Friday, May 29, 2015

It Hasn't Even Been A Week Yet

Truth is on Sunday after such a long day of traveling I was ready to be home, well I thought I was. I haven't even been here for a whole week yet and I already want to go back to London. Can we do it again?! Just another two weeks? Please?

I love the United Kingdom. I love the accent. I love the diversity. I love the food. I love having to say "the loo". I love the fashion. I love the shopping. I love the tube!!  I love the accent. (did I say that already?) I want an accent.

Again though I had some extremely special opportunities that I won't have again, some won't ever have, which might factor into my maybe bias opinion about this country.
The way I think about it is how music or fashion become popular in bigger cities in bigger states first places like California and Texas, and that trend usually spreads to the middle states places like Wyoming and Nebraska. So bigger picture The United Kingdom is way ahead of The United States.

With that said, let me explain what I mean.

Start out with little things like not using paper towels in every public restroom, saving tons of trees and instead providing hand-blow dryers. Really think about the huge impact it could have on companies saving money not having to constantly order paper towels, one more thing to clean once a day, yea maybe, but once less thing to restock twice a day.    

Almost every school being in uniform. One of my most favorite things about London. This prevents so many things but most importantly separation from the poor and the rich, doesn’t allow for “class” discrimination. Everyone receives equal opportunity to be judge based on their intelligence, potential and personality instead of clothes, shoes and accessories. An idea that will hopefully stick with the students throughout life.   

On a bigger scale the daily pollution fee of 11 pound 60 pence the city of London charges to drive a vehicle in the City of London. I didn’t see a whole lot of beat up old cars on the street which leads me to believe majority of those driving cars have to be pretty wealthy. There are so many means of public transportation, it would be silly to not take advantage, with the population in my opinion it’s more convenient. But the idea is to slow down pollution. In my opinion it’s brilliant.

How the communities in London provide for their homeless. They have houses, food and are treated with respect. In the US we are sort of disgusted with our homeless and we blame them. The United States government provides assistance to the families that need it, however instead of being embraced most make fun of or look down upon those on government assistance. I learned while visiting the rich live next to the poor. That type of environment provides inspiration, in my opinion and that’s not how it is here.

The death penalty was abolished in The United Kingdom over 15 years ago, Nebraska just this week abolished the death penalty. Gay marriage has been legal for over 5 years, in my opinion that only leads to acceptance for all types of diversity. Seems to me we are just figuring out things they seem to already know.

I have noticed the United Kingdom tries to focus on preventing something instead of dealing with something when it happens, I don’t think in the United States we try as hard to prevent, we usually do a good job dealing though.

So maybe instead of “being ahead” like I said before, it’s more the level of social responsibility each country focuses on and achieves. Comparing the two, the lack of social responsibility the Unities States truly practices surprises me.

This trip completely changed my opinion about the United Stated compared to other countries, just in two weeks opened my eyes. 

A New Perspective

This trip completely changed my opinion about the United States compared to other countries, just in two weeks opened my eyes to so many unfamiliar things.

I have been posting a lot about how much I enjoyed London, and how wonderful the United Kingdom is as a country. And I really hope I am getting my point across, I love it.

I love my home too. The United States is an amazing country and I am proud to be an American. Visiting London has only opened my eyes to all the possibilities and opportunities the United States hasn’t faced yet, we will and when we do we will probably dominant. I get to live through some of it. I hope to be a part of something that drastically improves the United States as a country. Traveling really has inspired me.

I really enjoyed traveling to London and I will probably go back but since I’ve been back I have been embracing our differences. I’ve been trying to enjoy the little things, the things I took for granted, even the things I dream to change, and the things I love. Traveling has changed my perspective in such a positive way. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

You're Gonna Hear Me Roar

Coming from small-town Chadron where we have no public transportation, the experience of taxi's, buses, and of course the tube has been SO much fun! I can only imagine the brain power  it took from the thousands of engineers it took to build the system! It is very similar to an underground subway, just a different name. There are a total of 13 lines, who knows how many trains or how many stops each line directs, TONS, traveling all around London! We were told thousands of people use the Tube on a daily basis. While using the Tube we have been the only ones on and sometimes elbow to elbow with strangers. No personal bubble while riding the tube at the busiest times of the day, early morning and late afternoon. Using the tube adds about 2-4 hours to someones work day.
But if you drive a car into London they charge you a daily fee of 11 pounds. That adds up real quick. Most use bikes, like I said before, the people on bikes don't play around, they are serious! 

Living in London is a completely different environment from anywhere I have lived. Such a small piece of land with TONS of people. The buildings are small, the houses are small, but everything seems so much more expensive. 
While visiting I have learned the communities provide many opportunities for the homeless, one of our tour guides explained to me there are many houses provided for the homeless. Basically you have to really really try to be homeless in London, because they have so many resources for you it'd be hard to not take advantage. Which I think is cool. 

In my opinion the people are so friendly, the guys are so much more polite. Weird observation, I know. The diversity in this country is extreme, all different kinds of people every which way you look. I enjoy that, seeing a new face every day. Also when I tell people we are from the Unites States they sort of are hesitant towards me, as if I will have some sort of dominant attitude almost coincided.  It's true people in the United States think we are the best there is. I will be honest though before I came here I was under the impression America was #1 too, I no longer believe that in fact almost the opposite. With that said I am proud of where I come from and how advanced our country is. Leaving London the only thing I am looking forward to is seeing my family. AND cheaper prices for almost everything!! The life style is expensive here but worth it, I imagine.  

Another thing that I have noticed that is different from Chadron is it's almost like they don't have dumpsters. Trash is piled quite a bit all over, almost. Unlike California there isn't trash or should I say rubbish in the gutters but outside of busy places there are bags of rubbish just in a pile.
Before coming our professor told us liter 'cans' aren't all over because of past terrorism acts, terrorists would put bombs in liter cans in busy public areas. They learned their lesson I guess. But no dumpsters?

Can't forget to talk about pubs and restaurants! Believe it or not the educate is completely different then what we are used to! If I lived in London I would be out of a job because they really don't have waitresses. Instead the menu is listed outside of the door, you pick a table and go up to the counter to order, wait for your meals or drinks and take them back to the table. One person usually orders for the whole table, I guess it's easier for the person working, more organized at least. They eat dinner a lot later then we do in America, so the businesses stay busy for much longer. Also gratuity is always added to the bill. The people working in the restaurant or pub don't come and check on you to make sure your meal is enjoyable. Little things that make that experience different, most people unlike in America aren't constantly on their phones while at dinner, I think that's the fist clue gives away that we are American. 

I've had such a great time experiencing the different lifestyle!! Definitely have enjoyed expanding my little world view! I will carry these experiences with me for life, and use the lessons I've learned to enhance my education, personal life, and future career! I feel truly blessed. 

Simmun' It Up

It's been two weeks?
I have enjoyed my time here, so many emotions.

The past week we have been able to see the military practice the tradition of Trooping the Colour escorted again by Constable Watson. He sure hooked us up!! What an amazing guy!
Such a cool thing to watch! I was very impressed.

On Tuesday we were taken on a London Legal Walk, we learned so much about the differences with their system and ours. For example we have lawyers, defense and prosecuting. They have solicitors and barristers, solicitors are limited to cases within the lower two level of courts and cannot do appeals. Barristers are the ones who work on appeals and more serious cases such as murders and terrorism. Something I found extremely interesting was after their first 3 years of school they apply for law school which is only a year long!
We also visited their Supreme Court and learned that there are some major differences between their's and ours. For example their supreme court cases are open to the public, that is brilliant in my opinion. Also our supreme court every member has to agree, an all or nothing decision. Here they usually have a group of 9 or something 5 people making decisions and it is not anonymous, decisions are based on majority, so 7 out of 9 or 3 out of 5. However they do deal with similar cases, such as a bed and breakfast not catering to a gay couple because of personal beliefs..discrimination or not? Or based on religion wearing or not wearing a school uniform. The building was amazing and I will never forget their colorful carpet! hahah
We learned that the death penalty has been abolished for years and gay marriage is legal everywhere. Those are some major differences that in my opinion make this country more advanced than ours and so incredible. Something we learned that stood out to me was the maximum sentence even for murder is only about 24 years and most don't serve their full sentence and are let out on parole for good behavior, that might be something maybe the only thing I don't really agree with. Still it's an incredibly organized system.

On Wednesday we went on a tour of the Tower of London, which holds the crown jewels MY GOODNESS the crowns are GORGEOUS! The diamond on Queen Elisabeth's crown is 530 carrots. HUGE! And I was inches from the glass it was held in. Absolutely amazing!!
Later that night we went to The Lion King at the Lyceum Theater, I cried. It was an incredible performance of my most favorite movie as a child. That was also a once in a life experience I will never forget!

Friday we took a day trip to Oxford, we were able to see all the prestigious colleges. We learned they are looking for "clever" minds and it is hard to be accepted. Only 12,000 students are attending these 38 some colleges. It is very different from Chadron State. They basically don't have mandatory classes, instead they are taught by what they call a tutor most of the time one on one. What I thought was really cool was the tutor is often the person who wrote the book they are studying. The colleges have carried traditions of having formal dinner's with the principal and president's at the head of the room every Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights that are mandatory. Very different from our education system. Instead of being graded all semester long they have a final test at the end of each "term" and there are three terms here, Summer, Winter and Spring. Another major difference is they have something similar to dorms but they call them "halls" and they are individual rooms, they don't have to share. I cannot stress enough how "clever" and "creative" you must be to attend these colleges, we learned they don't want you to memorize information, instead form your own opinion of things going on.

Later that day we traveled to Stratford-upon-Avon, which is the birthplace of William Shakespeare! I saw the house he was born in!! How cool right?!
We also went to Warwick Castle which dates back to the 11th century. We had the opportunity to explore the state rooms, the DUNGEON ( my favorite part), "ghost towers" and the gardens. It was one instead of formal we got to play in! Still learning so much about the rich history of this country.

Because of these visits my whole perspective on things is more worldly! I am so much more open-minded being introduced to things I have never imagined. Learning so much, so so much! It has helped me understand how far we have come and how much farther we can go. I've been introduced to the differing ways of living. The impact of these visits has truly made me a better and wiser person.  

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Once In A Life Time Opportunity

I’m just going to say it today I felt extremely lucky and also important! (hahahaa)
Very few can say they've done what I did today..

Today we went to the New Scotland Yard bright and early. Most are under the influence this is a working police station, however it is not, instead it is an office block for Metropolitan Police Officers. The commissioner’s office is in this building. For those who don’t know a commissioner is the highest rank of officer in London.
After being briefed on the plans for the day, we were escorted by Constable Watson and Constable Cole to Downing Street. YES #10 Downing Street!! Where the Prime Minister of London lives!! Take a second and read that sentence again. And get this?! I stood in front of the door, and I have picture proof!!! It is not open to the public, although it used to be so this opportunity, obviously is extremely rare. The road is blocked by a huge gate and guarded by at least 5 officers, we had to go through security and we also saw a car coming in that had to be searched. It’s very secure. Can’t even express my excitement.

Downing Street is famous and is over three hundred years old. Sir Winston Churchill the First Lord of the Treasure lived there from 1951–1955. He is one of many well known orators to live in the house with about 90 rooms, just walking distance from St. Jame’s Palace.

Right after visiting Downing Street we walked by the Military Headquarters of London, I stood where the Queen will be for the Trooping of the Colour, or celebration of her birthday.
Many people while visiting Europe go to Buckingham Palace to watch the Guard Change. It’s a tradition that had been carried along for years, quite famous as there was TONS of people. We were BEHIND the gate. Again not many get this opportunity. It was an amazing opportunity, and a great show.

Walking out of the gate people were taking our pictures HAHAH it was like a paparazzi honestly it was hilarious because little did they know we are from small town Chadron. They thought we were famous or something. I felt famous! Guess my Professor just knows the right people! It’s funny knowing strangers have pictures of us!

Couldn't have had a better day! This experience made the trip for me. It was incredible!

Expanding My World

The last couple days have been so fantastic, oh my gosh.. (That's really all I've got, I'm just about speechless)

Sunday May 17th we spent most of the day in a coach driving around the most beautiful English country side on our way to Stonehenge and the Roman Baths.

Stonehenge was one of the things I was most excited for, I took enough pictures to last a life time!! And I cannot wait to show my mum! (;

There are many theories about how Stonehenge was actually built. One that we heard that specifically caught my interest was the idea that Aliens built it. Because of the size and weight of the rocks and distance from where the rocks are originally found and where they are strategically placed still today. They say it is a calendar and I like that idea. I have also been under the impression that the fixture was used for ceremonies, what kind still remains a mystery.  We were told many remains of humans have been found around and in the circle of the rocks. The fact that it is still a huge mystery is what just sucks me in! Definitely the sort of thing I am into, it’s so fascinating!

I’ll be honest before the visit I didn't know much about the Roman Baths. I sure did learn a lot! The roman bath served as a community and social function; to relax, keep clean and "keep up with the latest news". Also known for healing. The story we were told about the discovery of the warm "healing" water was that one of t one of the Roman Kings' sons (at the time) was extremely sick and so he was shun from their community. With his gross pigs he came across something like a pond, the pigs got in to rinse off when they wouldn't get out the man had to bribe them with acorns, finally when they came out of the water all their warts and gross things were gone. The man quickly got undressed and jumped in the water, just like he was "healed" from his illness.  The building is famous for the intricate engineering it took to build.
I am so happy I got the chance to visit something with so much meaningful history! Lucky for me I will never forget drinking the water. It was so warm, tasted dirty, but supposedly magic! Yuck!

Monday, May 18, 2015

I am bragging....

 That's me and Brittnie
                   I put on the bullet and knife proof Met vest!
(Gosh I look tiny.. TOUGH I mean!)
    There I am with the hat and truncheon!
               On the London Eye, we were so high the people looked like bugs and I felt like I could touch the plane!
 My roomie Rachel!
                                         Yup. Check me out! That's Stonehenge behind me!!!
                         This is a crescent shaped building we literally pulled over to look at! hahah!
                                        Check out that 18th century design... AAAMAZING
                                                         Above the Window it says ..
                                "The oldest house in Bath 1482, Sally Lunn lived here 1680"
                           That is part of what is left of the Mid Evil Wall... Yea.. I touched it!
                  The Roman Bath... healing or not the water was disgusting water. I could hardly finish a cup, and they used to drink pints before breakfast!! Yuck.
                                                   HAH, they park like this all over!!

I am seriously having the time of my life, it's so different then what I am familiar with, I am learning so much and realizing how truly sheltered I have been!

Big Ben Baby!!

On Saturday May 16th we went on two tours. One of the Houses of Parliament (oh my gosh!) and the other of Westminster Abbey (holy beautiful)!  

For obvious reasons we were not allowed to take pictures inside of either places. It's extremely sacred. 

Look how close I was! It was an amazing experience. The architecture of the building was spectacular!! And our tour guide was quite nice to look at. (: 

Parliament consists of the House of Commons and House of Lords. We learned that in there they make laws, decide taxes and sometimes scrutinize the Government. 
The history and length of time these ceremonies have been occurring and the tradition that continues just amazes me. Blows my  mind. 

And then the Westminster Abbey, my goodness. I'll be honest the beauty and history almost brought me to tears. 
The Gothic design of the Abbey is nothing like anything I have seen before. So much little detail on each and every inch. It’s truly breathtaking. Something I found extremely interesting here was the royalty that was buried inside the Chapel dating as far back as the 17th century! The memorials are sacred and still today treasured and admired. 
Below are a couple of my best shots! 

Lenient? Or Naw?!

On Friday May 15th we went on a Magistrate Court Visit.

We learned a magistrates' court is a lower level court (similar to our traffic courts) where all the criminal proceedings start. Also some civil matters are decided here, namely family proceedings. They have been trained to “swiftly” deliver justice. So the people arrested on Sunday will be in court on Monday. Honestly the one we sat in on was not “swift”! There are over 360 magistrates' courts in England and Wales.

Let me tell you a little bit of  what we saw…
Entering the court house, quite similar to ours we had to go through security and walk up some stairs. 

In the first session there was a gentleman accused of stealing 80 pounds worth of merchandise, with a record of about 90 other drug, alcohol and theft convictions they were determined to punish and attempt to rehabilitate. He had already been in prison for a week and was sentenced to four more weeks. From the day he was released he had six months to pay a fine and court costs totaling 280 pounds. This case was interesting in itself. But the next one is better.

The second session, a young female accused of public disorder plead guilty to 5 counts of assaulting 5 different police officers and also causing self-harm as she head butted the floor and cut open her forehead. Her defense claimed mental instability. With a criminal record of violence before the court ordered a doctor to take a look at her metal issues if any and then return to the court in five weeks to evaluate an appropriate sentence. I was specifically interested in this one because if this had happened in the United States she would have gotten at least 5 years per officer totaling 25 years in prison regardless of mental capability.
This case was interesting to me only because I was under the impression if you claim to have mental instabilities maybe she should have plead not guilty.. SO interesting! 

I really enjoyed this visit, I probably could have stayed all day and I learned a whole lot! 

186 Years of Progress

I've met the Met, how about you?!
I’ve said it once or twice, but I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to learn from Constable Richard Watson (the picture above). Just in time, I might add, because he is retiring this year! He is well known in London, so well that him and his wife received a personal invite to the Trooping of the Colour. Which for those reading that don’t know is a celebration for the Queen’s birthday.

On Thursday May 14th we went to the Metropolitan Police (Met) Mini Museum.  There we learned the history and development of the Police and their uniforms. Technically beginning in the 17th century with “Watchmen”. “Watchmen” were paid to guard gates of cemeteries and patrol the streets at night. In the 18th century because of social changes “Watchmen” were no longer sufficient. And so in 1829 Home Secretary Sir Robert Peel founded the Metropolitan Police Service, officers were then called “Peeler’s” and “Bobbies”, to me these are funny names, obviously created to give credit to Sir Robert Peel. Ten years later all police in London, except ironically the City of London Police, were under Met control.
The picture below is of me holding Sir Robert Peel’s cane, and again Constable Watson behind me.

How freaking cool is that?! Seriously.

In 1829 training to become a Met Police Officer took only twenty days, believe that?! 20 days!! Below the first picture is of the first Instruction Book issued to all officers. Tiny isn’t it? Below that one is a picture, kind of blurry, of the obviously improved Instruction Book issued in 1939. Now that’s more like it!!  

We were shown the first uniform, and things that were distributed to the paid “bobbies”. Things like hang cuffs with a key that you had turn about 8 times to lock; the first wooden truncheon; and the “Rattles” they used to make noise to get the attention of those around, when you heard this noise you were required to join the chase of the criminal, in 1885 those were replaced by a whistle. Let me tell you it is loud and would get the job done. In the mid-1960’s those were replaced by the first radio, many complained about the size and weight, I held one!!  I was also lucky and got to use their first form of the siren, it was NOT easy and extremely loud. I had to use all my might. Imagine the grief I received from that, hahah!!

Below is a picture of some of the first uniform Jacket’s. (I apologize for the glare.)

Now let's talk about us females! Women were finally invited to join the Metropolitan Police in 1919 beginning with only 25 recruits to fill spots of men drafted by the army. However they were not given a uniform nor handcuffs and had no power of arrest until 1923. Instead their duties consisted of caring for females, juveniles and children. Today there are over 8,000 women officers and they perform the same duties as the males.
Below is a picture of the changes in the women uniform over the years. The dates are kind of blurry starting in 1919 all the way to 2003.

While there I was introduced to the idea of a Police Box. Police Boxes were used between 1929 and 1970 to provide shelter for officer’s in bad weather and held a public telephone, there was a light on the top that let the officer’s know they were needed. The personal radio and the domestic telephone pushed the boxes out and by 1970 they were all removed.
Something else I learned while visiting was that here in London they use the 999 service, which is the oldest emergency telephone service in the world, but 911 works also, for us visiting Americans, “in-case you cannot remember 999” Constable Watson joked.

In addition I had the chance to see police notes on Jack the Ripper case! That was COOL!

This was definitely one of my most favorite stops! I learned so much!  

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Can you see what I see?!

The absolute beauty?! It's breathtaking.

 Just one side of the famous Windsor Castle. 
I have the best group. Turning friends into family.
The Sherlock Holmes Pub!
Great food and even better company!

We went to the London Zoo today.. here's just a few pictures. It was amazing!
Kangaroo, because I have never seen one in person until today!! How cool!! 
There was a baby gorilla born just last week, this isn't it or the mom but it's a great picture!
Who doesn't just love seeing Giraffe's?! I know I do! 
We are on the London Eye!! What an amazing experience!!
 We saw so much of London!! And it's only day 3!!
I cannot get enough!
So much walking!! But I can't complain!! 

I am already in LOVE with London.

It's only day three.
The culture.
The pubs.
The people.
The restaurants.
The food.
The entertainment.
The architecture!!
I could go on and on. Seems like London Life is essential. Like it's the place to be. People aren't rude but they don't say "Hi" like we do in America, they don't smile at each other like we do in America everyone is always very nice, it's just different.

We went to the London Zoo, rode the London Eye, and visited the London Dungeon. Needless to say I was exhausted by the end of the day! However, I truly enjoyed every minute. I am trying to soak everything in I can because our time is flying by!
On our way to the Zoo we walked through Regents Park, it was huge, so green and so beautiful. I'm from Wyoming, where everything is brown, so I LOVE the green grass. Hahah There was a team of some sort practicing. There were people playing with their dogs, there were people just sitting and reading. It seems like such a chill hangout. The trees were beautiful, and HUGE!
Even there trash cans are "classy". 
I just love it here!! 

Bikes. SO many bikes. I was almost hit by a bike last night. I'm glad I wasn't because those on bikes cruise!! Let me tell ya. The girls watched and laughed for probably an hour. They now tell me they are going to put me on a leash (feel the love?). Every time we go to cross a street they shout "watch out Brenna". It's going to make for a hilarious story.

I am looking forward to M & M World and Camden Town!!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Windsor Castle and St. George's Chapel.

First day here we went on a tour of Windsor Castle and St. George's Chapel, it was the most detailed and the most beautiful place of worship I have ever seen. I was taken back by the rich history and significant meaning it has to the Royal family.
Rumor has it when the flag is flying the Queen is present, and guess what?! The flag was flying when we were there!! How Cool!!

We were not allowed to take pictures of the inside but I will of course post the pictures I took very soon!
Something I found extremely interesting was the buried Royalty in the church. We were in the church walking over  the bodies of people that had died in 1750's, let that sink in. It was extremely touching.

I wouldn't mind living in a castle, I might get lost but hey that could be fun!! I am trying to think of words to describe the intricate art work and stone carvings. But to really understand I think you have to see it. The effort put in to building these places is essential, I am not surprised at all that it took 53 years to complete! 

Mary's Dollhouse is the biggest and most amazing dollhouse EVER. It was a gift from Queen Victoria to Queen Mary, and it is a replica of the Castle. Everything is set to scale, just you give you an idea the plates in the dollhouse are silver. The plumbing is even real. The paintings are from the Artist himself. I just can't imagine the amount of time or money spent. It is essential. And I am sure priceless. 

My most favorite Memorial in the Chapel was of Princess Charlotte, like I said we couldn't take a picture but it was of her with a gown covering her whole body and her fingers peaking out of the one side. It was after she had given birth to a still born and unfortunately she died also. The tour guide said this was actually pretty common. In the memorial she had two people mourning on each side of her. While above is her spirit rising to heaven with two Angels guiding her, one on each side. The one on the left carrying her baby. 

Leaving our first stop, I felt like this was an amazing opportunity that I will remember for a lifetime. 

What A Trip!!

We woke up to 10 inches of snow, I was worried we wouldn't make it. Just one of the things on my list to be worried about. I have never been to a different country. I was so nervous. After the plane being delayed just about an hour we made it to Minnesota, ate some Taco Bell (my absolute favorite) and got on the biggest plane I have ever been on. Huge but not comfortable, it was hard to sleep and after 8 hours I AM IN LONDON!!
It's beautiful. So different. And I am loving every minute!!

After such a long day, and the 7 hour time difference I slept like a baby.
Breakfast was different, to say the least but not bad at all! They have coffee, and honestly that's all I need. Paying for the coffee was interesting. I just put my hand out, full of change, and said "Can you help me?" hahah they look at my funny but are very patient. I am one happy American in London!
The shopping and the fashion seems more advanced. They are way ahead of us.
People  all over actually look at my funny. I am sure they know right away I am not from here. But even though I have only been here for a day I have already fallen in love with the London Lifestyle. I will be back, no doubt.