Day Nine

Well, there ya have it folks.

It’s our final night here in the city of London. I am finding that 10 days was the perfect amount of time to spend here, for me at least. Yesterday I would’ve said that I wasn’t ready to leave, but now I am.

Upon leaving for this trip, I had been in San Fran for 5 days and then home for a few and then I was off and flying again. You could say I am certainly ready to relax at home. This summer has already been one of the busiest yet, but I love it. Reflecting on this study abroad trip, I am so, so grateful for the experience.

I think there is slight a divide between students in our major who commute and those who live on campus. I did live on campus, but I was the only one who lived on east campus out of my whole class who lived on south. I definitely felt like that distanced me from those students as well, which was really difficult for me. They all became close from living in the LLC together when I ended up living on a business student floor on the other side of the city. Most of my closest friends are now business majors, not that that was a bad thing, but it took away from the relationships I feel like I could’ve made stronger if I was there all the time. Living on east campus drew me away from south campus which I purposely chose to do because, at the end of the day I wanted to separate myself from where I spent so many hours in class. That just works better for me.

This trip though, brought those from all locations together. I am so happy to say I can walk away from this experience with 15 close friends, the professors included. My relationships grew stronger by the day, and the older I get, the more that matters to me. I would say that I am a pretty shy person upfront, but I like to think once I’m warmed up, that part of me subsides.

I will never forget London by Design, and I hope to make it back here one day, who knows, maybe one of the connections I made at the hackathon will convince me to get on out here for work.

Aside from the pretty gloomy weather, this trip was hands down amazing, and I feel as though I’ve grown as a student, designer, and friend. Thank you UML for making all this possible.

Peace, and love.


Trust the Process

The past two days have been so incredibly draining. I have never done a Hackathon before and yes I was very weary about it, but it taught me some amazing things. I was a little nervous about being thrown into this event with only a few days notice. I was also nervous about the team situation, and how many people would be on them, and what was expected of me. I feared letting my team down.

One time I was asked to really think about this question: What is your biggest fear? After a lot of thought, I’ve narrowed it down to this: I am afraid of not being good enough. And I mean that in all aspects of life. But this weekend in specific, I was afraid I would not be a good enough designer, teammate, communicator or even leader in some instances.

What helped my comfort level during the Hackathon was that my entire group in which I traveled with was there, two classmates were even in my group! It was nice to have familiar faces around and people I felt at ease to talk to.

Of course as one of the three graphic design students on my team which had the beautiful and creative name of BlueSky (haha) I enjoyed the visual parts of the project the most. Our solution for the issue at hand was essentially a chatbot (Ava) who could direct a conversation with someone who has a friend that could be showing signs of depression or who are depressed by consulting and advising each situation in a unique way.

Circling back to the part that I enjoyed the most, I was a soul believer that naming our service was a very important part of the process and would take a lot of thought. We wanted it to simple and straight to the point but also friendly and approachable. Searching for keywords that fit well with our product we came across the word Avail. Which means help. Stemming from that word we got Ava. Ava is also in the word available which she is, 24/7 through any social media platform. It’s as easy as friending her page.

I also had so much fun designing a logo for Ava aside my teammates. Looking at the process is one of my favorite things and it makes me feel very accomplished. Here is how we landed on the final version.

Starting with something like this, except an extremely rough version which was scribbled out on a sticky note:

Adding color and leaving shape but taking away the lines we got to this point (are you seeing fortune cookies too?):

Then one of my teammates suggested we look at the shape that is created once we combine both the A and V of the previous design:

Refining the inner structure of the shapes we then got to this point:

After realizing it resembled that of an easter egg we gave the shape a more round appearance, trying many variations of color to still give it a playful appearance we landed on this:

Finally, giving it a bit more dimension and sophistication with the spaces that we created between each opacity we agreed on our final logo:

I’m extremely proud of my team and all that we accomplished in the past few days and I think it was a great experience for us all.

Day Six

Today I spent five hours at the Kew Royal Botanical Gardens. Five. Hours.  Exploring almost, if not all of the grounds. Starting in the Palm House Parterre which must’ve been at least 80 degrees and extremely humid for all of the plants which require that type of climate. It was interesting the way they positioned all of them, categorized by the country they originate from. The house was filled with life, literally to the brim! From the outside you could see leaves pressing against all of the windows high, high up in the building. There was a plant that if you ran your finger along it, all of it’s leaves closed up as if it was scared/hiding! I’ve never seen anything like that before.


Making our way over to the Woodland area we took an elevator to the Treetop walkway. It was a little scary but good thing I’m short, the railing was almost as tall as me which helped with my minor fear of heights. Discovering a manmade log path was one of my favorite parts of the whole garden! The logs had stairs carved into them along with foot holes and even the type of tree they were. A long line of them created a path which made it so fun to jump from log to log.

Through the redwood forests… Please tell me you sang that in your head like I did ALL day after I spotted them. Well, anyways, if you’ve never seen redwood trees, they’re GIANT and beautiful.

Regina also talked about her process when it comes to her botanical artwork which was so interesting because as a graphic design professor we don’t often hear her talk about that topic much. She inspired me to get back into painting a little, by saying that becoming a graphic designer and focusing on the details (i.e. kerning and space around the letter) made her a better illustrator and painter in the long run.

The rest of the day myself along with a few friends explored the Covent Garden area where we watched many street performers who always mange to get a few dollars from me! Always helping out the starving artists ;). Tomorrow is the Hackathon, which after a conference call with a representative this morning, I am feeling much better about. It should be fun, and creatively inspiring!!

To end the blog, here are a few of my favorite pictures from today:

Days Four and Five

Out of all the things we have listed on the itinerary I was most excited for The Design Museum. Upon arrival to the site all of my designer-y nerves in me were tingling. From the advertisement for the exhibits inside to the sign for the museum itself, I was loving it. I love design, hence why I chose this major. It inspires me greatly and honestly, looking at good design just makes me happy. I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face this morning. But for some reason I thought the museum would be showing mostly if not all graphic design works. I was naive of me to think this way but I am almost happy I made this mistake because wow, walking through the modern wooden doors and down the neon lit hallway that opened up to a large room with so much more than just graphic design, I was speechless. I honestly felt like a kid in the candy shop. There was so much to see, I was so excited I really had to show myself down as I took everything in. Posters, books, furniture, paper products, surf and skateboards, were just some of the things that were included in the exhibit.

What really caught my attention was the self driving car they had on display. I had first heard about these probably early 2016 when my uncle who lives in San Francisco was talking about it at a family gathering. “It is really strange to look out the window and see a car driving with nobody in it.” I couldn’t believe what he had said, I didn’t think I had even heard him right, I had no idea self driving cars were even in the making. I was informed at the museum by a classmate that the testing that they’ve done with it is 90% reliable which is still not enough to have them on the roads yet, but the good news was that the accidents that the prototypes had been in came from other vehicles on the road meaning it wasn’t the fault of the self driving car. This concept was/is so interesting to me because that is the future, that is the direction were going in. I mean come on! How cool is it to look at a car without a steering wheel that is designed for riding and not driving! That experience is going to be so different and I wonder how it will effect us, the invention and innovation got me excited for what is to come. And come on- look at that clean logo!

-Bubbly self driving car w/ cute logo. Notice the position of the seats since there is no steering wheel!

Today, (Thursday) was the day we went into Kingsington for the V&A along with the Natural History Museum (both of these places had amazing logos in my opinion).

Upon arrival to the Victoria and Albert museum we were able to view that Christobal Balenciaga showing. He was a master at fashion design from Spain. I really enjoyed the exhibit and his works because he focused a lot on form rather than sexualizing the female body by sucking in the waist and accentuating the chest. He created his own silhouettes with different and new designs with ruffles, unique material, layers and intricate tying methods.

The Natural History Museum had some very confusing wayfinding methods which helped me gather some pictures for one of the assignments I will be completing to go along with this study abroad experience. But besides that, it was an extremely cool place to explore. With three interesting gift shops to correlate with the topics of the museum such as human evolution, volcanoes and earthquakes along with dinosaurs and other animals it was a great place to spend some time. They also had a tent outside filled with butterflies that you could pay to go and stand in the little habitat that was created for the little flying friends.

I was very proud of knowing my way back on the tube today, getting off at a different spot and also getting back from there on foot. I know the underground systems better than I do in Boston! London is a very comfortable city for me, it sort of feels like home.

I’m looking forward for the drawing lesson Regina is teaching tomorrow when we visit the gardens. And I’m awaiting the awesome experience of the Hackathon this weekend.

Until tomorrow. Cheer!


Day Three

Up and at it we were this morning. Heading out in the pouring rain all 16 of us dodged the speedy business people of the financial district with their colorful umbrellas. Not only was the sidewalk packed, but the underground as well. It seemed as though we hit it right at the busiest time for commuters. Stuffed into the second train that came our way (because the first one was too packed for us to fit), we maneuvered our way to through the tunnels on various lines towards Madame Tussaud’s wax museum. There are a few of these in the U.S. but I had never been to one until now, in London. It was very interesting, to say the least, and a lot more entertaining than I thought with the ride and 4D attraction.

After a healthy lunch in what ended up being a student lounge for UCLU we made our way to the British Museum. And man, is that place HUGE! We were there for a little while before our tour of the American Pop exhibit so we chose to look around at the Ancient Egyptian section along with the one for the Parthenon. It would seriously take you weeks to digest the entirely of the museum. But from the places I was able to explore, the museum’s brand identity and way-finding systems are on point and extremely aesthetically pleasing with all of the white space they use.

After a long day we returned back to the hotel with sore feet and growling stomachs which is honestly a sign of a good day to me. Grabbing dinner as a group at a local restaurant down the street as it stopped raining was a great way to end it. (We even spotted a rainbow from the window!) I’m excited for what tomorrow has in store!!

Day Two

Today it was quite cloudy in London. It had us shivering on the tops of the double decker busses that we hopped on and off of, familiarizing ourselves with the city all day. Rain drops started to fall as we boated along the Thames getting fantastic views of the London Eye and The Tower Bridge. Although the weather wasn’t particularly on our side, the morale was still high.

Breaking out of our 16 person group around lunchtime allowed for a more quaint experience in a small pub just outside of Leicester square. After finishing my meal of fish and chips we explored both the touristy parts of Piccadilly Circus and the more quiet surrounding streets. Coming across tiny antique shops and hidden bookstores (one with a pretty substantial section of art and design books!!) made it feel as though the city isn’t so big and overwhelming after all.

The more time I spend out in the city the more fascinated I am by the mixture of old and new architecture that London embraces. The contrast between the historic stone buildings and modern glass ones just works so seamlessly here. Even though much of the skyline contains those tall and shiny structures, I have an admiration for the charming small businesses that you just so happen to stumble upon such as this one:


Overall- a very exciting first full day on the town. Off to dinner! Cheers!

Day One

“Stay safe, I love you”. Texts like this poured into my phone from friends and family while sitting at the airport the night of June 3rd awaiting the flight to London. The heartbreaking news of the attacks around the London Bridge area was alarming to say the least. When traveling abroad, safety is the most important thing these days. It has always been stressed to me since being a child to stay in groups, be cautious and aware of your surroundings and try to get a sense of the area as fast as possible to realize what places you probably shouldn’t hang around. But with all that said, you can never prepare for something like what happened in London that night.

Of course it’s been on my mind, along with the professors and peers I am traveling with but we refuse to let it change the way we look at this trip. We are doing everything we can to ensure that this study abroad experience will not only be a safe one, but a great one. This, being my first trip to London, I can definitely say that I am so excited to see what the city has to offer. Just from the minor sightseeing we did today, it is a beautiful place and I am so glad to have this opportunity as a UMass Lowell Graphic Design student.