I had my Shakespeare class on Wednesday. The professor's name is Ruth, and I already feel affectionate towards her, because she really is adorable. Like every other teacher I've had who's taught me Shakespeare, she is very passionate about the Bard and has seen all of his plays performed multiple times. To my shock, I don't have to write a paper, the only class I don't have to. I do have a midterm and final exam, both involving close passage reading (I thought of Julie as that phrase was used,) but the only play we're seeing that I haven't read or seen on stage is King Lear (my mom's favorite Shakespearean play,) so I think I'll do pretty well. We're seeing our first two plays, Romeo and Juliet and Antony and Cleopatra, in one weekend in Stratford-upon-Avon, so that'll be exciting. Here are all the plays we're seeing (along with one we're only reading,) in order:
- Romeo and Juliet
- Antony and Cleopatra
- King Lear
- As You Like It (read-through only)
- The Tempest
We're also going to watch the movie Shakespeare in Love at the very end of the semester, a movie that Ruth is apparently obsessed with. I've seen it numerous times, but it'll be enjoyable to watch it again.
Today, I had my London Stage and Contemporary Britain classes, both of which I'm very excited about^_^ London Stage is taught by a woman, Susie Thomas, who is, naturally, very passionate and open minded about the theatre. I'm seeing Frankenstein (WITH BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH, YES!) this Monday, and, to my surprise, she's assigned us the actual Mary Shelley text, to be read by class next week. Hopefully, I'll enjoy it more than I did the first time I read it, when I was a freshman in high school. I have to write four analyses on plays we see (we're seeing eleven total, including the one we saw on Monday,) as well as a final paper on a broad topic that interests me about one or more of the plays we see, or a general aspect of British theatre. We've also each been assigned one of the plays to lead a discussion on, and I ended up with the final play of the semester, a modern take on Electra by Sophocles. I'll definitely talk about each of the plays I see on this blog.
I'm already in love with Contemporary Britain, my political science class. It's taught by an older man, Michael (or Mike,) who makes fun of the French and Irish, is very candid and frank about the numerous differences between the British and the Americans, and thinks Princess Diana is/was overrated. I find him very entertaining. I have to write two papers for the class, a midterm one and a final one. The midterm has to be on my personal (with cited sources to back me up) views on three aspects on British society. The final is more intense, having to focus on one particular aspect of British life and culture with lots of external sources. The topics themselves are basically up to me. I also have to read British newspapers on a regular basis (I'm planning on focusing on The Guardian,) and at one point will have to present a particular article, my choice, and how it can relate back to things we've talked about in class. Here are the various locations we'll be going to throughout the semester:
- Westminster walk (Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben)
- Imperial War Museum
- St. Paul's Cathedral
- A football match
- A mosque
We're also going to be having a discussion with a homeless woman who's lived on the streets of London for 17 years, which should be fascinating. According to Mike, she'll also be bringing her "hairy, four-legged creature" with her.
During our break for Contemporary Britain, we had a proper tea time, with hot tea, coffee, and water (milk and sugar included,) with various cakes and treats. I had my first cuppa, and really enjoyed it. One of the treats passed around were these DELICIOUS chocolate caramel squares, with real actual caramel, not the kind of stuff you get from a Milky Way bar. They can easily become addicting- I'm glad I only had access to one small square.
A few small events worth noting: I went to another pub last night, this time to the University of Lodon Union pub. I had a Southern Comfort with cranberry juice for 2.50, a very nice deal. I showed up with one group and ended up staying behind with another, also in the Hollins program, until close to ten. There was a football match going on, so there were a lot of guys in groups yelling and cheering on the team that wasn't Barcelona (I can't remember which specific one it was.) Football (what we call soccer) is taken VERY seriously here. According to my History professor, the way you are regarded as an individual in the U.K. is largely based on what football team you support.
I passed my first protest on my way back to ISH tonight. I'm not entirely certain which building it was in front of, I think it was an HSBC building (a huge banking company,) but the protest was definitely about health care. It was a protest against privatizing health care (boy, isn't that familiar?) and it may have been being held by the employees of the bank, I'm not entirely sure. I didn't stick by too long to find out, since I was warned by Sara at the beginning of orientation to not get involved in any way with protests in London.
Also, yesterday I didn't have class until 3:00, so I left around 12:30 and walked to a nearby chain restaurant/buffet/take-away (I refuse to label it as fast food) called Wasabi, to try out their food. It's a fantastic set-up: you can get individual pieces of sushi, or whole packages of it. You can also get things like teriyaki chicken, fried rice, and grilled salmon in take-away boxes for really cheap prices. I got the teriyaki chicken, and could only eat half of the container they gave me. For the cheap prices, it was pretty good. I'll definitely go back sometime soon.
I have no classes tomorrow, so I'm planning on going down Tottenham Court Road/Oxford Street/Charing Cross Road tomorrow to get a feel for the area. I'm particularly looking forward to going down Charing Cross, a street of nothing but different bookshops, mainly independent ones. My stack of books in my room is already nearing the top of my laptop screen; thank God Mom is coming up in April and taking some of it back with her.
I've promised several people pictures of the portraits I particularly admired in the National Portrait Gallery (God, that's a lot of words that start with "P,") and I will post those, more than likely tomorrow. There will also be pictures soon of the outside of ISH and Connaught Hall, since I realized I hadn't yet taken pictures of either.
Until then, mates!