Danielle Morris

Danielle Morris
2016, Art History
My name is Danielle and I am an Art History major studying abroad who made a blog to document my trip. For the entire year I will be studying at Queen Mary, University of London. I plan on traveling all over to experience as much as I can while managing classes.

My Birthday in the UK

I have spent the past three birthdays away from home, so celebrating my birthday with new people in new places is not new phenomena. Despite that, this year I had one of my best birthdays I can recall, and it is not specifically because I am in London or because I have “finally escaped” my family. It was just generally a great day with great people.

I woke up to a video from my family singing me “Happy Birthday,” which was a nice change from the typical voice mail rendition of the song. One thing I am still confused about is why they decided to record in my room instead of anywhere else in the house.

The day didn’t start with any expectations that it was going to be a day filled with excitement or that much of anything was going to happen. I am not a big party person and would much rather have a fun night with a group of people then some sort of rager. I went to class in the morning, a class I ended up switching out of, and came back to the flat to take a nap. Right as I was waking up Sophie texts asking where I am and what my plans are for the day.

I came out of my room and into the kitchen finding Sophie, Hetty and Shannon around the table with cupcakes and cards on the table. Yes, they were store bought, but they were still delicious. Including the cards and drawings on them there were a total of eleven cupcakes thanks to the addition of Hetty’s artwork.

At about seven o’clock three of my flatmates including Jack, who is pretty much a flatmate at this point, took me out to dinner. They would not tell me where we were going or even which tube we were taking until we got to it. Of course the entire time I kept pestering them to find out where we were stopping or what we might be eating. They would not tell me no matter what. We finally got out of the station and walked right past the London Eye down the Thames, and it was beautiful at night with the lights with fewer people around compared to the day.

Flashback: A week or so before while walking around Covent Gardens, my flatmates and I found a Mexican food restaurant called Benito’s Hat. As a result, I had the honor of showing what Mexican food could taste like while getting to eat a delicious burrito with Sophie and Hetty. They kept pointing out the quesadillas on the menu since I had said I could make them before. They know the basics right now, but by the time I’m done with them they will likely know more about Mexican than they could have asked for.

So as you probably guessed at this point, they took me to Wahaca, which the internet said was the best Mexican restaurant in London. We waited for a table up at the bar where I had the best two Mojitos I could have ever imagined, but those are just two of the delicious choices on their drinks menu. The food was satisfying, especially their tacos, but I doubt it would stand a chance against the hole-in-the-wall Mexican food places in San Diego or Santa Cruz. Still, I did get their delicious guacamole recipe along with matchbook style chili pepper seeds to plant.

While waiting for our food my friends learned the difference between nachos and tortilla chips. I had to explain that nachos are made from tortilla chips (crisps if you want to be nit-picky) and while nachos have cheese and other toppings on them, they are not inherently the same thing. Of course that was only important to me, but it was funny trying to explain the difference.

They later revealed that they wanted to take me to get Mexican food to make me feel more at home in London on my birthday. I thought was extremely sweet and thoughtful of them, so if you read this thank you again. The scenery was breathtaking on the way back as well and all in all wrapped up a great day.

I am extremely grateful for the friends I have made here so far, and while I have only known them for a few weeks it feels like its been forever, in a good way.

Modules Have Begun

Classes started a few weeks ago so I finally have a really reason to get up before 9am. I was starting to become one of those people that wanted to go back to school because it gives me something to do and think about.

I am excited for my classes although none of them are easy. The university categorizes modules by level, so I am currently taking three meant for second year and one for final year students. The last one will be much more difficult because they expect a higher caliber of work and theorizing. I think I am up to the challenge.

So far I like that classes only meet once a week with a section or film screening later on. It allows for more free time to do other things, but it also means I need to be productive on my own. I need to work on my individual productivity the most because I have grown used to constant class meetings covering all material pertaining to the courses in great detail. One two hour lecture a week obviously has less time for class-wide theorizing on major topics, so it is all up to me to connect the dots and make further connections.

Since art history isn’t technically a major here I am taking a combination of history and film classes, but this semester they are offering a class in Impressionism and another in Modern Art. I was enrolled in a Spanish Realism course but I mistakenly thought that it was Spanish fine art, not literature. I didn’t realize my mistake until receiving the reading list for the course and downloading one of the books. I noticed that the entire book was in Spanish and then checked if the other six were also not in English. After realizing that all of the full novels that I would need to read were in Spanish, I decided to switch into Cine-Museology, which focuses on theorizing cinema and the museum. This will likely be one of my hardest classes, but also the one that I am most interested in. There are only eight students enrolled and we screened Woody Allen’s “Manhattan” on the first day; all of these are promising characteristics of a class.

One great thing about the amount of free time is that I could take a trip down to Covent Garden with my flatmates, Sophie and Hetty, on Tuesday to walk around and explore without having to worry about classes or class work. There were musicians to be heard, food to be eaten and sights to be seen. There was a talented group of people playing string instruments who drew a large crowd on the balconies above them, so I got to enjoy their music until their time was up.

With this kind of time on my hands I am either going to be very well traveled within London and broke, or I will be making money with a part time job and much less free time. Hopefully I can manage a combination of the two!

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