Tuesday, April 26, 2011

10 Days in the United Kingdom

Reported by Fiona – 3L01, and Verisa – 3L02

The 10 days spent in the United Kingdom (UK) made us feel like we were fugitives on the run (we had to move from one hotel to another almost every day!), but those days provided us with an immeasurable amount of fun and fulfilling experience. It is not often that one gets to see 4 universities – Southampton, Bristol, Leicester and Warwick, in a span of 10 days, let alone be granted access to their facilities and accommodations. This privilege has allowed us an insight into the life of a university student and enabled us to have additional options in terms of furthering our studies abroad.

Looking back, it was amazing how fast we took to adapt ourselves to the entirely new environment. We even found our personal favourite dining place, called EAT. That place is superb! They sell sandwiches (no surprises here), pies, soups (soups are a must try as they have totally delectable flavours like ‘Prawn Tom Yum’, ‘Chicken Pho’ and ‘Hosin Duck’), salads, desserts and drinks.

We also had the opportunity to see and experience how it is like to be in an actual law firm, and the one we visited was Hogan Lovells co-headquarter based in the UK. Here’s a quick fact: Hogan Lovells is the top 8th international law firm in the world. They have a total of 40 offices with 2,500 solicitors. What’s really cool is that their 13-storey co-headquarter includes facilities such as gymnasium for their employees (yes, we witnessed that for ourselves). You don’t get to see that EVER in Singapore, do you? Singapore is too small to be that fancy (and that’s a fact).

Of course, it was not just all work and no play. What made the study trip exciting were the visits to Warwick Castle, Shakespeare’s Birthplace, Tower of London, Royal Courts of Justice, The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, and Natural History Museum which completely blew our minds away (and not forgetting the shopping trips!). They are so rich in history with such extraordinary building structures. It was a pity we did not have enough time to fully appreciate everything that was in store for us.

Warwick Castle:

A medieval castle in the UK and is recognized as a prominent national archaeological site. 530 steps up and down the castle tower were enough to drain our energy, but we pressed on and successfully conquered the tower. The view from the tower was totally worth all that climbing (though our legs went into ‘jelly-mode’ after the last step). The castle has a spectacular view and the scenery was simply breathtaking.

(Photographs can never justify its beauty but...)

Here’s a few to whet your appetite

Shakespeare’s Birthplace:

Fans of Macbeth should visit the house where the famed author – William Shakespeare, was born in. Okay, his house is cosy but very small, and our jaws literally dropped when we were told that the house used to be occupied by 8 people (if we remembered the number correctly) at one time. The funny thing is, the author’s father – John, was a rich man and if his house was considered big, so then what is small? And we noticed that the beds they slept in were rather short in length, so does that mean people born during his time were short in height?

Guess that’s something to think about. Sadly, we cannot provide you with any pictures with respect to this because photography is not allowed inside his house.

Tower of London:

It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK and is a house to the exquisite Crown Jewels. The orientation of the Tower was impressive. Well, from what we heard from Sean, the guide, this Tower was one where there were many bloodshed and it was also where many of the kings and prince-to-be died.

Nonetheless, we had the opportunity to admire the priceless jewellery collection. It was like a-once-in-a-lifetime experience for the both of us.

The Royal Courts of Justice:

Although we did not get to watch the trials during our visit, it was still amazing that we were able to view one of the oldest courts! The court’s architecture and design are something that you can never find in Singapore, considering the age of the court and that its architect had croaked many years ago.

Here’s a quick fact: The architect of the court actually left half a pillar unfinished. His reason? It was to show that no one and nothing is perfect other than God.

The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn:

This Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London, and the three others are Inner Temple, Middle Temple and Gray’s Inn. That is something that we do not have in Singapore. An Inn is where lawyers or solicitors (as they call them in the UK) study and get called to the Bar before they can become barristers, following which they will be entitled to offices in the Inns.

Barristers are individuals who have the power to present cases in the Courts of England. Solicitors do not have the same power as that of the barristers. However in Singapore context, we do not have the option of barristers, therefore both advocates and solicitors are eligible to present their cases in courts.

(Enough of the facts). The whole place was beyond amazing, one look and you can tell that it is exceptionally rich in history – its ceilings and pillars were meticulously carved with explicit details. Incredible! (I think we could even stand and stare at the ceilings the whole day.)

Natural History Museum:

This was our second last stop before flying off (our last stop was Westfield Mall). Just by visiting the exhibits, one can tell that the museum’s vast collections of specimens have great historical and scientific values. (If you’re a lover of Architecture and Design, heads up!) Terracotta tiles were extensively used in this museum. There are even detailed carvings in both the interiors and exteriors – what an outstanding workmanship!

DINOSAURS – boy oh boy, the exhibition of dinosaur skeletons can easily be the best in the world! (Need we say more?)

But of course, there are other showcases other than the dinosaurs, like for instance, the exhibition on the different types of insects and creepy crawlies and the exhibitions on the different type of mammals.

All in all, words and photographs are never enough to describe how beautiful places in the UK are, you need to witness and experience them for yourselves!

Oh and yes, here’s a penny from the education perspective –

For us, education takes precedence over everything else. However, one must be passionate about his area of study, otherwise he might lack the determination to excel and even if he made it to the top, he may not fully appreciate his own achievement as much as he would if he were studying something he really loved.

So if you’re really passionate about Law, go on with it without further hesitation. Take it to the next level! Remember, there’s no end to one’s success.

So that’s all! Thank you for your time.

Reported by Fiona – 3L01, and Verisa – 3L02

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