Since the wireless is now working in the flats, I can probably update more frequently now and start uploading photos.
Yesterday, after orientation and lunch (I bought some really good salmon sushi and green tea at one of the local grocery stores), we had our first class. Our professor seems interesting - a Philosophy major in college, then a part-time writer, actor, and teacher - but I can't say that I enjoy being back in the classroom setting. However, we have Fridays through Sundays off and only a third of our classes are actually in a classroom, so at least there's a good balance between group and independent time.
Here's my class schedule:Tuesday, 4 September
[today] - Imperial War Museum, 2 PMWednesday, 5 September
- Class in classroom, 9 AM - 12 PMThursday, 6 September
- Tour of The Globe, 9 AMMonday, 10 September
- Class in classroom, 2 - 5 PMTuesday, 11 September
- Tate Modern and National Portrait Museum, 2 PMWednesday, 12 September
- Tour of Parliament, 10:15 AMThursday, 13 September
- Class in classroom, 2 - 5 PMMonday, 17 September
- St Paul's, South Bank, and London Eye, 2 PMTuesday, 18 September
- British Museum, 2 - 5 PMWednesday, 19 September
- Tour of the East End, 10 AMThursday, 20 September
- Final exam in classroom and six-page paper due, 2 - 5 PM
Even though there are more students in the program, our class has a total of thirteen, all of which are going on to Swansea after the pre-sessional. Also, everyone is from the US, mostly from the borderline south or mid-west; I'm the furthest east there is and the furthest west is a student from Utah. The most represented state in our class is Iowa, but don't ask me why.
Still, Captain Kirk's birthplace!
After class, I went with two other students to the TSA Travel store at Imperial College since one of them wanted to go to France during a weekend and I wanted to tag along just to see what they offered. An hour an a half later, most of which was waiting time, we decided to walk back to our flats and then, after picking up a fourth student, walk down to Piccadilly Circus, which is near the center of London and a little bit like Times Square in New York City. Since most of the underground lines are currently closed until Friday
due to industrial action [a strike], we wanted to see how long it would take us to get to central London by foot for class purposes.
It was a really nice walk and took about an hour, though I didn't have my camera on me. Once we were there, we explored the theatre district a little and also walked through part of London's Chinatown. We had dinner at a pub, at which I naturally got carded even though I don't drink; fortunately, the barkeeper - who reminded me of someone from Vampire: The Masquerade - took my New York State ID for proof of my age. As it turned out, another student in our group also didn't drink and three of the four of us had water.
There was a special deal where you could order two of the same dish for only £9, which was very good considering each dish on its own was around £8. I ordered fish and chips with one of the students, and the other pair ordered sweet and sour chicken. The fish and chips were extremely good and came with peas and a small salad, though I know now why they say that food service is different here; it's slower, but you can spend as much time in the pub as you want and the staff won't bother you unless you ask them.
When the default leader of our excursion asked the barkeeper if the underground strikes were normal, she said that they happened about twice a month, though I hope she was exaggerating a little. Instead of wanting more money, the workers strike mainly for better working conditions, she said; the British government won't spend enough money on it to properly maintain the system. Having taken one of the three remaining lines partly back to our flats and seeing the garbage strewn across the tracks and the mice running around, I can't say I blame them, at least on initial impressions.
We had to take a bus for the last part of our journey back after the metro route prematurely ended; once back - around 10 PM - I promptly went to sleep. I was glad I went with a group, though; not only was it easier to find our way around like that, but I don't think I would have ventured into a pub by myself or stayed out so late after dark on my own.
I've been planning out what I want to do on our free days; there's a list of at least fifteen places I'd like to visit, though I don't know if I'll get to all of them. Right now, I think I'll spend one day at the Natural History Museum (local), one day at the Science Museum (local), one day at the Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory (Greenwich), one day at the Sherlock Holmes Museum, Leicester Square, and Trafalgar Square (central London), and one day at the Tower of London and All Hallows-by-the-Tower (central London). If I have time, I'd also like to visit the London Dungeon, the London Aquarium, and the Clink Prison Museum, as well as going back to Hyde Park (so far, I've only driven through it in a taxi) and Chinatown.
That's all for now; there's a walking tour leaving in an hour and I'll be bringing my camera this time.
Take care, everyone.