Spent the whole day in the library.
12:30pm-6pm I was in New Hunt’s House Library. It’s a Saturday so I got a window desk WITH a computer all to myself!! Then spent 7:45-9:45pm in FWB library. I know the exact times because they make you sign in and out.
My butt got sore, so walked back to Stamford Street from London bridge- along the River Thames. Oh man. So beautiful. It was crisp and chilly but not in a sharp painful way and it was lively with people all around and the buildings and lights shining on either side of the river. I had to stop in front of Tate Modern and stare at the view. I’m going to miss London so much. The history, the beauty, the architecture ,the life, the people, the atmosphere, the never ending adventure, the food, the diversity, the shopping, the culture, the everything. But I think the thing I’m going to miss most is the feeling I have when I’m here. I feel blessed. For having the opportunity to be here, and to explore the world, and my youth, and my adventures, and the people I meet, and probably most importantly the self-discoveries I’ve made here. It truly is a once in a lifetime experience and I’m going to enjoy every last second of it. Even from the library.
Don’t worry, I’ll be living it up on Monday at the KCLSU Winter Ball :)
Tonight was my first night in London where I got to meet and hand out food to the homeless. Representing Kings College of London Hot Chocolate Society, Eugenia, Marvin, Johan (spelling?) and I started walking around Waterloo in search of hungry people on the streets.
We finally found our first homeless individual after about 15 minutes of walking around. He had a beautiful dog and although I didn’t personally get to speak to him much, he seemed to be an extremely friendly and wise individually. The first thing that struck me was that there was a woman casually talking to him when we approached him. She seemed to be on her way out or in the station, and was stopping by to have a conversation with a friend. This is a scene that I see quite often in London. There’s lots of people who stop and have conversations with people on the street. Asking them how they’re doing, how they’ve been, if they need anything, or just to share a story. Just old friends catching up: no judgement, no charity, just friends.
This is quite different then I how I see the homeless being treated in the States. In busy cities they’re often looked down on, ignored, pitied. Los Angeles is a whole different scenario: Skid Row is a different world. Homeless people are confined and criminalized even- but that’s a whole different story.
The next person we met was Billy. Billy had a pitbull with the most beautiful coat. He showed us his tricks, his name was “bonkers”. “It’s (British) English for crazy” Billy told us “right now he’s calm because it’s cold, but in the warm he’s bonkers!”.
"So you can tell we’re not from here?" I asked him - although our American accents are obvious. You never know, maybe I picked up a little in the past few months?
"You’re from the states. The east coast … I’m thinking New York, Manhattan?" Spot on- this is where Eugenia is from. Amazed, I asked about me. He started out guessing Connecticut, then Kansas, but after being guided to the western part of the states he told me "California. Burbank area". Darn close enough. When Marvin told him he was from Singapore, Billy guessed the city he was from - correctly. "I’m good with accents. You all talk differently" he told us. Then he went into an explanation of Coloquialism (?) and how people used to talk like they did in Shakespeare in two towns in the UK … Yorkshire..and somewhere else? I wasn’t a very good student obviously, but he continued on to have a conversation with Eugenia about psychology (Freud…and others…that’s all I caught on). I have some studying to do…
We walked all around Waterloo and strand and got to meet a few more people. Then the first and only rude thing happened. We were near the west end of Strand and were talking to a sweet guy, when a group of well dressed 20 -something year olds walk by. “HI! NEVER SEEN A BEGGAR BEFORE?” a guy yells as he walked by. “Don’t be rude!” I shout back out of impulse. He then continues on (in passing) “Bet you’d like to see what’s in my bag”. Hot headed I couldn’t help but yell “ASS-hole” to the group as they snickered and walked by. (To note, the “hole” was a lot quieter than the “ASS”. It was an impulse yell, my bad).
I was standing quite a distance from the man we were handing out food too, so hopefully he didn’t hear what happened- but after they chatted with him and we walked away, Marvin told me not to worry about people like that. “They want to get a reaction out of us, don’t give it to them”. Johan pitched in that they were just ignorant. But that’s the dilemma that I have often when it comes to speaking up. Comments like that- unnecessary, rude, and hurtful. Is it right to speak up and say something, or to just let it go? I pick and choose my battles, and don’t yell at anyone who has ever yelled anything rude or racist at me (everything from “Ni Hao! Konichiwa!” to “Would you like to get married for citizenship?” to “Me love you long time”). I let most ignorant comments go, bite my tongue and walk on by. But when they get a little too much I can’t help but say something in response, like “I’m American, but thanks” or “Excuse me, was that a racist comment”. The way I see it, some people just don’t realize that they’re being extremely offensive. And other times I feel like they are used to not getting a response and getting away with it- so I feel the need to stand up and not let myself be voiceless. I don’t feel it’s a lost cause. Maybe it’s because I’m confrontational. I don’t like avoiding situations and ignorant people, I don’t believe that they should be able to say whatever they want. I personally don’t feel like I lose anything by stepping up and expressing how those words make me feel. I would believe that I would be stooping to their level only if I retaliated with an equally offensive comment. But I digress.
We met two guys from Romania near Strand and Waterloo bridge - Valentine and Ellie. Ellie seemed a lot smaller and timid, and as I crouched down to talk to him I felt the downward gazes from people walking by. We were in a nicer area (like with the man we were talking to previously) and I realized that in London too, there are people who aren’t so keen on homeless people.
Our last stop was across Waterloo bridge. During the day, I only see one homeless man - sitting on a stool and selling magazines (just saw a man buy one this morning on my way to class, and it made me smile). Tonight, there were at least five spread out across the bridge. We handed out the last of our warm hot chocolate and met a couple from Scotland. When asking the woman if she wanted anything to keep warm, she answered “I’ve got my love”. And the man smiled and kissed her head and they shamelessly flirted. Must be niceee. She then mentioned how she wanted chow mein -but without the spices, and then shivered back under the sleeping bag. This bridge was freezing. By the time I got back to my flat, my right hand was numb. Couldn’t open or close it much- California can’t hang, but really it was chilly. Waterloo bridge may not be the best place to stay on, but they’re there because of the traffic of people and buses passing by?
I’m still processing my experience in London tonight. Overall, I’ve seen a (WAY) less hostile situation for the homeless individuals in London vs LA. I’ve definitely seen better treatment of people living on the streets, and a lot lot less (open) drug and alcohol abuse, intoxication, or mental instability (only saw one man visibly mentally unstable). The standard of living seems to be a little different too. Most people weren’t in need of food having already eaten and even had some food stored (although the warm hot chocolate was always accepted). Multiple people asked for change to pay for shelter - apparently shelter isn’t free for the homeless in London? There’s more research I have to do, and granted this was my first and only experience interacting with the homeless in London.
As always, it was a heart warming and eye opening experience. Thank you to the KCL Hot Chocolate Society, and the individuals who took the time to talk to us tonight.
Weiner: Vienna. So Weiner Schnitzel: Viennese schnitzel. And it does not mean the best fast food chain in the US. They are not the same thing. But they are both amazing.
First night we attempted to make it to the Belvedere. Well we succeeded. But it was a treck. One thing I discovered in Vienna: I think I’m allergic to all of Europe. Mini asthma flared up but quickly went down.
Stayed at the Wombat’s Hostel: AMAZE ING. So clean, so affordable, best hostel I’ve stayed at.
The second day we traveled around Vienna.
But the highlight of the day may have been this hot chocolate: with ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and cinnamon. You will never find anything better. Coffee Day, you are the best place in Vienna.
The christmas market was wonderful too (although a little over crowded.) Mind you this is the second weekend of November. I’m sorry but I still think it’s too early :(
The rest of the photos are St.Stephens Cathedral and the city center.
Not picture was the Mozart quartet concert at the Mozart Haus Vienna and a stroll in the Mozart Haus Museum.
Things I loved about my Venice trip:
-The city center was lovely and lively. As always the architecture is beautiful.
- There seems to be a lot of Jewish history here (which we unfortunately couldn’t explore because the Vienna Jewish Museum was *exceptionally* closed for the day
- The musical history! Mozart! Schubert! Beethoven! Although they were not all born in Vienna, they studied in Vienna and there’s so much musical history in Vienna. Beautful and SO COOL to be able to physically relate to all the pieces I’ve learned.
-The food! well mostly the weiner schnitzel. And the hot chocolate. And the apple strudel. I’ll embarrassingly admit the McDonalds in Vienna isn’t too shabby either.
- Christmas. well it was beautiful but a little too early.
- THE HOSTEL! Check out Wombat Hostels- they’re all over Europe and hands down THE BEST.
- Good quality time with new and old friends.
Things I didn’t fancy too much:
- The weather lied. 50 F my butt. Was more of a 40 and windy and I was not prepared. So i bought 6 euro polar bear ear muffs. I’m 22. btw.
- “Ni Hau, Konnichiwa, Moshi Moshi, Koreeannnn, Anyohaseyooo”. Was really the first time I felt super offended while in Europe. Too much bros, too much. My catch phrase became “AMERICAN!!”. And walking away.