Sunday, 9 September 2012

First Time in London

 The first part of this week of activities has seemed to pass very quickly. We’ve been traveling throughout England, exploring various historical sites with our guide and historian, Dr. Peter Forseith. It’s been nice to have all this time to settle in before the other students arrive, but I’m ready to meet some students from England and around the globe!

 On day two we took a coach into London, and briskly walked around the city, taking in the sights and making notes of what to explore later. We were able to catch a glimpse of Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, London Eye, Westminster Abbey and of course Buckingham Palace. For some reason, I expected the palace to be a lot more ornate and detailed, but the building has a simple and seemingly functional design.

 The square outside of the royal residence was packed full of people, but we were lucky enough to get a decent view for the changing of the guard ritual. Peeking though the large, iron fence we raised our cameras as the replacement guards approached with a full squad, including band and conductor. The entire process or marching, saluting, men on horseback and police herding people out of the way lasted about 20 minutes and concluded with a medley of ABBA tunes (kind of odd, but whatever). On a side note: most police here don’t carry guns. Police have even been polled, and most state that they would prefer to stick with the taser.

 After viewing the changing of the guard we were fed a nice lunch at a local Methodist Church and able to view an exhibit of religious artwork that Dr. Forsaith had set up in a public gallery. Lunch was excellent, as I learned firsthand why the English love their meat pies. My pie, which consisted of beef, vegetables, and mashed potatoes was excellent! We caught the coach home afterwards and I was able to resume my unpacking.

 Living at Oxford Brookes is very different from HPU from a food/financial standpoint. There is no meal plan in effect, so I now directly purchase everything that I cook/consume. I’ve provided for myself the last two summers, living alone and working in North Carolina and Connecticut, but the price of groceries in England has been a bit of a rude awakening. Either way I am learning the value, or lack there of, of the dollar (£1 = $1.62).

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