Monday, May 14, 2012

The Final Countdown

Only a few days left! The past few weeks have been incredibly busy as I wrapped up loose ends and communication with the students going on the trip. I've been filling their inbox's with little reminders from security to remembering to be a towel. I remind myself that this is the most motherly activity I ever plan to do.
The Summer Olympics doesn't officially open until the 27th of July, but the city is already preparing. The torch was actually lit last Thursday in Greece (and accidentally went out a few days later) and will remain lit until the opening ceremonies. This is an extremely exciting time to be in London, but a stressful one as well. Security will be at its highest and this means that travelers need to be well aware that moving quickly through one of the busiest international airports in the world isn't really a reality at this point. I've driven the point home that the students need to be well aware of how their behaviors and frustrations can be perceived. After a long day of traveling I don't want anything to hold us up. Nonetheless, I am excited to see the city just before the peak of all of the Olympics hoopla.
My role prior to leaving for the trip was to prepare students for this venture, as well as make bookings and communicate with some of our liaisons abroad. Now that all of those tasks have been laid to rest, I can focus on getting everyone over there!
The England/Ireland trip is extremely popular and is available in two sessions. Session 1 has already departed and is currently in Ireland. Session 2, my group, will be departing next week. We will land in London and meet the first group there. At that time, about 40 UNI students will be together in the city. We will spend our time in London together as a large group for about a week, then the first session will head back to the U.S. and my group will head to Ireland. The professor will be with the first group the entire time and not fly back to meet the second group as they prepare to leave for London. It is my duty to make sure all 20 students get to England safely. Pretty anxiety inducing. This isn't my first time transporting a group of students across the pond. During my last trip abroad in my undergrad it was sprung upon me in the airport that I would be the go-to person to get everyone from London to Chicago. Surprise! It went off without a hitch, and luckily airports are easy to navigate (even for someone like me who can't tell you at any given time what direction she is facing).
The students on the trip first have been taking a class which revolves around technology, industry, and society in the world. Most of their assignments have been completed to this point, but there will be some class meetings while abroad. Doing the formal "student" thing is pretty difficult abroad, but I think these students have it pretty well off. Lugging around a computer, buying a printer abroad, and hand writing papers isn't a particularly fun way to spend your evenings.
While abroad I will be making sure that the students get from point A to point B successfully and safely. I serve as a point person for questions and also making sure everyone can enjoy their trip to the fullest. This means that I will handle any crises that present themselves, whether it be alleviating roommate issues or helping students through homesickness (which is exactly what I do now anyway!). It's a whole lot of excitement!

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