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London: History, Art, and Society- Part One

Surprise! Since it’s my birthday week, I figured I’d gift you, as well as myself, a cheeky second post for the week. This one will be of my first field trip in my London Studies course here at Roehampton.

My second week of classes we went to the oldest part of London. The Romans settled just north of the Thames in what was to be named Londinium around 43 A.D. It was much smaller than what comes to mind when we think of today’s megacity.

Londinium was your typical ancient Roman city, complete with bathhouses, temples, even an amphitheatre (although much smaller than Rome’s own coliseum), and was surrounded by a stone wall.     IMG_2734

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Our first stop of the day was the Guildhall Galleries, which was actually built upon the amphitheatre. According to the gallery’s own website, the remains were discovered in 1985 during redevelopment. Inside the gallery’s basement, you can stand amid the rocks and rubble where gladiators fought and their spectators cheered. When you go back above ground and outside of the gallery, you can see a circle lining the courtyard which shows the scale of the amphitheatre (Guildhall Galleries is the building with the red flags, the basements where previous pictures were taken).

 

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The next stop was the Museum of London, which I had the privilege of visiting for the second time. On the way there, we had a chance to stop and see some of the remaining fragments of the original Londinium walls. The Roman portion is at the bottom, which was later used as a base and built upon during the medieval times (you can see the difference in the architecture in the photo) and eventually worked into the framework of more modern buildings.
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This trip to the Museum of London was much more informational than my previous trip, as I had the commentary of my professors.

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This trip was incredibly surreal; the amount of history and culture from ancient times that remains in London today blows my mind, and it is something I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of being exposed to.

Thank you so much for reading; I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I hope you’ll come back for next week’s post!

Xx Jessica

Birthday Edition

This past week I was privileged to spend yet another birthday with my best friend. But this one was much different than the ones celebrated previously. This time we’re in one of the world’s greatest cities. For my chum’s twenty-second birthday we decided to treat ourselves and have a night out with friends.

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Typical “nights-out” are neither of our cups of tea, but when in London, right?

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And with my birthday coming up later this week, we figured we would have juxtaposing, chill trip to an infamous market, Portobello Road (think Notting Hill). So between the two celebrations, I’d say my impending birthday might be the best one yet.

However, there is one more birthday that I will be celebrating this week. The day I will be posting this, February 1st, is my grandpa’s birthday. This will be the second one we haven’t been able to celebrate together, since his passing in August of 2014.IMG_2896

Despite the amount of time that has passed, there are still days when I feel like I could easily call him up and talk to him about everything that’s been going on, especially being on this incredible study abroad journey (and he’d tell me how impressed he was, and remind me how he’s not easily impressed). I doubt this feeling will pass anytime soon, and I’m not sure I’d want it to. I know he’s still just as excited my adventures, and that simple though makes the situation a bit more bearable.

So happy birthday to my favorite people: Lori, Grandpa Bob, and Harry Styles. Thank you for being the best parts of my life, and letting me be a part of yours.

And thank you for reading! Sorry this post is a bit wordier, but I definitely have plenty more photos to share with you!

Xx Jessica

Next Stop: Camden Town

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During my last trip to London a few summers ago, my friends and I visited the Camden Lock Markets on the recommendation of a photographer we met. The few hours we spent walking around the “quirky, punk-side” of London are some of my favorite memories from that trip, so when I arrived in London a few weeks ago, I knew I had to revisit.

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Camden is located in east London, while my campus is in the southwest. It takes a bus, an overground train, as well as the underground to get to, but it is well worth the trip. The high-street has your typical stores and familiar restaurants (shoutout to KFC!) but further down, you end up making your way to independent merchants selling everything from food to jewelry to home décor. While there are many mainstream trinkets, you can also find one-of-a-kind items.

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My second trip to Camden Town juxtaposed the previous in nearly every way. In the June daylight, the markets are so packed with people and venders you have to practically fold yourself to make your way through. But this week, we walked the markets at dusk, which had noticeably less merchants than before, as well as visitors. We were able to take our time and weave through the halls at our own pace, instead of feeling crammed and rushed.

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Camden holds a place in my heart for many reasons. Besides housing precious memories, Camden is a place you can go to be inspired. Here, art and music collide with culture to paint the town’s walls, businesses, and sidewalks. Everyone is accepted, because everyone has the freedom to express themselves however they deem fit.

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If you ever plan a trip to London, make sure to put Camden on your To Do list.

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Thanks for reading; I hope you enjoyed!

– Jessica

Photo Frenzy

On our first Saturday in the UK, the Study Abroad office here at Roehampton scheduled a bit of a scavenger hunt for us to run around and get acquainted with the typical post-card picture London. We met at the Reef, a small café on the Southlands (my college, go sharks!) at 9:30 and were handed a folder of riddles to solve, which we would travel to and take pictures of. I met up with the other students from UMKC, Lori and Kirk, as well as another girl from Lori’s flat Meg, and our group of four grew to a group of seven when we met a few others while deciphering the clues: Maria, Alex, and Holden.

I had an incredible day, running through the city being a stereotypical tourist with a bunch of new friends and peers. Instead of making this a more text-heavy post, I’ll leave a few of my favorite pictures below, since that’s what you want to see anyway, right?

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One of our first pictures, at Waterloo station. For us to get into central London, we take a quick bus ride to the train station, which then takes us here! PC: Holden Jones

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Here’s the Globe Theatre; it wasn’t actually one of the stops on this scavenger hunt, but it was right next to Millennium Bridge, which was. Fun Fact: this isn’t the original Shakespearian theatre, which burnt down June 29, 1613. This one opened in 1997, a few hundred feet away from the original site. PC: Me

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As most of you know, London is situated on the River Thames, which we walked along throughout the day. There was a portion of rail that had locks on it, much like the Lover’s Lock bridge in Paris. This is a picture I snapped of one of the coolest locks I’ve ever seen.

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Here’s a picture of a man playing a flaming tuba. Typical London. PC: Lori Scoby

Here’s another one of Group 6 in Westminster. To your right, out of frame, is Big Ben and Westminster Abbey.  PC: Kirk Williams

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This is a quick picture I snapped on the way to the Royal Opera House. I’ll give you a minute to get the reference. (Hint: He makes muffins)

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Here’s a picture of a statue named the Meeting Place. It’s located in King’s Cross station, which along with St. Pancras next door, is one of London’s gateways to Europe. PC: Me

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One last stop before heading back into Westminster to turn in our papers was Barnes Street. Right next to Holmes’ home/museum was the London Beatles Store, complete with Sgt. Pepper’s window-fronts, and a Rock ‘N’ Roll Memorabilia Store that I’ll definitely have to make my way back to this semester.

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to read through my post! I have one more class this week, then I’ll have an update on the school side of London. Have an incredible day!

Xx Jessica

Cold update: still hanging on strong, I’m about to open my fourth box of Kleenex since Sunday

When the Rain Stops..

I really wanted my first ever blog post to be super upbeat and full of excitement, but I’ve been blowing my nose approximately a million times and hour and have probably gotten less than a dozen hours of sleep since I left the states.

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On Tuesday my friend, Lori, and I flew from KCI/MCI to Washington DC for an 18-hour layover, and flew from IAD to London’s Heathrow airport (where I had my first airport-security-pat-down; note to self: don’t wear your sparkly sweats on planes), arriving in the UK around 9:30pm Wednesday night. We finally made it to campus after attempting to maneuver our taxi driver towards a campus we’ve never seen or been to after half 10. This was way after the campus had finished the others international arrivals’ pizza party, but our room keys and any bundles purchased beforehand (ie. the kitchen & bedding pack I bought a month ago) were to be ready for us to pick up. They weren’t. Yes, that means we were locked out of our rooms. We each waited for security to escort us to our temporary new homes. But, once I was let in, I realized I had no sheets, pillows, or blankets. My first night back in London I slept wrapped in my coat and scarves, well attempted to anyway.

Orientation started mid-morning on Thursday. I met up with Lori and we dodged puddles and uneven cobble stone as we greeted other international students on the way to the building. We had a few lectures, about safety and student life on campus, etc, and begun our campus tour-in the rain. After a few stops at different cafes and buildings, the rain subsided, the sun peeked out from the clouds and we continued our making our way through Roehampton. We spent the rest of the day walking around campus, and off campus trying to begin familiarizing the routes to the nearest grocery store and fast food joint, even making a trip to ASDA (Walmart) to pick up some essentials (towels, some food, but most importantly, a really soft blanket)

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Obviously, I know London is an incredibly dreary place, weather-wise. The sun starts setting at nearly 2pm, and is usually cloud-covered anyway. But my favorite thing is when the rain stops for a few minutes and I get to soak it up and take in all the incredible sights around me. Yes, the first couple days of my study abroad experience didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped, but I really do love being in London and I am really excited to see how much I’ll grow in these next few months.

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Thank you so much for taking the time to read my rants! I hope to have another one up during the week about my Scavenger Hunt experience, and will of course update you on how my first week in the UK uni system goes. Hopefully, by then my cold will have disappeared!

Xx Jessica