Canterbury and Dover

IMG_5986Hey there!

One weekend during my stay in England, I took a trip to Canterbury and Dover, and of course, the literature student in me was incredibly excited to see two places of such literary significance. I took a bus from Oxford to Canterbury, which arrived in time for me to spend the afternoon exploring the town and attending an evensong service at the cathedral. The next morning, I took a formal tour. Canterbury Cathedral was my favorite church I saw throughout my entire time in England for multiple reasons, among which is its connection to The Canterbury Tales. Of course, its beauty had a lot to do with that as well. I cannot believe that a building like this one could have been built without modern technology. I highly recommend taking a tour.
IMG_5995IMG_6054IMG_6037IMG_6082As soon as my tour ended, I grabbed a quick lunch and got back on a bus, this time to Dover. Dover is on the coast, and on a clear day, you can see France from the shore. I was excited to see Dover purely because it is the setting of Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach,” but it is also home to the secret war time tunnels.

The first thing I did once arriving in Dover was drag my friends around in search of the best spot to see the cliffs. As the bus dropped us off near the tunnels and the castle, we couldn’t actually stand on the cliffs, but we were close enough to see them and take pictures, and that was good enough for me. Then we climbed to the top of Dover Castle. Finally, we went on a tour of the war tunnels after waiting an hour to get through the line and almost missing our bus back to Oxford. Personally, I didn’t find the tour of the tunnels incredibly interesting. My favorite part of the afternoon was simply walking around with my friends.IMG_6086IMG_6092IMG_6098IMG_6128
IMG_6165IMG_6131Overall, I enjoyed my visits to both places and am glad I had the opportunity to cross them off of my list. However, I do have some tips for travelers. As for Canterbury, I found it a very uncomfortable place to be at night. During the day, the streets are lively and feel completely safe, but at night, it felt a little sketchy. Whereas in Oxford, I felt that I could walk around alone at night (I didn’t, Mom. Don’t worry), I went out of my way to make sure a male friend could walk me back to the hotel in Canterbury. That could have been the specific area I was in, but I would recommend going out in groups and staying at a hotel in a central location. As for Dover, the wind is ridiculous. Ladies, go ahead and put your hair up and don’t wear a dress.

Stay tuned for more study abroad posts!

-Lauren

Oxford Study Abroad

My month in England has sadly come to an end, and over the past few days, I’ve found myself scrolling through my own Instagram feed and Facebook album, trying to relive the memories. For the month of July, I studied at Worcester College at Oxford University, and when I wasn’t taking classes I was exploring Oxford and taking trips to various places within the United Kingdom. It was an absolute dream. Throughout the entire trip, I visited London, Canterbury, Dover, Stratford, Bath, Manchester, and Edinburgh, and with the help of my very beat-up journal, I plan to take you through the most incredible month of my life.

Worcester College, where I stayed and studied, is situated on the largest grounds of any Oxford college. The gardens are immaculate, so much so that there are certain areas where you can’t even walk on the grass. However, the open grounds more than make up for it. There was a small lake with swans and Romantic willow trees as well as large grassy fields to lounge and study.

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After I got settled into my room at Worcester and took a quick tour of Oxford, the first thing I did was go on a walk to University Parks and the suburbs to see J.R.R. Tolkien’s house and a bench where he often sat. One of my favorite things about Oxford that I discovered over the next couple of weeks is its rich literary history. Going into the trip, I knew that many world-renowned and canonized writers had come through Oxford, but the fervor with which Oxford celebrates its literary history was incredible to me. For example, every year on the first Saturday of July, Oxford celebrates Alice Day, which recognizes Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. People dress up in costumes; carnivals are held in the meadow; and there are even Alice-themed afternoon teas. And bookstores around town have special displays for Oxford writers, such as Lewis, Tolkien, Carroll, and Wilde.

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Afterwards, I stopped by The Eagle and Child, favored pub of C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. It was here that they would catch up and read each others’ work. The pub is decorated with various Lewis and Tolkien-themed things, which serve as yet another celebration of literature in Oxford. It’s perfect in every way.

Stay tuned for more posts about my month in England!

-Lauren