Posts Tagged ‘europe’

Team Alps 2015: Why are we going back?

In November 2014, I wrote about the rain we encountered during the Team Alps 2014 fieldwork trip.  As it turns out, four of us are going back, along with three others, for TEAM ALPS 2015! So, why are we going back?

Well, the good news is that two undergraduates appreciated their research so much still after handing in their third-year dissertations, that their inquiring minds are willing to explore yet more unanswered questions! So, while they have signed up to carry on studying at masters level (here at QMUL Geography – yay!) we get to return and start exploring their MSc theses!

Nature Nap

Lucky enough to have inspired these two undergraduates to come out for a second summer. Are they ready to work hard, or enjoy the art of the nature nap?


Unexpected findings last summer led to a side project primarily investigated by my supervisor, Dr Sven Lukas, and this project will be revisited for more information. My personal project will also be revisited following the findings of last year, primarily the need for more robust methods for mapping landforms.

Additionally, three new Team Alps members bring a diverse set of fieldwork skills, backgrounds, and adventurous spirits to help us tackle our research questions and to perhaps develop their own.

This leads to what I like to think of as a mini-workshop for the group this summer. We will be conducting terrestrial laser scanning and ground penetrating radar to better understand the morphologies of landforms in two valleys. These techniques are new to our group, and will therefore allow each of us to broaden both our skill-sets as geomorphologists and the findings of our projects.

Schwarzensteinkees Colt

Maybe this young one will be in the valley again this year (although all grown up)! It’s always nice to have someone greet you as you walk into your field area for the day.

Those of us returning are so excited to get back to the magical Berliner Hütte (complete with excess amounts of meat and cheese, bathing in sinks, and [hopefully] less rain) and of course to show off one of our favorite fieldwork base camps to a new crop of researchers!

Dinner’s view of the Hornkees (left) and Waxeggkees (right) glaciers from the back porch of the Berliner Hütte.

Dinner’s view of the Hornkees (left) and Waxeggkees (right) glaciers from the back porch of the Berliner Hütte.


Did that last photo look familiar? Maybe you have seen some of the Austria tourism ads throughout the London transport network; the Berliner Hütte is famous! (Here: Green Park tube station)

Did that last photo look familiar? Maybe you have seen some of the Austria tourism ads throughout the London transport network; the Berliner Hütte is famous! (Here: Green Park tube station)

My Name is Spencer Cylinder…

Hello.  My name is Spencer Cylinder.  I’m studying abroad here at Queen Mary for this fall semester.  So far, my experience has been fantastic!  I’m from New Jersey, back in the United States, but I study at the University of Richmond in Virginia.  Spending the last two years in sunny Richmond, I was worried that I wouldn’t see the sun again for the rest of the semester.  Luckily, the past month has been very sunny here.  All of my new British friends have told me that this has been an unusual month.

At my home school, I study political science.  Well, not exactly.  The full major is called Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (or PPEL), but political science is easier to say and explain.  I was excited to take classes here like British Politics and Comparative European Politics so that I can get a more rounded view of how politics and policy around the world is shaped.  I also wanted to take classes that were less related to my major back in the States, like London on Film and Architecture of London as a sort of breather from my heavy political and philosophical workload back home.

But work isn’t the main reason I’m here.  I could’ve just as easily stayed home for that.  No, what I really wanted to do here was explore and get to know London, Britain, and Europe better.  You see, this semester was the first time I have ever been to Europe and I intend to make the most of it.  So far, I have checked off a fair amount of what I want to see here in London, yet this city is so big and busy, that there is still so much I’m excited to see!  Not to mention, the things outside of London that I want to explore.  So far, I have only been to Bath and Stonehenge outside of London.

Other things to know about me, besides my interests in politics, are my love of movies, video games, and pretty much anything considered classically “nerdy.”  I have one cat and one dog that I miss very much.  I am also a huge fan of science fiction and hope to someday write something of my own for the world.  Finally, I have always been attracted to Britain and British things, especially British humor like Monty Python.  This attraction drew me towards picking London as my place to study abroad.  I really want to make the most out of the rest of my time here and I plan on writing down all of the major things I do in the months ahead.

That being said, my next couple of blogs will be about the things I have already done while I was here this past month.  There is a lot to talk about and I hope you enjoy!


TRAVEL!! Last term I went to Wales for a day, spent a couple of weekends near Manchester, and went to Totnes with my friend Ellen for Christmas. During this term’s reading week I finally managed to travel out of the UK! I booked off of work and decided to head to Prague and Hamburg before heading to Copenhagen to meet my friend Bri for the weekend. She’s studying there for the term, so it was perfect timing!

I spent the first four days of the trip travelling alone. I ended up flying into Prague on the 18th of February, and I stayed in a hostel there until Wednesday. It was snowing on Tuesday when I went out to explore, but it wasn’t too cold. I also managed to aimlessly wander to where I had been told to go! I thought I had gotten lost but miraculously I ended up entering Old Town Square!

Old Town Square

I walked around the area for a bit (once again, aimlessly) before heading back to the hostel for dinner. On Wednesday, I checked out and headed to the train station to get the train to Hamburg. Seven hours later, I arrived at Hamburg Hauptbahnhof! I took the metro to my hostel there, ate a light dinner, and then went off to bed – I was intent on getting an early start the next day!

Thursday I was up and out in Hamburg by 9:30am, and I ended up going to the St. Michaelis Church (below, left). I climbed to the observation tower (the lift was being repaired – so many stairs!) and explored the church’s crypt. Next I walked through Reeperbahn (the red light district) and after a quick lunch break at the hostel I headed out to see the U-Boat museum in near Fischmarkt.


The U-boat museum was probably the highlight of the day. The views from the top of the St. Michaelis were amazing (above, right), but going into the U-434 was the best – and the creepiest thing to walk through alone! They have mannequins in different rooms to show you just how small it would have been for a 6′ tall man. I struggled to get through some rooms, and I’m only 5’4″!

Friday morning I got on the train to Copenhagen! I made it there by mid-afternoon, and Bri and I met up at the main train station. We walked through a lot of the city to get back to her halls in Bispebjerg. After dinner and a few glasses of wine, we met up with some other study abroad students and went out clubbing that night, which was awesome! The next day we went walking around Christiania and Nyhavn, and went to a vegetarian buffet for dinner. That night her halls were hosting a party in their common room (led by RA-type figures), so after drinks at a chic little place called Mexi Bar, we headed there. A fairly early night though, since I had to get to the airport by 1pm for my flight back to London.

Got back to Pooley (my Queen Mary hall of residence) around 6pm . . . just in time for a flat dinner to Nando’s!

Definitely a week well spent. 🙂


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