“Do I sound British? Do you think they think we’re British?” two common phrases my friend Bethany and I repeated day-to-day as we walked the streets of London, as well as the title above.
Gold star #9,090,490 for DIS. As a part of the program, we all go on a long-study tour to different countries. Emily went to Prague and I went to London. Our trip was during UNC/DUKE Spring Break, so my family was able to come over and see me, as well as, celebrate my birthday and turn it into a cultural visit.
Our class met at the airport at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. This was the first time I had to show my passport to leave Copenhagen, and good thing I had it, too. My wallet was stolen Saturday night so I was identificationless, moneyless, Taylor senior pictureless, etc. “Fortunately,” it was good timing since I was going to see my family in London and they would be able to spot me some money until my debit and credit cards arrived. Rita also lent me money, which was extremely generous. Luckily this disastrous occurrence wasn’t as much of a disaster as it seemed.
We arrived in London around ten past eleven and immediately started to sweat. It felt like summer. Granted it was only 50 degrees Fahrenheit, but I ready for my shorts and bathing suit. We were blessed with the most beautiful weather in London. Carolina blue skies everyday, maybe a little mist one day, but other than that it was gorgeous and spring was in the air.
After the hour and a half bus ride to our hotel, Thistle City Barbican, we hopped on the Tube and headed for Fat Tire Bike Tours. (The Tube really made me appreciate Denmark’s public transportation. It was loud, dirty, cramped, everything Denmark is not. Regardless, it got us from point A to B, even if I got lost multiple times.) Our group was divided into tour and we set off. It was about a three-hour tour, and it was a great way to start off the trip. We “saw” all of the major sites and rode through the parks (Hyde, St. James, Regents) and got a bit of history, too. It was a nice start to get “acquainted” with the city on a more personal level, as opposed to just jumping on a bus and having someone with a microphone speak at you. We didn’t get too close to all of the sites, but just seeing them in person was unreal. I felt as if I was on a movie set the entire time.
After dinner at an Indian restaurant, we headed back to the hotel and some of us, me, went to sleep. We woke up the next day and went to Magnum Photo. “Magnum Photos is a photographic cooperative of great diversity and distinction owned by its photographer members. With powerful individual vision, Magnum photographers chronicle the world and interpret its peoples, events, issues and personalities.
The Magnum Photos library is a living archive updated daily with new work from across the globe. You may search or browse our 500,000+ images which are available online for licensing in a variety of formats.” http://www.magnumphotos.com/ We sat for an hour presentation about the history, current projects, etc.
I’ve never been one to truly appreciate artwork or photography, but this trip really changed that.
Afterward, we went to Bloomberg News Europe. Amazing. Gorgeous. How do I apply? Bloomberg is a 24-hour financial news network. I was very surprised at how little the news production is a part of the company. The building was comprised of about five different levels, all of which were color-coded. The money and data floor was green, others were orange, red, yellow, blue and so on. Even the fish in the tanks were color-coded. They explained how they believe color really influences your environment and corresponds to the mood. Also, all of the walls in the building were made out of glass. It was complete transparency, which also speaks to their mission of complete openness and belief of sharing all and everything with the public. It was also interesting to learn that Bloomberg is 24/7 coverage. The station rotates between London, NY, Asia and one more?
After our visit to Bloomberg we had some free time to explore. We all split off into groups and attempted to find the tube. As we were walking in what we thought was the right direction, I saw a double-decker bus that said “London Bridge,” so we hopped on. Who doesn’t want to ride on a double-decker in London and go to London Bridge, no falling down though…
We made it to the station and started to wander. My roommate for the week, Bethany, had come to London the previous weekend to celebrate her 21st birthday so she played tour guide. We walked along the Thames and toward Tower Bridge. It is beautiful. The masonry and blue cables look like something from out of a fairytale. We crossed the bridge, waved at the Tower of London that houses the royal jewels and got on the tube bound for Big Ben.
Standing in front of the clock was unreal. I suppose I never really expected I would be standing in front of it or that I would ever visit London, I’m not too sure which, but it was just “different.” We also saw the London Eye, which I never made it on, Parliament and the street that Jason Bourne runs down.
I had to hurry back to the hotel to change because I was meeting my family in Kensington for my belated birthday dinner. I wanted to give myself plenty of time because I had no idea where I was going and knew I was going to get lost. I changed and ventured to the tube, so I thought. Got lost, asked for directions and got on the tube going the wrong way. Oh well. Even though everyone in Denmark speaks English, it was a nice reprieve to be in a country where I could read all of the signs, understand all the announcements on the tube, eavesdrop on conversations, the usual, haha.
Anyway, I made it to the restaurant, The Babylon, before my parents and brother. It was located on the top floor and a really nice establishment. I sat in the lounge until they arrived about 15 minutes later. It wasn’t the easiest place to find. Regardless, it was nice to see them. When they walked in it was as if no time had passed. We hugged and smiled, Taylor’s still taller than I am, and it didn’t seem like two months had gone by. Dinner consisted of mostly me talking, taking too long to order because we were catching up, ordering champagne and other drinks and just enjoying each other’s company. It really made me feel special that my family would travel so far just to celebrate this birthday. They came to another country for me. Thank you.
After my dad had pulled some money out of the ATM for me, they put in me in a taxi, thank goodness, I did not want to brave the tube again, especially at night,
The rest of my group went to Million Dollar Quartet that night and really enjoyed it. If any of you get the chance to go see it, they recommend it.
Wednesday morning we got to choose if we wanted to go to the Saatchi Gallery or the Design Museum. All but three went to the Design Museum. “the Oscars of the design world,” showcase the most innovative and forward thinking designs from around the world, spanning seven categories: architecture, fashion, furniture, graphics, interactive, product and transport. It was really cool to say the least. We were given 2 hours to explore, but the museum was only one level so it didn’t really take that long. We then had 3 hours to explore before our Careers in Communications visits.
The entire class was really excited to visit London because London has the only Chipotle in Europe. So we took the next three hours to find it. Only three of us went and I had never been to Chipotle before so I was interested to try it. We finally found it and while it was still good, I’d been craving Mexican since my arrival, I still have to say I’m a Moe’s fan.
Career in Communications was the main focus of this visit. Before our departure we ranked our areas of interest, PR, Marketing, etc. I put International Journalism as my number one and was slated to visit Al Jazeera! Al Jazeera, which translates to “peninsula,” is number one in terms of coverage of the Middle East. The visit was different than the other two newsrooms, Bloomberg and WTVD-TV where I worked last summer. It wasn’t a very open setting. The room was set up in kind of a curve where you wouldn’t be able to yell from one department to the next. John Owen, the executive producer of programs/London AJE, gave us the tour and sat down with us for over an hour and a half. We told us that they have about 150 employees in their office and only 75 seats. People would come in and never know where they were sitting.
We got to preview one of their new programs, EarthRise. It’s solutions to global problems. I was a little skeptical at first but they told us they were only allowed one sentence per show to explain what the problem was and the rest of the show would focus on how to fix said problem. After the show, I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn’t preachy and had a Man vs. Wild feel. The reporter was hands-on and provided good commentary.
Once we were finished our visit, we were to head to the London School of Economics to share with our entire class about our visits. We had some time to kill so four of us went to a café. We were with our intern, Caroline, who set up all of the visits and was basically a super star. Caroline did DIS in 2008 and applied to work at DIS as the CMM intern. I think this is something I will strongly consider come this time next year. Getting to live in DK for a year and a half and go on awesome trips? Why not?
At LSE we all shared our info and then we were on our own again. Bethany and I decided to go on an adventure and we walked past the tube and decided to go find Platform 9 ¾. Unfortunately, King’s Cross is/was under construction so the platform was a piece of board with printed bricks and a trolley sticking out of it. Of course, I still got a picture.
We weren’t hungry but knew we had to eat and decided to wander back toward the hotel. We walked into one restaurant/pub and were immediately IDed. It wasn’t exactly what we were looking for, so we literally went next door to The Masque Haunt. There was a football, soccer, game on, so we ordered food and sat down at a long table. We weren’t sure if we should have sat there because we were only 2 and the bar was filling up relatively fast.
We sat down and eventually five Englishmen walked in searching for a table. We offered the other end of our table to them and we made friends. They didn’t end up watching much of the game but more making fun of our attempts at an English accent. One of them was named Dougie, so I wiped out my iPod and asked him if he could teach me how to dougie…and I played it for him. Wasn’t a huge fan, haha. Regardless, we had a good time and immersed ourselves in the culture.
More to come later. If you’ve made it this far, you’re a champ.