Independence and Freedom in the UK [London]

Internship, Personal Life, Travel

Well, we’re now in July, and you know what that means. I’m coming home this month! Good news for you, bad news for me. Not that I don’t care to come home, but London and the other places I’ve traveled have been brilliant. I write this blog post less than 24 hours until my next big trip, and I’m sure I’ll have plenty to write about within the next week. This week though, I stayed around these parts and did a few things on my bucket list.

Last Friday’s lecture and trip: The previous week’s lecture taught the topic of Britain becoming a world industrial power. Britain’s rise was split into two periods, 1945-1979 or post-World War II and 1979 to present day. Enough with the lecture, I was ready to go to the National Science Museum, which was only about a 10 minute walk from home. The museum, located in South Kensington, was our first modern technology museum, but it did include quite a bit of history. The first floor had old steam engines and machines that Britain used first as an industrial power. The floors progressed in time as you went up, the second describing how human anatomy works. Small peanut-shaped learning modules helped put science into simple terms. After checking out how the brain works, I made my way over to the ‘sex’ exhibit. No, not sex, but gender. One module had a sex change application where one takes a picture of himself and watches as the computer changes into the opposite sex. The only thing I gathered from that was that the computer made the male figures box-headed, and gradually got fatter and rounder when changing into female… After that I headed to the atmosphere floor, then on up to the future floor, which described futuristic events, such as men having children, global warming, etc.

        

Even though it was not a required trip, I had desired to go to the Natural History Museum next door. It is an absolutely stunning building from the outside, and it’s seriously as big as it looks. When you arrive inside, it seems as if you are part of the movie, The Night at the Museum. A long, stretched dinosaur skeleton elongates the entrance. Side hallways stretched to exhibits of prehistoric dinosaurs, birds and mammals. Most of the museum shows the evolution of life, and its father Charles Darwin sits as a statue in a chair on the way to the second floor. Despite the animals, I held more interest in the architecture of the building. Take a look at some of the images I snapped.

            

That evening I went out for some Pimm’s, my new favorite drink of choice. Pimm’s, native to Britain, is a ginger-tasting liqueur that is mixed with lemonade and fruit to make the special Pimm’s. A pitcher of it makes about five glasses, so it’s economical! After a few of those, I headed to a bar called Strawberry Moon, a laid back club with modern hits, classics and 1990’s tunes.

Saturday shopping: Dad, you might not want to read this as my bank account might have taken a hit on July 2, 2011. Ok, I was in need of a few pairs of pants. The jeans that I brought are outdated and ill-fitting, so I decided to spend a little on a few nice pairs. Oxford Circus is an area full of modern stores: River Island, Urban Outfitters, Zara and New Look. I bought a couple pair of chinos, or colored khakis as you might call them. They were only £29, or roughly $45. Not bad for a pair of nice pants. I also got some nice dark jeans that go well with work clothing. Needless to say, I was exhausted at the end of the day, so I spent the evening updating my resume to prepare for a job search the next week.

Sunday sports and worship: Because I was able to get some rest, I woke up early on Monday to do a few items on the bucket list. First, I headed to Emirates Stadium up north, where the football (soccer) team Arsenal plays its games. It’s a beautiful stadium in a rough area, and it was cool to see the jerseys and items in the store as well. I know my roommates in Lawrence would be jealous! It’s disappointing that football season here isn’t happening, but I hope to see a game someday. After that, Notting Hill was on the list. No, I was not interested in finding the door where the movie Notting Hill took place. The vintage shops and unique stores caught more of an interest at Portobello Market. I didn’t buy anything, but I had a great Moroccan and chorizo burger for lunch. Next on the list was a church service at Westminster Abbey. The evening service started at 6:30, and we got second row seats. The service took place where William and Kate got married and where Charles Darwin and Dickens were buried. Goosebumps covered my body as the small congregation alternated prayer with song. The bishop’s voice echoed through the height of the abbey and it was an unforgettable experience. I kept a program of the service, but I was not allowed to take photos.

      

Fourth of July: Now, how was I going to celebrate the independence of my home country in the country it gained independence from? Well, after work on American Independence Day, I found an ‘American’ bar in Chelsea where flags were flying. It had a beautiful garden in the back where we ordered burgers and chips, but unfortunately they did not have American beers. On to the next place. A couple of us found a rooftop where red, white and blue balloons moved with breeze. Then we stumbled upon a VIP section, where we met the cast of Made in Chelsea, a reality TV show about the lives of Londoners (sort of like Gossip Girl or the OC). We somehow ended up in a mini photo shoot with the cast. Maybe they thought our American-ness would boost viewership? Not sure where these photos ended up. Maybe a magazine cover? The photo below is us Americanos.

Internship: I spent most of my internship this week getting my required assignments done, and then searching for jobs online to apply for. I’m mostly looking into advertising agencies or marketing firms for a career in client or account service. My passion for sports could also play key in where I end up. I’m hoping to hear back from some contacts this next week, so I’ll keep you posted if anything looks good!

Wednesday at the theatre: Part of our program for KU included a trip to the Victoria theatre to Billy Elliot: The Musical. It’s about a young boy whose dad wants him to grow up as a boxer during the troubled time of mining strikes in Britain. Billy instead draws interest in ballet and has a unique talent. Because of unemployment, his dad is angry, and becomes angrier when he hears his son is involved in ballet. Through all the hardships, his dad helps him get to a famous ballet school in London with the help of his coworkers. It was all a dream for Billy, as he’d like his late mother to see his accomplishments. The play was absolutely fantastic, and I think it’s something London does best. I recommend seeing a show here if you ever travel to the UK.

It’s getting quite late here, but I couldn’t bear without writing a post for so long. Getting so close to my big trip!

My five London tips/fun facts of the week:
1. The ABC’s. We say the letter ‘z’ as “zee.” The English say “zed.” Don’t ask why.
2. Common welcoming and departing phrases are similar to ours but slightly different. Bye is sometimes changed to bye-uh, and hi is sometimes changes to hi-yuh.
3. The News of the World scandalous publication is closing after 168 years on Sunday, due to a phone hacking allegation.
4. Snog is a frozen yogurt place I like to eat at. ‘Snog’ means ‘kiss’ in British English.
5. Campers set up tents outside of Parliament (Big Ben) to protest top worldwide issues.

I’ll be back soon after my trip!

Best,

MRF

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