Margaret Waterman, Staff Writer
Between learning to pour the perfect pint of Guinness, embarking on a hilarious journey with new Irish friends and having a spiritual encounter with a particularly delicious burrito, I had a fantastic time exploring Dublin and Galway this week.
When my professor canceled my Thursday class, my roommate and I decided to change our Dublin flights to arrange for a Wednesday night arrival. We took the tube to Heathrow for a quick flight over to Ireland’s capital.
The first night, we explored the Temple Bar area of Dublin — a slice of the city known for its nightlife — that sits just south of the River Liffey. That part of town is comprised of narrow, cobble-stoned streets in their original medieval layout. My roommate and I had a late start and ended up splitting our time between two pubs near each other, one of which had live authentic Irish music.
The third night we were there, we met up with more friends from the BU London program who also decided to visit Ireland this week. We went to one of the same pubs from the night before and then made our way over to one of Dublin’s most popular clubs, which was a blast. We ran into more American friends, coincidentally, and also met some locals in the “queue” to get inside and once we were in.
Much later that night, as we were leaving, we met up with a friend at a nearby late-night Mexican restaurant and had what we described as a “life-changing burrito.” It gave some of our friends the strength to return home to their hostel — they had boldly chosen to bunk in a 16-bed mixed dormitory just north of the river. (We were lucky enough to be able to stay at my roommate’s cousin’s house after just one night in a private hostel room.)
We met new people every night we were out, in places ranging from hole-in-the-wall pubs to the busiest clubs on the street, which was awesome. My new Irish friends, who had known each other forever, took my roommate and I to their favorite spots around town on Saturday night. Against the Grain— a “gastropub” that is known for its varied selection of craft beers — was really fun and was absolutely packed with locals enjoying pints and each other’s company. The Garage Bar, a club in Temple Bar and our next stop after Against the Grain, had a floor covered in sawdust, played mostly punk music and drew a totally different crowd but was just as fun.
Galway, a relatively short bus ride away, was a fun day trip as well, even though it poured rain the entire day. We had the opportunity to see Ireland’s gorgeous countryside as well which was nice in comparison to the urban landscape of Dublin.
The last touristy thing we did was tour the Guinness factory, a must for any American in Dublin. We are now certified Guinness pourers and as such retain the right to judge any bartender who doesn’t follow Guinness’ recommended instructions.
All in all, it was an amazing four days and I would highly recommend both Dublin and Galway to anyone visiting Ireland. You’ll never run out of things to do or people to meet.
Margaret Waterman, Staff Writer
A week into my semester abroad, I still feel like it’s not really real yet.
I’ve been to Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Big Ben, Parliament, pubs (so many pubs) and clubs. I took a boat cruise down the Thames and even visited “Platform Nine and ¾.” Everything is gorgeous and so old and historical. It has been so fun sightseeing; we’re off to the Tower of London today. Still, though, it feels like I’m on vacation with a bunch of friends — except, on a budget.
One of the hardest things to adjust to — besides learning to look the “wrong” way when crossing the street — has been living completely on my own. Last semester, I had an apartment, but I was always at The Daily Free Press or my restaurant job and rarely had time to cook real meals for myself. Here, though, it’s been all home-cooked, all the time. We really can’t afford anything else with the exchange rate (which sits at almost two dollars for every one pound) and with our estimated travel budget. So, it’s been chicken and veggies pretty much every night for dinner.
My roommate and I have pooled our spending and split everything from trips to the grocery store, to cooking and dishes. It’s been a great system but definitely has been a big adjustment, along with sharing a kitchen with 14 other girls, all of whom live in my flat.
Before I got here, I decided one of my main goals would be to travel. I’ve been looking forward to seeing all parts of Europe since I can remember and realize this is the perfect opportunity. We’re going to Dublin next weekend, where luckily enough I have a friend there we can stay with for free. We’ve got a bunch more trips planned, too — all around the U.K., Ireland and the Netherlands, for now, with our bigger trips still up in the air.
I think what has struck me most about London is how massive and how international it is as a city. Every place we’ve been, we’ve met people from all over the globe. Other Americans, a ton of French people, Lithuanians and — my personal favorite — two businessmen from Copenhagen we met on a pub-crawl. It’s been much harder to meet Brits than I figured it would be, but I think that’s because of the neighborhood we live in (South Kensington). It’s very expensive and not home to too many locals. I’ve set another goal for myself this week to meet more people from in and around London. There are a bunch of local universities around that we might go check out.
All and all, it’s been an amazing first week and I couldn’t be happier with my choice to study abroad in London. As far as classes go, I’m taking a British media and culture class and a class focused on foreign corresponding. I can’t wait for those to begin next week!
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
I’ll be home in less than a month.
Just as this city has started to really get in under my skin in the best ways, it’s going to be over. It’s made even worse by the realization that I’ve only got one weekend left in London.
I suppose it’s for the best that I’m falling in love with the city as I prepare to leave it.
This all just feels like I’ve had two pints of cider at the pub and upon standing I realize I’m a little more drunk than anticipated…but not too far gone for another pint.
One of my favorite buildings in all of London is St. Paul’s Cathedral. Look back on most of my Instagrams of any sort of London skyline, if it’s not featuring Big Ben or the London Eye (or some combination of me trying to break into a palace or join the Royal Family). St. Paul’s Cathedral is there, sometimes in the foreground, sometimes in the background, sometimes featured in a glass of wine.
I’ve never actually been inside of St.Paul’s, mind you. It’s on my (dwindling) list of places to go, and my friend convinced me to wait to go until next weekend. Ending my London tourist-ings on a high note, right?
It’s hard to explain my infatuation with this building. William and Kate weren’t even married there (though William’s mother and father were). In a city filled to the brim with old buildings, it’s one of the most noteworthy, sure, but there’s just something about the way it rises above most of the other buildings in that majestic way tall things are tall. It’s a crude description but bear with me.
Whether I’m 50 feet or 5,000 meters away, something about that white dome just catches my eye and holds my attention. A friend and I walked around the cathedral on Saturday evening and I couldn’t help but just stare skyward at the beautifully carved exterior, marveling.
Something about St. Paul’s makes me feel centered. I’m by no means a religious person, but the curve of the dome and the beauty that was wrought by Christopher Wren just makes things feel right.
I feel small, but not in a bad way. You get close to the building and look up, until you remember to look where you’re going because another tourist almost bumped into you. You remember your feet are still on the ground and you’ve got another place to go.
Maybe it’s strange to have a semi-religious experience thanks to a building’s exterior architecture and maybe I’m just mostly typing nonsense, but I think it all goes hand in hand with my time in London.
No matter what, I’ll always look toward London. It’ll have a place in my heart, for better or for worse, and now I’ll understand a little better what this city actually is.
Just like getting close to the cathedral, I’ve felt small in London. I’ve felt really small. Never before have I felt so outside my comfort zone in so many situations—but it’s also a beautiful reminder of what life brings.
In no way shape or form should I remain in my comfort zone at all times, and I think I best grow when put outside of my native environment.
I think because of all of this, it’s given me a greater understanding of myself. Sure I’ve bumped into a number of tourists (both physically and allegorically), but it’s all made me realize what’s going on around me—and just how awesome it’s been to be here.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
If Webster was a college-aged COM major, he’d describe FOMO in the following ways:
By Devon Delfino, Staff Writer
In a move reminiscent to the famous pact of “American Pie,” a London teen plans to lose his virginity next year, according to the UK edition of the Huffington Post. Here’s where it gets interesting: He plans to lose it in front of an audience of 50 to 100 people, all in the name of ‘art.’ The installment, “Art School Stole My Virginity,” will take place on Jan. 25.
But how can one make a life event like losing one’s virginity into art? What does that even mean?
For Clayton Pettet, the artist, the performance piece is a means of expression and the ultimate way of exploring the issue of virginity and share the experience in an once-in-a-lifetime installment.
On his Tumblr page, Pettet states, “The Idea of ‘Art School Stole My Virginity’ came around when I was Sixteen, when all my peers at school were losing their Virginity it was incredibly hard for me to ask why I was still a Virgin and why it meant so much to the people all around me. My piece isn’t a statement as much as it is a question. The whole aspect of Virginity was incredibly emotional for me and has been ever since.”
The controversy surrounding the piece points to the obvious as many have speculated that Pettet’s installation cheapens the right of passage by turning it into a spectacle rather than letting it remain a private affair.
But, perhaps this move is warranted; looking to the media, we are constantly bombarded with sexual displays; from Miley Cyrus groping Robin Thicke at the VMA’s, to incredibly sexually explicit music lyrics and videos, it seems that the creative world is already shrouded in a heightened sexual awareness.
Pettet’s goal is to stimulate discussion about the issue of virginity; with the coverage his installation is already receiving has already started that. After all, it has been said, “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
Is it bad that I want to preface every single blog post with the statement “I HAVE SURVIVED”? Like it’s a somewhat novel idea that I’ve made it yet another week in this strange little island country that has like…10 different names.
Okay that’s not true, it’s only four or so (The United Kingdom, England, Britain, Great Britain—see what I mean?).
Pro tip: British and English are two very different things. You can be British but not English (the Irish and Welsh, for example. This basically applies to countries that are members of Great Britain but separate from England itself). Isn’t learning fun?
Getting back on topic…noon on Tuesday will exactly mark the halfway point of my semester in London.
It’s been quite the ride thus far, as I’m sure you’ve read. But getting comfortable with your new surroundings takes way more time than any of your friends will ever let on (though I’ll be totally honest because sometimes I’m too blunt).
From what I’ve ascertained in conversations with other friends on the program, it’s hard not to walk off that plane at Heathrow with the expectation that this semester will change your life. But it’s not like taking the Tube is a religious experience that lets you feel close to God the moment you mind the gap and alight to Paddington.
The good stuff takes time and I think in a lot of cases, it’s not until it’s gone that you realize what you actually had.
What I’m trying to say is that I love London but I’m not “in-love“ with London. At least not yet. It’s still really scary trying to cross the street and I still second-guess which side of the sidewalk I should be walking on.
I’m self-conscious about my accent when ordering my skinny Americano from Pret. Sometimes that’s reason enough to just stay inside and binge on episodes of Bad Education on the BBC iPlayer (watch that show, it’s hilarious).
But there is hope. This week, I started my internship with a technology media company (the UK’s largest) called IDG UK. I’m by no means a tech nerd (though I can spit some mad game if you ask me about the latest Apple keynote) but like one of my professors told me, tech reporting is just like any other beat.
Thus far, it’s been awesome. Maybe it’s the workload or the diversity of things I get to do or the fact that I’m not taking classes and the office is in a cool part of town and has a ton of windows, but it’s been a great deal of fun.
I’ve even learned some new British slang, realized the value of Google when understanding British idioms and got to cover an event that brought me to the top of The Shard (the tallest building in Western Europe).
It’s also forced me to get out and see a new part of London, which is extremely refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, I love South Ken and the hordes of children in their school uniforms zipping past me on their scooters, but dodging their mothers’ Prada bags and fathers’ Maserati or Range Rover or Bugatti when I’m just trying to run off last night’s Burger King gets old and fast.
I’d much rather be run down by other young professionals just trying to get to that place off Oxford Street that only sells hot dogs and champagne.
I’ve always had better luck with the second halves of experiences. Chalk it up to growing pains, if you must. Getting adjusted to new things can be absolutely crappy, but let’s be real: once you get your sea legs, you learn just how awesome boating can be. Or in this case, living in London.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
It seems only fair that I’m spending my last night of fall break holed up in a makeshift blanket-cocoon in my room with all the lights off, felled by a migraine. The last five days have been a total whirlwind (I hate that that’s such a cliché but it’s perfect way to put it) in what has become the total study abroad rite of passage: Fall break. Or spring break for those in the spring semester. Basically a chunk of time that you are given off so you can use it to do the most magical thing in Europe: travel. And travel we did.
First: Flying Ryanair to Budapest was largely uneventful—with one exception. Drinking a pint of cider over dinner before our flight certainly helped us get settled into our flight on the low-cost airline. Ryanair is infamous for selling seats at dirt-cheap prices and then charging you like crazy for things like multiple pieces of luggage or not being able to fit all of your belongings into the smallest suitcase known to man. But you do it because it’s all about the benjamins saved that are better used on boat tours or pub crawls. Duh. So the Ryanair flight to Budapest. Totally normal, run-of-the-mill. The plane descends, touches down and makes a successful landing. Suddenly the entire airplane erupts with applause. And then the first call bugle song that they play at the Kentucky Derby (you know the one) plays over the speakers and a recording comes on saying Ryainair has the most on-time flights in Europe. And then everyone claps again. I’m not sure if we clapped because the flight was cheap or that we all survived the cheapest flights of our lives. For all I know, we could have been clapping for the fact that we were simply not dead.
Once we landed, we navigated the bus/metro system from the airport to our hostel in the center of the city. The highlight of all of our hostel stays on this trip had to be the first man we met in our hostel in Budapest, Zoltan. My friend Tyler, who I traveled with, gave a really solid summary of our encounter with Zoltan (since it only really happened once) on his blog and it’s definitely worth a read.
But back to why fall break travel is a rite of passage. Unless you’re keen on staying in the UK, most students (at least that I know of on the BU abroad program) use this time to visit places they’ve never been before. More often than not, these places are in different countries. And chances are, there’s a language barrier.
Studying abroad in London offers the unique chance to experience a different culture without having to get over a serious language barrier. Unless, of course, you’re me. But we’ll get to that later. For Tyler and I, we knew we wanted to travel to Budapest and Stockholm, so we booked the flights and hostels and went on our merry way. Emerging from customs in a foreign country is such a weird experience. You shuffle off the plane, hand over your documents and then you’re just spit out into this new place. The country is your oyster. It’s exhilarating and a little terrifying, especially when you’re looking for signs with English because neither you nor your travel partner speak Hungarian or Swedish. But you figure it out. Because you have to. At no point can you just throw up your hands and say “I’m done with this country I’m outta here.” Well, you could, but logistically it’d be quite difficult. You learn to truly roll with the punches and the ultimate value in asking for help. Plus a new-found appreciation for the fact that so many people in Europe are fluent in English.
Funny story about speaking English…My only serious issues with language barriers actually came from trying (and completely failing) to understand English-speakers. The best example is from our first night in Stockholm, when Tyler and I were chatting with this Australian guy also staying in the hostel. He was telling us about he had been traveling around Europe for the last couple months and I asked about his favorite place to visit. He responded “Ireland” but with his accent, I heard “island.” So I tried to clarify: “What island?” to which he replied, “Ireland.” Tyler had to put me out of misery before I brought us further shame by not understanding our own language.
By Brandon Lewis, Staff Writer
My personal definition of a musical is a cheery, upbeat theatrical production full of music. What comes to mind are the Lion King, Mamma Mia, Wicked, Book of Mormon, Jersey Boys and the list goes on, not a psychological thriller like American Pyscho, a film known for its graphic violence and sexual content. But it’s happening. A musical version of the movie is set to premiere in London later this year.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, former Doctor Who star, Matt Smith, was cast as the musical’s lead character. Smith will play Patrick Bateman, a Manhattan businessman who serves as an investment banker by day and serial killer by night. So what is Smith going to be singing about on stage, the amount of blood oozing from his victims’ bodies or how much stock his employer is selling to investors? Beats me.
The Ruper Goold directed stage production is based on Bret Easton Ellis’s 1991 novel and the 2000 film adaptation in which Christian Bale played the lead role. Duncan Sheik, the Tony Award-winning composer of “Spirit Awakening”, created the score for the musical, which also stars Ben Aldridge, Susannah Fielding and Simon Gregor.
I’m interested in hearing Sheik’s score for this musical because I can’t imagine the types of songs he created to depict a storyline that’s far from the conventions of a typical musical. Let’s be real here. There is no musicality in murder and mental instability. This type of subject matter simply doesn’t suit theatre. I don’t know how Ruper Gould and his production team pulled this off but they found a way. “American Pyscho: the Musical” (I don’t know if that’s the official title) is set to debut at London’s Almeida Theatre on December 3 and run until January 25.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
Is it possible to get whiplash from things in your life changing so quickly? As of last week, I finally felt like I had settled into a normal-ish routine of classwork, socializing and sight-seeing. Now, all that is changing once again as Monday marks the start of finals (already?) and fall break begins after finals wrap up on Tuesday.
I suppose the class trip to Brussels at the beginning of the week didn’t help my sense of adjustment—three days in the capital of Europe (I learned that there) were followed by the last two class days of the first half of the semester. Boston University splits up the abroad semester a bit strangely—the first five weeks of the semester are devoted to two classes, followed by a five-day break and eight weeks spent interning and taking one class. Then you spend a week and a half traveling and studying for your last finals and then it’s back to the U.S. with you.
The class trip to Brussels was an interesting experience in that I rarely had any idea where I was. Everything in the city is in two languages—Flemish and French, so looking at a map was extra complicated. Plus, I have absolutely no knowledge of the Flemish language and the only things I know how to say in French are “hello,” “goodbye,” and “my little hat.” That last one is guaranteed to make people laugh, but definitely will not help you when you’re trying to figure out how to get to Delirium Café. Don’t worry, I found it anyway.
Though my complications with the language barriers in Brussels will only get more hilarious—I say hilarious because I laugh when I’m uncomfortable—during fall break as my friend Tyler and I travel to Budapest and Stockholm. I doubt I could identify the Hungarian language if a Hungarian person was shouting in my face, but I think I’ll be okay in Stockholm because I’ve been to Ikea so many times.
Nevertheless, this constant adjustment and readjustment to my changing surroundings is good. What good is your comfort zone if you don’t know its limits? And who knows, maybe I’ll pick up Hungarian in a snap and actually have a sense of direction in one of these foreign cities. But in the meantime, I’m just glad my phone has an international data plan. Thank God for Google Maps.
By Lauren Dezenski, Staff Writer
I’m proud to say this is my second blog post filed while in transit. This time, I’m somewhere below the English Channel, en route to Brussels on a class trip for my political science class. I really wish the Chunnel (the Channel Tunnel) had little windows to see the water. It’s kinda eerie gliding through this tunnel knowing I’m under water but not really knowing much else.
Today also marks my fourth week since landing in London, though it feels like much, much longer. This week, I’ve had the chance to explore both my neighborhood and other parts off city (not to mention the foreign city I’m headed toward now).
I finally got to get my journalism on with Wednesday’s assignment to go to Canary Wharf, find and write a 1,000-word feature story. Canary Wharf is arguably London’s most transformed borough thanks to the jolt of capitalism administered by Margaret Thatcher back in the ’80s. The result: a gleaming, silver archipelago of power and wealth built on London’s formerly dilapidated docklands. Now, the former isle of dogs is inhabited by a major European financial center, chock full of successful-looking men and women in expensive suits. I felt like a pauper walking among the Credit Suisse and Barclays bigwigs, but you gotta fake it ’till you make it, right? One of my favorite sights was a sand sculpture of William, Kate, and the royal baby on the West India docks. It’s now a life goal of mine to be immortalized in a sand sculpture.
Back in South Ken, I found myself in Hyde Park nearly every day this week until I was felled by a nasty cough. It has been absolutely beautiful and rain-free in the capital for the last couple days and there really is no better way to enjoy the weather than with strolls around the Serpentine or jogs to the Marble Arch. See, Mom, I’m actually using my sneakers! Friday night, a couple friends and I packed a dinner and some ciders and picnicked on a hill next to Kensington Palace as the sun set. It certainly wasn’t as active as a run, but it was a heck of a lot more fun.
Since then, I’ve been nursing a persistent cough that the British hilariously call a “chesty cough.” Even getting sick here is a cultural experience. In the process of buying out the cold and cough sections of Boots in the hopes of feeling better before the trip to Brussels, I can’t help but feel a little proud I’m not feeling well. Clearly I’m doing something right, because you only get sick when you’re exposed to other people. It’s like my chesty cough is proof that I’ve been out and about, getting to know this city and its inhabitants. I could be totally insane trying to justify this, but you know there’s a grain of truth in what I’m saying.
Now, I’ve got an arsenal of cough medicine, lozenges and nasal spray to keep me powering through Brussels’ delicacies and sites. Here’s to hoping they do their job.