Friday, July 23, 2010

Feminist London - Days 20 & 21

I think this is going to be my last post! We're moving to a hotel near Heathrow tomorrow, so I don't know if I'll have internet access.

Yesterday was a pretty slow day. We had a class meeting in the morning and I spent the afternoon doing some GRE studying and thinking about my Honors Thesis (which I just found out that I was officially accepted to do! Woohoo!)

Today was much more exciting. First, we went as a group to visit the grave of Emmeline Pankhurst, the great English suffragette. So that was cool, but I felt a little weird taking smiley group pictures in a cemetery. Oh well. After that, I went to the British Library where they were having a big exhibition on maps, which was pretty cool. I'm really glad I went back though, because they had a bunch of different manuscripts on display in their "Treasures" collections than they did when Eddy and I went over Christmas. This time I was able to see the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight manuscript, which was so cool!

Also today, Anna and I went to see Les Miz! We had the worst seats possible and could only see about 2/3 of the stage. That was fine for the most part, except Eponine died in the corner of the stage that I could not see at all, but we could hear everything just fine. The most ridiculous part of the show was Marius, who was played by Nick Jonas. Of the Jonas brothers. Seriously. He was surprisingly good!

From Feminist London July 23
Bed now. I have to finish packing in the morning!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Feminist London - Day 19

The days are beginning to wind down! Today was a free day, and I spent the majority of it at the theater! I went back to Regent's Park to see a production of "Macbeth" in the afternoon. It was a production specifically aimed at children, so the play was condensed a bit, but most of the original language was preserved. I thought it was a really odd choice to turn into a children's play, as it's a really gruesome story, but I thought it was really well done.

From Feminist London July 21

The puppets are the Weird Sisters. Very creepy!

In the evening I went with Anna and this friend of her grandfather's that she was meeting up with (I was there for moral support) to see the play "Warhorse" which was just amazing. It's the story of this boy from Devon who raises a horse that eventually is sold by his father to the cavalry at the onset of WWI. Even though the boy is only 16, he enlists in the army to try to find his horse and bring it back to England. The show was incredibly moving in how it portrayed the affects of WWI not just on people, but on the animals as well. But the puppetry of the horses was just unbelievable. The puppets were so complex that it allowed the puppeteer to make it seem like the horse was breathing. So cool!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Feminist London - Day 18

This week has turned into the week of plays! We went to see "The Woman in Black" today, which was just a terrifying as I remember it. Dr. Smith assigned the book that the play is based on for our class, so we discussed that before hand and then headed off to see the show. There were a bunch of younger school groups in the audience, so there was so much screaming during the scary bits! I don't think I've ever seen a play or movie where the audience actually screamed like that. It was quite funny really. I absolutely loved the show, and am planning on writing my final paper on a feminist analysis of the books. I think it's such a good ghost story!

We have another free day tomorrow, and I'm going to see two plays! I'm going back to the open-air theatre at Regent's Park to see "Macbeth" and then I'm going with Anna and some family friends of hers to see a play called "War Horse." Her grandparents are insisting that she go meet some of their friends who live in London (who she's never met before) so she's dragging me along for moral support - I can't protests, since I'm getting a free meal and play out of it.

Only five more days left! I'm so bummed!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Feminist London - Day 17

I feel much more lively today! Hurray!

Since I was so tired yesterday, I decided to take today pretty easy. Anna and I headed to Leicester Square this morning to try to get half priced tickets to go see Les Miz (which, sadly, we were unable to do). After that, I spent a long time at Regent's park, just walking around, taking way to many pictures of birds (they have black swans!) and doing some studying for my class and for the GREs.

During my stroll around the park, I happened upon their rather famous open air theatre and decided to splurge and by myself a couple of tickets. I went and saw Shakespeare's "The Comedy of Errors" tonight, which was just lovely.

From Feminist London July 19

They set it in 1940's Casablanca and added a couple of song and dance numbers - hilarious! My seat was way in the back, but I still had a great view of the stage. I'm going again Wednesday afternoon to see Macbeth, which I'm hoping will be equally as enjoyable. I was a bit disappointed that we didn't see any actual Shakespeare when we went to the Globe, so I'm making up for it by going to these two shows!

We have a class day tomorrow and then we're seeing "The Woman in Black" in the afternoon. This week is just filled with theater!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Feminist London - Day 16

Tonight I feel really worn out. I'm not sure why though. Today wasn't really an active, walking around town kind of day. I think all the activity from the past 16 days has just caught up on me and now I'm just exhausted.

Today we went to the Globe Theatre to see a play. Not a Shakespearean play, sadly. There wasn't anything playing that Dr. Smith could relate to our class, so we ended up going to a reading of the 1682 play "Virtue Betrayed or Anna Bullen" by John Banks. This play was written as a kind of sequel to Shakespeare's "Henry VIII." The two plays were ofter performed concurrently in Banks' time.

I honestly don't have anything really intelligent to say about the play, because I'm super tired. More tomorrow.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Feminist London - Day 15

Whew. I'm tired.

Today was a free day, so Anna, Lidia and I spent the day at the British Museum! It's so big! And so full of stuff! And people! The last time I came to the British Museum, I left the memory card out of my camera and could only take about 5 pictures. I guess I wanted to make up for it this time, so I took about 300. Which, in retrospect, was kind of ridiculous.

From Feminist London July 17

We spent 4 hours in the museum and there are still big chunks of it that I haven't seen. I skipped most of the sections that Eddy and I saw last December (I had to go back and take pictures of all the medieval stuff) and looked at the Asian, African, Middle Eastern and parts of the European artifacts. It's an amazing museum! And I'm so tired now. I always forget how tiring it is to go to museums, especially giant, overwhelming ones like the British Museum.

It's worth it though.

Off to the Globe tomorrow!

Friday, July 16, 2010


I just logged on to facebook and noticed that it's suggesting that I become a fan of Oprah Winfrey, Lady Gaga, and the TV show House, all because I'm a fan of Barack Obama. Apparently people who like Obama like all of those things as well. I'm really amused by this.

Also, I just saw the preview for the movie about the creation of facebook. It looks pretty dreadful and I really don't understand why anyone would make that movie. Is it really that dramatic of a story? I guess I need to see it and find out.

Feminist London Day 14

Day fourteen! I can't believe that it's been two weeks already! I'm not nearly ready to go home yet.

Today was another museum day (though, to be honest, most days are museum days!) We went as a group to the Florence Nightingale museum, as we had briefly studied her along with Mary Seacole (another nurse working during the Crimean war) in our class. The museum is pretty small, but details her life, her work during the war, and how she revolutionized nursing. For a small museum, it packed in a lot of information!

After a group lunch at a nearby Japanese place

From Feminist London July 16

I headed off to the Imperial War museum, which was way more depressing than I remember it being. Really, I guess I should have seen that coming. I went through the sections on the First and Second World War, the British Secret Service, modern international conflicts, and the Holocaust memorial. (I didn't take too many pictures from this museum, cause I thought that would be a little tacky). It's a really well done museum, but it's left me feeling a little gloomy.

We have a free day tomorrow and I think a bunch of us are going to tea in the morning and then to the British Museum. Eddy and I went last Christmas, but we barely saw any of the museum; hopefully I'll be able to spend a lot more time there tomorrow!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Feminist London Day 12 & 13

Sorry for the belated post! I tried to do this last night, but blogger was being funky.

We've had horrible weather for the past couple of days! It's been all cold and rainy.

From Feminist London July 14

Having been warned that London in July would be horribly hot and sunny all the time, I so did not pack for this kind of weather. I only have one pair of pants! Oh well. I have my raincoat at least, so I'm not totally unprepared.

We went to Anti-Slavery International yesterday, the oldest non-profit social-justice organization in the world. We had a woman from Seattle give us a lecture on human trafficking in our area before we left, so this talk was meant to compliment what we already knew about human trafficking in the States and show us what goes on in Europe. The organization focuses on more than just human trafficking, but that issue was mostly what we talked about. It seems like a really cool organization, that works on a national and international level to end modern day slavery (which, I'm sure, many people don't even realize exists.)

Today was a bit tense because we've been having a bit of in-fighting within our group. I suppose that's bound to happen when you have 11 adults spending so much time together, but it definitely throws off the whole group dynamic and makes everything uncomfortable. We had a big mix up in communication this morning, dealing with a group plans for today, and a couple of girls just blew up at each other. Thankfully, I wasn't involved!

Anyway. After everyone cooled down, we went to a coffee shop to have our class discussion about our visit to Anti-Slavery International as well as our readings about Mary Seacole and Florence Nightengale. I love how informal our class days are. All we do is just sit together and talk about stuff, which I think is how the best classes go. I sometimes feel like this class could be much more focused on the academics, but I don't mind too much that it's not!

I went with Uliana, Diana, and Ryan to the Natural History Museum after our class, which was enormous!

From Feminist London July 15

We were able to get through the exhibits on dinosaurs, insects, plants, human physiology, and marine invertebrates before the museum closed at 6. We spent a good three hours there and barely covered a third of it! I would love the opportunity to go back, but I doubt I'll have time.

Off to the Florence Nightingale Museum tomorrow!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Book Review - Selling Olga

Selling Olga: Stories of Human Trafficking (Phoenix Paperback Series)Selling Olga: Stories of Human Trafficking by Louisa Waugh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

We read Selling Olga for my course, as an introduction to a more modern feminist and social justice issue - having spent most of the class reading older texts about the women's rights movement, this text was definitely needed to ground our course in what is going on in the now. Before leaving Seattle, we had a speaker come in to talk about human trafficking in Seattle; this text offers an interesting comparison between the two situations.

Louisa Waugh sets on a mission to research human trafficking, focusing mainly on Europe, more specifically the Balkans, Italy, and Britain. The books is a record of her trip throughout these states to discover the root causes of human trafficking, to see what is being done to aid those who have been trafficked, and to hear the testimony of these people, to see just what happened to them.

The text focuses almost exclusively on sex trafficking, which I found to be somewhat problematic. Waugh states that one of the aims of her book is to refute the claim that all people who are trafficked are victimized sex slaves, yet she seems to confirm this stereotype by focusing so heavily on sex trafficking. She briefly mentions that trafficked migrants are also forced in construction and agricultural work, yet only cites one example.

Despite this, the stories of the trafficked women that the books mainly focuses on are completely devastating. One of the major strengths of this book is their testimony of how they were trafficked, what happened to them, and how they escaped; Waugh (I assume) leaves this testimonies in the women's own words, making them extremely powerful. Ultimately, the books is an excellent introduction to the problem of human trafficking across Europe.

View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Feminist London - Day 11

Ahhh. Today was a much needed day of rest. Originally we were going to have a class day in the morning, discussing our trips to many museums of the past few days and Virgina Woolf's A Room of One's Own and then do a walking tour of the area where the Bloomsbury group - a group of artists and intellectuals that included Woolf and her husband - lived and worked. But when we met in the morning, we realized that a gray and rainy day was not the best setting for a walking tour! The walk is postponed until Friday and we all had a free afternoon.

We were unable to reserve a classroom on the University of Westminster campus for any of our class days, so we've been having class in odd places. The first time we had class in a nearby park, the second in the hall's common room, and this time in the kitchen of the 19th floor, where some of us are living.

I spent the afternoon reading Selling Olga, a study of human trafficking in Europe. We're visiting the headquarters of Anti-slavery International, one of the oldest non-profit, social justice organizations in the world, so the books is meant to give us a background on the practices of human trafficking going on today. The books is a fascinating, if depressing read; after reading so many historical texts relating to feminist issues, I think its really good that we're dealing with a more contemporary issue that disproportionately affects women.

On a cheerier note, Anna and I bought a six pack of chocolate mousse from Tesco's for 78p. We were super excited.

From Feminist London July 13


Feminist London - Day 10

Sadly, there will be no pictures today because I completely forgot to bring my camera!

Today we had another big museum day and went to the National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Since we were all so tired from yesterday's big museum day, we went out and got waffles and ice cream for breafast, so we'd have sustenance throughout the day! We didn't meet as a group, but Dr. Smith had us all go and see the Rokeby Venus by Velazquez. In 1914, a woman who was part of the British women's suffrage movement took an axe to it as a form of protest. When I went to see the painting, I was surprised by how hard it was to detect the damage that she had done; the museum had repaired it so well that the cut marks looked just like the normal cracks in the painting.

I found the Portrait Gallery to be a bit dull, but really enjoyed the paintings of the Tudor period. The more modern paintings were also much more interesting to me, as they were painted in an (obviously) more modern and experimental style, but there was a whole lot in between to slog through.

Class day tomorrow!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Feminist London - Day 9

Today I had a very trying morning that thankfully was more than made up for by a wonderful day at the Tate Britain and Tate Britain, and the fact that Spain won the World Cup! Go Spain!

Anyway. I had to put money on my oyster card today, couldn't do it with either my debit or credit cards, got lost trying to find a bank to get cash, finally got the money on my oyster card, walked forever to get the bus to the Tate Britain, only to have the bus diverted for about 20 minutes because there's some kind of marathon going on in London. When I finally get to the Tate, everyone had gone to the other entrance, so I was freaked, thinking that I had gone to the wrong Tate first. Whew.

Luckily, I met up with the rest of my group pretty quickly after I got into the museum. The Tate Britain was lovely, but I think I really preferred the Tate Modern. This was one of my favorite paintings:

From Feminist London July 11

Picasso "The Three Dancers" 1925

I wasn't supposed to take pictures, but I sneakily took a couple. We took a boat between the two Tates, where I discovered just how nasty the river Thames is. The water is completely brown! Yuck.

Later we went to the Marylebone pub to watch the World Cup. Most of the crowd were for Spain (as they should have been) but there were two really loud and obnoxious Netherlands supporters. We showed them though!

Another museum day tomorrow - The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery - but we're free to go to those whenever we want. A group of us are sleeping in and then going out for waffles. Yum!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Feminist London - Days 7 & 8

Sorry for the belated post! We went out for a drink Friday night, and I got back around 11:30 - too late to blog when I knew I had to get up early to meet Eddy's parents in the morning!

Friday started with a bit of a mishap. We were headed to the Women's Library, when we realized that we only knew how to get the tube station nearby, not how to get from that tube station to the library. It's a pretty obscure place, so of course no one on the street knew how to get there. When we finally found it, the tour had already started and Dr. Smith was a bit peeved with all of us.

From Feminist London July9

The Women's Library is just what it sounds like: a research institution devoted to women's history, women's issues, feminism, etc. It has a huge archive of material to do research, and the idea was that we'd start doing research on our final papers there. I'm still not sure what I want to write mine on, but it was still really neat to go and see.

After that we explored the area around Brick Lane, the historic Bangladeshi area of London. We watched the film Brick Lane for our course, which is the story of a Bangladeshi woman's experience in London - I really enjoyed this film! Lots of shopping followed, until we were exhausted by the heat and headed back to the hall. We went out for a drink later to celebrate our first week in London!

From Feminist London July 10

Today, I got up early and met Eddy's dad and step-mum at the Tower of London. We had a terrific time! The crown jewels of the English monarchy are on display there - which are just stunning - and they had an exhibit on royal armory from Henry VIII's time until today. It was still super hot, but not as bad as yesterday. Later we went to Covent Garden, a big shopping and restaurant area for Indian food. Lovely! I had some trouble on the way back to the hall, as they had closed down certain parts of the underground for repair, but I finally made it back safe and sound.

Tate Britain and Tate Modern tomorrow!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Feminist London - Day 6

Another fairly slow day today! Which is sometimes nice. We had a class discussion day, and had Finn McKay, the founder of the London Feminist Network. She was super nice and told us all about her organization, the activism work that it does, as well as a brief history of the modern UK feminist movement and how it's changed in the last 30 years or so.

After the talk we went out for delicious thai food and I somehow ended up going on a shopping spree with a bunch of the girls afterwards. (Seriously. I have no clue how this happened. I was walking with them, thinking that we were just going back to the hall and all of a sudden we're in an H&M.)

This happened later as I was trying to go to Regent's Park to do some studying and then caught up with people going grocery shopping - all of a sudden I'm carrying tons of groceries back to the hall.

From Feminist London July 8

Later some of us got together to watch the film Brick Lane, the story of a Bangladeshi woman's experience in London. We'll be visiting Brick Lane tomorrow after our tour of the London Women's Library, and I'm expecting some good food out of the visit!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Feminist London - Day 5

Not too much happened today. We spent the morning exploring Westminster Abbey, which is totally overwhelming. Not only is the building so impressive from the outside that you feel that you will never be able to take everything in, the inside is stuffed full of people - living and dead. There are tombs and memorials to fascinating people in every nook and cranny of the abbey. You would have to stay there for days to adequately see everything.

From Feminist London July 7

Sadly, I didn't have that much time or stamina. They provide you with a guided audio tour - narrated by Jeremy Irons no less (at least the English version) - that takes you around to the most famous attractions. As a group we did what Virginia Woolf tells all women who make their living through writing and literature to, which was visit the grave of Aphra Behn, the first English woman to earn her living through her writing. So that was pretty cool. Though, as she is a pretty obscure figure, you could tell that all the people around us were wondering why were getting so excited over a completely unremarkable grave.

I, of course, was really excited to see Poets' Corner, where many famous artists and literary figures - including Chaucer!! - are buried. As I was walking away, I happened to find a floor panel dedicated to Caedmon, the only Anglo-Saxon poet whose name we know. He isn't buried there or anything, but I thought it was really cool that he's celebrated there.

After I finished with the abbey, jet lag must have caught up with me, because I was super tired. I headed back to the hall for a quiet afternoon and evening of study. Lovely.

Class day tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Feminist London - Day 4

Well, I was expecting today to be a pretty relaxing, but it ended up being super busy! We had our first class session this morning, discussing Mary Wollstonecraft and Bathsua Makin for 10-12. We don't have a classroom anywhere to do the actual class portion of the course, so we went to a nearby park and sat in a lovely gazebo.

I had planned to go by myself to visit Southwark Cathedral today - the cathedral where medieval poet John Gower is buried - but Anna and Christina decided to go with me, making the trip much more exciting.

From Feminist London July 6

Instead of just going to the cathedral (which was stunning - though I was quickly informed that I couldn't take pictures inside without a permit...I snuck some of Gower though), we ended up finding the ruin of a medieval palace, a random Elizabethan ship, and the Clink Prison museum! Apparently the Clink Prison is where we get the slang term "clink" from. It was a bit silly, with spooky lighting and random noises, but really fun. It's one of those places where you can put your friends in the stocks and take pictures and things.

We found some dinner after that at another Italian place. I officially need to go to a pub and get fish and chips! But we were given a little coupon book on the Big Bus tour yesterday, with a coupon for the Spaghetti House, so we figured we might as well.

Off to Westminster Abbey tomorrow!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Feminist London - Day 3

Today I am absolutely enamored of the London bus system. It's great! Not only are the double decker buses just fun to ride on, (though kind of terrifying if the bus starts moving when you're only halfway up the stairs), but there are maps at nearly every station that outline the major routes and alphabetically list destinations that you might want to go to. So, after our bus tour was over and I wanted to head back to the Hall while Anna and Christina wanted to continue shopping, I just hopped on a bus and easily found my way back. Seattle has a whole lot to learn!

The London bus tour was fun, if a bit touristy. I took tons of super blurry pictures as we were riding around, but it was really cool to be able to see all the well known spots of London within 2 hours. We drove by Big Ben right when it was striking 12!

From Feminist London July 5

We went to Harrods after the tour and I bought prezzies for people, so be excited. Then I headed back to the hall to do some studying - tomorrow is our first class day, so I have some reading to do!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Feminist London - Day 2

Happy Fourth of July Americans! I feel a bit unpatriotic here, but oh well.

It was a bit of a slow day today, which was nice since we're all still jet lagged and fuzzy brained. I got up early and walked around Regent's park, which is HUGE and only a few blocks from our hall. I'm going to try to get up early and go for a walk every morning.

From Feminist London July 4

We all met as a group for breakfast as a little coffee shop near by, and then split up to explore on our own. Most of us took a bus to Camden Town where Dr. Smith had recommended a 99p store. We stocked up on needed supplies and then explored the market area.

I've spent to rest of the evening studying - catching up on my reading for this course and then doing some GRE prep. I have a ton of vocab words to work on! Yikes!

Sightseeing tour tomorrow!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Feminist London - Day 1

Well! I made it to London! I flew by myself internationally for the first time, waited a god-awful long time at customs, took the tube, lugged my suitcase up many stairs and finally made it to Marylebone hall, but only after walking up and down the street for about 15 minutes before I realized that I needed to get to the other side to get to where I wanted to go. Whew. Of course, by this time it was only 11, and I couldn't check in until 2.

I finally did check in, and settled in to my itty-bitty room, with it's cute, but slightly claustrophobia inducing bathroom.

From Feminist London July 3

It's like an airplane bathroom, only with a shower.

Sadly, all the members of our group are scattered throughout the 20 stories of Marylebone Hall, but I was lucky enough to be on a floor with two other girls - Christina and Annelise - who I went to dinner with (Italian - yum! The nearby pub was too full of soccer hooligans to go). The group is meeting for breakfast tomorrow at 10 - which seems super late to me - but then we have a free day for the rest of the afternoon. I don't have many plans yet, so we'll see what happens!