Meet Gwenyth Lloyd, Our Designer “Across the Pond”

Gwen_Lloyd_brecon_beaconsGwenyth Lloyd started working at the Academic Arrangements Abroad New York office in 2003, and is now a remote graphic designer after moving to the UK. “I’ve worked for the company for 11 years now, 7 of them remotely,” says Gwen. “My current responsibilities include creating both print and web marketing.”

Before joining Arrangements Abroad, Gwen worked at the Center for Book Arts and Condé Nast in New York City (interning in the photography department at the New Yorker and working freelance at Vanity Fair). Before moving to New York to pursue a Design degree at Parsons, she achieved the position of Headbrewer at a microbrewery in Cambridge, MA.

What is your hometown?

I grew up in Townsend, MA, a typical New England town with a town common and gazebo. Band concerts on Thursday nights in the summer with the local military band. I loved growing up there, but had a British father who traveled to far-flung places through his work in geophysics, so I was always aware the planet was a very big place and that I’d like to see as much of it as possible.

Gwen in LatviaWhat are your favorite travel books?

Orhan Pamuk’s Istanbul: Memories of the City, was a treat to read as I visited Istanbul. Vladimir Nabokov’s autobiography, Speak, Memory, is a wonderful account of his childhood in St. Petersburg. And who wouldn’t want to explore Paris after reading Georges Perec’s Life, A User’s Manual?

City you most recommend to friends

I usually find something to love about any foreign city, but my favorite destinations so far are: Mumbai, for the energy, amazing sights, and sounds; Dubai for the diversity of the people and the architecture; and London (always London!) for people watching and wandering the South Bank, Hampstead Heath, and Shoreditch. It thrills me to live in the dynamic city of Bristol, just a train ride away.

City you would drop everything to see

Florence, Italy, in the summertime. There’s something magical about the light in Tuscany, and I enjoyed an unforgettable cone of profiterole ice cream there.

Gwen and MegganWhat do you enjoy working on the most for Arrangements Abroad?

The assignments are always changing, and the design work is very interesting and challenging. Working as a designer for a travel company allows me to armchair travel through researching destinations and map-making. Have loved meeting our travelers while accompanying trips to the Baltic and the Caribbean. And, last but not least, my outstanding colleagues, who make me feel like a valuable member of the team despite the distance!

Special skills

Am a mother to a spirited, adorable four-year-old son, also am a painter, seamstress, and keen cook (when I have the time)!

Most visited websites

The Guardian, Pinterest, and BBC Radio 4

What is something about you that surprises people?

Am able to count time to music pretty well for a non musician. After my first attempt at playing the drums with a band, my friend commented my timing was “like a clock!” Hope to take up learning to play the drums again someday.

Gwen and son skatingWhat are some things you can’t travel without?

My son, my iPad, pencil bag and my sketchbook

Number of trips traveled on

I have been to 26 countries and am now living abroad in the UK. Dual nationality has some perks.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Believe travel is a necessity and a force for good in the world. The more  the idea of the “other” is broken down… believing people who are from foreign places are somehow fundamentally different than ourselves…the more our compassion for humanity as a whole grows. Gaining the knowledge that the majority of people on earth, no matter where they are from, want the same things from life as us, is invaluable.

Gwen in Nicaragua

What the Best of the Travel Press Says: Oman

Nizwa Fort, OmanWhat’s the one place to visit in 2015? Travel industry website Skift has selected the Sultanate of Oman, which it describes as a “small, ignored, slow, and laid-back Arab country” that is a quick flight from Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Doha. According to Skift, “Oman packs a lot in a small package, with desert, rugged coast and beaches, water sports and diving, forts-every-few-miles, green valleys, old school bazaars and old school Arabian hospitality.” The website has several wonderful videos of Oman, including this one:

Interested in heading to this “big soul-satisfying place to visit” in 2015? Join Academic Arrangements Abroad in March to discover this captivating part of the world, where tradition and heritage combine with modernity and style. Begin in Muscat, Oman, where highlights include a visit and private reception at the Bait Al Zubair Museum, dedicated to Omani culture. Spend a day in Nizwa to experience the lively markets and admire the 17th-century fort. Accommodations are at the luxurious Al Bustan Palace Hotel, situated on the Arabian Gulf.

After exploring Oman, “a destination that mixes offbeat and adventurous,” this journey continues to Doha, Qatar, where travelers will tour the superb Museum of Islamic Art, designed by I.M. Pei, and enjoy a scenic harbor cruise in a traditional dhow. Then the group will fly to Abu Dhabi, UAE, to visit remarkable Saadiyat Island and also see Sheikh Zayed Mosque, the largest mosque outside of Mecca. Conclude in Dubai to attend Art Dubai, an exciting exhibition of contemporary art, and tour the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

Visit our website or call us at 800-221-1944 for additional details about this travel program.

Jabreen fort Oman


Art Underground

By Ingrid Ahlgren

While commuting on the New York City subway the other day, I admired a poster by artist Sophie Blackall. The poster, part of the MTA’s Arts for Transit program, is just one of the creations straphangers can enjoy in New York. The city’s subway system is home to oodles of art, ranging from the gorgeous mosaics in many stations to talented musicians who perform on trains and platforms to poetry inside the cars.

New York isn’t the only city where travelers can enjoy art on their way from one place to another. Boston’s Green Street Gallery, a non-profit, artist-run space, is located in a subway station.  In Chicago, a program called Art on Track transforms a train into a moving gallery once a year.

Stockholm subway art Paris MetroOutside of the United States, there’s also great art to discover while using public transit. Many of Montreal’s subway stations boast sculptures and other works of art. Stockholm’s tunnelbana, which has artwork in 90 of its 100 stations, has been called the “world’s longest art exhibit.” In Lisbon, contemporary art is featured in all metro stations.

Sometimes, the subway stations themselves are works of art. Paris’ Metro is known for its elegant art-nouveau entryways. In Bilbao, Spain, many new stations have been designed by Sir Norman Foster. The unique curved glass structures at street level are known as “Fosteritos.” Some of Moscow’s legendary undergrounds have chandeliers and marble-clad walls. And in Dubai, metro stations have modern designs but incorporate some of the region’s traditional architectural elements such as alleyways and arches.

Which of the world’s subway systems do you think are worth a detour?

Architecture in the Spotlight

By Anastasia Mills Healy

As all eyes are upon London for the Summer Olympic Games, our thoughts turn to the architectural legacy the Games will leave behind and the noteworthy structures in other cities, that fans may want to visit.

Aquatics CenterThe most lauded structures built for the 2012 London Olympic Games are Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre and the Velodrome, designed by Hopkins Architects.

Pritzker Prize winner Hadid created an Aquatics Centre whose most stunning feature is an undulating roof that emulates a wave. Columnless, this inspiring building will be much more true to its inceptive vision of openness and clear sightlines when the two wings of temporary seating that increase capacity from 2,500 to 17,500 are removed and replaced by glass walls.

Riverside Museum, GlasgowOf 950 projects in 44 countries, other recent Hadid buildings of note include the Riverside Museum in Glasgow, Scotland, a fluid design for a museum of transportation that opened in June 2011 and welcomed its one millionth visitor six months later; and in China, the Guangzhou Opera House, whose twin boulder-like buildings overlooking the Pearl River opened in 2010.

VelodromeLondon’s venue for all things cycling, the Velodrome ranks alongside the Aquatics Centre in the category of breathless architecture and has received equal high marks from the public. The architectural firm succeeded in modeling the design of the building to reflect its use: “We wanted to express the geometry and drama of the track in the outside form of the building,” Mike Taylor, senior partner, Hopkins Architects, told the Financial Times. Some critics compare this elegant structure to a cedar-covered Pringle potato chip (in the best possible way) and others liken its design to that of a bicycle – streamlined and nimble.

Dubai and Cyprus are two locales with current Hopkins projects. The Dubai World Trade Centre is a vast mixed-use urban area with offices, apartments, hotels and, of course, stores. There will be tree-lined streets, rooftop gardens and, the focal point, two tall towers. Shifting focus to the Mediterranean, the Cyprus Cultural Centre will be a wonderful place for arts lovers to gather to enjoy music, dance, opera and theater in state-of-the-art performance venues. Being built in tandem with Civic Square, the Cultural Centre will be linked to the proposed House of Representatives, the National Gallery and a park beyond by an outdoor performance space.

Guangzhou Opera HouseGreat architecture becomes truly transcendent when buildings create beautiful and useful spaces for a community’s (or a world’s) important moments, and become so integrated into the fabric of their surroundings that it is impossible to imagine the locations without them.