Wales: Thatcher and the Coal Miners

From October 13-14th, I traveled to Wales where I explored many historical sites such as Tintern Abbey, Caerphilly Castle, and one of the last Welsh coal mines. I was part of a tour that was able to descend about ninety meters underground into the mines. We had to wear a helmet with a light on the top, like you would see in a movie, as well as an oxygen mask in case the chemical levels rose too high while we were down there. The mines and their inner workings, when they were open, was described by a former miner. The miner gave us a history of the mine and subjects ranging from the horses that were transported and lived underground to the children who were employed to open and close oxygen shielding doors.

One major piece of history not mentioned by the miner was Margaret Thatcher. Thatcher was the conservative Prime Minister for the UK from 1979-1990. Not only the first female prime minister in the UK, but a stark believer in conservative spending policies with economic aims: the control of inflation, mass privatization of state-owned industries, reduction of direct taxes with the increase in indirect taxes, and to limit the power of the unions. In the early 1980’s, the cost of paying the miners far outpaced the output of the mines. The Coal Authority released a graph detailing the fall in output with an extreme rise in employees. (See graph)

If the number of miners was to be taken out of the graph, one would see that the output was still gradually decreasing over the years with no large spikes in productivity. This was largely due to the “easy to reach” coal being used up and the process of getting the coal that was deeper underground was both more difficult and dangerous. Margaret Thatcher saw these falling numbers and, in order to decrease the massive deficit, ordered that a majority of the mines would be shut down.

Naturally, the miners, although aware of the failing and weakening of the industry, led by Arthur Scargill, pushed for a massive, nationwide strike. As leader of one of the coal unions, he decided to call for and thereby order a strike which, according to the policies of the miners, was against the rules. Nevertheless, the miners agreed, and a strike was carried out. Mrs. Thatcher was ready for the strike and, in anticipation, had stockpiled mass amounts of coal. The strikes lasted for a year until the unions conceded and Mrs. Thatcher was victorious. Her government used several methods to close the mines (i.e. pouring cement, using explosives to cause a collapse, etc.)

As a historian, I found this trip to be a fantastic learning experience. I was so lucky to have been able to go into the mines and see what the workers faced day in and day out. I went in knowing only Mrs. Thatcher’s arguments but came out with a stark contrast as I heard the perspective of the miners. I must say that, in the end, I do agree with Mrs. Thatcher’s decision as it made sense, but I would not have been able to come to this decision had I not visited and learned from the mines. My trip to Wales and my descent into the mines was one that I will never forget and one that I will teach my future students!

-Danny Ginchereau

 

Greetings & Tips from London

Greetings from across the pond!!

My name is Sarah Cook and I am studying abroad in London at St. Mary’s University this semester with one of my best friends, Danny Ginchereau!

Time has absolutely flown by — I can’t believe that we are a little more than half way done with the semester here. The entire study abroad experience thus far has been incredible. I am so glad that I seized the opportunity to go abroad before I graduate in the spring!

Here are some tips/suggestions/initial thoughts that I’ve come up with if you’re thinking about going abroad during your college career:

  • Don’t be afraid to be a tourist!!! Go to as many tourist spots as you can and don’t be afraid to take pictures. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the less touristy spots and find the hidden gems that your city/country has to offer.
  • Travel as much as you can! Plan ahead and rank the countries that you want to visit. Chances are you won’t be able to hit every country on your list (I certainly won’t) but by ranking your top countries/cities, you will have an easier time planning trips and making sure that your most anticipated travel locations become an actuality. Plan your top place first!
  • If you’re studying abroad in England, try to find a flight that doesn’t have a layover in Ireland (trust me, you’ll save yourself from a headache going through customs).
  • Try to find a close group of friends! As obvious as this sounds, this is super important! I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the group of friends I made. It’s essential to have people to travel with, go to dinner with, explore with, and just hang out with. It makes missing home a lot easier if you surround yourself with people who are in a similar situation as you.
  • Classes here (at least at my university) are a lot easier with a significantly smaller work load than back at GCU. So if you think you won’t have time to explore and travel because of school work, trust me you will!
  • Step outside of your comfort zone!! Going abroad is an opportunity to do things that you normally wouldn’t be able to do! Try the different traditional foods that your country has to offer. Embrace the new and different culture that you are immersed in!!

That’s it for now!! I’ll keep you all posted!!

Sarah 🙂

Holistic Health takes on Ireland 🍀

Hello everyone 👋🏾 ! Here are some pictures of our awesome group at various locations in Ireland either toning, meditating or having a great time. It’s an amazing feeling to travel with such a great group of people!

Pleasant Surprise 💚

We were surprised with an awesome and calming horse ride to Ross Castle in Killarney. Soon after a boat ride to a sacred island called Innisfallen Island. This was an island of peace and seclusion. We spent a great amount of time toning and meditation here . We even got a chance to write in your journals .

Reflections of Germany

“After my first trip to Germany, I feel much more enlightened about the country. We visited two major cities, Munich & Berlin, and I’m grateful we spent enough time in each to truly appreciate their rich cultures and histories, as well as the differences between the two.

Berlin has deep rooted WWII connections that are prevalent throughout the city. It is clear that Berlin is also continuously evolving into a more trendy city. The city is attracting more millennials, and exuding a youthful vibe while still respecting the history of the city by paying homage in distinct and non traditional ways.

Munich on the other hand was a much more traditional city. Rich with history, but history that dates back ages. I learned that the “German Beer” that we hear so frequently about in America is mostly a Bavarian specialty, with high prevalence in Munich especially. Munich has traditional Bavarian Biergartens, historic & lively city centers, as well as beautiful landscapes such as the English Garden.

Overall, the time we spent in Germany touring the cities as well as visiting a few very different businesses, has given me a pretty complete picture of life in the country. From differences in business customs, to the social nuances, this trip provided me with a different perspective & appreciation of not only German culture, but the relative American culture as well”

-Angela Giordano

“Visit, experience, enjoy and cherish”.  Entire trip was wonderful from start to finish.

-Ken Ward

“As someone who has never traveled outside of the United States, this was definitely an experience and a time I will never forget. The beautiful sites of Munich and Berlin, along with the amazing people in our group truly made this trip. After the long hot days of touring the grounds of Germany’s historical sites and trademarks we all enjoyed dinners together where we reflected on our days and shared many many laughs. We gained more knowledge, friendships, and most importantly memories.”

-Caitlin Murphy

Munich to Berlin: “ Once in a lifetime experience. Loved learning the culture, business practices both in corporate and entrepreneurial aspects in real estate. The added bonus was making new friends to move forward with. I highly recommend this to any student looking for adventure and experiencing something out of there comfort zone.”

-Chris Jarahian

“Germany was truly an experience of a lifetime. It took me a few days to actually believe I was exploring a different country. Walking the cities of Munich and Berlin, being able to learn the German culture, the different tastes of food, and learning so much history, it was truly memorable. Being back at home, I realized how much more I appreciate Germany and all the memories I made there with great people by my side.”

-Courtney Marcucci

Headed home!

Sunday morning we were all packed and ready to go to catch our flight back home! But our flight “unfortunately” got cancelled, so we stayed in Berlin for just one more day! After a stressful morning, we finally got settled into a hotel and we were able to relax the rest of the day, with one more final dinner together as a group.

Monday morning we finally headed home! As sad as we were to say goodbye to Germany, we all made great memories together and will truly be missed, but we are happy to be back home.

Companies in Berlin

Along with Amazon and 3YourMind, we met with two other companies called Bold and KPM.

KPM is the Royal Porcelain Factory in Berlin. We got to see original pieces and learn the process of how everything is made. I️t was very inspiring to see so many unique pieces.

Bold is a PR and marketing agency which is currently located in Berlin, Germany and Los Angeles, California. They elevate different brands through PR, social media, and events.

No Sleep, No Problem

I cannot believe we are already completed DAY FOUR of Ireland. To be fair, days one and two were combined into one long 48 hour day with approximately four hours of sleep. Side note: Aer Lingus has some tasty food!

On the first/second day – lets call it “fecond” we started off at Lough Tae on our way to Glendalough. Lough Tae was one of the most beautiful sites I have ever seen. It’s glasslike appearance and ombré color gives the impression of the infamous Guinness Glass. Refer to: below.

Here, the seven of us and our tour guide participated in a “Grounding” led by our leader, Sophia. She helped us not only get in touch with nature and one another, but also ourselves. It was very powerful and special, as we could all feel the energy within each other.

Next, we arrived at Glendalough to experience the crystal forest. If you believe, you might find a few fairies hiding within the quartz. The hike up to the forest was a short one, but a tad steep, so my legs were definitely feelin’ the burn.

The highlight of Glendalough for me was when I found a white quartz in the shape of New Jersey. I hadn’t even realized it until after I took the picture.

However, we also got to feel the energy spiraling around the round tower, and in the crystal forest.

Again, Stephanie led a lovely ceremony using a maraca and drum to help us become one with the earth and its core. It was peaceful and moving, and once we were done, we cleansed our feet in the stream of water that flowed beneath us. The days were already more spiritual than I had imagined, and I was loving every moment!

At night, we walked around Dublin to explore the city. It was absolutely stunning! The colors, the lights, the people, the pubs, the everything. It was so quaint and charming.

Plus, I got to have my first Guinness, Kahlua coffee, and gelato of the trip. Hoping they weren’t my last either (they weren’t because I’ve continued to have a Guinness any chance I get).

Yesterday, which was day three, was my favorite day so far. It was the 25,000 step and calorie tour of Dublin. We started at the Mercy International Center, where we had a lovely and sweet tour guide named Sister Carita. She explained to us the history of the house and Katherine McCauley. As I said in my first post, this brave woman built the house in a wealthy area of Dublin to help, as well as educate, those in need.

After non-stop salivating from the delicious homemade scones and tea we received, we headed to the National Museum of Ireland. There was so much history that we could all feel it. It is known that when you first walk into the museum, under the dome is high energy. Sophia and the other group leader, Jeff, said their heads were spinning! Inside the museum, there were lots of interesting pieces that held a lot of meaning, stories, and emotions behind them. My favorite were the gold necklaces!

Once we left the museum, we went to the Book of Kells at Trinity College. The Long Hall was the highlight. The sunlight hit the books just perfectly, so that they appeared gold.

The next stop, we had the option of the Gallery of Ireland or the Guinness Storehouse. Being the 26-year-old that I am, I went with Guinness. It was the best decision of my life, and one of the coolest things I had ever seen. No tour guide is necessary to learn all there is about Guinness, its ingredients, process, advertisements, history, etc. Plus, the tour ended with a free pint and option to enjoy it in their 365 degree view of Dublin.

Because one Guinness wasn’t enough, we went on a pub crawl that we booked through our hostel. It was so fun to see the varieties of bars and meet interesting people from all over the world!

Today, we woke up early to leave for Boyne. We saw New Grange and Knowth. These sacred “tombs,” which is in question on what they are actually for, are covered with symbols drawn on rocks from other rocks. These rocks weigh tons, and were all placed so that they could never be removed. Although we were originally told the sacred places were 5,000 years old, it is more likely that they are up to 11,000 years old.

New Grange

Knowth

Once we left Boyne, we went to another place in Slane called Hills of Tara. Here, there were two tall hills, both with high energy. We chanted “om” as we meditated in a circle and felt the energy brought about by the stone that stood tall in the center of one hill.

The night ended at the Slane Castle for dinner, which was absolutely “grand,” as my fellow Irish would say. Can’t wait for the next adventure tomorrow!

Xx, Kelsey

Days Six Through Eight

We might have been in Berlin for a short period of time, but our days were filled with lots of touring! From the Berlin Wall to Check Point Charlie and to the Humboldt Universitaet. We learned a lot of history and although some parts of Berlin were a bit sad, it was definitely memorable as we walked the streets of world history.

While our trip to Germany has now come to an end, we had our Farewell dinner as a group with our tour guide Franziska. We would like to thank her for being an intricate part of this amazing experience we all will never forget. It’s truly been an experience of a lifetime!