This is my second study abroad trip; the first was spring 2017 to Rome and Isle of Capri lead by Dr. John Mark Adrian. This trip was to York and London, England with Dr. Adrian.
The first thing I would like to tell people is that study abroad trips are worth the debt you will put yourself into. We spent six nights in York and three nights in London. York is a walled city founded in 71 AD. Because of its age it has a ton of history.
We got to walk the wall, see York Minster, go to a castle, experience a Viking village, and tour a medieval hall all within the walls of York. York Minster is a beautiful cathedral. It has 128 complex, gorgeous stain glass windows including the Five Sisters, the Rose Window, the Great East Window, and the Great West Window. We also had the opportunity to walk all the way up to the top of the tower which is 230 feet – 275 steps – up a narrow spiral stair case. While it is a rough trip to the top there is a spectacular view of the city.
York castle, or Clifford’s tower, is now just a husk, but the history that the tower has seen from raids to kings makes the site come to life. We got to experience an extremely realistic Viking village at the Jorvik center from the smell to people that lived there. It consisted of a ride through the village with life happening around you through real actors and animatronics. Though the smell was pungent and the animatronics slightly creepy, I really enjoyed it, especially since a few of the animatronic people were based on real skeletons that they had in the museum.
While in York we also travelled to nearby cities to experience other cathedral and castle ruins. We went to Scarborough Castle, which is situated on the coast and offers a beautiful view of the Atlantic Ocean. While there we stopped by Anne Bronte’s grave which was a treat for the English majors on the trip.
Another day trip was to see Helmsley Castle and Rievaulx (Ree-voh) Abbey. Even though Rievaulx Abbey is nothing but ruins it is probably the most beautiful site I have seen in my 22 years on this Earth. We also had some free time to wonder and shop.
My favorite place was the Shambles. It had several great shops from a Viking store, a store with Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Doctor Who merchandise, and four Harry Potter stores next to each other. The best was “The Shop that Must Not Be Named”. We also stayed in a really great bed and breakfast called the Dairy Guest House. The rooms were comfortable, the full English breakfast was amazing and Mike, the owner, was incredibly nice and welcoming. It didn’t hurt that we had the entire place to ourselves.
Our time in London was much shorter. There was also a lot more snow. While it started snowing while we were in York, it got worse in London. I fell twice the first day we were there. The snow storm, The Beast from the East, didn’t keep us inside though. Our first stop was Westminster. This is the cathedral where many famous people are buried – my personal favorites being Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton – and where monarchs are crowned. It is a beautiful building with great statues, memorials, and architecture.
Our next big stop was the Tower of London. When we got there I was a little upset because the Raven master wasn’t at work that day and I really wanted to meet him; however, I did get to see the six ravens (Munin, Harris, Jubilee, Gripp, Erin, and Rocky). They are kept on the Tower grounds at all times because legend has it that when all of the ravens leave, the tower will fall and so will the monarchy. Within the White Tower there is a spectacular armor exhibit. They also had an area that had three medieval torture devices that all looked incredibly painful.
We also got to see the Crown Jewels. I have never seen anything shinier in my life or more expensive. The set estimates for around 4 billion pounds which is about 5.7 million US dollars.
We also got to see Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. This was fun for everyone, not just the English majors. We had an enthusiastic and knowledgeable tour guide who helped make the tour of the outdoor theatre fun instead of just freezing. During free time I went to the Sherlock Holmes museum and a group of us went to the Victoria Apollo Theatre and saw the musical “Wicked”. “Wicked” was amazing from the acting and singing to set design and special effects.
Before the trip I thought I would like London more as I have always wanted to travel there but I enjoyed York more because it was smaller and more like home. However, I had a great time in England in both York and London and I can’t wait to go back.