[never]mind the gap (6.25-30.2017 London, England)

I told you in the beginning there would be delays in my posts. Again, I ask your forgiveness. So much has happened in so short a time, and paradoxically I feel that I have both been here forever and only just arrived!

I promised on Facebook that I would cut down on the parenthetical citations (which are just enablers of my tendency to ramble on at length)**, and I intend to stick to that. Bear with me; it won’t be easy.

The highlights:

6.25.2016 travel day

Leaving Stockholm sucked. There’s no eloquent way to put it (I’m sure there is but I can’t be bothered…). I will definitely be back there (with a larger budget…). My last day I spent walking through the streets, aimlessly but knowing all the while that I had to end up at the water. I saw the still vibrant and bustling streets of medieval Stockholm, stood awe struck in front of monumental buildings whose history dates back to before my home country was *a twinkle in the ‘founding fathers’‘ eye[s].*

In addition to the feels I had, my transportation situation took several turns for the worst. First, I stayed up late to pack and get myself together. Went to bed around 1 am CEST and needed to wake up around 3 am CEST… I thought, Hey I’ll just take a nap and then I’ll be ready for travel, and before I know it (at roughly 7 am BST), I’ll be in London where I can drop of my bags at the fancy hotel I’m treating myself to and then explore the city before crashing in bed.

My alarm went off at 3 am (as planned) and I couldn’t make myself leave bed. In a fog, I hastily bought a new ticket (which was surprisingly cheap… FORESHADOWING) and settled in for another 6 hours of sleep. Smart, right?

While on the train to the airport (Stockholm Arlanda is a quick 20 minutes away by the Arlanda Express), I review my electronic boarding pass.

I am #shook.

My flight leaves in the afternoon (like I thought), but in the middle of July (obviously, not like I thought). Plus, the conductor (who assumes I am an unaccompanied minor from the States… (not too far off…)) tells me I bought the wrong ticket to Arlanda, and I’m forced to buy yet another new ticket (I wasted an embarrassing amount of SEK over the weekend).

The new flights get me into London around 7 pm BST. And after enduring the ridiculous lines for customs at my connection in Cologne, Germany, I’m praying that my experience in London is much faster.

WRONG.

Remember in my earlier post when I said customs depends in large part on the customs officer? Yeah. Well case in point:

The woman I spoke to instantly disliked me.

She looked me up and down and began treating me like the teachers who didn’t know me in high school would treat me. The teachers who didn’t know me in high school automatically approached me like I was a problem. They “knew” to expect attitude and that I was absolutely up to no good, not to be trusted. When they realized that I was a gifted student or that I had permission to do whatever I was doing or that I was in any way better than what they first decided I was, they were resentful and vindictive and sought to hurt my feelings. Like… really? You’re a grown person. Why are you bullying me ?

That’s how this custom’s officer treated me.

If you’re familiar with the “uppity n*” trope, you know exactly what I mean.

To make matters worse, I was unprepared. I didn’t print out any confirmation of my acceptance in the King’s College program. I had no printed documents and no internet connection to provide digital copies of the documents I did save.

The customs officer decided that this warranted around 10 full minutes of harassment, in which she talked in circles about how irresponsible and inconsiderate I am, while I tried (unsuccessfully) to ascertain what I could do to prove that I am who I said I was. After the first 5 minutes, it became clear that her intent was to scold and shame me instead of to reach a resolution. This angered me (especially considering my history with such situations), so I subtly shaded her (and, admittedly, made things worse).

The time is now 9 pm BST, and I have a horrible migraine forming. (Oh! and I’m super sweaty (because remember how I sweat when I’m traveling and when I’m stressed!)!)

Finally, I resorted to my placating polite voice.

After I put on that act she had no fuel for her fire. She was needlessly berating me and holding up the line, so she (in all her great benevolence) decided that I could go.

I took a two hour tube ride to the neighborhood where I’d be staying and then wandered around looking for the right address. I found the right street and rewarded myself with some McDonald’s (DON’T JUDGE), checked myself in to the hotel, and dragged myself into bed sweaty, aching, and anxious.

6.26.2017 first day of school! first day of school! first day of school!

King’s College is awesome, and I wanna get a PhD in digital humanities maybe. You heard it here first.

Also the dean of Pratt’s School of Information (who is a coordinator of this study abroad program) bought the students tickets to a strange but INCREDIBLE play at the National Theater (Theatre. whatever).

6.27.2017 the tates

Tate Britain was really white, but there are so many incredible artworks there. WOW. I’m reminded of something I learned in my Black Cultural Heritage seminar back at Swarthmore College: portraiture has power. I’m also revisiting the complexities of including objects and ephemera in art museums. Do we erase (original) meanings by re-contextualizing these materials in art exhibits? I don’t know. Maybe. Yes? Depends?????

Tate Modern has an awesome space. I loved the building. Amazing views. Creative use of an eclectic floor plan. Thoughtful and provocative. 10/10

The art inside was also notable. lol Sadly, I just missed their Rauschenberg show (but there’s one at the MoMA so when I’m back in NY I’ll hit it up). Tate Modern also had a Black art/Black Power show that starts on my birthday (after I leave the city)! Alas and alack!

6.28.2017 national portrait gallery =/= national gallery. remember that.

The National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery are two different things.

While inside the National Portrait Gallery, I wrote in my notes that I wasn’t “moved by the majority of the art in this museum.” I think because so much of it was literally famous people’s faces. I got a tad bored. (Don’t crucify me, I’m just being honest.*) My favorite piece I saw there was Grayson Perry’s “Map of Days.”

The label says the etching is a “metaphorical self portrait.”  Now we’re talking.

I also had a run in with the staff about recording in an exhibit. At first I thought it strange that one can’t film the artworks (so that their relationships to each other on the walls/in the general space can be revisited). But I suppose the exhibition design is intellectual property of some sort?

I loved the National Gallery. I saw Van Gogh and Monet up close and personal, and enjoyed the special exhibits with Chris Ofili (How can thread be painterly???) and Giovanni da Remini (my conservation and preservation class at Pratt prepared me well for a deeper understanding of the exhibit and its contents. Thanks Pratt!).

6.29.2017 the british library is my dream library the end

I think the subheading says it all.

6.30.2017 it was the best of times. it was the worst of times. (BUT MOSTLY IT IS THE BEST OF TIMES)

I woke up today feeling awful. It’s that time of the month and solo traveling can be lonely, so everything converged last night, and overflowed this morning.

A long shower changed my outlook (although my phone has significant sustained water damage and the screen no longer works, so things are not all together rosy), and the day keeps getting better ((because there was literally no other direction but up from how it started…)!

Just three hours ago I sat in an auditorium at the British Library and heard MY SHERO GODDESS OF THE LIBRARY AND OF ALL THINGS BASICALLY IN MY OPINION, Carla Hayden (THE MOTHER LOVING 14th LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS, WHO IS THE FIRST WOMAN, FIRST BLACK PERSON, AND FIRST CARD CARRYING LIBRARIAN TO EVER DO IT) in conversation with Roly Keating (THE DIRECTOR OF THE BRITISH LIBRARY WOOOOW WHAT IS LIFE??).

Unfortunately, I had to leave the talk early BECAUSE I AM NOW ON MY WAY TO STRATFORD UPON MOTHER LOVING AVON, AKA THE HOME TOWN OF SHAKESPEARE, AKA A PLACE I’VE WANTED TO VISIT SINCE MIDDLE SCHOOL. And I INTEND TO MAKE MUCH ADO OVER THIS TRIP.

I think now you’re all caught up. Obviously there’s much more to tell. But I said I’d rein it in… Maybe tomorrow… (lol more like Tuesday)

-Kara

*I have no shame about this link. lmfao
**I did not keep my word. ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooopps
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