A new month, a new update, and welcome to Spring Break!

I don’t know if I’ve already said this, but March has been one of the toughest months since I’ve been here. At the beginning of the month we were still in the early stages of group exhibition projects, summer internship placements were being decided, and the deadline for dissertation proposals was looming. I was thinking to myself that April could not come soon enough…

Group 'Faraday' and finished exhibition! Photo courtesy of Yoomin Ko

Six weeks ago we were split into groups with people we had never worked with before, given four unique objects, £150 budget, a project brief, and sent off to create an exhibition. Through a lot of agonizing team meetings, consultation with staff members, and a lot of DIY spirit, we came up with our exhibition ‘Reflections of Decoration’, that is now on display in the Museum Studies Department. In that time I’ve also managed to secure a summer internship placement at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, just recently reopened after a £24 million refurbishment. And yes, I submitted a dissertation proposal on the topic of museum disposal (throw stuff away! Uh, just kidding…), and have since had my first meeting with my dissertation supervisor.

Museum Society End of Lectures Party. Photo courtesy of Laura Gordon

To alleviate the stress there were fun times too. I was able to see the Queen (and Prince Philip, and Duchess Kate) start her Diamond Jubilee tour here in Leicester. I’ve never seen any US president, but now I have seen the Queen! I also made a visit to the famed Stonehenge, and nearby Salisbury Cathedral, where we viewed a page from the 1215 AD Magna Carta on display. There was also a daytrip to Liverpool, home to the Beatles, and to a multitude of museums of which we tried to see as many as possible. And unfortunately, through all of March I was sick multiple times, to the point where I cancelled a trip to Budapest, Hungary this weekend in order to recover from a suspected chest infection. Sad.

Regardless, I’m relieved that it is now SPRING BREAK, and I have the chance for some real rest and relaxation. Thanks to family and friends for their support thus far.

Six months down, six months to go…

Stonehenge is behind there somewhere...

Stonehenge Panorama

Liverpool Panorama, view from the Museum of Liverpool.

Less study, more travel.

Hello and Happy Sunday,

I know at least one person has been wondering when I was going to update again. I’m 5 weeks away from Christmas break now, and I’ve just had a relaxing “reading week”. I ambitiously finished my essay a week in advance, so I’ve had this entire week to myself, and took a 3 day trip up to York (4 hours north). York is known for York Minster, the largest Gothic structure in England, as well as some pretty neat museums. The highlight of the trip was probably attending the evensong service in the cathedral at night, and hearing the boys choir.

York is definitely my favourite place so far, but I loved Canterbury Cathedral as well, especially having read ‘Canterbury Tales’. I managed to visit on a Sunday in time for the service, and so I was able to take communion. I felt like a modern day pilgrim walking up to the high altar and kneeling down to take the cup. November 5th was also pretty exciting, as all across England they celebrate Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605, with bonfires and fireworks.

As if by accident, or divine intervention, I also have no class this week. My special option course (World Arts/Museum Ethnography) does not meet until February, but I do plan prepare more for what’s ahead. In a few weeks I’ll need to give a 20 minute presentation on “How can museums and galleries manage their human resources to better cope with the challenges and opportunities posed by continuous change?” Very interesting subjects 🙂 I’m only telling you this so that you know I’m getting lots of work done and not just travelling about and having fun.

But it’s the fun things I like to talk about, and probably what you would prefer to hear about. So far I’ve visited Nottingham, Sheffield, Cambridge, Brighton, Canterbury, the White Cliffs of Dover (with a view over to France), York (with a brief stop in Leeds), I’ve taken a countryside hike with local couchsurfers, and on Saturday I’ll visit Bath for the day, and Edinburgh the following weekend. Grandpa, you should have no trouble finding all these places on the map. And lastly, thanks for reading.


First week at University of Leicester, UK

Hello everyone, I’ve been gone a little over a week now and I finally have a chance to update you on how I’ve been doing. The journey from Chicago to Leicester was a long one, leaving for O’Hare Airport at 1:30pm on Monday, September 27th, and after flight delays, deplaning, re-boarding, arriving, waiting for the coach etc, we arrived in Leicester at about 2:30pm local time on Tuesday the 28th. And we arrived to accommodation that was in disarray. Meaning that they weren’t prepared at all, and until Saturday evening I couldn’t even get into my room and stayed in a temporary one. The stress of a new place, feeling unsettled, and knowing no one made for a difficult first few days. And the days were filled with lots of seminars about things like life in Leicester, the grading system in the UK, and that if we skip lecture without excuse the UK Border Agency will kindly send us back home. Thanks for the warning…

Aside from all the not so good things, there were quite a few positives. I took a walking tour of Ancient Leicester and discovered that the city is nearly 2000 years old, with some of the most unique Roman ruins in England, some Anglo-Saxon history, and a town hall dating to 1380. Nice. To round out the week I went with a group to see Nottingham Castle on Saturday, of Robin Hood fame, so I took a picture with Robin’s statue! And Sunday I went to a church and was offered an amazing lunch while meeting church members, and in the evening went to the pub across the street. Meeting such an international group of students has been intriguing, especially considering that 18 countries are represented in my program alone, of about 85 people or so. I have 2 flatmates from China, 1 from Taiwan, and I still haven’t met the other because she stays in her room all the time…

But alas, classes started Monday and I can already tell that my program will be very difficult. But I won’t bore you with those details until later. I’ll leave you with a few little funny anecdotes: A Chinese girl asked me if I loved Justin Bieber, because she is crazy about him. And I was informed that the currency I had brought from home was “expired”, but a British student bought it off me saying “it will be worth something in 10 years!” And finally, the construction worker who stopped my friend to ask where she was from, and upon learning NY said “Are you talkin’ to me??” in the best Brooklyn accent that a British construction worker can be expected to give.

More soon, I’ll put pictures on facebook as well.

Ancient Roman ruins against the backdrop of modern Leicester: Jewry Wall