Tellus: (tel’us), n. 1. [Latin] earth, soil, and the land; a country; the world. 2. a collection of Willamette University student’s insights, stories, photos and thoughts from their experiences studying abroad.

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Ben Meets Ben

(This blog entry originally appeared on my personal travel blog, Fisch and Chips, on September 15, 2013.):

Whew!  Today was quite the adventure in London!  There were plenty of famous landmarks all fairly close to each other, so I got quite a bit of sightseeing in.

I’ve been on top of my homework so far, so I decided to go to another destination on my Criminal Justice Pilgrimage: Scotland Yard, the headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service!

…Yeah, it’s a building.  As cool and significant a building as it is, it wasn’t exactly enough to justify a trip all the way into London.  Fortunately, there were plenty of nearby destinations, some of which I had noted earlier on a map.  One destination I hadn’t marked was Buckingham Palace, which, to my surprise and pleasure, was fairly near by.  Following a series of signs helpfully left for tourists, I finally found the fabled British royal residence.  The surrounding area was REALLY packed.

Unfortunately, while I may be excellent at following instructions to a destination, I am less than stellar at retracing my footsteps.  To translate that into simpler terms, I got lost and wandered aimlessly around London until I found the Tube station back to the Scotland Yard area.  Once again where I started, I went the other way towards the River Thames.  Why did I go there?  Well…

Yep, that’s Big Ben, the famous bell/clock tower alongside the British Houses of Parliament.  Speaking of which…

That’s right!  Even though I’m scheduled to visit Parliament again later in the semester as part of my classes, I couldn’t help but check out the exterior, as it’s such a beautiful building.  Also, as an originator of statutory laws, Parliament is a legitimate stop on the Criminal Justice Pilgrimage.

I also saw Westminster Abbey, which was nearby.

In the general area of Westminster Abbey and Parliament are statues of various British political figures (and some non-British ones, like Abraham Lincoln and Nelson Mandela) and small parks.  Right across the River Thames was the always-watching London Eye:

I could hear it calling me with its siren song of an exhilarating ride, but since I didn’t want to be too late getting home, I decided to head out.  Maybe another time…

This has been a fun weekend, and I’ve really been settling in here in England.  I now feel that I’ve got my necessary routines down (although I have no doubt that they will be thrown into the fires of anarchy when the homework becomes more intense/I become more sociable) and I feel almost at home.

That being said, I’ve had two unusual experiences this weekend that remind me that I’ve stepped into something of a new world.

First: Last night, as I was returning home from the pub, I passed by a large crowd of young women (with maybe one or two men), many of whom seemed to have had a drink or two beforehand.  As I passed them, they started saying “Good Night!” to me.

Wait, it gets weirder: Just as I passed the last few women, one of them said to me, “Good Night, Harry Potter!”

…I’m sure that the English nightlife will continue to bring interesting experiences

Second: While exploring London today, I found this neat little bin:

Apparently, knife violence is a serious problem in London and these bins offer a convenient way for honest civilians to rid themselves of potential weaponry.  It’s something that I’ve certainly never seen in the United States.

So yeah, my first week in England has included exploration, light culture shock, socializing, settling in, homework, and (naturally) blogging.

Here’s hoping my second week goes well!

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