I’ve been in London for about twenty days now. That revelation was quite startling to me – I feel like I only just got here and like I’ve been here for months. But, I have to remind myself, it’s just been twenty days.
Recently I’ve felt guilty about not taking advantage of more of the history that London has to offer. I’d seen many of my fellow students not only posting pictures of themselves at major London sights, but also talking about trips (present and future) to places outside of London. I felt like I was (and still often feel like I am) falling behind. Adjusting, going to class and figuring out the immediate area have taken up a lot of time. So last week I decided to go to many of the major tourist attractions. Not only was I interested in feeling better about my choices of activities, but I was also genuinely interested in exploring these places.
Wednesday, I set out on my own to see what London had to offer. I went to the Churchill War Rooms first and I must say, it was quite an experience. Seeing the cramped quarters, hearing that the toilets didn’t flush and learning about the British perspective on World War II was fascinating. Churchill was quite the boss. He pushed everyone, including himself, very hard, working from 8am to 3am most days.
Next I went to Westminster Abbey, which was beautiful. Having not read much about it, I was delighted to stumble upon the grave of Queen Anne – Richard III’s wife. As an admirer of Shakespeare, I had a strong notion of who Anne was based on renditions of Richard III. That surprise, and so many more, made the Abbey worth exploring.
Happily, the rest of my day was spent with other people from the program. I got to wander around the staterooms of Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. One of the most stunning parts of the day was the moat surrounding the towers. In it are thousands of ceramic poppies in remembrance of World War I. The poppies combined with the war rooms reminded me of the much closer connection England had to both wars. Though the US participated, the war was not as immediate in the states.
Most of this weekend has been spent exploring the Harry Potter Studios and Cambridge. I can say that both are lovely to visit. Harry Potter was huge and exciting, while Cambridge was peaceful and lush. Now, though I feel like I’ve done my part in terms of being more involved in where I’m staying, I am exhausted. I guess the lesson is to take things slowly here. It’s just hard to relax knowing there are so many things going on and that I’ll only be here for a few months.