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Day 5 in London

By London

Its already been four days since our arrival in London, and it has been incredible. Today has been one of the busiest days that I’ve had so far. I got to explore London’s nightlife, visit the Tower of London, and go to the theater to watch the Book of Mormon all in one day.

It started with the midnight celebration of my roommate Gisselle’s birthday. Jorge, Veronica and I thought that it would be a good idea to celebrate by visiting one of the clubs in the Soho District. The club that had originally been decided on was DSTRKT and, at the time, we did not know that we would not be able to get in. The four of us decided to take a cab and on the way, Jorge asked the driver about the different clubs that he liked to visit. One of the ones that he mentioned was Tiger Tiger, which happened to be around the corner from DSTRKT. Tiger Tiger was where we ended up and had a great time.

On our official itinerary, the Tower of London was planned for today. The Tower is famous for the many executions that happened throughout the years in London’s history. Today, it holds the exhibition the Crown Jewels and a tour of the history of the Tower. The Crown Jewels exhibition was fascinating as there was real pieces of many of the ancient English monarchs. Some of the swords and scepters date back as far as the early 1500s. Some of Queen Elizabeth II jewels were on display as well showing how old traditions are still important today. Near to the Tower of London is Tower Bridge. Gisselle, Mckenzie and I walked to the bridge and got a really good view of The Shard, which is the tallest building in London. The final activity of the day was to watch the play, The Book of Mormon. I had never seen it but I had heard of it.  It was one of the best performances I have ever seen. It was hilariously satirical, pointing out credibility of the Mormon Church, and the faith and doubt of people.

Today was a great day, from the club to the Book of Mormon. I can’t wait for the rest of the adventures that are waiting for us here in London!

Good Times! Good vibes! Day 5

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Day breaks and I can honestly say I’m in one of my top favorite places in the world – from the historical architecture, to the diversity. Who wouldn’t fall in love with a city where princes and princesses are actually a thing?

We got to  explore the tourist side of London on Monday, and boy did I explore! I have reached pedometer goals to show for it. On Monday 37,000 steps were made;  yesterday, only 28,000. Double rewards are happening, touring and my daily cardio coexist.

Traveling is vital for my existence and although taking tours are amazing, I truly feel alive experiencing a place like a local. So I love to ask people from here for recommendations.   I have been steered by British college students towards indulging in the true essence of London on a budget and like a college student by going to  areas like Brixton Market, to explore London Caribbean culture, or Piccadilly Circus to explore London’s nightlife.

Monday night I went to Harrods. It was nirvana! To see all the super luxury  brands housed together was like candy at a candy store. I cannot afford a majority of the brands offered but talk about motivation. We experienced  true luxury brands of the world, signed Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed’s memorial – transcribing my existence  at that location – and creating a shopping wishlist well over my annual income.  Later, we headed off to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. This place  seriously puts fairs back home to shame!

As for yesterday, it seemed like a blur because my feet were starting to feel tourist fatigue.  I was not going to let that stop me from getting my full experience. Mind over matter, gel inserts, and a rewarding foot soak with a nice cup of peppermint tea is all I needed.

Today is Wednesday and I just came from watching the “Book of Mormon.”  It was absolutely  amazing. Broadway has a special sentiment for me. It was once my life’s  passion to pursue theater and still remains in my childhood memories.

I am honestly most grateful that I get to experience  this with awesome people — all like-minded and super outgoing. They’re from all diverse groups and backgrounds, but the common denominator that we all share makes this the most cohesive trip I’ve ever been on.   My London story is still being written, and I plan to create amazing memories with amazing people. Also this trip  has made me realize the global opportunities of hospitality and how the world is my oyster.


Tuesday, December 16th, 2014 (Day 4)

By London

“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.” I spotted this quote in the tube during our travels and found it to be simple, but so true.

I’ve been enjoying myself in London, so far, exploring all I can. The site visits and tours we have gone on have all been so enlightening and informative. Every day is a new adventure.  Today, it was another frigid morning as we headed towards Westminster Abbey. We met our tour guide, Joanne Lee, and began our visit to one of the world’s most renowned churches.

As beautiful as it was outside, the inside of the church was unexplainable. Some of the most famous political and religious leaders, as well as soldiers and influential authors, have memorials or lay resting in tombs inside Westminster Abbey. The tour gave me a new appreciation for history unlike any I had in the classroom. Seeing these sites firsthand and hearing the stories helped make the history come to life.

After the tour, we were given some free time to explore Westminster. Lindsey and I decided to head in the opposite direction we had explored the day before and walked toward the London Eye. As we were crossing the bridge, we couldn’t help but snap a dozen selfies and photos of Big Ben. Reminded by our stomachs, we left in pursuit of a McDonalds; however, we ended up finding a unique café called Akuna Matata: Enough to Feed an Elephant. We both indulged in chicken nuggets, “chips,” and baked beans until we felt sick (our preference to fish and chips). We also grabbed a huge muffin for the following morning, knowing good and well that we would not have time for breakfast.

After lunch, we bagged a few souvenirs at the stand next door and started our walk back towards the meeting spot. On our way, we found a hidden ruby slipper. We eventually met back up with the group and headed to the Fuller’s Griffin Brewery. By this time, most of the group was exhausted, but the tour was still interesting and informative. The biggest plus was the free beer, of course.

Our day concluded with dinner at Salisbury Pub. We enjoyed our three course meal with a few drinks and good conversation.

These experiences, thus far, have enlightened me to a culture similar to ours of the U.S., but completely different at the same time. Who would have known breaking a scone at high tea is impolite? Learning about London’s history and heritage has given me the ability to understand a whole new part of the world.

Day 3 in London!

By London

I absolutely love London! This is my first time in Europe and I couldn’t have picked a better time to visit. The weather is perfect and Christmas decorations around the city make everything better.

We had an early day today, our tour guide Florence met us in the hotel lobby at 10am. We took the tube to our first industry visit, Pure Events. Pure Events is an event planning company run by Charlotte Wilson. She started the business in 2004 and has successfully built it into a £3 million business. She answered all our questions on trends in the event planning business and on the differences between UK events and American events.

Our next stop on the itinerary was a walking tour of Westminster. It was amazing! We saw Big Ben, Westminster Abby, and Buckingham Palace! We took a walk through St. James Park and saw some fat squirrels and huge swans.

At the end of the day my feet were killing me and I was exhausted, but it was all worth it. I got some great pictures and stories to share with my friends and family! Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has planned for me!

The Beginning

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Day 1

Top of the morning, mate!! Ahh yes — 0 degrees Celsius to start our EURO Trip. The first day consisted of loooooong flights and boogie nights. Here’s a breakdown of how it all unfolded:

8:55pm – 12:55pm
The Super Flight took a Bagillion hours !!! We embarked on our journey cruising on a A380 Airbus AirFrance from Miami to Paris.


We arrived in Paris but only for just a “hot minute” (briefly).  I bought a Bordeaux at the airport – many thanks to Professor Hebrank on the wine knowledge. In less than an hour, we hopped on our second flight; this flight was much shorter, from Paris to our final destination. Hang on London we are goin’ in!

We arrived in London Heathrow and made it to our hotel. After unpacking we walked down the block and shared a toast.


After a nice dinner of salmon, peking duck, and robust turkey at the Giffafe (family style dinner), the entire study abroad crew went back to the Lancaster Gate Hotel and retired…. Except yours truly and my new PIC (partner in crime), Rafael. We don’t sleep.

Deep at night

Me and Rafa took our talents to Piccadilly to see what’s the dilly. Haha! I found a spot called the Whisky Mist on the side of the Hilton hotel. All of these nightclubs were found on  It was real, it was fun, but it wasn’t real fun. Me and my wing expected more out of Whisky Mist. After our ears were left ringing from heavy duty rap music, we got back on the bus and headed home.

(Deeper than your swimming pool)

It’s been 2 hours and we still haven’t found our hotel!! We asked for directions in a dark, back alley from a spooky 87-year-old lady who struggled to keep her teeth in her mouth as she was giving us directions. Her dentures kept slipping out, making it so freaking creepy!! Me and Rafa couldn’t stop laughing on the way back home. Finally we found the hotel and called it a night.

Extra bonus blog

Day 2

What we learned

Pure Events

Presenter: Charlotte Wilson

Trust = (Credibility + Values) / Risk
The client says we have 300 people, and she makes the event happen with her reliable catering group and production team.
She works within her budget and has a intricate way of charging for her commissions.
They love Istanbul and the south of France.
Advice: Know your destinations.
Biggest Challenge: little unforeseeable things.

“Mind the gap!!”

By London

“Mind the gap!” We’ve probably lost count of how many times we’ve seen and heard this on our rides in and out of the London tube, and remember to stay on the right side of the stairs or escalators, as the left is the “express lane” for the Londoners who never seem to cease their fast pace.

Our day started pretty early with some great breakfast at the hotel, then we were off to meet the managing director for Pure Events. Pure Events, a company that has hit off some great deals and contracts all around and that proves that small investments can go a long way.  Charlotte Wilson, the Managing director of Pure Events, began with just two staff members and 10,000 Pounds. Her company skirmished to stay in the market but was hit with the 2008-2009 financial crash and was forced to stick to a 5-year plan and rebuild.  Ms. Wilson’s story proves to us that with a strong mind set and a vision, some savings, a positive outlook, and perseverance to make your dreams come true, we can all make it.

Pure Events handles 65% of its events from overseas companies, including but not limited to law firms, telecoms and so forth.  The company stays out of private events, such as weddings, to avoid the “emotional trauma” (aka Bridelzillas).  Their main goal is to listen to their clients, see what the clients want, and use their marketing skills and material to make it happen.  Technology has been and is crucial to their company, and not precisely for propaganda, but for the booking of the events, the planning itself and the printing material. The company’s budget ranges anywhere from $10,000 – $2.5 million Pounds, and the key for a successful year in and out is a good analysis of the year’s budgets and spending so they are able to do better year after year.

The Company goes by three core beliefs; reliability, creativity and innovation. An important formula in the managing book of the company is: Trust = (credibility + values)/ risk.  It is crucial for people to trust you; they need to be able to count on you. As a company, they must make sure to “risk assess everything” before the events, because as much as you don’t want  something to happen, challenges always present themselves. One must think quick on their feet; you have to learn to improvise and make the best at every moment. This is a lesson we learn pretty often in life, things will not always go as planned, and while we seldom wish to think of what can go wrong, we must always remember there’s the possibility of it occurring. So with this lesson, we take into account the company’s model: “retention of business.” Listen to the clients; make sure they get what they want; they’ll be happy, satisfied, and will return for business and, more times than not, will also spread the news on the great company that put their event together. Therefore, a tip for the future event planners out there, “go to as many industry events  as possible, go for advertisement purposes and make connections; you’ll never know who you will meet and how they can impact your life in the future.” Wilson started her company with 3 or 4 contacts from her previous working experiences outside of the field.

Then we were off for a lunch break, but not before another “mind the gap” reminder, followed by a walking tour of the better known sites in London.

1st Day in London

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Today, the 14th of December 2014, was one of the best days of my life. Thanks to my parents, I had the chance to travel to Paris and London:  two of my favorite cities. It was my 1st time boarding on an 8 hour flight. During the flight to Paris, there was lots of turbulence, but other than that, everything went smoothly.

When landed in Paris, I was so excited to touch the ground of France. I felt the difference between America and Europe. Even though I didn’t have the opportunity to go visit the actual city, I was satisfied with all the people speaking French around me. The walk to our terminal in Paris was pretty long, but I actually enjoyed it. Thanks to the long walk, I had to the chance to explore the airport more. Seeing all the  the beautiful European stores like Prada, Channel, Rolex, and Dior at the airport was amazing. It made me realize how beautiful France may be outside of the airport. My first experience visiting a European country was fascinating.

Our second flight to London was delayed for at least 3 hours. The excitement for London was even more exaggerated. In Paris, the weather was not so great. It was pretty foggy outside with a temperature of 0 degrees Celsius. The airplane also had a technical problem. During the delay, I had the opportunity to talk to my fellow classmates. I speak French and I was so happy to translate for them anytime the pilot made an announcement about the time we were actually going to take off, the weather, or the technical problems. This also reminds me how important it is to know languages. I am a big fan of learning languages. I learned a few Japanese phrases today which was pretty fun. One of my fellow classmates, Mo, taught me.

When we finally got to London, words could not express my happiness. It’s one of my favorite cities in the world because of the structure and antiquity of the buildings. Christmas is my favorite time of the year and being here in the spirit of Christmas is like a dream come true. The decorations on the streets and buildings were beyond beautiful. It was like being in a movie. I taught that I would sleep on the bus because I was so tired but the beautiful view of London was not something to miss.

Arriving at the hotel, we had few minutes to change and hit the streets of London. Walking on the streets of London was breathtaking. We were on our way to the Giraffe restaurant. First we got on the tube, and after, we walked to the restaurant. I expected London to be colder but I am totally in love with the temperature — it felt great!  Walking on the streets, I saw a McDonald’s, which reminds me of the USA.  I didn’t miss it for a bit, except for friends and family.

Giraffe restaurant is like a typical American restaurant. The environment was similar and the foods as well. Even though the ordering of the food didn’t go as well as we planned, I was satisfied with the service. In life, everything happens for a reason. With the misunderstanding of the orders, we had to share food at the table. As we shared food at the table, my classmates and I shared a couple of laughs together, and bonded as a family.

On my way back to the hotel, I came to the realization how lucky I am. I’m an international student from Haiti and this trip is a privilege. A lot of students want to get the opportunity to visit London, and I am actually living the experience. This also enhances my global citizenship as an international student. The hospitality and tourism industry is all about exploring the world. Today, I got the chance to compare the industries in two different countries. Even though there wasn’t much of a difference, this will enable me to become a more successful industry professional with different perspectives of the world. This is one of the most amazing adventures I have been on in my life, and I am very thankful. Today has been a long journey, but it’s all worth it at the end.

Arriving in London!

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We are finally in London after a smooth ride from Miami to Paris and a three hour delay from Paris to here. We haven’t seen a whole lot yet, but it’s amazing already. Upon our arrival, we met our tour guide, Flo, hopped on our bus and drove about an hour on the left side of the road to our hotel. There was a good amount of traffic on the roads for it being a Sunday evening. After such a long day of traveling, it was so nice to arrive at the hotel and be able to freshen up before we headed out for dinner. All we wanted to do by that point was at least wash our faces and brush our teeth.

We met back in the lobby shortly after, and from there had our first tube experience. I love the idea of using the tube to travel around the city, but Flo did point out that we were using it at more quiet hours, and it’s not always that calm and unpopulated. As we got off and walked the rest of the way to the restaurant, it was nice to see some of the shops and restaurants around us and get a feel for what the city is like.

Dinner was a fun experience. We all shared plates and were able to try a little bit of everything from shrimp, to chicken skewers, to duck. But I must say, the desserts were the best part. We had chocolate mousse, raspberry cheesecake, and key lime pie. Deeeelicious!

We dodged the rain while we were at dinner, thankfully, and took the same route back to the hotel. My roommate and I are finally all settled into our room and couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come on this trip. London, I love you already!


Pre-departure to London!!!

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Wow, the day is finally here!! The countdown is over, and I am ready for a new adventure! I must say this last couple of days between packing and finals were a little stressful, but I couldn’t be happier to be going to London.

Now, where should I start? I should probably start off by telling you that my itinerary is different than the rest of the group because I am going to China in Spring 2015 for FIU’s Marriott Tianjin China Program and, when it is time to leave for China, I will be staying with my sister in Spain.  So, as you can probably imagine, I had to pack for months instead of days! I could barely see the floor of my room with all the clothes and other stuff I am taking! I ended up packing 3 bags!! Well, I hope I use everything I am taking, but for now, only time will tell.

I’ll tell you a little about my trip and how I prepared for everything. Since London is really cold I have been checking the temperatures and weather for several days in order to have a more clear idea of what I should take. Obviously, due to the cold, thermal clothes as well as gloves, scarves and hats where the first thing I considered, but after that I wasn’t sure of what type of clothes I should bring with me apart from my business attire for two site visits… Honestly, it was a huge help that Dawn and Professor Kitterlin sent us a detailed plan of activities, for it gave me a clear idea of what clothes to take. Now, getting my bag ready was really stressful.  I am terrible at packing, and I had to check my bag constantly, for I kept thinking that I was leaving something behind.  It was also hard since I kept mixing the clothes for both trips, and I will NOT take all these bags to London — I am not that crazy!  🙂

This brings me to talk to you about my travel plans. As I am writing this blog, I am currently in Spain. I left on the 12th for Madrid where I plan on leaving my bags with my sister while I go to London. So, my trips for the next couple of months will be  Miami-Madrid, Madrid- London, London-Madrid, and so on until I leave for China and go back home. I feel like I will be spending a really long time in airports and airplanes; I can already feel the stress of having to go through security and the long flight hours piling up. Oh well, at least I know it will be worth it.  After all, we will have the  opportunity to visit so many places and learn so much about both the culture in London as well as the hospitality industry — it is an experience I just can’t miss.

My trip from Miami to Madrid was very emotional for me since I won’t be seeing my parents for many months.  Saying goodbye to my mom at the airport almost had me in tears.  Apart from the sadness you always experience when saying goodbye to someone, I couldn’t help but feel excited.  After all, I kept thinking that I was not only going to be able to see my sister, but after 10 long years I am finally going back to London.  Now add to that the obvious stress of having to fly so many hours, and you can picture the emotional roller coaster this day has been for me.

Later on today I will be taking a flight to meet up with the rest of the group. London here I go! Let the adventure begin!!

59 days until we leave for London!

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This blog will be dedicated to the adventures of the FIU Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management students who are participating in a 10-day study abroad program with Dr. Miranda Kitterlin to London this Winter 2014 session. The students will be taking part in various tourist activities and conducting site visits in different aspects of the hospitality management industry. See our tentative itinerary at We leave December 13, so stay tuned for updates from our students…

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