Friday morning was meet gleefully as it was the first morning this week that we were not expected to have read another play or piece of literature. Instead, we slept in a little late, and headed across the street for a light brunch. We had been given plans for the day by Fulbright just like the Friday before. After brunch we were to report to a Fulbright ‘Masterclass’ at the Strand Building. There, we had a long lecture and discussion about the intricacies and differences in the American and United Kingdom Health Systems. We only had a few hours with our mentors, so we were only able to scratch the surface of an enormous topic, but a lot was learned. Most of us ended up being very surprised and impassioned for healthcare reform in our own nation.
Afterwards, the five of us had a few hours to kill before our reception that was the main event of the day. We decided to head over to King’s Cross train station to take pictures at Platform 9 3/4 from Harry Potter. The line was ridiculously long, but the pictures were free and the employees taking them were extremely enthusiastic. It took longer than expected so we had to run back to our dorms in order to get read for our presentation. Yesterday was extremely hot and humid, so I made the decision of walking to the building dressed down with the intention of changing into my full apparel after I got there. This decision was good because by the time I reached the Strand building, I was again soaked in my own sweat (this country is not keen on air conditioning) and I was ready to freshen up for this event that had been built up so much. Unfortunately, I had made what I thought at the time to be a pretty bad mistake – I forgot my belt. I was very worried about it at first, but after the reception was under way for a little while, I discovered that almost no one noticed, and those that did thought it was an intentional fashion statement. I was told by my tutor that as long as you’re confident, in regards to fashion anyone can get away with anything in this city.
The gathering itself was above all else, extremely flattering. There were rumors that the US Ambassador may have been there, but any truth that those rumors may have had where thwarted by the recent invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel. The amount of people present at this event that was particularly for us King’s Fulbrighters was very surprising – it did not occur to me just how many people either helped with or had a vested interest in our program and us. We met with many of King’s and Fulbright’s officials, and a lot of small talk about our time here and how we’re liking the country was had. The vice principal had a few congratulations to give us before we took the stage to present to these people our impressions of the program and our education thus far. I am proud to say that our words and video were well received. The reception lasted about two hours, and as more and more people left, I came down to just the five of us and our tutors. We had a great little talk and then we decided to all go out to dinner.
Though it was very hot in my suit, we trekked far out into this city to a Thai restaurant on the recommendation of the Summer School Office administrator, Dominika, that had helped us so much. It was a chore to find the location, and was located in a very interesting and clearly sexually independent part of the city, but the food, as she said, was well worth it. The pad thai was absolutely delectable. While after that some of our group decided they wanted to stay out and have fun on the City’s Friday night, I was feeling very tired and a bit dehydrated so I went home early and headed to bed. Besides, I had big plans for tomorrow.
In the morning, we all met up again and headed to Borough Market, the same market I went to last weekend on my own. Our intention was to visit a bakery we had been told about for breakfast. Apparently the donuts were to die for – spoiler, they are. It was very interesting eating them because while contained much more sugar on the outside of the dough and much more cream on the inside, overall the pastry was much less sweet than in the States. To much surprise, I much preferred it this way.
I unfortunately (or rather very fortunately) had to break off from the group at this point to fulfill my actual plans for the day. Today I got to see through on a plan that has been about three years in the making. After making my way through Trafalgar square, seeing some street performers, and the protest against the Israeli embassy, I was met by two of my peers from the Theatrical London class to see “The Book of Mormon”. I simply cannot describe either how badly I wanted to see this musical or how hysterical it was. It simply lived up to every high expectation. Luckily for me, I was able to talk to my tutors, and my entire reason for being able to see this play in the first place while I was here is because it is actually going to be the topic of my final essay for the class. The final topic may evolve, but I would like to discuss the relationship between specifically vulgar and immature humor to social commentary. Satire is a well-worn genre, but Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s childish slandering is one of a kind, while at the same time achieving great heights of social insight.
After the play, I headed to the sketchiest part of London that I have been to yet – Camden Town. I met up with the other Fulbrighters there, but as I waited for them to meet with me, I discovered that we chose our rendezvous point particularly poorly. Between the many hundreds of people, including clear alcoholics, drug addicts, homeless, and legitimately crazy people, the trash that lay on the streets everywhere, and the endless shops on Camden street, the place was utter chaos in my opinion. Some people there seemed to be having a fantastic time. Thankfully night hadn’t fallen yet so it still felt relatively safe. We made our exit into a very American themed BBQ restaurant called Porky’s. It was charming to hear Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, and “This Land is Your Land” over the speakers in this overly american sideshow.
Very full, we made our way to the last sight of the day, Primrose Hill. The hill, very steep looking form the bottom and not so much from the top, was a difficult climb after eating large amounts of pulled pork, but man was the view amazing. We could see the entire London skyline from the top of that hill, along with many couples young and old unabashedly making out in the park. We laughed at first, but it really was very romantic, and I couldn’t help but miss my girlfriend back home. We spent a good amount of time there, and we laughed heartily and often.