May Term Across the Pond

emilymartin

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If you’ve been paying any attention to this blog recently, you know that Ameka and I recently returned from a two-week trip to London, England. If you haven’t been paying attention, just look back through our most recent posts to catch up with the excitement.

As you know, this was for an Intro to the Fine Arts course, so we spent a lot of our time getting all kinds of artistic, cultural experiences. I could never condense the entire experience into one post, so instead, I picked one day to summarize. And I’ll let the pictures do the talking for the rest.

 

Here's most of our class outside of the National Gallery. Apparently I was the only one who didn't think to take my hood off before the picture...

Here’s most of our class outside of the National Gallery. Apparently I was the only one who didn’t think to take my hood off before the picture…

Wednesday, May 8 (Day 3): Our first trip was to Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre for a tour. I’ll admit, I’m not much of a Shakespeare fan, but the tour was still interesting because of all the history. The current Globe is not far from where the theater originally stood, and the current building was designed to look just like its predecessor. Our tour guide was hilarious and called me out for showing up a purple jacket — purple was reserved for royals in the Elizabethan era so if I had worn it then, I would’ve been in big trouble.

Our tour didn’t take all morning, so we had time to explore the nearby St. Paul’s Cathedral, a gorgeous historic church, and the site of Princess Diana’s wedding in 1981. We looked all around the outside and took in as much as we could for free on the inside. (You had to pay to get past the lobby, and we didn’t have enough time to justify paying.)

We went to a nearby pub for lunch to mark that off our tourist list. Everybody was more than satisfied with their food at the restaurants we visited on the trip, though we noticed some significant UK/US differences:

  1. Service in general was totally different. Waiters don’t check on you, rarely make eye contact, and really don’t put in much effort at all. To be fair, this might be more a big-city-full-of-tourists thing than England-specific.
  2. When you order water at restaurants, which we did everytime, their immediate assumption is not the free tapwater, like it would be here. When you order water, they ask if you want still or sparkling, both of which you have to pay for. So when you go abroad, ask for tap water. Anything else is just way too expensive.
  3. We always travelled in groups, but quickly learned that there’s no such thing as getting individual checks. We’d get one big check and have to divide the total amongst ourselves. Good thing there were some math majors along for the trip.

Back to Wednesday. After lunch, we returned to the Globe for an afternoon performance of “The Tempest.” Our “seats” were in the Groundlings section, which means we stood in front of the stage for the whole performance. The actors interacted with the audience a lot and the play was great!

(We saw “King Lear” there several days later. Not my favorite afternoon — the novelty of standing through the performance wore off when the temperature dropped and it started to rain. But, the main character was played by the same actor who was the butler in “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”! So that was pretty cool.)

On Wednesday night, we saw our first opera, “La Boheme” (which is what Rent is based on). This was probably one of everyone’s least performances of the trip. It wasn’t bad, but there just wasn’t much action. After such a busy day, we were all fighting to stay awake. But on the plus side: at least the opera was in English, and at intermission, there was ice cream!

By the end of the trip, we felt pretty cultured:

  • 8 theatrical productions
  • 2 operas
  • 2 instrumental music performances
  • 4 museum and 2 theater tours

I saw every tourist attraction I had hoped to, and more: the London Eye, Tower of London, Tower Bridge (the one in the “London Bridge” song), Regent’s Park, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, red phone booths, Wembley Stadium, at last but DEFINITELY not least, the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour.

Not a bad way to get a general education credit out of the way, right?

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