Friday, May 29, 2015

What a Great Lifetime Experience!

Before leaving for London we were often told to try and fit in with the locals while being in London. At first I didn’t really understand why it mattered so much that we needed to fit in. Of course, after being there it remains really clear as to why we needed to try and fit in as much as possible. There were so many people in London that everywhere you went there was always a huge crowd. The underground was usually busy especially first thing in the morning, lunchtime, and early evening. Since there are so many people it is a lot easier for pickpocketing to happen. We usually traveled in a group but sometimes we had to split up in order to all get on the underground to travel to a different part of the city. Being in a group decreased our possibility of being pickpocketed. Thankfully, no one was pickpocketed during our stay because we were all aware of the possibility and kept our belongings close to us.

Here in America pickpocketing is not very common. In fact, we often think of if we were to drop a twenty or a dollar that someone would pick it up and say “Miss you dropped some money.” In London, this would not happen because all the people had places to go and things to do and were always in a hurry. This is a huge difference in culture because we are not used to that. We learned quickly to figure out our route on the underground so we could fit in and not be targeted as tourists. This was important because if you fit in then you wouldn’t be targeted as much and shared the mentality of having places to go and things to do. The underground was a means of transportation not a means of conversation. For the most part the underground was quiet and often our group was the only one that would speak. This relates to the common saying that Americans are loud. I noticed that we really are loud compared to people in London.

The means of transportation and people’s mentality in London really helped me to become a more globalized citizen. I’m so glad I was able to experience the differences in culture while in London. Being able to see these differences while abroad made me realize that when you live somewhere you get so used to the customs and practices of everyday life and that it may be hard to understand a different countries way of life. Then, when you go to a different country you think that their way of living is wrong. It is not wrong it’s just different and sometimes different is hard to get accustomed to. Experiencing different cultures allows you to become globally aware of your surroundings and that is what I got to do while studying abroad in London.

I had a great time on the trip, but it sure is good to be home and drive my own vehicle on the “right side of the road.” I want to thank everybody that made this trip possible and all the people that organized the trip. It truly couldn’t have been as amazing without all of you!

Being Back Home

It is so easy to visit places and just enjoy the scenery while you are vacationing. This study abroad trip has really opened up my mind and enabled me to become more of a global citizen. While in London, I was able to look outside of the box and really take in the differences of the way we live here in America versus in England.

The biggest difference to me was the price of living and eating while abroad. The eating prices in London were more expensive than what we would pay in America. The food was always amazing, but almost every day it was hard to order what you really wanted to get because of the expensive price. Here in America people are constantly stating how expensive everything is and always complain about not having enough money. While being abroad I realized just how great we have it here at home. Our food is really not that expensive and the cost of living is really affordable especially with how much we make. In London, lots of really nice houses that had more space and bigger yards than most were a couple hundred thousand pounds. Just that price tag alone makes me cringe. Plus, living on a salary of a police officer there would make your cost of living higher than what you actually would be making. I think here in America we are able to afford pretty much what we need and mostly what we want without having to worry too much. This really made me realize that in different countries everything really is different and sometimes it takes you experiencing their culture to really realize that.

To me, I feel that I am a more global citizen because of this study abroad experience because I was able to notice all the differences of the cultures in England compared to the United States. I really enjoyed my two weeks in London, but it sure is great to be back home. It is also great go out to supper with my husband and only spend $16 for supper instead of about 35 pounds. Being able to understand and see the differences in the cost of food and living enables me to be a more global citizen.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Oxford University, Stratford and Warwick Castle

Today we took another trip out of London on the Coach. We started our journey out in Oxford. Here, we got to see the place where students who are accepted from Oxford go to be interviewed to find out which College is right for them. Oxford University is composed of 38 different colleges. We got to tour one of the colleges named Brasenose. We got to see the dining hall and chapel which is included in every college of Oxford University. The architecture in Oxford was amazing! I got to take lots of pictures of all the great architecture. I also got a sweatshirt that says Oxford University and already tonight I have gotten lots of looks as if I am intelligent because I go to Oxford.

After this we went to Stratford. This is where Shakespeare was born and where he died. We also got to eat at a awesome little place that had the most amazing cheesecake I have ever eaten! I got caramel cheesecake because I love caramel. Most cheesecake is too rich that you can't eat the whole thing. However, this cheesecake was the right amount of sweetness so you could eat the whole thing and not have a belly ache! Yahoo!

Our last stop was Warwick Castle. Here, we got to tour the castle and it even had Kind Henry VIII and his six wives made out of wax. They were so realistic it was a little creepy! We also got to climb up the towers of the castle and peer out at the countryside. The view way up high was absolutely amazing! My favorite part though, was the live bird show outside. We got to see a bald eagle named Sydney, a juvenile bald eagle Molly, a white vulture named frank, an owl named Andy and an Andean Condore in flight. These birds literally flew inches above our heads! The owl was only six months old and wasn't very well trained yet but he was sure pretty. The Condore is the largest bird ever and can reach a wing span over 10 feet. I was absolutely amazed!

Tomorrow we have our last free day before we leave fore the States on Sunday! I'm sad to leave, but anxious to be home!

Last Metropolitan Police Visit

Thursday morning we were accompanied by Constable Watson and Constable Kole. These two gentleman were so full of knowledge and made the day really enjoyable. They took us to Downing Street and we got to walk inside. This street is a gated area and is protected because it is where The Lord of Treasure lives. This tiltle is also known as the prime minister but the more prestige name is preferred. We all got to take pictures in front of 10 Downing Street. The door was never shit for too long as many people come and go. So, it was a bit tricky to catch the door closed in time for a picture to get taken!

After this, we got to go to to Buckingham Palace to watch the Changing of the Gaurds. However, we did one better! We got the chance in a lifetime to go inside the front gates at Buckingham palace and stand against the palace while watching the Changkng of the Guards. We were literally in arms reach of the Guards at times. Again, we got to hear the bands of two different regimens play: the old regimen being relieved and the new regimen going on guard. My favorite part was watching "all the poor people", as Constable Watson would say, press their heads against the gates and stare at us. They were all taking pictures of us as if we were famous. So in a way I suppose we got to be famous for a day because we got to stand where Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman stood previously. Then, when we left and exited a whole bunch more people took a ton of pictures of us so I'm sure we can be found on Google!

Then, we went back to New Scotland Yard and were joined by students from UNO to listen to a couple presentations by several Constables from the Metropolitan Police. We learned a lot more about the policing tactics used in the London Olympics in 2012. We also learned just what Constable Watson thought policemen in the states do on a daily basis: eat donuts, lots and lots of donuts. He had quite the presentation it made us all laugh. Although, one student from UNO was a police officer so I don't think he appreciated it as much as we did. (:

Free Day!

Wednesday we had a free day! We chose to spend this day going to the Tower of London. Here we got to see lots of history. The first thing we learned about was the making of coins back in the day. They shop had a computer program that was set up in a game type fashion. The program walked us through the process of making coins in the mint. It is quite the process. From weighing the old coins so you know how much the new ones need to weigh from melting the metal and chipping away the pestol from the final result. They even had a bag full to show how heavy they were back then just for a little bag of them.

The next thing we saw was the animal tower where there used to be a bunch of animals around the tower. There were lions, monkeys, alligators, Ravens and even a Polar bear. The only animals still there today are the Ravens which they keep there and we got to see them. The raven we saw actually got a piece of food out of the plastic from the trash can and ate it. It was truly a sight to see.

The most exciting part about the Tower of London was seeing the real Crowned Jewels. All of the jewels were so beautiful! The one diamond was over 3,100 Karats and was originally from South Africa. It was so sparkly and humongous! I can't even imagine how much it weighs! There were also rings and Queen Elizabeth's crowning video was playing. I can't imagine how much all the items in the vault cost.

The last part of the Tower we visited was White Tower. This tower had a ton of stairs and was quite the workout to get in and out of! In this area were the means of armour,  weapons and torture. We got to see the armour that evolved throughout history which was really neat. We also got to see lots of neat guns and muskets. My favorite part was seeing the executioner's mask and the executioner's sword which looked like an axe on steroids.

At night we got to go to Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. I have to say this was by far my favorite thing I did while in London! Lion King was my favorite childhood movie and seeing it in the theatre was quite special. We sat next to the aisle where many animals ran past is up to the stage. The sound and lighting design were spectacular! The whole thing was so realistic and almost exactly like the movie. It truly was an amazing experience I will remember forever!

Legal Walk and Supreme Court Visit

Tuesday morning we participated in a London Legal walk. We got to walk around the part of London that is the place where solicitors and barristers are trained and become members of an Inn of Court. Every person that wants to become a solicitor here has to go through three years of school and become a member of an Inn of Court. Here, they have to come to the Inn of Court 12 times in the fourth year. This year is kind of like what we would call an internship where you put your knowledge into your work and do some hands on practicals. There are four Inns of Courts: Grays Inn, Lincoln's Inn, Inner Temple Inn and Middle Temple Inn.

We also got to sit in some cases at the Royal Courts of Appeal. This was really interesting because I have never gotten to sit in and listen to a case at the appeals level. Here, all courts allow the public to sit in and listen, even the Supreme Court. Back in the United States the public is not allowed in the Supreme Court so I found this really interesting. The tour guide at the Supreme Court we visited was astonished that the public is not allowed at our Supreme Court back in the States. We also got to act like justices and he gave us facts on a couple cases and we voiced our opinions. This activity was really quite fun.

After our school activities were done we went to the Wellcome Collection and looked at the Forensic Exhibit they had. This exhibit was really neat and I found out just how much of the things there I have learned while taking Criminal Justices Classes at Chadron State College. The exhibit was split into five rooms. The first room set the scene by explaining what evidence is and how to collect maintain it. The second room was about the morgue and how they do autopsies. There was even a recording of an autopsy you could listen to and was quite graphic. The third room held a bunch of documents explaining the role of history in forensics. Amongst these documents was a letter from Edmond Locard to August Vollmer. It was even signed and had a golden seal! I was so excited about this! The fourth room talked about the use of reconstruction of skulls to help solve crimes. There was even a refrigerator simulator that was really neat and extremely cold! The final room had stories about wrongful convictions. Of course the Criminal Justice System is not perfect and does make mistakes. One guy served 18 years in prison before being exonerated from a wrongful conviction by the Innocence Project. This exhibit was one of my favorite activities I have done while being in London!

Trooping of the Colour

Monday morning we were lucky enough to join Constable Watson for a practice of Trooping of the Colour. This is where the five regimens of the military March down in preparation for the Queens birthday celebration that will be taking place in a month.. The Queens real birthday is in April, but they wait to celebrate it in June. This was really interesting to see because each regimen has their own band that plays and they all march to it. The regimens have had different practice schedules so we only got to see 3 of the 5 regimens practice.

The weather was quite cold and rainy. We all got to use our umbrellas which made us feel like true "Brits" because everyone carries them around and uses them quite often. Each of the regimens have different colored feathers in their black bear fur hat. They also have a different number of buttons on their uniforms which makes it so you can tell each regimen apart. This activity took about an hour and a half and was really cool. My favorite thing about it was watching them March. Every time they stop they end with a high step and they really plant their foot. It made me laugh every time!

After the Trooping of the Colour we finally were able to get a nap in and it was wonderful. After our time of much needed rest we went and got dinner. We chose to eat at a chinese restaurant that was next to our hotel. In case anyone is wondering after I wake up for a nap I'm not too ambitious. The Chinese restaurant was close which want it wasn't far to walk. Plus, it was huge portions for a very reasonable price. This was a great place to eat! They even had a carrot that they carved a rose into on my plate of chow mein. It was awesome!