It’s been sunny here for three days in a row. That alone has made this week truly wonderful. It was also the last week of class before Reading week which made it even better. Also, it was a week full of holidays and I made sure to celebrate to the fullest. I’m glad I had fun this week before having to hunker down in the coming days to work on several papers for class.
SATURDAY, SOUTH LONDON Today was a remarkable day for one reason. After almost a month and a half, I felt the warmth of the sun. I don’t think you realize how magical it is to feel warm in sunlight after so long. I also went to my first professional “football” game. I signed up with International Student’s House and our group headed out to a small local club in South London. It was the perfect environment. Just big enough to have an atmosphere, but small enough to still have a good time. Although I found watching the sport not the greatest, it was worth it just to soak up the culture and enjoy a bright, blue, sunny day in London.
FRIDAY, WATERLOO Today was yet another holiday. Today marked the Chinese New Year. It’s a slightly bigger deal here than it is back home. Although I was tempted to head over to Chinatown and get some good food, I decided that would probably end poorly. Well, I was still craving some good, cheap, Chinese food. So, I set out on a journey to find some. My travels took me all the way to Waterloo to a tiny little hole in the wall place. You know its probably pretty good when it’s takeout only and there’s a line. It didn’t disappoint.
THURSDAY, LONDON This morning I woke to heartbreaking news out of Florida. It was an almost expected tragedy involving a white guy, a gun, and kids. But what made this one hurt more than usual was that I was reminded by many, many others throughout the day of the very American nature of the massacre. French, British, Australian, Italian and people of several other nationalities all had the same comment for me, “Only in America.”
Now you probably know I’m proud of my country and even like to style myself as an optimist. The American experiment has always been one filled with hopes, dreams, and the people who can make them a reality. Since the writing of the constitution, we’ve worked to form a more perfect union together. We don’t always get it right–often we get it very wrong–but infused with optimism and can-do spirit, we’ve made our union a better place and made me proud to call myself an American.
Yet, today I couldn’t shake the feeling of shame in my home. Usually, I don’t care if anyone knows where I’m from. In fact, I usually make it very clear I’m American and encourage people to come and stay awhile in the States if they have the chance. At this point, I think I’d make a half-decent ambassador one day. But today I wish no one knew. Because I know what will happen back home next.
And that’s another deeply shameful American tragedy in of itself.
For a nation that landed a man on the moon, touched the depths of the heavens, defeated Fascism, built the world’s most powerful fighting force, invented countless wonders, created the world’s largest economy, and became a leader of nations all before it’s 242nd year, we shouldn’t be scared to sit in a theater, or a classroom, or a concert hall. No one here is scared of getting shot in any of those places and it makes me sad that when I come home I’ll have to get used to that nagging fear again. But who knows, maybe something will snap and change will happen. My optimistic self would like to think so. But, I’m not counting on it.
WEDNESDAY, STRATFORD I got my first ever tax return today. So, it was a pretty good time.
TUESDAY, ELEPHANT AND CASTLE Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, whatever you call it, I love it. To celebrate this glorious day of partying, a lot of the study abroad kids decided to head to the Ministry of Sound, a club south of the river. We were some of the first people to roll up to the club and so had the place to ourselves for a solid five minutes. But, the greatest thing about this club was the fact they had free pancakes. Yes, you heard me right, FREE pancakes. Turns out the main way people in Britain celebrate Mardi Gras is with pancake eating. So, I danced the night away, Nutella pancake in hand. It was a truly wonderful night.
MONDAY, MAUGHAN LIBRARY Today started off with the great news that my evening class had been canceled. It’s the first time class has been canceled for me all year and it was great. I used the extra time to head over to the main library for King’s and try to get some work done.
First off, Maughan Library is housed in what I can only describe as a castle-like building. It was like stepping into the world of Harry Potter for a little while. The layout of the building is just as confusing as you would expect for a building that old. After getting lost and turned around plenty of times, I finally found a nice little nook to work in. I finished up a few applications and even started the process for an absentee ballot for the May primaries (I haven’t missed an election yet and I’m not about to start).
Then came the printer. Now at Carolina, printing is straight forward and simple. Push a button, walk over to the printer, type in your password, and there’s your paper. Yeah, that’s not how it works here. I had to download software, manually set it up, type in 3 different user names, and after all that I still couldn’t get anything to print. Needless to say, I promptly gave up and headed home.
I’m really enjoying myself now if you haven’t picked that up. I honestly think this is turning into the longest, most expensive vacation I’ll ever take. While I do have some work to do next week and will be spending a good chunk of time back in the library, I’m looking forward to it. I have some study breaks planned to break up the monotony of writing, like seeing Les Misérables this coming week. Well, I need to make a late breakfast now, I’ll see you next Sunday.