Thursday, September 3, 2009

British Museum, Brits, and Big Ben

     Today was a really fun and busy day.  Kacey and I woke up at 7:30 and went for a run in Kensington Gardens.  It was so pretty and the weather was perfect.  We got back just in time to have some breakfast and shower before orientation.  Orientation started at 9 and went until about 12.  A lot of information, but really long.  At orientation we were given our first homework assignments from each of the professors which required going to the British Museum and National Gallery.  So off we went, a crew of us (Kacey, LeAnn, Mandi, Abby, Courtney, Lauren, Emmy, Kristin, and I), and not screaming American or anything as we attempted to explore our new home.
     Our first stop was the British Museum.  Biology students were assigned to go see the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III. It had texts on it dating back from 859 to 824 BC and was discovered in 1846. We were also assigned to see the famous Rosetta Stone.  This was really cool.  The top portion was in hieroglyphics, the middle portion Egyptian, and the bottom portion Greek.  Crazy to think how this one stone changed the world and written language.  While we were there we also walked through the Parthenon wing which had major pieces from the Parthenon in Greece.  This was so cool and it was so cool to be seeing this stuff in person and not a textbook.
     The next stop was the National Gallery.  We walked here from the BM and decided a Diet Coke stop was needed on the way.  I think I also may have been "head picked" on the way because my sunglasses went missing off my head.  We finally found our way to the National Gallery, but were distracted by the practically naked men protesting in Trafalgar Square.  I'm still not completely sure what their intention was, but it was very entertaining.  Basically they wanted to entertain the crowd by pushing their limits with the police and sarcastically saying they were harmful.  It's hard to explain, but it made for great laughs and funny photos.  At last we made it inside the NG which was incredible.  For Humanities 202, we were to compare and contrast the subject matter and aesthetics of a medieval painting and a Renaissance painting.  For Humanities 440, we were to go through a traveling exhibit called "Corot to Monet A Fresh Look at Landscape from the Collection".  This exhibit explored and showed the idea of "open air painting" and the effects it had on style and subject matter of European landscape painting.  There were so many beautiful paintings and it got me really excited for the class.
     After the National Gallery we headed back to the Center just in time for dinner.  Dinner was SO good.  I was thrilled because my favorite feta and pecan salad was on the menu as well as delicious chicken and veggies.  After dinner was a fireside type thing with this British guy who is 26 and so funny.  He pointed out some of the many differences between America and England.  Basically Americans are all about BIG, but British are about age and they always win when it comes to being old and doing it first.  He also joked about the cultural differences between the two such as the Brits like to be left alone, but Americans like to barge in.  He pointed out that over here it isn't polite to start a conversation by saying hello and stating your name because you are demanding them to talk back.  Instead, it is better to talk about the weather or a common topic, then should they choose to respond, names are exchanged at the end.  I liked this concept/"rule."
     After the fireside, a crew of us decided to go to Big Ben.  Going there and getting back was as much fun as being there.  We took pictures as if we would never be back.  Big Ben is so pretty and it was amazing to just be out and roaming the city.  I still can't believe this is my home for the next few months and that I am lucky enough to be here!

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