Each semester IFSA-Butler students chronicle their adventures and experiences as they live and study in different countries. Read a firsthand perspective of how cultural and educational differences shape their journey.
I spent the last weekend in January on a homestay in Penrith, a town in the northern English county of Cumbria, along with a number of other people on the IFSA-Butler program. Every IFSA-Butler student here at the University of Edinburgh goes on a homestay, where they stay with a British family in their home over the weekend. While some families will host many students, my hosts had just me and my friend Katie. On Friday afternoon, we boarded a bus that took us on the two and a half hour drive to Penrith. Our host family picked us up from the town center. They lived in a flat about ten minutes outside of the town center. Once we got there, we ate a quick meal and then headed to bed.
After breakfast the next morning, we walked into the town center. Penrith is home to St. Andrew’s Church, parts of which were constructed in the 12th century, while it was completed in the 1700s. The churchyard also contains two monuments from the 10th century, the Giant’s Grave and the Giant’s Thumb. After seeing the church, we walked to the ruins of Penrith Castle. It was built in the 15th century and was granted to the future Richard the Third in 1471. After his death, the castle passed through a number of owners and eventually fell into ruin. We also visited a small museum in the local visitor’s center that had everything from ancient artifacts from the area up through displays about Penrith during the World Wars.
After that, we had a relaxing night. Katie and I completed a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle of Tower Bridge. Later, we went to a nearby pub called Cross Keys for a pint. The next morning, Katie made breakfast and I did the dishes, then we packed up and walked into town to catch the bus back to Edinburgh. All in all, it was nice to get out of the city for a weekend. I definitely recommend the homestay to future IFSA-Butler students. That’s all from me, and I’ll see you next time!
Before I begin video blogging about my experience abroad this semester, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is Elissa and I’m a junior at Connecticut College in New London, Connecticut, although I’m originally from California. I study computer science and I’m getting an interdisciplinary certificate in Arts & Technology. I’m spending this spring semester at The University of Edinburgh in Scotland, where I’m taking some courses in computer science but also taking courses in humanities, which I haven’t done in a while.
I decided to study away in Edinburgh after visiting Scotland a couple of years ago and spending some time in the city. We were here during the festivals, and I had the chance to see some shows during the Fringe. The vibrancy and accessibility of the arts in the city were definitely a big part of my desire to study here. As I learned more about the University, I found out that it has the best School of Informatics, which encompasses computer science, in the United Kingdom, so it seemed like a perfect fit.
While I’m here, I’m planning to get involved in the student theater groups. I’m already working on one show, The Pillowman, at Bedlam Theatre, which is the home of the Edinburgh University Theatre Company, and I’ll be lighting King Lear, which is being produced by the Edinburgh University Shakespeare Company, later in the semester.
I’m also excited to explore the city, Scotland, and the rest of the UK while I’m here. I’ve climbed Calton Hill a few times and visited the castle, but I haven’t gotten to Arthur’s Seat, the tallest hill in Edinburgh, yet. This weekend, a friend and I are going to our homestay in northern England in a town called Penrith, so I’m getting a start on my goal of seeing the rest of the UK!