United Kingdom

Highlights from Backpacking through the UK

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The last month has been both one of the most chaotic and most incredible travel experiences of my life. Chaos simply happened do to quickly moving around, hopping on trains and missing buses (multiple times). There were bumps in the road that could have never been predicted, which made me a more patient person by the end of the month — but in the moment I was beyond stressed; however, being in the IB and constantly dealing with a caffeine high doesn’t help stress levels either… Regardless, the incredible parts had their impact too. Upon flipping through my journal and finally uploading my photos to the hard drive I decided there is no easier way to record this experience than to break it into the order of events which we followed. Hence, although this post will not be the most aesthetically pleasing, it is the most comprehensive way to share at least some of my experience with you.

September 6 – September 13: London

Corruption and Integrity Building with Fredrik Galtung

  • Corruption is the abuse of entrusted power for private gain.
  • Corruption is difficult to curb.
  • Corruption has a long history, can evolve, and cannot be eliminated.

Our session with Galtung was an extensive submersion into the difficulties of corruption. A common conclusion at the end of various arguments is that corruption is simply a matter of human nature — but is it really? Galtung argued this conclusion was relatively weak, which I would have to agree with. From the anthropological point of view, in smaller scale societies corruption is less prevalent. Is this because the people getting the short end of the stick are neighbors and friends? Or is it because there is less of a need for a private gain in these communities? As we often say in History, numbers in the thousands seem to affect us less. It is odd, but when we hear about one person being murdered we shudder and feel the pressure of this devastation. When we hear the thousands killed in battle, while still devastating, is more distant from our own reality. And this, perhaps, is the reasoning as to why corruption is more prevalent in state-societies…

The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time

This play was pretty incredible. Lights, sounds, movements of the stage, the actors — all worked so cohesively to produce a play unlike any other. I won’t say too much about the plot (you can read about it here if you would like) but I felt as though I had to mention it in at least the slightest bit just because it was so good.

September 13 – September 18: Edinburgh

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Hipster coffee shops are the best locations for Student Council meetings.

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Me exploring about Edinburgh

 

Edinburgh Dungeon Tour

 

The slightly creepy tour through the “dungeons” of Edinburgh sends you back to the olden days. Stories of cannibals, murders, and torture weapons from the region’s history are re-enacted for the audience and at times interactive enough to make a bit of adrenaline rush through your veins. I enjoyed the tour through the creepy historical part of Edinburgh, but it makes me glad I didn’t live there at the time.

 

September 18 – September 21: Grange over Sands

Biology & Ecology

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The days here were filled with ecology, which was a major flashback to my time in Costa Rica. Using transect lines, pH testers, thermometers, and various other scientific tools we calculated plant growth across sand dunes in the area. It was a bit more intensive than our study in Monteverde though, considering we measured 250 metres instead of 10.

After spending the day collecting data under the sun we returned to the field station to graph our data. Jake and I had a bit of trouble with our protractors for some reason (probably because it was near the end of the day when we were graphing) but eventually managed to draw something that remotely resembled our project.

In addition to the actual researching and data collection, we spent our evenings in a bit more of a relaxed way. There was a wide common room with foosball and a ping pong table, and for TGS that is more than enough of a welcomed distraction. These evenings reminded me slightly of our time in Estancia in my grade 9 year because after the daily activities we were able to hang back together, play music loud, chat with one another, and practice our ping pong skills.

September 21 – September 24: Liverpool

The Beatles are Back

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Our excursion to Liverpool was short-lived but nonetheless full of activities. In fact, we were placed into small groups and asked to write a song inspired by the Beatles, and I’ll admit that in the beginning I was quite skeptical. I do not, by any means, consider myself a musical person: the extent of my musical abilities is limited to hot-cross-buns on the recorder, 3rd grade knowledge of the violin, and a couple Spotify playlists that I update about twice a year. So by the end of the project I was not only surprised I had managed to help make a song, but also pleased that it didn’t sound too awful. It was actually fairly good for being a song mimicking Back in the USSR while telling the love story of two people that meet on a farm in Georgia (my group took the task a bit lightheartedly, but it was distinctively our own).

September 24 – September 26: Oxford

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Selfie evidence that we were actually in Oxford.

Education is Oozing from this Place
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I have to say, Oxford is an incredible city; or should I say uni? The two are so intertwined that one moment you appear to be in city-centre but then three steps later you are in front of a study hall built hundreds of years ago. Honestly, such a beautiful place with a slightly countryside vibe. Above is a picture from one of the many campuses. We spent an hour just wandering through the back paths of Magdalen, watching the deer in the field and wondering whether or not it is too late to apply here.

 

September 26 – September 29: London

The Commitments

As I said with the Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time, I really enjoyed this musically but will let you read about it here if you do desire.

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