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Dettmer ’16 Appeciating Westminister

Andrew Dettmer ’15 – Well, the last day has finally arrived.  With our final day in London we spent our time at Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey.  Most people have heard of Westminster Abbey because it was the venue of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. At the beginning of the trip our tour guide mentioned America’s fascination with the British Monarchy; and from the amount of Americans at the Abbey that was clearly evident.

The Abbey itself was an amazing artistic master piece and was filled with many of the names that we have spent our semester reading about, and showed the power of the monarchy that at one time ruled this country single handedly. However across the street is Westminster Palace, the original palace of the monarchy it now houses the British Parliament. It was very impressive and informative to see how the traditions of this country play out in their governance. They still vote by counting you as present in either the “aye” or “nay” rooms, which while mildly old fashioned is a system they like. The building itself was very impressive. As I said earlier, it used to be a palace for the monarchy until Henry VIII moved down the street to Whitehall, guess he needed more room for all of his wives.  This building has been here since around the 11th century, and much of the historic part of the building still stands.

During World War II Winston Churchill chose to “let the Commons burn,” his own wing of government, in order to save this treasured national icon. Both of these experiences allowed us to see where the battle over governance happened. In fact until 2009 the House of Lords served as the highest court in England until they created a Supreme Court that looks much like ours.

After our time at Westminster we were free to spend our last afternoon in London as we wished.  Two of my fraternity brothers and I headed off Loftus Road to watch the Queens Park Rangers F.C. take on Sunderland in an exciting Premier League match.  It’s a shame that soccer hasn’t caught on in the U.S. because the match made for quite an exciting afternoon.  QPR pulled out a 3-1 victory in a game that may help them avoid relegation to a lower league. Trevor Poe is a huge fan and sharing the experience and excitement with him was a great experience and introduced to a great side of English culture. Seriously, everyone should go to a good soccer, or football as they say, match and see some of the most passionate and die hard sports fans around.  It made for a great ending to an already awesome week.

As I finish this post, I’m also finishing packing as we’ll be leaving London in just a few hours.  This week has been amazing and I’ve definitely fallen in love with London.  The trip not only allowed us to see and experience what we had studied in the classroom, but I made some great new friends, strengthened old friendships, and has me extremely excited to return to the U.K next fall for study abroad.  While I’m exhausted from everything we’ve managed to cram in our schedule in the past 9 days and I’ll be grateful to return home, I’ll be sad to leave London and these experiences behind.