J-Term Part III: London

From Copenhagen, we flew into London. At this point in the trip, people were feeling pretty ready to get to our final stop; this was the location the majority of the group was interested in visiting, and a lot of people ended up getting sick in Denmark, leaving them confined to our hotel rooms that made Ylvi look like a penthouse.

If I'm being totally honest, I was originally disappointed that we would be in London for an entire nine days - it seemed like an incredibly long time for one city, especially one that I figured would be "not that exciting" (because they speak English? I don't even know). It ended up being my favorite location of the entire trip!

Our hotel was the cutest thing in the entire world. Located right on Russel Square, we were within walking distance of a lot of really great places (or, a half block away from the tube). The physical hotel reminded me a lot of Harry Potter's house on Privot Drive (you know I'll go there), and we had a full English breakfast every morning, complete with eggs, toast, potatoes, baked beans, fruit, porrige, hot chocolate, and coffee -- I quickly made up for whatever calories I didn't consume while being stingy in Scandinavia.

Academically speaking, some of our coolest opportunities for learning (in my opinion) happened on this trip. We met with lawyers at a swanky building near St. Paul's cathedral to talk about Shari'a banking (it's like a bank lending loans except it's not, because it's against Shari'a law to pay interest... personally, I think it's all a matter of semantics, but then again, I don't really know what I'm talking about), sit in on Friday prayers at a mosque, take walking tours through two different Muslim neighborhoods, visit London police to talk about their "Prevent" anti-terrorism policy, and we had some of our most interesting speakers (I particularly enjoyed Myriam Francois-Cerrah and Navid Akhtar). We also attended the show East is East, which is about a Muslim immigrant family in England, which was incredibly interesting to see in light of what we are studying.

Because we were in London for so long, we also had a ton of free time. One day was set aside as a "memorable experience day" where we were each supposed to go out and do something fairly non-touristy and then come back and report to the group what they did. I took off by myself that morning, walking to St. Paul's cathedral and across the Millennium Bridge to visit the Tate Modern museum, which was amazing! After three hours of wandering, I walked around the Borough Market (a foodie market) where I ate and ate and ate. I then walked back to Shakespeare's Globe to go on a tour of the theatre, and then finished out my day by seeing the London Bridge and then meeting up with the group. Other days I did more touristy things (saw Big Ben, the Eye, Buckingham Palace), visited a bazillion more museums (where I headed straight to the Impressionism sections), found Platform 9 3/4 around midnight, post-three ciders (one of the happiest moments of my life), met up with one of my brother's friends, and saw the show The 39 Steps.

Somehow, I managed to finish my journal two days early, so I only had a four-page paper to finish over break before returning to campus. Between catching up on sleep, getting things for the semester (subsequently draining my checking account for books), writing my paper, and making sure I finished all of Gilmore Girls on Netflix, the break flew by!

J-term, I love you.

Platform 9 3/4: Ravenclaw for life

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