work on our essays, and in my case, take a nap. We then had to meet up with our class to walk over to the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane for a tour. This theatre tour was amazing. This theatre is the oldest theatre in London. It was originally constructed in the 1600s by King Charles II. It has burned down a few times, but rebuilt each time bigger and better. There are two royal boxes in the theatre (due to a fight that broke out between a king and a prince who did not get along right before a show as they entered through the same doors). So two entrances were built to avoid later conflict. Now the theatre has a King’s side and a Prince’s side. The theatre is truly beautiful and has been standing since the mid 1800s. Our tour was really extensive and engaging as our two tour guides would dress up in period clothing and assume characters and share with us really neat facts about the theatre. We also got to go backstage and down into the tunnels of the theatre, which the tunnels are a part of the original 1600s foundation. There are tunnels (that are bricked off) that led to a pub in the city and all the way down to the River Thames. It was said that the tunnels were used by sailors who would work backstage for shows while waiting at the docks to load cargo on to ships which would take an upwards of two weeks to do. To earn some extra wages they would work at the theatre.

After our tour, Nathan and I ran down to Twinings Tea Shop on the Strand. It was a really small store, but all kinds of tea lined the walls. There was so much! I absolutely loved it as much as I like tea. After browsing around and making some purchases, Nathan and I went to dinner and then headed back to the apartments for an evening to work on our essays.

Leaving for Hogwarts & Fulbright Reception | July 18th. 2014 |

Written by: Briana Scott <3

 

Today is the big day! Today is our Fulbright Reception where we meet members of the Fulbright commission and the US Embassy and present our presentation. But before we do all of that, we were able to attend a Master’s class dealing with Healthcare in the U.S. and the U.K. During the class we compared and contrasted the U.S.’s and U.K.’s healthcare systems and the advantages, disadvantages, and benefits of each system. It was a very interesting class and our discussion actually went past the amount of time we had allotted for the class. Interesting facts regarding the U.K.’s healthcare system:

  • There are no fees, co-pays, or additional costs for British citizens. You don’t have to pay for anything
  • This is possible through the taxes paid by the citizens
  • When you go to Doctor’s offices, you don’t have to show proof of insurance, ID, or any form of identification; If you’re sick, you just simply get treatment
  • Family members get up to 2 weeks of Compassionate paid-leave if a loved one is sick
  • All prescriptions are free
  • This is all possible through the UK government.
  • However, there are private insurances available – their main benefit is reducing the amount of wait time (i.e. scheduling an appointment, or needing to see a doctor faster, etc.)
  • Unlike the U.S., the British healthcare system focuses much more on prevention as opposed to treatment. They have a proactive approach whereas the U.S. has more of an reactive approach.
  • For example, if you are diabetic, you are immediately enrolled, for FREE, into health, nutrition, and exercise classes
  • There is one main disadvantage however:
  • Because the healthcare system is mainly controlled by the government, there isn’t much innovation in regards to creating new medicines and medical research
  • In the U.S., because the healthcare industry is mainly privatized, their is a huge incentive to invest in developing new medicines and further researching medical innovations. This incentive being Money, Cha-ching $$$

Here are my  fellow Fulbrighters and myself, along with our two professors from the Master’s class:

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After the Master’s class we headed over to King’s Cross Station to go see Platform 9 and 3/4 from the Harry Potter movies!! :-)

Here are some pictures of King’s Cross Station. And also, I have made a very hard decision, but a necessary one. I have decided to transfer from the University of Miami to finish the remainder of my undergraduate career at Hogwarts. I know it is a drastic change, but I have already made my decision. So if you are reading this, I am already at Hogwarts and I have been sorted into the House of Gryffindor. The paparazzi were there and managed to snap a picture of my departure. Dang paparazzi.

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After departing for Hogwarts, I decided to come back because I had to attend the Fulbright Reception, but I will be returning in the fall. Below are pictures from the Reception and here is the link to our video. It was filmed, produced, and edited by yours truly with much help from the other Fulbrighters ;-) Fulbright Presentation – King’s College London 2014

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The second to last photo from above are Ms. Valerie Schreiner and I. And the photo directly above are my professors, John Howard and Vicky Carroll, and myself.

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This is Marvelous Marta and I!! She served as our London Big Sister and helped us get acquainted to the city and helped us whenever we were lost, needed information, or just suggestions for a good place to eat.

After the reception, we headed to Soho (an area in London) for dinner. We went to Jane Tira, a Thai restaurant that was suggested to us by one of the members of the King’s College Summer School office. Shout out to Dominika! And of course, of course – I could not go to a Thai restaurant and not order my beloved Pad Thai ;-) I was absolutely delicious and I was starving at this point, so Im surprised I didn’t choke while shoving it down my throat.

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After dinner, we headed back home, but not before I snapped a picture of a Whole Foods!! Lol, I get so excited whenever I see stores from back home. :-)

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Once I got home, I visited Southbank for a bit while waiting to meet up with my friend Femi. Femi attend UM last year as an exchange student and he helped me alot when it came to deciding which UKSI I applied to. He was a great host and showed me the night life of London  which seems to be centralized around Leicester Square as well as Soho. Big shout out to Femi! I had a really good time. We visited 2 or 3 clubs, and a few pubs, and danced like mad men, Lol. Forgive the quality of the photos :-)

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I got back home around 3:00 in the morning, so It was a great night ;-) Big day tomorrow though, we plan on visiting A LOT of places because this is our last weekend here. So check out tomorrow’s blog!

Much Love,

Bri <3

 

Day 11: Feminism, Puritans, and The Beatles in Regent’s Park

Written by Emily Neer; 16 July 2014

Can you believe that we are halfway done with the program? Today. Wednesday, July 16th. I have spent a week and a half in London and I have only a week and a half more. I cannot believe it. Where did the time go? I feel like I have just arrived, but at the same time I feel like I have been here forever. After trying to comprehend that fact this morning while getting ready for class and rushing to finish my reading assignment from last night, I hurried across the street to grab a croissant and an apple on my way to class. As I was walking across Waterloo Bridge today like I do every morning, I noticed exactly how brown the River Thames is. It is completely brown. It is amazing to me how this river can be so, how do I put this, unappealing to the eye , but it is so important, iconic and beautiful at the same time.

We had an interesting class today as our lecture and discussion led from topic to topic. We were discussing the play Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill. It is an interesting one (definitely do not let your kids read it). We learned a lot on the suffrage movement here in the UK during the early 20th century before women gained the right to vote in 1918. Did you know that there was a woman named Emily Davidson who gave her life for the suffrage movement by going to a Darby race? She jumped out in the middle of a horse race to bring down the King’s horse and the jockey just to get the King’s attention and make a point for the movement. She died a few days later after being critically injured. What a brave woman. Our background information given in lecture was on the suffrage movement as well as second wave feminism. We talked a lot about the play with its bold statements on gender norms and roles as well as feminism. I think my biggest takeaway from class today was the point that was brought up about women being the root of sin (thanks Eve), but how this has carried on throughout history and time to influence how women have been viewed and treated and are still viewed and treated. Some things have not changed over time and cultures.

After class, we came back to the Waterloo side of campus for lunch in the cafeteria. We had a quick lunch before we had to walk a couple of blocks to the Old Vic to see a 2:30 showing of The Crucible by Arthur Miller. This play was absolutely magnificent. Here is a recent review from the New York Times (sorry not the London Times!): http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/12/theater/the-crucible-by-arthur-miller-plays-at-the-old-vic.html?_r=0 I remember reading the play in 11th grade I think, and I had forgotten most of the story line, but as it was being acted out on stage everything came back to me. The actors were powerful and did an amazing job at engaging the audience into the story. I couldn’t get over how talented these actors are as they enraptured the audience with their every word, played with the audiences’ senses and emotions while using very minimal props and working on a very small stage. We had okay seats the first half of the play, but after intermission we met up with our tutor who ushered us to even better seats right above the stage (the stage was a small circle with audience seating around it). From these seats I could actually see the faces of the actors in detail and capture their every gestures and expressions. The Old Vic is a really awesome theatre. It was built in the early 1800s and it still looks that way inside. It was very authentic.

After the play, Margaret, Nathan and I ended up taking the Tube to Abbey Road! My inner Beatles fan (maybe not so inner) was so excited. It wasn’t as glamorous as I was expecting, but there were still a lot of people there. I got to see Abbey Road Studios tucked between apartment buildings and we of course walked across the street. I knew that Abbey Road was in a residential area, but I didn’t realize how much traffic was on the road. It was entertaining to see people try and get pictures while cars and taxis honked at them to get off the road. And you had to watch out for the buses. They don’t stop! We did not attempt to get a picture as we walked across, valuing our lives a little more than replicating a famous picture, but it was still a great experience!

After Abbey Road, we took the Tube back to Baker Street to walk through Regent’s Park. Regent’s Park is beautiful especially in the evening as the sun is setting. I took so many pictures, but this stroll through the park was something I think I needed. The parks here in London (even though they are busy) are such a great place to take a break from the crowded and bustling London streets. I cannot believe how beautiful and calm parks seem to be. During this time of year, the flowers are blooming and gorgeous and the fountains are always running. We passed families picnicking in the grass and families playing soccer while couples were on dates talking and drinking a glass of wine on perfectly spread out blankets. It was a great evening spent walking through the park.

We finally got the Tube back to Waterloo where Margaret and I grabbed take away fish and chips for dinner and brought it back to our rooms so we could do work. It was a great day today and the perfect day to break up the past two days that have been filled with group projects and schoolwork. My takeaway for today: No matter how tired you are or how much you want to sleep, you need to push through so you don’t miss a thing. So you buy a large tea with lots of milk and sugar and dive right in to a day you know you will remember for a long time. A day of many that makes up a trip of a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

Things That Happened to Me Today | July 17th. 2014

  • Alan Bennett peered into my soul.

“The best moments in reading are when you come across something — a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things — that you’d thought special, particular to you. And here it is, set down by someone else, a person you’ve never met”

love this quote. But first, a little context. We discussed Alan Bennet’s play The History Boys in class today. Context done. Love. With this quote Bennett somehow manages to articulate a feeling that I’ve encountered countless times. That moment when you read words that mean something. Words that seem so profoundly right that you look up briefly, only to be disappointed that the rest of the world remains unaware of this connection. This feeling is part shock, part awe, and part appreciation. Shock, awe, and appreciation that this person whom, as Bennett points out, you’ve never met, has inexplicably, incredibly, shared an experience with you. And so you smile, or laugh, or sigh in contentment–faith in your ability to forge a path in this crazy, beautiful world is strengthened with the knowledge that you are not alone.

  • Harry Potter gave us a tour of the National Theatre.

Okay, fine, Tom (I’m about 85% sure that was our tour-guide’s name) was neither Harry Potter nor his alias Daniel Radcliffe. But his voice sounded remarkably similar to a certain beloved Brit, which both Bri and I remarked on seconds into our tour. Regardless of his Potterness, Tom (?) was an excellent guide, and touring the National Theatre was enlightening in every sense of the word. It was amazing to learn about how much meticulous preparation, planning, and work goes on before, during, and after a performance. I wish only that they’d allowed us to take pictures throughout the tour–alas, you’re just going to have to settle for this selfie of Emily and I in the mandatory hard-hats.

Yes, they really were mandatory. Theatre tours are serious business!

Yes, they really were mandatory. Theatre tours are serious business!

  •  I finally made my way up to the top of a double-decker bus.

And it was wonderful. Everyone recommends it, every drones on about how amazing the view is from the top, and everyone is right. Yes the bus often takes longer (especially if the driver makes everyone get off at Charing Cross Station, as ours did–not that this was really a problem–buses arrive every minute or so) and yes, it is still hot on the top of the bus (though not, and this is important, anywhere near as hot as it is on the Tube) but you have to take it somewhere, sometime. If you’re feeling particularly daring (read: bored) just jump on and jump off when you see something interesting. Bri, Nate, Emily and I ended up at a family-owned Italian Restaurant near Baker Street for dinner, and we couldn’t have been more pleased with how our night turned out.

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Nate, Emily and I are clearly overjoyed–this was taken just before the driver announced everyone had to get off the bus so he could go change to oil. Strange.

What you can't tell from this photo is that we came *this* close to hitting the bus in front of us/every other car on the road. Driving in London is not for the faint of heart.

What you can’t tell from this photo is that we came *this* close to hitting the bus in front of us/every other car on the road. Driving in London is not for the faint of heart.

Well, I’m out of time and almost out of words. I think it’s best to say goodnight, and to stop procrastinating starting my essay. Wish me luck!

Cheers,

-Margaret

 

Intermission

Written By: Nathan Owen on July 15th

As our time here reaches to the half-way point, the wonder hasn’t worn away yet, but a sense of comfort and content has set in.  I feel that we all know our way around the immediate area of the city fairly well at this point.  We all take less pictures, we look up less, and we probably look less like tourists as well.  Somehow, in only a week’s time, we don’t feel like tourists any longer either. It is interesting how quickly the city makes you part of it.

Inherent with this development of comfort and stability is the increasing difficulty to want to find new and interesting things to do.  I don’t think we’ve become complacent, but I do think that our state of constant amazement has plateaued. The positive sides of this of course are that we are all engaging in our classwork with much more depth and effort. It seems that our seminars continue to improve as a result.

Two of my peers and myself facilitated today’s discussion that was centered around a play that self describes as a scripted improv, living newspaper, moral discussion of nuclear warfare, and documentary all at once. This play is called ‘Uranium 235′ by Ewan MacColl. The play was very freeform in nature as it was a loose outline of a series of improvisational performances that framed the events leading up to the development of the Nuclear Bomb.  These events were episodic in nature, hence why it could be called a documentary, but the play contains many elements of humor, it is very self-referential, and insults the audience on multiple occasions. These devices are used frequently in the ‘agit-prop’ genre of theatre that Uranium 235 belongs to.  The actors were often aware they were actors, the audience was treated as the protagonist itself and in fact this is explicitly stated, and the intelligence of the audience is all but directly challenged on multiple occasions.  These are all hallmarks of a form of theatre that is inherently political in nature.

After a very eventful class, the rest of the day was spent working on the presentation that the other Fulbrighters and myself are expected to give at the end of the week.  This time was again spent at a cafe- I have started to wonder as a result of the concentration of cafes in this city whether anyone ever actually eats food, or if they all simply are fueled by caffeine alone. It certainly would explain the urgency that London constantly has.

Dinner on Southbank | July 13th. 2014 |

Written by: Briana Scott <3

 

Hola! So on this beautiful Sunday, I spent most of my time working on my oral presentation for class tomorrow on the phenomenal play Toussaint L’Ouverture and of course updating my blog. Toussaint L’Ouverture by CLR James is an amazing work of literature and if anyone is interested in learning more about the only successful slave revolt in history, check out this piece. You won’t be disappointed.

So even though my day was mostly consumed with work, I made sure I got out at night to go see more of the city. Myself and several of the other Fulbrighters went out to dinner on Southbank. We went to a Mexican restaurant called Wahaca and the food was excellent. And while we were waiting outside, there was a large book and record sale going on right by the water, so we all rummaged through the boxes searching for hidden treasures :-)

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I ordered Chicken Taquitos and a side of Sweet Potatoes (Yummy!) By the time my food got to the table, I was so hungry I almost forgot to take a picture before I ate it, Lol.

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But what you see above was not enough to satisfy my hunger. I actually ended up ordering another plate of chicken quesadillas, but I forgot to take a picture due to my hunger. Sorry, Lol, but the quesadilla was good too.

That’s all for now folks,

Bri

Falling In Love With Hyde Park | July 12th. 2014

Today was perhaps my favorite day in London so far. Our first week flew by—weekdays were so busy it felt like I was constantly running out of time, instead constantly adding to a never-ending list of places to go and things to see. Emily and I very ambitiously planned a full day of sightseeing—as I sit here, exhausted and immensely relieved to finally be stationary, it certainly feels as if we walked through all of London today. But our tour wasn’t quite that extensive.

Borough Market


I wish I could convey to you how amazing it smells once you step into radius of the market hall.

Our day began with breakfast at Borough Market, just early enough to miss the crowds on the tube. Londoners don’t seem to be morning people (at least not Saturday morning people). Don’t be fooled by the rather unimpressive outer appearance of the market hall—even at 10:00 on a Saturday morning there were crowds buzzing around with the type of fervent, fluttering energy evoked only by the promise of incredible food. Clearly, we had come to the right place.

Fruit so fresh if looks fake—the apples and carrot sticks I bought at Sainsbury's later that evening pale in comparison.

Fruit so fresh if looks fake—the apples and carrot sticks I bought at Sainsburys later that evening pale in comparison.

Borough Market was chaotic, loud, and almost too exciting to handle. Emily and I moved beyond “kid in a candy store” within the first two minutes. Every few seconds one of us would give a squeal of delight and rush towards a stand more captivating than the last. We walked around the entire market, agonized over what to buy for a good ten minutes, and then sat at one of the picturesque purple fold-out tables to eat, and tried not to stare too obviously at the other market-goers.

Giant loaves of bread that I would have looked ridiculous carrying around for the rest of the day—I nearly bought one regardless.

Giant loaves of bread that I would have looked ridiculous carrying around for the rest of the day—I nearly bought one regardless.

I look ridiculously pleased with myself in this picture. Can you blame me? As if it weren’t enough to be holding a chocolate croissant and fresh cranberry-apple juice, I also have a giant chocolate brownie in my bag for “later”. And by later I mean to be eaten on the Tube. I have no self control when it comes to chocolate. Let’s move on.

I look ridiculously pleased with myself in this picture. Can you blame me? As if it weren’t enough to be holding a chocolate croissant and fresh cranberry-apple juice, I also have a giant chocolate brownie in my bag for “later”. I have no self control when it comes to chocolate. Let’s move on.

We were sad to leave—the market hall felt so authentically British. The hodgepodge of cultures that make up this amazing city is perhaps best evidenced by the array of stalls at Borough. I will definitely be returning for breakfast next weekend (maybe even sooner—that brownie was incredible!)

From Borough we walked along to Tower Bridge, weaving in and out of traffic and the quickly accumulating crowds. London streets are never quiet for long. We stumbled this little café (at least we thought is was a café…) called the Bicycle Club near Southwark Cathedral. Lovely.

Slightly impromptu, slightly patriotic feeling, utterly charming.

Slightly impromptu, slightly patriotic feeling, utterly charming.

Needless to say, we’re going to try and bring daybed cafés back over to the States. People will be skeptical at first, but we’ll win them over in the end. Eventually we made it to Tower Bridge.

I apologize for taking up space in this picture. Let’s just focus on how nice the bridge looks, and what a miracle it is that it wasn’t raining.

I apologize for taking up space in this picture. Let’s just focus on how nice the bridge looks, and what a miracle it is that it wasn’t raining.

Tower Bridge is absolutely breathtaking in its own right, but it also gives an unparalleled view of the city, including our next stop—the Tower itself!

This picture doesn’t do it justice—the Tower is monstrous!

This picture doesn’t do it justice—the Tower is monstrous!

After waiting in several lines for what felt like forever, we were finally allowed to enter the Tower *cue ominous music*. Which, contrary to what you might believe as you sit and daydream about visiting monuments around London when you should be studying for exams, is not simply a single tower where they locked up Elizabeth I and a few other less important people several centuries ago. It is in fact an enormous complex of towers, each of which boasts its own unique history and set of entirely too narrow spiral staircases (and it is unknown which tower was used to hold Elizabeth I—we asked!)

You can barely see it thanks to my ridiculously large head, but I promise there’s a palace behind us.

You can barely see it thanks to my ridiculously large head, but I promise there’s a palace behind us.

From the Tower we headed to Buckingham Palace, where we were a) happy to learn that the guards do in fact wear those hats that look like beavers and b) sad to learn that they were too far away for us to take pictures with and/or try to make laugh.

I know. I wish I was there now.

I know. I wish I was there now.

We opted not to pay for a tour, which left us with more time than anticipated to explore the parks around the palace (which I can only assume essentially serve as her Majesty’s back yard). First up was the Green Park, which I spent a good deal of time thinking was St. James’s Park. Yes, with two s’s.

Aforementioned tunnel. We took selfies here but I don’t want to ruin the picturesque setting for you.

Aforementioned tunnel. We took selfies here but I don’t want to ruin the picturesque setting for you.

We leisurely made our way to the Wellington Arch, which serves as a divider between Green Park and Hyde Park. Hyde Park is massive. We walked, and talked, and laughed our way through the entrance, and after fifteen minutes were struck by how profoundly isolated Hyde Park feels. It’s unnervingly easy to forget that you’re in London, one of the largest urban cities in the world. Hyde Park is large enough, and wild enough, to make you feel as if you’ve stumbled into another world. (This feeling is somewhat stronger in the secluded garden tunnels than, for example, while on the walkways next to the Serpentine, where madmen are rollerblading every way you look.)

I wanted to stay here forever.

I wanted to stay here forever.

We spent nearly two hours in Hyde Park, every minute of which was completely magical—a kind of breathtaking, awe-inspiring, indescribable beauty. I’ll leave it at that.

The Italian Gardens. A favorite of couples and exhausted college students alike.

The Italian Gardens. A favorite of couples and exhausted college students alike.

We exited Hyde Park to find ourselves in Notting Hill–all a part of our cunning plan, I assure you. We had two goals 1) to find Portobello Market Road and 2) to find the house where Hugh Grant lived in the movie that surely gave the neighborhood its name. No? That’s not how it works you say? Moving right along then.

We may or may not have gotten sidetracked by cupcakes. I’m blaming this on Emily. Check out the Hummingbird Bakery if you’re ever on Portobello Market Road.

We may or may not have gotten sidetracked by cupcakes. I’m blaming this on Emily. Check out the Hummingbird Bakery if you’re ever on Portobello Market Road.

We decided that this was Hugh Grant’s house. Also, this selfie was taken entirely too close to my face.

By this point it was about 6:00 (or 18:00 as the British would say), and we were utterly knackered. Fans of a certain British literary icon (and more recently, televised series) will therefore appreciate our final stop on today’s whirlwind journey. 221B Baker Street!

Sherlock!

Sherlock!

Phew. I apologize for how ridiculously long this post was. Emily, today was a wonderfully crazy day that I will remember forever. I can’t believe we walked that far—I reckon we’re practically proper Londoners by now!

Cheers!

-Margaret

 

Day 5: Just Look Up, Liverpool Style

Emily Neer; Written on 11 July 2014

 

Liverpool. What a fantastic city in the north of England. A two-hour train ride from London will put you in a city full of rich culture and history and diverse and loyal people. When I heard that we were going to be visiting Liverpool, I was really excited. I knew a little bit about the history of the city and its major role in England as a port city, but I was mainly excited about being in the city of the Beatles. And Liverpoolians are proud of the Beatles and claim them gladly, but there is so much more to the city that is fantastic and wonderful.

 

We all met for breakfast in the Franklin- Wilkins Building across the street before heading to Waterloo Station to catch the Northern Line to Euston Station where we would catch the National Rail to Liverpool. Some of us still had problems with our cards to get on the Tube (public transportation and I are still working on getting along), but we figured out the problem and hopefully everything will be working by Monday. Once we were on the Tube it was a ten-minute ride up to Euston where we met Marta and Jason. The train ride was so cool! Trains are so uncommon in the United States, at least for me, so being able to take a train across England was an amazing experience. Once you get outside of London it is all beautiful countryside and farms. Everything is one hundred times less congested and we passed some beautiful farmhouses and tons and tons of sheep.

 

Once we got to Liverpool we grabbed lunch in the train station and walked down the street to sit on some stairs outside a museum to eat. It was an absolutely gorgeous day with constant sunshine. We were surrounded by beautiful, ornate, and historic buildings: evidence of a once booming and prosperous city. The architecture was something that astounded me. After lunch we walked down to River Mersey where the docks are and used to be. We had an hour to explore the Museum of Liverpool, which sits right next to river, before we had to meet with city planners at the municipal building. We all decided to explore the museum together which told of the history of the city and was sort of like a children’s museum where you were able to interact with the exhibits. It was my kind of museum.

 

After exploring the museum, we met up with two city planners in the Municipal Building who gave us an overview of the city and the problems, but also the regeneration of Liverpool and we got to have a question and answer session as well. This meeting was so informational and I am grateful that we had this opportunity to get a more in depth, almost behind the scenes look at the city. Here is a brief overview of what we talked about:

 

The town charter was started in 1207 and the town sits on an estuary so it grew when England grew and imperialism was strong. Many things came through these ports such as cotton and rum and slaves. This trade is where the wealth came from for the city to expand in the 1700s. The merchant class ran the town and there were almost no aristocracy. The key growth of the city was the dock system. The river brings in strong tidal currents and they needed proper walls and dock systems to withstand these currents. It was the center for the industrial revolution and insurance companies as well as cruise ship companies such as the White Star Line, which managed the Titanic. During the 1700s and 1900s the population grew. Especially during the 1840s, Ireland immigrants immigrated to Liverpool due to the potato famine. That is why Liverpoolians have such a strong and distinct accent. Most have a very strong Celtic background. In 1930 the population peaked at 900,000 and has been declining ever since.

 

Liverpool is a prime example of how globalization can destroy a city. The use of the ports declined, the physical exchange of goods declined, there was a decline in industry, and a shift to the south as London began to absorb everything from industry and universities, etc. The population of Liverpool has decreased to about 400,000 and they rely heavily on tourism. The unemployment rate is about 40% and there is no private sector in the city. The city is trying to regenerate itself and city planners are making significant progress. The approach that they are taking is integrating the old with the new. They are keeping the Victorian architecture, which is absolutely stunning and are improving it. That want to use what they already have and go from there. They have an amazing development project where they have built a new mall, Liverpool One. It is an open aired mall to bring in visitors who are visiting the docks and attract them into more the center of the city. It is a beautiful, and huge mall with restaurants and shops. The stereotype of Liverpool it is a dingy old industrial city, but it is such a rich, historical, and beautiful place.

 

After our meeting we were given a mini tour of the city by our city planners. They showed us the oldest street in Liverpool with amazing Victorian architecture and the town hall. They took us down to the Cavern Club where the Beatles used to play as well. I was so excited even though the building was rebuilt; it was really cool to be there. We then got a mini tour of Liverpool One and they walked us down to the docks. After we parted ways, a lot of us went into the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum, which are in the same building. The Merseyside Maritime Museum had a fantastic exhibit on the Titanic. Even though the Titanic did not set sail from Liverpool (Southampton actually), the White Star Line was located in Liverpool and many survivors ended up sailing back to Liverpool to get home to their families in England. Many workers who worked on the Titanic lived in Liverpool as well. The International Slavery Museum was a very powerful experience. Even though it was a small museum it had the power to transport you into a life of slavery and it was horrifying. This museum was definitely an eye opening experience.

 

After the museums, we met up to go to dinner in Liverpool One. We decided on Las Iguanas, a Brazilian restaurant. We had to eat quickly in order to catch our train back at Liverpool Lime Street. We had a two-hour train ride back to London and then we got back on the Tube to come back to Stamford Street. Even though I did not get to experience the Beatles Museum, as I wanted to, it was still an amazing day spent in Liverpool. By the time we returned to London, we were all so exhausted, but Margaret and I were craving something sweet. We walked down to Southbank and got frozen yogurt at a place called Snog. The frozen yogurt place sets right on the river bank and is in a bright pink replicated double decker bus. The frozen yogurt here is not as sweet as back home (more yogurt-y) but it was delicious, especially with fresh fruit and dark chocolate. After enjoying our yogurt on the Thames riverbank and watching the nightlife in Southbank, we walked back to Stamford street to go to sleep. It was such a long and exciting day!

 

Takeaway for today: Look up and notice what is around you. Every day we seem to bypass and look over the amazing things that are in our world. Look up to notice the beautiful architecture. Look up to smile at someone you pass on the street. Look up to see the blue sky and feel the warm sun on your face. Look up and be thankful for this life you have been given. Thank you Liverpool for this lesson.

The Blue Cockerell

Today’s Pictures: http://imgur.com/a/gB2e0

Our march through Trafalgar square this morning toward the University of Notre Dame’s luxurious London campus (and previous gentleman’s club I might add) was tied in extremely well to the topics of our discussion.  John, our tutor, began not by talking about Shaw this morning, or about Major Barbara, but about the Blue Cockerell on Trafalgar square’s fourth plinth.  To those who are not aware, as I was not before today, Trafalgar square is a grandiose place with an extremely tall tower, and four statue plinths surrounding it.  Atop the tower and the plinths alike stand British war heroes, that is, of course, except for the fourth plinth, which for a long time, stood empty because there were no funds to finish the project.

We discussed the national-narcissistic nature of Trafalgar square and its monuments to these men who are seen by some as leaders of genocide turned heroics.  This discussion was of course not the first, as any British citizen will know about the infamous four plinth, for today there stands a giant blue cockerell.  It is not the first of its kind either, this statue was preceded by a statue of a pregnant disabled woman, a young man on a toy horse, Jesus Christ as an ordinary man, and a version of the plinth itself, but upside down.  The fourth plinth has been stage to many pieces of art in the past years, all of which have sparked either controversy, debate, or interest.

Trafalgar Square also was the setting of one of the teacher’s union strikes today.  I got a few pictures of this rally from the window of the building and in the square itself as we came back from class.  This was of course why our normal location from the Strand Campus moved for the day because the protests there were larger and to be avoided.  The protests at Trafalgar square seemed relatively docile, but well pointed and organized.  Emily, Margaret and I then headed to a Garfunkel’s for lunch and then decided to spend a good portion of our afternoon at the National Portrait Gallery.  I don’t have many words to describe how lively the portraits were.  I was taken aback at their tendency to leap from their frame.  Some of the most ancient portraits were the most alive.  I of course was obligated to take a picture with the portraits of King William and Queen Mary in tribute to my true Alma Mater, William and Mary.

We ended our day spectacularly with a cruise along the Thames river. The cruse lasted several hours, and we all got to see so much of London from what I argue is the best perspective I’ve had yet.  The bulk of my pictures for today are from that trip in particular.  It is impossible to look at Big Ben in the evening and not reminisce on Peter Pan and Wendy. The night was cool, the sights clear and beautiful, the people conversational, the music pleasant, and so we danced.