A Lund Scholar’s Guide to London: Mariah Alvarez

Forever Lund Scholar Mariah Alvarez (2022-23) Shares Her Favorite Ways to See London Like a Local

1. Connect with the community by hopping on the Tube. I felt most culture shocked in London riding the Underground for the first time. I’d never even been on a train before. But soon, I felt most at home on the Tube with friends, that warmth and closeness of everyone sticking together. It made me think about what a difference it would make to have accessible public transportation –– underground or above –– in the Central Valley. Something about all that access to so much transportation creates a collective or community.

How to see an overwhelming flood of art across London in just three weeks? Take the Tube, of course. Photo: Mariah Alvarez (left)

2. Do you fashionista? Even if you don’t care what you wear, don’t miss the fashion collections at The Victoria and Albert Museum or shows at the Saatchi Gallery. The V&A houses one of the world’s largest collections of costume ranging from ancient Egyptian slippers to rare 18th century gowns to 1960s African couture to “Life’s a Beach” muscle from the ‘80’s. At Saatchi, view fashion photography, exhibitions like a multi-sensory “haute-tech” Chanel show and fashion events. My visits here inspired me to create a textile assemblage that emphasizes social issues about womens’ identities. I also created a black and white drawing of Queen Victoria.

3. At the Victoria and Albert Museum, I was sitting cross-legged on the floor, sketching a Madonna and Child statue. It was my first time sketching in public, and having people go by and peek at what I was drawing was something new. I was nervous. I stopped and a little while after, a young woman came up and said, “ Hi. I noticed you sketching. Why did you stop?” I told here I wasn’t used to drawing in public. Then she said, “Well, I just wanted to tell you that it was coming out beautiful.” It really meant a lot to get a compliment from someone that way, because I lacked confidence. She helped me realize I shouldn’t doubt my abilities. Try it yourself. You’ll see what I mean.

4. Eat like a Londoner. Fish and chips. Full English breakfast –– with the black pudding. Fries with mayonnaise. Strongbow hard cider (it tastes like carbonated pomegranate juice). Cockney pie and mash (minced or ground beef pie with parsley liquor and mashed potatoes). Vietnamese Pho (it works charms with flavor and keeps you warm in London weather). Hearty chicken soup with potatoes. Taco Bell or McDonalds –– just one time, just to check out the difference in menus and tastes. And chocolate, especially hot chocolate, so much richer in flavor. There’s plenty to enjoy about classic British food. Trust me. It’s all good.

5. There’s nothing quite like walking in London (no, not the song by Concrete Blonde). So much is within walking distance, so ditch the traffic, slow down, and explore London by foot. Take a morning walk and catch some breakfast with friends at a nearby market or pub. Wander to a museum or gallery, a historic site, a grocery store. Visit one the many local markets and listen to music while sampling the food or do a little shopping. Hop on a bus tour through London Bridge, then explore the other bank of the Thames. If you’re studying and analyzing artwork the overwhelming way we were, you’ll love the time to just be out and about. You’ll never forget those silent, peaceful morning walks –– or that nearby English breakfast.

Mariah Alvarez graduated from Fresno State with a bachelor’s degree in art in 2023 and earned art teaching credentials in 2023, when she was distinguished as an “Outstanding Credential” honoree. She is currently pursuing a full-time position as an art educator in the Fresno area while substitute teaching students in both primary and secondary grades. She stays in touch with her fellow Forever Lund Scholars, as well as her college Art Study Group.  

Photo of 2022 Lund Scholar Tony Xiong

A Lund Scholar’s Guide to London: Mariah Alvarez

by | Feb 19, 2024 | Forever Lund Scholars, Uncategorized

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