Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

The First Full Day

August 21, 2009 · No Comments


Well…let us know what you thought. You have already travelled broadly across the city from your tube exercise yesterday to Greenwich today. What were your impressions of London before you arrived and have they changed or been challenged in the last 30 hours? I want to see you blogging at least every other day. Keep a notebook with you at all times to jot down ideas that you can make into a thoughtful post when you get back to your computer.

Categories: Professor Qualls
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0 responses so far ↓

  •   allisonmschell5 // Aug 21st 2009 at 15:37

    Well, I must start off this blog post by saying that my impression of London as being drab and rainy was shattered today by such a lovely day! The ride on the Thames River was absolutely incredible, from the beautiful weather to the interesting architecture (both old and new) along the riverbank. Despite being surrounded by all this beauty, I felt ashamed that I knew very few of the buildings that I was taking pictures of. I decided to make it my goal to eventually learn most of the major buildings on the Thames River that I had seen and taken pictures of.

    During the past 30 hours, I have found myself on multiple occasions comparing London to NYC on many different levels. I found out that I view all major cities through a NYC eye and that all major cities are different and have many redeeming (and sometimes bad) qualities about them. So far, I have found London to be cleaner (for a city) and easier to navigate. One part of the city that is confusing is the street names. I was talking with someone about this and we had both found the streets labeled by numbers in NYC to be a bit easier to navigate. I also find that the streets are less crowded (in the places we have been) and there is less of people jumping randomly out into traffic, unlike New Yorkers.

    Overall, I am really trying to enjoy every part of the city, from the touristy to the everyday. Today instead of visiting more museums when the group split up, a few friends and I decided to wander through the markets, speak to a few of the vendors, especially an Indian woman who was doing Henna tattoos. She spent the time telling us about the medicinal and practical uses for Henna, besides just the beautiful artwork it can make. They are using as a calming and soothing balm and even to dye hair! Then I explored a little farm off the beaten path with goats, horses and a fat pig (which I did not pet for fear of the swine flu). The city has so many diverse routes to offer, depending on what your interests are, and you only have to look around and find them. The city is really starting to grow on me!

  •   hankreas12 // Aug 21st 2009 at 18:33

    Today was an encouraging first full day in London. I felt like we packed a lot in. That was a wonderful and rewarding feeling and a feeling that I hope will continue every day this academic year. The boat ride along the Thames started the day off with a bang. It was exhilarating to see Big Ben at 9:15 a.m. (certainly not something I can see everyday). The journey along the river was wonderful. I really enjoyed spotting all of the bridges along the way, mostly attempting to identify them all while observing the varying architecture each one presented.
    Greenwich was my favorite part of the day. As soon as we started hiking up towards the Prime Meridian I fell in love with the area. The weather there made my day. It reminded me of early fall in New England with a nice crisp breeze. The park outside of the Meridian with the view down to the waterfront was majestic and I would love to go back and spend a few hours there just sitting and reading when I have some time.
    After our lunch at the pub (which I thoroughly enjoyed) four of us headed to the Maritime Museum. We looked at an interesting exhibit about crossing the Atlantic, took a look at some Maritime art and finished off with an exhibit about immigration to London. The first two exhibits were satisfactory but the last one really disappointed me. I felt like the information that was presented did not even scratch the surface of the history of immigration to London.
    After our trip to the Museum we took a look at the Chapel that Andrew B had recommended seeing earlier in the day. The architecture was amazing but i’m sure it will be just a small preview of what we will see over the next month.
    Finally the four of us headed back to the Arran House by walking under the Thames and then catching the Docklands Light Railway back to the Central tube line. I really enjoyed the ride on the DLR mostly because it was outside. This really gave me a sense of the surrounding communities found at each stop. It also gave me the idea to take the free day we have on the syllabus and travel to every tube stop on every line. Whether this is possible or not I do not know but it would allow me to get a great overview of all the different parts of London which is something I would like to attempt to do before this month is up.


  •   Chelsea Gilchrist // Aug 21st 2009 at 18:35

    I’ve always claimed that London was my favorite place in the world, and this trip is only making me love the city more. This time, however, even though I’m in a tourist group, I’m more keen on actually getting to know the city rather than just the tourist spots that every American goes to, and so far that’s exactly what I feel like I’m doing.

    I have to say I truly felt like a tourist on the ferry ride today, but it was such a great photo op and re-introduction to the city that I found it perfect (and the weather was great!). I was surprised that London could get more beautiful than what I had already seen, but I was proved wrong by seeing the Royal grounds at Greenwich. While walking up to the observatory, a few of us wondered what foreigners thought of America after seeing such beautiful places as Greenwich and (cleaner, quieter, and more orderly) London, and we figured it wouldn’t be too favorable an opinion in comparison.

    I spent a decent amount of time at the Maritime Museum after lunch. I’ve always been a sucker for museums in general, so I got a bit caught up in the exhibits rather than directly applying them to the course, but the section on Maritime London was particularly interesting. There they had photos of what certain wharves on the South Bank of the Thames looked like around the turn of the century and how they look in the present day, and despite a few obvious differences, many of them have been restored to look almost exactly like they did earlier on, but with modern touches. I think this attention to detail and history fits in with my overall impression of the city: a place that is proud of its history and intent on preserving it, but not sacrificing modernity, technology, and the most cutting-edge trends and developments to propel it further along the timeline of history.

  •   Brandon R. // Aug 21st 2009 at 19:15

    Through the last 30 or so hours, I’ve said “I feel like such a tourist” about three dozen times. Having had a full day of London, I’m beginning to wonder how I could NOT be a tourist in a city as vast and unfamiliar as London. I am a tourist, and I can only hope to engage myself with the city enough in order to drop that label, at least for myself. (I can’t help it if Londoners frown upon the camera clutched in my hand, sadly).

    So, today I was a tourist. The boat ride on the Thames River was incredible. From my first look at Big Ben to the Millenium Bridge to Tower Bridge I was hooked and mesmerized by the city. Only the smog from the boat took my attention away from the sights. It was incredible. Alli, I, too, found the blue sky to dismantle any preconceptions of London I had. The weather for the last two days has been awesome!

    Today, I was a tourist who likes to hike and take pictures of the Prime Meridian. The park we went through today reminded me to some extent of Valley Forge, PA. (Then again, VF is not on the former site of a prince’s backyard, as was this park). Standing at the top of the hill, straddling the Prime Meridian, I felt like “such a tourist,” but I enjoyed the trip! I found the exhibits much more interesting, for they focused on the development and, essentially, the invention of time. It’s always a pleasantly mindboggling subject to think about and see splayed out before you.

    Today, I was a tourist who likes fish and chips and museums. The food we ate was not bad! I think I embarrassed myself by ordering a tap water at the bar (it got some looks), but all-in-all I had a great meal. The Maritime Museum was very cool – it featured plenty of old documents and essentially traced the history of the Britain and the Atlantic Ocean. Every aspect of the ocean was addressed – slave trade, immigration, art inspired by the ocean, how tsunamis develop, etc etc.

    Today, I was a tourist who realized that London is a very, very large place. I don’t think I’ve seen the same place more than three times in this city. Everything changes around me. Different Tube stops, different people, different streets. I have to imagine that London is a large city, not unlike NYC or Philadelphia (…or maybe more like the two combined…). The only thing is, I’m a tourist, but I certainly hope not for long.

  •   buonacos // Aug 22nd 2009 at 08:15

    One common theme I noticed both during the day and in the blogs posted here, is the tourist dilemma. Should we be carrying our cameras everywhere we go? Is it obnoxious to stop and take pictures of everything from street signs to beautiful buildings and parks? I think one of the most repeated phrases I’ve heard in the past few days is: “I feel like such a tourist!” Like Brandon, I’d like to respond: “Well, we are!” and offer a few thoughts.

    I’ve practically grown up around photography. My mom took up the hobby maybe 7 or 8 years ago and has even started to sell some of her work. Wherever my family goes, there is ALWAYS a camera. I take walks in our local park and around our neighborhood with my mom on a fairly regular basis and she takes her camera EVERY SINGLE TIME. At first I thought this was absurd. It’s the same park. It’s the same houses. It’s the same people. I thought she would never find anything new to photograph; it was pointless. But I was wrong. Everything is constantly changing: the seasons, the animals, the flowers. Children grow up. Houses are renovated. Over time, I’ve learned to appreciate the camera and not be ashamed of it. There is beauty everywhere. Essentially, my family and I have become tourists in our own home and I am completely okay with that.

    All of this excitement is especially heightened when visiting a foreign city. The surroundings are brand new to us. We have every reason to take pictures and admire the environment around us and most certainly shouldn’t be embarrassed for it. Of course the overall purpose of the study abroad experience is to learn a new country. By the end of this month we’ll know London pretty well. We’ll be probably be able to find our way around without bringing our maps everywhere with us. We might choose to leave our cameras at home. After all, learning to live in the city similarly to locals is part of the point of being here, but trust me, we’re allowed to be tourists for a little bit.

    On a final note, during my first year at Dickinson my hard drive crashed and I lost pictures from many of the trips I’ve taken in the past few years. I lost all of my pictures from France, Italy, Greece, China, Poland, and the Czech Republic. I never truly appreciated the hundreds of pictures I had accumulated until they were gone. So my advice to you: Take pictures and love it!

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