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.”

5 weeks well spent

Looking back on this entire trip I can’t believe that we’ve spent 5 weeks in Europe. Prague almost seems like a lifetime ago, but at the same time I feel like the trip was the fastest 5 weeks of my life. I knew this trip was going to be the trip of a lifetime, but I never expected it to be as fantastic as this.

Dylan, Elizabeth and I on the London Eye (Photo by Sarah Hundt)

Dylan, Elizabeth and I on the London Eye (Photo by Sarah Hundt)

First of all, I’ve learned so much about photography. It’s always been something I was interested in, but now I feel like I have a real handle on things like composition, depth of field and lighting. I still have a lot of room for improvement, but I think this was the best possible way I could have chosen to study photography.

Second, the people are what have made this trip so much fun the entire time. I don’t think I could even accurately describe our group dynamic; there are so many inside jokes that I’m not sure anyone at home will want to hang out with us. It’s going to be weird without constantly living with this group, but I’m certain that we will see each other all the time back at MSU.

A group of us dressed up in very fashionably in Lacock

A group of us dressed up in very fashionably in Lacock

Since last October when I decided I was going on this trip, I’ve been telling my friends at home how I was going to have an amazing European adventure this summer. Now that it’s over, I can’t wait to tell everyone at home about everything I saw, learned, and the amazing people I met along the way.

The group in Prague (Photo by Brittany Holmes)

The group in Prague (Photo by Brittany Holmes)

At this moment

At this moment we are all packing and getting ready to spend our last night together. After an exhausting day, we all just want to be together and enjoy each other’s company. Here are some photos of what’s going on in our flat.

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How is it over?

At this moment we’re sitting in Regents University getting ready to start our last critique. The past 5 weeks flew by and I can’t believe we won’t be seeing each other everyday. We have a luncheon after critique then it’s time to pack and say our goodbyes to London. I can’t fathom leaving London yet, but a few of us will be in Rome tomorrow! I’m just going to pretend this trip isn’t over yet. I’m not leaving.

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What is a Life Well Lived?

As Grace Robertson shared her earliest work and insight with us, she unlocked a portal into the past. As an aspiring photojournalist in the late 1940’s, Grace worked diligently to succeed against all social odds. She enlightened us that it all, “starts with your handshake”. It better be a worthy, strong one in order to get the respect and recognition you deserve. Yet the relationship with our photography must be delicate. Time and time again she would ask herself, “have I got this as honestly done as I can?” This inquiry polished her a much more precise eye, which awarded work publishing in the Picture Post and Life Magazine. She encouraged us to always be curious. Curiosity will grant us the ultimate fulfillment in our lives and our photography.

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Exploring Alone

Graffiti in Shoreditch.

Graffiti in Shoreditch.

It’s strange living a daily routine that involves spending most of your waking hours with 13 or more of the same people for over a month. Actually, at this point it’s kind of strange to think about it any other way. On this trip, we have become such a huge part of each other’s everyday life. But really, it’s abnormal to spend so much time with so many people on such a regular basis. It actually makes spending time alone a bit strange.

But that’s what I did for a good part of today; I spent time by myself. I slept in, then went to get food by myself. After class I grabbed my iPod and camera and took the tube to Shoreditch to take more photos. And it was really relaxing. There’s a great sensation when you feel that you can blend into a big, foreign city and just act like it’s your normal life. When we’re in a giant group, it’s obvious that we’re tourists or students on a trip. But by yourself, you can sort of just slip through and observe. It’s nice taking time to just do normal things like walk around and listen to music, instead of running across the city to pack in everything we can before we have to leave.

I’ve thought about how weird it will be when I go back home and I’m not living with 13 of my friends any more. Over here there’s always someone around to go out with, or grab lunch with, or just talk to. I can’t quite remember what it’s like not to have a dozen housemates.

And most of the time I want to spend my days seeking out adventures with my new group of friends. But some days, like today, I just want to get lost in the city.

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.