An American Girl in London


Emily Chudzik, Staff Writer

It’s the beginning of my sixth week in London, and I can honestly say that I’m still in the honeymoon phase. I’m in awe every time I step outside of my flat and onto the crowded sidewalk. Life feels like a constant adventure, and I never want my time here to end. At least, not yet I don’t.

For some reason, last week seemed to be full of opportunities to visit famous places and “meet” some very distinguished people. For class, we traveled to the towns of Dover and Canterbury. They were both such marvelous places. We got to see Dover Castle, where a few episodes of “Game of Thrones” were filmed.

The view from the castle was absolutely stunning. It sat on the white cliffs (yes, the famous ones with that Eric Johnson wrote a song about) and overlooked the English Channel. On a clear day, it’s said that you can see France. It wasn’t quite clear enough for that, but it was breathtaking all the same.

Then in Canterbury, we saw the buildings of the old city mingled with the new shops and restaurants. By accident, some friends and I stumbled into the pub where it’s thought that the playwright Christopher Marlowe, a contemporary of Shakespeare’s, cut a man’s ear off in the courtyard in a bar fight. Naturally, we had to go and stand out there to really soak in the history. Getting to visit such famous historical sites was wonderful. I really do cherish these day trips.

My second encounter with fame was on Saturday. A few friends and I decided to go out for a night on the town in Soho. We settled on a nightclub we could dance at and just let loose. We stayed for a few hours and had a really fun time.

Right as we were about to leave, an employee came on the stage to announce that Hailee Steinfeld was ready to perform. You know, the actress from “Pitch Perfect 2,” “True Grit,” and “Ender’s Game,” among other films? Apparently she had a scheduled performance there for the night. We had no idea! She performed a few covers including“Flashlight” from Pitch Perfect 2 and her new single, “Love Myself.” On her last song, tons of confetti rained down from the ceiling. It felt like a movie. I still can’t believe we ended up at a concert on accident.

Finally, my last brushes with celebrity were on a theatrical level. During the weekend, a friend of mine posted a video in our London Facebook group: “Just our acting teacher being a boss.” It was a clip of the 2009 TV movie version of “Hamlet” adapted from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2008 stage production.

Hamlet was played by David Tennant—better known as The Doctor in “Doctor Who” and Barty Crouch Jr. in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”—and Claudius was played by Patrick Stewart—Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men movies and Captain Jean-Luc Picard in the Star Trek movies.

How cool that our acting professor (Tom Davey, if you’re curious) played Guildenstern in a production with those two? We’ve had multiple classes with him and had no idea all this time.

Also this past week, we saw the Globe’s production of “Richard II.” In our most recent class, David Sturzaker, the actor who played Henry Bolingbroke, one of the main characters, came in and talked to us about his experiences in the play and as an actor. It was such a surreal moment.

I have to say, this week I was blessed with some very unique opportunities. As if I didn’t love London enough. It’s not totally perfect, though. The only thing missing is a Target store. Apparently those don’t exist here… But I digress. While London continues to excite and surprise me, I am incredibly excited for next week. I’m traveling to Italy for fall break, and I can’t wait to see what that has in store for me.