As part of an ongoing partnership with Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), a delegation of four Rice Center for Engineering Leadership (RCEL) Certificate students traveled to Liverpool, England over spring break to get a new cultural perspective on leadership and university life. The trip was a follow-up to the visit to Rice previously made by four LJMU students last fall to learn more about entrepreneurship training at universities in the United States.
The delegation included Elizabeth Goodnight, junior, MECH; Emma Baker, junior, MECH; Chris Chee, junior, ECE; and Martin Torres, senior, CEE. During the day, the RCEL students attended several LJMU classes with their hosts, including Thermo/Fluid Dynamics and Advanced Structural Design. They also visited the LJMU Centre for Entrepreneurship, which co-sponsored the trip with RCEL. In the evenings, the delegation visited several cultural spots around Liverpool, including taking a Beatles tour. They also spent a day exploring London.
“When Kaz (Karwowski) asked me if I wanted to go on this trip, I wasn’t sure,” said Emma Baker of the trip. “Before our venture across the pond, I had never left the country and had rarely even left the state. I was extremely nervous. Once I let loose and trusted my heart and those of my fellow travel mates, I had the absolute best time of my life. I realized I cannot be afraid of the unknown - I need to embrace it. It’s a lesson I’m learning at RCEL as well. In order to grow as a leader, or to grow your organization, you must take some well thought out risks!”
After experiencing university student-living in another country, Elizabeth Goodnight brought back some good advice for herself and her fellow Rice students.
“The aspect of British culture that stood out most to me was the separation they draw between academic/uni life and their social lives,” Goodnight explained. “From a Rice perspective, students are normally ‘going’ all day long, and that draws away from any distinction between ‘working time’ and ‘leisure time’. This is incredibly different from what we experienced in Liverpool. While our hosts were studious and hardworking - when they weren’t with us, they were studying for hours in the library, or at rugby practice, etc. - they still were able to switch gears in the evening and spend time together casually. In my own experience at Rice, people usually never switch out of the working mindset.
“American students are under a lot of pressure to do more,” she continued. “Conversely, British students are a little more relaxed, and a lot more balanced than we are. Personally, I think it’s a significantly more balanced lifestyle- we should take note!”
“I also learned that breaks are absolutely necessary in order to be at your best,” added Baker. “At Rice, I never take time away from school or work. However, the week that we got back, despite the jet lag, I was the most energized and productive I have been since my first week freshman year! I had gotten a new outlook on life and completely recharged my battery!”
There are plans for the RCEL / LJMU Centre for Entrepreneurship Student Exchange Program to continue in the future as the universities collaborate and share best practices of entrepreneurship training programs on both sides of the pond.