A Year in London 2016/17

Guy Cheatham

Exploring New Places with Family and Friends

Michaelmas term ended back in the beginning of December and the students at LSE were relieved that they could spend the coming weeks relaxing while rejuvenating their minds to take on another intense term. Some took trains back to their hometowns throughout the UK, some flew back to other areas of the world to be with their families, while others decided to either stay in London and relax or travel. Understanding that there was a whole continent to explore, a friend and I decided to embark on a fast-paced journey, covering five countries in a span of twelve days, ranging from adventures in the frigid Icelandic tundra to sunny Venice. Following the trip my family and I decided to approach Christmas differently this year by exploring what the great city of London has to offer while enjoying each other’s company for the first time in months.

When my friend Sanjay and I planned this cross-continental trip, we focused on selecting places which we never thought we would go to in our lifetime. We wanted to diversify this trip, making each location as different from the previous as possible. A goal was to see completely contrasting cultures and landscapes, and based on the locations we selected, I believe we achieved said goal. On December 10th, we were on a plane to Reykjavik, Iceland, a city of 200,000 people, constituting approximately two-thirds of the entire Icelandic population. Iceland has seen a significant boom in tourism in the past decade (there are more tourists on the island at a given time than inhabitants), and considering the adventures on which visitors can embark, there is no need to question why. The country has a beautiful landscape, ranging from snowy glaciers to green pastures which appear to come right out of Game of Thrones. The horses there are indigenous only to Iceland, and we were able to see them run in unison along the countryside on the way to go snowmobiling in Lanjökull, the second largest glacier in Iceland. The conditions were rough that day, as there was a severe blizzard, yet we thought of it as a part of the adventure, making it feel like we were truly in the tundra. When combining this experience with witnessing the Aurora Borealis, Iceland was truly an unforgettable experience, one of which I would recommend to anyone who hungers for adventure in the Arctic.

Snowmobiling in Lanjökull

Snowmobiling in Lanjökull

Following our adventure in Iceland, we made short stops in Amsterdam and Venice, touring the Dutch city’s illustrious Heineken Brewery and meeting our friend Allison in the Italian port city, where we embarked on a gondola ride and toured around San Marco. Our next destination was in Slovenia to meet our friend Matic, who is a Masters student at LSE. We spent the first day hiking at gorgeous Lake Bled, followed by a nighttime trip to a Christmas market in the capital city of Ljubljana, which was filled with delicious food and drinks in addition to lively music. The final destination of the trip was in Budapest, a city filled with ruin bars (abandoned warehouses/homes which were turned into bars), Christmas markets, art galleries and museums, and the infamous Buda palace. It is difficult to pick a favorite destination among the ones visited since each is quite different from the other, yet each place was fantastic in its own way.

Overlooking the canals in Venice.

Overlooking the canals in Venice

 

This trip did not mean the end of my winter break adventures, as my family arrived in London 36 hours after I returned. We were ecstatic to see each other, as it had been months since the entire family had been together, and I was incredibly excited to show them a city which has become another home for me. We spent the week touring the city, visiting art galleries, pubs, and common iconic locations like 10 Downing St. and Trafalgar Square, making that week an unforgettable adventure. Between my cross-continental trip and adventures throughout London with my family, winter break was an experience which I will remember forever. Now that term has started back up, I am back to focusing on my studies and overall making the most out of the LSE experience. I hope everyone’s New Year has been off to a fantastic start! Cheers.

A Year in London 2016/17

Adrian Guerra

On November 22, the British Parliament honored John Hampden for his patriotic acts during the British civil war. Miles Buchinghamshire, the earl of Buchinghamshire and descendant of John Hampden, invited Guy and me to the ceremony and to lay a wreath in front of the statue of John Hampden.

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Honoring John Hampden

I woke up really early, since we had to be there by 8:30, and the commute was roughly about an hour. When we got there we couldn’t help but to admire the stunning scenic view that was in front of us. Parliament was a sight to behold and looked massive in size. We got a special tour of Parliament from the earl, Dominic Grieve (Conservative and former Attorney General), and Ruth Cadbury (The Labour Party’s spokesperson on Housing).

We learned a lot about the British government and about John Hampden’s role in the civil war. Did you know the Queen cannot go into most of the rooms in Parliament? She mostly stays in the House of Lords. I don’t think she has much to complain about though, because she has a fairly impressive golden chair in there. In addition to the House of Lords we went to the House of Commons, and that is as small as it looks on the television.  We found out they are planning on moving the House of Commons to a bigger venue to accommodate more people. We were not allowed to explore more of parliament on such short notice, but the trip was well worth it anyway. The architecture was beyond beautiful and the history that this building has was awe-striking.  The connections we made were incredible and the experience definitely once in a lifetime. It has almost been a full semester and I am beginning to feel completely immersed in the British culture.

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Westminster….a view from across the Thames in the morning.

A Year in London 2016/17

Remembering and Commemorating John Hampden

Guy Cheatham

I have taken the tube several times to Westminster. I have walked down the Southbank numerous times over to this area. The bridge is swarmed by workers, students, tourists, and double-decker buses, as individuals look over the bridge to see the magnificence that is the historic House of Parliament. I look at the British government’s legislative headquarters and wonder what goes on inside, considering the intense political climate resulting from Theresa May’s push to trigger Article 50 and have Britain say farewell to its membership of the European Union. Luckily I was given the opportunity to find out.

Three-hundred and seventy-five years ago England was engaged in a bloody civil war, as Charles I’s power and legitimacy as king hung in the balance. Charles contested with Parliament early on in his reign, since he believed that the legislative body sought to curb his royal prerogative, and as a firm believer in the divine right of kings, he was confident in being able to govern under his own judgment. His policies were strongly disapproved by many of his subjects, considering said policies to be characteristic of a tyrannical absolute monarch. Disapproval came from the House of Parliament, among the leaders in the challenge to Charles’ rule being John Hampden. This disapproval stemming from the King’s subjects and Parliament resulted in the English Civil War, ending in the execution of the tyrannical king and the rise of Oliver Cromwell. Three-hundred and seventy-five years after this bloody conflict in which Hampden was lionized for, I was given the opportunity to take part in a ceremony commemorating his efforts to defeat a tyrannical monarch.

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John Hampden (1594-1643)

Adrian and I walk into the House of Parliament on a cold Tuesday morning in Westminster. We were accompanied by the Earl of Buckinghamshire (descendant of Hampden), some of his colleagues, and two MPs (Parliament members). We make our way into Westminster Hall, one of the most historic rooms in the House of Parliament, as we were walking through the very room that Charles I was sitting in over three centuries earlier before the High Court of Justice, being sentenced to death for making war on Parliament and the people of England. Following the tour of Westminster Hall, came the wreath laying ceremony for John Hampden. Adrian and I were asked to lay the wreath before his statue in St. Stephen’s Hall, marking the commemoration of the stance Hampden took against tyrannical rule for the people of England. Following the ceremony, we were given the privilege to walk through the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The House of Commons is certainly much smaller and a more intimate setting than I expected, making it difficult to visualize how hundreds of MPs can fit into this small chamber. The House of Lords is a fascinating chamber as well, especially The Queen’s chair, covered in pure gold. Overall the experience in the House is an experience I will never forget. It is an intense political environment rich in history, and I am glad that I was able to be a part of its magnificence.

Wreath laying ceremony at the stuew of John Hampden

Adrian and myself at the Statue of John Hampden.

Many thanks to Dr. Widdows and the Earl of Buckinghamshire for setting up this opportunity for Adrian and myself.

A Year in London 2016/17

Guy Cheatham

Taking Time to Smell the Roses

I was going to my noon class for Public Policy Analysis this morning, taking my typical route to campus. I exit Bankside and make my way north to the river, cross the Blackfriars Bridge, and continue my commute alongside the murky Thames until I reach the Temple underground. I make my way across a roundabout to Aldwych St. to the LSE Garrick coffee shop, order a coffee, and begin to study game theory. This morning seems like a typical city commute; I was focused on getting to my destination and knew that like a typical day at LSE, I had a full plate for my day, and while I could talk about the rest of the day and my notable experiences in London thus far, I would like to focus on the observations I make on my commute and their significance.

An early evening view of the Thames

An early evening view of the Thames

Let us begin with the beginning of this walk. I walk outside my complex in the morning to be greeted with arguably the most illustrious modern art gallery in the world, being the Tate Modern. Though the gallery is not much to look at from the outside, the inside of the gallery contains a large collection of the finest pieces of modern expressionist art. The next part of the walk is when I get to the River Thames, where I am greeted by one of Sir Christopher Wren’s finest contributions to the city, being St. Paul’s Cathedral, an iconic landmark from the great rebuilding of the city following the Great Fire in the 17th century. I have walked a quarter mile at this point and have seen two world renowned landmarks. Following the walk on Blackfriars, I continue to commute alongside the river and can see the London Eye, Big Ben, The House of Parliament, The Financial District, and several other iconic parts of the city. When I go on this daily commute, I think of how my former college golf coach told me about how in this fast paced phenomenon we call life it is important to take time and smell the roses. I always go to campus early so that I can take my time and be able to enjoy city and its complex yet magnificent history around me.

Four centuries of architecture

Four centuries of architecture covered in one landscape.

The commute is not the only point of discussion worth including. When one moves to a new city, it is common for him/her (well at least me) to constantly make new observations about the new environment. London is a fast city, yet I can enjoy the luxury of walking at my own pace without getting trampled by a crowd of frantic folks. London style is certainly different from that of American style in terms of dress. People here enjoy wearing darker and nice clothing and typically pair their clothing with an upscale pair of tennis shoes, and considering the fact that I walk an average of six to seven miles per day, it is easy to take part in the Nike bandwagon.

An aerial view of the Roman Baths in

An aerial view of the Roman Baths in Bath, a place illustrious for it’s healing waters in Roman Britain.

 

The first few weeks have been quite eye opening and have been an absolute enjoyment. It is an environment that is politically active and consists of individuals from across the globe. The city has also emerged from its gastro-pub era (even though there are some still around) to a city with excellent food from across the globe (especially Indian and Asian cuisine). These points in which I have discussed have been just a small portion of my experiences so far, but with each day in London I learn something new, and this sort of experience continues to show the importance of becoming culturally educated in addition to understanding environments in other areas of the world. The commitment to being away from home for a year is certainly a gamble, especially in a place in which I have never visited before, yet I am more confident each day that this gamble will reward me in the end.

A Year in London 2016/17

Adrian Guerra

The commute here is vastly different from that of H-SC. The walk to campus is a good fifteen to twenty minutes away depending on how fast you’re willing to walk. The sights on the way over are breathtaking.

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Cathedral in Bath

I pass by the river every day which is really fun, since there are always street performers and something exciting happening every day. The smell, when crossing the river, is that of caramelized nuts which is amazing and always tempts me to break my diet.

I really lucked out with the living arrangement here at Bankside, the room is about the size of a Whitehouse room, but all to myself. I have my own restroom/shower and a fridge, which is all a college student can ask for. I was very meticulous when I packed, I believe I brought all the essentials. My freshmen year at H-SC I over packed and regretted it so I didn’t want to make the same mistake here. I brought plenty of warm clothing and more formal attires since LSE holds several elegant events. People’s attire here really seems to vary, while some dress very elegantly others just go out in t-shirt and jeans. Luckily, coming from H-SC where everyone seems to always dress appropriately, it hasn’t been too much of a hassle coming here since I’ve been dressing as I would at H-SC and fit in just right.

Getting acclimated to the 6 hour difference was actually not as bad as one would think, surprisingly I sleep better here in London than I did in Virginia. I did find their use of military time odd and a bit of a nuisance.

My food experience has been relatively the same as it was back in the states; however, the best meal I have gotten here has been some eggs benedict at this nice local pub near my dorm. London has been amazing and is always very alive, there is always something going on and you don’t need to walk far to find it. The food is kind of expensive around here, so trying to find the places where food is cheap has been tough.

Classes are now starting to get tougher and it really requires strong study habits to succeed here, but luckily H-SC has already forced me to better my study habits so the work load is about the same.

A Year in London 2016/17

Adrian Guerra

Hello, my name is Adrian Guerra and I am studying abroad in London. I am enrolled in the London School of Economics General course and will be taking several economics courses as well as a philosophy and government course. Being in London has already presented an abundance of opportunities like joining clubs, getting to know the very vast and diverse city, and of course studying at the best economics school in the world. I look forward to exploring this amazing city and going to one of the many theatrical performances that can be found here.

I am really nervous about the grading system in London. The way classes work over here is one test at the end of the year determines your final grade, which of course is very different from the grading system in place at H-SC. Additionally, for each class we have a lecture and a separate class. The lecture is composed of over 100 students, my Macro class is actually composed of 500+ students which is insane compared to what I’m used to at H-SC. The separate classes do tend to feel more like home, since each class will not exceed 20 students. My biggest worry for the moment is getting used to this and staying on top of my studies, with no weekly work having to be done.

I hope to be available to fully explore London as well as to travel to other amazing countries around me. I also hope to become more cultured during this trip, I’ve already met some wonderful people from all over the globe. Another thing that I have to get used to in Europe is the food, portions served here are minuscule compared to what I am used to in the United States. Adapting to the new sizes of meals has certainly been a tad bit difficult, but not impossible.

I would highly recommend this trip to anyone, the school is amazing and the city is breathtaking.

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London Bridge

 

A Year in London 2016/17

Guy Cheatham
A Gamble

I have doubts. We all have doubts. This tendency is what makes us humans truly human, and I understand that if I did not have doubts regarding my commitment to spend a year in a foreign country, I would not be properly assessing the risks of said commitment and would be going in with a blind eye. These doubts are different however because I am excited for the same things in which I am nervous for, and the main thing in which I express both excitement and doubt about is the uncertainty in this gamble.

View of the Thames from the Southbank

View of the Thames from the Southbank

 

The weather was rather gloomy when I landed in London, Friday morning, which is rather characteristic about the city. Despite the weather, I always had an admiration for the city. My mother spent part of her childhood in Surry, a town in which is twenty miles south of the city. I also knew that when it came to studying abroad that the full year experience was something that was a rarity. When walking down the streets of London towards 10 Downing St. and stopping in a pub, a friend I made who is in my program made an observation that resonated with me, saying that in this case we are not simply studying abroad, but we are living abroad. I realized that this is what the full year experience entails. These nine months in this city will demand for me to become apart of its vibrance, and with each day in the city I can honestly say it is starting to feel like a new home for me.

Stumbling upon St. Paul's Cathedral on the way to campus.

Stumbling upon St. Paul’s Cathedral on the way to campus.

In the past week I have met more individuals from across the globe than I have in the first twenty-one years of my life. For the first time, I as an American am the minority, and as others ask questions in regard to the American way of life, I make sure to stay conscious about the fact that I am here to learn about others from across the globe. With this notion I am constantly asking questions and through so am finding common ground, and developing that common ground is a stepping stone to forming strong relationships. Based off my experience here the strongest relationships can develop with others of whom are very different, yet share that one commonality in which ignites conversation, and then the conversation will proceed with learning about each other.

 

Forms of modern expressionism used to display the mood of British wartime society. At the Tate Modern

Forms of modern expressionism used to display the mood of British wartime society.
At the Tate Modern

I would be in denial if I did not acknowledge the fact that there is a culture shock, but in truth it could be worse because this is the most multicultural city on the planet. This widespread multiculturalism prevents one culture from dominating the city, and because of this balance I feel that many individuals are in the same position as me. London is a very welcoming place, yet staying aware and vigilant is key. I am excited to see how this experience will affect my development as an individual. I am beyond grateful to participate in this experience and am head over heels excited for what this experience will bring me.