Burlesque, Bikes and Beer

A weekend dedicated to experiencing the best London has to offer.

I have been in London for three weeks now, and I feel as if I am settling in. I have a favorite coffee shop that I visit before classes, I know which pubs are the best ones to go to on the various nights of the week, and I can even navigate my way around the tube without carrying a map inches away from my face (though I still carry one with me whenever I leave the apartment). Even though three weeks isn’t a very long time period, I am feeling comfortable living in London, and sometimes, I have to pinch myself when I realized how quickly I adjusted to a new, not to mention entirely foreign, environment.


Though it’s great to have gotten into a natural rhythm here, the excitement of being in a new place has diminished somewhat. Instead of my initial feelings that everything I tried was a new experience, things are feeling rather comfortable. But as the initial excitement has subsided, I was surprised to experience occasional bouts of homesickness. I find that calls with my boyfriend are longer, e-mails with my family members are more frequent, and I truly miss not being able to participate in SU's fall campus activities.  In fact, I ended up crying to one of my friends on the phone for an hour last weekend. Good thing that the UK offers this special wireless service where it’s inexpensive. (But seriously, thanks Gab. You're the best)


I found it embarrassing that at the age of 21, I came down with this wave of homesickness.  Aren’t we supposed to become immune to it after the age of 11 after learning how to survive at camps and sleepover parties? What came as surprising (and relieving) to me is that many of my classmates have experienced the same feelings to some extent.  Apparently it’s common for students studying abroad to start missing home around this time.


But these bouts of homesickness are fleeting, and they are further reduced by all the activities that Farraday has arranged for the SU Abroad students.  In fact, this past weekend, Farraday arranged “Love London,” an entire weekend of activities and events dedicated to showing us the best that London has to offer.


I chose to attend four different events.   On Thursday night, a group of students and I attended the musical, “Billy Elliot.” Billy Elliott was the first musical I’ve seen, and it set a very high bar.  Everything, from the cast to the set, was exceptional. The main star, who is only about 11 years old, stole the show. I fell in love with the little guy because he has an uncanny resemblance to Justin Bieber.  Though in actuality, he is considerably more talented that Justin; he never misses on the high notes and definitely can dance better than Biebs.



Next came a tour of the Chiswick Fullers’ brewery. The brewery tour not only taught us the step-by-step process of how beer is made, but also included a complimentary beer tasting. And when I say tasting, I mean each sample was served in a VERY tall glass. I can safely say that sampling at least six different varieties of beer at 11 in the morning was an experience that all on the tour will remember (or maybe not depending on their alcohol tolerance).



The third event was to go to a Burlesque show called “Briefs.” I have always enjoyed attending LBGT-awareness events. Whether they're marches, parades, or drag shows, I love attending events that challenge our socially constructed (and largely flawed) views of masculinity and femininity. “Briefs,” an all-male variety show, brought burlesque to the Southbank Centre, and definitely challenged societal norms. With the glitter, and feathers and beautiful men, I felt like I was watching Burlesque and Magic Mike, two of my favorites, simultaneously. Besides, what’s better than watching half-naked men dance around on stage to pop music?


Finally, on Sunday morning about thirty of us took a guided bike tour of London: I have to say this was my favorite, though it was also, by far, the scariest.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, drivers and cyclists in London are daredevils who drive way too fast and who insist on driving on the wrong side of the road. So crossing the Tower Bridge and attempting to keep up with traffic was terrifying. The one good thing that can be said about London drivers is that they at least recognize that they need to share the road with bicyclists.  If it were New York City, they would have been sending my squashed carcass back to my parents by this time. However, the exercise was much needed. A three-hour bike ride, that hit landmarks ranging from the London Eye to Westminster Abbey to St. Paul’s Cathedral, really helped me to get to know London’s landscape and history much better.


I came to realize that homesickness is easily healed when I challenge myself to continue to try new things. Next week, I’m going to tour Buckingham palace and to get on the London Eye.  So, in reality, a semester isn’t a very long amount of time at all. Might as well make the most of every minute and not dwell on what I’m missing out on back home. 


Post new comment

* Field must be completed for your comment to appear on The NewsHouse
The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.