NY’s Lifestyle Impresses Mendoza ’13

Raynor Mendoza ‘13 -  It is hard to imagine that my time in New York City is over, but like anything else — all good things must come to an end. However, looking back at a week full of adventures is in some ways blissful and relaxing, I have mixed feelings about leaving, in some ways I wish that I could stay here forever, living as New Yorkers do — constantly trying to find their own way amidst millions of people trying to accomplish the very same thing. On the other hand, I surely miss the rural countryside of Indiana — the simplicity of the area, my friends and my wonderful girlfriend. All of this is waiting for me when I get home.

In recalling my experience being in the city that never sleeps (as it so aptly named) a few choice memories come to mind. Oddly enough my favorite experience of all happened to be yesterday. It was the first time that we (as a group) were allowed to create our own journey and most importantly find our own way through the city. For me it was a very liberating experience and one I would not trade for the world. Traveling on my own in a foreign city or country is how you really experience what it is like to live in that respective area (In my honest opinion). It was definitely a nice change from hiking all around the city with out the option to stop at places that interest you, and it allowed for each person to experience something different and compelling.

Me being the watch enthusiast that I am (and someone who plans on becoming a watchmaker after Wabash), I found myself navigating through the blowing snow, to find famous watch stores and boutiques that I have only dreamed about setting foot in. The first was Central Watch, a famous New York staple for all things horology — from repair work and restoration to buying and selling. It has been in operation for over 5 decades and is still doing well today. Oddly enough the store is tucked away in the back corner of Grand Central Station, and if you don’t know its there you are likely to miss it. I spent time talking with the staff and making connections for later on in my life. The people at Central Watch were exceedingly professional and very pleasant.

From there I navigated my way to 5th Avenue (the shopping hub of NYC) to tour some other watch boutiques. I found myself at Rolex’s new 5th Avenue Boutique that is absolutely breathtaking in its own right, and at WEMPE another very impressive store. Both of these stores were filled to the brim with expensive luxury watches and decades worth of skill and knowledge. I spoke to the watchmakers at both stores and was exceedingly pleased knowing they thought my career choice was headed in the right direction.

New York has been great, and it is very sad to see it slip behind the horizon as flight 4309, leaves JFK airport. It has been a fun filled week, and full of new cultural experiences, but it is now time to head home and begin the next school week.

McCloskey ’14: ‘An Amazing Theatrical Experience’

Chris McCloskey ‘14 – Well it has been decided. I will never be coming back to Indiana (especially Crawfordsville). Of course, I’m contractually bound to come back (and sitting in the airport to do so), but if I had the option I would be very happy to stay because New York is the place for me. This has been a week of amazing theatre and amazing theatrical workshops that concluded with one of the most jaw-dropping, mind-numbing shows a person could ever see. To say you “see” the show is hardly fair though.

Sleep No More  (the final round of theatre for THE 303) is this absolutely amazing theatrical experience that has the capability to change your life in so many ways. For me, it has led me into another direction that I could take my theatrical career. Sleep No More is an erotic, psychopathic, oddly alluring retelling of Shakespeare’s Hamlet put on by a British theatre company called PUNCHDRUNK.  The, perhaps, strangest thing about the experience is that you don’t just sit and watch the story unfold. Instead, you are thrown into a random chunk of the story and left to wander the whole entire hotel (the famous McKittrick Hotel from Hitchcock’s Vertigo).

You can either explore the 100,000 sq. ft. of the hotel (rifling through drawers, opening random books, etc.) or you can follow the character as they tell you the story (without a single spoken word). This type of theatre developed by PUNCHDRUNK is a new thing called “immersive theatre” and it invites the audience to become a voyeur who explores every facet of the entrancing story. Going into the show we were warned not to talk, to be bold, and expect the unexpected. Reviewers claim you can have a range of experience from erotic to terrifying and I can definitely say that is true (erotic for me *fist bumps*).

This show was the best way to end an amazing experience in NYC. I am completely thankful to have been afforded the chance to explore New York and (surprisingly) look forward to writing a paper on Sleep No More.  And so I say au revoir, until next time friends.

Habitat Exploration Highlight for Hauser ’15

Wes Hauser ’15 -  Looking back on nearly half a week spent in tropical paradise, I have to say that my expectations have been met and exceeded. Going into the trip, I saw this congruent to that of a Pokémon adventure (for those of you geeky and/or old enough to get the reference). Basically, our days have consisted of snorkeling through the islands’ various habitats with the goal of finding and capturing (on film) as many “Pokémon” as possible.

Today we visited the intertidal zone in the morning and the mangrove habitat in the afternoon. While I had seen intertidal zones during some time spent in California, mangrove islands were totally new to me. For those of you who don’t know, mangroves are large trees and shrubs that are highly resistant to sea water and its high salinity. And naturally, as a budding botanist, visiting this habitat was one of the highlights of my snorkeling adventures. I saw several upside down jellies and sea stars on the sandy floor of the area. In between the mangrove roots, I spotted beautiful feather duster worms, hermit crabs, young schools of fish, and a host of what are called “flat tree oysters.” These guys spend their time attached to mangrove roots, filter feeding the sediment that passes through the sea. For a small research project, I determined the distribution of flat tree oysters and found that roughly one in five mangrove roots had these little guys plastered along their sides. Their widespread distribution is amazing!

So, all in all, this trip has been super busy exploring a wide range of habitats and seeing a variety of different organisms, but we’ve also had ample opportunity to enjoy ourselves along the way. My only regret will be returning to snow-covered Crawfordsville at the end of this week!

Song ’15 Absorbs Belize Warm Climate

Jingwei Song ’15 – It’s our first day on South Water Caye. The morning sun shines through the window and wind from the sea blows across the room: waking up on an island was just wonderful. Our dorm, the classroom and the dining hall are all connected. You would too feel reluctant to wear shoes.

After breakfast, Dr. Wetzel gave us a quick lecture over Turtle grass and coral reef ecosystem. It helped us to have a search image of the organisms where we were snorkeling. In the morning, we snorkeled at the south end of the island. The water was about 6ft deep and you could see the bottom quite easily just floating on the surface. The most exciting animal I saw was a stingy ray, well camouflaged in the turtle grass. Unfortunately when I called out to the other guys to see it, we lost it.

In the afternoon we took a boat ride out to a fore reef. Water was about 15ft deep and the currents were much stronger. Underwater was a completely different ecosystem. We saw staghorn corals as large as adult humans. Huge sea fans, brain corals and so on. We wouldn’t have appreciated the size of these Cnidarians until we have seen them.

Happy birthday to Weston. Our hospitable cook prepared candles and cakes and we all sang a birthday song to him at supper.

Mount ’15 Embraces NY Theater Experience

Joe Mount ’15 – Neither rain nor snow can stop New York City from being an amazing place. Each day this week something new pops up in the city, reminding me once again why I aspire to live here one day. Despite the stereotypes, the people here are incredibly friendly, and there’s an energy that’s palpable on every street corner. I don’t say it often, but I’m definitely in love – if you can be in love with a city.

We returned to the New Ohio Theatre today for another workshop, this one focusing on breathing. After some intense physical and breathing exercises we each started working on the 10 lines of Shakespeare we had each prepared. The people we were working with really knew what they were talking about, and the exercises we did immediately started us thinking about performing (and breathing) in brand new ways. It was great that in two and a half hours we were given a myriad of new techniques and ideas to explore on our own.

Afterwards we roamed Central Park for a while, visiting the Delacorte Theater, the Belvedere Castle, and the Bethesda angel. The miserable weather wasn’t enough to stop our merry troop from traipsing the Rabble and back into the city for the best meal of my life at Gallagher’s.  All of us on this trip definitely owe Mr. Bill Wheeler huge thanks for the amazing experience we all had. The steaks, the mushrooms, the cheesecake, everything! I can’t remember ever being that full and content.

Then we made our way down a few blocks to see The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The play was never actually finished, because Charles Dickens died after only writing about half of it. The great thing about this show was that the audience chooses the ending of the play, so there are a dozen possible endings. And seeing Chita Rivera on stage wasn’t half bad either.

Once again, we owe another huge thanks to Jessica Phillips for getting us backstage after the show! That makes two Broadway shows we’ve been allowed to go backstage for, which is incredibly rare. I still can’t get over how lucky we’ve been to go on this trip and experience the things we’ve gone through, and we’re not even done yet! Tomorrow will be our last day, but I suspect it’ll be one of the highlights of the trip.

So basically, this trip is amazing. We’ve seen some of the best theatre out there, received insightful advice from professionals, walked the streets of one of the liveliest cities in the world, and have gained a new appreciation for what’s out there. I hate that it’s coming to an end, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. If all goes well, I’ll be living here soon and I won’t have to give that stuff up.

Yang ’15 Enjoyed Learning Barristers’ Role

Hongli Yang ’15 – The British legal system truly is an interesting one. After visiting the Inns of Court, we went to visit the Littleton Chambers and the British Library. In the UK, Barristers and solicitors, two important parts of the legal profession, practice in very different ways. I believe my peers have demonstrated enough on the differences between a solicitor and a barrister in previous blogs. But it was really invaluable experience to go to a real chamber and talk to a great barrister.

Littleton is a leading set of barrister’s chamber, which practices on very broad legal areas, such as commercial, employment, injunctions, disciplinary and regulatory, sports, mediation and arbitration. In fact, Littleton is so great at those areas that members of the chamber appear against each other. Chris, a successful junior employment barrister, and Jason, one of the clerks in Littleton, shared with us their own experiences. Pupillage, a process to become a barrister in the UK, is a training contract. It includes a six-month shadowing, and another six-month practical legal services. Chris took his pupillage with some other barrister’s chamber before joining Littleton, and has enjoyed a great legal career so far. He told us that barristers, in addition to the privilege of appearing on court, are also experts in specific areas, and can help drafting the litigation. Therefore, instead of only doing arguments in courtrooms, barristers do participate a lot in the client’s cases. Due to the independent nature of barristers (barristers in the UK must work as independent , it is hard for women to pursue a career as barristers, and Oxbridge graduates dominate the barrister occupation.

On the other hand, Jason, a clerk working in Littleton, showed us the interesting relationships between clerks and barristers in a chamber. Clerks advise clients (mostly solicitors) to get an experienced and affordable barrister. Barristers specialize in different areas and some may not be available to take a new case by the time a client requests services. Therefore, clerks can decide a barrister’s “business”. But also, clerks are paid through a fund that draws a percentage of the barristers’ salaries, and some clerks are even some barristers’ personal assistants. Thus, the relationship between a clerk and a barrister is a bit complicated. The interaction between clerks and barristers resembles a financial “symbiosis”, I guess.

Leaving from Littleton, we then moved on to the British Library. The British Library is the national research library in the UK. It is also a legal deposit library, meaning that this library automatically receives of a copy of publications in the UK and Ireland (through some government agreement). The British library houses 14 million books, and some manuscripts that date back to 2000 B.C. Originally part of the British Museum, the library was separated in 1973, and moved to a new building in 1997. The current British Library is the largest public building in the UK constructed in the last century. Among the notable collections are the Diamond Sutra, the earliest dated printed book, in 868 A.D. in Tang Dynasty; several early manuscripts of the Bible in kione Greek; The Lindifarne Gospels; and Leonardo da Vinci’s notebook.

But in regard to the purpose of this trip to London, the British Library is a must-go because it houses the Magna Carta. Actually the Library devoted a single purple room for Magna Carta to demonstrate its significance in the history of the UK. Magna Carta is “The Grand Charter” in Latin, and was first created in 1215. Magna Carta was later revised due to the constant changing political background. Although Magna Carta failed to work as a “constitution” then, the concept that the King is also under the supervision of the law is historically crucial. Laws could limit the King’s power. Magna Carta established the mindset of the supremacy of law that later give rise to important legal documents, such as Habeas Corpus, and the Bill of Rights. No wonder, Magna Carta was the first important legal documents we encountered in our class.

From what I have observed and learned in the past few days, the common law system in the UK is constantly improving and very interesting. The UK legal system might be a lot different from the U.S. system. But the underlying principles are similar. History is not an endpoint. It can also be a roadmap to the future. I am extremely thankful for such opportunity to come to London and experience the history and development of the common law myself.

British Library Impresses Mahone ’15

Zach Mahone ’15 – The British Library was one of the newer buildings that we visited on our tour of London, however its roots are dated back to 1760. The British Library is actually a collection of older libraries that were assembled and finally opened in 1998. The Libraries that make up the British Library are the library department of the British Museum, the National Central Library, the National Lending Library for Science and Technology, and a few others. The idea for a central library started to form after WWII when shelving was severely limited due to the destruction of the Blitz. The British government recognized a need for more shelving but it wasn’t until 1971 that the process of creating the British Library began. In 1972 the British Library Act was passed but due to complications with a building site completion of the library was pushed back to 1998.

The British Library contains 14 million books and 150 million items stretched out over 180 miles of shelving. As our class entered the library our group of 20 was completely dwarfed by the massive library. Needless to say we did not see all of the library and we instead decided to spend most of our time in just one section. The section that we decided to visit was the more “classical” section of the library. This section was especially relevant to our Common Law class because it housed the Magna Carta. While the Magna Carta section was amazing, I was most affected by things like the first English copy of the bible and edited copies of sheet music by composers like Bach. It was interesting to see all the scribbles and cross outs of Bach’s original sheet music and the color and gilding on the early bibles were great. With all these great books on display it was a bit of disappointment that I couldn’t touch the pages and read through them, but for many of these books and articles human contact would be destructive.

The British Library was a great stop on our tour across London and if you are ever in the area I highly recommend stopping in. You could see anything from the first copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland all the way to the Magna Carta.

Neal ’15 Presents Paper at Roycal Courts

Adam Neal ’15 – Based on our mixed luck with presentations so far, Likai and I still weren’t sure about how our presentation would turn out, even as we passed through security into the Royal Courts of Justice.  We had done as much research as we could about the building itself, its organization and function, but we couldn’t shake the nagging feeling that we would be silenced abruptly like Patrick and Michael were at the Tower of London.

There are few buildings that can truly be called majestic, but the Royal Courts of Justice have more than earned the description.  As soon as you enter the building, it opens up into a great hall, whose floor is littered with mosaic designs, with large columned walls that extend almost twenty meters up, interrupted only by elevated stain-glass windows decorated with many colorful coat-of-arms.  Combined with its high pointed arches and sweeping flying buttresses, the RCJ is a textbook example of a Neo-Gothic style cathedral, an apt comparison given that the architect who was commissioned to build it, Sir George Edmund Street, thought he was designing one at the time.  Buildings like the RCJ are one the best things about London: humility that comes with being in the presence of such famous and venerable institutions, ones which seem to defy the effects of time and history.

The building was opened in 1882 by Queen Victoria, who believed that the different courts across the nation needed to be consolidated into one location (to an extent).  This integration was an important step in the continuation of the merging between common law and equity in England, an important theme to which we have often returned during both class and this trip.  The common law courts merged into the High Court in 1875, while the Chancery/equity courts merged in 1875.

After meeting our tour guide, he took us into court room 7, one of the original and oldest courtrooms in the building.  Even though some of us had already been inside in order to listen to cases, it was still worth noting how small these courtrooms were in comparison to what we’re used to seeing in the States.

After discovering that we had done some research on the RCJ already, our tour guide very graciously allowed me and Likai to present some of our findings on the building, from the desk of the court clerk and stenographer no less.  Despite being neither of those, we managed to surprise the tour guide, accidentally jumping ahead of his planned remarks on several occasions.

The most distinguishing feature of the RCJ as an institution must be its distinct division of labor.  Of the main divisions, first is Chancery, which handles business, trade, and industry disputes.  Second is Queen’s Bench handling large commercial disputes and civil wrongs, and finally Family with divorce, custody, etc.  There is also the Administrative Court, which handles judicial review.  You won’t see any criminal cases being handled at the RCJ unless an already convicted criminal is appealing a decision.  It was also interesting to learn that there are no jury trials at the RCJ, with however the exception of libel and slander cases.

Learning and (more importantly) seeing practically every detail, from who sits where in the courtroom and different official garb to the little quirks in the building’s construction really made the Royal Courts of Justice come alive as a living, working legal organism.  Seeing barristers in action also greatly expounded upon the talks we had earlier in the week, and really placed what we learned in a modern, practice-instead-of-preach light.

Poe ’13: London a Place ‘I Never Want to Leave’

Trevor Poe ’13 – Returning to London for the first time since studying abroad brings back great memories.  However, I did not come to London to relive the past, I came to learn about it.  Today we visited the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey to tour some of the places we learned about in our course over the history of Anglo-American Common Law.  At the palace, commonly referred to as the Houses of Parliament, our group enjoyed a private tour of the building.  On our tour, we saw the House of Commons, House of Lords, and the Queen’s robbing room.

The Neo-Gothic architecture and decoration of the building impressed me with its grandeur.  Westminster Hall, a particular part of the palace, held important significance for the course.  The hall once served as the location for the Court of Chancery, Court of Common Pleas, and the King’s Bench until they got their own buildings on Fleet Street, which we visited earlier in the week.  Seeing such a historically important building helped make important connections about the evolution of Anglo-American law, and its origins in England.

After the conclusion of the tour, our class walked across the street to enjoy the sights of Westminster Abbey.  The Abbey contains the graves of many of Britain’s most important figures, and serves as the site for the coronation of British monarchs.  Following sightseeing in the Abbey, I traveled with two of fraternity brothers to watch a soccer (football) match.  While studying abroad during my junior year, I became an adamant supporter of the Queens Park Rangers football club.  I simply could not pass up the chance to watch a match while visiting London.  Seeing my club win a much-needed victory allowed me to end my trip to London on a high note.  L

London is a place that I never want to leave, but traveling with my class allowed me to make the most of this learning opportunity.

Dettmer ’16 Appeciating Westminister

Andrew Dettmer ’15 – Well, the last day has finally arrived.  With our final day in London we spent our time at Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey.  Most people have heard of Westminster Abbey because it was the venue of Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. At the beginning of the trip our tour guide mentioned America’s fascination with the British Monarchy; and from the amount of Americans at the Abbey that was clearly evident.

The Abbey itself was an amazing artistic master piece and was filled with many of the names that we have spent our semester reading about, and showed the power of the monarchy that at one time ruled this country single handedly. However across the street is Westminster Palace, the original palace of the monarchy it now houses the British Parliament. It was very impressive and informative to see how the traditions of this country play out in their governance. They still vote by counting you as present in either the “aye” or “nay” rooms, which while mildly old fashioned is a system they like. The building itself was very impressive. As I said earlier, it used to be a palace for the monarchy until Henry VIII moved down the street to Whitehall, guess he needed more room for all of his wives.  This building has been here since around the 11th century, and much of the historic part of the building still stands.

During World War II Winston Churchill chose to “let the Commons burn,” his own wing of government, in order to save this treasured national icon. Both of these experiences allowed us to see where the battle over governance happened. In fact until 2009 the House of Lords served as the highest court in England until they created a Supreme Court that looks much like ours.

After our time at Westminster we were free to spend our last afternoon in London as we wished.  Two of my fraternity brothers and I headed off Loftus Road to watch the Queens Park Rangers F.C. take on Sunderland in an exciting Premier League match.  It’s a shame that soccer hasn’t caught on in the U.S. because the match made for quite an exciting afternoon.  QPR pulled out a 3-1 victory in a game that may help them avoid relegation to a lower league. Trevor Poe is a huge fan and sharing the experience and excitement with him was a great experience and introduced to a great side of English culture. Seriously, everyone should go to a good soccer, or football as they say, match and see some of the most passionate and die hard sports fans around.  It made for a great ending to an already awesome week.

As I finish this post, I’m also finishing packing as we’ll be leaving London in just a few hours.  This week has been amazing and I’ve definitely fallen in love with London.  The trip not only allowed us to see and experience what we had studied in the classroom, but I made some great new friends, strengthened old friendships, and has me extremely excited to return to the U.K next fall for study abroad.  While I’m exhausted from everything we’ve managed to cram in our schedule in the past 9 days and I’ll be grateful to return home, I’ll be sad to leave London and these experiences behind.