Jacob Daberkow, a senior business administration major at the UNL College of Business Administration, set out this summer on a once in a lifetime adventure with the CBA Oxford Study Abroad Program. Daberkow is currently in England at the prestigious Oxford University and creating memorable moments at UNL's top study abroad excursion.
To document the trip, Daberkow has created a blog
which will contain regular updates from his trip overseas.
The beginning of the end
Once we had all settled back into our abodes at Jesus College after our final weekend in the UK the reality hit us, this was our final week at Oxford. It was such a surreal and sad thought that our trip was coming to an end, soon we would be back in America eating steaks and drinking beverages with ice! Oh the small things….. There wasn’t too much time to sit and dwell on the thought that this was our last week, as we still had much to do before we would be packing our bags and leaving this amazing place. This included lots of fun activities, but also some serious studying for our two finals at the end of the week. With all of the different emotions that were going on within each of us, we knew it would be an interesting week.
Fox and Hound
After taking Monday to rest after our fun filled weekends we prepared ourselves for what many of the Nebraska at Oxford 2011 group had told us was their favorite event, the Fox and Hound night. Although we did know that it was going to be fun, we really had almost no idea what the Fox and Hound night actually would entail. I knew it had something to do with the girls dressing up as foxes and the guys dressing up as fox hunters or hounds, but outside of that I knew nothing. As the girls got their faces painted and put on their fox ears, the guys threw together fox hunter outfits and got to have hound faces painted on. The point of our evening would be for the guys (hunters/hounds) to catch the girls (foxes) in a race through checkpoints and arrive at the final destination. Now if you are picturing 2 groups of guys and 2 groups of girls sprinting through the streets of Oxford from checkpoint to checkpoint in attempt to reach the final destination first, you are envisioning the correct scene. What you’re not taking into account is what took place at each checkpoint. Each team was assigned one of the coordinators and they were given a list of ten checkpoints with a different activity to be completed at each. This is what made the night interesting. Some locations had rather easy activities that every member of your group had to compete, while others had more “challenging” activities. The rule was that you could not leave the checkpoint in route for the next until each member of your team had finished their activity. Once everyone had finished it was a dead sprint to the next spot as each team wanted to beat all of the others. At one point as we ran down Corn Market street, the main street filled with shops by Jesus College, groups of people gathered along the sides and cheered as we ran down road. We soaked it up and yelled back, as we felt like professional athletes or the next contestant on the price is right! As my team had just 3 checkpoints remaining we headed into a narrow alley looking for a shortcut to our next location. As we neared the end of the alley the 2nd group of hunters entered the alley heading right towards us. If you have ever seen a medieval war scene in a movie where two groups run right into one another, you can about imagine the clash of the two groups of hunters. My group, clearly the victor of the alley way scuffle, continued to sprint to our next locations and arrived at the final location. We were there nearly 10 minutes before any of the other groups and nearly all of the credit had to be given to our fearless leader one of the coordinators, Bridget aka “Major.” She sprinted right along with us and led our team of hunters and hounds to victory. Regardless of who won the race (my team did if you’ve forgotten) all of us who participated had a great time and I think many of us would say that this was one of our favorite events. Thanks for the heads up NU at Oxford 2011 group!
Team USA Basketball
USA basketball celebration!
On my flight over to Great Britain I was having a conversation with Charlie about what we wanted to be sure to do before our trip was over, you could say that we were creating our European bucket lists. I remember saying to Charlie, “as long as I get to see a Team USA basketball game I can leave Britain a happy man.” Sadly due to the difficulty of Americans acquiring Olympic tickets, it seemed that my dream would not become a reality. This all changed the day before our final for Dr. Holmes. We were sitting at lunch talking and Nate aka Captain America said something that I couldn’t believe. He said that he hadn’t done the Fox and Hound event the previous night and stayed in to study, but during his studies he found that a group of California students that were also studying at Oxford had found a person who helped American’s get Olympic tickets. He informed us that he and 5 others had purchased Team USA basketball tickets for that evening, but there weren’t any left. My heart sank. I literally almost broke down into tears knowing that he would be seeing all of the best basketball players in the world play on one team. This sad feeling quickly took a 180 as he gave us the ladies number and said, “you guys can try to call her and see if she has more, but she told me she is all the way out.” We took the chance and Kory called the woman and asked if she had any remaining. “I have 10 more tickets” she responded, and Kory quickly told her, “We’ll take all 10!” This was great considering I was standing next to him and basically was a shoe in for one of the 10 tickets, but for those who had left early from lunch and weren’t near us at the time the good news was received there were some envious feelings in the near future. It worked out that there was 9 of us around Kory when he said there were 10 tickets, so we went to our rooms and grabbed the first guy in the hallway and gave him the opportunity to claim the final ticket. Of course he said yes almost instantly. Considering our final was the next morning and we had to leave Oxford in 3 hours, we split up for around 2 hours to study so we could have group discussions on the bus to the game. We then showered up and clothed ourselves in as much America gear as we could find in our rooms and boarded a London bound coach. Our group sat close to one another on the bus and discussed Dr. Holmes material for the next morning’s exam. It was a very effective bus ride to say the least. We arrived in London a few hours before game time and headed to a 5 star hotel near Big Ben to meet with our ticket salesman. We pooled out money and three people went up to the woman’s makeshift office in her room to purchase the 10 tickets. Once we had the tickets in hand we realized that these weren’t any ordinary tickets as they clearly had the word suite on them. We all cheered with excitement and headed for Greenwich Arena to watch the game. As we went through security outside of the arena people quickly realized that we were obviously American fans and said things like, “good luck, even though we all know you don’t need it.” Everyone knew that America had the top team and would most likely crush their opponent, Australia. A security guard was talking to Charlie and Kory and told them that he had heard President Obama was going to be attending the game tonight. We all looked at each other in disbelief and again jumped around and cheered with excitement. We never actually saw President Obama or his wife Michele, but I will forever continue to say that he was there. Once we finally arrived at the doors for our suite, we opened them and everyone was speechless. The room had 4 leather couches, a sink, a fridge, a stove, granite counter tops, carpeted floors, a bar with stools facing the floor, and a balcony with our actual seats to watch the game from. It was the best place I have ever watched any live sporting event, by far. Before the Team USA vs. Australia began, we first got to watch Argentina vs. Brazil. This was great because one of my favorite it players from my favorite team played for Argentina, Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs.
Once that game ended we waited patiently for Team USA to come out so we could cheer them on. They dimmed the lights and turned on all of the cool light effects and spot lights to announce the players. It was one of nearly 1,000 times that night where I got goose bumps. Once they held tip off we sat back in awe and watched our amazing athletes do what they do best. There were so many amazing dunks and plays, I can’t even begin to explain how awesome it was to see them play live. After the first half had ended I made my way to the front row of our balcony so I could be in the best spot for the end of the game. There were around 5 of us in the front row and each of us had an American flag to wave around while we cheered. We got to know two men in our suite that had Team USA jackets on and we discovered that they were the team Dr.’s for the USA wrestling and Judo teams. During half time of them looked at us and said, “Come on guys did you come all the way from Nebraska just to watch? Let’s get rowdy this half!” Needless to say the Husker fan in each of us came out and we cheered just as loud as we do in Memorial on Saturday’s for Team USA throughout the second half. Australia had a player, Alex Maric, who attended UNL, so when he was at the free throw line we did a GO BIG RED chant and surprisingly it was followed up by another GO BIG RED chant from a suite across the gym. More goose bumps…… Who knew there would be fellow husker fans all the way in London! We continued to cheer as loud as possible and it only got louder when the announcer requested they get us on the big screen and they did, several times. We waved our flags like crazy and started nearly every chant we could think of to cheer them on. We started at least 5 or 6 USA chants and got the majority of the stadium to join in the chant right along with us! This was an awesome feeling knowing that we were creating a spark throughout the crowd and as you could see in the team’s second half play, we were igniting a spark within them as well. At one point we started at Kobe, Kobe, Kobe, chant and Kobe Bryant came down and made three three-pointers in a row! I am going to go ahead and say we got him fired up and set the Black Mamba loose on the Aussies. In addition to the Kobe chant, we also did a King James, Coach K, and Fear the Beard chant for James Harden. When the game had finally ended we began to receive tweets and facebook messages from friends in the US saying that we had all been on TV numerous times throughout the game! They were sending us pictures of us on TV and video clips of us waving our flags. Needless to say, we felt like celebrities. We had just watched one of the greatest basketball teams ever assembled, had an amazing time at the game, and we would later found out that we were on Sports Center when they showed game highlights. We even got pointed at by nearly every player on the team at some point in the game in appreciation for our passion in cheering them on. It was definitely a successful evening and after a short failed attempt at trying to get autographs from the players, we headed for the coach station with biggest smiles on our faces. We didn’t make it back to Oxford until late and we all went our separate ways to study until later meeting up for more group discussions. Overall the trip to the basketball game was incredible and I don’t think any of us who attended will ever forget that night. USA! USA! USA!
When we arrived back at Oxford after our trip to the basketball game in London it was rather late and I was surprised to see that a large group of our classmates were still in the library studying. Most of us grabbed our study materials and joined them in the library to continue preparing for Dr. Holmes final in the morning. While we were in London Jeff, Rob, and Colin led a group study session for everyone and according to the people that attended their “lecture” it was extremely helpful. The group that had gone to London agreed that it would work best to split up and study on our own for a few hours and then meet up again for a group discussion to share what we had learned. This was a very effective technique that I will most likely try to continue in my last semester at UNL. We reassembled our group around 7:00 A.M. and shared all of our knowledge with one another. We did this for around an hour, went to breakfast for some coffee, and headed to the classroom with our brains filled with knowledge of British economics. I feel that our study sessions were successful as I have heard nearly everyone say that they got at least a B on the final. I haven’t heard any stories of C’s or low grades and I would attribute that to Dr. Holmes and Horsewood’s awesome lectures plus our group study sessions. The information was actually really interesting to learn about and if you ever are looking to kill some time, just grab one of the students from our Oxford group and ask them to talk to you about the Euro Zone or Margaret Thatcher. I would say any of us could go on and on about those two topics specifically. Also if you ever are interested in watching an educational movie, watch The Iron Lady. It is a movie about Thatcher that shows how great of a woman she was and how much she did for the UK and it’s economy.
After our two finals were over and we were able to rest a little after two nights in a row of intense studying, we only had our final dinner and a night to our favorite gathering spot remaining. Dr. Holmes asked that we all be punctual and dressed somewhat nice for our final dinner as we would be receiving our Oxford completion certificates and thanking the Jesus College staff for serving us over the last month. We all arrived on time, looking good, and ready to enjoy our final dinner at Jesus College. It was once again an amazing meal and the Jesus College staff was friendly as usually while serving us. Once we had finished eating our four coorinators, Emily, Charlotte, Bridget, and Benita stood up by the head table and read us a poem they had written about our group and our experiences together. There were little jokes and sentimental moments sprinkled throughout the poem and it was actually pretty touching. They did an excellent job of writing it and I actually have a printed out version of it at my house in Lincoln. Next Dr. Holmes stood up and called our names one by one to have us come up, shake his hand, and receive our certificate of completion of the Oxford program. It was an honor to shake hands and receive our certificate from such a prestigious man as Dr. Holmes. It felt like a mini graduation ceremony and for some seniors on the trip it actually was there commencement, as they would be returning to America UNL graduates. What an incredible way to finish your undergraduate career! I would like to congratulate those who graduated while we were there, high five guys!
Goodbye to Dr. Holmes
I have enjoyed writing every bit of this blog immensely, however this is the one part that is not quite as enjoyable, the goodbyes. We had grown so close as a group and with our coordinators that it was sad to have to say goodbye to everyone. Although we would be seeing each other back in Lincoln, this was the last time we would all be in Oxford together. The fact that we knew we would all return and be huskers together this fall made saying goodbye to one another a little bit more bearable, but saying farewell to our four amazing coordinators was not so easy. They all had tears in their eyes as they gave hugs and said goodbye to new friends and I noticed that quite a few people from our group crying as well, even some of the guys! It was not surprising that everyone was so sad to leave our coordinators because they had become like our mothers while we were there. They had taken such great care of us and made the trip so much fun. They were in charge of arranging all of our events and they did an outstanding job, everything we did was enjoyable. I would especially like to thank Emily our head coordinator for taking care of us, putting up with us, and setting up so many incredible events. Emily, you’re great at what you do! I also told all of them that if they ever made their way to Nebraska, we would show them a great time and provide them with over the top hospitality. I know Emily is coming to visit and will get to see a Husker game and I hope that the other 3 girls are able to visit as well. I know we would all love to see them on this side of the world!
Cliffs of Moher Tour
Jake Daberkow and Charlie Lainson
Saturday morning came and nearly everyone went back to America, but for me and Charlie our travels were not finished. We boarded a coach to London where we would drop of our big bags and spend an enjoyable afternoon with our good friend Cora. We then had an evening flight from London Gatwick Airport that took us right to our next stop, Dublin, Ireland. We landed and took another coach to the city center near where our Hostel for the night was. We stayed in a rather nice hostel the first night, I think it was only around 18 euro for the night and had free breakfast and computers for internet use. We didn’t have much time to enjoy it as we had booked a 2 day bus tour across Ireland which left Dublin in the morning at 7:30. We knew of some of the sights that we would see on the tour, but we did not realize how great of a tour we were in for. We boarded the bus and pretty much immediately fell asleep until our first stop in Limmerick. When we fell asleep there were close to 20 other people on the bus with us, but when we were awoken by a woman named Rita we realized that we were the only two still on the bus. She confirmed that we were Jake and Charlie before starting up the bus and heading towards Bunratty Castle. We realized on the way to Bunratty that we were the only two on this tour and had a whole bus with the nicest leather seats I have ever sat in all to ourselves. This was going to be a good tour. We moved up to the rows behind our tour guide Rita and she began to tell us about what we were going to see over the next two days. It was like a free history lesson between each sight so we always knew a lot about what we were seeing. Our first stop was Bunratty Castle which was one of the oldest buildings that we saw and Rita told us it was first occupied in the year 970 by Vikings and used as a trading camp. It was really cool to get to walk through such an old structure with all of the furnishings from the 15th century. We grabbed a quick fish and chips and got back on the bus with Rita. She then drove us down some VERY narrow roads in our big bus towards The Burren. The Burren is a set of land covered in rocks because it was once under water. We also got to stop at an ancient burial ground with a famous rock structure that we found out was much older than Bunratty Castle. On our way out of The Burren we got to stop on a big hill overlooking much of the Burren and out over the ocean. It was an incredible view with the ocean sitting behind the already beautiful Burren. We got back into the bus and headed down the narrow road towards our most anticipated stop, The Cliffs of Moher.
Charlie Lainson and Jake Daberkow
On our way we ended up stuck on the road with another bus coming towards us because the road was not wide enough to fit both busses. Rita couldn’t just drive on the shoulder to get by because the shoulder was literally a cliff. She pulled off some pretty impressive reverse skills and got the bus to a point wide enough to fit the other busses by. It was definitely a tense 20 minutes as we weren’t sure if we were going to make it to the cliffs. We got through our small traffic jam and headed on to the Cliffs of Moher. The cliffs were one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. They are right on the coast and surrounded by ocean. They were close to 1,500 feet tall and there was a strong updraft from the ocean below so you had to be careful when peaking over the edge. They told us that at least 5 people die every year from falling off of the cliffs, this made Charlie very nervous and he was always pretty terrified when either of us was close to the edge. Seeing the cliffs and being able to see the ocean beyond that was one of the best things I have ever done and if you are ever in Ireland, you need to see it! We ended up running into one of Charlie’s mother’s closest friends and her two daughters while we were at the cliffs too. I was shocked to hear someone yelling Charlie’s name while we were in Ireland. We took some photos with them, and arranged a place to reunite when them the next day in Dublin. We then got back in with Rita and she took us to the town of Ennis where we would be staying in the #1 rated hostel in all of Ireland. Sadly this would be the last time we would see Rita, but if I could see her again I would give her a huge hug and thank her so much for the tour. It was the best money I’d ever spent. The next morning after we spent the evening exploring all that Ennis had to offer we boarded a new coach and headed back to Dublin where we would meet up with our friends from the cliffs and spend 3 days in Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Hostel in the legendary Temple Bar area.
Partying in Dublin
Initially when we arrived at Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Hostel we were a little bit nervous. We were staying in a ten person room which was fine, but there was only one key for the room. That never made much sense to me because if someone would come home late they would just bang on the door until someone woke up and let them in. I felt very annoying the nights that we were the ones knocking on the door late. During our 3 day stay at Oliver St. John Gogartys, we made friends with two girls from Tazmania. Their names were Kate and Catherine or Cath as she liked to be called. They at first made fun of our American accents, but I could tell that soon after they were wanting to hang out with us and see the city together. We went with them to the Jameson distillery first and all four of us were lucky enough to be chosen as taste testers. We each got a certificate proclaiming that we were official Jameson tasters and the rest of the people on the tour with us were really jealous! Next we went to the Guinness brewery and got to learn all about how Guinness is made. The brewery is very cool as it is shaped on the inside like a giant pint that could actually hold 14.3 million pints of Guinness if it were filled. Both the Jameson Distillery and the Guinness Brewery felt like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. There was so much going on inside and it was crazy to see how both beverages were made. Charlie and I both got to become certified Guinness pourers and learned the correct way to pour one. After our new Tazi friends had left Dublin, Charles and I had just one night remaining. That night just so happened to be my 23rd birthday at midnight so we agreed to go listen to some live Irish music one last time. We did not know that this would be one of my more memorable birthdays as we would be running into an Olympic gold medalist. We decided to listen to one last live song and it just so happened to be one of my favorites, Mr. Fahrenheit by Queen. After singing along and enjoying some Queen, we headed back towards Oliver St. John Gogartys. On the way we heard people saying they say someone with Olympic gold. It was my birthday at this point and I had to get a picture holding gold on my birthday so we found her. She had won her gold playing on the Team USA womens water polo team. Charlie told her it was my birthday and I asked to hold the gold for a photo. She was slightly nervous to let me hold it, but I assured her I would not be stealing it and we took the photo. Holding the gold in Ireland is probably one of the most memorable things I have done on any birthday in my whole life, so happy birthday to me. The next day we toured a little bit more of the city and headed back to London where we would stay one final night at Cora’s flat and head back to America in the morning.
After finally boarding a plane in route to American Charlie and I looked at each other and said, “we’re going home.” It was a bitter sweet moment, mostly bitter. This was the greatest trip of our lives and it was going to be hard to go back to reality at home. We made so many amazing memories at Oxford that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I have goosebumps now as I type this just thinking about how incredible the trip really was. Words cannot describe the trip. Although leaving and coming home was a bitter moment, I got to experience some sweetness as I came through customs at George Bush International Airport in Houston. The woman working in the customs desk asked me a few questions about where I had been, looked at my passport, and looked at me with a smile and said, “Welcome home.” It felt SO good to hear someone say that. We were finally back in America and I could not wait to get a buffalo chicken sandwich with lots of hot sauce. I really wanted some steak, but I figured I should wait until I could have some Nebraska beef. Since I have been home the first thing everyone asks me is, “What was your favorite part about being over there.” I thought about this in preparation for the question while on the flight home after watching The Hunger Games (great movie by the way). I thought about it for about 30 seconds and I realized the answer was obvious. The best thing about our trip was easily the relationships I formed while we were there. It may sound cheesy, but every single one of us who went would most likely answer that question the same. I made so many friends that I will continue to carry on friendships with back in Lincoln. Since I have been back on campus it has been awesome to see someone from the trip everywhere I go. I have someone from our group in every class and I eat lunch with some nearly every day. It feels like we were one big family over there and seeing them on campus is much more than just seeing a friend. You know that you have shared some very special memories with those people and I know that I will never forget those memories. I look forward to continuing my newly formed friendships in Nebraska and hope that all my Oxford mates enjoyed my company over there as much as I did theirs! If you or someone you know is considering the Nebraska at Oxford program, it would be the best decision you’ve ever made to go. It is well worth every dime spent. Next year would be a great year to attend as it will be the 25th anniversary of the Nebraska at Oxford program. I am sure they will plan some extra special events for next years participants considering 25 years is a large accomplishment! If anyone ever is interested in getting more information on the program or even interested in just talking about the trip, I would love to sit down with you and talk as I could go on for hours. This blog could have been hundreds of pages long if I had really shared every memory that was made over there! I think everyone should get out of the country and see what else is in the world. Experience other cultures and get comfortable traveling, those two things will come in very handy in your professional lives. Again I thank everyone who made this program possible and look forward to spreading the stories to potential participants for next year!
One final CHEERS!
Brother Jessee alongside Jake back home in Nebraska
After returning to Jesus College from our various extended weekend adventures, it seemed that our crew was pretty worn out. Some returned to Oxford late at night with one group coming in at 3 AM from Berlin. This meant that the majority of our group spent most of Monday after class catching up on sleep and rejuvenating themselves to prepare for the weeks activities For those that did not need as much rejuvenation, the coordinators hosted a ping pong doubles tournament in the Junior Common Room here at Jesus College. Although I did not personally participate in the tournament, mostly because I am no good at ping pong, I did watch some of it and a lot of people on our trip have tremendous ping pong skills. After many intense matches the Champions were crowned, Charlie Lainson and Isaac Pieper. They were both awarded a crown for their efforts which they wore with pride.
Christ Church/Stratford upon Avon
On Wednesday a group of us took a short walk over to Christ Church, which apparently was the inspiration for The Great Hall in the Harry Potter series. Having never read any of the Harry Potter books or seen any of the movies I wasn't able to make as many comparisons between the hall in Christ Church and The Great Hall in Harry Potter, but some of the people I was with who were avid fans really enjoyed it. Regardless of being the inspiration for the Great Hall, Christ Church was beautiful. It had incredible architecture on the outside and vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, statues, and more classic artwork than I can name off. We were able to get some pretty awesome photos of the courtyards, the dining hall, the outside of the church, and even just of the area surrounding the church. It was much larger than I had expected and it was definitely one of the more beautiful places I have seen in Oxford so far.
Stratford upon Avon
On Wednesday most of us boarded another bus and took about an hour an a half ride to Stratford upon Avon, the city in which Shakespeare was born. Similar to how Liverpool seemed to be dedicated to the Beatles, Stratford seemed to be very centered around all things Shakespeare. We actually went there for a Shakespeare play, The 12th Night, but we had a few hours before the play started to explore the town. The group that I went with went to the building in which Shakespeare was buried and also the house in which he was born. Both locations were very interesting, and I especially enjoyed the house that he was born in because it looked so old. I believe he was born in 1564, so to see a house that people were living in during the 1500's was a pretty neat experience. The 12th Night was held in a large brick building which was used to hold Shakespeare plays. The theater was really cool and it contained a stage unlike one I had seen before. The stage had everything from stairs and and elevator, to an actual pool of water from which people would suddenly ascend during the show. I know the Theater students here had to write a paper over the play and the rest of us really enjoyed it, so I think everyone paid attention pretty well. It was another fun experience and we got to experience a Shakespeare play in basically his city! Awesome.
On Friday evening our coordinators planned a special event for us in which we all got to dress up in costumes. It was a beached themed gathering in the downstairs common rooms that had everything from games to squirt guns, and of course our costumes. It was a lot of fun to see the different costumes that everyone managed to pick up in the shops here at Oxford, but I must say the four sailor outfits that Kory, Isaac, Jeff, and Matt wore were my favorite. All of the girls also seemed to find very good "beachy" costumes from the local shops. Some of the games included a four foot tall jenga set and a game of twister. It was a lot of fun getting all dressed up and I am looking forward to our next opportunity to do so this week when we have our Fox and Hound event.
Oxford Students at Bath
Although it was just a regular two day weekend most of us still planned trips to nearby locations including Scotland, Normandy Beach, and Bath. The group that I went with chose to take a day trip to Bath, the home of the Roman Baths. Looking back I am SO glad I decided to go on this trip. The area where bath is located was worth seeing, but the actual Roman Baths were incredible. The Baths are filled with natural hot spring water and from what I understood were basically used for the Roman's leisure as basically giant heated pools or hot tubs. It also had some pretty impressive architecture and statues around it, but the history of the origination of the baths was very interesting. They had so many different rooms with old Roman artifacts and layouts of what the location had originally looked like. Beside everything you saw was a number in which you would dial the number and press play on a hand held phone they gave you upon entry and it would play a narrative explaining exactly looking at. This made the trip so much better because instead of having to stop and read every sign about every piece there, you could just dial the number and listen to them talk about it. There was also a man dressed as an ancient Roman priest walking about the bath stopping to say prayers and bless people and the bath itself. Another thing that I was really impressed by was the statue of Julius Ceasar, it really showed how much history was in the baths.
Jake and the pigeons
After seeing the actual baths we walked around the city a little bit and Kory and I were presented with a pretty unique opportunity. There was a man dressed in all silver clothes with his skin painted the same silver who looked like the tin man from Wizard of Oz in the middle of one street surrounded by pigeons. We noticed a small tip jar in front of him so we approached him to see what people were paying to see this silver man do. We threw in a pound and he told us to sit down and hold out our hands. We did so and immediately he dumped bird seed in our hands and we had pigeons landing on on us and eating out of our hands. He then put a small amount on the top of both of our heads so we ended up with pigeons on our hands and our heads. It was a pretty fun experience and luckily neither of us got pooped on! Once we left the pigeon man we made out way to the final sight we would see before our departure, Pulteney Bridge. This was a Bridge with 3 arches over the River Avon. It was very beautiful and just passed the bridge was a three tier waterfall in the shape of a giant arch. Beyond that you could see many gardens and old buildings throughout the hills and personally I thought a trip there just to see that would have also been worth it. Overall our trip to Bath was fantastic and our group had so much fun! It is amazing to me how much history you can see while here at Oxford. Just on a short train ride we were able to see one of the oldest Roman sights around.
USA! USA! USA!
On Sunday our bath group plus a few others woke up early and headed to the Coach station to catch a bus to London shorty after 7 AM. We did so with the Olympics on our minds and while most people slept I stayed awake joking and laughing with Kory as we were both so excited for the days events. We have found the Great Britain has made it nearly impossible for people other than citizens of GB to get tickets to any Olympic events, so we were unsure we would be able to get into Olympic Park and see an actual event. Knowing this we planned ahead and found out the women's 26 mile marathon was going to be going on in the streets of London. It was a free event so we got off of our bus in our patriotic American clothing and headed to a familiar location, Trafalgar Square. Charlie and I have been to Trafalgar a few times now so navigating our way from Victoria Coach Station to Trafalgar was not the large of a feat. We arrived there about 45 minutes before the race was set to begin so we went to a few shops in search Olympic souvenirs for our family, friends, and ourselves. After a brief shopping spree we headed to Trafalgar to get a spot beside the road on which the women would be running. It was awesome to see so many people representing their home countries and there were different flags waving and hanging all over the place. Once the race began the crowed started to cheer as the runners approached us. I am not for sure how many runners were in the race, but it seemed like there were over 100. As they ran by, everyone snapped photos and cheered when they saw a runner representing their country. After all the runners had passed we knew it would be about 45 minutes before they would make their way back to Trafalgar so we headed towards Buckingham Palace to see if we could catch them again as they ran passed the palace. As we started to walk it did what it has done every time that I have been in London so far, it rained. At first we thought we could just continue walking, but we realized quickly that without some protection from the rain we would be soaked in no time. We saw two women selling small bags containing a newspaper, a small GB flag, some chocolate, and most importantly a poncho. Nearly all of us got one of these so we looked a little silly in our see-through blue ponchos as we walked through London.
The women's olympic marathon
After catching the runners at Buckingham Palace we decided to get a bite to eat to pass some time and watch the end of the race on TV. We wanted to watch the finish in person, but were informed that to get the that location you had to buy a ticket and they were not for sale to American citizens. We made our way to a small pub that had a sign out front advertising their incredible fish and chips. We sat down and ordered our food (best fish and chips I've had yet) and watched the last 30 minutes of the race. It was a very intense ending as an Ethiopian woman pulled away from two Kenyan women and a Russian woman to take the Gold. She also set the Olympic record, so it was pretty cool to say that we were able to witness part of a marathon in which the Olympic record was set. After seeing the finish of the marathon we decided that although we may not be able to get into Olympic Park we at least wanted to go there and see it. We went to the nearest underground station and studied the maps to find out how many switches we would have to make to get there. It turned out to be decently easy and only took us around 30 minutes to get to the stop nearest the park. When we got off the train we could already see the park and the giant twisting Orbit tower. Luckily it had stopped raining and above the park was a beautiful blue sky filled with giant white clouds. It truly was an amazing view and I feel blessed just to say I was able to see the park at that time of day. We walked all the way up to the gate to get as close as possible before getting turned away because of our lack of tickets. After being turned away I approached an Olympic volunteer and asked if there was anywhere we could go to get a better view of the park. He told em that if we went to the mall there was a place to look out over the park from the upstairs windows. We we wanted to see as much of the park as possible so we walked to the mall. As we got close it became obvious that we were not the only group who knew of the spot in the mall to see the park. I am sure there were more people at the mall that populate the city of Lincoln. It was crazy how many people were there and the walkway from the nearby Stratford train station to the mall was packed like a can of sardines. We squeezed our way through the crowded walk way and tried not to lose any of our group members. We decided to make an emergency meeting spot in case any of us got lost because it seemed like it was going to be pretty easy to do so among that large of a crowd! Luckily our group was never separated and we made our way to the viewing point upstairs in the mall. It was a small spot packed with people so we had to squeeze our way in and get as many photos as we could. It was a good view, but the amount of people there made it difficult to enjoy it too much. After we had gotten our group back together we grabbed a quick bite and headed back to Victoria Coach Station. We got back on the bus and were home shortly after dinner to fill everyone else in on how much fun we had and what we were able to see.
Overall it was an incredible weekend with our visit to Bath and then to London for the Olympics and I continue to be amazed the the opportunities that this study abroad program has to offer. Even if the Olympics were not in London this year there are so many things close to Oxford that could all be considered once in a lifetime locations. You would actually be able to enjoy London more if the Olympics were not there because of the millions of visitors they are having each day right now. Regardless, this continues to be an amazing experience and I am looking forward to sharing all of my photos with family and friends when I return home. However, I must say that I am going to be sad to leave all of my new friends here because we have all grown pretty close over these 4 weeks here. I am going to personally arrange a reunion in Lincoln to get our group back together once we return. Still much more to come including our Fox and Hound evening, our final exams, our good byes, and Charlie and I's post trip to Ireland!
We are into Week three at Oxford and week two was a blast. Since the last blog we have gone to the horse races at Sandown Park, gone on our trips to other cities and countries for the extended weekend, arrived back at Oxford for Monday classes, and today they are hosting a ping pong tournament during the afternoon.
Sandown Park horse races
I feel as if I say that everything that we do is my favorite, but so far the horse races at Sandown Park really has been my favorite! We all got dressed in our formal attire once again and loaded up the buses. It was not a long bus ride, but long enough for me to realize that my long legs do not fit in any sort of bus here. It is as if I am just wedged in my seat unable to move. Besides the lack of space on the bus we had a nice ride with only a little bit of excitement. We arrived in the early afternoon around 4:30 or 5:00 and we had a little time to look around the park before the first race was set to begin. It was a beautiful venue and everyone being dressed so nice really brought out the prestige of the track. After posing for some photographs around the park and seeing the horses for the upcoming races, we prepared for the first race. Some of us placed bets on a horse of our choosing while the majority of our group stared blankly at the screens by the betting counters.
Horse at Sundown Park
Most of our group had no idea how the betting worked so we asked an older local gentleman for some advice. He explained things to us and the betting was on. I know a large amount of the group made their bets strictly based off of whether or not they liked the horse's name which seemed not to be the best philosophy. We went and bought the books that had all of the statistics and odds for each horse so we could have a bit of an edge on some of the bets. After the first race the result was the horse Charlie had bet on had gotten first and the horse I had bet on came in second. Being excited we were high-fiving one another only to realize that he won 8 pounds for first and I won zero for second. Needless to say one of us stopped high-fiving after that. Some of the group did leave the park positive on betting, but I know a large group of us left the park down only a few of pounds. We then loaded up the buses again and headed back to Oxford. I personally enjoy the bus rides because you get a chance to sit by someone you may not know extremely well and get to know that person. I am still enjoying watching the many friendships that have been formed within our group continue to grow.
Extended Weekend - Manchester
Since they gave us Friday off of classes, on Thursday many of us boarded planes, trains, buses, and taxis to head for our destinations for the extended weekend. I know the majority of the group went to Dublin, Ireland, but I also heard of groups going to Berlin, Scotland, and some at Oxford and took day trips to places like Bristol. As for Charlie and I we hopped on a bus right after lunch and headed for Manchester. Luckily, just like in London, Charlie had a friend who lived there so we did not have to pay to stay anywhere or try to figure out the best places to go and things to do in Manchester. Her name was Monia and she was from Italy, but was completing her Masters in economics at Manchester University. Charlie had met her while he was studying abroad in Italy last year. It just so happened that while we were visiting her boyfriend, Tobi from Germany was visiting her as well. Tobi didn't live in Manchester at the moment as he was preparing to go to France to finish his Masters, but he had studying at Manchester University for a year the year previous. This meant that they both knew the city well so I knew it would be a great trip. They were so nice, providing us with such hospitality and by the end of the trip we were calling Monia, Mama Monia. She cooked us several Italian meals and would wake us up with the scent of her delicious Italian coffee every morning. She would even spread nutella on little cookies for us to eat with our coffee. She was working on her final dissertation for her Masters so on Friday afternoon she had to go work on that all day, but she made sandwiches for Charlie, Tobi and me to take with us on our day trip to Liverpool. She was such a nice girl and her boyfriend was really cool as well. He took Charlie and me on several tours of things including an amazing one in Liverpool.
When we first arrived in Manchester our bus brought us in an hour late which was a pretty significant issue considering our only way to communicate with Monia and Tobi was via wifi and facebook messaging. We had no idea how to get ahold of them because my phone wouldn't connect to the wifi at the coach station so we ended up having to ask a guy carrying a United States military issue back pack to use his phone. We got ahold of Monia finally and she was really worried about us (this would be the theme of our trip). In addition to our late arrival, she explained that there were two coach stations and we didn't specify to her which one we were going to be arriving at. Her and Tobi had split up, one at each station, to wait for us. She then called Tobi and he had been right outside the whole time, we just had never met him before so we did not know what he looked like.
Once we were all together the four of us walked 30 minutes down Oxford road which was the main road there, to the area near where Monia lived. She lived just past Manchester University by an area call The Curry Mile. This is a stretch of road with many Indian food vendors on both sides. If you enjoy authentic Indian food, then this was the stretch of road for you! Monia took her to her favorite place and when we walked in everyone there knew her by name. It seemed that she had made plenty of late night stops at this stand, including the night before. I ordered a chicken Kebob and it was gigantic and delicious. It was basically a giant piece of flat bread with chicken and all kinds of spiced vegetables on it. There were also two really tasty sauces that made the kebob extra good. We have eaten a lot of kebobs late night here at Oxford, but the kebobs on The Curry Mile put those to shame.
Friday Liverpool day trip
On Friday since Monia needed to work on her dissertation, Tobi volunteered to take Charlie and me on a day trip to Liverpool to see the sights. This was great because the train was only £11 round trip and it was only about 45 minutes. Once our train arrived in Liverpool I realized that this would be a very Beatles filled day for us. Liverpool is the birthplace of the Beatles so there is a statue or a sign of them on nearly every corner. Besides the Beatles the city had a lot of really cool architecture. There were really tall old looking towers and then also new modern looking buildings with intense angles all over them. We walked from the train station through the City Centre all the way to the harbor right off of the sea. This was a really cool sight as there were lots of buildings on the other side and boats in the harbor area. Beside the harbor was the free Liverpool museum which was one of the more interestingly shaped buildings we saw. We spent around 45 minutes looking through the museum and learning things about Liverpool's past. There were some really interesting exhibits and Liverpool is definitely a city with some history. If you're ever in Liverpool I would highly suggest that you visit the museum right off of the harbor.
After the museum we walked through more of the city to see more sights and made our way to a historic Beatles area and a place called the Cavern Club. There was a sign outside that said "Welcome to the Cavern Club, The Most Famous Club in the World." I knew immediately we were in for a treat. We walked down what seemed to be almost 5 sets of spiraling stairs into the Cavern and as we went down you could slowly start to hear the live music get louder and louder. When we got to the bottom we saw that this was one of the coolest places we had ever been to. There was Beatles memorabilia all over the place and people had written their names on nearly every brick in the whole place (I literally could not find one open brick to write my name on). After reading some posters and finding more about the Cavern out, I read that the Beatles had performed on the very stage we were looking at almost 300 times. It was considered to be one of their favorite spots to perform at and there were several pictures of them performing on the stage and wearing the same Cavern t-shirts that were for sale in the club. Outside of just the Beatles, the Cavern had played host to many other great artists and groups including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Queen, Elton John, Rod Stewart, Oasis, and most recently Adele. The history of the Cavern in addition to the live music literally blew my mind. We stood and listened to the music for a long time as every song was such a perfect cover of the original. My personal favorite was when one of the musicians played Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd to perfection. Nearly every other song was a Beatles song, but there were plenty of other great songs to be heard.
After basically having to be drug out of the Cavern by Tobi because we loved it so much, we headed back to the train station to make it back in time to watch the opening ceremony for the Olympics at one of Tobi's friends from college flat. We made it back in plenty of time and Monia was there waiting with a delicious meal before we left. We got showered and changed and met a group to grab a cab across town to Tobi's friend Adam's flat. It was a really nice flat on the 8th floor so standing on the balcony had a pretty cool view of the city and a little courtyard. When we got there we didn't realize that Adam had invited so many other friends over to enjoy the ceremony and there were nearly 25 of us in his one flat. I really didn't mind because we got to mingle with a large set of locals so we had some very interesting and enjoyable conversations. We discovered by the end of the night that there were a total of 9 countries being represented in just Adam's flat. The countries included the United States (of course), Great Britain, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Germany, Romania, Libya, and Spain. This was awesome because there were so many languages being spoken and everyone was cheering when their country was introduced at the ceremony. It became somewhat of a competition of who could make the most noise when their respective was introduced, but I would definitely say the United States took the gold! I made a deal with one of the Romanian girls to cheer when they were introduced so she cheered for the US and I also convinced Tobi, our German friend to sing the national anthem with me. It was actually his idea which surprised me. He seemed to really like America although he had never been there. Charlie wrapped up our national anthem with a good ole USA chant. Overall it was a great experience to be around that diverse of a group while watching the opening ceremony.
Saturday Sandhills Publishing Manchester Meet Up
On Saturday I had the opportunity to meet up with a group of people that work at Sandhills with me, but they have been working out of our Manchester office. I got to see a friend Emily who I had sat by when I first started working, and she took me on another short walking tour showing me things like where the office was, the mall, Picadilly Gardens, and many other cool things. We then went to a place called Sinclair's to meet up with a group including the Manchester Manager Kevin Jarchow who is actually from Madison. It was awesome to see a fellow Madison Dragon in this part of the world! That was a great experience and hopefully I will have an opportunity to come back and work in the office here.
The next morning Monia woke us up once again with the sweet aroma of her Italian coffee and had the Nutella and cookies ready for us. Her and Tobi then joined us on a bus back to the station and we got there just as they were closing the door on our bus home! We were luckily able to give our hugs goodbye and board the bus before it pulled out of the station. We were then safely on our way home with only one switch and an hour lay over at the coach station in Birmingham. I learn that London, Birmingham, Manchester, and Liverpool are the four largest cities here so it is pretty cool to know we have already been to all four.
Once we made it back everyone was excited to see one another and there were even a few greetings hugs. We all went to dinner and shared our many stories from our different trips and it seems outside of a few guys missing their flight back from Dublin, that everyone had a great time! The stories were crazy and many had some pretty interesting trips. It felt good to see everyone though and it proved once again that we have a very close group as we smiled and laughed at each others stories. Apparently we have some exciting things planned for the week according to one of our "Moms" Benita so there should be plenty more to blog about in the upcoming days!
Dean Plowman and Jake Daberkow
We are officially into our second week here at Oxford. We have done so much already, it feels like we have been here much longer than that. We have a great group of students, coordinators, and instructors so we are all having such a good time. Our group has already developed a great deal of chemistry and you can already see friendships forming. Our 4 coordinators are so nice, they feel like close friends to us already and our instructors are extremely knowledgeable and offer a unique expertise on the subjects we are covering. Dean Plowman and her husband Dr. Duchon paid us a visit for two days, so she was able to see exactly what we are doing and seeing. They also joined the group that I was in for high tea and were in our group photograph. Once she departed we took a trip to London and saw the changing of the guard as well as the musical Chicago. Yesterday we formed teams and had a soccer tournament. Today a small group of us went with one of the coordinators, Benita, to the park for a swim in the river. While we were there we also followed Benita's lead and jumped off of a bridge into the river. It was a lot of fun, but the water was very very cold.
Dean Plowman talks to students
While Dean Plowman and her husband were visiting we all had a chance to get to know her a little better. I personally have met her before, but have never had the opportunity to sit down and get to know her on a more personal level. I actually sat right beside her at high tea so I got to talk with her about a lot of interesting things and hear what she has done and is planning to do for the College of Business. She is a great woman who is super friendly and I am glad that she is our dean. I feel like she is doing great things and increasing the standard of the College of Business.
When we took our group photo we all wore formal attire so we all got to put on our suits and dresses. It was actually kind of fun to get all dressed up and take the photo. Being in the courtyard surrounded by the old structures on Jesus College really reminded me of the prestige of the program. I already got my copy of the photo and we all pulled it together and the photo turned out fantastic. It will be nice to look back at our experience down the road and remember all of the friends and memories we made here.
High Tea with Dean Plowman
Our trip to high tea was another interesting experience that Dean Plowman and Dr. Duchon joined us on. Dr. Holmes, one of our instructors, also joined the group that I went with. The high tea was basically just a semi-formal snacking session. We had a three tier platter in front of us that had all sorts of goodies on it. The bottom row had assorted sandwiches, which included a salmon sandwich that was amazing. The middle had a sort of biscuit that was delicious with jam and a cream spread that they had on them. The top had different chocolates and candies that were all very tasty. The tea was my favorite part though. With milk mixed in the cup of tea, it was scrumptious and I think that I will continue drinking tea when I return to the states.
Trip to London
On our first weekend here we took a day trip to London as a group. We boarded the bus with sandwiches in hand at 9:30 in the morning and we were on our way. The focal point of the trip was to go and see the musical Chicago, but we had a few hours beforehand to check out some sights. The group that I was with went to the National Gallery and we also went and watched the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. The changing of the guard was really cool, some of the guards were on horses wearing helmets and carrying swords. Chicago ended up being a really good show and the theatre we saw it in was classic delight. It had old architecture and made the play that much more enjoyable. After chicago was over most of us went to a local casino and some of us (Isaac and Kory) won big! We next went to a restaurant that was known for its list of sauces that go on each meal. We sat in a little cave room with seating wrapped around the table. You had to go down a few steps to get into the rooms, but they were pretty neat rooms. Next we hustled back to the bus stop loaded up and headed back to Oxford. It was a fun bus ride and everyone was laughing and a couple even singing.
Yesterday we formed several teams and all walked to the Oxford recreational fields and had a soccer tournament. We were all in our Jesus College green shirts and at the end of it all "The Blackshirts" were declared the winners. My team, "The Regulators", did tie "The Blackshirts" in a match so I'm thinking we shared the title. It was a lot of fun and it gave us all a chance to get some sun and a few of us(Charlie and me) left the fields a little red faced. We did manage to beat the teams from New York and Georgia Tech so at the end of the day Nebraska was the champion.
Today a group of us went with one of the coordinators, Benita, to the local park and went swimming in the river. The water was really cold and I wouldn't say it was exactly crystal clear, but it was really hot so it felt refreshing. Benita took us on top of a bridge and she jumped off, so a group of us followed her lead and jumped into the river as well. I managed to pull a back flip and Alisha got some pretty cool photos of the flip. It was another fun afternoon and now we have the horse races to look forward to tomorrow. This weekend is our extended weekend so we have no class on friday. Our group will be temporarily split up which is sad, but I have a feeling we will have a lot of fun when we all meet back up. Charlie and I are traveling to Manchester by bus to stay with a friend he knows who lives there who he met while studying in Italy. A large portion of the group is going to Dublin, but I have heard a few others saying they were going to Berlin. I am definitely excited for the horse races tomorrow and our excursion to Manchester this weekend!
Today is our third day in London and because of limited internet access we haven't been able to update everyone each day. Tomorrow we will be traveling to Oxford via bus from Victoria Station to meet up with the rest of the group. In London Charlie Lainson and I are staying with a family friend of his named Cora who is studying to earn her Masters at the Royal Academy of Music here in London. Staying with someone who has lived here for over a year rather than in a hostel or hotel has been amazing. Cora has shown us so many incredible sights, Charlie and I have been in awe since we landed in London on Thursday morning. Once we figured out how the underground train system or "the tube" works, we realized that it is really rather easy to get around the city.
Jake Daberkow and Charlie Lainson
So far we have seen the majority of the famous sights London has to offer, but nowhere near all of the city. We were both unaware that London was Europe's largest city until reading so on our flight over the ocean. It has a population of over 7 million and a sign on the tube said that they would be expecting around 1 million extra visitors every day during the upcoming Olympics. The sights we have seen include Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, Parliament, London Eye, Natural History Museum, London Tower, Tower Bridge, and many more. All have been beautiful and offered some great photo opportunities. So far my favorite has been Tower Bridge, which currently has a giant set of the Olympic Rings hanging from it in honor of the upcoming 2012 Olympic games. We saw the Tower Bridge at an ideal time as it was just beginning to get dark and there was a slight drizzle coming down. I could never imagine a more perfect view of the bridge, the Thames River, and the cityscape.
Since Cora studies music and plays in many prestigious musical events she knows many other talented musicians. Last night we had the opportunity to go see her friend, a french horn player, perform in a Bavarian Brass Ensemble at a place called Katzen Jammers. Katzen Jammers was an authentic German bierkeller filled with people overjoyed to hear the live music. Everyone was singing along to familiar songs like Thriller, We are the Champions, and many more. It was a fun environment, unlike anything I had ever seen before. Today we are going to see the British Museum, which Cora tells us contains mummies and other ancient and interesting exhibits. Charlie and I are both very excited to visit the museum, and also see St. Paul's Cathedral later today. We cannot wait for tomorrow, when we will meet up with our classmates at Oxford.
Oxford Punting Excursion
We have already done so many awesome things since we have been here I almost can't believe that it is only our third day here! So far some of the things we have done so far have been punting which was my personal favorite, played a game of rounders (basically baseball but with a smaller bat and ball), attend morning lectures taught by two very funny professors, toured the city, and seen some unique nightlife.
The punting was a ride in what was basically the UK's version of a gondola pushed along by a large pole down a little canal running through the city. Usually they let people push the boats along themselves, but the water has risen a foot recently from all the rain so they said the currents were too strong to let us do the punting. This meant we all got to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery all around us. There were a lot of green houses along the way that were full of plants and so many old buildings that all look like castles to me. We had an Oxford local who was half Paraguayan named Emilio who did all of the punting for us. He was really friendly and chatted with us throughout the ride. The punting looked difficult with the current and the fact that he had three boats tied together with 4 of us in each boat. He handled it pretty well although we did have one head on collision with one of the other groups when we were on our way back to the dock area.
Rounders Game at Oxford
Rounders was also fun and we actually had enough people to form two games of it. The rules were pretty similar to baseball, but all of the small differences threw most of us off and we seemed to be breaking the rules a lot. Both games had one of our four coordinators explaining the rules to us and being somewhat of a referee for our games. Like a lot of things so far half of our time playing in a lite mist of rain coming down so we all headed back to the college. Walking place to place is awesome because every walk is filled with so many interesting sites to see and a lot of us have been going out and just walking around to see more of the area. Charlie and myself met some cool locals we gave us a little tour or the area around the college. The surrounding areas of the college are always bustling and filled with people. The is people playing instruments or singing on nearly every corner so you get to listen to live music as you walk through the streets. The sights you see are not something that can be easily described in words and I highly suggest that if anyone has an opportunity to come here and see all of this that they do it.
Tomorrow Dean Plowman is coming to visit so we are all getting excited to see her at class in the morning. We also have a group photo and are going to see a show tomorrow evening so there will be plenty more to blog about throughout the trip!