Sunday, July 8, 2012

First week of July! Classes.

Monday- Media and Politics
Our outing (after a frustrating class of our teacher on his soapbox harshly criticizing topics that are sensitive and then not listening to our viewpoints at all) was to the Imperial War Museum- full of tanks and planes and lots of war propaganda that we looked at. It was a very thorough museum with  wars and conflicts I had never heard of, and we looked mainly at media uses throughout a few major wars. It was pretty depressing overall, but the propaganda was interesting to look at and see the  differences throughout the progress of time.

I think the rest of the day was just back at the house, getting reading done for my classes, etc. Nothing too exciting!

Tuesday- Media and Society
We spent class time talking all about our final papers in groups and critiquing them. We talked about our topics and our progress with the professor and it basically took the whole class time. Our outing was to the Jewish Museum in Camden where a sweet old lady took us upstairs to give us a rundown of the museum, and then we had time to explore on our own. It was really interesting to see the history of Jewish culture and people in London throughout time.

Afterward, a group of us found a cheap Italian pizza place for lunch and all devoured our pizzas. It was so nice to finally have free time in between our classes for once...usually we are rushed to get to Culture By Design in time!

Culture by Design- we didn't have lecture, but instead met outside of class and went straight to the Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising in Notting Hill. I was looking forward to this outing just because it sounded different from all the other museums we've been to, and I was right. It was AWESOME. It was a tiny little place, but it was jam packed with stuff, and I wanted to stay there forever. It started out going decade by decade from 1900 to today, with the display cases full of food packaging, toys, posters and art and propaganda, fashion, games, etc. Basically anything with a brand and a package was there. It was so cool seeing how the trends changed throughout time, and seeing how many things still have stayed so similar and so true to their original design and packaging.

After that area, the displays shifted to show brands from their original creation throughout time to today. It would show, for example, Coca Cola, from the original can through every variation throughout the decades, ending in the current design. It struck me as fascinating how little most designs changed over time. I think it speaks volumes about the original designs themselves, that they truly have withstood the test of time and stayed true to their focus, which I thought was really cool. We have another media analysis project to write about this outing, and I'm really excited about it.

After spending a little less than an hour there, we rushed off to Westfield mall to look more at branded space. We went to the area of the shopping centre known as "The Village" aka the reaaaaallllyyyyy expensive stuff. We were sent off in small groups to look around and go in as many stores as we could in the time allowed, with the goal of deciding whether the spaces were classified as a "shed," "cathedral," or "museum." Sheds would be stores were everything is out and in the open and more available and perhaps more busy and cluttered and chaotic. Museums are where you go to study things, they are less accessible, more on display. Cathedrals would be the least accessible, with people going with the intent of worshipping or paying homage to the items. It was really cool to look at these designer stores that way and to classify them and to realize I really didn't like or want anything I saw. I'm much more of a thrifter and bargain shopper, and I'm 150% okay with that.

After that, we were done with classes for the day! We had a group meeting at 6:30, and then we were done for the day!

Wednesday (4th of July!)- Writing in the Public Sphere
Discussed four articles that were more current and more about the Internet playing into the public sphere, and it was really interesting, as it was topics I had covered in my paper (that I got an A- on, yay!). I had time to come up to my flat during class and look at several major news sources online and to analyze their comment forums and take notes on their effectiveness and their content, which was really interesting.

Our outing was to the Foundling Museum- an outing I had picked since some of our outings were duplicates from my other classes. Read more about it here! (

Afterwards, I was off to explore a new area of town on my own, about two streets over from where Madison House is. It just happened to be a random area of the neighborhood that I hadn't really explored yet, and after walking around for a while, I realized it's because there really isn't anything to see or do there except eat at places I've seen around town already. I stopped at a souvenir shop to pick up things for people, and then came home to relax. We were going to go to the Globe Theatre in the evening to see Taming of the Shrew and we were going to have to stand the whole time, so I knew I wanted to take it easy all day so my knee wouldn't hate me TOO much.

Griffin and I left to head to the theatre and our group all met up there. We had "groundlings" tickets, and I was excited for them because it was the true Shakespearean way of seeing his plays, but also really nervous about my knee holding up the whole time. I had the okay from Rusty to leave at any point if I needed to, but I love Taming of the Shrew and I really wanted to be able to see it all.

We stood at the back of the ground area, so we had a wall to lean up against and a little ledge to sort of sit on, and that helped a lot. The play was HILARIOUS and very well done! There was even quite a lot of nudity (saw much more male butt than I was ever expecting to...) and I seriously loved it. Such good actors, and such an awesome experience, and I made it the whole time! Walking to the tube station was miserable and it's been a few days and my knee is still suffering quite a lot, but so worth it.

It ended about 10:30 pm, and walking home across the Millennium Bridge at night was SO COOL. I hadn't been down by the river at night yet, and seeing the city all lit up was incredible. The new Shard building that is the highest point in the city now lit up in crazy colors, and had these green laser beams that shot out and around the city, ending on points like St. crazy. It was the closest thing we had to a Fourth of July fireworks show!

It was a little weird being in England on the 4th, and it made me a little sad, which I totally wasn't expecting! I'm not a big patriotic, let's go America kind of person anyway, so I usually am not too obsessed with the holiday, but I really just missed being with my family and friends and seeing fireworks and just having a relaxing summer evening. I realized I really have missed SUMMER. It hasn't felt like a true summer here hardly at all, and I didn't know that it would actually be something I came to miss.

I'm looking forward to coming home and having hot weather (not excited about the humidity though...) and being able to go to the pool and beach and not having cold weather and rain every day. It will be nice to have a real summer in the States.

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