Monday, June 20, 2016

Day 10: Saying “See You Later” to the UK!

By Jessica Teske, Senior Secondary Mathematics Education Major, and 
Ashley Larson, Senior Social Work Major

Today we began our last full day of the trip by getting on a bus in Wales headed for London. When we got onto the bus, we started by singing “Happy Birthday” to Ashley, who turned 21 today. After that, many people went to sleep while others listened to music or watched movies.

Once we arrived in London, many people went off to do some last minute souvenir shopping. As we get ready to go our separate ways tomorrow, we plan to gather together as a group one last time tonight. The last two weeks have passed very quickly. We have had a lot of great experiences in a short amount of time. For many of us, one of the highlights of our time in London was the London Dungeons Tour. This activity was a great way to kick off our time in the UK. The tour offered a fun mix of theatrics, history, and even two thrill rides. Everyone who did the tour only had great things to say about it!

After we departed from London, we made our way to Wales. For most of our group, Wales ended up being the favorite location. The slow pace and rural farmland was a nice reminder of Iowa. It was especially comforting for those who may have been missing home. Our time in Wales proved to be especially eventful. In the first two days we were there, part of the group climbed Mt. Snowden and our entire group went canyoning. Between mailing postcards from the top of a mountain, and zip lining into cold water at the bottom of the canyon, our time in Wales was full of new experiences.

After our two exciting days in Wales, we got on a ferry and headed towards Ireland. One of the main highlights of Ireland was the Cliffs of Moher. Some took in the beautiful view from a distance, while others were more daring and ventured to the edge of the cliffs. No matter where we stood, however, the view was breathtaking!

After a few more active days in Ireland, we got on a bus to head back to Wales. We spent two days in Swansea. While there, we had the opportunity to visit Swansea University, a partner university of UNI. While at the college, we met with some staff and students who are currently heading up the campus’s sustainability programs. We got to hear all about how Swansea University is working to make their campus more green! After enjoying some tea and Welsh cakes, we headed down to the beach to do some clean up. We picked up trash and snapped a quick picture just before the rain picked up!

Now that we’re back in London, it is with mixed feelings that we get ready to say "see you later" to the UK and to each other. Some of us fly home tomorrow, some are staying in London, and others are heading to other countries in Europe. We’ve had a great two weeks learning about sustainability in other countries, making new friends, and experiencing new things. This trip has been one that none of us are going to forget!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 9: Sustainability at Swansea University

By Nicole Lightfoot, Senior, Long Term Care Administration, and 
Emily Dehner, Senior, Psychology

While visiting Swansea University, the staff educated our class on the useful sustainable resources they use on their campus. What we found to be most interesting is that the University offers a program for students who attend Swansea, allowing them to give back to the community and achieve a goal at the same time. The students can achieve a silver, bronze, gold and excellence award that is put on their transcript along with their resume. In order to achieve this award, the students must meet up to pick up trash around the campus and the bay, conserve energy around campus, and participate in many other sustainability efforts.

UNI students were able to participate in this activity with a few students from the sustainable program by helping with trash pick-up. We walked along the bay for a good 30 minutes, cleaning up the bay to prevent harm to our environment and wild life that lives within the sea.

Today was eye opening to our class as most of us did not know how important it is to recycle. We have been told by our teachers, parents, friends, etc. that recycling is good for our community and environment, but most of us never knew why it is important. We believe we need to take recycling seriously and make a change on our campus at UNI.

It is our responsibility to educate the rest of our students on campus and teach them what we were taught while visiting Swansea University. Sustainability, especially recycling, can only improve UNI by cutting costs, giving back to our community, and ensuring our environment is being taken care of for all of our future panthers.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Day 8: Our Bottoms Hurt... Butt Why?!

By: Kelsey Ufford, a Middle School Science Teacher who graduated in May, and 
Rachel Heveron, an upcoming senior at UNI studying Leisure Youth and Human Services

Well, it wasn’t exactly sunny and 75 degrees, but it was still a great day to take a ferry to the Aran Islands. Our day began at 9 a.m. when we departed from Doolin.

We arrived at Inishmore Island, which is the biggest island of the three. On our way, we met Sandy the dolphin as she toodlin’ around the boat.

Rachel, Nick, Josie, Brittney, and Sam riding on the ferry:

Once on the islands, we went to the Bay View Restaurant for lunch and then made our way to the Aran Islands Bike Hire. From there, we were able to take two major paths with six key points of interest. They include Dun Anoghasa, which is a spectacular stone fort where you can get the best view of the entire island. We then made our way to the Aran Seal Colony and at low tide we could clearly see seals. Some of us even got to see some on high tide! Along the way, we were able to see some of the seven old stone churches that still remain.

When we were done riding the bike there were two little shops that we were able to explore. The Aran Sweater Market was by far the most popular among the group. There you could purchase wool clothing, mittens, blankets, hats, and just about anything you could imagine. Most students bought socks for family members and personal use.

Our ferry left the island at 4 p.m. sharp. We had to make sure that we were on time because that was the last ferry ride of the day. On the way back, the ferry ride was much colder with bigger waves. Many students began feeling woozie. Luckily, we made back to Doolin with no accidents.

From there, we started our four hour bus ride to Wexford. About two hours into our journey we stopped for supper. Students were able to get a taste of home with Papa Johns Pizza. The only difference is that they were served with French fries. Two hours later we arrived at the hotel. There we were able to get much needed sleep and WIFI. This was a very nice hotel with amazing showers and big comfy beds.

What’s more sustainable then riding a bike around the island all day? Once off the ferry, the majority of the options of transportation was either bike or horse and buggy. There were bus tours available, but it was not the most popular mode of transportation. While riding around the islands, we saw water troughs for cows that got filled up by the rain water. We saw major recycling bins that had you separate out the color of glass and tin.

The toilet paper came out one sheet at a time so one only uses as much as needed. Their toilets, like most of the UK, had little water in them to prevent water waste. Overall, this is a very sustainable island.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Day 7: Don’t Stand Too Close to the Edge!!!

Hey everyone, welcome to our blog about our time in Ireland! This blog is written by Olivia Ballhagen and Brittney Evans. Olivia is entering her senior year as a Communication Studies major. Brittney is a senior studying Biology Pre-Veterinary Medicine.

Today, we began our day in Galway, Ireland. We had a nice hostel breakfast of toast and cornflakes. After breakfast, some of our classmates went to the Pedestrian Mall in town to do some last minute shopping for friends, families, and themselves!

Our class then got together in late morning to have a discussion about the trip thus far. We compared the different cities we’ve been too such as London and Dublin. Then we also compared the mega cities to the smaller towns we’d been through. Most of the class agreed that we felt more comfortable and at home in the smaller towns such as Bala, Wales than in the bigger, metropolitan areas. We compared the cultural differences that we came across. For example, in restaurants you have to be very assertive and forget about your “Iowa nice” to get service. We also talked about how using public transportation is part of their daily lives and something we’re not all used to. We noticed that there are familiar brands and stores here, but they have different names. "T.J. Maxx," for example, is "T.K. Maxx" over here, and "Lays" chips are "Walkers" here.

We discussed what the different countries do to be more sustainable. In Ireland, we noticed that they have a lot of toilet paper dispensers that only dispense one sheet at a time. We also noticed that Ireland separates all of their trash into compost, recyclables, and waste. All over Europe, we noticed that a lot of the hostels and hotels we’ve stayed in have push button showers. Every 15 seconds or so, you would have to hit the button again to keep the water going. We thought it was a really good way to limit water use in the shower. For instance, when putting in shampoo or conditioner you don’t have the water running so it conserves the water use.

On the road again…

We headed off to the Cliffs of Moher in Doolin, Ireland.

It was very chilly and VERY windy today. Nevertheless, the Cliffs were magnificent and breathtaking. We just had to make sure we stayed a ways away from the edge so as not to get blown of the cliff! Standing on the highest points of the Cliffs you could see the long stretch of cliffs and water to the left and then the beautiful village on the right. Even though it was cold and grey, there were little bits of sunshine and small purple flowers and “Locks of Love.” But watch out for the fence! Nick got too close to the electric fence when he was trying to snap a picture and got shocked today!! Don’t worry, he’s OK :) 

To celebrate Eric's birthday tonight, we are going to Gus O’Connor’s for some LIVE traditional Irish Music. It’s the only pub in town so we’re looking forward to meeting locals and more friends on the road. We ate there for dinner and it was absolutely delicious. Our whole class signed a dollar bill and taped it to the wall to follow tradition and leave our mark here in Doolin. Maybe one day some of us will make it back to see our dollar.

UPDATE: The pub was absolutely fantastic. Brittney and Samantha Topp met a sweet, old man named Ted who sang to the Irish music. He also talked to them about his recycling habits and told stories of his youth, family, and music. The locals were all very nice and welcoming and the class had a great time singing and laughing together!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Day 6: The Perfect Pint

By Josie Brackey, Senior Real Estate major, 
and Tiffiany Winkowitsch, Senior Marketing major

We finished our last day in Dublin today and ventured off in the morning to tour the Guinness Brewery. Upon arrival at the brewery, the group got a brief introduction to the history of the factory. The lease is on the ground level, displayed within the floor and was signed in 1759. It is a 9000-year lease with unlimited access to the river water within the city. The tour explained the process that goes into creating Guinness beer and had many videos of people explaining it in detail and interesting facts of about the company.

After the brewing process was explained, students had the option to become certified as an official Guinness pint pourer from the Guinness Academy. There is a special way of how a Guinness should be poured because of the way that the beer is made. Carbon dioxide gas goes down and the nitrogen goes up, which is how the thick foamy head gets created. A perfect pint has approximately one inch of foam on the top of the beer and is topped off to the brim.

The tour concluded at the Gravity Bar, overlooking the whole city of Dublin, which was a lot of the students’ favorite part. Each student received a free Guinness beer at the Gravity Bar, which ended in Eric getting about five since Guinness isn’t a drink of choice for most in our group. Another favorite was the gift shop on the ground floor. A lot of students ended up walking out with at least one souvenir.

Before heading to Galway, we stopped at Phoenix Park and got to see this ginormous cross that the Pope has been to. The students might have been more interested in the ice cream truck instead of the cross. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize Eric was going to get free ice cream since his last name is O’Brien and so was the name of the ice cream truck. Everyone around him also got free ice cream, but Paula was the only fortunate one in the group. After arriving in Galway and getting settled into our hostel, students enjoyed browsing around the Galway ped mall. This mall consists of multiple shops, restaurants, and pubs. The ped mall was a popular place to be tonight since the Ireland soccer team was playing Sweden. Students enjoyed the opportunity to grab some food, shop and soak up the culture as the teams were competing.

Day 5: Bumming in Dublin

By Morgan Schrodt, Senior Interactive Digital Studies major,
and Nick Bauman, Senior Graphic Technologies major

We got into Dublin at midnight on the 11th, so it was a pretty chill day for a lot of people. In the morning, we all went to Trinity College as a group to see the book of Kells in an exhibition called ‘Turning Darkness into Light.’

This was inside the Trinity College Library. We took a tour through multiple levels, learning about the four gospels. It was amazing to see how something so old still existed, even after a raid from the Vikings. The Book of Kells came to live in Dublin in 1653. We were not allowed to take pictures of the actually Book of Kells on the first floor, but on the second floor was the library and we could take pictures there. They also had displays of more artifacts we could look at.

After this tour, everyone broke off into groups to explore the city. Some groups went to Temple Bar, which is a district with shops and pubs all around. There, some students visited the different pubs, while others picked up some souvenirs.

Yet another group went to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, which was a self-guided tour.

After wandering around all day, students came back to the Dublin City University dorms to do laundry and have some supper. It was a relaxing day after climbing Mount Snowdon and canyoning.

Canyoning 2016: Tight Suits, Cold Water, Sore Bodies

Canyoning in Wales
By McKenna Reicks and Stephanie Johnson

Hey all! Welcome to our day 4 blog!

   Our names are McKenna and Stephanie. McKenna is entering her senior year majoring in Early Education and Elementary Education. Stephanie is entering her junior year majoring in exercise science.

  Today, we started off our day with a delicious breakfast provided by Coleg-y-Bala, the Presbyterian youth facility we stayed at last night. After breakfast, we struggled through the challenge of putting our wetsuits on. We found it was easiest to put one leg in first and then work up from there. The suits were all very form fitting, and NOT flattering for anyone! ;)

   The guys from Rhos y Gwaliau outdoor education center came to pick us up with two big vans, we all piled in and were on our way. After about a 30 minute drive and a 15-minute walk, we were ready to jump into the COLD water! The first thing we were told to do was belly flop into the water. Of course, we were all excited about this, that is until we felt how cold the water was! It was literally breathtaking!!

 We then attempted to walk across the slippery rocks but it turned more into slipping across the rocks. Once was everyone was a crossed we learned about the amount of trust this adventure would take. So we practiced with some trust falls! Our leader held our belts counted to 3 and let us fall backward into a pool of water. It was scary at first but soon we learned that concurring our fears would end up to be very rewarding.

  Our next stop got our adrenaline pumping when we looked over the cliff to see our zip line and the cliff we were about to jump off. One by one we fastened our carabiners to the line and jumped. We even got Brittney to strap the UNI flag onto her backpack and fly!

The zip line was our halfway point this is where we had the option to get out of the water or keep going, we all kept going. :-) We were then faced with more hiking up and over and across slippery rocks. The last of our journey was close but only tested our fears more. First, we slide down a waterfall into a pool of water that they refer to as The Pot. The Pot of water was about 18 meters which is close to 60 feet deep! Yikes! After we all slide down the waterfall we had the option to jump off another cliff into The Pot. There we two different heights we could jump from.

  Our last challenge was getting back to dry flat land. The UNI rock wall didn't prepare us enough to for the rock climbing we were about to do! Luckily we all are pros now after climbing a mountain and we made it across just fine. :-)

 After talking with everyone in the group we agreed that facing our fears of height and water was well worth it! This was an amazing experience that we wouldn't have had back in the United States. It was an awesome opportunity to go canyoning in Wales! Our leaders were fun, the water was cold, the cliffs were high, and our group was the best! :-)