Archive for category Pre-Departure and Orientation
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.)
Mash-up blog is mashed-up. Seeing as it is
Friday Saturday already, and my blogs have only been telling the tales of what has happened since Tuesday, I will quickly try to get everything up to speed so then I can quit this blog-everyday-business and maybe reset to something less strenuous. Does that sound cool? Good; because, honestly, I was going to do this whether you liked it or not. So there.
What happened on Wednesday was King’s Orientation. Barbara and I woke up and left our Hampstead Residence at 8:30 and took the #13 Bus to Aldywch Strand. We rode on one of those double-decker buses (at the top level, of course), and just gazed out the windows to see everything. It was pretty spectacular, because we were able not only to see the normalcy of London, but also we cut through the downtown-ish area of Central London (by the way, London is filled with theatres; I am definitely planning on seeing something, especially since students get discounts). Once at Aldywch, we walked around and to the King’s College Strand Campus. Little did I know, is that King’s has like five campuses — few of which are near each other. Strand is like homebase, and by golly, it is enormous.We had to first acquire our ID cards and pass through registration — I passed through in seconds, which gave me the chance to investigate the school.
Now, let me tell you, King’s is impossibly designed. Hallways lead to floors lead to hallways lead to buildings that are all really the same building, but signs suggest otherwise. It is somewhat daunting, but I really loved the experience of getting lost there (although, I imagine you can REALLY get lost at King’s). I discovered first the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, found the Modern Language Centre (where I will be taking Chinese, which I have to study for by the way), and perhaps most impressive sight was the Chapel. The Chapel is on the second floor, so it wasn’t too difficult to find. But, it was incredibly ornate. Let me show you some pictures:
Beats Bothwell Chapel any day, I think. I managed to find Barbara again and we went outside to look around. There is a view (which I did not have a camera or phone to take a picture of, but I will show you soon!) outside at the back end of the Strand Campus that hits the Waterloo Bridge, the London Eye, Big Ben, and Westminster all in one. It is pretty spectacular. Beside Strand Campus is the Somerset House, which has really glitzy galleries and an ice rink. We were hungry, so we stopped off at Pret A Manger, which is essentially a Bread Co. although perhaps slightly more posh and had ready-to-go sandwiches and drinks that you can purchase for only £4. I think that is cheaper than Bread Co.
After lunch, we managed to find our library: Maughn Library. Again, I will provide you pictures later, but it also was a sight to see (this library beat Holman all the days). Not only does it have a little courtyard with a statue of Confucius, but it also has a little key-card barrier to let you in, a catalogue system that I probably do not know how to work, several floors, special sections for special books, AND a cafe at the bottom floor. It was pretty awesome. And the outside isn’t too shabby either. We had to then return to the main Campus and undergo a quick little speech, and after that, it was free time. Barbara met up with one of her friends from school, and I tagged along; although, in the end, I separated from them and did my own thing. I travelled down the roads and took the bus, investigating as much as I possibly could of the area. I have grown to really like riding the buses, and all the walking makes me feel so good about myself. I still needed important supplies, which was the point and promise of Thursday.
So, Thursday began raining-ish. It was a drizzle and I was not prepared for it. I did not think to pack an umbrella. Not only that, but I needed a power adapter/converter/thing for my laptop so I can once again be linked with the beauty that is the interconnected, globalized internet. Also, I wanted to explore. Also again, I had some silly King’s thing at 2 about Living In London (which in the end, wasn’t very interesting). SO YES! I decided to go to a shopping centre, because all the stuff near me had nothing that I could get. The shopping centre (Brent Cross Shopping Centre) was in, you guessed, it Brent Cross. But I didn’t know how to get there. What I did was I took that #13 to Golders Green and took a left; walking down, I found a ghetto. And when I use ghetto here, I use it in the most original sense (and not in the “forced to live here” sense that Wikipedia describes, although, the Jewish population could be forced to live here due to the Christo-Anglo overwhelmingness, but that is critical thinking for another show!). But seriously, it was pretty interesting finding all these shops for Kosher food, Judaica stores, etc. all around. Eventually, I got onto the #210 to Brent Cross Station, which I promptly got off and walked all the way to the Shopping Centre. The Centre is next to a flyover for walkers, and it was pretty sweet. I got what I needed and took the #113 to Marble Arch to get back to Finchley Road, and then the #13 to Aldwych.
I was sopping wet at this point and time.
Friday was raining again, but I managed to get to Aldwych before I was sopping wet and purchased an umbrella at this appliance store place. It was cheap-ish: six pounds (at this moment, I realise that I really do not know what is exactly cheap or not, oh well). I had an individual appointment with the Study Abroad Office at King’s who informed me that German Gender Politics (despite being taught in the European Studies department) may be, you guessed it, in German. And thus, I may have to switch classes. Alas. I think that such titling is such a misnomer, if it is in German, you would think it would be in some sort of German department or whatnot. So, I may have to take a replacement European Studies/ War Studies/something-that-could-be-interdisciplinary-for-BKF. Alas.
So that is everything quickly wrapped up. I am done for the weekend. I will show you pictures if I go out to places, and I will write something when I have my departmental welcoming sessions. Also, classes don’t start for me until Friday/Monday (Friday for Theology, Monday for everything else). That’s all folks!
Michael’s Current Score: Still 0 😐
(Title is a mash-up coming from the 1984 Madonna Song “Like a Virgin” and the 1952 comedy musical “Singin’ in the Rain.” How Mr. Schuester manages to combine these two songs, I have no clue.)
(Title comes from the 1980/1 novel entitled “The Picture of Dorian Grey” by Oscar Wilde)
Okay, so I figured out how to jiffy my Droid camera to my computer to show you all things wonderful (as well as charge it, so I can take more pictures for you all!) I still have the last two days to write about, so I will do that as soon as I can, but let me just show you everything else first. Also, I have mentioned a couple places — I think? — in my posts that I haven’t taken pictures of, but hopefully now that will change! More also, I realised that I did not leave my camera cord at home. Hooray! +5 to Michael.
Starting from left to right: the first is mainly humourous. I found it while walking around the garden at the Bedford Estates. I was somewhat questioning whether it was full of books about alcoholism and how alcohol destroys your life, and also whether or not there were other Anonymous-affiliated places throughout London like NA Bookshop. Then I also queried whether AA exists in London at all. Also, ignore the light — it was just some little divine being saying “hi.” The middle and right pictures are both the same place-ish. They are pictures of University College London’s campus (or at least, bits of it); this was the place that Meagan Musgrave was supposed to go to, but she didn’t. Don’t worry Meagan, I brought some of it to you!
These next three pictures are all from the British Museum. Yes, the British Museum. The outside was massive and people were sitting on the steps like it was the Met or something. I am sure Blair Waldorf would have sat here if Gossip Girl was staged in London. The above-right is the sort of central hall in the Museum where you get special attractions and stuff. The picture does not do its size justice; seriously, it was more than just massive, it was spectacularly voluminous. The one to the right was my favourite exhibit: the Enlightenment. It was essentially a long hallway of curios, relics, books, all about civilization, art, religion and ritual. And when I mean long hallway, I mean it; it I would peg its leg being the size of the green space near the fountain from 1828 to the Quad. No joke.
Lastly, we have my humble abode; it probably isn’t the size of a McKendree dorm-room and it lacks a mini-fridge, but it has a sink, if that is worth anything (I imagine it isn’t; also, what the heck, King’s? Why would you charge me 50 pence a day for a thing I could get at McKendree FO’ FREE?!)
I have a board in my room. I can put things on it, or at least stick into its sides (I probably should get tacks or something). The only things I have are lame things; except of course, my Christmas Card from Meagan Musgrave of the Wolf Pack which I got days before I left and brought with me to initially use as a bookmark. If you want things added to my wall, send things to me! You can tell people that your stuff was in London.
Michael’s Current Score: 0 😐
I forgot to mention a couple things in my last entry.
First, I also met another guy — he was my roommate at the hotel. His name was Ememett (spelling?!) and he was also going to King’s. He was doing War Studies. I likened him to one of the Poli Sci debater kids who know a lot about foreign policy/international affairs/etc. He seemed cool, but we barely talked. Also, and perhaps more importantly, I forgot to tell you that St. Giles is central. What I mean by that is that the hotel was near everything. Most especially, the British Museum. That’s right, I entered the British Museum. I took pictures on my phone (which means I can’t access them :(), but I will say, it was massive and spectacular. My favourite rooms were the Enlightenment and Assyrian rooms. I plan to return later on in the months to come, it was really fantastic, and I’ll be sure to take pictures with my normal camera.
Furthermore, I have noted that there isn’t a Target-esque store. Lots of brands. British people dress trendy and in black. Be aware of this if you go there. I mean, I don’t seem to think they notice you noticing this, but it is something interesting and critical of their culture. Also, you may notice a lot of cameras; this is the ring of steel, a security monitoring thing throughout everywhere. It is pretty interesting to read about, and they have it on the Tube (the subway underneath London).
Now, my second day in London was full of Butler orientation. To be honest, it was really filled with information they had given me prior to travelling, so it wasn’t really interesting. There was however two conversations, one by a member of the House of Lords that talked about British government and politics, and then the man who talked to us about safety in the UK. They were incredibly charismatic and well-knowledgeable, especially the member of the House of Lords. But the most important thing about orientation today was that I went to my residence. As I mentioned, I live in Hampstead — this posh little place where I may “see George Michael walking his dogs.” +- ?! to Michael. It is pretty far from where my school is, but I don’t really mind. On the way there I met a new girl: Barbara. She is pretty nice and we have been hanging out seeing as were are the only Butler people who live in Hampstead. Hampstead has an amazing centre called the O2 Centre that has a bunch of neat things in it, as well as really awesome looking restaurants with cheap ethnic cuisine.
Settling into my residence was interesting. It is a small dorm-style room with a communal bathroom and kitchen. The communality isn’t that off-putting, so I feel like I can survive. During this time, my bags did not return to me, however, I was told that they were being shipped to the Butler program’s main building. I could breathe a bit better then. My residence held a small get together of study abroad students were I met a couple more Americans (although I forget their names and honestly didn’t care) and some European students: Suyesh (I think I misspelled this) is my RA, Callum, and Claudia (I think she spelled her name differently). They were all really nice and welcoming.
I did not stay at the get-together long. Instead, Barbara and I went to the O2 Centre to pick up some things and travel around Hampstead. Like I say, Hampstead is pretty nice.
Besides this, I will end this entry with a couple of quotes that were said during my orientation which I thought were utterly hilarious,
as well as some pictures of my room. Also, my bags finally were returned to me, with everything in them! +18 to Michael. Scratch the pictures of my room, I think I forgot to pack my camera’s computer connecting cord. Fail. -5 to Michael.
Michael’s Current Score: -5 😦
“I love the Aztecs.” – in reference to chocolate
“We are a very Jekyl and Hyde race.” – in reference to the British
“We are a liberal country; liberal is our default.” – in reference to the politics of the British
“We are oppressed, suppressed, repressed, and depressed as a country.” – another reference to the British
“They are also oppressed, suppressed, repressed, and depressed, but they are worse because they have Catholic guilt.” – commentary on the Irish.
(Title comes from the 2004 R&B song by Usher entitled “Confessions Part II)
I left on Sunday. That night, I barely slept and actually ended up staying up all night to where I promptly got ready for my flight. I was really anxious just to leave, perhaps a bit too anxious. But whatever. Anyway, the key thing to note is that when I was checking in, I checked in two bags at American Airlines. They said they could connect them to my next flight at JFK which was with Virgin Atlantic. This is incredibly important to the story, so please make a mental note of this. Now, after this, I said my goodbyes to my parents, and before I knew it, I was off. The ride to JFK airport was blissful; namely, because I slept.
JFK, however, was a real trip. It took me so long to find the Virgin Atlantic counter — I honestly felt like Moses in the desert for 40-something day/nights/years/whatever-the-time-amount-is. However, after I did, everything was gravy. +1 to Michael. I went in an out of consciousness while sitting at the gate, and when it was time to fly, I slept more. I meet two people on the plane: Linde, who was going to study at University College London (the school Meagan Musgrave was going to go to!) and Andrew, who was also studying at King’s. They were pretty nice and we gabbed about how exciting everything was.
Okay, now to the real story. So when the plane lands, everyone goes through customs. It was a breeze, do not let anyone tell you otherwise. Then we went to pick up my bags. Did you remember what the guys at American Airlines told me? Right, they said they would connect my luggage to the Virgin flight and all would be cool. THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. DO NOT TRUST AIRPORT PEOPLE WHEN THEY SAY THIS. GET YOUR BAGS ALWAYS. Yes, my bags did not arrive, and I flipped the lid and tried to hurry, complain, whine-to-parents. -20 to Michael. I was taken to the place the IFSA-Butler was holding my orientation: St. Giles Hotel, which was pretty swanky. Additionally, I met another person on the way: Nicole, who was going to go to Queen Mary’s. She, Linde, and Andrew invited me to check around with them, but the problem was, I need clothes and living-things more than just sight-seeing.
So, here are some of my insights: London, and presumably all of the UK, has a store called Boots. It is essentially a Walgreens/CVS, but it is wonderful for quick supplies if you ever need it. They are actually somewhat plentiful; There are not really any sort of Target-like stores for clothing, most of London seems to be designer-ish things (Zara, H&M, Gap, etc.) — essentially, your pocket will be burnt whole (I bought Gap recovery clothes, but it was surprisingly not that bad). After acquiring all I needed, I did manage to wander around a bit. I got some pictures on my US phone (although, I can’t upload them to Facebook D:) of a couple interesting things, including the University College London’s campus (I guess at least). The night ended with the Butler program taking us out to dinner in Covent Gardens, and after that, I travelled with a new girl I met, Allison going to UCL, back to the hotel to call it a night.
Oh, I forgot to mention, while I was doing my clothes run, I almost got hit by a taxi cab. No big.
Michael’s Current Score: -18 😦
(Title comes from the the 2010 biographical adventure film “127 Hours”)
Right, so in approximately nine hours and 53 minutes, I will be on a plane to JFK Airport and then later, on the group flight to England. Excitement, nervousness, every-other-emotion-in-the-book abounds. Presently, I am writing this belated predeparture blog in the living room of friends; one of which is playing Mario Kart Wii while the others are elsewhere. I am not sure if I am supposed to give a pseudo-existential word vomit about how this is going to be an adventure of a lifetime that will utterly transform me and whatnot. I mean, it will be but I don’t care to talk about that yet.
Anyway, to give all readers the specifics: I am studying at King’s College London (in London, obviously) and will be living in Hampstead. I was told it is very posh. How posh? Well, let me tell you that Wikipedia says lots of famous people live there. +1 to Michael. I am taking courses in a couple different departments (which supposedly isn’t meant to be done for UK higher education, but whatever): Religion: Social and Political Contexts (Religion department), Confucian Ethics (again, Religion), German Gender Politics (European Studies department), and Chinese II (Language — but this has a special name that I cannot recall).
So, what else am I supposed to say? Oh, here are my goals:
- Go visit Lauren Cooper’s grave (I ain’t bovvered)
- Take a trip with Matt Smith in his TARDIS
- Skip around during the Prince’s wedding (this one is legit and actually do-able)
- Meet up with the ASBO 5
- I can add more colourful goals related to current British TV, but I won’t bore you with those details.
But in all seriousness, I learned that there is a Freud Museum (WHICH INCLUDES FREUD FINGERPUPPETS) and that I can listen to Judith Butler talk about Kafka and Israel. Jealous much? I would be.
By the way, packing was dreadful. Remember folks, you aren’t supposed to bring your life with you — even if you -really- would like to do so. Don’t let anyone fool you — I found this to be the most stressful part of the system. Mainly because I had to make sure I had all the forms I am supposed to bring (there was a conflict in the Anderson household between myself and the parentals regarding one form, it was angst-worthy).
I’m sorry that this entry is lame. I’m still in the States. I know, we are both weeping.
(Title comes from the 1972 film Last Tango in Paris)