Well, today marks the official start of our second week (only eight more to go) in York, England! It also marked the beginning of our classes, which I will get to later on. Last week, we spent all of our days exploring the city of York. There is so much to do here! It’s incredible, I’m afraid that we won’t even have enough time to see and experience everything that the city has to offer.
Among doing errands seemingly every day to stock up on items that none of us had the space in our luggage for, or the forethought to bring along with us, we have also been trying out all the food that the city has to offer us. I definitely have not been disappointed by it. However, I was complaining when we went to the grocery store and had way too many bags to try and carry all the way home so we had to call a cab to bring us back to school. But by far, the best parts of our class-free week was doing all of the toursity, sightseeing things.
However, we also have been taking the time to get to know the other students at our university, particularly the British! Our student union turns into a pub at night, and is a great place to go and mingle with the other students. We attended a trivia night, where as the Americans, we aced many of the questions. Surprisingly, almost all of the questions were about American pop culture instead of British! On another night, we also went to karaoke, which was hilarious. One of our own, Joe, even got up on stage to sing “Say My Name” by Destiny’s Child. We have plenty of videos.
We hiked the city walls of York, a walk that is just over two miles. It was an incredible experience, with even more incredible views. The city of York is surrounded by a wall, which was originally built to protect a castle that once stood in the center. After the walls, we also had the amazing opportunity to see the Yorkminster. It is breathtaking. Regardless of religion, it is absolutely a sight to be seen. After exploring the actual minster, including the exhibits now built into it, we climbed to the very top. The climb was one of the most claustrophobic experiences of my life, considering it was a 25 inches wide climb up hundreds of winding stairs. At times, I literally thought I might fall backwards down the stairs due to dizziness, but after what seemed like an endless ascent, we finally made it to the top! As you can see from the pictures, the view, which allows you to see the whole city, is simply amazing. In typical English fashion, double decker sightseeing buses are everywhere. We all climbed aboard one, and obviously sat at the top, for a city wide tour of York, complete with audio in each seat to tell us about what particular historical building or monument we were passing.
Over the weekend, we took a day trip on Saturday to Whitby, a seaside town in which there is a beautiful Abbey that Bram Stroker based his Dracula on. There are lots of other historical aspects to the city, such as Captain Cook exhibits and museums. Plus, it is also a very quaint place full of tourists and their dogs! We got lucky with an absolutely gorgeous day – the first one in a while. We took a boat ride around Whitby, visited what we thought was a Dracula museum but actually a horrible haunted house, ate some fish n’ chips and visited the Whitby museum and art gallery.
Yesterday, we headed to the train station in York to buy our rail passes for the term before heading over to the Railway Museum, which actually proved to be very interesting. Who knew trains had such rich history! After our museum visit, we went to the center of town for the York Food and Drink Festival, which was the most incredible (and overwhelming) display of what seemed like a million tents, trucks and booths serving all sorts of food and drinks. I had a delicious southwestern pulled pork concoction, but it’s in town for the whole week so I’m sure I will be filling up on lots of other treats (especially the fudge…so good).
As for classes, ours started for the first time today. Luckily, I only had one at 3, so I was able to sleep in. We are all taking three classes while at York St. John, and unfortunately, none of which are actually relevant to my Psychology major. For certain majors, York requires a full year to earn any credit, so many of us were unable to take classes that would help at Union, but oh well. I am taking British Politics, a course taught by our own Professor Oxley and is comprised of solely Union students, as well as History: Film and Television and Screening the Modern Immigrant. I can’t wait for the week to continue so I can get a taste of my classes here!
We’ve also begun to plan our trips around Europe while we’re here. This weekend a group of us will be headed to London, which I am so excited for. The following weekend, some of us are headed to Amsterdam! Considering I have only been to England and Ireland in Europe, I cannot wait for all of our adventures.