My days here in London have been jam packed with events. In a matter of days, I have visited the House of Parliament and the Big Ben, the Chelsea Football Club, Tower of London, been on the London Eye, been to Shoreditch, visited the financial district in the City of London, visited Hyde Park, Belgravia and Chelsea, and completed a bus tour around all the tourist destinations within the City of Westminster! Even though London is a small city compared to other cities that I have visited, it is full of surprises and things to do with every step you take. I’ve done so much that it can be a bit difficult to recap all the lessons I have learned and all the sights I have seen.
I have a vague interest in politics so visiting the House of Parliament and seeing the influence behind the United States’ Senate and House of Representatives allowed me to learn more about my own country’s history. I also saw a copy of the Magna Carta in the British Library via a tour for my British Life and Business class. In comparison to the United States, the House of Parliament is smaller in size and has a more intimate feel. The political parties of the UK are socially liberal and do not make moral issues partisan concerns. In the US, we are the opposite, drawing me to ask the important question: should the government be allowed to guide or restrict a person’s moral compass? Personally, my morality is rooted in my faith background.
While visiting the Tower of London, I got to experience the hilarious yet grim “Beefeater” aka Yeoman Warders tour and learn more about the cruelty and violence that took place at Tower Hill and within the Tower of London. To protect the things we hold dear (or more specifically the power, wealth, and ideas that can govern our hearts), people will go to great lengths to subdue anything that threatens the success of our livelihoods. One sad story I heard on my tour of the Tower of London was that of Lady Jane Grey who was beheaded as a result of the vehement desire of her relatives for her to be queen, despite her only being 16. She was very learned, one of the most educated women of her time but her life was brutally ended when Mary was crowned queen and she was found guilty of treason for being the uncrowned queen of just nine days.
I am not a sports fan at all but I really enjoy being able to see the business side behind any industry. For my British Life and Business class, we visited the Chelsea Football Club and I learned just how much money sponsorship can produce. Nike, Yokohama Tyres, and Carabao are three of Chelsea FC’s biggest sponsors with Nike giving 900 million pounds over a 15-year contract period. Unlike what I know of American soccer teams, players on European football teams come from all over the world. In the locker rooms you can hear about 12 different languages being spoken.
As we sat in the changing room, our tour guide Kyle told us that players typical choose a locker next to other players who speak the same native language as them. At first this can appear to cause divisions and cliches in the team but in reality, when we migrate (to a new job, new school, new neighborhood, new country), we want to bring a sense of home with us. We want to retain our core identity so that we have a safe space or a sense of community to help us feel comfortable. As my Godmother noted, when I was packing for my semester in London, I tried to bring some of my paintings that I hung on my dorm walls and even my authentic Jamaican curry seasoning for those days where I missed the food I used to eat back home.
Although I enjoy group activities, learning about others and the opportunity to spend time with my friends. I am very independent and I am an introvert. Many times I am happiest when I can experience something alone and drink it in, forming my own opinions and ideas without the influence of others forming my own thoughts. I have been independent, doing my own thing for most of my life, especially as an only child moved around often with my mother. I am used to traveling alone and spending hours upon hours in museums and natural spaces, just admiring what is around. This can be a challenge because many of the friends I have made in these last two weeks are just now learning how to be independent and are starting to learn who they are outside of the normal context of their daily lives.
I must be patient and loving with others, understanding that once ago I was just like them and even now, I am still growing and learning about myself. I have booked some events to experience by myself but I have also planned to do just as many activities with others. As I go through this adventure, I hope to grow my love for people, building hope in myself and my future, as well as learning to care deeply for those I encounter throughout my life. I will have many opportunities throughout my semester and I hope to continue being innovative, contemplative, and excited to show the wisdom that I learn.