Monday, April 27, 2015

The End Grind: Thankfulness Instead of Stress

I've finally arrived at my last week of classes this semester! Students affectionately call this week "Hell Week," because it precedes "Finals Week." Because CJ professors are FANTASTIC (no sarcasm), all of my tests are this week instead of during the actual finals week. As you can imagine, the excitement of going to London in 13 days is mixed with the stress from the week. My "To Do" list looks something like this:

Tuesday: Work, 2 Classes, 2 Meetings, Chi Alpha, Studying
Wednesday: 3 Classes, 1 Exam, Helping with Pursuit Youth, Work, Studying 
Thursday: 2 Classes, 2 Exams, 1 Pre-Departure Meeting (LAST ONE!), RA Duties, Volunteering with the Nearly Naked Mile, Studying
Friday: 2 Classes, 1 Exam, 1 Online Exam, 1 Online Quiz, Work, RLA Event

Most of the time when I say "work" I mean staring at a computer full of numbers for at least 4 hours.

I didn't give this list because I want somebody to feel sorry for me. I just thought I'd make a point that when I say busy, I MEAN busy.

However, in the midst of all of the stress leading up to the end of the grind, I think it's really important to be thankful. I'm going to LONDON in less than 13 days. There are quite a few people who contributed to getting me this far. I would have never gotten this far without help. Instead of looking at my long list of things to do, I keep looking at the list of people who have helped me get to this point in the semester - 13 days away from London!

1. My parents: They encouraged me to give London a try and trust that God would provide the money! I've called them many times crying or stressed throughout the semester and they never get mad - they just listen. I call my mom at least three times a week just to talk. I miss my parents and my family dearly, but I'm thankful for the support and love they provide even though I'm an emotional, annoying pain in the behind!

2. Total Wellness: Even though I complain about my job sometimes, I'm really thankful for a job that allows me to work from 8 hours away. They trust me to not cheat hours and let me work whenever I have time. I've worked until 4 am a few times and they just sigh and smile! When I said I needed hours to help finish funding my trip, my bosses found things for me to do. I seldom tell them I can't do something because my lack of sleep now is totally worth the shopping in London later :)

3. RLA: Without my RA job, I would not have been able to fund my trip! My RA job pays for my room, which frees up some money to pay for my trip. My fellow RAs also provide a fantastic support system! I always have somebody to listen to me when I need to vent or a shoulder to cry on when I'm stressed. They put up with me a lot - God bless their souls!

4. Scholarship Donors: About a fourth of my trip was funded by scholarships. I didn't expect to get any, so I have to thank the scholarship donors and selection committees for giving me a shot!

5. Pursuit Youth Group: Our youth pastor and all of the other leaders are like my encouragement in the middle of the week. No matter how stressed I am, they give me a dose of love and laughter! The youth kids are just the same - they provide many laughs and great stress relief!

These are the people, along with others, who encourage me daily. When I'm stressed this week, I will remember how far I've come. Instead of dwelling on my negative stress, I will remember to be positive and thankful! Besides, I just have to make it through this week - LONDON 13 DAYS AWAY!

Our good looking group of Andrews RAs!
Photo creds to RLA and Billie Knifong

Friday, April 24, 2015

Harry Potter, Hillsong, and Hyenas

In our pre-departure meeting yesterday, Dr. Nobiling encouraged us to make a list of all of the things we really wanted to do while we were in London. As I started to make a list of the things I wanted to do, I realized there were very few things I had my heart set on doing. When I travel, I prefer to just wander and experience London as a whole. I've found that travelling with an agenda just stresses me out! I also figured out whilst making my list that I have a vast span of interests. I came up with three things that I would like to do if at all possible.

1. I want to take a Harry Potter walking tour! I read all seven books in about two weeks in the 7th grade and I fell in love. I've seen all of the movies at least twice. I even had a marathon at the beginning of the semester. I watched all 8 movies in two days. I'm not into the witchcraft or anything, but I love the background stories. I love the sacrifice and the friendships. I want to just walk through some of the areas that they filmed the movies. Just seeing where the movies were filmed is "magic" enough for me!

2. I want to go to a Hillsong London service. For those of you who do not know who Hillsong is - I'm sorry! Hillsong church started in New Zealand in the 70's and has planted hundreds of churches since it started. Hillsong is known best for its music. It's a good bet that most of the worship music you sing in church has been written by Hillsong United. When "Oceans" comes on my Pandora, it's like a full on revival in my shower! One of the London churches is located just a tube ride away from where we are staying. I'm pretty sure this is the one thing on my list that I won't get to do because we have planned tours during service times. In the off chance we don't - I'M GOING! I would not pass up the opportunity to do some serious worship with fellow believers. I may just have to put Oceans on my phone and have a little mini service in my hotel room. For all of my fellow Hillsong lovers, I've posted my favorite!

I claim no rights to this video. All rights to Hillsong United and Youtube.

3. The last thing that I really want to do is go see Lion King in the theatre. I have never been to a professional "broadway" style musical, so I think it would be silly of me not to go when I have the chance! I am going to apologize in advance to whoever sits by me. I know all of the lyrics to all of the songs. And I will be like a kid in a candy store!

As you can see, I have a short list of totally different things that I want to do. I'm hoping that somebody will agree with me and accompany on my adventures!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Comparing British and US Government

Before we leave for London, all of the Justice Studies students going on the trip are encouraged to look into the differences between our Criminal Justice system and that of the UK. Even though our system derived from the British system, there are differences between the two. I won't bore you with the technicalities, but I thought I might give you the highlights of our courts in relations to British courts. I could go into the differences between police and corrections as well, but nobody wants to read a blog that long. I don't fully understand all of the intricacies of the British justice system, but I'm sure I will catch up on my week off between when my classes end and when we leave! (19 Days....) I will share what I know.

One of the main similarities between our two systems is that there are two houses of federal government. We have legislative branch broken into the House of Representatives and the Senate. They have Parliament broken into the House of Lords and the House of Commons. The two houses are meant to help distribute the power. In England, it's meant to distribute the power between the "lords" and the common people. We have a President and they have a Prime Minister. The representatives are elected, just like here in the States.

A huge difference between our systems is that Great Britain has a monarchy. The monarchy dates back centuries and I almost guarantee you that kids learn the names of the different kings and queens just like we had to memorize the different presidents. Our country was formed because the colonists didn't like the monarchy at the time. Now, the monarchy doesn't have major ruling power in the government. Parliament makes the decisions, but the Prime Minister does talk to Queen Elizabeth II to get her input on some things. The monarchy's job is to be the "face" of the government. If the monarch doesn't support something Parliament wants to do, more than likely neither will the people. The monarchy is all about the bloodline - who is related to whom. The monarchy is also where we get our British celebrities - like William and Kate! Aren't they cute?? George is going to be the cutest big brother....

Image courtesy of and Google images

Precedent is a major part of decision making in our system today. I'm sure you can guess where we got it from - the Brits! The British government started using precedent for their court decisions, so we joined the bandwagon. Precedent, for anybody who doesn't know, is when judges or justices base current court cases off of the decisions that previous courts have made. Rights related to privacy, arrest, searches, DNA, trial proceedings, and police conduct all come from precedent. (Trust me - my entire Criminal Procedures class is over rules based on precedent!) Privacy isn't actually a Constitutional right - we just assume we have a right to privacy based on precedent and case law. The "Miranda warnings" weren't actually in the Constitution - the Constitution says nothing about "Miranda" anything. Actually speaking the Miranda warnings doesn't give you rights. Miranda v. Arizona is a case that dictated that police have to warn people they "have the right remain silent" and so forth. The rights actually come from the 5th and 6th Amendments. We have the Miranda warnings because a court decided that police should warn people of specific rights. These Miranda warnings are prime examples of precedent! Aren't you glad the Brits thought of it first? Precedent makes up much of what we view as our "rights" today. We can apply the Constitution to law today because of precedent. Without precedent, we would still be beating confessions out of people! Yikes!

These are just the highlights the significance of the British courts in our own government. I may post later pointing out other differences, but I think these three points help us dip our toes in British government! I think the British system is complicated - of course they've had a few centuries longer to complicate it than we have! Remembering that I just posted about ethnocentrism, I think it's important to keep in mind that one system is not "right" or "wrong." They are just different. Different countries have different methods of governing their countries. Some countries have monarchies, some have dictators, some have democracies, and some don't have any government at all! Speaking of monarchies, I'm just going to leave you with my favorite part of the British monarchy...... Prince Harry is my FAVE!

Image courtesy of and Google images.

Ethnocentrism: Norfolk vs. Norfork

Ethnocentrism is a huge word. I'm like most people - not a fan of the big words. However, the meaning of the word is rather simple. Ethnocentrism is believing that your own culture's ideas, language, and nature are superior to other cultures. Ethnocentrism is present in everyday life, even in the lovely state of Nebraska. To get everyone a bit acquainted with the idea, I've decided to start by giving an example of ethnocentrism in Nebraska.

The question I run into all of the time is how to pronounce Norfolk. I spent most of my life in Norfolk and graduated from Norfolk High School before moving to Omaha. It doesn't matter where I go in Nebraska, I get asked the same question: "Is it NorFORK or NorFOLK." The argument on how to pronounce the name of the small city has been debated since it was named. Everybody has a different explanation. Here's my explanation.

If you grew up in Norfolk or you are friends with generational Norfolkans, you generally pronounce it Nor-FORK. All of my siblings pronounce it this way. My younger siblings were in Norfolk when they learned how to talk. My older brother is friends with people who grew up in Norfolk. The reason people pronounce it this way is because way back when, the postmaster messed up the spelling of the name. It was supposed to be called Norfork because the Northern fork of the Elkhorn river runs right through the town.

HOWEVER, my ethnocentric self chooses to pronounce it NorFOLK. Why? Because THAT'S HOW IT IS SPELLED. I choose to be grammatically correct. I often call my siblings "illiterate" for pronouncing it with the R. I tell everybody who does not live in Norfolk to pronounce it how it is spelled - with the "L."

By now, everybody is probably asking "Where am I going with this? What does it have to do with London?"

Ethnocentrism is pronouncing Norfolk with an L because I think my way of doing it is better than the Norfolkans' way of doing it. When we travel to London, they are going to do many things differently. That's okay. Different cultures have different ideas about how to say words or how to act at the table. The joke Constable Watson made about driving on the "wrong side of the street" it extremely ethnocentric. He joked about how our police officers carry guns and London police officers use words.

The bottom line is - it doesn't matter!! Who CARES how we pronounce Norfolk? Does driving on the left side of the street make Londoners weird? I think not. I think that realizing ethnocentrism is a common problem is important. If we go around London thinking "well that's not how we do it in America," then we will never learn anything new. Being proud of our culture is one thing - dismissing the cultures of other groups is totally different. I plan on embracing the British culture! I'm not going to London to talk about America. I'm going to London to learn about British culture!

In case any of you are still hung up on the Norfolk pronunciation - it's NorFOLK. :)

Image courtesy of and Google Images

Monday, April 13, 2015

Don't Be a Tourist

One of the first things I "googled" after our first pre-departure meeting was "how to not be a tourist in London." My goal when I visit is to not be one of those annoying tourists who carries a big camera and a map while wearing a travel shirt and socks with sandals. When I searched "ways not to be a tourist in London," most of the responses that I received were fairly typical.
  1. Don't mimic everybody's accent
  2. Don't look the wrong way when crossing a street
  3. Don't wear tennis shoes unless you plan to go running
  4. Don't confuse English Football and American Football - not the same thing
  5. Don't confuse chips and crisps. Chips are french fries. Crisps are potato chips
All of these "tips" sound pretty easy. Almost every site that I visited had these five tips in common. However, I found it interesting that most of the sites were aimed at American tourists. I didn't see any tips on "how to not look like an Italian in London" or "how to not look Chinese in London." All of the sites that I found targeted American habits.

American stereotypes are particularly rampant in London. Many times Englishmen refer to their English as "proper English" and ours as "American English." When talking to our constable contact in London, he made a lot of interesting comments. "You all drive on the wrong side of the street. We drive on the right side. Actually the left, but the left is the right side." "All you Americans carry guns." "We will teach you to drink like an Englishmen." All of these comments showed me that Americans are not particularly well thought of in other parts of the world.

One of the main stereotypes that U.S Americans have is that we all carry guns. We think of it as common practice. Politicians have been fighting for years for our right to bear arms. People of the UK see it as strange. Most policemen in London don't even carry guns. Our contact in London, Constable Watson, pointed out that only 10% of police in London are even certified to carry a gun. Not all of those few who are certified carry a gun. It isn't common practice.

Another common stereotype of US Americans is that we eat hamburgers all the time. Don't get me wrong - bacon cheeseburgers made by my dad are my favorite. However, most Brits don't realize that we also have diverse food options. Not all areas have twelve different ethnic food restaurants. In Chadron, we have one Chinese place and two Mexican food places. Our bigger populations have a huge diversity of food choices. I know an area of Omaha where you can get Moroccan, Japanese, and Mexican food right in the same block.

A different stereotype that Americans have is that we all drive everywhere. In some areas of the country, this is totally true. Sometimes I drive to a friend's house that is two blocks away. Americans have great pride in driving and their cars. However, some areas of the United States don't allow for lots of driving. Huge cities like Los Angeles and New York use more public transportation than cars. It's much faster to take a subway than to deal with 9am traffic. More rural areas just don't have those options.

The last stereotype that I noticed came up in all of my "googling" is that Brits think Americans are really loud. True story. I can't even defend that one. We like to be loud and love to give our opinions. I will remember to use my "inside voice" while I'm in London.

I can't say that I regret searching the internet for ways to avoid looking like a tourist. I like to think of myself as cultured. I'm proud of being an American, but I don't need to advertise that I'm a traveler who could be easily pick-pocketed! I will remember to keep my voice down and leave my favorite "Nebraska Cornhuskers" sweatshirt at home! I can't guarantee that I won't put on my English accent every once and awhile..... Wish me luck on "not looking like a tourist!"

Video courtesy of "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" and Youtube.
I claim no rights to this video. All rights to Disney.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Let the Journey Begin!

Welcome to my blog! I'm glad you've decided to follow me as I explore the lovely city of London. I'm quite excited and have been counting down the days until we fly out - exactly 28 days from today! I figured before I start right into telling you about my trip, I should let you know a little bit about me. 

My name is Brittnie Wedel. I am currently a junior at Chadron State College. My major is Criminal Justice and I have an emphasis in Corrections. I only have one year left until I graduate - exciting stuff! I call Omaha, Nebraska home. My family moved there right before I graduated from Norfolk High, so I moved when I finished my obligations in Norfolk. Now we enjoy the beautiful city of Omaha and all of the shopping! I love the city and the busy atmosphere. I just left my job working at one of the biggest Hy-vee's in the country to work at a small health company. I have one older brother (Erik), one younger brother (Jakob), and one younger sister (Lyndsie). We live with our parents who are still happily married. I absolutely adore my family, so I may mention them in later posts as I see things that remind me of them! By the time I finally fly home, I will not have seen my family for seven weeks - a long time for somebody who loves being with her family!

This picture is my family in our finest form! 
Photo Creds: Karin Pruess

Now that you have a little background on me, I should probably tell you about this trip. The Justice Studies Department sponsors a fourteen day trip to London every summer as part of two courses. Justice Studies students can take the course for up to six credits, or two classes. Cross Cultural Studies covers one of my Essential Studies (Gen. Eds) requirements and Comparative CJ covers one of my major graduation requirements. The students who are going have to attend pre-departure classes and give a cultural presentation. We are also required to do a photo journal. Our last requirement is to do a blog. We have certain topics that we have to cover before, during, and after our trip. These posts generally cover specific topics, so they may not be quite as entertaining as the ones I just write to update. I promise to keep them as entertaining as possible so that you don't get bored! As we get closer to the trip, I can give you more details about where we are going and what we are doing. That is for another post!

One last thing - my title! This blog is named London and a Latte because I will probably ALWAYS have some form of coffee when I am writing my posts. I am a coffee addict and I may be more pumped about experiencing London coffee shops than the castles. Besides - alliteration is always eye-catching!

That's all I've got for you right now! Thank you for taking an interest in my Study Abroad experience. I look forward to updating you as I take my journey!