“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
― Samuel Johnson
I've been in London since January 4th and I am beginning to understand what Samuel Johnson was meaning. It's a big city. But those are everywhere. However, not many have the international flavor and that special touch of British class that epitomize this island metropolitan. I live a few stones' throw away from King's Cross Rail Station (Yes, the one from Harry Potter) and enjoy either a 3 minute or 25 minute walk to class Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays depending on which campus I'm headed to. The University of London is divided up into many different schools and colleges which specialize in particular fields. I am attending the school of Oriental and African Studies which has campuses at Vernon Square (the close one) and Russel Square (the farther one). It is considered one of, if not the, leading school in the world on the studies of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East and I am taking a wide range of classes in order to get an idea of what it's all like. Modern Japan, Introduction to the History of the Near and Middle East, The State and Politics in Africa, and Violence, Identity, and Politics in Modern East and Northeast Africa are the modules (classes) that I'm currently taking. It's quite an interesting school, with a number of elite past and present scholars that cover every area you could think of in the school's academics. One thing I still have to get used to is the British way of calling college professors by their first name as "professor" is reserved for only the most senior lecturers.
But besides class, London has been quite the adventure. While running all across the city I've seen numerous interesting sights including the execution site of William Wallace (more popularly remembered as the man Scotsman portrayed by Mel Gibson in Braveheart) and the U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom's home in Regents Park. The study abroad program provider that I chose, API, has taken our group on many great adventures. (Side note: In API's long and storied history as a study abroad provider, I am the first student they have ever sent to University of London: SOAS!). I've toured the Harry Potter Film Studio, received a tour of London and had a traditional English tea and sandwich lunch at a fancy hotel. I am looking forward to our overnight visit to Wales in March and upcoming tours of the historic Wembley Stadium and Wellcome Art Collection. On my own I've seen two Premier League football matches (including an FA Cup match between my beloved Arsenal and Swansea City with English hero Jack Wilshere slamming home the winning goal in the 85') and saw Denzel Washington at the London Premiere of his film Flight. It's been truly action-packed and I am sure to have more to report very soon! Cheers!
Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0