Monday Blues

It was Monday. 4/5 of the worlds least favorite day…I made this up but it very well could be in all ways true. Mondays are the days that it usually rains, or your favorite coffee shop is closed. Well this Monday was our last full day in the City of London together as a newly formed inseparable bond. We were told it was a free day which was in some ways a sigh of relief since it followed the two days filled with brain power and mental exhaustion, but in other ways felt surreal because this meant it was near the end of our journey. We were given the option to rest our tired little minds by sleeping in which unfortunately I grew weak to instantly. I love sleeping in more than ice cream at times like these. After my great nights slumber, I met up with a group that decided to make way to the Buckingham Palace. We spent a little while there, admiring the beautiful golden sculptures and large black gates. We then made our way to the London Eye, stopping frequently to oooh and aaaah at the geese, swan, and pigeons–


I decided to not take part in the London Eye experience but I enjoyed a nice noodle lunch with a friend from our group who had the same interest! After all of this goose observing, walking, and noodle indulging, I returned to THE room 515 to check in on our groups secret surprise. Everyone had taken part in a little something to show just a small amount of how we felt to the two that made this trip worth everything! We each took a few minutes to reflect on our experience(s) here in London, and thank both Ingrid and Regina for everything they did for each and every one of us. During our ‘last supper’, we presented the two prints to them, overwhelmed with appreciation. I still cannot begin to explain just how important these two were during this whole trip! They were great company, mentors, teachers, friends, and sometimes even tour guides.

Not only were both Ingrid and Regina super amazing during this trip– but the rest of the crew was pretty damn rad as well. I got to spend time with all 13 of them in one way or another and in just ten days, learned some of the most valuable and memorable things. I’ll share a couple with you—

  1. Steven has really good reflexes
  2. When given blocks on blocks of sticky notes, don’t EVER underestimate the power of the outcome
  3. Big Ben is a bit smaller than I had imagined
  4. Autumn is basically a traveling Tarot card mentor
  5. Reggie is always willing to high five me after being told “you’re being too loud”
  6. Nina has sick dance moves
  7. Referring to our hotel room as ‘home’ got kind of cute
  8. The Umass Lowell Art and Design Department contains some of the most inspiring, unique people you could ever hope to spend ten days with.

My numbered list could go on to the hundreds but I think my blog would get removed… so enjoy a few that sum it up in my eyes. I am so beyond thankful to have made the decision to go on this trip and pull it off. I feel like this was an experience of a lifetime and one that I will reflect on for the rest of my life. I learned more than I could of imagined learning especially within this timeframe. I am sad that this Monday (that actually wasn’t rainy) had to happen eventually but also extremely happy with the friendships that I walk away with and that beats any Monday filled with rain and closed coffee shops.

Blurry, but we tried


Sometimes, you push yourself and in the end it was worth the blood, sweat, and tears… and in this case the brain mush that began to slowly ooze out of our ears. Earlier in the week, Regina and Ingrid had informed us that there was a slight change in the itinerary due to the arise of opportunity. At first, this looked more intimidating than anything but as we collected more and more information on the switch, I grew more excited. We were now given the chance and opportunity to work at Big Radical in groups that were randomly selected. We worked for two days straight in the efforts to create a prototype, informing and helping those who formed a circle around an individual whom suffered from depression. Sounds and feels much like a mouthful if you asked me.

What got me interested was the topic that the Design Jam team decided to zone in on. We talked a lot about stigma of depression and just within those discussions you could bullet point reasons as to why this topic was so necessery and ever so important. Its hard to be human, and not everyone gives each other the credit that we all truly deserve… and without acknowledging this, we lose sight of the importance of being. Depression is a silent, dark place that nobody should have to go through alone, and the fact that Big Radical pulled something like this Design Jam together, really trying to bring discussion and positivity towards this issue was a major step upward and onward. I am so thankful to have been given the chance to meet the people I did during these two days. There were lots of moments of deep thought and silent observations as all the teams created something quite brilliant at the end! It all started with sticky notes and random thoughts, but these began to transform into possible app features and product. Everyone presented their pitch, which followed with a raised glass in company with a toast to all that took part. It truly was amazing what we all witnessed unravel in those two days. I soon realized that this Design Jam held a lot of lessons within it, some different than others but towards the end it all seemed like a lesson worth learning.

After the two hack-a-thon days came to an end, our upbeat selves tempted to do so as well. Our brains felt fried, and our eyes heavy, but we pushed through this to enjoy yet another night of each others company in the infamous Room 515.

A Title Doesn’t do the Garden Justice

Had my first brief meeting today…well kind of. We woke up groggy and ready to face another day with excitement and wonder but our morning was slightly different then the rest have been. We met in the lobby to follow Regina and Ingrid towards the conference room to await a Skype call in regards to the hack-a-thon tomorrow that pins on depression amongst college students. To me, this is so important. Although this was the result of changed plans, I think that it will be for the better and an experience that everyone should try and enjoy. I’m not one to put myself out there with 50+ people I have never met, but I have been a part of a convention similar to this one before and it is definitely something you will never forget. I think that the topic chosen to base the convention around is very important, hits close to home and becomes a personal matter. I’m excited to see and be a part of many creative brains attack a problem and work towards making a difference. It may have been a last minute change in the itinerary but I am confident for tomorrow being a positive change and leaving with a rewarding feeling. Stay tuned.

Shortly after the Skype call (and our rare hour nap in the a.m) I then went to the Kew Botanical Gardens. This was BY FAR THE BEST PART OF THE TRIP!!!!!! I was not only amazed but at peace which was really nice since we’ve been in the center of the city for a few days straight now. There were colors from nature surrounding me in its flowers, trees, and plants.

Although there was a small amount of buildings, even those held an immense amount of beauty. We strolled through slowly, taking it all in and giving it the respected time that the Earth truly deserves. After the gardens, our tired feet walked towards the underground for our next destination, a local book store called, “Treadwells Books”. This bookstore had shelves upon shelves of books relating to Wicca, spirits, herbal remedies, meditation and so on. I’ve never been to something like this but when in London; do what you wouldn’t normally! I appreciate all the things that Ive taken part in that I would have never expected to stem from this trip. It gives it a whole new dimension to the inspiration I felt was lacking back home. I really think this may have cured that rut I was in. London is full of color, noise, design, art, science, magic, faith, curiosity and so so much more! Im ready to take on my ideas and really try putting them to work… its time for some change because we all have to admit to ourselves, sometimes..change is good.


How to Motivate a Designer: Food & Good Company

Day 3 was a day to remember. Although it was the most tiring I do have to say, It was the most inspiring and made me think a lot more. We started off at the The Design Museum which held the Exhibit, “California: Designing Freedom”. As soon as I saw the name of the museum hung above me on the wall just outside the entrance, I knew this was going to be filled with everything we’ve been itching to see. The simplicity and lighting from the moment we entered made a bold statement especially in comparison to the different entrances we have seen previously. We entered the exhibit and not even five minutes in all you could hear was each and every one of us excitedly explaining what we just saw in a glass case on the other side and how amazing it truly was. It was something special to see posters that have made an impact in the past, and designs that changed the world. It was everywhere and all I could really think to myself was, the world is truly based on design and we are the future. I could never imagine being the artist behind some of these works…how was this talent even possible?!


After the design museum our stomachs grumbled and we knew it was time for something to eat to fuel us for the rest of the day as it felt our knuckles began to drag on the ground in defeat. Somehow we managed to coordinate for every single one of us to enjoy a lunch together, its kind of as if we like each other or something. After lunch, happy and full, we roamed Kensington to browse the shops and streets.



My excitement grew for that night because we were going to the Broadway show, “Wicked”. I have been lucky enough to have seen this whimsical play before with my senior class in high school on our class trip, and I had absolutely no problem seeing this work of wonder again. Afterwards, like clockwork, stomachs roared yet again and we began to hunt for something to eat. To my surprise London isn’t like I am and stays up till 4 in the morning, no… they shut down for 11 o’clock. This was a blessing in disguise as majority of us decided to cram ourselves into a single hotel room fit for two and order in. We continued our bond over food, design, and a quite loud sense of humor. Yet another day has passed with many miles covered and I am so happy I have the privilege of taking part in a trip like this.


I have never seen so many busy people with so many problematic umbrellas.. when it rains, it pours. Today the crew made its way towards the wax museum as the rain came pouring down. This museum didn’t fail to amaze. Everyone from Michael Jackson to the Beatles stood still in the most realistic ways. Similar to the past couple days our group of 16 slowly scattered, separating ourselves into smaller groups, I find it funny how it’s usually never on purpose, just due to the different interests and paces amongst us all. After the wax museum we set sail towards the British Museum. To be honest, it wasn’t that I didn’t have an interest, I just knew myself to get side tracked during exhibits and tend to rush through them so I truly underestimated this wonderful place. This time, the museum proved me wrong. I walked by statues that I had remembered learning about in class as well as the screen prints that I knew and loved by Warhol. It was quite rewarding recognizing some of these pieces and I appreciated a lot of what I saw today. The past year I’ve found art history more interesting than I would of thought and it was nice to see it be brought into this experience.

Although it’s not necessarily about what I’ve physically seen today, I would like to end with the overwhelming feeling of inspiration that London seems to have. I got a mini sketch book today that I would really like to push myself to use during this trip. I feel as if everywhere we go I see images in my head that I need to scribble on paper and I’d like to take this opportunity to keep up with something like this. Overall, today was filled with many forms of inspiration that stemmed from the Ancient Greek statues and the puddles that filled the streets. The creative juices are finally starting to flow and I’m hoping that this feeling just gets stronger.


Thoughts For The People of London

So it may be a last minute blog post, but its for the better I promise. As everyone arrived today, I got here yesterday, just in time for the world to take a moment of silence for London. I got here early afternoon, on June 3rd, ready to take on the streets, meet some new faces, and explore with those who were familiar to me from UMass Lowell. I arrived earlier than the rest so I tried keeping my explorations close to where we were staying during our time here.. responsible, right? Well sometimes you can’t really help what goes on around you, even if it’s minutes to where you feel most comfortable. I sat at a bar stool watching the biggest futbal game of the season, asking the locals to explain to me just exactly what was going on. People roared with rage then moments after yelled in celebration as it was clearly a good game. These people made me feel comfortable, at home even as it reminded me of the small town I grew up in. A single siren interrupted the celebrations which turned to dozens followed by police officers coming from no where. Screams filled the streets and blue lights lit up the buildings. At first, it was merely an accident, probably something minor. The police officers became more frantic and the people more confused. It wasn’t till shortly after that, people from home were texting me asking if I was okay. Photos from the news were sent to update me and I feel as if things got worse every minute. I wasn’t allowed to leave quite yet so I wasn’t entirely sure as to what EXACTLY was going on..finally officers came in yelling to evacuate and get home safe. Thanks to the friendly people I had met, I did exactly that with their help and guidance. It wasn’t until I was laying in bed with the news on when it hit me. This was happening, and I was in the center of it. It got me thinking, it wasn’t just happening then, but everyday. We don’t realize it though, because we aren’t really caught in the center of it..

Things are going on all over the world that we live in and usually tend to take for granted. People are getting hurt, innocent beings are being killed, ice caps are melting, and while all this is happening, we read about it on Facebook, ‘like’ the article and continue scrolling. This time, the happenings were much more than a Facebook post or a newspaper article..

I apologize for not updating this blog with the beautiful churches of London, or iconic red telephone booths that we all know and love, but I felt that this topic was a bit more heavy on my heart and deserved a bit of attention. My thoughts go out to all of those who were affected during this time as I hope the word feels the same.