Guest Column: Culture and theater in London

The author (left) and fellow resident Lyndsey Clos at Buckingham Palace during a recent trip to London. To see more photos, visit the Web Extras section (Observer courtesy photo)
The author (left) and fellow resident Lyndsey Clos at Buckingham Palace during a recent trip to London. To see more photos, visit the Web Extras section (Observer courtesy photo)

By Meghan O’Day

September 5th, 2013


What comes to your mind when you think of traveling? Is it busy airports and bad airline food? Or how about unnecessary souvenirs and lots of walking? Don’t feel bad, I bet plenty of people have connotations such as these, or worse, when it comes to traveling. But not me, not anymore, because I took the most amazing trip to London in July with 16 other students and two teachers from Champlain Valley Union High School.

It began here in Burlington with a busy airport. Along the way, there was certainly bad airline food and lots of walking, too. But all of the amazing aspects well outnumbered the bad ones. We saw a total of eight shows, including “Matilda,” “War Horse,” “The Cripple of Inishmaan,” “The Proms,” “Macbeth,” “Hamlet,” “As You Like it” and “Titus Andronicus.” One of the coolest things we did was meet some of the actors after the shows, including Rose Reynolds and Daniel Radcliffe. We also visited the Royal Albert Hall, Buckingham Palace, Kensington Palace, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the Tower of London, Oxford College, Southwark Cathedral, Holy Trinity Church, Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s Cottage. We toured the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre and the Theatre Royal on Drury Lane. Additionally, we rode the London Eye (the biggest Ferris wheel in the world), rode on a tour boat down the River Thames, rode a bike tour through Hyde Park, took an acting class from a Globe Theatre actor and saw “Macbeth” performed live at the Globe. We went to England to learn about Shakespeare and acting and writing. So, the places we visited were all on our itinerary, but there was so much more that wasn’t and was, somehow, even better. So, you see? Traveling isn’t all bad.

In fact, travel is a great thing. I started out as a student at Champlain Valley Union High School, without any travel experience abroad before. And now, I’m a globally minded citizen. I’ve seen a little cultural difference with my own eyes and experienced it, too. I’ve become more self-sufficient, resourceful and aware. The other kids and I, we built incredible friendships and moments that can never be forgotten or replicated. We gained a kind of independence one can only gain when walking through the Camden Market, Trafalgar Square or Piccadilly Circus with only one other person. There was a kind of strength manufactured from being away from your family for 10 days.

Sometimes traveling can have its downfalls, I will admit that. But traveling abroad is a whole different game, and one in which you can never lose. Even if you do find downfalls, you can learn by experiencing new things and letting them make you stronger, and by doing that, you win every time. So while I thank you for reading about my memories, I encourage you all to get more involved in the world and create memories that you could never fully appreciate unless they’re your own.

Meghan O’Day is a junior at Champlain Valley Union High School and a Williston resident.