Travel Journal: England
The classes that I’m taking here in London are taught by two Centre professors, and I'm here with 27 other Centre students. It’s a pretty unique program, and going abroad with such a large group of people definitely has its pros and cons. The only con that I can think of is that it's a bit more difficult to get to know any international students. The pros are tremendous: the group is full of absolutely incredible people, the professors are enthusiastic and really want us to become completely comfortable with London, the classes sound interesting and will keep our minds working, we have a diverse group and therefore you'll usually be able to find someone who would like to do something that you’d like to do too.
I imagine that in my time here, I’m going to find that some days are going to be more worth writing about than others. And I think that today was one of those days.
Centre rents classrooms at Birkbeck University that we use during the day since Birkbeck is a night college. We weren’t able to book classrooms for our English classes today, so instead we went to the British Library and went through a couple of exceptional exhibits (and we're to write about them by Friday): Evolving English and The Treasures of the British Library.
Evolving English. The exhibit was about the history of the English language and how it is constantly changing. It was a fascinating look at dialects, how certain words and phrases have come about, the idea of trying to control a language, and so on. It was really wonderful. One of my favorite parts was listening to speeches by people like Muhammad Ali and Gandhi. It was interesting to observe how different their dialects were, and also how vastly different they spoke—one with short and passionate sentences, the other in a very logical way, no power punches (pun intended). Then there’s the idea of dialect being an indicator of class, etc. It was a great exhibit. And, Leah and I recorded our voices for their databases, as well as learned that our friends (and ourselves included) commonly abbreviate words in day-to-day conversation and that we also designate things in a superlative sort of way. Such as: “The adventure today was the epicest.”
The Treasures of the British Library. One of the first documents that I saw in this exhibit was handwritten by Darwin. The next, handwritten by Freud. Other works I saw: The Gutenberg Bible, sheets of brainstormed lyrics, The Magna Carta, handwritten lyrics by The Beatles, drafts of pieces by Handel, sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, manuscripts by Shakespeare, and a prayer scroll of Henry VIII. I’m blanking on what else I saw since there was just so much to see. It was overwhelming and absolutely incredible. Actually seeing those things somehow makes them so much more real. Breaking down those degrees of separation. Remarkable.
That was all before lunch. We took the 10-minute walk back to our home (Nido Student Living), had a bite to eat, and then we were off again.
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