The Week of Libraries and Embassies

Day 73

Well, it was bound to happen. One day I’d eventually do a few productive things. That’s right you heard me correctly. I’ve somehow managed to become productive over the last couple of days. I’ve been spending several days at the library working on a paper and I even attempted to fulfill some civic duties abroad. Now, this is even more impressive considering this week was the start of March Madness (Go Heels!). But in between all the productivity, I did manage to see some Shakespeare and binge some Netflix.

SATURDAY, LONDON My St. Patrick’s Day was quieter than most. I spent most of the day watching a documentary on Netflix (Wild, Wild Country, 10/10). Yet my flatmates convinced me to go out with them for the first time. So, we ventured out into the snow to witness a bunch of Irishmen in their natural habitat, the Irish pub. It was truly a great cultural experience, one I’m not likely to forget.

FRIDAY, US EMBASSY I had one simple goal today. To mail my absentee voter registration form in. Four hours, 16 miles, and 20 pounds later, I finally accomplished my goal. It should have been a wee bit simpler I admit. First, I tried to print out the form using the printers in the dorm. After they didn’t perform their simple task, I jumped to the next logical conclusion. The place that will obviously have a hard copy of the form would be the US embassy. So, I jumped on the train and headed out to West London and the new US embassy. When I got to the guardhouse, I found the door locked. A guy popped his head out and asked to see my ID and asked what I was doing there. I handed over my passport and told him the purpose of my visit and he disappeared inside. Those twenty minutes I waited out in the cold was unnerving, to say the least, due to the fact I had just handed over the most important document I currently possess.

Thankfully, the guard came back out and I headed through the security checkpoint. Well, turns out that laptops are considered a very threatening item and are not allowed into an embassy. I was forced to walk a block and pay ten pounds to store my backpack at a café. The second time through I cleared security and then headed up to the Embassy proper. I’ll freely admit I got turned around once or twice inside. When I finally got to the window, I managed to get the form in like two minutes. They offered to mail it for free from the embassy. However, that would have taken almost a month to get to the Johnston County Board of Elections because they send everything through diplomatic pouches that are sent to DC to be sorted and processed.

So, began the second part of my journey. I went back into central London, filled out the form, and headed to the post office. First off, post offices are the same no matter what country you’re in. The lines are long and the staff did not look like they wanted to be there. I finally got to the counter and the guy gave me enough stamps to mail the form and a couple for some postcards I’ve picked up. After four long, long hours, it was finally done. I took a nap right after.

THURSDAY, BRIDGE THEATER In honor of the Ides of March, I went to see a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. It was fantastic and very uniquely done. I got one of the cheaper standing tickets and therefore was a member of the “mob”. The mob surrounded the actors as they performed in the round and the stage was serious of hydraulic blocks in the floor making sure the setting for each scene was different and dynamic. The cast was impressive, to say the least. Two names include Ben Whishaw, who you might know as Q in the recent James Bond films and Michelle Fairley who played Catelyn Stark in Game of Thrones.

The play kept the original Shakespearian dialogue but updated everything else to the modern-day. For example, instead of being stabbed, Caesar was shot (sorry I know spoilers right). We in the crowd were given posters and flags during some scenes, were forced to duck down during others, pelted with the debris during the battle, and shoved around by security forces as Caesar marched in, red Caesar trucker hat and all. It was a fantastic experience and I don’t know if I’ll ever see another production that’ll top it. I do think I might try to make this a little tradition to see a production of the play on this day every year I can. It is after all, in my opinion, one of the Bard’s greatest.

WEDNESDAY, MAUGHAN LIBRARY Finally got my exam schedule from the university today. I am not a happy boy. I have two exams in the last week of a month-long exam period after a month-long break in April. And just to add a little insult, my last exam is on the very last day. The good news is I now know for sure that I will be coming back home on June 2nd. Thankfully I heard the weather in town is really nice in May and I can spend my days lounging in the parks waiting to take my exams.

 TUESDAY, LONDON Met up with a couple of people from the MJ-school who came to London for a class this evening. I have no idea why they were actually here but it was nice to see a few Tarheels. I briefly caught up with Michael Penny, who is the MJ-School’s global program director. I told him about the unique experience of not having classes for half of the term which made him slightly concerned, to say the least. Here’s hoping someone will give me credits for this semester. 

SUNDAY, MAUGHAN LIBRARY Well I got up today and figured I might as well try and be a wee bit productive for once. So, I grabbed my backpack and headed out to the library. I started out in the medical library at Guy’s campus where I finally figured out the topic of one of the papers I need to write before the end of the month. Then I realized for this paper I was going to have to do something I’ve never done before. I was going to have to check out a book from a university library.

After gathering three titles I wanted to look over, I set out across the city to Maughan where the humanities books are housed. When I got there, I realized just how confusing the floor plan and the numbering system was. I took me over an hour of searching to finally find what I was looking for. But man let me tell you, it was a proud moment when I found them all and managed to check them out without setting off some kind of alarm. Having checked out the books, I decided that was enough labor for one day and packed up and headed home.

Here’s hoping I keep up some of the productivity. I have a couple of days left before my paper is due, maybe this time it’ll be finished before the night of the deadline, but we’ll see. As I reach the midpoint of my time abroad I’m looking forward to traveling to Berlin next weekend (I might be a little late on next week’s update because of a late Sunday flight) and finally turning in assignments. Well, I need to cook some dinner, so I’ll see you next Sunday.

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