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My journey to England: By Joel Lawson

A brief introduction:

My story

Hi, my name is Joel Lawson and I’m 12 years old. Maybe you’ve heard, or not - that I recently went to Oxford as one of the two students from Jamaica to present on ethics in the meta-verse. While it might not seem like relevant topic now, we must realize that a huge technological wave is coming straight towards us, and we need to address this now, so we can ride the wave into new opportunities for a better future, or be swept away by those who misuse it.


Going to England, here are some things to pack:

  • Regardless of the space it takes up, packing a camera with you is essential for all adventures.

  • A reusable water bottle is a must! Especially since the cold is incredibly drying. Travel tip: Don’t try bringing water on the plane!

  • You never know when the sun will hide behind the clouds, opening up to a full-blown thunderstorm. It's better to be over-prepared for any last-minute weather changes.

  • When I was up there, the temperature didn’t often go above nine degrees. Bringing the proper clothing is mandatory. Trust me - bring it!

  • The cold is VERY drying on one’s skin. Moisturizer is the first thing you need to put in your suitcase.

  • When your hands & feet get cold, the rest of your body will follow suit. Pack an extra pair of wool socks & a warm winter hat for chilly days. Besides, wool socks rarely need to be washed!




Chapter one: Prepare for Liftoff

Let’s begin..


It all began on a fateful Friday morning as I prepared to go to school. This would be my last school day for over a week. I had everything i needed, well almost. My art homework wasn’t finished, but oh well, nothing we can do now. I don’t want to bore you with the details of my school day, all you need to know is it was average. Afterward though, I went home and got ready. Soon, we left the house, leaving my grandmother behind. We then went to pick up Chris, which was problematic because we couldn’t find his home. We even went into somebody’s driveway thinking it was his, when it wasn’t! After picking him up at last, and getting his things in the car, we departed for the airport. We soon arrived at about the same time Sharona’s parents and her. She soon left after several embraces, and we, Sharona, my mother, me, and Chris. We entered the airport. After some waiting, we checked our luggage and went to do... I forgot. Oh well. After some time, we sat and waited to board. My mom and I ate some Popeyes chicken we had brought. It was tasty. Then we began to board.



Sharona and I at the airport


Up, up and away!

Chapter two: Take to the skies!




Once we had boarded, it wouldn’t be long before we left our home behind. We soon got comfortable and began to wait. I played Plants vs Zombies 2 until takeoff. I played it a lot in-flight too until my tablet shut down. I didn’t mind. I watched some movies and played some games for a while until I inevitably fell asleep. Eventually, we landed. I didn’t like that part. They always hit the ground so hard! I’m not sure if it’s the angle we landed at or what, but if I ever become a pilot, I’m landing in the most comfortable way possible. After that, we came to the airport. The staff were very nice. I liked the atmosphere and it was very welcoming. Unfortunately, we had a lot more traveling to do. We got on a coach and proceeded to head toward Oxford, our final destination. Meanwhile, I proceeded to sleep. When we arrived, we got out ,and met Sam, chaperone #2. We then got our bags and walked all the way to Jesus College. In case you didn’t know, Oxford is actually a whole city, and an old one at that. Large, rustic buildings stood all around us, looking like castles more than anything else. And into one of these buildings we went - Jesus College itself - one of Oxford’s 38 colleges. This would be our home base for the week.


Here we are at last:

Chapter Three: Dorm sweet dorm




Since it was morning when we landed, we didn’t do much sleeping after. Instead, we found our rooms. Sharona was in block VIII(8) room 1 and we were in block XI(11) room 4. Our room had 2 doors, one which had a special lock which required a special token to open from the outside. The other one, which was behind it, was just a normal door that closed by itself. Chris and Chess, who was chaperone #3, were staying across the road. Mom didn’t like that Sharona was so far away from us, but Chris said the people who could do that were away until Monday. Oh well. Sam was living somewhere else. We agreed that mom and I’s room would be the headquarters since it was 3 rooms adjoined by one central living space. I liked that. We then went to where they would serve breakfast normally, but since it was Saturday, we had to get the food cold. Even so, it wasn’t terrible. But there was a lot that neither I nor Sharona liked, but Sharona ate a lot less than I did. They have some nice cheeses, courtesy of their next-door neighbour, France. Yum.












Entering Oxford





Well, now that we’re here...

Chapter Four: Down to buisness






The next two days, we would be working on our metaverse spaces, and most important, preparing for Tuesday, when we would present some of what we have learned to an audience of not that many people. We needed to be ready. I added a third room to my space. Sharona did what Sharona did. Chris was Chris, and the others were chaperones. The natural order of the universe was restored, not that it had been broken. On Sunday we went to evensong at Christ church. They sang well. The dining hall was quite grand. There were big paintings on the walls of The Queen(or rather, one of the many Queens), Norman Manley, (a Jamaican national hero who came here to study) and many others I did not know. Mom got a book on the subject from one of the staff. Dinner was always out, though the exact venue differed from day to day. On Saturday, we ate noodles at a noodle place, on Sunday, we had Mexican, On Monday,we had some substandard Popeyes. Tuesday was a Japanese restaurant. Wednesday, I don’t know what we had.




At Evensong, an event at Christ Church, Oxford




And now the moment you all have been waiting for:

Chapter FIve: Let the event begin!


Tuesday was quite eventful. We went to the digital hub early so we could set up. Sharona hadn’t finished her space, but insisted on ‘rushing it’ not sure if it worked or not, but one thing was for sure, I was ready. We did some more drills with Chris to practice, and soon, the time came. Friends and family of mine came from as far as Portsmouth to support me. Sam presented, Chris presented, then it was our turn. I handled it like a boss! Everybody was so proud, including me. But more work was yet to be done. I had to make sure the VR spaces were ready for those wanting to try. Unfortunately, the wi-fi wasn’t working. But soon, we fixed everything and a few people got to try my space. I was really glad it turned out so well. All in all, I think it went well and I’m very proud of myself.









Now that that’s over:

Chapter Six: Touring Oxford






Wednesday was also quite eventful. We went to a walking tour of Oxford, Sam’s husband Matt came with us, which was cool. We learned about the history of Oxford and it’s colleges, libraries, etc. We then went to the fellow’s library, where we saw some old books, REALLY old books. It was so enthralling to know this seeing this library in person, was something that only fellows of the college could do on a regular basis. It was so interesting, to learn about these books. There was also a room named after Norman Manley, who I mentioned earlier,so we took some pictures in front of the door. Then, we went to a history musuem. It was very interesting to see so much old stuff. Then, it was back to base. All in all, I think it went well and I’m happy about what I saw and learned.







The big city:

Chapter Seven: Touring London


Thursday was by far the most eventful.Maybe too eventful. We went on a double-decker bus and of course we sat on the top story. When we arrived at London, we walked to the Jamaican High Commission, where we explained our project to the Jamaican High Commissioner. Stepping in his office was like stepping outdoors back home in the summer, minus the sun’s light. It was that warm. It was so enthralling to meet with this very important person, was something that very few people did. He was quite nice, and we had a good meeting. Then we went to Buckingham palace, Followed by Big Ben, the London eye, and the City University of London. There,we went into a VR room and saw some of the things they were working on. Afterward though, we were all tired. So we cut the trip short and went home. But the bus broke down so we had to get another. Thus, we got back by 11p.m. I’m tired just thinking about it. We did ride the subway though.






Finally,

Chapter Eight: off for home



Early Friday morning we hopped on a coach to leave Oxford, said dear goodbyes to Chess, Sam, and Matt, and left. I slept on the bus. What do you expect me to do? Go to bed at 11pm, wake up at 7am to an alarm, get ready, leave, get to the bus place, sit in a (very) comfortable seat for an extended period and NOT sleep? Nope. Not today. Or ever, probably. After that it was more of the stuff we did in Kingston, checking bags, waiting in line, going through security, etc. Soon, we got on the plane and flew of. We reached Kingston the same day, and I was happy to be back. As much as I liked England, I love being home. And always will.

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