Is that the English Sun I see?
I successfully navigated my way to both the International Student's Center (I feel so fancy) and then all the way to Chelsea. I am a Tube master.And my study abroad adviser, Tom, was very impressed and he's an actual British person, so you know it must be true. Also, there is nothing in this world greater than an unlimited public transportation card. I never have to worry about topping up again. I can take the Tube to go just one station! It's been well worth the exorbitant price of admission.
Today is my first day of class. It started yesterday. Not my fault, I promise, communication with the University ain't exactly crystal. Hopefully it'll get better now that we're in the same timezone...but if Chelsea is anything like Parsons, my fingers aren't crossed.
There are only five people in this European Art History module that I'm taking before official classes start. They're taking us to Madrid on Sunday, I'm astonished that more people haven't signed up. But as it turns out, having a tiny class definitely has it's benefits. And all the ladies are super friendly.
"Does anyone talk funny?" Dad asks as we skype that night.
"They're all American. Most of them are from Chicago, so they only talk a little funny."
They actually don't, as no one was born in the WIndy city. After lecture (sigh, why must there be lectures, we should just tour all the time) we ate lunch together, which was a lovely surprise. I did a three week course at SVA, and everyone went like pinballs away from one another come lunchbreak, which I suppose I was expecting this time around. We all huddled around our cellphones; Chelsea has some damn good wifi, a luxury we don't have in the dorms, but were quickly bored after realizing everyone back home was still asleep and our newsfeeds hadn't updated since we saw them this morning over breakfast, and did a little getting-to-know each other instead.
Much to everyone's excitement, we took a double-decker bus to Trafalgar Square in the afternoon to see the National Gallery. Because we're all girls, or maybe because of our Professor's badass tendencies, our spin through art history has some very feminist leanings, which we really touched upon in Trafalgar Square. For those of you who don't know the story and many of you don't since our American education is seriously lacking in British Military history, Nelson's column in the center of the square and the four plinths surrounding it were built to commemorate the battle of Trafalgar. Three of the plinths have your typical old bronze military sculptures. Some equestrian, some not, maybe, I don't even remember them, and that's kind of the point I'm trying to make. For the fourth plinth, they ran out of money to make a sculpture. It was left empty forever, until some government entity decided to bring modern art to the space. Right now, Katharina Fritsch, a german artist, has decorated the plinth with her ultramarine or Lapis-Lazul (for the art history buffs in our midst, 15-foot tall Cockerel. Of her creation, Katharina says,
"I think the English have a great sense of humour. I know they like to play games with language. They like their double meanings. So I wanted to play around."
And play around she did. It's a giant blue rooster amid the male-dominated square. It stands just below Nelson's very phallic column, flipping it the bird. Pamela points all of this out and then gestures to the column, "I mean, it's so heavy with innuendo, like he's telling us exactly what's in his pants." Our professor, Pamela, winks and leans in. "Or what's not." The cockerel is a wonderful statement, and I love how blunt the Europeans are. Death to the puritan American society!
After Pamela let us go for the day, my new group of classmates stayed together. We tried wandering over to Westminster Abbey, but found it closed for the day. We stopped for tourist photos in the telephone booths, and wandered below the London Eye on Southbank, making plans to come back another day when we could grab a bottle of wine before touring the giant ferris wheel.
By the time we got back home (the Underground's spindly network makes for lots of transfers) we were exhausted from our romp downtown--you should see my pedometer app--shoutout to Samsung for the global unlock on my phone. I hardly ever crack five thousand steps in NYC, I'm easily over fifteen thousand every day I've been in London so far. We stopped in a catalog store to pick up some essentials, pots, pans and a good set of chef's knives for me (I am such a snob--but they were only £5!) And then made our way to Poundland (It's like a dollar store, get it?) for the rest of our housewares.
I went for Vietnamese with some of the girls. We wanted pizza, but the pizza joints on Hoxton didn't serve wine and weren't bring your own. We had great big bowls of noodles and chicken and a heap of cilantro--seriously, maybe it's just Pub food that's terrible? And lovely dinner entertainment at the hands of Chole, our six year old host and master hand puppeteer.
And after a quick stop at an Off Licence on the way home, we spent some time in the common room soaking in the wifi, open bottles of wine and Stella and all! (England is awesome) before getting annoyed by the Freshers screaming and chugging while playing Kings Cup--a game we hid on Anissa's bed to play in New York...and retiring to kick back in the common room/kitchen in my flat, lamenting at how old we felt for wanting some damn peace and quiet. And the rest of our night is protected by the boundaries of a nice chilled bottle of white and a very difficult to open bottle of Stella Artois.
I need to get my hands on a bottle opener.