The Perfect Mix

We started as 13 strangers in late June and now, after five short weeks, I consider all of these people my friends. I believe our group had the perfect mix of personalities in it. I cannot believe the study abroad program has come to an end and I have to say goodbye to a majority of the group. Although, I will never forget the laughs we’ve shared and the memories we’ve made.

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Howard waves goodbye as he and Kathy leave after lunch

We finished the program with a farewell lunch at a delicious Italian restaurant after our critique wrapped up. I will miss the critiques because so many suggestions were always made about everyone’s photos and I learned so much.

From what I have observed, everyone in the group has developed as a photographer, including myself. I have taken so much away from the speakers, but especially the words they have spoken about determination. To be a photographer, you have to be committed and persistent. I will try my best throughout my life to have these qualities so that I can be the best photographer I can be.

This study abroad program has taught me to push myself as a photojournalist. It has helped shape the way I see the world visually, and has provided me with what I hope are lifelong friends. I could not have asked for anything better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Critique, Pizza , and Packing… Goodbye!

Today started out with us hurrying to Regent’s College for our final critique!  We left late, the gate wasn’t working, but we still managed to get breakfast before class! Marketa joined us again today and gave us feedback once again! I love hearing what she has to say and she has the best stories.  The only complaint is that I never know when I need to start writing down what she’s saying and by the time I think about it, I begin to forget what she had said already!

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Marketa visited us for our last two days in London and participated in our morning critique.

After critique was over we headed down to the cafeteria for the last time to spend as much of our cards as possible.  We bought snack foods and drinks to hopefully last us on our plane rides and whatnot in the morning.  I ended up having around 20 pounds left on my card.  I wish we could have used them in the gift shop – then it would’ve been gone!  We headed off to lunch at that point.

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Our final group lunch consisting of pizza, pizza, and more pizza.

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After finishing our huge personal pizzas we said farewell to Howard and Kathy and went our separate ways.  Some people went back to Abbey Road to take pictures, packed, went shopping at Brick Lane, while Carra and I went to another tourist spot…

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Can you guess what tourist spot lurks behind these walls?

Platform 9 3/4!!! Did you guess right?? Interesting fact: the cart is not between platforms 9 and 10 anymore because it was causing to much delay for the actual trains by having so many people on the platforms.  It’s just out in the main hall area and we would’ve passed by it had there not been a line of red shirted Canadians!  You can tell that the two people working there definitely love their job (Alfie and Maddy).  Alfie was what I would call the “scarf flipper” and greater of the team.  He became best friends with a mom from New Jersey and was even trying to talk with a Jersey accent.  When I got to the head of the line he was whistling a song and quickly asked me what song it was.  I quickly shot back – “Hedwig’s Theme.”  He said, “Good. Someone earlier said Lord of the Rings…” I thought it was funny that he asked me about that particular song since that was one of the first songs I learned how to play in my junior high marimba lessons.After missing out on the Harry Potter studios I’m so glad that Carra tagged along with me to find this place!  Thank you, Carra!!

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Photograph by Carra, pre-scarf flip.

After this we headed off to Primark for the last time, I bought a couple more things, we got separated for a bit (I mean what do you expect in a 4 story store?) met back up and headed home.  Overall, it was a good, somewhat relaxing last day.  I wish we had more time here to explore, but it just wasn’t in the cards, I guess.  We’ll just have to come back sometime in the future.  So here’s hoping to safe travels tomorrow – whether it be back home to the states or to Italy.  I’m grateful for this opportunity I was given and the experiences we have all had together.  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Thank you everyone, for a wonderful trip!

The Final GoodBye

Today, the final day in London, the final day of the Photo Communication study abroad. It’s very bittersweet for all of us. The day began with critique for our final projects which were very open to whatever we chose to do.

After we had a farewell lunch at Santore Italiano, where we all ate delicious Italian style pizza, then said our farewells to the Bossens family who took care of us for the past 2 weeks.

The Restaurant we ate our farewell lunch at today.

The Restaurant we ate our farewell lunch at today.

The rest of the day, I went with Sarah to see where Harry Potter filmed and then after we went to Primark to do some minor shopping. After doing some shopping, we returned back to the apartments to pack for our early returns home tomorrow. Most of us return home as others continue the journey around Europe, going to Rome and Spain.

London was a very large and beautiful city, the weather, the people and the food was remarkable.

These past 5 weeks have been stored in a special place in my memories, the friendships I’ve made shall continue at MSU, and the next journey will be just as wonderful.

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Th group enjoying Pizza.

A group photo.

A group photo.

My favorite memories from the trip include the times we all enjoyed together going to local restaurants and photo exhibits. I must say, studying abroad has been one of the best decisions I have ever made, and I am very thankful I came along.

The Best of Times

As excited as I am to return to America’s high five, today has been slowly breaking my heart. During critique, Marketa talked about how when she first met us at the airport in Prague and how we all said that we were determined to have a good time on this trip. I remember being in that airport while we made our introductions, and I was absolutely terrified. Looking back on that moment is funny, because I have now become good friends with all of these people, and this trip has been nothing but a good time.

It is pretty surreal to consider how much we have seen and done in five short weeks. It seems like this trip began ages ago, and yet tonight it feels like it went by far too fast. We have grown so accustomed to adventuring with one another and having days upon days of exploring new places that the idea of going home and leading a normal, day-to-day life seems strange. We have learned so much on this trip. It was obvious in today’s final critique. This is such a talented group of creative people, and it was a treat to see how everyone has progressed in their photography skills each week. I truly hope that everyone continues to share their photos with the world, because I’m going to miss seeing new projects each week.

In addition to photography, this journey has taught me more about the world and myself than I ever could have fathomed. Sometimes my patience was tested, my body was exhausted, and my brain hurt. During those times when I just wanted to lie down and take a nap, either the city, others in the group, or a combination of both would motivate me to get back out there and venture some more, and it was worth it every time. Until this trip, never in my life have I said “This is the best day of my life” multiple days in a row. Being able to study abroad has been a true blessing.

Today after critiques, we were treated to a delicious pizza lunch, and said our goodbyes to Howard and Cathy. I just returned from fulfilling my dream of visiting Abbey Road. Brittany was kind enough to take pictures of Katie and I as we screwed around on the crosswalk made famous by the Beatles.

Katie and I nailing the famous Beatles walking pose.

Katie and I nailing the famous Beatles walking pose.

We plan on spending tonight together as a group one last time before we all head off in different directions around the globe. I am so sad to say goodbye to everyone. It has been a riot spending time with such fun, crazy, wonderful people, and I’m certain we will all continue to explore this huge world we live in, because like we have been singing since day one: “We can’t stop. We won’t stop.”

Operation Count Down

Besides the fact that our projects are due tomorrow, our time left in London is coming to an end. We all rushed about today doing various things as we try coming to terms with the fact that our trip is almost over. Today was a little different than other days that we have had here in London because we did not have class until 3:00 p.m. So, as one could imagine, we all had different things to do. For the most part the group went to work on their individual projects, meaning that we all split to go across London in different directions. Considering everyone did different things throughout the day, it is hard to say what each and every one of us did. The only two of the group that I know of that diverged from shooting for a project were Carra and myself. She went to a photo-shoot and I went to the Winston Churchill War Rooms Museum. Later, I met up with Sarah to go to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

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A view of London from St. Paul’s Cathedral.

At 3:00 p.m. we all gathered back at Regent’s University in the Cinema for a talk from Grace Robertson, an 83 year old woman that made her career as a photographer. As she stated, “photography is fascinating,” but perhaps the most fascinating thing about today was our speaker. She was lively with wonderful stories of her life and lessons for all of us, not only about photography, but about life too. Quite possibly her best piece of advice about photography can be applied to life as well, “always be curious and always be interested.” Her enthusiasm for her work was so refreshing even after all of her years in the field.

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Howard and Grace chatting after the lecture.

After class ended, most of us grabbed dinner at Regent’s University cafeteria in attempt to use the money they have given us. We then all, again, parted ways to do different things. Most of us went to go and photograph for our projects. I ventured to three bridges of London: The Millennium Bridge, London Bridge, and Tower Bridge.

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A view from the Tower Bridge of the London Bridge.

Eye in the sky

Last night we rode the London Eye, and the view was incredible. I thought that London would look similar to Paris from that high in the air, but they looked surprisingly different. Although they’re both large cities, I felt that London had a smaller sense and that the city didn’t run on forever. After the London Eye ride, some of us walked to the Old Blue Last pub. This was a pub that Shakespeare used to hang out in, and it also used to be a brothel. Knowing all of the history, it was hard to pass up. All in all, it was a wonderful night.

The London Eye at night

The London Eye during “blue hour”

As We Reach the End

Today, a wonderful warm sunny Thursday began with a long photo shoot of myself with a team of Makeup artist, hairstylist, stylist and photographer. We went and shot in Wimbledon Park, a large and vast park filled with exciting views and places to sit and enjoy shade, and a fountain for birds to bathe in.

We bagan hair and makeup at 9 a.m. The stylist arrived at 11am, we took a bus to the park, and began shooting. By 3 p.m., we finished shooting after the photographer Paul Carswell had filled up 3 different memory cards.

Behind the scenes

Behind the scenes

After leaving the shoot, I headed to class to finish listening to Grace Robinson, 83, and her spectacular journey as a woman photographer in days when women barely had equal rights to get certain jobs, let alone become a photographer. Her stories and her photos reflected on her work and personality incredibly.

Her advise to young photographers was to live our lives when we are young, to do all the things we are determined to do, and to only go into photography if we are truly driven by it, otherwise the work load may be too harsh.

At the end of the day, we all went shooting at different locations to finish any last minute shooting and editing for tomorrow’s final critique of the program. The farewell begins tomorrow.