Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Luxurious Lifestyles :London, UK

London ,UK
September 26 - October 3, 2012

     While I've been here for about four weeks now I never realized how big a role luxury plays in society in London. More specifically, I didn't realize how luxurious the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea was until I had a chance to look around at some department stores, and even car stores. But before I get into that, I've been to some great museums in London like the Tate museum. The Tate is an institution that houses the United Kingdom's national collection of British Art, and International Modern and Contemporary Art. It is a network of four art museums: Tate Britain, London, Tate LiverpoolTate St Ives,Cornwall, and Tate Modern, London.

Tate Britain

      This is me at the Tate museum taking notes on a painting. I came here with my British Culture & Visual Media class because we have to speak about one of the paintings form the collection on our final exam. All of the museums are free because of the profits from the Great Exhibition, or the Crystal Palace Exhibition that was held in 1851, but donations are highly appreciated.

Tate Britain

     This is a picture of me, and some of my classmates who are all from Drexel at the Tate Britain. Our British Culture &Visual Media class is comprised of only Drexel students, while my other three classes are a mix of students from the United States. Unfortunately we don't take classes with British, or other international students. Even thought I think that would make the study abroad experience more exciting.

    One of the first department stores, that I see their signature bright yellow shopping bags almost everyday is Selfridges. Selfridges, actually known as Selfridges & Co, is a chain of high-end department stores in the United Kingdom. It was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge. The flagship store in London's Oxford Street is the second largest shop in the UK, after Harrods. I have only been into Selfridges once and it was very intimidating to me. There were so many things to look at, smells to take in, and I also had to take the backpack off that I was wearing and carry it with my hands so it was harder to shop lift. I've never experienced that before but it made sense. I was trying to find the men's section, if they even have one, but I was pressed for time and soon left.


     The second department store I visited was the world renowned Harrods.  Harrods is an upscale department store located on Brompton Road in Knightsbridge, which is in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus UbiqueAll Things for All People, Everywhere. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Hall, are world famous. The store has over one million square feet of selling space in over 330 departments making it the biggest department store in Europe. I visited Harrods with my marketing class to research their sales and branding techniques. Harrods has incredible visual displays as well as in store displays and carries a luxurious air that I've never felt before in any consumer experience I've had. Harrods plays on all of your senses as you traverse through the multiple floors of clothing, food, and even a salon for your pets; it truly is a remarkable store.


           One of my favorite stores that I feel really portrays London fashion is Topshop, more specifically Topman. Topshop is a British multinational retailer which specializes in men's and women's fashion clothing, shoes, make-up and accessories. It has around 440 shops across 33 countries and online operations in a number of its markets. I first discovered Topshop on a trip to New York City with my 'Survey of Fashion' class freshman year but it didn't really appeal to me then. I would describe them as an edgier more avant-garde version of the American Urban Outfitters. 

Top Shop

Lastly, as I walk home from the nearest tube stop, I can't help but notice these gorgeous sports cars that I could never afford, but their design is so distinct. I have only seen cars like these in video games, music videos of successful artists, or in movies. The chances of seeing these cars in Philadelphia are slim to none. The first type of car I see is a Maserati.  Maserati is an Italian luxury car manufacturer established in BolognaThe company's headquarters is now in Modena, and its emblem is a trident. It has been owned by the Italian car giant Fiat. These exotic cars' base value is around $150,000, and it's uncommon if I DON'T see at least five or six a day, it's incredible  

H.R. Owens-Maserati

          The second type of car I see often is my personal favorite, the Lamborghini. Automobili Lamborghini designs, engineers, manufactures and distributes Italian luxury sports cars. Lamborghini's production facility and headquarters are located in Sant'Agata Bolognese, Italy. 

London Lamborghini

         This white and green Lamborghini are on show at a store called 'London Lamborghini'. The storefront is all glass with about four or five cars on display. The store doesn't even have door handles, so I'm guessing you have to make an appointment to even think of buying one of these beasts. Their design and the sound of their engine is so unique and breathtaking you know when one is coming without even seeing it. These sports cars' base value is $250,000.  

Tours of England:London, UK

September 19-26, 2012

 After my second week of classes, I'm finally in a routine that fits my schedule. I can now make meals before, in between, and after my classes without stressing myself for time, or my fears of being late ha ha. I signed up for a sightseeing trip through the student life office here in London as well as many others of the students here to visit the ancient ruins of Stonehenge and the City of Bath to visit an old Roman bath house. We had a long day ahead of us and had reservations to each site so we had to leave early in the morning at about 7:45. Luckily for us, it was a beautiful day with the sun shining.
            Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument located in the English county of Wiltshire. It is one of the most famous sites in the world due to its mysterious figurations. Stonehenge is composed of a circular setting of large standing stones set within earthworks each weighing at least a ton. Archaeologists believe the stone monument was constructed anywhere from 3000 BC to 2000 BC.

  The North-side of Stonehenge - 10:00 am 
       This is the first picture of me next to Stonehenge. I did a project about Stonehenge in grade school; so seeing it in real life was really cool to me. We weren't allowed to get close enough to actually touch the stones but on the summer and winter equinox, visitors can book visits to go up close and touch the ancient stones. 

The South-side of Stonehenge - 10:15 am
       There were many tourist groups lined up to see Stonehenge so we had to move swiftly. This is me again at Stonehenge, but looking at a different side of it. After our group made it onto the bus we headed to the city of Bath to see an ancient Roman bathhouse.

 Roman Bath House (from above)

            The Roman baths complex is a site of historical interest in the English city of Bath. The house is a well-preserved Roman site for public bathing during vacations, or after times of war. There are four main features to see like the Sacred Spring, the Roman Temple, the Roman Bath House and the Museum from the Roman bath. Visitors can see the baths and museum but cannot enter the water. I'm curious if the water always looked like, or if it's just algae from being exposed to the sun, and not being exposed to chemical treatment. 

Roman Bath House (main floor-looking up to an old cathedral)

           The architecture in the Roman bathhouse, and the surrounding city of Bath was amazingly intricate and incorporated many cultures. From this picture you can see Roman Tuscan columns form the bath, as well as the top of a gothic inspired church, with another circular building to the left of that. Trips like these made me appreciate unique architecture, unlike cityscapes where the buildings look very geometric and structural with less cultural significance.

Actual water of the Roman Baths 
 This picture is an up close view of the bathhouse water. I dunked my hand in just to say that I did it, but there was a film of algae, or a mold looking substance that didn't look too appetizing to bathe it. However, in 1979 a girl swimming in the restored bath swallowed some of the source water, and died five days later from amoebic meningitis. Tests showed that a species of amoeba was in the water and the pool was closed, and remains closed today. 

Bath, England
This is a picture of a waterway in Bath that runs under a building, which ferrys can travel through. 

 Riverboats in Bath on the Kennet and Avon Canal

 On an hour and a half break to venture through Bath on our own, my roommate Chris and I stumbled upon these narrow canals. It was amazing to see how little room the boats had going through some of the locks, and that people actually lived on these boats! The Kennet and Avon Canal is a waterway in southern England with an overall length of 87 miles made up of two lengths of navigable river linked by a canal. From Bristol to Bath the waterway follows the natural course of the River Avon before the canal links it to the River Kennet at Newbury, and then to Reading on the River Thames. In all, the waterway incorporates more than 100 locks.

Kennet and Avon Canal overlooking terraced homes in Bath

 In the later half of the 20th century the canal was restored in stages, largely by volunteers. After decades of restoration work the canal was fully reopened in 1990. The Kennet and Avon Canal has been developed as a popular heritage tourism destination for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking, and cycling, and is also important for wildlife conservation.
Bath, England

This is a picture of the form of terrace housing used in Bath, which many of the homes are uniformly the same structure and conjoined.

         Another trip I recently went on was with my Global Marketing class to the Chelsea F.C. (soccer) stadium. I have been playing soccer since I can remember so I was ecstatic to visit the stadium, yet alone for free! Chelsea isn't my favorite team in England, but it some of my good friends so I had to take pictures to show them when I get home. Arsenal Stadium, another English football (soccer) team is where I really want to visit. 
        Chelsea Football Club is an English football club based in Fulham, London. Founded in 1905, they play in the Premier League and have spent most of their history in the top tier of English football. Their home is the 41,837-seat Stamford Bridge stadium, where they have played since their establishment.

 The Pressroom of the Chelsea Football Club Stadium

Chelsea Football Club field

My marketing class researching Chelsea F.C.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Exploring my Surroundings:London, UK

September 12-19, 2012

          After I got settled in a little and unpacked my suitcase I wanted to find a pharmacy or department store to look for some necessities. Most importantly, I needed a disposable cell phone and a SIM card to contact friends and classmates in the UK, and friends and family in the US. I also needed a towel, contact solution, an electrical adaptor, and other hygienic products. When I returned back to the flat, many of my roommates were gone either shopping for adapters, phones, or had gone to eat. I was hungry too so I went to local pub with my flat mate Zachary called the Gloucester Arms and had a great fish and chips dinner with peas, lemon, and vinegar. The next morning our group of Drexel students had an orientation tour of our immediate surroundings in the Royal Burroughs of Kensington and Chelsea. One landmark very near to where I live is Hyde Park.

Hyde Park

            Hyde Park is one of the largest parks in central London, United Kingdom, and one of the Royal Parks of London, famous for its Speakers' Corner. The park was the site of the Great Exhibition of 1851, for which the Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton. Sites of interest within the park include the Diana, Princess of Wales memorial and London's Holocaust Memorial. Another memorial in the park commemorates the victims of 7/7 terrorist attacks, in the form of 52 steel pillars, one for each of the dead. As we were walking around Hyde Park I took a picture of this monument as well as a leaf to show how the leaves were turning I guess ha ha. On Sunny days everyone comes to the park because many homes are smaller than people would like so people love to go outdoors. Secondly, there are not many gorgeous sunny days like I've been experiencing. Walking through the streets on our tour I came  across some unique, and highly luxurious automobiles.

 Rolls Royce

The introductory base price for a Rolls Royce Phantom in a model similar to the one above is £250,000 in the United Kingdom and $300,000 in the United States. This luxury car was parked outside the Victoria & Albert Design Museum.

Tesla Roadster

The Tesla Roadster has a base price of $109,000 in the United States and is an engineering masterpiece. The Tesla Roadster is an all-electric sports car that can drive up to 300 miles on a single charge. I spotted this Roadster just down the street form the Rolls Royce pictured above, but near the Museum of Science.

Royal Albert Hall

            The end of our tour ended as we circled the Royal Albert Hall, and saw many people lined up outside, or 'queuing', for £5 tickets to the Prom. The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England, best known for holding the annual summer Proms concerts since 1941. Since Queen Victoria opened the Royal Albert Hall in 1871, the world's leading artists from several performance genres have appeared on its stage and it has become one of the UK's most distinct buildings. The premier for the new James Bond 007 movie Sky fall happened here, and one of my flat mates, Scott got Daniel Craig's autograph!

Piccadilly Circus

           Piccadilly Circus is an Underground Stop as well as a road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly. This is a London equivalent of Time Square for New York City. There are many streets filled with restaurants, shops, and theaters that all meet at one point, which is Piccadilly Circus. For one of my classes, I went to a play called 'The 39 Steps' located right in the heart of Piccadilly Circus. The show was a prime example of British humor, which was excellent, and they only used the same four people to play all the characters throughout the show which was funny to see their interactions. A street that forms off of Piccadilly Circus is Oxford Street. 

 Oxford Street

           Oxford Street is a major thoroughfare in the City of Westminster in the West End of London, United Kingdom. It is Europe's busiest shopping street, and as of 2011 had approximately 300 shops. Oxford Street is the Mecca of consumerism in London boastings such brands as Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Gucci, Hollister, Super Dry, Barbour, and many more. My favorite store on Oxford Street is Topshop. Oxford Street is also home to Selfridges, one of London's largest luxury department store. It's very entertaining to people watch while walking down Oxford Street, as well in Piccadilly Circus too. 
           My classes are starting to assign more work, and I'm realizing different areas of studies I may potentially want to get into like marketing, as well as appreciating new types of design like architecture and interior design that I previous found dull and uninspiring. I like my marketing class because the teachers have plenty out real world knowledge, and experience to back up their lectures. The process of creating a marketing plan is very structured, but allows for some creativity,which I find, can exemplify a great mix of my skills. I also like how in Marketing, every skill is transferrable to meet any marketing goal, for any product. Marketing a product, and creating a brand, directly ties into the core of  many courses within the Design and Merchandising curriculum. I enjoy my other classes as well, specifically history of Modern Design. I never really noticed the importance of subtle detail, simplicity and the history of interior design, commercial design, and the design of many modern items within a home, as much until I started this class. My other classes aren't evolving as quickly but the Transnational Studies Global Diasporas class is really making me think about current affairs, and is interesting me to engage in political topics surrounding the election. These classes are exposing me to many different areas of knowledge than I've never been previously interested in which is really fun, and makes me want to discover more, and new facets of knowledge in my educational career at Drexel. 

Arriving: London, UK

September 5-12-2012

Hey Guys, I’m Andrew, a junior year student at Drexel University studying Design and Merchandising. I’m studying in London, UK for the semester. I had been to London once in High school on a school exchange where I lived with a family for two weeks up in New Castle, but it’s a whole different experience living in the heart of London.

As I got off the plane at Heathrow Terminals, one of the many airports in, and around London, it finally started to sink in, of where I was and how crazy it was to me. I just finished a hectic summer term and without even going home for a break, I flew straight to London.  So as I and some other Drexel students got our bearings straight, and all got our luggage from the baggage claim, we headed to the London Underground, more commonly called the tube.

We had about eleven stops to get to the closest stop near our house for the term.  Our house is right between South Kensington, and Gloucester Road station, but we got off at the South Kensington station. 

Unfortunately it took our group of six students almost and hour and a half to find our way through around a few blocks! We had to sign in with our program to get our room keys, then finally be able to drop off our luggage and take long needed showers after our flight. This is where we live, a converted apartment building to house students in the FIE program, students form all over the United States like Santa Clara, Florida, and Marist University.

The study abroad program I’m completing in here in London is through FIE, which stands for the ‘Foundation of International Education’. FIE has educational ties with schools like Imperial College on London, which is an internationally regarded school.
While I’m here, I’m taking four core classes; British Culture and Visual Media, Transnational Studies: Global Diasporas, History of Modern Design, and International Marketing.  It’s very mentally refreshing to learn about new concepts and topics in contrast to a heavy design oriented curriculum. These courses teach new skills of critical thinking, and new processes of problem solving. These aspects of learning are due to an entirely different teaching style and of course a new environment.
In the house I live on the third floor with eleven roommates, seven guys, and four girls. I live in a three-person room, a share a bunk with my roommate Cody, and my other roommate Chris has a bed on the other side of the room. The room isn’t too cramped, and we all have our own closet, drawer, and nightstand. The best part is our view down the whole street filled with luxurious cars and other lavish apartments flooded with sunlight. While it does tend to rain sporadically, for the most part the weather in London is very comfortable for the fall and almost winter months.

            The apartment contains four two-person rooms, one triple, three bathrooms with showers, and a kitchen combined with a common area. The common area has a flat screen television on the wall that can be adjusted, as well as a wrap around couch with a coffee table.  Across from the table is an island with four bar stools. There are three full refrigerators with freezers, and full appliances, as well as windows overlooking neighboring gardens below. Drexel definitely looks out for their students abroad because the flat, or apartment, is awesome.