To read about what we did on the first two days of our long study tour, check out my Norway recap here!
Our time in London looked a lot different than the first two days of our study tour in Norway. The pace, the visits, and the discussions all reflected the differences between England and Scandinavia. Now having lived in Denmark for (officially!!!) two months, it was interesting to view London in a new light—a city I’ve grown to love through previous visits.
Tuesday | We landed in London on Tuesday night and grabbed a delicious dinner of burgers, mac ‘n cheese, and milkshakes near our hotel. My life has been forever changed by that Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup shake, y’all.
Wednesday | Wednesday brought what might have been one of my favorite academic visits of the London trip: a presentation from Margaret Gilmore. She’s currently an analyst at a leading think tank, but she was formerly a BBC Home Affairs Correspondent and covered the 7/7 bombings, which was our focus of study while in London. We discussed the role that the media plays in reporting on terrorist attacks and the duty it has—especially given the rise of social media and emergence of “citizen journalists,” or those who can report the news quickly on social media before traditional media sources can publish a story. One of the current challenges facing crisis reporting is striking this balance between being quick and being accurate.
After a delicious and very filling lunch at a local Indian restaurant, we headed to our cultural activity of the day: a bike tour through London! We pedaled through parks and gardens and saw all the main sites of London—Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, and more! Bikes and I don’t exactly get along, but it was great to see the city and these sites from a new perspective.
After returning our bikes, I hopped back on the tube with one of my friends from class and made my way to the Covent Garden area, where I met up with my sweet cousin, Camille, who’s studying abroad in London this semester! Along with two of her friends from school, we all got pizza and caught up on life—so much fun to see her!!! Seeing family there made the world seem just a little bit smaller and—at least for this semester—Europe feel just a little bit more like home.
Thursday | Our academic visit of the day brought us to Quilliam, a counter-extremism organization and think tank based in London. It was fascinating to hear about their approach and backgrounds and why they chose to pursue this field of work—and why they think it’s so important. The idea and force of terrorism is so nuanced and complex and solving the issue needs to be nuanced and complex, too.
Later in the afternoon, we had another cultural excursion: a group escape room activity! We were split into three groups and had an hour to escape the various rooms and challenges. Let’s just say things got heated. Escape rooms kind of bring out both the best and worst in people, which is why I think they’re so. much. fun.!
Friday | Friday was a looooong and exciting day! We started with a site visit to the Finsbury Park Mosque in northern London. The mosque is notable because it was, at one point in its history, led by a radical imam. It was closed after a police raid in the early 2000s and reopened in 2005 under new leadership. It’s now a charity and community outreach organization and has done much to better its reputation among the neighborhood and city as a whole. Our discussion there focused around the role the mosque plays in the daily life of the neighborhood and what it means to be a minority in London today, along with the measures the mosque is taking to be seen as a model of community relations. We also discussed the response of the mosque after this summer’s van attack that is regarded as an Islamophobic terrorist attack in which one man was killed and more were injured.
Later that afternoon, we headed to the Imperial War Museum. Somehow in my previous visits to London I missed this museum—I urge you not to do the same! It’s an incredible museum and I could have spent hours more there. Our focus was the exhibit on the war in Afghanistan, but we had free time to explore the museum as well. One of my favorite exhibits was the section on World War II: seeing footage from the beaches on D-Day and knowing that four generations of my family have stood there, starting with my great-grandfather in World War II, is immensely powerful. I also spent a significant amount of time in the exhibitions relating to the Holocaust and wartime espionage. I’m in a class here at DIS on espionage in the Cold War, so to see more history about British intelligence services (the MI5 and MI6) made alllllll the connections!
Finally, we had a delicious group dinner at Jamie’s Italian. A) Italian food in general B) Gnocchi C) Free italian food, specifically gnocchi D) Brownies E) Famous Food Network chef
Need I say more?
Saturday | By Saturday we were more than a little tired. Between the emotional heaviness of our Norway trip and our academic visits in London, our brains were full of thoughts and knowledge and reflections. But we had time for one last stop: the Churchill War Rooms! Being in a place where so much history has happened is always exciting, and I’ve always loved how the War Rooms museum has been designed and portrayed. Also I love anything World War II, so that helps.
With that, we were off to the airport and back to Copenhagen. As I talked about with some of my apartment-mates later, there was this intense feeling of “coming home” as we landed in Copenhagen, got off at our metro stop, and walked into our apartment. In only two months I’ve come to love this place and these people so much that it feels like a home—and I love that.
Here’s some pictures of my face to prove I was, in fact, in London:
I hope you enjoyed hearing more about the adventures of my Long Study Tour! Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions!
Until next time, vi ses!