School is going well. I know my way around campus and have found my favorite spot in the library and the cheap place to have a cup of tea. This term I am taking History and Theory of the EU (very boring), European Defense and Security (interesting, with a very good professor), and EU in the World (the professor is from the US and conducts her class the same way).
Just as I've gotten caught up on most of my reading, the deluge of essays begins. Next week I have my first essay due, and pretty much one every week after that until Christmas. The thing I find most difficult to deal with though is that all of the essays are formative...meaning I'm not graded on them. I still need to put in a lot of effort, because I will receive written feedback and they help to prepare for the Exams in June. That's the other thing I'm adjusting to about the British (and perhaps European in general) system: the classes I take this fall, I won't be tested on until June. That is quite an ample amount of time to forget most all that I have learned.
Besides school, (when I have free time), I've been enjoying a bit of the London night life. On Thursdays, about 30 of the students from my program all go out and have a beer or two at one of the pubs on campus (George IV). We only have class Monday-Thursday, so we begin our weekend celebration before we all go home. In addition, I've been going out with a few of the people from my dorm, exploring bars close to where I live, as well as an area called Shoreditch, which is about a mile walk. Close proximity is very important as the Tube stops running around 12:30. One weird thing is that a lot of bars close around 11:00 or 12:00, even on the weekend. If you stay out later (usually at a more loungy/club type of place) there are night busses that run, but they aren't as easy to figure out.
This Sunday was another very nice day, so I went with a friend from school on a walking tour. It was great because it was FREE, I just was suggested to tip the tour guide at the end (which I happily did). See the photos below!
I know none of these people, but I wanted to take a picture of the Duke of Wellington Arch. The tour met at the Corner of Hyde Park.
This was my first experience in "nature" since I've been in London. I had to take a picture of the trees, because they do exist in the city. It I could finally tell it is autumn, because the leaves are beginning to change their color.
This is the gate to Buckingham palace. Notice the red road. All the main roads that lead to the palace are red. So the Queen is always on a red carpet. Our tour guide was filled with cool and useless facts like this.
This is me in front of Buckingham Palace. (Sorry the photo is so dark. I accidentally messed with one of the settings on my camera.)
A brighter photo of Buckingham. Frankly, I find Schoenbrun to be cooler. You can't even go inside.
Our tour guide told a really funny story about how someone broke into Buckingham Palace in 1982. Read about it here.
Unfortunately it wasn't one of the guys in the red jackets and big bear skinned hats (which last for 100 years, the hats, not the guards). Apparently the different services rotate guard duty.
This is in Trafalgar Square. Its a really big ship build inside a really large bottle. (A model of the ship Lord Nelson commanded at the Battle at Trafalgar.)
Here is Trafalgar Square.
(It is geographically in the center of London. Another did you know...there are very few pigeons in the square. This is very odd because it was known for being completely overrun with the feathered rats. There are laws prohibiting the feeding of the birds, but contraceptive is also mixed in with their regular feed. Not sure if I believe that one. The tour guide might have been pulling our legs with that factoid.)
This building, laden with moss and vines is (or was) one of the buildings for MI6 (or MI5). (I can't remember)
The tour finished with the story about Guy Fawkes and his attempt to blow up parliament.
Overall: I got to see and learn (cool facts) about my new city!