I have survived another even week and found myself halfway through one of the most challenging 8 weeks of my life.
Last weekend was the London weekend organized by IFSA-Butler, which didn’t help me study for my tutorials any. I hopped on a bus in Oxford on Friday afternoon, and 2 hours later found myself in London. Actually, It was closer to losing myself in London. The Oxford Tube was not stopping where Will and I had anticipated because of construction. Fortunately, we figured out that we had walked in the opposite direction before it was too late. We found our way to the Mexican restaurant on the north side of London where all of the other IFSA-Butler students were catching up on life and school in the United Kingdom. The Mexican food was some of the best that I’ve had on this side of the Atlantic, but I think they could still learn something from Chipotle.
IFSA-Butler helped out with travel expenses as well as a hotel for the weekend, and this made the trip quite affordable, which feels really good when the news can’t seem to stop talking about how the crashing markets.
Saturday we were free to do whatever we wanted. I spent the day looking around museums. I hit the South Bank and the Globe theater, the National Theater, and the Tate Modern. I am kind of a sucker for modern art, and getting to see some really outrageous and thought-provoking pieces like Thirty Pieces of Silver (Cornelia Parker) and Lilith (Anselm Kiefer) was fantastic. These pieces force the observer to think about their content and the incongruity in what they are attempting to depict in their mixed mediums, and I love this about them. I also love that the Tate is free and open to the public. It makes the Art much more accessible, which is extremely important. After this, I headed back across the Millennium Bridge towards St. Paul’s Cathedral and grabbed bus towards Trafalgar Square because (surprise surprise) it was pouring down rain. There I went in the National Gallery and the Portrait Gallery. This was exciting primarily because of a fantastic image of Shakespeare. In it he appears slightly disheveled and unkempt, and almost irritated that he was taken away from his writing for an afternoon to have his portrait taken. He is alive and wild in the portrait just as he is in writing in the plays. I kind of wish I had a poster of the image because he looks so outrageous in it.
Saturday evening, I found that I could get tickets to a play by Harold Pinter, who I am coincidentally reading in my modern British drama tutorial, for 10 quid (pounds). I decided that it would be foolish to pass on this opportunity, and was quite glad I took advantage of the situation. The play was phenomenally performed by a cast that included two Harry Potter characters: Dumbledore (the newer one, MIchael Gambon) and Filch (David Bradley). I think you can summarize most of this type of theater as people sitting in a room being witty. No Man’s Land is a very dark comedy that frequently seems to stray into satire. The play makes quite a few references to Oxford, and seems to center on the contrast between the two types of people who come out of the school: those who are successful and those who aren’t.
Also of interest this week was Election night, which was watched by a significant minority of the junior common room in Teddy Hall. Lots of Americans, but even more Brits, which was really surprising. It is amazing to see how much people from outside the states care about America, its politics, and how they are affected by who I vote for. This also served as a major distraction to getting my Shakespeare paper done, and I want to blame the election for the divisive and distracted nature of my essay this week. That said, I should return to preparing for next weeks essay on Hamlet. Thanks for reading.