“Thoughts About America While Walking the Perimeter of the Island” by Savannah McMenamin

Although this island is unique or peculiar to say the least, I can still, in a better way, compare it to America. When talking about systems and the way people live, I see better quality over here. I see the quality of not only the land but of the housing, the people, the work ethic, the food, the efforts put towards the personal and unique historical sites, and even the behavior of people’s dogs.

Everywhere you look, you can tell there is time and work put into things. The quarries, for example, that took who knows how many men to excavate. To cut, shape, and move these stones that easily must have weighed a ton each. And the training of dogs. They heel when the owner says heel, they sit when the owner says sit, and they give a paw when the owner says paw. All while making it seem like it was done with ease. Life in America, while being here, seems utterly complicated. People have great purpose and big jobs in America and that is ultimately what keeps them going. Here, though, it is the scenery, the nice weather, the need to eat, or simply the need to take your dog out for a walk that is the motivating factor. Although those tasks seem somewhat lame or boring, there is still purpose in them; a purpose that comes along with a lot less pressure.

Americans feel, and even I feel, I need to do so much, accomplish something big, make it somewhere far, when in reality, everything I need is right in front of me and I simply cannot see it. In America people WANT, want, want. Here, people understand that they HAVE, and that is a big factor of why America is run the way it is. People barely even stop to admire beautiful scenery, whether it be in the city or the suburbs. They have stopped caring about what is right in front of them and I feel are always looking to do or to have the next biggest and best thing available to them. Even though this island is beyond beautiful with views people would die for, I felt the same way in the city of London. There is a hustle and bustle, yet still I can see the presence of an appreciation for the city.

Americans say they are the best and that they have it all, yet I bet if they all stopped and looked around, they would quickly realize that is false. In America all people do is TALK about how they are the greatest, yet I see very little ACTION put towards statements like that. Americans are all talk while trying to do things in the cheapest and fastest way. I hope people all around the world learn that good things come with TIME and CARE… not just speed and efficiency.

 

Day 3: Both Sides of the Thames by Wyeth Moyer

It’s our third day in London and we’re staying at a hostel that’s an old Victorian building the color of red brick. It’s called “Palmers Lodge” and though I’m staying in a room with eight other boys – all bunk beds – it’s a cool spot. Each morning there’s breakfast in the dining area on the bottom floor. Today I ate breakfast at 8:00am. I then went to the lobby, where I patiently waited for the rest of the group. Once assembled, we hit the streets and headed to the Underground train commonly referred to as “the Tube”, which is a very effective mode of transportation.

We saw the new building called “The Shard” from both sides of Thames River. It’s the largest building in Western Europe. It is meant to resemble a long shard of glass. It is sort of looks like the Freedom Tower in NYC but it tapers off into three sharp angled points at the top. We then walked across Tower Bridge to get to the Tower of London, one of the oldest structures and certainly the oldest fortress in England.

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge

Inside, there is tons of old armor and weaponry from many different times ranging from 1000 AD to the present. There are quite a few features of the fortress, such as a mote, many gates to not only allow ships and men to come in, but also effectively keep men out who were not welcome. The Tower of London is also where we saw the Crown Jewels, which are the royal jewels that the royal family have worn for centuries. Since the Tower of London is a fortress, we were able to walk up the stairwells to the tower walls, where archers would post up to defend the fortress from invaders. We then got on a boat, to go down the river to Greenwich.

In Greenwich we climbed the tall hill to the Royal Observatory where the Prime Meridian line is located. We took pictures standing in two hemispheres and walked through the museum, which educates people on the history of navigation and the development of longitude. We ended the day eating at a nice restaurant called The Crusting Pipe, which was a mixed cuisine. I had heirloom tomato and buffalo mozzarella, seafood linguini, and I ordered potato gratin on the side, which never came. The other groups decided on Shake Shack and other quick things, but since Sam, Savannah, Chuan, Dong, Orlando and I like to treat ourselves, we had a long and delicious dinner while Aldredge and Lydia’s groups waited for us. We walked to the Tube after dinner, and got off at Swiss Cottage. Back to the hostel, sleepy but restless, tired but ready for another day.

– Wyeth Moyer