Today I learned that you can accomplish incredible things in London during an eight-hour day trip.
But, before I get ahead of myself, I have to tell you about my first "official" classes and how Tuesday -a substantially less exciting day than Wednesday - went down. I spent the morning wandering with my new friend Elizabeth (who is awesome). Our biggest discovery was the Duke Humpherey Library within the Bodelian; it's a collection of old, old books, chained to the shelves. Only students can access the main shelves, so we were able to bypass the tourists and go exploring through texts older than Oxford itself. To put it in understandable terms, this was the library used for scenes in Harry Potter. And I get to study there. Every day.
Post library-exploration, we wandered through the Covered Market (which includes a glorious eatery called "Pie Minister") and Blackwell's Bookshop (with a unique Rare & Antiquities section never found in Barnes & Noble). She and I both take the Jane Austen course, so after lunch we headed to the St. Peter's Library basement for our first course. It only took 30 minutes, but I now have a good idea of what this month will look like. We have to write 2 papers and complete 1 presentation, and the topics will be given approximately 1 week in advance. Compared to the other programs, we have it relatively easy. Still, I'm here to work hard, and stronlgy believe we'll all learn a lot through this program. As I've said before, Hugh is a genuine and intelligent guy who will stretch our mental limits without making us want to jump ship.
The last event on Tuesday was a very bad fruit tea experience, but I'm trying to forget that. To put it simply, Kathleen and I are taking a break from any teas not provided by our Hall.
Now! Onto what you've been waiting for. Our 8-hour London extravaganza. I don't think I'll be able to do justice to the unheard of amounts of fun we had today, but I'll try. We spent 13 pounds on our round-trip bus tickets, arriving at Oxford St. around 11:15 am. After a short hop on the Tube, we wound up at the British Museum. Let me tell you, there is nothing like the British Museum. I met several lovely men, including these two. They were studying abroad:
The Egyptian section of this museum is quite impressive, although sometimes it was frustrating to learn that the missing fragments of several hieroglyphs and statues were located at the museum in - of course - Egypt. I hate how politics and greed are preventing these nations from coming together to complete an incredible part of history. Instead of whole monuments, we're just left with scattered fragments of a once-prosperous society. Sigh.
The British Museum was followed by a rainy walk to the Tate, which houses collections of Modern Art. I love art just as much as the next person - possibly a little more - but a large portion of what I saw was just creepy. Call me ignorant, or naive, or immature, but a painting made of cheddar cheese - or a rope on the ground - or a giant wooden outlet - do not constitute Tate-Worthy-Art. If someone can explain to me how a ROPE - on the GROUND - can be displayed on the same floor as Monet's "Water Lillies" and Andy Warhol's most famous originals, I will give you two pence. How can an exhibitionist short film of a naked couple sitting on a sofa be of equal value to Jackson Pollock's "Summertime: #9A"?!? It baffles me. To me, art need not be realistic or pastoral. Art need not be anything except to the artist. However, for something to be displayed at the Tate Modern, it needs to have some sort of obvious skill, some talent, some meaning, beyond the fact nobody has thought to do it before.
In the end, it's truly a matter of personal taste.
As in, I have it.
After taking pictures at: The Globe, London Bridge, Big Ben, Westminister Abbey, and Buckingham Palace*, we were finally ready to call it a day. Lucky for us, we ran into an amazing restaurant (Bumbles) offering a 3-course meal for 10 POUNDS! Not only was it delicious, but the comfy chairs were worth 20 pounds just to relax in. Hence, it was a bargain. We dined on gnocchi and fennel salads, cauliflower rissoto with mushrooms, vanilla ice cream...it was delicious and affordable. What a day in London!
Finally, we got on the bus and went home. And now I'm here. The end.**
*Actually, I tried to break into Buckingham Palace.
**And, we only got on the bus after chasing it down the streets of London. Twice.