Friday, May 24, 2013

The End

Well, the students have all headed home (and should by now be safely with their families).  I hope you have enjoyed reading about our adventurers and the students' experiences.  This blog has now ended.  But there will be a new one in May 2015, the next time the course is taught.  So stay tuned. . . .

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Official Post: Bye Bye Britain ( and Wales)

Wow... All I can say is wow.  What an experience this has been.  From the day arrived every experience  here has been new, from the food to the landscape, to the history, its all been amazing.  I think that the best way for me to Dow final reflection. Would be to go over my favorites from the entire trip.
First, i've really enjoyed getting to eat so many new types of foods.  While I did find somethings that I didn't like, like pasties,  I found a lot more that I did!  I got to try all kinds of new weird crisps (chips) flavors too and by far my favorite was smoked ham and cranberry.  Super weird sounding but amazing!  A close second was sweet chilli kettle cooked crisps.   I'm not as much a fan of the chips (French fries) since they're so thick but they are still filling and yummy.  I also got to try anew kind of cuisine, Indian!  Most of it tasted similar but so dishes stuck out for me, tikka masala and a bright red chicken dish that was cooked in a type of yogurt.  They were both great and I'd eat them again at home.  There were also lots of new candies to try.  We found Terry's chocolates, which are normally only sold during Christmas.  We also found bon bons and mega sour balls which are AWESOME!  I'll miss those two especially.   I'll also miss Jaffa orange cakes.
One of the main things ill miss here though is the scenery.  Getting to see the rolling hills and mountains, and the Welsh shoreline too has been a great treat.  My favorite spots of the trip have been in Wales.  Ill be most sad that I didn't get to stay longer to take it all in, it's just so beautiful here.
I've really appreciated getting to visit so many historical sites as well.  My favorite activities were listening to the herbologist and the barber surgeon.  being that I am a biology major I really enjoyed getting to listen to them explain how people during medieval times would have dealt with all their medical issues.  I think I may have to do a little research of my own on herbology  when I get home.  Lastly think that it was also a good move to visit two of the biggest cathedrals at the beginning and ends of trip.  The two really contrasted each other but work together to start and end the trip wonderfully with York's  bright white ornate architecture and Salisbury's darker more colorful and simple design. 
Overall it's been an amazing experience and I'm glad I was blessed enough to get to go.  I'm going to miss it here but I'm really glad to be going home.  

Leaving the UK.. :( Official Post 4

I am sad to leave, but happy to be home. I have enjoyed every part of this trip. Castles and Cathedrals has been the best class I have taken at Wartburg.

Obviously, Arsenal has been on of my highlights, and going to London was fantastic. However, those are things that I can do at any other point in my life.

A month long trip would be completely unaffordable at any other point in my life. This trip will be one to remember for a long time. I have experiences and memories to last a lifetime. I only hope that when I get back home I'll be able to relate my experiences to all of my friends and family.

Without being on this trip, I may have never visited Wales and known what the country has to offer in terms of beautiful countryside. The Welsh red dragon is really cool!

The trip has shown me a lot more about Medieval England. Experiencing the architecture and climbing many a spiral staircase is not something that can be seen through a computer screen. There is a certain amount of satisfaction derived from climbing a tower, much like to get to the top of the mountain and see everything in the surrounding towns, countryside, and other mountains. This was an experience that is not easily replicated. It will be many years before I am able to return to this country. (Hopefully with a lot more money!)

This trip has been absolutely fantastic. I love this country! The love of football is fantastic!! I enjoyed being in pubs and mingling with the public and fellow Arsenal fans like myself.

The cultural experience of this country is incredible and i was happy to be able to absorb as much as i could. I've loved seeing border collies everywhere! they're my favorite dog. I noticed that all of the dogs here are very well trained and hardly ever have to be on leads. Dogs are welcome in many shops, parks, and other public places.

Once my stomach adjusted from the first few days being here, and feeling sick, I was able to eat breakfast and more fried food. I think it all came as a shock to my system. Jet lag, lack of sleep, and entirely too much fried food

This trip has taught me a lot about route planning and has been a growing up experience. Throughout the trip, I was in charge of where we went on free days and what we ate. Being in charge wore me out quickly and I apologize for being short with Adam and Cassie at times. This gave me a greater appreciation of what my parents go through to plan vacations. THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!!

 - Tate

Officially My Last Post- Official Post

Officially my last post!
   Oh how time flies when you are having fun! I can't believe it is my last day in England, it seems like just yesterday we made the long trek in rain and hail to our first hostel in York. One of the first differences that I noticed between Iowa and UK was that hail at home, in my head is associated with really bad thunder storms and here hail seems to be a common occurrence when it rains. The weather in both places is forever changing and temperamental. On a serious note I read about the Oklahoma tornado that destroyed a town and took many lives in the Metro paper and my heart goes out to the families effected by that natural disaster.
   Sometimes while being over here you forget that there are things going on back home, time doesn't just stop because your not there. The fact that the world does not revolve around me has been a lesson that I have learned while being here. There is a constant hustle and bustle as the locals try to get to and from work and school. The transportation, the buses, trains, and subways are very popular in most of the places we have stayed. I mean people still have personal vehicles that they drive and very nice rare ones I might add. I'm not a car person but Erin is and I loved when she would tell me about the expensive ones.
   Money, Money, Money, Money...MONEY! That would be my next topic of choice. It is a good thing that I saved up for this trip. The exchange rate is not that great over here so I felt better spending money knowing that I had work all lined up for this summer. Plus I had to bring home gifts for family. I love giving gifts so that's why my suitcase tonight looks like it is exploding.
   Speaking of exploding that would be my stomach! While being in the UK I may have developed a sugar addiction. Not only are the sweets to die for but the food is amazing. Everything is cover in breading and or bread seemed to be served with most meals. I mean what's a girl suppose to do? Needless to say I will be excessively running when I get home. I think that the reason the young girls here can have a diet like this and still be skinny is because they smoke all the time. I definitely will appreciate the smoke free air at home. I feel like a smoker here because of all the second hand smoke I am breathing here in. I've decided I need to have a funeral for the weight I gained while being here. I'm not mad about it though because I might not get here again so I had to try it all! A common sentence that I learned from Grace was, "I need it."
   Over all I have loved this trip! I have learned so much about who I am and who I want to be. What I'm taking away from this trip are the life lessons I've learned. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed all of the castles and cathedrals we toured, and the history I learned about. I've got a lot of work to do. I want to leave an impression on the world and the people who know me when I leave this world. I mean I don't plan on designing a cathedral or castle, but being around all of these structures makes me think about what a person can accomplish. I need to set the  bar higher and push myself to achieve my goals. I don't want to sell myself short. These people we learned about built structures that have lasted thousands of years and its inspiring.
   Lastly I want to thank everyone for following our blog. I hope that we have kept you entertained. I want to thank Erin and Grace for dealing with me for 26 days along with all of the other students and teachers on this trip. I know one thing for sure heading home, we all have great memories that will last us a life time.

Final Reflection - Eric - Official Post

For starters I will clarify that this is not Grace posting but rather Eric (darn google gmail). In considering the past 26 days its hard to decide where to begin. I suppose I will start with the things that I enjoyed the most on this trip which are a bunch of things you can imagine. Obviously I enjoyed seeing all the various castles and cathedrals though specifically I enjoyed such places like Caernarfon, Conwy, and Pembroke, so in general all the castles in Wales, as well as the cathedrals like York Minster and Salisbury. However, there were several more things that I did over the course of the trip that I enjoyed doing as well. I enjoyed going to Eden Camp, a museum dedicated to World War II, I enjoyed taking a train throughout the Welsh countryside and seeing all the lakes and mountains that it had to offer and I enjoyed going to the British Museum on Tuesday and seeing the Rosetta Stone and several other very cool exhibits. As you can see there were a variety of different activities that I enjoyed and that was perhaps the best part of the trip. By definition the trip is set during the Middle Ages; however, throughout this trip we have experienced a variety of different sites that have spanned the entire course of British history, from the pre-historic times, 6000 or 7000 years ago, up through the Romans and the Middle Ages to World War II and Churchill. Having a the trip not being strictly Medieval helped me to better understand Britain as a whole. I saw how the country and the people have developed over time and how the different eras progress and transition into the next period in history.
I have also enjoyed hanging out with everyone on the trip. Since we are only a group of ten we got to know each other and hang out with each other as well. I've gone around England pretty much with Julia and Jenny, sat and ate in pubs with Cassie, Tate, and Adam, as well as played quite a few games of fuseball with Tate (though were both too evenly matched). I've enjoyed getting to know everyone and have many good times and memories with them.
I will make a brief statement about some of the troubles/problems we've had in England. While this is not an extensive list nor are there any major problems that we had there are somethings that I've experienced here in Britain that I will not miss when I go home. First of all is BACON. Now I'm a person who likes ham/pork/bacon and anything in between and one of the main things I am craving is a lean piece of pork. How is British bacon (default term for all pork) different from American bacon you might ask well the answer is the amount of fat. The bacon here tends to have a lot more fat on it and even though it might add some flavor it becomes too much when you scrape of the fat and you're left with a piece 1/3 the size you started out with. I could continue to rant on about some of the minor inconviences (and I mean minor), but I won't, I just wanted to make my case for pork.
Now back to more important comments. One of the things you tend to notice when you're in a foreign country studying history is obviously the differences between the Britons and ourselves. In America we tend to think that our 400 years of history have acheived great things; however, that is nothing compared to what Britain has experienced. Britain has experienced change over the centuries; however, for them that change is much more gradual. In traveling through Wales I have seen great deal of patriotism. I cannot count the amount of times I've seen the Welsh Dragon or St. David displayed around Wales. At the beginning of the trip I probably could not have told you why this was the case. After traveling through Wales and seeing some of the castles and other sites I have grown to appreciate and understand why the Welsh feel so strong about the national identity.
Overall, I have had a wonderful time in England, I certainly wish I could have stayed longer and seen some other sites (Hadrian's Wall comes to mind), but this leaves and opportunity for the future to come back which I think I would. Though I am just as excited to get home as well and see my family.


You Say Goodbye, I Say Hello (to the U.S.) - Official Post

Tonight is our final night in England, so it is time for our last thoughts of our trip across England and Wales.  Ever since our first day in Great Britain, I was struck with how similar it is to the United States.  While there are many differences beyond the amusing accents, including the difficulty of finding bathrooms and the lack of proper bacon, I often felt like I was in a different state - not a different country.  When we were in the smaller towns, like Helmsley, I even thought I could be in the Midwest.  However, the beef is definitely not as good as at home.  I think what really helped was the fact that everyone was speaking English, though sometimes even I questioned whether it was an accent or another language.  I have gotten over being embarrassed about having to ask someone to repeat themselves.

My biggest surprise of this past month was how much I really love Wales.  When Julia and I were walking around the cliffs near the city of St. Davids in Pembrokeshire County, Wales, we agreed that southern Wales was the England that we were hoping to find.  I believe that since Wales often gets forgotten about compared to the rest of the United Kingdom, it has been able to retain some of its identity.  It was fun/amusing to watch the Welsh television channel while we stayed in Tenby.  Out of the many different places we stayed at or visited throughout this past month, I believe the area in and around Tenby (southern Wales) was by far my favorite.  It was the one of the few places I could honesty say I would move to if I ever decided to pack my bags and head across the pond.

Over the course of this trip, I have gained a greater appreciation for medieval history.  I have always preferred more modern history, especially American history, but the beautiful sites we visited have revealed that there are aspects of this period that I enjoy.  I especially loved Fountains Abbey and Tintern Abbey, and I can understand why one would build a monastery in those locations.  They were absolutely gorgeous and peaceful places.  I will take away an interest in discovering more about the sites that we have visited, like Skipton Castle and the castles in northern Wales. 

My favorite aspect of this trip, which I will take back with me to the States, is the great friendships that I have developed and strengthened since the beginning of our travels.  We had an amazing group of people on this trip, and I have numerous stories that I will cherish once I get back home (including Mike from York's laugh).  Overall, I have loved my time in England and Wales.  While I am ready to head back home, I know I will be wanting to return very soon.

Cheers from England!


Ta Ta For Now! - Official Post

       Coming to England has been such an eye-opening and wonderful experience.  The places we visited are far more influential in person than simply reading about them in a textbook.  Now that I have seen things like naves, arrow loops, and Roman mosaics, I can now easily picture these things, and make connections to the places I have been to.  While visiting absolutely stunning castles and cathedrals was awe-inspiring in itself, I came to appreciate something less obvious on the trip.  Whenever we needed to take a long train or bus ride, I always loved watching the landscape out the window.  We often passed gorgeous rolling green hills with sheep or horses peacefully grazing, which will forever be the image that comes to mind when I think of England.  I also loved that on this trip we got to do more than just tourist sites and truly experience the raw English culture.  Another one of my favorite experiences on this trip was simply talking with not only the locals, but also with other tourists and comparing adventures.  I've met people from New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Brazil, France, and Germany, all of whom had fantastic stories to share.  I think one of the most valuable lessons I've learned from this trip is to be willing to talk to anyone. I've learned so much about English culture, where the best pubs and restaurants are, and the best local sites to visit all from the local people.  Coming to England and Wales was definitely a culture shock, but it was equally historically engaging.  We got to be in and touch the very castles that real kings built, where real knights once stood, and shot long bows through arrow loops, where the rich and poor once came to worship in grand cathedrals, and finally where Romans had once bathed in elaborate baths and spas. 
       Overall, I have made so many lasting friendships, learned about Welsh and English history, and experienced so many cultural differences that I'm sure I will never forget any of them.  This has been an experience of a lifetime and I will treasure all of my memories (and photos) forever.  Leaving this gorgeous country will certainly be bitter-sweet. I'm ready to be home in my own bed, with more clothing options, with normal flushing toilets, and American bacon. However, I'm certainly going to miss the sense of adventure I experience everyday while I've been here, the interesting people I meet everyday, and unimaginable amount of history that surrounds me everyday. Well England, it's been fun, one eight hour flight before I'm back to real life. Cheerio!!!