Postcard from Europe: Stephanie Chism

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Stephanie Chism is a senior social work major who is bound for many more great adventures after she graduates in May.  This was her third time traveling with us Woods Around the World, having toured Italy in 2011 and having worked at Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in 2012.

What was one of your favorite moments from the trip?

My favorite moments from the trip were the bonding experiences we had and the time I got to spend with other travelers. Of those moments one of my favorites was experiencing the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin with friends. Getting to explore London was also one of my favorites.

Which site(s) did you enjoy seeing the most?  Why?

My favorite sites to see were Edinburgh Castle, Windsor, and the Tower of London. I enjoyed these the most because I loved the exquisite architecture and the beautiful interior. Standing inside such old, beautiful building was amazing. Possibly my favorite part about these sites though was actually being able to see the inside of places I had read about in books. Growing up I loved reading books set in the medieval period, so I read many books that talked about those areas and could only imagine what they looked like. It was amazing to be able to actually see these wonders firsthand and not have to imagine about what they looked like.

What did you do with your free time in any of the cities we visited?

As David liked to call it, I did some extensive “retail therapy” with my free time in most of the cities we visited. I also enjoyed site seeing many of the places that we did not have scheduled tours for, such as Westminster Abbey and Buckingham Palace. During some free time in London I also watched a performance of The Phantom of the Opera.

What was one cross-cultural experience you had on the trip where you knew you were definitely in a different country?

The greatest cross-cultural struggle for me was remembering to look a different way before crossing the street. There were more than a few times when I looked the wrong direction and nearly stepped out into traffic. Eating Haggis was another cross-cultural experience that turned out to be very delicious although it did not sound appetizing. In the end it turned out to be a pleasant experience with a foreign food.

What did you gain by traveling with Woods Around the World in 2013?  What did you learn?

This is the third time I have traveled with Woods Around the World and each time it offers a unique experience. What I learned most from this trip was about the history of places from which my ancestors originated and from where our country originated. It was also interesting to see a culture that is similar to ours in many ways but also very different in others.

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Postcard from Europe: KC Radcliff

KC is a senior from St. Charles, Missouri whose major is Management Information Systems

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What was one of your favorite moments from the trip?

I would say getting to go not only King’s Cross to get a picture at Platform 9 & 3/4 but also getting a picture with the Doctor Who Tardis Machine (blue police box). Its just really fun to go to another country and actually find the places where these famous icons are. London was just overall an amazing part of the journey.

Which site(s) did you enjoy seeing the most?  Why?

I really enjoyed seeing St. Andrews while in Scotland. It was not only breathtaking but a great opportunity to see history and how it shaped a part of a country. The ocean and town were really cute and just beautiful. The ruins of the castle and cathedral just reminded me of how young of a country I live in and how history needs to be preserved. I would have loved to see what the cathedral originally looked like before the destruction. Also my grandfather is a huge golfer so going to the very first golf course was an exciting experience.

What did you do with your free time in any of the cities we visited?

I would mostly go see the main attractions and shop in non traditional stores that were local to the area we are in. Also I ate a ton of the cuisine like fish n chips, haggis and other foods. I also liked to go up to really good looking guys and tell them I was lost so they would direct me to the right place. I also got a Facebook friend and some numbers doing that. Hahah

What was one cross-cultural experience you had on the trip where you knew you were definitely in a different country?  (strange foods, uncomfortable experience, language barrier, an observed difference)

When a group of us went out one night in London we met a ton of random Londoners from all over. What was really great about the experience is that the culture of the city is so diverse you never met two people that were alike. Many came from the middle part of England to as far as China and upper Africa. To be honest, we did get a lot of attention from the male population while were there. The funniest was when we went to this random chicken place before heading back to the hotel and the guy behind the counter wrote his number out on my box in ketchup. That was definitely something I’ve never had happen in the US.

What did you gain by traveling with Woods Around the World in 2013?  What did you learn?

I learned that you can have an amazing time with total strangers. Its crazy how 42 people can bond together within 10 days. I learned that there are so many similarities between people no matter where you come from and we all can learn from each other.

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Postcard from Europe: Kristen Cuneo

Kristen Cuneo comes to us all the way from East Kingston, New Hampshire.  Kristen is a junior at William Woods who majors in Equine Science.  Her story talks about the wonders of Windsor and the mysterious haggis of Scottish cuisine. 

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What was one of your favorite moments from the trip?

One of my favorite moments on the trip besides going to three different countries in 10 days was visiting Windsor Castle in all of it glory.  But what made the visit to Windsor Castle the icing on the cake was a surprise visit inside The Royal Mews, also known as the stables. There we were able to visit the queen’s horses and tour her stables. We were able to get up close to the queen’s own riding pony, a black Fell pony named Emma along with her charming Cleveland Bay and some of the other horses that she breeds for her own personal use as carriage horses for royal events and leisurely drives around the castle. We got to meet her two grooms who care for the horse and the carriages that are on the Windsor property. The grooms showed us the stables and the carriage room and the indoor area with some of the fluffiest footing that I have ever seen! They told us that the queen loves her horse and loves showing so she tries to have all her horses show at some point in their lives.

Which site(s) did you enjoy seeing the most? Why?

I really could not say that enjoyed one site over another. I think all the places we got to see were great and special in their own way.

What did you do with your free time in any of the cities we visited? During my free time, no matter where I was, my group and I wanted to walk and see as much as we could. We did that and also took lots of photos!

What did you gain by traveling with Woods Around the World in 2013? What did you learn? One cross cultural experience I had while traveling with Woods around the World would have been when I tried haggis for the first time while we were in Scotland. Prior to going on the trip I knew kind of what it was from other people telling me. (Sorry if anyone reading this has a queasy stomach but it’s ground up animal entrails served on a plate.) Yet when we got to Scotland our tour guide told us that haggis is not all types of meat put together but that it was a rodent-like animal that is a big nuisance to farmers. He may have been trying to pull one over on unsuspecting tourists. Either way, I did give the national dish of Scotland a try and I have to say, it wasn’t bad.

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Postcard from Europe: Andrea Garcia

Andrea Garcia is a sophomore business and equine science major from sunny Miami, Florida who loves to travel the map.  This was her second trip with Woods Around the World, after having traveled with Woods Around the World to Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

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What was one of your favorite moments from the trip?

One of my very favorite moments was when Denise and I went to The Elephant House in Edinburgh, Scotland for lunch and got to go back in time to when J.K. Rowling sat in the exact same place and wrote the books that shaped my childhood and even into my adult life. Growing up, the Harry Potter books were my passage way into a new world filled with magic and adventure and taught me so much about good, evil, love, hate and everything in between. This bunch of typed words changed my life and being in the place where it all started was incredible.

The moment that made this my absolute favorite memory was when I stepped into the small bathroom in the restaurant. Every inch of the walls was covered in writing from Harry Potter fans thanking J.K. Rowling for her incredible and unbelievable imagination and telling her how much of an impact her magic had on them. Some of my favorite ones were “Thanks for saving so many lives”, “Thanks for helping me believe in magic” and my personal favorite that brought tears to my eyes, “It was almost like having friends.” She impacted so many lives and it was incredibly touching to see literally every inch of the walls covered in writings like these.

Which site(s) did you enjoy seeing the most? Why?

My favorite site was in London where we got to see Tower Bridge, The London Eye and Big Ben at night. I remember watching the TV in summer of 2012 and seeing Tower Bridge with the Olympic Rings hanging from the top and being so excited knowing that I would be going there and when I finally did get to see it in person, it was really fun and exciting for me. We saw it first during the day but it was completely different at night and was really enchanting to see all of the lights illuminating them.

Of course, there were an array of gorgeous cathedrals, castles and palaces that were amazing to see and to admire their age, imagining what they were like in their prime and what types of ceremonies and people had walked through them before us so many years ago. The entire trip was like a journey back in time and I loved every site that we went to, I just chose the Tower Bridge and Big Ben because of how excited I got to finally be at the place I had dreamed about and seen so many times in books and on the television. It was a great feeling to finally be there and get the realization that we were indeed in London, England!

What did you do with your free time in any of the cities we visited?

For my free time in Edinburgh, I went with a few friends and walked the Royal Mile, stopping along the way to do a bit of shopping, dining and enjoying some of Scotland’s finest. It was a great time and just on that Royal Mile, I found such an abundance of rich Scottish culture. We often veered off of the path to go down a few closes (small alleyways open to the public), which led to various gardens, courtyards, shops and homes. This is where I tried haggis for the first time, which was surprisingly delicious! Also, this is where Denise and I sampled some of best in food and drink that Scotland has to offer. 

What was one cross-cultural experience you had on the trip where you knew you were definitely in a different country? (strange foods, uncomfortable experience, language barrier, an observed difference)

Where I definitely knew that I was in another country was in Dublin, Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day. The reason being, when six of us decided to catch a cab into the city, we met so many awesome people from all over the world and a few times, we didn’t speak the same language and had to communicate through “universal sign language” using odd hand movements and facial expressions to get our message across. I met a few Germans, Swiss and Swedish guys who didn’t speak much or any English but we still were still able to have a good time and dance even if we weren’t 100% certain of what the other was saying!

What did you gain by traveling with Woods Around the World in 2013? What did you learn?

IMG_1788 I gained a lot, from new friends to experiencing new cultures. It was great getting to know how people lived in these countries and even though I enjoy reading and learning about different cultures, nothing is better than experiencing it first-hand. This was my first time in all three of these countries so it was definitely new territory and I loved enjoying it with my friends.

Woods Around the World and EF tours together are a great team in creating trips that are both highly educational and also a great deal of fun. They spend half of the day teaching us as a group and walking us through the history and sites that must be toured while in these countries, but then also give us most of each afternoon and evening to explore on our own. I am a very curious traveler and really love to dive into each new culture whole-heartedly, so being able to go off on my own and find my own adventures was really nice and a definite seller for me. I was really impressed with how much I learned from the tour guides and how helpful they were in ensuring that we all had the best trip possible. I already can’t wait for the next WATW trip to Turkey and Greece next year!

Postcard from Europe: Sami Berry

Sami Berry is a junior from Kearney, Missouri and is majoring in exercise science. 

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What was one of your favorite moments from the trip?

There were so many favorite moments on this trip that I can’t just pick one. It was definitely a trip full of laughter, shopping, adventures, and meeting many new friends.

Which site(s) did you enjoy seeing the most? Why?

I loved all the sites that we visited but a couple of my favorites were; St. Andrews and Windsor Castle. St. Andrews was really cold and windy, but it was beautiful. The guide may not have been that great because no one could hear her, but it brought us all a little closer in our frustration. Windsor Castle was a very magical experience thanks to Julian for knowing Alan and getting us a behind the scenes tour. I had always wanted to go to Windsor and it lived up to my wildest dreams. The sugar on top was when the Queen arrived while we were there and they had to change the flag.

What was one cross-cultural experience you had on the trip where you knew you were definitely in a different country?

One cross-cultural experience I had on the trip was when we first arrived in Dublin and a small group of us decided to stop in a small sandwich shop to have lunch and get out of the rain. We had just sat down and squeezed six people at a table that was really supposed to fit five. This little old man turns around and asks, “where are you from?”, in a very thick accent. I told him Missouri and he said, “oh okay.” He proceeded to tell several random stories including one where a guy got frostbite and his nose fell off. Then, as he was getting up to leave he looked around the table and then looked at me again and said, “You (with a strong finger pointed at me) don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t go out and party tonight.” I guess it is one of those stories where you really had to be there but after he left, the entire table was puzzled. It definitely gave us a good laugh!

What did you gain by traveling with Woods Around the World in 2013? What did you learn?

I gained a lot of knowledge about the different cultures and places that we visited and made a lot of new friends. I learned that in the tube when they say ‘mind the gap’ you really need to mind the gap cause you might be driving someone crazy and they could push you in.

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Postcard from Europe: Venita Mitchell

You’ve no doubt heard of Michael Flatley’s Irish-flavored, award-winning show called Lord of the Dance?  William Woods University has its very own, well, not stage-show but station-show dance performance.  It’s called Dean of the Dance and features an, uh, well….aspiring group of dancers performing inspiring moves in a Scottish rail station to the tune of Harlem Shake. Our Dean of the Dance is Venita Mitchell and in this report, Dean Mitchell describes the joys of traveling with students and the wonderful world that beckons from the other side of the desk!

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What was one of your favorite moments from the trip?

I am not sure I had one favorite moment. Reflecting back on the week, what made it so special was sharing the experience with students. My favorite moments with students were over hot chocolate in a cupcake shop, “10 minute” after dinner walks in Edinburgh, behind the scenes at Windsor, lunch in a Dublin pub, sharing the balcony at Her Majesty’s Theatre watching Phantom of the Opera in London, sleeping in airports, dancing in train stations, departing at Platform 9 ¾, leaping on the tube (“mind the gap”), accounting for everyone (“seriously, where is 38?”) and listening to accounts of everyone’s previous day’s free time adventures.

Which site(s) did you enjoy seeing the most?  Why?

I think I enjoyed Edinburgh the most. One night we ate in a pub with the slogan “a peaceful place in a busy world.” I felt this way about the old town side of Edinburgh. It was a cozy place to wander from the castle to the pubs.

What did you do with your free time in any of the cities we visited?

During free time we usually packed in a mix of culture and fun. In Edinburgh we climbed Sir Walter Scott’s Monument, shopped, and for a wee bit of pocket change we were “guided” through a cemetery full of Edinburgh history (did anyone find that Potter head stone?). In London we walked along the river at night, explored Westminster Abbey, felt very European dressing up and taking “the tube” to the theatre, and took 3 trains just to cross Abbey Road! In Dublin, we wandered, shopped, and toured the Guinness Storehouse at a record setting pace.

What was one cross-cultural experience you had on the trip where you knew you were definitely in a different country?

Every time I crossed the street I was definitely reminded that I was in another culture. Making a purchase with pounds and euros was a constant reminder of being a foreigner in another land. I appreciated that many times I could just hold up a handful of coins and merchants would just take what I owed. Finally, even though everyone spoke English, terms like “jim-jams”, “mind the gap”, enjoying the “craic”, and “saucy colonials”, expanded my vocabulary. I even met a “bloak.”

What did you gain by traveling with Woods Around the World in 2013?  What did you learn?

I met a lot of WWU students I did not know and got to know some that I did know a lot better. Traveling with students is a privilege and a unique opportunity to learn. WATW pulls me out from behind a desk and allows me to experience education with students. Our students and their families worked hard to pay for this trip and these students saturated themselves in the offerings of each city (with good humor, curious minds, and daring spirits). This year I took my daughter, a high school senior, on the trip. She may not realize it yet, but our students gave her a glimpse of what is to come in college if you immerse yourself in the adventure.

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Postcard from Europe: Julian Hertzog

Julian Hertzog is a much loved professor of psychology at William Woods whose good humor, high energy and positive spirit add so much to our campus community.  Professor Hertzog enriched our trip with his prior knowledge of English culture and also worked behind the scenes to make our visit to Windsor Castle so memorable. 

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What was one of your favorite moments from the trip?

Eating in an Italian restaurant in Edinburgh and learning that my daughter got her first real job. Plus sharing that moment with good friends and two digestive cookies.

Which site(s) did you enjoy seeing the most?  Why?

London is my favorite since it is the home of my mother and her family. I met up with my wife there and my relatives also came in to see me. Plus, I just felt comfortable there. Second to me was St. Andrews, Scotland since that was the first time I had ever been there.

What did you do with your free time in any of the cities we visited?

Just tried to stay up with the group.

What was one cross-cultural experience you had on the trip where you knew you were definitely in a different country?  

When we arrived in Glasgow and David said, “We have a wee bit of a walk to the coach and it is brisk out there. “ Ah, Churchill was right. We are separated by a common language.

What did you gain by traveling with Woods Around the World in 2013?  What did you learn?

One that Travis sure knows how to lead a group. That you appreciate your home more when you go away to a different country. People are basically the same no matter where you go. And if you get the right people, it doesn’t matter if you have bad weather, lack of sleep, unexpected changes, and different foods. You still can have a hell of a good time.

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