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Thanks to our membership in the LJMU International Society, we get the benefit of taking several free trips to locations throughout the UK. The first of these trips was to the northern city of York. Besides being the inspiration for “New York,” this city is full of history. Originally founded in the early first century, it is another reminder that English cities are much older than their United States counterparts.

York is just under two and a half hours away from Liverpool, to the Northeast. We travelled in a coach along with 40 other members of the International Society from all over the world. When the bus dropped us off, we were free to explore as we wished, and we had all day to do so. My flatmates and I set off on our own to discover what York had to offer.

As it turned out, York offered quite a bit. There was the architecture—gorgeous and intricate stone buildings from hundreds of years ago. In the center of the city towered the beautiful York Minster Cathedral, constructed between 1220 and 1472. Then there were “The Shambles,” a shopping district dating back to the 14th century. “The Shambles” resembled Diagon Alley from Harry Potter, with narrow streets and eclectic leaning buildings.

Aside from the historic architecture, there was also a good deal of natural beauty in York. In fact, one of the first sights we saw upon arriving was an exhibition showcasing many of the area’s native birds including owls and falcons. The city is home to two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss, and the bridges over them provided a great vantage point from which to view the tree lined riverbanks and the numerous rowers paddling along. Another great spot from which we could take in the natural and architectural sights was the city wall.

York, like many other medieval cities, was defended by a mighty stone wall surrounding it. Much of the wall remains from the 14th century when it was renovated. In fact, it has more wall than any other city in England. To end our day in York, we walked along a few miles of the wall, taking in the view of the city and the surrounding land. Unfortunately, by this late in the day, my camera had run out of battery so I couldn’t get any pictures, but it was a great perspective to see from. I felt immersed in the history of York as I walked along the same stretch of wall and looking at the same buildings that people have been walking along and seeing for hundreds of years.

The grandest of all, Buckingham Palace.

London is one of the world’s great cities, so it was a must for us to plan a trip down to see it while we’re here. On Friday night after we all had finished our classes, we took a two and a half hour train ride from Liverpool’s Lime Street Station to London’s Euston Station. From there, it was only a short walk to the hostel we were staying at. The great thing about studying in Europe is that if you take advantage of the public transportation and hostels, it is much more affordable to travel around than it is to travel from the United States, and the semester affords you plenty of opportunities to do so.

Despite the fact that Liverpool and London are both UK cities, they each have a completely unique character. Liverpool is a diverse port city, but London is the most diverse city in the world. Liverpool has a compact and easily navigable city center, while London has a larger land area than Los Angeles, and as many people as New York City. Liverpool has a history to be proud of, but London’s history is the history of the Western World; from its settlement by the Romans in the year 43 all the way up to today where it is still a center for culture, finance, and politics. We wanted to take in as much of this history as we possibly could in the 3 days we had available to us.

On Saturday morning, we woke bright and early to take advantage of the free walking tour that our hostel provided. This tour was entertaining, informative, and good exercise, as it lasted nearly 3 hours and covered all of the major tourist attractions in London. We saw several palaces including the grandest of them all, Buckingham Palace, home of her majesty the Queen. We also saw the Elizabeth Tower (home of Big Ben, which is actually the bell in the tower and not the tower or the clock itself), the Houses of Parliament, Trafalgar Square, Westminster Abbey, King’s Cross Station (where Harry Potter departs for Hogwarts from platform 9 ¾), and the River Thames.

After the tour ended, we continued on our own to see the Shard (the tallest building in the UK), the Tower Bridge, the Tower of London, and the London Eye. All-in-all, it was a busy and interesting day, filled with equal parts history and beautiful architecture.

On Sunday, having seen all of the major attractions, we decided to venture into some other areas of town. First, we went to Camden Market, a massive area of open air vendors selling all kinds of goods from intricate lamps to sweatshirts to foods from all over the world. After we spent a couple of hours there, we set out to find Abbey Road, home of the studio where The Beatles recorded many albums and the famous crosswalk which graced the cover of one of those albums. This was a bit out of the way, but it allowed us the opportunity to take a double decker bus and see many of the more residential and less touristy parts of the city. It also allowed us a great vantage point from which to see some of the many sports and luxury cars that Londoners drive around—from Lamborghinis and Ferraris to Aston Martins and Rolls Royces.

Later that night, my flatmates took a train back to Liverpool, but I stayed for one more night to catch a concert at the Royal Albert Hall. This venue was by far the nicest I’ve ever been in, and it is another wonderful example of the gorgeous architecture that London has to offer. Before the show, I spent a few hours in the Kensington and Chelsea Library doing my reading for the next day’s classes, and another hour or so enjoying the view of a rainbow from Hyde Park. All in all, it was a perfect way to end a wonderful trip. In those three days, I realized that London lives up to its reputation as a great city, but I also realized how much I appreciate Liverpool. When I got off the train back in Liverpool in the relative quiet of the early morning, I at once felt comfortable and at home. The streets of Liverpool are familiar to me, and I feel like I belong there, away from the hustle and bustle of a 24-hour city like London.

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

It has already been 19 days since I arrived in Liverpool, and with each passing day I feel more and more comfortable here. During my first week, I struggled with a brief bout of jet lag which saw me awake and asleep at all the wrong times, but I have long since conquered that. Overall, I have been able to adjust to life in a new city quite well.

During the first week I was here alone, so I explored the city by myself on foot. I was able to enjoy the great end-of-summer weather that there was in early September. I saw the waterfront and the Albert Dock, where I spent hours looking out across the River Mersey to the Wirral Peninsula on the other side and enjoying the breeze. I saw both of the huge cathedrals that the city is home to, the Metropolitan and the Anglican. I found my school, about a 15 minute walk from my residence accomodation. I found the Echo Arena. I found the Bombed Out Church from World War II. I found St. George’s Hall (which was used as a filming location for the upcoming Harry Potter spin-off) and dozens of other gorgeous buildings and landmarks.

As I explored the city, a wonderful thing began to happen. Rather than needing to use my phone as a map all of the time, I could recognize my location by sight and navigate through memory. It is an extrordinary thing to learn your way around in a new city, and it is one of the best ways to feel more at home in that city. Not feeling lost all of the time goes a long way toward not feeling out of place. Besides just learning the streets, there were a few other things which required getting used to. The money is different, they use many more coins here than in the U.S. They drive on the opposite side of the road, so I have to remember to look the opposite way when crossing the street. They use different terms, for example “Cheers” means thank you and they call courses “modules”, among many others. It is truly enjoyable to learn and adapt to these differences, and it gives me a great sense of appreciation for the culture of this place.

After a little over a week of living by myself, my flat-mates arrived. They are all fellow SCSU students, and they are all great people. Two of them, Erica Surgeary and Shannon O’Malley are also keeping blogs which you should check out as well. All of us get along great, and it is nice to have others in the same situation learning how to live in this great city together.

Our first major outing as a group was to a food festival in a local park. There were hundreds of stands with foods from all different cultures. I had the interesting opportunity to try a zebra burger which, somewhat surprisingly, was quite good. We have also gone to a pub in the city center to watch the Liverpool F.C. match versus Chelsea. There were hundreds of joyous Liverpool fans singing together as they defeated their competitors. This was a somewhat foreign environment for me personally as a Chelsea supporter, but it was impossible not to enjoy the electryfing environment.

The people here have been nothing but kind, welcoming, and helpful. I have already met and made friends with people from all over the UK, from Ireland, from the Netherlands, from Romania, from Hungary, from France, from Italy, from China, and from India, all come to study here in Liverpool. Indeed, Liverpool is a great student city. It is accessible, safe, cheap, and full of things to do. It is striking how similar we all are despite our different backgrounds, and the world feels just a little bit smaller for it.

Classes finally begin tomorrow, Monday the 26th of September, after a week of registration and introductory information. I am looking forward to studying Shakespeare, British literature, and fiction writing here at LJMU. I can’t wait to meet all of my professors and my classmates. Here’s to a good semester!

Chris Rowland

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.

 

Liverpool

My name is Erica Surgeary (yup, just like the operation). I am a senior majoring in Event Management. I am from Long Island, New York so I’m already used to traveling across open waters to go to school (haha). At SCSU I live on campus as a Resident Advisor, I am a Peer Mentor Coordinator, Orientation Ambassador, and a tour guide.

I am studying abroad in Liverpool, England from September 14th – January 6th. I will be an exchange student at Liverpool’s John Moores University. I will be sharing a suite/flat with five other SCSU students in a building called Capital Gate.

Livin n’ Liverpool
You say goodbye, & I say hello!

Wednesday’s occur 53 times a year, it’s the hump day of a long workweek, and it’s commonly known among teens as the day you wear pink. I’ve spent years of dreaming, months of planning, and days of counting down to this Wednesday.

Well, this Wednesday is finally here! On September 14th, I leave the owl’s nest for four months to study abroad in Liverpool, England for the fall semester! But, I’m not just studying abroad… I’m proud to say that I am a pioneer for Southern Connecticut State University’s student exchange program and Liverpool’s John Moores University.

Liverpool JMU

I’ve been waiting on standby for almost two years for this “Atlantic Crossing” program to take off.  Now, you may ask, why did I wait for fall semester of my senior year? (FYI, college really does fly by). Well, my insightful advisors in the Recreation, Sports, and Event Management department were the engineers of this exchange program. They put the pieces together and paved the runway for students like me to be the test pilots for this adventurous flight.

I’m feeling excited but nerves are kicking in. I am ambitious and optimistic. This experience will help challenge me to become more adventurous and live more independently. It still hasn’t settled in yet that I’ll be away for four months, but as my twin sister said, who studied abroad in Prague last semester, it will hit me when I arrive. (BTW Allee, my sister, has been the best resource & guide to me throughout all of this!)

In March 2016 I spent my spring break in Prague visiting Allee. We went to Vienna, Prague, and Budapest in 10 days. My short time in these three European cities gave me new perspectives. I was overly exhausted, my shoes were stuffed with band-aids and tissues from countless blisters on my feet, and we probably got lost twenty times, but it was the best trip I’ve ever had.

Office of International Education

So now I am thrilled to take these lessons learned into my own adventure abroad.  I will be joined by 5 other students from SCSU who are also test- piloting the program.  We really don’t know each well yet and we have different majors, but we decided to share a six-person suite. (Check out Chris’s blog too!).

Did I mention we each get our own room and bathroom??!!?!

In preparation for my flight, I returned home last week to Long Island, New York after spending my entire summer at SCSU working for New Student Orientation and interning with the Office of Student Involvement. I’ve been in the driver’s seat all summer steering the Peer Mentoring program in a new direction.  My summer experiences were challenging and incredibly rewarding (making it a million times harder to say goodbye).

But now, it’s time to say hello to OWL the places I’ll go!

*I’ll apologize in advance for the OWL puns… can you tell I’m in love with Southern?

Oh the Places You'll Go!

So like a hot air balloon, I’m going to hop on and ride across the pond. These next few months are filled with unknowns, but I can’t wait to see how much I’m going to learn and grow. Follow me along the way because this blog is intended for OWL WHOOO want to know what it’s like to liv across the sea and call Liverpool my home!

My adventure is waiting.  I’m on my way.  Bon voyage USA!

Signing off….
AmErica n’ Liverpool

It’s finally sinking in that I’m leaving home tomorrow. On Sunday, September 4th, 2016, I, Chris Rowland will be departing from the International Terminal of Boston’s Logan Airport. My destination: Liverpool, England. I am spending the first semester of my senior year away from SCSU studying at John Moore’s University. The past 6 months have been spent preparing myself for this journey: obtaining my passport, working with the OIE, securing funding, finding the best deals on airfare, etc. But until I started packing as much of my life as can fit into one suitcase and one carry-on backpack, it hasn’t felt real.

At this moment, I’d quickly like to thank anyone and everyone who has helped me to realize this dream of mine. My parents, family and friends for supporting my decision; the OIE for being so helpful in sorting out the details; and my friends at the School of Business who helped me to afford it. This blog is dedicated to all of you because without you all I certainly wouldn’t be about to embark on this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Now, I must confess that as excited as I am at all of the prospects which await me overseas, I am equally as nervous. I have never been out of the United Staes before except for a brief foray into Canada, and therefore I honestly don’t know what to expect. I’ve read countless articles online about others’ experiences with study abroad, the culture of Liverpool and the UK, and tips for traveling in general, but until I touch down in a foreign land where I know no one, I am a ball of nerves.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean final exam nervous dread, it’s more of a before the big game excited nervous energy. The chance to trace the Beatles’ footsteps, to feel the buzz of a football (soccer) stadium on matchday, and to study British Literature in its native land all await me, and I can’t wait to experience it and more. I also can’t wait to share it with you all through this blog. By my next entry, I will be in Liverpool, and I look forward to bringing you along with me. Until then, I hope everyone has a safe and productive start to their semester.

Wish me luck,
Chris

Museum of Amsterdam

By Rebecca Weinberger

You may or may not already know, but Amsterdam is one of the most fascinating places to visit. Why? Amsterdam is rich in culture, historical monuments, and politics.

Today in class we focused a lot on religion and politics in the Netherlands. Our guest speaker, David J. Bos, Ph.D., took us on a journey through the history of Amsterdam. Some interesting aspects I learned were the differences between religions, and how religion plays a major part in today’s votes for office, such as parliament. Pillarization (a separation of society) still takes place even today. In comparison, one might look at the requests catholic, orthodox protestant, socialists, and liberal protestants made when demanding that their religion deserve the most privileges – good education, health care, and media were the aspects each religion had most in common. Throughout the ages, segregation and religious battles continued. Today anyone can vote for parliament, providences, and the European parliament.

Amsterdam has come a long way from hundreds of years ago. After class we winded down and ate a short lunch in the University of Amsterdam’s cafeteria. Later, we visited the Museum of Amsterdam. There were audio recordings, which talked about the history of Amsterdam, as well as rooms that depicted modernized culture and artwork. Spoiler alert! Inside the museum are many artifacts and knowledge about gay heritage, and the effects of Amsterdam’s drug and brothel culture. As the night ended, we came together as a group and chatted in the courtyard of our dormitory, then took a walk to get a “late night” snack near the infamous Red Light district.