Within a week of being in London, I have seen SIX performances: Wonderland, Nederlands Dans, King Lear, Shakespeare in Love, Adler & Gibb, and Enduring Song. Every week will basically be like this, so I really cannot believe how much theater I will get to see on this program! The tickets were covered in tuition, because seeing the shows is basically part of the curriculum itself.
During my free time, I feel like there are usually three options: Hang out with my classmates and whatever they have planned to do (which would have to be similar to what I wanted to do in the first place), hang out with myself (which would usually mean I wanted to do something different than other people), or rest in my dorm and recharge my batteries.
This past week, much of my free time was spent with the other people on my program because everybody wanted to do all of the touristy stuff in London. One day we went to the South Bank, the other day we went to Hyde Park. Still another day we spend walking around Buckingham Palace and the Westminster area, and another day we explored Tate Modern.
I feel like there are definitely both pros and cons to exploring with a big group of people (4+) versus a small group of people (1-3). In a big group, you’re definitely safer, you have familiar people to talk to, and you can bounce information off of each other. But sometimes big groups can get confusing when it isn’t clear who’s supposed to provide the directions, or when choosing a restaurant to eat at. Big groups can also cause unnecessary drama, which could be stifling and uncomfortable at times, especially if you don’t know other people in the group very well. In smaller groups, there is very little drama because you know the people better (or at least hopefully decisions are reached easier), less time is spent coordinating and more time is spent exploring, and there is more opportunity to meet new local people. However, smaller groups mean fewer brains, and depending on when and where you are, it could be less safe. My approach is whatever practical works: if I want to do what others also want to do, I might as well go with them. If I have personal plans, with a friend or two or by myself, it’s perfectly fine as well as long as I know where I am, where i’m going, how to get back, and that it is early enough for it to be safe. In either scenario with more or less people, I try to have as much fun as possible, and to take in London as much as possible.
Today I spent much of it on my own— reading in a coffee shop, a garden, and even a hair salon as I got my first perm ever (in Chinatown, in London!). I also met a young lady working in a bookstore, who told me that she’s been working in central London for a year now but STILL feels like she’s only scratched the surface of getting to know London. How much more, then, have I only scratched the surface—maybe even just TOUCHED the surface—of London…Well, I feel pretty rested to start a new week of learning, experiencing, and exploring!