Soon to be Miles and Smiles Away

I will soon be off to begin my travels to England, France, Germany, and Poland to study World War II and its historical impact on each region. I am entering my junior year at OSU and am majoring in Military History, Russian, and International Studies: Security Intelligence. This abroad experience will be tremendously beneficial for both my undergraduate and graduate career. As one of my favorite Winston Churchill quotes states, “The farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see.” One of the countries I am most excited to visit is Poland, so that I can get my first real taste of Eastern European culture.

One of the first places that we will be seeing upon our arrival is Westminster. In order for me to fully appreciate this site I did a little pre-trip research on some of its history. The area of Westminster is comprised of three buildings that are often considered the very heart of London – Westminster Abbey, Parliament, and Big Ben.

Westminster Abbey, as it stands today, has been a site of religious worship since the year 1065. This beautiful site has crowned 39 monarchs since the coronation of William the Conqueror. The Abbey, in 1257, was also home of the English Parliament, but was later relocated in 1587 to the location we see today.

It is at this new parliamentary location that some of the most infamous persons of history have been tried – including Guy Fawkes in 1606 (“remember…remember”). Parliament contains two separate institutions, which are the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The members of the House of Commons are elected, while the House of Lords is comprised of aristocrats. As a rule, a reigning monarch is never allowed into the House of Commons. In fact, the last time a king interrupted the House of Commons was King Charles I, which eventually led to a bloody civil war  and ended with the first trial and execution of an appointed king.

Big Ben, one of the most pictured spots in London, has been running on time for little over 150 years. One of the things I found most fascinating, in my research, is that Big Ben is still mechanical and is hand-cranked about three times a weeks to always be kept within two seconds of the actual time. There are five bells in the tower – four for every quarter hour and one large hour bell. Also the tower is not named Big Ben, instead it is only the massive hour bell that is named Big Ben. The tower’s actual name is the Elizabeth Tower. At the opposite end of parliament is a similar tower called Victoria Tower, which is where the priceless archives of the British parliament are kept. These archives house 500 years worth of parliamentary documents, including the original 1765 Stamp Act.

Super excited to be embarking on my journey and will be posting more in the days to come.

Source: (also on Netflix)

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