After returning home and getting a full nights of sleep, I had time to truly reflect on this journey. I remember going on this trip being close with a few people and knowing others as just classmates. As the days went by we grew closer and developed a tight bond. I was always a little nervous because, with so many people you don’t know it can be hard to gauge how things will unfold. My friends have always told me while you’re abroad you’ll develop new and interesting friendships with the people you travel. That statement couldn’t be more true. Waking up early everyday and seeing London with everyone made this experience so worthwhile. As nights ended I truly looked forward to what would happen the next day planned or not because of the good times we’d all share.
Getting on the plane home I had a case of “London-sickness” because I knew that a chapter was about to end. Knowing that I’ll wake up the next day and I won’t be adventuring somewhere in London was definitely a little sad. This was my first time flying without my family let alone leaving the country. Even though, I was little nervous, this journey proved to worthwhile and helped me create bonds that otherwise I wouldn’t have. On my way to work the next day my feelings of London-sickness have subsided and I can now say that I’ve made new everlasting bonds. Being home I was able to be thankful for not only being able to travel to London, but the people around me. Thank you to everyone that made this experience not only special, but truly unforgettable.
I can’t believe how fast the days flew by. With our last full in London, I woke up early and trekked to the Harry Potter store at King’s Cross with Arthur, Autumn, Sheila, and Andrea. I couldn’t keep out of my head how weird it is that our experience all together was coming to an end. After the Harry Potter Store, I went back to take a much needed power nap on Autumns bed while Arthur called to have our Oyster cards fixed. After 20 minutes, I was woken up and ended up finishing my nap in my room. Later on, I woke up to get ready for our final group dinner. At dinner, I had a full realization that our trip was over and that this was our last celebration of being all together. The italian food was amazing (thanks UML) and we shared tons of final laughs at the table. After we finished eating, we presented our group presents to Ingrid and Regina for guiding us on this amazing experience. After dinner, we all went out for our last night abroad which ended up being one of my favorite nights. Going to bed that night was a little hard, because I knew that my time in London was over for now.
Waking up was extra rough this morning (Being out until 3am doesn’t help), but it was the first day of the Hackathon. I woke up a passed my alarm clock, but I eagerly got up and ran downstairs just in time to trek to Big Radical. I know there were some people a little peeved by this impromptu Hackathon, but I was overall excited to see how an agency works and to dip my toes in UX. Although I was excited, I was also a little nervous due to my huge lack of UI/UX experience, but it only motivated me to learn and perform to my best ability. Getting there I was teamed up with Otto and Steven, which gave me comfort because we all had tons of strengths that would easily help us collaborate together. I was also paired with David, Yihan and our team leader Anna who were in business, data analytics, and marketing. Interestingly enough we all meshed and our ideas were flowing. After 9 exhausting hours of brainstorming we were finally able to conjure up an interesting idea that utilizes Augmented Reality to tackle depression. After a couple beers, we all went to the hotel where everyone pretty much just relaxed after a very demanding day.
This morning I woke up on time and got a full breakfast. I was super excited for day 2 because, it was time to make our idea come to life. As soon as we arrived, we split into our teams and started working. Otto, Steven, and I worked on prototyping while our other teammates worked on the presentations and the analytics on how this product would work and effect the public. While 9 hours seems like an immense amount of time we slowly realized it wasn’t. We were working very quickly, which made me learn a lot on the fly about UI/UX at a rate I’ve never before. As the hours went by we finally developed our platform, “Chat Cloud”, and presented it to the judges. Overall this was an amazing experience and I would love to participate in more Hackathons in the future.
Everyone knows about my love affair with food and today it peaked in London. We went to an interesting restaurant called “Babylon” which essentially is located at the top floor of a 7 story building with a flamingo garden. Even though I never saw a flamingo (still peeved I didn’t), the overall experience amazing. We went to this restaurant thanks to Kaity’s incredibly cool aunt. I will admit it’s always awkward meeting other people’s family at first, but she was goals (I want to be the “cool” uncle to my niece). Now lets get to the dinner, it was a beautiful 3 course meal with an intense aroma of diverse flavors and spices. We started with a risotto that had a complex sweet and salty flavor that was to die for. Five minutes went by and it was already gone. The next meal was lamb with peas which cooked to perfection which was a little bit more filling, and I couldn’t have been happier. With that being said my dessert was this green ice cream that I still have no clue what it was. Top top this meal off there we as a party went through three bottles of probably the best red wine I’ve had. It’s safe to say that was the best meal I’ve had in London by far.
The Design museum was probably my favorite destination on this trip because of their exhibition “California: Designing Freedom”. My mind was blown because even though this was an American exhibition, it would not have had the same curation or thematic integrity in the US. Freedom comes in many shapes and forms, and as an African-American in the US it doesn’t always feel that way. This exhibition however highlighted not only the incredible design that came out of California, but exposed works that moved social progression. I felt a strong personal connection to the works, because many are usually seen as “too controversial” in the US. Seeing these works reaffirmed my hopes that there is a group of people who believe in progression and can recognize stable change.
When we left the exhibition, we created an interesting logo that represents our design family. I loved this exercise, because it was a fun way to show our relationship which I think really developed more on this trip. I chose to substitute the “0” with the London underground symbol, and points that almost mapped out the London routes to represent our progression. For me, it also shows the connectivity that we all have together and how this trip is a huge bonding experience. Today was one of my favorite and it makes me sad to think this trip is almost halfway over.
As usual it was down pouring in London, except this time it was right in the morning. I still haven’t had breakfast, which I really should attempt to get besides stuffing six croissants in my mouth. We trekked through the rain, maneuvering through the endless parade of umbrellas that kept hitting me in the face. After our train ride we made it to the wax museum (awful way-finding), which ended up being a lot of fun besides getting incredibly lost along the way. After, we trekked to the British Museum where I went on my mission to find the Parthenon relief sculptures. This was super amazing because I wrote an essay talking about Greece requesting the return of their sculpture last semester. It ultimately helped me develop a more intense relationship, because we all know pictures isn’t the same as seeing it in person.
To my surprise I was blown away by the “The American Dream: Pop to the Present” exhibit. My prior knowledge of American art in print isn’t very high besides Andy Warhol of course. To my surprise not only did I learn about various other artists, but a piece by Kara Walker gave me the chills. Her work consistently challenges ideas concerning race in American society which really hits home for me. Even though its only been a few days in London I’ve already expanded my horizon and I can’t wait to only learn more.
As most people know my favorite past time includes eating, drinking, and of course sleeping… emphasis on the sleep. I woke up today with a knock and a text “Are you up”. Of course this isn’t the hottest way to start ones morning especially on the first day getting ready to explore London. Waking up realizing I only have 15 minutes to get ready (Shout out to Sarah for waking me up) I got up,hopped in the shower, and hurried downstairs as fast as I could. Luckily I wasn’t super late and we were able to go on the “Hop Off- Hop On” bus tour.
This tour was honestly a lot of fun, because not only was I able to get an incredible view of monumental sights, but great commentary on historical facts and sights. This tour was fantastic overall, which showed with my killer picture of Big Ben. After a while, we hopped off the bus and started exploring Piccadilly Square, where there were tons of little shops and pubs. My favorite spot however was the book store which is my biggest weakness with reason being that my “to read” list is far bigger than my “read” list (oops). I picked up one interesting book called “The Gift How The Creative Spirit Transforms the World” which talks about the “importance of creativity in our increasingly money-driven society.”
I instantly gravitated to this book, because as a creative in a field that is of course very business and client heavy it seems to be hard to keep YOUR creative integrity. Don’t get me wrong, I love design and typography but from talking to other professionals it seems that this is a common issue. I’m not necessarily nervous of this happening to me, but to neglect that this could happen isn’t wise. I guess my goal with this novel is to read more, and understand bigger picture ideas so that I’m better prepped for the future.
(Me holding Arthur’s Cat a few hours before driving to the airport)
Today, I officially embarked on the UMass Lowell Design Study Abroad trip to London. Not only is this my first time ever going to London, but it’s also the first time I’ve left the country. My family has flown out of the country many times, but I’ve always been bound to various responsibilities such as school, watching the dog, or lacking sufficient funds. With that said, I knew I had to seize this opportunity and finally break the bubble that I’ve had for the past 20 years. I knew this trip would not only be an enjoyable experience, but broaden my understanding of different cultures.
Every step of the process was not only new, but a huge learning experience. Being a pseudo-adult I was responsible for getting myself on this trip, not my parents. With that said, I learned a new level of independence in regards to filling out paperwork, saving enough money, and flying without family. As months of preparation past by, it was time to embark on this new journey.
In the past I have flown with my family many times, but this was the first without them. I thought this was going to be a way more difficult process but I was able to get to my gate in a quick and efficient manner. As I waited for everyone to arrive (I arrived at the airport first), my anticipation and excitement only heightened.The higher the plane rose, the heavier my eyes became. Still I couldn’t sleep because of my growing curiosity of what I’d expect in this new and different location.
We finally landed, the jet lag really kicked in. Because I’ve never left the country, I wasn’t use to being in an intensely different time-zone with more than a two hour difference. Being a design student however, I was no stranger to a lack of sleep. After trekking through customs and taking a cab I was finally in London. After months of prep I was finally embarking on my journey that I’ve been looking forward to. Even though, I’ve only been in London a brief time, the city is truly magnificent and grand and I can’t wait to see what it can offer me in these next 10 days.