Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tired of London, Tired of Life

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It’s finally summer, which means that London’s tourists have gone from frequently encountered to inescapable. And it is truly amazing how quickly you adopt the native London mindset of irritated resignation after the millionth person holding a map stops dead in the middle of a crowded sidewalk, always right in front of you. So I figure, if you can’t beat ‘em…

London is such a big city that it’s easy to end up spending all your time in the 2 square miles between your flat and school (or work, or whatever. You get my point). This is the only excuse I can really offer for having lived here since September and having seen little more than the South Bank and the Strand. I “did the tourist thing” with my mom years ago, and since a lot of London’s biggest attractions are expensive, I’ve held off, waiting for people to visit, since I’ll inevitably end up hitting the tourist attractions with them – I went to the Tower of London the last time friends came to visit. But somehow I also ended up not bothering to go to any of those areas. Which is a real shame, because now it’s nearly June and there are still so many parts of London that I haven’t even begun to explore. My summer project (besides my dissertation and job hunting, of course, and hopefully a summer job – fingers crossed!) is to get to know the city.

The Houses of Parliament, the bell tower with Big Ben, and, of course, the ubiquitous tourist.

I started off with the obvious: I walked through Westminster, taking in the view of the bell tower with Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Victoria Tower Gardens, and the whole area, then crossing the Thames to admire it from the other side. I also went to Chelsea with a friend of mine on a hunt for American food in Partridge’s (words cannot describe my joy at welcoming Hershey’s chocolate syrup back into my life), followed by a quick trip to the Saatchi Gallery to see the Festival des Mètiers, where the Hermès craftspeople work right in front of you. Then it was over to Angel with a friend of mine. The last time I was there, I saw this:

This guy actually reminded me of home. For those of you who don’t know, Austin’s city motto is “Keep Austin Weird,” and we display our hippies and weirdos with pride. So finding this guy in London was a treat.

Sorry for the picture quality; he was moving and I need a better camera, as well as photography lessons. But surely you can tell that’s a man dressed as a zebra centaur?

So seeing Angel in the daylight was a bit of a change. Unfortunately, it rained all day (and it was freezing – London summer is VERY different from Texas summer), so I don’t have any pictures for y’all. You’ll just have to go see it for yourselves.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

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As a literature student, I just couldn’t resist such a famous reference. After all, this week included the best and worst parts of being a student.

It began with the worst, as essay deadlines bore down. Most of the undergraduate students don’t have their exams for another couple of weeks, but as a postgraduate, your essay deadlines are determined by your department, and, in some cases, your professor. This means that most of my friends still have one essay to work on, whereas my essays are already in (woo-hoo!). It also meant that the first half of the week was rough, as I left various events early to continue research and essay drafts, and lived almost exclusively on pizza. It was not a pretty sight. There was a lot of red pen and pajamas.

Now that I’m done with essays, though, I’m getting to enjoy all the perks of being a student. For one thing, I’ve gotten to watch my hard work pay off in essay marks. For another, I’ve been free to enjoy the amazing weather we’ve been having – and so have my student friends! Spring has finally sprung here in London, so yesterday included a picnic in Hyde Park. It looked like half of the city was out, which was lovely. It’s the first time I’ve seen roller bladers around here, but there are an impressive number! There are also adorable dogs, affectionate couples, excited children, relaxed sunbathers, and, of course, students. I have every intention of researching my dissertation exclusively in parks if they continue to look like this:

Don’t you just want to run through it spinning, singing ‘the hills are alive…with the sound of music!’ Or is that just me?

Especially now that the sun doesn’t set until after 8. Have I mentioned lately how much I love this city? Because I do. And now I’m off to enjoy it some more.

 

ps – I’m happy to do posts on almost anything that interests you about London/being a postgraduate student, so please, let me know what you’d like to read about!