The second study tour that I had was different than the first – It was my academic study tour, which meant that I would be traveling with my core program, Strategic Communications. We went to London, UK and I loved every moment of it! London is such a lively city and I can very much imagine myself living there one day… The week consisted of a lot of academic visits and tours, but I learned a lot and got to do tourist-y things afterwards, since I stayed for a bit longer with friends (from Bryn Mawr!).
We left Copenhagen around 8 AM (had to get to the airport by 6!) and landed at Gatwick Airport. It was Sunday, and our first stop was Trafalgar Square. A professor from DIS met up with us and gave us a walking tour, around the Trafalgar as well as Parliament Square. We got to see the royal guard at the Cavalry House and also got to see The National Gallery. We experienced London weather (a sudden downpour of rain!) but still got to go on the London Eye and see a great view of the city.
We ended the day at a lovely Indian restaurant, where we got to eat curry and nan. London is known for it’s variety of ethnic food – It was a good change from eating sandwiches everyday (I missed the taste of spicy food so much!). We were staying in Kensington, which is a very nice area right near Kensington Palace, the home of Queen Victoria and now home to Prince William and Princess Kate and Prince George. The hotel was super nice, and we were excited to start our week in London!
The next day started out with a tour of the Winston Churchill War Rooms, near Parliament. It was so interesting to see that all of the underground rooms had been preserved, frozen in time. As a History major, I was dancing with joy (on the inside) as I got to walk through and see the war cabinet and the museum. Winston Churchill was a great communicator, and I think that was the main reason why our professor took us to see the rooms. Afterwards, we went all the way to Wimbledon for a tour of the famous tennis courts. Prior to the tour, I knew very little about Wimbledon, except for the fact that is was a tennis match in London and that every player had to wear white.
Our tour guide, Ben, explained to us that Wimbledon isn’t only a tennis competition, but is a globally recognized brand. Wimbledon is associated with the values of high-quality, tradition and elegance. It was amazing to learn that the courts are re-built every year! Grass is super important to Wimbledon: no one, and I mean no one is allowed to step on the grass… It made all of us dream about being able to attend a Wimbledon match in the future!
Tuesday started out with a visit to a London PR firm, Modus Publicity. They are located in a chic area near Picadilly Circus and mainly focus on high-class brands, such as Calvin Klein and Dom Perignon Champagne. It was interesting to learn about the workings of such a place, with a show room and constant visits from designers and fashion model agencies.
It really made me think about the possibilities of a career in Public Relations and Communications: Needless to say, I did get a business card afterwards! We then went to the Museum of London which has been tirelessly re-branding itself as a modern, educational and fun museum.
Their campaign embraced a “Look Again, London” campaign, where the museum focused on the fact that people want to know the details about the city after maybe experiencing all of the obvious tourist sites. It was different from Modus or Wimbledon in that it is a non-profit, government-owned institution, so they rely heavily on donations from patrons and guests of the museum.
Wednesday was completely different in that we left London and headed for the city of Bath! Now, as a History major, this was indeed epic… we got to see the STONEHENGE. A wonder of the world! I couldn’t keep in my amazement. Never did I think that I would see the Stonehenge in real life. And the weather was absolutely stunning. I will never forget the way the sunlight hit the stones.
Afterwards we arrived in Bath, where we got to experience the famous Roman Baths. It is very well preserved and it was very interesting to see; I even got to drink some of the water that comes from the natural baths! The waters are believed to have a healing essence – thus people traveled from far away in order to experience a relaxing weekend at Bath.
Thursday started off with a small group meeting with RLM Finsbury, which is a London-U.S. PR firm that mainly focuses on financial public relations. We got to learn the tricks and tips about what it takes to keep investors and executives happy – Financial PR is mainly business to business (B2B), which means that the main audience for the PR firm is usually those from an executive board or investor background. It was great because B2B PR is what I have always been interested in.
Afterwards, we were given the chance to visit the United States embassy, which practiced a different sort of PR. All of the places that we visited prior to the embassy focused on privatized companies or non-profit, educational institutions. The U.S. embassy is the voice of the U.S. overseas, in the United Kingdom. It was nice to learn about how foreign service officers had to learn to be cautious about what they posted, and how they constantly had to remember that they were representing the opinions of the U.S. government, regardless of their own personal opinion.
Afterwards, we experienced high tea in the Mayfair area of London. I have to say this was one of my favorite experiences. I absolutely love high tea. It may be a very outdated tradition, pompous even. But it was absolutely extravagant and lovely (cucumber sandwiches and all!).
Afterwards, three friends and I made our way to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio for a tour of a lifetime. It took us 3 whole hours to experience the entire thing (I would go again and again if I could!) and I exited the building a little poorer than I had been when I entered (souvenirs…). It was a great trip down memory lane. I still cannot believe that it has been more than 10 years since Harry Potter first entered my life. Still waiting on that letter to Hogwarts…
Friday marked the end of my academic study tour. I parted ways with my class, and met up with Michelle ’15 and made my way to King’s Cross, where a fellow Mawrtyr is currently staying during her fall semester abroad. Reina Qu ’15, graciously took me and Michelle in for the rest of the week, so that we could be real tourists and see the sites. The next day, we walked all around the city, setting sights on the Tower of London, The Monument, Tower Bridge, London Bridge and St. Paul’s Cathedral. Needless to say, we were absolutely exhausted, yet content! We had checked off everything on our list… for Saturday. We ended the night with dinner in Chinatown, where we had dim sum. It was nice to visit a Chinatown – surprisingly Copenhagen doesn’t have one (to dispel the belief that every city has a chinatown).
Sunday was a blur. We started out at Abbey Road, where we, along with several other eager tourists and Beatles fans, attempted to re-enact the famous Beatles album cover. Afterwards, we made our way to Buckingham Palace, where we got to see the changing of the guards. I didn’t know that there were specific days chosen for the entire thing – we were lucky that we were there on one of the days it was being done! The square was completely filled with people. After a quick lunch at High Street Kensington station, we made our way to the last tourist site on our list – Kensington Palace.
It was ironic that I hadn’t been able to visit the palace up until the last day, especially since I had stayed in a hotel that was literally 15 minutes away from it for most of my trip. The palace was going under major reconstruction of it’s tour program. There were 4 parts to it, and thankfully we got through all of them. Of these four was a special exhibit about the Queen’s fashion, as well as her sister’s and the late Princess Diana. It was breathtaking to see the dresses worn by the three royals, and they were all kept in pristine condition. We ended our stay in London with a very appropriate high tea – something I was glad to experience twice! Our trip in London had come to an end, and I was not even the least excited to leave.
London is one of those cities that people always say they would like to visit. London had been one of the top two places on my list of cities to visit (along with Paris, which I will be flying to on Wednesday!), and I have to say that I was not in the least disappointed. It is so vibrant, with so much history weaved within the modernly chic city walls. I do hope that I get another chance to visit soon (a possible destination for a summer internship perhaps!), because London definitely stole my heart. Next stop, the city of love, Paris!
Until Next Time!