Just as I was about to write about the wonderful 85° weather the past few days in London, it started downpouring midday. I’m sure the folks out at Wimbledon aren’t too happy about this. Anyway, the past week has been full of nice weather, an unbelievable historical venture and the first use of my shorts. I hope all at home near the floods are staying safe and above ground!
Internship: Work has been going great, and they have me doing a lot of DFA research using AdRelevance, which measures the specific amount of clicks, impressions, costs and orders from advertisements and campaigns on specific websites. It requires a lot of Microsoft Excel input and formulas that calculate averages, sums, percentages and cost (£). The experience in digital ad research will give me a head start understanding how media planners and buyers work in an ad agency. I’ve started to browse jobs for when I return, but I’m torn between going the agency route or sticking on the corporate side. Like many professors and friends have said, one’s first job may not be the ideal one, but it sets a foundation for what you do later in a career. Oh, and we all went out for about an hour during lunch for drinks on Monday!
Early weekend: Thursday night a bunch of us went to Mrs. Q’s in nearby Earl’s Court. For those who know Lawrence, it’s a mix between Quinton’s and Tonic, a vintage-looking building with modern lights and music. A bunch of KU folks joined us, so it really did feel like Quinton’s. The place also had a few pool tables, so I was able to use my skills from the pool table back home. Oddly enough, when I went the restroom (toilet), I rinsed off my hands and there was a guy waiting there to squirt soap in my hands and provide me with a towel. I’m still unsure who exactly he was supposed to be to this moment…
Friday’s class and trip: The class lecture on Friday discussed political systems in Great Britain. The country has three main parties: Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats. The lecturer discussed how our meaning of ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ completely differs from theirs. Another major difference is the polarization of the parties. He said that Britain’s political parties work more together even though they have different platforms. Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Dave Cameron were all of discussion as Prime Ministers. Let’s just say that Britain doesn’t spend as much money and time with elections as we do in the U.S. In the meantime, I’m receiving emails from the Obama 2012 campaign… The afternoon trip was to the National Portrait Gallery, which is part of London National Gallery adjacent to Trafalgar Square. The gallery included Tudor, Elizabethan, Stuart, Civil War, Georgian, Regency, Victorian, Edwardian, 20th Century and contemporary portraits. We were able to map the political evolution of figures. Old portraits include stern faces and emotion, good posture and elaborate clothing. As you move toward modern era, portraits become more emotional and relaxed with more of a focus on setting than bodily features. I saw artwork by Andy Warhol, the portrait of William Shakespeare and contemporary art of Susan Boyle, Tony Blair and nude beaches. Oh, and on our way to the gallery, I spotted a transit ad of a boy wearing a KU shirt. I forget what it was promoting, I think a charity or world fund, but it was a Kansas Jayhawks 2006 football t-shirt. Odd, huh?
Saturday’s trip West: Early Saturday morning our KU group headed west about an hour and a half to the countryside, where sheep and cattle grazed the land. Over the hill stood a circular wall of rocks, one of the Wonders of the Middle Ages, Stonehenge. Before going to the rocks, I walked by a rock near the entrance known as a magical rock. I touched it of course, and seriously felt something surge through my arm. (No, I’m not crazy!) Walking up to the rocks, everyone receives personal audio guides for markers around the rocks. You can only get within 40 feet of the rocks, which is frustrating, but it’s still so surreal to see it. A manmade ditch still somewhat exists from prehistoric times (3000 B.C.), as it protects the rocks. Stonehenge literally means, “hanging stones.” Some sources say they were meant for sacrifice or hanging persons and animals, and the ditch served as the “burial” of the dead. The 360° walk under a clouded sky created a great experience. The site isn’t interactive, but rather an emotional, surreal experience for everyone. Druids were around to celebrate the summer solstice at the rocks.
After Stonehenge, the group traveled to Salisbury, a nearby city with a lot of history. We had lunch at a local pub and gathered to our next destination. In the meantime, some of us watched a wedding couple walk out of a cathedral as people waited to celebrate outside. It was interesting to see the dress of people. Women wore derby-like hats, much like Kate Middleton. After that, we headed to Salisbury Cathedral, a gothic style church constructed in the 1200’s. The outside is standard gothic, with the tallest spire in England. In the entrance, we could hear a choir and orchestra of about 200 practicing for an upcoming performance; goosebumps as I walk to a reflective fountain in the middle of the church. Next, I studied the gears of the world’s oldest working clock, dating back to 1386. The nave and transepts have enourmously-high ceilings with ribbed vaults and pointed arches, a signature to gothic style. Stained glass adorns the side chapels and tombs lie in any open side space. In some areas, one can see modern art combined with ancient, a great experience for artists and architects. On the way out, a courtyard with gothic arcades made way to a quite important room. The room included one of the four copies of the Magna Carta. THE Magna Carta. The document is beautifully scribed on lasting paper, and the lines were straighter than lined paper. After the cathedral, we wrapped up and headed back to Londontown. Stonehenge, the Cathedral and the Magna Carta in one day, unbelievable.
Top-rated Saturday night: After returning from a long day in the countryside, a few of us wanted to enjoy more of the day. Late at night we had planned to go to Ministry of Sound, one of the top nightclubs in the world. We found ourselves not there, but at a nightclub called Fabric, the #2 nightclub in the world. The experience was amazing. The bottom floor contains the dance floor, the nucleus of the club. It is rated so great because it’s bass and subs are located under the dance floor. So, you seriously feel vibrations of the music flow through your legs to your torso. The music is electronic/house/techno genre, so no words, just beats. The above floors are casual drinking areas, and their balconies overlook the dance floor below. Unbelievable night, and yes mom, I made it home fine. 🙂
Sunday market: After resting up from Saturday, a few of us went to Camden Town, a large market full of food, souvenirs, stores and tourists. It was almost too crowded and touristy for most of us, but we enjoyed the unbelievably warm temperatures and Thai food. Later that evening, I made the best food I’ve had here with my friend Chelsie, a stir fry of whole wheat noodles, peppers, pork, teriyaki sauce, onions, brown sugar and spices. I haven’t talked much about the food here, but everything is bland. The carrot cake doesn’t taste like anything. The spaghetti doesn’t have any spice, the cookies have little to no sugar. Maybe it’s good to locals, but I feel like almost all the dishes could have been enhanced with some sort of spice, herb or ingredient. I can’t wait to have food in Paris and Germany.
Monday after work: I recently implemented some planned trips around London in my iCalendar in my MacBook Pro, and yesterday included one of those. After work, I went to Abbey Road to see the Beatles’ home. Had to take a picture of the crosswalk of course and of the walls in front of the studio. The studio is getting a bit of a facelift, but you can still see all of the writing and graffiti that lines the gates in front of the building.
Nothing is planned for this afternoon, as I might try to get some laundry done. Tomorrow I will try to go to Wimbledon, even though I know it will be packed. I really wanted to see one of the Williams sisters, but unfortunately they both bowed out on Monday.
My five London tips/fun facts of the week:
1. Gas prices around these parts are ~£1.35. Think cheap? Not so fast. That’s per liter, and there are 3.7854118 liters in a gallon, making a gallon of gas here about $5.11 USD.
2. Cell phone numbers here do not use area codes. Instead, they replace area codes with the cell phone provider code. Because I have an O2 phone here, my code is 776. If one has Orange or Vodaphone, they will have a different code.
3. You don’t have to tip at restaurants. Glory, right? Waiters are paid regular wage, and you only really tip at a nice place, but only 10%.
4. Brits sign text messages with an ‘x’ or two at the end if they are texting someone they love or are interested in. It’s similar to xoxo at the end of a letter, but now just one ‘x’ can symbolize endearment.
5. Cilantro is coriander. Detergent is non-/biological powder. Sketchy is dodgy. Ground beef is mince beef. Ovens are hobs.
Cheerio from the 2012 Olympic host city,