A “Surreal Spring Break”


FOCUS Learning Community travelers with their London Walks‘ guide after completing the Harry Potter tour (near Millennium Bridge in the photo).

During Spring Break 2017, 38 students traveled to London for a week exploring the culture, the impact of traveling, and identity. The week included multiple walking tours from London Walks, a day trip to Windsor Castle, Stonehenge, and Bath, and forays into the National Gallery, British Museum, Tate Modern, and Cabinet War Rooms among other activities. Find out what some of the travelers learned along the way.

By India “Ingrid” Alexander ’19 | FOCUS Community Leader | Ignite Peer Mentor |Performance Studies Major | College of Liberal Arts

As someone who had never traveled farther than central Texas, I was extremely nervous to be leaving Texas, my family and other friends while going overseas. The farthest I’d ever gone was Galveston before London, so imagine my surprise when I found out I was one of the few applicants who was able to go to London. This post will be my experience mixed intermittently with the opinions and experiences of the other Aggies who traveled with me.

Day 1: March 9th

Looming travel bans and airline strikes accelerated our departure time from campus. We gathered at 8 am to board our bus to Houston to catch our flight that afternoon.


LAUNCH London Travelers Spring Break 2017 at departure


Tracks at Gloucester Road, our home station.

Day 2: March 10th


Sandra Bernal ’17 (one of the trip leaders as well as a Community Leader for Focus) had taken a picture of our first (and arguably hardest) first encounters: The tubes.

“I learned that conquering the simplest things can be the most difficult.”

Jasmine Arambula ’18, my roommate during the trip had an amazing picture to iterate what she experienced on our second day of the trip, she said:

 “On March 10th, we went to Piccadilly Circus and walked around the area. I took this picture outside of a bookstore. It was the first United States related thing I had seen since traveling to London. I was shocked and taken aback when I saw the display because it made me realize just how other countries and its people view us. This experience was the beginning of when my view as a U.S. traveler began to change. In order to fully take in the culture of another country, I had to completely understand that the United States is not the “perfect country” that we make it out to be. Every country has its flaws and we can all learn from one another when it comes down to policy, politics, society, and so forth. This helped me broaden my view as a world traveler, and it helped me remain open minded throughout the trip and onward.”

Day 3: March 11th

Quan Huynh ’18, who tends be a man of a few words gave me two pictures to describe his day:

“A simple building on the side of a street can be the next Hogwarts in somebody’s outgoing novel.”


Our Aggies found a big “Gig’Em” on the 4th Plinth in Trafalgar Square.

Day 4: March 12th

Hayley Henry ’19, a past mentee, had her picture taken at the National Gallery (which was amazingly beautiful) and had this to say about this day of our trip,

 “The day we visited the British I gained a better sense of culture. There were so many artifacts from all over the world that were fascinating. That day I also visited Camden Market and discovered so many stores and food. I tried Dutch pancakes for the first time and it honestly changed by life. (This picture is from the National Gallery because I didn’t take a picture at the British Museum.)”

Day 5: March 13th

I didn’t have anyone offer up anything for this day, so this entry will be from yours truly. We went to Windsor Castle along with Stongehenge and the lovely city of Bath. As a clasical studies minor with a concentration in Roman studies,

The Roman Baths at Bath.

Bath was my favorite part. The beautiful architecture is so iconic of the Roman’s handiwork as engineers and also of how far their exploits really took them. My picture is the image of a well preserved Roman bathhouse. They believed that with the help of Sulis-Minerva the water of the bath house would cure all ailments.

Day 6: March 14th

Arianna Izaguirre ’19, one of the past mentees in our Learning community gave us this really beautiful insight on how she saw the nightlife in a different country.

“The London night atmosphere, like any place, is a different experience. There’s a different ambiance in the air in which one can detect excitement, laughter and a little bit of danger. No one is going to work. There’s no rush. People are heading off to dinner with friends and family, off to pubs for a few drinks, and then there’s me, an excited tourist soaking up as much of London as I can.

I quickly learned through my night experience of London that going out of my comfort zone is the way to grow. I was skeptical the entire time exploring a new place at night. I felt like I was going to be mugged, but I couldn’t let that fear and the want of being safe in my hotel keep me from experiencing the world. It’s okay to feel a little suspense every now and then and it’s okay to be afraid, but never let that hinder your sense of adventure. The Buckingham Palace had a whole different experience during the day and I’m glad I went. “


Everyone’s Here – Student Trip Leaders before departure: Wyatt Trinidad ’17, Hailey Duncan ’17, Sandra Bernal ’17, and Valerie Ortega ’18.

Day 7: March 15th
(last day in London)

The last day of the trip was extremely crazy (a few of us were late waking up) and my picture is not from the last day, but it is a reflection of how blessed I was to have been able to travel with such a great group of people to what felt like a whole new world.

Day 8: March 16th

Our return flight and bus back to campus consumed this entire day.

Ingrid Alexander ’19 originally published about the 2017 Spring Break International Immersion Experience for FOCUS Learning Community students on her own site at Surreal Spring Break.

A second group of 38 learning community students traveled the same week to Paris. Their stories will be shared in another post.


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