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  • Writer's pictureMaiya Focht

Week Six- Dogs off Lead

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

This week featured levels of cortisol that likely took years from my life. I had three essays and an exam, which is an awfully rude interruption to my 4 month long European vacation. Due to this level of work, I didn’t get to do much sight seeing, aside from the rebirth of Museum Monday.

Tuesday through Friday was full of coffee shops, dark circles, and writing. On the bright side, I’ve discovered a few new whole in the wall study spots, and I’ve proved to myself that I can survive a European cram week. (a European cram week is nearly the same as an American cram week but with the temptations of culture and exploration abound)

For the weekend, I relished in relaxing with my friends in our new found home, and I got to meet one of my roommates Grandmother and Aunt.

On the relaxing end, we watched Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang and Porco Rosso, two very different and very odd films in their own respects. We made it out for some live music at a local bar called Meat Liquor, and got in for a discount rate to a popular club called Toyroom.

On the dinner end, we went for dinner at Harry’s Dolce Vita, which finds itself at the corner of Harrods. As we gazed on the wonder that is one of Londons finest stores, we stuffed ourselves with delicious Italian food, and I relished in the wonder that is a full meal. I was sure to thank them for their generosity in buying the meal, and for the lovely conversation. It is quite cool to see where the people you love came from and the family that shaped them.

To finish the weekend, and to celebrate the rare occasion of sunshine, my two friends and I took a long walk through Hyde Park. It was a wholesome journey filled with rosy cheeked little kids, gleeful dogs , and oddly enough, bright green parakeets with an affinity for apples. This affinity for apples is so strong that they will eat them out of your hands. So, obviously, I took the opportunity and let them do just that. As the videos below show, I was successful, and am now one step closer in my journey to becoming a Disney princess.

One interesting cultural discovery I made on this journey was that dogs here are more often off leash (or off lead) than they are on. Dog owners here believe its their duty to let their pets roam, and that is one of the early facets of their training. I was cringing imagining my pups running off into the distance in the vast space that is Hyde park, but no one seemed too concerned.

This Monday I visited the Tate Modern. I have never been the biggest fan of modern art, as I find a lot of it is quite pretentious and hard to relate to, but the exhibits came on high recommendation, so I suspended my disbelief and made the 40 minute trek from my apartment. I was greeted by torrential rains and winds, and thought surely such weather was an omen for the disappointing times to come.

Fortunately, I was wrong. I rarely delight in not being correct, but in this case I shall happily humble myself. The Tate’s free displays ranged from “Artists and Society”, “Living Cities”, “In the Studio”, and “Media Networks”. I saw Monet’s, Rothko’s, and Goldblatt’s. I saw sculptures, videos, and paintings. I saw performances and I saw architecture and I saw people all around me relating to art in a manner much different to a typical museum setting.

I realized that when it comes to modern art, though I may not always “get it”, that there is something in it that appeals to the everyman. Perhaps because we can conceptualize its creation for ourselves it becomes much more accessible. The traditional portraits, enormous frescos, and epic baroques that I enjoy are beautiful because they are dated, but are also alienating because they are dated.

At the Tate people were free to enjoy something simply because they did, not because it necessarily represented a piece of mastery. Art simply exists as art, and that is a certain beauty that I had not before considered.

In summation, my week was filled with stress, hard work, and leisure. Not all that different to life back home, eh?

Days left: 67 Places visited: St. Pauls cathedral, Tate Modern, Hyde Park, countless coffee shops

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