01 Aug 2012

It’s week two, and I’ve overcome my anxieties—and the Tube

I’m sure each member of BSU at the Games had some fears about our time in England before we made the trip over here.

Some of those fears probably related to whether or not we would get all the stories we needed, or if our leaders would like our work, or if media outlets would even accept our submissions.

Mine was slightly less conspicuous.

My fear was of the Tube.

Between sitting around 20 other complete strangers and having to navigate through that complex route system, I dreaded my first ride through London’s underground tunnels.

The anxiety of sitting in the crammed cars and thinking I would either get off at the wrong stop or somehow get pick-pocketed was a little overwhelming at first.

But now I have ridden the Tube to many parts of London, and I’ve realized how my fears were misguided.

Every car is spotless and clean, which is a far cry from the trashy subways you can find in New York City. Passengers mostly keep to themselves, waiting for their own stop to come.

It’s been fun for me as a born-and-raised Hoosier to use public transportation more than I ever have before.

That fear along with any others I carried with me into England has quickly subsided. For the rest of the group, I’m sure they’re coming to the same conclusion about their initial reservations.

The realization that we would all be spending three weeks here and working on new projects almost every day was probably a bit too much to handle for some people in the group during the first week.

Now that we’re into the second week, I think most of our fears, problems and worries are behind us, from the big ones to the small ones.

Stories are starting to pick up. Our group leaders have told us how pleased they are with the work we’re doing. Media outlets like The Huffington Post and USA Today have picked up our submissions.

And I’m no longer afraid of the Tube.

Our hard work is paying off, and it’s only been one week. Finally, I feel what this program was built on, coming to life.

I’m immersed.

Andrew Mishler  |  Sports Reporter


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30 Jul 2012

It’s all about staying positive

I was standing in Victoria Park watching the Opening Ceremony with a mass of people from all over the world, watching the fireworks in the distant sky and singing “Hey Jude,” when it hit me: I am in England—at the Olympics.

This is real life.

And just like anything in life, it isn’t all fun and games.

With the exception of trying to beat jet lag, I have yet to have a full night’s sleep. Between fruit and cider runs to Tesco Express and a morning coffee from Costa or Starbucks, my money seems to just disappear before my eyes. My feet always seem to be dirty, and the rain just doesn’t agree with my canvas shoes.

It doesn’t matter.

We have been in England for just about a week and already this has been a huge and rewarding learning experience in so many ways. Our graphics group has been working so hard, and we are seeing our dedication pay off with published pieces in the Chicago Tribune. As a student journalist, that makes your heart skip a beat.

We began to realize just how big this is and the potential it holds.

Working in the graphics group we have a policy for this whole experience — positivity. It started in the late hours of working in a hot flat for about 14 hours our first day in England. It was one rule, from one member. But now, it has become our group’s policy.

Keep it positive.

One of the first things we learn as designers is Gestalt theory: the whole is greater that the sum of its parts. I say we should apply that to our experience in London. Because no matter how hard it is to find WiFi, and no matter how much your eyes hurt from staring at the screen for too long, it doesn’t matter.

The overall experience is greater than all the little ups and downs.

Just like when I think back on watching the Opening Ceremony at Victoria Park, I won’t dwell on how badly my feet hurt or how I hadn’t had food or water in 14 hours. I will remember connecting with people on a level that transcends language and cultural barriers.

The Olympic Games brings people together, plain and simple. And if that isn’t something to be positive about, I don’t know what is.

Stephanie Meredith |  Designer


30 Jul 2012

This time around

London is like hairspray—just one spritz is not enough.

Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but I just bought a new bottle at Boots (an English version of CVS) and applied it in my flat while using Photo Booth as a mirror. Don’t worry my curls didn’t suffer.

This is round two for me in London. It’s just as I remembered it. You know, except for the Olympics and all.

This time around, there will be some old and some new. Old is awesome by the way. During my first day in London I, as well as some other BSU at the Games students, walked along River Thames and visited the London Eye, Houses of Parliament and Tower Bridge. These sites never get old.

It was a really cool feeling taking my friends, who have never been to London, to see those sites. I felt like a tour guide, and I loved it.

We also worked on mastering the tube system—inventing a “tube route quiz” to really help them get a good grip on it. By the end of the day I’d say they were doing pretty well!

New is just as awesome. New sites (Olympic sites that is), new pubs and new people are all on the agenda.

Did I say new pubs? Let me tell you about the new pubs. A friend and I went to a place called The Cider Tap. Conveniently enough, The Euston Tap was right across the street. We were our own game of pinball—bouncing from one pub to the next. It ruled.

Nothing beats the people of London. Yes, pubs are good for beer, but they’re better for meeting people. Good conversation is waiting to be had over a good English ale. Cheers to Pete, Stu, Sean, the Fro brothers, Sophie and Kerry. Oh, and Rory, the one with the hilarious American impression… “Oh my God, are you from England?”

Moral of the story: you can never use too much hairspray.

Alix Sappington |  Public Relations



30 Jul 2012

Opportunities of a lifetime can be a little intimidating

I’m so excited to have been given the opportunity to partner with The Chicago Tribune. Although I am a senior in college and well into my major, it amazes me how much I’ve already learned from my editor, Alex Bordens, in less than a week!

Currently working in Worcester has allowed me to get my hands on some great graphics work. The projects have tight deadlines, and with the rest of my team working in London, I was able to help Alex out with a few graphics that were due back in Chicago on Saturday. I was a bit nervous, but obviously I took him up on the offer and got right to work.

Slowly but surely I’m going to get faster and better with these programs. I picked up a venue graphic about ExCeL, London’s largest venue, as well as a small locator map and a swimsuit graphic that Emily, Sarah, Jen and I were given a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, because of the results of one of the races, it seems as though our swimsuit graphic won’t be running any time soon.  Looks like the athletes are actually talented enough to win medals without that fancy swimsuit worn in the Beijing Games.

Anyway, working with The Chicago Tribune also means I have to follow its style guide and overall flow of design, work, research, etc. This is a big jump from my usual work, which has always allowed me design freedom and never had a strong student-media focus.

This is a huge step for me, but one that I am happy to take. This fast pace and strict way of working is keeping me on my toes as well as allowing me to explore newspaper design. In the long run, I am confident that this work will improve my overall skills as a designer, and that is something I am excited for.

During the summer weeks when a few other designers and I worked with Alex, we found it difficult to send our files back and forth for editing. Having him here now brings us such relief. I know what to change right then and there, what works and what doesn’t, and what needs more attention—all bettering my understanding of the Tribune’s design style.

I’m still finding myself struggling to really go out and show what I can do. Maybe it’s some sort of stage fright or maybe it’s not—either way I am hopeful that I will be able just to relax and realize that this what I love to do. I shouldn’t hold myself back for fear of failure. Besides, producing multiple drafts doesn’t mean that I’m failing. It means that I am moving one step closer to the final product.

Lastly, can I just freak out about the fact that my name, alongside my peers’, will appear in bylines in multiple issues of The Chicago Tribune? OH MY GOSH.  I am so lucky and could not be happier to be in this position. This is the opportunity of a lifetime and one that is stationed in the city of the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Best. Summer. Ever.

Annie Gonzalez |  Designer


30 Jul 2012

Feeling at home in London

As I stepped onto the tube for the first time in months at Chancery Lane in Central London I felt a familiar tingle of excitement. After studying abroad in London this past spring semester, anything I could possibly want was in reach again.

During that time, I learned where to go to find the things that make me happy in this city. Whether it’s a pint at the Scottish brewer, Brewdog in Camden Town, a gourmet burger from the Lucky Chip in Hackney or a place to sit and think at the top of Primrose Hill, I know how to make myself comfortable.

Returning to London for the Olympics after living here for the first three months of the year has been such a treat and put me ahead of the game[s]—literally. For this reason, I don’t think I could pick a city I’d rather report from. The tube is simple, the pace of life is quick and the friendliness of Londoners and foreigners sharing the city is endless.

During my time studying at the City of Westminster College, I began to feel like I was coming home after returning from trips across Europe, and it didn’t feel any different as I made my way into London earlier this week.

After my experience here, there was no doubt in my mind that London would display itself in a grand way for this year’s Olympic Games. This was proven to me Saturday evening when a group of BSU at the Games journalists and I watched the fireworks blast off from Olympic stadium in Stratford, signaling the start of this celebration of togetherness, diversity and sport.

After this year’s Games, the world will recognize London as the beautiful, vibrant and relevant city I know it is.

Jack Meyer  |  Features Reporter

28 Jul 2012

I’m not a Brit, but I’m proud too

After discovering what some bars in London really think of journalists after they kicked me out, trekking around London for two hours, and getting locked shoeless out of my room, I decided to take London Evening Standard writer Nick Curtis’ advice that the Opening Ceremony may better be viewed from home.

Coming in late, I caught the end of the opening performance and watched enthralled as performers portrayed the early stages of technology and development of the industrial revolution. As five golden rings rose above the crowd and joined to form the universal Olympic symbol, chills ran up my spine and covered my arms with goose bumps, making the hairs stand on end. As the camera zoomed into the crowd of performers, the grin spread across one man’s face showed he felt the same chills and more. Pride for his country was painted all over his face.

But Brits aren’t the only ones who should be proud of their culture. England gave us the stories of our childhood in “Peter Pan,” “Harry Potter,” “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” and “Mary Poppins.” It gave us iconic musicians known to every generation in the Beatles and Queen. England gave us the man who invented the World Wide Web (something I didn’t know before the ceremony).

A man in a pub asked me last night if Americans were glad the Olympic Games were in London this year, if we felt a special connection because it’s an English-speaking country.  To me, it didn’t make a difference, I told him. But now I am proud the Games are in London and proud of everything England has given to the world.

Lindsey Gelwicks  |  Features Reporter


11 Jul 2012

The U.K. has my love of preservatives growing stale

Artificial preservatives have gone from being a triumph of modern science to, in many people’s opinions, a poison that is affecting us all from the inside out. When I first came to England, I had no idea the British limit the amount of preservatives in their food.  After a few meals, I started to notice a common logo on all the packages announcing a lack of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.

My first bite of a candy bar had me instantly falling in love with the light chocolate taste and thinking this is the best chocolate I have ever tasted. Although the loaf of bread I bought only lasted about four days, why is it as Americans we have to have our food preserved for such a long time? Are preservatives actually necessary? I am now very fond of the idea of ONLY buying what I will eat in the next few days, and don’t waste as much food as I would back home.

I’m very concerned about recent research showing health problems associated with certain artificial preservatives. I may have to go to the grocery store more then once every two weeks, but I am falling madly in love with idea of only eating natural preservatives and living a healthier life. I mean, do we really need more studies to prove to us that natural is always more beneficial then man-made alternatives?

Katelynn Thys | Features Reporter


11 Jul 2012

Video blog: When classwork meets the Olympics


Emily Theis  |  Graphic Designer


10 Jul 2012

5 ways not to lose weight in England

Last week at the Selfridges (like a British Macy’s) in Birmingham, I stumbled upon a huge food-court display of Frosted Flakes and Pop-Tarts that was entirely surrounded by American flags. It sat next to a sushi bar and a French bakery, and I think it was supposed to represent our national cuisine.

I guess they weren’t wrong.

But the U.K. also has quite a selection of deliciously crappy (or crappily delicious?) treats just waiting to be discovered, and being a good American I have tested many of them. Look for these, my favorites, in groceries, convenience stores and anywhere empty calories are sold:

1. Cadbury Digestives. You can find these at home, in the Meijer international aisle, but they cost like 6 bucks. Here they’re for sale at Poundland (insert off-color joke here). They’re dry, slightly sweet cookies with delicious milk chocolate on one side, and my 4-year-old calls them “Mommy’s special cookies” because I bribe her through art museums and bus rides with them. The same form of bribery also will work on me.

2. Cadbury anything. Yes, we have it at home, but IT DOESN’T TASTE THE SAME. It is a mystery as to why.  No preservatives, superior British cows, I don’t know. I don’t even like chocolate that much, and the Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel bar makes me want to write a poem or maybe cry a little.

3. Weird crisps. A crisp is an adorable British way to say potato chip, and they have very weird flavors here, like Thai Curry and T-Bone Steak. No matter the flavor, they all taste vaguely of ketchup. They’re fantastic.

4. Maynards Wine Gums. These are like gummi bears only more delicious, round and sold rolled up in a little tube. Why does so much British candy sound like the title of a PBS sitcom your grandma watches?

5. Jammie Dodgers. These are just little sandwich cookies with cherry or maybe strawberry jam in the middle, but it’s fun to say Jammie Dodger. I keep them in my purse for British-food emergencies, like when all the deli sandwiches have butter on them, all the salad dressing is really mayonnaise, or the pudding turns out to actually be bread with some sort of gravy on it.

You’ll see when you get here.

Colleen Steffen  |  Features Editor


09 Jul 2012

And don’t forget the tea towels!

On June 2, 2012, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated 60 years on the throne. She is the second queen in the United Kingdom’s history to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee. There were week-long festivities in honor of the Queen, but the Brits will continue to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event throughout the year.

A study done by MoneySupermarket found families are expected to spend around £823 million between buying extra snacks and drinks, attending festivities and buying souvenirs. With the Jubilee falling the same year as the London 2012 Olympic Games, British pride seems to be at an all-time high throughout the nation.

In Worcester (where I am currently staying) every shop I walk in has at least a dozen items on display for Queen Elizabeth II. The Brits have found a way to put the Queen’s face on literally everything possible, from shirts, scarves and clothing to dishes, pots and utensils, cups for tea, tea pots, calendars and of course an endless amount of books.

God save the queen!

Katelynn Thys | Features Reporter