Monday, November 19, 2012

Doing What I Do Best-Tourism!




The amazing set of Wicked


Things have been going well with my new internship at The Children’s Society, as I have grown accustomed to a true work environment and schedule. It has been a bit difficult to balance the two classes that have continued into the second phase of the program with a three-day work week, and now a supplementary internship class. Regardless of the workload, I am enjoying experiencing a true London lifestyle. There are so many elements of being a true Londoner, and I believe I have managed to accomplish at least a few of them. I have finally learned not to force myself to get to everything in London, and I’ve realized that it’s more important to do things because I want to, not because I feel I should in the mad rush of a four-month study abroad program.
Last week, I finally had the chance to see the famed Wicked, a visual and aural masterpiece of magnificent proportions. The stunning cast included two leads, Elphaba and Glinda, who absolutely stole the show. The remainder of the cast was certainly superior, and equalled the reputation of the renowned production. The cast showcased the vividly-designed set and intricate costumes, in addition to their amazing singing and dancing. I was blown away by the performance, and I would be more than happy to see the show over and over again. It surpassed my expectations, becoming my favorite musical to date. Perhaps the best part of Wicked was the fact that I was seated in the eleventh row, giving me the closest view to an unbelievable night at the Apollo Victoria. 
Field of Remembrance at Wesminster Abbey
In the past several weeks, I have seen replicas of red poppies pinned on the lapels of most Londoners’ suits and jackets. I never really bothered to clarify the significance of these flowers, but I soon discovered that they are an emblem meant to pay tribute to those in the Armed Forces that have fallen in the line of duty. To add to this, there is a Field of Remembrance at Westminster Abbey, which was crowded with people urgent to pay their respects. The display was beautiful, and it made the issue of the non-liberties of war universal.
Borough Market-where dreams come true.
The Borough Market is located near London Bridge, and is a true gem of London culture. It is certainly not the only market of its kind, but it has a unique appeal. It is only open at specific times on specific days, but it is always crowded when it is actually running. A spread of cheeses, jams, wines, meats and other commodities are available for purchase, as well as a slew of hot dishes and sandwiches. Nearly every product can be tasted, and nearly every product is probably the best thing you’ve ever tasted. Fresh and homemade, the market’s entire selection is a great addition to London’s culture.
Fish at the London Aquarium
Astronaut suit at the Science Museum

Outside of the On the Road exhibition at the British LibraryI also recently visited both the London Aquarium and the Science Museum, which I was delighted to see, though they were definitely not the most genuinely British things I’ve seen. The British Library is not far from my internship, and I absolutely had to see the On the Road exhibition, which showcased Jack Kerouac’s novel as well as the rest of the Beat Generation. After taking a class based on this set of authors and poets last Winter Term, I fell in love with their works and knew I had to attend the exhibition, which included Kerouac’s original version of his novel written on a 120-foot scroll.
Outside of the British Museum


Main Concourse within the British Museum
The British Museum was my next destination, which was amazing, as I spent nearly three hours there and barely conquered half of the galleries. This is a result of Britain’s overambition in attempting to include absolutely every artifact that is remotely British, with every piece of history the Brits have had any possible connection to. I had to be extremely strategic in the areas I wanted to cover, and I ultimately weeded out the less-desirable aspects to make for a pleasant visit.





Horse Guard-didn't budge
Some friendly guards outside of the gated Number 10





















British ChinaTown-not the same!
Leicester Sq. (you can't tell, but it's lit up with Christmas lights!)

National Portrait Gallery
View of National Gallery from Trafalgar Square






The most recent sights I’ve seen were Leicester Square, Whitehall and Downing Street, Trafalgar Square and the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. Leicester Square is the setting for Her Majesty’s Theatre, the Odeon, the Hippodrome and London’s very own China Town. Not comparable to New York’s cultural district, but still a fun an exciting escape from Britishness! Whitehall is an avenue containing many governmental bodies, including the Ministry of Defence, Cabinet and 10 Downing Street, where Prime Minister David Cameron currently resides. Trafalgar Square is a historical mecca, with dozens of memorial statues, glorious fountains, and even the world’s smallest police station. Also located in Trafalgar Square are the National Gallery and National Portrait Gallery. The former is an enormous collection of artwork, largely paintings, separated by time period and/or artist. I wouldn’t exactly call myself an art appreciator, I guess as a result of my lack of intellectual depth, but I still loved looking at so many world-famous pieces of artwork. My fascination continued into the National Portrait Gallery, which is pretty much exactly as it sounds, a huge collections of portraits. My favorite gallery was the Marilyn Monroe room, which followed the history of portraits taken of the icon. I gained a bit more respect for the study of art, but it’s hard for me to say I’d like to spend most of my days observing artistic works. 

The World's Smallest Police Station!
I think it’s safe to say that I’m doing everything I can while in London. When I put it into perspective, I realize that I live here. So many people that are native Brits have expressed to me that they haven’t done half of the things I have. I am definitely continuing my exploration of London until the day I leave, but knowing that I could leave today with the reassurance that I have covered more of a foreign city than I have of my own hometown gives me a huge sense of relief. I plan on spending the remainder of this think it’s safe to say that I’m doing everything I can while in London. When I put it into perspective, I realize that I live here. So many people that are native Brits have expressed to me that they haven’t done half of the things I have. I am definitely continuing my exploration of London until the day I leave, but knowing that I could leave today with the reassurance that I have covered more of a foreign city than I have of my own hometown gives me a huge sense of relief. I plan on spending the remainder of this program just doing what I do and enjoying every step of the way, just as I’ve been doing. 





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