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News Update: Day 68 of the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay

Weighing 800-850g, the Torch, is perforated with 8,000 holes to represent each torchbearer participating in the relay.

With two days until the Opening Ceremony, the Olympic Torch Relay continues to bring countries together and inspire millions of people around the world. It’s a tradition dating back to the ancient Olympic Games in Greece.

BBC reported on the traditional ceremony, which is held at the ruins of ancient Greece. The Flame is lit using a mirror and the sun’s rays. The Flame travels around Greece before being handed off to the Host City for another ceremony in Panathenaiko stadium in Athens.

London, the Host Country, receives the Flame and it is transferred from one Torchbearer to another throughout the country and ends when the last Torchbearer lights the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony in the Olympic Stadium, signaling the start of the Games.

The route visits 1,000 iconic landmarks (pictures of places!) throughout the UK, such as The Eden Project, Stonehenge, Fort Rail Bridge, and Wembley Stadium, the stadium of the 1948 Olympics, Hyde Park, and ending at the Olympic Stadium on Friday, 27th July.

Today marks day 68 of the Flame’s journey in the United Kingdom. Ruper Grint, Ron Weasely from the Harry Potter series, will be carrying the Torch due to his work with children charities. The Flame traveled at 9:17am from Harrow to Haringey and will arrive at the Alexandria Palace Celebration Stage at 6:46pm.

BBC has the live update on the Torch Relay and the approximate arrival times of the Flame at each site.BBC also has a timeline and a user-friendly interactive map of the Torch Relay.

Torchbearers must be at least 14 years old and be able to carry the Torch 437 yards

Thursday, 26th July, the Flame will be arriving in Camden at 6:48am. From there, the relay will continue to Islington, City, Southwark, Lambeth, Wandsworth, Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, go back to Kensington & Chelsea, then is finishing at Westminster for the day.

The public will be able to view the Flame at various sites throughout London, such as St. Paul’s Cathedral (8:58am) and Trafalgar Square (5:40pm). Thursday’s route will end at Hyde Park with a Westminster evening celebration hosted by Coca-Cola. Performing at the Olympic Finale will be The Wanted, You Me at Six, Katy B, and more from 2:00pm to 10:30pm. Tickets are £15 plus a transaction fee.

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Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Assignment, Group Blog, London

 

Opinion: Behind Foreign Lines

As the former U.S. president Thomas Jefferson said, “A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” I certainly learned a life lesson or two while in Paris for a weekend.

Learn airport phrases (i.e., “sortie” = exit)

First off, prepare for the language barrier. A few students in our study abroad program, who are in the first and second sessions, said the French will treat you differently if you don’t try to speak the language. Avoid pulling my move and learning phrases the night before. Write down a couple phrases and learn them at least within the week you will be arriving in Paris. I found it very helpful to at least know some phrases because the French residents I encountered were friendly – or they laughed at my poor pronunciation. Fodor’s has a great list of phrases for travelers for greeting, dining out, or shopping with audio.

Most French residents know a little English

I strongly believe the language barrier was the most frustrating but challenging part of the trip. I’ve never been in a country where English was the second language. If I traveled to Spain, that would’ve been a different story; at least I would get by with Spanish.

Paris was also enlightening. The United States is a very diverse country comprised of many individuals whose first language is a non-English language. According to the 2007 U.S. Census Report, the number has been increasing for non-English languages in the past three decades. Many people are coming in speaking in their native tongue at home more than English.

I now empathize with foreigners immigrating to the U.S. because I was on the other side – lost, frustrated, paranoid and confused. English must look like rubbish to them as French did to me. I do hear a lot of my Navajo language at home and on my reservation but hearing French each second was overwhelming.

Visit the attractions at night

Don’t let the language difficulty hold you back from exploring Paris. Walking the 674 steps to the second floor of the Eiffel Tower (and taking the lift to the top), walking 3.8km from the Louvre Museum to Arc de Triomphe, climbing 402 steps to the cathedral towers, and eating delicious crepes in the Latin Quarter is worth it. You’ll see breath-taking views from the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower, and take photos of the Mona Lisa.

One last piece of advice and a lesson I learned. Watch out for pickpocketers. Being vigilant the entire time will save you a headache in the end. The Eiffel Tower website and signs displayed on the famous landmarks warned tourists to keep personal belongings close by. I already caused myself a mini heart attack when I thought my wallet was stolen at Olympic Park in London. Fortunately, I placed my wallet in the wrong pocket. Whew.

The next mini heart attack came when Oniwa, Lindsay and I were waiting for the train in Paris. I got on the train and put my backpack on my lap to find that two of the smallest pockets were open. Luckily, my tiny camcorder was tucked under my lotion and packet of tissue and wipes. After that incident I made the effort to “lock-up” my pocket with my wallet using the clip that holds my hand sanitizer. It took 30 seconds to take it off and put it back on, but it was worth the time.

Definitely go to Paris with some friends so you can all look out for one another. Traveling alone or with friends, be aware of your surroundings. And don’t leave your bag open with your wallet or money hanging out, especially at the tourist attractions (Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Champs-Élysées & Louvre) or anywhere. Traveldudes has a few more tips on how to avoid pickpockets. My friend got her wallet stolen by gypsies when she was at the Eurostar train station. Moms are always right; my mom told me to be extra alert overseas but to soak in each wonderful moment. Don’t forget to learn some basic French phrases! Bon Voyage!

View from Notre Dame Cathedral tower

 
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Video Diary: London 2012

Trying to sum up my 2.5 weeks in London.

 

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Profile: Rohan Daft

“I’ve always been interested in tailoring.”

A room full of study abroad students typed swiftly at their blog while Rohan Daft reviewed his notes for our lecture.  After David Lancaster bought the former gossip columnist, The London Evening Standard, tea from Costa Coffee the lecture was on the way.

Without looking at each computer screen, one could tell that every student had Microsoft Word open. Students banged away at the keys trying to catch a good quote from Daft, who wrote since he was 17-years-old.

The London native spoke right away about Richard James, a Savile Row tailor located on Savile Row in London.  “You’re allowed to call yourself a Savile Row tailor if you’re within 50 metres of Savile Row,” Daft said after mentioning the street of tailors spans 150 metres.

The shop is full of modern designer menswear that is customised for every gentleman who walks into the shop that may cost £4,000, whereas a Gucci designer suit may cost £400. “Men aspire to wear Savile Row suits. Savile Row suits are supposed to be the best in the world,” he said.  The well-known shop even closed for big-time customer, Elton John.

To be frank, I never heard of Savile Row tailors until Daft mentioned he produces the company’s blog and website. He spoke about the difference between a Savile Row and bespoke tailoring, which just amazed me. A lot of detail and care goes into each suit just like a doctor does when seeing a patient, Daft said.

Takes 3-4 months to
produce a 7-minute show

What inspired students most of the 3-hour class was his interest in food and living in Spain. Who would have known that traveling with a band, writing a gossip column, a Spanish food cookbook, Menu del Dia, and being a feature writer would lead to blogging about a tailor company? “I’ve always been interested in tailoring,” he said.

A few students asked if he has tried Russian cuisine and he named a few dishes that were absolutely foreign to me. One right after another the Russian students said he should try this and that. Words blew over my head and all I could record Daft saying, “I do believe in good food. I think good food is important. People do make things and they put care into it.“ Food led to living in a country, which is understandable because we are studying abroad.

Unlike London, Barcelona had good weather but he could never get used to eating at 10 or 11 o’clock in the evening even after living there for five to six years, Daft said with a laugh. “It was great going there, not knowing what they were saying. It was like being a child again. I had to read people’s faces. They were either happy, sad or angry.” We all – including myself – admired his bravery.

Friends invited him to Spain and he decided to stay. Not much on his back and no job. He started freelancing, wrote for a restaurant magazine, The Daily Telegraph, and taught a journalism class for one year at a university.

“I always wanted to live in another country for a while and sometimes you have to jump,” he explained.  “I don’t think you can’t always plan too much. I didn’t have anywhere to live or a job. I just did it.”

 
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What Do You Think of American and British Culture?

“What do you think about America and Americans?” was the original question, but it evolved toward the differences and similarities of the American and British culture. Interesting answers.

 

Media Filtering: More Than Getting A Bell Rung

“I got my bell rung” used to be a phrase that could be shaken off and the athlete goes back in for another play. Not this time. Research of concussions has been growing and the results are not good. It’s affect every aspect of the athletic world. Below are a number of articles complied focused on the media’s reaction to concussions and why it is an issue that should not be ignored.

Kickoff returns dropped by 32% in the 2011 NFL season,
which decreased the number of concussions.

  • Concussion awareness is extremely important, according to USA Football. Knowing the signs and symptoms can save an athlete’s career and life. It’s also better to know how to prevent or lessen the severity of a concussion.
  • The Center of Disease Control and Prevention have resources for youth concussions, including information for athletes and parents.
  • About 2,000 NFL players and their families are suing the league after not know about the head trauma involved with the sport as said by ABC News and BBC.
  • According to the new NFL rules, Referees’ responsibility increase in order to protect the safety of football players in the NFL. They are to pay particular attention to the receivers who are in vulnerable positions and avoid above-the-shoulder tackles. The NFL expands more about this evolving situation.
  • USA Today reported parents, including Tom Brady, say keeping kids from playing football until a later age is a good idea. The article even talks about how the practice time for youth football leagues will be cut short.
  • The New York Times gathered the statistics of the at least 50 athletes (high school and younger) who died of concussions across 20 states in the U.S.
  • Second impact syndrome is a serious injury that could happen if the brain doesn’t fully recover from the first concussion. The Huffington Post reports on the story of Preston Plevretes, a linebacker for La Salle University’s football team, who suffered from second-impact syndrome after he was covering a punt in a game.
  • With the increase of concussions in football, The New Yorker asked if the sport still has a future.
 

Review: Turn Off One Sense, Another Gets Stronger

The best decision I made while in London was touring inside Westminster Abbey on Thursday, 12th July. You thought the Abbey was gorgeous on television? Wait until you see it in person.  I remember struggling to keep my eyes open for the Royal Wedding and watching Kate and Prince William look into each other’s eyes to the song, “This Is The Day.” They added more beauty to Kate Middleton’s stunning wedding dress and made you feel like you’re in the 13th century. Attending the Evensong in a church with an overwhelming history convinced me to attend a morning service before I depart.

People interested in attending the Evensong were instructed to wait at a group of chairs after the tour and are seated in the Quire next to the Westminster Abbey Choir. Late arrivals sit closer to the altar and further from the choir. I would strongly advise to go around 2 o’clock in the afternoon because time is allotted to look around, shop, and wait until 5 o’clock for the Evensong. The church closes at 4pm and the last entry is at 3:20pm. You won’t be complaining about the hour-long wait when the organist strikes the first key.

Individuals don’t have to be associated with a religion in order to attend the Evensong. The public is always welcomed. Instructions are displayed at each chair of how the service works, when to stand and kneel, what to pray, and what songs will be sung as well as a pamphlet of choral services for the week and the Book of Psalms.  An organist started the 40-minute service followed by the entrance of the choir where everyone had to stand. The Introit (Psalm 149:1, 3a, 4a) along with the Versicles and Responses, a reading from Psalm 29, the song “Magnificat quarti toni,” and “Nunc Dimittis” in B flat. There were also a few times the public had to kneel during prayers. Cushions are available for those sitting in the Quire but not for people sitting in folding chairs.

I was so mesmerized by the Gregorian-like songs and the intricate designs in the ceilings. Queen Latifah said it best in her movie “The Last Holiday” when she gazed at the ceiling of Grandhotel Pupp and said to the hotel desk clerk, “Don’t that ceiling ever make you want to cry?”

I took a music course at Eastern Arizona College, World of Music, in 2010 and the Evensong reminded me of the Gregorian Chants thousands of years ago. It also made me appreciate how far the Gregorian chants have come because they hardly used the musical notes we use now. It was a series of dots that went up and down with Latin lyrics.

If you ever attend an Evensong, close your eyes and listen. You’d be amazed at what your ears hear if you eliminate your fifth sense. Bring some tissue you criers because the ceilings with the music will overwhelm your heart and senses. However, sleep deprivers will nod in and out during the 40-minute service.

In addition, hearing the church and country’s history made me feel closer to the church. Londoner or not, religious or not, touring the Abbey and attending a service or Evensong deserves a spot on your bucket list.

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2012 in Assignment, Group Blog, London