Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Just a quick update: Edinburgh is amazing. I love it and would love to stay even longer to explore the highlands and Loch Ness area. But, tomorrow I leave at 5:00 a.m. to go to the airport from Edinburgh to fly to Dublin. Tomorrow I will explore the Dublin area, then wake up early for my tour of Southern Ireland! I am so excited to go to Ireland. I will have to update fully when I get back!

Scotland was great, but onto the next country!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Nerd's Saturday in London.

So I realize that I haven't updated the blog lately. And well, the reason is, is that they keep us super busy here. Today is actually my first free day in a while and boy, did I make good use of it!

I woke up at 2:30 A.M. this morning to go to the IMAX to see Harry Potter in 3-D. It was amazing!! It was awesome to watch the scenes where they passed over London and realize that I'm literally minutes from the areas they showed. The scenes they filmed at Hogwarts were great, because I actually got to visit the places where they filmed them, in both Oxford and in London. (Pictures on Facebook).
After the movie got out at 5:20, I went back to bed and woke up at 9:15 to get ready for my busy day. I got a ticket to see Les Mis tonight( the musical I've been dying to see for years!) in Leicester Square. I also went to the Sherlock Holmes museum with Katie, from class, and we ate Pizza Hut for lunch( Hey, sometimes you just want something familiar!). I headed back to school to print off my Doctor Who Experience ticket and went with Kristen to the Kensington area to the Experience. First off, it was a nerd's dream come true. We oohed and aaahed at everything and had a fantastic time. I also bought myself a sonic screwdriver! :)

In a bit, I am going to leave for Les Mis and pack for my away trips. It's hard to believe I will be spending a week away in Scotland! :) But then again, it's still hard to believe that I've been here in London for two weeks. I will try to update from Scotland, but access to internet and computers is not as reliable as is here.

Anyways, I'm doing wonderfully and still having the time of my life! :)
I've been out on a great deal of daytrips lately: Stratford-Upon-Avon and Oxford were two trips from this week that I greatly enjoyed. This upcoming week we leave for Edinburgh and then afterwards, is Ireland! I'm sort of sad to leave London because it's been my home for the past two weeks and I really love it.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

First Week Re-cap!

So in order to recap. I will give a list of things and places that I've visisted and seen my first  week.
Saturday July 2:

  • Notting Hill/Portobello Market
  • Stamford Arms Pub (my first Cider!)
  • More of London fun
Sunday July 3:
  • Leicester Square
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Trafalgar Square
  • Westminster Abbey ( outside)
  • St. James Palace
  • 10 Downing Street
  • Big Ben and Parliament
Monday July 4
  • Hyde Park
  • Buckingham Palace
  • St. Paul's Cathedral (Inside and Library) Plus, Harry Potter staircase! :)
  • Sherlock Holmes Pub
Tuesday July 5
  • Barbican Centre Library
  • Museum of London
  • King's College Reception
Wednesday July 6
  • British Museum
  • Auberge Bar ( fun night with London locals)
Thursday July 7
  • Morning trip to Notting Hill ( in the rain, mind you)
  • British Library
  • Bush Hall at Shepherd's Bush-- The Robbie Boyd Band
Friday July 8
  • Stonehenge
  • Jane Austen Centre
  • Royal Crescent
  • The Circus
  • Assembly Rooms ( all in Bath, except for Stonehenge)
Saturday July 9
  • Castle of Dover
  • White Cliffs of Dover
  • English Channel
  • Canterbury Tales Experience
  • Cathedral of Canterbury
Overall, I've seen a whole lot this week. I could go into much more detail, but I will save that for later. Tomorrow I am going to visit a friend in High Wycombe, out in the countryside! I am so happy to see her, she is going to be a little piece of home for me!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Barbican Centre Library

Our second visit was to the Barbican Centre  in the heart of the City of London. Upon arrival, one may think that the Barbican Centre is akin to a prison because of the concrete surface that covers every inch. Yet, inside the bare concrete walls is an interesting, modern decor that supplements the many  film  and live theaters, art galleries, restaurants, shops, and even apartment complexes that make up the city within a city. The history of the Barbican goes back to World War II, or the Second World War as it's called here in Britain. After the major bombings in London, the land on which the Barbican now sits was entirely flattened by the bombs that crashed around the city.

Photo by Martin Beddall Photography

 As a result of deciding what to do with the desolate area, the complex was designed and built back in the 1960s. Today, the Barbican Centre holds the focus of our visit, the Library.
The Barbican Public Library is funded by the local authority and serves 11, 700 residents within the city of London specifically. The library focuses on a mix of self-service check-in and check outs, while also maintaining the personal desk services common in libraries. The average users are males from the ages of 25-45, however, surveys done every two years help to identify other demographics making use of the library.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect was the RFID ( Radio Frequency Identification) self  service kiosks. Books within the library have RFID chips inside that are activated when placed on the pad of the kiosk. Users scan their library cards, then simply stack the books on the pad and they are marked as check out instantly. Having not yet seen this technology, I was fascinated with the level of technology present in the library!
Along with a general collection, the library is home to a Children's Library that  works to promote literacy and reading of children through a variety of programs, including Summer Reading Programs and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF). The library also houses one of the largest music libraries  in London, where users can practice on two pianos, look at sheet music, reading periodicals, and listen to a variety of music CDs and listening booths. The CD collection in the library is listed at around 15, 000- 16,000, including local unsigned London artists.

I felt that Barbican Library was a wonderful library; I found myself wishing I was living here so that I might be able to use the materials and access the collection often. I am hoping to see more of the RFID tags in libraries, especially in the South. This technology is great and should be acted upon soon! Also, our tour guides were fantastic and made us feel right at home at the Barbican!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

St. Paul's Cathedral Library

Our very first visit was to St. Paul's Cathedral Library to tour with Joseph Wisdom (the most appropriately named librarian in history!) The Cathedral  famously designed by Christopher Wren, rebuilt between 1675-1710 after the Great Fire of London. The Cathedral is perhaps one of the most famous London landmarks and is visited by tourists year round, both religious and non-religious alike. Joseph Wisdom pointed out to us the west door of the Cathedral, specifically the book and heart of stone above the door. Two possible meanings can be either that the Word is preached in this place or this place loves books and learning. I'd like to think that both apply. We headed upstairs to the actual library, specifically the Triforium level, climbing 140 steps to the library area.  Seeing the Triforium level, we saw a variety of artifacts, including stones, engravings of the Cathedral, and busts. However, there was no coherence to these items, yet they were so interesting to view.

The next thing to view was what was called the Geometric Stairs which gives access to the library. I found the staircase beautiful and exciting because it was used in the filming of the third Harry Potter movie! Although those with vertigo, beware! Over the door to the librarians office is the Latin phrase, "Facidendi plures libros nullus est finis." Translated, this means "Of making many books, there is no end." I found this to be an interesting addition above the office door.

Finally, we saw the library itself which was full of books; complete with the musty smell, and dust which is like  perfume to me and one of the reasons I love history and old books. Mr. Wisdom was so knowledgeable about the history of the books, the acquisition of many books donated and bought about theology, and more recently books written about the Cathedral itself.
We discussed the care and keeping of the books and learned how to retrieve and pull a book from the shelf without damaging it in any way.

Picture taken from Google Search

Perhaps the most interesting aspect was who uses the library. Mr. Wisdom stated that novel writers that need historical information use  the library's materials, music and hymn books, Donne's sermons, and even genealogy.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the library and the history of the Cathedral as well. It's fascinating to learn more about the lesser known library within the well-known Wren Cathedral.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

London? Right on.

Well. I am here. FINALLY in the city of London! After a long flight with maybe an hour and a half of sleep, I ended up with my large travel group in London. We were cheerfully escorted to coaches which scarily and swervingly took us to our apartments at King's College. Remind me never ever to try to drive in London--it's  a thousand times worse than New Orleans.
Once we got here we checked in and I was the first into my flat and first to take a shower in my tiny bathroom. Thankfully, I have a room all to myself and it's cute and tidy( for now).

Friday--Arival day was spent (post shower) exploring London with new friends met via the BSP facebook group. I ate fish and chips as my first meal( pics to follow at some point), got a mobile, shopped at Tesco, took the tube to Leicester Square, ate dinner with my Library Science class, and even got asked for directions-- on my first day!!!
Yes, I felt the need to nap, and yes I had to buy a few energy drinks to keep me up, but it was fun! And by the time I went to bed at 11:00( London time).
I slept wonderfully with my windows wide open- to keep the room cool and earplugs that closed off the loud city noise.
Today is orientation day where we meet with Dr. Mackaman, our program director through USM, and then we get to head to Notting Hill and Portobello Road for our LondonAlive walk!

I am so excited to be here! I am going to try to upload pictures soon!