Adventures of Travel

So, as Chris mentioned in our last post, it is now my turn to contribute. Myself being Taylor.

It has been a busy couple of weeks for us. Activities ranged from a concert in London, to travelling all the way to Montenegro and Serbia with no money. In addition, we have planned out our travels for winter break.

We’ll start with Chris and I’s trip to Montenegro. This unique trip came about because of a charity hitch-hike call “Jailbreak”. The idea was to raise money for the Raise and Give Foundation (RAG). The donations were given to four different charities: Make a Wish Foundation UK, Student Minds, The Red Lipstick Foundation, and Enactus Southampton.

The goal behind the event was for participants to travel as far from the University of Southampton as possible, while spending no money of their own. For Chris and me, the idea was very intriguing and presented a challenge unlike anything we had done before.

The adventure began early on the morning of the 21st of September. Chris and I ate breakfast and made our way to the Student Union, where Jailbreak was set to begin. After registering, and receiving safety packets, the “race” began at 0900.

0900 Day 1: Chris and I had a slow start. We went with the well thought out plan of having no plan. We wondered around Southampton for quite a while asking for travel money. Eventually, with the help of Chris’ best southern charm, we were able to raise enough money for a bus to London. After a two and a half hour bus ride, we arrived at the Victoria bus terminal in London. Once at Victoria, our first move was to ask the bus companies for reduced or even free tickets. At first we were told that is was possible, but in the end, nothing was able to work out. By this point it was past 1900 and we were beginning to feel that our prospects were grim. That’s when the idea came to reach out to the Webb community of students. The Webb response was incredible and we owe the ability to travel past London to the Webb community. Initially the idea was to buy the cheapest bus ticket available, but seeing the strong response, we set our new goal for the cheapest flight we could find. After a quick search, Chris found a flight to Podgorica, Montenegro. It was due to fly out early Sunday morning. Next, Chris searched for flights back to Podgorica. He found that if we flew through a different airline, the flights back were expensive, but not detrimental. With a way back home at least discussed I booked our flight to Podgorica. Next I looked at the flight back home. This is when both Chris and I realized for the first time that we were going to have a 13hr layover in Belgrade, Serbia. After further research, we figured this arrangement would work, plus offered us an unexpected trip to another country in the region. Again, flights were booked.

2400 Day 1: After discussions by Chris to walk the 37 miles to the airport, we quickly searched for a cheap bus to take us instead. Fortunately we found one, and were on our way to the airport just before midnight.  We arrived at Stansted Airport close to 0100. We slept in two shifts, allowing each of us to attempt to sleep for two and a half hours. I say “attempt” because the only space available with an outlet to charge our phones was next to a door with a massive gap letting air in from the outside. Unfortunately for Chris and I, it was -3C (27F). The hard stone floor didn’t help our cause either. Fortunately for me, once my time came to sleep, I had found a nearby radiator. I was able to sleep the radiator for a short time, until I was kicked off by a small shop employee working nearby. By this point however the airport was beginning to open, and so we checked into our flight and made our way to the gate.

0800 Day 2: The flight to Montenegro was uneventful (I slept the whole flight…). One thing that stood out in Chris’s mind was the beauty of the Croatian islands we flew over. Luckily I did wake up for the approach to Podgorica. I admired the impressive mountains surrounding, for which Montenegro is named after (“Black Mountain”). Once on the ground Chris and I had no idea what to expect. Our first task was to check in for our flight to Serbia. This is when we found, to our surprise, that our booking for the flight to Serbia had been cancelled. Again, we were very surprised. Luckily with a very nice Air Serbia employee (who spoke rough English), we were able to rebook. Next, the same gentleman arranged for a taxi for us into the city center. Chris and I were fixed to the windows as we drove into the capital city. Podgorica is not massive, and has only a population of around 180,000. Once in the city center, we were able to arrange for the same taxi to pick us up four hours later. At the time, because of the language barrier, I was not entirely sure we understood the taxi driver, but through various methods of writing numbers down on paper and a bit of pointing, an understanding was reached.

1400 Day 2: Chris and I had about four hours to explore Podgorica. To start we headed towards the river Moraca.

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Once on the river, we found the Millennium Bridge and began walking towards it. Looking along the river, towards the various bridges was very beautiful, especially with large mountains as a backdrop.

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We walked across the Millennium Bridge and began exploring what appeared to be the ruins of a large number of buildings. Unfortunately, even after some quick research, we still have not found what these ruins are.

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By this point, it was beginning to get dark, so we began walking back towards the city center. On our way a friendly gentleman picked us out as foreigners immediately. He spoke English well and asked us questions such as where we were from. He then continued and asked if he could help us in any way. We asked for a place to eat with wifi and he immediately directed us to a nice restaurant down the road. The restaurant was so nice that we felt bad entering considering we were still in the same clothes we had put on over 30 hours before. I can’t imagine we smelled too pleasant, or looked particularly formal. Regardless, we were encouraged to enter and were immediately served. Our meals were amazing. Keep in mind that this was our first actual meal since breakfast the morning of the day before. We practically licked our plates clean. In addition to great food, Chris and I were able to connect to wifi, letting our families know where we were, and what our plan was. After finishing our meal, we walked backed to the government building of the city center. They stood out when compared to most of the buildings nearby.

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With more time to spend, Chris and I found a park nearby to explore. There was a stark difference between the soviet style block buildings and the brand new park.

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After finishing walking in the park, we returned to the city center and found the taxi. The taxi now had a different driver, who was excited to practice his English. He was very proud of his country and was very interested in what we thought of our visit. He also told us about the beauty and fun of the coast of Montenegro, and encouraged us to return in the summer to experience the beach life. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time before our flight. I found that any position was comfortable and took a nice nap before the flight.

 

2400 Day 2: The flight to Belgrade, Serbia was very short. We arrived just before midnight. After withdrawing some Serbian dinar, we walked around the airport trying to find a way to our hostel. We ended up on a bus towards the city center. With the help of a friendly gentleman on the bus, we were able to get the ride for free. We arrived at our hostel just before 0100, and made plans for the next day and crashed. It felt fantastic to lie down on a real bed.

0645 Day 3: The next morning we woke up and left the hostel by 0645. We walked down the road to Belgrade Fortress, where the sun was just beginning to rise.

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The fortress was fantastic to explore. The sheer size of the fortress was impressive.

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After a short time of exploring, it was time to head to the airport. We walked around the area surrounding the fort with the intention of find a taxi. It was a nice walk because we were able to watch as everyone began their day. The taxi was also nice because it was a much quicker drive to the airport than the bus would have been.

0900 Day 3: Once on the plane, flying towards London, Chris and I were able to relax. We had travelled with no plan, and were on our way back. We fortunately had avoided experiencing any significant or worrying issues. In travelling to Montenegro and Serbia, I can say that we had an experience unlike anything we expected before entering Jailbreak. We enjoyed it very much. More importantly however, in the generous donations by family, friends, and even strangers, Chris and I raised over £800 for charity. As a whole, the event raised over £13,300 for charity.

 

Now, that Jailbreak has been discussed, we can move on to the concert in London. The weekend after Jailbreak, Chris, Will, and I headed to London to enjoy a Chvrches concert. After finishing classes on Friday, we grabbed a train to London and met Chris’s cousin and her husband. They introduced us to some of their friends, and we headed towards Alexanda Palace. The view from the hill on which Alexanda Palace is located is great, and we all paused for a moment to take it in before heading inside for the show. The venue itself was also very nice, and we very much enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere. Overall the concert was great. For me particularly, not knowing very much about Chvrches, it was very cool.

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After the concert we headed to a nearby pub, before heading to Chris’s cousin’s flat. They were very generous in offering us a place for the night.

The next morning, we walked across London and visited once again the Imperial War Museum. As mentioned before, we had previously visited the museum, but unfortunately ran out of time before we became even close to going through the whole museum. This time we had all day. We spent around four hours in the museum. It is an incredible, and well worth visiting. It covers WWI, through to the present.

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One of the most moving exhibits was the Holocaust section. It was one of the most extensive exhibits any of us have ever seen. After finishing with the museum we returned to Southampton.

 

Finally, it is time to explain our plans for our winter break. We have made plans to travel to Copenhagen, Zurich, Prague, Vienna, and Istanbul. We are taking full advantage of our friends from Webb. In Copenhagen, we will stay with Cody Owen (Webb, 2015). Then in Zurich we will stay with Gabriel Poritz (Webb, 2015). Naturally, in Istanbul we will stay with Gokce’s family. After we return, we will make a final update, hopefully having plenty to talk about after three weeks of travelling.

 

At the request of Will, I will mention that we watch the Army, Navy game last night (12/12/15). Will and Chris were particularly happy with the Navy victory over Army.

 

Until next time,

Taylor

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Adventures of Travel

Long Time No Post

At the end of the last post Will suggested the next one would come on Sunday night. I have fulfilled his promise, just a few weeks late…

After orientation week we began classes in earnest. Most of the material we covered in the first couple weeks was review, except for math. Fortunately, we have an excellent math professor, not quite Professor Goloubeva though. In the past month, we’ve had a few graded assignments, including our first Archaeology paper and a Thermo test.

As Will mentioned, the weekend after orientation Taylor and I took a trip to the Isle of Wight. We went with a group from SUKs (Southampton University Kitesurfing) of about 30 people. When we were told we would be staying in a caravan park for the weekend, Taylor and I weren’t quite sure what to expect for accommodation. It turns out that a “caravan” is a mobile home, and they are apparently quite popular as holiday homes.

On Saturday, the wind was mediocre. At times it was strong enough to keep the kites in the air, and at others they dropped out of the sky. During my lesson the wind was strong enough for me to gain some time flying the kite. After the lesson Taylor, who had been kiting all day, let me use his gear. I managed to get up on the board, but couldn’t keep the kite powered to keep going. There are a few more trips with SUKs before we leave, and we are hoping to go on another one or two.

The following weekend Will went to Leeds to visit a friend from high-school and managed to read the entire Da Vinci Code on the bus ride there and back. And the next weekend, Gokce went to London to visit a friend that was in town for the weekend.

Will also turned 19 in the past month. His flat all went out to Nando’s, a chicken place. It was sort of spicy, but we prefer Popeyes/Bojangles. We told his flat that we would name-drop them in the next blog, so here they are: Rajesh “Raj” Koothrappali, Fernando/Alfredo Natale, Anaken “Skywalker” Eheswaran, Hannah “Baby Monitor” Upton, Kirsten “Lost My Keys First Night of Uni” van Graan, Elina “You’re Not Cool Enough to Meet My Family” Garton, and Oliver “I Will Wake You Up at 2 am for Taxi Money” Wiltshire.

One Sunday, Will and I made Filipino food using his mom’s recipe. It turned out well. Will was happy he didn’t ruin everyone’s impression of Filipino cooking.

For the past two weekends, we have done day trips on Saturday. Last Saturday, we went to Warwick Castle and Oxford. And yesterday, we went to Stonehenge and Bath.

We expected the castle to be a museum and full of historical information. It was not. We learned afterwards that the castle’s parent company also owns Legoland and Madam Tussauds, and it showed. There were a few “haunted” tours of the dungeons and other areas of the castle; for the aspiring knight, there was a training school where students (children) could hit wooden posts with swords, a trebuchet, and a falconry show.

The view of the castle that greeted us as we arrived.
The view of the castle that greeted us as we arrived.
The main keep.
The main keep.
The trebuchet at the castle. Notice the large wheel on the side of the machine. Two people walked inside of that wheel, and two more people in the wheel on the other side. By walking in the wheel, they turned an axle around which a line was wound that pulled the arm of the trebuchet down and into the launching position. Unfortunately for us, the main arm had a three-foot fracture in it, preventing the trebuchet from being fired. The staff told us that they were waiting on a new arm to be made in France, because the ash it requires does not grow in the UK.
The trebuchet at the castle. Notice the large wheel on the side of the machine. Two people walked inside of that wheel, and two more people in the wheel on the other side. By walking in the wheel, they turned an axle around which a line was wound that pulled the arm of the trebuchet down and into the launching position. Unfortunately for us, the main arm had a three-foot fracture in it, preventing the trebuchet from being fired. The staff told us that they were waiting on a new arm to be made in France, because the ash it requires does not grow in the UK.
A view of the keep from the outside. The island that we are standing was at one time home to the personal zoo for the castle.
A view of the keep from the outside. The island that we are standing was at one time home to the personal zoo for the castle.

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Being a home for the wealthy, the castle had electricity installed before power was widely available. To provide power for the lights, engineers took advantage of the river flowing past the castle and attached a generator to a water wheel. The first picture is of one of the gas-engines installed at the castle in the 1800's. The next is of a vertically mounted water wheel, and the final is of a few of the lead-acid batteries required to keep the lights on through the night. Over 50 of the batteries were required, and they had to be regularly topped up with sulfuric acid.
Being a home for the wealthy, the castle had electricity installed before power was widely available. To provide power for the lights, engineers took advantage of the river flowing past the castle and attached a generator to a water wheel. The first picture is of one of the gas-engines installed at the castle in the 1800’s. The next is of a vertically mounted water wheel, and the final is of a few of the lead-acid batteries required to keep the lights on through the night. Over 50 of the batteries were required, and they had to be regularly topped up with sulfuric acid.

After the castle we were off to Oxford. Our first visit there was to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology. Our favorite exhibit in the museum was the Greek sculpture. They had an original statue of Alexander the Great. The museum also had a replica, which was painted in the original colors.

Outside the Ashmolean.
Outside the Ashmolean.

After the Ashmolean, we went to the History of Science Museum, Oxford University Museum of Natural History, and the Pitt Rivers Museum. We enjoyed the skeletons and taxidermy in the natural history museum. The Pitt Rivers Museum holds the collection of Augustus Pitt Rivers, an English Army officer and antiquarian. His collection contained a large number of artifacts from around the world, including an entire floor of weapons, from wooden clubs, to blow-darts, on up to the AK-47. His collection also included a few dozen ship models, dolls from around the world, a history of tattooing, Inuit jackets make of seal intestine, and many other items. The History of Science museum had an exhibit on Henry Moseley, who pioneered X-ray spectrometry. His experiment helped identify some elements. He also was able to discover the number of protons in an atom. By performing his experiment on many different elements, he was able to reorganize the periodic table and theorize the existence of technetium, promethium, hafnium, and rhenium. We also saw cameras belonging to Lewis Carroll and Lawrence of Arabia. They also had a preserved blackboard from one of Einstein’s lectures given at Oxford.

The main floor of the Pitt-Rivers Museum.
The main floor of the Pitt-Rivers Museum.
A building called Radcliffe Camera. Everyone was taking pictures of it so we did too.
A building called Radcliffe Camera. Everyone was taking pictures of it, so we did too.

Last Monday, we went and saw Spectre (the new Bond film) before the US release. Rajesh came with us. The movie was very good.

Yesterday we traveled to Stonehenge and Bath. On the way to Stonehenge it began to rain. Unfortunately, the rain did not stop and the wind blew a constant 20+ kts.

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Us in at the classic British historic site in the classic British weather. Taylor is rocking my backpacks rainfly as a hood.
Us at the classic British historic site in the classic British weather. Taylor is rocking my backpack’s rain-fly as a hood.

When we got to Bath the rain had finally stopped. Our first stop was the Roman baths. The bath complex is built over the only geothermal hot springs in Britain and the water rises at a temperature of 114 F. The bath complex was very large, and in its prime could hold a few hundred bathers. The engineering that went into building the baths was quite impressive. In the calderiums (saunas) the floor was raised and the walls were built out of hollow bricks. Hot air from a fire built underneath the floor rose up through the walls and circulated under the floor, heating the room.

The hot-spring. This water was considered sacred by the Romans, and bathers did not enter the water here.
The hot-spring. This water was considered sacred by the Romans, and bathers did not enter the water here.
The main swimming pool. This pool is fed from the hot spring.
The main swimming pool. This pool is fed from the hot spring.
The brass head of the statue of Sulis Minerva, the patron goddess of the springs. The statue was housed in the temple next to the baths.
The brass head of the statue of Sulis Minerva, the patron goddess of the springs. The statue was housed in the temple next to the baths.
Bath Abbey
Bath Abbey

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With Bath being in a bit of a valley, Taylor and I wanted to find our way up onto one of the surrounding hills to see the town above and catch the sunset. As we were walking up the road we found a cow pasture that doubled as a dog park. It was on the side of a very steep hill. We decided to hike up the hill. It turned out that my boots were a good decision, as we slogged through angle deep mud, dodging cow pies. But as the pictures show, it was a very good decision.
With Bath being in a bit of a valley, Taylor and I wanted to find our way up onto one of the surrounding hills to see the town from above and try to catch the sunset. As we were walking up the road we found a cow pasture that doubled as a dog park. It was on the side of a very steep hill, and being a pasture was devoid of trees, so we decided to hike up it. For all the times the guys have questioned my wearing boots, this time it was clearly a good decision, as we slogged through ankle deep mud, dodging cow pies while marching up the hill. The hike was certainly worth it though. Will and Gokce skipped the hill and walked around Bath. 

Last time we said it would only be a week until we posted again, that ended up being a month. We’ll try to do better this time. Next one is Taylor’s responsibility. Please direct angry emails to him. He can be reached at treiss18@webb.edu. Feel free to pester him so he remembers.

Chris

Long Time No Post

And so it begins…

Firstly, I’d like to apologize for not posting on the blog last week. I just never got around to it. This post will just have to cover two weeks of material.

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The University of Southampton’s towing tank.

Last Monday started induction week, which is basically a student’s introduction to the school aspect of school. On Monday morning, we had a lecture with the other Ship Science students about our induction week project. Each engineering discipline has a week-long project that shows them how much they know (or don’t). Civil Engineering built bridges, Mechanical built supports for fractures, and “Shippies” built- you guessed it- a ship. We were supposed to build a small model boat that was to simulate an anchor handling vessel, which could carry a load of 6.3 kg. Average boat sizes had a length of 500-550 mm and a beam of 200-250 mm, so it was very small relative to the freshman boat project back at Webb. We were assigned to groups of 5-6 other first years. Later in the day, we had a series of lectures covering basic stability and Archimede’s principle. The purpose of these lectures was to ensure that all the students had the basic skills necessary to design a boat. We also had a basic health and safety/honor code lecture. Basically, it taught us that we shouldn’t cheat, shouldn’t work in labs alone, and how to contact authorities in case of an emergency.

Tuesday, we had another lecture that introduced us to our semester-long research paper. We had to choose a type of ship (or a specific ship if you felt so inclined) and write a six page paper describing it. For any Webb students or faculty that may be reading this, it’s basically a slightly longer version of the Description of a Ship report (except we have six months rather than a little over one). After that, we met with our groups and discussed design concepts for our ships. Most groups (mine included) settled on a generic box with a pointed tip design; however, Gokce’s group decided to make their boat shaped like a teardrop. The Webb crew also had their first math lecture, and we were very happy to find we’re not very far behind relative to the other students. We’ll see how the math over here transfers back to Webb when we get back in March, though.

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Wednesday and Thursday were allotted for building our boats, so there’s not much to say other than we cut foam and wood and glued it together with hot glue. Taylor’s group was basically run by Taylor. He directed everyone on what to do and designed the boat mainly. I was in charge of calculations for my group, so after helping them come up with basic design, I calculated the center of gravity, buoyancy, and operating speeds. Chris did the calculations for his group, as well. (Side note: We used Mathcad to do a lot of these calculations, and the professor in charge said he hadn’t seen it since the 90’s. We just found this funny since we used it daily at Webb.) On Thursday, we also had two lectures: Math and Maritime Archaeology. Chris, Taylor, and I went to the Archaeology lecture, and Gokce tried to sign up for German (ended up not working out and he’s joining us next week). Our first impression was that we know nothing of this and that we need to read a lot in order to be able to write our first assessment, which is due next month. The professor reassured us that we would be able to handle the work and that they would help us since we were not humanities students.

Friday was the big day: the day we got to test our boats. We were to complete a course with and without the weights as quickly as possible. This was done inside their new towing tank, which is significantly bigger than the Webb tank. For those of you who have seen the Naval Academy tank, it’s about that size. The races took a little over an hour and there were only a few “broken” boats. One boat couldn’t get water flow to the propeller/rudder and couldn’t steer so they rode the wall all the way down. Gokce’s boat (on its first attempt) wasn’t heavy enough and the propeller was only partly in the water causing it to spin uncontrollably. I’ve attached a picture of Gokce’s reaction. Luckily, they were allowed to add a bit of ballast and then their boat worked fine and finished second overall. My boat finished the course in the fastest time by about six seconds, so I was very happy with our performance. Unfortunately, no boat sunk. After the races, we gave sales presentations trying to sell our boats to the faculty. We could really tell the difference Webb has made on our presentation style. Most people read off a script, but the Webb crew spoke fairly well without looking at the powerpoint. The judges came to the conclusion that Gokce’s group won the competition as they were the most innovative in their design while still maintaining one of the top speeds.

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Gokce’s reaction to his boat spinning uncontrollably.
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Gokce’s teardrop design.
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My boat generating the largest bow wave of the competition.
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Better view of my boat in action

After the prize was handed out, we thanked Dr. Payne (one of the judges and designer of the QM2) for helping us arrange our crossing on the boat. Then we had the annual “Shippie Boat Trip.” The entire Ship Science department (students and faculty) all board a small little boat for a party. While on the boat, we got to talk to Dr. Weymouth, a Webb graduate, and Dr. Hudson, the man in charge of the Webb exchange program. We mainly talked about the shipping industry in Southampton and job/school opportunities following Webb. Dr. Weymouth is actually coming to Webb in November to try and get people to do their Ph.D. at Southampton. Unfortunately, while we talking to the faculty, we missed the party games going on downstairs, but oh well… We also got to talk to Matt and Gilberto, the Webb exchange students last year. Chris and I can’t get over how weird it is seeing “GB” without a limp (he tore his ACL early last semester). We also got to meet two of the three exchange students for next semester: Archimede and Alex. Both seemed very excited to be going to the US. Alex invited us to go on a pub crawl afterwards with some other third years, so we went along with it.

Over the weekend, Chris and Taylor had a kiteboarding social. They didn’t get to go on the water but got to meet people. I went to jiu jitsu. On Sunday, Chris had a craving for biscuits and I decided I wanted some too, so we went to Sainsbury’s and bought the ingredients to make some. It was my first time making biscuits from scratch (I usually get the ones in the tube), but they turned out really well. Our homemade sausage gravy was also phenomenal. So yeah, first real dinner we actually made that wasn’t eggs/pasta. We also shared some leftover biscuits with our friends, who had never had a Southern biscuit. They all said they really liked them and asked us to make more.

biscuits

This Monday, we only had two lectures, one on Materials and a seminar for Archaeology. The Materials course seems to be Statics, so we’re pretty familiar with the concepts and are all waiting to get past trusses and beams so we can learn new things. Archaeology was interesting. The professor had us talk about similarities between terrestrial and maritime archaeology. One catch: we don’t know anything about terrestrial so we were just lost. We should be better once we get to more technical discussions.

Tuesday was just a few other lectures. We learned basics of Python coding, which shouldn’t be too bad. We also had Math and Statics. Nothing too exciting. We all did download Solidworks and Python so that we could work on design from home rather than only learning during the lab sessions. We also went to the information meeting for the Human-Powered Submarine project. We signed up for either hull design or propulsion, so we will get to practice design in AutoCAD/Solidworks and learn about submarine hull shape and propeller design. Chris, Taylor, and I all think it’ll be a great way to meet people, and they were very happy to have some Ship Science students.

Wednesday is our favorite day. We only have one lecture at 11:00 and then we’re done. We used that day to research for our Archaeology paper and to sort some details out with our meal plan and paying for housing. We also went to a math help session since we missed the class on Friday. We thought we had it sorted out, but couldn’t figure out why the results didn’t make sense. Long story short, zero times anything is zero. Yeah. We felt dumb.

Today, we had our Design lecture, which worked with teaching us design parameters and how design revolves around them. We also learned how to interpret 2D drawings as 3D objects using Lego blocks. Well, we all knew this, but it was nice to get to play with Lego blocks for a bit. It’s probably good that they showed how to interpret those views, as a lot of people around us were struggling.

Plans for this weekend are sort of scattered. Chris and Taylor are going to the Isle of Wight with the Kiteboarding Society to, well, kiteboard. Gokce is going to visit a friend in London for her birthday. I’m going to work on Thermo and CAD on Saturday and then there’s a social for the Human-Powered Submarine project. I’m saving my travel money for next weekend, when I’m going to head up to Leeds to meet a friend from high school.

That’s all for this post. Stay tuned for the next one, which may come next Sunday night.

-Will

And so it begins…

Fresher’s Week

I’m going to start off this post by posting a few leftover pictures from London and the QM2.

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Since the last blog post, a lot has happened. Namely, we went to the Southampton Boat Show and attended Fresher’s Week. The boat show was held downtown near where we disembarked the QM2. We toured a bunch of catamarans (Taylor really likes them) and spoke to a few engineers about the engines and design.

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Gokce wasn’t in the picture because he was in London visiting friends.

This past week, we got to experience our second freshman orientation, and I’ve got to say it’s been very different from the one at Webb.

On Sunday, all the other students moved in so we got to socialize a bit after being isolated for a week. There was a welcome barbecue organized by the JCR, a student-run organization; however, there definition of barbecue is sort of depressing in comparison to US standards. They cooked all of their food on small plates with coals underneath, and we were a bit disappointed because we were expecting a more American experience. After the BBQ, our entire hall went to Jester’s, a local nightclub that was voted the worst in the United Kingdom. While it certainly was run down, we still managed to have a good time. We mainly hung out with people from Gokce and I’s hall. Chris and Taylor’s hall mates haven’t been very social.

On Monday, we toured the campus a bit and then later went to the Welcome Party at the Student Union nightclub, The Cube. This was a step up from Jester’s, and we all had a good time as it was strictly students.

Just in case you were thinking something along the lines of “Wow. So many clubs!”, just wait. On Tuesday, we had the next JCR party, the Bloc Party. This consisted of a “club crawl” of ten of the big clubs downtown. Once again, we hung out mainly with people from our hall; however, we also invited Alex Donlan, a former classmate of the current Webb seniors. We gave him an extra wristband that a friend had given us before we left so he accompanied us throughout the night. The clubs ranged from the classy Penthouse to the Buddha Lounge, which had too many people and poor ventilation. Nevertheless, it was a very enjoyable experience, and I would recommend that future Webbies take part in it.

Wednesday was the day of the “Bunfight,” where all the societies of Southampton try and recruit new members. The Bunfight took over all of the Highfield campus and was split based on the nature of the society. I took an interest in the Jiu Jitsu club, Computer Games society, and Filipino society. Taylor was very enthusiastic about the kiteboarding club. Chris is looking into running and possibly lacrosse. Gokce seemed interested in some dance and the photography societies. However, all four of us were interested in the human-powered submarine group and the skydiving club. So maybe we will go jump out of plane. Can’t do that at Webb. This is unrelated, but here’s a picture of our dorms since we’re in Wolfe House and not Aubrey like past years.

room

On Thursday, we had our introduction to the Ship Science faculty. We met all the head people and were introduced to our tutors and given a rudimentary schedule for next week. We also received a tour of the Boldrewood Campus, which is where the Ship Science program is located. The campus is much newer than the main campus, and all the buildings look very…corporate relative to the run down buildings in other campuses. I’ll attach a picture of the campus on next week’s post. Not much else of interest happened, but we did start our Thermodynamics class. For those of you who don’t know, we are doing Thermodynamics over the web with Professor Wiggins back at Webb.

Today was probably the busiest day of our week. We woke up early and went to register for classes with other exchange students. We had to inquire about how to choose our elective, which ended up being a hassle. We then went to the Freshers’ Fayre, where all the local businesses give student free things. I got a flash drive, food, a bunch of coupons, and a poster-sized picture of us Webbies that will be returning with us to be displayed in the States. Sadly, we couldn’t stay and explore more because Chris, Taylor, and I had made arrangements to meet Matt Thompson, a Southampton student who was at Webb last semester, for lunch. Gokce had a train to catch to sightsee and visit friends in Oxford. Anyway, Matt told us about his summer and gave us some tips for surviving the student life in Southampton. We will hopefully be seeing more of him throughout the semester. After lunch, we met with Professor Hudson in the Ship Science department who was interested in how we were settling down. We also briefly met a Webb alumni, Dr. Weymouth. After leaving Boldrewood, we hung out until dinner and then briefly skyped Prof. Wiggins about Thermo. Then, we had a hall movie night. Somehow, Taylor had never seen Shaun of the Dead, but we fixed that. 

Before I conclude this post, a quick note on the catered food, which started on Monday. Breakfast is odd in that they are very selective about what you can and cannot have. For instance, if you get home fries you might not be able to get fruit or vice versa. I mean it’s “free” food so we will eat it, but it’s very different from Webb, where you eat as much as you want of whatever you want. Same goes for dinner, though the portions for dinner tend to be much larger. We still cook lunch or grab a bite from local cafes. I believe that is all that has happened this week. Stay tuned for more updates.

-Will

Fresher’s Week

We’ve Arrived

Since we’ve finally got settled in our dorm rooms at Southampton, I decided it was time to create the blog to record our travels this semester.

First, we arrived in New York individually and spent a day or two at Webb, where we got to meet the freshmen and catch up with classmates before we left. Later that week, we boarded the Queen Mary 2 (QM2) on 4 September from New York and took a seven day cruise across the pond. On the boat, we mainly attended lectures and ate (a lot). Lecture topics included Policing and Criminology, Aviation, Art History, and a series about the Magna Carta. Of these four, our favorite topic was Policing and Criminology presented by Simon Dinsdale, a former detective. His lectures discussed how the UK police catch murders, and he gave in depth details about several cases he worked on. In fact, one lecture was entirely about the Ipswich murders.

QM2

The food on the ship was very good, and we ate in the luxurious Britannia restaurant every night. We ate dinner with a couple from Watford and a travelling writer. The couple’s son had graduated from the University of Southampton recently, and all three adults helped us by suggesting things to do and places to visit while we were in Southampton. Without a doubt, we were spoiled by the food on the QM2, and our first homemade dinner was a bit of a let down. More on that later.

Besides lectures, we also attended nightly shows in the theater and met many other people. The nightly shows included Cunard’s singers and dancers, who put on little musicals, magicians, and comedians. There was also a group called Il Destino, who sang crossovers of contemporary and opera music. This crossing’s headline event was a concert by Crosby, Stills, and Nash. I had never heard of them by name, but I did recognize a few of the songs. Around halfway through the week, we went to the Captain’s meet and greet and met the Staff Chief Engineer. He later invited us down below decks, where he gave us a short Q&A session. He had initially planned to show us the engine control room; however, there were ongoing tests that prevented this from happening. The closest we got to seeing the inner machinery was some bearings and connecting rods that were in the hallway.

We arrived in Southampton on 11 September. We caught a cab from the terminal and went to the student services center, who told us we could not move in until the 18th. Taylor and I decided we would take the extra luggage to a self-storage facility so that we didn’t have to carry around so many bags. Meanwhile, Chris was able to talk to the International office, and they agreed to let us move in on Monday rather than Friday. With that, we walked to the Southampton Central train station and caught a train into London. We stayed in a hostel and spent the weekend sight seeing. We decided against paying for very expensive metro tickets and walked everywhere.

The first day, we woke up at the crack of dawn and trekked to the Tower of London. We spent about three hours there absorbing the history and getting to view the Crown Jewels. After the Tower, we ate a quick lunch from a roadside cart and went to the Tower Bridge. We went up the tower and walked on their glass walkways and also got to tour the engine room, which explained how the bridge was lifted. As part of a package deal with the Tower Bridge tickets, we got to go up the Monument to the Great Fire of London as well. After the monument, we visited St. Paul’s cathedral (which I won’t post pictures of because Taylor’s are much better) and the Museum of London.

tower tower bridge

The second day in London, we walked along the Thames and saw the London Eye, Big Ben, Parliament, and Westminster Abbey. Chris really wanted to visit the Churchill War Rooms, which were the base of operations for Britain during the WW2, so we went. The War Rooms showed just how little technology was used to run the war behind the scenes and also gave a glimpse into the life of Churchill. Overall, I thought the museum was very well put together and eye opening. We then walked to Trafalgar Square, which was crowded with tents for the Tour of Britain cycling event, and Buckingham Palace. Afterwards, we visited Oxford Street, Piccadilly Circus, and the British Museum. We didn’t want to spend too much time in the Museum because it would easily devour the entire day, so we went to the Assyrian exhibit and saw the Rosetta Stone. It’s much smaller than I thought it was. We then walked back towards our hostel and got to see a couple laps of the Tour of Britain. After spending a half hour or so watching the bikers, we continued on and went to the Imperial War Museum. This was probably the most interesting museum we visited, and we plan to return to London to see this museum in its entirety. For reference, we spent an hour in the museum and only got through half of one exhibit.

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The next day, Monday, we came back and moved into our dorms. We are in Wolfe House, so we have huge rooms, even by Webb standards. We also get personal showers and bathrooms, so I honestly can’t complain. We went to IKEA and got sheets and kitchen supplies. I took the supplies back to the dorms, while Taylor and Chris went and got the luggage from storage. Later that day, Gokce arrived, and, after he got settled, we went to The Crown Inn, a pub nearby for dinner. On Tuesday, we went to the grocery store and bought food, soap, and air fresheners. We found out after the fact that these air fresheners were designed to freshen an entire house so the smell seeps through the doors and now our entire hall smells (in a good way). Lunches are mainly sandwiches, while for dinner we’ve had pasta and tortilla pizzas. We met a few people who moved into the adjacent dorms, and more people are supposed to be arriving today and tomorrow.

We will try to give weekly or bi-weekly updates here. However, when classes start, I doubt it will be super exciting blog posts. Stay tuned.

-Will

We’ve Arrived