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Journals from England 2008

2008-10-22 Riding the Rails

During these past five weeks in England, few things have remained constant. The less-than-favorable exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the British pound is unfortunately one of those things. As Nottinghams shopping district clearly surpasses McMinnvilles, theres the almost constant temptation to buy, buy, buy. While Ive managed to exhibit a considerable amount of self-control, the young persons rail card offered by National Rail proved too good an opportunity to pass up and, I can safely say, its been my best purchase so far. I have to admit, much of my motivation to study abroad came from the possibility of travel. In England especially, the proximity to the historical and cultural landmarks Ive been reading about/seeing all my life is almost too good to be true; basically, I came in wanting to see it all. Because of the set up of the British university system, this goal is actually more feasible than one would think. Classes meet much less frequently than at Linfield and my schedule in particular gives me a space between Tuesday nights and Thursday afternoons that is perfect for day trips in the beautiful country that surrounds me. Nottingham provides an especially convenient starting point for these adventures, as it is centrally located within the country; travel two hours south and youre in London, two hours north youre in York"you get the picture. For those of you interested in coming to Nottingham in the future, I would definitely recommend this method of travel. Trains may be a little more expensive than a coach, but with a rail card the difference is cut down significantly and the few extra pounds spent are well worth the stress relief trains provide. They cut down on travel time, and allow you to see the England that exists between its cities, without aggravating traffic delays. Plus, theres plenty of time for homework on these journeys, so I feel a little less guilt-ridden when the day is done."this balance of work and play is proving to be the biggest challenge Ive faced! In the past three weeks I have managed to visit Lincoln, Brighton, Leeds, York and London and Im heading to Bath and Salisbury this weekend. Every time I step out of a new station, I become more and more excited knowing that the city I am about to see will be completely different than the ones Ive seen before. I am constantly surprised by Englands diversity and know that, even when my four months are up, therell be much more to see. This, for me, has been one of the most gratifying aspects of my study abroad experience so far. Until next time, ~Claire Oliver

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