Editor’s note: Danville native Trish Bredar submitted observations about London, England, where she spent a few months this spring.
My name is Trish Bredar. I am a native of Danville and a junior English major at Centre College. Thanks to Centre’s amazing study abroad program I, like so many of my classmates, have had the extraordinary opportunity to spend time studying in a foreign country.
This spring, I have been living and studying in London, England, with about 30 of my classmates. We live in a dorm-like residential building near King’s Cross Station, take classes with two Centre professors and two other local instructors, and, in our spare time, explore the great city of London.
There is no shortage of things to see and do here: theater, street markets, architecture, international cuisine, museums. Two months isn’t nearly enough time to do it all, but that hasn’t stopped me from trying.
A typical day in London starts with a 25-minute walk to class (never again will I complain about having to walk from one end of Centre’s campus to the other). On my way, I pass King’s Cross Station, where a mass of people commuting to and from work clog the sidewalks. London is a truly diverse city, with about a third of its population being foreign born, and I catch snippets of any number of different languages being spoken as I work my way through the crowds.
If the weather is nice, which is happening more and more often as spring finally takes hold in London, some of my friends and I usually eat lunch outside in a small square just outside our classroom building. London is dotted with these squares, refreshing little patches of green in the midst of the bustling city. When the sun comes out, the squares and parks are flooded with Londoners soaking up the sunshine while they can: socializing, having lunch, working or catching a quick nap on the grass.
After class, we have time to explore the massive playground that is London. Some of my favorites are the National Gallery, which offers one of the world’s greatest collections of art (for free!); Camden Market, where you can find just about anything for sale; and Hyde Park, a beautiful place and a great spot for people-watching.
For dinner, cooking is the cheapest option and, living in one of the world’s most expensive cities, we save money where we can. However, for an occasional splurge, no place has a wider selection of dining options than London. That aforementioned melting-pot effect applies to food as well; no type of cuisine goes unrepresented.
Dr. Samuel Johnson, whose works we are studying in one of my classes, once said “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Royal wedding fever
London, always an exciting and energetic place to be, is more alive than ever this spring. As expected, Royal Wedding mania has swept London and, from what I have seen, most of England. Perhaps the most obvious, and entertaining, effect of this wedding fever is the wide array of souvenirs now flooding the market. Mugs, magnets, plates and T-shirts, all emblazoned with photographs of William and Kate, are typical. However, some shops also are offering some less traditional memorabilia, such as “Kiss Me, Kate” beer, Kate and William masks, even full-sized refrigerators stamped with an image of the happy couple.
There is a definite air of anticipation, although I would venture to guess that, for many Londoners, this enthusiasm is closely tied to the four-day weekend afforded by the occasion.
As if the Royal Wedding weren’t enough, the sensation of excitement is further magnified by the fact that the countdown to the 2012 London Olympics has begun recently. A mammoth set of Olympic rings has been erected in St. Pancras Station, the underground stations are lined with advertisements for “the greatest tickets on earth,” and a countdown clock in Trafalgar Square ticks down the days until the opening ceremony.
All eyes are now on London, and will be for quite some time. The city seems to be flourishing under the spotlight.