Culture Shock

One of the first sights for people landing at the airport is the plethora of security officers holding assault rifles. This scene is a lot different than that of an American airport which usually has security officers with handguns holstered on their sides. After leaving the airport you’ll notice that cars drive on the opposite side of the street and that drivers sit in the opposite side of their cars. While walking around the city I noticed that London is a city filled with security cameras. There are numerous cameras on both the insides and outsides of city buses. While there are security cameras in a lot of stores in America there are not a lot of them in public, and most certainly not many on street corners. This was easily one of the biggest culture shocks I’ve experienced so far because if it were to happen in America then it would be violating our Constitutional rights. Another culture shock took not long after in a pub. When you go to pub in England and get a table you still have to go up to the bar and order your food/drinks. Waiters and waitresses are pretty rare, and the act of tipping is even more rare. This is because food industry workers make higher wages than their American counterparts, so they don’t have to rely on tips for their pay.

London: A Culinary Pilgrimage

When people think of food in the United Kingdom they think of bangers and mash, fish and chips, and crumpets with tea. What they don’t realize is that London is home to some of the best restaurants and bakeries the world has ever seen. One of my favorite activities, no matter where I am in the world, is to go to these renowned restaurants and find even better ones that fall far under the radar. I had a pretty long list of places I wanted to venture to in London, and I not only got to make it to all of them but I got to bring my classmates along for the ride. The only thing better than having a good meal is sharing that experience with as many people as possible. We went to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele, one of the best pizzerias in the world and also a big part of the book/movie Eat Pray Love. I ordered the same thing Julia Roberts had which was a Margherita pizza with double mozzarella, and it‘s safe to say it was easily one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. On Friday Caitlin and I ventured to Dominque Ansel’s bakery for his world famous Cronut™️, a croissant donut hybrid that was filled with a coconut ganache and covered in coconut sugar. The Cronut was so good that we came back the next day for another!
My list also included a bar that I have been dying to go for quite a while, Mr. Fogg’s Society of Exploration. This bar can best be described as the Willy Wonka factory of bars. The doorman takes your name for a reservation and proceeds to place a wooden ball on a metal track. You then follow the ball and track down the stairs where it lands at a hostess stand. The hostess then takes you either to a table or seats at the bar, your choice. The drink menu features a list of fun cocktails, but the Society of Exploration is best known for The Mechanical Mixologist. The drink is your standard Negroni, equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari, but instead of being prepared by a bartender it is made by a machine. The machine looks like the steering wheel of a pirate ship with compartments for all three liquids. Once ordered your glass goes on a conveyor belt and makes its first stop under the wheel. The liquids are poured into the glass and it moves down the line to receive one large square ice cube. The glass moves further down the line where a mechanical arm stirs the drink before it reaches the end of the belt. The bartender garnishes the drink with an orange peel and places it on a Mr. Fogg’s coaster in front of you. The drink isn’t different from any other Negroni but the machine and atmosphere is definitely worth experiencing. I hope to come back soon to find more hidden places. Thank you London, and as always Drink Responsibly.

Anyone Feeling 22?

By far the best part of this trip was being able to spend my 22nd birthday in London. This trip was something I will never forget and I wish I could spend a whole semester here and I definitely didn’t want to leave after meeting such an amazing group of people! The morning of my birthday we sat through two presentations; one from Tony Walsh on counterterrorism in the UK and another from Mark Brookes on hostage crisis and negotiation tactics. Following the presentations, we had the rest of the evening to ourselves in which most of us went to Slim Chickens (similar to Chick-Fil-A). The night was planned with another trip to Night and Day bar, in which we had discovered the first night. It was fun to bring our experience full circle and end at a really cool place that we had started at. Overall, not many people get to say that they spent their 22nd birthday in London, and I will forever cherish that.

Dr. B surprised myself and Ary with a little birthday dessert at dinner!

London Bridge and the remainder of the trip

London bridge just right across the river rhymes, this bridge is known for many reasons. like an old school nursery and being close to the palace being the location for an recent attack that occurred on said bridge. Unfortunately few weeks till our arrival a serious stabbing had occurred on the bridge where 5 people were stabbed and among the 5 two of them were fatal. Though it was a traumatic experience the attacker was caught and was charged with terrorist offences. Speaking of terrorist offences and faces charges, during the trip we visited one of London renown prisons
Prison Pentonville which is considered to be a category B prison. In this prison its more of a local prison on which they primarily focused on rehabilitation and not as serious offences. When we went on tour for the prison it seemed that if prisoners served thier time well and caused no problems they earned a lot of privileges. However when it comes to the London bridge stabber if they lived and got arrested and tried in court they would of not been held in this kind of prison they would of been in one the category A prisons like Belmarsh. After seeing the prison’s we also had lectures at the U.S embassy in London. From agents from the DEA, FBI, and Homeland Security and lastly NCIS. there were agents from each agency and they talked in depth their jobs and what they did in their career and how they worked with the U.S embassy in London and etc. With all the guest lecturers and with all we saw London had so much to offer. This whole experience is something I will never forget and take for granted at all

Ello Darling

This blog is about the people we met. As with any trip you are bound to meet new people but on this one, a majority of those we met were friends and colleagues of Dr. B. It was her connections that made this trip possible and so educational. So thank you to Dr. B and her friends. Along the way, we met people like Tony and Marc, who are magistrates at the court. Others we met included Kim, the head of security at Old Bailey’s Court, and James, our guide at Pentonville Prison. Of everyone, we met James was my favorite. He was the embodiment of British banter and an overall great guy. He was able to make the tour of the prison funny and memorable. In my opinion, the best moment was at the beginning of the tour when an inmate yelled: “This place is a shithole” out of his cell window. James casually responded with “Then why do you keep coming back?”. He was also able to join us for dinner that night which made things even more fun, especially since James keep saying Ello Darling. In the end the people all the people we met were great, knowledgeable about their field and are good connections.

U.S. Embassy

On the 7th of January, we visited the United States Embassy in London. When arriving, the building stuck out immediately due to its beautiful architecture and of course the huge American flag next to it. The building is only about 3 years old and is up to code with american embassy regulations and plans to be for many years. It was a beautiful building and included many security aspects, such as extremely thick glass windows, water surrounding one side of the building, and high tech security measures. I was surprised to see so much artwork displayed in the embassy, but it was nice to see art in a place that you would think to be all business no fun. We got presentations from many different agencies that work in the embassy. One of these included homeland security, which is my concentration! It was very interesting to see how America’s homeland security agents work in other countries. We all found it funny how by some weird coincidence, every person we saw was wearing blue suits while working. The presentations we received really shed light on what actually goes down inside an embassy. It made me consider working in one down the road.

Pentonville Prison

On Wednesday January 8th we all took a private tour of Pentonville prison in London. We sort of debriefed in an office before we actually went on the tour. During this we actually got to see weapons that the inmates and and also got to see very small cellphones that the inmates would smuggle in. We even got lanyards that we got to keep. In the office setting we also got to ask whatever questions we wanted to ask. During the tour we got to see everything and we learned that the US prison systems were actually based off of the British ones. We got to see the gyms the inmates have, we even got put into a cell. This prison was very old and they still used keys to open and shut doors. We ended up talking to three inmates about the prison and one of them actually ended up being from Chicago. After the tour we had a bit of free time and then had a group dinner at the Crusting Pipe which was very elegant and always a good time.

Counterterrorism Lectures

On Friday, we had the privilege of talking to Tony Walsh and Mark Brookes. Walsh and Brookes work for the Metropolitan Police Force and focus on counterterrorism measures to ensure the safety of all citizens in the UK. We learned that there are 43 police forces and 1 counterterrorism force in the UK. All officers in the UK carry chemical spray and a taser, but only 5% have a firearm in their possession.

We also looked at the ways in which they handle a terrorist attack in the UK. Most terrorist attacks fall into the substantial category meaning that there is a strong possibility that an attack will occur. In order to counteract these attacks they follow the 4 pillars. They prevent, pursue, protect, and prepare. They prevent attacks by looking at causes and trying to disengage any further activity. They pursue it by detecting and understanding the situation at hand. They protect their citizens in order to reduce the risk. They prepare themselves by ensuring they have the proper resources.

We also looked at the ways in which they try to negotiate with terrorists when they are dealing with a hostage crisis. Their first rule is that they can negotiate, but they do not make concessions meaning they do not give them ransom, change their laws, or follow demands such as releasing a terrorist member already imprisoned. They try to slow down the process by talking to them in order to get more information about their whereabouts and how to devise a plan to get the hostage released. This lecture opened my eyes to a new job path that I never thought about. I realized that the people who serve in the counterterrorism force are brave and I admire them for their courage.

The British Museum

On our last full day in the city of London, about half of our group decided to spend part of the day visiting the British Museum, located just a couple of blocks down the street from our hotel. After getting some food nearby and going through the security checkpoint, we entered the museum at about 3:30, having 2 hours left to explore the exhibits.

There were many sections featuring artifacts from early civilizations, including Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. Two of the most impressive artifacts (in my own opinion) in the museum that I was able to see were the Rosetta Stone (picture included) and an Easter Island head statue. The Rosetta Stone is a very important historical artifact dating back over 2000 years. Written in 3 languages, the stone contains segments of a speech originally given in Ancient Egypt, which allows others to begin to translate Egyptian hieroglyphics. The Easter Island head statue, originating from Chilean-governed Easter Island, did not have any writing inscribed on it, but it – and the others in existence – are widely known symbols of the island’s culture.

Other areas of the museum that interested me include the many marble carvings and statues of ancient Greece and Rome, as well as the exhibit(s) on Egyptian mummies.

The Rosetta Stone was discovered in 1799, and dates all the way back to 196 BC.

The Crown Court

Thursday we went to the crown court where we learned that higher graded offenses were usually done at these types of courts. We met up with one of Dr. Brennans friends and also a judge of the crown court. The judge basically explained the history of the court and talked about the gates of the city. She also talked about Charles Dickens and items that he wrote. We then sat in on an ongoing case that involved a murder with two juveniles. We got to see the murder weapon which was a massive blade and CCTV footage. Later on in the day we had another group dinner which was always nice. Then after that we all went out to celebrate aryanas birthday. It was a great day with many learning factors.