Two day’s ago, after heading out with Emily and Margaret for a spectacular Afternoon Tea with scones, jam, and clotted cream, I headed back to the flats to finish off our last assignment and reading. 3000 words was much less than I anticipated and the following morning started the melancholy feelings I would be having for the next few days. The class discussion was just as great as always – we tried to define just what theatre is. We came to no real conclusion, as anything and everything can be theatre if we want it to be.
After class, we went to go see the last piece of theatre in London that we had planned – Billy Elliot. The musical was so much more than I expected, and I found that I was really moved by its music and story of a young man’s love for the ballet in a world of endless masculinity. Some of my particularly favorite songs were solidarity and Merry Christmas Maggie Thatcher. The show was surprisingly raunchy, though a lot of it was hard to pick up on because of the Northern England slang.
The moment the musical ended, the Fulbrighters, myself, and our tutor Vicky all headed over to the Strand campus one last time to wrap up and say our goodbyes to all the people that made this possible. We spent an hour just talking about our time here, and then we all headed off to one of the only experiences that none of us had yet but is oh so necessary to the London experience – Indian Food! Only two in our group had ever really had Indian food before so I was very thankful that all our native Londoner mentors were there to help us out – it was surprisingly sweet! I suppose its a bit like Chinese food in America, not really Chinese, but good all the same. We said goodbye to our mentors John and Adam, and finally to Valerie of the Fulbright Commission, the one who was really doing a lot of the work behind the scenes. Though it was the last time we would see them, I didn’t get too emotional because I still had one day left in the UK.
The next morning, I got up, went across the street to receive my certificate of completion for the course, and while the rest of the group split up over the city to enjoy their last day, I decided I was going to Cambridge. The train ride was very cheap and a little long, but I got a good four hours in the most beautiful place I have ever seen in my entire life. The sun was shining, the streets were busy for this small University town, and the river glistened in a way that I had never seen before. I spent most of my time just wandering down random streets in awe of academic buildings some of which were 700 years old. Nothing could have prepared me for just how beautiful Cambridge is. I unfortunately didn’t get to see the Computer Lab like I had planned to, but it was all made up for ten fold by the punting boat tour I took down the River Cam which runs straight through the town and passes by the most beautiful and ancient of the colleges there. It may have been a touristy experience, but I have rarely experience such serenity in my life. I took many pictures of the place that you can see in the flickr I’ve linked above. I may need to return someday.
That serenity ended with a mad dash for my train back to London for one last dinner with my group at 8:00. We went to an unremarkable italian restaurant, which was appreciated because it helped me reflect on the time that I’ve spent with the friends that I’ve made here. I’m really going to miss these guys a lot – they are truly wonderful people. On our way back to Stamford Street for the night, we all paused on the Waterloo bridge to soak in the sight of the city on last time – I didn’t need to take any photos for that moment because I will never let that last image fade.
I’m packing now, and we all have cabs to take us to the airport at different times of the morning tomorrow. I’m going to do my best to meet up with them each one last time to say goodbye, and I can only I hope I don’t get too emotional. I’m going to make one last post soon as a reflection on this whole experience, but in preface, the only thing I can feel for it now is complete and utter gratitude.