Monday, January 19, 2015

Scooter Takes Rochester

I've been in Canterbury for three weeks now, and this city still amazes me. There are several moments where I haven't felt like I'm living in a different country. It's a comfortable place for me, with no sense of being misplaced or foreign. (Sure, my accent gets me strange looks when I'm in the check-out line at Asda, but that was expected). But I find it hard to think that I'm only here temporarily, as it feels like I have been here for years.

Before coming to England, it was obvious that everything we saw or visited would have a long line of historical facts attached to it, but the reality of that is multiplied. Everywhere I look there is something tied to pilgrims or Marlowe or Dickens or King Henry IV. It's incredible. One morning after trying unsuccessfully to make pancakes in our flat (they are like crepes here, which means very difficult to make when you put chocolate chips in them...) we went downtown to the American Pancake House. This place is delicious, fairly cheap, and--surprise--historical. The building is actually where the original contracts for the Mayflower were planned and signed. It's neat to think that while I chowed down on pancakes, hashbrowns, bacon, and eggs, I was sitting in a spot that changed peoples' lives forever.

On Friday, CCCU also took us on our first field trip. We took a coach to the city of Rochester, about an hour away, and visited Rochester Castle and Rochester Cathedral. Though it was a rainy morning (as it often is) the sites were incredible. We climbed all the way to the top of the castle and got an incredible view of the city and Cathedral. The castle was incredibly old and so interesting, right on the banks of the River Medway. It was hard to imagine people living in such a place. The cathedral in Rochester is also the second oldest cathedral in England. It was very beautiful and so interesting to look around, seeing tombs and plaques that honored important historical figures. It wasn't nearly as big as Canterbury Cathedral, but it was just as fun to explore.

After Rochester Castle and Cathedral, we visited Fort Amherst and saw the underground tunnels and such. It was interesting to see, but I mainly just wanted to see the ghost that wanders through the tunnels looking for her father, who had been killed in a mining accident. Unfortunately, she didn't make an appearance. We also walked up to the Chatham Naval Memorial, which was really beautiful. It overlooked the entire city and was so huge, a constant reminder of brave men and women.

Classes here are starting off well, but I can already tell it will be a difficult adjustment when I go back to Columbia. Our classes here only meet once a week! I have modules on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, which gives me a four-day weekend. I seriously love it. There are also no exams, but only a couple of papers in each class. It's very different from what I am used to, but I think I can appreciate this set-up. Maybe Columbia College should look into adopting this policy... :)

Some upcoming trips with the school are to London, Bruges, and Dover Castle. It's amazing how close everything is to us, and I'm really excited to explore more of the UK and Europe!

Cheers!  - Jara
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