Thursday, May 28, 2009

5/28 City of Bath

Today we traveled to teh city of Bath. This was a very cool city, I wish we could have spent more time here. We got to see the Abbey that the first king of England was crowned in. It was over 1100 year old I think. The coolest part of the short trip was the tour of the Roman Baths. This was just a very cool place. There is a hot spring that supplies water to the baths, the water is usually around 80-85*. At the end of the tour you can get a glass of the water that supplies the baths. It wasn't really good but at least i tried it. Outside of the baths, there was a street performer playing and instrument called the Hang. The Hang look like a metal ball with dent in various places. Each dent makes a unique sound when it is hit. The music was very soothings and relaxing, so i bought a cd. After the tour we had to get back on the bus and head back to Bristol to go to class. Somewhere between the baths, the cornish pasty shop, and the bus we managed to loose 6 members of the group. They eventually showed up though.

Class was actually interesting today. We were looking into the reasons why various pieces of art were so expensive. We held a mock auction for a pablio Piccasso piece. I did not bid, I'm not really into abstract art. It was prob the best class session we have had so far. It may of been because the professor wasn't speaking in a monotone voice and was able to engage the class.


We decided to go to the local comedy club called Jesters for their evening show. It was a lot of fun. There were 3 different comedians and a host. The host, first and second comedians were local and difficult to understand at times. But from what we were able to here they were funny. The 2nd comedian was a hilarious Canadian. To see him was worth the entrance fee alone. We talked to him during the intermission and after the show. He was a funny guy. His girlfriend though I had good teeth, and then he offered her to me for a special fee. I respectfully declined though so he offered her to the others. I got his cd and he autographed it, and he wrote on it that i looked rich. Overall it was a great night. Can't wait for tomorrow, I will be going to Dublin for the weekend.

P.S. Spell check isn't working so I am assuming my spelling wil be worse than normal oh well deal with it.



Drinking The Water From The Spring

Filling Up My Glass With The Spring Water

City Of Bath

The Roman Baths

Main Swimming Pool at the Baths

video

Video of Street Performer Playing the Hang

5/27

Well today wasn't to exciting. The bus was 20min late but to make matters worse it was raining. We had another full day of classes. The morning session was on the financial crisis and the afternoon was about military spending around the globe. The second topic was interesting but was delivered in a monotone voice that put half the class to sleep. We were also given our first assignment today. We were broken up into groups, and told to come up with a product or service that is not currently in Europe and develop a business plan to launch it. We will pitch the plan next week at some point to a to a potential investor who has £100 million to finance it (fictional investor). The bus that was supposed to take us home from school was really late so we decided to get on another bus. It was probably the wrong bus to get on because it took an hour to get to the city center, and then from there we took another bus to the area that i live in. It usually takes 25 min to go from the university to the area that i live. When we got home it was time for dinner. We had some sort of soup with dumplings which was pretty good. A lot better than the currie from the night before. After dinner, me and David went over to Douglas's host family to watch the rest of the Manchester United game with him. We only caught the last 15min of the game because dinner ran late. Barcelona won the match, oh well. Me and Dave were both tired and decided to call it an early night and headed for bed.

The Great Hall at Parliament, Oldest Part of the Building
Being Silly

Outside UWE
Tower Bridge

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

5/26 & pics from London

Hello everyone,

Today I did not really do a whole lot. I had a full day of classes that covered topics on international business, geography, ethics, and corporate social responsibility. Overall it was more interesting than the previous sessions i have had so far. Although i did end up doing several sudoku puzzles during class. They make class go by a lot faster.

For dinner my host mom made Indian Currie, Taiwanese Currie, and rest. I ate some of it and spread the rest around my plate to make it appear that i ate more. Currie is definitely something I will not be eating again, but at least i tried it. After dinner i was still quite hungry, but i got lucky because the girls next store had pizza hut for dinner and gave me the left overs. Today was Stephanie's birthday and we had originally planned to go see a movie as a small group. That fell through and the back up plan was for her to celebrate her bday through me and Elizabeth. She wanted us to drink for her (she doesn't drink) because we are funny when we drink. So that is what we did. It turned into a pub crawl up Gloucester Road. It was a fun night that ended with me doing a back flip and trying to do a headstand but that didn't really work.

Piccadilly Circus
I'm A Knight
Buckingham Palace

Westminster Abbey

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

5/24 & 5/25 Rest of London

5/24

It was another beautiful day in London. Today was very busy and a lot of walking. Mom and dad I hope you are taking walks right now to prepare your legs for the walking you will be doing when you get here. Well today started at Westminster Abbey. It is a huge cathedral where the coronation ceremony for kings and queens are held. We didn't go inside just walked around and took pictures of the outside of the building. From there we walked through St. James Park on our way to see the House of the Guards and Buckingham Palace. We were in time to see part of the changing of the guards but could not get close enough to see the whole thing due to the crowds around the palace. From there we headed to the London Eye, but we didn't feel like spending over an hour in line for it. Instead we just walked around and watched the street performers do some pretty amazing things.

After some lunch, we walked through Green Park on our way back to Buckingham Palace so we could actually get some close up pictures of the palace and its guards. While at the palace some strange contraption rolled/was pushed by. It looked like a wooden platform with a big wheel in the middle. We were not sure what it was for. We decided to go check out some of Hyde Park and the thing it housed. This park is gigantic. We went and looked at both the Kensington Palace and the Princess Diana memorial children's park. We then headed to this little 7 story department store called Harrods. I got quickly bored and was tired of walking and didn't feel like buying any of their over priced merchandise so i left.

Drew (another kid on the trip) wanted to find out where the famous Abbey Road intersection that the Beatles had as one of their album covers was. So with a tip from our waiter about the general location we headed out. Finding it was a little adventure. Everyone we asked along the way for directions said that we were going in the right direction but told us differently how to get there each time (this held true for all 7 or 8 people we asked). We finally found it and took a replica picture of the one that the Beatles used as their album cover. After we found it we realized that we were going to be late in meeting David back at the train station (we told him we would be there around 630 and didn't start the return journey till 630). We were also trying to make it back on time for the Jack the Ripper walking tour that started at 730. Well we got back at 735 and David was no where to be found. We assumed he had gone on the tour. We lucked out and found one of the Jack the Ripper tours that was just leaving the area. We tagged along and didn't have to pay. Who said being late didn't have any benefits. The tour lasted for bout an hour and a half and was very interesting. We also got a side show when a drunk tried to pick a fight with our tour guide and tried to lead the tour, it was pretty amusing.

After the tour we were all very tired and hungry. We found a local place to eat called the Best British Grub. It was delicious but my stomach did not agree with the meal and I was sick for the rest of the night. Maybe I should of payed for the Jack the Ripper tour.

5/25

I felt much better after some sleep. I didn't not get that much due to several of my fellow classmates being a bit under the influence and being loud in the room. We decided to start our our last day in London by visiting Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum. The line to get a ticket was over an hour and a half long and we didn't think it was worth the wait. I will probably try and take my family there when I am back in London with them. From there we headed out to see the Bank of England, the Royal Exchange, and the Stock Exchange buildings. We also checked out the Covent Gardens and watched the street performers there.

After some lunch, we headed to the British Museum where we enjoyed several exhibits from Medieval Europe to the Egyptians to present day. It was getting time to go pick up our bags and head to Victoria Station to catch a coach back to Bristol. On the way their, Stephanie had bought a liter and a half of Orange juice. She had forgotten that the juice was carbonated and when she opened it, it sprayed the other Stephanie pretty good. It was very amusing to say the least. We got on the bus without any problems but Drew ran into some issues. I don't have time at the moment to go in to them though. I really don't have time to upload pictures today hopefully I can get some up tomorrow.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

5/23 London Continued (Happy Bday Aunt Robyn)

Today started in Leicester Square looking for cheap tickets to a show. The tickets were a bit more expensive than we were willing to pay, and on top of that it was a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky. So we got back on the tube and headed for St. Paul's Cathedral instead. We went inside and mad friends with one of the monks who was quite friendly. The dome at the top of the cathedral was closed so we did not take the tour.

After St. Paul's, we did quite a bit of walking. We walked to the Millennium Bridge and then to the Tower Bridge. There really wasn't anything special about Millennium Bridge, but the Tower Bridge was pretty cool. My favorite part of the day was when we went in the Tower of London. It was a huge fortress. It is the home to the royal crown jewels and it is where people were sent to be tortured (they claim they do not send anyone there these days, I'm skeptical though). I would highly recommend going to the Tower of London if you ever have a chance. It is awesome.
We were tired of walking around and needed to get some energy so we found a nice Italian restaurant and had a delicious meal.

After dinner, most of the group was wanting to go on a bar crawl but me Stephanie and Stephanie did not feeling like tagging along. Instead we choose to wander around London. We ended up in Trafalgar Square. That was fun, we decided to climb up onto the giant lions. Well sort of, I climbed up and helped the other 2 up. It was an entertaining scene to say the least. It was also neat to see the Eye of London, Big Ben, and Parliament all lite up at night. Pictures didn't really turn out but it was quite a few. While taking in the sites, I almost walked through a peddlers sunglasses stand while going across a bridge. In my defense all the sunglasses were on the ground and I was not looking at the ground and I did manage to avoid stepping on the glasses. The peddler was relieved that i was able to stop myself. It would have been a pretty expensive step if I hadn't stopped. Each pair of glasses was £4 and who knows how many I could have crushed. Well its been a long day of walking and I am heading to bed to prepare myself for another day of walking tomorrow. Night all.


Big Ben & Parliament lit up
Tower of London

Tower Bridge
















Only Drinking Fountain in London

Friday, May 22, 2009

5/22 London

Well today we didn't have any classes. A coach was hired to take us to London to see Parliament instead. It was about a 2 hour bus ride from Bristol. We passed the time by reading outloud from the book called I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. It is very amusing, but I would not recommend this book to my mom. Fitz, I bet you could pick this book up and read the entire thing in one sitting. It is that good. I would be very surprised if you didn't like it. We arrived in London about an hour and a half before our tour of Parliament was scheduled to start. I passed the time by walking around Parliament and taking some pictures. I never realized how big it was. The weather was surprisingly nice for the 2nd day in a row. Once again I have discovered how small the world really is. When I was walking around outside of Parliament, I ran into my friend Jill from ISU. She was visiting London for a few weeks and we somehow managed to end up on the same street at the same time. Weird. Anyways, Parliament is a very cool building, and I enjoyed learning about the history that has happened in it over the years. After Parliament, we went to go find the hostel that I was staying in. The train that we were in on the way to the hospital broke down for a bit, so that sucked. But they eventually got the train working again and we were able to find the hostel. There are ten of us staying in the room. Surprisingly I have more room in the hostel than I do at my room with the host family. After we got settled into the hostel, we went to an Italian restaurant that was close. The food was ok, but when you are hungry it really doesn't matter what you are eating. After dinner, we went exploring for a little bit, but we were tired and headed back to the hostel to call it a night.



















Big Ben & Parliament

































Big Ben






























The Eye of London




My Friend Jill From ISU

5/20 & My Birthday!!!!!!!!

5/20

We started off the day with a class on discrimination and different cultures. It was kind of a boring class but it was ok. We watched an interesting video called the Eye of the Storm. It was about a third grade teacher who wanted to give her class a better understanding about racism and taught the lesson by dividing the class up into 2 groups, ones who had brown eyes and ones who had blue eyes. It was very interesting how the kids turned on each other and started discriminating against each group in a matter of 15 min. Later in the day we had a group session in a building called the Octagon. The university is trying to get a program set up the combines faith, spirit, health, and well being. We were broken up into groups and came up with some ideas on how to help them get the program off the ground. Unfortunately I was put into the finance team, but I was still able to offer a lot of good ideas to my group.

This was also the nicest day England has had since I have been here. It was warm, sunny, and didn't rain. Well I take that back it might of drizzled for a few min here and there. David and I wanted to enjoy the nice weather and decided to walk around our neighborhood to explore. We found a local cricket stadium and walked around it for a bit. We also walked past the prison. We have a B level prison about a block from our house. That means it is one level down from a maximum security prison. I think the walls need to be higher than they are. They just do not look big enough to be around a prison.

After dinner, David, Stephanie, Elizabeth, and I went out to a local pub called the Golden Lion. They had some live music playing , a good atmosphere. We made friends with a local named Carl who loves Americans. Apparently he has a villa in FL. His friends didn't seem to like us much but I think we may have stolen their table. Carl informed us to be careful in the surrounding neighborhoods. He said it may look like a safe place but we should really be careful and watch our backs. He also was making fun of me because I only had one cider the entire time I was at the pub. After the pub, we all went back to the girls house to play some cards. Elizabeth and I taught the other 2 how to play rummy. Instead of keeping score we just kept track of how many rounds everyone won. That wasn't to hard to remember because I had won 4 out of the 5 rounds that we played. Elizabeth was not happy with me at all and claims she will beat me next time. I'm not really worried though. MW you better be practicing cause you will need it.

5/21

Its my birthday!!!!!! Apparently my family doesn't love me because I tried calling both mom and dads cells several times and the house phone but no one answered. Thanks. We had a class on politics in the morning and we learned about Parliament, the monarchy, and the corruption going on with the MPs. It was an interesting class and have a little better understanding of their system, but it is pretty confusing. After our politics session, we got to go to Berkeley Castle. That was awesome. We weren't allowed to take pics inside the castle but I have some good shots of the outside. The castles been in the family's name and care for the past 900 years. It was just an incredible sight to look at and long and interesting history. After Berkeley we were taken to see a speaker on human rights named Helen Bamber. She has done a lot of great things but should never be a public speaker. The material could have been presented in a much better way. The most exciting part was when the fire alarm went off before the show started and when Nick feel asleep while Helen was talking. We were all hungry after the human rights session, so Paul (UWE program director) treated us all to dinner and a few drinks at a local restaurant.

The original plan for the night was to go and see a comedy club but the speaker and dinner took too long. So we will be doing that next Thursday night. Instead, we met several other from our group at a local pub and celebrated my bday. It was a fun and I can still do a backflip despite my shoulder being screwed up. Just an fyi if anyone cared lol.

Dinner At Mud Docks
Walking Around The Grounds at Berkeley Castle

The Group at Berkeley
Berkeley Castle
I Surrender
Aunt Robyn, just beyond the fence is the remains of the castle that you were referring to. The church in the background was bombed during WWII and was left standing with no roof.

video

Video of Berkeley Castle & Grounds

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

5/19 First Day Of Classes

Today we had our first day of class. The first session was all about different pubs and nightclubs that are in the area. It was real hard material so I took good notes. We were also given a tour of the University after our first session. It is a pretty cool campus that offers a lot of student activities. The University is known as an international university and has about 30,000 students. Our tour ended at a cafe on campus and we were left to fend for ourselves to find food. David (my roommate) and I lucked out, our host mom made us sack lunches. So we didn't have to pay or wait for our food like everyone else.

After lunch, we had our first real class. It was about language barriers between different cultures. Our professor made us do a few weird activities. On one of them, she has us be with a partner and stand with our toes touching and talk to them. It was very awkward for all of us. In Europe they are more ok with people being in their personal space. I find it interesting that even though both the U.S. and the U.K. speak English, our languages are still very different. Overall the first day of class was really easy and I don't anticipate it getting harder.

My other 2 roommates (Harid & Lawrence), were going to go see Angels and Demons. We thought it would be a good idea to go with them to get to know them a little bit better. We invited along Stephanie, Elizabeth, and Wallet (their other roommate who eats dinner with my host family). They movie was really good and did not ruin the book. I recommend it.

I am having a great time so far. The UK is a lot more diverse than I thought it would be. I was kind of expecting a lot of pasty white people. The UK is just as diverse as back home. The other thing about the UK is that everything is smaller here. Fat Fitz would never have been able to get through a doorway here (DC hahah). The best way to describe the streets here are that they look like they are from a movie set. It is a strange feeling. I kept forgetting to look the other way first when crossing streets and have almost been hit a few times.





Trying To Blend In...Is It Working? Bristol's Cathedral



Hannah Does Your Gym Back Home Look Like This?

(can't believe i found a local gym out here)



Found Fitz and Aldo's Office


Graffiti Is An Art Form In Bristol


This Is Where I Live (the blue door is my house)

Monday, May 18, 2009

More Pics

The Gorge that the Avion River flows through
(I am on a suspension bridge that goes over the gorge. About 3 people jump off this bridge everyweek to kill themselves. Last years group missed a jumper by a few min)
A Small Fraction of Bristol's Cathederal

Dr. Goebal and I have a Pint Together. (I had Hobgoblin, it was pretty good)

Since Wed. I have taken about a 150 pictures. I will show them all to everyone when I get home. They will be easier to explain that way. I will continue to post new pics now that I have access to the internet.



Pics

My Group on the Xmas Steps in Bristol
Old Trafford (where Manchester United Plays)

First Meal in the UK is Arab


Finally Internet

Sorry for not updating on a regular basis, but I have not been able to access the Internet. I had been keeping a daily journal on my computer but when I tried to turn it on this morning it told me it could not find the operating system. So I will play with that a bit when I get back to my host family. Any ideas jim?

I caught a 4:30am coach to London after being out at a club with Ayman and his friends. When i arrived in London I had to figure out how where the tube (train) was. It turned out that it wasn't to hard to find and use. Very similar to the trains in Chicago, just have to look at the map and figure out what stop to get off at. I met up with my group at Heathrow airport. From there we took a 2 hour coach to Bristol where we were picked up by our host families. My host is named Barbara, and she has a daughter who is away at school. I have 3 roommates; David is from my program and we share a room, Harid is from Saudi Arabia, and Lawrence is from China. Barbara is a bit cold and rough around the edges but I'm starting to warm up to her. She gave us a list of rules to follow, most are common sense, but I don't like the one about having to take a 5 min shower and not being able to shave in the bathroom. We have to use a bowl of warm water in the room.

On Sunday, Dr. Goebal led us on a walking tour of Bristol so we could get our bearings. Did I mention that it was still raining? We saw the famous Christmas steps but no one seemed to know why they were given that name. Some other sites that we saw were a couple bridges, one was dedicated to a slave from the 1700's and the other still had its original foundation from 1120 when it was built. There was also a church that had no roof because it was bombed in WWII. The Lord Mayor of Bristol left the church standing without the roof and dedicated it to the people from Bristol who lost their lives in the war. There were a few other sites, just can't remember them off of the top of my head at the moment.

On Monday, we had a walking/bus tour of Bristol again but this one was led by someone from the university. I was able to get inside the Cathedral of Bristol today. It was amazing, can't even begin to describe the experience of being inside it. The architecture is amazing. Our tour ended at the University where we had lunch provided to us and a welcoming session. This is a short summary of the last couple days, wish I could remember the one that I had typed out originally. It is a lot more detailed.

Friday, May 15, 2009

5/14 Day 2

Well it is still raining here. Ayman is convinced that I brought the rain with me, but when I left Chicago it was 65 degrees and sunny. I got to sleep in a bit today to help me recover some from the long flight. When I woke up, Ayman's mom made me some proper British tea. It was better than the tea I have had in the states, but I am still not a big tea person. I will stick to my hot chocolate. For breakfast we had meat and potato pasties. They were pretty good, reminded me of being in Michigan. When I look into my wallet I actually feel like a world traveler because I 3 different currencies in it.

After breakfast we headed into Manchester. Ayman took me to Old Trafford, this is where Manchester United plays a strange form of football. We took the tour of the field and learned a lot about the history behind Manchester United. During the tour we went in the players lounge, down both tunnels, and got to walk next to the pitch. We also saw the ball boys room, I was surprised that Fitz wasn't there. I have decided to h0p on the Manchester United Bandwagon and become a fan. I may even have to watch a game.

Ayman took me to the Trafford Centre, the local mall, after our tour. Yes Hannah, I actually went to a mall. Our number one priority was to find some food. We had some burgers at a bar and grill called the Giraffe. For some reason the burgers did not come with American cheese. We were both tired after lunch and headed home to take a nap.

After our nap, it was time to go experience the night life in Bolton. Ayman introduced me to several of his friends and his girl friend. His girl friend is nice and pretty cute, and his friends are hilarious and remind e of mine back home. My cheeks are still sore today from laughing all night. We went out to several local bars and a night club in Bolton. It was an interesting night filled with some drama, lots of laughs, poor dancing (mostly by me) and ended around 6:30 this morning.

Replies

Well I was just informed what getting pissed really means in the UK. Thanks for the late advice. Yes Ayman got his hot fries in good condition and was very happy about it. Aunt Robyn I will try and get to some of those places if I am in the area. I assume that last comment was from fitz or tom, I will try and stay away for as long as possible. No promises though.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Day 1

Well my flight touched down at 9:36am local time. The flight lasted 8 hours and 11 minutes. It would have been about 25 in faster if it wasn't raining in London. When it rains they slow down the number of flights going into Heathrow airport which caused my plane to circle the airport for a bit. When the plane made it to the terminal, I had to wait an additional 15 min before they let anyone off the plane. Apparently the set of steps the airport personnel had brought to the plane did not work and it took tie to find a working unit.

There weren't any problems getting through customs or finding my bag. Ayman and his friend Brian came to pick me up from the airport. They decided that I needed to have some breakfast and took me to a local Syrian/Lebanese place where we ate Fataveh. After breakfast, we went back to Brian's place, which is in London, to relax for a few hours.

Ayman and I were supposed to catch a coach to Manchester at 4:30pm. Brian tried his hardest to get us to the bus station on time. I have never been in a car with a more aggressive driver. In all fairness, Brian knew exactly what he was doing. I really believe he could be a professional get away driver in London (he attributes his driving skills to having to drive in Syria where one has to expect the possibility of having another car land on top of the one that you are driving). After, flying through London's narrow traffic filled streets, oncoming traffic, shortcuts, barley avoiding getting sandwiched between 2 buses, and pissing a lot of people off, we arrived at the bus station at 4:30pm (this description still does not give justice to the experience of being in the car with Brian at the wheel). For some odd reason the coach actually left on time, which is rare I a told, and we missed it by about 1 minute. It just wasn't meant to be.

We got tickets for a later coach. To pass the time we went to another local Syrian/Lebanese place for dinner. There I tried both a chicken and lamb Shawarma. Bother were good but i recommend the chicken one. To ensure that we got on the next coach, we decided it would be a good idea to show up a bit early. This idea seamed to work out because both Ayman and I got on the coach after parting with Brian.

About 4 hours later we rolled into Manchester. Ayman's dad and brother picked us up from the bus station. We went back to Ayman's house for some food and played some video games of course. This is where I will be spending the night. All in all it was a great day, and could not have started off the trip any better.

*Having issues posting pics to the blog at the moment. Attempting to fix this prob.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Well I am on the plane and waiting to take off. Take off should be at 715pm and I should arrive in London at 920am local time.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Packing Starts

There was no time for relaxation after graduation. Packed up my room and headed north. I know Mother's Day is supposed to be dedicated to my mom, but it was spent helping me find everything I needed for my trip. Thanks for always sacrificing your time mom to help me figure out how to put one foot in front of the other. LOVE YOU......

After a lovely dinner, it was time to start packing for my adventures in Europe. Just about 43 hours away, who's counting though?

Shocking News, The Packing Actually Started A Couple Nights Early

I Think I Can Get It All In One Bag
(Damn I Am A Good Packer*)

*The reference to the term "Packer" has no ties or connection to the mediocre football team from Green Bay Wisconsin,** in case there was any confusion.

**Just mentioning this area leaves a bad taste in my mouth, time to go brush my teeth.

Its Official

Cookout At The College Of Business


Bandit Came Tooo!!


Thanks For Coming Everyone

Me And Reggie

Two Studs

On The Stage, It Really Happened

Me And The President

They Really Let Me Keep It

Proud Parents

The Three Stooges