Yesterday I took a trip up to Paddington, and as usual, the trip itself was half the adventure.
It being the weekend, the tube line I wanted was under “scheduled maintenance,” so I ended up changing trains three times before I reached my destination. (Side note: the Baker Street tube station is really cool – I think they refurbished the old-school design in parts of it, instead of just making over everything in concrete, the result being that large parts of it look like they were torn off of Robert Downey Junior’s Sherlock Holmes movie set. Awesome.) Paddington Station is big, too, big enough that it took fifteen minutes and two sets of directions for me to find the hotel attached to it.
Backing up slightly: yesterday’s original plan was for Josh and I to go up to Paddington and have a look around this grad school fair that was going on. At the last minute, though, Josh decided to stay home, and so I made the trip by myself. The fair was about what I expected: lots of friendly university reps in their business-casuals, handing out business cards and thick course catalogs (I managed to avoid being given all but two of these). I talked with most of them – all the ones who seemed to have a graduate program that was remotely serious about drama – and found out that Master’s programs in Stage Management (or anything theater-related besides performance) are mighty scarce in these parts. And everyone was careful to remind me that “graduate programs involve mostly theory and research, you know, not a lot of practical experience,” as if that were normal. How, may I ask, do you learn stage management at the master’s level without working as a stage manager?
Answer (apparently): you don’t.
That was a bit disappointing, but given what I’ve seen at Kingston, not so surprising. For some reason, there’s this idea that you learn about theatre in school, but you only do theatre when it’s required for class, unless you attend a Drama School of course, which is a different animal altogether, more like Conservatory I think. The whole thing seems a bit silly to me, but there you go.
Paddington wasn’t a complete loss, though; I did a bit of exploring in the neighborhood, even though it was raining. I bought some postcards (only the first of a series, I expect – if I send everyone a postcard who’s probably expecting/been promised one from me, I think I’ll be sending about 50 of them) and some fish and chips, in between taking pictures and eavesdropping on the shopkeepers.
I stopped in this park to eat my Take-Away-Only lunch, even though the passers-by probably thought I was mad or homeless or both, sitting there in the drizzle.
|There was a pretty church but, sadly, it appeared to be all locked up.|
(It occurred to me to take a picture of my lunch for you, but not until I’d finished eating it…with the help of a very fat, very friendly pigeon. He was kind of a creeper, actually. If I hadn’t given him my chips voluntarily, I think he might have beaten me over the head and made off with them anyway.)
|What are YOU looking at?|
Also, something like eight different people tried to sell me a Paddington bear. Who knew Paddy was still so popular? Not me. I actually thought about buying one as a souvenir, but thanks to a bit of absent-mindedness while transferring my belongings from backpack to purse (don't you hate it when that happens?), I barely had enough money to get home as it was...*awkward cough*
|The first person to explain this pub's name to me gets a cookie.|
Lately, my day trips have been fairly mundane (as you can see), but the best thing about that is, I’m getting much more familiar with the less-touristy bits of London. And I’m OK with that. For instance, I walked along the Thames from school almost the whole way home yesterday, got lost, met some very nice bar-people, discovered a part of town I didn’t even know existed, and spent absolutely nothing. I think this is the kind of thing that makes study abroad such a distinctive experience – you encounter the real character of a place, what it’s like “when it’s at home,” and not just the shiny, exciting bits they show you on the tourist brochures.
That said…I have one Kingston study abroad friend in Rome and another in Madrid this weekend! Possibly as a result, I’m a bit itchy to get Euro-trotting myself. Josh and I are going over some travel plans this weekend, but I’m also planning to see/travel with friends in Prague and France, so we’ll see how those logistics shake out. As usual, stay tuned. Dunno where this ride is going, but it'll probably be a bumpy one.