Alright, classes here really aren’t any different from the United States. Which makes sense, because the university that I’m attending is an American university that just happens to be in London (hence the lack of British people. Really should have thought that one through). The only difference is that instead of giving us participation points or busy work (read: analysis essays), they just give us a couple of papers, a presentation, and ta da! there’s your grade. Which is admittedly a little stressful, but nothing beyond my capabilities as a history major with an English minor.
You probably don’t really care about my specific classes, but I’m going to tell you about them anyway. If you don’t care, skip towards the bottom.
My first class is Contemporary London Literature. We’ve already had to read one book. Like the entire book. Or at least that’s what she told us, but only about three of us had actually read the entire book. The professor’s really nice though, so she didn’t really care all that much. That’s actually how a lot of the professors are. They give you a lot of work and give off the impression of being a hard ass, but then they joke with you in the next sentence. Kind of confusing when it comes to what to expect for grading, but what can you do? This first book, Wise Children by Angela Carter in case anyone cares, was weird, but after Modern American Fiction with Finklestein last semester, anything seems tame.
Next is History of London. I’m in the geeking out period with that class because we’re doing really old stuff that I love. The best part about this class is that we get to take field trips to places around London, so on Wednesday, we went to the British Museum. (That I do talk about in the Newswire. So read about it there. Kinda.) Unfortunately, the class is a little pricey due to entrance fees into these exhibits. Double unfortunately, half the class is stupid. Or at least the professor thinks so. He asked us questions today like “What were the Romans known for?”, “Has anyone heard of Julius Caesar?”, and “What is the use of walls around cities?” Really? We’re study abroad students, not stupid. Or, well, most of us are anyway…
Then on Tuesdays and Thursday, I have Cultures of Imperial Power. The syllabus is just as terrifying as the name of the class, but the professor is the study abroad student adviser, so he seems pretty understanding. And we watched a clip from Lord of the Rings to emphasize the concepts about Empire. These people are wonderful.
Tuesdays, I have Shakespeare. Another pricey class fee, but I get to see Shakespeare in performance, so I guess I shouldn’t complain. The professor asked us fun introductory questions like “Which of the four elements would you say you are?” and “If you had to have a fried egg for a nose or sausages for fingers, which would you choose?” and the extremely popular “If a dark lord offered you a million pounds in exchange for turning a former significant other’s head into a chocolate eclair, which would you choose?” (Side note: almost everyone said they would choose.) My biggest problem with the class so far is that we have a research paper due on my birthday. What an asshole.
But classes weren’t the only thing I did this week (so this is going to be a really long entry). On Thursday, I went to a Cirque du Soliel show. My roommate and I weren’t entirely sure what it was other than the fact that the tickets were cheap and we’d heard it was good. It was fantastic. Lots of people jumping on trampolines and doing flips and hanging from gymnastics rings in mid air. Risky stuff, but all so cool.
On Friday, I went with some people to find the house from the Parent Trap. Yeah. With Lindsay Lohan. It’s about fifteen minutes from our dorm (if we actually got the right house, which I’m somewhat unsure of). Talk about tourists. It’s the middle of a neighborhood, so people kept asking us what we were taking pictures of. I feel kind of bad for the people that live there, but they never came out if they were actually home.
Friday night it really got interesting. We decided we want to go in towards central London and go around to bars and stuff. We were looking for a certain bar in particular, but we had no idea where it actually was. So we ended up bar hopping and… ended up at a gay bar? Yep. (It had pretty lights, okay?) We stayed there for a little while before moving on to other bars. Unfortunately, after about ten, everything starts charging a cover fee, so we headed back to Kensington to end the night at one of the local pubs there. Only to find out that a bunch of British guys had decided it was kilt night. Why, I have no idea, but they were attractive at least. Unfortunately, they were also wearing the kilts the proper way, and decided that pub closing time was also a good time to moon everyone.
On Saturday, we went on a search for a market and ended up eating lunch at a pub called Dirty Dick’s (there’s a picture of it up on Facebook). The funny thing about waiters here is that they don’t have to be nice to you because they don’t rely on tips. You don’t tip. So our waiter was perfectly free to be an absolute dick to us. Which he was at first because there were eight of us and we were Americans. He was a bit more sympathetic towards the end, but he kind of lost our respect when he bitched so much about getting us water. (Yes, water.)
Sunday we attempted to go to the Chinese New Year. I say attempted because we got there right as it started, and by that time, the area was so overcrowded that we couldn’t see anything, even with the huge TV screens on either side of the actual stage. Alas. I was hoping I could write about that in the Newswire this week, but it just wasn’t to be. So we came back to the dorms. I didn’t want to feel too much like a bum, so I went for a walk around Kensington Gardens, which is the huge park that backs up to Kensington Palace and is connected to Hyde Park. I wanted to find the Peter Pan statue, which I did. Eventually I’ll wander over to Hyd Park too, but it was already 4:15 at this point, and I didn’t want to end up lost in London’s equivalent to Central Park after dark.
So there’s my week in a nut shell. Sorry this has been so long, but just thought I would keep you all up to date!