Myles ’14 Immersed in London’s Culture

David Myles ’14 – I’ve wrapped up my initial time in England, and with final exams right around the corner, a part of me has definitely gotten used to living in London. Walking and people watching on my way to class every morning is perhaps my favorite activity. Simple, yes, but people watching in London is on a level that is incomparable to the Midwest, let alone Crawfordsville. The mostly homogeneous population of central Indiana stands in stark contrast to the diversity one sees within mere seconds of stepping out onto the sidewalk. I referenced this in  my previous blog post, and it still continues to boggle my mind.

Frankly, I haven’t done much else over the last week. My course term paper was due this morning at 9, and I have spent my weeknights combing through primary sources and reviewing my lecture notes to ensure that my time here at the LSE is not wasted. Boring, maybe, but anyone that knows me can attest to the fact that I have a tendency to over think just about everything, especially when it comes to my writing. Thus is the curse of an English major.

My weekends, however, have been quite lively. I forgot to mention in my previous blog that on my first Saturday in London, a few friends and I made our way to Hyde Park to listen to The Rolling Stones. I say listen because there was a fifteen-foot barrier around the entire concert, making it nearly impossible to catch a glimpse of Mick Jagger rocking out, without paying the outrageous ticket prices. Unless you decided to climb a tree, which meant that you needed to climb high enough so as not to be spotted by the police. I was not this daring. Still, being able to hear Sympathy for the Devil, You Can’t Always Get What You Want and other classic tracks live was an experience I won’t soon forget.

Last Friday a group of us journeyed to tourist central in order to experience the London Eye, the giant Ferris wheel on the River Thames. The glass carriages provided views of the London cityscape that are unrivaled anywhere else in the city. Big Ben in all of its majesty was at our feet, as we stared down The Shard, the tallest building in Western Europe. Some bar hopping followed, with loud, honest conversation that only the unique British pub atmosphere could provide. Saturday was a bit slower of a day, due to Friday night, and I took in the beauty of Trafalgar Square and the grandeur of Buckingham Palace.

This past week of class was phenomenal though, due to the list of guest speakers that followed the lectures. We heard from Guy Gunaratne, one of the filmmakers behind the documentary, “The Truth that Wasn’t There.” Guy and his team were merely graduate students in 2009 when they became the first journalists allowed into Sri Lanka following the conclusion of their civil war. Yesterday’s speaker was Jenny Kleeman, now one of my personal heroes, who has travelled the world for Channel 4’s Unreported

World investigative documentary series. Ms. Kleeman has interviewed human traffickers in Nigeria, Taliban commanders, and even went undercover in the press office of Britain’s Labour Party to get the real story on the 2005 election. I urge you to watch her films, for they are not only hard hitting but also examples of true journalism in the otherwise shallow and diluted field that is mass media.

Today’s speaker was Neil Wallis, a former Deputy Editor from the now closed News of the World tabloid, and one of the individuals arrested on corruption charges stemming from the recent phone-hacking scandal. After nineteen long months out on bail and out of work, Mr. Wallis was cleared of any wrongdoing. He was able to provide a perspective on that scandal and British tabloid journalism in general that I never would have been exposed to had I not chosen to come to the LSE.

I should note that even in London, one is not too far away from Wabash. Art Howe ‘82, who is also an LSE alumnus, emailed me after reading last week’s blog and gave me great advice on things to do and where to go in London. I also received an email from Kyle Bender ’12 who is in London this week attending meetings for Teach for America. Tomorrow we’ll be visiting the British Museum, followed by other crucial destinations that every tourist in London has to visit. Very few alumni from very few schools would go out of their way like Kyle and Art did, and it is a big reason that Wabash is one of the greatest liberal arts colleges in world.

I want to thank again the Study Abroad Committee and the Rudolph family for making this opportunity possible. Check back next week for details on my final week in London, and to find out if stressing so much over my paper was worth it. Cheers!

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