America is a very young country. Nothing has made this clearer to me than this semester at Harlaxton. In my travels around Europe, I have been amazed at how evidence of times long past still exists today. From the ruins of ancient Roman forts in England to the magnificent cathedrals such as Notre Dame in France, the preservation of history in Europe is very impressive. But one city in particular has grabbed my attention more than any other because of how it manages to mingle the past with the present.
London, England is an enormous city. I have been their twice and still have only seen a small part of it. There was Parliament and Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, Westminster Abby, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Baker Street, and so much more to see and do there. Like many other cities in the UK, London had many stone or brick buildings that looked like they were from an older time. As they are in all of England, the streets of London are narrow, like they would have been during the horse and cart days before motorcars. The many museums in England, such as the British Museum, hold artifacts and treasures from ancient times and from cultures all over the world. It is obvious that London is very concerned with preserving the past. However, as I looked over the skyline, I noticed something that seemed to contrast greatly with this preservation of the old. Modern-looking buildings and skyscrapers stood tall throughout the city. Many seemed to be off in the distance, away from the older-looking parts of town. The designs of some of these buildings were very unique and creative. There were a few egg-shaped structures, such as the elongated Gherkin building. Another prominent structure, which looked a bit like a very tall, skinny pyramid, was called the Shard. According to its website, the Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe. Some areas of London combined the old and the new quite well. In Piccadilly Circus, while many of the buildings were still reminiscent of older times, wrapped around one of them was a large screen that flashed several different advertisements, somewhat similar to the giant advertising screens seen in New York City.
The way London easily combines the new with the old greatly impressed and intrigued me. No other city that I have visited in my travels with Harlaxton captured this mixing of two clashing time periods quite as well. It once again reminded me of how young my country is, and made me wonder if perhaps someday America will have its own version of London, preserving relics of the past while embracing the modern touches of the present.