ACM London and Florence: Arts in Context 2017 Travelogue. Day 2 – 3 (Jan 29-30)
If London had a literal “text” it might be this:
These last few days we’ve been learning how to find our way around and use public transportation such as the Tube and bus. We were all given Oyster cards that allow us get around for free in heart of London. Our learning method so far for traversing the London Underground has been the buddy system!
The interesting thing about the London Underground is that people on it are so quiet, especially in the trains themselves. So when we travel as a group of US students we have to take care not to be too loud and draw attention to ourselves.
Notice the stand on the right sign. Both cars and people in London tend to walk on the right side of the road/street. This makes crossing roads a bit more dangerous since we are so used to looking to the right for turning cars.
But our first assignment really immersed us in the task of city transportation. We split up into pairs and explored a specific nearby London neighborhood (we live very near the center of London) on foot. My partner and I had Liverpool and we discovered an amazing mix of cultures around Brick Lane. South Asian restaurants and small businesses were all along this lane while tons of graffiti could be found on the walls of its side streets. Later we learned some more about the history of this region, such as how there was a major population of Bengladeshi immigrants here, and how it was becoming trendy for hipsters to move into historical areas. Apparently, unlike normal graffiti artists, the ones here signed their names here by their pieces. I need to get a better photo of Brick Lane, but here’s some graffiti:
At the end of our initiation into the neighborhoods and transportation systems of London, we were treated to a fine meal at a pub! I had some kind of a beef roast that was absolutely DELICIOUS. I especially liked the fluffy Yorkshire pudding that came with it!
Professor Kennedy, who is British himself, took us on our first walking tour! We looked at so many places just on our first tour, including the London Wall. This defensive perimeter around London in the days of old has Roman beginnings but has had many new layers added to it over the centuries. London used to be much smaller than it is today, so the actual London Wall today surrounds only a fraction of the center of London. From the looking at the window’s shape in the bottom photo, we can tell that we are looking from the inside out of the London of old because this design gives arches elbow room to aim at enemies as they stand on the inside.
The London Wall is only a small sample of our tour–there was so much more that we learned. Professor Kennedy has been incredible so far not only in teaching us about the regional histories of London, but also in answering our questions. We had a great discussion about globalization, modernization, and homogenization.
Sunny Zhao, Grinnell College Student