London Museum Tips from Dr. Woolley!


One of the great advantages of London is visiting its wonderful museums.  First advantage: they rarely close.  Unlike many museums that have a weekly closing day, London’s museums have three or four closing days a year, usually Christmas, New Year’s Day and Good Friday.

Second advantage (and this is a major one): they are free. Access to some of the world’s finest art, archeology, and historical collection is yours simply by walking into the door.  It also means that you can visit repeatedly, seeing either some of your favorites or visiting a new section each day until you get “museum legs.”

The third advantage follows from that last one: these are textbooks in buildings. The National Gallery has paintings that you’ve studied or seen in all the books; the Portrait Gallery has a collection of portraits of everybody who was anybody in the history of the British Isles from Henry V on–imagine a place with portraits of Sir Walter Raleigh, Queen Victoria, and Ed Sheeran.

The British Museum (which is a ten-minute walk from the hostel) has one of the great, if not the greatest, collection of antiquities in the world. You can see the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles, and Anglo-Saxon treasures in one visit. The Victoria and Albert Museum has recently re-opened its collection of plaster casts of some of the world’s most famous statutes–especially to be seen is the cast of Trajan’s Column from Rome. There are many more–the Imperial War Museum, the Tates–Britain and Modern.  Happy museum going.

Why You Should Keep Your New Year’s Travel Resolution

New Year’s Resolutions are notorious for being difficult to keep. We can usually keep up with them for a couple of months, but after that, we lose our passion and forget why we made our resolutions in the first place. If you’re going on the Catalyst, you’ve made a resolution to travel, to learn, and to grow while journeying through Europe. This resolution is one that you’re going to want to keep. Traveling is hard; there’s no doubt about that. However, the amazing experiences you’ll have are incredibly worth the struggles you’ll encounter before you leave to go to Europe. Here are a few reasons that you should keep your travel resolutions this year.

You’ll have the chance to see things you’ve only ever read about in textbooks.

You’ve read and learned about Versailles, World War II, the Charles Bridge, and the Cold War while in your classes, but learning about these things while on location is a whole different experience. Imagine walking through the Louvre, your shoes clicking on the shiny, expansive floors, and catching a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. You will never have that experience in the United States. Think of yourself strolling through Prague’s winding, ancient roads. You’ll need to be careful of the cobblestones; you won’t find many asphalt roads in Old Town!

You’ll be challenged in ways that you won’t be in a traditional classroom.

If you want to get out of your shell, traveling will be an extremely valuable experience. In Europe, you’ll be surrounded by people who are not speaking English. You’ll be forced to leave your comfort zone by attempting to say a few words in another language. You’ll also get that chance to learn about new forms of public transportation. Putting yourself in an unfamiliar situation as you will while traveling is one of the best ways to challenge yourself and increase your confidence.

You’ll be able to experience new cultures.

One of the best reasons to travel is the opportunity to experience new cultures. You’ll be able to hear French, German, and Czech roll off of the tongues of native speakers. The chance to try new foods is also one of the benefits of soaking in new cultures. You can try inexpensive, yet delicious street food like trdelník, falafel, currywurst, and more. When you’re in Paris, you’ll have access to some of the best Morrocan, Ethiopian, Kurdish, Vietnamese, and Algerian food in the world. In addition, Europe is home to many world-class museums. Whether you’re interested in history, literature, or art, you’ll never be far away from a fantastic museum.

Traveling is a life-changing experience, one that you shouldn’t talk yourself out of. Many people want to travel but never leave to experience the world because of a variety of factors. If you want to keep your resolution of traveling, take steps to secure your goal: prepare, budget, and apply for scholarships. Travel is one of the most fulfilling and transformative experiences that a college student can have.


Check out These Flight Deals from Dr. Travis Tubré

Hi, everyone. I’m Travis Tubré, the professor for the Madness course and the designated travel guru (according to Doug). As you UWRF folks know, I love to travel and am good at searching for flight deals. Next week, I’m headed to Los Cabos to do some whale watching. In February, I expect to visit Beirut and Frankfurt. In March, I’m headed to Cartagena. And that is all before Catalyst! In searching around, I’ve found some great flight deals that I want to share with those of you who have booked yet.

For UW-River Falls students willing to travel in and out of Chicago, check this out. This is a $720 multi-city ticket, leaving Chicago on a direct flight to London on May 19. You then return from Prague to Chicago on June 25, with a short stop in Philadelphia. You could come back a day earlier for $775, but I’d take the extra day in Prague anytime! This is an insane deal given (1) how easy it is to get to Chicago and (2) that several UWRF students have already booked out of Chicago. The same itinerary flying in and out of Minneapolis is running about $1400 right now. This is a basic economy ticket, so you’ll need to travel with carryon luggage, but that’s what you should be doing anyway. You can see the itinerary here:

For University of West Florida students willing to travel out of Orlando, check this out. This is a $739 multi-city ticket, leaving Orlando on a flight to London with a quick stop in Charlotte. You then return from Prague all the way back to Pensacola on June 25 with stops in Philadelphia and DC. Again this is a crazy deal. The same thing going in AND out of Pensacola is $1000-$1100. And, this returns to Pensacola, so you only need to get to MCO for the departure, not back from there on the return. You can see the itinerary here: As with the UWRF itinerary above, you could come back earlier, but it would cost you more than an extra day in Prague. I’d highly recommend the 25th

If you are a UWF student and wanted to go both in AND out of Orlando for the same dates, that would be $743 as you can see here:

Again, all of these are basic economy flights, so you will need carryon luggage. Traveling that way gives you the most flexibility anyway in terms of being able to access cheap fares on European airlines for your Acceleration travel!

That’s it for now. I’ll keep looking for deals and will either share them with you through the newsletter or on Facebook. Feel free to get in touch at if you have any questions.

Written by Dr. Travis Tubré

What is a “City Sojourn” Day on The Catalyst?

Scattered throughout the Catalyst calendar are days marked “Sojourn.”  These are days for you to use to explore the city you’re in or the surrounding countryside on your own.

There are several ways to find out what you might like to do on these days.  First, you might follow your own interests to help you decide what to see and do.  For instance, if you are interested in antiques or souvenirs that you are not going to find anywhere else, you might go to one of the street markets which are held in various cities.  Both Paris and Berlin have major markets on Saturday, filled with everything from military buttons and badges to large armoires.  If you are interested in Impressionism and have enjoyed your visit to the Musee D’Orsay, you might also enjoy a day at the Orangerie with its wonderful room of Monet’s Waterlilies.

Another idea is to ask your friends what they have been doing in their classes.  Perhaps they have gone to the Imperial War Museum in London and your class is not going there–Sojourn would be perfect for you to explore that museum.  Or ask the faculty members for ideas–this group of people has traveled extensively; some have lived in Europe for months.  They can suggest places that you might visit, especially if you are thinking about a brief trip out of the city.  European train service is good, and it’s easy to go to Oxford or Cambridge from London or to Versailles or Chartres from Paris or Potsdam from Berlin.

Last but not least, Sojourn days are good days to catch a breath, do some laundry, read up on some of the texts which have been mentioned in class–in other words, those domestic living things we all have to do when we travel.

Written by Dr. Andy Woolley