It was hard for me to narrow down what to talk about this week, because this past weekend I was in London, and like most big cities, London is full of things to do. There’s incredible, massive museums, long-standing architecture and even Platform Nine and Three-Quarters for the Harry Potter nerds among us. (I’m one of the Harry Potter nerds among us.) Another topic I considered was “The Mirror Abroad: Hurricane Edition” after Ireland got slammed by Hurricane Ophelia, but I was lucky enough not to see damage at my apartment and ‘avoid going outside for a day’ is a less than interesting concept for an abroad article. So London it was.
London is a massive city and with a population greater than New York City — it’s easily the largest city I’ve ever been in. There were parts of it that reminded me really starkly of my native Greater Boston Area. St. Paul’s Cathedral is topped with a dome reminiscent of Faneuil Hall, and there were parts of the West End that looked eerily similar to Harvard Square. Obviously, I loved everything about it: London is amazing; there’s so much to do and anyone who’s studying abroad should try to visit it. This is as close to a straight-up endorsement as I’m going to give in any of my columns.
One thing I really enjoyed was the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. It’s a massive art museum, with 2,300 paintings inside. It’s also free, which definitely helps out students studying abroad.
Inside the National Gallery was a temporary exhibit of paintings by Leonardo DaVinci and Michelangelo. Two of the Michelangelo paintings, “The Entombment” and “The Manchester Madonna,” were actually unfinished. When I looked at these paintings, with their large unpainted sections and sketched-out pieces, it reminded me that Michelangelo wasn’t just some superhuman who painted the Sistine Chapel: he was a real person and he left things unfinished, too.
The Gallery also housed several paintings from Van Gogh, including one of his famous sunflower paintings. I’ve seen this in countless books, movies and TV shows — even an episode of Doctor Who — but it was another thing entirely to see it in person. I had a moment of “wow” because something so famous was actually right there, only a few feet in front of me. The painting was just as colorful in person as it is in fiction.
Like every other art museum I’ve ever been in, the National Gallery has a very confusing layout; we actually got separated and lost on the way out. Not for long, because I was also able to see the other famous London sights, including the London Eye, Big Ben (under construction, which is understandable but mildly tragic), Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace.
And the Fairfield University Student Association may be taking a trip to see “Wicked,” but so did we. A few days before we left, we purchased tickets to see “Wicked” at the Apollo Theatre in London. It was absolutely incredible, admittedly not very different from “Wicked” in the U.S., but obviously with more British accents and for the past week I’ve found myself humming “What is this Feeling?” or “Popular” without realizing it.
So at the risk of being obnoxiously Bostonian and obnoxiously punny: London is wicked awesome.