24 February, 2011

The Many Forms of Travel

Travel- what can I say about it?  We all do it.  We travel to work, we travel to study, we travel for pleasure.  Travel to work is the one where we look for patterns.  You see the same people from day to day on your train or bus or in the street.  And when the pattern varies, you notice.  Perhaps so much so that you comment on it, for example, if your train leaves 2 minutes earlier than it is scheduled to leave so that even though you thought you were going to be on time you actually ended up having to wait 20 minutes for the next one, or if your bus is rerouted because the police have blocked off a sizable portion of the Walworth Road due to some undisclosed event.  Traveling to study is pretty obvious.  All our students got on a plane to come to the ICLC.  It's something interesting and different, and, unique compared to the other 2 kinds of travel, it's perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Traveling to study is a springboard for a lot of traveling for pleasure for many of our students, too.  This is the kind where you have to hope that no patterns form and that each place is interesting and different.  I have noticed a few themes in study abroad inspired travel for pleasure.

There is the study abroad student who is determined to go to as many places as possible.  As a result, when their 4 months of study are done, they have also packed in trips to Paris, Dublin, Rome, Prague, Munich, Athens, Barcelona and Amsterdam.  And that's not including break week or trips with the ICLC.  This type of travel requires an enormous amount of energy and a love of waking up early/sleeping in airports.  I commend that dedication!

The next type of student travel is the one to family or friends in Europe.  This often takes students to places which are less tourist driven than the cities previously mentioned.  They might have cousins in Marseilles or friends studying in Marrakesh.  In this type of travel students often get a much more local experience by visiting someone who lives there.  They eat in small restaurants off the main roads and visit markets that they may not have found on their own.  And your hosts may even be your guides to take you to the highest point in Bratislava or introduce you to contemporary Estonian folk music.

Another type of travel that takes students to less obvious destinations is the mission to discover their European roots.  This has taken me to Ireland, France and Germany.  I have seen it take other students to Holland, Denmark, Brittany and Glasgow.  This type of travel can be tricky because it may be focused around a small or little known landmark, such as a house, farm, shop or street.  While finding these particular spots may end up being fruitless (my mother and I traveled all the way to Strasbourg before she admitted that she wasn't sure what her mother's house number had been as a child, though she was pretty sure she might be able to recognize it is she saw it in the row of buildings that all looked the same to me) getting there is usually a story in itself.  What makes this kind of journey even more difficult is not knowing whether the place you are looking for is actually still there or not.  My great-grandfather's family farm had been replaced by a shop that specialized in ceramic tiles.

The other type of student travel is the the UK based journey.  Some students prefer to get to know the ins and outs of London on their weekends or to save money on day trips to places like Brighton, Oxford and Cambridge.  Some students have family in the UK who they spend the day with and some use these day trips to case out possible graduate schools. 

I think most students fall under more than one of these categories at one stage or another during their stay over here.  Just to make it more interesting, the ICLC has competitions for break week.  There is a competition to bring back the tackiest souvenir and the postcard competition in which the card must be written in the native language of the country it is from and posted into the ICLC.  There are also the competitions that are judged at the end of the semester for photography and travel writing.  More details will be posted about the competitions.  Good luck and happy travels!

-Claire (not Elsie, she's away in Finland)

15 February, 2011

S11 Scavenger Hunt #3: More of John's London and a little of North London

This week we have another contribution from John Birk.  I'm beginning to get the sense that he's missing London.  John would like you to find where he took this photograph, perhaps on your way to travel to the continent, and take a photo of yourself sitting here.
I would like you to find an Angel in North London.  I don't just mean a photo of the Tube station.  Local area businesses have surely capitalized on this name, so it needs to be an image of an angel in Angel.  Happy hunting!

-Elsie (and Claire and John Birk)

11 February, 2011

Brush up on your Beatles trivia: 2 quizzes

So you think you're an expert on Beatles trivia?  Each quiz is worth tenner, going to the first person to give the right answers to Bill (don't worry, you don't have to answer both if you don't want to).

I.  Identify the song linked to the phrases below, and then, taking the first letter from each title, rearrange them to for a critical word for Scousers.
  1. Paul's song about John's son
  2. A home in Tuscon, Arizona
  3. The Albert Hall features in this song
  4. The girl was a big teaser taking the boy half-way there
  5. How did she ever pay the rent?
  6. Introducing Billy Shears
  7. Dancing through the night with a 17 year old
  8. Marshmallow pies and marmalade skies
a. What is the hidden word? 
b. What is its significance?
Email your answers to Bill if you want to win £10!
II. The following anagrams are portions of lines from Beatles songs.  The combination of the first letters of each unscrambled line forms something that is relevant to the Beatles.  The first correct answer emailed to Bill wins £10 (or a date with Paul McCartney if you're lucky).
  1. Zenith vain he ash
  2. Mediate dot junk
  3. Heated nurse
  4. Arched even twin
These are the real Beatles, right?

 May the best Beatles-quizzers win!

04 February, 2011

Sarah’s contribution to Liverpool

I am not Liverpudlian, until I worked for Ithaca I had not been to Liverpool, but there was a Liverpudlian boy in my life when I was 15. I did not go to school with him, but I met him on a week long First Aid Course on an Army base in Aldershot.  He was a nice boy with a strange accent that I hadn’t really come across before. There weren’t many Liverpudlians in Holland and for my year or so in England I hadn’t come across a real one either. I say ‘real one’ as there used to be a soap opera called ‘Brookside’ on TV that was set in Liverpool, so I was familiar with the accent.

The school I attended in England made you join the Combined Cadet Force from the ages of 14-16. You basically had a choice between joining the Army, the RAF or the Navy. My friend B promptly informed me that the Navy was the best as it was the easiest.  Seeing as I had never heard of the CCF before, I was still in shock from having to wear school uniform and call my teachers sir or miss, never mind the idea that I had to wear the Army, RAF or Navy uniform every Wednesday afternoon for 2 years of my life, I was easily persuaded. It was the best decision of my life. It turned out the RAF and Army CCF were quite hardcore. They were clearly not meant for me. I was much more comfortable in the Navy, where we occasionally had to practice how to march in rank and laughed away 2 years worth of Wednesday afternoons.  There was a serious side to it and I am quite the dab hand at tying knots!  They also made you go on a course in one of our holidays. B and I looked at our course options and quickly realised that a week long first aid course was for us.

We packed our bags and jumped on a train to the army base and this is where we met the Liverpudlian. As it turned out, there were two other boys from our school who had opted for the same course. It turned out that the two boys as well as B and myself were all Welsh...what could this say about the Welsh? All the other courses were all about the Navy and quite serious. We Welsh clearly prefer life skills and saving lives.

The first day we started with the basics, where to find the pulse. The aim was to introduce yourself to your neighbour by feeling their pulse. I was sat next to the Liverpudlian. I found myself a pulse and a new boyfriend. Sadly, throughout the week it turned out we were not meant to be. I felt we had too many differences;
• He opted to dress up in the navy uniform, I was made to.
• He was really into sailing, I wasn’t.
• He wanted to study medicine, I wanted to study fashion.
• He loved spending his summers in Southampton, I needed a map to locate Southampton.
• He had a Liverpudlian accent and I liked Scottish accents.

The Liverpudlian and I remained friends for about 2 years and he even came to visit me on his way to Southampton one summer. Just think, if it had turned out that we were meant for each other, I could be a Scouser who lives on a sail boat or in Southampton.

02 February, 2011

Liverpool is Remarkable

Yup, so remarkable that I took my wife…much to her horror: she thinks Venice is a proper setting for an anniversary weekend whereas I am more conscious of the environmental plight of the city with its overflow of tourists …to Liverpool for our wedding anniversary a few years back. Score after 1st inning: Bill 1 [for courage alone], Wife 0. No make that Bill 2, Wife 0, as my firm ‘friends of the earth’ stance deserves another point.  Of course, she got her own back by booking the most expensive hotel in town [after the Beatles themed ‘hard day’s night’ hotel] and the most expensive restaurant. Score after two innings: Bill 2, Wife 2.

But, as luck would have it, the advantage swung first her way, then mine, because the hotel, on HOPE Street, between the 2 cathedrals – a point for my wife as all marriages are ‘hopeful’ and this marriage is ‘between faiths’ as I come from a ‘Paddy’s Wigwam’ background while she has roots in sturdy establishment Protestantism [no way Venice can compete as it lacks religious diversity] - was also the location where Liverpool FC house their new signings until they get a flat or house of their own. So Rafa Benitez, now of Inter Milan, and Fernando Torres, now of Chelsea, might have stayed in our room, showered in our shower, slept in our bed.  Score after 3 innings: Bill 4, wife 3. Not to be outdone, more expensive restaurants were found [Score: Bill 4, Wife 4, Wallet minus 5], but I swiftly countered with the finest marble urinals in the world, at the Philharmonic, John Lennon’s favourite bar, where the great man no doubt sought relief on many occasions during his student days as he hardly ever went to class.  The ‘Phil’ allows escorted women to view the urinals [Bill 5, wife 4, wallet recovering as viewing the urinals is free]. Oops, I just scored an ‘own goal’ with the Phil’s marble urinals: Lennon was notoriously unfaithful to both his wives, clearly not a subject to be brought up on an anniversary weekend. Score after 4 innings: Bill 5, Wife 5.

Tension rose in the relationship as each sought the final advantage. We ferried across the Mersey and visited Port Sunlight, which didn’t change the score.  I suggested Stanley Park, she suggested Crosby Beach.  A stroll through a park [named after the same family which donated the Stanley Cup to the NHL Champions, but really to see the grounds of Liverpool FC and Everton FC which adjoin the park] or a stroll along a beach. OK, it’s August, let’s go to the beach…where 100 naked men stood staring out to sea. Final Score: Bill 5, Wife 6. Men will never win.

-Bill (Elsie is not Bill's wife)

01 February, 2011

All You Need is Liverpool

We all probably know a lot more about Liverpool than we think.  You have probably heard of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields.  You may have also heard of Liverpudlian, Eleanor Rigby.  She was a local, so you clearly have more local knowledge than you thought you had.  The Beatles sang about what was around them.   They provided food for thought as well.  "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"  If you look around the London Centre, you might even find someone asking that question. 
Someone here was asking, will you still need me, will you still feed me?

You can be a Beatle, too!
In a few weeks we head for Liverpool on a trip that is pertinent to British Pop students, Sport in the UK students, British Youth Culture students, Art in London students and anyone who has ever liked the Beatles or Liverpool FC.  We will get to hear proper Scouse accents, which a few years back had a few students thinking they were hearing Swedish accents.  In fact, start training your ear now.  How much of what Liverpudlian comedian, John Bishop, is saying can you understand?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqgwO4zKKkw&feature=channel

For the art students among us, get ready for Crosby Beach!  Antony Gormley made 100 casts of his naked body which were installed in a few settings, but have settled on Crosby Beach.  Yes, this is like an ultra modern nude beach, where the statues are the naked ones.  The rest of us will probably be too chilly to strip down ourselves (this is not a challenge, just take my word for it).
Katie and Greta tried to warms up Antony in November 2009.
Keep trying to win Bill's quizzes on the trip, and I am offering a special prize to any student who bags Steven Gerrard!