Monday, 30 June 2014

First day of Class!

Duke Humphrey's Library 
Hello readers!  Here we have come to the reason for this blog: LIS library visits! Today was the first official class day (not counting orientation and neighborhood walks) and it was full of adventure. Our class took a two hour coach ride to Oxford to see the Bodleian Library.  Many of you lovely readers will be pleased to know that I did, in fact, sit in the hospital wing, stand on the staircase, and walk through the great hall of Hogwarts while in Oxford. I'll post pictures below!

But first, the Bodleian. The Bodleian Library is the main research library for Oxford University. It was opened to scholars in 1602 by Sir Thomas Bodley. Bodley built this library to house the collection from Oxford's earlier library that was destroyed. This collection was made of 300 books from Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, King Henry V's younger brother and the first patron of the library.

The Bodleian is the oldest part of the University of Oxford and houses 30 million books. It continues to be a working research and reference library. As we passed through the security desk to walk up the stairs to the library, we were told to put our cameras away, as photos were not allowed of the library itself. We started up the stairs and passed many bulletin boards displaying the happenings around campus, large reading room, and group study rooms, before making our way to where the books are housed.  Let me just say that this library was absolutely gorgeous. Remember the library used in the first Harry Potter books (the restricted section)? This was it!

One of the things I found most interesting about the Bodleian is the fact that, not only is it so large, but it is so incredibly old. Our guide passed around a few of the books in the collection for us to look at, and it just amazed me that I was able to touch a book that was so old and fragile.

Students who attend the University of Oxford must take an oath in order to be granted privilege to use the library. This oath is typically said orally, but recently students can sign an agreement. The oath is below:

I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.

After the Bodleian Library, we visited Christ Church College. Christ Church is where one of the main staircases of Harry Potter was filmed, and what the Great Hall was fashioned after.  Not only was the interior of this college gorgeous, but the gardens were magnificent. See the photos below for proof!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Gift Shops in the Crypts

Sunday morning means church for many people...including us! We trekked down to St. Paul's Cathedral for the Eucharist service. St. Paul's is Anglican (Church of England) and the service was very different than this Baptist was used to. It was extremely interesting to be part of such a different service though! 
St. Paul's Cathedral Dome
We sat right beneath the dome during the service because we were told the acoustics were amazing, and they definitely were.

After the service we made our way down to the crypts, where the gift shop and cafe are located. I found that fact particularly funny.  We decided not to stay long at the cathedral because we would be visiting again for the class, and we headed out toward the Tower of London!

On our way to the tower we passed some very beautiful benches. London has created an art exhibit throughout the city in the form of book benches: benches that are decorated as famous books set in London. These were the two we found:
Mary Poppins

Peter Pan
The next section of my day will best be described in pictures. We spent a good portion of the afternoon at the Tower of London where we took in a tour, saw the crown jewels, and got sopping wet in a nice rain storm. We weren't able to see it all, so we are definitely going back again before the trip is over! Look forward to seeing even more pictures of the Tower!
Our guide for the afternoon

Traitor's Gate

Part of the tower, and the huge crowd

The memorial to Henry VIII's wives, supposedly the spot where Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard were beheaded

The Crown Jewels! We weren't allowed to photograph the actual jewels
You could clearly see the Tower bridge from the Tower of London. So pretty!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

"Can We Take This to the Cricket Match?"

So, I am totally loving hearing the random sentences that pop out of people's mouths as I pass by on the streets of London. This has to be my favorite part of walking places, and people watching. You never know what someone might spout out at just the right moment!  The first thing I heard was "can we take this to the cricket match?" in the most posh British accent I had heard yet. It just seemed so innately British, that I couldn't help but giggle!

On Saturday we had orientation in the morning where we learned about some of the awesome places we are going to visit for class during the month. This trip is so exciting because we get to actually see some of the libraries across England and Scotland and talk to professionals, and in some places we get to visit libraries that aren't open to the public! This is probably super nerdy to most of you readers, but to us few, proud librarian-folk, it is a wonderful opportunity! I won't share with you readers the places that we are going to surprise you, but I will tell you they will be AWESOME!

After the class and program orientations, a group of the LIS students went to get lunch and wander around until the next neighborhood tours started. We went back down to Gabriel's Wharf and had some fancy pizza at Gourmet Pizza Company. By the time we left it had started raining, and I forgot my umbrella back in the room, thankfully the rain was fairly short and light (this time) that we could make it back to the dorm before the tours started without becoming drenched.

My new friend Lindsay and I decided to go on the tour led by the World War II professor. We walked around the London Eye, over Westminster Bridge, toward Parliament and Big Ben (or Queen Elizabeth's Tower as it's called now), around Westminster Abbey, down by Downing Street, around to St. James Palace, and finally toward Trafalgar Square where the tour ended (I'll post pics below!).

After the tour, Lindsay and I began our trek back to the dorm but decided we were starving, we ate at a wonderful italian restaurant under a bridge near Waterloo Station. The fact that there are restaurants and shops under the bridges is such a neat thing!

After dinner, we walked toward Waterloo Bridge (Which is in the opposite direction from the dorm that the station is) and got some frozen yogurt from a neon pink food truck called SNOG (pics below).

We walked with our yogurt down the river toward Millennium Bridge, but didn't cross it or cross under it. I found out later that had we, we would have seen the Globe theatre! Drat!

Here are some photos of the day!
From under the London Eye

Parliament and Queen Elizabeth Tower

The Queen's Gate: This is the gate that the Queen enters when she opens Parliament each season. Only the Queen is allowed to enter this way. This picture definitely doesn't do the gold justice!

The front of Westminster Abbey

Something next to Westminster, it was pretty!

I just thought this monument was so cool that I had to take a pic

This was one of the guards at the Horse Guards Parade. Both the guards on duty at the time were women, so cool!

You can see Buckingham Palace from the middle of this road!

Admiralty Arch, seen from Trafalgar Square

The awesome Frozen Yogurt place! Isn't it so cool looking?

Something cool I found on our walk

Bagpiper on the beach

Friday, 27 June 2014

I Have Arrived!

I arrived in London at 1:00 pm on Friday, or 13:00 as the Europeans say. The flight was so long, and the plane was definitely not as nice as the one I was on to Dublin three years ago.  Customs was a breeze though, and the Customs officer was very intrigued by the fact that Library Science was a thing. I think that threw him for a loop and he didn't care to ask me any more questions, because I definitely had it much easier than some of the people in the program!

We got to the dorm at around 2:30 (14:30), and checked in to our itsy bitsy, teeny tiny dorm rooms. But at least we have our own bathrooms! Apparently in Europe, that is a luxury. I am on the 6th floor, though we have learned that the floors are counted different here than at home, so I am not sure if it would be what we consider the 7th, or actually the 6th, because our first floor is their "ground floor."  My view is of some neighboring buildings, so not very spectacular, and the bed sort of feels like the fold-out sofa beds from hotel rooms. I would post a picture but there isn't a good spot to stand in the room to get the whole thing, it's very small and very narrow.

After getting settled and unpacked, we met for class at 4:30 (16:30) for our neighborhood tours. We walked toward Gabriel's Wharf, then up to Waterloo Station, which was PACKED with people trying to get home. Not only was it Friday during rush hour, but there was some type of delay on one of the trains, so getting anywhere was a feat. We ended up cutting our tour short and headed back to the dorms for a welcome dinner/reception.

All in all, it was a good, albeit overwhelming, first day of this month-long adventure!

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

I'm off to see the world tomorrow!

I leave tomorrow for my study abroad program in London and I am super excited slash kind of (completely) freaking out.  Packing was a nightmare but it's (almost) done and all I really have to worry about is making it to Dallas in time for my flight!
For those following this who don't know (which I kind of doubt there are any of you), I am going on a month-long study abroad trip to London with the University of Southern Mississippi's British Studies Program. There are about 150+ of us going.  I am going with the LIS class to learn about British libraries and information services. I'm so excited!
This blog is part of the course, as my "reflective journal" of sorts, but I am excited to keep track of everything that happens!
Stay tuned, people!