Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Last Day

Today we found one more opportunity to get a picture of the group in Jesus College where we've been staying. This evening we concluded the program with a final dinner at a great British restaurant called Browns. We've had an amazing group and a very successful program.

Presentations Continued...

Here are the rest of the group presentations. They were terrific and all very different. These groups did India, Japan and Mexico.

Group Presentations

We are in the middle of the students' final group presentations. Each group is presenting on business and culture in the US, the UK and another country of their choice. So far we've seen Russia and Brazil. In keeping with our very unusual string of good luck with weather, our last day here is absolutely beautiful. The students are enjoying some time outside in the quad during a break between the presentations. I will post more on the remainder of the groups later in the day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


We walked down to the famous Christ Church College in Oxford for a photo today after class. Groups are now diligently working on their projects and presentations for tomorrow.

Last London Day

On Monday we took our last group trip to London. We again started out early to make it through all the traffic in London and maximize the day. We started with the Tower of London. The weather was beautiful yet again and so we enjoyed time inside and outside the tower buildings. One of the most exciting things for many students was that this is where the Crown Jewels are housed. This includes crowns, scepters and other royal objects that are used during coronations and other formal occasions. The jewels themselves are exquisite, but along with them comes the stories and rich histories of the British monarchy. Unfortunately, but quite understandably, no photos were allowed. If you're at all interested though, it's worth doing a web search and you can see the extensive collection that makes up the Crown Jewels as it is quite impressive.
The Tower also has an elaborate display of armor worn by many past kings, including some especially notable individuals such as Henry VIII. There are also buildings where high profile prisoners were held in the tower. In one tower the prisoners created intricate "graffiti" which was actually a series of detailed stone carvings. These were created mainly during the 1500s and are all still preserved today.

After the Tower, we ate lunch nearby and then walked to the Tube to ride to the British Museum. The students read an article about the Rosetta Stone and were able to see this first. The Rosetta Stone was originally discovered in Egypt and had etchings in multiple languages. As such, it was one of the first bilingual texts ever discovered and helped us to decipher the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphics. Though the Rosetta Stone has been housed at the British Museum for over 200 years, in recent years Egypt has called for it to be returned to them. The issue remains an international controversy.

The rest of the late afternoon and evening students were free to stay in London and explore on their own. Some stayed late and others headed back to Oxford early since now our days here are few.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Exam, Fish & Chips and Churchill's Birthplace

Thursday morning started with an exam over the material up to this point in the course. After everyone finished, the group walked to the bus station to ride a city bus to Blenheim Palace. It was a double decker (of course!) and the ride took about 30 minutes. When we arrived, we walked into the town of Woodstock and went to a fish and chips place that was recommended to us by the Shakespearean scholars who visited earlier in the week. It turned out to be a great recommendation. The people who worked there were extremely friendly to the surprise group of 27 people who showed up at their restaurant. Fortunately they had enough seats for us as it started to pour rain as soon as we arrived. Most people had the fish and chips, but there were other great options too.
On my wait to the restroom, I discovered the secret to these delicious chips - heaps of bags of real potatoes. This place did it the old fashioned way and cut, soaked and fried the potatoes themselves with nothing frozen! I couldn't resist including the picture of the potato bags below and of course in true English style there was a pair of Wellington boots right in the bottom left of the picture.

We then walked to Blenheim Palace which has a long history, but is most well known now as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. The rain continued as we walked to the palace, but our group has been here long enough they knew to come prepared!
We had a tremendous guide who offered all sorts of wonderful information and even tailored the tour for our students. She wove in great information on how the palace functions as a business and talked about the financial, marketing and logistical operations of the site. Unfortunately pictures weren't allowed inside the palace, but it was truly amazing. It still functions as a residence and currently, Sir John George Vanderbilt Spencer-Churchill, the 11th Duke of Marlborough lives in the palace. Yes, the names are all those you're familiar with. Vanderbilt as in the American Vanderbilts who are connected to the lineage by marriage, Spencer as in those related to the late Princess Diana and of course Churchill. We were told the Duke, referred to as His Grace, was in the day we visited. The two signs were the flag flying over the palace and his black Range Rover parked out front. His is the only vehicle allowed inside the palace grounds. Because it still functions in part as a residence, the palace all felt very alive. The rooms were all still fully furnished and artwork and artifacts were abundant. After the tour, the rain cleared and the group enjoyed the grounds on their own before heading back to Oxford.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Shakespeare on a Cool Summer Night

Wednesday evening we went to see the opening night of a production of Romeo and Juliet here in Oxford. The venue was wonderful on the roof of the Said Business School. They offered a special pre-theater meal of Italian pizza, pastas and salad at a very reasonable price. Nearly the whole group chose to take advantage of this and arrived early. We started the performance in a courtyard and then all moved up to the amphitheater. The characters were in dress complete with Lady Capulet in stiletto heels. Cameras were unfortunately forbidden (which I discovered after taking pictures of our group) so unfortunately we don't have more photos. The scenery was minimal though the actors were so talented the play worked wonderfully. Unfortunately as it was opening night there was a bit of disruption in the production with some lighting difficulties which made the play last a bit longer than normal. After the sun set it was especially cool and several people rented blankets to stay warm. All in all though, it was a good evening.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

This Place Rocks!

Monday was a long and productive day. We started out at 7am on a bus to the village of Street. Street is home to UK based Clarks shoe company. Our group was fortunate to have a tour of their museum, with a rich history of the company and shoes from different eras. We then learned more about the structure of the company, specifically the unique Quaker heritage that has shaped and still guides how the company is run today.
After the Clarks visit the group went on to Clarks Village where they had about an hour to eat lunch and do any shopping they could fit in. Some people managed to do well on both accounts! After this quick stop, we drove about an hour to Stonehenge.
Stonehenge offered a free audio guided tour and great photo opportunities for the group. Despite a forecast of rain, we enjoyed a dry visit.
After this visit we moved on to our final stop, the city of Bath. The city was beautiful and offered plenty of opportunity for exploration. At 8pm we had reservations to tour the Roman Baths. This visit was absolutely stunning. Parts of the Roman Baths and the associated temple date back as early as 60-70AD. Over the past 2000 years various civilizations have added, modified and restored the Baths. What results today is a breathtaking museum that allows visitors to experience history firsthand. The location was chosen for the natural hot springs that offer up water at about 115 degrees at a rate of 1.17 million liters per day. The hot springs are still functional, but the Roman Baths are not considered safe for bathing. However, the city has constructed two modern style baths to allow bathers to experience the hot springs spa experience.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Fever!

Even though England was eliminated from the World Cup several rounds ago, the British do love their football. Today the streets were buzzing with excitement for the final game tonight. This evening, pubs were literally overflowing into the streets as excited fans watched the match between the Netherlands and Spain.

Both countries have never won a World Cup title and there are plenty of excited people from both countries in Oxford right now to really enhance the mood. As I type this, there is singing and cheering in the streets that I can hear out my window. Many students found places around town to watch the game and enjoyed what was likely one of their most memorable World Cup experiences.

Friday, July 9, 2010


On Wednesday of this week the group started out early in the morning to catch the coach to London. While it's not all that far away, traffic in the city in the morning made it around a 2 hour journey. However, we stepped off the bus and started to walk to our first visit. The walk was beautiful and we spent a little time in front of Buckingham Palace. The Union Jack (flag of the UK) was flying high above the Palace indicating that the Queen was there. We took some pictures outside the large gates before moving on.

We then walked along The Mall, the road running from Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square. This was a beautiful, tree lined walk with St. James Park along the south side. It took us right to our next destination, Coutts Bank. This was an especially unique visit as Coutts is widely regarded as the premier private bank in the UK. They don't routinely take visitors, rarely accept groups, so we were quite fortunate to have the visit. It involved a visit with the archivist who explained the history of the bank and three executives and private bankers.

The afternoon included a bus and boat tour of London. The group was energetic for such a long day and came back to Oxford that evening.

Thursday was spent mostly in class and the students were fortunate to have Professor Alan Rugman as a guest speaker on Thursday morning. He is a former Kelley School faculty member who is now at Henley College back in the UK. This weekend students will work on group projects, explore Oxford and travel as they choose.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Learning Inside and Outside the Classroom

This morning started with a terrific class. Professor McDougall lectured on the UK and the EU for a bit and then four students then gave their cultural briefings. Today students presented on food in the UK, the monarchy, rugby and Wimbledon. Following this the class had a discussion on the first several chapters in the textbook.

After a lunch break, the class broke into two groups and took a guided walking tour of Oxford. The guide was wonderful and we stopped at several of Oxford's 38 colleges, the Bodleian Library and saw several spots from the Harry Potter films.

The tour was rich with information, but perhaps one of the most interesting stops was the Bodleian Library. The collection there includes a copy of every book published in the UK and also 4 copies of the Magna Carta. There are only 17 in existence so this is a very special collection indeed. It's so special, that only Oxford University students and very select patrons can check out books. However, checking out a book only allows you to read it in the library as nothing in the collection is allowed to leave. On several occasions in history, kings and even Oliver Cromwell requested materials be delivered to them; but rules are rules and even they weren't permitted to access the collection outside the walls of the library!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day One and the Fourth of July

It's always a bit surreal to be out of the US on the Fourth of July, but the group has found much to celebrate in their new home for the next three weeks. We had a group dinner this evening in the big Harry Potter like dining hall. The little touches like the college crest on the napkins made it feel very special. I hope to have more photos of the hall posted soon, but the lighting made it a bit difficult this evening. Dinner was followed by an orientation in the historic chapel at the college which is over 400 years old. Everyone introduced themselves and Professor McDougall covered some basics of the program. Tomorrow is the first day of class and it should be a good, packed day with class in the morning and a walking tour of Oxford in the afternoon. Stay tuned for updates.