July 4, 2012
Today I went into London to see the Imperial War Museum; a free museum in London with exhibits from WWI to modern day wars. I felt like the museum itself really sent out an anti-war message through the pictures, stories and histories that were placed all around. They had a Holocaust exhibit that was especially hard to handle. Aside from having actual footage of Hitlers speeches, there were videos playing in the background of Holocaust survivors so the entire time you are walking around, you are hearing these people recount the days they spent in concentration camps. I started feeling sick halfway through while reading excerpts from Hitlers book Mein Kampf and it only got worse as I kept walking. There were pages from Anne Frank’s journal and several letters from unknown senders. At the very end, you are taken through a model of Auschwitz, which shows the whole process that the Jews went through from when they got off the train to when they were taken to the gas chambers. Behind the model was a glass case filled with the shoes of the victims. In Auschwitz, the shoes aren’t protected by a glass case and the scent is unbearable (I’ve never been, this is just what I’ve been told). In an attempt to leave you with a slight feeling of hope, there is also a whole room dedicated to the stories of the soldiers discovering Auschwitz and how much work they did to help the survivors before any real program was set up. Seeing them there was enough, I could never imagine having to smell it too. Museums and exhibits like this always reaffirm my choice to be an International Affairs major. I’m constantly reminded of how many people are capable of such extreme evil in this world but, I’m also reminded how many people are capable of good & knowing that my life will be dedicated to making the good eliminate the evil makes all the school worth it.
After leaving the museum, I headed back to the tube station to visit Kings College- one of my possible grad schools. I’ll spare the really boring details and just leave it at this: The campus was gorgeous!! Everyone I met was so friendly and the program I would be going into (Peace Studies & International Affairs) is exactly what I would have dreamed up myself. I’ll be visiting Richmond next week and I know I will have a hard decision to face once it comes down to it.
From Kings College, I walked 10 minutes to the House of Parliament (Yes, the college is 10 minutes away from it!). I spent awhile walking around, snapping mandatory photos and trying to remember the 2 days I spent in London 6 years ago. Fun Fact: The tower that holds Big Ben was just renamed Elizabeth Tower (formally called the Clock Tower) & Big Ben is only the name of the bell. I didn’t make it to Buckingham palace or Hyde Park but I still have 2 weeks. Instead, I headed over to Piccadilly Circus to get my ticket for Chicago the musical. I had purchased a 20 pound ticket and only after realized that it was for people under 20 so I was hoping I could charm my way into keeping it. The man at the booth definitely knew I was over 20 but before he called me out on it, he asked me where I was from. I told him I was from Colorado and it was the Fourth of July so this was my Independence Day celebration. He laughed, looked back at the ticket and gave it to me- knowing that I knew he just gave me a freebie. I had an hour or so to kill before the show so I found a place to eat. I settled on an Italian restaurant that was having a 3 course special for 10 pounds. I ordered my typical Italian favorites of Caprese, Gorgonzola Gnocchi and Tiramisu. Halfway into my Gnocchi and the Beatles started playing on the
speakers- not very Italian. Next thing I knew, the chef was singing Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da to me while I tried not to break out into a cherry-red blush. He continued singing as Penny Lane and Let It Be came on and I tried to tell myself that I was dreaming. Yes he was as old as my father, yes he didn’t sound anything like the Beatles but how many times does something like that happen in life? I finished my meal, left a generous tip and made my way back to the Garrick theater.
My first British theater trip was a huge success. My 20 pound ticket got me a great seat and I enjoyed every second of the show. I’m purchasing tickets for Mamma Mia while I’m here too and I could not be more excited!
I’m off to Scotland tomorrow!!