Hi friends! If you’ve read my past entries than welcome back! If you’re just starting off then hello- my name is Samantha Wilkerson and I am currently on the USF in London trip. I am posting my experiences during my trip as well as my tips and recommendations for anyone who is thinking about going on the trip next year. This week we explored the area around Birkbeck, where we are taking our classes. It is only a couple minutes away from the famous Oxford Street shopping so it was a lot of fun to look around in between classes. For class we only had two excursions, for the Bristishness class we went to the Migration Museum and for the Criminal Minds class we went on a Jack-the-Ripper tour. The Migration Museum was really interested and included stories that people have included about how they made their way to live in the UK, their experiences with the government, as well as statements about how people’s appearance has caused judgement and assumptions to be made about them. The tour, as you can imagine, was focused on the killer who was self-dubbed ‘Jack the Ripper’. During the tour we walked around to the places where the different killings occurred as well as learning a little about what it was like to live in London during that time. This week was also memorable because I went to my first Broadway show, Phantom of the Opera. I have always been a fan of musicals and although I may not have a good singing voice I love taking the chance to sing along under my breath and enjoy the experience. I would 100% recommend it to anyone who has an interest. If you are willing to risk the chance of not finding a ticket you can usually find cheap tickets the day of, although in all honesty since this was my first time going to a show I decided to spend a little more and find good seats before I even left for London.
This weekend was our free weekend to do whatever we wanted and I was so happy with how my friends and I spent it. I have always considered myself to be an ally to the LGBTQA+ community but yet I have never been able to go to a Pride event therefore I was so excited that London Pride was happening when we were there. Pride was Saturday and it was an amazing experience. It was beautiful to see so many people, from so many different backgrounds, coming together just to cherish love and how lucky we are to live in a place where we can be whoever we want and express ourselves how we wanted to. It was also cool to see how many businesses in the community were showing their support through massive Macy’s Thanksgiving-Style floats. After an amazing day at Pride one of my friends and I decided to head to Brighton for Sunday. First of all let me say that I would 100% recommend listening to the professor’s suggestion to stay within the UK and not going to far away during the free weekend. There are a lot of close places, such as Brighton, that you can go and enjoy yourselves without risking being stuck in somewhere such as Paris with no transportation back. With that being said, also pay attention to local announcements such as when they suggest not traveling unless necessary because of scheduled maintenance. The journey to and from Brighton from London is normally only a 2-3 hour train ride each way but because of the scheduled maintenance mentioned before, our train rides took 4-5 hours each way. Now that isn’t to say that I we didn’t have an amazing time exploring the rocky beaches and the plethora of little shops and restaurants scattered around Brighton. We also explored the Brighton Pier, which although most of the activities are made for little children doesn’t mean that it wasn’t cool to see. So all in all, I would recommend Brighton but just check the local announcements beforehand and if, like us, you choose to still go on the journey just be aware of the possible time delays.
My tips for this week include bring a reusable bag around with you so that if you go on a random shopping trip you are constantly paying for a new bag and/or trying to shove what you bought into your backpack. Also recommended is to download the Citymapper app, while it doesn’t take long to get the gist of the tubes, it does help to have the app so that you can know beforehand what line you want to take. There are a couple of similar apps, such as the Tube map, but the reason I like the Citymapper is because it includes Tube lines, bus routes, trains, as well as walking directions while the Tube app only includes the Tube.