So today began with class as usual. The lecture was shortened, though, because our teacher wanted to take us to the Imperial War Museum to see an exhibit about families during World War II and how they were affected. There was a display in the Museum of London about WWII as well, and in both of them, there was an example of the dried eggs that were rationed out to families in tin cans. Strangely enough, these eggs in a can really got me thinking. It is so easy to forget how good we really all have it, until you are reminded of the conditions and sufferings that other people had to endure. Before I had left for London, my mom had bought hard boiled eggs that came out of a bag, and for some reason, they really were not appealing to me. I didn’t want to eat them because they weren’t fresh and they came out of a bag. Unexpectedly, these WWII exhibits really put my egg situation into a sobering perspective. (Sorry I complained about the eggs Mommy). There was also a Holocaust exhibit in the museum, and it was one of the most graphic I have ever seen. It was very emotional to walk through, and the reality of it all is very hard to reconcile. The idea of a mass genocides feels unreal to me, something so foreign that I feel so far away from, but seeing such raw images and accounts as those that were on display brings it painfully to life.
Learning about the role that the Olympics played during the Nazi regime was fascinating. Berlin held the 1936 Olympic Games. Berlin was awarded the games before it came under Hitler’s power. Many countries talked about boycotting the games, but all but the Soviet Union ended up attending, because people of all races were allowed to participate. During the Games, Hitler wanted to make Berlin look as good as possible, because he knew that this offered him a very international opportunity to stage his propaganda. “Jews Not Wanted” and other signs were removed, and violence was limited during the games. Interesting, Jesse Owens, a black track and field athlete from the US, was pretty much the hero of the 1936 Olympic Games. A person that the Nazis considered to be subhuman because of his skin color stole the show.
After the museum, we ate lunch at a picnic table outside, then went on to tour Parliament. Such an elaborate (and huge) building. It was really interesting to learn more about how the British system of government works. Everything is so symbolic and founded in long-standing history and tradition.
We went to Horse Guard’s Parade after Parliament to see if there was any chance of getting volleyball tickets at the box office. Didn’t work out – the people working had essentially no helpful information for us. It is all over the news how there are MANY open seats at almost every event and venue, but no one can seem to access tickets to these events. This video pretty much sums up the issues:
We’re continually checking on the US website to see if any more tickets have been released, but so far, our efforts have been to no avail! It’s all sold out, yet stadiums are empty. Whatever happens, happens, though! I am happy to be here soaking up the atmosphere, whether or not I see a live game.
At 5:00, we went back to King’s to go on a walking tour of London. We saw many interesting spots – like where Mozart lived and where the man who invented television lived. We had dinner at the Spaghetti House in Soho. We were starving by that point, so raviolis hit the spot!
After dinner, we decided to go check out the USA House by the Royal Albert Hall. You can only get in with an American ID (pretty much the only time our US IDs are going to give us VIP access anywhere). They check your bags and use their wand to detect any metal objects on you, and then you’re free to go inside. We looked through the official USA Olympic store, but I didn’t find anything that was really worth the money. They had a 3D TV where you could view some of the 2008 Olympic highlights, and obviously the current games were also on TV. We even got to meet a US Olympic diver, David Boudia, who just got the bronze medal in his event. All in all, a very productive, fun day, and now I need to get some sleep!