Europe of our Dreams! “What one learns in a classroom is just a very small part of learning process. The real learning starts when one crosses borders and travels miles to get knowledge” The students of Alpha Arts Academy and Economics Club Mumbai had this wonderful opportunity of crossing the borders and travelling miles! We embarked on the trip of our lifetime on 1st of May 2018, an Indian delegation of 50 students and 6 professors, to visit some of the top most universities of the world.
Visit to Shakespeare Birth Place- Stratford- Upon- Avon
Day 1: Our tour commenced with a trip to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich Village where we witnessed the mysteries of timekeeping unfold before us. It is famous as the location of the “Prime Meridian” from which we get our Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), the mean solar time which is kept by the clock at the Royal Observatory! Though the scientific work of the observatory is relocated elsewhere, this site now serves as a museum.
Travelling through time we arrived at our next stop, Canary Wharf, London's financial centre! If the Royal Observatory in Greenwich was tucked in medieval time, this newly developed global financial centre was the best example of modern architecture and engineering. A two hour long walking tour conducted by our guide Mark took us on a fascinating journey to discover the 17th century origins of Canary Wharf, the biggest banking and insurance institutions in the world.
Jet lagged and tired yet full of excitement we took refuge in Indian YMCA at Fitzroy Square London which was to be our home away from home for next 5 days.
Our students with senior faculty members of University of London
Day 2: After the modern skyscrapers and traffic of the London city (much like Mumbai), the quaint small town of Cambridge was a sight to our eyes! Gothic architecture, cobbled streets, and lush green landscapes welcomed us in one of the oldest campus universities of the world.
Our day began with a tour of the university followed by an interactive session with Prof. Toke Aidt, Reader Dept of Economics at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, who made a presentation on Studying in Cambridge with emphasis on the admission process for Indian students. We also met with Prof. Jochen Runde, Director of Faculty Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, for academic guidance and discussed about academy and non academic skills required to study in Cambridge, one of the prestigious universities of the world.
Executive Director Olivier Guillet speaking to our students at “SciencesPo” -School of Management and Innovation- PARIS
Day 3: “Just to travel is rather boring, but to travel with a purpose is educational and exciting” and when it comes to travel, education and excitement there is nowhere else like London!
Third day of our trip was all about the University of London and its colleges. We strolled along the streets of London walking past its colleges and museums. An interactive session with Dr James Abdey, Assistant Professorial Lecturer, Dept of Statistics, London School of Economics, Dr. Lynne Roberts, Director, International Foundation Programme, University of London, Dr. Mary Stiasny, Pro Vice Chancellor University of London, Dr Chris New, Deputy Head, International Foundation Programme and Dr Chris Jenney, Head of Teaching Institutions helped us understand the pre and post admission procedures and criteria.
We were then welcomed in one the topmost colleges of London University, SOAS (School of Oriental and African Studies). Here too we were acquainted with the admission procedures and had fun interacting with the Mr Mark Coddington International Officer, Marketing and Students Recruitment Officer and Dr Satoshi Miyamura, Senior Lecturer Dept of Economics.
After a seminar at SOAS London ( School of Oriental and African Studies)
Day 4: Forth day of our tour held our dreams, aspirations and more! We toured along the countryside of England and arrived in Oxford: the city of dreaming spires and the essence of England. We proceed to Corpus Christi College University of Oxford to meet with Dr Alex Pryce, an international scholar and the Head of Under-graduate admissions and International Outreach Programme at University of Oxford. After a short presentation on “studying in Oxford”, she showed us around the city. We walked the picturesque cobbled lanes awed by the architectural beauty and history of the city.
After grabbing a quick bite, we proceeded to Stratford-Upon-Avon, a market-town of Anglo-Saxon origins in the county of Warwickshire, England. It is the birthplace of English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. We visited the writer’s Tudor-Era house that is now turned into a museum.
On our way back we drove through quintessential Cotswold. Rolling hills and sleepy villages of the English countryside passed by our windows as our tired and overwhelmed minds contemplated “to be or not to be”...Such a surreal day!
Dr. Toke Aidt with our students at Jesus College, University of Cambridge, London
Day 5: Our last day in London set us out for a journey through the streets of the city. A guided tour of the city took us around some historic monuments, cultural areas and places of political admiration. A tour of the famous London Eye and a cruise of the River Thames made us fall in love with London (i.e. if we weren’t already). How can we visit London and miss out on the magical world of Harry Potter! Our guides David and Eleanor took us to places which inspired the author JK Rowling and where some shots of the movie were filmed.
A visit to Basilique du Sacre Coeur de- Paris
Day 6: Across the English Channel we travelled towards Paris, the City of love and Dreams! Checking into the ibis Hotel Paris La Villette Cite des Sciences, we retired to a quiet evening and explored the neighbouring streets and canals on foot.
Students in a cycle tour at Amsterdam
Day 7: After a hearty French breakfast we were fused with new found energy to shop. And shop, we did! We explored the streets of Paris and walked past The Palais Garnier (Opera House), the famous Louvre Museum, Galerie de Lafayette and other buildings of historical and cultural importance.
We visited The Paris Institute of Political Studies or more commonly known as Sciences Po as part of our efforts to find young Indians world class educational and career opportunities. We met with Dr Oliver Guillet, Executive Director of Sciences PO School of Management and Innovation, who gave us an insight into the various courses taught by the Institute and related admission procedures. We met with Indian students (Sharan Bannerjee and Shreya Parikh) studying there and they shared with us their experiences of studying in a foreign country. We then proceeded to the most expensive street of the world, Champs Elysees! Strolling on the avenue, we ate some classy and authentic French cuisine.
Students in a cycle tour at Amsterdam
Day 8: A full day City tour with our guide Kiko took us on a journey to experience the history and culture of Paris. Our first stop was Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (Basilique du Sacre-Couer) situated on the top of an isolated hill Montmartre, primarily known for its artistic history. Our next stop was Catherdrale Notre Dame de Paris. The cathedral is widely considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. We were lucky enough to stumble upon a “Bread Festival” near Notre Dame.
Our next stop got us to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Need I say more? Yes, the Eiffel Tower! The view from the 2nd floor was enchanting and intoxicating. We sipped hot coffee and ate macaroons while looking over the splendid city. A peaceful river cruise over the Seine concluded our perfect day.
Day 9: For last leg of our trip we visited Amsterdam! After checking into our Hostel ClinkNOORD, Amsterdam we hurried to visit the Ann Frank Museum. The Ann Frank House at Prinsengracht 263 in Amsterdam is where she lived in hiding with her family for more than two years during World War II. Now converted into a museum it contains a sobering exhibition about the persecution of the Jews during the war, as well as discrimination in general. Humbled by the Museum, we set to explore Amsterdam on foot. The bustling streets of the city soared our spirits and we enjoyed the local food and culture.
Day 10: Netherlands is one of the world's few nations which is making every efforts to make its environment free of pollution. Everyone uses bicycle in this country to reduce carbon emission. We too took a city tour on bicycles! We cycled downtown towards the northern dijks (dikes) and delved into Holland’s historical past. We visited a local cheese and clog making factory just outside of the city and feasted on the wonderful countryside of Amsterdam (though only for a few minutes).
Day 11: And the day came when we had to say 'Good Bye' to all the three beautiful countries. All the University visits and educational city tours have inspired us. This unique and inspiring initiative was taken by The Economics Club Mumbai in association with Alpha Arts Academy along with Mumbai's top educational tour company 'Happy Miles'.
Veni Vidi Amavi (We came, We saw, We loved)
Ms. Ashwini Nawathe - A Lawyer turned Researcher and Lecturer in History, Heritage Walk Leader and Blogger
The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education. - Martin Luther King, Jr.