Learning Can Be Fun!

I’m a firm believer that learning should never stop. We should be continually learning and growing throughout life. However, I must admit my favorite type of learning is doing it while having fun.

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With LUIP I got to experience learning in two ways on Saturday: a workshop on a very modern topic- entrepreneurship, and playing tourist at Hampton Court Palace, learning all things historical. Both led to an amazing time!

We started the day with an entrepreneurial work shop at Kingston University, with Dr. Martha Mador the head of Enterprise Education. We learned that entrepreneurship is a continuing process of discovery, evaluation, and exploitation. When set to task of creating our own business I have to say it was harder than it seems! Luckily we worked in groups to come up with our business, our plan, our motto, and even a catchy jingle.  Nothing like brainstorming with friends to start a day.

After our workshop we headed off to Hampton Court Palace.

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We got lost in mazes, toured the gardens and the palace, and picked up a bit of history along the way.

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Hampton Court Palace was the holiday home of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and was then utilized by William III.

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It is now used as a concert venue, a famous flower show venue, and a lovely place to go and picnic by the river. It was stunning, with the oldest and largest grape vine in the world (which you can pick grapes from in Sept), to the many gardens, to the grand rooms, everything caught your eye (they even provided a Smell Map of Georgian Court, yep scratch and sniff of a palace!).

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Like I said I learned so much on that day, but definitely had fun along the way… my favorite kind of day.

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Till next time…

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Money Matters: The Bank of England

As one who likes to spend money, I didn’t know much more than I work to earn money so I can siphon it away on pretty and practical things (you have to eat right?). A trip to the Bank of England taught me there is so much more going on.

It is all about trust: trust you can trade a note for somethings you want, and trust that when you put your money into a bank you can collect that money at anytime. If people don’t trust their bank like this they remove their money in an attempt to keep it safe, leading to a collapse of the bank and a downward trend in the economy. This is where the Bank of England steps in.

It is all a balancing act of spending, to keep a constant inflation rate…

Who knew there was so much behind money?! I’m very glad others understand this more than me!! Think  I’ll stick to fixing broken bones and diseases 🙂 But I definitely enjoyed the Bank of England Museum and the history behind it all!

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Fun Facts:

  • William Shakespeare was the first historical figure to appear on the bank note (1970)
  • If you look closely at all notes there are the words: ‘Promise to pay’
  • 1694 Bank of England notes were first issued
  • 1960 Was the first use of a monarch’s portrait (Elizabeth II)
  • Elizabeth Fry (5 pound note) will be replaced by Winston Churchill (around 2016)
  • Charles Darwin  (10 pound note) [I am sad to see this one change! ]will be replaced by Jane Austin (around 2017)
  • You can vote for who will appear next on the 20 pound note!!!!
  • When you place the notes under a black-light security features appear ( I especially like the 20 pound note, as it looks like bacteria!)
  • A gold brick is currently worth ~300,000 pounds (and it is heavy!!!)

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Yes this is my attempts at trying to pick up a gold brick!!!

Till next time…

Googling at Google!!!

On my latest adventure with LUIP we got the great opportunity to go to the Google Head Office here in London, and learn about their innovations and inspirations of the future.

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Just being in their offices was inspiring. Their work spaces and designs were incredible-very modern and open with fun throughout like ball pits! The staff perks, like an onsite gym and masseuse, free meals with food never more than 500 ft away, makes me hope Google someday will need a personal vet for every office!!

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Unlike most companies that want to hide and keep their work secret, Google is an open company who’s motto is ‘accessible and useful’ for all. (Even us!)

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Google’s 9 Notions of Innovation:

  • customer need should lead to creative inspiration
  • ideas come from everywhere
  • fail quickly (test and find failure to improve upon)
  • allow ideas to move (morph into something new)
  • creativity loves constraint
  • share everything
  • data informs decision making (as a scientific mind I LOVE THIS ONE!!!!)
  • users come first
  • license to pursue passion (all employees must be given up to 20% of their work week to pursue a passion)

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The open atmosphere and attitude that Google has is inspirational. They are about creating a positive environment to allow ideas to flourish and thrive. And look what they have created:

Oh did I mention they are all FREE!!!!!!

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Some projects they are currently working on that they shared with us:

  • Google Fiber– FREE in certain cities in the USA for a limited time, trying to allow everyone access to the internet
  • Project Loon– solar powered balloons sent to the stratosphere, 20km from the earths surface,  that will allow people all over the world to access the internet wirelessly
  • Hummingbird– like Apple’s Siri it is a conversational search engine… all you say is “Okay Google…”
  • SELF DRIVING VEHICLES!!!! yes the future is here!

Oh did I mention the view…

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I’ll be Google dreaming….

Till next time…

Interviews- the Good, the Bad, and (hopefully not!) the Ugly

It was around this time 3 years ago when I first started interviewing for vet schools. No matter what your interest is, interviews are a part of applying to schools and jobs. So it is better to be prepared for them, so you do the best you can.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonyoushaei/2014/10/20/12-surprising-job-interview-tips/

I was lucky enough to get 4 interviews from the Royal Veterinary College (London), UC Davis (California), Washington State University (Washington), and Atlantic Veterinary College (PEI, Canada).

Interviews are tough, but very manageable. Let’s just say that I learned a few tips along the way:

1) Wear a suit! (although not vital- I got in without one!)

2) Know everything on your cover letter, resume/CV, and within your application form (they quiz you on everything!!!)

3) Look up current affairs!! (esp those relevant to that area/country)

4) Know one of your flaws and how you have learned to deal with it

5) Have questions to ask about the institution/job (this shows your interest and that you know about the institute)

6) It is better to say ‘I don’t know’ then to lie (honesty is key!!)

7) Eye contact and a positive attitude get you a long way!!

8) Be yourself!!!!

http://www.studentdoctor.net/ (this is a key website for medical/vet school applicants!)

My first interview was with the RVC, and although I was dressed smart, I wasn’t in a suit, and everyone else WAS!!!! I felt like an amateur! Needless to say I zipped off the the mall after that interview. This interview was with two professors (who I had looked up before to see their specialties) who asked me to go through my experiences. I got asked in the middle to break down adipose tissue to it’s cellular components, all the way down to the inner membrane of a mitochondria!! Thank goodness I did some basic science review before!!! It was only a 30 min interview so we finished my experience and went on to what I wanted from the degree, did I know the effort needed to become an exotic vet, I snuck in what I had found out about the badger cull!! hoping to impress, and then I could ask them questions. PREPARE QUESTIONS!!!! it looks bad if you have none, and uninterested as well. It is all bout the impression you make in the time you have.

My second interview was in Washington with a similar process of 2 interviewers and question format. My third was at PEI, where it was so cold and icy that I forgot to switch my UGGs for my heels! Luckily my suit trousers covered them, so no one knew. Here three people asked questions, and the ones I remember most are how I overcame an obstacle, and how I ensure that I keep my promises.  Examples are key!!! They want to know if you are dependable and if you can work through difficult situations.

Davis was my last and hardest interview. There were three interviewers, and there was definitely a good cop bad cop set up going on. One asked how I felt my GRE scores reflected me, if I thought they were good or not. Another was to explain something I had said in my cover letter, about the adaptations in marine mammals, (“tell me about some”). Another spoke of how glowing my recommendation letters were only to ask what my faults are!! One thing I did learn from this interview was to know any and everything in your application!! With high adrenaline levels due to nerves your brain doesn’t always work as smoothly as normal. So if you practice and know what you want to say, it comes out a lot easier. I also learned it is okay to say “I don’t know”. They much prefer the truth than for you to make something up. This will happen in the vet world (you can’t know everything!) and it is better to admit you don’t know and then go learn, then to believe you know and put an animal’s life in danger because of it.

Of these interviews I got into 2 schools and weight-listed to the other 2. Not a bad show if I can say so myself!!

http://career-advice.monster.co.uk/job-interview/job-interview-questions/what-are-the-most-common-job-interview-questions/article.aspx

Through all of the interviews I have ever been through I would say the most important thing is to be yourself! Smile, be positive! Show them that you are someone they want on your team! And in the end believe in yourself!

I chose to come to London, away from friends and family, and I don’t regret it! I have had an amazing adventure and a top notch education so far.

If veterinary isn’t you thing but you are interested in studying in London, there is an amazing company (that I am an ambassador for!) that has 16 different universities in their partnership! London University International Partners. Everything you need to know is right there!!

Till next time…

The Tube!

One of my favorite things about London, is how easy it is to get around. This is mostly due to the UndergrounD (the Tube) and the bus system. Both of these are governed by Transport for London (TFL). With an easy to use internet site www.tfl.gov.uk, and apps for your phone, you can check on any closures, plan your journey, and find out what route to take before you leave home.

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However, when staying in London it is best to acquire a pocket-sized map to allow you to plan your journey. These can be picked up at any tube station (for free). If you haven’t gotten one it isn’t a problem! Each tube station has large maps around for you to look at and plan.

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Navigating the tube is also easy. I have never gotten on the wrong tube, even after a night out, because the signs are amazing. Each line has a different name and different color, so if you can’t remember one you can usually remember the other. And at each platform the signs tell you the direction, the line, and all the stops along the way! Once on the train there are clear maps of the line you are on and all the stations that line covers. On exiting the Way Out is always clearly marked with yellow signs and the directions to other lines usually accompanies them.

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Once you are street level there is usually a street map on a pylon with a You Are Here message. And off you go! It is easy!

Living here for 3 years now I have to say the public transport is easily one of my top 5 things I love about London. As an international, without a car or a British license, I can come and go as I please with minimal effort and time.

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One key purchase, for all of 5 pounds, is an Oyster Card. This is essential for traveling around London. They work on all tubes and buses and also rail serves within the London area. I got mine at the tube station with my American credit card. You top up as you go, so it makes traveling simple and fast, not needing to buy a ticket every time. Also, your Oyster Card tops your journeys for the day at 7 pounds (5 pounds for student linked cards), meaning any journey after you have spent 7 pounds it is free!! A fun tip: if you are a student (or under 25) you can connect your Oyster Card to your 16-25 Railcard (around 30 pounds a year but worth it if you travel!!) and get discounted fares!

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So if your in London for a short visit or a long one, it is easy to see all you want to see!

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If you are interested, A Bit of History:

It all started with the Thames Tunnel Walk in 1842 to allow pedestrians more area to walk, this led to London increasing its travel-ability via underground systems. The first underground consisted of a railway system with steam engine trains. Dirty and grimy it must have been!

With an increase in tunnel technology, safety lifts, and electric trains the UndergrounD took off. Each separate route was owned by individual private companies, until they were combined when an American, Charles Yerkes, came across the pond from Chicago, and bought up the railways planned in 1902. This was the start of combining the main railways, the Metropolitan, District, and Northern into one company. Rapid expansion included the addition of the Piccadilly line and the combination of the Baker and Waterloo railways into the Bakerloo line. The Hampstead railway became integrated as the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line. The first escalator was introduced to Earls Cort station in 1911, and the Central line joined in the mix in 1913.

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In 1908 the branding of the UndergrounD came about along with a color coded system of the trains. The iconic bulls-eye or round-all was introduced in 1911 and is now one of the most recognized signs in the world.

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In 1933 the London Passenger Transport Board was founded and transferred these private railways into a public transport system run by the government. This also incorporated buses and bringing together of the separate railways. This was also the year Harry Beck came out with the diagrammatic map, which doesn’t take into account the geography. This was the first of it’s kind.

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During war the underground was used by many as shelter and also some areas were used in aircraft parts manufacturing.

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The Victoria line  opened in 1969. And in 1971 the Piccadilly line was expanded to connect Heathrow to the city center, which was the 1st in the world to do this.

Not only convenient and relevant today, but the UndergrounD has quite a history leading to key innovations that have shaped modern transportation into what it is today. I for one am a big fan.

Till next time!

Parliament!

Since posting about how Parliament was almost blown up… (thanks Guy Fawkes 😉 ) I have been on a tour within the Palace of Westminster and learned how the government actually works over here in England.

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Few fun facts:

  • The Parliament building is actually called the Palace of Westminster… because it was a palace first and then converted into the governmental building
  • There is NO separation of church and government
  • Big Ben is not the clock tower most people think but the BELL inside the clock tower
  • Only one branch of the English government is elected by the people

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To make this as easy as possible to understand, I will relate it to the US government. In the UK there are three branches, just as in the US: the Monarchy, the House of Lords, and the House of Commons.

The Monarchy can be related to the Presidency. However there are some major differences.

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In the US the President has governmental power, the monarch (now Queen Elizabeth II) no longer does. The Queen is now the figurehead for the country, however she has no power within the government. The only day in the year when the Queen enters Palace of Westminster to open Parliament.

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The House of Lords can be related broadly to the Senate. However there are HUGE differences. First off, members of the Church of England are part of this house. With no separation between the Church and Government it is important for their view to be heard. Another difference is that no one is elected into the House of Lords. The members are made up of large landowners, religious figures, and experts in their fields.

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The House of Commons can be related to the House of Representatives. This is the only branch where the officials are elected to represent their area. These are also the people who draft and create laws.

Like the USA, one branch cannot pass a law without the other branch approving as well. There is still a check and balance system in place to ensure all views are heard, and a law represents the countries wishes. But there are some fun traditions still done to this day fraught with symbolism and meaning, as seen on the opening of Parliament:

My favorite part was seeing how the art, architecture, and colors change for each branch. The Monarch only has one room, but it is lavish and rich. And her seat in the House of Lords is 24 karat gold– fit for a queen. The House of Lords is all red with squishy chairs and ornate decoration- fit for nobility and officials of the Church. And last the House of Commons is all green, with a simplistic style-no fuss needed for these folk. But my favorite thing is how combative and argumentative the sessions are!

I will never understand how they get things done! But it obviously works!

Now I know this is a very vague overview of the English government, and probably not as detailed as it could be (and I stole most of the pictures, don’t tell!). But in one broad swoop… there you go!

Till next time…

Rememberance Day (11am on 11th of Nov)

A day to remember… an annual remembrance of those who lost their lives in service to their country since WWI. Although we remember all of those who have given a life, a limb, or a loved one to the cause on this day (11am on the 11th day of the 11th month), this year is the 100th anniversary of the beginning of WWI. As such London has gone all out.

Most notable would have to be the Tower of London and it’s sea of poppies (888,246 poppies) . I was lucky enough to see the beginning of this amazing insulation in August.

Although only partially done, it still had a profound affect. I have a brother in the Marine Corp and my father is a retired Navy officer. Admittedly things like this hit home for me. As I know they must for millions of others with family that serve their country. I would hate for a poppy to represent my brother or father, but I would be glad that they were remembered.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29975381

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The poppy here has a dual purpose: they serve as a symbol for remembrance, but also their proceeds go toward charities for veterans. I wish we had a program like this in America.

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Remembrance Day coincides with Armistice Day, the day WWI ended in 1918. We call it Veteran’s Day back home, and luckily they all fall on the same day. Though we celebrate with the US flag, it is nice to know that people around the world stop on this day and remember the cost of trying to make the world as safe and free a place as possible.

Thank you to all those who serve.