London Archives - St. Stephen's University

A Break from My Comfortable Reality

By | 2017, Europe | No Comments

At the beginning of our trip, we discussed the idea of liminal space, and how we would be taking a break from our comfortable reality. In travelling, we are suspending ourselves from our everyday experiences, to instead, learn in an experiential way. We have been given the opportunity to experience things that wouldn’t be as easily understood, if it had been taught in a classroom. This style of learning is what makes the knowledge gained more meaningful, tangible, and unique. Considering all of the sites and cities we’ve visitedand everything that we’ve learned and experienced, we’ve come to understand that breaking from our reality iboth substantial and valuable. 

Memorable is the time we rode the crowded London underground, to visit the British Museum. Where we viewed the unimaginably vast collection of ancient artifacts and paintings, that helped me establish a better appreciation for history interacting through art. Travelling through the outskirts of Barcelonawe visited Montserrat where my close friend and I had the chance to climb the serrated mountainside. In this experience, I gained a clearer appreciation for life. Something often obtained in good company, with a breathtaking view of natures grandeur. 

After this, we traveled to Rome, where we walked through the historic site of the Roman Forum. Surrounded by the ruins of ancient architecture, in a city that is so modern, reminds me how far humanity has come, without being able to forget how much further we still have to goIn Perugiaentering the remains of the city’s historic castle, we learned about its captivating history. Having been preserved and embracedthis history now shapes its future generations.

It wasn’t until I was walking through Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial in Vienna, that I had looked down at my feet, and realized the places I’ve been over the last six weeks. Experiential learning gave us this opportunity to be so immersed within culture and history, and it will continue to change our intentionality about the way we live our lives. Having travelled  outside the comfort of my previous reality, I discovered that what I’ve learned has expanded my worldview so much, that when I return back home, my reality will be different.

Me standing on the cobblestone of the Mauthausen Concentration Camp Memorial.

Travelling Well

By | 2017, Europe | No Comments

I’ve been learning a lot about tourism and the different effects that it has on the local people of each region. This trip to Europe has shown me that there are both pros and cons to the growing convenience of travel. There is a stark contrast between well known tourist destinations and other cities that are off the beaten path.

While London, Rome, and Barcelona are packed with fascinating historical and cultural icons, I have heard from locals and I have felt as a tourist myself that the identities of the people of these famous cities have been altered due to the impact of tourists. Catering to herds of tourists each day has stretched the patience of some, and being confronted with homemade posters saying “Tourists, go home” has left me pondering some bigger questions about intercultural competence.

In these classic tourist areas, I can see that it is important to be respectful and aware that while, yes, Westminster Abbey is amazing, there are busy local people also sharing the same sidewalk! To me, travelling well has become a balance of taking in the sights and sounds of each place while practicing blending in with the local rhythms of daily life. I am still working on the skills it takes to be a better tourist, but it is exciting to take steps in the right direction.

Holding On

By | 2016, Europe | No Comments

While in London the girls and I were walking through the city and stumbled upon this graveyard. At first glance it was just locks entangled in ribbons linked onto a fence, we had no idea what we were looking at really. Then this lady showed up and I tried to ask her what it was all about, she told me to follow her, so we did. We ended up getting an exclusive tour around this graveyard that seldom gives tours. This graveyard ended up being a place of burial for those who would not have had any other place to go, it was mainly prostitutes and the poor. The site went uncharted for years, until they started digging for the Tube, when they unearthed the bodies; they were unsure what to do. Then an organization bloomed and saved the graveyard and is now kept up by a man and his wife, who named the place Crossbones Graveyard. They have decorated the graveyard quite nicely, and the aforementioned ribbons are for people who come to visit in the present and they leave behind mementos of lost loved ones. I was really able to connect with my buddy Carter there, which was nice. They had a two by four at the back of the garden labeled, FOR ALL SUICIDES, Carter’s life was taken by depression a year after we had graduated and on this two by four in London Carter’s name will forever be. It is really beautiful that this man has held on to this area and fought for it so strongly. He didn’t know anyone who was buried there, but he still saw the importance of holding on to this place.

Pick your art, I like mine live

By | 2016, Europe | One Comment

London is an incredible city, known for many things, such as the theatre culture that exists. I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Phantom of the Opera, which has been playing in London for over 20 years. This is one of the many musicals that calls London home, as one could attend a different theatre performance every night for a month and still not see all that London has to offer. The theatre life is a source of evening entertainment for many people, as each theatre holds several hundred people if not a thousand.

It has been my dream to attend the Phantom of the Opera and I was willing to pay whatever it cost. It was worth every penny, as the play came alive through all of the different songs and performers who act out the roles with everything they have. The musical was spectacular and a vast contrast to the types of art that we explored in London during the day. I consider museums and art galleries to be filled with dead art and musicals and plays to be filled with live art. There are so many different types of art in the city that there is something there for everyone. I really enjoyed my time in London, and would gladly go back to have another experience of the rich culture that exists.