It’s been another week for me living in the city and it has been quite a hectic one. Last weekend I did some more exploring around London! Saturday consisted of exploring Camden, first in the morning with a trip to the camden market then again at night. This market consisted of both a clothing section and food! I purchased a delicious Argentinean burger there for lunch! i have really enjoyed all the markets I have attended which at this point have been many. Even when i go back to the same one twice i enjoy it just as much and am glad i can try a new type of wonderful good. I wish we had markets like these back in RSM because they make even going out to lunch a more interesting experience and make you feel so much more in touch with the local culture, not to mention the food is way better. This is a picture of the famous Camden Market entrance which has a nice canal running through it! I tried another British food today at the borough market, a bacon roll! I strongly advocate for this to come to California. It was one of the best sandwiches I have ever had and it didn’t taste as unhealthy as bacon does back home. Basically go british bacon! Speaking of british food I have found it quite interesting that at the grocery stores here they advertise everything produced in the UK as being such. There are signs at Sainsbury’s for 100% british beef, 100% british chicken, truly everything. Even my bread was wrapped in union jack wrapping. Not that I am saying this is a bad thing, i just found it so interesting that such pride is taken in their own food production. While the presence of the union jack everywhere may not seem odd to us Americans something incredibly interesting we learned when we arrived and went to orientation is that the union jack is the logo for a political group here known as the national front. This was a conservative right party that was created in the 1960’s that embraced incredibly racist viewpoints. This group was known for violence and neo-nazism until internal politics split the group to near extinction. Due to the correlation between this party and the union jack, we learned that at the time Brits did not wave the flag for reasons other than events pertaining to the royal family because waving the flag generally labeled you as a racist. The staff at the university said that many are still hesitant to wave it today because of this representation that is possessed. I had a lesuirely Sunday last week by sleeping in & walking around The Regents Park, now I find it funny that there is a “the” in front of it so i shall forever refer to it in that fashion. The Regents Park was beautiful, even with the annoying amount of birds that chased you, with streams, fountains, and hopefully in the spring the gardens will be in bloom. The park also included a number of sports fields and the london zoo! There were probably around twenty or so football (soccer) games going on at once and a number of rugby games as well. I really enjoyed seeing all these locals out on the weekend enjoying the park, and the penguins at the zoo were a definite plus. Monday was my first day of school and it was exciting, nerve wrecking, stressful, confusing, but i was quite glad to be back in school. The classes are structured differently than in the US with an 50 minute lector followed by a 50 minute tutorial where essentially the same concepts are repeated only this time you may participate, but I’m trying to embrace the British ways and give it a chance. The classes I’m taking are: exploring London, which is not just walking around london sadly but a sociological outlook of London, Security Studies, transnational social movements, and politics of forced displacement. They started out being very stressful figuring out how to obtain the reading materials, what I do and do not have to read (we don’t actually HAVE to read anything its just a suggestion… I don’t understand this so I’ve been doing all the reading) but at this point I have figured it all out and have even prepared for my first presentation this monday. In class I did regularly get pointed as for representing NYC because I’m American, and was told by some classmates that I have a really nice accent which of course I appreciate. I am trying to do as much exploration here as possible so after class I found the Islington museum and found out some of the history of my neighborhood. The highlights are that Islington became a village in 1086 ad means “Gisla’s hilltop” in Anglo-Saxon, and that one of the oldest pubs in London is a ten minute walk from me. I finally made it to St. Paul’s Cathedral and the millennium bridge (aka the one that is destroyed in Harry Potter). The view from the bridge was amazing including a view of Shakespeare’s globe theater and the tower bridge in the distance! I also explored the natural history museum which was amazing! The inside was beautiful and the exhibits were highly interactive and educational, I would suggest it to anyone coming to London!
That was all done on my day off from school, but on another day when I had a free morning I was able to just hop over to Hyde park and Kensington for a run! I love how easy it is to access areas that are so removed from the hustle and bustle of the city while still being able to catch the tube home.
This weekend has so far consisted of going dancing with some friends studying the library for a while, going on a pub crawl through Camden, and going to the Tate. And the most exciting thing was that I experienced my first London rain.
On another note I found this picture this week from Amsterdam this summer and finally checked off my last city! I cannot believe how blessed I am to have been to all the amazing places on that list, which was on a bag, and I cannot thank my parents enough for that. At one of the markets I found this wall that states “Before I die I want to” with hundreds of responses as to what people want to do before they die. I could never narrow it down to just one thing that I would put on this wall but my dream to travel is being fulfilled and I’m so happy about that! There is certainly something to be said about living a life well traveled.
It’s been a great week here and i’m excited for this coming one and all the adventures to come!
with love, Christine