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

Friday, May 30, 2014

Day 15 - London, part 2

Today was a sad day because session 2 had to leave session 1 behind in Glasgow. We had said our goodbyes last night and wished them all a safe trip home. They arrived safely in the states while session 2 took the long journey all the way to London where they will spend the next four days. The bus ride was a great chance for most of the group to catch up on some much needed sleep to be energized for the big city that was ahead of us. After a few stops for petrol and food, we had arrived in London!

We were welcomed to a very nice bed and breakfast and after dropping off our luggage and then began touring the big city. We were quickly introduced to the tube and had a pretty successful first experience with it. We made our way to Piccadilly Circus to see a hot spot in the city. That is where all the movie premieres, musicals, and various other attractions take place. From there, we walked around and found Big Ben, the Parliament building, Westminster Abbey, the National Gallery, and many other places.

The next main attraction we went to was the London Eye. It is the tallest ferris wheel in the world, and we took in beautiful views of London! The skies were clear, and we could see forever when we were at the top of it. 

We all enjoyed seeing the beautiful city of London at night! As we made our way back, we walked through Chinatown and rested up for our next days in the wonderful city.

Alex Reams
Senior, Technology and Engineering Education

Ryan Herring
Sophomore, Electronic Media

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day 14 - Glasgow

I started the morning off at the Holiday Inn express with hot breakfast. I was really looking forward to going to Glasgow city center, even though I had no idea what there was to do. All I knew was that I was on a mission to find a Scottish kilt while in the country. After a short ride, we were in the city center, and it was awesome! Like many of the cities we have visited, there was intricate and stunning architecture along with many monuments. When we got off the bus, Eric pointed out Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis, which we went to as a group. The Cathedral had the traditional gothic look with limestone block and a copper roof turned teal from years of exposure to the elements. Once inside, I couldn’t believe the beauty and detail. With countless arches and stain glass windows, it was the largest church I had ever been in. I wish I could attend mass in it every Sunday so I could enjoy its beauty every week. After viewing the church, a group of us went to the necropolis--I couldn’t believe the number tombs and headstones! It felt strange to tour peoples’ resting places, but it was still cool.

We all walked back to the city center then and were broken into smaller groups to eat lunch and tour the city. I went to an Italian restaurant named Prezzo with six others. The food was divine, and I left happy with a full stomach. 

After lunch, the seven of us then started to explore the shopping area. I found a kilt tailor! I walked in unsure if I would be buying one, but after trying one on, I had to buy it! I ended up getting a red one for myself and a green one for my brother. I was pretty happy with my purchase after I left the store. We then looked in a few more shops before heading back to the hotel.

Once back, most of us took a nap before we all met for dinner. Tonight’s dinner was bittersweet since it was the last one that sessions one and two would be having together. We ended up eating at a local restaurant called the Grill in the Park. The food there was amazing with many options to choose from. I don’t think a single person left unsatisfied. Later, session one began packing to go home while session two relaxed back at the hotel. While sitting in the lobby writing this blog, it finally hit me that eighteen people that I have spent the last ten days with would be leaving. It was kind of sad to think about, but as people started coming down to the lobby to say their goodbyes, I knew that we would all be seeing each other again in Cedar Falls.

Senior, Construction Management

Day 13 - Hello me troops, how’s the craic?

“Hello me troops, how’s the craic?”

This is the first thing the group heard every morning when boarding the Paddywagon. Long story short, the craic is an Irish expression for fun. From the beginning, the group has experienced highs and lows with the Paddywagon, but always made the most out of the situation. After waking up in Dublin at Paddy’s Palace hostel, we went to load the Paddywagon for the first time. When we first laid our eyes on the bus, we realized that the bus was going to be a tight fit. After filling the luggage compartments by playing a careful game of Tetris, we then had to start filling the cab of the bus with additional bags. By the next morning, Freddie made the switch for a bigger, more comfortable bus.

Arriving upon our hostel in Belfast, we found out some of the bookkeeping was mixed up and we had no reservations at the place we thought we would be staying. With a quick couple of phone calls, we had a new bus lined up for us and a new place to stay for the night. Waking up in Belfast from our second Paddy’s Palace experience, we hopped onto the greatest bus we have had yet. We were once again greeted with a friendly hello from Freddie, even though he had to drive back to Dublin the night before to get us the bus. He was also happy about the bus switch because this bus was an automatic because he had landed wrong when getting off the bus and hurt his foot, so the automatic gave him some relief. With a smooth start to the day on the new bus, we ran into another small mix up. We found out that we would not be able to go through the Titanic museum due to an overbooking of the museum. However, with the quick thinking of Freddie and a few phone calls, we visited the Titanic’s dry dock and pump house. This is where the Titanic actually sat and was the last port that the Titanic was in before its maiden voyage. This dock housed the Titanic, which was 900 feet long and 46,000 tons! During the tour, we learned a lot about how the pump house and dry dock played a big part in building the Titanic. At the end of the tour, some of the group members went down inside of the dry dock where it took 9 students’ arms spans to reach just half way across it!

Through the highs and lows on the Paddywagon, we became friends with our driver, Freddie. He kept the long hours on the bus entertaining as well as educational. His stories and knowledge of the culture, politics, and history of Ireland gave us something more than we expected to get out of the trip! This was different from sitting in a history class or reading it out of a book because we could see, feel, and experience the things that Freddie spoke about! Ending our time in Ireland, we had to say goodbye to Freddie and take with us the memories and stories he shared with us onto our next destination. As we ride the ferry now, we are looking back at the craic we had in Ireland and looking to find more in Scotland where we will be for the next two nights!

Senior, Business Administration

Senior, Business Administration