Greetings from London! Yesterday we met at 5am to walk to St. Pancras Rail Station. Once we were there, we took the high speed Eurostar train to Brussels, Belgium. We arrived in Brussels and then we took a another train (medium speed) to the medieval village of Bruges. We left our bags at our hotel, Hotel Acadamie, and then were off to explore Bruges. During our 24 hours in Bruges we visited museums, shopped, took some tours, enjoyed waffles, chocolate, and some Belgian beer. Most of all we enjoyed wandering the picturesque streets and canals and learning about Belgian history and culture. We also had a class meeting where each student discussed one thing they learned about on this trip that is related to the thesis they have been developing. This afternoon we returned to London and had our final “Farewell to London” gathering at a local pub, the Plough. We had some refreshments and talked about all of the things we have seen and experienced over the past week. Everyone took turns sharing their favorite part of the trip. From Down House to Westminster Abbey to the Merry Wives of Windsor to Belgium to walking tours through the streets of London, there were so many experiences to pick from! Tomorrow we will spend our last morning in London and then head to Heathrow for our return trip to Newark. This has been a really wonderful group and we certainly enjoyed our time together. It is pretty amazing to think back on all of the things we saw and learned and experienced together in just one week. Thanks to the students for all of their hard work, their great attitudes, and for being wonderful to work with. Dr. Firenze and I feel privileged to have shared this experience with you and we are proud of the way you represented SUNY Broome! Cheers from London.
Greetings from London! Today was another busy but fantastic day in London. We met outside our flats at 7:30 am to begin our journey to Down House, the home of Charles Darwin and his family. To get from London to the village of Downe, we took a tube, a train (well three trains but that is a long story), a bus, and a walk. Once we arrived at Down House we toured the beautiful gardens, walked Darwin’s Sand Walk, and listened as Dr. Firenze read from Charles Darwin’s autobiography. We also toured the home where Charles Darwin lived happily with his wife and children and saw his study where he wrote The Origin of Species. It was inspiring to be in the place where Darwin pondered and wrote about his evolutionary theory that forever changed the way we understand the natural world. After returning to London we had a bit of free time. Some students visited Banqueting House (the only remaining part of Whitehall Palace) while others rested, caught up on their journals, or bought caps. In the evening we met for our private tour of the Charles Dickens museum. Once again it was inspiring to be in the place where Dickens lived and worked and to see the desk where he wrote Great Expectations, the novel we are analyzing in this class. Our guide did a wonderful job talking about Dickens and the Victorian period and really helping us to understand the personal life of Dickens. Today was such an eye-opening day where we got a glimpse of these real men who became such iconic figures in the realms of science, literature, and social reform. We ended our night with some instructions for tomorrow. We are meeting at 5 am to walk to St. Pancras and take the Eurostar to Belgium. We are all excited for the next part of our European adventure. There will not be a full blog post tomorrow as I will not have my computer, but I will catch up when we return to London on Thursday night. Cheers from London!
Greetings from London! It was an extremely busy day for our BIO 293 team and we covered a lot of ground. We started our day at Westminster Abbey where our guide, Mark, took us on a private tour specially designed for our class. We learned about the rich history of the Abbey and visited the graves of not only Charles Darwin and Charles Dickens, but many other famous scientists and writers. Mark taught us many interesting facts about how the theory of evolution changed society and culture and how the arts teach us so much about human nature. It was almost overwhelming to be surrounded by so much beauty and history. After our tour of Westminster Abbey, we met Dr. David Tucker for a walking tour of Dickens’ London. We spent three hours walking the streets of London and saw many of the sites that inspired Dickens and were featured so prominently in Great Expectations and other works by Dickens. It was a view of London that can only be seen on foot and we learned so much about this unique and fascinating city. After our walking tour there was a bit of time to enjoy dinner and then we attended a performance of the Merry Wives of Windsor at Shakespeare’s Globe. The show was very funny and the actors did a terrific job. Wow, what a great day. I think everyone is ready for some rest after seeing and doing and walking so much. We are leaving very early tomorrow morning to travel to Down House, home of Charles Darwin. We will return to London in the evening for a private tour of the Dickens’ House Museum. Good night from London!
Greetings from London! Today we started our day by taking the tube to the British Museum of Natural History. Once at the museum we took a class picture with Darwin (it’s a tradition) and then split into two groups for our behind-the-scenes tour of the spirit collection at the Darwin Center. We were able to see the laboratories and offices where the museum’s scientists work (but no actual scientists because it is Sunday), the Dermestarium where flesh-eating beetles were hard at work (even on a Sunday!) cleaning the soft tissue from a fish skeleton, and some of the museum’s eighty-two million specimens…including a Coelacanth. We toured the spirit collection where millions of mammals, reptiles and fish are preserved in jars of alcohol. We even saw some specimens collected by Charles Darwin himself. The biodiversity of our planet is staggering, and it was sad to learn about the species that are now extinct. After our time at the Natural History Museum, we met up at The British Museum where each of the students gave a presentation about an object in the Enlightenment Wing. The students highlighted how the object they chose was linked with the Darwinian themes we have been learning about in our class. After everyone had completed their presentations, we went over our plans for tomorrow and went our separate ways for the evening. We will meet early tomorrow for a private tour of Westminster Abbey. After that we will meet our guide, Dr. David Tucker, for a walking tour of Dickens’ London, and then we will finish our day by attending an evening performance of the “Merry Wives of Windsor” at Shakespeare’s Globe Theater. Cheers from London!
Greetings from London! We had another beautiful, sunny day here. We met at Russell Square Cafe for some breakfast before heading out to meet our guide. Everyone was looking rested and ready for our second day in London. We took the tube to Monument to meet our guide, Richard. Some of the students even had the energy to climb hundreds of stairs to the top of the Monument before our walk. Richard took us on a fascinating walking tour of “Darkest Victorian London”. For about two hours we we strolled through Victorian streets and learned what life was like for Londoners who lived during this fascinating time period. We ended at Borough Market for some food and drink. We enjoyed all the sites and sounds of the crowded market. Later in the afternoon we split up into groups to visit Kew Gardens, the Tower of London, or some other popular London venues. Tonight there are groups seeing shows in the West End or enjoying dinner out. We are appreciating the perfect weather and our experiences. This is a wonderful class and Dr. Firenze and I want to thank the students for their enthusiasm and their fantastic attitudes. They are doing a wonderful job representing SUNY Broome and we are proud of them! Tomorrow is another busy day and we are excited for our behind-the-scenes tour of the Darwin Center! Cheers from London!
Greetings from London! After an overnight flight from Newark to Heathrow, the spring 2019 BIO 293 class had our first busy day exploring London. We took the tube from Heathrow airport to our neighborhood in Bloomsbury and left our luggage at the Acorn office. We enjoyed a quick lunch in the park (what a perfect, gorgeous day!) and then hopped back on the tube to go to the Museum of London. The students had each chosen a historical section of the museum to visit. The Museum of London has sections devoted to: London Before London (450,000 BC – 50 AD), Roman London (50 – 410), Medieval London (410 – 1558), War, Plague and Fire (1550’s to 1660’s), Expanding City (1670’s to 1850’s), People’s City (1850’s to 1940’s) and World City (1950’s to today). The class had an hour to visit the museum and find something they were interested in within the historical sections that they had signed up for. Within their chosen section, each student picked an item to share with the class, and then presented on that item by linking it’s significance with the evolutionary themes and neuroscience concepts that we have been discussing in class. We went through the museum together to listen to all of the student presentations. Although everyone was tired after the long trip and very little sleep, they did a fantastic job with their presentations and we had some great discussions about human nature and behavior. When we finished at the museum we took a walk past St. Paul’s Cathedral and then headed back to the flats to get settled in. We had a quick walking orientation to our neighborhood and then we split up to unpack, visit the grocery store, and find some dinner. Everyone is ready for some rest but some of the class plans visit the British Museum since it is open late tonight. Hopefully, after a relaxing evening and restful night we will all be ready for another full day tomorrow. We will meet early in the morning and then head out for a “Darkest Victorian London” walk and a visit to Borough Market. Cheers from London!
The spring 2019 Darwin, London and Literature class has been working hard all semester as we prepare for our overseas adventure. This week we had our last class meeting and reviewed our final trip details. In just a couple of days we will reconvene at the airport in Newark and head to London. Dr. Firenze and I are excited and inspired by the interesting theses that the students have developed, and we can’t wait to share London and Bruges with them. Please check back for updates and to follow our our progress!