A Trip to the NorthEuropean Union, Spring 2011

We just got back from our third and last week long field study trip run by IES.  For the last trip we could choose between three places to go: North (London, Stockholm, Tallinn Estonia), South (Rome, Madrid, Barcelona), and Southeast (Athens, Bucharest Romania, Sophia Bulgaria).  I picked the North trip because I had never been to London before and I was interested in what life in Sweden was like.

Here are a few of my impressions:

London

  • It was really nice being back in a country that spoke English
  • We were there for three days and that was definitely not enough time to explore the city.  I didn’t get to go to half the things I wanted to see
  • You really do need to be careful of cars that drive on the opposite side of the road… I almost got killed a couple of times for looking the wrong way

Stockholm

  • Stockholm is a very beautiful city but do not go in the Winter/Spring, it was too cold to do many of the outdoor things I wanted to do
  • One of our meetings was at Ericsson Headquarters.  It was definitely one of the highlights of the program. Some of the technology out there is really amazing
  • I’m starting to question how socialist Sweden really is.  Americans call it socialism, but due to the presence of private enterprise that runs the systems, is it really that socialist?

Tallinn

  • Tallinn is the capital of Estonia.  I had very little expectations for the city because I had never really heard anything about Estonia.  I actually liked it more than Stockholm
  • It was extremely cold and snowed (in April!) but we got a good sense of the people who live there.  As part of the program we went on a photo scavenger hunt and had to talk to the locals.  They were so nice and welcoming
  • Estonians were extremely impressed with US drivers licenses.  If you ever want to start a conversation with an Estonian, pull out your drivers license.

Overall, it was my favorite trip out of the three (the first two were Berlin/Prague and Frankfurt/Brussels/Paris.  There was a really good balance between free time and meetings and the meetings we had were interesting and different.

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