Students walking on Abbey Road
Abbey Road Owls style

For anyone old enough to have a vinyl record album, the name Liverpool brings to mind the Fab Four, the Beatles, and the impact they and other British Invasion groups had on popular culture in the second half of the 20th century.

For those of us on the trip, although we couldn’t all name the four Beatles, we had heard of them from our grandparents and the occasional appearance of Paul McCartney on tv.

What we learned on the trip is the importance the Beatles had in bringing Liverpool out of the industrial era and into the 21st century as a cultural, event and tourism center for Great Britain. Although current Liverpool students listen to much the same music as American students, they all have a keen awareness of the role the Beatles played in Liverpool.

From visiting the Beatles Museum we learned that the group first played music that they call “skiffle” which was American folk music including instruments like the banjo. They were conscious of the folk traditions of the US and added their own interpretation to the music. But what made a bigger impression was the music of black artists from the US south and cities like Chicago and Memphis that made its way to the Liverpool shores via the influx of black American soldiers during World War II. The Blues and Gospel music and something called rock and roll made the biggest influence on the Beatles as evidenced in their earliest recording of songs by black artists. What the Beatles, and groups like the Rolling Stones, did was to introduce white America to the music of people like Little Richard, Chuck Berry and others who did not find a way to the mainstream audiences in America due to the segregationist attitudes in the US through the 1960’s.

Dr. deLisle tried to help us understand the influence of the Beatles by saying that if Taylor Swift, Beyonce,  Adele and Chris (Ed) Sheeran formed a band they still would not match the impact of the Beatles on American musical culture.

For one of our group members, Jim Russo, who graduated in 2015 and had participated in last year’s trip to Rome, his main motivation for joining the trip was to learn more about the Beatles and to see, hear and feel their presence in Liverpool.

Here is an excerpt from his journal:

I have been a Beatles fan since I was about six years old. I studied their entire history, and knew every song at a very young age. Ever since I can remember I have wanted to visit Liverpool, where The Beatles were born and became famous. I visited at Mathews Street, site of the Cavern Club, where The Beatles played their very first gigs together. I went to the Beatles Museum twice! Before I left for this trip, I told myself that I would try and experience as much as I could while I was in Liverpool. Who knows when I will be back? Being the obsessive fan that I am, I “googled”, where some very important people related to the band were buried around Liverpool. I found out that their manager, Brian Epstein, was buried in Everton Cemetery, just a few miles down the road from Mathews Street, where the Cavern is located. The visit became quite an adventure getting bogged down in the mud in the cemetery in a hired cab. It all worked out and I even found a second hand store where I was able to buy some 45 rpm records of Beatles songs that were never released in the US.

A final connection to the Beatles took place in our last days spent in London. At Jim’s urging we made an early morning trip to Abbey Road, the recording studio for the Beatles and the site of an iconic album cover that were looking forward to re-enacting.

For the group, learning about the Beatles was an unexpected and very fun part of the trip!

Our group was the guest of John Moores University at the Annual Grand National horse race at Aintree. It is a week of horse races, charity events and high fashion. It is a combination of the Kentucky Derby and a high school prom. Average citizens put on their best clothes and parade around the grounds usually with a pint of beer or glass of wine in hand. The races are exciting to watch and we did win a few quid on the races. But the greatest entertainment is watching the slow erosion of the crowd after a day of drinking in the afternoon sun. The local train authority actually hands out free flip flops to the women so that they can free themselves from their four inch stiletto heels in order to safely make it back to town on the trains.

As always, the faculty from LJMU were very wonderful hosts and provided us with a unique look at social life in Liverpool.

Betting takes place on everything – not just the horses!
A Soucer reading the race form and planning the bets!
The races are followed on the huge video screens.
The races are followed on the huge video screens.

We have been fortunate to spend two days touring the various museums that have contributed to Liverpool‘s status as a Culture Capital on Europe back in 2008. Most of the museums that we visited are open seven days a week and are free to residents and visitors.

We visited the Slavery Museum which helped us to understand the economic realities that lead to the 150 years of trade between Liverpool, West Africa, the Caribbean and the North American Colonies in the deplorable slave trade.

The Tate Museum of Modern Art challenged us to expand our understanding of what constitutes art.

The Liverpool Museum is the largest and most interactive of the museums in the city. From pre-historic times to our modern era, the development, growth and impact of Liverpool on the UK and the rest of the world is presented in a variety of interesting exhibits. Museums are the best way to learn the most about a city like Liverpool in a modern (and dry) setting.

The Liverpool Museum is a perfect example of how contemporary buildings have been added to the 17-18th century dockside scene.


A view of the transportation section of the Liverpool Museum.

After a few hours of museum hopping our reward was a trip on the Liverpool EYE. Many european cities have added a ferris wheel to their center city attractions. Despite the fear of heights that a few admitted to, we all took a spin on the wheel, getting a great panoramic view of the city.

The Liverpool Wheel – a great view of the city from a dizzying height!

We started our week with a workshop at John Moores University with a group of event management students. Our task was to create a cultural event to take place as students traveled together by ship across the Atlantic from Liverpool to New Haven. The event needed to include elements of each culture that we would like to share during the voyage. We learned of each others favorite foods, music and recreational preferences. What occurred was an hour and a half of learning about each other, finding common interests and learning new things from each other. It was time well spent that resulted in us making plans to meet later that evening for a night out in Liverpool. We had a great, late night out and made some new friends that we are sure to stay in touch with over the year. Many of the LJMU students are hoping to come to Southern for the fall semester!



Southern students stand in front of the John Moores statue on the streets of Liverpool.
SCSU meets John Moores on the streets of Liverpool

After a Hard Days Night, we landed in London not really knowing if it was 3 am (our time) or 8 am (Scouser time). We managed to get through customs without incident and made our way to the “Tube” to catch a train out of Euston Station, London.   A very pleasant two hour train ride brought us to Lime Street Station in Liverpool where we were met by our host, Drew Li, a faculty member at Liverpool John Moores University.

We arrived at Hatties Hostel on Mount Pleasant St. Our first experience of culture shock was the spartan environment of the hostel. The accommodations are minimal as we had to rent towels and the rooms are cramped at best. There were no mints on the pillows but we did find a zucchini wedged behind the door.

What we are sacrificing in creature comforts is more than compensated by the excellent central location of the hostel,close to all the major attractions and only a block from the Redmond Building of LJMU.

We are looking forward to a great week of new friendships and experiences here in Liverpool.

Women's Soccer

This entry was written by Christine Allard and Hannah Bodner.

Spain blog pic[5]Today was our last full day in Barcelona. Around 11 o’clock we ate breakfast and headed out to spend the day at the beach. Although it was a little cloudy when we first arrived, a few hours into the trip the sun came out and it was very nice. There were about 10 different beach volleyball courts set up and our team took full advantage of them. We were challenged by several different teams of Spaniards and had a blast while doing so. The water was extremely clear and there were lots of people walking around enjoying the beautiful day. We all ate lunch at a restaurant on the beach and left around 4 p.m to head back to the hotel.

The rest of the afternoon/night was spent cleaning and getting ready for the next morning’s departure. However, we did get to have one last dinner all together at a local Spanish restaurant. We were able to each pick from a variety of Spanish appetizers, entrees, and desserts. It was a great way to end the trip and reminisce on how great of an experience we all had.

While our time in Spain was nothing short of amazing, one unfortunate experience that definitely stuck out to everyone was the terrorist attack in Brussels. Being abroad while something like this happened was quite scary and really put everything into perspective. We were able to see firsthand how international security was stepped up around train stations, airports, and other public places. It was very inspiring to see the support for Brussels in Barcelona and throughout the rest of the world for that matter.

We are all truly grateful and appreciative of this amazing experience. On behalf of the team we want to thank everyone who supported this trip in any way. It was an experience that none of us will ever forget. Not only did we have a great time, but we also learned a lot about the Spanish culture and were able to appreciate and respect the many differences and similarities between American and Spanish culture.

Women's Soccer

This entry was written by Taylor Moore, Deanna Ryan and Taylor Bilyak.


We started the day off bright and early to breakfast where we were still amazed by the numerous selections offered. Shortly after, we got on the bus to start our day at Park Güell, which is named after Eusebi Güell. The architecture of this building is done by none other than Antoni Gaudí who was also responsible for the design and building of La Sagrada Familia, which we were able to tour yesterday. This construction was started in 1900 and was originally supposed to be land for estates of wealthy individuals, but the lack of transport because of the exclusive nature of the area made Güell halt the project in 1914. Then after his death, the city council bought the land and it was reopened as a park a couple years after. The view from the top was one unlike any other and it was almost as if you could see all of Barcelona from the top. It had a series of paths that seemed almost prehistoric in nature and it was all uphill to get to the highest points.

After our tour of Park Gueill, we participated in community service with therapy dogs. We were able to play with the dogs as well as learn how to train them with clickers and take them through agility obstacles, such as cones and hoops. We did team building drills with the dogs and amongst the team learned communication skills and how to work together. We also learned how many dogs are mistreated, but fortunately this foundation rescues many and gives them a better home. These therapy dogs are trained to go to hospitals, jails, help kids and many other different locations. These dogs provide a comfort for these people and are often very helpful in the recovery process. It was a great experience to learn about what therapy dogs do and the tremendous comfort they provide for people.

After our community service experience, we had a short break at the hotel before our tour of Barcelona’s stadium, Camp Nou. Personally, Camp Nou has been a place we have wanted to visit for so long and the fact it was finally here was something we couldn’t fathom or put into words. The view from the field to the box seats was something we can’t even describe knowing Messi, Neymar, Suarez and Piqué control each game on this pitch. It was also a very sad day and time for Barcelona because of the loss of its very own Johan Cruyff. He not only was the creator of the famous move, but a major influence to fútbollers around the world and it was a devastating loss for everyone.


Following that, we went back to the hotel for some downtime before getting Tapas at The Room for dinner, along with local beverages. There was a toast to the success of this trip and how grateful we are for the coaches and our tour guides for making this such a memorable trip. Our tables started to turn into a dance floor, so we decided to leave and go to the dance club that was arranged for us. It was called Opium and it played almost all American music, which we were very surprised about. It’s hard to think that the trip is coming to an end, but all good trips must come to an end. We are ready to enjoy our last full day and make the best out of it.


Women's Soccer

This entry was written by Maeghan Howard and Hannah Bodner

Day 6 – March 24, 2016

This morning the team woke up around 9:30am for breakfast at the hotel. The hotel breakfast, much like the last hotel in valencia, offers a wide selection of food and includes a chef who takes personal requests. After breakfast we had a team stretch, led by Coach Katie. Groans were heard all around as we were asked to reach to our toes. Everyone was visibly sore and tight from the tough and physical game we had played the night before.

After the stretch we all headed back up to our rooms, expecting to quickly get our wallets and bags and leave for shopping in downtown Barcelona. It did not go this smoothly, however, 13 of us piled into the elevator and we noticed a red flashing sign that read 800 kilograms. We had gone over the weight limit and as the elevator doors began to close, 2 of us managed to slip out. Despite our last minute effort to go under the weight limit, the doors shut and the red light remained on. 11 of us were stuck, our lives flashing before our eyes. About 8 minutes passed and we managed to pry open the doors before the fire department needed to be called to come save us.

With this traumatic experience behind us, we left for downtown Barcelona. Here we were given 4 hours to walk around, shop, and eat. Most of us were loured into small tourist shops with trinkets, magnets and soccer jerseys that we had planned to get for family and friends. Our favorite store, however, had to have been Nike. We walked in with wide eyes, many of us wishing we had taken more money off of our debit cards, some of us wishing we hadn’t. It’s safe to say that Nike had a good sales day as most of us walked out with either jackets or shoes.

After the Nike store we headed to the market area for lunch. The market has pretty much any kind of food you can imagine, which is perfect for our team’s wide variety of preferred tastes and foods. After eating lunch, most of us went to get the juice that can be found everywhere in the market. This is fresh fruit juice and comes in many different flavors, definitely one of the teams favorite parts of the market.

After the market we headed back to our hotel and most of us took a quick nap before we got ready for our game against Sant Andreu. When we got to the field we were excited and impressed to find that it was surrounded by stadium seating. Naturally we all took out our phones and recorded videos and snapchats to show our families and friends.

During the game our team was able to connect well together and play as one unit which helped us to come up with the result we were hoping for. It was a competitive game, but we were able to come out on top, with a score of 2-1 (goals from Caroline and Keri). Playing against 2 Spanish teams gave our team an experience that we are all extremely grateful for. Both teams were very technical and had a style of play that we have never played against. Playing against them was not only fun, but also taught us many things about the game.

After our game we went to the train station below our hotel and quickly ate dinner. I’m sure tonight we will all sleep well and wake up ready for the eventful day ahead of us.

Maeghan Howard and Hannah Bodner

Women's Soccer Blog in Spain

This entry was written by Erica Ridella and Caroline Staudle

Day 5 – March 23, 2016

Today started out with a beautiful sun shining through our hotel window as our first day in Barcelona began. We all went downstairs to be greeted by a magnificent breakfast. This breakfast had fresh fruits, all different kinds of breads, pastries, cereals, fresh fruit juice, and even PANCAKES! While sitting down eating our breakfast we met a little boy from Florida playing in an international tournament here. He was very excited to meet us and wanted to take a picture with all of us. We all met outside following breakfast to load the bus and head towards the center of Barcelona. Our first stop was taking a tour of Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, which is one of the biggest attractions in Barcelona. Basilica de la Sagrada Familia is a Catholic Church built by artist Antoni Gaudi that has been under construction since 1882 and is expected to be finished by 2026. The architecture of this church was inspired by nature, which can be seen from the pillars inside the church which look like trees to show there are strong religious roots. On the outside of the church, several stories of the Bible are told through the architecture. The pictures we took at Basilica de la Sagrada Familia really do not exemplify how beautiful the church really is in person.

Following our visit to Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, we headed over to a local market in search for our lunch. This market ranged from fresh meats, to fresh fruits, and empanadas. Most girls on the team got fresh fruit cups and empanadas for their lunch prior to our game. Once we finished at the market, we headed back to the hotel to rest up and get ready for our first match in Barcelona. Our game was played against Sant Gabriel. As we were on the bus headed to the game, everyone was excited to get on the field and see what the Spanish style of play was like. Before the game started we mingled with one another and Sant Gabriel gave us a banner, similar to what you see in professional international games. Sant Gabriel was very technical and quick on and off the ball, which we realized very fast. Unfortunately after a hard fought game, we came up short. Following the match we had the chance to thank Sant Gabriel and their fans for giving us this opportunity to play against them and learn from this experience. With all of us taking something away from this game, we loaded the bus to head back to the hotel where some people grabbed a quick bite for dinner. We are looking forward to an exciting day tomorrow and the opportunity to play another game.

Women's Soccer Blog in Spain

This entry was written by Aaliyah BusbyNicole Cronin and Mikaela Magee:

Today’s journey started with us getting together as a group for the last time in the Valencia Hotel at 11 a.m., to start our traveling day to Barcelona. We traveled for about 3.5 hours until we arrived at Sitges for lunch and sightseeing at the beach. We spent some time walking around looking at all the stores that were on the streets and looking for a good place we could stop and have lunch. We stopped at a local restaurant and sat outside where we took in the scenery of Sitges. Many girls stopped to get different souvenirs from street vendors. There were purses, and sunglasses but as typical soccer girls, we gravitated towards the Nike sneakers.

image4After, we headed to the beach and walked down towards the water to stick our feet in the ocean. Some girls went on the jetty to take pictures of the beautiful view that was in front of us. As we were walking around on the beach we met a group of English soccer players that were in Sitges for a school trip. As our conversation continued, they challenged us to a game of fútbol on the beach and we accepted. Once the coaches arrived we said goodbye to our new friends and headed towards the bus. We stopped for a quick snack and got gelato. We traveled for another hour until we finally arrived in the city of Barcelona.


Anticipation grew as we entered the futuristic hotel. From the moment you walk in you feel as though you are in a space shuttle. There are screens and pictures in the lobby that show what life in space would be like. The theme is modeled after the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey which came out in 1968.

Once we checked in, we all headed to our new rooms and got ready for our Ethiopian themed dinner. We sat low to the ground and ate with our hands like a traditional Ethiopian meal. Unlike the the previous dinners with a variety of courses, this meal included just one large main course. After finishing the delicious meal, for dessert we had a homemade chocolate brownie. After dinner we walked the streets of Barcelona back to the hotel where we had a quick team meeting to discuss the itinerary for the following day. We ended the night in excitement for the next day and our first game in Spain.