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

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