jbright's Travel Journals


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Try everything, go everywhere, and take lots of pictures. 'The great affair is to move.'

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  • Currently in Germany

British Isles 2010

All the things I've seen, places I've been whilst studying throughout the UK and Ireland in summer '10.

Day 10: Mr Blue Sky (Lake District)

England Lake District, England  |  May 23, 2010
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  • I tried treacle tart today! Being the Harry Potter fanatic that I am, one of the goals I have for the trip is to try as many foods that I can remember being mentioned in the books--and that are truly 'British'--as I possibly can.

    Also, I'm finally starting to be able differentiate between the different regional accents from everyone in Lady Openshaw.

 Lake District is one of the most scenic places in all of England. 

Today we went to Lake District. I was very excited to go as many people I have talked to said that Lake District is one of the most scenic places in all of England. And it really was beautiful!

We had an early start and then a two hour coach ride until we were in Grasmere. Mimi, Ashley, Steve, and I walked around town for a bit until it was time for our tour of Dove Cottage, the home of William Wordsworth. Like the Brontes in Haworth, Grasmere’s claim to fame is Wordsworth.

Dove Cottage was really a great little place. Inside was quite small and after hearing the stories about it, I am glad I didn’t live in that time! There were rat infestations, little heating, and sometimes too many people to comfortably fit in the house. It wasn’t really surprising information as I have heard it all before, but seeing the environment they lived in was really different from what I had imagined.

The Wordsworths’ garden was absolutely fantastic! The plants were in full bloom making it green and lush and as it was up on a hill and higher than the rest of the cottage, I got a wonderful view of the surrounding village. There were also stones that paved the way to a little shack which was really quite a peaceful place to sit. Especially if the Wordsworths had any weather like the kind we’ve been having.

Next, we went into Windemere which holds the largest lake in all of England. We decided against renting a boat and instead laid out on one of the green field. There were lots of people out that day—and I’m sure that it’s a great place for holiday—so we had some entertainment. At one point, we were watching a cricket match, some lads kicking around a football, and listening to a musical group performing what I can only assume was some German music as they were all dressed in lederhosen.


What is Britishness?:

The first article simply explained the difference between the United Kingdom, Great Britain, and England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. I was really surprised to find out that England, Scotland, Wales and N. Ireland aren't all separate countries as I had been told, but then after remembering that the UK is the official country it made a bit more sense.

The second link was to a speech by Barbara Roche really discussing the diversity seen in Britain today and stressing that it’s only too easy to generalize the people of Britain. It reminds me of the discussion we had in class about how we would define an American. Most of us gave the same answer: it’s too hard to give one definition as the United States is so vast and diverse. One of the girls from L.O. also told us when we asked what they would define Britain as is ‘diverse.’

The last link was also talking about the controversial debate of defining Britishness through the issuance of a citizen’s test. At first I was trying to compare it to the US citizenship test which I’ve heard is a collection of some of the hardest questions about US history, but then the article began talking about the ‘cricket test.’ Apparently, some political figures believe that if one roots for GB instead of their own country, they are really showing that they have adopted the culture. I think that’s ridiculous. I don’t always support America in its sports, but I am American. It’s almost like in the early 1920’s (I believe) in the United States when the citizenship test was a bunch of pictures of ‘American’ things that many new immigrants had never seen before.


Personal Findings on ‘Britishness’:

I'm glad I've had the opportunity of meeting such a large group. They are as open and willing to share their ideas about theirs and our culture as we are. Also, they all seem very curious about what America is really like since most of them only know what they see in films. Here are a few instances of things we've learned from them: 

... We asked them--about a group of eight or so from Openshaw--what they think qualifies as 'Britishness' and what really sets the United Kingdom apart from the rest of the world. They responded with: ‘Football culture,’ ‘Fish and chips’ and ‘A bald man with a pint and a flag shirt.’

.... There's this camp, Camp America, which sounds really fun. It's been brought up a few times in conversation. We asked them about it and they said that you work half of the summer as a camp counselor and then are able to travel where ever you want for 6 weeks afterward. It really does sound great, especially since not many places outside of the United States have study abroad programs.

.... Will was telling us the difference between our schools and theirs. For us, college and university are synonymous. Here, College is the final stage of what we would consider high school and uni is where you go after that. From what I have gathered, their stages of school are: grammar or primary school, high or secondary school, and then college. It also seems as though for them, the last two years of school--college--are optional and they can start in the work force at age 16. But don't quote me on that.

... We shared with them the differences we have seen between the British and what we know as American. For example, the way girls dress is much more put together here than in the States. Their clothes, shoes, even hair, is in general much more fashionable. Also, the guys seem to be much closer to each other than Americans. In the US, many (but not all) guys are aware of how much physical distance there is between them and even their closest friends for the fear of seeming homosexual to onlookers.

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