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.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hughes Hall -- Week 2 in Cambridge (July 2-July 8)

Happy Independence Day!

I hope you all had a very happy Fourth of July. It was a strange and unique opportunity to be celebrating our country's independence day in the country we declared independence from, but last week we are all about the red, white and blue (I guess those are Britain's national colors too but you get the idea). Andy Zweber ('13) stayed up for most of the night July 3rd crafting the perfect American playlist to coincide with our day of grilling out and playing some yard games. It was a fun day in which we met a St. Olaf grad who is a rowing coach at Cambridge University and heard there were some Carls in town. However, in the British school system, a 'college' is usually referred to as a school that 16-18 year old students attend and a university is for students in our age group. Therefore, many of the signs in Cambridge aimed to assist us say 'Carleton University' because the idea of 18-22 year old students attending a 'Carleton College' is confusing. So when the Olaf grad heard of these Carleton University students from America he ventured to Hughes Hall to see if these were the same Carls that were his rivals going to college in Northfield.
Zweber shows off his American pride on the 4th of July
Early Monday morning we moved in to Hughes Hall before class started. The accommodations are great; everyone is in their own room that includes a sink and mini fridge. There are also shared bathrooms and kitchens so we can cook and save some money. Many on the trip have flexed their cooking muscles thus far and have made elaborate group meals that I can't even pronounce correctly. Others (such as Zweber and I) stick to boiling noodles and making dynamite ham and cheese sandwiches.We also found a gym nearby that gives us a summer membership for only 25 pounds. The facilities are tiny but it still provides a means of staying fit. 

Our new (and permanent) home in Hughes Hall
Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday were typical days in terms of class. We had double lectures on ECON 224: Multinationals on Monday and Tuesday in order to complete the necessary course work before Mike leaves. On Thursday we were introduced to Solomos Solomou and began his course, ECON 221: Contemporary British Economy. Solomou's style of teaching is a little different from Hemesath's in that Solomou's teachings are more lecture-based which is a typical trait of Cambridge professors and fellows.

Last week was a rare occurrence in that we did not have a planned excursion on Wednesday. This conveniently landed on the Fourth of July and, as mentioned before, we took advantage of the day by showing our American pride through celebrating with a barbecue. Some students spent Independence Day by camping out Tuesday night at Wimbledon in order to get good seats for Wednesday's matches. After suffering through repetitive bouts of rain and Michael Elder ('13) singing along to country music to pass the time, they were able to get great seats on No. 1 Court in which they were able to see the (previously) number-one ranked male tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, defeat Florian Mayor in the men's single's quarterfinals, among other matches.
Danny Geiger ('14) and Mike Elder ('13) posing in front of their tent.

Geiger, Elder, Katherine Greenberg ('14) and Katie Claiborne ('13) snapping a pic of their great seats. There have been rumors that you could see Elder falling asleep on TV (I don't think he got a great night of sleep in the rain). 

Over the weekend, we had groups of students go to Italy, Ireland, Stonehenge, Scotland, and some watched the Olympic torch make its way through Cambridge. I think I will make a separate posting about these trips so individual students can write and share pictures of their experiences this past weekend.

UP NEXT: Weekend trips (July 6-July 8)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Homerton College -- Week 1 in Cambridge (June 25th-July 1st)

Homerton College

After arriving to Cambridge June 25th (a Monday) from our two-week long trip around Europe, we were able to stay in a semi-permanent home at Homerton College. To clear up some confusion, let me explain how Cambridge University works. Cambridge University is one of the oldest universities in the world and over time, Cambridge began to run out of space for its students so there is not a single campus (like Carleton) that is known as Cambridge University. This is a common theme in England. Instead, Cambridge University is made up of different colleges (such as Homerton, Kings, Trinity, etc.). Each of these colleges has their own colors and apparel, similar to the houses of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. These colleges are basically just separated by dormitories and include a mix of students studying different disciplines. So, when I say that we stayed at Homerton College, or we are taking classes at Hughes Hall, we are still using Cambridge University's facilities it's just not in a single location.

Homerton College, our home last week
On Tuesday, we began class at Hughes Hall. On a typical class day (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) we will have one class from 9:00-10:30am, then have a short break followed by another class from 11ish-12:45pm. Over the course of the term, we will take four courses.

ECON 224: Economics of Multinational Enterprises is the main course we are taking notes from lectures right now. Since Mike is teaching this class, and he has another job waiting for him at St. John's University, we are taking spending most of our class days on this subject and will have a final July 16th (a week from Monday). So far, the class is very interesting because a lot of the alumni we have visited have been involved in multinational corporations, which is a nice reference point in our discussions. When Steve Strand arrives to Cambridge on Tuesday night, he will be teaching ECON 222: The Industrial Revolution in Britain. Our brief trip to Shrewsbury in a couple of weeks will coincide with material discussed in class. There is also a reading course that we have already started that leads to discussions about famed economist's John Maynard Keynes' life. Carleton has also employed Cambridge Univeristy fellow Solomos Solomou to teach a course about Contemporary British Economy.
Our classroom in the Hughes Hall Pavilion Room. My excuse for being in the back row and using my phone during class is so you, the family and friends, have a better blog to read. 

Normally, we will have excursions to places around England to visit a site relating to class discussion on Wednesdays. However, during our first week at Homerton College we took our excursion to London on Friday, where we visited John Winter at Barclay's and Mark Williams at the Shell Center. In order to be on time for our meeting with Mr. Winter (who was particularly busy last week if you read a newspaper recently) we had to catch the earliest train out of Cambridge to London at 6am. However, Mr. Winter was still able to lend his valuable time and gave us some great advice on how to make an impression at work or an internship. This advice included some harsh realities. Mr. Winter suggested we lose the TV, stay in shape, and arrive before your boss every day for work. Currently, my skills are more aligned with watching TV, eating pizza, and sleeping in, however there is always room for improvement. Later that afternoon we were escorted to the top floor of the Shell Center which sits right behind the famed "London Eye." At the top floor, we were able to get an amazing view of London and could pinpoint all of the major sites and attractions we saw during our three-day stay in London when we first started the program. Mr. Williams and his associate then took us through the basics of the oil market and fielded questions afterwards.

Awaiting John Winter's arrival at Barclay's. The complimentary food and coffee helped us shake off the early train ride into London.

On the top floor of the Shell Center overlooking London before the meeting with Mark Williams. 
After travelling for the past couple of weeks, none of us left England and instead took advantage of our long weekend to get to know the city a little bit better. Earlier in the week, two lovely ladies that have been associated with the program for years gave us a walking tour of Cambridge and pointed out possible sites and historical points of interest. On Saturday, some students went on a day-trip to visit Stonehenge. Another group of us went to Wimbledon after the Friday excursion into London and watched the evening matches. In the end, it was finally nice to have a place to call home, even if we only stayed in Homerton College for a week.
Bowling on Sunday afternoon before the Euro2012 championship. Once the game came on, we quickly lost interest in bowling.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Paris and Homerton College (1st week in Cambridge)

Hey everybody-

After staying at Homerton College (a part of Cambridge University) for the past week, we were finally able to move into our permanent housing for the rest of the program at Hughes Hall this morning. Since we have free and reliable wireless internet in Hughes, my plan is to have a new post every Monday that discusses our past week. So for example, I will be talking about Paris (which was 1.5 weeks ago) tonight and hope to have a post about our first week in Cambridge up sometime tomorrow. Then next Monday I will blog about the week we are currently in, etc. Also, as people start to utilize their long weekends by travelling around Europe I will hopefully enlist some people to write about their experiences over the weekend. Although nobody ventured outside England this past weekend, I know at least one group of people is planning on visiting Ireland in the weekend upcoming. 

We arrived in Paris on Thursday (June 21st) and left early Monday morning (June 25th). The last stop of our two week Euro-trip, the majority of the days (with the exception of Friday) had a lot of free time as a reward for all of our hard work thus far in the program. And by hard work I mean that we had done very little school work up to that point, but I will take a four-day trip to Paris. 

The first night in Paris, we were lucky enough to arrive just in time for La Fête de la Musique. The event is a street music festival that is held only one night in June every year in Paris. Walking through the streets there was live music everywhere including bars, cafes, restaurants, and even some large stages set up. There were many genres covered in the festival, with blues bands playing Hendrix's "Voodoo Child," reggae bands playing Marley's "Is This Love," as well as pop bands that must have been popular in France. For example, we were able to muscle our way close to the main stage to listen to a pop/rock band that was presumably popular in France but we couldn't understand the lead vocalist because she was singing in French. However, it was still a great way to start off the trip. 

On Friday, we met with Brooks Wallin ('78), a former geology major that is now the president of Organic Stories SAS. In our meeting with him, we discussed how he came about purchasing two organic food companies as well as how he was able to grow the companies since his purchase in the early 2000's. Furthermore, we were able to get some free cereal at the end of the meeting.

The rest of the Paris trip (Saturday and Sunday) was left as free days to the group. These days were mostly spent traveling to and seeing the Notre Dame Cathedral, Musée du Louvre (home to da Vinci's Mona Lisa), and Arc de Triomphe. In my opinion, the most awe-inspiring monument was Tour Eiffel (or the Eiffel Tower). There is always a long line to go up in the tower so early Sunday morning a group of us woke up early to beat the rush. After climbing over 750 steps, we made it to the second level of the monument, which is where the restaurant and gift shops are located. From the second level you had to take an elevator to the top floor, and after sweating for the majority of the 750 steps it took to get less than halfway up, I was happy about the elevator situation. However, once the elevator starts to ascend, you begin to realize a couple of things: (1) this structure is over a hundred years old (2) there is a lot of weight on this structure and (3) the only thing separating us and a free-fall death is an elevator. I think that the Eiffel Tower elevator should be reclassified as a roller coaster because by the time I got up to the top (over 275 meters in the air) there was about a 15 second window for somebody to snaps some pics of me before I started to cry. However, it should be noted that other members of the group were much more brave than I was and did not discover a new-found fear in heights. 

A group of gentlemen standing in front of the Tour Eiffel just after it lit up

Micah Muhr ('14), Morgan Murphy ('13), and Joey Pedtke ('14) in front of a fountain on the edge of the Luxembourg Gardens. Morgan is super excited to be in Paris.

Katie Claiborne ('13), Lauren Linde ('14), and Anna Versen ('14) in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral

UP NEXT: Homerton College and the return of school