When we last left our intrepid protagonist he was told that he may not be able to take German Gender Politics, was sodding wet, was in need of a bank, and was anxious for classes. Let us return to his story and see what happens next!
Okay, so I spent Saturday being a lazy arse. Seriously, I stuck to my dorm room for most of the day (if not all of the day). I managed to finish a book I was reading, Original Blessing (which is pretty good, by the way; that is, if you are interested in theology!), and just faffed about. I got skyped by both Meagan Musgrave and Annie Bierman AND my parents, which was much welcomed. It is sort of strange hearing about a life and experience that was so deeply a part of you can exist without you in some sense. I think that was the most poignant surreal moment for me. I have noticed that I have easily come to the terms that I am in London; honestly, it almost feels like living here is just normal, every-day. It is really weird.
On Sunday, I did explore a bit. However, I did not explore downtown. Rather, I explored the Hampstead area. I travelled on foot down to the O2 Centre to West Hampstead, and somehow managed to get to the area near Kilburn Station and Golders Green (this is weird because I don’t know geographically where Kilburn Station is, and Golders Green is like, north of where I am living, so essentially, I made a giant circle!). I didn’t take a lot of pictures of this, mainly because the buildings were not unique or ancient in any way. But I will say there are a lot of kebab shops (yumyum) and hair salons (which is good because I need to get a haircut soon; also, it feels funny to notice this, because it sounds really vain on the part of the British!).
Now, on Monday, I decided to be very tourist-y and take pictures of some of the really cool things near King’s Campus. The pictures to the side are from Trafalgar Square, which is just a five to 10 minute walk from King’s Strand Campus. One statue near there (which I actually don’t have photographed, but I will get it when I can) is of King George IV (I think this is the right one), who is the patron king of King’s College – simply put, he is the one who helped form the college. Trafalgar Square has a bunch of neat sculptures and monuments, a fountain that glows at the nighttime, and is also the home of the National Gallery – which I believe I mentioned I stumbled into one night, but planned immediately that there was too much to see and that I would head back again. I am of the opinion that on top the stairs at the Gallery’s main entrance, looking toward the Square is perhaps one of the best views – as you are able to line up and see everything straight away.
Included also are a couple pictures of King’s College London’s Strand Campus (although, only the main entrance — the central courtyard is cool, but it is under construction, so it is less cool at the moment) and the Somerset House. To be fair, I am not really sure what the Somerset House is. I am under the impression that it is an art gallery of some sort (they have advertisements for exhibits), but honestly, as the picture shows, the main thing about Somerset is that they have an ice skating rink right in the middle of their central courtyard. King’s College, as it has expanded, has taken over Somerset House, and if I knew how to skate, I can go there cheaply! Anyway, King’s has an advertisement campaign of their own on windows on the main road (Strand). It is little bio-blurbs of famous alumni such as John Keats and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Pretty cool stuff, I think!
By cutting through the constructed-central courtyard, you can get to this back area of King’s/Somerset which has a bunch of sitting areas. However, the more impressive part about it is that it gives a pretty lovely view of Waterloo Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben, and I imagine that it is Westminster Abbey in the background (although, much of the skyline is obscured by trees! What I learned, however, is that King’s has eight floors, and on the eighth and seventh floors, there are walls that are just windows which give a better, cleaner view of the skyline; I’ll be sure to snap a shot of that when I head up there someday).
Next, I travelled to Maughan Library, which is the main library for King’s and Strand Campus. Maughan, as I have mentioned, is incredibly ornate with barriers that are pretty tricky to work. It is located off of Chancery Lane and Fleet Street (no Demon Barber here!). Along the way to the library are the Royal Courts of Justice where trials are held. The building is actually really awesome and mediaeval looking (to be honest, the trek to the library is riddled with cool chapels and the occasional monument, although, I forgot to snap some pictures of them — I will try again next time!). Maughan itself is surrounded by this sort of gate-like building that is as equally ornate as it is. Within its centre, it also possesses a little green space that has a statue of Confucius. Maughan beats Holman any day of the week; their religion section isn’t a section, it is an entire two rooms plus a balcony filled with books by theologians dating all the way back to Latin texts. It is incredible, seriously (the picture with the clock by the way is Maughan’s main entrance!). The last weird pictures that are included are something called “The Plaques.” There is a sign near Maughan that explains that they were a part of the original buildings there, but then they had to move when the buildings were reconstructed. Honestly, I am not sure what exactly they are for, save for being symbols of British imperialism. But whatever.
Now, all of that was Monday. Tuesday, I had department welcomes, which was essentially me meeting a professor/lecturer and an administrative (pronounced admin-stri-tive) aide about the different departments I was under. The worries by the Study Abroad Office regarding German Gender Politics were unfounded, as the European Studies lecturer was my GGP teacher: Dr. Daniela Tepe. Her bio on King’s website makes her sound incredibly keen, and I am really excited to learn what she has to teach me! The Modern Language Centre was next, and they told me I had to be assessed for Mandarin II by Ying Fu. However, Ying Fu is not in her office, which means that I am in a scramble to get assessed (even then, if I do get to go to Mandarin II, that class coincides with GGP — which I would rather take anyway — so hopefully I can go to a lower level Mandarin class, or just pick something new altogether). Theology and Religious Studies was last, and it was perhaps the most interesting. My Study Abroad Advisor, Dr. Andrea Schwatz is crazily interesting. She is from Germany but has studied both in Germany, the US, and the UK. She has a very interesting hippy/sophisticate vibe emanating from her. All the departments explained that they do things called Research Seminars, which are basically guest speakers coming in to talk about their work — all of which I can listen in on. Hell yes.
Wednesday was a bit boring. I went to a Study Skills session which was bland, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of the day happened at nighttime. Before going to England, I submitted a short essay about studying abroad in hopes to win something called the King’s College London Study Abroad Excellence Award. Supposedly only five or so people get it every semester; yes, I am one of those five. So we had a little ceremony where I got to meet the heads of the Arts and Humanities, Social and Public Policy, and the Principal of the University (Principal = President over here). It was interesting to say the least; I am not so good with small chit-chat, but the other awardees were incredibly nice and we laughed at our first impressions of dorm-life, etc. I also received a little certificate, oh, and also 2500 pounds. No big.
Which leads me to today, Thursday. I am not doing much. I am just making my life schedule and writing this. Do you feel grateful for me sharing all these wonderful insights? Good! You should be! 😛
Also, I forgot to mention that I am currently reading A Vindication of the Rights of Women for the Year of Feminist Classics. You should do this too, although, I honestly think that Wollstonecraft’s writing is incredibly misleading and often leaves you wondering what in the world she is trying to say!
(Title comes from the song “Dear Old Shiz” from the 2003 musical Wicked.)