We had our second excursion for class today and we were meeting at the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral at 10 a.m. which made for an early morning start to the day (Who doesn’t love those?). Although my friend and I got a little bit lost in the maze of pubs, a helpful gentleman pointed us in the right direction, and we met up with a few of our classmates and our professor. The Cathedral is beautiful, genuinely one of the most massive and stunning buildings I’ve ever seen, and I was a little overwhelmed at the sheer magnitude of it. We weren’t able to go inside, but it was well worth it simply to walk around and admire the churchyard and gardens.
Our class today was focused on the relation between sound and reading. Our assignment was to walk around the city and observe the sounds we heard, really hearing them instead of just listening to them. We did several exercises together, including one where we simply sat on the steps of the Cathedral in complete silence for four and a half minutes and another where we had to “write” or “draw” the sounds we were hearing around us.
After we did these exercises, we walked at our own pace to the Tate Modern, where we then met up with the class. We had a brief conversation out front before our professor let us loose to explore as we pleased, this was my first visit to the museum and I loved it. The ground, 2nd, and 4th floors are all free, open exhibits, and so my friends and I wandered around each of these. The art itself was varied and interesting, reminding me very much of the work found in the art museums of New York City such as the MOMA (Museum of Modern Art).
One section I found truly remarkable was the exhibit that featured o experience pictures of slaves and displays of African-American men and women across the decades with prose printed on them. I absolutely fell in love with the genius use of mixed media as well as the overall message of the exhibit, I spent a good amount of time in this room just taking it all in.
Of course, there’s always some pieces of art work that provoke different emotions than others – some positive and some negative. were also some less than pleasant exhibits we saw. One room featured knotted human hair in such vast quantities that at first glance I thought it was yarn, upon further inspection I discovered that it was literal human hair; another was a strange set-up that included figures that were a hybrid of humans and rodents, and it disturbed the most out of everything else in the museum. Some of my friends agreed that it was a more disturbing piece but there were others who admitted to loving the piece. I can’t help but feel skeptical about that but nevertheless, the museum in and of itself was outstanding and featured even more paid exhibits that I didn’t really have the finances to afford, aha.
After we finished up at the Tate, my friends and I split paths. I’d heard a lot of talk from others in the program of one of London’s malls: Westfield mall. My friends and I had made plans later that night to visit a bar someone raved about to us, the time was only 2 pm and we weren’t scheduled to meet until 8 pm so I thought, instead of going back to my room to lounge around, why not check out the mall everyone had such gracious comments about?
The commute to the mall wasn’t very long, only 30 minutes from the Tate museum. I managed to make it there on my own with absolutely no difficulties. Noticeably, navigating the city has become much easier for me; the panic attacks I used to have while traveling around alone no longer occurred and I found my way around with ease. At first, I was nervous, not necessarily nervous to travel on my lonesome but to be lonely. I think it’s true that one doesn’t need a group of friends around all the time in order to have fun but I think many would agree that a friend or two would definitely make things better. Nonetheless, with or without friends I made my way to the mall and once I entered I knew I made the correct decision.
It was huge! Stores and stores and more stores could be found in Westfield mall. It was so huge that I ended up spending hours within it (some of that time spent trying to figure out where things were) and I know I barely scratched the surface of it. After that not-so quick shopping trip, I made my way home so that I could get ready to go out.
The destination for the night was Ballie Ballerson, a bar that featured an adult ball pit and neon decor. One of my friend’s explained how her boyfriend and some of his friends went to an adult ball pit somewhere in London and had a blast. At first, I was a little skeptical about the idea of drinking and playing in a ball pit (as an almost 21-year-old woman) but I gave it a chance and I’m so glad I did. The night was filled with endless fun; the ball pit was intensely hot but the room was dark and the balls in the pit were illuminated by neon lights. A lot happened: we all got a little crazy (in a good way) in the adult ball pit, I drank a glitter infused cocktail (10/10 recommend), some guy lost his shoe? and I’ve got some great flicks as evidence of it all. The night was long because the ball pit bar was only open until 10 pm we ended up venturing off into another area of the city, SoHo, to continue our fun for the night.
Although the night was filled with some minor trials and tribulations: the ball pit was extremely hot which resulted in us all leaving it a sweaty hot mess and we somehow managed to lose two members of our group on the way to SoHo, the night ended well. The commute home was long and tiresome (like it always is because we always opt for the cheapest route back to campus) but best believe the moment I hit that bed I was in pure heaven.
The following day started later than usual; our social program planned to meet at noon today for our trip. The time adjustment had given me the chance to sleep in and catch up on the much needed sleep I was robbed of during the week.
The days trip consisted of a “boat cruise” on the Thames river that would lead us to the Greenwich village area of London where we would visit the conservatory.
At 12:15 pm we began making our way into the city to meet up with our tour guide by the boat dock at 1:30 pm. Once aboard the cruise I immediately made my way to the top and outer section of the boat with the idea that I’d get the best views of the city from there; I wasn’t wrong. As the boat drove down the river of Thames I got a chance to view the city in a completely different way than I had before. I’ve seen the city from down below as a street walker and way up high at an aerial view but never have I seen the city from the water. The London bridge, Tower bridge, Big Ben, London Eye and the Shard were all in perfect view from the boat and I took this opportunity to take as many scenic pictures as possible. Although the day was a bit cloudy, the sight of the city was still something to behold.
The day itself was a bit gloomy and the boat ride was long and chilly; I didn’t anticipate how cooler it would be on the water and as a result, I (and many of my classmates) nearly froze as we listened to our guide speak about the significance of each landmark/location along the river. The boat ride itself lasted almost 2 hours and ended when we reached Greenwich village.
Upon arrival, our guide explained that we’d be visiting the conservatory. At the very top of the conservatory, (up an extremely steep hill that we were not warned about prior) one can find the Prime Meridian, place their feet on both sides of it and declare that they were in both the Eastern and Western sides of the hemisphere simultaneously. The walk tot he conservatory was about 10-15 minutes and then the trek up the hill was probably another 5. The only consolation I received for such a workout was the amazing view that I found at the very top where the conservatory was located (view pictured above). The sky was starting to clear up and the beautiful area of Greenwich could be seen perfectly from above. As we waited for our guide to receive our tickets and distribute them I took this time to catch my breath and relax a moment. Once our guide distributed tickets he spoke a little more about the Prime Meridian and I’ll be honest, I’m not certain exactly what made standing on both sides of it such an amazing accomplishment. He mentioned something about the significance of time and space and all that jazz; he didn’t really stick around in order for me to ask any further questions on the matter. There was also a small museum located within the conservatory, to which we were allowed free roam of after our guide decided he was done with us for the evening.
The rest of the trip passed by in a blur, my friends and I grabbed a bite to eat (or at least tried to) at the famous Greenhich Market known for some delicious food but by the time we finished up with our tour of the museum the markets were already packing up for the day (I don’t think I’ll ever adjust to the custom in London where shops close at 5 pm, 6 weeks and I’m still annoyed by it).
After that slightly disappointing experience (tour included) we all made our way home via public transit because although we arrived at Greenwich via boat with our social program we were responsible for paying and finding our own way home.
As a way of remedying one the most dissatisfying trips we’ve had here in London, my friends and I decided to head out to one of the clubs in the city call Bar Rumba. The night ended well, we completely forget about the frigid 2+ hour boat ride to Greenwich, our mediocre tour and tour guide, and lack of a hearty meal by the end of a very long day.
The past few days have consisted of a series of ups and downs, positives, and negatives. I’ve been in class by day and out by night, making the most of my final week as a student of Roehampton this summer. I’ve been extra conscious of time lately and it somehow seems to me like 6 weeks was not enough; there’s still so much I want to do but not enough time.