By: Donni Gowdy
London. The land of kings and queens, castles and cottages, fish and chips, and the home of the Kelley Business students from March 13-21. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and I know that I can speak for everyone. We saw so many things and experienced new and exciting things that will be ingrained in our minds forever. I know I was a bit apprehensive embarking on this journey, but I am so glad I did. The whole atmosphere of London was just breathtaking, maybe because it was a lot different from home, Indiana. I am going to share just a few of the experiences that moved me. If I was to share all of them, this would be a thesis paper (30+ pages) and not a reflection.
First of all, the 8-hour flight wasn’t bad, surprisingly. Many people told me about the terrors of crossing “the pond” and gave tips and tricks on what I could do to pass the time. I slept. I watched 20 minutes of a movie, ate, and slept. When I woke up we were approaching Heathrow. I gathered all of my things, eager to get OFF the plane. We went through all the procedures and I got my first international stamp. This was like getting a Christmas present! We collected our luggage and met with Derrick, our tour guide for the trip. He was so full of life when we first met him. We all sluggishly got on the tour coach and drove about an hour to the hotel. There, we changed clothes and were back on the couch to start our sightseeing tour.
Our first tour was awesome. We went to random places with lots of history. We also experienced The Tube. This has to be the best form of public transportation in the world, in my opinion. I’ve been on public transportation all over the U.S. and they are so difficult to understand. I was all over London and with the comfort of knowing that I could get back to the hotel with ease. We walked across the Westminster Bridge. This bridge gave us the best pictures of the London Eye. The London Eye is a huge Ferris wheel with 32 pods representing the 32 boroughs of London. There’s a little history for you! We also visited Trafalgar Square. This area was teeming with people and pigeons. There were street artists, music, museums, and performers. We got to explore this area for a bit. I bought three handcrafted rings. He made them right there as we watched. I’m so artsy.
We concluded that night with a dinner at a cute little pub. We had fish and chips and they were delicious. I also tried some wine from the area. We then went back to the hotel to recuperate from traveling all day and getting ready for touring all day the next day. Sleep. The next day we were up and at ‘em for touring. We started the tour looking at different buildings and learning why they were constructed in a certain way. We saw a bullet shaped building and gherkin (sweet pickle) shaped building.
There was a lot of cool architecture. This brought be back to a time when I actually wanted to be an architect, and then I realized I was terrible at drawing. We then saw the Tower of London, Big Ben, and several cathedrals. We went by Buckingham Palace and witnessed the changing of the guards. This was an elaborate ceremony where the current guard protecting the palace is replaced by the new guard. It was very crowded. We then continued our tour to Windsor Castle and the Queen was in. This is where the Queen lives. There was so much to see, like the gardens and the walking tours of the inside of portions of the castle. There were so many different rooms, painting, china, treasures and the most accurate dollhouse I’ve ever seen. Seeing Windsor was an amazing experience. All the history in this castle has really touched a place within me.
The next day was our free day. We got to cruise around London and go where we wished. I started my day at the Welcome Institute. Here they offer very modern exhibits on a wide variety of topics. I was very interested the Institute for Sexology exhibit. In this exhibit, I explored what sexuality was and how it has changed over the years. It was very insightful. There was also an exhibit on forensics and cultural items collected. All in all, this was a good start to my day.
I also had a brief visit at the British Museum. The Rosetta Stone is located here and it was a sight to see. I also enjoyed viewing the Lindow Man and the Egyptian portion of the museum. The next thing was a street art tour. This was located on Brick Lane. Brick Lane is an area for the cool kids; right where I needed to be! This is also an area that has the highest concentration of Indian population. The street art in this area is phenomenal. I learned so much about street art that it made me want to go home and spray paint my walls. The guide was so funny and lively that I wanted to take all his tours.
The next day we had our second business visit and this was to Pavegen. Pavegen is a start-up company that is trying to innovate a new way to create electricity. They are doing this by simply, walking. They have created this technology were people would walk on a turf surface and from the weight of the person, trigger the technology to create the electricity. That evening, a friend and I went to the Albert and Victoria Museum to see the Alexander McQueen exhibit. This was easily the highlight of my whole trip. I love fashion and I want to get into the business side of fashion. I could write a few pages on the experience, but I’ll spare you. He is a garment genius, to say the least.
Lloyd’s of London was our last business visit. The building was beautiful. The architect decided to build the building inside out. Cool, right!? This tour took about an hour, but was jammed pack with information. We learned about the history and I overheard some brokers trying to convince the workers to insure their items. It was the live action that got to me. I really enjoyed this visit the most. After this visit, I went shopping again until we had to meet up for dinner. I went back to Brick Lane and Piccadilly Circus. I tried some new foods and took a boatload of pictures. I had the best Chai Tea Latte in my life at a little place called Costa. Life changing. We had our farewell dinner at a place called The Fable. It was very good. They serve very small portions, so I was hungry about an hour later.
The next morning we packed our things and headed back to the airport to depart for home. I was not ready to leave when it was time to go. I could have stayed for a few more days to go the other parts that weren’t on the list. I would love to move to this city. It is so fast-paced and diverse. My daughter would love it there. She loves big cities and new people. We would have a grand life here.
This experience has forever been ingrained on my mind. I will always remember the time I took a week to experience the world. This has opened the door for me to want to travel anywhere and everywhere. As a business student, this was very eye-opening. I got to experience how businesses from different parts of the world operate and how culturally different and similar they are from us. I value this trip so much that tell everyone I know about London and my Spring Break there. It could have been a little warmer, but I wouldn’t trade a Kelley business trip overseas for a beach, anytime.