Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Theater and Music Appreciation classes recently completed their 2012 London study abroad experience.
by Pamela E. Williams
Special to the Tri-State Defender
Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Theater and Music Appreciation classes recently completed their 2012 London study abroad experience. Pamela Williams, a Theatre Appreciation student, shares her account.
|Southwest student Pamela E. Williams is framed by Buckingham Palace.
|Southwest professor Levi Frazier said one of the highlights of the trip was visiting the British Museum, which houses the Basalt or Shabaka stone, named after Egyptian Pharaoh, Shabaka. On this stone is written The Memphite Dramas, the oldest recorded dramatic scripts ever found, which gives Memphis, Egypt the title, by most authorities, as the birthplace of theatre. The Memphite Dramas not only celebrate the birth of the world and man, but they also celebrate the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt by Menes. (Courtesy photos)
A ten-hour plane ride and a six-hour time change could not squelch my excitement about seeing The Queen’s country. After standing in customs for what seemed life forever, students from Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Theater and Music Appreciation classes were allowed to collect luggage and board the famous red double-decker bus – transit we would get to know well while in London – to transport us to our residence for the coming eight days. Located in the Chelsea District, our IES dormitory rooms were small and compact, but no matter, because other than sleeping, we would see very little of them.
In London, people drive on the left in cars where the driver sits on the right. My classmates got a good laugh at my expense as I tried to enter a London cab. I was to ride up front with the driver, so when I proceeded to get into the cab, I attempted to enter from the right side of the car – the driver’s side. The cab driver thought this was hilarious as well and asked if I wanted to drive. In addition to cab and bus rides, we also traveled by train and tube, London’s underground transport.
We hit the ground running, taking in the first of four plays, “Snookered,” the story of four Pakistani friends dealing with race, death and religion in London, at the famed Bush Theatre. In the next eight days, both Theater and Music classes would take in the Broadway productions of “Les Misérables” and “The Lion King,” along with symphonies and operas.
The culture of London would then extend its hand toward the sights of the capital city of England. It was a humbling experience to walk the corridors of the Westminster Abbey and see the tombs of the queens of old and the memorials of the likes of Charles Dickens and George Frideric Handel, famous for his oratorio “Messiah.” As we walked over the graves of famous poets, musicians and scientists, one could not help but to be in awe by the serene nature of the church. A church service and a two-hour tour is just not enough time to embrace the entire Abbey.
During the remainder of our stay, our classes were further immersed in London’s culture by visiting the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum. Nothing, however, could prepare our eyes for the beauty of the countryside along the outskirts of London.
After checking out Buckingham Palace – who could go to London and not visit The Queen’s palace – a chartered bus drove us up to Shakespeare’s Stratford-upon-Avon, where lush green grass grows even in winter. The architecture alone is worth the two-hour trek.
We visited and toured Oxford University, where some portions of the Harry Potter films were made, as well as the birthplace of William Shakespeare and his world famous Globe Theatre. As if our senses couldn’t be overwhelmed any further, cue an acting workshop at the impressive University of Surrey and you have someone who wants to relocate to London.
A tour down the River Thames yielded a memorable view from the water of Parliament and the London Bridge. And from a capsule on the London Eye, the aerial view of Big Ben and the cityscape took our breath away from above.
As we took in the sights of London, we also experienced amazing cuisine. Although we experienced Italian and Mediterranean fare, we couldn’t leave London without trying her famous fish and chips.
I would be remised if I didn’t mention the weather there. Yes, it is just like you might imagine: cloudy most days, rainy one minute and then sunny the next. Mix in the cold and you have typical London weather in the winter.
Weather aside, I am planning another trip to London to take in all the sites I didn’t see. Eight days just wasn’t enough for this Southwest College student.