Recent Developments

“Each new development starts from something else.  It does not come out of a blue sky.  You make use of that which has already entered the mind…That is the real reason for accumulating knowledge.”–Robert P. Crawford



Whereas my lost post was reflective and looking forward to the immediate future, this one is more a chronology of my recent experiences.
A whole lot of free time.  That’s what I’ve had over the past 2+ weeks.  Just oodles and oodles of free time.  It’s sort of a good problem to have but a problem nonetheless.  In order to make my free days worthwhile I planned some short excursions both in and outside of London.  This post will talk about those brief trips.
First up is Cardiff, Wales.  Oh Wales, I didn’t have any real desire to see you.  I had pretty much been actively avoiding visiting Wales as I just couldn’t think of any reason to go there.  Some friends of mine that had been always just emphasized the outdoor activities Wales has to offer, which to me was just code for “yea not a whole lot going on in Wales”.  I was pretty much right.  Cardiff was a nice, small city, but it did not have a whole lot of stuff to do.  Curiosity was the driving factor that forced me to take the 2 hour trek to the west of England.  I was also pleased to be able to say that I’ve visited every country in the UK, and moreover, every capital of every country in the UK (London, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff).  I suppose that’s an achievement only an IR student would find marginally impressive.  Anyway, I stayed at a small little backpacker’s along the river across from the massive Millennium Stadium.  At the time of my checkin, an Australian girl (yes, yet another Australian) arrived shortly after me and we began talking in the hostel’s kitchen as we waited on the owner, Charlie, to pull up our reservations.  After introducing myself to Alexandra and throwing my bag into my 4 bed room, I decided that I’d begin my self-guided tour of Cardiff by starting in the bay.  It was a nice touristy shopping area.  I guess if you had wanted to you could charter a boat and go out through the harbor.  I wasn’t too interested in that.  After grabbing a pint at the bay I walked through Cardiff’s city center.  Truth be told Cardiff reminded me a lot of Belfast.  Everything is disturbingly new, as if they were desperately trying to give the city a makeover, and though there isn’t too much to do in either city you also wouldn’t say that they weren’t nice.  Just kind of bleh.  Apparently Cardiff is a mecca for neighboring youth to come and drink themselves into oblivion.  MTV’s newest t̶r̶a̶i̶n̶w̶r̶e̶c̶k̶ show called The Valleys is set in Cardiff and it makes its cousins Jersey Shore and Gordie Show look like something a church would produce.  I wish I could’ve witnessed that but I just stayed in at the hostel.
BONUS BLOG FEATURE!!  If you want to see how bad The Valleys is then just give this link a click.
Ok so a couple days after I returned from Cardiff I decided to go visit the WASPiest place in the UK (along with perhaps Oxford and Windsor) Cambridge.  All I’ll say about it is this.  It’s a lovely town.  Gorgeous university that would make any university in the US just look like the University of Phoenix set up a tent.  In fact, the university’s campus is so nice and so rich with architectural genius (King’s College Chapel) that they have guards at each of the university’s gates to make sure that tourists do not wander around the school grounds.  So because of that I wasn’t able to see too much of the inner campus but I did get plenty of photos from walking around the school’s perimeter.
Yesterday (wednesday) was without question the most eventful day of the past 2 weeks.  At 1, along with Gloria and Marie, I went to Chatham House to attend a lecture from one of the most prominent scholars within the field of International Relations, Mr. Joseph S. Nye, Jr.  The man is simply a legend in the IR community and one of the most readable and wise scholars in the world.  Among his numerous achievements are Assistant Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the National Security Council group on nuclear proliferation, Chairman of the National Intelligence Council, Dean of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and of course the father of ‘smart power’ and ‘complex interdependence’.  I must have cited the works of Joe Nye (I can call him Joe now that we’ve met) no fewer than two dozen times throughout the course of my two semesters at Richmond.  To make all of this mean something, at the conclusion of Nye’s lecture on the personality types of U.S. Presidents (which was amazing of course) I purchased his latest book and then realized I had the opportunity for him to sign my copy.  I introduced myself (I wish I had had a business card or something), shook his hand and now have an autographed copy of my book.
Then, as if the day couldn’t go any better, I had a small sporting event to attend.  My friend Lisa and I bought tickets to walk over to Stamford Bridge in Fulham and watch an English Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Tottenham Hotspur.  It was an extraordinary experience.  The game and quality of the play was outstanding but so too were the fans.  All of the singing and chanting and jumping frantically after each goal truly stood up to the reputation English soccer fans have earned.  Such a great night.  To see some highlights of the game I was at, you can click here.
On Saturday I’m moving out of my small flat in Courtfield Gardens and temporarily storing my things in a locker while I travel the Mediterranean and soak up some sun and warmth.  Sunday I fly to Dubrovnik, Croatia for a few days and then I continue onward to Barcelona and Bilbao.  I couldn’t be more excited.  I’ll of course provide plenty of updates on each respective trip as well as my pending move into my new flat in Bayswater.

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