Welcome to Canterbrie!
Rolling hills, adorable little cottages, and sheep…lots and lots of sheep…welcome to Canterbury! Immediately upon my arrival, I added to my British accent knowledge with a lesson from our taxi driver: in order to be a real Brit, you must pronounce Canterbury like a cheese – CanterBRIE (bree) that is! As soon as you step foot here, this rule applies to any word that ends in bary, berry, bury (library = libree, strawberry = strawbree, you get the picture!). Now maybe I’ll blend in…
At this point, I have to take a moment to really acknowledge the work of the entire IFSA-Butler staff. From meeting us at the airport, entertaining us with orientation in London, to risking their chiropractic health dragging our piles of overweight luggage into taxis and across train stations (Thanks again, Charlotte and Oran!), they were nothing short of phenomenal. They helped us check in, find our houses, and even made sure we were safe inside our rooms. Thankfully, they’ll be back up to visit and are planning weekend trips that I can’t wait to take advantage of. Having the entire IFSA-Butler team gives me the feeling that I’ve got a family in London – they even told us to update them on games or performances so they can come cheer us on (Be more adorable, would you?). Meeting the other international students at my university and hearing their stories of travel struggles made me feel even better that I was so well taken care of.
Now back to Canterbury…
I’m currently living in a student house of 5 students with my own bedroom, a kitchen and two bathrooms – defnitely a happy camper. We had a quick orientation around campus, and I was happy to hear that nearly 20% of the University of Kent students are international. The undergraduate student population is about 15,000, so a nice chunk of us are without British accents! Once the fact that I have to actually do schoolwork while I’m here kicks in, I’ll post about the structure of my classes and more on the British academic system!
Canterbury itself is a quaint countryside town in the district of Kent, located southeast of London (just a 50-minute train ride!). Known as the Garden of England, its miles of hillsides is balanced by a modern city centre (bear with me with my British spellings) which is only a 10-minute bus ride or 30-minute walk away from campus. Here you’ll find rows of pubs and small boutiques intermingled with popular stores like Zara, H&M, and Topshop. I was so surprised to see brands like this in Canterbury, but it’s a nice taste of home (and dangerous taste for my wallet). The city itself is so much bigger than I imagined, with more that 70 of these modern shops nested inside streets of stone towers, museums, and beautiful churches (I’ll tell you about the famous Canterbury Cathedral soon)! It’s easy to think you’re in America for a second…until you notice the cobble street you’re walking on or the English stone towers you’re walking through (many more pictures to come soon!)
This week’s been a mix of settling in, exploring, and getting lost on the way to class on a daily basis…you know, the usual.
I’ll keep you updated on what I find! Until then, I learned that it’s common British practice to finish wall posts, text, and any other typed media with “xx.” It’s just like our version of hugs and kisses (xoxo) and does literally stand for “kiss, kiss”. It can be used for different degrees of affection (from flirting to “I love you”) but is most commonly used as a simple touch to add friendliness to a casual message!
So, when in Rome…er…England,