That’s All, Folks!

I’m writing this from 40,000 feet up, somewhere over Greenland. We’ve got three more hours to go before we land at Dulles around 3pm today. I’ve had the time of my life showing these 16 extraordinarily smart, curious, mature young people around London — and now we’re all exhausted and happy to be coming home.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the students’ posts and that they are willing to show you all the other great pictures they took while they were in the UK that didn’t make it onto the blog. More importantly, I hope they fell in love with London a little bit these past nine days and that they got a taste for travel, for trying new things, and for exploring the rest of this amazing planet and its people.

Cheers,

Prof. Rick Bell

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B for Bye?

Around 8:45 this morning, our crew met in the lobby of The Stay Club to clean the place out of pain aux chocolats. Unfortunately, only the strong survive, and Grayson and Luke didn’t make it out of bed to breakfast to share the joys of toast and raspberry jam with the rest of us. Nevertheless, everyone was reunited when we made our way to the upstairs classroom where our course began nine days ago!

The class listened to a riveting presentation about decolonization’s effects on postwar immigration to the United Kingdom, and had lots of fun participating in one last interactive activity featuring index cards and matching things. We then watched the documentary I for India, which really should have been called I for I’m-Not-Crying-There’s-Just-Something-In-My-Eye. Fara (in her own words) “hasn’t cried so hard since Alvin and the Chipmunks, the Squeakquel.”

I for India was an emotional story told through a series of home videos that a family sent back and forth to each other across several decades. The film documented Yash Pal Suri and his family’s experiences as they immigrated from India to England, from England to India, and finally, back to England again.

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Our class watching I for India. Many a tear was shed.

After our discussion of the film and the readings, we went our separate ways to make the most of our last day in London.

Here is a recap of how the class spent the day!

Andy visited Hampton Court Palace, and stopped to take a selfie as he transferred at Clapham Junction.

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Andy’s Adventures at Clapham Junction.

Meanwhile, Claire and Kaila went to the Warner Brothers tour of Harry Potter studios, where they saw where most of the Harry Potter movies were shot! They got to check out all the authentic costumes, props, and animatronics.

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Kaila and Claire on their way to Hogwarts!

Averie, Fara, and Rachel revisited St. Paul’s Cathedral and walked around the area. While their lunch was “mediocre”, they stumbled upon an amazing dessert place that served Snapchat-worthy treats. 

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Averie, Fara, and Rachel taking the obligatory photo in front of a red phone booth!

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Decadent soft serve ice cream cone surrounded by a cloud of cotton candy (or as British people say, “candy floss”). Photo courtesy of Rachel’s snapstory.

Jenna and Justin went to the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, where they snapped some pictures of this whale carcass hanging from the ceiling and perused other natural history wonders. They then met up with the rest of the group to have dinner at Rocca, an Italian restaurant.

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Giant whale carcass featured at the Natural History Museum.

Meanwhile, Serena took a trip to Regent’s Park and got this lovely photo in front of the awesome fountains before meeting up with Fara and Kaila at the Hackney Empire for…

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Serena smiles in front of a picturesque fountain.

 

…Hamlet! Fara, Serena, and Kaila went to see an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet by the Royal Shakespeare Company, as they are very cultured people. Serena said the show was spectacular, especially since the majority of the cast was Black.

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Fara, Serena, and Kaila pose for a photo in front of the theater.

Faith went on another solo excursion, this time to have afternoon tea at Harrods. The menu consisted of a delicious selection of sandwiches, tea pastries and desserts from the Harrods’ patisserie, and hot scones served with clotted cream, rose petal jelly, strawberry preserves, and homemade lemon curd.

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A selection of desserts and scones to be enjoyed with Earl Grey tea.

Angela met up with a friend for lunch and a walk around Oxford Circus. Then, Angela and Faith (that’s us!) spent the evening at a local pub for dinner, then explored the area around Picadilly Circus Station!

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Faith and Angela’s dinner of calamari, chorizo and halloumi, and lamb skewers!

This is the last blog post and our last full day in the United Kingdom. Over the course of this trip, we averaged about 18,000 steps a day. That’s, like, 76 miles, which is almost the length of Delaware. So basically, what we’re saying is that we could have chosen to either spend our Spring Break on this amazing trip to London, or almost walk across Delaware.

We’re all really sad to be leaving London, especially considering we all just got a handle on navigating the Tube (pronounced Che-Ew-Buh, get it right!). We’re basically Londoners now, right?

Cheers!

Faith and Angela

 

Cooking Up an Exciting Day

Today we had a free morning until meeting at 12:30 in Westminster, right next to Big Ben (which unfortunately was in scaffolding and not visible). For the free morning, we split into many different groups. Luke, Jenna, Grayson, and Miriam left for the meeting somewhat early to go to Abbey Road, London NW8 and a Beatles cafe, but did not have enough time so they just got to the meeting early. Angela, Averie, and Fara went to the Paul bakery outside of St. Paul’s cathedral. Justin, Claire and Ben went to Westminster Abbey and did some sightseeing along the way. At Westminster Abbey, they found that it would be £22 to enter. Ben and Claire tried to see how far they could get without having to pay for tickets so they got their bags checked and made it almost far enough inside to get a good look, but weren’t able to get the full experience.

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Horse-mounted guard on the way to Westminster Abbey

At 12:30, the group met back up with Professor Bell who had finished his presentation in Scotland without getting booed. We met Dan Luther who would be our walking tour guide for the next 90 minutes. The walking tour discussed the life and career of Gandhi and his impact in the British Empire.

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Robert Clive, a major player in the East India Company, who’s statue marked the beginning of the walking tour

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Gandhi had a crush on one of the actresses at this theater and it led to a moral dilemma for him

After the walking tour with Dan, we had a quick lunch at Paddington station! The place was called EAT., and Dr. Bell kindly paid for everything, confusing the staff who now had to deal with 16 different orders. 

After lunch, the group moved on to the next part of their schedule; learning about Indian immigration to the UK and making dinner with renowned Indian chef Monisha Bharadwaj (who had been a judge on Iron Chef, as we learned!).

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Paying close attention to Monisha

The group enjoyed a walk through the suburban town of Southall in West London, learning about the history of immigration of Indians to the UK. First, we visited the Glassy Junction–or, rather, walked by it, since the Glassy Junction (named literally after the fact that it is a pub that is located at a major crossroads in Southall) is now a regular old supermarket. We then walked down the street a bit to about a company that sets up marriages for people of similar religions, castes, and familial backgrounds. It works as a dating service, only with very exact expectations on both sides.

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Arranged marriage firm

The group explored more of the city and spent some time in an Indian grocery store. Monisha explained to us the difference between restaurant Indian food and home-made Indian food, and we were allowed to roam around the store for a bit to explore all the different snacks, rices, etc.

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Exploring the fruit in the Indian grocery store

After leaving the grocery store, the group entered a Hindu temple and was greeted with kindness and welcoming words. We were able to experience part of a ceremony, and the family performing the ceremony even offered to let us eat with them as a sign of hospitality. We very clearly stuck out like a sore thumb at that point, but that family and all the temple-goers were very kind to us.

After we went to the grocery store, Monisha took us down Southall’s “high street”, the main shopping and commercial area. A few of us were able to stop and get street corn, which was very refreshing! We stopped in to a very fancy Indian bridal store, which had lots of beautiful clothing at a high price, of course. Everyone was wow’d by the elaborate details on the colorful dresses. Monisha also let us window-shop at a jewellery store, where she explained that bling is the thing in India.

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Justin picks out his wedding dress

After a bus ride from the main street of Southall to Monisha’s house, the group listened to Serena and Luke’s presentation about the national dish of the UK and how chicken tikka masala does not measure up to the standard of a national dish. With the help of Monisha, they then cooked a more authentic Indian dinner consisting of lamb, chickpeas, yogurt and cucumber salad, and rice. There was a team for each part of the dish, which was incredibly delicious and satisfying, especially because we all hand-made it with Monisha’s expertise! While the food simmered and cooked slowly, we played Heads-up, which is a little like charades.

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Preparing to chef it up at Monisha’s house

We fared Monisha farewell and went on the Tube again to get back to central London, specifically Leicester Square. It’s there that we saw a stand-up comedy show, performed by Tom Houghton, who comes from a posh military family and ribbed on his background a lot. The group then split up after the show was over. Some went back to the Stay Club to catch up on sleep, others went to pubs, and others went to clubs. All in all, it can definitely be said that we cooked up yet another great day in London!

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High-intensity heads-up!

 

Marylanders Take Western Europe!

Today was our free day, so our group split off to pursue various adventures across Western Europe.

Jenna, Ben, Luke, Andy, Claire, Faith, Fara, Grayson, Rachel, and Kaila woke up the earliest of all to catch the Eurostar to Paris, France. We caught up on sleep during the two-hour ride underneath the sea. Upon arriving, we found ourselves severely underprepared and facing a steep language barrier. After 30 minutes of wandering around, losing various members of the group, and Grayson almost falling victim to a scam, we eventually found our way onto the blue line 2 towards the Arc de Triomphe. We took a quick photo session and headed to Cafe George V for a quick brunch of crepes. Afterward, we walked down to the Eiffel Tower where we took more pictures and Ben, Luke and Jenna fell into another tourist scam (but got some sick friendship bracelets out of the whole ordeal).

 

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When you twin with your crepe.

 

Faith then split off and spent the rest of her day solo navigating Paris. She walked through the cheese shops of Paris and was brave enough to try escargot (and resourceful enough to google how to eat them). She took from the day a full bag of chocolate and macaroons.

Our main group then took a bus through Paris towards the love lock bridge. Andy bought a lock for him and his girlfriend and Claire got a lock for her and her dogs.

 

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Locks of love ❤

 

At this point, Rachel, Fara, and Kaila split for food. They ate raw fish for lunch, then went back to the arc, walked around, shopped, and bought souvenirs from markets behind bridges, where books and art were being sold.

The remaining six (Luke, Andy, Jenna, Claire, Ben, and Grayson) then took to the streets towards Notre Dame. Luke and Andy copped some berets and then we toured the church and lit some candles. We then headed to dinner at Le Paradis where Jenna and Claire found paradise with some ravioli and a cat. The squad then headed back to the train station where we reconnected with the rest of our peers and took the train home (but not without a scare from Rachel first).

 

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Andy and Luke looking fly in their berets! 

 

Justin stayed local in London and went to the National Gallery, where he saw a bunch of paintings like Turner’s rain steam and speed.

 

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A painting that Justin admired.

 

Noah headed out to tour Oxford.

 

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Noah’s view of Oxford!

 

Miriam also explored different parts of London on her day off, and she went to see Matilda the musical.

 

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Miriam’s view of Matilda, the musical!

 

Angela started her morning off by visiting Westminster and watching a debate in the House of Commons. She then met up with Serena and Averie to go to Oxford Circus where they went shopping.

 

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Our lovely ladies in Picadilly Circus!

 

Thanks for reading!

-Jenna and Ben

Everybody’s Talking About the Great Exhibition!

We started our day by returning to Greenwich, and the National Maritime Museum with plans of meeting up with John McAleer from the University of Southampton. Things went wrong from the start. A few of us students were variously lost, then found, then lost again. Additionally, while approaching Greenwich, our train got stuck behind another, adding an extra half hour onto our trip. This caused Dr. Bell to strike our tour of the interior of the Indian tea trading ship the Cutty Shark from the program.

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Dr. Bell is not to happy about the delay.

Nevertheless, we persisted and had an excellent tour of a gallery dedicated to the history of the British East Indian Company in a gallery designed by our guide, Dr. McAleer. He taught us about the progression of the Company, from bumbling unprofessional to masters of the subcontinent. Along the way, he told us the curatorial backstory to many of the items in the exhibit, such as how he managed to sneak the largest barnacle into the display, as a sort of joke.

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Luke always trying to jump in everyones picture!!!

 

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Justin & Averie teaching everyone about the Great Exhibition.

After that, many of us had lunch at a local pub in Greenwich, serving such classics as fish and chips, vegetarian lasagna, and burgers. Then it was off to South Kensington, the home of the Victoria and Albert Museum which we barely scratched the surface of. We were guided by the delightful Hilary Smith, whose boundless energy put us young whippersnappers to shame, and I’m sure we all wanted her to be our grandmother. She is also an expert in ancient India and the Middle East, the subject of our visit. There we saw artifacts such as rugs, statues, and jewelry. We also so the fascinating Cast Court, a hall of copies of famous sculptors which features a copy of Michelangelo’s David and the Florence Baptistery’s doors, among countless others.
Leaving there we went to a wonderful Polish restaurant. Many people got the dumplings which achieved wide acclaim. One adventurous student got the Pig Trotters (pickled pigs feet), and the rabbit for dinner which he says was excellent. For dessert, there were some delicious cakes. They were of the chocolate, cheese, or plum variety.

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Enjoying a delicious Polish dinner.

We finished our day by attending a performance of the musical Everybody’s Talking about Jamie. The musical’s titular character is a young boy struggling with his dreams of becoming a drag queen. The play is barely over a year old and has been moved to London’s West End (the Broadway of London). The performance was attended by Modern Family cast member Jessie Tyler Fergusson. Various students were variously dying of laughter and balling their eyes out.

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“What if I never stop crying?” -Fara

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Claire and Jesse Tyler Ferguson!!

On the return trip home a few of us happened to realize we were on the tube with Michelle Fairley, who the night before had played Cassius in Julius Caesar. One of us offered her a cough drop as we had heard that she was sick the night before (which was impossible to tell by her excellent performance). She also portrayed a major character in HBO’s Game of Thrones (Catelyn Stark).

We look forward to students various free day adventures in places such as Paris, Oxford, and spots around London.

-Averie McMahon & Justin Hawkins

Wherefore art thou, Pret?

Today we saw more sunshine than we did in the previous days. Our day’s itinerary had mostly to do with slavery in London, featuring a guided walk with Dr. William Pettigrew of University of Kent. He was knowledgeable and answered all our questions about the historic city. Throughout our walk, Serena said that she counted a total of 21 Prets! Fara said we walked 20,000 steps today. That’s almost 1 Pret for every 952 steps.

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Professor Pettigrew preaches professionally to people promptly 

After seeing the remains of the Roman amphitheater at Guildhall, Miriam and Grayson presented about the Somerset Case, a case which shook the foundations of slavery. Everyone learned about the important role Mansfield’s decision in the Somerset Case was toward the abolition of slavery. After, we went to various spots around London, all demonstrative of the role slavery had in the history of London.

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We willingly watch profound presentations

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Friends fighting for the focus of the camera film in the Roman amphitheater 

We ended our tour at a charming rooftop right outside of St. Paul’s. It gave us a magnificent view of London’s skyline, including St. Paul’s dome. For lunch, we went to “Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese”, a historic pub in the City of London which was beloved by Dr. Johnson (whose house we went to yesterday). The fish and chips were delicious! We said goodbye to Dr. Pettigrew and continued on our journey.

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Dr. Bell doubts his decision of dutifully leading us around

We traveled by an older double decker bus to the National Portrait Gallery. There, we all learned about the history of people’s role in the slave trade through these portraits. Luke was very enthusiastic about Charles II and his multiple mistresses. “He was a finesse god”, Luke proclaimed to us. We then had the privilege of hearing from Jenna and Ben about an abolition conference held in London during the 1840’s, which was attended by many famous abolitionists from all over the world. A painter was not kind in portraying the people he disliked, like women and Americans. Oops. We then headed to an Asian restaurant right in the view of the London Tower Bridge. Directly afterwards we headed over to Bridge Theatre where we saw the contemporary and very interactive version of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. Claire was covered in Caesar’s blood and rubble by the end. “I love it!” she exclaimed. Some of us even got autographs and pictures with Ben Whishaw! “He was shorter than I thought,” commented Fara. “But the beard makes up for it,” said Kaila. “It’s a good beard. It’s a good face.”

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We loved the lovely London Bridge

Altogether, the sunshine was lovely, the city was beautiful, the play was exhilarating, and everyone learned plenty of things. Hopefully everyone will be prepared for another exciting day tomorrow!

-Miriam and Grayson

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A historic bus from the 60’s was our unique ride to the portrait gallery.

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Here are all of us having a jolly ole time on the bus!

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Justin judges the advertisements while everyone just looks confused

 

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Leadenhall Market, (or Diagon Alley from Harry Potter!)

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Look at Luke and Andy getting on chummy in the meat market!

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Outside of Cheshire Cheese.

Here Comes the Sun

Today was another brisk morning as we made the trek to Willesden Junction Tube Stop. We were unfortunately traveling during rush hour, so the trains were bursting with commuters traveling to London. In fact, our group was separated several times because the trains were so full. In between trains, we fueled up on coffee and a variety of breakfast foods before making our first stop.

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The sky was grey in Willesden once again.

The first stop of the day was St. Paul’s Cathedral, the largest cathedral in London. St. Paul’s (pictured below) was designed by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire in 1666. While we explored St. Paul’s Cathedral, we looked at the statues of prominent British War Heroes, visited the Whispering Gallery, and viewed the tombs in the basement. Noah and Kaila (The people writing this blog!) gave a talk in front of the statue of Lord Nelson, a very famous British naval officer who served and was killed in the Napoleonic Wars in the early 19th century. They talked about Lord Nelson’s life as well as the significance of the statue in the context of St. Paul’s. In the nineteenth century and even now, this dude was a BIG deal, literally. His statue was fifteen feet above the air, and was scaled up by 150%. Other famous Britons entombed in the basement include Christopher Wren, the Duke of Wellington, and Nelson’s second in command, Cuthbert Collingwood.

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Wren’s coup de grace was looking mighty fine. (St. Paul’s cathedral was built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of 1666).

 

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The hero of Trafalgar standeth tall / in marble he stands true in old St. Paul.

After leaving St. Paul’s, the gang headed east to the London Museum at the Docklands.

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The escalator brought the smiles out /  they’d catch the train to Docklands, have no doubt.

 

At the Museum of Docklands, the class considered an exhibit entitled London, Sugar, and Slavery. The exhibit discussed the exchange across the Atlantic between Jamaica, Britain, and West Africa, and the related flow of money, resources like sugar and rum, and people like enslaved Africans and English entrepreneurs. The resources that Jamaica provided made it a profitable colony, but its environment was harsh. Both the British and Africans were susceptible to diseases, but the Africans tended to be slightly more resistant to them. However, a typical Briton only lasted about 20 years on the island before they passed away, while half of Africans died within six months of passage. We then sat in a WWII bunker to discuss the Atlantic slave trade and the strengths and weaknesses of the exhibit.

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“Jamaica was a slaughterhouse”, said (Dr.) Bell / the middle passage was a living hell.

The last half of the day was spent learning about Dr. Samuel Johnson, who wrote the first comprehensive English Dictionary. To gain an understanding of Johnson’s life, we traveled to his house in Gough Square. Helen, our wonderful guide, explained the architecture of the home while also going through Johnson’s literary career. During our discussion, run by Fara and Rachel, we debated how Johnson  treated his servant, Francis Barber. Black Londoners often worked as servants who completed housework or acted as personal assistants. Johnson afforded Barber freedoms that other servants did not have at that time, like receiving an education. Johnson did not give Barber tasks that could have been seen as demeaning; for example, Barber was not required to assist putting on Johnson’s shoes or get oysters, a food for the poor at the time, for his pet cat, Hodge.  Barber worked for Johnson for about 30 years, until Johnson passed away. After his death, Johnson, remarkably, made Barber the inheritor of his possessions; although these were few due to his inability to manage his money.

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The Dr. Johnson’s house is in Gough Square / to swerve the nasty, dirty London air.

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Claire found a feline friend from Samuel J / a statue to admire along the way.

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A little game of dress-up by the gals / it’s clear they quickly have become right pals.

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A great debate, which riled up some feels / on Johnson’s moves on Barber: did he steal?

The final item on our itinerary for today was watching Amazing Grace, and eating dinner from a local Trinidadian restaurant. The movie was made in 2007, the bicentennial of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. While the movie was corny and arguably terrible, it showcased the importance of the legislative aspect of abolitionism, and the politics that were required to pass the abolition law. Members of Parliament were wealthy and represented merchants who assisted in the transportation of enslaved Africans. If these MPs supported abolition, they would be going against their own beliefs as well as the people that they represented. Eventually, the public opinion turned against the slave trade, and the Napoleonic wars with France made abolition of the slave trade politically expedient. We criticised the movie’s seeming narrative that abolition was carried out only by rich white men, when in reality it was propelled by a coalition of black Englishmen, women, and powerful men that worked towards the abolition of the slave trade. Looking forward to another great day tomorrow! -Noah and Kaila

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The sun, for the first time on this trip!

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The “Renaissance” picture.

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Pound Land or bust.

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The intrepid bloggers in front of St. Paul’s!

After a quick breakfast at Pret (and, for some of us, running back up the wrong escalator), we arrived at the Museum of London. We started by discussing the distinctions that existed between England, Wales, and Scotland at the time that the Act of Union was passed, effectively joining the three nations into what we now know as Great Britain. Despite having very different cultures, languages, and populations, these three nations were able to unify under the increased popularity of anti-Catholic sentiment, which gave rise to the spread of Protestantism. We then received a tour through the Museum of London by Janet Dickinson, who told us about the destruction of London churches while Britain was transitioning from a Catholic nation to a Protestant one during the English Reformation. In addition to the insecurity that the reformation period created, we learned about factors like exotic tastes (the Great Exhibition, for example), political theatre, and emphasis on maritime exploration that fueled British empire building.

American Alert! Prepare yourself, Museum of London

Serena’s eager to join the conversation

Janet Dickinson taking us to church with her detailed tour of the Museum of London

Angela showing us her expertise in her chosen artifact, a silk dress

Next, we took the DLR to the Old Royal Naval College, which is (shocker) an old royal naval college! Despite the snow, we made it safely (though not warmly) to the Painted Hall. From there, we donned orange hard hats and reflective vests to climb up the stairs to be three feet away from the ceiling! However, it was not just any ceiling. This was James Thornhill’s work commemorating liberty and peace and celebrating Protestantism. He included images like a falling papal crown, and leaders in scientific discovery, such as Copernicus. The Painted Hall is world famous, and is thought of as Britain’s Sistine Chapel. It has been featured in over 100 films and has been cleaned and conserved many times in its life. You can even sponsor a square foot!

Ceiling Gazing: A bunch of us circled up on the floor to get a better view of the painted ceiling

Admirals Claire and Andy presenting on the Royal Navy in the chapel across from the Painted Hall

After Claire and Andy’s lovely nautical presentation, we climbed up the massive hill overlooking Greenwich Park and took turns standing on both the Eastern and Western hemispheres! The awe and wonder didn’t last long as we had to rush back down and head to the National Maritime Museum. Unfortunately, our second tour guide and author of one of our readings, John McAleer, couldn’t be with us (but that just meant a three-course meal a few hours later). We had a short chat about the purpose of museums and the benefits and limitations they created before taking on the “Atlantic Worlds” and “Nelson, Navy, Nation” exhibits for ourselves. When we regrouped, we flexed our critical thinking skills by sharing things we liked and disliked about each.

Rachel striking a pose on both sides of the globe!

Grouping up in this little alcove to talk about museums gave “group chat” a brand new meaning

We took a boat ride back to the Tube station so we could get to Piccadilly Circus to walk to dinner. Unfortunately, we almost lost two of our own! Thankfully, Serena and Noah didn’t misread our “two stops” signals as peace signs! The whole group had an amazing three-course meal at Zédel, a classy French restaurant where they could definitely tell we were all Americans. Afterwards, we took a quick 40-minute detour to Buckingham Palace to stand outside, have strangers take our picture, and compare the Queen’s role in government to that of a back-up quarter back. Then, the group split up and, quite literally, raced back to the Stay Club, some by bus and others via the Tube. Since Rachel and I were on the bus, I think it’s fair to say that we were all winners today.

Serena and Noah make their triumphant return to the group after missing the tube the first time around

Thanks, John McAleer!

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Too bad for the Queen, she wasn’t there to meet us!

Thanks for reading! -Fara & Rachel

Is it normal to have 40 hours in a day?

No.  The answer is no, but at least this one in particular was very well spent. At 18:15 the young, eager, soon to be Londoners, already exhausted from midterms, papers, and the stresses of a long half semester, prepared for the journey of a lifetime. Equipped with too much luggage, expectations for warm-ish weather (which meant that most of their luggage would be useless), and ear-to-ear smiles and feelings of excitement, they boarded the very British Virgin Atlantic Flight VS22 to London Heathrow. Dr. Bell foretold of the coming day’s longevity and the exhaustion that would likely accompany, and wisely insisted that the students do not, at any cost, touch the media player screen on the seat in front of them, and try and sleep as much as possible. Naturally, that didn’t happen. So they were off with a full day ahead of them running on minimal sleep and maximum caffeine. First things first, a ride on the iconic Tube in which it was unbelievably obvious to passer-bys that the students were American based off their poor imitations of British accents saying “Mind the Gap” out loud. After arriving at the residence, The Stay Club in the lovely Willesden, and unpacking, the previous day’s assignment on the history, characteristics of, and opinions on the British Imperial Empire were discussed. From there, it was back to the Tube. The first stop was the Walkie-Talkie building (pictured below), and its name unsurprisingly comes from its shape. The top floor of the building secretly, or unbeknownst to the naked eye, housed the SkyGarden, which was an indoor terrarium with sweeping and spectacular views of the entire landscape of London. Pictures were indeed taken. It was there that the group met up with and introduced to one of London’s finest tour guides, Rex, who also doubled as a superhero who was absolutely and suspiciously impervious to the arctic temperatures. Rex led a walking tour of Imperial London that consisted of many statues, monuments, landmarks, and buildings, and areas that dated back to the rise and fall of the British Empire. Some highlights include the Charing Cross monument (a remake after the original was destroyed by the puritans as it was seen as idolatry) which by no coincidence, is located outside the Charing Cross Rail Station. The group also learned a great deal about the importance of the London railway system and its remarkably expansive nature. Other highlights include passing through Trafalgar Square, and the High Commissions of Canada and South Africa (which are similar to embassies but are more prestigious as the members are part of the Commonwealth). Other war monuments were visited and discussed including that of (the steps commemorating) the infamous battle of Waterloo. The group then found itself deciding whether or not to visit the Queen down at Buckingham Palace, but eventually elected to save that for another day. Day one was rounded off with a river cruise down the Thames that landed the group in the new financial hub of the city in Canary Wharf, in the east of the city, and rewarded their hard day’s work with a fantastic dinner at Chai Ki, downtown. Day one couldn’t have gone better except for the weather!

 

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Big pointy thingy seen from the top of the SkyGarden

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Tremendous amounts of architecture, famous buildings, and more; a view from the SkyGarden

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Rex really thinks we should value camels more for their war effort

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Can you tell they’re smiling about being inside the warmth of a boat

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Fara was clearly feeling the lack of sleep during our cruise.

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Dinner. Need I say more

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The only two brave enough to try the hot peppers

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On our way…

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The scarily designed office building with a national park on top (SkyGarden)

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“Waterloo – Couldn’t escape if I wanted to”

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How many pictures did we take of monuments?…

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I promise we took a lot…

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These were just a few

 

Thank you for reading!! Look forward to more posts as we spend more time here in London

– Andy and Claire

Just Days to Go!

Welcome to our class blog!

Starting on Saturday  17 March, 2018, we’ll make daily posts to this site to show family and friends back home what we’re up to in London.

With just a few days to go before we head to London, here’s a few words about PACKING

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It’s spring in the UK and that can sometimes mean rain, wind, and even snow. So let’s pack accordingly. Bring a warm waterproof coat, a hat, gloves and a scarf.

Cram everything into ONE suitcase (one with wheels is best) and be sure to pack (in your hand luggage) your passport, details of your e-ticket, an ATM card and a credit card, and your source pack.

You can convert your US$ funds into GB£ funds in lots of ways, but the simplest by far is to make sure there are funds in your US Bank Account and to use UK ATMs when you arrive in London late Saturday or first thing Sunday.

And here’s a note about Friday night, DEPARTURE DAY

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Our flight leaves Dulles at 8.05pm. Dulles is about an hour’s drive from College Park or you can take metro (Green line to Silver line and transfer to a shuttle at Wiehle Ave). If anyone needs a ride from the College Park area, drop me a line (rjbell@umd.edu).

You can arrive at Dulles as early as you wish. I plan to arrive at about 6.15pm and to be in line to check-in for the flight at the Virgin Atlantic Counter in the main terminal. If your parents would like to meet me or say hi, that’s when and where they can find me. To put this another way: let’s meet at 6.15pm at the Virgin Atlantic Counter and plan to go through security together. If you can’t find us there, make your own way to the gate in plenty of time. My US cell is 202 288 0734 if you need to reach me that evening.

Blog Test

As a test of how to use this blog, please do two things:

1. Use the comments section below to say hi or to ask a question.

2. Give your parents and friends our weblink: https://umdlondon.wordpress.com/ so they can see our photos and stories and follow along with our trip.