Sunday, May 21, 2017

This summer I was sent to St Louis by Amicus to help out with an office there. It was an exceptional and interesting journey where I learned lots of practical skills, and a learning experience both on the task we were assigned but also on St Louis culture.

The Fourth of July
We were very fortunate to be in St Louis during the Fourth of July weekend. It is an enormous celebration in the United States and there are always fun activities to do. Most of the activities were taking place in Forest Park, which is a big park with a lot of museums, lakes, a golf course and even a zoo. They had big bands and singers show up like Akon and 3 Doors Down. They had zip lining, bouncy castles, lots of food trucks… everything you needed to have a good time. Then at the end of the concerts they had fireworks. 

Baseball Game
On our first weekend there in St Louis, we went to a baseball game. They take baseball VERY seriously here - it's always a pleasure to see people get together and cheer for something that they all have in common. We cheered for the Cardinals of course and bought t-shirts to show our support. Baseball was a much slower game than I remembered. I was surprised at how rarely anyone ever touched the ball. We still won against the Mets which was very exciting for our first game there and we even had a Home Run!

We also spent our weekends expanding our cultural understanding by visiting the few museums they had in the city and its surroundings. We went to the big museums in St Louis, all of which have been very interesting to see. We first went to the art museum because we were going there to watch a movie afterwards. We went there to see an exhibition on the evolution of men's clothes which was really interesting and some people found it funny. We also saw the modern part of it which was beautiful and a little bit crazy at times.

The second museum we saw was the city museum. We might have been a little old to be going to a kid’s museum but it still was a lot of fun! I do not really know how to describe the museum because you have to see it to understand (which I completely recommend that you do) but it looks like a huge kids' playground with lots of slides and things to climb on. There are lots of arts and crafts places, circus shows, a small ferris wheel at the top of the building, caves to explore, a skate park and a lot of other fun areas to see and explore.

The third museum we visited was the science museum, which again was more of a kids' museum. The science museum is divided into lots of different categories such as volcanoes, dinosaurs, energy, Egypt, animals, robots, technology, space, etc. 

After the science museum, the last museum we visited was the history museum. It was not very big but we saw an exhibition on civil rights and on World War II.

For four Fridays this summer, Forest Park, which is where most of the museums are and where we had the Fourth of July party, hosted a movie night. There were  also a lot of different food trucks offering food for any taste. On the first Friday they showed Titanic which we of course had to see. The second time we saw Dream Girls which I had never seen before but had always wanted to. We would go get food from the food trucks then lay down on our towels and watch the movies outdoors. Both times it was a great experience.

One of the main attractions, or maybe the main attraction, in St Louis is the Arch. We got tickets to go up the Arch (it was seriously scary but totally worth it!), which allowed us to get a view over the whole city. 

To go up we had to first go under the arch then take a little cabin that was an about four minute ride up, then three minute ride down. Those cabins were tiny! There was no room for legs and were all hunched over.

Inside Forest Park they also had a free zoo. We were probably the only ones of our age there but it was still a really fun day. They had so many animals there, and even some I have never seen before in real life, like polar bears and gorillas. It was a shame that not all the animals were out but there were so many of them that it did not dampen the experience. 

Lafayet Park
Lafayet Park was around a 40-minute walk from our place. It is a beautiful park in a nice area with some unusual houses. We then went to a restaurant in the area, and I got buffalowings which I had been looking forward to for a long time. We ended the trip with getting icecream for our walk back.

The work
The work we had to do was different to what I expected. I was warned it could be quite boringbut I would have to disagree. Although we were doing the same work everyday and scanning is not always the most exciting task, working with the cases was an amazing experience. Every case was different and shocking for me. Each of the cases managed to extend my curiosity on what happened. It got frustrating at times when there was not much information on the case but it also got overwhelming when there was too much.

What I have learned
There was so much to learn from this experience that I do not know if I would be able to cover all of it. The most I have learned about was the criminal justice in the United States. I am about to start criminal law in the UK next month and I would not be surprised if it was different. Reading all the cases that we had to work on I noticed how unfair some of these punishments were. 
Another thing I learned was how to manage my time. We had to do a lot of scanning and taking notes on the cases. I learned to manage my time between the two and figure out an effective way of accomplishing both tasks on time.
I also learned more about teamwork and independence. I have not had much experience with working in a team or working independently so I was quite pleased to be able to do both. What I mean by this is that although we did the work separately, we divided the work accordingly and made sure no one did the same work twice. We were not always supervised so it was up to us to figure a way out to work as a team and finish what we had to do.
These were a lot of things that I have learned during my stay in St Louis which I am sure will be using as a tool in my future profession and in my life.

In conclusion, my stay in St Louis was both a business and pleasure trip because I had the honour of working with Amicus, but I was also able to explore a city that I had never been to before and did not know much about before. My personal advice is that if you do ever go to St Louis, find some time to get their special Gooey Cakes which I am proud to love!