I would also like to give one last shout out to Dr. Nobiling. She has been coming to London for the past 15 years and has seen almost every place we went this year every other year she has came. She put a lot of effort into making the arrangements for this program and making sure that we all enjoyed it. Without her to start this program and making it worth while I wouldn't have been able to come at all.
Saturday, May 23, 2015
I would like to give Constable Watson a big shout out. This year he is retiring; he only has 15 working days left. He has been so nice and has taught us and showed us around a couple of days we were here. He has been able to let us in or get us closer to things, that most people won’t ever do. He has been a great host to us and I am very happy that I was able to meet him. Constable Watson has been with the London Metropolitan Police Department for 30 years. He has helped plan and work some of London’s major events. He helped with security when Princess Charlotte was born; he helped with the Olympics when they were held in London, and so many more events. He has also been personally invited to some of the Queen’s events as well. For example, on Wednesday night we attended the Queen’s Garden Party as a guest. Constable Richard Watson has been such a great host and has helped with our study abroad program so much! I couldn’t thank him enough for everything he has done for us while we were here.
I also appreciate everything the International Study Abroad group has done for the group by planning our tours and day trips and transportation. I also am grateful for the tour guides we had, that gave us so much information and informed us of everything that they showed us to the best of their knowledge. I would also like to thank every single one of my family members that helped me by supporting me financially as much as they could to help me fulfill this dream of mine. I couldn’t have done it without them and I can’t thank them enough for the help.
While we were in London, I have noticed a lot of differences between the United Kingdom and America. One thing I have noticed with the biggest of differences is eating out. It may seem weird that eating out is so much different from one country to another, but it is.
One thing about eating out that is different is ordering food. In a lot of places you will be seated, then you look at the menu at the table, and then you go up to the counter and order your food and drink. This is very different from what we are used to in America.
You also aren’t required to tip the waiters and waitresses. When you order your food a tip is already calculated into the bill. This is nice in some ways because you don’t have to worry about how much you are going to tip, but it also sucks because sometimes it is way more than you would normally tip or the waiter or waitress doesn’t deserve the tip.
The waiters and waitresses are also different than what you are used to in America. When you are out eating in the States, the waiters will come to your table and take your order and then bring you your drinks and your food. They will also come around to the table and ask you if you need anything else or ask how everything tastes. In London the waitresses will still bring you you’re drink and food, but I have only been to one or two places since being here where they will come back to ask me how my food tastes or if I need anything else. They also don’t normally come back and refill your drink, so you can go most of your meal without a drink.
Another big thing is the amount of ice we use in our drinks in America. In the States we will fill the glasses completely full with ice and then add the drink of choice. Well in London, they may or may not add ice to your drinks.
In America, we generally don’t have to ask the waiters to bring us our checks because they will bring them to us when most of the people are getting down with their food. In London they will not bring you your ticket until you ask for it, they think it is rude and feel like they are rushing you to leave if they bring the ticket to you before you are ready for it. They also don’t ask you if the ticket is all together or separate and they assume that if you are all eating together that it is all together. When you ask them to split the ticket for you, they don’t split it just for one single person they just split the ticket evenly. This has been a hassle for us as sometimes one person has to pay more or less than what they are supposed to pay and then the person that pays less has to reimburse the person that had to pay more than what they paid.
In America, it is custom for us to be able to take our food that we did not eat home with us. We are given a box to fit put it in and carry that out and put the food in our fridge and then reheat it in the microwave the next day. In London, they do not take their leftover food home with them. It is very weird and I think it is very wasteful. Some of the places we ate served a lot more food than what I can eat and I ended up having to leave. I feel like it is rude to the cook to throw their food away, and it may make the cook feel like something was wrong with the meal.
Eating out isn’t the only big difference I have noticed though. Another thing that is different for me is that to use a public bathroom you have to actually pay to use it, and some restaurants don’t even have restrooms for you to use. One night when we went to the clubs we even saw outdoor urinals for guys to use that were just on the corners. They were like port-a-potties but open with four different slots.
Street signs are also different here. Instead of having signs on metal rods on the corner of the sidewalk they have the street signs on the corner building instead. Their stoplights are also a little bit different from Americas. When a stoplight is getting ready to turn green, the yellow light will come on while the red light stays on, to warn a driver that the light is turning to green very soon.
Currency is also really different as well. London uses Great Britain Pounds, and they use a lot more coins than we do. The exchange rate is also shockingly high to convert from dollars to pounds. One pound here is equivalent to approximately $1.60. So things are also quite a bit more expensive than what I am used to. For example a bottle of coke here is £1.70, which is equivalent to $2.72.
There are obviously a lot more differences between America and London, but these are just a few things that were a big culture shock for me. It has been nice to expand my cultural views these past two weeks, and it makes me appreciate America a lot more. London is a very nice place to live but it has way to many people for me and things are more expensive than what I am used to, so I am ready to go back to the States and afford the things I like to buy on a daily basis. I also have a lot more respective to waiters and waitresses and for everything they do. It will be nice to be back home and part of me will miss London and I know it will take a few days to get used to America again. The jet lag is going to be the worse things, but with the amount I have walked the past two weeks I hope it will help me cut back on the amount I drive and maybe help me start walking more places.
On our last day with Constable Watson, the criminal justice group was able to experience a few things that most people don’t get to do. Thursday morning we went to New Scotland Yard to meet up with Constable Watson and Constable Cole. The Constables then took us on a walking tour around the New Scotland Yard area. The first place we stopped at was Downing Street. Few common people are allowed into the gates of Downing Street; so it was cool to be able say I have been inside the gates. The reason why people of the public aren’t allowed in the gates is because that is where some very important people of the United Kingdom live. We all took pictures in front of door number 10, which is the house of the Prime Minister.
The second thing we were able to do that very few people have done, especially people that are citizens of the United States, was being able to watch the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace. Yes, people can stand outside of the gates and watch this happen; but we were able to actually go inside the gates of Buckingham Palace and stand on the sidewalk right in front and watching the Changing of the Guards. This was such an awesome experience! On our way out of the gates we had people taking pictures of us, as if we were famous, which they probably thought we were people of importance; but little do they know is that we are just normal people from the small town of Chadron.
We weren't able to take photos while inside the gates, but we were able to capture a quick picture before we went in!
One of my favorite parts of this trip was being able to go to the theatre. On Wednesday night, I was able to attend the play Lion King at the Lyceum Theatre. This was my first experience going to this kind of play and I was awe struck the entire time! It also helps that the Lion King was one of my favorite movies as a child (and really it still is one of favorites). All the people in the play did an amazing job, but my favorites were the two little kids the played Simba and Nala. They were my favorite not because they did the best but because for being so young they had their lines down so well and they didn’t even look the least bit nervous. I couldn’t imagine being a child and having such a big part in a very popular play like that. I also enjoyed how the actors and actresses didn’t have strong accents and they were very easily understood. This is definitely something I would love to do more often!
Unfortunately I was unable to take photos during the performance, so I don't have any photos from the performance itself.
On Sunday, May 16, 2015, the group and I took a day trip to see Stonehenge and the Roman Baths. This day was full of mystery and creativeness.
Our first stop was Stonehenge. Stonehenge is a rock formation that no one knows how it was made or why it was made. There are a lot of mystery and stories to tell why Stonehenge is made. One story to why Stonehenge was made is to celebrate the mid summer solstice. This celebration is to celebrate the longer days that are to come. Another story is for them to celebrate the mid winter solstice. Some people also think Stonehenge was created for healing purposes, religious purposes, and some even think aliens created it. I personally think that Stonehenge was created by for religious purposes.
The second stop we made was at the Roman Baths. The Roman Baths is a place where water comes up through pores in the ground and is water and enriched with minerals. There have been a lot uses for the Baths. The Romans used to use it to drink and bathe in, and then it was used for religious purposes so no one was able to bathe in it, and then it was used to bathe in again. The baths were cool to see, and we were even able to try the water. I personally did not like the water, it had a funny taste to it and it was obviously warm since it was coming from the Earth’s core.
This day was fun filled and was fun to see these different landmarks. Seeing these sights also allowed me to use my creativity as to why they were created, or what they were used for.
Monday, May 18, 2015
On Friday, May 15, we were able to go to the Westminster Magistrates Courts. This is the lowest of the court systems in Great Britain. We had a tour guide this day, and she used to be a lawyer, so she was able to give us a lot of information. We learned the different levels of a crime, who every one in the courtroom is, what their jobs are, and a lot more.
There are three different levels of crimes that are used in the courts. The lowest type of crime can be tried only at the magistrate courts. The next level of crime is a crime where the defendant can choose if they want to be tried at the magistrate court or the Crown Court and the judges can also decide if the crime is out of their jurisdiction and can bump them up to the Crown Court. The most serious of crimes is always tried at the Crown Court. Now all three levels of crimes always start out at the Magistrate Courts. For the middle offense crime, a defendant has a tough decision to make. They can either have their case tried convince three people that they are innocent at the Magistrate Court level, or they can be tried and try to convince twelve people that they are innocent at the Crown Court level. In both cases though it has to be a unanimous vote. There are also district judges that are in the Magistrate Courts. The difference between a lay judge and a district judge is a district judge had to be lawyer for at least 7 years before becoming a judge. The lay judges are just volunteers, explaining why they have to have a legal advisor.
At the magistrate court level there are a number of different people. There are three people called the lay judges, who find the truth and law and decide the sentencing of the defendant. There is also a legal advisor, this person will make sure that the lay judges are giving the right sentencing and/or fines that are needed. The Prosecution and Defense lawyer sit facing the legal advisor and lay judges. The defendant is behind a glass wall with a security guard. There is also a probation/parole officer that will sit in on the case incase the defendant is given probation/parole. In other levels of court there is also just one judge called the district judge. At the highest court, called the Crown Court there will be twelve jury members also.
We were able to sit on a few cases, and one case really shocked me. So this girl was in court for five different actions. I don’t remember the whole list of events that happened, but I do remember the gist of the case. This girl assaulted five separate officers by spitting on them, hitting, or head butting them, all of these things happened in the same day but at different times during the day and at different places. The girl was taken to the hospital and then was released that very same day back into the community. The defendant ended up pleading guilty to all five accusations. This girl’s defense lawyer was using a mental health disorder episode to describe why the defendant assaulted the five officers. The girl was given an all options report and has to return to court in June. While the girl is waiting to go back to court she is on certain probation restrictions, which we do not know as the probation officer talked to her after, and she has to get test for mental health issues. This case really surprised me because if we would have done that in the states we would have been in jail until trial and would have had gotten sent to prison that day for a long time. This case was tried in front of the lay judges.
After this case was over we went to go see a case that had a district judge, and to show how they move faster than cases with lay judges. When we walked, the court was waiting for the defendant to show up. It turned out that the defendant was actually being held at a jail in another district of London for a crime they committed the night before. So the judge ended up moving the case to another day. Unfortunately that was the last case the District Judge was supposed to do. The court then had lunch, and because some of the other courtrooms were behind, the district judge was going to take on some of their cases to help them out. We weren’t able to return after lunch because our tour guide had other plans for the afternoon, so we weren’t ever able to experience the district judge in action.