Pre-trip Artifact – Relics of the Empire

Who: The Crown

What: The Coronation Spoon and Ampulla

Where: Tower of London

When: Tower of London construction started in the late 11th century, the Spoon was created in the late 12th century, the Ampulla was added in 1661

Why: Showcases the artifacts of the British Empire, from England and from its colonies

spoon

I illegally snapped this picture of the Spoon & Ampulla at the Tower of London. Marvel at it.

Pre-trip: Some would say the British are the greatest, most gloried group of thieves in human history. They bent and manipulated their subjects. Across their empire, they nabbed whatever riches they wished to keep. And they seem to hold the relics of the past close to their chests, even to this day. They represent the last vestiges of their once sprawling empire. They also highlight the might and promise that the monarchy holds, even though their only source of legitimacy in the present day is that the common people allow their existence. I was interested to see how the British would explain their conquests and imperialism to outsiders. Furthermore, I was curious to see what they felt about it themselves.

Post-trip: The Tower of London (as well as other structures, such as the British Museum) displayed the things the British have taken over the centuries from around the globe. This was not astounding. But I suppose what was astounding was how they justified the centuries of oppression and subjugation they carried out. They acknowledged how their attitudes towards “lesser” races changed, as they saw that they were advanced in their own right. They also seemed to acknowledge that not everything the Crown carried out was sacrosanct or justified. They are still proud of their history, however. And they still uphold traditions. The first picture shows the Coronation Spoon and Ampulla. The Ampulla, which contains holy oil, was used for the coronation of Charles II in 1661. As for the Spoon, it is believed to have been used in the coronation of King John in 1199. These practices have survived for centuries through the rise and fall of the British empire and monarchy, amongst other institutions and practices.

Never in the trip did I feel that the British offered an apology for the sins of the past. But they acknowledged them, and afterwards, chose not to dwell on them for too long and move on.

And I guess after all this time, that is enough, and we should all try our best to do the same.

Guard

Moments after this was taken, he threw down his rifle and started breakdancing.

Citation:

  • “Ampulla.” Royal Exhibitions. 2010. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://royalexhibitions.co.uk/crown-jewels-2/ampula/>.

Pre-trip Artifact – Tea

Who: Brits

What: TEA

Where: Teashops & the Orangery at Kensington Palace

When: Established 1704

Why: Authentic tea prepared by the “tea capital” of the world

tea2Delectable.

Pre-trip: When we think of tea, we often think of fancy British gentlemen with funny accents in powdered wigs sipping the stuff out of a cup gingerly placed on a delicate little saucer. I mean at least I do. This cliché and insulting thought aside, I was intrigued to see what role tea played in the daily lives of average Englishmen and women in the present day. Tea has, after all, been culturally associated with the British since the early days of colonialism. Our split from the Crown in the eighteenth century was exacerbated thanks to a taxation on the stuff. And in recent years, tea has started to make a more pronounced appearance in American coffee shops and supermarkets. From America, to the Middle East, and over to the Far East, tea has become a staple drink of the local populations. It seems that Britain is the tea drinking capital of the world, and its impacts on the beverage, and those that have chosen to adopt it, radiates out further and further with the passage of time.

Post-trip: I was taken aback by how much Earl Grey tea they drink! I am by no means a tea connoisseur, but personally, I prefer Red Label tea, an Indian variant of tea which is produced by what is actually a British company by the name of Brooke Bond. Nevertheless, I did not mind drinking Earl Grey tea. I certainly preferred it to coffee, which Americans consume by the gallon. There were also many wonderful little tea shops right along High Street Kensington that I would visit during some of the evenings. I also made liberal use of the kettle in my hotel room. Truth is, one of my favorite moments of the trip was when we went to the Orangery at Kensington Palace for tea time. Growing up, my family would always have tea and biscuits at around 5 PM, and we would sit around in our living room and talk as we sipped it. But I had never attended a proper tea “party,” where I was served tea and had to dress up formally. It was memorable and enjoyable, and something tells me that similar variants of it will begin to catch on here in the US in a few short years.

tea1

I await that glorious day.

Citation:

  • “Food and Drink.” Elegant Breakfasts, Lunches & Teas At Kensington Palace’s Orangery. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://www.hrp.org.uk/kensington-palace/visit-us/food-and-drink/>.

Pre-trip Artifact – Shakespeare’s Hometown

Who: William Shakespeare

What: Shakespeare’s home, grave, and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Where: Stratford Upon Avon

When: Early 16th century

Why: He is one of the most recognizable entertainers to have ever lived…and I got to see his house.

Shakespeare

Shakespeare and I.

Pre-trip: What is there to say about Shakespeare? I have grown up hearing about the man. He is a legend, not merely in a linguistic sense, but in a cultural one. He reshaped the way we think about ourselves. He reshaped the way we tell our stories. I must say, I was eager to see his house, not merely because it belonged to William freaking Shakespeare, but because a little over 30 years ago, my mother went with her parents and saw it. They took a picture of it from the outside, and I wanted to do the same to see how it had changed as time had passed. And while I could not upload her photograph of it on this, when I compared hers to mines, the house appeared nearly identical. Shakespeare has achieved a state timelessness, as has everything he left behind.

Post-trip: To see the home he grew up and lived in, as well as the grave he was laid in when he died, was humbling. It humanized Shakespeare for me. He was an ordinary man, like you and me. But he had a tremendous gift that he shared with the world. I was also enchanted by his hometown of Stratford Upon Avon. In America, our small towns are not like the ones in England, simply because structures so old do not exist in North America. To walk down the same antiquated streets and alleys that Shakespeare would have trekked along when he was around was mesmerizing. I also enjoyed our visit to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, as well as our group activity with one of the gentlemen who was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. And while I did not understand anything that was happening during the play we saw in the afternoon, it was wonderfully produced and acted out. The denizens of Stratford have kept their traditions alive, and Shakespeare lives on through them.

Citation:

  • “Shakespeare’s Birthplace.” Shakespeare’s Birthplace. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://www.visitstratforduponavon.co.uk/attractions/shakespeares-birthplace>.

Artifact Outside of Class – English Food

Who: The English locals

What: English cuisine

Where: Pubs and restaurants

Why: An opportunity to try the food the common English folk have been eating as a staple for centuries.

fish and chips

I bet you can smell the fish and chips just by looking at this picture. Potent stuff.

Pre-trip: During one of the class sessions, I asked Professor Hoar what the food the English eat was like, and I remember he told me that it was actually quite bland, at least until the days of colonialism, when spices from Asian countries were imported to England, thus enhancing the local cuisine’s flavor. I did not know too much about English food going into this trip. Fish and chips was about the extent of my knowledge. And of course, it was mentioned that we would likely come into contact with sizeable amounts of “bangers and mash.” Regardless of how little I knew, I was curious to try it, and I figured that once I was in London, I would head over to the nearest pub and get my hands on some proper English cuisine.

Post-trip: Well, it is actually quite bland. In fact, aside from the incessant rain, it was the only thing about London I just could not get myself to like. But if was cheap and filling, so for half my lunches, I was getting fish and chips at the local pubs. As for the pubs themselves, they were wonderful. The drinking culture in England is significantly different from that here in the States. And while the drinks themselves could get expensive, it was nice to visit the pubs with some friends every other night and chat with the friendly locals.

As for my dislike of the food, thankfully, it was not too large of a problem. In such a large, cosmopolitan city like London, cuisine from all around the world could be found. During my stay, I had Chinese, Indian, Thai, Italian, and Lebanese food. I never went hungry. And insults/ranting aside, I must say, the breakfast food in England was quite wonderful. I grew up eating bread with jam and butter for breakfast, along with sausages and copious amounts of tea, and the Copthorne Tara’s big breakfast buffet setup delivered on all of these fronts.

Breakfast

Miss you.

 

Artifact Outside of Class – War Memorials

Who: British soldiers

What: Imperial War Museum/Chelsea Pensioner’s

Where: London and Chelsea

When: Royal Hospital Chelsea has been housing veterans since 1692. The first of the Imperial War Museums was established in 1917.

Why: A glimpse into British military history, and how the British today look back on it.

Imperial War Museum

Say hello to my little friend.

Pre-trip: So I wanted to visit the Normandy landing sites in France, but once I realized I could not leave the UK, I decided to find some local museums or organizations dedicated to the British armed forces. I did not really know how they treated their veterans. Here in the United States, our veterans are treated with great respect for their gallantry and service. While the VA may be plagued with a host of problems, it would be a lie to say that the United States turns a blind eye on its soldiers.

Post-trip: It seems that for the British, World War II was their last war. There are still buildings with Luftwaffe aerial bombing damage in London. Churchill remains a revered figure in British politics and history even a half-century after his death. In one of the Tube stations, I saw an advertisement for jams which had a Spitfire in the background, and a woman in uniform in the foreground. The English hold their contributions in both World Wars close to their chests. In both conflicts, they were the underdogs who sacrificed much and persevered, coming out the victors in both incursions. I went to the Imperial War Museum and it had several stories dedicated to guns, tanks, and boats from the World Wars. I also ended up taking a trip down to the Chelsea Pensioner’s Hospital on my free day, and it housed scores of World War II veterans. Now all of this is wonderful, but I also feel it is a bit much, at least in the sense that I oft felt as if the British were romanticizing their roles in the World Wars. But more importantly, I feel they forgot to mention and thank the generations of soldiers that had to fight on behalf of the UK after the ‘40s.

And I hope they receive their fair share of recognition someday. Hopefully not in seventy (or a hundred) years, when their battles become a distant, distorted, and romanticized memory.

Chelsea

Chelsea Pensioner’s Hospital aka Burj Al Arab of nursing homes

Citations:

  • “History of the Royal Hospital Chelsea.” Royal Hospital Chelsea. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://rhc.linux.hs.to/historyheritage>.
  • “IWM London.” Imperial War Museums. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://www.iwm.org.uk/visits/iwm-london>.

Artifact Outside of Class – The Underground

Who: English commuters

What: The Tube

Where: Zones 1 to 4, subterranean London

When: Construction began in 1863. Extensions continue until the present day.

Why: A chance to get around the crowded, intimidating, and domineering city of London the way the locals do.

Underground

Your face when you realize you got on the wrong line.

Pre-trip: I figured the maps we bought would be clunky and difficult to use. So many lines. So many colors. I have only taken the subways in New York and Chicago before, and those are quite a bit easier to navigate because the train lines are quite grid-like. My head was hurting just trying to wrap around how I was going to get even one measly mile away from my hotel, let alone explore all that the great city of London has to offer. I was feeling rather apprehensive. I figured I would stick to Ubers and Black Cabs.

Post-trip: The first few times I took the Tube, I got confused, did not get to High Street Kensington, and had to walk back to the hotel from Gloucester (in the rain, mind you), which was not so fun. But I would say that after a good day, the inner workings of the Underground began to reveal themselves, and by my last day in London, using it was incredibly simple and fun. The first time I rode the underground, I went with the group. I was sick the day the group went to Westminster, so my first time on the trains was when we were off to Charlton. We had to stop at Victoria Station and get on a different track that took us there for the football match. Truth be told, for someone who is “green” to the train networks, it was good to leave London, switch trains, and do it all with a group. I would encourage newcomers to hop on and off trains and fully immerse themselves in the Tube experience. Navigation is easy, as all platforms have large maps of the train lines stuck up all over them. Plus, should you ever be in a pinch, there is a legion of helpful, well-informed personnel at the stations that can guide you to the train you must take to arrive at your desired stop. And of course, if that was not enough, there was always the map we had on us (as well as our phones… TECHNOLOGY).

Citation:

  • “London Underground.” – Transport for London. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/londons-transport-a-history/london-underground>.

My Seventh Artifact-Big Ben

Who: The British

What: Big Ben

Where: Westminster, London

When: Cast on 10th April 1858.

Why: Center of British politics and culture. Epitome of our trip and my personal experiences.

Big Ben

“Look, a clock. We don’t have that in America.” ~ Ron Swanson

It is nothing short of a symbol of British might and greatness. It is one of the most recognizable manmade structures on Earth. It is connected to Parliament, and within Parliament’s walls, the British government carried out a myriad of tasks over the centuries that changed the course of history time and time again. The Gunpowder Plot, the colonial taxations, Allied planning during World War II. They were all carried out here. A marriage of the old and new. A forum for nobles and commoners to come together and make plans for the greater good of the Empire. It represents a good deal of what the British people are worth. Their Queen, their military, their ambitions, their history, their traditions. They are embellished in the walls of this behemoth. And as long as the clock tower keeps ticking, the echoes of the past will meld with those of the present, and carry themselves well into the distant future.

Above all else, the London Honors trip opened my eyes to the importance of other peoples’ traditions and values, alongside respecting those traditions and values. And furthermore, it taught me the importance of being friendly, independent, and hungry for greater knowledge. It was truly a priceless experience, and I am honored to have undertaken it.

Big Ben (and the surrounding buildings) is the essence of our trip. It is the essence of the British peoples.

Parliament

Parliament and the River Thames.

 Citation:

  • Fox, Gy. “BigBenFacts.” BigBenFacts. Web. 23 Jan. 2016. <http://www.bigbenfacts.co.uk/facts/>.

G.O.A.L.S.

Global Awareness:

Year 1: Having lived abroad, I have a fondness for traveling and meeting unique individuals. I suppose, however, that I need not go too far to meet extraordinary people. Ohio State is an enormous campus full of people from all walks of life. I will attempt to talk to them and listen to their stories. Additionally, I will try to study abroad. Currently, I am in the London Honors program  and will be traveling to England in the winter of 2015. In my junior year, I will try to do something else which will let me go abroad.

Year 2: During Spring Break, I had the privilege of traveling to Williamsburg, Virginia through the Office of International Affairs. The group consisted of twenty international students and twenty domestic students. We spent four days touring places like Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown to see how the colonists lived and how the Revolutionary War was fought. The trip was interesting and mingling with the international students was wonderful. Aside from a slight language barrier, I feel that both groups had many things in common. It was healthy for all of us to come out of our comfort zones and converse with people we might have otherwise never approached.

I also became a member of the Indian American Association, and I attended the annual “Raise the Keffiyeh” event in January sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine.

My courses this year focused on globalization, the global economy, and our impact on the global environment. I am also finishing my fourth semester of Modern Standard Arabic, going beyond the GE requirement.

Original Inquiry:

Year 1: As I am only a freshman, research is not a priority for me. But, nevertheless, I understand that when the time to pursue a research project is upon me, I should be prepared. I have begun preparing in a handful of ways. Firstly, I have tried understanding the ins and outs of OSU’s wonderful libraries, primarily, Thompson and Orton Hall. The libraries on campus are massive, beautiful, and resourceful. I will definitely be consulting them frequently for help and entertainment. Additionally, I will be taking challenging courses. For example, I have already fulfilled my math requirements for my major in Economics. Nevertheless, I still took Calculus II this semester. In the future, I will be taking numerous more classes centered on science and statistics to expand my ability to grasp difficult concepts, learn technical skills, and be a more holistic student and individual.

Year 2: Once again, I continued on with taking tough and challenging courses to broaden my mind and remain in the Honors College. A particularly interesting course I took was Statistics and Comparative Studies. Statistics has numerous practical applications. I now know how to use functions on my calculator I did not even know existed. This will help me greatly in the more advanced Economics courses I am taking next year. Comparative Studies, on the other hand, helped me grow by forcing me to develop my own voice and articulate my opinions in a coherent manner. Both courses will help me in my majors and careers.

For several courses, I also had to write concise academic research papers. To complete these, I had to utilize OSU’s online library database, which is a treasure trove of information. I will be using it for the rest of my college career.
Academic Enrichment:

Year 1: The wonderful thing about the Honors & Scholars program is its emphasis on creativity and pursuing coursework which may be out of the norm. Regarding my major and academic pursuits, I have chosen to study Arabic. It is a beautiful language to write and speak, and I know it will come in handy should I travel to the Arab World. I will also be taking a fair amount of art and history courses. I love sketching, so I will try to take an art class that revolves around drafting and drawing. Or maybe I will do something a little different, such as a class on sculpting or ceramics. As for history, it has always been a fascinating subject for me. I will be taking history classes centered around immigration and development for my major in International Studies.

Year 2: Every course I took this year was fascinating and eye-opening in its own way. I particularly enjoyed the two Earth Science courses I took which discussed natural disasters and geology. When I was young, I was quite interested in paleontology and documentaries on dinosaurs and Earth history. So while some may found Earth Science a somewhat “dry” subject, I thoroughly enjoyed the two courses I took. The professors I had for my Political Science and Geography classes did a brilliant job of dictating the intricate interconnectedness that exists in our globalized, post-industrial world. I now view poverty, war, and the asymmetrical economic relationship between the First World and Third World through a new lens.

And I will also be concluding my fourth and final semester of Arabic. Learning the language has been a rewarding journey. I have met good people in my classes and I know I will try to seek study abroad opportunities and careers in the Arab World. Next semester, I will be addressing my Agribusiness minor. I have enrolled in three agribusiness classes, so I should become quite familiar with the Ag campus! In place of Arabic next semester, I have decided to take an art class. As someone who enjoys sketching, I am looking forward to this course the most.
Leadership Development:

Year 1: At present, instances of my leadership are difficult for me to show. I guess what I can do to be a leader is to be a good student and individual. I will be respectful. I will not be involved in cases of academic misconduct. I will submit my assignments on time and keep my grades as high as I can keep them. Outside of the academic realm, I will be a leader by doing community service and by being a person of principle.

Year 2: Last semester, I became a M(ASC)OT for the College of Arts and Sciences. The program is in its first year, but it aims to have a lasting impact on the College in the long run. As a M(ASC)OT, I will be involved in fairs, seminars, and events revolving around the College of Arts and Sciences and its most recent, underclassmen members.
Service Engagement:

Year 1: A year back when I lived in Illinois, I volunteered at a nursing home. Well, I decided to continue here in Columbus by applying for a volunteering position at Tridia Hospice. Helping the elderly is emotionally draining. But it is rewarding and a worthwhile pursuit. I may also choose to volunteer at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. I have aided the elderly. Perhaps I should try my hand at helping those on the other end of the age spectrum.

Year 2: I secured an internship for the summer with the Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School in Norwalk, Connecticut. It is a magnet school inside Brien McMahon which teaches member students Japanese, Chinese, or Arabic, as well as literature and history revolving around the language they chose to learn. The Center also provides study abroad opportunities and hosts foreign exchange students. My task will be to help students in the Center studying Arabic prepare for their exams in June. I will also be doing research for the Center, as well as helping them host students from China who will visit Brien McMahon later this August.