Internship Assignment F: skills learned

It is hard to believe that I will be on a plane back to Minnesota (I am just beginning to realize how quaint that sounds) in five short weeks. During the time I have spent in London at my internship, I have learned a lot about myself and what I want to pursue in the future. The main skill that has helped me in this learning journey is my new found ability to understand how the facilitation of communication within small sections of an organisation (do you see what i did there? The Brits have gotten to me in their spelling…) can have a small, but significant impact on the larger organisation. It has been interesting to look back and look at the impact that I have had on the organization during my time here in London. 

My understanding has come from my work in research and publication of resources on the website. While at the time the tasks seamed mundane and like something I was overqualified for, I now know the truth. Looking back all of the work I did working with others to publish the best content possible has helped me to see the impact of the work I am doing for the influence of the organization in the yes of those who use materials we publish. It is interesting to see how the work I do is being used on an international level. It is so exciting for me to think that doctors or academics in various parts of the world could access the information I have published to assist them in some way. I know that when I read an online publication I usually don’t think of who wrote it and the work that went into it. Now, after having been on the other side of it, I will be more aware of the effort and work that goes into the publication of materials in an online platform. 

While most of my work is done independently at first, with the addition of contributors I am then able to enhance my personal impact on the organisation. Now that I have established myself in the office as a knowledgeable, responsible (read workaholic) intern I have been given more responsibility and an increase in variety of tasks. This, in turn, has also increased the amount and way in which I can contribute to the organization and the work we do in different areas. Looking back, I can see the variety of impacts I have had on the work that the organization does in a variety of areas. Through the work I have done I have also gained a deeper understanding of the different facets of the organisation. 

In the past, it has taken me some time to determine what I have learned from internship or class experiences. I am now able to go forward and explain what I have learned and the skills I have leaned. This  speaks to my new found confidence in my ability to articulate myself in a professional way. However, that is not the point of this post; just a side observation. 

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Exploring my own City

This weekend I hosted my mother and one of my sorority sisters here in London. My sorority sister was visiting for the weekend from Paris where she is studying for the semester. I love when people come to visit me because it gives me an oppertunity to explore things in the city that I wouldn’t otherwise see since I have become so set in my routine.

We saw the events in Paris unfold on CNN while at a pub. My sister’s face immediately tensed up as she read the report scrolling across the screen. One of the shootings had taken place just blocks from where her host family lives. The situation became even closer to home for her when it was determined that about 20 of her close friends were attending the football match between France and Germany where one of the bombings took place with shooting involved.

The next day we decided to make the most of the situation and go through our day as normally as possible. This exercise also helped to distract my sister from becoming to frazzled about a situation she had no control, but some stake, in. After quick photoshoot with a phone booth and a stop at Westminster we went on to our next activities. We made our way in the rain to Spitalfields market where we spent time shopping and sampling small plate from an adorable shop inside the market. The layout of the market, in a series of rows, makes for easy browsing of merchandise.  Once the rain had stopped we went to Buckingham Palace.

Guard

The rest of the night I spent with my mother enjoying a lovely French meal and laughing hysterically at the play that goes wrong. The Brasserie we went to was dimly lit with dark wood accents. The massive amount of seafood I devoured was succulent and made me so happy I couldn’t stop smiling. After sprinting around the opera district trying to find the theatre, we made it to the lovely Duchess theatre. The show we saw was “The Play that Goes Wrong.” This comedy was set around the scene of a murder mystery play that was being performed by a theatre troop. The ensuing comedy of errors left my howling with laughter for most of the show. The fun thing about this experience was also sharing it with others. Hearing the laughter of others helped to distract me from worrying about my close friend who was in a foreign city the night after a massive event occurred in her new home.

Sunday was spent at Buckingham Palace watching the changing of the guards. Due to the heightened security that was sure to accompany my friend on her way to Paris, we decided to make sure she had her ticket to the airport all settled well in advance. As a result of the three days of mourning the city was under, my mother and I decided to cancel our trip to Paris. This decision came out of respect for the people of Paris who were recovering from the aftermath of this traumatic event.

The weekend was finished with a lovely Sunday roast at a local pub.This seamed like a fitting, relaxing end to the calssic London weekend. Despite the rollercoaster of emotions experienced, I think we made the most of it.   Pub

All in all I am glad that my sorority sister came to visit this weekend because I think the distance from the situation was a good thing for her. Getting her mind off things, even for a couple hours, also helped her from spiraling into a worried mess. The weekend’s events reinvigorated my desire to explore more of London.

Making sense of it all: Museum of London

Walking to the Museum of London is part of the experience of the museum itself.  I first walked up to a large round about and read the words “Museum of London” on a large round building. Rounding the corned I felt like I was in a completely different place than Bloomsbury, Surrounding this large walled courtyard were a large cycling shop and classy cafes like Pret A Manger and EAT. While trying to find the entrance I came across these interesting characters on the side of the wall. 

IMG_0343

To me, they look like people dancing. What do they look like to you?

I would like to start out by saying that mammoths really aren’t my thing. I am all for history, but when it gets to the ice age I am really not a fan. Give me stories of people working in squalid conditions or high profile victorian era aristovrates and my eyes will be aglow with interest for house, but the same cannot be said for mamoths. While I respect their size and power, I do not see the appeal that some do, 

Another observation I made about the museum was the other patrons. Most of whom were excitable school children in high visibility vests. One question I had was, “why are they all in these bigly colored reflective vests?” I assume it is so they can all be recognized as a group in crowds in absence of group t-shirts. 

Now that I have spent two paragraphs discussing my thoughts on the museum, it is important to look at the exhibits themselves. I will be supplementing my own thoughts on information gathered from and linking to the Museum’s website. As a part of the tour I will take you on of the museum are the things I found most interesting. After explaining my experience at the museum with my mom and making a point of my inability to understand the draw of a large mammoth, she proceeded to tell me an interesting story about this ancient mammal. It turns out that my parents attended a lavish dinner – complete with personal waiters to uncover plates and keep the refreshments flowing in their white gloves – seated at a long table around the mammoth. So there, that was my antidote about the mammoth that I have seen so many posts about. 

The London before London section is described on the website as, “(a place to) Discover the story of the Thames Valley and the people who lived there from 450,000 BC to the coming of the Romans in AD 50.” This section held my attention for the least amount of time since there was really nothing I could compare it to in any of my other courses. It was interesting to see, however, the importance of water to these early tight knit communities. 

The Roman London section illustrated what Londinium was like from AD 50 to 410. While walking through this section I was reminded of the Roman baths, which gave me context for this gallery. The chronological order of the galleries was concluded upon the exit of the labyrinth with a detailed timeline of London history in the context of larger global events that effected the city and its residence. 

Rememberance: Imperial War Museum

 
Sitting atop my perch in the Belfast City Hall cafe, I am reminded of the hardship and political strife that formed the United Kingdom. This seams like as good a time as any to explore my visit to the Imperial War Museum. 
I would like to begin with a few initial thoughts. First, coming from the United States where national pride lies more in World War I it was interesting to learn more about a war I knew little about from a different perspective. On that same note it was interesting how little the United Statees was discussed in the exhibits, considering how much economic and military arms assistance we offered to Britain during this time. Secondly, I found the lay out of the museum to not be conducive to the flow of visitors. Once you finished walking through the labyrinth of exhibit boards on one level you had to snake your way back through to the stairs to proceed to the next level. However, I do give the museum credit for the chronological order of the exhibits. 
Through the exhibits it was clear how proud Britain is that they were the true heroes of WWII; after having truly suffered by being bombed on their own soil. While Americans assisted in the war effort, we were still disconnected from the first hand effects of the war since it was not occurring on our soil. We have yet to experience, with the exception of the Civil War, such a catastrophic series of events on our oil soil. While it could be argued that the terrorist attacks of September 11 compared, they pale in comparison to the prolonged hardship faced by ordinary Brits during and in the time following World War II.
 The ground floor focused on Britain in World War I, which was of little interest to me, so I will skip along. 
The first poster I came to on the first floor explained, “by late 1940 the war had moved to Britain. This was followed by the invasive bombing of London; forcing many families into unfamiliar situations. Through these shared hardships and dangers, residence became more determined that in the end Britain helped by its empire would win and survive” This showed the unity of the empire in relation to facing the evils of the outside world. This showed a unified front to those the British were fighting against. A video of women working in machine factory showed how the role of women changed during the war, when they were forced to enter into the workforce to not only support their families, but the war effort as well. Watching this video I drew similarities between that and the changing role of women in the United States during World War I, which lead to more economic and social independence for them after the war. 

A poster entitled “Lifeblood” explained, “the demands of war forced Britain to import more material goods than ever. Britain looked to its friends across the empire and the USA for oil, food, ships, and armor. Some American goods were given as aid, but the result was still Britain gaining major debt. British intelligence struggled to t ack the submarines through their secret radio codes. Ships eventually moved under greater protection once a codes were broken.” Resign this, I was reminded of the movie The Imitatioon game, which highlights the fight by the Brits to break the German code in order to preempt and prepare to protect itself against attacks. The poster made a point to highlight how the German defenses were stronger and more actuate, but the British Royal Air Force still relied on bombing to strike Germany directly from 1940-44 and support the soviets. This shows how even though the British did not have the most advanced technology, they used whit and determination to stay competitive in the war. A projected news real on the floor showing arial bombings added an element of interest to the exhibit, but I would have like to have seen more interactive features thought in the form of interactive stories or informational tutorials. 
The second floor focused on peace and security 1945-2014. A poster entitled, “your Britain 1945-63” explained how the Labour governments push to strengthen education and health proved expensive and the British government had to barrow money from America to stay afloat while fuel and food was still rationed. The poster explained that from 1947 to 1968 Britain became the commonwealth as countries demanded independence. At this time most news from abroad was brought via newsreels and home movies the sharing of information from the front lines was similar in both Britain and the US at the time, which I found interesting since the two countries had such different experiences in relation to the same war through their different positions in it. 
At this point, the chronological organisation of the museum sealed to exist. While continuing for upward moment to the top floor, I was greeted by a video that was meant to resemble an old-fashioned news real that explained how Under the newly formed National Health System there was a push to ensure the physical and mental health of the people. 
Another film clip explained how cheers and songs met with mixed motions as men are sent to far unknown lands. This showed the emotional tole that war took on the families left behind. There was also discussion of Churchill houses, which were the first form of council flats that were created as low rent alternatives for families effected by the war. In the clip, women were quoTed as illustrating how easy these cookie – cutter homes were to maintain. 
The fourth floor focused on the Holocaust, which was interesting to see from the perspective of the British who again were more closely effect as a result of geography. While I am used to hearing stories of survivors and families who were effected, the tone seemed to change when stories came directly from people involved through a different lens. The stories presented made it feel more real and less like something that was happening in some far off land and not effective me, only in the stories I heard. There was also a robust discussion of the creation of the Yitish language which is a combination of Hebrew and German. This was of interest to me because I have reindeer who I will be visiting in Paros who were only able to communicate in sporadic Yitish when the first met and have now been married for over 30 years. 
The first floor focused on the awards given to soldiers by the British armed forces. The George Cross is silver and is awarded to people who exhibit extreme bravery in war and peace. The Victorian Cross is awarded to those who exhibit extreme bravery under fire in s war setting. Together, these tw awards signify the British recognition of sacrifice and bravery by citizens to protect the ideals, values, and lands of the empire. 
On the top floor there was a discussion of bravery and courage in the Lord Ashcroft gallery. Tory peer; international businessman, phinathrioist, author, pollster wrote the introduction to the gallery which was prominently featured at the front of the room the gallery was in. There was a quote in an unsuspecting corner that caught my eye. It had to do with sacrifice. The quote read, “it’s very simple; your life for someone else’s. No choice, no context. Give all you have to protect and serve. Nothing matters more.”Another quote about Initiative read, “someone has to act, someone has to take control.” Together, these quotes encompass what the museum is all about. This museum highlighted the strong tradition of military honor in Britain 

From Coast to Coast; Half Term 2015

Traditionally half term – the midpoint in the semester where classes are not held is meant as a time for lecturers, pupils, and families to prepare for the rest of the semester ahead. However, the end of the week before I began my half term holiday saw me rushing across the city to catch another rail service to Redruth station in Cornwall. This is the first to last most southern station in England, being near a major sea port really made me remember that I am on an island, which I forget about while in London. The laid back atmosphere of the small agricultural towns made me nostalgic for rural central Wisconsin: filled with cow and horse pastures and picturesque scenes.

The first stop on my whirlwind tour of Cornwall was Port Levin, where I was able to see what real small town England was like. After a short drive, my enthusiastic host and I arrived in Miazon, where we enjoyed warmed Cornish pasties while watching the waves crash against Mount St. Michael. After a quick ride to the highest point in Cornwall, which had a lovely view we were off the the Poldark mine, one of only two still in existence in this part of the world. There, I had the opportunity to dawn a hard hat to enter the mine which was in operation from 1820 – 1886. With cold water dripping from the ceiling and down my neck I was struck by what a historic feat the creation and excavation of this mine was all those years ago with (by today’s standards) privatize tools. I was then treated to a traditional pub experience when meeting a group of school teachers from the local primary school in the area. It was interesting to Lear about the differences in primary school education in England compared to the US, when I am now more accustomed to the differences in higher education systems. I ended the night with a lovely seafood dinner in the county Capitol of Truro. To me, the experience of living with a local family will stay with me forever. The experience of venturing hundreds of feet below the surface in a mine from the 1800s was very chilling (literally, temperature and from all of the history I was walking on top of). The hospitality I received has helped me to see how eager people are to share information about their culture in exchange for gaining knowledge about my own. When I was asked to explain three unique things about Minnesota I, like I’m sure my hosts were when asked what is special about their area, was a little lost for an explanation at first. After discussing this with my hosts, I decided it was because once you live somewhere for so long you forget about the impact of things you see every day and how an outsider would find those things interesting when you take your cultural and physical landscape for granted.

The hostel I stayed at in Liverpool was bold, literally. The design of the signs was in bold type, printed on plain backgrounds to indicate what was beyond doors or in different directions.The tours I went on were very diverse; from the clientele to the subject matter. The first was the Liverpool Football Club, where I was able to tour the television interview areas, pitch, and stands. Coming from a public relations background, it was interesting to find out that the board with sponsors logos on it that players appear to be seated in front of is actually only a few meters tall and the players stand in front of it so that only their head and shoulders show. While this tour had a younger audience in mind, my next tour was definitely geared towards an older crowd. The Magical Mystery Bus Tour traveled to multiple locations that were significant in the Beatles story, while playing Beatles music between each location with commentary about the related history. It was interesting to see how on the first tour I was clearly the median age of participants, but on the second I was clearly in the minority age group.

Cavern

My next stop on my trip was Dublin. Since I had already been living out of my backpack for four days I was quite fatigued, so I elected to stay in on the first day there. Luckily the rain let up so I was able to explore Grafton Street in the early evening. The next day I went on a hop on hop off tour of the city which gave a great perspective on the history and culture which has helped to shape this relatively young (for European standards) city.

Returning to Great Britain, my final stop was Edinburgh where I had the unique opportunity to stay at the Code hostel, where I slept in an individual rectangular pod, which reminded me on t lazaret on my parent’s sailboat. Luckily, having spent years growing up in such cramped quarters I found the accommodation very cozy and comfortable.

After a long, steep, winding, but beautiful walk up a never ending hill I made it to Edinburgh Castle. After exploring this impressive structure for a few hours I went to the train station in the center of town to secure my train ticket for my journey to St. Andrews the next day. After an early wake up call I was greeted on the train by what I believe to be ruins of buildings bombed in World War II on the way to the coastal city of St. Andrews. While there I ran through the middle of a driving range, unaware of the safer route around the course to my destination. After the excitement died down, I calmly explored the British Gold Museum. While I am not generally the biggest sports fan, I always try to find a lens through which to make an experience interesting to my personal interest. At this museum I found it interesting how British history coincided with the development (and almost distinction) of the now famous sport. The next museum I visit was on the beautiful St. Andrews campus. Here, I was able to grasp the complex religious and educationally rich history of this prestigious university.

All in all, while I would not recommend visiting three countries in eight days; I would not have wanted to spend my half term any other way. Thanks to the people I spent time with, the people I met, and the experiences I had I feel even farther in love with this small island I call home.

Exploring Southern England: a BES reflection

Stately Stowerhead

This massive neoclassical mansion is an excellent illustration of the massive wealth and use of that wealth that was present in the area in the 17th and 18th century. Crossing the threshold in each room, my breath was taken away by the ornate craftsmanship of a painting, fireplace, or other massive narrative illustrating the wealth of the former owner. Audrey Hoare still lives there as the result of an agreement that was made between the family and the National Trust when the home was given over to the preservation society in the 1960’s.

Biting it in Bath

As the swelling in my knee reduces (a weird badge of honour to remember a successful night out by, don’t you think?) I am reminded of what Marcus Aurelius is recorded as saying. He exclaimed; “what is bathing when you think about it? Oil sweat, filth, greasy water; everything loathsome.” This was not my experience while at the Roman Baths, instead, I found this lavish expanse to have a very powerful presence. The tradition held in the stones I now walked on told endless stories, which were then put into words to guide my journey through the baths.

Bath

Through the guided audio tour I was able to see and experience thousands of years of history from the teraqce. From my perch I could see the baths, which represented life 2000 years ago, the Abbey in the background, which represented the mid evil era, and people using their twenty-first century cell phones all around me to capture the beauty of this historic place.

The baths themselves are a classic and Celtic coming together in the artifacts exhibited. It was also interesting to see the illustration through narratives of how different social classes interacted within the expansive complex, which housed both a large leisure centre and religious chapel.

The temple pediment, which was a separate smaller temple on the grounds used for special ceremonies, was discovered in 1790. This large statue would have been found within the temple. The head is believed to be that of Gorgan, because of the snakes in the hair of the statue. However, the statue is of women, which seems to represent the power that the Goddess Minerva had over society at the time. Minerva was later tied closely with the Greek goddess Athena, who is the Goddess of intelligence, which coincided with Minerva’s connection to the arts in Roman beliefs.

The owl statue engraved in the corner is meant to represent knowledge. This strengthens the narrative that the Romans were passing on through their architecture which placed high importance on education and productive intelligence to improve society. The other two important symbols in this recovered piece are the helmet, which symbolizes strength in war and the dolphin, which makes a direct connection to the aquatic culture surrounding the social nature of the baths. The water in the baths was believed to have healing powers: people came from far across Roman Empire to consult the Goddess Minerva.

Strong Stonehenge

“What to say about a strategically placed pile of large rocks? This is the question I asked myself while walking across the lush field leading up to the site.In order to get a more authentic experience, I elected to walk the last half mile to the site out of a wooded area across a lush field with cows and sheep. This would have been the same path that ancient worshipers would have taken from the woods to their worship site, which now is an immensely popular tourist attraction. As I walked through the small visitor centre and out into the open courtyard with models of a village that would have been around at the time of the construction of Stonehenge, I was struck by the sheer magnitude of the structure… While it had a very simple design, the power shown over its lush green surroundings was impressive. In all, this past weekend was filled with education experiences, socializing with friends, which I came away from with a deeper understanding of the history of this great island I live on.

More than Tennis: BES reflection on Wimbledon (Villages of London)

I would like to begin by explaining the photo above; I chose this photo to show respect for the history and cultural staple that Wimbledon has become from its star status ass the place for top athletes to perform. While my post will rarely mention tennis, except through external blogs.

Before I begin illustrating my thoughts on Wimbledon, I need to place a disclaimer. I had a doozy of a time actually getting to Wimbledon. From missing my connection to the District line, to not realizing I needed to change to a different District line train in order to get to Wimbledon; once I was on the correct train it terminated early so I had to wait for another train going in the same direction. That all being said, I exited the tube station in Wimbledon already tired from my extended journey and a little frustrated at myself for making the errors that caused my delay. As a result of the state I arrived in Wimbledon in, I really had the energy for only a few activities; mainly centered around food. As I am sure you have come to find from my past posts, most of what I find interesting has to do with the cultural aspects of a situation; namely the art, food, or history,

The first stop on my cultural tour of Wimbledon brought me to The Original Fish and Chip Company where I enjoyed delicious fried cod sprinkled with salt, vinegar, and lemon with crisp chips.

fish

The next stop on my journey lead me through the a quiet neighborhood full of young families. Walking down the sidewalk hearing the crisp crunch of drying leaves under my shiny black riding boots made me nostalgic for fall in the midwest. The smell of damp leaves and grass as I walked past Wimbledon Common only intensified the sensory experience.

On my search for chocolate I found some interesting things/ First, parking here in the UK seems to be option as to which direction the boot or bonnet of your car faces. As shown here:

parking

Secondly, in my eyes the integration of long held tradition with modern convenience stroke a unique balance in Wimbledon. This was illustrated by this butcher shop

butcher

just two doors down from a Tesco Express. This shows how the community values the traditions of the past, but want to usher in modern conveniences. The same can be said for the heath of the community. On the same street I saw three herbal remedy and homeopathy stores scatter among a yoga studio. This shows how much value the people of Wimbledon put in their health. I would like to add that the large hill that portions of town are placed on also helps to keeps people in shape.

The main reason I hiked up the hill was to go to the lawn tennis museum, but the more interesting discovery for me on the hilltop was St. Mary’s church. Pictured below, this church caught my attention for its ornate, but subtle architecture and powerful presence in a grove of trees with a winding gravel driveway. The distinctive blue door was also something unique.

church

While the village of Wimbledon has a strong tradition gained from the media presence of the tennis championships held there, I found this charming village to be similar to any you would see in a film. The quaint streets and boutique shops gave this are a unique character that brings together many different cultures in a way that gives the area its unique character.

Drake University Student