Church and Shopping, Europe 2015, Day 7!

Good Evening/Morning from London! This post was late with photos so it’s now Monday at breakfast in London.

Sunday was started in church and ended in church. I started with a communion service in the original Wesley Chapel here in London. It was neat to take communion in the same building where John Wesley preached.
  

  
 

   
 Before the service, I paid a quick visit to the cemetery across the street where the poet William Blake and John Bunyan, the guy who wrote Pilgrims Progress are buried.

 I then went to Harrods and spent almost two hours browsing the store. Some of the funnier items I found included a personal submarine.

   

   
After Harrods, I went to Big Ben and Westminster Abbey. At Westminster Abbey, I went to an organ recital and the evening service, which was cool.

  

    

  
I then returned to the hostel and had some dinner and went to bed.

This afternoon, I fly to Iceland!

Until Iceland…

-The ZEZ

   

 
  

Cambridge, Europe 2015, Day 6!

Good Evening from London!

I had an exciting morning visiting Cambridge University and am now in London until Monday morning when I head to Iceland.

I took a two hour walking tour of Cambridge University this morning and saw two of the 31 colleges that make up Cambridge. First, St. John’s College and then Queen’s College.

Before I did the walking tour, I visited Great St. Mary’s church. 

   
   
After St Mary’s, the Cambridge tour began. I was actually the only American on the tour and many other people were from the UK, which is unusual for a Cambridge tour.

The first stop was St. John’s College. While there, I saw the college chapel, punting on the river, which were the boats and a famous bridge called the Bridge of Sighs. 

   
    
    
   
After St. John’s, we did a brief walk around the city center, including a visit to the Eagle Pub where Watson and Crick announced the discovery of DNA. The bug and golden clock shown below is called the Chorpus Christi clock.   

 
  
We then visited Queen’s College. There, we saw a sun/moon dial that is one of only six of it’s kind in the world. Also, at Cambridge, only graduates and professors are allowed to walk on the grass. Everyone else is required to stay off the grass.

   
    
 
We couldn’t visit the major college chapel, called King’s Chapel, located on the grounds of King’s College, due to a graduation ceremony taking place. I was still able to get my picture in front of the chapel standing outside the gates though.

  
After the tour, I grabbed some lunch at Subway and then eventually took to train to London. I arrived at the hostel in London and settled in for some rest, before having a London tour day tomorrow.

Tomorrow, I will be attending church at the Wesley Chapel, the founding church of Methodism and a night service at Westminster Abbey, among other sightseeing.

Until then…

Best,

-The ZEZ

Swansea and Cambridge, Europe 2015, Day 5!

Good Evening from Cambridge!

This morning, I spoke to the Swansea Branches conference of the National Autistic Society (NAS), delivering a lecture on my overall journey with autism. The lecture attendees really seemed to enjoy my presentation.

   
 
The speaking event was followed by a lunch with attends, most of who were NAS staff or affiliated volunteers through the surrounding area in Wales.

After lunch, I boarded a train to London. After arriving in London, I quickly boarded another train to Cambridge.

Once I arrived in Cambridge, I checked into my hostel and then went on a short walk for dinner to the main restaurant area and stopped at a small Asian noodle place.

I’ve returned to the hostel and will be headed out in the morning to see some of the various colleges that make up Cambridge, apparently it’s not just one college. The forecast is calling for rain tomorrow, which stinks, but hopefully I’ll still get some good photos and touring in before my afternoon train to London.

Until tomorrow…

-The ZEZ 

Travel Thursday, Europe 2015, Day 4

Good Evening from Swansea, Wales!
Today was a travel day for me, but also another day that began with very little sleep.
Last night, after heading to my room at the hostel in Edinburgh, as I was about to go to bed, some of my roommates arrived. Earlier in the day, I met one roommate, a guy from Australia. When the other two entered, they were two girls, one from California and the other from Australia. 
We all stayed up talking until just after Midnight and I was up at 3:30am for my 6:30am flight to London.
Once I arrived in London, I boarded the London Underground to head to Paddington Station, where I got my train to Swansea.
On the train to Swansea, I sat with a college professor who has lived in Europe for the past 31 years, but was born and raised in North Carolina. We spent a good part of the train ride talking about the differences in American and European social systems and political structures. Definitely some good conversation.

   
   
Just before 2pm, we arrived in Swansea and I spent the rest of the day relaxing in my hotel room, ending the evening with a sandwhich from a little shop down the street from the hotel.

Note in the photos above, the train sign and the map are in both English and Welsh, the two official languages of Wales.

Tomorrow I have my next speaking engagement, here at the hotel, for the National Autistic Society, Swansea branch. After that, I’ll get back on a train to head for London and ultimately Cambridge, where I will spend Friday night and Saturday before going back to London on Saturday night.

Until then…
Best,
– The ZEZ

Scotland Argh! Europe 2015, Day 3

Good Evening from Edinburgh!
I’ve completed another country on my personal visit list and my autism advocacy speaking list, with today’s visit to Scotland.
I started the morning very early with a 7am flight to Glasgow. I should say that I actually only got about an hour of sleep, which included several “Inception” style dreams-within-dreams. Those don’t happen often for me, but it was certainly odd. After waking up about 1am, I proceeded to get my mind racing with various thoughts on autism research ideas and my trips ahead. I never fell back to sleep so I’ve been up since about 1am this morning.
After my flight to Glasgow, I proceeded to the Millenium Hotel to meet up with Charlene Tait, the development director of Scottish Autism. 
Once Charlene arrived, we headed to a meeting room for the multi-part video interview of myself, that will be ultimately shown as part of resource materials to parents and other individuals related to Scottish Autism.
We covered segments regarding my autism diagnosis, education, employment and general outlook on the state of ASD supports, among other things.
After the interview segment, I hopped on a train to head to Edinburgh.
Once arriving in Edinburgh, I headed to Edinburgh Castle which overlooks the city. I took many photos of the different parts of my self-guided audio tour and learned many neat things, including how the castle entrance gate was partially dedicated to William Wallace of Braveheart fame. 

After visiting the castle, I made a short visit to a local church to admire the stained glass windows and memorials to some impactful Scottish people. One memorial I found to be interesting commemorated the person who discovered Cholorform Anestesa. I guess that was something important with Scottish medicine.

I ended the day with a dinner at the hostel. I’m headed to bed fairly shortly, as I have another early flight tomorrow to London with an ultimate destination of Wales tomorrow night for Friday’s autism event.

I’ve posted more pictures on my Facebook page instead of here, as tonight the wifi is a little spotty and is giving me trouble uploading things.

   
    
    
     

  
 Until next time,

Best…

-The ZEZ

Speaking at Stormont, Europe 2015, Day 2

Good Evening from Belfast!

Today was another busy day and included me speaking at an Autism NI event at Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland General Assembly.

The morning started with me being picked up at my hotel by Dr. Arlene Cassidy, the CEO of Autism NI.

She recently purchased a new Jeep and it came with a mini Jeep which she keeps on her dashboard. By the way, both times I was about to enter the car, I tried to get in on the right side, which is of course the driver’s side here in the UK. Arlene said she thought about getting me a toy steering wheel for the passengers side to make me feel at home.

  

After Arlene and I had a short coffee, we headed to Stormont for the speaking event.

The shop we had our coffee in had chocolate boxes that could be given as thank you gifts for watching pets. I figured it was sort of a novelty gift, but Arlene told me that apparently in the UK, people do indeed give chocolate boxes as thank you gifts for others watching their pets.

  
Once at Stormont, aside from speaking to the attendees, which consisted of members of the Northern Ireland General Assembly, Autism NI staff and other local autism supporters, I listed to a speech from a young man who lives here in Belfast. He was the Northern Ireland  representative for the autism advocate portion of the event and he spoke about his schooling.

My speech covered my autism advocacy story and how I ended up in Northern Ireland.

   
    
    
 After the event ended, I was presented with a lovely ornament as a gift that featured a painting of Stormont. I will be certain to hang it on my Christmas Tree as a memory of my time in Belfast!
Once I returned back to my hotel, I had dinner at the hotel cafe, which consisted of fish and  chips, with cheesecake and tea for dessert. A true Irish meal I suppose!

   
 
I am now headed back my room to relax and get to an early bed, as I have to get up very early tomorrow for my 7am flight to Glasgow, Scotland.

Until Scotland…

Best,

– The ZEZ

 

No Sleep Till Belfast! Europe 2015, Day 1!

Good Evening from Belfast, Northern Ireland!

Today has been a whirlwind exciting first day of my 2015 Europe trip. Yesterday I left Chicago, after spending an overnight with my brother in the Windy City and headed towards Dublin. After arriving in Dublin early this morning, I immediately got on a train for Belfast, to prepare for my first speaking event of the trip, which took place earlier this afternoon.

When I arrived in Belfast, I was greeted at the train station by the Branch Officer of the National Autism Society (NAS) North and West Belfast branch, Sarah Burrows.

After getting checked in to my hotel, I then reunited with Sarah at her offices in downtown Belfast for the event. The speaking time was fantastic and I received many questions about disability supports,  disclosure and bullying, among many others. Many times, I suggested having a high school or guidance counselor help to work with the students as they transitioned into college life. This allowed the counselor to still provide feedback for the student, while remaining in the life of the student outside of the college environment.

  

  
The questions lasted for about 45 minutes and it’s the longest Q&A I’ve had so far on the speaking circuit.
After the Q&A, I went to dinner with Sarah and her co-worker Stuart, which was very good.

Tomorrow, I will be connecting with Autism NI and speaking at the Northern Ireland parliament building, so I am looking forward to that. 

I can barely keep my eyes opened as I’m typing, so I am going to end this blog entry for tonight.

Until next time…

Best,

-The ZEZ