Across the Pond

Martha Graves

Today I stepped out of my
London residence around noon to
see a lunchtime play for my theatre
class and couldn’t help feeling
like I would rather stay tucked up
in my room, maybe watching an
episode of Skins, than venture off
into the city.
Before you scoff, shake your
head, and write me off as lazy,
hear me out. This would be my
classmates’ and my second play
in the last 24 hours, the last one
being two hours and 15 minutes
and involving an hour of travel. I
also had two more classes in a row
to look forward to directly following
the play, and wouldn’t return
to my cozy abode until 6:15 p.m.
that night.
It is now 9th week and our
time in London is drawing to a bittersweet
end, and we’re starting to
grow weary of going to play after
play. It often feels like we have
better things to do than see yet
another show, even if it’s just sitting
around the room.
This was my stream of thought
as I walked to the Gloucester Road
tube station. 9th week, sick of it,
a long day, etc. but when I got to
thinking about what I would be
doing if it wasn’t going to a play, I
got hung up. I clearly didn’t come
to London to watch episodes of
Skins in my room. No, I came here
to be in London – to get out into
the city.
Here I have the opportunity
to experience the London fringe
theatre scene, and I’m thinking
that I’d rather just stay at home?
Like everyone else at Lawrence,
I’m experiencing the “oh my God,
it’s 9th week” phenomenon. But
instead of looking forward to the
end of the term, I’m resisting it.
Realizing that my London
experience is drawing to a close
has caused me to crawl back to
my room and cling to my London
home. Instead, this realization
should be pushing me into the
city. With a mere three weeks to
go, I should be cherishing these
experiences, not complaining
about them.
Leaving the theatre this afternoon,
we walked along the Thames
on the way back to the Tube. We
could see the London Eye and Big
Ben on the other side. I realized
that I had forgotten that these
landmarks of London are a mere
10-minute ride from our building
and shuddered, realizing that I
would have to leave them soon.
I resolved to myself that I
should stop complaining about
‘having’ to see these plays. The
one we just saw, coincidentally,
was one of my favorites so far –
a 45-minute version of Twelfth
Night, set in an old swimming
I further resolved to stop being
boring here, or at least to curb my
tendency to do boring things. This
is the biggest piece of advice I have
for those coming to the London
Centre or studying abroad in general:
don’t just sit around, get out
there and do things! I was told this
a thousand times before coming to
London and didn’t think I would
fall into that trap, but I did.
A London Centre professor
shared an appropriate Samuel
Johnson quote with me today: “No,
sir, when a man is tired of London,
he is tired of life; for there is in
London all that life can afford.”
I decided, no – I will not allow
myself to become tired of London
in these last few weeks.