Life at SOAS is a fantastic whirlwind of engaging conversation, stimulating lectures and overall exciting atmosphere. I am constantly feeling challenged even if it is mostly about different aspects of imperialism at this point, I am sure our African discussions will move on from here!
Outside of the classroom, I have been taking advantage of what living in one of the biggest most cosmopolitan cities in the world has to offer. As you know, every Sunday I go to a different Church service ( except this Sunday because it wasn’t open) but on my other days off I am trying to adventure more as well. Here are a few of my more notable adventures…
The home of the royal family is only open every summer when the Queen is on vacation. This year was a special year where they opened up more in honor of her Royal Jubilee. My friend Chelsea* and I toured Buckingham Palace, the Royal Mews, and in the Queen’s Gallery an exhibit on Leonardo Di Vinici.
I think out of all of it the Royal Mews was my favorite, seeing the special carriages used for coronations, opening of parliament, and other important official royal duties.
The royal tour conituned into the State Rooms, where unfortunately you are not allowed to take ppictures but you are allowed to enjoy the stunning beauty that is Buckingham Palace. I constantly had to remind myself that unlike Versailles, it is not a former home, it is a home. The hardest item for me to grasp about the monarchy is that this is someone who was born to live this life. Because of where they were born they were offered a life of riches, and leadership. I have no idea if I consider this is a good thing or bad thing, to me it is just a thing. Being able to see it and make that conclusion was a very lucky opportunity. The rooms also had a special diamonds exhibit. We got to take a close look at the Royal Diamonds and understand what they were there for. The queue for this was so long though that by the time I got to see the diamonds I was so disinterested in them! The best fun fact I learned was that every single gift given to the Queen will always have a special home, no matter how big or small. I love that. I think I should send her a gift some day. 🙂
Oxford street, Camden town and a crazy thing called Argos.
As we all know, London is known around the world for its amazing shopping. I figured I would not be able to buy a single top for less than £20. Little did I know, that I was actually able to find this great (being a relative term) called Primark. It is a chain store in the UK where everything making H&M look expensive. Now I don’t know much about the company or if the products are any good, but being able to buy three sweaters, a skirt, tshirt, socks and a few more odds and ends for under £40 sounds like an amazing place for a college student such as myself.
Camden Market, was another place that I had heard about as a fun and exciting place to shop. It deffinitly was exciting, its bustling full of different types of coffee shops, food vendors, clothing vendors anything you want you can probably find. It is just an exciting atmosphere- there was even a tank top of Nuns having Fun! I restrained from purchasing it though!
On my first day here, I had to go out and buy a pillow, cooking supplies and some other essentials, so I asked around about a superstore type place I could go. I was sent to this shop called Argos, which sounds pretty normal, i thought great no problem. I arrived and suddenly problem: its a tiny little window shop with a bunch of magazines. How do I shop if there is no product to purchase? Finally it hit me, you order what you want and then the sales reps go and get it for you. So here I am right off the plane, trying to stay awake and starting to find the cheapest and best deals in a magazine. I finally found everything I wanted to purchase, and then bam, went up to purchase. The sales rep responded ” did you check to see if they are in stock these are all out of stock.” So then I had to go back, use the computer instead of the magazine and finally find the items I wanted that were in stock. I ended up with quite the random assortment of items. Turns out many of my friends ended up needing to go back for odds and ends, and my argos education really paid off :D.
The Globe Theater
This past weekend, on a mild fluke I ended up landing myself at the globe to watch King Richard III, peasant style in standing room only. Apart from needing to buy a poncho from the rain, my feet killing me, and not really being able to understand, it was an absolute delight! I finally felt like all of my Shakespeare studying in middle and high school theater has paid off- I could understand it for the most part and I felt like I had learned quite a bit about the globe theater in my past so Thanks Mrs. Felch and Mr. Miyasaki!
“the world has grown so bad, that wrens pray where eagles dare not perch” Richard III Act I Scene III.
Canoe Polo.. or as my mom calls it Canoe Boxing
During the “Freshers Fair” I decided to sign up for a sport called canoe polo ( which is funny because its played in Kayaks but apparently that means canoe here and vise versa) I didn’t think much about the sport having played water polo and currently being a rower. I simply thought fun team activity. Little did I know I was about to get my butt kicked. The second I passed my swim test, they had us get a boat and then tip ourselves over and get out of it. When then had to learn how to rescue someone who has fallen over, and then how to get back up. Things in rowing you except never to happen so you only say ” well with water this cold you have about thirty seconds after you capsize before hypothermia sets in.. so hopefully the coach gets there quick.” Apparently in a sport where you push each other sometimes they push you and you flip over, or in my case you just flip over because you can’t paddle very well. It turns out such a stupid ( sorry if any of you are reading this) idea of fun is actually a blast. I feel a bit like I am playing bumper cars, and monkey in the middle, and water polo, and life rescuing. It is like nothing I have ever tried to do before. What is even better is that it is not a sport through SOAS but through the University of London so I am getting to me people from different schools. Even if the awful bruises on my leg make it seem otherwise, I am really pumped about this sport and almost wish I was here for a year to get better at it!
Outdoor Education In London
I believe that taking advantage of the areas that you are living in and what is has to offer is the only way to get a full education. I am lucky enough to only have classes twice a week. ( its still eight hours of class a week just lands at the oddest times.. and today a Professor is sick!) With having very little class, I still have to remember that it is just as important to keep up my outdoor education and get to know the history behind London. Every day I am trying to learn more and more and these are just a few highlights from some of the activities I am doing in order to take full advantage of my surroundings. Along with my Church Challenge– I am enacting an education challenge, a challenge that I am fully accepting. I cannot wait to bring back both my indoor and outdoor education to Clark, if its how I am interacting differently in my political science and UDSC courses, or just on the campus as a whole, I know this study abroad experience is 100% worth it.