Franz Gilbert: Post 2

Franz Gilbert
London School of Economics
London, England
Fall 2021

A Pandemic Beginning:
Since being in London, I have been able to only experience life as a student in self-isolation. On my first day of classes, I was greeted with an unwelcomed email informing me that I need to isolate due to someone on my floor contracting a breakout case of the virus. Before my isolation, I was able to explore the city and see some marvelous sites and I look forward to continuing my sightseeing adventures. There are several Americans in the program, so it has been fun to talk with them and hear their perspectives on studying in the UK. We have all branched out and are trying to integrate with the freshers (freshmen), which given all of our first years of college were interrupted with COVID, we are all thoroughly enjoying it. I get released this next week, and I am looking forward to getting to explore this amazing city and LSE even more.
Dorm Life:

I have included a picture of my dorm desk. Atypical to my freshman year at H-SC, you will notice lots of cleaning supplies, protective gear, and stacks of COVID tests. I have to test every few days in order to go on campus. The NHS provides for free tests for British citizens. Each test has a QR code and unique tracking number, and after taking it, you report the results to the NHS. I wish we would have had these tests in America, it seems like it could have saved many lives.

The Course Load:

I have made the most of my isolation by trying to get organized and staying on top of schoolwork. As the British form of higher education does not believe in the approach of many small assignments for most of their classes (quizzes, essays, etc.), and instead assigns a tremendous number of readings. I will have one or two really big assignments (Paper or Exam) per class, but the group discussions require extensive reading and preparation. While it is a lot of reading (minimum 200+ pages a day), the readings are very thought provoking.
My Commute:

My walk across the Millennium Bridge to LSE
Prior to the self-isolation, I did get a chance to walk the commute and it is an amazing 26-minute walk. I go from the dorm, right past the Tate Museum of Modern Art, I cross the Thames via the Millennium Bridge – which has amazing views, I take a left at St. Paul’s Cathedral, and walk through the original “downtown” of London.

Some of the interesting places I walk by are:

Ye Olde London – it is a pub that was built in 1749 that Benjamin Franklin used to go to, but originally, this was the first coffee house in all of London!

The Temple Church – Behind this amazing building is the Temple Church. This is the one made famous in the Da Vinci Code. The real history is even cooler. It was built by the Knights Templar in 1167 and William Marshall is buried there. William Marshall was known as being the best knight to King John, and later was regent to King Henry III. William Marshall was the protector of the Magna Carta, and even convinced King John that he needed to sign it. In the British Legal System, they do not have the “American Bar Association,” but instead have four “Inns of the Court” and a Barrister has to be accepted by one of the Inns. The names of the Inns are Gray’s Inn, Chancery Inn, Inner Temple, and Middle Temple. The latter two took their names from the Temple Church, which became the origination of the Western Legal System.

The Royal Courts of Justice – On the right-hand side of the street, I get to walk past the Royal Courts of Justice, which was built in 1882. The building houses the High Court, and the Court of Appeal for England and Wales. The High Court is similar to the Federal District Courts, and if someone loses in High Court, they can go to the Court of Appeal.

St. Clements Dane Church – This location has been the site of a church since the ninth century. There is a connection to the Danish – as the Danes had a village in the 900’s that was north of London, and the thought is that this church was the dividing line. The church was rebuilt several times (once by Sir Christopher Wren). It was bombed in WWII and restored in 1958. The church is now dedicated to the Royal Air Force.

The London School of Economics – You can see the gate that I turn into in order to get to LSE. Needless to say – what an amazing commute through history every day.

The Old Curiosity Shop – I want to close this blog with one other amazing building that is on the LSE campus – which is their merchandise store! LSE owns the “Old Curiosity Shop,” which is the oldest shop in all of London, and founded in 1567! As you can see, it was also immortalized by Charles Dickens.

I don’t think I could have imagined a more inspiring commute – where there is always something to spark a thought. Whether it is being on Fleet Street, the home of Journalism, or walking past the origins of the Western Legal System, or seeing the resolve of the British to rebuild after WWII – there is always something to help me appreciate the opportunity to be studying at LSE.

Until next time!