Day 10 London

Today was our last day of programming in London. I can’t believe it!  We had a very busy day and saw three different museums. First, we went to the British Library. This library was absolutely fascinating. We learned about the King’s room where the Queen comes to read different books. This room is bullet proof and equipped to keep the Queen safe and in private. At the British Library there are also exhibits. Many of the items in the exhibits are sacred texts and founding documents from various countries. Next, we went to the Wellcome Centre. Here, we learned about Mr. Wellcome, the “Medicine Man,” who created the first pill capsule. We also learned about obesity in the UK and viewed various physical and mental health exhibits. Lastly, we went to the Freud Museum in which we toured Freud’s final home. We saw his famous couch where he used psychoanalysis for his clinical practice. After these museums, we ate at a great restaurant called Nando’s and headed to the hotel. It was a great last full day!

The most surprising part of today was at the British Library. Our tour guide showed us both the oldest known written New Testament and the Magna Carta. I was so fascinated to see such important and formative documents. Caroline and I stood in front of these documents for a while trying to wrap our minds around the many people who have contributed to and held these documents over so many years. It was fascinating to see the Magna Carta in the British Library as it is such a crucial document to the founding principles of the United State’s government.

Seeing the Magna Carta relates back to my main theme, mental health, as so many psychological aspects are involved in the founding principles of government. Viewing this document made me think about why certain rules and laws were created. Did people of power want control?  Were the rules intended to truly help shape the country in positive ways?  In regards to mental health, how did this document, and ones like the Magna Carta, effect those who had to obey them?  I find this aspect of psychology extremely interesting as it has so deeply shaped the United States.

Day 9 London

Today was a great day!  Sadly, it was our last day with our informative tour guide, Victoria.  She will be missed. First, we toured the Globe Theater. Our tour guide at the theater, Gerard, was hilarious. He has actually appeared as an actor in X Men and a few other movies and shows. Gerard took us around the Globe and then we visited their exhibition. Next, we went to Westminster Abbey where we toured St. Peter’s Church.  It was absolutely gorgeous. We learned about many deceased “good and great people,” as Victoria says. Many people buried there are royal kings and queens, famous scientists, and famous writers. It had stunning architecture and on the top of each hour a prayer was recited to remind visitors of the true purpose of the church. Following this walking tour, we headed to the Inns of Court. There are four Inns of Court in which lawyers and barristers live. Victoria showed us three of the four beautiful areas and taught us about British law practices. Following this tour, we headed to the hotel for dinner and got ready for Hamlet. Caroline, Allison, Halle, and I adventured through the tubes to get to the Globe Theater. We got a little off track, but we finally made it!  The play was very fascinating. I really enjoyed sitting in the theater with its open roof and watching the actors in their elaborate costumes as the sun went down. It was also very intriguing as many of the actors played roles of the opposite gender. All in all, it was a busy and exciting day!

Today, the most surprising and interesting fact I learned was at St. Peter’s Church. Victoria told us that the elaborate gold screens that divide different parts of the church are purposefully made to reach only halfway to the ceiling. The reasoning behind this is metaphorical. The screens, as they block our view, represent our inability to fully understand life here on Earth and life everlasting. However, from heaven, one is able to see everything, and thus, this represents total clarity and knowledge once one has passed away and his or her soul has risen to heaven.

In regards to mental health, I believe that this metaphorical screen also represents a psychological aspect of religion. Victoria even pointed out that religion has deep ties to psychology. As humans, we like to hold onto the belief that there is a greater power. This reveals our psychological need for hope and strength throughout our human lifetime. My time at St. Peters’s Church really had my brain thinking. This experience helped me unpack not only psychological reasonings in religion, but also my personal pride and belief in my faith.

Day 8 London

Today was a very full day. We woke up early and had our morning meeting at 7:45 am. Then, we met up with our tour guide, Victoria, and went to St. Paul’s Cathedral. The Cathedral was absolutely gorgeous. Victoria told us about its history and took us all around the beautiful religious sanctuary. My favorite part of the Cathedral was the dome. When I looked up, I could see was beautiful decorative designs all the way to the top of the building. Next, we went to see the changing of the guards. Unfortunately, it was cancelled. However, we were able to see some other guards walk back and forth and keep watch over certain buildings. We also saw Buckingham Palace which had military men and women on horses parading around the incredible building. After, we went to lunch at a cute diner called Garfunkel’s. Many of us had the traditional English dish, fish and chips. Following lunch, we went to both the National Portrait Gallery and the British Museum. Both of these tours were extremely fascinating. It was another jam-packed day in London!

The most surprising aspect of today’s events was the seriousness of the guards. I was so intrigued by their ability to remain so still and stern while so many people were watching them. I thought about if I would be able to remain so calm and focused if I were in their shoes. It was extremely mind boggling to imagine standing on guard for two hours and then having a four hour break for a consecutive 48 hours. I cannot imagine the mental strength that task must require.

In regards to my main theme, mental health, the guards’ mental and physical abilities really made me think. It must take psychological methods to remain so focused and still for so long. I wonder what sort of training these men and women undergo in order to become official guards.  I wonder if it is mentally healthy to be in such a strict state for so long. Should their shifts be shorter?  Is the mind negatively or positively affected by the job of these guards?  All of these questions and more went through my head as Victoria discussed their roles. I was extremely fascinated by the behavior of these men and women throughout their duty on guard.

Day 7 London

Today we went to Bethlem and the Down House. Bethlem is England’s first psychiatric hospital and the Down House is the home of Charles Darwin. At Bethlem, we learned about the history of the hospital and then went on a tour of the museum. The museum was extremely interesting as it led me through the stages of mental health diagnosis, treatment, and recovery. I listened to recordings of patients reactions to their mental health diagnoses which were very eye opening. I also learned about various treatments such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Psychoanalysis. Following the museum tour, we looked at old hospital records that were presented in giant old books. We read about patients and their symptoms, as well as their doctor’s notes and observations. After Bethlem, we took our bus to the Down House. Here we toured Darwin’s beautiful house that reflected his love for nature, curiosity about the world, and incredible mind. My favorite part about Darwin’s house was the beautiful landscape!  I was also very intrigued by the green house and bee-keeping display. I really learned a lot today.

The most surprising part of today was being able to touch and read the official Bethlem Hospital record books. The books were huge and were filled with either male or female records from different years depending on the book. Trent and I worked together to read the elaborate cursive handwriting and discovered that one patient was having delusions that all of his food was poisoned. He also believed that if he held a magnifying glass up to someone’s head, then he could see what he or she was thinking. I found this record book fascinating and could have spent hours reading about each patient.

In regards to my main theme, mental health, it was incredibly eye opening to read the records of the institution’s patients. Looking at a primary source of England’s psychological history proved to me how far the psychiatric field has come. The terms and diagnoses used, such as “delusional melancholia,” are no longer used today.  In addition, the records were very vague when it came to the methods doctor’s were using to treat patients. This raises some concern as mental health patients were not treated as they should have been. It was very interesting to notice how today, mentally ill individuals are receiving much better treatment. It is encouraging to know that as time continues to pass, psychiatry around the world can only improve.

Day 6 Arrival in London

Today we left Belgium at 6 am and took the Eurostar to London!  It was an early morning and busy day, but it was all worth it. Once we arrived in London, we were met by Victoria, our tour guide. Victoria taught us how to use the tube with our cards and then we took a boat ride to Greenwich. The boat ride was absolutely beautiful as we passed numerous famous landmarks such as the London Bridge, Big Ben, and the Buckingham Palace. Once we arrived in Greenwich we saw the Cutty Sark. Inside the ship, we learned about the tea that the boat imported and the way of life for the sailors on the boat. After our tour of Cutty Sark, we went on a walking tour of Greenwich. Victoria took us to the Prime Meridian where I crossed from one hemisphere to another. Our walking tour also included passing through an under water tunnel. It was a very eventful and full day!

The most surprising aspect of today was seeing how the sailors on the Cutty Sark slept. The bunks we small and had minimal padding. Being six feet tall, I could not imagine being smashed into a tiny cabin with many other sailors in a small bed with the temperatures drastically varying. Victoria told us that many sailors would get near the foreign country England was receiving tea from and they would jump ship. After seeing how they lived, I was not surprised to hear that many of the sailors did not want to stay on the ship for the duration of the importation process. When this occurred, the captain had to find more crew members to bring back to England in order to successfully finish the process.

In regards to mental health, I found the living conditions on the boat terrible. Not only were the crew members sharing tiny rooms, but they were also not sleeping well and being pushed to their limits while working on the boat. This physical challenge, along with the mental challenge of being away from home and other personal difficulties, made being a crew member on the Cutty Sark extremely draining. I do not think that the sailors mental health was at all thought of as a factor to their wellbeing during their voyages. Thus, I have a newfound appreciation for these sailors and I hope that as the decades have passed, sailors and crew members are treated much more humanely as their physical, mental, and emotional health are all equally important for their wellbeing and the success of the ship.

Day 5 Belgium

Today was a fun day of traveling and exploring!  We left Cologne early in the morning and took 4 trains and 1 bus to arrive in Ghent, Belgium. The buildings in Ghent are absolutely amazing. The city is exactly what I had pictured of Europe!  When we first arrived, we went to a food truck festival where I ate a vegan hamburger and authentic fries. Following lunch, we went to the Museum Dr. Guislain, an old insane asylum that displays mental health techniques and history over the years in various countries. This museum was extremely impactful as I learned so much about the mistreatment of psychiatric patients in the past. Following the museum tour, Caroline and I explored the beautiful city and bought Belgian waffles for dinner! After dinner, we sat with Dr. Mark and Illana and had a great discussion about the trip thus far and other psychology based topics. It was a great day!

The most surprising thing that I learned today was that St. Joan of Arc actually had Schizoprenia.  As I was raised in a Catholic Church by the name of St. Joan of Arc, I never knew this side of the story. I was really inspired by St. Joan of Arc as she not only battled a mental disorder, but also challenged social norms of the time period as a woman going to war. Furthermore, I was inspired to see that the museum honored many women who shape the discovery and treatment of mental illnesses throughout the museum. I did not realize that the impact these women were able to have not only in this time period, but also in the Catholic Church.

The Museum Dr. Guislain highlighted my main theme, mental health. I was able to understand how Dr. Guislain advocated for better treatment of the mentally ill. I was shocked to discover the horrible treatment of patients as they were regarded as animals early in history. The museum unveiled the importance of developing psychological theories as original ideas have progressed to modern day realities. Today, therapy techniques, medications, and mental institutions have all been shaped by the work of people from thousands of years ago. Due to their initial ideas, the field of psychology has flourished.

Day 3 Trip to Bonn

Today we traveled to Bonn, Germany. We walked to the train station, found our way onto the correct train and journeyed to the city. In Bonn, we first spent time walking around the beautiful brick streets and looking at the colorful homes. I absolutely loved this city due to its beautiful scenery and easy-to-navigate shopping and eating areas. Next, we met at the Women’s Museum where we learned about important women throughout history that stood up for female rights. We learned about the progression to the right to vote for women as well as many other crucial movements. We learned about the power of friendship through these women’s relationships and the positive effect it can have on the female community as a whole. Upstairs, we saw abstract art pieces made my women that reflected many aspects of female life. After the Women’s Museum, Caroline, Allison, Halle, Colleen and I went to Spitz for lunch and had hamburgers. Following lunch we went to Beethoven’s childhood home prior to his moving to Vienna, Austria. We learned about his music and his impact on Germany as an important historical figure. At the museum there were countless items of Beethoven’s, including many instruments.  On the journey back, we stopped for ice cream. It was a full and eventful day!

The most surprising part of today was at the Beethoven Museum. On the third floor of his house, I learned that when Beetoven died, many schools had classes canceled and army members were being shipped in from elsewhere due to the lack of people there. I was amazed to see the impact that Beethoven had on the people of Germany, not only as an incredible musician, but as a role model and figurehead. It was clear that Beethoven’s music had a deep rooted impact on his follower’s lives.   I simply had not realized just how loved he was until I saw this museum.

In regards to mental health, I really thought about the impact of music on Beethoven’s listeners. Through the ups and downs of his own life and of history, his music remained a constant for him and his followers. I can’t help but wonder if Beethoven’s music brought happiness to those suffering from mental illness. I also believe that the death of Beethoven was incredibly difficult for those who counted on him as their constant in life. I believe that the impact musicians can have on their followers is tremendous. Specifically, those who suffer from mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression, are able to relate to Beethoven and cope with their mental illness with the help of music. Furthermore, I believe that Beethoven’s inability to hear is also an encouragement to those battling anything health related because they are able to see someone make such great strides all while dealing with a challenge ahead of them. Thus, through the understanding of Beethoven’s life and history, I was able to see how his music had a pure and positive impact on those who listened to him.

Day 2 in Cologne

Today, I woke up much more well-rested! My roommate Caroline and I slept like rocks after our traveling and big first day. Following a nice breakfast, we had our first morning meeting. Here we debriefed on yesterday’s events and heard from our leaders about the two museums we would attend today. We headed out and made our way to the Kathe Kollowitz Museum. Our tour guide at the museum highlighted the amazing work of Kollowitz who primarily drew about the working class, woman & children, and people who would attend her husband’s medical clinic in their small flat. Through her artwork, Kollowitz unveiled her life and the events that occurred during her lifetime. After this amazing museum, we parted for lunch. Caroline, Allison, Halle, and I went to lunch at a nice cafe where we had food and coffee. Following lunch we attended the second museum of the day- the National Socialism Documentation Center. I was in awe of this tour. Our leader took us to the basement where we learned about the prisons of those who were in resistance to National Socialism. The conditions people were kept in were horrendous. We heard stories of a man who escaped the prison and a pregnant woman who survived through it all. It was an incredible experience as my classmates and I had open discussions with one another following the museum tour. My second day in Cologne was so eye-opening and truly put history into perspective. I look forward to furthering my understanding of history and psychology through the exposure to the events of this country’s past.

The most surprising aspect of today was seeing the inscriptions and handprints of those imprisoned on the walls of their cells. I did not realize that the prison would be so in tact as many years have passed since the horrible events of the Holocaust. Seeing what the prisoners wrote was chilling and inspiring all at the same time. To read about the awful conditions and the torture they endured was unsettling, however, seeing how optimistic and brave the prisoners were was incredible. I did not think that I would stand where the Nazi’s have stood and turn the door handles that the Nazi’s turned to administer such heinous acts to innocent people. I did not think that one day I would be in the same interrogation room in which prisoners had once been tortured. Furthermore, I was in total awe when our guide pointed out a specific inscription from a US soldier from Cleveland, OH that helped free these prisoners and put an end to Hitler’s actions. It really hit close to home as I am originally from Cleveland. Today’s experiences were shocking, yet crucial and extremely valuable.

After experiencing both museums, I was able to understand more thoroughly the impact World War II and the Holocaust had on the mental health of every person involved. At the Kathe Kollowitz museum, I focused in on her drawings of her grieving after her son had been killed in the war. I was able to see Kollowitz’s progression from a seemingly happy woman to a grieving woman. Kollowitz even had a drawing of a woman committing suicide which unveiled the pure sadnesss and pain that parents were experiencing when they lost a child to the war. Furthermore, mental health was also a huge topic of discussion in regards to the Gestapo headquarters. When hearing about the lives of the prisoners, I couldn’t help but try and understand where their minds were during that time. Their inscriptions helped me see that their uncertainty and anxiety was trumped by their ability to stay strong and brave during this time. Furthermore, as the prison windows opened to Cologne and passers by could speak to the prisoners, Illana metioned how the bystander effect must have taken place. I wonder how people could walk by and hear the screams of the prisoners, yet they continued on with their day. On the other side of the tragedy, I thought about the minds of the Nazis. In the US we discuss PTSD in regards to veterans fairly often. Our tour guide mentioned that many Nazis either moved on with their lives far away from the horrendous prison following the war, while other Nazis killed themselves. It is so heavy to think about the mental health of every individual during World War II. Thus, through these two museums, my mind was broadened as I further understood the gravity of Nazi Germany and the impact it had on the minds of everyone involved.

Day 1 in Europe

Today, May 9th, was the first full day of my abroad experience. After traveling for about 14 hours total and taking three planes, two taxis, and 1 train, I finally made it to Cologne, Germany. Upon arrival at the Hotel, I checked into my room and then explored Cologne with Caroline and Colleen. We ate Mediterranean food and then met back at the hotel to go on a walking tour of the city. During the walking tour we saw various monuments and sights relating to the Roman Empire, the Holocaust, and religion. The main attraction of the day was the Cathedral. At the Cathedral, our tour guide Nadia took us up all 500 stairs. It was extremely tiring but it was all worth it once we made it to the top and saw the view of the city! After, we explored the Cathedral and Nadia explained the history behind many of the stain glass windows, and important aspects of the Cathedral such as the 1 ton gold case that holds the bones of the three wise men. Following our tour, we went to a local cafe and then made our way to a traditional German dinner. After dinner, Caroline and I adventured to the store to get shampoo and conditioner. We had to ask another customer to help us decipher which bottle was conditioner. I never thought something so simple could be so difficult in another country! It was an exciting and exhausting first day!

One thing that surprised me most today was the abundance of memorials and statues commemorating those who lost their lives during the Holocaust. I expected to see some of these monuments, however, I was surprised to see so many. I was not sure heading into the trip how often the people of Germany would mention the events of the Holocaust. I did not know whether they would try not to mention it or bring it up a fair amount due to the sensitive nature of the topic. Thus, I was surprised to see that Cologne has poured a lot of effort into the memorialization and honoring of those who passed away during the horrifying events of the Holocaust.

Furthermore, many questions come to mind when I continue to think about the events of the Holocaust. Specifically, I wonder how the Holocaust effected the mental health of those experiencing torture and imprisonment. I wonder how it effected the mental health of the Nazi’s who were directed to kill millions of Jewish people. Henceforth, I am interested to understand how the mental health of German people today is effected by the events of the country’s past. Hopefully as the trip continues to unfold I will be able to draw some conclusions on this topic. I look forward to furthering my education in regards to Psychology and Culture in Europe over the course of this trip.