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Sights, scenes and the queen herself

May 27, 2010

EDITOR'S NOTE: Throughout the summer, ASU students studying abroad will be writing back to the states about their overseas adventures. Fostering international student experiences is just one part of ASU's commitment to making a global impact.

Kitt's blog:

I suppose, this being my first blog ever, I ought to introduce myself a bit. Once upon a time, I was born in a far away land known as Phoenix, Ariz. Since then, nothing of note has happened.

So now, you’re up to speed. OK, fine ... a little more. I’m an ASU senior majoring in creative writing and minoring in theater. Two years ago, I went on a study abroad trip to Italy and Greece. I loved it so much that I decided to join on a second study abroad trip this summer, traveling to London, Dublin and Edinburgh with the Barrett Honors College.

I‘ve been in London almost a week now. We were stranded at Heathrow upon arrival for about an hour or so, then we bussed into the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which is where we’re living, in the center of London. The first bit of culture shock isn’t so much cultural as agricultural: everything in London is green. There are parks and small community gardens everywhere. There are trees taller than five-story buildings. There are flowers and grass and ivy and every possible type of greenery imaginable. For a lifetime Arizonan, it makes quite a change.

In just a week, we’ve done so much. Our first day here, we took a bus tour of the city and then visited Westminster Abbey, where hundreds of famous and influential people are buried or memorialized, including Charles Darwin; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and Queen Elizabeth I. There’s an enormous memorial to William Shakespeare as well. The building is a mastery of Gothic architecture, foreboding and enormous. There are no pictures allowed inside, as the abbey is still a working church.

The next few days were all a blur. Monday we had our first day of classes, then Tuesday, several of us went to see the Queen open Parliament. Usually, the state opening of Parliament is held in November or December, however, due to the recent election, it was opened this week. The Queen arrived surrounded by an enormous honor guard. There are horses and carriages and a band (which played, for some odd reason, American showtunes, including “There’s No Business Like Show Business” and “Seventy-Six Trombones”).

The Queen herself arrived in a gilded carriage in the middle of the procession. She’s looking amazing for 84 – she literally glitters. When the Queen arrived in Parliament, she gave the “Queen’s Speech,” which was actually written by the new Prime Minister. Then, a scant 45 minutes or so later, she left Parliament in the same cloud of fanfare.

That was definitely the highlight of the trip so far. We’ve also gone to the British Museum, visited Stonehenge and the city of Bath, and had more classes. I’ll attend to Bath next time, but suffice it to say, I’d love to live there.

Kathrine (Kitt) Keller, a creative writing major, will be a senior this fall. She is studying abroad in London, Dublin and Edinburgh this summer.