Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 16, 2011

June 15, 2011: Ireland Coast by Benjamin Ramos


Today, on the 15th of June , the Aggies woke up and ate breakfast at about 0930. We meet our FIE representative, Jenavine, and she took us to tour the Dockland’s Authority. At this building we received a lecture from the head PR lady on the development projects aimed at stimulating Ireland’s economy. This authority supervised the building of structures that would house a community of people that would promote growth, wealth, and happiness. The authority was a direct agent acting on behalf of the government. After she described the good, she went into detail about the bad. She described the Dublin Glass Bottle incident. This incident has a crippling catastrophe. The authority’s ego grew too big and they bought something, which ultimately was for the community’s better, but it broke their own back. This lecture was extremely informative and interesting.

After this lecture, the Aggies, got on a train to Howth to begin our Cliff Walking tour. For this paragraph I will let the pictures give you the experience we had.

God truly blessed us today. It was partly cloudy with a cool breeze coming in of the coast. Walking on the edges of cliffs, looking at what God created truly amazed and awed all of us. These views of God’s creation were worth every bit of the walking, the strain, the twist and the turns of the path. At the end of the journey we rested, we stopped, and just sat down to marvel at the view. After the journey around the cliffs, we caught a train ride back to Dublin and Jenavine bought us a three course meal at a restaurant called Odessa. The duck was as the English would put it “fantastic.” This trip has truly been blessed. For right now that is all.

Thanks and Gig’em,

Benjamin Ramos


Today was our first full day in Dublin.  The morning started out with the group meeting up at 8:50 am, followed by a short walk to Dublin Business School for our first lecture on Irish Construction Law.  This lecture was conducted by a Barrister, Lidia Bunni, who spent the last 9 months focusing her studies on Construction Law.  She knew her stuff. Lidia squeezed everything she learned during those 9 months into 2 hours and 75 power point slides.

After the lecture we split up for a bite to eat, before making a 45 minute walk to the Central Criminal Court.  This walk once again reminded us why we are getting a kinesiology credit on the trip.  We were given a short tour of the court followed by a sit down in one of the actual court rooms with a Barrister, who was “dressed for court”.   Court dress is worn at hearings in open court in all Senior Courts of England and Wales and in county courts.  Barristers wear an open-fronted black gown with open sleeves.   In addition barristers wear a short horsehair wig with curls at the side and ties down the back.  While in the court room, we learned how the judicial system works during a trial.  After that we actually got the chance to sit in on a murder trial for about an hour.  While sitting in on the murder trial we listened to a cellular technology expert on the stand explaining how the use of cell phones played a role in the murder.  This was an awesome experience but quit boring, even the judge thought so as he kept dozing off during the trial.

After a long day in court what better way to end the day than to take a tour of the Guinness factory.  We all made our way to the factory to learn the wonderful process of making beer and the fine history of Guinness.  To end the tour, the eight floor of the factory was a bar where only properly poured Guinness are served along with the best views of Dublin.  This was the perfect end to a long day.


Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 15, 2011

June 13, 2011: Trip to Dublin by Matt Peterson

Today was a very busy day.  The morning started off bright and early when we all met in the lobby of our London residence at 7:15am to begin our journey to Dublin, Ireland.  Despite having a late night the night before, we were all on time and departed to the underground station shortly thereafter.  We then took the underground to Euston Station where we caught an above ground train to the coast to a town called Holyhead.  The train ride took 3.5 hours and brought us to the port where we hopped on a ferry.

Before we saw the ferry we were all skeptical about how large of a boat it would be but it turned out to be massive.  The ferry had an upper deck outside where we could take in the view as you can see in the photo below.  Other items on the ferry included a cafeteria, a bar, slot machines, a movie theatre, poker tables, duty free shops, five different levels of parking, etc. etc. etc.  For most of the journey, some of our group felt the rocking of the boat and decided to nap while the rest of us played a Texas Hold ‘Em Tournament.  The ferry was a great way to get from the UK to Ireland and I bet this will be the preferred method of travel for future study abroad programs.

When we got off the boat we met up with our host and took taxis to our residence for the next few days.  The new residence puts our London residence to shame.  We all have full apartments with full kitchens, living rooms, amazingly comfortable beds, flat screen tv’s with cable, private bathrooms, and tons of space.  After we checked in and put our bags in our rooms we were given a tour of our neighborhood.  Not five minutes into the tour an Irish chap came into the middle of our group and started doing an Irish dance.  Without hesitation Tyler started dancing with the lad right in the middle of the street.  It was at that point that we knew we weren’t in London anymore.  After the tour, half of us went out to experience the Dublin night life and the other half went back home to catch up on some Z’s.

Ferry to Ireland


View from deck of ship


Deck Photo


Sleeping or Sea sick??

Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 14, 2011

June 11-12, 2011: Weekend by Wes Matej

After a well-earned sleep from the eventful week, the group woke up a little later on Saturday. A majority of the group decided to go to The Winston Churchill War Rooms Museum. Because the two major Tube lines were not operating this weekend, the group decided to try the buses for transportation. Once we had gone both direction and 3 wrong buses we finally arrived at the museum. To help every that does not know what the Churchill Museum is; imagine a modern infrastructure of the 1940’s which provided protection for all of Britain’s controls and communications for World War II. The only exterior presentation of the museum is a doorway with a bunker style design that has concrete filled sand bags for walls. Once you walk in, everyone receive devises that talk about most of the rooms and different facts about Churchill. Most of the rooms were left in the exact arrangement they were in when they closed the facility. One of the biggest rooms was dedicated to Churchill’s life. From childhood to his death, many documents, artifacts, and video could be viewed. The rest of the tour consisted of more rooms of the bunker.

After finishing the tour, the group decided to go to the famous Brick Lane. Brick Lane is the most well known Curry area in London. Curry is a type of spice that is used in Indian food. We were recommended to go to Aladdin’s, and we found it about a long walk through markets and streets. The food was an experience of its own. Our waiter helped us through ordering different items and trying new food. The food was not bad, but the dishes had their own tastes not normal to any one in the group; it was an experience to say the least. When we finished eating a couple of us decided to go to a concert to experience the local culture.

Churchill Museum Exhibit





Concert that some of the group attended

Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 13, 2011

We are in Dublin – Monday, May 13th.

We spent the entire day traveling to Dublin, Ireland.  The students are putting together their articles and we will post in the next day or two.

Take Care,


Friday was our last academic day in London. We started out the morning with an hour of classroom time (gasp!) where we wrapped up the details of our London visits.
Per usual, we headed out to catch the tube to the above ground, Waterloo Train Station, which took us to Hampton Court Palace.
Hampton Court Palace is actually two palaces: a Tudor palace, magnificently developed by Cardinal Wolsey and later Henry VIII, alongside a baroque palace built by William III and Mary II (
The students and I enjoyed a two-hour tour that concluded with a visit to the Royal Tennis Court. Our tour guide took us to a live match where the original game was being played. Tennis has been played on this site since 1528 when Henry VIII comissioned the first Real Tennis court. Legend has it that he heard of the execution of Queen Anne Boleyn as he played tennis at Hampton Court Palace (

Later, the group headed back to London for a brief rest and then dinner.  To celebrate our time in London, we decided to eat as a group at the London Hard Rock Cafe.  We waited for over an hour, but I believe it was worth it.  By the ending of the meal, the students were singing along with the Hard Rock television so I assume they enjoyed their meals.

We ended the evening at a stop to one of their favorite pubs.  Being the polite and gracious students that they are, I was invited to join them.  Honestly, it has been a while since I have been out that late with live music and dancing.  I enjoyed visiting with the students and it is sweet to watch how they do look out for one another.  I left early enough to make sure I could catch a train back to my flat (a true sign of my age :).

We depart for Ireland very early Monday morning and will continue from there.  Take Care, Kim.

Train Ride to Hampton Court Palace

Tour with Lesley







Hard Rock Cafe

Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 10, 2011

June 9, 2011: Balfour Beatty and Mansell by Brandon Lawshe

Today we started out the day by meeting at the station so that we could take the tube to Central London and see the construction of the Blackfriars Project by Balfour Beatty. The Blackfriars project will be a key rail route for London. For this project the passenger facilities will go under complete remodeling, while the river bridge from 1886 will be widened and strengthened, with the replacement of all of the steelwork above the main arches.
When we arrived at their office building we were all astonished because their office building was right on the Thames River and overlooked the project. After a presentation we then took a lunch break that Balfour Beatty provided and two representatives from Mansell, a Balfour Beatty Company, came to join us. We could not tour the Blackfriars project because of the compact working quarters, so the Mansell representatives walked us down the street to show us one of the projects they are currently working on.
When we first arrived at their offices, we were given a presentation by Mansell and the Moonraker Alley project. The Moonraker Alley project is a Conrad-Design student hall of residence that will consist of 671 beds and will be ready for occupation in September 2012. In addition there will also be 2500sqm basement space which will provide for parking spaces and a plant room. After hearing the presentations we found out that they had to have an archeological dig before construction. During this dig they found several vases and pots and also cannonballs that dated back to the Victorian Age. After The presentations we then took a tour of the site. There were not a lot of people on site so we were able to walk around the site and go in the basement. After the tour of Moonraker Alley project we headed back to Balfour Beatty where they did a final presentation for us and we said our goodbyes.


Blackfriars Rail Project


Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 9, 2011

June 8, 2011: Tilbury Power Plant by David Freisner

Hello Chaps,
Here is another update from this side of the pond. Our day began with a one and half hour chartered bus ride east to the city of Tilbury, where we visited the Tilbury Power Station. This Coal-Fired Power Plant opened in 1968. Thanks to our lovely tour guides we were able to walk the plant and see exactly how the process works from the arrival of the raw coal to the final stage of transferring the 1000 megawatts of electricity to the power grid. While touring the site we were informed of plans to retrofit this plant to burn a cleaner, renewable biomass fuel. This highly technical system was quite an exciting piece to see.

After departing the power station we stopped for a lovely lunch at a quaint pub name The Worlds End. We enjoyed a feast of traditional delicacies such as fish and chips, roasted chicken and mushy peas and of course Hamburgers! At this point we made our way back to central London for a short break. After some well-deserved R&R, we promptly met at 15 Essex Street for a brief lecture at the Construction Law firm Keating Chambers. During this presentation there was much discussion on delay claims, notice provisions, ethics and lastly proper preventative measures as to avoid litigation. A brief Q&A session provided much clarification on the comparisons between the European legal system and that of the United States. At our lectures conclusion we broke for supper and a pint per the British tradition.

David Freisner


Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 9, 2011

June 7, 2011: Law, Jail and Theater by Trevor Evans

Today we started off by visiting the White and Case law firm. White and Case is an American law firm who has thirty-nine firms in over twenty five countries. We had the pleasure of meeting with the construction sector of White & Case. Christopher Wong started off by discussing how White and Case is involved in construction and engineering on the front end of the projects. He described the importance of the contract and tender stages of the project. The next speaker from White and Case was Ben Mellors who discussed how White and Case also specializes in construction and engineering dispute cases. We learned about the many cases and types of resolution processes they are involved in including arbitration, litigation, and mediation or alternative dispute resolution.

Next, we left the firm and had to literally run through the train station in order to meet with a representative for Skanska. If only we had a video of a bunch of red neck Aggies running through the busy train station…

We finally met up with the Skanska representative at the train station and headed out to the construction site. Skanska is currently building a prison for a private investor.  We were then given a presentation over the project followed by a site tour. It was extremely interesting comparing the construction project in the UK and ones we have back in the states. The prisons in the UK are much nicer than ones we would see back in the states. Each inmate has their own 20″ plasma TV and private bathroom they share with one other person. They also have a computer with limited access to the internet. Overall, the site tour was a great learning experience for us all.

The last event of the night, or so we thought, was attending the play called War Horse. It was a play based in Britain during WW2. The play had life sized horse puppets that were operated by three
men. It was incredible to see and hear how realistic the actors could make the horses appear. It was definitely a cultural experience.

Tired, and in much need of sleep, we then headed back to our apartments for a good night’s rest. Little did we know that a faucet was going to explode in our bathroom around 12:30 a.m.? We then spent the next half hour trying to show what “real construction science majors” we were by fixing the faucet. It was quite hysterical watching the scalding hot water shooting out of the faucet while the group of Aggies tried to precisely assess the situation. It was kind of like the joke that asks how many Aggies it takes to screw in a light bulb. However, our ingenious construction wits finally kicked in and we solved the problem. Nothing like a day in London eh?

Until next time, Thanks and Gigem

Trevor Evans





Posted by: kcarlson1970 | June 8, 2011

June 6, 2011: Hike in Princes Risborough by Douglas Doucette

Today can only be described as a traditional English day. We woke up to find that the nice weather we had been enjoying had turned into what you would expect in London; cold and rainy. Not letting the weather get in the way of the day’s hike, we proceeded by use of the underground and railway system to Princes Risborough. When we arrived in Princes Risborough, we were greeted by Dr. Richard Burt, a fellow Aggie and former assistant dean of the Construction Science Department. Mr. Burt grew up in Princes Risborough and served as our guide for our four and a half hour hike.

We started our hike by stopping by St. Mary’s Church which dates back to the 13th century. After exploring the church grounds, we grabbed supplies for lunch and headed for the English countryside. We worked up a sweat on the initial steep incline on our way into the hills, and suddenly the weather did not seem so cold. Throughout the course of our hike, Mr. Burt pointed out various points of interest including World War I training trenches, the former Oxford University and British Royal Army rifle range, the Prime Minister’s country home, and various other churches. He was also able to answer all of our questions about the area and the UK in general. The extent of his knowledge was truly impressive and we enjoyed his company. After countless miles through the English countryside, we walked back to the train station, said goodbye to Mr. Burt, hopped on the train, and made it home just in time to grab a pint and complete our traditional English Day.


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