The London Eye! We waited in a very long line for what seemed like hours to get on the London Eye, but it turned out to be well worth the wait! The view from the top is beautiful. I got to see an expansive view of the city including an up close and personal view of Big Ben. From above, the people below looked like colorful ants moving about; their movement was quite orderly and predictable. I love the River Thames and the sights alongside it. I know if I lived in London I would make a trip there at least once a week. There are so many things to see and tons of food! There are books, and music, vendors and load of people. It’s perfect day or night for a date, family outing, or for time with friends. I know I’m starting to sound like a brochure but it truly is that wonderful!
Today was a departure from our normal routine. Instead of meeting on campus, we had the opportunity to meet and have a discussion with advisors from the Higher Education Funding Council for England. This government body is responsible for distributing billions of pounds of funding to England’s universities. These pounds are allocated for the purposes of research, and widening participation, amongst other things. It goes without saying that this was an important meeting and we wanted to impress upon the importance of continuing and increasing the funding to higher education.
We enjoyed the summary of the history of England’s education system. Most importantly, we had an opportunity to ask them some hard questions and we got some equally hard answers. There are so many factors that affect the effectiveness of the education system and so many things are changing. The discussion that ensued was both interesting and challenging. We finished the day exploring the sights and sounds of central London.
The presentations today were particularly amazing! Femi Bola, UEL’s Director of Employability, presented on the topic of widening participation and employability. She brought with her SEVERAL research interns who each discussed their research and backgrounds. We haven’t had an extensive amount of interaction with the student body of UEL so it was awesome to hear from them and to get an opportunity to speak with them. They were excited about the opportunity they’ve been given through their internship and are already making a tangible impact on their community. They were motivating and inspiring, to say the least! We spoke to them briefly and it was enjoyable learning even more about their wide variety of backgrounds and research interests. I nearly ran to the library at the end of our day because I was so excited to get something accomplished!!
For some reason today felt like a longer day than the others. The presentations today were much different than the others we have experienced. Though both were interesting, I particularly found the first presentation, “Sport, The Olympics and Widening participation” interesting. Apparently, the 2012 Olympics will be occurring in East London. I have never considered the lasting effects the Olympics have on the cities who host them. I certainly have never thought about how the Olympics can be a tool for widening (and narrowing) participation. Amongst other topics, the presentation displayed the various fears and joys of both Olympic researchers and the citizens of East London. I am curious to see the reaction of the world and of London to the 2012 Olympics.
Each day I learn something new about the education system in England! We enjoyed two presentations today: one about the practice of widening participation and another about foundation degrees and their contribution to the widening participation movement. Also, I was interviewed by Tony and Jo for research purposes. Without revealing too much, I must say that I enjoyed the interview because it facilitated reflection on my academic career and the steps that got me to where I am today. Again, I ended my evening in the library jamming and working!
It’s the fourth of July! It is quite strange to spend a fourth of July away from home. I know I’m missing many barbeques and pool parties back home. The folks at UEL did a great job of remembering our special American holiday though! For lunch we had a special treat of pizza! I’ve enjoyed the lunches we’ve been provided each day but I enjoyed eating something completely familiar.
We spent most of the day reflecting on the positives from last week’s conference and making suggestions for improvements. I spent the rest of my evening at the library listening to music and working on my long list of tasks to complete. I was looking forward to going out on the town in celebration but our plans fell through and we ended up doing laundry instead. The day sounds dull but I enjoyed the slow pace after a very busy week of traveling and sightseeing.
Alma and I made our way across the city all by ourselves! Usually Esteban and Michael are responsible for navigating through the many trains, and lines, and buses that we must take but we decided to have a girls day out, without them. We were momentarily worried when we found out that the circle line was closed for the day, but a replacement bus and brisk walk got us to where we wanted to be. We happened upon Petticoat market, a cheaper (and friendlier) version of Portobello market. It was more clothing than anything else. I bought a pretty navy and cream dress and a skirt for my niece. We headed over to Spittalfield market, an indoor, more upscale venue. Spittalfield has been my favorite market thus far, because some of the venues are more unique and eclectic than at the previous markets. It was also the more expensive of the three. I made a few purchases, including a bracelet for my brother, who is celebrating his 12th birthday today. We eventually caught a bus back to the train station only to accidently walk back to the bus stop in the last minute pursuit of something to eat. Lol. All in all today was another pleasant day in London. I almost feel like an official Londoner! …Almost. ☺
My colleagues are hilarious! Today we explored London and I laughed the whole way through. We took the tube to Portobello market, an outdoor smorgasbord of vendors. It was packed and almost anything you could think of was on sale. The vendors were… passionate! Lol. I can’t recall the purchases I made but I hope to be back soon! Alma read a book the entire day. I was amazed because I cannot walk and read but she did a really good job at it. By the end of the way we had an entire comedy routine surrounding her book reading and walking lol. Meanwhile, Esteban danced his way across London! … and there are videos to prove it! The city is beautiful and buzzing with excitement and culture. We walked along Thames River and saw Big Ben. I had an awesome chocolate covered strawberry and marshmallow skewer and a delicious vanilla ice cream come. Lol I love deserts. We finally crossed the bridge over the Thames and made our way home. As I said, it was all smiles and laughter all the way to our flat. ☺
Today was our last day in Scotland. Though I was only there for a few days, leaving was bittersweet. I will miss the connections I missed with some of the locals. I will miss Margret and Amina, some of the students from the University of Glasgow that were especially friendly. The conference was informative and I think many of the attendees are motivated now more than ever to return to their respective homes to challenge and improve the conditions of their education systems. Before we left the city we ate at a local restaurant and visited some of area vintage shops. My colleagues tried the highly recommended hagus (sheep’s stomach), while I played it safe with some chocolate ice cream. They said that, aside from the texture, it was quite palatable.
Back in London – “home sweet home”. Yet again, I find myself exhausted and ready for bed. Good night!
::Exhale:: I can breathe a sigh of relief now that our presentation is over! The round table discussion went so very well. I must admit that I was nervous, but all went well. The entire hour and a half was filled with questions and some discussion about the McNair Scholars program and our experience as scholars. So many of the attendees approached us and expressed their pleasure with the round table discussion. It was truly quite easy to talk about the benefits of the program because the program has been a great benefit to my educational career.
This evening, after another fabulous dinner, we attended a Ceildh (pronounced kay-lee)!! It was basically instructional Scottish dancing! Though I wasn’t the best dancer there, I was certainly having a great time! I am out of shape! I was huffing and puffing at the end of each dance lol. I must note that I have met the friendliest people in Scotland! I am just in love with that! I am also pleased with the amount of diversity I’ve seen. Surprisingly, every city we have visited thus far has been bubbling with diversity!
I got the best sleep in a while on the plane ride to Scotland. My only complaint is that I wish the flight was longer. Unfortunately, I left my padfolio on the plane. That is concerning because all of my important research documents and notes are in there, but I’m faithful that I will find it! Today was cram packed with activity and information. I’m glad we got the opportunity to attend the European Access Network conference because it introduced to us some of the issues that currently exist within the Education system and related government policies, giving us a sound understanding of some of the issues being explored at the FACE conference.
What I enjoyed the most today was dinner at the Glasgow Civic center. We had the opportunity to meet a government official. She personally interacted with us (the McNair scholars) and spent a lengthy bit of time answering our questions about the sights and history of Glasgow. The setting was beautifully ornate and elaborate, yet tasteful and classy. The food was absolutely great as well! Tomorrow, the McNair scholars will participate in a round table discussion, in which we will introduce the program and initiate a discussion with the other attendees. I pray all goes well!
I have come to realize that the education system here in England is a lot more different from the U.S. system than I thought. Though we spent the day hearing from different speakers about the details of the system, I still don’t understand it all. There just isn’t any U.S. equivalence for some of the constructs that exist here. What I enjoyed most about the day was the variety of speakers and styles of teaching we were exposed to. Each of the speakers presented a different aspect of the U.K. education system, but they went about such different ways! I really enjoyed each of the personalities and consequently, the teaching philosophies displayed.
Yet again I went to the library and worked until it closed. I can’t wait to get back to my mentor with some of the information I have found! Tomorrow we are heading to Glasgow, Scotland for the Forum for Accessing and Continuing Education (FACE) 2011 Annual Conference. Though I knew about this trip, its speedy advancement has been quite a surprise and I have yet to pack! Until tomorrow ☺
Today was the first day of the International Summer Institute at the University of East London. It was a long day, because I think I was still recovering from the exhilaration of last week and this previous weekend. We meet some key people that will be guiding us along in our research these next few weeks. We toured the campus and learned a little bit about its history and the East London area. The most exciting part of the day, for me, was the library introduction and training session. Two of the librarians familiarized us with the sights and sounds of the library. I already love because of its open layout. It doesn’t feel stuffy and boring like libraries usually do. I was beyond excited when they showed us the resources and databases we could make use of for each of our disciplines. I was so inspired that after the day was officially over, I returned and did a few more hours of work. I am quite eager for these weeks to come. I know that if we buckle down now, we can accomplish a lot before leave London.
The public transit system here is great! I don’t think I would bother with a car if I lived here permanently. We rode a double decker bus, which turned out to be more turbulent then I initially thought. I think I prefer to ride the trains. We took a trip to Brunel University, way on the other side of town! Amber gave us a lovely tower of the campus and led us to a local restaurant. The food was great, but the conversation was even better! I didn’t really know Amber previously and it was awesome to hear a bit more about her background and about her experiences with school, research, and life in general. She is fascinatingly honest and open, and quite knowledgeable about a wide range of topics. I think lunch with her was the best part of the day. The McNair scholars from Kansas, Jessica and Emily, joined us.
The second best part of the day was going to Primark! Before I left the States I heard much about this cheap, yet awesomely trendy store. It did not disappoint! The clothes was cute and affordable but the shoes and accessories stole the show! They were ridiculously cheap and so very unique. The store was packed and closing so we didn’t make any purchases but we will be back VERY SOON! I’m looking forward to starting the Summer Research institute tomorrow and getting to work. The more research experience, the better!
London, England! The accommodations at this dorm are fabulous. We each have our own room and a cute little bathroom. The kitchen is massive and our 6th floor flat has a great view of the docks below. There is an airport literally right outside of my window. I actually love it! We met the University of East London folks and basically unpacked. I was not happy about dragging my suitcase throughout Europe thus far so it was nice to completely unpack it and put it away. Everyone is so friendly! Tony, our primary contact here in London, took us to Tesco, a grocery store similar to Super Walmart. I am beyond tired and plan to rest for the remainder of the day, but tomorrow we will on the Tube (lol) and pay Amber Dukes, one of our McNair scholars who is studying here in London, a visit!
Today was beyond awesome! I have to say that I love Paris! I could chat endlessly about the site and sounds I experienced today but I will narrow it down to two key moments. First, I ate the best desert I have ever had… ever. If you know me, you know I have a sweet tooth. I also love (love) ice cream. We stopped at a little café/restaurant close to the Louvre and I ordered and enjoyed a dainty glass full of 3 scoops of chocolate ice cream, floating in a dash of coffee, covered with chocolate ice cream topped with a HEALTHY portion of whipped cream… I would go back for just desert. AMAZING!
Secondly, the Eiffel tower! There are no words to describe it. Being from Orlando, tourist city, I am not too often impressed by tourist attractions. I may think they are interesting but I quickly lose interest. Needless to day, I was shocked at the lasting excitement the Eiffel tower elicited. We were only able to go to the second level, but the view was breathtaking and romantic. I was in love with the tower itself and the sights and sounds in the half mile radius of the tower. I honestly don’t think anything I could say could capture how it felt to stand on that tower and stare out at the magical city of Paris. I must say: I LOVE PARIS! Tomorrow we head to London! I am so excited to settle into one place, unpack, and rest!
What a day, what a day! I don’t think I have ever walked so much in one day in my entire life; (lol) ok maybe once or twice before. When Study Aboard instructs you to pack comfortable shoes, listen to them! We arrived in Paris this morning and we’re off to a running start.
After finding our hotel, we hit the streets in order to maximize our limited time. This city was quite different from Amsterdam. For one thing it was warmer and got progressively warmer as the day went on. The first sight we visited was the the Museum at the Louvre. That was simply amazing! The place was gargantuan, with more paintings and sculptures then I could possibly see in one day, let alone the few hours we were there. I saw works by renown artists like Leonardo Da Vinci. We saw pieces saw as the Winged… , lady with no arms…, and of course, the Mona Lisa….
The final day of the conference is here! In some ways today was bittersweet. I was sad that I was leaving before I had the opportunity to develop some of the relationships I began to create with those at the conference. At the same time, I was excited to prepare for Paris and to escape the cold. The day was marred by cold weather and of course, jet lag. We attended the last few presentations, one of which was Michael and Professor Violeta. They discussed the exchange program between some of the scholars at UCF and the students in Croatia. We also attend several presentations where McNair was discussed. It was exciting to hear and see the perception of McNair from individuals across the country and from several parts of the world.
That evening we ate at a Chinese food restaurant and were surprised at the healthy size of the portions. We completed the evening by exploring the city until sun down. I enjoyed these unstructured times the most. How do I feel now?? I am beyond excited for Paris! I am not excited about lugging luggage through train, metro, and bus stations, but hey, I’m going to be in Paris! ☺
Day two was a little warmer and a little less of an adventure. We started our day with a breakfast in the hotel dining area. The European breakfast is not quite what I’m used to but I enjoyed it. There was an interesting concoction of a halved tomato with a melted slice of cheese and baked beans on top. Interesting. The size of the cups here never ceases to amaze me. They are so small! Even when we ordered from Burger King yesterday, the American’s value sized cup accompanied our regular sized meals. And they charged us for ketchup! Lol.
We headed directly for the conference, where we sat in an annual general meeting, a discussion session of sorts, and an evening lecture. In between we enjoyed lunch and a coffee break. The previous day’s jet lag quickly returned, but after the coffee break I was wide awake. What I enjoyed the most during the conference was the discussion session I attended. The presenters discussed a prepatory higher education program being utilized to help immigrants smoothly transition into Finnish higher education. Apparently one of the greatest barriers is the difficulty of the Finnish language. The citizens of Finland are experiencing the phenomenon of immigration into their country. Until most recently in their history, they often had emigration from Finland, but now have Russians, Somalis, Estonians, amongst others, entering in abundance. Considering the fact that at most they only have 1st generation Finnish citizens with these backgrounds, they are being quite proactive with addressing access to higher education for these individuals. A rich discussion filled with suggestions and questions sprung from their presentation. One final observation about the day: Vrije University, where the conference was held is more diverse than I originally assumed it would be. The city in general has been that way. I cannot tell where anyone is from, as their diversity is very different from America diversity, but it’s diverse none the less. One more pleasant surprise in Amsterdam ☺
I leave you with this quote mentioned at the conference: “education: that which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of understanding.” From The Devils Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
What I thought was going to be a 12 hour flight actually equated to a 6 hour flight with a 6 hour time change. I slept an uncomfortable hour or so on the plane. I saw the most beautiful skyline I’ve ever seen. Amsterdam is cold; undoubtedly. After a few hours of wandering in the town, we found our hotel: Casa 400. It was eerie how empty the streets were. I was afraid that perhaps we had just missed the apocalypse or the rapture or something (lol). We later figured that the vacant streets might have been due to the time and day of the week.
We finally dropped off our luggage and hit the streets. We spent our day in the Anne Frank Museum, a local pancake restaurant, the Van Gogh museum, and a boat tour. I enjoyed the times in between of wandering about, figuring out the streets and public transit system. I loved the feel of the city. The streets were eventually crowded with colorfully dressed individuals sporting every type of cold weather gear you could think of. The cold weather and rain was a downer, but the flower markets, and street art displays made up for it all. I never thought jet lag existed until this day. By the boat tour in the evening I was literally fighting the sleep. I nodded off with food in my mouth and while counting my change… it was time for bed! I was never so glad to enter the warmth and comfort of our chic little hotel. Excited for the first day of the conference tomorrow!
Grateful and amazed. I can hardly believe that I am in a plane staring down at massive clouds and on my way to Amsterdam. Everything about this is amazing to me. I can’t wrap my mind around what Amsterdam is going to be like. I don’t know what to expect these next few weeks. I feel comfortable and at ease on this plane ride. I am anxious about the research and the work that is to be completed by this trips end. I don’t want to disappoint; neither myself nor the others who have expectations of me. Regardless, I am immensely thankful and am savoring every moment I am blessed to experience here. My heart is glad and I am as giddy as a school girl deep inside! LOL :)”
Born in the French Virgin Island of St. Martin, Lucie Rincher has spent the majority of her life in Orlando, Florida. Despite starting her career at the University of Central Florida in another major, Lucie fell in love with communication science and disorders. Her current research interests include methods of prevention and intervention of speech and language disorders amongst bilingual children. Upon obtaining her bachelor’s degree, Lucie hopes to attain her doctorate in the area of communication and culture.