Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Cambridge -- Closing ceremonies

Hey everybody-

Today we turned in our final paper, marking the beginning of our summer vacation...or is it the end? Without a doubt, this summer has been an enjoyable one, and the opportunity to experience new people and cultures has been unforgettable. Carleton is known for its study abroad programs and it is clear as to why many Carleton students take advantage of them.

Tonight we will have a group dinner at Brown's and will begin to move out of Hughes Hall tonight and tomorrow. I've had a great time getting to know the students in this program and each member has had his or her unique experience that they cannot wait to share with you in person.

So, thanks for reading the blog and I hope it was helpful. We are excited to set foot on American soil, eat buffalo wings and have ice cold drinks. We will see you soon.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hughes Hall -- Week 7 (Aug. 6 - Aug. 12)

Happy Reading Days!

As mentioned before in a previous post, the academic portion of our program will wrap up this Tuesday when we turn in two final papers and a visualization exercise, as well as take a final test. Then, on Wednesday we have our final group dinner in which the program will wrap-up. After that, it's home to all of you -- unless your family member/friend likes it over here, in which case they will spend a little more time (and ask for a little bit more money) travelling around Europe. I plan on making one brief post next week to wrap up it up as well (probably Wednesday during the day before our group dinner).

This past week marked the end of our final lectures in the classroom. Once again, it was a fairly normal week with class on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with an excursion on Wednesday. On Tuesday, we had an alum, Jeff Severts ('92), come speak to us in our classroom. Severts is involved with marketing for the Best Buy Europe project and it was insightful to hear his take on how a 'brick and mortar' type store can compete against an increasingly competitive market.

This week, our Wednesday excursion took us to Oxford where we could walk around 'the other place' during the morning. After lunch, we took a trip to Hook Norton to tour the Hook Norton Brewery. On the tour it was interesting to learn about how the brewing industry made an impact during the rise of industry in the mid 19th century in the United Kingdom. As you may recall, we also toured sites that were key to three industries (iron, textiles, and pottery) on our trip to Shrewsbury a couple of weeks ago.
Having lunch at the Sun Inn in Hook Norton

Showing off the steam engine in the Hook Norton Brewery Tour
Perhaps the most entertaining news of these past couple weeks is the majority of our group have become severely ill -- with Olympic fever. With a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take a short train ride to the hub of the sporting world, many students have taken advantage of it. Although no one can make it to every event, the students on our program have been to a wide variety of sport. Here's some pictures to recap:

Taylor Hanson ('14) and Danny Geiger ('14) could be seen on NBC watching the eventual gold medalist duo of May-Treanor/Walsh take on Austria in beach volleyball. Also, I misspelled Hanson's name in an earlier post so my apologies, but it's a difficult name to spell because you have to guess on Taylor/Tayler and Hanson/Hansen. I went 50/50 and got it wrong. Good news is we learn from our mistakes. Let's move on.

Carleton was heavily representing the USA while watching the US women's soccer (football) team defeat Japan for the gold medal. 

The following day, a group of Carleton students went to watch the men's soccer bronze medal match between South Korea and Japan
While visiting Shrewsbury, a group of Carleton students got their hands on tickets to watch the USA play Great Britain in men's basketball. Although the game was only an exhibition event for the Olympics, it was very entertaining to watch live. In fact, various members of the USA team have ran into Carls at other Olympic events. NBA stars such as Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and Kobe Bryant have all brushed shoulders with Carleton students. They tried to get a picture with us but our publicist wouldn't let them.

Independent Travel Week

Hey everybody-

Here is the much anticipated 'Travel Week' post. There is good news and bad news. The bad news is we only received two entries from students who travelled together. In our group's defense, this weekend is quite busy academically-speaking. We have a two final papers, a final, and a visualization exercise due on Tuesday. However, the good news is that if you cannot find you're favorite family member/friend in the following two entries, you have an excuse to pester them with questions about their adventures. So have at it.

Six of us split travel week between Barcelona and Amsterdam. The first half of our trip was very relaxing, as we visited the beach for at least part of every day. When we weren't stuffing ourselves with delicious Spanish food and drink, we toured the Sagrada Familia and saw other sights in the city, like Park Guell and La Rambla. On Wednesday we flew to the Netherlands and settled into the houseboat that we had rented just outside the city. It was a tight squeeze, but we were glad to have our own place. Over the next few days, we rented bikes and cruised through the Vondelpark and along the canals, and visited the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank House. We had an amazing time, and made it back to Cambridge safe and sound by Sunday.

-Katie Claiborne ('13), Mike Chappell ('14), Simon Johansen ('14), Andrew Tiano ('13), Seth Althauser ('13), Travis Nordgaard ('13)

The crew in Barcelona.

We had seven people in our group however we ran into members of our program on more than one occasion. First, we met up with Katherine Greenberg ('14) and her family in Prague. Graciously, the Greenbergs took us out for dinner one night and it was a lot fun getting to know Katherine's parents and her little sister. After a one day stay in Vienna, we decided it would be a good idea to miss our overnight train to Venice. Just kidding, we didn't plan on missing the train, but it still happened. Somehow, we were able to catch up with our overnight train at a different stop. In Venice, we unexpectedly bumped into Danny Geiger ('14) and Taylor Hansen ('14) and had lunch. Following Venice, we traveled to Florence and Pisa to check out Michelangelo's Statue of David and the Leaning Tower of Pisa, respectively. Finally, we arrived in Rome. We spent the final three days of our travel week in Rome exploring the city, seeing such historical landmarks as the Roman Coliseum and the Vatican. In Rome, we also met up with Cody Young ('14) for a brief period. It was a hectic week of travel -- we went from the gorgeous city of Prague to the history of Rome, yet I don't think we made it on one train without having to run.

-Max Timm ('13), Andy Zweber ('13), Miami Austin ('13), 'It's a 5-10 min. walk' Elder ('13), Josh Estes ('14), Jens Lillehei ('13), Ben Truax ('14)

Outside the Vatican in Rome

Monday, August 6, 2012

Hughes Hall -- Week 6 (July 30 - August 5)

After a hectic and exciting week of travel it was time to get back to business at Hughes Hall. It was a regular week by all accounts -- we had two class periods on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday as well as an excursion to London on Wednesday.

The travel week accounts have been slowly coming in yet I am waiting for a few more so I can publish everybody's travel week accounts on one posting. We had a busy academic week with a paper regarding the Shrewsbury trip and we are also beginning to prepare for the final papers or exams in our remaining two classes so reminiscing about their epic weeks was (understandably) not everybody's top priority. Since we have only one small assignment due this week that focuses on the picture project we completed during travel week, I will be more persistent in asking people to get their summaries in. Translation: I will be more annoying than a confused fly that can't find it's way out of a Hughes Hall dormitory.

On Wednesday we caught the earliest train to London in order to be on time to visit Matt Thomas at Barclay's. Although we visited Barclay's John Winter earlier in the program, the visit with Thomas was quite different. First, we got Krispy Kreme (remember those?) doughnuts for breakfast along with the usual coffee or tea. More importantly, we were also able to listen to Thomas as he discussed his experience in financial research. Thomas, who is relatively new at Barclay's since he's only been at the company for six weeks, specializes in the Russian energy market. Along with learning the ins and outs of financial research, it was also cool to listen to how Thomas and his associates took a meandering path into the financial industry. For example, out of Carleton Thomas was really interested in eastern culture so he began taking Russian language classes before moving out there during the time when the Soviet Union was collapsing. In short, opportunities came and the ability to learn-on-the-fly helped immensely as Matt finds himself with a job he enjoys today.

In the afternoon we went on a tour of Parliament. Unfortunately we could not take pictures once we were in the venue but we were able to see the House of Commons and House of Lords. Although I do not have photographic evidence, the tour had fantastic sights and it is worthwhile to see. 

We had to catch the 6am train ride to London. For a large group of us, this meant waking up at 5:45 and running to the train station. As soon as we got on the train we decided to scrap our dignity for the sake of not smelling like body odor for the next twelve hours and let our dress shirts (and ourselves) air out before we got into London. Needless to say, our train car was not popular with the regular commuters. 
Lauren Linde ('14), Travis Norgaard ('13) and Andrew Tiano ('13) pose stylistically outside Barclay's at Canary Wharf.  

Checking out the personalized ID cards handed out at Parliament.

Walking into the beginning of the Parliament tour, Big Ben is in the upper left. 

Another interesting aspect of the trip was to see London for the first time after the Olympics had started. If you recall, we started the program in London for three days. Along with the beefed up security and Olympic officials seemingly at every street corner, the city is also much cleaner than it was only a couple months ago. The tube system, which was feared to be log-jammed with spectators throughout the entire span of the Olympics was not bad at all. They even replaced most of the trains though the design is not complimentary to anybody over 6'2''. 

This past weekend (along with the weekend upcoming) many members of our program will take advantage of being only a short train ride away from the Summer Olympics. Events that have been attended include men's basketball, football (soccer), beach volleyball, judo, volleyball, and table tennis. 

Hopefully the travel accounts will come in soon but until then, have a great week.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Shrewsbury -- Week 4 (June 16-June 22)

Hey everybody-

Sorry for not posting last week. I forgot my laptop as I hastily packed last Saturday attempting to not miss my train. The good news is we barely made the train to Stansted airport and didn't miss our flight. The bad news is you guys had to wait another week before another exciting, riveting, and well-written blog entry was posted.

More good news! We all made it back from our independent travel week alive and well! It's nice to be back in Cambridge after bouncing around the continent for the week. Cambridge has a lot of perks compared to staying in cheap hostels from night to night. Specifically, we can do laundry, cook our own meals, and sleep in a bed without worrying about bed bugs. I've sent out e-mails to the larger student groups that traveled together asking them to write a brief summary of their adventures and will make a posting about their travels later on.

For this blog entry, I will be discussing about our trip to Shrewsbury two weeks ago. We had a normal class day on Monday before departing for Shrewsbury on Tuesday. During this trip we spent three days (Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) visiting three different historical industrial sites that coincides with our course about the Industrial Revolution. On Thursday, we have a three-page paper due in which we have to write about our economic observations from one of these three sites and discuss why they were important to the Industrial Revolution. The trip was interesting and like nothing I have ever experienced before with Carleton course because although there are field trips from time to time, I have never had the opportunity to experience outside the classroom what we are learning about inside the classroom for an extended period of time, which was a great change of pace.

Our hotel we stayed at during our stay in Shrewsbury. Fortunate for us, there was a fantastic complimentary breakfast and we also did not have to pay for lunch. This allowed our wallets to remain fat before travel week and kept us from eating PB&J sandwiches three times a day.

Wednesday: Iron Industry
In the morning, we visited the Coalbrookdale Musuem of Iron where we learned about Abraham Darby's advances in casting iron, such as using cooked coal (coke) as the fuel put in the blast furnance to make pure iron as opposed to charcoal from wood, which was harder to acquire. At this site, we were actually able to view Darby's blast furnance and throughout the tour we were able to get a sense of how these advancements shaped the rise of iron in the late 18th century and 19th century. Before lunch, we were also able to walk across the famed Iron Bridge, which was a pretty impressive structure made from the iron produced in Coalbrookdale. Our last stop was at Blists Hill Victorian Town. At this site we saw what life was life back in the Victorian Age. More importantly, we also impressed the school children at the carnival games by showing them how fast and accurate we can throw a rock at a coconut.

Our tour guide pointing out how the melted iron came out of the blast furnance.

Andrew Tiano ('13) taking part in the wilder side of Victorian town.

Thursday: Pottery Industry
In the morning, we visited Gladstone Pottery Musuem. This site is the only complete Victorian pottery factory from the times when coal-burning kilns made world-class bone china. After the effects of burning coal was too much for the surrounding environment to handle, many of these factories were at least partially destroyed so it was really cool walking around the cobblestone factory and learning about the process of producing pottery in the Victorian Age. From there, we stopped over to visit the Wedgewood Visitor Centre in Straffordshire. In contrast to the morning tour, at Wedgewood we saw how pottery is produced in modern times. During that tour, we were able to hold some very expensive pottery, some of which was valued at upwards of £800.

At the Gladstone Pottery Musuem we were able to view demonstrations from mulitple facets of the production process. In this picture we watched as our demonstrator made incredibly intricate flowers in less than a minute.

Outside the Wedgewood Visitor Centre. I was too afraid to take a picture in the factory we toured because there was a chance if I made any sudden movements I could knock over some pottery that was worth more than the money I have in my bank account.
Friday: Textile Industry
On Friday we visited the Quarry Bank Mill near Manchester. Founded by Samuel Greg in 1784, the mill is now a musuem dedicated to informing its visitors about the cotton industry and textile production during the Industrial Revolution. Along with touring the old mill and seeing how textiles were produced (The factory did not close until the 1950's) we were also able to look around the old apprentice house in which young children lived in less than ideal conditions.
Inside the Apprentice House at the Quarry Bank Mill. Although they were able to eat as much porridge as the could, the working hours were long and the living conditions were difficult.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Hughes Hall -- Week 3 in Cambridge (July 9- July 15)

Hey everybody-

We arrived in Shrewsbury yesterday for a three-day visit to key sites that were a part of the Industrial Revolution in Britain. This visit coincides with the course ECON 222: The Industrial Revolution in Britain. But more on that next week.

Last week we bid farewell to our fearless leader, Mike Hemesath, as he departed for his new job as President of St. John's University last Wednesday afternoon. After three years of being associated with Carleton College and the Economics department, I have only heard great things about Mike from my peers. They speak to his flexibility, integrity, and congeniality which will serve him well at his new job -- and our experience with him was no different. I believe I can speak for everyone in our study abroad program and say that we were proud to be part of Mike's final lecture as a member of the Carleton community. St. John's University is fortunate to have him and we wish him luck in the future. If you are interested in Mike's ascent from Carleton professor to SJU here are two links (one from an article in The Carletonian and the other from a press release on St. John's website) that gives more information:

The Carletonian


Mike's celebratory last dinner/Steve's celebratory first dinner in the Hughes Hall Dining Area

Our fearless leader, Mike Hemesath, showing us the road to success (or, more literally, where Hughes Hall is on the first day we arrived).

Replacing Hemesath for the duration of the program is Professor Steve Strand who, accompanied by his wife Dana (a French professor at Carleton), has taken multiple groups on the Cambridge program in the past. Strand will be in charge of teaching the aforementioned Industrial Revolution course as well as finish the Keynes course. 

Along with transitioning between professors and starting the Industrial Revolution course last week, we also took an excursion to communities neighboring Cambridge such as the Island of Ely, St. Edmund and Lavenham. Janet, our entertaining tour guide that we had been introduced to during the walking tour of Cambridge, was back on the microphone and informing us (in her unique, storytelling way) about the background of the sites we visited. We finished our tour in Lavenham, a town which has historical significance in our ECON 222 class. 
Janet tossing out some knowledge about monuments surrounding Cambridge

This is the Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial that remembers Americans who lost their lives in WWI and WWII. To the left is a grave that has a Cross or Star of David for the people who are buried there.

Ben Truax ('14) practicing laying in a coffin at Janet's request inside Ely Cathedral. I apologize for the picture quality it was dark inside. Fun Fact: Ely Cathedral is where they filmed the 'Westminster Abbey Rehearsal Scene' for the
 film The King's Speech.

The garden in front of Bury St Edmund Abbey

Our last destination at The Swan in Lavenham for tea and scones. David Stillerman ('14) set the pace by eating 17 scones in one sitting.

Since we are in Shrewsbury this week and next week is independent travel week, there may be a delay in posts regarding trips that groups of students took (both last weekend and in the coming week). Last weekend, a large group of students went whitewater rafting in Scotland, some got trapped in the Netherlands, and other, more responsible, students stayed in Cambridge and visited some sites while studying for the ECON 224: Multinational final we took on Monday. However, I do plan on posting about our trip to Shrewsbury early next week when I will be in Prague (or Austria..who knows?).

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Weekend Trips (July 6-July 8)

Here are last weekend's adventures told by those who went:

We traveled to Rome, Italy this past weekend. We spent a lot of our time sampling the local cuisine, including gelato, prosciutto, pizza, and pasta. Morgan Murphy ('13) ate an entire ball of mozzarella cheese in an impressive time of five minutes. In between our meals, we saw all of the major sights, such as the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, and Vatican. We also met up with another Carl, Alex Voorhees ('13), and an alum, Troy Samuels ('11).

David Stillerman ('14), Joey Pedtke ('14), Morgan Murphy ('13) and Nate Grant ('14)

Pedtke, Stillerman, Murphy, Grant and Voorhees

We went to Scotland FridaySaturday, and Sunday of last week. We stayed in a hostel that was about a 15 minute walk from the center of the city. There was a small area of the city that was relatively cosmopolitan and modern, but most of the buildings were old stone or brick. We visited St. Giles Cathedral, the Scottish Parliament, walked along the Royal Mile, and hiked to the top of Arthur's Seat (an old volcano outside of the city). There are a number of other monuments and sights to see that are interspersed within the city that we also visited. Unfortunately it rained for most of the weekend, and once we got to the top of Arthur's Seat we couldn't see anything because the fog was so thick.

Edinburgh castle is visible from most parts of the city, and it sits on the core of an old volcano above the other buildings. We never made it into the castle due to the rain and expensive admission, but the views from the outside are enjoyable. The castle used to be partially surrounded by a lake, but it has since been drained, and now it is a large park. They have also erected a soccer stadium fairly close to the castle for the olympics, and there is a huge set of olympic rings near the castle. Besides the castle, the other thing that we missed out on when we were there was eating haggis, but none of us are too sad about that.

On the way back we stopped at Berwick-upon-Tweed, which the northernmost city in England (~10 minutes from Scotland). It's mostly a fishing village and tourist site now, but it has a large old fortress and walls that were built to keep out the (constantly) invading armies. The city changed hands numerous times (more than a dozen), the last time in the 1482. Because of the constant fighting, the city was not technically a part of Scotland or England until the 1700s.

Simon Johansen ('14), Mike Chappell ('14), Seth Althauser ('13)

St. Giles Cathedral

Arthur's Seat

Outside the Scottish Parliament

A piece of trash that looks oddly like the UK

The Olympic rings and the castle

On Sunday, Cody and I got up bright and early (depending on your definition of "bright and early") to head off to Stonehenge. Stonehenge is located near Salisbury, which is west of London. Using our BritRail passes we took a train from Cambridge into King's Cross, and from there journeyed to Waterloo station where we caught a train to Salisbury, and a bus from there to Stonehenge.
The Monument of Stonehenge was truly amazing. Our bus tickets included the price of admission and an audio guide. The audio guide really made the whole experience more enriching. When the audio guide mentioned that over 1/3rd of each stone is still buried to anchor it, I was impressed. Also fascinating were the myths surrounding Stonehenge's construction and purpose. 
While walking around Stonehenge, I was struck by how beautiful the countryside was. The green grass of the rolling plain and the cool breeze made the day quite pleasant. After walking around Stonehenge and completing the audio tour, we took a few last pictures of the monument and made our way back to Cambridge by train, wesat next to a man who was streaming the Wimbledon final live on his iPad. Even though the entire train was disappointed when Andy Murray lost, Cody and I both felt the day was a success.

Micah Muhr ('14) and Cody Young ('14)

A few of us stayed in Cambridge for a quieter weekend. It was an especially good time to be here, since the city was celebrating the arrival of the Olympic torch relay on Saturday. A couple of us explored the Fitzwilliam Museum in town, which has an interesting summer exhibition of treasures from tombs in Han Dynasty China. We also wandered over to Parker's Piece on Friday night and watched part of a concert by The Noisettes, a British indie group. They were pretty good, and there was a fun mix of locals to people-watch.  On Saturday we walked out to The Orchard for a nice lunch. It was a bit of a hike, but through a beautiful area of meadows, and the food, scenery, and history (many of Cambridge's best minds have spent time there) were well worth the trip. Later we staked out a spot on Mill Road outside Hughes to see the torch come through, which was pretty exciting! The rainy weather stuck around and foiled our plans to go punting on the river on Sunday, so that will have to wait for another time, but overall we had a fun weekend close to home!
The Olympic torch going through Cambridge
A number of us went to Ireland this past weekend. Most of us decided to take the cheaper route and travel by train up to the port, then take a ferry across to reach Dublin. On Thursday night, we caught a 6:45pm train and we finally arrived in Dublin at 6am Friday morning. After learning that our hostel room was not going to be ready until noon, we had a decision to make: find somewhere to eat breakfast or take a quick snooze and get something to eat afterward. We chose option B, which eventually turned into us sleeping in the hostel lobby until 9am.

Since we had a large group go to Ireland, we split up into two smaller groups but generally saw the same things. We visited the Guinness Storehouse, which is a brewery turned into a museum. Some members of our group went on a walking tour and saw the Dublin castles and went to Kilmainham Gaol, which was an important historical site that told the story of Ireland's struggles in failed revolutions and famines.

The following day (Saturday) some of us took a bus across the island to the Cliffs of Moher, which was an incredible sight. The cliffs are 214 meters high at their highest point and its a little frightening walking alongside these cliffs because most of the them do not have any fencing around it. In nearby Galway, there was a huge celebration that revolved around the Volvo Ocean Race, which is a sailboat race around the world that ends in Galway. Unfortunately by the time we got there all of the boats had made it to the harbor.

Danny Geiger ('14), Max Timm ('13), Michael Elder ('13), Anna Versen ('14), Katherine Greenberg ('14), Andy Zweber ('13), Ben Truax ('14), Josh Estes ('14), Michael Austin ('13), Travis Nordgaard ('13)
All of us passed out in the hostel lobby after a night of travel. This picture was taken around 8am courtesy of  Travis Nordgaard.
Timm, Elder, Geiger, Greenberg, and Versen at the Guinness Storehouse. Note how Geiger really stands out in this picture, this may be the photograph that really gets his modeling career going.
Greenberg, Timm, Geiger, Versen, and Elder at the Cliffs of Moher.

Nordgaard posing in front of the Irish natural landscape.