While living in Medford this summer, my friends and I excitedly discussed studying and traveling abroad: who knew who in which countries, what airlines were the cheapest to fly across the pond and, most importantly, the food.
I’ve accidentally put myself in the position of eating dining hall beans and toast, but considering the traditional British cuisine, I was excited to consume fruits, vegetables and grains that weren’t sprayed with U.S.-grade pesticides. In addition to higher-quality (and cheaper) produce, London has a vast assortment of international food trucks, market booths and restaurants. Through this lens, I’ve begun to experience what it means to be in a cosmopolitan space.
I celebrated a friend’s 21st birthday at a Brazilian steakhouse. He took full advantage of the opportunity to practice his Portuguese while my plate piled higher and higher with steaks and sausages. Yes, there was a vegetarian option and no, I did not get it, as my friend had pushed me out of my comfort zone by ordering the protein-heavy option before I sat down.
Art serves as another universal experience (though I will argue that food is just a form of art) and there is no lack of creativity in London’s theater circles. One of my modules watches a play a week. A recorded version of Chekov’s “The Cherry Orchard” put on in 2011 by the National Theatre reminded me that I was in fact, in the U.K., with an all-white cast of actors speaking in British accents and giving interviews explaining how the play would have been performed under Stanislavski. It felt regal, traditional and a little pompous — exactly what one would expect from a national British theater.
The following week we saw The Yard’s production of the Russian classic and ventured out to Hackney Wick, a neighborhood just outside of the Olympic Park that’s very hipster — in the derogatory sense (think industrial architecture and graffiti, but all in the same style and only on certain buildings). The actors still had British accents, but this all-South-Asian cast performed a science fiction rendition. Add in a spaceship and a few (correct) references to special relativity, and you have a premise so engaging and fresh that it was unclear how far the show would drift from the original script.
After two weeks of distinctly British plays, I spent a weekend in Venice, Italy during which we (myself and 14 other Tufts students) discovered La Biennale di Venezia, the every-other-year exhibit featuring over 20 artists representing different countries.
We took the ferry out to the Giardini della Biennale, and after an impromptu detour to the island of Lida and a dip in the Adriatic Sea, we wandered from building to building. A surprising number of pieces featured technology, from Egypt implementing artificial intelligence to generate a womb experience to South Korea building a knotted, circular snake that moved in response to individuals leaving the exhibit. Somehow, five hours was not enough time to fully explore the exhibits.