“Gaining experience” in London

Sunday, we walked around Tavistock Square near our hotel. Surrounded by pigeons and squirrels (pleased to know that Luther isn’t the only place suffering from overly friendly squirrels), we contemplated the monuments and memorials to women who made important advancements in women’s rights; Virginia Woolf used her fiction to uplift the stories of domestic lives while women such as Louisa Brandreth Aldrich-Blake advocated for women’s right to pursue higher education. Our focus on feminist leaders of the eighteenth and nineteenth century continued into the afternoon when we visited the grave of Mary Wollstonecraft, the writer of “The Vindication of the Rights of Woman.” Wollstonecraft, like Woolf, was deeply troubled during her life and had multiple suicide attempts before ultimately dying from childbirth. For this reason, visiting her grave was an especially somber experience.

In the British Library, we had the opportunity to see first edition copies and manuscripts of a wide range of English literature. Izzi Lockheimer Toso says her favorite part was “seeing the original Shakespeare folio because it’s written in an earlier form English.” In the evening, we stumbled upon a book barge parked in the canal. A floating used book shop presented an opportunity that many of us simply couldn’t pass up. Leah Schmickley, the proud winner, has accumulated eleven books on the trip thus far!!

Monday, our final day in London, was a free day. People chose a wide variety of activities. A group of us visited Buckingham Palace when, little did we know, a family summit was occurring to draft the first statement in response to Harry and Meghan’s unprecedented decision to step back from their roles as royals. Some people went to plays at Shakespeare’s Globe, or climbed the dome of St. Paul’s, while one pair devised their own “Harry Potter tour” around London. Our free time in London permitted us to do exactly as Mary Wollstonecraft herself advised--gain experience!! More to come in Geneva, Switzerland.

A couple London favorites:

- Tower Bridge - Natalia Cadena

- National Portrait Gallery - Annalise Goodell

- British Museum - Nick Lembezeder

- John Keats house - Lane Buchner

The group in front of Wollstonecraft’s grave
Carter, Annika, and Elena at the Tower of London .
Katie, Elena, and Leah at Buckingham Palace.