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!


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 scene 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!



Big pointy thingy seen from the top of the SkyGarden


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


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


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


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


Dinner. Need I say more


The only two brave enough to try the hot peppers


On our way…


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


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


How many pictures did we take of monuments?…


I promise we took a lot…


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


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


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 (

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: so they can see our photos and stories and follow along with our trip.