Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Starting to look back.

September 14th, 2009 · 2 Comments

I had the chance to attend the Feminist Literature tour in which I not only learned about women writers who resided in the Bloomsbury area, but also on how spaces affect who we are and everything that we do. I am intrigued with this notion. Recently I posted a blog on space, specifically focused on sacred/holy spaces, in this blog I will look back and focus on a few others others.


Green Green GREEN

Spaces of recreation, golden flowers and perfectly trimmed grass is what I think of. It is impressive to me how well kept they are. When we visited Regent’s Park during class for the first time, I was at a loss of words, for I had never in my life seen a space so beautiful. William Blake captures this beauty in his poem titled “The Lily:”

The modest Rose puts forth a thorn,
The humble sheep a threat’ning horn:
While the Lily white shall in love delight,
Nor a thorn nor a threat stain her beauty bright.

Regent’s Park could not be touched, human hands could never be gently enough to handle a flower’s delicate body. So untouchable, the flowers arranged almost to perfection. Ralph Waldo Emmerson once said that “Earth laughs in flowers,” and I believe him.

Hyde Park, almost as magical, but words cannot capture the immensity of this park. The amount of green that surrounds you at any given moment is difficult to describe. This park in particular serves as more than just a space for recreation, it is also a place where history is preserved, where various neighborhoods unite and where kids grow up to later bring their own kids to play at Kensington Gardens or near the lake. Green Park, a sort of gateway to Buckingham Palace (if you get off at the Green Park Tube station), can never be compared to Hyde Park for it lacks in immensity. Even though the deck chairs are a nice touch to the park, the area I visited lacked some color (as in floral color); I was not impressed. (Buckingham Palace itself was not very impressive. I was surprise to discover that it actually isn’t an enormous, glorious and royal-looking mansion… I guess it’s a good thing that it isn’t after all!)


Let’s start the show!!!

Sometimes walking in for the first time takes my breath away, and sometimes the shows blows my mind, other times the idea of sitting there makes me wonder… wow. The three different halls of at the National Theatre, The Globe, Duke of York’s, the Phoenix and last but not least Royal Albert Hall! So here’s the list: “Troilus and Cressida,” “Arcadia,” “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “As You Like It,” “Pitmen Painters” and the not-so awesome musical “Blood Brothers,” oh and the amazing violin concerto at the Royal Albert. In London, I am never too far from New York City’s Broadway experience! The difference, the London experience always feels fulfilling no matter how horrible the play was. This is probably because Broadway shows are not exactly affordable, and while the National Theatre insists on having a wide range of prices (so that everyone can enjoy the theatre), Broadway just seeks revenue and to maintain it’s current status and popularity. I mean, to have Rick Fisher (who by the way is a Dickinson alum), winner of of a Tonny award, come to speak to us about his thoughts and experiences with London’s theatre scene, that within itself was enough to top all of the Broadway shows I have seen in my life! I <3 the London theatre experience!


Religious spaces.

Intricate architecture, imagination, creativity and grace is what comes to mind when I think of churches. I’ve written a blog about them but I wanted to look back at a few of them. Westminster, ridiculously sacred, marvelous, immense and glorious. The same can be said about St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Hindu Temple we visited. At Brixton (where I directed a tour along with my teammates), I learned that religious spaces play a huge role in the community, one that extends beyond any religious affiliations. One specific church we visited during our research, Corpus Christi Roman Catholic church was involved in the reconstruction of the Brixton area after the Brixton riots, when parts of the neighborhood where damaged/destroyed due to violent protests. It always brings joy to my heart when people come together to help each other, regardless of any religious/cultural boundaries.


Clubs NOT Pubs

Ooooh pubs…. I’ve heard that you can see London’s history evolve in these spaces, and although they are known as spaces of leisure and social interaction their walls can tell unknown stories of both know and unknown visitors. I am always intrigued by pubs, so intrigued I am intimidated by them. I now that sounds a little ridiculous but in pubs I feel pressured to consume alcohol (after all that is the main purpose of a pub: to provide alcoholic beverages) and to maintain conversation when really all I want to do is dance to the awesome music playing in the background. Rebbeca (who along with 4 others constructed a tour of London’s historic pubs) has attempted to both enlighten me as well as persuade me to engage in pub culture, but I have yet to fully explore the wonderful world of London’s historic pubs.

Clubs, on the other hand, I’ve also had a difficult time with. I’ve realized that there isn’t much dancing that goes on, but rather an attempt to dance, which actually means jumping around to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” (pop/techno song). Over all, I have enjoyed late hip hop nights at Metra (dance club a few street corners off the Leichester Square tube stop) only because I have shared that space with amazing people who can turn any floor into a dance floor. (Thanks Anthony, Jeyla and Patsy!)


Spaces, our everyday living takes place within them, whether they are churches, clubs, parks or theaters. We lack to realize their importance, we never stop to think of how a room may affect how we feel about ourselves and about the rest of society. A room can change our lives, like the reading room at the British Museum that the feminist writers group spoke of on their tour. This room clearly changed Virginia’s Wolf literature, among other authors, I’m sure.

Note to self: Whether this room is physical or mental, it is important. We must take more time to appreciate a rooms ability to change the way we exist in our own individual worlds.

The End.

Tags: Flow · Uncategorized

Prince, Christina Aguilera, and the London Nightlife

August 22nd, 2009 · 2 Comments

The Tube ride to Lester Square

The Tube ride to Lester Square

Click to play Prince’s Kiss while reading for full effect

Full of excitement with the legal drinking age, and finally getting over our jet lag, a few of us decided that we would venture into the London nightlife on our first Friday Night on the continent. It was 11pm when Anthony, Patsy, Jeyla and I headed to the tube. Although all the pubs seem to close at 12am, we knew that the tube runs till 1 or 2am, and the clubs close at 2am. With this in mind, we hopped on the Northern Black line and headed for Lester Square.

Tube Ride

Tube Ride

When we got off the train we were hit with lights and bars and people ALL OVER the streets.  This is when I began to feel the culture shock. Not only were the streets busy, which I am used to from living in New York City, but the people walking were falling over. They were what the Brits would call “smashed.” And it wasn’t just a select few, it was EVERYONE. They were stumbling and falling all over the sidewalks and streets. Some were even carrying open bottles of beer! To me this was the most shocking since in the USA we have open container laws.

We found what seemed like our best option for a dance club, showed our ID, and paid 5 pounds to get in. But if I thought that the intoxicated people on the streets gave me culture shock, the club sent me into cardiac arrest! Comfortably busy and filled, the club had even more intoxicated adults. There were no young people our age. And most of the adults were couples or single men.

Patsy and Jeyla dancing

Patsy and Jeyla dancing

But by far,  the most shocking differences between our American ways and the English ways were not even our drinking habits or behavior, but our tastes in music and dancing styles. As the four of us entered the dance floor, music we did not recognize blasted from the DJ table while English people sang the words and swayed against the beat on the dance floor. And when songs we recognized came on, the English cleared the floor and waited till a song they liked came on. And when I say songs we know came on, I’m not talking about Beyonce’s new album or the Black Eyed Peas. The “good songs” we heard consisted of a techno remix of Usher’s Yeah, Christina Aguilera’s Dirty, Britney Spears’ Gimme More, and we can’t forget the best one, Prince’s Kiss. Rocking out to Prince in a club at 1:30 am, my friends, is culture shock.

Until next time,


Tags: Megan