Wednesday, April 3, 2013

England: The Land of Tea and Harry Potter

Last week I went to London with my positive psychology class. Despite having to get up at 3:30am to get to the airport in order to meet the class and catch a flight at 7:20 and then never really catching up on sleep after that, it was a great trip. I saw the big sights like Big Ben, the London Eye, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, and- for those of you who are awesome enough to have seen Disney's "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" and understand the excitement behind this- Portobello Road Market. Additionally, I went to Kings Cross Station to see Platform 9 3/4, and I also walked across Millennium Bridge, which is in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince movie. I went to the British Museum and saw the Rosetta Stone, Ancient Egyptian mummies, and an Easter Island head. 

As a class, we also got to experience Afternoon Tea. It was an extremely fancy event with lots of tea in beautiful cups that were continually refilled by extremely proper waiters who put napkins on your lap and pulled out your chair for you. Along with the tea, we got a three-tiered offering of finger sandwiches, desserts, and scones.

The weather on the first day was not great. It was so cold and snowing like crazy. Unfortunately we had a walking tour that day, so it got cut short. The weather got gradually better for the six days we were there though. 

On one of the days we had time set aside to perform random acts of kindness. We divided ourselves up into small groups and were given ten pounds to do whatever we wanted with. Christie and I decided to go into coffee shops and anonymously buy coffee for people. It was tricky because it was really busy when we first started, but we patiently- though excitedly- waited in the shop observing. When there was no one in line to buy anything, we jumped up and talked to the barista. Although they were initially very confused and we had to explain a few times, she agreed to tell the next person who came in and ordered that their purchase had been taken care of and they did not need to pay. We asked the barista not to tell them who we were and we just went up a little while later and paid. We did this three times in three different shops and every time the barista was thoroughly confused by what we were trying to do. Our best experience was the second time we did this. The barista was very nice and excited to help us, and we tried to casually watch the man who got treated to his free coffee. When he heard that his purchase had been taken care of, he beamed. We think he was definitely the one who appreciated the small act of kindness the most out of the three strangers who we bought for. It was a fun experience, and it makes me want to do little things like this more often, even if it does not involve money.

London Eye

Big Ben

Westminster Abbey

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Inside the Globe Theatre

Buckingham Palace

Millennium Bridge

Rosie, Christie, and I on Millennium Bridge

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