Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From Marmite to Sheep - Official Post

Note:  Since we have had problems accessing the Internet, my post is
two days late.  However, I did write this on Sunday night.

Today was our second full day in Great Britain, and it contained so many "firsts" for us.  We were introduced to a traditional English breakfast this morning as we went through the buffet at the hostel.  There was yogurt, beans, bacon (which is more like ham), scrambled eggs, sausage, tri-taters, toast, chocolate croissants, and cereal.  Many of us decided to try marmite, which is a gooey brown paste made from yeast.  I put some on my toast and realized after taking a bite that it is the most disgusting thing I have ever tasted.  Julia did not enjoy it either.  Overall, breakfast was not that bad, though I wish that the food would have been warmer.

After breakfast we boarded the vus (our - Julia and I - term for our bus/van) and traveled to our first medieval sight - Mount Grace Priory - which is located an hour north of York.  Grace gave us a tour of the Carthusian house, which is the best preserved and most accessible of the ten medieval ones in England.  It was interesting to see the reconstructed cell where one of the monks would have lived.  Several members of the group, including your's truely, learned that medieval buildings are not always friendly to tall people.  One is reminded of this fact when walking through doorways and in rooms with low ceilings.  It probably is not as difficult, though, as the life of a monk at Mount Grace.  The rules involved a silent order, no consumption of meat, and limited contact with other monks.  Sadly, we did not see any stoats, which Grace had told us were found at the priory.

The next stop on our tour in Yorkshire was Fountains Abbey near the town of Ripon.  The monastic life at the abbey was not as strict as Mount Grace, and it even allowed laybrothers to do the manual labor for the monks.  This left the monks time to focus on prayer and meditation.  A really amazing section of the site, though, was the water gardens, which had mini waterfalls, a statue of Poseidon, and a friendly swan.  Julia and I started our own mini video of our travels, which highlights some of the wonderful sites we have seen.  I wish we could have had more time at Fountains Abbey, as there were so many different aspects of the grounds to see.

We concluded our first day of visiting medieval structures with a guided tour of Skipton Castle in the town of Skipton.  Our guide, Peter Bailey, was very friendly, especially to our group of twelve Americans.  He explained how the pins on his hat were ones he has collected, including a Windchester rifle and an American jeep from World War II.  Peter even has one of those jeeps in real-life and plans to bring it to the castle one day soon as part of his own exhibition.  It was really moving for us to see his love for the States, since it is similar to our passion for British culture.

Skipton Castle, which has a yew tree that is over three hundred years old and will be able to live to at least one thousand, was a great first castle for us.  We were able to connect what we learned during our course in Winter Term, specifically the elements of a castle, to Skipton as Peter gave us a great explanation of its history.  We were able to see the GreatHall, the private rooms that the Lord and Ladyof Clifton, and even the dungeon where up to fifty prisoners could be held at a time.It was interesting to learn that so many phrases come from the medieval period, including "the upper crust" and "to put in one's place."  One could tell from the tour that Peter loves what he does and is very knowledgeable of different aspects of the castle.

Our second full day in England was eventful, to say the last, and it was great getting to view different parts of Yorkshire.  The most fun we probably had on the bus was getting to see herds of sheep.  I even got my mom a miniature sheep stuffed animal to add to her collection.  We hope everything is going well at home, and until next time, "Cheerio!"


Monday, April 29, 2013

Alive and well

Sorry for the media blackout.  The hostel we are staying in is newly renovated and they are still working out some bugs, like mirrors not yet up in the bathroom, a distinct lack of hooks to hang things, and no Internet.  But now we are online.  Students will be posting soon about our adventures.  We arrive safe and sound and even a little early.  All is well.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Official Post: I'm Tate


My name is Tate and I'm a Engineering Science and Chemistry double major. I love history, and am excited to stand in a castle and be where history was made and I've always wanted to travel to Europe, UK especially. Medieval England is one of the topics that has always interested me.

I am excited for:
*Meet with locals
*My first professional football match! LET'S GO ARSENAL!
*Try new food
*See London
*Visit Stonehenge
*Drink plenty of tea!

Throughout the course of the trip I plan on taking a lot of pictures and I plan on trying as much as possible while I'm in England and Wales. I decided now is a great time to go on a May Term trip. I don't know if I'll ever get to go another time, so I might as well go while I still can!

Next time I post will be from across the Atlantic Ocean!

Oh, the places you'll go. . . .

We depart in less than 24 hours so this will probably be the last post on this side of the Atlantic.  You may be wondering where our travels will take us.  We are starting in the north of England in the very historic city of York and using that as a base to explore the castles and monastic ruins of Yorkshire as well as the history of the city itself.  Then we will move on to northern Wales, basing ourselves in the walled city of Conwy.  There we will visit numerous castles built by Edward I to subdue the Welsh and bring the area under English control.  After that we will move to the area that forms the border between Wales and England in Herefordshire, staying in the small black and white village of Leominster.  This will be the base for a number of forays to the north and south, including Tintern Abbey and Hereford Cathedral, as well as a number of other castles.  Our next stop will be Stratford-upon-Avon, where we will visit the requisite Shakespeare sites and go view the Staffordshire Hoard.  Then we will move on to the Cotswolds, using Stow-on-the-Wold as our center to visit Gloucester, some Roman remains, and a rather famous Palace, plus some picturesque Cotswold villages.  From there we travel for the good part of a day to the furthest part of southern Wales, Pembrokeshire.  We'll be staying in the seaside resort of Tenby and visiting castles and cathedrals in the area.   Our final stop will be the World Heritage city of Bath, with it's roman baths and medieval abbey.  From here we will venture forth to places like Stonehenge, Wells, Salisbury, and Lacock.  Most nights students will be reporting our adventures for you (unless we are someplace that does not have Internet).  I'll let you know when we arrive.  Just hope for us good weather and minimal flight delays.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You're taking what!?!

So about now the students (and professor) have begun packing in earnest.  What to bring, what not to bring; these are the questions that they are struggling with.  Add to this the course requirement set by the professor- carry-on luggage ONLY.  Students are welcome to check bags on the way home (which is still free by the way-at least at this moment) but on our way over it's only what they can take in the cabin with them.  There are several reasons for this.  The first, though minor reason, is it speeds our way through customs once we reach the UK as we do not have to wait for our luggage to appear (or not appear).  The main reason however, is that we will be constantly on the move and carrying anything more than carry-on luggage will decrease our mobility.  Some of the places we are staying are on the outskirts of towns.  Would you what to lug a 40 pound suitcase 2 miles and then up 4 flights of stairs?  The answer is most likely no.  Several students have opted for backpacks which are great for getting on and off of trains with, as they keep your hands free.  Others are using wheeled bags that often weight twice as much as a backpack, and then others have chosen duffel bags. 

Of course, it is not really the bag that matters, but what is in it.  We will be staying mostly in youth hostels.  In addition to kitchens, these facilities also have laundry rooms.  So students do not have to pack enough clothing for 27 days; a week or less worth of garments will do.  They are also packing items like travel towels (the small but mighty absorbent towels that one usually uses for hiking), shower shoes, and umbrellas- the last should be an obvious choice to any of our readers given our destination.  Since most of our time will be spent visiting ruins out of doors or inside drafty large buildings, most should be packing items that keep them warm and dry and wash up well; hiking pants are particularly useful.  And sturdy footwear is a must with all the walking we will do.  Most will probably bring one nicer outfit (or at least top) as we have tickets to see a performance of As You Like It in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Near the end of the last term, students brought in their bags packed as if they were leaving the next day. Everyone weighed theirs and we talked about the items they packed.  Adam won the honor of having the lightest bags; his carry-on bag and personal item came to about 17 pounds together.  I won't say whose was the heaviest, although it may have been mine as I also had to pack course materials and other necessities for an extended stay.  I am curious to see how many students changed their minds about what to bring, and how many have regrets about what they forgot to pack or what they wish they had left at home.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Official posts?

You may have noticed that a number of the earlier posts have the term Official Post attached to them (and several that don't really should have).  That term is being used to designate those posts that students write as part of the requirements of the course.  Each student is required to blog four times, once as an introduction, which they have already done, twice while we are traveling, and then once in reflection at the end of our journey. The term has no impact on our readers, but lets the professor know which posts to grade.  As we travel, students will be describing our experiences and teaching you a bit about what we have learned and what we have seen.  Students are also free to use the blog to communicate with friends and family in a public way and to post stories and other material appropriate to the course.  We leave in three days and the excitement is building.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Meet the Professor

Now that all the students have introduced themselves, I should do the same.  I have been a medievalist since 11th grade when I read Beowulf and other Anglo-Saxon and medieval British lliterature.  That same year I went to France on a school trip and visited my first cathedrals: I was hooked.  I pursued a Medieval Studies undergraduate major and then specialized in medieval history in graduate school.  While in graduate school I backpacked through England and Wales for over a month exploring places I had only read about.  Although my research at the time was in Germany, the UK grabbed ahold of my imagination.

I have taught at Wartburg College since 2006.  While I teach a wide variety of course, this Castles and Cathedrals course is probably my favorite (and by far the most work).  This year will be the third time I have offered the course.  Each time I go I see the various sites anew from the students' perspective.  This is a course that allows students to explore medieval material culture in a way that is not possible in Iowa.  In additional to introducing them to the remains of ancient and medieval Britain (and some more "modern" sites, like those from the 18th century), the course is designed to give them confidence as an international traveler (not a tourist) and to show them various elements of English and Welsh culture.  As we count down the final days to departure I am sure the students are all frantically deciding exactly what to pack (more on that in a later post) and getting in some quality time with their families before they leave for 27 days of adventure.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hi I'm Grace (Official Post)

Hi my name is Grace.  I am a History major and Political Science minor at Wartburg College.  I have to say I have been looking forward to this trip since the beginning of the school year.  I love meeting new people and experiencing new things.  So what I am looking forward to the MOST out of this trip is experiencing the new cultures that we will come across in our travels.  One of the good things about not spending all our time in London is that we will get to see many smaller towns and meet people who are from small towns like many of us.  Because of that I think we will all be able to have a better understanding of the world we live in and the people we share it with.  I can't wait to go and I am sure my family is ready for me to go and be out of the house again!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Official Post - Hello! I'm Jenny.

Hi!  My name is Jenny, and I am a junior History Education major at Wartburg.  I am involved in a number of activities on-campus – Symphonic Band, St. Elizabeth’s Chorale, History Club, Phi Alpha Theta, an Ambassador for the Admissions Office, Student Orientation Staff, and Student Center Council.  I also work in the Admissions Office both during the day and as a Spirit Caller.  As you can see, I like to keep busy.
My dad and I shared a love of British films and music, especially those from the 1960s and 1970s, so I have wanted to travel to England my entire life.  When I was growing up, I always said that England is the first place I would travel to outside of the United States.  As an incoming freshman, I never thought about studying abroad while in college.  However, I remember reading about this course and saying that this would be the perfect trip for me.  I am so excited that my dream of going to England will be a reality a week from now!

I am looking forward to so many things, including the following:
-traveling internationally for the first time
-going to London
-walking on a beach for the first time
-seeing a Shakespeare play
-visiting historical sites that are older than those from the colonial period in America
-interacting with local people (and hearing someone speaking Welsh)
-strengthening current friendships and developing new ones
-touring Blenheim Palace, the home of the Churchill family
-attempting to earn as many cultural immersion points as possible with Julia

By taking this course, I hope to gain a better understanding of the history and culture of Great Britain, along with how the Medieval period in England and Wales has affected the two nations today.  I also want to increase my knowledge of the architecture of the various castles and cathedrals we will be visiting.

I am ready to be surrounded by amazing British accents and the opportunities of a lifetime.  To all my friends and family, I promise to take tons of pictures and share them with you once I return.  The next time you hear from me, I will be in the land of The Beatles!

First (Official Post) for England

Hello!  I'm Geoffrey and I'm a History major and 3rd year.  I've actually been to England before, but I only got to see London when I was there.  This time I will get to see the rest of England and Wales as well.  I look forward to seeing the countryside, for I have been told it is a beautiful country.

I'm a fan of military history so I'm eager to see the castles and marvel at the design and effort put into making these huge defensive structures.  I also looking forward to experiencing England and seeing the differences between England and the US. 

I'm glad that Wartburg offers chances like this to students.  You never know if you will have a chance to go out of the country in the future, so it is best to take advantage of it now.  My ancestors came from England so it is time to go see my family's origins.

Post you later.

Hello, My name is Eric (Official Post)

Hello, my name is Eric. I'm a second year History major, so you can imagine why I'm going on this trip. I've always been fascinated by British history and culture (I'm a Doctor Who fan), though one of the major things I look forward to is seeing some of the Roman archeology in England.

Some of the highlights of the trip that I am looking forward to are: seeing some of the old Roman structures, seeing Shakespeare's As You Like It in Stratford-upon-Avon, getting the chance to see London, and, of course, seeing some of the old Welsh castles.

As I've said, I've always been interested in British culture, but one of the things that I hope to learn through traveling through England is seeing how Britons interact with their culture, food, and past-times. Also I hope to learn about how some of the architecture of Medieval England has impacted England today.

That's all for now

Thursday, April 18, 2013


My name is Tate and I'm a Engineering Science and Chemistry double major. I love history, and am excited to stand in a castle and be where history was made and I've always wanted to travel to Europe, UK especially. Medieval England is one of the topics that has always interested me.

I am excited for:
*Meet with locals
*My first professional football match! LET'S GO ARSENAL!
*Try new food
*See London
*Visit Stonehenge
*Drink plenty of tea!

Throughout the course of the trip I plan on taking a lot of pictures and I plan on trying as much as possible while I'm in England and Wales. I decided now is a great time to go on a May Term trip. I don't know if I'll ever get to go another time, so I might as well go while I still can!

Next time I post will be from across the Atlantic Ocean!

Official Post Ready to Go!

My name is Cassie Crotty and I’m a sophomore biology major at Wartburg College.  I’m a sprinter here on the Wartburg Track and Field (or WTF for short).  I have a job working for my coach as his assistant and work study.  I like to spend my spare time drawing but I also love cooking and trying new foods. 
For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to travel.  I have a strong interest in history which was fueled when I was younger by numerous hours of The History Channel.  Watching The History Channel encouraged my desire to see the world and its historic sites.  When I learned that there was a trip going to England to explore the castles and other historic places there was given my chance and now with only 8 days to take off I can hardly wait! 
Some of what I’m most excited for are:
-Standing where history was made
-Learning more about the Viking raids
-Seeing all the amazing ancient architecture
-Getting to go to my first Arsenal Football game and sitting in the second row
-Trying new foods and drinks
-Experiencing a real High Tea
-Feet fishies in York
-Taking lots and lots and lots of pictures
I can hardly wait to go and I’m jittery from the excitement.  I can’t wait to have the experience of a life time!

Official Post: I'm Adam

Hello, I'm Adam. I grew up on a dairy farm in Northeast Iowa. I am a 3rd year Engineering Science major with a minor in Physics. I stay busy with a part-time job at John Deere, and with running Cross Country and Track.

Ever since I was small, I have wanted to go to Europe. The idea of being surrounded by so much history always fascinated me. The idea of seeing buildings that are centuries old sounds incredible. I am also very interested to see the architecture of these buildings - from an engineering point of view. I will also enjoy experiencing the culture, and many different things.

In general, I am excited for the opportunities to try many things that I have not been able to try yet.

Thanks for reading - Next post will be from England or Wales!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

T- 9 days until we're off!

Hello there! My name is Erin and I am currently a sophomore at Wartburg College. I am majoring in biology with minors in psychology and leadership. I am involved with cross country, track, Tri-Beta, Phi Eta Sigma, and work in the biology department for lab prep. 

I knew that since Wartburg offered a May Term, unlike many colleges, that it would be the perfect opportunity for me to study abroad. One month is not too long, but not too short of a time either. I have always wanted to go to Europe, so this trip seemed like the perfect opportunity. Plus, the name of the course is Cathedrals and Castles, so it has to be awesome! I am looking forward to several aspects of the trip, and here are a few:
*seeing the gorgeous architecture & taking LOTS of pictures
*experiencing another culture (for longer than a normal vacation time)
*trying new foods
*making new friends & memories 
*being able to say I've actually had tea and crumpets
*going to London

I absolutely cannot wait for this trip to get started! I've been waiting patiently for 13 months, and now we are 9 days out from leaving. Everything from the super long plane ride accompanied by jet-lag, to eating in pubs, to taking trains everywhere will be exciting. It should be a once in a lifetime experience that I surely won't forget.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Official Post- Ello! I'm Julia

Ello! My name is Julia and I am currently a history major and a Spanish minor.  I am active member of Phi Alpha Theta (History Honor Society) and the History Club here at Wartburg.  I am also a student employee in our college bakery and in our library archives.
            Last May term I had once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to travel to Costa Rica to study Spanish and live with a host family.  I had never traveled abroad before but after that trip I discovered that I absolutely LOVE traveling!  I had always wanted to go on this trip ever since I knew it was being offered, but after I went to Costa Rica, I thought I would never go abroad again as a May term trip due to cost.  However, as more and more people urged me to reconsider, I realized how much awesome history and experiences I would be missing out on if I didn't go. So... I'm very glad to say that I decided to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
            There are way too many things that I am excited for and want to do to list on this blog but I will try to list just a few of them. 
            - Seeing gorgeous architecture of the castles and cathedrals. (duh!)
            - Meeting people and talking about cultural differences with them (and listening to their super
                 cool accents!)
            - Trying new and weird food.
            - Getting to know my classmates better and creating lasting friendships.
            - Lastly, simply enjoying the fact that I am in the UK and taking in every bit of it. I will be sure to take loads of pictures to preserve, what I hope to be, some of the best memories of my life! Ta Ta for now! Next post will be written in the UK!!!!! EEEEKKK!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Official Post ~ Meet Morgan

   Hi my name is Morgan and I am a Communication Arts Major with an emphasis in Public Relations and Organization and I am minoring in Graphic Design and Leadership. I am also planning on receiving my Coaching Endorsement. I am a member of the cross-country and track team at Wartburg as well as Tower Agency.
    As you can tell I like to stay very busy. One of the things I wanted to take advantage of while at Wartburg was the study abroad program. England and Wales were not my first choice of places to go, but they were in the top five place I wanted to visit someday. I am so excited about this experience.
    I think what I am most excited about during this trip abroad is to experience it with one of my best friends Erin. Over this past year we have gotten to know each other a lot better and I'm happy that we get to make new memories together.
    I do not know a lot about the history of England, but I'm glad that some of my course mates do. I hope that I get a lot of shots of the architecture.The castles and cathedrals that I have looked up for class look beautiful, I love photography and I'm excited to use my new camera.
Well that's all for now next time I write I'll be in the UK! 12 More Days

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Counting down. . . .

We will arrive in the UK 2 weeks from today. The weather appears to be much like it is in northern Iowa right now, in the 50s (lower teens Celsius) with on and off rain.  About to be expected for mid-April.  We'll be sure to pack umbrellas and rain jackets.  In honor of the weather, here are some photos from a past year of students in the rain while on a tour of the city of York, our first stop.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Here we go. . . .

As we get ready to depart, the students will be posting a bit about themselves and what they are looking forward to about the course.  I am hoping that they have an amazing time that expands their horizons, gives them a sense of themselves as global citizens, and that they come away having learned about themselves, the wonders of medieval history, and British culture.   I also hope they get bitten by the travel bug.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Welcome to our blog!  During April and May 2013, the students in the Wartburg College travel course Castles and Cathedrals, History 212, will be blogging about the sites they visit and their experiences in England and Wales.  Come along on their journey.