Sunday, May 26, 2013

Home At Last and Rested!

Well I made it home around 8:15 yesterday evening and let me tell you, I was glad to be out of any mode of transportation. 10 hours in a plane and then 6 hours in a car was plenty enough for me today! Our flight from London to Chicago was pretty smooth, I got in three movies and possibly an hour of sleep. It was nice and quick and then we got to Chicago and had to pass through customs which went by quickly and as we were about to the gate it was almost time to go again. When we sat down were told that they didn't know where our plane was and then we got delayed for about 45 minutes, kind of nerve racking but we finally landed and about 30 seconds of being on the ground, I was sweating. Going from cold and rainy to sunshine and 80 is a pretty big change. It was nice to see the sun though! After goodbyes my mom and I were on the way home, by the time we got back I was exhausted, I am still running a little slow but am glad to be back. The last two weeks were incredible, I met some great people and a great time with them! I am so glad that I had the opportunity to be a part of this trip. Thanks to our guides and ISA, they were all so great, they were so nice to us and did so much but a really really big thanks to Dr. Nobiling for supporting the study abroad program by putting this trip together and then putting up with all of us for two weeks in a foreign country! I had a great time and think that studying abroad is a great experience that everyone should try at least once, it opens doors and allows students to experience a different culture. England was really great to go to, we have historical connections to this country but as time has progressed things have changed and it was interesting to witness some of these changes first hand! I loved all the time spent there and would really like to go back to this area and spend more time in some of the places and hopefully visit other countries and get some more stamps in my passport! Well I think that is all for this blog, which has been an experience in itself, rather difficult at times but  I am glad I was able to do it so my friends and family could keep up with the trip as well! That's all folks!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Whoops... How could I forget about the Tate Modern?

I seemed to have spaced an important visit on Thursday and let me tell you, it was INTERESTING! We were required to visit an art gallery during our two week adventure and Thursday after the legal walk Laura, Kayla, and I decided that we should go then and when we were trying to decided on which of the many places to go we finally decided that the Tate Modern would be a good choice. We navigated our way from the Royal Courts of Justice to Southwark, we followed the big orange light posts leading the way to the Tate Modern. Once inside it was kind of confusing and I am sure that confusion never left. Modern art is...weird, in my opinion, I had a really hard time looking at some of the art and understanding it. There is always supposed to be some deeper meaning and as I stared at some of the pieces I tried to look for deeper meaning but I really REALLY did not understand it. This piece for example, is called Trip Hammer, to me it looks like to giant thick metal slabs but no... This is art. I did not know that placing a slab of metal on top of another piece was art. I guess I look at things for what they are and that's it, but congratulations to the creator on getting this placed in an art gallery.
Richard Serra, 'Trip Hammer, 1988
The pure state of confusion I was in did not cease, as we toured more the confusion became greater and I am sure the look on my face was screaming it as well. We entered into a gallery that on the door read that things in this particular room may not be suitable for everyone and contained some adult graphic nature and let me tell you they were correct, I was kind of shocked at the animated movie and we will leave it at that...
After that I decided that modern art is not really my cup of tea and was ready to skedaddle right on out of there.

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Final Countdown...

Attempt Number 467, at trying to get this blog to upload...

Surprise it’s raining out! Another free day today and the last full day in London, kind of bittersweet, I have enjoyed my time here but I am looking forward to going home in a few hours! Today was a relatively calm day; I worked on my blogs for a good majority of the day and then went down to Camden town for some last minute souvenir shopping with Danielle, Kalee, and Justin. (You are welcome to those people who are lucky enough to receive a gift from abroad!)  I came back to the hotel to pack up and make sure I had room to get my belongings and souvenirs home; it looks like I should have just the right amount of space to get all of my things into my suitcase and backpack and then just hung out. We were invited to a final group dinner before we depart and enjoyed some “American” pizza, which is what they call Pepperoni,  at an American food chain, Pizza Hut. They have the same name but are definitely different! I think the food is one of the biggest differences culturally that I have seen and I have to say I don’t much care for the food here, I am not a fish person so I can’t enjoy the famous Fish and Chips that everywhere seems to offer. After the dinner I headed back to the hotel and then Morgan, Alesha, and Kalee, and I went off to ride the London Eye. The views from the London Eye were quite spectacular, looking over the city that for the past two weeks we have walked around almost every day was pretty amazing. The city is massive there is so much to see and having a view from the top was great. The London Eye is a well know structure and I am glad I got to ride it on my last night in London. Tonight I will finish the last of the packing and make sure I have everything ready for tomorrow morning. Well I guess that’s all for Friday’s blog, next blog will be made from the good old United States! J

Goodbye London!!!


Legal Walk and Jack the Ripper Walk

Thursday was the last planned day we had in London, we had a legal walk scheduled and Joanne was our guide again for the morning. It was a tad bit chilly out but we made it through the walk and then went to the Royal Courts of Justice. We walked around the legal part of London where all the Inns of Court are located. There are four Inns; Gray’s, Lincoln, Middle Temple, and Inner Temple. These Inns are chosen by the Barristers and they are tied to them for life. They each had very beautiful gardens and their own chapels and dining halls. We walked through Lincoln’s park at first and they are very well kept and very pretty, Gray’s Inn Park was only open to the public for a few hours in the afternoon, we went to Lincoln Inn and the grass all around it almost looked fake. I have come to see that in a large city an area that has grass is taken care of rather well, these areas contain more trash cans than anywhere. Regents Park near the hotel and the parks in Bath were also the same way. I think because of the lack of grassy areas they tend to take more pride and care in these areas. The Inns of Court are used in history as the training facilities and lodging for Barristers, now a Barrister only goes to the Inn 12 times in the first year but never has to go back but has a lifetime connection. Some of the buildings were historic and some were rebuilt in the 1900s after the heavy bombing after World War II. We were also able to attend the Royal Courts of Justice and got to sit in on a case. After a slight delay, we watch the appeal process in the English justice system. Three men were appeal a sentence of 3 years which was the maximum for their sentence, the Judges had reviewed the case granted the reduced sentence of 2 years. It was interesting to see the appeal process in action and see how they handle it compared to American Justice. It isn't much different except for the fact that their judges and Barristers wear wigs. The architecture in the rooms in this court was more historic and really beautiful. Overall the day was a bit chilly but was a good experience and was really interesting.

That evening Kalee, Danielle, and I went on the Jack the Ripper Tour. We rode the tube to Tower Hill and were met by the guides. We split into two groups and started the walk, we were told about victims of the Ripper, theories, and possible suspects, and we visited some of the sites of the murders which have since changed but are in the same location. Jack the Ripper is the first known sexual serial killer and is by far one of the most well known. The murders started in September of 1888 and ended in November of 1888. There were only five victims total but the way that he killed the women was extremely particular and quite grotesque. Jack the Ripper left a big question mark on history; no one actually knows who committed the murders. I really enjoyed this tour and found it quite interesting to listen to someone who is so into Jack the Ripper tell the story that happened so long ago in the streets of London.

Free Day

Wednesday was our first free day where we were given the opportunity to go around the city and explore on our own. I would like to say that it was a day full of great adventure but that would be a lie. It was a good day though, Laura, Kayla, and I, woke up and went to the lovely Starbucks establishment that has been a lifesaver here and then we set off to Camden Town to do a little bit of shopping. This was our second experience here and we seemed comfortable in doing a little wheeling and dealing with the prices. The key is to show hesitation when they tell you the price and usually the shop owner will then suddenly remember that it is 10 pounds cheaper. They will also use the ploy "for a beautiful girl, everything is half off." Acquired skills of the trade I imagine... This little market area is a good place to get souvenirs and pretty much anything you could think of. There is so many food options and it was the first time I had walked by one of this places that I was being called out to, to come and try their food. We then decided that we would go back to the hotel and work on our blogs, which really means look on Facebook and try and catch up with those we have left behind in the United States. Our plan after was to go to the London Eye for a ride and then go on the Jack the Ripper Tour. Needless to say, neither worked out. We got a bit lost on the tube, first time that has ever happened I am pleased to say. It was a bad time to be on the tube, it was after 5 and people were hustling and bustling home from work and made it a little chaotic. We were starving by around 7 so we went back to Camden Town to a Mexican Taco Stand that was pretty good and very filling. We went back to the hotel and were going to "work on our blogs," I let Kayla borrow my computer because she was even more behind on blogging and went back to the room to catch up on a bit of reading but ended up falling asleep. It was a good free day, unsuccessful but good!

A Cold Day in Paris!

I am a little behind on my blogging so hopefully by the end of my time sitting at Starbucks I will be caught up! I don't know what I would do without this lovely coffee shop chain!
2:30 in the morning is a little early to be starting off your day but in order to get to the train on time that is the time we had to get up. We were picked up by taxis because surprisingly even the tube isn't even open at 3:45. We arrived at the station a bit early but it was alright because we got to go get coffee, I knew it would be much needed for a day touring the city of Paris. Soon we were off on the high speed train, the Eurostar. On the train ride there I was able to get a few more minutes of sleep which was nice and the next thing I knew we were 10 minutes away from Paris. The train station as we arrived looked as though it was in a rather sketchy part of town, there was graffiti all over but I guess some would consider it art. We arrived and we had to get cash because they don't have the same currency as London. Next, we were off to by underground tickets to get us from the train station to our Big Red Bus tour. We made it to St. Michel tube stop where we came out of the ground into a city that was much different. The traffic was crazy! We decided that we would go to the Notre Dame Cathedral first and this building is beautiful!
We toured around the building and it was just a beautiful inside as the outside!
After a tour around the Cathedral we made our way out and were in search of a bathroom. We had been told that this is major difference in this city compared to the U.S. was the lack of public bathrooms. We were told to try a restaurant but we were turned away and then we found it... The self cleaning toilet stall on a street. Yes, it was quite interesting and also quite disgusting. I had some ladies willing to pose in front of it! Thanks Morgan and Alesha... Oh, and there is Danielle too!
After our interesting "Toilette" experience we were off to catch the Big Red Bus, which took us around the city and we went by the opera house and then stopped at the Arc de Triomphe. First we went up the Champs- Elysees, which is a famous street in Paris, we went by many stores like Louis Vuitton and I thought about how much we would have to pay to go in, because I don't think they would willingly let us poor looking college students come inside.
The Arc de Triomphe, is massive! It doesn't look like much from across the round about, after going under the street and standing under it, you feel so small. It honors the soldiers who fought in the Napoleonic Wars and French Revolution on it and it pretty impressive to look at. We then set off to find some food in the foreign place! After much searching we ended up at a burger place which was quite interesting the language barrier made the experience even more interesting because they call out your order number in French! Fortunately, I was able to get my order and then sit down and enjoy a hamburger, it looked really good but then took a bite and was extremely surprised at what I was tasting, I got the taste of burger and bun and tomato and saying a wee bit of horseradish would be a total understatement. I was not expecting horseradish on a burger but it was there! I like horseradish but my eyes were watering by the amount on the burger, after that first bite I wiped the bun off and the horseradish taste was diminished and tasted much better!
We got back on to the bus where the next stop was... The Eifel Tower! It was quite impressive, this world known monument is HUGE!!!!

After several pictures and laying on the ground to the right angle for some we were off to the Louvre. When we got there I recognized a bridge which contains thousands of locks on it, the Pont de l'Archeveche also called Lovers Bridge was an amazing site. People put a padlock on the bridge and then toss the key into the Seine River below in hopes of creating everlasting love.
We made our way around to the Lourve and we discovered that it was closed but got to look around the fountains outside and the glass pyramids in the courtyard.
It was kind of hard to enjoy anything after a certain point, it was really cold and kind of raining all day! We tried to make the best of it but it was a really bad day to visit this lovely city. After this experience I think it would be hard for me to say I would go back but I did cross over Point Zero which we were told if you cross over then some day you would come back to Paris. So Paris, until we meet again... I hope you are warmer next time!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Old Bailey and a Guest Speaker

No pictures for today's adventures... Today was a pretty mellow day, it started with a walk to Old Bailey. We were met there by a reporter who told us all about Old Bailey's history and New Gate prison that was once in this location. He told us about an outbreak of typhoid, people getting boiled, and then we got the chance to go in and see a trial. We were under the impression that we could go to any trial in the courts but were shot down upon our arrival at security, there two women who told us come up but then told us to go back. We ended up waiting about 45 minutes to go through security and then were put in a murder trial but it was just he closing arguments, so it wasn't very heated and exciting. The trial was for 10 defendants being charged with murder and the barrister told the jury that ultimately they would be decided on 40 charges.
The barristers and judge were all dressed in their gowns and wigs, which frankly are hideous, they kind of look like a perm gone wrong with two rat tails dangling from the back. Real classy... The closing arguments were rather long and can go on for hours.
We left the public gallery and headed back to the hotel so we could head the ISA building, because we had a guest speaker meeting us there. Thomas Macmanus he met us there and discussed the two systems; we discussed the similarities and differences of the United States system and the UK's system. We discussed how the USA's system developed from the UK's system but how they each have evolved into different systems. He was a good speaker and made sure that we understood everything he was explaining to us. We talked about all of the courts and it put all of our visits into perspective and answered any questions that we might have had from previous visits. Today was a good day but we have to go to bed quite early tonight because tomorrow we are Paris bound and we are leaving the hotel at 3:45! It will be worth it to experience a new city!!