18. Diary Entry: Highlights of the week

Dear diary,

at the beginning of September I went with other students from the University of Siegen on an excursion to Canterbury in England. Actually I don’t study Anglistic, but I had the
opportunity to join the excursion for Studium Generale. Is there any better way to get my last Credit Points than to get them by travelling to Canterbury? Exactly. I can’t explain why, but I have a real passion for Great Britain so I got really excited when I saw that I was admitted to the course.

The journey started on a very early Sunday morning. We wanted to meet at Bismarck Platz at 7 o’clock, but I was really early. I live near the university and there are no busses that early in the morning. My original plan had been my boyfriend driving me to the meeting point, but as he had managed to break his foot just a few days before, I had to quit that. So I ordered a taxi. For half past six – you know, just in case. I was sure I’d be the only one that early, but luckily there were already a few other students waiting with hunched shoulders, trying to ignore the drizzling rain on this misty morning. When I felt the first drops of water coming through my jacket ( I had refused to pack an umbrella, as I had been in England several times before and it was always good weather) the coach finally arrived. I secured a seat next to the window, made myself comfortable and hoped that the weather in England would be – against all prejudices – better than here in Germany.
The journey there went well and we arrived in Canterbury in the early evening. Our
accommodation was one of the student dormitories of the University of Kent. In Siegen I also live in a student dorm so it was really interesting for me to see how the students live in England. I shared my flat with four other girls and we all had single rooms with own bath and shower. That was really great, big plus for the English dormitory. In Siegen we do have single rooms but we share the toilet and shower. But when it comes to the kitchenware I definitely prefer the German ones … I just can’t get used to cooking with gas. I also found it very interesting, that the students in Canterbury are not allowed to stay longer than one term in the students dormitory, the lady from the reception told me that. I think in Siegen I can stay for several years in the dorm. But enough about the accommodation.

On Sunday we had a guided tour through Canterbury. A lovely elderly lady showed us around the town and told us lots of interesting things. Because the weather was so great and all the shops were open we stayed for a little longer, strolled around the city and did some grocery shopping.

One of my highlights was when we went back to Dover on Tuesday. For a first thing we
visited the castle, which was really fun as it seemed to be one of the rare “museums” where you are allowed to “touch” things. Everything was very colourful and we could lie in beds and walk through hidden doors and sit on a throne … the idea behind that is probably to make it interesting for children, but we had a lot of fun as well! The second thing we did in Dover was enjoying the wonderful weather at the white cliffs! Our bus driver brought us to a car park next to some kind of visitor centre from where we followed a path up to some kind of viewing platform. It was such a stunning view! From up there the sea seemed to be just as turquoise as the Caribbean sea even if it was the same grubby sludge as “our” north sea in Germany, but you know, from up there it looked really nice. And of course there were the white cliffs, so majestic. I could have sat there the whole day just watching the sea and the cliffs and the seagulls. But after some time we went back to the bus and left for a little town called deal, this was the place where we would meet again with the other half of our group,who didn’t go into the castle but went hiking. Deal is quite a nice place, it lies directly at the sea with a very typical pebble beach and a little pier.

On Wednesday we went to see the Battle Abbey. Again it was really beautiful weather and it was nice to see all the ruin and imagine what the life at this place would have looked like a thousand years ago. Also outside of the Battle Abbey there were some nice little shops where I and some other girls peeked into. These little shops are one of the many things I like most about England. I miss this kind of shops in Germany. As I didn’t have a lot of money, I couldn’t buy all the lovely things I saw, but when I was in the antique shop I bought a coin from the 25th throne jubilee of the queen (I believe). The coin was supposed to be a souvenir for my brother because he collects all sort of coins. Unfortunately I lost the coin on my way back to Germany…

After visiting the Battle Abbey we moved on to Eastbourne. We arrived there quite early and spend the time with some shopping as there was a little shopping centre. Also I finally got myself some fish and chips – the best ones I’ve ever had in England. Eastbourne is also a town directly at the sea, but it all looked a lot more impressive as in Deal. They have a really beautiful promenade there with lots of flowers and palm trees! Also the pier is a lot bigger than in deal with shops and a restaurant on it. The view from there was just amazing. For Thursday it was planned to spend the day in London. For a lot of the other students this seemed to be the most exciting thing of the whole trip – I wasn’t too excited about it, because I had been in London several times before. I mean I still liked it, I just wasn’t as thrilled as some others. As some of the girls I wanted to “explore” London with were there for the fist time we took part in a walking tour through London which was really interesting even though I had seen a lot of things before. The girl that did the tour was a student from Australia and she was really funny. After the tour we had some time left and as it was really hot that day (I got all sunburned) I went with the other girls to my absolute favourite ice-cream shop in London! It is called Gelupo and they just make the best ice cream I’ve ever had. They always create new flavours. Every time I get there they have new creations. This time I went with “Midsummernight’s Dream” which was a combination of cassis and ricotta if I remember it right. It tasted really good!

My absolute favourite trip of all things we did during the excursion was the one to Leeds
Castle. The park and the castle were just so beautiful, I could have stayed there the whole day. It was an extra plus that on that day there was a food festival in the park! When we arrived there we first had a look at all the wonderful things they offered there. I really liked that the people were so open and friendly – almost everyone who selled something there invited us to come closer and try the different foods. I was once on a food festival in Cologne and there it was totally different: No one offered us something to try. We had to buy everything and if we didn’t like it – our bad. Not so at Leeds Castle, we tried everything we could and finally went with the halloumi-cheese-wraps and some fresh Lemon and Mint Lemonade. Also we couldn’t resist the freshly baked brownies. We also took some with us to take them back home. I’ve never had better brownies than these at Leeds Castle!

For Saturday we didn’t have specific plans. We had a really relaxing morning and went down to Canterbury in the afternoon for a last stroll through the city as most of us wanted to buy some more souvenirs for friends and family in Germany. In the early evening we met with the whole group in a pub. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name right now, but it was really good! The pub itself looked really cosy, we sat at a wooden table in front of a bookshelf with quite old looking books. I had a vegetable burger with chips and it tasted really good. I found it very interesting that in England you get your burgers always without sauce. They have different ones on the table and you can choose which one you want to but on your burger. Anyways – the food was good, the people were good and we had a lovely last evening in Canterbury.