Sunday, January 29, 2012

Love Churchill, Hate Thatcher, and Know Who Johnny and the Moondogs Were

My fellow Hillcats, I am writing to you from the rainy land of rugby and communal bathrooms. I've just finished my pre-sessional class "British Culture and Politics since 1945" and am currently working on the paper that's due a week from now. Despite how dreadfully dull it sounds, the class was actually extremely interesting and the professor was great at making the traditionally dreary topics exciting. We studied British music and cinema that coincided with political and social strife of the times, and took a few day-long field trips to places like Bath, St. Fagans, and Worms Head at Gower (seriously, Google it, it's beautiful). These trips included exploring old coal mines, a castle, gorgeous coastlines, and gigantic and ancient Roman bath houses. The wet weather was killer at times, but the trips were great. The students in the class are all American, and we all reacted with the gaping, wide-eyed look of tourists to our surroundings. Fun times. Such exploits have made me reflect on what attitude a traveler should have. Ought I to take it all in stride, checking my enthusiasm until it's finally squashed? Or should I instead leave my joy and awe sketched upon my face, showing that I truly appreciate the newness of the experience? With considerations given to the fact that the second option marks me as an easy target for pick-pockets and people that would take advantage of a tourist, I've decided that a little more subtlety might be merited whilst traversing the globe. That said, I think I've finally gotten to the point where I can blend in with the locals (as long as I don't talk) and enjoy myself at the same time. Another handy - and fun - way I've been acclimating is by hanging out with my flatmates and new-found British friends. We've hit the best spots to eat on a college budget (the Swansea equivalents of Wings to Go and Little Caesar's), went shopping at the city market, and relaxed at a few local pubs. They've helped me with stuff I never would have thought I'd have trouble with, like how to work the oven in the kitchen (don't laugh, it's harder than it sounds) and the shower (again, surprisingly difficult). It's taken two weeks, but I think I've finally got the place mostly figured out. The spring term starts tomorrow, so I'm off to bed (it's six hours ahead of CST here). Cheers!