By Gabby Winsky '18
I had the incredible opportunity to take part in a European adventure with roughly 30 of my peers. Our two-week business trip to Dublin, London and Amsterdam was led by Dr. Michael Harvey, his wonderful wife Sabine, Washington College alumna Kathy Thornton and Dr. Ryan Eanes. While abroad we visited with several different companies, learned about the implications that Brexit will have on the world, and experienced first-hand the culture of each of the three very different countries.
We did a good amount of background research before departing on June 5th. Throughout the semester, we would have weekly classes, each focusing on a different topic pertaining to our trip. The first week we learned about the European Union, the next week Brexit, and the weeks following were dedicated to learning about the key industries and culture in each of the three different countries on our itinerary. The work we did ahead of time was crucial for our overall understanding and appreciation of our experience abroad.
Our first destination was Dublin, Ireland. While there we visited Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript Gospel in Latin created around the year 800. Later the same day we drove to the countryside to a place called Causey Farm where we learned how to bake our own traditional Irish soda bread, herded sheep, milked cows, jumped in a bog (which is basically a giant mud pit) and somewhat mastered a traditional Irish line dance. Our business visits varied from startup companies like Aylien, a text-analysis company, to social media marketing companies like AdRoll, an American company that has expanded internationally.
London was a very different experience compared to Dublin since it is so much larger and busier. Through our various tours and business meetings we could see how much history remains in the
U.K. We walked through the financial district and saw Buckingham Palace, as well as the parliament buildings and Westminster Abbey. My favorite business visit was when we went to Lloyds of London, the world's most famous insurance market. Lloyds itself is not actually an insurance company, but instead it hosts the underwriters and brokers and provides the facility for them to conduct business, a tradition that still holds from the company's founding in 1688 when it started as a coffee shop. Our other business visits included Parkour Generations, where wehadour own parkour lesson, and SoFar Sounds, where we were able to take part in and attend one of their concerts at a small private venue in London.
After a 3:00 a.m. wakeup call, we arrived in Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Here we visited an authentic cheese and wooden shoe shop where we were able to try fresh gouda (the traditional farmer's cheese in Holland) and observe wooden shoes being made on old German machines that date back to the 1800's. We went to the Anne Frank House and Museum, which was a very moving experience for us all. Our business visits included Eccentrade, a Dutch company focused on clean technology and the circular economy, Not For Sale, a company helping victims of human trafficking by providing them professional culinary training, and Atlassian, an Australia-based IT software company.
On our free day in Amsterdam we had the opportunity to take a 12-mile bike ride through the Dutch countryside and visit three little towns which were amazing.
It is hard to say which place was my favorite since each place was such a different experience. I would say that Dublin was my favorite in terms of the people we met and how welcoming and happy they were. London was my favorite for exploring because the city never ends. Amsterdam was my favorite for its beauty, where the canals are gorgeous and there is an abundance of old European architecture. Looking back on the trip and how much we saw, learned, and experienced, it's hard to believe that we were only there for two weeks. I want thank our leaders Dr. Harvey, Sabine, Kathy and Dr. Eanes for taking us all on an incredible trip that I'm sure we will never forget.