University College London, Introductions
My name is Benjamin Smith and I am very pleased to be blogging about my experiences here at University College of London Institute of Archaeology. There a great many interesting and exciting things to write about here concerning both UCL and London itself, not least of which is the glorious tradition of afternoon tea which I’m enjoying at this very moment. However, first you’ll have to indulge me in a few introductions.
I am a third year anthropology major at Stony Brook with a focus in prehistoric archaeology and with a particular interest in the archaeology of Africa and the old world. This is the second study abroad program I have participated in through Stony Brook and my third overall. I participated in the inaugural Turkana Basin Institute field school (for which I also wrote a blog) in northern Kenya in the spring of 2011 and before that, lived in Alsace France for a semester.
My fellow Stony Brook students and I have been here for about 3 weeks now and have (as far as I know) settled in very nicely. As I hope to go on into a career in archaeology I was attracted to this program from before I even came to Stony Brook. Programs with a focus in archaeology are rare in the U.S and I was very intrigued by the prospect of a study abroad program that had such a focus. As I later came to realize, the academic traditions between the practice of archaeology in the U.S and that in Britain and Continental Europe are often somewhat different and I felt that my education would benefit from as much exposure to these as possible.
Aside from my specific academic interests, I seek out every opportunity to travel and have been fortunate enough to have done quite a lot of it. As with many Study Abroad alumni I often return with a great appreciation of my experience and a frustratingly one dimensional response of “it was fantastic” when asked abut the experience. I am driven to see new places and learn from the history and cultures of different people. Britain’s deep history and the vibrancy of London have made these past few weeks a whirlwind of new and interesting places. I could write pages about each site I have visited so far. These include most recently Cambridge, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Camden Market, Trafalger Square and the National Gallery, the British Library (one of my two favorite buildings in London, the other being St. Pancras station) and the British Museum. My notebook has accumulated an interesting assortment of facts ranging from the awe inspiring (the Coronation Chair and altar mural in Westminster Abbey remain in use and unaltered since the time of Edward I, 1268 and 1296 respectively ) to the charmingly mundane (there is half a luggage trolly stuck between platforms 9 and 10 of Kings Cross station). The breakfasts have been superb, and the pubs have been warm and welcoming (as have people).
Below are just a few photos I have taken (something I am usually terrible at remembering to do). Next week I’ll talk a bit more about UCL and the Institute of Archaeology. Until then, best wishes!
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