This past week was reading week for me, which is the Queen Mary University version of spring break. No class for a week, which, as evident by the title, is supposed to be used for catching up or getting ahead with your reading for classes. Which I did…mostly. But I also took advantage of plenty of activities around London during the week too, starting on Sunday with the city’s celebration of Chinese New Year.
Photo cred: Kim 🙂
I arrived early enough to watch part of the parade, but unfortunately the area I was in wasn’t regulated very well and as the parade approached people swarmed to the center line of the street, effectively blocking the performers into one lane of performance space and resulting in me not seeing much at all, despite my early arrival and (what originally was a) good vantage point. However, lunch with the LUIP Ambassadors at Er Mei Sichuan Restaurant in Chinatown quickly put me in the best of moods. We chatted about some of the family traditions observed by the ambassadors from China, and enjoyed a delicious shared meal.
Three of the 10 ambassadors and our coordinator, Kim.
Monday and Tuesday I did do some reading. I’m currently working on research for my term papers, which will most likely be written on Rousseau’s Confessions and Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria. After a meeting with one of my professors on Monday, I spent Tuesday at Senate House Library reading original texts, doing research, and taking notes. Wednesday I did a bit of reading, but mostly just relaxed. 🙂
Thursday I went to an art exhibit featuring work done by one of the Ambassadors, Chenyi. The exhibit was called ‘The Cat is Alive!’, a nod to the Schrödinger’s cat thought experiment. It was aptly named since the tag line for the exhibit was ‘Articulating quantum physics through art’. The program provided further information on the inspiration behind each piece:
Space Program students blur the edges of science and art in a project which started in Oxford University science labs and ends in The Crypt gallery with quantum interactions rendered in new physical, spatial, multisensory and experiential forms.
I have to admit that a lot of the scientific explanations provided alongside each piece went over my head, but I was inspired by the common thread throughout the whole exhibit: although not explicitly stated, each piece seemed to be designed to highlight the fact that every viewer will have a different experience. I was also pushed towards the recognition that in all aspects of life every action has multiple and varied reactions. Equilibrium seemed to be the endgame for some pieces, such as ‘Onn/Of’.
Others, like ‘The Quantum Curtain’, encouraged participants to record the different and varied experiences,
‘The Quantum Curtain’
while a piece like ‘Collected Excitations’ allowed each person to interact with the piece and reflect on their unique experiences and the eventual return to balance or equilibrium in a more personal, internal way.
Of course, having spent the first part of the week studying Coleridge (and, by extension, Emerson), I was much more receptive of the omniscient, ‘Oversoul’-esque ideas that each piece inspired and spent a lovely, enjoyable hour reflecting on how beautifully science and art entwine.
Friday I read a bit more and relaxed, and Saturday spend the day with ambassador friends on the London Eye–I wrote a piece on our ambassador scavenger hunt from November, but neglected to mention that my team won the hunt! Our prize was a trip on the London Eye, and although it took us four months to find a time that everyone could attend it was well worth the wait. The views and photo opportunities were incredible, even on a drizzly day, and the company was superbly sassy. 🙂
After my time at the Eye, I headed up to Islington to meet friends for an Andrew McMahon concert. If you knew me in high school, you knew how obsessed I was with the bands Jack’s Mannequin and Something Corporate…so of course when another ambassador friend told me the lead singer/pianist from the band had a solo show in London I jumped at the opportunity to see him perform. He played the perfect mix of old and new songs, interspersed with personal anecdotes and background stories for several of his songs. Coupled with the brilliant company, friendly chatter and high-school-reminiscences it was an excellent way to end a great day, and week.
Takeaway Tidbit: Use your breaks for more than just vegging…get out and try something new, or use the time to strengthen friendships!