LONDON – The sights of London came upon 23 student researchers from the University of Central Oklahoma as many pushed forward after a long overnight flight across the pond.
We arrived very early at around 6:45 a.m. on Monday after having to circle the airport three times, as many students on the plane were ready to get off.
According to many of the students, the small seats and food accommodations were not the best.
Once we arrived we all took off following Dr. Jessica Sheetz-Nguyen, professor of history at UCO, who was off leading the way with a heard of cats following her throughout the airport and into the London Underground.
Along the ride with the students was Dr. David Chapman, professor of real estate; UCO alumnus Leroy Coffman and UCO professors Rebekah Mills and Nicole Willard.
It was a packed ride on the London Underground as we made it past small cottages with beautiful gardens and umbrella clotheslines on this 81-degree day.
(It made me feel at home to see the clotheslines)
Londoners from all over flocked local parks to enjoy the warmer than average day. Across the street from our hotel, The Crescent, are tennis courts which attracted nearby residents.
This is the first time I have been to London, besides the airport, and after dropping our luggage off at the hotel the group headed to the area of a local market.
Commotion filled the markets with everybody out enjoying an afternoon shopping on this bank holiday, along with the smells of local cuisines. Many of the students dispersed for lunch on their own.
Several of us had pot pies for lunch which were rather good and was officially my first taste of London. However, they are not really known for their cuisines.
After lunch, Coffman and I headed back to the hotel for a freshen up and finally entered our hotel room which the cleaning crews had just finished.
I decided not to go to take an afternoon nap, instead, I caught up on emails and some readings that I needed to finish.
We all were jet lagged by dinner time at 5 p.m. and found one of the nearest pub for some grub. I had a burger and chips. (Really just fries with no salt)
Once finished, it was an early night for all, despite going back into a bedroom that was blistering hot with no air condition.
A Day of Learning, Day Two
It was a bright and early morning for the business students on the trip, with a 6 a.m. departure for Coventry for a day full of learning.
The history students are researching at the British Library and other areas.
Before leaving, I took a quick walk around to block to find some coffee, but all I found was window washers and the occasional delivery man at 5:30 in the morning.
Once the group gathered at around 6 a.m. we headed off for the Euston train station for some of the students first train ride across the beautiful countryside after departing at 7 for a 45-minute train ride.
Once we got to Coventry it was a rather large city for the countryside but had one of the most awe-inspiring medieval cathedrals that survived constant combings during WWII.
Walking up to what used to be a massive cathedral left me with the thought of what those individuals went through during WWII and the destruction that was left over after the Nazi Luftwaffe blitzkrieg.
All I could focus on while inside was the words, “Father Forgive,” above the altar.
The peaceful nature of the area made me think and sometimes a short prayer is all you can say during that self-reflecting time.
After touring the area, the group and I left for our journey over to the Fab Lab at Coventry, which is an innovation hub in an old dilapidated shopping center.
The Fab Lab is a community investment project by Coventry University to help those in the area with no college degree understand the basics of mechanics with 3D printing.
It is mostly funded by the European Union and it possible lose its funding soon if Brexit occurs.
It was interesting to see this type of community and university project taking place to help those who had very little access to a formal education. Many of the skills are needed for high tech companies. I would compare it to a trade school.
Once we arrived at the lab it was a day full of understanding the research that lay ahead for us, along with getting a refresher on the basics of academic research.
During the day many of the students received hands-on practice of interviewing each other. However, my partner, Camila Bazoalto, a UCO student, had never interviewed anybody before.
She was not warned about me and that instead of practicing interview questions on each other, that I would just go interview a random individual on the street.
Our research during the next week or two will focus mostly on two topics, pseudo-public spaces in Stratford where the 2012 Olympic games occurred and the gentrification effects on crime in the Kings Crossing area.
I will share more details about the research in the coming days.
After a long day, we all headed over to the Old Windmill Inn, a pub that was built in the 16th century, before heading back on the train to London.
At this point most in the group were getting tired, along with myself, so we grabbed a quick bit for dinner at The Euston Flyer. I got some delicious salmon cakes, despite the slow service.
We all moseyed back to the Crescent Hotel and I began working on homework and writing. Now I am off to bed and will give an update tomorrow.
Feature Photo: Camila Bazoalto, left, and Ashton Walling, a UCO student, work together at the Fab Lab at Coventry.