Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Zack and Elva in Copenhagen!

A Letter From Over The Seas
Hello, UNC Greensboro! This is Zack Weaver, English Major and student far afield in Copenhagen, Denmark. The seasons here are beginning to turn, changing the weather from warm to cold before my very eyes. (No snow yet, though.) I am accompanied in my travels by my Lloyd Honors dragon Elva, and a better companion one could never hope to have. She’s been most accommodating to being stuffed into breast pockets and hauled around for sightseeing and photo ops.

Demonstrated here
I suspect she enjoys the attention though. It’s not every day that a dragon can sightsee without unwanted hysterical attention!

Elva and I have been getting along wonderfully. She’s been coming along with me on all my classes’ cultural activities. We’ve been getting a lot of mileage on these travels. We’ve been to Fredericksborg, the Peder Skram (a retired Danish frigate), Viking museums around Denmark, Viking graveyards and runic stones in Sweden, and even up to London with the professors Hodgkins’ class.  She’s been quite the well-traveled dragon!

My University
We arrived in Copenhagen on July 28th, a month early, owing to a pre-semester Danish course. It was with no small apprehension (not schoolwork nervousness, that came later!) but rather stemming from the simple task of finding my residence and figuring out basics like transit and food.  Researching on the internet is one thing, but on the grounds of a foreign country was another. There’s no really good way to be prepared. Fortunately I adapted fairly quickly, finding food with the help of dormmates and figuring out the transit system with the assistance of University people.

(A side note: we were told about the five stages of coping with being in a foreign nation, and how this would be a gradual process. I actually went through them all on Day One and was fairly comfortable after that, odd logistical issue aside.)

I am living with a roommate; his name is Mingjia, and he hails from China. He is studying Computer Programming at the University of Copenhagen, and will be here for two years. We’ve gotten along wonderfully, and have had some cultural exchanges.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

TK and Drake in Leicester, England!

Hello, all!

I’m TK and my dragon buddy Drake (named after the English pirate Francis Drake who circumnavigated the world… not the “Hotline Bling” singer) and I are having a smashing time in England!

Drake at Shakespeare's Globe

I am studying in Leicester, a city about the same size as Greensboro, and about 2 hours North from London. Leicester is quiet, but quite beautiful and has a ton of character. There’s a lot of diversity here, and the students at my university (local and international) are friendly and seem eager to get to know me and more about America. 

Leicester church

The highlight of my time abroad so far (and probably will be even after I’m finished) was going to London for 8 days with other Honors students from UNCG, and Drs. Chris and Hope Hodgkins. It was the most exhausting week of my life, but it was more than rewarding. From climbing to the top of St. Paul’s Cathedral (528 steps!) and getting a breath-taking (and tear-inducing…) view of the city; to simply sitting down and having a family dinner over English tea and scones (to die for, by the way)—I had a blast and would not trade it for the world. 

View from the top of St. Paul's Cathedral

Literary London Family Dinner

Despite the fun I’ve been having, my entire time here hasn’t involved baking cakes filled with rainbows and smiles that I can eat and be happy (I just have a lot of feelings, okay?). I’ve been dealing with homesickness, something I thought I could avoid, for a while, and it’s been a bit difficult to get out of the rut it’s put me in. Not to mention I’m getting over a terrible case of Fresher’s Flu.
To those of you who are planning on going abroad soon, I can say that planning excursions (whether weekend-long or a day trip) outside of your host city definitely helps. It’s easy to get comfortable with staying in the bed all day watching Netflix (although I am hooked to RuPaul’s Drag Race right now), but do try to make yourself go out and explore your city! There are always things to do and places to see—you are only a Google search away from finding out what they are!

St. Martin's Church

It also helps to talk to other people about how you’re feeling. I have other friends that are abroad too, and it makes me feel better to know I’m not alone and that my feelings are normal. If needed, check out the counseling center on campus and make an appointment with someone. I had to do that during a particularly tough time and coincidentally, I ended up having the best counseling sessions I’ve ever had. Do keep in touch with friends and family back home, but make sure you’re not leaning on them completely, or it could backfire. 

Being abroad is a spiritual experience and it’s important to take full advantage of your time while you’re gone. My time is winding down to a close, and while I’m excited to return to America (and eat Bojangles), I also want to make sure I travel as much as possible while I’m still here.

It’s okay to lose your sense of self. It’s okay to want to go home. But you were brave enough to come here, so you are strong enough to get through it, and make the best of what you have. 

TK Willis-Finney
University of Leicester 
England, UK

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Stephanie and Crimson in Leicester, England!

Hello All,

Welcome to my blog post! I've been in Leicester for a month as of October 19th; I'm enjoying every minute of it. At first this city might feel like Greensboro because there isn't much to do here besides shop, eat, and go to the cinema. However, I'm pushing myself to get out of that mindset because this isn't Greensboro, NC... this is Leicester, ENGLAND! It took me a while to get adjusted to life here in Leicester, but I had the company of two other UNCG students to make the process less scary. 

We departed from Charlotte on September 18th and arrived in London at the Heathrow Airport on September 19th. This was my first time flying so I was super anxious, but after an hour or so on the plane I was able to relax. Going through customs was interesting to say the least, but once we went through customs and got our suitcases we headed for the charter bus that was waiting on us. It was a 2-hour bus ride from London to Leicester, but I slept through the ride due to my lack of sleep on the plane. Once we got to Oadby Student Village we checked in and headed to our halls. I'm living in Beaumont Hall and I like it so far; it's nice having my own room and bathroom. My flatmates are quite the characters, but I get along with them. My dragon, Crimson, seems to enjoy the view from our room.
Crimson enjoying the view from the residence.
Our first two weeks here were very relaxing. We spent most of our days going into the city and discovering the many shops and cafes. This city also has not one, but two 3-story shopping malls. I was kind to my bank account by keeping my shopping to a minimum because there's lots of traveling I want to do. Speaking of traveling, we went to Birmingham for a day to checkout the Bull Ring and explore the city. Here's Crimson, standing in front of the Bull Ring. 
Crimson outside the Bull Ring in Birmingham
I'll be in Dublin, Ireland for Halloween with some other international students, so I'm pretty excited about that opportunity. A couple weeks after the Dublin trip we plan on going back to London for the weekend. We also have a trip planned for Amsterdam near the end of our stay.

So far, I'm enjoying everything about England. My classes are quite different from classes at UNCG because there aren't any assignments due during the term, we have final exams at the end and that's it. I'm also running for a student council position here at the University for the term, so fingers crossed that I win! The locals I've encountered are very friendly and I've had some interesting conversations with them at the bus stops. I've learned that it's okay to ask a stranger for help when you're the foreigner, even though it's nerve-racking. It's also okay to stay in and enjoy your own company. I think I feel the pressure on most days to constantly be out doing something, but I learned that it's okay if I need to take a day to be by myself. These are the days when Crimson and I send postcards back home to our family. 
Sending postcards to family
Well, thank you for letting me talk about my experience here in Leicester, England. I hope you all enjoy the rest of the semester!


Stephanie Cooke
University of Leicester
England, United Kingdom

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Caroline and Clive in Leicester, England!

Hello all!

Greetings from Leicester, the rather chilly but surprisingly sunny center of England. Interestingly, I can already say I’ve had an amazing trip, even though I’ve only been here for a few weeks. I traveled with a friend from UNCG and we decided to come a bit early and have some time to adjust in London, which was incredible. In our days there we saw the National Gallery, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, The Victoria and Albert Museum, and Benedict Cumberbatch in an other-wordly production of Hamlet. At the end of the week we met up with the rest of the internationals headed to the University of Leicester at Heathrow and traveled to Leicester.

Clive approves of my new home

I think the thing that most surprised me about studying abroad has been how truly impactful and exciting it is. I always heard the same speeches from everyone who came back from their respective trips: that it was amazing, that it was a life changer. And for some reason I always felt like it might not be that way for me. But not even a month into my adventures I can already say that it is true. I have met people from seemingly everywhere in the world. My roommate is an absolutely lovely gal from Korea, and she has been teaching me every day about her culture. This has been invaluable, to be able to see everyday situations in the light of her perspective. 

As expected, there have been some interesting moments of being lost in British slang, (ex: “are you all right” is their “how are you”), but for the most part I have been able to navigate fairly competently thanks to the kindness of the people around me. Additionally, when things go wrong I am finding that getting through a misunderstanding or having to figure out how to get home after the GPS fails is growing my confidence. Culture balancing has also been a learning curve: I am learning to love rugby, as the world cup is going on in London right now, and at the same time I stay up ridiculously late to catch MLB games. It seems crazy at times, being so engaged in both cultures. It is crazy…..but it is also incredible. Classes haven’t started yet here, and so I’ve been able to enjoy soaking up the newness and adjusting to the change.

Clive discovering "suggested reading"

And so I am quite pleased to be able to report a wonderful trip thus far. This week I am traveling around in Paris, which has been super fun, and in a few weeks I will go join the Honor’s College’s Literary London class, which I absolutely cannot wait for. Thanks for letting me tell you a little about what’s been going on with me and I hope everyone’s semesters are going well.

Me being pensive by the Thames

Caroline and Clive

Caroline Somerville
University of Leicester
Leicester, England

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Where in the World are the Fall 2015 Dragons?

Welcome back to There Be Dragons, the blog dedicated to chronicling the adventures of Lloyd International Honors College students (and their dragon friends) during their study abroad adventures.

If you've never been to There Be Dragons before, you may want to read this post to learn more about the blog, its name, and its purpose.  You can also read this post for an overview of what the blog covered in 2014.  It's a great place to start if you want to see a little of everything!

The above map pins the locations of over 30 Lloyd International Honors College students who are studying abroad this fall.  If you'd like the interactive version, you can click on the LIHC Study Abroad Map link in the upper right corner of the blog.  If you click on a pin, you'll discover the program the student is participating in at that location.  It's a useful tool if you're just starting to consider your study abroad options!

As soon as you have questions about planning your study abroad experience, make sure to check in with an Honors adviser and then make an appointment with the International Program Center (IPC) on campus.  It's never too early to begin planning!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Christina and Julius De Boer in Bristol!

My name is Christina and I am a rising junior majoring in Chemistry with a minor in Business traveling with my dragon Julius De Boer. I am writing today from my desk at work here at the University of Bristol, where for the past six weeks I have been conducting research in an organometallics research lab under the supervision of Dr. Robin Bedford. I am working with iron synthesis and reactivity so much so that you can call me that “Iron Lady” at this point. Monday through Friday is pretty much work, work, work but that’s okay because I love what I’m doing wholeheartedly. Outside of work is the daunting idea that I’m actually away from home. I think I’m one of few of my kind as I was born in Greensboro, grew up in Greensboro, and decided to attend college in Greensboro. Leaving my parents was very hard as I’m an only child, so as you can imagine the attachment levels are unparalleled. 

Some highlights of my journey: Julius at the Roman Baths, souvenirs, and the snake table scene set from the Warner Bros. Studio Harry Potter

Leaving them at the airport was so cliche. I cried my heart out and I saw my Dad cry for the first time. I was still homesick after my first week but things all started to change once I realized that I have to take advantage of my circumstances. During the second week I went to a barbecue held by the Chemistry department at the Uni, and confirmed what I already knew: alcohol and I do not mix. I also went to Stonehenge with the rest of the crew from the REU and oddly enough spent most of my time hanging with the cows that didn’t moo or move; they were almost statuesque. 

A view of the Bristol Harbour, Pimms an English drink of the summer, a view from the side of the chemistry building, the Mirrors at Royal Fort Gardens in Bristol, Julius at Stonehenge saying “Cheers!”, Julius at Weston-Super-Mare, the statuesque cows of Stonehenge, and Julius at Clifton Suspension Bridge.

I started to embrace the city of Bristol more and started doing daily walks to the Clifton Suspension bridge with Julius; he kept me going. I also spent a day at Weston-Super-Mare which is a beach just 30 minutes by train outside of Bristol. Julius wanted to get in the water, but British beaches are cold so that was a no go. I also went to the Roman Baths in Bath, and though the experience was phenomenal, a huge mishap took place here while taking a picture of Julius on the bridge. My wallet was stolen. Here I am, in another city, without my return train ticket, cash, cards, not even my key to get into my apartment, basically feeling stuck. I was able to get help and luckily a free train ride back home and everything started to turn out for the best. I was able to get everything back in order and my bank even rushed out my cards to me within 3 days.
After that disaster of a weekend, the next weekend I flew to Paris. I finally used AirBnb after seeing all of those commercials on TV. I was able to see the Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysees, Louvre Museum, and The Pantheon. Paris was the best experience of my life I also went on cliche tourist bus tour sat on the top taking touristy videos. I also chose a return flight with a nine hour layover in Brussels, Belgium. My time in Brussels was a true culture shock, but the chocolate was just as amazing as they say. I had a chocolate-koek dubbel from Panos and it was amazing! 

Julius at Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, a view of Buckingham Palace, The London Bridge, Whoopi and I posing for the camera, Ronald Weasley’s horrid Yule Ball outfit, the “Ice” Sculpture, and the triple decker Knight Bus from Harry Potter.

This past weekend I spent time in London, and saw Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, and really enjoyed my time at Green Park which is just next to Buckingham Palace. I really loved traveling through London, because the underground and overground railways were so frequent. I also fulfilled my childhood dreams and went to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour. I remember when the Deathly Hallows came out in bookstores on July 21st and I made my mom get up early in the morning to take me to pick it up, and 8 years later I was able to envision all of my childhood dreams come to life. 

Some food highlights include pizza in Paris, burgers and chips in Bristol, grilled chicken topped with cheddar with mushrooms and chips in Bath, bubblegum cake with bubblegum ice cream in Bristol, Butterbeer ice cream in London, hot cookie dough and ice cream in Bristol, chocolate-koek dubbel in Brussels, and jerk chicken in Bath.

I will say I’ve definitely matured during my time here. I went from crying and feeling homesick during the first week to flying to Paris alone during week 5, and living the Bristol life. I’m really sad to be leaving my research group here as I’ve made a mini family here, but I’m also excited to be returning home this weekend because things are just a bit more expensive here than I would wish, oh and there’s that thing called school less than two days after my flight lands. 

Christina Hairston
Bristol, UK

Monday, August 10, 2015

Tory and Little Richie in Bristol!

Hey Everybody,
I’m Tory, a senior Biochemistry major, and this is my dragon, Little Richie.

How humbling to stand in front of one of the Seven Wonders of the World!

We have been living and working (doing chemistry research) in Bristol, England for six weeks now. We are very busy in the lab throughout the week, but get to explore on the weekends. In this post I am going to share my experiences of living in this vibrant city, traveling to some popular UK destinations on the weekends, and my opinion on what it’s really like to study abroad over here (aka, read this section if you are applying for this program in the future).

Bristol Life:
This is a fun little city. It reminds me of a blend of Charleston, SC (because it is on the water, has rainbow townhouses, and has plenty of upscale shopping) and Asheville, NC (because the “city center” or downtown area is full of quirky local shops and artists, graffiti is the norm here, the university sits on top of a very steep hill, there are festivals and markets happening all the time, and it overall just has a very laid back feel). I have enjoyed my time is Bristol. There isn’t too much culture shock here because they speak our language. I do still feel awkward every time I say “y’all” but I can’t/won’t stop saying it. Some things that make Bristol different from Greensboro include having two taps on the sinks- hot and cold water are not mixed, you get burning hot lava and cold. It makes no sense. Also their alcohol culture is different from ours. As you probably know, young people can drink at 18 years old. As you may not know, there are no open container laws, so it’s completely normal to see people drinking while walking down the sidewalk or sitting out by the harbour, and they also serve alcoholic beverages in the cafĂ© in the university student union.
Anyways, my daily life here in Bristol revolves around my research.  Every weekday I am in the lab from 9:30 am until around 5-6 pm. I haven’t had any days off, although I was told that it would be ok to take a Friday or Monday if I wanted to travel while I was here. My time in lab is great though. It has been a really great experience for me. I have learned new techniques and been able to work with instruments that I never used in my last two years of undergraduate research at UNCG. The majority of my readers might not speak "science", so you can skip to the next paragraph, but if anyone is interested, I have been working on synthesizing a catalyst to complete a reaction using methanol and ethanol to make i-butanol. Isobutanol is important because it is a sustainable fuel source that has more energy than the ethanol that we currently blend into normal petroleum based fuels, so more i-butanol can be blended into and ultimately one day completely replace gasoline. Past researchers in my group found certain ruthenium complexes to work really well at catalysing the reaction; however, ruthenium is in limited supply and isn’t cost effective, so it can’t be used as a sustainable solution. So I am currently testing some similar complexes that I synthesized that use iron instead of ruthenium. So far the results do not look like I am going to change the world or win a Nobel Prize, but that’s science for you. You win some and you lose some.

Wass Research Group, Summer 2015