Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Day 19 - So We Meet Again

Greetings, America! It has been a while since we last saw each other.

Last time we were together, some of the group was apprehensive about the opportunities to come, others couldn’t wait to jump off that plane, and a select few were just too sleep deprived to understand what was actually going on. However, we have grown since then.

We came with one goal, to be educated about sustainable practices that can be implemented not only at UNI but also in our personal lives. We were submerged in a lifestyle where there weren’t trashcans on almost every corner, toilets that made you second-guess on how to flush, and finding a drinking fountain was like looking for a needle in a haystack. In those two short weeks it was easy to see how all of those things set their ways of living apart from ours. In the end, we came out with more than we could have ever imagined.

New friendships have been created and new memories have been made. As individuals, we have been able to see a new side to living and a new side to the life we put on hold for two weeks. We were given the opportunity to be surrounded with creations that leave you speechless, but what really leaves you speechless is getting back into a routine and coming back to the memory where something so simple could take your breath away.

Life goes on, schedules get busy, but in the words of John Legend, “the future started yesterday, and we’re already late.”

For some, this opportunity was the chance of a lifetime. For others, it is just the beginning of a life long adventure.


Junior, Interactive Digital Studies Major

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Day 18 - Last Night Abroad

Today felt a little bittersweet because it marked the last day of our trip, but many of us have hit our limit on the amount of travel we can handle in two weeks. It was one of the few days in which we did not have a predetermined schedule in the morning, so we were finally able to get a little extra rest. We still wanted to take advantage of our last moments in London, so a group of us took the tube train system to Emirates Stadium, the home of the Arsenal soccer club. As soccer fans, it was cool to see something that we have only seen on T.V. It shed light on the pride that they show toward their local club and the environment that the sport creates.

We agreed to meet at the Hard Rock Café for lunch to have one last meal that wasn’t McDonald’s or Burger King. The bill shocked a few of us, but the food and the experience was worth it. We had recently found out that this was the original Hard Rock Café, which made it an extra special experience. The walls were covered with previously worn jackets and guitars from famous rock legends such as Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix and Paul McCartney. The environment was something that we will definitely remember and was a fitting last meal for the group.

After the meal, we began preparing for the trip home because we had an early departure the next morning. It really began to hit us that the trip was coming to an end and the vibe seemed a little bit down. As we packed up each souvenir that we had gathered throughout the trip, it brought up good memories that we created with members of our group. The friendships we have developed in just a two-week trip surprised almost all of us. We all meshed so well as a group and felt comfortable with each other as if we had been friends for much longer than just two weeks. Between the lasting memories and friendships we have made during the trip, the expectations all of us had going into the trip were blown away.

Senior, Business Marketing

Junior, Public Administration

Day 17 - Exploring London

Today started out with about half the group planning to see a service at Westminster Abbey. It is quite expensive to tour the Abbey, but if you attend a service, you are able to see this beautiful cathedral for free. However, things didn't go as planned. Due to a busy morning in London with various streets and tube stations being closed down, we arrived five minutes late and weren't able to go in.

Since we were already out and about, we decided to go to the Tkts booth in Leicester Square and look into tickets to shows for that night. The Tkts booth is a place where you can get information about all the musicals showing and purchase discounted tickets. There are many places similar claiming to have discounted tickets, but you have to be cautious because many of these places are scams. Many of us got tickets to Wicked and others chose to see Once and 12 Angry Men.

As we continued to walk around, we learned that all the commotion and road blocks were for the rehearsal for the Queen's birthday festivities that will take place next week. We were planning on seeing the changing of the guards today but instead watched the rehearsal. There were a lot of guards and horses, and we even saw the carriages that the royalty will ride in. It was interesting to be able to see an event that most people wouldn't.

We then decided to head towards the South Kensington area to check out the museums. Some people went to the Natural History Museum while others went to the Science Museum. In keeping with the theme of the trip, we spent most of our time at the science museum in the energy area. This was an area of the museum where we could play around on interactive machines and learn about energy conservation and sustainable energy solutions. Other parts of the museum were about space, minerals, medicine, health, etc.

After the museum, some of us went for lunch before searching for a special location. A few of us are big Parent Trap fans (the remake of the film from the 90s). We had a mission to find the house that was filmed as the mother's house in the movie. It turned out that we only had to walk a few minutes after lunch to find our destination. To our surprise and disappointment, the house was under construction! Out of all the houses on the block, the one we wanted a picture in front of had a porter potty in front with a man working on remodeling. Even through our disappointment, we were still happy to see the place!

A few of us then made our way to Oxford Street, which is one of the main shopping streets in the city. We only went into a few shops, as it was really busy, so we didn't stay long! Instead of shopping, we treated ourselves to some Haagen-Dazs ice cream before heading towards the theater. Everyone enjoyed the shows they went to and are excited for our last day in London tomorrow!

Senior, Elementary Education

Senior, Family Services and Gerontology

Day 16 - Harry Potter and Chinatown

Hey everyone! Today was our first day to explore London all on our own. First we all rode the tube and got off around Borough Market and London Bridge. The market was gigantic! It had every kind of food imaginable and more. Everything was fresh,especially the huge piles of fish. I tried some cheese, which was not very good and left a horrible taste in my mouth, so naturally I washed it down with a yummy brownie.

After we got our fill of free samples, we hopped on the double decker bus tour and rode around the city for a bit. Our tour guide had some pretty cheesy jokes, but we just rolled with it. I sat on the roof and let me tell you, it was pretty chilly. After riding around for a little while I started to get sleepy. I think everyone has perfected the art of falling asleep on buses on this trip. We got off around Piccadilly Circus and got Ben and Jerry’s ice cream for lunch, which was definitely a fantastic life choice. Others in the group ate in China Town and TGI Fridays.

A big group of us went on the Harry Potter walking tour. This tour was honestly THE best tour I have ever been on because I am a huge Harry Potter fan! Our tour guide took us to some of the places where they shot the movie. He also shared some fun facts along the way and asked some Harry Potter trivia questions. Of course I couldn’t resist and had to answer pretty much every one. I didn’t know one answer and some people gave me a hard time about it.

Anyway, we also went to a sweet shop that inspired the author of the books. We got some tasty Bon Bons, which session one told us we had to get, and also some chocolate frogs. The tour guide had a trivia competition and he picked me as the winner and I got to pose as Ron Weasley in the exact spot where the actor who played him stood! Let me just say it is in the top 5 best moments on my entire life!!

Next we went to Chinatown. Grace is from China and speaks Mandarin, so she picked a really nice restaurant for us to eat at. She spoke Mandarin with the staff there, and it was really neat to see this interaction. She also taught us the proper way to use chopsticks. After a little while I gave up because it was taking way too long for me to finish my meal, and I was honestly too hungry. I don’t think our experience would have been as fun without her.

Last night, Eric showed us where the Sherlock Holmes bar was, and today we attempted to find it. I say attempted because it took us quite a long time to find it again. I am pretty sure we walked in a complete circle and didn’t even realize it. After getting ourselves a little lost, we finally found it and enjoyed the nice atmosphere of the pub with the locals. We headed back to the hotel and relaxed for a while. Some people went to the play Once, and they really enjoyed it and said the singing was very good. Then we all met back up as a group and went to the pub right next to our hotel and had a fun night.

Sierra Beschorner

Junior, Biology