Travel Blog

I’m now preparing to bring a group of students to London & Dublin in about 8 months. A colleague (Dr. Amy Bucher) and I are preparing to teach a psychology class and bring some students along on an international learning experience.

The class is “Cultural Psychology.”

For any students who are curious, here are the facts as we currently know them:

PY 380/PY 680 is a grad/undergrad crosslisted class (NOT an IS class), 3 credit hours, Fall 2014. The trip will leave around December 26th (not on Christmas or before, though) and come back around January 5th or so. We will be in London for New Year’s. The cost will likely be around $3,000 (a lab fee tacked on to the class), but may be more based on how many people sign up. This cost includes all transportation (including public transportation) once you get to MCI until you get back to MCI, travel insurance, double occupancy hotel rooms (you can get a single room for more money), breakfasts at the hotels, and some entrance fees/tours/events/daytrips (all scheduled class events are included). Some of these things will likely include: A Thames cruise/trip in the London Eye; a tour of the Guiness storehouse in Dublin; at least one theater production in London; museum fees; walking tours in London and Dublin; daytrips to Oxford and/or Belfast and/or Cork. Nothing is set in stone yet. Contact me if you have any more questions!

Addendum: here are a few more helpful tidbits:

  • Dr. Bucher and I are teaching the class together — it is registration by instructor signature so please approach one of us to get approval — and do it early, before all of the spots are taken!
  • There will be some free time within both Dublin and London cities. During these blocks of free time, there will be optional activities scheduled if you’d like to join your course instructors.
  • As of right now, the class is scheduled to meet three Friday nights in Fall 2014 semester — 9/12, 10/24, and 11/21, each from 6-10 p.m. (these meetings are all mandatory in order to go on the trip!). The first two will be class-related, the last will be trip-related. The course itself won’t start until 9/12 and will end after we get back from the trip (there will be assignments about a week after we get back), so you’ll have an incomplete grade assigned to you for the course for the Fall semester.

Hello from London!

I spent three wonderful days in Dublin, learning the city and finding interesting things for our class to do. I think my favorite part was actually the walking tour — I have read a tiny bit about Irish history in the past few weeks (I’m slowly working my way through “Trinity,” a historical novel by Leon Uris), and the walking tour was a really interesting way to put it all in context. I have a difficult time remembering historical information if I have no context for it.

The city is relatively small. I stayed on what you could call the far North side, but I got to city center in 15 minutes walking. I only really took the bus on the first day and last day (to/from the airport). People are very friendly and nobody wears sneakers (“trainers”). It was a relief to get to London, where I could slip on some sneakers without feeling too out of place. I still try not to, though. I am used to walking maybe 10,000 steps (around 5 miles) per day at home, if I push it. Since I’ve been here, I’ve walked an average of 20,000 steps per day. It’s dropped a bit since I arrived in London, mostly because the city is larger so I take public transportation quite a bit more.

I would recommend to my students that they buy a pedometer a few months before our trip and start keeping track of how far and how long they walk, and slowly build up to 20,000 steps per day.

I started feeling poorly my first day in London, so my pace has been a little bit slower. I have stopped by a few hotels to see their accommodations and have gone on a couple of walking tours (I’m heading out to another walking tour in just a few minutes). On New Year’s Eve I went to see “We Will Rock You,” a musical based on the band Queen’s music. Then I walked back to my hotel and looked around at all the people gathering on the streets of London. On New Year’s Day, I went to the parade — what an excellent experience. I had grandstand seats and they were worth every penny. But, it was cold outside and I still felt cruddy, so I did leave a little bit early (which I probably shouldn’t have done, because I don’t believe that’s a common behavior here).

I am a bit relieved that the holiday is over. It’s intimidating being a solo traveler during the holidays. Typically in London I have no self-awareness when I go about my day on my own, but over the holiday, very few people are alone in the city. Also, I am looking forward to the streets/transportation being a bit less crowded.

That’s all for now. I’m off to a “Royal London” walking tour. More updates later!

Europe, Winter 2012-2013

8 days until I leave for Dublin, Ireland — a place I’ve never been, but will be taking college students in just over 12 months for a course in cultural psychology. Last Winter, I took a group to London, England, and this coming trip will start in a different place. So I will go and scope out hotels, sites, guides, tours, and events. It’s a rough job, isn’t it? I may not be gleefully looking toward the one day I have four walking tours booked, but I am very happy I have the chance to take them.

These trips are a lot of walking. The last group I brought was not prepared for the walking. I actually was, but only because I had just been on a similar tour two months before. I did not have a pedometer but I would guess at least 40,000 steps per day — the equivalent of about 20 miles. And Europeans — they do all of this in fabulous shoes.

There are so many things I am looking forward to on this trip. It is funny how you can spend so much time in a city and still have a “wishlist” of things you want to do. Here is a list of the things I am most excited about:

1. Dublin — Trinity College. Founded in 1592 (do we have anything that old in the US?) and home to the “Book of Kells,” written by monks in the 9th century.

2. Dublin — The Guinness Storehouse. I was feeling very nerdy after listing #1 so I thought I’d throw this in for good measure. Just so I don’t let myself get carried away, the Guinness Storehouse is the home of student’s t-test, a statistical necessity in behavioral science research.

3. Ireland — Belfast. I am taking a daytrip there, opting out of the typical trip to Cork/Blarney. I know very little about Irish history and hope to read up over break, but I know the divide between Ireland and Northern Ireland is an important one. I would like to learn more about this.

4. London (I’ve seen a lot in London — most things several times — so these are things I just haven’t gotten to yet, for the most part): The London Eye. I can’t believe I’ve never been up in it. It’s supposed to be wonderful. I hope whoever is stuck in that little glass egg with me doesn’t mind neurotic Americans.

5. London: Theatre. This time, I’m seeing “We Will Rock You” (the Queen musical) and “The Magistrate.” Whenever I bring a class, we will try to go to one musical (“Wicked” was received well) and one non-musical Broadway production. Maybe we’ll even get all crazy and go off-Broadway. Why not take advantage of being in such a theatre-rich city?

6. England: Oxford. I am taking a day trip to go to Oxford, England. I’ve been once but barely remember the two hours we spent there. One of my tripmates was obsessed with Alice in Wonderland (a passion I do not share), so we spent much of that time searching out the candy shop that a girl named Alice used to visit as a child. This time, I plan on taking a walking tour and getting to see the university — the oldest in the western world.

7. London: The London NYE Fireworks and NYD Parade. As the Queen musical lets out on Dec. 31, I plan on finding some hot tea or coffee and making my way to Big Ben to see the fireworks over the river. They are supposed to be spectacular. The next day, I have tickets for seats to see the end of the NYD Parade — which is supposed to be one of the best parades in the world. That seems pretty cocky, given Mardi Gras, Carnival, and Chinese New Year’s, but if it sucks then hey — free hot chocolate, and when I bring my students we’ll opt for a late sleep instead.

8: London: Hyde Park’s “Rotten Row.” This is a totally personal “I’m excited” thing. I have recently taken up running, which I both hate and love. I am joyous about the possibility of running in London’s fabulous parks, including London’s famous “Rotten Row.” I have become an exertourist.

9: London: Victoria & Albert Museum/Westminster Abbey. I lump these together because I am ashamed to admit that I have been to neither. I’d like to check them out so I have more options when deciding which tours to take with students. I almost signed up for a Harry Potter walking tour but decided no, I will wait until I have my students with me to do that one.

I will be bringing all kinds of bells and whistles with me in terms of technology, and most hotels offer free wi-fi connections now, so I will be updating regularly. This is such a departure from when I did study abroad, and had to pay $10/hr for internet use at the i-cafe down the street, as well as $20 for a 2-hour calling card.