Sunday, June 8, 2014

Thinking Globally

It has offically been almost two weeks since I've been back. It has been an amazing experience and I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to become part of two societies. I have been trying to keep up on information from London since I have been back. I started following some facebook groups that are related to London and it is amazing looking at information and being able to relate to it on some level. I can look at other peoples pictures and think, "I've been there" or "I stood there." I can even read articles and think about my own experiences that can relate back to my experiences I had in London. It really is like being a global citizen. You look at the world differently and you notice differences in the culture, the people, and even the beliefs. Even as I watch my own favorite television show I think about all of the gun use and the knife use. When I watch it I think about how different the use and of guns and knife are here in the United States. It is great being able to look at the world from different points of view and knowing that there is no right way to run a country or to live. There are many choices and paths that people make which can all be good choices. Just because someone lives differently does not mean they are wrong. I think we all have the choice to decide how we want to live and maybe even move to a place that has similar beliefs as you do. All I know is that it is amazing being able to look at the world and try to see things from their point of view. Taking into consideration their past and their personal beliefs to see through their eyes and understand why they do what they do even if you don't believe in it. Since this trip I really have begun thinking globally and been able to see the world through a new perspective.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Part of Two Worlds

It is crazy being back in the United States. Two weeks is a long time to be abroad and it was an amazing experience. I loved every second and it has made being back here so different. When you are exposed to a different environment you tend to adapt to fit into it. So coming back I have had to adapt back to this environment. I have began thinking a lot larger than I used to. When you live in one place for so long it is easy to think that is the entire world because that is all you ever see. Going to London has broadened my horizon immensely by making me realize there is so much out there in the world. There are so many different types of people who are raised in different ways and believe in different things. I am so glad to have gotten to see at least one other part of these differences. Sometimes we get used to only focusing locally on the issues and problems we are facing in our town, or state, or country. We forget that there is a big world out there with their own problems and people. I can understand more why people think Americans are a bit arrogant. We have a large country and tend to only care about ourselves and think we are the best. I think this is because we are being told to care about places and people we have never met or seen and probably will never meet or see in our entire lives. Traveling abroad gives you the chance to actually get out and see those people. It lets you realize how large the world is and makes you want to care about those people. It is nice watching the news or reading the paper and reading about something happening at a place you have been before. You can recognize the issue more and put more heart into it because it is not just a faceless place on the other side of the world, it is a place that you visited for two weeks and a place where people you met and care about live and have to deal with. It feels like a dream being away and I really hope I return someday. I am definitely going to be much more aware of things going on around me and out in the world because they are not faceless anymore and I realize that it is good to care about people because they need someone to care about them and to know about them.

Friday, May 23, 2014

End of the Road

We only have one more night to go and then I'm off back to the States. It is really sad to leave because I have enjoyed my time here very much. I may not have the chance to blog again until after we get back so I would like you all to know how great it has been here. I have met some amazing people such as Constable Watson, who works for New Scotland Yard and has shown us so many wonderful things around the city and taught us so much about how the police work around England. He has been such a joy and when I found out he was going to be gone in a little over a year. I realized how great it has been to have the chance to meet him and enjoy all the things he set up for us because in two years he may not be there.
Two more people I have had the amazing opportunity to meet have been Sarah and Maria from ISA. They have been amazing and teaching us so much about the history of London. Sarah is so enthusiastic about history and you can tell that she has a real passion for it. I love listening to her speak because she really makes it come alive when she talks about all of the things. I had the pleasure of listening to her guide us around Westminster Abby, Stonehenge, Roman Bath, Oxford, Statford, and Warwick Castle. She just knows so much and I love how much joy she brings to the history of this country. I really am going to miss her. It has also been great spending time with Maria. She is so cute and enjoys all of the events we go to almost more than we do. I love watching her as she gets to explore with us and make sure we are all where we need to be. I will miss her energy and enthusiasm for meeting us and taking us around the city.
This trip has been amazing and it has been great getting to know people as well getting to spend time with great friends like Cierra and Chloe. I have known Cierra for two years and she is my best friend and this has been such a great experience to enjoy with her. I have just met Chloe but it feels like I have known her forever. She has become like a sister to me and I plan on keeping her as a dear friend for a very long time if not forever. This trip has been such a learning experience and such an amazing journey. I might just cry when we leave because it really is like stepping into another world, so it is difficult to just leave and step back into my normal day to day life. Hopefully I will have an amazing last day tomorrow before heading out Sunday. So this is my last Cherrio from London.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Middle Of The Road

It has officially been one week since I arrived here in London and it has been great. I love being here and all of the history I have experienced has changed me and it is all so fascinating. My spirits are high but my bank account is low. It was amazing to think that even though I came with $1,000 when I converted it I really only had around 500 pounds. So it really was a huge disappointment to think I was going to have a lot of money when I got here, when really I only had about half of it after conversion. Aside from paying for things this trip has been amazing. I mentioned seeing a lot of history and I really have. I was able to visit Westminster Abby which has been my favorite thing so far. It was a church full of happiness, sadness, and just the history of London through the past century. Those graves were older than the birth of the United States. It was amazing seeing how much the English appreciate and honor the great people who have lived before them including the monarchs, scientists, authors, and poets. I wish America was old enough to celebrate things from that long ago. In America we do have so many things to be proud of, the only down side is that a lot of them involve the wars we have been. I did find it really cool that a monument of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. were here in London and it just shows how much they appreciate great people in history even if they are not English.
After seeing that amazing Abby I went on a very long walk to Buckingham Palace. The palace is surrounded by two parks. St. James Park and Green Park. It was probably about two miles I walked from end to end. The palace was nice but again it was just another building. The parks though were very gorgeous. St. James was my favorite and the had such beautiful grounds and you could tell people liked it because there were so many people there. We did sit down at the park for a bit because our feet were so tired and there were these chairs that looked very comfortable but you had to pay money to sit in them. I did not want to pay and we were going to just sit in them anyway but there was an officer walking around checking if people had paid and kicking some people out so we decided just to sit in the grass but it was just as nice.
Another thing we did that day was visit Houses of Parliament. It was great learning a lot more about how their government works. I really enjoy their system and like it a bit more then the American system. One thing I really appreciated was that when they vote on anything they literally all leave the room and vote in person and their vote is written down. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour to get through the voting but it is a lot more effective than electronic voting. They did not go electronic because that can lead to accidents by clicking the wrong button or even to cheating because someone could hack in and change the votes. I think their method takes a lot longer but is overall a lot more effective.
We have done a lot of other fun things and still have an entire week of things to go. I am very excited to visit Paris on Wednesday and may be then make some comparisons between England and France. We will also be visiting New Scotland Yard and even seeing a play production of Wicked hopefully. So stay tuned and Cherrio!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Through The Looking Glass

The trip so far has been amazing!!!! It has been the most exciting adventure I have had in my life so far and I am so happy to have such great friends to spend it with. We are four days through and I am ready to stay here. I can definitely see myself coming here in the future and staying possibly for a long time. It has also been very eye opening and almost like stepping through the looking glass into another world. They are so different and yet similar at the same time. You notice these differences everywhere you look.
One thing I noticed was the bathrooms. They have no hand towels and only air dryers in the public toilets. This has lead me to notice that a lot of advertisements have been for more eco-friendly items. Although they have a lot more vehicles they use much more fuel efficient vehicles. Another thing I noticed was in the media. Micheal Jackson is very big here in the U.K., they play his music int eh stores a lot and his show is still ongoing. My friends and I discussed that this may be due to the fact that the negative coverage of him that we have heard only reached local areas in the U.S. Micheal's negative reputation is well known throughout the U.S. but because his actions were not in the U.K. they were not exposed to that side of him. The numbers here are also different. They used standard military time for everything and the measurement scales are in meters rather than miles.
Since I am here for a criminal justice program we have gone on many tours already of police stations, court houses, and even got to experience some of the training that the officers go through. I have noticed that the justice system is very different here. The police give off a much more positive vibe and really are here for the people. The police do not carry guns and do everything they can to calm down a situation and protect the public. The second night we were here, we visited a police station and an officer was sitting outside a cell with a drunken man asleep inside the cell. The officer was watching him so that he would be ok and that he would not be hurt until he had time to sober up enough to not injure himself. The police are very kind and considerate of the public and want to protect and serve everyone. This is a very different idea than in the U.S. Although the U.S. police are supposed to protect and serve they are portrayed as much more violent. I know some very kind officers in the U.S. but there are also many who would shoot first and ask later. I think their main idea is to stop criminals rather than to protect the public. Their mind set is to stop the bad people when they should be focused on calming them down and trying to help them. Obviously some people will harm you back but I think we should not assume everyone is dangerous and start trying to encourage limited force and take policing from a more positive view and becoming the peoples police.
Our countries are very different and yet they get along very well. They are both great countries and I am very lucky to get to be a part of both for the time being. As long as I watch out for the cars driving on the wrong side of the street I should be fine. It has been great so far and I am excited for tomorrow because we are going on the Warner Brothers Studio Tour of the Harry Potter set and they off to see Big Ben and the London Eye. After that we will check out a ride called the London Dungeon. I am very excited and am sure I will enjoy the rest of my trip. I hope you all are enjoying it with me.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Living It Up

Finally made it to London!!! It has been amazing here. We have been here for the past two days and I absolutely love it here. It has been a fascinating experience and I have seen so many wonderful and amazing things. I honestly know that it will be very difficult to leave at the end of our second week. I do not want to go home. One of the things I have noticed has been everyone's attitude about things. Everyone I have met has been very friendly and helpful, even when I spend a long time trying to count my money to give it to them. People here are so kind and sincere. The greatest thing is the way they treat each other.
London is very multicultural and you notice it straight away. There are so many different types of people and they all get along in their country. I almost wonder if here should be called the melting pot rather than America. The people here are so diverse and there are over 300 languages spoken here in London and yet there has been no racial prejudice that I have noticed. They accept each other and people are free to go around without fear of being judged based on their skin color. I think this is so amazing and liberating in a way. While in the U.S. it is so apparent, especially in the mid-west, the difference in attitude towards people of separate races, yet here everyone is so integrated and they form a community of people that are untied rather than separate.
We have explored many places and it is great to see people getting along so well with one another and forming this great country I have been able to visit. My roommates are amazing and my great friends who have been able to live this journey with me. It is great to explore with them and see what this city has to offer. As we go along I hope to observe even more about the interactions and culture of this city. I have one and a half weeks left here and cant wait for them. Until next time, Cherrio!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Home Stretch

Hello again!
In four days I will be on a plane to London! I am nervous, excited, stunned, and not sure how ready I am. I have begun my packing and am ready to embark on this journey, yet there is still an ounce of fear inside. New things are always intimidating and this is definitely something very new for me. To help me deal with this fear I have begun to think about globalization. Globalization is the process of international integration arising from the interchange of world views, products, ideas, and other aspects of culture. As I prepare for this journey it helps to expose myself to as much of English culture as I can before I get there. I hope that I can integrate into their magnificent culture even though I will only be there for two weeks. They have so many things I could learn and so much information to take in, and only a short time to gather it all. Globalization is something I think everyone should experience. Like I have said previously, every place is different and it is our differences that should make us stronger. If we take the time to work together and learn from one another, in this case learning from different countries and cultures, we can achieve so much in this world. Perhaps we have more similarities than differences, this is something I would like to explore when I get there. To view how different we really are or hopefully how similar we are. There will be many differences simply because it is a city and I currently live in a small town. But as far as our attitudes and beliefs I hope I can find similarities and ties that can connect our culture to the English culture. This trip will give me the opportunity to interact with people and study how things in their country work. I am so excited to learn and explore their history and become a part of their culture. It will be very interesting trying to assimilate. It is like the common phrase says, "When in rome..." In this case, when in London do as the Londoners do. Hopefully trying to interact with them I can learn how they think and view things in their country as well as the world. This is a once in a lifetime experience and I am so thankful to have this opportunity.
Until next time! Cherrio!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Almost There...

It is insane to think that in 11 days I will be on a plane to London. I am exited and nervous all at the same time. As I have gotten closer to departure time I have been thinking about it a lot more seriously rather than in just a fun way. We had a speaker discuss with us how when people travel abroad they typically throw their morals out the window and go crazy because they will never see those people ever again. I have the opposite thoughts. I want to make a good impression and represent my school and country with pride. This did get me thinking about if there would be any serious issues I may run into while I was there. For example, differences in culture, standards, food, interactions, and so on. Things may be similar but I expect they will be quite different from what I am used to living in the mid-west.
One thing I have been thinking about it ethnocentrism. Ethnocentrism is judging another culture solely by the values and standards of one's own culture. I have been thinking a lot about this because a lot of my thoughts have been comparing London culture to my own culture. I have been so concerned with how I could fit into their culture with all of the differences because I do not want to stand out to much as a foreigner. I have never been a foreigner anywhere and it scares me a little bit to think of myself as on the outside. One example is that I do not like tea and England is a very proud country known for their tea drinkers. I never knew what the big deal was with tea but it is something that you do when you are part of their culture. I have been judging them for these small insignificant things that should not matter. Every society and culture differs and that does not make any one better than the other.
I honestly believe it is our differences that make us stronger. One reason I wanted to go to London is because I love to travel. Another reason is because, as a psychology major, I am fascinated with how people think. To have a chance to explore first hand the differences between our two cultures is a great honor. I hope to be able to understand what it is that makes London London. Exploring the differences they have with my own country will help me better understand how everyone can be different and that there is not only one way to do things. They are a very successful country and should be praised for it. Sometimes people choose to dislike things that are different, but if we explored them and tried to understand the differences we may be able to learn from them and be able to better ourselves from it. I could not be more thrilled to visit London and explore how their minds work and how I could possibly incorporate some of their differences into my own culture and life.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Show Me The World

In 27 days I will be on a plane ride to the biggest adventure of my life, and hopefully not the last. I will be heading to London for two weeks and experience what the world is like outside of my little bubble in the United States. As I prepare for this trip, I think a lot about how I will be perceived as well as how I will perceive them. I am a very open minded person and will try my best to keep stereotypes from interfering with my interactions, but they still may creep into my mind every so often. One thing I wonder about is if everyone will have bad teeth. My teeth are far from perfect, yet I am still curious if there will be a significant difference in dental hygiene. I also expect that everyone will be drinking tea. I am not sure if they all really like tea that much or if it is just something they do to show they are united in something. I have never been a big fan of tea but I am surely going to have to drink a few cups while there. I think I will enjoy being there very much because I see them as a country full of history, culture, and pride.
One thing I am very worried about is if they will welcome me into their country and enjoy me being there as much as I will enjoy being there. Americans are already perceived as arrogant and ignorant, I do not want them to hate me before I even arrive. The U.S. has always been a bit invasive and is not well liked by outsiders because of it. I love living in the U.S. yet even I disagree with some of the interactions we have with other countries. I hope I can be an amazing example of how kind and gracious Americans can be while I am there. In every country there are good and bad people. Sometime we get so caught up in one side of it that we label them entirely good or entirely bad. I think visiting the country and showing how open and willing to learn we are, we can show that Americans are great people to be around and maybe in the future countries can be a bit more enthusiastic to interact with us.
My best friend, who is attending this trip with me, and I have recently bought out tickets to Paris, France from London. We plan on having a day trip and I am very excited to see the Eiffel Tower and experience the city of love, even if it is only for one day. As excited as I am, I am also very worried about it. France has a reputation for being very angry and hateful towards any outsiders, let alone Americans. In my high school we had a foreign exchange student from Italy and even she told me about how rude the French can be. It scares me to think that I may arrive there and they may all stick up their noses and look down on me based on where I am from. As I said earlier there are both good and bad people every where. I just hope I can find the good ones while in France rather than the bad ones. 
I have never given much thought to where I was from because it has just been where I have lived my entire life. Since signing up for this trip I am thinking about all of the negative things that other people think about the United States. We do have bad attributes but we are also a country of hope and exploration. We are constantly changing and growing from out past mistakes. We are open to learning from others and doing our best to make this country a place for anyone who needs a home. I love referring to the U.S. as the melting pot because that is what we are. We have taken people from all over the world and created a place full of life and freedom. As I study more about London and how the U.S. is seen by the rest of the world I hope I continue to learn and be able to see from multiple perspectives. In preparation for London, my friend and I have been trying to incorporate what they call "the Queens English" into our daily conversations so we do not look like complete tourists when we arrive. 
Wish me luck! Until next time, Cheerio!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

For The First Time In Forever

Hello, my name is Jamie and I love to travel. Ever since I was a child I have had a passion for traveling and discovering places I've never been to before. There is so much beauty in this world and I want to see it all. As my first step in seeing the world, I have joined a criminal justice class that will give me the opportunity to travel abroad to London, England. After countless visits to multiple areas of my college, I finally made it happen. It is crazy to think that in 32 days I will be in London. I have traveled to 23 states in the United States of America, but I have never been outside of the country. As every minute inches closer my excited increases. I am psyched to see all that London has to offer.
My teacher has informed me that this trip will not give me the opportunity to see everything, but it will give me the greater desire and confidence to visit Europe and even other countries again in the future. We will be visiting for two weeks and I plan on seeing as much as I can before my return home. One thing I am looking forward to is having the chance to see all of the history they have. The U.S. is a baby compared to the rest of the world and I look forward to experiencing the culture that has grown over the years. Information I have found has noted that London was founded around 43 A.D. which tells me that they have been growing for nearly two thousand years compared to the two hundred forty years of the United States.
One feature I am particularly looking forward to is visiting the Globe Theater. I have always been interested in theater and William Shakespeare is a classic. Just knowing that he stood there and preformed his shows in that theater is amazing and I may even have a fan-girl moment while there. I am also excited to see common attractions such as Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, hopefully involving a sighting of The Queen. This trip has so much to offer and I hope I make the most of every moment I have while there. For the first time in forever, I will be able to travel abroad, experience the history, and learn about how different cultures are. As a psychology major, I am extremely interested in viewing first hand the different interactions I see and getting a better understanding of their culture and ideas to compare them to that of the U.S. As I start this journey I hope you all wish me luck!