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Postcards from Jenny

I can’t believe it’s somehow already been a year. I met this year’s exchange students from Edinburgh Uni, and talking to them brought me back to the cobbly wynds and layers of ghosts that is Edinburgh. Anyhow, here’s another one of my posts from London last year.


This is the third installment of my postcards from London! Read about my touristy selfie stops here or yummy snack spots here. (: Here are some of the other things that i particularly enjoyed during my short weekend in England’s capital city.

Les Miserables

i’m a fan. i read the book in eighth grade, watched the musical on youtube + different anniversaries, critiqued the movie, memorized the lyrics, and took French. this was the first time i got to see the musical in person, and it was absolutely amazing.

If you were ever planning to go, skip the next paragraph and move on to the next section about the British Museum. You’ve been warned.

At first glance, i was unimpressed with the set design–or what appeared a lack thereof. The musical began and seemed to rely more heavily on lighting and fog effects. The singing was powerful, and it was so difficult to realize that the voices were not a recording–they were so impeccable. And yet, it was clear that the actors and actresses interpreted the 30-year-old songs in their own way. "Don Juan" was pronounced correctly, characteristic of an educated college student. Fantine and Eponine, too, each put such feeling behind their own splendid solos. Gavroche was my personal favorite. How they manage to get children to play Gavroche and young Cosette so well is outstanding. i was also particularly fond of the stage: as the first song ended, the stage began to rotate! The lighting and rotating stage were paired so well that characters were able to appear as if they were traveling. The rotating stage was tastefully used over and over again when the Thernardiers made their entrance, when fighting began at the barricades, and when Jean Valjean carried Marius to safety through the sewers. It appeared to be magic, really. My seat was in the upper circle, which was great because I got to see some of what was going on behind the scenes, especially on the upstage half of the rotating platform.

tl;dr – it was fantastic and you should see it live at least once if you’ve read the book/watched the movie/know what it is/are curious about the hype.

British Museum

Sunday was spent roaming the British Museum and stumbling upon tall rooms after rooms of mummies, Assyrian reliefs, walls of hieroglyphs, and the Rosetta Stone. It was smaller than some of us expected. the handwriting is so neat and the letters are in really straight rows. i wonder what it was like to find this slab. Surely it wasn’t as clean and legible as it is right now. An image on the information panel said it was broken and that there used to be a top section that made it a much taller tablet-sort of thing.

It’s funny to think about the people who once used these things that now live in our museums. i don’t suppose too many of our things will end up in museums–we keep pretty good records now. i saw an old toy in the National Museum of Scotland the other day, and it seemed a representative of an artifact of which we still have plenty. when do our things start feeling like real museum artifacts?

This museum and the Surgeons’ Hall Museum had lots of mummified bodies or skeletons. Although it’s cool and freaky to see, it’s still sad to think about how some of them are unidentified strangers who had no plans to be frozen permanently in a pitiful posewithin a glass case.

Oh and on that note, there also happened to be a Day of the Dead exhibit and performance.

221B Baker Street: Sherlock Museum

The lighting was pretty tricky, so i don’t have many decent pictures from the Sherlock Holmes museum. The gift shop is full of fun Sherlocky things, so drop by if you’re a fan!

University College London (UCL)

Caltech also offers an exchange program with University College London (UCL). i got to see some of UCL during my stay. The campus isn’t super big and there are some campus buildings throughout the city. UCL is also right next to other university neighbors. The students, families, and tourists all contribute to the diverse culture that is characteristic of London.


Although i really enjoyed my stay in London, i’m glad to be back. It was only after leaving that i realized the things i love about Edinburgh. Don’t get me wrong–London’s an amazing, vibrant city–but i love how i’ve grown to become a Edinburgh local. On my flight back from London, i sat next to a man who was born and raised in Edinburgh. We started talking about great places for food, and although we didn’t use street names (one continuous street could have several different names… so no one really knows street names, anyway), i knew just where he was talking about by the landmarks and the way the streets curve. i don’t know if a month is enough to become a local in most places, but it is in Edinburgh, and i’m pretty grateful for that experience. (:

keep lookin’ up,


Jenny Sheng