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Anthropology and Contemporary Europe

london itinerary

Image by Eva Dang

Day 1: Orientation and Residence Check-in

Once in London, our program guide(s) will be waiting in anticipation at the airport to greet you. We will then travel by bus or “the tube” to central London where we will check in to our hotel or shared residence. To recover from your disorientation, you will meet the other students and program guides for a welcome orientation. We will do introductions, icebreakers, and talk about the nuts and bolts of traveling in Europe with particular attention to cultural issues and safety protocols. To gather your bearings a bit more, we will then take a light stroll to dinner.

Day 2: Learning to Communicate and ‘Read’ People: Improv and the Power of Story-telling

Theatre has served as a cultural underpinning for Western society. The rich history of theatre in England is celebrated on your first full day in beautiful London.

Breakfast begins at one of the city’s most iconic morning gathering places. We take the group to the Hyde park across the street and engage in a learning experience entitled, “Learning to Communicate and “Read” People: Improv and the Power of Story-telling.

Storytelling is how we create our world and the world around us; it is the set of scripts that help shape our identities. In our attempts to better understand the world we live in, however, improvisational techniques will provide us with the tools to not only tell stories but, more importantly, listen to stories, especially when they are different from our own. What happens when we have to go off script, leaving our own perspective to inhabit the perspective of an other?

We continue to The Globe Theatre for a matinee performance then have a casual dinner and finish the day at the legendary Southwark Playhouse.

Image by Mick Haupt
Image by Anthony DELANOIX

Day 3: Understanding Difference through Anthropological Eyes

Anthropology represents a scientific and historically informed view of what happened to make us the way we are today.  Going to tourist sites often misses the entire story. The day begins with a presentation in how we understand and create difference by looking towards our past. Instead of taking a bus to Big Ben however, we continue with an unexpected but strikingly valuable tour of the bathrooms from the Knights Templar. Yes, bathrooms and, more specifically, “toilets” – those things that make you want to wash your hands the minute you hear the word or the filthy sound of the flush (or even worse, hearing no sound at all). Why do we consider some things dirty, abnormal, and dangerous while other things are clean and safe? Through the history of toilets, students will have a chance to discover London by exploring our daily rituals and lifestyles.

To further our understanding of diversity and difference, students will have a chance to explore London’s vibrant art collections at the Tate Modern. 

Day 4: What’s so high about High Tea? Inventing Britain through colonialism

Students will begin the day with sugar at a nearby bakery to delve into the history of the British Empire. From the Protestant Reformation to Colonialism to the practice of High Afternoon Tea, we will go beyond the common, grandiose stories of Britain’s historical dominance to explore its part in proliferating violence and inventing race and “high society.” Throughout the day we will demonstrate a very different story of British power while visiting sites marking the history of the Reformation and the Industrial Revolution.

We will then engage the students in the ritual of High Afternoon Tea once they understand the dramatic past that has led to this very pleasant practice.

Image by Alice Pasqual
Image by Yeo Khee

Day 5: Are they British? Multiculturalism in Britain and Europe

London is one of the most, if not the most, multicultural cities in the world. Today, we will explore the rise and fall of the British Empire, which has led to London’s very diverse society. We will take students on an exploration of various London neighborhoods such as Soho, Chinatown, and historic Spitafields in the East End to probe into topics such as diversity, immigration, integration, and racism.

For lunch, we will walk to Brick Lane to see the thousands of Indian restaurants and indulge in the delicious food.

Day 6, July 7: Trip to Oxford

A trip to London for high school students is not complete without a visit to the University of Oxford. Students will take a tour of the campus followed by an afternoon hike with views of the surrounding town and charming villages.

Image by Metin Ozer
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