Hiya. Sorry it’s taken a bit to get my thoughts and news posted on here, but it really seems like I just posted a couple of days ago. Time seems to fly. By the time I’m done with work, browse around town after work, and go home to eat, it’s time for bed. I’ll update you from when I posted last.
On Fridays, as part of the internship program, we have to attend a class called How Britain Works. Last Friday’s lecture was about the rise of power in Britain and its history of colonization and remaining a world power. After class, we attend a museum or historical place that relates to the lecture. Last time, we went to The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, which is a way east of where I normally roam. The museum included ship, treasure, painting, map and navigation artifacts that contributed to the exploration of England to the rest of the world. I think my view on England’s colonization is different from Brits, as I don’t think they see it as conquering a foreign land, but rather an opportunity to grow and exploit foreign resources. After the museum, a few of us stayed in Greenwich, where we found a market that contained world food, jewelry, vintage clothing, artwork, royal items and more. At the end of the day, I ended up buying a few gifts and a pair of black dress shoes that were only £29, or about $44 USD. Also for lunch, a cheap bowl of mixed Ethiopian dishes, a great way to save money and be cultural. I think more than anything, I will remember and take from experiences like that more than standard tourist routes.
The evening after the museum, I stayed home because I KNEW that I was going to see the Queen the next day at Trooping the Colour, informally known as the Queen’s birthday parade. Elizabeth II’s actual birthday is in late August, but because of tradition and colder weather in April, the UK celebrates in June. Running a bit behind, I thought finding a decent spot was impossible, as thousands gathered behind the gates of The Mall, the processional street to Buckingham Palace, where the Royal Wedding occurred as well. Well, I ended up about three people away from the gate next to the street, and thanks to my height, I was able to get some decent photos and videos of the event (see below; video of Queen). The royal family rode through the street and entered Buckingham Palace, where they went in and moved to the balcony. After it was finished, they let people flood the area around the palace and watched as planes and jets flew over to celebrate. It’s great to say I’ve seen the Queen, as men are the next in line to the throne.
The end of the weekend was a bit of a shopping spree, as well as the first few days of the week. Some of the department stores like Selfridges, Topshop and Harrods are the most massive stores I’ve ever seen. It’s almost hard to shop because you feel tense with the numerous surrounding security guards, loud music and massive amounts of people. Some of the weekend though was spent in Hoxton, where several vintage stores are located. You’d never believe this, but I found a KU vintage sweatshirt! It was randomly stuck in a rack of sweaters but priced at £29. It was a bit overpriced, so I just took a picture with it. I also found it ironic in the department stores that they had many American shirts, even shirts that were just of the flag. In some instances, a rack had a line of UK flag shirts and a line of US flag shirts. I’m still on the lookout for jeans my size. The pants/jeans here are quite unusual: types called carrot and twister. Carrot pants bevel out so they scrunch up on the leg, while twister pants have stitching that wraps around the legs. I’ll keep looking.
Monday marked the first day of my placement at M2M, a media planning and buying agency. The people here are young, helpful, welcoming and casual. The first day I wore a dress shirt, tie and pants, only to see most everyone in jeans and a nice top, but I guess it never hurts to dress up the first day. The area is called Marylebone, an affluent neighborhood with Lebanese food down the road. The setup of the agency is open, no cubes, privacy or personal conversations. We sit at long desks facing one another, so there’s quite a bit of noise with phone calls, people talking, laughing and typing. As opposed to last summer at my own cube, it is nice to interact with everyone, especially the accents. So far I’ve been doing several things: monitoring social media (Facebook and Twitter), taking screengrabs of websites where our ads are placed, and creating URLs for website ads in Germany, UK, Singapore and Hong Kong. Some of the clients I’ve been working on are Historic Royal Palaces, Net-a-Porter (online fashion), Estee Lauder and Momentum Pictures (film). If you’ve seen The King’s Speech or The Fighter, M2M has placed those advertisements.
A bit for grandpa: When you go in the grocery store, each item has a British flag on it that says ‘Made in UK’ or says ‘British pork’, for example. I’ve yet to purchase anything from the store that was not UK made. The sense of national pride is much higher here than I feel like it is in the U.S. Reasons for this could be the traditional monarchy or its history of being a ruler of the world, but I think of it as Brits working and making things for Brits. The U.S. should do something like this with packaging so consumers become aware of who they are buying from. I do feel as if Americans would buy products with American logos as opposed to China or elsewhere, but it is only located in small print so people don’t check. Food is like that here for sure, but clothing is still foreign and outsourced for the most part.
The living situation is going well, but the group has received several noise complaints from neighbors, so we are supposed to keep quiet and respectful during quiet hours. The building includes about 35 KU students and 10 students from Boston U., so taking the ‘college’ out of us is hard to do, especially when abroad! For food, I’ve eaten at several cafes, English pubs and Italian. At an Italian restaurant the other night, we sat next to Icelandic guys, who recognized our accents, as they had attended college in America years ago. They pushed Iceland as a place to visit, but I think I’ll stick a bit farther south… Plans for tonight? Laundry.
My five London tips/fun facts of the week:
1. In the workplace, it is common respect to bring people a cup of tea, whether they ask for it or not.
2. In London, it’s common to hear more foreign accents than English (lots of Dutch, French, German).
3. You don’t swipe a London debit/credit card. Cards contain a chip, and one simply sticks the end in with the chip.
4. London sports news only care about football (soccer), tennis and rugby, so I had no idea that Dallas won the NBA title.
5. Mealtimes here: Breakfast (when you wake), lunch (around 1PM), snack/tea (around 3/4PM) and dinner (8-9pm).
Happy (U.S) flag day yesterday. Oh, and I’ve posted a new poll under my Polls tab. Please vote!