Oct 30 2014

A Few Moments Recaptured

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The past two weeks have felt unbalancing, exciting, disorienting, surprising, and thrilling all at the same time. I just wanted to touch on a few of those moments throughout the ups and downs of the two weeks.

Lost or Wandering? I arrived at my dorm, Passfield hall, a weekend before the arrival of rest of my hallmates, which allowed me time to get acclimated to the city of London. Getting acclimated means wandering. And wandering means admiring and soaking in the architecture, people and culture while unknowingly walking in circles. I was bound to get lost so I embraced it early. Wandering was great way to just enjoy my time and learn to navigate London. I was able to get a more structured tour of London during a night walk with my fellow hallmates on this past Wednesday.  The pictures above are some of the sights I saw on my wanderings.

Rewinding two years: My first week in London, “Freshers’ week”, has felt like someone pressed rewind on my life to two years ago to orientation week at CWRU. Having idealized my orientation week at CWRU in my memory, experiencing it again reminded me of the unnerving excitement to starting university for the first time and anxiety of making friends and acclimating to the new environment. The week was filled with nostalgia as I remembered the amazing individuals I am a still friends with that I met at CWRU orientation week two years ago. But the reassuring part of going through LSE orientation was realizing the amount I have grown through my time at CWRU.

Language barriers? Two countries with the same language separated by one ocean, shouldn’t be that hard to acclimate right? Even through both Americans and Brits speak the same language, the cultural differences in attitudes and mannerisms still exist. I am slowly picking up the differences in words (example: elevator vs. lift and line vs. queue) in Britain. Talking to my parents about the differences in words has been fun because they recognize all the words I find different since they had grown up in India using some British English. It is great to see my mom gets excited about the random British words I balk at.

Books are too real. While living in DC with my sister and cousins over the summer, a town house a few doors down would place random things on the porch for anyone walking by to take for free. The items varied from a laundry basket to mugs to books. On my way to my internship, I would walk past the house everyday.  I picked up one of those books simply because it was by a familiar author, Ian McEwan. I also happened to bring that same book to London as a travel read without ever opening it. The first quote of the book was the following:

“Traveling is brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sun, the sky – all the things tending toward the eternal or what we imagine of it”

Reading the quote on my first day in London was shocking because it had fit my experience thus far perfectly. But having spent almost two weeks in London, I would only like to add my own spin on the quote. Traveling is brutality in the best way. It challenges you. Feeling off balance is freeing with the right mindset. Because what else do you really need other than “air, sleep, dreams, sun, the sky” and maybe your imagination.

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Oct 29 2014

Reflections on First Year

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Hi! It’s nice to meet you. Let me introduce myself – my name is Srshti and I’m a second year Maths and Economics undergrad. I’ve lived just outside London my entire life and this made the transition to a London university a lot easier. There are loads of advantages to living in London throughout the academic year, some of them of being:

  • I can go home in around an hour as often as I like and stock up on my mum’s cooking,
  • I am in a familiar environment and so technically-speaking, I should know where I’m going,
  • No one can tell me when to get out of bed, except for my timetable, and
  • I have access to some of the best independent book stores in the country, where I can spend an outrageous amount of my student maintenance loan.

Many of my secondary school friends went to far-flung cities to attend university, in order to get a better idea of independence. However, now that I’ve been at LSE for a year, I honestly couldn’t imagine studying anywhere else!

Of course, as with any higher education institution, I’ve had ups and downs during my time here. One thing that really surprised me last year was that you tend to find high career aspirations everywhere you look. Or, at least that’s the way it felt as a new student. Quite a few of my peers entered their undergraduate studies with a specific career goal in mind from the very beginning. I felt pressured to try and follow in their footsteps. Thus began a frantic flurry of applications for first year work experience. Note, that this isn’t a very practical or healthy way of going about things…

Lately, I have come to terms with the concept that my career will develop at its own pace, but that doesn’t mean I should take a backseat approach. My new philosophy is to go and find opportunities to develop myself, but to not let the careers process drown me psychologically and emotionally. I want to be able to work hard in my degree course, try new things, meet new people, and still leave enough time for myself. I’ve learned that surviving at LSE is a bit of a tightrope act. Nevertheless, it’s still been one of the best years of my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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Oct 28 2014

Why LSE is truly a global institution

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For every student, studying at the LSE is a dream. It is one of the world’s best institutions; LSE is the place where History is made every year. Graduates from LSE are a force to reckon with in the world. This is the place where we learn to believe that we are meant to conquer the world. And we will, because at LSE we are pursuing education to “know the causes of things”.

LSE is a wonderful place. I have met people from numerous nationalities till now, and everyone has different opinions and thoughts to share. I bumped into Italians at the Language center, ate breakfast with Singaporean and German friends, discussed Indian food with a Brazilian friend, went to a party and met Venezuelans, had a hot debate over nachos and beer with a fellow from Luxembourg. Over here, identities inter-mingle, not only symbolically but literally. Nobody is typecast here, we all have our own identities to live with and create.

In my home country, India, it is always interesting to meet people from different communities, since my country has over 28 different states and languages within the country. But very few people are fortunate enough to travel the world and move beyond the 28 language-zone barrier. At LSE, I’m literally travelling the world in 365 days. I am getting a first-hand account of political problems, solutions, laws and culture of almost every nation, by just going to University! I know that if there is an event at the Shaw library or a Fair, I will bump into someone new, who will teach me something new, and I will take back home another fond memory. That’s what LSE is maybe all about: the internationalism and the equality given to everyone under its roof!

At the LSE welcome presentation for postgraduates, the statistics shown to us were that more than 70% of graduate students are international students. And this kind of an atmosphere is something I have never seen anywhere else. Every day when I go to campus, I am sure that I will meet another new person, from a new country. Maybe the person sitting right in front of me is from Uganda, or France. Or maybe today I will meet someone from Trinidad! It’s an adventure. An adventure one never tires of.

These are perspectives which are first hand and will never make me form opinions about anyone. When classes begin, I am sure that there will be people from different nationalities who will enlighten the crowd about the actual situations in their country, tell us the “other” side of the press story.

I have just a year at LSE. But a year of cosmopolitanism to live with in the heart of London. I will never trade this for a hundred years anywhere else.

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Oct 27 2014

My London Season

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Before beginning my year at LSE, my parents and I spent the summer watching a collection of British television shows thanks to Masterpiece, the United States producing partner to many BBC and iTV favorites, including Downton Abbey.

It was one series in particular that gave us a catchphrase as I prepared for my move to London. The Buccaneers, which aired in 1995, tells the story of a group of American heiresses who travel to England to find husbands (think Cora from Downton). Based on Edith Wharton’s novel of the same name, it follows the girls from summers in Newport to lessons with their governess to coming out parties with London high society.

For us, one of the more memorable lines quickly became an oft-repeated sentiment: “They have come for the London season.”

As I prepared for my own ‘London season’ as a student in the MSc Politics & Communication program, we jokingly exclaimed this phrase time and again, for surely my own ‘season’ will be quite a bit different. I’ll swap distinguished parties for study sessions, piano sheet music for journal articles, and, hopefully at the end of this great adventure, elegant dresses for a cap and gown.

But even though it won’t be filled with the glamour of royal parties that graced the television screen, I am determined to make the most of this year in London, a desire augmented by my department orientation in the first week.

Media and Communications course materialsI can’t say I wasn’t nervous in the lead up to this day. But as I settled in to listen to Head of Department Nick Couldry welcome new students, my nerves melted into excitement. Professor Couldry ended his presentation by encouraging us to take advantage of the fact that we are studying here, in a center of culture, media, and politics, by getting out and seeing all city has to offer.

Dr. Bart Cammaerts, director of the Politics & Communication program, then closed out the day of presentations urging us to “follow our heart and go with our passions.”

A seemingly simple message, but one that carries a good deal of weight at the beginning of this journey. It was my passion for politics, for communication, for learning, and for exploration that brought me to LSE, and I am thrilled that I have found a place where these passions will be nurtured and championed.

The adventure has only begun. Cheers to my London season! 

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Oct 24 2014

Team Up At LSE

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“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.” – Rita Pierson

As my undergraduate career came to a close, I had a crisis of confidence. I hadn’t applied for any professional roles (oops!) and I hadn’t (yet!) been accepted to LSE for my graduate programme. So I did what many other American students do when they don’t know what they want to do – I applied for a job with Teach for America. TfA is the American equivalent of Teach First: where fresh graduates are placed in teaching roles in urban schools.

Needless to say, I chose to study at LSE over a teaching job in Jacksonville, Florida. But my desire to work in education wasn’t fleeting. I’m an MSc Social Policy and Development student, and one of my academic interests is the effectiveness of education policies. When I arrived in London, I was constantly perusing the LSE Post-Graduate Facebook page for advice on course selection, extracurriculars, and things to do in the city. I stumbled across a post about Team Up and had an “Aha!” moment.

picture of Team Up Committee President, Alyish Donnelly and Committee Treasurer Emma Yuen

Team Up Committee President, Alyish Donnelly and Committee Treasurer Emma Yuen

Team Up is a non-profit organization that trains British university students to tutor and mentor disadvantaged secondary school students. I applied for a role as tutor almost immediately. A few days after I submitted my CV, I received a call from the Team Up Hub asking if I’d like to play a larger role. I said yes, not knowing exactly what I was in for, but knowing that I was passionate about Team Up’s mission.

And not only am I now a part of this incredibly important organization, but I’m the one of the faces of Team Up at LSE. This year we have a goal of recruiting 32 tutors, and they’ve charged me with this task! So I’m writing this post today to spread the word about Team Up in the hopes that my audience will consider applying for the roles available to be volunteer tutors both now and in the future.

Applications for the current academic year are open until Monday 27 October.

LSE students have provided a fruitful crop of tutors thus far! I encourage everyone and anyone who recognizes the power of education to watch Rita Pierson’s TED talk and consider joining us to “Team Up” with two schools in London whose pupils will benefit immensely from your influence.

You can follow Team Up at LSE on Facebook and Twitter for more information and updates! If you’d like to apply, do it now, as tutor roles are currently being filled (apply here)!

team up logo

teamup.org.uk

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Oct 24 2014

Distasteful soft power: the woes of Japanese cuisine served abroad

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Shinzo Abe, Japan’s conservative prime minister, credits to his administration the UNESCO designation last year of washoku—Japan’s traditional diet—as an intangible cultural heritage. Mr Abe has been keen to increase Japan’s soft power in the world, and washoku’s UNESCO designation had long been cooking on his menu on initiatives.

Elected in 2012, this is Mr Abe’s second time as prime minister. Following an unpalatable financial scandal that rocked his administration back in 2007, Mr Abe resigned after just a year in office, supposedly due to an abrupt case of bowel illness. So far, he is stomaching his seconds in office quite well.

Before UNESCO stamped its seal of approval on washoku last December, the Japanese government mulled sending “sushi police” around the world to differentiate “authentic” Japanese food from vile interpretations (though it would have made for a good read on The Onion, my preferred source for savory satire). In response, critics blasted Japan for food fascism, especially given how Japanese food itself is a fusion of other cultures’ cuisines.

Yet perhaps the Japanese government’s insistence on separating the good from the bad wasn’t as crazy as it seemed. I could see how Japanese businessmen and bureaucrats, beaming from being assigned their posts in London, would wander unsuspectingly into a supposedly “Japanese” restaurant only to find that rather than savoring the fine taste of home would instead find their taste buds molested by ghastly gastronomy.

Such was the case when, yearning a Japanese meal, I walked into a Wagamama store in central London. Unsure of what to order, I went with their “Wagamama Ramen”—which I quickly realized was a big mistake. At 10.25 pounds (roughly 1,800 yen), this was the most expensive ramen I had ever ordered in my life.

Wagamama RamenThe taste?

Revolting.

The innocuous appearance of the ramen on the menu was deceptive, for in this miso-based ramen there were pieces of dried, tasteless chicken which did not add to the dashi of the soup, a mournful number of mussels that have mysteriously made their appearance in my ramen, and noodles that were… soft. Too soft.

All told, the most expensive ramen I had ever ordered had triumphantly won the crown of being the most vomiting concoction to ever make way down my esophagus.

Over 100 Wagamama restaurants defiantly dot the map of the UK; none have dared to enter Japan. Perhaps it may be argued that Wagamama caters to foreigners who have different food preferences, but from a Japanese student’s perspective, these stores will only serve to deceive foreigners of the Japanese cuisine experience and detract from Japan’s soft power winning the hearts and stomachs of diners around the world.

For those looking for authentic options, I would suggest eatTOKYO, which has prices comparable to Wagamama, or for an even cheaper dining option, Misato, in Leicester Square. If you’re looking for quality ramen, Ippudo opened its first store in London this month and offers a true taste of tonkotsu ramen from Fukuoka, Japan. I have already gone twice with groups of friends and have vowed to return again.

Sushi police would be going too far, but informed diners would serve well to hasten the survival of the tastiest.

//By Ryo TAKAHASHI, LSE.

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Oct 22 2014

Internship Application: Cover Letters

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Hello everyone! It’s that time of the year again when all LSE kids are rushing for Goldman Sachs openings.

Not to worry, not all of us want to work in GS or sell our souls to Investment Banks. However, Cover Letter writing skills are an important skill to have and it might prove to be an asset sometime when you actually do need to apply for jobs in the future.

Cover Letter structure

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am currently in my second year reading BSc XXX at the London School of Economics (LSE) and would like to apply for the XXX internship at [name of firm].

[Company specific paragraph/ Paragraph stating why you want to join the firm]

XXX is notable as one of the leading [industry] firms and constantly sets the bar for innovation and performance … The strength of XXX in the XXX sectors will provide an optimal training ground for interns in [division] and ample opportunities to develop my career. Furthermore, I would like to work at a firm that has a strong customer focus and I believe that my skills and abilities would be well suited for work in this division.

 You can also include:
-       Awards/ Recognition
-       Areas of specialisation (Hence your application to this firm)
-       The values they uphold
-       Company events you attended; who you met, and what you learnt
-       Current affairs (related to the division you’re applying to)
-       Other firm-related details (Example: Corporate Social Responsibility)

[Selling yourself/ Paragraph stating how you are perfect for the role]

I am able to work effectively in a fast-paced environment with a steep learning curve. As the [Position] of LSE SU XXX I organised … [what you did]. Through this, I improved my time management skills and developed essential public speaking skills, which would be beneficial while working in [division] as [mould the skills you learnt to the role you’re applying for].

 You normally include:
-       A maximum of 3-4 different examples/roles
-       Skills/ attributes you’ve learned or possess
-       How those skills/ attributes can add value to the firm
-       Participation in societies
-       Work experience
-       Volunteering work
-       Others (Example: Hobbies)

This internship programme would be a fantastic learning opportunity. I hope my qualities and skill sets can be of value to [name of firm].

Yours faithfully,

XXX

Notes:

  1. There is no one-way of writing a cover letter- the above is just an example of how you can go about writing it.
  2. Emphasise why you are perfect for the job throughout the entire cover letter- not just in the second paragraph.
  3. Never state – always elaborate your points. It is better to write 1 or 2 points really well than to write 5 points fleetingly.
  4. Remember to address the cover letter to the correct firm consistently throughout the entire cover letter- it will be really awkward it you wrote how much you want to work for JP Morgan in the second paragraph, end with saying you’ll be an ideal fit for Goldman Sachs, and send the cover letter to Morgan Stanley! Not a good way to make first impressions.
  5. Keep it under one page- HR doesn’t want a dissertation!

Before I end this post, did you know that LSE Careers provides:

-       Career-related guides such as: How to write a cover letter
(You can pick them up in their office or read it online)
-       CV checking services: 15 minute, face-to-face session with a CV consultant
-       Practice interviews:  One to one, 30 minute mock interview sessions

Find out more about the services LSE Career provides and how to book an appointment here.

Signing off,

Clarissa

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Oct 15 2014

Post-hoc Reflections: The lessons I have learnt….

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Its over. Done. My Master’s program is now in the past, and already there’s a whole new batch of students who walk the corridors and fill the library chairs at at the London School of Economics. I’d be lying if I said I don’t somewhat envy them. I am bemused by how quickly it’s zoomed by; as if my grasp on the time was so very tenuous. In some ways, its a blur, yet somehow, every moment stands out in my mind. Moments I am yet to fully process, yet which I know I will forever cherish.

Somebody recently asked me what I’ve learnt from my year at LSE, and what I would tell someone who had to go through the same year. What can I say? It has been a year of great learning – not just about my program of study, but about myself too, and the joy of discovery well worth the journey. And, in typical post-hoc reflective melancholy, I decided to indulge myself by writing them down in this post.

It’s not a sprint: The orientation week will not solve all the doubts, nor will it be a fool proof launchpad for the weeks to come. For that, there is just no substitute for reality. Perhaps I had somewhere in my head the idea that the transition into this new world would be seamless. In reality, I felt out of my depth and often overwhelmed by the sheer wealth of new information and stimuli coming my way. So many clubs, so many societies, so much happening. Book into this event, book into that event, sign up here, sign up there: all for fear of missing out on something. And fear is not a good way to begin anything, least of all a Master’s at LSE. It got to the point where I didn’t sign up for anything, because I felt like I wasn’t ready to commit to anything. It was only a couple of weeks in that I found my pace, found my space and got into a rhythm of my own. And once I found what worked for me, most of the rest just followed. Seamlessly.

I have a responsibility to do my research – This is by no means some sort of universal truth, but in my experience it feels that way. By research, I simply wish I had given some more thought to my post-degree plans, or having some idea of my general research interests. Still a teenager at the time, I came to LSE with no particular ambition or plan. I just wanted to learn, and to allow my newly acquired knowledge and skills to determine my path. In fits of petulance, I’d argue that if I knew everything beforehand, why would I have come here? I now see the defensive childishness in that kind of thought. Nobody can know everything, and of course it is important to be open to change, and to embrace the experiences life gives us spontaneously. Still, when you come to a place like LSE, where opportunities abound, it is not advantageous to be perennially unsure. Things don’t just happen to you here. You have to make them happen. And to make them happen, you have to know about them, or try to know. I realised I didn’t need a plan mapped down to the letter, but if knowledge is power, then surely, it is good to know things. I have learnt that sooner or later, I have to ask myself the tough questions, and it is to my advantage if I ask them sooner, even if my answer changes later.

There are anchors and there are crutches: This is something I am very glad I found out for myself, since I’m learning to protect my self-esteem and love myself without ever getting complacent. When people around you seem bent on a certain kind of career, or when everyone seems to be in perfect control of everything, their ways and their choices can seem like the ideal way. It is surprisingly easy to forget who you are and what you want. Surprisingly easy to cast aside our individuality and our true dreams to chase some externally-generated mirage of success. Surprisingly easy to beat yourself to a pulp for not achieving measures of worth you never really set for yourself in the first place. On the flip side, there is no point of coming to a global institution like this one if you are going to cling to your old achievements and refuse to change. I came here to be challenged, to explore new paths and push myself, not to rest on past laurels. I’ve often wondered what the solution to this conundrum is. For me, I decided to differentiate between my anchors and my crutches. My anchors are the things that keep me constant, that support me, that remind me that I am more than just the sum total of my accomplishments or my ambitions. Steadying, reassuring elements that keep insecurity and mindless rat-race behaviour at bay. The things that I can take pride in, irrespective of what I might or might not later achieve. The moments that bring a smile to my face whenever I feel in need of some internal TLC. My crutches are the things which hold me back, yet which I cling to, afraid of falling down should I let go of them. My crutches are my irrational anxieties and my rigid, stubborn preconceptions. The line between an anchor and a crutch isn’t clear to me yet, but I believe that the difference has something to do with fear. An example that comes to mind is my dissertation, where I did a mixed-methods study. I was reluctant to use quantitative methods or run an experiment, since I thought it was just too hard. I kept telling myself it didn’t matter if I didn’t, because I was good enough at qualitative methods and that would be enough. But, with some help from my supervisor, I came to realise that that was a crutch. My fear of trying out a new method and messing it up was standing in the way of my learning something new and doing my research in the best way I could. And the satisfaction I felt when I submitted my dissertation with both an experiment and with interviews, tells me that my crutch might just have become an anchor.

There is so much more I have learnt; so many things I have come to understand, to question and to appreciate. My year at LSE has been so many things: challenging, frustrating, demanding, exciting, engaging, enjoyable and of course, extremely, extremely busy. But more than anything, it’s been life-affirming. And now, having survived it and lived to pen the tale, I can confidently say that if I could do it all again, I would. Exactly the same way.

PS: Thank you for tolerating my ramblings all year long! :)

Posted by: Posted on by Vaishnavi Ram Mohan Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Sep 10 2014

At Journey’s End

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It once appeared difficult to conceive. Now, it is reality. For those of you who are about to embark on your LSE journey,  the end of the road appears far and unclear. So it is for most of your degree. Present necessities and preoccupations sap your energy, while the future, that imperceptible state, appears far away and demands little attention.

As a master’s student I can assert that among the biggest preoccupation is your dissertation. You built it. You destroy it. You change its foundation until somehow, rather like the culmination of a series of accidents, you have 10,000 coherent words.

For a master’s student, the pinnacle is the dissertation.

Yet, it comes as a shock when it is done. A predictable shock, but a shock nonetheless. Why is this? Because, for the previous 8 to 10 months you have been giving your heart and soul to the enterprise. You have defined yourself, in part, as an LSE student. You have become part of the academic machine.

Once your dissertation is over, you feel an overwhelming sense of relief. Your life is yours once more, you are at journey’s end. But you soon realize that for all its faults, for all its stress and sleepless nights, it was worth it. You would not trade in the experience for anything in the world. You enjoyed it. And now, it is gone.

Here we are at journey’s end. Your world, which you have painstakingly built, has dissolved.

All in all, it was wonderful being a student. Your sense of accomplishment soon leads to a feeling of “what’s next?”. However there is an immeasurable strength to this LSE adventure. For those who graduate it may be an end to a journey, but there are many more chapters to be written, many more adventures to be had. In the end all will be better.

After all, you will probably never have to write 10,000 words ever again. And if you do, not only will more than 3 people read them, but you will probably be paid for the effort.

Posted by: Posted on by Matthieu Santerre Tagged with: , ,

Jul 23 2014

As Green as (Wimbledon) Grass

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*Advance warning: This post contains inordinate amounts of Roger Federer adoration and some rather unashamed ‘fangirling’ *

It has been a bit of a break between posts, yes. I’d like to say the reason behind it was the hours of long work on the dissertation, but in all honesty, it feels like the summer is melting away just like snowflakes! What will not melt away as quickly, however, are the memories I have of earlier this month, when I realised one of my lifelong dreams in getting to watch Roger Federer (and much more tennis) at Wimbledon.

For tennis aficionados, Wimbledon is the tennis tournament, and has attained pilgrimage status amidst fans and players alike. Since the age of nine, I’ve been watching tennis and have come to love the game despite having never picked up a racquet in my life. And, oh, yes: I. AM. A. FAN. OF. ROGER. FEDERER. The chance to watch my childhood (and adolescence and adulthood) idol glide around Centre Court, floating across the hallowed lawns where he has reigned supreme was quite simply, the chance to tick an item off the very top of my bucket list.

Like most good things, tickets to Wimbledon are practically impossible to come by, especially if you don’t plan months in advance. The cheapest way for students like me to get tickets, is to join “The Queue” (please note capitals). The Queue is…well…the mother of all Queues. I visited Wimbledon Park two days before the tournament began and was greeted by an enormous empty field, serene and lush. When I got to Wimbledon during the Championships, the field was filled with tents and stalls and had turned into something of a campsite with an atmosphere not unlike J.K. Rowling’s Quidditch World Cup scenes. I joined The Queue at about 6am, only to discover that there were 4,700 people ahead of me! Yes, and within minutes, there were another 4,000 after me. Some people had been camping overnight for two days!

The Queue is not just a “queue” – it is an experience. A chance for people to chat excitedly about the day’s matches, hedge bets and make predictions, laugh and joke and spend time together in the early morning amidst sun-drenched grass. As coffee is poured into Styrofoam cups and sleepy smiles are exchanged, as people shuffle excitedly as they inch forward, you realise that the Queue is not a four/five-hour wait, but a sort of build-up where you get to soak in the excitement. While I was surprised by the general enthusiasm and bonhomie that filled the air, I was really impressed by the amazing order and efficiency that defined the process. A crowds of thousands of excited people queueing up for long hours has the propensity to turn ugly. But the pleasant stewards were in complete control and the process totally streamlined.

An image of tents at the legendary Wimbledon queue

The legendary Wimbledon queue

And once you’ve made it in (at which point you might experience the feeling you get when you find a seat in the LSE library), there is the tennis. The world’s best players, within touching distance. Watching them run and play and lunge, straining every muscle, their limbs taut as they push themselves to attain excellence and glory, both of which are encapsulated in every swing of the racquet, and every toss of the ball. Truly, watching sport live is incomparable to watching it on television or on live stream, and to get the opportunity to do so is to be highly fortunate.

Wimbledon is beautiful, make no mistake about it. The grass, as green as could be, each blade trimmed as if with a precision razor, forming a luxuriant carpet. The colours are bright and bold, with the theme colours of purple and green evident in every spot. Even the flowers all across the complex are various hues of purple. A rich, regal purple and a pristine green reflected throughout.

What is most exciting, especially for starry-eyed fangirls like me, is the proximity to legends, fresh talents and crowd favourites alike. It reminded me a little bit of the time we used to travel on safaris in Kenya. Whenever we would spot a “minor sighting”, like zebra or a wildebeest, there would be mild excitement in our kombi (minivan). A brief pause, a quick snap and a lazy nod, before we proceeded. But when we chanced to sight a lion or a leopard, a sudden hush fell upon the line of vehicles, preceding the excited flurry of cameras and stifled whispers. I couldn’t help but draw a parallel to Wimbledon, where the sighting of a “big player” meant the phones and cameras were whipped out in a fan frenzy, whilst other players enjoyed a more serene reception.

The highlight for me was wangling a ticket to watch Roger Federer’s second-round match on Centre Court. I could write dissertations on Roger Federer, but suffice it to say that this was an experience I will never, ever forget. A masterclass. An exposition of brilliance. It had a dreamlike quality to it; the childish fantasies of a nine-year old, unfolding before her eyes. The hastily clicked photographs proof that indeed, dreams do come true, even after a decade.

Centre court at Wimbledon

Centre court at Wimbledon

Tennis notwithstanding, the Wimbledon experience is one to savour because of the lore and tradition that surrounds it. The players wear only white, and there are no big sponsor hoardings (except for those from sponsors long associated with the event). From the overnight queue to the Pimms and champagne, from the ice-creams to the Robinson’s Barley Water slushies, everything is built into the legend in such a way that your experience would be incomplete without sampling them all.  And then of course, there are the strawberries and cream. Of the many celebrated Wimbledon traditions, this one is probably the winner. There is just something about plump red strawberries slathered in Kentish cream and dusted over with powdered sugar that makes it irresistible. At this point, I feel compelled to point out that red strawberries and (off)-white cream are a perfect match for Roger Federer’s Swiss-themed colours – a mere coincidence, no doubt!

Strawberries and cream

Strawberries and cream

You do not have to be a tennis fan to enjoy the many aspects of this wonderful celebration of talent, skill and character. There is so much more to appreciate. The quest for perfection, the respect for tradition, the attention to detail. Each little element feels like it has been there for years, and will remain there for years. Constant, enduring and a hallmark of this great sporting event.

In short, if you are a tennis fan, do go and see Wimbledon. If you’re not…well, still, do go see Wimbledon. :)

Posted by: Posted on by Vaishnavi Ram Mohan Tagged with: , , , , , , ,