Monday, March 28, 2011

Closing the Blog

It's been great!  In 1997, when we first took a group of students to London Study Abroad, everybody brought their own 35 mm cameras and film.  By 2001, I had a digital camera, and maybe two other students also had digital pix.  I took three days at the end of each term to burn a CD of highlights for each student.  By 2003, more people had digital cameras.  By 2005, nearly everyone did, although I think I still burned CDs for everybody  if they wanted one (and the time it took to burn them was a lot shorter).  The students started their first webgroup that year--"Pahty in the UK."  By 2007, we had someone doing our own blog for the trip, with contributions from many of the students.  They also still communicate with us and each other.  I started this blog for 2009, but by then so many others had their own blogs, photo-sharing sites, chat groups, list-servs, etc., that a separate blog became redundant.

So, I decided to go back to my personal blog only for the 2011 trip.  If you want to see pix from the upcoming trip, they will be here.

I hope this site can remain a fun place to look back and reminisce.

Friday, February 25, 2011

UK 09 Party

We had a fun party at our house tonight with the students from 2009 who are in town at the moment. 

Although they had been planning to spend the night in Vernon at the Bennion Ranch, the snowstorm this morning and the one predicted for tomorrow changed the plan.  With our smallish kitchen there was still the feel of cooking the evening meal at the youth hostel. 

Good times!
 I think I got a photo of everyone who came.  We had tons of food (I guess I should say "tonnes" of food), from jumbo franks to trifle to strawberries to pancakes, eggs and bacon.  Plus.  Pot luck is great.
Also whipped cream, pickles and olives, as you see below:
The guys looking cool:
Beth (Marshall's wife):
 More discussion:
 More hugs:
More guys looking cool:
Anyway, it was a lot of fun to see everybody, but we also missed the ones who are elsewhere.   
It would be really great to hear from people who are not here--where are you?  And pix.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Advice from Previous Students: Sara

From what I remember... (Has it really been 6 years???!!)

1. What should I know ahead of time?
Get excited. You are going to have the adventure of a life time. Oh, and drink as much water as you possibly can at every opportunity - with all of the hiking, your body will function better and you'll be much more comfortable.

2. What should I bring?
Have a way to waterproof everything - especially your backpack. Windproof clothing will also make you much more comfortable. I had a fleece jacket with a "windwall" and it was my favorite thing I had with me. My other favorite thing was my boots which were also water proof. The two things that I didn't bring with me that I wish I had were a hair dryer (I would have been so much warmer at night if my hair was dry!) and slippers or Ugg boots. I spent a lot of time walking around the hostels in socks. I was also glad for my little ziploc baggy of dryer sheets and my little bottle of clothing soap, they helped with the smell and the emergency laundry, respectively.

3. What should I leave behind?
Anything bulky.

4. What should I do or see no matter what?
Um, all of it? Yell at the ocean on Tennyson Downs, touch the rocks of Stonehenge, see a play at the Globe, read Tintern Abbey IN Tintern Abbey, go to Evensong at Christchurch in Oxford, eat Indian food, stand next to the table where Jan Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice (take a picture), burst into song in an abbey or cathedral (great acoustics!), try not to get lost (but if you do, take the bus), climb the ruins of Tintagel (preferrably dressed as a pirate), eat the clotted cream... Most of all, don't say no to the spontaneous opportunities for adventure that present themselves. Do it all - dawn hikes, midnight swims, cave exploration, field frolicking - if you have the choice to stay in the hostel or go out, ALWAYS go out.

5. What should I miss?
Nothing that I can recall.

6. What attitude should I take with me?
As an American - Be respectful of local attitudes and excessively grateful for kindnesses. Remember you're the visitor and they are graciously allowing you to experience their treasures and rich histories. Also, Americans, particularly young women in a large group, have a tendency to be louder than your average European. Keep the exuberance at a respectable volume.
As a student - Remember that this is a unique opportunity. You will get out of it as much as you put into it. Doing the reading beforehand will give you a much richer experience, and more to write about, along the way.
As a traveler - Have an adventuring spirit! Understand that when you travel, nothing goes as planned - Embrace it! Remember that everything in life is either a good experience or a good story. Be sure to collect equal measures of both. The best writing is about the things that didn't go smoothly. Also, don't get distracted by home - it will be there when you get back.
As a companion - You are part of a whole. You can either make yourself a part of the group or you can alienate yourself. Either way it is 100% up to you what kind of relationships you have with your fellow group members. Just try to keep in mind, that adventures are more fun in groups. If you look for reasons to be offended, you'll find them... so just don't look.

7. What can I expect from the experience?
You can expect to have experiences so thrilling that they are almost unreal. You can also expect to have at least a few days or hours of acute discomfort. However in the future, I promise that your memories of the good days will overshadow your memories of the less-good days. 6 years later I couldn't be more thrilled that I went on this study abroad. Whenever I talk to people about the experience I had there, they are amazed and wickedly jealous. You'll learn things about yourself that you never expected. It will change you for the better and you'll carry that with you for the rest of your life.

Ed. note--although in 2011 we will not be doing the intensive hiking of previous Spring programs, we will be out in all weather in the city and in the country, and clothing advice still applies. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Advice from Previous Students: Bess

YOU'RE GOING TO AN ARTIST COLONY?! I'm so jealous jealous jealous.

1. What should I know ahead of time?
• You will be hot or cold most of the time. Layers.
2. What should I bring?
• Tina recommended a travel towel. They are great, but can be expensive. So I used a hand towel. It was small and after I left my first towel at one of locations it was only £3-4 at linen shop in York. So it wouldn't have been a tragedy to lose another.
• A set of hiking clothes. It's good to have warm and cold weather versions--or a warm version you can layer to make warm.
• Juli's recommendation for sock liners is brilliant. I wore wool liners and wool hiking socks and I didn't have any blisters either. Also, you only need a couple pairs of socks. Just wear them over and over and over.
• A set of "town" clothes. Keep these "sets" separate in your bag or you will stink all the time. (You will stink all the time pretty soon anyway, this just delays it a wee bit.) You will hate all your clothes very soon, but, like Tiffany said, you'll want to buy loads of fun new stuff all along the way.
• A musical instrument. I prefer the tin whistle. Although hurdy gurdies will win you points on the YHA circuit.
• Tweezers! Matches! Other tick remedies!
• Pocketknife! Excellent for daily picnics. I brought one of those helpful multitools with a knife, pliers, and scissors (see next). And I loved it.
• Tape, glue, scissors. All been said before. But great. I grew a tumor-like collection of fliers and brochures that I only wanted one or two pictures from to glue in by journal. You'll save yourself a lot of space and weight if you clip as you go.
• Regarding journals. Bring one that reflects what you want to do in it. I brought a soft-bound somewhat large format because I like to draw, and, when occasion permits, make rubbings. I was able to bend my notebook to accommodate this. It was also large and pliable enough for me to glue all my crap in without breaking the binding.
• A suitcase/bag/backpack that is easy to carry up and down loads of twisty stairs. Hostels and small inns don't believe in elevators. And make sure the handles won't come off, or you'll be cursing every time you look at your bag. Unless you bring an ├╝ber sturdy bag or a backpacking backpack, your bag might not be suitable for further travel once your journey ends. Probably best not to borrow from an easily-enraged sibling.
3. What should I leave behind?
• I brought my computer in 2009 because of a program I was doing in Germany afterward. It was annoying to carry about and worry about. I didn't have one in 2007 and was perfectly content. There were way more hostels with wifi in '09 than in '07, and the trend will probably continue. With ipods or iphones or smart phones with wifi ability a laptop is probably unnecessary if you're only reading email. If you want to be writing all your essays on a laptop, that's a different story.
4. What should I absolutely do or see no matter what?
• A buttload of plays in London. Take advantage of student ticket prices.
• Do a quick google search of your favorite British person/people, literary love/s, whatever. Find a place along your journey to pay homage. You will do a lot of this with the program, but it's fun to create them on your own so you are more invested in them. I sought out the address 4 Corfe Close whatever town I might be in. I know. Very grown up. If you have a favorite novel set (at least in part) in London, scan it before you go for mentions of location. You are going on a program organized by someone else, but you should still personalize it by making sure you recognize your specific passions.
5. What should I miss?
• Places with mannequins. But it's hard to know beforehand what these are. Just know that they are scary and their images will remain with for a long time.
6. What attitude should I take with me (as an American, student, traveler, etc)?
• It's okay to stink all the time.
• It's okay to look horrible in your hiking get up. It's also okay to look horrible in your town get up, but as that's your vanity talking, I won't address it here. Alas with the hiking clothes, you probably do actually look very silly. Like all your clothes are varying shades of bright orange or something equally laughable.
7. What can I expect from the experience?
• Awesomeness.
• Disillusionment with the rest of your life because you know nothing will be as good ever.

Advice from Previous Students: Lori

1. What should I know ahead of time? You can learn to get along with pretty much anyone. If you have an issue with someone, talk to them about it soon and don't let it fester and annoy you. And don't talk about it behind their backs because that's just stupid. Also, take your own pictures because as much as everyone says they'll share pictures, it doesn't work out so well. And don't pick up a British accent, even if you think it sounds cool, because you won't.

2. What should I bring? Bring several good journals. A push for my personal favorites: buy/bring Pentalic brand moleskin sketchbooks. You can find them in the basement of the BYU bookstore near the sketchbooks. They are brightly colored and cheaper than Moleskin brand. They are the greatest and I have about fifteen. And if you don't have them already, you should get some Chacos because they are great all-purpose shoes and make fun tan lines. Bring a good water bottle and carry it with you (with water, and drink from it. I think I saw a total of two drinking fountains in England).

3. What should I leave behind? You don't need very many clothes at all. This means something like 2-3 pairs of pants and 5-6 shirts. Even with this, I had things I rarely wore (and this is coming from someone who loves clothes and variety). Bring fewer clothes and then buy fun clothes while you're there. And England is fairly civilized so if you forget to pack something, don't stress out about it because you can buy it there.

4. What should I absolutely do or see no matter what? You should definitely go to Evensong several times. I also went to a Quaker meeting and mass and everything like that I could get to and I am so very glad I did. Also, talk to everyone you can and ask for directions from random people 'cause they're nice. And if this is a program stuck in London, go visit the countryside.

5. What should I miss? Don't feel bad about spending time on your own and not with the group. I loved hanging out with everyone but some of my best times were wandering on my own. And it won't ruin your experience if you miss out on blood sausage for breakfast.

6. What attitude should I take with me (as an American, student, traveler, etc)? Be willing to do things you might not normally do and talk to people you wouldn't normally talk to. This means not hanging out with your headphones in all the time. And it's okay if you look like a tourist/American. As far as souvenirs go, spend money on experiences and not just stuff. And look for neat experiences that don't cost money.

7. What can I expect from the experience? Expect to spend a lot of money--but don't feel bad about it. I kept telling myself that when I'm old and fifty dollars doesn't seem like a lot of money, I'll be glad I had spent it on something awesome in England.

Advice from Previous Students: Tiffany

1. What should I know ahead of time? um. know that you need lots of money to eat lots of candy bars. and then remember to eat a candy bar every day. actually several times a day. try all of the candies you find.

2. What should I bring? a few clothes and a journal and money. stuffed animal (but don't lose your precious one!)

3. What should I leave behind? swimsuit--go skinny dipping (trust me, there are places). books--you'll end up buying plenty if you visit the awesome used bookstores. don't bring too many clothes because you'll get new ones and it's a hassle to have too much junk.

4. What should I absolutely do or see no matter what? your surroundings. look up. keep your eyes up and don't watch your feet when you walk. If you are in a town and see something that looks cool, then go see it. Don't worry too much about being with lots of people if they don't want to do what you want to do. Just go do it. Talk to people. People in shops, and hostels and wherever you are--especially at church (whether it's LDS or not), and people in your study group. You will appreciate the people you get to know far more than you will the landscapes you see.

5. What should I miss? Anything you think will be boring, because it probably will be. I had more fun riding the tube than I did visiting the Tower of London, because I liked feeling more like a real person than a take time to just be a person and hold back on the touristy stuff especially if you're tired and your feet hurt. Don't take pictures of EVERY SINGLE PLACE. just relax and remember to be in the moment. You'll remember it more fondly.

6. What attitude should I take with me (as an American, student, traveler, etc)? be cautious, but not too much. Just enjoy stuff. be open to new people and new ideas of all kinds.

7. What can I expect from the experience? nothing. You will not get what you expect, I guarantee it. But, it will change you in ways that only you will know...and for the most part it will be awesome. but remember that everyone has bad days and you can't be expected to be happy all the time just because you're in England...although that is pretty cool.

Advice from Previous Students: Julianna

1. What should I know ahead of time?
If you have commitment problems, ignore them! I freaked out for nearly the entire semester on whether I should go or not and basically - JUST DO IT because it is great and well worth your money and time. I suppose I can't speak for everyone, but I don't think you will regret going.
2. What should I bring?
Line your suitcase with dryer sheets - you can use them in your laundry and they keep your clothes at least somewhat fresh in the meantime. If you wear glasses I would recommend bringing contacts because hiking in the rain with glasses is really not fun. Smartwool sock liners are great - I didn't get a single blister the whole trip. I would also recommend buying a journal that you like, and one that will last. Bringing tape/glue and small scissors is also a good idea because you will probably want to keep brochures/pictures/pressed flowers etc in your journal.
3. What should I leave behind?
Extra clothes that you think you "might wear". Try to keep it to the minimum - I regretted bringing too much stuff. You'll probably end up buying clothes along the way somewhere, so don't bring any more than you have to.
4. What should I absolutely do or see no matter what?
Whatever you want. I would definitely recommend spending at least one day just wandering through a town - you will see a lot more than if you put yourself on some kind of rigid tourist hit list. I also would recommend going to as many art museums as possible.
5. What should I miss?
On days that you are feeling overwhelmed/tired/smelly/annoyed, hang back. Like Tina said, alone time is important. It is also important to go to most things, but if something doesn't interest you then don't go. If there is something you can be content with missing, then don't regret missing it. Walk around town or catch up on reading. You'll be happier - it isn't all about going home and showing everyone the pictures that you took of everywhere that you went. It should be an enjoyable experience.
6. What attitude should I take with me (as an American, student, traveler, etc)?
A positive one. It is definitely helpful to not rely on a lot of alone time - John Bennion will teach you how to love everyone - so learn the skill! It was helpful for me to just be grateful for every awesome thing that we got to see and do - who cares if your bunkmate has smelly feet? You're in England!! I also paid zero attention to the schedule - that way every day I got to be surprised at all of the cool stuff we were doing instead of having expectations about how the day would go. That limits your ability to plan out what you want to see, but it worked great for me (I also had no idea where we were 70% of the time, so this strategy has its downsides...)
7. What can I expect from the experience? Good stuff.