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Liverpool John Moores University

Here I am on the Roman Walls!

October 15th, 2016

Greetings from York England!

Ever since I decided to study abroad, I made it a goal to take up as many opportunities as I can; my trip to York was no different. This trip to York was FREE through the International Society at LJMU! Everyone on the trip was from different countries & not only was it incredibly fascinating to hear everyone’s stories and perspectives, but we also got to travel somewhere new together!

I spent the day exploring the enchanting city that was home to Roman walls and castles, lopsided stores and alleyways, and the European birth city of chocolate! There were dozens of chocolate shops and it was quite common to see crowds at the store’s windowsill because you could see delicious fudge being handcrafted right before your eyes.

I wanted to experience the most of my seven hours in York so I started by enjoying a traditional York Pudding. It was absolutely delicious but I found that York Pudding is everything you will find at a Thanksgiving meal (turkey, gravy, potato, string beans, mushrooms, and stuffing) but meshed together in a giant pastry! I also ate some York chocolate and a KitKat bar since York is where the KitKat was invented.

Beyond chocolate, York is known as a very old medieval city with a rich and haunting history. (Fun fact: York is the most haunted city in England!) In the afternoon I did a “Dungeon Tour” of York where the tour group of approximately twenty people and I became “peasants.” Similar to a haunted house, we moved room to room and learned about the haunting history of York such as the black plague and the witch trials.

The Clifford’s Tower was my favorite part of the day. It was exactly what I imagined a castle to look like but to see and touch it in person was unforgettable. Fun history facts: the tower was built in 1086 by William the Conqueror. However, over the many, many years of tragic events, the tower has been burned down and rebuilt dozens of times but much of it stands tall today. The Clifford Tower sits in the middle of the Roman Walls that surround it. The original structure of the wall goes back to the Roman period but the Danish Vikings destroyed most of the wall when they invaded York in AD 866.  The wall was rebuilt in the 13th and 14th century and that is what is remaining today! (I love history!)

York was a beautiful city with so much to offer. I would definitely recommend going if you are in the UK! I took tons of videos and pictures but sadly I didn’t properly save them :(. Ironically, the only video that was saved is me throwing a coin into a wishing well on the roof of Clifford’s Tower…I should have wished to never lose my videos, haha! Oh well, luckily I sent some pictures to my mum!

Thanks for following me & my adventures, until next time!

Signing off,

AmErica in Liverpool

SCSU at Big Ben

October 7th – 9th, 2016

September 14th – 25th, 2016

I can’t believe it’s been just over a week since I arrived to my new home! Everyday I’ve been enriched by the beauty of the city, the dynamic culture, and of course, brilliant English accents. (cheers mate!) In my short time here I can already see that Liverpool is a dynamic city that is perfect for university students. There are tons of free museums, art galleries, and restaurants, a very lively nightlife, and countless of food options to choose from.

I had the best Indian food the other night!

This past week I’ve been exploring the city with my 5 other flatmates, all from SCSU. We live in the same flat but we each have our own room and toilet (that’s what they call a bathroom!). We share a large kitchen & living room space where we find ourselves each evening drinking tea and chatting about our daily adventures, telling old stories, and playing cards. We’ve also made good friends with our neighbors, especially the flat above ours who are all lads from England, Ireland, and Wales! Their accents are sometimes hard to understand, especially scousers; which are Liverpool natives that speak a different and fast pace style of English. I find myself saying “I’m sorry, can you repeat that?” too many times throughout the day, but everyone here is so genuine and kind that they don’t mind repeating themselves.

As seen in my video, I’ve taken the bus numerous times to get to IM Marsh campus at John Moores University (I’ll post more about LJMU next week). So don’t worry, I’m not just here on holiday (vacation) for four months. My modules (classes) don’t start until Monday, September 26th! However, I had “Induction Week”, which is similar to new student orientation. I’ve been enrolling in my Event Management courses and learning the ropes of what it means to be a Uni student in Liverpool.

One thing, of many many things, that has surprised me was that I was going to be with Event Management freshers (freshmen) during Induction Week. Just like me, they are new to the city. It was a relief that I wasn’t just a blue fish standing out of water, well, until I say something and people realize I am an American!

Surprisingly, the most frequent question I’ve been asked is if I’ve seen celebrities!

I’ve made friends with people from all over the UK and they tell me how much they love my accent; how crazy is that?! Sometimes I feel like a celebrity because anytime I speak, all eyes turn to the “American in the room” but it gets better then that… When anyone asks where in America I am from, I say New York (sadly no one really knows where Connecticut is)  their eyes light up and smile instantly. I’ve noticed their excitement is not about where I am from but it’s that I’ve simply seen New York City before!

The majority of my blog posts will be featured via video. If you’re viewing/reading this post as a Southern Owl or LJMU student, and are interested in the exchange program, I hope you keep following me on this adventure! You can also email me anytime at ericasurgeary@gmail.com if you have questions.

 

Well, that’s it for now mates, until next week, wish me luck on my first week of modules!

 

Signing off,

– AmErica n’ Liverpool.

 

Mark McRiley, SCSU student studying at Liverpool John Moores University

Mark McRiley, M.P.H. ’12, was intrigued by the bumper sticker. So instead of rushing inside to place his order, the Southern alumnus stood outside of the Connecticut Dunkin’ Donuts and waited for the car’s driver to explain why the phrase, “I Administered Narcan to an Honor Student,” was plastered on his car.

Narcan — a drug generically known as Naloxone — is an opioid antagonist, meaning it counters the effects of opiates, including heroin, morphine, and oxycodone. It is used when an overdose is known or suspected, potentially saving lives in the process. “I explained that I was a nurse and that I wanted the story,” says McRiley. “He told me that he worked at a high school and had given Narcan to one of the students who had overdosed.”

Many, including McRiley, would argue that such firsthand accounts are highly illuminating, providing important insights about the issues affecting a community — in this case, everything from the increased use of opiates in the U.S. to available treatments for those who are addicted.  In January — armed with a full scholarship — he began a doctoral program in public health at England’s Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), which recently launched a trans-Atlantic partnership with Southern.

“Liverpool John Moores University’s Public Health Department is so strongly focused on social services — homelessness, opiate addiction, alcohol addiction, violence against women . . . It is incredible for me to have the opportunity to work with them,” says McRiley.

His research will cut across the Atlantic, focusing on long-term opiate addiction among people living in both New Haven and Liverpool, England. He will use photovoice, a participatory research technique that employs cameras and other photographic techniques to explore issues through the eyes of community members — in this case, those addicted to opiates. “We’ll be able to compare the two [populations] to see what the major hurdles are,” he says. “What are the influences? What are the risks for a relapse? What are the difficulties related to methadone use over time? How are people being treated by the community?”

McRiley will be supported by faculty at both institutions — Gordon Hay (his lead advisor) and Conan Leavey, both from LJMU’s Centre for Public Health, as well as Jean Breny, chair of the Department of Public Health at Southern. Four undergraduates from Southern also have been studying at LJMU this spring. Countless more ultimately will benefit from the initiative, which will offer courses taught by faculty members at both universities, in addition to more opportunities for students from SCSU and LJMU to travel abroad for study, research, and field work.

“I’m receiving a 100 percent scholarship — which is three years of tuition and essentially enough money to pay for my housing,” says McRiley. “I feel unbelievably lucky and extremely honored . . . to have the opportunity to work so intently on my own research. Who gets to do that?”

IMG_0578[4]smallThe experience promises to be life-changing personally and professionally, building on McRiley’s diverse resume, which includes experience in the film and television industry, nursing, international aid, teaching, and public health. “I grew up in LA, where everybody is supposed to be in the entertainment industry,” says McRiley, who took photography courses at City College. He found work in the industry, first in craft services and later as an emergency medical technician (EMT).  He worked on more than 30 Hollywood films and television shows, including “Van Helsing,” “Rush Hour” (I and II), “Roseanne,” and “The Family Man.” But while the projects were high profile, McRiley came to find the work unsatisfying.

“I realized I wasn’t using my brain. . . . I needed to go back to school,” he says. McRiley moved to New York City, and enrolled at the College of New Rochelle to study nursing. One of only a few men in the nursing program, he earned his B.S. in 2005 and soon become a critical care nurse at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, McRiley traveled to New Orleans with a group of doctors who set up a makeshift clinic at the Cajundome where about 7,000 displaced people were living. “I learned so much,” says McRiley, “but I came back totally changed. As a nurse dedicated to giving aid . . . this is where you want to be.”

With thoughts of working in international aid, McRiley enrolled in Southern’s graduate program in public health. For his master’s thesis, he researched the relationship between post-earthquake housing and health in Léogâne, Haiti. The city, located near the epicenter of the quake, had been devastated and many residents were still living in tents provided as emergency shelter. McRiley traveled to Haiti four times for his research. Using photovoice methodology, he gave 23 Haitian nursing students cameras to explore the issue. They then met as a community to discuss their images. “I would record their responses in Creole,” he explains, “asking them to tell me what I was looking at and why the photo was taken.”

Their issues included pollution, roaming livestock, garbage, lack of water, poor sanitation, and more. Armed with about 500 photos and their accompanying narratives, McRiley wrote his thesis. He met a few others working on similar projects, and together they connected with local city stakeholders. “Low and behold, one year later the trash was gone, the center of town was clean . . . water and electric infrastructure came through. . . .  It was terrific,” says McRiley, whose work was recognized with the 2012 Scholarship and Service Award from Southern’s Department of Public Health.

“The advantage of the photovoice methodology is that you are not just handing somebody a 50-page report. You are handing them 50 photographs that are taken by the people [most affected],” he says.  The researcher notes that today’s “selfie” culture is a tremendous boon for his upcoming research on opiate addiction. “I can collect through Instagram, Facebook, direct text, email. . . . My intention is to gather significantly more information than I have ever gathered before,” he says.

He and his doctoral advisors fully understand the potential power of such testimony. McRiley’s goals include creating a documentary on addiction. Looking further ahead, he envisions returning to Haiti — and again standing at the front of a college classroom. “I love everything about teaching,” says McRiley, who was an instructor in Southern’s Department of Public Health. Having resigned from that position and his 10-year post with Yale-New Haven Hospital  —“two terrific jobs,” he says — he notes with awe the trajectory his life has taken. “When I left Los Angeles before I went to nursing school, I was a roller-blading bartender,” he says. “Fifteen years later, I am entering a Ph.D. program.”

In spring 2016, the first group of students will cross the Atlantic to study abroad under a new agreement formalized Dec. 3 by Southern and Liverpool John Moores University.

This “Trans-Atlantic Alliance” will offer students the chance to take classes in both New Haven and Liverpool, England, as well as benefit from dual-taught undergraduate and graduate-level programs, delivered by LJMU and SCSU faculty members through video link and guest lectures.

SCSU President Mary Papazian and Edward Harcourt, LJMU’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement, formally signed the agreement in the foyer of Southern’s new science building.

“(LJMU) is an institution very much like ours,” Papazian told the New Haven Register. “This allows us to look at problems around sustainability, public health, health care management, business, creative writing from a variety of perspectives.”

Papazian predicted the partnership would be “a robust exchange, so many of our students have that chance to have that global experience.”

“It’s a great place, a safe place for our students to experience the world,” she said of the historic port city, home to the Beatles, the Cunard steamship line and Liverpool F.C., one of the world’s most well-known professional soccer clubs.

LJMU traces its roots back nearly 200 years to 1823 and the opening of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institute. Over the decades, the institute merged with other institutions to become Liverpool Polytechnic; traditionally providing training, education and research to the maritime industry, before earning university status in 1992. Now ranked among the top 400 universities world-wide, LJMU offers 250 degree courses to 25,000 students drawn from more than 100 countries.

This spring, four SCSU undergraduates with academic interests in business, wellness, geography and global health will be leaving for Liverpool to study abroad for a semester. They include senior Shayne O’Brien (pictured with President Papazian and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Harcourt), who plans a career as a glaciologist. Additionally, Mark McRiley, a graduate student from public health, also will be attending LJMU in 2016 to earn his Ph.D. on full scholarship. Several students from LJMU are also expected to be attending Southern.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

Harcourt told the Register that the Alliance was a “game-changer for both institutions.

“We’re very similar, very connected to our local regions,” he said. “What we looked for is aligning comparable interests and strengths.”

Liverpool also has smaller-scale partnerships with colleges in China and Malaysia, Harcourt said, but with Southern, “the big prize longer-term is, could we get to the point where we’re presenting a joint prospectus of master’s programs,” which would be unique and enticing to students in overseas markets.

On the home front, several academic departments have hosted classes or colleagues from Liverpool via videoconference or in person. In November, the nursing departments from the respective institutions participated in a symposium in which Assistant Professor Christine Denhup presented her research on parental bereavement following the death of a child, an area of mutual interest for both groups.

In late November, John Morrissey, senior lecturer in environmental geography, natural sciences and psychology at LJMU, spoke about “Enabling Sustainability Transitions in the Coastal Zone,” during Southern’s Department of Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences’ Geography Awareness Week.

And in October, the visit of former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent for the Dr. Joseph Panza Sport Management Lecture was broadcast live to LJMU so that sport management students there could participate and ask questions of the speaker.

More collaborations are forthcoming. During the most recent visit of the LJMU delegation, Tim Nichol, dean of the Liverpool Business School, met with SCSU School of Business colleagues (below) to discuss a wide range of potential initiatives. These include collaborative research and teaching, an MBA program in comparative healthcare offered by both institutions and a shared DBA that could be offered internationally.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

James Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies, is proposing a doctoral research project examining evidence of prehistoric hurricanes in the marshes of Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn., with a goal of plotting how the intensity of these storms have changed over thousands of years.

Tait has done extensive work researching and proposing solutions to beach erosion along Connecticut’s Long Island Sound shoreline in the wake of recent hurricanes. With SCSU geography colleague Elyse Zavar and faculty from LJMU, Tait recently visited Formby Point, home of the United Kingdom’s largest collection of sand dunes, an area that faces similar issues in the wake of violent storms.