This trip has allowed me to experience a lot of new things. For my first time abroad, what I have seen and experienced were beyond my expectations. My first international flight felt longer than it was. My excitement and nerves for the trip kept me up for most of the flight and only prolonged the experience. Overall, the trip across the Atlantic was good, but I was not prepared for the jet lag that followed. Even on my last day in London, I was still recovering.
I have enjoyed my first time in London so far and was able to see many of the sights. On the first day, I went to Westminster Abby with some of the other people in my group and we had a good time. The Abby was beautiful inside, and I’m sad that no photos were allowed inside so that I could have shared what I had seen. Before seeing the inside, I thought that it was just a church with lovely architecture both inside and out, but I was wrong. There were monuments and memorials to many renowned people and more history there than I previously thought. Seeing the different monarchs and nobles buried or remembered there reminded me of just how long British history is. This was seen again at many of the other sights.
One of my favorite sights was St. Paul’s Cathedral. The architecture was beautiful and how the black and white artwork contrasted was different from other churches. The glass piece murals on the choir ceiling were stunning and my favorite part of the cathedral. Yet in the church’s history that part of the cathedral was hated by the people because it was perceived as “too French.” All of the artwork and monuments within the cathedral showed again how old Britain’s history is. I didn’t expect to see a small bust of George Washington in a small corner of the crypt. St. Paul’s cathedral was built after the great fire of London demolished the old medieval Gothic St. Paul’s. During the Blitz, a bomb hit St. Paul’s and hit a private altar, it destroyed the altar and blew a hole into the crypt below. After reconstruction, the cathedral dedicated a new statue of Mary holding a small child to commemorate all of the men, women, and children who died in the Blitz so that St. Paul’s could still stand. During WWII, there was a special volunteer fire brigade that stayed at the church to put out fires from the bombs that hit the church and the areas around it. There is also a special memorial at the back of the east altar behind the choir section that commemorates all of the Americans who were stationed in Britain and who died to defend England. The memorial holds a book that contains all of their names, and the special decoration around the memorial shows the different plants and animals native to the U.S. During the war and the aftermath, the cathedral was a symbol to the people that they couldn’t give up in the face of the oppressive odds and the hard conditions they endured. If the cathedral could still stand after the bombs than the people could also survive and endure.
The National Gallery was different from what I expected, yet the artwork there and the diversity of the pieces was a pleasing sight. Morgan Moon and I went to the Sherlock Holmes museum and had a blast. The other museums we saw were the Natural History Museum and the British Museum. The Natural History Museum reminded me of the one in the U.S. and a bit of COSI. There was a lot of things at the British Museum and I kept wondering why they have so much and how did they transport it all. They have an entire Greek temple and huge statutes that weight several tons. How did they move it all and did any pieces get damaged or lost in transition? My main overall thought was that many of these items were on “permanent loan” or was taken when England occupied the different areas. I didn’t see any mention of the Second World War in the museum, maybe it wasn’t affected or I just missed it.
Of my experience of London, there are so many different people who speak many different languages and cultures yet they all somehow fit. That being said, I can’t get over all of the smoking and pollution that fills the city. The first day I was constantly coughing and sneezing because of the smoke and the exhaust. It’s just another part of their culture and another difference from what’s back home.