UK and Ireland
Our trip ended. Japanese kids are taught that “a picnic does not end until you go home.” Our trip is not a picnic, but this phrase apply to ours too. I am very glad that all of us could have a safety trip. Our flights were run as scheduled, and we didn’t have any serious trouble during the trip.
On the first flight from New York to London, I was filled with expectation, excitement and a little bit of worry because it was my first time to enter Europe and experience a new culture other than Japanese and American ones. On the second flight from London to New York, I had a mixed feeling because I wanted to stay in London more, but on the other hand, I wanted to go back to my room in New Paltz immediately. (To be honest, I wanted to go back to Japan to meet my family, but I know it is not possible until this summer.)
I arrived at JFK airport around 6pm and Manhattan around 8pm. I got off a train at the Bryant Park. There were still a lot of people and stores were open. The atmosphere of NY made me feel relieved. I was surprised because it was snowing outside. We didn’t see snow in London even though it was quite cold.
I took a bus from NYC to New Paltz, and I arrived home around 11pm. My room is like a shelter and always makes me feel relief. While I unpacked my suitcase, I remembered days in London. Two weeks have passed too quickly when I looked back. Everything I saw, heard, touch, smelled, ate, and felt there became my precious experience. My spring semester was just started, and also I still have some assignments for this winter class till this March. The London art seminar doesn’t finish yet. I got some great inspirations from my experience in London, so I will use it to pursue my art goal. My goal is to be a good graphic designer who creates designs which move people’s minds. To achieve it, I want to do my best now.
A week has passed since I came back to New Paltz. I hanged Mucha’s calender, which I bought at the Courtauld Gallery in London, on my room’s wall. (My wall is filled with Mucha’s works which I love.) I always remember London’s days when I see this wall. Over all, it was a great experience. I’d like to recommend London to my friends because it is one of the most wonderful places to visit. I want to visit there again in the future if I have time and money.
Thany you for reading. Hope you all have a great semester!
Originally I planned to put my Leeds Castle trip and my London tour into one blog. However as I was writing this blog, I realized that with all the pictures I included, it would be better to separate them into two blogs.
All of these trips have been booked through the school. Leeds Castle was free and London cost 8£. 8£ is actually very reasonable considering all of the things the tours included.
Leeds Castle. January 9th
It was an overcast and chilly day when I set out to the college. We were given a free “traditional English breakfast” in the school’s canteen. It was actually really quite tasty. I was finally able to enjoy a cup of coffee. I cannot even begin to explain how amazing coffee can taste after days of not having any. I was able to sit with some of my new friends and eat breakfast. They had toast, eggs, ham, and for some reason beans. We were later told that beans are considered a part of traditional breakfast here! It was fascinating! After an hour we all pilled onto two big coach buses, one was even a double decker! During the hour or so drive to the castle I was able to meet some other international students, from other countries. Two students were from France and another from Australia. Our conversations made the trip go by in no time. When we finally arrived at Leeds Castle the sky was still threatening us with rain but it promised to hold off for a little while longer. We were greeted by a colorful peacock by the gate, we hoped it would a good sign that the rain would stay away! We began our journey up to the castle, we walked along a path that snaked around rivers and ponds. It was really quite beautiful.
We then headed into the castle. It was absolutely gorgeous! There were so many different styles in the rooms. It was amazing to see so much history contained within those walls.
My favorite room was the library. I am a huge book-worm; happy to spend my days curled up in a corner with a good book. That room was incredible with floor to book shelves, filled to capacity. Honestly, it was a book-lovers dream!
After the castle, a group of us traveled across the grounds to see the Bird’s of Prey show. Back home I work in wildlife rehabilitation, and I mostly deal with birds. It was comforting to see birds like the ones I left at home. The rain had started pouring down at that point but we were prepared and stayed relatively dry under our umbrellas.
The next thing we did, is that we went to a maze. A simple maze we thought, so easy a child could do it, we would be in and out within 5 minutes. We were so wrong, so very very wrong. That maze was so much more complicated than we had thought. We would have wondered around in there for hours if it wasn’t for the guide in the center.
We also decided to go into the maze about a half hour before we were due to leave. In other words, we were obviously not thinking clearly. Thankfully there was a guide in the center of the maze who helped us get out in record time. I recorded the guided portion of our journey and sped it up. It makes for an amusing video! After we had conquered the maze and the grotto beneath it, we were able to start rushing back to the buses. Thankfully we ran into the school officials who had accompanied us on this trip. It was a relief to know that the buses wouldn’t leave without us!
All in all, it was an amazing trip, full of history, fun and convoluted mazes!
For our intersession time, our classes were very different in many ways. Our itinerary focused on mostly going to museums, parks and tours exploring various art styles. We would also have to meet at the professors flat for class times to as we did for our presentations. The museums we went to were wonderful.
We went to museums such as Tate Modern, Tate Britain, The british Museum, the Vitra and Ray Eames museum in the barbican. Most of which were my favourite. i loved the sculptures and exhibits at tate modern.
To point out, we have to write blog posts about the museums and things that we learned at the museums and about particular exhibits.
Also it is amazing that we got to see various parts of london. At the beginning of the seminar we had to buy an oyster card which is the equivalent to a metrocard for the underground. The underground is a great way of transportation and easier to use than the new York city subway system!
I’m sorry that I have been a little behind on my posting. The past few weeks have been a whirlwind. To make up for it, I will be posting three blogs this week. I am going to break up my blogs by first talking about my initial reactions, settling in and finally orientation. The next blog I post will be about the first weekend here and the two amazing trips I went on. My third and final blog for the week will be about some of the cultural differences I have noticed.
My First Few Days Abroad!
I am not going to lie…my first few days were really rough. I got to England on Tuesday January 5th. The school arranged airport pick up date was Thursday January 7th and orientation was Friday the 8th. The reason I was here early was because Kingston University changed the airport pick up date, after we already bought the flight. Those three days may not seem like much but they felt like a lifetime. I was far away from home, I didn’t really have any friends and I felt alone. I had a difficult time adjusting to the time difference and I missed my family more than I had believed possible. My emotions felt like they had been scrubbed raw with steel wool and I was always a second away from crying. Please know that I don’t say this to scare anyone or discourage people. I just wished I had better prepared myself for those first few days. This is all solely from my own perspective, some people were perfectly fine when they came here. They were happy and adjusted well. I was not one of those people. I have a difficult time adjusting to new situations and change in general. So my reaction was to cry. I cried more than I’d ever thought was possible in those three days. But then something amazing happened, my tears dried and I felt better. My mother has always said, “sometimes you just need to cry”: she called it “a cathartic release”.
“Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before…”
“…you know that a good, long session of weeping can often make you feel better, even if your circumstances have not changed one bit.” -Lemony Snicket
After orientation was done I went shopping and picked up some essentials. I had taken some time to settle into my new lodging and tried to make it my own.
This is pretty much what the room looks like. I have since added my own touches, like pictures of my family, friends and dogs around the room. My landlady is really nice and her daughters are very sweet. On the first night I was there, she made me dinner and took me out for a drive around the area.
That about sums up my first few days here; sad at first but progressively better with each day. I lucked out and got a great room in a nice area and I was looking forward to making new friends. I was also looking forward to the exciting day trips that I went on that weekend. I will talk about those in my next blog.
Until next time,
We’re heading home today. I’m feeling a mix of a lot of things, but mostly I’m bummed about it. These have been the best two weeks of my life, full of adventure, laughs, great theatre, exploration and growth. I really, really, really don’t want to go home. Saying goodbye to our flat was hard, and boarding the plane was even harder. I could never have prepared myself for the life changing experience that this beautiful city has had on me. The people, the places, the architecture, the food, and the overall vibe of London has been such a pleasure. It’s hard to say what I’ll miss the most, because there were so many wonderful things. But I know I’ll be back. I can’t imagine living my life without returning. In fact, my roommate and I were trying to figure out last night how much it could potentially cost to come back for a week or something and stay in a hotel. That’s how desperately we want to come back soon.
I can’t say for sure yet exactly how London has affected me. I don’t think I’ll know until I’m back in the States and back to my normal life. But I have been so amazed at how happy I’ve been. I deal with depression on and off and often find it very difficult to find the positives in life, but these two weeks have been bliss. Any time I found myself in a slightly negative mood, I’d look around me and think, “I’m alive. And I’m in London. And it’s beautiful, and everything is going to be just fine.” I hope I can find a similar train of thought when I’m back home.
I have no regrets. I accomplished everything I wanted to, and so much more. I met fascinating people, saw engaging and unique plays, saw fine art, had great food and beer, and lived to the fullest. I stayed safe, only made a few silly mistakes, didn’t get sick or injured, and didn’t spend too much over my budget…
**My apologies I thought I posted this on the day I arrived! I now realize that this was saved as a draft instead! I am so sorry! Just pretend that this was posted on January 5th instead of 17th!
8:25pm Eastern Standard Time. We take off from Kennedy!!!
Hello from 10,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. We were 3 hours and 13 minutes away from Heathrow airport. I wanted to be in England right then. The plane kept oscillating between sweltering and frigid which got old real fast. The airplane food was surprisingly good. I was happy with that at least. Most of the in-flight entertainment was free, some movies cost 6$.
But there was still plenty to chose from. The view was amazing, the sky full with thousands of stars. At first I wished that I could get a picture of it, but it was way too dark. But that made them more beautiful to me, because that moment wasn’t something I couldn’t capture on my phone. It was something that could only be experienced. viewed solely through memory and not in pixels. I sat there watching the stars for hours because I knew I would never be able to sleep with the noise in the cabin. It sounded like a white noise machine or a waterfall. At least I had some time to think. I really miss my family. My family and I are really close and being away from them has proven pretty hard. But I tried to distract myself with movies and happy thoughts of London!
so close yet so far
When we only had 12 short minutes left on the flight, I was able to watch the dawn break over England. Watching sunrise from an airplane is pretty spectacular. You get to witness as each stretch of land is slowly bathed in morning’s first light.
The landing was not bumpy but nothing major. Getting off the plane was a hassle I somehow managed to accumulate 3 drink bottles over the course of the day after security. As I was trying to stuff them in my carry on(so I would be able to haul everything through an airport) I noticed that the entire rest of the flight had disembarked. I awkwardly stuffed everything into my carry on and we rushed off the plane into customs. There was a long line, no surprise there, and since jet lag was kicking in, it felt like forever. We finally got through we exchanged our money and picked up our bags.
We got a cab to take us to the houses where we will be living. We live about 5 minutes from each other which is nice. I spent half the cab ride exhausted and the other half have a panic attack that they were driving on the “wrong” side of the road. I swear I had a mini heart attack every time we turned because I thought we were turning into oncoming traffic.
(i honestly cannot figure out how to insert a video but this looks like it may be right)
I had just gotten to my house and was looking forward to meeting my landlady, unpacking and most of all, sleeping! I was so beyond tired that I felt as if I could have slept for 3 days straight!
Until next time.
Tomorrow we have a flight to go back to the US. We will leave our apartment at 10am. I know two weeks are not so long, but I feel our stay was much shorter than I thought. As I mentioned before, it is my first time to visit Europe, and it became a great experience for me. I visited a lot of museums and galleries and see art works from a close distance. I saw various kinds of art works; classical, contemporary, and street arts. Some of them inspired me a lot as a person who create art. Also London town itself influenced me a lot too. In my free time, I walked around London and visited most of popular places. I ate British traditional food a lot such as fish & chips (three times), English full breakfast (four times), scorns (three times), Beef Wellington, Fudge, black pudding, tea, afternoon tea set, and so on. I found my favorite places; Covent Garden Market Place, the National Gallery and Piccadilly Circus area. I could learn about London through this experience. I had few regrets about my stay.
On Thursday, January 21, my spring classes start (I don’t have class on Wednesday). My London art seminar classmates seem to be pleased to go back to the US because it is their hometown and they can meet their family there. I am an International student, and all of my family members are in Japan. I am little sad, but ok, because this is they way I chose. After I arrive at the US, I have three days to rest before the spring semester starts. I will overcome my jet lag during that time and prepare for new classes! Also I have a big assignment for this London art seminar class, which is an art work in any medium inspired by or related to the London trip and write four-page paper due by March 4, 2016. I always have a pleasure of studying in my mind and do my best to improve my self. There is no limit!
Thank you for reading. See you on my next post!
Today, I want to tell you about beautiful places I have been in London.
The first place is the London Eye. I walked across the river Thames and rode on the London Eye, which was a giant Ferris wheel in London. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK. It is 443 feet tall and we can enjoy a fine view of London from it. I was surprised by its size because over 10 people could fit in it at once. We could watch Big Ben from there.
The Covent Garden is my best place in London. I love its variety of shops, pretty ornaments, delicious food and friendly people. I have been there three times because it is near from where I stay and I don’t get tired of it because of its vastness. I love Covent Garden. I want to visit there before I go back to the US on Sunday…
I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral and up the stairs of 550 steps! I didn’t know that it had so many steps, and it made me perspire sweaty. But, the view from the top of the Cathedral was magnificent. I could look down London and felt like the Cathedral controlled all of London. I am a big fan of the architecture itself, sculptures and paintings. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay there so long at that time, so I will go there in the early morning next time if I visit London again.
I went to the Sherlock Holmes Museum. I got lost on the way to the museum, and I walked around the Baker street for about 40 minutes. It was a very cold day and I was so tired when I arrived the destination, so I entered just a shop, not the main museum. When I went to the restroom, I got so excited because found a little room which looks like movie set. I was not a huge Sherlock Holmes lover, but I could enjoy the museum.
This building is called SIS (Secret Intelligence Service), and James Bond in the movie 007 is a member of it. I couldn’t enter inside.
Big Ben! It is one of the most famous buildings in London. I was fascinated its gorgeous and beautiful Gothic ornaments.
I went to the Kew Garden with my classmates and professor as a class activity. First, we visited the Marianne North Gallery. It was amazing. In the first room, there were numerous plants paintings on all round the walls. After the first room, there was an exhibition of plants, especially fruits paintings and drawings. Most artists were women and they were finished delicately and looked so real. It was one of my favorite museum ever. After that, we went to the Palm House. The air inside was so warm and I felt so good because outside was freezing. We found a peacock in front of the gift shop. Overall, the Kew Garden was a beautiful place. I want to visit again in spring.
I picked up some places which I want to share with you and recommend. London is a pretty little place. I want you to visit here when you have a chance. Thank you for reading!
As the Art Seminar class, we visit art museums and galleries, go to the traditional places, meet up in the professor’s room for presentations and discussions, and post our experience on our blog while we stay in London. Museums or galleries (and special exhibitions) we go are the British museum, Tate Modern (the Mexican artist Abraham Cruzvillegas’ Turbine Hall Installation), National Gallery (GOYA Portraits Exhibition), Barbican (the World of Charles and Ray Eames and the Forever Loop), National Portrait Gallery (Giacometti Exhibition), Serpentine Sackler Gallery, Princess Diana Memorial, Victorian and Albert Museum, Courtauld Collection (Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat), Tate Britain (Frank Auerbach Exhibition), Marianne North Gallery at Kew Garden, Saatchi Gallery, and Newport Street Gallery (Damien Hirst art collection). Also we go to the London Eye, Gielgud Theater ( the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime), the self-guided City Public Art Street Tour, Old Spitalfields Market and Shoreditch Street Art Tour as a class. We have four class meetings at professor’s flat, and each of us does presentation about British history. We have seven students, and themes of our presentations are 1. pre-historic Britain, Roman Britain, and the middle ages which includes an overview of the early history of the England including the Druids, Romans in Britain (the city of Bath) 43AD-410, the Norman Conquest (French invasion of Britain), the era of the Crusades, 100 Year War, War of the Poses, etc, up to the year 1450, 2. Henry the Eighth and the church of England followed by the Elizabethan age, which explains how and why England broke away from the Catholic Church establishing the Church of England under Queen Elizabeth I, i.e. Shakespeare, beating the Spanish Armada, 3. the industrial revolution begins in England from 1760 to 1850 and Charles Dickens’ London, 4. Victorian England from 1837 to 1901, 5. British Empire and colonialism starting with North America including the U.S. then India, Africa, Australia, 6. England in World War I including the class system in England, what Britain was like before WWI and how it changes after WWI, and 7. England in WWII, what the British went thru, how the US helped Britain, and what England was like after WWII. It is interesting that we can learn the background of British history while we are in London. After some presentations, we discuss about what we see and think about the places we went. On Tuesday January 12, we did a pot luck and brought some British food. I bought caramel & sea salt flavor fudge from Harrods.
Let me explain my favorite art works I fond.
Vincent van Gogh, the National Gallery
It looks gold from a distance. He used yellow as a color of hope and friendship. He said it was a “idea symbolizing gratitude.” He liked this painting a lot and hung on the wall of the guest bedroom, which his friend, Paul Gauguin, stayed. I was very pleased to watch this painting. It gives me a passion and joy and makes me motivated. I also like how he painted background. It is just a single color, but the direction of the brush stroke is various. It also reminds me an active and positive impression.
Joseph Mallord William Tuner, the National Gallery
The Fighting Temeraire (1839)
It depicts a last journey of the Temeraire, which is a famous warship sold by the Royal Navy in 1838. He contrasts the veteran ship, seen against the setting sun, with the modern stream propelled tug. I the contrast of the united soft color and dark shadows. There is no clear borderline between the sky and sea.
Thank you for reading!