Archive for February, 2008

London Retrospective, Week Four

(4 Feb to 10 Feb)

Classes continue, business as usual, except for the part where our instructions for certain classes include things like “Meet in front of St. Paul’s.” You can’t really…do that, in Syracuse, you know? By now I’ve established a fairly consistent pattern in my weeks – classes Monday through Wednesday, group-project meeting(s) on Thursday, field trip on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for homework and one or two jaunts around London. It’s a pretty good arrangement, I think.

This week’s field trip is Oxford, and, since I’m a nerd, I’m incredibly excited to see the famous university and its town. Yeah, yeah, it’s where Harry Potter and The Golden Compass were filmed, blah – I’m more interested in the fact that it’s where the The Golden Compass, as in the novel, is set, and in the history of the actual place. The coach ride is about an hour and a half, and as I’ve discovered, it’s one of my favorite parts of the day, a chance to catch up on music-listening and watch the scenery flashing past. Today, because of a reported accident ahead, our driver pulls off the motorway onto the country roads, and it becomes quite evident where the term “scenic route” came from. Broad green fields sitting under the sun, the fog still in the process of burning off; wooded hills gently receding into the distance; narrow roads I’m surprised the coach can even navigate, birch trees closely crowding either side. Villages – actual villages – nestled romantically between the woods and the fields. It’s so picturesque it’s hard to believe it all actually exists; “Come on,” I find myself thinking, “there’s no way it can be this pretty.” But it is, and that’s the incredible thing, this beautiful and green country just sitting there, existing, content in itself. We drive through Henley-on-Thames, a (ridiculously) gorgeous little village bridging the river (famous for its boat races), with all the old houses sitting sleepily in an odd mixture of sun and mist from the water.

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London Retrospective: Week Three

(28 Jan to 3 Feb)

Okay: Week Three. It’s the second week of classes, and I’m still getting into the groove of things – it’s more difficult than usual for me to figure out how to manage my time. This is understandable, because a) my schedule is considerably less intense than it has been in previous semesters; no class until 2:00 on Tuesday? What? And b) I’m in London. It’s kind of distracting, you know? My group for a project in studio makes a visit to the British Museum (we’re designing an exhibition for the Grand Court), and it’s so much easier just to wander in awe than to take photos and think about circulation patterns. “Hey, want to get dinner after class?” turns into a solid three hours of conversation and laughter at The Shakespeare’s Head (a pub close to Faraday House; not great on authenticity, but they have decent prices and good burgers) before I realize that I have to read a play for Irish Lit the next day.

It’s still only the second “official” week of the semester, though, so my workload is fortunately pretty light, and as we’ve previously discussed, the weekend rolls around pretty quickly. The Friday Field Trip this week is to Windsor Castle – the oldest continually occupied castle in England (or maybe the world; I can’t remember) and, it must be noted, the Queen’s favorite residence.

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You should watch this

…Because it’s the coolest two minutes you’ll spend today (and the Mission-Impossible-y soundtrack is hilarious). I love things like this; installation art, performance piece, and sociological experiment rolled into one. I’d totally do something like this, someday, but I know I wouldn’t be able to hold a straight face. Hee.

Found via Dave Kellett’s excellent webcomic, Sheldon.

More London updates soon!

London Retrospective: Week Two

(21 Jan – 27 Jan)

My week begins with an epic quest: I have to deliver our first month’s rent (all $6500 of it – what was that about London being the most expensive city in the world?) to our landlord before my first class at 12:20. My flatmates all have class at 10:00, so it falls to me to traverse the city with more cash than I’ve ever even held before strapped to my body, sweating like a fiend because if I get mugged, there really isn’t any point in going on living. I feel like a one-man production of “The Italian Job,” which, trust me, is not as fun as it sounds. Every other person on the Tube seems like a vicious criminal who can smell the money on me; every rooftop conceals a sniper about to take me down. Money makes me nervous – or at least it does when I’m carrying $6500 in cash through a busy city.

But the delivery goes off smoothly, and once I arrive at Faraday House, the semester begins in earnest – if by “in earnest” you actually mean “Wednesday night rolls around and it’s already the weekend.” Best schedule ever, you guys. Classes look good; preliminary favorites include the Multidisciplinary Design Studio, which is a wonderful relief from the monotony of having studio with the same thirty people for the past two years, and Irish Literature, which…’nuff said. The rest of my flatmates only have classes through Wednesday too, so we plan to go see Westminster Abbey on Thursday.

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Uh-whoops! (Or, London Retrospective, Week One)

Well, okay. Apparently I suck at this whole blogging thing, because I’ve been in London for over a month now and, oops, haven’t updated once. What happened, you might well ask, to those much-promised weekly entries? The short answer is that London happened. Sure, we had issues getting Internet access in our flat, and yeah, I’ve been busy with classes and such, but really, after each Awesome Thing I do, I’m too overwhelmed to write about it when I come home. Which is really no excuse, because that’s when my impressions will the the freshest, blah blah values of journaling blah. I know, and I’m terrible, and I’m sorry. So here goes another effort to get back in the habit.

(“Uh-whoops,” in case you’re wondering, is something Flatmate Kathleen has taken to saying lately, and it’s quite infectious. It’s like the standard “whoops,” only better.)

But first, I figure I should catch you up on this past month-and-a-bit, which has been completely packed and absolutely terrific. These week-by-week retrospectives will be presented in installments, because I’m not sure I could actually write everything out in one sitting – shouldn’t you train before a marathon? This’ll get me caught up fairly quickly, though, so instead of telling you about the ancient history of this semester (literally – I’m talking Stonehenge), I can get on to more important blogular things like The Best Cookies In The World and Reasons Why British English Is So Much Better Than Its Bastardized American Cousin. Let’s get this show on the web:

Continue reading ‘Uh-whoops! (Or, London Retrospective, Week One)’