This semester is quickly coming to an end. I have two full weeks of classes left and a lot of essays to finalize. I have realized that “finals week” here is much different than back home.
Here at Goldsmiths, although all essays have a concrete due date, students have the freedom to finish the semester much earlier than those due dates. It depends on how quickly students can finish their essays and how satisfied they are with their work. This isn’t to say that these students don’t need to go to lecture. They will have a comprehensive exam at the end of the year. Visiting students, like me, do not have to take those exams, thus our entire grade is dependent on one single essay.
This can be a good thing or a bad thing…depending on how you look at it. On the one hand, it is less work to do, but on the other hand your entire grade depends on about 2,000 words. I am currently finishing up my essays and haven’t yet decided whether or not I like this grading system – I probably won’t decide until I get my grades back! Yet, from personal experience, I would have to say that the American system, although it often requires more work and assessments, is less stressful when push comes to shove.
In other news, I recently had the good fortune of visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral. This famous cathedral is a central London landmark. It is an incredible feat of architecture. It is the largest domed building in the world and the cathedral looks very similar to the United States Capitol Building in Washington. During WWII the German air raids over London highly threatened the entire city, particularly the square mile center city. In order to save the Cathedral, English firemen and women patrolled the building every hour of every day and would put out any incendiary devices or thwart the other numerous German efforts to destroy the building. For the most part, the protection of the cathedral was highly successful with the exception of the destruction of the High Altar within the cathedral, which was rebuilt after the war.
The entire building is incredibly decorative. Unfortunately photos are not permitted inside the cathedral. Attached is a photo of the outside and another from the top of the building, which visitors can access after climbing a seemingly never-ending spiral staircase. Around the top of the dome is one of the best views of the city that I am glad to say I have become so familiar with and the view is truly breathtaking. If you ever find yourself in London, go see this St. Paul’s Cathedral, you won’t be disappointed.
I write this blog post on the first night of Hannuka and the day before Thanksgiving. If my memory serves me properly this is the first year that I will be celebrating Hannuka and Thanksgiving away from home. Fortunately, homemade latkes and applesauce are for dinner tonight and tomorrow the Lafayette class has reservations for a taste of home at a BBQ restaurant serving Thanksgiving fare, which isn’t easy to find in a nation that does not celebrate the holiday! I think I speak for all of us abroad students when I say that this dinner will be incredibly welcomed, not just for some nice morsels of turkey and stuffing, but for that familiar sense of belonging and family that makes Thanksgiving such a great holiday.
So, I want to wish you all a very happy Thanksgiving. Thanks again for reading and I will see you for next week’s blog post!