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My name is Sidney Arrington and I am an alumna of the University of Michigan. While completing my undergraduate studies I majored in Political Science with a minor in Community Action and Social Change (CASC). At UMich I began my study abroad journey the summer going into junior year; traveling to Israel/Palestine to learn about conflict resolution and co-resistance in the Middle East. The following summer I went abroad again and traveled to Tanzania to strengthen my Swahili speaking skills. Even though I graduated I decided to study abroad because of the immersive and transformative experience you gain. I wouldn't say I chose to study in Contemporary London, but London chose me. Originally, I applied to the CGIS Paris program and was denied; however, was given the opportunity to study in London. I accepted the invitation to study because the program highlights activism and culture in London, which are two interests of mine. Additionally, if you have not noticed that I love to travel to add to my blog about things I learned, food I have tried, and must-see sites.
As stated above, I am a CASC minor and a MSW candidate for the fall thereafter. I enjoy learning the history of places and comparing political aspects to the United States, as well as learning how communities are treated and given access to resources. By being a CASC minor and former NAACP President I am able to utilize skills learned to properly enter and exit different communities as well as contribute my ideas and values through my work especially for the final project in London. I would really like to learn more about their political system, Brexit, the controversial ideals of South London or Brixton, and how London achieved becoming a melting pot instead of a cultural mosaic like the United States. Other than that I have no concerns about the course. I am just ready to see, try, and expand my knowledge of London and what it means to be Black in London.
So far, I have been exploring Camden, Westminster, and Picadilly. I have seen the London Eye, been to BAFTA, a couple of bars, but my favorite place has been EL&N.
This last week in London was very bittersweet. Wrapping up our final assignments and trying to seize everyday because no one knows when they'll ever get the opportunity to take a spontaneous trip to London, let alone Europe. This week was spent working hard on our projects for both classes and walking down memory lane one last time. The Shakespearean Globe was a nice excursion. Despite the weather, I'm so happy I had the opportunity to see a play. I'm also happy we really had the choice of what play we wanted to see thanks Alana!
Timberlee and I focused on gentrification and immigration for our final project with our case study being in Brixton. From the moment we arrived we were interested in going to the "dangerous" part of London. For starters danger is everywhere and the "most dangerous" places are usually the best. Overall, both classes have taught me a great deal about the United Kingdom and specifically London. In the class I really liked when we implemented the popcorn method because it allowed for more speakers to express their ideas. With the community issue study we learned a great deal not taught on walking tours or discussed in class. I'm really glad we talked about the gentrification in Seven Sisters, the environment, and Black women in the workforce. I love topics that allow you to dig deeper and see the depth of the place you are in. I wish we had an opportunity to learn these things at the beginning of the trip to be more conscious of our surroundings.
Being a CASC minor and an incoming graduate student this has not really affected my ideas about community issues and action. However, this experience has shown me the work I choose to study is very important because even in Europe they are experiencing some of the same problems. Additionally this experience has me humble in the sense that I did not come here to fix anything but live like a Londoner and observe what life is like in the United Kingdom.
For incoming students embarking on their unpredictable London experience, I would advise them to be free. Be open to new ideas and make sure to explore. Map out each week to ensure they are able to see what all London has to offer. Also, make sure to take at least one side trip because when is the next time you'll be roaming in Europe? Lastly, class is important but exploring and experiencing life is really your top priority.