UCL Archaeology and London
Well another week has flown by. It is hard to believe that it has already been 4 weeks since we all arrived. More and more, I find myself settling into a comfy routine: classes everyday but wednesday, museum and other “touristy” things midweek to avoid the international hoards of people and finally some cross country running (to balance out these hearty english foods) and grocery shopping on the weekend.
As I mentioned, we have classes on most days of the week but the structures of these are very different from those at Stony Brook. Each module (one of the plethora of terms which refer to what we would term a course of class in the U.S.) meets once a week for 2 hours. The rest of the time expected from each student is outside of class periods (reading, lab or research time etc.) and takes a bit of getting used to, especially for someone like me who is used to spending the majority of ones time during the week actually sitting in class.
We Stony Brook students are enrolled in the Institute of Archaeology through which we are required to take at least 50 % of our courses. In retrospect, a single semester (or 2 terms in a trimester system, which UCL employs) is far too little time to really get to know a department, especially one so large and diverse as this. Nevertheless the courses I am enrolled in are fascinating.
One of these looks at the archaeology of London itself, through site visits to many of London’s famous sites that have lasted since before the Great Fire of 1666 (which destroyed mostly everything in the old City). Another will involve archaeological fieldwork in Sussex in may, for which I am very excited.
Generally speaking, the courses here are far less geared toward a traditional liberal arts education than are those in american institutions. They are designed to provide a focus for student’s interest and education. The fact that I am in an institute of archaeology whereas U.S. institutions have very few of these and the subject is incorporated into a more general anthropology degree, is a testament to this. Nonetheless, I am enjoying the range and diversity of the archaeology courses here ( I myself am taking exclusively archaeology courses, although as I said this is not a prerequisite for enrollment).
Otherwise, I am still walking everywhere and seeing a lot of this city. London’s heritage trail is long and complicated, constantly rewritten by fire and recent development. Some of the places I’ve visited, like Westminster Abby and Highgate Cemetery are great places to go for anyone interested in paying they’re respects to London’s famous dead. Here are just a few photos from these, and other interesting places.
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