This past Fall semester I switched things up. After one year at the University of Kent’s Brussels School of International Studies, I went to school at the University of Kent’s main campus in Canterbury, England. Same Masters, same schools, different campuses.
Canterbury’s campus was big and beautiful. And while the Brussels one hosted around 300 students, the Canterbury campus had over 14,000 students – and 1/5 were international students. You may have heard of Canterbury through Geoffrey Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. These medieval writings tell the stories of pilgrims as they traveled together on a journey from London to Canterbury. Or so I have heard. I have not actually read them, since they were written in middle English, and I have a lot of school work to do.
Side note: A modern trip from London to Canberbury can be done in under an hour and would never generate 24 stories like those in the Canterbury Tales. Not quite the same journey it used to be.
During my time in Canterbury I took three classes: Understanding Political Institutions (hard, yet necessary), Terrorism and Crimes of the State (gruesome, yet fascinating), and Conflict Resolution in World Politics (interesting, but I could not always understand the professor’s Irish accent). While I lived in the center of town, school was a short 30 minute walk uphill (both ways). So I took the bus, as one would.
Halfway through the semester, all my former classmates from Brussels came to Canterbury for their graduation at the Canterbury Cathedral. This Cathedral by the way, does not allow for any cellphone towers to be built higher than their own bell tower. Therefore, the entire city center lacks cellphone connectivity. Very quaint!
Other things I noticed about England:
The Brits loved to talk about the weather. Canterbury Rotarians loved to talk about the one time Paul Harris visited their club. My Professors loved telling us about England’s wrongdoings (from their role in extraditing alleged terrorists, to colonization, and their entire history with Ireland).
At Rotary we always toasted to the Queen. GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!
I cannot yet tell the difference from the England accent, to the Welsh, or from the Irish, to the Scottish. But I did hear that every little region in the U.K. has its own way of talking.
Side note: When I first arrived in Apple Valley, MN as a Rotary Exchange Student during high school, I remember asking one of our Rotarians “How long have you been speaking Eglish?” when he mentioned being from Scotland. Fresh off the boat, and very naive, I would never have guessed he was a native speaker. 8 years later I still have trouble understanding him.
Canterbury was very green. Probably because of the high precipitation levels. When it was not entirely cloudy, it was partially cloudy. Always with patchy drizzles and some wind. Not pleasant. However, Sunday’s roast, Sheppard’s pie, Cadbury chocolate, and tea with clotted cream made up for it. Oh, and Chicken Tikka Masala too. That is by far my favorite British dish.
Now I am back in the United States. But not all done yet. I have until March to turn in the dissertation for my MA in Political Strategy and Communication with International Migration, and that is what I will be focusing on for the next month. Wish me luck!