As a study abroad student our studies come first. That is what we tell ourselves at least, but the with the proximity of Europe, it is hard not to dream of traveling the whole time you are abroad. Having never been to Europe before this semester the desire to see everything was difficult to overcome. Luckily ISA arranged many day trips for us to help kick start our travel plans. Some friends I have met through the program have planned for trips along the way as well. School work can always be done on the journeys when traveling between places.
Our first stop is just 18 miles from the border of France. Dover is a seaside city made infamous for its port so close to the rest of Europe. It’s essentially the gateway to England. Tall white cliffs were the backdrop as we stared across the English Channel toward France. Dover Castle is perched on top of these chalky cliffs and safe-guards the country, although it is mostly symbolic these days. You can still walk through the tunnels dug out during World War II and learn more about the history of the place.
Just a short drive inland, we came across Canterbury. A town frequently visited by Charles Dickens, it is a time warp full of buildings dating into the 6th century. The Canterbury Cathedral, founded in 597 AD, is one among the various historical sites peppered through the town. It is a breath-taking example of Gothic and Romanesque architecture. As you walk around Canterbury, many walls display historical plaques just to show how little somethings have changed as time passes by.
Brighton is another picturesque city that belongs on a postcard. A walk along the pier overlooking the vastness of the water is just what a sea-loving girl like me needed. Its rocky shore was dotted with beachgoers enjoying this sunny Saturday afternoon. All along the pier were shops, arcades and amusement park rides. A walk along the narrow lanes gives any shopper an excuse to spend their savings. The Royal Pavillon in town, once a residence to the royal family, now opens its doors to visitors and displays the cultural influences brought from around the world.
Windsor, a city just outside of London, is the official residence of Her Majesty The Queen. As the changing of the guards began, the streets shut down and crowds gathered. The Queen was in that and we were given the opportunity to tour parts of Windsor Castle. The old cobblestone roads lead you in directions to delicious meals to be enjoyed by a fire or sweets fit for a queen.
Just north of England is Scotland, located on the same island as England, but a separate country. Edinburgh is its capital and it welcomed us in for a weekend of fun. With just as much history to discover as anywhere in England, the Halloween activities of this town were not disappointing. A steep hike up to Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill gives you an outlook on the city below. We spent hours looking out over the city and ocean and remaining in awe of the beauty surrounding us.
As the months fly by, and my study abroad semester continues I realize that determination will get you far. Keeping up to date with assignments does make it easy for you to spend the weekend exploring. ISA also takes the hassle out of traveling, and I recommend any excursion that may be offered through the program. Happy Traveling!
Want to know more about an ISA student’s life in London? Check out “Get Lost In London”