Photo journal: Wala Hassan in England

Theater Studies student, Wala Hassan, shares her experience as a study abroad student at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) through photos.

One of my first days at LAMDA was spent getting to explore Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London. It was absolutely amazing! I had never seen a castle before and I got to see two of the most famous ones all in one week! I was a little over-excited (which is pretty clear in this picture). Hampton Court had the most beautiful gardens AND the most convoluted floor plan. I still don’t know if I saw even half of the whole grounds that day, but I did thoroughly enjoy myself. Hampton Court also has a maze that my friends and I made it through!
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With LAMDA, I got to visit Stratford-Upon-Avon for 3 days! It was a lovely trip, Stratford is such a beautiful place. On the trip, we saw two shows at the Royal Shakespeare Company: A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Doctor Faustus. Both shows were amazing. My entire group was completely blown away by Doctor Faustus in particular; I could have seen it five hundred more times. We also had the opportunity to take a masterclass exploring A Midsummer Night’s Dream!
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I think this looks like I’m sitting in front of a painting, but it’s actually the beautiful river Avon. I could have stared at it all day. While visiting Stratford, LAMDA arranged for us to explore Shakespeare’s birthplace and Anne Hathaway’s cottage. It was really cool to be in the same place that Shakespeare was born, almost surreal. What made it even more surreal was that I saw his grave the same day. It was really cool to get to pay my respects to the bard in breathtaking Stratford-Upon-Avon.
This is the Tower Bridge…almost. I tried to take a panorama photo with a view of the beautiful bridge, the Shard, and the Gherkin; turns out, panoramas can’t be taken with your phone sideways. I didn’t see this gem until I got home and had such a laugh that I decided to share it with my friends on Facebook. Someone shared it to Reddit and the next thing I knew, it went viral. One of my friends messaged me letting me know that TimeOut London shared my picture on their page.  It was pretty exciting since TimeOut is very famous, even if nobody knows I took the picture. It’s nice to have some anonymous fame for my Inception style tower bridge photo. Tagline: Failed Study Abroad Picture.
I got to take to coolest boat ride to Greenwich and see the Prime Meridian line! I have to say, I really thought there was going to be some mega-crazy time warp from standing in two timezones at once, but alas there was none. On this hill, there were some very cool museums, a beautiful view, and a piece of a meteorite labeled “the oldest thing you will ever touch.” Of course I took advantage of that opportunity.
Southbank is one of the most beautiful places and walks in London in my opinion. It’s a short walk from the London Eye, Big Ben, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and the like. It’s also home to the National Theatre. I was lucky enough to see two shows at the National, one with Emory abroad and one with LAMDA. With LAMDA, I saw As You Like It which was pretty exciting, and I can’t wait to see the productions at Theater Emory when I get back!
One Wednesday afternoon, my professor at LAMDA decided to send us on a scavenger hunt to an undisclosed place. My group ended up in Spitalfields in East London. The architecture there is truly one-of-a-kind. It’s the only place I’ve seen where there are building erected pre-1500s juxtaposed with the Shard and Gherkin buildings that look like they were built in the future. We explored every little bit (or at least tried to). It was an amazing Wednesday afternoon. I later returned with my Emory abroad group and found stuff I had missed the first time, including the Denis Severs house, which was the COOLEST thing ever. 10 out of 10. Would recommend.
I entered a ticket lottery to see Red Velvet and didn’t win, but I did score discounted tickets! I was so fortunate to get a chance to see the show at the famous Garrick Theatre and also to meet the cast, including Adrian Lester (pictured), afterwards. The whole experience was definitely worth standing outside for over an hour! The show was so amazing and really powerful. I first learned about the show in my History of Drama and Theater II class so I was VERY excited to learn that Kenneth Branagh was remounting a production and that Olivier-winning Adrian Lester was reprising the role of Aldridge. I even got to see it from the third row! So I basically fan-girled that whole day (and I still am fan-girling).
Unfortunately, the outdoor Globe Theatre is closed during the winter. But that didn’t stop me and my friend Mona from taking a tour inside. It was absolutely beautiful and most definitely one of the best places in London. I got to touch the stage and the dried-on fake blood (haha). Even though the outdoor Globe is closed, the Sam Wannamaker Theatre was open and, fortunately, LAMDA took us to see Cymbeline there! It was a very intimate theatrical experience. I even got to experience what it was like to be a groundling (even though we weren’t technically on the ground). It was so magical to see the Globe, which is almost an exact replica, because my lover for Shakespeare is what brought me to LAMDA in the first place.







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