The British Library has been my favorite museum I’ve visiting in London thus far. The medieval manuscripts were amazing to see up close. Looking at a slide show of some old books is not the same as viewing them first-hand. I could see the ink marks and texture of the paper. My favorite thing I saw was the Gutenberg Bible. As a journalism major, I have been tested over who invented the printing press. Johann Gutenberg was the first to use a printing press. The Gutenberg Bible is a complete version of the Bible. There were 180 copies made and there are only four complete copies left. I heard it is the most expensive book in the world. It was incredibly beautiful and breathtaking. The printing press has changed the world immensely. I don’t know if journalism would be around without it. Before we went to the library, we learned about how manuscripts were made back then and how they hand-wrote everything. Not only did they have to hand-make the paper, but had to hand-write every page. Then they added artwork to every page, too. In class we talked about the Lindisfarne Gospels, which looked amazing in the slides that Megan showed us. Unfortunately, the page that was displayed wasn’t as impressive as I thought it would be. The Magna Carta was also on display. That was incredible. I also saw some of the Beatles notes for some of their famous songs. He wrote one on the back of his son’s birthday card. It was really cool to see. Most everything was really cool to see. I liked the old manuscripts a lot. It is amazing that humans have been recording stories for thousands of years and that we still read those same stories today.
Here’s an amazing picture of the Gutenberg bible. It was so dark in there that I wasn’t able to get a picture, but here’s someone else’s picture via google.
We visited Oxford today. Angie was our tour guide again. She is so incredibly knowledgeable. I loved Oxford.
It was an incredible college town because it was nothing like any of the college towns I’ve seen before. The town in so incredibly old. Older than anything I can remember seeing. There is a lot of arguments over when the University of Oxford was established and what college is the oldest or longest running. I cannot explain the English school system in a short paragraph. But in short, the University of Oxford is made up of multiple colleges, which are separate buildings and so on. For example, we met Jay, a KU and BSI alum from Salina, I may add. I could write a whole entry just about Jay and how cool his life sounds, but I won’t. Jay works at Corpus Christi College at the University of Oxford. The colleges were all so grand and so old. One of the colleges was established in 1264. My mind cannot even grasp that time period. It was the buildings that give Oxford this almost magical feel. The architectural styles of the university really affected my experience in Oxford. The buildings set you back in time a little bit. I can’t imagine what it is like to live there.
When I was studying in Italy, I would often find myself looking at picturesque towns like Siena and think to myself, “Whoa. People live here. Like people wake up everyday here because this is where they live.” Just the fact that people lived in such a beautiful place amazed me.
I had a “People go to school here. They wake up everyday here because they study here, at the University of Oxford,” moment. It really felt like a Harry Potter movie. Speaking of, I stood in the dining room where they do the sorting in the movie. It was in Christchurch, which was one of the coolest schools I’ve ever seen. Students can eat in this massive hall with paintings of people like Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth. I also stood on a staircase that is used in the Harry Potter movies. All the Harry Potter nerds were tweaking out. I wish I had read the books, but I haven’t. Oh well.
One thing I’d like to add about visiting Oxford is that I wondered if it’s annoying to students that their school is a tourist attraction. Christchurch Coellge, where the picture above it taken, had tours and signs especially for tourist. There are people that tour KU, but it isn’t usually anyone except for prospective students.
I loved that the students wore their robes when taking their exams. At Oxford, you go there for three years with no grades or feedback. The whole time is spent preparing for these exams at the end of your time. It is like finals on crack, in a way. The pressure would kill me. Anyway, the students who are taking these exams wear their graduation-type robes and mortar hats. We saw some students celebrating with wine and Champaign post-exams. I snapped a picture with them.
The first day of class was today and we went to the British Museum afterward. I love that the museums here are free. For our art history class we read about the Elgin Marbles, which were a part of the Parthenon in Greece. The Parthenon was a temple made in honor of Athena, Zeus’ daughter. He got a Greek goddess pregnant and killed her, I think. Then he became pregnant but inside of his head. She literally sprung from his forehead, Sunny says. She is considered a perfect woman because she was not born from a women. So the British Museum has these Elgin Marbles because Elgin brought them to England. The British government bought the marbles fair and square. Now Greece is building a big fancy museum and wants to Elgin Marbles back. They argue that the viewer can enjoy the Marbles better if they are all together in a Greek environment. I disagree; I like the Elgin Marbles in the British Museum. My arguments are simple:
More people can see them in London. Millions of people visit the British Museum every year.
The British Government bought them. If Greece had had more pride in keeping them, the Marbles wouldn’t be in London in the first place.
I enjoyed the Marbles just fine in London. I actually thought it was really neat to see something like that in the British Museum.
Lastly, Greece is tearing stuff down to build this museum of theirs. Obviously, they don’t have much care in conserving things if they’ll tear down the old to build the new, and they sold the Marbles away.
I know little to nothing about art, so I don’t know how educated my arguments are, but I really enjoyed seeing the Marbles. I’m glad they are here in London. Here are some of the pictures I took of the Elgin Marbles.
Class came way too early the next day. After heading the wrong way on Bus 38, we were thirty minutes late. Being late on the first day can be expected, but that doesn’t mean it is appreciated. Class was fun. You heard me right; I liked class. We talked about three poems that I didn’t understand when I read them. But after some fun with Eric, our incredibly adorable teacher, I not only understood the poems but even liked them. You heard me right; now, I even like poetry. London could change me for the better. I even took notes on art history vocabulary and hope to use it soon.
After class, we visited the British Museum. It was incredible to see parts of the Parthenon called the Elgin Marbles and Egyptian artifacts. We made looking at art really fun!
After class the teachers and I went to the Museum Pub across the street from the British Museum. I had my first glass of Pimm’s. It is a type of summer brew with lots of fresh fruit put in. It is delicious. It was so fun to drink with our teachers and get to know them. They are both PhD students at KU and have great things to say. We’re so lucky to have teachers that have so much knowledge to pass on and do so in a fun way.
After a pub crawl, we headed over to Pizza Express, where we had our first group dinner, which I want to rename Family Dinner. It was a great way to get to know the people on my program better and the night was filled with many laughs.
Then post-dinner was our first night of clubbing in London. Club promoters are all over trying to get you to pay them to take you to a club. We got suckered in and got taken all across town just to find out the club wasn’t open. It was a disaster and everyone was mad. I wish we would’ve been smarter. Then finally we went to Jewel, which was a pretty club with dancing and lots of seating. The ceiling was covered in mirror tiles and the chandeliers were beautiful. The people were a good mix. There were loads of Hen parties, which are English bachelorette parties. They dress up in what they call “fancy dress,” what we call costumes.
After Jewel, some of us went to Tiger Tiger, which is a dance club. This is where I was later left by the group and had to roam home alone. It was pretty horrible, but I learned a good lesson in trusting people and communicating. I am thankful everything turned out fine, but I was not happy to be left in such a big city. I made it home safe and sound. Thankfully, I am used to navigating and traveling alone.