That’s All Folks….

This morning we’re packing up and heading to the airport.

Since arriving here eight days ago, we’ve been busy: 10 galleries, 10 discussion readings, 8 expert guides, 8 student presentations, 8 group meals, 8 blog posts, 6 museums, 4 walking tours, 2 plays, 1 skyscraper, 1 movie, 1 documentary, 1 lecture, 1 cathedral, 1 historic ship, 1 river cruise, too many visits to Pret a Manger to count, thousands of steps climbed, and dozens of miles walked.
It was a privilege encountering London with this wonderful group of students, and I hope the trip leaves them hungry to return here again and eager to build lives in which foreign travel plays a major part.
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Last Day Free Day

Today, we had the entire day free to do as we pleased, and the group did a variety of activities.

Lilliany, Emily, and I (Matt) all traveled to the beautiful city of Paris, France today! Bright and early at 7 am we left the Stay Club to catch a train to the international train station. After a 2.5 hour train ride across the English Channel and into France, we arrived in Paris to a variety of new sights and sounds. Most different was the French Metro, a vast difference from the Tube we were used to (the Tube is much nicer, be thankful). After struggling with the ticket machine for what felt like forever, we were approached by a woman who said she worked with the station specifically to help travelers struggling with the metro flashed some sort of badge. After a lot of fast talking and button pushing, we got our tickets, feeling a bit like we got scammed… but hey, we made it, right? So, we rode an incredibly packed Metro train to Notre Dame, where we stopped for some delicious crepes, with a beautiful view of the Notre Dame from our outdoor seating. Following our meal, we started following the river Seine around Paris to hit as many tourist attractions as possible. First, we viewed Notre Dame (from the outside, as the line to get in stretched all the way back to London) as well as a woman holding several pigeons on her arms… Then, we went to Sainte-Chappellew, a church with the most beautiful stained glass windows.

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Sainte-Chapelle’s Glass Window.

Next, we saw the Louvre (from the outside of course), passed by the Roue de Paris and the Luxor Obelisk (the big wheel and the pointy thing) and began our trek down the Champs-Elysees to reach the Arc de Triomphe, where we found a ridiculous spelling of the word “Smurfs.”

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Why are there so many extra letters?

There we got a closeup view of the inside of the arch, as well as a great view of the surrounding area. We wrapped up our day with the ever-popular Eiffel Tower, where we got some great pictures to wrap up a great visit to Paris!

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Eiffel tower!!

Joey spent the majority of his day at the British Museum, referred to be Professor Bell as “huge free museum of stuff British people stole from around the world.” Joey found this to be completely accurate, as the majority of his tour featured facts such as where they got the artifacts from, when, and how. Taking a page out of Dr. John McAleer’s handbook, he spent his time at the museum analyzing the exhibits both for content and aesthetic, finding many of the exhibits uninteresting and/or poorly set-up (see picture).

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ehhhhhhh.

Several members of our group went to see the new play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.” Under the impression that all the tickets were sold out, they bought their tickets on Stubhub for £60 a pop, only to be informed upon entry that “their tickets were not valid.” They were forced to buy their tickets again, this time for £20, and given paperwork to fill out so that they could get their refund from Stubhub after essentially being scammed. So that was a wild ride. However, the group had the pleasure of meeting THE Daniel Radcliffe, who took lots of pictures, have great discussions, and even let Alexis video a birthday message from him to her friend.

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“Is that [expletive] Harry Potter?” – Gabi’s Mom’s Boss

Others saw the new Beauty and the Beast movie, with mostly positive reviews, with some interesting commentary on the Beast among other things.

I (Meredith) got out of bed at approximately 3:20 p.m., to find that, shockingly, everyone else had already left to do their own things. Professor Bell ridiculed me endlessly for this, because apparently a person can’t just get up in the middle of the afternoon. Way before I left to go on this trip, I had been wanting to pay a visit to Bubbleology, a bubble tea shop located in SoHo that makes bubble tea cocktails, so I promptly made my way over there. I ordered an absolutely delicious drink that was essentially raspberry bubble tea with vodka in it, which was wonderful, especially since bubble tea and alcohol are two of my favorite things. I also visited a small book sale that was located directly across the street from the shop, mainly featuring books on homosexuality, communism, and psychology, which are a few of my favorite topics, so I picked up two books for £7 (amazing). After this, I went out to an absolutely delicious dinner with most of the rest of the group at a fantastic Lebanese place. Most of us ordered cocktails, since it was our last night out in London, which were also delicious. After we finished our dinner, I went out with five other people to see Beauty and the Beast, which we all thoroughly enjoyed. The movie theater sold alcohol, so we were all pretty pleased with how the evening turned out.

Others went out to sightsee at various locations. Notting Hill drew a large crowd, an attraction from a popular movie of the same name. Following this, there was a Brexit protest that drew a large crowd.

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Protest!

Another was Emirates Stadium, home to the Arsenal Football Club, a beautiful pitch for those who toured. Finally, many visited different marketplaces to go shopping for shopping and souvenirs.

Quotes from the Trip

“I went to Shrek’s Adventure today. First thing I see is a man dressed as Shrek, and he says ‘GET OUT OF MY SWAMP.’ I said ‘Yes, sir,’ and immediately walked out of his swamp. I bought a donkey hat, now I can walk around with just the head of donkey from Shrek, I’m so excited. Also they had this thing where they pick out Lord Farquaad’s eligible wives, and they picked me y’all! I was so lit. I couldn’t believe it. By the way, I did not go to Shrek’s Adventure. I took a picture outside of it.” -Alexis

Note: Meredith cried the entire time she was typing this.

“What sound does a British duck make? Is it the traditional ‘quack?’ Or is it more of a ‘quek?’” -Lilliany

“What type of dusty are you?” -Alexis

“When you’re in a strip club, do you throw pound coins at strippers?” -Alexis

“I’m being cultural” -Lilliany

“I like the gap” – Lilliany

“I like the GAP” – John

“I have a question” – Lilliany (Professor Bell groans)

“I went into Topshop and it was terrifying. I was so bewildered that I just bought pants and left.” -Isabella

“I’m shook” -Gabi

“I’m so tired of those stupid shirts that just say ‘Kale’ on them. I wanna see a shirt that says ‘Kale yourself’ on it. I would buy that from Forever 21.” -Taylor

(In reference to KFC) “I’ll always find the Colonel.” -John

“If I can convince one British person that I am genuinely from New Zealand, I will be fulfilled.” -Rachael

“I have the calves of an angel” -Professor Bell

“I think if I had to be an emoji I’d be the panda emoji. No particular reason. I just kinda feel like it’s me.” -Andre

“Have you guys heard Shrek dubstep? I gotta turn my wifi on for this.” -Emily

“What are you doing? Life is worth living!” -Guy who almost hit us with his car

“Walking so much today gave me a whole new respect for those people who sang the 500 miles song. Like 500 miles?! I can only do 12!” -Emily

“Why are you like this?” -said by everyone to everyone at some point

It’s been lit.

-Meredith and Matt

Day 7 – What’s Cookin Good-Lookin?

For much of our group, today was our first real day we were able to sleep in and significantly catch up on some much needed sleep. For a select number of students, this was not the case. A small group of four departed bright and early at 7:45am to catch their 9:30am tour of Harry Potter Studios. They did not eat breakfast. They were dying from lack of sleep and sore feet from the previous days excursions. But, it’s Harry Potter, so they continued on like the fearless Terps they are. It was amazing. Or as British people would say, BRILLIANT. From eating delicious Butterbeer ice cream to riding a broomstick through London(with the help of a greens screen)– the magic of Harry Potter came to life and it was definitely worth the money and the wait. Since Amanda, Isabella, and Matt both ditched me during the tour for taking too long (they finished about 45 minuets early), I only have pictures of me having the time of my life so here you go.

 

Everyone else, after sleeping in, many wrote their papers Professor Bell is making us do because he hates us, and some went to the tower of London to look at the crown jewels. We were suppose to meet at Paddington Station, and everyone made it on the train on time except for me (Alexis) because I had to go to the Lou and everyone ditched me (they keep doing that.). With the guide of sweet Emily’s voice over the phone I was able to make my way to the train everyone was on– jumping over suitcases, dodging angry Londoners who have important places to be, doing plenty of impressive acrobatic moves, I was able to make it on the train with 4 seconds to spare and was met by cheers from the entire group– they had little faith I would make it but I PERSEVERED.

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Students visiting the Tower of London

The next phase of the day was a walking tour of Southall – a South Asian cultural hub in London. We met up with Monisha Bharadwaj, a notable Indian chef who taught us the ways in which Indian culture has grown throughout Britain. Monisha grew up in India and was trained to be a chef. She then came to the U.K. and has been here for 30 years. She has created her own business here and has written 15 books. Throughout the tour, she encouraged us to ask questions, especially ones that may seem “strange.” This led to the resurfacing of the question: how do ducks quack in Britain? Monisha informed us that they do indeed still “quack” on this side of the pond.

Monisha showed us various places in Southall and described their importance to Indian culture. She pointed to a Sikh Temple that we could see in the distance and told us that it was the largest of its kind outside of India. The Temple is big on supporting the community and they welcome any and everyone (they provide headscarves and coverings for guests.) We also visited a Hindu temple and Monisha gave us some fun facts about the religion. Did you know you can’t convert to Hinduism? You must be born into the religion. Many of the things she lectured helped break down stereotypes that many of us had about Indian culture. We visited an arranged marriage agency and Monisha explained that arranged marriages are still common in the Indian community, but they are not something that should be frowned upon or mistaken as a forced marriage. Families look for partners that would be compatible with their children by examining factors like religion and caste, all the way down to their favorite Netflix original. While talking about traditional aspects of Indian Culture, like arranged marriages, she also talked about how the new generations have adapted traditions to fit modern times (they have arrange marriage websites now.)

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Monisha explained the role of arranged marriages today

Next we ventured into a Quality Foods market, the largest market in Southall. This place catered to its large Indian population by selling lots of vegetables and spices. They had mangos, blueberries, even coconuts and bananas. Some of us tried some unfamiliar items, like some fudge-sweets and some nasty candy bought by Professor Bell that he so graciously passed on to the rest of us. (As stated by Matt “I cried and it wasn’t good.”) Monisha also took us into an Indian clothing store, where we learned that Indian people are the only people in the world with a true sense of fashion. The clothing was incredibly colorful and full of jewels and sequins. We were sad we could not bring any of the saris home with us, but we took many pictures to remember them once back in the States.

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The largest market in Southall (fun fact – they sold Dr Pepper!)

After the tour, we hopped on a bus to Monisha’s house. She graciously let us come over for a couple hours to help teach us how to make an authentic Indian dish. Before whipping it up in the kitchen, we (Alexis and Emily) gave a thrilling, gripping presentation on the factors that led to chicken tikka masala becoming the national dish of Great Britain. After our presentation, it was time to cook. *cue Breaking Bad music.* We made Chickpea Curry, Minced and green peas, and cucumber and mint raita salad. Our group divided into teams: the chickpea team, the salad team, and the lamb team. The chickpea team was forced to cut all the onions and were crying heavily.Through our collective efforts and the helpful guidance from Monisha, we created an incredibly tasty meal. As described by Alexis, the meal was “yummy in my tummy.” We also got to keep copies of the recipes and will show off our new skills when we get back.

After saying farewell to Southall, we ventured back into the heart of London for our activities. Amanda and Isabella saw the play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” starring the boy who lived, Daniel Radcliffe. They said that it was excellent and hilarious, and they both were able to get pictures with Daniel at the stage door afterwards. The rest of the class stopped at a bakery for dessert, then attended a hilarious stand-up comedy set by Micky Bartlett, a comedian from Northern Ireland (or, as he described, the bad Ireland.) The whole class was bursting in laughter, especially Professor Bell– mostly because he was the only one who understood British Humor.

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Meeting Daniel Radcliffe!

 

Peace out y’all

– Alexis and Emily

Day 6- March to the Thames

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National Gallery at Trafalgar Square

Do you ever have one of those mornings where it feels like the universe is just telling you to stay at home? That was today.

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We were all really tired getting up today, so this ad seemed rather appropriate

At 9 am sharp, Professor Bell rounded us up and promptly directed us to the tube station. We eventually made it to Pret a Manger, but not before missing our train and losing over half of the group. We sat down and it hadn’t even been five minutes before it was announced that it would be a walking breakfast. We gathered our coffees, croissants, and breakfast sandwiches and headed out (ran) to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Amanda and I (Gabi) went inside the museum to give our presentation on The Great Exhibition and how the exhibitions of the nineteenth century were representative of the British Empire.

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Courtyard within the Victoria and Albert Museum

Following our presentation, we were guided through the museum’s India Gallery by Hillary Smith, a 74-year-old woman with the energy and enthusiasm of a young cocker spaniel (a quite impressive feat as many of us were still drowsy from our unfinished Pret run). Unfortunately, due to our debacle this morning, we were a bit pressed for time while at the museum and weren’t able to explore the entire collection, but from the architecture and the exhibits we saw, it appeared to be an excellent museum. (“This is my favorite place in London” “10/10 would recommend” “★★★★★”- Professor Bell)

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Entrance to the Victoria and Albert Museum

After our tour of the Victoria and Albert Museum, we went to get lunch in South Kensington at a Polish restaurant called Daquise. The food was amazing, one student said, “the wild boar dumplings were to die for, bear with me ladies- it was the texture of sand, but the taste of heaven” – Rachael.  

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^^Professor Bell’s favorite movie^^

During this lunch, many of us were able to have delightful conversations- including one in which we discovered that Mean Girls is Prof Bell’s favorite movie. In addition, as mentioned before, we previously watched a movie titled Amazing Grace, which featured what we thought to be the Bromance of the Century, the Bromance that Stood the Test of Time, a Bromance for the Ages, between William Wilberforce and William Pitt the Younger. We now believe that we were mistaken, as clearly the bromance between Dr. John McAleer and Professor Bell rivals theirs.

After our lunch, we began to make our way back towards Trafalgar Square, where we were to meet our guides for the Gandhi Walking Tour of London. In order to do so, a trip on the London Underground was required, and during our descent, we witnessed Professor Bell being the most British person we know and offering to help someone cart their buggy down the stairs.

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Man. Myth. Legend.

Following the terrible attack yesterday, London came together to show that they will not give in to fear and spirits will not not be broken. Countries across Europe, such as Germany and France, stood in solidarity with Britain. In Trafalgar Square there were drawings, messages of hope, and thoughtful messages for those who passed away. I (Gabi) noticed this drawing at Trafalgar Square and had to take a photo of it.

In the early afternoon, we began our Gandhi Walking Tour of London, during which Danny and Shaun (Sean? Shawn?) led us around the city while explaining the significance of London/the British Empire on Indian history.

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View from the end of our walking tour

Our guides were fantastic and the information was interesting, but in my (Amanda) personal opinion, there were a few big  takeaways- first, that Professor Bell literally walks at least 2 mph (3.22 kph for all you Brits out there) faster than us at all times, and second, that there are literally NO TRASH CANS in London.

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Clive of India

Another realization of the day related to our new favorite coffee chain, Pret a Manger and the city’s aversion to “rubbish bins” (as the locals call them). We stopped at two Prets today, one before our visit to the Victoria and Albert Museum, and one prior to our “Gandhi Walking Tour of London”-and unfortunately for us, in both cases, finished our drinks outside of the store, leaving us to desire rubbish bins. As we trekked through the streets of “Downtown London” (“No one calls it that”- Prof Bell), we noticed an abundance of Prets, in one case spotting two kitty-corner from each other (@TrafalgarSquare), and yet no trash cans. The majority of our group spent upwards of an hour holding empty coffee cups in their hands and traipsing through the city with slightly disgruntled looks on their faces. Our final calculations led us to believe that there are 4 Prets for every rubbish bin in London, so word to the wise: just don’t have trash.

(the four stages of getting Pret and then realizing there are no rubbish bins anywhere in London)

After we got back to The Stay Club, we ate pizza and fries (I guess people here think that we eat this). Later we watched a documentary titled I for India. We also got to see a very informative presentation by Meredith and Matt. We are excited to say that we have completed all the readings in our source book and we are excited to learn more about the current culture of Britain, as well as the history that shaped it!

-Gabi and Thingie (Amanda)

Day 5: A Taste of Freedom

Today, it was wet outside due to rain as well as our tears from having to walk through it at 9 in the morning. Our sorrows, however, would quickly dissipate as we received our daily dose of Pret a Manger and were soon after met with another brilliant discussion of British imperial history from Dr. John McAleer. Today, we learned about Britain’s maritime presence in a different context as we explored the East India Company’s ventures, which began in the 17th century and ended in the mid-19th century. As always, it was pretty cool learning how aspects of modern British culture we’ve observed connect to what they did centuries ago. Did you know that tea is the national drink of Great Britain because of the East India Company’s extensive trade with China? I did not, and I found it to be quite informative.

McAleer.jpgDr. McAleer dropping some major knowledge on the abolition of the East India Company.

At this point, about half of us (including Andre) split off to take a trip to Harry Potter Studios. Little did we know that the trip there would quickly become quite the ordeal. We boarded our train in eagerness, expecting to arrive promptly at our destination within the hour. It was the wrong train. Luckily, it turns out Harry Potter Studios doesn’t care about anything, and let us in an hour late to our tour, no questions asked. They even asked if one of us wanted to get a coffee before we went in.

The tour was MAGICAL. Without spoiling the trip for those who are going Friday, we can say that there were quite a few objects related to the Harry Potter film series. We recommend the butterbeer! You can make one in your home in about 10 seconds for a fraction of the price, but it would certainly be lacking in the authenticity that Warner Bros. Studios offers.IMG_2642.JPG The big entrance to the tour – quite a sight! John seems to like it (featured right).

HP.JPGA dazzling accessory to the set of the Yule Ball in the Goblet of Fire. Truly an architectural marvel.

The other half of us stayed and enjoyed the wonders of the Cutty Sark, a ship once used to transport tea, but it now a museum – complete with a small theatre inside. The ship truly truly retained an authentic and historic nature, as it smelled old and musty, somewhat like an attic. It was also really low down there – even Lilliany had to duck to enter the premises. We toured the boat, learning more about its instrumental role in tea trade from China as well as the lives of 17th, 18th, and 19th century seamen. The learning was facilitated by a few fun interactive features, including a nautical racing game to see who could get from Australia to Great Britain faster – us or the sailors of that time. We also got a chance to take a look at some of the food that seamen enjoyed/suffered through aboard their ships. It largely consisted of old pork and mashed peas – not quite up to par with Pret.

Boat.JPGAll aboard the Cutty Sark!

Not going in.JPGAmanda and Lilliany recreating some film about a boat on a boat.

Our groups would diverge even further at this point, as the Potter-goers continued to enjoy their time at Harry Potter studios whilst everyone else branched off to enjoy our first day off of the week. Some decided to visit family, while others enjoyed a nice meal at a pub in Greenwich. We embraced our inner tourists and decided to venture into the complicated system of the underground Tube on our own. Somehow, we managed to arrive at the Tower of London where we took pictures. As we took pictures with the Tower Bridge in the background, we saw a giant Raven sitting by the Tower of London.
As it squawked at us, we learned about a folktale. People cut the feathers off of these Ravens because it is believed that if all of them fly away, London will fall.

Raven.jpgThe majestic raven, a reminder of home in Baltimore.

We then began another journey, across the Tower Bridge to Borough Market, recommended by Amanda. We bought desserts (Matt bought a fudge), Turkish delights, and refreshing drinks. Meanwhile, in another part of London, Joey ventured on a solo stroll including the buildings of Parliament.

Still, in the midst of all this chaos, we all adeptly managed to converge in time for dinner. Truly, it was a miracle we all made it back together at relatively the same time.

Dinner was served at a quaint little all-vegetarian restaurant called Tibits. The restaurant allowed us to pay for the food we ordered by weight on Maryland’s dime, essentially rendering it an all-you-can-eat. From a quick post-dinner poll among our fellow peers, it was an interesting culinary experience. We would recommend the breaded fried mushrooms in their sweet and sour chili chutney. Very interesting indeed.

Dinner was promptly followed by a viewing of the critically acclaimed play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. It was incredible from start to finish – a riveting story about a teenage boy named Christopher with a very unusual personality. Excellent at maths and not-so-excellent at navigating everyday social situations, Christopher undertook a beautiful journey of development as he came to terms with the difficult atmosphere in his home. Employing very impressive stage effects and incredible actors, the theater wowed us for a second night in a row and made us truly rethink how we look at people who are different from us.

TheaterThe impressive techno stage of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.

On a serious note, there was a relatively high profile attack which broke out near Parliament today. Details are still unconfirmed, but we’d like to send our sincere thoughts and prayers to those who were affected. Thankfully, all of us were safely far away from the incident and it occurred, and we are all okay.

Thanks for tuning in for another exciting installment of our blog!

– Lilliany and Andre

Day four of our London Adventure greeted us with an unprecedented amount of sun. Though we were a shocking 2 minutes late and therefore nearly left behind by Dr Bell, we did for the first time, quite literally, start our day off bright and early. Sadly, our early morning tube ride did not take us past a Pret A Manger, however, we did get to enjoy some Starbucks courtesy of The University of Maryland before being bustled off to the next tube station. After a brief train ride, we emerged from the Underground and met up with Dr William Pettigrew, who would be educating us on London’s role in the slave trade and leading today’s romp through the city. The first site we went to was the Museum of London (a familiar site), where Dr Pettigrew told us of the Roman city of London and how it was built upon the backs of slaves– slaves at this time most likely being native Britons or other ancient people’s captured during conflicts with the Empire. We learned about some early anti slavery action, when Queen Boudica burned down Roman London in response to it’s inhabitats enslavement of her people, before we set off again (at a estimated 25 miles per hour– the proven walking speed of all historians) to the site of London Guildhall.

London Guildhall was also built upon the site of Roman ruins, and it’s main purpose was effectively to serve as a city hall and court for the City (mainly the small financial district that was ecompassed by the bounds of the Old Roman City), and had been in operation since the early 15th century. Being stone, this was one of the few buildings that survived the Great London Fire of 1666 . Inside, Michelle and I did our best to educate our peers about the landmark court case Somerset v. Stuart, with the help of the Guildhall’s magnificent acoustics. Pettigrew didn’t stop us at any point during the presentation to chastise us for misinforming the audience so overall I think we can consider it a success.

London Guildhall

Next, we got to check out John Smith’s snazzy boots (Yeezus season 5, $1607)* and learned how indentured servitude also played a role in the creation of English colonies in America. From there we took a brisk walk throught the finanicial district and soaked up some sun, while making periodic stops along the way to learn about various Londoners who were involved in the Trans Atlantic Slave trade. Finally we stopped at a mall and took the Lift up to the roof in order to get a breathtaking view of good old London. After we took some selfies, instagrams, and snapchats we learned that more people are enslaved in London today than ever before. Then we got fish and chips.

Traditional Fish and Chips (Peas not recommended)

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese was a favorite pub of our old friend Dr. Samuel Johnson so what better place to spend lunch? Like all other tourists, we were stuffed in the basement, and it was there we enjoyed some classic English Tea, some classic English tap water and some classic English Fish and chips. I learned that I don’t like smashed peas (I took a survey and 3/4 dentists agree it makes your mouth taste like cigarette smoke). Other than this, it was excellent! After we climbed back up from our cellar abode, we set off for part #2 of the day’s siteseeing.

Traditional English Tea– took me about an hour to take this picture and it’s still ugly (?)

Taking another strenuous walk with the human machine known as Dr. Bell, we arrived at the National Portrait Gallery, where we were greeted by some of the most famous faces of British history (though we missed David Beckham to everyone’s misfortune). We got to present a portrait of whatever famous person we were assigned to and we learned quite a bit about King Charles I, Sir Isaac Newton, Mary Wollstonecraft, many others that I now forget, and finally a large painting about abolitionists from the Society of Abolitionists preaching in a courtroom, where Andre and Lilliany did a fantastic job of explaining the role of abolitionsists in British history. It was also very disheartening when we observed that there were a grand total of two portraits of black people and very few of women, following the trend of mostly dead white men being recognized.

After this insightful presentation, we headed to dinner in a restaurant I would best describe as an “asian Chipotle”, where we ate some of the best (and most filling) ramen, teriyaki, and fresh fruit drinks. Since we had so much time until our date at the theatre, we stopped by yet another café, where we got some delicious cakes and drinks. This was also a good time to catch up on some sleep, so that Dr. Bell wouldn’t throttle us for sleeping through the play.

Finally we arrived at the Young Vic theatre to see a rendition of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which kind of surprised me when I saw a bustling hub full of young people drinking and having fun. I had thought we would be surrounded by old people, but it seemed that Londoners had great interest in seeing one of their greatest historical figures at work. The play was interesting to say the least. Throughout the chaos of mud, pantyhose, and screams, I could see the original plot and the very creative twist that it had taken. I have to say that the timid roars of the almost naked “lion” and the very feminine and dramatic gestures of the man who played Thisbe were my favorite parts. Seeing shirtless, grown men prancing around the stage made the play way more entertaining and enjoyable.

Overall, it was a great experience and I think everyone inlcuding Dr. Bell enjoyed it (from who I heard roaring laughter from across the room at some points of the play). It’s hard to see how any future plays will top this one off.

Some Final Photos of things I’m too tired to format including but not limited to: St. Pauls, Various Group Selfies, Our lord and Saviour Lord Admiral Nelson (Nelly), and Views of London (Photo creds to Alexis and Andre as well)

*disclaimer: There is no historical evidence that Kanye West manufactued John Smith’s boots–this is merely speculation given Mr. West’s “creative genius” which one can only assume includes the ability to time travel

Day Three: Wind and Water

Another early day! At 8:45, Professor Bell herds us out of the stay club like a spry young sheepdog might herd a bunch of freshly anesthetized sheep. The wind is blowing– heavily. The skies are gray, and it looks as though it might rain. As far as any of us can tell, this is in fact the only weather in London.

We head to the tube, and arrive at Shepherds Bush. We are immediately greeted by a large shopping complex. Though it might appear as though we are going to be studying the history of Prada, or perhaps the conquests of the Louis Vuitton empire, we are in fact getting breakfast. We head to Pret A Manger for our daily injection of caffeine and croissants, graciously provided today by the University of Maryland. Once we have eaten, it’s back to the tube, headed for St. Paul’s Cathedral. St. Paul’s is beautiful, and we learn a bit about it from Professor Bell outside–the current church was built by Sir Christopher Wren after the Great Fire of London in 1666.

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We’re learning!

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St. Paul’s Cathedral

“You can see St. Paul’s dome from just about anywhere in London.” says Professor Bell, as we stand next to the cathedral, and are unable to see the dome. We head inside, and are greeted by a phenomenal view. We aren’t allowed to take pictures or video, but I did manage to sneak in one quick picture.

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One quick picture

Inside St. Paul’s we see a great deal of truly marvelous statues of dead British men. We climb the 8,452 stairs to get inside the great dome and take a seat in the whispering gallery. Supposedly, one can clearly hear people speaking if they are directly opposite each other in the gallery. However, we couldn’t quite get it to happen (I suspect you need a British accent for it to work).

We climb back down to the ground floor, and take a seat near the statue of Lord Admiral Hortatio Viscount Nelson, who is essentially a British, one-eyed, one-armed version of George Washington. Here we give a positively marvelous presentation on Nelson’s life. Professor Bell tells us it was “unquestionably the best student-led presentation on a naval officer he’s seen today” – high praise!

Onwards we go to the Docklands Museum in Canary Warf. We are immediately surrounded by a flood of small children. It was difficult to tell whether the children were on a school field trip to the museum, playing a variation of the popular game “Who can yell the most in a crowded museum,” or simply stampeding.

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Docklands Museum near Canary Warf

Here we learn about some of the history of trade in the British Empire, including the trans-Atlantic slave trade. We learn about the middle passage, the conditions of slave life in Jamaica and other colonies, and about the abolitionists working in London.

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Exhibit on Britain and the Slave Trade

Later, we discuss today’s readings in what we can only assume is a typical British college dorm room (it’s actually a replica of a World War II bunker), and conclude that, as in most of history, old white men get a bit too much credit.

Professor Bell leads us to a large shopping mall in Canary Warf. Now, surely, we will learn about the ancient civilization of Gucci, but alas we are only here for lunch. We split up to forage for ourselves; I (Joseph) end up at a fast food restaurant named Leon, which seems to be what Chik Fil A would be like if it were better than Chik Fil A.
I (Isabella) end up at a cafe where I buy a spinach pastry and a disappointingly healthy pudding cup (it turns out to be yogurt).

We take the tube again, leave the tube, and get onto a bus. We depart the bus near St. Paul’s cathedral, and take a short walk through a few narrow alleyways. Eventually, we reach a small square, at one end of which is Samuel Johnsons house.

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Exhausted Train-Goers

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Samuel Johnson’s House

We listen to some interesting talks by the museum staff about the life and times of Dr. Johnson. He wrote one of the first, if not the very first, complete and comprehensive English dictionaries, was a prominent abolitionist, and was a famous literary man in his time. Indeed, as a pale, sickly, literary, witty, owner of a cat named Hodge, he’s as British as they come.

It is around this time that we have our second student presentation of the day, which focuses on the lives of black Londoners. Though Professor Bell didn’t describe it as “the best student-led presentation on a naval officer he’s seen today,” it was certainly a top notch presentation.

We also hear a talk on Johnson’s black man-servant, Francis Barber. Johnson treated Francis much like a son, and when Johnson died he left all that he owned to Francis. Francis later went on marry a white woman and start a family. This was all, at the time, very unusual. However, neither Johnson or Francis were particularly “usual” for their times.

Before we leave, we visit a small portion of Dr. Johnson’s house dedicated to dressing up for pictures. “I don’t need pictures of this on the internet” says Professor Bell, as we take pictures of him to post on the internet. He is joined by a few other students, and a good time is had by all.

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Dress Up

We depart Dr. Johnson’s house and head for the stay club. Most of us are very sleepy, and grateful for the prospect of some much needed rest. After a journey on the tube and a quick stop at Poundland, a convenience store, we have arrived back.

The dinner for tonight is spaghetti and meatballs, though it’s been delayed for an hour due to some miscommunication. Ever eager to keep on schedule, Professor Bell sets up tonight’s entertainment- a 2006 movie called Amazing Grace.

About halfway through the movie, we pause to go enjoy our dinner. It’s a welcome break, as the movie proves to most of us quite tiresome, to say the least. We finish up the movie, and have a quick discussion about the day and the movie. At long last the day is just about over, and we all go our separate ways, and we await Professor Bell, that eager sheepdog, to bark outside our doors tomorrow morning.

By Joseph and Isabella

 

Day 2 – First Full Day Abroad

We somehow managed to drag ourselves out of bed at 8:45 in the morning, which felt like 4 am in Eastern time so it was quite a feat. Warning – do not spill the Stay Club’s tea on yourself; it’s hot!! We started our morning taking a double decker bus to the Museum of London where we met up with our lovely tour guide, Dr. Janet Dickinson. We had our first discussion and we talked about the history of London, specifically between Wales, Scotland, and England. We also learned a lot about previous rulers and the Protestant faith, which played a major rule in the British identity. We also discussed the different writings and press of the time period and how they played a role in shaping the public’s opinion of the Empire.

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First Double Decker experience!

After getting a quick lunch, we arrived at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich. This was a gorgeous campus and the site of our first oral presentation of the week. After our grueling 12 minutes of public speaking about the Painted Hall, the Old Royal Naval College, and the role of the Royal Navy in the British Empire, we explored the site for the next couple of hours. Unfortunately, we could not see the beautiful Painted Hall, but we were able to see the southern banks of the Thames River, the Chapel, and the perfectly symmetrical campus. We found out that this is where a lot of movies set in the 19th century are filmed due to its perfect representation of the time period. The Chapel was interesting, as it looked very expensive and fancy, but many of the features are actually a lot cheaper. They cut corners by making 3D paintings that looked like elegant statutes and creating massive wooden columns that were painted to resemble marble. They had an American artist paint the mural in the Chapel.

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Learning by the Thames River!

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An American painting in a British Chapel

From here, we traveled to the National Maritime Museum where we met with our second tour guide, John. At this point, we’ve essentially been on our feet for seven hours but we kept going as we toured the Atlantic Gallery, which discussed slavery, wars, and trade throughout the empire. We went into great detail about the creation and design of museums since John helped set up the exhibits there. He gave us the insights into the significance of the objects and why they were chosen, from the plastic fish to the invaluable relics. After the gallery, we explored the Nelson, Navy, and Nation Gallery, which was basically a massive shrine to London’s most famous war hero, Admiral Horatio Nelson. We even got to see his bloody socks and there was rumor that his toe nail clippings were also there. Despite Professor Bell dragging us around everywhere, he convinced us to walk up this massive hill, even bigger than Stamp Hill, in order to stand half in one hemisphere and half in another on the Prime Meridian. We valiantly charged up the hill to discover you had to pay 14 pounds to stand on a line. But, the view was pretty nice from the top, so it was worth the hike.IMG_2484.jpg

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We were this close to the Prime Meridian!

After walking 13,038 steps and 5.58 miles and taking lots of selfies, it was time for everyone’s favorite part of the day: free food. We debated endlessly during dinner on whether British ducks quack in a British accent or an American accent; we determined British probably sound like “quek.” There was also a massive debate on how to cook meat, medium rare or well done. Anyway, after a delicious French meal, we headed back to the Stay club for some much needed R&R to prepare for the next 8:45 am departure.

 

++John and Caitlyn

Day One- We Have Arrived!

 

We may be tired, we may be jet lagged, and some of us can’t feel our legs; but we are here! Our flight went smoothly, thanks to large doses of melatonin and Zzzquil. After landing, Professor Bell somehow managed the impossible task of dragging 16 sleep deprived students through the London Underground to our destination at the Stay Club. From there, we began our first day in London. Keeping up with him was just part of the many challenges we faced today. One of which was taking showers with showerheads directly over our toilets.

 

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Sky Garden

Our journey began with us taking the London Underground (or the Tube as locals call it) to London’s Financial District, to the famous Sky Garden where we were treated to incredible, panoramic views of London. We then met our tour guide of the day, Kim Dewdney, who had both an incredible wealth of knowledge about imperial London, as well as a great sense of humor. On our tour, we learned about several of London’s historical monuments, such as THE Monument, which was built in commemoration of the lives of those lost during the Great Fire of London in 1666 where 85% of the wooden city burned to the ground. From then on, buildings were made with the traditional stone, tile and brick that we see in London today. We also learned how each section of the city was divided up alongside the river Thames, which was the reason London became the economic powerhouse that it is. The addition of railways only increased the amount of people working and living in the city.

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The River Thames

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Tower Bridge and the Tower Of London

We then went on to view the monument dedicated to Eleanor of Castile, who’s husband (Edward the First) was so devastated when she died, that during the transportation of her body, he erected monuments to each place where it stopped, and 3 of them still stand today. We then walked to Trafalgar Square, which contains a huge memorial to Admiral Lord Nelson, a British hero in the Napoleonic Wars who died fighting for his country. As Kim told us today, it seems to be a recurring theme in British culture that they commemorate heroes who were victorious, but even more so, heroes who died for their country whether they were victorious or not. Ironically, this square also contains a statue of George Washington, dating back to the pre-Revolutionary war era when he was a British hero in the French and Indian War. She then brought us to the Crimean War memorial, where we learned the true story of Florence Nightingale, who was not just a nurse, but a brilliant mathematician who changed the way the British warfront hospitals were designed and run.

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THE Monument

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Big Ben (is actually just a bell)

Kim did an incredible job of keeping 16 students who were clearly exhausted engaged and interested in the bustling city around them. We continued our journey to the River Thames, taking a public transportation vessel to view the sights along the Thames such as the London Eye, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. By this point in the day, we were dropping like flies. Many of us took any opportunity to nap whether it be on the Tube, or on the boat, we were exhausted. Our legs were sore, our bodies confused and we then walked to Brick Lane where we had an incredible and authentic Indian meal. This meal was well deserved after the day we had.

 

We walked 17,280 steps(or 6.7 miles) while jet lagged. We accomplished a lot, and are extremely excited for the adventures ahead, but right now, all of us are extremely to get some well deserved to sleep.

-Sophia and Taylor

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Well deserved meal after 6.7 miles